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Sunday, July 17, 2016

Summertime, LB and Baseball

Friday July 15, found my Lovely Bride and me with our BFFs Jim and Flo (no, not the insurance lady Flo) five rows behind home plate.  Being a beautiful Summer evening with mild temperatures, and gentle on-shore breezes it was a perfect night for baseball.
As we relaxed (as much as one can in hard plastic seats) heckling opposing batters and pitchers, my thoughts drifted back to exactly one year ago...

You see, it had been 5 days since LB’s heart attack. The circumstances were bleak. Since we are talkin’ baseball, one could say she was in the bottom of the 9th, down by one run, 2 outs with a 3-2 count.  LB was in a very, very serious state.

The “pop” of a fastball connecting with the catcher’s mitt brought me back to the present. Apparently, the majority of fans disagreed with the ump’s call, judging from the chorus of cat-calls and boos. I glanced at my watch; 7:50 P.M.

My thoughts immediately whisked me back to a cramped “Family Consultation Room” at our local hospital which was within eyesight of the ballpark. 

 There, seated about the little room were our two daughters, one of our sons-in-laws, BFF Flo, and our son and daughter-in-law on speaker phone.
We were meeting “Dr. Idiot”, the half-baked (or half something else, your choice) neurologist for a “where do we go next” chat.

My recollections and notes from that day indicate that LB was wakeful and responsive in the morning. I don’t recall just how she was responding; only that she was. We anxiously awaited the report and pronouncement based upon his earlier evaluation.

This particular doctor has the warmth, charm, and charisma of a deceased carp washed up on Lake Erie’s shore.  With that in mind, the reader will have a much better grasp and feel for the ensuing conversation.
I could go into details about LB’s condition at that time. I could go into minute details regarding her treatments up to this point. But, I won’t; primarily due to None-Ya Regulations and protocols. Suffice it to say she was in the bottom of the 9th, down by one run, 2 outs with a 3-2 count and needed a walk or a safe hit.

Calls of “Heads Up!” filled my ears as a foul ball caromed off the railings of a loge.  Things settled down in the seats. I asked LB if she wanted anything, and we discussed the game. We were both somewhat dismayed by the opponents 2 run homer. It was painfully apparent our starting pitcher had quickly gotten into trouble. With no action in the bullpen; it was going to be a long start. In fact, the poor kid gave up 6 runs in 3 innings.

There we were, listening as this bespectacled slight man explained the extent of the neurological injury and damage she had sustained.  Questions were asked, text book answers given-all to our utter dis-satisfaction.  He rather rudely explained how there had been no appreciable progress and she had failed the apnea test for the second time.

Dr. Idiot discussed a “life” spend in very long-term, very intensive extended care facilities; being kept alive by machines, and fed through gastric tubes. A life with no response or very minimal interaction was facing us.
As softly as he could deliver it the message was clear- we need to strongly consider ending life support.

Fortunately, our daughter Shannon had spent a great many hours researching studies involving other patients in similar situations as LB. While the evidence was not numerically large, statistically it as very compelling. People who were given a couple more days to recover prior to any drastic measures being taken had a very high survival and recover rate.

He reinforced his position by stating there is no possibility of LB ever recovering to independent neurological function.

While we were at odds with one another, I told the man no decisions would be made until after the weekend. That was on Wednesday evening…

A commotion at the plate drew my attention. Our catcher took a foul tip to his knee, above the shin guard. All eyes were upon the young man curled in the red dirt, the trainer crouched above him as members of both teams looked on.  The announcers had even stopped their constant chatter. After several minutes, he was helped to his feet, and limped toward the dugout to the applause of the crowd.

On Thursday the 16th, another apnea test was performed. I was by LB’s side coaching her to breath in, breath out, in-out; after three inhalations she was on her own. No ventilator machine! She had a man on base!

Later that evening, her very good, competent cardiologist performed a very successful heart catheterization. She had an RBI triple; the score was now tied!

