100 Days, 100 Nights

Reposting from my Caring Bridge post of yesterday:

I posted the song by that title (above) on my Facebook page this morning, but I don’t think anyone “got” it. ūüôā

We made the trip to San Antonio today for my 100 day follow up appointment. I had them take blood from my port because it hasn’t been accessed in a month and needed to be flushed. That’s something I’ll have to schedule monthly as long as I have it.

My blood work was great!

I saw Dr. B’s Nurse Practitioner and she said she hopes they never see me again. ūüôā

Sharona was replaced by Natalie, who carried on, always ready with a hand wipe.

Sharona was replaced by Natalie, who carried on, always ready with a hand wipe.

I am pretty much free to do whatever I please now. I still need to be careful, though, as I have less immunity than the normal person and it can be harder to shake an infection once I get it. Wash, wash, wash my hands – preferably with good old soap and water. My friend, Rebecca, says I need a Sharona. (Only Monk fans will understand.) I’m accepting applications.

If I get sick and don’t start to feel better after 48 hours I am to see my doctor, not just shoulder on as I would have done before.

My skin has been damaged as well and, combined with a weakened immune system, I also have to be especially careful about skin cancer. She recommended that I see a dermatologist soon and always use sunscreen, wear long sleeves, wide brim hats, etc. I’ve never been very good at daily sunscreen,¬†so I have a new habit to develop. And it’s time to go to the dentist.

Vaccinations begin at 6 months – sometime in August, I guess. I forget what is first. Then more at 1 year (DPT and some others). Then those that contain live viruses (MMR) at 2 years post transplant.

Do I look like a person who doesn't like pills?

Do I look like a person who doesn’t like pills?

When I asked about my peripheral neuropathy, she said that she could tell by looking at me that I’m not the kind of person who likes to take pills. How could she see that? I wasn’t wearing a sign or anything… She said some patients have had good luck with¬†vitamin B6. Others have tried¬†Wellness Formula – one patient especially had good success with it. She didn’t observe by looking at me¬†that I often consider herbal supplements as another form of “pill.” I’ll check it out, but may see if yoga and massage do the trick without any pills.

We were both a bit confused that Dr. T didn’t order a PET scan for me as it was in my discharge orders and I specifically asked about it a couple of times – and that the CT scan I did have was only of my abdomen.¬†Maybe he’ll replace the next scheduled CT scan with the PET.

When I started writing this, I tried to google the link between stem cell transplants and skin cancer. I didn’t find a lot, but I did find that, in general, I am now at some increased risk of several cancers. Good to know so I can be aware of the possibilities, but best not to dwell….

Although I wasn’t nervous about this appointment, I was really tired afterward – the kind of tired you feel after you have been through something stressful. I think it was being back in San Antonio, having my port accessed, smelling the heparin to flush it out as it was over and over again in the hospital, the focus on what has transpired …

I am happy to be doing so well, but I am so sad right now¬†about friends facing their own rare diseases and young adults losing their lives in car crashes and young people with cancer. On the drive home I was visited by a memory¬†of myself when I was in 3rd grade and struggling with the realization that life can be unfair. There was a girl in my class whom I thought had a hard life. She didn’t seem any different than me. We were¬†just a couple of good kids who liked to play and did our best in school and¬†maybe thought our teacher was too strict¬†– why should her life be more difficult than mine? The conclusion my 3rd grade self reached was that if your life is easy – going smoothly, it is so that you are available¬†help others who are having a hard time. I decided that is God’s plan.¬†I think it’s time to get back in touch with my younger self and recognize my privileged position¬†of being restored to health. (Well almost!)

And on a lighter note – I have half-length eyelashes…. long enough that if I put mascara on, they almost look full grown. And my hair looks like it’s coming in darker – except for the white hairs (!). Christina thinks it looks kind of gray. We decided “ash” brown or something sounded better. It’s not really long enough yet to tell what color it is against my pale scalp, so we’ll wait and see.

I guess that’s it for today…. although my still-addled mind thinks I am forgetting something.

