He’s Writing My Story

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If you want to change your life, you have to change your story.   Years ago, I found myself in a situation that needed a definite change, and I had no idea that my choice of exercise would become so important in making life changes for years to come. 

After I had my third baby, I was dealing with a marriage that was unhealthy to both myself and my children.  I decided I needed to have some “head time” to myself, so I started walking for exercise.  We lived out in the country and the only place I had to walk was on a dirt road across from our house.  It was my head time as I struggled to make sense of the impossible situation in which I was living.

Walking time was my time.  Even though I sometimes took my newborn with me, the road was dusty so more often than not, I was alone.  During that walk, I did a great deal of soul searching and praying and made some major life decisions.  After moving to a small town nearby and getting divorced to protect both myself and my children, I put my young son in a stroller and walked every day.  Before he could even talk, he knew the route we would take and would point and babble if we went a different way.  We walked in the park and fed the ducks, we walked on the sidewalks, we walked until he was too big to stay in the stroller, and eventually, I walked alone while he stayed home with the girls.

I moved around a few times over the next few years and wherever I was, I walked.  If I took a trip, I found a place to walk.  I bought a tredmill and used it when I couldn’t get outside.  When I worked in a large school, I walked the halls after school and on weekends.  Walking not only helped my health, it helped my emotional and spiritual life. 

When Dylan graduated from high school and went away to college, I found myself struggling with the empty nest, so I walked while God and I planned the next chapter of my life.  Some nights I walked five miles.  Some nights I walked ten miles.  A couple of times, I walked fifteen miles on a Saturday just to see if I could.    Since I was writing stories for a national women’s magazine at the time, my walking time was when I would create stories.  I would run through the details, figuring out the twists and the possible endings.  I would create the story and when I got home I would sit down and write.

In addition to planning my writing, I would talk to God.  I would listen to Christian music and pray.  Sometimes I even talked aloud when no one else was around.  If people saw me, they probably thought I was one of those homeless people that often had total conversations with themselves.   And God spoke to me during this time, maybe not out loud, but nevertheless, it was a time I could listen to God.  Sometimes songs came on just at the right time, and sometimes, I just knew what God was telling me.

All those years ago, I tried something different and God led me to a new place.  I knew that if I stayed in the place that I was at the time, emotionally, physically and spiritually, I would be hurting my children as well as myself and even though I had made some choices in life that weren’t true to my life as a Christian, I also knew that God wasn’t giving up on me and I wasn’t giving up on God. 

The next chapter of this story started a couple of years ago when I decided to start running, doing the Couch to 5K program.  I ran the program diligently and I became hooked on running.  I got to the point that my heart rate didn’t really go up enough to register as “exercise” unless I ran, so I ran.   Now, I run until I reach my exercise goal and then I walk to give myself that thinking time. 

I run because I can.  I run because God gives me the health and the energy to seek him in this endeavor.  I run because I made the decision to change my story and God has worked his miracle in me.  He is big enough to speak through exercise and for me, this has made all the difference in my life and my story.

God is good, all the time.


A Little More like Mama

Visiting my mom’s grave brings back so many memories.  She was such an amazing person, and she died very suddenly ten years ago at the age of 73.  I never got to tell her goodbye and although I’ve had conversations with her at the grave site, while I’m walking, or when I’m driving, there are so many things that I wish that I’d been able to say to her.  There are so many things about the person that she was, that I appreciate so much more since she’s gone.

My mom had an amazing work ethic.  While we were growing up, she did people’s ironing and cleaned houses before taking a job as a school cook.  When we were started high school, she took a job at the Gospel Publishing House of the Assemblies of God where she worked for twenty-seven years.  There she processed contributions all day.  When she started there, she felt a little out of place, having always been Baptist.  It wasn’t long before she grew to appreciate the differences and realize that God wasn’t Baptist or Assemblies of God, and that although there were things that she didn’t understand, time spent in weekly chapel services could be enjoyed anyway. 

Mom retired with over 400 sick days not used.  She got to work early and walked around the top of the building until time for work.  When she had to be gone, she would work early and late to make up the time. One time she missed work for a funeral.  Before going to the funeral, she took a tumble down the stairs at my sister’s house and broke her finger and sprained her ankle badly.  She missed one day of work and went back way before she was supposed to go back, but she didn’t want to have to make up more time.  She always said, the minute she used a day she didn’t need, she’d get sick and need the days.

