Coronavirus, We’re Stronger!

Coronavirus,

You’ll end soon and we’ll be nicer to each other as a result, we’ll care more for each other and love more, we’ll have more patience and mercy, we’ll also forgive often, we’ll smile more and giggle often, we’ll inspire others and be inspired by others. We’ll love our children and parents, our friends and strangers. You hear us?

You’ve come to kill and though we’ve lost some precious people they will remain alive through stories of their strength and uniqueness. We were privileged to have had them in our lives.

God did not bring you in this world. Man did. Despite that God walks along us whispering words of comfort to our broken hearts and reminding us we’re not alone during these harsh times. He tells us that we matter!

God’s not trying to teach us a lesson by allowing you on this earth! He never wanted you here! You snaked your evil head in our lives intent on killing yet, God walks ahead of you so his shadow will confuse you more than anything. He’s on our side not yours, washing away our fears, smiling when we rise up and help each other, when we come together in one voice praying. We pray because our humanity is under attack no matter what part of the world you live in.

To the whole world God whispers: You’re stronger than you think you are! You matter! This will pass.

So you see, coronavirus, you will not succeed, you can’t! Not with God on our side! So good by!

The people of the world.

Brother Aurel Macsin

For the one who is loved is never forgotten.

Brother Aurel Macsin, passed away yesterday after bravely fighting the tumor discovered in December of 2018. I never knew him personally and met Summer a few times before she got married, but I did listen to some of his Facebook live videos and was proud to see how hard he fought and how passionate he was about God. Our indirect connection to them is through John and Paulette Stabb, Aurel’s parents-in-laws. I met Chet in Romania, back in 1993, through one of John Stabb’s missionary trips and six months later we were married. Once I arrived in America Chet and I attended the same church and got to know John and Paulette better. That’s where we met Summer, their daughter and a collage student at the time, and Toby Stabb their youngest.

We’ve prayed for Aurel like many of you did, and continue to pray for Summer, Summer’s family, Aurel’s family and their friends. May God’s peace that passes all human understanding fill the colossal void their hearts and souls feel during this season of sorrow. There are many invisible faces praying fo you during this time.

Praying for Michelle and her family as well, who have been a great support for Summer and Aurel lately.

One day your tears will be replaced by the joy a reunion brings beyond flesh and bone limits.

God Bless.

We grieve because we love.

The dying generation.

The ladies in this picture are sisters and they happen to be my grandmother (Maria) on the right and my great aunt, Ticuta, on the left. In the middle stands uncle Ionel, my aunt’s husband. My grandfather passed away few years back from Alzheimer’s.

Both sisters had strokes within days of each other, couple of months ago. Sunday, 11-10-2019 aunt Ticuta passed away.

I look at life as a wonderful novel and for some their story may have ended their flesh and blood walk on this earth. It’s impossible not to feel sad at its finality. But strong memories continue their story and recollecting them is my way of spending time with the beloved departed ones.

Here’s one of those memories.

Ibanesti village stands quietly in the Bucovina region of Romania situated north of the country.

Head wrapped in a bright scarf and one hand shielding her eyes from the sun above my aunt stands in the middle of a potatoes field searching for me. In addition to her children and her chores I’m her responsibility for the time being as I spend few summer days working the fields along side. We’ve been weeding and picking these nasty bugs off every leaf for the past four hours and although there’s so much left the work is coming to an end for today. Heat waves dance over the land and her small but mighty frame rests a moment and I can’t help but smile towards her. She does not smile much, too engulfed in her never-ending chores life offers to a peasant but when she does my world brightens and I nearly tear up with overwhelming joy. I can smell dust and dried grass lingering in the air for the ground under our feet is cracked from lack of rain. She looks up towards the sun and her lips move, most likely in prayer. We need rain for the crops to grow, so I too begin to pray. As a child I don’t like the rain much but I sense its importance.

