Saturday, January 5, 2013

Where Has The Time Gone?

This is a sort of pictorial journey through my life, thus far.  Time passes all too quickly and things change much faster than we ever dreamed they could or would. 

My parents were married on March 23, 1957.  They had dated for only six months, having encountered each other at a local country grocery store.  My uncle dared Daddy to ask Momma out and bet him that she would say no.  Daddy asked, Momma said yes and the rest is, as they say, history!

Thelma Howell and Van McDonald
February, 1957
I was born in the early morning on Friday, November 22, 1957, the Friday following Thanksgiving. Daddy brought us back to the home of my paternal grandparents and moved his small family into a larger house that weekend.

Baby Di
Ca. 1957-58

My first picture.  I was always told my arrival was cause for no small amount of joy and celebration!  First child of my parents, first grandchild of both sets of grandparents and the first girl ever to be born into my McDonald grandparent's family!  Can anyone say 'spoiled'?!

Di, Debra and Charlotte
Ca. 1961
By the time of Mommas 21st birthday, she had three daughters and seemed to be absolutely content being a Momma and a wife.  She was always so happy, singing as she went about her household chores.

Charlotte, Debra and Di
Ca. 1962
My paternal grandfather gave Daddy and Momma land from the farm to build a house on and  supplied whatever was needed that my parents could not afford.  The house was built and was remodeled and added to many times over the years.  It remains the house where my sister and BIL live today.

Charlotte, Debra and Di
Ca. Summer, 1964
 In 1964, Momma once again found herself pregnant.  The new baby was due in October.

It was October 6, 1964.....just short of my 7th birthday.  Momma got 'sick' during the night and was taken to the clinic by Daddy.  Unfortunately, our baby sister was stillborn, having the cord wrapped too tightly around her little neck for the doctor to save her.  I have never seen Momma so sad, then or since.

Daddy (Van), Momma (Thelma), Di, Charlotte and Debra
Memphis Zoo, Aug. 21, 1966

Paw McDonald was sick one summer and took a couple of weeks off work.  He went back to work on the second shift.  Late that night, we learned that Paw had died. It was June 30, 1966 and my Paw was dead.  What in the world did that mean and when was my Paw gonna come home?

Back Row:  L-R: Debra, Roger (cousin), Di, Charlotte
Front Row:  L-R:  Wade (cousin), Terry (cousin) and Randy (cousin)
Ca. Christmas, 1969
I was sad for so long that I thought I might never be happy again.  But life moves on and so did I.  Maw McDonald went about making a life for herself.  My sisters and I spent lots of time with her and life seemed to be happy again.

Di, Debra and Charlotte
Ca. Summer, 1970
(Sorry, cannot remember our dogs names.)
 The summer of 1970 came and with it, the approaching of my 13th birthday in the fall.  It was an exciting time in my life.  I was almost a teenager and I was beginning to notice boys.  And, even better than that, boys were beginning to notice me!  Yep, life was good!

Charlotte, Debra and Di
Ca. Christmas, 1971

 Christmas 1971.....don't you think I look happy?  I mean, who wouldn' t look at that young girl and think "happy"?  I had just turned 14; this was supposed to be a good time in my life.  I smiled, no one knew anything but me.  But I knew.....I knew and I never planned for anyone else to know, not EVER!  I knew that a man had raped me many times over an afternoon and evening while he held me hostage at his house.  I knew it was my fault, he told me so.  I knew no boy who wanted a good girl would ever want me because I was not a good girl.  I was a bad girl and I had done things I could never talk to anyone else about.....EVER!  I knew about the tears of a clown....I knew about acting happy and looking happy....and being emotionally barren....I knew.

Di and Terry
August 4, 1974
Then, in May of 1973, I met this man.............Terry Chandler called my house and asked me out.  I didn't know him, had never heard of him.  He didn't know me, had never heard of me.  His friend was dating my friend.  He got my name and number and dialed the phone.  Momma and Daddy said yes.  He came for me, I looked into his eyes and knew I would love him for all eternity.  Somehow I knew he would be the one who would understand, who could accept me, damaged and all.

Di and Terry
June 14, 1975

 I graduated from high school in May, 1975 and we married on June 14, 1975.  It was at that point the happiest day of my life thus far.  He was a sweet, gentle man who loved me so completely and unconditionally that the wounds of the past began to heal.  I felt myself feeling joyful again, whole after so long of feeling fractured, flying apart in minuscule pieces of me.

