Peri’s Memorial

  • I want to let you all know that I am absolutely blown away with how many of you have already reached out!  This is another testament to how much Peri influenced people.  Amazing!  Please know I am getting you messages and want you to feel comfortable sending them.  Please do not be offended if my response is slow, or maybe not at all.  I also want to give you the info for the memorial service.  I know it will be no surprise to you, but Peri has given me a few instructions about this!

    Date: Tuesday, 2/4/2014

    Time: Visitation at 1:00PM – Service at 2:00PM

    Place:  Balmoral Presbyterian Church
    6413 Quince Road
    Memphis, TN 38119

    Please, in lieu of flowers, make donations to;

    Madonna Learning Center
    7007 Poplar Avenue
    Germantown, TN 38138

    or

    Balmoral Presbyterian Church
    6413 Quince Road
    Memphis, TN 38119

  • Peri’s suffering and pain has come to an end.  She fell asleep and did not wake up this morning.  I was talking with her the night before last and she was explaining to me, in great detail mind you, how the banana split she wanted needed to be made.  She spoke about how every year on her birthday her mother got her a banana split from Baskin Robins.  Needless to say, I was getting her that banana split at 8PM that night!  Later that evening she started to slip back into an unresponsive state.  As we continued to talk I noticed that she seemed to be staring off in the distance.   I asked her what it was that she was seeing.  Her response was one word, HALOS!  That was the last thing that she spoke to me.  HALOS…WOW!

    Our family is strong.  We are all supporting one another.  I am so glad to have such a strong family.  One comprised of a conglomeration of both her side and mine.  Together it makes a pretty cohesive unit.  It can be a bit odd and strange at times, but a strong cohesive unit, nonetheless.  I love them all.

    I can’t name all the individuals from outside our family that have made this horrible experience tolerable.  I would leave someone out and I don’t want to do that.  So to all of you, I thank you from the bottom of my heart.  My kids and I will need you as we continue our lives without Peri.  That seems so odd to say.  I can’t imagine our lives without her.

    I will get more specifics to you as to her service.  This is what I know now.  It’s going to be at Balmoral Presbyterian  Church in Memphis, TN.  Her birthday party is now going to be a combination of her memorial and birthday celebration.  I will post those specifics once they are nailed down.

    As I write this I feel that there is a sweet sweet spirit in this place.  It’s not only The Lord, but Peri is by his side holding his hand….

1/27/14 – Angels Are All Around Her

7 hours ago

I know many of you are calling and trying to get messages to Peri. I have turned her phone off for the moment. She is not able to get to those now. I’m sitting by her side letting her know how so many of you are still staying in touch with her. She can feel each of you as your thoughts and prayers are wafting through the air.

I am sitting here still trying to understand all of this.  Sitting here trying to come up with the answer of, WHY???  I am sitting here in a numbness of disbelief.

Then, out of nowhere, my 8 year old Emma Kate sits with me and tells me that it’s ok to cry.  Not to hold it in because it actually feels good.  She tells me that God had a good idea to put each of us together as a family.  Because she knows we will help each other always.  My God!  She is brilliant!  I will forever be amazed at how incredible all of our children are.  Peri and I made a pretty damn good team.

I am sitting here telling Peri to let those Angels wrap her in their wings and carry her with them on the rest of her journey.  I am telling her that it is time to let it go and go with them.  She looked at me and said, “it’s time to go….”, and I told her to please go ahead and go.  Yes, it’s time!

However, this is Peri Thomas that I am talking about.  True to form, she is still fighting.  She has little fight left though.

I will stay in touch as things develop.  Thanks to each of you.  I am forever indebted!

Emma Kate is right,  it does feel better to cry….

