You won’t likely care about this episode, blog post or whatever you care to call this entry. That’s okay. If you’ve listened to me at all you know this is mainly about legacy and laying down some information that I’d like to pass on. The Lord has blessed me. My tribe has increased. We started out as a two person tribe, just me and Rhonda, my wife of almost 36 years. About 3 years into the marriage we became 3 with the birth of our son, Ryan. About a year and a half later, we were completed with the birth of Renae. Well, we thought we were complete — and we were, for a long time. Then we gained a son-in-law, a daughter-in-law and four grandchildren. It’s the cycle of life. Bula! Life is good.
I’ve written extensively about her and the impact she’s had on my life. In 2003 I wrote a note to her, When A Daughter Marries, that was given to the wedding party at the rehearsal dinner. I wrote about her 26th birthday, her 28th birthday and her 30th birthday.
Her Middle Namesake Came From The First Woman (other than my mother) I Loved
My maternal grandmother was simply known as “Re.” Her given name was Bessie Marie Burns. When she married, it become Marie “Re” Menasco. Rhonda and I decided to give our daughter her middle name because she was very important in my life. I was her first and only grandson until I was grown. It seemed fitting.
I knew of no better way to let this new born child know her importance to me. Her entrance into this world changed my world. For the better.
She learned to talk about the time she learned to walk. Mobility and communication go together like cheese and crackers. I joked that once she started talking she couldn’t shut up. In fact, when she was very small I hurt her feelings and I regret that, but I was happy that this little girl was so verbal and would speak in complete sentences while other toddlers struggled to make guttural sounds. She could speak with adults just as easily as with playmates. A fearless communicator. She came by it honestly.
They say “like father, like son” but in my house it was more “like father, like daughter.” I could not be prouder of my son and as life has rolled along I’ve seen him develop more characteristics like mine. Thankfully, he’s emulated the good ones and avoided most of my bad ones. But, anybody who knows him and my wife quickly realizes they’re much more alike in temperament, communication styles and appearance (fair skinned, blondish red hair). Renae and I were always more similar than not. Darkly complexed, very verbal and filled with empathy.
Before Rhonda and I could catch our breath, the kids were grown and married. No sooner had we exhaled and the first grandson was born. Jump up, turn around and count to 3 and now we’ve got 4 grandchildren, 3 boys and 1 girl. The Bible depicts life as a vapor that appears for a brief while, then vanishes. The older you get the more true you find that to be.
About 10 years ago I had pulled up to my favorite lunch joints for some solitude in the middle of a work day. My habit was to sit down, eat alone and read the USA Today. The cell phone rang as I parked the car. It was Rhonda. “Renae’s had a wreck,” she said. I don’t remember much else, except putting the car in reverse and driving as fast as I could (which is pretty fast) to the hospital.
I went into the emergency room and found her sitting up on the examination table. She was disheveled and appeared to have some black burn type marks on her. She looked a bit like a chimney sweep. I found out it was the result of the air bags. Her back was hurt, but she was alert and sitting upright.
I thanked God she was alive and by all appearances, fine except for some burns to her hands from the air bag explosions. She was sore, but we knew she was blessed.
An 18-wheeler passed her on a major highway, clipped her fender and spun her out, driving her car headlong into a concrete median divider. The trucker kept going until other cars chased him down and forced him to stop. He either had no idea of what he had done, or didn’t care. He changed our lives forever. It’s good that I don’t know who he is because the temptation to put a major hurt on him would be strong. I’m a Christian and not given to violence, but if I were not a Christian…well, it’s good that I am.
Over time we’d learn she was more injured than we first thought. The damage wasn’t visible and that made dealing with it more difficult I suppose. It certainly made it tougher for folks to understand. Her back was jacked up. She had major leg pain. Doctors didn’t prove terribly helpful early on. I quickly realized there’s a reason you see so many back doctors. And I don’t trust most of them.
Life is grind. Unfortunately, Renae has had a tougher grind than most in the last decade. But she’s strong and tenacious. I’m confident that this – the beginning of her 32nd year – will be a better year for her, Lord willing. She’s not alone in facing struggles. She’s blessed and knows it. Life is good, but it can always be better.
As her father, I’m more fully devoted to her now than ever before. She’s still my little girl and there are yet so many things I need to do for her and with her. Lord willing, I’ll serve her well in this coming year of her life. I know our time together is limited so I have to get busy (and stay busy) making the most of it. She’s among the very best investments I’ve ever made.
I love her very much. Happy birthday, sis.