A Mother’s Love Is Forever

A story for my son, the true joy of my heart

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Dear Matthew,

Because of you, I have been blessed with the greatest gift of all – to be your mother.

I’m so proud of you, and the man you’ve become. You’re exactly how I envisioned you’d be: tall, handsome, funny, and talented. I had no idea you’d be into cars like you are, but it’s no surprise. As a kid you always enjoyed mastering a complicated transformer or fixing things.

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Society makes people feel like we shouldn’t talk about previous relationships, but I’m going to break that rule. Everyone has a past. If a person’s wed before (regardless of divorcing), he/she obviously loved their spouse once upon a time.

I think it’s sentimental for kids to know how their life’s story began.

I graduated from high school in May 1992. On July 4th, I returned home from a Future Business Leaders of America (FBLA) Shorthand II US-wide competition held in Chicago, IL. My parents convinced me to join them at an Independence Day celebration in Hollywood. I noticed your dad and his youngest brother, Brian, hanging out at the party and thought they were cute. So I asked my step-father if I could ‘hold a beer’ so I’d look older. I didn’t plan on drinking the beer (I hate beer), but I wanted to ‘appear’ mature.   Reluctantly my step-father said okay. I walked to the cooler and grabbed an ice cold can of Bud Light. I paraded around holding my beer, talking to family, trying to act wise beyond my years. It seemed to be working.

About an hour into the event, I sat on the porch steps petting the owner’s dog. Your dad came over and started petting the dog with me and began a light conversation. As he went to sit down next to me he politely moved my beer to the lowest step. “WOW, your beer is REALLY WARM, and it’s full. What’s up with that,” he said. Uhhhh…I felt so stupid. The gig was up and I was busted. I played it off saying I didn’t prefer that kind of beer… as if I was a beer-drinking professional. I also neglected to mention I wouldn’t be 18 years old for another month, knowing your dad looked to be at least in his early-20’s.

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He ended up introducing me to his yorkie, Maxwell. He was the cutest little guy ever. After dating for a few months your dad told me he used to screen all of his dates on how they treated his little dog. Hilarious.  I passed!

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In April 1994, I found out I was pregnant with you. I kept the secret to myself for a few days.  I had a miscarriage before you and I was afraid I might lose you too.  When I told your dad he was overjoyed and we couldn’t wait to meet you!

During the first sonogram my heart burst with so much emotion! There you were, my little peanut. The technician zoomed in and I could clearly see your tiny hands and feet wiggling around. Your dad just stood there in ‘awe.’ It was the neatest thing I had ever seen. Then we got to hear your heartbeat for the very first time. Your heart sounded vibrant and strong.

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May 18, 1994: My first sonogram of you.

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My intuition immediately told me I was having a boy, and then I realized something… If I had a boy, he’d be the first child in that generation on your dad’s side to carry on the family name.

Four and a half months into the pregnancy, I felt you kick for the first time. It was incredible! After that you kicked me nonstop until the day you were born. Then it was like, “Ok, dude, you can chill out now.” I had conversations with you all the time. I wanted you to know how much I loved you even before you were born.

During the second sonogram you were a total circus act. You put on a show for the entire staff. You flipped around, kicked, and moved your head and neck around as if you had just drunk a Red Bull. Your dad and I laughed nonstop. Technology wasn’t that great back then, so the doctors couldn’t tell me the gender of the baby. But in my heart I still knew I was having a boy.

Whatever I ate or drank, you reacted accordingly. One time your dad made tacos for dinner. He was on the phone with his mom while I was eating when we observed you doing somersaults. Your dad burst out laughing as he told his mom, “WOW! The baby’s moving around like an alien creature right now!” I used to sit my plate of food on top of my belly as if it were a little shelf.

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YOU STARVED ME TO DEATH! Every day felt as if I hadn’t eaten for a month. I had a schedule: peanut butter and jelly sandwich at 10 a.m., followed by a Food Lion meal of fried chicken, macaroni and cheese, and green beans at noon. You had me eating myself into a food coma. No joke.

At six months pregnant, many people thought I was already due because I was HUGE… and I waddled.

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Fashion for pregnant women of the 90’s was horrendous as you can see.  Everything was drapey, too colorful, and ugly.  This is a picture of me at my baby shower. I rocked my ‘Baby Love’ shirt.  Don’t you agree?

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When I was seven months pregnant, Maxwell was diagnosed with terminal cancer and we had to put him to sleep. It broke my heart, and it was the first time I ever saw your dad cry. The family was afraid I’d go into premature labor.  Your dad and I just couldn’t handle it so Mommom and Poppop stepped in. Mommom held Max in her arms at the animal hospital until the very end. She has always been a kind, loving and nurturing soul as you know.  Thank God for her.

I wanted to name you Brett. Your dad refused, saying he’d never name his child after something that sounded like a hair-clip. Haha. One night Nana was reading biblical names out loud to us to see if we liked any of them. We liked plenty but none of them felt ‘perfect’ until she said, “How about Matthew?” We looked at each other and in that moment your name had been chosen. Your name means “Gift from God.”  We said we’d never nickname you “Matt.”  Ummm…. I’m not sure what happened with that. LOL!

I remember the day you were born as if it were yesterday. It was dinnertime, around 7 p.m., and I had just sat down on the couch to eat a cheeseburger and fries. Halfway through the meal you let me know you had enough. You were running out of ‘womb’… LMAO. I looked at your dad and said, “It’s time!” At 20 years old, I was absolutely petrified. TWELVE HOURS later, you made your entrance as you pissed on everyone in the labor room, literally. Doctors and nurses were too busy ducking, trying to dodge the urine stream flying across the room to answer my cry of, “IS IT A BOY or GIRL?!” It was hilarious and your dad was cracking up!  I had no idea what was going on at the time. But then the humor paused. Your dad came to my bedside holding you in his arms and said, “Missy, {pause}… it’s a boy,” as a tear rolled down his cheek. I began to cry too because I felt so blessed to have you.

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A few weeks after we took you home

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Your Godmother, Aunt Laura, babysat you for the first nine months of your life, and she was wonderful. Your dad drove you to daycare, and I picked you up.  Aunt Laura’s house was 30 minutes one way, but she was worth it.  You loved spending time with her and her family on the farm.

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You’ve been blessed to have a big extended family that adores you, especially your grandparents. You are loved by many!

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Your dad and I took you to Virginia Beach when you were two years old to see the Atlantic ocean for the first time.

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You were a little junk collector. I’d take you into Walmart and you’d come out with a small handful of nuts, bolts, paper clips, and any other trinkets you found on the floor. You made little robots or gadgets out of the mess.

Not all moments of motherhood are beautiful, and there were several times I panicked when a crisis occurred. However, the scariest time as a mother had been when you were two years old. It was a Saturday and your dad was working at a construction site that day. We were invited to a pool party down the street at Bill and Madeline’s house. We arrived then walked to the poolside and stood there waving to everyone. For a second I let go of your hand. Within a flash I looked down to my right and suddenly you were gone. It’s a paranoid feeling that only a parent can understand. My heart pounded out of my chest as if I could hear it beating inside my head. No one was swimming yet so the water’s surface looked clear. I frantically glanced around and that’s when I noticed a small figure at the bottom of the 8 ft. pool. My heart sunk and there was no time to think! I jumped in feet first with full force. As soon as my feet hit the bottom of the pool’s floor, I wrapped both of my hands tightly around your waist then firmly sprung up to the surface. By that time everyone knew what was going on. Someone grabbed you out of the water. A million thoughts ran through my mind within a few seconds. “Is he going to die?!” “Will he be brain dead if he does survive?” I can’t even remember who did CPR, or anyone who surrounded me. It was like I had tunnel vision. It didn’t feel real. After you coughed up all the water, you cried in my arms. I sobbed uncontrollably. We went back home and I called your dad.  Mentally, I was a mess and I watched you like a hawk to ensure you didn’t fall asleep anytime soon. If you had left my life that day my world would have been shattered.

Okay, back to happy thoughts…. You were never a picky eater, and your favorite meal was fried hot dogs and eggs, and burgers/fries from McDonald’s. You were infatuated with happy meal toys and Nana made sure you owned a toy box filled with them.  She took you out to eat all the time and you adored her.  Every Saturday, Nana and I took you to yard sales.  We found great toys, and of course we always ate lunch out.

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Mommom and Poppop A. always showed you a good time.  Mommom cooked for you, and took you on mini adventures — like the pumpkin patch in the fall to pick out your favorite pumpkin.  Poppop used to push you in the swing in their backyard.  You loved, and still love, the country life and spending time with them.

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Prep N Play Preschool was your happy place. Your best friend was Jeremy, and you two were always together – like peas and carrots.  That’s my old Ford Taurus… Yuck.

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You weren’t athletic by choice. You showed zero interest when your dad signed you up for little league baseball. I watched and chuckled as you sat on the ground in the outfield playing with the grass. You didn’t care about catching the ball whatsoever.

When you were three years old your dad and I separated. Although we didn’t work out, YOU will always be the greatest treasure between us. Your dad was my first adult relationship, and we were together for seven years. He taught me a lot about life, and for that I am incredibly thankful. Your dad, Bitsy (step-mom), and I successfully co-parented throughout your school years, I’m proud to say.

After Prep N Play, we moved you to Ms. Debbie’s daycare. She was like a second mom to you. You loved going to her house and she treated you like gold.  Also, her cooking was phenomenal.  You loved her fried chicken and sweet treats.

As an elementary child you loved The Land Before Time. You used to call leaves ‘tree stars’ because of this movie (below).  You’d say to me, “Mommy, look!  It’s a bunch of tree stars!”  So adorable.  Here is that scene:

We both loved The Lion King. The video below was our favorite scene.  We impersonated these crazy creatures over and over again, and then we’d laugh hysterically at each other.  HAHA

Your favorite movie of all time was Toy Story. You loved Buzz Lightyear and Woody. You owned every Toy Story figurine, even the green aliens in the claw machine.

You have always had a pure, kind heart. As a child you used to bring over your neighborhood friends whose families struggled with poverty. You whispered in my ear, “Mommy, my friends said they haven’t eaten yet today and they’re thirsty.” We fed them. Your kindheartedness almost led us to feeding an entire village. LOL. We did the best we could.

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As you grew older, I saw a ‘mini-me’ emerging. It made me smile.  You’re so much like me in your computer/corky/funny ways.  I see my own blue eyes when I look at yours. But you look a lot like your dad too. Mommom always said, “There’s no question that’s David’s boy!” …. then she’d laugh.

