Nov 28

Thanks

It’s been a four-day weekend, with lots of time spent with family.  It’s been nice and relaxing.  Many people have commented that my left eye seems more open.  It’s sort of a strange statement.  I’m not quite sure how to take it.  I’ll just assume that it’s a compliment and say, “Thanks”.

I’ve actually done that before.  When I wasn’t sure what someone had said, I just said, “Thanks”.  Maybe you should try it some time.  I can’t think of an instance where it would get you into trouble.  Think about it.

My family tells me that I’m hard of hearing, so I usually try to guess what they said.  As you might imagine, sometimes that gets me in trouble.   Many other times it leads to Harry Carry moments that are quite amusing.  At least I think they’re funny.

There are other times when I didn’t have time to ask “huh?” or “what did you say?”.  Maybe the elevator doors were closing or the light turned green.  “Thanks” seemed to work pretty well.  True, it probably left the other party puzzled depending on what they had actually said.

I had a potential customer pull that trick on me once.  We were working on a substantial sale and we had reached a stalemate.  With much work in front of us, we headed for the door.  As the elevator doors were closing he said, “Congratulations!”.   We started going down.  For the next seven floors I tried to figure out what the heck he was talking about.  I called him the next day and he informed me that he was just messing with me.  Ha!

Oh yea, for those of you that read last weeks post – my dad has no idea where the Tred nickname originated.  There goes another one of life’s mysteries left unsolved.

Thanks!

Nov 21

Good Morning Tred!

When I was growing up, it was rare that I would see my dad in the morning.  He was usually off to work in the fields well before mom got me up.  Mom was persistent on most mornings, but if there was nothing going on she usually let me sleep.  This was with the understanding that if you didn’t get up by 10:00 there would be no breakfast.  The only problem was…there was usually something going on.

On the occasion that I did see dad as I meandered down the steps, he would always greet me with a formal, “Good morning Tred!”.  “Morning dad” I would say with a sleepy smile.  When I was a kid that seemed a little strange to me.  I’m his son, yet the greeting seemed as if we were quite distant.  For one thing, who was Tred and how did I get his name?

I guess that you’d have to know my family to understand that everyone has a nickname.  And I do mean everyone.  That goes for uncles, aunts, nieces, nephews, employees.  Heck, even the stray cat has a nickname.  Dad’s nicknames were usually different than the ones my brothers doled out.  Thank goodness for that.  Mine just so happened to be Tred.

As I get older and have kids of my own I realize the importance of greeting someone.  It’s there first interaction with you and let’s them know that you’re approachable.  There’s nothing like greeting someone with a “hello” or “good morning” followed by there name.  I’m a relationship guy and I like to know people’s names.  Most people think I’m weird but my contention is that we have names for a reason.  Whether you’re my waitress or the guy from work.  It forms a connection when those words are spoken.

During the past 8 months, I’ve tried to maintain the person that I am.  I try to greet people as I always have.  I’m not one to use sayings like “not bad for a Monday”, “I could be better” or “I’m just here”.  I want people to know that I’m positive regardless of how I feel at that exact moment.  Some people may think that I’ve deceiving others.  But, most people don’t really want to see your “little black rain-cloud.”  They want to hear the good news.

My dad is 85 and I don’t recall him ever being in a bad mood.  (except when I was a teenager)  I’m sure that he has been, but he never let on to me.  You know my story about not driving for 8 months.  He hasn’t been able to drive in 15 years!  Do you remember me telling about the Wagner smile?  He invented it!

Having a positive attitude allowed me to be who I am.   It’s helped me to get out of bed, get out of the house and even get behind the wheel.  The last one is still nerve-racking, by the way.  It’s allowed me to go in public for the first time.  It’s like the saying goes, “Whether you think you can or you think you can’t. Either way, you’re probably right.” Pessimists aren’t fun to be around, so don’t be one.

Some people claim to be bad with names.  I’m not sure if that’s true.  Maybe they just need to try harder.  Now that I think of it, my dad has told me the story behind “Tred”.  I just can’t recall it.  There’s something we’ll need to discuss over Thanksgiving dinner.

Nov 13

Mach III

That’s the kind of razor blade that I use, Mach III.  It may seem hard to understand, but I’m happy to say that.  When I was in college I started, as a late bloomer, to shave with an electric razor.  Since I only needed to once or twice a week it wasn’t that big of a deal.  Shortly after Connie and I were married I started to use a manual razor.  Even though I had the occasional nick or cut, it was nice to have a smoother face.

When I woke up the morning of March 4th it was important for me to shave after I showered.  I knew the day would entail me being admitted to the hospital and I wanted get properly “groomed” before leaving.  Truth be told, I even pulled out the nose hair clippers.   Getting in and out of the shower, not to mention standing with some balance concerns, was difficult enough.  But, life goes on.

