Tattoos and Grandchildren

I’d planned to share a different story, maybe next time or not at all. This is the story I am suppose to share with you on the eve of Ned’s birthday.

This picture is the last time he stood between his grandchildren. Little did we know but 21 days after I took this picture, God would call him home.

About two weeks before this picture was taken Ned had been in the hospital and Amy made her “big announcement”. She was getting another tattoo.

Ned’s primary response was directed towards me and Terry, “I can’t believe y’all would let her go and do such a stupid thing and mark herself with a tattoo.”

Terry gently reminded him that Amy was 19 and could make her own decisions and also reminded him that she had worked all summer, “If she wants to spend her hard earned money on a tattoo, let her. It’s her money. I’m not paying for it.”

Ned huffed and frowned. His standard response to anything he didn’t like.

I popped in and said, “I know you don’t like tattoos but at least let her tell you about it. She’s put a lot of thought into it and designed it herself.”

She carefully described the tattoo and its meaning. She told him he had inspired her to draw it. (I’ll share a picture and story at the end). Suffice to say, she had us all in tears and I looked over and saw a tear gently roll down Neds cheek.

His response was something to the effect, “That’s a great sentiment but I still hate tattoos and think they’re stupid!”

No more was mentioned, until the day after she got her tattoo. It was on a Wednesday because he was in the ER. He was miserable and in a lot of pain. They finally got him settled and I said, “Amy got that tattoo.”

He snarled

I pulled out my phone and said, “Look! It even has your signature.”

He glanced and said “I’ve never signed anything “Nitro”. That is not my signature.”

I explained that the tattoo artist took the letters from his signature to make the name Nitro. In fact, the artist was so gifted he was able to turn an “a” in Neds handwriting to an “o” since there was not “o” in his name.

He still didn’t buy it and wanted to argue but I changed the subject to keep him from getting excited.

The first time he saw the tattoo up close and personal was on October 8 when this picture was taken.

He only looked at the tattoo once and said, “I still hate tattoos and I think people who put them on their bodies are stupid.”

We tried passionately to no avail to get him to let us take a picture of him and Amy with her tattoo. He adamantly refused to look at her tattoo. Saying, “Now, Kelly I’ve already told you that I think people who have tattoos are stupid and you don’t want me to think my granddaughter is stupid do you?”

Our best efforts failed; however, as I look back at this picture I am reminded again of how much effort it took him to stand for those photos that day. I am reminded of how strong he was in his fight against the lung cancer. I am reminded of how determined he was to keep on living. More than that, I am reminded of the genuine and real love he had for his grandchildren. They were the spark in his eye and the spring in his step. There is nothing he wouldn’t do for any of them. All they had to do was call and he was there. Always.

The tattoo and it’s story:

Hello all,

Here is a little something I figured I would share with everyone following this page.

Don’t knock it until you read about it. I designed it myself.

Triangle- Father, Son, Holy Spirit.

My papaw Ned believes in the divine purpose for his life, and trust the Lord through it all.

Daisy- April’s birth month flower, and my Papaw’s birth month.

Flowers to me have always represented the beauty in life, as well as the delicacy of life.

“Nitro”- my Papaw’s nickname for being a stubborn, strong, yet caring man. This is in his handwriting.

My Nitro has been battling lung cancer, as you all know, for a while now. He is still believing in the purpose, and beauty of the life he has been given. I have seen strength in him in a way that I have never seen before.

He is my inspiration to continue to push through the hard times, and always be strong.

Thank you to everyone who has supported, and prayed for my grandparents through all of this.

Amy Yarborough

Learning to feast in yesterday’s joy

If you’ve followed this blog for any length of time or know me personally, then you are well aware that my dad is fighting lung cancer.

The past few months have been challenging, both mentally and physically. There have been many ups and downs. Sadly, more downs that ups but as I’ve learned there’s always joy…..even in the hard difficult days.

Last Thursday, Ned was moved from Pardee Hospital to the Elizabeth House and placed under Hospice Care.

Over the past few days, there have been ups and downs but relatively decent days. Decent days are the ones where we see progress.

The Hospice doctors have worked diligently to get his nausea and pain under control. They’ve eliminated a lot of his medications, which in turn, have helped his symptoms.

Tuesday I walked in and was astonished and amazed. Ned was eating, talking, laughing and joking. He was weak but he felt good. It was an amazing sight, to say the least.

However, with this battle that his body is fighting, I’ve learned to keep my plans loose and flexible. A last minute call can change the course of my day in a split second.

At 9:10 Wednesday morning, my Mom called. As she was on her way to the Elizabeth House, she received a call from the doctor. Ned, at some point last night started having trouble breathing. He was having such a hard time, they had to load him up on morphine, to calm him and do breathing treatments. Needless to say, Mom asked if I could come because she wanted me to talk to the doctor. I was happy to go!

It wasn’t easy to go knowing full well that I wouldn’t be walking into the same room I did Tuesday. It doesn’t matter that I’ve seen him this way before. It hurts. It makes me sad. It hurts because I know deep, deep down he wants to feel better. He wants to have the yesterday back. Honestly, I want the yesterday back. That’s not reality.

