September 12, 2010[Most recent update: October 31, 2010: Arnie has returned home to Heaven, and Valerie M. has hopefully found a new place to live]
As one of Michael’s Angels, we begin to realize the enormous undertaking we have placed upon our shoulders in carrying on his legacy. So many things need to be done and changed, and so much help is needed that thinking about where to start can be a little daunting. Sometimes when looking at the different ways we can contribute, we don’t always see that the opportunity to help someone is closer to home than we realize.
Valerie M. is blind, and in December of 2009, contacted our then-Director of Operations & Administration/Member Relations, also named Valerie, inquiring how she could sign up for her dot. Even with access to technology that allows her to “read” things online, the technology doesn’t work well with some applications, so help would be needed. MJTP’s Valerie worked with Valerie M. to set up her account. Since then, the two Valerie’s have worked together to help other blind MJ fans become dots in The Michael Jackson Tribute Portrait. Once they have their dots, Theronda, another MJTP volunteer, helps Valerie M. and her friends with their accounts as needed. Through her exquisite poetry, Valerie M. was introduced to Valmai, and another friendship was born. Another example of how the MJTP has brought people together, Valerie M. has stayed in touch with us ladies, been there for us in times of need, and has kept us up-to-date with her own life’s happenings. Now more than ever, she needs us to send love and support her way.
Valerie M. is a genuine angel with a kind and loving heart, and has been quietly carrying a burden, shared only with friends on the MJTP and her family. It is an affliction she has shouldered with strength and faith in both God and Michael, but even the strongest can falter when things prove to be too much to handle alone. The pressure and stress has reached a point where she now needs our help to see her through this painful and difficult period.
While trying to deal with her own health problems she has also been caring for husband, Arnie, who has more than his share of health problems as well. Apart from his minor ailments, Arnie is a diabetic and is also in the end stages of cirrhosis of the liver. In a recent note sent to her friends, Valerie M. describes a recent event that she gave her permission for us to share with you all.
Hi everyone, just a quick note--was taken with Arnie to the ER Wednesday after he slid to the bathroom floor and couldn't get the strength to get up. I tried lifting him, but couldn't, gave him orange juice in case it was his sugar, then called 911. We were both taken and were both in observation (me, because I broke down and being exhausted from not getting a lot of sleep for the last 2 weeks with Arnie being so weak, but I was ok. Was at Mary's for the night. Arnie's cirrhosis is in end stage now, so he needs to have liquid removed from his stomach, one of this disease's traits. His cirrhosis is non-alcoholic. He will possibly be hospital[ized] awhile…. I'm being frank, We are in shock and I'm devastated, deeply upset and am not feeling well with my anxiety and depression. There are serious problems with our house also, for which we need prayer. It's too long and complicated for an email. Please pray. Thanks. Val
We can’t begin to imagine what Valerie M. and Arnie have been going through all these months, and it is heartbreaking to know that they have mostly gone through it alone. We are one family here, so the MJTP Team are calling all of Michael’s Angels to leave their notes of support and encouragement below, and to join hands in prayer and love for these two beautiful souls. Your notes will be forwarded to Valerie M, and surely she will be able to feel your love. Together, we can help make a difference and show them that they are not alone; that we are here for them. That’s what L.O.V.E is all about.
