The Search

Of everything
There is so much more than a name
There is so much more than an age
There is so much more than what you see
There is so much more beyond me

Thursday, December 30, 2010


Another year......

If last year, 2009 was my year of “Awakening”.....

as it was.....

Then 2010 was my year of “Discovery”.....

In the months following my heart attack in ’09 I worked hard to bring myself and my body back physically and mentally....It honestly did take a full 12 months.....

I’ve found it interesting that numerous times throughout 2010 I would make a statement to someone about something and “sweet thang” would gently remind me that “no hon, that happened last year”..... There are really some parts missing. Probably just as well I don’t know everything, but this year has been a different story......

2010 has been a year of discovering a lot about my new world and how I grew from the years before. there has been much to experience and savor.......

Because of the year before I knew it was time to uncover what was going to keep this old body ticking and it was time to dig deep and start repairing many years of damage.

January heard my doctor tell me it was safe to go off of the blood thinner I had been on for a year, and that it was now ok to have the much needed surgery on my back.... but that we still had some work ahead of us to get my blood levels where he wanted them. I had discovered a whole new world of drugs and medications that had kept me alive and was going to continue to make me better.... Part of all this was finally learning to trust my doctors and be comfortable in doing what they told me..... wow! This was a biggie for me....

Feburary - the trip out of state, my beloved “x-stop” implanted by my back surgeon, and finally some relief, followed by rehab and learning many new ways to help myself. Believe me, this girl was now on a mission..... All of the things I had been putting off was now going to get taken care of, come hell or high water....

Speaking of “high water”, March brought the long awaited bladder surgery... oh the wonders of modern medicine!

April and May brought another spring with yard work, and more rehab on the back. With that came the realization that the more I used my back and legs the less convinced I was the surgery had worked as well as I had hoped.... May also heard my eye doctor tell me my cataracts need to come off but he wanted to wait and let me rebuild some before I had yet another surgery.....

June came and went with catching up on some and exciting changes at our business, and getting the camper ready to take off for some fishing and summer dog daze of relaxation.......It was also about this time our kids reminded us that 2011 would be our 50th wedding anniversary and wanted us to start thinking about throwing a party or taking a trip or something special.... they put us to work coming up with some plans and ideas.. (more brain exercise)! and.....more discoveries. I had a project now that I could put my organizational skills back to work. I’ve always been a list maker, but this would be a big test....

July and August found us meeting up and renewing friendships with long distance family we had not seen in a long time, new friends, good exercise, good campfire cooked foods, and beautiful scenery......

And then September....fall, my favorite time of the year..... except for the fact that I had to meet with all my doctors for checkup’s..... where had the time gone?

September 13th blood test for CT scan

September 14th CT scan ordered by the cancer doctor

September 21st fasting blood test for regular doctor yearly check up which included all of the tests the heart doctor also wanted.

September 30th appointment with the cancer doctor to tell me that even though I still have lymphoma I am still in remission.

October 5th MRI for back doctor

October 13th appointment with heart doctor

October 19th heart machine stress test

October 22 appointment with heart doctor to tell me I passed all my tests and pleased all of the doctors with my progress.

And a very long talk with my back doctor which set the seed for some new revelations.

November brought the beginning of some much needed dental work

An eye exam to schedule cataract surgery

My 68th birthday, a wonderful Thanksgiving..........

Wth all of that going on I really had not had much time to write.... plus I needed a break from thinking and needed to concentrate on doing....... thus, my absense from my blog and a lot of communication with others....

And here we are..... December and it’s almost over with! We had a wonderful Christmas, and the best present of all arrived early in the month on a shopping trip ........ Quite by accident I learned more about my back pain and some things I can do to help it......

Following the MRI in October the doctor told that other areas of my back are now breaking down..... It’s so hard to explain to others but I am honestly used to the regular back pain and that news neither surprised or saddened me.... I can deal for now with the pain in my back. What has been the worst all along is the pain in my right hip/leg which prevents me from walking and being as active as I want.

