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  1. jaelpn

    Years Well Spent

    I once was a young boy- at the age of 8. Daddy took me fishin' and mama would bake. My first car was a chevy, and a travelin' I went. Through the city and towns, freedom I felt, joy it sent. The army drafted me in, as I walked out the door for the last time, daddy placed his hand on my shoulder and wished the world to be kind. Mama cried as she walked me down the aisle- the day I married my sweetheart- never to be apart was the truth in my heart. Susie was born, and then little John, that was a special moment- becoming a father, a true bond. My Daddy got sick, his tired eyes had closed. The day we buried him, God needed him more I suppose. My children were growin' up, experiencing life for a while. The day I walked my little girl down the aisle, I put on a great big ol' smile. Mama has been gone for a few years, went to be with my ol' man, sometimes my eyes still mourn with tears and I think of them often as I can. As I sat with my wife, the news the cancer had spread. I felt like I was drownin', not knowing how much longer I could tread. A long-stemmed rose I placed on my dear wife, a kiss on the forehead, oh I felt so much strife. I'm sittin' in my rocking chair, the silence is almost too much to bear. My mind is slippin', I forget where I left my keys. Sometimes I place my shoe on the wrong foot, or I can't get my fingers to button up my jeans. I don't go places without worrying about wetting my pants, my dignity is shaken, I often go in rants. I remember only some things, but my words don't come out right. I keep trying to tell someone how I feel,but all it seems to do is upset me and they think I want to fight. My hands are shaking, I drop my glass on the floor. I didn't mean to do it, my vision is poor. Maybe I was mistaken, maybe I need more help. Maybe it is ok to cry, it's often how I felt. You walk me in to my new home, the colors are vibrant, the smiling faces welcome me in. The journey to a second life is about to begin. The people are friendly, they help me with my shoes. If I'm having a bad day, they tell me it will be ok and help me make the right decision to choose. As I'm resting my head on my pillow at night, I praise the good Lord for a place that feels just right. The food is real good, they take care of all my clothes. My hair is gray, my wrinkles are set in, age has changed me and it often shows. My family comes and visits me, the grandkids sit on my lap. A grin spreads across my face as they call me 'pap'. My days are getting shorter, my body is weak. My family is all around me, comfort I do seek. Daddy is waitin' for me, mama is too, my wife is ready for me to join her, for love never ends. I worked so hard, raised my family. When I grew tired, and weak, no one ever gave up on me. Thank you for all that everyone has done, my life was lived well, and I am finally called back Home.
  2. jaelpn

    Heart, Mind, and Soul

    It was instilled in me as a child the saying, "Love your God with all your heart, with all your mind and with all your soul". It never meant much to me as a kid- isn't it pretty easy to love others? Why would it be any harder to love God? When I tell people that I have never registered to vote, that I have never chosen to be a replubican or a democrat, I get this wide-eyed "Are you kidding me?!" look. Honestly, I was never exposed to politics as a kid. I grew up in a small town- we would wave to each other, make small talk, and move on with our lives. When I graduated from nursing school, I moved to a larger city. Politics dominated- signs in people's yards showing who they were voting for, meetings held in dank little buildings with people protesting who THEIR next vote would be. I've heard too often the three things you never talk about in public- Religion-Politics-Personal Affairs. Why? Because it makes people angry to hear someone else's opinion other than their own. Does it truly effect me on a personal level who the next President is? I don't know. Am I ignorant? Yes, but maybe ignorance is bliss. I am better off not needing to argue who I think is better, for the wrong reasons than to choose who is wrong with the right reasons. I believe in God. I know that some people don't- some people are athiests, some are agnostic or some believe in a different religion. Many times the only reason keeping me hanging on to this world is knowing that someday, when my time comes, I can stand in front of God and tell him that I did my best in this world, I worshipped Him alone. He's not going to ask me which party I voted for, or why I chose the wrong President. I am proud to be an American- I am proud to have known what freedom is. I am glad that I get to speak about my faith and not get punished. I am not against people who vote- we all have our own way of expressing ourselves. When did VOTING become its own WAR? My father was a Marine- and he was proud of it. He served his country and was proud to be part of "the few, the proud" ... almost a year ago, he passed away quietly on a Sunday morning. He was only 59. My faith in knowing that someday when I get to Heaven, I will be able to see my father once again makes me not fear death. He put up his American Flag on the front of the house, he sang songs about American... and when he passed away, and we all stood and watched the Marines fold the American Flag neatly, tucked...and handed it to my mother, I knew right then He had served a great country. As the shots were fired, and the bagpipes began to place "Taps" - I knew dad was up there in Heaven Saluting. He was the guest of Honor. I wish in this world there wasn't war. I wish that we could see our fellow countries in the same way we see God, "Love your fellow countries with all your heart, with all your mind and with all your Soul" ...maybe there wouldn't be such chaos in this world if we all could just get along. I doubt I'll ever see a world of peace before I die, but here's hoping that maybe for a little while, maybe for a moment- I can find peace among. If we can just find a little peace among ourselves, among our state and country- who knows how far it could reach to other countries? I'll start with me. Taps Day is done, gone the sun, From the hills, from the lake, From the skies. All is well, safely rest, God is nigh. Go to sleep, peaceful sleep, May the soldier or sailor, God keep. On the land or the deep, Safe in sleep. Love, good night, Must thou go, When the day, And the night Need thee so? All is well. Speedeth all To their rest. Fades the light; And afar Goeth day, And the stars Shineth bright, Fare thee well; Day has gone, Night is on. Thanks and praise, For our days, 'Neath the sun, Neath the stars, 'Neath the sky, As we go, This we know, God is nigh. (Lyrics & Story behind "Taps")
  3. jaelpn

