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Binvenidos! Bienvenue! Benvenuto! Willkommen! Aloha! Irashaimasu! ようこそ! Welkom! Selamat datang! ברוכים הבאים! Velkomen! Witajcie! वेलकम Bemvindo! Dobro pozhalovat'! Ласкаво просимо! Mabuhay! أهلا وسهلا! Maeva! Yin dee! Isibingelelo! Croeso! Bine ai venit! Witamy! 歡迎!Maligayang pagdating! Vítejte! ยินดีต้อนรับ Fáilte!
For first time readers...my journey begins here: THE VERY FIRST BLOG POST (CC1)

Meaning of life

"The meaning of life is to find your gift. The purpose of life is to give it away." ~ Pablo Picasso

HOPPY EASTER!

HOPPY EASTER!

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

I've Met My Match

Well, where do I begin? Nothing earth-shattering, just trying to get back into the swing of things. I've said it before and I will say it again...I KNOW I'M ONE OF THE LUCKY ONES!

I'm now into my 7 year Cancerversary and life should have returned to "normal" a long time ago. As a cancer patient you fight hard to survive as you watch some on your fellow warriors lose their battle and you begin to wonder if you are next. I started this blog as a means to communicate to friends and family what was going on in my life so I wouldn't have to repeat myself every time the phone rang.

Over time it morphed into a way to vent about my struggles and then a way to help others through theirs. As time progressed some of those I met at hospitals, doctor's offices, and this blog became friends. We shared our highs and lows through emails and other social media, but then things started to change. One by one I lost some of those people I began to feel so close to. We shared things with each other that only a fellow cancer patient would understand and we helped each other through of the rough times. Some of the emails I sent would not be returned and later I found they had lost their fight. Soon I would morn people I only knew for one reason, cancer. Some I had only known online.

I guess I should have realized this would happen, but I never realized the magnitude and the number that would die. Some of these people I knew for years. Last December I had the hardest blow of all. Jeanne Sather helped me edit this blog at times. Because of her blog, The Assertive Cancer Patient, which I referred to as 'Bitch Don't Mess With Me!" she helped me through more than just cancer.

One story she helped me with and I am most proud of was "DEAD MAN TALKING."  A story of a fellow tongue cancer patient who was losing his battle and finally passed before we put the finishing touches on the story. Bob Pemberton was the first cancer friend that really hit me hard because we had the very same oral cancer. When I heard the news of Jeanne's passing I just went into a fog. She fought so hard to stay alive. There was nothing more she could have done to survive that she hadn't already tried. This woman was a force to be reckoned with.

She was a professional writer, editor, teacher, National Merit Scholar, jewelry designer, and lived with cancer for 13 years. She studied in Kobe, Japan, achieved a Master's Degree and Japanese Language and a second Master's Degree in Journalism. Jeanne was a translator, worked for a Japanese Broadcasting company and also worked for Newsweek among other news organizations. All this while adopting and raising two boys.

I guess this remains the hardest part about this blog and the people I meet because of cancer. There are times I get so tired of explaining how I can talk, how hard it was living on a feeding tube for so long, and how much my life has changed. I tried to wipe away the bad memories and pretend all is well and the worst is behind me. Looking in a mirror doesn't help. My battle scars are plentiful and bring me back to the day I lost my tongue every time I gaze into one. I avoid mirrors as much as possible and don't even allow pictures to be taken anymore.

Jeanne once asked me to send her a current picture and as tough as it was I sent here one. She was being kind I know, but she sent a simple note back..."Very handsome man." Friends have said I've had the scars and bandages for so long they don't even notice them because they know me from within. A very kind way to see others and so appreciated.

On occasion a stranger wanders by and has to ask the inevitable question often at a time I'm feeling very normal and cancer is not even on my mind. Then with one sentence I'm back on the operating table. Last week I was out in the front yard trying to tend to the flower beds when two young brothers four and five years old walked past eating candy. They stopped and very politely asked.."What happened?"

Doppler wires that came out of my neck 3/14

A few days before this I had another battle with those damn Doppler wires coming out of my neck. Last year at this same time I had the same problem. This year four more tiny wires worked their way out of my neck infecting it and causing great discomfort. Once again I am bandaged up for the quadbillionth time. I've been one big bandage for longer than I can recall!

I had surgery SEVEN years ago and my body is still SLOWLY rejecting the shrapnel I was told was made of surgical grade material and I would not have a problem with. THEY WERE WRONG!!!

