Saturday, March 20, 2010

Call me Beth Anne

My dear father; my dear friend; the best and wisest man I ever knew, who taught me many lessons and showed me many things as we went together along the country by-ways.

~~Sarah Orne Jewett

MVC-012S (2) For the past couple of days, while being around family, I became Beth Anne once again. For some reason, much of my family calls me that, and I revert easily to it, even introducing myself to people I don't know (or cousins I haven't seen in ages) as that. I find it comforting. The viewing was last night, and it was amazing to see how many people came out. Plenty of family, including cousins I hadn't seen in decades, former and current neighbors of Mom and Dad, guys he worked with in the National Guard, friends I worked with at the lab, even a sister's ex-husband, and an ex-BF of was just so wonderful to see so many come out to pay their respects to my Dad and to give support to my family. Thanks to everyone who did so.

Today was Dad's funeral. As I sit here thinking about it, I'm smiling. It was a wonderful tribute to Dad, and really a beautiful service. You all know that I'm not a religious person, but Mom and Dad's pastor was really a kind man who obviously cares deeply for Dad and Mom and gave a wonderful service. Last night, I finished up what I wrote for my Dad, and I decided I was going to try to say it myself rather than have the pastor read it. I wasn't sure I could do it, but I had encouragement from friends. Darren said that my Dad would be very proud of me if I could do that, but if not, that was okay, too; Ada said to read it as if it were just me and Dad in the room and I was talking to him; George said to give it a try, but give the pastor a copy in case I couldn't finish. Family helped, too, and Cousin Doug said, "You can do it for your Dad." After the pastor read my sisters' remarks, it was my turn...and I did it! I was shaky at first, but as I talked about the things I learned from Dad, I felt so much love for him for all the cool things I got from him. (I'll include the text here at the end.) I hate to speak in public...but once I got going, it was almost easy. I guess that tells you how I feel about my Dad. I was so happy to be able to do that for him, and much of my strength came from him.

There were a few songs, and I even sang in public! Boy, I was just breaking all my rules today. :D One song was "Going Home," and I recognized the tune...a classical one that I play on the piano, and one of my favorites to play, but I couldn't remember what it was. I looked it up a little bit ago, and it's from Dvorak's New World Symphony. I would like to learn a harder version of that piece. (I played my easy version a little bit ago.)

The pastor asked if anyone else wanted to share memories, and one of the people who stood up Mom. I kid you not. She wanted to talk about how much Dad loved everyone at the church, and talked about some religious stuff, but I was amazed at her strength to be able to stand up and say a few things! We're a tough bunch, I'm telling you. Grrrrr. [grin]

After everyone filed out past the casket, immediate family had plenty of time to say good-bye. I had actually said my true good-bye in the hospital room when we were leaving, and that was the toughest time for me. This time, I knew Dad was long gone, and I was able to be fairly stoic. The hardest moments were seeing others crying so hard...some of my young cousins were just devastated, and it made me so sad for them. Earlier on I had laid a Notre Dame pin in with Dad, and our friend Ren, the owner of the funeral home, had pinned it on Dad's lapel. That made me happy, and I know Dad would have liked that.

MVC-007S (2) Then it was off to the cemetery, with a drive by Mom and Dad's log cabin. The hearse paused there a moment. He loved their place out in the country, and I know he was happy to be out there on their 16 acres, in the area where he was born and raised. They were calling for rain and possibly snow, but although it was chilly and the wind was brisk, we avoided any precipitation. In fact, the sun peeked out briefly! There were several members of the Indiana National Guard up from Indianapolis, and they fired nine rounds and then played Taps. Two of the Guardsmen folded the flag (I thought of how Dad taught me to properly fold it, when we took the flag down every evening at our house) and presented it and three of the fired rounds to Mom, in appreciation of Dad's service to his country. (That’s Dad third from the left, with his three brothers who also served during WWII.) I think that was the part that got to me the most. Dad really loved his country, and was so proud to have served for 35 years. Mom and Dad's neighbor played "Amazing Grace" on the bagpipes, and that always gets to me, too.

I got daisies off of the arrangement that my sisters and I got for him, one for each of us girls. I laid one by his coffin, and I got another one to bring home and I've already put it in my flower press. I kissed my hand and laid it on his coffin and said one last good-bye.

