Sunday, August 30, 2015

Funny Boy

I had just finished telling an amusing story when, instead of *being* amused, Elder Son began correcting my story's facts.

I interrupted.  "It only matters that it's funny.  It doesn't have to be accurate."

He replied, "And in your case, it doesn't have to be funny, either."

Wow.
I gave him a high five for that one.
In our house, insults are rewarded... as long as they're funny.


Tuesday, August 25, 2015

My Dad: 1930 - 2015

He had a full-time job at the auto factory which helped financially support his full-time farm.
He sold off the dairy herd when his fourth child was born, and by the time his fifth child (me!) came into this world, he sacrificed a plot of good soil to build a brand new house for my mother to raise all the children.

Depending on the season, my dad worked different shifts at the auto plant.  He was either getting up long before the kids got up for school, or coming home long after everyone had gone to bed.  Occasionally, he would take weeks-long voluntary layoffs so he could get the crops into or out of the ground.
When he wasn't at the plant, he was in the barn or in the fields.

Many days when I came home from school, I didn't know where my dad was.
"Is Dad home?"
"He's out in the field planting corn."
That meant Dad was home.  He wasn't in the house, but he was home.
That was just fine.

Once, I arrived home just in time to watch Dad's truck drive away.
"Where's Dad going?"
"He's gotta go to work, of course."
"I didn't even get to say goodbye."
That was kinda sad.

A lot of nights I'd go to bed while Dad was still out.
"When will Dad get home?"
"It'll be late. You'll be asleep."

Mom told me that Dad checked on all of us kids when he'd get home in the middle of the night.  I have to trust that it's true, because I never once saw him do it.  His night time stealth never woke me.
Mom and Dad told me that one night, Dad peeked in on my sister and me.  Lily was asleep, shivering in her bed with no blankets or sheets, and I was nowhere to be found.  After a short investigation, Dad found all of Lily's bedcoverings stuffed under her bed.  When he tugged on them, he found me wrapped up inside them.  Apparently, I had tumbled out of bed, rolled to Lily's side of the room, and stolen all her blankets.  Dad untangled me, put me to bed, and covered Lily. 
I hadn't woken up.  I have no recollection of this having happened.  I have to trust that it's true.

There were plenty of other nights I woke up to hear Dad snoring.
He had that annoying kind of snore where he would stop breathing for a while and then snort in air suddenly and loudly.  (Always amusing when he woke himself up with his own snoring on the couch, btw.)
I don't know how Mom felt about Dad's loud snoring, but the sound was always calming to me.  It meant Dad was home.  It meant we were all safe.  It meant Dad was there to take care of everything.
Whatever the reason was that I was awake, if I heard Dad snoring, I felt peace, and I fell back asleep.

Dad retired from the plant decades ago.  He kept farming even after he sold the farm to his youngest son.  He sacrificed another plot of good soil to build a second brand new house to retire in with my mother.
His wife of 50 years was lost to cancer five years ago. Seven months later, he lost a daughter to cancer as well.
He fought and conquered two kinds of cancer himself.  When the kidney cancer returned, he did his best to stand his ground, but the scars from his previous battles would prevent another victory.

I visited my dad for the last time last week.  Even though we told him he didn't have to, he insisted on standing on his own two feet to hug The Husband, the boys and me goodbye.
That was Wednesday.

Army Sister texted me late Monday night to let me know Dad's time was near.  She wanted to know if I wanted her to call me as soon as Dad slipped away, or if I'd rather she waited to tell me in the morning.
"Call me right away," I texted back.
I tossed and turned for what seemed like a long time.  How near was "near"?  I almost wanted to stay awake and wait, stand watch with my siblings even if they were 400 miles away.
I wondered if Dad might come visit my dreams as he left.  I didn't really think he would; that just doesn't seem to be his kind of thing.  But if he would, I'd have to be asleep for him to do it, right?

And that's when it occurred to me.
Dad would come check on me in the middle of the night like he always used to do.  I wouldn't notice; he wouldn't want to wake me up.  I would just have to trust that it was true.
The smile formed on my face before I could even realize how happy the thought had made me.

