Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Rules, Faith, Small Towns and Taylor Heersche

Today's blog is about rules, small towns and faith and the common denominator of all of these is a young girl named Taylor Heersche.

First the rules. There are two rules that should stand fast always. Rule #1...no parent should outlive their child. Rule #2....cancer (or any other life debilitating/taking disease) should never come in contact with a child. As we all know though....rules are broken and these particular rules are broken all too often. Just in the last few years I have seen too many families suffer and mourn because mans rules and God's will don't always mesh.

Small towns. If you have never lived in one then you are missing out. Sure everyone usually knows your business and you usually know everyone...if not personally then at least by site. As a kid growing up in a small town, you can't wait to leave...but funny enough, many come back....for nowhere else can you feel such a presence of community and belonging. There is no place like a small town.

Finally....faith. Many of us talk of faith...our belief that our Higher Power (God) has a plan for us. A belief that through good and bad that God is always by our side and in the end we will die in His grace and go to spend eternity in the home that He Himself has chosen for us. On paper it sounds perfect....but walking in faith through the good and bad and remembering that God gives us nothing we can't handle is not always as easy as it sounds. Accepting the peaks and valley's that are in our path often make us falter and facing our own mortality or that of our children is sometimes where we drop the ball with our faith. Still though....there are those that never lose faith, never question and in some cases even restore the faith of others through their own. When this faith comes in the form of a child....it is both amazing and humbling.

And this brings us to Taylor Heersche. Taylor was a little girl from a family that had been in Mulvane long before my time. Heersche was just one of those names you knew. I do not know her parents Dan and DeAnne personally....but I could pick them out in a crowd and know all about them. It is a small town thing. Dan and DeAnne have two daughters, Taylor and Connor. Taylor is a year behind Z so he has known her since she started school. Everyone knows Taylor on sight.. and as a child she had the most gorgeous curly brown hair and she is the absolute sweetest little girl.

When Taylor was about 10...she was diagnosed with leukemia. In a small town such as ours....that kind of news travels fast. At that time in my life...David was having his own health issues, but when I could I would keep up with Taylor through friends of friends and information Z would bring home from school. Eventually her leukemia went into remission and for a little while...life went back to normal. Then...sometime around last Christmas the unthinkable happened and they found out that Taylor's leukemia was back. Z who goes to school with her and hangs out with her and many of her friends would come home and give me updates. Taylor spent a great deal of time in and out of the hospital. When she was out...often you would see her in town with her mask on...protecting her from the germy world outside. At some point....not sure when...... Taylor lost all of her hair. I remember seeing her and thinking that even though she no longer had all of those gorgeous brown curls that she was still such a beautiful girl.

Taylor had many close calls over the last year....but both Taylor and her family along with many doctors and nurses fought for their ultimate goal. It was to get Taylor healthy enough for a bone marrow transplant that would give her a chance at a long and healthy life. Her little sister Connor agreed to donate her bone marrow for her sister. When I heard this I cried. This family had not just one brave daughter...but two. What a wonderful job Dan and DeAnne had done raising these strong and caring daughters and neither were even old enough to drive.

Finally in July of this year Taylor went to Children's Mercy Hospital in Kansas City. It was here that they hoped to get Taylor well enough to receive the transplant and the Heersche's were ready to stay however long it took. In the months that followed, the doctors worked to get Taylor's body healthy, to get her body to make it's own white blood cells and to get the leukemia down so that the transplant would be possible. DeAnne would keep everyone up on Taylor's condition through her Caring Bridge journal. There were times of great optimism where it seemed like Taylor had climbed the hill and it would be smooth sailing....but there were just as many times where you could read the fear in DeAnne's words. My heart would break for her knowing that but for the grace of God....there go I. There go any of us. Through all of this....Taylor had a steady stream of family and friends making the 3 hour drive back and forth quite often to visit Taylor. She looked forward to these visits as did her friends.

At some point....not sure when, her uncle began a facebook page called Taylor's Gang. Here he gave us updates and offered items such as t-shirts and bracelets to help the Heersche's fend off some of the medical expenses incurring. Periodically there were those that took up collections for gift cards and food cards so that Dan and DeAnne could step out of the hospital from time to time and have some "real" food. The community was pulling together for this family and through it all....we had hope.

