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Faith Elizabeth Roland

4/29/1986

This is the story of my daughter Faith.

It was late August 1985 and I wasn’t feeling very well but thought nothing about it but in the back of my mind I thought “I just might be pregnant.” I called my medical clinic and asked if I could stop in for a pregnancy test on my way to work, they arranged it and I stopped and had it done on my way to work. I was running late for work I recall and I was trying not to give it too much thought because you see I had 2 little boys at home already and my plate was full as far as I was concerned. We had just purchased our first house in 1984, I was working part time, working the PM shift to save on daycare costs and yet being torn with the needs of my boys and yet having to provide an income for the family as well. My husband was working the day shift, he had just started a new job downtown St Paul and we did not see much of each other while working opposite shifts. So I really didn’t think I would be pregnant but wanted to put my mind at ease knowing one way or the other.

I remember driving to work that day as if it were today. For I was pulled over for the first time was given my only speeding ticket that I have ever had. I said to myself that “this was not a good sign for what was to come.” When I got to work I remember getting a call from the doctors clinic and was informed that my test did come out positive and that I was pregnant and expecting our third child. My heart sank and I felt bad that I could not rejoice with the news that most women would be delighted to hear. I kept the news to myself and didn’t share it with anyone for a few weeks after my first medical appt.

I was at a new medical clinic since we had moved 25 miles away from where we were living when I had our last son Aaron. I don’t recall how many different doctors I saw during my pregnancy but as time went on I was feeling good, energetic and happy, accepting the idea of having three children and moving on with the dreams only a mother would have with the anticipation of the birth of a new baby.

I remember it was at my February medical appointment that the doctor made mention to me that I was measuring larger than I should be for as far alone I was in my pregnancy. My due date was set at May 12 (Mother’s Day) and everything was going like clockwork as far as I knew. Since I had had 2 full term pregnancies with no complications there was no need to have any fears or concerns that I could think of. I was becoming a pro at this. My doctor was changed again between Feb and March and when I made my April appt I saw the same doctor I saw in Feb and he said he would like to have an ultrasound to see how big my baby was and to confirm the due date. I still did not think too much of his concerns and went ahead and scheduled an ultrasound for a mid afternoon appointment on my way to work I would stop and have this done. No one had suggested that I make sure to bring someone with me or that I should have my husband there with me for this appointment.

The day of my ultrasound was April 5, 1986. My husband was home with the boys, he had just lost his job a few weeks earlier and I was on my way to my appointment and then to work. When I checked in for the ultrasound I was having thoughts of being told that I was having a 10 pound baby boy and was feeling just fine other than having a large belly.

The technician called me into the room and had me slip into one of those nice hospital gowns and I was anxiously ready to see what my baby looked like and to see how big it was going to be. I recall lying on the table and watching the monitor and seeing the baby’s legs kicking around and seeing the arms and hands and feet and watching it move around and the technician was measuring the baby’s femur bone to determine the gestation period. After a little bit she turned off the monitor and said that she would be right back. It was a little while and when she came back she came back with a doctor for whom I had never met before. I don’t recall what his name was or anything about the man other than he would be the person to tell me the news that I was not prepared to hear from anyone. He turned on the monitor and felt my stomach and then turned off the monitor and looked at me and said, “I’m sorry but your baby is going to die.” That was the first I had heard of anything being wrong. I asked him how this could be possible for I just saw the baby kicking and moving around just fine. He told me that our baby was an anencephaly baby and that these babies do not live. He explained to me that my baby was missing the top of its head and brain. I felt like I was in a tunnel and that I was hearing other people talking to each other but not to me, I was hearing things that were foreign to me and that I had never heard of such a baby having this. The doctor asked me if I had anyone there with me and I said that I was all alone and on my way to work. The nurse was told to call my husband. While she was calling my husband, I asked the doctor if they could tell me what sex my baby was. They looked at the films and told me that it was a girl. When I heard that my heart just sank even more, all I can remember was sobbing uncontrollably and wondering where God was in all of this. I was told that I could get changed back into my clothes while waiting for my husband to come. While I was changing my clothes I remember crying out to God, Why? Why? What did this child ever do to deserve this? What did I do to deserve this? I could not stop crying, with a small soft voice I heard “Faith” I questioned myself why Faith? At first I thought Faith because I believed in miracles and that through God all things are possible. Then I thought, Faith would be a good name for my daughter as well. I named her Faith from then on. I did a lot of praying and trying to make sense of all of what I had been told.

