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Category Archives: Crying

A sharp pain echoes through my heart

Before the tears begin to fall.

And in the darkness of my room

I cry.

For everything that’s ever hurt me-

And all the things that ever will,

Alone in the blackness-

I cry.

And the tears become sobs

And the sobs become screams

And the screams become prayers-

That I cry.

Are Your arms wide enough-

Is Your love strong enough-

To comfort this child

When I cry?

Let me hear Your gentle words

Let me feel Your presence here.

Let me know I’m not alone-

As I cry.

But You are strangely silent

And I feel no arms around me

As I call out Your name

And I cry.

I wail until my heart is empty-

Till crystal pain no longer flows.

And fall asleep among the teardrops-

That I cried.

Your angels sang a lullaby-

Your gift of tears- a sweet release,

And You were with me all the while

I cried.            

Lonnette Harrell

Last night I cried, because I thought about my mother, as I often do. I know she must be sinking farther and farther into dementia, and I can’t do anything about it. I love her and miss her, and I wish things had ended differently. (But I guess she made her choice also.) I wish I could comfort her, in that far-away place she now dwells. How can you be angry with someone who is now probably like a confused child?

I cry because I remember her fear of dementia, and her fear of having to live that way. I cry because I tried so hard to care for her and please her, and she called me hateful names (while she was still in her right mind.) I cry because I’ve always loved her, and I just wanted her to love me back.

I cry because I wish that I could soothe her fears, and I can’t. All of this is progressing so rapidly, and I could see it plainly awhile back. We were told that it would not get better. I knew that her care needs were more than I could handle anymore, and I was already 3 1/2 years into total exhaustion, and sick myself. There should be no shame in saying that I could not continue on as I was. I simply could not. I knew that I was going to die.  But my brother didn’t get it. Now maybe he will.

How frightening it must be, to be trapped in your very physically ill body, losing your mind. It seems like some kind of cruel nightmare, that has no ending. She was so afraid of becoming like the people we saw in the halls of the nursing home (where she was for 5 1/2 months of rehab.) I always reassured her, and tried to help her through her confusion, and prayed that it would pass. It really accelerated after her hip surgery. She was never really the same after that, and we were warned by the Ortho doctor that many elderly people are affected that way by the anesthesia.

And now I can’t get to her. She might as well be in a castle with a drawbridge and a moat, instead of a small house in a small town with my angry brother, and a caregiver. She’s isolated. She probably wouldn’t want to see me anyway.

And I could not go back without becoming totally involved in her care, and I am not physically able to do that anymore. I have been very sick lately, and I just can no longer take the stress of her care, or of her emotional treatment of me. 

That is why she was so much better off in the Assisted Living, where she could get socialization, food she loved, and medical assistance and supervision.  There was a Memory Care Unit there as well, if she needed it later on. But my brother was determined to bring her home, and now he is probably overwhelmed as well. (You cannot possibly know what it is like to care for all her needs until you’ve done it. I could not keep up anymore, and the stress of it all was killing me.) I needed help desperately.

I can only reach her through my prayers. I ask God to comfort her, and strengthen her. I ask Him to take care of her, as I no longer can. I ask Him to soften her heart towards me, and let her memories be of our happy times together (and there were quite a few, in spite of our problems.) I ask God to tell her I love her.

But when I can’t take the pain in my heart anymore, I cry…

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“Crying while driving” has a nice poetic ring to it, but it is not a wise thing to do. But when you feel like crying, wisdom is the last thing on your mind. So why I am crying while driving? Because I was on my way home once again, from the nursing home, feeling exhausted and in despair.

I cannot reveal yet the total story of things lately, but in time I will. (So it is much sadder than the words I write.) Tonight I arrived, with a basketful of clean clothes for my mom, and proceeded to put them neatly in her cabinet. Blouses on one side and pants on the other. I used to combine them into outfits for her, but she said that she would rather pick out her own combinations, and that makes a lot of sense to me, as it is one of the few things that she has any choice about these days. The long sleeved blouses and slacks are on the bottom shelf; the short sleeved blouses and her gowns are on the middle shelf. The top shelf is reserved for the things she doesn’t need as frequently, like extra boxes of Kleenex, red bedroom shoes, and toilet tissue. And in the separate, but attached, cabinet on the right, there are the diapers, tactfully called “briefs” in this world where there’s only so much stark truth that can be tolerated.

I had also bought a standing mirror for her to use, while putting on her makeup and combing her hair. The bedside tray tables in the nursing home do not have mirrors, like the ones in the hospital do. She had been using a hand held mirror, but this would be much more convenient, and less hassle. I am always arriving with things that (I hope) will improve the quality of her life, in this place she dislikes so very much.

