Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Journal of a Living Lady #264

Journal of a Living Lady #264

Christmas has come and gone. I write this during the calm that followed the yuletide storm. Except for a nasty bout of stomach virus that hit a portion of the family, this was an exceptionally joyous season.

There were a couple of memorable experiences that will linger.  One was my being asked to narrate the church Christmas program with only a few hours notice. The original narrator’s voice went south unexpectedly.

My friends in the choir had spent months preparing for this major production and here I was up front, wired to a microphone, without a nary rehearsal. I surprised myself with the passion that came forth. Though I have read the Christmas story innumerable times, this time I felt a supernatural rush. Maybe it was because only moments earlier I was reflecting that without Christmas, there wouldn’t be an Easter. Without Easter, there wouldn’t be any hope for humanity. I had to tell that story with conviction and I did. The choir did a tremendous job. The program was the highlight of my Christmas celebration.

On a less serious note, I had predetermined that this Christmas would be fun in spite of the hustle and bustle of preparation. I stopped at a local jewelry store to leave my old high school charm bracelet to be repaired. The store was crowded with shoppers and the line at the cash register was growing lengthy.

I stood behind a young man who was probably in his early thirties. He apparently was selecting a gift for his lady, whether wife or girl friend I did not know. The nicely dressed man looked at expensive rings, necklaces, and pins. The clerk carefully removed each item individually from the case for his inspection. Finally he selected two exquisite diamond and gold items which, of course, he requested to be gift wrapped. I waited patiently, shifting from foot to foot, as the lone clerk wrapped the small gifts to perfection. When she handed him the package, I tapped him on the shoulder.

“Would you marry me?” I asked with a straight face. His mouth fell open. He stammered trying to think of a response. I let him off the hook with an energetic laugh telling him that whoever he was buying those gifts for was fortunate. I probably would be getting a blender.
I dared to try this one other time with an older gentleman at Wal-Mart. Just as he picked a ring for his sweetheart, I proposed. Without a pause, he replied, “Well, of course, darling. Where are we going for our honeymoon?”

This time I was tongue-tied. We both laughed and went back to our shopping.

‘Twas the season to be jolly.”


Friday, December 09, 2005

Journal of a Living Lady #263

Journal of a Living Lady #263

Nancy White Kelly

Oh, the holidays! God bless you each and everyone. We are as busy as ever. Once you have looked death in the eye, you don’t complain about busyness anymore. Every Christmas is a blessing, another chance to laugh at another year gone by without the grim reaper. Someday it will end here for all of us. Then comes the biggest move of our lives. But not yet.

I prefer to think about green and red. Bells and choruses. The manger scene. Candy canes and Christmas cards. Hopefully Christmas brings out the best in us with ample opportunities to visit with friends and family. This year we have a new grandbaby in the mix. Bobby and Ginger have two children, Mackenzie and Alex. Tori and Charlie have little Micah.

I remember my daddy saying that Christmas is for children. Yes, it is. But it is for us over-grown kids too. For a few festive days we can concentrate on our blessings. Later comes gray January and those dreaded tax forms.

But I shant think about that just now. Christmas is coming. I smell it in the air. But before that is Christmas Eve which is my birthday. The twenty-fourth of December really isn’t a bad time for a birthday. How wonderful to have been born on the eve of the celebrated birth of the Christ child. I’ll give deference to the King of Kings. Gladly.

Sunday, November 20, 2005

Journal of a Living Lady #262

Journal of a Living Lady #262

Nancy White Kelly

Some old friends recently moved to San Antonio, Texas, and invited us to visit. We took them up on the offer and invited some mutual friends to come along. Our original plan was to drive. When we discovered that it would be necessary to drive for two days each way, we opted for flying. Buddy’s was relieved. So was our son, Charlie. Though not a gambler, Charlie gave us odds of 85% to make it home safely.

When traveling, there are lots of arrangements to be made. Plane tickets. Lodging. Car rental.  The hardest part for pet owners is finding responsible care for left-behind animals. We solved part of our problem by trading weeks with Charlie. He and Tori agreed to keep our 12-year-old Chihuahua, Oppie. We agreed to keep their Chihuahua, Snickers, while they vacationed in California the following week.

However, what to do with Coco, our cat, was a major problem. We inherited this formerly stray cat from Charlie and Tori when Micah was born. Coco and Buddy are a cozy two-some. I am considered an intruder in the relationship unless I bear fishy food on a silver platter.

Coco couldn’t board with Charlie and Tori. Not with a baby and two dogs there already. Neither did we want to cage her. Coco is a free spirit. She does not like to be confined even briefly.

Since Coco goes in and out the pet door independently, we decided to let her have free reign of the house. Plenty of food and water was left and we departed for what we hoped would be a fun trip and a diversion from our daily routine. We didn’t see Coco when we departed for the airport, but her short disappearances are usual.

Buddy will be the first to admit that he is a worrier. Not me.  I don’t worry about things I can’t change. Besides, why worry? Buddy worries enough for half the population of the world.

