Thursday, December 31, 2009

You Need to Know

Part of my job when Marty has been hospitalized or when we have gone to a new medical setting is to introduce Marty to the providers. I really think that when the caregivers get to know Marty as a person, get to see Marty for who she was, who she is and what she has accomplished they see her more as a person than a patient. I have told her story countless times.

Marty was born in the far west Texas panhandle town of Dalhart. Her father was a meat packer and eventually a farmer and rancher so she really can cuss. Her mother was a stay at home west Texas wife who taught Sunday school in the Baptist Church so she recognizes guilt and sin.

Marty earned her Master of Science degree in Speech Pathology and Audiology at Texas Tech U where we met. Coincidentally this is the same university that just fired the winningest coach in their history for giving a young man two extended time outs (yes, I'm bitter). Marty took her degree and worked in various school systems working with young children as we moved around the state.

Marty eventually went back to school at Baylor University and earned a doctorate in educational psychology from Baylor University. From there she worked at a small foundation in Waco that worked with academic family practice physicians to improve their educational skills. She eventually left that job and began training and eventually began her own personal coaching practice. This was interrupted by the death of her father and finally the two strokes which occurred in April 2005 and January of 2006.

Marty is an academic, a talented musician (could play 5 instruments and sang in numerous choirs and groups), a practicing psychologist (not practicing anymore), wife and mother. Mom seemed to be her best and favorite calling as she took time out of her career to raise our kids. She was/is an amazing parent. She was involved, active, sympathetic and challenging to not only to our children but the other kids we met through our church and our kid's activities. As my wife she followed me around the state of Texas as we moved around the state following a career with TXU. She did not like moving, she never liked leaving anywhere, but she always supported me.

None of what I told all of these providers was intended to deify Marty. I am well aware of her temper, her idiosyncrasies and her sins. It just makes no sense to list them. Besides, much of what Marty struggled with in life, the temper; the sadness has been burned away by the strokes. Just know I know Marty was not a saint, she was a person just like all of us.

What I have always wanted to ensure is that all of the people who meet Marty today know what she accomplished and know what she did with her life. It's worth them knowing and it always makes me feel better to say it.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Simple and Eloquent

Christmas and Thanksgiving have taken on a different kind of feel since Marty got sick in 2005. It just feels different. Part of it may be the time in our life when we are getting older and our kids are starting to have holiday celebrations on their own or with new families. Part of it has to do with not working every day so there is no time off for the holidays, we're already off. Much of the different feel has to do with working with Marty's new normal.

We never really know from one day to the next how Marty will feel or what we may be facing in terms of her overall health. This year has been good, there have been holidays in the recent past where we weren't able to celebrate or be with family because of sickness or just overall concern for Marty's health and safety. Suffice it to say, traditions of the past have been pretty much chunked in favor of working with our new situation and condition.

This year has been really different. The feel of the holiday has been really different. It just hasn't had the real red and green, white light, ribbons and bows feel of past Christmas's. Even with the snow I really haven't broken out in a spontaneous Christmas Carole all season long. I've done the shopping, sent out cards, wrapped the gifts and even cooked a rather dry turkey on my own. It just doesn't have the same feel. That's okay, it's just different.

We are at the lake this year and we both love that. Marty is doing good from a health perspective and we both really love that. We both really like the colder weather, it finally feels like a real winter, and I really like that. We spent Christmas day with my parents and my brother we really enjoyed that time. The day after Christmas we spent a good part of the day with Marty's brother and his family and we really liked that.

Maybe the holidays feel different because there is always the overriding concern for Marty. Maybe it's because we missed Christmas Eve services at our church. Maybe it's because I did virtually all of the shopping on the internet and eschewed the crowds at the mall. Maybe, maybe, maybe....I just don't know. And, yes, I do know the "reason for the season", got all that and have never lost that.

I suspect the different feel is just part of life's passages and that feelings and views change as we get older and as our priorities are altered by life. I also suspect I miss Marty's Christmas verve. She has always been such a driving force in any celebrations in our life. She has always been an integral part in all celebrations. Her spirit, her passion made Christmas for me. Marty’s spirit and passion have obviously changed.

Yesterday before we ate Christmas dinner with my parents, my brother and Renae I asked Marty if she would like to offer grace for our meal. She never missed a beat and without bowing her head or closing her eyes (I know this because I didn't close my eyes either) she prayed very simply, "Thank you for this food and bless us. Thank you for bringing these friends and family with us here today, we really love it". Simple and eloquent.

Christmas 2009 is different. Not worse, not better, just different. Simple and eloquent.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Sam's

Marty and I finally broke down and rejoined Sam's Club after many years. I am really philosophically opposed to paying a membership fee so I can spend money at your store, but where else can you get a gross of pretty good toilet paper?

I always thought, in our marriage, Marty was the spender and I was the saver, Marty was the gas and I was the brakes. But, Marty's stroke has been a clarifying experience for this particular paradigm. As it turns out I really shouldn't be trusted with a membership to Sam's, certainly not without Marty's practicality.

Several weeks back I went to Sam's, alone, to stock up on paper products for our house and for the lake house. The house at Richland Chambers is 20 miles from a grocery store so it's good to keep a copious supply of essential goods in stock. I personally hoard toilet paper, you just can't ever have enough, so I figure let's go to Sam's and get a butt load of t.p., paper towels and whatever else we might need in the event of a nuclear winter. So I took the van with the idea I would just load that puppy up with stuff and make a dash to the lake house to unload it.

Once in Sam’s and after I have passed through the super duper security area I focus on the paper products because: A. you just can't ever have too much of this stuff B.it's not like it ever goes bad and C. running out of toilet paper would be a disaster. I load up my ginormous shopping cart with paper products. A little voice then goes off in my head that we need non-dairy creamer. I think I had a discussion about non-dairy creamer with one of the kids and we decided we should just buy non-dairy creamer for the lake house since its like B above -- it never goes bad and the fresh cream stuff does.

Sam's doesn't have a lot of variety; they just have massive quantities of each product, so I get a big six-pack of a generic non-dairy creamer. Now, keep in mind, I don't use any kind of cream in my coffee so I will never use the stuff. Now, also keep in mind, you only use like a teaspoon for a cup of coffee. I'm guessing we now have several thousand teaspoons of a generic non-dairy creamer. Bring on the nuclear winter.

This is where I need Marty. This is where I need her pragmatic and succinct opinion. I can tell you what it would be, "That's stupid, put it back". She would not have spared my delicate little psyche or ego. "That's stupid, we will never use that much creamer, put it back". That's what I need.

Who knew Marty's direction would be something I would miss or at least something I really need. I thought I was the logical, practical, thrifty part of our partnership. Wrong. I need that objective third party practicality that keeps me from going over the edge on creamer.

I apparently need someone to keep me grounded in places like Sam's or HEB or The Academy or your friendly neighborhood car dealership. I'm telling you we built the lake house because we needed a new microwave for our house in Waco (another story), damned expensive microwave. Marty would have let me replace the microwave, the house, not so much.

Marty has always been the person who kept me balanced, kept me in check, kept me humble. It's taken me awhile to figure out how important that check was and is to me. Occasionally she still straightens me out with a laugh, a look or a question like "how much is that anyway" or "we really don't need that".

Bottom line, I bought the dairy-creamer. We will never use all of it. If we ever have a nuclear winter and you have coffee you should come to the lake. I have enough cream and toilet paper for everyone.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

I Know -- TMI

More news from the colon front, or shoud we say colon back.  Bet you didn't think this would be something you would ever be reading.  Frankly, I didn't ever think I would be sharing colon news.

Actually, it's just a brief story.  I did have a colonoscopy.  If you are over 50, it's a rite of passage and you too should know the joys of the "prep". 

The only thing I can really remember is the doctor saying let's try a test dose of this versed.  The next thing I know daughter Erin and some really nice nurse are trying to get me to stay awake so I can go home.  I don't remember anything, which is great because this kind of experience is high on my list of things unremembered.  Also unremembered that day, how did I get dressed and get home.  Oh well, not to worry.

I got the results back yesterday and everything is just dandy.  I passed this tidbit on to my bride and grumbled slightly because they said I needed to come back in three years, not five.  My wonderful loving wife, who I have supported and cared for said, "Don't worry, you might not even be alive in three years."

Gee thanks darling  what a nice way to end a pleasant discourse on the health of the lower bowel.  But, she's right, I just hope she's not a prophet.

Monday, December 14, 2009

The Pool

Lubbock Texas circa August 1976 -- long ago and far away.

Larry, newly married, young, innocent in the ways of virtually everything, anticipating his new bride's first birthday as man and wife: "Hey, Marty, what do you want for your birthday?"

Marty, newly married, already versed in the art of emotional complications and complexities looking for her new husband to prove his love: "Oh, nothing".

My first mistake and one of my first lessons in loving the opposite sex. Of course I didn't get her anything for her 22nd birthday, that's what she said......right???

We did manage to get past this major faux pas on my part, it wasn't my first and certainly wasn't my last. I'm still looking for my last mistake.