You and I blasted songs in the car and screamed out the lyrics together.

“ALL STAR” by Smashmouth was your favorite song- You chanted every single word out, and you loved Shrek.

You also loved “I’m Blue” by Eiffel 65 – da ba dee da ba daa / Da ba dee da ba daa, da ba dee da ba daa, da ba dee da ba daa  (Shoot me now! How annoying, right?)  I’m betting you’ll scroll right past this whacked out music video because you don’t want to hear these horrendous ‘repeating’ lyrics.  It’s the type of song that stays in your brain for eternity. Go ahead. I dare you to listen to it. 🙂

Our taste in music has definitely changed over the years (thank gosh) but we still enjoy a wide variety of music together. We liked listening to Coldplay.  Remember ‘Clocks?’  Youuuuu….. Areeeeee…….

We both want to be the ‘deejay’ in the car.  I convince you to listen to new songs that I like, and then you’d do the same.  I pity the fools who ride in a car with us together.

I’ve always been protective over you. I think I’ve proven that. The saying is true: “You can pick on me but don’t you DARE pick on my kid.” I will turn into an ugly Satan creature if you mistreat my child. Haha.

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I took you to the Poconos for a vacation once.  We went because I heard nearby “Dinosaur Land” was a neat place to visit, and I thought you’d love that.  Hah! What a joke that place was.  Just a bunch of fake dinosaurs in a stupid park, and that was it.  Well, of course the dinosaurs were ‘fake.’  LOL!

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We went to Orlando when you were seven years old.  I don’t know how I did it on the salary I was earning at that time but I somehow pulled it off.  I bargain-shopped every theme park ticket price, hotel, and I wore a backpack with a built-in cooler filled with our many snacks and drinks.  We went to Disney World, MGM Studios, Sea World, and Medieval Times dinner theater. The full version of this video is at the end of this blog (you petting the dolphins, Shamu, etc.)

Yup. I just went there.  I included a photo of you eagerly awaiting Mickey Mouse’s signature.  You look pretty pumped up about it too.  I’m just sayin’

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Christmastime in our townhouse. You were so excited!  This was the first home I purchased on my own and I was very proud of myself.  We had a wonderful Christmas and I loved having you wake up with me to open Santa’s many presents. (Full video of Christmas morning is available at the end of this blog)

PETS: Oh my goodness, the pets we’ve gone through. LOL.

We had two hamsters when we lived in the condo. They ended up having about 15 babies together. What a disaster that was. I separated the father from his babies because he kept trying to eat them. Gross!  We were mortified. Then the father hamster escaped from his cage and we couldn’t find him anywhere in the apartment. The next morning we spotted him jumping off the third floor balcony as if he were trying to commit suicide. We ran downstairs attempting to rescue him. Nope. He ran. He was “The one that got away.” God only knows what happened to that little guy. We gave the mommy and babies to the pet store, and I think we both felt good about that decision.

The gecko from HELL – What was his name? I think it was ‘Little Dude.’ He was a mean, violent little creature. You tried to have fun with him but he’d always bite you and hurt your feelings. One time he bit you so hard that it drew blood and you cried, so I sold him to a nice lady. Buh-bye little monster!

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The Chihuahua named Marshmellow. Thank gosh for Ms. Debbie. That dog tried to die from the moment we brought him home. I don’t know why he had so many health issues – one seizure after another. If not for Ms. Debbie nurturing him around the clock he would not have survived. Luckily he grew to be an old, happy little fellow (renamed Cuppy) with her and her other doggies.

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How about the dog you convinced me to buy for $25 at the Farmer’s Market… Ummm…. Yea….. Confession time: I’m sorry I lied when I told you he ran away.  I actually gave him to a really nice lady during the week you were with your dad and Bitsy.  I couldn’t help it.  That dog was cray-cray.

The goldfish – I saved a voicemail from you in 2011 because I thought it was hilarious. You and Leo went to the county fair when a huge thunderstorm struck.  You were determined to get that goldfish home safely even if it involved you and Leo drowning in a thunderstorm. LMAO.  You succeeded.  The goldfish died a few weeks later.

We finally lucked out with the yorkies – Daisey-Mae & Rudy. They’ve had a total of 12 puppies together. They’re 13 years old now, and we’ve been blessed to have them a part of our family.

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I’d also like to mention the dogs you grew up with at your dad and Bitsy’s house.  Jackie-girl and Jake. You loved them a lot and you took it very hard when they died.

I feel guilt ridden for some of the challenges you went through as a child.  I wish I could take those few years back and redo them but I can’t.  Just know that I love you with all my heart.

We went rollerskating several times and you were naturally good at it… And your mom was a pro.  I won a speed skating competition that night and you loved bragging about it.  “Yep! That’s my mom that just kicked your 14-year-old ass!”  Haha! By the way, that flaming shirt was your favorite. You wore it often.

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We used to sit next to each other on the couch all the time with our laptops sharing funny YouTube clips with each other. We thought Dane Cook was soooo funny.  Remember when I took you to see him in concert in DC?  🙂  Good times!

The shopping plaza played a big part of your tween/teen years. You loved hanging out with your friends, skateboarding to the store for snacks/drinks.

Do you remember that time you and your friends came home with those mannequins you pulled out of the dumpsters? We had a “mannequin’s ass” in our living room for months. That was so funny!!!  I believe you nicknamed the torso “Shelby.” LMAO.  I can barely type this out without laughing.  Yep!  That’s My Boy Right There!

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One time you came home laughing because you and friends noticed a to-go bag hanging outside the door of the Chinese restaurant after they had closed for the night. No one came for the bag so you and your friends decided to eat whatever was in the bag. HAHA. Those egg-rolls were delicious, you said!

I remember our many trips to the mall and our time spent in Hot Topic (our favorite store back then). We laughed so much in that store.  We bought funny t-shirts and always had a fun time. You were into the ‘skater’ era by then, and you were absolutely adorable.

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Here we are dancing on the Ocean City boardwalk as a violinist played My Heart Will Go On. The original sound in this video wasn’t very clear so I changed the music up.

I had no clue what a sand crab was until this moment (below).  You and Ricky had such a fun time in Ocean City that week.

I taught you all about the 80s through music and old movies so when it came time to watch Kickin’ It Old Skool, you understood all the humor. We laughed our butts off watching that movie with Lori and Sam!

I surprised you with concert tickets to see your favorite band back then, My Chemical Romance. You, Zach, and Jeremy were thrilled! You guys stood on top of the chairs screaming out every word to every song.  It was great!

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I have to admit, I like this song too!  Welcome to the Black Parade:

Heck, we took, and still take, selfies together all over the place.  Below I see we’re in the movie theater, at a relative’s house, on the porch, and in the kitchen modeling our new winter hats for our New York City trip.

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I took you out of school early when any of the Twilight Series movies premiered at the theater to avoid the huge crowds. Now THAT’S great parenting!

Remember our 1 a.m. McDonald’s run in New York Times Square?!  Yea…. We were totally freaked out by all the weirdos on the street. We hung out in the restaurant until that creepy guy stopped stalking us, then we RAN LIKE HELL back to our hotel.

The next day we ice skated together at Rockefeller Plaza.

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You and I have rolled all over the place together: Poconos, PA; Orlando, FL; Ocean City, MD many times; Washington, DC; Baltimore, MD; Rehoboth, DE; Winchester, VA; Myrtle Beach, SC; New York, NY; Key West, FL; The Bahamas; … and another trip soon to come.

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Remember your first time parasailing in Key West?  We were like free birds soaring in the sky… not a care in the world….

To see you graduate high school with Straight A’s made me so proud. I knew you could do it. Your dad and I always had faith in you.  You had the highest class average in your residential wiring program too. Yep!  That’s my boy! You look like your dad in your graduation photos.

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Look at you now… a kind and caring  adult who treats others with respect. You’re enjoying your life and having fun.  That’s all I’ve ever wanted for you — to be happy.

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I love how goofy we are together.  Here we are at Panera Bread in 2016, on Snap Chat, laughing hysterically with no regard for how loud we were being in the restaurant.  TOTAL CLASS ACT.  The funny part is that strangers were laughing at us because we were cracking up so bad in our booth.  What can I say?  We’re just f’ing hilarious even when we’re not trying to be.  I make one hell of a beautiful George Washington.  That’s all I have to say about that.

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I’m proud of how smart you are, and your willingness to learn new things about cars/engines all the time.  You never cease to amaze me.

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Through every stage in your life you’ve never made me feel like I didn’t matter to you as a mom. I know some parents go through hard times, and I’ve been fortunate in that you’ve always made me feel valued and loved.

You’re a blessing from God and I treasure every moment I spend with you.

I love you with all my heart! ❤

Your Biggest Fan,

Mom

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Full Length Video of Sea World Orlando….  Apparently I was obsessed with Sea World’s map.  I’m betting we NEVER got lost in that theme park.  HAHA.

Full Length Video of Christmas Morning, 2002:

Time Waits for Nothing

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It’s free yet it’s priceless. You can use it but you can’t borrow it. It can be your friend or your worst enemy.  You have no control over it, and you can’t move it forward or slow it down.   What is it?

It’s called TIME – a simple four-letter-word with such powerful meaning behind it.  “Time = Life.”  Time is the only unpredictable measurement that comes between the moment you’re born, and the moment you take your last breath.  But what is time to you?

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The word “time” creates an image in my mind of an Olympic athlete racing against a clock toward the finish line. Nothing matters more in that moment than time itself; every fraction of a second counts.  Another moment I envision is watching the countdown of the clock during a football game, and the opposing team is down by just a few points.  When you think about it, one could say there is no such thing as losing; they just simply ran out of time. Regardless, “time” is not only about winning or losing.  It goes far deeper than that.

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When the devastating 9/11 terrorist attacks occurred, it made the world question many things, including the meaning of time, and how invaluable it is. Typically, you wouldn’t foresee a national tragedy to have a theme song, but on how many occasions did you hear “Only Time” by Enya playing on the radio during that heartbreaking era?  Employees’ working in either trade tower that were running late that morning thought time wasn’t on their side. On the contrary, time is what saved their lives. Same goes for the passengers who missed their flights that day. Just think if only one person didn’t make it on time to their metro station stop; or if someone stopped to tie a shoelace on the sidewalk; or the coffee shop had an unusually long time that morning.  All of those examples of time could have meant the difference between life and death that day.

