Is my book what you came for?  Then link to my free book: A Gift from the Heart

Introduction:

With AOL Hometown being discontinued (sad day) I am forced to find a new “web home” and WordPress seems to offer the resources and flexibility that my fit my style and thus, here I am!  So, with intent to both Blog and host web pages here, we are off and running.

Jim & Pam, and life is very good!

Jim & Pam, and life is very good!

Check out my background in the Pages to the right, beginning with ABOUT and continuing with a little background in the pages below that.

Also, check out the link to my free book, A Gift from the Heart, offered in memory of my heart donor, Roberto Cuebas, who back in October of 1994, lost his life in Brooklyn, NY, but in doing so, saved mine when his heart was donated and transplanted to replace my failing heart over in Philadelphia.  But wait, that’s what the book is all about, so go there to read the full story of the many years he and I have shared since that gift of life was donated.

Jim Gleason
e-mail: GleasonJim@aol.com

Life is so much richer when one enjoys a hobby in their busy lives. It really doesn’t matter what that hobby may be, even if its just sharing on social media like this.

For myself, and my best friend, Ray, we have shared the hobby of fresh water tropical fish for over 60 years now. In those early preteen days, we were lucky to have enough money to buy (or go catch in the pond in the woods) one or even a pair of some colorful fish, be they guppies or neon tetras or whatever. As the years past and we could afford more, the tanks got bigger and their contents of colorful plants and fish got more plentiful and varied. Now, as Ray and I are both in our seventies, we enjoy pretty much free reign in retirement to catch/buy just about anything our heart desires. But even then, we love the ‘good buy’ and travel far and wide on our fishin’ trips, no longer putting stiff knees through painful paces lugging and launching a canoe into the river to catch naturally, rather driving in comfort to fish stores searching for that special opportunity when we can get that normally $3.99 catch for a $1 on sale. We stop for lunch at Joe’s Crab Shop and share the ever new conversation and reliving memories of this lifetime friendship.

Then we come home, alternating between that first stop being Ray’s basement of 22 tanks, or my own home of three large tanks. We take time to admire each other’s latest catches and the busy life in those tanks before saying farewell with a traditional hug to drive the hour back to our own home and releasing the new fish and plants there. Don’t you wish you could see those tanks? Well, as it turns out you can, on-line in YouTube vivid living color. Come, drop by our ‘fish rooms’ and share in our lifelong hobby that is still a shared bonding for over 60 years now.

Link to Ray’s fish room (with over 13,000 views!):Rays tank http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6q1c1D3y25U

Link to Jim’s fish room (with music): bow tankhttp://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7Mnw_VQgAz8

(if you enjoyed these, be sure to search YouTube for more using “Ray’s fish room” and “Jim’s fish room” as the search terms – there are more such treasures posted for your viewing pleasure)

So, what is your hobby? None yet? Search your heart and go get into one. It’s a lifetime of learning and enjoyment and relationships with fellow hobbyists.

While I really don’t have much time to dedicate to postings here, too busy just ‘doing’ each day, all day, it was amazing to me in looking over the site statistics to find that there have been over twenty-three thousand views of these reflections so seldom posted.

Thank you for stopping by to visit and share my adventures in this social media way.  While some I may recognize as special friends, the other 99% of those visitors, like yourself, are just friends I haven’t met yet passing through life together here.  You make my day in a special way when I happen to come back and check on things like today in seeing those amazing stats.

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Until we meet again, stay well my friend, and enjoy life each and every day as I do.

. . . finally made that visit to my original cardiologist, Dr. Kathy Magness and her nurse, Janet, to give them both hugs of gratitude for these 20+ years post heart transplant due to their care back then. I was under her care for two years leading up to listing for transplant when, with an ejection fraction of just 17, she said in words I can still hear clearly today, “Mr. Gleason, it’s time. You need to cease employment and go down to see the experts.” I tried to get an appointment with the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania heart transplant team, but they were booked and we had to settle for one two months out. Dr. Magness took the more direct route. While attending a dinner event the next evening with them, she reviewed my case and next thing I know, we had an immediate appointment and the rest is history, as they say. From mid-September of 1994 I stayed in the hospital on supporting drips as a 1A listed candidate until this heart became available, October 19, 1994.

