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Posts Tagged ‘crystal lee thornton’

Thank You For Your Prayers…

October 10th, 2017 Sears Homes 24 comments

My new life began today, at the age of 58. In fact, I’d say that this is easily one of the happiest days of my life.

Given the events of the last 18 months, that’s saying a lot.

Last Saturday, I toured a house for sale in Suffolk, Virginia. Today, 10 days later, we closed.

This house is beyond anything I could have hoped for and dreamt of, and it is the house that I have waited for my entire life. It’s in perfect condition and has a new roof, new carpet, new paint and a tiny kitchen. If I were to sit down and design a house today, it’d probably look much like this house. It’s perfect for me and my new life.

It’s small enough to be manageable and large enough for my furniture. It’s extremely well-built, and I’m told that the home’s first (and only ) owner was a military man who kept everything in perfect order. And it shows. In every way - it shows.

This house is a peach.

It was built by a Vietnam-war veteran in 1976, and designed by his bride, a native of Japan. The 1/2-acre lot is filled with exotic and extraordinary plantings. And it’s surrounded with a chain-link fence, perfect for Teddy the Dog.

After closing, after I entered my new home for the first time, I stood in the living room and wept. They were tears of joy.

After my much-loved husband committed suicide, I spent several months asking anyone and everyone, “Will I ever be happy again?”

Today, I can answer that question: Yes. I now remember how it feels to experience happiness.

Took me 18 months to get here, but I feel those glimmers of joy stirring in my soul.

I’ll never be the same person. My life was forever changed by Wayne’s very poor choices. But today, I am happy, and it feels so good.

Thanks for your prayers. Thanks for staying with me. And thanks for helping me remember that I am someone other than the widow of a man who ended his life.

With a heart full of gratitude,

Rosemary Thornton

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Here in Hampton Roads, its almost impossible to find a house with a basement/garage and yet its a feature that I love.

Here in Hampton Roads, it's almost impossible to find a house with a basement/garage and yet it's a feature that I love. The garage is more than 600 square feet.

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The house is near an estuary of the Elizabeth River, and yet it sits high on the lot.

The house is near an estuary of the Elizabeth River, and yet it sits high on the lot. One of my frequent complaints about brick ranches is that they sit so low to the ground. This feels like a treehouse!

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The front door is reflective of a Mid-Century house, and yet this house was built in 1976. Everything about this house is in perfect order.

The front door is reflective of a Mid-Century house, and yet this house was built in 1976. Everything about this house is in perfect order.

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Inside,

Inside, there's a small foyer and access to the basement/garage and also living area. It's a design that I've never seen before, and yet it's delightful and compelling. Simplistic, but elegant!

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Inside

Inside, the massive fireplace dominates the living room, which is one of my favorite features. To the right are the three (small) bedrooms, separated with a sliding door. Ideal for someone who craves quiet!

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A large den at the far right of the house is filled with large windows, which is another delightful feature. Because theres no attached garage, the house has no blank (windowless) exterior walls.

A large den at the far right of the house is filled with large windows, which is another delightful feature. Because there's no attached garage, the house has no blank (windowless) exterior walls.

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Another delightful feature: A Japanese tub in the master bathroom.

Another delightful feature: A Japanese tub in the master bathroom.

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Ive owned this house for four hours (as of October 10th) and I can hardly wait to give this massive tub a test drive. It looks purely delightful.

I've owned this house for four hours (as of October 10th) and I can hardly wait to give this massive tub a test drive. It looks purely delightful.

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Update: My daughter came for a visit today (October 15, 2017) and sat right down in the tub, to give a sense of proportion and scale.

Update: My daughter came for a visit today (October 15, 2017) and sat right down in the tub, to give a sense of proportion and scale. Made by Kohler, this tub is original to the house.

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The kitchen is small, which is just right for my needs.

The kitchen is small, which is just right for my needs. The house is old enough to be sturdy and well-built, and yet is filled with modern conveniences and clean shiny surfaces.

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Another fine feature: The basement.

Another fine feature: The basement. As someone who loves old houses, it's very important to me that I have access to the mechanical systems. Here in Southeastern Virginia, so many houses are built on miserable crawlspaces and are barely navigable. This house is built up high enough that you walk under the house - from front to back.

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From front to back, the house is perfect in every way.