Time is everything when a loved one is dying. Imagine a Hospice nurse’s role in helping patients with their end-of-life care. “Time” is what they represent to grieving families. The nurse measures the patient’s pulse beat per minute.  When the time has come, the nurse peacefully says, “I’m so sorry for your loss.”  Just like that, their time on earth is done.  Life in human form is gone forever, and a permanent date and time is marked on a death certificate.

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Just as time can take away a life, it can also represent the spirit of bringing a new life into the world. Most mothers could tell you the exact time their child was born.  After nine months of anticipation, excitement, and curiosity, time is no small thing to a mother.  Many expectant mothers can’t wait for “time” to reveal their baby’s gender before it’s even born.

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The only time one person’s life and another person’s death play a role together, at the same time, is through organ donation. Organ donors make the ultimate sacrifice in saving another person’s life. Matching and compatibility are everything when it comes to saving a life.  Will the recipient receive the organ in time?  Only time will tell.

There are moments when “time” feels like an unattractive word:

  • To a coworker, “I’m sorry you didn’t get the promotion.  It just wasn’t your time.”
  • After a loved one dies, “I’m so sorry for your loss. Time makes things easier.”
  • Once a relationship ends it’s usually accompanied by, “Love takes time to heal.”
  • When a student hasn’t finished taking their exam before the teacher yells, “Time’s up!”
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Just like the old saying goes, “Time flies when you’re having fun,” it can also drag when life sucks. Prisoners and insomniacs probably know this better than anyone.  For insomniacs, it’s unbearable to watch minutes tick by while you’re lying there wide awake.  Waiting on medical results is a time-dragging experience as well.  Also, chronic pain sufferers know how slow time can move. Time may not fix anything but it does teach us how to live with the pain.

Regardless of whether you use it wisely or waste it away, time keeps on ticking.  And we shouldn’t question the days we’re stuck in traffic or got up late for work.  Perhaps there is bigger meaning behind those moments saving us from a misfortune?

No one would be able to recognize good times without having bad ones.  Time is a part of where you are, what you do, and who you’re waiting for.  Until the moment we die, “time” makes us all equal in that we each get twenty-four hour days.  How we choose to spend it is what determines our future.

As Michael Altshuler said, “The bad news is time flies. The good news is you’re the pilot.”

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INSPIRATIONAL PEOPLE

…. You May Think Your Life Is Tough But Think Again ….

JESUS CHRIST, MY LORD AND SAVIOR

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6 Things Christ Accomplished by His Death

Here’s a very brief summary of the six core things Christ accomplished in his death.

  1. Expiation

Expiation means the removal of our sin and guilt. Christ’s death removes — expiates — our sin and guilt. The guilt of our sin was taken away from us and placed on Christ, who discharged it by his death.  Thus, in John 1:29, John the Baptist calls Jesus “the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.” Jesus takes away, that is, expiates, our sins. Likewise, Isaiah 53:6 says, “The Lord has caused the iniquity of us all to fall on him,” and Hebrews 9:26 says “He has been manifested to put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself.”

  1. Propitiation

Whereas expiation refers to the removal of our sins, propitiation refers to the removal of God’s wrath. By dying in our place for our sins, Christ removed the wrath of God that we justly deserved. In fact, it goes even further: propitiation is not simply a sacrifice that removes wrath, but a sacrifice that removes wrath and turns it into favor. (Note: a propitiation does not turn wrath into love — God already loved us fully, which is the reason he sent Christ to die; it turns his wrath into favor so that his love may realize its purpose of doing good to us every day, in all things, forever, without sacrificing his justice and holiness.)

Several passages speak of Christ’s death as a propitiation for our sins. Romans 3:25-26 says that God “displayed [Christ] publicly as propitiation in his blood through faith. This was to demonstrate his righteousness, because in the forbearance of God he passed over the sins previously committed; for the demonstration of his righteousness at the present time, that he might be just and the justifier of him who has faith in Jesus.”  Likewise, Hebrews 2:17 says that Christ made “propitiation for the sins of the people” and 1 John 4:10 says “in this is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.”

  1. Reconciliation

Whereas expiation refers to the removal of our sins, and propitiation refers to the removal of God’s wrath, reconciliation refers to the removal of our alienation from God.  Because of our sins, we were alienated — separated — from God. Christ’s death removed this alienation and thus reconciled us to God. We see this, for example, in Romans 5:10-11: “For if while we were enemies, we were reconciled to God through the death of his Son, much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved by his life.”

  1. Redemption

Our sins had put us in captivity from which we need to be delivered. The price that is paid to deliver someone from captivity is called a “ransom.” To say that Christ’s death accomplished redemption for us means that it accomplished deliverance from our captivity through the payment of a price.

There are three things we had to be released from: the curse of the law, the guilt of sin, and the power of sin. Christ redeemed us from each of these.

  • Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law: “Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law, having become a curse for us” (Galatians 3:13-14).
  • Christ redeemed us from the guilt of our sin. We are “justified as a gift by his grace, through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus” (Romans 3:24).
  • Christ redeemed us from the power of sin: “knowing that you were not redeemed with perishable things like silver or gold from your futile way of life inherited from your fathers, but with precious blood, as of a lamb unblemished and spotless, the blood of Christ” (1 Peter 1:18-19).

Note that we are not simply redeemed from the guilt of sin; to be redeemed from the power of sin means that our slavery to sin is broken. We are now free to live to righteousness. Our redemption from the power of sin is thus the basis of our ability to live holy lives: “You have been bought with a price; therefore glorify God in your bodies” (1 Corinthians 6:20).

  1. Defeat of the Powers of Darkness

Christ’s death was a defeat of the power of Satan. “He disarmed the rulers and authorities and put them to open shame, by triumphing over them in him” (Colossians 3:15). Satan’s only weapon that can ultimately hurt people is unforgiven sin. Christ took this weapon away from him for all who would believe, defeating him and all the powers of darkness in his death by, as the verse right before this says, “having forgiven us all our trespasses, by canceling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. This he set aside, nailing it to the cross” (Colossians 2:13-14).

  1. And he Did All of This By Dying As Our Substitute

The reality of substitution is at the heart of the atonement. Christ accomplished all of the above benefits for us by dying in our place — that is, by dying instead of us. We deserved to die, and he took our sin upon him and paid the penalty himself.   This is what it means that Christ died for us (Romans 5:8) and gave himself for us (Galatians 2:20). As Isaiah says, “he was pierced through for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities . . . the Lord has caused the iniquity of us all to fall on him” (Isaiah 53:5-6). You see the reality of substitution underlying all of the benefits discussed above, as the means by which Christ accomplished them. For example, substitution is the means by which we were ransomed: “The Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life a ransom for many” (Matthew 20:28). Christ’s death was a ransom for us — that is, instead of us. Likewise, Paul writes that “Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us” (Galatians 3:13).

Substitution is the means by which we were reconciled: “For Christ also died for sins once for all, the just for the unjust, in order that he might bring us to God” (1 Peter 3:18). It is the means of expiation: “He made him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf that we might become the righteousness of God in him” (2 Corinthians 5:21) and “He himself bore our sins in his body on the cross, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness” (1 Peter 2:24). And by dying in our place, taking the penalty for our sins upon himself, Christ’s death is also the means of propitiation.

http://www.whatsbestnext.com/2011/04/6-things-christ-accomplished-by-his-death/

 

ERYTHROMELALGIA (EM) WARRIORS 

EM Help

The pain is often times unbearable, and the suicide rate is high.

Imagine yourself living during the medieval times, and although you’re an innocent person, you’re about to be secured to a wooden post and burned alive while a crowd of people watch.  That pretty much describes the impending doom when diagnosed with EM. The only differences are EM sufferers’ burn alive on a daily basis — and we’re not tied to a stake.

EM causes severe burning pain, noticeable redness (erythema) of the skin, swelling, and increased skin temperature, particularly of the feet. However, the hands, face, ears, and limbs can also be affected.  It can affect men, women, and children of all ages and nationalities.  1 : 100,000 (subject to change).

My EM friends are some of the most amazing people I have ever known. When an EM warrior is down we all chime in to lift their spirits, letting them know we’re all in this together. Our warriors reside all over the world — USA wide, Canada, Norway, England, Scotland, Argentina, New Zealand, Italy, Sweden and France, just to name a few.

We’ll never give up.  WE NEED A CURE.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/melissa-curley-bogner/burning-for-hope_b_9618652.html

 

RACHELLE FREIDMAN, “THE PARALYZED BRIDE”

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There are very few moments that can happen in one’s life that can change everything forever. In a split second your relationships change, your job, your finances, your home, your clothes, your independence. One moment gone terribly wrong and it’s all different. On May 23, 2010, Rachelle Friedman was playfully pushed into a pool by her best friend at her bachelorette party just weeks before her wedding. She hit the bottom of the pool head first, breaking her neck and causing a severe spinal cord injury. Rachelle had to face a difficult fact. She was now paralyzed from the chest down and would be a quadriplegic for the rest of her life.

Rachelle could have easily given up on life, constantly asked why her and wondered what if? But she made the decision to move forward in her life with positivity and determination. 13 weeks after her injury she began playing adapted sports such as wheelchair rugby, hand cycling and even surfing. Within a year she had appeared on The Today Show, Headline News, MSNBC, Inside Edition and numerous news outlets both nationally and internationally to share her story of love, commitment, loyalty, and perseverance. She has been featured in Cosmopolitan magazine, In Touch magazine and as a guest on Vh1′s Couples Therapy.

Though she has remained positive, Rachelle is an advocate for a cure. She hopes to inspire you while conveying the hard realities of having a spinal cord injury. She plans on being positive as her situation is her current reality, but remains hopeful that research is headed for a cure.

Rachelle has made it her mission to spread her story in hope of inspiring others to make the most of each day they are given. “Why waste your time harping on insignificant things?” Rachelle asks. “Believe in defining your life by the positive moments and not the negative.”

Rachelle Friedman Chapman and Chris Chapman have made sure their new baby Kaylee Rae is surrounded by love. Since welcoming her via surrogate on April 26, 2015 the new parents have gotten used to life with a newborn.

http://rachellefriedman.com/my-story/

 

MICHAEL J. FOX

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Michael J. Fox’s Crusade for a Parkinson’s Cure

How the actor’s Parkinson’s diagnosis changed his life — for the better, he says.

Michael J. Fox has always been a poster boy. With his youthful good looks and intelligent charm, he rose to fame playing a sassy Republican teenage son of ex-hippie parents in the TV sitcom Family Ties. In the blockbuster Back to the Future film trilogy, he was a time traveler with perfect comedic timing. And in a later sitcom, Spin City, he made us wish all politicians were as personable as his Deputy Mayor Mike Flaherty.

