Cristi’s gang

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We’ve met Christi, zillion years ago. I had a garage sale back in the days when material possessions filled a hole of misguided self-esteem, my children kissed my cheeks with butterfly kisses while circling their small tender arms around my neck, and a stranger on a motorcycle stopped by to take a look. His charismatic personality took charge of the conversation and soon we found out a commonality amongst us, we were both Romanian-Americans and lived only five minutes apart.

Throughout the years we stayed close, mostly due to Christi’s great communication skills, something both Chet and I need to work on and together we have seen good times, laughter, hard times, surgery, loss, cancer, and then some more good times. His wife, Irina, is a hard-working woman with the cutest dimples I’ve ever seen:) His daughters are great and his mom is a very intelligent woman with fantastic stories to tell.

Saturday we celebrated his 59th B-day, a celebration done amongst close friends and family members, good people with hard working ethics, smart and caring. Being amongst them fills my heart with warmth and love every time and I am grateful for their friendship. Chet, who has a high regard for all our Romanian friends, loves his relationship with Christi even if his sense of humor makes Chet blush at times.

Christi’s plans for his 60th B-day are big, bright and full of life, as he is. He’s always had great stories of communism harassment, time spent in Africa under his father’s guidance exploring archeological settings, coming to America, legal risks he took in this new land of opportunities, successes, and failures but mostly a long life lived well. I love listening to those stories, I love seeing his adventurous spirit carve unpredictable new roads in his life.

I look forward to seeing what the future holds for both Christi and his wife, Irina, but of one thing I’m sure of -it will not be boring.

God Bless.

Our small gang:)

I’m sorry, it has been a while since my last post. IMG_0397I have been quite involved with life in a fantastically good way.

First of all, my book is going to come out in the Romanian version soon, and I have been working with couple printing and distribution companies back home. We’ve summited the cover page just last week, designed by Chet and Meleah, and its due to come out on the market back in Romania in the coming weeks. I’ll put a link on the blog once I have one to share with you, for those who read Romanian and would love to purchase a copy:)

Yesterday I finished my 24-hour CE (Continual education) required for renewing my massage therapist license and I want to do more research into the wonderful sources and discoveries linking the autoimmune and trauma to illness and chronic illness.

I’m working on my second novel, a true story of my brother Sergiu’s life and his road to a better life.

Today, my friends came over to visit and wish me an early Happy B-day:) The fact that we were, once again, around the table, eating and chatting about our lives was fantastic. Gosh, I’ve missed them and our times together. There’s nothing more beautiful than good friends around a table full of good food, good conversation, and love.

Yes, Nicole, I am writing from my corner desk in my bedroom with the nice view of the park on one side and the trees on the other side, and its a wonderful privilege I’ve dreamed of since I was 8 years old.

May life be full of good friends, good conversations, and good food on our tables. But when it’s not -those stages of life no one dreams of going through- may you and I hold on to the great memories built throughout the good times.

Now go make good memories, laugh harder and surround yourself with as much love as you can possibly handle, and if you’re at a stage in life where true love is a figment of your imagination and reality sucks, hold on to the hope that one day it will change, but don’t forget to be grateful for it when it does change.

God Bless.

 

Simona- my cousin

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First picture. Simona on her baptism day with a local friend.

Second picture.  Bunch of friends from the Baptist church Simona and her family attended on her older brother, Alin’s eighteenth B-day Party (not in the picture, in fact I do not have a picture of him). Simona and I are in the back, the two youngest kids there:)

In actuality, Simona is my third cousin on my mother’s side. Same as Mirela, but that’s another story for another time.

It was Simona’s father, Ionel, who enticed my parents to move all the way from Moldova to Transylvania, more precisely to the young city of Hunedoara, where a new steel factory just got built and jobs were “falling from the skies” so to speak. Moldova’s economy was in ruin, not sure if much of that changed today, and most of the young people migrated south, west and east all over the country, where jobs were easier to come by. Sergiu was the first-born in Hunedoara, (Alin and I were born in Botosani). My young parents moved to Hunedoara in 1976 and left that town only recently, moving closer to their remaining children in Romania. The move was unexpected and sudden due to my mother’s declining health.

Unlike me, Simona grew up in a much smaller family. Her only sibling was an older brother, Alin. The age and gender gap forced a lonely Simona childhood on Simona. However, during her adolescence that loneliness was well-balanced with a very active social life in the local Baptist church she attended. There she began her singing career and her lovely voice is also passed down to her one and only daughter.