Right here let me say that Dan and DeAnne are amazing parents. Since Taylor has been at Children's Mercy one or both of them has remained by her side. They usually switch off so that one is with Connor too. Trying to hold down jobs and take care of everyone is no easy task...but they seemed to make it work. They are phenomenal.

In the last month or so...it looked as if Taylor might just get the bone marrow transplant. All seemed to be working in that direction although she had some set backs. I would watch carefully for the updates and smile and thank God when the news was good and shed some tears and pray harder when it wasn't.

Last Wednesday evening Z came into my room looking ashen saying he had gotten a text that Taylor was not expected to make it through the night. I was stunned because the last posts had been so positive. I got on fb to find that indeed....Taylor's respiratory system was shutting down and they did not expect her to be here come morning. Taylor's body was simply no longer strong enough to fight.  She knew though and she was not afraid. She told her parents she was ready. How can a child have such faith? I was amazed. Prayer chains were popping up everywhere....not just in our little town but all across the country. I could not sleep that night and every time my phone went off with messages....I was terrified that it would say she was gone.

Amazingly.....Thursday morning came and she was still with us. She was alert and kept her parents both entertained and updated on what she wanted when she was gone. I had to leave to take David to St. Louis that afternoon and I said a silent selfish prayer that Taylor would hold on at least until I got back. I didn't want Z to have to deal with such a loss on his own. That night the MHS football team dedicated the game to Taylor. There was orange everywhere (orange is the color of leukemia awareness) and they won (39-0) I believe. There were tears and prayers and it was all for Taylor.

Friday...Taylor was still here. A group of her closest friends went to KC to say good-bye. Taylor visited as long as she could and I imagine the room was full of both laughter and tears. I know it was a bitter sweet moment for all involved.

The weekend came and went and still she held on. I remember thinking how amazing this was. Her mother put out a request that people NOT pray for her recovery...for they knew that was not to be, but she asked that we pray that Taylor make a peaceful transition from this world into God's loving hands. Again I was amazed as DeAnne's journal would tell of Taylor waking up morning after morning thinking she would be with God...only to find out sadly that she was still here. What amazing faith this child has and how tired her little body must be. More and more though...my thoughts were going to her parents. How hard this all must be for them. I couldn't even imagine being in their shoes. Many times in this last week I have cried thinking of how difficult it must be for them to let go of this precious child. Their faith must be tremendous.

At some point DeAnne wrote that Taylor had basically planned her own funeral. She had picked her music, the place and she was leaving specific instructions on what she wanted from those in attendance. There would be no dress clothes. She wanted everyone in either orange or Taylor's Gang t-shirts and jeans. She wants this to be a celebration of her life and not mourning of her passing. Wow! Fifteen and knowing all of this. Being able to plan all of this. Again I use the word amazing because there is just no other word fitting enough.

Sunday night DeAnne posted that on Monday the doctors would be in to re-evaluate Taylor. She had already lived days longer than they expected and although she had kind of drifted in and out from time to time and seemed to be seeing people that others could not see...she had stayed alert and carried on many conversations with family and friends. People began to speculate hopefully that maybe this wasn't the end. Perhaps there was a miracle in the making. My thoughts were that God's will would be done...but not until Taylor had accomplished all that she had to do on this earth.

Monday we got the word that Taylor was coming home! After the doctors met....they still felt that Taylor was not to survive this particular journey and that soon she would succumb to respiratory failure, but for whatever reason she was still here and she wanted to come home. It was decided that they would bring her home to be with family and friends today. This town was excited. When news got out that Taylor was coming home....fb was alive with activity. There were plans of lining 2nd street with orange ribbons, signs and the entire town wearing orange ready to greet her. Tonight's football game would also be dedicated to Taylor and it was expected that there would be a sea of orange in the stands. Word even got out to the rival team and many of them too pledged to wear orange for Taylor. As I saw all the excitement of Taylors return flooding fb and the many plans being made....I felt my heart drop. Without thinking I turned to Z and told him that I didn't think she would make it back. I don't know why....it was just a horrible feeling I got.

