The President

I manage our household finances and while I’m very good at it, my husband Steve is better and I need help from time to time.  Today Steve was promoted to President of Prime lending.  I’m so proud.  Here is the link to the press release if anyone is interested.

http://www.businesswire.com/news/home/20171002006172/en/Steve-Thompson-Named-President-PrimeLending-PlainsCapital-Company

Steve is very humble.  When we were dating seriously 20 some odd years ago he said, “You are so much smarter than me, I better get an MBA.”  And he did, while he was working full time I might add.

He got home a little early today and in the late afternoon I was working on some stuff in my home office and needed to ask him a question.

“Can you please step into my office for a moment, Mr. President?” I called.

“Yes ma’am, CEO!  We all know who is in charge here!” he replied

__________________________________________________


Strong, Silent Type

My husband is generally a man of few words and not someone earlier in our marriage I would have pointed to as a philosopher, but things change. Steve is Executive Vice President of Prime Lending. It’s a big job. Neither of us participate on social media and sometimes I feel like everyone in the world except us loves it. One day I asked him why he’s not on social media and his response was rather breathtaking.

“First of all, I don’t think I’m all that interesting and I don’t find anyone else all that interesting either. I aspire to a state of grace, not perfection. I always had pressure to be perfect and I’ve learned it’s not realistic. You can always be graceful and elegant, but you cannot be perfect.”

This must have been something that had been on his mind. The first sentence answers the question about social media. The other three seem unrelated to the question but so eloquently communicate something he’s learned over the years that he has obviously embraced wholly and make him seem pretty interesting.

It’s been fascinating over the past 20 some odd years watching this man grow, change and evolve. My bohemian albeit extremely talented and affluent brother once referred to him as “a banker with a soul.”

Amen

——————————————————————————–


Beetle

My grandmother called me “My precious Annie.”  For some unknown reason, my grandfather called me “Beetle” which was short for “Annie Beetle Bum.”  All my aunts, uncles and cousins on the maternal side of my family still call me Beetle.  Cute and strange.  I had an Aunt-in-Law whose name was Kioko.  She was Japanese and not fluent in English.  After 15 years she found out my real name was Andrea and not Beetle.  She was shocked. She didn’t know what sounded right or not right for an American woman’s name and Beetle was all she’d ever heard.

One time, 20 years ago at my sister’s wedding shortly after I had married, one of my drunk uncles came up to my husband Steve and blurted “You got the Beetle!”  Steve now calls me Beetle most of the time.  So sweet how things like that stick and perpetuate over so many years.

___________________________________________________


Orlando

 

I have a sister who may well become a brother. Seriously. My sister is what she/he calls “transgender.” She/he felt like a man in a woman’s body. She/he shaved her head and started taking man hormones. She/he pumps iron. She/he is actually very good looking as a man. She/he used to go by the name Siobhan (pronounced Shavahn) but she/he changed her/his name to Orlando…..something to do with Shakespeare I think she/he said.

My husband and I are updating our Will and Last Testament because things have changed in the last couple years. We’ve sold a couple properties, moved to a different house in Dallas and my sister seems to be transitioning into a man.

I have a brother, two sisters and Orlando. I didn’t know whether to have Orlando on my Will as “sister” or “brother” so I called to ask.

“Well, thanks for including me in your Will,” Orlando said, “but I hope you and Steve are around for years and years to come.”

“Thanks,” I said. “What do you think?”

“Well,” Orlando said, “I have not changed my gender marker yet (I don’t know what this means) so is “sibling” an option? That’s completely gender neutral.”

“Great idea!” I exclaimed, “I’m going to change everyone to “sibling” just in case anyone else decides to transition!”

_____________________________________________________


The Bike

 

I’ve always been generous and sort of acted affluent, even when I had close to nothing!! So weird. My stepfather put a roof over our head and gave mom a menial amount of money to feed us and that was about it. I’m grateful to both of them. They were doing the best they could. But if I wanted hair conditioner, chapstick, skin lotion or anything other than the utter basics, I was on my own. I started babysitting at 12 so that I could buy myself those things. I had major experience and credentials because I had a baby brother and sister born 8 and 12 years after I was who I helped raise so I was a successful babysitter from the start.

REALITY CHECK: In those days, I babysat for 50 cents an hour!! If a mother was gone for two hours, she would give me four quarters! And then I’d go buy my hair conditioner from Gemco!

When my brother Sean was 12, I was 21 waitressing making pretty good money for a young girl and it occurred to me that no one had ever bought him a bike. I paid my rent, my bills, my college tuition and my books by myself but I thought every young boy needs a bike. And if his parents aren’t doing it for him, I will! I thought.

