I am a very blessed man, no two ways about it. I've been around to see (not remember, because I was a baby) the astronauts fly the Apollo Missions. Watched them land on the moon, I've seen them drives around on the moon. We can all talk about go fast and bootleggers, some of the fun stuff you can do in a car here on Terra Firma, but on the moon? That's two tits. I earned $2 a month taking care of a horse. $2/month and I could ride him all I wanted. I earned $3/month looking after a guys registered Angus cattle. Lost that gig when the nasty cattleman tried to take the nuts my little brother and I picked up. My five tall Mom (I think if she stood on her tip toes) saved the day, and gave the nasty old bastard and his half coward hired hands an old school Irish ass eatin that I'm almost certain would have left scars on a well adjusted adult. Those poor men.
As I got older I was blessed again to work in what I'm seeing as the last run of the old school oil industry. A lot of things really needed to change. It's so much safer now, since I got off the rig floor, outta the derrick, and the away from the brakes, down time from broken bones dropped dramatically. (So as not to be misunderstood, that was a joke. God knows I want to be fuckin A on the money with anything I write these days). We old school (and I'm telling you, it ain't a patch on the real old school) hands that would put on the extra clothes when the snow was blowing up the legs of you over alls. Tie the blocks to the ground so we could pull and run tubing and rods in a wind that was over 25 mph. Worked in snow so heavy I couldn't see the floor from 80' up in the air. I've done some stuff that will never be done again. Cementing fiberglass tubing in different injection wells. Not allowed any longer in any state, I don't believe, since there was no way to check the integrity of the well without an annular blank to test. Pumped in Southwest Kansas, and later in West Texas. It's been a charmed ride, even at times it didn't feel like it. I ended up with a part of the oil patch that I truly loved. Diagnosing wells. I was really hitting my stride, too. Cancer comes back and closes out that era of the oil patch for me. Gladly, there are men that are willing to go out and do the jobs that need to be done. Some of ain't spring chickens, either. Eddie Joe, Tommy Mac, about ten years younger than me, so they're like little brothers? HA!!! The younger guys, Aaron, Steven, Brandon, Josh, those are the guys the future of the oil patch is resting upon. If they take the time, learn the patience (took me for fucking ever) they can make a big time life out of the damned old oil field. Up and down bitch that she is, I never missed a meal, and for the most part have had a wonderful, wild ride. So many friends, lost a few, made some new. It's the party.
Damn, I've got buds that I made when we moved to Southwest Kansas that have lasted close to 40 years. We shoot the breeze (okay, used to shoot the breeze, damn voice is gone for good this time), text, a few have gone way the hell out of their way to come visit me. Some of the people I've reacquainted with on Facebook and at our 30th class reunion. We all looked older, but I swear it was like picking up the phone after you've gone to take a leak. It was like we'd just been on summer vacation and were catching up again during the first week of school. Is that unusual? God, I'd like to think it. It was a hoot. I look back and I see a three or four that I've spent a lot of time with. One in particular that has seen me at my very best, my very worst. John, brother, I'll catch us a nice ride when I hit the other side, amigo. Take your time getting there, I need to scout us something cool to go see. Lately these people I went to High School with, who still keep in touch with me via FaceBook are helping run this Terminal Velocity race. We laugh, I get pissed, they laugh at me, I laugh at me, and through it all, it's one of the best things that's happened since this bullshit with the cancer coming back to kill me. They are all damn decent people. They have big hearts, that's the best park of them. From the friend side of the aisle, I'm not certain I could have done any better.
My best party has been with the woman that helps make me who I am, who I want to be, and how to have a good time. Liz, baby, I'm not going to say much here. Everything that I can tell you, I'll see in your eyes. I can't put into words, not the way I should, to tell you how much I love our life together. This year, 100 years from now, for me it would always be too little time. I'll have a spot, don't rush, I'll have to take my time and make it perfect.
I can't forget the Highland Games people. They are my "New" friends. New because I've only known some of them for about 10 years. Others no where near that long, and yet is seems like I've know all of them for a life time. Some of the people I know, can tell you that I'm a uber competitive person. I hate to lose, bugs me worse than have a knife eased into your side real, real, slowly. When I started back before (mumble) I found and made equipment I could practice with, and hopefully get to the point "I" felt I could hang with the people I threw with. I practiced….hard…a lot. I improved, but not fast enough to suit ME. The other athletes would say, "You've really got your form and technique coming along. You're really improving." Great words of support, right? Damn right they were, and given sincerely. All I could hear, in my mind, was "Fuck dude, you're working at it and getting worse!". It was bullshit, on my part, of course. One morning I woke up and though, "I'm fucking up the one sport I really enjoy, because I only have to compete with myself. Time to back off". I don't know if any other the other athletes will understand, I hope they do, but I quit practicing. I went into the Masters Division. Great Athletes there. Once again I was the smallest man on the field, and this time it didn't bother me! I was having the time of my life. I wasn't looking to beat these guys down, that wasn't going to happen. They are all far too athletic, strong, and determined. They even continued to help me out. Only now, I was only interested in setting PR's. And I did. Several. Then I got cancer. Late September 2008. I text a friend who knows the wife of one of the Athletic Directors. By evening I'd gotten almost 50 text messages filled with support. It was one of the few times I ever sat down and bawled. I didn't realize I'd been anything more than a person to take last place at meets. I was wrong.
I went through all the treatment and every once in a while I'd get texts or calls people kept in touch. I finished all the treatment on February 2nd, 2009. Radiation had burnt my throat so badly I couldn't talk. Like an idiot, I kept after my doctor until the end of February to let me go back to work. I knew also, that the Scarby games were coming up in about 6 or 8 weeks. I contacted Mark Cooper, the AD and asked if it would be okay for me to come play, but that I also let him know it was a week to week thing. "No problem! Come and watch, we'll find something for you". Cool, but I was gonna throw, and he didn't expect that. I called him about the time the money for the games would be due, and asked if I could bring him the cash instead of mailing it. "Sure! We've got a room for you, all you need to do is call when you get here". You got rooms for all the out of town athletes? "Yep, every year". I was so naive I bought that. I show up, the room is great. Mark calls, everything is cool. I had new teeth, I rode the scooter (Fat Girl had 1000 miles on her) and was ready to play.
They didn't expect me to throw. Eight weeks out of treatment, I looked like walking death. I had more fun than a human should be allowed. I got choked up a lot that day. The Scarby actors became my fan club. They all had signs cheering me on. Choke back a tear. It got to the end of the day, I really needed to scoot, but was told I couldn't. They made me athlete of the Games. Choke back a tear. Mike Baab gave me his All Around Athlete medal. I tried to explain there was no way in hell I'd earned THAT. Once again, choke back a tear. Here I was, ready to hang up throwing forever. How the fuck could I even THNK about that now? You guys and all the athletes kept me in when I was ready to quit. I don't have the words to thank you all.
I wish I could name everyone that has been a friend, helpful, cheerleader, and just plain good people. I don't have time left, or room to do that.
I love all of you.
So yeah, Oh the Shit You'll See!! I've seen a lot, and fortunately I've had great friends and family to share it with. I'll keep doing that.
Have fun, hear?