Posts Tagged ‘Family’

Compare and Contrast

January 5, 2009

…from my sister’s reaction when I told her I was leaving The Spouse…

…to a cousin’s, G, reaction, in a hand-written note in her Christmas card to me – – –

…. 

GnuKid,

I am sorry to say but I cheered when I heard you had left The Spouse.  This is nothing against The Spouse but my desire to see you happy.  The situation was not good for you.

Enjoy life, it is too short to spend with guilt and regrets.  You owe yourself fun and love.

….

Cousin, G, has had a rocky, yet fulfilling life.  She’s been married three times.  The first ended, after many months of arguing, when her husband shot at her with a pistol.  She claimed she wasn’t frightened and knew he would miss since he’s an expert marksman.  Oooo-kay, then.  Since then, she’s lived her life full tilt, even despite health issues (degenerative neck muscles and breast cancer, to name two).  A failed second marriage, which she dumped out of as soon as she knew it was wrong (instead of waiting like ‘some’ of us do <blush>).  A third marriage which she thought was magical, until it ended tragically with his early death.  Still, there was much to do for herself.  Travel (including a two week hike in the outback of Oz, just before her breast cancer diagnosis), family, career (including getting a local tv show gig where she lives)… it’s all been aimed at her basic question to herself:  “Will this fulfill me in some way and make my life better and happier.” 

So, to get this message of encouragement from such a woman was quite uplifting to my spirits. 

We can’t choose our families (although sometimes we luck out as I did with G).  But, we CAN choose who we have closer relationships with.  

I’m definitely going to keep in better contact with her.  As a matter of fact, I’m writing her as soon as I finish this…

The Battle Done

November 8, 2008
GnuKid Brother

GnuKid Brother

S, age 60, went to join his God on 10/27/2008.  He was born to JG and LV in Pennsylvania.  He is survived by his loves and joys, wife, M, daughters, K and J, and extra special grandson/son, R, sister E, and brother, GnuKid of Ohio, and many other loving family members and friends.  S served his country on active duty in the U.S. Air Force from 1970-1990, earning three Meritorious Service Medals and two Air Force Commendation Medals.  He was also a Vietnam Veteran.  After retirement, he worked with a civilian contractor continuing his previous Air Force work training crew members.  S enjoyed good times spent with military comarades, civilian co-workers, and friends.  He enjoyed playing music with Oklahoma City Traditional Music Association friends and others who enjoyed music as much as he did.  He cherished his Scottish heritage and enjoyed attending any Scottish functions, including the Highland Games.  His favorite pastimes were 1/32 scale toys, reading books of every subject matter, and listening to a wide array of music (especially classical and gospel music).  A memorial will be held to clebrate his life at 1:00 pm, Mon., Nov 3rd.  In lieu of flowers, if desired, donations may be made to Hospice Care.

Pap-pap

October 13, 2008

Visiting my brother again.  Hoping for the best, fearing the worst as far as time left with him.  Other family members are also wandering in.  Was lucky this trip to share the visit with two cousins and a niece.  It was very heartening to see how happy it made my brother to have such company.

After a bit of libation (yeah.. yeah… take those feigned shocked looks off of your faces), we began to reminisce a bit.  Being the “oops” child, I was late on the scene compared to my brother and the two cousins.  As such, I listened with rapt pleasure at some of the stories.  A couple were about Pap-pap… my dad’s dad. 

Pap-pap was a farmer born and bred.  My cousins recounted some things he would say.  I’ve no clue if his homey phrases were his or stolen from his grandfather, but there were a couple doozies that were repeated with great glee. 

Now, not really being a farm boy myself, I’m struggling to understand the second two I’ll share here.  But the first?  Having a son of my own… heck, with Daughter Child as well… I truly understand this one:

–  Send a boy, get a boy.  Send two boys, get a half boy.  Send three boys, get no boy at all.

Yep… and having been (well… some say still am at heart) a boy, I do know this one.  Get a couple kids together on a job and they’re more interested in finding the toad or dipping feet in the stream or, when older, talking about girls. 