It seemed like eternity for my husband to get the clinic where I was. When he did finally get there the doctor sat down with the two of us and he showed my husband on the monitor our daughter and the birth defect that would end her life. I asked questions on what to expect and how delivery would be and what did I need to do. They told me to make an appointment with my OB doctor as soon as possible and to get in and see him and that he would be able to answer any other questions we might have. I remember calling my work to let them know that I would not be able to come into work that evening and all I could say was I was told my baby was going to die and I hung-up the phone sobbing with having spoken those words.

My husband did not want to hear anything from the doctors or ask any questions, he did not want to believe what they were telling us, he said that God would heal our daughter and not to worry about it. He did not want me to talk with anyone about her or what her condition was, he wanted me to have strong faith that God would heal our daughter and that we were going to have a normal child and there was nothing more to talk about. My husband was in denial and did not want to deal with what was happening with our pregnancy. I remember how distant he felt toward me and that I felt that he would blame me if she was not healed. I called our pastor and all of our Christian friends and asked them to pray for our daughter and that God’s hand would be on us and our daughter at this time and that God would create a miracle and heal her.

I could feel the many prayers and there were many phone calls from dear friends and family. The phone never stopped ringing. No one had ever heard about a baby with such a condition as our daughter’s diagnosis. I called my parents and sisters and brothers, they were very concerned with me and wanted to be a support for me. They knew that my husband could be controlling and not always thinking about what was best for me or the boys. They were worried and concerned about me and the boys especially when my husband was not willing to accept what the doctors had told us about our baby.

The next day I had my medical appointment with my OB doctor that sent me in for my ultrasound. He comes into the room and looks at me and says, “I don’t know why you are here, there is nothing I can do, your baby is going to die.” Now if that wasn’t the coldest reception that I had from anyone and so cut throat. I was so taken back from his reception to me being there for an office visit. I was so dumbfounded that I couldn’t think of anything to say or ask. I left there in tears and in more disbelief and wondered what to do next. I called the nurse friend from our church her name was Jane, she worked in the nursery at the hospital that I would be delivering at and she knew the doctor that I had seen. She had always talked so positive about him and his bedside manors that when I told her what I had just experienced she didn’t know what to say. But she did say that he never had children of his own and felt that it maybe why he was so cold toward us. She later told me that she did talk with him and told him how disappointed she was with him in how he handled my visit. He had never delivered a baby with this condition before and that is more than likely why he was the way he was but no excuse in my book.

I called my OB doctor that I had when Aaron was delivered, her name was Dr. Linda Turner and she was out of the St Paul Group Health clinic. I called and spoke with her and asked her if she had ever delivered an anencephaly baby before or not. She said that she had delivered one while in residency and that she would be glad to take me back as her patient and that she would be on-call for me 24/7 until I had our daughter. She was so comforting to hear from and I felt at least I would have a positive person on board with the delivery of my daughter. I was told that I could decide when I wanted to be induced or to just let nature take its turn. I chose to let God decide when she was to be born.

I remember the day after my ultrasound, my mother and father in-law come by and visited, I don’t remember why, they so rarely ever came over to our house. They never once asked how I was feeling or when the baby was due or what was going on in our life. The relationship my husband had with his parents was always strained and difficult. We did not want to tell them unless they asked or showed some genuine concern about us or me and my pregnancy. They would not be told until the day that Faith was born and died.

There were no internet sites to go to or printed material for me to read or understand the birth defect that Faith had, there were no support groups or medical staff that I could talk with who had experienced this before that I knew of other than what Dr. Turner had shared with me. I had a church family that was praying for us and would call me every day to see how I was doing. I had family that I spoke with on a daily basis, and I had friends who didn’t know what to say or do but wanted so much to see a miracle come out of this. I was still going to work and putting in the hours that I could because this was the only income we had since my husband had lost his job in March. People at work didn’t know what to say either, I remember one gal said “If I were you I would go and have it aborted.” I thought how cruel for her to say that to me. I had just gotten used to the idea of having 3 children and now I’m having to adjust to the idea that I might not have a child to bring home if God didn’t heal her. This was too much to bear on my own. My faith in God is what has kept me sane with this whole pregnancy and birth and death of my daughter Faith. I knew that God was there holding my hand through it all and giving me the comfort and strength that I needed. There was no one that I could truly lean on, my husband did not want to talk about it or acknowledge what that doctors were telling us. He wanted so much to believe that he could pray and that God would heal our daughter and that this would solve the problem with Faith’s diagnosis.