    A bedside confession

    We are all going to die- each and every one of us. There is no escaping the reality that we are to go through life with trials and tribulations, love and loss and faith and hope. I've come across people in life that just don't seem to care one way or the other where their life is going. I never knew where my life would take me- coming from a small town, I always thought that I would just settle in that town with a mediocre life, not really making much of a difference in life. I went to nursing school to better my life; I strived through school all the while working full time. It wasn't easy but looking back, I know that I made the best decision that I could at that time with the circumstances in my life. So- if I were on my dying bed and making that one last bedside confession, what would I say? ...I'm sorry that I never got to tell the people that I love the most how much they mean to me. I will not, however, apologize for a life worth living. Many elderly people have told me that they regret many things... that they wished they could of been a better father, a better mother, and a better friend. How do we know if we can be a better friend if we don't try? Friends are hard to come by- you truly have to feel comfortable being friends and opening your heart to them without feeling like they will somehow back stab you the moment they feel like they can. I would like to say that I am a genuine friend- that I never want to hurt or betray friendship. We all want that type of friend- but over and again I feel that I could be a better friend, a better listener and most importantly, someone that can make a difference in someone's life. So how do we start? How do we know when we can become better than who we are now? TRY... is that too much to ask? We give up too easily, we feel like we aren't worth the effort of that first foot forward to obtain that optimum sense of completeness. I know there are many things I regret. However, I'm trying my hardest to make things in life worth living. I've found love, I have grown closer to my mom and siblings. I found hope and strength through my residents when I feel like I can't handle any more stress at work. I watch elderly people and put my feet in their shoes- what are they thinking? Are they happy with their past? What is in their near future. Now is the time to begin thinking of what my actions will do for my future. Time to make a change- time to stop fretting the small stuff and begin working on me. I know that the only person that can make me smile is the person facing me in the mirror. It begins now- and will never stop unless I am willing to give up on myself. My last bedside confession? I regret not learning soon enough how to take life in stride. It begins now.
  4. My dad passed away unexpectedly in his sleep in early October- at first I thought Halloween was going to be a hard holiday; he loved handing out candy to kids, giving his hearty laugh, every once in a while handing out a dollar bill to the kids as they reached in for their next candy bar. Then there's Thanksgiving... being the man who woke up before the sun ever rose- sitting there in his recliner watching his "Cops" at 4 in the morning, coffee brewing. He'd put the turkey in the oven, thinking that his "famous" stuffing was top secret (thanks, Stove-top), his mashed potatoes loaded (with butter, that is)... I realize I'm going to miss him during this holiday, too. He lived a good, hardworking 59 years, but yet I wish I could have kept him here longer, but God had different plans for him. Oh yea, about that pain in the foot... during our younger years as kids, December was filled with "Ow, OWWW..." dang it, another pine needle in the foot. We would go out every year to find the perfect Christmas tree. Usually it'd be one that was a little too tall, leaning to the left, not able to fit just right in the base... but dad was proud of his trees. He'd have our little hands help put the tinsel on the tree, throw some garland and whatever little ornaments we had that survived from year to year. We'd have to untangle the Christmas lights every year, but eventually we'd have our beautiful tree lit up, music playing and the spirit of Christmas was finally