A Single Red Sock

There was a young husband who took a young wife to live in a shoebox beside a busy thoroughfare. The young man attempted to treat his wife with utmost sincerity and kindness, but often found that his tongue got in his way. Dull and ill-advised words suitable only for bachelorhood unfortunately found their way from his mouth to his young bride’s ear.

While the ever-patient bride overlooked most of the offenses, the stupid young husband constantly felt it necessary to pay penance for his outbursts by aiding his wife in her chores. After one particular peccadillo, the husband took it upon himself to do the laundry.

Knowing at least that colors and whites must go separately, he sorted the clothes into piles and decided to begin with the whites. In went the slightly dingy load while the hopeful husband added soap and waited nearby. When the buzzer rang, he jumped to his feet expecting to pull out gleaming white clothes. What to his wondering eyes did appear, but a washer full of pink. Pink, the color of panic. Nothing was the same as it had gone in.

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With his bride due home soon, he frantically searched the load to find an offending single red sock. Casting it aside, he loaded the machine with bleach and ran the whites through once more. Bing – cycle over, no change. Pink panic.

A key at the door

A smiling bride

A kiss before the confession

Disappointment, accusation, regret

“My favorite shirt!” she exclaimed as she held up a blushing blouse. “Ruined!”

“I’m sorry, I’m so sorry,” pled the husband. “I’ll buy you another. What else can I do, my darling?”

“I will tell you what you can do,” she fumed. “You can promise you will never, ever, ever do the laundry again!”

“I swear it, my love,” promised the young man on bended knee. “I will never touch dirty clothes for as long as you’ll have me.”

One score and two years later, the older husband is still bound by his oath and forbidden to use the washing machine with the following exception: his rag towels.

With a family so large, the machine seems to run day and night, but can he help? Not besides folding.

I ask you the following, was the young naïve husband really so foolish decades ago, or did he craft a cunning plan sure to guarantee a life of marital slackness? Could you place that much credit for forethought on the brash youth who couldn’t keep his pie-hole closed? Would the wife’s version tell a different tale?

Tax Day – But I’m not Bitter

I think April 15th would be the worst birthday to have. There are two kinds of people as it relates to taxes – those who get a check and those who have to send a check. If you have to send a check (like me), you grudgingly hold onto it until the last minute and mail it on April 14th, leaving you broke and unable to buy a present for your friend with a birthday the following day. If you get a check, you filed in early February. Since you considered the return a sudden windfall, you blew it on something frivolous like a snowcone maker, leaving you no residual to buy a present for your friend with the worst birthday of the year.

Conversely, there would be something extremely cool about being a leap baby and having February 29th as your birthday.

1040_formThat tidbit is irrelevant today since I just had to write a check to the United States Treasury! Oh, I understand that it costs to provide government services. I know it has to come from the citizens. I just hate filling that out on the check – and then they want me to Fed X it or pay extra for a return confirmation. I’m sorry, but aren’t I paying for the postal service to be sufficient to deliver your money to you? If you have any doubts whether the man in blue who just took my envelop can discharge his duty properly, shouldn’t you institute a better employee screening process instead of charging me another $4.50?

I’m not bitter, though. Not at all.

But while I’m on the subject, I remember when I took my first baby home from the hospital in mid-December. When I did my taxes, I felt like I had cheated the world since I got a deduction for the entire year and she only cost me for two weeks. That was eighteen years ago. So this year I lost the tax credit for her because she turned eighteen. I love her dearly, but like most children, she is complete financial dead weight – all cost, little contribution. And let me tell you Mr. United States Treasury, she costs considerably more now at eighteen than she did at one. I’d trade diapers and formula for cell phones, clothes, gas and car insurance any day.The_taxes_by_Orlov

I’m not bitter, though. Not at all.

I could go on, about paying into a social security system that I am assured will not exist when I am of age to need it. That’s why I had four kids, they are a kind of a retirement plan for me. I figure I can rotate a week a month at each of their houses and mooch off them just to pay them back. I’ll refuse to wear pants, make odd noises and smells, and sit on the front porch complaining about the government all day.

