Well, I had to take a break and go to get lymphedema therapy, and when I got back home I reread what I'd written, hated damn near every word and shit canned the whole deal. This is my "Do Over". Why a "do over"? Simply put, because I fucking can, so there. That's in part, true, and in part not so true. Yeah, it's my blog, so I can set the rules, but it's also in how I had shit so jumbled up even I couldn't decipher what in God's name I'd written. I have got to stop trying to write or do much of anything if I've had a hit on the old sublingual Morphine bottle. If I don't, then what is often my thought is entirely different and indecipherable when it hits the page. Not so odd given it's nature to begin with.
It's been a weird Christmas/ New Years season for me this year. I was really looking forward to Christmas and New Years, then to get hit with a wicked assed infection in a spot where I'm fairly positive the Infectious Disease PA at MD Anderson thought they saw a spot, only to have it not be there eight days later on sonogram or CT Scan either one. Well, we all thought it was just a little water taking up space where they cut a tumor off my carotid artery. When I get a chance, I'll ask someone to see if an infection can lie dormant and kick off again if something triggers it. Wouldn't that be some shit now, huh? So we got that healed up, but man, it stole a lot of my energy and drive for the next 7-10 days. To be on the safe side I'm taking another seven days of antibiotic. That being said and done, I had a blast watching the kids (six year old Bo, along with the 27 yr old, and the 19 and 15 yr old babies of mine) open gifts. It really was one of the most fun Christmas's I'd had in a long time. It made what may be my last Christmas a true pleasure and joy. Having the Oldest Son and his family come visit for 4 days was really nice as well. I'm glad he's found someone that he's comfortable around (which means he's comfortable with himself, first. no easy feat there), and who also loves his company as well. And whose son has taken to my son like a daddy and friend both. That's damn nice for both of them.
I had, at one time this morning thought about putting in some of the stories of my Great Granny Wilson and other family members just for something fun to do. I'm still kicking that around, so don't jump ship on me yet. But, there's the physical and mental stuff to go over and get out of the way first and foremost. Without further ado, here we go: The infection that came on so fast and had my neck so swollen may have been a hide out kinda of thing. Only kicking in when everything was just right. Star Trek stuff that. I wish now that I'd taken a sample of the damn stuff so Hospice could have gotten a decent look at it from a lab point of view. My hindsight has always been way better than my on site decision making. But I think that's the norm, isn't it. I've had some honest to goodness pain in the right side of my lower jaw, which makes since because it's the only part of my jaw that's left. I'm hoping it's a muscle thing and not a cancer thing. Man, that would be super painful if the cancer would jump off into my bones, and since it had on the left side of my jaw, I don't see why the right side should get off any easier. Along with that has been a marked loss of my ability to get a good long, deep breath. It seems I was panting more and my heart was just hurtling along trying to get the oxygen to the places that need it. As much as I hate to admit it, the oxygen machine does me a lot of good. My pulse rate is down and my oxygen level is holding pretty steady now. The old cancer is just hop, skip, and jumping along on its own timeline and agenda. That tells me that it's moving along fast enough to make me wonder how much time I really have left. I can't let that bother me though. Okay, that's a pretty good summary of what's going on. Except that the hole in the left side of my neck where that infection burst through is still weeping off and on. Mostly off and on with mostly off the last couple of days.
So, when I was a kid around Thanksgiving and Christmas, depending on where we had the meals and other stuff, I got to see my only surviving Great Grandmother. In fact, Nora Wilson was my only surviving great grand parent, bar none. I don't remember meeting George Wilson, which would be my Great Grandfather. George and Nora Wilson would be my dad's maternal grand parents. I never met Great Grandfather Smith, dad's paternal grand parent. Nor did I get to meet the Rockwell or Green great grandparent's, they were my mom's grandparents. Kind of a drag, because at the time, I didn't even think about recording some of Granny Wilson's stories she told. And that puts me at a terrible loss, I believe. To put it in perspective. We go up and spend weeks or longer orbiting earth. I've seen the guys walk on the moon. Granny Wilson came to Kansas from Missouri shortly after her birth. Her family, the Lewis's were some of the first to leave Boonesborough and go to the frontier in Missouri. Yes, that Daniel Boone. Anyway, they moved into Kansas in a covered wagon. When she'd grown up enough, George Wilson and half of my family was on it's way to being. So, in her lifetime, Granny Wilson got to see aircraft that barely cleared the ground up to Jumbo Jet that can cross the ocean and safely land in less than 12 hours. She saw it go from a travel across the state go from a couple of days to just a few hours. She's seen the world go from full of exotic places to a world that can be reached in several ours and far more safely. In some cases the changes are so dramatic that they might be hard to believe. In her lifetime Granny Wilson saw things change faster than anything happening right now. It's amazing and a bit frightening how the country and world has moved ahead in the last 100 plus years, except we can't seem to get passed the point of trying to kill ourselves off with new and more lethal weapons. Strange isn't it?
