Saturday, December 31, 2011

New Year’s Eve 2011

This is Timmy, my brother’s fourth born. He and his daughter, AlexAnn, came by before going back to their home in the Nashville area.  It was early and Mama Trudy was still in her robe.100_0136

We wondered what AlexAnn was whispering to her dad.404790_2915013591766_1153473108_3126268_330658493_n

Well, it seems that, if Timmy removes his partial plate, they all three have teeth missing and Alex wanted a picture of the three of them together with teeth missing.  Timmy laughed …. an complied. Why so “no” to such an innocent and cute request.  Love is stronger than vanity, after all.  388952_2915033232257_1153473108_3126286_914718196_n

Poor Timmy. You can hardly tell that Alex and Mama Trudy are missing teeth!  Rolling on the floor laughingalex n timmy

I love Timmy’s shoes!timmy shoestim shoes

Last picture of Mama Trudy in 2011.406615_2910235072306_1153473108_3123196_370538952_n

She had a long nap this afternoon, so we played Mexican Train until midnight. Happy New Year!!

Thursday, December 29, 2011

A good neighbor

Mama’s neighbor, Iona, came to visit this afternoon, bringing candy.  Iona’s daughter came, also. 

Can you tell, from this picture, how much Mama enjoys company.  She just loves Iona!  Two beautiful Christian ladies.

                      Iona                    Mama100_0131

The sunsets behind the mountain.100_0134

Mama is making a point to play Mexican Train dominoes as long as she can.  We have played every evening since I have been here. She says it helps her not think about how bad she feels.  Who’s she kidding??? She just loves to beat me!!!Sarcastic smile

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

It’s a beautiful day

Today is especially sunny and pretty out.  These pictures are part of the view from Mama’s front porch, looking east.100_0117

The top of the ridge. A highway runs along the top of the ridge.100_0118100_0119100_0122100_0123100_0124

I am passing time looking through old pictures and scrapbooks.

A full page from the newspaper.  Mama has saved this for years.  Now you understand why I am so patriotic.  That’s right folks, we should all teach our children and grandchildren to love our country and … is that a cross in that picture??? Exactly.100_0125100_0126

Click on this picture and hopefully it will be easier to read in the new window… but come back when you finish reading it. Smile100_0127

A clipping from the local newspaper, Sept. 1954, that Mama liked and saved…. all these years.395346_2890469338175_1153473108_3114179_225200372_n

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Family Christmas Caroling

Members of her family are coming to see her and sing Christmas carols…. of course she’s going to get dressed and be presentable.  It took us awhile, but she was sitting in the living room waiting for them when they arrived, like she always has when company is expected.

Mama Trudy Rhodes, Christmas 2011.100_0111


AlexAnn and Sophie singing to Mama Trudy.100_0116

The next pictures were taken with my phone without good lighting, so please excuse the quality.

Alex and Sophie


Timmy, Jessica and Alex.122511211039-1

Jonny read the Christmas story and prayed. True to his soft heart, he had trouble getting through the "thank You, Lord, for Mama Trudy" part. We could never honor her too much.392624_2873407551641_1153473108_3105370_1488124352_n

Mama Trudy, getting a little tired, but would not miss a word of what Jonny was saying.Mama listening to Jon reading

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Christmas Eve

Greetings from NW Georgia. Thankfully, the storm missed us last night, being about an hour east of us over the mountain.  (There was a tornado in north Georgia last evening.)

I am somewhat "bummed" out tonight.

The optimism I had that mama would tolerate the Digoxin to lower her heart rate, has been dashed. Yesterday afternoon she begin to itch severely and by last might she could hardly stand it. She got no sleep last night. By this afternoon, the rash was evident just beneath her skin on her abdomen, back, sides, chest, neck and shoulders. The cardiologists said stop taking the Digoxin and try Atenolol, 1/2 tablet every other day after her rash clears and itching subsides.

I am not holding out much hope that her body will tolerate the Atenolol, but we continue trusting God with mama's condition. He knows what's best for her.

The Dr recommended Benadryl cream and I applied it for her tonight. Bless her heart, she is so miserable.

