It’s been quite a while since I have written anything here, I believe about a year and a half. Life happens and gets in the way of things we want to do, old habits die and new ones form.
What has been going on you ask? Well, a lot of things. For starters my relationship with my girlfriend Jennifer hit its two year mark at the end of October, we are talking about getting engaged. If you know me outside the internet, you know this is a huge thing. She has been a rock, has been there for me through some very hard times in the last couple of years and is my inspiration in everything. I do love her and her daughters.
So, what else has happened? Well I became very involved in work stuff. Our base put on an open house/car show/street fair back in October of 2013 called the China Lake Community Day and I was deep in the middle of the planning and execution of that. In fact it was the biggest car and motorcycle show in the history of the Indian Wells Valley. Spinning out of that the Vice Commander, me, and a couple others formed the Sidewinder Motor club. It’s a club of car, truck, motorcycle…and just all around vehicle “enthusiasts.” You can find us on Facebook 🙂 We have been very active helping with other clubs car shows, putting on our own “Motor Grounds” events every month (essentially a cars and coffee meet) and yet another Community Day this year.
My dad had a stroke on Thanksgiving last year, or maybe the day after, or he had multiples, we really are not too clear on that. I was getting ready to pick up a rental car the day after Thanksgiving and was packing my bags for a two week trip to Yorktown Virginia for the Radiation Safety Program Management class, when I received a phone call from the owner of Torres Steak House in Inyokern. Francis (the owner) has been a friend for years and my dad formed a habit of driving the hour to her restaurant every day just to hang out. Well he drove up that day, either after just having a stroke or was about to have the stroke, walked in and ordered some food. Francis recognized that he was in trouble and called the ambulance, which angered my dad. He stumbled and fell his way outside to have a cigarette and wait for the ambulance. Francis called me, and I met my dad and the ambulance at the hospital. Once the hospital here was able to get past their own incompetence and recognize my dad had suffered a stroke, they sent him to the stroke center in Bakersfield. A day later he was transferred to Stanford University Medical Center. The neurosurgeon at Stanford informed my brothers, sister, and I that dad had an un-burst aneurism on his carotid artery at the base of his brain. It was one of the biggest they had ever seen, untreatable in any way due to the deterioration of his blood vessels from a lifetime of smoking and hard living and gave him maybe six months to live, unless he made a drastic life change. Even then, there was know way of knowing how long he would have.
We eventually moved him in to an apartment here in town, where my brother and I took care of him and helped him recover as much as he could, which was quite a bit. He was able to drive, walk almost three miles a day and generally take care of himself with some oversight. He pushed very hard to be on his own, to the point where he was lying and causing some strife between us. My brother and I let him move back home, where he immediately started smoking again after four months of not touching a cigarette, started eating unhealthy food and just generally started living life how he wanted to, damn the consequences.
Two days before Fathers Day I received a call from one of my dads friends. She saw my dads car at a restaurant in Kramer junction, but my dad was no where to be found. The waitress said that he had walked in the restaurant a couple days before and just collapsed, so they called an ambulance. After calling various hospitals my brother and I found that my dad was down in Loma Linda and unconscious. A week later my brothers, me, and one of my sisters made the decision to pull my dad off of the breathing machine. The youngest of my sisters (who is ten years older than I am, and the youngest of my dads four kids with his first wife) and I were with my dad, holding his hand, when he passed at 5:35AM, June 21st.
