Monthly Archives: May 2009

I would like to update a few things from my brother, Nelson.

Yesterday, Rose called me to tell me that Nelson was out of surgery and the doctor reported that everything went well.  He said that there were lots of contusions to the spinal column, and that he repaired what he could, fused what needed fusing and that he continued to have great expectations for a full recovery.  He said that the numbness and lack of motor coordination that Nel was experiencing was from the swelling around the fractured C-1 and C-2 vertebrae and that Nel will need therapy to recover from the damage that has been done there. He said when you have the weight of a body falling as far as Nel did, there just ARE going to be broken bones.  Once again, we acknowlege that things could have been much, much worse.

It was a long day at the hospital, but Rose continued to express a peace and a gratefulness and a spirit of pluckiness and willingness to do the best possible thing at any given time.  She amazes me!!!  And the relationships that Nel (and she) have built over these last years are coming home to comfort and bless, and that makes all of us most thankful.
This morning I talked to Rose just before leaving to go to Dover’s Festival, and Nel had a pretty good night.  The halo was in place, and he needed to be flat on his back, at least for a certain amount of hours.  Rose spent the night, and was able to swab his mouth and help him when he needed something.  The problems with the right arm were the biggest concern when Rose talked to me.  The doctor had been in and said that the spinal cord was bruised at the site of the C-1 and C-2 fracture, and that is why there were problems with numbness, aching and some lack of control.  He continued to maintain that the pain and the ability to move at all were positive signs and said that he still thought that therapy would bring back at least most of it.  I am including this picture and explanation of the brace.  I was certainly interested in how it looked, and maybe some more of you would like to see it, too.
halo traction brace
The halo brace is often used as the initial treatment for odontoid fractures (located at the second cervical vertebrae of the neck). The halo brace has been used as the initial treatment for odontoid fractures. A “halo” metal ring is secured to the skull with pins and to two metal rods attached to a well-fitted plastic jacket. With this apparatus, it is possible to obtain complete fixation and to arrest almost all movement of the cervical spine. The outcome of this treatment varies with fractures healing and fusing within 3 months in 15% to 85% of patients.
When they got into the spine yesterday, they found some additional damage.  The T-1 and T-2 vertebra were very badly damaged.  The one was ruptured and the other severely herniated.  They “fixed” that.  The T-3 and T-4 were the ones that were fractured and unstable, so they fixed that.  The T-8 and T-9 were fractured (as they knew) but were stable.  A very interesting thing that they found was an old fracture in one of the torso vertebrae.  The doctor says that he suspects that fracture happened when Nel was a teenager!  That is really fascinating.
Nel has two ribs broken in his back, up near his shoulder, and the doctor said those are specific to an high impact blow.  Otherwise these ribs do not break.  Also, this morning they X-rayed his hand because it appeared that there may be a fracture there that has been overlooked in the greater scheme of things.  With the later news of today, I completely forgot to find out what was wrong there, but I am sure that I will hear eventurally. They estimate that he fell about 20 feet, and landed on the landing of the stairway that was on a cement floor.  If he had been three feet in almost any direction, he would have landed on concrete.  The medical personnel are so impressed with Nel’s general health — his blood pressure, his oxygen levels, etc., but they are quick to say that if it had been concrete that he landed on, this story could be so different.
This afternoon, when Mama and I were on our way home from the festival, the phone rang, and it was Rose, and she was so excited I could hardly understand her.  This is almost unbelievable, but they got Nel up today.  He even walked a little bit with assistance, and they were able to seat him in a recliner of some sort.  They were testing his range of motion and fine motor skills, and asked him to please lift his left hand high in the air.  “Like he was praising the Lord” said Rose.  Up it went, and without any difficulty at all.  Then it was time for that uncooperative right hand, and Rose said that it didn’t want to cooperate at first, but eventually it also made it ALL THE WAY UP!!!  Just like the left hand.  And some of the fine motor skills were exactly where they should be, too.  It is a marvelous!  It was Wonderful!  Nelson is so pleased, of course, but Rose and their family are almost beside  themselves with joy.
Nel is in good spirits.  The pain medication seems to be holding him pretty steady, though they are being careful to not over-medicate.  His family is in and out, and he is talking, alert, and even joking.  Rose expresses a deep appreciation for the prayers and the encouraging words that have been offered on their behalf.  “This is a tough time,” she says philosophically, “and Nel and I will be spending lots and lots of time directly together, and it will not always be easy.  But this what we need to do to get Nelson better.  The doctor says that the order of business is ‘healing, physical therapy, and good food’ and that is something I can do for Nel.  I can cook him good food, and I will!!!”  She makes me laugh so often.  I told her again this morning that I am so glad for the gal my brother married.  She is so good for him, and she will throw her heart and soul into helping him get better.
I must run.  I had Mama up to the festival today, and we both had barbecued chicken and potato salad and shared a funnel cake.  Oh, yes.  Something else.  We both bought absolutely lovely quilts for ridiculously low prices.  I will have to put a picture on here when I get a chance. 
Wowser, am I tired tonight!!!  But it is a good kind of tired.  Tomorrow is Sunday, and I should get some rest.   Thanks for all the good wishes, the prayers, and the encouragement to me and our extended family.
 One more thing.  If you at all can, be in church tomorrow morning.  Nothing takes the place of being in the House of the Lord, and worshipping with the people of God.