In 1998, Fox became a poster boy for another reason: He went public with the news he had Parkinson’s disease diagnosed 7 years earlier when he was 30. Parkinson’s is marked by:

  • Trembling in the hands, arms, legs, jaw, and face
  • Stiffness of the body
  • Slow movements
  • Impaired balance and coordination.

The disease had become unmanageable for the actor, who until then was able to minimize his symptoms thanks to medication, surgery, and good timing. Eventually, the effort became too much.

“I needed every bit of those 7 years to say, ‘I want to be out there,'” Fox says. “But at a certain point I woke up and said, ‘What’s the risk? That people will judge you? People are already judging you about whether you wear red shoes or blue shoes. So I talk funny or shake — why should I restrict myself?'”

“You have to take your time and do what you need to do,” he says. “But when you arrive at a place where you are no longer judging it, where there’s no good or bad or right or wrong and it just is what it is, you accept it.”

Much to his amazement, so did everyone else. While Fox feared becoming a sob story for the tabloids, he was met with huge support. Overnight, the actor beloved for his ability to make people laugh came to represent the face of an incurable illness that gets worse over time.

http://www.webmd.com/parkinsons-disease/features/michael-j-fox-crusade-parkinsons

 

CHRISTOPHER REEVE

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Christopher Reeve was born September 25, 1952 in New York City. He had various stage and television roles before becoming the star of Superman and its sequels. In 1995 he became paralyzed from the neck down following a horse-riding accident. He founded the Christopher Reeve Paralysis Foundation in 1998 to promote research on spinal cord injuries. He died of cardiac arrest in 2004.

 

MARIUS DASIANU

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A 12-year-old burn victim from Romania has found hope, and a new family, in the United States.  Marius Dasianu is a remarkable youngster who has been undergoing treatment at the Shriners Hospital for Children in Los Angeles.

On a visit to the hospital’s recreation room, Marius tests his gaming skills with two new friends.  He is as energetic and active as any other youngster.

But his story is dramatic.  Marius was born in Romania and at the age of 9, lost both of his parents in a house fire.  He suffered serious burns over 75 percent of his body.  He was visited in his Romanian hospital by two American volunteers, Jessica Free and Ashley Ludlow.  The young women got their families involved and they enlisted the help of this American hospital, which provides treatment for children with orthopedic conditions and disfigurements.

Marius has had his big toes removed and grafted onto his hands to replace his fingers. Plastic surgeon Katherine Au says Marius has maintained a positive outlook, despite his injuries. “He lost all of his fingers, essentially, burned his face, lost his entire nose, and if you talk to him now, he has the most girlfriends, he was class valedictorian, he does everything.  Nothing stops him,” she said.

Marius faces many more surgeries.  His American foster mother, Lynne Woodward, says he has endured the ordeal without complaint.

“He’s the most amazing kid you’ll ever meet.  He inspires everybody wherever he goes.  He makes friends so easily.  He makes people feel comfortable.  He’s got a really amazing set of social skills,” Woodward said. “He really does.”

Marius’ older brother, Lonut, who had been living in Italy, brought Marius to America as his legal guardian. Lonut would later marry the Woodward’s daughter, Ashley, one of the young women who had found Marius in the hospital.  They are now the parents of a baby boy.

Marius’ foster father, Paul Woodward, anticipates a bright future for the boy.  “It’s going to be nice to see what the future holds, and see him grow to be a man and get married and have children of his own, and hopefully give us many grandchildren and maybe some great grandchildren if we’re around long enough,” he said.

First, though, there will be a long road to full recovery.  But Marius’ doctor and foster family say his positive attitude and buoyant spirit will help them all get through it.

http://www.voanews.com/content/young-romanian-burn-victim-gets-help-in-california-117517453/170534.html

 

NOAH GALLOWAY

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Noah Galloway (born in 1982 in Birmingham, Alabama) is an American Sergeant, personal trainer and motivational speaker. He joined the United States Army in 2001, serving in the 1st Battalion of the 502nd Infantry, 101st Airborne Division, during Operation Iraqi Freedom. In 2005, during his second tour of duty, Noah lost his left arm and left leg in an IED attack. He faced a rough recovery, and the period after his injury was wrought with alcohol abuse and smoking. He has since turned his life around and now works as a popular public speaker. Galloway has also appeared on the cover of Men’s Health magazine. He competed on season 20 of Dancing with the Stars.

http://hollywoodlife.com/celeb/noah-galloway/

 

LAUREN HILL

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Lauren Hill, the college basketball player whose cancer battle captured the country’s attention and raised millions of dollars to fight the disease, died at the age of 19.

Hill was diagnosed with terminal cancer during her senior year of high school. In the fall doctors told her that she had just months to live — the inoperable tumor on her brain growing with each passing day — but she beat those odds, playing in the season-opener for Mount St. Joseph’s and earning a spot on the Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference’s first team.

But it wasn’t her play that earned her accolades, it was her fight. Hill dedicated herself to raising money to help others fight the disease that was taking her life — Diffused Intrinsic Pontine Giloma.

“Through Lauren’s fund-raising and advocacy efforts she not only became a spotlight on the lack of funding for cancer research, but she most certainly has become a beacon guiding researchers for years to come,” Brook Desserich, co-founder of The Cure Starts Now, Hill’s foundation, said on the group’s Facebook page.

A year and a half ago, Hill was just another high school student getting ready for college and decided to play basketball at Mount St. Joseph. Soccer was her favorite sport, but basketball became her selling point.

A few weeks later, she started experiencing dizziness while playing for her high school team in nearby Lawrenceburg, Indiana. Tests found the tumor. Treatment didn’t work. She knew she had less than two years left.

“She’s made an impact on the world, more so than me — more than I ever will do,” Dan Benjamin, her coach, told The Associated Press. “I’ve gotten so many emails and phone calls from all over the world. People are contacting me because they want to share her story.”

http://www.nydailynews.com/sports/college/inspirational-college-basketball-player-lauren-hill-dies-article-1.2180367

 

CHRIS TOMLINSON

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Chris Tomlinson, a 28-year-old homeless burn victim, inspired people by his experience.  When he was nearly 2 years old, Tomlinson slipped out from a swing in his Florida backyard and ventured to the shed when his mother wasn’t looking. He dumped gasoline on himself and after the pilot light on the heater ignited, it set the little boy on fire. His mother rescued him from the shed and doctors gave him a 1 percent chance of surviving the night.

The candid survivor shared the horrific details of how he was burned on more than 98 percent of his body when he was a toddler and how he’s continued to fight the bevy of obstacles he’s faced since, as he believes he looks like a monster now.

 

KAITLYN DOBROW

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It’s been so long since Kaitlyn Dobrow went anywhere in her wheelchair that the battery on her family’s ramp-equipped van died recently from lack of use.

Three years after bacterial meningitis led to the amputation of all four of her limbs, Dobrow has fully adjusted to the prosthetic legs she wears from morning to night. She’s still mastering her prosthetic arms, after receiving the left one only a month ago.

“With the legs, I can do anything now,” she said. “I can go into my friends’ houses instead of saying, ‘Do you have a ramp? I’m in a wheelchair.’ It’s just so much easier. My legs get a little achy but it’s nothing that hinders me. Before I’d wear them for an hour and they’d start hurting.”

With her arms, Dobrow has swept the floor, folded laundry, doodled and fed herself. She’s now working on conquering the fears that stand between her and greater self-sufficiency, including climbing the stairs in her two-story Huntington Beach house and attending cosmetology school.

“God told me 2016 is going to be my year,” she said. “I’m excited but nervous to actually get my life started. I’ve been so coddled for years and so taken care of. Now I have to start doing it on my own.”

Her mother, Kathi Dobrow, helps her dress and bathe but hopes eventually she can get waterproof limbs.

“What I am anxious for is for Katie to start working on getting independent from me,” Kathi Dobrow said. “I’m 60 and I want to have the confidence she’ll be OK when I get too old to take care of her. She needs to figure out how she will support herself and what she wants to do school- and career-wise.”

In February 2013, Dobrow nearly died after contracting bacterial meningitis. The infection caused her blood to clot, stopping it from reaching more than half of her skin and soft tissues. The resulting damage was the equivalent of third-degree burns.

She spent six months in the intensive care unit at UCI Medical Center; underwent more than 20 surgeries, including skin grafts; and then stayed two months in a rehabilitation hospital.

Candy Cooper, a UCI nurse who cared for Kaitlyn Dobrow, said she was overjoyed when she walked into the burn unit to visit, calling her recovery “nothing short of a miracle.”

“It’s not just her physical progress but her mental progress,” Cooper said. “Things like this change you. You get a different introspective on your life than you normally would have. It forces you to look deep in your soul, at what people mean to you, and how strong you really are.”

Inner peace

Kaitlyn Dobrow said her illness transformed her inner self as much as her outer self. She used to believe she would die young. She partied and put off planning for her future. Her own insecurities made her defensive and short-tempered with others, she said.

She said she experienced God’s love for her in the hospital and dedicated her life to Christ. She spends much of her free time now at church and Bible study.

She felt terrified in the hospital as she lost skin and limbs but said she fully experienced peace, leaving her compelled to share with others Jesus’ words from John 14:27: “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.”

“I don’t feel that sense of doom anymore,” she said. “I want to live.”

Kaitlyn Dobrow said her older brother told her how much she’s changed during a road trip to Las Vegas.

“He was like telling me, ‘Before, you were so mean and there was nothing wrong with you. You had your arms and you were mean,’” she recalled. “‘Now you’re just a torso and you’re so nice.’”

Adapting to her limbs

Her greatest frustration is mastering her arms, which weigh about 10 pounds each and must be strapped across her chest and back.

“The arms irritate me the most,” she said. “It’s more mental. I remember my old occupational therapist said, ‘If you get frustrated, it just gets harder. Your muscles tense. You just have to take a break.’”

She’s able to write in big letters using her right prosthetic.

“It’s kind of adorable. It’s not as bad as a kindergartner. You can read it,” she said. “My main thing before was doodling. I got the desire to pick up a pencil and scribble a heart. I missed that so much.”

As for her prosthetic legs, Kaitlyn Dobrow has embraced how sleek and stylish she looks and is eager to get running legs so she can push herself more.

“You feel like you could fall at any moment,” she said of wearing prosthetics. “You don’t have any ankles or even toes to help hold you up. You kind of feel like a daredevil. In a way, it’s fun.”

The pink blotchy scars on her face from the clotting and lack of blood flow to her tissues have become less noticeable.