During the long talk with my back doctor he explained that at this point he does not want to start further surgery on my back..... as one thing will normally lead to another once the process of fusion’s, rods, screws & invasive spinal surgery begins. Because of other’s I know who has dealt with the same I understand what he’s telling me and agree. As long as I can movtivate enough to get by for now, I do not want to start that at this time..... He suggested we try to focus on that right hip/leg area with additional shots......

I was even leery about that so I then set the goal in my own mind of focusing on the particular areas that was shutting me down.

Here it was December and time to go Christmas shopping which always includes a trip to the big mall about 40 miles for us..... A full day of walking around with few places to rest, not only was I dreading it, I knew I had my work cut out for me.....

In the parking lot the walk just to get to the store is a challenge, so I’m setting in the car and told sweet thang, we’re going to do this different today.... I am going to walk VERY, very slow, stop often and try extremely hard not to irritate this hip before the day even starts..... He agreed we didn’t have to hurry so out of the car I get. He also agreed to be the money man so I didn’t have to carry a purse....

I had also mapped out a route before we left home, I knew exactly which stores I wanted to go to, which direction they were from the esculators, which level off we go. I forced myself to stay at a slow pace, if I felt a twinge I stopped, every time I seen a chair I set down for awhile.......

Before I knew it, even though several hours had passed we had most of our shopping done! As purchases were made sweet thang would carry a load to the car and I would take another break..... There is no way I could have done this on my own but the results was one of the biggest discoveries of the year.....

My hip had not locked up once.... It was tired and it was sore but the angonizing sharp pain that usually shut me down had not set in..... volla’! had I actually uncovered a way to survive this?..... I believe so. Had I been unknowingly irritating this all along because I had refused to slow down and allow it to go at it's own pace?

By giving into my limp, letting my body go in the direction it wanted to and not forcing it with irritating pressures and speed, I had survived being on it most of the day....

I’m going to end this year in review

Tomorrow is another day and in another 48 hours it will be another year..... I’ve got much to do but just had to get on here at least once more this year..... As the new year begins I know my discoveries will also continue and I’ll share them with you. It will be an exciting year as there will be a lot of exciting things happening...... I will keep ya posted...........

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Mary B and Mary B

This picture was taken in about 1946. My granddad was one of the first to bring the "Domino" line of Hereford cattle to Reno County Kansas, and proudly raised a large herd on his ranch in the early 40's and 50's. He had a habit of naming his cattle after people in the family. When his first prize cow had a calf about the same time I was born, she was given the registered name of "Mary B Domino". We were approximately 3 years old when this picture was taken. During the years I was growing up, and often into adulthood, all of my aunts and uncles endearingly called me Mary B. My uncles are all gone now and I'll probably never hear that "Mary B" again, so as part of my heritage I wanted to share this story...... Don't ya think I even looked like tarzan then?...... :)

Sunday, September 19, 2010

And All is Quiet

"To be quiet surrounded by the beauty of nature,

is to rest in the arms of God"

“The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation, and Enforcement has confirmed that the cementing operation on the Macondo well was successful, that the well has been permanently sealed with cement plugs, and that pressure tests verify the integrity of the plugs”.

