DR. MARY RICHARDS

Dr. Mary Richards
Dr. Mary Richards

My friend and partner in the Taekwondo school is dying. Dr. Mary
Richards was admitted to St. Vincent’s Hospital on November 17. She is
a tough lady, a fighter for sure. But it looks like she is not going to win this
fight.

She may already be gone as I write this.

I don’t know how old she was when she started TKD, in her 50’s perhaps? She had no flexibility and was not very graceful. But she had a single minded determination and I’m telling you she would flatten your butt and run over you
if you got in her way. I learned the hard way that I couldn’t trade blows with her. I’d throw a kick, she would step in on it, and I would get knocked on my ass.

I used to call her the Tank. The name fit her physically and it also described her personality, especially if you were trying to spar her. She’d grin really big when I called her that.

One of the greatest things I ever saw happened in class one night. It was before I bought the school, and Marcus Turley was the instructor. We were practicing board breaking for testing, the required technique was a jump front kick. I’m the first to admit that I really really suck at jumping. But Mary would be the first to tell you that
she sucked more at jumping than I did. So I was standing there watching to see how she did. Remember her nickname was Tank.

Anyway, I was standing behind her as she set up to do the technique, Turley holding the boards. She got into position, hopped a little and hit the boards with the ball of her foot. Well she kinda hit the
boards, and kinda slid right up them. And her foot just kept going up and the rest of her followed.

The next thing I knew she had tucked herself into a tight ball and done a backwards roll. She rolled on over, stood up, standing and facing those boards in a fighting stance.

Turley’s mouth dropped open and his eyes were bugging out of his head.

I was speechless and I’m sure my eyes were bugging too.

After a shocked silence Turley said “Doc, are you all right?”

“Sure” she replied “let me try that again”

Age and injuries kept her away from Taekwondo and her beloved white water rafting. She used to tell me about rafting the Grand Canyon. Before we moved to Colorado I went by her office to visit. She had rafted the Royal Gorge, which is right by our house. I always hoped she would make it out here to raft with us.

Mary was Charles’ cardiologist. She was the first person I called when I took him to the hospital and they told me it was a heart attack. She was the first person I called many times after that. I’d like to say that she took special care of him because we were friends and partners. But that wasn’t the case. She took special care of all of her patients. I have heard from quite a few of them about their affection for the gruff lady.

Every few months I’d get a call. She had found someone who she felt needed Taekwondo. I was to call them, tell them there was no charge, and get them enrolled. We had some pretty special people at our school because
Mary sent them our way.

Her work as a doctor touched many in a very direct way. She literally saved hundreds if not thousands of lives during her long career. She didn’t have a lot of charisma or charm, she could be cranky and impatient. But she was smart, caring, steadfast and loyal. And you knew without a doubt that she was on your side.

If the measure of a life is by how many people are touched, Mary Richards had a giant life. Little Rock Taekwondo would not have survived without her financial backing and support. She never received any financial reward from her investment. Many people whose lives were changed never knew that Mary Richards was in the background. But I know the stories of the lives we touched meant the world to her.

I’d see her wipe a tear as I told her about the grandfather struggling to stay alive a few more years so he could
raise his grandson. The mother who was raising her son alone and had a diagnosis of breast, then bone cancer. We cried together over the death of Michael Coon, who was accidentally shot by one of his friends. So many stories, so much caring on her part that no one ever saw.

Mary Richards led a quiet life. She didn’t care about houses and cars, jewelry and sparkle. She cared about people. And in her unique way, she led a giant life.

UPDATE ON MOM:LIFE IS GETTING VERY SHORT

“Life is getting very short. ”

That’s one of the things mom said yesterday when we saw her.

One of the reasons we made the trip to Little Rock was to spend some time with mom. The reality is phone calls are a waste of time. Either Tracey or Michael have to call me when they visit her. The last few calls I couldn’t tell if she couldn’t hear me or if she didn’t understand the words.

After seeing her the last few days I think it’s a combination of both, but the reality is her brain is very foggy now.

We stopped by for the first time on Saturday. She was in the dining room, strapped into her wheel chair so she wouldn’t fall out.

She smiled really big when she saw us. Said “hello Steve!”

I talked about the trip and brought her up on our current events. She seemed to understand but there was no give and take in the conversation. Her lunch came so we left.

