November 25, 2007

Missing in Action


Has it really been almost two weeks since I last posted something?

Activity here at Rocket Jones will continue to be very light until further notice. Lots going on in real life.

I am *not* shutting this place down. In fact, I've got a redesign in mind, but it'll take a while to get to it.

When I first started this place - and then moved to Munuviana thanks to Pixy Misa - I had disposable time which has since evaporated. Liz was up and about, still working, and we had kids at home to help with the daily stuff. Since then, Liz's condition has deteriorated to where her mobility is severely restricted and all of the kids have flown the nest (which is a very good thing). So my daily to-do list has gotten much longer.

My health has been a distraction as well. There was the thyroid thing and this week I go in to have a skin cancer removed. I was really pissed off at the dermatologist, because I don't care how common or well-behaved it may be, you don't drop the "c" word on someone that casually. Having been outrageously healthy my entire life, this last year has messed with my mind some. I've always been the one supporting the person with a medical problem, and now the focus is on me and I'm not handling *that* nearly as well.

Other hobbies have shuffled in the priority stack, as they tend to do. I have a large backlog of movies to watch and review. My guitar has been calling out to me to be picked up much more often. My cooking and baking has gotten better and more ambitious. Next spring begins yet another relandscaping of the backyard, now that the front yard is complete. Rocket is rockets.

And, believe it or not, I'm excited about an upcoming video game release. We haven't owned a console since the original Nintendo (bought way late after the prices came down). The last games I spent any real time playing on the PC were Starcraft and Myst, which were both many, many years ago. I've recently discovered that Starcraft II is due out next year, and I can't wait! Ten years after the original and with a major updating in the technology behind the game, I'm replaying the original now to get back into what little groove I had going.

So that's what's been up. I'll still be around, and probably commenting more at your places. I'll still be posting the occasional recipe and movie reviews, and I still post reviews over at Wildside Cinema (their completely redesigned website will be opening on December 15th).

I'm not pining for the fjords, I'm much too busy for that.

Posted by Ted at 09:00 AM | Comments (1)

July 23, 2007


Friends and long-time visitors know that my wife has fibromyalgia. She can no longer drive or work, and outside of our home she must use a wheelchair. Now there's a new fibromyalgia website with lots of information about the disease. It's worth a read, because with 6 million Americans suffering from fibromyalgia, chances are you know someone who's dealing with it.

Posted by Ted at 05:37 AM | Comments (217) | TrackBack

July 22, 2005

Feel that thump?

That was a huge weight falling from our shoulders. Liz heard from the cardiologist yesterday, and everything is absolutely normal. Everybody had already expected that, but it's great to hear it from the specialist. She's also been cleared to start back on her regular meds, and she's doing fine with her convalescence.

Thanks again to everyone who's sent email, left comments, and thunked good thoughts or sent prayers our way.

Posted by Ted at 06:13 AM | Comments (8) | TrackBack

July 02, 2005

Ok God, knock it off already

Rocket Jones has just undergone it's longest stretch of inactivity in its two year life. I've been... distracted... which is as good a word as any to describe my mind lately.

If you've been around for any length of time, you know that my wife has some rather severe medical problems (check the "seriously" and/or "boring stories" archives if you wanna know). While difficult, they're not life threatening, so we count our blessings and get on with life.

For the last couple of months, she's been seeing various specialists as they try to figure out the latest medical mystery. Each one has given us good news, in that a whole roster of very scary possibilities have been eliminated one by one. But each negative test result only ratcheted up the tension, because no one could point at something specific and say, "ah-Hah! Here's the problem!"

I've been a basket case, and I have the easy job, being the understanding and supportive husband. You can imagine the state of mind Liz has been living with.

On Tuesday I got a phone call from the Urgent Care clinic, letting me know that Liz was there with chest pains. By the time I'd gotten there, most of the lab work was complete and they knew for sure that it wasn't a heart attack. Diagnosis: stress and possible panic attack. No question as to what could be the underlying reason.

On Wednesday, we got the "ah-Hah!" moment we've been waiting for. It's not a brain tumor (thank God), but Liz will have to undergo some rather delicate surgery in the very near future. They'll be going up through the sinuses with their lasers and cameras, which is good because they won't have to drill holes in her skull. The bad part is that there is a remote possibility that she may lose her eyesight in the process. The surgery isn't all that uncommon, but there are definite risks because it's working near the finicky bits around the eyes.

Once it's done (and we're assuming it'll be successful), she'll have to stay on meds for the problem for life, and have annual checkups with the specialist.

We go on a long-overdue (and badly-needed) vacation week after next, and on the following Monday Liz goes in for her surgery.

Think good thoughts people, it couldn't hurt. Thanks.

Posted by Ted at 05:39 PM | Comments (17) | TrackBack

May 17, 2005

Boob Blogging

There's been quite a bit happening around the ol' household the last couple of weeks.

First up, my son is looking for his own place. He's been living at home for almost a year now after doing his hitch in the Navy, and I've decided that it's time for him to get out there and tackle the world on his own.

Yep, I threw him out.

He's looking at places to live nearer his work (he's got a pretty good job, but the commute from our house is a real bitch), and the plan is for him to be out by the end of the month. Call it tough love, but sometimes if you don't kick 'em out of the nest they never learn to fly.

Secondly, and even more exciting, is related to that odd little post about googling 36CC and 36HH. Our health insurance has approved a breast reduction for our oldest daughter, Robyn. She is, ah, over-endowed* shall we say, and has suffered from chronic back pain since the age of 14. Thanks to the foresight of our wonderful family doctor, it's been documented the entire time. Robyn is just shy of 21 years old now, and my health plan has agreed that physical therapy and other non-surgical methods have been ineffective, and that in the long run a reduction would be best for her health. I can blog this because she said it was ok, plus she's already called all her friends** and relatives to let them know. Yep, we're all excited and happy for her.

So my household shall soon be rid of three big boobs.

Oh look, I made a funny.

*At 36HH, she left Barbie in the dust long ago.

**So far my favorite reactions*** have come from some of her male friends, who suggest that she should wait awhile before going through with it, because "you might like them that big when you get older". That, my friends, is looking out for your fellow man.

***My second favorite reaction comes from some of her female friends, who freak out when they find out that dad is taking her to the hospital because mom can't get the day off of work.

Posted by Ted at 12:08 PM | Comments (5)

May 11, 2005

Sears Resolution

Sears is dead to me. After being bumped up the chain of command at least three times, the latest drone dealt with the pissed-off customer by sending a check. It wasn't for the full amount from our list of damages, but it was close.

It was a shut-them-the-hell-up check, because there was no phone call and no apology. I meant an apology for having to go through this mess in the first place. For all the people I wound up talking to about this situation, only two even bothered to say "I'm sorry", from the rest it was "prove that it's our fault". When I wasn't being patronized I was being treated like a liar and a thief.