This morning as I was trying to function in spite of a major headache....I got on fb to see that plans were still being put together for Taylor's homecoming. As yet....no definite time had been given but things were to the point that they were ready as soon as the word was given. My cell phone rang and I almost didn't answer it because I didn't recognize the number. However when I did...I wished I hadn't. A friend of mine was on the other end telling me that word had come down that Taylor had passed this morning. I felt a stabbing feeling in my stomach. Since no official word had come out to fb about it...I sat silently and watched as the happy homecoming plans continued to be made. I hoped in the back of my mind that maybe this was just misinformation...but I knew in my heart it wasn't. When official word came out...the tears flowed. Taylor had slept peacefully through the night, started having breathing issues early this morning....and passed without every waking up. This morning....Taylor got her wish....she woke up in heaven.

Z was at school when the announcement was made over the intercom. He texted me and told me that the whole school was devastated. There were tears flowing from teachers, administration and students. The school was broken hearted. They/we had lost our Taylor!

As I have tried to wrap my mind around all of this, my thoughts have been all over the place. DeAnne has posted another post on Caring Bridge reminding everyone that Taylor wanted her funeral to be a celebration. What strength this woman has to continue carrying out her daughters wishes even after the unthinkable has happened. They are three hours away from family, friends and home (although I know they have some family and the support of the hospital staff who also knew and loved Taylor)...but now they must come home to bury their child. My heart breaks for them. But Taylor would not have wanted the tears. Taylor was so much more than her leukemia and in thinking about it....the leukemia was the way Taylor touched so many lives.

If you read through the messages from others on Caring Bridge and Taylor's Gang....you realize that Taylor touched so many far beyond our little community. Taylor's bravery and strength taught family, friends, those who cared for her and even those who never met her but followed her journey.....about faith and living without fear of dying. To many Taylor was a hero! Seldom in life do we get to know someone that fights such a horrendous battle and continues to stay positive and faith filled. When you find this in someone as young as Taylor then you know you have come in contact with someone very special. This young girl single handedly brought together a community. She taught us all about faith beyond what we can see, feel and touch, and she showed us true grace in both life and death. Yes....Taylor you are amazing and I can safely say....your life was a miracle and in the hearts of everyone in our community and far beyond....you will never be forgotten.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

I Am the Enemy

Well...we are coming down to the wire of another presidential election year and things seem to be getting quite heated. On facebook peoples political passions are starting to boil over and friends of differing view points are getting unfriended. You have to wade through tons of political pictures, sayings and insults just to get to regular postings and on both sides the claws are coming out. I am not a fan of any of it. I realized after watching the vice presidential debates (which I knew was a bad idea to start with) that my own political passions were pretty heated, so out of respect for my tv and my childrens ears.....I decided THAT was it! No more debates. With fb and the ever present media though....I feel as if I watched it all anyway. Sigh!

I have tried very hard to keep my political opinions to myself of late...for several reasons. One reason is that the last couple of times I have voiced a political opinion in my blogs...I have had people from both sides (liberal and conservative) try to hand me my tail. The other reason is...that THIS election seems to have taken on a much stronger role in peoples lives than in past elections. People seem to be more angr err...passionate about this election than in past elections. A friend posted on fb the other day that people don't get so wound up about subjects like this, unless they care. It made sense. Apparently there is a whole lot of caring going on right now. In the past couple of weeks I have seen long time friends coming to blows over this election, people unfriending anyone on their fb page who is of another political belief and families becoming divided. But this isn't just happening in fb land, this is happening all over our country. Why?

The last time I remember our country being on the same page was after 9/11. Not just liberals were attacked and not just conservatives were attacked. We as a country....we as Americans were attacked. That destruction was aimed at Americans and we became united against an enemy. Many who now make outcries against the war seem to forget that at the time....America wanted to fight. We wanted to feel safe again and yes....we wanted justice.

