Thursday, February 28, 2013

A Year Ago Today...

A year ago today we were at the hospital waiting for Andy to be hooked up for his surgery.  His Mom and Dad were there with us in the waiting room, while my parents were roughing it with the three children.  Of course baby Megan was not yet born, and she was making my life all the more wonderful with morning sickness.

I remember the anesthesiologist chatting with the nurse about his five boys after they found out how many kids we had.  He was big and burly and anything but delicate looking.  It seemed so odd that he worked with needles and thin little vials of medicine.  

We watched ESPN while they did all Andy's blood work and paper work.  Seeing them bag up his clothes and struggle on with the leg compression stockings made it seem so real somehow.

We waited; his parents came in.

We said goodbye.

They wheeled him through the double doors, conscious (it takes a lot to knock him out).

The next time I saw him was that night in recovery.  The first thing he said was "I missed you."

This morning he's been wrestling with the kids, laying on the couch, and he successfully put on his own socks.  It took a long time of pain and healing, but it was so worth it!

Thank you Dr. Bohinski for your skill and dedication, and thank you, Lord, for making my husband able to walk and bend and play with the kids again.

Saturday, February 23, 2013

The Real Story of Cincinnati Chili, Part 9

I'm sure you've all bitten your fingernails to nubs by now in anticipation of this new installment.  Wait no more, my fingernail-less friends.  If you want to catch up on the previous installment, click Part 8.   PS...this is my other favorite part of the story...

Chapter 4:  Reedsler Steps In

Her heart had wings.  She all but flew out the door of the shop and to the curb. There are certain moments in your life when you are so happy you can only express yourself through a hop or a dance.  Thus it was that Hannistina's nimble feet began twirling her in circles as eloquently as Fred Astaire had twirled Ginger Rogers in the lovely old movies which were as regular a habit for her as Weight Watchers enrollments.  Her exuberance got the better of her, and she continued spinning across the street, singing a somewhat out of tune version of "My Favorite Thing.

On and on she went, spinning and singing, raising her hands up to the marshmallowy clouds. 

"Warm paper packages tied up with string, these are a few of my favorite....".  

A piercing scream ripped through the bakery-scented air.  Tires squealed to a halt just inches from the largest poodle on Hannistina's pajama top.  There they stood staring at each other, Hannistina and that strangely familiar car, then he stepped out. 
"Uh-huh," (he spit out his gum right there in the middle of the street) "This kind of thing is exactly why Dad sent me out here."  

Hannistina had faintly heard the voice over the loud tango of her overwhelmed heart, and recognized him instantly.  It was Reedsler, her baby brother.  He was the family "babysitter".  Anytime a family member started acting erratic, he was sent to spy on them and report back to Dad.  Hannistina groaned.  How could she have let things get this far out of control? 

He stepped over to her. "So, uh, do I get a hug or should I just pretend  
I'm on "Dancing with the Stars" along with you?"  He reiterated his point with his high pitched giggle, ending with a small snort.  It was the first of many. 

"You can either join in or get lost!"  Hannistina playfully put her hands on her hips and tossed her head back.  "You have a reputation of being a killjoy, and I don't want any of that around here." 

"Why would I want to join your little circus?"  Reedsler shook his head, and teased back,  "You never fail to draw a crowd."  

Hannistina looked at the crowd gathering across the street at the Bonmuffin Bakery.  She was in too good a mood to care.  She started to ask Reedsler in, but remembering the disaster inside, she refrained.  Instead she taunted him, "I suppose that you brought that raging appetite with you Reedy.",  knowing that the pet name would send him into a mild rage. 

Instead of getting angry like he used to, he laughed and shot back "I never leave home without it!"  

Realizing that she would not get the upper hand the old fashioned way, she 
decided to appeal to that raging appetite of his.  "Well I have about as much in the house to cook as I have to wear, so unless you want to eat fluffy poodle 
pajamas for dinner, will you run to the grocery and get us some supplies?" 

"You ran out of food?" he exclaimed loudly, "This situation is much worse than Dad thought.  I will be back in a jiffy." 