Finally it’s dead

In recognition of all whose heroic efforts brought this to a conclusion......Prayers being sent for the fishing industries to resume, and all future drilling to be as safe and reliable as possible, so the people’s of the gulf can return to their livelihoods. Also for our earth to heal from the damage we humans inflict upon it.

~~~~~~~~~~Not to be forgotten~~~~~~~~

Eleven crew members died during the April 20 explosion; 115 were rescued.

*Jason Anderson, 35, toolpusher, of Midfield, Texas. He and his wife Shelley have two children.

*Dale Burkeen, 37, a crane operator from outside Philadelphia. He and wife, Rhonda, have two children.

*Donald Clark, 49, assistant driller, of Newellton, La. He and his wife, Sheila, have four children.

*Stephen Curtis, 39, assistant driller, of Georgetown, La. He and his wife Nancy have two children.

*Gordon Jones, 28, mud engineer, of near Baton Rouge, La. He left behind a pregnant wife, Michelle, and a son.

*Roy Wyatt Kemp, 27, assistant driller, of Jonesville, La. He and his wife, Tracy, have two daughters

*Karl Kleppinger, 38, floorhand, of Natchez, Miss. He left behind his wife, Tracy, and a 17-year-old son.

*Dewey Revette, 48, driller, of State Line, Miss. He and his wife, Sherri, have two children.

*Shane Roshto, 22, roustabout, of Franklin County, Miss. He left behind his wife, Natalie.

*Adam Weise, 24, floorhand, of Yorktown, Texas. He was not married.

The future of the well being of our earth, it’s inhabitants, the renewable energy and oil industries, depends on each one of us. Only through self education, personal effort and taking nothing for granted can this be accomplished.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

There is Always a Way

He Jumped the Pot!

There are some things you just cannot control.......this little petunia is one of them. Evidently he didn’t like where he had been planted so with the help of who knows what, wind, a stray seed, a broken root or God’s hand, he got out of the pot and did his own thing.....

We have cracks in our sandstone patio that is filled only with sand and cement. This little guy didn’t seem to care and what a story he has to tell.

Who needs or gets the perfect well nourished soil to grow in? It’s there, but he chose the harder way. Maybe just didn’t like the conditions he was living in and searched for something better? Maybe it’s because it’s a little more exciting, or he knew it would strengthen him if he chose another route regardless of it’s challenges.

His tiny roots had to struggle as they took hold, dug in deep, and then put out stems to reach for the sun.

He took nourishment where he could get it.

Had I been here to give him advice I’d told him not to even try because it appeared impossible. I’d have said “no, don’t go there it will never work, it will be too hard on you”. But we were gone and I didn’t have a chance to put him back in the pot where his life would be safer, so he did it anyway..........

And look at him now........growing with beautiful blossoms and brightness to warm the world. I’m sure it hurt at first, but he withstood the pain, overcame whatever obstacles he met, conquered his fear, and instead, put his energy into making himself stronger. Not only did he grow but he is thriving into a beautiful boquet to give others beauty.

He is making the best of a quite unrealistic situation. By all reasonable scenarios, he should not be living, let alone blooming.

He is finding his way thru the most inconceivable life one can imagine

He searched for and found a way to survive and found a way to live after all

He planted himself in the middle of nothing and found something

Even though he came through a tiny minuscule crack with everything against him, totally impractical, he took a risk, and found a way......He found his way, he found HIS way.......

And look at him now - Look what he accomplished - Look at what he is.

If you hear a voice within you say "you cannot paint," then by all means paint, and that voice will be silenced. ~Vincent Van Gogh

The Mechanics

If your car is sick you take it to the mechanic. Granted, there are good mechanics and bad mechanics, and hopefully you’ll get a good one. They even have computers these days to hook up to the car to help find the problem. Engines and other working parts have become so complicated it’s nearly impossible to fix them at home. It’s everyone’s dream to find a mechanic they can trust....someone who cares about making the sick car well again, someone who will explain the problem to us, and has the ability and training to make it right again. You have to be able to trust your mechanic. That’s not always easy, but it’s always necessary. Most folks will take it in for regular maintenance, and/or if there is a problem. I don’t know anyone who just drives their vehicles until they quit running.

If you have a sick tree in your yard you call a horticulturist.

If your TV goes whacko you call a TV repairman.

If your refrigerator quits you call an appliance repairman.

When your computer quits you take it to the shop and pray they can preserve your data.