One dark and stormy day in December, while my dad was in the hospital after the initial stroke, I decided to drive to Bakersfield to see him. I was just outside of Inyokern when I was hit by a Microburst (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Microburst). Well the weather report said that the wind during this Microburst got up to 95mph, which I believe. The wind was carrying gravel, sticks, and anything else that 95mph wind can carry. It hit my Challenger with a hellacious sound and by the time it was done, it looked like someone took a commercial sandblaster and raked it across my car. Some spots were down to bare metal, the glass was frosted and almost impossible to see out of, the A/C Condenser was trashed…it was a mess. The best part, due to snow in Tehachapi the pass was closed and I couldn’t make it to Bakersfield anyway. I went through that for nothing. One GEICO claim and three damn months in the shop later, I got my car back…and the black paint looked like hell. Swirls, holograms, and scratches all over the finish. I took it back, they buffed some of the real bad stuff out and admitted they messed up. I took it two hours down to the nearest GEICO rep, he said it just needed a little polishing and the car would be fine. Back to the same shop, where all they did was give it a good coat of expensive wax. I called the GEICO guy to complain and set up with another shop, but of course he wouldn’t return any of my calls. About that time my dad passed and I was dealing with that for a while. Kind of lost my will to fight over car paint. I did find a professional detailer that I paid a few hundred dollars to buff and polish the car. It does look a lot better, but not factory. At this point it has been so long that it’s not worth fighting over. I love my car, but I will never own another black car again. Especially in the desert.
About a month ago, my Aunt (moms sister and I use the term Aunt loosely) and her husband drove down from Mt. Shasta area to visit my grandparents. My grandparents are in their mid 80’s (grandpa turns 86 this month and grandpa is 85) and have been ill a lot lately. My grandmother was sick at the time, but refused to see a doctor. It was bad enough that my aunt called my mom and asked her to drive down to Boron, they wanted to try and convince my grandma to go to a hospital and convey the seriousness of how sick she was to my grandfather. I went because I’m about the only person my grandpa will seriously listen to within what is left of the family. My grandmother continued to refuse to see anyone, even though she had a fever, hadn’t eaten in days, was dehydrated, and pulse oxygen was low. My grandfather refused to take my grandma to the hospital against her wishes. I believe he did not want to realize just how sick she was, he was too scared and this is a man that doesn’t scare. She ended up losing consciousness, so we called the ambulance. One the way to the hospital in Lancaster with my grandfather, he revealed just how scared he is to lose my grandmother. This is not a man that shares his feelings well or often, but like I said, he talks to me. She is okay now, a few days in the hospital and antibiotics fixed her up nicely. However, she was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s and it does show. Same with my grandfather, he is slipping. My mom and I are spending more time with them these days, helping them out around the house, spending time with them, etc.
It’s hard seeing them this way. Very hard.
Speaking of hospitals, I was in the ER with my mom until 2am one day last week. No big deal, just getting really really sick of hospitals.
Want some good news after all that?
I mentioned that I was supposed to go to the Radiation Safety Program Management class in Yorktown. My dad’s initial stroke derailed those plans, but I was able to go in mid May. I was a fairly fun two weeks with some pretty good people. The class itself was horrid; not taught well, disorganized, ten different teachers teaching different things. No one really learned much of anything. We all had fun at night and on the weekend though. I went with a guy from down in Seal Beach and we hit up museums, historical sites, etc. Yes, I find history fun…I’m a nerd, get over it. We hit up a bar one Friday night with some people from class. Line dancing, mechanical bull riding, and pool. It was the PBR Bar outside of Newport News, fun place, you should go if you get a chance.
I received a promotion at work! I’m now officially the NAVOSH Deputy Installation Program Director for China Lake (NAVOSH stands for Naval Occupational Safety and Health). I received a nice bump in pay from GS-11 to GS-12, added work on top of the work I was already doing, a little more respect from some, some jealousy and anger from others and some good natured ribbing on the title of Deputy. I was even called Barney and Festus once or twice.
So that is the last year in a nutshell, really just the events in the last year. As for what I am doing now, well I am just screwing around at work and killing time before lunch. I’ll get back to work when I am done here 🙂
Now you may be wondering (or you in fact may not give a rodents rectum) on why I am now writing, when I have not written anything in so long. I’m not sure really, I just had the urge to write. I have random thoughts rattling around in my skull that want to get out before they die of loneliness I guess. So, maybe I will be doing this more often.