Thursday, September 23, 2010


I have known her since she was just a little girl. He mother worked for me and she was the same age as my youngest so I have had the privilege of watching her grow up. As a teen, she took on a sort of Smore type persona. Hard on the outside but soft and sweet inside. She was the one who wore black while tattooing her skin and setting up multiple piercings. At 16, she put a ring in her nose just before a busy Thanksgiving shift. When I saw it, I informed her that she was not going to be able to work with it. With tears in her eyes and an incredible resolve, she folded the ring up into her nose so that it could not be seen just so she could work. I knew how painful it must have been and admired her tenacity as she stepped out on the floor to bus tables.

When my kids were teens, I had a birthday that I recall was not my happiest. My family sat around the table. I remember the mood being somewhat argumentative and I was not a happy father let alone a happy birthday camper. The phone rang and when I answered a sweet young voice sang happy birthday to me. It was just the medicine that I needed and I thanked her for making my day.

She told me a couple of years ago that she did not like Christmas because of the commercialism that it has caused. She wanted no one to give her anything at all. But, on a snowy Christmas eve, I saw her car driving down the street looking for my house. I walked out and she handed me a package. I was so touched by her going out on that stormy cold night. She gave me a Oregon Duck mug and the Duck cell phone sleeve that I proudly wear today.

And now, as a single mom, she waits tables for us and works hard to support herself and her two small children. I am just as tough on her as I am on the others servers, pushing her to get her orders out and to greet new customers quickly. While she is not the fastest most efficient server that we have, she is definitely one of the hardest workers and has the skill that I most highly look for in a server, she cares more for the person that she is serving than the money that they put on the table.

And so tonight as I lay in bed, awoken by Max, our rather large and personality filled cat, who was looking for a spot on our bed to call his own, I was startled by my cell phone vibrating that it had a text message. Upon closer inspection, I could see that it was coming from Kara. The text was simple and sweet: "I just wanted to be the first one to wish you a Happy Birthday. I love u. Kara.

I smiled as I sent her a quick response and lay there with a smile on my face......and a resolve to write a small piece about a young lady who has touched me......Thanks Kara!

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Dr Boo Boo

The surgery is now over a week past and I am doing very well. The first two days had my leg laying me up because the cut was along the side of my knee. But, that actually gave me opportunity to rest and read which was very good. By Monday, I was back to work and by Tuesday, I could walk up and down the steps without too much discomfort.

The young doctor who started out doing my procedure was being assisted and taught by the leader and instructor at OHSU. After finishing up my side, he started to deaden the leg in preparation of the cut. We chatted as he worked and he told me that he was leaving that evening for Chicago to go to the Notre Dame game the next day with old college buddies.

He suddenly stopped and said, "Oh, I did a boo boo.". "What?", I laughed in almost shock as you can imagine my surprise. First off, it was funny hearing those words from a doctor and secondly, what was the boo boo......after all, this was my body he was working on.

He had poked his finger while deadening my leg. The nurse immediately began to lecture him. "I should spank you for that", she said, "That is one of the things we always talk about.". "Maybe he wants spanked", I joked. That drew a roar from the doctors and nurses close by and a stop and stare from the nurse who seemed surprised to hear from the patient. She smiled as she continued to talk to the young doctor and tell him that he was off the floor and had to go to Human Resources. She then asked me if I would be willing to go up and give blood after the surgery. They had to insure that I did not have Hepatitis or Aids before the doc was allowed back on the floor. I understood and agreed.

So, yesterday, I was walking out of Fred Meyers when I recieved the call that went kind of like this:

Hello Lyle, this is Doctor J who did your surgery last week.

Dr. Boo Boo?

Yes, (laughing) I felt awful foolish about that one.

How did your game go?

Great, it was so much fun getting to see old friends and the game was fun.

I am going to the Duck game with my daughters and grandson tomorrow.

That sounds like fun. And I have good news for you.

You got it all?

Yes, the biopsies are in and the outer areas were all clear.

Thanks Doc! And good job.

Thank you, Lyle, and enjoy your game.

