A Bit of the Fairy

 

It is Saturday morning, that means no treatments, free breakfast voucher, and college football.  Having slept many times during the night, someday I like to try just once or twice, I have heard people speak of sleeping through the night; oh well, one more unfilled dream. Anyway, I finally wandered on down to the front desk to pick up my voucher for Cowboy Jacks. There was someone different at the desk, not one of the two women who normally engage in polite conversation, a man. For some reason the term cheeky came to mind. I asked him for a voucher, he said for breakfast, I nodded. He replied, “Well, I can do that.” I responded with a,” thank you.” He requested my room number, which I promptly gave him. Then he asked my checkout date; to which I replied, “it is not today”. With a somewhat stern look he questioned, “You do not know your checkout date?” I answered,”“That is true, I do not know my checkout date.” Then he said,” could it be five days?” I answered,” it could,it could or maybe three or four, I must confess I know no more.” At this point he handed me the voucher. I started to walk away and he said they’re not open yet. I inquired if 7 am was when they opened, looking at 6:59 on the clock. He said that is right, I didn’t want you to have to wait. First, I tapped  my head against the wall a few times to make sure I hadn’t woke up in some alternate Green Egg and Ham Universe, then proceeded on to eat first and foremost greasy hashbrowns, which seem the only thing that could lubricate the bowels of the machine lately.

I was the first to appear in Cowboy Jacks, I walked over to see most of the buffet style food was already out. I picked up a plate and captured a donut and an english muffin while waiting for the arrival of hash browns, sausages, and scrambled eggs. I am not sure if it is the proximity to Wisconsin, but these are not linked or patty sausages, they are short and fat, in contrast to the people who tended to be tall with varying size waist lines.

I consider myself open minded, whether or not anyone else does,well, that’s none of my business; but I will admit I was almost guilty of judging a book by its’ cover. I went to bite into the donut when I realized I had left my room without my uppers; (your top teeth for those who have not yet went through this particular humiliation)  at this stage of my false teeth journey, I was at the point when I actually felt more weird without them. It was at this moment a cheery “Hello” rang down from over my shoulder. I turned my head and said, “Hi” and saw a young lady mid-twenties and absolutely, I mean it was like the first time you saw Bo Jackson run with the football or Willie Mays make a catch. There was something so naturally beautiful it was awe inspiring, you understood instantly, they were special. This creature smiles at me and says, “Is it OK if I stand here and talk to you?” At this point, I should inform the reader of my, In case my cancer goes bad, i have started my, ‘ be kind to others policy’. But, I have already encountered the desk clerk this morning and all I want to do is eat greasy hash-browns and go to the bathroom.  So, I ask the first thing that comes to mind, Why would someone who looks like you do be serving breakfast, I am sure you can make a lot more money on Friday night or Saturday night. My next question is why are you so cheery at 7 am on Saturday morning.”   She laughed and said, You are right I make much more money at night, but I love opening up on Saturday mornings. I am a morning person, I only work nights because I am trying to either go to seminary or get a master’s degree in social work. Why are you here.” This person proved to be bright, adventuresome, and quite enchanting in a very innocent sort of way. We talked for over an hour and during that time I saw the vulnerability so well hidden in her attitude and demeanor it could easily go undetected, even by me. She has a very serious case of type 1 diabetes, beautiful and fragile for just a second ‘Broken Wing’s lyrics flashed through my mind. She fluttered off to help someone and it was time for me to go.

I reasoned it was a buffet, I wasn’t served, so I put the ten back and pulled out a five and wrote the following note on it. You have in you what I call “A bit of the Fairy” others walk, but you float, others smile, but you sparkle and Fairies always, always overcome every obstacle to land on their feet.” I laid the bill down and got up and walk toward the exit, I just couldn’t help peeking back over my shoulder to see if she picked up the bill. She had and appeared to be reading it. I turned to walk away, when I heard voice say, “Hey” She blew me a kiss and said “You land on your feet too. So that my friends was to my mind as close to a real fairy as any of us are likely to get. And after a somewhat if not magical, at least surreal morning, an hour later I went to the bathroom.

Karmic Emoji

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I was walking into a coffee shop a couple days ago, when I had a chance encounter with three young people.  I have never really understood what chance encounter means, but  I think something significant needs to happen to qualify,so in retrospect, I did not have a chance encounter with three young people; I had a brief conversation.  I don’t usually go into coffee shops by myself, unless you count QT (Kwik Trip in MN.), but I have been doing a lot of different things these days.  I walked up to the door and there was a lady with a stroller, so I held the door open for her.   Behind her was a guy with a briefcase and a cup in one hand.   He was headed out, so I held the door for him too and as soon as he walked out, three young males with their heads down in their phones walked in right behind him. Truth be told, it tested my new, “be kind to everyone”  program a little bit.  I wondered if these three young adults were even aware of what had just taken place around them.  It turned out that I didn’t have to wait very long to find out..

