Friday, November 17, 2006


My dad was diagnosed with diabetes in the early 80's. I can remember how angry he was one evening talking to my mom wondering why he got it, how he got it. But he soon accepted it and did what he needed to (giving himself insulin shots, checking his blood sugar). I remember just before I moved in with my mom, when I was still living with my dad, driving in a motor home with my siblings, dad, and grandma to the VA hospital in St. Paul (my dad had served in the Air Force in Greece in the early 70's). This was in 1985. I remember the year because my favorite cassette to listen to on that trip was Prince's newly released recording "Around the World in a Day".

It featured the hit song, "Raspberry Beret". I recall telling my siblings that Prince lived quite close by (in one of the Twin Cities' suburbs). The plan was for my dad to be admitted to the hospital for tests while our grandma Ruth took care of us kids in the motor home which would be parked on VA grounds (my dad had custody of the kids with us seeing mom only on the weekends). One notable thing I remember from this trip was dad going on a walk with all of us one afternoon and then a couple of the boys misbehaving. He then "rapped" them and my grandma said, "Oh Steve, don't hurt the kids!". Dad said that sometimes it was the only way to make them understand. Grandma lasted a couple days, but she was not used to taking care of so many kids at once. Just taking care of Matt, I'm sure, was a handful (he once rode a tricycle down the main street of Rollingstone with only his underwear on). So she asked her other son, John, to come and pick her up. Dad had to cut his medical treatment short (he finished the tests at a later date). Until yesterday, that was the last time I had been at the VA. My dad has been there dozens of times in the last 20 years.

On Wednesday, he had a stent put in by his heart. It went great, but I thought it would be nice if I drove up to visit him on Thursday. I was able to take off work. I slept in a bit and left Rochester at about noon, arriving at about 1:30pm. I called my dad who said they were finishing some tests and that he should be in his room in about a half hour. I was a bit hungry, so had a bite at the cafeteria. I noticed quite a few guys in wheelchairs at the hospital. Pretty much all the patients were males as well (not surprising since VA patients are, by definition, veterans). I had a burger combo which wasn't too bad. I then went up to 4-E and saw my dad. He said my brother, Mike, and his family had visited earlier in the day. They were now at the Mall of America, but planned to return that afternoon. My dad was in good spirits. He looked forward to going home in a day or two. I mentioned that the last time I was up there was in '85. I was surprised. He actually remembered that trip as well. We were getting ready to leave when Mikey J and company entered the room.

They talked about selling their house in Caledonia and moving to Hokah or the Crescent city in order to be closer to the metropolis of the Crosse. The two kids they have are fantastic. Mike had his hair dyed which was pretty wicked. We all hung out together for about a half hour before taking off. Dad walked us out to the visitor entrance (without shoes on, I might add). We said our goodbyes and headed home.

On the way back, I thought about seeing "Borat" again. I went to the 5:25 show. I talked to my mom that evening who said that she had also seen "Borat" earlier in the week with a friend and that she was quite embarassed to have seen it (I guess it wasn't her cup of tea).

All in all, a nice day. As Borat would say, "Happy Times!!!"

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