Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Everyday is a fight for peace and comfort

929: I don’t recognize my life sometimes. I go about, seeing things that remind me of things passed. Yesterday, I was in a narrow valley, the walls or ridges that created the valley very close, and high. It reminded me of regular scenes in the Smoky Mountain’s. I thought, I’ll go backpacking soon in the Smokys. I also drove near the Sheltowee Trace. I thought, now is when I would begin to hike the 300 mile trail, bit by bit and finish it sometime this year. I saw bicycle riders, riding along a county road in the glorious warm sunshine. And I thought, oh man, I’ll go along with them the next time. Of course, I can not do any of these things right now, things so regular, my mind assumes I can, plans a trip, then remembers my limitations. It does bring forth swells of sadness. I spend a lot of time walking and getting exercise as much as I can. I do this believing one day I will return to my favorite activities. I am inclined to think, I may not make it all the way back and I try to shush those thoughts. Jesus said (in so many words) as a man thinks, so is he. I read everything I can, meditate, and try to place myself in a new, totally healed body. I believe, based on a persons faith, miracles occur all the time. I believe that I may be totally healed, and I may one day, climb Mount LeCont (in the Smoky’s), or ride my bike 100 miles again. I believe this because one look outside in nature, there are things more miraculous than what I ask. There are things more astonishing in everyday life. How can I not believe in total healing when even more wonderful things fill my everyday world? Yet, there are times I do not believe as much as other times. I am most vulnerable when I am tired. I spent four days in Lexington visiting my Son and Grandson. It was exhausting. When I got home, I feel into a deep sleep, and I was so thankful for the absolute miracle of the weekend. However, when I woke the next day, I was so tired, I didn’t think I had the strength to even open my eyes. It was all so emotional, and physically exhausting. Even though I could hardly move, I got in my jeep and drove out to my old cabin. There is a field near there, where I like to go and rest. Sometimes I throw out a sleeping bag on the ground and rest. Other times, I open up all of the window and doors to my truck and rest in the back – where I have fixed up a bed for myself. I was so tired, I made it easy on myself and laid down in the ready made bed in the back. The warm breeze wafted through the jeep bringing the sound of the nearby creek and it was embedded with wild bird song. I slept so soundly as to dream. Some unknown time later, I woke, and could feel the intense early spring sunshine on my feet and lower legs. I raised up and re-entered consciousness lightly. The birds where singing, the creek falling, the breeze wafting through the opened doors, and I noticed a herd of deer foraging a couple hundred yards away. I as at peace.

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Reunion

There are time, in fact we always hope for the best but prepare for the worst. That is, if we’re well adjusted, and are living an emotionally healthy life. Not that I don’t often struggle with “the next right thing to do”, or that I always have the best emotional outlook upon everything. None of us are perfect, but some of us are further along the “path of enlightenment” than others. In this category five storm that has been my life for about the past three years, I’ve certainly been driven “underground” emotionally, and I know that I am shell shocked, suffer form post traumatic stress about every other emotional dysfunction there is. Even though I conduct my life from inside of a bomb shelter, figuratively speaking, that doesn’t prevent me from occasionally coming up with the correct emotional path to follow, as I did this week, coming to Lexington to be with my boys over this first reunion since Jonathon (my son) entered rehab last October. Even though I thought I had some idea, as we’ve been fighting our Son’s addiction for six years, I didn’t. Anyone who has addicted children know how absolutely insane life can get.  Just when you thought you’ve seen it all, or that things couldn’t possibly get any worse, they do, and by multiples of one hundred percent. So when my ex-wife, Katie and my son Jonathon planned their trip to Lexington to see our grandson, and my son’s son, I approached it all with grave caution, hope for the best but certainly prepared for the worst. And the worst in this case I knew could get pretty darn ugly. My little immediate family consists of my son, my ex-wife, my grandson, Carter, and his mom Chelsea. Out Son’s recent excursion “off the deep end” sent everybody running for emotional shelter as we watched our loved one crash into behaviors that were so hurtful and unbecoming and so potentially life threatening.  I had no idea how this weekend would go, but I had in mind a spectrum  of possibilities from very positive all the way down to the unthinkable.  Jonathon has been struggling greatly trying to prepare himself from the damages the substances caused, so as we sat in our hotel room waiting for Chelsea (who had long since ceased to even talk to my son) an d Carter, his son, to arrive.  He was beside himself, so nervous, yet so excited to see his little toddler son. I had become worried about my son and his relationship with Carter. I didn’t know if he would remember my Son that well, or if he would be so cautious as to hurt my son’s feelings, heaping more wreckage weight upon Jonathon’s shoulders.. Passing the floor of the small room, suddenly the knock on the door came and when Jonathon pushed it wide open, there stood little two foot high Carter. As the boys gazed upon each other, Carter had a moment of puzzlement on his face, then broke into the biggest most beautiful smile ever contorted in the Universe, as Jonathon bent over to embrace little his son, little carter laughed in happiness, and my son started to cry tears of Joy I’ve never seen in my son. The last time my Jonny had seen Carter, he couldn’t walk or talk. When Carter leaped out of Jonny’s embrace, he ran down the hallway of the hotel shouting the words “Daddy!!”, and none of us could hold back our tears.