When the alarm went off on March 7th I could barely open my eyes.  Well, I couldn’t open my eyes.  All that I could do was tilt my head back.  It was so bad that for a few months I had to have Connie tell me how my hair looked after I combed it.  But, I still shaved with my Mach III.  Connie would tell me “you don’t need to do that” and “why don’t you use Grant’s electric razor?”.  (Grant’s not a late bloomer)   It felt good.  I finished getting ready for work while Connie took Colin and his friend Brian Pettit to school.

Once I was dressed in my “big boy” clothes I went to make my usual bowl of oatmeal.  When Connie walked in I was eating and drinking a cup of coffee.  As a side note, you should never drink coffee when you’re on steroids.  The heartburn from the medicine turns into regurgitation.  I’ll leave it at that.

Connie looked at me and said “what happened to you?”.  “Where did the blood come from on your shirt?”  My response was, of course, “what blood?”.  Apparently, my Mach III had gotten away from me and had “nicked”, or more appropriately put “sliced”, my ear.  The bleeding wouldn’t stop.  The suspicion that maybe I shouldn’t be using a manual razor still hasn’t.

As far as this week, I’ve had close shaves of the good kind.  There were many good times with family, friends and coworkers.  I had the chance to see three happy grandma’s.  My mom and two sisters on Friday.  One of those sisters, Marlene, is the newbie in grandma-hood.  I think she was glowing.  They had made their annual pilgrimage to Columbus, for Christmas shopping, and I was lucky enough to have lunch with them.  The time flew by way to fast.  I think we all could have exchanged stories for quite some time.

My mom has seen two of her sons be laid to rest.  No-one should ever have to go through that even once.  That’s why I’m committed to a long life of better health and happiness.

Nov 06

Do not be afraid

We were at church this morning and the sermon was about Psalm 23 and how we should not be afraid.  This was all saints day, when we remember everyone in our lives that has died in the last year.  Fortunately, I was there to hear the list without being on it.  Then we sang the song about rising up on eagles wings.  That whole thing.  That sounds sort of easy.  I believe in heaven.  I know where I’ll go when I die.  I’m not afraid, but that doesn’t mean I’m okay with dying.

I woke up on March 4th and couldn’t open my eyes. I hid from the kids until after they had gone to school.  When they had left, I “looked” at Connie and I said “I can’t really hide this”.  Referring to the subtly double-vision and numbness that I’ve experienced over the years.  I sent a text to my friend Eric and told him that I couldn’t tell anyone else but “I was scared”.  Truly scared of the unknown at this point.

Afraid versus scared.  I’ve always thought that those two words were synonymous.  I can tell you now that they’re not.

Once we came to the realization that brain surgery was going to be the avenue taken, we began the process of putting my affairs in order.  So, you know that can’t be good.  I wanted Connie to have all of the account numbers, web sites and passwords just in case.  We made a few trips to the attorney and financial planner.  Relative’s concurrence was needed for guardianship and benefactors had to be in order.  Through all of this I was never afraid for my life.  I was more afraid of living in a vegetable state.  No one wants to be more of a burden than a value.  That may sound cold, but it’s true.  I was afraid that she wouldn’t be able to take care of our family without me.

We didn’t make it to church for most of March.  Our pastor, Dan Clark, was nice enough to come visit and pray with us in mid-March. With the surgery being scheduled for April 1st, I thought it would be good to “make an appearance” at church.  Like I was doing them a favor 🙂  As we sat there I wasn’t able to see the screens much less make out the pastor.  Before the service began, Dan came over to ask if I would be willing to go in front during the service so they could pray for me.  I said “sure” without a concern.

The service started and we sang “Great is Thy Faithfulness”.  That’s a song that took me back to my days as a “Promise Keeper”.  This a Christian men’s organization that really started the friendships that I still have today with Eric Gowns, Earl Osborne and Pete Miller.  This touched on my emotions and I started to cry.  Connie could tell because my chest started heaving and, I can’t say for sure but, I’m guessing that the kids were feeling it too.  When 200 people are holding hands and praying for you the gravity of the situation becomes even more real.

After the song was over, Dan asked me to come to the front of the church.  Connie, Grant, Jessica, Colin and I all went up and I stood there with tears running down my face.  I couldn’t see anything that was happening in the congregation.  I remember being asked if I wanted to tell everyone about my condition.  Microphones and me are usually inseparable.  In this case I couldn’t even talk.  I just shook my head “no”.  My fear was real but being afraid meant something different.

But I’m not supposed to be afraid?  Is that what the bible means?  Much like many other thing that I do, I’m sure that because I am afraid that I’m not a Christian.  It just means that I’m a sinner.  My brother Dan once told me that heaven is “not a castle for saints, but a hospital for sinners.”.  (Just to be clear, I never thought I would quote Dan and probably never will again :-))  This probably means that I should be in the ICU.  We all far short of our full potential.  Some may fall shorter than others.  But, in the end heaven takes all believers. Even the likes of you and me.