The lady in the room with my mom, called us “angels” and said how sweet it is that we do Betty’s laundry, and fold and put away her clothes. She never had children, but has 2 nieces from Birmingham, who are helping to facilitate her move into an assisted living apartment, on the same property where she previously lived, in a military retirement village. Since the nieces are so far away, their visits are limited, and so this little French lady thinks the attention that we give my mom is wonderful. Betty praised Rob to the skies, calling him “so special” (as he is actually doing her laundry, bless his heart.) And as an afterthought, she said, “Lonnette is special too.”

Earlier, I noticed a grouping of towels on the end of her bed. They were neatly folded, except for the washcloth, and she explained, “Those are my towels that I’m going to wash out before I go to bed.” My mind did cartwheels at that statement, but somehow I managed a weak smile, as though I understood. This was just another day in the land of dementia, and it feels like being in the Twilight Zone. One moment things are going well, and the next they aren’t. It is very disconcerting and confusing. I’m still trying to accept it.

My mom was a very smart lady all of her life. Unable to afford college, she worked as a secretary at one place or another. Once she worked for the Coca-Cola company in Atlanta, and after moving to Florida, she worked on one of the military bases for the Comptroller’s office, until she retired. She was an excellent, efficient secretary, and always gave it her all. She was also one of the most organized people that I have ever known (with regard to paperwork, particularly.) And still is, or was.

We brought 2 Krystal corn-dogs (by request) and she was busily (and happily) eating them, as we talked. (She hates the nursing home food, and I don’t blame her. I had a dinner there at a luau one evening, and I didn’t really like it either.) So as often as I can, I bring her treats, or make picnic dinners or snacks for her. Sometimes I’ll even cook a casserole that she enjoys.

I waited for the nurse to make her nighttime drug pass, and asked if I could speak to her for a moment. We discussed the antibiotic, Cipro, that my mom has been on for yet another urinary tract infection, and I remind her to make a note that she has had clostridium difficile before, as a result of that same antibiotic (in excess.) (My mom’s stomach has been upset for several days, and we suspect the Cipro.) At any rate, my mom then decided that she needed to go to the bathroom, and after helping her safely into the room, we resumed our conversation.

Imagine my shock, when they told me that she now refuses to take a shower! I remembered that a week ago she had refused on a Monday evening, declaring that she had already had her shower earlier in the day. This was part of an elaborate psychotic (or hallucinatory) episode that I will discuss in more detail in another post. At any rate, she had not had a shower, and she refused to have one. Tonight they told me that she refused again. (In the nursing home, they only get 2 showers a week–one on Monday, and one on Thursday.) They then proceeded to tell me that she refused last Thursday’s shower also. (This is totally out of character for her.)

“So, you’re telling me that she has not taken a shower since Thursday a week ago?” I asked in disbelief. (She last had a shower on a Thursday. Then she missed a Monday, a Thursday, and now another Monday.) This meant that she would not have a chance at a shower again, until this coming Thursday.

 “Are the nurses (along with the assistants) involved in encouraging her to take a shower?,” I asked, exasperated.

“Yes,” Mrs. B answered, “But she turns us down also. We thought we would speak to you about it, and maybe you could encourage her to agree to a shower.”

About that time, my mom was ready to exit the bathroom, and our conversation ended.

Since it was getting late (for nursing home residents, anyway) we got up to leave. Then my mom tried once again to get up from her wheelchair, which was at the foot of her bed. I asked her to please let me get it near the bedside for her, and reminded her (for the hundreth time) that we needed to lock the brakes on it every time before she got up. She stood, and then pivoted into position on the side of the bed, and sat down. (They have recently informed me that most of her transfers are unsafe, so they want her to be supervised, but she often attempts the transfers without them.) As I told her goodnight and kissed her goodbye, I realized that she could not yet lift her feet into the bed alone, because of her hip surgery. I bent down to lift her legs, and she told me that she only needed help with the right leg (the side of her operation) and then she showed me that she was able to lift the left leg into the bed.

“That’s good,” I praised her.

She answered, “And when I can do the other one, then I can go home.”

Love hurts.

So that is why I was crying while driving. It might not make total sense to you right now, but it will in the days to come…

 

Please see other articles that I have written here:

http://www.associatedcontent.com/user/109497/lonnette_harrell.html

How much can a heart break until it can’t break anymore? How much sorrow can a person endure until they are numb? Apparently, I haven’t reached that place yet, as I am still crying. I have been strong beyond my ability. (Mainly because it wasn’t my ability, but the Lord’s, that has brought me this far.) Can I trust Him to carry me further still?

