Archive for November, 2012

Blogger of the Year Award

Dear Fellow bloggers:

I have been nominated for blogger of the year by nutsfortreasure, also known as Living and Loving. I would like to thank them this honor.  I hear you can earn more stars to add to your award.  I am not good at transfering these, so we will see what happens.  Thanks again to:

I nominate:  Tea with a Pirate

There is not enough time or room to honor all of the bloggers who have made me laugh, cry, smile, admire, see beauty again, become a friend.  SOME OF YOU MAY NOT DO THE AWARDS-I DONT DO THEM OFTEN-i NEVER HAVE QUITE GOTTEN THE HANG OF IT.

I sincerely thank  nutsfortreasure for their patience with me, compliments on my work and taking the time to award me this honor and elaborate on why I was chosen.  I doubt I deserve it.  This is a hard time of year for me and I am not able to keep up with all I should be doing.  Forgive me, if I have not mentioned so many of you that have helped me, taught me, supported me.  love to you all beebeesworld


‘Blog of the Year 2012’ Award

‘Blog of the Year 2012’ Award

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Do you know a blog that deserves an award?

Do you have special blogs that you love to read?

Which blogs do you bookmark and follow?

Would you like to give them an award this year?

Then the ‘Blog of the Year 2012’ Award is for you!

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The ‘rules’ for this award are simple:

1 Select the blog(s) you think deserve the ‘Blog of the Year 2012’ Award

2 Write a blog post and tell us about the blog(s) you have chosen – there’s no minimum or maximum number of blogs required – and ‘present’ them with their award.

3 Please include a link back to this page ‘Blog of the Year 2012’ Award –   and include these ‘rules’ in your post (please don’t alter the rules or the badges!)

4 Let the blog(s) you have chosen know that you have given them this award and share the ‘rules’ with them

5 You can now also join our Facebook group – click ‘like’ on this page ‘Blog of the Year 2012’ Award Facebook group and then you can share your blog with an even wider audience

6 As a winner of the award – please add a link back to the blog that presented you with the award – and then proudly display the award on your blog and sidebar … and start collecting stars…


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Bon Moore’s Story

When a Soldier Comes Home from a Civil War Prison Camp-
Bon Moore’s Story

Children grow a lot in two years.  When Bon Moore’s farmhouse came into sight at the end of the long, dirt drive, he saw his two oldest children racing up the road toward him.  “Papa! Papa!” they screamed in unison.
A smaller boy sat on a wagon by the steps.  “Elisha.”  The man whispered to himself.  He smiled as the three and a half year old boy looked up at him and then went on with his playing.  There was no sign of recognition on this little son’s face.  That hurt.  It hurt a lot.  Then his dear Margaret appeared on the porch with a toddler he had never laid eyes on.  He swallowed stiffly to keep the tears from flowing down his cheek.
It had been a long war, and Bon was stiff and sore from the long  trip home.  He was thirty-six years old and the last two years had weighed heavy on his body and soul.  His home in the western tip of North Carolina was a long way from Lake Erie and he had been traveling for some weeks.
Bon breathed in his first deep smell of home, the red clay soil, the pungent scent of new mown hay, the blood red blossoms on the rose bush that he had given Margaret for an anniversary long ago.  Margaret ran down the unpainted steps and into his arms, tears streaming down her cheeks.
“Look!” She cried. “it’s your papa come home from the war at last!”
Bon took the small boy from his wife’s arms, but the boy started to whimper.  Sadly, he handed him back to his wife and reached to hug his other children, Jack, Susie and Elisha, who were waiting impatiently behind their mothers skirts.
“Oh, Lordy!” he sighed, “It  is so good to be home.”

