(SoapOperaNetwork.com) — Life outside Llanview. Sometimes if it wasn’t for bad luck, I’d have no luck at all. That statement perfectly fits my life so far in 2009. When the clock struck midnight on January 1st, I was eagerly looking forward to resuming this column. The holidays were over and things seemed to be finally getting back to normal in my household. I published the January 1st edition of ‘My View of Llanview” on time and was already tossing around topics in my head for the next installment of the column. Yep, everything appeared to be going according to plan. Then it happened. The cycle of life-altering events began. According to the old saying, a little rain falls in everyone’s life at some point or another. But the rain doesn’t always fall as a drizzle or even a light shower…no sometimes it pours. I spent the first few days of 2009 following the New Year’s holiday at the local funeral home. My father’s only surviving sister passed away between Christmas and New Year’s, following a prolonged illness. While the family had long anticipated her death, it still came as a surprise nonetheless. Only days had passed since my aunt’s passing, when death would again visit my family. This go around, the victim would be my great uncle, the brother of mother’s father. His death was even more shocking. I always saw him as the picture of health. Unlike my late grandfather who had numerous aliments in last years of his life, my great uncle seemed to be rather spry for someone in the seventies. He had a wonderful sense of humor, was very loving and kind, and was a hard-worker. Then he suffered a stroke. It was just before Christmas, and soon he was admitted to the hospital. For the first several days, his prognosis appeared to be stable, if not improving. However, his condition gradually began to take a turn for the worse. At this point, I feel I must warn you. I am not, or have I ever claimed to have a medical professional. What I am about to say may be incorrect, and if so I apologize. It is only my interpretation of what the doctors told my great aunt and the rest of the family. Apparently, most people have two carotid arteries in the back of their neck. Doctors had hoped to go in and remove on those arteries in my great uncle’s neck to help alleviate the effects of the stroke. But after taking x-rays and running several tests, it was determined that my great uncle had only one carotid artery in his neck. Therefore, surgery would be out of the question. As the days progressed, his condition gradually worsened. After hearing from my parents and other family members and friends that he ‘didn’t look like himself,’ I was determined to visit him in the hospital in the neighboring county. My plan was to catch my mom and dad or my aunt at the hospital that evening; I didn’t want to go alone. However, when I arrived at the hospital, I made several phone calls and quickly discovered that they had already left the hospital. Not wanting to disturb his rest and see the shell of the man I once knew, I returned home without visiting him. A couple of days later, my great uncle passed away. I soon realized that my not visiting him in the hospital was a blessing in disguise. By not seeing what the stroke had done to him, I was able to remember him as he was before the incident. My mind flashed back to the last time I had saw him. It was only days before the stroke when he and my great aunt paid a visit to my aunt and uncle, who live just down the road from my home. I spent nearly a half hour that day talking to him and laughing with him. He was in his usual jolly mood and looked so full of life. And that’s how I’ll always remember him. I often think of how God works in our lives. I almost didn’t go to my aunt and uncle’s house that day. I had been helping my mom straighten the house before the big Christmas holiday and came across a tool that dad had borrowed a few weeks earlier when we repaired a water leak at my grandma’s house. The tool was cluttering up our sunroom, so I decided to make the quarter of a mile drive to return it to my uncle. If I had decided to sit the tool aside and go about my cleaning, I would not have gotten to see my great uncle one last time.
God really does work miracles. After two visits to the funeral home and a reunion with all my extended family, in which we celebrated my great uncle’s life, things finally seemed to be getting back to normal. The following weekend, we even had a party. Well it was actually two parties in one. The first was a baby shower for my second cousin; the second was a 60th birthday party for one of my aunt’s. After the cake had been cut and we had all sung ‘Happy Birthday,’ I noticed my dad seemed to be a bit under the weather. Soon thereafter he left the party and returned home. Three days later, I was driving my mom and dad to the emergency room of the local hospital. Suffering from a severe stomach ache, my dad was in tremendous pain. After nearly five hours in the ER (most of which was spent waiting), the three of us returned home with more questions then answers. One doctor believed he saw some sort of blockage, while another believed it to be