Total Doppler wires that have come out between  2007-1013

ANYWAY...As the two young boys approached and asked politely the very question I am so tired of answering, I went right to my canned smartass answer. I sharply replied, "What happened? You mean to my face and neck? I got hit by a bus!" The young boy thought for a moment and then replied in a very serious tone, "Oh, well then...you should have driving the bus!" He put his liquorice stick to his mouth, pulled with a snap, and happily continued his walk down the street.

BAM! I've just been one-upped by a four year old! Yes, sometimes you just have to find the humor in all of it. Even if it takes a little man to remind you! Cancer can be funny.


Peace B




Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Tuesday, December 31, 2013

HAPPY NEW YEAR!

Expect Nothing. 
Embrace Everything. 
Love Everyone. 
Find Peace.
B

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Heifer International

I BOUGHT A COW!!!

"Why buy the cow when you can get the milk for free?"

There are several animals and other needs you can buy to help this charity. You can even buy a partial share in an animal. When you donate your hard earned money to a charity are you sure what your money is used for or how much of it goes to "executive expenses" that never reach the needy?

As you scramble for that last minute tax deduction, think about buying an animal for Heifer International. The business model is a sustainable method of using funds and not just throwing cash at the problem feeding only a select few. Your dollars buy something with a perpetual result, not just feeding people one time. It provides things they need to grow their own foods, teaching them that with their own hard work and your gift they can be independent.

Your gift does not just benefit one person. Families who receive your gift become donors as they pass the gift on to other families in their community. This allows them to help countless others as you have helped them.

If you can donate even a small amount, please help.

May you all have a blessed New Year!

Peace B 

HEIFER INTERNATIONAL LIFESAVING GIFT CATALOG


Wednesday, December 25, 2013

UNTO US A CHILD IS BORN...

MERRY CHRISTMAS TO ALL, AND TO ALL A GOODNIGHT!

My First Christmas Card
Mommy & Me
On a cold snowy winter's night in Detroit, Michigan, a child was born. My mother was dressed as Santa because of her big baby belly. She Ho-Ho-Ho'd one too many times delivering gifts and her water broke. Mommy then delivered her most precious Christmas gift ever, Me!

I wrote this for my mom as a gentle reminder of that exhausting Christmas day:


Hello Christmas!
by Brian N. Walin

It’s all warm and cozy, my cheeks nice and rosy. I cuddle and coo, like most babies do. I want to stay in here, with my mother so near. It’s just a small bedroom, though could use more headroom.

I hear noise surrounded, I’m kind of astounded. The music I hear is about a reindeer. I hear my Dad bellow, and Mom shakes like Jell-O. They’re having so much fun, but it’s my time to be Son.

I squirm and I kick and I even pick. And all I can hear are words of St. Nick. On Dasher, on Prancer, I’m sure you all know. But my Mom is showing, it’s my time to go. The party must stop now, it’s my time to drop now. I haven’t a care, I soon will be there.

So off we go rushing it’s my party now. I can only imagine, Mom feels like a cow. She turns and she twists, she’s barring down hard. I can only hope now, I won’t pop in the yard. We get to the Doctor he’s waiting inside, I’m kind of excited about this whole ride.

It’s my time to jump out, but I still have some doubt. I think I will stay in here, if just for one more year. It’s really not that bad, but I can hear my Dad. “Let’s go you small squirt. I want to see my lad!”

So out I go bouncing it’s so good to see, that I have become part of this family. It’s so great to see you, you’re all here for me. Then out of my eyes I spy a small tree. All of the sudden, a nip and a tuck, this just can’t be happening, it must be bad luck. A slap on the ass follows this all, and then I feel pain and I start to ball.

Why did you do that? I’ve done nothing wrong. I’ve really been so good, all evening long. There’s no need to hit me, I’m sure you will see. I’ll try to be real good, for this family. Don’t hit me now, I just want to stay. I promise I’ll brighten all of your day. Just give me a chance and teach me real well. I promise I’ll try not to put you through hell.

This day has been trying and awfully hard, but I thank God now, I’m not in the yard. I really can’t tell what had gone wrong, but I’ll always remember the deer from that song. It seems to be clear about those reindeer. That’s how it all started with me being here.

A swoop and coddle with cloths that do swaddle. I’m warm and I’m cozy my cheeks again rosy. I just need some sleep, I won’t make a peep, just let me drift off and start counting my sheep. This room is much bigger, it just seems so right. But I need my sleep now, I bid you good night.