My instincts told me better, my Momma taught me better, but I listened to my man side, you know, the whole "boys are from Jupiter to get more stupider" part of my brain that said to me, "hey, cool, okay, no problem, that's easy enough."

It's a classic case of the differences between Marty and I, and I think men and women in general. I asked what I thought was a simple question. I got a much more nuanced answer than a young man could understand. I hadn't been trained.

I can't tell you how many times Marty and I ended or entered one of our "discussions" with her saying. "I know this is what you really meant and I know this is what you really feel". And me replying, "Marty, really, I'm not that deep." Nuance is not part of most men's psychological make-up. We have to learn emotional subtleties; we have to be educated in nuance.

Look at emotions like a huge swimming pool, maybe even one of those really awful wave pools at a water park. There's the deep end and there's the shallow end. There are smooth times when the water is like glass and rough times when waves are higher than you can see. See, just like real emotions.

Where are the women? In the deep end of course, experiencing the environment, experiencing the emotions, riding the waves up and down and occasionally asking their chromosomal partner to meet them in the deep water of life.

The men, we are standing tall in the shallow end. Sometimes we will get on our back and do the back stroke in the shallow end and maybe, maybe we might even get to where the water is up to our necks, but we always want to be able to stand up with our head out of the water. Treading water (dealing with our emotions or the subtitles of life) is exhausting.

None of this should be construed to mean women and men are that simple. None of us are. We are all different. We all are standing or swimming in different places in the pool, it's a big pool. We all need to be in different places in the pool, but we all need to test the deep waters sometimes.  Marty, bless her heart, dragged me to a lot of different spots in the pool; turns out I can tread water.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

It's Who You Know

All good streaks eventually end. Even the greats like Pete Rose, Bobby Jones, (what happened to Tiger Woods), John Wooden, Sarah Palin (whew) see their string of victories come to an end. We did too. Marty went seven weeks without antibiotics or any infections, the longest she has gone without some kind of medical issue for about four years. Yesterday the streak was broken and the Great and Wise diagnosed a urinary tract infection.


Marty's caregivers are actually the ones that diagnosed the issue. They know Marty, they know what is normal. They recognize changes in energy, smells, sights, the whole gamut. Renae called it on Monday evening and said we needed to see the good doctor. We actually had an appointment with Marty's Pulmonary doctor, Dr. Rosario, Great and Wise Jr., on Tuesday. (By the way, Marty promised to find Great and Wise Jr. a husband so if you know anyone, about 30 and reasonably accomplished, let me know. Whole other post on this).

What follows appears sort of mundane but is why we can't ever leave Waco. Dr. Martindale, his nurses and his staff are what is right about health care and while some of the simplest stuff is extremely complicated for Marty they never flinch, hesitate or do anything but act with kindness, sensitivity and professionalism.

First, we were able to get in on Wednesday, a minor miracle with some docs, not Great and Wise. Second, the man himself always spends an appropriate amount of time with Marty. He asks questions, reviews vitals, listens, hugs (Marty, not me), thinks and uses wonderful judgment in treating Marty. She has an enormous amount of faith in the man, thus the title Great and Wise.

Next comes Toni, the uber nurse. Toni has known Marty for a long time, even before she was sick and so they go back a long way. It's good to have personal history and connections. Toni can and does everything, including some delicate and all together icky procedures that are necessary but frankly more than any man (that would be me) should have to watch. Anyway, we, she got the urine, ran the test and yes indeedy, little Renae was right on, we have a deluxe UTI. Toni says, "The test strip lit up light a Christmas tree".

Next is how do we treat. The good doctor comes in and says antibiotic. He sticks his head back in and says, thanks to consultation with Uber Nurse, let's give her a shot of antibiotics too, and let's get blood, etc., etc.. They work as a team, they talk to each other, they know the patient, what can I say, we have been blessed with the Providence Family Medical team from Great and Wise to Toni, Wendy, Sarah, Candace, Cara, to Angie, Maria, Staci, Annette, and Dr. Lippe ... what a team. Like I said, Waco will be home, and its home because of these kinds of people.

Marty is a complicated patient. Almost anything with or for her takes longer and requires more time, more hands and more expertise. Marty gets better care every day than the vast, vast majority of people in her condition because we have found people who will take the extra time, devote loving hands, and use their God given talents to help her. We are lucky, but we've always been lucky with this kind

Monday, December 7, 2009

Parents and Children

Marty, Nikkie and I had a very pleasant lunch the other day with a long time friend we should call Sue, because that's her name, Sue.


Sue and Pete are great friends of ours. They moved to Waco about the same time we did, joined the same church and have children roughly the same age as ours. They are the family we would ski with; they are the family we accidently ran into in Washington D.C. one spring break. Sue is our designated third party, she is the local name I put down in case of emergency because I suspect Sue could find you anywhere or get almost anything done. I've seen her do it. All those years as a Navy wife paid off for her.

Sue is the mother of three and is the Mother who, when my 1st grade daughter forgot she needed to wear a dress to school for a concert and Erin could not get hold of either of her birth parents, Erin shanghaied Sue to take her home and let her change. Sue is a fellow progressive in the ocean of conservatism that is Waco. Sue and Marty battled adolescence together. Sue is experienced at most everything, or at least all things we can talk about in polite circles. Sue is one of the world’s great conversationalists, always with a thought or opinion.

Lunch was good and somehow we got to talking about happiness and satisfaction in life. Somehow we got to a point where I said, borrowing from a movie quote; we all will always be both children to our parents and parents to our children, always. Marty always liked to call our kids "faux adults". I suspect my parents still think that about us.

When you grow up, whatever grown up is, you might think your parent's influence would begin to wane. I don't think so. Maybe it's Fathers and sons but I will always be trying to earn and maintain my Father's respect, approval and admiration. It's that important to me. Dad never acted like he was ever disappointed in anything I did, but to this day I still measure my decisions with "what would Dad think".

My father-in-law once told Marty and I that as long as children care what their parents think -- you got it made. Me, I always cared what my parents thought of me, still do. I didn't avoid bad situations simply out of moral direction, but I never, ever wanted to disappoint the parental units.

Sue made the point that when you loose your parents part of the "always a child" goes away. She lost her Mother and Father years ago. I don't know, both of my parents are still alive and I don't know if I will ever feel completely grown up. You would think a GrandPa would feel like an adult, I don't...

I suspect Sue is right to a great deal. But, I have to say, Marty's Father passed away about five years ago and I firmly believe he still has a profound influence on Marty. To some degree, I think she has never given up on her quest for recovery out of respect for her Dad. As I've said before, she hears her Father's words in our wind chimes. I once asked what he was saying through the chimes and she said, "Keep trying, I'm proud of you." Alive or not Arty is still with her and she still wants him to be proud of her.

It's a funny thing seeing your children get older and more mature. It's extremely gratifying to see them work at jobs, start their families and move on through life. I would tell both of them that they have the respect and love of their parents. I would say to both of them they meet our approval. I would say to both of them, just as I'm sure my parents would say to me, I know you will make right decisions about most things, most of the time, and when you don't we will still approve of you and be proud of who you are. I say that as a parent and a child.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

An Answered Prayer

We had a wonderful Thanksgiving celebration in Mansfield with my family this year. The whole fam was there and everyone was on their best behavior for Noah Robert's maiden holiday experience. As part of our Thanksgiving tradition my Father either offers a prayer or asks someone to offer blessings prior to the feast. This year he asked me, and of course I was more than happy to pray, even though I have a perfectly good niece who is a student at Austin seminary. I prayed and Noah, already a severe theological critic, gave his own personal blessing.

Since it was a kind of spur of the moment I pulled out my standard kind of prayer. I prayed the basic bless this, bless that, thank this, thank that, nourishment of our body kind of thing, a pretty standard meal prayer. But, like a lot of moments, given more time to reflect and having a certain amount of piety and sanctimony in my soul I would like to offer this revised prayer:


God -- Thank you for all of our blessings. Thank you for the older lives extended and for the miracle of the new life that is Noah Robert Kinard. You have blessed us with the great fortune and wisdom of parents who are still with us and strong and parents who can't be with us but have made our lives better. You have let us see new life and with it the miracle that is humanity. Through Noah, you have given all of us the chance to see how our life will move on, through him, without us, and we thank you.

Thank you for the brightness I see in my wife's eyes. When I told you I could handle all of the work, the worry and the issues with the disabilities from the stroke; but I needed help with the constant medical issues, you apparently were listening. I feel such relief that Marty has been infection free and feeling strong for so many consecutive weeks. I can't remember a time in my life where you answered my prayers like this. What a blessing. Thank you for continuing to bring her happiness and continued healing. There is nothing in this world that makes life better than to hear Marty engage and laugh. What a blessing that we have had these extra years.

Thank you for my children and their love, support and affection. I know it may be wrong, but we are so proud of all of them. We are blessed by their presence and blessed by their choices of partners. We have truly gone from having two children to four and we feel your grace and love in bringing all of them to our lives. Children are not always such a blessing, ours are.