1/24/14 – Update

Hey everybody, this is Gordon.  I am going to give just a quick update to let you know where we are in our wonderful journey with ovarian cancer.  Peri has started to slow quite a bit.  She is in the bed the majority of time now.  She can still get up to go to the restroom and maybe sit in the chair, by the window of our room.  I know that many of you have noticed that her response to texts, phone calls, emails, etc.. has diminished greatly.  Besides being in bed and sleeping more, her mental faculties are slipping as well.  I am wanting you to know this so that you will understand why your calls or messages are not being returned promptly, or at all.  These next several days are going to be very trying for our family.  We are now at that point that I was hoping to not have to go through.  So much for wishful thinking.  The good thing is that she is sleeping more.  That’s good because she is not comfortable when awake.  Thanks for your understanding and patience.  Peri is being her typical self, fighting and trying to still direct what it is that’s going on around her.  She is still looking forward to making her 50th birthday party.  I will be updating on that over the next severel days.  We may have to modify that a little.  I will keep you up to date as soon as I can.  

Please keep praying for my sweet Peri.  Also, please keep praying for our sweet, sweet children.  It’s not fair that they are going through this.  I am so proud of them for how they are handling this shitty situation.  My heart aches for each of them!!

Gordon

One step at a time, a dream comes true.

As you know, I have created a brief, but ambitious dream list. It starts slowly and modestly, and ends with a big crescendo. Not that this marks the end of a life, but I will surely choose to wind things down.

My last journal recounts the beauty and wonder of my Memphis trip. I still cannot put into words the true gift that this trip bestowed upon our entire family.

We returned from Memphis, high on life and holiday magic, only to quickly prepare for another road trip. Friday, Jan 5th, we left out to Wilsonville, AL.

In the Sweet By and By

There’s a land that is fairer than day,
And by faith we can see it afar;
For the Father waits over the way
To prepare us a dwelling place there.

In the sweet by and by,
We shall meet on that beautiful shore;
In the sweet by and by,
We shall meet on that beautiful shore.

To our bountiful Father above,
We will offer our tribute of praise
For the glorious gift of His love
And the blessings that hallow our days.

We had a “Calma” / “Mace” mini family reunion that was just short of heaven for me. There are many relatives that I have not seen in such a long time, some new “members” I have not yet met, and definitely those I have not truly talked to, other than to give a quick hug. My cousins Matt and Tina hosted a large get together that brought together family, food, and new memory opportunities that hopefully will spark a new beginning for all of us. There was love, joy, forgiveness, and acceptance in abundance…and my heart is still singing in song.

There’s a Sweet, Sweet Spirit in this Place,

There’s a sweet,
sweet Spirit in this place,
And I know that it’s the Spirit of the Lord;
There are sweet expressions on each face,
And I know they feel the presence of the Lord.

Sweet Holy Spirit,
Sweet heavenly Dove,
Stay right here with us,
filling us with Your love.
And for these blessings we lift our hearts in praise;
Without a doubt we’ll know that we have been revived,
When we shall leave this place

Next, on my “list” comes my BIRTHDAY BASH! I turn 50 you know, so this is truly a marker. To commemorate the occasion, I would like to hold a modest get together where folks can drop by, eat and greet, and meet at their leisure. And casual! …you know me. I have attached an evite at the end of this entry and would love it if you could come. Please do respond so we can know who to expect. If unable to make it in person, we wish you well and appreciate your continued love and support. I do love all of you so much.

Lastly, I will say that this cancer is continuing to take a toil on me. With time, I do become weaker and require more rest, recovery, and general assistance. I appreciate your patience and understanding as I may not be able to accommodate as many calls, visits, texts, emails, etc. I am trying to take gentle care of myself with the help of a few others. I REALLY WANT TO SEE EACH DREAM FULFILLED ON MY LIST!!!!! And it will take everything I have to get through each one…one step at a time.

Great is Thy Faithfulness!

Great is Thy faithfulness, O God my Father;
There is no shadow of turning with Thee;
Thou changest not, Thy compassions, they fail not;
As Thou hast been, Thou forever will be.

Great is Thy faithfulness! Great is Thy faithfulness!
Morning by morning new mercies I see.
All I have needed Thy hand hath provided;
Great is Thy faithfulness, Lord, unto me!