I’m not bitter, though. Not at all…

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Photo credit: Robert N. Dennis Collection of Stereoscopic Views
Artwork: The Taxes by Orlov

Father of Nations – Terrible Babysitter

I like to think I was a good sitter for the kids when they were little. I mean, I’m dad, so I should be able to provide for their basic needs on occasion. I remember a particular Saturday when our first was a toddler. Instead of playing the usual dolls and house (which I was excellent at, by the way), I decided that her tummy, back, and arms made the perfect canvas for a jungle mural. It seemed like a good idea at the time. We drew and drew until elephants, lions, and zebras were marching all over her flesh. Great, giggly, tickly fun.

Great fun until Mom came home and the little fink sold me out. My lovely wife hadn’t gotten two steps into the kitchen before the scamp had pulled her shirt up to reveal the masterpiece. I don’t recall if it was the classic grocery bags hitting the floor or not, but her fury stretched across the room and melted part of my ear. Something about her perfect, beautiful baby looking like a tattooed Harley rider.

That was the day I received a fairly detailed list of appropriate activities for times when mommy was away. I also learned the difference between permanent and washable markers.

That was a “first child” thing. She’s mellowed about keeping them in pristine condition and maybe I’ve matured a little. Either way, I pale in comparison to the worst babysitter ever. Some of you look for deep meaning in Bible stories and I applaud you. My infantile mind reads some of the odd ones and starts playing Paul Harvey – looking for The Rest of the Story.

When I read Genesis 22, I am awed by Abraham’s obedience. To listen and follow God at the expense of the one thing he had waited a hundred years for, his baby boy, is incredible. For so long he had begged and schemed for a son, but couldn’t have one with Sarah until he completely gave up his own plans and got to a place where he put his utter reliance on God and not himself. Only God.

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We know how the story goes. Just before he offers Isaac as the sacrifice, God shows him a ram to use as a substitute, sparing his son’s life. Can you imagine the sheer joy? Can you picture the relief of his heart? Do you think Isaac flinched when the knife went up? Do you wonder at what Sarah said when they got home?

Seriously, how do you relay that to your wife?

“Hi Honey, we’re home.”

“Oh, I missed you two so much. How was the camping trip?”

“It was fantastic. You’re never gonna believe what God did. First, he told me to sacrifice Isaac. So I built this altar and put him on it. Just as the knife was about to come down…”

“YOU DID WHAT???”

 

The Bible omits that part of the story. But I wonder sometimes.

 

I wonder what things I hold too dear to put on the altar. I certainly wouldn’t put my kids on there. (Heck, I won’t even draw on them anymore.) But there are other things too precious to me that I hold back. I know it – and so does God. Lord help me to have more faith and obedience like Old Abraham. I just pray I’m a better babysitter.

 

 Artwork Credit: Ferdinand von Olivier [Public domain]

 

 

Where were you?

Where were you when you first heard the sound? Good sounds – your husband’s voice, your baby’s giggle, the words “I love you?” Do you remember? Can you picture the scene and surroundings?

I experienced a condensed courtship with my wife because I was briefly called back to service during Desert Storm. I don’t recall the first expression of the four- letter L word in our relationship. I know it came, and stuck. I have said it to her every day for nearly twenty-two years. I say it every night to my girls and sometimes in front of other people, much to their chagrin.

I wish I remembered the first time I said it, though.

I will never forget the first time I heard the word Cancer as it related to my family. I was in the hospital just a week ago when it was introduced to me, while my little girl lay sleeping nearby. The doctor actually used the words “oncological event” before I made him dumb it down for me. Cancer.

I held my wife in my arms as she collapsed into a puddle. Doesn’t cancer affect other families? Why would he be saying this word? I felt an instant dislike for this man, but my mind clouded to nothing. My wife’s head heaved in my chest. I couldn’t think in more than three word bursts. I have no idea how long we stood that way. I was roused only by the sound of a man pushing a cart way down at the end of the hall. The wheel squeaked as he carried out his task and I remember thinking, “How can he be pushing that? Doesn’t he know? It doesn’t matter where that squeaky cart is! Why isn’t he stopping?”

