Monday, July 12, 2010
Things came to a head on a bitterly cold Sunday morning. I awoke at 3:15 AM with a throbbing headache and headed out into the 7-degree cold to throw my paper route. Strangely, the longer I was out, the better I felt, and by 5 or so, my headache was gone. But it had been a tough morning. I remember wrapping a paper with a rubber band...which popped in the frigidness and made my hand bleed. But around 5:30 or so, I managed to finish the route and head home. As I approached our house, I was amazed to see a car belonging to my aunt and uncle in the driveway and all the lights in our house burning.
Here is what had happened. Both parents had intense headaches during the night, such that Mom finally convinced Dad to get up and call an ambulance. Dad never made it to the phone and collapsed on the living room floor. Mom got up, stepped over Dad, grabbed the phone and called her sister, Pearl. In retrospect, she should have called for an ambulance, but I'm sure her brains were scrambled at that point. Mom told Pearl to get over ASAP, then she collapsed.
Pearl and Raymond arrived to bizarre scene of my folks sprawled unconscious on the floor and quickly summoned an ambulance. Mom, Dad, and my younger brother and sister were all taken to St. Paul Hospital, and minutes later, I rolled up with a quizzical look on my face. Here's what had happened. Our source of heat in the house was a floor furnace. Just prior to all this sickness, our house had shifted and, unbeknownst to us, disrupted the gas line feeding the furnace in some way. The silent killer, carbon monoxide, had been seeping through the house for at least a week. That explains why we all seemed to improve when we left the house during this time.
I drove to St. Paul and saw my family. I don't know what was given them by the doctors, but all were doing much better. If fact, it seems that I was able to bring everyone except my dad home. I went on to church, where it was announced that the Perkins family would need electric space heaters to get us through the next few days. The wonderful folks responded beautifully and we were able to stay in the house until the floor furnace was repaired.
It's frightening to think what might have happened had Mom not made it to the phone. Here's why. If she had collapsed before calling Pearl, I would not have seen them in the floor when I got home. My custom was to park the car, go around to the back of the house and let myself in a back door to the kitchen, then head immediately upstairs to my bedroom for an hour or so of shut-eye. That might have been enough time for the deadly, almost undetectable gas to finish off my parents and my siblings. We were very blessed that morning. And it wasn't the first nor the last time my mom's strength of will saved the day for our family.
Sunday, July 11, 2010
Tuesday, July 06, 2010
Wednesday, June 23, 2010
I'm driving a school bus for them this month, but it's not your typical summer school. It's a program called, "Each One Reach One", and the girls who participate volunteer to do so. Basically, it introduces them to the world of serving others. Here, for example, is this week's schedule:
Monday: Visited the Scottish Rite Hospital to learn about that great institution.
Tuesday: Visited Vogel Alcove, close by downtown Dallas, to become acquainted with this amazing place, a shelter for homeless children. They spent the bulk of their time there playing with these unfortunate kids.
Wednesday: Today, I dropped them off at the Dallas Farmers' Market, where they shopped for veggies. Then I took them to a residence where the veggies were transformed into a meal for 15-20. We then loaded up the food on the bus and I took them to the Preston Rd. Church of Christ, where the girls fed the women involved in a program called, "New Friends, New Lives". This program targets women who have been "rescued" from the sex industry, either as prostitutes or strippers, and are being given a new chance at being moral and productive in society.
Tomorrow: The girls will work on a "Habitat for Humanity" home.
Friday: The girls will visit a homeless shelter, learn how it operates, and give some of their time to helping out.
The day that we visited the Vogel Alcove, I asked one of the girls how she liked the experience. Her response: "This is where I want to volunteer when I'm an adult."
A remarkable school giving great kids life-changing experiences.
Friday, June 11, 2010
Sunday, May 30, 2010
So I hope this Memorial Day that those who've never paused to grasp how this great country has managed to stay free will be struck by the sacrifices of those who've gone before us. And that they'll resolve to honor and revere the sacrifices made by our veterans, even by those who never fired a bullet at an enemy but made certain a sweetheart's letter was delivered to a homesick guy on the front line.
