Tuesday, December 20, 2011

What Love's All About

He stands over her grave.  It's Christmas.  This is the first time in fifty-two years that she won't celebrate with him.  He twirls the rose in his rough, tanned hands.  Every day, he goes to the floral shop and buys her a red rose. Every day, he comes here to give it to her.

He places the delicate flower on her newly-dug grave, just like he has every day since she left.  Then he walks over to the bed of his pick-up and lifts out a chair.  He places the chair beside the brown clumps of earth.

 He starts to talk, just like every day since she left.  He tells her what happened yesterday; he shares news from people he saw the day before.  She needs to keep up on the family.

Everything said, he gets up from the chair, leans down and scatters the petals from roses of other days on top of the dirt.  He's making a blanket of roses for her.

"I love you, babe."

He walks slowly to the truck and places the chair back in its place.  He'll need it again tomorrow.  He gets into the cab, turns on the engine, glances at her resting place, and silently promises to return tomorrow.

We took him home-baked cookies a few weeks after she went away.  He said he had lots of food in the freezer from the funeral.

"Do you want to see her picture when she was 19?" he asks.  She was a beauty.  No wonder he misses her.

"Here's an aerial view of the house we built together," he offers.  It's a pastoral scene with outbuildings and a modest home.

"You mean she did construction?" I inquired.

"Yes, right along with me.  Raised four boys, too," he offered.

We leave, somber for his loss.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

New Season for Jayhawk Fans

Let's see--leave Excelsior Springs at 4:30, meet Jessica at 5:30, drive to Lawrence and arrive in time to get a BBQ sandwich at the arena before game starts at 7:00.  Good plan.

Here I go....need to get gas...uh-oh, it's almost 5:00...better hurry.  Take short-cut through Liberty at rush hour, only it's rush hour on short-cut, too. 

Almost to Kansas.  Better call Jessica.  I'll be about 15 minutes late.  Exit onto K-10.  Uh-oh, big traffic back-up.  Accident up ahead...helicopter hovering.  Guess I'll exit on Renner Road, go to College Blvd., turn right to Woodland, then take Woodland straight to our rendezvous point.

Bad idea.  Everyone else thought of it.  Another traffic jam.  Better call Jessica.  I'll be even later.

Meet Jessica in Price Chopper parking lot.  Left her phone at home today.  So much for messages.  She was ready to leave...thought we got our signals crossed.

On the road again.  Uh-oh, big traffic jam outside DeSoto.  Better take Kill Creek Road exit, go through DeSoto, then meet up with K-10 on down the road past the hang-up. 

On the road again.  Uh-oh, big traffic jam outside Eudora.  No exit to take for avoidance.  Oh, well, still have 45 minutes til game time.

Drive through Lawrence.  On the road two hours.  Must find restroom.

Arrive at Pete's parking.  Pete and Jessica elated to see one another.  Jessica didn't attend games last year.  Pete thought Jessica had died.  It was knee surgery.

 "You know, Jessica, as you get older you'll have lots of things go wrong with you."

"Thanks for the encouragement, Pete."

Get tickets out of purse.  Get out of the car.  Lock it.  Open trunk.  Put purses in.  Slam it. Walk toward arena.  Halfway there, discover one ticket gone.  Walk back to car.  Unlock trunk.  Look through purse.  No ticket.  Pete thinks someone is breaking into trunk.

Walk toward arena.  Go to ticket office. Wait in line.  Explain dilemma.  No problem.  New ticket printed.  Better hurry.  Game time.

Go to front door of arena.

"Welcome to Allen Fieldhouse."

Tickets won't make the machine "ding".

"You must go back to the ticket office.  You can't get in with these tickets."

"We were just there.  They gave them to us."

"Sorry.  We can't help you.  We don't have anything to do with the ticket office.  You must go back there."

Back to ticket office.  Explain dilemma.  No  problem.  Tickets reprinted.  Better hurry.  Game is well into first half.

"Welcome to Allen Field House."

Machine "dings".  Eureka!  We're in.