It was then I realized this isn’t everyone’s diagnosis. It is Kylie’s and ours: our family’s, our friends and network of support. But the rest of the world will continue to march on around us.

I will add a link to Kylie’s Caring Bridge at the end of this post because I won’t allow cancer to dominate my writing. It will peak its evil head in from time to time, I have no doubt. But I won’t allow it to take over my life, steal my joy, soil my faith, or crush my little girl.

It took a while to determine the enemy. Until then, we’ve been punching at shadows. Now we start to take it out. We are at the beginning of a long road, but there is hope. Kylie knows what is going on, she is scared. We cried together and prayed. She has decided that this is happening because God must have a really big, great plan for her. I don’t know if I could have gotten to those words so quickly at twelve – she’s just chock-full of amazing.

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The picture I added is one of Kylie as Annie in her school play a couple of years ago. She is an incredible actress and I can’t wait to see her on stage again.

Because our minds are reeling right now, the verse we’ve been holding onto is Romans 8:26

Likewise the Spirit also helps in our weaknesses. For we do not know what we should pray for as we ought, but the Spirit Himself makes intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered.

Thank you for your prayers and words of encouragement, friends. I have to go now, the bell just sounded for round one…

 

http://www.caringbridge.org/visit/kyliemyers

 

Shaking Hands with your Urologist

My first experience with Dr. P was a week after we discovered our surprise forth pregnancy. I found myself seated uncomfortably on the metal table being interrogated by a very contemplative man half my height, but with an IQ obviously twice mine. He spoke with a fairly thick accent and seemed dubious of my procedure of choice.

Dr. P, “Missa Myers, you seem very young. How old are you?”

Me, “I’m thirty-four.”

Dr. P, “How old your wife?”

Me, “She’s thirty-three.”

Dr. P, “Oh, that very young. You sure you want this?”

Me, “Yes Doctor, I’m sure.”

Dr. P, “You know, this permanent. You might want reversal, but it maybe not work.”

Me, “I know. I’m sure.”

Dr. P, “Your wife sure? She know?”

Me, “Yes, she knows.”

Dr. P, “Okay, you sure. Just one more time I ask, because you maybe not go back?”

Me, “Dr. P, we just found out we were pregnant with our fourth child.”

Momentary pause for contemplation.

Dr. P, “Oh. In that case, why you not come see me sooner?”

He checked a box on his form and left. The procedure came a few weeks later. I’ll mention no specifics except to say that once I was prepped and ready, the quiet, secluded corner room seemed to turn into Grand Central Station. Nurses, accountants, inspectors, magazine vendors, interns, dog walkers, board certifiers, and I think a few pharmaceutical sales reps all of the sudden had important business in my room. Finally the good doctor came and did his work. I left hoping to never see Dr. P again. No offense, but I thought seeing him again meant a fifth bundle of joy. I was wrong.

My second trip to see him came after experiencing some discomfort during a long run. Until then, I had no idea that Urologists did everything! When I went back to the very same room, there sat my friend, Dr. P. who remembered me distinctly.

“How your baby?” Dr. P asked.

Me, “She’s doing great. Six years old now.”

Dr. P, “How old are you?”

Me, “I just turned forty.”

Dr. P, “You know, Missa Myers, we start thinking about prostate health at this age…”

 

I’ll leave the rest to the imagination. Based on my experience with Dr. P, I have some advice for men.

First, when your Urologist asks you your age, consider carefully the ramifications of the question.

Second, when you are greeted by your friendly Urologist, remember that his hands have been places that my dog’s nose only dreams about.

 

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I poke fun at my interaction with Dr. P, but men’s health issues are not a laughing matter. Fortunately, I only had a couple of kidney stones that were easily blasted out. Get checked when it is time to get checked, men. Others are counting on you!