December 25, 1960

©2005 Brian N. Walin (All rights reserved)


First day on the job and already napping. I just popped out and boy am I exhausted!

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

The Christmas Tree

Wish We Could Be Together At Christmas

I know some of you might have read this story before, but every year as the tree goes up I stop in peace to pay tribute to my wonder father. I think this Christmas story bears repeating. Happy Holidays! Peace B 

I grew up in Michigan. My aunt had a very realistic imitation Christmas tree manufactured by Mountain King, which I loved. I searched high and wide to find this tree, to place in the lobby of my new restaurant. When I was unable to locate one, I mentioned to my father during one of our nightly phone calls, “When I return home for the holidays this year, I’m buying a Mountain King to bring back to California.”

I searched for that Mountain King tree in California with no avail. It seemed the majority of Californians purchased real trees. I never agreed with the idea of cutting down a tree just for a few weeks of self gratification. I admit, they are beautiful and fill a home with a heavenly aroma, but I can’t kill a tree for that reason. Just the thought of the shear national number of trees cut only for this reason each year, makes me ill.

I was only in business for 6 months as the holidays approached. I wanted so badly to return home, to Detroit, to see my father for Christmas. I was born on this day and this has always been my favorite time of the year.

It wasn’t going to be easy, but I thought I could slip away between December 24 and 26. I was expecting business to be slow those days, but knew New Years was going to rock, so I had to return before. The crew was still green and I was still learning how to run a business. I don’t know what I was thinking, but I was going home! I missed my dad.

Nightly, I spoke with my father on the phone to discuss the day’s events. I’d bitch or brag and he’d listen and offer advice when he could. My father was a good man with the best work ethic of anyone I’ve ever known. He was a good listener and always offered sound advice.

Al Starkey and his wife Marge were new Little Caesar franchisees and had come to my restaurant to learn, while they waited for their first location to open in Monterey, California. Al and Marge were much older. Well... all the other franchisees were much older. I was the youngest franchisee at the time. Al wanted more experience running a Carry-Out unit and I needed the help, so it was a win, win.

I remember that day so clearly. It was a busy dinner rush and I was working the register. In the beginning, I had a hard time letting anyone touch the money. We had 4 phone lines that were constantly ablaze during the dinner hour. As I opened the cash drawer to make change, I heard an employee say, “Brian, it’s for you.”

“Is it an emergency?” a question I would ask anytime a personal phone call came in during a busy hour. I always heard a no, but this time the employee said, “Yes, it is!”

I was handed the phone and had a bad feeling in my gut. It was my Aunt Carol. This is a woman who NEVER calls. All she said was, “Brian, are you sitting down?”

Instantly I knew there was something wrong with my father, but before I had a chance to calculate it, she tearfully said, “Your father is dead.” At that point everything stood still. All I remember is sinking to the floor behind the front counter with the cash drawer left wide open and unattended as Al swooped down like an enormous eagle and scooped me up in his arms as I screamed, “NO!” with tears streaming down my face.

I wasn’t supposed to fly back for a few days and I wasn’t near prepared to leave at this moment. How will the restaurant run while I’m gone? I will need to be away now for more than a few days and I only have one assistant manager in my employ. I had no manager since that was my role. Who will make the deposits, get bank change, place the food order, pay the bills? Who’s going to sign the payroll checks? I will be thousands of miles away and for how long? What am I going to do?

It was all a blur, but in less than 12 hours I was on my way to the airport and a Corporate Little Caesar Supervisor was being flown up from Los Angeles to run my restaurant until I returned. There wasn’t anybody else closer to help. My restaurant was the first in the Bay Area.

When I arrived at the San Francisco airport, there were people everywhere, sleeping on luggage. The airport looked like a homeless shelter. Dozens of flights were canceled due to inclement weather. I waited in such a long line staring blankly at everyone and everything, not knowing how I even got to the airport.

Al had called our corporate headquarters and made arrangements for the supervisor and then managed to get me packed and rushed to the airport. I was on autopilot without a clue what was happening.

As I approached the United Airlines ticket counter, I handed the lady my ticket. It was for a flight on the 24th of December and today was the 22nd. I vaguely recall the conversation, but it didn’t go well. She assumed I was just trying to get on an early flight, because of the holidays. All flights out of SFO to Detroit were booked for days because of the weather.

