And, again, Lord, I thank you for my precious brother in law. I prayed for a special man for Tina for many years after my brother died and you sent her/us Mike and he was/is special. Thank you, Lord, for his love of Tina and her kids and his precious wonderful Christian self and his caring consideration to make certain that Danny stayed alive in their hearts.
Today is Mike’s birthday and he has been on my mind this morning. In honor of his birthday, I’m updating this post from March 2008 which typifies the way Mike thinks and is why we love him so much.
My youngest brother died almost 28 years ago. My sister-in-law wouldn’t even think of dating, much less marriage, for years. During those years I prayed for God to send Tina a special man. It took several years but God sent Mike and, happily and thankfully, things haven’t been the same since. Tina and Mike are parents to Aubrey, my 15 year old bonus niece.
In March 2008 our niece Brittany gave birth to a son who has his daddy’s good looks and love of baseball. Kason Wade, who gets his name from Daniel Wade, had to spend some time that day in the NICU under observation due to low blood sugar and swallowing meconium but he was fine in short order.
While Katie and I were visiting Brittany the day Kason was born, Mike sat down beside me, patted my knee and said, “I know that Danny is a proud grandpa today”. We both teared up and then we hugged. He said (not for the first time) how honored he is to get to stand in for Danny. Mike is the VERY excited Poppa to Kason and to the 4 other grandchildren, Beau, Easton, Travis, and Emerson (Emmy), born since that day .
Did I mention how much I love my brother in law who technically is not my brother in law?
There are very few better things in this world that a man could do than Be Like Mike.
Children, 10 and 6, are walking home from the park, by day. Someone calls the cops. The cops scoop up the kids and bring them home in a cruiser. And then — the nightmare begins. This is the story of the Meitiv family that I’ve been chronicling here and here for a couple months. Now it has hit TV:
My dad used to drop The Boys off on Friday evenings to camp at Rush Creek (a whole 2 miles from our home) for the weekend with tent and pellet guns and fishing pools. I keep hearing that the world is “different” now. It sure is…we had common sense and used our brains and weren’t scared of our own shadows back then.
So when my brothers were not yet teens David dubbed December 23 “Christmas Adam”. The name became a tradition in our family and amongst our friends. I have heard others refer to the day by that same nickname so either others think like a young David Fuller – a scary thought – or his name for today got around by word of mouth these past 40+ years.
I love all my cousins but I’m probably closer to my Fuller Cousins since we have yearly reunions but as children The Boys and I spent lots more time with our Payne Cousins than our Fuller Cousins.
My Payne Cousins
My children are in the following two photos with their first cousins but some of MY first cousins are
also in the photos.
My Fuller Cousins before their were 12 of us.
My kids and some of their Fuller Cousins.
Our children’s Fuller First Cousins
(Mama Max and her babies)
(Grandpa Joe and his girls)
My dad had very few regrets about his life. He lived full throttle and even during that last illness he joked that he was still on full throttle but full just wasn’t as fast as it once had been.
He did have a few regrets…he apologized to my mom, on her deathbed, for cheating on her and he told her he loved her, always had and always would. He told me more than once he regretted not getting to take Chris elk hunting and, although he didn’t mention it often, I think about the only other thing he really regretted at the end of his life was not getting to Alaska and climbing Denali (aka Mt McKinley). I wanted to give him plane tickets to Alaska and Caty was ready to give him room and board but it never happened. David and Terry both pointed out that he could afford the trip without our help and if he really wanted to go he would have gone. I suppose that’s true and I think he didn’t go because by the time he had time and money he didn’t have the energy, knees, or inclination to climb. I regret not insisting that he go just to see Alaska. I also hate that he never saw some of his favorite country musicians in concert. He had symphony season tickets for years and for many years he also had season tickets to the Austin and/or San Antonio Opera but he didn’t go to “regular” concerts. This month I’m doing a little something to correct both the things I regret on his behalf. Saturday we are going to George Strait’s Cowboy Rides Away Tour concert. In a few weeks Terry and I will at the base of Mt. McKinley as we stand in Denali NP. In both places I’m taking Daddy with me…in the form of a photo in my pocket.
