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Book Jacket

Trade Paperback
312 pages
Apr 2004

Candles in the Darkness: A True Story of Faith, Hope & Friendship

by Sally Fugazi & Debbie Harwell

Review  |   Author Bio  |  Read an Excerpt



The Lull Before the Storm

Kindred Spirits and Caregivers
Wheaties and Wine
Hospice and Hope
Summer Storms from the Veranda
Domestic Schizophrenia
Parents and Children

Kindred Spirits and Caregivers



Subj:      Hi Sally!

Date:      6/12/00 3:05:17 PM Central Daylight Time




Hi Sally –

Hope all was well when you got home from World Golf and you missed out on the Dallas area flooding. I was so glad to get home, but have to admit it would have been fun also to have another day or two after getting to know people better. Besides we never even made it to the pool, which is probably a sin in Florida!

I was paying some bills for my mom today and thought I'd send you the phone number for AARP customer service in case you still want to inquire about insurance for your mother.  They're very nice and one of the few places I've dealt with that don't give you a hassle when you are not the person named on the account.

Well that's about it from here. Keep in touch.

Take care, Debbie



Subj:      Re: hello in Texas!

Date:     6/14/00 9:34:45 AM Central Daylight Time




Good morning Debbie!

Thanks for the AARP number--I will use it. I am up to my ears in liquidating my widowed mother’s assets, getting all legal paperwork done etc. etc., but these are all things that when in place, will not have to be done again.

We have had lots of rain, but not to the point of flooding in our “neck of the woods,” just to the point of refilling the reservoirs and have an abundance of green growing things...rather like a tropical paradise. Any rainy/cool day we have now, is one less day to be hot this summer. My roses are growing well and producing some lovely little flowers--this first growing season for them will not produce a lot of big gorgeous blooms, as the plants need to acclimate to their new environment, but the fragrances are lovely.

It was really nice to meet you and spend some time together. Our next conference/whatever, will be more enjoyable as we can look forward to visiting. I feel like we are kindred spirits!

Hope your boys (including Tom) are enjoying summer in your new home in Houston.  You live in a lovely area.

Well, time to pack (again!!). We’re off to California and Wyoming for a vacation. I will be glad to come home and just stay here for the rest of the summer...

Hasta Luego!




Subj:      how was your trip?

Date:      6/21/00 2:56:11 PM Central Daylight Time




Hi Sally!

How was Wyoming? Beautiful and relaxing, no doubt. Things have been busy here.

You and my friend Trish are getting me quite interested in growing roses. I love the fragrance, but have always thought them too difficult for my meager (OK, non-existent) gardening skills.

At the conference you mentioned your daughter Tisa has an ultrasound soon. Hope all goes well with that. You must be so excited at the prospect of another grandchild!

By the way, how did your mother and your son Anthony manage together while you and Bob were away on vacation? That would NEVER have worked with our boys Travis and Austin. Even being teenagers, my mom wouldn’t let them cross the street.

It was great to spend time with you at the conference and I also feel like we are kindred spirits.  It's just too bad we didn't know sooner, I had the travel Scrabble in my suitcase!

Well, time for me to pick up Austin and fix us some dinner. 

Take care, Debbie



Subj:       Tune in tomorrow…

Date:      6/30/00 2:13:02 PM Central Daylight Time




Hi Debbie!

Jackson Hole, Yellowstone and surrounding areas are absolutely beautiful. On the sad side, we saw Bob's parents in Monterey and they are really both suffering with the pain of Bob's mother's radiation therapy. If she survives this it will truly be a miracle. It does not look too promising.

Saw all our friends from college days, and they look so much older than I do (yuck-yuck!). It was so nice to catch up on everyone's lives.

Now we are home and life here is like a soap opera. We have a wedding in our home next weekend for our youngest daughter Gina. Wedding arrangements have been hasty as the couple, who have been engaged since December, were a little too ambitious in their quest to “become one” and now they will soon be “three!” Yes, that makes two grandchildren to be born in December.

The good news is that our two daughters are sharing all their pregnancy woes with each other and have formed a strong support unit.

Am slowly but methodically getting my mother's affairs in order, and after the wedding we will seriously start looking for a place for her to call her own, nearby. With all the stuff going on in our family right now, I know she is looking forward to a little less excitement.

I thank God for his blessings that I can smile, while in the midst of family issues. On any given day I am dealing with four generations, frequently all under the same roof.  Time for me to get a job...what do you think? I think it could be my salvation! That, and a good sense of humor!

Speaking of roses, if you do take the plunge into roses, I'd be happy to give you advice via e-mail, as I grew roses in Houston for 14 years. Have fun! Let me know if you are going to plant and I'll e-mail you a little maintenance schedule, which will guarantee lovely flowers. If I can do it, you can too!

Must go, time to finalize flowers and cake for wedding--Good Lord! It's a zoo around here! Will keep you posted on the “Young and the Pregnant”--

Wouldn't it be nice to be sitting on a veranda somewhere right now, sipping wine and playing a good game of Scrabble?