Sure enough. We had been in Texas less than twenty four hours when Buddy began to worry about Coco. The next day he called Charlie’s former college roommate.  He asked Jared to go by our house to see if Coco was okay. Jared was also asked to check the garage in case she was accidentally locked inside.

Thirty minutes later, Buddy called a church friend, David, and asked to do exactly the same thing. I rolled my eyes at that second call.

As hours passed, Buddy’s anxiety level rose. He put in a third call, this time to our neighbor, Terry. Buddy asked him to search for Coco. Of course, he also asked Terry to check the locked garage. This was becoming a real-life version of “Has anybody here seen Waldo?”

That night Buddy checked with each of the searchers. Sadly, nobody had sighted Coco. Buddy disclosed the secret location of the house key and asked each one to check inside the house.  I dared not roll my eyes again as they might have locked into position. What lady relishes the idea of a man roaming the house where dust may linger or unmentionables hang?

After breakfast the next morning, Buddy called his close friend, Haydn, who lives nearby. Even though Haydn isn’t in the best of health, he volunteered to go inside the house and search for our missing tabby.

Coco has feline bi-polarity. Her mood changes quickly and drastically. She can be very, very affectionate or arrogant and aloof.  I could imagine silent Coco perched atop our dresser, casually preening, and wondering why all these strange people were calling her name.

By the third day, Buddy was miserable. If he could have flown home without upsetting the whole traveling party, he would have. Money for a full-fare ticket would have been no object to him. It certainly would have been to this family bookkeeper. Buddy has no idea how many items I sold on eBay to make this Texas trip less of a strain on Uncle Sam’s monthly allowance. But, thankfully, a sudden return trip wasn’t necessary.

Haydn called. Coco was fine. Buddy was relieved.

Less than an hour later, David called. Coco was in the house seemingly content. Buddy thanked him for his trouble.

Later than night, Jared called. Coco was okay. Without comment, Buddy thanked him for his effort. Terry, the neighbor, has since called. None of the four knew about the other.

This saga sounds like the plot for a new comedy movie, perhaps a sequel to Home Alone.
Be assured that if the Kellys ever go to Texas again, Coco will have a ticket.

Monday, November 07, 2005

Journal of a Living Lady #261

Journal of a Living Lady #261

Nancy White Kelly

A fine Christian gentleman and long-time Presbyterian pastor passed away a few months ago. Last week I met his charming widow. As can be expected, she is having difficulty adjusting to life without her long-time partner. Her eyes became misty as she recalled how her husband had helped pick out the family cat. That cat had become a great source of comfort during lonely days.

Her frail voice quivered as she went on to say that her beloved cat was recently killed by a neighbor’s dog. I gave her a hug. It was all I could give to help alleviate her obvious pain.

Probably it was a good thing that the neighbor’s dog wasn’t close by. As much as I love animals myself, I might have clobbered that dog for bringing such grief to such a precious little lady.

The widow withdrew from my embrace. Feeling comfortable with our budding camaraderie, she began sharing other distressing events in her life.

Yard work had become the lady’s therapy. She spent many hours outside pruning, planting, and mulching. One sunny day a transient neighbor stopped to speak and asked if she could use the bathroom.

“Of course,” she replied, motioning for the neighbor to go on inside. The guest was in the house only a few minutes. She thanked the widow, got into her car, smiled, waved, and then drove away. The widow lady got busy again with her gardening.

Several days later she discovered that someone had been using her credit card…BIG TIME. The widow remembered the visiting neighbor.

Apparently this widow had laid her credit card by the phone to make a contribution to a nationally-known TV preacher. The phone number that she was dialing stayed continuously busy. Wanting to return to her gardening, my friend left the card by the phone with intention to call later. It was shortly after that the itinerant neighbor had unexpectantly dropped by. In that brief interim, it seems that the neighbor left with a valuable, rectangular, plastic card. Charges have been brought against the neighbor. Forthcoming investigation revealed that the widow was not the only one scammed.

The lady ended our conversation with a shrug of her shoulders. “Probably the Lord was trying to teach me something.” She said. “I wish I could figure it all out.”

“I think I know what the Lord is teaching, “I said, forgetting the good advice to think before you speak.

“Yes, Mam,” I answered. “First, God is telling you that dogs and cats don’t bond well.   Secondly, He is telling you to never leave an unattended credit card in view of a stranger.”

My own frankness startled me. But maybe it helped. The little lady’s face lit up like the proverbial light bulb. I think she got it.

Sometimes you can’t see the forest for the trees.


Friday, October 28, 2005

Journal of a Living Lady #260

Journal of a Living Lady #260

Nancy White Kelly

I was looking through old family pictures last week and found a photograph of a middle-aged man I didn’t know. The picture was black and white and was probably taken in the sixties. The heavy-set man had bushy, undisciplined eyebrows atop twinkling eyes.

Then I remembered. That was Jake, the one and only Lucius Jacob McKinney. I met Jake at a writing seminar in Minneapolis, Minnesota years ago. We sat together for a few classes and had conversations that ran the gamut from serious to down-right funny. Jake could tell some tall tales, taller than any building Superman could have scaled. I think the story about his Uncle Robert and Cousin Luke was just that, a story. You be the judge.