Sears will be gone soon. Their corporate attitude has gone to hell and their customer service is a joke. You cannot stay in business with that mindset. I was a longtime customer, my workshop is full of Craftsman tools, my appliances were almost all purchased through Sears. If I needed paint, I'd wait for a sale at Sears.

Never again. Ever.

Posted by Ted at 05:51 AM | Comments (8)

November 11, 2004

Contemplating Suicide

Scary title, eh? I'm not personally thinking of committing suicide, but I have been thinking about what it is and what it means.

This line of thought was triggered (no pun intended) by someone I didn't even know, who recently took their own life for reasons unknown to me. That's most of the details I have, and I don't need to know more because it's none of my business, and I refuse to disrespect that individual simply to satisfy my morbid curiousity. They obviously had reasons of their own, but I'll never understand how someone can come up with that final equation.

If it's so bad that death seems like the only answer, then doesn't it make sense to believe that things can only get better?

Like probably everyone else, I've pondered suicide at one time or another. And like most people, it's been fleeting and never taken very seriously. More of a "what if?" kinda thought.

And I think that might be a key. I don't even pretend to know what's going through someone's head in that situation, but if you can think beyond the moment then you probably don't really want to do it. I've never been able to think of my own death as a final thing, there's always consequences and repurcussions to consider among those I'll leave behind. Dying is only final for the one who stops breathing. Everyone else still has to deal with it.

There's definitely an element of selfishness involved too. Simple rule: if you're gonna kill yourself, please be kind enough to leave something behind to explain why. It doesn't have to be a twenty page self-psychoanalysis, but that wouldn't be a bad thing. Don't leave friends and family staring at each other and asking "why?".

I think I'm a reasonable guy, and so there are many situations I can think of where suicide might be acceptable or even preferable. It doesn't even bother me to think that way, because not everyone thinks like me, or sees the world like I do. Still, I wish I could've been there to help in some way. Maybe just to listen or lend a shoulder to cry on. To try to point out some small sliver of silver lining they might not have thought of. To keep them from feeling so damned alone. To try to understand.

Posted by Ted at 08:46 AM | Comments (6)

July 16, 2004


For my friend and co-worker will be this afternoon. To be buried with full military honors (retired Air Force) at Quantico National Cemetary.

Posted by Ted at 06:54 AM | Comments (3)

July 15, 2004


I missed work Tuesday and Wednesday with a stomach bug, and when I got to the office this morning, an email was waiting, informing me that a close co-worker at my last project had passed away Saturday evening.

This friend was about my age, and found out about three months ago that he had an agressive form of cancer. The last time I talked to his wife, just before I started this new job (what, three weeks?), she said he was fighting hard and doing fine.

I've been distracted all day, and just got home a little while ago from the viewing. I'm not very good at dealing with these kinds of situations.

Posted by Ted at 07:53 PM | Comments (2)

May 24, 2004

1300 miles

Back. Tired. All good. Work tomorrow. Sleep...

Posted by Ted at 10:07 PM | Comments (2)

May 23, 2004

Family matters

Life happens, be back in a day or two.

Posted by Ted at 12:15 AM | Comments (5)

April 19, 2004

A little advice needed (updated)

Yesterday I was involved in a ‘situation’ in our neighborhood, and I’m not quite sure how to deal with it.

A little background to start (I don’t have all the details, but this is the gist of it): late one night a year or two ago, a dog was barking for an extended period of time. It turned out to be a pit bull owned by a neighbor’s boyfriend and it had “gotten loose” in the front yard. Apparently it went after a pizza-delivery guy, who then called the cops, and when the officer arrived, the dog went after the cop. Bang bang, dead dog.

Fast forward to last week. I get home from work and some bozo is walking the neighborhood with two pit bull pups running loose. They’re not far from full-grown. I called out to the guy and walked up to talk to him. Trying to get the point across about keeping the dogs leashed without being a prick about it, I told him about the cop shooting the loose dog. His response was “yeah, that was my dog.” So much for learning the lesson. Sheesh.

I did see him walking the dogs another day, and they were on leashes.

My front yard is enclosed by a picket fence, and I let my dogs out there to play. My dogs are territorial, and will sometimes bark at kids running by on the sidewalk or riding their bikes. Most of the neighborhood kids are used to it, and they get along fine.

Yesterday our dogs were out front and suddenly we heard a huge commotion going on. I ran upstairs to see what was going on, and those two pit bulls were running free again and were at the fence barking at my dogs, who were nose to nose with them yapping right back. Our younger dog came inside immediately when called, but Sam the old-timer held his ground.

I went out and picked him up, and suddenly I was face to face with one of the pit bulls trying to come over the fence at me. Not even thinking about it, I stood there and stared down the pup while holding my dog under one arm, away from the fence. The pup retreated and I took Sam inside.

In the meantime someone had run to get the owners girlfriend, who was trying to get the pups back to her yard. I was pretty pissed off, so I said something I figured would get her attention: “Next time, I’m calling the cops.” Her reply was something along the lines of “I didn’t let them out on purpose.” I absolutely believe her, but still, those dogs went after mine in their own yard, and one of them almost came over the fence at me. Couple that with boyfriend letting them run loose, and it’s two strikes. We have too many young kids in the neighborhood to risk strike three. I don’t blame the dogs, but the owner(s) haven’t shown me that they’re responsible enough to keep dogs with that kind of damage potential.

Later I realized just how close it had been. If that dog had really wanted to get me, that picket fence would have been no barrier at all.

I’m now keeping a bat near the door, and the wife and Mookie have been instructed in no uncertain terms that if they see those pups running free, they’re to call the cops, and to make sure they mention “pit bulls”.

What would you do? Am I overreacting?

Update: Upon further reflection, I've refined the "standing orders" for Liz and Mookie. If that situation happens again, they're to look out the window before opening the door. If our dogs are alone in our yard, they can open the door (with the stick ready) and call our dogs in. If things aren't too crazy, they can step out onto the front porch but have to hold the door open just in case. No way do they let that door close behind them because they have to have a way to retreat if needed. I made it clear that I'd rather lose our dogs than have the ladies hurt. Also, the stick is more for distraction than for clubbing. Give the dog something to go after and buy a few seconds while getting back inside.

We know we'll probably never need to do this, but just knowing ahead of time what to do makes it easier to deal with.

I also pointed out that this is another situation where having a pistol and knowing how to use it would be helpful.

Posted by Ted at 02:16 PM | Comments (15)

April 01, 2004


March 2004 will go down in the family history as one rotten month all around. Good riddance! Here's a partial rundown, because I need to vent a little, but I'm going to stay vague about some things.

