Sunday, June 28, 2009

I'm still in the doghouse.

Have I mentioned that my dog was thoroughly insulted when he was removed from his normal routine and environment for a couple of weeks? He obviously holds a grudge.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Lessons Learned

It's amazing to think about how time either flies or crawls... or presents itself in some weird combination of both. I feel like I have lived a couple of lifetimes since Daddy was taken to the hospital on June 2, but then it seems like just yesterday when I first got Mama's voice message on my cell phone saying that he was being taken to the hospital. But I'm not going to write about time, I'm going to write about what I have learned during this time. Of course I won't be able to include every single thing because I am still learning and suspect that I will be for some time, but it's at least a start.

I have learned...

...that the hospital is more happening in terms of social activity than the local bar. Well, for the 65+ demographic, that is.

...that my dog has [update: had, we've had a bit of a lapse as of late] a bladder of titanium. One day/night he spent 15 hours straight in his crate [I know, it's terrible...I have guilt] and I came home to let him out afraid of what I would find. I found a dry crate!! He's the greatest dog in the world.

...that visits from friends in hospital waiting rooms at all hours of the day or night provide a level of comfort that cannot be quantified.

...that a hot topic is AARP Magazine is how to handle a Facebook addiction. I wish that I was making this up, but not even I am that creative. How do I know the contents of AARP magazine? Please refer to the first lesson learned.

...that the human heart has the ability to break with sorrow and burst with joy simultaneously.

...that it's ok for a heart to burst with joy even in times of sadness.

...that if we cannot laugh in the midst of a storm, then we cannot do much of anything.

...that there is a genuine goodness in people that comes out in unexpected ways when they see others are suffering.

...that I need to be more giving of my time, resources, and love to others who are experiencing grief and adversity.

...that God is good. Always. [Ok, maybe I already knew this, but I still believe it even after losing a parent.]

...that when a loved one dies, those of us left behind have to adapt to a new normal.

...that I thought I knew what it was like to really miss someone. Now I'm gaining a whole new perspective on this matter.

...that we have two options when in the midst of a storm: stand still and drown or keep walking through it. I choose to walk.

...that I am not really walking at all. I am being carried. [Please refer to the Footprints poem that potentially hung in a prominent place in your home during the 80's if you don't understand what I'm talking about....or maybe that was just my home that had a framed copy hanging beside my baby pictures]

...that I am still learning as I go.

Sunday, June 14, 2009


I'm really going to miss my Daddy. He fought very hard for 12 long days and nights, but he was tired, so tired. I'm happy to report that he isn't tired anymore. But sadly for all of us, this means that he is gone from this world. Very early this morning, he passed away peacefully surrounded by the people he loved and was loved by as we told our favorite "Mike Stories".

It's a hard thing...watching someone you love with all of your heart die. Especially when that person once stood 6'4" and was the strongest person in your world. Even though it's the natural progression of life for a parent to pass away before a child does, it's also natural for a child to expect that his or her parents are always going to be there because they are mama and daddy and when nothing else in the world is constant, your parents are.

Selfishly, I'm thinking about all of the things that I still need my daddy for. Who's going to ask me if I have checked the oil in my car lately?...Or call me in the middle of a TV program just because he knows that I'm really into the show and he likes teasing me?...Who's going to ask me about my "little 65 pound lap dog" that is just perfect for a one bedroom apartment?...Or show me his latest YouTube discovery?...Who's going to give me away on my wedding day?

My daddy loved little people. [Not vertically challenged people, but kids.] He was never happier than to just sit and watch kids play or pick at them in his good-natured manner. I cannot tell you the number of little girls he has thoroughly confused by asking them what their name was before they got married. He would have been an incredible grandfather. I'm just sorry that my children will never get to know their Grandpa Page.

While on the one hand I feel absolutly cheated and robbed of so many memories that I never got the opportunity to make with my daddy, on the other, I feel so fortunate to have had him for the years that I did. The Friday night "dance parties" that he, mom, and I had when I was a teeny little girl. He played DJ while Mama and I would dance up a storm. My daddy never got the chance to see the Laser Show at Stone Mountain. It's not that we never went, it's that once we got there, I would freak out over the fact that there was going to be fireworks at the end so Daddy always carried me back out to the car because I was so scared. He was my softball coach for years and he treated all of the players as if they were his own girls. Softball was what we did. It's how we bonded. I never been more thankful for those times than I am right now. As I sit here and think back through the years, it's like a flood gate of memories has been opened and now they are all spilling out at a rate so quickly that I am afraid I will forget them.