Another “fun fact” about my mom is that she never met a stranger.  She’d talk to anyone anywhere.  My parents took me to baseball games because I was a big Cincinnati Reds Fan (I’ve no idea why since we lived in Missouri.  I switched to the St. Louis Cardinals as an adult).  We went to see the Reds several times in St. Louis but one year they drove me and my siblings all the way to Cincinnati.  My dad had connections and we were able to sit right down behind the catcher, along with all the ball player’s wives and kids.  It happened to be during the era of the “Big Red Machine” when Pete Rose was in his 44-game hitting streak. By the end of that double header, my mom was close friends with many of the player’s wives and George Foster’s grandmother, who was inebriated.   That was one time when I wasn’t embarrassed by my mother’s gift of gab.

Being very “thrifty” was also one of my mom’s gifts, although we had a financially comfortable existence.  She was that person who would have a baggie in her purse to take home extra rolls from Ryan’s steakhouse.  She always had a cabinet full of used pieces of aluminum foil since she would re-use it.  She also took the waxy bags in which cereal comes and used them as baggies. She always had “one extra” pack of toilet paper and toothpaste hidden away that she’d bought on sale, even though the toilet paper was thin enough to see through.  We didn’t really use paper towels because she had a stash of embroidered white “tea towels.”  I’m not sure, now that I think about it, how she always kept them sparkling white. 

My mom kept an immaculate house.  We all had our chores and every Thursday night my dad did his one chore, running the vacuum.  I never understood why we did all this on Thursday, but now I do the same thing.  I realized it was a nice feeling to have a clean and tidy house to start the weekend.  She always pulled clothes out of the dryer immediately when the buzzer sounded.  She would hang all my dad’s shirts on hangers immediately when they came out, because she’d gathered all the empty hangers before she started. 

My mom was one of the least judgmental people I have ever known.  She taught Sunday School at the First General Baptist Church for all of her adult life.  The church was in a very poor part of town and often children came in dirty and wearing the clothes they’d probably worn for several days.  My mom would find them clothes and love them anyway because she truly lived like Jesus.  She loved God and she loved that church, and she loved every child that walked in that door. 

Another one of my mom’s most admirable traits was her humility.  She thought she wasn’t important and hated having her picture taken.  The day she died, she’d had a conversation with another lady at church saying that when she died, she didn’t want an obituary, because she didn’t think anyone would remember her.  She was so wrong!  Between her funeral and visitation, over 750 people came to pay their condolences.  People from the Publishing House, from Treasure Lake, and from all over the southwest area came to tell her goodbye.  She made an impression on so many people and was the epitome of a Christ-centered life.

There are many aspects of my mom that I find coming out not only in myself, but in my brother and sister.  We all three inherited the gift of talking to just about anyone.  My sister inherited many of her physical characteristics such as her size and her thriftiness in re-using baggies.  I inherited her weak stomach.  We all inherited her work ethic as both my sister and I struggle with working toward retirement and my brother works when he can. 

My mother loved us unconditionally and although I wish I could take back some of the things I did that upset her, I would not give up any minute I had with her.  She loved God, her church, her family and most of all she loved my dad.  She loved her us kids and her grandkids with her whole heart and I will live each day to be more like her.


A Little Career

I have been in education my entire adult life. After graduating with a Bachelor’s degree in English Education with a minor in journalism, I taught high school English for five years during which time I went back to school and got my Master’s degree in Guidance and Counseling with certification in grades K-12.   I don’t really know how to “not” be in education, a struggle which has led me to retire twice and return to counseling and teaching at some level for the past 35 years. Over those years, I have worked with thousands of students at all levels and I have been fortunate enough to love every day of my career. I always seemed to have a small group of kids who became “the Murray children” and although I never played favorites, there were those kids who just stole a piece of my heart. 

I started my first position as a counselor in a small school, serving as K-12 counselor.  This presented a whole unique set of challenges. Although the elementary and high school buildings were right next to each other and the classes were relatively small, it never failed that while I was trying to do elementary lessons, there would be a crisis at the high school and I would be pulled back to that building. There never seemed to be enough hours in the day to take care of all the issues at all 13 grade levels.