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Today, Daniel’s office mates had a “Grandpa Shower” for him. We caught him entirely flatfooted.  He had no idea.  At all.  Woo-hoo!  We almost never surprise him, so this was really fun. 

Grandpa shower 001

This is where we’ll go in.  I wonder if he suspects by now.

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He knew there was going to be “breakfast.” 
I had even made sausage gravy for this occasion.
He had dutifully carried it in when he came at 7:30.
He thought it was to celebrate Margaret’s birthday.

Grandpa shower 004

He was mighty surprised.  I had a difficult time sidetracking him. He called me at least three times this morning.  The first time, I was still at home, but sitting in the car in the driveway. After that, I was on my way to Dover when the phone rang.  It was Deborah.

“Mom, Dad called and wanted you and I didn’t know what to say.  I told him you were on the way to Dover.  He wanted to know why, but Linda’s bus was here, so I told him to call your cell phone.”

“Alright, Deborah.  I’ll just see if he calls.”  While I was talking to her, Mama beeped in, so I went to talk to her.  Then Christina’s phone rang.
“Mom, it’s Dad.  I don’t know what to say.  I’m just not going to answer it.”  

Before I was off the phone, Christina’s phone rang again.  It was Deborah.  She said that Daddy was trying to call us, and he was getting just a little bit aggravated.  So I called him.  Decided I would take the initiative and try to settle things down.

“Hey, Sweetheart.  Are you trying to call me???”

“Yes!!!!!  Where are you???”

“I’m with Christina and the baby.”

“Where are you going???”

“To Dover with Christina and the baby.”

“I thought you said that you were going to be home today.”

“No, I didn’t.  I said Christina was coming down and we were going to do some things.  We are on our way to Dover to pick up some stuff for the baby.”  (That was true!)

“Oh-h-h-h-h.  Well, I’m trying to fill out this paper.  Are we signed up for Vision coverage????”

And so I diverted him, and he really was none the wiser.  When we walked into the office, he was in his cubicle, working.

Grandpa shower 009

He looked up to find us there, and he was more astounded than I have seen him for a very long while.

“What are you doing here?”  He said delightedly.  He had been wanting us to bring the baby up for them to see ever since she had been born.

“Well,” I said, “I hear tell that there is a “Grandpa Shower” here this morning.”  He couldn’t believe it, but it really was true.  I guess he just didn’t think they would do such a thing for him.  He is so silly!  Of course, they had to pass the baby around.  Not everyone was comfortable holding it, but there were some who were delighted for the chance!

Grandpa shower 005
Lawson is a grandpa of three, but he actually has a son that is younger than one of his grandchildren.
He knew how to hold a baby!

Grandpa shower 008
Daniel’s boss, Dana, is crazy about babies.  She has two little girls of her own.

Charis got a little fussy, so there was some “Mama time.”
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And then some more arms that wanted a snuggle.

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Bea got a turn

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Then Grandpa got to open some presents — little outfits,
Bottles, diapers, baby wipes, teething toys, etc.
Such a precious assortment of things for Grandpa to have at his house.
It was a really special idea.

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Before we left the office, Daniel’s boss took a picture of Grandpa and Grandma.
By now, Charis was sleeping, so we didn’t take her out to hold her for the picture.

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We made a quick stop over at the public health nurses’ office, and
Grandpa proudly showed him off to his friends there.

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Some of these friends join us for the Christmas open house, and they
have been praying for this baby, too.  Ekwe was delighted that she and Charis “matched.”

