Thirteen Crows

"I'm not dead. (Yes he is.) I'm getting better. (No you're not. You'll be stone dead in a moment.) I think I'll go for a walk. (You're not fooling anyone you know.) I feel happy. I feel happy. (Whack.)"

Sunday Dinner

First of all, “Dinner” is the Noon meal on the farm. Breakfast. Dinner. Supper. Keep that in mind.

Mom seemed to work a lot of Sundays—probably only two or three per month, but it seemed like a lot. I know she traded a lot of holidays with nurses who had young families. I was being cared for by older sibs so I guess I didn’t notice. It was just the way things were.

I’m not sure when Mom prepped the Sunday roast, but I assume because of food safety, is was early on Sunday morning before she left for work. She’d put a roast in a roaster pan with a lid and put it in the oven.

In the morning, one of my sisters would turn the oven on so the roast would be done in time for dinner. She’d boil peeled whole potatoes and depending on the season, thaw frozen corn from the previous summer. Everyone would simply take a whole boiled potato or two and mash them up individually. There were always whole potatoes left over.

That evening we’d have supper at 6:00 PM SHARP, because “60 Minutes” would be starting.

“Shhhhhh! Can’t you see ‘60 Minutes’ is on!”

One of the best things at supper were the fried skillet potatoes. A little saved bacon fat from the metal container next to the mixer was put into the skillet with quarters or eights of the leftover potatoes. Of course there was leftover roast and corn. The potatoes, though! OH, GOD THAT WAS GOOD EATIN’!

The Daybed

Before I was born my parents squeezed seven kids into two bedrooms. There was the Boys’ room with two or three and the Girls’ Room with two double beds and four girls. When I was born we became eight, much to the dismay of the former baby of the family! I certain she plotted to kill me.

The birth order was boy, boy, girl, girl, girl, boy, girl…boy. Eighteen years separate us and nine years separate 1–7. I restored balance to the Force and Galaxy.

Sometime later, Dad finished two bedrooms in the back of the basement for the oldest two boys. I think the #3 son was put in a daybed kind of thing in the “Den”, which was really a guest bedroom/sewing room. TINY. The girls were split into two rooms as the older ones became teens.

Then, I was born—nine years after my closest sibling. My oldest sibling was days away from turning 18. My parents were 42.

My crib was put into the Den. Once I outgrew the crib I was put in the daybed with my closest brother. We shared that bed and later a double bed in a real bedroom until he went to college. (I pity him, now.) We watched a lot of MASH reruns, “Planet of the Apes” movies and a little Carson once he cobbled up a black and white TV with poor vertical hold.

This weekend while searching the linen closet for a blanket, I found my old pillow from the daybed days. I’d forgotten all about it, but the “sham” fabric is the same as the daybed cushions and comforter. The small feather pillow has my name on it in Magic Marker.

It is strange how little triggers bring back a flood of memories. Certain smells, foods, commercials and forgotten objects really do a number on me. It is like a window shade has been raised for just a moment and you get to see a scene or experience a feeling from your youth. Now, if they were always GOOD memories and not the EMBARRASSING ones from adolescence!

Ninety Days

It has been over 90 days since my liver transplant on June 4. My three month checkups with the surgery team and my hepatologist are tomorrow morning.

The pace of my recovery has been frustrating. It feels like I’ve had setback after setback and am behind “schedule”. I know I was in the hospital longer than most and I had to be re-admitted three times for different complications. I think that is all behind me now.

What I didn’t understand was how much muscle I’d lost with the liver disease. When the liver is failing it robs your body of protein and muscle. My post transplant coordinator keeps reminding me that it took months to get in this weakened condition. It will take months of work to rebuild the muscle, energy and stamina.

I don’t want to be patient and have to exercise. I want to be “normal” NOW!

It took months of wasting away to get this weak. I want to be well and “normal” NOW! I’ve been told repeatedly that it will take weeks and months of time, and significant work on my part to get back to where I was. I’m impatient. I want to start living the second half of my life NOW. No more waiting!

We Never Had Training Wheels

Growing up in a large family not everyone got to have their own bicycle. Many of my sibs had to share. Since I was the youngest by nine years, I did get my own bike—picked up for $7 at a farm auction. I fell off that bike a hundred times, skinning knees, elbows and hands. Learning to ride on gravel roads is brutal on the body.

We never had training wheels.

Dad and Mom gave us a lot of latitude and freedom to screw up. There were expectations we’d better comply with, such as feeding our 4-H calves, getting good grades and working on the farm (boys) or in the house (girls).

It seemed stifling at the time, but they didn’t micromanage homework or push us into activities we’d grow to hate. If there was a school or summer activity we wanted to try, we were encouraged to do it, but it couldn’t interfere with our chores or the farm work. As a result, there were blocks of unstructured free time where they simply expected us to not embarrass them or do something that required them to get involved.

My sibs and I are as different as any random group of eight personalities can be. Things we share, attrituble to our parents, are drive, work ethic, sense of humor, an Irish-German temper and opportunity. We were given the opportunity to get a college education and become whatever we wanted to be. There were no expectations to become a doctor, lawyer, nurse or farmer. We were given ample opportunity to succeed—and to fail.

We never had training wheels.

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