Well, that is where we are in our endeavor to help mama be as comfortable as possible. She is such a trooper and walked in the house today for 18 minutes. She tried to make it for 20 minutes but gave out. All this in addition to her constant dizziness. No sleep last night didn't help. She did get a good 2 hour nap this afternoon due to sheer exhaustion. That helped so she wanted to play dominos to try to keep her mind off the itching.

I don't know how many meds the Dr will try before mama says, "no more."

Thank you for keeping her in your prayers and praising God for getting the toxins out of her system quickly.

My brother, Jon, is wonderful to check on us everyday, going to the stores for us and doing whatever mama needs done. I am so thankful for him. We are both grateful for each other. Being an only child would be so hard at a time like this.

I apologize that my update is lengthy, but writing helps me to organize my thoughts and figure out what we need to do.

Until next report, God bless and Merry Christmas.


Sent from Yahoo! Mail on Android

I helped Mama remember how to play Old Sol, as she calls the game of solitaire that she used to play when she was a kid.100_0108She plays about two hands and then she’s tired and lays down.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

When life gives you scraps


A quilted wall hanging made by Mama Trudy and hanging in her home.  A philosophy that has served her well.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Seeing Cardiologist today

Mama Trudy has an appointment with the cardiologist today, in Chattanooga.

We took our picture before we left to go to the doctor.  (I cut the top of my head off!)Surprised smile100_0099

But even though I can’t seem to get to many pictures with my mama, it’s not about me…  it’s about her.  For the first time in her life, it’s going to be all about her.  I’m going to make sure of it. 

The love and joy in her spirit shines in her pictures even though she doesn’t feel good.  She makes an incredible effort to keep people from knowing that she feels like poo and her head is swimming.  She comes from a tough generation and somewhere along the way, she learned to make the best out of any situation and hide her feelings.  In my eyes, she has never been more beautiful.100_0100

From the back seat, I took this picture not far from Mama’s apartment.100_0102

The trip to the cardiologist went well.  They provided mother a wheelchair while at the clinic and that kept her from getting exhausted.  Her diagnosis is congestive heart failure, arrhythmia, and tachycardia. He prescribed something to help lower her heart beats per minute, which currently ranges from 80 to 136 bpm.

Here’s the email update I sent today:

The cardiologist prescribed a low dosage of med to help slow her very rapid heart rate (which may be the cause of her 'swimmy' head). If her body tolerates the med and she feels better, PTL. If not, he will try a low dosage of diuretic. He is being very attentive and cautious and we appreciate that. She will have blood work done, locally, in a week to evaluate the level of the new medication in her system.

Dr visit went well. I know all your prayers are making a huge difference. She's tired, back home but not completely exhausted.

Stay tuned. :-)

Sent from Yahoo! Mail on Android

Monday, December 19, 2011

The first email update:

Dear family,

Just a note to keep you informed as much as possible.

In addition to he "swimmy" head (her word) , Mama Trudy has gotten much weaker in just the last month. The arrhythmia is more and she now has congestion forming around her heart. These conditions cause her to cough a lot and she is very tired. Walking from one room to another wears her to exhaustion and breathing is also a challenge most of the time. The only time her head isn't swimmy is when she is lying down.

Her body does not tolerate medication well, at all, but tomorrow we (Jonny & I ) are taking her to her appointment with the cardiologist in Chattanooga. She is not looking forward to the 45 minute drive but she's not complaining. We just praying for short wait time.

Primarily, we want to find out if a diuretic will help her with fluid and a Med for her arrhythmia that maybe she can tolerate.

Her comfort is a priority to us.

She's ready to go Home, she told me tonight. Jonny and I are processing letting her go. Pray for us.

I am so thankful at how awesome God is to get me here with mama so quickly. A true testament of His love for us. There are some wonderful, precious, obedient servants of God in this family and we love you all.

Until the next report, keep singing His praises!