Granny Wilson had a brother visiting her, or so goes the story, who brought his two greyhound dogs with him. Granny had caught the dogs coming out of the cool cellar where she kept the eggs so they'd not spoil and so you could eat eggs for breakfast in the morning. I'm not certain which kid was in charge of egg gathering. Depending on the year, it may even have been my Grandmother Mildred. That's kinda cool. Anyway, G Grandpa Wilson was off working someplace and that may have been the norm about that time in history. So, Granny catches the egg suckin dogs coming out of her cool cellar. She snags the 45/70 Springfield, and a couple of shells. She drops both dogs before they know whether what's hit them. It turns out that they are too big for her to carry the rest of the way out of the cellar. There they lay until GPa Wilson and her brother got home. There were some words spoken, according to my dad, but the brother got the dogs the rest of the way out of the cellar and left the next morning himself. Granny Wilson may have weighed a hundred pounds soaking wet. She delivered thirteen children over her life. She lost twins that died of smoke inhalation from a fire at the house. So eleven kids lived. She sent her sons off to WWII and all of them came home. My Grandmother Smith had her two oldest sons in WWII as well, and they both came home. A Marine who did a tour on Saipan as a BAR gunner. Her oldest did his time with the 555th Wolf Pack Anti-Aircraft battalion, across Europe, and saw the horrors of concentration camps.
They way my dad and his brothers and sister (Grandma and Grandpa Smith lost a daughter, but I can't remember from what) were raised would absolutely give the Politically Correct sissies coronary's, but they also learned to be self sufficient. My dads brothers tied him up to a tree once when he was little so he wouldn't tag along with them and their Uncles. I believe Uncle Tubs and Tom were about the older brothers ages. Dad went home, got a 22 rifle and kept them pinned for a while, even when he knew his ass was grass later. Dad also said at one time when he was six or seven, that his oldest brother Bill had done something to piss him off, and I can't remember what it was now. So dad goes to see his mom, my Grandmother Smith, who wouldn't have said a cuss word if her life depended upon it, and asked her "What does (insert slang for sexual congress here) mean?" According to dad, Gma about had a stroke, and asked where he'd heard that word. Dad said "Well, that's what Bill says he's been doing to Billy Clapper" who was a neighbor girl about Bill's age. Yes, Dad fixed Bill's little red wagon that day, but I'm almost positive that Bill got even some how somewhere. Imagine that happening now. CPS would have had all the kids picked up and shipped off to foster homes while the Grand Parents were placed under arrest and would have to fight for custody of their kids. What a crap hole we've slipped into.
I'm going to end this with a disclaimer. The Egg Sucking Dog Caper I got first hand from Granny Wilson a couple of times in 1972 and 1973. In 1975 I got moved up to the "adult" table. It paid to work on a rig when you're only 14, then turn 15 right before Thanksgiving. The "What Does (blank) Mean Paradigm" I heard from Dad a couple of times growing up. Surviving family, if this is wrong anywhere let me know. As much as I hate to admit it, this blog has taken me all day to get down because my chemo brain rerouted so much shit it was hard to dig up the times and places. There are a couple of stories that I will try and relate involving my dad, his best friend in high school and a couple of bonehead brothers that were too stupid to be drafted, but still in high school and picking on a guy, that if my memory is correct, was a little light in his loafers. We'll see how that goes.
