Posts Tagged ‘family’

Today’s Missed Opportunity Is Tomorrow’s Regret

May 29, 2015

super-8-movie-reelsThis afternoon I popped in a VHS tape of some super 8 movies I filmed twenty-five years ago. There on the screen were some family members who are no longer on this earth. Of course, I wished I could step through the screen and give them one last kind word and hug.

The day I filmed them was just an ordinary day, just like today is an ordinary day. Watching that tape was another reminder of how (more…)

The Grandmother of All Reunions!

April 10, 2014

Jose Fernandez

Jose Fernandez

You’re a teenager, trying to escape from a communist country for the fourth time. You’re in a small boat with a bunch of other defectors on the ocean in the middle of the night. You hear a splash so you dive in to save whoever fell, only to discover that it’s (more…)

A Tree for Gulab

January 26, 2014

Front row (l-r): Satish Lohchab (young uncle), Sonia Rathee (cousin’s daughter), Sheela Rathee (cousin), Asha Rani (sister), Hoshiar Singh (father), Kamla Singh (wife), Sonika Lohchab (young aunt), Deypika Singh (daughter).  Back row (l-r): Surajmal Rathee (cousin’s husband), Sahil Rathee (cousin’s son), Sundeyp Singh (elder son), Sanskar Lohchab (dearest cousin), Nitin Saharan (sister’s son), Vishwanath Iyer ( son-in-law) Aashi Lohchab (loveliest cousin), Mark Rea (Devotee friend). Not pictured: Abhineyt (Nick) Singh (younger son).

Front row (l-r): Satish Lohchab (young uncle), Sonia Rathee (cousin’s daughter), Sheela Rathee (cousin), Asha Rani (sister), Hoshiar Singh (father), Kamla Singh (wife), Sonika Lohchab (young aunt), Deypika Singh (daughter).
Back row (l-r): Surajmal Rathee (cousin’s husband), Sahil Rathee (cousin’s son), Sundeyp Singh (elder son), Sanskar Lohchab (dearest cousin), Nitin Saharan (sister’s son), Vishwanath Iyer ( son-in-law) Aashi Lohchab (loveliest cousin), Mark Rea (devotee friend).
Not pictured: Abhineyt (Nick) Singh (younger son), Usha Rathee (sister), Jay Rathee (brother-in-law), Sonia Rathee (sister’s daughter), Ankur Rathee (sister’s son), Priya Saharan (sister’s daughter), Baljit Saharan (brother-in-law), Ompati Saharan (sister’s mother-in-law), Savita Rathee (sister’s daughter), Vikas Rathee (son-in-law), Santosh and O. P. Rathee (Vikas’ parents), Ompati Lohchab (grandmother), Anubha Jalsingh (cousin).

The irreplaceable Gulab Singh

The irreplaceable Gulab Singh

Today marks the one-year anniversary of the passing of Gulab Singh, a devoted family man and a fellow usher at the Self-Realization Fellowship Temple in Encinitas, California. I loved serving with Gulab. He was a model of sincerity, devotion and generosity of spirit.

Today, Gulab’s extended family gathered on the Temple patio in front of the tree that they had (more…)

Always Only a Prayer Apart

June 7, 2013

This simple prayer comforted the writer when she was a nine-year-old homesick camper and it continues to strengthen the bonds between her family members today. I love what it represents. Melinda Mallory of Southlake, Texas, wrote this story for the June 2013 issue of Guideposts magazine.

A child’s anxiety over being away from home is eased by a special Bible verse

girl-prayingWith my kids and husband out for the afternoon, it was a good time to go through the box of things I’d brought home from Mom’s house on my last visit. The old photos made me wish she lived close enough to see every day. I reached into the box and pulled out a scrap of paper.

Is this…? I unfolded it and gasped. “It can’t be!”

Written in faded marker was a verse from Genesis: “The Lord watch between me and thee, when we are absent one from another.”

At once I was nine years old again, watching Mom pack my trunk for summer camp. I’d never been away from home alone for so long before. “Please don’t make me go, Mom!” I cried.

“It will be fun, Melinda,” Mom said. “You’ll make lots of new friends. You can write every day and tell me all the fun things you’re doing.”

I dissolved into tears. Mom gathered me in her arms and rocked me. “I have an idea,” she said. “The two of us can (more…)

The Pure, Loving Spirit of Gulab Singh

February 10, 2013
he irreplaceable Gulab Singh

The irreplaceable Gulab Singh

Today, I attended a memorial service for a most remarkable man. Gulab Singh, a fellow usher at the Self-Realization Fellowship Temple in Encinitas, California, had been felled by a heart attack on Saturday, January 26, at the age of fifty-nine. I loved serving with Gulab. He was a model of sincerity and devotion, and I’m very glad I told him all that in an e-mail just five days before his passing.

Gulab’s memorial service was heartfelt, moving and poignant. I teared up a number of times, and I know I was not alone in doing so. Gulab was the magnetic center of a large, extended family of more than two dozen people, and was dearly loved, respected and admired by all.

