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{}   *A Special Summer* 


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A Special Summer

by Milly Geisler

Life takes a winding road through the hills and valleys of time.    Death is but a turning point, a passage into eternity--a new land of hope and peace.  Traveling with and nurturing a dear friend through his last valley to the threshold of that new land was indeed a challenge, one that is well preserved in the treasure house of my mind.

I had known Milo for many years and had been a neighbor for over ten years.  He reminded me of an ancient oak tree with broad trunk and gnarled branches, partially because, as a victim of Padgett's disease, he maneuvered his tree-like frame with the aid of crutches for over twenty years.  He was casual and unpretentious and there was something unique, perhaps heroic in his nature.

He owned several race horses: Old Stoney, Ms. Stoney and Little Stoney and he spoke of them as if they were human--a vital part of his life.  He was proud of his brand new Cadillac, bright red, sporty and a prized bit of his image.

In early summer a few years ago, Milo was stricken with a serious illness.  After his surgery, I was told in confidence by a family member that his illness was terminal.  I was asked to drive his wife to and from the hospital.  After a few visits, a deep awareness had bonded us together and I had been touched in a way I could not explain.  Our visits became mini-courses in hope, perseverance, wisdom and acceptance for me.  His sense of humor and quick wit was spirit lifting.  He jovially persuaded me to drive his Cadillac to and from the hospital.

He related many stories of his work experiences as a superintendent of highways.  I saw that even though many times he had to hang tough with employees, he was always fair-minded.  He shared stories from the horse barns and racetracks.  I knew that horse racing was not an obsessive habit with him.  Rather it was a diversion that afforded him pure and simple pleasure; the joy of watching the colts grow and mature into racers as well as the companionship of the other owners, trainers and drivers.  He treated his animals as he did his friends; win or lose they received his understanding and kindness.  He always managed to find some good in an individual while gently overlooking the bad.

There came a tugging at my heart and an uneasiness as if I was leaving something undone.  The lines of a verse from long ago kept running through my mind.  They said, "Do not wait till life is over and he's underneath the clover; for he cannot read his tombstone when he's dead."  A phrase copied in my letter file years ago also came to mind.  It read, "Letters are a silken thread that runs from one heart to another, weaving a web of things unsaid."  Clutching a pen, I let the unspoken words flow onto the pages of a letter to him.  I told him how much I admired his courage and rare degree of acceptance.  I thanked him for trusting me to drive his Cadillac.  I wrote of how much his friendship meant to me and told him I would stick by him until he was home and well again.

I wrote, "The summer has been to me a semester in the art of living."

We shared September birthdays and I found the perfect gift for him, a small wooden plaque painted in soft blue and rosewood hues.  The lettering read "Fine friends are few, thanks for being you."  Their gift to me was a collector's plate with what but a stately oak tree, the symbol of sturdiness and strength, painted in greens and browns.

Weeks passed, then months as we watched his tree-like frame continue to weaken and wither.

There were times of mingled hope and despondency, pleasure and pain, smiles and tears.  The wink of his eye, the firm clasp of his hand and the calling of my name grew less frequent, as the blossom of life faded into the paleness of death.

Again I felt a gnawing need to reach his inner being.  Was he aware of the gravity of his condition?  Would what I might say push him further into the deep abyss of pain?  I had arrived at a crossroads facing signs pointing in opposite directions.  One read "Truth and Sadness," the other "Evasion and Ease."  Believing that the touch of a hand and the sound of a voice linger on in the soul forever, I bravely took the tougher of the two roads.  Leaning cautiously over the bed railing I took one of his withered hands in my own two hands.  His hazy gray eyes opened slowly and his gaze caught mine.  He looked searchingly at me as though wondering if he could trust me with a deep secret.  He spoke slowly and softly, "Milly, it's coming and it's going to be alright."

With those words I knew that he knew and it was no longer necessary to weigh thoughts or measure words.  I asked what he wanted done and how I could help him.  His requests were few and simple ending with "Just be here with me."