Both her parents worked which it simply meant a better financial life, overshadowed by the high pressures for academic success. My parents never seemed to have time or interest about our academic success and we surprised ourselves how well we still did in spite of that. Simona’s parents on the other hand were hands on, diligent and persistent. Learning English was one of those academic demands and I was very glad she learned the foreign language, especially after I met Chet. I would take my letters and run all the way to her apartment eager to find out what Chet wrote to me. After words, with a  dreamy expression on our faces, we would lie down on her sofa or sit outside on her enclosed balcony wondering what a married life had to offer to our livers or how different American life was from ours. I would soon found out about both. I knew I was blessed with Chet in my life, and I saw the longing in many of my female friends but I couldn’t do anything about it except share pieces of this unique experience with some of them. Simona and I sure shared some nice times together:) Younger by a couple of year we hung out with each other only when we were allowed by our parents. I had a couple rare and precious sleep overs at her apartment and I loved the quietness, the books she had and the board games we played. Also the food, hmm, she always had good food:)

My first “majorat” as it is called in Romanian, which stands for turning eighteen, the age when you’re considered an adult in Europe, meaning you can drink (which we did not do) it was for Alin, Simona’s older brother-second picture. I was young both in age and mind, naive and gullible. In fact, Simona and I were the youngest two out of everyone there and tried hard to fit in and play along the fun games that were totally foreign to me. I lost a lot and tried to keep up a brave facade but I had a wonderful time that evening. The Christian parties of that time were very safe and had such an innocence to the whole experience, something I appreciated both then and later on in life.

Well, my little cuz (short for cousin) was a fresh breath of air for me, and I do remember one of my best friends having a crush on her, something that brought a touch of jealousy in my heart at the time:)))))

While in a three-day fever unconscious state, between the ages of 10-13 years old (can’t remember exactly), I do remember in one of my brief waking moments, Simona’s mother, miss Ghinuta, sitting with my mother by my bed side holding a bag of apples, apples she brought along for us. I always preferred fruits over deserts. I opened my eyes and they were talking to each other only to slip back into darkness for another twenty hours. Miss Ghinuta and her husband Ionel were always nice to me. Alin too, even though her liked to tease us any chance he got. At least his sense of humor was not dangerous and painful:)

Simona, if you read this, and I hope you will, I miss you and I look forward one day to see you and catch up on life:))))))

Thank you God for my cuz:)

Chet-Happy B-day:)

Meant to be a Jill (his mom though Chet was going to be a girl and both parents were very surprised when Chet turned out a boy:), Chet was born in a young family of three. His older brother, Mark, is his only other sibling.

As a young boy Chet was very cute and his sweet personality was a breath of fresh air. His childhood was a normal one, shadowed now and then by his older brother’s teasing episodes. From an early age, Chet became fascinated with comic books, motorcycles and drums. As a result he began played drums in 7th grade, worked and purchased his first motorcycle at the young age of thirteen and owned a few nice comings books which he read often, loosing himself in the fascinating world of superheroes.

As a teenager he was extremely shy when it came to his interaction with the opposite sex and kept busy with his small gang of friends; John Adams, Mike Swanzey and Jeff Reid, getting in a bit of mischievousness.

After high-school, Chet moved out of Kingston and lived with his grandfather, Charlie, in Seattle. He had a series of odd jobs, some lasting only two weeks. At the age of nineteen Chet became a believer and wanting to be prepared for the mission field, in case he felt a calling in that direction, he moved to Bremerton where he began working in construction for couple of years. Not cut out for construction work, Chet moved back in with his parents, worked for Puget Sound and continued his collage night classes education. During this time he saved a good amount of money intent on going into the aviation school then career, but the start of the Golf War in 1990 put a stop to that dream.

His brother, Mark, who just graduated from film and video college pulled him into a new direction- a career in film and video production. Together they began a small business, that took a while to get off the ground.

In 1993, Chet got on a plane to Romania as a videographer of a local missionary team from Bainbridge Island leaded by John Stabb and met me, Carmen:) Six months later he returned to Romania, we got married and came back to America in October of the same year. Together, we had three children: Merrill, Meleah and Alex. Chet had a few jobs but slowly prospered in his film and video field, specializing in video editing. Today he works full-time at Amazon as a video editor and he absolutely loves it.

As a family man he moved around quite a bit, and settled in Seattle for the time being.

As a father, Chet is fantastic. His patience and common sense have been a God sent blessing and he absolutely loves spending time with his children.

As a husband Chet is the best. His patience and understanding helped me get over some part trauma, something I’m sure wasn’t easy on him at times but Chet was committed from the moment he said “I do.” He still owns comic books, a motorcycle and loves playing drums (even if not as often as he would like) and we have a great life together. To me Chet was absolutely God sent and I love spending my life along-side him. I absolutely love his dimples when he smiles:)

Today, is Chet’s B-day!!!!! Happy B-day my love and I wish you all the happiness in the world. The other emotions are more private and meant only for him;)

Thank you God for blessing this world with such a great man like Chet McKnight, and I know I speak for my kids and all the people that know him when I say: Chet’s a really great guy:)

Carmen the…

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First picture; left to right, me in my second or third grade, clearly uncomfortable:)

Second picture; Chet and I on our wedding day. The malnourishment made me light:)

Third picture; my family as of last week, Chet, Merrill, Alex and Meleah:)

Writing about one self its a bit deceiving; you’re either too biased or too hard on yourself and overall one sided.