Bon had been a Captain in the 62nd North Carolina Regiment of the Confederate States of America.  He had enlisted in the service of his new country on June 18, 1861 in Cherokee County, “for the war”.  This term, often found in record books meant for the duration of the war, and for Bon Moore, the war would be over for months before he was able to return home for good.  Early in the war, he had come home on several occasions, lingering for weeks, as soldiers often did, in order to plant or gather crops, or take care of family matters.  Two of his children had been conceived on these visits.  It was a crazy war, a war about states rights, not slavery, to most backwoods southerners like Bon Moore.
Bon’s family were among the first white settlers in the rugged area of North Carolina now known as Clay County.  Several of his brothers served in the  CSA, one of them as a surgeon.  Two cousins had joined the CSA with him on that summer day in 1861.  Bon, like most of the Moore men, was short and stocky, only 5’5’’ tall, with soft gray eyes and dark brown hair.  His complexion, described as “florid” on the Prisoner of War records, was that of a man who had worked out of doors.  Bronzed from the sun, roughly textured from the weather.
The war, for many troops, wasn’t exciting or even dangerous the majority of the time.  Soldiers were much more likely to die of disease than  from injuries sustained in battle.  Still, when a battle or skirmish developed, it was usually devastating to the troops as they fell in droves to bullets and bombs fired at close range.
Most of the men’s time was spend moving from place to place, following the enemy and preparing for any battle that might occur.  They would clean the equipment, eat whatever food had been available and sleep in tents strewn across fields or at the edge of towns.
For the 62nd Regiment of North Carolina troops, all of that changed in early September of 1863.  After a summer of guarding bridges near Knoxville and conducting operations in East Tennessee, the 62nd found themselves in a very compromising position.  On September 9, 1863, Bon Moore was serving under Brigadier General Frazier near Chattanooga, Tennessee when the Brigadier General received news that Knoxville was occupied  by Union forces and that CSA General Buckner had been forced to retreat.  Upon hearing this news, Brigadier General Frazier, knowing that the Union troops were greatly superior to his own, surrendered his garrison of 2,500 men, 36 guns and 3000 small arms to the Union Forces.  In the coming years, he was greatly criticized for this move, but was later exonerated.
Many of the CSA soldiers, stunned and disgusted with this surrender without a battle, took off into the woods, thereby escaping.  The officers and soldiers of the 62nd North Carolina Regiment were not so fortunate.  They were taken to Johnson’s Island Officers Prison in Sandusky Bay, Ohio, which lies on Lake Erie.
Bon Moore was a prolific writer of letters.  During the years he was imprisoned at Sandusky Bay, he frequently wrote to his wife, Margaret.  His letters were filled with news from his regiment, who were all imprisoned together. Along with news of friends and relatives were Bon’s beautifully written messages for Margaret.  The letters this devoted family man wrote home filled the empty moments of Margaret’s life as well as those of her children and others who had loved ones in prison at Johnson’s Island.

At last, Bon Moore was home.  He smiled as he looked out on the field of hay that his brother, Benjamin, had mowed for him only a few days before. He strolled towards the unpainted two story house with his arm around his wife and his children following closely behind.
He thought of Benjamin, his older brother, who had mown the field.  He had been a doctor before the war, but his experiences as a surgeon during the war had been an entirely different matter.  There were so many dead and dying men in the places that Benjamin had found himself during the war.  Bon had never envied his job during the war years.
Several years ago, when Bon and Benjamin had been planting crops while on a furlow home, they had spoken at length about their experiences during the early years of the war.  Bon looked out on the fields that Benjamin had so thoughtfully mowed and remembered his brothers words.
“There are never enough supplies,” Benjamin had said, “but there is plenty of suffering.  The screams of the wounded rack your soul.  You are supposed to help them-save them-sometimes you do. Then you watch them die of infection or limp around on one leg and wonder how God could look down on such a sight without crying himself.”

Bon knew that mowing the field had been a blessing to both his family and his brother.  Benjamin worked outdoors to rid his mind of the war.  He had once written to Bon when he was held Prisoner and told him that working the fields helped him sleep at night.
Benjamin was setting up an office in Hayesville, the nearby town where he and his family lived. He and his wife, Roxanna had recently become grandparents for the first time.

