Wednesday, April 23, 2008

The Men I Love Play Guitar

Some of my fondest memories of growing up are wrapped around a guitar. When my dad was 13 years old, he learned to plunk three notes--G, C and D-- (the basic cord of G, he tells me). From there, he taught himself more. Whenever the extended family of aunts, uncles and cousins got together, there my dad would sit, strumming along. He especially loved old country and western songs, as I recall. He was really good at starting sing-alongs wherever he went. Once, when I was about six or seven, we were all at my Uncle Min's house, and as usual, dad was playing the guitar. He said, "Jan-Marie, come over here and sing us a song." Ohmigosh, I was so excited. My daddy wanted me to sing with him! So, Dad played guitar and I sang "Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star." My heart was filled with such joy, you can't imagine. I floated on clouds that night.

And so began my love of music and of men who play guitar. In the back of my mind was always the thought that the man I married would have to be a guitar man. I like to say that I went through three guitarists before I met Jim. It's true. They just weren't the right one. Then, on a beautiful September day, a friend brought me to the opening dinner on campus where her friend was playing his guitar and singing as the evening's entertainment. Now, you have to understand. I'd listened to Leah talk about "her friend Jim" for over a year and I'd tended to blow her off. I could only imagine that "her friend Jim" would be too much like her, and I just wasn't interested in that kind of neurotic. I couldn't believe it when I saw him. He was gorgeous and not neurotic at all. Quite the contrary. I came to learn that he tolerated Leah, but they weren't good friends. Jim has this head of unruly curls and just-barely-trimmed beard. He was wearing a wrinkled white oxford button-down shirt with the sleeves rolled up and a pair of faded jeans. He took my breath away. The rest is a story for another day. The point is, he played guitar. He was the right one.

Fast forward a few years and our son, Dylan, is fifteen. Jim shows him a few cords. He practices. He looks up guitar charts online and continues to teach himself. Funny, how this runs in the family. A friend showed Jim a few cords when he wanted to learn. Within two days, Jim was playing a gig in a local pub. Dylan becomes a real guitar star, joining a few bands and playing with his dad on the church worship team. Dylan is a rock star. Watch him roll. And he's cute to boot.

I love men who play guitars. I have three favorites.


Sunday, April 20, 2008

Sunday Morning in Sanford

I'm glad I'm here. Dad keeps saying "this will be a good two weeks for me." I made him a simple turkey sandwich yesterday and he made me feel like I cooked him a five course meal. However, he did cook me breakfast this morning and washed the dishes. I thought I was supposed to do that! He goes from having a little energy to being absolutely pooped. I don't want to shut him down because he would be offended and go crazy with boredom if I did. There will be a time coming when he won't have that energy. We'll let him use what he has.

His new medications for sleep and depression are causing his mouth to go very dry in the night and he is biting the inside of his cheek. He said this morning that he thinks the cancer is moving into his mouth. I don't know if that is paranoia or the power of suggestion. Personally, I think it could just be the fact that he sleeps with his mouth open, as evidenced this very moment while he naps in his La-Z-Boy. Maybe that's just my wishful thinking. His general physician told him "he thinks" the cancer is moving upward because he now has a tumor in his neck. I'm a little tired of the "I think" and want to hear a little more "I know." How flipping long does it take to get that information anyway? He had a CT scan last week. I would think he could be a little more definitive than that. What do I know? I'm just on the sidelines. I'm not mad, just a little frustrated. That doctor is on vacation this week, so I'll have to wait until he gets back.

Anyhooo, I am glad I'm here.


On the Road With Clella

My dad was discharged from the hospital after being there a week. I had planned over a month ago to take a week to visit him and videotape some stories. His time in the hospital and my need to lay eyes on him caused me to move my plans up by a week and extend my stay to two weeks. It's a long drive from Bremen, IN to Sanford, ME and a travelling companion is always a treat.

Enter Clella. She'll be 82 on May 1. She is loved by many and adopted by my kids and family. Clella has a daughter who lives in Maine, about a 90 minute drive from my dad. As it turns out, the girl needs her mom right now and Clella is up for the adventure. Clella is usually "up for the adventure," even though her doctor is putting more and more limitations on just what those adventures will be. (That's Clella with me on a mission trip in the Dominican Republic in July 2007).