According to Jake, Uncle Robert would frequently take his son, Luke, to the Mississippi River bank. For the entire week-end they would camp and troll for catfish. After a particularly good day of fishing, the father and son decided to fry up a few of catfish for supper. Luke’s mother always sent along oil and meal for frying.
It took a whit to get the fire going, but when the oil was hot, Uncle Robert quickly battered the catfish and dropped them into the boiling grease. After a few minutes, the crust turned a golden brown, but there was something different about this batch. White bubbles formed in the oil and a strange odor filled the air.

Uncle Robert figured maybe the fish were polluted or sick. Before taking a chance that his son would eat something toxic, he took a small taste. Without a moment’s hesitation, he immediately spit it back out.

Along with white corn meal, it seems that Jake’s wife had sent along some Tide washing powder. According to Jake, Uncle Robert and Luke had the cleanest fish in town.


Saturday, October 15, 2005

Journal of a Living Lady

Journal of a Living Lady #259

Nancy White Kelly

Where did the week go? The last few days are a blur. Thinking back, it has been a typical week. Routine chores: groceries, laundry, bill paying. Then there were the usual mid-week church activities. We visited a sick neighbor. Yesterday some friends invited Buddy and me for a spur-of –the moment pontoon boat ride, probably the last one of the season.

Today I have been studying and typing, preparing for a weekly Bible study that I teach. The subject has been The Case for Faith. As a class, we have examined ancient manuscripts, extra-biblical writings, and first-century eye-witness reports. PowerPoint slides illustrated scientific data that confirms Bible statements written centuries ago. Recent archaeological finds identify specific places, people, and events documented in the scriptures. The class has examined a few of the thousands of fulfilled biblical prophecies and is concluding with the best case for faith: Answered prayer.

Most regular readers are aware of my case, but wonder how this column came to be. My second diagnosis of cancer in the late 1990’s was considered terminal. On one of my good days, the publisher of this newspaper and I talked about death over lunch. We acknowledged it was a taboo subject that few people will discuss. Even fewer write about it. She wanted to know what it was like to know your life’s clock was winding down.

Our serious conversation was punctuated with more than a few laughs. Then the idea hit us both. Before dessert, I agreed to write a journal, chronicling a supposedly losing battle with cancer. It was to be objective but not maudlin. The column began as Journal of a Dying Lady, but eventually became the Journal of a Living Lady. The rest is history.

Quite often I am introduced as a local celebrity. That thought is amusing to me and was never a goal. Yet, being on Oprah, publishing a book about this cancer journey and having national TV cameras in town has brought notoriety. Frankly, it has been a hoot of a ride in spite of my dogged battle with the big C.

Even when in the hospital, tied to IV’s laced with Morphine, I wrote on scraps of yellow-lined paper that became my next column. My parents must have done something right. I grew up with a high regard for dependability and punctuality. While my older brother models tenacity, my spiritual faith is a tribute to a godly grandmother.  

Which brings me back to the subject of faith. I am a believer. With all my heart I revere the Bible. I defend its authenticity from cover to cover and even believe the cover because its says “Holy.” Some scoffing sophisticates suggest that you park your intellect at the door of the church before you enter. I respectfully disagree. Everything I have studied, past and present, supports intelligent design. It takes far more faith to accept something like the Big Bang theory than to trust what is written in the scriptures.

There is a vacuum within all of us that only God can fill. The Bible says, “Seek and ye shall find.” When I teach, I look around the classroom and notice the judges, professors, attorneys, and doctors seeking to know more about the Bible. The only losers are those who don’t open their minds and hearts to the sovereign, omnipotent Creator who hung the moon and the stars.

I believe in miracles. I am one.

Friday, September 30, 2005

Journal of a Living Lady

Journal of a Living Lady #258

Nancy White Kelly

Buddy claims that I am the most positive person he has ever known. True, I am by nature up-beat, but not always. While big things like cancer don’t overwhelm me, it is the little things that take a toll on my levity.

High on my pet peeve list are store owners who leave the open sign glowing in neon when the truth is that they left the building, along with Elvis, hours ago.

Of course, nobody can know the store isn’t open until they circle the parking lot a half dozen times before finding a parking place. Then the ritual begins. For me, it starts by ejecting the CD from the music player, unlatching my seatbelt, turning off the ignition, retrieving the keys, and pushing open the hundred-pound door. My torso practically groans as I twist my legs 90 degrees to the left before plopping my feet on the pavement. Then, with all the bodily thrust I can muster, I defy gravity and obtain a 12 o’clock standing position. My ritual is not finished until I close the hefty door, lock it, and place the car keys inside the zipper pocket of my purse.

A few feet away, I pull the stubborn store door handle. The resistance of the metal handle is undeniable. The store is closed. I utter a mild, non-cheerful bevy of disgust. If I were of a different gender and perhaps a sailor, my utterance would no doubt be profoundly profane.