The next morning my my brother Michael sent me a text. “You might want to go visit mom today, she doesn’t remember that you were there. It sucks I know.”

Yesterday we stopped by again. She was in her bed this time, picking at the food on her lunch tray.

A big smile. Greeted us both by name.
And for the most part for the rest of the visit she didn’t make a lick of sense. She rambled with long pauses.

I was able to not cry in front of her.

There were two moments of seeming clarity.

There had been several moments of silence. Then she looked me in the eyes and said:

“Life is getting very short”

I acknowledged that is was.

She then started rambling again.

As we were leaving, I hugged her and said:
“Love you mom.”

And she said ” Love you both. Remember that.”

I will remember that mom.

MARTY IN NOVEMBER

Mom in Colorado
I tried to convince myself that the difficulty we had talking on the phone was caused by Mom’s hearing getting worse. Her hearing loss is a contributing factor, but the reality is she is confused. Her physical health has been deteriorating, and now it would appear that her mental facilities are following suit.

There are all the platitudes… “She is 87; she has lived a long life” “She should have died from a heart attack when she was 52, you have had her a lot of extra years” “It’s the cycle of life, we all die”
They have been said to me. I’ve said them to myself. I’ve recited them to my siblings.
All of those statements are true, and none of them make any difference.

This hurts. Losing my mom just plain hurts.

I haven’t seen her for several months. I knew when I put her on the plane in Denver after her last visit that I would never see her in Colorado again. The altitude and lack of oxygen are too difficult for a frail old lady that is battling for life every day with only one third of her heart working.

We visited briefly when Steve and I were in Little Rock in the spring. She was in a nursing home/rehab facility and was looking forward to being released pretty soon. She went home a few weeks later, and then the difficult decision was made to move her into an assisted living facility.

She had lived in that house for 47 years. Raised a family there. Celebrated holidays and birthdays. It was home. It was where we all gathered at Thanksgiving and Christmas to squabble and fuss and be a family. It was her home and she dug in fiercely whenever we brought up the subject of selling.

But finally, even Marty had to admit that it was dangerous for her to stay by herself.

She tried to convince herself that she liked the assisted living facility, but it was a tough sell. She rebelled once, called me and told me she was going back home. When I reminded her that the house was empty and up for sale, she changed direction and said she would go live with her family in Michigan. I gently signed off on the phone call with the words “Let’s give it a few days and see how you feel about it then, Mom”

She was trapped in that place, in that life, and there was nothing she could do about it.
Fast forward several months and she is back in the nursing home/rehab. She can’t walk, or even sit up in bed by herself now, so she can’t stay in the assisted living.

I think, deep down in my soul, that she has given up. And I can’t say that I blame her.

The mom I know, the Marty that many love, is barely recognizable. Instead, there is a confused and very frail little lady. The indomitable fighter doesn’t want to fight anymore. I don’t think she can think of anything really worth fighting for.

There are no challenges, no battles to fight, no goals. She’s expected to drift from meal to meal. And the meals don’t interest her anymore. She hurts. She has heard everything we could think of to say to her before. She has experienced so much, and now her body keeps her prisoner.

I think her brain has decided to shield her with a blanket of cotton to keep the sharp emotions from hurting her. I’m grateful for that.

This sucks.

A LETTER TO MY INSTRUCTOR, AND FRIEND

My friend and instructor Jim Robinson tested for his 7th Dan in July. The testing was in Memphis, and there was no way I could be there. When our mutual friend Diana Hampo told me she was putting together a celebration party for Jim, I suggested that she compile a book of letters and photos from his friends and students.

There are people in our lives that make a difference. They challenge you, push you, force you outside your comfort zone. We may not realize it at the time, but they are part of the fabric of who we are and who we become. Jim Robinson is one of those people in my life. My challenge to you, dear reader, is to reflect on those people in your life that made a difference, and let them know. A phone call, a letter, an email, it doesn’t matter. Don’t take them for granted,or think that they must know how you feel. Tell them!

This is my letter.

