The Painted Lady Bed and Breakfast Inn is a well appointed century home, set upon lush green lawns, with a gracious front porch where It’s possible to live all summer camping out on the soft couch that resides there. There’s a rustic coffee table with white petunias set upon it. It is a quaint setting, and coaxes me to sit for a spell.
It’s that old style wide and creaky wooden slatted floor where I could sit on a wicker rocker, and drink sweet tea… and I don’t even like sweet tea…but it matters not.
This lovely old estate home resides in Ottawa, Kansas, and as the proprietor inquired when I first called her on the phone…
” did you mean to call Ottawa, Kansas?”
Surprisingly.. I actually did mean to call Kansas. My cell indicates that I was calling from Ottawa, Canada, so apparently this question has been asked before. We both kinda giggled about it.
This is the hometown of my good friend Jeri. A few of us girls are driving here for a wedding, but first a visit to Jeri’s place of birth. I have known Jeri for over 20 years now. Our kids have grown up together. Our families have vacationed together, from Arizona to Las Vegas, to numerous day trips to the pool, followed by ice cream treats on hot summer days. Their family is so dear. Seeing her on her home turf, with her Mom was wonderful. Laura, and I, Jeri, and Patty , drove about the town showing us the highlights, and important memory spaces that assisted me in knowing and appreciating my friend even more. It was like all the dots were all finally connected to make the true picture of where Jeri had come from.
Knowing where somebody was rooted, and birthed from is important. It helps you understand them better.
Jeri’s Mum is Patty. She is married to Tim. Tim and Patty are in their 60’s and recently decided to adopt Patty’s great grandchildren.. Yup.. you heard me right.. great grandchildren.
The Childrens’ Mother and Father are not in a good place, and unable to care for their sons.
There is obviously a greater story to tell here, and lots of behind the scenes drama, but one of the things that impressed my heart the most, is that these two people stepped up, and stepped out, and decided to take responsibility for these two young boys, by adopting them into their lives, and giving them a “forever” home.
This is not the comfortable or easy thing.. but.. this is a loving and selfless act.. and it blows me away with their selfless love and dedication to these little wanna be young men.
Tim and Patty have given these two little boys a sense of belonging, a loving home, and a last name.. and these little guys are proud of their names..
These boys are Elias and Levi, they are 6 and 7 at present , and Tim and Patty adopted them at 2 and 3.
As Laura and I were greeted at the door by Patty, we encountered the two little guys laying on the couch, with one who was on the floor with their blanket, while watching a Disney cartoon on the tv.
They glanced over slightly to acknowledge us, but were far more interested in their show, as they smiled shyly in our direction, for an obligatory “hi.”
Patty answered the door with her own sweet, and quiet way about her, and we were hugged, and welcomed warmly.
Patty has a big heart, no wait.. huge… I can see where her daughter Jeri gets it. This is a woman who would ” give you the shirt off her back.” She doesn’t just talk the talk.. she walks the walk. She is not a showy person, but you can tell that she loves her people fiercely and protectively, like a Mamma Bear. She speaks, and those boys mind her. As a matter of fact.. she speaks , and we all mind. There is respect. She has clearly earned it.
She has created order, love, and structure into these kids’ lives, and it’s not been without sacrifice.
Another thing, Patty has cancer. She was diagnosed with multi myeloma, and was in need of a bone marrow transplant.
She is 100 days past her bone marrow transplant, and is doing well. Jeri tells me that she gets excruciating pain in her legs. This is the result of bone marrow growing back. I had no idea.
This woman inspires me. Both her, and her husband Tim do. Tim is quiet, with a gentle smile, mustache, and kind eyes. He has a sweet accent, and is devoted to Patty… you can see the love and support there.
His smile lights up the room, as does Pattys’.
We all went to dinner in town, at Jeri’s favorite Mexican eatery that night. The little boys fidgeted, doodled, and played games on the backs of their paper placemats, and we adults visited back and forth. Elias and Levi both have jet black hair, and mischievous smiles. Their eyes are brown, and sparkling… they are little boys, and need lots of love and direction.
They are getting that in this home. They feel secure to roam about in the back yard after dinner, playing with the two dogs, that are running about amongst them. Their giggles are infectious.
I can’t imagine the extra energy both Tim and Patty have to have to keep up with these two. The boy’s grandfather also lives in the house. He is Brian. This is not a simple situation, but these adults are working together, and making it a hopeful one for all people concerned.
Laura and I stopped back over the next day, before driving out of town, and Laura brought Patty flowers. She was so excited, and thankful.. what a lady… brave, beautiful, and selfless.
Choices that people make to love.. to step out and make a difference..change lives, and influence the next generation.. is truly remarkable.. It doesn’t seem to matter what life tosses her way, Patty is a fighter, a challenger, and she is overcoming . She is quite an example. Tim is so supportive and just.. there.. for her, and his family. You can feel the love.
Laura sent Patty this “believe ” sign. 4 of us girls, Jeri, Nikki, Laura, and I, made a pact to pray for Patty every morning at 8 am, in our respective time zones, after Patty was diagnosed with cancer.
We were bonded together by friendship before this, but I certainly feel even more closely connected after praying together these past 100 days, and before that. There was a solidarity of friendship and conjoined prayer lifted up simultaneously that was enriching, and soul connecting for each of us.
We are all on the ” Marco Polo” app together. It’s an app where you can video message, and all those who are joined up in your group can watch and respond, and share. It’s been a tremendous way for us girls to reach out almost daily, and share our lives, and prayer requests with one another as we are separated by many miles.
Tears and laughter have been shed, and thanksgiving for answered prayers, and anguished cries for mercy for as yet awaited answers out there. We are a community of prayer warriors for our families and friends… and this is good.
I brought one of Bianca’s rose bushes to plant here in Tim and Patty’s yard. I asked Jeri to ask Patty if that was ok? She seemed happy about it.. This feels right.
These rose bushes springing up unexpectedly in surprising locations gives me a purpose and a place to put my missing of her. Even if the rose bushes do not last , we still know that they were planted, and that they were here, and that cocoons the heart, and feels like a warm hug from beyond.
Patty made a choice years ago when she became pregnant in high school at 17 years old. She decided to keep a beautiful little red haired baby, who she would call Jeri. It must have been so challenging, as Patty and Jeri’s Dad decided to get married, then would later have Brian, Jeri’s brother together.
I am so thankful for Jeri in so many ways. She is one of my best, and dearest friends. She has been there for me at some of the absolute worst days of my life, and some of the best as well. We have now even travelled through the valley of divorce together, a road, neither of us wanted to venture forward through. We have raised our kids together, car pooled, shopped with, vacationed with for over 20 years. Our kids consider each other more like brothers and sisters, rather than just friends.
Jeri and I have laughed until we convulsed on the floor, danced to ” Sweet Home Alabama,” on numerous occasions, and had too many to count, prayer sessions over our families. We would take weekly trips to Walmart for cereal, and canned goods with the kids, buying school supplies, and toilet paper, and sets of sharpies, and paint for the newest wall we wanted to tackle. She is a forever soul sister, and I hope we are neighbors in heaven, if not before on earth