Being a lady, I keep my lips sealed, but my blood is boiling and my face is red. I proceed to find my keys, unlock the car door and reposition myself in the driver’s seat. All, so unnecessary. Store keepers need to remember that signs are read and generally trusted. Don’t say you are open when you are not.

And then there is one other thing. If you are younger than me, please don’t call me darling, precious, honey, sweetheart, sugar or sweetie-pie. Believe it or not, I have been called all of these names within the last month. I know young people mean well, but I find such names patronizing. I am probably as least as old as their mother or more likely their grandmother.

While I may be a member of A.A.R.P., I am not senile and I don’t like to be spoken to as if a child. In fact, if you are a child, please do not refer to me by my first name. What happened to Mrs. Kelly? I am not your sand-box playmate.

I am not anybody’s darling. My parents died years ago. My former cat’s name was Precious. Buddy is the only one who can legitimately call me Sweetheart. I put sugar on my cereal and honey on my toast. I am not your sweetie-pie anymore than I am in love with the man in the moon.

Petty things, sure. With the world in the shape it is in, perhaps I shouldn’t even be speaking of such slights. Just humor me. Make your words mean what they say and don’t say what you don’t mean. It will be one small step toward rekindling the old days of mannerly society.


Friday, September 16, 2005

Journal of a Living Lady #257

Journal of a Living Lady #257

Nancy White Kelly

The Living Lady contest is past. Thank goodness. It was doomed from the beginning since the deadline for entries was inadvertently listed as the same date the contest began. Unfortunately, the only ones who knew all the right answers were ineligible. Nobody else even came close. Just goes to show I should have picked the questions myself. My friends meant well, all two of them. Me thinks I will stick to writing and forget about contests for a while.

Last Monday I had my monthly cancer treatment which includes a shot in the stomach that boosts my blood counts, one humongous injection in the posterior, and an IV full of fluid pumped into my implanted port. My body is more holey than Swiss cheese.

Not so many months ago I was in hospice. Since then, I have progressed from being a short-winded, barely breathing cadaver to a living lady thriving on spunk and prayer.  The reports from my recent bone scans and MRI’s were encouraging. No new metastasis. Even my laboratory sheet had far more normal scores than abnormal.

Buddy almost always accompanies me to Gainesville, Atlanta, or Gainesville for my treatments. For hours he waits patiently for me to complete my oncology routines. Never once has he complained. I insist that I can drive myself. He insists on coming anyway. He teasingly calls it, “Driving Mrs. Daisy.” If I had a dollar for every hour he has waited on me at a doctor’s office, I would be able to pay off the national debt. Husbands like that are hard to come by and I am most blessed.

Quite often I am asked to speak with somebody recently diagnosed with cancer. Yesterday I got a call and within an hour I was sitting across from two ladies I had never met. However, instead of  being the booster, I was the boosteree. What a pleasant surprise. These two ladies were determined to inspire me and they did. One was a cancer survivor herself. The other was a spiritual intercessor. I don’t even remember what we ate, but I came away knowing that this encounter was no accident. It was a divine appointment. The older lady spoke with great confidence. She told me that God had shown her that He wasn’t through with me yet and that even greater things lie ahead for me. I can’t wait to see what it is.

On the way home, I stopped by a babbling trout brook to reflect on the conversation with the women. Angels? I don’t know. Just maybe. They do exist.

Thursday, September 01, 2005

Journal of a Living Lady #256

Journal of a Living Lady #256

Nancy White Kelly

One of the most popular columns last year was a written contest regarding events in the Bible. Frequently I am asked when there will be another contest. Believe me, people take this contest thing seriously. On the closing day for entries last year, a not-to-be identified friend showed up at our door before breakfast with his entry.

This contest will reward those faithful readers of the Journal of a Living Lady who have really paid attention. I know of a few folks who have every column bound in albums. They take my writing way too seriously. I predict that many years from now, those faded collections of the once Living Lady will become starter for the greatest fire since Chicago. But, for now, I live. I write. I create little contests.

If you are a newcomer and haven’t read the book, Journal of a Living Lady, you still have a good chance to win if you have lots of time and minimal computer skills. This address will provide all the clues you need to get started: If that doesn’t work, try this alternate:

There are ten questions. Answers can be found in one or more of the previous 255 columns. Each one counts 10 points. In case of a tie, there are three difficult bonus questions. Don’t ask Buddy, our sons, or me the answers as we are totally mum until the contest has ended. The closing date for post-marked entries is September 10th at 4:00 p.m.

Our goal is to publish the name and home town of winners on September 22nd. The first three people who deliver the correct or most correct winning entry will receive a genuine silver bar or round. Those who score 100% or more will get honorable mention. Please note that this is not a Sentinel-sponsored contest. It is meant as a fun event so please be delightful even if you don’t win.

Entries can only be accepted if sent to: The Living Lady, 6156 Southern Rd., Young Harris, GA. 30582. Neither Buddy nor I answer the door to strangers, so please don’t make a personal delivery unless we know you or you have phoned ahead. Caveat: Personal deliveries need to be accompanied by a home-made banana pudding.