Jim,
It’s not often that we have an opportunity to tell someone how much they mean to us. I’ve been guilty of telling others of your impact on my life, but I never told you.
You were my first instructor. You were the person that challenged me to do that which I thought was impossible. You were stingy with your praise, generous with your criticism. You lit a spark inside me that is still alive 35 years later.
I remember you trying to teach me new techniques. Smiling at my ineptness and shaking your head, walking away. All that did was motivate me to try harder. It never was the trophies that motivated me to compete. It never was the color of the belt that motivated me to test. It was your approval that mattered to me.
You taught me to never, ever quit. You taught me to set an example for lower ranks. To be stronger, tougher, and never stop if anyone else in that room was still going.
Remember that attitude instructors had? Not only did your students believe you could walk on water, you did too. You were so darn arrogant.
I remember the trip to Lansing, Michigan in 1977 or 1978 to compete in Nationals. A group of us borrowed Ron Turchi’s van and made the drive. There is no way to describe the pride we felt when we watched you compete. The fierceness of your techniques, the way you could side kick straight up in the air, and hold it.
You weren’t the biggest guy in the ring when it came to sparring, but by golly your opponents knew they had been in a fight when you got done with them.
I’d never gotten rid of that martial arts spark. I bought the school that you taught me in. Your spirit was all through that school. I found myself using the phrases you had used with me when teaching. “The reason you twist your wrist when you punch is because it takes less effort to twist a screw into wood than hammer a nail.”
We had lost contact, so it was surreal for me that day you walked in the door, the first time I’d seen you in twenty years. Those visits to the school, the phone calls, you working out with us in class, meant so much to me.
My sister Tracey and I sat on the floor and watched you compete a couple of years ago. She looked at me and said “It’s like old times again, isn’t it? Watching him compete. Being proud to be his student.”
I watched you test in Dallas for your 5th. Remember working on yourself defense demonstration? The cowboy hat?
And full circle for me. I tested for my 5th in December of 2009. You were on the panel. What a very special honor for me, to have my friend and instructor still a part of my life. Over thirty years Jim.
The influence I had, the lives I changed, were because of you. The ripple of your influence spread out over and over throughout the years. I’m just one. I wonder how many of your former students are out there, proud of what they accomplished because of your tutelage.
I’m sorry I could not be there to see you test. But know that I was smiling when I saw the pictures. And if I could be there now, there would be a big hug for my instructor and friend. Love you Jim.