I moved on to become an elementary counselor for grades 3-5 where I stayed for eight years. I was responsible for scheduling, crisis counseling and went into each classroom weekly to do lessons with the students. We talked about character, jobs, and we “wiggled.”  I used music to allow students to get up out of their chairs and just move. Their favorite activity was the question book, which was a book of 365 questions.  I would let them pick a number and answer the question.  Questions were sometimes silly and sometimes serious and they never knew what they were going to be asked.  Sometimes I substituted my own question for what was in the book, like “What is do you think is the best job you could have?” and “What is the worst job there is?” 

After creating an at-risk program in the building, I decided that I wanted to return to high school counseling and I never went back to elementary.  I felt like the secondary level was the place that I could best serve students and although I moved around over the next several years, I stayed at the high school level.

I gave my whole heart to my students, and I have made some lasting relationships from students with whom I once worked and now have children of their own.  I have seen students struggle through high school and arrive at college just to find their niche and become very successful adults.  I have also seen students who had a master plan as they graduated, fall flat and have to totally regroup.  In addition, I have been lied to and stolen from, called nasty names by both students and an occasional parent, but fortunately, those experiences have been the exception. 

Over the years I have had special students who have become known as the “Murray children,”  usually because they spent a great deal of time in my office just hanging out not because they needed counseling or because of circumstances that happened bringing us closer together.  The kids at Appleton City were one of those groups.  Right after I moved there, a tragic accident that involved four students and took the life of one of them.  This young lady had been the first person I’d really talked to, since worked at the little restaurant in town.  I instantly felt a connection and it only grew as we maneuvered life without her.  Spending time in a small community meant getting to know the families and students closely and when tragedy struck once again in my third year there, these relationships that had already grown became even stronger.  The “Murray children” worked through losing one of the members of the senior class who had been Student Council President when she was killed going home from play practice.  She was a brilliant artist and very smart young lady.  I will never forget after spending the week taking care of those kids, I headed out of town to spend some time with my own children and one of my students called me and said “where are you going and when are you going to be back?”  They weren’t being nosey, they just needed the security of knowing I was there.

Another set of “Murray children” emerged during my last full-time counseling position in another small town.  After taking a critical shortage position post-retirement, I again found myself in a small school.  During that two-year position, I got to know both the students and their families quickly and during my second year there, the “Murray children” became daily visitors in my office for no apparent reason.  They were students who didn’t need counseling, but liked to hang out.  They had a “thing” about scaring each other and I often came into my office to find a kiddo hiding under my desk, waiting to scare their friends. 

That year Covid hit and I was robbed of the last six weeks with my seniors.  I went through the same grief and anger they were experiencing as I was unable to see them on a face-to-face basis as they finished their high school career and I finished my last year of full-time high school counseling.  I have to admit that a few “chance” sightings might have happened during that quarantined time (with parent permission) because there were some scholarship and college things that just had to be done and we both just needed to see each other. 

I feel extremely blessed that I was able to do what I loved for so many years.  The students that came through my life have made my career amazing and as I look forward to the future, I am sure that I will find a way to serve in some other capacity and will learn to enjoy the fruits of my labor as I see my former students become successful adults.


Ten Little Things I love

Ten Little Things I Love

Everybody has some “go to” things in their lives.   These are the things that you can’t live without, that you will spend a little more to get, and you will give to your friends as gifts because you want them to love the product as much as you do.  Here’s my list:

  1. Honey Honey lotion by Perfectly Posh.  It smells sweet, not really like honey, but more like heaven to me.  It is rich and the moisture and scent lasts all day.  It sells for $ a tube and is well worth the money.  You can buy it from a consultant (like me) and going to their website here: https://www.perfectlyposh.com.
  • 2. Chanel Chance.  There are very few things I would spend this much money on as a single person, however, Chanel Chance is one of them.  I splurged a couple of years ago and bought myself some and now I keep at least one and sometimes two bottles, on hand at all times and use it almost every day.  It makes me feel pretty and rich—it’s magical.  The scent lasts all day and I always get compliments on it.
  • 3. Dawn Dish Soap—the original.  I don’t ever buy any other scent or brand.  It make cost a few cents more to use other brands, but it is not worth the money and it pays for itself.
  • 4. Fried Tacos—You can take a regular flour tortilla shell and eat it as it is or you can eat one of the crunchy taco shells and have good tacos.  BUT you can take that soft shell, throw it in some hot oil and take it to the next level.  There is just nothing better than a freshly fried crispy taco shell.  Just do it.
  • 5.  Peeps—ok, as a Type 2 Diabetic, I don’t eat them often, but sometimes you just need a little sugar.  I find people either love them or hate them.  Some people like to put them in the microwave and blow them up.  I even heard on the radio some people use the bunny peeps, put toothpicks in their hands and let them “duke it out” in the microwave.  Personally, I just eat them.  I don’t go for fancy flavors—I think they all taste alike, regardless of the color or shape. 
  • 6.  Metal Signs. I am a HUGE Joanna Gaines fan and I got my first metal sign from Magnolia Farms in Waco, Texas.  Since that time, I have found them other places and I have several scattered around my house.  I added bows to the big one to cover the hangers and the sign is very heavy so I don’t ever move it when I move the furniture around, which is often.  The second sign was a gift and came from Mulberry Mill in Branson, MO, a place that I love.  I might add that I had the second sign in the bathroom a friend of mine decided that maybe that wasn’t quite the right place for it.  Think about it.
  •  7. Sketchers Sandals

