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Wednesday, October 19, 2016

I Miss My Dad

Ten years ago, my dad (age 79) passed away from pancreatic cancer.  Sure didn't see that cancer coming!

In the 1960's, my dad had a diagnosis of cancer.  He had his fair share of hernias and ulcers.  I am sure that being in his 30's, he didn't think that cancer would be part of his medical records.  In fact, cancer wasn't a real known ailment back then.  When my mom told my brother and I that dad was in the hospital and that it was cancer, The Encyclopedia was the only source of information available.
 ( last centuries Google)

 The set of encyclopedias sat on top of my brothers dresser.  He was so lucky because he could lay in bed at night with a flash light under his covers and read any volume he wanted.  He was also the one who looked up cancer and only found one paragraph.

I was in grade school.  I thought my dad was going to die.

 My grandkids are in grade school and my children are in their 30's. I can't imagine it!

The surgeons cut him open from his sternum down to his pelvic region. Back then everything was exploratory.  He had many scars that I am sure a 2nd grader shouldn't and didn't see. He had radiation that burned his skin.  He stayed home from work.  Everyone was sad.

I remember that he had bandages on his cheek.  They had removed melanoma.  Back then, they just called it cancer.

As my brother and I got older and moved onto college then onto marriage, Dad would always report to us after his yearly checkups.  He always would say, "I'm having my yearly cancer check" and then a week later he would say."I'm good for another year!".  Those were the great years!

Then he got prostate cancer.

My dad was the most positive man in the world. He had a great sense of humor. He used his Scandinavian accent when joking about Lena and Ole, a Norwegian couple who always seemed to be in disharmony.  He couldn't tell a joke without forgetting the punch line.  We would laugh so hard!  No one cared about the punch line when he told the joke!

 He was a proud veteran. He left me the china that he bought in Japan after the war.  Ten years ago, prior to his passing, he spoke more about  his time in the service than he ever did when we were growing up.  We would pass a restaurant call Nagasaki, and he would tell me about that town in Japan.  I would just listen.

When he retired from his career with the Iowa Department of Transportation, he and my mom became what they call "Winter Texans".  Every Halloween they left Iowa and every Mother's Day they left Texas.  My mom still goes to Texas, same schedule.  She turned 86 this year.

He loved my mom.  I remember he would cop a feel right there in front of my brother and me.  Ya Mom, we saw it!  He loved her enough to go to a rehabilitation center for a month to learn about his alcoholism.  When he died 10 years ago, he had celebrated 25 years of sobriety and was a proud member of AA.

Then he got pancreatic cancer.
Then he got bladder cancer.
Then he got liver cancer.

In September of 2006 he was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer.With each specialist we saw, the other cancer diagnosis showed up.  We stopped taking him to specialists.  He had cancer.

He was in hospice in my home and on the last week of his life we moved him to a facility called the Charlier Hospice Center.  It was the most beautiful experience. We hung artwork and pictures on the walls. We had a tape player with his favorite hymns. We had comfortable chairs to sit in and talk with him while his eyes were closed. He was covered with a colorful knitted prayer shawl that had arrived earlier from a Texas friend. My brother came from Arizona.  My dad had us together and that was a good thing.  When he passed away, we were not present but we were present in his heart.

I miss my dad.  Cancer didn't define him.  He wouldn't let it.  He lived a great life and I bet he remembers the punch line to his jokes in Heaven.....or not!
Jerry and Cinda with Wilmar Nelson




Monday, October 17, 2016

How Important is it?

I have been doing a lot of thinking when it come to the saying "How important is it?"

The usual answer for me would be, " Pretty Darn Important!"  "Everything is Important!". But, is it?

I usually go straight to my reactionary freaking my freak mode!  You know, get all excited about something that is totally out of my control.

Last weekend, at the cabin, Tom was doing his regular thang just putzing around the garden.  He has lost quite a bit of weight this year and his ring is very loose.  While putzing, it was wobbling and he pushed it up to his knuckles and went about his putzing.  It was 5 minutes later that he realized his ring was gone.   This ring belonged to his father who passed away several years ago.  This ring means the world to him.

Tom and rings.  His first wedding ring was gold and engraved with "I love you".  It was lost in a laundry mat when he decided that doing laundry while I was in the hospital recovering from the birth of our first child would be a nice gesture.  Not only did he lose his ring, he lost one of mine! We posted REWARD signs and never got them back. There was some lucky college student living in Pammel Court in Ames, Iowa who probably hit the mother load when he or she found them.