As the years and the war continued on....many who had originally been for the war started turning away from it. We saw more and more soldiers being deployed or redeployed and fewer and fewer coming home alive. We saw too many funerals and in our lay opinions not enough progress to justify our losses. It was a big political point during the 2008 campaign and election and many felt Bush had had his chance and we needed something new. When Obama promised change....that's all it took. It also didn't hurt that his election would make him the first African American president. It was a heady mix of promises of change and the possibility of making history that made the election exciting....even for those who voted against him. People like myself....who didn't vote for him were willing to sit back and let him prove himself. He promised to fix health care, to bring our troops home and to bring in jobs and lower the deficit. I will admit....I was interested and I was willing to give him a chance. So I watched.

I have to say that after four years in office....I feel lied to. Do I think Obama went into office intentionally lying? No. I don't think it is very often that anyone goes into a new job deliberately lying. However....he has done little of what he promised. Now I know if you are an Obama supporter that your blood pressure is starting to rise and you are getting angry as you read, but in my opinion he has lied or misrepresented all that he promised he would do. Yes, he passed a healthcare bill. It was a bill that not even congress knew fully what was in it. Nancy Pelosi wanted it passed and said....then we would all find out what was in it. Who signs or passes something without knowing just what you are signing and passing? This healthcare bill is starting to take affect and my family is first hand living proof why it is not a good bill and does not have the best interest of America at heart. If you are only someone who needs check ups and preventative care, or a woman wanting reproductive care (abortions, birth control, etc)....it is fine. However....if you are a woman with a chronic illness, a woman with special needs or a woman over 65.......Obamacare is not quite so accommodating. Of course that goes for men too....I was just trying to make a point. What has already started with our new healthcare system is that doctors office visits are becoming twice as long as they were before. Your wait time in the waiting room has gone up, your doctor in your room time has gone up, but your actual doctor/patient time has gone way down because the whole time they are with you....they are filling out computer page after computer page. If you go in through the emergency room....your primary care doctor is no longer the final word in whether you are admitted or not...it is the hospitalist who decides. Forget your history....it is what they see without knowing history that counts. If the hospitalists does not sign off on the admission....insurance will not cover it. What was once covered for those with special needs, chronic illnesses and life threatening illnesses are becoming less and less covered with the assurance that soon (2014) much above and beyond preventative care will be covered less and less.

Obamacare will also likely do a number on the economy and jobs. Soon all employers will be required to cover their employees. Many small businesses who currently help to boost the economy will end up going under because they can't afford mandatory healthcare coverage. It will throw the unemployment numbers way up once again. It will ultimately take healthcare choice out of our hands and put it into the hands of the government....a place that ultimately could have tragic results for many. While not a lie....he did pass Obamacare.....its passing didn't help the country in my opinion.

What about our troops? I find it strange that troops still deploy constantly and soldiers are still coming back in body bags. His promise was to bring them home. What he actually did was just relocate them from Iraq to Afghanistan. What makes this particular promise worse is that not only are these soldiers still standing strong and fighting for their country....but every time there is a congressional issue on the Federal debt....the military salary is threatened. Obama has threatened to cut military salary in order to get congress to agree but never has he threatened to cut congressional salaries...or his own. No....he goes straight to the military and that I find pretty unforgivable. So there we have it...a lie. Our soldiers still fight and die and continue to deploy. Did he intend to bring them home? Likely he did. Did he succeed? No.

What about jobs? Since Obama took office....unemployment has stayed high. Not until just recently have the numbers gone down and the current administration is calling this a win. The reality is....people are falling off unemployment. They are not working....they are simply no longer eligible to be counted. In his four years in office...many corporations throughout this country who provide thousands of jobs have either gone under or relocated to other countries. Layoffs have run rampant and small business has all but become extinct. Again...another lie. Deliberate? No....but a pattern is developing.

And the national debt. I believe he promised to decrease our debt and get us on our feet again. Instead...he raised the debt almost 5 trillion dollars during his term. This was more than Bush raised it during his two terms. Because of this our country lost its triple A credit rating. Currently this is the legacy we have to leave to the next generations. Another lie. Was it intentional? I certainly hope not but many feel it was/is. The best way to topple a country is from within.

