These are the thoughts of a Texas transplant in West Michigan who makes his living as a newspaper reporter by evening, and a struggling novelist by day.

Thursday, August 09, 2007

time to say goodbye

and so my brother and his family's time here in holland is over.

tonight we spent some time checking out cds, burning, eating dawn's pizza roll/loaf, while ricky watched a movie downstairs and rena wtched "pride and prejudice" (bbc production) upstairs.

we did many fun things such as seeing the lighthouse, dezwaan windmill, pigeon creek north pier, sanctuary woods walk and a swim at tunnel park. we weven went to grand rapids to the children's museum. did i mention that already in a previous blog? perhaps.

it was exciting to see the kids walking ahead of us in the woods, following the trail in the woods, then climbing up an alternate trail up the dunes, then finishing up exhausted. then seeing their reaction when we arrived at tunnel park. they immediately went to climb the dune befroe jumping into the water without hesitation. (they said they'd never been to the beach before.)

my brother and maricella enjoyed the farmers market, the windmill and the candle-making at dutch village.

overall they thought good of holland. i'm glad. it's a good town. they were surprised by the cleanliness of it. and it is, for the most part.

it's been a whirlwind of activity. last night mark and alan came over and we hung out until nearly 4 in the morning. this morning we felt crappy. but we had much fun playing cards, eating hot dogs and just chilling, or trying to with the high humidity.

and so in a few short hours, six to be exact, they'll leave holland and head back south through large stretches of farmland in illinois and long, long stretches of texas.

and dad? well, he was not far from ourminds this whole time. there were phone calls to texas and from texas. i talked to him tuesday night. he sounded so-so. mom was complaining about her ankle. she did a number on it.

i think in many ways my brother is happy he's going home. he feels he should be there in case something happens to my dad. i don't blame him.

i'm already sad that they're leavin, though, seeing the joy on rena and ricky's faces when they saw something they liked or just having my brother and maricella around to chat with. good stuff.

it's not every day that i get my relatives up here for a visit. they are the second ones in three years. hopefully they can come next year, maybe linda and arnold can, too.

but as for most good things, they must come to an end. and we wait for the next good one to head our way. hopefully not to far away.

Monday, August 06, 2007

family affairs

my brother and his family made it up to holland safely saturday evening. before we knew it, they were knocking on our front door and all was well.

tuesday, though, it was up in the air whether they'd come or not. dad had a bad episode. he was incredibly disoriented. he didn't know mom's name, who the nurse was, what year it was or how tall he was. mom took him to the emergency room in corpus. she was really freaked out by the incident and asked linda and maricella to join her.

it was determined he had too much morphine in his system. he's taking a 100 percent patch and a 25 percent patch. it was cut down to 75 percent. by mid-afternoon, he'd regained his self and he knew mom's name. still, it was very disconcerting.

robert called late tuesday and said that if dad was in the hospital, he wouldnt' come. i understood, but i'll admit i was disappointed.

by the following day, after we found out it was the morphine, he decided it was ok. also, results from a cat scan of his brain revealed nothing. at this point there was nothing he could do. plus, the doctor said that he shouldn't postpone or cancel a trip.

so it's been a happy and sad weekend. it 's great to have them up here and so far we've taken the kids to the children's museum in GR. they loved it. and we went to see big red. the kids and robert and maricella got to finally see lake michigan from the breakwater, even though the day was hazy as can be. so we didn't fully get to see the big lake the way i'd want them to. evie took us out to eat, too, and that was kind of her.

and yet in the back of my mind is dad. things are in motion and it's scary. a big realty check is going on. i'm not getting into it right now here in the blog, not yet anyway. suffice it to say, he's off the chemo and will maybe go for radiation. the chemo is causing so many damned side effects for him taht he's so uncomfortable. so that's all i will say about that for now.

it's hard, so hard.

i have so many good memories of my dad, so many. he's the bravest man i know. he's valient with the cancer and the chemo, little or no complaint while he's probably in great pain.

jhe's such a quiet force and has been all his life. a man of few words that says so much with a facial expression, mutter or simple reply.

and so kind and generous, the type of father most people should have in their lives.

he struggled all his life, a poor laborer, keeping his family going on the small earnings he worked so hard for, seeing his face as he pulled up from work, promptly at 5:30 either in his old white ford falcon, blue ford fairmont, ford f-150 or at times a company car borrowed for the night.

i can still see him coming up the walk, up the stairs and into the house, brown paper bag or silver lunch box emptied of his lunch, giving my mom a kiss on the cheek as he walked into the kitchen while she finishe dup with supper.

my dear father. how i love you. how i care for you and how these memories make me sad. i wish life had taken a different turn in the road, only a slight one to change things.

i'm glad ricky and rena are having fun here. i think it's a needed distraction from being at the ranch, seeing and hearing what's going on with dad.

rena is very aware of things in the ranch. she picks up emotions very easily. ricky may not like her, but he knows. he told maricella after tuesday's incident, "when papa died he'll go to heaven. it's a good place for him."

i love you, pop. i love you.