True Romance

Romance comes in many flavors. Movies and books show beautiful, “perfect” (pretty, impossibly thin, and with long flowing hair) princesses and “perfect” ( muscular, handsome, and large) princes. The Princess has a problem, the Prince rides in on his noble steed and rescues her, off to a castle where every day is sunny and there are servants who do all the work. There’s another type of romance, where the man lavishes flowers, jewelry, and chocolates on the woman for no special reason. There’s also the Taking Long Walks at Sunset on a Tropical Beach type of romance, the Giving Handmade Trinkets to Show You I Really Care flavor, and the I Wrote You a Poem Even Though I’m Not a Poet kind of romance. Now it’s even  supposed to be romantic when  a vampire loves a woman so much he wants to take away her mortal life. I admit to having a soft place in my heart toward all these definitions of romance; well, with the exception of that vampire thing. I’ll keep my own blood, thank you very much! While this is the stuff of fairy tales, after three decades of marriage I’ve discovered real life romance often looks very different.

Last week I had a whirlwind of medical appointments, including two with new practitioners. One of the appointments led to a medical procedure scheduled with less than 20 hours notice. The whole thing left me overwhelmed to the point of being pretty much useless for a while as I processed what was happening. My amazing husband got the next day off (while I was still talking to him on the phone) so he could be there for me. He took care of dinner that night, knowing the day had been hard on me, and the following morning he drove me to the procedure. I was in pretty rough shape when we got home, so he spent the next few hours sitting with me, watching me drift in and out of sleep, ready to call an ambulance or bring me chocolate, whichever emergency might come up.

That kind of love doesn’t show up in books or movies. It’s not exactly riveting, just watching someone sit in a room and watch someone sleep. But guess what? It is very romantic. Flowers are nice. Jewelry is nice. A box of chocolates is nice. But what, at the end of the day, is the romantic value of all those things? They say, “I love you. I want to be extravagant in showing how much I love you.” And guess what? So does taking a vacation day to sit and watch someone sleep, just in case there is the tiniest thing they can do for you. My husband spent one of his vacation days just to be there for me: to sit and make sure I was still breathing. (The ambulance emergency didn’t happen, but the chocolate emergency did. 🙂 ) He didn’t begrudge me the un-fun use of his vacation time. He didn’t find me not worth the effort, and he didn’t think I should be mature enough to not need his support. That, my friend, is true romance.

So, will someone be knocking at our door, begging to write our love story? Probably not anytime soon, but that’s just because the world doesn’t understand what true romance can, and should, be. The occasional gifts are nice, don’t get me wrong! I have yet to turn down a gift given out of love! It’s just that the flashy ones get all the good press, so it can be easy to miss the bigger expressions of a deep, abiding love. You know: the kind of love that is patient and kind, and keeps no record of wrongs. True romance.


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Physical Therapy Day 3, In Which I Learn Deep Water Walking is Harder than it Sounds, and Not Much Like Walking

I love going to the pool. I like the feeling of being in the water, and I like being able to exercise without feeling all sweating and disgusting. Because of this, when my physical therapist suggested I should skip walking the track and neighborhood for deep water walking, I was like, heck yeah! I don’t mind walking, I love being in the pool; I just hit the exercise jackpot!

For the uninitiated, deep water walking is where you strap on a really thick, wide, closed-cell foam belt, get in the deep end of the pool, and walk back and forth. The theory, in my case, is that this will allow me to get the benefit of walking while allowing the stress fractures in my feet to fully heal.

I had visions of walking nearly effortlessly around the pool, exercising my muscles while bobbing along like a three year old wearing floaties. That is, until Brian the Great asked the question, “So, if your feet don’t touch the bottom of the pool, how to you move forward?” Thank you, dear. Now I’m insecure… I googled it to learn how it works, and headed out first thing this morning, ready to have some fun.

