Tag Archives: love

Sacrifices Worth Making

I’ve had several pity parties for myself over the last few months while I’ve been out here in California visiting my sick aunt.

Although I’m glad I haven’t been home in Michigan for all the crazy weather, my heart aches for things I’m missing; mainly, my family and friends. I’ve also missed four major holidays, my son’s last day of school, and a half dozen birthdays. Not to mention numerous dinners with friends, my friends’ art shows and countless adventures with my photography/Cracker Barrel buddy.

Spending innumerable hours in the hospital, I have met many awesome people. With the exception of a few, the employees at PIH Health Hospital in Whittier, California are wonderful. Several have gone above and beyond their job description to make sure not only my aunt, but also my cousin, George, her private nurse, Mary, and myself are comfortable and know what is going on. Several nurses have come to visit and pray for her. My aunt has been treated with nothing but dignity and respect.
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Aunt Marguerite, despite being thousands of miles away from my home, has always been my favorite aunt. The fact that we both love cooking, collecting recipes, and drinking Scotch is only the tip of the iceberg. My aunt, like my dad, has the cool factor going for her. Through all of this, her sense of humor and well placed sarcastic remarks have stayed intact.

She has passed on those two traits to her son as well. I love that we can both use our humor and sarcasm to help each other get through this crazy/scary time.

When you look past George’s humor and sarcasm, you will find a loving son who is very devoted to his mother. He has slept in her room at the hospital every night since she was admitted April 3rd. The days he is forced to work, he is texting or calling for updates.

While part of me misses my family and friends at home, it is trumped by the fact that me being here has helped my cousin keep his sanity. We have laughed and cried together. My knowledge, albeit limited, of medical procedures and medications has helped ease his anxiety.

Let me tell you, I have learned more than I ever thought I would need to know about PEG tubes, intubation, C-diff, septis, lactic acid levels, and a laundry list of medications.

As I am writing this, I’m sitting in my aunt’s ICU room waiting for George. She is improving and having set backs everyday. It’s a very slow process. She is truly a fighter and has exceeded everyone’s expectations.

Although this whole experience continues to be like a roller-coaster ride, I have confidence in the medical staff here and I’ve placed all this in God’s hands.
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Hearing vs Listening

I started writing this a while ago. I am compelled to finish it now.

Hearing is simply the art of perceiving sound by the ear. Hearing just happens. Listening is something you consciously choose to do or not do.
With listening you need to not only comprehend what the person is saying to you but then you need to decide if you care enough to do what needs to be done. It’s something you need to do or not do. It can be as easy as putting the toilet seat down to stopping a behavior that the other person is unable to handle.
I wrote a blog about owning what you say & if you hurt someone with those words, apologize. https://ppetroline.wordpress.com/2013/04/15/own-it/ There is another part that is very important, your actions.
Your actions and your listening skills are very important. When someone tells you how they feel or how your actions make them feel…listen. Don’t blow it off thinking, “Oh, she’s just being over sensitive”, “He doesn’t really mean it”, “That can’t be true”. Well guess what? She isn’t being over sensitive! He did mean it! It is true!
Own it! Don’t play victim because someone hurt your feelings by telling you the truth about how you make them feel.
Don’t let it get to the point that someone bites your head off because you’ve pushed them over the edge. Listen to what people say to you. Don’t just perceive a sound, comprehend it and do something.
Sometimes it can go years before one gets backed into a corner and can’t handle the inconsiderate actions of the other. Relationships need to be based on listening, comprehension, actions and love.

The Perfect Blend

I am blessed! Most of you are thinking I’m talking about my life. Sure, God has blessed me with awesome family and friends, and I’m very thankful for that. But  I’m talking about me, the person, not me the wife, mom, friend & co-worker. The me I see when I look in the mirror. The me that is a perfect blend of my mom and dad.

My dad is an awesome guy. He has a definite cool factor going on. Looking at recent photos of him, you wouldn’t believe me, but he had curly hair. He has a great sense of humor too. I’m blessed to have gotten curly hair and my sense of humor from him. A cool factor too, if I do say so myself.

My mom lost her battle with breast cancer 19 years ago. I am blessed with many of her attributes. My love of cooking and collecting recipes has kept my family very happy.

