Sunday, August 30, 2009

Making the Dream Reality

It is finally happening… plans are falling into place and we are going to Hawaii in a few months! I normally plan vacations pretty thoroughly but this time there are more considerations as Linda and I also plan for Beth’s needs. I find myself making contingency plans to prepare for any breathing problems Beth will have when we go up Mauna Kea (13,000 feet in elevation). I surf the internet looking for all the disability friendly sight seeing opportunites on the Big Island. I have researched possible options which would allow Beth to snorkel with us. I make and remake packing lists to be sure nothing important is forgotten. I am looking forward to this trip and will cherish every moment and every memory.

On a weekly basis I see Beth grow weaker. I see her systems seemingly fail randomly and sometimes, just as randomly, begin functioning again. I am there with Linda as the pain steals her strength and her sanity. I watch as she uses sheer determination to push past the pain and LIVE rather than exist. I don’t have any idea how long it will be before Beth flies away. So, I work to build happy memories. I want Beth to know joy and love as much as possible. That’s why even when it seemed an impossible dream I started planning for the possibility of going to Hawaii.

Now that dream is coming together. We have our flights. We have most of our accommodations. We have a rental vehicle reserved. We are making lists of what we want to see. Linda and I are planning the budget to cover it all. We may eat a lot of peanut butter sandwiches before and during the vacation. We will certainly be stretched thin financially but, we will have the chance to make Hawaii memories with Beth and that is worth every sacrifice.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Elizabeth F. McClung needs you!!

In the past 18 months, over 300 people have asked to be part of the Postcard Project – requesting postcards for themselves or their loved ones. We send postcards to over 400 individuals.

Last week I sent an email to individuals we had email addresses for asking for their help. If you’ve received and responded to that email there’s no need for you to read further. This blog entry is intended to reach those people who have never given us email addresses or have changed their email addresses and haven’t let us know.

It’s hard to believe that it was only last year that Elizabeth started the Postcard Project. It was just going to be a one-time deal, sending postcards to any of her readers at
Screw Bronze while we were in Japan for our grand adventure before Elizabeth’s health prevented further travels. Well, several thousand postcards later, she’s still at it.

Unfortunately, every few weeks a postcard is returned as the recipient has moved. I thought it was time to update our mailing list so that Beth’s postcards and the energy she put into creating them is not wasted.

The Postcard Project is a really important project for Beth. She’s intimately familiar with loneliness and wants to do her part to change the world, letting others know they are not alone. She does this with her postcards. At first she did it all on her own but as her health has steadily deteriorated she has needed more and more assistance. In fact, there are weeks where she doesn’t get to stamp or sticker at all, just matching cards to people and writing all the comments. But she’s adamant about her motto – no one gets left behind! And if that means she works through the night, or falls over when she’s putting her weight behind some of the larger animal stamps, so be it.

Now this kind of freaks me out, to put it mildly. And I struggle between supporting Beth with her dreams of helping others and trying to put a stop to the dream because of the cost to her health. But I know stopping the project has an emotional cost – the postcards are Beth’s way of reaching out to others – and stopping the project would leave a gaping hole in her ‘community’ and feeling of self-worth as a human being.

So, I have a couple of favours to ask…

My first request is for you to contact me to let me know what you thought of the postcards, whether they have made a difference in your or your loved one’s life, and whether you/they would like to continue receiving them. Please be honest. If they brighten your day or your week we want to keep sending them to you. If they’re about as interesting as the other stuff in your mailbox, please tell us that too, so we can take you off the list and help conserve Beth’s energy.

Send an email to me at Linda.mcclung at or leave a comment here. If we don’t hear from you by August 15, 2009 we will remove your name from the list, assuming our information is out of date or that you do not want to receive further postcards.

I want to stress again that Beth really wants to send you postcards if you still want them. Don’t feel guilty about receiving them if they make a difference to you. You’re the one we really want to reach. It’s just that we don’t hear back from most people so have no idea how they are received. And I’m honest enough to admit that I sometimes wonder what’s the point and wish Beth would spend her time elsewhere.

But reading the responses from last week’s email, my faith in the recipients has been restored. The comments reinforced the difference that Beth’s postcards have made in people’s lives. They’ve inspired me to give Beth more help with the cards and less negativity. I’m also going to compile many of the positive comments into a word document that Beth can turn to time and time again when she is feeling alone and of little value.

My second request is that, if you are able, please reciprocate and send Elizabeth a postcard or note back. Her personal mail has gone down to a slow dribble and she’s feeling the loneliness of being indoors and alone most of the time. Receiving mail from you would really keep her spirits up. We put return address labels on the postcards, but I’ve included our post office address in case you may have misplaced your cards.

Elizabeth McClung
PO Box 2560
Port Angeles, WA 98362

Thanks for your time and I look forward to hearing from you.