I explained my father had died and I had to return home today. She accused me of lying, sighting that I already had a ticket and that she was sure I was just trying to leave earlier. She asked for proof of his death and requested a copy of his death certificate. With that I exploded. All my emotions came spewing out. “I don’t have one! He just died!” I snapped. With authority she responded, “I need to see some type of proof.”

I became enraged, belligerent in fact. “My father is dead dammit! I’m not lying to you! What the hell is wrong with you? Why would I make something like that up?” I was so loud and she was so offended and scared from my anger she called security.

I was escorted, screaming, into a private room, calling everybody, "Crazy!” It was I that was falling off the deep end. The security officer calmed me down and asked if there was a way to call the funeral home for more information. Once they confirmed my father was indeed deceased, EVERYBODY’S demeanor changed. My coach ticket was exchanged for a first class seat and I was on the next plane to Detroit. They couldn't do enough to make up for their mistake.

Seated next to me was a young boy, perhaps five years old, traveling alone with a large bag of toys. The flight attendant was well aware of my dilemma and apologized for the seating arrangement, but that was all that was available. It didn’t matter, just keep feeding me drinks (Black Russians) for the next 5 hours and I’ll be fine. I just want to go home!

I drifted off to sleep and the young boy escaped from his seat. That was just fine with me, until a very angry man stood before me, screaming at me, “Keep your brat and his toys out of the isles! His sh*t is everywhere!"

Apparently the lone child took out all of his toys from the paper bag his mommy packed and had strewn them all over the coach cabin without a care. As the angry man verbally assaulted me, I stood up to explain he's not my kid and fired back at my assailant, telling him to go f*ck himself. I think it took the entire flight crew to restrain the two of us. If this would have happened today, with all the flight regulations they have, we both would have been jailed.

They escorted the man back to his coach seat, picked up all the toys throughout the cabin and instructed the boy not to leave his seat again. I requested yet another drink, as the little tyke said to me, “You don’t like me, do you?”

“Right now? NO, I don’t!” I scowled, and the little boy pouted as tears welled in his eyes. “Look,” I said to him, “Let's make a deal. I’ll make you a tent to play in if you just be good, deal?”

That made him happy and I pulled out his tray table and shrouded it with an over-sized blanket. He disappeared into the darkness of the blanket and quietly played with a toy. It was peace on Earth…well peace at 35,000 feet anyway!

When I arrived, I was pleasantly plumbed from all the free liquor. My Aunt Carol was waiting at the baggage claim to pick me up. I insisted on immediately going to the house where I grew up. My aunt didn’t think it was a good idea. “Your father died in that house.” She expressed with concern. My two aunts and a neighbor were the ones that found my father dead in his arm chair.

“I don’t care. I didn’t see it and it doesn’t bother me. I want to go home!” I insisted. When we arrived, I let myself in and closed the door leaving my aunt outside, so I could be alone with my thoughts. I don't even recall saying good-bye.

As I entered my home I was in awe. Before me, lit up so beautifully in the living room, was the most precious gift I have ever been given. There stood the most spectacular Mountain King Christmas tree I have ever seen. It was decorated in all blue and green. My father, being the perfectionist that he was, had purchased strings of blue and strings of green lights. But, to make it perfect, he managed to exchange every other bulb, so they were arranged: blue, green, blue, green, blue, green. He knew only I could appreciate such an effort. Can you imagine the time that took?

The Most Beautiful Christmas Tree EVER!

There were blue satin bells and blue satin balls hanging, yards of blue and green tinseled garland, blue tinsel icicles, all topped with a huge blue velvet bow. To perfectly finish it off, wrapped around the base was a tree skirt that was made for my first Christmas birthday by a loving aunt. It was spectacular! Through my tears I spied a Christmas card propped at the base of the tree. I felt my father in the room with me as I slowly reached down to read the card:

“Wish We Could Be Together At Christmas. You were the best Christmas present I ever had.   Love Dad”

As I read, endless tears streamed down my cheeks. I fell to my knees and whimpered uncontrollably, gasping for breath. How did he know we would never see each other again? "Wish We Could Be Together At Christmas???" He knew I had a ticket to come home. I reread the card over and over “Wish We Could Be Together” It still read the same. How did he know?

The Most Beautiful Christmas Card EVER!

