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Saturday, June 27, 2015

What's For Dinner?

When I came to live with Gram, I was a scrawny little girl. She used to say that someone who was very thin needed to turn around twice to make a shadow. Well, with me, she said that I needed to turn around three times. I had a lot of growing to do, and Gram did a great job of feeding me. I loved just about everything that she made (I was never a big fan of liver, and to this day, I don't care for lamb.), and ate it heartily.   For the first time in my life, I had access to plenty of food as well as the knowledge that I was free to eat as much of it as I wanted. 

One summer evening, Gram had planned to have strawberry shortcake for dessert. She had quite a strawberry patch in the back yard, so we had access to wonderful berries all summer. I sat down, hungry as a bear, and began to eat. I put a huge helping of everything on my plate. Then I realized I had taken way too much. Gram would refer to this as your eyes being bigger than your stomach - thinking you could eat more than was actually possible. I sat at the table, looking at my plate, which still held some food. I could see dessert slipping away from me. 

Gram asked what was wrong, was I full? I told her that I couldn't eat any more of what was on my plate. I was actually quite sad because I loved Gram's strawberry shortcake. Gram gently told me to just be more careful in the future - I could have as many helpings as I needed to fill my tummy. I just needed to start with a smaller portion. I was already feeling better. Gram cleared our plates and asked me if I was ready for some strawberry shortcake. When I halfheartedly objected that I hadn't cleaned my plate, she said that it didn't matter, I could still have dessert. I was probably the happiest girl in the world as I ate the ladyfingers floating in cream, smothered with sweetened strawberries, and topped with whipped cream. It was heavenly. 

Gram made all sorts of different dishes and always encouraged me to try new foods. I live by her example to this day - I can't know I don't like something if I have never tried it. Because of her, I have tried things ranging from frog legs to emu, wild boar, snake, quail eggs, escargot, to name a few, and all sorts of international cuisine. As a relatively basic cook, she also had some surprisingly varied dishes in her repertoire. She made a pepper steak that rivals most of what I can find in restaurants. Her beef stew was heavenly, and I have yet to be able to replicate it exactly. After she saw how much I loved the potatoes in the stew, she always put extra in the pot for me to enjoy.

She also made a fabulous Swiss steak dish. I also loved her potato salad, a recipe I have managed to pretty much duplicate. Oh, and if Liz were here she would tell you about the delicious dish we often referred to as orange rice because of the color it turned after it was cooked. It included beef broth, onions, and paprika, and it was heavenly. I would gladly eat a dish right now, with some pepper steak on the same plate.

Gram also made some wonderful desserts. She could bake a lemon meringue pie that would put any television chef to shame, with a tall, delicious mountain of fluffy meringue on top. She made various cookies and sweet and regular breads, and cakes, and little doughnuts. She made an orange cake that required freshly-squeezed orange juice. She'd tell everyone who asked for the recipe that it must be fresh-squeezed. When their cakes failed, she asked if they had used frozen concentrate. It was always their big mistake. Oh, how I wish I had that recipe!

When I was eating breakfast in the morning before school, she would ask me if I wanted one or two sandwiches in my lunch. I remember once asking her if I could have three. Hey, growth spurt! She promised a big snack when I came home instead. After school and playing outside with my friends, I'd come in, eager to know what we were eating for dinner that night. Sometimes my nose would tell me, as I could smell the chicken soup or chili or stew or spaghetti sauce.

Occasionally, dinner would not yet be started. I'd ask her what was for dinner that night, a question that I know drives some parents crazy. She'd reach for a pot or skillet and tell me what was on the menu. Every so often, she would shake things up, maybe just to make sure that I was listening. On a few occasions when I asked the question, she'd put a pan on the range and say, "Oh, I think we'll have fried potatoes and alligators." We'd have a great laugh over it, even while we did the dishes after dinner, her washing, and me drying.