“God said that shows you’re a warrior, don’t try to hide them. I’m getting kind of upset that they’re fading. I think they look pretty cool.”

http://www.ocregister.com/articles/dobrow-703454-kaitlyn-legs.html

https://www.facebook.com/kaitlyndobrow

 

TURIA PITT

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Australian ex-model Turia Pitt suffered burns to 65% of her body, lost her fingers and thumb on her right hand and spent 5 months in the hospital after she was trapped by a grassfire.  Her husband quit his job to care for her recovery.  In an interview for CNN, they asked him: “Did you at any moment think about leaving her and hiring someone to take care of her and moving on with your life?”  His reply touched the world, “I married her soul, her character, and she’s the only woman that will continue to fulfill my dreams.”

 

LAUREN KAVANAUGH

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The Girl in the Closet: Lauren Kavanaugh Was Held Prisoner for 6 Years, Until Her Rescue in 2001

This is one of the most horrific cases of abuse that we have ever heard in our entire lives. We can’t even begin to comprehend how anyone could do something like this to another human being, let alone an innocent child.

When Lauren Kavanaugh was taken away from her loving, adoptive parents, she was immediately returned to her biological mother and father, Barbara and Kenny Atkinson.

From that moment on, her life became a dark, living hell. For the next six years, she would be neglected, tortured, starved, beaten and raped.

The evil couple forced her to live in a tiny, filthy 4ft by 9ft wardrobe closet from the ages of three until she was eight-years-old.

“From then on, it became my new home,” she said. “The carpet was drenched in urine, and I lay under a thin, wet blanket.”

Surprisingly, her siblings were never abused.

“Sometimes I could hear them laughing and playing outside,” she explained. “I was weak from hunger and was tied down so I couldn’t fight back.”

Police were finally alerted about her conditions when Lauren’s father tried showing her off to a horror-struck neighbor.

By the time she was pulled from the closet by authorities, her ribs stuck out and she only weighed 25 pounds, the same as an average two-year-old.

Lauren went on to be re-adopted by the Kavanaugh family. She now lives in Athens, Texas, and hopes she can one day help abuse victims like herself.

“My dream now is to qualify as a counselor,” she said. “I really want to help victims like me to overcome their abuse and be strong. I’ve been in their shoes and come out the other side.”

Her mother later confessed that she was trying to forget that her daughter even existed. She often referred to Lauren as “it” or “the girl” but never by name.

“It was the problem. It was what was causing everything,” she was quoted saying in The Dallas Morning News. “Out of sight, out of mind. I shut it away and don’t think of it. … I couldn’t stop her being in the closet.”

In 2002, her birth parents were convicted of felony injury to a child and sentenced to life in prison. They will not be eligible for parole until 2031.

It may be difficult to get through stories like this, but we’re happy to know that her parents were brought to justice for their atrocities.

http://firsttoknow.com/the-girl-in-the-closet-lauren-kavanaugh-was-held-prisoner-for-6-years-until-her-rescue-in-2001/

 

RANDY PAUSCH, “THE LAST LECTURE”

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Randolph Frederick “Randy” Pausch (October 23, 1960 – July 25, 2008) was an American professor of computer science, human-computer interaction, and design at Carnegie Mellon University. Pausch learned that he had pancreatic cancer in September 2006, and in August 2007 he was given a terminal diagnosis: “3 to 6 months of good health left”. He gave an upbeat lecture titled “The Last Lecture: Really Achieving Your Childhood Dreams” on September 18, 2007, at Carnegie Mellon, which became a popular YouTube video and led to other media appearances. He then co-authored a book called The Last Lecture on the same theme, which became a New York Times best-seller. Pausch died of complications from pancreatic cancer on July 25, 2008.

 

SAFYRE TERRY

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Schenectady, New York, Safyre, her father, 32-year-old David Terry, and her three younger siblings, three-year-old Layah, two-year-old Michael and 11-month-old Donavon, were the victims of an arson attack.  Five-year-old Safyre was the only survivor and suffered severe burns to over 75 percent of her body.  Firefighters found her next to her father who used his body in an effort to shield her from the flames.  Since then, Safyre has undergone more than 50 operations, including surgeries to remove her right hand and in March this year, her left foot. Now eight, she only had one wish this Christmas – to have enough cards to fill her tree. So far, she’s received 1.7 million letters and 25,000 packages.

 

JAYCEE LEE DUGARD

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The kidnapping of Jaycee Lee Dugard occurred on June 10, 1991, in South Lake Tahoe, California. Dugard was 11 years old at the time and was abducted from a street while she was walking from home to a school bus stop. Searches began immediately after Dugard’s disappearance, but no reliable leads were generated. Dugard later remained missing up until 2009, when a convicted sex offender, Phillip Garrido, visited the campus of UC Berkley accompanied by two girls on August 24 and 25 that same year. Their unusual behavior sparked an investigation that led Garrido’s parole officer to order him to bring the girls to a parole office on August 26, accompanied by a young woman who was successfully identified as Dugard herself. She had been imprisoned, sexually abused, tortured and gave birth to two of his daughters.

Phillip Garrido, 58, and his wife Nancy, 54, of Antioch, California, were arrested by police for kidnapping and other charges. On April 28, 2011, they pleaded guilty to Dugard’s kidnapping and sexual assault. Law enforcement officers believe Dugard was kept in a concealed area behind the Garridos’ house in Antioch for almost 18 years. During this time, Dugard bore two daughters who were ages 11 and 15 at the time of her reappearance. On June 2, 2011, Phillip Garrido was sentenced to 431 years imprisonment; his wife, Nancy, also received 36 years to life.

 

ELIZABETH SMART

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On June 2, 2002, when she was 14 years old, Smart and her family attended an end-of-year awards ceremony at her school, where she won several awards for academics and physical fitness. Early the next morning, about an hour after midnight, Smart was awakened in the bedroom she shared with her younger sister Mary Katherine by the sound of footsteps and the feeling of cold metal against her cheek. A man whispered, “I have a knife to your neck. Don’t make a sound. Get out of bed and come with me, or I will kill you and your family.” The kidnapper, a man by the name of Brian Mitchell, led Smart out of the house and marched her for hours through the forest to a camp where his wife, Wanda Barzee, was waiting.

Mitchell fancied himself a prophet named Immanuel, and after performing a bizarre wedding ceremony—he was also a polygamist—he declared Smart to be his wife and raped her. “I tried to fight him off me,” she later testified. “A 14-year-old girl against a grown man doesn’t even out so much.” Mitchell and Barzee held Smart captive for the next nine months as they moved between California and Utah. Mitchell raped Smart daily—sometimes multiple times per day—and frequently kept her tethered to a tree. He forced her to consume vast quantities of alcohol, marijuana and other drugs and often did not feed her for days—bringing Smart to the brink of starvation. All the while, Mitchell attempted to indoctrinate Smart in his bizarre religious beliefs and convince her that he was a prophet.

The night of Smart’s kidnapping, her younger sister Mary Katherine had pretended to be asleep in the other bed while silently attempting to observe her sister’s kidnapper in the dark. “I stayed in bed,” she recalled. “I was scared. I couldn’t do anything. I was just shocked, petrified. I didn’t know what to do, knowing someone had come into my bedroom and taken my sister.” After several months, it suddenly occurred to Mary Katherine that the kidnapper resembled a man who had once worked on their home as a handyman and who had called himself Immanuel. Police discovered that Immanuel was a man named Brian David Mitchell, and in February 2003 America’s Most Wanted aired his photograph. Finally, on March 12, 2003, a passerby recognized Mitchell walking with Smart—who was veiled and wearing a wig and sunglasses. Authorities arrested Mitchell and his wife and returned Smart to her family that evening.

 

 MOTHER TERESA

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Mother Teresa (26 August 1910 – 5 September 1997) also known as Blessed Teresa of Calcutta, MC, was an Albanian Roman Catholic religious sister and missionary. She was born in Skopje (modern Macedonia), then part of the Kosovo Vilayet in the Ottoman Empire. After having lived in Macedonia for some eighteen years, she moved to Ireland and then to India, where she lived for most of her life.

Mother Teresa founded the Missionaries of Charity, a Roman Catholic religious congregation, which in 2012 consisted of over 4,500 sisters and was active in 133 countries. They run hospices and homes for people with HIV/AIDS, leprosy and tuberculosis; soup kitchens; dispensaries and mobile clinics; children’s and family counseling programs; orphanages; and schools. Members must adhere to the vows of chastity, poverty, and obedience, as well as a fourth vow, to give “wholehearted free service to the poorest of the poor”.

Mother Teresa was the recipient of numerous honors, including the 1979 Nobel Peace Prize. In 2003, she was beautified as “Blessed Teresa of Calcutta”. A second miracle was credited to her intercession by Pope Francis, in December 2015, paving the way for her to be recognized as a saint by the Roman Catholic Church.

A controversial figure both during her life and after her death, Mother Teresa was widely admired by many for her charitable works. She was both praised and criticized for her pro-life views. She also received criticism for conditions in the hospices for which she was responsible. Her official biography was written by an Indian civil servant, Navin Chawla, and published in 1992.

 

DR. WAYNE DYER

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Dr. Wayne Dyer, the renowned motivational guru and author of dozens of self-help books, has died at age 75.

Dyer rose to prominence after the publication of his first book, 1976’s “Your Erroneous Zone,” became an international bestseller. That launched Dyer’s career as an author and speaker and garnered him a legion of ardent fans, who dubbed him the “father of motivation.”

His basic message was simple: Think good thoughts, and good things will surely follow.

“Take the last five minutes of your day, and put your attention on everything that you would like to attract into your life: ‘I am well. I am healed. I am in perfect health. I am abundant. I am happy.’ Say those things to yourself. Then you’ll marinate for eight hours, and you’ll awaken and you’ll begin to attract the things that are in your subconscious mind.”

Dyer’s own story is motivating in its own right: Born Michigan, he spent part of his childhood in orphanages and foster homes. He went on to earn a doctorate in educational counseling from Wayne State University and was teaching at St. John’s University in New York when the success of “Your Erroneous Zone” altered his professional course.

 

MELANIE BEATTIE

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Melody Beattie is one of America’s most beloved self-help authors and a household name in addiction and recovery circles. Her international bestselling book, Codependent No More, introduced the world to the term “codependency” in 1986. Millions of readers have trusted Melody’s words of wisdom and guidance because she knows firsthand what they’re going through. In her lifetime, she has survived abandonment, kidnapping, sexual abuse, drug and alcohol addiction, divorce, and the death of a child. “Beattie understands being overboard, which helps her throw bestselling lifelines to those still adrift,” said Time Magazine.

