Thursday, December 16, 2010

Christmas Cards

I have a bit of anxiety about Christmas cards every year.  What to send? When? To Whom? How to find the time?  Another item on the list that never gets done.  Even getting one in the mail stirs me into different levels of humanness; "oh, man, how did they get theirs out so soon, or so beaufitully, or why send it if you aren't going to write something, or oh, no, not another 'my life is perfect and I have perfect children'  letter that I have to read and behave nicely about.  Truth is, sometimes I let them sit a day or two before I even open them, giving myself time to get my stuff together in order to read or be happy about the card.  What a shame. 

So, all this thinking about Christmas cards has taken me back to our little farm house in Nebraska.  The memories are vivid complete with colors and wallpaper.  Pineapples.  Brown and Yellow.  Thermostat on the wall by the door, and the sit-on-able floor heater where we all gathered October through March.  Us, a random baby calf rescued from the winter night, and a pan of water for moisture in the air.  The smell of Vicks most often permeated our space giving a sense of comfort and warmth to an already lovely little home. 

Mom and Dad sat together on the dining room table, opened the drop leaf and began the holiday tradition.  
Each card was talked about.  Each person cherished.  Each got a personal letter.  Little half sheet but nicely written with good penmanship and pride.  I remember the conversation between Dad and Mom, "you write this one" or  "I'll write to them this year."  Imagine.  I wonder if they had Christmas Card anxiety?  I wonder if they felt pressured to "get them out?"  I wonder if they ever just thought, "not this year, I'm too tired, too busy, too unconnected to the spirit of Christmas?"   Oh, yeah.  They rocked, but they were real.  That's what was so cool about my parents. 

So what now?  Where do I go from childhood memories to present Christmas card anxiety?  I've decided that this is my Christmas card.  It's modern, it's high tech, and, it's a bit impersonnal, but it has the heart of the little farm house with the floor heater keeping us all warm.  As I write, joyful thoughts of  people who have touched our lives come to mind.  The forever friend, the neighbor, the children and grandchildren, parents and brothers.....faces pop into my mind,  people who I've worked with for years, people who've worked for me, people that I want to say, "you have been important to me, you have made me who I am.  Merry Christmas and thanks." 

Life is wrapped up in a Christmas card.  This year mine says, "Without you we could not survive. With you life is interesting, challenging and fun.  God sent his only Son for us to know just that.  We survive each year by the Grace of God through the people He sends into our lives.  We humbly wish you a Merry Christmas and wish for you a sampling of the joy we have been granted this year. 

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Six Weeks.

Six weeks ago today was October 6th.  Do you remember what you were doing?  What you were planning, worrying about, hoping for, dreaming?   Six weeks ago I know what my mind was working on....Ubaldo was moving in and I was going through stuff.  Tossing stuff, finding new places for stuff and making "important" decisions about stuff.  I was "directing traffic" with our handyman and generally involved in me and my comfort.  Making room for more stuff, for Ubaldo's cooking needs, for Jed's wheelchair needs and being rather self absorbed. 

Six weeks ago most of us were doing that very thing.  Taking care of the business of living.  But, six weeks ago Ubaldo's best friend checked into the hospital and last Sunday she died. 

I've tried to think of what I can do for him, how we can help him through his shocking grief.  I've decided to  write this in memory of his friend, Susan, and in honor of him, our caregiver, and friend. 

Life is a valuable thing.  But life with a dear friend is worth living.  One who makes you laugh, who can love you in spite of who you really are, who can tell you when you're being stupid, hug you when you're scared, and who is there for you, whether you need onions chopped, tears dried, or battles fought. 

I have a rather casual saying referring to important people in my life.  "They just dropped out of heaven."  But in that casualness is the recognition that God sends these people to us.   I don't understand why they are taken away and I've reconciled myself to knowing there is no way to understand, "for now we see in a mirror dimly..."   There's just stuff we will never understand. 

But what I do know is that dear friends that have been  part of my life have molded me, made me better than I would have been without them, and filled me completely; made my life whole. 

That's what Susan did for Ubaldo and he for her.  They were accidental best friends, but 15 years later knew they were each other's brother and sister.  Friends for life.  Soul mates.

Six weeks from today will be December 30th.  The trapping of the holidays will be behind us, the stuff of life will be organized once again from one season to another and our friends will have carried us through.

I am so sorry for Ubaldo's loss.   Six weeks isn't long to prepare for the emptiness that would follow, the hole in his heart.  Whether it's 6 minutes, 6 hours, 6 days, weeks or years, it's not long enough.  We just want our best friends to always be there, because we need them to be complete. 

My Grandma lived to be 99 years old.  I asked her what was difficult about growing old.  She said, "there's nothing hard about it, except you outlive all your friends and that gets lonely."   You don't have to live to be 99 to learn that lesson.  When your friend die before you, it is lonely. 

 It's almost Thanksgiving.  Take a moment to be thankful for those special people who've made you whole.  Jed and I are overwhelmed and awed by the friends we have been blessed with.  Susan's death has made us aware.

We are thankful for Ubaldo.  He has enriched our lives, turned our hopelessness into laughter and joy, lifted our burdens and filled us with genuine kindness.  Susan was very lucky to have his friendship for so many years.  

Monday, October 11, 2010

If Houses Could Talk

We've lived in this house for 20 years.  I've never lived anywhere for twenty years.  This house has served us well.  Sometimes I wonder about it's life before us.  Once an old gentleman drove up to the house, stopped and starred.  Jed invited him in and lo and behold he lived here as a child.  He spoke of the "fruit room" and the attic.  His childhood memories. 

Lately the house has had to work hard.  It got painted and nearly a million things have been moved in or out.  But the house seems to be saying, "thank you for letting me live another life, I had almost died, but now I can breathe new air and see new sights."

We took another step toward living well in spite of every reason not to.  Our care giver, Ubaldo, moved in.  He has made the upstairs his home and "the house" is saying, "wow!" Wow the the amount of stuff that can come down and go up, wow, to the new look and new life that an old house can take, (it's like Easter on a dark, dark night), and wow to the energy and joy that is back.  Houses like that, I'm sure.

In the process of the move, the past 20 years have been spread before us, Nate and Angie, the grandchildren's featherbed, their little crafts and toys, the many people who have called this house "home" for a while.  It's been a ride.  Not sad.  Joyful.  History.  Thanksgiving.  Every little notch in the wall or found child's writing has been a ride.  I have a sign in the house that says, "It takes a long time to grow an old friend."  This house has become an old friend.  And, within it's walls, we have had remarkable experiences with dear and old friends; like the art party with my buddies, and the noodle making, and the laughter with the neighbors, and the tears and even anger with family growing and becoming.  Scotch parties and chocolate rivers.

Recently I said to Jed, "We got a shitty deal."  He told me to never even think that way.  He, with no arms and legs, he who needs help with every bodily function, said, "This is what we have.  We will make the best of it and we will not call it a shitty deal." What can I say?  He's right.  Our deal is our deal.  We can choose to make it and call it what we will.  Right now we are making it a quite remarkable transition from one life to another and I know that the house is happy. 

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Third Time's The Charm

Most people don't have the opportunity to get close and comfy with their local emergency system, let alone get on a first name basis, but Jed and I are unique in that way.  Since we've been in Colorado we've had the EMTs called three times; once for altitude sickness, once for anxiety, and kicker, for getting run into (while in the wheel chair no less) by a little old lady in a 2001 Lincoln.  Enough is enough.  But the emergency system here is amazing!  One little phone call and here comes the fire truck followed by an ambulance and two or three police.

The first time was a little scary.  Jed was at therapy (the second day in Colorado) and he just started to pass out.  They immediately called in the big guns and there in the little therapy room were 6-8 very good looking young men in tight uniforms. (oops, I'm getting off track.)  The second time was here at home.  Jed started believing he couldn't breathe and the longer we worked on it the worse it got, so we called our emergency friends.  They all entered our bedroom and left 3 young grandsons with gaping mouths and wide eyes.  After some assurance that all  was well, the boys got a tour of the fire truck.

But the little old lady in the Red Lincoln was just over the top.  We'd just come from acupuncture and were waiting at the intersection by a popular Starbucks for the traffic to clear.  I was walking, Jed in his wheelchair.  When, like a flash of  dragon blood, BAM!!!!!  I screamed, the police on their break at Starbucks ran to the moment, Jed a bit dazed, me flaming fire.  As it would be our little old lady was watching the same traffic and waiting for it to clear.  When she saw an opening, she gunned it and whoa, oops, forgot about the wheelchair in front of her.  So, we got to hang out with our friendly paramedics once again.  By this time they were apologizing for meeting like this and I was telling them that we were looking for friends anyway, so not to worry.  After 45 minutes at 8 emergency people later we determined that Jed was okay. 

But the real topper came a few days later.  Kai, our third grader, was telling the family that he liked his old school better than his new one.  After some grandmotherly questioning the truth came out.  "This school has way too many old ladies."  Gavin, the 5 year old, looked at him sympathetically and  said, "It's okay, Kai, Old Ladies are just a part of our world."

Yes, indeed, old ladies are a part of our world.  But watch out for ones driving red Lincolns. 

Sunday, September 12, 2010

God Knows.

We went to church today.  It's basically in our back yard here in Colorado.  Jed drives his wheelchair there.  Today was tough.  First we get there late.  There's always something.  This time, in addition to our normal "almost late,"  we had to move a car out of the driveway as Jed got stuck in the rock landscaping attempting to circumvent the obstruction.  There we were, stuck, spinning wheels in the rocks.  So I go inside, get the keys, move the car, put him on manual, pull with all my strength, and we finally get rolling off to church. 