I have my own dishes and baked goods that I like to make now, but I still wish that I knew how to make some of Gram's wonderful dishes. And every so often, when Trent asks what I think we should have for dinner, I'll answer, like Gram would sometimes do, "Friedpotatoesandalligators!"

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

She Lost Her Head

There's a story that I have been keeping from you. I have been wanting to tell it from back before I even started writing this blog. I promised the parties who were involved that I would submit it to The Reader's Digest. I was certain that if they had a super-duper humorous story contest, this would win hands-down, earning me buckets of money. Well, I've been waiting for one of these contests to materialize, and nothing has happened. In looking at their website, if I were lucky enough to get the story published, I'd earn a whopping one hundred dollars. In addition, the story would forever become their property and they could use it as they wished without even giving me any credit. All in all, although I'd love to earn some money for it, I'd rather just share it with my readers for free.

Several years ago, I went on a trip to Europe with my sister Liz and my friends Marie and Julie. We started off in Budapest, spent a day in Vienna, and located my family in their little village in Western Hungary. Then we headed off to spend several days in Paris. We had a lot of amazing experiences on this trip, and had tons of fun as well. In addition to seeing all sorts of beautiful places and meeting my family, we had many moments that left us laughing until we cried. 

Liz has spent many years in the banking industry, and Marie is schooled in Accounting, but Julie and I seem to have a natural knack for numbers. When we were preparing for the trip, I wanted to make sure that I had an idea of what I was spending in American dollars when I used the local currency. I told my fellow travelers that 1000 Hungarian forints were roughly equal to 6 US dollars. Pretty simple, right? You'd think so. A typical day of shopping in Budapest would have Banker Liz looking at a price tag and exclaiming, "Two thousand dollars!" On the other hand, Accountant Marie would be saying, "Okay, this is 2500 forints. If 1000 forints is 6 dollars, then..." Julie and I would act aggravated and interrupt with, "It's fifteen dollars, Marie!"

On a beautiful spring day while we were in Paris, we decided to take a train trip to see the palace at Versailles. As a student of History and a person who appreciates beauty, I was excited to see the home of King Louis XVI and Queen Marie Antoinette of France. It was everything I expected, and much more. There was so much beauty and detail, one's eyes and brain almost overloaded on everything they were seeing. As luck would have it, both Liz and I had problems with our cameras that day. Liz's started having problems a day or two before, and after just a short while at Versailles, the new battery I had purchased outside the gates quit working. We relied on Marie and Julie to take lots of photographs.

After spending some time roaming through the castle, and occasionally resting on benches and chairs that the doomed King and Queen may have used themselves more than 200 years ago, we shopped, ate lunch, and found ourselves on the train back to Paris. The train had seats facing both ways on both sides of the aisle, and Julie and I were sitting on one side of the train while Liz and Marie shared a seat across the aisle and facing our direction. We were relaxing and talking, and Marie was showing Liz her photos of the artwork, sculptures, furniture, and other treaures in the palace.

As she looked at her photos of some paintings, I heard Marie say, "Oh, No!!! I cut her head off!" Well, being a natural-born smart-aleck, I quipped, "Must have been Marie Antoinette!" Julie and I both found my remark extremely witty, and we dissolved into a fit of giggles. Marie responded with, "I can't tell, I cut her head off!" Julie and I completely lost it. It's really a wonder we didn't wet our pants or make ourselves sick with laughing. Or both. Liz and Marie gave us dirty looks from the other side of the train, having totally missed the jokes. All of the passengers around us, none of whom spoke English, glared at us as well for our lack of dignity.This made it even worse. We were rolling around in our seats, tears streaming down our faces, shrieking with laughter. Even after we calmed down, we kept bursting into spontaneous fits of giggles for the rest of the ride back to Paris. It was absolutely delicious.

