Thursday, November 13, 2014

We Have Reached Terminal Velocity

Well, Dad, you left me with this task, that, at the time, I thought would be a walk in the park. After all, I have been writing since forever and you helped me form that skill. But now, I am sitting here staring at a computer screen, writing a sentence, deleting, writing a sentence, cussing, and then deleting. You gave me some really huge boots to fill in this arena. I don't know if you looked at how many followers you have...but it is quite a few. And in my head I can hear you saying, "It's time to shit or get off the pot." So I guess I will do just that....

For weeks everyone has been sharing their stories about you and how much you mean to them. Everyone has a Rocky that makes you smile and get a little teary eyed because you can relate, but each story is unique. You seem to have been a best friend to more people than you know. You touched their lives in a way that most only dream of being able to do. I have always known that you were a great guy and the last few weeks have shown that I was right.

You have always been so humble. If anyone paid you a compliment you would shrug it off and say that it is just what you do. But I have yet to see as much compassion and kindness in anyone, as you. And, don't get a big head now, because you were not perfect, none of us are, but you sure did give me something to look up to. I hope some day I can change just one life for the better, because you changed quite a few.

I carry the last note you wrote to me in my purse. And I read it about 36 times on Tuesday. I wanted to tell everyone at your memorial service how much you meant to me and how much I was going to miss you. I struggled for DAYS to write something down that would be meaningful and poignant. Yet I couldn't put a pen to paper. I couldn't come up with anything. There were no words. I just read and re-read, "None of that. One of us has to stay strong to show the kids. Ain't it been a run?" So I went up there, in front of all those people, and I read what Chance wrote. I had the shaky cry voice, but I didn't shed a tear. And then I tried to say something...but it didn't come out right. You would have never guessed I was in speech and debate for 6 years. I know you would tell me that it was perfect, short and sweet and to the point. But, much like you, I am my own worst critic and I am pretty damn disappointed. The only thing that really made any sense and meant anywhere near what I wanted it to, is that a Dad is a girl's first hero, and I lost mine. You are my hero. Now and forever.

Liz and I found a note you left about your last blog and it had the lyrics to The End by The Doors. Funny, because at this very moment The Doors are playing on my computer. (LA Woman, so not nearly as fitting, but can never go wrong with Jim Morrison) Thanks for not making me struggle with how to wrap this up. Because there is nothing more fitting than this...

This is the end 
Beautiful friend 
This is the end 
My only friend, the end 

Of our elaborate plans, the end 
Of everything that stands, the end 
No safety or surprise, the end 
I'll never look into your eyes...again 

Can you picture what will be 
So limitless and free 

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

The Long Hard Ride

  This is the long, hard road toward Critical Mass. No, that's a lie, I'm already on the road and am achieving Critical Mass. This is where I lie and here is where I'll give up the Ghost. It bothers me more that the loving family has to get on board with me on this road. It's why it becomes "The Road, Long and Hard" for myself. It's already been tough  for me, and is just now becoming very difficult for my poor family. Shit, this is old hat for me, I've had a year plus to work this out. In fact, this is the week we sent off the biopsy for diagnosis. Got it back November 8, 2014. That set the ball rolling for Liz and I. I took over the physical end, Liz took care of all the insurance, and all the hard stuff, so we could work on getting me healed up. Whoops, healed up went to hell in a hand basket. The damn stuff came back in July 2013. Clear in May, cancer again in July.
  That's bad enough, right? Hell yes it is, but worse was keeping how far it spread, and how quickly it got there. Being left in the dark really pisses me off. It went all over all at once, or so it seemed. Getting Hospice set up and running was a good decision. It's given us all a little back up and a bit more time to become adjusted to my dying. That's a hard thing to come head to head with. I like it, though. Let's stand up and duke it out. I can do that, and damn well if I can get the jump on the ass whipping. Baxter the Bastard Cancer got knocked back a little, and it took him down for 12 or thirteen months longer than anyone thought would happen. All the while I'm feeling myself going. Not a bad thing for me, but (and it's a big but) it caused me to leave the family out of what was happening. I had to in order to concentrate upon my fight. That was a bad thing. Liz noticed, but not as much as was actually there, I'm afraid. Then really, what moron cuts the love of his life from the fight of his life? Well, this one, that's what kind of moron.
  While not my normal level of being a moron, it came close. What I did find at the end of this road was a fork. I weighed, measured, and found myself slipping up the left side, since it hadn't been traveled in a while. Found some interesting things there on my way about that "less traveled" thing as well. Like the fact there aren't many folk on that road. The reason being, I got more charmed life than I have good sense, it was the the right way. That road is always harder, more difficult, fraught with the ever widening range of shit people toss at each other, and what a shame that is going to turn out to be as we all find we've left a bit of bad on that fence as well. It'll look horrid back a bit, but in time will look much better as the "Right Road" folk come and go, the road gets a little more travel, and the people take pride in themselves once again. It's gonna happen, just watch, work, and repair, it can be fix itself. (or go see it yourself and learn how hard the work is to continue being The Right Road.

  More soon. There is always is something else HA!

Saturday, October 25, 2014

So This Was The Fight. I Have to Lie Down Now!


  Well, as I said in the past so many times, "When it comes, only I'll be the one that notices." That time when Baxter has taken my physical ability to get up and knock his ass right back down. We've talked about how long that might take, or how rapidly it would deteriorate into a bloody knock drag out. The knock down drag out came along about 3 weeks ago. Right before the best harvest I've seen a block garden work. Truly a thing of beauty, and such wonderful work from the agreement between city and neighborhood, it's a shame they all didn't work like that. Anyway, the "Donnie Brooke" we all expected to come catch up with me did so.....Oh God, so fast my head just settled in and let it  come on. So I did that. The Cancer took a shot, sat down next to me and we measured our ability to get back up and get around. We found we were both just too tired to do any of that anymore. We sit here, and once in a while give each other a smack.
  I thought I was hookin it along and could skip around the trip I was planning with Liz to cook for her Highland Games buddies. That was a terrible lapse in judgement. Nope, it got me right off the bat. No energy, increasing pain, loss of strength. All the things that I had decided would be the tether and bind that would determine if I kept up the fight every day. The worst time I've ever had, hit me Friday afternoon. Why? Because not only did I see the weakening and frailty increasing, I believe the light of my Life, Liz, saw it first. I had to back out.