Di and Terry
Christmas 1976

I was deliriously happy.  I wanted nothing more in the world than to be with him.  I would have followed him to the jumping off point and then would have jumped if he had said "jump".  We had an amazing marriage.  It all seemed too good to be true.  How did I deserve this man?  Yet, every day he asked me that very question "how did I ever deserve you or the love you give me?"  We were created one for the other.  It was so obvious to us.  We knew there would never be a 'letting go'; one could not survive without the other.  Life can be cruel as it teaches you what you CAN bear without descending into utter and complete lunacy.............

Back Row:  Debra and Dwade
Middle Row:  Ricky, Charlotte, Daddy (Van), Momma (Thelma), Di and Terry
Front Row:  Adam, Katie and Jared
February, 1984
 My sisters began to have children and we loved them!  We did all we could to completely spoil them!  I so desperately wanted to have children, but for some reason, the Lord had not seen fit to allow that in our lives.  It was a source of great sadness for us both, but we held on to each other and to the Lord.  Somehow, we would make it: we had each other and we would make it.

Back Row:  Terry, Ricky and Dwade
Front Row:  Di, Charlotte and Debra
Christmas, 1985
 Another year and we still did not have children.  Well, truth be told, we had three children in heaven.  We had lost a son in miscarriage on Dec. 19, 1984 and had lost two other children, one in August, 1985 and one in November, 1985.  We smiled, we still had each other, but we so desperately wanted our babies..............

Back Row:  L-R:  Dwade, Adam, Ricky and Terry
Second Row:  L-R:  Katie, Jared, Debra and Di
Third Row:  L-R:  Charlotte, Jacob, Momma (Thelma) and Daddy (Van)
Front Row:  Caleb
Our Family
Sept., 1994

 A family sisters and their children, my parents and us, still without children.  We were now sure children would not be in our future.  I had had to have a hysterectomy and so that dream had died.  But, we still had each other and we still spoiled our niece and nephews; there was still plenty to smile about.

Di and Terry
20th Anniversary Party
June, 1995
 Our 20th anniversary!  A surprise party had been planned at our church for us and for my best friend, Charlotte and her husband Wayne, who had married the night after we had married.  It was a wonderful time of fellowship and memories of all those years together.  Charlotte and Wayne had two beautiful daughters whom we adored and, yes, whom we spoiled if we got the chance!  Life was good!

Di and Terry
40th Anniversary Vow Renewal Ceremony for Di's Parents
March 23, 1997
 Momma and Daddy had married in a courthouse.  Momma had always wanted to renew their vows in church.  Much to the surprise of my sisters and me, Daddy agreed to do it at their 40th anniversary.  We couldn't believe Daddy agreed and set about getting our husbands to agree as well.  It went off without a hitch and the renewal ceremony took place on their 40th anniversary. 

Everyone kept asking why we didn't wait until the 50th anniversary.  Momma simply said she wanted it now.  We were all so thankful we did it.  Momma died about a month after their 49th anniversary.  If she had waited, she would have never had the ceremony. 

Di and Terry
Christmas, 1998
 It was now 1998.  I had become very sick and had had to quit work in 1996.  Terry stood beside me when no one, not even my parents, understood what was going on with me.  He saw what no one else saw...the symptoms went on and on and were not noticeable if one spent no more than an hour or so with me on a good day.  Yet, he stood beside me; always at my side and always reassuring me of his love.

Di and Terry
Christmas, 2000
Our First Christmas After His Accident

 April 13, was the day that changed our life forever after.  Terry fell asleep while driving home from work on a Thursday afternoon.  He hit a concrete culvert and then went head-on into a tree.  Both femurs were driven upward and through his pelvis, bursting the pelvic bone into multiple small pieces at it's most dense area.  His right kidney was bruised so badly it stopped functioning for several weeks.  His liver was lacerated three times; his spleen was damaged.  His lungs were bruised and began to fill with fluid, eventually causing both lungs to collapse.  He had a closed head brain injury that ended up causing his core temperature to rise between 1 and 2 degrees; normal temp for him going from 98.6 to nearly 100 degrees,

We were told he had a less than 5% chance of ever walking again.  With monumental effort on his part and on the part of his therapists, and with miraculous healing from the Lord, he did walk again. 
He walked, but had to wear a brace on the left leg due to nerve injuries.  He was never able to return to work.  He struggled with that for the remainder of his life.