Bon felt a chill run down his spine as he listened to the creaking of the wooden plank stairs that lead to his front door. Even in summer, the old wooden house entertained a slightly musty, yet welcomed odor.
“I wasn’t sure when you’d arrive,” Margaret apologized. “I haven’t prepared a meal since I fed the children their breakfast.”
“I’ve waited several years for a decent meal,” Bon laughed. “I think I can wait a few more hours!”
Margaret went to the kitchen and brought a plate of cold biscuits and a jar of molasses  from the pantry shelf.  “Maybe this will hold you ‘till I can prepare you a proper homecoming meal,” she smiled.
She opened a metal can that held a small amount of ground coffee and the wonderful aroma filled the room.  “I got it from Uncle John’s store in Hayesville, she whispered.  “First time they’ve had it in a while.”
Bon let out a deep laugh as he slapped his hand on the table.  “Well, what are you waiting on, woman,” he grinned. “Get that water going and lets have a cup!”
Without waiting on the coffee to brew, Bon lit into the cold biscuits and molasses.  He spooned the dark, sweet ‘lasses out onto the white china plate and broke apart a biscuit the size of a jar lid.  Margaret saw him put his nose down close to the plate and sniff the fragrant molasses as he sopped them up on his biscuit.
By the time he had finished the plate of biscuits and molasses, Margaret was setting a steaming mug of coffee in front of him.  “Oh, my!’ He exclaimed as he took a hot sip. “I believe I’ve died and gone to heaven!”
Margaret laughed as she sat down beside him with a cup of her own.  Bon put his finger to his lip and made a “shh” sound as Margaret opened her mouth to speak.  He pointed out the window to where the children were playing and they listened joyfully to their conversation for several minutes.
“Papa’s gonna get you for messin’ up that clean shirt!’ Susie scolded.
“Papa knows boys are bound to get dirty.” Jack shouted back.

Baby Bill was watching Elisha pull a cart.  “Come play with me, Bill.” Elisha hollered.
Bon leaned back in the dark wooden chair and smiled.  “The sound of children…” he sighed.  “How I missed it.”
“They missed you, too.” Margaret whispered.  “The younger ones will be glad to have their papa around.  They’ll grow to love you in no time at all.”
The supper that Margaret had prepared for him that night had been wonderful.  There had been fried chicken and thick flour gravy to pour on hot biscuits, sweet peas fresh from the garden and the first of the peaches made up into cobbler.  The children had chattered nervously during the meal, something that would not have ordinarily been allowed.  Margaret, usually stern about manners, had let Jack and Susie ask their father endless questions about his long absence.
Bon seemed to delight in the sound of their voices and answered their questions with a great degree of patience. It didn’t take a lot to satisfy the curiosity of children their age.  Jack had just turned seven while Susie was five and a half.  Their father had been absent so much of their lives that having him there was a novelty to them.
Elisha was quiet and solemn like his mother.  He listened as his older brother and sister quizzed their father about the war.  When Bon rose up from his chair after supper, he went to Elisha and stroked his light brown hair.  “Are you glad to see me, little fellow?” he asked.
“Mama said you would come home.”  Elisha smiled, looking up at Bon. “Will you pull me in the wagon?”
“You bet I will!” Bon told him.  “You and Bill both.”
Bill was sitting in the wooden high chair that Bon had made for Jack when he was a baby.  Bill was hitting his hand on the table and babbling in a language only he knew.  He had finished up the biscuits and gravy in his bowl and was a mess.
“Margaret, our little one needs some work,” Bon laughed.
Margaret got a rag and wet it in a pan of water.  She came over to Bill and gently washed his face and hands, then took off his bib and put him in his fathers arms.
Elisha was waiting in the wagon, and Bon put Bill in front of him and told Elisha to hold onto the baby as he pulled them around the dirt front yard. When Margaret had finished cleaning up the supper dishes, Bon took the baby back in to her.
He looked at Margaret and whispered, “I’ll be back in a bit.”  He walked out the back door and headed for the barn.  Margaret watched him out the kitchen window as he drifted around the barnyard.  He touched the aging gray wood  on the barn and then took a few steps towards the fence.  He seemed to be taking in every detail of the home he had loved and missed.
He bent down and grabbed a hand full of the red clay soil and watched as it sifted out of his hand back onto the ground.  When Margaret saw Bon walking down the rows of corn towards the far fields, she returned to her work in the house and left him to his thoughts.

