Tag Archives: Oregon

books, etc

Its been a while since my last post. Why, you ask? At the beginning of October we went to Orlando, Florida on a Make-A-Wish trip. We stayed at the amazing Give Kids the World Village which also supplied my family tickets to more theme parks than you can see in a six-day period. If we could have that one day, like in the movie “Groundhog Day”, to be repeated over and over again it would be any one day on the trip. It was great to share in that once-in-a-lifetime experience with my parents and in-laws (who are also huge Disney fans). The volunteers at The Village (I miss you free ice cream people), the people who donated to this wonderful cause, and the theme parks’ VIP service to Make-A-Wish families made all of our experience unforgettable.

Karma! Life finds a way to balance itself or so it seems. After coming back from Orlando we had only a short couple of weeks to recover and relish in the trip before the first snowfall and cold weather hit. What came with the early winter was sickness. Layla had bacterial pneumonia (which brought on new seizures), Maggie had a never-ending cough and stuffy nose which included pink-eye, I fought through my bout of bronchitis, and Amy was achy with a  sore throat while taking care of us all. Of course as adults with kids we don’t have the privilege of comfortably recovering from our illnesses. On television we see a family all red-nosed and hoarse while sprawled on the couches in the living room. The kids are cradled up against the mom and dad…it could be a humorous sight but in real life…IT SUCKS!! Pneumonia is nothing to shrug at for lissencephaly kids. From Halloween to almost Christmas we have only enjoyed a few sick free days.


Another reason why I have taken a break in my reading and blog-writing is because we are taking steps towards relocating our family to Oregon.

Not only do I love the cool mistiness in the air, the picturesque landscape and being within close proximity to the ocean. But, living in Portland, Oregon as opposed to Fort Wayne, Indiana will offer all the doctors we need for Layla within thirty minutes as compared to a two-hour drive to Indianapolis. We would have family support within our city. There are a few alternative methods for treating seizures that are not offered for those living in most other states. The difficulties we have encountered since our children were born has been an eye opener that life is so much more than earning a paycheck. I want to inspire and be inspired. I want what’s best for our family. Sticking it out in Indiana would be the safe choice. Good job. Good insurance. There’s no excitement in those words. I don’t want to read about harrowing life journeys that leave me examining my mundane one. What if it could be better? What can I do to improve our future, our present? What life lessons do I want to teach my children. What kind of husband do I want to be for my wife? I ask these questions daily. I decided, with my wife’s consent, that I will try my best to give my family and myself the best life possible. Oregon here we come!!


#28 “The Sea” by John Banville

Here we go again. It’s morning at a summer rental house that is in walking distance from the Oregon Coast. I lift my daughter, Layla, out of her chair due to another freaking cluster of seizures hoping that a change of scenery will quell the storm. I carry her out of the house walking across the street to a vacant house’s backyard which abuts up against a cliff overlooking the vast Pacific Ocean. Up near the edge I pace the length of the house and I continue to examine my daughter’s face for the ticks and twitches of a seizure refusing to leave. They’ve abated and I breath a sigh of relief, but the damage is done. Cradled in my arms lays a limp and exhausted Layla. I’m at the point of never asking why this has to happen to such a beautiful and innocent child. Thus is the nature of life.


Loved eating the sand!
Maggie loved eating the sand!


Closing my eyes I breath in the cool breeze and exhale the worries and anxieties of the moment, the past, and the future. Opening my eyes I then stare out into the ocean when my senses become immersed in the scene before me. The deserted beach and blue ocean, misty morning air, and the only sound is of the rushing waves. I love this. Then a thought occurs that being out in its element would change my opinion. It’s dangerous out there. The swells sucking underwater its inhabitants, the strong waves capsizing boats, the hypothermia leading to Jack Dawson’s (DiCaprio) death in “Titanic”, and the blood thirsty sharks and other lethal animals residing in its depths. Hmm, from my perspective on safe land the ocean has this rejuvenating spiritual quality but out in its depths it can devour you in a heartbeat.

The setting for John Banville’s “The Sea” is never mentioned but I’m guessing it’s in Ireland since that’s his home. My wife, originally from the state of Oregon, studied abroad in Ireland for a summer and her description of the country has coined a phrase by me that “Oregon is the Ireland of the United States.”

  • Both are known for their drinking. Portland, Oregon was ranked as America’s Best Beer City according to Travel and Leisure.
  • Both have cool wet climates throughout the year that result in  lush green vegetation covering the land.
  • Ireland’s green picturesque rolling hills compare to Oregon’s scenic mountains covered in towering pine trees.
  • Ireland’s history is steeped in folklore. Walk around downtown Portland or watch “Portlandia” and see they are actually living in a mythological world.
  • Ireland is surrounded by the cold Atlantic Ocean. The waters of Oregon’s coast is likewise cold.

Ironically for me the novel takes place at a summer rental home called “The Cedars” also close to the sea. Max, the main character of the story, reminisces over a few significant events of his past including a time in his childhood when he spent an August summer with “The Grace family”. A pivotal month of his life when he experienced his first and second loves and the feelings synonymous with them.  Sweaty hands, jittery nerves, the first electrifying touch when lovers first hold hands, the tingly sensation moving through the body at the kiss, and the smooth feel intimately caressing her inner thigh bordering on the untrodden forbidden land. I recall my first experience thinking “I can’t believe this is happening!” Of course, no great book is without a tragic ending. How nice!

The story moves from that summer to his present state and the torturous memories when finding out his wife was going to die from cancer and her slow painful demise. Banville’s painful description of what he was going through with his wife’s slow passing wasn’t fun to read but enlightening, realizing that many have and many will struggle through the intimate death of a loved one. These words can be of some comfort to know these feelings are normal.

I found this novel a heavy hearted version of a “Wonder Years” episode where Max instead of Kevin Arnold relives the two traumatic events of his life. While writing my rough draft of this blog I continued to ask why he did this? I was about to leave that question unanswered until the thought popped into my head. Max’s wife, a photographer, while dying in a hospital went to the other patients’ rooms and painstakingly took pictures of their wounds (missing limbs, a mother cradling a sick baby, a person laying in bed in a full body cast) and described this as her dossier. Details of a person’s past when collected defines who that person was. Max,I believe was paralleling her behavior in the same way. When all gathered together what was he hoping to reveal about himself? Read it and find out.

There will come a time for all of us when we will form our own dossier. Chances are it will not be filled with memories of good housekeeping, well manicured lawns, or reading accomplishments. Only a few significant moments of doing something amazing or feelings of utter regret letting those moments slip through our fingers. Unfortunately, as described in “The Unbearable Lightness of Being” (also on “The List”) which my wife Amy will be so kind as to share her thoughts on the novel, in movies they have many takes to get the scene right, but in real life we only get one shot.