Category Archives: Personal Stories

“L-W… See You There!”

THE BEST KIND OF FRIENDS!

To be honest, it almost seems like it’s an epidemic. But perhaps I am just finally arriving in that section of life where this seeming epidemic is just another day in the life of others.

We all supposedly learn things along the way of our path through this life. And true, the things learned by individuals will be as diverse as is the entire nature of everything that lives, be it man or beast or fowl or fish or… well, you get the diversity concept I’m sure.

I have told this story before in more general terms as it applied to the person being written about. But, this time is the first occasion that I recall where I am going to detail out some thoughts that have been previously held back. Why held back? Well, the psychology of that presentation would probably be better made in a lecture room by someone way smarter than the getting older man currently typing on these computer keys. However, suffice to say “Pride” is always lurking somewhere in the background. Possibly and more likely? Lurking in The Foreground. See? That’s a better acknowledgement of Pride already!

It was Super Bowl Sunday 2017. I decided, with the female encouragement that abides inside my home, to go out and watch the big game at The Farm with my Mom and the others who also be there.

However, the primary focus of this journey really would take place some twelve miles prior-to us arriving at The Farm. This would be a much bigger event than the Super Bowl from my perspective.

At the north end of Earth, still that little town in Texas, resides a Husband and Wife that I have known all of my adopted life. So, since 1965 I have been blessed to have these two folks in my life in such a way as to say: “They have been a very real part of the tapestry of my life.” Harold and Faye Miller.

On the trip from Slaton to Earth and then on out to The Farm were three travelers. My wife Karen, my good friend Max Jackson (89 years young) and myself. Yep, that’s three. I had decided, based upon some news I had received just a couple days earlier, that we would be stopping in Earth to visit Harold and Faye. It just so happens that Max had also been an Earthling back in the early 1970’s and he had mentioned to me that he and Harold had been friends for a very long time. In fact, Max says that Harold was the first person he ever met in Earth in the 1950’s and that it was some years later before he decided to move to Earth and run one of the local gins there. So Max, Karen and I headed for their house that Super Bowl Sunday afternoon. But I wanted to be sure that it was okay to stop and visit prior-to our arrival. While stopped at the McDonald’s in Littlefield for the required break-in-travel action, I called the Miller home to be sure we were not going to burden or overwhelm them if we stopped in. Faye answered the phone and I could tell she was excited to hear that we would come see them. So, thirty minutes later we were parked at the Miller home.We arrived around 4pm and I did not plan on staying too long.

If you were raised in a small community town you may understand this next part a little better than those who grew up in larger towns or cities. I often tell folks when discussing my childhood that I was “Raised by a community”. I guess I could say I was “Community’s Child”. That is in fact very much the truth. And the Miller’s are a perfect example of what I am saying.

I knew Faye Miller because she went to church where my family did there in Earth. She was ALWAYS very sweet and kind and genuine with her time spent talking to me. Harold went to a different church there in Earth. However, with him being the Postmaster in Earth and my Grandparents owning a business there too, I was often permitted to go to the Post Office and, knowing the special secret combination of the lock on the mailbox, I would get the mail and deliver it back to the store. I never made a trip inside the Post Office that I was not greeted by Mr. Miller. I never called him Harold until we became friends much later in life. So, while my relationship with Harold and Faye Miller was mostly a simple childlike acquaintance, they both were very kind from my very first recollections.

Harold Miller became very instrumental in my life as I became a teenager. I had been ravaged by the disease of R.A. and Mom and Dad and Granddad Maxcey had driven me to various locations all over the area for the joy filled fun of spending time in a Doctor’s office. But, it just so happened that while at one of these Doctor visits in Ardmore, Oklahoma, the tumblers of life aligned and Dr. Metcalf, a man who looked more like he belonged on a horse in a pasture chasing cattle rather than the white cloaked Dr. behind a desk, brought up the topic of… Texas Scottish Rite Hospital for Cripple Children in Dallas, Texas. If memory serves this was sometime in 1972.

There is much I do not know or understand in the events and workings of the “how it happened” that made possible the very first trip to that Dallas Hospital. But, I do know that the men that met at the Masonic Lodge there in Earth in conjunction with an Amherst, Texas Doctor who happened to be a 32nd Degree Mason met with me and my parents to confirm certain qualifications that were required to be met for acceptance to the Scottish Rite Hospital. The man that got the ball rolling with the Masonic Lodge in Earth was… Harold Miller.

