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America Art/Architecture Courage Crestline Holidays Humor Life Photography Sewing Tips

An Easter Bonnet?

Jeanine called on Wednesday before Easter to remind me of the meeting on Thursday. “Don’t forget the contest. The hat contest. Easter bonnet.”

My creative side is limited. Quite limited, especially as regards crafts, sewing things, and such as that. I do write frequently, and am a rather serious amateur photographer. That’s about it as far as creativity is concerned, so when I had heard previously about the hat issue, I paid it little mind.

When I hung up the phone after talking to Jeanine, my vision was caught by a wide, filmy band of ribbon that was fluttered across the back of our living room couch. I had moved the ribbon there from another place with the thought of either disposing of it, or of taking it upstairs and tucking it away with gift-wrapping items that are in a cupboard in our game-room. I cannot say what possessed me at that moment to recall a wide-brimmed straw hat that resided on a high shelf in my bedroom closet–but something did, and with a certain gleam in my eye (I suspect, although I certainly couldn’t see such a gleam) I grabbed up a plastic climbing stool, placed in before my opened closet, reached high and grasped the said straw hat.

I created. A mad-hatter now, I wrapped the ribboned gleam of color about the crown of the headpiece, and with my off-white cord threaded through a wide-eyed needle, I attempted to adjoin the two pieces. The effort was less than stellar as the spaces between the straw formation of the hat were so large that the majority of my stitches snagged nothing but air. Pins. Safety pins. I pulled several of them from the plastic container I found in my seldom-used sewing kit, and voila! Success!

An hour or so before we left for the meeting, as I donned my hat for one last perfection check (by and large to assure that no safety pins were visible), I inquired of my hubby. “Want me to make you a hat, Jerry?”

He eyed me. “I don’t think so, Shirley.”

I think I glimpsed a smirk across his otherwise sweet face.

Out of the fifty persons or so who attended the meeting, when they called for the Easter Bonnet contestants to go forward, the elect group consisted of eight people, I believe. I joined that bevy of the brave and talented who walked to the front and straggled into a semi-circle of hatted people. Three prizes were awarded. First name called–not mine. Second name called–not mine. Third name called: Shirley! The emcee handed me an envelope on which was written: Most Creative. Inside was a ten-dollar bill.

So there you go. My first attempt as a milliner, and I won cash money. What say you? Should I proceed with this occupation? Have I, in the millinery field, at these late years become a sort of Grandma Moses?

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cancer Cancer journal Courage Family Flowers/Gardening Friends God Life Medical/Technical overcoming adversity Photography Science & Technology

Two Significant Papers

His nurse preceded the doctor into the room where we waited. “When he comes in, feel free to ask him anything you would like.” She was quite matter-of-fact, but very friendly.

We immediately liked Dr. Victor when he came in, and before he would leave the small room after we had talked, Jerry would ask if we could pray together. The doctor readily agreed.

It was my receiving this piece of paper in the mail that had led to our meeting.

After the introductions and shaking of hands, Dr. Victor sat on a rolling stool and faced a computer screen. He then rifled through a few documents, reported the results of some blood work and some other things.

“The biopsy, Dr. Victor. What does the biopsy show?” I asked.

In the quiet caring way of Dr. Victor, he said, “Mrs. Buxton, you do have a form of cancer.” And before the visit was concluded, I learned there was a cancerous tumor in my right breast, that there were numerous pre-cancerous lesions there also, and that the cancer had spread to my lymph nodes. He recommended an immediate mastectomy.


Glorious flowers arrived at the hospital and at our home. These pictured here were sent by Brother and Sister Sam Emory, and remain the most magnificent floral arrangement I have ever seen. I photographed and made enlargements of some of the individual flowers. Dried a few of them.
My first day of chemo.

When I knew I would lose my hair, I told Steve I wanted our pictures together when I was as bald as he!

Last day of chemo! I wore my gorgeous wig. Holly provided the crown. The 25 radiation treatments were not nearly so torturous as was the chemo! Nasty stuff. I had terrible reactions, so that some of the drugs had to be stopped. (But I would do it all again. . .because…..