1. Liz's trip to the emergency room when they discovered a mass in her head. She's fine, no problem, getting taken care of.

2. Two other family medical situations, both potentially severe in the long term. One was discovered very early and wil be taken care of in the immediate future, the other one is pretty much untreatable.

3. Me getting the flu or whatever the hell it was. It's been a long while since I've felt that lousy for that long a time. Getting better.

4. Still medical-related, a friend and co-worker was diagnosed with an agressive cancer. It started a month or two ago, and it doesn't look like he'll survive the year. He's right around my age.

5. We had a serious Mookie issue that I won't go into other than to say trust was betrayed. To her credit, she admitted it, feels terrible, and knows she screwed up (none of this "you don't understand, you're being unfair" nonsense). We're working through it together.

6. At work, I got notice that my position is being terminated. I work for a great company, and the day they called to tell me that, they pointed me at a possible new position, which I'll interview for in the next week or two. I expect I'll still have a job with my company, just in a different place. Because I didn't have enough stress going on in my life, fate added this little cherry on top.

So all in all, we're doing fine. There was nothing there that doesn't happen to many people every day, it just didn't have to happen all in one month, ya know? Thanks to my wife Liz, who helps me stay sane (and I, her), and Mookie (who's a good kid if a little odd sometimes), and the two who've already gone out into the big bad world, I know that there's more right with Ted's Universe than wrong.

Thanks also to my friends who let me vent (you know who you are), and those who sent emails and comments. You're appreciated and cherished.

I feel better now. It's a whole new month...

Posted by Ted at 05:46 AM | Comments (10)

February 17, 2004

Old dogs and new tricks

We have two dogs, a two year old Toy Poodle named Trix and a ten year old Terrier named Sam. And although we've almost always had at least one dog (and had as many as three), because of being in the military, we’ve never had a dog long enough to get old before*. We’re getting into new territory for us when it comes to Sam.

If human grandpa gets old and cranky, you deal with it. Same with an old dog, to a point, because even though he’s part of the family, it’s still a pet. I understand people who spend hundreds or even thousands of dollars on vet bills for an elderly or sick pet, but I wouldn’t do it myself. I think some people wait too long to put down a beloved pet, sometimes you just have to let go.

Sam is getting older. He’s still got a lot of play in him, and he gets around pretty good. He’s some years from the end, but he’s at the age where I’m beginning to think about it.

Lately, he’s taken to peeing on the floor in the house. He’ll go into the pantry and lift his leg against the garbage can, or downstairs in my workshop or the basement. Like a cranky old man, he doesn't take correction well, and it's getting worse. Why is he doing this? It might be the cold weather bothering his old bones, I don't know. He still goes out (we've got a doggie door to the backyard) during the day, so I'd almost think it was lazyness. Stubborn? I'd believe that before lazy.

Have you ever gone through this with a pet? How did you handle it?

*Rather than put our dogs into quarantine for some months overseas, we'd find him or her a good home before we moved. Hard to do, but better. We got Sam after I got out, and he was a couple years old when we got him.

Posted by Ted at 11:56 AM | Comments (5)

January 20, 2004

In case you were wondering

Today is Liz's first day back at work after her long vacation. She didn't want to go. Ahhhh, normalcy prevails.

Posted by Ted at 01:48 PM | Comments (2)

January 12, 2004

Busy busy busy

Work is going to be insanely busy for the next week or month or so.

Posted by Ted at 06:20 AM | Comments (3)

December 28, 2003

Ted's Diet Plan

Euphemistically, I'm big boned, hefty, cuddly, a teddy bear, healthy, a big guy, and circumferentially overachieving. I'm in shape, because round is a shape. I have the body of a god - Buddha. I'm currently on a diet. Actually, I'm on two diets, because one alone just wasn't giving me enough to eat. I'm well on my way to a career as a professional sumo wrestler. I'm thinking my sumo name would be Yomama - catchy, eh?

Realistically, I need to lose weight. I've needed to lose weight practically my entire life. Partly because I have the metabolism of a rock, and partly because I have a mostly desk-bound job and I love to eat. So it's not at all a mystery why I'm in the shape I'm in.

I'm not terribly unhealthy. My blood pressure is fine, so's my cholesterol. It doesn't kill me to climb a flight of stairs, and I don't think twice if I have to walk a mile or more to fetch a rocket.

Nobody knows more about diet and nutrition than a fat man in the military. You practically earn a degree on it as Uncle Sam counsels you and educates you. So I've seen a diet or two or twenty. Atkins is only the latest craze.

Low-fat. High-acid. Low-carb. Whatever. Here's my plan. It's called low-swallow. I'm going to quit eating so damn much. And I'm going to work up a sweat more often. Simple plan, now all I have to do is stick to it. And like anything else, now that I've announced it in my little corner of the universe, y'all can encourage me and make fun of me when I stumble. Go ahead, we're jolly you know.

Posted by Ted at 09:27 AM | Comments (4)

December 11, 2003


Last one of these for awhile, I promise.

Today Liz went to see her doctor. He removed her staples (14 of 'em, 11" incision), disconnected the plumbing, and - best of all - gave us the results of all the biopsies. Everything was benign. No cancer. Happy doesn't begin to describe me right now.

Posted by Ted at 07:22 PM | Comments (6)

December 08, 2003

Near-enough normal

Oldest daughter Robyn made it home for Christmas with no problems. She's working day #1 at her old job right now, making as much money as possible to pad her savings account before she heads back to school. She'll be working six days a week the entire time she's home, including (I think) both Christmas and New Years for holiday pay.

Liz came home from the hospital yesterday. Her doctor, her nurses, and Liz agreed that it would be a better thing than spending another day there. She'd gotten a new roomie, and from my observations, I think the lady was terminal. She was loud and (understandably) ornery, constantly demanding pain meds - which she got - and more often than not there was a nurse there to deal with her. Sometimes there were two or three. Lots of noisy machines were hooked up to her. She was being fed through an IV, but she bitched so much that they finally gave in and brought her a tray too. I overheard a doctor say basically that it didn't matter anyway.

I felt bad for her, but that's not a good environment for others to try to get well in, so they sent Liz home.

She's doing great. Slept soundly last night, and the dogs have gotten the idea that they are not allowed up in her lap. I'm at her beck and call, which would be funnier if I were a girl... 'beck and call girl'... shut up, I'm tired too, and I slept on the floor again. That's one of those character-building things my parents used to lie to me about.

Once again, thanks to all who sent well wishes and prayers. We appreciate them more than we can say. Now, I've got some half-completed interview questions to take care of.

Posted by Ted at 12:48 PM | Comments (9)

December 06, 2003


Wow, I had no idea that Mookie got an email yesterday. For those who were wondering, mom and I discussed this with her a couple of weeks ago, and we had no problem with it. The only restrictions we put on it (besides the usual 'parent' ones), was that she had to arrange for her own rides back and forth because I would be busy, and that it depended on the weather.