After that, it was back to the church for a big church lady dinner. Holy moley! I don't think I'll eat for two days! Mom had told me about the spread they put on when anyone in the church died, but I had no idea it was as huge as what they had today. Good grief.

There was lots of visiting with relatives, with plenty of laughter. In talking with Cousin Curt, he mentioned Facebook, and we asked each other at the same time, "Are you on Facebook?" Oh boy...I told him, "You can read all the political stuff I post!" He said, "Oh, I'm gonna work on you." (He's a conservative, if you hadn't figured that out yet.) He said something like, "Oh, you just get ready" and I wagged my finger back at him and said, "Yeah, you too!" heehee There were cousins that came in from Florida, Georgia, Oregon, Missouri, and my nieces came in from California...despite the sad circumstances, it was so great to talk to them. I hadn't seen Bo and Jeff in several years, and I really enjoyed getting to see them.7-4-08 My family totally kicks ass in their awesomeness, they really do. (Check out that firework Dad is holding!)

I think we were all pretty wiped out by this time, and we all parted ways. Cousin Ron had already left for Indianapolis because he had to catch a flight out, Bo and Jeff had to leave tonight, Shane was flying out to Tucson to visit his Dad, Heather and Jen are flying out tomorrow night, I believe...our time together was so fleeting, but it was so good. Kind of how I feel about my 47 years with Dad. It seems like it was gone in the blink of an eye.

Anyway, I know this is getting long, but it is helping to write it all down. I'll be done soon enough, and I'll get back to my usual fare (health care vote tomorrow!). I'll just say this. I think I found myself smiling today more than crying. Dad was so obviously loved (and I know how lovable he was), so well-respected, and so admired by so many. I feel so fortunate to have had him for the time I did. He was in great health, active both physically and mentally right up until the end; he was able to retire at the age of 55, and had over 30 years in which he and Mom were able to travel and enjoy themselves; we were able to be with him and Mom at the dedication of the WWII Memorial and tribute to the Greatest Generation, something he always talked about; and when it came time for him to go, it was relatively quick and painless. I am so, so glad that he didn't suffer and struggle for years. I know he wouldn't have wanted that. As I told several people, "he had a good run." He sure did. We should all be so fortunate. Here's to you, Dad. I don't think a day will go by that I don't think of you.

Here is the text of what I said today.

Although it's very hard to say good-bye to my Dad, I am trying to do so in a way that would make him proud.

Knowing that I will no longer be able to pick up the phone and give him a call, ask him questions about various things, or just shoot the breeze about sports is something I still haven't totally grasped. I'm sure it will eventually sink in, and I will deal with that as it comes.

In the meantime, I will remember all the things that I learned from him, all his influences that helped make me the person I am.

One of his greatest gifts to me was a love of reading. We used to talk about how books can fire our imagination and take us everywhere. When I read a book that made me think of Dad, I would send it to him. He'd always say, "Honey, you didn't have to do that!" but I think he enjoyed the books I shared with him. Dad often talked about Cicero. I will make sure I read Cicero and I will think of Dad.

He gave me an intellectual curiosity that has made even the mundane things in life a source of wonder. I recall being at Mom and Dad's house in Culver and spotting a praying mantis on one of the shrubs. As we all stood there and looked at it, a bee flew by and the mantis snatched it out of the air. We watched as it devoured the bee, then Dad and I looked at each other as if to say, "Did you see what I just saw?"

I got my love of sports from Dad. We would watch Notre Dame games together when I was growing up, and he explained the rules of football and basketball to me. We got to go to a few football games together, and I was happy that one of them was Notre Dame's trouncing of Michigan in 2008. That was a happy day for both of us. I'm reasonably sure that in Dad's version of heaven, Notre Dame wins the national championship every day, and the Victory March plays on an endless loop.

Dad gave me a deep and abiding love and respect for nature. I don't recall ever throwing any trash out of the car, but if I ever did, it only happened once. Littering was a travesty, and Dad taught me that it is up to us to take care of our planet. He was green before green was cool. He had a great respect for the Native American philosophy about our land, believing that we are not owners, only temporary caretakers.

Dad and I didn't always agree on politics, and that is an understatement. But even at our worst disagreements about it, I would remind him that he was the one who always wanted me to think for myself, and he would reluctantly agree...but would say that he just wished I thought more like he did.