I remember there was one thing that worked to my huge dis-advantage. My age. I was almost too old to be taken at the Hospital. It is just a Rules thing I suppose. However, only a few days, like 3, before my next birthday that would have assured the disqualification, I was being poked and prodded and x-ray’d and talked to and… being made a patient of the Texas Scottish Rite Hospital. Over and over that day at the Hospital there would be different members of the various staff ask me “What are you doing here today? The Arthritis Clinic is not for another week.” I don’t think Mom or Dad realized at the time that some very blessed forces were at work during those moments and days. Because by all rights I should not have been there on a day when the Doctors were only seeing children with severe mental disturbances and illnesses. Okay, who knows… maybe they thought I did fit the mold for that too.

In only a couple years I would spend the better part of my 16-year old life in that same Hospital. Staying over 5-months and then Two New Hips later, in the summer and fall of 1974, all the efforts that had been made way back home in that little town of Earth, Texas, and as result of the servant’s heart of Mr. Harold Miller, a young man was permitted the opportunity to one day have a life that would have never been possible without them all.

This morning the phone rang. It was a message from my Mom letting us know that Mr. Harold Miller had passed away from this life only hours earlier. Colon Cancer. Discovered only a couple weeks ago when the Doctor then let Harold know “You have two to four… maybe six weeks.” It was just under two weeks that transpired from that statement to today’s conclusion.

Super Bowl Sunday 2017 Max Jackson, Karen Branscum and myself stopped in to visit Harold and Faye Miller. Our stay was fairly brief, mostly for Harold’s benefit.

As we exited the house after having said the things folks say in these situations, I lagged behind until everyone had made it outside. It was just Harold and me. I stopped to look him in the eyes and told him that I loved Him and Faye and that I had never forgotten all the blessings of life I have been provided as a direct result of his loving concern all those years ago. As I turned to leave he said: “I’ll see you in our New Home.”

And I thought as I walked away… “Lord-Willing, Indeed You Will!”

We went on out to The Farm where my very good friend Brad Freeman was visiting with Mom while awaiting our arrival. We all watched that super crazy game and stuffed ourselves on sausage queso and pigs in a blanket and chips and dips and most of all… Memories.

There are so many people that have been interwoven into the man that I have become. Good people. I sincerely hope that one day there will be someone who can recall a part of me that was beneficial to them and their life. But, I am in no rush for that to happen at this moment. I will let tomorrow take care of itself, just as it always has thanks to folks like Harold and Faye Miller.

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It was only a few months after being released to go home, after those surgeries in 1974, that I found myself back in Dallas for the groundbreaking event being held for the New Scottish Rite Hospital that was being prepared to be built. I was the Patient Representative and as I remember I gave a little talk and read a poem. There were several dignitaries there that day. But, the people that were the dignitaries of my life resided in the region of West Texas I still call home.

Harold Miller, Thank You and Rest Well My Friend.

glenn

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GOING HOME! (Updated)

IT WAS FORTY (Two) YEARS AGO! (Originally Posted 11.25.2014)

As I remember, the day was a warm one. Warm, of course, being relative to this time of year in Dallas, Texas. And, having been advised only the day before, I was apprehensive and fretful as to the “hows” of the exact details as to how this would all go down. Wednesday, 11.24.1974 (Thanksgiving eve), into my hospital room walked two people who I knew well, but they were not my parents.

Time is a funny thing. It mostly will fuzzify your recollections of actual events. Especially when those events, at the time, are something that impress you as being overwhelming. At the moment when you are undergoing the overwhelming event, a certain oddity consumes you. You mentally scramble to keep up with all the information that is being presented, whether in words or actions. Additionally, there are the mental gymnastics of trying to anticipate every next small detail which can tie the brain in knots. Of curse the actual unfolding of the complete event will find you missing out on several of the various steps as to the “how” of everything which actually occurs. But, the bigger picture always remains and the details get filled-in as best you remember. Well, perhaps as best as you can create in the re-telling of it. So, for this writing effort today, the specific memories of that day remain most clearly distinct inside my mind and inside my heart. Even now, all these Forty (Two)-Years later.