Melody was born in St. Paul, Minnesota in 1948. Her father left home when she was a toddler, and she was raised by her mother. She was abducted by a stranger at age four. Although she was rescued the same day, the incident set the tone for a childhood of abuse, and she was sexually abused by a neighbor throughout her youth. Her mother turned a blind eye, just as she had denied the occurrence of abuse in her own past.

“My mother was a classic codependent,” Melody recalls. “If she had a migraine, she wouldn’t take an aspirin because she didn’t do drugs. She believed in suffering.” Unlike her mother, Melody was determined to self-medicate her emotional pain. Beattie began drinking at age 12, was a full-blown alcoholic by age 13, and a junkie by 18, even as she graduated from high school with honors. She ran with a crowd called “The Minnesota Mafia” who robbed pharmacies to get drugs. After several arrests, a judge mandated that she had to “go to treatment for as long as it takes or go to jail.”

Melody continued to score drugs in treatment until a spiritual epiphany transformed her. “I was on the lawn smoking dope when the world turned this purplish color. Everything looked connected–like a Monet painting. It wasn’t a hallucination; it was what the Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous calls ‘a spiritual awakening.’ Until then, I’d felt entitled to use drugs. I finally realized that if I put half as much energy into doing the right thing as I had into doing wrong, I could do anything,” Beattie said.

After eight months of treatment, Melody left the hospital clean and sober, ready to take on new goals: helping others get sober, and getting married and having a family of her own. She married a former alcoholic who was also a prominent and respected counselor and had two children with him. Although she had stopped drinking and using drugs, she found herself sinking in despair. She discovered that her husband wasn’t sober; he’d been drinking and lying about it since before their marriage.

During her work with the spouses of addicts at a treatment center, she realized the problems that had led to her alcoholism were still there. Her pain wasn’t about her husband or his drinking; it was about her. There wasn’t a word for codependency yet. While Melody didn’t coin the term codependency, she became passionate about the subject. What was this thing we were doing to ourselves?

Driven into the ground financially by her husband’s alcoholism, Melody turned a life-long passion for writing into a career in journalism, writing about the issues that had consumed her for years. Her 24-year writing career has produced fifteen books published in twenty languages and hundreds of newspaper and magazine articles. She has been a frequent guest on many national television shows, including Oprah. She and her books continue to be featured regularly in national publications including Time, People, and most major periodicals around the world.

Although it almost destroyed her when her twelve-year-old son Shane died in a ski accident in 1991, eventually Melody picked up the pieces of her life again. “I wanted to die, but I kept waking up alive,” she says. She began skydiving, mountain-climbing, and teaching others what she’d learned about grief.

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Friends and Family – Friends and family have the ability to inspire you to be the best you can be. Friends are often able to step into the void when a supportive family doesn’t exist. You can count on friends and family to be there through good times and bad. They are there to pick you up when you fall, and ready to pat you on the back when you deserve it. Family accepts you for who you are while at the same time encouraging you to become all that you can be

Love – Love is an amazing thing! There is very little that will ignite a passion more than love. Love truly is a force to be reckoned with. Love never fails to motivate and inspire.

Nature – The peace and inspiration found by spending time with nature is like none other. The simplicity and beauty experienced as one communes with nature can be refreshing, invigorating and inspiring! Nature can be experienced almost anywhere, and can easily be incorporated into your everyday life. Nature can be as small as a potted plant on your desk or as large as the Amazon rain forest, and anything in between.

The Arts – Music, great writing, art and even acting all have the ability to touch the soul in a very unique and individual way. Art, in its many forms, moves and inspires you. The arts provide a means for you to escape to exotic, supernatural and exciting places, discovering new worlds and new things about yourself. The arts can challenge you to think and feel differently creating an environment where inspiration meets reality, often setting the stage for change.

Dreams – The dreams you have … the ones where you strive to create a better life for yourself and those around you frequently inspire you to reach beyond yourself. Your dreams motivate you to think differently in order change the status quo. We all have dreams … dreams to travel, to change lives, to build and create things. These dreams inspire us to grow in order to realize their fulfillment.

Forgiveness – Forgiveness is a gift … one you give to yourself even more than you give to the person who needs to be forgiven. Forgiveness releases you to move on with your life, not allowing the actions of another to hold you back. Lack of forgiveness can be a very destructive force. A true act of forgiveness inspires all who witness it and has the potential to transform the lives of all involved.

What Inspires You #GOFORIT

 

BURNING FOR HOPE

HELP US PUT OUT THE FIRE

Imagine yourself living during the medieval times and although you’re an innocent person, you’re about to be secured to a wooden post and burned alive while a crowd of people watch.  That pretty much describes the impending doom when diagnosed with Erythromelalgia (EM).  The only differences are EM sufferers’ burn alive on a daily basis and we’re not tied to a stake. With today’s technology it’s hard to believe we’re still somewhat living in the stone ages in understanding EM.  The exact underlying cause remains unknown. However, the condition is thought to result from vasomotor abnormalities or dysfunction in the normal narrowing (constriction) and widening (dilation) of the diameter (caliber) of certain blood vessels, leading to abnormalities of blood flow to the extremities.

EM causes severe burning pain, noticeable redness (erythema) of the skin, swelling, and increased skin temperature, particularly of the feet. However, the hands, face, ears, and limbs can also be affected. Although both sides of the body are usually affected, it can be limited to only one side. Primary EM may occur randomly for unknown reasons or rarely may be familial.  Secondary EM occurs when an underlying condition such as an autoimmune disease, neuropathy or Lyme disease is present, to name a few.  Some people burn continuously throughout the day while others have intermittent episodes of ‘flaring.’  The excruciating flares can last from hours to days at a time.  Nighttime tends to be worse. Episodes are mostly brought on by warm temperatures, eating spicy food, alcohol consumption, temperature fluctuations, exercising and walking. The pain can be so intense that a patient cannot walk.

The first stage of misery is figuring out your own diagnosis.  Most EM patients journey from one doctor to the next for several years before receiving an accurate diagnosis.  It’s not uncommon to be misdiagnosed with Raynaud’s disease, Cellulitis or various other conditions. In my case, I obsessively researched my symptoms online for nearly a year before coming across a few EM pictures. I was absolutely terrified. I didn’t think it was possible I could be ‘1 in 100,000.’ I knew I was a unique person but seriously?  C’mon.  That had been the one time I’d rather be just like everybody else in the world. Because the disease is rare most doctors have never seen or heard of it. I brought in an EM brochure and cell phone pictures to show my local neurologist. He had only seen one previous case in his 30-year career.  Apparently I lucked out in that he had at least seen it before. I decided to make the two-hour excursion to Johns Hopkins for further testing.  After repeated visits with various specialists, blood work, urine samples, and gene mutation testing, I am still in the same position today — no answers.

The endless voyage has just begun once a patient receives their official diagnosis. Several doctors turn patients away because they don’t feel comfortable treating a disease they’ve never heard of. Some physicians aren’t willing to work with patients when it comes to experimenting with various medications until some form of relief is found.  Unfortunately there’s no understanding on which type of doctor a patient should see – neurologist, dermatologist, hematologist, rheumatologist, podiatrist, geneticist, internal medicine, cardiologist, pain management or a primary care physician. The pain feels and looks like a scorching fire inside the limbs. Desperation leads a patient to erratic thoughts of flying across the county to see any renowned doctor who could possibly provide some relief.  I’d jump up and down on one leg in a blazing desert while eating live crickets if a doctor said it would cure me.  It reminds of that 1980’s USA commercial with their infamous motto, “What would you do for a Klondike bar?” For us, the saying would be, “What would you do for an EM cure?” I’m sure our applicants could get pretty creative. I don’t want to accept a portable fan and foot elevation as my only means of continued existence the rest of my life.

The pain is often unbearable and the suicide rate is high. When I first got diagnosed I made the mistake of going online and researching ‘Erythromelalgia stories.’ I read obituaries of victims who could no longer deal with their excruciating pain. I also came across EM clinical trials where some patients had died by suicide before the trial concluded. I read the phrase ‘wheelchair bound’ in several articles.  I felt incredibly isolated, afraid, and far away from the ordinary world.

No one medication, therapeutic method, or procedure has been consistently effective for EM. It’s well noted that ice water immersions, although cooling, have a negative impact on the disease itself and can cause further complications such as ulcers. Like lab rats, we’re forced into experimenting with various medications, vitamins and herbal remedies due to our poor quality of life. The side effects are a whole different story. Chances are high a patient has wasted money on a wide range of creams that provided little to no relief.  A small percentage of people have benefited from formulated compound creams but none of them have worked for me.  To me that’s camouflaging the ‘real’ underlying problem, whatever that may be.  Pain patches are another source of mild pain relief but it does little for quality of life.  The Erythromelalgia Association (TEA) founding member, Dr. Jay S. Cohen, M.D., personally suffered with the disease and offered several medical and natural treatment options to explore.  Thanks to him, I take several supplements that assist in my daily survival. Dr. Cohen passed away on December 6, 2015.  His obituary did not state his cause of death. His passing was a major loss to the medical community and particularly sad for EM sufferers.

EM does not discriminate by age, nationality, or gender. It’s a tough disease for adults to tolerate let alone children.  Some EM children have never known a life without pain. We take for granted how simple life should be for youngsters – sleep, eat, learn, play, love. Imagine if every day were an agonizing struggle for your child?  Many adolescents endure painful flares during school hours, requiring their parents to pick them up.  Most of them are not able to participate in physical education class with their friends. The intermittent flaring makes it challenging to maintain good attendance. It often times forces parents to make the difficult decision of having their child home schooled. For all these reasons, engaging socially can have its own set of problems for many youths.

A FEW OF OUR COURAGEOUS LITTLE WARRIORS

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The picture featured below touched my heart on many different levels.  Not only can you see this little boy’s pain in his lower limbs but the background clearly shows an elderly couple’s empathetic stares.  No child deserves to feel that much agony during a simple trip to Walmart to see the Easter bunny.

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I have EM in both hands and feet and sometimes my ears.  I suffer with chronic pain on a daily basis. As a result I’ve become a fraction of the person I used to be.  I once had been an extroverted, funny person who brightened a room with my contagious laughter.  Too much excitement now can cause a few hours of pain so I try not to overexcite my nerve cells.  My days are spent enduring sporadic flares, not knowing if one episode will feel worse than the previous. Sunlight used to be my biggest enemy but now I flare anytime, anyplace for no specific reason. Cooking, cleaning and holding my cell phone causes my hands to flare often. Walking for longer than 30 minutes can cause my feet to flare depending on the weather.  The swollen, fiery throbbing is indescribable. I breathe through the pain then pray it passes soonest. No specific drug has relieved my symptoms to date.