Grandpa shower 024

And Lois almost didn’t get a chance to hold her, but she came by,
unstrapped her from her car seat and held her for just a few minutes.
Lois is a very special lady, and she is unusually good with the babies
that are in and out of public health.  Today I saw her with a teenage
mother who had a baby with a “rattle” in his breathing.  She asked a
few questions, listened, gave tender advice and reassured the very
young mama.  I was impressed with her gentleness, expertise and
ability to relate. 

It was a wonderful day.
  What special people we encountered today.

And now, it is off to bed.
Tomorrow is the great



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Evening Update:


Nelson has a broken neck, crushed vertebra, some broken ribs . . .

He was working on the roof of a two story house as I understand it.  Not roofing, but building a roof.  He said that a board went down through and he went down with it, landing on the bottom step of the inside steps on his shoulders and head.  He said that immediately he knew that he had no feeling, no control over his arms and legs.  What a moment that must have been!  As the day has passed, it has been a wonderful mix of relief and joy to see him begin to move his arms and legs.  Nel says that they still “feel funny” and not right somehow, but the doctors are saying that he can expect a full recovery from the way things look now.  Mark Jr. says that he looks good — has oxygen and a neck brace and an IV but Nel is (was) a fit, healthy 57 year old man, and his careful health habits are definitely on his side.  They say it will be a long, hard haul, but I like what Mark said tonight.  “It’s POSSIBLE!!!  For some long dark hours today we didn’t know if it was humanly possible, but seeing Nel move his hands and feet lifted an incredible load from somewhere in my gut!”
A team of doctors will be meeting in the morning to determine the course of treatment.  They say he may need a halo, he may need surgery, he may need both, or he may need neither.  Rose is spending the night, as is their daughter, Joy.  Clint and Mark and Mike started home several hours ago, they dropped Mike off at his house, and they hope to be home by midnight.  I asked how Nel is handling things, and Mark said that he is very subdued.  He can hardly believe that it happened, and the enormity of what might have been is very real to him.  Please pray that God will minister healing to his spirit and mind even as the body heals.  He is experiencing a great deal of pain, so that is something else to pray about.
Thanks again for all your concern and prayers.  It has made all the difference.


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My Brother, Nelson

AAA --  Nel and Rose


Information is still sketchy, but my brother, Nelson, fell today at work, and apparently landed on his head.  He immediately had very little sensation in his arms and legs, and there is reason to believe that his neck is broken.  He is now at the hospital, and the only thing we know is that it seems as if there is more sensation in his arms and legs — but we are still not sure about whether the neck is broken or not.  He does have broken bones, but we aren’t sure where.  Originally it was thought that he could have had a head injury, but the report is that he did not lose consciousness at any time, and that is a very good sign.
Clinton and Mark,Jr. are on their way up to the hospital.  He was air lifted to GEISINGER MEDICAL CENTER – DANVILLE, PA which is some distance from where he lives.  Please pray for Nel and Rose and their family, and that this whole situation would be wrapped in God’s incredible grace and peace.  God is not surprised that Nel fell off a roof and we believe He still has a plan.  The event has already impacted Nel’s crew profoundly.  Nel is greatly loved by the men he works with, and to his great sorrow, some of them are not believers.  Pray that God will use this for good in the lives of the many people who know and love Nel.  The days ahead will not be easy for him or for his family, but it doesn’t change the fact that what may have been intended for evil can be used to further God’s Kingdom in the hearts of humans.
I will try to update.  Thanks for praying. 



N&R  Nel and Sophia 1



Clint and Mark,Jr. picked up Nel’s son, Mike in Quarryville and they arrived at the hospital about an hour ago.  They have seen and talked to Nel who was in a hallway there.  He was moving his arms and legs some.  The staff was getting him to his room.  He has some broken vertebra, but it appears that nothing has penetrated the spinal cord. 
We believe that this is nothing but the prayers of God’s people.  His wife, Rose arrived at the site of the accident in time to see them turn him over and she said that he had no control of his extremities.  They just flopped.  You can imagine the anxiety that produced!  He is doing better, was able to converse with Mike and Clint and Mark, Jr. 
Thanks again for your prayers!


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For some great pictures of our grandbaby, go to

That’s our girl!

And just to give the locals a “heads up”

There is a baby shower being planned for

Charis Nicole Bontrager


Friday, May 22, 2009 @ 7:00 pm

At the Fellowship Hall of Cannon Mennonite Church

Christina’s friends, April Garthwaite, Sabrina Kauffman,
and Charis’s Aunt Regina are planning it. 
You can R.S.V.P. to April  @
Or to me here at my Xanga site.

Jesse and Christina are registered at Target, but are very glad for practical things like formula and diapers.