All the above are professionals trained to fix the problems. We’re always hesitant to turn any of the above over to someone else, but we have to TRUST if we need help from any of them. Even if the hard drive on your computer quits, sometimes they can retrieve the data and sometimes it just means learning to live without some of it.

Why then do we refuse to trust the medical professionals? If a doctor tells us we need to exercise, why do we look for reasons not to? The same with eating healthier, taking medicines, undergoing tests, treatments, surgeries, or anything else a doctor might recommend.

Why can we not trust doctors? Sure there are a few bad apples in the bunch, but for the most part they are professionals who have been highly trained in the mechanics of our bodies. They are not there to hurt us, they are there to help us, and by not trusting what they say or recommend we are turning our backs on feeling better and living longer.

Of course there comes a time when something simply cannot be fixed and we have to learn to live with it broken or get a new one, or do whatever we can to improve the situation. Sometimes that means driving with a rattle or a window that won’t roll down, or a fridge that runs night and day, or a tree that has gangly limbs, or a TV with a messed up picture. Sometimes it’s legs that have been damaged in order to save your life, sometimes it’s something you were born with, and sometimes, God just has another plan.

Sometimes - it’s just a matter of giving in and trusting....... Trusting that even though it might hurt, and it might take some time, in the end you can be helped if you are willing to trust.

Pastor reminded us this morning that “God always has another move left” Yep, when everyone thought he was nailed to the cross and finished, he had yet another surprise for us.

If I would have had a choice during my heart attack, and known ahead of time, I may not have felt comfortable or trusted the doctors to do everything that was done to me. Thank goodness I wasn’t making the decisions then. What makes me think I have to make the decisions now? All I have to do is listen to my heart, keep reaching out, and trust those who can help me.

God works through the car mechanics, the appliance repairers, the TV repairers, the tree doctors and the people doctors....... It’s up to us to learn to trust the professionals, and it’s up to us to spread that trust, and it's up to us to help ourselves through whatever means is available to us.

Hearts and Home........

It’s very odd to be away from home like we have been for 6 weeks. It’s always amazing to me that “some things never change” and home is like that. Not only do we walk back in on the same carpet with the same furniture setting on it, our old comfy bed waiting on us, our favorite TV channels, the same dirty spot on the baseboard, the same pictures on the walls and the same windows with the same view, but it’s more than that.

It’s a familiarity of ourselves reflected in where we are. I’ve seen bums living under an overpass who may only sleep on a cardboard box and use a fire pit to cook in, who appear to be “at home”. It is their refuge, it is where they return to at the end of the day. It may not be fancy or even clean but it’s their own cardboard box.

We were eager to attend our Church service this morning as we hadn't been in nearly two months. It was as we left it, warm and inviting. Our Church family has been carrying on as usual in our absence, the pastor is still preaching, there are ongoing heartaches and joys to share. Ever changing and unchanging we felt at home.....

When we’re in our camper we are also “at home”. Temporary as it is, and used primarily for recreation, I have made the effort to decorate it as well as I can with pictures, pillows on the couch, soft furniture, a coffee pot that’s always on & flowers on the table. I keep the fridge full of foods that can be prepared at a moments notice, chairs that are comfortable to set in, and a hook for our hats & coats, or yours. I have real dishes in the cabinets instead of paper plates, throw rugs, and small tables to set your coffee cup on..... It is home when we’re away from home, but when we return our real home awaits us.

Our refuge, our place to shut out the rest of the world, our possessions, a place that has a place for unread magazines, a special little candle, my favorite rocks, our funny footprints across the carpet, and a special room full of a hodgepodge of items I don’t know what to do with. You’ll find dirty shoes by the back door, an unmade bed, paper laying around where I can get to my constant lists of “things to do”, laptop computers on the coffee table & beside my chair, and a stack of correspondence laying out on the desk. I have a vase full of dried “weeds” in the dining room simply because I like them and picked them the week we moved in 10 years ago. I have coasters setting around that everyone (including us) forget use so there are rings on all the side tables. There is usually a dirty skillet on my stove top in the kitchen and most always you’ll see a pen & paper, a flour sifter and spoon that didn’t get put away laying in a fruit bowl on my island that never seems to get fruit put in it..... There’s a loaf of bread on the counter instead of in the bread box, bottles of vitamin's in the bread box along with some rubber bands, broken pencils and chip clips, and it seems there is always a jar of something setting out that didn’t get put away, and the windows always need washed.....

