Kids, kidneys, a kite, and the knot.

September 20, 2019 | My Jottings

Hi friends. Happy autumn to you. I hope you are experiencing lovely leaf colors, cooler weather, fires in your hearth or in your heart, pumpkin something or other, a good book, and/or a return to blessed routine.

I follow an old childhood friend named Ann on Instagram, and not long ago she posted this picture:

I had never seen it before, but I remembered the birthday party immediately. The two “twins” who are playing Twister are my oldest childhood friend Denel (in the front), and me. My mom made those bell bottoms with the daisies on them. Behind us are two schoolmates I haven’t seen since then — Jill Crabtree and Doreen Castro. It was fun to think back on that slumber party, even though I never quite felt like I fit in anywhere. That thought doesn’t bring pain anymore, only a matter-of-fact recollection of what was. I wish I could tell other young girls that this feeling is often universal and that you will live through it and become your own person someday, and hopefully learn to be more welcoming to others.

It has been so hot and steamy in Northeastern Minnesota this summer I don’t even want to talk about it. The time that gets wasted because of humidity is frustrating. Do I want to walk at the cemetery when it’s 88 degrees and dripping per cent humidity? No I don’t. Do I want to bake cookies and put a yummy pot of soup on to simmer? No. How about having people over or taking grandchildren somewhere fun? Nein. Or going to church on Sunday in a beautiful old building with stained glass windows and no air conditioning? Nyet. So, yes, summer is basically dead to me, and if fall doesn’t make itself known pretty quickly I might have a pouty attitude.

We do have some leaves showing off, though. What do you think? Would you yawn at that? I hope not. I sound like a broken record, but I never, ever, get tired of fall colors. If only they would last three months.

On a breezy day in late August, I took my granddaughters Mrs. Nisky and Li’l Gleegirl to fly a kite. Oh, did I find a fantastic kite on Amazon. It’s so fun, so sturdy, and so good at lifting itself into the wind, that it began to fly when it was barely out of our hands. I have not done a lot of, ahem, running, in many years, because I have a knee replacement and a few several pounds of jiggly here and there. So I was hoping when we drove down to Park Point on the beach of Lake Superior, I wouldn’t have to run to get the kite to fly.

It actually took effort to get the kite to stop flying, so it was a successful afternoon of kite flying. Mrs. Nisky is 15 now, and Li’l Gleegirl is 12 1/2. They reached these ages in some eye blinks.

We actually flew the kite while sitting down too. We let the entire roll of string out and the kite was so high we had trouble seeing it at times.

Can you see it? It’s waaaay up there, dancing around in the wind off the largest freshwater lake in the world, which (I have never mentioned this before, have I?) I can see from my living room, my dining room, my kitchen and my bedroom. I am grateful to live here.

My oldest granddaughter Clara is 17 now, which is another shock to the system. She is a senior in high school, and is enrolled in college at the same time, taking classes she will ace, and drawing cartoon strips in her spare time. She’s a gifted artist and I follow her “Seabeast” comic strip on Instagram of course.

Clara had her grad pictures done recently, and it’s very convenient to have a professional photographer in the family. My oldest daughter Sharon took them, and here is one I love:

Clara is the oldest child of my second daughter Carolyn, and she is about 5′ 11″ now. We try our hardest to grow them tall in this family.

Carolyn and Jeremy also have this little cutie, who started preschool this month. She’s almost five, and her preschool spends most of their time outside. Rain or shine, snow or sleet, they dress for the weather and go exploring and playing. Miriam looks so much like Jeremy’s beautiful mother Diane.

Aaannnd… there is this kid. He is Chris and Sharon’s oldest, and is also a senior in high school this year. He likes football and sports and basketball and sports and spending time with his friends, and sports, and working at his job, and sports. Cullen is just a hair under 6′ 7″ tall, and out of all my children and grandchildren, he is the most Sooterish. Meaning he looks like a Sooter, which is my maiden name. I am frequently told that he looks like me, and sometimes if I squint I can see it.

A while back I posted about how my son-in-law Chris was recently (shockingly) diagnosed with severe kidney failure. He needs a kidney transplant as soon as possible. If you would be willing to fill out an easy questionnaire to see if you or someone you know could possibly donate a kidney, please click on the recent post at the left called “Every Good and Perfect Gift.” Toward the bottom you’ll see Chris’s picture and a link to the Mayo Clinic. If you do, you’ll need his birthday so please leave a comment and I’ll email you. Everything will be paid for and you will be taken care of.