  Surrender. I had to stop. I had to send Liz on her trip alone. It was  me  failing myself. Good gravy!!!  Well, it was bound to happen. I've got what I expected, only four or five months sooner than I would have liked.  

  So, this is how it stands. This is the turn to Critical Mass. I'll be up doing less, simply because the good days are going to be the good minutes, mixed in with really sucky times. It's all part of the this chicken shit dying part, it's gonna walk me down, not run me as I would have hoped. No, it won't be tomorrow, or the next day, or weeks, I hope. I'd like to go over some things to help clear this plate, so it can be a sounding board for upcoming events and things of interest. I am prepared to do lists and all that they entail without help, it's just no fun that way.

  That some of you did come away less afraid of what may happen. There truly is nothing more frightening than the unknown.
   That my dying has been given an "honorable" status. Liz hated that. I hope she sees it now.
    That Liz and the family are stronger than they believed themselves to he before this. I think so.
  That none of this has been a waste of my precious time.
 That the things and directions I like to see people move in were, and still are. helpful to them. I hear in PM's that they are helping, and I'm very comforted in that, as Critical Mass moves forward.

  Okay, that's it for the informational post. Short may it be, long may it live. ROFL


Saturday, October 18, 2014

Declan And I Go See "Fury"

  There was something in the trailer about "Fury", other than a Tanker movie set during WW2 that really grabbed my attention from the get go. There was an element of humanity and how things get so fucked around in a war. Of course that's going to happen, by definition war is controlled chaos. It's MEANT to cause question, over step bounds of normal society, become it's own self feeding machine. That's all part of what makes it war. It's often romanticized, hero's given bigger than life stature, and honestly, that's how it should be, to me. Without someone to look at and say "He stood all that. All the pain, suffering, death, for an ideal greater than himself? That's a hero."

 Let me say now, you've seen I've gone to the movie without being very objective about it. It's gonna show here, I'm certain. So let's cut the meat and serve them taters.

  Dec, my new movie buddy, is a wonderful young man to have around me. 16 years old and far more patient than I am. Ever HAVE been for that matter. He's sharp as a tack. Funny, but only a scoash sarcastic. That's a nice switch from being me. He catches onto ideas and ideology quickly. During this movie, I don't think either one of us has set so quietly or paid so close attention to what was going on up on the screen. Both of us waited until they called in a rescue boat, both of us about to float off. I waited so long my legs gave up the ghost for a minute or two, simply because I was in pain. Foolish man. We were drawn to the screen. The action is great, (violence if you're the Washington Post) simply because it's a war movie. Critics, take note, people get blown apart, shot and bleed a lot, and in a battle, all that happens at once. Grow the fuck up. So, we watch the "Gas Cans", as Sherman tanks were called, go off to take towns in Germany toward the end of the war.  Always under gunned, terribly under armored, too flat where it counted and no where really curved enough, it's a wonder any survived at all. The Tank Commanders and men like Gen. George Patton and Omar Bradley understood this, and made the best use of it they could. The crews had less time alive than day light bombers at the beginning of the ETA. Remember, all this plays in here in some roundabout way I hope I get right.

   War Daddy, Brad Pitts character. Promises his crew he'll keep them alive. He does, from North Africa, Italy, France, Belgium and into Germany. He's the father of these men, not in the literal sense of course, but as their leader. I'm watching away and think "Damn, I've said nearly these same things to people and the family."  We both made that mistake "I'll protect you", because we can't. When that fails, our tempers go. And they go exactly where they shouldn't. Mine to My Gift, Liz, his to his men. We both know it's wrong, but we can't help ourselves. We are wired to protect our flock, and there's never going to be enough time to teach them all we've learned. Forty years it's taken me to figure out how this should work. I can't teach that in one or two. My Frustration Level peaks because I can see myself losing this part of the battle. War Daddy sees that as well. Dec would be my replacement assistant driver in the movie. He's close to that now. The new guy has a conscience that's not been bugged up after three years surviving war in a Gas Can. I believe is startles Daddy, and damn sure does the crew. Dec does that to me, daily. It's damn cool folks, to see your son mature right before your eyes. I don't have the words to explain the feeling, or how very proud I am of him.
  This is just a bit of what I find in the movie I can relate to myself. Is it odd that I can find this so easily to take on and use for my own good? I hope not, since finding some way to gather your own inspiration to be better shouldn't be limited by anything, should it? Find it, make it yours, use all the best parts of it, and certainly it can't be bad to do that. Now, what I've done is cherry pick for me. Let me know what you all think. Dec and I are still pretty much "GREAT FUCKING MOVIE!!!"  Protect the tank, the tank is our home.

  Well, I can't protect the tank. The tank is me, and kids, my time is running out. It's on the fast track to Critical Mass. I can feel it. The cancer gets heavier every day. He's sucking my wind away, my prostate feels like a fucking coconut, and my all over is all but over. This is not the way of going out I saw. I saw myself going several ways, but wasting away to a fucking team of cells that don't understand their own mitosis is gonna kill me. Cells, you think they'd know better. So, knowing this, watching the clock run, having weakness gain the upper hand, the "good time" slip from time to moment, all these crank my frustration level up to and beyond good sense. I get abusive. No, not physically, mentally via note and bull shit remarks that hurt the people I love. I don't know why I do it, some new age psyco-babble might put it down as "Making everyone as miserable as you". Fuck me, that's probably true right there. I do have options. I am going to implement Option One. When I see myself doing that, I'm going to call "Time Out" so I can sort out what I need to do in order to stop my own bull shit.  I can see the pain in Liz eyes not only when I'm being a freakishly large Prick to her, but all the time. It's growing on her almost as Baxter is growing in me. She's being quiet, internalized, and some what stand offish. Those are her protection rings she's had since I've known her. I hate to see them come out.