It’s not just a building, it’s home, full of memories, messes and times to come, full of us.

They say “Home is Where the Heart is” but it’s even more than that..... Since the heart has many chambers I have many homes......We’re happy to be back where we can dream of leaving again and returning again only to dream some more about leaving again. God willing our home will always be the place to get away from, the place we are when we’re away, and "here" to come back to.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Still Rollin' On........

Back on the Rio Grande this summer, I took this picture on a walk early this morning. I was accompanied by a couple of little river wren’s who thought they needed to make sure I knew where I was going….. As I picked out a rock to set on and view the scene around me, they perched in one of the willows not far from me and proceeded to chirp visit with each other while I just set and observed the on going path of nature.

It’s not a whole lot different than it was last year about this time, hmmm…. Did I expect something different? Well, yes, maybe so……

According to some people, the evening news, certain politicians, some publications, the world is surly going to hell before us. Nothing is good, nothing is right; nothing will ever be the same…… There is so much negativity in our lives today it’s very easy to start believing all the doom and gloom…

How refreshing to be out here in God’s wonderland…. The grasses are still growing, the wild flowers are blooming, the river continues to flow, the breeze is still whispering thru the trees, the rocks are still shinning in the waters, the birds still sing happy tunes, and I am reminded of all the good our earth brings us every day, if we just take the time to notice.

Peace……If you can’t find it where you are, please search for a place where you can get it. It’s not often our lives allow total quiet. I have it here now at this moment, with not another human being in site. No traffic, no media, and no one telling me how bad everything is.

Just my God, His waters, and His beauty, my life touching His and making it all good again and still……. A perfect renewal of faith and blessings and strength. Colors of Peace and sounds of silence......a serene smile in my heart

May it also all be yours…… just close your eyes, pull up a rock and set beside me and rest your soul….

Sunday, June 27, 2010

The Introduction......

It was an interesting if not amazing group of approximately 80 individuals at the barbecue last night. The majority of those attending were “professional’s” as it was the going away party for some co-workers of a mutual friend of the host and all those invited. There were “sweet thang” and I, and maybe 7 to 10 others who were not part of their working group. A need to get off my feet led me to a table occupied by a single lady whose husband was unable to attend. As our conversation went on, we found that we had more and more in common. By the end of the evening we had indeed struck a friendship and I’m sure I’ll see her again.

She is one year older than I, she loves nature, she used to live near where I was born and raised, she loves to write, she loves trees, and she is a very open and grounded person and I totally enjoyed getting to know her. She invited me to tour her home just a few minutes from where the party was being held……

In visiting with her she ask a lot of questions about me…..The reflection of the answers I gave her, made me stop to look at who this person writing these words in front of you really is. During the discussion on writing I told her about this blog I am sharing with the world. She was very curious and interested in possibly starting a blog of her own so I hope she checks this out one day. I believe it was at that moment I met myself again.

I realized how much I had missed setting down to visit with you about my participation in the search for, and sharing with you “so much more”. As we stood in her garden surrounded by the beautiful personal touches she had added to it, with a backdrop of the majestic rocky mountains glistening with golden tones in the sunset sky, I knew that it was time for a personal meeting with my mind. I drew a deep breath and felt I had found a way to introduce myself to me again…..

Having a secure handle on all of the distractions that has kept me away the past few weeks, it is time to get on with tasks at hand and that meant sitting down to clear my mind of all that and let some thoughts flow.

I've missed out on so much..... reading other's blogs, my writing, spending time in my searches, allowing me to be me, really looking at my flowers instead of working in the yard, taking time to appreciate my life and that which surrounds me.

Where might my new friend lead me? She has already given me that break I needed. God brings people together for a reason and I can hardly wait to find out the reason behind our meeting……

Do you suppose I’m talking about the lady I met at the party last night or myself? I’m not sure yet either but stick around and we’ll figure it out together.