Not everyone saw it, my mom had sarcasm down to an art. My brother-in-law, Eric, witnessed it up close and personal. Those who know me, know that sarcasm comes quite naturally to me. Except for my curly hair, I look a lot like my mom.

I am thankful I am who I am thanks to my mom and dad. Not only did I get my curly hair, love for cooking and my awesomeness from them, I also learned love. Love for my family, friends and country plus my relationship with my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

I can’t begin to thank them for being a huge part of making me who I am.??????         022

Mother’s Day

My heart is full of love but feels empty at the same time.

I miss my mom & daughter and love my sons more than words can express.

I feel empty, loss, love & blessed all at the same time.

When someone asks how many kids I have, my heart skips a beat.

Sometimes I will just say three & end the conversation. Other times I will elaborate on the details.

There are also times I say “Two…boys”. In my head, I finish the sentence, “and a baby girl in Heaven”.

The joy & sadness that I’m feeling intertwines. There are times joy wins & other times sadness overtakes me.

Own It

2012 was a crazy year. It started out uneventful. When we got to the last 3-4 months…totally different thing.

It seemed to spiral out of control. Words, like hairball & smile, to be exact, were a large part of what saddened my heart as 2012 started to wind-down.

The first word, ‘hairball’, was so offensive to a person that it ended an 11 year collaboration and friendship.

The other word was ‘smile’. As words go, smile isn’t a word you would think could cause such a problem. Timing is everything and the timing of the word smile on my Facebook page knocked the wind out of me, added to my heartache, and almost ended a 52 year friendship.

It’s one thing to make a comment that makes someone cry but also lightens their heart. It’s another thing to make someone cry and crush their already broken heart.

If yours words, no matter how innocent you think they are, come across wrong or are taken in a way you didn’t mean them…correct it. Not only correct it, do it quickly. Own it and apologize.

Some people don’t realize the power behind words. The person dishing them out may think the other person is being too sensitive…it doesn’t matter.

A half-hearted apology will lead to a half-hearted acceptance. That will leave a huge elephant in the room.

Words can hurt or words can heal.

Choose yours carefully.

God Sent an Angel to Get Me Home

332726_2815486549466_1327898898_33233656_269500960_oTwo weeks before she was due, I went to the doctor and found out my daughter,  Sara, had died. While I was at the doctor’s office, the medical assistants tried several times to find her heartbeat. They hooked me up to a fetal heart monitor and tried, oh how they tried, to get the monitor to make a sound…any sound. I knew in my heart what they were trying very hard not to show on their faces. I was only able to keep my precious little girl for 38 weeks.

My doctor came into the room and gave me a heartfelt hug and expressed his sorrow over what my head was having a very hard time processing. After talking to the doctor, one of the girls asked me if there was anyone they could call because they didn’t want me to drive home alone. I said no that I would be ok to drive myself home. Truth was I just wanted to get out of there as fast as I could so I would be able to drive home before the reality of what happened hit me. And the thought of sitting in an office full of pregnant women waiting for “someone” to pick me up was, well, not an option.

They didn’t want to but they agreed and asked me to call the office when I got home. I nodded, yes. I got in my car, started the engine, pulled out my cell phone and pressed the button to call my husband at work. It rang once, maybe twice, and I hung up. I thought (not sure how I was able to) that it wasn’t fair to Jack or myself to tell him over the phone.

I pulled out of the parking lot and made the first curve in the road. I truly do not remember anything else until I was in my driveway. I went in the house and called the doctor’s office. When the receptionist answered, I said I was home. She was glad I made it safely and commented that I got home pretty fast.

The rest of the day and the hospital in the morning, which is burned into my mind, I will save for another time. As for the drive home, I don’t know. I spent many days thinking about and several sessions in therapy talking about what happened that day.

The therapist chalked up the lack of memory about the ride home on the fact that I was probably in shock. I have agreed with that belief for many years until I had a dream (or nightmare depending on how you look at it) about that day at the doctor’s office. In my dream I relived the whole day right up to the first curve in the road… Even in my dream, it went from the curve in the road to my driveway.

The therapist didn’t have an explanation for this. I do. There is only one explanation. I was not in control of my car or my life after the curve in the road. It was only by the grace of God I made it home safely. My loving Heavenly Father sent my guardian angel to steer for me. I am very thankful that He not only made sure I made it home safely but that my precious Sara made it “Home” safely too.