As always, hope all of you are well. I hope that you had a beautiful Christmas and continue to have a blessed and happy new year. Much love, Peri FOR THE PARTY EVITE, GO TO EVITE.COM AND FIND PERI’S FABULOUS FIFTY, OR GO TO http://www.evite.com/event/03A6Z72UMG532A6D6EPDPFKS6XRQI4

An Open Vessel

ThomasCalmasI have been on such a frenzy, prepping for the trip to Memphis, that this past week, I have not been answering calls, texts etc. I am truly blessed for all of your calls and texts – for each day I was met with fatigue and obligation. I was driven to get all the presents purchased and wrapped before I left Nolensville. There were family gifts, friends’ gifts, teacher gifts, class parties, dog care, home care, hair cuts, packing, etc. I started at the beginning of the week, but with arranging transportstion and working around everyone’s schedule…anyway …I worked myself into a “state.”  As great as I feel by having it all done, I fell out on Thursday night. When I woke Friday, I felt as though I would have to cancel the trip. I couldn’t find an ounce of energy to get up and “finish.” Thank God, I turned to God, for He is my everything. I cried out for mercy and forgiveness, for driving myself to the point of depletion, and expecting God to pick up the pieces. I have been cautioned by others, and myself, to gauge and temper my desire for busy-ness. I want to do so much, but things are different now. I actually want to do “more,” feeling I may miss my chance, or run out of time. I prayed for another “chance” if God would give me just one more day to press forward. Then I prayed again – for forgiveness (for running things MY way) and gave thanks, for God lifted me up. Picture this, for you’ll witness God’s awesomeness. Friday morning, as I lay helpless and hopeless, I faced defeat. I had acted poorly, and now must face the consequences of my reckless, self-willed abandon. I would have to miss Clayton’s pageant and postpone the trip. The pageant had been the real impetus for a Friday arrival, and something we had been promising Clayton all week. I had blown it! Not one to favor self indulgent martyrdom, I turned to Jesus my savior and Lord…and to Saint Peregrine, to help me face my affliction and suffering.  God knows what is best. I asked for forgiveness, and humbly asked for help. I received the strength and courage to *take my meds, *drink the blessed holy water given to me by the Sisters of Mercy and “sister” Cecilia, *pray to the Blessed Saint Albert and Saint Peregrine, patron saint of cancer, gifted to me by my dear friends Lisa and Denise. I read from texts shared by my mother and friend Chris, words of reflection for insight deeper into the Scripture, and the focus on everything present and real…meditation on the right now. (No, I am not Catholic or Buddhist or other. I am a little bit of everything which brings me closer to God.). I was able to get up and get ready. I worked in accordance with my family, not to stress or upset the rhythm. As we were ready to leave on time, I had a few personal care set backs, which delayed our departure. I continued to move in sync and believe we would receive everything needed to make this trip, and arrive to the pageant on time.  On the way, we hit traffic due to an accident. We had many bathroom breaks. We arrived late with no spare time for dinner, change of clothes, etc. We all remained calm, positive and  ”in the game.” Plan B was reasoned, to eat a quick fast food snack, some of us change clothes in the darkness of the car and dim lit parking area, and arrive just AT time for the pageant to begin. Despite the challenges of the day and subsequent fatigue and angst, behavior was at an all time best…against all odds.  This is where I once again invite you to witness and know the Lord.  As a Christian, a parent, and a cancer survivor! among other things, I account this event as a full blown MIRACLE!!! There is no way I would, this could, have have happened without my turning everything over to the care of God. When I turn my life over to the daily whims of life, perceived needs and well thought out actions…I receive only empty selfish gains and empty promises. When I open myself to the full power of God and all the riches He has to offer, not only to lead my life but to guide my actions based on truth…I receive true life and all it has to offer.  Many friends have shared with me recently that they were so moved by my words and testimony. I say that I only speak the words that channel through me…words that come, not from me, but from The Lord.