Treasure Chest Thursday: Stories for my New Birthday

Bluebonnets at Muleshoe Recreation Area

A recent picture of me

As those of you who follow my blog know, I was diagnosed with a rare lymphoma last year and had several months of chemotherapy followed by a stem cell transplant. When you have a stem cell/bone marrow transplant, the medical staff refers to the day of your transplant as your “new” birthday. As the time approached for my transplant, I wrote the following message to my friends and family on Facebook and my Caring Bridge journal:

I turned 60 in October and wasn’t able to celebrate quite the way I wanted to. I have a “new” birthday coming up – the day I receive my transplant. And I thought of a way I would like to celebrate.¬†

I like to collect stories. It was one of my hopes in starting my family history blog – sharing the family stories I know and hoping others in the family would share more family stories¬†with me. Not all of you are blood family – but you are my family and so what I would really like for my new birthday are stories from you. About anything, really – but personal and true…. how we met, a time we shared¬†together, the worst (or best) date you ever had, when you got your first car or learned how to drive, your proudest or most embarrassing moment, something silly one of your kids did, why you love or hate beets,¬†a story about a relative we share, or about your own special grandmother or whomever. Ridiculous or sincere. All are good!

You can email me, or private message me on Facebook – but I like letters I can hold in my hand and read again, so when I know my room number I’ll let you know how to send me mail in the hospital.

My new birthday will be February 12th. 

I got my birthday wish and the stories shared are treasures to me. I just can’t resist sharing some of the stories I received!

So today, I’m sharing three stories sent to me by a dear friend, Kathryn. She emailed them on three separate days, giving me three days of pleasure reading them while I was in the hospital. I printed them out today and held them in my hands and read them again. ūüôā

I hope that in sharing them, I’ll encourage you to write down your stories too!

THE HORNEY TOAD

 

The horney toad in our garden

The horney toad in our garden

Really this story should be titled the “Horned Toad”, but in Texas growing up we always referred to the quirky reptile as “Horney Toad”.¬† You know, the little squatty lizard that’s covered with spikes and some pretty large ones atop his head.¬† Ya don’t see¬†Horney¬†Toads¬†around central Texas any longer unfortunately…the result of fire ants imported from some other part of the world that took hold of Texas’ low to the ground species, and made our lives hellacious at the same time!

Any way, back in the early 1940’s my Daddy was a 10 year old boy, living in central Texas¬†who did what boys do….getting his hands on all sorts of things while playing outside.¬†He caught a prize¬†Horney Toad and he was so proud of him!¬† He learned from his dad that they liked to eat ants.¬† To ensure that his Horney Toad would be¬†the¬†happiest, biggest Horney Toad around he decided to¬†give him all the ants he could eat…Horney Toad heaven you might say!¬†¬†My¬†dad went about his plan¬†of tying a string around his Horney toad and then tying the other end of the¬†string onto a stick that he staked into the ground¬†in the center of a Big Red Ant mound.¬† Now you have to have seen some of these Big Red Ant mounds…they can be 5 feet across, no vegetation at all¬†and the ants are at least 1/2 inch long. (You don’t see these mounds very often in central Texas any more either!)¬†He also thought to¬†put a tin of water so the Horney Toad would have enough water to wash down all those ants he was going to fill up on.¬†The next morning my Daddy went out to visit his Horney Toad expecting to find him the fattest and best Horney Toad around.¬† Instead he found a Horney Toad skeleton…

So sad.¬† I guess too much of a good thing is not even good for Horney Toads!¬† They were ultimately not a match for those mean Imported Fire Ants either….must have been a foreboding¬†sign of things to come for all Horney Toads.¬†

A STORY

In my career as a “professional” substitute teacher there are lots of stories.¬† This is one of those that makes you ask “what are the chances????!!!”

As the choir teacher’s sub I tried to get ALL (38-40) of the boys’ choir quiet and standing still on the bleachers….a nearly impossible task.¬† To make it more difficult, the choir room is always freezing cold, therefore most of the boys had their arms inside their shirts. (Of course boys think¬†bashing into each other is¬†mandatory when their arms are inside shirts).¬† Broken noses and black eyes in the making…I could visualize the accident¬†and explaining to administrators how the injuries happened. I, the inept substitute,¬†would be to blame (of course).¬†

I finally achieved some calm.¬† Instructing them to take their arms out of their shirts I described in detail how¬†important arms are¬†in breaking¬†a fall…unless they really liked broken noses.¬† Most of the boys abided and stood with both arms in sight.¬†

A second reminder brought most of the remaining hidden arms out.

And the third all but one.

I looked sternly at the one boy who only had one arm out of his shirt and told him I was talking to everyone and expected BOTH arms out.¬† He looked around, surprised that¬†I was talking to him.¬† He then said, “OH, I only have one arm!”¬†

I glanced¬†at several other boys with a questioning, horrified¬†look asking for confirmation.¬† They verified, “Yea…he only has ONE arm!”

