Saturday, January 20, 2007

Birthday Cards and Memories

Every year in August, I look for birthday cards for my granddaughter Sarah Grace and my mother, who happen to share a common birth date. Dad’s birthday follows a few days behind.

This past year, as I looked through the cards for fathers, one caught my eye because of the pair of hands on the front of the card. One was the hand of a child the other the hand of an adult. The words on the card described the distant memories of an adult child remembering holding the hand of a father. I knew that I had to buy this card since so many of my memories about dad involves holding hands. How glad I am that I found that card in particular... it is the last birthday card I will give him. He died September 1, 2006, just a few days after his 86th birthday.

My first memory of Forrest Kauffman as my dad is from the Delaware County Fair the year he and mom were married. I took him by the hand and introduced him to my first grade teacher as my new father, my own father having died from cancer a few years before. I remember countless Friday nights, going to town with him and holding his hand as we crossed the streets of Muncie, generally ending up at the Martha Washington Ice Cream Shop and having a hot fudge sundae.

How many times over the years did I watch as one grandchild or another took dad by the hand to lead him wherever they wanted to go. Dad struggled, like so many men of his generation, with telling people he loved them but he always seemed to respond to the reach of his grandchildren and great-grandchildren.

I watched in May of this past year as he took the hand of my mother and held it close to his side as he sat next to her in the nursing home, not wanting to let go, because he knew we would be leaving him behind. That picture is not only in my photo collection but permanently etched into my memory as well. By taking her hand, by responding to each of us who reached out our hands to him, Dad told us he loved us in his own way.

My very last memory of Dad is holding his hand as he passed on to a far better place. I have no doubt that he will be meeting each of us someday and that he will take us by the hand as we cross over to join him.

We will all be reaching back!

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Sunday, January 14, 2007

A Birthday Party And A Meltdown

Yesterday afternoon, my daughter Jamie had a party for her daughter's birthday. My youngest granddaughter, Kayla, turned 5 on the 3rd of January and this was the first opportunity, between Christmas break at school and all the holiday activity, to plan a party and get out invitations to all the children. Kayla chose to have a party at the local bowling alley and it was a hoot. So if the party was so great and the kids had so much fun then what caused a meltdown and who melted?

The explanation will follow - the meltdown happened to me!

I have to start by explaining for those who don't know my family, that Kayla's older sister, Anna, was born with multiple devastating disabilities. I'll leave the very involved explanations of the possible / probable cause of Anna's condition for a later post. Being as she is now 12 years old, it is something I've discussed so many times that I don't often feel a need to do so anymore. Anna is who she is and we love her tremendously. I do want to say here that Anna and Kayla are two of five beautiful granddaughters that I have, all of whom are of course extraordinary in their own right! I will also leave discussion of daughter Dee's girls, Erin, Emily and Sarah Grace for a later time. Suffice to say, you are in for a treat there as well!

I probably also need to explain that I have been at Jamie's home in Florida, since the 22nd of December. My original plans were to be here for Christmas and to stay to help with a surgery Anna was to have in what we thought would be early January. It was a fine and wonderful plan but the surgery didn't get scheduled until the 25th which means I'm staying just a tad bit longer than expected. Add to that the fact that I brought with me a cat, Mr. Woody K. Nibs (another story for a future post), and my dog Ginger. Thanks to my son, John, Ginger is safely back home in Louisiana, staying with him until I return. It makes life here with Jamie and her two girls, their dog Winston and a gaggle host uhhmm, well just a lot of great nurses who help make caring for Anna a little easier... thanks again John!

Meantime, back to the bowling party and the meltdown.

If you've never watched a group of young children, most of whom are barely 5 years old, bowl, it is hilarious. They are so serious and in the case of my granddaughter Kayla, quite expressive in their reaction, as seen in the photo coming off the alley pumping her fist in the air.

I watched, I laughed, I helped. I helped with the food and the cake followed by the opening of presents which was accompanied by lots of squeals and giggles, corralling of kids and assuring them that their gift would be opened next!

When all the festivity was over and done, Kayla passed out bowling bucks and the party kids headed for the arcade. Several adults helped clean the mess and I started breathing a sigh of relief when I looked over and saw Anna sitting in her wheelchair, looking very uncomfortable. Anna's spine is deformed and her chair is supposed to be adjusted for comfort but it seems right now to be one of the most uncomfortable places she can sit. I decided to take her out and just sit with her on my lap for a while. I wanted to be close to her and wanted her to be more a part of what was going on.

