Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Another Thank You

Thank you to everyone who came to dad's services and to all of you who were there in spirit.

We especially want to thank our cousin Father "Jimmy" Courville for doing such a beautiful and thoughtful and special job for our family.

Dad's Online Memorial, Keepsake Video and Keepsake Printing

Click above the picture of my dad (click here for his memorial page) to view the keepsake video and keepsake printing for my dad prepared by Broussard's Mortuary here in Beaumont.

I want to send out special love and thanks to our friend Dana Melancon for providing the music last night at dad's vigil which was all upbeat and fun, exactly what my dad requested and I can't begin to express how wonderful our dear friend Tom Broussard and everyone at Broussard's has been.

Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Dad would be so pissed and an interesting fact

Dad would be so pissed
When dad pulled us in individually to speak to us before he passed, in typical Ransonette fashion, it was all about practical matters. We shared our emotions as a group, but the important stuff (important to him) was emphasized in individual conversations.

One of his biggest requests was that he didn't want a lot of media coverage. Well, that didn't happen and, I swear to you, every time a reporter or television station would call yesterday it would either thunder or start raining harder.

Sorry, dad. Not our fault.

Interesting fact
Did you know that it's possible to cry and brush your teeth at the same time? I didn't. Maybe it's the Xanax. Ah, the miracles of modern medicine.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Dad Stuff and links to newspaper articles and obituaries

Two random thoughts about my dad that are just on my mind tonight:
He and mom kept miniature Snicker's in dad's room at the hospital and would tell every nurse and doctor, every single time they came into the room, "Don't forget your tip." Then they would badger the poor people until they took at least one Snicker, telling them to at least give it to someone else if they didn't want it or couldn't eat it themselves.

Thought number two is the fact that he absolutely, positively refused to wear a seatbelt. Drove us all crazy.

Link to dad's obituary and memorial page where you can leave a message: click here.

Link to article in the Port Arthur News: click here.

Link to article in the Beaumont Enterprise: click here.

Link to story on local CBS television station (with lots of pictures): click here.

Link to story on local FOX television station (with video): click here.

Link to more pictures of dad: click here.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Harold "Red" Ransonette, Jr. (July 27, 1932 - September 27, 2009)

My dad passed away at 10:00 a.m. this morning. I had just left the hospital to come home and shower when I got the call to come back to the hospital. As we all made our phone calls this morning, most of the people we called were at church and more than a few called us back to say they had been praying for dad.

I can't begin to thank you all for your love and support.

Here are some of my favorite pics of dad and click here for some of my favorite dad stories.

My dad passed away at 10:00 a.m. this morning. I had just left the hospital to come home and shower when I got the call to come back to the hospital. As we all made our phone calls this morning, most of the people we called were at church and more than a few called us back to say they had been praying for dad.

I can't begin to thank you all for your love and support.

Here are some of my favorite pics of dad and click here for some of my favorite dad stories.

Dad Update and a Little Something Strange

Dad is the same this morning. Love to everyone reading this. I know he knows you care.

An interesting side note. While my uncle and his family were visiting dad yesterday, my uncle and my cousin's friend's hearing aid batteries went out at the same time. A few hours later my cousin's hearing aid battery went out. They all told us that that has never happened to them before where all their batteries went out within a few hours of each other..

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Dad Update and Aunt Lora Scares Everybody

My dad's brother and his wife and daughter and a friend were just here visiting dad and my dad's brother's wife passed out in the room. The nurses called a Code and it was mass chaos for a while. My cousin just came back up from the emergency room and they say that she just "passed out" and she will be fine. Holy cow.

Dad Update

It's Saturday morning and dad is still with us. No change. We continue to talk to him and remind him of all the family who are on the other side and are waiting for him.

The widow of my young cousin who passed away three weeks ago came up to visit dad with my mom's sisters and my cousin Chris yesterday. Cindy told dad that Alan is waiting for him, but dad must still have things to do here before he goes.

Bonnie brought her laptop up here to the hospital, so I thought I'd do an update. The nurses and clergy at the hospital continue to take good care of us. Love you all.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Dad Update

Mom called us from the hospital Wednesday night a couple of hours after we all got home and said that the nurse suggested she call us, because dad was beggining to pass away.