Bon was not yet acclimated to home.  He would close his eyes for a moment and the prison camp would close in on him.  Although he didn’t know that nearly 26,000 Confederate soldiers had died in Yankee prisons, he knew personally of hundreds who had died within his sight.  Sanitary conditions had been deplorable.  Rats and filth were everywhere.  In every letter that he had written to his wife while in the prison camp in Ohio, he would report who had been sick and who had died since his last letter.  If no one he knew had died, he counted it a blessing.
He walked for a long time on that summer evening, his first back home in over two years.  He pondered the fate of the country that he had grown to love so well during the war years.  As the sun dipped lower in the sky, the humidity and heat made sweat pour from Bon’s body, yet he seemed unaware of it.  He thought back on the day that he and his cousins had traveled to a nearby county to join the war effort.  He questioned their idealism, the reasons they had felt they were fighting.   Weren’t they fighting for state’s rights?  Hadn’t the call to arms been against the north’s efforts at controlling the way the south governed itself?
He grew sad at the thought of how slavery had become the primary issue.  Maybe the southerners like himself had turned their eyes from the evils of slavery.  The laborers who lived on the property of backcountry white southerners had little in common with the slaves on big plantations.  Bon thought back on the time, before the war, that he had gone to court to help prove that a young woman that he knew was not, by law, a slave.
“Should anyone be a slave?”  Bon thought as he walked through the pastureland near his home.  He remembered his time as a prisoner of war, a time when he had  no rights, no choices and little hope.  He imagined that would be what life as a slave was like.   Yes, his family had been slave owners at one time.   They never had many slaves and Bon felt that they had been well treated. Still, it bothered him, now that the war was over.
His older brothers and sisters from his father’s first marriage had been cared for by a slave, a dear member of the household after their mother had died.  Moriah had been like a mother to them. The youngest child, James had been less than a year old when his mother passed away.  Bon, himself remembered Moriah, who still lived and worked in the house when John Moore had remarried and had a second set of children.  He realized that he had never thought of Moriah as a slave.  She had her own family and her own cabin on the farm.
Bon sat down under a maple tree to catch his breath.  He thought of Moriah and her family. “Wonder what even became of them?”  he mumbled to him self.  He thought of his own family.  What hardship would they face now that the war was over? Bon listened to the rustling of summer’s green canopy of leaves.  As he watched the shadows of the leaves waver across the grasses, so many thoughts filled his head.  What did the north have in store for the battered south now that the war had ended?
Bon shivered as a thought of the prison flashed upon his mind.  He had little trust in the desire of the Yankees to put the war behind them.  They had been as cold and thoughtless as the winters on Lake Erie.  He remembered well the chill and the humidity around the lake.  In the winter, cold was a constant source of misery for the prisoners, many of them sick and malnourished.  There was a great lack of clothing to keep them warm during those long cold winters.  Their quarters offered little protection form the chill of the wind and freezing temperatures.  Their barracks were heated with coal, when it was available.  Often, it was not.  Coal dust and smoke irritated the lungs of the already sickly men, worsening their fragile condition.  Many men died during winter.  Pneumonia, tuberculosis, often  called consumption, and bloody flux, an intestinal ailment abounded in camp.
Food supplies were sporadic, there never seemed to be enough and the quality was often very poor.  January of 1864 had been especially cruel, with below zero temperatures and strong winds persisting throughout the month.  In the spring of that year, Bon had written home with hopes of being released in the near future.  Another hard year in the Yankee prison had come and gone before the war was over and the last of the prisoners went home.
The men found little to do with their time a prisoners.  They passed the days taking with each other, remembering stories of their homes and families.  Sometimes, newspapers, supposedly forbidden, would make their way into the camps.  Since most of the prisoners at Sandusky Bay were officers and literate, they enjoyed these glimpses from the outside world.
After a while, Bon forced his thoughts away from his days as a prisoner and made his way through the fields.  He stood by the well not far from the kitchen door and took a deep breath.  He reached up and turned the pulley above the well until he had retrieved a bucket of fresh mountain water from the  darkness below.  He dipped a dipper of water out of the bucket and sipped it thoughtfully.  “No more briny lake water, “ he thought and finished drinking the scoop of water.  He scooped up some water from the bucket with his hand and splashed it on his face. The coolness of the droplets mixed with the sweat on his brow and washed down his face in rivulets.  He whooped out with joy at this simple pleasure, and soon made his way back to the house.