I got my cup of house coffee and a little water.  I used to like my coffee “hot-hot”, but now I have to cool it down or it burns my throat.  I sat down for a minute and headed toward the door.  That’s when I notice the three, aforementioned young people were also headed toward the door. The tallest one tapped the shortest one on the shoulder and motioned for him to speed up to get to the door first.  He held it open for me.  Somewhat surprised, I said, “I’m impressed” and walked out.  Before I could get more than a couple steps away, I heard a voice say, “What did you say?”   I turned while remembering my “be kind” policy.  I am not young, I have cancer, and there were three of them.  I figured that knowing that I have no chance in a confrontation with them only reinforced my new policy.  Facing the number two in height, I responded with, “I told him I was impressed.”   Number two smiled at me and said, “You didn’t think I noticed you, did you?”  I smiled back and answered, “That, my friend, would be a safe assumption.”  He kind of gave a half laugh, half snort, and continued.   ”You walked all up in here with your hat and your ‘Yes ma’am, have a nice days’ and a big smile on your face.  Yea, I noticed you. Why do you bother?”   I said, “I don’t know, I guess because albeit it brief, that second or two makes our encounter with our fellow man a little better.”

The tallest one spoke.  “So it is like, you open the door and smile at us, we turn around and open the door for some old dude, and pretty soon we’re just people sharing the same planet. You impressed?”  I nodded my head and answered, “I can honestly say I am.” That’s when the shortest asked,  “You from around here?”  I answered, “No, Kansas City. I am being treated at Mayo.”  When he pressed with “why?”, I  responded with, “cancer.”  As I  turned to go,  I heard the tallest one say,  “I’m telling you that he is a Karmic Emoji.”

I would like to say that I just walked off, but I didn’t.  Instead, I moved only a few feet toward to the intersection, but stopped close enough to  still be able hear his explanation of a Karmic Emoji.   The tallest one continued with, “The old dude is dying of cancer, right?”  They were all nodded in agreement.  I considered protesting this proposition, but I didn’t want to reveal my position.  He continued, “But he is still out trying to make things just a little better.  He’s like an emoji.  He says nothing and he says a lot, all at the same time.  He is Karmic because he sends these good vibes out into the universe and they come back.”   The middle height person, said, “But he’s got cancer!  That don’t seem like a good vibe to me.”  Unimpeded, the tall one answered, “Maybe he won’t die and all the vibes will save him, or maybe knowing you made the world a little better is all that’s necessary for a good death.”  Then with what looked to me a far too serious face, he proclaimed today, “Karmic Emoji Day.”

If anybody out there in reading land has any ideas on or about Karmic Emojis, it would be appreciated if you would share them.  Any actual sighting or photographs would be great.  Please leave your thoughts and comments on my Facebook page.

Unexpected Call

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There has been a time or two, well maybe three or four;

When I’ve  hopped off the bed, grabbed my hat, and headed out the door.

As the handle stops it’s turning and with freedom in my sight

A conversation struck me, like a conscious deep and tight.

 

It was just outside Lincoln, on one last, moonless, starry trip

When I heard the ring, saw the light, coming from good old flip

Spurning fancy phones, I opened  her up, saying hello to the call

But a dispatcher didn’t answer, no back east voice at all

 

“I heard tell you’re a fighter”, is the first thing that she said.

So soft, sweet and tender it flowed like jam on bread.

And sometime before we said goodbye and I put old flippy down

I promised to fight their fight and even play their clown                         

 

So, here’s to modern medicine & fancy phones abound

Now my hat lays on the table and Flippy’s not around.

Can You Change the Past?

When I started this blog, if that’s what it is (I don’t know what to call it), my pastor guy refered to it as my reflections (I like the sound of that).  I pictured myself looking into a pond or a stream; a reflection can provoke deep thought when you look beneath the surface, or it can be as shallow and distorted as the external reflection.  Sometimes it is both and it all depends on how you look at it. I tend to stay toward the shallow end, away from the from deep water.  In fact, I often stay away from a lot of things, pretty much anything new and shining, technology and people just to name two.