Thank you for seeing us through another year of great turmoil. I see our blessings, I understand how truly lucky we are. You have blessed us with a loving family, caring friends, and wonderful people helping Marty and me each and every day.

Help us as we go on these next days, weeks and months to love each other. Help us to understand that what is important to us, may not be important to you, and that our life should be one of living in a way that honors not our self, our small ideas, or our prejudices, but living in a way that honors your true ideals and wishes for us. My words always feel so inadequate, so the best I can do is say and feel -- Thank you.

Amen and Amen

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Just Venting

In the fair city of Waco there has been a lot of going back and forth about the whole "Tea Party" thing.  There was a fairly recent column in that bastion of liberalism, the Waco Herald Tribune, essentially calling out the "Tea Party" over perceived racism.  Of course there are many replies in the letters to the editor.  What follows is my perception --

I would caution those of you with a more conservative persuasion or who really liked President Bush -- you might find this a bit irritating.  This particular post is but a small diversion for me....just chalk it up to more liberal rant.

The “Tea Party” party espouses many things that make a great deal of sense. They talk about fiscal responsibility, freedom, free enterprise and constitutional rights. They worry about deficit spending and government over reach. They are active, loud and proud of their positions. I appreciate their fervor, if not their ideas


I don’t think I know any of these people, but I don’t think they are full of hate. I don’t think all of their positions are based on President Obama’s race. But, (you had to know but was coming) its’ hard to avoid the inevitable perception that if not race, certainly political affiliation has something to do with their fervor. I do have some questions that might help me with this perception.

I agree with them on deficit spending, it’s been an issue for me for 9 years. Where was the “Tea Party” when President Bush was running up record deficits and letting Wall Street plunder this country? Where were you guys when we had a President commit us to two wars costing thousands of lives and billions of dollars, in debt? Did I just miss the protests and the signs or did you just become aware that President Bush accumulated more debt than all other presidents combined?

Why weren’t you protesting and carrying your flags when the previous administration decided to start eavesdropping on ordinary citizens? You clearly care about protecting freedom, but you guys were apparently on vacation during all of the debate on the Patriot Act and warrantless wiretaps.

Why do you now support a health care system that has nothing to do with free markets and everything to do with letting large corporations decide who gets health care? You say you want to support free enterprise but when large corporations can pick and choose who gets what medicine and what care, you support oligarchy, not democracy.

Why do you, if not embrace, allow groups to co-opt your message with racist signs and rhetoric? Why don’t you condemn this and make sure they are not part of your message? Why would you condemn and rally around keeping a sitting President of the US from addressing school children? Why would you embrace a lunacy that says a sitting President was born in Kenya? Why would you constantly say that a sitting President has a different faith than what he says?

I know you guys are probably very sincere, caring people. People who disagree with you are also caring sincere people. I know you are extremely passionate and patriotic people.  There are people who see things differently than you that are just as passionate and patriotic as you.

These are just some of the reasons some view the Tea Party protests as late, short sighted and disingenuous; at the worst they seem angry, hateful and racist. I just want to know if it’s not about the current President’s race, or if it’s not about party affiliation, where were you nine years ago?

Monday, November 23, 2009

Luck

Yesterday, Sunday, was a beautiful fall day in Waco Texas. The sun finally came out, the winds were quite and it was about 60 degrees. Hands down, my favorite time of year.  Perfect weather and football are hard to beat.

I took Marty outside during the halftime of the Cowboys-Redskins game to take in some of the Autumn while I swept and gathered the leaves on the back patio and porch. We completely made over our back yard a couple of years ago, thanks to Marty's nephew et.al., and Marty really likes being out back when the weather permits (that sounds really old). We now have an abundance of flowers, flowering shrubs, windchimes and wind spinners in our small back yard. It really is something of an oasis.

I enjoyed the brief respite from the game but when halftime was about over I was ready to go back in and suffer with my 'Boys. Bad offense, bad offense, bad offense, scored a touchdown, yea.... I digress. I told Marty I was ready to go in and watch the game. I asked her if she was ready to go in and she said no. I then asked her how she felt about staying outside alone while I watched the game. I told her I would listen if she needed anything and would come and check on her. She said she would be great being alone and to go and watch the game. I really thought she would relent and come inside, I don't know why I would ever think Marty would relent about anything.

Marty sat out back with her Diet Coke just looking at the dog, the flowers, the sky, everything I guess. I went back and forth throughout the 3rd quarter checking on her and asking her if she was ready to come in. "Nope" she said, everytime.

I asked her what she was doing. "Watching."


"Watching what?" I said. "Pretty much everything", she said.


I kept thinking sooner or later she would be ready to come in the house with me. "No" was the consistent response to "are you ready to come in". So, I toddled myself back and froth between Marty and the game and the living room and the patio.


Finally, just out of frustration with the Cowboys I went outside and sat with Marty and we watched things together. We saw the scattered birds and butterflies. We saw Maggie laying in the sun. We saw the trails of a jet across a piercing blue sky. We saw life, that's what Marty was watching. She was enjoying watching life, and I think, being alone, or as alone as I can let her be.


As the game crept deep into the fourth quarter I finally said we have to go back inside and see this game through. I told her I needed her to help me with the Cowboys. She finally relented when I acted pitiful enough.

We sat in the living room as the Cowboys finally came alive and scored the winning touchdown. Marty looked at me as I clapped and she said, "Brought you luck didn't I?" I just nodded and thought, you will never know how lucky you make be feel.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Portraits

I've written before that we kind of gauge our life by the frequency of visits to the doctor, the hospital or the emergency room. It's been almost three weeks since we have been in the immediate presence of "The Great and Wise". That means our life has been rolling along very nicely. It's been a month since Marty has taken any antibiotics. This is the longest I can remember since the strokes. It's been a wonderful respite.



We did go see the good Doctor today just to get a pre-Thanksgiving check up. All appears to be going well, a slightly elevated white count, but not enough to break our anti-antibiotic record. No extra meds for my girl today.



"Great and Wise" and I did come to an agreement that dear Marty is probably due to have portraits done; of her colon. This is otherwise known as a colonoscopy. It is a wonderful life saving procedure that requires a rather interesting, colorful, uncomfortable preprocedure prep; a sense of humor; and some amazing drugs. Versed can be your friend in this particular situation. It makes you forget.



Marty was an active participant in the discussion with Dr. Martindale. Her input was succinct and to the point, "No". She is really not much interested in the old colon pictures. It's okay if they want to do that to me -- not to her. I'm having the same procedure done, on Pearl Harbor day. I suggested we do a twofer, again answer was to the point, "No". Not much fun there. Marty was still saying "No, not gonna do it" in her best George HW Bush impression as we left the good doctors office. I'll try and get pictures to post after we're done, it should be great.



Marty is doing really well. I asked her the other day if she was happy and she of course said she was. I asked her at the same time if she was content, she convinces me every time I ask that she is. Marty is a remarkably resilient woman, colonoscopies notwithstanding, and she has found a way to be content and happy with who she is and what she can do, today. It doesn't mean she doesn't miss who she was and what she could do before; she just lives each day with what she has become. She has always kept me humble, she still does.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

My Friend Charles

Dickens -- "It was the best of times; it was the worst of times." -- this past weekend.




We spent this past weekend at our lake house. All of the kids came down and little Noah made his first sojourn to Richland Chambers. For the first time Marty and I got to spend some extended time with him and just as one would expect, it was the best of times. He was the perfect baby and we both had enormously good times with the child.



It was my daughter Erin's pre-birthday celebration. Erin, Lyle, Matt, Sarah and Noah all came down. Erin, Lyle and I went to Lake Fairfield to try wrestling some redfish into a boat. We did manage to catch a few, but only one keeper. Maybe the best memory was our guide's boat (with us in it) essentially being swamped by waves and sinking. The waves kept coming through the aft (back to you land lubbers) part of the boat and before any of us knew it there was just too much water in the boat. It's never a good thing when the fishing guide and captain of your ship says, "That's kind of scary". We were very shallow and were soon on the bottom, the best of times, it didn't sink far. After considerable baling, pumping and maneuvering we managed to get the boat stuck on a small sand bar. Glad we didn't have to jump overboard our fishing or faithful bwana jostled the boat to and fro and finally floated it. Fishing then recommenced. Memories -- Remember Dickens, the best and the worst.



The worst -- to quote my son, "Noah's never seen the Cowboys lose." He also got to see my Raiders bite the big one too. So, it was a bad football weekend. Okay -- maybe it doesn't qualify for the worst of times but it wasn't as much fun.



The best -- being with my kids. I love them all. They are good people. How better to say it. They are good people. And, I love watching Matt and Sarah be parents. It is incredibly gratifying to see your children with children. It is encouraging to see how good and competent they are. Noah is a very lucky child to have two smart, energetic, caring, loving parents. I am so very proud of Matt and Sarah and love to watch them take care of their child. I also love the part where when the kid cries you can immediately unload them.