It had been nearly the middle of July, 1865 by the time Bon Moore returned home to North Carolina.  It was hot and muggy in the wood-frame house but even July in the mountains holds a wonderful coolness after sunset.  By the time Bon returned to the house, his wife was preparing the children for bed.  They walked the children to their rooms upstairs and read them a chapter from the Bible.  The children each said a grateful prayer for their father’s return.  Margaret tucked a thin sheet around each child and quietly walked down the stairs.
She and Bon went out onto the front steps and sat down.  Bon reached into his pocket and drew out a folded sheet of paper.  It was worn and damp, but he gently unfolded it and handed it to his wife.
“My oath of allegiance to the United States.” He said.
Margaret knew that it was reluctance to sign this document that had slowed his release and delayed his return home.  She ran her finger over the date of his release: June 12, 1865.  Some of the men in Bon’s regiment had started out their long trip home together., but had separated along the way.  Bon saw long, hot days of foot travel as he headed homeward.  As he drew  further south, there were times when a willing soul who had a horse and wagon would offer the soldiers a ride to the next village or town.
Bon took Margaret’s hand in his as they sat in the moonlight on the unpainted steps.  There was little of the spoken word between them on that night.  There was to much to say, so much time to make up for. On that first night, they found words both inadequate and unnecessary.
Margaret laid her head on Bon’s shoulder.  Somehow, this night made her feel very old.  She would turn 29 on the 22nd of July.  No gift could be greater than having her husband home again.  She took the pins that had held her hair tightly in a bun and laid them beside her.  Bon reached up and stroked her hair, still damp near the nape of her neck from the swelter  of the daylight hours.

There would be time to decide what the future held after the crops were gathered in the fall.  Maybe Bon would go back to surveying or maybe he would buy more land and farm.  Right now, all that mattered was that he was home with his family.  He felt whole and alive again.  He would watch his children grow-maybe more children would come along.  He would visit with his family, go to church on Sundays, work the fields until he thought he could work no more.
There would be laughter, and joy, challenges and obstacles, but he and Margaret would face them together. He would write letters to his family in Georgia, maybe visit in the fall.
A soft breeze enveloped Bon and Margaret as they sat on their front steps that night.  For the first time in years, there was hope in their hearts.  For many years, the pain and suffering of the war would linger, but they were survivors-proud and determined.  Their love and courage would live on for many years.
Even their grandchildren’s great grandchildren would hear their story and read the letters that Bon wrote to Margaret, and later to his son, Elisha.  Bon Moore’s story is one of hardship and  hope.  His story was repeated a million times as southerners and northerners alike tried to reclaim their lives after the war.  We are here today to tell of their victory over circumstances. Their story is our story.  We hold onto their voices of the past and preserve them reverently for those yet to come.

My grandfather told me that as long as someone remembers a person, they continue to live.  With love and admiration, we pass these stories, the dreams and sorrows of those that came before us onto each new generation.  Through the words and deeds of those would forged the paths that we now walk on, we find our paths to be smoother, our place in life secured.
This story is dedicated to all of the generations of my family that I have herd stories about, researched and have grown to know and love.  You will continue to live in all  of our hearts, never to be forgotten.

Brenda Culbreth Lewis
May 13, 1999

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In the days of long Ago

One day, we gather around the fire,
Eat and sip warm drinks
in thanks for all we have.

The next day, as if to purge ourselves
of any of  the warmth of hearth and home.
We awake before dawn.

We rush into the lines of traffic,
the masses of souls pushing  each other.
Complain and wait to stroke our credit cards.

Merry Christmas, Happy Chanukah!
The bells and the red kettles beside
smiling, shivering volunteers.

I miss the days my grandma remembered.
Hunting a tree in the pasture,
A stocking with fruit and candy,

Eight candles in the night.
Thinking of why we have so much.
Hoping our children remember that one day.

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The Grinch Who (almost) Stole Thanksgiving

12  The Grinch who Stole Thanksgiving

It is Thanksgiving day-again. I have come to hate the holidays (hell-a-days) as I have often been caught calling them.  I cook till my back is throbbing, my grown kids do too. We  rush in, eat an early lunch because, invariably, someone has to go to work, or there are other families that want to share the day with them.  Sometimes, married kids who have out of state in-laws will have” their turn” this year. My dad, widower, had another invitation, and I encouraged him to go.