So, for right now, I once again have the all clear signal. My next check up is in October. I am actually enjoying parts of this new diet that I have put myself on. Last night, Trin made a tofu pasta spaghetti dish and I ate it with a bowl of fresh fruit and washed it down with a vegie/fruit drink made from colorful fruits and vegies. For desert, I had a couple of almonds covered in dark chocolate. Proof that sometimes diets can taste good.

Friday, September 10, 2010


I knew I would have a struggle sleeping tonight. Lots of thoughts fly through my head that won't allow my mind to rest enough to lull it to the area it needs to be.

Strangely enough, the surgery itself is not the main focus of my thoughts even though I do wonder just how much of a struggle my next few days will be walking as one of the surgeries is on the side of my leg right at the articulation of the knee.

Instead, my thoughts seem to fly between conversations of the day and a movie that Trinity and I watched this evening.

This morning was one of those mornings when many friends showed up. Today, however, they seem to arrive all at the same time. I walked out to the counter and found RL sitting there with a cup of coffee so I sat down and joined him. R and I used to see each other almost weekly back in the early Jake's days as he was one of the first to help me with the marketing of the product.

I have always found him to be a very genuine good man. And our friendship is one that I believe he would not hold any thoughts away from me that he might have. He asked me how I had been doing and I felt led to share with him my struggle with the cancer. He shared with me two stories. One good and one....not so good. The not so good involved a man who had some under his hair line. A mental note to myself was immediately written to insure that Margo checks out that part of me very thoroughly on our next meeting.

We talked of our families and generally got caught up with each other since our last meeting while he ate his breakfast and waited for a call from a mechanic who was working on his car.

Jess, the chaplain for the Band of Brothers, was one of the other friends and shortly, I found myself sitting out on the deck with another cup of coffee in deep conversation with him. Jess is another friend who I find so genuine. He talked about a variety of topics and he shared with me his leadership thoughts from his time in the fire dept. The one thing that bugged him the most was dishonesty. It was the thorn that hit him the hardest. "I don't have any time for liers", he said, and he confronted them without holding anything back. I shared with him how it is the thing that I too deal with the hardest except instead of confronting the issue, I tend to just lose my trust in them. Direct confrontation has always been a bit hard for me. I always try to do things to get them to see the lie and hope that they learn from my patience. I remember pondering on how much better his direct approach was for the situations and wondered if I could change my ways of handling that issue in the future.

Judy needed to take me down to pick up her new car from the shop and I remember being deep in thought of how fortunate that we are to have so many good friends around us. Many of our customers are so much more than just.....customers. They share their lives with us, their dreams and their pitfalls. Their laughter and their tears. There are some days that I can go without seeing any of them and then others, like today, when so many of the close ones that I love so much seem to show up and I end up spending my day on my butt with a cup of coffee in my hand. Do you think that may be part of why I am struggling with my sleep tonight? The coffee, I mean.

After finishing off the evening, I went home with a couple of steaks and bbq'd them for supper along with some fresh corn, fruit salad, and cottage cheese. A glass of dark vegie/fruit juice washed it all down as Trin and I prepared to watch a movie that she had gotten called 'To Save a Life'.

What an incredibly impacting movie. One that should almost be mandatory for all high schoolers and soon to be high schoolers to watch. It deals not only with teen suicide but with relationships and peer struggles. I remember as I watched it how much things have changed but have remained the same. As I watched, I remembered struggles of my own during those years that all though they did not define who I am right now, certainly laid out cornerstones of my thoughts and ways of dealing with things.

It was the end of the movie that hit me the hardest, however, and I had to share that with Trin as it impacted me so much. The main character in the film had impacted someone so much that that someone had shared that he had saved his life.

I sat their with tears welling up in my eyes as I recalled a phone conversation from a man that I knew back in high school. He was one of my brothers close friends and had been in our house a time or two.

He had called me up looking for my brothers phone number and we had chatted about our lives since High School a bit when he began to share some things with me. He talked of bullies that had affected him adversely back in those years and told me how he dealt with that later in his life by calling them up and forgiving them. I remember wondering just how those guys were affected by it and immediately thought of one who would probably still not get it. Then he hit me with it.

