Category Archives: children

HEART OF HOPE (2) – My Daughter’s Transplant Story

“Daddy, they called! They have a heart!!”

(Read Part 1 here)

A new heart!  Renewed hope!!  A chance for Shelby to live a full life!!  It’s exactly what we hoped and prayed for!

But wait!  Wait…

For one to live, someone doesn’t.

Somewhere, a family’s tears flow. Someplace, loved ones grieve. Somebody is hurting, mourning a tragic loss.

Their hope, it’s gone.

Yet, in the deepest of deep grief, they share. They share life through their loss.

To someone else, some unknown person to them … to Shelby … they pass along a heart, the very beat of life. Continue reading HEART OF HOPE (2) – My Daughter’s Transplant Story

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HEART OF HOPE (1) – My Daughter’s Transplant Story

Phone rings.  3:42 AM.  Never a good call at that time.

I listen, shocked.  Adrenaline rushes.  My fingers tremble on my shirt buttons.

Twelve minutes later in the ER, several people explain that Shelby, my 20 year old daughter, has an enlarged heart that’s only working at 15% capacity.

I can’t get to her.  People everywhere, beside her, in the way. I can’t reach her, and she’s slipping away.

It’s almost ten minutes before I can bend over to see her in the bed, pale.  So pale.  Shallow breathing.  Hands and fingers, blue and cold.

I speak softly, fully understanding I may not ever get to again. “Hey Sweetheart.”

Her eyelids flutter before opening her blue eyes that are there, but slipping.

I see the recognition as she whispers, “Daddy, I don’t want to die.” Continue reading HEART OF HOPE (1) – My Daughter’s Transplant Story

Dad, Does Insurance Cover an Ambulance

I didn’t recognize the number and almost didn’t answer. “Hello.”

It was my third son, Todd, who has an adventurous spirit.  “Hey, Dad. Whatchu up to?”

“Just watching a soccer game on TV”, I said.  “I thought you were in San Antonio playing in the college club soccer tournament this weekend?”

“Yeah, I am.”

“Y’all doing alright?”

“Yes sir. We won the first one, lost the second, and tied right now.”

Todd pressed on. “Hey, does our insurance cover ambulance rides?”

“Yeah. Why do you ask?”

“I was talking to some guys and I didn’t know.”

“Yeah, any time there’s an accident, it’s covered.” I was getting confused. “Where are you?”

“I’m at our game.”

“Are you finished, or about to start?,”

“No, the game’s going on now.”

“Well Todd, why aren’t you playing?”

“I was, but I was making a steal and slid to clear the ball out of bounds.  The guy from the other team fell on me and when he did, there was a loud pop in my neck.”

“Oh man!! Are you hurt?  Need to go to the doctor?”

Todd matter of factly said, “These guys think I do.”

“What guys?”

“The paramedics.” Continue reading Dad, Does Insurance Cover an Ambulance

Playhouse to Lighthouse

The tenth grandchild is coming in October! Can’t wait! Grandkids are great!

Last year I built a swing set for the grandkids, then a fire truck (you can read that here).

The boys had something, but JJ, daughters, daughter-in-laws, and even granddaughters said they wanted something for the girls, specifically, a playhouse. Playhouse foundation

~Challenge accepted.~

I drew up plans for a little 10’ x 10’ playhouse, bought the materials and started work.

It’s insulated, with lights, porch lights and a plug for a heater or fan powered by an extension cord.

Like everything that comes from your hands though, I know where I messed up.  I see my mistakes, things others, besides building professionals, may miss.                     img_0633

But I see them.

I shake it off.  Remind myself that the goal isn’t perfection, even if I want it.  Demanding perfection, whether in a playhouse or a child’s life and behavior, destroys the goal. Continue reading Playhouse to Lighthouse

The Other Table

I saw a co-worker and his wife in a social setting.  The man turned to his wife, “Tell Jeff the story you told me.”

Her face lit up as if she remembered something important.  She began a story from the high school cafeteria where my kids went.

She told me about a young man who doesn’t “fit in”.  She said the student being picked on wasn’t popular, struggles in school, and in all reality, is not very socially skilled.  By all accounts, he’s a little odd.  Add it up, and he’s an easy target.

