Monthly Archives: September 2022

September Mornings

Last week, I stood at the door of Ambleside Cottage, looking out over the lawn and trees. The squirrels were busy, and the jays were scolding. The air was crisp with a temp that is unusual for mid-September. I thought about the summer that had slipped away without much notice from me. Certain Man had watered flowers more often than he probably wanted to, and garden things had been sadly neglected. There were tomatoes that got quietly put onto the compost pile and even a couple of handfuls of lima beans that turned sour in the small bag in the fridge. (It was their own fault! Those beans of mine hardly produced enough at a time to even make a meal for CM and I! I would shell my paltry few and put them in the fridge, hoping to get some to add to them, and then, next thing I knew, they smelled funny. I did get my first two bags in the freezer just before I left for DC, but even so, the pickin’s have been slim!)

It’s been three months since Deborah had her bilateral mastectomy. The blood clots, the infections and the complications have made this recovery far longer than we had hoped. She ended up with a second surgery about six weeks ago, and she is healing well, but she just isn’t quite there yet. The days have been challenging for her, but there have also been glorious accomplishments. She finished her Bachelors Degree in Nursing (BSN) and she did it with a 4.0 grade average. (She wouldn’t tell you that, but I’m allowed! I’m her Mama!) She has actually started back to work at Delaware Hospice, but is only allowed to work from home because she is still under fairly stringent restrictions (no driving, no combing or washing her hair, no reaching up too far, no reaching out too far, no leaning forward or bending over, no driving). Fortunately, Delaware Hospice has been more than accommodating, and she has enjoyed getting back into the swing of things- at least in part.

Last week, anticipating this week’s daily trek to take 4-year old Stella to school, I started to walk over to Deborah’s house for the morning chores there. I had hoped to get a little used to the walk. The distance is somewhat similar. The terrain? Not so much. Leaving the back yard door, the walk is uphill almost all the way to her school. And there is mostly blacktop and sidewalk. It’s not that far, (only .2 of a mile) but I’m almost 69 years old, and I have two replaced knees and there is that crazy thing called “spinal stenosis” that wants to remind me when I’ve slept in an unfamiliar bed. Which causes me to sometimes have a peculiar gait.

Yesterday, Stella said to me, “Grammy, why do you sometimes wobble when you walk?” (Please note. She did not say “waddle!”)

I said, “Well, Stella-girl, Grammy’s back is kinda’ hurting today.”

“Yeah,” she said thoughtfully, “And you are really, really old, too!”

Yes, well. That, too! (She told me the other day that she thought I was “a hundred years old” so I guess that does make me a old. A little bit old, anyhow.)

September mornings are delightful here, though, in spite of the trek that makes me puff. I come into the alley behind Lem and Jessica’s house and the squirrels are scolding, the walnuts dropping, and the yellow flowers are blooming by the back fence. There are neighbors who don’t do well with their trash, and the other day I saw a city rat nudging through the garbage, but he went his way and I went mine. This morning the crows were scolding loudly about something and in this section of town there are lots and lots of trees providing shade and privacy. I’m not a city girl by any chance, but these mornings, so full of life and a bit chilly are invigorating.

Tomorrow morning, Lord Willing, after walking Stella to school, I plan to come back here, pack up and head back to Delaware and that Man I Love the Most, our little farm and the next door girlie that I still comb, and make sure that she has what she needs to live and move and have her being. I will feed her old cat, JuJu, and give him some Grammy treats and it will be so sweet. Tomorrow night, if plans carry, I will spend time with my sibs and their spouses (Except for Nel and Rose) and I’ve been looking forward to that with an almost ache.

Today in Ohio, our littlest grand is fighting the biggest battle of us all, and I watched a clip of my tall son cradling her to his chest while they both sang, “What a Wonderful World,” and I weep. There is so much about this old world that is wonderful, and I love these September mornings. My heart gives grateful praise, but along with that, this Grammy’s heart is heavy.

Please pray for our Ellie-girl.

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She Dances . . .

Elise Evelyn. Our Ellie-girl.

She is life and light and movement and spirit and song and fire. And she dances. There is no stopping the feet and the voice and the personality that has trusted and engaged and loved without reserve. She knows no strangers. She knows what she wants and when she wants it and how she wants it, but she has also learned that sometimes you just cannot have what you want and when and how.

Gift to our family. A Sacred Trust.

There have been hundreds of people who have said, “How lucky she is to have this family!”