  This is what the cancer is doing to me and my family. It's chewing us down a little at a time. Dec's patience is strong, stronger than he knows. Addison's tender heart, I feel so badly for her. Of the four, she has her heart measured in miles, not kilo's. The sweet kids carry the hardest burden, I believe. Sarah and Chance? Oh, they are strong, and starting their own lives. I know from reading between the lines of our talks, both of them are hurting, and they are like the old man in this regard. Too proud to admit it. This is making my job damn hard. I've promised to see my new grand children. 90-180 days out. Some how, I've got to keep that promise. I'm on a quest to personalize the Dodge for Liz and Declan. My Highland Athlete and Patient, loving son, need transport so slick there is no idea left to the imagination that these two people are the greatest I know that compete in the Games. Sorry TCAA, every one of you are great people and gifted athletes, Liz and Dec are gifts to me from the Big Guy, I just share them.

  With any thing resembling good luck, I'll make it to February 15, 2015. Arbitrary date I picked because I can. I should have been dead seven or eight months ago anyway, why not string this out? It also puts me on a phase two quest. Finding one of those silly electric carts to carry my ass around on for a while. The walker helps, but it's gonna be outta style and usefulness pretty quickly. February 15 is two days after they cut me loose in 2013. Home and barfing on the day before Valentine's Day. Full of hope we could fix all this that fell apart on the operating table. Seeing it back and getting a "Dead Man Walking" prognosis only 4.5 months later. Some shit there, huh? This is where reality hits. Well, it hit me a while before that, but the metal is on the meat now, and it's grinding away. This is how it is and has been for me. I feel it. It's not imaginary, it's real. I can feel the damn cancer grow, chew, spit out the parts of me he doesn't like, and moves on. All of my lack of wind isn't from lack of exercise, it's damn cancer floating around. Yes, it's hard to breath. I have to stagger my walking with my rate of breathing so I can get from A to B without falling fucking down. No, that's exaggerating. Without having to stop every fifty feet or so to catch my wind. I don't let Liz see that if I can help it. Silly me, though, she knows and can point it out. I think, honestly, I'm much much worse at hiding my infirmities than I was. There was a time when I could snap a finger in two, set the bone, tape her up and be on my merry way. That ain't happening any more. It kinda makes me laugh looking back.

  As I've said more than once or twice, there are things that I've managed to get into and out of that no one but me and one or two others will ever know about. It's a good thing, too.

 Things I've gotten into and never want to get out of:
My Love and Liz's Love for me. I don't understand a bit of what she sees in me, but it must be good or she'd drop me like a bad habit
All Four of My Children: At the end of the "Cowboys" John Wayne tells the kids "Every man wants his children to grow up to be a better man than he was, all of you are". Years later that's more true to me than it ever was. My kids are more independent by choice, not by simply being left alone. I don't mind that, it's what provided me with the tools to do as I please and be secure in doing that. I'm just glad my kids didn't need that part of being raised that way.
That feeling of Pride when a man looks at things he's had a stake in begins to show that his ideas, work, and prognosis of that project were correct. Man, that's hard to beat, I tell ya.
Making my Run last this long. I'd never thought in 1980 that I'd ever live this long. I fuckin A do NOT want to go now
If I have to die now, I'm hoping I've gotten enough life left to get the dignity part right. I don't want to lie here pissing and moaning about my lot in life
My Lot In Life: Simple. I LOVE IT!!!!! My God, what's not to love about drawing a good, deep breath? Seeing any, ANY sunrise or sunset? Being with friends and family. No, no no. Life is to be relished. Guarded to the max, taken out and played with. Planned and not planned. Go Live, please.

  This is not fun, not one Iota fun. It is, though, part of Life. If it's true what I say, and what people tell me, if I truly do carry Amour De La Vie with in me, I need to embrace this part as well. I'm trying to do just that. It's difficult to find out what to do with this embracing of death to go along with my life.
I get many thanks for helping people find a way. To be more than what I think I am for others. Man, that's a burden for certain. I've taken that burden on as Part Three Quest. I will need help, folks, when I'm a box of ashes hangin out in the liquor cabinet. Many of you are going to have to step up, there's no other way it can work. Officially I am exempting my family. They live this, they've done their part plus. They don't complain, they work at it. They get a pass. If this is important to as many as tell me it is, there won't be any problem fulfilling this portion of the Terminal Velocity Challenge. Family gets a pass, all the rest of you are on the hook. No "Pay it Forward" bull shit, this is something you'll do because it's right, not just to feel good about yourself. They aren't mutually exclusive, but they are a harder nut to crack than "Pay it Forward".

  So there it is.  A bit of blog for your early Saturday Morn. Let's make it a good one, shall we?

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

My Cancer Has Extra Gears? No Shit?

  Damn, here I find out that my cancer, Baxter, has extra gears. The Son of a Bitch grabbed one on Saturday last and I didn't notice until the legs cratered on Sunday, and I'm STILL not recovered. What the fuck is this shit? I don't get a break, a pause, a reset of Kings X. Just go on and do my best. I'm here to tell you this pisses me off so badly that my best is way compromised. He's got my ass firmly hitched in now. I don't get the opportunity to fight him fair like I did, because he draws his strength from me like the parasite he is. At one point, anger worked for me. Okay, for a long time anger worked for me. Then it was more subterfuge, where in I'd work around his machinations and catch enough rest I'd be good for a month or so before he kicked back up. Not now. Since Mid-September, Baxter has been getting the upper hand. Saturday last he got a big handful and stole a good chunk of my leg strength. He seems to know that's where all my fun generates. Cooking, walking, taking a shower or a leak, it's a damn challenge now because simply standing still makes me want to fall. I will not allow that of course. But I can't stand like I want, in order to do the things I like. Those things include sharing of myself.  The cooking stuff. Drawing the lay out for this damn homemade trach tube that my Dr's and Nurses can't get their heads around, and keep bringing me useless stuff because they only see the hole, not the entire distance of chin to hole, which has a giant compression hole in my chest. Exactly where the Trach collar attachment points sit. My tube stays off that spot, and is more dry. I've worn myself out saying "Look, dammit, this is no good". Perhaps this time.

