A Journey Update

This is a guest post by my Dad. His prior guest posts can all be found here.

A year and a half ago, Rachel related the diagnosis of my cancer. I was stunned and deeply appreciative of all of the comments, concerns and prayers that her readers expressed. This week, when Rachel asked for a guest post (she didn’t ask me, by the way, she asked her mother to ask me!?!), I thought it might be time to update everyone on the progress of the journey.

First though, I think you should know the miraculous way in which the cancer was discovered. On a Thursday night, I woke up with bright flashes of light, almost stroboscopic, with my eyes closed. It continued even with my eyes open for several hours. I obviously didn’t know what was going on, and was concerned enough to go to the local paramedics Friday morning, thinking I might be having a stroke. They could find nothing wrong, but suggested I go to the emergency room. When I asked why, they responded that they suggest that to everyone who has symptoms they couldn’t explain.

Instead of going to the hospital, I decided to go directly to my family doctor. He was out of town, but I was examined by his partner who said that the flashes were an indication of migraine headaches. The flashes had stopped by this point, so I went on about my business and dismissed it altogether. Saturday, the area around my left eye began to swell and become irritated. By Monday, I was unable to open the eye, and when my wife pried it open, she said I had water blisters on my eyeball. OK, time to get serious and try to find out just what was going on.

We went to Sara’s ophthalmologist, a new experience for me since I have always been blessed with 20/20 vision. Her doctor said that I had a detached retina and sent me down the hall to a retina specialist.

That specialist was not in the office, so I was to see a new doctor that had just arrived the past week.


Not only was the doctor new to the practice, he was very young – disturbingly young.

After a long exam, and lots of lights shined into my eyes from every conceivable angle, he told me that I had a melanoma on one of the layers of my retina. It turned out that he had just finished a two year fellowship in Memphis with one of the four doctors in the country that specialize in this particular cancer. He had seen hundreds of these, but no one else in the office had ever seen a single one.

“How fast can you get to Memphis?”

Sonar, photos and more exams took place in Memphis and the diagnosis was confirmed. All of the swelling and water blisters disappeared, and were never explained or connected to the cancer.

The doctor in Memphis suggested a treatment, one that he performed on three patients a week. We set a time for the surgery, a time that allowed Sara and I to complete our planned 40 year anniversary “Lap of Alabama.”

EyepatchThe treatment consisted of stitching a nickel sized receptacle containing 13 radioactive seeds to the back surface of my eye. A lead patch was placed over the front of my eye and the whole assembly was left in place for a week.

During that week, we were required to stay in Memphis and certainly not allowed to cross state lines – because Homeland Security could track the radioactivity of my eyeball.

After a week, the “plaque” was removed and I was allowed to return home.

In the 15 months since the surgery, follow up exams have shown that the tumor is shrinking, and that there is no sign that it has spread anywhere else in my body. They tell me that if it intended to spread, it would already be in my blood and could spread to my liver or lungs. I have now had enough CAT scans and x-rays at the VA to give me cancer, but so far, all is good.

I even still have 20/20 vision.

Although some people might call this a “scare”, I don’t think I was ever scared. I have seen miracles. I continue to see miracles. Sight itself is a miracle. My blue eyed (as well as my brown eyed) grandchildren are miracles.


Although it may be a cliché, this experience has made me see more clearly what is important in my life. I have realized my own mortality, and that there are things I need to accomplish – to finish in the time I have left. I have been able to focus better on family relationships and friendships. I realize how blessed I am health wise, brought home more clearly whenever I see some of the less fortunate at the VA hospital. I also know (though I don’t fully understand) that God, the creator of the universe, cares for even me.

The journey continues.

Inside the Mind of a First Grader.

Ali is guest-posting for me today.


(Yes, there are two bows plus arrows in her apron. If you want to complain, I wouldn’t.)

Anyway. Here are some literary masterpieces that I’ve found lying around the house lately that she’s graciously allowed me to share.


One day two lite’s played.
Anathor lite came and toled them to be friendly and come togethor.
They did not want to and the other lite left.
2 years later….
They becam friends!
The End.

That totally should have been a Beatles verse.

Speaking of song lyrics, they’re often inexplicably documented at our house.

Henry Hugglemonster

It’s a brand new days in rorsvil
The flawrs smel swit and her comes a monster you rele wont to mete.
His name is Henry and as you can see
He’s got a rili rorsom famole.
Hay hay hay have a henry hugl monster day
Hay hay hay have a henry hugl monster day
Wen thengs or going rolng and everytheng sems gray
Henry huglmonsteor can olways find a way
Hay hay hay have a Henry Hugl Monstor Day!

I think the basic idea is that when it hasn’t been your day or week or even your year, Henry Hugglemonster’ll be there. For you.

She heard this song one time, in a Christmas production, and hasn’t stopped singing it yet.