Search for BBQ stand.  Not on first floor.  Go to third floor.  BBQ is on second floor.  Game further into first half.

"There's only one more thing that could go wrong--no BBQ sandwiches."

"Jessica, go on in and sit down.  I'll track down the BBQ stand and meet you at our seats."  Game stopped for injury.  Crowd is quiet.  Game inching toward half-time.

Go to second floor.  Find BBQ stand.  Buy last two sandwiches.   Pay $20 for two sandwiches and two cokes.  Put pickles and BBQ sauce on sandwiches.

Go to third floor.  Find seats.  7:49 and almost half-time.  Look at floor.  Sixty percent of team is either injured or are being disciplined.  Recognize two players on the floor.  Whose team is this?

Game over.  Twenty-nine point win by strangers.  Walk to car.  Look on floor-board.  Ticket laying there.  Oh, brother.

"We have no place to go but up the rest of the season."


"Do you hear a funny noise?"


"When we get to your car, let's take a look and see what it is."

"Sounds like something flapping."

At Jessica's car.  Open doors.  Get out.  Jessica pulls tomato plant from underneath car, with tomatoes on it.

"Thanks, Pete."

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Good-Bye, Steve--We Barely Knew Ye

     Call me sentimental, but Steve Jobs' death threw me.  It's not like I didn't know it was coming.  I'm surprised he lived as long as he did, given the severity of his long-standing illness.  Recently, I was vaguely aware of his impending death, as I had seen touching political cartoons and web-postings about his final days at Apple.

     I remember knowing about Steve when he was that handsome, long-haired college guy.  I never met him, but for some reason, I wanted to read everything I could get my hands on regarding his life and what he was doing with technology.  I admired his tenacity, his intuition, his creativity, and his ability to make me want to go buy everything Apple, even though I had no idea what I was going to do with it.

     Our son, Blake, was in college in the mid-80's, majoring in computer science.  This was about the time Jobs invented the NeXt computer, with a hefty price-tag of $10,000.  Blake was entranced by it.  He asked his dad and me if we would buy it for him.   After we finished laughing at this ludicrous request, we replied that we appreciated his passion for it, but we would not be buying him one.

     Undaunted, Blake went to the bank early Monday morning and borrowed $10,000 against his car, then salivated over his new dream machine when it arrived a few days later.  We all know this was not a popular computer, but twenty-four years later, Blake still has his NeXt in its original packaging.  I hope he can sell it for a fortune some day, then he will be laughing, too--all the way to the bank.

     One year I sent Blake and his dad to the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas as their Christmas gift.  They were both in nirvana, slurping up all the techno-info they could slurp.  Multiple Jobs sightings made the experience even better.

     When Blake graduated from the University of Kansas, we asked him what he wanted for a gift.  "I want to go to California and attend Steve Jobs' Computer Camp," was his immediate answer.  He probably had been dreaming about this for years, so we honored his request and off he went for another nirvantic experience.

     Blake ended up with a job in the Silicon Valley soon after graduation and I made several trips to California to help him get settled.  One sunny day, he took me sight-seeing in Palo Alto.  One of these sights was Steve Jobs' house.  I was delighted to see Steve playing in the front yard with his children.  This affirmed something I had read about him.  He had two loves:  his work and his family.

     Last Christmas, along with millions of other Steve Jobs fans, I wanted an iPad.  I don't know why I wanted it or what I would do with it after I got it, but I didn't care.  I'm still trying to figure that out almost a year later.  Brilliant marketer, that Steve.

     The day Jobs died, I felt a strange sense of loss.  I knew someone to call who felt exactly like I did about Steve Jobs--my son, Blake.  I needed to console and to be consoled by a person who cared as much as I did about a man I never knew, but one who had done so much for us.

     "In honor of Steve Jobs, I think I'll go buy a new Apple computer," he said when I called him.

     "And I--I think in honor of Steve Jobs, I will go buy a new Apple phone," I replied.

     Steve Jobs really had a hold on us.