To Everything There is a Season


Standing up for a friend and/or doing what is right can lead you down a path you didn’t expect to travel.

The author, a mutual friend, poured her heart out on the page to give the reader a glimpse of what she was feeling. When asked if I thought it was alright to remove part of a sentence in the piece…I said no. I tried to explain how important it is to leave the piece as it was written.

I felt a whirl-wind of emotions while making my way through the chain of events that happened after that meeting. After a series of emails…the piece was pulled from the program. The short list of emotions I was feeling included: disbelief, heartache, frustration, and love.

My disbelief was mixed with heartache and frustration as I tried to understand how some people could be so closed-minded that they will not listen to facts. By digging in her heals and not listening to me, she would throw away over a decade of friendship and collaboration. I also had a hard time understanding how another friend would turn into “Switzerland” so not to get involved.

I am thankful for the undercurrent of love that was flowing through me during this time. The love that gave me the strength to follow this path. Also the love for the author and for what she had written.

As God says in Ecclesiastes 3:1-8, for everything, which includes everyone, there is a season.

I am sad that what I have done for 11 years…seasons…has come to an abrupt end. I know that God will lead me and guide me through my next season.

THE HEALING BRICK
By: Julia Kovach

Nervously, I approach the Angel Statue thinking I’ll have to search for my son’s recently engraved and installed paving brick, but I look down and there it is, nestled in amongst all the other little angels, his name in print, for the entire world to see.

This sight provokes something unfamiliar in me; deep in my soul, in my very core. I kneel down and through my thin grey slacks I can feel the cold, hard, roughness of the bricks on my knees.

“My knees could bleed as I pay homage”, I think, as if atoning, “Let them, I would almost be grateful.”
I touch the words, ‘MICHAEL S. KOVACH, PRECIOUS SON’.

“Oh sweetie, look at you; you’re finally here.” I whisper.

Humbly, I bend down and kiss his name. Instantly I flash back to the hospital and he is in my arms again, and now I am not feeling the cold textured brick, but am kissing his face.

I open my eyes, tears streaming.

Like a cat coughing up an unmanageable hairball, thirty years of guilt, grief, and torment begin to rise, large and ugly, from deep within and catch in my throat.

I remember when I was pregnant with him and how I didn’t watch my diet and I didn’t reduce my stress and I didn’t get enough sleep. And I remember laboring, and how I screamed, “Don’t let me die!” but I didn’t scream for the life of my own son.

“Please forgive me.” I whisper.

I hear a guttural animal groan escape from inside me; as the words allow my agony to detach itself and release.

I was like a broken bone that had healed misaligned and needed to be re-broken so that it could be set right and mend properly.

Michael’s brick has been my one quick SNAP! I am now re-broken, re-set, and relieved.

I am deeply comforted and grateful, and finally healing well

Happy Birthday Mom

. Well Mom, it’s the first day of summer. That means it’s your birthday. If you were still here, you would be 85 years old. It will be 17 years this December that you lost your fight with breast cancer.

It makes me not only sad but a little mad too; when I think about not only the battle you lost but also the time we lost. I’ve been trying very hard not to dwell on the negative. It took a long time for my heart not to skip a beat when the phone rang at 10am (the time reserved for you and me to talk).

When I post something about you on facebook, it makes my heart smile to read all the beautiful comments that others post.

I have lost track of the number of times I’ve told people the story about when the two of us went to San Francisco. You thought it would be a good idea to throw a french fry to the sea gulls!

My heart swells with pride anytime someone says I look like you.

I cherish all the wonderful memories I have of our time together. I am truly blessed! Thank you for giving me the “good cook” gene.

All the wonderful memories (and recipes) I have are helping me get past the pain.

Give Sara a big hug and kiss for me.

I love you..

Unresolved Grief

I started seeing a therapist regarding the depression and anxiety that has started to get the best of me. It didn’t take her long to diagnose me with unresolved grief. My journey through grief started when my mom died sixteen years ago from breast cancer.
I was just limping along through my grief over her death. About one month shy of the second anniversary of losing her, my daughter, Sara, was stillborn at 38 weeks. The grief I felt right then hit the grief I was already dealing with like a freight train. I ended up with a mangled mess of grief.