  1. The original name of this column was, “Journal of a ______________________.”

  1. Big Red and the eight______________ are still missing.

  1. We have an adopted son. What is his name? _____________________.

  1. Buddy was born in the state of _______________________.

  1. At some point in my life the living lady was a ventriloquist, vermiculturist, pilot, school principal, rodeo rider, numismatist, professional tennis umpire, Sunday School teacher. Is it some or all of the above.____________________________________

  1. A generous reader gave Buddy and the living lady an all-expense paid trip to _____________.

  1. The Living Lady attempted to give Buddy what kind of pet one Valentine’s Day_____________

  1. Our son, Charlie, got his B.S. degree from which college?______________

  1. The Living Lady was a guest on the _______________show in Chicago.

  1. The mayor of what great city surprised the Living Lady with a plaque declaring “Nancy Kelly Day?” ________________________

BONUS QUESTIONS (tie-breakers):

  1. Though different years, both of my parents died during the same month, on the same floor, in the same hospital in Memphis. What month was that? ____________

  1. What word was engraved on our wedding rings, written on our wedding cake, and is to be inscribed on a ribbon to be placed on my casket?__________________

  1. Who was Lily Jean?______________________


Thursday, August 18, 2005

Journal of a Living Lady #255

Nancy White Kelly

It isn’t easy making a dollar these days. I speak from experience.
For over forty years I have been keenly interested in old coins. The hobby is called numismatics. To hold an old coin is a delight to me as most coins are both artistic and historical.

I enjoy rubbing my fingers over the raised ridges and pondering where the coin has been. Did the silver thaler circulate during the Revolutionary war? Was the deutschmark, with its swastika, minted by the infamous Nazi Third Reich in the late 1930’s?

My numismatic hobby eventually became a side-line business. Though education was my profession, I bought and sold copper, gold and silver coins as occasions arose.

A couple of years ago I invested a goodly amount of money and time in obtaining credentials in coin appraisal. The purpose was primarily to improve my personal numismatic education, but also to give me credibility for doing professional numismatic evaluations for banks or estate executors.

It is not unusual for the phone to ring with an inquiry. The most common question is, “How much is my old coin worth?”

Recently Buddy took a call on the Old Money Commerce line from an elderly lady. It is hard to disguise his Mississippian dialect, but he tried. In his most professional voice, he told the lady that the “COE” would return the call shortly. I don’t fix cars, weed eaters, or airplanes. He doesn’t answer numismatic questions. We know our limitations.

The lady volunteered her age to be 93. She was in the process of preparing to move near relatives when she had found her old coins.

From the woman’s description, I determined that she had several Washington quarters, a couple of Kennedy half dollars, a few Indian cents and a handful of miscellaneous coins with faint or unreadable dates. I mentally calculated that the coins she was describing might net her $25 tops though I never make a guestimate by phone. So much is dependent on condition. Trained eye balls are needed to accurately grade coins as there is a considerable difference of opinion even among experts.

Normally I would not have been interested in her meager cache. Yet, her gentle, worn voice reminded me of my beloved grandmother who died at the age of 99. She is in heaven now and I miss her.

Contrary to good business sense, I agreed to look at her little collection. The lady gave me precise directions to her home. Buddy slipped me $25 cash and told me to add it to whatever I would offer. That wasn’t out of character for him. Buddy is a softie for old ladies. He had a wonderful mother who modeled generosity in spite of her own poor circumstances. She died not long ago at the age of 98. Buddy and I both miss her.

I arrived on time in spite of missing a turn and driving ten miles too far. The woman was standing on the porch. She opened the front door and motioned for me to sit at the kitchen table. The pensive woman removed the coins from her apron and slowly unwrapped them. The dull, hapless coins were squarely wrapped in old paper napkins surrounded by withered rubber bands. She patted the small pile as if it were a pet.

There was no need to pull out a reference guide to look up current values. It was obvious that she had little more than $10 worth of coins. While I made meaningless notes, the old woman pointed to scores of medicine bottles on the kitchen counter.

“Times are hard,” she related. I nodded in agreement. Profit went out the window. Charity came in. I know first-hand about the high price of medicine. I put $50 in her shaky hand and asked her if she thought that this was a fair amount.

“Whatever you say,” she said, resigning herself to the parting of her sentimental hoard. She reached again into her pocket.

“You can’t have this one,” she said, showing me one of the new state quarters that had been electronically colorized.

“A friend gave it to me,” she said, as she clutched the treasure to her chest. “It was from his last visit.”

“Sure, you keep that one,” I said hesitantly, trying to feign some sign of disappointment.

On the way home, the gas indicator on the car dash reminded me that I needed gas. I paid the cashier the best part of a $50 bill.

The irony of the situation made me laugh. I left that morning with $100 and was returning with an old lady’s change and a near-empty billfold.

I will never be a great entrepreneur. But that is okay. I slept well that night.

Sometimes it is not all about money.