Thanks so much to all of you for your concern and prayers.
Today was the last day that either of the parents could renege on their agreement to allow Charis to go for adoption.  We are quite glad to see this day come — and go!



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Yesterday was an interesting day for me.  I had my mother here for lunch, and it was so special to be able to cook for her and my family.  I am always so aware of how close we came to not having her.  This picture is so good of her, I think.   It was taken before lunch yesterday, and it captures her health, her pluckiness and her good looks all at the same time.

mother's day 183

In the background, of course, is our oldest daughter, holding Charis. 

But I like this picture, also taken yesterday, of the whole family.
mother's day 184
Jesse is a wonderful daddy.  And Christina is a natural when it comes to their baby.
What a happy Mother’s Day this was for Christina,,
(Her usual reaction on this day was to just get away!)

Middle Daughter was in the middle of everything yesterday,
taking pictures, helping with lunch, playing with the baby.
This picture was taken in Ohio, last weekend.
She and her Aunt Lena always have lots of things to talk about.
Graduation and Charis 022
I honestly don’t know what I would do without Deborah. 
She is a daughter that is a great encouragement to me.
But she is more than a daughter — she is my friend.
Which is a good thing when a daughter is an adult.

Raph and Gina brought me the neatest flower arrangement for Mother’s Day.
Raph said that it was Gina’s doings.
She said that it was from both of them, and that was final!
It is never hard to catch them in this sort of a situation:
mother's day 177

(I am so glad that they like each other.) 
Regina made a wonderful tossed salad to add to our cookout yesterday.
I never get to see enough of our married sons and daughters in law.

Lem called yesterday to wish me “Happy Mother’s Day, Mom!”
He and Jessica have moved into their apartment in King of Prussia.
They weren’t able to be with us, but it was easily understandable.
Graduation and Charis 023
This picture was taken when our family went out to eat
after the convocation on Friday night before grad.
Jessica started her new job today. 
I am so comforted by the fact that (even though the challenges are mighty, indeed)
she knows the Captain of her ship, and with the gifts given to her by Him,
she should be just fine. 

And then there is my youngest, Rachel.
She’s been home from school sick today.
Didn’t go to School, didn’t go to work.
Her throat is sore, and her nose is stuffy.
She aches all over and gives me frequent updates:
“I almost threw up, upstairs.”
“I really can’t taste anything.”
“My throat hurts so bad I can’t stand it.”
“Yeah, I really think I’m getting sick.”
I don’t know if she doesn’t think I hear her,
or if she thinks that if she says it often enough, I will believe her.
The truth is, I BELIEVE HER. 
I’ve seen that red throat.
I saw how she pretty much just slept all day.
Maybe she needs to believe herself.
This picture was taken in happier days.
Also at Graduation.  She won’t like it.  But that’s okay. 
Graduation and Charis 012

(I tried repeatedly to put another one on here and it wouldn’t download.)
(So it’s not my fault.  Right?)  RIGHT!!!!!!!!!!!!!

And then there is the one who I refuse to be a mama to.
He does not address me as “Mama” and I don’t address him as “Daddy.”
But he is the reason that I am a mama.
And out of all of these people,
He really is my favorite.
Misc Rach, Baby, Lem's Grad 277

Where are you looking, Mr. Yutzy? 
What is in those hazel eyes behind the dark glasses?
So many things that face us now.  But there’ve been challenges before.
So many places to explore.  But so many places that we have been together.
I hope you never have to guess how much I love you.
But more than that, I hope you know how much I respect you.
How glad I am that you chose me to share your life
and to be the Momma to your children.

I am so blessed to be
a daughter,
a sister,
a wife,
and a momma!

(and so much more . . .)


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For the very first time in my life, I am a grandmother on Mother’s Day!!!

The family (including my mama, missing Lem and Jessica) was home for lunch.

Before lunch, Eldest Daughter wanted a four generation picture.

mother's day 202

How very blessed we are! 
Christina, Charis, Me and Mama

(Oh, boy . . .  When I see pictures like this, I understand why people think that Mama and I are sisters!)



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The weekend was a splendid time, indeed.  But the wretched knee gave me almost no respite the whole weekend.  Every single time that I would put weight on it, I could almost count on that “gonna’ let you down if you’re not careful” blinding pain.  Even the trusted pain killers did not help a whole lot. 

So while I went to the convocation, spent time with family, held my wonderful grandbaby, helped with things at Daniel’s parents, made potato salad and burger bean bake for the grad party, went to Grad, went to the party, made gallons of sweet tea and then went to church on Sunday morning, I struggled mightily with the kind of pain that makes the tears so close to the surface that it seems like they will spill over at any given moment.  I did a lot of hobbling, lots of standing still, lots of holding on to anything I could find to hold on to, and lots of just escaping somewhere by myself.