Marie and Liz were both good sports about it when we explained why we were so hysterical on the train. And they've gotten many laughs out of the story in the numerous times that it has been retold. Marie still seems to find it funny when I make jokes about people losing their heads, which I would never do about Marie Antoinette. Oh, wait, I already did, didn't I? Also, if you were curious about the unfortunately-photographed lady in the painting, it was Empress Josephine, the first wife of Napoleon Bonaparte. Marie's photo aside, her head remained intact.

Friday, June 19, 2015


My brain is in a bit of a muddle as I turn on the computer for the first time today. I had to go for a monthly blood test today, the one my friend Marie calls my green poke. She calls it that because I take a medicine called Coumadin to try and keep the clotting in my legs controlled and keep it from spreading to larger blood vessels where clotting would be even more dangerous and life-threatening. Eating a lot of lovely green stuff like kale and brussels sprouts will undermine the effects of the drug (that's the green part) and I get my finger poked every month, or more often if necessary, to make sure that I have a desired level of the drug in my system. The poking part is no big deal. You do what you have to, right?

The muddle comes from after the green poke, on which I did really well, by the way. We ran a few errands on the "Since we're out, we might as well..." plan. As we were running trudging about, we realized that the higher than normal (for Colorado) humidity was zapping our energy. We stumbled home and within minutes we had decided to take a long summer's nap. Did I say long nap? It was more like a short night's sleep transplanted to an afternoon. When I returned to the land of thinking people at about 6:00 p.m. my first thought was that I needed to write.

That's what this post is about, actually. When I wrote last, about a week ago (many apologies to my dear neglected readers, you deserve better attention), I had something odd happen in my little brain. After I finished writing and publishing and making notifications, I got the idea that last Sunday was Fathers' Day. I finished everything with the post and said to Trent, "Is tomorrow Fathers' Day?!" He said that yes, it sure was. See, I wasn't the only one who was confused. And one of my friends thought it was too, so there! 

I was rather disgusted with myself because I have begun revamping some of my older pieces that were created when I was a bit less confident with my writing. I am not saying they are awful, nor that my writing now is super-fantastic. It's just that they aren't quite the same flavor as the things I cook up nowadays. So from time to time I intend to rewrite some old pieces that are worthy of improvement. My first was a piece about my mother, and I had originally intended for my second to be about my father.

When I thought that I had missed the opportunity to rewrite the Fathers' Day-ish piece, I was disappointed with myself for losing the timely opportunity. But on the other hand, I didn't really want to write it. Actually, I didn't care. It may be hard for many people to understand feeling that way, but there it is. Ever since having that realization, I think I have had some weirdness going on in the old noodle. For those of you too young to understand that reference, it's an old-timey way of saying in my brain.

What kind of person doesn't want to rewrite a piece in which she honors her father? A terrible ingrate? Some sort of spoiled rotten offspring? In my case, not really, on any of those or other possible insults. I do honor my father in many ways. He went through a lot of horrible things during and after the Second World War. He had to uproot his young family and move them across the world to a place where he knew only a handful of people. If not, all of them would have been killed because of his involvement in, or sympathy for, the Hungarian Revolution. After he brought his family to The States, one more child was added to the family, that child being me. I loved my Papa. I also feared him.

For many years, I only had a few clear memories of my father. One was of him walking through the doorway from the kitchen to the dining room, folding his belt in half as a threat, or a promise, to spank someone's backside. The other was what he did to my mother. The simple, but somehow most awful, way of putting it is that he bludgeoned her nearly to death and left his children who ranged in age from seven to sixteen to find her when she was able to summon the strength to scream for help. My father turned himself in to the police. My mother died two days later. Our family and our lives were forever changed, forever damaged.

For many years, I actively hated him but managed to let go of that at the age of fifteen. I realized that this hate was damaging me, that hate didn't hurt the one that was hated. Hate only hurts the one who carries it in their mind and heart. Instead, I felt nothing. After many years, I was able to learn some things about my father that allowed me to have some more positive feelings toward him. I am finally able to honor him. However, the life experiences I have had as a result of his actions still leave me conflicted. That one horrific experience set me on the path to a chain of many more terrible times. But they also set me on a path that gave me more opportunities than I would ever have had otherwise. Talk about guilt! Knowing that while your mother's death was horrific and led to years of physical and mental abuse while also giving you a life you'd never have had without it? It's the kind of stuff that could have kept Sigmund Freud busy for years.