His next wedding ring was purchased at a jewelry store that was going out of business. It was 80% off. This ring cost me $27.  By the time I purchased this ring, we were entering the "not so much lovey dovey" part of our marriage.  No engraving, just wear it already!

During the time that he wore this cheap ring, he was a large animal veterinarian in Minnesota.  His specialty was dairy cattle.  Since I am not a veterinarian and couldn't even play one on TV, I can't tell you the REAL medical terms of what he did for pregnant cows. Here is my version. He stuck his  bare arm up the butt of a female cow to check stuff. ( I really do know the medical terminology but like my version better) He lost his ring inside her butt.  At least he didn't call me to come find it, and we don't talk about this loss. It was never returned but I bet somewhere in that field is a shiney object waiting to be found.

His third wedding ring was purchased from a secondhand store. A $28 purchase. I was never going to spend anymore than that! No love notes. It was not wrapped as a present.  Just put it on and don't lose it, mister!   He wore that ring for over 20 years and never lost it. On our 30th anniversary, we go new rings. Our old rings were cashed in and I got myself a John Hardy silver chain and pendent!  I have lost and found that a few time too!

He has had 4 wedding rings.  When his dad gave him his ring, I told him to wear that instead of his new one that we got on our 30th anniversary. His dad's ring has a 3/4 K diamond.  And it matches my new wedding ring. 

How important is it? A ring?  Well it is the symbol of marriage.  But do we really need a ring?
How important is it? Losing something that is a symbol?
How important is it? Losing anything?

When he lost his dad's ring I felt sad but not freaked out like I usually feel.   I had a peace about me because I had been pondering all week the phrase " How important is it?"

I belong to a group that meets weekly and we share experiences.  "How important is it?" was the topic on the very week Tom lost that ring.  My friend had shared an experience of losing her mom's ring and then finding it. In her discovery, she said, "No one was hurt, no one died, it was just a ring." It was so ironic that I would be experiencing the same lose 2 days later.

We purchased a metal detector this weekend and put it to use as soon as it was assembled.  We retraced Tom's moves through the garden and found a lot of IRON.  When we got to the summer squash, the beeping changed and there underneath the leaves laid his ring.


How important is it?
If you don't get wild and crazy, blaming and accusing, ranting and raving, bitching and moaning about something that is totally out of your control, you can feel so much peace when things work out. And all things work out, just not always like you want them too!



Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Carnival Fish and Hope

Hope with her Carnival Fish "Rover"




The Fall Festival in our town is going on right now.  Ever since Hope started school, the Special Ed kids get to have the carnival area to themselves on Tuesday. The West Side Nut Club sponsors this awesome event and this year the paper reported that 500 kids attended. This year, Hope went with her class and I didn't have to go!

Hope loves to wander. She isn't lost, everyone else is.  If she wandered this year, they didn't tell me. I had a great day off!!

Hope loves the games because of the prizes and everything is free that day.  In the past, she has come home with huge plastic bags full of stuffies, blow up toys, necklaces, and various trinkets.  Just another reason she hoards!  She loves her stuff.  This year, by the time she got home to our house, all she had in her possession was a gold fish. A real gold fish.  Her teacher tried to convince her to take the stuffed animal fish, but Hope insisted on the REAL gold fish.  This fish was still alive in its plastic bag  at 5:30.  I laid the bag in the fish tank so the temp would be the same.  I have no clue who taught me that and when Tom saw it, he questioned my intent!  He released the fish in the tank and that little devil ate his weight in gold.  He was so hungry.

This fish was named Rover. Only because someone wrote Rover on the bag.

When Hope names things, she usually thinks for a while and then names it Cindy.  Every time she goes to Build A Bear she picks out a cute animal, dresses it in Disney Character clothes and heads to the birth certificate computer. You would think that if she dressed the bear like Elsa, she would name it Elsa.  This is not the case in Hope's  world. I cross my figures that the bear will have a cool name like Coco Moco but when I ask, "what is the name?"  She always says Cindy!

The first time Hope won a fish at the Fall Festival, Tom wasn't home to take care of it. I did.  And guess what?  It lived!  For some reason this fish got the name Charlotte.

Charlotte is the reason that we now have a 20 gallon Fish Tank.  It's funny how a free feeder fish from a carnival turns a home into an aquarium totting house equipped with gravel, castles and fake seaweed, lights and a motorized filter. In our case, the fish had a honey comb and a Green Bay Packer Helmet to hide in.

Oh, and the mourning that goes on when a fish dies!  What ever happened to flushing a dead fish down the toilet?  It just doesn't happen in our house.

