I was 12 years old, laying on the floor as the afternoon sun faded away and doing my homework for my 6th-grade reading class for the next day.
The workbook was this stapled-together, quarter ream of light green pages that consisted of various English comprehension skills. I don’t recall it being difficult but do remember having that “big kid” feeling of being proud to have homework for school the next day.
Mike was 26 and talking through a tape recorder that we had started to use to send letters back and forth with. People had been doing that for years, but this cassette was almost two weeks old and from a land that I had a tough time understanding.
My oldest brother was talking about how things were going for him in the UAE.
Some months before that, my dad and I dug into the, dated but still relevant, collection of encyclopedia books in our house that they bought some time before my memories begin. At that point, these books might have been considered to be on the edge of being outdated, but I trusted those books with my fair share of reports that spared me having to go to the library up until that point. And sure enough, those musty books had information about the United Arab Emirates, and Mike was about to be stationed there with his Air Force squadron.
He went to college with the intent of enlisting to become a pilot, and I was always in such awe with all things military.
We have a deep history of people in my family who served in almost all branches of the armed forces, but Mike was the first one in ours.
Growing up as a kid in the wanning days of the Cold War and having other kids in the neighborhood with similar history in their extended families, the threat of conflict was always there. It became a fascination.
In the backseat of the car, Dad was driving, Mom in the passenger seat, 600 WMT on the radio, and the sun well below the horizon on a cold, fall night.
We had made the odd, Tuesday night run into Cedar Rapids to hit Sam’s Club, loading up the trunk with all sorts of bulk goods. Looking back on it now, maybe it was to get their minds off of what was going on that day. Usually these trips were a weekend event.
I can still remember not being very far from leaving the outskirts of the “big city” and going through the darkness of the country. We had been listening to the results come in on the radio the whole way there, but on the way home, the special bulletin hit.
Bill Clinton had been declared the winner and would become the next president.
In that backseat, I felt fear. Staring out into the darkness, I felt dread. My mind spiraled to the point where I felt like the world was going to end. The announcement scared me to my core.
I can’t remember what my parents said to each other about it, but they weren’t happy.
And then I just remember being cold.
I think about that night quite often. I think about those times quite often.
Anthony told the people in the row ahead of him and a few of the people around him that he was going to do it. He was going to do a selfie. And he was true to his word.
I had two nephews graduate from high school recently. They’re in the same grade and same school. Ben was born in the fall. Anthony in the spring.
They didn’t go to the exact, same high school I went to, but we’re all still from the same hometown. I’m proud to be their uncle. And as much as I would have loved to be there as they went through the process of becoming men, at least I was there on the day that childhood ended and real life begins.
Rebecca and I got back yesterday from a one week stay in Kansas City, MO. My mother grew up there, and it’s where my parents met and got married. The road that took our family to Iowa is a whole other tale, but there is still a large portion of extended family that lives in and around KCMO.
My grandmother turned a young 90 years old this past Wednesday, so that, of course, means one thing for a family with hefty Mexican roots. It’s a party, and I think I’m still recovering.
Otherwise, this trip was a chance to get away from the craziness in Vancouver, enjoy some family, and relax a little bit. I’ll let the pictures do most of the talking, and you can see more of them in the Flickr set.
Truly the “City of Fountains”.
I haven’t been able to find Mexican bread as good as this in Vancouver.
My mom and my aunt, but you can’t see the three pitchers of sangria that were absolutely amazing.
And the scene of the crime.
It was a really great week in Kansas City. Hot, but great to see all of my family. Hopefully a trip to Iowa can be the next leg when we go to visit, but now we’re anxious to show them some of the sites here. Pictures can’t do KC or Vancouver justice, both great in their own right.
I know that I am late to mention anything about Rebecca having her birthday on the ninth, but I’ve been far too busy to stop and mention it in a blog post. That’s not to say that we haven’t been busy celebrating her birthday nearly all week. From dinner to a Canucksgame, we’ve just been going and going with a variety of fun things.
Regardless, let me take a moment to wish her, my wife and partner in crime, a happy birthday. 🙂
My grandmother has been asking me to write her for a while now. I think it’s strange how the internet culture makes sending a letter so foreign, if not almost difficult to do. With the advent of email, blogging, instant messaging, and so on, sending mail just seems… strange.
