Friday, February 8, 2008

A Day With Joe Cool.....

A couple of weeks ago I got to spend most of the day with "Joe Cool".....

This is him:
Pretty cool, eh? He's at ease in any situation. Just kickin' back, crossing one leg on top of the other and just joshin' around with the boys:

But he's not beyond pulling the shades down to let you look into his eyes when he wants you to know he's serious.....

I'm pretty sure he made his fortune in Real Estate before the current crash......

...... although..... he's an incredible Blues singer. Maybe he got rich in the music industry....

Whatever it is, he gets the royal treatment wherever he goes. I mean, he just raises his hand politely and the wait staff come running.....

I also know that he's very frugal. Even to the point of thoroughly checking the menu before he orders to make sure he gets the most value for his hard earned dollars.

Anyway, spending the day with Joe Cool is like....... well, it's like nothing most other people get to do...........

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

'Tis The Season II.........

I promised another Christmas memory by today, didn't I?

As our family gathers together here in Queen Creek, there's a part of us missing. Sean, Ashli and Ethan stayed in Wichita this year. We miss them but have already talked with them on the phone. So this Christmas memory is about Sean.

One year Mary's parents were spending a few months with us. Historically they had given the kids pencils with their names on them. It was a big joke that they always misspelled Sean's name as "Shaun" or "Shawn" or some other variation. This particular year there was a very large present with a card that read "To Sean from Grandma and Grandpa Jarboe".

The story was that they felt really bad about spelling his name wrong on the pencils all these years and this gift was to make up for it. It drove his older brother nuts.

On Christmas morning Sean tore open the wrapping paper to reveal a set of golf clubs. He profusely thanked Grandma and Grandpa for the gift and they apologized for spelling his name wrong on so many pencils for so many years.

Eventually Sean told his brother that he'd bought himself the golf clubs and had grandpa write the card. So, they sat wrapped in our living room rather than traveling the local courses because Sean got as much pleasure, if not more, from agitating his brother than he did from golfing.

Anyway, a whole new batch of memories are headed our way. That's Mary Addie Elizabeth the first on Santa's lap. Yeah, I took the photo....... I know what you're thinking. First a tree, now this?!?!?

Thursday, December 13, 2007

'Tis The Season......

Well, I started this blog a few months back and likened it to one of those Family newsletters that seem to land in our mailboxes this time of year and now Christmas is upon us. Many people reflect upon the things of God during this season. I really try to do that throughout the year. Far from robbing the season of it's thunder, it really enhances the season for me. That's a good thing too, because so much of what the season has become seems to diminish the wonder of Christmas and reduce it to a stress-filled, mall wars free-for-all. The only reason Wii want to play is because Wii make so much money and we pay the price with more than our cash (or debt). I can't dwell on that kind of stuff or I get cynical.

Another thing that folks reflect on during this season is family. Family too is important to me. My relationship with Christ is primary, but family is certainly second. I hear people my age and younger talking about how they can hardly wait until their kids move out. Man, I don't understand that. It happened too soon for Mary and I.

I was talking to some of my co-workers today and relating some Christmas memories. If you ask our kids what they remember most about Christmas I'm sure one of them will mention that, "Dad always read the story of Jesus' birth from Luke chapter 2." That was a constant in our family tradition. Beyond that we changed things up pretty often:

One year we had no presents out for the kids. They kept asking and we kept feigning ignorance. On Christmas morning each of the kids was given an envelope. Each envelope contained a message telling them that a clue to the whereabouts of their presents was in the scriptures, and there was a reference. Each of them looked up their verses and tried to figure out what location the clue referenced. Each clue led to another and another until they found their gifts.

I think I'll share another post or two with memories of Christmas past before the day arrives.

This year most of us will be gathered in our home: Carlos III, his wife Cathy and their new little one - Mary Addie Elizabeth Conchita Louisa Ordonez the first (OK, everything after "Elizabeth" is made up....); We'll also have Angela, her husband Ben and their little man Aden (He's a trip! The photos in this post are of Aden). Unfortunately Sean, his wife Ashli and their little guy Ethan (who is doing so much better, thanks for askin') won't be joining us. I think I'll post a Sean memory next time.

Here's "Indiana Aden" wearing Pappa's hat. This was back when he spoke everyone's name out loud but would only whisper, "Pappa" which is what he was saying as I shot this.