It is not surprising that my guiding principle for writing was given to me by a Yoda and my Pastor who have been around the block a time or two. They both said, “Just be honest.”  It should be mentioned, if this post reads like an educated person did it, it means that my gracious editor has done her thing, and she is still shining and new.  Anyway, Pastors and Yodas are pretty good at giving  advice.  Like the commercial says, “That’s what they do.”   The good ones are not only in touch with their flock, they seem to know when someone is listening,  so instead of always trying for a life changing revelation they simply plant a seed and let it grow.

 Just be Honest. These simple words have had their impact on me and have become the number one standard to which I hold myself.  It may just be possible, if you are simply honest about your fears, faith, and fortune (good and bad).   I believe that people will know, people will care, and just maybe something you say might strike the right cord at the right time.  Who knows, you could actually help someone. That would be nice. So what does it mean to be honest in your writings, your reflections, or your “whatever?”

If we are to have a serious discussion about honesty in this expanded definition that contains context—beliefs, hopes, and disappointments–it is crucial that we recognize it operates within boundaries. We must recognize that the boundaries are set by our available options and our outcomes are determined in large part by the options we choose.  I do not want to mislead anyone because I feel that life is probably about options, the ones you have and the ones you make.

Here is the deal according to Wade. First, let’s talk about the saying “there is no use crying over spilled milk.” I whole hardheartedly agree and it is still true with 2%, even though I am a whole milk kind of guy; however, that is not quite the same as saying that you can’t change the past. Our evaluation of the past is always subject to how we interpret its effect on the present. Something was funny if things turned out OK . It was a good lesson if it helped us achieve our goal and can be a crushing blow if we don’t. Most  would agree that the choices we make now shape our future, but at least to some degree, the options we take today have the power change the past. If we are open to the idea that there are many ways to see the past, we can create options.

If we understand this creation of options is possible, we can choose to see the past in a way that helps us create even more positive options in the present rather than following self-defeating patterns. This is probably just a long winded way of saying, I now have a fancy phone; I am on Facebook; I talk about my inner feelings at my most vulnerable time, but I am the same person. I didn’t reinvent myself, I was always struggling to both find the right option and too often avoid the hard one. I choose to believe that my past led me here, and something  good is going to happen, despite evidence to the contrary.

 

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Going Home

 

It had different feel this morning, riding in on the shuttle to Mayo World. I wasn’t contemplating being fried, poked or prodded. I was thinking of my Northern Cal. friend; friend might be too strong of word, but acquaintance isn’t right either. I think we made a connection, it was a short hook up, kind of a password type of thing. A classic example of ‘you had  to be there’. It was almost like meeting someone at the end of pilgrimage to a healing shrine. This was not home, home was somewhere else entirely, and would never fit exactly the same way again. How close the fit would be was a forbidden topic we carefully danced around. He knew Kansas City was mostly in Missouri, a fact he assured me was rare on the west coast. I asked him if he came way out here because Mayo was one of the best. He said no, if he wanted one of the best he he would have went to Frisco or Arizona. He came here because it was the best. He ask if I knew whether the Cubs won. He explained his interest by saying all of Northern Cal. were Giants fans, enough said. He said you guys on the Missouri side guys don’t think much of Kansas, it goes all the way back to the civil war. I responded, It’s probably similar to your feelings toward the Dodgers.” So you hate them. He retorted.” Well, we changed conferences so the rivalry has loss some of it’s animosity.

This was our third shared ride and our last. He had surgery yesterday and had one last dr. visit, then he was flying home. He was in obvious discomfort and said don’t make the mistake I made. I was feeling pretty good, before the surgery, so booked my flight for the next day, got to get back to the farm you know. Big mistake, he cursed. How did the surgery go? I inquired. It was more extensive than they thought, but they’re the best. I helped this proud man off the shuttle with his bag.   He looked back and said, give yourself some time to heal, nodded and was gone. So this morning I wasn’t  thinking of all my activities awaiting at the shrine. I was thinking of  my password buddy returning from his pilgrimage to his farm and wondered, what he was thinking.

On the State of My Soul

 

My cousin is coming up to see me today in Rochester, Mn. or what I like to call Mayo World. It will be a very long drive for a very short stay and to the best of my knowledge, this is his only reason for heading this way. I figure it is a 6.5 to 7 hr. Drive. There is no logical reason for him to do this. It is true that we have known each other for many decades, but I am four years younger than all the other cousins. At our present age it would mean little, except relationships are formed early and that kind of difference means you are a nuisance and a pest. You are not only to young and stupid to keep up, to increase your sense of inadequacy, older adults are constantly reminding the older kids to include you. This does not improve your standing in the group, only seals your fate as an outsider at best, possible informant, at worse.