Friday the 17th, after more than 24 hours without needing the ventilator, the tube was removed. After 7 days, she could open and close her mouth, speak a few words, smile and laugh.  It was shortly after that when I leaned over her bed, stroked LB’s hair and said “I love you.” A whispered “I love you.” brought more joy to me than words can ever express.

The Captains dropped their 9th in a row.
LB continues her winning streak.

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Dim Bulb

The other day a light bulb burned out. Oh I know this is hardly momentous or worthy of note. During the course of my life, I have had many bulbs burn out- physical, intellectual, metaphorical. The event of a bulb burning out is as exciting as…well… a light bulb burning out. 

What was somewhat eye-opening, however, was the quest for a new bulb,

See, the bulb which died was an incandescent type. The type Tom Edison perfected, with a tungsten filament, a blown glass top, and threaded metal base for the appropriate socket. If I am not mistaken, the bulb was part of a four-pack, procured at the local Wally Mega-Store. The pack may have cost about 3 bucks. I can’t say definitively; it was several years ago.

Seeing the decedent was the last of the four-pack, I set off in naivety to replace the bulb with another of its kin. Surprise, surprise, surprise.

Wally didn’t have any similar bulbs on his shelves, nor did the handy (not really a) Dollar Store. Visits to the 2 home centers favored by NASCAR car drivers yielded the same empty handed results.

In a last ditch effort, I popped into the local Mom & Pop hardware store. Certain my hunt was over, I wended my way to the light bulb aisle. And, there on the shelf was a large, empty space. No where could I find a good old-fashioned light bulb! They had passed away. I had not even seen the obituary.

From what I can gather, in a well-meaning, but ham-handed attempt to save the world as we know it, our over-reaching, “the public is too dumb to manage their own lives” Government…  I mean, the imminently wise, well intentioned kind folks who oversee our every move, have determined that Tom’s time-less design is evil and must go.

Rather, we must use Compact Fluorescent Bulbs, complete with little bits of ground water and soil contaminating mercury.  And, we get to pay about 5 times as much.

“But they cost less to use”; I can hear the whiny little voices.
So… I can look forward to First Energy sending me a big refund check for over-payments I have made. Sure, and it will be delivered by a flying pig.

“But they last so much longer”; continues the mantra.
Well, lets look at that. One said “expected service life 22.8 years”
That is a better than even chance the danged thing will out-live me! What am I supposed to do, list the light bulbs in my will?
“To my son, I do hereby bequeath the light bulb in the TV room lamp. To my daughter, I leave the bulb in the laundry room. To the pain in the rear neighbor whose car alarm goes off at 2A.M., I leave the bulb in the upstairs hallway, which should crap out in 6 months. Let him find an EPA acceptable disposal site for the stupid thing!”

Have you tried to figure out what size bulb you need? In the old days, one simply got a bulb of the desired wattage, 25, 40, 60, 75 and so on. Now you have to determine how many “lumens” are desired.

I realize a lumen is a measure of light, but how does that correspond to watts?

If the packs were labeled as “bright room”, “sort of bright room”, “mood lighting”, and “candle in a coal mine”, you would have some idea as to what you are getting. As it stands, one is taking a stab in the dark.

I took my $7 light bulb home, and ceremoniously placed it in the eagerly awaiting lamp. With a heavy sigh, I switched it on.

With a shake of my head, I was grieved thinking of our Founding Fathers. I am quite certain they had no intentions of a government which leaned so heavily upon its citizens.
Certainly, they never envisioned a government mandating how we illuminate the dark.

I wonder… is Miss Liberty’s torch, casting the Light of Freedom to all….acceptable to the micro-managers?

I have to admit, a part of me hopes it isn’t.

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Back---I hope

This evening, I undertook something which had been long set aside.
As my Lovely Bride lies dozing in the other room, the evening tasks have either been completed or put off until tomorrow, I unscrewed the cap of my new fountain pen and----commenced to write.

For too long I had avoided this once self imposed noble obligation. I told myself I was too busy ( I am), I was too emotionally drained (I was), and I was too exhausted ( I am). In reality, I was afraid of what I may discover about myself. And I still am---somewhat.