The weekend has proceeded far beyond my wildest expectation. Even Chelsea, who we didn’t expect to even speak to Jonny really came around.  After three days of watched this little family, Jonathon, Carter and Chelsea play and laugh together, I am reminded how much good is left in Gods Universe for me… for us. I know the kids have a long long way to go, and there is much forgiveness and much learning and growth to occur before they can even know for sure if they will get back together. But if they could just remain happily separated, that would be far far more than I had hoped for. To see them so happy and so engaged with little Carter is just simply the most beautiful thing I have ever ever seen in my lifetime. I couldn’t’ hope to experience a more joyful time, or events as I have in the past 72 hours. And I Thank and Praise God for every ounce of it.

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

A song by Loreena McKennitt called Dante's Prayer -

"Dante's Prayer"

When the dark wood fell before me
And all the paths were overgrown
When the priests of pride say there is no other way
I tilled the sorrows of stone

I did not believe because I could not see
Though you came to me in the night
When the dawn seemed forever lost
You showed me your love in the light of the stars

Cast your eyes on the ocean
Cast your soul to the sea
When the dark night seems endless
Please remember me

Then the mountain rose before me
By the deep well of desire
From the fountain of forgiveness
Beyond the ice and fire

Cast your eyes on the ocean
Cast your soul to the sea
When the dark night seems endless
Please remember me

Though we share this humble path, alone
How fragile is the heart
Oh give these clay feet wings to fly
To touch the face of the stars

Breathe life into this feeble heart
Lift this mortal veil of fear
Take these crumbled hopes, etched with tears
We'll rise above these earthly cares

Cast your eyes on the ocean
Cast your soul to the sea
When the dark night seems endless
Please remember me
Please remember me

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Day 850 - It's all about the cancer. It's not All about The Cancer