From front to back, the house is perfect in every way.

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Thanks to Kathy Worthen for making this happen.

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The Quiet Heros Among Us

April 27th, 2011 Sears Homes No comments

When Crystal (my eldest daughter) was 13, she was a handful, to say the least. Oh, how I prayed for that child!

Fourteen years later, when she was 27 years old, she became my hero.

She was 27 years old when she made the decision to donate her kidney to her best friend. My daughter was inspired to do this after watching her 24-year-old friend sit through grueling dialysis sessions, and she saw that her friend was fading. (About 2/3rds of dialysis patients die within five years of starting dialysis.)

I was not thrilled with my daughter’s decision to submit to such a surgery. My first thoughts were about my own child’s health.  I talked to her father and he made a valid point.

“Rose,” he told me, “the odds of those two girls being a match are one in a million. Don’t worry about this. Chances are good that once she’s tested, it’ll all end right there.”

I was relieved.

A few weeks later, Crystal and I talked again.

“Mom, please understand,” she pleaded. “Kaycee might die if she doesn’t get a kidney within the next year or two. She’s 24 years old and has already been on dialysis for 18 months. This is something I have to do. Please support me in this.”

I sighed a motherly sigh and promised her that I’d try to be a supportive parent.

A few weeks passed when the next phone call came. “Mom, we’re a match. The doctors are just  amazed!. They say that it’s like we’re siblings. I told Kaycee that there’s a reason that we always felt like sisters. I knew we’d be a perfect match. I just knew it.”

The surgery was scheduled for April 23, 2007.

Less than five weeks earlier, I’d re-married, and now I asked my new husband to fly with me. I couldn’t imagine doing this alone.

Crystal (on the far left) with her sister Anna, Grandma Betty and cousin Laurel (1985)

Crystal (on the far left) with her sister Anna, Grandma Betty and cousin Laurel (1985)


My new husband and I arrived in Peoria the day before the surgery and spent some time with both girls. This was the first time I’d met Kaycee. I came prepared not to like her, but before meeting her, I literally begged God to open my heart and change my mind.

Kaycee was a soft-spoken, gentle girl with freckles, fair skin and red hair. The moment I laid eyes on her, I couldn’t help but love her.

Crystal took me aside and said, “A few weeks ago, Kaycee told me she couldn’t go through with this. She said that it was better for her to pass on than to take a kidney from her best friend. I told her that I wanted to do this.”

Crystal also told me a little about Kaycee’s background. She received her first transplant when she was two years old. That kidney (from her mother), had lasted almost 20 years. Since then, she’d been on massive amounts of drugs and had already endured countless hospitalizations and surgeries. A few years earlier, Kaycee’s beloved father had died suddenly.

At one point during the five-hour surgery, Kaycee’s stalwart mother stepped into a corner of the waiting room and sobbed uncontrollably. I felt a wave of compassion for this woman. How blessed I’d been to have had three healthy girls. How short-sighted and small-minded I’d been to rail against this procedure.

Here was a mother, hoping and praying that her child would live to see her 30th birthday. Tears came to my eyes.


Kasee (left) and Crystal (right)

Kaycee (left) and Crystal (right)


Soon, the surgeons re-appeared and told us that everything went very well. Within 24 hours of Kaycee’s surgery, the new kidney had produced eight quarts of urine.

“Dialysis is poor substitute for a God-made kidney,” the surgeon told us the next morning. “Kaycee’s new kidney is already hard at work, searching her body for unneeded waste and finding lots of things dialysis left behind. It’s already doing a fine job. And have you seen her? She looks better already!”

Within two months, Kaycee looked and felt like a new person. For the first time in two years, she was free to drink more than one liter of fluid per day. And no more one-hour drives to the dialysis center and three-hour waits. And no more swollen ankles and highly restrictive diet.

In retrospect, I’d have to say that, of the two girls, Crystal may have gleaned an even bigger blessing. After this event, her eyes were opened wide and she saw that one person can make a huge difference in this world and she’d been that one person. While she was still in the hospital room recovering, my quiet husband leaned toward her and whispered, “You are my hero.”

Crystal and Kaycee’s story was featured in a four-part series on a local TV news show, and inspired thousands of viewers. The reporter told me that viewer response was wonderful and people were profoundly affected by her unselfishness and pure love and generous spirit.

