Saturday, August 30, 2008

Journal of a Living Lady #329
Nancy White Kelly

Some kids are late bloomers. Bobby is one of them. He came to our home as the last foster child of the twelve we helped raise. Bobby was six months younger than Charlie, the miracle son who was born fifteen years after we married.

At that tender age of five, Bobby was way behind Charlie and all other boys his age. He could not count to five or speak plainly. Sadly, he had never been to a zoo or attended a single day of preschool. The academic difference between Bobby and Charlie was obvious. Charlie’s early precociousness and Bobby’s developmental delays created a chasm that was a constant challenge to bridge.

Having a different last name caused Bobby embarrassment at school. He desperately wanted to be a Kelly. When he was ten we officially adopted him. Bobby Ray Whitaker became Robert Lee Kelly.

Buddy retired. We moved to the mountains just as the boys were beginning high school. Interestingly, Bobby decided he wanted to be called Robert by his peers.

Charlie excelled in school; Bobby had no use for it. Then puberty came calling. Our sweet Bobby turned into a troubled and troubling teen-ager. His hair and clothing were outward signs of rebellion. School attendance was as spasmodic as he could arrange. Tobacco, weed, traffic tickets, and egging a neighbor’s house kept us on a first name basis with the sheriff’s department. Though he dropped out of high school, I stayed on his case until he earned a diploma through correspondence. Charlie went on to succeed in high school, college and beyond.

James Dobson once wrote that when a boy hits the teen years, parents should put him in a barrel. When he is 16, they should nail the cover shut. Jest or not, we can relate. It seems that the happiest day of our lives was when Bobby turned 18. He wanted to be on his own and we were more than glad to give him that opportunity. At least we would no longer be legally liable for his actions.

Because of his out-going personality and mechanical ability, Bobby seemed to get a job easily, but he never kept one for long. The excuses were endless. Buddy and I vacillated between enabling him and tough love. He lived at home again a couple of times, but it was difficult. We had our rules and he had his strong will.

Though nowhere near ready for responsible parenting, Bobby and his very young teen-age wife had a baby to support…stereotypical kids having kids.
The years have dwindled by now with many ups and downs. Though disappointed, we never lost hope that someday Bobby would grow up and be a productive member of society. We also prayed that he would return to his church up-bringing.

Last year maturity finally tapped him on the shoulder. Bobby set positive goals including financial stability and training in law enforcement. With his wife serving in Iraq and practically single-handedly parenting two children, his life has not been easy. But this time he persisted. Week after week he called home with a report of his written test scores, all passing. He ran the mile in good time and passed the physical agility tests. He excelled on the gun range. It all looked promising. Buddy and I held our breath.

As I write this, I am happy to report that Buddy and I have just returned from Bobby’s graduation in Forsyth. He looked nice in his freshly-ironed uniform and his badge, awarded the next day, shines as brightly as his countenance. He now as a new goal: a degree in criminal justice.
As I said, some children are late bloomers. Buddy and I are glad to have lived long enough to see this flower-child blossom into the responsible young man that he has become. And, the best news is that last week Bobby and his children were in church.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Journal of a Living Lady #328

Nancy White Kelly

The blur lasted twenty-four hours. On Tuesday I was visiting a new surgeon to discuss an old problem. The next morning I was on the operating table.

Back in the eighties, I supposedly had a single hernia. Those were the days prior to routine MRI’s and CAT scans. Yet, under the bright lights, the surgeon found three. Those hernias were repaired with a mesh screen similar to the one on our porch door. Through all these years that screen has kept my intestines inside and the flies out. After two weeks in the hospital and a month of recuperation time, that episode of my life saga became a slight blip in my medical records.

However, over the last several months, it became increasingly obvious I was either expecting a baby or had swallowed an ever-expanding soccer ball. My mind searched for reasonable answers. The lost and found section of the paper listed several lost doggies but no errant balls.

My obstetrician wouldn’t even take my call. I couldn’t get through to his answering service either. In his defense, he had a satisfactory alibi. He died twenty years ago.