The two folks that walked into my room were the age of my parents. They also happened to be the parents of a classmate of mine named Kim. Kim would pass away far too young while in her early forties after having been ravaged in the latter parts of her life by a leukemia typed disease that found her getting bone marrow transplants in efforts to save her still young life. I still recall vividly the day when a large assembly gathered in a small church in an even smaller Texas town on a hot summer day. I will forever remember the very last time I witnessed Kim’s parents standing over her casket at the front of that little church following the funeral services. Honestly, that was probably the saddest scene I have ever witnessed and I sincerely still pray I never have to watch that scene play-out again. However, this story recommences with those two folks walking into my hospital room at the Texas Scottish Rite Hospital for Crippled Children. It was Wendell and LaVelle Clayton. I was surprised that they were the ones there and yet, I felt secure in knowing that these kind people from my home town area were ever so graciously attending to every little detail of the nurses instructions while fully assuring me that I was really the one they were there to listen to and make feel comfortable in the unusual, for me at the time, events that were continuing to unfold.

I was sixteen years old. I was less than sixty-days removed from having had two separate eight-hour surgeries that had totally replaced both hips that had been destroyed by a youth-filled life of aggressive rheumatoid arthritis. Nine years of active destruction at this point in my life. I was only five feet and two inches tall and weighed in the range of eighty pounds. Yeah, skin and bones and prosthesis. Those prosthetic replacements probably added more weight to my frame than what had been removed. But, there I was. Unable to walk… yet. However, I could stand with the aid of specially modified crutches and shoes which were designed to permit my balance to remain on my forearms while permitting my weight-bearing joints some small relief of pressure and pain which was mostly due to the inactivity of the previous six months and the atrophy that is a natural course of physical failures. RA is kinda special that way.

The trip in the vehicle lasted only a brief while. And Wendell would say Wendellish things like “That’s as funny as a barbed wire commode”. Actually, that’s pretty funny to picture. But, that was mostly his nature. (I recently presented Wendell’s eulogy for the family. It was just a couple months ago in 2016.)

LaVelle was kindly answering and reassuring me regarding any questions I had about mostly trivial things I was apprehensive about. And before I realized it, we were there. There was: The DFW Airport. I was going to be flying home.

Now, I was not a complete novice at this flying thing. My Dad had only three and a half months earlier come down to that hospital and taken me home by way of my first ever plane flight. We flew out of the then brand new DFW Airport. That excursion home was designed to lift my spirits and create a window of time for some surgical tools to be provided to the Scottish Rite Hospital where I was having the surgical procedures performed. You see, the first attempt at surgery to replace the first hip was aborted after several hours of unsuccessful efforts at intubation. They simply could not get into the airway to my lungs because of my inability to bend my head far enough back for that hose to slide in. The process that failed did accomplish one thing though. It had severely cut out chunks of skin from inside my mouth and left me with a very, very sore mouth. But, such was the effort toward a hoped for success. When I had flown home with Dad, my first flight ever, I knew that I still had not accomplished anything toward again ever standing or walking or… living. But unknown to me at the time, the hospital had consulted with some medical professionals in England and they had created this new “corn cob” typed apparatus that could be inserted into my windpipe. It was that little invention that would allow the not-so-flexible airway hose to be properly inserted into my lungs while I slept during the necessary surgical hip replacements surgeries that were awaiting. After having remained out on the farm for about ten days the journey in the car back to that hospital in Dallas was again made. Then it was surgery on the (right hip) and only a few weeks later, surgery on the (left hip). Then waiting while healing and rehab and learning to again stand and going though the process of taking a very few steps with those extremely modified crutches.

Okay, back to this date all those forty (two) years ago. My destiny of flight would find me returning home while having two new hips and a hopeful view toward the future. Well, slowly hopeful is probably more the truth.

“If you see someone named Jack just be sure you don’t yell out… Hi Jack!. Another Wedellism provided as we sat awaiting time to board the plane in Dallas bound for Lubbock. I again thought that was something funny and I held to that for future reference, along with that barbed-wire commode thing.

