Friday, October 29, 2010


Anticipating my thoughts at the end of December, I believe I will look back on 2010 and consider the first couple of weeks of June one of the best times, if not the best time, of my life. So far.

I received my colon cancer diagnosis on Tuesday, June 1. Ricky, out of school for the summer, was with me. The next day we were able to meet with the surgeon and schedule my surgery for Friday afternoon, June 4.

The three days in between were busy, telling my children and parents, getting work and home squared away. There was no panic - just mild disgust that my body had betrayed me this way. It really is creepy to know that something wild with its own agenda is growing inside you. (And you won't be giving birth to it!)

But mostly I was smiling. Not sleeping well, I spent those three nights on the couch, going through the possibilities. I couldn't come up with a bad outcome, though. Even if it turned out the prognosis was grim, I have had a great life. And absent dying on the table, a quite remote possibility, there would be time to wrap things up in a good way.

So for those first couple of weeks of June, the mundane aspects of life slipped away and we were focused on the important, our relationships. Recently, our pastor, as part of his series on "the family," told a story. A husband, constantly annoyed by his spouse's clutter, considered what his life would be like with a neat house, but no wife. The clutter peeve vanished as he realized how much he cherished her.

The demands of daily life are so pervasive we usually forget to cherish each other. You get a reminder every now and then - the birth of a first baby or a child's wedding, for examples - that loving each other is what it's all about, and little else matters.

I am pleased to report that our wake-up call is still working. We have replaced thoughtlessness and indifference with an active thoughtfulness. I can misplace keys every single day and it's okay. He just grins and goes on (after finding the keys, of course.) He thanks me when I follow up timely on medical procedures, and I choose to do so because I know it relieves his anxiety. We are more considerate of each other's schedules. We are seeking ways to spend more time together.

The scars and pain of recovery are a small price to pay for this renewed sense of purpose and optimism. It has been a very good year.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

We're all fans

Photo credit: Lindsay Goodreau

Friday, October 22, 2010

Resolving conflicts

It's Friday night in October, the last home football game of the year. Senior parents get introduced before the game. The team will clinch a playoff berth with a victory. The band's half time performance is its warmup for the competition on Saturday which should send the band to the Texas state finals in ten days.

It's Friday night in October and fall storms are popping up around the area. A rain shower has already wet the stadium.

It's Friday night in October and the Texas Rangers are still playing baseball. Game six of the American Championship League Series is starting just a few miles south, our team one victory away from its first ever thrashing of the dreaded Yankees.

Families head to the football stadium toting towels and umbrellas. The stands fill up nearly as usual, even with the iffy weather. But look around and cell phones are everywhere, tuned in to ESPN game tracker. Ricky texts Wiley to let him know the Rangers are up 1-0, then tied 1-1.

The Rangers have a breakout inning as halftime starts. The stands are murmuring during the band's  show, passing the baseball news up and down the aisles, but you can't be annoyed. It is all too wonderful. The stadium announcer lets everyone in the crowd know the home team, the team that has never won anything, is up 6-1.

By the end of the third quarter, the high school game is well in hand. The halftime only spectators are long gone. We hustle out, we've paid our dues of support to the kids, and catch the ending of the big game back in our living room.

What a great Friday night!

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Just wait 'till your father gets home......

Four days to go to the last deadline of the year.

Taking a short break last night with the dogs in the back yard, I stepped in fresh poo.

Left my office for a few moments this morning and came back to a cat's hairball on my desk.

Just now took the dogs for a brief walk to stretch my legs.

Returning to the front yard and taking a few extra moments of autumn sunshine, Krista got mad for some very good dog reason and started a fight, a war, really. Fortunately they each weigh less than twenty pounds, were on leashes and I was wearing jeans instead of shorts.

Now Krista is in her crate. Winston is in his crate. I'm back at the computer with an ice pack on my knee.

No more work breaks for me.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Fashion Statement

Check out the shoes. And now that it's fall, and they keep the school building so cold, he even has toe socks that go with.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

A True Story

In the spring of 1995 my grandma died. A few days after the funeral my dad and mom, three of my dad's four sisters and their spouses gathered at their mother's senior citizen apartment to sort through her lifetime accumulation.

My grandma lived into her eighties and had a number of hobbies and interests. There were many items to reminisce over.

In among the bathroom towels, they found an unidentifiable object. It was perfectly round and smooth, looked like it was made of metal and had a large safety pin sticking in it. The consensus was that it was some sort of hot potato game kept around to entertain grandchildren (and great-grandchildren.)

One of the sisters tossed the game to my dad. "Here. You're the smart one. You figure it out."

My dad looked at it, turned it over in his hands, and pulled the safety pin out.

Orange smoke started fizzing out of the ball. Dad knew he was in trouble and ran toward the front door. He made it three steps before the ball exploded, covering the living room and everyone in it with a film of yellow and orange.

The concussion was powerful. Dad's palm and thumb were bruised so badly that blood oozed out the back of his hand. His stomach was peppered with fragments. His smart aleck sister Gwonda, who had tossed it to him, was bleeding from the face and neck. Everyone in the room was gagging and blinded.

Fortunately, two of the brothers-in-law were outside loading stuff when the bomb went off. My dad, mom and Dad's sister Jean piled into one car with Jean's husband Ted driving and Vadie, Gwonda and Gwonda's husband Lee made it to Vadie and Bob's car.

Heading to the hospital, my Uncle Ted was affected just by being in the car with them. He had to drive with his head hanging out the window, straining to see the center line. The other siblings took turns opening their eyes at intersections to yell out "red" or "green, go, go!" On the way to the hospital they drove past my cousin at work, who had never seen his dad drive so fast.

Arriving at the hospital they poured into the emergency room. Not for long. Soon the emergency room personnel were wheezing and coughing and had to shoo everyone outside, my dad and aunt on guerneys. Stripped and rinsed off by nurses and doctors in outside portable showers, the brothers and sisters could finally see again. My dad and aunt took a few weeks to recover from their wounds, but there were no serious injuries.

Everyone ended up in hospital scrubs, their own clothes ruined. Hospital staff wanted to burn the clothes, but couldn't because of the wallets, cash and other personal items. Back at Ted and Jean's house a few hours later, they set the bags of clothes on the lawn. The lingering fumes seeping through the plastic were still so strong it quickly killed the surrounding grass.

Lee, Gwonda, Vadie, Jo, Ted(dy Mac), Jean
So what the heck happened at their mother's apartment?

The bomb squad from nearby Fort Sill ended up calling in experts from Oklahoma City to determine that my dad had pulled the pin on a Korean War era tear gas grenade. Found in my grandma's apartment in small town Oklahoma. Nestled in the bathroom towels.

It turns out several of the grandchildren, now grown, remembered playing with the grenade. But Grandpa had told them not to pull the pin out. He had bought it at an Army surplus store, intending to set it off underneath the house to kill the bugs and spiders. For some reason he changed his mind. Wow. 

There are several lessons here.

Boys will be boys. This seems to be a recurring theme among my posts. My grandpa was probably in his fifties when he bought the grenade. I'm sure he enjoyed telling his friends about it. And I expect he intended to use it eventually, because explosions are fun.

Husbands should give their wives all the facts. Something tells me Grandma did not know she had a live grenade in her home. Keep in mind that Grandpa died twenty years earlier, so the grenade had been around for decades. He had told her it was important and to be careful. She carefully moved it from home to home and room to room. So men, even when you know it conflicts with the first corollary above, admit when you have something around that is dangerous.

Do not think of your parents naked and in an outdoor shower.

And, finally (this is for you, Dad)...........

Find the instruction manual before you pull the pin.