new beginnings?

it has been quite a year. I never for a moment thought this would be a permanent thing. A year ago we were going to have summer by the sea while looking for a new home in the hills.  So much has changed.

When you get to my sort of age, you think you have it all sorted.  Children, born, raised and off into the world, living lives you may have only dreamt about.  Belongings, gathered over decades form a home.  Bills are paid and there is space and time to enjoy this thing called life.

We were luckier than most, we also had a holiday home, somewhere to escape to, close to the coast with a garden to make beautiful.  How lucky were we?  Never, in a thousand thoughts would I have believed that this tin box would be where would we live.  Where we would cram the most precious belongings in, keeping them safe with us, while the rest of our possessions stay waiting for us in a storage unit.

So many things have happened.  We have learned so much. It has been the hardest year of my life.  Harder than nursing poorly parents at the same time I was having babies.  Harder than baby years, no sleep and exhaustion. Harder than single Mum life, days when the responsibility for four small people was all mine.  Harder than all of that put together.  It is no wonder I am feeling tired.

My Mum had a saying, one of those old messages so common in my childhood.  She would say ‘You never know what is in the pot boiling for you’.  A year on, I am thinking it is a good thing I had no clue what was about to happen. I doubt I would have had the strength to face it.

All my life I have considered myself a bit of a rolling stone.  Never quite settling for anything.  Change was always my friend.  New starts, I was good at them.  New houses, new places, it was what I enjoyed.  Twenty years in the hills and I finally felt at home.  I knew that place, I felt I fitted in the town, with grown up children close by and our darling granddaughter popping in daily, I felt at last I had found my forever home.

As I am typing this, unexpected tears are falling, the pain of distance still simmers under the surface of emotions, not yet completely accepting of our new life. Yet a new life is what we are going to have.

There have been times this last year when I feared I would be facing the future on my own.  That my tall, strong husband would not be by my side.  When I think of this, well, everything else is of little significance.  He is recovering and slowly but surely I am seeing him returning to some sort of normal.  It is time gently begin to think about the future, time to consider big decisions.

Putting aside the pain and worry of the past twelve months, we now need a plan.  It feels good to be driving this process for once, we are being proactive and not simply responding to what is coming our way.  We are starting to understand that it is up to us to make choices, about not only where we will live, but how we shall live.

So, a house, maybe a flat, within walking distance of the sand and sea, that is what we want.  To enjoy summer, and as it ends to return to a job I am beginning to love, with a plan for our new forever home.

The day our possessions are delivered from the storage unit, that will be the day.  We shall sit once again on our lovely sofas, and look around us.  We will know that everything can and will change, without notice, but we will know, beyond all doubt that we can cope with this.  That together we can and will face whatever this universe throws our way.

We remain hopeful that the pot has peace and stability boiling for us this time.

on fundraising, buffets, and booking adventures, it’s the start of summer

so, finally I have finished my first term working in my new job.  Seven weeks of learning new systems, making new friends, getting to know a team and meeting some amazing young people.  Just seven Monday mornings, seven Friday afternoons and we are done for the summer break.  Six long weeks ahead to spend as I wish.  We are going to look for a new home, somewhere near the coast with the mountains behind us, it is really exciting.  We also have hospital appointments, and hopefully hubby’s journey towards full health is coming to it’s end.  From wheelchair and weak, he is walking tall, and looking stronger everyday.  We have much to celebrate.

I am however, exhausted.  The strains of the past twelve months, the anxiety of the last few months and a new job have all taken their toll.  I need a holiday.  Hubby is not yet wanting to travel far from home, but is totally in favour of me going off on an adventure.  I think he is secretly relieved that I won’t be organising his life for the whole six weeks.  I want to have fun and to challenge myself to do something a little different, so taking my lead from my gorgeous girl, I have booked us both tickets to an island in the sun, and beds in a shared dorm, a hostel near the beach, where for very little money I shall see the world through her eyes.  What is not to like?  Lots of new people to meet, blue seas to swim in and fresh fish to eat.  It will be amazing, at least I hope it will be.

Meanwhile I have been busy helping a friend fund raise for a cause dear to his heart, and arguing with those supposed to help him, they are not helping, so we will.  It is going well and I think he will get the job done.  Once again the power of ordinary people coming together to make things better cheers me.

