I hadn’t seen a commercial for the “male enhancer” Extenze on TV for a long time (sorry about that.) Then, the other night it raised its ugly head once again. (My apologies for another innuendo.) Here’s a cartoon I drew a few years ago when Extenze was in its hey-day, before we were forced to watch couples sitting in separate bathtubs (Cialis) and wonder just what the hell that was supposed to mean. Enjoying the “after glow?” Or taking a sitz bath to relieve the itching? I’ll never understand corporate America.
About three years ago my sister-in-law, Tammy, underwent a double lung transplant at a hospital in San Francisco. She suffered from IPF, or idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis, a condition that causes the lungs to become much like a dried sponge, making it all but impossible to breathe. The transplant was her only hope.
The operation went well, but over the course of the next couple of years there were setbacks from organ rejection and a throat cancer that had been lying dormant prior to the surgery, which then went into overdrive as a result of the immunosuppressive drugs taking the “brakes” off its growth.
My brother-in-law, Steve, was with her every step of the way through all of this and deserves sainthood for his devotion. They celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary this past year, although the hospital was not the place where they thought they’d be doing it when they envisioned that landmark.
Time ran out for Tammy on August 12, and she quietly and peacefully passed away. Steve had emailed the family and their many friends the sad news, but he also said that he’d received a “sign” from Tammy the evening of her passing which he hesitated to relate because some folks might think he’d really “lost” it. So he asked that those who wanted to hear the story should email him. Here is what he sent. Enjoy.
“OK, here’s the deal. I know I said I would only send the Tammy “sign” story to those who wanted it. Many of you said you did and I wrote your names down on a yellow sheet of paper. If anyone can tell me where that paper is now, I would much appreciate it, because I can’t find it anywhere. So I’m sending it to everyone on Tammy’s lists. If you don’t want to hear about Tammy’s “sign”, then please close your eyes until it’s over.***************As we spent our last days at the hospital, multiple people including doctors and nurses told me that I would most likely get a sign from her when the time came. They had heard of it many times and because we seemed to be so close it would probably happen for me. I asked what the sign would be and all said “it depends”. “She will pick it and you will know.” So of course I started to ponder what it might be. About two weeks earlier I had gone out the front door in the morning and noticed our front porch light was on. It’s not supposed to be on during the day because it’s controlled by a sunlight sensitive base. I just looked at it and said “I’ll have to fix you later”. On the way to the hospital it occurred to me that maybe it was serving as a “light in the window” hoping she could make it home again. Anyway it stayed on night and day for several weeks.**************At about 6:15pm on the day Tammy died, I had just finished sending the emails to you folks and I walked back down the hall. I went to the dining room window and it looked like the porch light was off. So I went out on the porch and sure enough it was off. As I watched, it blinked three times and then stopped. I waited a bit and then said “Thank you, Honey, I guess you’re OK”. It blinked one more time and then stayed off. I looked out again after it was dark and the light was back on. P.S. I had not been drinking – yet.**************As of today the light is still on. As I reflected on what had happened, I remembered our taking kids home from our house over the years. Whether it was a Baby-Sitter, Boy/Girl Scout, Job’s Daughter, School Band Member or Dungeons and Dragons player, we would always ask them to blink their porch light three times if they were in OK and everything looked safe. Then we knew it was OK to move on. So I guess she’s in and she’s safe and I’m going to have to figure out how to move on. By the way, after the front porch light blinked, I looked up and saw that the bright sun was shining behind the tree in our front yard and the tree was waving in the breeze. That could scientifically explain why the light blinked, but why just then and what drew me to see it? That part I have to leave to your beliefs.************You can open your eyes now. That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.”
Yesterday, the 4th of July, was also our wedding anniversary. Thirty-six years of wedded
blister bliss! The second time around for both of us, so I guess the marriage “took” this go-round.
My daughter invited us to stop by their new two acre place out in the country to partake of an anniversary cake she’d baked and to enjoy some fireworks they got for the grandkids.
Last year the entire county was so dry from the persistent drought, fireworks of any kind were banned. Even the annual fireworks display at the fairgrounds was deemed too risky to go forward, so it was cancelled for the first time in county history.
You know fireworks are a big deal in Texas when you see a stand at every major crossroads offering the unbelievable bargain of “Buy one, get eleven free!”
Lord help us.
Our son-in-law is a police officer and had to be out at the fairgrounds to help direct traffic for the hordes of incendiary-device-starved gawkers, so my daughter wanted to save most of the fireworks for when he got home.
Now, after living out in the country for about 30 years, I get a little goosey about setting off flaming things for fun. Even though this year has been better drought-wise, we’re still not where we should be with rainfall totals.
That being said, the all-wise county officials decided it would be okay to celebrate the 4th in the usual fashion, so we found ourselves going through the pre-packaged fireworks box trying to find a couple of things just wussy enough to satisfy Memaw’s trepidations but at the same time spectacular enough for the kids’ enjoyment.
We settled on some fairly small “fountains” that, when lit, were supposed to send up plumes of colored sparks.
The first one went off without a hitch, so we moved onto a little bigger one, which performed as advertised on the warning label.
About those “warning labels”—-mainly they said “Light fuse and GET AWAY.”
All the fireworks were made in China and had flowery packages, making the contents look completely innocuous. We know better, don’t we?