Again, the other two I’m struggling to understand.  Perhaps someone out there in the blogosphere can help me.  These two phrases were usually provided when Pap-pap wanted to watch the baseball game in peace or just wanted the youngsters out of the house.  He would stare the offending child or children in the eyes and say one of the following (I’ve actually seen both said one right after the other to a particularly annoying cousin):

–  What do you want to do?  Suck an egg?

_  Why don’t you get two sticks and go fight a hen turd?

[Big Grin]  That last one is my favorite.  I’m surely going to save that for my senior-er years to bamboozle and confuse the kids bothering me.

But, those last two also make me wonder if Pap-pap was attacked by a chicken when he was little… such angst against poultry….

There may have been more said, but, given the Scotch that was going down much too easily, was all I could remember. 

Next time?  A tape recorder…

Nonagenarian

October 10, 2008

… is the Word of the Week*.

As an adjective, it refers to being 90 years old (or, a bit confusingly to me, the dictionary says “90 to 99”). Like, maybe, “Say, I’ll try some of that nonagenarian Scotch!”

As a noun, it is a particular person who happens to be that age.  For example, “The nonagenarian in Ward 2 knocked up that redheaded nurse.”

I was gone all weekend to visit my aunt who was celebrating her 90th birthday… that’s Nine-Zero years.  Not as spry as I’d like to have seen her, she was nonetheless in fairly good health and feisty.  Had a great visit with cousins and cousin-lettes as well.  Seeing my aunt at 90 (with her two remaining siblings not too many years behind her), made me examine how much time is… or could be… left in my life.

I’ve sometimes joked that I’ll be living to at least 125. The key, of course, is actually “living” while I get to 125.  I don’t want to be that caricature of an old person who sits in a chair at the retirement home, quietly drooling while waiting impatiently for the end to come.

Nope… I want to be the George Burns type, living aggressively and out front right until the day the Grim Reaper comes for me.  I want to be one of those old folks you see in the commercials wearing their Depends while climbing the Matterhorn or diving the Marianna Trench or jeep riding the Outback.  I’ll be the crotchety, but lovable old codger who is accused of knocking up the cute nurse.  I’ll be the sneaky old bastard who organizes the rest of the retirement home residents to raid the kitchen at 3 am in the morning to eat all the ice cream and cookies.  I want to get outside every day to run, walk, bike (pedal power), bike (Harley Hog), and more. Yeah, great plans… but you have to have goals.

Here’s hoping all of you can one day proudly and happily bear the title of nonagenarian.

…and that’s your Word of the Week…

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*Yeah, i know i’ve been slacking off on doing my Word of the Week.  Once things settle [long laughter ending in breathless gasping], i’m going to try and get back to that.

Bra, Humbug

September 23, 2008

I have but one nephew–grand nephew, actually–who is 5-1/2 years old and the son of my Brother’s daughter. I will have stories to share later about that daughter. Suffice for now to say that, on top of dealing with brain cancer, my Brother and his wife are also raising my grand-nephew.

But that’s not what this story is about…

On my recent visit this past weekend, Brother’s wife tells me a little quirk they’ve learned about The Nephew.

First, she found The Nephew trying to put on one of her brassieres. Trying not to make a federal case about it, Sis-In-Law asks if he liked to wear bras. He says, “Not really… I like what goes in them better… they’re soft and mushy.” There followed a short conversation. Sis-In-Law avoided, though wanted to mention, that not all breasts were ‘soft and mushy’, though Grandma’s happen to be. But they talked about not touching without permission (and not until you are much older, kid).

A few days later, while coloring free form pictures with crayons, The Nephew drew a picture of a Golden Bra, complete with straps. Hmmm…

Then, the topper…

The Nephew’s mom is still in the picture, though not the primary caretaker. However, with Brother fighting the cancer, she’s actually stepped up quite well to helping out. While I was there, she volunteered to clean the kitchen and The Nephew’s bedroom. Well, here we are talking in the dining room and Nephew’s mom comes walking out of The Nephew’s bedroom… with an armful of bras. There were at least 10 in that pile. All found underneath The Nephew’s bed.

Wow…

The child makes his uncle proud!

He Decided To Paint

September 5, 2008

GnuKid is heading back to Oklahoma to visit his Brother.

My Brother is on recurrence number five of the brain cancer. Each new regrowth of the cancer has happened faster than the last.  Aggressive treatment is required each time.

