We Climbed before the Klimb 4 Kim...

We Climbed before the Klimb 4 Kim...
1997's Climb

Saturday, July 2, 2011


                  This morning...more flowers, more yardwork...Kimmy's garden is making progress!!  I put in some more portulacas on our front porch, in the St. Francis bird bath and added a pot of them beneath the olive tree...'deadheading'...Kim hated to dead head flowers and now I know why - I began this process, this morning and it takes time...but, she swore by it, to make the garden look pretty and to make more flowers grow.
                  But, no dirty feet in the shower (thank you God for these cleansing waters...)!!!

                  Here we are, at the bottom of the 5 flights of stairs we will race up to see Angie...wearing sneakers!!  Much easier to run the stairs in sneakers...but, despite my improved foot gear, Autumn won the race...
                 In the hallway, I spotted one of the RN's, Will, who had inpsired Kim and who had worked very hard to keep Kim comfortable during her stay.  I found out he was Angie's nurse that day and he said she was doing great and should be able to go home Saturday.  Will likes to ride through Fantasy Island,  the rugged desert bike trail near our house, and we exchanged numbers to see if he, Cody and I could go out there and tear it up one day! 
               It was nice to know Will was taking care of Angie...Autumn and Tonio accompanied me to come and say hi...Autumn noticed right away that Angie's room was right across the hall from where Mama stayed - she thought that was nice.  Angie had a gallery of nice artwork from her Grandkids and we ran into Kristie, Kim, Mario and their little ones while we were there.  It was a good visit, good to see Angie healing.  Good to put behind more ghosts...
             When we left, we raced down the stairs, heading for the basement.  Autumn was interested in getting something to eat from their cafeteria...!  She's so funny.  Anyway, on the way down, the bambini hootin' and hollerin' (great acoustics in the stairways!), they passed Dr. Atkinson, who had taken out Kim's gallbladder and discovered the cancer in her liver.  I stopped and talked to him - he said people still talk about Kim nearly every day and the impact she had on their lives.  I let him know that we think of him, and the other Dr's, nurses, techs, etc, who made a difference for Kim and us - you know, you want to visit these good people - only, the hospital isn't one of those places that is conducive for visiting those who not only aren't sick, but who are working hard to help the sick!  We talked about cheesesteaks.  Remember, he is from Bristol, Pa, north Philadelphia, where my Dad grew up...
            Down in the basement, Autumn loaded up on potatoes and then we headed back out into the sunshine...the bambini smiling, joking, saying it was good to see Angie and they were glad she was doing well...
           Prayers work kids - I told them.  Sometimes they may not seem to, but they do...and they nodded their sweet little heads in agreement, their eyes never leaving mine, searching my eyes for smiles...

Friday, July 1, 2011

5th Floor St. Joseph's

          I woke early today...and worked in Kimmy's garden...adding a bougevalia and a 'monkey bush' or yellow trumpet bush...
          As I showered (thank you Lord for these refreshing waters running over me....), I realized how dirty my feet were...how'd they get so dirty?? 
         Stairs.  I went back to St. Joseph's yesterday, slipping in a little used side door that I had found when Kim was being taken care of on the 5th floor - able to avoid the main entrance, where I had left her parked in her wheel chair one morning, while I went to park the car, coming back to find her praying with Monsignor Tom - beamining, revitalized...with hope.
         I prepared to run up the 5 flights of stairs, glanced down....damn.  Flip flops.  Two days in a row...what was I thinking?  I ran one flight in them before kicking them off and doing the final four bare foot.
       A little winded at the top, I opened the door and entered the 5th floor waiting room...and time stopped...I couldn't remember the day or immediately why I was there or what room I was going to as I glided down the hallway...remembering...
       I came across Jesse, one of the wonderful techs who was incredibly helpful to Kim and our family - always doing extra, without being asked - making the bambini laugh, bringing them ice cream and drinks...he embraced me, asked me how I was doing...and I asked 'how is she?'...'how is who?' perplexed...
       And I was back.  I explained that I was here to see Angie and that she had her knee replaced.  He told me she was doing great!  And walked me to her room.
       I noticed it was directly across the hallway from Kim's room...
      Angie is doing great.  She's one of those hardworking, optimistic, non-complaining types...and it was a relief to see her.  They had strapped her knee into this boot looking apparatus that auto excercised her knee.  As it came towards her body, she would grimace, ever so slightly....'OK?'...she would smile and nod.  Her daughter Kristie was there with her little ones, Trinity and Richie and they were wonderful to watch, making me realized that I missed the bambini.
       It was the first time in several weeks that I was without them and I missed them.  As I sat there visiting with Angie, I remembered the days visiting with Kim.  I would miss the kids so badly while I visited with her, losing all track of day, time, missing meals...until Angie or one of her daughters would walk in with a meal for me...
      So it was nice that Kristie's little ones were there today.  The bambini were being taken care of by our friends Monique and Joe, who kept them fed and had them swimming all day...