Dear Lord,
Help me speak your fragrance wherever I go.
Flood my soul with your Spirit and life.
Penetrate and possess my whole being so utterly that my life may only be a radiance of yours.
Shine through me and be so in me that every soul I come in contact with may feel your presence in my soul.Let them look up, and see no longer me, but only Jesus!
Stay with me and then I will begin to shine as you shine, so to shine as to be a light to others.
The light, O Jesus, will be all from you; none of it will be mine. It will be you, shining on others through me.
Let me thus praise you in the way that you love best, by shining on those around me.
Let me preach you without preaching, not by words but by example, by the catching force, the sympathetic influence of what I do, the evident fullness of the love my heart bears for you.
Amen
I have arrived in Memphis, safe and sound.  The pageant was beautiful in every sense and Clayton was overjoyed, seeing his friends, and participating in the final number of the show.  Today, as desired, I attended “my” visitation reception, seeing many, many friends and loved ones.  As Gordon so perfectly stated…”it was better than perfect.”   In course with my dream list…our next destination:  Wilsonville.  May our dreams continue to come true, miracles abound.Will keep you posted.  Thank you from the bottom of my heart, to all of you who helped to make the pageant and the visitation reception…better than perfect.  Thanks to all of you who attended, and to those of you who were unable to attend, who lifted us up in prayer.Much love and big hugs.  Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!Peri

The Story of Life

52b0133e4db921666e2ffd97“For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life” (John 3:16).

This past week, it was suggested to me that “it is time.” It is time to tell the children the full story of my battle with cancer, and what this means for our future. I believe it is the job of the social worker to ask some tough questions, and keep me in the present…in order to best prepare for my….what? Death?

It is not that I am opposed to this idea. In fact, for the past three years the reality of a “nearing” death has been a constant in the conversation. With each doctor visit, treatment session, procedure, etc…no one ever failed to mention that death was possible. Yes, ’tis true. And as we know, to speak of death on a lighter note, folks will say, “Well we all are going to die. You just don’t know when.” So, live every day like it is your last, right? Always keep that lamp burning. Yet, it seems glib. Does one who is not facing death really look at it? Do we really wake each morning and say, “Wow, this could be my last. Better make the most of it?” Well, guess what? I DON’T!!

This is weird and unnatural to me. I am so alive each and every day, I just can’t really focus on death. Okay, I do think about it. When I have a day that is not my best…my belly is bloated, I feel ill, I am weak and more confused than usual…my imagination will wander temporarily. “This is it,” I say. My cancer is growing with a vengeance and it is taking over my body. It has metastasized to my brain. I am short of breath so it must be in my lungs too. Blah, blah. But these thoughts only last moments, and then I move on to life.

When told to talk to the children, Gordon and I felt equipped. We have a good relationship with the kids, and we too have been talking about the what ifs all along. We have answered their questions/comments, which have come from my most recent hospitalization. “Are you going to get better?” “How long will your cancer last?” “We like you the way you used to be.” With the prolonged condition of my being “sick,” it is hard to ignore or deny that something is amiss. When Gordon and I discussed when, what and how to talk to the children about “the truth,” the task seemed more challenging. So what to do? It was Friday night, and we had committed ourselves to talk to the children over the weekend.

Well I first called upon the one who is my greatest spiritual guide and teacher. “Okay Jesus, I am begging for help because I have no idea what I am doing and cannot do this without you!!” I sat in my prayer chair and meditated, waiting for that bonk on the head which would reveal the entire spiel. I then called my “second” greatest spiritual guide and teacher. “Okay Carla, what’s the word? How do I do this?” She had a great suggestion that hit me right in the gut with YES!!! this is exactly what I feel and believe!! I am not trying to tell the children about death. I am wanting and needing to tell the children about life. Last, but not least, I consulted my love and very best friend. “Okay Gordon, what do think about this idea? I need you desperately by my side, because I am weak and fearful. I need sound feedback and a strong, comforting hand to hold.” He of course was there for me, for us, 100% with an unwavering hand and steadfast heart. Carla sent me some written material about a story of life, and how I could tie in “the talk” with the story of Christmas, the birth and life of Jesus. Gordon and I developed a narrative, appropriate for young ears, and enticing to young listeners…a participatory story.