Oh, Ellie-girl! We are the ones who have been so blessed. And there was no luck involved. You came to us, a six week old baby, and we wanted you to stay from the minute we laid eyes on you.”

It was a long journey, with many tears and uncertainties and times when it seemed that she was gone for good. There was a day in July when a state car took her away for her new life, and we wept and prayed and felt the grief that was worse than death. But in Washington, DC, a client cancelled and Uncle Lem locked the door of his office and got down on his knees and pled for mercy and intervention. People all over were praying, for something to happen.

And God chose to intervene and sent an angel in the form of an unknown man who warned the case worker. He showed up and followed her around while she surveyed the premises of the intended placement and when no one was listening, he hissed, “Don’t you leave that baby here!”


“Don’t you leave that baby here!” He offered some brief words of explanation, and then was silent.

The caseworker called her supervisor and Elise came back home. The story wasn’t over, there were still hurdles to cross, and there were 5 times (all together) when an actual date was set for her to be moved to another placement, but each time, something (rather, Someone) intervened.

My Ohio daughter in law was given the family name when she joined our family, “Ohio Heart Throb.” Just for the record, she has a new name. “Warrior Mama.” She’s earned it fair and square and has the scars to prove it. She faced imperious case managers, biased directors and held her own with honest and objective directives when she had had enough of the dilly-dallying of bureaucracy and the indifference of a state system. I’m so proud of this woman. She has known relinquishment and broken dreams and grief. She has given up when she realized it was in the best interest of the child. And this time, she knew what was in the best interest of Elise and she fought for her future. And won!

On April 19, 2019, the baby known as “Sweet Baby E” became Elise Evelyn Yutzy.

Most of you who follow this blog know that our Ellie-girl is facing a huge challenge. This week she starts a “five day a week for six weeks” radiation therapy for a synovial sarcoma in her leg. The risks are great, but the risk of not treating is greater. But she still dances. She still bosses her brothers and plays with her dollies and watches her “shows” and does all the things that she wants to and can. She doesn’t begin to understand to import of what is happening. She doesn’t even know the catch in her family’s throat, the sadness in her daddy’s eyes, the unrelenting hurt in her Mama’s heart, or the fear that her brothers are grappling with. And it’s better that she doesn’t.

People have been so kind. From the beginning of this journey, people have given and shared and prayed and loved and given some more. Nothing is taken for granted. Raph and Regina find the generosity and outpouring of care and concern hard to believe. For them as well as for us, the love and the prayers have been the best gifts. I call it “wrapped in a bubble of Grace,” where a sense of God’s provision and presence gives me courage and strength. I’ve said it more than once because, though I cannot explain it except by God’s grace, “This is hard, and I am sad. But I am not afraid, and I am not frantic. I’ve walked with this Heavenly Father for over 60 years, and He has never failed me yet. He hasn’t done everything the way I wanted, or spared me from heartache and loss, but He has carried me when I couldn’t make it on my own. He promised not to leave me or forsake me, and I don’t believe that He will stand apart from my grief now any more than I would stand apart from the grief of one of my children. He is here and He is not silent. My heart gives grateful praise!”

There are a lot of expenses connected with Ellie’s cancer treatment, and Ellie’s Uncle Lem and Auntie Jessica have started a account to help out. As the families of Raphael and Regina, we are helping, but there is always more that is needed. I’m attaching this link so that if you are so inclined, you can access it without too much trouble. Thank you for listening, for reading and for caring and praying. The prayers are still the best gift!

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Part Three, “I Will Carry You”

This week I changed the calendars at our house. Five of the ones I changed, I changed from July to September. They never got changed to August. I think there was only one that got changed back when August dawned, and that was the central appointment one that helps both Certain Man and I keep track of our lives. It’s a funny thing about calendars. I remember over 40 years ago when Sherilyn Schlabach (now Gant) lived with us, there was a time she commented, “You know, it’s such a funny thing! In America, you guys have clocks in every room. In Costa Rica, we have calendars!” Somehow that made an impression on my mind as a young homemaker, and I began putting calendars in almost every room, hoping that it would remind me that I needed to live for the long term, not the immediate.

But as I thought about the whole thing of how I had missed changing all these calendars for a whole month, it didn’t carry the connotation of slowing down. At all. But the more I pondered this “lost month” and all that had happened in the month, my heart was suddenly very quiet before my Heavenly Father. I realized in a startling way that while my head and hands were too busy to really mark the days, He had carried me safely through and brought me through a month that I would remember, not for individual days and the terrible things that happened on those days, but rather a period of “severe mercy and extreme grace, (and my heart gives humble, grateful praise).