      It was nice to sit there visiting with Angie and Kristie, knowing that Angie was healthy and her doctors feeling that she was doing great.  And she may get to come home today. Thank God. I vowed that when I visited her, I would make sure to be wearing sneakers, to better run the stairs.  And by the end of my visit, I felt comfortable with the 5th floor.  At peace... Those wonderful nurses and techs comforting so many....


Wednesday, June 29, 2011

The Third Floor...St. Joseph's...

          "We taking the stairs Dad?"  Is there any other way?  We looked at our feet...flip flops.  What the hell were we thinking?  Flip flops are not exactly great stair running shoes, yet, we knew we had to make the best of things...it's become our way, along our new journey...and up we went...only three flights, but, I was winded - it's been awhile...

           Today, Angie had knee surgery.  I told her I'd be in that 3rd floor waiting room, where I had been so many times while Kimmy was in surgery, praying for her.  Autumn insisted that she wanted to come, too.  "Wake me up, Daddy, I will pray with you for Angie." she told me as she got ready for bed near midnight last night.  The only thing I couldn't decide, as I tucked her in, was which rosary to bring...and the thought entered my mind, before I could stop it "especially since, none of them seemed to work, for Kim"...I work hard each day to block out thoughts like that.  Unproductive thoughts...they aren't 'functional' as Kim would have joked.  They just bring the darkness... And besides, I knew that the prayers would help - I've come to believe that God does answer all of our prayers...it's just that, sometimes the answer is 'no'.

           I woke Aut at 6:30 and we snuck out...driving the same route we did 100 years ago when we would be racing to see Kim.  As we looked for parking, in the garage, "I Need a Dr" came on the Ipod...Kimmy's sweet voice, haunting me...The security guard in the garage, had to steer me towards the stairs...I told him I hadn't had any coffee yet..
          We hit the top of the stairs, entering the 3rd floor waiting room...across the room, my eyes saw Mark, already sitting there, but, my mind was looking over his shoulder, to that spot where Dr. Atkinson had met me following Kim's gall bladder surgery and explained to me that he had found cancer...sending me spiralling, as the room swirled and turned...
          ...and then I was back.  We sat with Mark, Janene and Kristie - and the mood was much lighter than when they all had been there to sit with me and support me and pray for Kim when she was having her sugeries - we were able to talk, laugh and drink coffee (and have Breakfast Jacks - thanks Kristie!).  It was good to be in the presence of such positive people, and although I cringed each time the phone rang, jarring another memory, I felt that I was putting to rest the waiting room demons that sometimes plague me. It took about two hours, but, sure enough, Dr. Dixon came out smiling.  He told us that Angie had absolutely no cartiledge left in her knee!  But that he felt the surgery went well.  We all smiled, too.  The prayers had worked.  I had chosen a rosary made from rose petals, that our friends, Ursula and Sam had brought back from the Vatican, today...and the answer was 'yes'.

           Autumn insisted that we go into ICU to say hi to Dr. McCarten, the Dr. in charge of ICU who was so inspirational to our family and worked tirelessly to save Kimmy, and Deborah and Vivian, who work on that ward, too.  We found Dr. McCarten, who warmly welcomed us and found that it was Deb's day off and that Vivian was covering up on the 4th floor of the Women's Center, where Kim had convalesced following her gall bladder surgery.  As we made our way up there, we ran into Wendy, the hospital chaplain, who took us on a quicker, back route to find Vivian.  She was happy to see us...
           Wendy led us back to the elevator, where we said our goodbyes...as the elevator door opened, a lady asked us 'are you coming on board?'...Autumn and I looked at each other and both said at the same time "no thank you, we're taking the stairs!"  and bolted.