A few days ago, I received this piece of paper–a darling, sweet, cherished piece of paper. I give thanks. Most of all I thank God, for although I give credit to my doctors, to medications, to surgery . . .God is in charge. He is supreme, the One who has given me life. I’m forever grateful.

(During those times I set up another blog which chronicled my cancer treatment. You might be interested in reading over there. You would need to scroll down to get to the beginning posts. Shirley Buxton’s Cancer Detour  

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Children Christianity/Religion Courage Crestline Culture dogs Family affection Food Friends Life love Marriage/anniversaries neighbors Photography The World

A Valentine

Jerry has macular degeneration now. He almost never drives. He can hardly use his phone because of his limited sight. We’ve had snow on the ground for weeks, and today alone we have received almost six inches of rain. Sort of snow bound here in Crestline.

Yesterday, he said, “Tomorrow is Valentine’s Day, and I didn’t get you anything.”

I brushed the remarks aside. “Jerry, that doesn’t matter. You know that.”

This morning our furnace quit belching out heat. Jerry traipsed down to the basement. Came back. “The flame is lighting, but the fan doesn’t come on, so then the flame goes off .”

Jerry called Ken, our across-the-street neighbor, who is the best neighbor anyone could possibly want. Ken’s a little younger than we are . . .but still an old man, I suppose. A couple of weeks ago he had cancers removed from his nose and ears, and for a few days when we would see him, the end of his nose would be white . . .with bandages. Both men poked around in the basement.

The called furnace man came. His poking around in the basement led to his saying, “Your furnace is 40 years old, has this and that problem. You need a new one.” We ordered a new one. Wrote a check for half the charge. Will pay the other half when he installs it.

Later I stood by Jerry as he sat on a stool tending the fire in our fireplace. “I’m sorry I didn’t get you anything for Valentine’s Day.”

“Doesn’t matter, now does it?” I placed my hand on his shoulder. “Red hearts, chocolates, cards . . . It really doesn’t matter, Jerry.”

We’ve made babies together. We’ve bought furnaces and paid water bills. Once upon a time we were young, and now we’re old. A time or two, we stared down death. We swatted the tush of our sons, and of our daughter, and now, they with ease, place an arm about the shoulder of a fellow and say, “Let me tell you about Jesus.” We’ve wrecked cars and bought hamburgers and pumped gas and eaten in joints. We’ve settled into the skinny seats of planes, then tramped the ground in countries not our own. We’ve cried in our living room and in our churches. We’ve hooted in laughter. We’ve cooked biscuits and gravy, and grilled spareribs on our back deck. We’ve buried friends. We sleep with Winston, and drive ourselves crazy trying to make him mind us. We’ve looked wide-eyed at our kids as they took us in hand to tell us about Alexa and Siri. We’ve ridden horses in the Sawtooth mountains, and I fell off, and we’ve waterskied, and preached, and taught, and sang. And loved.

A box of chocolates? A rose. A card. Some glitter. . Sorry I didn’t get you anything, Shirley. Are you kidding me?

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Addiction Alcoholism Christianity/Religion Courage Friends God Goodness of man Life mercy Photography

On The Cusp

Occasionally we finger the edge of it; our touch reckons it to be uncommon, even of the eternal. From our deep, issue thick tears, even as our breath catches. Rarified has brushed against us; encounter with glory laces our world.

Compelled to know the depth of this story, I recognize it now more than ever, to be our story, Jerry’s and mine, and in an unfathomable way, he is as our child. He who nearly killed Jerry. We weep . . .for him. . . for his people . . .for ourselves . . .for mankind. Journal words grip . . .his father discarded by drugged parents–orphanage drop-off, as casual as the mailing of a post office package. Rage. Violence. Carried to new generation . . .and to another, kicked as a bent can down the wretched road of drugs and alcohol and anger.