Obviously, my current oncologist preferred that I choose my surgeon from his affiliated group. I considered it. All my cancer records were in Gainesville. Yet, setting up surgery would require at least one preliminary appointment with an unknown surgeon. Then there would be pre-op trips over the mountain for lab work followed by another journey on the day of surgery. There would be at least one other trip for the post-op follow-up. I am not a mathematician, but even I could figure that the cost of gas was rivaling the cost of the operation. Economics was my incentive to check out other options.

I met Dr. W. Moody once in an informal setting when he was settling his family into the local area. I made a mental note of his politeness and professionalism. Faced with my immediate need of a surgeon, I checked his credentials and spoke with a friend who had been Dr. Moody’s patient a few weeks before. Everything I heard was positive.

My appointment with the Blairsville surgeon went well. What put him at the top of my short list was that he was a humble man of faith. I go the other direction when I meet a physician with a narcissistic “God-complex.” I desire a doctor with excellent skills acquired by hard work. But I also want a doctor who consults with the Great Physician.

Dr. Moody met all my qualifications. He earned an opportunity to either slam dunk that bulging ball or deliver an infamous infant.

Surprise! There was no soccer ball, no baby, nor even three hernias. Instead, Dr. Moody found FIVE hernias. They are now securely contained within a prison made of medical mesh with no hope of a curtain call.

Saturday, August 02, 2008

Journal of a Living Lady #327

Nancy White Kelly

School has started. This time last year I was burning the candle at both ends as a last minute fill-in school administrator. I hadn’t been in that role for fourteen years. Now that a permanent administrator is in place, I am refocusing my time and energy. Funny how some of our younger friends think that retirement means sitting in rocking chairs and drinking sweet tea while life passes by. I have so many interests that it is often difficult to fit everything in.

Someone asked the other day how I got interested in numismatics. That is the proper term for the hobby of coin-collecting. I don’t remember a specific date or place. My desire to learn about old coins evolved from listening to an aunt tell interesting stories at family gatherings as she showed her books of shiny coins. Many dated back to the 1800’s. As I grew older, I began to understand how this study of money correlated with almost every academic subject I encountered in high school and college. Few people relate money, the basic commodity of all time, to history, language, economics, art, metallurgy, mathematics and even religion.

Beginning with a couple of treasured silver dollars given to me by my grandmother’s twin sister, I started my journey into the hobby of numismatics. In the back of my mind I envisioned having a little coin shop someday. That someday is now.

A few years ago I decided to formally expand my numismatic education and took courses from the American Numismatic Association. Hanging on my wall is a certificate that says I am a “Numismatic Scholar.” I humbly decline that designation. The specialized field is too vast.

Like a good spouse, Buddy has always supported my endeavors which have been many and varied. I learned several years ago that that his knowledge of coins was limited. I mentioned one day in casual conversation that I sure would like to have an 1877 Indian head penny. He asked how much it cost and I held up four fingers.

A couple of months later Buddy admitted that he had gone to the near-by coin store to obtain the Indian cent to put with a present for an up-coming anniversary. The proprietor carefully boxed up the well-circulated 1877 penny and placed it in a bag. Buddy promptly laid down four one dollar bills on the counter. To his chagrin, the dealer informed him that he was a little short. The Indian penny cost four hundred dollars. I can only imagine the conversation that ensued with the coin dealer and my sweet, but plain-spoken Mississippi-born husband.

Consequently, Buddy has left the financial management of the coin business to me. He does everything else: plumbing, carpentry, painting, and in spite of my frowning countenance, entertains customers, young and old, with his never-ending repertoire of airplane stories.

Sadly, seldom a week goes by that someone doesn’t appear with a wedding band or some old halves in hopes that they are worth enough to buy a tank of gas. The truth of the matter is that I occasionally buy what I don’t need or want. Donald Trump would not approve, but I march to a different drummer.

Recently an elderly couple dropped by the shop. The old man toted in several heavy jars of pre-1965 silver change that he had accumulated during his working years. He wanted to take his wife on one last trip together while they were still mobile. He had no extra money for such an extravagance in sour economic times. Then he remembered those olds jars of change. It took me several hours to sort through all of it, but there was enough for them to take a short, but memorable vacation.

Numismatics will probably always be an important facet of my life, but the living lady has many other interests to pursue. Right now a dozen chirping cockatiels in the outdoor aviary are trying to get my attention. I must have a customer.