Thursday, August 04, 2005

Journal of a Living Lady #254

Nancy White Kelly

Bob, Sue, Alan…if you phoned last week, please accept my apologies for not returning your call. I have a wonderful husband, but he has a few minor flaws. One is his memory. Sometimes he forgets to tell me when someone calls though we have a white board for recording messages. When Buddy does recall that somebody phoned me, he usually relays only the first name. That is my dilemma today. I don’t know which Bob, Sue or Alan phoned. I must go down the check list.

Bob Davis? Bob Alwine? Not likely since I just saw them at church yesterday and neither mentioned it. Bob Zuegel? Haven’t seen or heard from him in several months. Besides, he would be more likely to want to speak to Buddy in that they worked together at Eastern Airlines years ago.

My brother, Bob White? No, Buddy says. He would remember that voice. Bob, my youngest brother, mumbles softly, as in a subdued whisper. That is a strange voice for a gentle giant who is over 6 feet tall and ports a full beard and long hair.

Bobby, our adopted son? Could be since he calls me several times a week. If so, the call probably wasn’t urgent. Just chit-chat.

Bob Cleveland? Not likely. Bob and I met because of this column. He and wife, Peg, came all the way from Birmingham to visit me one November when I was in the hospital and nigh unto death. They even came to Charlie’s wedding. Bob is a retired insurance executive and promising writer. We enjoy a friendly relationship, but have never phoned each other. My guess is that it wasn’t Bob Cleveland.

There are other Bobs I know, of course, and several named Robert. I can think of none who has unfinished business or an on-going conversation with me. Oh, well, I may never know which Bob called.

Then there was a Sue. My friend, Sue Kazmierczak lives in Michigan. We met on the Internet and she has been an overnight guest in our home. Surely Buddy would recognize her distinctly Northern accent.

Sue Heinish is Max’s wife. She could have called, but her husband generally does the phoning. Max and Buddy worked together at the airlines also. Sue and I share a love for flowers.

Sue Tate might have called. We attend church together and have a mutual interest in moral concerns on a national level. Yet, I have signed all current petitions and pleading letters to Congressmen and Senators. There is no immediate issue I am aware of that needs to be addressed. Besides, I am confident that this Sue would have called back.

My friend, Sue Bove? She is a semi-retired missionary with New Tribes Missions who spent several years in Indonesia. Sue and her husband, Mike, visit frequently. I think she knows Buddy well enough to know that she needs to speak with me regarding a vist. That is, if they expect clean sheets and meals.

And which Alan? Allan Driskell, our Sunday School teacher? No, Buddy says. Alan Black, my brother-in-law. No, Buddy says again. Nobody could mistake his distinctively slow, Southern drawl. Well, Alan Ladd is dead and why would he call me anyway?

If it were Haydn, Margit, Teen, or Febe, I would not be having this problem. I only know one of each.

So Bob, Sue, Alan. Again, please accept my apology for not returning your call. Come by the house if you really need to talk. I’ll leave the porch light on for you.

Thursday, July 21, 2005

Journal of a Living Lady #253
Nancy White Kelly

Sharon and I not only shared the diagnosis of breast cancer, but a love of writing and life in general. Ironically, we both enjoyed the works of William Penn. You probably don’t remember him, but you may recognize this famous quote: “I expect to pass through this world but once. Any good therefore that I can do, or any kindness or abilities that I can show to any fellow creature, let me do it now. Let me not defer it or neglect it, for I shall not pass this way again.”

Sharon, who proudly hailed from North Carolina, is now deceased. She died sooner than we both had imagined. Sharon once told me that she would not give cancer the starring role in her life. I never forgot that. Sharon died being Sharon, not Sharon the cancer victim, but Sharon, the dynamic, caring, witty woman she was. She succeeded in keeping her identity in spite of the cancer that overwhelmed her body. I hope to do the same.

This Living Lady wants to be remembered as a unique individual who strived to make a difference in this world. It is my belief that if you aren’t a good example for others, you probably are a terrible warning. I certainly won’t go down in history for notable wealth or fame, but hopefully no one will be able to truthfully say I did any harm.

Last week I stopped by the cemetery where Buddy and I have plots. Several friends are buried near our own coffin-sized parcels of earth. Other friends, still living, have plots nearby and even adjoining. None of us are in a hurry to pitch our tents. Yet, we laugh among ourselves. With vivid imagination, we have on occasion described the great underground festivity we will someday have, complete with old-fashioned party lines and deviled worms.

Of course, none of us believe a word of it. All of us are sincere believers in the real afterlife. It promises to be more glorious than anything we can envision. With the exception of those cremated or entombed in mausoleums, our dead soulless physical bodies will someday descend to the last frontier six feet below. From dust we began and to dust we return. But our soul, that indestructible part of you and me, will continue for eternity.

Some people say it is not the destination that matters, but the journey. I beg to differ. For eternal matters, it is not the journey, but the destination.

In case you think I lost my sense of humor, I have not. There is a season for everything…reflection, sadness, joy, and even laughter.