We all went up there (me, Terry, Stu and Bonnie) and gathered around dad and told him it was okay to go. Eventually, we all found a place to try to get comfortable and rest.

Thursday, dad was still with us, we all spent the night again last night and he's still with us this morning. I've come home to freshen up and go back to the hospital.

I knew everybody was wondering.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Dad Update and Dad Jokes and Dad Joke on Pain Medication

Dad Update
Mom and dad spoke to dad's oncologist this morning and the oncologist told dad that they could either stay in the hospital, go home or be transferred to hospice. Dad told the doctor that after four weeks in the hospital he already felt like he was at home (we've become very fond of the nurses and immensely grateful for all they've done for us) and that going home or to hospice would be too hard on my mom. The decision was made to stay in the hospital.

I know that the thought of staying in the hospital rather than going home might sound like an odd choice. However, my mom and dad, being the funny, sweet, considerate, patient, thoughtful people they are has created a real bond with the nursing staff and we couldn't be more confident and comfortable anywhere else.

Dad had another pretty good day. He was alert in the morning and still either had a joke for each nurse that came in or told her what good work she was doing or how pretty she was.

Dad's infectious disease doctor came in and before he could say anything to dad, dad started telling him that he knew the doctor had done everything he could and that it was his body that had given up. It was evident that the doctor was taken aback, since he had obviously come into the room to comfort dad and all my dad could think of was that he didn't want the doctor to feel like he had failed him...or us.

We had lots of visitors today: dad's brother and sister-in-law, his niece and her family, two of dad's childhood friends and some of the girls from our old neighborhood.

Also today, my grand-fabulous-daughter Ava was much more playful with her paw-paw. We were all very grateful for that. She's been very tentative with him, which has been understandable, but very sad to see. Today was a good day for Ava and her beloved Paw-Paw.

By the time we left tonight, dad was very tired. They have started him on a low dose of medication to relax him and make him comfortable which also makes him sleep more.

Dad Jokes
As I mentioned earlier, dad always has a joke for the nurses. When he went back into ICU last week, mom and Bonnie and Terry and I waited patiently outside his room peeking tensely through the blinds watching the oh-so-serious nurses work on getting dad hooked up to all the big, scary equipment. Suddenly, both nurses busted out laughing. We knew that even at that intense moment, dad was still only interested in making everybody else feel better.

Today, he told us that after the couple of days in ICU when the three blond nurses who had been taking care of him were wheeling him back to the room, he told them, "Now that you're taking me back to the room, I have a blond joke for y'all."

One of the nurses said, "What do you mean 'now' you can tell us? Why didn't you tell us earlier?"

Dad told them, "You think I'm crazy? I'm going to tell three blonds with rusty needles a blond joke while I can't defend myself?"

Dad's Brain on Pain Medication
Out of the blue at one point this afternoon, when it was just the original "Ransonette Family" (mom, dad, Laurie, Terry, Stuart, Bonnie), dad suddenly said, "Why do they have locks on the lockers in the police station?"

Good question dad.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Dad Update

My brother got here today from Arkansas today. That makes us all a little stronger.

Dad is still very much alert and has been moved to a room in the hospital so that we can all be with him all the time. We left him and mom alone tonight. She recently told us that at one point, a couple of months ago when they were at the hospital in Houston and dad was uncharacteristically depressed, she got in the hospital bed with him. They are quite a pair.

The prognosis remains the same. He has too many infections in different parts of his body and they are all fighting against each other. He isn't in pain (or so he says) though we can all tell he is very uncomfortable. The only clinical signs he is currently showing are very low blood pressure, diarrhea and jaundice. He now has a tube for the diarrhea, so that is helping somewhat with his comfort level.

His low blood pressure and his condition is "stable" according to one of his doctors. The next couple of days will dictate the future of his care, whether in the hospital or with hospice.

Tonight, we were all in the room with him (except for my brother's family who will be down from Arkansas later) and it was a typical happy Ransonette time. Dad spoke to each of us privately in very matter-of-fact terms about very practical matters. It's all very surreal.

We all have our moments of weeping and hugging and clinging, but they come at random times and rarely all at the same time. So, there's always someone stronger around to lean on.

My dear friend Janice/Poodles gave us this prayer today:

The light of God surrounds us.
The love of God enfolds us.
The power of God protects us, and
The presence of God watches over us.
Wherever we are, God is.