Clella and I got here around 11:00 pm. We really didn't do too badly, seeing we stopped numerous times for potty breaks, gas-ups and catnaps. We also had two minor glitches--Clella thought we were leaving at 5 pm, not 5 am and needed another hour to get it all together. Could have been worse. I also had to stop by school to get the stupid phone charger which I thought of three, four, maybe five times the day before. (A.D.D. memo: Do it when you think of it). We listened to a book on tape for nine hours-- "Waltzing at the Piggley-Wiggley." I thought it seemed like a light-hearted story which Clella could enjoy. She really did, but I'm not sure if it was the senior-citizens-having-sex segments or the talk of old Big Band songs. When I asked if she was enjoying it, she said, "Yes! I'm reminiscing!" Um, I'm not quite sure if she was talking about the sex or the songs. I was afraid to ask. There are some things I just don't want to know!

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

It's Not An Ulcer, It's Cancer

We bought my dad's airline ticket to Germany on Friday. Within hours, he was in the emergency room with stomach pain. He is still in the hospital and may be for several more days.

He thought it was an ulcer. It's not. The cancer is spreading.


Friday, April 11, 2008


I don't have an ulcer, but I could.

I wrote a grant proposal. I got the grant. It may be the death of me.

Don't get me wrong. I'm excited to get the grant. It means I can retrace some of my father's steps in Germany during WWII. But it's a long time until I am on that plane in June and I may have an ulcer by then.

My father is supposed to go with Jim and me. We are seeking to find a church and town near Munich that my dad has fond memories of. It is also an opportunity for my dad to return to a country he has always wanted to revisit. The week after I mailed my proposal, Dad was diagnosed with small cell lung cancer. According to the experts, it is the worst and most aggressive form of cancer. He underwent chemotherapy and radiation treatments through November to January. It is a daily roller coaster ride to know whether or not my dad will actually go. First, we needed to know if I got the grant. After a three month wait, I received a letter of congratulations. Two days later, dad flew to Arizona to visit my oldest brother. It was a horrible travel experience for him and he spent his second day there in the emergency room. It seems he had pneumonia. That would make anyone feel horrible. He flew home the following Tuesday. Another bad travel day. That night, he told me that his traveling days were over and he couldn't go on the trip. Needless to say, I was devastated. In March he was feeling much better and thought he would still go on the trip. He has been waiting for different appointments with doctors to get the go ahead for the trip. Two days ago, his cancer doctor said if he didn't go to Germany, she would go on the trip with us! Great! I talked to Dad last night. All plans were a go and I was to call him today to make the final flight arrangements. This morning, he doesn't think he can go. He just doesn't feel well. He told me to make flight reservations anyway. If he loses the money, he loses the money. This indecisiveness has occurred two to three times a week over the last month or so.

I think I'm going crazy. But it's okay, because I'm still going to Germany. With Jim. And Dad. I hope.

Love you, Dad, regardless.


Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Happy birthday, my friend!

Two things to celebrate today: the birthday of my good friend and the birth of my blog! Two good things---maybe. I texted my friend this morning around 6:00 a.m. "Happy bday! I'm sick-flu." Probably not the best birthday greeting she's ever received. I guess I should have left off the the part about being sick. As Rick Warren would say, "It's not about me." Should have left it off, but I didn't think it was so bad that I would get flat responses from her. Geez, did I make her mad? Do I have the right day? It would be just like me to get the date wrong. Dates just don't seem to stick in my mind until the oddest moments. Paranoia began to set in. I wanted to brighten her day, not start it off wrong. Further prodding revealed it wasn't me (at least, that's my story). My friend, who shall remain nameless today, was lamenting about her purpose and whether or not she is making a difference in anyone's life. She does, in more ways than I can list, but for today, it's a hard thing for her to consider. She'll get out her funk, I know she will. The birthday blues will fade and the sun will shine (and hopefully not give her a migraine). For now, random memories will be my gift to her:
  • "scoopin' poop" on back roads
  • drying you-know-what with the car a/c
  • accidentally locking 5 week old baby in car at a yard sale
  • praying mantis in a parking lot at midnight
  • planting "dandelions" in your father's yard and getting caught
  • "Big age difference!"
  • Secret reconnaissance drive-by's
  • Bubble gum and "Yeah?" at Steak and Shake
  • bad day in Warsaw
  • checking for ticks
  • having children who love each other
  • anything "terrocious"
  • "Leslie28 is a whiner"
  • reading each other's mind and finishing sentences
  • Mancala boards
  • E-coli and meat thermometers
  • goofy husbands with big hearts
  • WD40 is good for warts
So, dear friend, the most wonderful day is wished for you.

And did I tell you, I'm sick today?