Which brings me to here and now, gripping a pen while my arm throbs with pain- and trying to make sense of the past eight months, as well as indeterminate future.
Wait…”arm throbs with pain”. What??

I could go on about how three weeks ago I had fallen victim to a very carefully laid canine booby trap. I could tell you how Ike had cunningly, skillfully hidden a chew-toy under the corner of his blanket at the exact time I would be passing from the kitchen to the living room. I could bring you to the edge of your seat describing the sensation of landing fully on my side; complete with swirling birdies, stars, and flashing lights in my head. I don’t want to bore you with the comical trip to urgent care and the final diagnosis of a sprained right elbow and shoulder, torn ligaments at the shoulder, and a chip off the femur where it joins with the pelvis. I could go on about the shoulder and elbow injuries causing pain when my arm in one position too long; such as when writing or using the keyboard. I could go into all that—but why bother?

Rather, I have been thinking of the great things which have happened, and continue to occur. Due to HIPPA regulations and NunYa* Rules (which trump HIPPA), I won’t go into details about LB’s sudden illness and the long road back we have traveled together.

Frequently, the word “miracle” is bandied about for all matter of things. Such as “I was hoping for a close parking spot, and a miracle occurred. There was one!” or “I didn’t study for the calculus test, and was praying for a miracle. God sent a thunder storm which caused a loss of power and the test was postponed.”

However, when LB’s cardiologist, her primary care doctor, nearly all the Cardiac ICU nurses, her physical therapists all say she is “a miracle”, who am I to argue?

Part of the on-going miracle was her returning to our home in early January. The on-going miracle is her remarkable physical progress; from being totally supine in bed, to a wheelchair, a walker, and now a cane. For the time being; she is determined to be free of this as well.

A miracle is her speech; from a very limited vocabulary in August, to being fully conversant, not being monotone or halting while speaking.  The little things, such as there being no damage to her heart muscle after a very, very devastating heart attack. The fact there is no damage to her optic nerves; something our eye doctor affirmed in virtually unheard of following severe brain injuries.

Are all things fine and wonderful?  She is very susceptible to viruses and bacteria until her immune system regains its former robust state.  There are little things; the odd memory popping up out of context of time and place, the sometime involuntary hand movements, the (most heart breaking to me) expression in her beautiful blue eyes of puzzlement; as though she is trying to fit the pieces together but can’t quite find them all yet.

I think of all the changes I have undergone. I am probably well on my way to a degree in Pharmacology, Social Work, and Physiology.  I have become the Monitor  and Dispenser of All Things Prescriptive. I also take on the role of Therapy Cheerleader and Coach (as conditions warrant). I also have the title of Medical Records and Billing/Payment Administrator.  When unable to find anyone else to do things, I am Dietitian, Food Service Staff, Laundry/Housekeeper, and Dog Wrangler. Come to think of it; I have yet to find anyone else to do these.  Hmmmm.

Oh yeah… I still have this crazy little thing called “a job”.

Yet, I have learned that so many things once so utterly important are actually insignificant. I have learned the intangibles of Life far surpass the tangibles we focus upon. I have learned to not take too many things seriously; for it can all change in a moment.

I think of how LB and I will be seeing our 43rd Anniversary on the 10th---and how thankful I am to be coming back to our home after dinner; and not leaving her at a facility. Or worse, having to  place flowers on a grave.

And I think of how 8 months is about 3% of our time together so far; a pretty puny amount. Suddenly, eight months doesn’t seem that long. As I told our Pastor the other day; “This is not permanent, it is not eternal.”
So, this is enough for now.

Besides my arm is becoming very bothersome.

P.S. Please keep LB in your prayers. Thank you very much. JEH

*NunYa---“Nun Ya” Business.

Monday, November 9, 2015

Sunday Morning Laundromat

Johnny Cash had a hit single, enumerating his discoveries while walking down a Sunday morning sidewalk after a Saturday night of revelry. The juxtaposition between the wholesomeness of small town Sundays and the physical, emotional, and spiritual pangs of small town Saturday night bars are palpable.