I've seen...and felt...a lot of God today.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Dad Update

I don't know what to write except that things are not getting better with my dad. Your sweet and inspiring comments are important to all of us. Thank you for being there for us every day.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Dad Update

Dad's blood pressure remains low. He is scheduled for another CT scan to consider reinserting the drain tube to his liver because his bilirubin levels continue to rise.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Dad Update

Dad was put back in ICU today with fever and low blood pressure. The antibiotics are causing severe colitis, but the antibiotics are needed to treat an, as yet, undefined (possibly blood) infection.

The fluids given to him to increase the blood pressure cause other problems and the chemotherapy weakened his system to cause the infection. We're all very tired and confused. We saw lots of doctors today and I have notes somewhere upstairs, but I don't feel like getting them.

Basically, the way it was explained to us is that he has three different problems (lymphoma, pseudomembraneous colitis and low blood pressure) which are all worsened by whatever treatment they use for treating the other problems. That doesn't even count the blood clots and the pneumothorax which were discovered yesterday.

Not good.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Dad Update and a Joke from the Oncologist

Dad Update
Dad's oncologist came in early this morning and told us that dad's blood clots in his lungs should dissolve completely on the medication he is prescribing. Dad also has a small spontaneous pneumothorax (5%) which is air between one of his lungs and his chest cavity. This is probably what is causing his pain and they do not know what caused the pneumothorax. His pain is being effectively managed and he is not in a lot of discomfort. He has had some low blood pressure off and on today, but that is probably a result of the pain medication.

Dad ate well today and has less diarrhea. He also had physical therapy today and his legs are a little stronger. The doctor told us that if he continues to do better, but is not well enough (strong enough) to go home within the next week, he'll be moved to the rehabilitation wing. This will also be a private room and mom will be able to stay with him which is very important to him. He will also get more physical therapy in that wing.

Dad's bilirubin counts are slowly (very slowly) rising, but dad's oncologist isn't concerned because he feels those will improve with his next round of chemotherapy which is about a week away.

Oncologist Joke
Our dad being a professional clown and former master of ceremonies for countless local functions has hundreds of joke books and thousands of jokes in his head for every occasion. I am not lying when I say that not a day has gone by in my life that dad has not, at some point in the day, told a joke. A word or story or piece of furniture can cause a joke to pop into dad's head.

Dad's doctors know this and his oncologist and gastroenterologist usually have a joke ready for dad when they come into the room. Today, dad's oncologist, usually a very somber, serious man, told dad this joke:

"People are worried about the bird flu and swine flu, but they shouldn't worry because doctors have been working very hard and have come up with some new solutions. For bird flu," he said, "people will be given special TWEETments."

My dad moaned,"Ohhhhhh! Nooooo! That's bad."

His doctor said, "It gets worse. For the swine flu, they have invented an OINKment."

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Dad Update

Dad was having some chest pain on his left side today. After doing blood work and an EKG, it was determined he did NOT have a heart attack. However, the CT scan showed a blood clot in each lung. They are giving him blood thinners and medication for the pain. Keep those prayers coming, guys. Just one more hurdle.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Dad Update and a Funny Dad Story

I spent the day with dad today at the hospital and gave mom a well-deserved day off. Her bronchitis is much better today and she took a nap, paid some bills, took herself to lunch and did some shopping.

Dad and I had a good day, too. The doctors are working very hard to get his diarrhea under control and we saw a nutritionist, a physical therapist and a couple of doctors. All were very encouraging and said his lab work was "negative" which is good.

One of the doctors kept repeating to me that "negative" is good, "negative" is good, "negative" is good. I got the feeling he must have trouble getting that concept across to lots of people.

I got dad's permission to share a funny story with you. He said it was okay to share after I told him everybody would be glad to know his sense of humor is coming back. He had a poop accident today and looked at me and said in a very sarcastic voice, "Clean up on Aisle 13."

Good ole dad. Welcome back.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Dad (and mom) update - Part 2

Not much to report today. Dad's diarrhea is improving and so is mom's bronchitis. I'll be staying with dad tomorrow and, hopefully, will be able to convince mom to stay home most of the day.

