Wednesday, December 31, 2008


Yesterday I wrote a brief entry announcing the passing of my friends’ son, Ben.

Ben’s mother, Carin, kept a journal on the site – a free website service that gives people in the Towne’s situation the opportunity to keep loved ones and friends informed. The site contains a guest book feature, a journal feature, and space for photographs. Carin and Jeff made good use of this wonderful website during their 18 months’ ordeal.

I’ve been reading parts of the guest book and have been struck over and over again by the outpouring – the absolute flood – of compassion from people who do not know the Towne family. So many entries start out “You don’t know me, but….” And so many of those entries contain eloquent expressions of sympathy for, and empathy with, the Towne family.

It renews my faith in humankind.

Carin and Jeff are in a very difficult place in their life journey. Ben spent nearly half of his short life battling neuroblastoma; the ups and downs of his ordeal can be found in his mother’s journal on the CaringBridge site. Understandably, the doubts and fears of his parents can be found there, too. It’s a heartbreaking read, but I highly recommend it. Read the guestbook, too. More than 5,000 expressions of encouragement, comfort, and sympathy have been logged since the summer of 2007. A flood.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Today Benjamin Ward Towne, age 3 1/2, the much loved son of two very dear people, lost his battle with neuroblastoma. We live in a wounded world and today I'm finding it hard to bear.


Thursday, December 18, 2008

Tidings of Comfort and Joy

Another hectic December is flying by and I’m still not quite ready for Christmas. I am working on top-secret homemade projects and my inspiration level has been pretty darn low lately. Not sure why that is – must be my own version of the “shoot yourself in the foot” gene that has plagued some members of my family over the generations. I intend to rise above my DNA, however, and get these gifts done in time for the holiday.

It’s cold here in Pocatello – really cold. I’m so glad we have our gas fireplace/stove running in the family room. It’s very near my desk and I stay toasty warm all day while I’m working. We’re expecting more snow starting this evening and going into tomorrow; should be a white Christmas for us because we’re not expecting a thaw anytime soon. The barn in the picture above is my favorite of this year's Christmas scenery in Pocatello.

Last night a small group of souls from my church went caroling at one of the local assisted living facilities. This is a far cry from the nursing homes that we used to visit when I was a kid – those were much more like medical/hospital facilities than ‘assisted living’ homes. I can still remember caroling for the first time with my high school choir at one of those places. We were visiting one of the “nicer” nursing homes in our area, but sections of it were still pretty grim. What struck me, though, and also thrilled me was watching the faces of the inhabitants as we sang the familiar carols. Many who were disoriented, senile, and “out of it” would sing, or at least mouth the words along with us. Obviously the lyrics of the Christmas carols were embedded deeply in their memories – so deep that they couldn’t be completely erased, even as the years took their toll. I loved seeing these people come a little bit more alive in response to the music. I hope the message of the carols was just as deeply embedded in their minds as the words and the music – I’ll never know for sure, but I hope.

Last night we sang for many in a lovely facility. What struck me this time was a woman sitting alone on a bench at the end of one of the corridors. She watched us intently as we sang for her (we toured the hallways, singing), but she didn’t give any recognition, didn’t sing along or even mouth the words. As we moved off, she remained seated on that same bench, by herself. When we reached the opposite end of that corridor, I looked back and still she was there. Seemingly motionless. I wondered what she was thinking and hoped that the music had somehow reached her. That’s another one I’ll never know, but I hope.

It’s no secret that I am a Christian. I am seriously grateful for Christ’s work on the Cross on our behalf. I look with hope toward the day when I get to go home to meet my Savior face to face. In the meantime, I’m happy to be on this earth, where He came, too – just a tiny baby in the most squalid of human circumstances. God and man. Lord and Savior. Redeeming His own.

Merry Christmas!

- Catherine

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Husband Tag!

My niece, Mandee, posted this on her blog and then tagged me to be one of the next people in line. So, here it is:

Husband Tag
1. Where did you meet? In a restaurant in San Francisco (Tim likes to say we met in a bar – because we were introduced in the bar section of the restaurant before sitting down in the dining section with the rest of the group.)
2. How long did you date before you got married? We corresponded as friends for a full year, then dated for 9 months before we got married.
3. How long have you been married? 8 years this December 31
4. What does he do that surprises you? He loves me.
5. What is your favorite feature of his? His hair
6. What is your favorite quality of his? He is truly a man after God’s own heart.
.7. Does he have a nickname for you? Yes. (No, I’m not sharing it.)
8. What is his favorite color? Pretty sure he doesn’t have one.
9. What is his favorite food? I don’t think he has one, although I’m sure he likes my cooking.
10. What is his favorite sport? He doesn’t do much in the way of sports these days. He likes to watch football.
11. When and where was your first kiss? At O’Hare airport in Chicago.
12. What is your favorite thing to do as a couple? Travel.
13. Do you have any children? Between us we have 7 (I have 1, he has 6)
14. Does he have a hidden talent? He can do just about anything one-handed.
15. How old is he? 52.
16. Who said I love you first? He did – on the phone – I was completely floored.
17. What’s his favorite type of music? Hymns.
18.What do you admire most about him? His patience and his tenacity.
19. Do you think he will read this? Definitely not.

So, I'm tagging Katie G., Katie M., Tracy P., Connie C., Ruth S., Karen S., and Lenae C. (you all know who you are!)

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Tumbleweed Thwacking

Pocatello is a windy city at times, and yesterday was a good case in point. The wind howled off the west bench, down through the open spaces in town. And I thwacked a couple of tumbleweeds with the front of my car.

I’ll never forget the first time I saw tumbleweed blowing in the wind. We were seated in a fast food joint near an intersection. As my husband (then fiancĂ©) and I talked, I noticed something hurtling along on the pavement underneath the traffic lights. Incredulous, I interrupted our conversation to ask, “Is that tumbleweed I just saw??” Tim didn’t even glance out the window but answered in the affirmative. “I thought you saw them only out on the plains,” I said suspiciously. “Nope,” he said. “We get them in town, too.”

This East Coast girl had never seen one up close and personal. Only on TV in Westerns. The 19th century kind. With gun slingers poised at either end of a deserted street, townspeople hiding in the shops and the saloon.…. you get the picture.

And there Tim and I were, watching tumbleweed blowing across late 20th century civilization. Wow.

Since I’ve moved to Pocatello, I’ve seen a lot more tumbleweed, of course. When the wind gets going good and strong here, everything blows around. When I first saw one coming at my car, and could tell by the rate of its speed and mine that we were going to meet, I had a momentary impulse to swerve. That would be all the years of deer-avoidance as a resident of New Jersey there. Then I realized it wasn’t alive and was so light it wouldn’t hurt my car. Thus I discovered that when you hit tumbleweed just right with your car, it splinters nicely all over the place. Thwack!