Knowing we were late, we sat in the back, and were just in time for the sermon, "God Knows."  On and on he talked about how hard life is, how sometimes the tough just happens....and "God Knows."   I was getting into it, tears almost in my eyes when Jed started to pass out.  We had to move fast, get out of the church, get him some water, get his legs raised...The whole time the pastor went on about how God Knows and He cares.

So, there we were, out in the church lobby, me holding his legs up in the air and about 8 men come out.  They look at us and say or do nothing.  They get in their little familiar circle, hold hands, say a prayer because they are about to administer communion and supposedly God doesn't want them to do that unless they go through their ritual.   Ha.  Good thing God knows and cares because those men certainly didn't seem to. 

I thought, "what would I do if I saw the situation Jed and I posed for them?"  And, I pray to the core of my bones that I wouldn't just go through my ritual and ignore people in my midst.   One man offered us communion and asked if he could help.  The others pretended we didn't exist.  It's easier that way with the handicapped.  Turn the other way and pretend you don't see.  I refuse to do that, as hard as it is sometimes.

Recently I was standing in the line at the grocery store and the woman in front of me was terribly deformed.  I started to pretend that she wasn't there and then forced myself to say, "were you in a fire?"  She almost hugged me.  She opened up, told me her whole story, I told her about Jed, she said she would pray for him every day and my heart was lifted.

Even though most of the men in church today didn't seem to "get it,"  the message today rang true. 
"God knows and He cares."  This brings me comfort and we will do yet another day with faith that even though there are those out there who pretend not to see because it is just easier, others see, they see with their hearst and perhaps, just for that moment, they are God. 

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Setting Goals

Jed's been sick today.  He caught a cold somewhere and hasn't gotten out of bed all day.  When He's like this the meds sort of take over his mind and who knows what will come out.  Sometimes it's a song, sometimes it's vulgarity, and sometimes it's plans.  Goals.  Today's rather irrational medically and fever induced goal was, "I'm gonna kick somebody's ass."

I told him that I looked forward to that and casually asked who's ass he might be planning to kick.  "I don't really know, but I'm going to kick it."  So everybody watch out.  Jed is planning to do some long awaited kicking.

I've been newly reminded of goal setting because I helped the kids set some for themselves, and we agreed on an award if they achieve their goal.  This was all done, of course, to mold and manipulate if you will , the negative behaviors that all children exhibit, and we teachers (once one always one) try to rid them of forever. 

So, the discussions, the agreements, the charts,  the stars, the anticipation, etc, etc, etc.  While trying to be so diplomatic, Ian said, "Grandma, if you make this too complicated, the award just might not be worth it."  Wow!  Brilliance!

So we made it simple.  Easy to understand and easy to accomplish.   Jed's goal is just that.  It's simple, it is getting closer to be accomplishable. and the reward will truly be worth it.  He can kick my ass if he wants.  

Sunday, August 29, 2010


Do you think much about heaven?  I mean really, do you spend any time at all thinking about heaven?  Well I don't.  I  figure it's there for me and when I get there I will be most pleasantly surprised.  But, except for right now, I don't think much about heaven.  Just like I don't think much about breathing.  My faith is real simple.  God is God.  I believe God is.  And I don't understand the rest.  Actually, I don't think we're supposed to understand.  I just think we're supposed to live the best life we can and God will take care of the rest. 

 We went to a new church today and the sermon was about heaven.  Sunday school discussion was about heaven.  I don't get it.  One of my lovely Christian customers said one day (as I spend lots of time talking about life and the way things are with my customers), "I find it funny, as much as we all talk about how wonderful heaven is, there doesn't seem to be a big rush to get there."  I loved it.  To me, it's life, that is so wonderful, maybe because it's finite.  Heaven on the other hand it infinite.  So the finite must be so very valuable. 

I vote for now.  God will take care of then.  But now is such a remarkable time.  Now we can touch someone's life.  Now we can take a walk with a child.  Now, we can lift the heart of a loved one. Now, we can crack a joke to make a handicap seem more accessible.  Now is what we have.  God has heaven.  And, I expect it to be wonderful. 

When I was growing up, my grandparents would visit often on Sundays and the big deal was greeting them at the gate.  There was joy in running out to meet them and welcoming  them to our home.  I think heaven will be something like that.  Our family members who have gone before will run to greet us, and we we celebrate the joy of knowing.  Knowing.  Knowing one another.  Knowing that what we believed without seeing is the truth.  Knowing that God is God and all his faithfulness has been revealed in our very presence. 

I actually don't think much, or hardly ever, about heaven.  But, just like breathing, and just like I know Jed will walk someday, I know it is there, it's in the bank and the reason we have banks, is so we don't have to think about it.  We know it's there. 

Friday, August 27, 2010

I'm Gonna Knock Your Socks Off

Our youngest grandchild started kindergarten this year.  We're blessed to be here in Colorado to watch the transformation. He proudly entered the house after his first day saying, "Grandma, I'm going to knock your socks off!" And then he proceeded to read his first student made school book with great pride.

It's good to be reminded of the great joy of learning.  We're here with three little boys who are entering into new worlds with new schools and classmates.  We too, are entering new worlds.  Sameness is safe and venturing out can be quite fearful. We've ventured many miles from our safe place.  Jed has a new doctor, a new OT therapist, a new PT therapist, new methods, new bed to sleep in, new TV remote to get used to, new, new, new.  Some of it is hard for him.  Some of it is painful.  Some it is hard for me and some of it is painful, but all in all we are going to knock your socks off.

I'm so proud of Jed.  He works so hard.  Today he had a "tired" day.  Tomorrow he will be ready to stand and practice walking.  He doesn't give up.  He doesn't say things like, "I'll never get better."  He is a man of great strength, great faith in himself, great faith in me, and great faith in God.  And, he has a marvelous sense of humor that carries us both through tough days.

Shared living is quite a lovely thing.  There's just more people to carry the weight of life.  Never in my wildest imagination did I think we would be living in a house with my son and his family, but it is quite nice.  I almost feel like John Boy should be saying, "Good night, Grandpa."  It's nice.  Just a few minutes ago our oldest, Ian, was digging through the refrigerator.  I went out and said, "hungry?" "Yeah, and there's nothing good.  Do you have anything good in your fridge?"  So we quietly searched and found a cucumber.  Odd, I know, but he loves them.  "Thanks Grandma, goodnight."  Moments like that are magic.

We try to get the kids to talk about their school day so we started, "five things."  The idea is that they are to tell us five things that they did during the day.  It's a riot.  But today was a kicker.  "Well, grandma, I just didn't have a five things day."  Like who can't think of five things they did?

My five things today was:  we slept late (which was wonderful), Jen and I got pedicures,(which was wonderful), then we went shopping (which was wonderful), then we had steaks that Nate BBQ'd, (which was wonderful), and then we went fishing (which was wonderful, but we didn't catch a thing.)

But Jed didn't have a five things day.  He was just tired all day.  He got a massage yesterday that made him so relaxed that he couldn't really get with the day today.  Right now he's sleeping and when I look at him I see so much hope even in his sleep filled face. 

So, I'm here to tell you that, just like Gavin in his joy to share his great new book, "We're going to knock your socks off."  It's been 16 months and it's much longer than we had in our heads for his recovery, but we both are still strong in our faith and commitment to his recovery.  Watch out.  One of these days Jed will be able to put his socks on and that indeed will knock my socks off. 

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Colorado or Bust!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

We're here.

It's been quite an adventure.  Packing, making decisions, watering the precious plants for the last time, repacking, "oh I forgot this," and "oh I forgot that."

But we got off.  We got to Jed's son's house the first day and reveled in the joy of their new life.  Proud as we could be we moved on.  Ubaldo at the helm and Jed the first mate.  Me squeezed between them with Wally on my lap, then Jed's, then mine, yadda, yadda yadda, for miles and miles. 

We trecked on.  And so it was for four days.  Some of it amazing fun, some of it barely tolerable, but we trecked on.  Great grandpa's hall tree in Matt's new home, we trecked on.  Stopped at two casinos on the way.  Paid for gas. 

Colorado would not be special if the kids weren't here.  But, they are and it is.  But here we miss the people.  People who we go to the movies with, people who know us, people who we know.  Here we are strangers in an amazingly beautifulstrange land.  So here we will meet people.

We now have an occupational therapist who we think is brilliant.  We have a physical therapist who we just met today and are confident that  she will do magic.  We are settled in our home and even have a "silver bullet" ( old clunky wheelchair van with hydrolic lift) that we are calling the "silver bullet, family van."   Push comes to shove we can ALL (dogs and all) go on an outing.  By the way, Wally is very happy.  The mountain air has given him back his youth.  And, Sarah, and anyone else who cares, we have a lake that if full of very hungry and big fish. 

So, we're set.  We are now officially bistatal.  So, come visit us, because we even have a guest bedroom.

We miss the ones we love in CA, but are enjoying the ones we love in CO.  Could anyone be more blessed?

Thursday, July 29, 2010

More Than One Way To Skin A Cat

I had an amazing father.  He worked hard, was a man of morality, a man of faith (well hidden) and a man who believed in himself.  He managed to provide a very fine life for four kids and my mom with the toil of his hands in dirt.  Dad was a farmer and didn't make a big deal out of much of anything except getting the job done when it needed to be done and fishing.