Army Sister's phone call woke me at 12:30am.  Dad was gone.
That would have been just about the right amount of time for him to have driven home from the auto plant's second shift, gotten a bite to eat, and have checked in on all of us kids.

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Best last memories with my dad

This is for me.
To remember.

***

Best memories from my last visit with my dad:

1) Sitting on the floor in front of my brother's couch where Dad is resting. Just the two of us in the room.
"So, what's new in Wisconsin?" he asks.
And we talk about everything and nothing until he decides he'd like to go home.

2) Sitting on the floor in front of Dad's couch where Dad is resting, now under the influence of strong pain killers* that render him unconscious every few seconds. Through the window, we are watching Younger Son perform his juggling act on the back deck. We weren't sure how long Dad would stay awake, so Younger Son starts with the fire torch finale rather than save it for the end.
"I see the flames!" Dad declares.
"Those are Younger Son's torches," I tell him.
"Is there a bucket of water out there in case he needs it?"
"Yes," I lie.

Younger Son spends time pulling out every item from his collection and throwing them to the delight of his aunts, uncles, and cousins.
Every time I turn to see if Dad is still awake, he is watching.
He sees the whole show.

(*Odd things Dad has blurted out of nowhere while spaced out on morphine:
- Don't put any beans with my supper.  I don't want them.
- If there's gonna be a meeting, it has to be Sunday. )

3). At this moment, I am sitting in the chair across from Dad's couch where he is resting.  He is snoring.

It is the most beautiful sound in the world.
As it always did when I was a child, it brings me peace.

Monday, August 17, 2015

"Will Work for Food"

The Husband has begun remodeling one of our bathrooms, and he knows he will need help removing the tub.  He would like to ask our boys if two of their friends would be willing to assist. While we enjoyed dinner together, The Husband proposed this possibility to our children to see if they think the two friends will be receptive to the idea.
"I think with the two of you and the two of them helping, it should only take a couple hours," The Husband explained.  "I'd buy them pizza..."
"They'll do it!!"

You see, the two friends have recently moved into their first apartment and have been learning how to buy their own food for the first time.
Younger Son told us, "Yeah, one of them was licking last bits of pizza off the pizza cutter last night."  Younger Son slowly mimed licking a utensil and spoke in his friend's sad voice, "We have to pay for our own wi-fi."

***

I think these two friends living on their own is the best real-life learning opportunity my kids have had in a long time.
It's like The Sims... only real.

Thursday, August 13, 2015

What time is it?

He:  What time is it?
Me:  Seven dollars.
He:  ?
Me:  I mean seven o'clock.

Geez, I'm tired.


The Most Frightening Radio Trivia Contest Ever

I have friends who do not understand why working in radio has made me a paranoid freak and overly protective of my private life and on-line privacy.  It's okay.  There are times I think I'm a bit over the top about it myself.

But then I remember stories like this one, and I understand that even when I might be at fault for revealing more about myself than I realize, listeners behave like scary creepers way more often than they realize.

***

It was the late 1990's, and I was sent to Morning Show Boot Camp with my co-host.
We met lots of other radio morning show hosts and their producers.  One fellow we met was interesting, but I remember only two things about him:
1)  He liked to introduce himself to young women using the name of another, more famous, radio DJ.  And way too many women believed him (and slept with him).
2)  He told us the story of the most frightening radio trivia contest ever.

He started the story by describing the woman who identified herself as his biggest fan.  This woman had a habit of stopping by every remote broadcast his guy hosted. She smelled of alcohol from across the room, he told us, the kind of smell that seeps out of a person's pores after days of imbibing.
His biggest fan, she was.
One night, she showed up at the radio station.  He didn't want to let her in, but he also didn't want to be rude.  She had never acted inappropriately; she was just a drunk lady who probably had no real friends aside from the people she listened to on the radio.  She said she had something to give to him.  "That should have been a bad sign," he told us, "But I let her in anyway."
He led her to the studio, because he was on the air at the time and had to start the next song.  The whole time he was thinking that now he was trapped, and he was alone, and she would probably never take a hint that she'd need to leave as soon as he'd like her to.
The gift she gave him was a stack of paper.  She had written for him questions for a trivia contest.

