Tuesday, August 25, 2015

A return to blogging...

I have heard it said so many times, "time flies by". It truly does as 5 years have gone by so quickly... What brings me back to blogging?...by dearest best friend in the Santa Community, Cindylu from Alabama whom I am missing so. I first met Cindylu at a Santa convention in 2006 in Branson, MO called "Discover Santa". It was to be one of the first of many conventions we would be at together. There were over 500 Santas and Mrs. Clauses who attended this first of its kind convention. We didn't really get to know each other right then and there in Branson, MO, but after we returned home though different chat sites we belonged to such as yahoo and ning, now forgotten along the way of social media!! While Cindylu and I are similar in many ways, we are different in many as well. Cindylu is a SASSY SOUTHERN WOMEN who speaks out on many things and speaks the truth even if it might offend someone. I on the other hand, often hold things back and try not to offend anyone. It was my first reality check with north and south culture !! However, that "Southern Spirit" kept drawing me closer and closer to Cindylu and we became what we considered "True FOREVER Friends"!! We continued to correspond through e-mail and social media until we finally came face to face at our second national Santa Convention in 2009 called "Celebrate Santa" in Gatlinburg, TN. We both volunteered to present at workshops and had a grand time together. Friendships like this don't come along very often and we enjoyed it to the fullest. In 2012, Cindylu and her husband Charlie co-chaired to bring the Santa Community back to Gatlinburg, TN for a convention called "ClausFest 2012". I volunteered to be Cindylu's executive secretary and helped in many facets of the convention. We had a GRAND TIME in Gatlinburg and sealed our friendship in concete!!
Photo from ClausFest 2012. Two more years went by and I once again volunteered to help with "ClausFest 2014" and back to Gatlinburg we went!! It takes 1 full year of non stop planning to put on these successful conventions, but it is all worth the time and hard work. It is so fun to see Santas and Mrs. Clauses from not only the entire USA, but from other countries such as Denmark, Australia, Canada. It truly is an international gathering.
Photo from Clausfest 2014. Over the years, Cindylu and I would exchange daily e-mails or phone calls on occasion. She never got Skype hooked up, but it was on her "to do list" !! In May of 2015, Cindylu began to have some strange symptoms that brought her to the doctor. After multiple tests and scans, it was found she had one carotid artery which was totally blocked but also had a large anneursym on the other side of her second carotid artery. The doctor determined the best plan would be to unblock the one carotid artery by placing a stent in. The surgery was successful and she returned home to wait for healing. However, she ended up back at the hospital with a clogged stent. She underwent a second surgery to have that stent removed and a new one placed. She once again returned home to rest and heal for about 8 weeks. She continued to have some strange and unusual symptoms, but the doctor assured her in time, they would disappear. On July 14, she returned to the hospital for her anneursym surgery. It was a long 4 1/2 hr surgery for a large anneursym, but she came through it great and woke up laughing and chatting with her family surrounding her. She was to be discharged the next day to continue to rest and heal at home. However, on the morning of July 15, she was found unconscious on the floor of her hospital room. Scans showed she had brain swelling, a brain bleed, and a small stroke. Today is day 43 for Cindylu in ICU. Some days are better than others for her where she is able to squeeze Charlie's hand, open her eyes and nod while others she remains in deep sleep. Her ventilator has been removed and she has a trach and feeding tube. Charlie is most often found at her bedside giving positive re-enforcement while the Santa Community prays daily for Cindylu to heal and return home with Charlie. I cannot put into words how much I miss my daily e-mails to Cindylu or occasional spur of the moment phone calls. I know in my heart, there will never be another friendship that will be like the one we have. I continue to pray with Novenas and devotions asking God to help her heal and allow her to remain on earth in the Santa community where she is loved and admired my many. I still have her last e-mail she sent me the day before going into the hospital for the anneursym. Her words are treasured and remind me she too felt the same way about our friendship........ "Keep those prayers coming, ok? Thanks for being such a good friend to me through all these years. You have no idea how much I have loved and appreciated your friendship through all the things we've been through. When I say you are the BEST, I really mean that YOU are the BEST! With love, Cindylu" I miss you so much my dear friend and I am not giving up on that we will once again see each other at a Santa convention. The prayers continue for you around the world. With love, Debra Ann