BODY AND SPIRIT: LIFE’S LESSONS REINFORCED

BODY AND SPIRIT: LIFE’S LESSONS REINFORCED

 

Through the years, Gayle has shared the following with friends who are recovering from accidents or lengthy hospitalizations. Sunday she learned another friend was coping with a fractured ankle after falling on skies as she was getting off a chair lift and was jostled or startled by an over-anxious skate boarder. Here’s to a good healing, Pat! Gayle can’t blame a skate boarder for a previous accident she experienced. She was the over-anxious one wanting to spy a bird building a nest on her roof. And she never did see the darn bird! Perhaps this is what it looked like.

Bird building a nest on roof-bartramsgarden.org

 

Life’s Lessons Reinforced by Gayle Johannesson (later Moore-Morrans)
adapted from an editorial originally published in Esprit magazine, 1999, presented at a Lake Chapala Society Writer’s Group in Ajijic, Mexico, 2005

One fine Manitoba day in early May 1999, I eagerly awaited getting home after a long day at my editing job. After seven months of winter, Winnipeg was a glorious place to be and I planned to spend a long evening on my deck enjoying the warm air, extended sunshine and birdsong. As soon as I walked in, my daughter excitedly shouted, “Mum, you should check it out. I think a bird is building a nest on our roof.”

Of course, I can never leave well enough alone, so had to immediately trot out to the deck to investigate. I jumped up onto one of the benches surrounding our hexagonal deck table and then onto the table, but wasn’t close enough to view the roof. Jumping down, I hauled the table and bench closer and again hopped up onto the bench and then to the table. This time, however, I landed on a corner where there wasn’t a table leg. Down I crashed—all of three feet, mind you—slamming my right leg on the bench and landing wedged against the railing of the deck on my back with my right arm pinned under me. My frantic screams quickly brought my daughter and next-door neighbours to the scene. Soon the fire department and ambulance service arrived. I have little recollection of their rescue other than a vague feeling of horror as they threw all the furniture off our high deck and struggled to get me into a neck brace and stretcher, down the ten steep steps to the back yard and into the ambulance.

All this resulted in seven and a half hours of emergency surgery to repair what turned out to be seven breaks in the right ankle, knee and upper arm. I woke up in considerable pain with 17 pieces of metal in me—a rod and screws through the humerus, a four-inch plate in the fibula, bolts to try to hold the crushed tibial plateau at the bottom of my knee together, numerous screws to keep all these things in place, and, of course, a huge leg cast and arm immobilizer. Because of the multiple breaks it was a long time before I could get out of a wheelchair and onto crutches. My doctor declared me “architecturally challenged” because my bi-level house necessitated going down eight steps to the lower level or up eight steps to the upper level. Thus, I was destined to spend three and a half months in hospital, only being discharged in mid-August when I could finally maneuver steps on my crutches.

Most of my fourteen weeks was spent in a rehabilitation hospital, braving four hours of physiotherapy daily and gradually adding occupational and hydrotherapy sessions. I learned quickly, however, that my injuries were minor compared to most of my fellow patients, the majority of whom had suffered severe strokes, spinal cord injuries, complications from multiple sclerosis or loss of limbs due to accidents or diabetes.

What kept me relatively sane throughout all this was my editorial job. Luckily, my quarterly magazine was due to go to press a week after my accident and most of my work had been done. Our publisher quickly secured the services of one of our writers to complete my editorial and put the thing to bed. One week later I started serious work on the next issue, clumsily using my left hand and the telephone. Soon I became a one-hand whiz on my laptop computer, with the modem enabling me to communicate with writers, the office, our art designer and printer, aided by daily visits from our secretary who delivered papers back and forth. The hospital staff got quite used to me burning the midnight oil at the computer, probably considering me a bit nuts though they were very supportive as long as I didn’t keep my three roommates awake.