At one point during that stay, it was decided to implant a pacemaker due to my strange heart rhythms through the night. As I was being readied for that surgical procedure (a minor one to implant a device about the size of a deck of cards in the chest), who appeared at my table where I was getting ready but Dr. Magness. She gave me a little gift I will never forget, a smiling small teddy bear from her nurse, Janet. If you have to go under for a procedure, let me say its a very pleasant way to loose consciousness with a smile and later to awake to her gifted bear when I awoke.

Over the years since, I have often talked about that special loving care and never forgot their love and support. Upon this year’s 20th anniversary of the transplant, I so wanted to go back and say thank you in person, but distance and a busy schedule kept that from happening. Yesterday, after a family visit with grandchildren and my son and his wife, we were driving within stopping distance and finally “did it!” – what a wonderful moment to show both of them the results of their work some 20+ years later. We hugged and I shared our new TRIO post-transplant cancer project with them as further evidence of how this heart keeps paying it forward. With Janet retiring at the end of January, this visit came just in time. Yes, I had sent Christmas cards each year, but this was so very special to share this ‘new’ heart with them, the first time they had seen it in action since that fateful pass off over 20 years ago.

PS: One regretful afterthought – so sorry I didn’t think in that excitement of the visit to take a picture to post here. Oh well, next time, but not so long til that next visit.

It can’t really be so many months since posting here!  But it is.  Not for lack of thoughts and events to share, but due to that ‘busyness’ just never get back to do this.  “Sorry ’bout that!”

So right now, as another way to procrastinate on my list of important to-do’s, I am going to ‘just do it’ as Nike recommends and instead capture two whimsical thoughts of the morning . . .

Reflection on pills

As I went to take my morning pills as I do at 9am and 9pm each and every day, it is a source of constant amazement how quickly that two week (28 slots) supply of life saving medications runs out.  Who can be sneaking my pills?  Nobody else for sure, but that fact makes me face the flight of time we all are facing each and every day.  Where does it go so fast?  Isn’t it really just the same 24 hours each day?  Of course it is, but there really is a mathematical logic behind that sense of time moving faster and faster as we age, something as a long ago math teacher I either figured out or read someplace those many years ago.  Think about it: when you were age two, a year represented half of your life.  Now at 50 that same one year is one-fiftieth of your life, a much smaller slice of that same life experience (and now as I am in my 70’s an even smaller fast moving year of life).  But still, while I understand that fact, it’s an emotional experience when I find myself taking that last slot of pills which feels like I had just filled all 28 slots just a few days ago.

So what’s the big deal, you ask?  It’s a constant reminder of how fleeting life is and a renewal of the challenge of living each day of life to its fullest, whatever that means for each of us.  Whether we like it or not, today we will leave a mark on this world of ours and we hope and pray that that will be a positive one, not necessarily an earth shaking one, but one that in some way leaves the world a little better than when we touched it.  Yesterday I watched as a man in the food buffet line in front of me was challenged with hands that shook so hard that he couldn’t hold his plate without food bouncing off it.  It brought back memories of those early days of high meds post heart transplant in 1994 when my hands couldn’t even deliver a spoonful of soup form the bowl to my mouth with such shakes.  I offered to carry his plate to the waiting table and he couldn’t have been more thankful for that simple gesture of understanding and support.

In another moment last week, waling down a busy hospital hall, I noticed a young woman pushing a stroller with a very young baby stop look longingly at the sign over the ladies rest room.  I could feel her stress, but she had to pass it by with that stroller a hindrance to much needed relief.  I stopped and offered to watch the baby while she used the facility.  Before you protest, let me explain that it was a busy very modern hospital environment with many people around and I was well dressed and even had two badges hanging around my neck identifying me as a volunteer. So while a stranger, enough  signs of safety that with the pressures of her situation, she could accept my offer.  I spent the next five minutes  making fun comments to passing strangers who looked at this senior man with a baby in stroller rocking it back and forth, “Don’t ask!” I would say with a big grin.  She came out the ladies room door with a look of relief, both physically and with me still there safe with her child, emotionally.  With a words of thanks, she went on, hopefully for a trip home that was without stress now.

