Susan Spess Shay

Still playing make believe.


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Today, I’m Praying

It’s nearly February, and we haven’t had winter yet.

Weird, I know, but it’s not the first time. Every few years we have a really mild winter, then we get punished for it. Mother Nature gets us back by sending us lots more tics and other nasty critters.

And the next winter we get heavier than usual ice storms and snow falls.

I know the weird weather cycles have happened several times in my life, but the year my middle son was born really stands out in my memory. I remember going to a friend’s house for our Philomathic Study Club meeting.

The group was made up of women of all ages from mid-twenties to one hundred years old. (At least they seemed that old at the time.)

On that beautiful winter day, I took my three month old son and walked the few steps to the friend’s house. And as luck would have it, I was privileged to sit next to one of my favorite (also one of the oldest) members.

We talked about how beautiful the weather was when she said, “That’s what scares me.”

“A beautiful winter scares you?” I was surprised. “Why?”

Her sweet, quavery voice took on a steely tone. “The weather was just like this when everyone died of the influenza, back in the 1920’s.”

“Do you think the weather made them sick?” (Wouldn’t that be an odd superstition?)

She laughed softly. “No. But with the weather this pretty, everyone wants to get out and about. They go to church, visit with each other in their yards, go shopping and to social events. Even those who’re getting sick and don’t recognize it want to get out, and those poor folks share their germs without ever realizing they have.”

I keep remembering that conversation because right now, the hospital in T-Town is full of babies, sick with RSV.

Writer and nurse Jackie Kramer talks often this time of year about dealing with choking babies. When my niece had to put her baby in the hospital last week, I grabbed the phone and called Jackie.

Not only is she a great writer, nurse and friend, she’s also very good at calming Nervous Nellys. Who knew being a calming influence was a prerequisite for a peds nurse? (Answer: Me!)

Me: What does RSV stand for?

Jackie: Respiratory Syncytial Virus. You know what respiratory and virus mean.

Me: What’s Syncytial mean?

Jackie: Who knows? The point is, it’s a sick baby, and the hospital is the best place to take care of them.

She kept talking, telling me how the treatment would make our baby (she’s my great-niece, so I claim her) feel better and breathe easier.

Jackie: It’ll be much harder on Mama than it is on Baby.

Me: Mama and Grandmommy. My sister is there with her, and probably as upset as the mama is.

Jackie: (chuckle) They usually are.

I haven’t been to the hospital because they requested no visitors (RSV is one of the reasons I don’t go around new babies for a few months if I can help it) but I’m so thankful for the nurses who work overtime, saving those babies’ lives. And calming silly great-aunts who call to find out why.

(Ooh, I kind of like being a GREAT aunt. Sounds like I’m good at something.)

Preacher Dave said in church yesterday that we have between 7 and 10 kids who are in the hospital right now, so I wonder if it’s not like the spread of the influenza in the ’20’s. From newborn breathing problems to RSV to back surgery to bacterial spinal meningitis, our kids are being hard hit.

Today, I’m praying for the kiddos, nurses and docs and thanking Him for giving us all three. Who are you praying for?

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Sweet Sleep

If you were to drive past, this is what you’d see today

if you noticed it at all.

So you get out of your car and walk a few steps. The stone isn’t cemented at all. In fact, it looks like a piece of flagstone that someone carved by hand. Who ever created this heart touching work of art must have cared so much! It couldn’t have been easy to do, but it was completed.

Hard to read, isn’t it? I’ll make it darker.

Still nearly impossible to read, but you can see one thing. The vertical line that divides the stone. (Reminds me of the Ten Commandments that Charlton carried off the mountain.)

I’ll take you closer. (Isn’t the mossy green stuff pretty growing there?)

It says, “Sweet.

This side says, “Sleep.” Figured out the vertical line? It’s a tombstone for twins. 😦


“Bennie” is on the left. “Sussie” is on the right. Below that it says, “Infants of BF White.” No mention of their mother. I don’t know if that’s a sign of the times. You know, as if everyone believed babies had to have a mother and she had to be married to the father, so the fact of her and her name (MRS. BF White, naturally) is understood without mentioning her. Sigh.

The date at the bottom sort of goes downhill and says only Dec. 23 and Dec. 27. At four days old, they died. Two days after Christmas. Doesn’t it break your heart? This had to be back in the day before ultrasounds and doplars. Could they have known there were problems before the babies were born? Was there any way to be prepared for their loss?

Is it ever possible to prepare for something like that?

Can’t you just see the twin’s father, working into the night chipping away at this piece of flagstone? It’s the very last thing he’ll ever be able to do for his children, and he wants to make it beautiful.

The parents’ headstone isn’t nearby, at least not that I’ve found. Kind of heart breaking, isn’t it, to think of these babies dying and the parents having to move away so they couldn’t visit the grave?

I’d never do it, but I’d so love to be able to take this little tombstone home with me and care for it in my garden, just so it wouldn’t be so all alone.

I just hope the tombstone has moved and that tree isn’t growing up where the babies were buried.


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God Created them, Large and Small

Sunday afternoon, after church, I went to College City to help G-Man with the mobile home our boys lived in while going to school there. We’re trying to get it ready to sell and it needed a little work done. (Anybody need a place for your kids to live while their at OSU, let me know!)

While we were there, BB brought his “baby” by to see us. And since he helped out on the house, Ludo and I had a little photo shoot.

This is his noble look.

Sister Amy got a very special birthday/birthday/Valentine’s Day gift.

I call her Mini-Me.

Mini-Me is so small, I worry about her when she’s left to run around the office. I’m afraid she’ll get stepped on. (Besides, when she sneaks into a cousin’s office to potty, guess who gets to clean up.)

Ludo is so big, I’m afraid he’ll step on me. If you look up the definition of gentle giant in the dictionary, you’ll find a picture of this guy. He’s the world’s sweetest dog!

This is the world’s feistiest dog. She’s always playing, jumping, moving, chasing. She’s never still unless she’s asleep. (Makes it hard for me to focus my camera!)

He’s so shy and docile, it’s amazing.

When Little Bit goes outside, she finds the biggest branch she can get her mouth around and tries to drag it inside with her.

This is Ludo with his chew toy. (There’s a knot on there the size of my head.)

This is the miniature critter with her tiny rubber bone.

In case you’re wondering, no, we haven’t had these two babies together. I’m afraid Ludo will yawn and Mini-Me will disappear. Or Mini-Me will chase up behind Ludo and he’ll sit on her. Oops!

I marvel when I remember how God made us all so different. Varied. No two people alike anymore than these two hounds are.

The good thing is, He loves us all. Every one. No matter how different we are.

Even more than a mother loves her new, longed for infant.  More than a hen loves her chicks. More than a miser loves his money.

There’s no way to describe how much He loves us or how many times he’ll forgive us. He just does.