Friday, November 1, 2013

The cruel, devastating side of irony.

R didn't get to know her Grandma well she only heard stories. Stories that when she was young and dumb she laughed at, stories that made her cry when they began playing out with her Mom.

M was a great mom to my wife. She has fond memories of long bike rides her energy and zest for life and a total distrust of anything chocolate.

This is a sad story of loss, one drop at a time.

Sitting across the table from a friend who had lost his mom to cancer I said, "It's good you got to say good bye though." He couldn't look me in the eyes. He just said, "Yeah thats true." Now I am not so sure it is.

My Mother in law was the type that brought everyone in. M had a unique way about her to make everyone feel welcome. While I was dating my wife we would joke that she loved me more than her, and I am not totally sure that it was a joke.

M was a school teacher, but not just a normal school teacher. She specialized in teaching kids to read. Her house if full of gifts from thankful parents. A parent of one student, through tears, basically beg to come and replace the countertops in their house, it was the only way he felt he could repay her for succeeding so well where others had failed and given up on his young hispanic son. M was so good because she sincerely loved it.  She truly did it because she felt like she was giving a great, priceless gift to her students.

Yesterday she woke up and didn't recognize her husband of 32 years.

Looking back we can see when M's cruel disease started etching away, slowly, quietly. In planning our wedding my then fiancĂ© would remark "My Mom has never been like this, I just don't get it." We know now that these small personality changes are the first signs of Dementia. A couple years later while serving a mission for our church she would struggle to keeps her thoughts organized and would eventually be reassigned.

Now she forgets that she is visiting us in Utah, she thinks we came to visit her.

Why is this disease so cruel? There are many reasons, perhaps chief among them is that there is so little that can be done. There is no surgery or transplant. Drug and occupational therapy just slow it down-if you can handle the side effects.

Luckily after medical attention she calmed down and recognized her husband again, but it is an eventuality that one day it will leave and not come back. One day it will just be gone. One day the person that taught poor children to read will not recognize her daughter.

There really is no cheery side.

For now we just love her for who she is and has always been to us - Mom

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Leaving Arizona... The Great Defection

I never thought that I would be leaving Arizona, much less to move to Utah, but next Friday it happens! It is hard to say what is the hardest thing about leaving Arizona. Moving itself is a hard task with all the packing and arrangements and the figuring things out "we have two drivers and need to get three cars and a moving truck to Utah..." I can say without pause that the hardest part is going to be being away from our family. Our two sons have grown up ten minutes from Grandmas house. I don't think at age 4 he really understands what moving means, that the 4-5 times a week swimming outings and all afternoon playing with his Uncle Diego will no longer be a regular occurrence. Probably even more hard is leaving my wife's parents. Being an RN my wife worries every day about the health and wellbeing of her "experienced" parents. Through all this we have been comforted knowing that we are doing the right thing. Whatever may happen here (in Arizona) or there (Utah) we know that it is what God wants to happen.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Bikes and Work Gloves

Some time ago I had an interesting experience at a local Walmart. Walking to my car with a cart of groceries I walked past a bike chained to a handicap sign. The bike had a beat up light for riding at night and a bent and re-bent rack for holding bags or whatever. The bike looked well used.

Then I saw the owner of the bike.

A "Mexican" - he checked the lock as he walked by, the way any responsible bike owner would.

Some background on me. I grew up in Queen Creek, Arizona. My Dad was literally raised on a farm and wanted his kids to have the same experience. My parents bought a lot, plopped down a house and started a garden before the paint was dry. Summers for me were not spent with video games but working the garden and mowing the lawn. During and after high school I got a job working for a family friend doing construction. Most of my time was spent working for/with his foreman, Manual. He liked to call me "el gato" because I would volunteer to climb high in the framing of our projects. I got an education from my experiences with Manual that I have always struggled to put into words in a way that conveyed my real feelings.

Then I remembered that bike and remembered my experiences with Manual.

I saw the owner in the parking lot. He worked for Walmart bringing in their carts and I am pretty sure he was cut from the same cloth as Manual. He wore a hat, not a ball cap but a wide brimmed hat that kept out the sun. He had gloves that had the wavy white sweat lines that properly used gloves get. He was "seasoned" as some say.

I had parked pretty close to the cart return but rather than put my basket there I walked it back to the store. I owed, this man, that. I didn't do it out of pity or desire to provide reparations one cart at a time.

He knew how to work and he was not afraid or ashamed to do it. He had a light on his bike, not for midnight runs to get booze but because he started work before the sun was up. He wore gloves because he knew that callouses could get so big that it would hurt to move his fingers. His hat shielded his eyes because he knew the sun would get to them by the end of the day.

Did he need to work? Maybe, but probably not. With government programs, less effort would be required to sponge from program to program. People don't work with that kind of purpose for money. I think I knew that he was working for the same reason my Dad worked and had me and my siblings work. He rode his bike early each morning and wore sweaty gloves everyday on the hope that his kids could be just a little better, have just a little more.

Growing up my Dad traveled and worked long hours. I knew it was hard on him, that there where other things he wanted to do and I always respected him for doing what he needed to be a good provider. Having my own kids I see how hard being away can be and I respect him even more. Maybe I was saying thank you to my Dad, or maybe I was saying thank you to that man for his kids, I don't really know. I do know walking a cart back to the store was the absolutely smallest thing I could have done, he really deserved much more.

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Its time for change! Lets get rid of Conservative v. Liberal

Some people say "Well being a Liberal..." or "as a strong conservative...". Sometimes we even hear "I tend to be more moderate in..." or derisively "I am more progressive in my stance on..." and it's "right wing" counterpart "people should have more freedom in..."

All these terms are B.S. and no, for my accounting friends, I do not mean Balance Sheet.