With me spending all day at the hospital, there wasn't much difference between Mookie staying home or going to her friend's house. She doesn't like hospitals (who does?), and there just wasn't any point to her hanging around the house. I tried to get her to channel her anxiety into cleaning, but she wasn't fooled by that little ploy (and I noticed that she did do some yesterday before she left, probably a little stress-reduction on her part).

To whoever sent the email - or to those that thought the same thing - this wasn't a case of Mookie being selfish and unfeeling. I understand appearances, but this time you're wrong.

Posted by Ted at 08:44 AM | Comments (1)

December 05, 2003

Jes' Ducky

Thanks to all for the prayers and good wishes! Liz came through her surgery in good shape. Right now she's pretty well doped to the gills on morphine, and she's got the 'happy button' that she can press when she needs an extra jolt. We expect she'll be coming home on monday.

Posted by Ted at 10:41 PM | Comments (7)


Ok, if you’ve read the first few of these, then you know what its all about. This is the personal stuff, the things I need to vent about or get off my chest or even just reminisce about in an attempt to de-stress myself. It’s inside the extended entry, read it or not, it’s up to you.

Liz goes in for surgery this morning. I’ve been asked what the surgery is for, and it’s primary goal is a complete hysterectomy. They’re taking it all, and because of previous tests and biopsies and operations, they’ve decided to do it the old fashioned way, right through the bikini line. Major invasive, but they want to take a good look around inside with the ol' Mark I eyeballs. Liz has had numerous tests and such done, and damn near every one of them came back negative for cancer, but abnormal. After years of trying various things, it's come to this, which is what Liz suggested lord knows how long ago.

So if you feel so inclined, cross your fingers or say a quick prayer or think good thoughts for Liz. Thanks.

What follows is the story of our wedding day. I’m sure everyone had some adventure leading up to their special day, so this might not seem like much, but maybe you’ll smile a little here and there. It's probably my happiest memory, which is what I want and need right now.

There were actually bets being made about whether or not I’d even show up for my own wedding.

To all outside appearances, we weren’t starting out on the most solid ground. Liz and I had met a year earlier while she was visiting her brother for the summer. We’d known each other for about a month when I asked her to marry me, and soon after she went back to Baltimore to finish high school. We traded letters almost every day, and a weekly phone call, plus I took the train out for a week in January to meet her parents, but everyone was pretty sure we were headed for a short and troubled marriage.

During my visit in January, we had done the Catholic pre-wedding counseling. Our priest was very cool about my schedule, and we did what normally took weeks in two afternoon sessions. Other than that, Liz had to do all the wedding planning by herself. She’d write and tell me about the invitations or flowers or where the reception would be, and I’d just smile and nod. The only thing I asked for was a plain gold band for my wedding ring. Nothing fancy, nice and simple for me.

I also was sending her almost every penny of every paycheck. Talk about trust, eh?

Now the reason for her doing all the planning wasn’t just the distance involved. I was in the process of becoming a Computer Programmer for Uncle Sam. We had scheduled the wedding around my schooling and change of posting. The plan was for me to leave tropical Grand Forks, North Dakota and proceed to Biloxi, Mississippi for 11 intense weeks of training. Following that, I’d make a quick stop in Montgomery, Alabama – our new home – to drop off my possessions on my way to Dundalk, Maryland to get married. Then it was right back to Gunter Air Force Station in Montgomery without delay, do not honeymoon, do not pass go, do not collect $200.

Wonder of wonders, that part of the plan went off without a hitch.

I got to Baltimore tired and burnt out from classes. There was about a week to go before the wedding, and all there was for me to do was smile and nod over last minute things, meet the various family arriving daily, and party.

And it was a party. Pop made sure there was a keg in the backyard at all times, and we all partook often (near continuous in my case). Liz asked me to promise that I wouldn’t be drunk at the ceremony, which seemed reasonable, and I was glad to do so.

About the only worry anyone had was about my best man. Paul was supposed to be there, but the last word I’d gotten was that he was driving his clunker from Minnesota. Driving was plan B, he originally was going to hitchhike. Everyone else was fretting, but I knew he’d get there.

My parents and brother flew in from California. Everyone was getting along great, especially my brother and Liz’s maid of honor Denise who hit it off, uh, very well. Nights were spent drinking and playing poker.

One night (or it might’ve been early one morning), I was sitting in the back yard with Liz and the next door neighbor, and we were determined to finish the keg so a fresh one could be procured in the morning. Beer doing what it does to me, I had gotten tired of going into the house every half hour to relieve myself, so I went behind the conveniently located shed and did my thing.

When I finished, I stuck my hand down my pants and left my finger sticking out of my zipper. Staggering back out from behind the shed, I told Liz that this was what she had to look forward to in a few short days. Suddenly, from the darkened back porch, Liz’s mom’s voice said “Ted, I think you’ve had enough for the night”.

And I replied “Mom, I think you need to get a white robe so we can see you lurking in the shadows like a bat.”

To this day I don’t know why that woman loves me. We finished the keg, but I promised to be more quiet.

Paul still hadn’t shown up, and now I was getting questions every few hours. I had no way to contact him, but I still wasn’t worried. He’d make it.

During this week my brother and I were sleeping in a camper trailer parked in the driveway. I don’t remember any other arrangements, but Liz’s sister lived in an apartment down the same street, and some folks may have been sleeping there too.

A couple of days before the wedding, I got woke up in the middle of the night by a voice saying “You ain’t Ted” and the sound of my brothers head bouncing off of the bedframe where he was sleeping. Paul had arrived.

I swear to God this part is true. Paul finally made it to Baltimore, bringing along his wife Val and oldest daughter Amy (about age 4 at the time I’d guess). I expected him to call when he got to town for directions to Liz’s house. What actually happened was that he took the first exit after the Francis Scott Key bridge (coming in from the south for some damned reason), stayed straight through two lights and headed into a residential area, then spotted my parked yellow Charger way the hell down a side street. With all the cars around, he figured he’d found the wedding party. He went into the camper trailer, picked my brothers head up by the hair to see if it was me, dropped it when he saw it wasn’t, and that’s when I woke up.

I was ecstatic, Liz was happy for me. Nobody else was thrilled. Paul had gotten out of the Air Force a while back and had grown a full beard and let his hair grow long. He brought a suit for the ceremony, but other than that it was jeans and a ripped up shirt and bare feet. My mom asked me if I was going to have Paul shave and get a haircut for the wedding. Liz’s mom asked the same thing. I was adamant, he was there and that was the important thing, so leave him the hell alone. Not that it bothered Paul in the least. Val charmed everyone, and Amy became the ‘flower girl’ in our ceremony.