The Grinch in me creeps in. My best friend of 35 years died of cancer on Thanksgiving Day 2004,  I lost my healthy teenaged son six years ago, I lost my health from the stress of his sudden loss, and still struggle with those limitations.  I lost my mom nearly two years ago. I have lost two cousins to cancer since late August. I have a long list of reasons to be the Thanksgiving Grinch.

Still, as everyone reminds me, I have a lot to be thankful for.  I have five other children, four grandchildren and two on the way. They all live nearby and I see them often. Despite my health problems and family issues, I am still able to cook, to keep up the family business, and to baby-sit my grandkids now and then. I am often caught  having  fun with my teenaged son and his friends. I am even caught laughing or smiling now and then.

As we rushed through the Thanksgiving meal today, and I was putting away food, my husband came in. He asked me if our next door neighbor, a widow, had gone to her daughters home for the day. As I filled smaller dishes with leftovers, I admitted that I didn’t know.  We take our neighbor her mail and paper every day and take her trash cans up and down on trash day. I rejuvenated the overgrown flower garden her husband used to care for so deeply, back in the summer.  We often sit and visit with her, just as our families have done for generations. She is like a second mother to me. We have been neighbors, more like family, for our whole lives.

As my husband and I talked, I quickly, I got on the phone and called her. After several rings, I imagined she was with her family. Then, she breathlessly answered the phone. I could imagine her struggling to the phone on her walker.

“Hi!” I greeted her.

She returned the greeting with a cheerful voice that made me smile.

“We were wondering if you had already had some Thanksgiving Dinner?” I asked.

“”No, I was just sitting here,” she replied sadly. “I’m alright, I have food.”

“ No Thanksgiving meal? Well, don’t eat anything!” I fussed, “We will be right over with a plate for you.”

“Oh, you don’t have to do that…” She started.  But I stopped her and said, “We will be right over.” and hung up the phone.

Her house is right next door to our house and I mean a matter of yards, not blocks.  Within five minutes, my daughter and I arrived at her door with four plates of food.,  ham, turkey, dressing gravy, rolls, vegetables, cranberry sauce and desserts. She was sitting on her walker-chair at her back door when we got there.

My daughter turned and grinned at me as we opened her screen door.

“Happy Thanksgiving”, my daughter said, as our neighbors eyes filled up with tears. (My eyes fighting tears as well.

She invited us in and we unloaded the plates of food on her counter.  She told us how her daughter was sick and they had made no plans for the day. We stayed and talked a few minutes, all of us fighting tears. Suddenly, I realized, we were laughing and smiling, telling each other what a blessing it was to have people who loved you.

After a few minutes, we left her to enjoy her food and returned to my house next door. When my husband, son and grandson found out she was spending the day alone, they too, went over and spent a little time with her.

I don’t think there was a dry eye in my house when they returned.  I looked around at the crowd of people, the driveway full of cars and realized something that I had never really thought about before.  Being thankful isn’t about what we have-it is about what we have that we can give to others.

I watched as my children packed up their kids and cars and half empty bowls of food and I thought of all the other people like my neighbor, who would, indeed, spend the holiday alone.  It is easy to bury ourselves in our own grief and stress. Within the sorrow, loneliness, anger and pain of the past few years of my life, I had forgotten how to appreciate what I still had.

The Grinch’s heart (my own) grew two sizes today. Happy Thanksgiving! Happy Thanksgiving to all!

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The Silence was Deafening

I took my two teens to see “Lincoln“, the new Steven Speilberg movie today and I would highly recommend it to anyone who loves history and appreciates a well made and researched movie.  I had an experience there that I had never had at a movie theater.  When the movie ended, and the list of actors came up with the movie theme in the background, the entire audience, sat quietly and watched and listened.  The silence was deafening.  Always before, the minute the movie ended, the theater has been filled with noise and chatter, people quickly leaving their seats and going home. Everyone there seems to be spellbound by the impact of the movie.  It was quite impressive!

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Parent Heart Watch-How to Help Save the Life of a Young Athlete


My son, age 15

Knowledge and prompt response are the keys to saving anyone with sudden heart arrest.

Parent Heart Watch is a wonderful organization dedicated to preventing the death of young athletes (and youth in general) from Sudden Cardiac Arrest.  I became aware of them after the death of my teenaged son, who died while playing baseball in 2006.  As I searched for a reason why a healthy, active child could die without warning, I found this group and have since supported them.  I ask all of you to do the same. Their website is :  Their phone number is 1-800-717-5828.