So, how do you begin to end your first term and celebrate the start of summer?  Well this team do it with a buffet, I do love a buffet.  We all gather together sharing food, laughing and enjoying the company.  It made me happy to be working alongside people who are open and friendly and do a great job.  So happy I didn’t even care that as I left for the summer break, the first rain in six weeks was falling fast.

It really feels like today may well be the first day of the rest of my life.

it’s coming home

I have never been a football fan, yes, I like it when Liverpool win, and shamefully rejoice when Manchester United lose, but really, I am not a fan.  However this year it is different.  For a start the World Cup has been on constantly in our house.  Hubby is thankfully recovering well from his surgery and enjoying convalescing in the Summer sun with footie as the soundtrack to his return to wellness.

This actually was quite annoying at first, until I noticed what was happening all around me.  Social media posts showing friends and their children watching the beautiful game and for once it seems England is winning. The smiles and laughter of the children, all of whom believe that their team can win, well it is quite magical. Then I watch the after match interviews, so much less stressful than actually watching a match and I notice that not only are they winning, they are doing it with good grace and humility, not to mention smart waistcoats.  Gone, it seems, are the egos, the big men who have always put me off the sport.  Those days it seems are done.  Now we have a team, no one more is important than another, and for that I thank them all.  Win or lose to showcase kindness,  team spirit and friendship on the world stage is impressive.  These guys are role models, and for once our children, girls and boys alike have people who are decent and honest to look up to.  No matter what happens next it has been worth it.

As the excitement of today’s match dwindles, and talk turns to the next one, this time a real chance to do something wonderful, I am thinking of another football team.  Young men and boys, passionate for their sport, together as a team on a day out.  A young manager, keen to give them fun experiences led them into a cave, two weeks ago, and they are still there today.  Thankfully brave rescuers have found them and are working hard to bring them home.  It is a tricky task, deep under ground with waters rising, this team literally are in peril.

So, as we hear our countrymen and women singing the Three Lions song, I will be hoping that another team on the other side of the world will soon be coming home, that parents and loved ones will be able to hug them and scold them and then, quietly get on with the rest of their lives.

Let’s all hope that Football really is coming home soon.


Day 48 – a week at home

it is true to say the being at home is much easier than driving the many miles into Manchester, and being together all the time rather than at specific visiting times, it is equally true to say that being in charge of post op care is quite terrifying.

We arrived back just over a week ago.  The long anticipated return, when it came, happened really quickly.  A phone call in the morning and by supper time we were back on the hill.  Two enormous bags of possessions collected over the seven week long stay, and another large bag of tablets, each one necessary to aid recovery.

Hubby seemed ok, the journey back was tricky, for some reason we were both emotional and this was not helped by the tunes played on the radio, still it felt good to be heading West.  Once home it became obvious he was overwhelmed and exhausted. He was also hungry.  He is still hungry a week later. I suppose not eating for almost ten weeks leaves a lot of making up to do.  If health is measured in appetite then I am happy to say hubby is extremely healthy.

This past week has been at times a joy and others a worry.  Post anaesthetic confusion mixed with feeling vulnerable made both of us uneasy, but we have worked it out.  Lots of rest, for both of us, I am actually sleeping again, good food and the company of friends and family in the unseasonally warm sunshine is doing the trick.  Things are getting better.

I am sure we have both learned things from this dreadful time, and we continue to do so daily.  The initial fear of organising so many different pills has passed.  I now have a chart and feel confident we are on top of this.  We have learned that we were both fearful of the confusion, thinking maybe something had gone wrong, neither telling the other until, as suddenly as if arrived, it was gone. I have no doubt we have other hurdles to cross and lessons to learn but today, for the first time in months I am daring to hope we have got this.  That another healthier life awaits us.

In another week I will be staring a new job, something I am excited by and hope that it will work well.  Hubby is in training for days alone, and is actually doing great.  He is even embracing the hated breathing and physical exercises which will restore his lungs and his muscles.  We have walked briefly on the beach and looked out to sea, and we have sat in our garden counting every one of our blessings.

For now as we continue this recovery, hubby is keeping the balls in the air and I am cheering him on, every step of the way.  The next step on our adventure awaits, just around the corner.

Day 27 – a gathering of strangers

today we have a taste of the Summer to come in the city.  A blue sky, dotted with white clouds covering a warm yellow sunshine, it felt good to have warmth on my back and everyone, everywhere seems happier.

