The Interview

After 16 years in the Media & Entertainment business, Michael Manning has built a significant portfolio of newspaper, magazine, radio and television interviews ranging from actors and musicians to CEO’s in the world of business and much more.    

What distinguishes “The Interview” from many Television and Radio programs of the same genre, is that Michael chooses to casually “visit” with each Guest, (many selected from his Blogroll) as if they were having coffee at a café and just sharing conversation casually. "In this setting, my Guests are much more relaxed and encouraged to be themselves, and the result is usually having the honor of spending some quality time with someone in a more reflective mood", said Michael. "I have been on both sides of the table, and that experience has allowed me to pose questions with the utmost respect and care to my Guest  without depriving the audience of gaining a sense of their personality. In comes the warmth and often humor resulting in a meaningful experience that really stays with you for some time. And that's what the experience should be!" he said.  

 Please join Michael for his newest segment, simply called: "The Interview".

Friday, September 25, 2009

DIPG: THE INTERVIEW PRESENTS BRIAN & JANELLE JONES (PART 3 OF 4)

Brian with daughter Natalie Rose Jones
Good Morning! How do I begin to say this? I'll just dive right in. We learn today so much more about Natalie Rose Jones and it is absolutely endearing and hopeful. I also asked a lot of Brian and Janelle. But they are brother and sister to me, and we have a trust in our friendship where I feel that I can do that, and do so with the utmost sensitivity and honor and respect. So, with this in mind, I asked The Jones' to reach out and speak directly to parents who have a newly diagnosed child with DIPG, to parents who have suffered the loss of their child to DIPG and to friends, caregivers and people in the community at large who may not know what to say. Brian was chuckling at how I would get around to transcribing this portion of our visit and joked as he pointed to my tape recorder, he said, 'That'll be your own insanity as you figure that one out!' Brian and Janelle have a beautiful sense of humor. But actually, It was a labor of love for me to transcribe this visit Brian resumes now with some reflections of Natalie Rose.
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Brian:
When you get your school list of what you need for the start of the year, she would always want us to buy extra. This was after Kindergarten. And after Kindergarten, we'd always buy more pencils and more markers because she always knew there were kids that didn't have those things. There was always somebody in class. She paid attention to what was going on, and in her world around her. And that was her world! The world you live in, is the world we need to be concerned about. And if everybody did that, the world would be a better place to live in!

