Friday, July 17, 2009

They're Back!

The Cubs are playing the Nationals in Washington. Hello, Boys! Welcome back to the diamond and let's kick some second half ass. (Yes, their first game back from the All-Star break was last night, but I wasn't home last night -- doctor's appt. -- and I missed it.)

I accept that into each life a little rain must fall.
But does it have to fall on me during the All-Star break? Anything is easier to face if I can escape it for 9 innings, curled up on the couch, watching my Cubs.

He is a puzzlement

My uncle, that is. I love him very much, but he's a difficult old coot. He's also battling Parkinson's. While the disease has taken a terrible toll on his body and spirit, it's not to blame for his "difficult old coot" status. I remember fondly when he was a difficult young coot.

He's always been moody -- great fun one moment, sharp tongued the next. He can also be a terrible snob, owing to the fact that he's a self-made millionaire. He doesn't mean to be a snob. It's just that he's justifiably proud of his accomplishments and unfortunately defines himself by his bank book.

He's also the one who bought me my first Beatle record (Love Me Do/PS I Love You) and hid my Easter gift under the floormat of his 1964 Mustang and, upon returning from Viet Nam, allowed me to present him to my third grade class for "show and tell." When I was a little girl, he held me upside down and tickled me. When I was a young woman, he helped me establish my credit rating by taking me out to get a stereo and explaining how the payment plan worked -- and the impact screwing it up could have on me for decades to come. There's no amount of "difficult" that he can send my way now that can possibly wash away what he's meant to me in the past.

So I put more thought into his holiday gifts than I do for anyone else's. He's very hard to buy for because (1) he can buy anything he wants himself and (2) the Parkinson's Disease has made it hard for him to enjoy many of the pleasures we take for granted, like reading or watching movies.

I am happy to report that I have happened on the perfect gift for him. In his name I am going to donate money and wish-list items to Operation Shoebox. This group puts shoeboxes together and sends them to soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan. They accept donations of everything from Twizzlers and puzzle books to foot powder and socks and pass them along to those who fight in our behalf. (It is no secret to those who read this blog that I have never been a big supporter of the war in Iraq, but that does not diminish my support for those who enlisted and go wherever the Commander in Chief sends them.)

I know this seems very early, but I know it takes weeks for mail to reach soldiers in Afghanistan and Iraq. When you consider the time it will take for Operation Shoebox to put the gift packages together, I'm really not that early. (OK, I am. But this will be fun.) I'm happy to both do something helpful and patriotic, and accomplish something in my uncle's name that he couldn't do for himself anymore. If this can encourage a correspondence between him and a soldier, all the better!

This photo is a Life Magazine shot of a soldier during WWII, opening a present from home. It bothers me that only one of the three has a gift. So my uncle and I are going to do our small part to make sure more soldiers have something from home Christmas 09.