So after a couple of the fountains, my daughter and granddaughter decided they’d try one of a set of three separate fireworks called “Ladybugs.”
The Ladybugs were round, flat on the bottom and about four inches in diameter. Painted red with black spots, they looked very cute and innocent. The warning label on them said they would rise off the ground, spin around and emit sparks (along with the “Light fuse and GET AWAY” standard warning.)
To me, it brought to mind images of those pin-wheel fireworks of my childhood in the 1950’s, the kind that do a lot of spinning and sparking, but not much else. Okay, we’ll give it a try.
My daughter, the official pyrotechnician of the evening, put one of the bugs down on the dirt, lit it, and ran back to stand with us chickens.
Initially, the Ladybug did as advertised—it lifted about six inches off the ground, spun around while emitting sparks—but here is where it diverted from the script.
It emitted an ear-splitting whistle, rose 40 feet into the air and arced into a trajectory that took it over the treetops, disappearing out of sight somewhere deep into the neighboring two acre property, like a failed North Korean ballistic missile.
We all just stood there with open mouths, in awe of the entirely unexpected outcome of the launch.
My daughter (in her defense) said, “But the lady at the fireworks stand said people really like these!”
I replied, “And people really like to put cherry bombs down toilets too, but that doesn’t mean it’s a good idea.”
We anxiously waited to see if there were any flames or other repercussions from the errant missile, but nothing happened. We decided the Ladybug was the capper for the evening (at least until Dad got home) and delicately put the remaining two back on the kitchen table—away from any flames.
Somewhere in China, a warning label writer is chuckling.
I guess I come from a long line of “fallers.”
As you know, my mother has fallen several times since the one that landed her in the nursing/rehab facility in October. The last time was in the dining room of The Hotel (retirement center) where she’s living now.
In that fall, she went over backward and conked her noggin on a table or chair on her way down. Amazingly, nothing bad resulted from that except a goose egg on the back of her head. The bump disappeared after a couple of days.
Now, my daughter has carried on our tradition by falling headfirst down the steep flight of stairs in her home.
(I had promised her in the past that I wouldn’t blog about any personal stuff of hers, so I’m just keeping to the bare facts here as they relate to our family propensity for not maintaining verticality.)
She and her husband had recently sold their home in town so they could move out to a place in the country on two acres. The buyer wanted a short escrow, so they had been working like maniacs getting the water, electric and septic connections hooked up, all the while packing their stuff for the move.
Needless to say, they were pretty exhausted.
And when that happens, my daughter has a tendency to sleep-walk.
Or, in her case, sleep-fall. Down the stairs of their two-story home.
At 2:00 am my son-in-law phoned to tell me she’d gotten up from bed (while still asleep) and taken a header down the stairs. She was pretty banged up, with a cut upper lip (thankfully no broken teeth) and painful bruises on her chest and scrapes on her legs.
I drove into town as fast as I could and stayed at their house with the grandkids until around 4:00 when they got back from the ER. She had a mild concussion and contusions, but nothing broken. Whew.
In an effort at full disclosure here, I will repost my own episode of falling down some stairs that I posted on this blog a couple of years ago.
It didn’t involve sleep-walking, but it did center around Birkenstock clogs, rain, two little dogs who needed to pee, and a husband who’d warned me that Birkenstocks were the work of the Devil.
We went to the annual Christmas parade in town last night with the grandkids and had a great time. All the entries had to be decked out with lights and they did not disappoint.
We had some light rain at times during the hour or so the parade lasted, but nobody seemed to mind. A year long drought of epic proportions does that to you.
Afterward we high-tailed it over to McDonald’s and had dinner. When my husband (known from here on as Pappy) took his cap off, he revealed a somewhat black and blue area near his left eye. He’d had some minor surgery at the dermatologist’s office a couple of days before.
Now he wears a cap…not so in the sun-kissed days of his youth.
Our granddaughter (also known as Eagle-Eye Fleegle) asked what had happened to cause the bruise.
Pappy and I simultaneously (and facetiously) answered that I’d hit him over the head with a frying pan.
Miss Fleegle knows us well enough to detect that we were pulling her leg and demanded and got the truth.
This morning, I checked the news online and saw that Herman Cain had postponed his “major announcement” about the fate of his campaign from 11:00 to a little later in the afternoon.
You’ll remember that he had returned to Atlanta to face his wife for the first time since Ginger White came forward and said Herman had had a thirteen year affair with her and that Mr. Cain had admitted to giving money to Ms. White without his wife’s knowledge.
I mentioned the postponement to Pappy and he started to say:
“That’s because he had to go to the emergency room…”
which I finished for him with:
“…to have a frying pan removed from his head.”
Great minds do indeed think alike.
A message from humorist Andy Borowitz:
May I be serious for a minute?
Thanksgiving is a weird time for some people. If you’re going through hard times, you might not feel that you have much to be thankful for.
Three years ago I had an experience I can only describe as nightmarish. But when it was over, I was thankful to be alive, and I still feel that way every day. I’m sharing my story with you this Thanksgiving week in the hopes that it might lift your spirits if they need lifting.
Warning: the story contains “strong language,” as they say on NPR. But there are laughs, too, and an ending that I hope will make you feel good. If you know of anyone out there who needs some cheering up, please share the story with them.
And have a Happy Thanksgiving. As always, I’m thankful to have you as a reader.