Michelle

An Update On Marty


It’s been a tough couple of years for Mom. Those of you that know her understand that she is a truly remarkable woman. She reluctantly retired from the Little Rock Police Department at age 83. She really didn’t want to stop working, but Dad’s health was getting so bad that he needed someone with him and she was the logical choice. I think she’d still be working today if she could. She loved kidding around with the guys at the police department, and I’m sure she delighted in embarrassing Tracey every chance she got.
Sgt. Marty Garrison was one of her all time favorites. Marty is not a real common name and the fact that they had the same name is really funny . Marty and I went to high school together. I guess he likes older women because once he met my mom she became his favorite girl friend instead of me or Tracey. Of course “Moe Dee” has hundreds of girlfriends but his wife is a really good sport about it.
Marty would call my mom and say “Miss Marty, what are you wearing today?” Mom would answer “Well Marty, you know today is Thursday, so it’s Thong Day!” or “Well Marty, nothing but a smile!” and then they would both roar with laughter. Now she was sitting right smack dab in the middle of the Detective Division, and everyone around her would hear the conversation. How could you help but laugh with that feisty little 80 year old woman?
She had a couple of episodes this last year that really scared us. We thought it might be dementia or Alzheimer’s but apparently the problem was with some of her medications. Mentally she is still the person she always was, but physically her body is showing her age. She is frail.
The problems started when she was staying with us here in Colorado. She was dizzy and getting more and more weak . She broke down one morning and told me she was afraid every night when she went to bed. She thought she was going to die. We thought it might be the altitude since we live at 5,000 feet above sea level but we couldn’t be sure. It was impossible to get her in to a physician out here so we got her back to Little Rock so she could see her doctors. We both cried when I put her on the plane. I really thought it would be the last time I saw my mom.
Those of you with older parents know the struggle. They want to stay in their house. They want to stay with familiar surroundings and all the memories that live in the brick and mortar of their home. But we were all scared to death of her living by herself. My brother was living with her to help out, but he is a fireman so he could not be there every day or night.
I would talk to her on the phone. She always tried to put a good spin on it, but once or twice she broke down. She was lonely, depressed, bored. Sitting in her recliner, reading and dozing in the chair. Afraid to walk, plus it hurt. Phone calls and visits from friends and relatives helped, but life was not fun anymore. Even when Michael or Tracey took her somewhere it was an ordeal. It takes a long time to get her loaded and unloaded in a car. She walks very very slowly. She’s even agreed to use a walker instead of a cane, which showed us how precarious it was for her to walk. She would apologize for taking so long, tearing up a couple of times at her helplessness. It broke my heart.
She got more and more weak at home. Stopped taking her “pee pills” because she didn’t want to walk to the bathroom so much. I think she was afraid of falling. Some ups, more downs, then we had to put her in a rehab facility to help her get her strength back.
In retrospect that was one of the best things that happened over the last couple of years. She was around other people, she got her strength back. When Steve and I stopped by to see her on our way back to Colorado from a trip to Alabama she told me that she wanted to stay there. I never thought I’d hear that.
She was too capable to stay in the rehab facility. But Michael did some research and got her on the list for a place in West Little Rock. She insisted on a lake view so they had to wait a couple of weeks.
Mom is now ensconced in her apartment. She has all her meals provided for her, which is great because she is an awful cook and wasn’t eating anyways. She has made some new friends, and toodles around checking on everyone. She is painting again and having fun. She likes to sit on her porch by the lake and nap in the sun.
This was not an easy process. There was conflict among us siblings. Miscommunications and anger. All of us wanted to do the right thing; none of us really know what the right thing was. My brother Michael really stepped up and found the place, made the arrangements. He handles the bank account and make sure the bills are paid. He is the chauffer for the myriad of doctor’s appointments. Tracey stops by everyday to see Mom almost every day. She and Terry took her to Tunica for Mothers Day. Together they make sure that what needs to be done gets done.
She told me today that she likes her place. She’s glad she is there. This time is a blessing, she is safe and at peace. She said “you know Michelle, these extra years have been a gift.” She doesn’t have to worry about being alone if she falls, or if she has another heart attack. She doesn’t have to worry about money, or if the roof needs to be fixed. I’m so very thankful that this all worked out the way it did.
She is 86. Marty is the miracle lady with several heart attacks, a hole in her heart and a pacemaker that doesn’t work anymore. I know her time on this earth is measured in months instead of decades. I wish I could see her more. I wish she didn’t hurt. I wish for so many things but they can’t be changed.
But I’m so thankful that we still have her and I can talk to her on the phone. I’m thankful that Keely, Steve and I had months with her while she lived with us in Colorado. And I’m thankful that her friends in Little Rock stop by to see her and take her to lunch.
My mom does not like getting old. I don’t blame her. It sucks. But she does know without a doubt that she is loved.

Michelle, Tracey and Michael

There Is Hope For The World

“The Boys” at Tunnel Drive, Canon City
If our future is our young people, I’m here to tell you that there is hope for our world.

We had four young men as our guests this week. My nephew Paul brought three of his friends for a graduation celebration trip. All four have graduated from the University of Arkansas at Fayetteville. That is something of an accomplishment nowadays. I know a lot of young people struggle with college, many start and stop several times before they get through the process. I give them all a lot of credit.

But many don’t even try. They are too busy getting high and sleeping until 2:00 in the afternoon to even think about college and their future. And some are in a minimum wage job because they are waiting on a court hearing to find out if they are going to jail or not. Several of my friend’s kids are in this situation. These are kids that have been brought up right. Their parents are successful, moral people. It’s like their kids get a big ole dose of stupid somewhere between age 12 and 14 and they are going to completely submerge themselves in stupid for a couple of years. Some of them never get out of it.

But “the boys” as Keely called them are good kids. These are young men that any parent would be proud of. They were polite. They thanked me after every meal that I cooked. They told me that they loved our house. They told me Keely was really cute and really smart. They told me they thought I was in my mid 40’s. They cleaned up their own mess. They listened when I got Steve to talk about some of his war stories from work and show them pictures. In other words, they did everything right. Paul didn’t even say anything when I was driving his 2WDrive Jeep on rocky paths that weren’t even roads trying to find our way out of Red Canyon. He did hold his breath a lot though.

Their first day I took them to Red Canyon. It gave them a chance to see some awesome scenery and adjust to the altitude. We climbed on some rocks and hiked a bit, then went into town to eat at “The Owl”. A drive on Skyline Drive and then we headed home. Dinner on the deck, then they cleaned up and went into Canon City to check out the nightlife. Evidently there is some nightlife, because they didn’t get in until 3am.

