December 2011


Just three weeks shy of my 5th birthday I was the flower girl in my Auntie Edith’s wedding.  I wore a pretty blue dress and black patent leather shoes.  I began planning my own fairy tale wedding right away.  I had a lot of the details figured out for a long time: a Christmas wedding, red bridesmaids dresses, my bridal party, the musicians, the scripture readers, flowers.  In fact, in all my planning, the only thing missing was the groom.  And if you had known of my plans from an early age and were in attendance that wintery December day, you probably didn’t notice any surprises.

Often when I talk with newly engaged couples I offer them this advice:  In your planning, be careful to plan for your marriage, not just your wedding.  The wedding lasts only a few hours.  Your marriage lasts a lifetime.

When Jeff and I were planning our wedding we decided to use traditional wedding vows.  This was a piece of advice that had been passed along by my sister Pam.  It was suggested that by using “common” or traditional vows that in the future, when you are attending a wedding and these vows are repeated, that they will remind you of the vows that you made to your husband/wife on your wedding day.  As I have sat through the weddings of many family and friends I listen carefully to the couple as they repeat their vows to each other. Each time I am reminded of the vows that I made to Jeff on our wedding day.  Being reminded of these vows gives me the opportunity to reflect on how well I am doing at keeping my end of the bargain.

Depending on my season of life, listening to a couple recite their vows hits me in different ways.  The most vivid memory that I have is during Peter and Caitlin’s wedding.  And believe me, I was completely blindsided by my emotion.  As Peter and Caitlin vowed “for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, for as long as we both shall live” it happened.  Emotion came over me.  Not those beautiful tears that can often be seen at weddings and that can be quietly wiped away.  Nope.  I started to cry big, heaving tears.  You see, it was just a few months earlier that Mom had died.  I had just watched my Mom and Dad live out those very vows, for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health for as long as we both shall live.  And it struck me.  Hard.  Those vows are big.  I mean, really BIG.  (To be honest, even writing out the memory of this has filled my eyes with tears.)

Every year on our anniversary I write out my wedding vows to Jeff in his anniversary card.  Here’s what they say.

***

I take you Jeff to be my wedded husband

To have and to hold from this day forward

For better, for worse

For richer, for poorer

In sickness and in health

To love and to cherish and obey, ’til death us do part

I dedicate our marriage and our home to the Lordship of Jesus Christ

I pledge to you my undying love and constant faithfulness

I ask God’s help in keeping this solemn vow

***

I think that our vows are pretty standard when it comes to wedding vows, but let me tell you this… there have been times when I have looked at these words and thought “really?  I vowed all that?”  No wonder I asked for God’s help in keeping this vow.

When was the last time that you thought about your wedding vows?  Did you write your own or use a traditional script?  Do you remember them at all?  Could you find them if you tried?

More than that, how are you doing in keeping them?

Last week, Jeff and I celebrated 10 years of marriage and truthfully, I think we’ve got everything covered. Better/worse, richer/poorer, sickness/health.  But if I’ve learned anything over the last 10 years it’s this:  speaking or writing out these words every so often is pretty easy.  It’s the living it out, everyday, that is the challenge.  I continue each day to ask God’s help in keeping this solemn vow right to the very end “’til death  us do part”.

With Triumphant Joy,

Heather

Family and Friends,

You’re in for a treat today.  In my last post I spoke a bit about the FANTASTIC Two Years and Counting Celebration a few weeks ago.  Believe me when I tell you that I am still reliving that night in my memory.  While I enjoyed the entire evening, the star of the show was Daddy and message to the group of us there.  I have asked him to write out his message for you all to enjoy.

So, let me introduce you to one of my favourite people in the entire world, my Daddy, Harold Norman.

***

Has anyone here ever had a ride on a helicopter? On one business trip in 1972, I had to get to Newark, New Jersey from New York City. It was suggested that I take the commuter helicopter from Idlewild to La Guardia Airport. I was taken by golf cart to the helicopter with several other passengers. It was quite large with twin rotors and seating for about 20 passengers. We lifted off and in a few minutes flew past the Statue of Liberty and landed on a pier at the foot of Wall Street. The next stop was on the top of a skyscraper, and then to Newark Airport. That same evening, I made the return trip to New York. The lights of New York City by a helicopter flying low and slowly is a sight I will never forget.

Does anyone know who we have to thank for the “modern” helicopter. I’ll give you a clue. Helicopters are nicknamed “Hewies” because of this man. His name is Howard Hughes. Before Howard Hughes started to play around with helicopters they were strictly novelties. They were very unreliable and of no commercial value. He was an engineering genius and soon solved many of their deficiencies. Howard Hughes was successful in a number of ventures besides aviation. He made billions of dollars in war contracts, he started TWA (Trans World Airlines), owned several hotels and even owned a movie studio. Perhaps his most famous endeavour was the “Spruce Goose”, an airplane built from plywood which resides in a museum (hangar) today in Seattle, Washington. He was on the “A” list of every society function, often arriving with the latest movie star from his movie studio draped on his arm. Leonardo de Caprio played Howard Hughes in his biographical movie, “The Aviator “ – an excellent movie.