I decided to explore the city close to my hotel before visiting time came around.  Across the busy road from the hospital is an art gallery, somewhere I last visited some ten years ago.  Meandering through the exhibitions, each showing something different, I was taken back to a time when this was normal life.  I used to love checking out art, and spent a lot of time in places like this. Within minutes I was appraising and rethinking about what I really like to see, memories of a younger self, I had so many opinions about what is art.

I moved along the corridors and came across the new extension to this public place.  Built recently the old and the new sit more than comfortably side by side.  At the rear a huge window gave the view of a garden, it was full of Spring flowers and sculpture.  I couldn’t wait to get outside.

Once there I was struck by how the architecture blended with the foliage all around.  Reflections bounced images of multiple trees and leaves, the sky lending a shadow and a glow, it was almost magical.  Camera in hand I started recording what I was seeing, it was extraordinary.

Later, when I had photographed everything, I sat and looked around.  I was thinking about how important it is to take time to simply enjoy, something that has not been easy of late.  Quietly, I gave myself to the garden, taking in details of each tulip, standing tall and proud.  I noticed the tiny butterfly working it’s way along the blooms and the bird song became almost deafening.  All these things I had not noticed from my camera.  another reminder that I needed to be still, to immerse myself in the nature around and just be.

I became aware of other people arriving in the garden, three women passed me by, talking in a language I do not understand.  They too seemed in awe of the beauty of the surroundings, and as they looked back at the building they were obviously taken with the large letters illuminated at the top of the roof.  A GATHERING OF STRANGERS it proclaims.  One of the three came to me and asked in broken English, what is the meaning of gathering, I explained it was a coming together, a bringing along and she was happy as it was as she thought.  It struck me then that this was actually what is and has been happening to us for the past month.

So many strangers have gathered around us, from medical staff to fellow patients and their friends and family, all of us gathered together with one thing in common.  And from this gathering come friendships, albeit fleeting and also the people we learn to trust literally with life itself.  Again today in a garden, more strangers stopping to talk, the world is full of friends we don’t yet know.

The hotel I have stayed in at times during these weeks is also a place full of strangers, and yet, the staff here now know me well enough to chat.  No longer strangers,  I know about family, about grandchildren, about how working long shifts wears them out and I know how their smiles and enquiries about hubby and his health, and about me, well these things make life nicer all around.

So many lessons are being learned during this time, having to let go of plans, of literally living in the moment and handing control to others better able to fix things.  Self reliance for me, after ten years of doing most things as a pair, I have learned again to trust myself.  Driving across a strange city, it now feels very familiar.  Being apart from home, from friends and from family, dealing with stress and worry, and yet I seem to be coping ok.  Who knew I could do this?  Certainly not me.

We are hopeful that things will be resolved soon, that the medics will decide that the time is right to fix a broken heart, and then one day in the future we shall drive away from this city of strangers, knowing that we have left behind an army of friends.  Lucky are we.


Day 22 – marking time amongst the artwork

Another day on the ward and all is much the same.  This place feels very familiar now, the same cheerful nurses, the same doctors, even most of the same patients.

We set off on our daily walk, well I am walking and pushing hubby in the borrowed wheel chair, and we wander along the ground floor corridor. It is a special place linking four major hospitals, each with it’s own specialism and history.  There are two areas we love, each an atrium,  with sunshine flooding through the glass panels above, as we sit and chat there is a feeling of space and light here, it is a healing place.

The corridor is lined with artwork, with pictures of hospital staff, and details of their roles and responsibilities.  As we head towards the children’s hospital the artwork is of framed pieces, each different and each illustrating the International Rights of the Child.  They are fascinating.  One, titled  Article 13 is by Alan Lee.  I had never heard of him before but his monochrome image depicting the Right to go where we want in our country and to travel abroad as we wish, is amazing. A black and white drawing it depicts a border, a harsh wall where origami birds are trapped in the wire along the top.  There is much to see in this picture.  I could look at it for ages, and I will be looking for a print one day soon.

It made me think of all the people seeking medical help at borders across the world.  The children in hospitals in war zones and those that lose their lives trying to reach safety.  A day for counting our blessings for sure.