   So, Baxter wades in, jumps my shit, gets  a couple of really good shots and gets me to one knee by Sunday afternoon. I am more than just a little taken aback. I used to get a bit warning, so I could back up my defenses and take him head on. He's a skilled brawler. Not a fighter, fighters have plans, Baxter and I brawl. Every time I've fought a fight "with rules", I got my ass kicked. Let me brawl, even you big guys better support your knees, ankles, throat, and eyes, because I like those. And I like being in close where your strength and size become less an asset and somewhat more a hindrance. I'm around 95% win doing that. Against normal foes, but not Baxter. The big reason is, Baxter is my own cells parasitically eating away at me. And he has a great straight right. Being mostly blind in my left eye helps that right hand out. It's how Tracy Sanders beat the piss out of me in High School. That and I don't think you could hurt Tracy then. Two Dislocated knuckles, one broken finger, swollen right arm from my wrist to shoulder, left elbow so swollen I couldn't drive left handed. I think he looked just fine LOL!!!!
So, anyway, Baxter has my legs, and I'm not so sure how to get them back, or at least enough to have fun on my 54th Birthday. One of those things I wasn't supposed to see.

   So, now let's work on how I've lived this life the way I've done it, with a very few regrets and a sense of satisfaction. Along with that, though, is my taking on a lot of "It's My Fault" and "I'm Not Good Enough" and placing that dead center of myself. As far back as....eight or ten?...yeah, about that. Why? Because to me, learning how to lead, be objective, attack that which needs attacked, and all the things that need some guidance won't get better unless I get better and fixing them. And to myself, that means being 50 times harder upon myself than others. I've been accused of being far too hard on others, but it would be a mistake to do that and not look how hard I've been upon myself to get us to X instead of stuck on Y. Some of this also meant that I carried a lot of blame for mistakes in the field where ever I've worked. So, mount up and we'll jump into the Rabbit Hole, if you've got the balls to ride there with me.

   I don't remember when this "I've got to be leading this band of asshole, or bad shit is gonna happen" began. I'd like to say it was on the Section Ranch in Russell County Ks.  There, I got handed the responsibility of ramrodding myself and no other help, to feed and care for 80 head of registered Angus Cattle. I got paid around $2.50 a month. The horse paid $3something a month, and was much easier to keep track of and was easier in his care. After we got his hooves fixed up, WAY easier. The cattle's owner, I suspect now, insured his herd way to the plus side of profit. He had a great bull. Mid sized, heavily muscled, but not so big his calves were a danger to his breeders. I'm out fixing fence on stone posts, something I'd never done, I was madder that a badger in a bee hive, and wasn't going as fast as I thought I should. The damn bull got through a loose spot and hung his dick up on a strand of barb wire and broke it. I actually asked around, and supposedly there was a guy in Claflin that could fix it. I called the owner. He and his grandson's came out, shot and killed the bull, then put this oversized bull in. He lost 6 cow/calf pairs that next spring from the calves being so much to large to birth without help. Something I didn't know how to do either. I cussed myself for months over that. For not knowing how to save the calves and mothers. But more for not jumping his ass out over it. I believe that's when it started. It turns out, when an 11 year old boy, backs down a couple of 20 year old cowboys, it's a bit empowering. As long as being able to clean and fry up six dozen calf nuts for a cook out is always a good thing LOL!
 I took an aggressive look to find and read all the things that would help me out. Lincoln, Jefferson, Adams, Plato, Socrates.  Books like the Pathfinder, Natty Bumpo,  The finding that these men also believed in a sacrifice that would bring them closer to a greater good I found inspiring. I could not, though, find the direction in which they lead, but didn't beat themselves to death doing it. Now, in retrospect, I skipped over that. I needed it in order for my psyche to assimilate the information and make it useful to myself. It's how I'm wired. It's a part of me I can fix now, but was actually working upon that right ahead of Baxter dropping his rotten ass back into our lives.  I needed to be stronger for people, I recognized around the time I turned 23 or 4. I honestly loved my first wife. Bad shit happened, and I got my "I don't lose" face and dived in to get custody of my children. Which I did. I got attacked half a dozen times, and half a dozen times I let it slide. Not because of fear, but because I had to be above reproach. I was, as best I could be. The last of those old scores was cleared out in Sept of 2012. I only broke his foot, but I believe he remembered me, as we spoke at the back of his car in the LK at 15th and Western. I was not proud of that, but it was an affront that needed repaired.
In HS when I wanted to race, I left town. Wanted a fight? Left town. Wanted to drink and play cards, I stayed in town and played with my friends. The State Highway 160 is a great highway to race more than 20 miles at a time, since anyone can make a car fast over a 1/4 mile, those long races with turns, stops, and towns are more of a challenge. Didn't win them all, but enough to keep the Monte Carlo in tires and shocks.  Guymon OK was always a good place for a brawl. So that was fun. These are a couple of ways I kept stock of myself. I woke up one morning and thought "What the fuck are your doing? This isn't how it's supposed to work, bone head!" But, after the divorce, getting custody of my children, meeting and marrying Elizabeth Ann Cook, my life took a change that I certainly enjoyed. She is my living spirit guide. I've got around three or four hanging with me daily. They are Spirits, not living. Liz is my living guide. She slows me down enough to let me settle myself to repair damage Baxter is doing. The others? Well, they hang out and we laugh. They make the dog nervous. Even though I was having trouble with temper, still.  To this day my temper is my bane.

  Now we are in West Texas. To me, I've thrived here, and I believe Liz has as well. We've made many friends,  good money, and a way of life far from family. It's that part, that makes us who we are as a family. We've had to make many decisions, good and bad, alone. No one was close enough to rush out to help. We're good at this now, and I'm so proud that Liz is so comfortable doing what she must to see us through. Sadly, because there was a time when I set things up and walked off to see how they fell. It, at times, was painful for Liz. She had nothing to worry about, because she's smarter, stronger, and more adaptable than I am. All this "Too Hard On Yourself Rock" paid off, but it also left me a bit less adaptable to some situations. That's sad, and I was beating myself to death to fix that, and was doing okay until Baxter came back.