At each recurrence, the doctors pull another weapon out of the arsenal to fight it.  This time it was to be some nasty ass chemotherapy—basically poisoning the system in hopes of killing off the cancer cells.  I say ‘nasty ass’ because the side effects of any chemotherapy are bad… nausea, fatigue, etc.  But, for this round, they were proposing something that would really make him sick, so would have to hospitalize him to ensure he didn’t dehydrate or have other bad side effects without being at reach of a doctor.

Backtracking a bit, my brother has taken up a hobby to help him through all of this.  He’s putting together a 1/32nd scale village, using bits and pieces of different toy sets. He sets up scenes (like, recently, a homecoming parade) with buildings, vehicles, and people.  Some of the people and scenery he paints himself.

Brother was in the midst of painting some people when the calls came from the docs to discuss options for this latest round of treatment.  One point came out that caused my Brother to pause.  The chemo proposed had a chance of inhibiting some of my Brother’s fine motor skills (as well as some other potentially nasty side effects)… fine motor skills like, oh, painting 1/32nd scale figures.

That news had a profound impact on my Brother. After discussion with his wife, my Brother has decided to defer any more treatment.  He came to the conclusion that he wanted to live the rest of his life like he wanted, not like how the doctor’s wanted.  He wanted to paint, play with his grandchild, and do what he could to live his life.

When he called to tell me his decision, he joked that he would have to add a new tombstone to his toy village cemetery with a special epitaph – – –

GnuKid’s Brother

Town Founder

“…in the end, he decided to paint…”

Who knows how much time we’ll have left with him.  I’m off to visit just to be with him and share some more time.

Spooky Addendum:  I called my sister-in-law to make sure it was okay to visit.  My Brother was in the background, talking as well.  Right in the middle of our conversation, my sis-in-law stopped and repeated something my brother said:  “Hijack?”.  I thought that rather a strange wish for my flight the next day.  Then Brother said something I couldn’t hear and my sis-in-law said, “Oh!  You said, ‘Hi, Jack’!”  Seems my Brother ‘saw’ my other brother, named Jack, and was just calling a welcome to him.  Jack died in 1963.

…I’m very glad I decided to go now…

Off to School

September 3, 2008

I took Girl Child back to university today.  She’s starting her [gasp!!!] Senior year.  This ended up being the hottest day here in the past three weeks, making for a sweaty move, but as Daughter Person pointed out, “At least it’s not raining…”

As we drove there, I found myself wondering how the hell we got through three years of university without it seeming to take a moment to pass by. I swear I feel I just blinked and here we already are at her last year. And it brought to mind a moment that made a big impact on me those three years ago when she was heading off to her first year of university – – –

So there I was.  My youngest offspring was heading off to her Freshchick year of university.  There was a lot of angst and fear in the household, especially with Girl Child.  Sure, she’d been away from home for a week at a time here or there, but this was really like moving out.  Because I was concerned that she was being emotionally fragile, I was taking on the ‘strong father’ role.  Joking, organizing, planning….  The intent being that she would see me and be calmer.

Comes the day we actually have to pack the van and head east.  It’s a Friday, before Labor Day weekend.  First years have to be there the entire weekend to participate in orientation things.  Daughter Person is stressing, but hanging in.  I’m doing okay – – – until….

Just so happens that is the first day of  grade school in the area.  Here I am, bravely packing the van to take my youngest – – my daughter – – my baby girl – – off to university, away from my protective and loving care.  I’m okay…

Then, coming down the street…a little girl, no more than six and probably even just five.  Her father holding her petite hand, walking slowly to match the pace of her little legs.  She’s wearing a pretty dress, clearly bought new for this momentous occasion.  She has a look of cautious excitement.  A tentative smile as she heads off to what’s likely her first day of school… leaving the protection and loving care of her parents.  And there, her father, a brave smile on his part as he walks to hand off the treasure of his heart to those who would educate her.

Our eyes briefly meet… a slight smile on both of our faces…

And my feigned bravery for my daughter evaporates in barely stifled tears at the raw juxtaposition–the irony–of these parallel events…

What chances led to such then… and remembering today still makes my eyes leak…