UPDATED SEPTEMBER 14, 2010: We received the below update from Valerie M. late yesterday afternoon:
Hi dear family, Arnie had the procedure this afternoon to remove fluid from his stomach. Amazingly, they removed six liters! He came through well, tired, but eating better....I feel a little better, sleep helps and my back is much better. Much love, Val
UPDATED SEPTEMBER 15, 2010:
Hi dear all, Arnie was transferred last night to [a convalescent home]. He is eating better and is doing ok. He doesn't have a phone yet-some problem with the lines-but will have one tomorrow afternoon, hopefully. They may start physical therapy soon. Iwent to see Dr.- today and, due to a glitch in the computer, my case was closed, even though the charts were still active. The doctor and clinician tried to straighten it out with no success. There is so much change in staffing that things get mishandled. So, I'll have to go through an Intake, which isn't available til 11/2. One of the social workers, W-, was such a sweet, caring person. At least I got a chance to talk to her and she really helped. God bless her. Love, Val
UPDATED SEPTEMBER 16, 2010:
Hi dear family...[Arnie] had physical therapy this morning and it really wore him out since he's so weak. He's sleeping quite a bit. He is eating better. Monday we'll be meeting with the social worker to plan his schedule while he's there. I'll let you know what's going on. I've managed to get a sore throat, so it's tea, soup and orange juice, medicine and rest. Love you all, Val
UPDATED SEPTEMBER 17, 2010:
Hello, beloved MJTP family. Wow! I have just begun listening to the messages Valerie [MJTP] has forwarded and am amazed! There is no doubt Michael has the best fans on earth and, again, this tribute site is nothing short of miraculous. I love you all and not ashamed to say how much Arnie and I need your love and support. Sometimes, the uncertainty of Arnie's illnesses and my sorrow and fear make both of us overwhelmed. Michael has a vibrant strength during this year. His voice is the sound of hope for me. He is angelic in his singing-he helps me every day and still is the only thing thatlets me fall asleep at night. Thank you so much, Val, Valmai, Therhonda and all MJTP. You help me to realize Arnie and I are not alone. Thank you, sweet Michael, for still being with all of us from the heavenlies. MJ love, Val
UPDATED SEPTEMBER 21, 2010:
Hi dear family, Thought I'd catch you up on Arnie. I had attended a meeting today with the social worker, dietitian, aid and phys. therapy lady to go over his plan. He's very weak, due to the cirrhosis and the aspiration a week ago. He can eat by himself, needs some assistance dressing, needs maximum assistance getting in and out of bed and with bathroom needs. He can walk a few feet with a rolling walker. They said they will work slowly to help him get stronger. It's so hard, guys. I held his hand and he seems so weak. We had lunch together (they gave me a guest tray), talked and watched his favorite tv show, Bonanza. I asked them to be encouraging, and they said they will without pressuring him, so that is good. I like them, they really are caring and very helpful. Please pray for Arnie and his roommate John, who had to go back to the hospital today. Much love, Valerie
UPDATED MORNING OF SEPTEMBER 22, 2010:
Just learned Arnie will be going to ER this afternoon. Dr. wants him to have some tests and, if he's dehydrated, he'll have an IV. Please pray. He's very weak and tired. Val
UPDATED EVENING OF SEPTEMBER 22, 2010:
Arnie will be put in CCU, he is in Renal failure and is getting treatment for high potassium. We need much prayer. Val
UPDATED SEPTEMBER 25, 2010:
Hi dear family, Arnie has been moved from MICU to the 4th floor (Oncology). There is some kind of mass on his liver and Dr.- will be in Sunday to tell us about it. He is eating liquids and has good people on that floor. The great part is that family can stay in the room, so I'll be going there for a few days. That will be so good. Please pray for all of us. I hope I can be a comfort to him. We're both scared, but I am trusting God and our sweet Michael to help and guide us. Love, Val
UPDATED EVENING OF SEPTEMBER 26, 2010:
Dear MJ family, …this is hard to write. Dr. F- came to see Arnie about the mass in the liver. They don't know exactly what it is. A liver biopsy would have to be done and, because the liver is so bad, any invasive attempt will start him bleeding. We're having a second doctor give his assessment along with Dr. N- also. A chest x-ray is now showing [nodules] in his lung, which means whatever this mass in his liver is, it's spread. He said more, but I won't detail. He brought up Hospice, which my mom had. There's no time frame-but Arnie would [need] professional care 24-7 because of all the health issues he has. He can't sit up and use his hands, he has to be fed. Though we all pray for healing, we don't want him to suffer. This is [devastating]. I will pray him through whatever God's decision is. It's the hardest prayer I have ever prayed. Please pray for Arnie and for all of us. We're all in shock, trying to absorb all this. much love, Valerie
UPDATED SEPTEMBER 28, 2010:
Hi all, …Dr. N- agreed a biopsy is unnecessary. He did say we may want to consider Hospice for [Arnie], which we already did, so we hope to talk more in depth with them in the next few days. I don't know how, but I got some kind of bug and haven't been able to go visit since they won't let anyone who is sick on the floor. I'm upset, though I understand why--it just makes this harder. Please pray for Arnie as they will remove the fluid from his stomach. There's a small infection too. I feel so much sorrow, it rushes in like a river along with floods of tears, I pray all the time for strength. I am holding the Lord's hand, and St. Francis. It helps to listen to the Bible, especially the Psalms, and MJ's soothing songs. Thanks for being there. I love you. Val
UPDATED OCTOBER 1, 2010:
Hi dearest Val and MJTP family, I am overwhelmed by the oceans of love pouring out from everyone all over the world from Michael's fan-family at MJTP. You are the most amazing folks! I read the messages and truly feel the love from you and Michael surrounding us. What a blessing you all are!