And, on the farm timing was everything.  The hay needed to be mowed, raked and baled with the moisture predictions, the cattle needed to be bred and fed with the calendar and the planting and harvesting needed to be done according to the signs of weather and sun.

But sometimes, he would run into problems.  Sometimes the tractor wouldn't start, or the rain wouldn't stop, or the rain wouldn't start or the hail came.   Sometimes the bull would die or the mother pig would roll over and kill her babies or the cows got too much fresh green grass and got very sick.  Sometimes the calves would be born in a blizzard and freeze.  Sometimes it just didn't work. 

It was then that my dad was at his best.  He would say, "There's more than one way to skin a cat."   Lover of cats that I was I just didn't quite get it.   Now I do. 

That's when imagination and creativity come in to play. 

Who would ever want to skin a cat?  Obviously this was dad's way of saying, "this may be hard, but we can get through this one too."  Skinning a cat.  Hard work.  Work you have to do because you just have to, because it's there and you have to do it.  You didn't plan it, you didn't ask for it, and you sure don't want it, but it's yours and you have to do it. 

So the cat becomes the unsurmountable problem and getting it's skin off in a new and creative way is the flow of imagination that gets a job done, even when it's hard and even when it seems impossible. 

Jed and I have been skinning cats for 15 months.   One after another, calico, alley, tabby, you name it, we've skinned it. 

When he couldn't get the wheelchair in the shower an we couldn't afford to remodel, we built an outdoor shower.  When we thought we would lose everything financially, we  teamed up with our kids and bought a house.  When I couldn't leave his side, I had the groceries delivered.  When the upstairs to our house became unaccessable to us, we cleaned it out for our care giver to move in. There is more than one way to skin a cat. 

Now we find ourselves somewhat anticipatory about a trip we are taking.  Who said a quadriplegic has to stay in one place and can't travel cross country in a U-Haul truck?  This cat will skin scratching and clawing.

I have my dad to thank for my grit.  Spending your life working in the dirt and relying on the sun and the rain and the grace of God tends to make a hearty and humble man.  He would be 98 this Saturday had he not passed away last Christmas time.  Skinning cats seemed to have served him well. 

It's serving Jed and I well, too.  Each day brings a new cat to skin and each day we learn something new about our cat skinning skills.   

Monday, July 26, 2010

self standing

You've heard it all before. "Stand on your own two feet." "Carry your own weight." "Just put one foot in front of the other." "Walk a while in another's shoes."  There's more.  They all assume that walking is a given.  That it is a decision.  That you can just decide to do it and you can. 

I don't know how the body works.  I know a lot more than I did 15 months ago, but the mystic of the operations of our bodies is nothing short of a miracle.  Science, yes, but a miracle none the less.  Every little connction has to be in line.  Our bodies are perfect and the greatest gift from God. 

But when things are not working perfect, one little spot in the spinal cord.  Really, I saw it on the ExRay.  One little spot.   One litle spot is not firing perfectly and it messes up everything.

Jed has made improvement.  Through determination and attitude and amazing professional care, he has made good progress.  But he still cannot do for himself. 

His great focus of late is to stand unassisted.  Self standing is just a given after age 2 or so.  It's like breathing, we just do it without thought.  Self standing for Jed is a major struggle, an occational success and often a crushing dissapointment. 

Tonight I told him that he was amazing, that no one could do this better than him.  My God, he's 70 years old and he has not given up, he stays positive, even though he is in constant pain and suffers from boredom. 

He is standing on his own two feet.  He is carrying his weight and he's putting one foot in front of the other.  It is just such a struggle. 

Thursday, July 15, 2010


We have rats.  This house has to be rat heaven.  Really, Rat Heaven.  The secret of this house is the space between the floors.  This house was built in the late 1800's and had very high ceilings as was the practice at that time.  Lots of people have made this house their home since then and some of them have remodled. 

We now have lower ceilings with a nice rat run between the floors.  I'm declaring war.  For 20 years we have put out poisen and said things like, "Oh, my God, the rats are back."  But we've never declared war.  I don't know how they are getting in, but it stops.  Here and now.  I hired a company to clean out the attic.  Can you imagine having that job?  They cleaned and  they cleaned and they vacuumed and the vacuumed.  Large hoses ran out of our house and I could hear the remanants of rat living move though the vessel occupying my entire house.  Awful as it was to face up to rat infestation, I feel clean.  I have won.  Rats be gone, if only for a while.  I have an exterminator coming to get the holdouts. 

Jed is doing good.  Progress is continuous, but it doesn't always build on itself.  He'll walk up a storm and move mountains one day and for the next several be prone and sleeping with little obvious function. 

His progress is like the rat war.  We fight hard.  We think we win.  We hire professionals and take their advise.  But sometimes it just can't be controlled.  Other times we get determined.  And, like the Karate Kid, nothing can defeat you. 

Nothing will defeat Jed.  He is a story to be told.  People talk about stuff that's hard, but this, this is hard.  He has no arms or legs that want to work for him.  But, he is declaring war on them.  He will win.  We will have no rats in the house and he will walk. 

Friday, July 9, 2010

Terrible Life

Do you know a single person who hasn't had a terrible life?  Everyone I know has.  Terrible.  They've lost a child or suffered cancer, or lost a spouse or been financially devastated or had their dreams crushed, or were divorced or had their kids destroyed with drugs, or never were able to bear children, or were raped or abused by their  parents, or suffer terrible pain, or are consumed with lonliness,....or had a terrible accident.  It's just terrible!  It appears to be the nature of life. How then do we go on? 

Alcohol tends to help.  A good glass of brandy can make most things seems less dark.  Pills help.  For a short time.  Very ineffective and not recommended, but they're a source of Terrible irradication.  My personal favorite is potato chips and appricot brandy.  Something about the sweet and salty takes me away to a better place if but only a short and unproductive while. 

I have lived a rather charmed life.  One where terrible didn't penetrate.  Terrible was all around but didn't poke my skin.  Terrible moved in one day and tried to make a home.  Terrible has a way of taking charge. 

What I've learned  is that family and friends are the gift God gives us to put a barrier up against Terrible.  What we've been given through the people we know has been nothing short of a miracle and Terrible has moved out.  Terrible comes sometimes in the night, lonely and afraid, but Terrible does not live here. 

I have friends who have had their children murdered, watched their spouses die in their arms, and have friends find comfort in suicide.  These are terrible.  How my friends survive is beyond me.  God gives strength.  Strength that brandy or potato chips or pills cannot provide.  God is how people survive Terrible. 

Everyone I know has had a terrible life.  Being a quadriplegic family is terrible.  But, comfort comes in friends, in the random visitors, in family and in self.  God has put a small seed of love and knowing in our hearts and this too shall pass.   How we all get through the tough stuff of life is quite a miracle.  I choose to call our miracle God. 

Friday, July 2, 2010


We went away this week.  We celebrated.  We celebrated the joy of knowing a remarkable person, Ubaldo, who has worked for us for one year.  The first day he worked for us was his birthday, so we celebrated one year later both the anniversary and the birthday. 

We spent two nights at Pachanga, a casino/hotel.  Three rooms, us, Ubaldo, Sarah and family.  Great fun.  Relaxation and awayness.  Awayness is good as it takes you away from the normal which can get very tedious. 

But, the remarkable thing about the time away for me was communication.  Being out of the normal routine is quite okay for the average person, but for the quadriplegic and care giver/wife, it can create anxiety.  We didn't have our normal set up.  Bathroom, schedule, meals.  These and more all need to be addressed. 

We accomplished all with amazing ease.  But, what I noticed was our need for communication.  "Put your foot here, move your arm there, lift now, adjust the pillow please."  We spoke to one another with gentleness and unspoken awareness that, "this is different, help me help you." 

We are so very blessed.  Not only do we have an amazing caregiver who we cherish and are proud to call our friend, we, Jed and I, can communicate.  We can speak to one another about needs and wants.  We can talk of tough stuff. 

This is not for the weak.  This is hard.  Each day, each experiance, must be carefully planned and executed.  But, we are blessed by one another's willingness to communicate with the other.

How do you evaluate a successful life?  A successful marriage?  I think it is though communication. 

Friday, June 25, 2010

Mysterious Ways

When something happens to us that we can't answer in our own terms someone inevitably says, "God works in mysterious ways."  People usually smile, and the more believing usually add something like, "yes, God is so good, or we just have to wait on the Lord." 

That kind of talk has never brought me much comfort.  Why in heavens name would God, all loving and knowing, want to be mysterious?  Like it was a game He/She was playing with us (the lessers) for His/Her entertainment.  Mystery, Magic, Make their life crazy. 

What I like, is breathing in God.  There is no mystery in God.  There is only beauty and love.  The mystery lies in our unwillingness to accept the gift so freely given.  We distrust pure beauty and love so we call it mysterious. 

It's not mysterious that amazing and beautiful people have come into our lives since the accident.  It's not mysterious that ramps are built and food is provided and friends come at just the exact right time or that assurance is given or prayers offered exactly when we need them.  It's not even mysterious that we are sometime left to our own musings to feel pain and loss and sorrow.  Breathing in God takes away the mystery.

I've lost count of the exact days, but I guess tomorrow will be 14 months since a fall from a ladder has changed out lives, dramatically.  Not mysteriously, just dramatically.  But, within days after the fall Jed said, "this was supposed to happen."

I've had trouble with that.  Trouble, but when I've allowed myself to just breathe in God, I see some truth. 