Howard Hughes seemingly “had it all” and lived life “to the max”. However, a fear of germs, make that a paranoia, drove him to seclusion, and finally he became a recluse, living in a sterile environment with gowned and gloved nurses watching over both the dials and him. All these precautions were in vain and what is particularly sad and ironic is that there was nothing wrong with him and his immune system. He was a perfectly healthy man!

Perhaps if he had stayed in one of his hotel rooms and looked into the top drawer of the night table, he would have found a Gideon Bible. If he had opened that Bible to Matthew 6:27, he would have read, “Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life?” If he had turned to Psalm 139:16, he would have read, “All the days ordained for me were written in Your Book before one of them came to be.”

Howard Hughes died in 1976 an unhappy, pathetic, miserable man. He left no heir and no will. It took a decade to settle his estate with lawyers and the government taking most of it.

In contrast, Heather was diagnosed with CLL 13 years ago. Instead of becoming a recluse to avoid contact with germs that could potentially kill, she decided to delay chemotherapy, against her doctors’ advice, so she could finish her Early Childhood Education (ECE) diploma at Sheridan College. She worked at several day care centres and nursery schools surrounded by children she loved. She married Jeff, a very special man, and blessed me with a wonderful grandson, Nathan. Interestingly, while she was pregnant, she was in the best health she has ever been, leading to Doctors writing her story in a medical journal. She also travelled frequently, usually on short term Missions Work.

Her life has been difficult at times with blood transfusions, chemo, infections, fatigue, hair loss, and many stays in hospital. On one of these hospital stays, I went to visit her. The staff gave me a gown, cap, mask, booties, and gloves to wear. This precaution did nothing to encourage me! I walked into her room and found her hooked up to more monitors and tubes than Christmas trees have tinsel. She tried to smile to ease my fears, but I could tell that she was not well at all. She told me in a very faint, strained voice to come closer and give her a hug and a kiss. I asked her if that was a wise thing to do in case I might pass on some germs. Without any hesitation, she told me that if she couldn’t hug and kiss the most important people in her life, that she might as well die right then.

On other visits to see her, I found her room decorated with all the promises of God and Bible verses from A to Z.

I believe that Heather personifies the Abundant Life that the Apostle Paul teaches. If there was one thing I would like us all to take away with us tonight, it s that we all need to fulfill our purpose in life by worshipping God wholeheartedly and serving Him and others with the time God gives us. As a young husband and father, I decided that I was going to take leadership in giving my family direction and training. I believe that I have been somewhat successful in this area, although there have been times that I feel they turned out well, not because of me, but in spite of me. In retrospect, I realize that I have learned some pretty amazing things from my family as well. I learned from my late wife Sharon how to die and I learned from Heather how to live. The life I’m talking about is not taking up time and space on this earth, but the Abundant Life that only God can provide when we submit to a heart transplant. If anyone has any questions about what I have shared with you, I would be glad to spend time with you before you go home or I m sure that Heather and Jeff would love to meet with you.

***

Daddy, if you and Mom hadn’t taught me about jesus and taught me to build the foundation of my life on the truths of God’s word and who He is then the story of the last 13 years would look very different.  The story would have been marked with sadness, fear, bitterness and anger.  Instead, because you taught me to love Jesus and to believe in His promises my story is filled with joy and thanksgiving, mercy and compassion.  Thank you for the example you set for me then and continue to set for me today.

***

With ongoing joy,

Heather

 

 

 

 

 

Dear Family and Friends,

What a great celebration on Saturday night.  There were so many people who helped with the set up, desserts, music, decorations and tear down of the night.  Thank you.  As I stood at the door and greeted everyone, I was OVERWHELMED!  I am still re-living the evening and I am still overwhelmed at the love poured out for me and my family.  For those who were unable to attend, I’ll give a brief overview of the evening.

We were entertained and amazed by the illusionist talent of Bill Abbott.  His talent and humour was a highlight for me and was a great way to start the evening.  (At home Nathan is now practicing his card tricks and is remembering phrases like “easy come, easy go”…)

We also showed this video: Conquer Cancer. This a powerful reminder of the research that has been done and the successes that have been found in the fight against cancer.

Jeff noted some Firsts from PMH including the first stem cell transplant in 1971.  One of my Doctors, Dr. Messner was a part of that groundbreaking discovery and played a vital role in my own bone marrow transplant.

Here is another video showing some of the groundbreaking work that Princess Margaret is a part of in the fight against cancer:  In Our Lifetime

Jeff also asked our guests to consider making a donation to the Princess Margaret Hospital Foundation through their Doves of Hope program.

My Daddy was the next up in the program.  Rather than summarize what he said that night I’m going to ask him to share here for you all.

After that, I got up to say a few words.  It was quite overwhelming to look out over the crowd of people and see familiar faces from all areas of my life, family, new friends, life long friends, neighbours… Just before I was in hospital a friend had written out a word picture for me.  She saw me in the centre or a ring of people, held in the arms of Jesus.  Then Jeff and Nathan, followed by my parents and family. Surrounding them were friends and complete strangers who were praying for me.  To complete the circle were the Holy Angels, protecting me.  As I looked out over the crowd that night, it was that word picture, in living colour.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again… thank you.  Thank you to each of you who attended our celebration.  Thank you to each of you who were unable to attend but celebrated with us from where you were.

Love Heather