Marty is doing great. She loved sitting with Noah, Erin and Sarah in her bed each morning. One evening she sat with Noah in her lap for about an hour. Marty tends to hum anymore, a gift of the strokes. I think it is a G note, but I'm kind of tone deaf. The tone or the volume never changes much, Marty just quietly hums. For the uninitiated it can be a bit disconcerting but for most of us it is kind of background noise. For Noah, I think it was quite soothing, the constant and rhythmic voice. For the longest they sat with Marty humming and gently holding Noah and occasionally giving him back his pacifier. She really liked that, Marty adds that Noah really liked that.



We like being with our family. As I said, our kids are good people and they have managed to pair up with good people. We like that too. We like being at the lake house. We like watching football at the lake house. I would a lot rather see my guys win, but I would rather watch them lose with my family at the lake house than just about anything else.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

8 Pounds


My wife has always been kind of a supreme know-it-all and smart ass. Bright, quick, articulate – all are/were descriptions of Marty. She was/is funny, irreverent and I believe put on this world, among other things, to keep me humble. She certainly has always done a wonderful job at that.




While I was on my recent sinning sabbatical in Las Vegas (good time, lost money, but fought them hard for it) my lovely daughter and her equally lovely significant other Lyle came to Waco to keep Marty company. Lyle is slowly becoming one of Marty’s favorites. He is not afraid of her; he talks to her like she is normal and is always and forever asking questions. Marty likes normal and likes to answer questions..



While they were here Lyle apparently became enthralled with collecting bottle caps from Diet Coke bottles. Diet coke is a subsistence beverage in the Kinard household so one could theoretically accumulate a bunch of these caps. Lyle was most interested in the codes and the come-ons in the caps, thinking there could be much bounty gained through the caps.



Right before Lyle and Erin were to leave for home Lyle couldn’t stand the suspense of not knowing what great stuff they were going to score by redeeming the bottle caps. All I heard was this part of the conversation as Lyle, obviously disappointed, hunkered over the computer:



Lyle: “We thought we were going to win all kinds of Coke clothes or free drinks and stuff:



Marty: “We didn’t think that – You thought that.”



That’s my baby, putting things right where they need to be.



The next day we were having lunch with Nikkie when Marty had another of her classic moments.




With the new grandson, Noah Robert Kinard, we have seen a lot of new pictures of Noah. To prove the our families link to Sir Noah Erin drug out some old baby pictures of Matt, Noah’s Father and our son. Matt was a beautiful little boy. He had bright blue eyes and silky blond hair. He had that natural kind of Scandinavian look of his ancestors. A handsome child, but he had a big head. He still has a large head but it is filled with love, brains and goodness and we all love him for his size 8 melon.



Nikkie says to Marty, “Matt really had blue eyes when he was a baby. He was really pretty, but he had a big head.”



Marty replies, “Yeah he did, it hurt… to give birth”….laughter of course, Marty intended it to be funny.



Nikkie: “How much did he weight?”



Marty: “Nine pounds……eight pounds of head”



I’m sorry but I spit out my food and cracked up as did Nikkie as did Marty. I don’t know if it is really all that funny but I am still laughing as I write this, with apologies to my handsome son. Marty could always make me laugh the hardest – she still does.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Pushing the Reset Button

The last two nights I have had dreams where I was drowning. I don't normally remember dreams. I remember these because I woke right after the dream. Yesterday when we went to the grocery store I had what can only be described as road rage in the grocery aisle. I thought I was going to have to ear hole some woman with a pork tenderloin to get her and her sidekick to get out of the lane. Just move along ladies there’s shopping to be done. Then I lambasted some collection agency shill that called and tried to dun me for an HSBC MasterCard bill I don't owe or own. It was great, they called and gave me the perfect opportunity to be a complete asshole, and I took them up on it. 


I recognize the signs; I can feel it in the back of my head and the middle of my neck. I'm a bit overwhelmed and burnt out which leads to some pretty pissy behavior on my part. And, trust me; I’m pretty much an equal opportunity jerk at these times.


I need to get out of here for a couple of days. I need to push the reset button. So, I am reaching for the debauchery and sin that is Las Vegas, tomorrow. By this time tomorrow I will be floating with the other flotsam and jetsam of society through some smoke-filled casino. It is my way of completely getting away and changing my mind set.


Vegas is a place I can go and reset. I think it is because you can be completely immersed in the lights, the mechanics, the engineering of the casinos. I think it is because Las Vegas has nothing to do with reality. It's not real money, it's only chips. Time is not important. Nothing is real there. It’s a great place to go and temporarily forget and if you are careful, recharge.


As a full time caregiver you get a lot of friendly well meaning advice. Getting away and doing something completely different is the best advice I have received. My wonderful daughter and her boy Lyle will be headed to Waco as I arrive in Vegas. Having this kind of back up is invaluable. Our three caregivers are ready and prepared for my departure and we have made the obligatory pre-flight check with the Great and Wise to make sure Marty is well oiled and maintained.


Marty is doing well, infections are at bay, and asthma is under control, for now, so now is the time for just a couple of days of escapist fare for Marty’s husband. I hope to return to my bride with a bit more patience and understanding in a couple of days. I hope that the next time we hit the grocery store I can politely “ahem” the ladies blocking the aisle and not want to assault them. I hope another collection agent will call me…because I’ll still be a jerk to them, sorry, I don’t owe you any money so don’t call me again.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Tomato Juice


Every morning I make Marty breakfast.  Mostly it's the same routine.  Every morning I pour Marty a glass of tomato juice with her breakfast.  Every morning Marty kind of turns up her nose to the juice, but drinks it anyway.  She doesn't partcularly like tomato juice.  She drinks it because.....well she drinks it because I give it to her and she trusts me and knows I love her.

For virtually every meal Marty eats and often during other times during the day I schlep a small bottle of G2 GatorAid to Marty.  She drinks the peach.  She doesn't particularly like GatorAid.  She has completely balked at the green, the purple and the orange.  But, for every meal and in between, as her chief source of hydration, she drinks the GatorAid.  She drinks it because.......well she drinks it because I give it to her and she trusts me and knows I love her.

Marty has never been one to do things she didn't want to do.  Marty was never one to eat things or drink things she didn't like.  Marty never really tried to live her life simply to please anyone.  Essentially, Marty did what she wanted to do, most of the time.  Rules, they were for other people.  She still says that.  If Marty had a choice, she would drink nothing but Diet Coke, she did that for years. 

Since the strokes Marty has struggled a bit with hyponatremia, or low sodium.  According to the Great and Wise,  sodium is a pretty essential mineral in our vast array of minerals in our body.  What I can say is that when Marty's sodium levels are higher, she feels better.  Thus, the tomato juice and GatorAid, both high in sodium and other really neat stuff.  We really try to make sure that the fluids she drinks help with the minerals and electrolytes, that they help with the sodium.  Does the tomato juice and GatorAid help?  Don't really know, but at the very least it makes me feel like I am doing something to make Marty feel better and stronger.

The point is, Marty does stuff every day that is out of her comfort zone.  She accepts doing things and having things done to her she would have never, ever accepted so graciously in her previous life.  She works hard to accept that people are trying to help her.  I think the way she helps with her care and the care of her caregivers is doing things she doesn't like to do, without complaint.  Not one complaint, never, ever.  Not the old Marty....the new Marty never, ever complains. 

Marty agrees to do these things, to drink the tomato juice, to drink the GatorAid,  not because she agrees with it,  but because its her way of helping.  She really could kick and balk at the things she drinks, the food I cook, or the procedures we have to do.  It could be a constant battle.   She doesn't fight.  She doesn't because....because she trusts me and knows I love her. 

Mostly. But also because.... because she wants to help with her own care and  because she loves me...that's how she helps, that's one of her ways of showing her love,  by accepting and doing what is not natural for her.  If you knew Marty before she got sick, you know what a wonderful expression of love that is.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Laughing


I could act, dance and sing the entire score of The Phantom and still not entertain or capture Marty's attention as much as our daughter, Erin. I could attribute it to the whole mother-daughter thing (that I don't begin to undertand), but it could be that Erin is just that much more entertaining.

Marty is always on her game and more engaged when the kids are around. She talks more, she interacts more, she adds more to the conversation. She just simply tries really hard to be Mom when they are home. Being the Mom is much more compelling than the wife or the patient.


You can see from the picture that she is having a ball carving a pumpkin with Erin. Erin and significant other Lyle came to the lake this weekend with a pumpkin. They had been carving Jack-o-Lanterns in Dallas with new parents Matt and Sarah and decided they needed to bring this joy to us.


Marty always loved Halloween, it may have been her favorite holiday. She really liked the costumes, dressing up, taking the kids trick or treating and of course, carving pumpkins. I had never seen a pumpkin carving kit until Marty brought one home one Halloween. Marty got a kit so she could carve more elaborate pumpkins.
Marty really liked to experience the whole Halloween experience. I wish I had photos of Marty with her "Billy-Bob" teeth. These are the fake, large, buck teeth that are just good enough you would be afraid to ask if they were fake, in case they weren't and someone just had really bad teeth. She would wear them to her work, to my job, to church and to the kids school functions. I'm not sure Matt has recovered from the time she wore them to the football game and completely embarrassed him. I'm not sure Todd, our young associate pastor at the time, has gotten over Marty sitting at the front of the church smiling her "Billy-Bob" smile as he tried to read scriptures.