Yes...I feel lied to. I also feel that this administration has caused many divides in the American people. It is an "us against them" mentality. I feel that Obama's speeches often perpetuate the divide. Seldom have I ever heard him try to bring together all sides and often I have heard him make snide political remarks about the "tea partiers" or others who he seems to feel are...."thems." As a president it is your job to unite a country and yet Obama cannot even unite congress on the things that count. It is this division that has been allowed to grow and fester that I believe is the reason people have become so angry with one another of late. We no longer see each other as fellow Americans.....we simply see ourselves as "those for Obama" and "those not for Obama." What is worse is....my worry about what happens after the election?

What if Obama wins another term? Many feel that we have raised our debt as far as we can. We are running out of money, our troops are still in Afghanistan and many are heading into another year jobless. Will the dam eventually break and people start taking a stand against the president? Will states try to sucede from the country? Will we find ourselves in a civil war?

On the other hand...if Romney wins...what then? Will there be an outcry for a revote? Will there be rioting? Will people refuse to give Romney the chance in 2012 that Obama was given in 2008?

It all makes me sad. I believe that these last few months have changed people. I have seen it personally and through social media. I am very afraid that we may not go back to being united as family, friends or country.....regardless of the outcome. No longer am I me...I am now a Republican, conservative....and in some eyes (including family and friends)....that makes me the enemy.

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Breed Discrimination: It's All in the Raising

Well...I have many things I should be doing today in order to be a productive human being...so naturally I decided to blog. Yep! That sounds about right! Actually....what spurred this blogful moment was a post on fb I saw that said "PETITION: Get "i hate pitbulls" facebook page removed! It really got me to thinking. I was the person who really didn't like Pitbulls not that long ago. My prejudice came from heresay and a healthy respect for any dog larger than my own little less than 25 pounders.  Doberman's, Chow Chow's and German Shepherds topped the list. In more recent years Rotweillers and Pitbulls also joined the list. According to many...these breeds are just inherently mean, brutally attacking at will and leaving a path of death and destruction in their wake....and yet millions of families with children still seem to have these dog breeds....and survive just fine. Hmmmmm

After doing some research...along with some personal experience...this is what I have come to find. All of the above breeds are big dogs. Their sheer size can be intimidating and their build is strong. They tend to grow large quickly and often what would be considered harmless puppy play in a small dog...takes on a sinister act in a larger breed. Dogs such as Chow's, Rot's and Pits are solid dogs. They are lean and muscular and in play could hurt someone of small stature, but not out of aggression. That is why if you are going to own a large breed dog you must take responsibility for that decision. Train that dog and teach him/her not to jump on people and to listen to commands. Dogs are easily taught if you put the work into them but just like an undisciplined child...if not directed...they will direct themselves and that can prove destructive or even dangerous to them and those around them. The blame for those acts then does not fall on the dog....but on the owner. 

Some of these breeds like German Shepherd's for instance also can become territorial or one person/family dogs. In these cases the dogs are fiercely loyal to a certain property, person or family and can see outsiders as a threat. Again...proper training is the answer. Make sure your dog listens to commands and obeys them. 

What about dogs that are trained specifically for protection in mind? In this day and age...I don't blame anyone for taking whatever security measures they feel will keep them safe. That being said...it is up to owners to warn the public that they have a dog(s) who are trained for protection. Then....if Joe Public sees a BE WARE OF DOG sign and still decides to take his chances....the fault then becomes his. A good owner of a guard dog will take necessary precautions to keep their dogs safe as well as visiting guests whom the dogs might view as a threat. With proper precautions both dogs and humans should remain safe. 

As for picking on breeds as dangerous....I say breed has little to do with a dogs aggression. Size and weight can be a factor...if there is a fight in who might win, but I have seen 3 lb. Chihuahua's that are more aggressive than a 100 lb pit. While there are reports of Pits, Rots, Chows, etc. going after and killing people....I have also heard of a Pomeranian killing a newborn while it slept, poodles going after kids and mixed breeds of no particular breed affiliation taking a bite out someone they perceived to be an enemy. 