So, if this is a "Christmas" post, what's with the pumpkin patch? These were some shots taken of Aden when he was picking out his "Apple". I just hadn't been able to blog about it yet, so I included the shots here. For those who want a shot that says "Christmas", here's one of our adopted daughter Bobbie and our Christmas tree........ yes, you heard right. We have a Christmas tree this year. Go tell it on the mountain............

Friday, October 26, 2007

Welcome, Miss Addie.....

I didn't have anything better to do after work last night. I'd only been sleeping about three hours a night all week and was so tired that the woman in line next to me at Chipotle Wednesday night felt compelled to comment on how tired I looked and admonished me to go home and get some sleep. So Thursday, as soon as the van rolled into the Wal-Mart parking lot, I hopped in my car and headed someplace other than home. I went to the hospital...........

No. I wasn't sick..... again..... I went to see our newest family member, Mary Addie Elizabeth Benjamin (sounds like a little Irish Catholic girl's name).

She's a cutie! I was able to hold her for quite awhile and did my usual "stare at the baby in awe and wonder without saying anything for a very long time" thing.

Most of the time she slept, but for awhile she just looked right back at me, nothing but peace and tranquility passing between us, and then, back to sleep......

Knocked out.....
And still sleeping.....The happy family..... My boy, Elroy..... Oh, no. That was the Jetsons. That's the big boy, Carlos III, his lovely bride Cathy (she's really quiet but very funny - we're keepin' her) and little Addie in the middle.She's pretty alert....... well, when she's awake........

And this is how I left her:

I think I may have to go see her again.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Seems Like It's All About Me

I really started this blog as a spot to put stuff about our family. I guess my timing wasn't good since it seems that it's been all about me.......

And this post is no exception.

I got to go to the hospital last week. I just wasn't having enough drama in my life and I asked myself, "What more could I do to give myself some additional pain?" Well, the answer came in a flash. How about a heart cath? Yeah!!!

Actually, I'd been to my cardiologist shortly after stopping the thyroid meds and he wanted to do a stress test. I told him he'd better hurry since I was off the meds and probably wouldn't have enough energy to complete the test if he waited too long.

When my doctor checked the stress test results he said, "For a normal person this would be a pretty good test result. But you're not normal." Well, shoot, everybody knows that. Unfortunately that meant he wanted to take a closer look at my heart and that meant an angiogram.

I was only in for a day. They used a new doohickey (medical term) to plug the hole in my femoral artery. It's an Angio-Seal and it's actually pretty cool.

Anyway, they said I have two arteries that are about 50% occluded but that they usually don't do a stent or even a balloon until they're 70%. I figure it took fifty years for me to get that plugged up, so I won't need another angiogram until I'm pushin' seventy. Hooray!

Hopefully I'll get to go back to work next week. I had hoped to see the doctor this week to get a release, but he's out of town. I'll see him on Monday and he should sign off on a release to go back to work at that time.

Maybe my next post will get to be about something else besides my worn-out carcass. I'm slowly scanning some old family photos, so maybe we'll get some Benjamin/Richardson history thrown in.

Friday, September 21, 2007

I Like Rollercoasters....... Usually.........

Normally I like roller coasters. If I go to a theme park I want to ride all the coasters. I know a coaster is really good when my face hurts at the end of the ride because I've been grinning so big.

That's the norm for me.

I don't like the roller coaster I find myself on right now. Monday and Tuesday I was really feeling a lot better. Wednesday and Thursday I plummeted and felt horrible for two days. Nothing thrilling about that plunge. So far today I'm feeling a little better. Hopefully we're on an uphill trend for a bit.

Enough about me though:

I got an email from my aunt Karen. Her hair is pretty much gone from her chemo, but she isn't getting sick from it. That's a real answer to prayer. She's had a port implanted behind her collar bone so that the chemo can be directly administered there. Continue to pray for aunt Karen and for Brooke Nungesser in Poznan, Poland (I mentioned her recurrent pituitary tumor last post). If you want to, you can keep praying for me, but I'm pretty much on the mend and there's no place to go but up....... well, except for the occasional plunge......

Monday, September 17, 2007

One Week Back On The Meds.......

Today marks one week since I was told I was cancer free and able to resume my meds. The swelling has gone down considerably. This weekend my thumbs and forearms were finally pliable and no longer feel like the skin is about to split. However, I still have to rest after a couple of lines of typing. For instance, I had to lower my arms and let them hang for about one minute after typing the line about my thumbs and forearms.

As soon as I went on the meds I think I started losing water accumulation and started dropping weight by about a pound a day (don't I wish that was a trend that would continue with excess fat after the excess water is gone). That got me all excited that my recovery would go much quicker this time, but the trend seemed to plateau after five days. Drat!