To know Gulab was to be uplifted, for he had undergone a wondrous transformation in the last six months of his life. As his loved ones explained in their eulogies, he had become a pure vessel of divine love, offering love and kindness to all who crossed his path. At the end of the service, a friend of Gulab’s came to the podium to share a story. He had had lunch with Gulab three weeks before Gulab passed away. The friend, who  had been out of town for a number of months, told Gulab that he had heard of his spiritual transformation and asked him what the source of it was. He said Gulab got very quiet; he tried to speak but got choked up and needed a few moments to compose himself. Finally, he said, very simply, “I realized that (more…)

Brad and Heidi Stokes—Love, Lupus and Liver Transplants

February 5, 2013
Heidi and Brad Stokes

Heidi and Brad Stokes

Heidi and Brad Stokes
are alive and well, and that in itself is a miracle given all they’ve been through. Heidi and Brad are friends of mine, and I interviewed Heidi about their epic journey from death’s door back to health and happiness. Here, in Heidi’s own words, interspersed with actual journal entries from their CaringBridge journal, is their incredible, inspiring story.

by Heidi Stokes

When I was seventeen, I was diagnosed with lupus and told I wouldn’t make it past twenty-one. At twenty-six, my husband, Brad, was diagnosed with primary sclerosing cholangitis (PSC), a fatal and untreatable liver disease. Doctors said there was no hope for either of us.

Brad and I are now fifty-two years old, with a son, Christian, who has an auto-immune disease of his own, type 1 diabetes. People often can’t get past the illnesses to see how rich and beautiful our lives are. Not long ago, when we were all very sick and lying around in our PJs, Brad mentioned how comforting and wonderful it was just to be home with each other. Our bodies are completely dysfunctional but our family isn’t.

The three of us have defied death more times than I care to remember, but we’re still here, loving life and each other. There’s just something about staring into the maw of death that makes you appreciate the miracle of life. And when it comes to our health, we don’t just believe in miracles, we depend on them.

Brad had his first liver transplant at thirty-five, soon after transplantation for his condition had become viable. At forty-three, his blood work told us that the PSC was reasserting itself; but it’s a slow-progressing disease and we didn’t panic. Four years later, he had surgery for kidney cancer, but it wasn’t virulent and didn’t require chemo. Still, it was a painful, difficult surgery. He lost a lot of weight and muscle tone, and never got any of it back because his weakened liver couldn’t process food well enough to nourish him.

Brad’s decline picked up speed over the next three years, most of which he has no memory of. He was perpetually fatigued, couldn’t keep any food down, and exhibited signs of dementia because of excess ammonia in his brain. Worst of all was the merciless nonstop itching over his entire body. Brad told me that his fantasy was to get run over by a street sweeper; he didn’t want to cure the disease, he just wanted to be scratched! So Christian and I went to the mall and got him a little Lego street sweeper, which he kept on the table by the side of his bed.

As the months flew by, Brad grew weaker, and Christian and I felt powerless to help. Mentally, emotionally, and physically, Brad was beyond the reach of comfort. His only hope was a second liver transplant, but he had deteriorated so much—he was six feet tall and 116 pounds—that I doubted he had the strength to withstand another surgery, much less a demanding and painful recovery process.

By August of 2009, Brad was barely alive. I sensed it was the beginning of the end when he started hemorrhaging in the middle of the night, throwing up blood. PSC can smolder for years, but when it hits a tipping point you can be in big trouble very quickly. I helped Brad into the car and headed for Abbott Northwestern Hospital in downtown Minneapolis. But Brad being Brad, he refused to throw up in the bucket I had brought for him. Instead, I kept on having to pull over on the side of the road. There’s a fine line between preserving your dignity and “Get your butt in the car, we’re going!”

The efforts to control Brad’s internal bleeding have so far been unsuccessful. He has been given numerous units of blood in order to raise his hemoglobin and to all around make him feel better. The doctors are prepping him for surgery to finally stop the bleeding. This procedure is quite risky, but the doctors are confident.
Heidi’s CaringBridge journal entry, 8/08/09

Surgery the next morning stopped the bleeding, but rerouting the blood away from Brad’s liver put his kidneys in duress, raised the ammonia levels in his blood, and caused him to spike a fever. All his doctors advised against transporting him to the Mayo Clinic ninety minutes away, but I (more…)

A Life Without Left Turns

November 26, 2011

This touching tribute to a loving father was written by Michael Gartner, the former president of NBC News who won a Pulitzer Prize in 1997 for editorial writing. I was fortunate to have a wonderful relationship with my dad too, and I have a soft spot for warm-hearted reminiscing like this.


Carl Gartner in 1934

My father never drove a car.

Well, that’s not quite right.

I should say I never saw him drive a car. He quit driving in 1927, when he was 25 years old, and the last car he drove was a 1926 Whippet.