On Sunday morning, we went to church and the music was beautiful. I was drenched in the love of God and the warm comfort of my family. I was feeling good about the day, and knew I had great support. God is always there for me, and all would be taken care of. The sermon for the morning? O COME, ALL YE FAITHFUL! We sang this hymn along with many others, and then the sermon followed incorporating the story of Jesus’ birth:

O Come All Ye Faithful
Joyful and triumphant,
O come ye, O come ye to Bethlehem.
Come and behold Him,
Born the King of Angels;
O come, let us adore Him,
O come, let us adore Him,
O come, let us adore Him,
Christ the Lord.

God is such a great and awesome God. Sunday afternoon, we decorated the tree, and had family story time to hear the story of Christmas, the story of life. I too have a story of life, through Jesus. I am living life (and living large I might add) on Earth at this time, to love, listen, learn, share and serve to the best of my ability. I strive to be an example to those around me, as I dedicate myself to be Jesus like….a good teacher and a great friend. I am unworthy, but through Christ, I am given mercy. The “talk” went really well. Some tears, some reflection, more questions. It has since opened more honest and open discussion, and I feel free of the burden of the “hidden” secret.

Yahoo!!!! I AM ALIVE!!!

So, on a few side notes…I would like to share some info tidbits of what I know today, and what (I hope) is to come.

Rest
My health is still a challenge. I am for the most part status quo, but I fatigue very easily. I can do modified activities during the day, but also require one-two naps. I sit and lie down a lot. Talking to others is even fatiguing at times. I must reserve my energy to enjoy life on daily basis, and not get too run down. I have instituted boundaries for myself to make sure this happens, and have solicited the assistance of family and close friends to help “enforce” my needed rest breaks.

Dream List
As mentioned, while on Earth I am living loud and large. I have adopted a list of things I would like to do while still around. It is not a bucket list, but more of a dream list. I want to do these things, and if not able, I request that friends and family carry on – in honor/tribute of me. It will be an expression of my LIFE, and not a memorial of my death. Also, anything you can do to assist me in completing the following would be greatly appreciated (prayer, physical help, monetary assistance, cards, posts, emails, etc.) My six dreams:

1) Visit Memphis family for one week over Christmas break
2) Visit Calma/Mace family weekend after New Years
3) Celebrate my 50th birthday with a dear friend here in Nolensville (my bday is Feb 4 and hers is Feb 6. She is NOT turning 50 :) We need some get ‘er done, gung ho, party planners
4) Go on family vacation over spring break March 16-23-FLORIDA!! I am applying with the dream foundation for assistance, and have booked the trip on a wing and a prayer
5) Join http://hopewalkingacrossamerica.com/ I have joined a new friend in a goal to complete the Zydeco marathon in Lafayette on March 30th, 2014. Two women and a team of others are going to push me in a jog stoller in one final marathon (my goal for the past three years to complete a marathon by 50yo). The team includes my oldest children and their oldest children. We will walk/run the race for completion.
6) To enter my family photos into memory books and journal about the events, a tribute of love and a legacy to the family. My dear friend Johanna Lehfeldt is spearheading this enormous task and I know would greatly appreciate anything and everything you might to do to help “work against the clock.” She is mounting the pictures, and I am journaling the info…one page, one book, at a time :)

A Reception in Memphis:
All friends and family are most welcome to attend. Please pass the word to everyone, so all know about this event. I will NOT be able to get out and about during the week to visit with folks individually. I will also not be able to entertain at the Thomas house during the week. To best provide a time to meet with so many dear friends that I want to see while in Memphis, Carla, Saralene and Velma have helped me in scheduling a “visiting” reception. This will allow me to see a lot of folks in a short time, thus adhering to my need to NOT overdo.

2:00pm to 4:00pm
Saturday, December 21, 2013
Balmoral Presbyterian Church
6413 Quince Road Memphis, TN 38119
901-767-7510

If you like, please bring a snack to share. Coffee and Lemonade will be provided

The church sits behind the pines off Quince between Kirby Road and Ridgeway. Enter the church through the door nearest to the big wooden cross.