They went whitewater rafting on Thursday. They had met a “river rat” in Canon City the night before so they decided to go with him. Evidently Dominic decided to see just how cold the Arkansas River is and went head first into the water. Paul helped pull him back in and they all got really wet. Steve took them up in the plane that evening so they got to see the Royal Gorge from the air as well as rafting under it. They came home to a spectacular sunset. It was great sitting out on the deck that night listening to them talk all over each other describing how awesome it all was.

Friday we took the top off the jeep, loaded up our friend Boris and one of “the boys” into the jeep. The other guys took the 4WD truck with no air conditioning or radio. We piled tents, sleeping bags, leftover brisket and baked beans and lots of bottles of water into the bed of the truck. Then we took off for the Great Sand Dunes National Park.

We went up to Westcliffe, then over to State 559. Then we went off road into the San Isabel Forest and later the Sand Dunes National Forest. It took us about four hours to go 30 miles.

The weather was perfect, and the guys had never done anything like that road before. We drove over rocks, went splashing through streams, bounced all over the place in the vehicles and just had a blast.

Offroading to the Dunes

We got to the Dunes, the boys dropped off their camping stuff, and then we drove to Alamosa. We discovered Calvillos Mexican Restaurant on our last trip. They serve a buffet. I’m not usually a fan of buffets, but this one is really unusual. They have dishes made out of cactus that I can’t begin to pronounce. All I know is that it was all really good and you can have all the sopapillas and honey that you can eat. Now you have to understand, Steve is not a “foodie”. He always rates what I cook on a scale of 1 to 4. Mostly I get 3’s and 4’s. If he gives something a 2 that recipe goes in the trash. He raved about the food at this place, even took pictures of it and posted about it on Face book. He has never done that before. So of course we all had the buffet. Boris, who is from Guatemala, said he was going to be coming back real soon. He also found out that the chef is Guatemalan, so maybe that is the difference with the food. It’s not the typical Tex/Mex that we are used to that’s for sure.

Sunday morning we had breakfast and then they all piled into the jeep for the 12 hour ride home. Lots of hugs. I’m going to miss them.

Summer Visitors

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It’s visitor season at our house.   I love it.  Last summer we had a grand total of 12 days that we did not have someone staying with us.  So far it looks like we will have a bit more free time this year, but not much.

Keely goes to Little Rock to spend the summer with her dad.   We miss her a lot when she is gone, but it’s important that she get long stretches of time with her dad. It helps us because we don’t have to worry about dragging her along with us everywhere we go, or making arrangements for her to spend the night with her friends.   She goes to Camp Lake Nixon every summer and gets to spend her days swimming and doing camp things.  She has a group of friends and counselors that she reconnects with every year.  What a great experience for her.  In the evenings she gets to hang out with her dad and they do a lot of cooking.  Escargot, Mussels in White Wine, and Veal Zurichoise are the current favorites.  She for sure is her father’s daughter.

Back at the Ray/Cox B&B we are doing a lot of grilling and sitting on the deck in the evenings.  Sunsets are spectacular, and because of the lack of humidity we can actually stay outside a lot.  In fact most mornings and evenings a light jacket is a good idea because it gets pretty chilly.

Thomas Milbradt was a new friend that we met at an annual gathering of martial artists in Castle Rock known as The BBQ.   He is from Germany and training to be a policeman.  What a wonderful polite young man he is.  We hiked, white water rafted and had a lot of great discussions about every subject you can imagine.

The Brakes, our friends from Great Britain stayed for 10 days.  It is always so interesting seeing our country through their eyes.  I met them at a dude ranch in Arizona over 20 years ago.  They visited Arkansas several times, we did a trip to Cancun together and I’ve lost count of the times we have stayed with them in Wiltshire.  We went to Taos, did some shopping and a lot of eating, drove into the mountains to Ouray, and even took in a rodeo (that one was for Terry).  Terry and Steve are both big Louis Lamour fans.  We have a huge collection of Lamour books, Terry always had several with him to re-read.   Then he and Steve would get into discussions about them while Mandy and I rolled our eyes.

My daughter Kat stayed with us twice last year.  I saw more of her last summer than I have since she moved to Louisville.