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Manning: I agree!
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Brian: And that was her motto: 'If we could all work together, the world would be a better place.' We were in Minnesota and it was on a grand scale. It went from extra pencils and glue to...Janelle and I whenever we'd go shopping we'd just throw in extra goodies. It was just given to the teachers. She came home from school. Fall had definitely hit Minnesota. They had a rule at the school that if you didn't have rubber boots, you didn't have gloves, you didn't have a stocking cap, you didn't have winter clothes you couldn't go outside. And they would go outside. Thy believed in getting fresh air. But a couple of Natalie's friends and a couple of people that she noticed couldn't go outside. So, she came home and she asked her Mom and me if we could go, and she was going to get an award for her spelling. And we'd always go to a movie if she didn't have to take a spelling test.
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Janelle: To do something special for her.
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Brian: She wanted to use that money to go buy clothes or something and take it to school for these kids. Janelle and I, with open hearts that we have, went to Target. They happened to have sales. And I mean, she kind of knew what size and what colors. So, we bought...it doesn't matter what we spent, but we bought boots and hats and gloves and we had two extra sets of snow pants that we had, and a jacket and Janelle took her to school that day and took them in. Natalie did not want those kids to know that it was her. She just wanted to take them into the teacher, give them to the teacher so the teacher could give them out at recess. That was all she wanted. She didn't want no anything. Janelle went in there and the teacher said 'Yeah, right. No. This class, this school gets to know about Natalie, and about her gift of Love and Sharing. And it isn't about putting her up on a pedestal, or look at what Natalie did or what Natalie's family did. But no. This was a gift from Natalie'. And it was okay. But she would always give. The new kid that moved into town, into school, Natalie was the girl who would go be friends with that person, at least on that first day or the second-day, making sure. You know. How to go through the Lunch Line...the whole thing. If somebody was picking on that child and they were crippled or had a speech impediment or something like that, Natalie would make it a point to go talk with that person and most likely, go up to that person making fun and say, 'You know, that isn't very nice'.
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Manning: Empathy!
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Brian: Empathy. She had a gift of laughter. And there's things that we've read since she passed in her journal. She knew. She knew this was her journey. She didn't know what it would look like. But you can't tell me. Janelle and I have a belief that we were extremely blessed to have been her parents.
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Manning: Sure.
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Janelle: She chose us.
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Brian: She chose us and we were very blessed. But that's who she was. She was a child that you couldn't give a run of the mill answer.
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Janelle: Because that was unacceptable. (laughter). She'd pout until you gave her an answer.
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Brian: Rosa Parks, Martin Luther King, The Kennedy's, you know. Why? She figured out just in the years going to school to History Class and things like that, 'Why do all these people that tried to change the world, why did they get killed? Why did that happen (the arrest) to Rosa Parks?' So, I explained that. And when Natalie wanted to go and sign those petitions, I think some of that came out of how Janelle and I raised her at home. Rosa Parks didn't get up that day and decide, 'I'm going to get in front of the bus that day and create this huge Civil Rights Movement.' She made the change. She did that. If she thought about everything that happened as we know it, she might not have done it!
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Janelle: After she was diagnosed (with DIPG) she and I went to the grocery store and she had gotten her leg brace and she said, 'Mom, I used to be a giver. I used to help the kids at school, or be the one that offered a the ones who needed it a little bit of extra help. Now I'm a taker. Now, I'm a taker' And oh! I had to think of something and it just came out, and I said 'You know what, Nat? Yeah, you were a taker. But think about how you felt when you gave, when you helped out others'. She said, 'Well, it made me feel very good'. I said, 'Well, you know what? You're still a giver because, think about the kids that can now help you and how they must feel when they help you'. We learned so much from each other that five-and-a-half months that she was ill. I wouldn't wish that on anybody. But I feel like there were some tremendous gifts within that five-and-half-months that were pretty amazing.
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Brian: We prayed every day for a healing in many different forms. And of course, when you're present with a sick child, so much healing took place in our family. Whether it was through kids, or Janelle's first husband Tracy Byrd or my first wife, Roxanne. And the amount of healing that was taking place in our lives, and I mean the different healing and relationships. When people ask us, 'Who was Natalie?', I mean we were blessed. We got to share her through her website and through things and when people ask us now that she's past, 'How do you guys do it? How do you live?' And it's principles Janelle and I live by.
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Manning: I constantly think about that with you! Constantly!!
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Brian: Well, I mean that's a whole other story.