Anyway, back on the ward, we are soon settled again, the days continue, we are playing a waiting game for sure.  Hubby is looking good, his health is improving everyday, step by step towards the operation that will fix his broken heart.

And me?  I am grateful as ever for these memories we are making, and for finding new things in unexpected places.

Day 19 – time at home counting my blessings

At last things are looking up.  Yesterday hubby was much better, he even managed to walk with me to the day room, the first day since he was admitted we didn’t use the wheelchair!!  The medics are pleased with his progress, it feels like we are moving closer to actually fixing his heart.

I have taken a day off visiting and come home to the hill, the sun is shining and the trees are all in bud.  It is a useful reminder that summer is approaching and that we shall spend the warm days together, as he makes his recovery.

When life is tough, and it has been this past few months, there are many worries. I have spend nights lying awake thinking thoughts and there have been difficult decisions to be made. Amid this chaos there are unexpected bits of wonder. One thing that will stay with me forever will be the kindest shown to us in so many different ways.  People reaching out with open arms and hearts to try to do their bit to make things better.  Alongside the gentle caring of the hospital staff, have been the family and friends, who quite literally have wrapped us up and taken care of me.  It is simply amazing.

Homes that have been opened to me, with a bed to sleep in, closer to the hospital, and so much more. The company of people who know you well,  and who really want to help. I have been cooked for, taken out for meals, laundry done, they have driven me to where I need to be,  I have been completely taken care of, I shall remember it forever.
Friends and family who have come along to visit, bringing a taste of normal life with them together with thoughtful gifts and warm love.  Everyone has to make a huge effort, no one lives close by to this city hospital, and yet they have come, and it has meant the world to both of us, to know how much people care.
It is when things are difficult that you need your tribe around you.  I had thought moving away would mean I had lost my connections with my tribe, but it seems not.  People who have stayed in your life for decades are, it seems, truly friends for life.  I am so grateful to them all.  It is making me think about the times we have had people living in our home over the years, always with good heart we have delighted in helping. It is only now I can understand a bit of how it feels to make someone else’s house your home, albeit briefly.
We are blessed with the best family and friends in the world.  Those that understand the issues we are facing are helping in so many ways.  I know I am hard to help, a life of having to be independent, does not make me one who easily ask for, or accepts help.  It fact my default position is to decline, saying everything is ok, even when it isn’t.  It is then that those who know me are finding other ways to get help to me, and I am in awe of this.  Thank you doesn’t come close, I hope they all know how much their support means.
 Today will be spent in the Welsh sunshine, on my own.  I will take a walk by the sea, but not at our favourite beach. I am saving that one until we can walk again together, hand in hand in the late summer sunshine.  With luck the best is yet to be.

Day 15 – good news bad news

Another Monday and we are still here, hopeful that this will be the week he gets his operation.  The ward is busy today, new people post operation are needing care, the staff are rushing about and we sit in the middle wondering what will happen next.

The doctor arrives mid afternoon, with the results of this morning’s scan.  The good news is there is nothing seriously wrong, the bad news is there is an underlying infection.  This will mean a whole week of medicine before they will consider surgery again.  The news sinks in, we are looking at at least another three weeks in hospital, maybe more.  It feels a bit daunting.  The doctor answers our many questions and then takes his leave. It is hard to think is going to be a long time til we get him home, we are both a bit quiet.

We decide to escape the ward and head down to the cafe, the one run by volunteers, profits helping where ever they can.  Tucked into his wheelchair, with carrot cake and tea we chat, it feels almost normal.  We decide to make this a regular daily treat, a little bit of the usual amid the unusual.  We shall look forward to this.

I have been thinking how this life has become so natural, it is surprising how at home I feel in this place. Familiar faces everywhere, from the nursing staff and doctors to the other visitors, all of us making the best of tricky situations.

I will be back later today, and am planning another excursion.  There is a beautiful atrium in the hospital and we shall go and sit under the rainy skies and enjoy a change in environment for a while.  Making the best of this is the best I can do.  We are making memories, even if some won’t be remembered with affection.  No day should be wasted, because in truth each day is all we have.




Day 14 and all the days before

Day 14 – two weeks in and I am really wishing I had been writing each day during this crazy period, but the truth is I have been far too exhausted and emotional to even switch the laptop on.

