Tuesday, October 14, 2014
My Cancer Has Extra Gears? No Shit?
Damn, here I find out that my cancer, Baxter, has extra gears. The Son of a Bitch grabbed one on Saturday last and I didn't notice until the legs cratered on Sunday, and I'm STILL not recovered. What the fuck is this shit? I don't get a break, a pause, a reset of Kings X. Just go on and do my best. I'm here to tell you this pisses me off so badly that my best is way compromised. He's got my ass firmly hitched in now. I don't get the opportunity to fight him fair like I did, because he draws his strength from me like the parasite he is. At one point, anger worked for me. Okay, for a long time anger worked for me. Then it was more subterfuge, where in I'd work around his machinations and catch enough rest I'd be good for a month or so before he kicked back up. Not now. Since Mid-September, Baxter has been getting the upper hand. Saturday last he got a big handful and stole a good chunk of my leg strength. He seems to know that's where all my fun generates. Cooking, walking, taking a shower or a leak, it's a damn challenge now because simply standing still makes me want to fall. I will not allow that of course. But I can't stand like I want, in order to do the things I like. Those things include sharing of myself. The cooking stuff. Drawing the lay out for this damn homemade trach tube that my Dr's and Nurses can't get their heads around, and keep bringing me useless stuff because they only see the hole, not the entire distance of chin to hole, which has a giant compression hole in my chest. Exactly where the Trach collar attachment points sit. My tube stays off that spot, and is more dry. I've worn myself out saying "Look, dammit, this is no good". Perhaps this time.
So, Baxter wades in, jumps my shit, gets a couple of really good shots and gets me to one knee by Sunday afternoon. I am more than just a little taken aback. I used to get a bit warning, so I could back up my defenses and take him head on. He's a skilled brawler. Not a fighter, fighters have plans, Baxter and I brawl. Every time I've fought a fight "with rules", I got my ass kicked. Let me brawl, even you big guys better support your knees, ankles, throat, and eyes, because I like those. And I like being in close where your strength and size become less an asset and somewhat more a hindrance. I'm around 95% win doing that. Against normal foes, but not Baxter. The big reason is, Baxter is my own cells parasitically eating away at me. And he has a great straight right. Being mostly blind in my left eye helps that right hand out. It's how Tracy Sanders beat the piss out of me in High School. That and I don't think you could hurt Tracy then. Two Dislocated knuckles, one broken finger, swollen right arm from my wrist to shoulder, left elbow so swollen I couldn't drive left handed. I think he looked just fine LOL!!!!
So, anyway, Baxter has my legs, and I'm not so sure how to get them back, or at least enough to have fun on my 54th Birthday. One of those things I wasn't supposed to see.
So, now let's work on how I've lived this life the way I've done it, with a very few regrets and a sense of satisfaction. Along with that, though, is my taking on a lot of "It's My Fault" and "I'm Not Good Enough" and placing that dead center of myself. As far back as....eight or ten?...yeah, about that. Why? Because to me, learning how to lead, be objective, attack that which needs attacked, and all the things that need some guidance won't get better unless I get better and fixing them. And to myself, that means being 50 times harder upon myself than others. I've been accused of being far too hard on others, but it would be a mistake to do that and not look how hard I've been upon myself to get us to X instead of stuck on Y. Some of this also meant that I carried a lot of blame for mistakes in the field where ever I've worked. So, mount up and we'll jump into the Rabbit Hole, if you've got the balls to ride there with me.
I don't remember when this "I've got to be leading this band of asshole, or bad shit is gonna happen" began. I'd like to say it was on the Section Ranch in Russell County Ks. There, I got handed the responsibility of ramrodding myself and no other help, to feed and care for 80 head of registered Angus Cattle. I got paid around $2.50 a month. The horse paid $3something a month, and was much easier to keep track of and was easier in his care. After we got his hooves fixed up, WAY easier. The cattle's owner, I suspect now, insured his herd way to the plus side of profit. He had a great bull. Mid sized, heavily muscled, but not so big his calves were a danger to his breeders. I'm out fixing fence on stone posts, something I'd never done, I was madder that a badger in a bee hive, and wasn't going as fast as I thought I should. The damn bull got through a loose spot and hung his dick up on a strand of barb wire and broke it. I actually asked around, and supposedly there was a guy in Claflin that could fix it. I called the owner. He and his grandson's came out, shot and killed the bull, then put this oversized bull in. He lost 6 cow/calf pairs that next spring from the calves being so much to large to birth without help. Something I didn't know how to do either. I cussed myself for months over that. For not knowing how to save the calves and mothers. But more for not jumping his ass out over it. I believe that's when it started. It turns out, when an 11 year old boy, backs down a couple of 20 year old cowboys, it's a bit empowering. As long as being able to clean and fry up six dozen calf nuts for a cook out is always a good thing LOL!