That was Marty, that is Marty. She now has this really cool hat with spikes and eyeballs hanging from strings. Renae and Nikkie will take her to the mall this year trick or treating with their kids. She will wear her hat. This is one of those events where Marty says, "Well, I'm going, I don't care what you do."

Anyway, the lake. Marty, Erin and Lyle had a blast carving the pumpkin. But, the best moments came later. Late in the afternoon as I watched THE game Marty and Erin piled up in her bed and watched THE game (yeah, a good win). Marty is never more content, satisfied, relaxed and right than these moments. When I went in to check on them there was Marty drinking her gator-aid lying in bed with her daughter and Lyle (Lyle, you are a man of great compassion and courage). I asked them what they were doing and Erin said just laughing. Marty looked at me, giggled as she does and she said, "just laughing".

How does it ever get better than, "just laughing"? Thank you Erin.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Pictures

Noah and Parents -- Noah and Auntie Erin
Noah and Great-GrandMaMa
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Little Noah

Matt, who will henceforth be known as Noah's Father, called us about midnight Friday, 10/16 to tell us little Noah was on his way. Marty was already in dream land so I didn't bother to wake her. I think I stayed up a bit longer than usual just to honor Matt and Sarah's all-night`er in Dallas.

When I awoke on 10/17 Noah was still making his way into the world. I had not heard from Matt and waited patiently, what a guy. When I went and woke Marty I bent down and kissed her cheek as I do each morning and gently and movingly whispered in her ear that Sarah was at the hospital having a baby, our Grandson, Marty stretched, gained recognition of the morning and said, "Glad it's not me". Me too.

Matt soon called and gave us the great news that he (Noah Robert Kinard) was born. He dutifully provided the vital stats about Noah I went in and told Marty that I wanted to drive up to Dallas and see him. She looked at me and said she wanted to go. Marty has been a bit under the weather with sinus stuff so I persuaded her to stay home this day with promises we would go back up on Sunday. She agreed, reluctantly. Marty has never been one to be left to hold down the fort. I don't think she was particularly happy about it, but accepted it.

I got to Dallas about the time the nurses wanted to chase everyone off of the maternity floor at Presbyterian Hospital. I understand the need for quite time, babies, new Moms and Dads need their rest when they can get it. This was the first time I saw baby Noah, pretty precious stuff.

The next day Marty would hear of nothing but going to Dallas to see her grandchild. Marty's emotions are pretty well contained as a result of the stroke. Her emotional affect is generally pretty static because of the brain trauma, which for Marty is a complete change. The old Marty would have been in the big middle of everything telling Sarah to push, the new Marty, not so much. But, just the thought of Noah brings animation to her face and to her voice. She laughs, she remembers his name and is genuinely excited about having a grandchild. You can see it and you can hear it from her.


Sunday I got to hold Noah. I had forgotten what power an infant has. I had forgotten how tiny and new the life is. I had forgotten how good it feels to hold your own. Marty was reluctant to hold Noah. She is so unsure of herself sometimes. Again, not like the old Marty at all. She told me she was a little afraid she might hurt him. But, for whatever it's worth, she's kind of worried that Matt and Sarah might hurt him too. She is just letting them keep Noah based on faith alone.


When Matt was born 30 years ago we sent birth announcements out that said, "Every child comes with the message that God is not yet tired of the man." It was a quote Marty unearthed by some eastern philosopher dude named Raindranath Tagore, which sounds cool but has nothing to do with why Marty chose the quote. The quote is meaningful. Every time I am around small children, every time I see an infant baptized and hear the baptismal sacrament spoken I go back to that quote. When I saw Noah the first time I was reminded that God still believes.

Marty will get to hold Noah soon. We will convince her it's safe. Matt and Sarah will slowly convince her that Noah is safe with them. I already know when Marty holds him she will feel the comfort of holding one of your own. I already know she will smile. I already know she will love this child like she loved hers. I already know she remembers God's message.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

He's Here


When Matt and Erin were old enough to start going out on their own with their peers Marty would often see them out the door with, "Remember whose you are". They would turn and look at her, go out and do their thing. To my knowledge, they would always remember and got into very little trouble, to my knowledge (as any parent will attest ignorance can be bliss).

When Marty would send them off she was trying to reinforce what we both believed about all of us, that we all needed to live our lives and conduct ourselves with the honor and integrity that would make our faith and our families proud. She was reminding them that they were loved and belonged. Marty was reminding Matt and Erin that they were not only our children and responsible to us but they were part of a larger community, children of God.

Soon, relatively speaking, Matt will get the chance to say the same thing to his own son, to Noah Robert. No, they didn't name my grandson Larry Bob, they went with Noah Robert Kinard instead. A good choice for a magnificent event. Noah came October 17 and weighed in at 7 lbs 11 ounces and is 20 inches long. He has light hair, blue eyes, long fingers and his father's round face. He is absolutely intoxicating. It's amazing.

Some day I know Matt and Sarah will want Noah to have the same regard for faith, honor, and responsibility that we wanted for Matt and Erin. Some day I know they will want to tell Noah to "remember whose he is" so that he will know he is loved by his mother, his father, his grandparents and all of his family. Some day I know Matt and Sarah will remind Noah that in "remembering whose he is" he is accepting a legacy as a true child of God. "

It's a true gift that with the birth of Noah, with any birth, we are all reminded to "remember whose we are". Babies make it easy to remember.

Monday, October 12, 2009

This Little Piggie

I remember sitting in Mrs. Hall's Senior English class discussing the women's movement of the day, the day being the early 1970s. I remember arguing with Connie Carter about the role of women in society and I was making the not so enlightened point that women were taking good jobs away from men and the men needed those jobs to support their families. What a pig.

Then I met Marty. She saw the pig I was and decided to take pity on me and turn me into a silk purse. Marty has always been a woman of strong thoughts, opinions and words and she quickly explained (sounds more polite than the conversation was) the absolute lunacy of my ideas. I'm not saying she completely changed my views of things, but, maybe just shining high beams of new light on stupidity made the difference. Certainly, over time, my views have changed radically and after all of these years and history I can clearly see how much the women in my life have impacted me.

I'm not sure when I ceded control of my life to the women in my life, but it is clear I lost control somewhere along the way. I am now adrift in a sea of estrogen. I'm not making a value judgement about this, I'm just stating it as fact. Women rule my life, I think they always have, and if most men are honest, well, we're not always that honest, so why make the point.

Clearly, I have always been drawn to smart women. I married a smart woman. A smart woman gave birth to me. I helped sire a smart woman. I love all of these smart women. Between Marty, Renae, Nikkie, Erica, Erin, Sarah, nurses, doctors I'm surrounded by smart women, all of the time. It's exhausting. I'm not sure which is the most exhausting part, the smart part or the woman part or the combination thereof, I just know it seems like I have always been told what to do by really bright, really strong women. I'm clearly serving penance for my ignorance as a young man.

The last part of my career with TXU I spent working in call centers. Most of the people who worked in call centers in TXU were of the female persuasion. Most of the management of call centers at TXU were women, really smart, strong women. I can't tell you how many of my male compatriots at other parts of the company marveled at my ability to work in such a female rich environment. I like it. I liked working for Helen, Brenda and Jan, well not Jan not so much, but the others, they were incredible people who were always a couple of steps ahead of me. They were smart and I like that.

I'm not sure what all of this means but to recognize as a young man, and yes sometimes as an older man, I have been stupid and I had stupid ideas and opinions. Many of those rather misogynistic ideas have now been put to bed, buried. What's left is but to say to Vicki, Barbara, Janet, Roseanne, Susan, Helen, Linda and yes to Connie: "I was wrong and you were right". And then add those six magic words my bride taught me years ago...."How do you feel about that?".

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

HouseKeeping


I have some very profound philosophical musings that I am sure the 10's of, well 10, of my readers will find quite thought provoking and stimulating. But, before I get to that discussion of women,men, politics, religion, sex and perversion I need to care for a couple of housekeeping items.


Sarah, better known as the Mother of Larry-Bob, (you all know we will soon have a Kinard Grandson)re-designed the blog. One afternoon at the lake I asked her to kind of "sex" it up, since I personally have no skills in that arena -- designing blogs that is. Sarah is great with all of that kind of stuff and she took it upon herself to do it all. She chose the red because my bride likes red and she put the couch in it because, as she said, Marty, the psychologist is still teaching and counseling all of us. Pretty cool stuff, I think. And, she is the MTB (mother to be) of my first grandson who shall be called something other than Larry-Bob. Anyway, thank you Sarah, you did great. Don't she and Matt look cute (sounding like a girl again).