“My father, an Italian man was racist, called flies on the wall niggers. My mother mentioned that she did not like me at one point because I was David Jr.” A sense of aloneness in his family engulfed him, he told me yesterday, and still at this time in his life, he intimated, “I have a sense of aloneness.”

And so we met, and talked, and cried, and loved. We apologized. We forgave.

 

Dave and his wife, Dana.

At the Claim Jumper, we ordered food we could not eat.

And they had brought their copy of A Thousand Pieces, and I wrote in it, and then did Jerry, and maybe at that moment none of our eyes took in the dedication page: To Jerry, who lived it.

So here we are. On the brim, the edge. Delving, Searching. We read. We write. The last chapter? On the margin of enlightenment, self-understanding, reckoning with ourselves, finding our way ever deeper into the presence of God. The Buxtons and the Esteys . . .on the cusp. . .

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Addiction Christianity/Religion Courage God Goodness of man Life overcoming adversity Religion

A Rare, Noble Man

As soon as it beeped, I reached for the phone beside me and as I lifted it, I saw the number was an unfamiliar one. A text message read:

 

This is Dave Estey. The man that was driving the truck. I have read the book and want you to know how sorry I am. This is my contact number if anyone would ever need to speak to me further. With the deepest regret. God bless. Dave
 

I did not know anyone named Dave Estey, but as soon as I read his message, I knew that indeed, I did know him. He was the driver of the truck that twenty-five years ago had struck my husband as he stood beside a disabled car, leaving him so critically injured that he spent five months in St. John’s Regional Medical Center in Oxnard, CA.

Some of you will know that several years ago I wrote a book entitled A Thousand Pieces in which I told the story of Jerry’s death in the street, the lady who revived him, his almost unbelievably severe injuries, and his remarkable recovery. I also told that the driver of the truck who hit Jerry was driving with a suspended license, had no insurance, no assets, was drunk, and was high on methamphetamines.

 

A Thousand Pieces has been an inspiration to scores of people, and is now in its fourth printing. Among other places, it is available at Amazon.

So, as I looked at my phone on January 17, 2019, I came to the reckoning that Dave Estey was that driver.

“Jerry,” I called across the room. “Listen to this text I just received.”

The details are too many to include here, but know this: Jerry and I during the past two days have come to know that Dave Estey is a rare man, one of meekness and goodness; of sweetness and of love. He has fought demons most of his life and is a deeply wounded man. But now, in his early fifties, he has come to himself,  is analyzing his life, and is making restitution. He is humble, remorseful, and truly repentant. Two days ago, he sat by Jerry in a restaurant, looked him square in the face, and, prefaced by several long sentences, said, “I am sorry.”

And my husband . . .in his sweet, slow way, put his hand atop Dave’s, and said, “I forgave you twenty-five years ago.” The sweet presence of God hovered about us, and we all, I believe, wept.

As I said earlier, the whole story is too long to tell here, but you should know this. Sometime back, Dave began searching for Jerry Buxton, and as he did, he came across this blog, learned through it of A Thousand Pieces, and ordered a copy from Amazon. He then made the contact to which I have referred, and made other contacts, which resulted in our meeting together. He lives 450 miles away from us. Last Tuesday he drove down to our area, and along with his wife, and two of our friends, Patrick and Holly Garrett, Jerry and I met him at the Claim Jumper in San Bernardino.

I have essentially finished writing a book called Dream Shards and was working on some drafting of it when the first text from Dave came. The gist of the new book is that each of us has dreams and at one time or another they all shatter. The issue then is what we do about it? Do we wallow around in the ashes, the shards, or do we pick up the pieces and fashion a new piece? A new dream? The coexistence and interaction of Jerry’s story and Dave’s story must be a part of that book. So even though I was through writing it, I am adding another chapter. Dave and I will be communicating by phone and email and the rest of his story will be told in that book.

In the meantime, I submit to you that Dave Estey is a rare and courageous man, and despite his sordid history, he is a good man. We are still shaken about this meeting, and believe it involves more than can be seen or understood. No doubt it is of the spiritual realm, and is directed by God. Both Jerry and I believe Dave has caught a vision of righteousness and godliness, and we will continue to do all we can to lead him to a full biblical experience with God. Please pray for all of us.