This is not that sort of story…

Sitting in a Laundromat at a time on Sunday morning when I should have been sitting in church. I pay dis-interested attention to the parade of other patrons lugging their plastic baskets or over-sized trash bags crammed nearly to bursting through the single door.

The d├ęcor is a very accurate representation of 1960’s vintage government office building. Neutral colored walls devoid of any type of decoration to stimulate any visual or mental activity are complemented by 7 cold gray plastic chairs which have been endorsed  by the American Chiropractic Association;  they are guaranteed to throw out anyone’s back thus generating  business for the local bone-cracker.

Oh, being in a Laundromat isn’t so odd…it was a weekly ritual my first 3 years of college.  Even after marrying my Lovely Bride, we still schlepped clothes, soap, and babies off to the village’s one of 2 do-it-yourself facilities.

And, over the course of Life from time to time, when a machine would take a dive and then give up the ghost, off we would go; over loaded baskets in the trunk of the car and inevitably realizing after arriving at the Laundromat the detergent was right where we left it by the front door.

So, it is not the fact our Whirlpool has opted to not spin, nor the fact the fix-it-guy has a somewhat casual approach toward customer service which is most disconcerting- it is being a sixty-something married bachelor. Doing laundry on a Sunday morning when I should be in my regular spot in the congregation.

I can’t take credit for the phrase “married bachelor”- in fact it was uttered by the fix-it-guy during his “yup-it’s-the-clutch-I-don’t-have-the-part-have-to-wait-till-Monday”s visit yesterday. I reluctantly accepted the truth of his words.

Oh, not the Dan Akroyd/Steve Martin “Wild and Crazy Guys” type of bachelor. Nor the Lake Wobegon Norwegian bachelor farmer social misfit immortalized by Garrison Keillor either.

I ticked through the list of notable bachelors in my mind.

I am neither the Felix Unger overly OCD neat-freak, nor the Oscar Madison quintessential slob.

Definitely not the Jim Rockford, sports-car driving type. Most people are put off by Bess, my 18 year old Jeep. She is the antithesis of a four wheeled chick-magnet. She is more of a vehicular chick repellent, actually.

I am most definitely not the sophisticated man-about-town, lady on each arm type of bachelor.

No, I am nothing like any of the above.

I am…well… me. Married to LB, patiently and prayerfully awaiting her recovery and return to our home.

Tomorrow, the 10th   it will be four months to the day that LB’s, my and our entire family’s lives were inexorably altered.  As of yet-with dramatic physical and neurological progress on LB’s part aside-our lives are still altered; with no end-date forecast.

All of which explains why I am sitting in this particular place at this particular time. With work, caring for dogs and visiting LB, Saturday and Sunday are the only times I can cram five days of household duties into two.

So, I am up very early, cleaning, sweeping, watering plants, feeding the backyard birds, grocery shopping, et cetera, et cetera, et cetera…

Usually, while I am performing the above, the washer and dryer happily chug along, performing their tasks. Alas, for the past 10 or so days now they have sat idle. Oh sure, the washer fills, agitates, drains and repeats- it simply does not spin the water out.

Opening the lid reveals a sodden intermingled mass, not the nicely damp centrifugal force arrayed items; eagerly awaiting a spin in the dryer. I am thereby faced with some options:
11)  Wringing the wet items out by hand, hoping the majority of water actually makes it to the sump,
22)   Loosely drape the dripping things over step ladders and odds and ends of stuff, allowing the water to run willy-nilly on the laundry room floor, in the hopes the majority actually makes it to the sump,
33)     Say “forget it”, toss the drenched, dripping pile en mass  inside the dryer, set that sucker on Turbo Dry, and hope for the best.

None of the above is a truly satisfactory solution. I have tried them all.  All more than once.  The only real solution, aside from popping for a new machine, was to call the fix-it guy.

We have used him for close to 20 years now. He used to be more responsive, willing to stop at night on his way home from his last appointment. Now… he has slowed down more than just a bit. His primary concern after his last appointment now seems to be getting home to dinner.

When once all it took was one phone message and he would be at the door, it now takes a couple messages, one or two conversations, re-hashing the ills of the World and all who are in it, and then hoping he doesn’t forget we even talked. 