Yep, nothing much to report. That's always a good thing.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Dad (and mom) Update

Just got back from the hospital. Mom and the nurse were up with dad all night because he still has diarrhea. The other tests show his blood work improving and dad's oncologist isn’t concerned about the slight rise in dad’s bilirubin count. They are still on the quest to get the diarrhea under control.

Dad’s much more coherent than he was yesterday after the Ativan episode (talking in his sleep, thought he was in Houston if they spoke to him right after he woke up). They had given him Ativan to help him sleep because he was coughing and didn't have orders for any type of cough syrup. Seems like they could have given him a Tylenol PM or something rather than making the grand leap to Ativan, but what do I know?

The CT scan they did this morning shows the lymphoma tumor is shrinking. I guess I should have led with that wonderful information, right? We're very happy about that.

Mom left this morning to go home and get some rest. She called me while I was at the hospital to tell me she decided to stop and see her doctor because she's very tired (duh.) and has a slight cough. He told her she has bronchitis. She has to wear a mask when she’s in the room with dad.

Also, her car is acting up so she’s bringing it to Toyota at 1:30 p.m. then going back up to be with dad. That’s all for now.

Hang in there, mom. Everybody is praying for you, too.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Dad Update and More Fast Food Baloney

Dad Update
Dad's feeling very tired. His doctors say it's to be expected at this point in his chemo. His blood levels keep going up and down. None of them are horribly off, but they aren't stable enough for him to go home. Today, he started running a low grade fever, has had some mental confusion due to an Ativan injection he was given to help him sleep and his cough has returned. Here's hoping tomorrow gives us good news all around. He's scheduled for another abdominal scan then.

That's Not What I Ordered
Yesterday I pulled into Jack in the Box and ordered grilled checken tenders and a Tropical Smoothie.

When I got to the window, I noticed a pink NON-tropical smoothie on the ledge. The cashier picked up the pink smoothie, walked to one of the other workers and asked her a question. She came back to the window and handed the very pink to me through the window.

I just looked at it.

She looked at me and honest-to-god said, "It's strawberry."

I said, "I didn't order strawberry."

She said, "We don't have tropical smoothies."

I just stared at her.

She said, "I meant to tell you."

I continued to stare.

She said, I swear to you, she said, "It's strawberry. It's my favorite."

Would somebody please tell me what the f*ck that has to do with not only not telling me that there are no tropical smoothies, but handing me something I didn't even order.

Rather than asking for a refund and ordering a different drink (I was in a hurry), I gave the girl a dirty look, took the strawberry smoothie and drove away.

I hate it when people make me act like a b*tch.

Saturday, September 12, 2009


I've told you about my weird Beatles connections before (click on the "Beatles" label below), and here is another mini story.

I ordered "The Beatles Rockband" from Amazon when I ordered some other stuff a few weeks ago. So, I couldn't just run out to Best Buy and buy my copy 9/9/09. I had to wait.

I've been tracking my package since Wednesday and my son and daughter-in-law were hoping it would be in today, so we can have a Beatles night this evening after I sit with dad this afternoon. Since the game hadn't arrived as of Friday, I told them I would come home after going to the hospital to check my mail, again, before going to their house.

About ten minutes ago, I thought, "I'm going check the mailbox, just in case." Number one, it was raining, but that didn't stop me from walking to the mailboxes which are at the end of my block and number two, the mail doesn't usually come this early.

When I got toward the end of my block, lo and behold the mail truck was parked at the mailboxes. And inside, hot off the mail truck...

(Please ignore the zit in the middle of my forehead.)

Friday, September 11, 2009

Dad Update and a Disease Map Just for You

Dad Update

Dad's still doing good and one of his nurses is helping him exercise more and had some good suggestions for mom for exercising him between the physical therapy visits. We're still not sure when mom and dad get to go home, because they want him to be strong enough for us to handle him and want to be sure he's still healthy after the infection he had and the round of chemo he just finished.

A Disease Map Just for You

Click here for a map guaranteed to make you lose sleep. It's the delightful "Global Disease Map." If I can't sleep, nobody sleeps.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Dad Update

Dad Update
Dad's scan from yesterday showed an abdomen full of gas. In all the years that dad has been my dad...and that's all of my years...I never thought I'd be happy to hear he has gas. Dad's oncologist is going to get with dad's gastroenterologist to see what they can do about that and about some other issues that I promised dad I wouldn't mention on the blog. Use your imagination. Actually, don't use your imagination. Think flowers and puppies and rainbows. That's better.