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Christianity/Religion Christmas Courage Culture God Goodness of man Life overcoming adversity Photography

The High Road of Humility–Part Two

Sister Garrett had asked my husband to speak with the young men if he felt it was the right thing, and so came the time after we had eaten when they all gathered in the living room, and Jerry spoke a few words to them. They were so quiet, so attentive, and so obviously moved by his words.

I don’t say too much about it except with our family and close friends, but my husband’s childhood was quite rocky, and that he so effectively pushed through significant challenges is a source of pride to me, and I believe to our children. He was reared in the state of Louisiana, the youngest of twelve children, and more than a few times he has said to me, “We were so poor.” They had no running water, no telephone, no indoor bath, and no car. When he was four years old, his mother died. When he was thirteen his father died.

The Buxtons are great people and his siblings did their best to help him through those challenging years. He lived with some of them from time to time, but he was not really happy. “I never felt I belonged anywhere. Always felt I was in the way.” For a couple of years while he was in high school he lived with a family who had a dairy farm. He rose at 3:30, milked cows, then delivered raw milk to people in the neighborhood before his first session. “I was so sleepy, I often fell asleep in class.”

I believe it was when he was a high school Junior that he went to live with his brother, Bill, who was already a school teacher, and who helped Jerry enroll in a college after he graduated from high school. He worked his way through those four years and graduated with a Bachelor’s degree. A young man having a college degree today is not considered especially significant, but in those years, it was an unusual accomplishment.

He had received the Holy Ghost when he was 13 years old, and during his Junior year in college, God called him into the ministry.

“The rest,” they say, “is history.” He has taught school, founded a school, pastored three churches, married a pretty good wife (feel free to snicker here), and sired four children who all are living good lives, and who are filled with the Holy Ghost. So to those young men Saturday afternoon, he gave the good word, “You Can Make It!” No matter your challenge, no matter your situation, “you can make it.” Some of the young men have solid godly families, some have sketchy relationships with their fathers, and some have no fathers at all in their homes.

So ended the afternoon of a memorable, blessed day. Look carefully at the last picture, and you will see that not everything was of a spiritual, holy nature. . .which is quite as should be!

 

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Christianity/Religion Courage Family family celebrations God Goodness of man grandparents Integrity Life Marriage/anniversaries

My Jerry of 62 Years

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credit for photo to Buxton Photography

Vividly I recall the moment. Tulsa was the place where my eyes first swept across  his image.  A chapel service. Apostolic College. Both of us students. A number of days (maybe weeks) later, I looked across a room and had this “knowing.” I would marry him.

And I did. Sixty-two years ago. At Swan Lake he had asked the question, and on June 27th in Marshfield, Mo. a pastor said his words, we told our vows, and we became a couple.

Doubtless God ordained this coupling, for our lives together have been unusually happy, and I like to think we have made positive contributions to God’s work, and to our society in general. I know he has. He has taught in both public and private schools, pastored two churches, founded a still-thriving Christian school in Rialto, CA., then when he was 75 years old, well after he had officially retired, we went to Lake Havasu City, AZ. and there he planted a church. When we left 3 and 1/2 years later the group averaged 40 to 50 people, and our top attendance had been 92. Statistically, this represented a remarkable accomplishment.

Husband. He was–and is– my husband. I was young, so very young, lacking a few days being 18 years old, naive, not worldly-wise at all; I could have been utterly fooled. That June night as I changed into a lovely negligee in the small bathroom of the Circle C motel we had selected at random as we traveled on our three-day honeymoon toward Kentucky where we had our first revival scheduled, I recall a panicky moment. For a sudden understanding had come to me. I really did not know this man with whom I was about to share a bed.  (No one knows. Ever. For scarcely do we know ourselves.) But God had directed both of us. We had listened, and today find ourselves elderly, showing a few physical imperfections, happy, still full of faith in each other, and in God, who throughout all these years as been the center, the core of our home.