I’ve known Carla Hazlewood for over 30 years.  She was a fellow student when I first started taking Taekwondo in the 1970’s.  She has been out to visit a couple of times.  Her last visit coincided with a visit from Heidi Mullins.  I also met Heidi through Taekwondo, she was one of my students, single and new to Little Rock.  We really hit it off.  Both women live  in Little Rock but had never met.  The three of us had a blast and now they are good friends and see each other frequently in Little Rock.  I feel like a matchmaker.

I’ve lost count of the times my brother Michael has been out.  He’s bringing his motorcycle again this trip and plans to leave it here.  I guess that means he is planning to come back?  He’s also bringing his fiancée Patty and will be getting married while in Colorado. How cool is that?

My “Asian Daughters” were out for spring break.  I wrote about their adventures in the Blog “Fear and Adrenaline”

Heidi was here last week with her boyfriend Kevin.  They were only here a few days but we packed a lot into the time we had.  Probably another blog on that subject….

Next week my nephew Paul (Michael and Kate’s son) will be out with three of his friends.  They have all just graduated from U of A Fayetteville and are using this trip as a graduation celebration.  Zip lining and rafting, hiking and camping are on their agenda.

Next out are Leslie Herrington and her daughter Anna Kate.  Again, another TKD connection and Anna Kate is one of Keely’s best friends.  They will be here for four days then will take Keely back to Little Rock with them.

Michael and his family arrive the next week.  The will be staying close to two weeks and we may have as many as six in that party.  That takes us until the end of June.

Will have a one or two day break then Heidi and Kevin are coming back in.  Not sure how many others will be with them, Heidi was sending out text invitations when she was here. I don’t know any of the invitees so that means we will get to meet some new people.   Could be as many as 10 so I’ll have to pull out the air mattress.

Next we go to Castle Rock for our annual BBQ.  We will cut that a bit short as one of Steve’s former co-workers and his family will be coming in on Sunday July 15 for a week.

After that, two weeks or so to ourselves and then we get our Keely back.  School starts and summer is over.

I love living in Southern Colorado where there are so many great things to do.  I love living in a house that allows us to have it full of visitors.  I love living with a man that enjoys having friends stay with us.

I love my life.

RIP Bojangles The Rattlesnake Slayer 3/22/2012.

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I had to put down my little Boston Terrier yesterday. Those of you that have lost a pet know the pain. Its the price we pay for choosing to share our lives with a pet.

We acquired Bojangles four years ago from a friend that couldn’t keep him anymore. He was scared of men, I think some of the guys in his previous life had mistreated him. He would cringe when Steve reached for him, slink on his belly when he called him. Steve worked with him until he was more comfortable around men, but he always preferred women.

He spent many a happy night under the covers sleeping with our daughter Keely. He adored her and followed her everywhere.

He got to go camping with us for the first time in his life. The picture I have of him on Facebook is his first canoe ride. He got to explore all kinds of interesting places when we moved to Colorado, including our horse pasture where he ate horse poop until he barfed.

We still laugh about the time he was in the jeep when we parked it to go eat on a snow day. Steve wanted to teach me the proper way to drive on ice and snow so we had been doing skids and circles on icy parking lots for a couple of hours, I parked the jeep in the middle of the almost deserted parking lot well away from other cars. We walked in and as we stared to sit down i saw a car pulling in between
two other cars right in front of the building. I thought ” boy that jeep looks like our jeep”. Then I thought “huh, that dog looks like Bo”. Then ” oh wow that is Bo!”. The jeep had slid down three rows and parked itself in between two other cars. Bo was in the backseat with his front feet on the console. I could see his head with his big Boston Terrier ears swiveling from right to left. Reading his body language he was saying ” who is driving? who is driving?”. No doubt he would have been at the steering wheel trying to drive in the next few minutes if the car had not come to a safe stop at the curb.

Although he loved Keely and Steve he was really my dog. When the weather was good he would run errands with me. He loved riding in the car. When the weather was warm and we took the top off the Wrangler he was in heaven.

He was my shadow when I was in the house, following me from room to room when I cleaned, hopping up on the couch to snuggle next to me whenever I sat down, He would lay on my foot when I stood in front of the sink to brush my teeth.

He was totally deaf, but would watch me very closely for hand signals. He also farted really bad all the time.  Boy that little guy could clear a room.

Last year Bo found a rattlesnake in our yard. He killed that sucker. Chewed him up really good. He also got bit on the snout and neck in the process. He was put on IV pain meds and antibiotics and was
almost as good as new the next day. Tough little guy.