Our Carnival fish always have friends that join them.  They come from the neighborhood pet store.  Charlotte ended up with 4 friends.  They were beautiful fantail fish, Casey, Bissy, Harper and Graham. Not original names since they belong to family members.  Charlotte was replaced several time do to early demise. Poor Charlotte.
Charlotte is the little one.  The Big Black one once lived in a drawer!


Alas, all of those fish have entered the great ocean in the sky.  And they all had autopsies.  Liver disease.  So sad.

The 20 Gallon tank now has two Carnival Fish that my Grandson won 2 years ago, Two creepy oversized head fish from the store, and now Rover.

I asked Hope this morning what her new fish's name was, fully expecting her to say Cindy and she said..."It is Charlotte!"
Good answer.  Move over Rover!
Charlotte the original Carnival Fish

Monday, October 3, 2016

Of Bird and Hope

When you live in the forest on the weekends you just sort of get accustomed to dead animals, dead bugs and dead snakes on the property.

The first dead animal we encountered was the year our cabin was built.  The birds weren't used to a building in the way of their flight path. We would find beautiful dead cardinals, nutshatch and finches on our porch upon arrival.

The first dead bird turned out to be Hope's first pet.  Have you ever read Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck?  That book is one of the creepiest books out there.  I should write a book Of Bird and Hope, it could be equally as disturbing.

That Saturday, we were inspecting the building process of the cabin.  We were thrilled that our porch was complete and the cabin had windows and a door.  We didn't pay much attention to the fact that Hope had claimed a dead bird.

Hope has always had a fear of animals.  She had no fear of this dead bird.  She picked it up, carried it to the car, dumped out an old Tupperware container, lined it with a pink washcloth, and put the bird inside.  She talked to it, giggled about it, caressed it, and kissed it.  I strongly suggested that it wasn't a good idea to kiss it but Hope's answer was, " MOM!!!!"  I tried  to convince her to leave it on the ground because....well....duh....Germs! I lost!

When it was time to leave, she had the bird resting comfortably next to her in it's makeshift coffin.  I was in disbelief that she was still hanging onto the concept of it being a pet! Did she name it?  I don't thinks so.  So, let's just call it DEAD BIRD.

Our weekend commute to the cabin takes 72 minutes, by the time we got home, I totally forgot about her fascination about DEAD BIRD.

It dawned on me halfway through the night when I woke up with a jolt....DEAD BIRD...where is the dead bird?

Just like the Night Before Christmas, I bolted down the stairs, unlatched the garage door, threw open the hatch of the car....to see an empty Tupperware coffin.

OH MY What's the matter?

This was not Hope's first rodeo with a small animal.  One time, when Tom was cleaning the fish tank, Hope somehow hauled the "large black fish" up to her room. When Tom realized the fish was gone and nowhere on the floor near the tank, he knew that Hope had to have taken it or the cat ate it.  He asked her and she denied it but with much diligence, he finally found it alive in one of her drawers!   Could this be the case this time?  Did she carry DEAD BIRD to her room? Why didn't she carry it in it's "casket"? I turned on her lights and dug through her drawers! No DEAD BIRD.

We have always had a "thing" about saving dead animals.  We had parakeets.  Remember the show XFiles with Mulder and Scully back in the 90's? That was one disturbing show! More than once, I would jump out of my skin and scream for the actors to MOVE!  One Friday night, I scared the parakeet with my excitement and it fell off its perch and died!  Being the Veterinary Pathologist that he was, Tom put it in a plastic bag, stuck it in the freezer so he could do an autopsy later.  That poor bird became the talk of the High School and was visited often by my daughters classmates until Tom finally figured out the death.  It died of some big scientific explanation. Bottom line, I was not the responsible party to it's passing!

Back to DEAD BIRD.  Where was DEAD BIRD?  I figured in the freezer. Nope!  We have 3 freezers and I checked them all.  I woke Tom up from a dead sleep to see if he had anything to do with DEAD BIRD. Nope!  He was too tired to talk about it and how dare me accuse him of freezing DEAD BIRD!  See above paragraph on why I would accuse him!

DEAD BIRD was not in the freezer, it was midnight, and I was freaking my freak.  I went back to the car. I looked under the seats, in the glove compartment, between the seats and under the car mats.   When I was in the back seat checking under the mats, I noticed that the "pocket" on the back of the front seat was bulging some.  I stuck my hand in the pocket and pulled out DEAD BIRD.

Hope, keeper of all thing, hoarder of most saved DEAD BIRD in the safest place of all.  And I got to touch it.  Of Bird and Hope, coming soon to a bookstore near you.