Just small opportunities offered in each of our days that offers a moment of decision to make a difference in the world (at least in one person’s life that day).  There will be more significant moments for sure, but for each of those two, this was an important one.  I am sure that they will ‘pay it forward’ when their own opportunity comes along.  That was the message recently in this well done YouTube video that I recommend to your viewing today:

PB&J

Oh, almost forget that peanut butter in the subject line: Just had to make myself some breakfast as I was about to start my office work today.  What to eat?  Cereal and OJ?  That’s my daily routine.  But with some really fresh white bread nearby, my taste went back to a lifetime favorite, PB&J as they say.  As I spread a heavy layer of peanut butter and covered that with grape jelly, my thoughts returned to those childhood days when this was such a staple of breakfast or school lunches.  What is it about that combination that seems to hold such universal appeal?  Does that sandwich have similar great memories for you too?  I guess I’m just a big kid at heart, even these seventy years later, smiling as I type this post, trying not to get jelly squeezing out of the sides of that so soft sandwich on the keyboard.

PS: I actually found a cookbook recipe for making the classic PB&J sandwich!  I used that page as a handout in support of my food preparation demonstration required for a college course on presentation skills several decades back at Ursinus College, passing out samples to the class at the conclusion – got an ‘A’ in that event (smile)! .  Who would’ve know, huh?

I hope and pray that you are taking time out of your own busy day to do something fun as I just did in sharing these reflections with you here.  I promise to not take several months before sharing again, something I’ve said before, but this time…..

Speaking at Asbury United Methodist Church (Cinnaminson, NJ) for Donor Sabbath, I offered the Sunday sermon on October 26th which is available for on-line viewing at: 

It’s another busy beautiful Summer day here in Lake Wobegon, as my favorite radio showman, Garrison Keillor, would say. Up early and out to a men’s bible study, coming home to enjoy a quiet breakfast (fresh peaches on old fashioned Corn Flakes cereal with Vanilla Almond milk, an interesting blend of the old – those corn flakes were our childhood staple – and the new – that almond milk being better for you than the fat free dairy milk that was the last ‘better for you’ change of habits). Reading as I often do at meals, enjoying one of Garrison’s books (on my Kindle that constantly offers a time count down to the end based on current reading speed and a % finished by page count), my memories flash back on mom’s final day. She and I so enjoyed his recorded stories of life in Lake Wobegon. On that day, she had been sent to the local hospital to get a blood transfusion to offset some recently diagnosed anemia. My sister, Betsy, described the day as mom enjoying her Walkman recorded Keillor stories, laughing as the transfusion takes place over several hours. Once completed, they walked out the doors and mom appeared to be not doing well (76 years young?) but eager to “just get me home” at which point she collapsed and died. Sad for the family given how young she still was and engaged with so many grandchildren and family, but we all have a numbered days on this earth and I felt she was accepting and didn’t want to come back, despite the hospital’s efforts to help her.

We couldn’t have wished her a nicer passing, hours of enjoyable laughing at her favorite stories, quickly and painlessly moving on, in the arms of her daughter, Betsy. God’s blessing for a lifetime of caring for others over 55 years of a nursing career.

As my breakfast reading continued, I phased right into lunch (fresh locally grown Jersey tomatoes and American cheese sandwich on fresh soft bread – an annual Summer treat for me), reading and relating to Garrison’s childhood memories as my own were recalled. Inspired by his writings and finally finishing this book that I’ve been slowly savoring over many months of small readings, often feeling guilty at the seemingly meaningless pleasure of such light reading (vs. my deeper but not fully understood books about black holes, the origins of the universe, multi-universes, self-improvement – with too little turning into action – readings, etc). But we are meant to treat ourselves with such enjoyment, so I was moved to come back into my office and write this blog update that is neglected for too many weeks between entries due to a busy life of higher daily priorities – or so I tell myself.

I’m still deeply committed to finishing ‘our’ book that is way back on the back burner of daily life, with ambitions to add a few more new chapters (and add updates to many other now outdated chapters) in my ‘transplant tome’ of a book (over 100+ chapters already). Reading Garrison’s books inspires me, so today I add this blog, tomorrow I will begin that next new chapter of my “A Gift from the Heart” – raising its priority in that daily TO-DO list of other important tasks. ??????????????

Yes, life is good and fulfilling. I hope and pray that your own life is equally so, filled with meaning, fulfillment, fun and inspiration to do whatever it is that gives meaning to your own life each day.

Now off to begin that ‘new chapter’ updating life after heart transplant since the last entry of too many years ago… stay tuned – I will post a notice when its ready for your reading.

– Jim ‘the heart guy’ celebrating 20 years post transplant this Oct 19th

15M views and counting, and I just discovered it – hope it gets you thinking too:

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