It is day 850, in terms of the cancer. I add the words “in terms of the cancer” as if I am so far removed it, that needed to be explained to you or even me. I don’t think there is any doubt why I know how many days I’ve been fighting. It has been a fight! A fight lasting 850 days. I would like to believe that it doesn’t occupy my life to such an extent, I’d number the days since they first discovered it. But that’s just the way it is. I think it is like a job – a person’s job is the occupier of their time, and more. The cancer fight for me is the great occupier. I do other things that I love. Photography, sewing, painting, building boxes and chests, writing and gardening when it is time for that. But the bulk, the level of my energy is due to the cancer. While I don’t like it, I accept it. Sometimes I don’t write or post on Facebook because I fear you’ve grown tired of hearing about it. Sometimes, there is little else to write about. As any of your cancer patient friends, or family members will tell you, being a cancer patient is a full time business. In fact, it is not bound by any sort of reasonable hours such as a job. There are some days I can’t eat solid food (most days) because of the colon resections and the lack of functioning of my bowels. So I have to make sure there is plenty of good drinking water around and lots of Ensure® and other nutritional supplements’. I have to take so many different medicines I can’t even keep them straight. There are the myriad of vitamins’ (which had to be cleared by my oncologist). There are a dozen or so laxatives and anti-dihedrals. And since I like to stay as selfsufficient as I possibly can, there’s laundry to do, grocery shopping, home cleaning (which takes a “back seat”). From 6 to 8 out of every 14 days, I am very sick, either constantly throwing up or having difficulties in the bathroom. So if I need fire wood for my wood burning stove, I have to have that carried in and convenient. Out of these 850 days or 121 weeks, I’ve had an average of two doctors’ visits a week, totally 242 and that is not even counting the month I was in the hospital in Pittsburgh. I never know if I am going to be well enough to get out and run errands – go to the grocery store or shop for some fabric for a new blanket I am making. But I get ready each day, and within the first few minutes of getting out, I know whether I can stay out or not. Last summer, even though I was on the very same schedule, I had the strength often enough to get a very good start on a log cabin. But with the onset of cold weather, I haven’t been able to tolerate it as well as years past, so that project sits in Mom’s yard, waiting for me to get stronger, or for warmer weather. (There is also the known effect that the longer chemo goes, the more difficult it can get.) My life before was about bicycling and racing, fishing and ginseng hunting and teaching mathematics’ at the local community college. All of that is gone for now, and no matter how much a few of you may think I could pick those things up and go, just shows that you don’t know much about being a cancer patient. Also, I have found, there are those to think I exploit my condition for sympathy and other “possibles”. This is insulting in the highest degree not only to me but every cancer patient on the face of the earth. All of this may sound like I am complaining, but I am not. These are facts, and I am proud at the manner in which I have conducted my life in these 850 days. I have very happy times, and I am hopeful even in the face of very small odds. I cherish the things that are my life; photography, sewing, painting, gardening, my Son and Grandson, my friends and writing. I am sick, but I
DO these things for pleasure and, believe it or not, worship. Yes, when something new comes down the pipe regarding the cancer, I get nervous and frightened, but I am not frightened on a daily basis. I enjoy my life as much as I ever have, and that is because I believe in God. My life is limited right now, but I don’t believe it always will be so limited. Regarding the cancer, I have survived 850 days and I am as healthy as a person with my illness could possibly be. I think this is because I remain as active as I possibly can. When I can, I chop my own fire wood, I walk 1 to 2 miles every day that I can. I live upstairs, so I carry all of my groceries up the stairs as well as firewood and laundry as well; not because I have too. There are plenty of people who would do this for me, but I figure, as long as I can do it, I am better off doing it. In these 850 days, I have had ups and downs. I have gotten very very sick and I’ve gotten better. I have had days where I felt almost normal. There have been days in which I thought I’d be gone in mere days. And it seems like, down deep inside, I am getting better. Some of the pain has eased. Some of the symptoms have gone away. It seems I am almost as strong now as I was the day they found the cancer, and I take this as a very good sign. You, my friends have been so very good to me. Caring, prayerful and concerned. Together we have been fighting for a long time, and I am afraid we are going to have to keep fighting for an unknown while more. But the hardest part of this whole thing, has got to be the unpredictability of the sickness. I never know really when I am going to be sick for the day or not. So it is hard to plan anything. When I am at my sickest, I don’t like to be seen nor do I like to speak on the phone. I don’t like people seeing me in those states. I think this is because I cannot tolerate pity. I have actually gotten angry two or three times at friends or acquaintances who displayed outright pity. THERE IS NOT ONE THING IN ME OR ABOUT ME TO PITTY. I have God, Christ and the Holy Spirit strengthen me and guiding me. He is not leaving me comfortless. The bottom line is, I will either beat this cancer or not. However it turns out, does not matter at all to me today, for what it is I want to accomplish….. For today, it simply does not matter. And today is all I have. Today is all you have also. I find there is a residual sickness that I can’t surmount, but I don’t have to lay down and die either. I respect the boundaries the cancer has placed on me, and I try and often do flourish inside those boundaries.