It is really sad to see how far down the hill the poor guy has slid. Sure glad none of that has happened to me.

So, here I am….in the Laundromat, shaking my head in amazement that it now takes as much money to start one machine as would have washed and dried 2 full loads when I was in college all the while trying to ignore the gentle guidance of a mother to her child;”What the *&^% are you doing?!  You can’t fit in the washing machine!”

With a wistful smile on my face, I think:

I sure hope the fix-it guy can find the part. And he remembers to show up.

Saturday, October 24, 2015

So long, Old Sharp

I knew it was a question of “when”; the inevitable “if” being a foregone conclusion. Still, one is never fully prepared when the news is received.

With a series of pops, snaps, buzzes, sparks, flashes, flames and smoke; our trusty microwave announced it demise the other day. As disturbing as this was, I was most profoundly impacted with the collateral loss of my roast beef and potatoes innocently expecting a gentle thermal increase.

While scraping the ash and debris speckled dinner into the trash, I tried to recall when we obtained this particular microwave. In all honesty, it was probably during Clinton’s first term. Face it, a microwave has become a purely utilitarian device. No longer a kitchen luxury, and as awe inspiring as a bowl of instant oatmeal they are just---well--- there.

My thoughts wandered over the years, as I retrieved a pan and lid, placed a new batch of roast beef and potatoes in it to warm. A twist of a knob, a “foomp” of gas igniting; and my meal was under way. Old school, yes.

I remembered that back in the 1960’s they were called “Radar Ranges” What a wonderful name! It bespoke of the times; the Cold War was raging, the Space Race was full on. Planes were flying faster, higher, and farther. Technology was emerging, and all was good; or so we thought. It just sounded so with-it, so cool, as if the Great American Marketing Machine were proclaiming “HA! Take that, Godless Commies! We are so advanced we COOK with radar!”

So it was that one evening, my Dad came home more excited than a kid on Christmas Eve.  He had heard a new restaurant was opening the next town over—AND---they cooked everything with RADAR!

The following Friday, we piled into the Pontiac, and headed west. I can’t recall the name of the place, or even the location. I was perhaps 11, and my dinner was going to be cooked by the same stuff seeking out Russian bombers trying to sneak across Canada!

I do recall waiting in line, the atmosphere fairly abuzz, no pun intended. Had we been paying attention to the countenances of the exiting diners, we may have been somewhat less enthusiastic.

Finally, we were seated. A review of the fairly simple menu, orders placed, and we eagerly waited what The Future would hold. Literally and figuratively; after all, we were sampling the New Day of cooking! A culinary revolution would soon be placed beneath our very noses!

After what seemed half an eternity, with all the fanfare usually assigned to the hanging up of a used dish-rag; dinner was served.

As it turned out, the presentation was apropos for the culinary delights. Our individual plates all held variations upon the theme of monochromatic gray. Be it beef, chicken, potato, or beans; all looked blandly, un-appetizingly, similar. On the positive side it was hot, I do remember that.

I also recall the placed folded about six months later.

The Seventies ushered in an era of God only knows what. The upstart Radar Range was now being subtly referred to as a “micro-wave”. 

This was more fitting to the times; because all we were saying is give Peace a chance. Microwave was much more palatable. Rather than huge, Russkie bomber hunting radar waves cooking one’s food; the much more benign “microwave” worked all the wonders.

A little, bitty, nice friendly wave; just like the ones found on a calm, relaxing day at the beach. Only they are in your kitchen, for a mere grand.

But, like all technological wonders, the price began to drop. Do you remember when a basic desktop calculator was about a hundred bucks?

Being the practical family we are (remember, LB and I had 4 children) we didn’t jump on that bandwagon any time soon. We finally broke down and got our first one in the late seventies or early eighties. The thing broke a couple of times, and we had it repaired. The last time it quit, we discovered it was cheaper to replace it. So we did.

That one also died, and was replaced. With six people in family, that bad boy got a real work-out. It also died and was replaced by a Super-Duper sale one. It was too small, too under-powered, and in general not well received.