Meeting My Mind

It’s always a surprise to me when I realize I need some time away from myself to take care of the rest of the world, and that’s what’s been going on for the past few weeks since I last posted.So many issues had worked themselves into my life, I have been spending hours taking care of those and in order to absorb them all, I had to walk away from me for a while. The lists of busy things have been checked off and, I’ve handled all that was needed to satisfy their requirements then last night I met me again.

This “me” I reconnected with was a pleasant meeting…… I’m still running about par for the course and none the worse for wear, though still a bit overwhelmed with all that goes on in the basics of life. I look at those with great admiration who are able to handle it all, or those who choose to stay detached and keep their lives simple. I have always wished I were that way.

Alas, the list of things that needed my attention had to be taken care of or I would never be able to meet me again. The list doesn’t seem like much when I write it down but each of the following has multi facets to it requiring a complete jumbled mess in my mind that had to be straightened out before I could continue with life.

The Gulf oil spill was and is taking up a lot of my time. I’ve been reading “the oil drum” web site as often as possible as it’s a great place to sort out fact from fiction. There are so many levels to that study alone, industry impact, political, the technological aspects of the gusher itself, the problems with working 5,000 ft. under the sea, the clean up efforts and the potential damage it will do to the coast line. Not to mention the theories on why it happened and what could happen with a worst case scenario. Though I now have a better idea of all that, it remains a priority with me but it is easier to come to grips with the more I understand it.

The Business…..With the kids taking turns for vacation time, sweet thang and I have been making ourselves available to help out when needed so they can have some time away from the daily grind…. I’ve not been needed much but regardless my mind is always on standby.

Plans for a year from now….. We will be celebrating our 50th wedding anniversary in June of 2011. The kids have been after us to decide how we want to acknowledge this event. We’ve were told that if we choose to invite others and have it at a facility, we need to reserve a place now because of it being on a Saturday and a very popular date for weddings. All of that plus looking at many other options, deciding which way we wanted to go, looking at a number of locations, choosing a place and booking it. That done, started a chain of swirling decisions in my mind as far as guests list, centerpieces, food choices, decorations, etc. etc. etc….. and a book full of things that will need done before now and then.

Also, less than a year away in March of 2011 is a trip that sweet thang and I have already planned for just ourselves. This has called for even more planning and lists of things to get done before then.

A Reunion….. I already have two notebooks full of lists going for both of those events then I got a call from an old classmate needing help and ideas for my 50th class reunion, so notebook #3 was started with ideas & requirements on how to entertain 25 senior citizens who are making an effort to celebrate being out of high school for 50 years. This will be fun to plan, but no easy task….

Others……In the midst of all the above, I have been worried about some particular friends…. One who may be facing a return of her cancer and one whose husband just lost his job and our friends who live in the gulf and are dealing with a ton of stress regarding the oil spill.

Knowing that this summer will speed by and fall will be arriving quickly which brings the holidays, then before we know it 2011 will have arrived! That has thrown us into high gear trying to get as many basic details taken care of now.

Then last night we were invited to a back yard barbecue. We finally laid all the above aside for a few hours and enjoyed an evening out. I took time to allow myself a reintroduction to myself and a few moments to reflect on where everything stands now and how I can proceed with life…….. It was an interesting little break in the action…… Stay tuned........

Sunday, June 6, 2010

The Individuals

In memorandum to the eleven workers killed on the transocean BP deep horizon rig:

Remembering those lost on Deepwater Horizon

You can read their personal stories at this site:

Jason Anderson

Aaron Dale Burkeen

Donald Clark

Stephen Curtis

Roy Wyatt Kemp

Karl Kleppinger

Gordon Jones (M-I SWACO)

Blair Manuel (M-I SWACO)

Dewey Revette

Shane Roshto

Adam Weise

My thoughts go this morning to a guy we became very good friends with back in the 60’s, now passed. I will call him “TO”….. He was an elderly gentleman who had started his oilfield career in Oklahoma in the early boom days when there were wooden sidewalks in town and the streets were filled with the remnants of the oil activity around them. They mostly lived in tents out on the locations of the drilling sites. He had been involved in many of the early and frequent gushers on land, very dangerous situations when the recovery of oil was still in it’s baby stages. His wife was a wonderful lady and a fantastic cook, her cream, lemon and berry pies were the best in the county. She prepared and packed his meals before he left for whatever shift he was working. This was either “daylight tour” – “morning tour” – or “evening tour”, changing as the need arose.