I always liked Mike, he was the fun cousin, and on occasion he would actually talk to me as a person. I remember once we talked about antimatter. I am not suggesting there was any real friendship, to the degree I would have even entered his radar screen, it would have been as a UFO (Unwanted Freaking Obstacle). One he wanted to disappear and rightly so. I doubt that in my whole life I did anything that made his life easier. In my own defense, when I helped out during chores, I would like to think I only slightly increased the workload. So you may ask, if all this is true, why in the world would he drive so far to see me. You could say cancer and that would be partly right, but it only addresses the circumstances and not the why.

My son, Will, called to let me know that Mike was worried about my soul. You see the coin of the realm for Mike is not reason, but faith. He would not deny reason and would advise me to follow the doctor’s directions, but that only gets you so far. It deals with the physical, which is concerned with the now, while the spiritual is concerned with forever. This maybe and undoubtedly is, an oversimplification, but  in the final analysis, you are either saved or your not. For Mike, that makes it worth the trip.

It is probably despicable of me to continue to refer to Mike’s  sacrifice and not Ruth’s (his wife), but sometimes the name says it all.  Mike has had many health issues and the courage, faith, and resolve he showed is something we should all aspire to. I am encouraged that they are willing to do this for me and I hope they are comforted by the state of my soul, and what Will would call, ‘being right with Jesus’. I tried to express both the desperation and hope I found in Jesus when I wrote,

“Please, I beg you, Please Pray for me. Being like the coward, my suffering started before the battle has truly been engaged. If possible, I would not even sip from this cup of woe, I would hide from my fate. Fear, not honor holds sway. Stripped of all pride and dignity, I run naked to the feet of the master and plead for mercy I do not deserve. So once again I ask you, Please Pray for me”.

I would add one more line, “and by his sacrifice and through his grace, I am saved.  I very much hope this is not a wasted trip for you two kind and caring people.

A Tussle in the Land of Mayo

 

Like any utopian society, and make no mistake Mayo is its own society designed to improve people’s lives, there is a darkside. This side of life in clinic town (or Mayoville as some like to call it in back alleys only whispered, if referred to at all in polite society), is not really black it is more of a beige. I sat behind the driver on my shuttle ride to get fried.  No hometown Rochester boy, his normal run was to the airport in the Twin cities, and today he was just filling in on the in-town run. I figured that is what loosened his tongue about the crime surrounding “Mayo and the Clinics.” I think he was using this phrase in a Tommy James and the Shondells way, you know, like the song, “I Think We’re Alone Now” (look it up on youtube), but there was kind of a Jesse and James Gang tone in his voice. It seems there had been a rash of bike thefts and petty robbery lately that some were blaming on druggies. In my opinion, they are wasting their time on bikes; in this health conscious place, cigs run around $8.75 a pack, if you can find a multi-pack deal. I think smuggling might be the next crime wave.  He said Mayo and Clinics made sure this type of activity stayed away from the downtown area and did a pretty good job of keeping it out the news. These small-time crimes mean nothing and not even this brave conveyor of truth would mention the true villain that haunts the dreams of many that wander these streets or more likely huddle inside their rooms.

            The bus slowly came to a stop among the many other patients waiting for their day’s treatments. Everyone with their own particular burden to bear, each having their own demons. But perhaps none so brave as I because, yes, I have dared to utter the name of that which should not be spoken, the Mask Monster. Now the Mask Monster is not a monster in a mask, unless you consider yourself a monster, and that is why you are bound, defenseless, with fiberglass straps digging into your face, and that omnipresence, unidentifiable  screaming voice in your head repeating, you are mine, you thought smoking was fun, you will pay now my little deary. This type of cancer can also be caused by a virus. I wonder about the poor souls afflicted by this curse, one that they had no control over. I wonder if their voice screams sorry, just the luck of the draw.  I wonder in the end, if it is not the affliction, the battle, that really matters. The rain falls on the righteous and the sinner alike.