I cried myself to sleep that night and quenched the moon with my tears, curled up like a baby beneath the shimmering blue and green until daybreak fell upon the room, the wetness in my eyes still present from my crescendo of tears.

After the funeral there was so much to arrange and many bills to pay. When my father’s credit card bill arrived, the story of the tree gained clarity. My father bought the tree and decorations the very day he died.

My father died after he finished putting up and decorating that wondrous tree. Judging by his time of death, 11:05 PM, December 20, he purchased the tree that afternoon, spent hours putting it up and decorating, and began his nightly ritual; getting ready for bed, showering, putting on his PJ’s, then sitting down to watch the 11 o'clock news in his favorite tangerine colored Naugahyde armchair, seated within his bedroom. He passed away in that chair of a heart attack. I was told it was so massive, he probably never knew what hit him.

Two years passed and I could not bare to reconstruct the tree. It never made it into my restaurant still dormant after being placed back into its original box. I kept it for myself thinking someday I might put it up in my home, but it hurt too much to even look at the box. Eventually I gave in and thought, “He wanted me to have this tree to enjoy. He died giving me this tree to enjoy. Dammit, start enjoying it!" So, every year you will find dad’s tree lovingly displayed at Christmas, decorated as he left it for me to find, with the tree skirt and his card beneath.

To Dad,
Wish we could be togetheaChristmasYou were thbesfathea socould evehave.

Love Brian

Thursday, August 1, 2013

LIFE KEEPS GETTING IN THE WAY OF ME DYING!

TODAY I MADE MY FINAL PAYMENT TO MD ANDERSON CANCER CENTER for saving my life and most of you will be sorry for the rest of YOUR life! It's like paying off a house! When you do that you have a mortgage burning party...what do I burn for this occasion??? :-)~

NO I don't condone smoking...just thought it was a funny photo

BILLS, BILLS, BILLS

When the bills begin to pile up and all you want to do is survive...what do you do? I have met so many people who struggle with paying medical bills while trying to live a comfortable life in the process. Most hospitals and some doctors will allow a reasonable payment program to be set up giving you the opportunity to make a fixed monthly payment. Be proactive about this and don't wait until you start receiving collection notices. But when life saving services run into the hundreds of thousands of dollars like mine and you still have a 30% co-pay, you could be faced with an amount equivalent to a house payment.

For this reason even people who have good health insurance are forced into bankruptcy just to stay alive. Sometimes the entire family ends up sucked into this downward spiral at the darkest hour. I've met a few who have had to do this and I often wonder what I would do in that situation. For me, so far, I've been lucky. I have the resources and the access to some of the best medical care available. And as I pay off one hospital, I continue to incur more debt in the next. Even when you are considered cancer free, there is still some maintenance with a watch and wait protocol as well as other lingering problems associated with treatment. There are things I need (or want) that I'm not able to have because of the mounting debt I've incurred, but I'm one of the lucky ones who has the resources to stay ahead.

As I look around the house I realize how much I let go, because I was just too sick to care or was too afraid to spend any money, so I wouldn't lose my home if things got really tough. YES, I can be a tightwad...I prefer the term "frugal" thank you very much! Perhaps I shouldn't have worried so much about not getting things done, but when the roof starts leaking, the house hasn't been painted in over a decade, a second car that hasn't run in over 3 years is sitting in the driveway, and you're sleeping on a 30 year old lumpy mattress, it's probably time to get motivated. Because I've seen the financial devastation of others along the way I can't help but worry. I started my career early, made a lot of money, and invested well. My life was planned out so that by the time I was 50, (2 years ago) I could do anything I wanted in comfort.

I was going to travel, see the world, and set up a foundation to help others in need. I had two great ideas. I wanted to create a hospital camouflaged as a dude ranch, run like a vacation resort, for terminally ill patients providing one last positive family memory and a non-profit restaurant chain that could sustain itself financially providing housing, jobs, and food, for the homeless. (Another blog for another day) As most do, I planned the perfect life. For some it's only a dream, but for me it was happening, I worked hard and it looked like nothing was going to stop me. But as what happens with most dreams, reality slaps you upside the head and you snap out of it. Failed heath put the brakes on faster than I ever knew possible.