We started with little. Everything we owned was in that car of Jerry’s –well, it was sort of his, his and the finance company’s. One suitcase held all my clothes, Jerry’s outfits were meager, and his wallet was far from bulging. My dad had cast a doubtful eye on the car tires, and before the wedding had seen to a new set being mounted. We climbed, stared-down challenges, were faithful, kept our vows, and that wonderful husband God gave me has carved out for us a beautiful home. Our four children are of the highest calibre, all God-fearing, upright peoples of this earth. Our grandchildren are beautiful and smart. They leave notes around when they visit and occasionally they call us. Our little greats show promise, no doubt on their way to being exceptional!

No better husband could ever be than my Jerry. He is kind, thoughtful, giving, handsome, consistent, romantic, grateful, and humble. He is a man of God. How blessed, unusually blessed I am.

And so at this moment, in this way among others, I will say I love you to my charming, unusual man, My Jerry. My lover. My husband. Happy anniversary!

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Christianity/Religion Church Conferences/Seminars Courage Culture Goodness of man Photography Social

AUW Compound in Nairobi, Kenya

Here in the United States before our trip to Africa I had only briefly met both Pamela and Bishop Ngota Aston, but I certainly came to know them better during those days we stayed on their church compound, and to admire their ambition, their godly ways, and their accomplishments. I salute them today.

DSC_6557If I understand correctly, it was through his burden that he met with Apostolic leaders across Africa, and that in 2014 the Apostolic Union of the World was founded. He became the leader of the organization whose purpose is to facilitate evangelizing Africa with the Apostolic message. The conference we attended was the third such meeting.

DSC_6573His wife is beautiful, hospitable, a great speaker, singer, and musician. She was reared in a very challenging environment, but by the grace of God has risen from its depth to a place of prominence in Africa, and has attained an excellent education.

The compound is impressive. I was stunned to learn that they have only been in that location for seven years. It is completely fenced, boasting numerous structures with a 24-hour guard at the gate. Encompassed in the wide acreage are the sanctuary, the building I have mentioned in which we stayed, school facilities, and a few other out-buildings. Monies from outside Africa have been supplied and appreciated, but I noted in some of their material that one of their goals is less reliance on foreign aid; instead the development of financial independence

DSC_6175DSC_6556Both the impressive grounds and the buildings are kept in pristine condition. Workers were painting just hours before the beginning days of the conference.

DSC_6582I do not have the exact number of persons who attended the conference, but I suspect the final count to have exceeded 500. Most of these were ministers and their families, including some who had traveled as many as four days to arrive there. Several countries were represented. Although the provisions were simple, it astonished me that every delegate was accommodated on the premises. Outhouses were utilized and hundreds slept on mats on the ground. The food was cooked outside a small room on charcoal cookers; the dishes washed nearby with the assistance of a lone faucet. I highly respect my brothers and sisters in Jesus I met those few days in Kenya. Some of them, I was told, do not have enough food, and some are actively persecuted because they are Christians.

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I posted the following words on my Facebook account a few days after the conference ended. Those were my sentiments then . . .as they are now.

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I am raw. Lying open in the sun raw. The conference in Nairobi has ended. Forever in my ears will ring the words–Africa Must Be Saved–as I recall the hundreds of black people who swayed to the burden of their song, who fell mourning to the floor, who wept over the millions who are lost in the hills, the jungles, the cities of their beautiful continent. ……….I will never forget the mama of this beautiful baby who sat in the dirt long side a muddy road and nursed her darling child beside the table where she sold bananas and watermelons and corn . . .I will never forget leaders who taught their women not to be bitter as they asked God to give them food for their children. . . I am raw. Lying open in the sun raw.

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Animals Courage dogs Family affection Grief Life love Nikon Photography Shirley Buxton Photography

Of Buddy

A text message alerted me to call Rebecca. I called.

She asked. “We’re putting Buddy down tomorrow. Can we come up and have you take pictures?”