As a result of my simple confusion over Fathers' Day, it's been difficult for me to sit down to write without dredging up this internal conflict. Obviously I made the choice to attack it head-on. I hope that I have stilled the demons of memory for a while. And I hope that I will be able to honor the positive actions of J├ínos, my father, in spite of his terrible ones. I'm fairly sure that I will spend much of my life feeling conflicted. But I won't let it define me.

Saturday, June 13, 2015


As humans, we have a long history of using sensory cues for important information. Before we had the ability to light our way in the darkness, we only strayed from home in the daylight hours. We needed to be able to see what was in our path, whether it might be something good or bad. It could have been a tasty plant or some other food source, or it might have been a creature that had claws and teeth and four legs on which it could run quickly to hunt us down. We used our senses to protect us and prolong our lives. We also used, and still do, visual and other cues to understand the people around us. Someone might not tell us that they are unhappy or unwell, but our eyes and ears could tell us a different story. We might see the wince of pain on someone's face, or the unshed tears in their eyes, or hear the foggy sound of congested lungs.

We still use our senses every day to gather information and understanding of others. I sometimes wonder whether these tools of our senses have turned in our hands like a knife that slips out of someone's grip and ends up deeply cutting their hand. Everyone who is able to see processes the information in their own manner, of course. I think, though, that whether or not we admit it, we all judge others in many ways. Whether or not those judgements are fair is what spurred me to write this post.

Note: my grammar-and-spelling tool is already passing judgement on me. It does not seem to realize that judgement and judgment are both accepted spelling variations. I choose to spell it as judgement because it looks right to me. What can I say? To me, the other version is less esthetically pleasing. If that makes me shallow, so be it. Of course, I say this with tongue firmly planted in cheek.

Okay, back to the subject at hand. I think we often forget that there is more to many situations than meets the eye. I read an article yesterday about someone who parked in a handicapped space while displaying his handicapped parking permit. He has no visible handicaps, and when he came out of the store there was a particularly nasty note left on his car stating that his only handicap was his mental ability. There are many handicaps that are not visible to others. This gentleman is considered legally blind. No, he doesn't have a limp or use a wheelchair, but he has a challenge nonetheless. Trent and I have gotten the stink eye, as I like to call it, for the same reasons. After years of medications that keep his body from killing his transplanted kidneys, he has arthritis in his spine and pain and difficulty with walking. No, he isn't in a wheelchair, but his pain is still a challenge. As someone who also deals with chronic pain, I understand how that feels.

The judgements people make seem to be more frequent and unkind than ever before. If someone is overweight, they are labeled as a fat, lazy, person who has no self-control. If they are thin, they are anorexic or bulimic and need to eat a sandwich. If they're athletic, they must be brainless, and if they are smart, they must be weak. The list goes on. I've been wanting to write about this, but the article I mentioned was one of the catalysts to me writing this tonight. The other was another news story, this time from a local news affiliate.

I have chosen to get updates from this local television news station in one of my social media news feeds. It gives me an opportunity to catch some important stories and some lighthearted ones, as well. The other day, there was a story about a woman from Colorado who was a murder victim. Caution: this is a very unpleasant story. The facts, in a nutshell: 

-Ms. Brooks has a husband in Fort Morgan, Colorado.
-She flew to Florida to meet with an ex-boyfriend, Mr. Pope. He picked her up at the airport early Sunday morning.
-Ms. Brooks' body was found in a waterway Monday afternoon. She died of wounds to her head after being bludgeoned with a rock.
-Mr. Pope, the suspect, committed suicide on Tuesday. Evidence found at the home indicated that Ms. Brooks was killed there and then dumped in the waterway.