Friday, November 22, 2013

Richards Bend Cabin Slide Show - 2000 - 2005

2004 - Life at the Cabin November 20 I also have my discontent moments here at the place. Not as many as I used to have, elsewhere. But I still have them.. Take this morning for example. Mornings are a busy time. Just like most folks, here you have to hit the ground running. I leave one lamp burning all night, very low. Once I turn it up, and brighten the place bit, I go around and light the remaining five. This can take a minute or two. certainly not the flip of a switch we all know and love, if not outright take for granted. Then if it's cold, like it is this morning, with the fire having died down or gone completely out, it's hard to get out from under the covers and into the cold air filling the cabin. Having provided myself with enough light to avoid a serious accident, usually shivering, I fling the stove door open, and scrounge around in the ashes for what ever coals may still be hot. Once I find some, I toss in a randomly oriented wad of small cut wood to kindle a new fire. So I sit and blow and blow until flame bursts forth. Then, as that crackles and burns, I get larger pieces of pine, then oak and fill the stove full. Once I'm sure it will take off, I dive back under the covers, wondering how I could have ever gotten from underneath them - they are pure comfort! The shutout of the cold air is bliss. It usually takes about ten minutes for the stove fire to warm the place, so sometimes I fall back to sleep, it having only been four or five in the morning anyway. Other days, like today, I go ahead and stay awake. Other days still, I stay up and wonder why the hell I don't go back to bed. I'm not sure what it is, but once I've been up for more than about ten minutes, I can't get back into bed. It feels funny to me. like I am lazy or something. I've been up an hour now, so there's no way I’d go back to bed, even though I feel like it. I feel tired and sleepy and I feel irritable. It wasn't enough I was feeling sleepy, but I knocked over and smashed a globe to one of my lamps; a $2 item, but when you don't have another one, and six lamps are exactly what it takes for it to be reasonably bright in here, a replacement globe is worth more than $2. Why on earth I don't keep extras is beyond me. Perhaps it has to do with the fact, there just isn't enough space here (16x16, the size of the medium sized bed room) to actually store anything. I can only keep what I will consume within the next few days, and that's about it. You'd think that lamp globes wouldn't take much space, but it's not only the space for the globe they need. They also need space around them to insure that nothing is placed on them or falls on them to smash them up, so I don't store any here. I just brave a dimmer cabin until I can get to town. And I usually don't mind the dirty floors, but sometimes it gets to me. I sweep my floors at least three times a day, and each time, it looks as if they haven't been swept in a year. Like I said, I usually don't mind, but I was thinking about it yesterday, as I was directing a plume of dust and debris out the door, this wouldn't work for most people. It only takes a moment to sweep the small space. But sometimes, I can't stand the feel of grit and sand under my shoes, and I have to sweep it again and again and again. No, I'm not the most content individual in the world this morning, but I am still glad to be here. The stars last night and this morning were and are something to be happy about. So many stars in fact, it's hard to make out the constellations you're so familiar with. There are so many more stars visible, the ones you know so well are hidden in the multitude. And the visitors. I like what visitors I have here. Yesterday, a man that I know of (I don't know him well, I just know who he is - he owns land on the other side of the mountain from me) came through here, asking if I had seen any of this hound dogs - beagle hounds. I hadn't seen them, nor had I heard them baying, but as I told him, it had been raining, and my tin roof makes it hard for me to hear anything during a rain storm. He said that he'd lost track of them down the river "a ways" from me, and they were last seen headed up this way. I told him that I’d keep and eye out and he was appreciative. Then talked about a great many things. the caves, the mountains, the old people and the old home places up in the high ways now victim to natures reclamation - and he knew so much. So even on my discontent days, I still have my great joys. I am working on an autobiographical history of Richards Bend. My autobiography from the period since I arrived here in 1998. all five years. I think you might find it interesting to know how I came to be here, so far away from my Son, where the idea hit me, and how and why I became so neurotic as to leave the comforts of a large city, and move not only to a small town, not only the back country of a small town, but to the woods. I am looking forward to writing it. I am looking forward to you reading it.