There have been no mountaintop experiences in my life for a long time-just valleys that seem to never end. They say that it’s in the valleys that you develop character. (Whoever they are.) I wonder how much pain they have survived, to know such a thing, though I do believe it’s true.  I must be full of character by now, and I’m so ready to cry “uncle.” (It’s an expression for saying “I give up–enough’s enough.”)

But how much is enough? How hot does the fire get, before you run screaming out of it (or worse, are consumed by it?) How lonely do you have to feel, before someone hugs you tightly and says, “It will be okay.”  (Even if you know it won’t.) How invisible (in your pain) do you have to become, before you completely disappear?

Tonight there is another break in my heart, or perhaps it has shattered like broken glass, in a million pieces. (But I suspect there is still more to break.)

I went to the nursing home this evening, and I found my mom sitting on her bed, eating her dinner. She looked very exhausted and tired. There was a strong odor of urine in the room, though I didn’t mention it.

I had tried to call her all day the day before, but had not been able to reach her. I was not able to visit yesterday, as I was not feeling well.  And I had tried all day today as well. (I go at least every other day. Sometimes every day, when I am able.) After calling and calling, I realized that she could no longer figure out how to answer the phone. My brother had left a cell phone for her, and had painted green where the “answer” button was, and red where the “hang up” button was, but the paint or marker had worn off.  So now, she would fumble with the buttons, completely frustrated, trying to answer, with no success. And I would begin to worry when I couldn’t reach her.

This nursing home does not have a phone by the bed, so if you want to reach the outside world, or talk to your loved one, you have to have a cell phone. Cell phones are extremely difficult for the elderly, (and even sometimes for the not so elderly.)

(I have to back up a little to tell the story.) My mom had a fabulous roommate until Saturday. Sophie went home on Saturday morning. It was a very sad time for her and my mom, as they had grown to love each other. They were allies against the nursing home world, and together they could overcome almost every obstacle or trauma. Truly it was a lovely friendship–one made in heaven. On the day she left, my mom requested that Sophie play her German music one more time. My mom had become very fond of it.

Sophie always provided atmosphere in the room. On certain nights, you would think you were in a 5-Star Hotel. Sophie even had a fish, swimming in a serene aquarium, and at night before bedtime, she would dim the lights and play beautiful classical music, or her German songs. (She was from Germany, and had a lovely accent.) It was a charming atmosphere for a nursing home room, while Sophie was there.

Just outside the window, Sophie’s daughters would fill the feeders with bird seed, and the birds would quickly eat all of it in a couple of days. It kept my mom and Sophie entertained, watching the birds that flew in daily.

On the same day that Sophie left, Addie arrived. Addie is a large, very confused, and aggressive woman. It was a total culture shock after sweet, precious soft-spoken Sophie. Addie immediately wanted the blinds closed. She could not figure out why she was there, and she cursed under her breath every moment. When I would try to visit my mom, I would often pull the curtain, so that we could talk in peace, but Addie would pull it back abruptly, without warning. She ordered me around, and I did numerous tasks for her, and she kept asking where the remote for the TV was. Sadly, I had to tell her, that they had said that the maintenance man would bring one–but he never did. Not in weeks. (This has really been hard on my mom, who has a broken hip, and can’t get out of bed to change the channel.) Since her eyesight has grown worse, it doesn’t leave anything for her to do, but lie in bed. She tries to read the paper, or a magazine now and then, but she can’t see well enough anymore, to read for very long.

Addie must have asked 20 times in 30 minutes, about the remote control. Then she wanted to know a million other things…over, and over, and over again. I was nearly crazy, so I know my mom was. She has to live with this 24/7. Even in the night, Addie will curse and say, “I can’t wait to get out of this hell hole. Or, “Oh, God.” (ETC.)

My mom had broken her right foot and her left leg, and had received therapy, and was about to go home, when she fell one night, on her way to the bathroom, and broke her hip. Now, after a painful surgery, she is once again on another regimen of physical therapy, and this time it is very painful, and even more difficult. In order to get through it, she has to have her rest.

Day after day, we all answered Addie’s questions, even though we grew increasingly more frustrated.  Finally last Sunday, we decided to complain. My favorite nurse (a male) was filling in on my mom’s hall on Sunday afternoon. He usually works on the other hall. When I arrived, much to my surprise, my mom was in her wheelchair, putting on lipstick (something she has not done in weeks), preparing to go to complain with us. (I thought this was very brave.)

I told the nurse very politely, that the lady was driving my mom crazy, and that I felt she wasn’t getting any rest. He said that he would submit a complaint, and for me to check back. On Wednesday, I went back and asked him if he’d heard anything, and he said that they would never tell him anything, bu that they would contact us. I told him that I had not heard a word.

