4.23.09 Thursday Arkansas.
We slept in the upstairs of Terry’s sister’s house. A big farm house with a red barn and a stream and rolling pastures. The cows mooed us to sleep. We woke to word that our home city, North Myrtle Beach was on fire, with 40+ homes destroyed and several hundred damaged. It is dry and windy and the fire has crossed several roads, but the complex our business is in is operating a normal schedule. Smoke and ash are in the air from the reports we’ve heard. Our fantastic neighbors have a watchful eye on our home and puppy dogs, so we can rest easy tonight.
We were invited to bring the time machine to Allen Elementary, a school full of first and second graders. They announced the day before that the ‘time car’ would make an appearance during recess, and we arrived right on time! Each class marched out and stood in an orderly line along the curb as we demonstrated the doors of the DeLorean to their collective ‘oooh’s and aaahhh’s!’ I asked them what color the car was painted and, clever kids that they are, replied ‘none!’ Terry spoke just a bit about Parkinsons, as she led them around the car, and explained why we travel around. When I asked each class who had seen the movie ‘Back to the Future’, I was delighted, time after time that at least 1/3 to ½ had seen the film! Just amazing. Many said the cowboy one was their favorite, implying that they had seen not just part one, but part 2 and 3! It made me proud that their parents were raising these kids right! Although I’m lucky to have seen the film when it first came out on the big screen in 1985, I’m somewhat jealous that I had to wait 17 years into my life for it to happen. These kids got an early introduction to one of the greatest films of all time.
I gave each teacher a poster of the car for their classrooms, which seemed well received and after two hours of the parading, demonstrating of the gull wings, and answering questions about going back to visit the dinosaurs, we departed. The tiny people waving and smiling and saying ‘thank you’ was a bright spot in my day. I’d like to remember the experience, but think rather that we should simply repeat it, often, with other schools.
Onward we drove the time machine to visit an assisted living facility where Terry’s mom lives. It’s a great ‘facility’ if you can refer such a home-like place by such a term. After a bit of chatting, laughing and generally provoking the greatest mother-in-law in the world, I left Terry for some mother-daughter time while I checked the latest on the fires.
Still not contained, and more houses destroyed, but the wind was turning back inland. Our first son (beagle) does not like smoke. It has freaked him out ever since, in my impatient hunger, I unwittingly turned up Terry’s crock pot to ‘High’ before stepping out to run an errand. Poor doggie didn’t know how to call for help as the house filled with smoke. I returned to find him on the back porch all nervous and worried and upset. It took weeks to get the smell of burnt whatever-that-was-in-the-pot, out of the house.
Back at the Senior Village it was dinnertime and we escorted Stella to the dining room where her normal table was full. So we sat her down at the next one over, where I met a man named ‘Guy’, and his wife. She saw our Team Fox shirts and asked about them. After the general introduction of who, what, why, etc. she shared with us that Guy was diagnosed in 1995 (and misdiagnosed for years previously.) He asked how ‘Michael’ was doing, and I related how he had been working very hard this month making appearances on every TV and radio show, magazines, etc., since April is Parkinson’s awareness month. Guy mentioned hearing MJF on the radio. I asked how he felt, and he admitted he was having a ‘good day’, which is always something to be grateful for. His wife asked what we knew about the latest research, and (thanks to us attending the roundtable discussion in Atlanta earlier), we were able to relay some hopeful bits of information to them and tell them how efficient and aggressive the foundation is operating to find a cure. Guy asked where we were from, and when I said North Myrtle Beach, he mentioned the fires. I was impressed that he was so razor sharp and up to the minute on his news! Apparently it was now the top story on CNN.
Back to the farmhouse, the sun is setting, and we're hearing the soft sounds of spring peepers, cows mooing, and misc. insects in the pastures. In the distance some coyotes began to howl, a mother apparently calling her pups back from playtime.
Time for bed.