Dogs of any breed can be aggressive, mean and even deadly if the circumstances are right. An injured dog can be very dangerous. A hungry dog can go after someone as well as a dog who senses aggression from a human or feels that he himself is in danger. There are also those dogs who are abused or taught aggression from their owners. This is why Pitbulls have such a bad reputation. Because of their size, build and weight....someone decided they made perfect pawns in dog fighting. They are starved, beaten and given positive reinforcement for bad behavior so that they will be at their meanest, fightingest best. It was a "sport" where hundreds of thousands of dollars changed hands across the country. These dogs were ready to attack and kill anything that got in their way because that is all they ever knew from puppy on up.....and because of this they gained the reputation for being killers. Literally thousands of Pitbull puppies were bred for the soul purpose of being killers. These dogs didn't stand a chance. 

Media gives these large breed dogs ten strikes right off the weening. Every time one of these dogs attacks, maims or kills someone it is front page news. But for every dog like this....there are ten who are good family dogs, protective of those they love and are playful and fun loving. On the other hand for those breeds we consider "safe" there are one in ten of those dogs who will attack, main and kill. Most of how a dog acts and reacts is based on how it is raised.....again....not unlike our kids. 

The final turn around for me happened quite recently. While my head told me all the facts about dogs and what does and doesn't make them vicious...my heart still held fear, especially having David in the house. My older son decided he needed a dog and asked me to go with him to find one. I told him we would go to the Humane Society....but my one stipulation was "NO PITBULLS!" After looking for almost an hour....he kept coming back to this one 3 month old.....you guessed it....PITBULL. We chose several dogs to sit in a room with and see how they behaved. One...a black lab went in the room with us...laid down and refused to interact with us at all. The second....a cute little mixed breed Sheltie looking guy never stopped moving. He jumped in Davids lap, jumped over his head, jumped in Z's lap, jumped from Z to me and then literally tried to climb the wall. His nails dug into all of us and left David with a face scratch and decidedly displeased attitude. After that with my older son giving me his version of "puppy dog eyes" I finally said bring in the Pit. I hate to say it but within seconds he won my heart. He was 3 months old and about 25 lbs. He cautiously made his way around to each of us licking us and saying his doggie "Hello's!" When he came to David he sat in front of him and then gently made his way into his lap. Instead of tossing him in the floor which is what we all expected he would do....David began to pet him saying..."Oooooo" Davids version of "I like him!" At that moment we were all won over. We named him Vic!

Since bringing him home....he seems to have acclimated well. My son worked with him right off the bat and he says he has had only a couple of accidents in the house. He goes to the door whenever he has to go out. He gets along well when he visits with my dogs and he mastered commands of sit, stay and in the house overnight. He is an amazing dog and he loves with all of his puppy heart. He loves to be held and and to snuggle and he shares his affection with everyone around. You would be hard pressed to look into his expressive little eyes and see any sign of aggression or a killer....but then again....he is being raised with love and he is giving as good as he gets. 

Now don't get me wrong...I know there are those that have been hurt and even killed by dogs. I also know there are cases where the dog was solely to blame as the victim was totally innocent, but I would bet if those cases were thoroughly checked out....in more than half of them there would be extenuating circumstances as to why that dog became aggressive. 

There will always be a rogue dog or two....just like humans, who are mean for no reason and set out to hurt and kill, but they are not the norm and certainly that is not a reason for breed discrimination. I urge you before you judge an entire breed by the few...educate yourself. Learn and teach your kids safe behavior around all breeds of strange dogs and most of all...don't judge a breed by it's size, weight or media hype. Otherwise you might just be missing out on the greatest addition to your family ever.

Friday, October 5, 2012


It is that time of year again...when the clock feels the need to move me another year forward. I have been contemplating that of late. Birthdays have never really bothered me until the last couple of years. Oh...and there was that year that I turned 28. It nearly killed me...but I honestly can't remember why 28 freaked me out so. These last couple of years though...I can feel my body start to tense up in September. I seem to grow horns and become this bitch-like creature who is trying to fight the unfightable. Apparently the complete futilness of it all makes me even more unpleasant than normal. If in fact that is possible.

Today though...I was thinking about the positives of turning 30 (shut up...this is my blog and I can pretend to be any age I want!) The biggest positive I came up with...are memories. The longer you live the more you have. The only downside is....after awhile the memories can get jumbled. You forget details and sometimes you get actual memories mixed up with stories you have heard over the years. For the most part though...memories are what keeps us attached to the past...good and bad, and to other people...again both good and bad.

