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ambulance chasing

June 26, 2015 was an important day for Stevie Wonder. Due for the first checkup since nearly dying in April when his pacemaker had to be replaced after an epic failure to pace his heart (read about it here), he was understandably nervous because he had developed atrial fibrillation after the new pacemaker was placed in his chest.  His recovery from the second surgery was a bit rough compared to the first time.  I tried to reassure him that he was doing ok, and just had to give himself time to heal.  He was a bit whiny about the whole thing in my opinion, but I think that was because my patience was thin from dealing with my own breast cancer and surgery, which was taking place almost simultaneously to what Steve was enduring.

The twins were staying with us for a few days, so they went with us to the clinic. We were going to wait for Gramps to get all his tests finished, then go eat a late breakfast. We left at the crack of dawn for an hour long drive to the clinic. Duncan used the seat belt as a hammock for his head so he could sleep.

Duncan in a head sling

As we walked into the clinic (it was attached to the main hospital), I was explaining to Maddie what an echocardiogram was and the way I watched Gramps heart beating on the monitor when he was in ICU, before his pacemaker was put in. Her response to what I felt was a brilliant description was: “Disgusting!”.

the long wait

 As we sat waiting, we talked, and I played a few games of checkers with the kids. Time passed…one hour, then two. As we began our third hour of waiting the kids were about to mutiny from hunger and thirst.  So I took them to another part of the clinic to get some juice and a snack.  As I was digging money out of my purse to buy juice for the kids, Maddie (who was standing near the hall) uttered the fateful words: “There goes Gramps”.

I figured she meant he had walked past and was headed to the waiting room looking for us.  I said as much, and that was when she lowered the boom: “No, he wasn’t walking, he was on one of those rolling tables.”

“WHAT?” I said.
“He was on a rolling table Grammy.”
At this point I looked a little panicky because I was caught between putting a $1 bill in a machine for a snack for Maddie, and taking off after the gurney. Maddie made my mind up quickly when she said: “I don’t need a snack Grammy!”
So we took off down the hall. The hall took several turns, like a snake. Maddie had run ahead to scout Steve’s location as I brought the rear up with a still sluggish Duncan. She would get to one turn, I would shout at her “CAN YOU SEE HIM?”, she would shout back “YES I CAN”, and then we would advance to the next bend in the hall.

In my mind the whole time was that SW had collapsed during the stress test, and they had come looking for me to tell me they were transporting him to wherever they needed to go to fix him, and couldn’t find me because I WAS BUYING EFFING SNACKS FOR STARVING GRANDKIDS.

After what felt like a mile of scouting, reporting and running, I ran out of steam as I made it to the last bend and saw the end of the gurney and a nurse waaaaaaaaaaaay down the hall just going out of sight. I decided we would go back to the waiting room and wait until someone found us and told us the bad news.

So we sat there, they split Duncan’s honeybun and drank their juice and I fidgeted like I had ants in my pants. About an hour later, Steve walked in the door of the waiting room.

bubba gramps

WALKED.  I jumped up and almost shouted at him “ARE YOU ALL RIGHT?”
He looked at me like I had lost my mind and said “yes”.
I said “did you go by on a gurney about an hour ago?”
“No” he said.

Then it hit me.

I had been chasing a stranger down the halls of the hospital. I asked Maddie how she knew it was Gramps on the gurney. She said: “because he had white hair and was wearing a mask like Gramps does when he is sleeping.”  Steve saw my face and knew something was up, so I had no choice but to tell him what had happened.

He started laughing.

He was still laughing 4 hours later every time someone called to check on him and he got to tell the story again.

an anticlimactic end to the morning, at Waffle House

I thought I had finally lived it down until Steve said a few hours later:

I would have loved to see what happened if you’d caught that gurney and saw you’d been chasing a stranger down the hall.

Steam started coming out of my ears at this point.

I am now the victim of another Steve story, which grows with “embellishments” every time he tells it.

…life is like chasing gurneys, you never know where you are going or what lies ahead. ~cath
i am @jonesbabie on twitter


slapping john

John has been sick.  He is the youngest grandson, a 4 year old trying to mix in with the world of his 9 year old cousins.  They don’t always have patience with him, and being the youngest, he gets shoved aside sometimes when they are tired of him.

John had a flush on his face yesterday, cheeks so red that his mom took him to the doctor.  The red cheeks were caused by Fifth disease, also known as Slap disease, for the obvious reasons.

Gramps walked into the living room later that day and saw the three oldest sitting quietly on the couch, watching television.  He threw his hands on his hips and said in the booming voice he uses when he means no nonsense:

“John has Slap disease.  I want to know… who’s been slapping John?!”

He said all three of their mouths dropped open in shock, like baby birds in a nest, as they loudly started protesting their innocence.

He was doubled over in laughter, telling me about it.

Sometimes, Gramps can be as evil as Grammy is.

…life is good. ~cath
find me @jonesbabie on Twitter


gramps and the scouts

For the past few years the twins have invited their Gramps to school on Veteran’s Day.  He was in the Air Force, and Duncan and Maddie enjoyed Gramps being there when the Veterans are honored.  Last year and this year too they turned his name in, and the school made some kind of little certificate or something, and announced the name of the veteran or serviceman being honored.  The twins also have a half brother in the Air Force who just moved from his station in England to Arizona.  Last year Steve had to go up and get the certificate.  This year something different happened.