Above all--except for Mom, obviously--Dad loved his girls, and always made sure that we knew that we could do whatever we wanted to do. I never once felt limited by my was always a given that none of us would be discouraged from doing anything we wanted to do. Mechanic, nurse, microbiologist...Dad supported us in everything we did, and knowing that he was proud of me is one of my greatest achievements.

Dad always liked to say that it's not the destination, it's the journey. Thank you, Dad, for a wonderful journey with you.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Meet my stalker

I was planning on doing this next week, but I really think it's time. And it's time only because the good name of my Dad has been besmirched. I will not stand for that. First, a blog entry made by my stalker right after my Dad died, then a little background and some truth.Blog entryI will not post the name of this person, how I know them, or their location. You can see that I've even made sure their screen name isn't showing. I will not be posting the URL to their blog here. Who it is doesn't matter. What they wrote does matter. It matters because it is hateful towards a good man who this person never even met. All because she harbors a deep-seated hatred towards me.

Very few of you know anything about this, because I choose not to write about it here. For one thing, I'm not usually one to air dirty laundry in strikes me as a little classless. I also try my best to not be a negative person, and man, this person is all about the negativity. Also, because there are kids involved, I never wanted to write about them here, and I don't plan on doing so in any detail now. I think this person believes that I have told everyone who reads my blog about the situation, and somehow sicced you all on her and convinced you to hate her. First of all, it's not like I'm some sort of zombie master who urges you all to do my bidding, and second of all, I just don't operate that way. I know that this is probably all quite surprising to the vast majority of you.

When my Dad died, I sent an email via Facebook to a young man who at one time had a relationship with my Dad. This was the only way I had of contacting him, and I had no means of contact with his sister. No favoritism there, simply lack of information. All communication with these young people has been cut off over the past couple of years. Phones unanswered, messages left and calls never returned, letters sent without knowing if they were ever seen by the recipients, email addresses changed...there are very few ways left to get a message to them, and Facebook was my last resort. I don't believe I laid on a guilt trip (I don't like to be the guiltee, so I'm unlikely to be the guilter), I merely said that my Dad had had a massive stroke and was not going to recover, that he loved him and thought he was a really nice young man, and to please pass the information along to his sister, because my Dad loved her, too. I sent a subsequent email saying that Dad had died, and that I hoped something was still there in this young man that remembered that my Dad treated him well and accepted him as his own...and that he was a good man, and "you know that." I'm not sure what "lame issues" I was laying on anyone.

As for Dad never trying to contact these young people, that is simply not true. My folks tried numerous times to call and leave messages for birthdays, and they were very generous at both birthdays and Christmas. So were my sisters. As contact was slowly but surely cut off, I advised them to stop, because there was no way of knowing if anything was getting through. There were several celebrations at 4th of July, Christmas, even a family reunion. At one point, there was a message that the "pseudo" relatives should stop calling the house, because she didn't know these people and didn't want them bothering her kids. That hurt my Dad deeply, and now it is time for me to stick up for him.

My Dad was a loving man, and he and my Mom--and my entire family--did nothing but accept these kids as their own. I find it a horrible thing to cut any kids off from people who were a positive, loving influence, merely because of one's own hatred and bitterness. This person can hate on me all she wants and can call me anything she wants. But I am here to set the record straight: she isn't fit to lick my Dad's Army boots. He has left a large and loving legacy of family and friends, and I strongly suspect that won't be the case with my stalker when she shuffles off this mortal coil. Dad was a WWII veteran (the young man in question even interviewed him about it for a school project once) and spent 35 years in service of his country in the Army and in the National Guard. Feel free to hate fact, bring it on. But you don't get a pass on hating on my Dad.7-4-08CI have kept quiet about this on my blog for the reasons I stated above. I hope I won't be speaking of it again. But just like tearing down the curtain and letting the sun blaze in on a vampire will turn the creature to a gooey mess and then to dust, I am shining the light of truth upon this person and situation. As far as I can tell, people don't like messing with her because she tries to intimidate them with threats of lawsuits, or sends her family to leave harassing comments. I'm not sure what sort of lawsuit she could bring against me here, and if they want to leave harassing comments, it would only prove my point. If one is allowed to operate in a closed environment of approval, and even encouraged in one's unreasoning hatred, there will be no revelation that perhaps their behavior is just a tad bit beyond the norm.