 

Johnny Reb’s Revenge

Welcome to the South! But beware – we have some surprises for you. If you are just passing through on the way to the beach, leave your car parked in Chik-fil-A’s parking lot long enough to get a sandwich and you’ll find it. The yellow nightmare that welcomes spring here every year: pollen.

 

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We are used to it. We don’t love it, but accept it as one of the few drawbacks of living in God’s Country. I wonder what the Union soldiers thought of the yellow cloud in April of 1864. Did it slow them down or just shock the troops and make them sick along the way? I can’t imagine muskets are easy to aim anyway, but I’m guessing more than a couple Southern soldiers escaped the bullet because of the itchy eyes and runny nose of the enemy.

Despite our ideological divide, the Confederacy was short lived and we are united. This unity allows many Yankees to set up residence here when they get sick of the cold weather and frosty attitudes up north. I’m told they were called ‘carpetbaggers’ back in the day. We have nicer names for them now (when they are in earshot). We sell them our cow pastures at over-inflated prices and say things like “Bless your Heart”, which they think is nice but is actually a veiled insult.

Just kidding (except about BYH) – everyone is welcome here.

I had a humorous run-in with pollen at our first home. It was a cute little starter home that had one issue – when it rained, the run-off from the street came down our driveway and off into the side yard to a retaining ditch. You can never see something like that unless you happen to be visiting in the rain before the purchase. We weren’t and the community real estate agent didn’t share that fact. He was from Connecticut. Anyway, the first time it rained in April, our entire driveway and yard was painted yellow with pollen run-off. Being an inexperienced home-owner and relatively dull anyway, I marched up the street in the rain to confront whoever was spilling yellow paint into my yard. I figured it out fairly soon.

Now I have a new boss moving from New Jersey. He seems like a really nice guy and I look forward to working with him. I wonder how he and his family will feel about Johnny Reb’s revenge. They will mostly likely wait to move until after school is out and will miss it this year. So the question is, should I warn him?  Or let him enjoy the surprise in 2015…

 

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Photo credits: “I Heart Pollen !” by Brooke Novak & USGS Native Bee Inventory and Monitoring Laboratory from Beltsville, USA

I Won’t Do That!

The season my first daughter was born, Kentucky won the NCAA championship. Two years later, along came daughter number two and, lo and behold, UK hoisted another banner. I joked with my lovely wife at the time that with all of the rich basketball fanatics in my home state, we could surely find a patron who would sponsor future babies if Kentucky kept cutting down nets. Alas, no such luck with numbers three and four.

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You’d have to know my wife, though. She loves babies. She would have started looking for real estate in Lexington had they won with our third. Her baby wanter gets turned on just by the smell of hospital soap. If she gets to hold one, I practically have to pry the child out of her hands. I came home not too long ago and she was holding a baby I had never seen with a contented smile on her face. I looked around…no one else in the house. For the briefest of moments I truly thought she had finally stolen one. (It turned out we were babysitting a teacher’s baby for a night.) Me, I like ‘em okay. I liked watching a game with one sleeping on my chest, but they always felt too fragile in my oversized mitts. I preferred the toddler years where we could wrestle and play.

Much to my delight, my beloved Wildcats have made it to the Final Four again this year. I said at the outset of the tourney that I wouldn’t be surprised if they got beat in the first round and I wouldn’t be surprised if they won it all. It’s been just that type of up and down year. I don’t keep up with sports like I used to, but I still watch my Cats when I can.

I’m sorry Cats. I love you and want you to win with all of my heart. But my baby days are behind me. I won’t do that!

(A little Meatloaf just for fun!)

 

Good luck to the Wildcats this weekend. I hope you cut the nets down on Monday. You just have to do it without my progeny this time.

 

Speaking of my progeny, I was set to post this yesterday until we got news related to the health of our youngest. We haven’t gotten an exact diagnosis yet, but have further tests next week. I appreciate the prayers and words of affirmation from my friends here. We’re hanging in there and she has meds now to make her feel better…