At the dress rehearsal, Liz and Denise (maid of honor), and myself and Paul were standing in a group with the priest, when Father Wojokowski said to Paul “This is the time when you give the ring to the groom.” Paul reaches into his pocket and pulls out a joint, mutters “wrong pocket” and gives me the ring from his other hand. I almost fell over laughing, Liz and Denise were trying hard to keep straight faces, and I don’t think anyone else ever knew what had happened.

That night, my dad had to come get Paul and I from Liz’s sister’s place because we were drunk as skunks, rolling down the slope of her front yard over and over and over.

Wedding day. I found out later that Liz had a couple of quick shots to calm her nerves. I was alcohol-free for the entire time up until the reception. Hey, I’d made a promise. Paul and I had gotten dressed at the sister’s apartment; I was in my dress blues, and Paul in his brown three-piece suit (including shoes). We posed for a few pictures and then headed for the church.

When we got there, there was a problem. All of the flowers (bouquets and boutonnieres) were at Vee's apartment (a soon-to-be-ex sister-in-law), and she wasn’t around. I don’t know who had the bright idea to trust her, because she was far from reliable.

Not to worry, because I'm a guy with tools and my best friend. Telling everyone that we’d be back before the ceremony (and nothing more), Paul and I jumped in my car and headed over to rescue flowers. Vee lived in a bad neighborhood, and dressed as we were, we stood out like a sore thumb. After knocking on her door, it was obvious that she wasn’t home, so there was only one thing to do.

Returning to my car, we grabbed the tire iron and a couple of big screwdrivers and headed back to Vee’s apartment. As we removed her front door from it’s hinges (and not being gentle about it), her neighbors came out into the hallway to see what the hell was going on. I assured them that it was official government business and that they should go back inside their own apartments. What did they know? A guy in full dress military uniform and another in a nice suit were breaking into a place, it probably happened every day in that building.

Once we were inside, the flowers were quickly located. They were sitting on the kitchen table, and to this day I have no idea where Vee was. All I know is that she didn’t make the wedding, and the next time I saw her was years later when I served her with a subpoena (another story). I grabbed the flowers and Paul leaned the door back sorta in the doorway.

The ceremony is a blur to me. I know the maid of honor sang Time in a Bottle (“sounds like a drinking song” remarked my father-in-law). I remember the priest saying “Congratulations, you’re married”. I also remember him saying he couldn’t come to the reception because he had a six-pack in the freezer back at the residence. People threw rice or birdseed or leadshot or some damn thing as we came out of the church. Liz and I sat in the back, Paul drove and Denise rode shotgun in my highly decorated car on the way to the reception.

My favorite picture is of Liz’s grandmother dancing with Paul.

Liz and I finally left the reception (good food, good liquor, good music, lots of fun like a reception should be), and headed to our ‘honeymoon’. What it really was was one night at the Holiday Inn, because we had to be on the road back to Alabama the next day. After consummating the marriage (gee, that didn’t take long), we decided to keep the party going a while longer. While Liz filled the bathtub with ice and called everyone to come over, I ran to the liquor store for a few cases of beer and that was how we ended the day. Newlywed and surrounded by friends and loved ones.

Posted by Ted at 07:51 AM | Comments (9)

November 29, 2003


If you’ve read any of these, then you know what its all about. This is the personal stuff, the things I need to vent about or get off my chest in an attempt to de-stress myself. I do a little of that inside the extended entry. Read it or not, it’s up to you.

We've had our first "I don't want to be a bother" lecture. After all our time together we've gotten good at it, so all in all it goes rather smoothly. Here's how it works:

Liz has put together this long list of things that she needs to do before going into the hospital. That's fine, because usually I can do at least half of those errands myself. But now Liz is beginning to fret about "being a bother". She's reluctant to ask for anything at all, and her standard answer to most questions has become "I'm ok".

This is all familiar territory. Tonight I let her know that her "I don't want to be a bother" attitude is a bother. It pisses me off. Regardless of her good intentions (and they are), this whole situation is going to be a pain in the butt. It's going to be inconvenient as hell for me, and Mookie, and most of all for Liz herself. It's not a good thing, or a bad thing, it merely is.

Someone wise once wrote about finding a lion in your kitchen, and how instead of worrying about how it got there or how much trouble it was going to cause, the best thing to do was to accept it as fact and just deal with the lion.

She needed to be reminded of that.

Liz is also worried because starting tomorrow she's not supposed to take any more of her regular meds. Her doctor has prescribed serious narcotics to take for the pain this week prior to surgery. She won't take many of them though, because Liz refuses to get hooked on painkillers.

No bother at all sweetie. We'll manage just fine, all of us together.

Posted by Ted at 07:56 PM | Comments (2)

November 26, 2003


Ok, if you’ve read the first couple of these, then you know what its all about. This is the personal stuff, the things I need to vent about or get off my chest in an attempt to de-stress myself. I do a little of that inside the extended entry, along with the story of the birth of my son. Read it or not, it’s up to you.

Believe it or not, I’ve been steering towards a point with all these stories so far. The first bit about my mom was basically to provide some context for my attitude about things, and the second bit was to explain some of the crap that my wife has gone through. I thought both of those were needed in order for you to understand why I’m so stressed out about my wife’s upcoming surgery.

It all comes down to this: nothing medical is ever plain and simple for my wife. Her last visit to the dentist sent her to the hospital overnight when she reacted badly to the Novocain. She spent a week in the hospital earlier this year, after what was supposed to be a simple ‘scope and biopsy. That week and the results of the biopsy were the final impetus for this upcoming procedure. Everything is an adventure medically for my wife.

And, to put it delicately, she’s not young anymore. Middle age has snuck up on us, and we don’t rebound like the kids we used to be. Truth be told, she never did.

So that’s why I’m so stressed, because when my wife goes in for surgery, I really have no freakin’ idea about what’s going to happen – during or after.

Hope for the best, prepare for the worst.

Ok, whining over. Now I’m going to talk about one of my favorite memories, the birth of my son. Our first child. Fruit of my Looms, as Archie Bunker once put it.

It was nearly ‘time’. Everything was going just swimmingly, we’d gone to the classes and read the pamphlets, the overnight bag was packed and the only thing left to do was to actually have the baby. For some reason, I wasn’t nervous. There was none of this ‘new daddy’ anxiety at all.

So we’re lying in bed, and I’ve already fallen asleep when I get an elbow in the ribs.

“Ted, wake up. It’s time.”

“How far apart are the contractions?”

“Five minutes, I’ve been timing them for a half hour.”

“Ok, what time is it?”

“Just after midnight.”

