The Miracle of Friendship
by Author Unknown
There is a Miracle called Friendship
that dwells within the heart
and you don’t know how it happens
or when it even starts.
But the happiness it brings you
always gives a special lift and
you realize that Friendship
is God’s most precious gift.
I cannot count the number of times over the last 6 months that David and I have talked about how very grateful and blessed we are for the family and the friends that God has gifted us with. Without our family, our friends, and our faith, how in the world would we manage? Friends are the family that we choose, and our blessings of ‘chosen’ family are many. If you are reading this, then you are probably within the family and friend group. And so David and I thank you for your love and your prayer support. Cannot overstate their importance to us.
We recently had some very dear friends come to Houston. What an enormous treat!!! Like coming across an oasis in the desert…… bringing refreshment and comfort to our doorstep.
Stan and Debbie are friends from Albuquerque. They have a son and his family who live in the Houston area, and they had flown down to Houston to spend some time with kids/grandkids. Thankfully, they were able to carve out some time in their family visit to drive over to the Ark for a visit with us. We were actually able to see them twice, which was like having a double scoop ice cream cone . Their second visit included dinner out and then a nice, long evening under Ark’s awning. We talked and talked, and it was just wonderful. Thank you, Stan and Debbie, for connecting with us on your family trip.
We were again blessed with a visit from some friends from Albuquerque. They had moved away from Albuquerque several years ago and had settled in the Tampa FL area. The last time we had seen them was in August 2011. But they prove the old adage that, with good friends, you pick up right where you left off, no matter how long it has been since you have been together. Our friends Chuck and Valerie drove up from Tampa, pulling their little trailer, just to visit with us. Wow!! They stayed in the same park we live in, so we were just a short, short walk away from them. They timed their visit so as to come in between David’s chemo infusions, so we thought we would have lots of time to just sit around and play catch-up. As luck would have it, we ended up having to make some trips over to the hospital for unexpected appointments. Chuck and Valerie just went along with us, and while David was waiting for his picc line flush and dressing change, I took C & V on a tour of the area, most specifically the 24th floor of the Main building, which is a beautifully peaceful room with no medical services and lots of comfortable chairs, couches, and windows. You feel like you are at the top of the world while looking out over the Houston skyline. It is very cool, and we like to take folks up there when time permits. Anyway, they were real troopers and just chugged around with us as we went from place to place to get stuff done. Along the way, on the Skybridge walk, we stopped for a quick picture.
Their visit soon ended, and they headed back to Tampa. We enjoyed their visit so much, and we thank them for making this special trip to Houston to spend a few days with us.
Friends keep filling us with love, whether by visits, by phone calls, or by notes in the mail. We appreciate them all more than we can say.
In His wisdom, God knows that we need some friends nearby also. So He has provided us with some beautiful people living here in the rv park, and we are so blessed to have them right outside our door. Most of the folks here in the park are here for medical reasons. The Texas Medical Center is only about 5 miles from the park, so it is very convenient for rv’ers who are also patients of one of the hospitals nearby. We have met many folks who, like David, are undergoing treatment for cancer at MDA. We have also met some folks who are in the organ transplant program at Methodist Hospital. By coincidence, the two transplant friends we have met are both lung transplants. It has been fascinating to learn more about the transplant world and what these folks go thru to even get on a transplant list. One of our transplant friends had a double lung transplant before we arrived, and by the time we got to know them (over decks of cards ), he was in his recovery period back in their rv. Our other transplant friend is on the list for a single lung transplant, and they are very much in the waiting mode. To learn more about their protocols has been very eye opening.
With friendships of this kind at this place, it is bittersweet when your friends leave. Bitter because you are saying goodbye to friends, but sweet because their departure means that the doctor has told them that they can leave. So you rejoice at their good news while you are sorry to have them move outside of your world. We have one such set of friends. Fred and Jeannie (plus Irv and Baby) left about a month ago. They were our first friends here, and we met them because Fred would take Irv on walks several times a day. He stopped by to visit with David one day when David was sitting outside. We spent a lot of time with them and enjoyed their company very much.
Shortly after Fred and Jeannie left, our card playing friends Mark and Susan also left. A fellow ACTS brother, Hogan, then moved in across the road from us. He was mostly alone as his wife still worked. They are from Louisiana, and he would get his radiation treatments 5 days a week and then would head home for the weekend. We met his wife, Cindy, when she was able to come, and we really enjoyed their company. Hogan made Rosaries from beautiful colored cord. He gave each of us one that he had made, and then he showed David how to make them. When Hogan left after 6 weeks of radiation, he and his wife left David with a lot of cord to make Rosaries. Their departure was also a bittersweet one.
But God didn’t leave us alone for very long. He brought Dudley and Sheree (our tailpipe neighbors) into our life. What fun they have been to know. They had been there all along, but we had never seen them outside when we were outside, and so we had never met. But now we feel very close to them. He is fighting cancer, and she is his caregiver. So we have much in common. They are very spiritual people, and so we can share that with them also. They have been a real influence on us, and in good ways. Because of their encouragement, we have started going to Tibetan Meditation once a week at the hospital, as well as going to the once a week music therapy Drumming class. It is a hoot, and the music therapist is excellent. And that deep breathing from the meditation class has been helpful on several occasions.
The same week that we met Dudley and Sheree, we also met Clem and Mary Ann at the Mother’s Day pot luck in the clubhouse. They ‘adopted’ us right away, and they are the reason that we changed churches. We had been attending St Vincent de Paul, and it was okay. We did not feel connected to it, however, and we knew no one there. Well, Clem and Mary Ann were attending a smaller Catholic Church that was closer to the rv park and, according to them, was very friendly. So they persuaded us to go with them to Mass one Sunday, and we immediately agreed with them that it is a warm and loving congregation led by an outgoing and friendly priest who is from – wait for it – Albuquerque!!! And the mother house for his order is in Cleveland! It was as if God sent Clem and Mary Ann to us for a host of reasons, not the least of which was to lead us to Corpus Christi Catholic Church. Through Clem and Mary Ann, we have met some parishioners at the church and have been invited over to dinner at their house twice. All of this proves what David and I now believe – there are saints and angels everywhere!!!!!! We now have some wonderful new people in our lives, right outside our door. They pray for us, and we pray for them. They support us, and we support them. Here is a picture of the 6 of us at Panera Bread, where we all met for breakfast after church recently.
I think I have mentioned in the past that my college roommate, Mary, lives in Houston with her husband Chris. Also living here is another college friend, Lorrie, along with her husband Tony. They are concerned about how we are faring, and they periodically check in with us. When David is feeling up to it, I sometimes give one of them a call and see if we can plan an evening together. They are wonderful folks, and we feel blessed that they are so willing to support us whenever we call. Thank you, Lorrie and Tony and Mary and Chris.
Our forever thanks go to our wonderful family and the dear friends that are part of the ‘family we choose’ for the love that they share with us. We cannot begin to express our gratitude to all of you for speaking David’s name in prayer for healing and mine for wisdom and knowledge of how best to navigate thru this time. It proves the wisdom of these words from Helen Keller:
“Friends create the world anew each day. Without their loving care, courage would not suffice to keep hearts strong for life.”