Somehow he hurt his back and ruptured a disc. We tried prednisone and then opiate pain meds. The last two days he could hardly walk, couldn’t climb stairs and just screamed in pain. He wouldn’t take his
pills in a hot dog or cheese. I couldn’t tilt his head up to put the pills down his throat because his back and neck hurt so bad. He ate a couple of bites of hamburger then threw it right back up.

I knew it was time. I’d hoped this would happen on one of Steve’s days off so he could do it. If I didn’t take him in that day, we would have to wait until the next afternoon. I couldn’t put him through another day and night of pain so I made the call to the vet.

Tears were streaming down my face when I walked into the vets office. They took us right into a room and left us there to wait for the vet. I held him, and stroked his little gray face. He finally relaxed and went to sleep while we waited for Ana the vet.  Ana had saved his life when he became                             Bo The Rattlesnake Slayer last year.

She was crying when she walked in the room. We looked at each other and both of us stared sobbing.. We hugged and she told me she had just lost her cat the night before.

I can tell you that Bo had a very easy and loving passing, with two people that cared about him petting him and crying over him as he went to sleep for the last time.

We made an impression of his feet in clay. A local business will fireit for us. I think we will put it out in the garden where we bury his ashes beside his favorite sleeping tree.

As we were talking about the final arrangements Bo did it one last time. The fart was so bad we had to leave.

Bo could still clear a room.

Fear and Adrenaline

Kayla, Allie and Nicky at Red Canyon

We have some new daughters now, we call them “The Asian Chicks”.  Actually that is what they call themselves.

Nicky is a fighter.  I mean a real fighter like in kickboxing.  She hasn’t gone pro because she wants to keep it as a hobby, but training and fighting are what her days revolve around.    I met her at Danny Dring’s several years ago.  We didn’t talk a whole lot, mostly because I didn’t have a lot of breath after working out in one of his classes.   We actually started talking more the last couple of months I was still in Little Rock than the couple of years before.  Isn’t it funny how that happens?  When you know you aren’t going to see someone on a routine basis you start talking a lot more.

I got an email from Nicky a couple of months ago asking if my invite to come visit was still open.  And could she bring a couple of friends?  Spring Break?

So we hosted Nicky, Kayla and her sister Allie for a week.  Kayla and Allie are part Thai.  Nicky is Filipino.  Kayla is actually a professional kick boxer.  All three girls are sweet and fun and drop dead gorgeous.

Steve now has a new nickname…STEVE O!  Always with an exclamation mark.  I think he is ok with it, it’s better than the special nickname that Keely has come up with.  I’m not permitted to tell anyone that one and she is the only person in the whole world that can call him that.

When we were driving to Salida we got into a conversation about dinosaurs.  Nicky had us all laughing until we cried about some of her comments and questions.  That’s when I came up with my special name for her…”The Incognito Blond”.  If you know Nicky, you’ll understand why that is a really good nickname for her.

Here is what those girls did in one week

Sleep (OK, they had to get over jet lag and fatigue from messed up flights, plus the altitude out here takes some getting used to)

Snowboarding at Monarch

White Water Rafting in Canon City

Zip line in Salida

Skydiving in Penrose

Garden of the Gods in Colorado Springs

Hiked Red Canyon and Skyline Drive

Steve and I didn’t participate in the skydiving or snowboarding, but we did all the other stuff with them.  And we had a blast.

I wasn’t too sure about the skydiving adventure.  But I figured they were all adults and they could make their own decisions.  So I took a lot of pictures and video.  They all said that skydiving was one of the highlights of the trip.

The next week someone died skydiving at our airport.  The skydiving master that Kayla jumped with was critically injured and his jumper died.  Obviously one of my first thoughts was that it could have been one of my girls.  I can’t imagine what it would have been like to see them falling through the air with no parachute.  I can’t imagine what it would have been like for the other two to watch that.  I can’t imagine making a phone call to their parent.

Look at the list of things that we did.  Death or injury was possible in every single one.  Well, driving through Garden of the Gods is a bit of a stretch but we could have had a car wreck going to or from.

There is something about risk, about danger, that gets the adrenaline going and makes us feel alive.  Nicky was much more of a risk taker than Kayla, Allie and me when it comes to jumping around on rocks.  She is a lot like Steve actually and I had to go into Mom Mode a several times and tell her “no you may not jump 10 feet from one rock to another!”

