Friday, November 30, 2007


It seems recently that the definition of a hero has changed. At one time is was a person who sacrificed much to help others - regardless of the risk. Jump in the water to save someone from drowning, thor yourself on a grenade to save your friends, rush into a burning building, etc. Well, I guess you get the meaning. To a young boy his Dad is a hero. To a sick person, the doctor who makes him feel human again. I know a hero, actually a person whose life we could emulate and be a better person for it. She is my Sister. When my Dad died ofcancer in 1969, my Sister and her husband opened her home and invited Mom to live with them and their three kids. The move required remodeling the house so that Mom could have a place of her own, not just a bedroom. Vacations were planned with Mom's interests in mind. At first she lived in the basement that us kids finished for her. Then we remodeled the upstairs part of the house so that she had the entire area to herself.. That arrangement worked well for Mom but I am sure it was a disruption for Sister and her family. But she and her family always made Mom feel like she belong - she was family. Eventually when Mom was ready, she moved out on her own - the first time since she was born! But then, about 4 years ago, Mom's health started to fail. Severe back problems and macular degeneration. Mom tried to fight off the inevitible as long as possible but eventually she could no longer live alone and would not burden my Sister. For the past three years she has lived in a retirement home (aka nursing home). Throughout it all my sister has been her b est friend, confident, care provider and advocate for better care. Even though she was still working full time as a nurse, she managed to visit Mom three days a week and do her laundry for her, arrange for hair appointments, shopped for her and made sure th staff treated her with the respect and dignity. Now retired, (this year), Sister continues to be Mom's best friend. If Webster's dictionary were to re=define the word "daughter" it would simply be defined as "Pat". For her love and caring for Mom, Pat will always be my hero.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Happy Days

My Daughter and Grandosn will not be here until Wednesday bvut already the house is a beehive of activity. We removed the youth size bed from the spare bedroom and put up a crib for the Grandson (he is 2 - 1/2). We had actualy bought the crib at a garage sale this past summer for $10. The crib linens and mattress were a bit more than that but what good is a crib without them? Anway the room now (again) looks like a toddler's room. All summer long I have been buying toys at garage sales and stockpiling them: A really big Tonka dump Truck, a bigger Tonka Ccement mixer, a Tonka Car, several remote vehicles (he is too young for those) and several smaller trucks. One or two of them we will give to him for Christmas (we will celebrate early this year as he and his Mom will be leaving on the 14th). Spome of the toys needed to be repainted a bit but that is the fun part. I have hid the trucks in different parts of the house so that he can find when he walks around: Under the dinning room chairs, under tables, betweeen the couch and end tables and some places I haven't thought about - yet. My wife has been busy cleaning for the past week. Mostly dusting. The tree will go up tomorrow but we will not decorate until Daughter and Grandson arrive. He is at the age where decorating is still a fun thing to do. He has already helped his Mommy decorate their tree in Florida so this will be like the frosting on the cake- two trees! Plus he will probably help decorate the tree at his other Grandparents home in Florida. When the two of them visit we don't really make any plans. Daughter likes to connect with old friends and we are just happy to have the both of them here. Maybe go to a few of Daughter's favorite barbecue places, drive around to check out the lights and homes that are decorated and - most important: let him play in the leafs! I purposely did not rake this year (yet) for that reason. Now there is a really big pile against the fence that will be perfect to play in. That is something his Mommy loved to do when we raised her in Minnesota. All in all we hope to have a really good time. Just catching up and watching Grandson grow.

Monday, November 12, 2007


It's amazing how much babies can change your life. For example, I have never been afraid of dying. After all it is something we will all do eventually. That is not to say that I look forward to it, just that I have never feared it. I really believe that when I die, it is over. No heading toward the light, no higher reward, etc. Just nothing. But since April 21, 2005, I have a great fear of dying. That is the day my grandson was born. When my daughter announced at age 39 that she was expecting I was glad for her but it really didn't register how much the birth of her some would really mean to me. and how it would affect my life. He was born with a birth defect that makes him extremely susceptible to infections. Two hours after he was born he was life flighted to Children's Mercy Hospital in Miamai where he stayed for the next two months. His Mother was not allowed on the flight since the birth was a bit difficult (she is fine now). But her and my wife followed two days later. I followed in about 10 days. For the next 60 days, the three of us spent our time in the hospital watching Ki struggle to live. Wathing him everyday and the life support monitors was almost more than I could stand. His Dad visited him one weekend, claiming that he had to work to bring in money. The day we finally drove Ki home from the hospital was a realy happy occassion. The next day, knowing Ki was where he should be, my wife and I left for our home in the Kansas City Area. Several hours after we left, Ki was back in the hospital with an infection. Unfortunately, it was just the first of many visits to the hospital, both in his home town and in Miami. Throughout all of this, Ki was always able to smile - smile with tubes in his hands, and feet, with infections raging trhough his tiny system. Now two and a half years later he still struggles but otherwise is a typical little boy. Every time I hear him say: "Look Grampa, watch me", my heart just bursts with happiness. But back to death. Now I look at the calendar and think: "I'm 66, Ki is 30 months so I"ll be in my 80's when he graduates from high school". If I make it that long. Will I be there when he starts greade school? High School? Graduation? Marriage? Will I even be in good enough health to help him play with his wagons, bikes,, models, etc? Most of that I will most likely miss. And I miss that growing experience with him already. So, yes, I am afraid of dying.

Friday, November 09, 2007


The folloiwng was written by Jason Whitlock, a journalist for the Kansas City Star. It pretty much sums up one of the problems in this country: There used to be a time when people stood uyp for what was right - regardless of the consequences. If standing up for what was right meant losing a job, people lost their jobs. If standing up for what was right meant going to jail, people went to jail. We live in a different time. We live in an area of cowardice, where people only stand for what's right when there are no consequences.