"You know", he began, "You and your brothers probably don't realize it but you saved my life.". He went on to tell me how unhappy he had been back then. He said that he had often thought of just ending it. "But Marvin and the rest of your family opened your arms and your house to me. Your accepted me for who I was and invited me to join your youth group at your church who did the same.".

I shared that with Trin and told her that you never know how much something you say, something you do, or the way you do it might affect someone. That can go both ways, good and bad. I don't mind being the encourager, but I can only hope that nothing that I do will cause someone to trip up.

So, I guess I have left the day before and enter the next one, both apprehensive for the next few days but extremely blessed for the friends and experiences that the day brought me. When I think of the past few years of my life, even though their have been trials and tribulations, that word seems to flash across the pictures in my mind like a large flag waving in the wind. "BLESSED".

Sunday, September 5, 2010

A day with Jay

We got up early and headed into Jake's for breakfast. As we sat at the counter, Jay asked if he could see the tickets. I handed them over without comment and he looked at them. "Pretty good seats, aren't they?", I asked. "Yes", he answered. Neither one of us realized just how good they were.

We put our flags on the side windows of the car and off we went. I love being a grandpa and I love being with my grandson. He is such a good kid and so fun to be with. We listened to music and talked as we drove over the pass to our game. "I hope it is a blowout, papa.", he said, "I like going to a game where I am pretty sure we will win.".

We had hoped to try and find the blue pool along the McKensie river along the way. But as we drove closer to the spot where I thought it was, I realized that our time was fading away, so we kept on going.

We noticed that many of the cars that were headed our way were also going to the game and joked about being in the 'Duck' parade. It seemed that most of them either sported flags or stickers on their car. The closer we got, the more cars, many of them honking as they past.

We used to park at the Williams bakery which is now the site of the new basketball court, so we drove behind the new stadium and parked on the road behind. Then we set off on foot to Autzen.

Just as we did while driving in, we talked and laughed as we kept a quick pace with the others to the excitement of the first game of the year. The closer we got, the more people we encountered and the more crazies. As we came over a rise, we saw it, our goal....Autzen Stadium.

Jay spied a stack of Game Day magazines and grabbed one off of the top. We past through the turn stills and noticed that they were not letting anyone in yet so we headed over to the practice building where they sell food before the game. Jay told me that he wanted hot dogs so we walked around looking but found no food court with hot dogs. We decided instead to go inside knowing we could get a dog there. There were no lines and we grabbed our dogs and ate them as we walked down to our seats.

The closer that I got to the bottom, I began to realize that the third row might be closer to the front than I thought. As we passed the sixth row, I counted only three more rows and I realized just how good the seats really were. We were on the front row. As we walked down the row, we found that it was even better. Our seats were the last ones on the row, closest to the middle of the field. As we sat down, we were looking down at the 20 yrd line just to our left. We looked off to our right and saw the students section that was filling fast while we were the only ones in our section for rows behind.

We sat and watched as the players warmed up on the field. We weren't sure who was who but we soaked in the realization of just how close to the action we were going to be. We watched as two or three of what we figured were alumni stood in a circle and talked. I wondered openly who they were. The student section started chanting "Joey.....Joey". I looked down and watched as Joey Harrington walked over to the circle and began talking with them not twenty feet from us.

Shortly, the chant changed to "Uncle Phil" and I watched as Phil Knight walked over. He stood just past the wall in front of us. "Come on Jay", I said, "Let's go get your picture with Phil Knight". A few years ago, Jay would have just complied but I have noticed that as he has grown and is now about to go into Middle school, that he has began to have his own mind and he did nto want to. "Ok, little buddy, but I want you to let you know something. Ten years from now, you will look back at this and say, 'Man, I wish I would have done that.'". I told him that I knew that as a fact from the various decisions that I made that I regretted later. I hoped that he would let that set in and change his mind but no such luck. So, I didn't bother asking when Chip Kelly showed up.