It looks as if Arnie will be monitored yet in [the] Hospital. His kidneys are stabilized right now, so Dr. – is allowing him to have solid food--boy, he really disliked the renal purée stuff. We are getting Medicaid for him with the incredible help of a social worker from [the hospital]and [the doctors]. We are praying Arnie will be able go to a Hospice facility right near our daughter Mary... He knows how ill he is and is very happy about Hospice. Mary has been an angel to us and is such a brave, loving girl. She is like Michael, very compassionate, playful and a super mommy to baby Levi, our grandson. He'll be a year old this month.
I think part of me is in shock, another part of me is grieving. I always feel comforted listening to Michael. It never ceases to amaze me how much strength he gives me when I am crying or having trouble coping in this situation. He makes me know God is with us. You all cement that realization. I love all of you so much. From the first day I found MJTP in 12/09, you have been a godsend--and now more than ever. Love in MJ, Val, Arnie, Mary and fiancé Jack and Levi
UPDATED OCTOBER 5, 2010:
Hi dear family, Arnie is still at [the hospital]. His kidneys have stablized, which is good, but the cancer doctor came in before we got there trying to talk Arnie in to a liver biopsy and chimo. It upset him, because the doctor wasn't listening to his feelings. We assured him that it's his decision and even Dr. - said it would do more harm. We are trying to get Medicaid and other funding for Hospice right now as well. Arnie hasn't been eating very well, today he was too upset. He is on the 4th floor, room 420, but is unable to pick up the phone. Pray these things can be worked out. We're rather upset. Val
UPDATED OCTOBER 6, 2010:
Hi again, a short update on Arnie...the financial difficulties have been clarified, so Arnie will be moving to Center Of Hope Hospice tomorrow... The place looks like a hotel. Every person has their own room, tv, kitchenette with mini-fridge and personalized care routine. There is a living room with a fireplace and piano, a chapel and a library. There's a wooded trail in the back. Very peaceful. We're very grateful for this. It's hard knowing why he's going there. Again, my heart is breaking and Mary's too. Michael Jackson's song, "Keep The Faith" is my musical prayer. We are very aware of the Lord's presence. The prayers of all of you are keeping us going. Much love, Val
UPDATED OCTOBER 8, 2010:
Hi all, Arnie is moved in at the [hospice]. He's doing ok now that he's there, it's calmer and quieter. He doesn't talk much now and is confused. I can definitely stay as long as I want there, so I will. The room has a mini-fridge, bathroom and recliner. Pray that God will sustain me and Mary, Levi and Jack and especially Arnie through all that's ahead. Love, Valerie
UPDATED OCTOBER 10, 2010:
Arnie went home to the Lord at , p.m. on 10/9/10. He fell in to a semi-coma/deep sleep Saturday afternoon and his respiration became shallower as time went on. He hadn't eaten at all and, though we knew he was poor, we never expected it to happen so fast. Mary and I were holding his hands. He died as I was singing a song "Brother Sun, Sister Moon" to him. It was peaceful and God-filled. The sadness is exquisite, but I know he's ok, health-filled and can see. Please pray for us as we go through the next days. God answered our prayers-Arnie wanted to be at hospice and he passed beautifully and gently in to Heaven. Val
Lyrics to "Brother Sun and Sister Moon" by Artist Donovan
(original film version) Brother Sun and Sister Moon, I seldom see you, seldom hear your tune Preoccupied with selfish misery.
Brother Wind and Sister Air, Open my eyes to visions pure and fair. That I may see the glory around me.