   So here's how this worked from say, 1998 to 2012. I'd given and discussed "IF" by Kipling, and the Ten Commandments with all my kids, when I thought they could understand it enough to make them work for them. The Ten Commandments, those are easy to follow. What Kipling puts up? That is nearly impossible to follow closely, and my hope was to hit it close to the mark. My kids can do that incredibly well. I'm impressed with their resolve and desire to be themselves, individuals not driven by the crowd, but driven by themselves to succeed at what they do. I hope all of you realize what a difficult challenge that is, for anyone. They are hitting that mark so often they are gonna need a new target soon. For me, the place I've landed is forcing my sinew to "Hold ON!, since Baxter is chewing on them now. Baxter's own resolve is just to eat away, like the foolish parasite he is. My body dies, so does he. I don't have to make it easy for him.
  This is where I believe I let my family down. If so, it's a egregious fault, and one I hope I can fix. I looked around and noticed so many of our young men at work, and their friends, had no guidance, or seemingly a way to find it. I couldn't let that go for some reason. I saw so much potential in these young guys (ten years is younger than me, folks) that I thought we could do so much good for the field, the company, and the men themselves if I could sneak that in sorta.  I checked the family, they were so set and secure in the way they acted and presented themselves, I figured that they could meet anything thrown at them and kick it's ass. Two incidents I helped them with. Sarah was being bullied. She learned how to throw a couple of really hard punches. Plus "Dad's Fighting Axiom: Can't Breathe, Can't See, Can't Fight", along with my number on speed dial, it served her well. Same thing with Chance, they defended themselves honorably, and never called me. One thing came around, but that was taken care of by Daddy on the dark side of the alley. No one heard about it.

 What I did was this. I made copies of "IF",  laminated them, gave them out. l assumed the leadership mantle the only way I knew how, by accepting the blame. I let Captain Temper loose, since that particular brand of anger was what sold the deal. It cost us an incredible amount in money and position for myself. The raises didn't stop, but getting a raise on the heals of a promotion would have been great. This is the kicker, now they had something to look at to see how NOT to get ahead. I spent a lot of time under the self assessment microscope of my own. I felt I was doing that which is right. I tried NOT to throw these guys down, but for God's sake some people just can't see the forest for the trees.
 Don't get me wrong, Oh My God we had a good time. Lots of laughter, we got a lot of work done all over the lease, simply because we shot the shit about how to make much of the time we had as a full crew to fix the small stuff that becomes the big stuff.  I took relief pumper chores as time went along, because it's hard to assess a person if they aren't making the the majority of the decisions on a portion of the lease. These all started to show fruition in the late to mid and still moving forward 2000's to date. I'm incredibly proud of the guys. We've had talks, we've had yells, we've had damn near come to blows, but in the long run, we made differences that count. That's the aim, isn't it? Be better than you think you can, and do what needs to get done with the least pain and anxiety.
  It cost me precious time with my family. I often ended up between the rock and the hard place, but was able to work around that with some help, and hit my stride out the other side. My boss, I, my Sr Pumper, and engineering staff put together an Instrument Tech position I believe should be the standard for Techs. Yes, truly it's that fucking good. It's heavily intensive on failure, fixing those, making the units run less and slower. It was tons of work, and I stand proud of what we did. The shame is I only had it a year. 80hrs a week. Crazy, but worth it.
 My men, some of the best Company men walking the oil field. You boys need to stand up and pat your own backs a little, by God. You've done so well, and I'm more than just a little proud of you.

 There are things I'll never share. Not with Liz, this blog, or anyone for that matter. At the time, it was something I felt I needed to do, several of those things weren't at all what I needed to do, but the road was easier on that corner. The lesson there is "Easier is Not Always The Right Road. Look closer". In the long run, it worked out, but that's a hard price to pay for just doing it right the first time. As the cancer eats away at me, chews off the physical and frightens my wife and family, I will take the time to show them how they are so much stronger than I, and how they inspire me to fight on against this asshole Baxter. Family, we win!!!

 We've not done this, so here we go. Winner's List

Liz Smith: My Wife, Lover, Best Friend, Guide. Honey, you win because you're fearless. You place your anger well, and point to me when I need straightened out. You're on your way to Highland Games Honors. Throw the piss out of that big iron baby!!! I get chills watching you

Sarah Smith Holmes: Winner, for being strong, squared away, and looking to better your self and your family. Help keep the old man awake long enough to meet the new grandson

Addison Gates Smith: Winner. Watching my tender hearted, caring youngest daughter help Dad change his pain patches put a lump in my throat. It couldn't have been easy for you, and I know you did it because you could. You follow you heart, and don't ever stop. Don't let it get too hardened either. We all need a soft hearted person in our lives

Chance Rockwell Smith: Winner.  At 25 I was no fucking way lined out like you are. You've a wife and step son, and that's a hard road. You've taken a new job, hard to do my son, but you did it with style. Remember, Steph is your Gift, treat her as such. She'll lead you across those dark nights and scorching days, if you relax and let her

Declan Hunter Smith:  Winner. My youngest son. Wanting to please me and make me proud. Don't work so hard at it, Dec, you're there. You've already made big adult decisions this year. What you have left is what your brother and sisters have left to do as this goes on, comes to and end, and you step in to share the Family Leader Shoes with Chance.  You grab your life with both hands, pull it right up to your face, and say "My Life, bitch, My Rules. You live according to me, not what you can through at me". That gives you, all of you, Amour De La Vie. Love of life is the greatest gift I can give all of you. God Almighty I hope I've gotten us there, because I've had one hell uva ride, and I'm waiting to see what comes up next.

  This is your burden I put upon you, my family. It's not tough, really, so relax
(1) Don't accept status quo, improve a bit every day.
(2) Anger does not win here any longer. That's Dad's problem you don't need. Maybe sometimes
(3) Visit with each other a LOT. Never let anything unsaid between you all
(4) You are my Gifts directly from God. I love you as such, and hope I've done well for all of you.
(5) This is where you all shine as people, individuals that form a family. You're all important pieces of this puzzle that is family. Together, unstoppable. Never forget that.

Love you all.

 My big surprise is how much I care for the young men and families I've met. Startled me way back in '09. Keep up the good fight, it never ends



Friday, October 10, 2014

Words From Liz To Me......Maybe Answers As We Roll Alonf

  As many of the folks on FaceBook know, I've had a rough week. It's starting to get better, but it's a long way away from being a perfectly wonderful fight. Liz has written me a long note, one that fits here, really, since it deals with what I think about myself. Right, wrong or indifferent, it's needs to be heard out. She is my rock, truly.  I'll list her aliases so we can keep track
The Lovely
My Rock
My Anchor
My One True Love

   With that, let us begin!!

 "I am writing this to you so you know you are a much stronger man, individual, than you think you are....your failures as you see them were only stumbling blocks in your life.