I recently became part of a fund raiser “Register to Relax” where supporters simply donate to the organization and encourage others to do so.  It is an on-going fund raiser. Since I get their regular e-mail bulletins, I heard about another campaign to raise awareness of this life or death issue.

I contacted Parent Heart Watch after they informed me of a campaign to give out magnets with information on how to detect symptoms of possible heart failure and steps that could be taken to prevent it.  They sent me 100 magnets, which I hope to give out at schools, churches, and in my neighborhood, along with a letter about what happened to my son. I hope to help them raise money to further their cause and keep other families from going through what our family has endured.

Yesterday, my middle-school student came home and told me that volunteers from a local hospital supported  by Parent Heart Watch had come to his school and given a short (but important) course in CPR/chest compression techniques that anyone could use while waiting on help to arrive.  They told the children how to watch for signs of possible heart issues in their friends. I am proud to support this organization and know that is working across the country to stop these horrific losses.

I can’t help but think that my son would be alive today if I, (or someone there)
had known the information that Parent Heart Watch seeks to teach. Even the information on the tablet-sized magnet could save a life. Parent Heart Watch encourages early detection of possible heart issues and early defibrillation of apparent heart related emergencies.

This is our story. Our son had hit  a great double and  made a steal to 3rd base in the previous inning, but the next player had made the last out of the 6th inning. Our son
had gone to his position in  right field  as the other pitcher and catcher practiced for the last inning. I later heard he had told a team mate after the 6th inning that he didn’t feel good. But, my son’s motto was “What don’t kill ya will make ya stronger,”  He went out for the last inning anyway. That statement has haunted me,

Someone. saw my son grab his head and said, “Is he hurt?”  I looked up and saw him running to me. I began running to meet him.   A few feet from me, he threw up his hands, as if to catch himself, and fell, apparently loosing consciousness. I later found out that his best friend, who was playing second base, had asked him what was wrong, and my son turned to him quickly and said, “I don’t feel good, I’m gonna have to go in”. That was the last thing he said.

It seems that no one on the field knew what to do, even a “nurse” who ran up to us  didn’t immediately recognize that this was a heart issue.  The ambulance, dispatched from a station within sight of the ball field, took a long back road, trying to get the ambulance closer to the field. To my knowledge, the 911 operator didn’t stay on the phone with the parent who made the call. I have seen a lot of kids collapse on ball fields/courts, but have never seen one die, as my son did.  The coaches and parents were most likely in the same category as I was.

I will add that once the ambulance arrived on the scene they worked diligently to save my son. I saw them trying to defibrillate him front the passenger seat of the ambulance.  The emergency room doctors worked on him over an hour.  A chaplain stayed  with us and brought reports from the doctors. The problem was, that time is everything in the case of sudden heart arrest, and it was too late for my son when help arrived.  I had taken CPR many years before, but had no idea that my son  was in arrest.  When he was obviously unresponsive, I am not sure why the “nurse” didn’t think of the possibility of heart issue.
I must continue stressing the importance of early  response in the case of any heart issue. On Parent Heart Watch’s magnet, it lists things you can do to properly respond to cardiac emergencies.  They stress that we must know how to respond to “SCA” (Sudden Cardiac Arrest), which means that a person has collapsed and is unresponsive. Below is a list of symptoms and responses.

(1) The person may have seizure-like activity or gasping and gurgling. (My son developed a “snore-like gurgling as he struggled to breath). This should be recognized a  cardiac emergency.

(2) Always call 911 immediately.

(2) Begin CPR manually immediately. (I have learned that even cardiac compressions to the tune and rhythm of the Bee Gee’s song “Stayin’ Alive” will work in many cases.)

(4) Having a portable defibrillator on site is vital-use it immediately if the symptoms of a cardiac emergency are noted.

My son was 15 years old when he was talked into playing baseball on a league based on groups of friends from different communities in our area.  He had played baseball and basketball for years, but had tired of organized and school related ball and hadn’t played in about a year. Though he had been given “sports physicals” in previous years, he had not planned on playing for school and he asked to wait to have a physical. I agreed.  He was very healthy, rarely getting sick enough to stay out of school.  He used to joke with me about wanting to stay home, Smiling at me and saying, “Can I be absent?”