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

New Car

You know how it is.  You get a new car and then you see them everywhere.  It's like that with wheelchairs.  I can't believe that I'm studying people's wheelchairs now and silently evaluating their condition based on the type of wheelchair they have. 

Tonight we went to the movie.  Ubaldo and Jed met me there as they had just come from therapy and I from the shop.  Prior to their arrival I watched a woman help a man, presumably her husband, out of the car and on to the wheelchair.  For the unknowing, this seems simple, but there are so many steps.  Park.  Open trunk.  Lift out wheelchair (which are very heavy, even the lightest).  Set in place.  Move legs.  Communicate.  Stand and lift.  Place in chair.  Adjust.  All this is the life of the wheelchair bound and the caregiver/wife.  I watched, and as I watched I told myself, "she has no idea that I do this very thing  many times every day."  I just watched. 

Within a few minutes Jed and Ubaldo drove up.  Getting out of the van is simple as the rear drops out and the wheelchair can just roll out.  We were on the way to the movie and Jed saw the couple that I had just watched.  He said, "go over there, I want to talk to him." 

We did.  "Hey, buddy, how are you doing. I'm just like you, I'm a quadriplegic."  He smiled.  She responded.  "He has MS.  He's been like this for 10 years."   "Keep it up, buddy.  Us old guys, we just gotta keep going."   We went on to the movie.

But "10 years" stuck in my head.  She looked good.  She looked settled.  She looked tired.  Ten years.  She's been taking care of him for 10 years.  I don't know the history, but right now, he's much less functional than Jed, and she's out there, taking him to a movie and living life.  What a remarkable tribute to them both. 

We've been at this for one year and a little more.  It's been really hard.  But 10 years?   My God!  The endurance of people is beyond my ability to understand.  We are bearing more now than we  ever thought we could, but we are accutely aware that it is nothing.  People bear the unbearable and make it look quite okay, even beautiful. 

So tonight, I offer a prayer to the couple who passed through our awareness tonight.  May they carry their burdens with grace and comfort and may they have no more.  May they know God who somehow makes it easier. 

Friday, June 18, 2010

Today I ran away

It was a most amazing day.  I ran away today.  I asked Ubaldo to be here at 8:00 and I went junking.  First I went to an estate sale, and then to an artist's home of lovely things, and then to barns, and then to the shop for a privite shopping night which was pre arranged.

I loved my day away.  I was alone and didn't even turn on the radio.  Loved the silence.  Junking is a therapy that can give health to the most ill.  Junking is down right fun. 

I bought a sign and a lady's head and a sombrero and a few other treasures that just needed to be mine and then I drove for miles and miles to see others display their beauties.   Artristy is a magnificint gift and bestowed on only the few.  It is a joy to  see how the gifted use the things of life. 

My day was spent in, "wow" and "gee" and "I could do that" (but I don't and didn't and that's why they are the artists and I am the observer.)

Then I came home.  Jed and I went to the shop for the "after hours shopping event" that was preplanned and so fun. 

It was complicated, but it worked out.  Jed got tired and I rushed him home before tending to the "shopping folks."

They had categories that they were to focus on and make purchases.
Categories were:  Communication, Conflict Resolution, Spirituality, Sexuality, and Finance.  They bought things like:  stop signs, telephones, oil, piggy banks, whips, clocks, treasure boxes  and comic books.  I would like to have been there when they shared with the group why they bought an item and how it represented a certain cetegory.  It was fun for me and fun for them. 

Later tonight, while sitting out on the deck,  I imagined my brothers were here.  Jed sleeps a lot and I imagine.  Tonight I imagined that my three brothers were here and we talked of life.  It brought tears to my eyes imagining that we were all sitting at the table together.  It would be a joy in reality.  They all know the truth of life and their truth is often  in contridiction. 

Tonight, in my imagination, we just enjoyed the presence of one another and protected our own personal truth. 

Jed is sleeping.  He didn't express concern about my "day off", but I think it was hard on him.  I can run away for a day and he can't.  That's the bottom line.  No matter how supportive or in love either one of us is, that's the bottom line.   I can run away and he can't.   What a shitty deal for him. 

Sunday, June 13, 2010

writer's block

I want to write about something tonight but I can't think of anything to write.  When I taught 6th grade we had a thing called "quick write."  The  idea was to get kids to put ideas on paper quickly without the resistance of, "is this right? is this what the teacher wants?" etc.   So, I would read a passage and say, "quick write."  They had pen and paper prepared and would write a response to whaterver I had requested. 

Often kids would stare into the "never never land" and I would say, " you have to write, even if you don't have anything to write about.  If you can't think of anything, then just write, 'I can't think of anything to write, but my teacher is making me write.'" 

It usually worked and some amazing things came out of their, "can't think of anything" position.  That's where I am tonight. 

I want to share about us, but I can't think of anything that might be the least bit interesting to anyone. 

So, I'll just write. 

We went to church today.  Getting there is a process.  I am so aware that my health is critical to our existance.  We have a rather comfortable life, but it is entirely dependent upon my ability to lift and push and change and carry and drive and comfort and care.  Actually, I enjoy care giving.  I just get tired.  So very, very tired. 

Church was good.  Pastor is leaving.  That is the way with the Methodist church.  Some remarkable people at that church, like the survivor of the Baton march in WWII, or the Rotary leader who is silent but amazing.  

So, prior to church, we wake and decide to go to the backyard and have our coffee.  Sounds simple.  It's not simple.  First we must make sure that we secure Jed to the chair, as last time we went to the back yard he ended up prone, off the chair and on the ramp. 

It is surprising how heavy a man is.  I couldn't lift him and called our grandson for help.  Soon Jed was back on his chair and all was okay.  Now I know to always tie him to his chair when we go down the ramp to the shower or to watch the birds.  Going to the back yard for some R and R takes great preparation.  

The shower is outside and lovely, but the making it happen is a chore.  Transfer to the bed.  Disrobe.  Transfer to the shower chair.  Protect the legs and feet during travel to the shower. 

It's a thing called proprioception.  I had never heard of it before the accident.  It's knowing where your limbs are at any given time.  Think about it.  If you close your eyes, you know where your feet are or hands or ears for that matter. 

Jed has no proprioception.  He has no idea where anything is.  He has to see it and even then he is unsure.  So, even though he is gaining some movement, he doesn't know what is moving and where it is going. 

Must be a terrible delima for him. 

So, thinking on a less personal scale, but using the proprioception analogy.  Do we really know where anything is?   Has Jed's accident just made us all a little more aware of the tenacity of unknowing? 

It is very painful to watch this amazing man who could do anything, not be able to even lift his arm or know where his arm ( or leg) is.  But, it is beautiful to watch how he has adapted.  No one hates this more than him, but he is flexible, positive, and beautiful is his adaptation to his new life. 

Who knows.  Maybe one day he will walk.  Or not.  It doesn't matter.  What matters is the depth of knowing and the depth of love.  He is a remarkable man and I am blessed to have had 22 years with him. 

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Wheelchairs from hell

You wouldn't think that getting an electric wheelchair would be a big deal.  I just need to warn you, because I wish somebody would have warned me, you have to have a degree in business, one in negotiations, one in interpretation, one in communications and it wouldn't hurt to have one in basket weaving or quantum physics, just to get a wheelchair that you want to live with for a few years. (Five to be exact because that is the payment protocal for Medicair.)

Here's what I now know that I wish I had known a year ago.  Electric wheelchairs are outrageously expensive, (as much a most cars), the competition among companies is subtle but brutle because so much money is involved.  The companies know how to play on your weakness (life change, at you mercy kind of thing.)  Wheelchair technitions are way over worked.  They are generally nice people just trying to earn a decent wage and the company that is behind them stands to make huge money from Medicair or other insurance with little apparent concern for the long hours the technitions are spending just trying to keep the darn things appropriately running and fit to the patient. 

And, when it comes to "fit to the patient,"  Oh, my, God, that is another whole deal.  We are on our fifth electric wheelchair.  It went like this.  In August of last year a guy came out and measured Jed, asked a few questions and walked out saying, "It will be about 3 month."  Naive that we were we smiled and said, "okay, we'll see you in Novemeber." 

We're generally nice people and not big complainers (that's changing) so we gave them an extra month, and then my dad died and so by the time we called,  it was January.  "Oh, yes, we're expecting that any day." (We were dumb enough to believe even that.) 

Then one day they brought a "loaner," saying the custom chair would be here soon.  Well, the "custom" chair arrived sometime in February and it was far from custom.  No tray, no adjustable back or legs, many problems.  "What about...?"  we would say,  "Any day." we would get. 

Then.  Then the original rep walked into my shop.  She and most of the reps were either fired or left and our account was caught up in a law suit............The plot thickened.  Did we want to be dealing with a sleazy company, even though we we now close to comfort?   

Our eyes begin to open a bit and we started to make demands.  Hopping through hoops began and that's where we still are.  We've gone to another company, have yet another "demo" chair in the house now and I'm thinking of building an addition just to hold the chairs.  As I speak, we have two $40,000 electric wheelchairs, one manual wheelchair and two rolling commods in the once Victorian Music room. 

Just today, I had one technition here for 3 hours adjusting a leg rest (can you believe they tried to push a chair made for another person with one leg 2 inched shorter than the other on us, without telling us?) And tomorrow at 8:00 another technition is picking up a demo and hoping for a "let's go with this one," response to the use of his fancy bells and whistles chair.  I'm exhausted. 