 In my eyes, before me, you married Vickie. I hate to bring that up, but you did get two great addictions. You couldn't as for anything better. Divorce was even worse.....a few years later and you met me!!!! (best decision I've ever made "Lovely"). Through all God's reasoning he decided that YOU were and still am/are, the man I should choose to be mtg mate. I could not, and would not ask for a better family to be a part of!
 Chuck and Bev showed me a different cling of love. They accepted me into their family, even after meeting my own. Your parents taught that even through there kids were not "nice" that they was wanted was love and acceptance.
  I never expected them to call me "mom" (Sarah moment: I can do it myself, mommy. face to palm plant.) but the first time they did, I was so proud. To this day I will still fight and argue about how well my "children" have achieved every form of love they have endured. Even when they hug me and whisper, "I think I have what you and Dad have"!
   Sarah is a constant reminder of her Mimi. Little short person with really big attitude (yep, cross that up and find out how much attitude, LOL
    In Chance I see both you and Chuck!! He knows his business, and knows how to apply his learning from school and from you.
These two kids are a wonderful product of your you're not a failure there at that!

  I see you as the man that brought me out of my humble shell. To think as an individual, to think like a woman, and NOT be afraid to express my feelings. You taught me to research and stand up for me co-workers and not just myself (it's what we do, Liz, when we accept the role of leader. You're a damn fine leader as well.) because anything I do or say WILL affect everyone I work with. (the stand up person LIVES that, baby, an it's not easy.

 You've taught Addison and Declan how to be their own people and not follow "The Crowd". For that, Addison has endeavored to follow her artistic means and do what she wants and not what are demanded. She's our "Free Thinker", and works at her own pace.

 Declan is a man and so wants to be like his father, his brother, and his Papa. His working ever so so hard and does not want to let you down. (There's no way in heaven, hell or earth that wouldn't make me proud of him. He just never had the early work opportunity I did. You know, push mowing 2 acres around the house and spring straps, later on in LK, pushing the bus, making $2/month herding 60 head of registered Angus cattle, and $4/month looking after the horse. One horse for more money. I think I was getting hosed on this deal)

 These are the things I see everyday. I see you helping hundreds of people with/your blog. I have folk IMing me when you've not done a blog in a month or so asking if you're OK. Christians and non believers asking when your going to blog again. All of your (not just mine now, kid, they like the hell out of you LOL) Highland clans asking wha we can do to help  once you're gone. (i don't expect it, but I've set down newer protacts.
        The love and support that everyone has shown is beyond compare! Therefore, you are NOT a failure! You're a man!

 A failure in your own eyes and mind, but in the eyes of everyone that knows you or taste, or   reads your blog.  It's how you express your feelings about what it's like to live, & die on your own accord. I'm so proud to be your wife. Words can't express the feelings I have for your courage (courage! lets try that. Facing any of this. I am honored to travel this road with such an amazing human being!!
  I Love You so Much" Thus endeth the Lessons Of Liz


 I never wanted any of this for us..EVER!
I've gone as far as thinking that Baby Red and I could put ourselves between a rock on a road rally hard place and that would be it. WRONG! That's not a legacy to life, its the short cheap shot out. I want this to work so people DON'T feel afraid, anxious is fine, afraid takes so much out of your body and spirit it doesn't have a place in the fight, until they fit into that place no one would see them. Sadly, they get noticed and jumped out by three little pussy boys. That's my mission. And just when it seems I can't get down any farther, some prick shoots my mom twice with a small caliber weapon. Mob. I am really lowness and it worked for a number of the Don's when they got sentenced. Then one thinks I'll rat and puts a hit on me. That's a dumb ass on several layers. Keep your mouth shut, mine more than nay's. Watch the boards for accidental shootings, stabbings, and poisonings.

 Geez Louise, Liz. You're so much stronger a woman than I am man, it's spooky! Your diagnostics are getting a little rush every time you use them. Also, my ability to cultivate you into a bit of field card demon is working long and loud. You're keeping this bull shit all to yourself will serve only yourself. Thank you feelings!!!

 Okay, one last mark up for me. Liz, there's a reason I've kind of pushed, okay, SHOVED you toward talking with B. She's smart as are You. She's strong, as are you. She earned her stripes with the school of hard knocks. It would be the same thing. A commodity. If they can create more of these formula enhanced soldiers, we had better get this ship sailing. Until next cycle                                                              

Thursday, October 2, 2014

The Exhausting Trip Was Perfect

   The Exhausting Trip to watch Liz throw at one of my favorite Highland Games in McPherson, KS was perfect. Even though I felt like I was going to sabotage the damn thing without really trying and for no known reason to me, we made it! I spent a bit over 100 hours with Liz and good friends I really only get to see once a year. It's been a favorite of mine since the first time I went when Al Myers was AD.  Joe Lane, Mark "Irish" Cannon, and a couple of other guys from my first year showed up. Joe and Mark got me started. It became part of my life. Something my friend Starly Craig calls my "Amour De La Vie". She's right, it is part of my "Love of Life". It keeps me going when things look a little bleak.
  It's what I wanted to show Liz. All the games are fun and a great way to travel and participate in the greatest athletic endeavor I've found. The Highland Games require so much from competitors in physical and technical skill, it was something I didn't think I'd ever master. 2012 was my best year. I took Second at McPherson my best showing as a Master. Liz gets a Third Place on her fourth Games. My God, I was so proud I had to go hide so I didn't cry in front of all the burly men. She turned her first caber that day as well. Her smile blinded me for a while. Again, I was so proud of her, and could see that she is going to keep this up. I hope she does. The biggest thing about the Highland Games isn't the competition, it's the people who compete. I know a couple that aren't much to talk about when it comes to being personable. But in my experience, everyone from the Pro's on down will give tips and hints to help you improve. They do this during games, it's possibly the greatest exchange of sporting knowledge I've seen. It's done so everyone gets that shot. The place to improve themselves in a sport they love and enjoy. THAT is what I wanted Liz to see. I want her to see that the athletes I know and like are simply some of the best people I've ever met. I would hope she sees this too, and adds it to her "Amour De La Vie". Next year my nephew Josh Cook is wanting to throw. He's a Kansas boy, so I'm going to head him to HASA. Sorry TCAA, you're my group, and Liz's, but the kid needs something closer to home. HASA and TCAA to me, are two of the groups of athletes that are going to lead Heavy Athletics and Highland Games into the future. They both are active in their communities, do volunteer work, and strive to serve something bigger than themselves. That's damn straight honorable, and something that I see both groups excelling at on a regular basis. I'm Proud to be a member of TCAA, and proud to know so many in HASA. Charmed, is what I call myself.

