So many things have happened over the last week or so, and I am still synthesizing. Sometimes, writing helps me do that. We’ll see if this is one of those times.

A very dear friend and professional mentor died on September 22nd. Phyllis Tickle had the amazing gift of being BFFs with thousands of us, I think. She saw the light in each and every person she ever met, and had the ability to shine it just where it needed to be. We met at a conference probably three decades ago (am I really getting that old?). I was trying to get off the fast track professionally, but Phyllis put me right back on it. After a leisurely chat by the hotel pool, we were friends from there on, and talked on the phone almost daily for a year. She decided I was a writer, and when Phyllis decided something it was best just to go along for the ride. She is the reason a publisher came looking for me and offering me a book contract, and a number of others followed. She heard my voice long before I did.

She did that, literally, for thousands of us. Where she found the time and graciousness I will never know. And she did it with her Southern charm and straight-forward talk. Beating around the bush was a gift Phyllis lacked, thankfully. She captivated rooms filled with thousands of people, and each person in the room felt they knew her, and she knew them. She synthesized information and presented it in ways that amazed and often entertained, and she was always right on target.

When she announced to the world that she had lung cancer and only a few months to live, I started a Facebook group to let all of us who were mourning already tell our stories and be with one another. Even in the midst of radiation and all kinds of misery she took time to write me a note thanking me, not only for the group, but for a lifetime of good memories. It is impossible to describe how much we all miss her.

She left all of us with a final gift, and that is her lack of fear of dying. In part it was her deep Christian faith, and in part a near-death experience from her younger days that she only recently began to talk about. I have to share a very short video of her talking about death, not only to give you a flavor of the woman we all called the Divine Ms. T., but of her experience, which takes away my own fear of dying. There is no need to pray that she rest in peace – we know she does.

In the midst of all of that, I have been caring for seven kittens at the start of their lives, rescued from a horrible situation. All of them malnourished, underweight, and sick when rescued, they are doing well now. Close to normal weights all of them, and their eye and respiratory problems are gone, except for one little girl. But she’s improving loads the last few days and should be 100% soon. (If you want to see something pathetic, put an e-collar on a 3 lb kitten…so sad!!)  The only time I ever fostered a cat before, I became one of the statistic foster fails – Sheyden was a diabetic, and in need to huge amounts of help, so I adopted him and nursed him through the last six months of his life. But with seven of our own cats, I am determined not to be a foster failure again. All should be going to actual fosters who are part of local rescue groups in the next week or so. Still…they are so stinkin’ cute!!


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The day after Phyllis died, I twisted my ankle so thoroughly that I’m lucky nothing broke. My foot looked more like one belonging to an elephant than a person, but with all the colors of the rainbow throughout. It is healing and will be fine soon, but it might have been nature’s way of slowing me down for a little bit. You can’t walk fast on a sprained ankle.


And then a week after Phyllis died, I turned 60, which feels just fine to me. Each decade has been better than the last so far, so I’m good with hitting another decade mark. Besides, Marley took me out to a very nice dinner at one of our favorite restaurants, so what’s not to love?

So, lots happening. Not sure how it all fits together, and I’m not sure the recording helped, but maybe I’ll read this tomorrow and have an ah-ha moment. It has been one of those circle-of-life times, with baby kittens, and dying friends, and getting older myself, and I guess we just keep keepin’ on until we don’t anymore. And when my day comes, I truly hope that one of the saints who will greet me will be the Divine Ms. T. It would be good to hug her again.

11 thoughts on “Aging, death , and twisted ankles: an off topic post

  1. I am sorry for the loss of your friend. You were blessed to have someone like that in your lift. Ahh cats…they wiggle into your hearts and it’s so hard to let them go. This is a batch of cuties (when did you ever hear me say any of your rescues were anything but adorable!). Too many things all together with negative aspects can be trying. I will be celebrating a friend’s 70th birthday soon. She’s older than me but that’s my next BIG one. That 7 at the front end is frightening. I used to think 40 was old (until I was there and realized how great it was). Yeah, yeah, it’s only a number but it’s MY number that counts. I hope your birthday was fun and you did something special.

    1. Marley took me out for a nice dinner for my birthday at one of our favorite restaurants – a nice evening. And bring on 70 – I’ll be ready for it in 10 years.

  2. Oh. Thank you for sharing all of this. You have given me much to think on. I am so sorry for the loss of your friend. Yet, I think she left you the best of all gifts: wonderful memories.

  3. Strangely, each new decade IS better than the previous one, even when one’s personal health and circumstances are degraded a bit more by age. I would never want to be less than my 67 years again, though I guess it would be lovely to have those age 20 knees to go with that 67-year-old body! LOL!

    That said, I am sorry for your loss. The beauty of death is it is final, a relief from suffering and care. That doesn’t make it any less sad for the survivors, yet it doesn’t diminish the love they had for the deceased one.

    1. Yes, it would be nice to have 20 year old knees (or ankles, at the moment) but I wouldn’t want to be 20 again for anything!

    2. No, but Mother’s grace and confidence have made it posssible to grieve fully for our loss of her without all of the usual overlay of concern for her. She was satisfied and content (just as in the clip debra offered) throughout. Adoring her as i always have, this is a gift and a lesson for me. Thanks for this lovely piece Debra. Get well soon.

      1. I love that description, Laura – satisfied and content. That describes Phyllis so well. And what an amazing world it would be if we could all be as satisfied and content as she was.

  4. Goodness, that was a remarkable video. She had 7 children; you have 7 kittens. I so love the strangeness of life. I hope you heal….every which way. ❤

    1. I hadn’t noticed the 7 children/7 kittens – too funny! And thanks for your good thoughts.

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