Yes...sometimes our memories aren't all pleasant and there are those things we would just as soon forget. Luckily...our mind has a unique way of overriding the unpleasant with the more pleasant and those are the memories that usually pop up when thinking about a certain person, place or thing.

I was letting my mind wander this morning and I was thinking about the furthest memory I have. I believe it was my 2nd birthday. I don't remember a lot but I do remember standing in front of my cake with Little Bo Peep on top and blowing out my candles. I remember Christmas too....lot's of Christmases in fact. My mom always made sure that no matter what....Christmas was special. She would start decorating before Thanksgiving and leave it all up until mid January. Our house always looked like the North Pole as every space in our house and on our lawn was alive with the Christmas spirit.

One memory I have that for some reason sticks out vividly as a really good memory was when we lived in New Mexico. I had a love/hate relationship with that place. I loved it because of the weather and we lived with my Aunt Margaret and I hated it because I felt torn away from everything that I knew and all my family and friends in Kansas. I went to a school that I actually kind of liked though. I think one of the main reasons for this was because right on the edge of the school property was a little building. It was about 6 foot wide and 8 foot long and on either side running length wise were shelves lined with candy. A little old man ran it and everyday after school he was opened for 30 minutes. Occasionally, Mom would send me with $.25 and literally...that would by you a ton of candy. Most candy back then was a penny or two for a penny. I could walk out with enough gum, licorice or jelly beans for a couple of weeks. To me the place was magical. For one....whoever heard of a candy store right outside your school? And then there was that feeling of being in the 2nd or 3rd grade and having the independence to make your own selections amongst the many choices. I have never since seen such a place. Today's huge candy stores with all of their color and choice will never be as exciting to me as that little 6 x8 building full of penny candy.

Another fun memory for me in NM was the one and only time I saw a May pole dance. In KS we had done May baskets for May Day which is traditionally May 1st, but never had I heard of or even seen a May pole. It was something the kids had worked on for months and a tradition for that area at the time. They had huge poles installed on the playground which the rest of the year were nothing but big poles. However....on May 1st, those poles were alive with colored streamers as the kids danced in and out and around causing a woven pattern on the pole. There are very specific dances that go to this ceremony and each kid knew their moves perfectly. I had come to late to be a part of the dance so I got to stand out and watch the spectacle. It was amazing and something I will always remember.

Yes...memories are special and I have had so many wonderful times over the years and so many special moments, and all are connected with a lasting memory that will always be mine. In fact many of these memories are what spark this blog and each memory gives you a little window into who I am and how I became this age obsessed mess. I think the whole memory thing came home to me this past weekend too. It was amazing to get so many people together...many whom had not seen each other in years....but we were all pulled together by our memories. Whether we ran in the same social circles, were rich or poor...the fact is, each of us walked the same halls. We could all still close our eyes and know exactly where Mr. Canfield's room was, we could remember taking the breeze way as a short cut, the heat of the classrooms on the old side of the building on a hot spring day and the smell of the school on chili and cinnamon roll day. Some of us had mutual memories of racing back from Derby during open lunch, having Mr. Gifford teach us history or skipping out on Yearbook Class to hang out in the gym. Whatever the memories though...that building; the sites, the sounds and the smells were apart of all of us and even after all these years....talking about them was as if we had never left.

I guess in the big scheme of things...turning another year older isn't all that bad. The times and events keep happening and the new memories are made and saved for days like today...when I need a reason to remember what is important, why time has to fly and how I got to be....me!

Monday, October 1, 2012

Is There Going to be a Blog?

So I have decided that 2013 is going to be down right boring, because there is almost no way that it can top the speed and sheer velocity of events that 2012 has had....and we are only to Oct. 1st!!! Since January I have been to St. Louis a multitude of times, I was laid off, I have baked hundreds of cheesecakes, David had life changing surgeries, I almost lost David and I have been to more parties and events in the last 4 months than I have been to in the last 10 years. I would have to say though....it has been all for the good and along the way...while staying close to those I dearly love....I have also met new faces and gotten closer to some who have been there all along.

