"Language, as well as the faculty of speech, was the immediate gift of God." ~ Noah Webster

Saturday, October 17, 2015

Life is Random

This post is just going to be random thoughts…well, because life is random.

I hate change. I always have and I suspect I always will. I don’t adapt well, I miss what is past. I don’t think I really fight it, I simply don’t like it. There are a whole lot of changes going on…I am not in my best element right now. And I’m holding on too tight. Maybe that is fighting it. But I believe it is only mentally that I fight.
There have been some beautiful sunrises this fall. Beautiful sunsets too. It seems autumn is the best time for beautiful skies. Autumn reminds me of our old neighbors and maple leaves. We have neither of them now.

There was a “fingernail moon” last night. “Fingernail moons” will forever and always remind me of my son. I like that. The simplistic beauty of that makes sense.
Daddy celebrated 90 years. I don’t remember the last time I saw my folks so happy throughout the party bash we threw for him. I didn’t get any photos, but I will keep their smiles forever in my mind.

My husband sees everything much more bright and clear now. He is very happy with two cataract surgeries behind him.
The lady and longtime family friend that has cut my hair forever has been ill. So, I went to a new hair stylist for the second time in a row. She has succeeded in totally messing up what I have liked oh for 40 years now I would say. Yes, 40 years on and off I have kept my hair the same. I simply don’t like change.

Alan Jackson’s music is therapeutic to me. It always has been…apparently it is to someone else, as well. I saw this meme on Facebook and laughed right out loud. Somebody gets it. Now don’t take that too seriously. I know from Whom my real therapy should come.
Sure wish “I knew then what I know now.” I would have appreciated my youth more.

I have two friends that I can pick up with like we were never away. Got to visit with one just recently. It was like cheesecake and coffee. Couldn’t have been better. Proof that at least in part some things never change. We are all older and they both are still miles away.
My dog Bella loves me more than any individual ever has – ever! She is hilarious. When it is time for a love, she buries her face into me, like she will “never let go”. And if she senses me starting to pull away, she leans in harder letting me know she simply isn’t ready to stop the attention just yet. She just wants to hold on tight. Hmmmmm

One thing I know. There is only one Constant in life. There has always been only one Constant. One thing that never changes, never has changed and never will change. And that is our Lord Jesus. What would I do in a world without at least one thing that will never change? Flat out simple answer. I wouldn’t survive.
“I hate this!” I texted my son with the best way I knew to express my unwillingness for this change. “’You can always come home.’”

“'Time marches on,’” he replied.
We both got it and that is the fun part. And truthfully, I wouldn’t have it any other way. It is what it is supposed to be. I guess it just seems random.

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

That's My Boy!

He came around the corner from the elevator just as I expected him to come - smiling. His face was red, from exertion, but he was not breathing particularly hard. He had just finished the Firefighters Portland Stair Climb for Cystic Fibrosis and we had come to cheer him on.

The stair climbs are common throughout the nation to earn money for certain charities. In Portland, the firefighters climb for Cystic Fibrosis. They climb 40 flights of stairs (800 steps) in full turn out gear with their SCBA masks using their oxygen. The climbers are timed, start to finish, to encourage a spirit of competitiveness. They have already garnered financial support from friends and family who in their generosity are the ones that make this event possible.
This was Matt’s first stair climb, so none of us knew fully what to expect. He thought that we would be able to be on the stairs at certain levels to watch the firefighters as they climbed. We thought that we would at least be able to be on the final stair level as the climbers finished.

“There isn’t enough room up there”, the man had kindly told me, when I had asked. He had paused before he answered my question - like he didn’t want to disappoint me. I guessed what he was going to say before he said it.
“Or is there even a place for us to watch up there?” I helped him out with the words with which he didn’t want to disappoint. That’s when he gave us our solution and instead took me to the place where it would be best to watch as the climbers finished.

“They will finish their climb and there will be EMT’s to check them out to be sure they are ok and allow them to rest a bit before they take the elevator back down.” He was showing us a roped off area that I had seen earlier and now I understood why. "This is where they will come out of the elevator."
He continued, “They will come out here then go back through those outside doors that the ropes lead to; they will walk along the street which enables them to come back through the front doors where the crowd will be waiting for them. But if you wait here, this is where you can see him first.”

Kind man, indeed. I knew I had liked him when we first arrived and he had greeted Matt with a friendly hello and some light-hearted jokes to make Matt feel more comfortable with the whole situation that was obviously new to him.
He showed Matt where to get signed in and gave him a bit of the information he needed to know. In the hall, there were several tables set up with sponsors and information about the event. I noticed a couple tables of t-shirts and water bottles. Turns out all the participants earned a t-shirt for their efforts, and those that were in the top tier for donations, also earned a sweat shirt. Matt got both.

We hadn’t thought in a million years Matt would be among the top donors. It had been a struggle initially to even meet his goal. But towards the end of the period, donations came from the most heart-warming, but unexpected places, which helped him surpass his goal putting him at number 15. This gave him another incredible advantage. It placed him in "Battalion 1" -  those honored to make the first climb. There were 7 battalions in all of 30 firefighters each. Being in the first battalion, allowed Matt to get his climb over early and simply be able to relax and enjoy the rest of the event.