I noticed two things as I watched the team continue to warm up. First, their confidence. They walked and warmed up like they knew they were special. Not cocky but confident. And the second thing was that right in the middle of them was Chip, clapping to the beat of the music that was being broadcast while the team did the same with their warm ups and stretches. The team spread out over the field and then faced the other team as they worked out. I knew the other team must have been intimidated by it all. They then brought themselves into a smaller and smaller circle around him before breaking up and heading back off the field to come back on for their official entrance.

We called as many people as we could and asked Trinity to tape the game knowing that we would probably be able to see us a time or two on it. The excitement built as the team ran onto the field and before we knew it, the kickoff had started.

The Ducks received and the plays came so fast that the Lobos could not even set up their defense. Before we knew it, they were right in front of us and I began to snap pictures of the game. Someone behind me said, "From this great spot, those pictures should be good enough for a magazine.". Just then, one of the Lobos picked off a pass and another man behind me said, "Yea, but that one would be better for a magazine in New Mexico.". Jay and I agreed that just about every game that we have come to, the Ducks have turned it over in the first possession.

But, the Lobos fortune was short lived as the swarming Duck defense shut them down and in what seemed like seconds, the Ducks were up 21-0. Trin texted me to tell me that they could see us on tv. I looked down and noticed that a street dressed player was being interviewed right in front of us so I told Jay to wave and with both waved at the cameras wondering if the girls could see us on TV. I texted and asked them if they could and soon got the answer, "Yes!". Later, the taping of the game showed that you could see me sending that text.

Before the end of the first quarter, I noted that the Lobo's defense had their hands on their hips and looked tired. The Ducks seemed to be running them ragged.

The first half seemed to drag in the fact that their always seemed to be lots of time left after each touchdown and on the other hand seemed to fly by as the excitement of each score made time fly. Before we knew it, it was almost half time and Jay and I decided to go back up for another dog before the rush of half time. Once again, we hit no line as we ordered our dogs and sat at the top of the stadium wall eating them. Trin called me and asked where we were as they had just scanned our seats and we were gone. I told her and she said that they figured that might be where we were.

We found our seats again and Jay asked if he could go back up and fill his water bottle. He wanted to do it on his own and as he is almost in Middle school, I decided to allow it I told him to hurry back as I didn't want him gone during the rush out for half time. He agreed to and headed up the steps. I watched as the Ducks kicked a field goal and then held the Lobos on yet another 3 and out. The time was ticking down getting closer to halftime as the Lobos set to punt back. I nervously watched up the steps and smiled as I saw the yellow hard hat of Jay's coming down the steps. A roar brought be back to the game as I watched the same player who had ran back a punt minutes before run yet another back and the score was soon 59 to 0 at the half. Jay appologized for taking so long but told me that one family wanted to take his picture in his hard hat. I had noted that many had complimented him on it.

Jay and I watched the half time show and stood up leaning over the railing in front of us as we talked and waited for the second half. I asked him if he wanted to go after the third quarter and he said, "No, I want to stay for the whole game.". I asked him if he wanted to go down on the field and he again said, "No, about 2 minutes before the end, let's go up and get ready to beat the rush.".

We did just that and were up and ready to leave as the Ducks dropped on the final snap just 5 yards from another score We had no idea that the 72 points that they had score had tied some sort of record. As we walked down the steps, we noticed that the team was coming out so Jay ran ahead and positioned himself to slap hands with them as they came off the field. I watched and smiled as Jay finished off his big game with a flair, slapping hands on the last two players, the Quarterback and the Running back who had set a new team record in scoring while only playing less than a half.

We then darted through the masses back towards the car stopping only at the other big finish for the day, Track Town Pizza. Jay found us a seat while I ordered the pizza. I forgot just how big their pizzas are and we ended up sitting across from a small family who happily took up our offer of sharing our pie with them We sat at the table watching other football games and talking with others of the game we had just seen.

Tired but happy, we made our way up to the car and headed home. For me, a great day and a great time with my grandson. For him, I hope an experience that he will not forget.