Friday, January 27, 2017

This is NOT us!

As a postscript to the entry I wrote on “You Can Go Back Again,” I started thinking about a subject that has bothered me for some time. I try not to talk about it all the time, but I have health issues. I do NOT talk about my cancer unless someone has specifically brought up BREAST cancer. I want to give them empathy, comfort, and hope.

Several years (decades) ago, I had determined I was not going to be that person. But here we were at the post-game gathering, talking about knee-replacements, as if it were a passage of life—like puberty. I’ve always felt in my inner person that “if I would just lose so many pounds,” that my problems would be less.

Here I was with folks who, while they are not the skinny little kids that we all were before the onset of real adulthood, are NOT heavy! And, they still have the same problems!

On the way home, I began thinking about what these conversations would have been like 50 years ago, of my grandparents and their peers, because many of our parents have had the types of orthopedic surgeries that are available to us today.

Grandma and Grandpa undoubtedly had arthritis. One of my grandparents died of a brain tumor at age 61. Thin in stature, I don’t think he had any other problems during his lifetime. The other three, however, “slowed down” considerably.

So, what happened to life? I do remember my widowed grandmother taking trips in her 60s. I think that slowed down in her 70s, but she was always upbeat about life in general. There was never “I can’t do that anymore,” just a quiet acceptance of whatever, as we would say irreverently today. When we went through her things upon her death, there was a sweater that I had bought her and it had never been worn. Only then did I realize that she was unable to slip it over her shoulders. But she wore her jewelry until the end. I already have “easy-clasps” on my jewelry!

My father’s parents didn’t travel much, and that involved visiting relatives, such as their son in Florida. My grandmother was heavy, diabetic, and I am built quite a bit like her. She lived to be almost 73 (massive heart attack, but she cooked with LARD, for Pete’s sake), and until her death, she worked in the flower beds, walked up and down basement stairs to do laundry (as a widow, that might not have been as much) and had one bathroom—on the second floor. How she must have struggled with those narrow stairwells, but I never heard one word of complaint. There might have been a couple of grunts.

Her husband, who lived to be 79, was small in stature and I never heard any complaint from him about anything physically. However, he did slow down. In his later years, he took up the hobby of paint-by-numbers and thoroughly enjoyed that (while my grandmother cooked, cleaned, and did laundry). He also loved to play cards with us kids. It was always the easy games, I learned Euchre from my parents and Spades in college. But Grandpa and I and my brother played and talked and played and talked.

Grandma was on insulin, but neither took any other statins, BP meds, or any of the things many of us take today regularly. Might they have lived longer had they taken them? Grandma still cooked the old way and that was fattening, but he never had trouble with it and she maintained a steady 230-250 all the years I knew her. She didn’t know anything else. Exercise? He walked everywhere in town, although he did own a car, and she was working in the yard. She put up her garden every year. My knees hurt writing those sentences. They were not sedentary.

So I sit here today on a COLD morning, thankful that I don’t have to go anywhere until later, and I am still having trouble with the knees. However, they have been followed by a knew thing, which has plagued me three other “spells” in my life. Plantar fasciitis. Gotta love it. I have insoles, I but probably need new ones as it’s been ten years.

It’s always something! I guess I should be thankful for the things we have to help the situations and just accept the other things that can’t be helped.
I still feel old.

The Kline men were slight of build.
Grandma's in her mid-30's here.
I don't know when she was diagnosed
with Diabetes, but you can see she's
beginning to put on weight.

Grandpa was diagnosed with
brain cancer and didn't see his
62nd birthday. The twinkle is not
in his eyes here. I wonder how
close this was to his death.
Grandma, though, always had a

Friday, January 20, 2017

You Can Go Back Again!

When I was a junior in high school, our varsity basketball team went to the Regional Final game, further than any other basketball team from our school had ever gone in tournament. We were one game away from the “Final Four” of our state, and we did lose to the eventual state champions, Chaminade High School.

It truly was the Cinderella story of a small-town team—with a regular season ending record of 11-7—bulldozing its way through the District Tournament, and upsetting the first game of the Regional Tournament against Cincinnati Moeller. Newspapers titled their articles “Fairborn Who?” The entire town had decorated storefronts. I don’t have a picture of it and I don’t know if anyone had the mind to capture it, but as we went under one of the crossings in Cincinnati, there was a big banner, “Go Fairborn.” It was a great feeling to see that sign!

Many people have said that that tournament experience was the highlight of their high school years. It was a bandwagon! Basketball went from what you just did on Friday nights to a major event! Other students and their parents, people whose kids had graduated, merchants; we packed out Hobart Arena in Troy, Ohio. We had five games to play at Hobart and I remember I was sick on the night of game #3 and listened to it on the radio. I knew a little something about basketball, and I could just visualize the plays that I had seen many times before.

I’m not going into the scores of each game or our opponents, although someone did save every article and they are truly exciting to read for those of us who were there, or those of us who have lived their lives involved with sports.

So 46 years later, this team is selected to be honored in the Fairborn City Schools Athletic Hall of Fame! Of the 11 young men carried on that team, 7 returned. One is MIA, two couldn’t come and one is deceased. There is a great article about him here. In addition, there were a bunch of us, some cheerleaders, some in other capacities in athletics, or not, who came to witness this.

There was a catered dinner before the evening’s basketball game, and I chose not to attend that as I am not a relative or “close” enough friend and I knew space was of a concern. I caught up with the gang as we met up in the auxiliary gym and it really was like old home week. Even though we’ve—uh—changed in many ways, I certainly didn’t have a bit of a problem recognizing anyone. It was a festive atmosphere.

Those of us “others,” went into the gym and sat where we would have as students. We really didn’t push anyone out of the way. The student population has declined to the point where there just aren’t as many students at a basketball game. (To be fair, this was not a league game.) I think kids have other things to do on Friday and Saturday nights these days. That may or may not be good.

The inductees were introduced one by one to rousing applause! This was the same floor (it’s been resurfaced) they played on all those many years ago, and it was surreal. Two managers also joined them, and I must say, they all turned out well! Of the nine gentlemen who were there, six still live in the area, one the next state over and two had to travel a bit. It was worth it. The coach passed away several years ago, but two of his children joined the group.

We were born at the height of the Baby Boom and even during the years leading up to this Championship year, the Fieldhouse was packed to the rafters at every game! This night, while certainly not empty, there was plenty of room to choose to sit. It was very different. There was definitely an “Izzone” or whatever you wanted to call the student section, but it was so much smaller.

It was a competitive game. We left at halftime to go to a restaurant, but I wouldn’t have minded staying. The visiting team has been a nemesis to the Derge family for 15 years of playing and coaching, but it’s a fine school system. As it turns out, Fairborn won on a buzzer-beater.

You can’t talk much at a basketball game and you’re not supposed to, so we went to a sports restaurant to continue our conversations.

What connects you after all these years?

·         Kids and grandkids

·         Retirement plans

·         Health issues (ugh, we are NOT those people?)

·         Old funny and ornery stories.

·         Old cars we owned. (This was not me!)

·         Remembering those no longer with us.

The hair, if it’s there at all, is grayer, there’s a little bit more of most of us to love, but we are still US. We have all lived 45-46 years since, but we are still US.

We are there to love each other in a different way. We have embraced our mortality. We still enjoy each other the best way we can.

Many people from afar wished they could have come.  It was different from a class reunion in that we were really all on our own and made our own entertainment.  We’ll probably never have an occasion like this again, but it was so nice to remember a major highlight of high school!

We still felt like teenagers again! Inside.
An ad in the local newspaper.                              District Champs. Photo Credit: My mom.