I stammered my¬†apologies and that if I’d have known about his situation¬†I would NEVER have asked him to show me both arms!¬†

 He shrugged and said, smiling, that it was no big deal!

 What are the chances? 

That boy will go far in life with his acceptance, both of himself and others!

PETS

When¬†I was¬†a kid we had all sorts of pets.¬† Of course there were the “normal” ones…all dogs, as our mom hated cats. (One scratched her when she was small).¬† There was Bootsie, black with the obligatory white paws. And our Scottish Cairn terriers and West Highland terriers–Piper, Drummer, Cailin, and Laddie.

But we did end up with some odd ones that came through our household. One was my brothers’ favorites–a big¬†red-eared turtle. ¬†Our mom was out one morning¬†and our housekeeper, Mary,¬†was babysitting when the turtle snapped onto one of my brother, Bruce’s¬†fingers.¬† He came screaming through the backyard with the turtle flailing with every shake of¬†Bruce’s arm but the turtle did not let go.¬† Oh, no….turtles can hang on tight!¬† Mary tried to pry the turtle’s lips (I don’t think that turtles really have lips, but…!)¬† Nope, can’t pry¬†turtle lips apart even with an ice pick! Bruce was wailing by this time so Mary called my daddy at his medical office, sure that Dr Lindsay would have a solution. Nope. Daddy was in the middle of his very busy morning, annoyed that he was bothered by such a silly thing as a turtle stuck on his boy’s finger.¬† He only confirmed to Mary that the turtle would let go when it thundered.¬†And hung up.¬†No clouds in the sky that day.¬†Daddy apparently didn’t know the answer.¬† Bruce yelled louder as his little finger was turning blue. And that turtle still was hangin on.¬† Mary, the ever-caring, brilliant woman of the world called her husband, Mr. Willie (a jack of all trades and our yard-man) who instantly had the solution.¬† He told Mary to light a match under the turtle’s belly and he’d let go.¬† Sure ‘nough, the turtle¬†quickly let go.¬† Bruce’s finger took a while to mend, but all was well, thanks to Mary and Mr Willie.

Sadly, we were given baby chicks for Easter…pink, blue, green dyed ones.¬† We loved getting them. They were so soft,¬†so cute,¬†and cheeped so urgently for us to play with them(at least that’s what we thought!)¬† We kept them in special bed/boxes we decorated for them.¬† Rolled them around in dolly buggys, wrapped them up in little blankies, put them in our doll house.¬† I didn’t want to leave mine outside so I put him in my pocket.¬† And then forgot and sat on him.¬† So sad.¬† Poor Easter chickies.¬† I to this day feel badly for those chickies.¬†

Also in our backyard we had a corner with no grass¬†where we played in the dirt…kind of like a pitiful-kid’s sandbox since Bryan has really sandy soil.¬† We found a big tarantula that lived in a hole in our dirt corner.¬† She was pretty and brown and¬†furry, about as big as a 6 year old’s hand.¬† We would make mud-pies that she would march around and over.¬† We had cups of water to make those mud towers and always left some fresh water for her to drink.¬† Soda crackers were stuffed in her house for her snacks and we KNEW she loved them…and us for bringing her those¬†treats.

Mr Seigbornson brought Daddy 3 chickens to pay him for his medical services one day.¬† Mr Seigbornson was a proud man, a farmer¬†who couldn’t pay¬†in currency¬†but was fair. He didn’t want to make a big deal out of not paying with money but chickens instead so he went to the back parking lot(always shaded), found my Dad’s car and put the chickens inside.¬† My dad came out hours later to find the frightened fowl who made quite a mess in their cooped (I couldn’t resist!!) up surroundings!¬† I don’t know what happened to those chickens….I think our neighbors didn’t appreciate the noise.

Wiiiillllliaaaaaammmmm (you have to say it like a goat talks!)was a goat that one of my dad’s patients brought to him as payment.¬† William was mighty cute and we loved him.¬† My mom did not love him since he ate ALL of her garden down to the dirt.¬†Banana trees, strawberries, flowers, etc.¬†We would let him in the house and he would clickity-clack around the wood floors until Mommy would find out and shoo him out.¬† He went to a new home “out in the country”. (Or else he was a cabrito dinner for¬†El Vira Gonzales, Daddy’s nurse!)¬† Daddy got probably 3 different Williams through the years¬†as I remember. When¬†I was in high school and my two¬†sisters were in¬†college at A&M we took¬†William (the last) to the Dixie Chicken.¬† The Dixie Chicken was a rickety beer joint across the street from campus with free stale crackers, 25 cent Lone Star beer, dogs laying around, tables with lots of¬†names and things carved into them¬†and domino games always being played.¬† Perfect place for Aggies!¬† We figured since folks could bring their dogs¬†we could bring William (the last).¬†He fit right in!