My father used to say, "If you have your health, you have everything." I never paid attention to that because I was very healthy my whole life until one day in my early 30's that all ended and life became more difficult. I didn't plan well in the event of a medical setback. Who really thinks about that when you're young? My business wasn't set up to run without me and I wasn't smart enough (or too cheap frugal) to put all the insurances in place in the event I lost my income. My father used to also say, "You can be insurance poor if you over insure, so choose wisely." My problem is, I didn't choose much at all. According to the Social Security Administration: "Studies show that just over 1 in 4 of today's 20 year-olds will become disabled before reaching age 67."

There are programs like AFLAC, mortgage disability insurance, and long term disability insurances that are available, but good luck qualifying after you're diagnosed with a severe illness. Fortunately for me I had several business that provided me the income not to worry too much about not having those extra coverages. Although if they were in place, I would not have had to dramatically alter my lifestyle. However, by the time I was 38, it became obvious I was no longer able to continue the fast paced life I was leading, working 16 hour days and wearing several hats in the process. My health was failing and I knew I had to sell everything and downsize in order to survive and maintain a comfortable life. This was a pivotal financial move I had to make or I would have gone into bankruptcy for sure. The dreams of traveling the world came to an end. The hunger to give back and set up a foundation to help those in need sadly vanished as I became one of those in need.

REMEMBERING THE FALLEN

My life now is not at all what I expected or planned for, but I'm alive. When I look at others who lost their life to cancer, I get angry. I truly believe that if I didn't have a team of lawyers and accountants guiding me, access to the best doctors across the country and have the resources to pay them, even with health insurance, I would not be here. I often think of a fellow tongue cancer patient, John who posted here regularly before one day he didn't return my email.

John was a very entertaining fellow. He had a quick wit and a caring soul. He used to make me laugh because he would email me recipes for biscuits and cookies. I would think to myself, "I'm on a feeding tube just like you. What the hell am I supposed to do with a Snickerdoodle recipe?" He was always upbeat even when sharing his darkest fears. He even took the time to share his greatest accomplishments as he battled his enemy. Sometimes we don't appreciate the little things in life, and we take something as simple as swallowing for granted, but to a man that lost his tongue to cancer as John did, it's the greatest feat in the world. Because of my similar journey, I understand. This email from John's shares one of his greatest accomplishments during his battle:

"Is the doctor in?

Well, At 6:15 this AM I was able to swallow water for the first time in over 8 weeks.  Now it is only little tiny bits of water. Nothing like what you all can swallow.  BUT, I'll take it.  for the first time in a long time, my throat feels moistened.  When I took some water into my mouth and tilted my head back, I swallowed. I could feel the water go all the way down,  from the back of my throat to the bottom of the belly.  Man I tell you, the things we all take for granted. 

 Just thought I would share, 
 JR"

John was a hard working man, lived in Indiana, did not have a large income, and no savings. He exhausted his insurance and was unable to continue to pay his premiums. He was on a feeding tube and was unable to afford the life sustaining liquid formula he required, the same that I was on for over two years. This canned formula was about $36 a case and he needed a minimum of six cases a month. Typically Medicare (or Medicaid) will pay for this IF you're already on the program. Unfortunately for John, he was already on his feeding tube after his tongue was surgically removed still trying to work his way into the Medicaid system after being rejected once or twice. He waited too long to begin the paperwork and he didn't have the resources to pay the mounting debt he was incurring.

One of his last emails still resonates with me. He was trying to stay in good spirits. John was a real trouper, but he really was scared and financially destitute. He was contemplating hiring a disability attorney to get his Medicaid coverage. Every ounce of his energy was used to hang on to life, he no longer had the energy to battle the paperwork too. When he told me he couldn't afford his formula, I was infuriated. Yes, he should have started the disability paperwork sooner, but when you think you will get better and you're just too exhausted to even worry it, things slide. But there is no reason why a person should have to starve because of paperwork when he obviously qualified for assistance! I was so angry!  I sent John four cases of formula and a case of pouches (required to pour the formula into) just to get him by. I never heard from him after that.

One day I got an email from a relative thanking me for my kindness and telling me of John's passing. I never met the man, but I mourned his loss as though he was my brother. I can't even write this without crying because in my mind he didn't have to die.

 I carry with me a lot of survivor's remorse. There are so many such people from around the world I have met through this blog and sitting around in hospital waiting rooms who are no longer with us and I ask myself..."What have I done differently to still be breathing?" The standing family joke is...God doesn't want me because he's afraid I'll takeover and reorganize the place! A fair assumption.