The grief I was feeling over my mom and my daughter were a jumbled mess of emotions. I wanted to hold my daughter, look into her eyes and tell her stories about her Grandma in Heaven. I wanted to be able to cry with and talk to my mom about my heavy heart and the piece that was missing because her Grand-daughter was in Heaven. I couldn’t do either and it was tearing me apart.

The stages of grief were jumbled together. I tried to separate the two so I could work through them. Looking back, I think I was close to the “acceptance” stage of grief before Sara. After Sara’s death, when my grief was tangled together, working through the stages of my grief, flew out the window. Since I couldn’t untangle my grief, I went straight to “anger” for both losses. I thought maybe it would be easier to work through if I was at the same stage for both…didn’t work. Fourteen years after the death of my daughter, I’m still in the same place.

Through my therapy sessions and some self-reflection, I have realized I have been trying to work around my grief instead of through it. The pain doesn’t really go away, you just make room for it.

God has blessed me with a few true friends who have helped me on my journey through this train wreck. They have been there to talk to me, listen to me, hug me or just sit with me. They have seen past my “I’m okay”.
God has also blessed me with His promises. He will comfort me and make me stronger. He won’t take away my grief but He will help me make it through it.

H. Norman Wright said, “The hard news is the only road to true healing is through the grief process. The good news is God travels that road with us”.

1 Samuel 30:6 …David strengthened himself in the Lord his God

Poppy’s House

Sundays, when I was growing up, meant visiting and having dinner at my grandfather’s house. My sister and I called him ‘Poppy’. When my sister was quite young she couldn’t pronounce ‘grandpa’ so she said ‘Poppy’ and the name stuck. Even though it has been over three decades, I can remember Poppy’s house as if I was there last Sunday.

The red brick colonial house sat on a street lined with old oak trees; in the middle of a quite, quaint neighborhood in southwest Detroit. Ten wide steps led up to a long porch painted gunship gray. The front door was oak with a large, oval-shaped, leaded-glass window in the center. Walking through the doorway, you were greeted with an oak paneled staircase with a chunky oak banister and stairs leading to the bathroom and three bedrooms on the second floor. The smell of cherry pipe tobacco was mingling with the aroma of the chicken roasting in the oven and the rich buttery rice pilaf simmering on the stove; in the kitchen where I could always find my grandma.

In the living room was Poppy’s chair with wooden arms and red fabric, worn from the years. Next to the chair was a glass ashtray on a two-foot-high metal pedestal. On the far wall was a brown brick fireplace with a wooden mantle and recessed shelf. On the shelf was a Zippo lighter, cigar box, a canister filled with cherry pipe tobacco and a brass-and-wood pipe holder. In the holder, was a silver pipe cleaning tool and two pipes. The bowl of one pipe was white with a carving of a lion’s head on it. The other pipe was dark brown with a much worn mouthpiece. To the right of the fireplace was a steam heat register, painted the same color as the porch.

Beautiful oak molding framed the archway which led to the dining room, where there was a large stained-glass window above the china cabinet. Behind the beveled-glass doors of the china cabinet sat a half-dozen china tea cups, each with a different floral design, and a crystal bowl filled with butterscotch candies. On the opposite wall was a large rectangular gold-tone frame with a oval opening and a black and white photograph of Poppy in his World War I uniform.

On the long dining table was a white laced tablecloth with the Sunday-best china and silverware. A large bowl of lettuce, tomatoes and onions tossed with oil and vinegar was placed next to a small crystal bowl of tart pickeled cauliflower, carrots, celery, and green tomatoes. The empty space on the table waited patiently for the roasted chicken and rice pilaf to join in.

After dinner, coming from the living room were the sounds of Poppy banging his pipe against the ashtray to remove the old tobacco, then the crinkling of the tobacco pouch to refill the pipe, and the distinctive click and smell of the Zippo lighter igniting. Then, the popping and clicking of the tubes in the television sounded as it warmed up just in time to hear Sonny Eliot give the weather report.

For many years now, my grandparents have been spending Sunday dinners with Jesus. Time has taken it’s toll on the house and the street is not as quaint as it was when I was younger. I will always remember Sundays at Poppy’s house consisting simply of dinner and television, but memories so sweet they will stay with me for a lifetime.