“Carmen! Gicu! Geta! Time to go home!” She waives us over and like separated aunts we happily cluster joking and pushing each other in cheerful teasing. The walk home is shared between gulps of lukewarm water once freshly pulled out of the well and I look forward to dinner.

But dinner in the country does not come quickly. First we must feed and give water to the cows who have just returned from the pastures, brought back by the village boy delegated with such a task. So I help carry the buckets of water after Gicu, one of my cousins, pumps it from the well. I see in the far distance, Geta, another cousin, lifting hay with a fork and bringing it in the stable. Today I must milk the cow, that’s my task, and I take the small wooden stool, I grab the aluminum bucket and set myself underneath the enormous belly hoping she’ll not kick me. The smell of cow manure gags me for a second yet years later this will become my best memory trigger to such times as these. I wash her nipples and began to pull, but its not as easy as it seems and my cousins start to laugh, teasing my clumsiness. I’m a city girl, and I feel it now in every bone of my body. Every day they work hard yet still manage to laugh and tease while I struggle to keep up too proud to admit defeat. So I try again and pull harder with more success.

“Here. Let me show you how it’s done.” Geta offers. She sits down and starts milking with great ease and as the while liquid slushes out quickly the smell of fresh milk teases my nostrils, followed by stomach gurgles. I’m really hungry.

“Lean your head on her belly gently, this helps her relax, then grab hard like this and pull like this. Now you do it.” I nod, ready to prove my worth. I lean my head and start to pull. I’m rewarded with a great sound of liquid hitting the bucket, Geta smiles and the cow moos happy. As I milk her, head agains her belly, my eyes see past the open stable door and into the courtyard, where Mitica, my youngest cousin only about five or six years old helps his mother by bringing the fire wood so she can start supper out in the summer kitchen. It’s too hot to cook inside and during the summer all the meals are cooked outside in the summer kitchen which is a clay oven next to a wooden table situated underneath a lush grape vine. Aunt Ticuta is starting the fire with some matches and soon the soft polenta, the universal bread in these parts of the country, is well on its way. Then she fries pieces of pork meat and my mouth is watering as the fumes reach me, and Geta hurries to help with the salad by picking lettuce from the nearby garden. Fresh made plain yogurt completes the simple meal and I become impatient with my chore.

Come on girl, help me out here!” But the cow turns and looks at me with her big eyes and I can tell she’s saying “What else do you want me to do?”

Once around the table we bow our heads and pray out loud over the meal then sit down under the shade of the grape vine busy eating. The fire was put out but the smell of aches lingers. We tease each other with mouth-fulls of goodness and settle down only when my aunt advertises us there’ll be whipping coming our way if we don’t. But like a bee hive we slowly start it up again. And life keeps going on in a beautiful continuance of love, hard work, and laughter.

Family members of the dying generation mean the world to me. Despite grave injustice against them some brought on by the socialist/communist party others by life circumstances they always worked hard and looked at life as God’s precious gift. The thankful attitude and their tendency to see the positive side of life taught me to be strong. I love that! I was taught that by them! I will treasure it forever. If only I can do as good of a job, now that’s my turn, and make the world around me better. I’m trying:) These are the people I’m mostly proud of, the older generations, that sit invisible behind this two ladies in this picture. My family back home and some here:)

Everyone of us needs a strong and healthy foundation to stand on and I hope you have such a great foundation. If some of these great people have passed away, remember them well, and be proud to have encountered such wonderful human beings:)

God Bless.

Pastor Gordon Calmeyer

Today Pastor Gordon Calmeyer passed away after a life well lived. I love his wife’s words, Stella, on Facebook, and I’ll add them here:

“Choose to make today count.

Even if we find ourselves in unpleasant places or going through tough or hard times, or even if we feel like we could give up because of trying circumstances, let’s use the power of choice which we all have at our disposal, and choose to benefit from bad times and allow them to cause spiritual growth and development. Let us wait for the Lord, staying strong and allowing our hearts to be filled with courage so that we will finish the race strong! (Psalm 27: 13-14) Have a blessed weekend everyone!”