Anyway, out of the few people who were willing to see if they could donate, somehow I, a 62 year old woman, have risen to the top of the list of possible donors so far. I just returned from three days of amazing, efficient, friendly testing at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, MN, where I learned that I may be able to donate one of my kidneys. Not to Chris, since our blood types don’t match. (This is why we still need someone to donate for him.) If I donate, it will qualify Chris to be in Mayo’s Paired Donation Program. I could give my kidney to someone, Mayo would look for someone to donate to Chris, and we could all four potentially go into surgery on the same day. Kidney donation surgery takes 40 minutes, is done through a small scar below the navel, and hospital stay is two days.

I still have two more tests to go through, but here are my kidneys from the CT scan Mayo did. I now know I have a slight curvature of the spine. πŸ™‚ I think I should name my kidneys. I read this morning about a young woman who named her kidneys Jeff Left and Dwight Right and I like those names. She made it possible for a stranger to live. Do you have any suggestions on what I should name my kidneys? I already know that if I become a donor, they will take my left kidney, because it has one artery. My right has two, which apparently complicates things in surgery a bit.

And now an abrupt segue. Do you see this church below? It’s my church. I’ve been a member there for two years, and I love it. It’s a big departure for someone who grew up a Baptist and then raised her family in an Assembly of God church. But it has been rich and new and very healing for me to be there.

I love the stained glass windows in my church. I gravitate toward dark, jewel toned colors, and I particularly like the dark reds in these.

Soon, in this blessed church with the pretty stained glass windows, I will be participating in a solemn and happy ceremony where these very rings will be exchanged and vows will be said, and granddaughters wearing jewel-toned dresses will carry flowers down the aisle and adult children will stand up as attendants, songs will be sung, scriptures will be read, prayers will be prayed, friends will be there to celebrate….

….and after almost five years of living without Michael, I will marry again. I will wear a dark sapphire colored dress.

His name is Lloyd and I’ve mentioned him here before. He and I met at a local senior citizens’ grief support group over three years ago. He lost his Rosemarie two months before Michael died. Lloyd and Rose were married 51 years. Michael and I were married 33.

His family has welcomed me so lovingly, and my family has welcomed him the same. I am so proud of the way my girls have loved and supported me as I took a long time to come to this decision.

Lloyd lives in a log cabin he built in the woods, about 50 miles south of me. We will go back and forth between my house and his as we can. When I decide to retire from doing adult foster care, we may well sell my house and get something smaller for the two of us. But all those decisions can be made slowly.

What helped me eventually say yes to Lloyd’s many patient marriage suggestions (he didn’t actually officially propose until he knew I had worked it all out in my heart) was what a kind man he is. What a good conversationalist. How servant-hearted he is. How sensitive he is. How ready his laugh is. How he loves his children and how much they love him and want to be with him. How thoughtful. Here’s an example of the latter. Recently we were in church together and as soon as the scripture readings commenced, I began to cry. It’s not unusual for me to react to the reading of God’s Word that way, and I try to be quiet when it happens. On this day I had no kleenex in my purse and Lloyd didn’t have a clean handkerchief. There were no boxes of tissues around, so he went to the nearest bathroom and brought back some brown paper towels from the dispenser for me. When he sat in the pew and handed them to me so I could wipe my nose and eyes, I noticed they had been wadded up and opened, wadded up and opened, so they would be softer to use and not so stiff and rough. He does a lot of things like this without fanfare, and I am grateful.

I hope you’ll pray for us as we begin our life together. I’m a little nervous to be honest. Not about Lloyd, but about getting married at this late stage in life when I’m so set in my relatively solitary ways. It’s not like it was when I was 18 and threw caution to the wind and said “I do” to someone who wasn’t any more prepared than I was to make that kind of commitment. Now I’m old and overthink things and entertain myself with too many what-ifs and am much more practical than I used to be.

I’ll share some wedding pictures when we get back from our After Wedding Trip. I am refusing to call it a honeymoon, because at my age that seems weird.

I told the transplant team at Mayo that I can’t give away a kidney until November when the wedding and After Wedding Trip are behind me, and they are more than willing to work with anyone who would take that step.

I’ll close with this curious and serendipitous fact I learned at the Mayo Clinic, which by the way is 4.5 hours south of me. The transplant surgeon is a woman named Julie. And when she was little, she used to live in the house where Michael and I raised our family. How about that?

Thank you for reading. Thank you for praying for my family. Tell me how you’re doing now…okay?


  1. Sharon says:

    Why would your kidneys be male? That makes no sense. ?

    How about Betty and Veronica?