  So, back to the road trip. Before we left on Thursday night, I was a piping fucking hot mess all day. I couldn't get my shit together at all. It put me behind, and Liz, following my fucked up directions, did exactly as I asked. Nothing. Then I got angry at myself, then her, then me again. We finally scooted about 7 hours behind. I could have shot myself if I'd not divyed the damn guns up months ago LOL.  Anyway, to my horror I find I have hell seeing at night from the car now. When the hell did that shit happen. We get a crappy but clean room in Sweetwater at the Bugdet Inn. Best WIFI we had the entire trip LOL!!!
  Man, we dicked around more than I did when I rode my bike! We saw Turnpike Country, nothing to be excited about, but it was nice to see the difference in the land, how quickly it changed, the hills and trees. Wonderful. Wichita looks so big now, compared to when I did some hanging around there late 80's. It's got a terrible crime rate, and that makes me sad, it's a really cool city overall.  Such a shame. The road to McPherson up I-35 was nice. It was getting toward dusk, and there isn't much prettier sky than Kansas at dusk an sunset. Sorry Texas, just a fact amigo. The hotel was really nice. Room right on the corner of the lobby, clean, nice and helpful staff. So nice for a change to get that service is more than hello and goodbye. It really was a nice Friday, and I was ready to crash and burn.  So we clean up, I prop up, and by the count of ten, my ass is out. Up at 0500 give or take. Make a pot of doghouse coffee and fix Liz her tail gate breakfast, and we are nearly off. I was running behind, of course, so I sent Liz ahead to check in for her games. Carting that huge fucking load was really burning me down. The sheep dog guy helped me get everything to the Athlete's area, and only took a "thank you' in payment. Nice folks at these games and this festival.
    I had company right off the bat. Thanks Glenn for coming out, even for a little bit. I had a good time talking to you. My Brother In Law Carl Cook, his wife Janice and son Josh came to visit as well. It was so nice to see them. Janice is a wonderful person, I think Carl isn't entirely up to speed on how wonderful she truly is, and I believe I need to let him know. Their son Josh, God Almighty that kid is HUGE! He has no clue how naturally strong he is physically. He's also a Godly man, who knows he is and doesn't have the need to tell every moving thing about it. He's strong enough in his faith people can see it without his pounding it into them. That's damn cool if you ask me.
  While I'm entertaining, Liz is throwing her Master's Implements, and doing a fine job of it. She needs better training than I could give her. She has massive amounts of raw natural talent, that if she can get cornered will push her right into a Master's World Championship in a couple of years. Maybe sooner. I can't put into words how proud I am of her. Not because she is throwing well, but because she stepped out of her comfort zone TO throw well. These are mostly people she'd never met. Five years ago, she'd never taken that chance. I'm so proud of her for taking it now. This is not an easy road for Liz, not by half. She is concerned about how she is going to get by without me. She's going to have a lot to adapt to, but she and the family will be fine. There are too many people watching out for them on my behalf. Something I never dreamed would happen. It's humbling.  So, back to the games!! Liz is hanging in with a solid  third place, throwing well. Sir Francis Brebner a Highland Game World Champion, historian, and play by play man par excellence. He talks to the Athletes as the games go on, asking them for their highlights, how they got inspired, what they like about the games and playing at McPherson. He got to Liz. He didn't know she was my wife and asked "What inspired you to take up the Highland Games? You're having a good day out here." She said "My husband", pointed at me, then excused herself with "I'm sorry, I can't go on".  She was classy in that moment, like I've always known she was. She had me leave almost right after the women finished. Nothing I could do could get her moving. So we left. Later, I get a text from the AD Terri Ventriss. Liz had taken third. She got a nice prize and a certificate to go with it. She missed the fun part of the Ladies Turning Cartwheels, a Mac tradition.
  I so overslept Sunday it was dopey. I was angry with myself for sleeping so long. The truth is, I was well on my way to completely done in, and the extra sleep was okay. We went by the grounds, they charged me to get in..again, dammit. While we were waiting for Terri Ventriss to gather up Liz's booty, we had a nice talk with Sir Francis. He explained to Liz he had no idea that she was my wife. Then went on recounting stories from his times in the Highland Games. I was so honored to have a few minutes of his time. I count that as a highlight on my trip. He's a great teller of tales, and a charm to listen to as he speaks. I'd tell you young guys, talk with him, learn what he has to say and make use of it. There are certain people that come your way only once. Sir Francis Brebner is one of them. Be sure you don't miss that boat.
   Terri and Larry Ventriss caught me before Liz and I could escape. They thanked me for what I've brought to the games, and what I continue to do to support Highland Games. I argue that I don't do a hell of a lot at all. They seem to see something I miss, giving of myself for one. Somehow, I guess I can't see the forest for the trees. I don't have a clue what I've done for any adulation at all. I'm thankful others do, and can make use of it as time goes on. As I've said. Charmed is what I am.
  I managed to escape Dave Glasgow and Gunner. I didn't want to leave with tears ruining my mascara. These games are as hard for me to leave behind as is Scarby, Arlington, Austin, San Antonio. It's not the games, really, as it is the people. I'm going to miss all of them something fierce. People look at me funny when I say things like that. "I'll miss this or that". "You're going to be dead, you can't miss things" Really? Are you positive? I'm not. I don't know shit about what goes on, other than the little bit I spied when I coded in Houston. Don't be so damn sure of your self, missing people naysayers.
  After we left McPherson, I conned Liz into taking a ride 100 miles too far east for sure, to see my Grandparents home in Reece, and my great Grandmother's home in Eureka. It was okay to go, although I wish I hadn't. They've let the home go. The property is nicely mown, that's a plus, but the old house is now storage. Such a shame. Beautiful floors in that house. Millions of memories as well. But, this is now, and much like myself, the old girl is fading away. Such is growth, in some cases. We found Granny Wilson's home. It's set back a bit, and it's every bit as tiny as I remember. Bennie Lorre's Service station is still standing, although it's a bar and grill now. Dad worked there once in a while. It was there that he and Bennie put a small blower on Ruth Green's 1963 Impala two door. Dad said that it would fly. Dell pitched a shit yard fit about it, saying she couldn't drive something like that because he couldn't. Dad called down the Father In Law thunder when he said "No, Dell, Ruth drives great, you can't drive for shit, never could". I believe that was taken poorly. So, we scooted south, headed toward Stillwater where we spent Sunday night. By then, I was so beaten down I fell asleep at 2000, woke up at 0900. Did it again, put us on the the damn haul ass or be home way late clock.
  I was angry with me again. I stay angry with me, because no one else will push me along like I will. Anyway, after a bit, we scoot along digging the scenery headed south. Smaller towns, lower speed limits, a bit more travel, but on the whole, entirely worth it. We the exception of needing another day. I asked Liz to keep eyes out for 1940 Ford PU's and mid 50's Chevy PU's. I saw two 1940 Fords, one was running. Between us, I think we found eight 53-58 Chevy trucks. Just for kicks, but that 40 Ford would make a crazy sleeper hot rod. Clean up the patina so stop the surface rust. Smooth it out, shoot 10 to 15 coats of clear coat on it so it won't rust any farther. 450 HP big block, update the frame (retro-mod. new frame with old body. best steering, COG, and braking for a high horsepower hot rod with better than perfect suspension) God what a ride that would be! We got passed going the opposite direction by a 64 Studebaker Avanti. What a great car!! It's a shame Studebaker was on it's heels when the developed that car. It was a great one.
  Land and homes for sale, all very affordable. Much more so that this pile of rocks we find around here for double the expense. Oil Boom that's hung on this long with no plan of shutting clear down, that'for dicinks a good thing, but it do make the land and homes expensive. As Liz and I are scooting south for home, I start running things through my half empty head. Liz needs something like an X-Ray Van. The kind of thing a radiologist would send out to these smaller communities with orders for diagnostic ex-rays of people in the towns, bring them back for reading, and set up again for follow up pictures. Would it work? Fucked if I know, but it was an idea. We see loads of very nice land, lots of for sale signs as we get closer to the cities. I don't believe she wants to live that close to a city again. I'm looking at someplace like Bartellsville for a place she can work and live comfy like. Besides, that trip between there and Tulsa is a pretty drive. I don't know, honestly, if she wants to live here after I'm gone and Tank graduates. I'm not so sure I could. Twenty one years is a while to live somewhere without having some qualms about maybe moving. I have had itchy feet for a few years, but like Liz, I wanted all the kids graduated. I was looking somewhere closer to Fort Worth. I like Ardmore OK. Such a damn shame that those plans took a piss at a rolling donut in 2 years.
  As we go along, it becomes horrifyingly obvious that there is no way we are getting to Midland just an hour or so before Liz must leave for work. Yep, Mad at Myself for dicking around and costing us time. I feed her at a nice little park, and while I'm cleaning up, I notice these public restrooms. I went in to use one, and found it to be clean and graffiti free. Now, in Midland, that won't happen. Why is that? Well, for all it's posturing as a wonderful conservative, no problem city, Midland has EVERY problem of a bigger city, graffiti included.. I've managed to talk Liz into resting so I can drive and she can get some much needed rest on the rest of the drive.
  I'll be damned if down the road, I'm hauling ass but there are construction barricades along the right side of the road. Those big concrete ones, they scare Liz a bit when she's awake. Well, she woke up and swore I was going to hit one. I wasn't, but a bit farther up the road I give up my keys to her. I made this deal, so I have to live with it, and it's not a bad rule. (1) IF I EVER SCARE YOU DRIVING, I WILL GIVE UP MY KEYS. I did that.
(2) IF I AM AT ANY TIME CONCERNED ABOUT MY CITY DRIVING, I GIVE UP MY EXTRA 'CITY ROADS' KEYS. Which I did this evening. After all the driving and crazy assed stuff I've done with a car and or pick up, I've turned mine in for peace of mind.  I wasn't worried about hitting someone else and causing them bodily damage. I was concerned about ME being hit and causing ME bodily harm, as well as anyone with me.