The tough thing about sending a letter is that it’s still tough to convey everything you want to, especially to my 89 year old grandmother who doesn’t really do email, even though video conversations through iChat is something she’s familiar with. So with this monster of a printer that we have in the apartment right now, I thought I would put something together to send her.
The print quality of all the pictures really turned out well. I didn’t think that it would be too much of a problem, but it still surprised me. Using Google Docs, I can write something and then wait to get home to print it on our sweet Brother Printer.
I have a nephew by the name of Zach that I probably don’t mention enough. He is almost ten years old and has a condition known as Angelman Syndrome[wiki]. It’s a rare form of a mental handicap that slows the nervous system from developing at an average to normal rate.
Angelman Syndrome (AS) is a rare neuro-genetic disorder named after a British pediatrician, Dr. Harry Angelman, who first described the syndrome in 1965. AS is characterised by intellectual and developmental delay, speech impediment, sleep disturbance, unstable jerky gait, seizures, hand flapping movements, frequent laughter/smiling and usually a happy demeanour. [wikipedia]
Even more rare to the point is that Zach also has a form of albinism. The chance of a person being born with both of these conditions is less than 1%. Our family goes to great lengths to make sure that we keep a hat on his head when outside, but he has grown pretty accustomed, if not quite hip, to keeping the sunglasses on his face.
Caring for a child with AS can be tough, and my brother’s family have done a lot to consistently adjust to Zach’s needs. This is outside of the need of special beds, wheelchairs, car accommodations, or simple daily assistance. Even though his development is slower than the average child, turning corners can be quick. You have to be on your feet and be prepared for anything, and the kid can surprise you with the way he interacts or problem solves something unexpectedly. Speech and walking is still something to be worked on, but he has developed his own form of communication over time. It would almost seem that his older brother, Ben, is the expert interpreter.
The other day, my brother emailed me with a news story that actor Colin Farrell[imdb] has recently announced that his son also has AS.
Hollywood superstar Colin Farrell yesterday opened his heart and revealed that his four-year-old son James is a special-needs child.
The renowned Irish actor revealed that his treasured son was born with a rare form of cerebral palsy called Angelman Syndrome. […]
And he said that he is dedicated to helping his son reach his own “individual potential” and to be “as happy as he can be.”
”With my son the only time I’m reminded that there is something different about him – that he has some deviation of what is perceived to be normal – is when I see him with other four-year-olds.
“Then I go “oh yeah” and it comes back to me. But from day one I felt that he’s the way he’s meant to be.” [independent.ie]
Now it can be said that Farrell has had his share of not so good exposure in the Hollywood limelight, but for those who seek to raise awareness of AS, the actor is doing some good for the cause. His support to the Special Olympics is giving me extra consideration to the fact of the 2010 Paralympic Games coming to Vancouver. They are different events in their own right, but I still hope that I can lend my efforts to help support the cause in Zach’s honor as well.
Zach is a strong, little boy right now, and everyday presents new developments. I don’t get to see him as much as I used to, but we say hello to each other on iChat every so often. Even there I can tell that his cognitive functions have changed. And when I say that he’s strong, that can be an understatement. You never know if he could end up being in the Special Olympics himself, doing some greco-roman wrestling perhaps, and you can ask his older brother about that.
To find out more about Angelman Syndrome, visit angelman.org. Their mission “is to advance the awareness and treatment of Angelman Syndrome through education and information, research, and support for individuals with Angelman Syndrome, their families and other concerned parties.”
I’m jealous. She got these for bike riding. With my shin splint, I’m reduced to walking for a few weeks. The pain is just too much, but these are completely the type of shoes I’d want for working everyday. Can’t wear the flip flops when hauling stuff around, not to mention with all the rain we get in Vancouver.
My dad had an epiphany while he was visiting us in Vancouver back in April. Instead of one really huge monitor, you can get a lot more out of having two. When I told him about having three, I think that kinda blew his mind.
Chris Pirillo, who apparently I am a lookalike of, posted about this today, so I sent it on to Dad. He replies, “I already have one.”
“There is no way I’ll go back to the single monitor on my work setup. It is too nice; too productive; too fun; and a new world all together.”
Designing electronics like he does, it makes a whole lot of sense, eh?