Beautiful.

Chet and I met both Stella and Gordon during our volunteering times at CFC (Christian Faith Center Church) and right away we were taken (like everyone else) with Stella’s sweet personality, and pastor Gordon’t charismatic personality, warmth, and vulnerability. Their short time at CFC as pastors were full of richness and they walked away loving and being loved.

Both Chet and I will miss him because he touched our lives with love and authenticity. I ache because he died, but I’m grateful that I had the privilege to know both him and his wife, I’m richer because of that. His good humor and love for life will be missed. It only hurts because we loved, we’ll never regret loving.

I’m sorry to hear about the suicides of both Kate Spade and Anthony Bourdain, condolences to their family and loved ones, it’s hard when departure from this life happens in such a state of despair and sadness. I’m truly sorry for that. If anyone reading this blog is suffering from depression, please reach out to someone and ask for help. You’re welcome to reach out to me anytime you want.

Thank you, God, for all people from all walks of life. Being human is beautiful and precious.

God Bless.IMG_1318

 

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:)

 

It has begun- Alin the Musician-

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First picture- article in Hunedoara newspaper done on Alin:)

Second picture; Alin and his twin nieces, Oana’s girls:)

Alin around seven years old:)

Alin in one of his stage costume:)

Every year around this time I began to mourn for Fanu, my little ten year old brother who died a while back. His B-day is in December, but fall brings a whiff of Fanu’s memory with it and my heart cries from such precious loss. To divert my sorrows, I think of my other siblings.

I’ll start with Alin:)

ALIN-the Opera Singer

Second in command, he’s a boss in his own way:) A self made man and a brilliant engineer, his work in Germany is appreciated by many. But its his stage performances that define him for who he is. His love for music was know since early ages of his life. He performs on stage all over the world:) Beethoven is his favorite composer. Alin is a ball of mysteries and he loves it that way:) A natural born intellectual it’s a pleasure having a conversation with him on many subjects, but its his direct and honest opinions that puts a smile on my face every time we talk. He has a diplomatic way of telling you the truth about yourself, without the presents of butt kissing, living you hardly confused of his opinion. He’s a sensitive soul and the loss of Fanu (Alin and Fanu had a special connection the rest of us knew about), his heart fractured quite deeply. One day all will be healed.

Alin, makes me laugh in a way no other human being on this entire planet can do and I know Meleah has a special compartment in her heart reserved for uncle Alin. It is a common feeling many share about him.

His love of travel is well know as he often takes advantage of a nice vacation to go visit a new place on this beautiful planet.

Alin and I spent a summer in the hills of Moldova, at our great grandma, where out of boredom we got often in trouble. Come to think of it, it was my sense of adventure that got us in trouble often followed by his threats. One day, we forgot to close the gate and all great grandma’s chickens ran into the corn field. Panicked, ¬†we recruited the help of her neighbor and the town’s well known drunk, but we couldn’t afford to be picky. The poor man, did a fantastic job mumbling instructions to us and after a highly stressful hour or so, we managed to bring back all the chickens. After words, as great grandma came back from the forest carrying a bundle of wood sticks for the evening dinner along side an apron full of freshly picked mushrooms (not my favorite) we acted as everything was well with the world. I’m not sure if the neighbor ever ratted us out, but I’ve never heard a reprimand from my grandma.

Yes, we were quite the pair and Sergiu joined our gang soon after.

Back home I was the cook and Alin was the baker. Boy was he a great baker. He could whip a chec (like a sweet loaf of bread) in no time, but “ciocolata de casa” (homemade chocolate), was and still is his favorite desert. He also loved a piece of bread with tons of butter, and when I say tons I mean tons, and honey. He pretty much lived on that.

I miss Alin every day, but I’m really glad he’s doing so well and one day I’ll get to see him again:)

P.S Alin speaks Romanian, English and German, he also speaks Alin language:)

Next is Sergiu:)