I walk a lot and I usually wear Asics, but sometimes I need to wear sandals and walk a lot.  Flip flops don’t cut it for me and although I call Sketchers tennis shoes “old lady shoes,” I love their sandals and can walk long distances in them and not be in pain.  They come in all sorts of styles and colors and I have to admit, I have four colors.  I like that if they get dirty, I throw them in the washer and they come out as good as new.  You can buy them on-line but I usually get them at Macys.

  • 8.  Warmies

I must preface this by saying that it doesn’t matter what character you buy, just get one.  I got a pig and it works quite nicely.   Here’s the deal, you put it in the microwave and heat it for 90 seconds.  It stays warm for hours, and this brand has a eucalyptus smell.  It works well for me because I have pain in my hand from a fall years ago and when it’s going to rain or very cold, well, you know.  I use it often!  I also own Warmie slippers which sounds like a great idea because I am very cold natured and I live in Missouri, but they make my feet sweat so I mainly use them by putting my feet on top of them instead of inside them.  I might add, they are not made for walking around the house.  Don’t ask.  You can find these on Oh My Deer Boutique, which happens to be my daughter’s on-line boutique, which honestly has nothing to do with why I love these things.

  • 9.  Willow Tree

Angels have a special place in my heart and I have several Willow Tree statues that have been given to me as a gifts.  They are simple and each one has a “name” with a special meaning.  They are not made of a willow tree, but they are very special pieces of my home décor.

10. Country Decor

I already mentioned that I love Joanna Gaines and all that comes along with her decorating theme.  I live in town, but my home has a country decorating theme and it makes me happy, rounding out my list of things I love.  Family heirlooms along with contemporary country make my home my happy place!  It may not be fancy, but I own it and it makes my heart happy!

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Friends are Friends Forever

As we go through life, we have friends that come and go in our lives.  The ones that we form special bonds with, become part of our story and if we are lucky, they get to be a part of that story for our entire life.  One of those life-long friends for me is Kathy Vanden Bossche.  After coming across each other in a Sunday School newsletter, we started writing because we shared the same birthdate, although she is a year older than me.

Kathy and I were in middle school at the time we started writing. I hate to “date” myself, but if you do the math, that was 48 years ago.  She lived in California with her parents and sisters and brother.  I lived in Missouri with my parents and brother and sister.  We wrote handwritten letters and sent them back and forth, sharing pictures and details of our daily lives.  I knew that I could tell Kathy anything and I didn’t have to worry about her telling anyone here, not that she would anyway, but that’s how middle school girls think! 

Over the years, we have been through a lot of life together.  Graduating from high school, college, marriages, divorces, children…we were always there for each other.  We finally spoke on the phone a couple of times and when cell phones came about it opened up a new door for us. With the internet, came new opportunities for communication, however, we rarely emailed each other.  Handwritten letters were therapy, especially for me who was an English major in college. 

When I was pregnant with my third child, we had the opportunity to take our first family trip and flew to California to stay with Kathy and her family, who took us sightseeing and to the ocean.  One of Kathy’s friends asked her if  it was weird to have someone she’d never met face-to-face come into her home and spend a week.  Her answer was “I feel like I’ve known her all my life!”  It was on that trip, at which point we’d been communicating for about 20 years that I discovered she was left handed.  Who knew by just seeing the written word?