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Sunday is here

My handsome brother, Jon, came by after church.408434_2830942410039_1153473108_3081339_130026849_n

First sunny day came on Sunday

The sun came up this morning and we saw it!  The clouds are gone.  We had a very heavy frost this morning and the trees were shining in the early morning sun coming over the mountain.100_0091

This afternoon, I bundled Mama up and she sat out in the sunshine to get a little natural vitamin D.  Tonight, when she saw this picture, she said the funniest thing:  “That makes me look like an old woman.”  Mama is almost 93 1/2 years old! At first, she couldn’t figure out what I was laughing about and then she got tickled at herself.  I love my mama.100_0092

I understand, though, why she said that… she really doesn’t look like an old woman, even in this picture.100_0093

See the house above the apartment across the parking lot, the one up on the side of the mountain?  I wonder what it looks like close up?100_0097

Now, I wonder if anyone lives there.  If so, they have a nice view in the winter when all the leaves are gone.100_0094

Mama didn’t stay outside very long.  Got tired and we went back inside.

Don called me after church this morning.  In fact, several friends from the park called me to tell me how good church was this morning and what a wonderful sermon Don preached.  I miss hearing him preach.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Georgia bound

We had to be at the airport at 5:00 AM, which meant that I was up at 3:30 AM.

It seemed rather quiet at the air port, so Don and I sat in the lobby and chatted until almost time for me to board at 6:25 AM.

This Christmas tree in the lobby is one of the prettiest I’ve ever seen.  I love how they have decorated it.

christmas tree

The leg of my flight from McAllen to DFW was in the worst seat on the plane… last row by the window.  I opened the shade on the window and there was an engine. Smile with tongue out  I didn’t care, I was on a plane going to my mama!Thumbs up  The next leg, DFW to Nashville = First Class… that was N.I.C.E.  Sat beside a nice lady and chatted a little.  Was met at the Nashville airport by my brother, Jon.  The two hour ride to mama’s apartment went by quickly as we visited.

We stopped in Trenton and I bought a poinsettia for Mama Trudy and I had purchased a red ribbon for my hair.  When we walked through the door, she didn’t recognize me at first and then she realized who I was and I sat down on the couch beside her.  She grabbed me and just sobbed and sobbed.  We both did.  No. We all cried, my brother, included.  This picture was taken after we regained our composure.


She was so surprised and she can’t believe I’m here.  She knew our plan was to spend next summer with her, but she’s been telling my brother she doesn’t think she will make it to next summer, so she’d been praying that God would let her live until Don and I got here.

She’s very weak and coughs a lot.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Kris Update: The very latest news

To all our dear friends and loved ones!

The last update, dated November 16, was chocked full of great things and uplifting experiences during my week’s visit with Kris back in November. I was excited to just send it out to you all. Without being too much of a kill-joy, however, let’s just say not every day can be so “chocked full of great things,” and such was the case the week after I left.

Kris became very ill, I’m afraid, and was finally diagnosed with pneumonia. It’s bad enough when anyone is down with the “bug,” but it’s really very difficult in Kris’s situation. She cannot speak, so she can’t tell you what hurts, where she feels bad, or even that she needs her nose cleaned out. She evidently ran a fever for several days, and they started her on an antibiotic. That didn’t seem to help, so she was given another stronger antibiotic, and that must have helped a good bit. She wasn’t taking her tube feedings for a while, so they started her on Pedialyte liquid for hydration. She was in bed, however, a number of days for the most part, and that’s not good for someone who is already having trouble with muscle tone. She didn’t seem to want to go to therapy, and likely had some depression in there as well. Who wouldn’t?!!!

The worry factor hit an all-time high for me, so the telephone conversations between Sebring, Florida, and the director of nursing, the assistant director of nursing, the nurses on duty, and the therapy gals became even more frequent. They were all concerned. Fortunately, the medical doctor for the facility has an office there in LaVernia, too, and he seems very good about coming in to check on patients. Kris was better by the end of last week, finally, and today I understand she had some mashed potatoes and gravy; at least several teaspoons full. Another good sign. She’s back in therapy and was even playing checkers the other day.

Last Wednesday, Kris had an appointment for more evaluations back at the newly opened VA Audie Murphy Poly Trauma Center in San Antonio. Russell went with her, of course, and he said Kris will likely be fitted with a neck brace of some new design that has helped quite a few people with her type of disability. Kris is now more and more prone to having her head to the left side and down, and it’s becoming more difficult for her to keep her head up. That will make it really hard for her to drive her motorized wheelchair when she gets it, because she has to be able to look ahead and see where she’s going. This new neck brace should help, and we are very hopeful that it will.