Today Jed started to say something like, "let's just settle for whatever," but I wouldn't let him.  I said, "Jed, you have every right to have the most comfortable and best chair available and we will not settle for, "yeah, it's okay, now just leave us alone."  He smiled and said, "That's what Jeff said."  Jeff is his doctor brother whom is held in high regard. 

So the wheelchair experience continues.  Little did I know.  Literally.  The mark up on these things must be amazing.  I would like this experience behind us, but not at the risk of settling for little comfort. 

If this can save one person from the mess we've been in, then it is worth repeating over an over. 

Saturday, May 29, 2010


People come and go in our lives every day.  As a shop owner I have the random folks walk in every day and most stay just that, random and unimportant.  But Ubaldo is an exception.  Ubaldo was a customer.  He bought nice things, like siver punch bowls and giant poinsettas.  He was friendly.  We were friendly. 

But Ubaldo has become such an important part of our lives that the tapestry is so beautifuly woven, who would dare take out the thread?   Our relationship began as customer/shop owner.  I knew he was a care giver from talking with him as he made purchases.  He seemed nice enough.  Then one day he bought something big and Jed delivered it.  They both told me at seperate time how much they enjoyed the other person.  "What a nice guy he was....."   So, when I was desparate and in disbeleif that rehab would actually send Jed home in his state of inability, it's no wonder that I, seeing him and his mother enter the shop, would say, "Ubaldo, are you still doing caregiving?"  When he responded, "Yes, I'm looking for a job, " I said, "You're hired."  Later I learned his mother thought it quite strange that I didn't require recommendations.  One of my good friends from the shop said, "What better recommendation can you get?  God put him there and just the time you needed him."

Now.   Now he is woven in.  He is family.  He is friend.  He is lifter of spirits and carrier of pain.  Ubaldo is our great friend.  When he and Jed are working together (stretching, standing, exercising) they are so joyful to watch.  They love each other.  (Neither of them would admit it, because, oh my God, what would that mean?), but they just love each other, easy and mean.  They cuss like sailors and laugh like little boys.  Sometimes they are laughing so hard that neither can  move beyond the  moment.  More cussing, tears of laughter, and more cussing. 

Now if you were a quadriplegic what would you prefer?  A caregiver who took care of you, or one who got under your skin and called you a "jack ass" when you were one? 

This man is a tribute to humanity.  He has taken to caring and loving our kids and grandkids, filling our home with beauty and wonderful food, and battling all the medical insurance and legal concerns that come our way. 

Ubaldo dropped out of heaven just for us.  We hope and pray that we dropped out for him too. 

Thursday, May 27, 2010


Today we showered with a hummingbird.  Certain amount of trauma getting to the shower and making everything work and then there it was, the whirring sound of something alive.  I looked, and both of us, hummingbird and me, were a bit startled.  We were showering together.  Jed showering, me washing and the hummingbird trying to decide whether we were friend or foe. 

It was a moment of solitude.  We watch the news a lot. Usually they don't report about good things.  Or simple things that make us feel alive.  Showering with a hummingbird is simple and very much a poke toward being alive and in tune. 

Jed is now going to occupational therapy.  Basically, that's working with the arms.  We've been so focused on physical therapy (legs) that the arms have been ignored.  Learning the system is important while being a quadriplegic.

The system is, if a doctor recommends a certain thing it will be accepted by medicare and provided.  The key is getting the doctor, who doesn't really have a clue what's going on because he has his own life, to write a script for therapy.  That's the key word, "script."  I know a lot about how to deal with the "system" now, but it is really ridiculous.  Many times, when we've needed something, we've just made "demands" and the office manager or resident nurse has responded.  I'm sure if you asked the doctor, he wouldn't have a clue about what he has authorized. 

But, regardless of who authorized it, we are getting it and "it" is good.  Therapy is a good thing.  Perhaps it's best because it provides a structure for doing and improving.  They really don't do anything we couldn't do at home, they just provide a  structure and a destination and a promise.   Therapy is a good thing.  Doctors should just give a blanket okay to this type of thing.  They do adore the power, however. 

But, in the meantime, we have the opportunity, to every now and then live life very beautifully.  Today was one of those days.  We showered with a hummingbird and neither of us (hummingbird or human) felt as though the other shouldn't be there. 

My husband is amazing.   Most anyone in his situation after this long of time would be bitter and mean and self serving.  He is none of those.  Jed, is kind and generous and appreciative.  He is loving and very much loved. 

We recognize the hummingbird as a message from God.  We receive it as, "keep is up, I am proud of you." So, we are keeping it up and knowing that what is ahead of  us will be rich and joyful.  


I'm exhausted this morning.  I spent all last night moving furniture in a huge two story house and fighting with my brothers about where to put things.  It was a dream, of course,  but I woke with sore muscles and  little energy after lifting and fighting all night.    You see, in the dream, we are all going to live together, my brothers, their kids, my parents, and a few other old people.  My plan was to put the old people down stairs and all the young ones upstairs.  My mother thought this was a great plan and I was trying to please her as well as appease everyone else.  In real time my mother has been dead for 30 years.  But she was very real last night. 

I carried mattresses and headboards from one room to another, then someone would come and express dissatisfaction, so we would discuss and move again. 

This is all related to my real life.  We have a two story house and I have been moving out of the upstairs for months, making a bedroom our of a living room and then out of an office.  The upstairs is nearly empty now but things don't have homes yet and are floating a bit about various parts of the house. All this requires tossing and decisions.  None of which are overbearing, just time consuming and energy eating. 

Now, we are planning to go to Colorado for a few months and I have stuff anxiety.  What stuff to take, what stuff to leave, what stuff to have both places.  Stuff sure gets in the way of a  good time (and a good night's sleep.)  Perhaps I have too much of it.  I do believe that is the lesson of  an exhausting sleep.  It's just stuff. 

Ubaldo has paved the way for us in Colorado.  He has found a place for Jed to continue therapy and a new doctor who specializes in spinal cord injuries.  Now we just need to figure out transportation and be on our way.  In the meantime I will deal with stuff.  Colorado will probably be another month. 

Monday, May 24, 2010

We now have a shower that Jed can get in to.  It has been a year since he had a nice shower.  This old house didn't have bathrooms when it was built so the only one downstairs was built in a hallway, much too small for a wheelchair for fit into.

Talking with a customer one day at the shop I was given a recommendation for a carpenter that could help build a ramp to the outside so that Jed could enjoy our back yard. Once again, these guys dropped out of heaven.  In a weekend they put a door where there was once a bay window and buildt a ramp out the door and another to the lover level of the ramp. Our whole house opened up.  No longer trapped in a small little room with a TV and a commode. 

I asked for a bid on making the shower accessible.  Through the roof!!!   "But why not build one on the deck?" they asked.  Why not?  They used the old barnwood we'd been trying to sell, and lots of old doors and windows from the shop.  Wah lah!  A greenhouse/shower.  It's wonderful.  They installed a small water heater under the deck and now I have tomatoes and watermelon growing where Jed showers.  I even sneak out and take a "shower with a garden view" spa experience when I'm sure the racoons are occupied elsewhere.  Water heater: $200, labor: acceptable and appreciated, shower with a view:  priceless. 
So tonight we had it all planned.  Jed would sit in his "jump chair" (sort of like a baby jumper, but don't tell him that) while I watered the plants in the back yard and maybe even had a glass of wine on the back deck.  We put him in the chair,  It's quite a process of wheeling the chair under a large frame and hooking the seat on to springs.  We are usually both tired by the time we get him in it.  Then I pull the wheel chair out and he is suspended by the springs and sitting in a "bag seat."  That's how it has worked for a year.  Tonight we both forgot to hook the upper seat belt and when I pulled the wheel chair out he did a face first flip onto the floor of the deck. 

Luckily he wasn't hurt badly, but there he lay. I managed to turn him over, but without Ubaldo making a trip across town (leaving his pasta to overcook) and helping (basically doing it all), Jed would probably have had to spend the night on the deck with the racoons. 

Obviously our evening plans changed.  This is just a small example of how indebted we are to Ubaldo.  He is a constant giver and gives with a kind heart and laughter.  

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

There are times in life when you just know that you are in the right place at the right time.  It's magic.  It doesn't happen often.  But, I think we are there right now.  I went to a home today to look at potential buys for the store and sadness prevailed.  I couldn't get away from there fast enough. 

That's not what our life is like.  Sure, it's a bit complicated, and sometimes totally exhausting, but our life is clean.  It is sure.  It is confident.  We know we have each other, we know we have family, we know we have friends, we have faith and we look forward to a future. 

Tonight was movie night.  This has been a tradition for some 10 years.  The group has expanded, but the pattern is the same.  Early movie, drinks, snacks and discussion to follow.  Home before 8.  Simple but clean.  It stopped for a while after the accident but started again once we managed transportation and mobility.  So tonight we laughed with friends, we teased one another about heritage, we talked of favorites and we didn't talk about "poor us." 

Poor us gets old.  Who can really carry that for long?  Even the best can only carry it for a few months and then it just gets old.  So, here we are in this magic place.  Right place, right time.  Good friends who can laugh and ignore the "poor us" with either us or themselves, and just talk about movies and musicals and travel and heritage. 

Tonight we brushed shoulders with real heros of war, champions of track, survivors of life's lesser bests, masters of beauty and feasting, rodeo winners and faith warriers.  We are honored to call them friends.  Right place, right time, right people.  Poor us just doesn't register. 