Yes...this is leading up to the big event of the weekend....my 30 year reunion. It was more fun than I have had in many...many...many years. I have to say that I had a pretty wonderful group of people to celebrate with. The funny thing was that when I started school in 1976...I really didn't like any of them!!!! Trust me....it was ME and not them. I had moved here from another town and had come off a horrible 7th grade year. No...lets say a non-existent 7th grade year. I had spent the better part of 6 months going in and out of the hospital missing school, family and life. I was sick and miserable and by the time they found out what my high fevers and horrid, constant flu-like symptoms were....I had missed too much of my 7th grade year to ever get caught up. (We lived in an oil town and they found out that I was highly allergic to the petroleum in the air. I still can't drive through the town without getting a horrid headache and nausea.) So when we moved to Mulvane...I was forced to do my 7th grade year over and I was older than most of my class. I felt as if it was beneath me to be going to school with these "little" kids. I was over that in about a week and today....I wouldn't trade these "little" kids for the world.

This weekend was for me the most relaxing and laid back time I have had in very long time. My class was never big on the fancy or pretentious. Fancy and pretentious are a lot of work and none of us ever wanted to work that hard! We were more the impromptu kegger people than the dress up and party type, so we decided early on to make this event simple and for the most part.....easy. Friday night we began with a trip back to the high school football field to watch the homecoming game against one of our bigger rivals....Rose Hill. The game was good (we won!) and we got to enjoy all the improvements made to the field. After the game we went to the home town bar (I tell you...we are an easy to please group). Some who were not going to be able to make it Saturday showed up Friday and some of them even ended up coming out Saturday too. Most of us closed the bar down and we had a great time.

Saturday we had a bbq catered by.....the class!!! One of my classmates offered her house and land for the party. Another classmate offered her husbands skills with a smoker and bbq and the rest of us filled in with side dishes and desserts. We had a dj, a fire pit and perfect weather. We couldn't have asked for anything more. We decorated with memorabilia that classmates had saved through the years and the memories were in place. We ate, we laughed, we danced and we had a wonderful time. I think it was decided that in all about 50-60 out of our class of 120 showed up for at least one or all the events. We also had teachers there! It was amazing to be able to talk to someone who early in his life and career made such a huge impact on who you are today. We had some awesome teachers! It is also a little strange talking to these teachers as your peers rather than your teachers....even at our age. Sorry folks but forever to me...they will have Mr. or Mrs. in front of their names for in my opinion that is the respect they earned.

I was a little uncharacteristic this weekend for I did a lot of dancing...not good dancing...but dancing none the less (I am not a dancer). I just didn't care..it was fun and the jello shots could have possibly been a factor too. I laughed until I hurt and I talked until I was hoarse. There was video for those classmates who couldn't attend but keep in touch through facebook and there were pictures...lots and lots and lots of pictures. There were also a couple of people who asked me the all important question...."Is there going to be a blog about this?"

After not making it home before 2:30 a.m. both Friday and Saturday night...you could imagine my amazement when I was awake before 7 a.m. on Sunday. I headed back out to the scene of the crime....errrr....party where a handful had spent the night and another classmate had brought his grill out to make everyone breakfast. Once again...those remaining sat around the fire pit eating pancakes, eggs, sausage/bacon and hash browns and talked on old times and the events of the last two nights.....just a little longer. It was the perfect end to one of the more perfect weekends I can remember.

You know, to most everyone there this weekend...it was a really fun time, but to me...it was a little more. It was a coming together of people I had spent time with day in and day out for years. We weren't all close growing up (we had our cliques) but like most small town schools...we all knew each other. We walked the same halls, had the same classes and for the most part shared the experience of growing up in Mulvane. Our memories of teachers, incidents and each other are unique to us..... and what I realized is that I missed these people for better or worse. This weekend for me, was also a time that made even the worst times of this  year and beyond.....become only flickering moments in the really big picture. No matter how hard times get...there will on occasion be weekends like this...filled with good friends and great fun...and lots of great memories.....and somehow these times always make the difficult ones much easier to deal with.

It was a great weekend and one that will likely take me the better part of a week to recover from...but well worth every second. Now it's back to the real world and life...and who knows...maybe even some new events on the horizon?! And in answer to the all important question.....of course there was a blog!