  2. Just Julie says:

    I didn’t say I would give my kidneys male names, I said that I liked hers — they rhymed! πŸ™‚ Betty and Veronica…hmmm. I’m thinking something old fashioned sounding. Perhaps Urina and Filtreeva. xo πŸ™‚

  3. Ember says:

    I’m so glad you posted this! I don’t like to pester you for news, and I cannot tell you how many times I’ve visited your blog to see if there’s any further update on marriage, grandchildren and kidneys! If your stats are up to 50,000, a big wodge of them will be me! In addition to your magnificent everyday popularity of course.
    Blessings on Mrs Nisky & co, on Betty and Veronica in their journey through life, on your wedding ceremony and married life with Lloyd. May you be happy, may you be well, may all go well with you. xx

  4. Just Julie says:

    Thank you Ember. You made me smile. Everyday popularity — that’s a good one for the books. It’s a good thought anyway, even if it isn’t a reality. You, on the other hand…. xoxo πŸ˜‰

  5. Nancy says:

    God bless both of you. Wishing you all only happiness.

  6. Ember says:

    Oh β€” and just saying β€” we do expect regular updates with multiple photos about this wedding. The dress (and you in it), the groom, the flowers, the church, the party, the cake, plus any preparations that aren’t secret, links to anything Sharon uploads to her lovely photo site β€” ALL OF IT. Dang, we want to be THERE!
    So exciting!

  7. Just Julie says:

    Wouldn’t it just the best thing ever if you could translate over for the day? xoxo Thank you Ember….

  8. Helen in Switzerland says:

    Oh Julie! What wonderful news – I wish you and Lloyd every happiness in the future!!! Lots of photos please!!!
    Much love, Helen xx

  9. Just Julie says:

    Thank you Helen. You have been with me through so much through the years, even though we haven’t met. Your wishes and love mean so much. xoxo

  10. Carolyn says:

    I have faith that if you are in any way a not ideal choice for the surgery, that will be made clear.

    We are all happy that you have found someone that you can walk and talk with and be yourself with and be loved by- I’m also happy that my younger kids will be gaining a Grandpa Lloyd!

  11. Carolyn says:

    PS I think your kidney names should be Queen Nephrotiti (Nephro- get it?) and Mrs Bean.

  12. Just Julie says:

    What a beautiful and kind thing to say, Carolyn. Thank you. Yes, I also have peace about possible donation or not. I’m walking through open doors, also praying that if it’s not meant to be me, whoever it is will be here at just the right time. And your kidney names made me smile. xoxo

  13. ElisaidRibh. [aka Ganeida] says:

    Wonderful news! May the Lord bless you & keep you both. *Hugs* Ditto on the photos. πŸ˜‰

  14. Just Julie says:

    Thank you dear Jeannie. I know you have prayed so faithfully for me and my family over the years, and my heart warms to think of it. Very grateful for you. xoxo

  15. Kay in Cornwall says:

    Congratulations Julie! I was delighted to read about your impending marriage. We will be praying that God will bless you both and also both families.
    I’m so excited for you! XX

  16. Just Julie says:

    Thank you so much Kay. I look forward to catching up with you after my whirlwind has died down. You’ve been through so much in the last few months. Sending lots of love to you and Alan today… xoxo

  17. Mariah Ford says:

    Julie! I just saw your post on instagram and realized I haven’t visited you here in some time. I wish you all the best that God has for you with your upcoming joyous news! And regarding the kidney surgery, that also is wonderful news. A friend of ours had a kidney transplant a few years ago and he is a new man! Another friend turned out to be a perfect match. I will be believing God for a quick and simple resolution for your family. All the very best to you, and I’m looking forward to seeing your wedding pictures! Love to you!

  18. Just Julie says:

    That is such good news about the kidney transplant, Mariah. I’m praying that the same will happen for my son-in-law, and that he can hold on until then. I will post pictures as soon as I get them. Thank you for stopping in, and for your long-distance friendship, dear Mariah. xoxo

  19. Larry says:

    Hello Sis:

    It has been such a long time! After I watched several times the video of your wedding. I was blessed by it and the simple fact of the happiness that you once again have. I loved Michael and his Love of God. I wish I lived close enough and it was earlier in my life that I could have met Lloyd. I close with this. I too cry when I read the word and sometimes when I am preparing to teach. I am blessed that I can cry and that I can teach. It took a long time in my life to have the emotion I now have. My walk is deep and I am looking forward to the time I am with Him – praising – Him and singing His glorious with all that is in me. It is my desire to study and teach until He calls me to be before Him and endlessly WORSHIP Him. Love you sis, may your remaining days be always happy and my your family and Lloyd love you like you need to be loved. Blessings and Love Sis – – Larry

  20. Just Julie says:

    Hi Larry, It’s good to see your words here — it has been a long time. Thank you for your kind wishes. I think of you so often and pray for you. I wish you could know Lloyd too. May God rest and keep you today, Lar. xo

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