As you may know, if you have read previous posts, we recently went to Dalhart to see Marty's mother, Jean Watkins. She is a case study in perseverance. She has had countless medical issues over many years and is still ticking. But, it is always a question, will she remember us since it is so long between visits. She always remembers Marty, and me most of the time.


Jean was pretty sluggish when we went to visit in the morning but she was on her game that afternoon. Mostly she wanted to know about Marty and how she was doing. I told her we were taking good care of Marty, Marty, thankfully agreed. Jean wanted to know about her doctors and if we should be getting Dallas doctors to help. All very appropriate.


When it was time to leave I told Jean, you have to yell since she can't hear well, we were leaving and she said she wanted to go. I started fumbling around to find the right thing to say: "so sorry you can't go", "you need to stay here so they can care for you", and last "I just can't get both wheelchairs in the van". This is where my dear bride threw me under the bus, she says to me, "take her this time, I'll stay here". Bless her little pointy head. I fumbled through some other inane excuses and finally left. Leave it to Marty...


We are headed to the lake this week, God willin' and the creek not spillin', so I will be writing about perversion from RC. So tune in next time. Later.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

It's Their Fault

Marty and I were in the offices of the Great and Wise the other day when a middle-aged patient came in hacking and coughing. My first reaction was stay away from us, H1N1 is not our friend. The patient was carefully led back to a sub-waiting area where we later saw them lying on a couch still coughing huge coughs.


We later found out that this patient was not a flu case but a patient with emphysema, a chronic respiratory ailment. My first thought about this patient was not sympathetic. My first thought was, well, they probably were a smoker and brought this on themselves. It was their own fault. Then, I caught myself. How could I know anything about this person? How could I have made this leap, this assumption, that basically this person got what they deserved. I was being judgemental, blaming and presumptuous all at the same time. It's a familiar feeling, let's blame someone, preferably the first person we see.


When Marty first got sick I really wanted to blame someone. I really wanted to blame something. I wanted to find fault somewhere. This whole thing needed to be someones fault. Someone or something had to be held accountable. I blamed Marty, I blamed the doctors, the nurses, the hospitals, I blamed God. I was pissed at pretty much everybody and everything, including myself. I still get that way from time to time.


I believe in many ways blame has become almost a cultural more of dealing with completely unacceptable circumstance. We want to blame someone. It's their fault. We want to hold someone accountable even if that gets in the way of sympathy and understanding. Tell me if I'm wrong, when you see the homeless person, it's their fault. Tell me, you really think differently when you see the overweight lady with the oxygen riding on her cart, she did something wrong. Tell me you've never thought, "if they did this, or if they did that then they would not be where they are." Brother, I am there, and too often I find myself wrestling with those same demons. It is all too common that we look at the person with the chronic illness and blame them for it and somewhere in our mind our demons tell us that they are a burden on all of us.


But, here's reality, the hard truth. Marty did many things in her life that helped cardiovascular and respiratory illness become a part of our life. Marty did not exercise, she smoked and she often didn't eat as she should have. Marty made some bad life style choices, but she didn't give herself a stroke. As much as I have sometimes wanted to blame her, it's not her fault. Marty did not want this, did not ask for it and certainly did not deserve to have so much taken from her so young. Marty, in spite of her mistakes, did not do this to herself.


Does this mean we can abdicate responsibility for ourselves? Absolutely not. We all have to realize that how we care for ourselves, how we carry ourselves, how fate treats us impacts a lot of people around us. Going to the gym is not just for yourself, it's for your spouse, your children, your friends. But, we can't go around believing that sick people are bad people, that a person with a chronic illness is somehow less than and not worth as much. People with chronic diseases don't want to be that way. I know Marty hates it every day.


For the most part I have quit blaming Marty, I have quit blaming God, I have quit blaming fate. Not to say that if you get in my way I won't find a way to make you responsible somehow, but that's stupid.

I don't think God had anything to do with Marty getting sick. I think God takes a pretty laissez faire approach to this kind of thing. I think our frailty is how God brands us as humankind. We get sick, we have accidents, we make mistakes, we break. God doesn't break us, God just doesn't stop us from being broken, hopefully God simply helps us pick up the pieces.


Yes, I'm still looking for someone to blame. I'm still looking someplace to place my righteous anger. I do have a better perspective, but from time to time I still feel the need to not just feel angry, but be angry. Now, if I could just find the right place to put that.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

The Great Pyrenees

We have two very good friends who for the purposes of this post we will call Dee and Wayne, because, that's their names, Dee and Wayne.

Dee and Wayne are wonderful, kind, loving people who live in the boondocks of Falls County just outside of Waco. They love animals and are especially taken with dogs of all shapes and sizes. Several years ago someone dropped off a Great Pyrenees puppy close to their home and of course they had to take the beast into their home. This dog is huge with a massive head and bass bark that can rattle the shingles. He is solid white, or as white as a white dog can be in the country, with a thick coat that occasionally gets shaved, complements of Wayne. Dusty, as the dog is named, is very much like an ill-behaved adolescent, willful and pig-headed with a mind an instinct of his own.

Marty wrote this ode to Dusty just after he flunked out of obedience school. God bless Dusty and his parents.

Dee, Wayne and the Great Pyrenees
Chapter 1
“Dusty learns to read”


There once was a Great Pyrenees,
Who read books with considerable ease.
When he chewed up a cover,
He was cursed by his mother:
“Leave the damned thing alone, won’t you please!”

After listening to all Dee’s complaining,
Wayne signed up the dog for some training.
Dusty acted so badly,
They left rather sadly,
And said, “This is all really draining.”

After this, Wayne was really distressed,
That this dog had become such a pest!
But his mom, quite concerned,
Thought compassion he’d earned,
And suggested he might be depressed.

The dog found this all quite amusing.
Dee and Wayne just found him confusing.
He just wouldn’t learn.
And Dee said, rather stern,
“Behave now, there’s no more excusing.”

“We’ve given our money and time,
And Petsmart refunds not one dime.
Oh, what now shall we do,With this dog who must chew?
This is NOT just a victimless crime!”

Though thoroughly steeped in deep shame,
They said, “No one’s really to blame.
We’ve laid out this dough,
And so back we will go.
And this puppy behavior we’ll tame.”

So this great dog was put back in class.
He said “HI!” by passing some gas.
But then found things a bore,
And laid down on the floor,
And contentedly licked on his ass. mk 7/

Friday, September 25, 2009

Closing Doors

We have always enjoyed being in Dalhart. For Marty, it is home, for me it is a place of great memories: hunting, skiing, celebrations, good friends. Immediately after her Father's passing Marty spent a lot of time up here with her Mother and working to care for Arty's estate. Marty felt comfortable here because it was her home, because of her families friends. When we began to wrap up a lot of the estate business and we had Marty's Mom, Jean, comfortable in her new environment you could feel a door start to close on an important part of our lives.

I like being in Dalhart. I like the weather in Dalhart. I like the people in Dalhart. They are open, friendly people who look you in the eye and ask how they can help you. And they mean it. Marty and I both have deep attachments to the town and the people of this little panhandle community. This trip, this ride to Dalhart felt like we were closing the door on Dalhart a little more. Slowly all of our connections to this wonderful place are going away and slowly but surely all of our reasons for coming here are ending. It is part of life, it is part of moving on with life, it is a bit sad.

We celebrated Christmas a number of times in Dalhart. It didn't really seem like Christmas if we didn't go there and spend some time with the Watkins and their friends. Singing Christmas Caroles at the Steeles, eating at the Sands Restaurant, getting stuck in the snow were all part of our time in Dalhart. It was where I saw my first white Christmas. I don't know if we ever went skiing without going through Dalhart, many times going with Marty's parents. I can't really count the number of times I went pheasant hunting with Arty, his friends, my friends or Jerry's friends. Dalhart is where Arty shot me one hunting trip. I have bled for the town. It means a lot.

I know if Marty hadn't fallen ill we would have been here more often. I know she likes to come here and see her Mother. I know she is always willing to get in the van and make the trek because it means a lot to her to be here and see her home and see friends who have known her all her life. The multiple connections to her life, to our life, the history we both have here make our visits very meaningful and the thought of closing out this part of our life creates a certain sense of loss.

I know one of these trips up here we will have to sort of close out our relationship and our last connections to Dalhart. I know it is a natural part of life. I know it is part of growing up and growing older. I know even if we never come back here we will have wonderful memories of cold days and nights, pungent livestock smells and a sense of attachment and belonging not often felt this long. I really don't like closing doors.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Don Quixote

Out of town trips, going places, breaking the routine is kinda hard. It's kinda hard on a lot of levels, not the least of which are the logistics of going anywhere with a wheelchair. Mostly it's kinda hard because you never really know how Marty is going to do on these excursions and you never really know if she will really be up to the trip. Maybe I'm the only one who is anxious about them, but trips make me feel just a little bit hinky.