The first sign I was in trouble was in getting the belt on. (The belt shall now and forever more be known as the Belt of Floundering.) My physical therapist had warned me to make sure it was tight enough that it didn’t ride up. I put it on, cinched it as tight as I could, and got in the pool. The belt was apparently afraid of the water, as it did everything it could to stay at the surface. If it weren’t for my armpits catching it, the Belt of Floundering might have slipped right over my head. I took it off while in the pool and discovered that trying to put something determined to float around your waist while up to your ears in water isn’t a good idea.

Once the belt was in place, I tried to walk. The therapist told me it was important to make sure I stayed completely upright and didn’t allow the belt to push me into a leaning forward posture. She failed to tell me the reason. Oh sure, she said something about it being bad for my lower back, but I learned the real reason. All it took was a little lean forward and the Belt of Floundering conspired to shove me WAY forward. As in, one degree more of leaning and I’m positive I would have ended up upside down in the pool, doing my best impression of a duck feeding on a lake. Bottoms up!

As for gently paddling around the pool, well, that proved to be elusive as well.  I soon discovered that the term “walking” is taken rather loosely in Deep Water Walking. It ended up being much more like Treading Water While Cross Country Skiing Up To Your Neck in Pudding. I was concerned that it would be a nuisance to turn frequently, since half of the pool was roped off for swimming lessons. I needn’t have worried. Any forward progress was so slow (and I’m convinced accidental) that I welcomed the turn in the middle of the pool just for the change in scenery. My arms were pumping, my legs were pumping, and there I was, in the middle of the pool, going nowhere.

Are we having fun yet?

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Filed under Medical Issues, Personal

Is it Cold in Here?

Yesterday I woke up earlier than usual because I was cold. I mean, really cold! Anyone who knows me knows what a big deal this is. I was concerned, figuring I must be getting sick and running a fever. That was Amanda’s conclusion when I mentioned it to her. If Mom is cold, something is seriously wrong. I snuggled under the covers, and even pulled up the super-thick comforter that we only use to make the bed look pretty. I knew I’d get too hot at some point and end up tossing the comforter aside, but for now it felt nice. I was shocked when I woke up an hour later, still under the comforter and not too hot. That’s when I knew I was starting a fever.

I reluctantly crawled out of bed and pulled a sweatshirt over my pj’s and snuggled under a blanket into a comfy chair to watch the early morning news. And I was still not warm enough. When I was a little more awake, I started to think through the problem. I thought about the guy we had to the house the night before to sell us a new furnace. I thought, all things considered, it was a fairly convenient time to have the thing break, since we already a new one ordered that would be installed in a couple days. The guy we had at the house. Hmm… He looked at the old furnace. I wonder if he turned something off while he was checking it? So, I padded downstairs in my pj’s, sweatshirt and snuggly blanket (please note, it was a snuggly blanket, NOT a Snuggy!) and checked the thermostat. It was still set to “heat”. Huh. Bummer. However, it said it was currently a good 10 degrees cooler than it normally is in the house. “No wonder I feel cold! I’m not getting sick!” was quickly followed by “…so the furnace is dead.” Bummer.

I padded down the next flight of stairs to the basement and into the utility room, just to make sure there was no possibility of resuscitation. I stood looking at the Mighty Furnace Monster that was the possible cause of my agony. I stared at it; it stared at me.

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And I thought: “I’ve seen a couple different repair guys take off that front panel, and they make it look easy. I can do that. I wonder where the switch is, though. I’ve never seen them flip a switch. It must be one of those reach-up-to-the-inside-of-the-front-panel thingies. Or maybe a behind-the-trumpety-heat thingies that shoot flames into the peeling-metal-thingy-they-said-could-crack-wide-open-any-day thingy. That would be bad. Uh…” And with that, I headed back upstairs where it was slightly warmer to nurse my indignation at being woken up early.

I called Brian to tell him what was going on, mostly because, even though it wouldn’t make me warmer, I had decided that whining to someone would make me feel better. His response was quick. He said, “Did you check the switch on the unit itself?” I gave him my story of woe, of how I was too intimidated to open it up and start feeling around inside the thing to find the switch. He told me that I didn’t have to open the unit, confident that it would be easy for me to find. I headed back down the stairs, pj’s, sweatshirt, snuggly blanket and all. I entered the utility room once again, with absolutely no confidence that I would be able to find the magical switch.