Also, they will be giving dad yet another transfusion today to build up his blood and the oncologist was disappointed that the physical therapist hasn't been seeing dad more often. That is one of dad's biggest complaints, too. So, hopefully, dad will be getting more active soon.

Still no word on when they might be going home.

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

Dad Update and Just One of Those Days and Retrogrades

Dad Update
Dad's still very tired. They spoke to the hospital rep today about dad possibly going to the rehab floor several times a day. Dad's oncologist has scheduled another transfusion for tomorrow and did another CT scan of his abdomen today. I'll let you know the results tomorrow.

Just One of Those Days
Wendy's, if you aren't going to serve baked potatoes, take down the huge pictures of baked potatoes plastered all over your building. Or, at least put a big red X through the baked potato portion of your $1 menu.

While I'm on the subject of fast food restaurants running out of items, how does a fried chicken joint run out of fried chicken? This has happened to me several times at both Church's and Kentucky Fried Chicken.

When I got back to the office, without my Wendy's baked potato, I had to eat my chicken nuggets and salad in the car, because it was raining so hard. Since I thought I was going to be eating in the kitchen at work, I didn't buy a drink, so I ate my lunch in the car, in the rain, without anything to drink.

When I called my favorite Chinese restaurant to order supper for mom and dad, a lady picked up the phone and began speaking Chinese to somebody. I kept saying, "Hello? Hello?" Finally, somebody took the phone from her and asked if they could help me. I told him I wanted to place an order to go and he said, "Okay." It was the saddest, most tired "okay" I think I've ever heard. I felt kind of bad forcing the poor dude to take my order.

The icing on the cake to this fan-f*cking-tastic day was when I was told by four different people at American Home Shield that "porcelain does not crack on its own." In other words, I had done something to my downstairs toilet to make it crack. It was not "normal wear and tear" and my home warranty would, therefore, not pay to replace the cracked tank. I could not convince one of those people that the toilet did, in fact, crack on its own. Maybe I hit it with a baseball bat, or stood on it or slammed the tank top down (as suggested by one of the f*ckwads I spoke to today) in my sleep, but I swear I have no recollection of that.

Several times a year an astrology phenomenon occurs called the "Mercury Retrograde." This is one description: "Mercury retrograde gives rise to personal misunderstandings; flawed, disrupted, or delayed communications, negotiations and trade; glitches and breakdowns with phones, computers, cars, buses, and trains. And all of these problems usually arise because some crucial piece of information, or component, has gone astray or awry."

Every time the planets go into this particular configuration, bullsh*t like the things that happened to me today happens. Nothing major like the events of the past two months, just annoying, irritating, aggravating crap.

I hate retrogrades.

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Dad, Cracked Crappers and a Stray Dog

Dad Update
Dad's making steady improvement. He requested a Checker's hot dog for supper which I gladly provided. Hopefully, we're still on a path for him to go home sometime this week.

Cracked Crapper
My toilet tank in my downstairs bathroom is cracked. The good news is that it didn't crack completely and flood my downstairs. The other good news is that I have a home warranty, so it'll only cost $60 to get it fixed.

The bad news is that I have a home warranty, so the process to get anything done is a little more complicated than not having a home warranty. However, I had the guy who came out today to check out the cracked crapper shut the water off to the toilet so that even if the tank cracks completely, I won't have water everywhere.

Stray Dog
When I was going back to work after meeting with the plumber, I saw a stray dog wandering down Calder Avenue a few blocks from my house. There's a leash law in Beaumont, so when a dog is out wandering around it means that somebody is missing a dog.

The unusual thing about this particular dog was that it was in complete compliance with the still had its leash around its neck. He also looked perfectly happy to be out and about without whoever was supposed to be on the other end of the leash. He had a big silly dog grin on his face as he trotted down the street.

I considered turning around to see if he would get in my car so I could check his tags or something, but then I decided that if I picked him up, I might interfere with whatever dog plan he had and really get him confused and lost.

Godspeed, Mr. Doggy. I hope you found whatever you were looking for.

