Thursday, April 9, 2009

I let my dad drive

In 2002 I took my dad home from the hospital. He was given a week to 10 days to live. He was with me for 2 and 3/4 blessed years more.

He was an amputee and his other foot was so swollen and infected that it was a fight everyday for him to keep it. There was a point about 2 years into his stay that we were on our way to Logan on Corridor G. We were in a deserted area of the highway and I pulled over and I asked him if he would like to drive.


I helped him scoot over to the drivers seat and I told him we would just set the cruise control when he got the car up to speed. (his foot was so bad that he had no real control to use the pedals) When he got up to 60 mph I set the control for him. (it was all he could do to hold the steering wheel and stay in the lane!)

I was practically on top of him ready to react in case of emergency (we were in a van so I could position myself between the seats) He was having the time of his life. Nothing gives you a feeling of independence like driving - especially when it is second nature to you for most of your life!

I kept tweaking the steering wheel for him (he was driving right on the center line - even when we were passing a car or two!) I was trying to encourage him and guide him when he says to me, "You need to shut up! You're driving me crazy!"

I said, "I know daddy, but you don't realize just how bad your driving is!" Besides I have to talk or I CAN'T BREATHE!"

He died laughing and continued to drive for about 30 more miles. When it was time to get back on the road to granny's house he said, "I'm going to drive on to mom's."

I objected telling him that he promised me that he would pull over before we got to the 2 lane. He assured me that he could do it and I assured him that he couldn't. He pulled over when I told him that if he ever wanted to drive again he would pull over.

It was one of the happiest days of both our lives and one of the biggest thrills ever!

One Time at Jacksonville Pier

a baby shark chased my sister, Rhonda, up onto the beach. She was only about 10 years old and she didn't even know it was behind her. The shark was about 2 feet long and with every step Rhonda took out of the ocean it wiggled up the beach behind her until it beached itself and died.

Upon retrospect I think it is a very stupid thing for people to swim next to a pier where people are fishing. I know it is done every day but it is really stupid if you think about it.

Me and Rhonda

were swimming next to the Jacksonville Pier. I was 13 or 14 and she was 10 or 11. We were in water about to my waist when all of a sudden the bottom drops out of the ocean! Not only did the sand just slide out under our feet but the current was so strong that it was literally sucking us out to sea (and probably under water too!)

Fortunately I was on the very edge of this rip tide and when I made one mighty leap in response to being sucked out to sea I managed to grab Rhonda's arm and when I landed I was on solid ocean ground! It took all my strength to pull her toward me and once she was safe we both struggled as hard as we could to shore.

If the water would have been any deeper on us we would have drowned that day. I have meant to ask her about that day several times in our life, but I never seem to think about it when I see her.

Love Will Keep Us Together

I HATED THAT SONG FOR YEARS, not because it is a bad song but because I spent my 7th. grade summer at the pool and they played it about 1000 times a day. Other than that it was a great summer.

Our babysitter, Susan, had a new job there and she used to let us in for free. So we basically spent all day everyday there the entire summer. We had a ball. Her boyfriend Richard was the head lifeguard.

You would think that getting in for free would be enough for us, but unfortunately we were an obnoxious bunch of kids. My brother was so bad that one day when he refused to get out of the pool for pool check, Richard jumped in and very nearly drowned him on purpose. At the time it was funny, but looking back on it now it was a really awful thing to do to a kid. (Billy was in the 5th. grade then.) In Richard's defense this was the seventies and people handled things differently then.

I think Billy was one of the original ADHD kids but back then nobody "handled" them - they just whipped them. He got whipped by adults and beat up by other kids everywhere he went. (including at home) I spent my first 5 years of grade school building a terrific reputation as a fighter because I was always defending Billy.

One day I ran up to defend him on the playground as usual when Todd Killen and George Donaldson grabbed me and held me back. They said "Why are you always defending him, don't you think he deserves this?"

I looked at them and I finally was fed up and I said, "Yes." I turned around and walked away and I never defended Billy in a fight again. I was still known as the best girl fighter on the playground though. If I challenged somebody - boy or girl - they backed down!

Just my luck

The first time hip huggers were in style I was too young.

Now low riders are in style and I am too fat.

Next time I'll be too OLD!

Women In Sports

I can see the awesome improvement in women's sports in just one generation. We weren't that great (except for my sister - if she had been born now she would have been a professional!) but we were better than our mothers were. Title IX was enacted when I was in grade school and all the gym teachers told us that it would change the face of women's sports. Apparently they were right. Money is the great equalizer.

We used to look around at our hand me down equipment while being told they didn't know if we could play because there wasn't money to pay a coach. It looks like all that has changed now with astounding results for women. W0men are making a fortune in sports now and who knows by the time the next generation comes around things will be even better. They would ask us every year if we wanted to play if they could scrounge up the money. We were told it was important so that the little girls could see what they could do some day. So we played. We played on substandard equipment that was falling apart but we played.

Usually my dad's car dealership would end up sponsoring the team because nobody else wanted to sponsor a girl's softball team. He and my mom would also buy uniforms and my mom would take the whole team out to dinner (even if we lost). She said it was to be nice and that it was good for business, but thankfully it was also because my mom wanted us to know that as girls we could do anything we set our minds to. She didn't let anybody tell us we couldn't do something because we were girls - including my dad!

When I tell teenage girls that we didn't have sports when I was their age or that I didn't join the military because they wouldn't let women fly a plane back then. They look at me like I'm from another planet. That's good. It shows just how far we've come.

Monday was my brother's birthday

This was his favorite story for me to tell his kids. Unfortunately it is true.

I was at the local Pizza Hut with my friends when I was around 18 years old. In struts my brother (he was 16 or 17). He stands at the front of the restaurant in that Arthur Fonzerelli kind of way that anybody that grew up in the 70's knows all about. He looked around the restaurant, surveying the crowd in his usual cocky way. When all of the sudden he snaps his fingers (just like Fonzi) and immediately there were between 4 and 6 teenage girls surrounding him.

My eyes almost popped out of my head. It took every bit of self control that I had not to puke my guts up right there in the middle of the Pizza Hut - partly at the fact that girls would actually respond that way and partly because IT WAS MY BROTHER THAT THEY WERE RESPONDING TO!

IF I HAD NOT SEEN IT FOR MYSELF, I WOULD NEVER BELIEVED IT! The fact that I actually witnessed such a thing has always been a source of endless pride for my brother. Especially since he has always had a weight problem as far as his kids can remember and they are well aware that I would NEVER lie for him to make him look that good.