Not so long ago, Rowland Lawrence LaPrise passed peacefully in his sleep at the age of 83. You remember Larry LaPrise don’t you? He wrote the infamous song, “Hokey Pokey.”

Getting Larry LaPrise into the coffin turned out to be a stressful event for the LaPrise family. You know what that was all about. They put his left foot in and then the trouble started.

Saturday, July 16, 2005

Journal of a Living Lady #252

Nancy White Kelly

Readers: This is a special edition of my column, an extra one. Last week I left you hanging about our ill grandson. Unbeknown at the time, Charlie wrote about the emotional experience in his own journal. I feel compelled to share it. If you wish to respond to him, his email address is

Wow. What a time it has been. For those that don’t know, here is a quick summary.
Micah, at five-months old, looks to be a very normal baby, albeit his head is a little on the large size. His head was in the 25 percentile when he was born and around the 75 percentile later. At his last check-up, Micah’s head was in the 95 percentile. Anything below 100% is “normal.” There are babies with heads well over the 100% percentile.
Micah was also born with a small murmur (that the doctor no longer hears and was/is supposed to heal on its own). Micah also had a small cyst that can be somewhat common with premature babies. It is not extremely abnormal for a baby to have a head in the 95% percentile. Doctors do become concerned when the baby’s head, not large at birth, becomes bigger. This does not HAVE to mean there is trouble, but it can.
There is a condition known as hydrocephalus. It basically means fluid on the brain. One of several causes is a cyst on the brain. Needless to say, since we found this out, we have been very, very concerned. The doctor ordered a CT scan for today.
The last couple days have been rough ones... days that included petitioning God on Micah’s behalf. It was a very reconnecting time for God and me. It is a shame that it takes a crisis, isn’t it? I definitely asked for God to heal Micah. To let him be OK.
I really felt that God laid the story of Esther on my heart. I spent some time with God and that story. I know you probably know the Old Testament story, so I won’t repeat it. I really related to Esther. I felt like I was petitioning God in the same way.
God gave me a peace about the situation. It is tough to ask God to heal your son, but then to say with all the sincerity you can muster, “Not my will, but yours be done.”
I tried to imagine what things would be like if we got a bad report. It involves a life-long battle: a plastic tube is inserted for the rest of your life, having to be lengthened as you grow; dealing with clogging and infection; and possibly being delayed mentally and physically.
I tried to think of ways that God would still use Micah. And how, down the road, we could look back and see that God used Micah for good in spite of his problems. That is a difficult reality to imagine. Yet, I felt a peace about it just the same. But still, if it was OK for Esther to plea, then it was OK for me.
So today, having been wearied by the previous days, we went down to Gainesville to have Micah’s CT scan. Poor little fella didn’t even know where he was going. We got to the hospital about 6:30 this morning. There was a little confusion about whether he was supposed to have a CT scan or an MRI. The staff confirmed that it was a CT scan.
Tori and I fed Micah and then placed him on a pillow on the long, narrow tray of the scanner. Like the good baby he is, Micah fell right asleep (with his pacifier and clutching his favorite blue doggy blanket). He never woke up during the whole scan.
We couldn’t get the results right away. The radiologist would have to dictate what he saw and send the report to our pediatrician. It could be today or it could be tomorrow before we got the results. That was the equivalent of eternity.
Tori and I went on with our day. We ate breakfast, went to a church staff meeting and then went home. A while later, Tori decided to call the doctor’s office to see if the results were in. They were.
The doctor said the CT scan showed nothing. There was no fluid. The report did not even mention a cyst.
After Tori hung up, we said a very genuine prayer of thanks to God. I tell you it was all Him. I got a little choked up and headed to the backyard to be by myself. For the first time in who knows how long, I cried. My face streaked with tears of joy. I think it was from the overwhelming feeling – not as much of Micah being OK – but of the awesome feeling of experiencing God’s hand of mercy and deliverance.
And still…if some medical complication ever develops, or whenever the next bad thing happens, I feel confident in the sovereignty of my Lord. God on the hilltop is God in the valley. And today, he has delivered Micah…..whose name indeed means, …. “Who is like the Lord?”
PS 107:19 Then they cried to the LORD in their trouble,
and he saved them from their distress.
PS 107:20 He sent forth his word and healed them;
he rescued them from the grave.
PS 107:21 Let them give thanks to the LORD for his unfailing love
and his wonderful deeds for men – Mother of Charlie, grandmother of Micah
Journal of a Living Lady #251
Nancy White Kelly

Our son, Charlie, and wife, Tori have just celebrated their third wedding anniversary. They are to leave tomorrow for a much needed and deserved vacation in Colorado. Both worked two jobs, completed their Masters Degrees, and had their first baby this year. Amazingly, they still have their sanity. It makes me tired just thinking about the pace they have been keeping. The only negative to their trip is that we have their dog. Snickers is supposed to be a Chihuahua. Believe me, it is our unprofessional opinion that Snickers lied on her birth certificate. She looks more like a miniature Doberman with her long legs and standing ears. We have a Chihuahua ourselves. Snickers and Oppie don’t even look like kissing cousins.