The CNA, who often works with my mom, agreed that Addie was driving everyone crazy, and said that my mom had finally gotten her told a few times. (I guess in her frustration, she couldn’t take anymore.) The male nurse said that he and the CNA (Certified Nursing Assistant) would file another complaint. He then told me to check with a nurse (I’ll leave out her name to protect the innocent) who would be working on Friday from 2 p.m. through the entire night. He indicated that if I complained again to her, that should take care of it.

So that brings us back to this evening (Friday.) As I said, I walked in and my mom was sitting on the side of the bed, finishing her dinner. She told me that Addie had put on her (my mom’s) clothes, had wet them, and put them in a bag in her wheelchair. (So that explained the horrible smell when I walked in.) My nose led me to the bag.

By this time, I’d had it! I was glad that we had come to complain again. This was just too much.  (Addie was in the dining hall at this time.) When the nurse came in, we explained what had transpired all through the week, as well as what I had just found.  

She said, “You mean that Addie is putting on your mom’s clothes, and then wetting them?” I answered, “That’s what she said, and you can smell the urine.” She agreed, and offered to wash the clothes, as I cleaned my mom’s wheelchair, and Rob gathered up the rest of her clothes to take home and wash. (But none of us could understand how Addie could possibly fit in my mom’s clothes.)

The nurse left the room, and I put away some gowns and clothes that I had brought for my mom. I finished cleaning her wheelchair with antibacterial wipes, and also cleaned her bedside tray. About this time, the nurse returned and asked to see me outside.

She and the CNA were waiting by the entrance, and the CNA proceeded to tell me that my mom had wet the clothes. (This took a moment to process.) “I’m so sorry”, I apologized. “I believed what my mom told me, as she is not one to lie, and she seemed so sure about what had happened.”

We still agreed, however, that regardless of who wet the clothes, Addie was still a problem, and the nurse agreed to file another complaint.

The CNA told me that my mom was getting worse mentally. She said, “She’s in and out.” I told her and the nurse, that my mom had been a brilliant woman all her life, and had lived completely independently until now. I assured them that while she did have a little confusion and some minor temporary memory problems now and then, that she had never experienced the kind of confusion she was now experiencing, after the surgery. I also told them that for the earlier part of this week, she seemed completely clear to me, except for one or two remarks that made no sense.

They said that they would be having her evaluated by the psychiatrist on Wednesday. I asked if I would be told what the evaluation was, and the nurse said that I should call the unit nurse early Wednesday morning, (early being before 7:00 a.m. when the psychiatrist would come) and tell her I would like to speak with the doctor. (More runaround probably. I won’t hold my breath, that I will actually learn anything, but we’ll see.)

Rob and I had been on our way to dinner, on this Friday evening, but things had gotten so complicated that we weren’t able to go. When I got back into my mom’s room, she asked if she could get in her wheelchair, so that we could go for a little walk. (I could not say no–dinner or no dinner for us. I just could not leave her right now.) So I said that would be fine, and called for the CNA to transfer her to the wheelchair, as she can’t stand right now, and it is a tedious process of moving her legs and body in a certain way, to get into the chair.

I went out into the hallway to wait. I found a corner nook, sat down with Rob, and began to cry. It was just too much. I was still trying to process what I had just been told, and the sadness of it all.  The tears were streaming down my face so much, that I had to go to a nearby restroom and get some tissue.

In a few minutes, my mom was wheeled out into the hall, and I tried to hide my tears, though she noticed I was sniffling, and asked if I had a cold.  (I do–a 3 week cold, so that was no lie.)

I apologized to Rob about dinner, and asked if he wanted to go eat alone, or do some errands. He said he would call his mom, while we walked. (His mom is in Assisted Living in Central Florida.)

So Betty and I escaped (at least for a moment.) I took her through the double doors that led to the atrium, where the privileged lived. It was a large open area in the Senior Living residence area. We had visited it before, to see how the “other half” lived. What a contrast between the nursing home, that was tucked away in the back of the building, and the affluence of those who lived in the retirement apartments.

We had a very good time. I told her that we were going to run away. We laughed about that, and wished we could. An elderly woman waved to us from her window that overlooked the atrium, and we waved back. We looked at the bowling area, the pool table, the puzzle area (where 3 dimensional castles had been built, as well as what appeared to be the London Bridge.) We wheeled right up to the fancy dining hall, and then right into it. The lights were dimmed for the evening, and there was only one worker in the back, who seemed to ignore us.