I wonder if our kids will think back on their childhood pets and think how boring we were to only have one dog, one parakeet and a few guinea pigs! Though I must say, Stewy the parakeet was quite amazing with his vast vocabulary and well-timed comments!

That’s it for today. Weren’t her stories fun? Now go and write your stories!

Fred Webber – General Presbyter of the Baltimore Area 1960-1971

Fred Webber InstalledOn Wednesday, September 28, 1960, the Rev. Fred M. Webber was installed as General Presbyter of the Presbytery of Baltimore. He remained in this position until his “retirement” in 1971. The installation took place at Faith Presbyterian Church in Baltimore, Maryland.

I’ve been digging around to learn more about my great uncle Fred and his involvement in the civil rights and ecumenical movements during the 1960s. To provide some background I’m considering these questions:

What did this move and new job mean for Fred Webber and his family?
What does a General Presbyter do?
What prepared him for this position?

Although I can’t really know what this new job and move meant to the Fred Webber family, I can imagine that Fred viewed it as a great opportunity. His wife, Carol, had been through several moves and job changes by this time – all part of the life of a minister. Three of Fred’s and Carol’s children were grown and on their own, so they were unaffected by the move from Hamburg, New York, to Baltimore, Maryland. However their youngest daughter, a Junior in high school, was “very angry (very, very, very angry)” with her father for moving before she finished high school and she did not make the move with her parents. Instead, Bea lived with the school librarian and her husband (members of Hamburg Presbyterian Church where Fred had been the minister), until the end of 11th grade. Happily, Bea reports that “the minister and his wife at the Catonsville Presbyterian Church (in Maryland), where Mother joined, had a daughter my age and she very graciously welcomed me that summer before our senior year. She met me on the way to school the first day and walked with me. After that, I found my own way and had a fabulous year, so I forgave my father.”

What does a General Presbyter do?

In my search for a job description, I found this one by The Rev. Dr. Kevin Yoho,¬†General Presbyter of the Newark Presbytery: “As General Presbyter, I support and direct the work of the staff, provide guidance to the Mission Council, committees, and teams of the presbytery, represent and link the presbytery to educational, civic, and private institutions. I also serve as a pastor to the pastors and am available to offer confidential support, coach, and pray with our pastoral leaders.¬†

Many conversations emerge with opportunities for partnering with congregations seeking and changing pastoral leadership; supporting congregational leaders feeling the pain of transitions, stress, and conflict that comes from growth and transformation; encouraging congregations in their discernment and pursuit of their missional identity; offering leadership in the Synod and national Presbyterian Church, and fostering denominational, ecumenical, and interfaith relationships….

Building trust, celebrating growth, fostering discernment through appreciative inquiry, inviting collaboration, clarifying ministry, assessing wellness and effectiveness, offering guidance, leading presbytery staff; these are the kinds of activities that I hope add value to the entire presbytery as it helps every pastor and session fulfill their unique mission in the world.”

That last paragraph fits my imaginings of how Fred envisioned his role as General Presbyter.

What prepared Fred for his new job as General Presbyter and his involvement in the civil rights and ecumenical movements?

A rather stern looking family. Fred Webber 2nd from left

Fred Webber 2nd from left

Fred M. Webber was born to Dorinda Strange and M. D. Webber in 1906, the fifth of nine children. He was a younger brother of my grandmother Abbie. His father, M. D. Webber, served as a pastor in several small churches, although he eventually gave up the ministry in order to support his large family. Nevertheless, the practice of their Christian faith was a given in Fred’s family of origin.

Debate Champions

Debate Champions – Fred 2nd from left

Fred was an avid reader and enjoyed debate. He was named “Best Debater in the State of Iowa in 1926.” He graduated from The State University of Iowa in 1930 and later earned a Master of Divinity from Colgate-Rochester Theological Seminary in Rochester, New York. Fred began his ministry as a Baptist pastor in 1932, but was received into the Presbytery of Buffalo-Niagra in 1941 and served several churches in New York.