TO made the comment to me one time that he always ate his pie first as soon as he got to location because he never knew if he’d make it through the day or night to have it as dessert after his meal and he wasn’t about to miss it.

Funny, but true….. TO was for sure one of a kind.


Sunday July 20th, 1981, 6:00 a.m. the ringing phone startled us awake. The man on the other end of the receiver said “there has been an accident….the whole crew (including your son) is being transported as I speak, on a flight for life helicopter to” …… through my muffled sobs I didn’t hear anything else as I handed the phone to my husband. As I tried to get out of bed and stand up, my legs begin to crumple beneath me and I had to grab the edge of the dresser to stay on my feet. Dressing as quickly as possible we rushed to the car and started the 2 hour drive ahead to get us to the receiving hospital. All we knew was that he was alive and was in the ICU burn unit. Communications were confused and they had given us the wrong name and location of the hospital, so time stretched before us as we got to the right place where he lay. The trip from our home to there was agonizingly slow as we searched for him and was directed from hospital to hospital.

When we finally arrived and explained that we were his parents they pointed the way to his room. Each room had large windows so the medical personnel could keep an eye on the patients… we walked past his room the first time because we didn’t recognize the young man lying in the bed… We did not recognize our son until I stopped to look in his eyes.

His face swollen to the size of a large inflated balloon was a mass of red and black and white. The red was blood, the black was burned flesh, and the white was open wounds seeping fluid. Between the IV lines attached to him, and the oxygen tubes, I leaned over to kiss him on the forehead and my heart ached because I could not hold him in my arms….. My baby boy lay close to death and I couldn’t even touch him.

As he lifted his hand, fluids ran in a steady stream from his fingers back to the piles of gauze lying beneath him. Those were the beginning hours of 10 days in ICU and many agonizing months of recuperation…

It had all started following his freshman year in college….. He had gotten a job on a rig, the perfect summer job that would provide the hands on experience he needed as he pursued his petroleum engineer degree. The “total” education required to teach him the practical side of his studies.. As is standard practice, the driller had stopped by their various homes that morning to collect his crew of 4 others and head out to the rig which in this case was located about 40 miles from our house. They had left our house about 4:00 a.m. Our son was up, dressed and ready when the driller drove in the driveway.

As was popular in those days and in an effort to reduce the cost of travel, the driller had outfitted his old suburban with a propane tank behind the back seats… On the way to location that morning, he had stopped off at a producing lease to get some fuel. As he filled the enclosed tank, one of the hands who was sleeping next to our son in the 2nd seat awoke, and in his sleepy daze, lit a cigarette. As he did, the spark overtook the fumes inside of the vehicle and there was an instant explosion. Our son remembers only seeing flashes of fire surrounding him. The doors flew open as the men escaped, as soon as he was out of the vehicle, he run away into the field to the only safety away from the fire he could see ahead. Eventually the driller was able to catch him, threw him to the ground where he was rolled in the dirt until the flames were extinguished. At that time the driller (who was not in the vehicle at the time of the explosion and therefore the only one not injured) got all of the burned crew loaded back in the vehicle and drove them to the nearest hospital. Thank God only the inside of the vehicle had burned and it was still in operating condition. It was a 25 mile drive to where they could get help. On the way some of the men were screaming, some were crying, one was unconscious…and our son remembers hearing his own groans expressing the horrendous pain….

In visiting with one of the nurses at that hospital later, she said it had started out as a quite, beautiful summer morning and shortly after she came on duty she was in the hall way leading from the main entrance to emergency. She heard some yelling, looked up and here were 4 monster looking men coming in the doors ….some barely able to walk, dead flesh hanging from each of them, and all of them screaming that there was another one unconscious out in the car….. There was a flurry of action as everyone was grabbing gurneys, getting the men as comfortable as possible, administering oxygen and pain medications to them and the immediate help they needed. As doctors and nurses did what they could to stabilize their patients, arrangements were made for flight for life in order to transport them to another hospital where they could receive the specialized care they needed at the largest equipped burn unit in our state. They were in flight when we got the call that morning.

