Thursday, September 08, 2016

Arkansa Edition

Terry and Dad together; a good evening on the patio.
My dad has not been in the best of health for some time. He is living with stage IV colon cancer,  with all the trials and tribulations that come along with that condition. He has been on a chemotherapy regimen for about a year, which doctors tell him should keep the tumors from growing and spreading, if he can withstand the side effects. As soon as the chemo stops working or his quality of life is such that he decides not to continue treatment, the cancer will probably continue to spread and grow.

This is a tough diagnosis to take. Quality of life has been less than ideal, not just for Dad but for my stepmom, who has been thrust into the role of primary caretaker.

I have not been to Arkansas to see Dad for some time, not to say that I haven't seen him or don't talk with him, but he came to Minnesota twice last year. He understands that my life is busy and it's hard to get away.

But at some point "busy" becomes "bullshit," and the people who are really important in your life must come to the surface. On some level I've been holding off on visiting, waiting for him to have the energy to have company. I finally came to the realization that I need to make the trip.

Kristi and I planned a trip over Labor Day weekend, flying from Minneapolis to St. Louis, then taking a 10-seater directly to Jonesboro, Arkansas.
We ain't in Minnesota anymore. A drive-through liquor store. They'll hand you a cup with ice with your vodka. No lie.
We had ourselves a time. There was plenty of "gabooning," as my grandfather Vern used to say (his term for visiting). The weather was divine, with plenty of opportunity to sit on the porch in a nice breeze, taking in the peace and quiet while three white dogs played the part of immovable porch rugs. Hummingbirds flitted from the feeder to trees; crickets and other insects provided the background music to their wings.

The largest and most immovable of all the white dogs, Jack.

Can you find all three?
We ate some good southern fare, and I made authentic Minnesota Wild Rice Soup, with wild rice smuggled from Minnesota. (Apparently bags of wild rice look like weed when viewed through a security x-ray machine, and warrant extra screening.) My nephew Sam decided it looked like bird suet, and leftover soup the rest of the weekend was donned "liquid suet."

I spent time with family members that Kristi has gotten to know so well through her many visits. We had a feast of pulled pork, barbecued ribs and smoked chicken.

Kristi and I helped with chores that escape doing in the midst of caring for someone else. We made trips to the store for victuals and supplies, vacuumed, helped organize the week's pills, cooked, and cleaned dishes, usually accompanied by laughter and banter.
Terry gives me a tour of the yard, including a fig tree.
By the end of three days Kristi and I were ready to get back to the land of North, and I think Dad and Terry were ready for us to leave. They themselves had to travel to Nashville the next day. What is it they say about fish and company?

Memories were made, and that's all that matters.

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