Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category


Posted: November 1, 2011 in Uncategorized

In times of death, words are virtually useless. Family members are stricken with grief and are surrounded by well meaning friends who offer condolences which are often more aggravating than comforting. Mourning the loss of a daughter, mother, father, son, brother or sister is something only those experiencing it can understand. After the first few “sorrys” and “call if you need anything” the grieving sometimes wish everyone would shut up and go away. A loss of this magnitude is deeply personal and individual and no one on the outside can truly grasp the depth of the sorrow of the moment. Grieving may be a human experience, but each human and family grieve is very different and intimate ways.

Rather than write a blog about how “sorry” I am for the loss of Lauren Skillman, I am going to write about how she changed my life. While I hope someday the family reads this, it is not as much for them as it is my way of dealing with the profound sense of loss in my heart. Lauren Skillman was to me in many ways simply Melanie’s daughter. Until recently, I was not an intimate personal friend of Lauren and knew comparatively little of Lauren outside of her early struggles with cancer. When Alex first began working for Melanie, Lauren was still a teenager and a rowdy one at that. Like so many brilliant artists, Lauren was internally very conflicted and that conflict manifested in her rambunctious behavior. Ironically, it was the stubborn and rambunctious spirit which kept her alive far longer than anyone else who has suffered from the type of cancer which ultimately took her life.

Lauren’s struggle with deadly cancer is not terribly unusual in some ways. Struck down just as she began her adult life, Lauren garnered the sympathy of hundreds if not thousands of friends and followers who came to be known as “LaLa’s Soldiers.” Thanks to social networking, Lauren’s story spread far and wide as people all over the United States learned of her struggle. Lauren had developed a very rare form of child hood cancer from which no one survived. Because of the type of cancer and despite her age, Lauren was treated at Cook Children’s Medical Center by a physician who studied at the Mayo Clinic which was the leader in nerve sheath tumor treatment. Lauren was in many ways still a jubilant child inside and drew from the positive energy that flows through the halls of Cook. In retrospect, being treated at a children’s hospital was likely a key factor in her recovery and living longer than expected.

In my 21 years of working in healthcare, I have witnessed my fair share of death, both immediate and protracted. Medicine has advanced a great deal, but the one constant that seems to extend the lives of those stricken is their willingness to fight. I never gave much thought to just how brave fighters like Lauren are until I considered how I would react to a terminal diagnosis. I can say with little doubt that if I were facing the same diagnosis that Lauren faced, I most likely would have given up out of sheer panic and terror. Perhaps I would regain some composure and fight, but Lauren did so much more than simply fight a deadly disease, she mastered it. What separates Lauren from me and many others is how she bravely fought and controlled certain death until the very end.

One trait that Lauren expressed in her life and in her fight was an unwillingness to be pushed around, bullied or otherwise told what to do. As you can imagine, in parenting this made for difficult times, but the unwillingness to be directed by others is exactly why Lauren was able to live as long as she did. Make no mistake, when Lauren was first diagnosed all those months ago, for any other person it would have been a rapid death sentence. It is very difficult to put into words the intangible zest for life that Lauren exhibited. It is not so much that she was the proverbial life of the party as much as it was her unwillingness to let life steer her. There can be no doubt that Lauren was always the one driving the ship. If there were ever a person who embodied Farragut’s famous “Damn the torpedoes, Full speed ahead” is was Lauren Skillman.

It is this insistence of living life on her terms which I hope to leave you with today. Lauren lived in 21 years more life than many live in an entire lifetime. Lauren lived each moment to the fullest in anticipation of the next. Certainly she experienced all the same worries, fears, frustrations and anxieties that we all face, but she was able to interweave her brand of living with them all. It is difficult to say what Lauren’s life may have looked like had she never been diagnosed with cancer. I doubt she would have led a typical life by comparable standards because she simply was not typical in any way. What I can say for certain is that in her illness and death she truly taught others how to live. How often do we hear that in eulogies only to wonder if it were true? Friends, I can assure you that it is very true of Lauren Skillman. God speeds sweet angel!

I added the photo above because I felt like it was a pictorial way to describe the Skillman-Wilson journey. Lauren being the ray of sunshine guiding the family across the next bridge of life. On the other end of that bridge is sunlight to guide their way along the road. There is no cliche, no thought, no blog nor any eulogy which can ease the pain right away but in time wounds will begin to heal and those rays of light will permeate many people. Lauren’s zeal for living will go on forever and ever!


Well today is my 39th birthday and it has been uneventful so far except for almost killing myself on Angie the miniature metal turkey this morning. You might ask, who is Angie? Angie the miniature metal turkey is Beyonce the giant metal chicken’s cousin. Now you might ask, who is Beyonce? Well, besides a superstar, Beyonce is my wife’s newest obsession but apparently she is not alone.

The story, as is typical when Alex is involved, is long. Alex discovered a blog a few months back written by the Blogstress. Apparently, one of the Blogstresse’s blogs was about her not being allowed to purchase bath towels by her husband so in retribution she brought home a 5’ metal chicken, named in Beyonce and placed it in front of the entrance to her home. I am not sure why my wife and so many others find this so funny, but all I hear about these days is metal chickens and every time I tell her she cannot purchase something she threatens me with a giant metal chicken.