“Wouldn’t you like to eat in a place like this every night?”, my mom asked. (It was a far cry from the nursing home residents’ dining area.)

Then we found the pool. I had always smelled chlorine in the atrium, but never saw a pool. Finally, I reasoned that perhaps they didn’t have one, since the whole place was senior citizens, and maybe it would not be safe. But we found it, just off the dining hall. It was a very small rectangular shaped pool for swimming laps, or doing aquacize.

The sun was still up, so I wheeled my mom outside into the fresh air–something she has not experienced much of since mid June. We walked completely around the building, a very nice long distance, and then back into the front entrance of the apartments. Sadly, we made our way back to her room, but we were happy with the nice walk we’d had, and I made a mental note that I could take her to the atrium sometimes, and we could have our snack there. (I don’t think the people at the retirement apartments would care, and it would be a nice change of scene.)

Once back in the room, she wanted a soda and some crackers, so we sat together at the foot of her bed, and ate peanut butter and cheese crackers. I bring lots of snacks for her, as she has lost 30 pounds since coming to the nursing home (and she is always giving them away to her favorite helpers.) Hey, it doesn’t hurt to bribe the best ones.

So finally, at 8:45 p.m. we said good night, and I kissed her goodbye.

Rob and I decided to go ahead and eat out, and enjoyed a nice dinner (at 9:00 p.m.) and then on the way home, my cell phone rang. (I believe she said it was the nursing home Director Of Nursing.) She was very brash, harsh, and overbearing. She said, “My nurse told me you were upset.” I explained to her that I was no longer upset, but that we did have a problem with my mom’s roommate. She told me that there were only 2 “female beds” available, and they expected a lady to return from the hospital to one, and that the other one was in a room with a lady that sometimes “cried out.” I tried to explain to her that we didn’t want to move my mom, as she had the best room in the nursing home, with a view of the golf course, and lots of bird feeders outside her window. (She said that she could not move the other lady without her family’s permission. And that she (Addie) had previously been in the room with the lady that called out, and her (Addie’s) family had asked for her to be moved.)

At a complete loss, I asked her to please not move my mom to either of those rooms, as she was happy with her bed by the window, (it was just that the other lady was driving her crazy.) This woman was not compassionate or kind. She would not let me say a word, and I finally gave up in total exasperation, (deciding that maybe the devil we knew, was better than the one we didn’t know.)

I asked if Addie was due to go home anytime soon, and she said perhaps in a week. So that was that. I slammed my cell phone shut. So this was the culmination of all those complaints, trying to follow nursing home protocol. I was in the van, and the tears began to fall again. Tonight I was finding the world just too cruel, and even though I have been extemely strong through all this, there are those days when it’s just too hard. And so I cry, and for a moment, I let myself experience the horrible reality that has become my life. (And most importantly, my mom’s life.) And then I dry my tears, bandage my breaking heart, and go on, afraid to even think about more than the next few hours…

As we drove in the van to tell my mom that my step-dad had died, my heart was absolutely broken. I wondered if her heart could take the news, and I was so glad that we were going to tell her in person, for no other way could even be an option. She had previously suffered a heart attack, and I knew that this shock would be precarious to her health, so we wanted to be there for her. I was in shock myself from the events of the day, and felt like I was in another world, where things happened and I was watching from afar, with no say in the outcome, and no way to change the devastating results.

I will never forget that I was the first one in the door. My mom had said that she was exhausted after her morning visit to the hospital. (We had gone early at the request of a nurse, who told me on the phone, that she didn’t think my dad would make it through the day. My mom knew that he had gotten worse, but she didn’t know about that comment. I just made sure that I got her there sooner than we normally went, in case the nurse’s feeling was right. I felt as I stood by his bedside, that this would be the last time I would ever see him alive, and the pain was unbearable, as the tears spilled from my eyes, and ran down my cheeks. I cried for him, I cried for my mom, I cried for our family, and I cried for the great loss I was personally experiencing. But I did not cry out loud, as I would later, because I was trying not to further upset my mother.)

As I entered her house, much to my surprise, I did not find her napping, but sitting at the kitchen table. With an absolutely desperate look on her face she said, “Lonnette, Sam died.”

How can I ever tell you all the feelings that welled up in me at that moment? I could not understand how she could possibly know this, as all the nurses had been informed that we were going to tell her in person, and that we would ask her if she wanted to see him, before they moved him from the room. They knew how important it was to us, to tell her in person. (So I was fairly sure that they were not to blame.) So who was?