I’d like to share with you my editorial for the Fall 1999 issue of Esprit, the magazine of Evangelical Lutheran Women. The magazine is thematic and, as coincidence would have it, the theme for the issue which was finishing up just as I left hospital was “Body and Spirit.” I entitled it, “Life’s Lessons Reinforced.”

“Beginning to write this column brings me full circle since the last issue of Esprit. Then, my horrendous fall and seven breaks in right leg and arm bones resulted in the need for someone else to write this column. Now, after 14 weeks in hospital (most of it in rehabilitation), I have two more days before going home and this editorial is due. What a place this has been to glean ideas for the topic, “Body and Spirit!” I would not have chosen the classroom, but every minute in this environment has reinforced some important lessons in life.

“Lesson #1: I am a combination of body and spirit—an integrated whole that cannot be divided into neat categories of spiritual, emotional or physical. Wound the body and the spirit is wounded. Wound the spirit and the body is often equally affected.

“Lesson #2: It’s OK to cry. Roommates or caregivers need to allow one the chance to release emotions without feeling that the crying has to be explained or “fixed.” And, I needed to give myself permission to cry without feeling guilty or “stupid.”

“Lesson #3: Private moments are precious. I only realized how much so when I didn’t have any. Grasp them, however and whenever they come.

“Lesson #4: The social part of my humanity is equally important. The need for others is as basic as food, water or shelter. The warmth and touch a person receives or doesn’t receive from family or friends can have a profound impact on healing. What a contrast I saw in the progress of two roommates who had had similar strokes. One had no family present. Her four children, in another province, neither visited nor wrote. One son called a few times, promised the doctor he’d visit and take her home with him and then never showed up. Only one friend ever visited and then rarely. Her body healed enough to leave hospital but her spirits were low. The other woman, an Inuit from the far north, arrived with eight family members in tow. They attended therapy sessions with her, assisted in her care and kept her in their midst except for sleeping. Despite considerable disability and almost complete lack of English skills, she progressed with a cheerful demeanor, appearing confident and content.

“Lesson #5: Communication is a wonderful release. If someone will listen, it’s good to be allowed to unload a frustration, share a pain or rejoice in an improvement. When I’m the one feeling up to it, it’s also important to allow the other person to unload on me.

“Lesson #6: God loves a cheerful caregiver—and so do patients. Caregivers love a cheerful patient as well—but patients often find it hard to be cheerful all by themselves. Cheer travels, though, so let’s start with the caregiver.

“Lesson #7: Many of us who have prided ourselves as caregivers have a hard time accepting having to be cared for. It’s a humbling experience to have to ask for everything one needs. Proverbs tells us “humility goes before honour.” However, it sometimes takes a little assertiveness to make your needs known—one shouldn’t be too humble to ask.

“Lesson #8: The little things in life can give the greatest pleasure. When progress towards healing is slow, it’s important to note each little step forward. How uplifting it can be to have a therapist point out the centimeter improvement in bending or straightening a broken knee or the slight movement of a stroke-paralyzed hand. A woman I’ll call “Jane,” silenced by brain injury, one day surprised us by suddenly singing out, “When you’re smiling, the whole world smiles at you!” How we celebrated those words, even though it might be a long time before she could repeat them.

“Lesson #9: The spirit of God dwells within me. The chances for meditation and interaction with the source of my being are endless. The Lord’s presence is there whether I’m lying on a stretcher in a speeding ambulance; being anointed with oil in a healing ritual before surgery; chanting silently God’s assurance from the book of Isaiah, “You are precious in my sight, and honoured and I love you” (Isaiah 43:4a) while painfully trying to turn the arm ergometer; anxiously taking the first steps on crutches; talking about losses and gains with my roommates; suffering neglect from too-busy medical staff; receiving a hot pack or massage from caring medical staff; praying behind curtains closed around my bed nook; or lying sleepless gazing at God’s beautiful night of moon and clouds outside my window. God is always there to sustain and comfort me. It’s good to be healing in body and spirit. Praise the Lord!