Had I not been surrounded by the right people with the resources to afford the level of care I needed, I would be having dinner with John right now. I try so hard to live a good life, to respect the fact that I'm still here for some reason, to make others happy and laugh and give back the very best I can. I love giving small gifts of appreciation just to see others smile. I enjoy engaging in conversation to help others see life from a different perspective in an effort to make them think and become better people. I know I'm so fortunate that I'm still on this rock to do so and yet there just seems to be something missing...a sadness that looms overhead.

 I've had a great life even if it didn't work out as planned, but more importantly I still have a life! I only wish there was more I could do. I think I mourn the fact that I will probably never see all that this world has to offer. I have always had a hunger for knowledge and new experiences. Unfortunately, lately those new experiences have been mostly shrouded in the medical arena. Perhaps I'm just bored, maybe a little depressed, and still feeling useless. But it's time to get those projects done before the house falls down around me. Life just keeps getting in the way of me dying!

Peace B

JOHN'S HEAVENLY RECIPES

Snickerdoodles

These cookies will be the perfect slightly crunchy on the outside rim and chewy in the center. I have worked on this recipe for one year off and on.  This is exactly how I make them and they turn out every time.  It is also less grams of trans fat and can be 0 sugar if using Splenda.  How about that...a Cookie that is better for you.

2 3/4 cups all purpose flour
2 tsp cream of tartar plus one half pinch
1 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup (softened to room temp)  Smart Balance 50-50 butter blend ( You could use real butter I think, but DO NOT  use margarine.  IT WILL NOT WORK!
1/2 cup Crisco butter flavored shortening
1 1/2 cups sugar ( You could substitute Splenda Granular sugar- use same amount)
2 eggs
2 tsp vanilla extract

Cream Butter and shortening
Add eggs, vanilla and mix some more
Add all remaining ingredients except for cream of tartar, mix well, then add the cream of tartar and mix well again.  ( It is exactly what I did) 
Preheat oven to 375

form into 1.5 inch balls and roll in a cinnamon-sugar mixture.
1/2 cup sugar
6 T cinnamon

Or how ever you like the mixture.  Some like more, some like less.

Place on ungreased cookie sheet,flatten a little and bake for exactly 10 minutes.  no less than 9 minutes and NO MORE than 10.

Let cool for one minute and scoop cookies onto a cooling rack to finish cooling.  ( otherwise the cookie will continue to cook)

(Side note)  If you have an idea to just cook for less time to allow for cookie to continue to cook on pan, DON'T.  This this will make the cookie cakey. Also use echo bakeware. Do not use air bake pans!

Biscuits

Ok, I know this may sound odd and you may want to substitute or change the way you do this.  Do NOT fall into temptation.  It may make a biscuit, but it will not make the correct biscuit. So exactly as I say and you will have a most wonderful product.
First tip.  Everything must be chilled for 2 hours.  We all know that you will have the buttermilk and cream already chilled. Chill the flour and salt and lard as well.  THIS IS IMPORTANT STEP!  Chill it all for no less than two hours.

2 cups of Gold Medal Self Rising Flour plus (1.5 Tablespoons reserved)
1/2 t of salt
1/2 c of lard  YES LARD Shortening will not work.  (Read the labels, same amount of fat)
1t of cream of tartar

2/3 c buttermilk
2/3 c half and half

Preheat oven to 475 Spray a pan with cooking spray.  I used a cast iron skillet for my pan.

Mix flour and salt together well.  Then add lard.  crumble with you fingers until crumbles are no larger than pea size.  Just rub the lard and flour with your fingers.  Do not over mix.  (Do not use your hands, they hold heat)  Use fingers

Now make a well in the mixture and pour half and half and buttermilk into well.   Mix until just mixed, do not over work, you may use hands but be careful not to over mix.  The dough will be sticky and wet.  Scrape you hands off and use the reserved flour on your hands and a bit into the mixture to fold dough so that you can turn it onto the rolling board.  OR as I do.....the counter.

Pat the dough out until about 1 inch thick and cut into biscuits.  I used a glass to have nice big ones.  Put into pan and bake in oven until golden brown.   About 15 min. or so, depends on how your oven is.  NO PEAKING, peaking all the time will cause the temp to go down.  Use your lite to see how they are doing.
I use an egg wash to get them nice a golden.
1 egg
2 T milk

mix well and brush onto the top when just starting to turn brown.About 10 minutes into the baking process.  They will rise well and be light and fluffy. 

Words To Live By:

"The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service to others." -Mahatma Gandhi

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