It's a terribly sad story. What made me even sadder was some of the comments that were made by readers. Someone named Stephanie said that she shouldn't have attempted to cheat on her husband. Josie said, "Grass isn't always greener on the other side. Now she's six feet under it." People were glibly stating that it was her fault and that she deserved to be bludgeoned to death because she went to meet this man. I am glad to say that there were many voices of reason that stated what I thought was obvious. We know nothing about her situation. She may have been miserable and on the brink of divorce. She may have simply been going to visit an old friend who also happened to be an old flame. Yes, she hugged and kissed him at the airport, and they walked out holding hands. There are also many people who act that way with friends as opposed to just with lovers. And even if she went for romantic reasons, why would anyone say that she should be bludgeoned to death because of it? As someone who has seen the victim of a bludgeoning very close up, I can tell you that this woman did not "deserve it."

How can we set ourselves up high as judge and jury for circumstances that we don't understand and people that we don't know? Do we really think that we are so much better than everyone else around us? I have to wonder what these people would think if the victim was their daughter or friend or sister. Or themselves. Perhaps we need to take a deeper look at ourselves and try to regain our humane and truly human core. There are many among us with problems, and most of them are not visible to others' eyes. Someone may be overweight because of a medical condition. Or, like someone I used to know, they may have shielded their body with extra weight after being the victim of a date-rape. That thin person might be anorexic, but they might also have a glandular imbalance. The truth of the matter is that we don't know much about someone based on what our eyes see. Maybe we need to stop our judgements so that we can know them with our hearts. 

Thursday, June 11, 2015


If you've read my blog for very long, you'll know that my Gram had a saying or a bit of folksy wisdom for just about everything. There were some things that were pretty straightforward, and some that took me some time or experience to be able to understand. Many of her gems had to do with health issues. As an example, and with apologies to the males reading, if a female was sick and began her monthly cycle, Gram always said that it was a good thing because it would "draw the sickness out of her body." I never argued the point, because anyone in that unenviable position is too worn out to fight have a disagreement.

Gram also had a heap of wisdom to do with the common cold. Her famous cough remedy is used by many who knew her to this day. She swore by a mixture of equal parts of honey, lemon, and whiskey. After I moved in with her, Gram's daughter Alice would drop off her daughters Terry and Vicky (High-School aged) at Gram's if she and Bill were going to be away for the evening. We'd sit around the table playing cards or Yahtzee and having a good time. Vicky would clear her throat a few times, and this quickly turned into a cough. Gram would offer to make her some cough medicine, which Vicky would act like she was trying to refuse. Before she went home, she had a dose or two of medicine to calm her "cough." Mmm-hmm. I don't know whether Gram knew Vicky was faking it or not, but I'm guessing that she did. Sometimes grandparents need to act like they don't know what's really going on in order to really make a grandchild's day.

Although I am not a drinker, I always revert to Gram's cough medicine recipe for bad colds. The claims she made about the mixture are sometimes supported by open-minded practitioners of science or medicine. Honey soothes, lemon helps reduce icky phlegm, and whiskey can be a germ-killer. And as Gram might jokingly say, if nothing else, it certainly can make you feel a bit happier.

Gram also used to share an old bit of wisdom regarding colds - it was commonly said that they lasted nine days. She always said that a cold was three days coming, three days staying, and three days going away. Of course, this saying came from people who weren't acquainted with people like me who have autoimmune diseases (systemic lupus) or people like Trent, who have received transplants. We try to joke about it, but when we get something like a cold, it's not like everyone else's experience. In Trent's case especially. 

People who take immunosuppressing drugs are literally inhibiting the strength of their immune systems in order to keep their bodies from rejecting their transplants. We try to make jokes about it, but we do have to exercise some caution to keep healthy. When we go to church, for example, we sit in the very back row so that everyone's germs can be coughed toward the front and, we hope, avoid us. But, as I like to say, Trent can catch a cold from across a room. And little kids who aren't sick but have been around other kids who might be ill will give him a cold in record time.