It would be a great morale booster to go one full day without pain.  But then I take a shower and typically the fire begins.  Possibly the fire waits until I turn on my blow dryer or curling iron.  Maybe I luck out and the fire holds off until a temperature change is triggered.  Eventually, the heat is on regardless of what I do. The fire walks with me wherever I go.  I’m reminded daily of my constraints when I walk in my closet to get dressed. I have lots of clothes and shoes I haven’t worn since my EM diagnosis.  A bulky sweater and flip flops doesn’t exactly go well together. Besides, heavy clothing can cause overheating and that’s a nightmare. One side of me says, “Get rid of those clothes and shoes. You’ll never be able to wear them again.” Then the hopeful side of me says, “By giving away those items you’re surrendering ALL hope for relief or a cure.”

It’s difficult for family and friends to understand this disease. Although they love us unconditionally and understand we’re suffering, who could comprehend the feeling of burning alive every day?  It’s hard for others to grasp this type of pain, depression, and lonesomeness.  Many of us mask our sorrows. I sometimes cry in the shower or when I’m driving in my car.  I feel like I’m watching my life wither away. EM doesn’t just affect the patient, it impacts their entire family.  Our condition limits any events our loved ones would ever want to plan with us.  Reality strikes knowing there won’t be any more hot sunny outdoor activities to enjoy.  A summer gathering now sends signals of great sadness because we can’t comfortably be a part of it. Will there ever be a time we can sit in the sunshine feeling the rays of warmth on our skin without pain?  Will a day arrive when we can go for long walks, hiking or bicycling again?  Those memories are quickly fading and being replaced with tears of loneliness. It’s unfair for families to hold back living their lives so we pretend to maintain a smile while observing from afar.  We’d love to physically do all the things they can but that’s impossible right now. Many of us are on disability while others struggle to get approved for it. I am still able to work. I get up daily and head to the office, finish my shift, go home, sit on the couch, eat, sleep, then repeat the next day. I have a fan on my desk (of course). I’m surrounded by the same walls day in, day out.  The routine makes me feel like I’m not living anymore.  I’m merely surviving.  The youthful, energetic person I once was is fading away.

I feel a sense of comfort knowing others are fighting this ‘fire’ with me.  I’m not relieved they’re suffering but I’m thankful I’m not alone. Our EM online support group of 1,000 members is the most amazing community I have ever been a part of.  Although it’s mostly comprised of women, many men and children suffer with EM. When an EM warrior is down we chime in to lift their spirits, letting them know we’re all in this together. Our warriors reside all over the world – USA wide, Canada, Norway, England, Scotland, Argentina, New Zealand, Italy, Sweden and France, just to name a few.

Whenever I feel down I’m reminded of reasons to be grateful. I dined in a restaurant one evening when a teenage amputee walked past me.  She was smiling and I thought to myself, “Wow, she is an inspiration.” During another dining out I watched a group of hearing impaired ladies sign language with each other throughout the evening.  On a different occasion I stood at a bus stop, feeling pained, when I saw a mother pushing her severely mentally challenged adult-child by in a wheelchair.  The mother had been smiling and laughing with her child and I felt joy in my heart. Once, in a department store I observed a wife assisting her blind husband through the aisle. I’m reminded by an acquaintance that was tragically injured in a skydiving accident and is now a quadriplegic. I came to realize we have plenty of reasons to smile.  We’re blessed to have our limbs (regardless of their malfunctions), mental well-being, vision, sense of taste and smell, and our ability to hear.   The goal is finding things we CAN do. Freedom is in the imagination. I enjoy writing when my hands aren’t flaring.  Going to the movies is enjoyable. It’s dark and cool inside so it makes me feel like an average, everyday human being.  The best things in life are FREE: Hugs, kisses, love, smiles, family, laughter, friends, good memories, and sleep.  Well, scratch sleep off the list. Most of us aren’t getting any unless we’re medicated. *sigh*

I find my strength in God, my spouse, family and our Erythromelalgia online support group. I believe a day will come when there is no more suffering. For now I just take it one day at a time. I’m optimistic for a cure. In the meantime, my hope is for a better understanding of EM and treatment options for those suffering with this dreadful disease.

~ Please help us spread awareness ~

This article was featured on the front page of The Huffington Post:

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/melissa-curley-bogner/burning-for-hope_b_9618652.html

My other published blog on Erythromelalgia (EM):

https://melissaannsite.wordpress.com/2016/05/04/the-boy-trapped-inside-a-fire/

Erythromelalgia (EM) Awareness Video:

ERYTHROMELALGIA FLARE PHOTOS

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HERE ARE SOME OF OUR BRAVE EM WARRIORS WORLDWIDE

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SKATE STATION – TEEN YEARS

THE HAPPIEST DECADE – THE 80S

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A ground-breaking culture had been emerging, totally influenced by music. MTV launched in 1981 and music videos became the coolest movement of that time. Ronald Reagan, one of the most well-liked presidents in United States history, served from 1981 – 1989.  His video puppet starred in Genesis’ music video, “Land of Confusion.”  What other president had been cool enough to land a leading role in a pop music video?  ‘A World Premiere’ of a music video was something teens couldn’t get enough of.  “We Are the World” debuted in 1985, demonstrating how music positively impacted life’s tragedies. Putting together a ‘super-group’ of singers to raise proceeds for Africa was a genius idea.  Who didn’t sit in front of their television watching those icons all performing together in one setting?  Several artists such as The Beatles, David Bowie, Queen, Jimi Hendrix, and Blondie paved the way for the 80s but the world was about to witness artists like they’d never seen before.  Trendsetting musicians were taking over the industry – Michael Jackson, Madonna, Cyndi Lauper, RUN DMC, Tone Loc, Bon Jovi, and Boy George, just to name a few. Seeing Michael Jackson perform “Billie Jean” live for the first time on national television had been out of this world. The moonwalk had become a mystery dance move everyone wanted to learn overnight. No average dude could make a glitter jacket, ‘expecting-a-flood’ pants, and white socks with loafers look that hip.  When Madonna first performed “Like a Virgin” in her sultry white corset dress, thigh highs and tulle, everyone paid attention. She was every guy and girl’s fantasy. Guys wanted to seduce her while impressionable girls dreamt to look like her. A new breed of big-hair heavy metal glam bands were about to rock the world. Music transformed and divided into different genres. The Grammys didn’t even have a ‘Rap’ music category until 1988 when DJ Jazzy Jeff and the Fresh Prince won for the hit single “Parents Just Don’t Understand.”  Teens were witnessing history in the making. If you were lucky like me, you experienced the 80s during your teenage years – the happiest, most entertaining decade of all time.

Whether you lived on the east coast or west coast, there had been one place where all walks of life gathered for a good time – The roller skating rink. For southern Marylanders, that rink was located in Waldorf or Lexington Park.  The Waldorf rink had been around several years prior to the Lexington Park location. Once the Lexington Park rink was built, there was no stopping the craziness that took over St. Mary’s County, Maryland.  Welcome, the Skate Station.

The Skate Station held a very large skating floor, snack and gaming section with several seated areas throughout.  A hardwood floor made for the best all-around surface for skating.  The line to get in was long, wrapping around the side of the building. Most teenagers were dropped off by their ‘phantom parent.’ A phantom parent was a caregiver who dropped their child off in the far rear of the parking lot. The teen would magically appear out of nowhere, walking toward the building without any signs of previous transportation. A crushed reputation could occur if a teenager was spotted in the passenger seat of their phantom parent’s station wagon, rusted truck or God-forbid a minivan.  The unwritten rules were clear if the teenager wanted to be a part of the in-crowd. Upon entering, he/she first paid a five dollar admission fee. Inside, long wavy rainbows and clouds covered every visible wall surrounding the rink. It was comical because the French kissing, cursing and showing off totally ‘contradicted’ the retro rainbows’ wholesome vibe. Chances were great that a teen experienced their first kiss or first attempt at smoking a cigarette at the Skate Station. Needless to mention, if a teenager wore fashionable, expensive shoes and left them in an ‘unlocked’ locker, he/she stood a decent chance at them being stolen. RUN DMC wrote a few lyrics in “My Adidas” forewarning people their Adidas shoes were a theft hazard – “I like to sport em, that’s why I bought em. A sucker tried to steal em so I caught em and I fought em,” but many didn’t listen. Instead, the lyrics were more like, “My Adidas. Walked through -skate station- floors and roamed all over my-back-home floors.” Haha.

Daytime hours had been available on Saturdays and Sundays. Most kids rented their skates; however, there were some strap-over-shoe skaters. Honestly, toddlers who wore plastic Fisher-Price skates were better off than strap-over-shoe skaters because they basically walked around the rink vice skating on a death-trap concoction of a roller shoe.  The Hokey Pokey was in its prime.  A boring, lengthy game had been played which involved a creepy furry mouse character skating around throwing big fluffy dice into the air. Numbers were setup at each corner of the rink.  When the music stopped, skaters had to pause at a numbered corner. Whoever stood at the numbered corner the die landed on was asked to leave the floor.  A painful-to-watch rendition of ‘trios’ had been popular among families. It was like watching a road roller flatten and level a construction site. Kids were falling all over place causing other kids to trip and tumble. Unskillful roller skating parents were stuck holding their kid up by their belt loops giving them embarrassing wedgies. A teenager ONLY joined one of those daytime sessions if (1) Their parents coerced them into attending their sibling’s birthday party, or (2) The teen wanted to practice skating to improve their skills for Friday or Saturday night.  The problem with daytime practicing had been the many amateurs rolling around the rink.  Teenagers had to weave in, out and between the many struggling skaters. He/she was basically starring in their own real-life ‘Frogger’ game. Furthermore, those kid’s swift moves were unpredictable.  A child could be straight-line skating then suddenly dart off the floor for a bathroom break without any warning signal. For teenagers, that was catastrophic if they hadn’t been strong enough to swoop in, lift the little kid up in the air and save them from a bone-breaking collision. If the teen coasted into the kid and knocked him/her down, they instantly gained the title of ‘Douchebag of the Year’ by observing parents. To make matters worse, the DJ would cut off the music so everyone could gather around the desperate child making the teen feel that much more like dog crap.