The days blurred together, I was becoming more and more uncomfortable with my uterus measuring 10 cm larger than I should be. I looked like I was having twins. People I would see in public would ask me if I was having twins, and just to please them I would say yes or I would say no just a big baby, for I did not want to have to explain my condition to anyone more that I came in contact with. It was becoming harder for me to tell people over and over again. Yet I could not hide, I would drop Nathan off at pre-school and pick him up, his teachers saw me along with other mothers, the church group saw me, my co-workers and patients saw me at the VA and yet I so much wanted to be invisible and to be normal again. I remember the last day of preschool that I picked Nathan up he was given the little Teddy bear to take home with him for the week and to journal and write about his time with Teddy and what they did. This was one more thing that I had to take the time to do and yet I knew that it was not going to be a fun week for Nathan and I wasn’t sure what I could possible dream up to write about for Nathan to share with the other pre-school children.

On April 28th I awoke early and had a difficult time trying to sleep that night, I used the bathroom like I always did first thing you do when you get up. I remember sitting there and hearing my water passing and it just would not stop, I sat there and waited and waited. I called my husband to come into the bathroom and after a short conversation I convinced him to call the hospital because I knew that my water had broke and it was time to go to the hospital. My husband packed up the boys and put them in the van and came back to take me to the van, my water still running. I remember taking bath towels with and sitting on them while driving to Angie and Jims who were going to watch the boys while we went to the hospital. My sister would later come down and take them up to my parents while I was in the hospital.

We arrived at the hospital it was around 8:00AM, it was a rainy day, lots of rain, it was a gray, gloomy and cool. I felt sad inside yet tried to remain calm and together on the outside. I knew in my heart that my life would for ever be changed one way or the other with either Faith being healed or by her going home to be with Jesus. But either way I knew that it was going to be hard to go into labor and delivery knowing this would end my short lived relationship I had with her. Our Pastor Paul and his wife Val said that they would sit with us at the hospital and to give them a call when that time came. The call was placed and they were there with us the whole time. It was a very long day. By the time my water stopped flowing I felt my stomach and wondered where Faith was, my stomach was so full of water it was tight as a drum before my water broke. You could not make an indentation or feel where anything began or ended, it was as if you were touching a table or hard surface. So when my water had finally stopped leaking it looked as if I weren’t pregnant except that I had a little belly left. I later found out that the reason why I was so full of amniotic fluid was that Faith was not able to swallow the fluid and pass it though me like a normal pregnancy.

I did not feel like I was in labor, contractions were weak and far and few in between, they had me walking the hallways trying to get my body to go into labor, when I wasn’t walking I was on the baby monitor listening to Faith’s heart beat. As the day progressed I felt small contractions but nothing to indicate that it would be ending any time soon. The doctor came in from time to time to check on me and she said that I could be hooked up to an IV and they could give me drugs to help the process along, I declined because I knew what it felt like when I had Nathan and I was induced for his labor and delivery and I did not want that again.

I remember looking outside and watching it rain and seeing the lightening in the sky. On TV there was nothing on but the Chernobyl nuclear disaster news, what a depressing day. Pastor Paul and Val were a great comfort to have with me on this day; they visited and prayed with us throughout the day. My husband was trying to be positive and encouraging me and yet he kept insisting that we be treated as if we are having a normal baby. The nursing staff was not to do anything different with me per my husband’s request. I felt that they were feeling awkward about everything because they knew more than we did.

As the day drug on I was becoming more tired and worn out, yet I could not rest. It had been 14 hours since I checked into the hospital and I was still not in hard labor. The night shift nurses came on and the nurse that was with me when I had Aaron was on. Her name was Barbie and she was such a nice lady and so comforting and loving. She would come in and rub my back and fluff up my pillow and wasn’t afraid to be there with me. She remembered me from when I had my son Aaron the year before and I was so glad that she came in to work when she did. My contractions were getting closer together yet I felt like it really wasn’t hard labor more like mild minstrel cramps. My doctor stopped by to check in on me at midnight and she told me that it shouldn’t be much longer and that she would be hanging around. The nursing staff was coming in more often and the pastor and his wife left for a little while and it was just my husband and I. I was scarred not knowing what to expect and yet wanting so much for everything to turn out good and happy with a new little baby to hold. Val had bought me a baby bonnet for Faith for when she was born and the baby blanket was there waiting for her to be born.