home. My mom and dad always made Christmas special- mom would help us make Christmas cookies and we'd taken them to church, gather up a group of kids and we'd sing our little hearts out to the nice people who opened their doors and would let us sing our carols. We'd all be bundled up in our heavy coats, ear muffs, runny noses and mittens...singing the Christmas carols we had worked so hard to learn to get it just right, handing out our sprinkled sugar cookies and wishing a Merry Christmas to everyone that came to listen. Rudolph always came to visit- but mom was never there to see him! Dad always answered the door, and there rudolph was, right in the window! (oh the sight the neighbors must of had to see mom crouched down in the bushes as she had her home-made cut out from cardboard rudolph head and his bright-red nose...all for the sake of keeping the spirit alive in our home) My mom would always let us put out cookies and milk for Santa.... and carrots for Rudolph too. Our little eyes would keep peeking around the corner, hands over our mouths to keep from getting caught with our giggles. We'd slip back in our beds, and eventually our eyes grew so heavy that we'd fall asleep. We'd wake up early in the morning, one of us kids having to wake the other four up... Christmas is here!! It's Snowing out!! ... rubbing our little eyes, we'd walk down the stairs and find our Christmas stockings hanging on the banister full of Christmas goodies. The Christmas tree had all kinds of wonderful boxes and gift bags, each with our names neatly written To: ... From:Santa. We'd find one big gift that Santa had decided all of us children had to share. Every once in a while, there was something special that mom and dad had placed under the tree for us. Santa never could quite finish his milk and cookies... and Rudolph always left a few nibbles of carrot on his plate. There was "muddy" footprints that just so happened to travel from the back door to the Christmas tree (years later, my mom told us the secret of dad's boots and brown shoe polish always did the trick...) All of us kids would sit around the tree, every once in a while still saying "Owww" ...the pine needles pricking our little feet. The sounds of laughter, wrapping paper, Christmas carols would fill our home that morning. Mom and dad would open our gifts and tell us it was just what they needed! (even if it was something that they knew they had no idea what to use it for) ... the Christmas lights glowing, and all of us kids knew how special and blessed we were to know the warmth and joy of Christmas. We knew in our hearts that this was Jesus' Birthday, the story of Mary and Joseph and the manger. We were always taught that this was the holiday for giving and receiving; that it was better to give than to receive. This Christmas is going to be a lot harder- dad's spirit will still be alive in our house, but his presence will still be greatly missed. We are all grown up now, but going back home, we know that the Christmas tree will still be put up (even though dad finally broke down and bought an artificial one years ago after we complained about pine needles through March- I'm sure a few of us kids will travel home to help mom put up the tree, untangle the lights and help make this Christmas just as special as the ones we had while dad was with us. I'm going to miss him terribly. When I look up at the stars at night, when the snow is starting to fall.... I'll close my eyes and always remember that no matter where we are in life, no matter how big or small our problems are, the memories of our Christmas joys and pains will always remain in our hearts. In Loving Memory of our beloved father , R.L.E. Entered into this World 1-26-52 Entered into the arms of Jesus 10-9-11
  5. jaelpn

    Laughter in the name of Family

    Thank you. I was surprised to learn that I had gotten 3rd place on this article. My father just passed away on October 9th in his sleep. He was 59 years old. My family is holding on strong as we each start to begin to think about all the stories of my dad and get ready to have his visitation tonight. It's going to be hard- but he's now in the arms of Jesus, where laughter never ceases.
  6. jaelpn

    "I about wet my depends"!