When it comes to Gram's timeline for colds, I guess you could say that Trent is an overachiever. Instead of three days coming, staying, and going, it's more like ten days for each phase. And let me tell you, I wish that Trent and I could hang on to money like we hang onto a cough! Trent's about three and a half weeks into a cold, and still coughing. And coughing. And coughing. Did I mention that he is still coughing? That's another thing Gram was wise about - coughs, fevers, you name it, will all get worse at night. I don't know or care why, I just know that it is true. In a cruel twist of nature, sleep will be impaired just when you need it the most. And as the not sick one, you listen to every bout of coughing just to make sure that the sick person is going to be okay. 

We're both hoping this one is on the way out the door, so we'll appreciate any good vibes you might send our way. Just one more thing. Is it too late to take a nap?

Be well, my friends!

Friday, June 5, 2015

Looking Up

Years ago, in the days of the VCR, My boss and I were chatting about old movies, which I have loved for most of my life. In those days, AMC was the American Movie Classics channel and had commercial-free, unedited older movies like TCM does now. Pam mentioned a movie that I had never heard of, saying that she absolutely loved it and hadn't seen it in years. As luck would have it, the movie came on within a short time of our conversation, so I decided to record it as a surprise for her. 

I sat down to watch this movie while it was being taped and cringed inwardly at the schmaltzy title song that was being sung during the opening credits. But the stars were great, so I decided to give it a try. The movie was called An Affair to Remember, and the stars were Cary Grant and Deborah Kerr. Before I knew it, I loved the movie, too. Cary Grant's playboy character is sailing on a ship to New York to reunite with the rich fiancee that he probably doesn't really love. Deborah Kerr is sailing back to the well-to-do man who pays for her clothes and apartment and whatnot. Naturally, the two meet and fall deeply in love on the journey. Knowing that neither of them has any money to start a life together at the time, they agree to meet in six months at the top of the Empire State Building. They say that if one of them doesn't show up it will be for a darn good reason.

The time passes, and Grant waits for several hours on the observation deck for Kerr. He doesn't realize that the reason she doesn't show up is because she was hit by a vehicle when she got out of her taxi. Her injuries leave her unable to walk and she does not want to be a burden to the man she loves. He continues painting, heartbroken and full of anger, and she works as a music teacher. He happens to see her at a theater with her former love but doesn't realize that while she is sitting in the audience her wheelchair is waiting in the wings. The next day is Christmas, and he shows up at her apartment. While they are talking, he still doesn't realize that her legs are up on the sofa because she can't walk. I won't spoil it for you in case you decide to watch the movie, but he comes to realize that she is unable to walk, and that is why she never showed up at their meeting place. She tells him, "I was looking was the nearest thing to heaven!" 

I'm sure that some of you are thinking that this may be the schmaltziest thing you've heard in a long time. You may also wonder why I've taken so much of your time telling you about this movie which I now love. It's because of something delightful that we saw just a few days ago. We were coming home and had just turned into our apartment complex. As we pulled up to a stop sign, I saw a bunny on the lawn perhaps fifteen feet in front of us. Being admittedly mature but having never completely grown up, I was delighted to see this lovely wild creature peacefully grazing on the lawn. Then, at almost the same moment, both Trent and I looked up. That's when we saw the Big Yellow Dog, meaning a labrador retriever or golden retriever or some variation thereof. He was standing on a second-floor balcony, his attention riveted on the bunny in the grass below. 