In a resume written around 1974, Fred summarized a few of his professional duties and accomplishments prior to his position as General Presbyter. It’s a¬†little difficult to read, so I’ve typed in the highlights below.

Webber, Fred Myron 1974 Resume pt. 1

Webber, Fred Myron 1974 Resume pt. 2

* In Bath I followed a Pastor who had left under quite unhappy circumstances, so my first responsibility was a healing ministry, which I feel was rather well accomplished.
* (Weedsport) My major contribution to the life of this congregation was broadening its view of the total mission of the church; from virtually no support of mission outside the congregation, we moved to fairly significant support
* (Youngstown) I found here the same lack of support outside the parish, and brought that support up to a respectable figure. Growth in membership was about 20%, and in attendance about 40%
* (Hamburg) Once again I was confronted with a lack of concern beyond the parish … By the time I left, the church was giving $1.00 to general mission for every $2.00 for local mission. Membership grew from about 150 to over 1,000; a new church was erected.
* Fred was commissioner to the General Assembly in 1947, 1958 and again in 1965.

It does appear that these were valuable experiences that Fred could apply to his job as General Presbyter. In the resume above, he says the following about his work in the presbytery: Presbytery was severely divided when I came, and we made significant strides toward uniting it. 

In addition to the experiences listed above,¬†Fred was known as having a “can do” attitude as exemplified by his favorite saying, “If you can read, you can do anything.”

Among the files sent to me by Fred’s daughter, Bea, is a humorous letter written in 1968 addressing the Presbytery of Baltimore at the 566th Stated Meeting. The letter was submitted by the congregation at Catonsville and speaks of Fred as an impossible man in an impossible job in an impossible place.

November 16, 1968

November 16, 1968

An additional question I have is what influenced Fred’s involvement in the civil rights movement. I haven’t read any of Fred’s sermons, so I don’t know if, when, or how often he preached on the issue of civil rights, but it is obvious from his resume that Fred always pushed his congregations to look (and give) beyond the doors of their church. I asked family members to offer their thoughts regarding what influenced Fred’s commitment to civil rights:

Anyone care to speculate what his early life and family experience played based on what you heard from Fred or what you heard about or experienced yourself in the home of Dorinda and M. D. Webber? Or maybe it was time spent in seminary, as a pastor?

I received the following responses:

* I think his civil rights position came from his Christian principles. I think civil rights became a big issue after he had a congregation.
* Bea found a 1920s prayers for social justice book in all the things she went through last year, so I think his convictions surely came from his full life experiences.
* One of our grandmother’s (Dorinda Strange Webber) brothers was killed by an Indian before she was born. She talked about that fact fairly often, but I never heard one negative word about that particular Indian or about Indians in general. I think that the Webber family was not into racial, ethnic bigotry at all. God made and loved each human being, no matter color, etc. I think that would have had an impact on anyone who lived with them – especially those who grew up with them.

To add a little more context, I did just a smidgen of research on the Rev. Dr. Kenneth G. Neigh, who gave the sermon at Fred Webber’s installation. Mr. Neigh was the¬†general secretary of the Board of National Missions, a position he held from 1959-1972.

In 1996, the New York Times published an obituary for Kenneth Neigh calling him “a national Presbyterian church official who put the church in the forefront of the civil rights movement and broadened its commitment to social causes in the 1960s.” It continues – “For a man who was less than five and a half feet tall and had an uncommonly soft voice, Mr. Neigh wielded a lot of power from his office on Riverside Drive, then the headquarters of the United Presbyterian Church in the United States….. Although he had official power only within his own church, Mr. Neigh’s pioneering approach was credited with influencing similar efforts in other churches, especially after his friend and admirer, Eugene Carson Blake, the Presbyterian Church’s top ecclesiastical official, carried Mr. Neigh’s vision with him when he became head of the National Council of Churches and later of the World Council of Churches.”

So – there we have some background to place Fred Webber in Baltimore in the 1960s. Coming soon – a look at some of Fred Webber’s actions in support of civil rights and ecumenism – and perhaps a look at some of his other contemporaries, including Eugene Carson Blake.

If you would like to read more about Fred M. Webber, click the Fred Myron Webber tag/link at the bottom of this post.

Webber, Fred Myron 1930 College DiplomaWebber, Fred Myron Master of DivinityWebber, Fred Myron 1932 Baptist