Life was reluctant to let go and death came crawling slowly.  He battled as best he could always with a cheerful heart.  The last of September found him in the nursing home, clinging to life as the golden leaves clung to the branches of the oak tree outside the window.

Then late one afternoon I was called to bring his wife and come to his bedside.  Evening shadows darkened the corners of his room.  Was the glow I envisioned encircling his pain-racked body coming from the embers in the western sky, or as I believed, from the spirit of my dying friend?

Our pastor was present and offered some soul-stirring final prayers.  Unsure if he was hearing me, I spoke, "Milo, we're here with you.  It's okay if you want to go now." We said our goodbyes and held his hands until I was sure his soul was free.  Caught up in the bliss of my own spirit, didn't I hear the swish of angel wings, didn't I share in the gladness of his soul in upward flight?  Even though the path ascended beyond my sight, didn't I know that an invisible hand had clasped his and gently led him along the road that never ends?

What began as a supreme challenge in early summer ended as a gift in late summer. Having viewed life and death side by side, death's sting was lessened and I felt much better prepared to face the unknown.  I had been given one of God's greatest gifts, a deep awareness of what is truly valuable both in life and death.  Not only was the summer a semester in the art of living, but also an unforgettable course in the art of dying.

Milly Geisler  2004   
Write Milly and let her know your thoughts on her story!

Note:   I am a retired farm wife, living in a small town in the midwest.  My husband passed away September 4, 2004 and dealing with his illness and death took my memory back to the year 1989 when my friend, Milo, was ill and died in September 1989.  I thought perhaps Heart Touchers readers might enjoy reading "A Special Summer." 


Thought For The Day:

"Courage is contagious. When a brave man takes a stand, the spines of others are stiffened."--Billy Graham

Verse for the Day:

"...stand firm in the faith; be men of courage, be strong." --1 Corinthians 16:13

Kid's Thought For The Day:

"Seashells should always be found, not bought."

Parent's Thought For The Day

"God in his infinite wisdom gives us twelve years to develop a love for our children before turning them into teenagers."

Coach's Thought For The Day

"Success is how high you bounce when you hit bottom." --General George S. Patton

Writer's Thought For The Day:

"Resignation, not satisfaction, sets in around deadline time." --Stanley Wiater

Deep Thought For The Day:

"What if someone had a huge tattoo that said, ?I hate tattoos.' Man, that
would be confusing."


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Video Imagery --Michael's Video Production Business

Dear Michael,

I just wanted to take a minute to thank you for the beautiful video you made for me! It was so special to see both of my parents in tears as they watched their children grow up in pictures before their eyes! I loved the way you made Estania's part set aside from the rest--that was the part that really got them! The music was beautiful. My mom kept blubbering, "What song is that?" I don't know how you did such a beautiful job with the video in such a short time. I really appreciate your doing it so quickly. You have a wonderful gift, and I thank God that you are using it to create such sentimental memories. I hope that I can find my niche like that in an area that I love. Your video gave us one of our most lasting Christmas memories! I hope yours was filled with moments to be treasured forever!
Silverhill, AL

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Reading Books, Changing Lives!

For those of you who would like to purchase the books from the bookstore via your credit card, you can now do so!

You can now order a number of different autographed best-selling inspirational books for the same price you would get them in the store, the shipping to you is paid for, and you are helping change the lives of teenagers and those they come in contact with!


A number of people have written to us asking what an EBook is, since our book is being offered in both print and EBook versions.  An EBook is a book that can be downloaded and read right on your computer. The advantage of ordering the EBook is that is costs less, $6.95 (No other charges), as compared to $13.95 for the print book. Plus your EBook will arrive the same day you order it and you can begin reading the stories right away!

EBooks are read via Acrobat Reader, which is software that is already on your computer. So for those of you who don't want to wait for the print book to be delivered, check out this link to order the EBook version of Heart Touchers "Life-Changing Stories of Faith, Love, and Laughter."
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