Thursday, October 31, 2013

Happy Halloween 2013


             When I was a child, Halloween was my absolute favorite holiday.  Christmas was carefully choreographed by my British mother. Other holidays were clearly controlled by adults, but each Halloween, our rural community was controlled by the children.  In the late sixties and seventies, we believed as children that if we traveled in groups that adults were not a hazard to us.  This freed us to walk miles and gather treats in whatever bag you could gather.  Costumes tended to be simple. We would walk miles that night and who wants to be encumbered by a costume, or worse, having your sight impaired by one ?  These were the days when most everyone's mother was at home.  Only Dad worked outside the home and money was tight. Costumes were child inventions and employed paperbags, sheets, etc.  One friend constructed a robot costume from boxes which was not to be believed !   This was a magical time where we met neighbors we didn't know, had pizza free at the pizza shop we couldn't afford the rest of the year, and walked to places we didn't have the courage to do the rest of the year.  Some of my happiest childhood memories are of Halloween.
                For a short time while Daniel was small we lived in the suburbs in a large house everyone called "The Christmas House" because we decorated the large white colonial rather elaborately in the Williamsburg style, each year.  We saw more than a hundred children for trick or treat in those years. In fact, my husband used to have to go out one or two times to a grocery store to keep up with continuing demand as the night continued, and the celebrants continued to ring the doorbell. 
              When we moved to a secluded farm with our children, at the end of the nineteen-nineties, we didn't think we would get as many Trick or Treaters.   The first year there was no one willing to brave the long gravel road to see us, if they knew a house was there, or not.  Our kids happily split the candy.   The second year, the road to the farm was gated, and we knew that no one would be coming.  In those years, local churches had concerns that this was now a dangerous holiday and so they encouraged children to dress in costume, and come to the churches for costume contents, bobbing for apples, candy apples, and games. Our homeschooling group had an annual gathering, thanks to a very nice family who annually offered their rural home for a Harvest Festival with a potluck dinner for kids and their families, complete with a bonfire, games, and a hayride.   How Daniel loved that gathering.  I remember they had games set up in their garage also, and he and friends spent time playing there.  Daniel never knew the long distance trick or treating that I did. I feel a little sad that he didn't know the glorious Halloweens that I did, but then I never knew the Harvest Festivals that he enjoyed.
             As we near the time of year in which Daniel departed Earth so suddenly and inexplicably, I am caught in twinges of sorrow.   Sorrow that Daniel, who would now be 17 is not here to enjoy the only world I really know. Sorrow that each of my parents departed Earth very near this time, also.   I have sorrow that he didn't experience all of childhood and adolescence as I did, rightly or wrongly.  I am also sorrowful for our nation which has deteriorated so significantly since Daniel's departure from it. So many children live in poverty now and are dependent either upon foodstamps or foodbanks or both. I hope your holiday is better than mine !

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

The Memoir of Ben Breedlove is Now Available

These are the Breedlove kids.  Ben is on the left.  (Photo: Facebook)

              Those of you who visit this blog regularly may remember my mentioning Ben Breedlove.   Ben is a young man who had a know cardiomyopathy as a teen and who experienced multiple cardiac arrests, and near death experiences before he suddenly passed on Christmas Day in 2011.  I like to think that he and Daniel have met and therefore that Daniel is in very good company.     Ben is known to many of us through his Youtube videos in which he told us of some of his experiences during codes.
              Ben's memoir, which is written in part by his teenaged sister Ally, is entitled "When Will the Heaven Begin ?"
One source of this book is found below:

You can buy Ben's memoir on Amazon at this link.

My prior post on Ben Breedlove which include links to the Youtube videos.

Another Sudden Ballfield Death


(Picture: )

       Next month, it will be five years since our Daniel collapsed and died at our home, with essentially no real medical history which suggested such a thing was even remotely possible.   Since then, Daniel is never very far from our family's thoughts.  Since that time, we have tried to being awareness to both SUDC, sudden unexplained death in childhood, and to SADS, sudden arrhythmic death syndrome, without a great deal of success, I might add.  Since then, we have noted many other sons and daughters who have collapsed, received CPR, or perhaps later, aid from an AED, who have also been lost to their families.  Today was no exception.

            Jacob Vick, a fifteen year old New Kent High School (Virginia) sophomore, was a stand out kid with a 3.7 average.  He was also a starting linebacker on the school's football team.   Jacob seemed fine yesterday according to his coach, but during practice, he collapsed.  They had the good sense to airlift him to a major center at Virginia Commonwealth University Hospital.  Jacob died at the hospital.

         Of course, an autopsy will need to be done to rule out other potential causes of his collapse and sudden death.  However, the pattern sounds a great deal like sudden arrhythmic death syndrome.  A young healthy teen without a known cardiac issue who is bright and diligent plays a sport, seems okay, and then collapses in a cardiac arrest. (Often falling forward.)  Professional attempts at resuscitation, in this scenario, often fail.

           As a nation, we still aren't doing EKG screenings and specialized EKGs such as the microvolt t-wave alternans for those who have a family history of syncope (fainting) or a history of sudden death in the older members of the family. Better screenings should be done on all twelve year old students, and in advance of full participation in sports.   I can assure you that if anything could be done to detect students at risk of a sudden demise such as this, that the families who remain would have wanted that done.  I know I would have.

         Jacob had been treated for a concussion recently, but had been medically cleared to return to practice, on that score.  This collapse could be related to the concussion, as sometimes bleeding or undetected aneurysm can worsen arrhythmias in an arrhythmic prone person, or Jacob's passing may be due to a spontaneous disturbance in heart rhythm.  My family and I send our condolences to the family and friends of Jacob Vick. Those of us on Earth will miss you.