Thursday, May 20, 2010
Wednesday, May 05, 2010
Tuesday, April 20, 2010
Tuesday, April 13, 2010
Now there's this. In a desperate effort to try and derail a groundswell of conservative sentiment, liberals have launched a website which recruits folks for the purpose of infiltrating the tea party movement. Once inside, these fine people will try to give the entire movement a bad name by making racist posters and signs, misspelling words on such posters and signs, and generally acting like rabble-rousers. This is typical of the Chicago-style politics of which Obama is so keen. Pretty much anything goes when your opponent has the upper hand.
And upper hand it is. Obama's popularity is at an all-time low (Gallup). Most want the health-care mess repealed. Democratic politicians around the country are trailing potential Republican candidates by double-digits. So it's time for them to trot out the really ugly tactics. It's all so predictable. As long as you can call folks racists and homophobes, you stand a chance.
So don't be aghast if you see someone holding a sign claiming Obama is Hitler (or maybe "Obamma is Hilter"). It's just business as usual for the party-crashers.
Tuesday, April 06, 2010
Saturday, April 03, 2010
A week ago, I lost a brother-in-law. Ralph was a consummate gentleman, a man of God who oozed integrity. These days, it's increasingly hard to find guys who qualify for words like "gentleman" or "integrity". He was the type of friend who would do anything for you and you didn't necessarily have to ask. Last year, even when his health was obviously limiting his activities, he repeatedly offered to come help me clean out and organize my garage. The point is not that he wouldn't have been able to help much...it's that he still wanted to be a buddy even in his condition.
I couldn't get Ralph to ever say anything bad about anyone. He simply considered others better than himself and refused to be drawn into discussions that included put-downs or gossip. Very simply, he was a better man than I. This in spite of the fact that I nearly cut his hand off many years ago. We were using a chain saw to cut down a large tree in our in-laws' yard. We were almost finished, but I was trying to cut a large piece into smaller pieces and Ralph's hand drifted a little too close. The saw kicked upward and nailed one of his thumbs. The thumbnail was almost completely severed and there were other slices all around the nail. The rest of his life, Ralph carried around maybe the ugliest thumb I've ever seen. And, he refused to blame me, saying it was all his fault. Yeah, right.
Four days after Ralph died, our 7th grandchild entered this world. Julia Kate Hall arrived, the 2nd daughter of our only daughter. Most Perkins babies are bald and stay that way for months. This kid has enough hair to wear curlers today. And she is drop-dead gorgeous. Now we know that everyone tells new parents that their baby is beautiful. Even if the kid looks like Joe Biden. But as an impartial (ahem) bystander, I sense that visitors are truly blown away by this kid's looks. In today's parlance, she is smokin' hot. She's already been asked out by two boy babies in the newborn nursery. I'm gonna have to start screening her boyfriends immediately.
So we said good-bye to Ralph, hello to Julia. But it's all good news. Ralph has been freed from a worn-out physical body and been given a new eternal one. We will see him again. Julia arrived less than 24 hours after we gathered around Ralph one last time. Transition. Nothing stays the same, nothing is stagnant. Every day, we are 24 hours closer to our reward. This week served as a poignant reminder to seize the day, live wisely, serve others, and enjoy every minute given us for what it is...a gift from God.
Friday, March 26, 2010
Sunday, March 21, 2010
Tuesday, March 16, 2010
Saturday, March 13, 2010
Three years ago, on this exact Saturday, I had an all-day field trip to Lone Oak, Texas. It was a lucrative one - picked up the group at 6 AM and wouldn't return until 8 PM or so. I got them there okay but there was a problem. I had been assigned a newer school bus, a strange, unfamiliar beast...and I couldn't get the heater that keeps the driver warm to work. The passengers were toasty but I was a shivering idiot by the time we arrived.