So, let’s recap, it was two weeks ago today, a warm and sunny Sunday in North Wales.  I spent the day in the garden, digging out the old plants, tidying the borders, good therapeutic work, after weeks of uncertainty about hubby’s health.  Delayed admission to hospital to begin to mend his broken heart, he has become more and more poorly, these are worrying times.  This Sunday I persuaded him to join me in the sunshine and he sat on the bench, chatting and watching me dig and toil.  It began to feel almost normal.  My phone, for weeks glued to my body awaiting the most important call of all, was on the table indoors.  We heard it ring and I dashed, just too late, I had missed it.  Luckily, I had the hospital numbers on speed dial and within minutes we learned that at last there was a bed!!!  We were on our way to the rainy city where people could operate and fix his heart.

The drive there was tricky, sat nav got us most of the way and good luck did the rest. Unfamiliar roads then, have quickly become second nature.  Soon he was allocated the precious bed, I wanted to take a photo of it, such a rare thing.  Then, I left him, in the good care of people who understood, I felt emotional and a bit shaken but I was optimistic that soon he would be healthy again.  I would get my strong and capable husband back. The person I can rely on for everything, from carrying shopping to driving distances, my friend, my partner, I have missed him.

When we heard later that night that the operation could be done the next day we were both thrilled, we hoped that this will be sorted soon. Alas it was not to be, not this time nor the next time or the one after that.  Each operation cancelled at the last minute, it seems hubby is not well enough for surgery.  I cannot explain the feeling of hopes dashed time after time, the worry and concern.  We had thought admission to hospital would be the beginning of becoming well, it seemed at times that he was actually getting worse not better.  Problems with other organs are detected, they need more doctors, more tests, on and on and on it goes.

During this last two weeks I have visited daily, sat beside his bed time spent talking and sometimes watching him sleeping, he is exhausted by breathing and lying in bed.  I have spoken with nurses, with doctors, they all agree, he is not a well man.  This is very tricky.  I am eighty miles from home in a once strange city that is now becoming very familiar.  I have been wrapped up with the love of friends and family who have offered their homes, their support and their time to take care of me, and yet it is all difficult.  I have driven miles and miles between beds, toting my wardrobe in a suitcase, most of my life is in my car.  Nothing feels right.

Visiting times are long and yet the time passed quickly it is almost restful.  Sometimes I just sit, holding his hand, other times we can chat and laugh. Once, last week I managed to take him off the ward in a wheelchair for an hour of normality in the café downstairs. We were hopeful things were improving, but a week on we are no further forwards.

I know they can fix him, I understand more about hearts and surgery than I ever wanted to, I understand the importance and the irony of him having to be 100% well to have an operation to make him well.  None of it matters, we will do this.

I think the most difficult thing is the isolation, that despite the love and care people are offering to me, I still feel completely alone.  I am responsible for getting myself to and from the city, for talking to the doctors and trying hard to understand what is really going on.  They say the operation may happen this week, I am trying not to hope, instead consoling myself with the facts.  He is in the right place, people are caring for him and we are no longer trying to manage on the hill.

I no longer lie awake at night listening to him coughing, checking his breathing, for this I am grateful.I am grateful for other things.  For the kindness of strangers, the man at the reception desk late one night in a hotel across from the hospital.  I couldn’t face driving another mile, he found me a room,  with kindness and a smile, he did the best he could to get me a good deal.  As I type this I have just checked out of that room, I kept it for an extra night, the luxury of walking across the road to the hospital to visit has been fabulous.  I came into the bar area to sit and wait until visiting time, and the same kind man offered me a coffee.  I set up my laptop, writing has always been a great way for me to pass time, and within minutes another member of the staff team brings me a coffee to the table.  Little things, they mean a lot.

As with every experience I look for the lessons.  I know that this is nowhere near over, that at best I have another two weeks or more to spend in this city, maybe a lot longer, and yet already I  have been reminded of the good in the world.  People who go just a bit further, the nurses, there have been more than one, who have hugged me out of sight of the ward, who don’t pretend it is all ok, they know it is not.  This is day to day stuff for them and yet they make me feel special.  I wonder if they know what a difference they make?  Then the doctors, again, there have been many, who sit beside us, and sometimes just with me, they explain over and again the issues, answering question and helping us to understand what is happening.  The young registrar who coped well with my tears, moving me to a private room and spending time to reassure me, they have this covered.