I don’t know what became of that one only that the lately departed had arrived. And now… it has been ceremoniously committed to the dumpster at the end of the drive.

I rather like not having the thing there. I don’t need a kitchen appliance with more complex controls and computing power than John Glenn’s spacecraft used, lurking over my shoulder.  We didn’t really cook in the thing. We don’t consume micro-wave popcorn. We have a stove, we have pots and pans.

Hmm…maybe we can start a new Foodie Trend---RETRO WARMING!

Sunday, October 11, 2015

Voices in the Dark

The other night, I overheard the most remarkable discussion. As utterly ridiculous as it may sound, I could have sworn I heard Ike and Mimi having a conversation. Oh, I know it sounds completely absurd, and folks will speculate I had been nipping at Grandpa’s cough syrup, but I know what I heard.

In the small hours of the morning, while tucked away cozily in bed, Mimi snoring by my side, I heard a wee little voice: “Mimi! Mimi! You awake?” coming from downstairs. “Naww…” I thought while blinking my sleep heavy eyes.

“I am now.” I heard a voice beside me say. “What is it? A burglar?”

“No, nothing that cool. Boy, would I run him off!”

“Sure, Junior. You just keep thinking like that.” She emitted a big yawn, then “Good night, Ike.”

“No wait! I saw something big eating LB’s hostas.”

“Yes. They are known as “White-tailed deer”. The Latin name is Odocoileus Virginianus. They are so named because the early settlers, at least the ones who bothered to record such arcane things, encountered them in the Virginia Colony.”


“They are a member of the ungulate genus, along with moose, caribou, horses, camels, and other such hoofed mammals.”

“Who’s late?”

“No one is late, you Bil-Jac head! Un-gu-late… a hoofed mammal!”

“Oh, cool.”

By now, I was upright in bed, frantically mashing buttons on my phone. I was amazed! A dog which I had always assumed had the IQ of a banana was absolutely right!

“Hey, Mimi?”

“What Ike?” I detected a slight tone of annoyance in her voice now.

“How did you learn all this stuff?”

“Well, after 12 years of reading the guy who is married to LB’s  Outdoor Life, Sports Afield, Field and Stream magazines, some things sunk in, I guess.”

“Ahhhh, I see. Thanks, Meem.”

“No problem, Little Buddy. Good night.”

Silence settled over the house for a short period. Then….

“Mimi…you awake?”

“Yes, Ike, I am awake” she replied in an icy tone.

“Why don’t they call those deer “Whatever you said Ohionus”?

“At that period of our nation’s history, Ohio didn’t exist. It was part of the continent which was disputed between France and England. Settlement was highly discouraged, not only for political reasons, but also safety.”

“Safety? Why? Were there monsters?”

“No, no monsters that were known. The indigenous peoples of the area had, for the most part, a decidedly less than receptive view of illegal immigration than their counter-parts to the East and Northeast. “

“Oh. Hey, are there many deer around?”

“Oh my, yes! The white-tail subspecies we have here is the most widely naturally distributed large mammal in North America. It is by far the most common large mammal in the State. In the late 1960’s there were about 17,000 deer in all of Ohio. Today, there are estimated to be 700,000 plus.”

“Wow! I think about half of them visit LB’s garden.”

“So, don’t worry, Little Buddy, they won’t harm you. Unless, of course, you irritate a buck during mating season, then all bets are off.

“Okay, thanks, Mimi. I feel better. Good night.”

“Good night, pal.”

I snuggled under the blankets, my mind trying to decipher what had just transpired. I gave the pillow a couple of adjustment thumps. Sleep was gently overtaking me, when I heard it…

“Mimi! Mimi! What is this thing!?”

“What now, Ike?” she replied rather snappishly.

“This thing is really weird! It has a white head, with a sort of long snout and a kind of a pig nose. The ears look like little pieces of black leather. It has this really kind of scruffy gray fur, and it looks like little tiny hands for feet. And, the tail! It has no hair at all!”