Last Saturday we did make it to Dallas for Larry Bob's shower -- oh, I mean, Sarah's shower. Daughter Erin and Sarah's sister Amanda threw this little Dallas soiree and sent these so cute invitations (I sound like a WOMAN). Actually, Marty liked the invitations, they had a little rhyme. When we got the invitation one of our caregivers asked if we would go. Being the incredibly wishy -washy guy that I am, I said, we'll see. Being the incredible Marty, Marty said, "well, I'm going". Guess what -- we went and I believe Marty had a good time. She held up well throughout the shower and felt normal and a part of normal life. As they say in the credit card commercial, "priceless".

Today we are in Dalhart Texas. We have embarked on the Quixotic quest to see Marty's Mom, Jean, who is in a wonderful little nursing home in Dalhart. Me, Marty and Sancho (Renae) took off early this morning on this epic voyage in our gray stead and made really good time ( a guy thing, making good time is a big deal -- ask your male significant other, they will understand). It's only 500 friggin miles -- geeze it's a long way. We haven't been here since Mother's Day in '08 so it's been too long.

Being in Dalhart feels good. It's cool and crisp. They tell me it smells of livestock -- my allergies spare me the olfactory overload. It brings back really good memories of Christmas's past, ski trips, rodeos and hunting. Most of why we are tied to Dalhart is gone, but I still like being in the panhandle. It's a pretty unique place.

We will go see Marty's Mom a couple of times tomorrow. It's always a little interesting to see Marty and Jean together. Jean has had health issues for a long time and suffers a little bit of age related dementia but last time we were here she remembered about Marty's strokes and really did all of the Mother type stuff, in spite of her infirmities. It's really quite moving to watch.

Marty is doing good. She got up early, rode all day in the van and kept good spirits and I think being here really kind pushes her to think, to talk, to interact. We went to our normal supper place here and she knew what she wanted, ordered it and did great. I know as I write this she is really tired, because I'm really tired. It's a hard but gratifying trip.

Our quest will continue for a couple of days and we will head home Saturday for the last leg of our trip. I'm sure as we spend time here and move south we will have opportunities to tilt at some windmills. I loved Don Quixote.


Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Marty Keeeeeeps Talking

Another one from Marty. She wrote this in January of 2003 after one of our faux daughters, Elizabeth married the semi-acceptable John (actually he's a good guy). The Right Reverend Jimmie from First Presbyterian always found a way into Marty's psyche. The whole thing is particularly poignant given our journey over the last few years and how faithful and loving our children have been.

Yesterday at the wedding -- after all was said and done -- bride and groom and Mom and Dads have exited, our minister has given the benediction and has invited the guests to join the couple at the reception. He then said, "Earlier today the oldest member of this congregation died, and then tonight we celebrate this beautiful marriage of a young couple. There is a beginning and an ending, and if you look carefully you will see the truth of what this is all about .... and that is ... it is about choosing love. That in addition to all the joy, it is also about choosing the pain that comes from love instead of the pain that comes from not loving. Even in the middle of all the joy, there is not a choice that does not involve pain -- only the choices between a way that brings pain with love, or the way that just brings pain. The lesson in it all is about choosing to love."

Well, I felt like I had been hit between the eyes. How could this be offered as just a little "tag on" line -- it should have been the top bill!! -- I have had this same lesson presented to me in multiple formats in the past couple of weeks. When life seems to hit me with repeated patterns in my awareness -- I know it means I'm supposed to be getting or understanding something in a new way. I'm not totally sure I know what that is all about right now -- I'm not really working on trying to figure it out, I'm just more aware something new is unfolding, an awareness, an understanding, maybe a way of being -- and I'm letting that happen as is does.

My dad is fishing in Mexico for 7 days, (this IS related) my Mom is with sitters for the week. Of course, I feel I should be there - but I can't be. Tonight I thought, "I really need to call her." But I really, really didn't want to -- I often feel so lousy after I talk to her -- it is just so sad. Well, I called, we talked and she was about like usual -- knew who I was, but thought Matt was married when I mentioned the wedding -- wasn't sure where Dad was, but said he was on his way home. It just breaks my heart. Anyway, then I talked to the sitter -- (a long time employee of our family -- a very simple woman who is quite devoted to my parents -- thank-you God!) She said my Mom had gotten up very early yesterday and had fallen backwards. The sitter was still asleep when it happened. She didn't know what happened, and mom couldn't tell her anything more than that she fell backwards. She said mom was pretty banged up -- some scrapes on one leg and one arm, and some bruising getting started, a bad bump on the head. She said she was very, very sore and stiff. Well, I hung up thinking, "Damn! That's why I didn't want to call. I can do nothing, and now I end up feeling worse!" I felt myself begin to slide into that a little, and then I thought about the wedding, ... and I thought, "Choose the pain that comes from loving -- there are no choices that don't have some pain, choose love."Well, it didn't totally fix it -- didn't totally stop some tears -- but I understood it a little differently, and that was comforting. And I was able to feel glad that maybe the sitter felt more supported by my call (I really think she did -- I'm sure I'm the only family member that even knows about this incident at this point) and I was able to imagine that maybe my Mom felt a little bit of pleasure at the familiarity of a phone conversation with someone she knows she loves and someone she knows loves her. And, maybe that's enough for tonight.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Good Times

The Dallas Cowboys, Texas Tech Raiders and Midway Panthers all won this weekend. Combine that bonanza with rain both in Waco and at the lake house -- what a weekend. Then add to that, a visit from my baby girl, Erin .... can it get better??? Yes -- it can, because Marty is still doing very well. She is sleeping good, waking good and feeling good. This, in our life, is pretty damn good. In fact, it's better than that, it's really excellent, today, and all we need to worry about is today.

Marty really has been doing well of late. I think this is the first time in awhile she has felt good for an extended period of time. Once we finally got rid of the dreaded pseudomonas she has done better. She has been on antibiotics for minor types of infections a couple of times in the last 60 days -- but for us, that's nothing. For us this is the height of wellness.

The best part is, since Marty has been feeling good she has been exhibiting signs of the past; she has been getting pretty bossy around the house. She is giving instruction to me and the caregivers pretty regular, take this glass there, wash that over there, move me here, now. It's great. If you had told me five years ago I wanted Marty to boss me around I would have called you a liar. But you never know what you're going to lose or miss when you lose it.

Today, Sunday, Erin and Nikkie took Marty to Babys-R-Us to do a little shopping for Larry-Bob. Have I said that I will have a first grandson soon and his name shall be Larry-Bob and that his Mother and Father have forbidden anyone to call him Larry-Bob upon earth entry? I have? So sorry. Anyway, they went shopping and Marty helped. I didn't go. That is good. That is good for Erin, that is good for Marty, that is good for Nikkie and for me, it's just hard for some of us not to be in total control.

At Babys-R-Us they managed to find several things for the Kinard prodigy. We had looked on the register and I had kind of decided we needed to invest in a co-sleeper, a really pretty cool baby sleeper bed thingy. Marty apparently made an executive decision in the store that what LB really needed was a swing, so guess what, they got the swing and those of us that didn't go didn't get to decide. It's a very familiar feeling.

Erin, my baby girl (she's 26) got a taste of her old Mom too. Marty, being Marty, wanted to know what everything cost before she would consent to pay for anything. Erin really liked the baby robe and slippers which doesn't make much sense to me, but again, I wasn't there, so I didn't get to vote. They apparently didn't make much sense to Marty either because she refused to pay for that. When they got to the check out stand they asked if she was ready to pay and she said, "yes, for everything but the robe and slippers". Erin paid for it.

I really like it when Marty does things that remind me of the old Marty. I love the new Marty. I accept this new normal for us. It's just really nice to see the flash in her eyes, to see her rub her chin as she used to when she was angry, to hear her ask what?, why? almost incessantly, and to see her be in charge. That's pretty normal too.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Marty and Arty

Marty's Dad, Arty Watkins, was quite a character. He had this kind of John Wayne swagger that was both intimidating and endearing. Arty was the epitome of a self made man and was what I always called an agricultural entrepreneur. He loved to tell and listen to jokes and was very generous with his time, his wisdom and his talents.

Marty was very much a Daddy's girl. Their relationship was not complicated. She loved and admired her Father, he loved and was really proud of his daughter. Marty wrote the following in sometime in March of 2003, Arty passed away suddenly in January of 2004. I think she communicates her feelings very well.

My Dad

Your presence:
sometimes gruff and fearsome,
sometimes charming laughter,
often giving generously,
sometime brooding silence.
Always large.

Your advice:
often sought and needed,
always freely given,
at times ignored as too simplistic,
lived as well as said.
Quoted with pride.

Your loving:
often so clumsy you crash into me,
hugging too hard, not caressing,
such rough tenderness.
I'm often left stunned
by the sudden simplicity of it.

Your hands and heart:
both speckled with brown patches of age,
both are callused and cracked,
from years of working,
carrying whatever needed to be carried.
Putting things right.

I cannot imagine a world without you in it.
What would I do without your presence looming so large?
Whose advice could I quote?
Whose love could I count on?
Whose hands would put it right?
What heart could find my own?

I cannot imagine a world without you in it.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Jeremiah

Marty has always brought an interesting variety of people into our lives. She loved people, she loved being around people and she especially loved being around interesting, intelligent people with a good sense of humor and who were not easily embarrassed or offended. Through all of Marty's illness she has continued to bring a lot of new and different people into our lives.