It was around 12AM when I felt like it was time to push, I called for the nurse and everyone came and helped coach me through the delivery. I really did not want to push, I was scared and Nurse Barbie came and sat on the bed with me and helped me through those pushes. It wasn’t long after and Faith arrived. It was quiet in the room, no sounds, and no cries from Faith. I asked if she was alive, Dr. Turner said that she was alive. She put her little white bonnet on her head. She was born with her birth defect. God choose not to heal her here on earth. I was trying so hard to be strong I was crying and trying to hold back my tears. I could see my husband in a meltdown of disbelief that our daughter was not healed. The nurses wrapped Faith in the blanket and handed her to me to hold. I could see this beautiful little girl fully formed, looking like my other 2 children except that she was missing the top of her head. She had all of her toes and fingers she had Aaron’s lips and Nathan’s hands and feet.

She was the normal size of a full term baby. She weighted 4 lbs 11 oz and 16.25 inches long. Her weight must have been lower due to the lack of a full skull and brain. She had eyes and ears and a beautiful face. I never did look under her bonnet because I did not want to remember the bad part of her features. She was born at 12:48 and lived only 10 minutes.

I did not know what to do with my daughter who was dying in my arms, I touched her and stroked her face. She was limp and motionless the room was silent and I wanted so much to have her whole. I later would wish that I had played with her toes and hands and touched her more. I don’t know why I didn’t and it would sadden me for years to come that I hadn’t done that.

I looked up at my husband I could see how crushed and hurt he was, I asked him if he would like to hold her and he did, so I handed her off to him to hold while I was getting cleaned up. My husband could only look at her and pray silently while holding her (at least I think that is what he was doing). The doctor went over to check her heart beat and she had a very fait beat and while she was in her Daddy’s arms she slipped into the hands of Jesus.

When I looked at my husband I could see the windows of his soul shut down, he became despondent and unresponsive. I was very concerned for him. He would not talk to me. He handed Faith to the nurse once she was no longer living. Nurse Barbie took her and cleaned her up and took pictures for us, made foot prints on her birth certificate.

Pastor and Val had come back and were there to see our daughter and to pray with us. I felt that they were also disappointed in the death of Faith but understanding the God is in control and we are not. Shortly after this Pastor and Val went home and not much time after this my husband went home to our house alone.

Dr. Turner came over to my bed side and gave me a hug, she said that she had lost her first child a few years earlier and she cried with me. It was a relief and sad at the same time. I was exhausted and yet could not sleep. I felt so empty and alone.

I had asked to be put in a room away from the nursery because I did not want to listen to babies crying throughout the night. They moved me to the end of the hall on the surgical ward and as the night went on all I could hear were babies crying. I asked the nurses to please close my door. I could not look at a baby or hear one. I was hurting so much inside. A few hours had passed and one of the nurses stopped in to see how I was doing. I could not stop crying and said that I needed to hold a baby, hoping that the emptiness would pass, my arms hurt I was a wreck. The nurse said that if I wanted to go to the nursery she would let me hold a baby if I would like. I thought about it and then decided I wouldn’t be able to do that. I was given a sleeping pill to help me sleep, I must have slept a few hours or so when I woke up at breakfast time I thought I would call my husband to see how he was. When I called the house there was no answer. I kept calling all morning long, no answer. I called Pastor Paul to see if he would go over to the house and check on him. I was getting very concerned knowing how he was when he had left hours earlier.

The nursing staff kept asking me what I wanted to do with Faith’s body, what funeral home should they call, what were our plans. My husband did not want to talk to me about this while I was pregnant. I had talked to my mother and sister earlier and they had informed me that if I needed a cemetery plot that I could take the one next to my baby brother Mark’s grave. I decided that I would have her buried next to Mark. I told the Nursing staff that I would wait till my husband came in to let them know what my final plans were to be.

