Tag Archives: family house


Donating a kidney has been a catalyst to finding joy in my life. Part of this journey was staying at the family home just two days after donation.

At the family house I connected with a dozen or more families who had a loved one in need or were receiving an organ. My own situation seemed trivial at the time. The worries that kept me up at night suddenly felt wasteful. I found myself feeling present and seeing the world entirely different. 

I love this excerpt from David Whyte’s poem “Giving”.To give is to make our own identities more real in the world by committing to something specific in the other person and something tangible that could represent that quality. To give is also to carry out the difficult task of putting something of our own essence in what we have given”.

Giving takes practice and commitment in seeing the other person. Isn’t that what we all want? To be seen? Some of the stories I hear from friends this holiday season are about simple moments of giving. Someone that cares and takes the time to listen with humility, or small acts of kindness from strangers.

Home for the Holidays

Home for the Holidays

On this Christmas Day I find myself grateful for having my grown children under the same roof, the health of my family and friends and the love that we share. The blanket of snow that covers the ground and the sun that pours in through the window makes a beautiful day.

My wish for everyone today is to take a moment and appreciate the gifts in your life.




Healing and thoughts – Living kidney donor (9)

The gift of being in a healing place is thought and time. My thoughts feel more open, less stories in my head to back up my old beliefs.  We go through our lives telling the same stories, sometimes we enhance these events in our lives so that we can maintain the anger, the sadness or distance.

My Mom has been a huge lesson for me. She came over from Utrecht, Holland after the war at the age of 18. My Oma (grandmother) brought at least six of her ten children to Canada to create a better life for them. Today we call this entrepreneurship. “one who undertakes innovation to transform for financial good”.

When my Mom first arrived in Edmonton, Canada she did not know the english language. It was difficult being a young expressive person trying to fit into a new culture. She quickly met my father, married and had her first four of six  children– in less than four years. She devoted all of herself to us kids, always keeping a part time job and working tirelessly to take care of us.  I love my Mother’s dutch accent, but for her it always made her feel separate.

My Mom is now 78 years old and recently moved across the country to California to be near my brother and sister. I believe she did this for an adventure, an opportunity to recreate herself and perhaps not get too comfortable. She walks two miles a day and manages her diabetes very well.

Often being the daughter we find fault in those we love. We look to create our own destiny, to do better, to know more.  At some point we stop striving and look at ourselves and those we love not by what we have accomplished, how much money we have or who we know – but about the relationships we share. 

Being number four of a busy family, I have not spent a lot of one-on-one time with my Mom. As far back as I can remember this is the first time that I have been in a position where I needed compassion, patience, love and understanding. My Mom has not let me down, she has been an angel and I am so grateful to have this opportunity to be with her. She is an amazingly strong women that deserves nothing but respect.

I am proud to be her daughter. W

Day 9 – Healing, kidney donor

Today marks the ninth day since I donated my kidney through the National Kidney Registry so that my brother

Family dinner Tim, Emily, my Mom and Julie

Tim could receive a kidney. Tim’s surgery is this coming Thursday and I am so excited. I know that sounds strange, however I expect it to be successful and for Tim to no longer be on a dialysis machine every other day of his life. I am looking forward to my brother having a healthier life. 

For me, I actually feel pretty good. I have some pain in my stomach from the surgery and I get tired rather quickly. But that’s about it, everything is manageable. My only challenge is that I cannot pick up over 5lbs of anything for the next four weeks. This becomes more difficult as my health and energy improve.

I am still at the family house for another week and I have had plenty of company. My Mom has been with me since the surgery and has been an angel, she’s been so patient and kind.  I have a new appreciation for her! 

My brother Trevor and his wife Jeanne were visiting yesterday and we shared a large pasta dinner along with my brother Tim, his wife Julie and daughter Emily. Today my friend Mary Beth stopped in, we had a cup of tea and talked about our life.

I have seen a great deal of Tim, Julie and Emily this past week. It’s been really nice connecting and getting to know my niece better. She is so delightful and full of energy.  My brother Tim is amazing, so strong and has been through so much.

I am so grateful for my health, family and friends.


The family house – kidney living donor

The family house is a non profit organization that offers housing/living services to patients and families from around the world. Www.familyhouse.org it’s a beautiful facility with an amazing kitchen to cook in, Not that I’m a great cook, but this kitchen is inspiring. Imagine several families all cooking and sharing their stories– it’s an amazing healing experience.

My mom from california, my brother Shane and sister in law Debbie from North Carolina and I, all shared a suite while I started recuperating from the surgery. I was released from the hospital on Saturday afternoon, just two days after the surgery.  The first night my brother Tim and his family stopped in. It was really nice, we all sat in the library together, it was clear we were all exhausted after the surgery.

Their are so many stories at the family house of people waiting or recovering from liver, pancreas, heart, lung and kidney transplants. I have met a women from Israel, a mother and daughter from Ecuador, families from all over the USA. They have sad, happy, and heroic stories.

One thing I know for sure is I am grateful to be in Pittsburgh and receiving treatment from such an amazing transplant team at UPMC.