It turns out that the Organ Donor people had called her to ask if she would be willing to donate his organs. Can you imagine? Getting a call like that, when you did not even know he was dead? I was so mad, that it was a wonder I didn’t have a heart attack. I wanted to punch someone, and even now as I write this, I have to fight the urge to scream with rage.  (Please know that I think organ donation is wonderful, but to approach someone about getting their loved ones organs, before they have even been told he was dead, was a royal mix-up.) How could something like this happen? It was cruel and heartless. It was inexcusable.

My mom was finally able to explain that the woman on the other end of the phone was horrified, when she learned that my mother had not yet been informed of Sam’s death. She told her to call the hospital immediately. (Imagine my mom trying to deal with the fact that he died, and being told that way.)

Once we somehow partially recovered from the shock of that situation, we asked my mom if she wanted to see my dad before they moved him. We told her that it was entirely up to her, and that we would do whatever she wanted. She decided that she wanted to see him. So we set off for the hospital immediately.

When we got to the Critical Care Unit, the nurses there had apparently heard what had happened, and expressed dismay and sorrow. We understood that it wasn’t their fault. There had been a terrible mistake in communication somehow.

We all went into the room together-my mom, my husband, my brother, his wife, his son, my daughter, and myself.

I began to cry immediately upon seeing him. Huge sobs of anguish found their way to the surface, and my husband gently whispered in my ear, to remember that Sam wasn’t there anymore. He held me tightly as I cried. My mom was in total shock, as she sat in a chair next to his bed. They had lowered the bed from the height it had previously been.

(During his hospitalization, and while he was still responsive, earlier in the whole scenario, I had made him a gift basket, with some golfing magazines, and some other small gifts, along with a little adorable stuffed bulldog. The magazines were never touched, because he was just too sick to read them, though he loved golf, but the little bulldog became a mascot of sorts, representing his tenacious fight to live. As he was moved from room to room, the little bulldog would always mysteriously end up right by his side. Once in Critical Care, my mom and I came in, and like so many nights at that point, my dad was heavily sedated, and not aware of our presence that we could tell, though we always talked to him lovingly, just in case he could hear us. There on his shoulder, a nurse had placed the little bulldog. It looked like a flea on a giant, as my dad was 6’4″. Even lying down in a hospital bed, he was amazingly tall, and had an overwhelming presence.

So as we entered the room, after his death, once again a nurse had placed the little bulldog on the bed beside him. My mother was in complete shock, as I mentioned, but she immediately grabbed the little dog, and hung onto it for dear life. She could not cry; she could only stare in disbelief at her beloved husband of 44 years. My brother’s face had tears rolling down it, and my daughter was distraught, as we all were. My husband was trying to console me. But I could not control my sobs of grief, and I did not try. I wept for all that he had meant to me since I was 7 years old. Sam often would tell me he loved me, as the three of us watched TV, when I visited their home, as an adult. I must have thanked him over and over, in recent years, for the wonderful care that he gave my mom. He retired to take care of her. She is an insulin dependent diabetic, with many other health problems. He was the one I ran to when I had a problem, (not so much emotionally), but to get advice, and for him to fix things. I used to say that if the world broke, Sam could fix it. And now it was broken beyond repair, and he would not be here to help.

One of the things that I noticed, as I walked into the room, was the peacefulness. There were no machines clicking, no respirator noises, no blood pressure beeps. Just quietness, except for the sounds of sorrow.

As painful as it was, to be gathered with my immediate family around my dad’s death bed, I am so glad that we made the decision to be there one last time together. Never again in the mad dash of informing relatives, making funeral arrangements, ordering flowers, etc., was there ever a chance to grieve quite like that again. It was always too public, and there were so many times when we needed to be strong for each other. So in those moments by his bed, I grieved, and felt a pain that was raw and guttural, in its depth.The sounds that came from my throat were literal wails. It was only later that I wondered how it sounded to those outside the door. But in that moment I could care less, and I couldn’t have stopped crying if I was ordered to.

I cried at other times, in my room, and in the presence of my husband, but it was never like that day. In fact, my husband and I are ordained ministers, so we did the funeral, and we sang the songs, only by God’s grace. At the visitation, I shook hands, greeted, and hugged everyone, as I stood by the casket, and directed them to my mother, who was also greeting people nearby. My brother drug in my dad’s golf clubs, and placed them by the coffin, at the visitation. It was the right thing to do.

When the extended family (not immediate) first gathered at my mom’s house, the night before the visitation, I remember being so frustrated, because there was laughter coming from the kitchen, and I wondered how anyone could laugh at a time like this. Didn’t they realize that Sam was gone, and was never coming back? I could not stand the sounds of it, and so I had to leave. (I was exhausted from several weeks of his illness, surgery, and hospitalization. I was also emotionally and physically drained, from caring for and worrying about my mom, and from now trying to deal with his death. My mom was resting in her bedroom, so I knew that she was away from the laughter.