In these 30 years, I learned so much from him. He always said when I was growing up that one day I was going to realize just how smart my dear ol' dad was. You know what? He's right. He was a smart man. Even though I never came right out and told him that, I hope he knew that I thought so.

My daddy was a funny man. My humor is what it is today because of him. Mama always said that Daddy only teased me because he loves me. So often he showed his love through humor.

My daddy was a family man. He loved us. How he loved us. And this I think is the hardest part...because when you really love someone, these are the people that you take for granted. You say things that maybe you shouldn't say. Or don't say things that you should say. How I wish that I could have just one more conversation with him. I remember the very last thing I said to him on the Sunday afternoon as I was leaving to go back to Athens before he was put into the hospital on Tuesday. And it breaks my heart to know that what I told him I needed for him to do can never happen here on this earth. My heart also breaks to look at my baby brothers tell their daddy goodbye and say to him again that they love him. It's is terrible to watch my mama grieve the loss of her teammate...her soulmate...the love of her life.

My daddy was a tired man. He has been sick for a very long time and a physically weak body can only last for so long. I know it pained him beyond measure to not be able to do the things that used to do. I know that he has not really felt like himself for a number of years now. I know that he probably had so much regret because he got sick really as a result of a decision that he made when he was a teenager. [Public Service Announcement: If you smoke, please stop. Now. For the sake of your family. And your lungs.] Yes, my daddy was a very tired man in the end. He had been fighting hard for days and he was always such a hard worker in general when he was still physically able. But my daddy is not tired anymore. He is at rest on this earth, but alive and well and enjoying quite a welcome home party in his new forever home. I don't know if overalls fit the dresscode in Heaven, but I like to think that he had a brand new pair waiting for him once he got there.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

The Year of the Dog

One year ago today, I took on a new role: Master. Perhaps I should say that in theory I took on a new role, but this little pup had me wrapped around his paw from the beginning.
I actually started this blog post last night, but earlier today when I was finishing it up, I hit some random computer key and for whatever reason, all of the content disappeared into the Bermuda Triangle of the blogosphere. I love it when things like that happen. All that to say, this is kind of the Cliff's Notes version of my original post. Honestly when I got Cash a year ago, I had no idea what in the world I was getting myself into. Sure I had read a book on Labrador Retrievers, but I quickly learned that there is a pretty significant difference between theory and application.
Over the past 12 months I have lost shoes. I have lost sleep. I have lost pillows. Some days I felt as if I had nearly lost my mind. Were it not for a little place called Pawtropolis, I probably would have. Of course it's perfectly natural for you out there reading this to scoff at the concept that is Doggie Daycare. I will admit that I absolutely rolled my eyes at the thought of it before getting Cash. Suddenly though when I found myself with a 30 pound (and getting bigger by the millisecond) Lab puppy in a one bedroom apartment rainy day after rainy day, it seemed like the greatest idea known to man. I'm not so sure that Cash and I shared the same sentiments initially.
Cue Sarah McLachlan music please because doesn't he look like an ASPCA poster puppy in that picture? Fortunately after a few trips to Mike Vick's training camp, he began to force friendship upon the other dogs.
Just as I swore that I would never send my dog to doggie daycare prior to actually getting one, I also swore that Cash would never sleep in my bed. What can I say? It got really cold in December and he made a great foot warmer. Whenever I got Cash, I really wanted him to be a highly socialized dog that played nicely with his canine compadres as well as with people. I think that he's done pretty well thus far.
While he certainly loves other dogs and people, one of his very best friends from the very beginning is yellow and round.

His love for tennis balls is quite abnormal. In fact it's quite embarrassing at the dog park when all of the other dogs run up to him wanting to play and he stays intently focused on the tennis ball. I just call him Rain Puppy when it happens. He is quite talented though in that now he fetches them two at a time. Stupid Pet Tricks, here we come! The [first] year of the dog has been quite an interesting one. While I have lost a few things, this stuff pales in comparison to all that I have gained. I have gained more patience. I have gained an understanding of the importance and necessity of consistency. I have gained a forever friend.

[Note: I had a really hard time picking out the pictures for this posting so if you want to see even more pictures of quite possibly the greatest Chocolate Labrador Retriever, in the whole wide world, click here.]

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

A Trifecta of Tragedy

You know, I've had some time to think about it and I've come to the conclusion that words are so subjective depending upon the circumstances. For example...tragedy.