The young man’s primary defense mechanism is to blend in like a social chameleon, then avoid others.  That’s impossible during school days when he would unwilling become the center of attention.  He’d shrink alone, virtually defenseless, and silently absorb any words, jokes or laughter directed his way. Continue reading The Other Table

Brahm’s Lullaby

In college I worked one summer at a funeral home.  Morbid? Maybe, but I wanted to be around the death process to understand, not fear it.

Sometimes though things, places, events — they change you, change the way you think, change the way you see and feel life.   That summer changed me, one night in particular.

I had two jobs that college summer.  As soon as I finished my maintenance job, I’d shower, put on my suit and rush to the 2nd job at the funeral home.

It was a visitation that night, just one body, with few visitors expected.  The funeral home owner told me he and his family were leaving town for a short trip, threw me the keys and told me to lock up after everyone left that night.

No one was there, so I went into the state room and was shocked to see the tiny casket.  Inside was a beautiful, eight month old baby girl.  Continue reading Brahm’s Lullaby

31 Years, 3 Months, 1 Week, 2 Days

“You’re going to cry when I graduate, aren’t you?”

“Yes. Yes, I am.”

That was enough to satisfy my youngest daughter, Jessica, back in September. She’s the last of my eight children to graduate high school.

She graduated Friday.

We have a few college graduations left, but by and large, the work is done. The time is finished. The investment complete.

I cried, not why she thought I would, but I cried… Continue reading 31 Years, 3 Months, 1 Week, 2 Days

Everybody Wins

It’s our large family tradition. Easter egg hunts for the children AND adults.

The kids go first, eggs with candy, bubbles, little toys, and more candy.

kids 1

Then the adults hunt. We had 13 adults hunt this year because 5 of our adult gang couldn’t make it.  Janet and I sat back and enjoyed watching the 13 go after it.

Fun, fun!

It’s basically the same each year, but with new twists thrown in.  The twist this year was games made up of random teams.

The first-place team in points from the Egg Toss, Egg Spoon Race and Rabbit Race (tow sack races) got a first-place head start hunting eggs, followed by the second-place team, then the lowly third-place team. Continue reading Everybody Wins

Little Rascal Soccer

Anticipation was high. All the mother’s anxiety was higher.

Water bottles? Check.  Halftime orange slices? Check.  After game snacks and juice boxes? Check.

Spectators set up lawn chairs battling for the best open places on the sidelines. This would be an epic contest, one replayed on family home movies for years to come.

Coaches were nervous. After all, their reputations were on the line. If their teams didn’t perform, well it would be obvious to everyone, and most importantly themselves, that they were failures as coaches, maybe even failures at life, like, forever!

The referee wanted to take control of the game of four-year olds in 4 vs. 4 game that doesn’t require World Cup refs.  It didn’t matter.  His nervous habit of rubbing his acne took the air out of his mystique. Plus, he was only thirteen, 5 feet tall and maybe 97 pounds.

The players weren’t stressed a bit.  Although two players had to go potty before the game. Probably just nervous energy.

Continue reading Little Rascal Soccer

Dance On

She smiled, flashed her big brown eyes open wide in anticipation, before scooting over and asking what I knew she would ask.

“Daddy, will you dance with me?”

Dancing. It terrifies me. On the other hand, I don’t mind looking like a fool on the dance floor because other than a slow dance, I know that’s how I’ll look.

Now my oldest daughter, Shawnna, who was 14 years old at the time, was asking to dance with me at her basketball fund-raiser in the school cafeteria.

There’s only one answer. “Absolutely!”

There were lots of girls there, only a handful of guys, and even fewer fathers.  If you lined all the other males up and rated them from first to last on the dance floor, I would by far be last, dead last.  I didn’t, no wait, I still don’t know how to two-step.

Shawnna is a very kind, observant daughter and knew I would dance, but also knew I didn’t like dancing because quite frankly, I don’t know how.  As if our roles reversed, she smiled, took my hand and said, “Come with me. I’ll teach you.” Continue reading Dance On