Shortly after my son’s birth, I was divorced and raised my three children virtually on my own.  Life was busy but whenever I could find the time and money, I would go to visit her.  After one particular trip out there, she called me to tell me that she had discovered through bloodwork for a diet she was planning on trying, that she had leukemia.  That was over ten years ago and she has been through numerous treatments and expensive medications, and is still going strong. 

A few years ago, she finally gave in and came to visit me in Missouri. She hates to fly but I finally convinced her she had to come.  It was so much fun showing her where I lived, introducing her to my family and letting her see first-hand all the places I talked about in all those letters, all those years.

Last summer, I met Kathy and her family in Las Vegas for her daughter’s wedding.  It was special to be included in the small event that included only family.  After the wedding, while the rest of her family headed back to real life, Kathy took me to the Grand Canyon, Bryce Canyon, and Zion State Park.  It was truly a Bucket List trip and spending it with Kathy made it even more special.

The times I get to spend with Kathy are some of the most precious times of my life.  Her friendship is one of the best gifts God has ever given me and I will forever be thankful for having her in my life.  Who knew 48 years ago when I opened up that Sunday School paper I would find a gift that keeps on giving!  Here’s to 48 more years of being my best friend forever!


This is Me…

Greetings from Southwest Missouri!

I’d like to introduce myself to you as I embark on this journey of sharing my life, my passions, and my experiences with anyone who wants to join me. So here goes….this is who I am…Patty Murray and I live in southwest Missouri.

There are a lot of ways that I could describe myself…single mother of three grown children, educator, counselor, daughter, sister, and most importantly child of God.  I am trying to retire from being a school counselor and finding it hard to walk away from a career I loved every single day, but as they say, baby steps with a couple of part-time jobs to keep me working with kids.  Besides my own children, who are my heart, I am spending some of my newly acquired free time to explore my passions and find outlets for my talents including writing, cooking and exercise. 

I’ve loved writing several different mediums, creating stories since the sixth grade when I won a writing contest with a poem about snow fall and got my picture in the local newspaper. I’ve had a couple of short romances published in a national women’s magazine and some other small pieces in various outlets including a Sunday School publication.  From that publication, I also picked up a pen-pal with whom I’ve traded bi-weekly handwritten letters since I was in the seventh grade, but that’s a story for another day.

A passion I have developed over the past few years is my love of exercise.  I have always walked for exercise, but when I got a free gym membership through the health plan at work, I started getting serious about exercise.  In addition, I started a Couch to 5K program just because I wanted to see if I could do it, and I could.  I now combine running with the machines at the gym and although I am far from “toned,” I enjoy the head-time and the feeling I get from working out.  More about that later.

Cooking is another passion of mine.  I love baking and creating new dishes.  I’ve written hundreds of recipes and maybe someday, I’ll put them together in a cookbook, but don’t hold your breath!  There are just so many cookbooks out there by famous people, I don’t think anyone would be interested in recipes by little old me!  My friends and family will be the recipients of this passion for the foreseeable future.

There are other things that make me who I am…I love camping and am a member of an RV park, where I camp in a tent while dreaming of having my own camper.  I love baseball and the St. Louis Cardinals.  I grew up a Cincinnati Reds fan, also a story for another day, so my blood’s always run red!  I also adore the water—pool, lake, beach—and the sun, and I have the freckles to prove it.

There is one other part of me that bears divulging.  I have been single for many, many, years.  I’ve had some really rotten men in my life, and I’ve had some really great men in my life, but I’ve never had one that stuck around so I’ve built a life I love as a single woman.  I’ve spent the time raising my kids, and now spending time with my grandchildren, and taken advantage of the time in strengthening my relationship with my heavenly father.  God will know when it’s right for me, and while he’s setting that up, I’m praising him through it!

I have lots of ideas as to where I want this to go…personal stories, stories about people I meet, restaurant reviews possibly (I eat out a lot!), travel stories, health after 60 (did I mention I just turned 60?) and sharing my faith.  This is an exercise that could change, one that I hope to evolve and emerge to be something of which I can be proud and hopefully, will help someone in a way I could never imagine.  God is in control and….God is good, all the time. 

I hope that you will join me on this journey and spend some time with me as I share my passions!