I took an aggressive look to find and read all the things that would help me out. Lincoln, Jefferson, Adams, Plato, Socrates. Books like the Pathfinder, Natty Bumpo, The finding that these men also believed in a sacrifice that would bring them closer to a greater good I found inspiring. I could not, though, find the direction in which they lead, but didn't beat themselves to death doing it. Now, in retrospect, I skipped over that. I needed it in order for my psyche to assimilate the information and make it useful to myself. It's how I'm wired. It's a part of me I can fix now, but was actually working upon that right ahead of Baxter dropping his rotten ass back into our lives. I needed to be stronger for people, I recognized around the time I turned 23 or 4. I honestly loved my first wife. Bad shit happened, and I got my "I don't lose" face and dived in to get custody of my children. Which I did. I got attacked half a dozen times, and half a dozen times I let it slide. Not because of fear, but because I had to be above reproach. I was, as best I could be. The last of those old scores was cleared out in Sept of 2012. I only broke his foot, but I believe he remembered me, as we spoke at the back of his car in the LK at 15th and Western. I was not proud of that, but it was an affront that needed repaired.
In HS when I wanted to race, I left town. Wanted a fight? Left town. Wanted to drink and play cards, I stayed in town and played with my friends. The State Highway 160 is a great highway to race more than 20 miles at a time, since anyone can make a car fast over a 1/4 mile, those long races with turns, stops, and towns are more of a challenge. Didn't win them all, but enough to keep the Monte Carlo in tires and shocks. Guymon OK was always a good place for a brawl. So that was fun. These are a couple of ways I kept stock of myself. I woke up one morning and thought "What the fuck are your doing? This isn't how it's supposed to work, bone head!" But, after the divorce, getting custody of my children, meeting and marrying Elizabeth Ann Cook, my life took a change that I certainly enjoyed. She is my living spirit guide. I've got around three or four hanging with me daily. They are Spirits, not living. Liz is my living guide. She slows me down enough to let me settle myself to repair damage Baxter is doing. The others? Well, they hang out and we laugh. They make the dog nervous. Even though I was having trouble with temper, still. To this day my temper is my bane.
Now we are in West Texas. To me, I've thrived here, and I believe Liz has as well. We've made many friends, good money, and a way of life far from family. It's that part, that makes us who we are as a family. We've had to make many decisions, good and bad, alone. No one was close enough to rush out to help. We're good at this now, and I'm so proud that Liz is so comfortable doing what she must to see us through. Sadly, because there was a time when I set things up and walked off to see how they fell. It, at times, was painful for Liz. She had nothing to worry about, because she's smarter, stronger, and more adaptable than I am. All this "Too Hard On Yourself Rock" paid off, but it also left me a bit less adaptable to some situations. That's sad, and I was beating myself to death to fix that, and was doing okay until Baxter came back.
So here's how this worked from say, 1998 to 2012. I'd given and discussed "IF" by Kipling, and the Ten Commandments with all my kids, when I thought they could understand it enough to make them work for them. The Ten Commandments, those are easy to follow. What Kipling puts up? That is nearly impossible to follow closely, and my hope was to hit it close to the mark. My kids can do that incredibly well. I'm impressed with their resolve and desire to be themselves, individuals not driven by the crowd, but driven by themselves to succeed at what they do. I hope all of you realize what a difficult challenge that is, for anyone. They are hitting that mark so often they are gonna need a new target soon. For me, the place I've landed is forcing my sinew to "Hold ON!, since Baxter is chewing on them now. Baxter's own resolve is just to eat away, like the foolish parasite he is. My body dies, so does he. I don't have to make it easy for him.
This is where I believe I let my family down. If so, it's a egregious fault, and one I hope I can fix. I looked around and noticed so many of our young men at work, and their friends, had no guidance, or seemingly a way to find it. I couldn't let that go for some reason. I saw so much potential in these young guys (ten years is younger than me, folks) that I thought we could do so much good for the field, the company, and the men themselves if I could sneak that in sorta. I checked the family, they were so set and secure in the way they acted and presented themselves, I figured that they could meet anything thrown at them and kick it's ass. Two incidents I helped them with. Sarah was being bullied. She learned how to throw a couple of really hard punches. Plus "Dad's Fighting Axiom: Can't Breathe, Can't See, Can't Fight", along with my number on speed dial, it served her well. Same thing with Chance, they defended themselves honorably, and never called me. One thing came around, but that was taken care of by Daddy on the dark side of the alley. No one heard about it.