Shortly after gaining access to the Big Table at family Holiday Functions, my Grandad Smith had a huge black walnut tree he cut down kick back and break his knee. The Fam goes up to visit and help with some things the Grandparents needed done before it got blisteringly cold. Dad and I had gone squirrel hunting about 200 yards north of the homestead in a set of woods that bordered the north side of Reece Kansas. We walked from Grandad's house into the woods, then East to darn near Harley Bolton's Machine Shop. Harley built his own steam engines to scale using his machine shop. It was neat as hell to go watch one run, and only now when I'm in my 50's do I realize what a great mechanical mind Harley possessed. Building a scaled down version of a steam tractor that actually ran and drove is no small effort. Boy, the shit your miss when you're a kid. Anyway, Dad and I bagged around 5 or so squirrels for breakfast, which of course meant that I got to clean them since I was the youngest hunting. Strange now that shit always went that way. Glance HERE, if you are squeamish move on to the next paragraph NOW. Gandma fried the squirrels, heads and all, and being more than a little perplexed I asked my dad why. "Because we are having fried squirrel, eggs, and biscuits with squirrel gravy. You use the heavy end of your table knife, and crack open the heads and put the brains on your eggs". Bullshit. Bullshit Bullshit Bullshit. I thought that, I wasn't stupid enough to say it out loud. Sure enough, when the squirrels were finished, and the scrambled eggs safely secured upon the plates, dad and Grandpa used the heavy handle on the table knife, cracked the skulls open, and put the brains on their eggs. Not to be left out, and wanting to look like I knew a thing or two myself, I followed suit. It was actually damn tasty. Unfortunately, Grandad Smith died before I got another chance to run down some squirrels for our cold fall morning breakfasts. That was the first and last time I'd had squirrel brains and eggs. I would love to be able to share that time with Dad and Grandpa just once more. (Sigh)
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After breakfast we went out to split some wood for Granddad and split a cord of hard wood for ourselves. I started out with an axe, splitting the really big pieces at least in two. After that, to make them easier to handle and so they'd fit the pot belly stove Granddad had, I was splitting them with a 20lb sledge and a steel wedge. I didn't know that the 20lb sledge hammer was supposed to be really heavy and hard to swing, I was just splitting wood and listening to my dad, Granddad, and I think, Uncle Bill shoot the breeze. Clay was running around there somewhere too, I'm sure. Anyway, after about an hour of splitting wood, the hammer started getting real heavy and I started missing the wedge, or clipping the edge of it. I got the same old, "Dammit, hit it straight on or you're going to get yourself hurt". No shit. Ya think? Wanna swing the bitch for an hour yourself? Once again, it's so very true that it's the thought that counts. What I really said was "okay". I missed the wedge and clipped the side of it. A piece of that steel wedge shot straight up the handle of the hammer and buried itself in the outside edge of my bicep. Ouch. I had taken my long sleeve shirt off and was in a tee shirt. I said "son of a bitch", and dad looked at me. Everyone looked at me in fact. I had this neat little hole in my bicep, and when I set the hammer down, blood took a nice big SQUIRT then started running like a mad man out of the hole. "Go to the house and get a band aid, I'll put away the tools and we'll go to the doctor to see what they can do." I believe there were some G D's, and fucks in there as well.
We got to the doctor, he sprays something on it that at least numbs it up a bit, grabs a small pair of forceps (for all I know they were his roach clip) and dives in trying to get a grip on the piece of steel. And that's what he asks dad. Steel or iron. Steel. Good, he says, because I can play chase me with that all day in his arm and not grab it. We opt to leave it in. Suits me, another really neat scar to show the girls. Here I am, damn near 40 years out from that, and the thing is still cool. You can feel it under the skin of my arm. When I lifted more, it was easier to see and feel since I had far less body fat around it. It set off a metal detector at the Midland Airport. They wanted me. Then again. Then again. Then again. Going over the same spot at least half a dozen times, the rubbing my shirt like they could feel a detention device under a long sleeved shirt. I finally, after 5 tries, got me arm out of the shirt, showed the moron the scar, put his finger on top of the steel, then he wand it one more time. Either he got really excited and came a little, or he got bored, because after it set the wand off ONE MORE TIME, he let us go wait on our plane to Las Vegas. Where, in a strange quirk of fate, I didn't get pulled out of line, but an older Jewish couple did. How did I know they were Jewish? They had concentration camp numbers tattooed into their arms. I wanted to kick that stupid son of a bitch that pulled those two people our of line right square in the nuts so hard, he'd have to sneeze to take a piss.
All right, that's the Long Effing Blog That Got Restarted Twice. I hope it doesn't bore you to death.