“In those days,” he told me when he was in his 90s, “to drive a car you had to do things with your hands, and do things with your feet, and look every which way, and I decided you could walk through life and enjoy it or drive through life and miss it.”

At which point my mother, a sometimes salty Irishwoman, chimed in:

“Oh, bull——!” she said. “He (more…)

Lissa’s Choice

April 21, 2011

Lissa Rankin

My blog buddy, Lissa Rankin, faced a tough choice this week. Did she make the right decision? Absolutely! There was no doubt in my mind that she would.

Here is Lissa’s account from her blog, Owning Pink.


Saturday night, I returned home from New York City after a whirlwind week of 20 TV appearances, eight interviews with magazine editors at Glamour, Woman’s Day, Health magazine, Shape and other hot-shot publications, a Get Out Of Your Own Way workshop, and meetings with agents. Sunday, I was busy packing with my family to go to Lake Tahoe for my daughter’s spring break and to Big Sur to celebrate Easter (which happens to land on my birthday this year). Then the phone rang, and I found out that a major national television show you’ve all heard of (more…)

Brad Stokes’ Triumphant Return to Life

March 29, 2011

Heidi and Brad Stokes

I’m reading the CaringBridge journal of Heidi Stokes, a good friend of mine. The pain and suffering that Brad, her husband, endured while he was waiting for his second liver transplant is unfathomable to me. But he refused to give up and leave his family with nothing but memories of him. So he fought. And he suffered. And he won. It’s been close to two years since his transplant and he’s doing great.

Click here to read a magazine article about the inspiring Stokes family.

Click here to read an update I posted after Brad’s second liver transplant.

Here is an incredible and inspiring CaringBridge post Brad wrote on September 18, 2010. The fact that Brad is alive today is a testament to what Heidi wrote in an earlier post: “We don’t just believe in miracles, we depend on them!”

Just got back from three days at Mayo – my one year evaluation. Mostly good news: liver function – normal, blood pressure – 115/75, cholesterol (total) – 109, bone density – getting better (was osteoporotic, now osteopenic), hemoglobin – 11.9 (for years I hovered at 8.5 – 9.5), ECG – normal, ultrasound (all abdominal organs) – normal and unchanged, kidneys – …….kidneys?…….hello?…KIDNEYS?!… Well, they’re angry. They are mad about the anti-rejection drugs. They are protesting, but so far their actions are non-aggressive. A lot of grumbling (Creatine = 1.9, renal clearance=30), but so far, no dangerous uprising. Some liver transplant patients end up getting kidney transplants. I’m not there, but I can see the danger signs. We may reduce my anti-rejection drugs in 6 months, but obviously that carries the risk of liver rejection. It’s a delicate balance, but I’m not worried. There is much discussion and drug trials going on looking at alternate drugs and modified therapies to deal with this. I’ve been extremely fortunate that medical science has always been just slightly ahead of my need for it. When I was originally diagnosed with liver disease in the 80s, it was a fatal (more…)

Embrace Life. Buckle Up!

May 4, 2010

As you can see in this video, when you strap on your seat belt, you are protected by love itself. This one-minute commercial is the centerpiece of the Embrace Life campaign created by the Sussex Safer Roads Partnership,

Here’s how Writer/director Daniel Cox explained his creative process:

I wanted to create a visual metaphor addressing how a single decision in a person’s day can greatly influence both their own and their loved ones’ lives. Choosing to film the story inside the family living room represents the (more…)

A Letter A Year

June 2, 2009

Daddy and Erin: The Adventure Begins!

Today is my daughter Erin’s thirtieth birthday. She is the joy of my life, and as I have done on every one of her birthdays since her very first one, I gave her a letter that expresses how very proud and honored I am to be her father.

Giving Erin her birthday letter is a cherished tradition between us. We both save a copy for the sake of posterity. It’s awe-inspiring to look back through these annual letters and trace the arc of her life year by year.

My grandfather (my sister and I would come to call him Grampo) started the tradition by writing a birthday letter to my sister and me for much of our childhoods. He was a star letter writer, as I’ve written in an earlier post. Here are the letters that Grampo wrote to me on the day I was born and for my first eight birthdays.

Parents, it’s never too late to start this tradition. That goes for you too, grandparents. In fact, you could reverse the flow and write a letter to your own mom and dad on their birthdays. You could also start writing an annual love letter to (more…)

Best. Gift. Ever.

September 8, 2008

Two years ago, my mom, Sandy, and my daughter, Erin, each said that the present I put together for their birthday was the best gift they had ever received.

If you’re searching for that perfect gift for a loved one, I hope you give this a shot. It’s the ideal present for birthdays, holidays or just because.


My mom reads her Appreciation Album

What is it? An Appreciation Album filled with letters from friends and loved ones telling the recipient how much he or she means to them.

Start by making a list of everyone who the recipient is or has been close to. Reach far back into the past and cast a wide net in the present. For both my mom and my daughter, I was able to collect around 50 letters.