Gwynne & Gayle on crutches-Aug 1999_edited-1August 1999, Finally home after 3 1/2 months in rehab. Gwynne, just back from a summer in Norway and Gayle on her crutches. At left is part of our high deck and the steps I had to be carried down on a stretcher in May.

And they didn’t live Happily ever after … An Alzheimer Story

Yesterday our community in Vernon, British Columbia, observed a Walk for Alzheimer Research and for those who are living with Alzheimer Disease and their families. The Ukeleles for Fun band for which I usually play percussion performed for the walkers as they rounded the arena track. I wasn’t able to participate this year as I had an important commitment at my church, but I was there in spirit. I also contribute regularly to the Alzheimer Society’s research campaign and have been doing so for many years. I urge everyone to consider regular donations of whatever they can afford to Alzheimer research. The main reason I am so committed to this worthy cause is that my late husband, Gus Johannesson, had early onset AD, was diagnosed at age 58 and died four years later. At the time of his diagnosis our children were 12 and 17 years’ old. Now my present husband, has been diagnosed with mild cognitive impairment and is getting some help from an Alzheimer drug that wasn’t available when Gus needed it back in 1992. It is not a cure, but can hold off many of the complications from AD for a length of time. I’m hoping and praying that a cure may be found in the near future. In remembrance of Gus, I am sharing a copy of the letter that Alzheimer Manitoba asked me to write for their 1994 campaign.

Gayle Moore-Morrans


 

Alzheimer   Manitoba     

Johannessons at Pishew Falls MB 1988

And they didn’t live Happily ever after . . .

November 7, 1994

Dear Friends,

This September my husband Gus turned sixty. We wanted to celebrate as many families do, but the plans for our party were a bit different. His 60th “Toast and Roast” became the retirement party he never had and an affirmation of what he has meant to his family and friends while he is still able to appreciate it.

On the day of festivities we presented him with a book of remembrances gathered from friends and relatives around the world. This book is a tribute to Gus’s life as well as a tool for memory as he copes with his illness.

Two years ago Gus was diagnosed with Alzheimer Disease. I can’t say that our lives immediately changed. The disease doesn’t change your life overnight, but has over a number of years changed every aspect of our lives. To date, the cause of AD is unknown, there is neither cure nor definite treatment; it is progressive and will eventually be terminal.

It is incredible the emotional upheaval we all have been through these past years. All four of us have had counselling and hope that it remains available whenever we need it. The family has found comfort, relief, professional information and fellowship in support groups for adult caregivers, a children’s support group, the early stage support group, numerous educational sessions, and from Alzheimer staff and volunteers.

The Alzheimer Society of Manitoba has been able to provide these services because of people like you. I am happy to have this opportunity to personally thank you and let you hear firsthand how meaningful your help is for my family and many others.

It took a long time to really recognize that something serious was happening as Gus has always been a bit of the “absent-mined professor” type and we just figured he was getting more-so with age. This is not the situation. A man admired for his keen mind, having studied at the doctoral level in systematic theology has now forgotten how to tie a tie or manage the simple task of handling a sandwich. In happier days Gus was a Lutheran pastor giving support and guidance to others. Today he is on the receiving end.

Alzheimer Disease attacks the whole family. We are all hurting, angry, frustrated, scared; dealing with a tremendous loss.

Your roles change. I have had to become in as many ways as possible mother and father to my children and husband, directing all my energies outside of the workplace to the family. The children and I have become caregivers, not easy for an adult, let alone a twelve-year-old and seventeen-year-old. A caregiver’s day is often referred to as the “36-hour day.” That is how we live, each and every day.

As is typical with early AD, symptoms come and go resulting in good and bad days. So far Gus’s skills that are totally gone are writing, public speaking, driving, anything mathematical, and many deductive reasoning processes.

We thank God for the good days, for the patience that we are learning, for on-going medical research, for the help offered by the Alzheimer Society and most of all, for the prayers, love, help and support of family and friends.

Our family includes you when we say “Friends.” You probably don’t know us personally, but as a supporter of the Alzheimer Society you help make each and every day a little bit brighter, a little bit easier.