I took a few seconds to mull it over and made a command decision. It had been a long day and we’d just gotten to bed. Hey, the first labor takes longer, right?

“Wake me in a half hour, unless the contractions start coming faster.” And I went back to sleep.

All too soon, I’m being shaken awake.

“Ted, get up. It’s been a half hour.”

“Ok,” and I sat up in bed. Liz is already dressed.

“Let me grab a quick shower.” Yep, that’s me, Mr. Calm. Wife in labor and I need a shower. It wasn’t entirely selfish though, I wanted to wake up a little before driving across town to the military hospital.

After an uneventful trip and check in, Liz is laying in the hospital bed, and her doctor is doing an internal on her while I stood outside the drawn curtain wall. The doctor left and I went back in to be with my wife. We both beamed at each other, and she quietly cursed me every five minutes while she tried to break my fingers.

The doctor came back with another doctor and after a few minutes left again. Liz said they did another internal. Soon other people dressed in scrubs arrived and this time I was kicked out of the room entirely. I stood in the hallway and mildly wondered at this, because I had no idea if this was normal or not.

After about fifteen minutes and ten people who came popping in and out, I finally grabbed our doctor and asked him what was going on. I wasn’t real happy because by now it was obvious that something wasn’t right, and I was tired of watching every stranger in the hospital take turns feeling up my wife.

He asked for about five more minutes, and told me to go back inside. When he got back, we found out that the baby was breach, and they recommended a caesarian delivery. Within a half hour we’d been briefed and counseled and signed waivers saying everything possible wasn’t anybody’s fault. Two things came to light; first, this caught everybody by surprise. The baby was very active, but no one thought this might happen. Second, thanks to ‘modern’ military medicine, this c-section meant that my wife would have to go through the same procedure in subsequent deliveries. That’s right, the military is tried-and-true when it comes to surgery, there’s no cutting-edge (no pun intended) procedure allowed.

Oops, one more thing. If I still wanted to go in to see the delivery, then I could. But that meant that my wife wouldn’t get general anesthesia, they’d just do a spinal block and she’d be awake for the whole thing. If I didn’t go in, they’d send her to la-la land.

I wanted to see my baby born. I didn’t want to watch a reenactment of Alien. Knock her out, doc.

So now we were all ready to go, right? Yeah, right. After another half hour, we finally track down a nurse to find out what the delay is about. She sends the doctor back and he explains that there’s another lady in labor that we’re waiting for.

This poor woman had been in labor for something like twenty hours. She was a tiny little Philippina and was exhausted, and no closer to delivery than six hours ago. The doctors had finally given her something to relax her, and were monitoring mom and baby closely. Obviously, anything you give the mother in this situation directly affects the baby, so they were concerned.

Meanwhile, Liz was squeezing the hell out of my hand every five minutes like clockwork, and getting more and more vocal about being ready to do this.

About an hour later, the other lady is taken into one delivery room, and an hour after that Liz goes into the other. I sat, paced, and fussed in the expectant father’s room, right outside the double doors leading to the delivery rooms. This was the good ol’ days, where you could actually smoke there, and I was smoking like a chimney. Nerves had arrived big time, because our nice simple let’s-have-a-baby adventure got complicated, and I was completely and unexpectedly out of the loop.

Some while later, the double doors opened and two nurses walk out. I trailed down the hall after them and hear them talking about the delivery, which hadn’t gone well. From the snatches of conversation I heard, the baby had been born not breathing and they had had to resuscitate, and there had been other problems as well. What I couldn’t tell was which baby they were talking about!

“Excuse me! Which baby?”

“Oh, I’m sorry, if you wait in that room, the doctor will be out shortly to talk to you.”

“Which baby?!?!?!?!” I was freaking out.

“We can’t tell you that. The doctor will be right out.”

So I head back to the expectant father’s room, pissed off and so hyped that I can’t stand still, let alone sit down.

A while later, the doors open and the doctor comes out. That bastard didn’t even look into the expectant father's room where I was, he just headed down the hall. Once again I hustled after, and corralled him.

“Is my wife ok?”

Some people have told me that this was a strange question to ask first, because I should have been more worried about the baby. I honestly don’t understand that, because the new baby was a brand new person that I hadn’t even met yet. Also, cold as it may sound, if my wife was ok but the baby wasn’t, then we could try again. At that point, my wife was definitely first on my list of worries.

Yes, my wife was fine. They’d be taking her to recovery in a few minutes. There had been a couple of minor problems with the delivery, but the baby was doing fine as well. Nothing really bad, but a pediatric specialist was going to be talking to us in a while. Turns out that the baby managed to dislocate a hip somewhere along the line and there would be some special things that needed doing. Not to worry, because everything was good. When I asked about the ‘not breathing’ part, he told me that it was the other mom and baby, and they were going to be ok too.

I thanked the doctor and he started to walk away. Then I remembered something else.

“Hey doctor, is it a boy or a girl?”

I was proud papa to a bouncing baby boy.

Kind of an epilogue to this: when they brought my wife to the recovery room, I was waiting. They wheeled her in and got her into the bed, she was completely out of it. I picked up this big baggie of… stuff… and realized that I was holding the placenta. Interesting, and a lot more of it than I thought there would be. The aides got snippy with me for messing with it, like the uninitiated weren’t allowed to interfere. When they started to wheel the gurney back out, I saw that they hadn’t unhooked the catheter bag from the gurney and it was almost out of slack. I hollered and they took care of that, and then stood there looking sheepish while I gave them hell for being idiots.

I was a Dad, and no one messed with my family, dammit.

When Liz was coherent enough, she reminded me to call all the new grandparents. On the phone with my mother-in-law, I passed along the good news (realizing that I still didn’t know the weight or length of my son). Yes, Liz was doing ok. Yes, the baby was fine, ten little fingers, ten little toes. Six on the left, four on the right. My mother-in-law knew me well enough to be pretty sure that I was kidding her about that.

One last weird little thing. My wife had three children and went into labor with all three, despite having three c-sections, and her labor pains were never more nor less than five minutes apart.

Posted by Ted at 08:45 AM | Comments (5)

November 21, 2003


Here's another post where I talk about life and stuff. It's written as much for me as anything, but you're welcome to read it. Leave comments if so moved to do so, or not - whatever works for you - including not reading it at all.

It all started with a bowling ball.

At least, for both of my wife and I, that was the first memorable manifestation. My wife and I used to do quite a bit of bowling, and at one point, she wanted to get a new ball. She had been using a very light ball, and I convinced her that she needed to move up in weight a little bit.

After the first few times of using the new ball, Liz (my wife) complained of backaches. Within a month, she was laid up after ‘throwing out’ her back. Having no experience in back problems, I was surprised when it took a couple of weeks for her to get better. Liz blamed the new bowling ball, I said nonsense, it was a fluke.