At the time of my sons death, even national organizations such as the Little League and the YMCA did not require physicals.  They simply had a parent sign a paper that said they knew of no health issue that would keep their child from participating. Even the schools, who did require a “sports physical” did not require an Echocardiogram, which is the only certain way to note heart issues. I do not know if these rules have changed.

After his death, the autopsy revealed my son  had a bicuspid valve, which is relatively common and rarely causes problems until middle age, and may never warrant anything but precautions if one is not athletic. His official cause of death was “viral myocarditis”, which, as the medical examiner explained to mean meant that “an unidentified cold virus got into his heart” and caused the infection which lead to heart failure.

The medical examiner said the bicuspid valve probably didn’t directly cause his death.  People sometimes get virus  and recover within a short time, thinking that perhaps, they had the “flu,“ My cousin had the same condition, but was saved when he had symptoms of bronchitis and an alert emergency room physician noticed his symptoms and was able to get his heart back in rhythm with a defibrillator.  My cousin  also had a bicuspid valve, and though he was in his 50’s at the time, it had never been detected.

The point here is that my son most likely would not have been playing ball if we had known about the bicuspid valve. If he had been allowed to play, we should have been aware of the “Warning Signs and Symptoms of a Heart Condition” as outlined by Parent Heart Watch.

These symptoms are :
(1) Fainting, or seizure during or after physical activity, emotional excitement, distress or startle.
(2) Unusual shortness of breath ,fatigue or tiredness (our son did seem tired, but most teens do not get enough sleep and that, alone, would not alarm us if it wasn’t a lengthy, noticeable tiredness, possibly with the teen saying that they “feel tired all of the time.”)

(3) Chest pain or discomfort or racing heart.

(4) Dizziness during or after physical activity.

Only a year before, a  local 23 year old school teacher that we knew had died in his sleep of “viral myocarditis” after having symptoms of pain in his back and chest the day before. He though he may be getting sick, but had no idea or symptom that caused immediate alarm. To emphasize how common hear issues are in athletic young people, the nephew of my sister-in-law died a day after collapsing on the first during football practice.  He was a 22 year old college senior.

Sudden Cardiac Arrest in youth is not the “one in a million” event that people like to believe it is. It is estimated that around two or three teenagers in every mid-sized high  school have some sort of heart issue which at least should be detected and the parents be made aware of.  Even if heart issues were a “one-in-a-million” crisis, if that one is your one, that is the only one that matters.

Therein becomes the importance of Parent Heart Watch’s other goal-Early Detection of heart issues.

Sometimes, as with our son, there were no early symptoms.  Thus, the importance of early detection of possible problems. The most important test for early detection of possible heart issues is for every teen athlete (possibly every teen period) to get an Echocardiogram, which would show heart abnormalities, such as bicuspid valves, “holes” or weaknesses in the heart muscle, mitral valve prolapse (heart murmur) or other issues.

Please, take the time to learn these symptoms and procedures, whether you are a young student or a retiree.  They  may help save a life. Please support Parent Heart Watch in its efforts to educate the public on this critical issues. Loosing a child has devastated my life, and damaged so many more.  Every day, I think of who my son might have become and of how much he is loved and missed.  You can stop another child from dying.  You can keep another family from going through this hell.  Maybe, in your case, “What don’t kill
ya really will make you strong.  Contact Parent Heart Watch today and get involved!

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I would like to reblog an article I wrote previously about an organization that helps save the lives of young athletes. How do I do this?

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Parent Heart Watch-Help Save the Life of a Young Athlete

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The Button Jar

The veneer on the blonde wood dresser drawer was peeling off. Opening it, knowing it would be the last time, was so hard. I’d be putting  my mom’s precious memories in some box in my attic now..

I opened the drawer slowly, holding my breath. Scarves, gloves, fancy handkerchiefs-and then I saw it, her button jar.  I remembered my grandma’s button jars,  in the drawer of her foot pedaled sewing machine.  My own button jar was rarely used.  My daughter’s didn’t have one, it was passe’-out dated-no more.

Memories-mom looking for that perfect button. A tear caught up with my smile.

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Leather and Lace Fleetwood Mac

Back in the day, this was “our song…”

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