So, I did. I went to Gemco, bought a gorgeous bike perfect for a young boy, the right size the right color and it cost me about $175. Big bucks in those days. I snuck it in on Christmas eve after the “kids” had gone to bed, put a huge bow on it with a card that said “Merry Christmas Sean!”

In the morning, Sean’s father (my step father) was very excited about this and took a little credit for it. This was a long time ago and memory is a weird thing but I remember Russ giving me credit but also taking some himself which struck me as soooo strange.

Sean never rode that bike once. He wasn’t a bike kid. I saw it rot on the side of the house. Maybe my Mom and stepdad knew something about Sean that I obviously didn’t. He wasn’t a bike guy!

Years went by but one time Sean said to me, “Yeah, but I remember when you bought that young kid that bike and wow, what that meant to that young kid!”

Even though he never rode it, the gesture made him happy and he never forgot it and that makes it all worthwhile.


Scary

“You have to be strong,” the woman in the waiting room at the oncology radiology facility said. “My husband has lymphoma everywhere in its final stages and we are cheerful and optimistic. It’s what you have to do to be with cancer.” Her husband will probably die. He is completely hunched over by what I suppose is osteoporosis in addition to the lymphoma his lovely wife told me has taken over his entire body.

That first day we went for Steve’s radiation treatment, I noticed a bell on the counter with a ribbon tied to it. On the ribbon it said I made it the whole way! I was so new to this idea of my youngish husband having to go through radiation that I didn’t quite get what that was. Then, when Steve was in treatment, someone walked out, picked up the bell and rang it. Everyone in the waiting room applauded and some jumped up to hug the person who had just completed the grueling months long, daily treatment of radiation. I suddenly got it and of course, was one of the jump-up huggers. But I was also in tears.

A couple weeks ago was Steve’s last radiation treatment for a mild recurrence of prostate cancer. MILD? Can you really even say that if its cancer? You really can’t. It’s cancer. In his case even though his numbers are low and very encouraging, you get only one shot at radiation. One. You can’t do it again because radiation causes cancer. What? We are trying to solve cancer with a cancer-causing agent? Yep. OMG.

On Steve’s last day I was in the waiting room, waiting. My husband is a very subtle and humble person. He is not a person who has a need to bring attention to himself so I wasn’t expecting him to ring a little funny bell. I just assumed he would want to get out of there and put it all behind him while we wait and wait for results of radiation.   He walked out, made eye contact with me, picked up that bell and rang it loudly with a huge smile on his face. I burst into quiet tears; I try not to be a spectacle either. People applauded, jumped up to hug him and it was a demonstration of how beautiful people can be when we realize we are all in the same damn boat. Cancer levels the playing field.

 

 



Pacemaker

 

“I tried to get through your text without crying but it didn’t work,” George’s daughter Melissa texted me.

Pickle ball has changed my life. After back surgery for a herniated disk, my husband was worried I’d not be able to play tennis again and he found this new sport for me. Pickle ball is played in a gym on a badminton size court with a whiffle ball and a paddle and it’s a game of mixed doubles. Men and women of all shapes, sizes and ages all play together. It is a fast, aggressive game combining tennis with badminton and some people say Ping-Pong. I don’t see the Ping-Pong part of it. It’s an incredible work out but also an amazingly fun and addictive sport. I now play between 5 and 6 days a week for between 2 to 3 hours. It’s like my job, that and speaking about Gorillas and Chimps at the Dallas zoo 2 days a week. Lucky me. My recovery from the surgery was so excellent, I could easily play tennis, but I have no desire! My new love is Pickle ball.

I have met so many people and I have many very close friends in Texas as a result of Pickle ball. I am in awe at the support and camaraderie this PB community provides.

Not long ago, several of our Dallas police officers were shot and killed in a race relation issue. The next day at Pickle ball, one of the players called us all together and asked that we bow our heads in a minute of silence for the men who died. You could have heard a pin drop in that gym. It was powerful.

A couple months later right before we began play, a woman asked us to gather as she had a sad announcement. One of our dear Pickle ball friends Sarah, we were told, just lost her 48-year old daughter a day or two before. Again, we gathered, bowed our heads in silence and surely a lot of prayer for one of our own. Then the coach, Dave, went to get a bereavement card, which we all signed and he sent it. Sarah is not back yet but our community is there for her when she is.

Recently, one of our wonderful friends, George found out his heart rate was way too low. George is very athletic and otherwise a very healthy 72 year old, but his doctor was insistent on a pacemaker. He was going back and forth, stressing out about the decision because he felt so good and was playing Pickle ball several days a week aggressively. He was finally convinced it was what he needed to do.

George had the surgery to install the pacemaker on a Monday morning. Most everyone in our Pickle ball community knew. Shockingly, on Tuesday afternoon George sauntered in to the gym. He didn’t have his paddle with him and he didn’t intend on playing but he felt great and wanted to see us. Here is what I texted his daughter later, of whom I am very fond even though I don’t know her well.