It happened a couple more times over the next three years, and the Air Force doctors did the normal things and prescribed the normal exercises and rest. Each time was a little bit worse and took a little longer to come back from.

After being transferred to Germany, my wife really wrenched her back and this time our medical care was provided by the Army. The new doctor put my wife into the hospital to recover this time and ordered a whole bunch of tests based on Liz’s medical history. I have mixed emotions about this doctor, because he was the first to realize that something wasn’t ‘right’ with my wife, but at the same time he decided to use that week in the hospital to force my wife to lose some weight and quit smoking. Yep, Liz was in enough pain to warrant hospitalization, but he puts her on a restricted diet (as if the food wasn’t already bad enough) and refused her permission to go outside for a cigarette. Liz spent a miserable week, pissed off and doped up.

An aside: in those days in military hospitals the patients were frequently tasked to work as their condition allowed. You would often see patients mopping hallways or laying in bed doing paperwork. A sergeant once brought my wife a stack of files and showed her what they wanted done. A couple hours later the sergeant returned and found the files in the trash can where my wife dumped them. Liz’s response was “I’m not in the military, kiss my ass.” They didn’t try again.

The test results came back and the doctor could only tell us that something was wrong, but couldn’t pinpoint it. My wife’s blood chemistry was severely out of whack, and they didn’t know why, nor how to correct it. The most frightening part was his description of what was happening (wildly simplified): In order to build muscle strength you tear down the muscle a little bit, and it recovers stronger. In Liz’s case, the muscle didn’t recover stronger, it didn’t even recover back to where it was. Every time she hurt her back, it got weaker and would keep getting weaker.

He also told us that at some point in the future, Liz would need a wheelchair to get around. No maybe about it. We could delay it by being careful, but it was inevitable.

Things went downhill for Liz slowly. Her back problems continued and got worse. One year she spent seven months bedridden in two long stretches. It was costing us a fortune in fees to rent a powered hospital bed, and we finally just bought one. Because we lived in a multi-level house and the bedrooms were upstairs, the main floor living room became our ‘bedroom’ and we gave oldest daughter the old master bedroom. I slept on the floor in case Liz needed anything during the night.

Remember the first ‘Seriously’, and it’s point about keeping a good attitude? As far as we were concerned, life was still good. We knew that other people were worse off than us, and if there was one thing that the doctors could say for sure, it was that whatever it was that Liz had, it didn’t seem to be life-threatening. Count your blessings, and all that.

Liz fought every bit of the way. It took me a year to convince her to get a cane to help her walk, and she looked at it as a defeat, even while knowing that she moved around so much better with it. It was her knees as much as my nagging that finally brought her around, because they’re a mess from the frequent falls she was taking.

I learned though that what she lost in mobility she more than made up for in reach. I quickly figured out that I had best be nimble or, better still, distant when I teased her.

By now, we had a name for her condition. Fibromyalgia. In many ways it’s current status is like Muscular Dystrophy was when Jerry Lewis started his telethons. A lot of doctors still don’t believe that it exists. Diagnosis isn’t a concrete yes-or-no proposition. We’ve had doctors tell us that Liz is just stressed out, or she needs to take more vitamins, or get more exercise. Hers is one of the most extreme cases they’ve seen.

The primary symptom is pain. Imagine getting a charley horse, or a back spasm. Now imagine having it last for days or weeks.

Technically, it’s a problem with her neuro-transmitters; those little things that tell the nerves to feel and muscles to contract or relax. Sometimes as she was walking her brain would tell her leg to move, but the neuro-transmitters wouldn’t pass along the message, and taking that next step meant falling down because your brain knew that it had given the right command, and expected that leg to be there. Except it wasn’t. The other side of the coin was when the neuro-transmitters would continuously fire, causing the cramps and spasms. Sometimes her hand (for instance) would just stop working, paralyzed in position for some time, until things returned to normal on their own.

Pain. Everyday. The condition itself isn’t life-threatening, but one of the leading causes of death among those with fibromyalgia is suicide.

The wheelchair was another defeat, but life was still good. We had each other, and we had great kids. They grew up before their time, helping dad keep up with things. In some ways it was like being a single parent, especially when Liz couldn’t drive anymore and had to give up her job as a teacher. She kept involved in life as much as possible, doing volunteer work and trying a variety of home-based businesses. She agonized over not being able to contribute more to the family, and I constantly tried to ease the guilt she felt.

Her family never really understood, and barely tried. Liz kind of grew apart from them because of it. They refused to realize how much our lives had changed, and blamed Liz for her condition without realizing they were doing it. I quietly fumed and was there for Liz when she needed to vent and rage against them. Once in a while I would try to make them understand, but I could tell they just didn’t get it. That changed when Liz and the girls went to visit them for a week, and mom-mom and pop-pop had to deal with the chair and ramps and store aisles and all the other daily bits of life without me around to automatically take care of it. To their credit, and my everlasting gratitude, they learned a lot that week. Things got a lot better between them and Liz.

We learned a lot too. Liz would get cabin fever because she depended on me to get out of the house, and felt bad asking. She thought I’d mind because we didn’t just ‘run’ anywhere. Getting her anyplace was a time-consuming process, but well worth it. She was easier to live with when she wasn’t cooped up, so it wasn't like there was nothing in it for me. Plus, I considered it time well spent, because we were together.

Liz often asks me why I stay with her. I tell her it’s because of her parking privileges.

I’ve been chewed out more than once by little old ladies for being mean to Liz. We’d be in line at the store, oftentimes Liz would have a basket in her lap so I could push her chair instead of a cart. Liz would be saying something and unloading the basket onto the belt, and I’d tell her that the best thing about shopping carts was that they didn’t talk. Liz would tell me to shut up, pay and push, because I was nothing more than hired muscle. Sometimes I would ask the checkout lady if there were a bus route nearby, so I could push Liz in front of one. We’d get some weird looks, but most folks could tell that we were madly in love with each other.

Once, at the amusement park, I let her go at the top of a path. I laughed my ass off as she careened downhill, trying to slow down and yelling “you bastaaaaaaaaard!”

We also got to be quite the crusaders for handicapped access. Our local Lions club replaced it’s front doors because they were a designated voting station, but wheelchairs couldn’t fit through them because of the center jamb. Two stores modified their register layouts because Liz raised enough hell (up to the county level) about wheelchair access and, more importantly, fire safety. I once got into it with the manager of a computer store (major chain) because they had the aisles packed with stacks of extra inventory, and I was kicking them over one by one as we shopped to make room for the wheelchair. He wanted to call the cops, but hesitated when I wanted that too. The county supervisor got involved and I assume they’ve changed their ways, but we’ve never gone back. I refuse to give my money to assholes.