There has been so much joy in these last ten days, so many answered prayers and so much to be grateful for that I continually was thanking God for His kindnesses to us.  Somehow it felt like giving this pain any space at all was to be holding a sandwich sign that said, “Wait a minute.  Things really aren’t so good, after all.  What about my knee?”   And in the dark of the night, as I contemplated the future and what it holds, I would find myself over and over again saying to the Lord, “Thank you that you know the end from the beginning, and this dry, middle land, too.  Help me not to be afraid.  Help me to endure this as a good soldier of Jesus Christ.  Help me to know the best way to take.”  And most of the time, I must admit, that prayer was just two words.   “HELP ME!!!”

Before we left, a series of injections had been scheduled to begin this week.  I went in yesterday to the Orthopeadic Associates of Southern Delware and tried to “Think Positive.”  The PA is the best shot giver that I have ever known, and he came in with his cheery, balding self and asked how I was doing.

“Actually, Henry, I’m not so optimistic this morning.””

“Well, at least you’re honest.”

“Yes, well.”  I said, as cheerfully as I could.  “I want to ask you something.”  I stood up and pulled my skirt up above my two crooked, swollen knees and said, “Do you REALLY think these injections are going to do any good?  If it is too late for the right knee, is it possible that it will do anything for the left?”

“I actually do,” he said.  “If I didn’t think it could make a difference, I would never do it.  I think it can help.”

“How soon will we know whether it is going to do any good?”  I asked.

He wrinkled his brow and said comfortingly, “Well, you might not know until near the end of the series.  Sometimes it takes that long.”

“How will I know if it is effective even then?”  I asked, my heart feeling very, very quavery.

“Your pain will be better.  It might even be gone.”   And he proceeded to give me the Sinvisc© shot.  It did hurt, but Henry is a wonderful conversationalist, and I’ve found that if I can engage him in conversation about some interesting subject it is a great distraction for me.  He and his wife adopted a little girl from China some years ago, so adoption is always a common ground, a subject good for lots of distraction.  So we discussed adoption — ours, his, and now Eldest Daughter and Beloved Son in law’s, and before I knew it the shot was over, and I was on my way.

“H-m-m-m-”  I thought as I made my way out of the examining room to the checkout desk.  “This knee doesn’t feel half bad.  I wonder . . .”  I paid my co-pay, and went out to the van.  It was definitely feeling better. 

The good news is that the very first injection has helped me so much.  I can hardly believe it.  It’s aching this morning, and my leg is very tired, but that terrible pain that was so unpredictable is definitely better.  Sometimes I feel it a little bit, but I didn’t have to hold onto counters to get around when I fixed supper last night, and it continues to feel so much improved. 

I am so grateful.  I cannot stop thanking the Lord for all his benefits to me.  I don’t know if it will last, I don’t know what will be over the next few days and weeks.  But to have some hope is like a breath of fresh air.  Please continue to pray that God’s will would be done in this situation, and that I would be a faithful servant even (especially!) in these days while I’m waiting to see the outcome of this course of treatment.  Dr. Spieker tells me that if this doesn’t help, the only recourse is a knee replacement.  I’d like to put that off as long as possible.

Thanks again for all your prayers, your concern, your help.  I feel like our family has been unworthy recipients of blessings wrought through the faithful intercession of the family of God.  I am humbled, blessed and so grateful. 

Thank-you!  May the blessing you’ve been to us come back to bless you a thousand times over.



Edit:  My Mama’s blog has been updated:


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Misc Rach, Baby, Lem's Grad 232

This is one more picture from the graduation that I wanted to put on.
It was taken at the convocation for the Social Work Program
on Friday afternoon.  Lem was the only male in this particular social work section.

On the left is one of our two precious daughters in law, Jessica.
Beside her is our graduate —
who is also Jessica’s husband and our youngest son, Lem.
(Oh, and Lem has a birthday today. He is 23!)
The last two are Certain Man and Certain Man’s Wife.
We really did have a splendid weekend.
But oh, how wonderful it is to be home.



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Grandma’s Brag Blog

Graduation and Charis 004

I do get to hold her sometimes . . .

Misc Rach, Baby, Lem's Grad 197

Tell me, is there anything cuter????

Misc Rach, Baby, Lem's Grad 276

Our Eldest Daughter, Beloved Son in law


Cherished Charis



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