It was this mask that caused my first ripple in this rather remarkable society. By now it should be clear that there are certain monsters you don’t play with. You have a plan, practice it if you can and work it. It had been our plan, mine plan for sure, to place the mask on my face and then take it off, this gives me a chance to adjust and gain confidence that the mask is not permanent because I can feel it come off. Yesterday I walked into the frying room and explained that this was our normal procedure. What I failed to realize was somehow Nurse Ratchet had infiltrated this otherwise patient friendly facility. When she smiled and patted my arm, my apprehension  began to grow. People who have never fought the foe that is the Mask Monster, do not know his or her daunting grip of terror (I am not sure of its sex, it may be androgynous). This is no remnant of medusa, this was a modern monster whose ancestors are more likely related to Dr. Moreau. I have met this formidable foe on five formal occasions  and many times in the halls and bathroom floors. It does not die and it is never really defeated; the most you can do is hope to contain the monster. The key is to be vigilant, that is why even a small change in procedure could be dangerous. So when nurse Ratchet  started strapping me down real tight,  I said remember to take it off. She carried on like she didn’t hear. I asked in a slightly louder voice, “Are you going to take it off?” She smiled and said, “It looks fine, why would I do that.” Using my somewhat angry voice I said, “Because in an effort to save 30 seconds you are willing to risk additional discomfort and also cause me to stop treatment. The great DR. FOOTE   who is my radiation oncologist and considered to be one of the best period spins the dials and overlooks everything from his perch  in the sky will stop treatment if I freak,  but that doesn’t make him happy.” The mask was taken off and put back rather abruptly, but the system had been maintained. It went off like normal, I closed my eyes and floated away on a prayer cloud to find my happy place, sometimes a scene from the past, sometimes the old time rock music they play takes me away, the medical people talk in garble I seldom understand, and when I come back from my wanders the mask is always there. The trick is to stick and move on. Don’t let it get a firm hold on you and always remember this too shall pass.

I would like to leave you on an even more positive note. I have been informed by my radiation coach that my bodily fluids are toxic. She claims I am now a dangerous man, and she said, “If any young guy gives you trouble, just spit on him and he will get a blister.” The Lord taketh away and he giveth. Glory be to God.

It has been brought to my attention that I have a most excellent Daughter

It has been brought to my attention that I am not a writer; I am not sure what I am, but clearly I am a beginning writer at best. I have no formal experience, so I reached out for some help. I will try to get better. It has been suggested that maybe I should be clearer when I write. Perhaps I am trying to write beyond my  capability to communicate. So, it is very important that I am straightforward—this is not a time I want to leave open to interpretation. Simply put, I could not and would not be entering this battle on this front without my support team. The first person I want mention is my wife, for she is affected by this just as much as me, and her reaction has been one of love with such depth that it has surprised us both.  The next people I have to mention is Yoda & spouse. They have helped me find a center emotionally, find my way in the day to day workings of this place, and find a balanced yet different routine. I also want to show my appreciation for all the people whose prayers and responses to my posts have given me strength and  hope. They make me think that I can find a reason for carrying on.  All this is true, more than you will ever know. I would be remiss if I didn’t mention my friend Bob who helped me prepare for the mask monster.

This post, however, is first and foremost a shout out to my daughter. My daughter came up with me the day before my actual treatment began, immediately taking over in Yoda’s absence and made many of his suggestions into a reality.  The most important takeaway you should get from this post is—”I have a most excellent daughter. She not only just made me proud,  but in the process, has set the standard for all daughters.”  Luv You.

 

 

 

Aliens and Faith

For all those who prayed for me, thank you. I have been abducted by aliens, they are nice. They claim they do not want to hurt me; nevertheless, they are up front with the fact that they will, but it is all a part of doing what is actually good for me. That I should not fear the mask or their probes. What I know is their machines are huge, some taking up three floors and hidden behind extra thick walls. The real problem is the mask, the mask will follow you and is always close. Somehow this great machine puts the mask in your mind. Like the monster under the bed or in the closet, it lies in wait. I explained to their second in command, that I was aware that I had been abducted, but they seemed to be nice aliens. I did suggest however, that they should use a type of suspended animation, and I would be fine if I had no memory of the ordeal when I was returned to my world. This didn’t anger my captors, in fact they found it quite humorous. They agreed they could do something like suspended animation, but that would be too expensive. The mask is tricky, it hides and springs out when not expected. I will remain vigilant, but as for yesterday, they may have had my body, and their mask put lines and marks on my face. But my mind, my soul, was safe. There were moments of tension, but no room for it to enter. Too many people had prayed, and I would, at least for awhile, find God’s peace. I can’t tell you what it means to be lifted up, only that it happens. Today they will add Chemo to radiation, this is still the calm before the storm, worse times ahead they remind me, but for now, I am fine and will believe in your prayers and this strange race of Mayos.

Anticipation

Please, I beg you, Please Pray for me. Being like the coward, my suffering started before the battle has truly been engaged. If possible, I would not even sip from this cup of woe, I would hide from my fate. Fear, not honor holds sway. Stripped of all pride and dignity, I run naked to the feet of the master and plead for mercy I do not deserve. So once again I ask you, Please Pray for me.