Burning bushes

IMG_0916Hey kiddos,

This week was spring break.  A week students AND teachers look forward to every year because winter has been sooo long.  Even though we had 7 snow days this winter, it’s not the same.  You can’t exactly do much when it’s frigid outside.  When you are older and have indoor recess for weeks at a time, you will understand. You too will come to love and count down the days until spring break.

Your Aunt Amy & her kiddos came into town this week.  Though some of the days were still a little chilly, we were able to go outside a few times.  We all helped JoJo pick up fallen branches in her backyard.  Well…most of us helped.  Neala, you kept trying to climb up the slide by yourself.  Did I mention you aren’t quite big enough to do this, so you would get stuck and require assistance?
Every. Single. Time.
When you finally got to the top, you insisted on going down head first.
Every. Single. Time.
Did I mention you wanted to go down the slide 128 times?
You are independent and sassy and strong-willed.  I’m not sure where you get these qualities.  Daddy perhaps?  😉

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As we were raking and picking up branches, I noticed the ornamental grass on the side of the house.  It reminded me of a very funny story about your PawPaw….

PawPaw had planted some ornamental grassy bushes next to the house.  They grew tall and were quite lovely. (The picture above shows them dried out & brown from winter. Normally they are bright and green).
Like most plants they needed trimmed.  Normally, he would grab some cutters and get to it.  But, he had been on chemo for quite some time. The treatments had weakened his body and he just wasn’t feeling up to trimming.

Chemo had not only affected his body.  He had what many people call, “chemo brain”.
This is the term given for the mental fog many cancer patients experience during and after treatments.

Chemo brain would pop up at random times and in random situations.
Sometimes he would ask the same question three times.
Sometimes he would get confused and not remember something from earlier in the day.
And sometimes he would decide instead of trimming the bushes with cutters, he would trim them with fire.

So he did.

His intent was to burn them down just a bit.  When the bushes reached his desired height, he would put out the fire, go inside and take a well deserved nap.

The bushes, which were planted very close to the side of the house, did burn. However, they did not stick to the plan. Like most rebellious ornamental grasses they quickly decided they wouldn’t be the only things on fire.

He was able to put out the flames which were quickly growing on the bushes and the house.  But not before a portion of the siding on the house melted.

He quickly called his brother for help.  They removed the melted siding and put up new siding. (You may be wondering how he got new siding so quickly.  He had extra in his garage.  He had everything in his garage, and I do mean everything.)

I can just hear him saying a very common phrase, “Don’t tell Jo!”

All seemed well and good. He had successfully “trimmed” the bushes and they were quickly replacing the melted siding before JoJo came home from work.

Only JoJo came home early from work. As she pulled up to the house she wondered what was going on.  Melted siding strewn in the yard. New siding only halfway up on the house.  Lots of charred bushes and a very odd, burnt smell filling the air.
The conversation went something like this….

JoJo– “Uh…Don, what are you doing? Why is our siding melted?”
PawPaw-“uhhhh…..”
*insert nervous laughter from his brother & the other friends helping
JoJo– “Did you catch the house on fire? What were you thinking?”
PawPaw– “I didn’t know the fire would get so big.”
Gary (dad’s brother)- “He was trying to be like Moses at the burning bush, talking to God.”
*insert more nervous laughter from PawPaw & his brother
JoJo– “Well he better be talking to God because he’s in big trouble.”
*insert more laughter from PawPaw & his brother
*also imagine JoJo walking into the house very upset & not talking to him the rest of the night

PawPaw knew the bushes needed a trim. He also knew he was too weak to cut them.
So he improvised.
Kids, there will be times in your life you will feel too weak, or perhaps inadequate to accomplish something.  I hope you are like PawPaw and improvise.

PawPaw didn’t know the fire would get so big. His attempt to trim those bushes didn’t go as planned, so he called for help.
There will be times your plans will not go accordingly either.  I hope you are like PawPaw and know when to call for help.

PawPaw knew he had made a mess of things.  He also knew how to find the laughter in the mess. I hope you are like PawPaw and can laugh at your mistakes.

Though I certainly hope neither one of you burn any part of our home…

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