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

So today he went to therapy.  First time in 2 weeks.  It went okay, but he is so tired.  Tired is the word for the dayl  He's tired, I'm tired, Ubaldo is tired.  We work hard at not being tired., but tired just catches up and takes over. Tired can own you.  Tired is a master.  Tired can control everything if you but let it.  Tired is a cruel equilizer.  Tired just is.  The fight against tired is cruel.  Sit, stand, lift, lift again, lift lift, lift. 

Nobody thinks about the mechanics of lifting a leg, or arm, until it is impossible.  Right now lift your leg at bended knee 10 times.  Do it.  And think about it.  Ten times.  It was't hard was it?  But for Jed, it is a major event, a relevation, it is an amazing accomplishment.  The spinal cord is in control.  Yours is doing what it was meant to do, Jed's is not. 

We don't complain about our lot in life.  We just are aware.  We are aware that most people spend a lifetime worring about the unimportant.  It is so clear to us now that our focus needs to be on love.  Love for one another, love for family, love for the history that we have and love for the future.  Love is a well used word but critical in our existance.  Love.  When you say  the word love,  freedom pours our of your skin.  Love..   Empowering and  complete.  Love.  We only get one chance at this life.   We do our best, gather the best around us, and pray that what we have done will be seen as acceptable, but the truth is, none of us really know. 

Jed and I both spent most of our productive lifes as teachers.   Small joys come to us from those years.  That's probably how it should be.  Small joys and short stories.  We have many of them, short stories of children.  We like to think we made a difference, and for some we probably did, but for most we were just there.  We were a stepping stone, a passage, an unimportant memory that will fade.  That is hard to accept, but a truth that will prevail. 

Now, we focus on simple stuff.  How to stand, how to take a simple step, how to to a sit up, how to be upright longer than prone.  We rememeber the expectatons we put on children and we wonder if we could ahieve what we once expected from them. 

We are not bitter, we are just aware.  Aware is a good thing.  Aware  makes us free to be complete. 

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Jed hasn't been to therapy for almost 2 weeks.  He was doing so good.  Walking even.  On real land, not just in the water.  He was very proud and expecting to be an independent walker by the end of the month.  But then he got a fever.  Who knows what brought it on.  Just a fever.  We got antibiotics and he's better, but now he has lost his walking memory. Sounds funny, but that's what it is.  We have to start over retraining and reminding his muscles what to do in order to walk.  He can't even stand alone now. 

He's been there once, so he will get there again, but it is not a direct line.  Progress.  It's not a direct line from one accomplishment to another.  It's a zig zag and sometimes a complete hault.  I imagine all life is like that.  That is why we need Faith.  Without it, facing a tomorrow would be near impossible. 

I have spent the last few days simply sad.  Sad is unproductive and very self serving, but sometimes it's the only thing that works.  Sad gives away to slothiness and messiness and fear.  Sad and Scared go together.  They have a life of their own.  They sees colors different,  prepare food different,  speak to people different,  even dress different.  Sad and Scared are okay.  Sometimes they just need to be recognized, acknowleged and papered a bit.  Sad or Scared don't live long when they're exposed.  Sad and Scared are friends of the dark.  We don't live in the dark.  Not for long anyway.  We chose light.  We chose hope.  We chose tomorrow. 

So we move on.  Tomorrow we will go to therapy and try to regain what the fever, Sad and Scared took.  We will try to rebuid hope and personal goals.  Tomorrow is a new day. 

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Have you ever been bit in the ass by a spider?  Let me assure you that your energies will be focused on your bottom end for quite an extended period of time.  Imagine the circumference of a drinking glass as hard as a rock, flaming red and very painful.  Of course, it's also right where you sit. 

No more information is needed.  That's why I haven't written.  Any free time has been spent soaking in a hot salty tub.  One night while I sat soaking I looked differently at the stainded glass window that is above our tub and became so appreciative of the unknown hands that made it, that I was brought to tears.  I soaked out the pain as I examined the beauty and detail that had gone into the window at another time and in another country.  All I know about the window is that I bought it from a local antique store (before I was the best in the county) and  asked Jed if he would "cut a hole in the wall and put this window there."  I had undeveloped appreciation of the love and skill it would take for him to complete the task, but he did.  Because I asked him to. 
But, as I lay there soaking out the poisens of an eight legged intruder to my underwear, I was overwhelmed with the beauty.  Not only the beauty and symmentry of the window, but the beauty and symmentry of life itself. 
Once, my Jed could lift a huge and delicate window, carry it up a trecherous stair, cut a hole in a wall to precision and fit the window that I had picked out fresh off the boat from "somewhere in Europe" into the perfect spot.  It's there now for me to enjoy when life, or spiders, slow me down a bit.  There's beauty and balance in all that.  I like to imagine the person who put lead to colored glass and while I do both spider pain and life"s uneasiness soak gently away. 
Now, Jed and I celebrate self-standing.  Practice for yourself for a moment and think about what it takes to stand up.  We do it without thought.  Jed has to concentrate and demand performance out of every muscle in order to make the self-stand possible.   Even then it is fleeting.  One minute, two, once we made five minutes.  He was used up.  He had put everything into 5 minutes of being upright without help. 

We're a stained glass window.  One day we will be a beautiful example of perserverance and choice, but now, we're just pieces of broken parts trying to bond and find the connection that will make us beautiful.  One day someone will be soaking away their pain and will look at us and be brought to tears for the beauty of creativity.  Until then we will fit the pieces we have in to what we can. 

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Today I told a neighbor that "we have had a good year."  It surprised me as the words came out.  This was a neighbor we hardly knew and he said something about "no matter how bad you have it there is always somebody who has it worse."  I've never really enjoyed that outlook on life, but this year it has rang true.  We have it real bad.  It sucks it's so bad.  But, amazingly we are quite happy. 

I've talked at length about the church family, the friends, the family.  Our hearts are always fillled up.  We have a gardner who brings casseroles, family who lifts us, church members who bring dinners,  and a care giver direct from the lap of God.  All is well with our souls. Jed, is, however a continuing quadriplegic. 

So, we lift and transfer and turn and treat and give the care that the condition requires.  But, we have had a good year.  It's all come together.  We've had time to reflect, to look at life more simply, to appreciate, to value, to trust and love.  It has been the year we wish would never have come, but the year that has moved us beyond ourselves. 

On Saturday I did something for me.  I auditioned to sing the National Anthem for the Dodgers.  It was a big deal for me, a bucket list item.  But I did it, and am proud of myself.  I have no idea what will come of this, probably nothing, but I grabbed that mic and sang my heart out.  You see, one of the finer things I've learned this year is to grab the goodies while you can.  So I went out and grabbed them. 

My grandmother lived to be 98 years old.  She lived by herself for many years. I had a good relationship with her and would ask her about aging.  She said that she, "feels no different at all, except all her friends died."  The point is, we really don't feel different as we go through the stages of our lives.  Ours is to enjoy, live, love and participate in.  Should it be difficult or painful or ugly, well, that is just the way it is.  But, in the midst of it all there are goodies to grab.  Joy.  And if we don't go for it?

Years ago when Jed was quiting teaching, we talked about how he should quit.  My idea for him was to retire from teaching, take his pension and "live happily ever after."  His idea was to explore opportunities and take risks and have a hell of a good time.  He said over and over, "I need to have my arms and legs."  We decided that he should be free to explore opportunities.  So he explored.  And we had a "hell of a good time."   We dreamed dreams that most can't even think.  We lived high and we planed for a time when we could spread the wealth to our grandchildren and loved ones.  We lived on the edge and knew we were there.  He had his arms and legs.  And now he doesn't.  But, we still dream dreams and we still live high.  It's just different. 

Tonight I have a "life is good even though my husband can't move or care for himeself" attitude.  I don't really know where this comes from.  But I know that we have lived a remarkble life.  Arms and legs don't make a happy life.  Somewhere there is inner peace.  It may not last, and the next time I write I may be angry and mean, but, now, even though life is really shitty and who would ever want this one.  I pick ours.  It's hard, it's sometimes very sad and it's not at all how we planned our "retirement," but we are complete by the essence of each other.  We don't have arms and legs, but we soar.

Friday, April 9, 2010

Hope is like oxygen. Without it the body is slowly starved and dies. But with hope great things can happen. The body breaths, the body becomes aware that somewhere beyond what medicine can do, Hope takes over and moves mountains (or in our case, limbs.) When you walk into our home you can tell that hope lives there. It has occassionaly taken the dog for a walk and the lack of it strangles us with anxiety, but when it's there, it is tangible, almost visible. Faith, Hope, Love. The bible says the greatest of these is LOVE. I suppose. I guess it is LOVE that exists first and drives the need for the other two. It's HOPE that levitates and FAITH that makes us know both will continue.

I've wanted to write about Hope for months, but Despair has gotten in the way.  Well, here it is again, Hope.  I'm even thinking of painting the porch and building a ramp so that Jed can get to the back yard.  What a person needs to live a very happy life is very situational.  We were trained to believe that it meant all the trappings, all the stuff.  But life and the happiness of it is really quite simple...a little touch, a smile of assurance, some discussion of life and the way things are, and an occassional glass of brandy. 

My son once said about some decisions that we made, "It takes the bite out of life for both of us."  Wow, if we are blessed enough to have a son or daughter who shares the burdens and joys of life, how can we feel deprived of life's blessings. 

I have a friend who reads this blog regularly and will know that this is about her.  Hope surrrounds you.  You have been bathed in it.  We all have if just but turn on the faucet.  Hope is a choice.  I choose hope.  How something so vital for life could be a choice is very confusing, but here we are again at the dim mirror. 