"Don't hurry!", she called after him as he sped down the street.  She knew 
that she had gotten rid of him for an hour or two.  He would not shop at the 
little mom and pop shop down the block.  He would drive the twenty minutes to 
the nearest Wal-Mart.  Reedsler did not get the charm of her small town.  She 
looked across the street at the gawking bystanders and waved.  She knew she 
appeared ludicrous, but at the moment she was still glowing from the weight 
that Dudley had lifted from her shoulders.  She gathered herself, knowing that she only had an hour or two to create a miracle inside her little home.  Throwing one more wave to the crowd across the street, she tossed her hair and hurried inside with renewed enthusiasm. 
"It is amazing what and hour and a half can do when you set your mind to it," 
Hannistina thought as she surveyed her hastily cleaned home.  "He won't think 
to look in the closets, anyway." 

Hannistina smiled to herself.  She was amazed how happy and content she now 
was, thanks to her Dudley.  I mean, her friend Dudley.  Her cheeks reddened.  Could it be that she has really learned to care for Dudley?  She thought of his 
short stocky frame and balding head...they had always stood in the way of her 
wanting to get to know him more, but now she only thought of the smile of forgiveness beneath his badly bruised forehead.  She had certainly learned to respect and appreciate him; who knows what the future would bring.  Her lips turned up into a satisfied look, while she folded her hands near her chin, lost in thoughts of him...

The door burst open and Reedsler entered, laden down with Walmart bags, his miniature poodle yipping at his heels. It was Reedsler, the poodle lover, who had given her the pajamas last Christmas.

"Hey, Mona Lisa, wipe that stupid daydream out of your head and give me a hand here," he demanded without a hint of chivalry.  Hannistina sighed.  Compared 
to Reedsler, Dudley certainly was a gentleman.  

"Don't you think you need to learn some manners?", Hannistina replied as she 
moved to help him. 

"Manners don't get you anywhere in this world sweetie,"  he taunted, "what you 
need is a direct approach to get you what you want." 

"Well, since the direct approach is what you suggest, then I will let you know 
directly that I am not cooking tonight." 

"What, you send me all the way for groceries without the intention of cooking 
them for me!  This is cruel and unusual punishment.",  he whined.

"We are going out tonight, my treat."  She knew that he was not above being 
bought.  "I am going to take you to my favorite bakery, and then we'll check out 
the shop next door.  I am thinking about opening my new store there." 

"Oh, you have a potential space for your little bon-bon shop now, do you?" Reedsler's continuing taunts were beginning to annoy Hannastina.  

Hannastina answered, "Okay Reedsler, if you are really here to help me, can we 
draw a truce?  I really could use your input.  You have a great eye for a deal 
and despite your ability to annoy your older siblings, you are really good at 
helping Dad with even his most difficult clients.  You can help me here, if 
you'll give it a shot." 

"Are you really going to try to open a shop?  You know Dad really wants you 
back in the family business.  When you said that you were going to take a break 
from accounting, he was sure that you would be back in a month or two.  It's 
been a year.  You moved out here to the middle of nowhere and we've been waiting 
for you to play the part of the prodigal son when your cash runs out, but now 
your talking about opening your own shop.  Come on sis, Dad . . . well we all 
want you to come back and join the family."  For Reedsler this speech was 
monumental, not one jest or poke was present.  

Hannistina knew she must choose her words carefully, so as not to ruin this 
moment.  "For one, I was a good accountant, so I saved and invested well.  I 
never had to spend much because I still lived with Mom and Dad.  Secondly, I 
really love cooking.  I learned that when I was working in the firm.  I would 
stress all day in the office and come home frazzled and frayed.  When I got 
home, I was so tired that I couldn't think, but Mom was sick, so somebody had to 
cook dinner.  That was hard on all of us, so I did my best to pitch in.  All 
those years that Mom did everything for everybody, and it was my turn to pay her 
back a little.  I learned that I loved the kitchen.  By the time I had dinner on 
the table, I was relaxed.  The stress dissipated with the steam of each cooking 
dish.  Now I know that I can use my love of cooking and my ability with numbers 
and make this work.  I am not leaving the family, I just need to make my own way 
in this world.  You know, I didn't leave for another continent, I am only an 
hour away from Mom and Dad's house.  Now that Mom is better, you all really 
could visit more often." 

Reedsler had listened to her careful explanation.  He had watched and let her 
passionate words reach her soul.  "I didn't know that you were unhappy in the 
firm.  I just thought you were burnt out from working all day and then going 
home to take care of the house and Mom and Dad." 