No other days of the week competed with the excitement of Friday and Saturday nights. Friday night skating hours had been from 7 – 10:30 p.m. Saturday nights were divided with the first half being skating and the second, dancing. Come mid-week, their hyped plans were already in motion of which friend would sleep over, transportation, and what outfit they’d possibly wear. Style mattered more than beauty itself. A teenager couldn’t just roll out of bed with greasy hair, get dressed, and hit the Skate Station feeling confident in their surroundings. Perfected grooming was required before a teenager left their house.

For girls, makeup was essential. It didn’t matter if she had beautiful skin, her face needed to portray the 80s image Madonna had imposed upon our society.  Wet N’ Wild cosmetics were the cheapest around but with any luck her mom upgraded her at least to Cover Girl. Blue, purple, pink and green eye shadow colors were typical.  Navy blue eyeliner and mascara were a plus over black. HAIR – The bigger, the better. Skyscraper bangs yet curled backward at the very tip. Chances were high she had a spiral perm to go along with her outrageous bangs.  At that point, she had to make a hair decision.  Would it be a banana clip tonight or hair down with voluptuous curls and hair wings?  A banana clip was cute but hair down was critical if she wanted to feel sexy.  Most girls were professionals when it came to their hair wings.  After using a glob of gel or mousse, the goal was to hold out the side of hair (just above the ear) while blow drying and hair spraying the hell out of it. Then, stop, tease with a big comb, and repeat. Salon Selectives was a far better choice than Aquanet.  Her hair needed to smell sensual and Aquanet stunk like Lysol. Salon Selectives gave girls a lettering-system to choose from to determine how ‘concrete’ they needed their hair to be. If she was smart, she went with the stiff-as-a-board option in a green apple scent. If green apple wasn’t available, another hair spray with a fruity scent such as watermelon or strawberry sufficed.  The reason hair wings or chick mullets were stylish had been to show off their many ear piercings.  If she didn’t have at least two piercings in each ear, she was slacking and needed to coach her parents a little more. Dangle or hoop earrings were essential. Stud earrings were appropriate for the second or third piercings. For attire, an airbrushed t-shirt with her boyfriend’s name on it was sweet. If her airbrushed t-shirt were part of a matching ‘Best Friends’ set she could only wear it if both she and her BFF were skating together on the same night. Most of those creative airbrushed t-shirts came from Kings Dominion or Ocean City which privileged her with ‘bragging rights.’ Rock band t-shirts were another option.  A chick couldn’t go wrong displaying “Guns n’ Roses” across her chest. Other tops were cropped, striped, laced, and colorful.  LA Gear made a big splash across the nation with their cheesy matching jeans and glitter jean jackets.  “Pegged,” also known as “tight-rolled” jeans had taken over. In hindsight, teens looked ridiculous but everyone had been wearing them so no one asked questions. Coke clothing was very popular and almost every teen owned at least one Coca-Cola shirt. A few pairs of colored scrunchy socks were a must.  Spray on some Liz Claiborne or Love’s Baby Soft perfume and she was set to go.

For guys, it was as simple as having a clean image and wearing cologne such as Drakkar Noir or Obsession. It was sexy for their cologne to linger as they sped by the ladies. Black, stonewashed or ripped jeans were hip.  A rock band t-shirt or any colored shirt paired with a jean jacket worked. Logo shirts such as Adidas and OP had become hot on the scene as well. At that time, feathered mullets were in but they weren’t a ‘must’. It wasn’t uncommon to spot a comb in a guy’s back pocket of his jeans to keep his mullet in check. Rat tails were no longer cool.  For a teenage boy it was more about his ‘status’ vice looks.  Two separate all-male skate gangs named ‘The Midnight Express’ and ‘Playboy Express’ had taken root.  Both consisted of four to six males who wore matching jackets displaying their gang’s title on the back.  Both gangs wow’d the girls with their ‘in-sync skating.’  The Playboy Express took championship as the most popular, cutest guys with the best in-sync skate moves.  In comparing the two skating gangs, it was like a ‘Phil Collins / Jon Bon Jovi analogy.’  Meaning, both artists sang brilliantly and had numerous Number 1 Billboard hits but would a girl rather wake up next to Phil Collins or Jon Bon Jovi in the morning?  The answer was simple – Jon Bon Jovi…in essence, the Playboy Express beat the competition. If he wasn’t a member of either gang, his second vote of popularity came if he was a ‘Calvert County’ boy.  Of course St. Mary’s County had many good looking boys but most girls knew them already because the town was so small.  However, dating a St. Mary’s County guy had its perks.  It was easier and more convenient.  A long distance phone bill had been associated with calling Calvert phone numbers then. The Calvert boys were new meat which most St. Mary’s County girls found stimulating.  There wasn’t a boy-toy ‘Samantha Fox’ or ‘Vixen’ rocker babe rolling around the rink for a guy’s eye candy pleasure so they learned to love the pretty St. Mary’s County girls. It was a win-win.

The DJ held the biggest role in the place.  He controlled everyone’s happiness. If his music sucked that night, so did their night of skating.  The DJ booth sat very high on a black platform making it near Impossible to request songs without looking like a total idiot.  Every once in a while a random teenager would jump up and down in front of the DJ booth trying to grab his attention of which he usually ignored.  He played the necessary grooves for the Playboy Express could show off their moves such as “Casanova,” “Rock Steady,” “Lean on Me,” and “Sardines and Pork and Beans.” Cliques felt justified gathering in the center of the rink to scream out the last lyric of Twisted Sister’s “I Wanna Rock!” It was hilarious. Teenagers began associating songs with their music videos to a point that listening to “Here I Go Again” by Whitesnake prompted thoughts of a seductive Tawnie Kitaen spread across the hood of a car. It was no different when the crowd heard “I Want Your Sex” by George Michael, then suddenly petite Asians in hot lingerie dashed through their minds.  Teens learned of the word ‘Monogamy’ because he wrote it in lipstick across an Asian’s bare back.  Also, the curiosity of what Slash’s face looked like under that huge hat and piles of hair was a guessing game. There was no Internet so Google wasn’t an option. Any information a teenager learned about music typically came from the ‘Can’t Stop the Music’ store in Lexington Park. Even 80s tragedies had been hilarious. Every teen boogied down to Milly Vanilly’s “Blame It on The Rain” and “Girl You Know It’s True.” Nobody knew it wasn’t actually them singing. Moreover, no one wanted to openly admit to liking two skinny shirtless guys wearing matching spandex shorts with suspenders.

Sometimes the DJ soured a teen’s mood by playing dreadful songs that no roller skater wanted to hear such as “La Bamba,” “The Lady in Red,” and “Breakout (Swing out Sister).”  Although many teens loved Madonna, none of them wanted to hear her annoying “La Isla Bonita” lyrics.  Even worse was hearing “Beds Are Burning” by Midnight Oil or “Stand” by R.E.M.  Even their music videos were lame. A total DJ brain freeze resulted in a song like “Luka” – One of the worst songs of late-80s…”I live on the second floor.  I live upstairs from you. Yes, I think you’ve seen me before.”  “Shoot me now,” a teenager thought to themselves. Who cared where Luka lived or her drama?  Perhaps the DJ purposely played those songs to push the crowd out the door sooner knowing they’d all head to Nicolletti’s to hang out.

Trios allowed teens to cut loose on the skate floor and I learned that firsthand.  There was nothing more daring or foolish than having a muscular teenage boy inner trio, a middle person, then a boney stick-figured 13 year old girl (me) on the end.  When the inner person, Chris, stopped mid-way and swung me and the middle party, Kristi, forward, it was the embodiment of ‘SKATE or DIE’. Kristi let go of my hand and I flew so fast that I was incapable of slowing down let alone stopping. I literally felt my speed skate wheels shaking and vibrating as if the bearings couldn’t keep up.  It’s every skeletal girl’s worst nightmare – flying into a pack of other trios not knowing if you should wipe a few out on the floor or try another means of stopping.  I decided to drop down and slide. I felt the horrendous road rash skinning my butt and thigh alive.  Trios were in front of me and a big wall to the right of me.  One was about to become my up-close-and-personal-date in about three seconds. The last I remember had been waking up to a huge group of teens circled around me, no music, and blood all over my face and shirt. My first reaction was, “Where are my teeth?” Thankfully my teeth were still intact but the gash in my chin was a disaster that needed immediate medical attention. Eight stitches later, I was out of the skating arena for a few weeks which totally sucked. My social life was ruined until I returned.

There were plenty of song opportunities for teenagers to show off their skills or looks – Skating for Ladies Only, Men Only, Backwards Only. Usually the ladies chatted among their friends as they skated around the floor. The mood was completely different for Men Only skating. They were competitive and only the expert skaters dared to enter the rink during that song. A line of guys would soar by at a high speed, selectively slapping the hands of girls that anxiously stood on the sidelines. It was a subtle way of flirting for both parties without having to exchange words.

Slow songs had been a romantic way of ending the evening with couple’s skating. The last slow song gave everyone a chance to communicate or ~make out~ before departing for the night. The DJ would bust out Bon Jovi’s “I’ll Be There for You” song starting with, “…and this song goes out to Christy and Bobby, Michelle and Kevin, and Jessica and Mike.”  It became apparent that many couples were suffering near-breakups and tears were about to roll. Side-by-side hand holding wasn’t chic but it served its purpose.  If a teen wanted to look super-cool, he/she had to skate backward in front of their companion during the song while holding only one of their partner’s hands.  “Angel” by Aerosmith, “Anything for You” by Gloria Estefan, “Don’t Know What You’ve Got (Till It’s Gone)” by Cinderella, and “Every Rose Has Its Thorn” by Poison were all well-liked. The only song a teenager didn’t want to hear during couple’s skating had been “Fast Car” by Tracy Chapman. Yuck. It was the most non-romantic, depressing slow song of the late-80s and it only surfaced when the DJ had suffered another brain freeze.

Virtually everything about the 80s was over-the-top – the fashion, the hairdos, the music, and the movies. We have to appreciate the cheerfulness and bright colors that decade brought to our childhoods. I definitely think the 80s had been one of the most iconic decades for music thus far. As an 80s teen, I’m thankful the Skate Station played such an awesome role in a lot of our memories.

 

Shout out to our roller skating posse:

Kristi, Tania, Andy L., Eddie A., Chris L., Kelly Y., Toot, Chris B., Ronnie, Kevin M., Kevin L., Bobby R., Sheri R., Christine and Tammy.

Such good times!  Thanks for the memories!

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