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Janelle: There are days where we don't want to get out of bed. There are days where I see her picture on the wall or whatever, and burst into tears. But there are also days when I see something and laugh because like the feather story. Because she shows up in different ways now. We intellectualize everything so much. But when you heart's cracked wide open from this kind of experience, you're willing to think with your heart a lot of the time. And thinking with our heart is noticing others and noticing things like the feathers.
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Manning: You've had feathers show up at your doorstep.
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Brian: They've shown up on my leg.
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Manning: And I've had an opportunity here in Scottsdale at Camelot Therapeutic Horsemanship to experience that during a Drum Circle one night, where I had to pick a feather afterward. And the feather that I wound up picking for you all was said to have been a rare feather. But I was thinking of you all.
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Brian: Feathers became very important in this journey. Feathers started showing up. Janelle is a jogger...
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Janelle: I was out jogging even before Natalie was diagnosed, and I was out out jogging on West River Road near where we lived. I was doing my three to five mile run. Sometimes when I run, I pray or do a sort of meditation. And I stopped and was walking and happened to glance over the side of the sidewalk and there was feather laying there. I said "Oh my God, that looks like an Eagle feather'. And I was a little apprehensive about picking it up. And then I decided I was going to, and I picked it up and said 'Thank You' for the spirits that may have brought the Eagle itself. And was standing there looking at it and I took a few steps forward and I'm walking along and I picked up seen feathers in a row. It was really incredible and weird and exciting to find seven feathers like that.
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Manning: What time frame was this again? After she passed?
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Janelle: A couple of months before she was diagnosed.
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Brian: The Eagle feathers.
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Janelle: I took them home and I didn't know what to do with them. And I realize now that they were gifts for Natalie because two months later she was diagnosed with DIPG. We were sitting outside out back, Natalie's God-Mother and myself were sitting out back and we were talking about Natalie a few days after she was diagnosed and talking about radiation and what good that was going to do? And about nutrition and just a whole gamut of things. I was talking about, 'Well, I guess we'll just have to trust the process'. I happened to look down and Vicki said 'Look Janelle!' and there was this teeny tiny white feather sitting on my leg and we just laughed. Because we knew that the spirits were around us that the angels were around us and we were blessed and even in this turmoil that we were in we were blessed. From that time on, feathers have shown up at the most opportune times. Vicki is Natalie's God-Mother from Alaska. Vicki went home and she was talking to me on her cell phone and it went out. She called back and said,"I need to have this cell phone looked at because there is something wrong here'. She called me about a week later and said 'Janelle, you're not going to believe this. Guess what?' I said 'What?' She said, this guy took my phone in the back and he said 'Do you own birds or do you bird hunt?' And I said 'No, why?' He said, 'Well, the inside of the back of your phone was full of feathers and I had to clean it out and now it is functional again'. (laughter). So, we have a psychic friend in Minnesota and we were talking about all of the things that were showing up. And she said, 'Well, Natalie was always an over-achiever'.
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Brian: Yeah, Katherine Hardwick in Minnesota is a channeler, and it was hard for her because Janelle knew her on a personal basis before Natalie was diagnosed and Janelle went out to a few things that Katherine would have and Katherine would always comfort Janelle. And then, the day that Natalie passed Katherine called Janelle on the phone and there was a big shift, a big shift coming and going to take place and 'How are you doing?' and all of this. And I really honored that. So, these were the people that were called into our life to answer the call, to pick up the phone. And then after Natalie passed, Katherine was also there to be with us and to comfort us and to offer us her support even down to, 'Well, yeah the pipes in your basement are going to leak; your house is sad too'. She channels a group once a month in Maple Grove called The Light Collective. This gal was talking about the pipes leaking in her house and the entities that she channeled told her that the people that were living in her house were sad. We realized.
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Brian: We had a leak that we were chasing around the house for months.
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Janelle: Then after we came here...
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Manning: ...To Arizona...
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Janelle: ...yeah, we sprung a leak in our apartment. And it shows up. However it gets to show up, it shows up and I'm really okay with that because we are grieving. We're still grieving and it's been 18 months. We're still devastated, we're still crushed. We get to put one foot in front of the other and we get to be open to whatever messages Natalie sends to that and we get to honor that. Because it was her time to move or go through the door to the other side. Obviously it wasn't our time. Some days it's hard. But we have to trust the process.
