New things

I'm getting old. I have a house plant. Yep. I do. I have two of them, actually. And I feel this huge responsibility and, well, burden to keep them alive. So far so good. One of them is called a prayer plant. It's so beautiful! It was actually a plant that Mama, Mike, Mamaw, and Pap sent when Papaw passed away. There were so many flowers and plants that the funeral home stopped taking them and put the rest on a "hold account." Basically, people bought flowers, but the actual order was held. We'll just go get them whenever we want to put new flowers out there. I swear there are enough flowers to last another 15 years.  So anyway, I brought this plant home. At first, I didn't want one. I didn't want to look at a plant and think of my Papaw's funeral everyday. I decided that it would just remind me of him, not of a certain day or place or time. It does. I think it's pretty ironic that it's a "prayer plant," considering the circumstances. It's pretty. It's homey. I like it.

So I went over to my cousin Paige's house, and she has quite the collection of house plants. I was telling her that I'm trying my hardest not to kill my one plant. So what does she do? She gives me another one! I'm pretty dadgum excited about this one. It's an aloe plant. I told Mama that I hoped someone gets burned soon so I could whip it out, break a leaf off, and use it! I know that's terrible. I just meant a small, first degree, wimpy burn. Don't worry, I'm not going to throw boiling water on any houseguests. Be not afraid. Grayce may eat it first, anyway.

I guess actually I have 3 plants. One stays outside though. I'm pretty proud of it. Mama gave me and Katie both a gerbera daisy for Easter. I don't know why. She knows I don't do plants. However, I did keep it alive for about a month. Then I went home for a month to study for the Step. Do you think Katie watered my plant? Absolutely not. AND it got put on the ground (as opposed to the table where it lives), and Polo peed on it! Repeatedly! Upon my return, my plant was pretty dead. Hers was dead too, but she wasn't as heartbroken as I was. (Who do you think had been watering her plant since Easter?) Mine had a little bit of green left in a couple of stems, so per my mother's instructions, I cut off all the dead parts and started watering it. Lo and freakin behold it came back to life! I'm thrilled. I took some pretty pictures of them before. Mine is red; Katie's was pink. Before:

Red gerbera post-rebirth:

Enough with the plants. Gah.

I thought I was going to have one more "new" thing to put on my post, but thanks to Bonnie, it'll have to wait. Project spraypaint-my-rusty-old-iron-table has been postponed. Stay tuned.

Lastly, I just want to say that I've received so many messages, comments, emails, and texts about my last post. Thank you all for your sweet words, but I just spoke the truth. My grandfather was, is, and always will be an inspiration for me.  I'm so lucky to have had such an extraordinary man in my life for so long :)


Papaw Buster

Most of you who read my blog know that my Papaw died last week. He was absolutely an amazing man. He means so much to me, and I want to share his incredible story. 

"I am now ready. I fought a good fight. I have kept the faith. There is laid up for me a crown of righteousness." 2 Timothy 4:6-8

Papaw's name was Harry, but most people apparently didn't know that. He went by "Buster." He was one of nine children born to my great-grandparents, Ma and Grandpa Arnold (Ma lived to be 102 years old!). Being the last of 7 boys, I guess they'd run out of names because he was the only one that wasn't given a middle name. His oldest sister decided she wasn't thrilled about the name Harry and announced that she would be calling him Buster. And so she did. And so did everyone else. Once when he was in the hospital, I didn't know which room he was in, and I remember saying to Matt, "Do you think I should ask the desk about Harry or Buster?" 

Papaw worked in the oil field. He was the driller. At the age of 39, he had an accident on one of those rigs that left him paralyzed. Being in medical school, I've heard so many professors and older doctors tell us that patients are not their diseases. He's not a paraplegic, he's a man who happens to be paralyzed. See the difference? Don't define the person by his illness. In Papaw's case, I don't want to define him by his condition, but I think that he is absolutely defined by his reaction to it. 

He was 39 years old with 4 young children. Paralyzed. He'd never walk again. After his accident, doctors told my grandmother that he wouldn't live until nightfall. He did. Then they said he wouldn't live until morning. He did. Then they said he'd live a few days. He did. Then weeks, months. Then doctor after doctor told him that if he lived 5 or 6 years, he'd be lucky. That'd be a long life. Wrong. He lived 42 and a half years, which is unheard of. He watched his children grow up and give him 8 grandchildren. Then he got to know his 7 great-grandchildren. He outlived the doctors that told him he'd die. I think he thought that was funny, in a twisted sort of way.