Scroll up and look at that picture of the furnace again. Did you notice the obvious electrical box mounted on the side of it? Me either… Not only was the switch on the outside of the furnace, it was red. As in, if-you-ever-need-a-switch-there’s-no-way-you-won’t-see-this red. As in, if-Wiley-Coyote-ever-bought- a-furnace-to-drop-on-the-Road-Runner-the-switch-would-look-like-this red.

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I mean, really. Who would make such a switch??? Although I suppose a better question is, what kind of person could possibly miss it???

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I entered the @EpiphanieBags Picture It photo contest! . The contest topic is “Green!” Here’s my entry. What do you think?

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Brian, Scholar Extraordinaire

Please join me  in celebrating the latest Beattie college graduate, Brian!

Yes, it’s true. My beloved has completed college, and with a GPA of 4.0! Although he made a huge push the last 2 years to make this happen, it’s a journey that started over 30 years ago. He graduated from high school with high grades (graduating 15th in a class of 435 students) and dreamed of going to college, but the money just wasn’t there. Instead, he signed up for the Air Force, being assigned a job as a computer operator. He excelled at that (of course!) and ended up getting assigned as a programmer, writing a program that was used internationally by the Air Force. During this time he took college classes as he was able, and CLEP’ed out of a few other classes.

In 1983 he completed his commitment to the Air Force and got a job  working as a programmer. Now that he was financially stable, we got married and moved to the desert where his new job was. At first he wouldn’t take classes, because he felt bad making a commitment to anything that would interfere with us spending time together, but I encouraged him to go for it, knowing how much it meant to him.

Over the next couple years he took just a class a semester in order to not have his classes be a burden to me (although I wouldn’t have minded). When Amanda was born he took some time off from school in order to be able to with the family as much as possible, but he finally started back, one class at a time. It didn’t take long before he gave it up, not being comfortable not being fully available to his family. I felt bad about it, but he would have it no other way, wanting to be the best, most available husband and father he could be.

Through the years the subject came up now and then, but he refused to entertain the idea of going back to college, feeling the cost to the rest of us would be too high.  During those years money went for our kids to take dance classes, piano lessons, play little league, take gymnastics, and be homeschooled, but no college for Brian. Then it went to put both kids through Bible college. A couple years ago when God miraculously provided money for Brian to return to college, he fought it for a while, knowing there was much good that could be done for others with that money, but I finally convinced him it was his turn.

For the two years since then, Brian continued to work his full-time, high-responsibility job, and spent just about every free minute working on being a full-time student. I razzed him a little about it once, and he said, “I did NOT go back to school to not get A’s!” It’s impossible to not love a heart like that! He held on to that through the whole program, in spite of some dud classes and a couple dud professors.

But, don’t get the idea that Brian turned over a new leaf and started looking out for himself instead of his family. His sacrifice continued right up to the end. After three decades of working on his degree, wouldn’t you know that his graduation was scheduled for the same weekend as our son’s. In typical Brian- fashion, Brian chose to make the trip to Kansas City for Adam’s graduation rather than attend his own. So while his classmates were celebrated in front of hundreds a month ago, he will be celebrated tonight with just me.

Oh, and just so you know, there’s another thing that hasn’t changed in all these years. He’s still class clown…




Filed under Family, Personal

Adam Dances!

Yes, it’s true. Although he doesn’t talk about it much these days, Adam took dance lessons for a few years when he was a kid. I think he was about four or five when he started. (He also played the piano for a few years, but you didn’t hear that from me!) I guess being around dance studios and recitals from the time he was a toddler finally got to him.

I still remember the day I signed him up for classes. I walked into the studio and told Ms. Gloria Adam wanted to take dance classes. She turned to him and said, “So you want to learn to dance, do you?” to which he replied,”But Ms. Gloria, I already know how to dance!” She in turn asked him what kind of dance he did. He replied, “Wacky dancing!” then set about proving it. Ms. Gloria and I agreed that his dancing was, in fact, wacky.