I was the first one loaded onto the plane. They used this little bitty chair on rollers that was just wide enough to sit on while being just narrow enough to roll down the aisle of the plane. I was painstakingly seated along with Wendell and LaVelle.  Once we were seated Wendell said, “Lavelle. You better take your medicine.” Then he turned to me and said, “Sometimes she pukes on these flights.” Well, I quietly freaked out that maybe I was not far enough away from LaVelle in case any projected-spillage occurred. Yeah, I can perhaps be a bit OCD, whatever that is supposed to mean. But, no puke and no spillage and the plane landed safely in Lubbock. There awaiting our arrival was my Mom and my Dad and my two Sisters, Dawn and Wendy. And the trek to the farm from Lubbock, some seventy-plus miles away, had begun. And as Mom drove, I again lay in the back portion of that Ford LTD station wagon. The very same car that about five months earlier had taken me down to the hospital in the heat of that (1974) summer. And, as Dad picked at my sisters, Dawn (15) and Wendy (14) talked and argued and leaned over the seat to say things to me in the back until I blurted out “Ya’ll sure do talk loud. Do you have to talk so loud?”. And then Mom chimed in, “Yes. Softer would be nice.” But, we were from the farm and that old expression which asks if you were “raised in a barn?” aptly applied to all five of us, for the most part. The volume became again a way of life and the slow and methodical efforts of regaining my strength and abilities, that most everyone takes for granted, were in some part eventually accomplished.

We arrived at our farm home that day, Wednesday. My little bedroom had been fully decorated by some of the kids from church and school. I later learned that the eldest daughter of Wendell and LaVelle, Lisa, had actually done most all the work. That is something I hope to never forget. I went to bed that Wednesday night still fully dependent on others to survive. But, the very next day would be Thanksgiving Day. It would be the first time we hosted our families on Thanksgiving Day at our own home out on the farm. Most usually we had two separate gatherings. Around noon in town, Earth, with my Mother’s family and then later that evening just down the road from our farmhouse which was my Dad’s folks home. But, on Thursday, November 28th, 1974, I sat in my new over sized wheelchair and ate lunch with my family and then watched as the Dallas Cowboys, who were for the first time in ages going to miss the Playoffs, replace an injured quarterback named Roger Staubach with a kid who had played at a little college in Abilene, Texas and, the QB who would become known for his efforts of this one game. He was: The Mad Bomber! Clint Longley.

The picture was very clear on our still black and white television. But, my family and my friends and all the rest of the world was once again closer to being in “full and living” color. Yep, some things are very well-remembered.

memories at farm

It was Forty (Two) Thanksgiving Years Ago. I still consider myself to be most blessed among men. A blessing which could never be earned but rather, a blessing that is given by those who know the way of sharing Love.

Today I will be attending the Cowboys Thanksgiving Day game against the Washington Redskins. It will be loud and exciting and eventually committed the annuls of more Thanksgiving memories. But, for all of what may happen on this notable date of American history, I shall forever remember first and foremost that Thanksgiving Day all those years ago of 1974. And, I will again be Thankful.

Happy Thanksgiving To Each and Everyone Of You!

GLB says… LATER!

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Filed under AT&T STADIUM EVENTS, Current Events, Dallas Cowboys, Personal Stories, Sports (Misc)

NO “WORDS” SUFFICE.

WRITTEN BECAUSE I REALLY DO “UNDERSTAND”

Right up front I will tell you to just skip this posting if you are hard of heart, soul, mind or spirit. It’s not intended for you if any of those words apply to you. Seriously.

And now I write.

Few things, no, make that very few things can cause me to cry. In fact, I could probably list every occasion when tears have actually flowed over the past (30) years of my life. The death of my granddad in December of 1984. That event reconstructed a lot of my thinking going forward and I am not saying that it has always been for the best. Just different. Then there was a hot summer day in July of 2000. I was attending a funeral for a high school classmate that had passed away. I was helping the church singing group. I had been to see her in the hospital a couple months earlier and, while the prognosis was hopeful the realities were bleak. She and her family had (have) always been “extra” kind to me in special ways. Especially in my youth. I did really well through the entire funeral until… it ended. After everyone had exited the auditorium, except for our singing group, it happened. I watched as her Mom and Dad stepped forward from the pew in that little west Texas church to view their child for that final time. Seeing that crushed my heart, my mind, my soul and my spirit. And well…

I remember back in the early 1990’s when I was up against the feeling I have right now. Although I was not directly addressed by the person that I would later publicly pray for in that metroplex church before we left the building that evening, when the announcement was made that this little girl had been afflicted… I was left with no options as again my entire being was engaged in the consequences of what those words that had just been publicly spoken meant for that little girl. At the end of services I went forward to say a little something before leading the prayer. While there is probably not anything I said that night that is still remembered by anyone all these years later, I still remember praying these words before that church family.