a virus. Fortunately, the latter diagnosis proved to be correct and a few days, my dad was starting to make a speedy recovery. Once again, I thought things were finally returning to normal. Periodically throughout the weekend of the January 24th and 25th, I checked the local weather forecast, cautiously optimistic of the coming week’s predicted winter storm. At first it appeared that my hometown of Clarkson, Kentucky would be receiving several inches of snow. “Not so bad,” I thought to myself. I have always loved snow and was looking forward to seeing more of the white stuff in a winter season where the previous biggest snow measured in at only two inches. I was looking forward to taking a few pictures of the snow with my new digital camera, throwing a few snowballs, and shoveling off the driveway once more. However, by Monday the news became more ominous. Snow was no longer being forecast for my area….it had been replaced with ice. Late that evening the freezing rain and sleet began to fall. I awoke on Tuesday, January 27th to the sounds of tree limbs crashing down around my home. Luckily, our property suffered only minor damage and our home was not touched. But it was a close one, with at least one large limb only inches away from our glass back door and sunroom windows. Thinking the worst was over, I went about business as usual on that Tuesday, cleaning and e-mailing ice pictures to local television stations (being the dedicated weather watcher that I am). Afterward, I sat down at the computer and contemplated the “One Life to Live” articles and previews I would need to work on that evening for SON. I was looking forward to writing, typing, and posting several articles that evening dealing with the latest Llanview happenings–including another installment of the “My View of Llanview” column. But Mother Nature had other plans. Just after 5:00 pm, as I was on my front porch turning on the accent lighting for the night, I heard several popping sounds. Immediately, I looked down the road to discover that an electrical transformer had exploded. After the lights flickered a couple of times, everything went dark. With sunset only minutes away, I knew it was going to be a long night in Clarkson. Needless to say, I was unable to perform my SON duties that night. It was an eerie sight…everything was so dark, and tree limbs were crashing to the ground throughout the night, never knowing where the next one would fall. Without hours of losing electricity at my home, the rest of town, and nearly the entire county was without power as well. Huddled around a battery operated radio, we ate ham sandwiches under the light of a small kerosene lantern. Candles flickered throughout the remainder of the house, and flashlights lit the way down dark hallways and corridors. Fully expecting the power to come back on the following day, I turned in early for the night after throwing a few extra blankets on the bed. I prayed that things would be better come morning, only to discover that they had gotten worse. And adding to the gloom was the falling temperatures inside the house. I awoke that Wednesday morning with a chill. By this time, the temperature had fallen into the low 40s on the digital thermostat on the central heating unit in my home. The nip in the air resulted in my parading around the house wearing a coat and gloves. Still believing that we had already seen the worst of this situation, I remained somewhat calm as the winds howled and the ice turned to snow outside my doorstep. However, by the afternoon I could see my breath inside, and when the temperature dropped to 35, the severity of the situation finally hit me. After packing a few essential items, my family and I, along with the cat, packed up and made the trek next door, across the driveway, to grandma’s gas stove heated home. After settling in at grandma’s house, we had already made comfortable sleeping arrangements. Then it happened yet again. One of my aunt’s had no heat in her home, so she and her dog arrived to bunk with us at grandma’s. Not long thereafter, her son (my cousin) and daughter-in-law also arrived with their six dogs (four of them puppies!), resulting in rather cramped quarters. How we all survived that ice storm I’ll never know. We spent the rest of the week there, and somehow didn’t kill one another. It is amazing how creative a person can get when they have no electricity. We cooked our breakfast (eggs, bacon, and sausage) on the outdoor propane grill; we heated up cans of food atop the gas cook stove inside, and stored canned drinks, milk, and lunchmeat on the back porch in the cold January air. By Sunday morning, February 1st–nearly five days without power, electricity finally returned to Clarkson and we packed up, headed back across the driveway, and returned home. I cannot begin to tell you how wonderful it was to finally have electricity again. After spending the afternoon washing dishes and sorting laundry, I took my first hot shower in nearly a week. Even though I had been able to wash up a couple days during the previous week thanks to water heated on the stove in a pan, it felt great to be able to stand in