Imagine yourself in a multiplex movie theater. Curiously, no walls separate the half-dozen theaters that form the multiplex. Miraculously, you are watching six different screens all at once, thoroughly understanding and enjoying every scene, word, character.
Welcome to ADHD.
[You in the Real World, be sure to click on the red underlined hyperlinks!]
Mike is pretty sure Miss Laurie thinks his tractor’s sexy …
I’ve long contended that ADDers – those with ADHD – don’t die.
At least not natural deaths, says Screen Five.
But in my family, something far more powerful than Attention Deficit (with Hyperactivity) Disorder prevents our perishing.
That “unknown” does get passed rather smoothly from generation to generation, agrees One.
Great Aunt Mary is, at 106 years of age, the rough, tough female equivalent of Jack Crabb in “Little Big Man.” She grows up on the South Dakota plains at a time when the Badlands truly are the bad lands. Struggling to eke out a living, Miss Mary endures confrontations with the original Americans – several different Indian tribes not entirely pleased with the white man’s encroachment – as she keeps an eye out for cattle rustlers, thunderous storms, prairie fires, unkempt gunslingers, smothering snows and wild critters.
Her greatest moment comes, as great moments often do, unexpectedly.
My long-lived relative steps out onto the spacious veranda –
That’s “front porch” to you Yanks, explains Three, a Yank himself.
– and breathes deeply of the head-clearing air. With the oft-fearsome skies holding true blue, it will be another beautiful day in the neighborhood.
Apologies to Mister Rogers, offers Two.
It is, Miss Mary decides, a perfect day for strolling out to the rather distant mailbox, her walking cane in hand. Mail retrieved, she returns, ascends the steps to her porch and, moments from safe re-entry of the front door, encounters a sunning rattlesnake.
His tanning session interrupted by this spindly creature on two legs, the rattler, fast-approaching and very agitated, prepares to battle Miss Mary for ownership of the home.
“Age and treachery will overcome youth and skill,” suggests the ancient quote. Miss Mary is an avid student of literature. Her cane, moments earlier a mere guide and support for an aged body, becomes a lightsaber in the skilled hands of this geriatric Jedi. She pins the raucous rattler neatly in place against the worn veranda floorboards.
Brings new meaning to “bloody Mary,” comments Four.
There the two combatants, frozen in time and stance, remain for well over an hour as serpent writhes to free itself of plains-hardened arms. The contest of wills ends only when Miss Mary’s eldest son, Tom, rides up to the ranch. His arrival doubles human numbers and sinks snake odds.
Miss Mary’s genes live on, as do those of others about whom I’ve written. Heroes they are … but of yesteryear. Meet a modern man of steel:
Michael, eldest Blackwell.
In his early 50s at the time, Mike pays for a movie ticket, walks toward the select multiplex theater, sees a restroom and swings in. His relief turns disbelief as he bathes the urinal in pure blood.
“Cancer,” the doctor says. “Unlikely you’ll see your next birthday.”
Mike never touched a cigarette! protests bewildered Six.
But it is correct, observes Four.
Prayer goes up, weight goes down, diet goes sideways. Mike smiles and swallows complaints before they escape his lips. We his younger siblings hold tightly to his frame, fearing these wrestler-strength hugs may be the last we’re granted.
And then – miraculously, unexpectedly, incredibly – it is Mike’s next birthday. He snuffs cake candles, laughs at re-shaped body, frowns at reduced abilities, rejoices at extended life. I send him Tim McGraw‘s “Live Like You Were Dying” DVD wrapped in grateful tears.
Don’t forget what you nicknamed him, cautions Two: Chemo Sabe.
“That’s our mighty Mikey,” say four siblings reeling at losing Big Boy No. Two shortly before this. Jeff’s passing causes daily disorientation; Mike’s reprieve allows us to adjust. Life gains value as we grasp how easily we may slip from one another.
But the dreaded phone call comes, anyway. “Mike,” announces the lilting Georgia accent of his ladyfriend, “is fighting for his life, y’all.”
Cancer’s back, gasps Five.
“Actually, no,” replies Miss Laurie. “Appendicitis.”
Youngest-brother Barry had that in the South Dakota wilds, trumpets Six. Still made it to the doctor.
“Mike just thought he had severe indigestion,” she continues, “so he ate several rolls of Tums.”
Wild Blackwellian laughter.
“Yeah, well, the appendix inside Mike exploded.” Miss Laurie pauses, collects herself, then delivers the all-too painful punchline we didn’t anticipate. “Several days ago, y’all.”
Against all medical predictions, Big Boy No. One pulls through once more –
Takes a knockout punch, boasts Six. Comes up swinging.
– and we cheer madly. Prematurely. Mere days later, Mike yet again returns to the hospital –
Does he get some Frequent Die-er discount? wonders Three.
– in great discomfort. Doctors re-slice his just-made zippers and find Mike deeply poisoned by previously undiscovered portions of the exploded appendix.
One more round of surgeries and The Champ goes home.
But not Home! Two enthusiastically reminds. He stays Earthbound!
What’s best is that Big Boy No. 1, having endured so much himself, encourages the rest of us to hang tough, refuse to surrender, stay put a bit longer. And why not follow his lead? After all, Mike this week celebrates another birthday despite doctors’ dark diagnoses.
Yet gentleman that he is, Mighty Mike would invite those same well-meaning doctors to the party and …
Let ’em eat cake.
Postscript: To double my joy and thankfulness, I propose to my beautiful brown-eyed girl on the very birthday Mike’s cancer was supposed to cancel.
“Perfect,” I reply. “Perfect, because … well, you love me in so many ways, I want many of me to ask this of you.” Getting down on one knee, I smile and say, “Miss Laura, will you bless me by being my wife?”
She pulls the kaleidoscope away from her eye. “What?”
“I asked, ‘Will you marry me?’”
My “intended,” the desire of my heart, the love of my life, laughs madly. “You’re such a kidder!” She does not answer my question, so I rephrase it.
“Miss Laura, please marry me.”
She looks at me, gauging my facial expression. “Oh. You’re serious?’
Screen Four whispers, Creativity? Overrated.
* * * * *
Magic is going to the birds these days
Soccer bursts a bubble
Great music with strings attached
If only I could get Ted to lose this bet