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Manning: I mentioned on my Blog that I had to spend some time with my Pastor in Lubbock, Texas as I was moving across the country because I had a tremendous amount of grieving and questions and confusion in that, 'Here I am alive and well and Sahara Aldridge has passed away. Why is it that she was taken and not me?' And you know, a lot of us felt this way! B.J. and I stayed up talking for five-and-a-half hours until 3 A.M. on just that subject, and we talked a lot about Sahara! It affected so many people besides me. I even had a reader comment on my Blog recently and they questioned--understandably-- how a child like Gunner Gillespie could go through so much suffering and endure so much and it's so difficult to understand. I struggled again with Gunner's passing! Everyone will have their own questions. But what can you say to a parent who is having such difficulty in dealing with a loss of a child from your experience? I don't want to put you on the spot.
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Brian: No. I think that's where we have the advantage over people that haven't lost a child is that we belong to that club of people who have lost a child. To lose child in the way that these child are going through with the brain tumor children, with the DIPG, there's a lot that is behind the scenes that unless you have walked it and lived it...you have no idea. And I don't mean that sarcastically or anything else. But there is no way that I can graphically explain everything and it's just easier to say there's no way you can understand. We have that connection with other parents. But our experience was different than say, Gunner's Momma and Dad, Janna and Gus. Every experience is different. Janelle and I were 50 when Natalie was diagnosed. So, we're older. Our children were older. There's lots of circumstances. The biggest advice that I would give another parent would be: Ackowledge it. Honor it. Accept it. Never forget, and to feel what you're feeling when you're feeling it. Don't say, 'Next month when things are better, I'll feel it'. Or 'My husband and I are going to go on vacation and that's when we're ging to be able to relax and let down'. No. Feel it when it's happening. And these little things that Janelle and I have been talking about like feathers or music, things like that...pay attention to. And the sooner the better. We watched John Edwards in Crossing Over--a national TV show where he channels people. He was talking to a family and that's what he said. He was talking in a back yard and he said usually people don't come through to him when he's doing a home visit. And this husband wouldn't leave him alone when he was there visiting his daughter and his wife. He pointed out some things so is mother would realize that he was there, and then, some things that only she would know, and some things afterward that happened. And she said 'Well, he's been here the whole time!' Another thing is to ask for help, because there's people that are willing to help, there are organizations that are willing to help. If you can talk to someone who has been there through this same experience to be that way. And another one that is tough, I don't know. Maybe people reading this might understand it. Don't have expectations about other people...how you think they should feel. because when you are dealing with a death of a child, people don't know what to say; people don't know how to feel; people don't know what to do.
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Manning: I see that on my Blog Page all the time. There may be 900 people on the counter (visitors) and I may have 4 comments. It's only been recently that I've accepted that this is not an indicator of interest or feeling or a lack thereof!
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Brian: They don't know what to say. We were over at my Dad's the other day, and Dad and Jewel. I was talking about medical stuff and as soon as there was a parallel in the conversation through either a reference that 'Yeah, we did this when Natalie was sick'. My Dad just totally shut down, looked straight ahead and then removed himself from the table and went into the living room...and of course the living room is where conversations ultimately end up. And it was just easier for him to do that than grieve the loss of a Granddaughter, and then of course on top of that, you've got history here he lost a son (Brian's brother) and the whole thing. Where Janelle and I had losses throughout our whole lives, but Natalie was our only baby together. But to be honest, there's nothing anybody could say to me that would make me feel different. The only thing is, 'Love Ya!' or 'Is there anything I can do'?. But to be the other person who says, 'I'm really sorry about Natalie dying.' I really don't know what to say back. 'Oh yeah, it really sucks'. Or 'Thank you. Thanks for your love and your concern'. But I mean there's that communication to where the power of nothing sometimes is great whether it just be: 'Thinking of you today', 'My thoughts and prayers'.
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Janelle: You know that entry I put on Caringbridge and your response back. It really isn't about saying anything. Remember the Caringbridge address where I wrote about 'I See You'? I think that's the most important thing by seeing them, not by looking away. Because we notice that anyway, we just don't talk about it. When a person turns away and says, 'Oh My God I can't..I hope they didn't see me looking at them'. Just acknowledge. To see in each others eyes.
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Manning: I don't remember what I wrote!
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Brian: You wrote a great response. And that's it. because Janelle and I will write something on the Blog and we'll get 1,000 or 1,500 hits and there will be 2 or 3 people that respond to it and that's okay.
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Manning: Yeah, that's okay. I just learned that this past week. That was something new that I learned in my life just this week.
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Please Join Us As We
Wrap Up Our Visit
Tomorrow!


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