Short story long, I felt the first pangs of illness around noon, and by sunset, I was a mess: feverish, alternating burning up and shivering, weak as a Nancy Pelosi explanation. I should have called dispatch and begged off, but like any male, I wanted to fight through it. All the way home, I had the overpowering urge to sleep...not a good thing when you're behind the wheel. We were returning to Dallas on I-30, and at one point, I passed the exit to FM 549 - the exit I take to get to our house. It killed me to know that instead of being home in 10 minutes, I had another 30 miles to go to get these kids home and another 30 miles back to FM 549 and a chance to go to bed. I eventually made it and spent the next 5 days in bed with the flu.
Last year, my sons and I decided to head to Arizona during Spring Break to take in Texas Rangers' spring training. Naturally, the days leading up to our trip were cold and rainy in north Texas and by departure day, I had a funny throat and a throbbing head. We had a blast, but my enjoyment was dampened by the fact that I wasn't 100%.
Well, Brett just called and said that if I have a miraculous recovery in the next 24 hours, to come anyway since he and Jenny are both off Monday. I've just taken a dose of Airborn (sp?) and maybe, just maybe, there will be a miracle
from a God who is sympathetic to my Spring Break curse.
Friday, March 05, 2010
Sunday, February 28, 2010
Sunday, February 21, 2010
Thursday, February 18, 2010
Wednesday, February 10, 2010
First, he taught them to do their everyday tasks better. Instead of sporadically collecting bottles and rags, they banded together in teams to scour the city. Next, he got them to build a warehouse from discarded bricks and start a business in which they sorted out vast amounts of used bottles collected from around Paris. Finally Pierre inspired each beggar by giving him responsibility to help another beggar worse off than himself. That is when the project really took off. An organization called "Emmaus" was founded to carry on Pierre's work, with branches in other countries.
A few years went by and presto! No more beggars in Paris! And Pierre believed his organization was about to face a serious crisis. "I must find somebody for my beggars to help", he declared. "If I don't find people worse off than my beggars, this movement could turn inward. They'll become a powerful, rich organization and the whole spiritual impact will be lost! They'll have no one to serve."
Pierre eventually went to India and found leprosy patients to fulfill his desperate search to find someone worse off than his beggars, and when he found them, he was overcome with joy. He returned to France, and Emmaus worked to donate a ward at an Indian hospital. The beggars had found people who needed their help so the spiritual motives of their lives continued on.
For us, the lesson is clear. Has there ever been more opportunity than right now to be there for the less fortunate? With our economy struggling and unemployment rising, the gulf between the "haves" and the "have nots" becomes ever more obvious. Christ spoke a lot about this, about clothing the naked, feeding the hungry, giving cups of cool water to those in need. He instructed us to consider others better than ourselves. If we do this, we will have to go against the flow of society. Advertisers constantly urge us to think of ourselves first, pamper ourselves, and reward ourselves. For sure, there was a great outpouring of American aid and effort for Haiti...but most probably ignored the opportunity.
For a nation of individuals that increasingly struggles to "get in touch with your real self", Christ's admonition that "he who loses himself shall find himself" rings very true. This Pierre fellow had it all figured out.
Tuesday, February 02, 2010
Wednesday, January 27, 2010
Wednesday, January 20, 2010
Saturday, January 16, 2010
Saturday, January 09, 2010
But I have serious issues with this whole wind chill thing. The NWS says it's based on how the cold feels to a human face five feet up on a cloudy day or at night. It sounds very subjective to me but they say it's based on some "heat transfer" formulation.
Here's my beef. I think nearly everyone would much rather experience a calm, cloudy day when it's minus 5 than a very windy day in the mid-teens. The wind has a way of penetrating all those layers the experts tell us to wear. After it digs through all that fabric, it takes aim for nerves buried deep under the skin. There's a reason why "bone-chilling" is a common phrase during winter.
The coldest temp I've ever experienced was minus 1 F. It hurt not a bit. Now the sun was out, but there was no wind. In fact, I found the air rather invigorating. I would much rather have been in those circumstances, even had it been cloudy, than to have a windy, 20-degree day.
So the experts need to get away from their desks and step outside the next windy winter day. My hunch is that they will rush back inside and re-do the revered wind chill chart. And the next time the forecast calls for, say, 15 degrees with 30 mph winds, and they say the wind chill is minus 5, feel free to join me in hollering out, "B-b-b-b-b-baloney"!