Adam soon realized there was a great perk to being the only boy in the studio, namely, he was the center of attention for every dance he was in. His first year he was the teddy bear in “Teddy Bear Parade”. I won’t show you the photo of him in that costume, because I’d really like it if he was still talking to me after I post this! It was either the first or second year he also starred in the production number “Boy from New York City”. Doo wop, doo wop, doo doo dity. There’s something unbearably appealing about a preschooler in a suit and fedora! The dance started with the little girls in the class in a chorus line on stage, and as the music started Adam strutted in from stage right. As he stepped out from behind the wing curtain the crowded auditorium went nuts, with people applauding and cheering at his macho cuteness. He really was quite the dude! Be honest, now; wouldn’t you cheer for this strutting across the stage:

During his dance career, he had happy feet. I remember walking through  Sam’s Club with him tapping his way up and down the aisles. When we switched studios, the new studio required everyone that took classes to include at least one class of clogging, so that got folded into the repertoire. Yes, that’s right. Adam Beattie has appeared on stage wearing a sparkly cowboy shirt and clogging his little heart out. He also wore a shiny black suit to tap to “Men in Black”, and red lycra pants to dance to “Alexander’s Ragtime Band”, among others.

As he got older he decided to end his dance career, concerned that his baseball teammates wouldn’t quite get it, or let him live it down. While I was sad to see it end, I understood, too. Kids can be pretty rotten to each other with very little provocation. But, while he was involved in dance, he was really good, so my guess is it’s still in there somewhere, just waiting for a chance to be released and flourish once again. Maybe I should let someone in charge at Forerunner Arts know if they need a tap dancer, he’s their man… Or maybe not. Like I said, I’d really like it if he continued to like me… 🙂


Filed under Family

Adam the Superhero

Take a good look at this photo. It’s one of the last photos you’ll see of Adam in a button-up shirt.  It was taken on the Fourth of July in Houston, as we were waiting for the fireworks to start. Sometime in the following couple of years he went on revolt and refused to wear anything but Tshirts, except on the rare occasion when it was required, such as for a costume. It didn’t matter how hard we tried to convince him, he only wanted Tshirts. When he was older I asked him why he didn’t like button-up shirts, and he informed me they were too much work; Tshirts were easier. It wasn’t until he was 17, though, that the truth came out.

He had been working at Subway for a while, a job that required he wear a polo shirt with (gasp!) three buttons. He put up with it, I think because the buttons were nothing compared to the stench of cheap bread and pickles the shirts always carried. Through a woman at church he heard of a Christian bookstore that was hiring, so he applied after work one day. He got the job on the spot, in spite of the fact that he showed up in his Subway uniform, complete with stinky pickle essence! The one drawback to the new job? He had to wear a button-up shirt and tie. Adam made the wise decision that the job was worth it, so we made a quick trip to Kohl’s to buy a couple of shirts and ties.

He looked SO sharp on his first day of the new job! When he came home from the job, though, he was wearing a Tshirt. I didn’t think too much of it until it happened every day. I asked him what was up and he confessed that he was wearing a Tshirt under his work shirt and tie every day, and would pull the business wear off as soon as he got in his car. (You have to understand these weren’t your typical underwear type Tshirts; these were normal wear-on-the-outside kinds of Tshirts. And it was Tulsa, in the summer!) He informed me that the Tshirt was necessary, because it protected him from the shirt buttons. “Because, you know Mom, shirt buttons are my cryptonite!” and with that his secret identity was revealed; he is, in fact, Captain Tshirt. I offered to make him a cape, but he had seen “The Incredibles” and knew that capes are SO last century, so turned down my offer.

Although he doesn’t generally speak of it (because he’s humble like that) he is still Captain Tshirt. His feats of heroism remain a secret well kept, but I have no doubt but what they are amazing indeed.

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