The entire list of questions were about him.
One of the questions was "What color is the wastebasket in (this radio dj)'s bathroom?"

He was horrified!  This woman had never been in his house.
Or, had she?

She explained.
It had taken her most of a year of listening to his show, but she felt she'd done a good job.  If anyone else had been paying attention as closely as she had, they'd all know the answers because the questions were all based on things he had mentioned on the air at one point or another.
And he realized that, yes, he had talked about buying a bathroom wastebasket on the air months earlier because he had made a big fuss over how many places he had to look to find a basket in a color that matched his bathroom... green.

So, it had not been the creepy encounter that it had at first appeared to be, but he never ever invited anyone into the radio station after hours after that, no matter how big of a fan it might have been.

Monday, August 10, 2015

Fancy Feast

This is not my story, but it is one of my favorites.

***

Pat was the morning man at one of the radio stations where I worked in the early 1990's.  He had a cat named Buddah.  Buddah had a diet of mainly Fancy Feast canned cat food.  One of Pat's favorite things to do at dinnertime was to ask, " Buddah, Feast?" because Buddah would meow like crazy.

One day Buddah got out of Pat's apartment and disappeared.  Pat alerted the local humane societies and police departments in case someone reported or brought in a stray.
And he waited.
A day or two later, the humane society called Pat to let him know they had a cat that fit his description of Buddah.  Could he come in and identify this cat?  Pat said no.
"Just go in front of the cage and say, 'Feast'.  Then tell me what happens."

Even from the phone, Pat heard his beloved Buddah hollering from the cage half a building away.

***

Both Buddah and Pat have passed from this world.
But I remember them fondly every time I feed my own cat a can of Fancy Feast.
(Of course, he doesn't understand why I hold up the can and say, "Buddah, feast?")

Thursday, August 06, 2015

Manure

Conversation at work...

Co-Worker #1:  My uncle grew up on a farm, so he likes the smell of cow manure.  Isn't that weird?

Me:  I grew up on a farm, too.  I don't mind the smell of cow manure, but I can't stand horse or pig manure.

Co-Worker #2:  I think I'm learning many new things about my co-workers today.

Me:  And you're not even learning everything.

#2:  That's a little frightening.

Tuesday, August 04, 2015

Struggling with an Angel

This is the dream I had this morning:


I'm getting ready for bed, and I check the front door to make sure it's locked.  It is not.  As I twist the door knob, the door pops open and presses against me. 
"Wow, it's windy!" I think.
I push on the door to close it, but I can't get it shut. That's when I realize there is a tall man wearing a white button up shirt on the other side of the door pushing it open. 
I struggle to shut the door, lean a shoulder on it, turn my back and shove with both feet.
I know The Husband is in the basement, so I yell for help.  Everything I shout comes out sounding like Dudley Doright.
"Help!" I yell.  "I can't hold him!"
And then I call for my dad.
The man at the door gives one big shove, reaches past the door, and he takes something off the shelves in the entryway.  He shows it to me as if saying, "then I'll just take this."

And I wake up.

***

I can make all kinds of significance out of many things in this dream. But I don't know what this means. 
I woke up feeling not bad about it.  I mean, I wasn't losing the struggle; i wasn't winning it either.  I *was* holding my own. 
I only felt bad after I realized I'd called out my dad's name.

The first thing I did when I got out of bed was check the shelves by the front door to see what the man in white would have taken, but there's nothing there that is related to my dad. 

It has occurred to my the the man in white may have represented an angel. I half expected to receive a phone call from a sibling this morning telling me Dad passed away at 3:30am.  But I have heard nothing. 

You are invited to analyze.
Have fun, there's lots of good symbolism here.  :-)

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

"Is It Ham?!?"

Co-worker left the office in the middle of the morning so she could watch her daughter show a pig at the county fair.
She got back late with a Jimmy John's for her lunch.

I pointed at the bag. "Is that... a ham sandwich?"
She looked at me puzzled. "What?"
With a horrified, what-have-you-done voice, I demanded to know, "Is. That. HAM?!?"

Everyone in the office made the ham/pig connection at the same time.
In a meek voice, co-worker replied, "Yes. It is."

I dropped the mic and left the stage.