Monday, September 07, 2009

Dad Update and Laurie Helps People in the Parking Lot...Again...Maybe

Dad Update
Dad is still doing good. Today being a holiday, he didn't see his primary oncologist and hasn't seen a physical therapist since Friday. However, the oncologist and the infectious disease doctor on call told mom that dad's numbers continue to improve and we're still hopeful dad will go home sometime this week.

Laurie Helps People in the Parking Lot...Again...Maybe
As I was walking up to the front door of the hospital today, I noticed a young couple leaving the hospital. They had walked past me toward the parking lot when I heard the guy call me. I turned around and he said that his step-son had been injured in a bicycle accident and had just been life flighted to Houston. He said that the life flight team wouldn't let the boy's mother (the guy's wife) ride on the helicopter with the boy and that they had no money for gas to drive to Houston where the boy was being taken.

I tried to process all of this and decided to err on the side of a possibly seriously injured little boy and gave the couple $10. I hope there isn't an injured child and that I gave a couple of con artists $10. I'd rather be a sucker than think of a poor scared little boy on a helicopter without his mom.

Sunday, September 06, 2009

Dad Update

Today was the first day that a doctor said the magic words "send you home." Although this is a wonderful thing, when someone has been in and out of hospitals for two months, the thought of going home is a little bit scary.

All of dad's tests continue to improve and he's gradually getting stronger and hopes to knock the physical therapists "through that wall" the next time they come in.

Saturday, September 05, 2009

Dad Update and Happy Birthday to Me!

Dad Update
Dad is doing the same, which is a good thing. He has some bowel issues (I promised him I wouldn't mention that, but...oh well) that hit him about 24 hours after he takes his chemo that comes in pill form and still has a lot of fluid in his legs and feet. Both should start clearing up with more mobility and medication. He still has a great appetite and is in good spirits.

Happy Birthday to Me
I'm 54 years old today. I'm at that age (and have been for several years) where I don't really know my age until I stop and do the math. I quit counting at 49 years old and decided to start going backward. So, actually, I'm only 44 now! Yay, me!

My birthday message to you is full of cliches and blah, blah, blah. However, after losing my cousin this week and my dad being so sick last week, you're going to get it anyway. Here it is...

Every single fun, mundane, stupid, bad, good, eventful and non-eventful moment in your life is important. Pay attention. You never know which moment will suddenly pop into your brain years later with a significance you never imagined.

We all know that the weddings and baby births are magical, but so is waiting for your kids to get in the car after school, washing clothes and pulling weeds. Going to WalMart with a friend to pick up more snacks because you ran out in the middle of the party can be a cosmic experience on many levels.

Road trips. Ah, road trips. Whether they be with family or friends or people you don't even like, there's just something about being in a car that lends itself to bonding and conversation and even aggravation. But, it's important.

It's all important.

Friday, September 04, 2009

Dad Update

Since we're only on day three of dad's chemo, dad's oncologist says it's way too soon to tell if the cancer is shrinking. HOWEVER, he says that all of his blood counts are good and that, by the way things are "flowing" now (meaning bile, etc.), it appears that everything is moving in the right direction.

Keep those happy thoughts and prayers coming our way...not that I have to tell YOU that. You guys are prayer machines.

Nordstrom Shoe Clearance

I just had a pop-up ad on Facebook advertising a shoe clearance sale at Nordstrom's. This is the shoe from ad. Somehow, I'm not surprised it's on the clearance rack.

Thursday, September 03, 2009

My favorite story about my cousin Alan - Originally Posted 5/1/05

Our cousin Alan passed away Tuesday. This is a blog post I did four years ago which is my favorite Alan story...

Saturday night we celebrated my Aunt Gladys' birthday with a big dinner party at Sanderson's in Nederland. The food was great and, if you're ever in the area, you should give it a try.In honor of Aunt Gladys, I would like to tell you a story about how she and my mom almost drove into the canal in Port Arthur with all of us kids in the car. Just your typical Southeast Texas Saturday afternoon.

Port Arthur, Texas, where we grew up, has a man-made island called Pleasure Island which was formed when the canals were dredged to build a seawall. At one time, the island had a ballroom and swimming pools and a carnival but by the mid-sixties, it was just another place to go crabbing.

Crabbing for my family involved my mom and two of her sisters taking eight kids, ranging in age from 2 to 12, either to the slippery seawall or to a muddy riverbank with string, raw chicken necks, a couple of nets and a couple of ice chests at daybreak. You'll notice that I didn't mention life jackets. Somehow, (no doubt by the grace of some very busy guardian angels) we survived.