“Please Lord, let the disease be anything else for this girl. Just please, not this.”

I always like to arrive super early to the games that we attend in the suite at AT&T Stadium. Gives me time to tape little pieces of paper with the names of attendees on their designated seats. Then I can grab my binoculars and sit down to see what Uncle Jerry Jones is up to. Usually about forty-five minutes before kick-off he will make his way to the field to greet and mostly… be greeted. But by game time the stadium fills and the suite fills and the start of the game is enjoyed.

Their group arrived a little bit late. I think they may have gotten detained at dinner before heading out to the stadium. But, I expect there was another reason they were slow getting from the parking lot and then finally all the way up to the suite. Here is where that crushing feeling comes into my life again.

I was distracted as the entire group entered in phases. I most always like to greet everyone when they arrive and then show them where the seats are with their names on them. And as I was busy doing this I did not notice her immediately upon entrance. I was saying “hello” to her father-in-law at the time she and her mother-in-law found their seats. The two seats right in front of mine. I will say right here… sometimes it is just too odd as to the way things are worked out. This is another of those oddities, at least for me it was.

When I sat down I greeted both women sitting directly below me. The mother-in-law on the left and by the steps of the aisle and the younger woman to her right and up against the glass partitioned wall that separates one suite from another. It was about midway through the first quarter that I saw the younger lady start turning around in her chair to face me as she sat with her legs under her on the seat. I thought that a bit strange. Then she spoke. While these may not be her exact words, they are the exact meaning. “I have RA.” She spoke rather softly and continued to say… “I’m scared.” I sat my binoculars on the little stand beside my chair and leaned forward to better hear her. By now I can see the range of thoughts and emotions in her eyes that I could identify with so very, very well. “You have RA, right?” she asked,  I’m not sure who had told her but she obviously knew because that’s not something you just throw out on speculation.

I responded “Yes. How long have you had it?” At this point I am seeing the puffiness of her hands as she reached back and answered “A year now and I’m afraid and scared. I am in such pain and I’m perplexed and fearful.”

“How old are you now?” Typically I would never ask a female that question. While I may not be the wisest of the turnips that fell off the truck last week, I do have a bit of moxy from time to time. Probably just a bit though. I thought I understood her to say she was “thirty-three”.

This process went on a few times up until the halftime of the game. She would sit there a bit and then work her way into the sitting backward position and start asking questions while making statements all at the same time. She is, as she said, “Lost”.

I have been defined in many ways throughout my life. Mostly my adult life I should say in referencing these following words. “Over the top.” “Arrogant.” “Prideful.” “Stuck up.” “Smart aleck.” I particularly like that last one. Makes me think that “those who think they know so much should just be quiet and let those like me speak!”. Oh well, the nature of a man will shine through I suppose. I like to think of it as… humor.

There is a word that I sincerely hope accompanies me when my name is brought up after I am no longer around. Not that folks might have ever really seen it in me, but maybe they will have just known it. “Understanding.”

Those seats in front of me were occupied by others in the second half of the game. I watched as she struggled to get up and down and walk and move and… smile. She managed to smile throughout the entire evening. Perhaps I really “understand” that part better than anything.

There are many things I would love to say to her family. I am sure my wife would be way better equipped to say the “right things” as compared to what my words might be as she has now been living with me for over (32) years. But I expect the opportunity will never really present itself. And, as I am not one to overtly thrust myself into another persons life without being invited, well… I don’t think anyone ever asks another to “overtly” enter their life, I would  hope that she and her immediate and then also her extended family avail themselves of the knowledge that would be so very helpful to this young woman as she struggles through so many kinds of hell that trying to define them all would be another hell in and of itself. You see, it will be the family and close friends that determine how her hell goes. And, no matter how powerfully assistive anyone in her life may become the simple fact remains: She will be alone with her thoughts and fears and pain. For these parts of the fight are locked away in regions of the heart, soul, mind and spirit that can only be reached and then touched by the Creator Himself. Period.

In less than two years I will be fifty-seven years old. My RA life will be fifty years old. While I will have battled the RA war for longer than this young woman has been alive, she will catch-up with my “understanding” very quickly. There is nothing joyful about that. Often there will be no words that suffice to help.

There are still very few things that can cause me to cry. May God Bless Her… Family.

GLB says… LATER!  (Originally Written 11.19.2013)

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