Love, Sally



Subj:      the world turns here too

Date:      6/30/00 4:15:37 PM Central Daylight Time




Hi Sally!

Just came up to the computer to kill some time waiting for Tom to get home and got your e-mail. Nothing like a smile to brighten the day.

We are leaving this evening for four days in San Antonio/New Braunfels. It'll be our first family vacation in two years as all the trips we planned since then have been cancelled due to my parents' various illnesses. It won't be long, but it will be family time and it will be relaxing (picture the tube floating lazily down the Comal).

Glad to hear you had a good time on your trip. Sorry though to hear about Bob's mom.  I can certainly sympathize, but it doesn't ease the pain. I'll be keeping her in my prayers.

Sounds like you certainly have your hands full. A wedding at home is an ambitious undertaking! Good luck!!

This last week or so has been a little trying. My 87-year-old mother, Irene, who is in an assisted living facility, is insisting that I am somehow keeping her from seeing my dad. She refuses to accept the physical aspect of his passing away and wants to see him face to face. She knows in her heart this isn't possible, but somewhere between denial and dementia she can't always sort it out.

Fortunately, even though my dad has passed away, the hospice chaplain, Nancy still comes by to see my mom. My mother confides in her much more comfortably than with me, and Nancy is helping her to sort things out to some extent.

I finished this week with liquidating the last of their assets. It was a relief and sad at the same time. When we get back next week I have to get the neurologist to come by to see her. She also has been destroying her medicine since she found out we were taking a vacation.

If you ever need anyone to blow off steam to about the frustrations of caring for your mom's finances, medical needs, etc. you know where to go. Hopefully you and your mother will be able to have fun finding her a new home and getting it all to her liking when things settle down. It's good that you are looking for a place near by, as it will make life much easier on you in the long run. When we moved here from Florida, my parents moved into a nearby apartment that had a large seniors group with activities several times a week. They loved it! Heaven forbid you would even suggest missing the card games on Tuesday and Thursday! Anyway, it gave them something to look forward to and have their own life so to speak.

I had to laugh at what you said about getting a job to reduce life's challenges. I've gotten to be friends with one of the ladies who runs the food service at the Rosemont (Mom's asst. living). That's exactly why she's working. She's our age, two kids in high school, and got tired of everyone in her immediate and extended family turning to her to do all their errands etc. because she wasn't working. She swears she has more free time now (although I really doubt that). Actually, I think you hit the nail on the head with the good sense of humor.

Thanks for the rose info. We have a great place behind the garage as you suggested that gets plenty of sun.

If you ever come to Houston for a visit it would be great to get together if you have time.  We don't have a veranda, but we do have a deck, wine and Scrabble. The Harwells could even cook dinner if you were so inclined!

Well, Tom just called and is on his way home. I'm so excited! Four days, just the four of us - it's been too long. Good luck with the wedding and keep that sense of humor.

Love, Deb



Subj:      Re: life is beautiful?

Date:      7/10/00 7:07:46 PM Central Daylight Time





I looked at the date on your e-mail and am sorry it takes me so long to answer...we were in high gear last week with the wedding. I had to put my mother's affairs on hold, tell my daughter I couldn't come to visit my grandson, and counsel our son on how to break up with a girl who wants to marry him (he's sixteen...) plus plan a wedding in less than two weeks.

The wedding did happen, it was very nice, and hopefully Gina and our new son-in-law, Stephan will live happily ever after. We met his family, who are from Germany and they seem very nice.

Meanwhile, Gina and Tisa continue to grow and expand. They are lucky to share their pregnancies. Makes throwing up more fun!

Your mother sounds like she's going through some very typical emotional symptoms for one who suffers from dementia. Sounds like you have her in a nice place with good people to care for her. My prayers are with you as you work with all the details of her life. And yes, it is comforting to talk to someone who has a similar situation of care giving. Isn't it interesting how once you become a caregiver for your parents, that you realize that there are a lot of people out there experiencing the same situation!

At times I feel so stretched between four generations and there is no time to think about important things like painting my toenails...or taking a day to just do whatever comes to mind.  On the other hand, I do realize my life could be a lot worse (don't even go there) so I count my blessings (which are many--thank you, Lord) and keep plodding on.

I really have had enough crises this year to last the next decade. The interesting thing is that none of these issues are generated by Bob and I. They are coming from the generations that orbit around us. I guess that is what some people refer to as the golden years? That must apply to people who never had children, they were orphans and had no siblings. As for the rest of the world, our responsibilities seem to be multiplying instead of diminishing. I can see the future now, I will be living in squalor, going in and out of consciousness due to strokes and Alzheimer's, perennially giving advice and attempting to cook dinner for someone.

Think I'll start my new Harry Potter book tonight. Have you read these books? Total fun and fantasy. A literary vacation.

Speaking of vacations, hope you had a wonderful time in San Antonio & New Braunfels!  Great places to have some fun!

Take care, stay in the shade, and enjoy these long days of summer,

Love, Sal