I've been having crazy ideas that come in the middle of the night. I think my brain is starting to shake off the fog and is metaphorically leaping for joy and just throwing out ideas and getting all excited about them to the point I'm not getting much sleep. I have to admit the ideas are pretty cool (or maybe the part of my brain that analyzes stuff is still in the mental fog or any idea is a breath of fresh air and is being evaluated purely emotionally) and I'm jotting them down. Some of them have to do with lighting setups and other ideas for photography. One is an idea for a notebook (paper, not computer) of all things. Some are just plain silly..... Like, "What would an Amish TV network be like? Especially considering the Amish don't watch TV." I have a newscast with Jedediah Lehman as the bearded anchor man and some stories already cooking. Now, if I can just get ahold of a good video camera.....

I was able to go to church yesterday. That was a major plus. I only missed the previous Sunday in order to protect the church peeps from my radioactive-ness, but it seemed like it had been forever. I just sat in a chair and everyone came by to say howdy and get (or give) a radioactive-free hug.

When I wake up in the mornings my eyes are still glued shut. When I wipe the goo free and am able to open them they still look like these angry black holes in my face, but I think they look better after a few hours (or I just get used to seeing them like that whenever I go to the bathroom and look in the mirror). It's hard to evaluate and determine if something is actually progress (like the weight loss, which was measurable) or just subjective hopefulness. A few things are undeniable, but most of the things I've "noticed" may just be wishful thinking -- although, that in itself could be a result of just feeling better in general.

I'm going to try an outing today and see how I do.

Prayer Request
Pastor announced yesterday that Brooke Nungesser, one of "our" missionaries to Poland (one of the 'Polish Nuns' [Nungesser]), has received her results from a recent MRI and the tumor on her pituitary is back. I know that Brooke was praying for me and I will certainly be praying for Brooke. Whatever lies ahead may not be easy, but I can assure you that God's sustaining grace is more than sufficient for you at every point along the journey. Take this opportunity to draw near to him and he will draw near to you.

There's something about "cancer" and other "tragic circumstances" that can be a great clarifier. You get that diagnosis or hear some news and suddenly things that occupied your thoughts and held such a place of high importance just evaporate like a fog into thin air, leaving the things that were truly important all along to stand in stark contrast to the formerly important things that obscured them.

So, why did I use quotation marks around "cancer" and "tragic circumstances"? Because they aren't even important. They are the catalyst that parts the curtain of life to reveal what is genuinely important. We get so wrapped up in circumstances and possessions that we neglect and even abuse that which is precious beyond measure. You can just cruise through an average neighborhood on a Saturday or Sunday and see it. The parent yelling at the kid that just put a dent in the car with her tricycle for instance. If you were to go to the parent and tell them you could make the car good as new and protect it from any new damage from dents or scratches they might get pretty excited. So you wave your hand and the dent is gone along with any scratches, and tar from recent road repairs just glides off and drops to the ground. Now they're really excited! "That was amazing! And you're saying it'll just stay this way? In perfect condition? For as long as I own it?" You nod in the affirmative. Now, as you walk away you reach down and pick up the little girl they were just yelling at and head down the street. Gratitude turns to anger and they want to know where you're going with their kid. "Oh, that's the price. The child is now mine in exchange for a perfect finish on your precious car......" Now perspectives change radically. The finish on the car isn't nearly as important when you're faced with the true value of a treasure so recently taken for granted. In fact, you'd rather lose the new car completely......

For me, cancer was like that. Cancer cleared away the fog of busy-ness we allow ourselves to be caught up in and I was able to see once again the things that truly matter. Did I enjoy cancer? No. But if I could go back and choose to opt out of it, I wouldn't do it if it meant I lost the things gained by having gone through it.

That's my prayer for Brooke and for my aunt Karen. That cancer would be a tool that God uses in their lives to bring something of value to them that transcends the "circumstances" they'll find themselves in as a result of their diagnoses and treatments. I can't wave my hand and have their cancer not exist. It's there. It's real. But there is a name that is greater than the name of their particular type of tumor. He is also there. He is also real. And he has the testimony that he can bring beauty from the ashes of their circumstances. Oh, I'll also be praying that the treatments are effective and that cancer loses this round, make no mistake. But more importantly, I'll be praying that God does a work in their lives that is so great that they wouldn't give up the things they find on the other side of the experience in exchange for a smoother journey.