Bless My Covid Soul

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With the current pandemic situation, there are so many feelings going through our minds every day. But when you feel like crap and you think you have a sinus infection, which you do, along with an ear infection, and then you run a temperature, you probably should not be surprised when the results come back as positive for COVID.  However, if you’re like me, you think that it will only happen to other people because you’ve had the immunizations.  When they stick that Q-tip through your nostril to the back side of your brain and then twist, and later come in to deliver a positive result, you are surprised. 

“You tested positive.”  Instant meltdown.  I actually felt sorry for the poor doctor at that point.  He said some things to me, that even after I asked him to repeat everything, I have no idea what he’d said.  He walked me out of the office and opened the door for me as I exited the examination area.  At the time, I thought he was being a gentleman, but as I write this, I realize he was probably trying to keep me from touching anything.  I went to my car, trying to calm down enough to drive, and texted my oldest daughter to call me.   I drove straight home because that was all of which I was capable, even though the doctor suggested that I drop by the pharmacy, with a mask, and grab the medication he had prescribed for the sinus infection. 

I did not, but waited for my daughter to pick up the meds along with soup and some bread and lunch meat.  Little did I know, that loaf of bread would be my lifeline over the next few days. 

As the day progressed, the nausea set in.  Every time I tried to eat a piece of toast, I would have to lay down to fight off the waves of nausea, which was often accompanied by full-body sweats.  I’m not talking those “sixty-year-old woman menopause sweats.”  I’m talking the “even the bottom of my feet and the top of my head and everything in between sweats.”  These effects lasted two days until I decided to call the doctor’s office and they were able to give me something different that did not cause nausea but gave me some “lovely” stomach cramps.  So you choose your  battles and this was one I decided was the lesser of two evils.

The first two days were pretty much a blur of sleep.  My head felt like it was going to explode.  I could handle the TV being on, but I couldn’t stand to watch it.  I coughed continuously which caused my sides to feel like I’d just done 100 sit-ups (Laugh now.  Haven’t done a sit-up since I had a baby 40 years ago).  I did not have any sense of smell, which I confirmed by trying to smell every bottle of lotion in my house.  Nothing.  I also had no sense of taste, except for the God-awful taste that caused me to brush my teeth ten times a day.

By the fourth day, the sweats subsided somewhat although the stomach cramps continued but were bearable.  The new medicine seemed to be helping as I was able to eat soup without having to lay down afterwards to keep from being sick. The cough was still prevalent but as I was able to stay awake for longer periods of time, I began to feel like a deep breath was harder and harder to obtain.  That evening I felt like my chest was tight and I began to experience the anxiety of the unknown.  I used my Apple Watch to measure my Blood Oxygen, but I hadn’t had my watch long enough to know how accurate this feature actually was.

I also began to experience tingling in my hands.  Because it’s what all educated people do when they need answers at all hours of the night, I got on the internet.   After googling “what does tingling in your hands mean,” I found out that it was the sign of the presence of a virus.  Go figure.  

I called the doctor the next day and of course, had to leave a message for the nurse, who returned my call about an hour later.  I told her about the problem I was having in getting a deep breath.  She assured me that as long as I could walk across the room and not be out of breath, it was not at the stage in which I should be concerned.  I told her about the tingling and about what I’d read on the internet.  She assured me that I shouldn’t believe everything I read on the internet, but she didn’t think it was a concern and would check with the doctor.

The nurse called back later that afternoon after consulting the doctor and she said that if the breathing got any worse to call again and they would do a Tel-A-Doc appointment to decide the course of treatment at that point. I appreciated the call back and knowing what to do next if it was necessary relieved some of my anxiety.

The next day, I was feeling better and since I am not great at “just resting,” I decided to try laying in my backyard pool, which has always been the most relaxing thing I could possibly do.  After about ten minutes in the sun,  my skin was tingling all over.  I was in so much pain, even submerging myself in the water did not relieve the pain.  I had to return to the house and the shower that followed had to be totally cold water.  I was unable to even sit outside in the shade to read, an activity which had previously gotten me out of the house. Even though I didn’t feel good, being in the house was driving me crazy.  

I racked up the sensitivity to the sun as another unknown COVID symptom.  However, as I picked up the bottle to take my antibiotic that night, I noticed the tiny sticker on the side of the bottle.  As I looked closer, I turned on the light to read “Avoid exposure to the sun.”  