  This week of rest and healing from the Rest and Healing Trip has been very hard. I think I wasn't as clear as I need to be when telling people about it. Yeah, I'm certainly concerned about making the other three goals I've set for myself. What I did with this trip, and I proved it out, that when I get worn out, push myself too hard, or do any fifty different things I do over the top, the cancer is going to take advantage of it. I've gone so hard for so many hours, Baxter put on his running shoes and not much is slowing him down. This will go on until I rest enough to push back a little. I've tried, but it's not easy. It's less easy when you try far too soon to make it work for you. Monday I'll be better than today, and I'll see how that rolls for me. Should be okay, but we'll see.

  The bottom line? I would NOT trade anything for the time Liz and I had this weekend. NOT ONE SECOND!! All the extra pain, exhaustion, loss of weight but not appetite, it is all worth it. I saw so many old friends, new friends, and the entirety of the trip was filled with beautiful scenery. There was something that passed between Liz and I, even after 21 years, she got to see part of my past. Places where my live was shaped and formed, and what helped me become what I am, and who I am. All without a lot of talking. I saw it come through her though, and it was beautiful to behold. This was a trip that held a lot more for me than I thought originally it would. I was down on myself for all the lost time we had, all of that stupidly foolish on my part. I finally confided in Liz that I was awake long before she was, or slept through her waking and leaving for work time simply because I didn't want her to see me feeble. I'm terribly weak first thing in the morning. Depending on the day, it can last all day.

  The Goals!!! They are intact, so far. See Baby Chance/Stephanie, watch Liz throw in the Celtober Women's Team Challenge, do something nice for TCAA. The finest group of folks I know. T Day, X-Mas, Baby Sarah/Tim. It's a long time. Oh yeah! Since I added "Go To The Old Cable Tool Rig" Goal. That's mid month. I think I can swing that and save it. We'll see

  Thank each of you for the prayers, the support of myself and my family, and all you do along this trip of Terminal Velocity, right toward Critical Mass. Critical Mass is coming. Things will get to be tighter and harder to attain for me, but we'll do without, or rat hole some to tide us over. This is a game that's far from over for me.

 Go out, smell the clean air, suck in that sunrise and sunset as if you needed them for life, because you do. Nap time!