Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Merry Christmas!

Here's wishing you all a Merry Christmas. And for those of you whose Christmas may not be what it has been because of the loss of a loved one or the fact that you may not get to be with your loved ones this year, let me place for you a poem sent to us by my dear Mother who died in March of 2005. I don't know where she got it, but here it is:

I may not get there Christmas eve,
But I would have you folks believe
That my heart will be there with you
With all my love and I'd renew
The family ties that bind us fast
With memories of Christmas past.

I'll close my eyes and see your faces
And all those sweet remembered places
About our home that I shall miss.
And on that day, remember this:
I'm thankful God has given me
So wonderful a family.

With tears in my eyes filled with gratitude and sadness--a strange mix, I know--I wish you all a Merry Christmas! JW

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Peg Keelan-White

I received the dreadful call about 8:30 last night. It was from my brother, Don. Five years ago, his wife Peg was diagnosed with breast cancer. She went through all the treatments, the questions, the hair falling out. She struggled with the "Why's?". But she emerged from the fight victorious. Just this fall, she passed the five year, cancer free mark.
In the fall, she just didn't feel as if she had any energy. A simple blood test determined that she had acute leukemia...a result of the chemotherapy (more than likely) from her last battle with cancer. After a number of rounds of treatment, a visit to the Mayo Clinic, more treatments, many of the same results as the last time, i.e hair falling out, etc., she kept fighting. I admired her pluck, her will to live, her detmermination to press on and not let down.
But let me allow my brother's words to explain what happened. This was his last post concerning Peg:


That was the last message I received from Peg this morning after she read the "Winter Sonnets" I had written for her last night.

Tonight, it breaks my heart to have to tell you that we lost Peg today. I received a phone call this morning that she had fallen in the bathroom at the hospital. As it turns out, she had had a stroke and it was the stroke which caused her to fall.

Apparently, blood had hemorrhaged into her brain. With her blood pressure soaring and with her platelets not helping out, the combination of the two are apparently what caused the blood on her brain and the subsequent stroke.

All of us were there with her when she died, just before 5:00 tonight.

The only comfort I am able to draw on right now is knowing that all of you are heartbroken, too, and that you, who have so faithfully follwed us on this journey, share our anguish.

For now, all I can say is that she was...beautiful.

I asked Don what I could do for him. His response? "Oh, I don't know. Just keep on being Jim."

This morning, as I walked into Starbucks, I was greeted with my usual enthusiastic cheer. "Jim! How are you doing?" "Fine," was my response. But I thought, these people don't care about the fact that my sister-in-law died. My brother's heart is crushed and those who don't know will carry on the same surface level conversations. I hope I'll remember this. That just because people smile and express their "fineness" that I'll look beyond the eyes and see the hearts of pain and suffering that are inevitably going on in the world.
Peg was a one-of-a-kind. She cried at the Walton's. She had a wonderful laugh. She kept Don in line. She was a rennaisence woman in many ways with many interests, many talents. And the fact that she worked with special needs kids showed that she cared. She cared for those who needed someone to stand up for them.
When I came around, Peg always had a big hug and would say something like, "Please come over more often." The last time I saw Peg was in the hospital. Martha and I went in and spent about an hour and a half with her and we talked about everything...just as we always did. She was Peg. The same Peg that would sit in her home and shoot the breeze with us. The same Peg who I called Betty. My last conversation with her was on the phone just before Thanksgiving. I had called to check on Don and was surprised when she picked up the phone. Little did I know that would be our last conversation. She talked of the holidays and wanting to get all the Christmas decorations out before she had to go back to Lincoln, back to the hospital.
Once again, I'm reminded...reminded of just how short life is and how we have no guarantees. James says, "What is your life? You are a mist that is seen for a moment and then disappears." Oh, yes, she was here. And she had quite an impact on the community of York. I don't know how to end this blog except to ask for prayers. Pray for my brother Don and his boys, Ben and Evan. Pray for our family. God is good. JW