Thursday, August 27, 2009

I know she's perfect...

I know she's perfect because the night before we got married God threw a rainbow across the sky after a hellish spring storm. Except we didn't get married in the spring. We got married in February. Symbolism much?
I know she's perfect because, when we were on our honeymoon in Charleston, Jimmy Buffett just happened to be doing a concert at the North Charleston Coliseum. Buffett don't just to show up to play for just anybody's honeymoon...he knew I'd done well.
I know she's perfect because she gets tears in her eyes watching animals play - whether it's dolphins off Tybee Island or a dog in the backyard. There's a rare soul living behind that pretty face.
I know she's perfect because she knows EXACTLY how many drops of vermouth to put in my martini (and, given a choice she knows I'd rather have a jalapeno stuffed olive than just a plain one.)
I know she's perfect because when it's college football season she walks in the door after work on Monday and says "Who's the Thursday night game this week????"
I know she's perfect because she does funky dances in the kitchen whenever I play Mother's Finest or Rush in the living room.
I know she's perfect because if she could be anywhere in the world she'd be sitting on a beach somewhere with 1 bucket of boiled shrimp and 1 bucket of cold Coronas (Ok, so the Coronas are for me..she'd have something with a lot of fruit and an umbrella.)
I know she's perfect because, when we had a chance to view my Mother at the funeral home she whispered to her "Don't worry about anything Erfy...I'm always going to take good care of Tim."

...and she does.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Mama, baseball and dogs........

So I happen to see a guy wearing a t-shirt with a picture of Skip Caray on it and on the front it says "Hello Again Everybody...." On the back it simply says "So Long Everybody" I thought "I've GOT to have one of those t-shirts..." (To somehow tie this back into the point of this blog - my weight loss surgery - I'll say that it's awfully nice to be able to find and wear cool t-shirts again..I love me some t-shirts, but it's hard to find a good one in size giant.) I did a Google search on "Skip Caray t-shirt." I still haven't found the t-shirt but I did find this article from one of my favorite sportswriters Jack Wilkinson. He wrote for the Journal/Constitution for 20-something years and has written four books on Georgia Tech sports (which makes him a good guy in Tim's world.) He mentions having the t-shirt I'm looking for (and still haven't found) and, as usual, tells a good story about his relationship with Skip and how much he misses him.

The first thing I noticed about the article was the name of the website - "Like The Dew." It'll take anyone raised in these parts back to a time when one of the Atlanta papers (can't remember which...the Journal?) "covered Dixie like the dew..." So that was a good memory and prompted to me to bookmark this site for future reading. But what really caught my eye was the fact that Skip was buried with the ashes of several of his dogs. I'll put ego and macho aside momentarily to tell you that my eyes immediately filled with tears. Back in the spring two of my favorite souls on this planet were buried together when we had Mother's funeral. The day of her funeral we slipped the canister holding Buzz's ashes in her casket with her. It was a 'full-circle' moment of the umpteenth degree.
Buzz was a BIG, black Labrador Retriever. I'll probably always have dogs. I've seldom found one that I didn't love and that didn't love me. But no matter how much I love another one, there was only one Buzz. He was the Babe Ruth of dogs. He had the overwhelming desire to love and be loved that all Labs have. But there was a different edge to him - it was his world and we just lived in it...and he knew it! No conversation slipped by without his notice. He'd sit in a room full of people and turn his head back and forth listening to everything everyone said. He loved us all but it was obvious that he worshipped Mother. The intuitive sixth sense that all dogs seem to have let him know that she was the matriarch of the family. If he was in a mood to be hard-headed about something, Mama was the only one who could put the fear of God in him. A slam of her cane on the hardwood floors in her house coupled with a sharp "BUZZ!! WHAT ARE YOU UP TO??" could send this 130 pound bear of a dog into a fetal position.
In 2003, I turned 40 one week and Buzz died the next week. Honest to God, people sent sympathy cards. Everyone knew that he wasn't just a dog he was family. Mother was already in the early stages of Alzheimer's so she was initially spared the sadness the rest of us felt. But one Sunday afternoon not long after he died we took her to lunch. At some point she heard me mention Maggie (the yellow lab who had the unenviable position of replacing Buzz.) When she asked who Maggie was, I said "that's the dog that lives with Rhonda and me." She said firmly "BUZZ IS YOUR DOG." Uh-oh.... I went ahead and told her the truth. This woman who no longer had sense of time nor place suddenly had her eyes fill with tears while she gritted her teeth. She whispered "you should've told me." Looking back it was probably the last time I had the honor being scolded by my mother. The only blessing to her condition was that a moment later she had forgotten.
Mama loved to listen to Skip call a game. The fact that he was so good at what he did probably got him a free pass with her. Generally speaking, she had little tolerance for folks that were prone to make off-color jokes, speak rudely or were "bad to drink." But, because he could make her passion come alive on a radio or television he got that free pass. She liked him and she liked his father. They were - in her words - "baseball people." So when I read that Skip had been buried with some of his favorite dogs those aforementioned tears showed up. Mama would be the proud that she and Skip had something in common. The commonalities probably end there...Mama was never rude and never bad to drink.
Now I've got to get back to hunting down that t-shirt......

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

365 days

I started to begin this post by alluding to the fact that it's been one year since my life changed. But it would be better stated to say that it's been one year since my life BEGAN to change. Every single day there's something new that blows my mind as to how different the day to day stuff has become for me.
I park wherever I want to wherever I go. I used to have to strategically plan parking at any public lot. There had to be room enough for me to get out of my truck (meaning a car couldn't be parked on the driver's side) and I had to be close enough to the door so that my heart wouldn't explode while walking into wherever I was going.
This sounds silly - but when walking from the parking deck to my office used to be five or 10 minutes of sheer panic. "Folks are watching the fat guy walking and sweating" (even if in February.) "Folks are walking up behind the fat guy and walking around him because he's too slow...we're winners and he's a loser!!" I would stop and act like I was reading the headlines on the newspaper at the machine posted by the stairs. I was actually getting up enough breath to take another twenty or thirty steps. I now make a mad dash from truck to desk because I can. I park as far as away as possible and dash. If I hear anyone walking behind me I walk faster, certain that whoever is putting down the footsteps I'm hearing is one of the goobers that used to pass me and make me feel like crap about myself. (No, I'm not THAT stupid...I know the folks that passed me were just going about their day and weren't giving me a second thought...that's just how my mind worked in those days.)
I've actually been the recipient of some direct flirtations. One night at the ballpark a young lady asked me for my phone number. I figure she'd just turned her back on some vows and escaped from the convent and hadn't seen a man in years. I might've lost a substantial amount of weight but Brad Pitt I ain't. Anyway, I assured this poor soul that I was very happily married. I told my bride the whole story and she was torn between being wanting to strangle the guilty party or thank her for boosting my ego. I told her she had no worries...there was a time in my life when I thought drunk girls were pretty cool. Now I just think they're a pain in the butt.
I now walk into stores and try on things at random. Even things I would never wear, I try them on. Do you know how good it felt to walk through a big & tall store a few weeks ago and have a hard time finding stuff because everything was too big?
Along with the good has been some bad. Mother's gone. Aunt Jean's gone. But I really do believe that the fact that my life is once again my own makes the hurts a bit easier to manage. I can't imagine what it would've been like to have still been miserable and hating myself while I watched the woman that raised me slip away. I really do think it's something I wouldn't have recovered from. Now I can live the life she gave me and can make her proud while doing it. I think she'd be most pleased that I've spent more time this summer at baseball games than I have in the last ten years combined (literally.) Going to baseball games and getting paid for it???? She'd be most pleased.