The funeral was wonderful. Even the funeral directors said it was the best funeral they had ever witnessed, and since they see at least one every day, we were pleased. (I believe the reason that they said that, was because it was so personal. Everyone who spoke knew my Sam well, and therefore everything came from the heart. My brother spoke of how his dad had “loved him back home” after many years of a wandering, wild lifestyle. My stepbrother told how my parents had taken him, and his brothers, into our home for awhile, to try and give them a better life. It didn’t seem to work initially as there were too many adjustments, but later he got a chance to come back, and it made a huge difference in his life. Today he is a lawyer, and so is my husband, so I guess we’re well legally represented. Sam came from a family of 9, so one of his sisters spoke for the family, and shared what a wonderful person and brother he was. His co-worker and golfing buddy shared his memories of Sam, on behalf of his friends. I told my memories of him, as the biggest man that I had ever seen in my life, at that time. He wore a size 13 shoe. I spoke of his many talents, and told of my love for him, and of my mom and dad’s love for each other. My husband and I sang “Precious Memories”, “Amazing Grace”, and a beautiful song at the end of the funeral, “There’s A Light At The End of the Darkness.” (Thank God for that!) My husband told everyone how to be sure that we would all get to see Sam again in heaven–by accepting Jesus, and inviting Him into our hearts. It was a moving and beautiful service, and Sam deserved a wonderful send off.

So here I am-almost 3 years later, remembering his death, and holding onto the love I will always have for him. There is a light at the end of the darkness…

Please see other articles that I have written here:

http://www.associatedcontent.com/user/109497/lonnette_harrell.html

This poem will sound like I’m worse off than I am. Actually I wrote this some time ago when I must have felt as equally sad. I take heart in the fact that I can’t remember now what had me feeling that low.

Actually, I went out to dinner tonight with my husband, and we are going to spend the rest of the evening in our new matching cozy chairs, reading and enjoying hot chocolate, while scented candles burn and the fireplace flickers. Sounds nice, doesn’t it? 🙂

But I am adding this poem to let you know that I have felt this way this past week, and apparently long before. The kind of attacks I’ve been through for a solid week, without intervention from the one man (the owner of the site) who could have stopped it all, can leave you feeling depleted and disillusioned. But I will never be sorry for the ministry I had to hurting people there, nor will I forget the healing I received as well.

Last night I went back to the site where all the drama and cruelty occurred, (to retrieve some poems I had written, but not copied) and saw that I have quickly been replaced. But somehow I know from the sweet notes you’ve written me, that we will not soon forget the time we shared our hearts, our struggles, and our grief. After I retrieved my poems, I deleted my account, and I am hoping that today really will be the end of all the cruelty, and bad memories. I will hold onto the memory of the love those of us who were grieving had for each other, and the encouragement we gave one another, and the prayers we prayed. Although we were all hurting, we found time to reach out to each other, and our burdens were lifted, if only for a little while. But the friendships are lasting, and I will hold each one of you in my heart forever.

Please pray for my physical and emotional healing, as I try to recover from this horrible experience.

This will give you some idea of the sorrow:

                   Tonight

Tonight I’ve had enough.
I’m tired of being brave.
I struggle to breathe,
Because life has made me weary.
It didn’t just happen today…
It’s been a gradual decline.
Too long without a teardrop-
So tonight I’m crying.
Tonight I feel alone.
Broken in heart and spirit.
Searching for the scattered pieces-
To glue them back together.
And I have lost the will to care
Where I misplaced my laughter,
In a closet of lost longing-
So tonight I’m crying.
Tonight I’ve given up-
At least for today.
Tomorrow can decide itself
If a day’s worth waking up to.
My whole soul aches,
And deep inside the darkness
I am full of searing sadness.
So tonight I’m crying.

Tonight I’m disillusioned
At all that life is not.
Tired of chasing rainbows
And running into whirlwinds.
Angry at all that I have lost
That cannot be regained.
A silent scream within me roars-
So tonight I’m crying.

Tonight my heart’s encased in ice,
Yet somehow, slowly melting
And my eyes stare into nothingness,
But my feet keep moving.
And everyday no one sees
That the mirror has cracked,
And the glass has shattered-
So tonight I’m crying.

Tonight there’s nothing left
Of a soul that cries for justice,
In a world that will not listen
When the way is just too rough.
Trampled on the roadway
Of superficial living-
People rush right by me,
So tonight I’m crying.