The thing about my Papaw was that in my 24 years of life, I have never once heard him complain about being in a wheelchair. He was never bitter; he never said "why me?" He never got angry. He never gave up. He never used being paralyzed as an excuse for anything. I never knew him any differently, but I never thought he was really handicapped. He could get in and out of his chair and his bed by himself. He could get in and out of his car. He drove a blue Bonneville with hand controls, and I swear that must have been the biggest car ever made. That tan, leather backseat was big enough to do cartwheels in. He was an amazing cook, known from Franklin County to Jones County for his chili and coleslaw. He did laundry. He rolled his wheelchair out into the garden and picked vegetables. He shelled peas with the rest of us. He went anywhere he wanted to go. Just about the only thing he couldn't do was walk. He had a pair of wooden "arms"--pincher things so he could get things off the top shelf by himself. He made the best of his situation. He made it clear that he did not need anyone's help, either. His independence was everything to him. He couldn't put us up on his shoulders and carry us around as children, but he could let us stand on the spokes that stuck out behind his wheelchair and ride us around. We thought that was pretty fun. Even better than a shoulder ride. 

I once heard someone ask him if he ever wished he could walk. His answer was that he could be worse off. He said that he was lucky that he still had use of his arms, so he could do anything he wanted. He went to Warm Springs, Georgia to a rehabilitation center after his accident. His roommate was a quadriplegic. Papaw helped him get in and out of bed, and he'd get him a glass of water at night and hold it up to his mouth so he could drink. Papaw says that that's where he learned that he was lucky to have his arms, that he was much better off than some people, and that he'd be alright. I don't know about you, but I'm not sure if that's the attitude I would've had. I believe that that attitude is the reason he lived so long.  He made the most out of his condition. He learned to do everything he wanted to do. I'm not kidding when I say he didn't complain. Never.

Another amazing thing about Papaw is that I have never in my entire life heard him raise his voice in anger. One of my cousins recently realized this, and none of us can remember a single time when he yelled at anyone. That's not just because he didn't yell when we, the grandkids, were around either. He lived with all of us at some point. We were always there. He didn't yell. He was the strongest, yet the most gentle man I've ever known. Now, I'm not saying he never got mad. I'm just saying that I personally have never heard him raise his voice in anger, and I think that's pretty incredible.

He taught me so many things, and many of them without even using words. He taught me with his actions, his attitude, and his heart. He taught me to be strong and to never give up. He taught me that you can do anything if you try hard enough... anything. He taught me the importance of an education. He taught me to be gentle, to be cautious with my words, and to be slow to anger. Sound familiar? James 1:19: "Understand this, my dear brothers and sisters. Let every person be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to anger." Papaw lived it, unlike anyone I've ever known before.

He taught me a lot about hope and perseverance. Because of him, I will never give up on my patients. I'll fight for them and give them hope. You never know what people are capable of. You never know what God's plan is. I'll carry his memory in my heart, and because of him, I'll be a better person and a better doctor. I hope that one day my grandchildren see those same things in me. 

Don't you think he's amazing? I'm so grateful that I had my Papaw for 24 years. I'm so glad that I'm old enough to see his character and understand fully what an amazing man he was. I miss him, and I always will, but I know in my heart that the next time that I see him, for the first time ever, I'll have to reach up to hug him, and that makes me smile.

"For anybody who has ever lost a loved one, and you feel like you had to let go too soon,
I know it hurts to say goodbye, but don't you know it's just a matter of time
till the tears are gonna end, you'll see them once again, and in that moment...
Every knee shall bow, every tongue confess that God is love, and love has come for us all.
Every heart set free, everyone will see that God is love, and love has come for us all.
Oh, and on that day, we will stand amazed at our Savior, God, and King." 

For the first time in 42 and a half years, Papaw is walking. Isn't that beautiful? I bet he hasn't sat down yet. I imagine that when he got to those pearly gates, Jesus said something like this to him:

‎"I am the Word that leads all to freedom

I am the peace the world cannot give
I will call your name, embracing all your pain

Stand up, now, walk, and live."