I am God's creature, of God I am a part I feel your love awaking in my heart
Brother Sun and Sister Moon I now do see you, I can hear your tune So much in love with all that I survey
UPDATED: OCTOBER 20, 2010:
Hello, dear family, I found out today that our name has come up for an apartment in the housing for seniors/disabled and one is available very soon (in about a month). We'd put in for it back in the winter, and have been waiting to hear we were accepted--things like this never happen this fast, so I know it's Jesus and the prayers of my Arnie. The rent is thirty percent of your income, and the cats can come with me. I was terrified of losing them-these two little angels mean the world to me and I couldn't give them up. Anyway, I can move in a month. I am going to talk to the lady tomorrow, but as far as I'm concerned, I'm taking it! It would relieve 80 percent of the stress I'm under and also remove the financial burden here. Please pray this will go smoothly. I am so happy about it! Will keep you posted. Love, Val
UPDATED OCTOBER 24, 2010:
Hello, dear all, Just a quick note to let you know how things are. Here's hoping things are good with you. It's very sad and strange without Arnie. My heart is heavy and hollow feeling, a huge empty space. Time seems suspended somehow and fast too. I am looking forward to little Levi's birthday on Oct. 29th, he will be a year old. I'll see [the doctor] 11/2 and my meeting with Social Security is 11/5. I am so happy about the apartment. It's close enough so I can move gradually and not have a huge expense. More on that as time goes on. Been extremely tired, Mary, too. We both have terrible colds-yes, back to soup, juice, tea, medicine and lots of sleep. Not much otherwise.
I send big hugs and thanks to all of you, Val
UPDATED OCTOBER 26, 2010:
Hey, MJ friends and MJTP,
It's just me, Valerie coming in to tell you how much I love you all. Your messages of support and l-o-v-e are a sustaining source of strength and comfort as I go forward now. I miss Arnie so deeply. I have an excruciating heart-hurt and loneliness I've never felt before. I want to get some bereavement counseling. I do have to smile thinking of Arnie and our Michael together--I bet MJ is showing Arnie all the beauty of Heaven!
November is going to be tough. Mary's birthday, our Anniversary and my birthday are just days apart, so we'll be dealing with them. I am really looking forward to moving and grandson, Levi will be 1-year-old 10/29. He is going to be a teddy bear for Halloween.
So thrilled to hear the wonderful news about Joshua-thank you, Lord! I love you for all time...keep the faith, Val
A Poem for Arnie:
Blistering pain surrounds my heart causing cracks of sorrowful loneliness seeping through my spirit
I'm told to hold on, it will become bearable in time…I know it will But, I am still crying-
The sound of your voice, waves of bright laughter footsteps on the stairs, spoon stirring coffee that I can hear in memory...
Yet, you are with me, intangible, vibrant in spiritual awareness ever present easing the heart rain that falls from missing you.
UPDATED OCTOBER 31, 2010:
Hi dear family,
Hope you are all doing well and enjoying the Fall weather. I love the brisk air and sound of leaves scattering in the wind. I keep remembering the beautiful colors of the Autumn leaves. I wonder what beauty Arnie is seeing in Heaven? Though I cry missing him, I smile thinking of him seeing perfectly and being with so many people celebrating God.
It is just about official that I will be moving by 12/1 to [an apartment for the disabled]. I had to get fingerprinted Friday and am waiting for clearance. There are activities to go to and the building has social workers on staff. I need prayer for Social Security to clarify what income I will receive--am meeting with them Friday. I am taking as little as I can with me when I move. I will need second-hand furniture, because ours is either too big or too old—very old!
The hard part will be sorting Braille, CDs/tapes. When I actually see the apartment, I'll know more. Unfortunately, the computer I was waiting for was sent to someone else while I was at Mary's, but after the new year, I will contact the organization. They said they will send one. It's probably best since I'd have to get settled first anyway.
The Lord is awesomely comforting and so is St. Francis, all of you and MJ-Michael Jackson-and his angelic voice. He loved trees and all the Fall color too. Levi was one-year on 10/29. Mary went to the dollar store and got balloons and ribbon and decorated the house. Levi loved it, he is dressing up as a teddybear for Halloween. It's a plush-feel one piece suit with a hat with teddy ears and the feet and hands look like paws. It's adorable!
I love you all. I cherish each one of you and thank you for your love, prayers and support. ~Val
Please continue to keep Valerie M. in your prayers.
For Valerie M. and Arnie, Valmai Owens, MJTP Director of Publications Valerie, MJTP Director of Philanthropy