    ... a few men and women who sit around this table at night laughing, joking and filling up that void of silence that comes along with living away from home. Some sit by the bird aviary to ponder, some sit silently in the breezeway watching the leaves fall. This group gets together most nights to just get a kick out of life. Let me begin to share my story... This is no ordinary place- this is a place where miracles can come true. This is an assisted living that is devoted to also having a specialized memory care unit. Most of the ones I am working with have a touch of dementia. When that moon is full and rising, a lot stirs up. I, the nurse, suddenly become someone else's mother. I'm the distant cousin that they haven't seen in ages. I'll tell ya something though- old men and women get a kick out of the funniest of stuff. They no longer have the filter of dignity. *Mr Johns will answer his door buck-naked. He says "ain't no body gonna care if a 90 year old is bare-assed." The other night I was the most mortified in a while. I go in to check one of my male resident's scheduled BP's. and he just so happens to cop a feel of my breast in his hand and ask me how big I am. My face turned red, I was so embarrassed I walked out. Fifteen minutes later the cna is saying Mr. so and so wants to talk to you. I'm nervous and yet I poke my head in, and he said he apologizes...please don't tell anyone, I get a pension to living here, my cats will get euthanized, I will have to go to a nursing home..... Oh, Mister, if only you knew about the little ol lady that likes to goose me when I'm doing my med pass. As a nurse, I know it's just common for those older women and men to like to expose themselves and each other. No biggie- life is more than who's boobs are bigger, or saggier. Life is about the moments to cherish in these last years. The friendships that bond, the moment where we no longer see the aged marks but cherish the beauty within. One night this resident was getting aggravated with this "crazy" lady so she goes into her room to lock the lady out. The roommate walks through the other room and stands behind the lady who locked the door and she asked, Who are we looking for? And the lady who was trying to lock out the "crazy" lady was like I sure don't know but she sure is gone now!" ... we all laughed because she couldn't remember she was locking her dear old roommate out and she entered the other way. I hear the nightly table just laughing about all the good times they had when they were younger. All the dances they would get into, the mischief. They start rolling out with laughter and one lady said ooohhh wee, I better stop all this giggling, I think I just wet my depends!"
  7. jaelpn

    Laughter in the name of Family

    Family means so much to me. Over the weekends, sometimes I will head back home. The house is a little more empty, as the family dog has passed on this past year- but he's still buried in the backyard and that's just more dignified than wondering where little bit may of ended up if he was cremated. He loved the outdoors and now he is resting peaceful underneath the pine tree that my sister had brought home to bury when she was in kindergarten. Now when I see a stray pup roaming around, I want nothing more than to pick him up and say "surprise!" ...and then see the glare of my moms eyes. She'd kill me. She is comfortable with ol' Albert the amazon parrot she has that squawks his head off when we enter the door. "Helllooooo. Merry Christmas! ERR err err er er" He is a crazy bird but I can tell that my mom adores old albert. We would have family movie nights, all of us kids spread out on the floor, soda pop and popcorn in hand. After we jumped a few times during the suspense, the movie was over. Dad would ask us to see how "brave" we were if we ran around the house once. He'd be hiding in the bush and he'd always scare us, but then he would laugh and give us a dollar to being so brave up to the challenge. Birthdays were always fun= we'd get to pick out what we wanted for our supper, and then we got to choose the kind of cake we wanted. I would get to have a day off from doing chores. The cake was lit, the candles were burning, and I'd make a wish and blow. Wishes are those hopes and dreams that we all hope become true in our lifetime. It's the silly stuff as a kid that you wish would have came true. Life is much different now. I am hoping that when I get married, and have children that I can instill in them what my parents taught in us. I am so scared to see all these bullies nowadays. Reminds me of all the ones that bullied me. Sometimes I still have that fear, the one that I am not good enough. Bullies don't realize the impact they have on others. Maybe bullies never got the chance to have someone hug them and tell them that it's ok, they are a good person. Stop the hating and learn to love one another. We as humans to either love or hate. When it comes down to it all- even bullies need love. They need to have that reassurance that everything will be ok, no matter how different a person may be. I would like for just one day, one measly day... to not hear so and so did this, did you see what so and so is wearing? ...when we start judging others on the basis of what they were, who is the say what is in their heart? Learn to love one another, stop the judging. Wouldn't you want to be loved for being just who you are and not what you wear? I can't change the world, but I wish I could at least change someones heart. You are good enough. You have what it takes to make a difference. Cherish who are you. This is what my mother taught me when I came home crying because of the bullies. I am worth it. I can make a difference. I am strong enough to know that what I have done with my life is true to myself. Maybe each and every one of you find peace- if you see someone down on their luck, give them a heads up. Buy them a sandwich and a drink. It's not too late to change someones heart. There is nothing quite like family; for those that have lost theirs along the way, offer up a hand, give them an ear to listen. We all have life stories to be told.
  8. jaelpn