Even now, it is so difficult not to be there, but I know that everyone is doing their best to take good care of Kris. Russell will go with her again this Wednesday for two more appointments at the VA, and a final determination will be made the first week of January as to whether Kris will be able to come there for several weeks of in-depth therapy and speech training. Fortunately, I will be able to be there that week, and I am truly thankful and praise God we’ve been able to book some more shows in January and February especially to help with our finances. In the meantime, I talk to her every day via Susan, the speech therapist there at Country Care Manor, or through Russell. It is such a help to me to be able to do that.

Now, for those who have asked... a very quick update on the remodeling of the double-wide we bought last spring. We bought it in late March and left for Texas April 2nd. We decided to paint when we get back. Once we returned to Florida in the middle of October, however, we decided the kitchen needed some work on the cabinets, and then we’d paint. It’s now December 12, and the kitchen will be done when the new floor covering is in (coming soon to the Home Depot!). Never say you’re going to “just paint” when you’re married to a carpenter/electrician/plumber perfectionist!!! I’m the painter, he does the rest, but I feed him well so that keeps him happy! After 30 years of marriage, we’ve decided we will definitely live through this whole-house renovation project, and it will be lovely when it’s done!

We’ll miss not being there with Kris for Christmas this year, the way we were last year. But Kris’s family is close by and they will be with her I’m sure. Russell said they attended the special Christmas party for residents this past Thursday evening. He took a picture of Kris with Santa, and he said she even tried some stuffing at the dinner. These are all positive things and we just thank God for and for giving us such hope. This is the time of year to have hope, after all, to rejoice in that Hope, and to praise Him for every joy that we have, and even for the rough spots. Corrie Ten Boom once said, “In order to feel the worth of the Anchor, we need to feel the stress of the storm.”

May your Christmas be blessed, may your New Year be filled with health and happiness, and may you find the peace that is brought to us in the form of a Babe in a manger. This is the time when it’s hard to be away from all our children and grandchildren, and so we wish all of them a joyous Christmas, too. But Jesus is the reason we celebrate, after all, and so, with grateful hearts, we wish to all of you... a very Merry Christmas!

Blessings and love,

Carol and George


Truly I meant to put Kris’s mailing address in last night’s update. Now that several people have already asked me, George said, “Why don’t you send it out to everyone now!” Good idea!!!

Maj Kristine Ratliff

Country Care Manor

2736 FM 775, Room 302

LaVernia, TX 78121

At this beautiful season of Hope and Love, Kris will be delighted to hear from any who wish to send a card. And, again, a very Merry Christmas to you all!

Blessings and love,

Carol and George

God is so good…

Don checked online for an airline ticket to Nashville and found nothing for less than $700+…. ouch.  As you may know, I swallowed my pride and sent out a request for air points.  Within a couple of hours, God had provided a ticket for me for next Thursday.  That’s day after tomorrow!!  Wow! God is awesome!!  Many, many thanks to my step-nephew who works for an airline, for stepping out with mega blessings.  The airline even flies out of McAllen, so Don will not have to drive me to San Antonio or Corpus Christi and back to the Tip alone.  The McAllen airport is about 10-15 minutes from our park.

I hardly know where to start to get ready.  Don took me shopping for a pair of boots… it’s colder in northwest Georgia than it is in the Rio Grande Valley of Texas this time of year.  Found a really comfy pair at a really good price.

I have really fretted about leaving Don alone, but God has worked this all out way ahead of me, so I know Don will be alright.  My Heavenly Father is the best keeper and I trust Him.

… All the time.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Christmas fellowship with friends

This evening, we were invited to Gene and Rosalyn’s for a little Christmas fellowship time with friends.100_0088Wava loves to bake!!100_0080100_0081100_0082100_0085Rosalyn’s cousin and Wava’s husband, Ralph, makes the punch.100_0083Rosalyn sets out plates and cups.100_0086

Wava serves up the punch.  It was yummy!100_0087

Well, this is where we were when I got the call from my brother that Mama Trudy wasn’t doing well at all.  I have some mental processing to do.