You’d be surprised how many times someone pulls up in front of a store and blocks the wheelchair ramp. If they have the grace to apologize when they come running out and see us waiting, we’d figure they learned the lesson and be more aware next time. If they didn’t care, I’d scrape the chair along their car getting around it. Call the cops asshole, and make sure you mention how you were threatening a lady in a wheelchair.

I have crip tags on my truck, but I don’t park in a handicap spot unless Liz is with me.

Several years ago, Liz’s doctor told her about some new drugs just coming onto the market, and how they might help her condition. They started her on a combination, and have tinkered with the combinations and dosages ever since. The drugs are very expensive, and we had to fight with our HMO each time a refill was necessary. Fortunately, our doctor loved to fight the system, and we’d eventually get approval. That’s gotten better with time. When it looked like a new HMO wasn’t going to cover the cost of her medications, I made plans to take a second job, because they’re worth it.

Thanks to these meds, Liz can work, drive and even walk without a cane again. She’s not close to 100%, but she manages just fine. On the rare occasions where her prescription refills are held up because of some HMO snafu, within a week Liz’s condition begins to deteriorate.

It scares hell out of her. Her other major fear is that at some point the medications will lose their effectiveness for her. We have no idea when or if that will happen, but we’ll deal with it if it does, like we’ve done up to now. With lots of love and patience and understanding, and crip jokes.

These drugs aren't painkillers. She lives every day with pain that would bring me to my knees. I can't bear to think that it might be worse than that, but I know that it frequently is. When I can tell Liz is hurting, then I know it's horrible, because she's gotten very very good at hiding it.

Her doctor thinks she might have Multiple Sclerosis, but Liz won't have the tests done to determine that for sure. She's afraid of the results. If she doesn't want to do something I don't wheedle or nag because she's old enough to make her own decisions. I also refuse to baby her. I'm there to help and assist and take care of what she can't by herself, but she's an adult and I treat her as such.

When Liz regained her ability to drive, one of the first things we did was rent her a car, and her and the girls took a trip to Canada. As often as work allows, she’s gone. It’s as if she’s trying to sate herself now with road trips and freedom, just in case there are darker day ahead. Mookie will attest to that, more than once the kids would wake up for school one morning and I’d tell them that mom would call that evening from wherever she was. Often Liz will take off with no more destination than ‘west’ or ‘south’. She loves to explore new cities and areas, and I’m trusting her to figure out where we’ll move to once we complete our lives here in the DC metro area. She’s the traveler and I’m the homebody, so while she’s out stretching her wings she knows that she always has a place to return to, and someone who’s patiently waiting.

You may have noticed that I’m very fond of ‘yin and yang’ and terms like that. Now you know why. Liz and I are very much a team, the sum infinitely more than mere husband and wife. She completes me.

One more thing, her condition isn’t all-consuming in our lives. It’s there, and we live with it, but it’s a tiny aspect of our everyday. I do like her parking privileges though.

Posted by Ted at 10:04 AM | Comments (6)

November 18, 2003

New Category


It's going to be that, because I think I need to get a few things out there over the next few weeks. Because you might not want to read it, I'll just put the title as Seriously and the actual post in the extended entry. The plan is not to dwell on depressing miserable shit, but some of that may occasionally happen.

Comments, commiseration, quips, slams, mocking, etc. are cordially invited.

On December 5th, my wife goes in for major surgery. I'm scared to death about this. More about that another time maybe.

A couple of people have noticed that I've been 'different' lately. Thank you for being observant, because I've been trying not to let it show. I've resorted to posting old 'office humor' crap, or at least the best of it, and old enough that hopefully some of you have forgotten it.

On my side of the family, adversity has always been met with a smile and a joke. We're not obnoxiously optimistic, but we know that things could always be worse.

In that vein, I'm going to tell you a little bit about my mom. She was a diabetic for years, but she had the non-juvenile type, so it wasn't something that ruled her life. She took her daily shots, and was generally pretty good about what she ate and drank, and life went on.

She passed away a few years ago, in her sleep, laying in her bed next to dad. I think she knew her time was up, and was at peace with it. But that's another story too.

A few years before that, she stubbed her toe. Broke the damn thing actually. This is bad news for diabetics, and things went sour for mom pretty quickly. Gangrene set in, and they amputated the toe. Unfortunately, the gangrene had already spread beyond the toe, so later that week they took part of her foot. The next week they took the whole foot. Then the doctors told mom that they needed to amputate above the ankle. Mom was tired of the mickey mousing going on, and suggested they take her leg below the knee to make sure they got enough of it, because the important part was saving the knee. The doctors agreed, and that's what they did.

A few weeks later mom moved into a hospice for recovery, and Mookie and I flew out to see her (we live in Virginia, mom and dad lived in California). Basically, Mookie came along to give me something to keep me occupied during the long flight, instead of constant fretting about my mom. My wife is wisdom incarnate.

I'd talked to mom and dad on the phone and knew things were going well, considering. Mom was recovering fine, there was no more talk of further surgeries, and it was just a matter of her healing up enough to get the hell out of there and going home.

Dad picked us up and was in a good mood. Typical, there's no gloom and doom about my family. We went to see mom and there's a roomful of people there. A catholic priest, a couple of old co-workers (my folks were both retired), a nurse doing whatever nurses do.

Rachael (mookie) runs in and hugs grandma, and smiles are all around. Introductions are made because I'm the son that nobody has ever met.

I said to my mom that she should get a peg leg with a spike on it, so she could get a job with the state picking up trash along the side of the highway.

Talk about polarizing moments. My mom, dad, and I laughed our asses off about that while everyone else in the room glared daggers at me.

Over the next week, people got used to the banter between mom and I. I heard over and over about what a wonderful attitude my mom and dad had, and how important that was.

I remember asking mom if there was a club or something she could join that would match her up with another amputee so they could go shoe shopping together. She replied that she'd just set the empty shoe on the footrest of the wheelchair to fuck with people's minds.

It took my mom something like six months to get out of the hospice. She had a temporary prothesis, and complained that it didn't have a flask built in. In another six months she was riding her bike, going dancing and even rollerblading (which was scary as hell even when she had two good pins).

So what's the point of all this? I don't know. I like this story because it was the last really happy time I spent with my mom. It also kind of illustrates my attitude about life and the crap everyone has to shovel at some point. You'll get more examples of this if (when) I talk about my wife and kids, and some challenges we've faced together.

Up to this point, I've kept a lot inside. It was actually my wife's idea to write about this stuff here, she's hoping it'll help because I'm stressed out in a major way. Which is kind of weird because I'm probably the only blogger on the net who doesn't have a novel started, or dream of becoming a better writer. My writing sucks, therefore I am. And I am content with that.

Posted by Ted at 11:54 AM | Comments (7)
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