It wasn’t until 2PM that my husband finally came to the hospital. He never spoke to me by phone but came to my room. The first thing that he asked me was where was Faith? I told him that she was in the morgue and that the hospital wanted to know where we wanted to send her. He said that he would take care of that since he was going to raise her from the dead and heal her himself. He told me not to take any drugs to stop my milk from coming in because I was going to be nursing our daughter. I was stunned with what he was saying. He was not in reality. A few minutes later the pastor walks in and I told him what my husband had just told me and I was crying and unable to make any sense of what was going on. Pastor Paul took my husband out of the room and they were gone for quite some time. I was not sure what all was said between them but I’m sure that Pastor Paul had some words with him and pulled him into reality.

When my husband came back in to the room he said that it would be fine for me to make what ever funeral arrangements that I saw fit for her. He was subdued and quiet and unresponsive. I felt even more alone. I had not only lost my daughter but now I had lost my husbands love and support. I was not sure if he was blaming me for what happened to Faith or what was happening.

I asked him why he did not answer the phone or call me. He said he didn’t want to talk to anyone at this time. He said that he had called his parents and told them what had happened and that they said that they would be right down (from Duluth). My family had all been called by the Pastor and his wife Val along with our church family. My husband had told me that he was also dealing with water in the basement of our house, with all of the rain we had it was coming through the cracks in the floor in the basement and that we had 2 inches of water all over the basement. He had been pulling up carpet and hauling furniture and boxes out to the garage for most of the night. He did not get any sleep and I could tell that the stress from everything was getting to him.

I remember Angie bringing the boys in to see me briefly before my sister Ruth took them up to be with Grandma and Grandpa Nelson. It was so good to see and hold my boys; I could tell that they were sad with the news about Faith and seeing their mom in the hospital. It was hard on them as well. It was comforting to hold them and have them with me for that short visit. I would not see them again until we went up to Sandstone for the funeral. I had other friends and family that had come to visit me throughout the day. I napped when I could. It wasn’t until 9:30PM when my in-laws finally arrived from Duluth. It didn’t surprise me how they were. The first thing that my mother-in-law asked me was “where is Faith” and could she see her? I told her that she was at the funeral home and that we would not be having an open casket funeral. I did not want anyone to see her but my husband and me. I asked her to respect our wishes. I felt that she did not care about me as a person or about my pregnancy when she was down at our home 3 weeks earlier. She was not a nice person and it was hard to deal with her coldness. They did go home with my husband and stayed at our house while I was in the hospital. She did do laundry and dishes for me the one and only time that she had ever done anything for me.

I stayed in the hospital 2 days and when it came time to be discharged and taken home I remember it being such a hard time. My arms ached, I felt so empty handed and felt like I was cheated for the past 9 months of my life in going home empty handed. I don’t recall everything that was going on when I came home from the hospital other than the boys were not home it was just the two of us. It felt so sad and empty at home as well. The funeral would be on Saturday May 3rd and it was to be a graveside service at the Friesland Cemetery. It was open to friends and family and church family to attend. My parents helped with making the arrangements at the funeral home which was in Hinckley close to where they lived.

I remember the long drive up to Sandstone and the stop at the funeral home in Hinckley. When we arrived at my parent’s home we were greeted by family. I will never forget how my Dad just hugged and held me and told me that he loved me. This was not the Dad that I knew growing up. I knew that he loved me but he would never give me a hug. That is forever in my memories of my father. My Dad knew the pain that I was feeling since he had lost his first born son at the age of 10 days old. I know that it was a very sad time in his life as well when he went through his loss with Mom.

My Grandma Ball was living with my parents and she also lost a small child, my uncle Richard at the age of 2, she also could relate to my pain. She kept saying over and over that she should have died instead of my daughter “Faith”; she said that she was 85 and felt that she had lived long enough and would rather have died than my daughter to be taken. She was saddened by our loss as well.

Everyone gathered together before we went to the cemetery. Pastor Paul was to give the service and there were several people from our church that had driven up to be with us for the service and there were several friends of my parents from their church who came to attend our little service and to show their love and support. When my mother-in-law arrived she wanted to know if the casket had been sealed because she wanted to see Faith. I told her that the casket was sealed and that no one was going to see her. I said that I had pictures of her that she could look at but to drop it. Later I found out from my husband that she had been begging my husband to see her as well and he told her very firmly “NO she would not be seeing Faith.” This upset me about how insensitive she was about our wishes.