the shower again. That night I was able to sleep in my own bed again as well after a week alternating between a couch and a blow-up mattress. Things were slowly, but surely beginning to return to normal. I was looking forward to trying to catch-up with “OLTL,” which I had been unable to watch for almost a week, and work on typing up articles covering all the “OLTL” news I had missed during that time. But duty called, and I was forced to answer to a higher authority….the Mayor of Clarkson. Being Mayor Pro-Tem, as well as a City Commissioner, I am the second in command of my hometown with a population of around 900. So when the Mayor called and asked me I could relieve her and be my town’s representative at the county’s Emergency Management Center for awhile, I obliged. The center is manned 24-hours a day during emergency situations, such as the ice storm, and requires that representatives from all county and city agencies be there. I would spend much of the next couple of days at the center, and attending Clarkson City Commission meetings with the Mayor and the three other city commissioners. I also visited an area shelter which had been set up for people who had no heat or power, and met Kentucky’s Lt. Governor. The next day, back at the center, I talked with our U.S. Representative, State Senator, and several other local and state dignitaries. Once things finally began to calm down, the clean-up began. With four yards to be concerned with, I have spend several days cutting up and dragging tree limbs out of the yard. Once finished, it was on to the lawns of my both grandmas, and my great aunt on my father’s side of the family. Fortunately, the clean-up, as far as I am concerned anyway, is nearly complete. The VCR and Youtubehave become my best friends in the weeks since the lights came back on following the devastating ice storm. Only this week did I finally get caught up on all the episodes of “OLTL” that I missed due to the ice storm, meetings, and clean-up. Finally having time last week to sit down at the computer and search the Internet, I was shocked by just how much “OLTL” news occurred during my unexpected hiatus from SON. Everything from the deaths of Clint Ritchie and Phil Carey, to Hank and Rachel Gannon retuning to Llanview, to rumors of Roscoe Born possibly making a “OLTL” comeback this spring, to everything in between. Ten articles in all, many of which I completed and posted in only a few days time. What are the odds that all hell would break lose in my life during the busiest news week in years for “OLTL?” I’d be willing to take bets on that one, ha ha. With things finally working their way back toward normalcy last week, the other shoe dropped. An aunt, one of my mom’s sisters, suffered a heart attack and was transported to a hospital in Louisville. She had three blocked arteries, one at 90% and two others at 30% each. Rather than perform triple bypass surgery, the doctors instead inserted a balloon to open up worst blockage, and are treating the other two with medication. Thankfully, she will be fine and is resting comfortably at home. And in a final hurdle, I had to take more time away from my SON duties last Friday night to assist in the tech booth during the annual Valentine Banquet at my church and help with microphones and playing a DVD of old wedding photos. But on the plus on the plus side, there is a new addition to my family….my second cousin and her fiancé are the proud parents of a healthy baby girl. At least some good came out of all of this. So, as you can see, 2009 has gotten off to a very busy start for me. Also, I just wanted to let everyone know the real reason why the “OLTL” previews, news articles, and columns have been late for the past few weeks. I didn’t want everyone thinking I was getting lazy or bored with the soap or with my duties here. And I wanted everyone to realize that the delays were due to forces beyond my control. That being said, hopefully things calm down for awhile. I despise being so very far behind on everything, and hate trying to work overtime just to get things back to normal. I much prefer to be ahead, if at all possible. Perhaps I will be able to do just that now, since things are beginning to quiet down; however you never know exactly when the next storm will be brewing just below the horizon. But with any luck it won’t be anytime soon. Well, that’s all for this edition of the column. My apologies for devoting the entire column to a discussion of my personal life, but I felt that it was necessary to clear the air on the reasons behind my spotty coverage of “OLTL” in the last three weeks. We can complain about the weather from here to eternity, but we can’t do anything about it. I learned that the hard way. So again my apologizes for my recent sub par “OLTL” reporting, and thank you for your patience as I work to get my life back to normal following weeks of chaos. I hope you will join me again on February 28th for another installment of this column when, barring a meteor blowing up my computer, I will return to discussing the latest Llanview happenings. And until next time remember, we only have “One Life to Live” …..