Lucky Man

20160518_161422.jpgToday I have a dinosaur in my pocket and it made  me think of Dad.

Moving through the dozen rooms of our child care center each day, I pick up stray items, dropping small ones in my pocket or purse to take with me to its proper place in the building.  Often I promptly relocate the items.  Other days they go home with me, forgotten, but eventually returned days later.

That’s how little blue man ended up as a gift for my dad.

When we learned dad was to have major surgery, there was little time to get things organized before flying out to be with him. Cleaning out my purse did not make the to-do list. Somewhere above Missouri, before landing in Kansas City, I discovered little blue man among the pens and paperclips that always sink and line the bottom of my purses. Laughing at myself for carrying such an odd item, I decided to present it to dad as a lucky man, for a lucky man.

We always teased Dad about his luck.  In his lifetime he won recliners, televisions, microwaves, and much more.  Not a gambler, and years before State Lotteries were the norm anyway, he won by signing up at every possible free drawing at fairs and business promotions.  So I told him this little blue guy, now dubbed Lucky Man, was to remind him how lucky he had always been, and would be as he faced the major surgery and subsequent cancer treatment.  He laughed and kept it in his hospital room among the balloons and cards. (I knew he’d like it; the goofy gene in our family definitely came from Dad.)

Lucky Man earned a permanent place on Dad’s bedroom dresser for the almost four years Dad battled pancreatic cancer, post surgery. Lucky years for all of us, to have more time together.

We are a family of faith, and credit God with that time, not luck.  For me, counting yourself lucky in life is mostly about deciding to be happy.  It is choosing joy, wherever it can be found.  Even in the midst of fighting cancer, that was Dad’s  choice, and it served him  well.

 

 

 

 

 

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Gene Shopping

I left home in a downpour this morning after looking in vain for my umbrella. I thought, “I probably left it at work – I hope my sister didn’t take it by mistake.” And I smiled at the thought of our nearly matching duck head umbrellas. Mine’s navy. Hers is forest green.

We bought them separately and it was some time before we discovered our similar tastes were showing again. I don’t know another soul who owns a duck head umbrella.

Sis and I have ended up with other similar items over the years, never our intention. We had enough matching outfits forced on us in our growing up years. It is not too unusual that we each purchased the same style winter hat (mine black, hers red) but the identical art deco turtle lamps are harder to explain away.

Are there shopping genes? Is it nurture or nature that draws us both to a love of baskets and candles? But it gets stranger than that.

Five years ago my sister and I were preparing to fly to Kansas to visit our dad. Her almost two year old daughter would be flying with us, for what we all knew might be a last visit. Dad had been fighting pancreatic cancer for over three years and was running out of ammunition.

I knew a long flight and layover would not be easy for a two year old. I went shopping for ways to help entertain her.

As we boarded the plane, I told my sis “I brought a new picture book so she has something new to look at, a My Little Pony with a comb so she can keep busy combing its hair, and a little stuffed puppy that fits in a little doghouse-shaped purse. I thought she’d have fun putting it in and out…” And my sister started to laugh.

Our books were different, but she had also purchased a My Little Pony and a dog/doghouse combo. We had purchased the same three items, using the same reasoning as to how they would entertain her on the plane. (In the long run the snack food we each brought may have been the best entertainment…)

I think it’s in our genes.

My Kitchen Windows

Autumn Sunset

Autumn Sunset

From my kitchen I can see the sunrise and the sunset.

Granted, I have seen many fewer sunrises, but I love seeing them on the mornings I must be up so early. The sunrise window is also the waving window discussed in a previous post. When they were babies and toddlers too young to reach the window themselves, I lifted my children to see that “Yes!” Daddy was home to play with them so that I might for a few minutes at least pull supper together with both hands free. Later they pressed their own noses to this window in anticipation of his arrival or upon hearing their grandpa’s tractor pulling in to our drive.

They loved to see their grandpa stop by after his trip to our barn to feed the cows he kept there. He was an easy man to love with his calm patience and gentle teasing humor – so much like his son, their daddy. It was fun to watch the two of them walking to the barn together, similar in height and build, or stopping to chat beside the tractor, so comfortable in each others’ company. We lost Grandpa Bob too soon in life to a cancer that had struck first ten years earlier. Those ten years were the difference of the children having their own loving memories of him, not just photographs and other people’s stories. A blessing. His tractor sold to a neighbor, and for years afterwards when I would see that tractor from my window the thought “Here comes Bob”, would flicker in my mind.

That window holds the memories of toddling children, first bikes and first cars, black cats, a blonde dog, and the comings and goings of beloved faces, friends and family. A different history is in the sunset window.

My oven faces the setting sun which often forces me to pull the blinds, but I keep them open enough to view the sunset once the glare is over. The yard from this view slopes down toward a creek, and I can see the bench swing the family gave for my fiftieth birthday. We really should sit out there to watch the sunset more often instead of peering out this window. I always smile to see this yard, which started as a humble pasture for cows and is the site of a favorite family story: the lost-until-found-in-the-septic-tank calf. Another time for that one.

We visited this creek when we were dating. My then boyfriends grandparents farmed here and he was driving me around all the family farms on a tractor when we stopped so I could meet them. They were so obviously disappointed to learn I was not a farm girl. At all. But they were kind nonetheless, and I’m sure we were offered one of his grandma’s famous sugar cookies before resuming our tour. He stopped the tractor down by the creek and we climbed around on a fallen log which spanned the creek and took some pictures. It was here he first spoke to me about our spending our lives together. Neither of us envisioned that we would spend more than thirty years of it on that very property.

You can see the flower garden my husband built for me to enjoy from the window over the sink. This third view from the kitchen faces south, to our barn and fields beyond. We do not farm, but have always had dogs and cats to be fed at these barns. My husband has always had a unique walk. I could pick him out from a crowd at a distance by observing it. As he makes the trip to the barn to feed the animals tonight, I notice he now has his father’s gait, slightly stooped forward at the waist. I turn to pull the roast from the oven and glance out the window. It’s another lovely autumn sunset.