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Monday, June 29, 2015


This is a well done slide show set to well done choral music spotlighting our state!  We have lived in Oklahoma, California, Oregon, and Indonesia, but our roots were always in Texas and all our sons and grandchildren were born here.  Texans, and proud of it!

Saturday, June 20, 2015


My Daddy, John William Howard Teal, my mother Opal, and me at around age 2 (top) and 4 (middle) - snapshots taken near our rented apartment in New Orleans LA, and in Bullard, Texas. The studio photo of Daddy and Mother was probably from about the same time as the Bullard picture.  Daddy has the same suit on, although he probably wore that suit only to church, weddings, and funerals and kept the same suit for years!

I am reminded often of Daddy, and miss him even though he died in 1982.  He was honest, hard working, a man of faith and love for his family. He was a good businessman, a good cook, a good son, a good brother, a good husband, and a good father. He worked hard in the cafes which he and my mother owned, and worked even harder taking care of a small herd of cattle on the land he bought from my grandparents an acre or two at a time to help them financially. He liked growing things, planting a small pecan and plumb orchard, and growing seasonal vegetables in his garden. In my mind I have vignettes of him grafting pecan trees, pinching suckers and picking tomatoes, calling his cows with his truck horn, and throwing out feed and hay to them. Other pictures of him have him baking fresh yeast rolls, rolling out pie crust, grilling hamburgers, and making chicken fried steak. At my request, he would put a spoon of mashed potatoes on the grill with some chopped onions - I loved fried mashed potatoes!  When he was at work in the cafe he wore a short white cap and , a fresh white apron, and when he came home he smelled like hamburgers!

He loved his grandsons.  He took Sean fishing and to feed the cows. He let Ben play with the hose in the front yard and Ben turned the hose on him!  I have a picture of Jeremy, our middle son, when he was a baby with one of Daddy's old felt fedoras on.  After his death, I kept Daddy's hat on the shelf in my bedroom along with one of his belts and his whetstone. They have all since been given to the grandsons, but I can almost touch them in my mind. His hugs still touch my heart.

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Hospital Hospitality and Home Again

Green space in courtyard, Methodist Hospital, Sugar Land

I am a retired registered nurse. I do not say an inactive nurse and although I may occasionally say "I have not worked in years," that is not really true.  I always thought my nursing education and experience provided great preparation for taking care of 3 boys, These served me well in caring for others, including my mother who died in 2006. I have had a great deal of opportunity to call on basic patient care skills in the past few years during many surgeries for my husband.  But in all 51 years of marriage, the many hospitalizations for Joe and all the years of emergency room visits for stitches and casts with little boys, I had never called 911 for a medical emergency and we never had as many as 9 days of hospitalization for any one incident. On June 3, an insect (mosquito or spider, we are unsure which) changed that record. 

While working for a few minutes in the garden that morning, Joe got a bite on his right elbow. We thought it was a mosquito because they have been numerous and hungry since all the rains and flooding Memorial Day week. After sleeping a long time, he began having  chills and rising fever.  Within a couple of hours I had gone from considering going to choir practice to calling 911 and riding in the ambulance with him to the E.R., followed by a hospital admission. His white blood cell count was high, his temperature was high. Cultures were started. He was treated with IV antibiotics and supporting therapy for what turned out to be septic bursitis.  The villain was beta hemolytic strep. He did not respond as quickly as expected to the antibiotic therapy or needle aspiration of the offending fluid in the bursa. But after a number of different antibiotics, he began to improve and finally was discharged a few days ago. 

His IV medication continues at home, we are working out new pain management schedules, chipping away at followup appointments, and loving being back at home. The fact that our first tropical storm of the season, Bill, decided to try to come this way also is another story. I am thankful for Joe's recovery, thankful for our sweet family's caring response, our dear church's concern and prayers, and for a staff of excellent physicians and nurses as well as other employees at Methodist Hospital Sugar Land. 

 I commend this hospital's administration and staff for their smiles and professional care, including everyone from housekeeping to each specialist. I did not encounter anyone who did not seem genuinely interested and supportive. They are a caring community who come alongside when some of us have a health burden. Even though I have been in their shoes I sadly do not always remember names, but this time a long list of names comes to mind as I include them in my gratitude list. I am also grateful for the planning of the facility, the architecture, the provisions not only for patient safety and comfort but also for those who are visitors.

During my days of staying with Joe, I took some long walks in the halls.  I didn't have time to take as many pictures as I had moments of appreciation, but here are a few.

I had an aerial view standing in front of the bank of windows on the North side of our 6th floor of the main hospital.

Viewing 69/59 Northbound and Southbound, Sugar Land stretching beyond. The chairs placed by the windows were usually occupied by visiting family members and those waiting for good news or bad. As I looked out across the busy freeway, I thought how many times I pass by this spot.

At the end of our hall, a window wall looked toward First Colony Mall, the clock tower in Sugar Land Town Center, and beyond to the cityscape of Houston. 

Most of my walks were indoor walks but once I visited the small courtyard near the hospital's front entrance where there were lush green plants like the one pictured at the top of the page, inviting benches, and water flowing in a fountain.

Sean, Teion, Lauren, and Skye drove behind us in the ambulance. When they all left, Lauren made a special trip back to the hospital to bring me sandwiches, yogurt, and water bottles since I was there for the night with no dinner. 

Skye visited her Papa on her way to dress dance recital rehearsal.  Lauren added her name to his care giving bulletin board..."I love you, Papa, Lauren"  Appropriate, since the love of his family boosted his recovery just as his caregivers did.