Once gone it can never come again. It makes me think of when he and Mom were first married. He would pull out his guitar and sing “Yesterday” by the Beetles. First line of the song, “Yesterday. All my troubles seemed so far away. Now it seems as though they’re here to stay. Oh, I believe in yesterday.”

I think if we’re honest, a lot of us yearn and long for yesterday. What I’ve learned through all of the ups and downs, especially with Ned’s illness is most times the “good” yesterdays give enough hope and power to get through the today. It’s truly all about the perspective.

A dear precious friend of my parents sent me an email last week with this great little nugget of truth attached.

“The trials of the Journey will be lost in the joy of the Feast” Max Lucado

You see, if we look for joy even in the horribly terrible hard days, the good days will be your feast. The ones you hold out for, the ones you hope for and the ones that give you joy to continue the journey.

I’m learning to feast…..

A crazy idea

Ever had someone present a crazy idea and ask you to be a part of it?  In December 2012 Ned announced that he would be planning a 35th Anniversary shindig for he and my mom.  A surprise shindig for her.  Stunned at his announcement, I thought, “Who does this?”

Ned, that’s who.  When I questioned his sanity, he simply stated, “Well, I doubt we will be around for 50, so I want to do it now.”  Fair enough.

This all came about after Ned successfully battled prostate cancer and had received a clean bill of health.  In fact, after his diagnosis and recovery, he did a lot stuff with great intentionality and fervency.

As with everything, he planned, Kristi and I helped.  He’s an avid planner and sees everything through to completion.  No stone was left unturned.

Fortunately, both Ryan and Matthew had leave and both were in Charleston, at the time. My brother and his son, Zach, were also able to make the trip from their home in Eugene, Oregon.  It was a family affair.

The event turned out beautifully.  They renewed their vows with all of their family and a multitude of friends.  A blessed occasion.

Little did I know at the time how special that event would be for me.  I still thought it was a little hair brained and crazy.

Now, here I sit four years later to tell you, that day has been etched in my memory for life.  You see, I didn’t know at the time what God knew.

First of all, last March, Ned was diagnosed with Stage IV Lung Cancer.  The initial diagnosis was bleak.  No chemo and he might live 4 months.  Chemo would give him 9-15 months life expectancy.  Suffice to say, he is now almost 17 months after being diagnosed and he’s still with us.

Secondly, it would be the last time my family of 6 would be in the same place, at the same time.  Yep, that’s right.  My two older boys have not seen one another in 4 years.

The anniversary took place in June and at the end of July, Ryan would be transferred to Groton, Connecticut to serve on the USS Pittsburgh.  Within about a month of his arrival, he was already doing short “under ways” in preparation for a 6 month deployment.  In the meantime, Matthew would remain in Charleston for the next 1 1/2 before being transferred to Hawaii.

Folks, let me tell you.  I am proud to have two boys serving our country but it’s hard on families.  Time and distance, coupled with little or no communication, makes it difficult. If it’s difficult for me as a mom, think of the wives and children affected.

What at first seemed to be a crazy idea was one of the very best things Ned has ever done. I am grateful and thankful for his persistence in following through with the celebration!

Miracles happen

The picture above is the reason I know that prayer works.  It is effective.  It is powerful.  Miracles happen when people pray.

Look closely at the two men in the above picture.  One is Ned, my dad, who has lung cancer.  The other is my Uncle Howard who has colon cancer.  Both of these men are still, by God’s grace and through the effective prayers of His people, alive today.

If you will remember my earlier post, “The best $6.00 money could buy” was about my Uncle Howard.  Even when I wrote that post, it was uncertain what his future held.  I knew he had a desire to see his youngest grandson graduate from high school because during my visit with him, he told me so.  He just didn’t think he would live to see it happen.  Quite frankly, I don’t think anyone did.

Guess what?  He did get to see his grandson graduate.  Today.  He was there.  God gave him the desire of his heart and I’m so very thankful.  This is nothing short of a miracle.

And then there’s Ned.  His original diagnosis with lung cancer was 9-15 months with chemo treatments.  Guess what?  It’s been 15 months since chemo began.  Wait.  There’s more than that to the story.  Chemo began in March 2016.  We asked people to pray specifically that the chemo would deplete the fluid in his right lung.  It did.  In fact, after only 6 months of treatment, his lung was completely clear.  He was given a break from chemo and for the past 7 months. Every 8 weeks has been having CT scans to monitor his lungs and the possible return of cancer.

Sadly, the most recent CT scan showed cancer in the lymph node in the mediastinum.  This week he will begin a second line treatment that will consist of Keytruda, immunotherapy instead of chemotherapy.  The hope and prayer are the immunotherapy will thwart the growth and/or spread of the cancer as effectively as the chemotherapy with fewer side effects.

It is not by accident that these two men are still alive today.  It is because folks have been praying.  It is because God is a God of miracles and He is a God of love.  Also, He is a God who ordains our time and regardless of what statistics may say, God has the final say.

Every day is a miracle.  It is a gift.  Live in the miracle God gives you today and don’t get so caught up with tomorrow.  It may never come.