Following our initial shock the situation was assessed and we started dealing day to day with the after effects of 3rd degree burns over 30% of our beloved son’s body. I stayed with him that night and the next afternoon I remember as he slipped in and out of consciousness he came to long enough to request a drink of water. I reached for the cup on the bedside table, and the nurse that was in the room at the time yelled at me…. She grabbed my hand, said “NO! He MUST learn to use those hands, he can pick up the glass himself”. The tears ran down all of our faces as he struggled to reach for it, pick up the glass of water, bring it to his lips, suck through the straw, and swallow the refreshing liquid it held. At the time I thought she was the cruelest person on earth, and it was all I could to to restrain myself……but I soon learned what she was trying to teach us. Later she apologized to me for sounding so harsh, but she knew what she was doing and it was a necessary step in his recovery.

The morning routines started with my son’s daily soaking bath where he was handed a mirror and taught to hold and use the large tweezers to pull the dead skin from his body….. following that, medications were applied to help with pain control and healing, and the therapist arrived to work with him on the stretching exercises for his hands, necessary to keep the new skin pliable. It was a daily routine as his wounds healed and he was eventually moved to a regular room, then home.

Home brought it’s own challenges as he learned to deal with the shocked looks on his friends faces as they came to visit him for the first time, and the challenge of being able to sleep through the night without reliving the trauma of the flash fire. It brought our first visit to the vehicle where we viewed his beautiful hair that had melted and matted to the inside head covering on the inside roof of the vehicle. The months passed, he did not return to the rigs that summer but was able to return to college in the fall. Transferring to a larger, out of state college the next year, he returned and worked on the drilling rigs over semester breaks and the next summer. After college and two years following the receipt of his degree he was hired as an engineer working on off shore rigs in the Indian Ocean off the coast of Indonesia for two more years. He continues this day working in the industry and running our business. We love having he and his family close to us again!

The boy who lit the cigarette and was burned the worst, also continues working on the rigs and is one of the best tool pushers we have around in the area and we see him often as he brings work into our shop on a regular basis. One of the other guys developed a bad drinking problem and lost his family through divorce, and has not been heard of in a long time, another guy went into a different career, and the driller died a few years later from a heart attack.

The accident they were in could have been prevented. Do we hold resentment against the man and the industry that caused our son’s suffering and almost cost him his life? I can only say there were years when both were at the surface, but eventually we let it go and realized it was yet another incident in our world’s quest for a necessary evil.

I do not use the word evil lightly…. Along with the bad, it has been very good to us, it has taught us much. The biggest lesson was that nothing worth having is easy. Along with knowing that propane tanks should not be hauled inside vehicles, we know the importance of following the rules (already in place in the industry) to constantly monitor processes, putting safety first for the individuals involved, and how ongoing technology will improve the methods of protection. There is still so much more for everyone to learn…..

Through our son’s suffering and through the lives lost of many others over the years to bring us this product, we know that we have a choice of learning about and appreciating and improving what we have, and/or stopping the quest completely… It is up to us.

This has been a difficult post….. bringing up painful memories is never easy but I felt it was necessary to make you stop and think about the people who are directly involved. Each one of the hundreds of thousands oil field workers for the drilling companies, production companies and support companies has their own story and each one is unique. Our son was left with a few scars inside and out, and no longer works on the rigs directly but instead repairs and develops equipment needed to keep rigs running safely. He takes his work seriously. Today he is today a healthy, happy husband, father of two beautiful children and a loving son who proudly calls himself “oilfield trash”, 3 generations of it.

In memory of the eleven men who died in the gulf spill accident, and their families I say thank you to them and I know there is so much more to what they did for us.