Terry and Di
Christmas, 2006
Our First Christmas After Momma Went Home
 We adjusted to our new 'normal' and went about adjusting our lifestyle to our restrictions.  He was alive, I could live with anything I needed to as long as he was with me.  In time, he adjusted and we were happy.  Being together now meant so much more because we knew how close we had come to his death.

Then, Momma got sick. On April 20, 2006, Momma went home to be with Jesus.  Our hearts were broken, especially Daddy. With the Lord's help, we managed to pull ourselves together and go on as a family.

Aunt Di with Alix and Jaden
Des Moines Zoo
Summer, 2009

 Then, on January 26, 2009, after battling liver disease for a few years, Terry went home to be with the Lord.  I honestly did not think I could make it without him.  Life held very little that brought happiness anymore.

In the summer of 2009, I went to my niece's home for a few weeks.  It was such a wonderful time.  My niece and NIL and their children were so good for me.  We met my sister and BIL and my nephews in Branson for a long weekend of family fun that really made me feel as though I could go on.

When I returned home, I had a mental breakdown because I had never told anyone except Terry about the sexual abuse when I was 13.  I saw a therapist that advised me to talk to my family and tell them what had happened.  He also told me I should not live alone for a few months.

I moved in with my sister and told my family, all except Daddy, about the abuse.  I would not tell Daddy and never did.  There was no reason for him to have to bear that burden while sick and dying. 

Allyson and Aunt Di
Easter, 2010
 By Easter of 2010, I was doing much better and was actually beginning to feel like I wanted to live again.  Life seemed to hold good for me again.  My niece's children and my nephew's little girl gave me so much joy.  With the support of my family, I found the courage to push forward.  I had found a precious church family who loved and supported me and encouraged me as I moved forward.  Yes, life was again good.  Lonely at times, but good.

Di, Charlotte and Debra
Smoky Mtns. Sister Vacation
Fall, 2010

 My sisters and I took a brief trip to the the Smoky Mtns. together. It was a wonderful trip where we reconnected as sisters and remembered all those times Momma had taken us on brief trips. These girls were my medicine and they worked wonderfully well!

Charlotte, Debra and Di
Smoky Mtns. Sister Vacation
April, 2012
 And so, my life moves forward.  I have health issues that are beginning to take their toll, but the Lord knows all of that; He has a plan.  So, I move on and try to live my life to make a difference in this world as I go.  I love my family; they have been a lifeline to me.  I love my church and the precious people there who love me so well.  I love a special group of ladies who are my ScarfSisters.  They love me, pray for me, encourage me and even give me a swift little 'boot' when I need it!

I have no idea where my life goes from here.  But wherever it goes, I know the Lord goes before me and Terry's love will always be with me, deep inside of who I am.  Our love lives in eternity and we can never be separated.  It worked out just like I knew it would on that Saturday afternoon in May, 1973.  I have loved him since that day; I always will.

Forever and always............that's the way he always signed anything he wrote to me.  You're right baby, forever and always............

So, where does the time go?  We live our lives, hopefully we serve our Lord and bring joy to others as we go and time passes.  Then, one day, we are forced by circumstances to stand back and take a good long look at our life and what we have done with it. 

I missed opportunities along the way to love others who needed my love; I missed opportunities to share the love of Jesus with those who needed Him; yet, all in all, I have lived my life in a manner I am proud of.  I haven't been perfect, but I have loved and have offered acceptance and forgiveness to those whom I felt needed it.  I have learned from cruel experience just how true James 4:14 really is.  Whatever tomorrow holds, I walk there joyfully and with pregnant expectation of what the Lord has planned for me.

"What do you know about tomorrow?
How can you be so sure about your life?
It is nothing more than mist
that appears for only a little while
before it disappears."
James 4:14   (CEV)

1 comment:

Felisol said...

Dear Diane.
You have compressed the thick novel of your life into a
short story. It nevertheless is so touching, it makes my tears flow.
You have indeed have had many losses in your life, but also been blessed with love when everything seemed dark and impossible.
Having known you for some years now, I have learned to respect you for your integrity and for being frank and straightforward through and through.
Thanks for sharing this story of your life.
I love that you still are living and exploring possibilities in spite of your losses and sorrow.
May the Lord bless you and your sweet family from now and ever on.