As I reached the seven-day point, and the sinus infection symptoms began to improve, I started doing things around the house. Little tasks like loading the dishwasher and anything else that involved leaning over, were tasks that required resting afterwards and catching my breath.  Daily naps were the norm, even though I tried not to avoid anything but a cat-nap in the chair so that I would sleep better at night.  Actually, once the coughing subsided, I was so tired at night, sleeping came easy.  

I tried to sit out in my backyard to read early in the morning or later in the afternoon, since temperatures were ranging in the low 90’s outside during the day.  I could sit outside for a while until my hands and feet started burning, even though I was in the shade.  This was the lingering result of the meds and the virus, even though I was avoiding the direct sunlight.  I took a drive to go take care of some banking issues, never leaving my car and dealing only with ATM’s.  

On day ten, I took the last doses of the antibiotic.  I felt like doing a happy dance.  I was also no longer expected to stay at home, as per the health department.  It had been a week since I’d had a temperature.  I felt relatively safe in leaving the house without the worry of infecting someone else.  

I intended to go on a short walk that day, but it got hot so early, I didn’t feel like it was wise.  I didn’t leave the house that day due to the heat, but waited until Day 11 to venture out.  I was overly conscious of crowds, wearing a mask everywhere I went.  I went out to eat in the off hours, more than ready for someone else to cook my meal and clean up after me.  I went to the grocery store, going to the smaller Neighborhood Market instead of the bigger grocery store.  And then I came home and laid down.  

I feel like my breathing is 90% back to normal.  I feel good, but weak and am trying to give my body a chance to get stronger with short sessions of activity.  Mostly, I feel fortunate…fortunate that I had the immunization which minimized the effects of the virus. I am fortunate that I was in good health before getting sick, because it gave me a leg-up on recovery.  I am fortunate that although I am single, I have lots of good people that were there to drop off what I needed to get through that time.  I am also fortunate that I happened to not be working at the time so I didn’t have to miss work.  

My biggest concern was affecting other people.  This is the thing…I don’t know where I got the virus, although I have a good idea.  I’ve been operating with the sense of security that the mask ordinance was lifted so we must be safe.  I guess I thought it only happened to other people, even though I knew several people who had actually had the virus and knew people who had even died from it.  I don’t know when I started being contagious and that’s the part that causes the concern for everyone.

My other concern is the lack of resources to ease my anxiety as I went through the COVID experience.  Aside from calling my doctor, which should always be the source of reliable information because all cases are different, I wish there had been a place to go to ask “is this what you experienced” or a resource for “what to expect when you are experiencing COVID.”   This is unchartered waters and waters that I hope to never have to tread again.

A Life Well Lived

Provider. Integrity. Work ethic.  These are all words that I would use to describe my dad.  Harold Deen Cox has lived his entire life working to provide for his family and setting an example of dedication and hard work.  He started working at a very young age and has continued to be the rock of the family throughout his life.  Dad has risen above his health issues to be the person that I look up to most in this world. Even though he would be described as a quiet man, he has had a successful career as a salesman, an amazing father, and just a great man.

Dad’s work ethic was inherited from his parents.  When dad was young, his dad farmed and worked for Kraft Foods part-time in Mountain Grove and the family lived on a farm in nearby Houston.  At the time, dad had an older sister and two younger brothers.  After his dad took a full-time job at Kraft, dad starting driving tractors at the age of ten and began doing custom combining for farmers in the area. When he was a freshmen in high school he teamed up with his two best friends, twins Bob and Don Coats.  The three young men were given the opportunity by the local John Deere dealer, to run a hay team.  The dealer provided the mower, rake, and baler and the boys ran the hay team for local farmers.   Only someone who showed exceptional integrity and work ethic would be allowed such an opportunity.

Dad’s integrity was awarded again during his freshmen year in high school when a local dairyman awarded a heifer to the outstanding FFA student. Dad won the award and his work ethic was again tested as he took care of his cattle and continued his hay business all while attending high school. By the time he started his senior year, he had built his herd to 12 head of cattle.

Although he is not sure when he was diagnosed with asthma, it grew to become life-altering as he grew up.  When he was in high school he attempted to play basketball but he couldn’t seem to keep up with breathing and playing ball, a side-effect of the asthma.  At the time, he wasn’t on any medication for the asthma and had managed to keep it under control with curbing his activity when necessary.  As years progressed, he eventually was put on medication.