On behalf of my Dad, I call her out on it. I call her out on her hateful words towards a kind and decent man merely because she harbors such hatred for me, no matter how irrational that is. I had my sisters read what she wrote as we were on our way back from Florida, so that they would have a better idea of what I am dealing with. Even with them, I haven't talked much about the situation. I will relay their words. Diana said, "You know, no matter how much you hate someone, don't you think you'd at least try to act like...I don't know...a human being?" Sue said, "That last line? 'Thank you and God bless?' That's blasphemy."

Since she is still obsessively checking this blog, I know she'll read this. So I'll say it again. You don't get a pass this time.

I got your back, Dad.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

A meditation on death

Don't be alarmed; this isn't going to be gloom and doom. In fact, we're going to talk a little poetry today.

My sister Sue found a copy of William Cullen Bryant's poem "Thanatopsis" in some of Dad's papers yesterday. I think Dad had talked to all of us about this recently. He had mentioned it to my sister Diana a while back, and she printed it out for him; he asked me if I'd ever read it, and I said yes, back when I was in school. He told me he'd been thinking about it a lot lately, and had read it several times. He had the copy with him, and asked me to read it, especially the last few lines. Here is the poem, with a few thoughts afterwards. You don't have to read it if you don't want to, but I do think it is a very nice piece.



by: William Cullen Bryant (1794-1878)

To him who in the love of Nature holds
Communion with her visible forms, she speaks
A various language; for his gayer hours
She has a voice of gladness, and a smile
And eloquence of beauty, and she glides
Into his darker musings, with a mild
And healing sympathy, that steals away
Their sharpness, ere he is aware. When thoughts
Of the last bitter hour come like a blight
Over thy spirit, and sad images
Of the stern agony, and shroud, and pall,
And breathless darkness, and the narrow house,
Make thee to shudder and grow sick at heart;--
Go forth, under the open sky, and list
To Nature's teachings, while from all around--
Earth and her waters, and the depths of air--
Comes a still voice--Yet a few days, and thee
The all-beholding sun shall see no more
In all his course; nor yet in the cold ground,
Where thy pale form was laid with many tears,
Nor in the embrace of ocean, shall exist
Thy image. Earth, that nourish'd thee, shall claim
Thy growth, to be resolved to earth again,
And, lost each human trace, surrendering up
Thine individual being, shalt thou go
To mix for ever with the elements,
To be a brother to the insensible rock,
And to the sluggish clod, which the rude swain
Turns with his share, and treads upon. The oak
Shall send his roots abroad, and pierce thy mould.
Yet not to thine eternal resting-place
Shalt thou retire alone, nor couldst thou wish
Couch more magnificent. Thou shalt lie down
With patriarchs of the infant world--with kings,
The powerful of the earth--the wise, the good,
Fair forms, and hoary seers of ages past,
All in one mighty sepulchre. The hills
Rock-ribb'd and ancient as the sun,--the vales
Stretching in pensive quietness between;
The venerable woods; rivers that move
In majesty, and the complaining brooks
That make the meadows green; and, pour'd round all,
Old Ocean's grey and melancholy waste,--
Are but the solemn decorations all
Of the great tomb of man. The golden sun,
The planets, all the infinite host of heaven,
Are shining on the sad abodes of death,
Through the still lapse of ages. All that tread
The globe are but a handful to the tribes
That slumber in its bosom.--Take the wings
Of morning, pierce the Barcan wilderness,
Or lose thyself in the continuous woods
Where rolls the Oregon and hears no sound
Save his own dashings--yet the dead are there:
And millions in those solitudes, since first
The flight of years began, have laid them down
In their last sleep--the dead reign there alone.
So shalt thou rest: and what if thou withdraw
In silence from the living, and no friend
Take note of thy departure? All that breathe
Will share thy destiny. The gay will laugh
When thou art gone, the solemn brood of care
Plod on, and each one as before will chase
His favourite phantom; yet all these shall leave
Their mirth and their employments, and shall come
And make their bed with thee. As the long train
Of ages glides away, the sons of men,
The youth in life's green spring, and he who goes
In the full strength of years, matron and maid,
The speechless babe, and the gray-headed man--
Shall one by one be gathered to thy side
By those who in their turn shall follow them.
So live, that when thy summons comes to join
The innumerable caravan which moves
To that mysterious realm where each shall take
His chamber in the silent halls of death,
Thou go not, like the quarry-slave at night,
Scourged by his dungeon; but, sustain'd and soothed
By an unfaltering trust, approach thy grave,
Like one who wraps the drapery of his couch
About him, and lies down to pleasant dreams.