With all the hullabaloo going on in their lives (soccer, Jen’s work and surgery, daily routine and weekend running around), Jen forgot to fill out the paper for Ian and Steve so the kids could turn it in by the deadline.  She filled it out, and let the kids turn it in Monday (it was due last Friday), and they did, just in the nick of time.  She told me about it when we got our nails done, and said she hoped Steve would come and I said I was sure he would.

Then 2 things happened.  Jen and I both forgot to mention it to Steve.  And I also forgot that I had made an appointment (years overdue) for Steve to have his eyes examined on the same day the program was happening.

None of this sounds too terribly upsetting or important in the scheme of things.  Except for one thing.

A little boy named Duncan would be wearing his Boy Scout uniform that day and marching in to the auditorium with his troop, with the US flag.

Duncan was counting on his Gramps to be there.

Early that morning Jen realized the fiasco and called to see if Gramps could make it.  Steve told her probably not because he had the eye appointment in Jasper, and just wasn’t sure if he would be able to get from Jasper to Birmingham in time to see the program.  I heard Steve’s end of the conversation and started my evil plotting.

When he got off the phone, I played the grandkid card.  How Dunc would be so disappointed (true) if he didn’t get to see his Gramps honored (laid it on a little thick there).  Steve whined and hemmed and hawed, and said if they dilated his eyes he wouldn’t be able to see to drive (true).  I told him there was no reason he couldn’t tell them not to dilate his eyes this time (true) and he really, REALLY needed to try to go. Appointment was at 8:30AM and program was at 1PM.

Jen sent me a text at about 11:31 to tell me how guilty she felt to tell Dunc Gramps wouldn’t be able to make it, and that she hated that she had to work and wouldn’t be able to go.  I knew different though, because at 11:27 Gramps had called to say he was on his way to see the kids’ program.  WITH HIS EYES DILATED AND DRIVING BLIND AS A BAT.

So when Jen sent me that text, I replied to tell her that “Gramps is going, and is on his way.”  By the time she got my text, she had already decided to go to the program herself, so Dunc would have some family there.

Jen called Steve and told him she was taking the rest of the day off, and that Michael (her fiance) was going with her.

So not only did Dunc have Gramps there, he had his mommy and future step-father there too.

The end result: a happy, proud little boy.  And Maddie, who was in her Brownie uniform, got to also march in with the flag.  Score, score, for everyone.

Maddie, Gramps and a proud Dunc

The only one missing was me.  But I was at work, thinking about what a wonderful family I have, and how we always take care of each other.  Thinking about how much I love my grandkids.  And love their mommy who will go to almost any length to keep them from being disappointed.

And how I love the Gramps that will drive 64 miles one way, blind as a bat, to prevent a little boy from being disappointed.

…life is truly good. ~cath 
find me @jonesbabie on Twitter

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you CAN have your cake and eat it too

Today is Stevie Wonder’s birthday.  We don’t normally make a big deal out of birthdays, and never really have.  Well except for the Wilton Cake Decorating Course I took at home when the kids were little.  And all that really meant was that they didn’t have a whole lot of say about the type of cake they got, because it was whatever I was practicing at the time (poor Jim got a cake that looked like someone had puked a bouquet of flowers all over it because I was learning how to make flowers).  We make sure there is still cake (that I DO NOT decorate) and make contact with the person on their birthday to send them wishes and love.

So yesterday Steve got an ice cream cake created at the Dairy Queen and served up by Jen after the kids’ soccer games were over and we were back at her house.  Steve is the kind of Gramps that believes in equality between the grand kids, so he bought a birthday cake at Wal Mart today and brought it home. So Jack and John could have cake of course….

Except that I know the truth…we couldn’t bring that other cake home from Jen’s like she wanted us to (it would have been a puddle in the back seat before we got here), and it’s been burning a hole in Steve’s brain since we left her house.  And today is the OFFICIAL day after all.  Stevie Wonder is 66.  So he will have cake to eat after all…which is what he really wanted…after all. 😀

I am thankful that back in February, when his heart rate was 27, Steve got a pacemaker and a new lease on life, and the chance to spend many more birthdays with us.

I am thankful for our years together, our children and grandchildren, and the love we all share.

I am thankful Steve wears bifocals.  (So that when he told me to toss him the remote today, arrogantly telling me that he was the only one who could correctly fast forward past the commercials, I was fortunate enough to see him miss an easy catch and watch it hit his crotch and double him over groaning for a few minutes.)  He blamed the bifocals of course.

The laugh I had that lasted way too long, was MY cake for the day.

Wretch and Steve at Point Arena Lighthouse, California 

…life is good. ~cath
find me @jonesbabie on Twitter



I was in another room today and heard this conversation between Jack and Gramps.  There was no way I was going to add my two cents worth to this particular chat between my guys.

Gramps: If I’d known you were here today you could have gone down to Vernon with me Jack.
Jack: What’s Vernon?
Gramps: That’s where Mr. Bud and I hunt.  I saw lots of turkey struts today.
Jack: Turkey struts?
Gramps: Yep, you know this time of year turkeys start strutting.  They fluff up and drag their wings on the ground.
Jack: They do?
Gramps: Yep, they fluff up and drag their wings for the lady turkeys.

I was holding my breath, knowing where this was probably going to lead.  Animal husbandry 101.  Silence.  Jack said nothing.

Then I remembered Jack was just 8 in December.  I figure we have another year before the conversation progresses to the mating habits of animals.

I let my breath out slowly.  Safe.  For now.

…life is good. ~cath
find me @jonesbabie on Twitter