So, this morning I awoke, showered, dressed and prepared to leave for work. As I went to the front door, I saw something unusual outside the door. Having just been broken into a few weeks ago, I panicked thinking someone had tried again. I quickly opened the door and saw what you see in the above photo. Yellow streamers and an iron turkey with a birthday greeting. According to the note, Beyonce the giant metal chicken missed her flight, I presume because of Tropical Storm Lee, so she sent Angie the miniature metal turkey who is her cousin instead. Since Angie does not understand personal space, she was sitting right in front of the door causing me to almost trip.

Upon greeting Angie, I retired to our bedroom and awoke my wife to seek an explanation. Alex gave me the Alex look, Gulliver gave me the “who me” look, Dutchess wanted kisses and Fenway just looked at me with a “turn off the damn lights, I am sleeping” look. Obviously, I was amused at Angie’s arrival but have made it clear that if a 5’ metal chicken shows up, Alex is sleeping on the porch with it.

So now it is off to my 40th. My theme for the next year is “A Pirate Looks At 40”!! I hope next year Alex does not try to place a giant metal pirate boat in front of the door. Likewise, I cannot promise that Angie will not somehow be turned into dinner come Thanksgiving. Angie is iron, so that might need to creative thinking, but I will always remember my 39th birthday as the metal turkey birthday!


Posted: July 28, 2011 in Uncategorized

Well this is going to be an interesting post. A long time ago there was a beauty queen named Hadley Smith. Hadley you see is a drop dead gorgeous, sweet and brilliant young woman who most would say is extremely mature. Hadley has the manners and mannerisms of a woman well beyond her teenage years, but she also has a side more typical of young women in their mid-teens (at the time this began).

One year at Miss Texas, an event where young women are called upon to behave very maturely, Hadley brought herself a friend, a small pet if you will. Now bringing a pet along for a competition is not a terribly unusual act, but her pet had one huge difference: it was and still in invisible. Having invisible friends or pets is again not terribly unusual, but Hadley felt that certain friends of hers needed their own invisible pets, so like rabbits, Hadley’s invisible pets multiplied! To make matters worse, the invisible pets were hamsters and these hamsters lived on people’s heads.

So imagine a state wide beauty and scholarship pageant composed of the most beautiful, intelligent and mature young women, a few of whom were running around in their multi-thousand dollar wardrobes with invisible hamster on their heads. To add to this craziness, my wife who was supposed to be the “adult” had her own invisible hamster. Remember, my wife and I are half way insane so she was in some small way encouraging nutty behavior in all. Basically what we had was hot girls, ADHD, Adderall and hamsters. I never anticipated the level of insanity this would create!

Fast forward a few weeks to Miami. Alex and I took Jordan and Reilly to the beach following Miss Texas. We did not travel alone! Alex, Jo and Rei all took their invisible hamster along. I believe it was on this trip that they found small stuffed hamster who embodied these invisible pets. These damn things went everywhere, on their heads. The hamsters wore hats and tiaras and posed for photoshoots everywhere. The hamster got more love than I did.

The hamster are still around today albeit a little older and in semi-retirement. Jordan has gotten a little older and is now a “mature” woman. Reilly is not Miss Teen Texas and so the hamster has to remain behind the scene and my wife’s ADHD is such that she has developed numerous new interests, but the hamster are still there, waiting, watching! I hope now you understand a little bit about why this Kia made me laugh so hard today when I snapped the photo!


Posted: July 28, 2011 in Uncategorized

I love coffee just about as much as I love anything. There is a local coffee roaster close to where I work named Addison Coffee Roasters. They source beans from all over the world and roast is small batches. Frankly, when I am at work their coffee keeps me going. There is something very comforting about a cup of hot Addison Coffee with hazelnut creamer. Just makes the day go by faster. I know, brief and boring but this is one of my little pleasures!

Sleeping Beauty!

Posted: July 24, 2011 in Uncategorized

Have you ever met someone who just goes and goes, but would rather just snuggle on the couch with 2 Boston Terriers, 1 Bull and 1 Kipper Martin? Her name is Allie and she is my beautiful wife. As I grow older I find myself realizing that I am not young anymore and that I have become one of those “adults.” Much to my dismay, young beautiful women no longer see me as the studly physical specimen I used to be, but luckily, I am married to an amazing hottie of a wife who loves me gray hair and all.
On March 13, 2004 I married into a hurricane of a relationship. Keeping up with me wife is a little like being in a wave pool where you generally know the direction from which the waves are coming, but really have no clue which way you will be tossed. My wife’s mind goes 110 miles per hour in as many directions and she often begins a dozen projects at once. The result is that my home looks a little like a Hobby Lobby fit into a 2000 square foot home. Since I have OCD about cleanliness, this drives me nuts, but frankly I would not have it any other way.
Last week, Alex spent each day at Camp Care so by yesterday afternoon she was drained. She slept in this morning, and when I woke up around 3:30 this afternoon I found her fast asleep on the couch with 2 Bostons and 1 Bull snuggled up around her. I am sure she will beat me ruthlessly for posting this photo, but she is so beautiful when she is sleeping (and quiet too). I enjoy seeing my wife finally lay down and relax because for her relaxation is not easy. She must be doing something constantly, so I know when she is sleeping her mind is on cruise control. We nicknamed Gulliver puppynami, but really Alex should be called Allienami!
Well that is all for today. If I do not post tomorrow that means Alex buried me out back for posting this photo!