Can anyone hear me?
                                              Lonnette   (Lonnie)

After listening to Roy Orbison’s “Only The Lonely” again, I wanted to know more about him. He had one of the most incredible voices I’ve ever heard. And this was in the day when there were no studio enhancements to speak of.  There were no elaborate sound boards, and mixing systems back then either. You plugged in your instruments and microphone, and you either sang well or you didn’t. (He did!)

Nik Dirga wrote in a Roy Orbison CD review, “Roy Orbison was the voice of sorrow. But sorrow never sounded quite so sweet. For nearly 30 years, Orbison was the quintessential spokesman for the brokenhearted, with his trademark sunglasses, hiding his eyes, so all you would focus on was the voice.”

And by the way, he was not blind, as many people believe. One night when he was about to perform, he realized that he had left his glasses on the plane. He did suffer from poor eyesight, and so in desperation, he grabbed a pair of prescription sunglasses that he had with him. The band thought they looked cool, and a legend was born.

Even though Orbison originally signed on with Sun Records (as did Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash, Jerry Lee Lewis, and Carl Perkins), he had only limited success there (Ooby Dooby-1956.) He then contracted with RCA for a short while, and eventually went on to sign with Monument Records in Nashville. Fred Foster urged him to break with his previous style, and he started writing his own songs, and co-writing with Joe Melson, and later Bill Dees. He also created a very unique sound in rock and roll, with his almost operatic voice, complete with falsetto, and a three octave range. His release of “Only the Lonely” reached #2 on the charts in 1960. (See yesterday’s post to hear this phenomenal song.)

He was the headliner in 1963 in England, on a show that featured the Beatles, not yet popular in the U. S.

He was an outstanding songwriter, most remembered for his gutwrenching ballads of lost love. (And of course, for his infamous “Oh, Pretty Woman”, released in 1964, which became a worldwide hit.)

Hearing his sad songs, you would naturally assume that he had suffered the greatest heartbreak of any man on earth, but that was to come later.

His life was indeed tragic. His first wife, Claudette, died in a 1966 motorcycle accident. From research, it seems that Roy and Claudette were on separate bikes, and her motorcycle crashed into a truck, that unexpectedly pulled in front of her. She died an hour or so later from multiple injuries. (Earlier he had written the Everly Brothers’ hit, Claudette, about his wife.)  After her death, he found it difficult to write for quite awhile.  To deal with his grief, he immersed himself in concert engagements.

Then in 1968, just 2 years later, he was on tour in England, when he received the news that his house in Hendersonville, Tennessee had burned down, and 2 of his 3 sons had perished in the fire. The youngest son, Wesley, was rescued from the fire, by Roy’s parents.

And in 1973, his older brother, Grady, was killed in an auto accident, while on his way to spend Thanksgiving with Roy.

In an interview on CBS Morning News, Roy said, “Through the grace of a loving God and Jesus Christ, and my faith, and good friends and kindred souls, and people who have been through things that I had just gone through-through their love and understanding, also through the career, I worked my way through that…”

During these years, he continued to tour worldwide, and married his second wife, Barbara, in 1968. She was a of German descent, and later became his manager.

In 1978, he collapsed while running up some bleachers, and as a result, discovered that he needed coronary bypass surgery.

He was offered an opening slot on the Eagles 1980 tour, and later released a duet, “That Loving You Feeling Again”, with Emmylou Harris. Several famous singing stars including Linda Ronstadt, Don McClean, and Van Halen covered his songs, and re-releases of his own songs made him popular in the U. S. again, as a concert performer.  In 1987, he was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.  That same year he also recorded a duet remake, with k.d. lang, of his hit Crying

In the late 80s, he achieved notoriety as a member of the Traveling Wilburys, with band members Bob Dylan, Tom Petty, George Harrison, and Jeff Lynne.

Orbison was on the brink of an amazing comeback, when he died suddenly of a massive heart attack, at the age of 52.  While visiting his mom, in the Nashville area, he complained of chest pains, and was rushed to the hospital, where he died that night, December 6, 1988.

The release of his album, Mystery Girl (#5 on the charts-1989), after his death, became the highest charting album of his career, reaching platinum.

Oh, Pretty Woman was the theme song for the blockbuster movie Pretty Woman, starring Julia Roberts. His song, In Dreams, was also used in a scene in the movie, Blue Velvet.

The amazing thing about Roy Orbison is, that even though he suffered horrendous tragic events in his life, he overcame so many of them, and gave a gift to the world. That gift was his voice, and we should be forever grateful. Elvis Presley called him, “the greatest singer in the world.”

He is buried in the Westwood Village Memorial Park Cemetery, in Westwood, California, in an unmarked grave.