           We sat out front, on a stone bench near the statue of St Joseph's for awhile, talking, reflecting. We were both a little emotionally spent, after our 3 hour visit. The stairs hadn't changed.  The waiting room still held it's memories of those desparate days.  But, today, we were able to leave feeling relieved.  Happy.  Wishing Angie a speedy recovery!


Breakers Water Park

              We've always loved a good water park - Dorney Park built a great one.  Wild Water Kingdom.  Disney World had River Country, back in the day.  When we moved to Tucson, we liked to go to Breakers.
                There was one summer, where, we would go out to Breakers once a week.  We only had Cody and Autumn.  And Autumn was so little, we had to keep her in the little kiddee section...Kim would pack a nice lunch, like a big sandwhich, snacks and drinks for us all and we would spend the whole day there soaking up the sun and letting the bambini enjoy splashing in the water.
                Some times, Kim and I would get to go down the raft ride together - her laughing the whole way down and me just enjoying the sound of her laughter.  And, other times, we'd sit together at the edge of the wave pool, letting the wave rush over us, keeping us cool and watching Cody and Autumn play.
                The times we went, the bambini were so little, or could not swim, so we spent a great deal of time in the kiddee zone...taking turns with Cody on the bigger slides and tube rides.  And holding onto the kids as we ventured into the wave pool.
                 I remembered it all today, as we took the bambini out to Breakers with us.  Brendon slept over at our house last night.  He and Cody played Guitar Hero until the wee hours of the morning.  I went to bed after 1 and they were still going strong!  We met Janene and her kids, Bryson and Brad's kids,  Taylor and Tanner there around 10 and Karen, Kallie and Matt met us there soon after.
                Janene smuggled in many snacks and drinks for the kids, to keep them going...and the kids had so much fun riding all of the different slides and tube rides.  Janene, Karen and I sat in the surf, keeping cool and relaxing.
                   The wave pool, so cool and relaxing letting the waves run your over...
                       Cody enters the pool at the bottom of the tube ride.
                   Here comes Tonio!  His first ride down the slides!!  He was hooked!
                I was so proud of him.  He quickly oriented himself, gathered up his mat and raced for the top to do it all over again!!.

                               Bryson and Tonio enjoy the double tube, as Janene and Karen pull them through the wave pool.
                   Tonio's the tiny speck at the bottom of this killer slide...
                  Here comes Janene's step -daughter, Taylor, racing down the slide!
   Check out this video of Cody cruising down this slide!  He actually gets air for a brief moment, before reconnecting with  the water and having a great slide!

             And Autumn!  Oh my gosh, last July, when Kim and I took the bambini, we had to literally be with Autumn and Tonio the entire time...this year, they can swim and had so much fun exploring the freedom being able to swim brings...I still can't believe they both went down this slide, and here is Aut cruising down!!   I almost had to hide my eyes, fearing she would fly off of this thing...but who would have taped her then?

              Thanks so much Janene, for setting up this fun filled day for us....!

PS, and right now, only Autumn and I are awake to say goodnight to Mama...but, Autumn points out, there are clouds covering the Big Dipper...'but they sure are pretty', she told me...