To the one who is victorious, I will give the right to sit with me on my throne, just as I was victorious and sat down with my Father on his throne.
The broad top of Mount Rainier contains three named summits. The highest is called the Columbia Crest. The second highest summit is Point Success, 14,158 ft (4,315 m), at the southern edge of the summit plateau, atop the ridge known as Success Cleaver. It has a topographic prominence of about 138 ft (42 m), so it is not considered a separate peak. The lowest of the three summits is Liberty Cap, 14,112 ft (4,301 m), at the northwestern edge, which overlooks Liberty Ridge, the Sunset Amphitheater, and the dramatic Willis Wall. Liberty Cap has a prominence of 492 ft (150 m), and so would qualify as a separate peak under most of strictly prominence-based rules. A prominence cutoff of 400 ft (122 m) is commonly used in Washington state.
Mount Rainier, the most heavily glaciated peak in the contiguous United States, offers an exciting challenge to the mountaineer. Each year thousands of people successfully climb this 14,410 foot active volcano.
When I was a kid Daddy used to talk about climbing Mt. Rainier in Washington’s Cascade Mountains and Mt. McKinley in Alaska. He has never gotten to Alaska and Denali but my dad was 50 the year he climbed Mt. Rainier. Climbing Rainier calls for great planning and preparation. For over a year my dad did things here in Texas to prepare for that climb in Washington. He walked miles with a heavy backpack, he ran up and down bleachers to increase his lung endurance, he bought the correct shoes and clothing for the weather and his years of chasing elk in the mountains of Colorado assured him he understood the basics of the quest he was about to take.
David and his family were living in California back then because David was stationed out of the San Diego Naval Base. Daddy drove out to see David and Company and then they caravaned to Mt. Rainier National Park where Daddy prepared for his climb and David, Patti, Michelle and Mike enjoyed some fishing, hiking and fun family time.While the four were playing Daddy was continuing his preparations by attending a mandatory climb school. He learned how to maneuver with a rope line, move in his ice shoes and many other things. Finally it was The Day! He set off with his group of climbers and up they went. Many, but not all, of the climbers made it to the summit. Daddy was one who did. He signed the book at the top to prove he’d done it, had his picture taken, rested a short while and then they all headed back down. It’s a multi-day trip and David says Daddy was so tired when he got back to their camp all he did was tell him he was going to bed and then he crawled into his tent and slept for nearly a full day. He was exhausted but he’d done what he’d set out to do, climb and conquer Mt. Rainier.
This week my dad is conquering mountains again. He was put on a ventilator last week. He was in such bad shape when he went on the thing we feared we might never hear his voice again.After almost a week on the vent he has kicked the pneumonia and he is now off the ventilator. He is very weak and each day brings new challenges. Tuesday he started doing physical therapy and Wednesday was able to get into a chair and sit for a few minutes. On the vent his throat was paralyzed and he’s had to relearn to swallow. Starting slowly with ice chips and moving to sips of water has been a struggle for him as his dry mouth wanted to gulp gallons of water and his throat had to be re-trained. Thursday he was able to take 5 pills – one at a time – and not gag as they went down. These were the first pills he’s taken since being put on the ventilator. Since the only protocol for a couple of his regular medications is by mouth this was a tremendous victory.
Some mountains, like Rainier, are huge and some mountains, like swallowing pills, are small. Each requires specific planning and strength to overcome. Large or small the victory is just as sweet.
I’ll never conquer the mountains Daddy did in Colorado or in Washington State although I did conquer the one at Cottonwood Pass last year when we sprinkled his ashes. I hope I never have to conquer the mountain of re-learning to swallow. And, most of all, I hope that when I’m in my last days I have as few regrets about my life as Daddy did and that I’ve made peace with those around me I might have hurt like he did.