We both laughed with joy at the sight on the dog so completely focused on the bunny, which was oblivious because it was completed focused on the tender, delicious, green grass. Every muscle in the dog's body was tensed and all of its attention was on the grazing rabbit. I don't know if the dog was tracking potential prey and dreaming of a nice wild-rabbit dinner, or if he was just wondering if this was a little critter with whom he might really enjoy playing. That really was beside the point, I suppose. The point is that because we looked up, we got to see the whole picture. No, it wasn't the nearest thing to heaven. Okay, it might have been that for the bunny and the dog. But because we looked up, we had an even more delightful moment.

Sometimes in our lives, we get focused on the little or large details of our lives and forget to look up. We miss seeing things like dogs enraptured at the sight of a bunny in the grass. The smile of a happy child isn't seen. Clouds that look like lions, beautiful sunsets, trees in bloom, and double rainbows all may pass unnoticed. And yes, sometimes when we look up we see other things as well. Storm clouds, cracks in the walls, or maybe someone who needs a bit of help or a kind word. They're all around us, just waiting to be seen. I hope that we can all remember to take a moment now and then to just look up.

Monday, June 1, 2015

A Gift Called Life

Two days ago, May 30, Trent had his second birthday in the month of May. The first, around mid-month, was his actual birthday. It was fairly low key and we enjoyed ourselves quietly. The second birthday passed quietly as well, but we did take a few moments here and there to acknowledge the day. You see, on May 30, 2012, Trent received his most recent kidney transplant. We don't know very much about the person whose death provided Trent, as well as several other people, with the wonderful gift called life. We know that the donor was a male in his thirties, and that's about all. From the way the kidney has been functioning, I am guessing he was fairly healthy. 

Trent will tell you that with each transplant he has had, there have been some changes to his tastes. Although many doctors discount it, a lot of recipients believe in transplant memories. The cells in the transplanted organs seem to remember things that were enjoyed by their "original owners." Something we have both noticed since this transplant is that Trent's taste went from "meh" to "yes, please!" with Mexican (okay, American style Mexican) food. And the Red Hot sauce that he couldn't understand my taste for? Yes, he's crazy for it now. And ice cream. Trent has known some people over the years, fellow transplant recipients, whose tastes and behaviors have changed as well. There was the woman who was over forty and received an organ from a teenaged girl. Suddenly this woman who hated chewing gum couldn't get enough of it. Every time anyone saw her she was chewing gum and blowing bubbles. She found out that the donor did, in fact, absolutely love her bubble gum!

There is a very serious side to transplantation that many of you may not be aware of, which is the desperate need for organ donors. An average of twenty-one people die every day in the United States waiting for an organ transplant. When Trent was in the hospital before his first transplant, he had a roommate who needed a liver transplant. Sadly, this young father of two little girls was sent home to die. The time for him to be successfully transplanted had come and gone, and he was no longer strong enough to live through the surgery. Some years later, a young man that I had trained while working at the bank also found himself in need of a new liver. His doctors told him from the beginning that his chances of having a transplant were very slim. He was about six and a half feet tall, and there was very little chance of a donor being both the right size and blood type to save his life. Rob died waiting for a transplant that would never happen. 

I am not trying to give any of you a guilt trip regarding your stance on organ donation. It is an extremely personal decision, and I support everyone's choices on this subject. For some, there are religious beliefs that forbid removing organs, and others may find the whole process unnatural or bizarre or even off-putting. That's all okay, and I support your choices. The reasons I am mentioning it are very simple. One is that the decision is entirely up to you. If you want to be an organ and tissue donor, that is wonderful. If you don't, that is also wonderful. But second, and most important, is that you should let your loved ones know how you feel about organ donation. Even if your identification says that you are a donor, your survivors will be asked whether your organs should be donated. If they don't know how you feel, their decision may be the opposite of what you wanted. Let your family know exactly how you feel so that they don't have to struggle over the decision on your behalf.

Remember that life itself is a gift. Enjoy it to the fullest, and remember that the time and love and relationships you share with others are the greatest gifts of all.

A note from The Lunatic:

If you are curious about the number I shared above, or other facts and statistics regarding organ and tissue donation, please visit Donate Life America.