Everybody has their own threshold of fear and an acceptable ratio of fear to excitement.  Some people live here and have never been whitewater rafting, while I’ve been 7 or 8 times.  They have looked at the stats, evaluated the risk, and decided not to try it.  And that is ok.

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Kayla, Allie and Nicky after skydiving

I see people jumping out of airplanes at our little airport down the road from us almost every day.  Watching the girls jump made me strongly consider doing it.  In fact, Steve and I talked about it a couple of weeks before when we met the owner of the new skydiving business at the airport.  We talked about it again after visiting with him last week and talking about the tragic accident.  Bottom line is it is a sport, with inherent risks.  And we may give it a try.  Sometime.

The Door is Back On

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As some of my Facebook friends know, we took the door off of Keely’s bedroom last week.  Thank you all for the encouragement and support, I loved reading all your comments.

My sweet little nine year old girl has a tendency to lose her temper, stomp down the hallway, and slam her door.  If that wasn’t bad enough, she then locks it.  If the reason for the stomp, slam and lock is because she has had an argument with a friend, it means her friends are left standing at her door saying “Keely let me in!”  This in turn bugs the heck out of me and Steve if we are trying to watch TV, read, or have a conversation.

Even worse, if the stomp, slam and lock is because she is ticked off at her parents, then either Steve or I are the ones in the hallway saying “Keely, open the door!”    There is a direct correlation to her locking that door and then getting “stuck to the refrigerator”.

Did I mention that my sweet little girl has a temper?  She can be a wee bit strong willed.  Perhaps she was a somewhat spoiled when we first made the move to Colorado…

She can be a little bit of a total shit in fact.

Steve came up with the brilliant idea of making Keely stand in front of the refrigerator whenever she would throw one of her hissy fits.  I guess the refrigerator became our version of the time out chair.  The time in front of the refrigerator gave her time to get control of herself, and then we could have a conversation with her about her transgression.

When my son David was here over Christmas a year ago, she told him that she liked living in Colorado, but she did not like being “stuck to the refrigerator”.  David asked her what that was, and she informed him “I get stuck to the refrigerator whenever I do something I’m not supposed to do.  And it’s NOT fun!”

Score one for the parents.

A month or so ago Keely did the stomp, slam and lock.  Steve told her the next time that happened he was going to take the door off her room.  (We had talked about it after the previous temper outburst)  So last week, while a friend was over, Keely did it again.  As I was chewing her out about it, Steve walked in from work.  She and her friend went downstairs to play, blissfully unaware that her world was about to change.

An hour later, after dinner and more playing, she went down the hall to her room.

“Mom!  Where is my door?!”

“It’s in the garage Keely.  Steve took it off.  You were warned.”

“Mom!  Steve!  I HAVE to have my door!”

“Sorry babe, not going to happen.  We will let you know when you can have it back.  Depends on how you act, starting now.”

“You are the WORST parents EVER!”  Stomp, stomp, stomp downstairs.  (No door slamming though)

The next morning as we were waiting for the bus we talked about it.  I told her that she could depend on us, she could trust us.  If we tell her we are going to do something we do it.  Sometimes that means we go places, or do really fun activities.  Sometimes it means we take the door off her room, because we told her we would.  I pointed out that Steve had been gone for 12 hours when he came home that evening, and then took 30 minutes to take the door off.  Not because it was fun, and certainly not something he wanted to do.  But because he had told her he would do it the next time she did a stomp, slam and lock.  And we keep our word.

She didn’t say much.  But I could see the wheels turning in her little head.

Over the course of the next few days the door was not mentioned again.  Keely was an angel.  She did everything we asked the first time we asked.  She fed the horses and the dogs, gave Brandi her pills.  Did her laundry, folded our clothes and placed them neatly on the bed.  Cleaned her room, loaded the dishwasher.

Friday we put the door back up.  When she came home from school, she had a friend with her.  Nothing was said, we didn’t make a big deal about it, and neither did she.

She knows that we love her.  She knows that she can depend on us.  She knows that we are going to do what we think is the right thing, even if it is difficult for us and for her.

My other kids are 33 and 28. I’ve taught martial arts to a lot of kids.  I’ve heard and seen a lot.

I know that we still have puberty and teen age years to get through.  It’s not going to be fun; it’s not going to be pretty.  We will just do the best we can, be consistent, and love her. Pray.  And keep our fingers crossed.