Almost from the moment I had her out of her chair and on my lap in an extremely unyielding, uncomfortable bowling alley chair, the water began forming behind my eyes. I seldom cry for Anna these days, not because her situation is less sad or any easier to deal with, but simply that I've come to terms with it. I came to terms with it very early on, as did her entire family. She has been fully accepted and completely loved from day one of learning about her condition. I think I might have been fine at this point, if my daughter hadn't come up and realized that I had tears in my eyes and openly asked me what was wrong. I think I could have kept it to a minimum but that didn't happen... the dam burst open and the contents of the salty seas of Mimi (that's what my granddaughters call me) were unleashed. I don't think I was truly sobbing but everyone was aware that I was crying and I wished I could stop and yet I couldn't. I am not ashamed of the tears, but would hope that everyone who saw me crying would understand that I don't regard Anna as needing to be cried over or pitied. I can't tell you an exact reason why I 'lost' it, other than maybe just wanting her to be able to experience what the other children were doing or just one time be able to get up out of that damn chair, to walk, to run, to sit up on her own, to speak, to bowl with the other kids, to hear her tell her mother that she loves her, and very selfishly I will add here that I wish she could tell me that she loves me too.

You know, now that I think about it, I think she was telling me she loved me and maybe that is why I was crying... maybe it was the way she snuggled against my chest, maybe it was the warmth of her body next to mine, maybe it was the smiles and her soft sighs that were all saying how much she loves me and maybe, just maybe, that's why I melted.

I love you too Anna!

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Thursday, January 11, 2007

Please God, Don't Let Kristie's Head Explode

It is just unbelievable what some people have to face! This family has a young daughter, Kendrie, who is now in remission after being treated for over two years for leukemia, a father who has faced multiple setbacks in his continuing cancer treatment and mother Kristie who is making light of her own diagnosed skin cancer. Click the link on her name to read today's entry to her blog describing their most recent concern regarding her husband Blaine.

Kristie's humor and expressive style of writing draws you right into her family's hectic life and after reading today's post you can't help but utter the very base prayer... God, please do not let her head explode!


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Wednesday, January 10, 2007

The Old Ferguson Road

You may be wondering why I chose such an old and somewhat (at least for some of you) obscure song by Carole King to use on my blog. Well, the answer is simple. I like it! I have found over the years that it quite often reflects my mood. Many of Carole King's songs do. I think that is part of her particular talent... capturing one of our many moods and playing it out for us in her words and music.

It is so easy to see myself heading up a back woods lane in search of a quiet, peaceful spot where I can reflect on my life, contemplate the future and dream of what was and what may be. I doubt most people who know me would ever think that I am a dreamer, but I am. Anyway, this song really puts me in a reflective / contemplative mood or enhances it if I'm already there. Oh, just so you know, the words to this song have no particular significance in my life (at least not today) but are simply a backdrop to a mood.

So just sit back, listen to the music, look over the lyrics and maybe you'll find yourself heading up the old Ferguson Road as well.

Ferguson Road
Carole King

I'm gonna head on up to the old Ferguson Road
Stand beneath the trees and see how tall I am
Yes, I'm gonna wade in a cold, rocky stream
So I will be sure not to give a damn

No one ever loses anybody
But sometimes it's so hard to get along
I don't want to hang on to anybody
So before you say you're leaving, I'll be gone

I'm gonna head on up to old Ferguson Road
Find myself a spot where the sun shines through
I'll throw some old mattress in the back of my bus
And get a good head start on forgetting you

You know I've never known anybody
Who could ever make me feel this way
But no one gets to own anybody
You see, I have good reason when I say

I'm gonna head on up to the old Ferguson Road
Stand beneath the trees and see how tall I am
Yes, I'm gonna wade in a cold, rocky stream
So I will be sure not to give a damn

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My First Entry

Actually, this is not officially my first entry. I set up this blog almost two years ago, made a single entry and never did anything else with it. I'm not sure why I never followed through, but since it was so long ago, I deleted that entry and decided to start fresh.

I'm pretty certain that nobody really cares what I think so I guess I am writing this more for me than with any delusional thought that the lives of others will be transformed by my writings. If you stumble upon this blog and enjoy one of the entries, that's great. I hope you will let me know... just press the comment button below and leave your thoughts.

If you disagree with what I have to say please feel free to comment on those thoughts too... just know that I bruise easily. If you absolutely hate my words, I hope you would simply choose to leave the blog and let my words go peacefully into that good night as I have no power and my words are not intended to harm. I am not armed; I am not dangerous; however, I am sometimes off the wall, care passionately and am generally far too willing to foist my thoughts on
share my humble opinion with others.

See ya soon!


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