To pick up the story again-

When I realized that I had tested positive for Covid at Raph and Regina’s house, the immediate concern I had was, of course, the fact that I had exposed this very vulnerable household to this confusing disease. Of course, I prayed they would not catch it, prayed that I wouldn’t be too sick, prayed (“Oh, Lord Jesus, Have mercy!”) that Ellie, especially, would not get it.

My next concern was about my ticket home. I called, and the only way I could reschedule was if I waited for five days to reschedule. I rescheduled for Wednesday. Problem solved.

Then I was concerned about my prescription meds and vitamins of which I had only packed a week. An SOS call home sent Deborah over to the big house, and between her and Certain Man, they got everything figured out, packaged and overnighted to Canton. Another problem solved. (They actually were there by the next day! Yay for the US postal service!)

And so the days passed. Sunday morning I came downstairs to find Ellie wrapped up in a blanket on the floor.

“First Covid Sickie,” Announced my resilient Daughter in law with a lot more cheer than I felt.

“Oh, no!” I mourned. “Really?’

“Yep, She tested positive!”

I was so sad. I figured it was only a matter of time until the whole family came down with it. But astonishingly enough, she was our only “casualty.” Raph and Regina had a mature and careful response and they were amazing! The boys had a healthy fear of catching it and there was no problem with them keeping their distance. There was that time when the three of them were engaged in one of their frequent skirmishes that was getting out of hand and I said, “Listen up boys! Your Grammy hates fighting every bit as much as you hate Covid. If this fighting doesn’t stop I’m going to give every one of you Covid!” They looked up surprised and questioningly. “Yes, siree,” I intoned soberly. “I’m going to lick my finger and wipe it right on you . . .” BLITZ!!! My three handsome grandsons were gone in three different directions. (“But Grammy, would you really???” “Probably not, But—“)

Thankfully, I didn’t feel too terrible, and the days flew by with lots of activity and joy. Ellie had only one day of feeling bad and then was back to normal. Out of precaution, she had to delay her appointment for receiving the results of that last surgery, but otherwise, things progressed fairly much the same as before. Tuesday evening, Raph showed up at my bedroom door with a Covid test.

“Mama,” he said, tentatively, “Would you want to take another test before leaving tomorrow, just to be sure?”

I looked at that test and almost didn’t let him finish. “NO!” I said, more forcefully than necessary. “I don’t want to know. I’m going to put a mask on and wear it all day and I’m going to go home and then, I’ll double check. So, No! I just want to go home!”

He looked a little startled, but seemed to understand and went away. I sat there in my room and thought. I thought about how I would feel if I knew someone else was in my shoes, and I wondered if I had made the right decision, but I figured that I was at least a week into this, I had waited the five days that was required by the airline, I had been vaccinated and boostered and I just wanted to go home. I finished packing my bags and spent a restless night, but my resolve did not weaken.

Early the next morning, Raph drove me to the airport. He stood in the early morning darkness, my tall son, and hugged me, kissed the top of my head (as he has taken to doing over these last years) and thanked me for coming. My heart was full. This son of mine and his brave wife were facing far more than just their little girl’s health issues. There are stories that are not mine to tell. My heart ached for my “Canton Six” and repeatedly, I packed them up in my mind’s eye and set them fully at the only place I’ve found for my anxiety, grief, uncertainties and pain: The Foot of The Cross.

(” . . . when you’re terrified, I will carry you!”)

I landed in Washington without any trouble and Certain Man was there to pick me up. He had accomplished a lot of things in my absence, and I was very impressed with all that had gotten done. I was also suddenly weary beyond belief. We came into the lane of our home, and I looked at the familiar landscape, picked up my phone and texted the family.

“We are safely home.”

It was so sweet to be home. The Crepe Myrtle was showing off, the familiar old farmhouse was beckoning me in. The last eleven days were packed full of so much living. I enjoyed being in Ohio so much, and Raph, Gina, Si, Liam, Frankie and Ellie are some of my favorite people. But now it was time to be back home and get on with the things here.

I did not know that I was coming home to another non-stop merry-go-round of life events that would keep me on my toes and my knees. But that will be in the next segment. This one is long enough.

Stay tuned.

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