IV in one arm and the other swollen and painful, he still enjoyed hanging on to the phone for calls from our friends, sons, daughters in law, and grandchildren.

Maddie saved her PF Chang fortune cookie to switch out with a fortune message just for Papa.  "You will feel better."

Jordann cut out a peace symbol for him.

Jeremy drove from Fort Worth with the girls for a get well visit.

And finally, home again!  Nora waves get well fairy dust over Papa Joe.  Ben and Kristen brought him Chik Fil A breakfast!

Sean worked on the Koi pond twice so far which is such a tremendous help. Teion ran errands, helped talk to medical staff, and checked on him every day. I always feel the love and support of our family, but they all deserve a blue ribbon for taking care of the parental unit, as we are fondly referred to! 

So, home to hospital to home again, we have had an adventure I hope is not repeated, but I once again realize we have blessings that are priceless!  I am grateful.

Friday, June 5, 2015

Seeing it All

view of Brazos river from car moving across the bridge
Last Year I read a memoir titled Sightlines. At the time when I was writing about the book, I said - I could see it all, describing the collection of poems and audio "collage" from Janet Riehl. In her frank, descriptive voice, I was able to really see all of the journey of this family , their fun and their work, their togethernesss and apartness, their good times and their shattered joy and bereavement as well as the sometimes indescribable complexities of aging oneself while attending to the aging of one's parents. At times what I saw was unsettling, even unlovely.  But there was also love and longing and tenderness. I saw remembering, and just as in my own life, at times the remembering hurts .  I could see it all.

I hope that I have at least a fraction of that ability to help others see the joy of our journey as a family in that way.  The past 2 weeks have been a roller coaster for many, and our family is no exception. Immediately following the togetherness of our Memorial Day, weather turmoil catapulted much of Texas into chaos. Beginning the evening of Memorial Day, a Monday - a violent thunder storm raged all night long, creating the start of historic flooding and destruction. Families literally separated by the power of raging rivers, life and property lost. As rivers continued to rise whole neighborhoods evacuated to shelter in other places. The river which divides the neighborhoods where our youngest son and family live from the area where Joe and I and our oldest son's family live - the Brazos, reached flood stage almost a week ago, crested 2 feet above that and waters are still at that level today, the 5th day since. 

Our church, First Baptist Church in Richmond, is a designated Red Cross shelter in crises like this, and a number of people found helping hands when they came to stay. I baked bags full of chocolate cookies and delivered to volunteers and those who had to sleep on a cot that night. When every newscast pictures another family who has lost everything, some even their family members, I prayed for them, but I also gathered my own dear ones closer to my heart and mind.

Then, 3 days ago, danger came closer than the river had. Joe weakened and collapsed with a high fever due to what is thought now to be infection begun by a spider bite. What began as a wife worrying because her husband did not feel well in the afternoon ended with a call to 911 and admission to hospital by nightfall. Indescribable complexities? Togetherness and apartness? Unsettling, even unlovely? Yes, all that but also love and longing and tenderness and joy. Our family is close, and in the frightening, uncertain, threatening emergency of 911 calls and specialists and IV antibiotics of the last 48 hours, I am able to rejoice in the faithfulness and loving provision of God, the sustaining, nurturing concern and expressions of love from our sons and other family and friends, and the absolute knowledge that whatever the next 48 hours brings, the acronym spread across my husband's T shirt as the medics loaded him into the ambulance is true.

It's Gonna Be OK!       

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Memorial Day

Maddie created our chalkboard sign for Memorial Day. Her enthusiasm and willingness to help make me happy. At the same time, I feel another tug at my heart as I see her sweet smile and feel her eagerness to welcome those arriving to join us as we grill hot dogs and savor our family. Her eyes speak joy for gathering with all of us and enjoying her cousins. Yet I know this day of remembering those who have lost their lives in service to our country is filled with sombre reflections, too.

 I am grateful.  For men and women who gave their lives for our country, for the freedoms that my family and I have which are denied to many. We say thank you in many ways - one of them is by spending the time and freedom provided us in ways that honor the privilege. Maddie got it right, it is a happy Memorial Day.

Friday, May 22, 2015


Nora's favorite new word is Wow!  When I am with her, my favorite word is Joy! I begin smiling this big, too. I pray she keeps this joie de vivre forever, and that I will remember that my smiles and enthusiasm can help to change clouds to sunshine for other people.  Thank you for a good life lesson, Nora.

Joie de vivre is a French phrase often used in English to express a cheerful enjoyment of life; an exultation of spirit.
" `It "can be a joy of conversation, joy of eating, joy of anything one might do…  may be seen as a joy of everything, a comprehensive joy, a philosophy of life, a Weltanschauung. Robert's Dictionnaire says joie issentiment exaltant ressenti par toute la conscience, that is, involves one's whole being." ` Wikipedia

Friday, May 15, 2015

Family Fish Tale

Joe and our sons Sean, Jeremy, and Ben plus a friend who is like a son, Tim all went to the Kenai Peninsula in Alaska last week for salmon and halibut fishing. The man on the right joined them on this particular day of fishing. Their smiles tell the story better than I ever could.  They had a great time traveling, marveling at the beauty of Alaska, counting moose, and fishing together.  Plus, they came home with plenty of fish for all our freezers.  I am so glad Jeremy put this trip together and managed to get all the details to work for all these schedules to be the same for one week.  They enjoyed each other and enjoyed fishing. The memories will long outlast the great meals of grilled fish.  This is a fish story I will never get tired of hearing.