By noon, we would be finished crabbing and we would all go to my grandpa's house where we would boil the several dozen crabs we had caught and sit outside and eat them. Good times.

On the day of our adventure, my mom was driving and Aunt Gladys was in the front seat. My cousin Alan was sitting on Aunt Gladys' lap and my little sister Bonnie was probably sitting in the middle in the front. In the backseat were me, my sister Terry, my brother Stuart and my other cousin David. This passel of children ranged in age from around 2 to 12 with me being the oldest. Alan was about 3 years old.

When we got to the intersection on the island where we would ordinarily turn left to go home, my mom noticed other people going right. We had never taken the right turn before and for some reason on this particular day, my mom and my aunt decided it would be a good day to see what was on the other side of the island. Mom took a right and followed the two other cars thinking the road would loop around to the other side of the island and eventually take us back to the bridge which would take us back to the Port Arthur mainland.

As we drove deeper and deeper into the marsh, we kids began to get scared. The usual cacophony of, "he farted" or "he's looking at me" or "you stink" was replaced with the more quiet, "where are we" and "the road is too skinny" and "Mom, where are we going?"Mom and Aunt Gladys tried to keep things upbeat but we could tell things weren't going well as they quietly discussed how the road appeared to be eroding as we drove on it which we kids had already noticed. If we looked out of the window on the passenger side, it seemed we were looking straight down into the canal.

To make matters worse, one of the younger kids made a poopy in his pants and it was a big stinky one. Alan started crying and we all told him to think happy thoughts.When he kept crying, Aunt Gladys told him, "Alan, think of Mickey Mouse."

Alan said, "Okay."

When he kept crying, my aunt said, "Alan, are you still thinking of Mickey Mouse?"

He said, "Yes."

She said, "Then why are you still crying."

Alan said, "Because, I'm thinking of Mickey Mouse being killed."

In my twisted family, this of course caused hysterical laughter. Since we were only driving about 5 miles per hour, my mom stopped the car, got out and ran up to the total strangers in front of us. She told them she wasn't driving one foot more and would he drive the car past the narrow patch of road which he did.

Just another day in paradise.

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

Dad Update and I am the Guardian Angel of Parking Garages

Dad Update
I stayed with dad today (and will tomorrow) so my mom can be with her sister (our Aunt Gladys) at our cousin Alan's funeral.

It was a pretty uneventful day, which is a fabulous thing in Hospital World. Dad's test results continue to improve and he still feels fine from his chemo yesterday and is eating well.

Funniest quote of the day is from dad: "Oops. I made a fraudulent slip." He meant to say "Freudian slip." Pretty funny.

Yes, I am STILL a Nice Person
A few weeks ago, I helped an elderly man find his way to his doctor's office after I left the hospital from visiting dad. (Read about it here.) Today, I couldn't find a parking place anywhere and, as I drove around the parking garage, I noticed a lady who obviously couldn't find her car.

Parking garages confuse me, so it took me a while to circle around and find her again. When I did, I asked her if I could do anything. She said, "My husband is having a heart attack and I don't remember where I parked my car."

I said, "Get in my car and I'll drive you around until we find it."

As she reached for my car door handle, she looked over the top of my car and her face filled with relief. "There it is," she said. "Thank you."

I am the guardian angel of parking garages. Who knew?

Tuesday, September 01, 2009

Dad Update and Link to Alan's Online Obituary

Dad Update
Dad had his first chemo treatment this afternoon and he did well. Now, we keep an eye on his "counts." Not sure how soon it'll be before he can go home. He's still weak, but getting stronger every day.

Alan Hebert Obituary
Click here to view information on our cousin Alan's services and sign the guestbook for his family.

Dad Update

While I was in a meeting, mom called and left a message that they are going to start dad's chemo today. She said, “So, that’s good noise…good sound…good message.” We’re all a bit delirious.

Our Sweet Cousin Alan

We just got the call that our sweet cousin Alan passed away last night. He was 47 years old and had been battling lung cancer for the past year. His mom and my mom are sisters.
Please pray for strength for all of us, especially his wife and mom and dad and brother and sister and children and new grandbaby.