Once again, thank you for making our lives happier. Please continue your needed support. It is your caring and generosity that makes the difference!

With our sincere appreciation,

Gayle Johannesson

P.S. The number of families coping with the devastating reality of Alzheimer Disease is expected to at least double in the next decade.

 

ANNOUNCING PUBLICATION OF OUR LATEST BOOK: JAKE, LITTLE JIMMY & BIG LOUIE

 

 

JLJBL Book Cover

Finally the day has arrived to announce that our latest book is now available for order. We are proud of the product and hope many of you will be anxious to read it. We think adults will enjoy the book as much as children or teenagers will.  The book is written on the pre-teen reading level. You can order a copy online at the following link: https://www.createspace.com/5114278.

Signed copies will also be available from the authors at a Book Launch and subsequent book readings in Vernon, British Columbia, probably in the month of February.

Sometime in February 2015 the book should also be available for order online through amazon or from book stores. Unless you want to take advantage of free postage through amazon by placing an order at a minimum of $25, we request that you place your order through Create Space as listed above as we get a larger royalty and you receive the book at the same price and same shipping and handling fees as through other methods of online ordering.

For those who want to read the book in an e-book format, we will be listing it on amazon as a Kindle book shortly.

Below is the information from the book’s back cover:

Has a pet ever held a special place in your heart?

Though written for children, this book will appeal to pet lovers of all ages. It tells the story of Jake, an 11-year-old boy who adopts Little Jimmy, a budgie bird, born without wings. Jake learns to help Little Jimmy live and feel like a very special bird.

Later, a rescued baby chick is literally dumped into Jake’s hands. “Thing,” as Jake originally names him, soon insists on his own name, becoming “Louie.” Eventually Big Louie grows into a huge and very smart raven. Though he didn’t want the raven at first, Jake soon realizes that Big Louie has become an important part of the family who comes to the rescue when Little Jimmy gets into dangerous situations. One adventure follows another and the three become fast friends who really love each other.

Author Ian Moore-Morrans had ample experience raising his own Jimmy, a cockatiel, from newly-hatched to adulthood. Ian has used that knowledge in portraying realistic characterizations of both birds, including intelligence, comic actions, dependence and independence, plus an ability to “talk” and a knack for finding a very special place within a family.

Co-author Gayle Moore-Morrans, also Ian’s wife and editor, has added her own touch to the story, giving a spiritual dimension to Jake’s family and his decisions in caring for and loving his pets.

For that special “kid’s touch,” Ian and Gayle invited two of their great-grandchildren to collaborate on Jake, Little Jimmy & Big Louie. Great-grandson Leland German was their age-appropriate consultant and Great-granddaughter Hannah German served as the illustrator. They are pictured at the top of the following collage.

Wee Yins' collage-2014

TO OUR ‘WEE YINS’

Our book,” Jake, Little Jimmy & Big Louie,” is dedicated to the eleven children in our lives, three of them born since we first started blogging a draft of the book  almost two years ago. They are our youngsters (or “wee yins,” as Ian would call them in his Scottish vernacular).

In the center is a picture of Ian signing a stack of his books and one of Gayle busy at one of her Location Writing sessions. We are surrounded by photos of these very special children who make up our blended family: from top left and clockwise, Leland, Hannah, Logan, Eva, Gustav, Haylee, Brayden, Alex, Lexi, Madison and Caleigh. We love them all!

 

 

A History of Refuge and New Beginnings

We proudly reblog this inspirational story of a good friend and a terrific organization (Lutheran World Relief) which has done so much for so many refugees.

Voices from the Field

The struggles of refugees haven’t changed much over the decades. What also hasn’t changed is that Lutherans have been there to help.