Snickers got off to our bad side several months ago when, as a puppy, she baptized our carpets and left us other undesired gifts. However, she is much better now and we tolerate her. Snickers is used to sleeping in bed with Charlie and Tori. Naturally, she thinks our bed is her bed at night. Neither Buddy nor I care for animals in our bed, but what we won’t do for our kids. Last night Snickers had her head in-between mine and Buddy’s. Buddy asked me if that meant three cups of coffee in the morning instead of the usual two.

We also have Charlie and Tori’s cat. They gave Coco to us just before baby Micah was born. We gladly took the former stray cat because we didn’t want any jealous animal harming our new grandson. The intent was to find her a good home. She has one. Right here in the Kelly household.

I was told last week that when an animal brings you their prey, they are showing much affection for you. I wish Coco didn’t love us so much. I shutter to walk down the hall way at night. So far I have been greeted with frogs, lizards, and birds. Once Coco left the gourmet insides of some yet to be identified creature.

Most of the critters that I find in the hall way are still alive, though severely traumatized. Coco enjoys toying with her prey before they become her dinner. Despite her displeasure, I mercifully rescue them from their definite dormant fate. I turn them loose to live once again in the outdoors. However, I am certain Coco has brought me the same stupid frog twice.

I am afraid the best laid plans of mice and men so often go astray. We just got a phone call that the baby is sick with a high fever. The trip to Colorado is off. So, while we baby-sit the dog, we fret over Micah’s latest medical emergency. He is in the hospital with an I.V. in his head. The doctors have ruled out spinal meningitis, Praise the Lord. And, to think, we were perturbed over a six pound dog crowding our bed.
Journal of a Living Lady #250
Nancy White Kelly

All optimists can say amen to William Ward’s renowned quote: “A cloudy day is no match for a sunny disposition.” It is all in attitude.

With acknowledgement to Paul Harvey, this is the rest of the story about my surgery for blepharoptosis. A month has passed. My attitude about plastic surgery has changed from an immediate, “I wish I hadn’t” to an eventual, “I am glad I did.”

I detest the ugly advertising billboards that curtail the panoramic view of the nearby mountains. Yet, I can read them now without the slightest effort to raise my eyebrows. The clouds above me have seemingly doubled in height. They appear as voluptuous curtains surrounding the vault of heaven. The Beatles sang in the 60’s, “I can see clearly now.” So can I. The only question to ask is, “What took me so long?”

For a couple of weeks after my droopy eyelids were surgically eliminated, my face looked as if Rocky Balboa and I had gone at least three rounds. Large bruises around my puffy eyes went from maroon-red to an ugly dark purple. Prickly stitches protruded from the far corner of each eye like unruly weeds.

Ten days after my surgery, still house-bound, I looked for my Buddy, the best husband and male nurse anywhere. I had a honey-do request, but could see from the den window that he was busy. Buddy was far out in the pasture rubbing Fly-Off on the horses.

Donning sun glasses and a wide-brimmed hat, I ventured to the post office myself. The disguise didn’t help. Heads turned several times.

I can read minds. Most of the curious lookers assumed that I was the victim of spousal abuse. A few thought that surely I deserved it.

All I wanted was my stamps and a hasty exit. Unfortunately the man in front of me was attempting to mail packages to Tahiti. The quick glances in my direction were bothersome. While impatiently tapping my foot, I thought of a few things I would like to have had printed on my over-sized tee-shirt: “Keep staring. I’ll show you my tongue piercing and dentures.”

Because the removal of my droopy eyelids was so successful, I have seriously considered Lasik surgery for the first time. It could put an end to my near-sightedness and astigmatism. Friends warn me that Lasik would not eliminate my need for reading glasses. I already have several pair of the drugstore type scattered around the house. Reading spectacles are a nuisance, but I could live with the hassle for reading.

Yet, there is that issue of green stuff. I accepted financial reality long ago. Money doesn’t grow on trees. Never will there be a federal Santa Claus coming down the chimney with a voucher for laser eye surgery. Regulation 20/20 says that Medicare doesn’t consider shedding glasses a medical necessity.

Money is an object of consideration in our household. As with most Social Security recipients, the sugar bowl gets pretty empty by the end of each month. Buddy will eat oatmeal only so often.

If my blatant poor mouthing and lack of total visual acuity is causing tears of pity to flow, grab a tissue and a pen. Send your 401K to the Kelly Total Vision Fund, 6156 Southern Rd., Young Harris, GA. Though it isn’t tax deductible, you can sleep well tonight knowing that you have helped replug the fountain of youth and given even clearer sight to one matronly lady. On second thought, save your cash. You would just be throwing good money after bad. If I live long enough, I will surely have cataracts that will obscure my vision again.

The living lady is truly content, happy and grateful. And, I actually have a sister named Sunnie.

Be it hereby known that Nancy White Kelly is blessed beyond measure even if wearing glasses on a cloudy day.

Books are $15 each postage paid. Send check to:
6156 Southern Rd. Young Harris, GA 30582
Previous columns (#1-249) can be read at