I’ve had a few nick-names so its hard to pick just one. Is it Carmen the Dreamer, the Writer, the Fighter, the Captain or the Ice Queen? It’s all of them, I suppose.

Born the first of twelve siblings, my life was both wonderful and hard. My birth wasn’t without its challenges. Shots of Vit. D and Iron for the first year or so, along other health issues somehow gave the doctor the right to pressure my mother into killing me. It wasn’t just my health issues that triggered such a decision but compiled to that it was his deep hatered towards christians. You see, I was a seedling of a very hated group of people in my part of the world at the time and I was not alone. In an atheistic world, being born a Christian was dangerous, and we have the scars to prove it.

A “sensitive soul”, with an over-developed ability or gift of empathy I collected other’s pain in my heart as if my life depended on it. The society’s abuse towards us made sense to me- we were a moral danger to a movement that thrived on egocentricity and cruelty. But our father’s abuse towards us never made sense to me. In times when one must stick with each other in an environment called “home”, meaning “safe”, he became our number one enemy, burning all my ideologies on “safe home” right out of my heart. However, beyond reasons I couldn’t understand and logic I couldn’t explain, except to call it hope, with every rare smile, joke or laughter my father had, a fragile hope seed grew in my heart “maybe he’ll change”. The hope lasted no longer than mere fragments of time until the next wave of darkness took a hold of him. Books, that’s where I found my refuge, not church, society or social interactions. That’s where I could dream freely and imagine the world I wanted to live in. I think I was a bit of a loner, yet with a great deal of charisma.

Being the oldest, I worked constantly skipping on childhood and adolescence all together.

Right after high school, I began working twelve hours shifts, seven days a week at an ice-cream and soda-pop kiosk, very popular at the time. I was very greatful for my $6 a month salary, it was similar to my father’s salary. I was not allowed to go to collage, due to my gender and lack of money, something that made me very bitter at the time.

God to me was just another tyrant figure, unhappy, abusive, not nice at all, yet someone I kept on hearing that somehow “loved me.” I wanted nothing to do with this God but didn’t dare communicate that to my parents. A missionary changed all that. He brought along with him stories of a very powerful and nice God, similar to Jesus in the New Testament (the church loved the mean and angry Old Testament God) and I fell in love for the very first time with God. Willingly, I wanted to have a relationship with this new image of God, not the one in the church. I began a new walk, a happy and light walk with God.

After the 1989 fall of communism revolution in most of the Estern European block, charitable help came into the country in the form of clothes, shoes, and monthly food supplies. “If I ever get rich, I’ll do the same.” A prayer shot up to the heavens from a thankful heart and put in practice soon after.

In 1993 I was rescued by this super handsome and tall young man, Chet, who was part of a missionary team from America. The engagement and wedding was a big source of gossip and wonder. We married on August 15th, in Romania. A very unusual wedding since the bride and groom couldn’t talk to each other:) Leaving Romania and coming to America on October 15th, was one of the most stressful things I lived through. Not because of Chet, my new husband, but everything else: leaving my family, who I no longer could protect, entering a new land with new traditions I din’t understand and no one familiar to communicate with. Halloween was a weird and dark first impression of American holidays, only the small kids dressed in cute costumes brought a smile to my face, all other gore did not. My parents-in-law were a hugeeeeee support during that time.

I had my first born, Merrill, in 1995, followed quickly by my second, Meleah, in 1996 and then our surprise, Alex, in 1993, (I was pregnant with Alex when I flew back to Romania to see Fanu in the hospital, but I did not know I was pregnant). I had a few jobs: babysitting, sells rep at the Gap, preschool teacher, writer, real-estate agent, home design and massage therapist. I’ve never been more fulfilled in my work field, like when I’m writing.

Most of you know that in January of 2014, I fell ill, an illness that almost took my life and I’m still fighting it, getting better each day, with the occasional relapses, which are still far too often than I like to admit.

I’m very happy now, even if in pain most days. Every day I’m greatful to God for allowing me another day on this wonderful planet and among my loved ones. Life is very normal, and calm (I need to keep it calm and stress-free) and mundane but I love it:) Thank you God for my life:)

 

Fanu the Powerful

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1991-2002

Death comes to us all, how you greeted makes all the difference.

Fanu, short for Stefan, was the last Damean son, and number eleven in the long line of siblings. He entered this world in December 1991 and left it far too early.