As I read this today, I was struck by those last lines all over again. Do I think that my Dad foresaw his own death? Oh, pshaw. We all ponder our own mortality, and when you get to be in your 80's, I'm guessing that you ponder it a little more often! Dad simply knew that he wasn't going to live forever, and I suppose with each passing day, he knew he was one step closer to the Great are we all. I love it that he stayed active up until the very end, and that he stayed sharp and able to appreciate this poem. As my sister Sue said, he lived until he died.

Father and child2 I also love it that he especially liked those last lines. This poem, to me and to my Dad, was not a sad musing on death. Although it speaks of the inevitability of it and how each and every one of us will experience it eventually, it also urges us to live, live our lives well and fully, so that when it comes time for our earthly exit, we can do so knowing that we did the best we could and that it is not only okay to move on, it is simply the way things work. There is nothing to fear, there is only the natural progression of the arc of our life.

I take great solace in knowing that my Dad was comforted by those last lines. I don't believe he feared his death, not one little bit. He was confident in the fact that although he may have made mistakes in his life, he had a good life with many adventures, a lot of fun, and much love. He was one of the Good Guys, and the sentiments I've heard from various people who knew him (including an ex son-in-law who said he still thinks of him as "Dad," even after about 30 years) bear that out. I know my Dad was proud of me for what I've done with my life, because he told me so many times. It makes me smile to say that I am also proud of him as I realize how many people remember him fondly and with love. What a remarkable legacy to leave behind.

A brief reprieve

Road trip2 The past few days have been a bizarre mixture of pain, grief, loss, love, unexpected hilarity, irritation, white-hot fury, amazement at the complete and utter inhumanity I've seen exhibited, gratitude at the extreme compassion I've also seen exhibited, appreciation for those who help others, the comfort of knowing that I have an amazing family and so many friends--both those in real life and those online (also quite real)--who truly care about me and feel sorrow at my pain, and an attempt to reconnect with the inner strength I know I have. There are many other feelings that have gone through my mind, but I know that as time passes, the intense pain will fade, and I will be left with not only the love of my Dad, but the friendship and love that poured forth from supportive friends near and far. I know that I am so fortunate in that regard, and it sort of makes me feel dizzy to know that there are so many people who care. My mind is boggled, folks, and you are the bogglers. I love you all for it. :)

Dad passed away at 7:10 Sunday morning. I will write more about things eventually, but right now there is just too much to do and just a little too much pain to deal with. I've been having an inner philosophical dialogue with myself, and I'm sure that will be reflected as I go forward. Many of these thoughts seem to start out with "Life is too short to..." So many things to think about.

But for the moment, I'm so very, very tired and my brain hurts. I want--I need--to relate a couple of funny things that happened along the way, and believe me, there were more than you might imagine--I'll just tell you about a couple of them. I guarantee that my Dad would have approved, because he also loved to laugh. You know what? I'm smiling right now just thinking about it, so I'm glad I'm taking the time to write this.

First of all, since my parents drove down, and my sisters and niece and I flew down, we drove their minivan back. We left Florida Monday morning and arrived home around 7 pm Tuesday evening. It went surprisingly well, with no major problems. Other than getting a little turned around trying to get out of central Florida (I called it the Bermuda Triangle) and running over a curb when I made a sharp turn to get onto the correct ramp (Who puts a curb on an interstate, anyway? Seriously!), that is. Mom almost fired me as driver, but after I drove the entire time on the first day, including breezing through downtown Atlanta (well, kind of breezing...still pretty busy), I redeemed myself. I handed off the wheel to my sisters Tuesday morning (with the promise to drive later on), and dozed in the back while it was still dark. I woke up when we pulled over and asked what was going on. My sisters were switching...Sue started off driving and was apparently getting sleepy. I looked at my watch...we'd been on the road for an hour.

Yes. An hour. I am cracking up right now. (Let me say here that I love my sisters. And yes, I am totally laughing at them, just like they laughed at me when I curbed it. That was fair game, and so is this!)