Welcoe to the place I will sing my song
I can-not wat to sing it to you
O no I cant wat to sing my song here it
Holy, Holy, Holy,
God is coming ner
Onto us a saveyer is born
On a midnite clear
Holy holy holy
God is coming ner
Onto us a savyors born
On a midnite clear
Ho-ly Ho-ly Ho-ly
God is coming ner
Onto us a savyor is born
On a midnit clear.
The End…

…And just when you think it’s over, you turn over the page…

Song End

This math answer, considering the information given, makes complete sense.


Did they ask “how many weeks of the year”? No. They said how many weeks. We’d need to know the exact age of the earth and the dates of any climatological events that might have changed Norway’s sun situation to answer this inane question.

Other great school finds recently have included this cheery reading passage:


(This turns out to be “good news” because the sailor had been making fun of them…clearly the author’s gift wasn’t mercy.)

We also found this fantastic moral reminder, which I hope Ali remembers when she starts dating.


Sometimes we all need the opportunity to make a confession. Ali finds that writing hers is most effective.


I droped a tamato on my dress on purpus
And then siad: What am I doing?
Then jest cepe watching TV.
Name: Ali Callahan Age: 7
Favorite Color: Pink

I have no idea why her favorite color needed to be brought into that crime, but I’m sure she does.

I got sick in November with laryngitis and stayed sick with a various concoction of bugs until the end of January. I could tell that Ali thought I was dying, because she would give me these sad little hugs and leave lots of loving notes (illustrated with sunsets) laying around for me to find.

This was my favorite.


Dear Mommy
I love you sooooo
ooo much I like dowing craft’s
with you and you roeding wimey kid
I hope you get beter
love Ali

The disturbing part of the note was the missing “soon” after “I hope you get better.”

Then again, I guess it’s best to set one’s expectations low.

On to another story.


Ons apan a time a fiary went to see here friend’s
They herd a suond
it was a monster!
They ran and ran and ran and ran
Tile tha lost him.
The End.

Sometimes a simple story is best.

Other times, it’s better to get the long-term picture.


One’s apan a time a lake was with no island
Suddunly a tiny tiny island startid to form
It grew biger and bigger
tile it was big anaf to billd 10 ten houses
pepole ol over the world started to liv thare and bilding housis

I love a good cliffhanger.

No, no I don’t. I need closure.


Baby Got Pad.

There is really nothing I adore more than watch people awkwardly record important moments with iPads. Especially in large crowds of people where their ‘pad completely blocks the view of the people around them and they’re likely to give their neighbor a black eye if they get too excited.

iPad Photography in public spacesOr two.

And, much akin to umbrellas in football stadiums, I suspect that one day soon, there will be “iPads Prohibited” signs at the entrance of every children’s performance and sports game.

iPad PhotographyAt least hold her right-side-up.

I can also say that I have gotten more than a few stranger’s blue jean butt selfies in my inbox with a giant iPad case nearly blocking the view that I was supposed to be analyzing.

So when Chris got me an iPad this spring, this was the first photo I took:

iPad Selfie“Chris bought me a new camera!”

Upon tweeting about my iPad photography opinions a few months ago, my husband spontaneously rewrote the first few lines of “Baby Got Back” and tweeted it to me. And they were brilliant.

And for my birthday, he finished it.

A girl couldn’t ask for a better present, although I’m sure there are more waiting for me. [Right, honey?]

So while I bask in my 32nd birthday and anxiously await my other gifts, please enjoy his artistic labor of love.

Baby Got Pad.

OMG, Becky, look at her camera.
It is so big.
She looks like one of those bloggers.
But, y’know, who understands those bloggers?
I mean, her camera, is just so big.
I can’t believe its just so rectangular.
Its like, out there, I mean – gross. Look!
She’s just so weird.

[Bass Line]

I like big cameras and I can not lie
You other photogs can’t deny
That when a girl walks up with an iPad case
And unfolds it in your face
You SMH, wanna throw up tough
Cause you notice that case was stuffed.
Deep in the scene she’s crafting
I’m hooked and I can’t stop laughing
Oh baby, I wanna get witch’a
And take your picture.
My homegirls just can’t phase me
But that case you got makes me so crazy
Toes, kids, or sunbeams
You say you wanna fill up your stream?
Well see me, smell me,
Cause this ain’t that average selfie.
I’ve seen that screen
Her favorite filter’s green
She must be hiding from you
Its like she’s playing peekaboo.
I’m tired of dumb webzines
Sayin’ iPhones are the thing
Take the average blogger and scan her space
She gotta pack much case.

So ladies (Yeah) ladies (Yeah)
Has your girlfriend got the Pad?
Tell her to take it (take it) take it (take it)
Take that cheesy pic!
Baby got Pad.