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Reid Park Zoo

          The elephant habitat is the focal point as you approach the zoo via 22nd st...you cannot miss it.  They've erected a large, metal piece of elephant-like art work on the corner, marking the edge of the project.  Each week, you can see the progress being made and the bambini are anxious to see the completed work.  They remember that their Mama was a part of the petitions and drive to keep our elephants.  Kim thought they were an integral addition to our zoo and did not want to see them go.  And, she was able to help this project grow legs - she was so excited when the effort won passage and the funds had been secured to build the elephant's a new home that would satisfy the latest requirements for elephants in capacity.  The Philadelphia Zoo couldn't even keep their elephants - Kim was ecstatic to have been a part of the winning effort to keep ours in Tucson!
            This morning, we said we'd meet everyone around 9ish at the zoo entrance...Karen joked 'does that mean I leave my hotel at 9?'  Exactly.  However, the morning was tricky and soon, it was 9:30 and I was just leaving to pick up Lexy and Breanna from Mario...we detoured, briefly, for breakfast jack's at Jack in the Box...and coffee for me, and made it to the zoo by 10:00 - but, we pulled in just as Janene and Kristie were unloading...Karen and Betsey were already camped out in front of the zoo.
          Between us, we had 14 kids, ready to get into that zoo and to see some animals...the tiger exhibit was empty, with a crew working on the fencing...it looked as though a tiger or two had broken free...The girls always move quickly to get to the giraffes, one of Kim's favorite stopping points.  We made it in time to feed the giraffes.  Each child got a handful of carrots from a long time zoo employee, Jed.  After they made their way in, I introduced myself to Jed - reminding him of a time, at least five years ago, where my family came to feed the giraffes, Kimmy leading the way and getting there moments late.  Jed saw the dissappointment on Kimmy's face and the bambini and told us, 'follow me'.  He proceeded to take us behind the scenes to the polar bear home, and we were able to pet the polar bear through the chain link fence.  Next, we went to the backdoor of the rhino habitat, where he had the kids feed the rhinos and showed them how to pet them on their horns.  It was an incredible experience we've never forgotten.  Jed was thankful that I took the time to remind him of that day...    
                         The giraffe nips at Tonio's head...Breanna Autumn and Lexy enjoyed feeding the giraffes!
                       The kids lingered at the polar bear exhibit, as the huge bear put on quite a show for us today, stomping around the rock area of his home and then plunging into the waters right in front of the protective glass that the kids stood behind. 
                       As it got hotter, we sought shelter in the zoo's little water park.  I think the kids would have stayed there all day if we had let them!

                     There are fountains and sprinklers in this area and it sure helped to cool the kids off and keep them going for the second half of the zoo.  The otters sure were frisky today!

             Trinity, Taylor and Lexy got their faces painted like giraffes at the zoo school!
             It's such a great zoo, just the right size, nice exhibits with good variety of animals, plenty of shade for these hot days...and they had each other, to enjoy and to laugh and to make a great memory...the kids had a super time today...

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Sabino Canyon

            We found ourselves back at Sabino Canyon today, taking our friend, Karen and her children, Kallie and Matt on the tram ride up into the canyon...
           It was already smoking hot when we met there at 9:30.  Karen coming from the far southwest side of town (she has a timeshare at Starr Pass) and us coming from the southeast side of Tucson...we had agreed to meet at 9...I've briefed Karen on 'southwest' time, and she has already mastered it, as we beat her there!

          Today, you could ride the tram the 4 miles into the canyon, but not disembark to explore the surrounding trails and pools, due to the raging fires in our state.  They have decided to be proactive and not let anyone go trapsing through the canyon, willy nilly, building campfires and such.  I quietly put my barrage of lighters away, so as not to attract attention to myself...

                Autumn took the pictures of our trip that I am posting...beginning with this deer, who revealed itself to us as we sat and waited for our tram to arrive.  You know it must be a very dry summer, for the deer to appear at the tram starting point!
         Kim and I had visited Sabino Canyon many, many times over the years we lived here...we would bring in a cooler with sandwhiches and drinks and spend the day, hiking, swimming and just enjoying each other's company.  When we did take the tram, they used to describe this rock outcropping as 'Geronimo's Face'...today, in a more politically correct world, our tram driver told us this rock formation was called 'the winking guy'...seriously.  Pretty weak, eh?

               Anderson's Dam was are all time, favorite spot to picnic, swim and work on our tans.  I can't even tell you how many times Kim and I ended up right here, especially when we lived in the apartments at Tanque Verde and Dos Hombres.  There is usually a waterfall, cascading down the center of this rock formation and a deep, cooling pool awaiting below...today, it was rock and sand....

            The driver let us get out for 5 minutes at the top of the canyon!  Here's Matt, Tonio, Cody, Autumn, Kallie and Karen...
            It was baking hot...already close to 100 as we rode up into the canyon, and just over 100 when we finished.  The bambini shrieked to go swimming with Karen and kids...we went back to her Starr Pass time share and they had a large pool to enjoy. 
          And, when we made it over there, it was topping 106 degrees!

                     These two hawks amazed and delighted us today, as they foraged right next to the table we chose in the shade near the pool!  The male is in the tree and the female on the ground, in the grass.  A rep from the Desert Museum even stopped by to talk to Kallie and Autumn and to observe the hawks.                       The temp hit 107 today...but it's a dry heat!