"Mom's cancer took a toll on all of us, and I was burnt out, but no more than 
Dad.  I just found out that I need to do my own thing.  I need to find my way.  
When Mom got her clean bill of health, I knew that I needed to take some time 
and sort things out in my head.  Hey, the groceries are all away!  It's funny 
how fast two people can put things away, even when they are talking.  Let's go 
to the bakery.  I'll tell you more about my plans over dinner!" 
Stay tuned, the next installment is called "The Other Woman".  That should give Hannistina something to eat chocolate about.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

My Pa, Not A Tall Tale

My Pa is so full of interest and charm,
He recently tried to cut off one arm.

His mind is with humor and oddity hung,
and you barely notice he's missing one lung.

We all see his personality from afar,
except that one guy who hit him with his car.

As a young man  they thought him quite weird,
for the simple fact that he was wearing a beard.

He has been known to come home with a monkey,
his dirty socks are incredibly funky.

One important fact is striking this morning,
I'd better be sure to issue a warning.

Any time Pa makes a sandwich of onion,
all, young and old, had better get run-ion.

Yes, I know it's Valentine's Day and this is perfectly unromantic of me to post this.  My Pa is coming for a quick visit today, though, and I just couldn't resist.  Besides, my Mom will read this and get to think of all his charms while she's celebrating her Valentine's Day at home without him today.

Monday, February 11, 2013

Wrong Song, Right Message

My Allie is starting to be into singing...especially now that she's potty-training.  There's nothing merrier than hearing a toddler belt it out from the 'throne room', little short legs swinging with vigor.  Her new favorite is "Praise Him, Praise Him, All Ye Little Children".

Here's how she sings it..."Praise Him, Praise Him, all ye little children, Daddy loves me, Daddy loves me..." etc.

No, she's not singing it right, but she IS right.  Her Daddy does love her.  Every mischievious cell in her little curly-haired being.  I can't help but smile when I hear her spirited rendition echoing out from the can.  It's cute, but I'm so thankful it's true!

A loving Daddy is one of the most important things a little girl needs.  (And I should know...I have one too!)

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

The Shining

You know, there are some people in life that just have a way of doing things that  My Dad has always been one of those people.  Is it just his Polish heritage that causes this continual one-upping effect?  Anything most people can do, he can do weirder (or clumsier).

Most of the time, we just stand back and watch whatever phenomenon he's creating with a combination of wonder and amusement.  We have always previously just kind of exempted his health exploits from this exceptionalism, however we were apparently wrong to do so.

Fairly recently, my Dad had to go in for another PET scan.  It was of concern considering how many recent bouts with various cancers he's had.  We were all a little nervous to get the results.  Come to find out, his cancer doctor was nervous to give him the results--although not for the usual reasons.

There was a shining glow shown in the scan, but it was not in the stomach as was expected.  That was great news for us, but how is an immigrant cancer doctor supposed to explain where the glowing WAS coming from?

He evidently managed to pull it off rather calmly.  His face didn't crack as he informed my father that the only glowing was coming from one of his buttocks.  Not both, just one.

How can this happen?  Do people really get cancer of the you-know-what?  If they do, is there an amputation option available?  Do they make prosthetics for that kind of thing or do you just have to resort to stuffing your back pocket with an oversized wallet?

I wonder if the cancer doctor went home and told his wife about breaking this particular news.  It must be memorable, I mean, how many people do you know that returned from their PET scan results appointment not crying, not thanking God in relief, but giggling.

Apparently it's just inflammation of the one side from who knows what.  We're awfully glad my Dad's going to be fine...and how nice of him to provide us such amusement.  He is now, officially, the butt of all our jokes.

Thanks, Pa, for always being the one in our family to light the way.  Your shining example is an inspiration...also kind of a freak of nature.

Monday, February 4, 2013

The Real Story of Cincinnati Chili, Part 8

Well now, it hasn't been nearly as long between installments, so I'm sure you could just scroll down to review, but for those of you who want to make life more difficult, here's the link to Part 7.

Ah, Hannistina, there's nothing that makes you feel worse about karate chopping a man in the face than when he forgives you and unselfishly makes you a gourmet dinner.  Happens to me all the time.  Let's continue... 

     "Dudley, after all we've been through. . .," Hannistina murmured.  "When my world is spinning out of control, when uncertainty's hands cling to my future like over-baked cheese clings to my iron skillet. . . You know my own thoughts...(sigh) my own cravings before even I do."  

     With that she nearly fainted as the aroma from the contents of the box wafted gently to her nostrils.  She wiped back an errant tear with the arm of her fuzzy pajama sleeve, finding yet more comfort in the feel of the fabric against her face.  Come what may, one could always count on certain things to boost the spirit! 