Hi Melissa!  I wish you could have seen the scene when your father walked into the gym today.  The only word I can think of, and I don’t think I have ever used this word before, is “Fellowship”.  Several women jumped up to embrace him.  Our coach then went over to give him a hug and handshake and brought him a cushioned chair so he wouldn’t have to sit on the hard bleachers.  Then as games ended, men began walking up putting their hands on his shoulder or shaking his hand asking about his procedure and how he was doing.  He was the prince of the ball and everyone was quietly rejoicing in how well things went and how fabulous he looked.  Then a much older man than George took the padded seat and your father, of course, didn’t say a word and sat on the hard bleachers. He’s a special man and I know losing his wife was devastating as it was for you losing your mother.  But as a family, you have each other, and now know you can take comfort in that your father is a beloved member of a huge Fellowship of Pickle ball people.  Love, Andie

Here is Melissa’s response:

I tried to get through your text without crying but it didn’t work. What a wonderful thing to read. Thank you. Thank you again and the Fellowship of PB’s for caring about him so much. I’m so glad you’ve all gotten to know the awesome man I’m lucky to call “Dad”.

I’m kinda starting to like Texas….


Great Apes

I don’t usually write fiction but I dabble in it from time to time.  Here’s something I wrote a while back.

________________________

I’m in fifth grade but I really should only be in fourth. Mom started me early and then I skipped a semester in second grade because I was way ahead of everybody else in math and reading. It was hard because all of the sudden I was in a class with other kids I didn’t know and all my friends weren’t there.

I do love to read. Mom says I’m amazing because I learned at two. She says that as soon as I could see the words on a page I could understand them, as if I was “remembering” how to read instead of learning how. Now they say I read at a tenth grade level but I don’t think that’s true because all I like to read about is Great Apes. Chimps mostly but also Gorillas and Orangutans. I don’t think Mom likes it. She always tries to get me to read her books; books for grown-ups, grown-up’s stories, science books and doctor books. She went to work this morning before I woke up and she left me a book called, “The Old Man And The Sea.” Her note said to read it and we’d talk about it together when she got home tonight. I tried to read it because I want to talk with her but it’s boring and I don’t really understand it. She’s not home yet anyway and it’s almost my bedtime. Sometimes I wish she would read about Great Apes. I think she would love it if she tried it. I asked her if she could read one Chimpanzee book instead of her science books and then we could talk together about it but she says she doesn’t have time.

My Mom’s a surgeon and says she works hard so we can have nice things. We live in a house that is really too big for a Mom, a kid and a baby-sitter. There are so many dark, quiet rooms in our house that no one ever sleeps in. No one even goes in to some of them except the maid to clean. Sometimes I wonder what it would be like if I had twelve brothers and sisters sleeping and playing in all these bedrooms. I think our house would be better like that.

Mom says I’d be a great doctor because I’m so smart and she’s saving her money for my medical school. She bought me a video about the inside of bodies. We watched it and it was really gross. We talked about it for a little while but I don’t think it was a very good talk for my Mom. She seemed kind-of nervous and I don’t think I said anything she liked. I really wanted a video called “The Wild Kingdom.” I wish she bought that one because I think we would have had a better talk then. That’s OK because I can read my books instead of watching videos.

I don’t know my Dad. I asked her about him for the first time and she told me not to worry about him because he is not good enough for us anyway. I can’t help it; I think about him all the time. I hope he isn’t alone or lonely. I think he might be good enough for me. I wonder what he looks like and what he reads about. I wonder if he ever thinks about me. If I had a little girl who I did not live with, I would call her on the phone, at least. I would call my Dad but I think Mom would get mad if I asked her for the number. When I grow up, I am going to visit him.

Mother chimpanzees take good care of baby chimpanzees. They hold them and carry them everywhere they go. Mommy and baby chimps hug, kiss and snuggle and the Mom picks the bugs off the baby. When the baby gets a little older, she picks the bugs off the Mommy. It’s really cute and it’s for good grooming but also a way they show love. Mommy chimps spend the day teaching the baby things and they sleep very close together and keep each other warm. The Daddy chimp is always somewhere near-by and protects the Mommy and baby.

Sometimes, after school, when the baby-sitter is sleeping, I pretend I’m a baby chimp.

 

 


Father and Son

I’ve done a lot of research on these people.  This man was a couch potato.  Depressed by the situation with his son, he hardly got out or got any exercise.  After a doctor appointment he was told he needed to get more active so he took his paraplegic son on a walk in his wheelchair.  Apparently his son told him that when he was out moving with his Dad, he didn’t feel like an invalid.  Look what Dad then did.  Get the tissue.

godtube.com/watch/?v=9M12MNNU

If it doesn’t work as a link, cut and paste it into your browser.