After the grave side service my husband and the boys and I had our quite time at the grave site and Nathan who was 5 years old was looking really sad but not sure what to do with his feelings. I talked with him and told him that his little sister was with Jesus and that it was OK to feel sad and to cry about that. He hugged me and cried we talked about how she wasn’t able to live here on earth with us and that some day we will see her again in heaven. Aaron was not quite 2 years old, he would be turning 2 on May 27.

We had lunch at my parents with those who wanted to join us after the service. It was a nice time to visit and be comforted by family and friends. We stayed the weekend at my parents. I remember going to church the next day at Mom’s church and sitting behind a family with a little girl. I was not able to sit through the service without crying every time I looked at the little girl. It would be years before I would be able to hold another child again. I had fears of touching babies and had a really hard time even looking at a baby. It was all part of my grief and loss that I was trying to avoid.

I had the journal to fill out for Nathan to take back to pre-school that weekend and I was trying to put this week on paper that would make sense to a pre-school child. I wrote something to this affect, I wish that I would have kept a copy of it to share with you now.

Nathan had a special week with his Family, he had a little baby sister named Faith Elizabeth who has gone home to be with Jesus. You will need to think of her as a Caterpillar who has gone into a cocoon stage of life; she is in the process of being changed into a beautiful butterfly. She has been given a new body and is living in heaven with Jesus and other family members that have gone there before her are taking care of her for us.

His pre-school teachers all said that I had written it so well, and that they were not aware of what our family was going through. I guess I forgot to fill them in because I didn’t want to have to tell anyone more what I was going through for fear of crying and making them feel uncomfortable. They told me that it was good to share that with the children and to be able to talk to them about life and death as well.

For a year I would long to go to the cemetery to stand over Faith’s grave and feel close to her to acknowledge that yes, I really did have a daughter and that her life touched mine in ways that others will never truly understand. I would remember her birthday every year and tell the boys how old their sister would have been. For her first birthday as a family we went to Como Zoo and had a picnic and remembered her in our own special way. I still think about her from time to time for now it has been over 22 years. I often wonder what it would have been like to have a daughter, would we have had a special friendship that only mothers and daughters can have. For my life as a mother with a daughter is only a memory of what it could have been like. Not that I don’t cherish my sons as a mother.

I was blessed with another child to take the pain away from my aching heart and arms. Joel Michael was born 3 years later and I was so happy to have a happy and healthy little bundle of joy to hug and to hold. My fears of holding an infant have faded with having had another child.

My life has had its ups and downs, trials and tribulations, happy times and sad times and through it all God has been my comfort and strength, and his shield has sustained me and kept me in his loving arms. I have not lead the perfect Christian life that I would like to have but I know that with the promises in his word that I will see her again when we are reunited with loved ones who have gone before us.

It was with my father’s death in 2001 that I was finally able to deal with my grief and loss with Faith and my Dad, I did not allow myself to go through the grieving process as I should have because my husband did not want to talk about it or to acknowledge our loss of our daughter and to talk about her birth defect.

I later found out from other family members on my husband’s side of the family that there were 3 other babies born with this same birth defect. No one spoke of them and I found it amazing how many there were. His grandmother on his father’s side had a little girl, his aunt his (father’s sister) had a baby girl; a first cousin (uncles daughter) had a baby boy a few years after ours. So to the next generations to come I would like to let you know about “Faith Elizabeth Roland” and her very short lived life. Every life is precious and should be honored and remembered.

It wasn’t until years later when I was in my old bedroom in the house that I grew up in that I noticed a poster on the wall behind the door that I had looked at for many years but did not put this together until I saw it after Faith’s death.

The poster read: “Faith, something hoped for but never seen.” That was the true meaning of “Faith” my daughter. Elizabeth means “Given to God.” My “Faith” was something hoped for but never seen and given to God. The only sense that I can make of her short lived life is that God used my body to bring forth a child that he wanted and some day we will be reunited with her in heaven.

In loving memory of Faith Elizabeth,
(Mom)
Rachel Anderson
12/11/2008

 

Rachel is living in Chisago City, MN, and can be contacted trough the webmaster

 

Last updated January 14, 2008