Thursday, April 8, 2010

We're nearing the year mark.  Life was one way before and life is another since.  As anniversaries will have you do, we have been remembering.  Last night at the "after the movie discussion-eat-and-drink-time,"  Jed was asked, "Just how did this happen, anyway?" and "Were you unconscious?" among other questions of rememberance.  So it all came back like a flash, the blood, the fear, the sirens, the EMTs, the lost keys, the "who should I call?," the skull bone, the knowing raised eyebrows, all came back.  ER is a very frightful place.  There's puke, police, panic and prom dresses all within an eyes view.  I had forgotten, but I remember now, the bathroom angel.  I was deadpan.  She looked at me and said, "Can I help?"  From out of nowhere she comforted and prayed with me.  I looked at her through tears and said, "Who are you?"  She had flown in from Texas just that evening for a wedding tomorrow and ended up in ER with a friend.  She assured me that Jed would be fine, walked out and I never saw her again. That kind of stuff has been happening for a year. 

As terrible as this year has been, I can't say that it has been all bad.  Jed and I have a stonger more trusting relationship than ever, our kids and family  have surrounded us with love and support, we have become rich and wonderful friends with our care giver, we have been carried by our church and friends for months, and, even though we have  lost our lifetime envestment, we have gradually climbed out, and are feeling somewhat like butterflies with wet wings, knowing that something wonderful is ahead of us, but fully aware that this is not yet the time. 
Easter is a good time to think about what lies ahead and to look at the future with hope. 

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Spring is here and my attitude is catching on.  Breathe in freshness.  I don't feel it but want to.  It is still just the same.  But today we tried something new with acupuncture.  We plugged me in to Jed.  Literally.  Needles in my legs, needles in his, cross with the right and left brain thing and hook up with electricity so we throb with anticipation of sharing energy.  Like an organ donar without the mess. 

Years ago my daughter advised me that I need to receive as much energy as I give.  This was related to my drained self at the end of a teaching day.  She recommended that I pay attention to energy going out and energy coming in because we need to be in balance.  Today I was more than happy to be an output for energy for Jed. 

It all seems like hocus pocus but it is all so steamed in the existance of life that I am not willing to dismiss the potential benefit.  So we sit with out legs connected and a generator moving our energy and wondering.  He wants his legs to be stonger.  Oh, how be both do.  Some think that if we just prayed hard enough and believe strong enough that we would be healed. 

God is with us.  God is in every thought and idea for cure that we have.  God is bigger than what we have.  God is bigger than quadripegia.  God is bigger than financal demise.  God is bigger than lonliness.  God is bigger than unknowing.  God is God and we either chose to believe that He is Him or we reject Him.  God is.  All this that we are experiencing is nothing.  (It's something to us, but it's nothing.)  Imagine everything you know on one page. And now imagine everything God knows.  It's millions and millions of libraries.  What we know and what we experience is nothing. 

So.  So we did not fall from grace.  My attitude, Jed's helplessness, my attitude, Jed's total lack of who he was, my attitude, Jed's inability.....all these are nothing.  One day we will see through the mirror fully and know.  Oh how I would like to be pissed off about this whole deal, but it just doesn't seem to have any substance.  God is  God and we wil one day know. 

Saturday, March 20, 2010

First day of Spring  Not a very happy day for me.  We've gone full circle with the seasons and we are back to Spring.  I don't even remember Summer.  It blurrs with the freeway trips to rehab. I don't remember Summer at all.  Fall was when we moved into life at home, when the church people moved in, when therapy was easy because it was here. Fall was almost fun.   Winter was dark because the electricity in the house stopped working and I couldn't afford the $2500 quoted to fix it.  Winter was smelly because the plumbing went bad 3 times until we finally paid for a big root killing-drilling job. Winter was sad because my dad died.  And now it's Spring. 

I watch people work in the garden.   I hear friends complain about working hard with their husbands, cleaning up their yards.  Spring seems to bring new life and energy.  But to us, it's the same.  The season doesn't matter. What matters is standing practice, or a "doughnut" to relieve the bottom end that gets much too much use.  What matters is 20 minutes in the "bounce" chair.  What matters is meds at the right intervals and bowel movements.  It could be Summer, or Winter, or Fall.  It doesn't matter. 

What does matter is remembering.  We now have electricity because a young man who found a home with us for a year, when he really needed one, just appeared one day and fixed our problem.  It's been 15 years since he lived here, but he said that he would charge us a year's rent for the repair.  Nice.  It took him several days and lots of crawling around in very dirty places, but we are now well lit. 

Last night was a Spring cleaning night at the shop.  I asked my dealers for help.  "Will work for food."
Fifteen people came and worked very hard organizing, dusting, decorating.  I was overwhelmed with the progress and the willingness that everyone had to pitch in and help out.  The garage had become almost unenterable and it is now amazingly organized.   Jed stayed home alone.  That was his gift to me. I cried when I left him because he felt so helpless. 

We will get through this.  We give to each other the meager gifts we have to give.  Mine is willingness, his is patience.  We hold each other up and look forward.  The second day of Spring will be better.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Edge.  On the edge of despair, lost our edge, clean your edges, on the edge of a cliff, the edge of a razor, edge. Don't lose your edge.  I think we've lost our edge.  Edge.  What is that anyway?  The good side of life?  When you lose your edge what have you really lost?  Have you lost your ability to believe that the next day will be better than today?  Have you lost a precious gift?  It sounds so ominous, so final.  Like, if you lose your edge you will never find it and you will pine its loss forever.  Edge. 

Today was an edge losing day.  Edge was floating around like butterflies and we were trying to catch them with no apparent success.  Edge was the illusive butterfly. So when you lose your edge what happens?  Will you know it when it's gone?  Will it hurt?  Or will it be one of those comforting things that just takes you into a life of "less than we were" without us knowing?  Edge. How important is it?  Is it Godly? 

Jed thinks he's lost his edge. This is so very sad.  This man has lived on the edge his whole life.  Even his father called him, "The master of modern living."  And if Jed thinks he's lost his edge he's saying to me that he's lost the essence of himself.  (Like Jackie Draper in "Puff the Magic Dragon".)   I'm an elementary school teacher and a romantic to boot, so my life story will wrap around children's stories and songs. 

One month before the accident Jed took the grown grandkids skiing and snowboarding.  Jed was a snowboarder (probably the oldest on the slopes.)   On the slopes your edges are very important.  But it isn't just the equipment that has to work.  It is the boarder.  The boarder has to make a decision to dig in the edges when the time is right, and release them at other times for the best ride. 

It's not much different now.  He has not lost his edge.  It's just a day to release them and let the slope take us where it will.  Having life experiences is good to be able to reflect and gain perspective.  Edge is good.  Edge is controlable.  Edge gives us the sharpness of life but we can't be there always or we simply would crash and die.   

Thursday, March 11, 2010

We're trying to figure out what to do with our lives.  Things are so different that we have to think differetly.  Like, what do we do with a large old 1890's farm house when all the bedrooms are upstairs and the mortgage is out of this world?  So we applied for a modification and in the meantime applied to a senior park.  We figured we could live there rather maintence free and at least have all the living space on one floor.  Wheel chairs don't go upstairs very well. 

Shock of shocks, we were denied entrance into the senior park because our credit is shot.  You see, after the fall Jed lost all his real estate investments.  We were on the verge of being millionaires many times over and now we get denied by a senior park.  They told me that they would let us move in if we provided a guaranture.  No way.  I will not burden anyone else.  Can you imagine?  That's the kind of thing teenagers do when they buy their first car.    I wrote a letter explaining the situation and gave them a "we are of good character" appeal but thet weren't impressed.  Insult indeed.  Even though it seemed smart to live there, the very thought of it made me cringe so I had to  accept the outcome as simply okay and be open for what lies ahead. 

In the meantime we modified our loan and are living quite comfortably in the house the once felt quite large but now feels very small as three wheel chairs, a commode, a hospital bed and a bed for me now fill the living room and the rest  just feels small. 

We know that many decisions lie ahead for us.  One of which is, just how far do we go to pursue a cure?"  We have come to know of a stem cell program in Germany which we plan to apply for.  The questions are numerous, but the bottom line is, "is this smart?"  I suppose there is no way of really knowing, so we need to trust the peace and comfort that comes, if it comes, with making the decision. Listening is a very good thing.  Listening to the silent truth that comes to us in waves. 

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

I am from a very, very small town in Nebraska.  Actually I lived on a farm 6 miles out of that very, very small town.  Remarkably the folks in that very, very small town (abont 250 people) have kept a ministry going for years. 

They're so small that they have a community church because the town can't support lots of denominations.  That little church has kept a weekly, mind you, weekly newsletter going for years. 

It came today and one of the "articles" was about Grace.  It reads:

"Grace strikes us when, year after year, longed-for perfection does not apper, when the old compulsions reign within  us as they have for decades, when despair destroys all joy and courage.  Sometimes, at that moment, a wave of light breaks into our darkness, and is as though a voice were saying, 'you are accepted, you ae accepted, accepted by that which is greater than you....'  If that happens to us, we experience Grace."  Paul Tillich 

This touched me.  "We did not fall from Grace "has been my on going theme since the life changing fall on April 25, 09. But Grace.  What is it?  Purity.  Purity that even though we are us and experience "us stuff,"  something out there is bigger, knows all, comforts when we let it, guides when we listen, mourns when we mourn and carries us to a new day. 