Then Diana took over, and she really did great once she got into the groove of things. Got us through Nashville and Louisville and did a great job. However, at one point, I realized that there were numerous cars and trucks passing us on both the right and left. By numerous, I mean everyone. We passed a speed limit sign and then I understood why. I said, "Di. Di? DIANA!"

Oh, have I mentioned that both of my sisters are hard of hearing? That they both have hearing aids, but neither were wearing them on this trip? Yeah.

I finally got her attention.

Di: Yeah?

Me: The speed limit is 70 here.

Di: What?

Me: The speed limit is 70 here.

Di: [silence]

Me: DIANA! You can go 70 in here!

Di: Oh! [laughs and speeds up]

There was a lot of "Okay, where do I go?" Keep going on I-65...see that sign there? "What's the speed limit here?" 70...see that sign there? "Which way do I want to go?" North. We're going NORTH. I-65 NORTH.

I couldn't get to the wheel fast enough. I discovered something on this trip. What I think of as normal driving is seen by some as leadfooted and aggressive! And I really don't think I am. I don't go that much over the speed limit, and I just try to keep up with traffic...and if they're doing the stupid speed limit, I pass them. :D I lived in Indianapolis for seven years, and I threw the question out there: "Since when did people start doing the speed limit on 465?" Really, I'm curious. It was never out of control, bumper-to-bumper, 80+ mph like on the Chicago expressways, but it moved along at a pretty good pace, and on this trip, there were really and truly people doing 55 mph on the Indianapolis bypass. Freaks. It made me wonder if I'm really that aggressive a driver...I guess I'm more aggressive than I realized. And I was in a fucking minivan!

Politics The other thing that really made me laugh happened during our family get-together on Sunday. A bunch of people came over to my Aunt Marie's, and we really did have a great time. Cousins that I hadn't seen for some time, and they all came out to see my Mom and me and my sisters in our time of sorrow. It was really cool, and it meant a lot to me. They're so great, they really are.

Well, Cousin Beverly noticed a Glenn Beck book on an end table. She said, "Oh, I really like him."

I managed to not have a heart attack, but my sister Diana (a fellow liberal) and I exchanged an amused glance across the room (she was sitting by Bev). Cousin Ron was sitting next to me and asked, "Oh really? Who else do you like?" Beverly proceeded to say, "Oh, I listen to Rush Limbaugh. Then there's Sean Hannity." Ron asked, "What do you think about Michael Savage?" At least he was a little too far right for her.

Good grief. I managed to keep my mouth shut, but it was not easy. Aren't you proud of me? Di and I were looking at each other, ready to lose it. We discussed it later, and we agreed that Ron (who is very ornery, very smart, and a wee bit wicked) had to know from talking to Dad that she and I are on the left politically. We both think that he was probably trying to stir things up a bit. Believe it or not, neither of us took the bait...even me! However, I had to speak up later when some cousins were doing the "global warming my ass" thing. I talked about how it is actually consistent with higher snowfall, and when another cousin said that it all goes in cycles, I said "But not to this extent." I swear, I think he kind of gave a shrug and an eye roll (I would like to specify that he's a cousin by marriage)! Hey, condescend a little bit, why don't you? Then my young Cousin Russell, a freshman in college, spoke up in my defense and said he'd just done a paper on it and based on all the evidence, it is very much real. When another cousin asked, "So are you guys believers or deniers?" I said, "Believer," and Russell said, "Oh yeah, definitely."

It's nice to not feel so alone when faced with a "hostile" audience. Hostile since even though they might give me a big hug and say "Love you, Beth Anne," they know...think Glenn Beck is reasonable and sane. I fear for my southern cousins, I truly do. I hope to have another opportunity to discuss things with them. Preferably after the health care bill is passed. tee hee

So after a brief sojourn to the central Florida Republican enclave of the family, I was traumatized but unbowed. It's one of those deals where I love (almost) all of these family members, and I could never hate them for their views. I might think they're a little misguided for liking some of these lunatics, but I love 'em anyway. I also just didn't have it in me to be too combative. I was licking my wounds, just wanting to laugh, be loved, and get lots of hugs. I did all three, so even though I didn't get to expound upon my political views, I still had me a helluva time.