The family’s life changed considerably during dad’s senior year. The Kraft Foods company moved the plant at which my grandfather was working to Springfield. The family had moved into town in Houston a year earlier when grandad took a full-time position, having an auction and selling everything including the hay equipment and dad’s cows. At that time, the family included his parents, sister, and dad’s two younger brothers and finally another sister. They all to Springfield in the middle of dad’s senior year and he graduated later that year from Central High School.

Dad began attending Southwest Missouri State University and worked at Kraft Foods during the summer.  He majored in agriculture but after a couple of years, he quit and took a job at Heuer Williams Wholesale Warehouse, a company at which he would work for the next 42 years.  He started in the warehouse and soon was named supervisor due to his exceptional work ethic.  He developed a system of organization in the three warehouses that involved numbers, letters and bins that would make finding the stock easier.  Each of the samples in the showroom had a size sheet in it that indicated where the stock was located, a system that dad developed.

It was during this time that dad met my mom at church.  She was working at Lily Tulip (Sweetheart Cup)   and living with Carolyn Blacksher and Ozella Walker, who were attending SMSU.  Dad and mom were married at the First General Baptist Church on June 2, 1956 with his hay buddies, Bob and Don Coats, standing up with them.  My sister was born a couple of years after they married and I was born two years after that.

Dad continued to work at Heuer Williams which owned five individual stores in addition to the warehouse.  On weekends, dad would work in the stores to gain retail experience which came in handy when they asked him to run the store in Leavenworth, Kansas.  Dad ran the store for two years before it closed due to the inability to compete with the PX store on the local military base. 

During his tenure in Leavenworth, our family welcomed the fifth member, my brother. Brad was born with considerable health issues. Dad and mom spent time going between Leavenworth and KU Medical center while their son received the medical attention he needed. They continued to make trips to KU even after the family moved back to Springfield.

When the Leavenworth store closed, we moved back to Springfield where dad managed the sample room at the warehouse and was made sales manager for the salesmen on the road. Dad would travel to areas that the salesmen covered, helping them when they took orders. He continued to do this for several years.

During the last twenty years of his career, dad and Dale Dryer, the owner of the company, worked together to pick shoe styles by traveling to New York to work with the manufacturer. They would pick the styles and dad would do the purchasing.  The national show was eventually moved to Las Vegas and they would then go there to plan the shoe styles.   To a healthy person, this would seem like an exciting life.  But dad would come home, breathing heavily, struggling to recover from being contained in a plane and forced to breathe cigarette smoke.  He never complained and continued to do his job and support his family.

His work ethic showed up in other areas of his life.  While managing the sales force, he also worked with his brother to build the house in which we lived most of my childhood.  We would go there every night and work on the house or pick up rocks in the yard until bedtime.  As we grew older and started our own families, dad filled his time with carpentry, mowing yards, and camping and fishing.    He enjoyed traveling and pulled the camper all over as well as spending time at Treasure Lake, a Branson RV Park. 

Another huge part of dad’s life is his love of sports, especially St. Louis Cardinals baseball. Dad took us to numerous baseball games while we were growing up and when I got attached to the Cincinnati Reds during my teenage years, he even drove me all the way to Cincinnati to see the Reds play. Dad used his contacts with Converse shoes to get seats right behind home plate. He also used his ties to get us special box seats at Cardinals games. To this day, he watches every Cardinals game on television and is known to watch re-runs when there is nothing else to watch.

In 2011, my mom died unexpectedly and life changed dramatically once again for dad. He continued to camp at Treasure Lake and enjoy Branson meeting new people. He has since remarried and has had the opportunity to take some amazing trips such as a cruise in Alaska, seeing the Grand Canyon and surrounding areas, and has been able to go on several cruises.

I have learned a great deal from my dad like “never get gas when it’s raining or when the tanker truck is filling the tank” and “mow your yard the same day every week if at all possible.” I’ve learned to walk out of the dealership over $100 because they’ll always call you back and deal. I learned that attending church is a very important part of being a Christian and always check your pants for dryer sheets before you pass the offering. I’ve also learned that if you put the tool back in its special place, it will always be there when you need it. And, most of all, I’ve learned that any day the Cards beats the Cubs is a good day.

Over the years, Dad’s asthma has turned into COPD, which limits his physical activity, but he continues to go to the fitness center daily, once again showing his work ethic. He is the epitome of a quiet spoken man of faith. Dad is the foundation for a family well-loved and will forever be my inspiration for living a life well lived.