What I did was this. I made copies of "IF", laminated them, gave them out. l assumed the leadership mantle the only way I knew how, by accepting the blame. I let Captain Temper loose, since that particular brand of anger was what sold the deal. It cost us an incredible amount in money and position for myself. The raises didn't stop, but getting a raise on the heals of a promotion would have been great. This is the kicker, now they had something to look at to see how NOT to get ahead. I spent a lot of time under the self assessment microscope of my own. I felt I was doing that which is right. I tried NOT to throw these guys down, but for God's sake some people just can't see the forest for the trees.
Don't get me wrong, Oh My God we had a good time. Lots of laughter, we got a lot of work done all over the lease, simply because we shot the shit about how to make much of the time we had as a full crew to fix the small stuff that becomes the big stuff. I took relief pumper chores as time went along, because it's hard to assess a person if they aren't making the the majority of the decisions on a portion of the lease. These all started to show fruition in the late to mid and still moving forward 2000's to date. I'm incredibly proud of the guys. We've had talks, we've had yells, we've had damn near come to blows, but in the long run, we made differences that count. That's the aim, isn't it? Be better than you think you can, and do what needs to get done with the least pain and anxiety.
It cost me precious time with my family. I often ended up between the rock and the hard place, but was able to work around that with some help, and hit my stride out the other side. My boss, I, my Sr Pumper, and engineering staff put together an Instrument Tech position I believe should be the standard for Techs. Yes, truly it's that fucking good. It's heavily intensive on failure, fixing those, making the units run less and slower. It was tons of work, and I stand proud of what we did. The shame is I only had it a year. 80hrs a week. Crazy, but worth it.
My men, some of the best Company men walking the oil field. You boys need to stand up and pat your own backs a little, by God. You've done so well, and I'm more than just a little proud of you.
There are things I'll never share. Not with Liz, this blog, or anyone for that matter. At the time, it was something I felt I needed to do, several of those things weren't at all what I needed to do, but the road was easier on that corner. The lesson there is "Easier is Not Always The Right Road. Look closer". In the long run, it worked out, but that's a hard price to pay for just doing it right the first time. As the cancer eats away at me, chews off the physical and frightens my wife and family, I will take the time to show them how they are so much stronger than I, and how they inspire me to fight on against this asshole Baxter. Family, we win!!!
We've not done this, so here we go. Winner's List
Liz Smith: My Wife, Lover, Best Friend, Guide. Honey, you win because you're fearless. You place your anger well, and point to me when I need straightened out. You're on your way to Highland Games Honors. Throw the piss out of that big iron baby!!! I get chills watching you
Sarah Smith Holmes: Winner, for being strong, squared away, and looking to better your self and your family. Help keep the old man awake long enough to meet the new grandson
Addison Gates Smith: Winner. Watching my tender hearted, caring youngest daughter help Dad change his pain patches put a lump in my throat. It couldn't have been easy for you, and I know you did it because you could. You follow you heart, and don't ever stop. Don't let it get too hardened either. We all need a soft hearted person in our lives
Chance Rockwell Smith: Winner. At 25 I was no fucking way lined out like you are. You've a wife and step son, and that's a hard road. You've taken a new job, hard to do my son, but you did it with style. Remember, Steph is your Gift, treat her as such. She'll lead you across those dark nights and scorching days, if you relax and let her
Declan Hunter Smith: Winner. My youngest son. Wanting to please me and make me proud. Don't work so hard at it, Dec, you're there. You've already made big adult decisions this year. What you have left is what your brother and sisters have left to do as this goes on, comes to and end, and you step in to share the Family Leader Shoes with Chance. You grab your life with both hands, pull it right up to your face, and say "My Life, bitch, My Rules. You live according to me, not what you can through at me". That gives you, all of you, Amour De La Vie. Love of life is the greatest gift I can give all of you. God Almighty I hope I've gotten us there, because I've had one hell uva ride, and I'm waiting to see what comes up next.
This is your burden I put upon you, my family. It's not tough, really, so relax
(1) Don't accept status quo, improve a bit every day.
(2) Anger does not win here any longer. That's Dad's problem you don't need. Maybe sometimes
(3) Visit with each other a LOT. Never let anything unsaid between you all
(4) You are my Gifts directly from God. I love you as such, and hope I've done well for all of you.
(5) This is where you all shine as people, individuals that form a family. You're all important pieces of this puzzle that is family. Together, unstoppable. Never forget that.
Love you all.
My big surprise is how much I care for the young men and families I've met. Startled me way back in '09. Keep up the good fight, it never ends