Can’t wait to see you guys soon, and love you, love you!!!

Peri Other ways to help the Thomas Family, please visit the following websites: http://creativetribute.net/peri/

http://www.signupgenius.com/go/10C0F44AEA62CA7FD0-thomas

Address Requests

Hello everyone and Happy Monday.  Hope you had a wonderful Thanksgiving holiday.

I will send a post soon.

Until, will you PLEASE send your mailing address to my email address. I am wanting to get out Christmas cards and would love to send you one. Even if you think I have it…please send again. If you need my email address, please let me know.

Thanks !!
Post to you soon.

Love,

Peri ClaytonPeri

Happy and Sad

Dear Sweet Friends,

So many of you have responded to the news story highlighting ovarian cancer, me and my family. It was just as special as it seemed, and more. It was a great heart warming and heart wrenching event…just as Jack so aptly described “happy/sad.” You can see the video clip by going to my creative tribute page, and clicking the “blog” option.  Once in blog, select the video link/site.

My health is steady. I am eating some, getting out some, and doing around the house some.  I tend to ebb and flow in waves…living in abundance when I feel good, only to crash and retreat to compensate for my overindulgence.

I most recently received two loving, gracious posts from two dear friends. Each spoke of my giving, sharing, and caring for others over the years. The outpouring of giving and caring that is being given to me at this time is just an example of the meaning of the circle of life..’you reap what you sow,’ what goes around, comes around,’ and so on.  As I read the words, I weep in gratitude, and I mean weep. It means so much to me to hear that I have made a difference, especially in the lives of children.  Yet, here comes the happy/sad part again.

My acceptance of help has really improved over the years.  I have reached a place in my life where I can just say thank you. I rarely struggle with others refusing assistance.  I can even initiate asking for help, and when I am at my all time “best” …even be a little bossy.  The sad part for me is I don’t want to receive, at least not this way. It’s like I have to receive. I am not at choice. I can no longer do and I am in mourning about it.

Yes I am grateful for all the years I was able to help. Yes I am grateful that I can now afford others the same wonderful feelings by being able to help me. Yes I love it when people help me because 1) I am able to REAP the rewards like getting chores done, participating in enjoyable activities, and 2) I am able to get together with folks so intimately, creating new relationships, enriching present relationships and refreshing old relationships…it is priceless. It is still just bitter sweet.  What can I say? I am so very human. Yet I strive.  Just like in the old spiritual folk song…Lord, I want to be a Christian, in my heart, in my heart.  I explained to my mom, that I know how I want to feel about receiving care and help, acceptance of where I am and from where I’ve come and gratitude. But sometimes I just want to say thanks, but no thanks…I would rather keep doing. Thanks anyway. Ok, so I’ve said it.

I am passionate about doing, doing for others. It is my life. My existence. The very essence of my soul. Now I am being asked to change and look at doing and giving in a whole new way. I am having to do and give to me. (I think it is called self-care, haha).

Feelings meet reality.  I can’t do. I can’t will it, force it, fight it, beg for it…nothing.  I am weak, tired, and sometimes have set backs. And because of this, I must relay the following.

I again say thank you for all the cards, texts, emails, and messages.   They mean SO MUCH to me.  At this time, I am needing a lot of rest.  I DO WANT to continue hearing from you!  Yet, I will not be able to return many calls/emails.  I know that none of you EXPECT me to feel like I have to respond.  You even speak it in your message.  This has to do with me… my learning to set healthy boundaries and create balance in my life. I will stay in touch.  Also, I DO want you to still come and visit.  I enjoy visits the BEST!!!  Please note the best times to call/ text when I may be more available are between the hours of 2:30-3:30pm and 8-9pm .  Thank you so much! And I love you, love you, love you!

 

Other ways to help the Thomas Family, please visit the following websites:

http://creativetribute.net/peri/

http://www.signupgenius.com/go/10C0F44AEA62CA7FD0-thomas