Jacob Vick's Hudl profile

This is Jacob's obituary with funeral information:

VICK, Jacob Aulman, 15, of New Kent, went to be with the Lord on Tuesday, October 29, 2013. He was preceded in death by his grandparents, Conley and Joyce Vick. He was a member of Corinth Baptist Church in New Kent, Va. Jacob was an excellent student and enjoyed sports. He was a Texas Longhorn and Redsox fan. Jacob was a member of the Varsity Football team and Junior Varsity Baseball team at New Kent High School. He also enjoyed playing the electric guitar, skimboarding, surfing and fishing. Jacob always managed to set time aside in making sure he was a great big brother to his two younger sisters. He is survived by his parents, Robert and Susan Vick; sisters, Lucy and Lauren Vick; grandparents, Ronald and Elizabeth Jones; uncles, Kevin Jones (Robin), Tim Vick, Mike Vick (Bobbie); aunt, Beth Vick (Jay); and cousin, Morgan Jones. A memorial service will be held on Saturday, November 2, 2013 at 1 p.m. at New Kent High School, 7501 Egypt Rd., New Kent, Va. Interment services will be private at Washington Memorial Park. In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made, in memory of Jacob Vick, to Corinth Baptist Church, 11650 New Kent Hwy., New Kent, Va. Online condolences may be made at

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Daffney, the Duck

                As you know, one of the devotions we have, since Daniel's passing, is caring for his animals.

                Back in the early two thousands when Daniel was a small boy, we bought some ducklings for him for Easter.  We bought some ducklings that were Khaki Campbells, and some yellow ducklings which were to grow to be Silky Swedes.   Daniel adored the ducklings.  As they grew, the Silky Swedes grew to be larger and heavier. The females were white and the males were grayish white.  The Khakis grew to be brown, and a few of the males had some greenish head markings, which reminded us a bit of mallards.  They were a happy bunch.  There is something very satisfying about feeding ducks. They like bread crusts and slightly stale bread and muffins.   Daniel and I used to buy a fresh bag of kale or collard greens and toss each piece to them.  They enjoyed the greens especially.  Originally, we started out with twelve but lost a few when some of them flew out of the enclosure at night and were caught by a fox.  The females began to produce large eggs which Daniel and I found made gorgeous omelets.  The eggs were a little gamier than chicken eggs, but with homegrown chopped chives and some small cheese squares, the omelets were fantastic.  Duck eggs contain more protein than chicken eggs and for this reason, when used in cakes, they produce a very high cake.  We got into the habit of always using a duck egg when baking a birthday cake.
Overall, the ducks have done well.   They came to us in 2003 and the group above have done well.
               This week, Daffney, the duck on the far left of the picture passed away after a brief illness. She had been ill for a couple of days and we tried an antibiotic and some B vitamins.  She passed a couple of days later while we were present.  It hurts each time one of Daniel's animals leaves the Earth, but we know that he has them now.   Daffney was the last of the females to survive this long.  She was more than ten years old.   Goodbye sweet Daffney.  It was a joy to have you here. We will take good care of your remaining family on Earth.

"I Will Take Care of You" This is Canadian recording artist and amazing woman, Amy Sky

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Pulling in to Autumn's Station


        October is here.  Once again, we find ourselves in the season of Autumn, a bit like a train which pulls into a particular station only  annually.  Had it not been that the passings in my family have always occurred in Autumn, with Daniel's being no exception, I think Autumn would be my favorite season.  The trees shed leaves in brilliant colors. Here, the days turn from the blistering heat here so often seen in Summer, and then the humans return to the outdoors. Once again we are clad in longer pants, thicker dresses and jackets. Autumn reminds me of returning to school, starting new projects, a beginning of sorts. I generally receive a burst of energy when Fall comes, no doubt designed to help me rake leaves, plan new projects, begin a new school year as either a student or as an instructor, and prepare for Winter.  In a rural community, Autumn is less about fashion as it might be in an urban center, and more about the changing of the Earth and the adaptations we must make in order to survive both financially, and with our animals intact through the Winter. Winters in my region can be mild, but they can also be severe some years. Sometimes we see feet of snow and ice storms which make animal care and travel impossible, especially in the more mountainous regions of our state. I do recall some years when the Winter was more like a mild autumn, without a single snow, and with light autumn-like rains.
          Late this Autumn, both Daniel and my Dad will have been gone from Earth for five years. Some days this feels like a very long time ago, and others, the hurt and seeming bomb blast to our lives seems very recent and very fresh.  I think this may always be true.
           This year, it feels as if we will have a severe Winter. We have higher numbers of squirrels than normal, and they are frantically storing acorns and stealing suet and seed from our bird feeders. Many of our trees decided to turn in early.  The Gingko Bilobas yellowed early.  Some of our trees turned red at least a month early.  Birds seem to understand the sense of urgency also.  Our large contingent of hummingbirds left for Central America a little early this year,   Other birds seem to be taking Autumn seriously.  The young cardinal group which was raised late this Summer has been working so hard to get suet, that they have it all over their young beaks !   All the signs for a bad Winter are there.  Soon, this will have implications for us as well, and we will need to ready vehicles and do some other things which better prepare the human beings for cold, snow and ice, and perhaps difficulties travelling.

 Perhaps I can reach the days in which my Dad and then Daniel departed for Heaven this year, simply knowing that they are safe, happy and enjoying all that is there.  Unfortunately, in four years I have not been able to reach a point where I don't see what I have lost, by their no longer being on this plane with me.
         We only receive so many Autumns in this life.  This year, try to appreciate the Fall colors, if you have them where you are. Try to appreciate the majesty and miracle of all of the living things knowing each year how to prepare to survive the Winters of their lives.  I think there is a lesson in there for us too.