Marty's caregivers rank at the top of this list of new and interesting people. First let me say, as I have said, we love Nikki, Renae and Erica. They are not just employees to us. They are new daughters to us both. They care for Marty passionately and always have her best interest at heart. But, let me also say, they are interesting, to say the least. They each bring a new and fresh perspective on life, they each bring a diversity to the entire Kinard world we would never have seen without getting to know them.

Renae, 28, single, mother of four children is the person with us the most. She works the most hours and consequently we hear a lot about her children; Jeremiah, Harmony, Miranda, and Nehemiah. Renae, who has managed to get her B.A. in Psychology while working and raising her kids, is naturally very proud of her children. She should be. They are good kids.

Jeremiah is particularly interesting. A typical first kid, he is 11 going on 35. He looks after the others, takes charge when needed, keeps his Mother straight, knows about paydays, and does amazing research about a wide variety of odd things on the Internet. He is also a kid, a kid who watches what others do very closely, a kid who is looking for examples and role models, a kid who wants to be right and do right.

Right after Barack Obama was elected president Jeremiah was confronted with racism for the first time. On his way home on the bus a group of his "friends" started talking about how Obama was just a monkey and that black people were just like monkeys and they began using the "n" word. Needless to say the conversation kind of disintegrated from there.

Renae being the reasonable, prudent woman that she is chose to visit with the "friends" parents. After visiting with them she understood why the kids were acting so ignorantly. Apparently the parents were upset about about an African -American's election as president and let their children know exactly why. They told Renae that they were okay with their kids using the "n" word because it's a part of our history. They also told her that they believed black people to be inferior. Jeremiah lost friends that day. Jeremiah lost innocence that day, not because a black man was President, but because bigotry and hatred for others still exists and is communicable, it's catching.

Months ago, you will all remember when Barack Obama gave a speech intended for school children. If you haven't heard it or read it you should. Jeremiah didn't get to see it at school. He opted not to see it. He decided he couldn't take the chance of loosing more friends, so he did the only thing he knew to do, stay away. Jeremiah stayed away from hearing from a man who is a role model, he stayed away from hearing and seeing how a black man can rise from being the son of a poor single mother to arguably the most powerful man in the world. What a loss. How sad it is that an 11 year old kid has to make that choice.

Would listening to President Obama with a group of his fellow students made a difference in Jeremiah's life? Would Jeremiah want to go and listen to the President if either one of them were white? Did all of the crazy train furor about the President talking to students prevent Jeremiah from hearing a speech that might have changed his life? We'll never know because Jeremiah just couldn't take that chance, he just wasn't ready to face the ugliness, the hatred again. I don't blame him. How very sad for all of us.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Contentment

Even as I type Marty and I are sitting on the back porch of our house at Richland Chambers Resevoir. There is a slight southerly breeze and the oppressive heat of August has relented enough to enjoy sitting outside and watching the the boats pass through our cove. The wind chimes are chiming just enough to enjoy and our old dachshund, Maggie is sitting contentedly at our feet. It's like a Norman Rockwell painting with humidity.

Our kids are out on the boat enjoying the day before the heat and I'm thinking this is exactly why we have this house at this lake. Being surrounded by the water and the quiet and knowing people you love are beside you and out enjoying themselves is more than peaceful, it's contentment.

I told Marty that I wish, what a strange concept to wish, that I wish we could be sitting here, both with the same level of contentment, but that she wasn't sick, that she had not had the strokes. She continued to look out at the lake and said, "Me too, but I did, and I am content. What we have is livable".

She' right. Our life is very livable. It's not what we had planned. It's not what I would wish for, for Marty. She has developed this rather amazing attitude about her life. She certainly doesn't want to suffer, she certainly didn't want what happened to her, but she will live with what has happened and enjoy live as it is for her, for us, and for our whole family. She is an amazing woman.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Marty Speaks

I try in this blog to talk a lot about Marty, what she thinks, how she is doing, what her perspective is. At times I will try as I find the files to let her speak for herself. This little ditty comes from 2003 as she is starting a new career.

Bio Sketch -- Marty Kinard, Ed.D.

Once upon a time (1954) in a land far away (Dalhart in the Panhandle of
Texas) a child was born to two peasants who toiled in the fields from dawn
to dusk to feed their family. (Ok, they weren't peasants, but Texas
agriculture does involve toiling dawn to dusk.) The peasants looked at this,
their second child, and said "we shall call her Marty, for this means 'mouth'
in our ancestor's tongue." Marty grew strong and healthy and, living out the
destiny of her name, found both pleasure and talent in all things "oral."
While growing up, music and singing were passions, as was debate, and lengthy
conversations with friends. Given a bit of an adventuresome nature, Marty
learned to "talk her way" out of many interesting jams. While challenging,
the peasants found their child to be a source of humor and delight.

At 17, Marty left the family land and headed South to Texas Tech in Lubbock.
Continuing the oral focus, she majored in Speech Pathology -- and received
both Bachelors and a Masters degrees during the mid 1970s. During this time
she met a frog named Larry --- one kiss later (another oral miracle!), her
prince appeared and the two were married in 1976. The prince began an
"electrifying" career with Texas Power and Light. While Marty was "shocked"
by the number of moves required by the prince's career, she "charged" ahead
and followed him to four different regions of the land (Paris Tx, Muenster
Tx, Hillsboro Tx and Waco Tx). During this waltz across Texas, Marty
continued to work as a speech and language therapist.

In 1979, a male child was born to Marty and the prince (the child, Matt, is
now 23, a professional student who is currently a Teaching Assistant while
working on a master's degree in Mathematics at Texas Tech, Lubbock). They
looked at this child with favor and said "we shall call him Matt, which in
our ancestor's tongue means 'grow up, get a job, and support yourself.'"
Three years later, a female child was born (now 20 - Erin, a sophomore at the
University of Texas in Austin). Marty and the prince looked on her with
favor and said "we shall call her Erin, which in our ancestor's tongue means
'you have enough shoes, don't roll your eyes and watch the tone of your
voice.'" Both children thrived and have been great sources of pride for
Marty and her prince.

While working part time as a speech therapist and then as a college
instructor, Marty spent the majority of her time from 1979-1988 as a stay at
home mom to preschoolers, Matt and Erin. Alas, when the youngest child
reached the age of attending full time school -- Marty was faced with the
need to redefine how she spent a large portion of her time. (Woops, there
goes the ticket to the soaps, diet cola, and twinkies all day!) In a dream
three possible paths presented themselves as visions of the future. Marty
could get a full time job as a speech therapist (a path that looked rather
dull at the time). She could have another child (why push your luck here?),
or she could go back to school (duh,,, although not too lucrative, this was
certainly the most interesting of the three options). In that Marty was
living in Hillsboro Texas at this time, the nearest major university was
Baylor -- 30 miles to the South of Hillsboro in Waco Texas. Once again, the
legacy of her name prevailed, and Marty managed to talk her way into a full
scholarship from Baylor to pursue a doctorate in educational psychology -- a
fortuitous decision in that the family moved to Waco in 1990. The pursuit of
the doctorate in Educational Psychology ended successfully in 1993, as
attested to by the "Dissertation Circles" -- (those dark half moons under the
eyes).

With degree in hand, kids ensconced in school, and husband thriving in an electric world -- Marty began a full time career in the field of
medical faculty development -- the mysterious appeal of which is that no one
really knows what it means when you say you do faculty development in medical
education. The flip side of the mystery is that the job market for this focus
is pretty limited -- oh, say about 5 positions in the great state of Texas --
who is proud to cast all of its votes for the next president of the United
States.... (whoops, got off track there -- a few loose associations cropping
up here!)

Essentially, for 12 years Marty taught physicians how to be effective faculty
members in their respective medical schools or residency programs. In this
role -- Marty directed a nationally recognized year long fellowship program
which selected 7 physicians per year -- and transformed them from competent
medical providers to competent educators of future medical providers.
Marty's area of specialty was teaching effective one-on-one teaching skills. This is captured by the circuitous notion of coaching coaches about coaching.
In this area, Marty individually coached about 200 physicians as they worked
teaching medical students and residents in clinical settings.

In May of 2002 -- Marty left the 12 year stint in medical faculty
development, and began to look for a way to reinvent herself professionally.
Having successfully coached many physicians, working with deep pathology
seemed like old hat -- and Marty decided what she really wanted was a way to
work with people's potential. A short time later, a series of seemingly
random events landed her in a workshop on coaching. A couple of dollars later
-- she was spending time on the phone with a group of fellow
"seekers."

(----There will be a paragraph inserted here in a couple of years ---- )

As a successful coach -- Marty looked on her life with favor -- she said
"ah... this is good -- I have a group of new friends and colleagues, I am
doing something I love that has enormous flexibility, that provides a sense
of connectedness and satisfaction, and that produces reasonable financial
gain. I can now go live happily ever after."

And she did ..............

THE END