Sunday, September 28, 2014

Seven Eleven

Forty-three years ago this morning a precious baby girl entered our world and I was happy. Kathryn Alexis Rains, with a head full of dark hair and rosy cheeks, roared into the world at St. John's Hospital, Joplin, Missouri, arriving at 7:11am on a Tuesday morning, before grandparents could even be called.  For them, no waiting! What a delightful surprise for all of us. I had the luxury of a grand insurance plan from BF Goodrich, which allowed me six full days of hospital care.  

I quickly learned what so many of the "old wives' meant when they said, "sleep when you can, your pleasant nights of rest are over."  So began the cycles of life for both of us and a connectedness between mother and daughter that runs deeper than the ocean's bottom, with highs that surely crest the Alps, and blues that churn the rolling seas.  Her cholicky days and nights must have rivaled mine, as my father heard her cries and immediately was
Gramps and his kitten, Katy.
transported to the months following my birth when I, too, would scream and cry, keeping the whole world awake and weary.  As my mother, the sage, would say when she pursed her lips and made a slight kissing sound, "This too shall pass, Letty."

Katy was a child, now a woman, who cannot be contained by walls.  Her energy, her curiosity, her head strong stubbornness all woven together has created a life full of good and bad choices, love and heartache, and learning from experiences more than from books.  She steadfastly learned how to ride a two-wheeled bicycle down the gravely streets of Greensburg, Ks before she turned four.  Blood, sweat, and tears were a daily part of our lives.  We have been guided by a loving patient higher-power and been held by the hands of angels in this journey.  Though my mother died twenty-five years ago, she has held me daily as Katy and I continue our journey of life.  A mother's touch reaches beyond the world we wake up to, and can be felt when the breezes brush our cheeks, when the sun radiates across our faces, or when the ocean waves lap at our feet.  

One noonday lunch break on a September 28 when I was teaching at Wilson Elementary a light touch whispered in my ear, and I realized that I was 46 and Katy had just turned 23. For one half of my life, she had been the child I wanted and held so closely that day in 1971. Today she is 43 and I' m 66, and the numbers keep rising, aren't we lucky.   

We have so few traditions, the two of us, possibly because of divorce, that ugly word that causes rivers of tears, or because of moves, but one tradition we hold strong to takes place every year on her birthday at 7:11 in the morning.  No matter where she is I wake her with a gentle touch or a phone call at 7:11 on September 28 and wish her happy birthday and sing in my mother's voice "Happy Birthday to You."  

Today, Katy is on the beach at the Gulf of Mexico refreshing her soul with the ocean waters, sitting in the sun, or holding a fishing pole casting for the biggest catch of the day, as always looking for adventure.  I love you Katy and am blessed to be a part of your life.  
Sound (wo)man on the OU sidelines.

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Missing Nadal

Watching Federer in the US Open is exciting, but it is Rafael Nadal whose body and serves I want to watch.  Actually, I much more enjoy watching him in person, on the court, rather than on TV. Watching, panting, and gasping in person gives the effect of radiant heat, hormonal surges, passion, and guttural sounds evoking memories of sex.  There, I said it, sex, and at my age.

I've been fortunate to have seen Nadal play tennis and golf at Indian Wells, California.  He makes a living playing tennis not golf, but he is still young and handsome even on the practice tee.  Live just can't be beat in sports events, but perhaps the real story lies in how I got the tickets to see Nadal play.

Desert magazine spring 2014

Little did I know as an 8th grader that drinking a quart of warm Pepsi on a hot summer day with my best friend, Judy Scruggs, would one day open the doors for me to attend the Indian Wells Tennis Tournament to see Nadal serve the tennis ball, and return the ball with grunts and moves that elevated me out of my seat.  My moves, heartbeat, and lust for air went unnoticed by others, but my old soul came to life that night.  But I digress (thank you Robin Williams for that line.)

That warm humid day when we chugged our bottles of hot Pepsi caused me to vomit violently and worst of all to endure hot bubbly Pepsi streaming out of my nose.  To this day I have never had a drink of Pepsi, Dr. Pepper, yes.  So, on my United flight from Denver to Palm Springs a few years ago the stewardess ask if I would like a drink--Pepsi being the only choice.  "No thank you," I replied, "If Pepsi is my only soda choice, I'd rather have water."  The quiet good looking man next to me looked up from his newspaper and immediately answered before being asked, "Water for me, too."  He then turned to me and smiled and asked, "You don't like Pepsi either?"

The conversation began and didn't end until we arrived in Palm Springs.  I was traveling to meet up with friends and enjoy the desert sun and golf; he was traveling with friends to play tennis and attend the Indian Wells Tennis tournament.  I did explain that I had never seen a tennis tournament in person, but hoped to do that one day.  Lorenz, a man without a last name, said that he had three tickets that would not be used on Monday night and would sell them to me if I were interested.  He then went on to explain their location, "When you enter the stadium you will go down the stairs to the lower level and sit across from the person serving.  You will be able to watch the ball going (at which point he moved his head sideways, back and forth) from side to side instead of sitting in the end zone.  They are great seats and will go unused unless you and your friends can use them."

I couldn't answer for my friends, Manon and Terri, but I knew I wanted to attend the tournament.  I took his name and cell phone number, and said I would call.  A few days later we met him at the Arnold Palmer restaurant, handed over the cost of the tickets, then drove to Indian Wells.  We found our seats on the lower level and watched two women play.  Not an ounce of fat, no giggly rolls of midriff bulge indeed.  I was in awe of their great physique.  Manon and Terri found the bar and with the help of a few drinks we moved down a few rows to some empty seats, until we were three rows from the players.  I don't even remember who Nadal played that night, and it's not important.  I only remember that I was fascinated with the speed of the ball, his handling of the two or three balls in his pockets, the hand movements and gestures before each serve, and his grunts that sounded like a hot air balloon being inflated as the ball was served or returned.  These are things that the tv monitor just can't focus on, and believe me his grunt was nearly primeval.  I don't know if intimidation was part of it, or just his shear force and competitive nature to win, but there was something deeply animalistic about this game, live and in person, and I loved it.

Feeling young and eighteen was something I'd lost to time, but that night tennis awoke me and caused me to laugh, giggle at myself, and sigh, over and over and over.  All of this because of hot Pepsi dripping and drooling from my nose and mouth decades before.