    My older sister's friends wanted to hold my hands and play helicopter with me by swinging me around in circles in the front yard and eventually letting go. This resulting in me flying across the yard and eventually landing. It was fun...sometimes. I'd play in the yard, doing cartwheels and run barefooted. I'd get stung by a bee most every year, and my mom would fix it up with either baking soda or meat tenderizer- whichever she found in the cabinet. (lovely home remedies...) In fifth grade I introduced myself to a new girl that just moved to town, and was in my class. No one else took the opportunity to say hi, and I was always one that was friendly to everyone. We became great friends and would spend a lot of time on the jungle gym singing songs and trying new tricks of hanging upside down. That year, I lost most of my friends. They didn't understand why I was hanging out with that girl and decided they didn't want to be associated with me if I was hanging out with that "nerdy" girl. I was devastated. I soon was the one that everyone decided to pick last for kickball because they decided that I was not cool enough anymore to be on their team. This threw me into a whirlwind depression by sixth grade. I couldn't eat without feeling like I was going to throw up. I was depressed, nervous and most of all just plain lonely. My parents couldn't afford much but I had what I needed and that is all that mattered to me. Kids were cruel back then; they'd laugh because I would be wearing shoes from walmart while they had their Nikes and Adidas shoes on. I remember my teacher calling our names out asking who was going to be getting lunch at school that day (and others brought their lunch); my hand was never raised. Everything I tried to keep down wouldn't; I didn't eat much because I felt sick all the time. My mom took me to the doctor because she thought that I had ulcers- but what I really had was a broken heart. When you're a child, your friends mean a lot to you. When I was made fun of for being friends with someone that no one gave a chance to, or made fun of because I was wearing hand me down clothes someone else had sold at their yardsale- I thought I was worthless. I was a wreck that year. The doctor eventually scared me out of my nervous stomach problem. I began to gain weight. By the time I reached 8th grade, I was healthy and happy. I started to gain friends back and started wearing makeup and thought that I was finally living the life of a normal happy kid. I was still thin throughout my highschool years but I never felt beautiful. All the girls would always talk about how thin I was and how they wished they had a body like mine. A guy in my art class would always talk to me and he would talk about how sexy my body was. Of course I never felt beautiful and I'd just shrug him off because he never got to know me. I was never one to show off my body like some girls would. I just tried to study hard and I'd put my focus into writing. I had a group of friends that I spent time with, we'd listen to music, laugh and just go bowling on the weekends. I had my first boyfriend sophomore year and he broke my heart. Five years after graduating, I started to put on weight. I thought it was the typical college weight that I was gaining. Diagnosed with hypothyroidism and was put on synthroid for the rest of my life. I was having trouble finding clothes that fit and just felt downright ugly. I hated going to the store because people would come up to me and say things like "oh wow... you've sure put on the weight" and patting my stomach as if it was amusing to them. Now- I still struggle with my weight. I'm trying hard to lose it. I feel like a paperweight. I feel as if everything inside of me weighs me down. I am a nurse now- and I have found that beauty is more on what is in the inside of others. I have believed this all along. No one ever gave me the chance to shine- they always talked about how thin (or now how much more hefty) I am. We all have our struggles in our lives. When I was thin I never carried myself the way these young girls now do. They act as if they wear these tight pants and a shirt that shows cleavage- they will be loved by a man....who will eventually use them and break their heart. We have to work on our hearts, first. Our bodies are the shells to our soul. I've been working out a lot lately because I do want to shed some of this weight off- I want to get healthy. I don't want to dig into the potato chips to make myself feel better with the comfort food. I want to have a strong healthy heart and to be able to just feel better about myself. Life is too short to worry about the small things. We have to learn to love ourselves before someone else makes us believe we are not worth it. Even as I sit here and tears run down my eyes because I think of my past and how cruel those kids were, I know that I have become a stronger more independent person because of it. I can finally look in the mirror, smile and know that I have found my true inner happiness.

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