Let's see how our friend, Webster, defines it. Tragedy: (noun) a lamentable, dreadful, or fatal event or affair; calamity; disaster

On Monday morning, I suffered a tragedy: My toenail fell off. Look, I understand that this is absolutely gross information that everyone would be perfectly fine not knowing, but it's my blog...I'll discuss my physical ailments if I want to. I immediately thought about [and discussed with my co-workers...sorry y'all] how in the world I would ever make it through summer sandal season with a nail-less toe. [Vanity - quite the stronghold, indeed.] I won't bore you all with the gory details of why I was considering the possibility of having a Lee Press-On nail glued to my second toe, but let's just say that I knew what I was talking about when I said that Music City and Zumba don't jive. Tragedy.

Early Tuesday morning, tragedy struck yet again: My dog ate a ball of aluminum foil that PeeWee Herman would be envious of. [Time-out: If you were a child born in the very late 70's or early 80's and do not remember the foil ball from PeeWee's Playhouse, I regret to inform you that you led a sheltered life. Or your parents just had the sense enough to not allow you to watch that ridiculous show.] Back to the tragedy. I was going through my usual morning routine and I thought that Cash was still piled up like the lazy dog that he is in my bed. Wrong. He had somehow gotten into the trash bag [that lives in the laudry room off the kitchen] and dug through until he found a bright and shiny object. I'm sure the fact that said aluminum foil was the wrapping for my baked sweet potato from dinner the night before only made this find more valuable. By the time I figured out that he was not in my bed, but was instead laying in the dining area with shards of foil around him while licking his chops, I knew that the damage had already been done. So I called Mom to get her perspective regarding how much damage some tin foil could do to a dog's insides. Because moms know everything, right? Tragedy.

Then after I got to work on Tuesday morning, tragedy struck yet again. I got a voice message from mom on my work line that went something to the effect of this: "I just wanted to let you know that Daddy is breathing, but we are on our way to the Emergency Room." Because that's what every daughter loves to hear from their moms who know everything, right? As I type this at 3:15 AM from the waiting room of the hospital in my hometown while my youngest baby brother is sleeping in two chairs that have been pushed together and my oldest baby brother is laying in the floor curled up like a little boy next to my mom, my dad is undergoing dialysis and is in a fight for his life. He was admitted into the hospital because he is suffering from a very severe case of pneumonia. Oh and while it's not some random strain of Swine Pneumonia or anything, he has COPD which makes it much more difficult for his body to fight it off than it would be for those of us with healthy lungs. His pulmonologist Dr. Graves [seriously, that's her name, it's unfortunate], who we know and love very much from his last little bout with pneumonia and respiratory failure a couple of years ago, came and spoke to my family tonight. All the time I was thinking "wait, I'm not supposed to be one of those family members that the doctors and nurses look at you with a forlorn expression as they say the words that you never want to hear." We are taking this hour by hour and to be honest, his doctor has not given us much hope. She said that it will be amazing if he makes it through the night. Tragedy.

Suddenly my toenail doesn't look so bad after all. When I went to my parents' house to let Cash out about 2 hours ago, he was wagging his tail and jumping up and down because he was so happy to see me. Apparently aluminum foil is easily digestible. It's amazing how one's perspective can change in a moment. When I woke up this morning [ok, technically now it's Wednesday morning but I'm still referring to Tuesday morning because I haven't been to bed yet], I did not have "possibly losing my father" on my to-do list. Instead I was going to get my oil changed and have my breaks checked, vacuum out my car, and clean my apartment. Those are much more appropriate for a to-do list if you ask me. It turns out that those things are going to have to wait because I'm in a bit of a tragedy right now. But do you know what? Somewhere in this crazy world someone else is experiencing an even bigger tragedy.

And this is what I'm learning about tragedy. It is accompanied by victory. Like for example, I'm not going to have to have a Lee Press-On nail put on my toe because the new nail had already begun to grow in before the old one even fell all the way off. Victory. There was nothing shiny, metallic, and slimy all over [again, gross, I know, but it's the reality of owning a dog] in Cash's crate when I went home to let him out earlier. Victory. It's 3:44 AM and my daddy is still hanging in there. His heart rate is stable. His blood-oxygen level is high. His blood pressure remained stable when he underwent dialysis. Other things started to improve even before the dialysis. Victory. Small, Hour-by-hour victories, but victories nonetheless.

Another thing that I'm learning about tragedy is that when it strikes, people respond. I am once again humbled beyond belief at the outpouring of love, support, and prayers that has been bestowed upon my family. There are people praying near and far. I'm amazed and comforted because I feel absolutely surrounded by care and support. And I know that I am. It's a good feeling. There is nothing that I can do physically to make daddy better. Micah is willing him to live with more determination than I've ever seen come out of his little 11 year-old body. Mom's faith is absolutely amazing. God is in control of this seemingly out-of-control situation. Victory.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Tuesday's Child is full of Grace.