“Ahhhh, yes. You have just met a member of Didelphis virgininana…or the Virginia opossum, most often referred to simply as “’possum”.  Did you know they are marsupials?”

“Really? Wow! No I didn’t. Uh… what is a marsupial?”

“A mammal with an external pouch in which it carries yet unborn babies while they mature to their birth size. A kangaroo is a marsupial.”

“Wow! Pretty strange, huh?”

“Actually, they are fascinating little creatures, Let me explain….”

At that point, I pulled the pillow over my head as Mimi’s Biology lecture droned on.

Before I fell asleep, I made a mental note to lock up my outdoor magazines.

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Joy and Tears

Do you believe there can be humor and joy amidst the tears?

I know, I know… it is a dichotomous thought. So totally ludicrous, the height of incongruity;  it is one that is hardly worth even considering.

Yet, we have found humor, and laughter, joy, and peace amidst the tears, the uncertainty, and the emotional vacuum which has drained us all.

At one point, while LB was in a very serious state; barely able to speak, and sleeping nearly around the clock, one of our granddaughters and I were visiting her. She was lying mostly motionless, drifting in and out of sleep as I read the new stack of cards she had received. We noticed her toes wiggling. Just for the sake of asking a totally stupid question, I said “Is there a baby Bulldog down by your feet?” With her eyes still closed, not hesitating a moment, she replied clear as ever; “Believe it or not…there is!” Our beautiful grand-daughter paused from her task of taping the cards to the cabinet and wall; we stared at one another, and burst out laughing. As we were reveling in this bit of humor, LB chuckled, knowing she had made a joke which was well appreciated.

There were those moments when she was transitioning to regular food; traversing the path of pureed and then “mechanically softened” (read; ground to a near mush), and finally to a full regular diet that will remain with me for the remainder of my life. There were times I would make an effort to be with her at meals, not only to keep her company, but to encourage her to eat.  One evening, while she was laboring her way through God only knows what it was, she set her fork down after about 4 bites. We talked for a few moments, then I encouraged her to have some more. She looked at me with those beautiful blue eyes, the most serious of expressions on her face and informed me; “I am finished. This tastes like crap. I refuse to eat any more crap.”  The culinary wonders of ketchup were once again proven. A few squirts and the meal became palatable, to a degree.

As she has become more active, she has perfected getting around the rehabilitation center by scooting her feet while seated in her wheel-chair. This is a temporary form of locomotion; as her legs are becoming stronger. However, she soon discovered that by hanging out by the front door, she could slip out when people were entering or exiting. The concern arose that she really shouldn’t be outdoors alone. The yard/parking area slope gently downward and it would take nothing for her to go rolling off. The possible end results are not terribly good; so, it is best for someone to be with her.

However, given her sweet personality, and ability to befriend people the decision was made to put an alarm on her chair. All of which worked. For awhile.

I knew it was a merely a matter of “when” and not “if”, but LB figured out she could switch from her chair to a non-monitored chair, and VOILA!—the great outdoors are hers to conquer. She was discovered the other evening, trying to convince the driver of a transport ambulance to drop her off at the mall!

After the circumstances of what happened, and all the dust settled we got a good chuckle out of that one. The nursing staff was giggling away as they put the guard on her ankle. It’s okay, though; for now she calls it a lock-box, and thinks one of our daughters made it for her.

She has a group of lady friends. They have meals together, they play cards together, the go to the music programs and such, they cruise the halls together. I call them “Cindy and her posse”. Some staff members think she is forming a coalition of constituents and will run to be elected President of the Resident’s Committee. Or the Big Cheese of the place.

During the seeming never-ending sameness of our days for the moment, these little flashes of humor burst upon the scene with an unexpected brilliance and wonder not unlike a fireworks display against the inky backdrop of a summer night sky.

But, the one thing which never fails to bring the biggest smile to my face, and lightens my burden the most is simply holding her hand; me walking, her rolling along. Just being together, hearing the musical sound of her voice, seeing the wonder of the Inner LB through her eyes.

Then recalling just how close we came to having to relinquish her to the One who created this wonderful person.

That is the greatest Joy of all.