Grace grants peace.  Grace is God's talcum powder.  I think I would die without it.  Grace allows me to smile and mean it, change bedding and do laundry, watch my husband struggle with pain and loss.  Grace rocks.   It's the misletoe of a real bad deal, it's the aroma in a lovely rose, it's the smile on a child, the battery that works, the plumber who prays and the gardner who cooks.  Grace is eyes open to see goodness and eyes closed to a miserable future.  Grace rocks. 
Have you ever tried to floss another person's teeth?  I have other indigant personal questions I could ask, but the real question is, do you know what it takes to keep another person involved in life? I'm in love with my husband and have been for a very long time.  I love him because he give me me.  It's a very precious gift.  We don't really know ourselves and when we meet someone who reads us, knows us before we know ourselves.....My God!   Make them your life partner!   So that's what we did, some 21 years ago, but just now we are getting to know each other. 

I'm a God person so one would think that maybe I would jump to "God wanted this to happed and it's in His plan."  Well, for all you other God people, I didn't go there and hope to never.  Jed just fell off a ladder.  God made gravity and unfortunately gravity won.  I don't believe for a minute that God made Jed fall or designed it that way.  I do believe that He, God, has been there all the way to give people to make the fall journey more bearable. 

From the beginning.  Almost a year ago.  People.  From soup to ham to ramps to transport cars to electricians, to care givers.  People of God have been there for us.  

I have a great deal of anxiety about finances and future and life the way it is, but, I really don't know why, because God has been there through it all.  When we have had a need it has been so amazingly soothed.  God has given us people. 

Jed is an amazing man.  He brings people to him and allows them to be light with him.  He continues that with no arms and legs.  Today we had an appointment with our spinal cord doctor and while we waited in the loby Jed worked the audience.  The audience was two young men who were victims of motorcycle accidents.  They were in their 20s.   Before we left there was a brotherhood expression, laughter, "yeah, man", keep it up.....Jed worked the room and brought a little bit of joy to the young men.  Spinal cord injuries stick together. 

But flossing teeth, well it's just something we do for ourselves.  We don't do it as an expression of love, like kissing and hugging.  But in my world we do that and more. 

He thinks I do this for him.  The truth is I do it for me.  I'm a better person now. 

Monday, March 8, 2010

We're having a series of firsts.  Each one has its own difficulty in facing  the reality of how our life was and how our life is, well, black and white, night and day, in and out, up and down.  It's just completely the other side of the coin.  Today we went to the casino.

Tonight was the first time we talked about our firsts.  The first time we ate together in public, the first time we went to the movie, the first time we went for a walk....Each one has some memory that has to be faced, remembered, pined, and erased.  Each one has an element of embarassement or of adaptation.  Or even anger.  As our firsts get more frequent our adaptability gets more power and our "everyone's looking at us" gets smaller and loses its strength. 

The first time we had a meal in public was accompanied by anger and shame and carefulness.  We were not very successful.  Being a grown man who has always been in charge of life having to be fed, and then dropping a cookie because you try, and then having food on your shirt....It's almost unbearable.  But we didn't talk about it.  We just went home, went to sleep and knew that we will always eat in private  But now, now the waitress brings extra long straws and we laugh about whos bite it is.  Firsts that are allowed to become seconds get better. 

The first time we went to the movie was humbling.  The handicapped area is very close to the front.  Everyone sees.  Everyone knows.  But as the films play on and the movie "club" expands, movie night becomes important, an evening away from early to bed and reruns of "Bones."  Being social is not dependent upon arms and legs.

But today we went to the casino.  Jed and I have lovely (and some not so lovely) memories of casinos.  It was our place to laugh and forget.  Today we remembered and it was painful.  We were big about it, but it was painful.  Jed used to light up a craps table with his loud silliness and his cowboy hat.  Today he awkwardly manuevered around people and graciously waited while I endulged.  Tonight he said, "I feel like I should apologize to you."  Apologize.  Apologize for trying?, for making the effort?, for giving me an afternoon of randomness?  That's when we talked about firsts. 

We will either have many many firsts or we will stay in this living room, sleep and watch TV.  Firsts are necessary.  They are theraputic.  Without them we would die a very slow and sheltered death.  I'm proud of Jed for, no matter how uncomfortable or how awkward or how embarassing or painful, he is willing to do firsts. 

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

I'm not impressed by much in life.  But once a pianist and beautiful woman touched my heart.  She was our pastor's wife and she played as though God had touched the tips of her fingers and the essence of her heart.  She told the story of how she learned to play on a paper piano because her family was poor and could not buy a piano for her to practice, so she listened well and practiced on a paper piano hearing the music in her head and heart.  Every time she played I was touched to tears.  She had to leave.  Pastors wives follow their husbands as it should be.  But one day, one Sunday morning before they left she was playing.  Playing beautiful music so that the sanctuary welled with awesome and incredible reality.  Jed and I were in the back.  He said to me, "let's dance down the isle!  Come on, let's dance down the isle."  But I was too proper and too "what would people think" and too too.  So I said. "No."  Not long after the  invite the ladder slipped and the dancing haulted.  Often I fanticize about the liturgical dance we could have had.  We could have danced to the beauty of real Godliness, but I was too too.  Too much wondering, Too much proper.  Too much "don't be silly."  And now.  Now I say to everyone, "dance while you can!"  "Dance to the drum and to the call of beauty.  Dance when dancing seems silly or wrong.  Dance.  Now we can't dance.  Now our dance is on wheels and mechanical.  Now our dance is a struggle.  Get out ther and dance.  You don't have to have a reason or a special tune.  Life is a dance and don't hold back.  Think of the joy that is there for you.  Holding back because you think someone might not approve is just silly.  Legs are ther for a reason.  Use them.  Arms can caress and guide and hold.  Trust them.  Dance and laugh.  My God.  What is life all about it not to dance the dance that is put before you.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Today is our 21 anniversay.  "For better or worse."  At times I thought this was "worse", but how can it be?  We laugh, tease each other, make fun of our weaknesses in a loving and knowing way, go to the top of our local hiking mountain together (electric wheelchairs can go almost anywhere) and do almost everything that other people do.  We sometimes forget that walking and self maintenence are normal.  And, when we act as though it is no big deal, people around us seem to act the same. 

It is a big deal.  It's a huge deal.  But marriage is an amazing bond that we have been blessed with.  We care for each other so deeply that we both give.  I give sometimes to exhaustion, but what I receive restores me, gives me courage and makes me a stonger better person. 

Happy Anniversary to us.  No fine and fancy dinner and champagne, no exchange of lovely ribbon tied gifts, no steak and lobster.  Just  laughter and knowing.  Sharing and knowing.  Changing and knowing.  The best and worst of things with the best shining bright and making us realize that we have been given the gift of love. 

Monday, February 8, 2010

I'm not sure I've ever doubted the existance of God. It's just waiting that I doubt.  Waiting does not always bring the dream.  Once upon a time we dreamed big dreams.  We were high on the life of richness and high on the competency of capacity.  Work hard, mix it well with good deeds, kindness to others and a cross you drag up the very hill you eventually lose to a trustee sale, and all will come out roses and joy.  Doesn't work like that.  Just doesn't.  No one worked harder or more honest.  No one was more good to the people involved.  No one.  But God doesn't mess with stuff like that.  God is God.  God isn't really impressed with the stuff we do.  God just wants us to love him. 

We do and we did, but all the stuff we aligned ourself with is now memories and ashes.  The big house on the hill that would make us millionaires, the 30 homes that we would build with streets named after our grandchildren, the home we've lived in for 20 years, all memories and ashes.  Falling off a ladder can create a new reality.

And now our much beloved caregiver is struggling with the big C.  Cancer?  Where?  Let's test.  Not again!  Shit!  Movie night will come soon and we can forget just for an evening that we are human and will succumb to all the stuff that we humans do.  That's why I still believe in God.  Now, I see in a mirror dimly, but then, I will know.  I will know the truth that is reserved for those who wait.  The wait is not so bad. 

Sunday, January 31, 2010

Imagine not being able to move.  Try.  See how long you can stand it before you scratch your nose or rub your eye, brush back your hair, twitch your fingers or cross your legs.  Imagine you've been like that for 9 months plus a random week.  Imagine that there is one person that does everything for you.  Collects your urine, flosses your teeth, changes your clothes and sheets, moves you from bed to commode to chair to other chair, drives you to the doctor or therapy, pushes your chair, offers liquid and food as your need or desire demands and adjusts the television to the show you may or may not want.  Imagine.  Now imagine you are that other person. 

Very much in love, very willing and wanting to serve and please the one who has made your life full and rich and exceptional.  Strong and able.  Doing for self and other self at the same time wears and takes away from one or the other.  Trapped in a box.  In the box with him.  We both want out, but want the other to be free of the box so desparately. 

How?  There is no way.  It is what it is.  The box is a room with a TV and a hospital bed and way too many wheelchairs and no curtains, because she tore them down in a desparate attempt to redecorate.  Making a Victorian music room into a hospital bedroom takes special skills. 

He wants so desparately to walk.  Everyone is excited about his new electric wheelchair except him because it is a physical statement that he just might need it his whole life.  What a shitty deal.  This man, who was the jungle fighter for his junior high math students, who got them excited to explore mathematics by telling them they were about the learn the "language of the Gods," this man who built homes for a living and porches to please his wife, this man now lay immobile awaiting the whim of the one who serves.  What a cruel joke.