Take the story of Rev. Harry Kapeikis. Harry was born in Latvia in the mid-1930s. In 1944, when

Rev. Harry G. Kapeikis Rev. Harry G. Kapeikis

he was only nine years old, his family fled into Germany to escape the brutality of the Russian army. It was not much safer there. In the last months of the Second World War, Harry and his family faced starvation and narrowly escaped death several times as they travelled west by truck, train, boat and even on foot in search of a safe haven. They had left Dresden only two hours before that city was destroyed and thousands killed. On another occasion, they made it to an air raid shelter within seconds of an attack. The train station where they had planned on staying the night…

View original post 783 more words

Installment 6 of “Jake, Little Jimmy and Big Louie,” a Children’s Chapter Book

Here, finally, is Chapter 6 of the children’s Chapter Book we are blogging. Our great-grandson, Leland, who just turned 12, is acting as a consultant on the story to let us know if the story reads appropriately for kids ages 7 – 12, and our great-granddaughter, Hannah, age 7, has consented to draw some pictures to go with each chapter. We’re looking forward to hearing from them.This photo of a newborn baby bird will give Hannah an idea of how the baby bird first called “Thing” might have looked.   raven chick ugly

This blogging has taken longer than we had hoped but the blogger (Gayle) is still on crutches recovering from left hip replacement surgery on February 7th. I hope to be off the two crutches in another week and a half and then on to one crutch for a short time and working into walking with a cane. All is going well but doing anything takes a great deal of time and I also spend a lot of time doing my exercises. Deanna, my physiotherapist just paid another house visit today and left me with a new set of a bit more difficult exercises – very helpful but a bit exhausting, too.

We hope you will continue to enjoy the story. Please give us any feedback you think helpful as the book is still in the pre-publication phase.

“JAKE, LITTLE JIMMY AND BIG LOUIE”

by Ian Moore-Morrans

edited by Gayle Moore-Morrans

Copyright © 2012

CHAPTER SIX

“Thing” Becomes “Louie”

raven chick hungryIt was good that the owner of “Bill’s Budgie Barn” knew all about caring for baby birds, not just budgies—but even wild birds.

(The rest of the chapter’s contents has been deleted prior to publication.)

Picture suggestions:

A black chick with its mouth open (see photo sample above).  or

Jake holding and feeding the baby chick some water from an eye dropper, while little Jimmy is perched on Jake’s shoulder.

Installment 2 of “Jake, Little Jimmy and Big Louie,” a Children’s Chapter Book

Wouldn’t my fictional character Jake be a bit jealous of me today? Gayle and I drove about 40 minutes north to the town of Salmon Arm, British Columbia, checked in at the SPCA and adopted a dog whom we’ve named Misty. Misty is a very lovely senior lady – a Shih Tzu cross with soft black and gray fur highlighted by a white chest and front paws and, of course, the distinctive Shih Tzu fanned tail. We fell in love with her immediately and she seems to be enamored with us as well. I’ll add a photo of Misty and me here as we got acquainted at home in Vernon this evening. Misty and Ian-first day

This shouldn’t take anything away from the story of Jake and Little Jimmy, though, as I think Jake was just as smitten with Jimmy as we are with Misty. So — here is the second chapter of my children’s chapter book “Jake, Little Jimmy and Big Louie.” I hope readers of this blog will like the story well enough that you will check “follow” and begin to get updates to the story as we post it. Enjoy!

“JAKE, LITTLE JIMMY AND BIG LOUIE”

by Ian Moore-Morrans

edited by Gayle Moore-Morrans

Copyright © 2012

CHAPTER TWO – Jake Meets Jimmy

A few minutes later as Jake and his dad were in the car and heading for Bill’s Budgie Barn, Jake was surprised to realize he could not wait to get there, impatient to see “hundreds, maybe thousands” of little birds all in one place. Soon they turned into the driveway of Bill’s place, parking the car behind an old red half-ton truck.

(The rest of the chapter’s content has been deleted prior to publication.)

 

* ~ * ~ *

Picture suggestions: Lots of birds perched and flying around in cages.

Jake kneeling down to view Jimmy.

Bill talking with Jake who is holding Jimmy.

Some of the bird care items Bill gives Jake.