     She gathered her emotions as she carried the package to the coffee table where she set it down and proceeded to the kitchen to procure a clean fork.  "I'm 
not even going to care about the disaster in here, " she consoled herself.  "I 
have happiness in a box waiting for me in the other room."  With that she 
resolutely produced a beaten up, but still intact utensil packet leftover from a bygone trip to KFC some months. . or was it years. . before?  Never mind that - she was thankful for the plastic now, and she had more pressing matters at hand.  That wonderful creation of a meal would get cold if she dawdled any longer.  Now 
that would be a crying shame! 

     Hannistina padded back to the living room with her knife and spork.  She was 
about to seat herself and give her emotions entirely over to the enjoyment of this heaven-sent meal when she realized she had forgotten a drink. 

     Tension was starting to mount again.  Amidst frustration over the quickly cooling spread that lay before her Hannistina could feel herself beginning to lose it when she re-entered the disheveled kitchen.  At once, like the odor of garlic that takes over one's refrigerator when the jar has been spilled and 
the contents lost forever in the packed shelves, all of the events of recent days 
washed over her.  She sank to the floor next to the trash can, buried her face 
in her hands and began to weep bitter tears. 

     "What's wrong with me?  Daddy's upset with me, Georgio is an ogre, my reputation is in shambles, and now my appetite for Dudley's peace offering is all but gone.  I have got to get a handle on this.  I need chocolate!" 

     Forgetting the meal and the fact that her head was now resting on the side 
of the trash can, she leaned back, closed her eyes, and began to daydream about 
true happiness.  Was true happiness a possibility?  All these years she had 
been yearning, searching for happiness and here it seemed that all possibilities 
of happiness were in shambles around her. 

     Without further thought, Hannistina jumped up, grabbed the boxed meal and 
paraded her pink poodle clad body straight over to the Bonmuffin bakery.  She saw Dudley standing behind the counter with his jaw almost touching the floor.  It was only then that she remembered her strange apparel.  Too late to turn back now.  She squared her shoulders and proceeded to the counter.  She placed the box in front of Dudley.  

     "What is the meaning of this?"  How Hannistina managed to sound offended when she should have felt overwhelmed with gratitude was beyond even her own comprehension. 

     Dudley could have come back with a fitting reply, for many sarcastic remarks 
came to the tip of his tongue, despite his normally sweet disposition.  Instead, 
he squelched the urge to laugh at her, recognizing the desperation in Hannistina's eyes.  Quietly, he replied "Don't you think it's time to move on?".

     "Move on, move on," she stuttered, "how can you move on after being publicly humiliated?".  

     " I realize that you are talking about your own humiliation, but having lived through my own fair share of humiliation, I have to tell you the one way I have found."  He paused and Hannistina noticed that the bruise on his head was 
only a faint brown mark.  

     "Forgiveness." he finished. 

     "Forgiveness?" she blurted out, "Who am I to forgive, I am the one who publicly shamed myself, and you.  As a matter of fact," she said as she glanced down at her attire, "I continue to embarrass myself more every day".  

     "Yourself."  Dudley said definitively.  "I have, and now you must.  Move on 
Hannistina.  Go home, clean yourself up.  Make a pot of that wonderful chili." 

     "You liked the chili?"  she started, and then finished with "You forgive 
me?  I haven't even apologized." 

     Dudley laughed, "Yes, I liked the chili, and no you don't have to apologize in order for me to forgive you." 

     "I am truly sorry, Dudley.  There is no way that I can take back my rash actions." 

     "It is all in the past, now go home and make a pot of chili.  I'd like to 
try to sell it in my shop.  I think it would really take off.  If people like 
it, maybe you could take over the shop next door.  You know that Mrs. Fairly is 
selling her perfume shop.  I don't like the idea of having an empty space next door.  I'd be glad to help you get started." 

     Hannastina stared back in open shock.  "You would do that for me, after 
all this?" she finally replied. 

     "Yes, now go home and fix a pot of chili for me!"  Dudley laughed. Her tender smile was returned by his unwavering glance...his eyes were full of hope.

Well now, I must admit, that was a much more meaningful summation to the chapter than I personally had in mind.  Apparently Dudley is the moral compass of this bizarre story.  My only other thought in this installment is for Dudley...."RUN!!!!!!"  I think that's how I would have phrased it if any of my brothers had met Hannistina in real life.  Stay tuned...the next installment introduces a new and exciting character!