Back on the ward I watch other wives, mothers, daughters and partners sitting beside beds, all hoping for the best.  The Mum that is two years in to her son’s admission, who visits daily and does everything she can to keep him calm.  The wife who sits for hours reading aloud to her husband, he cannot talk to her, or move for himself, but I am sure he can hear her.  All of us share smiles, and stories, in the day room and across the beds.  Part of a club that no one wants belong to, we keep on keeping on.  Another lesson for life.

I tell hubby often that this is but a moment in time.  We shall get through this, and life will go on.  We will walk again along the Welsh coastline, in warm sunshine and laugh as we always do.  Grateful for this life we have, we will watch our family grow and prosper, and we shall grow old together.  One thing I know is that I shall never, ever again take life for granted.

So, back to the beginning, it is Day 14 of this adventure.  I shall walk across the road shortly and visit, hopefully we will chat and he will be on good form.  Today he is getting a visit from our precious Granddaughter, which I hope will lift his spirits, her Mum and Dad are driving up from the countryside to spend time with her Pops.  This means the world to me.

I have no clue what next week will bring, we may well be in exactly the same position as we are today, and this is tricky for someone who loves a plan.  I am learning what is actually means to take one day at a time, to have no control over events and to have to go with the flow.  It is all I can do.

I cannot write all this without talking about the NHS.  The treatment offered free of charge at the point of need is simply the most valuable asset we have.  We need to hold it close and fight fearlessly against those who want to change things.  The people I have witnessed this last two weeks are hard working and skilled, of course they are, but more than that, they are part of a team, a culture that could never be built again.  The different uniforms, from the suits of surgeons, to the scrubs of theatre nurses, the greens, whites, blues of the nurse’s shirts, each showing the part of the team to which they belong.  Every one of them using their skills to make the machine that is the NHS work.  The sum of their parts is greater that each individual, another lesson for life.

I will not be part of the generation that wastes this, that casts it aside in the name of profit.  I will stand and fight every inch of the way against the media barons, the politicians and the business people who are circling above like vultures, waiting to pick the carcass clean.  A young doctor told me yesterday that the NHS is the best thing about this country, a country he has chosen to move to, to work in, and somewhere he can see the value of.

I think of my Dad’s family, of his sister who died in childbirth, along with her baby, because the family could not afford a doctor, and his eldest sister who lost a leg for the same reason.  I think of my Mum’s Dad, the Granddad I never knew, who died of a heart attack as a young man.  His son became the first man in the family to live beyond fifty, thanks to heart surgery and the NHS.  These are real people who lived within living memory, and I know that without a fight, this world will come again. So, it is time for us to stand up and to say, enough, we will not allow you to take this away from us.  My Granddaughter is just three years old, I want her Grandchildren to have health care, free at the point of need, forever.




on helping the helpers

I have a temporary job here in Wales, just down the road from the hill, it is office based, full of smiley people who do their level best everyday to help those in need.

We work with people that most people would pass by, with those who would be judged and who are not sure how to help themselves.  It is a tough job, done with great good heart by people who give a damn.  It is my privilege to be part of this team albeit briefly.

If anyone was watching us at work I think we would look like worker bees, constantly moving between the offices and the community, grabbing a quick coffee on the way.  Mostly people are smiling, they certainly support each other, never a problem someone can’t offer an idea about.  Yet amid all the activity are real people with real lives and sometimes it is worth looking at the helpers.

It makes me think about all the other places I have worked in a team to offering to support and help where it is needed.  From youth work to refugee aid, I have seen people coming together to try and make things better for others.  Within these teams there are people who have struggled with life themselves.  Some have been poor, or poorly, have worried about family and loved ones, and yet despite all of this they come to work with a smile and get on with things.

These people are my heroes.  Looking above the smile and into the eyes is sometimes a giveaway, things are not as good as they could be. Others are dealing with people who remind them of times gone by, bringing up unwelcome thoughts of problems in the past.  Yet, everyday there are such people turning up for work in all sorts of places and quietly getting on with trying to help, people who are making things better for others.

Wherever you are, whatever you do, there is always scope for helping.  A friendly smile, a light touch to the arm, eye contact and kind words, cost very little, but can mean so much.  Spare a thought for all the helping people, think about how they put themselves and their own worries and problems into a box while they reach out to others. Think as I do, how best we can help them.  Helping the helpers, it has be worth it.