And I learned that our Creator gives us a few spare parts and one of them is kidneys. Most people can live a good, long life with only one kidney. And if Crystal is ever in need of a donor kidney, her name will be moved to the top of the donor list.

While convalescing, Crystal lived with my husband and me for several months and then she decided it was time to make some long-term goals a reality. She returned to college, supporting herself by working full-time as a waitress. She graduated in Spring 2010 and was hired by CMA CGM within hours of graduation from Meredith College.

I’m so proud of her for so many reasons. Yes, I invested a lot of healthy food and good effort and persistent prayer into growing those two healthy kidneys. Little did I know that one of them would be needed 26 years later to save someone else’s little girl.

To read the original news article that appeared in the Illinois press, click here.

To read more about live organ donation, click here or here.

Kasee and Rissle, several months after their surgery

Kasee and Rissle, several months after their surgery.

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Archaic Rituals of Death and Their Meaning

August 13th, 2010 Sears Homes No comments

In one of my favorite movies, Fried Green Tomatoes, there’s a scene where the young woman dies and her attendant immediately arises and covers a large mirror and then stops a nearby clock. I’d always been fascinated by this old tradition/ritual and wondered about its meaning. I assumed that these practices must have a reason , but I had no idea what that reason might be.

And then I happened to talk to an old friend who explained the reasons for these “odd” traditions.

Let me tell you about my old friend. Her name is Joyce and she’s in her late 70s now, but was raised in the backwoods Georgia of the 1930s. Translated: It was a land and a time more reminiscent of Victorian America. When Joyce was growing up, she had a little sister named Louise that died at the age of three from whooping cough. Joyce remembers “Granny” rocking the child through the night and praying for her, hoping against hope that the little girl would pull through. It wasn’t to be.

Sometime in the wee hours, the little girl looked up at Granny, smiled broadly and passed on quietly. Later that morning, someone in the family went outside and rang the large bell in the front yard.

“It was almost like morse code,” Joyce said. “The bell was tolled a certain number of times for different things. When Louise died, they rang the bell a certain number of times and everyone knew what it meant. Almost immediately, people started coming to the house to help.”

Joyce said they sent the little girl’s body to the mortician who embalmed it and returned the body to the family, for the wake at home. In preparation for the wake, the mortician brought heavy, deep red draperies into the front room of the old house and hung them over the windows, blocking out all sunlight.

“I’m not sure why they put up those drapes,” she said. “Maybe it was to give a solemnity to the wake.”

During the two days of the wake, the little girl’s beloved dog sat dutifully beside the coffin and emitted a mournful wail. The mourners commented on that lamentable howling, and it left them all with a chill. After the wake, the coffin was moved to the church where a service was held. The child’s body was buried in the church cemetery.

The dog followed the family to the cemetery. Some time later, the dog’s body was found along the road. It appeared that the little girl’s pet had literally laid down and died.

My friend Joyce knows a lot about the old ways and about these old rituals.

When one of her elderly aunts lay dying, a family member sat quietly by the bedside. When the old woman breathed her last, the family member arose and draped a heavy cloth over the mirror and opened the clock’s glass face and stopped the clock.

“I saw someone do that in a movie,” I told Joyce. “What’s that about?”

“The cloth over the mirror is for the protection of the departed,” she said. “It’s believed that the spirits of our loved ones may glance into a mirror and become frightened when they see no one looking back.”

That had a resonance of truth, as I’d heard stories about people with near-death experiences saying they couldn’t see any reflection when they looked in a mirror. Wonder how they knew about that back in the 1930s?

“And the clock was stopped for a much more practical reason,” she said. “The clock was stopped so that the mortician would know the time of death.

There was also a requirement - never to be breached - that a loved one sit with the body until burial. I’d imagine this was a throwback to olden days before medical equipment when the dead occasionally came back to life (much to the surprise of the watcher).

It was all fascinating.

As Tevye sings in Fiddler on the Roof, “because of our traditions, we’ve kept our balance for many years.”

Traditions should be remembered and honored, because oftimes, they were created for very practical reasons.


Note at the bottom of this old tombstone, the macabre reminder, "Reader, you must die." Photo is courtesy of Crystal Thornton, copyright 2009, Crystal Thornton.