Buddy is one boy’s dog. Has been since Buddy was rescued from an animal shelter and presented to Nathaniel when he was in the 4th grade. Nathaniel who is now a man. Nathaniel who graduated from high school last year, Nathaniel who takes college courses now, and who works as a roofer. Buddy is a black dog, nine years old (they think). Buddy is sweet. Has kidney failure. He’s big, and can be scary.

Buddy is one family’s dog. Truthfully, since Nathaniel has reached his manhood and taken on such responsibility, much of the care of Buddy has fallen to Rebecca, my daughter, Nathaniel’s mother. We’re all lovers of animals, and both Jerry and I were attached to Buddy.

“Sure, all of you come on up,” I told Rebecca.

I did not take a picture of Buddy wearing a diaper, for it seemed demeaning to that beautiful animal. Blood and urine and pain. Nathaniel would dig a grave . . .in their back yard.DSC_3376We talked. All of us spoke of grief and love and attachment.

“It’s worth it though, Granny,” Nathaniel said once. “The fun, the love, the good times I’ve had with Buddy makes this time of sorrow worth it.”

Rebecca sent me pictures of the grave and of Buddy’s body. Jerry said, “I don’t want to see them.”

I cried . . .as have we all.

 

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Christianity/Religion Courage Life Medical/Technical

A Moment of Thanks

Reluctantly I pulled the word from that dark place where it lives, for certainly I must examine its aspect and its whole being, knowing it was unwise–indeed impossible–to ignore what the doctor had spoken to me: “Mrs. Buxton, you may have cancer.”

I recall those moments in that cold ultrasound examining room (where I shivered so much until they gave me a warm blanket), and remembered when Dr. Mikhail spoke that sentence I did not feel overly anxious, nor did I have a sense of fear. I was calm as he pointed to the screen that showed multicolored wavy lines, and when he indicated the places of concern. In two weeks I would check into the Ontario Outpatient Surgical Center for a biopsy. “I don’t believe for sure it is cancer, but it could be,” he had finally said.

I told my husband and my four children that more testing was required, and although they probably sensed it was serious, I didn’t use the word cancer. I did ask one of my sons to be with Jerry while I was in surgery, knowing it would be a blow if the surgeon came out with a devastating report.

The Sunday before the procedure we attended church at Brother Claborn’s in San Bernardino. His sermon astonished me, and reminded me again how personal God is, and how He truly and absolutely keeps track of us, His children. He is divine, and this life we live is supernatural, unexplainable, definitely of another world. No doubt others in the congregation were ministered to that Sunday morning, but had I been the only one in the building, not one word would have been wasted, not one word would have been extraneous: instead the words flew as shot arrows to minister to those vulnerable places in my being, my heart, my soul, my emotions. During the altar service I whispered to Brother Claborn that I would have a procedure the next day for which I needed prayer. He laid hands on me and prayed.

The routine: Nothing by mouth after midnight, charming hospital gown, cute little paper hat, IV started, sweet nurses, visit by the surgeon, visit by the anesthesiologist, questions, answers . . . waiting. Finally they let Jerry and Andrew come where I was, and once I said to the nurse, “My husband and son will be praying for me before I go to surgery. Would you like to join us?” She smiled, and as we prayed she also did. “This opportunity has made my day,” she said to me. “Thank you.”

“Here’s your cocktail.” The friendly nurse grinned as she fed another medication into my system, and quickly I became woozy and hardly remember the gurney ride to the OR.

The procedure lasted about 20 minutes. The surgeon’s eyes were full of hope and his words were positive as he spoke to my husband and to Andrew. “I don’t believe there is cancer at all. We’ll know for sure when we receive the biopsy reports.

A few days ago I sat in one of those little rooms and watched the door open as Dr. Mikhail came in. He carried a sheaf of papers in his hand, later telling me they were my copies. “All benign, Mrs. Buxton. We biopsied three places. All benign.” He smiled. I smiled. We shook hands.

Today, I give thanks.