We had arrived early that morning because we simply did not know what to expect. They opened the doors at 7:00 am with the first climb scheduled for 9:00 am. As we waited, we learned a little of what would take place. The battalions would be lined up only as it was their time to climb. A bagpiper would begin playing and lead them down the long hall in a procession where guests and supporters would be lined up watching them to encourage and cheer them on. The procession would go out the front doors and along the side walk to the parking garage, where they would enter to get to the basement of the building. There they would wait in line until those timing the event were ready to begin. Each climber was given a stopwatch to wear on their wrist to tap on a cushioned wall at the beginning of their climb and again to shut it off at the end of their climb.
It was so organized and well-planned that we never saw a glitch throughout the entire day. It was simply a wonderful event. I couldn’t have been more pleased at the smoothness of the entire operation. I had worried for nothing. But I worried again, when we watched as EMT’s headed toward the elevators with their equipment.

“What’s that they are carrying?” I had asked Matt.
“That’s in case anyone vomits from exertion and their airwaves become clogged.”

My eyes got huge. Didn’t need to hear that.
Finally they were ready to begin the opening ceremony. They began with The Star-Spangled Banner sung by a firefighter quartet, who gave probably the most beautiful rendition I have ever heard. Next Amazing Grace was played on the bagpipes. “Excuse me, ma’am” the bagpiper had softly said to me as he made his way to the front of the crowd to take his place where he would play. He certainly is calm, I thought to myself when he passed me on his way. He must have arrived just fine, because the beautiful hymn began right on cue.

Next, there were a couple speakers. The first I believe was a fire chief in charge of the event. And the other, was a woman that spoke to us about the difficulties of this disease. I looked at all those standing in front of me that were about to make the climb. I could only see their backs, but it seemed like I could feel their hearts. “Climbing for Keri” some of their t-shirts read. "Bay City, Fire" “Silverton Fire”, “Portland Fire”. “Breathe” was on the back of Matt’s shirt and it had much more meaning after hearing the woman speak. She told them that when they got to the 10th floor and they were wondering if they would ever even make it to the 40th that they should think of those that suffer with this disease and remind themselves that this is how those with CF feel every day of their life.
The ceremony was heart-warming and heartbreaking at the same time.

Cameras just seem to find him
“Gear up”, the instructions came when the ceremony was over. And I could feel the excitement and anticipation. A news camera caught Matt as he put on his gear. They stopped him for an interview and seemed to talk with him at length. I wanted to hear what was being said, but I could only watch.

As they lined up, the firefighter in front of him told him he didn’t need to wear his gloves if he didn’t want to. Matt appreciated any helpful info he could get and handed me his gloves. I could tell this fighter had done this a time or two. It didn’t surprise me when he was first at the end of the climb for Battalion 1.
As they began the procession, and the bagpipes played and the crowd cheered, of course I cried. It was so doggone meaningful and that was my boy! I watched as each firefighter passed me, some trying to look stoic; others with grins from ear to ear; some had a serious look on their face initially, but at the cheers of the crowd, couldn’t help but break into a smile. Because he was toward the front of the line, I forgot to look at Matt’s face. I only watched his back as he headed on his way, then I directed my attention to the others that followed. Watching the faces of each individual as they marched was, for me, the best moment of the entire event.

Top Fundraisers
“Come on”, my husband nudged me. “Let’s go follow them to the basement.” He led me to another door that allowed us to catch up with those who were first in the procession. There, a woman asked them if they would stand for a picture. She told them they were the top 30 fundraisers out of 210 or so, and she wanted a photo of them. Of course, I grabbed the opportunity and took a picture too.
They then lined up again, and from here we were able to wait until Matt tapped his wrist and began his race to the top. Once he tapped, my husband also set his watch. We headed to the spot where the kind man told us they would finish. Matt told me it would probably be about 10 minutes. This helpful man had told Matt that he could wait at the top and rest up before coming down. “But!” he had warned him, “If you don’t take that elevator when it gets to the top, it is a long wait before it comes around again.” I knew then, Matthew wouldn’t wait.

As we waited at our spot at the ropes, Rick got a text on his phone. “Done” it had simply said. Rick figured Matt's time to be about 12 minutes. He knew it would only be an estimate. I was simply relieved to know he had finished and wasn’t puking on the stairs and choking.
We watched and waited. There came the first two finishers. A few minutes later, there was Matthew, smiling from ear to ear and posing for my camera, at my request.

After our welcome, and our photo op, Matt had to continue out the doors for his walk outside to come back through the front doors where the crowd would be waiting. We rushed over where we would greet him officially. My husband could not have been more proud and hugged both Matt and the other climber that came through the front door with him. I stood out of the way.

There would be snacks and an award ceremony at 1:00 pm at a local pub called Kell’s which was a land mark of the city, – a nice Irish place which was in a beautiful old building. This time frame gave us plenty of time to have a nice brunch at the restaurant on the 30th floor while we waited for the rest of the climbers. We were able to enjoy a leisurely meal and the magnificent view. We got to talk about the times and the climb and all the details we wanted to know. Matt said no one was passing each other on the stairs - at least in his group. They were spaced evenly between climbs which left them on the stairs to set their own pace. Now, there actually were times a climber would get passed, but it was not something he had to deal with. Everything went as smooth as glass, he told us. He was encouraged and he wanted to do it again improving his time next year.
It turned out his time was 9:51. “What was the discrepancy between your time and Dad’s time of 12 minutes?” I had asked.

“Oh,” he had replied, “I had to help someone get his coat off. He was heating up too much and they couldn’t seem to get it off to help cool him down. I texted Dad after that.”

Firefighter/EMT first. That's who these people are! And that’s my boy.”
The National Anthem