Sixteen years ago today my world was forever changed...I became a sister. I remember the day just like it was yesterday. It was my last week of 8th grade. I had just turned in my Algebra 1 final exam when someone in the front office interrupted Mrs. Haley's class and called my name over the intercom. I was expecting it to happen at some point during the day because Mama had gone to the doctor that morning and the kid was already 6 days late. I, being the semi-nerdy kid with red [yes, red, not brown] frizzy hair and tortoise shell glasses that I was, was just relieved that I had finished with my test before Daddy got there to pick me up.
Honestly I can't remember how I felt on the car ride to the hospital, but I do remember how I felt in the first weeks after I learned that my only child world was about to be rocked. I cried. A lot. To my defense, I was in the 8th grade (with frizzy hair and tortoise shell glasses) and that's not the greatest time during one's adolescence anyway. My parents should just be relieved that this new addition did not result in heavy therapy costs for their first born. I should probably clarify something now so I don't come across sounding like a total only child - when I was a little girl, I would beg for a baby brother or sister. I can remember begging my mom for one and she always told me that I had to ask Jesus for one. So then I would pray for a baby brother or sister so that I would have someone to play with me. You know, for when my parents were doing those boring adult things like discussing their day with each other after dinner or napping on Sunday afternoons. But eventually as the years went by and I grew older, I adjusted quite nicely and decided that being an only wasn't so bad after all. Of course I was always a little envious of my friends who had siblings just because it was apparent that there was some sort of bond there that I would never really know, but Mom, Dad, and I spent a lot of time camping and hiking on the weekends, and they were both always at all of my games or banquets or recitals whereas families that have multiple children often have to divide and conquer which results in missing out on something. [Obviously we did not spend much time on my ability to write smaller sentences that are not run-on's.] Whatever anxiety or uncertainty that I had about adding a new member to my family prior to Ethan's birth pretty much vanished as soon as he was born. I loved him the first time I held him. Then when he came home from the hospital a couple of days later, it was like he had always been there, and I couldn't really remember what our home was like without him in it. Our family dynamics had definitely changed but it was for the better. I didn't really mind that it took literally a sweet forever to get ready to leave the house to go anywhere and more often than not, we would be finally on the way out the door and he would yarf all over himself or one of us. Ethan has always been a charmer with his big blue eyes and smile that will melt even the hardest of hearts so I could never stay too upset with him for very long...even if he did ruin my favorite sweater. Unfortunately I did nothing to prepare my parents for raising their second born. He is a risk-taker. He will question authority. He chooses to beg forgiveness rather than ask permission. Some might argue that he's just a daring boy, which is true. Regardless of our differences in personality, he's a good kid who has made good decisions thus far in life. I just pray that he keeps making them as he enters this oh so tumultuous time of teenager-dom. Mom and I were talking this weekend at his ballgame about how he's changing so much and she put it perfectly when she said that there is a man inside a little boy's body trying to fight his way out. So of course I told her for the umpteenth time that she just needs to read Wild at Heart and it will make her life so much easier, but according to her she never has any time to read. Excuses, excuses...I can't help it she chose to have another child 5 years after Ethan was born. I've been asked more than a couple of times about why my parents waited so long to have more children. The truth is that having three children in a 19 year period was nowhere in their plan. Ideally they would have had another child when I was about three or so. Looking back I cannot imagine how hard it must have been for them to go all those years with me begging for a sibling when they wanted another child more than anything too. However the timing of Ethan's birth is a true testament of how God's time is always the right time. The best time. On time. Only God had the foresight back in the early 80's to know the challenges that our family would endure over about a 7 year period with dad's business. I don't know that they could have afforded another child. [I know they couldn't have considering my love for shoes and purses developed at a very young age.] Sure, it made absolutely no sense at the time. Yet in the overall grand scheme of things, we don't have the ability to see more than about 5 minutes into the future. [Thank goodness.] But now, 16 years later it makes perfect sense that my parents would have their first two children 14 years apart. I think we all question God's timing at least once or twice [or 452 times] along the way. Or maybe I'm the only one with this inquiring mind. Sometimes it's hard to see past the present when I am seemingly stuck in a holding pattern, but that little boy who I now have to look up to in order to see his big blue eyes [and perfectly tanned skin and straight hair...not that I'm jealous or anything] is a great reminder that the wait is always worth it.

Happy Birthday, buddy. Your big sister [who according to you always tries to act like your mom] loves you very much.