Fanu had a generally calm personality, loved playing with his small cars, usually with his brother Alex, and loved to dream together about their future. Soccer was another game he practiced often in the dusty apartment courtyard of a gray and small town full of factory workers’ children. Life, as he knew it, was satisfactory even if at times shadowed by his father’s angry episodes. Fanu was still at an age where that meant little, just another day in his life, unaware of the grievances abuse brings once you understand what’s happening. In that regard he was spared.

A very competitive character, with a very giving nature, always making big plans of charitable gestures towards someone he loved or was in need. Unfortunately, we’ll never know what his life would’ve been like, but in a way he’s free of pain and sorrow now.

In the spring of 2002 (February) Fanu began having splitting headaches with a tremendous amount of pain around his left temporal area and began isolating himself in dark corners of the apartment. My mother took him to the local clinic where, without a proper examination, was prescribed some medication. It did not work. His fever became alarmingly high while the pain persisted and my mom took him to the local hospital. He was admitted for two weeks getting a daily dose of antibiotics (ampicillin) shots. He then was discharged but a few weeks later (March) when his fever and pain returned with a vengeance my mom and Delia took him to the emergency. Instead of admitting him the doctor in charge sent them to the contagious diseases hospital in Hunedoara. There they had to wait quit a bit, despite the fact that Fanu, now lying on a hospital bed in the waiting room, was crying complaining of intense pain on his left temporal zone. Upon examination the doctor discovered a partial facial paralysis on his left, and sent them immediately to a hospital in Timisoara specializing in contagious diseases and also known to be a good hospital. He was moved back and forth between couple hospitals (intensive care, neurology, contagious diseases) in Timisoara and misdiagnosed quite a bit. From being able to take small walks in the hospital’s court-yard anytime Alin visited, within weeks he became completely paralyzed, unable to eat solids while constantly on IV. The next time Fanu came back home, he was resting in a coffin.

In Timisoara’s hospitals he waisted away rapidly until May 27th when he died. My mom spent countless hours around the clock by his side, relived temporarily so she could rest by Delia and my brother Alin. By the time I came to see him he shrunk in size and all musculature mass was gone, he was paralyzed and no longer could talk, communicating by writing messages on pieces of paper. He was literally skin and bone and I could see the shape of his heart while beating, lifting a very thin layer of white and dry skin. He was no longer recognizable, only when I looked in his eyes I could see Fanu, the man. The suffering matured him tremendously. The diagnosis was never firmly found, but the whole thing began from a puss matter in his brain who by the end of his life spread all over his body in cancerous masses. Alin got really close to Fanu during that time. A few weeks before dying, no longer able to speak, Fanu managed to let my mother know that he knew he was dying. Grief stricken my mother kept telling him he’ll get better. Fanu insisted and by third time, Fanu asked my mother to open the door, because he wanted to go through. My mom opened his door in his room or the bathroom door.

“Not that one mom, the other one.” He would write while pointing to the ceiling.

“My boy, there’s not a door there, that’s the ceiling.”

“Sure there is, mom. There’s a long staircase with two angles waiting on each side and a closed door/gate right before it. Can you open it, so I can go?” My mother understood then. Her little boy was dying and God was waiting for him. Few days later Alin came relieving my exhausted mother for a well needed night of rest. Fanu died during that night. Upon autopsy, was discovered that Fanu had a very high number of cancerous masses throughout his body. Along his spine alone the Chief of Medical Staff who did the autopsy herself found three different types of cancer. Every organ was affected by cancer. She then asked permission for a brain mass autopsy and the results excluded mono or encephalitis (earlier perceived diagnosis) but his brain matter was full of foreign looking tumors, something she’s never seen before. Samples of cancers cell from along his spine, brain and other organs were sent to France for further study but we’ve never heard anything back. The rest of my siblings were advised to take test relating their lung health, don’t remember specifically the name of the test, just in case. The one that did came back fine.

His funeral was big.

My mom’s grief was immense and she argued with God many days after words. Fanu was a big loss for the entire family, unexpected, fast and deeply painful, however I’m glad that he’s no longer suffering and he’s at peace. To us he’ll always remain powerful for the way he faced it all. He didn’t complain and seemed to want to easy our pain any way he could.

Fanu, we miss you forever!!!!!! And can’t wait to see you, but not yet. Not yet.

P.S Few months later, Alin began having similar symptoms and the whole family was devastated. He went and had an operation in Bucuresti and removed non-cancerous tumor mass from his sphenoid canal the size of the end of a finger, formed due to stress and dust. The surgery was a success:)

Thank you God for our Fanu and the time we had with him. Thank you for allowing him to be with us even if for a small period of time. I’m truly grateful. Thank you for my family:)