The Song is Stand By Me. From the Movie Stand By Me.

What does Family mean to You?

Family can be people related by marriage but it also can be a group of people with a common interest or bond, or people that care for you deeply. With Family you do not have to say I am sorry, because they know how you feel, even though it tightens the bond between everyone when you do.
This story is about my FAMILY; my MOM, DAD (Jim), and 3 Older brothers. During Easter Weekend I found out just how tight my Family was. I was getting ready to go into the hospital for Brain Surgery to try to control my Seizures; I have epilepsy and have had it for the past 36yrs. My Mom and Dad flew out from Florida to be with me prior and after the Surgery.
My Parents came in on Wednesday My Brother Rob who lives in San Francisco, across the bay from me as I live in Oakland. When my Parents arrived, I knew that the Surgery was really going to happen now, my Parents were here. I was afraid that the doctor was going to cancel it, I was very anxious or losing some of my memory. What would happen if I came out of the surgery and could not remember my MOM, or my Dad or my Brotherís? People that have been so involved in my life.
Time for a side story, while I was growing up I was teased all the time in Regular school because I had gone to a Special Education school and the kids knew it. I was Teased, my books stolen from my Bicycle baskets as I rode to school, got in to fights and mostly this was from the Older kids. My Brother John was on the Varsity High school football Team and he got a few of his buddies and walked me to school for a few days. Now think of being 10 or 11 yrs old and having an older Brother that was 17 or 18 with some of his friends around walking you to school. Needless to say the Stuff on the way to school stopped. I could ride my bike to school without needing to worry about it. He also taught me how to defend my self and it REALLY DID WORK. Although the teasing went on the fights stopped.
There so many more instances like this that it would be a whole nether story, maybe some day I will write them down too. Now back to the Story.
My Parents were staying in Redwood City were I was to have the surgery. Therefore, my Brother and his son and I went down to see them and maybe have some dinner. It was really wonderful to see Mom and Dad as I hadnít seen them since Christmas í97. When we got to the Hotel about a 45 minute drive from San Francisco there were a TON and I do mean a TON of HUGS all around. My Dad said he wanted REAL MEXICAN FOOD, UT OH, so Rob knew of a Mexican restaurant and Deli that made Burritos, now let me tell you these ďRegularĒ Burritos were the biggest ones I had ever saw. So there were 5 of us in this little Hotel room it was very close quarters but that didnít matter, as we are FAMILY.
On Thursday, I had to work so I met my Mom and Dad in Hayward where I work and we went to VALís ďThe best Hamburgers in the WestĒ. West of what we never did figure out. After that it was time for me to go to work, but my Parents did get to see the place I work at as I work in Crisis Mental Health Counseling and we need to be very careful of Confidentiality of our Clients. I talked with my Program Director and Program Supervisor and asked if I could have the rest of the week off because I was just getting to Anxious over my Surgery. He said as long as I could find someone to work my shifts I would be able to do it. I called one of our Subs and she agreed to pick up the shifts AHHH YAHOOOOO More time to spend with my Brothers, and Parents.
Now On To Saturday, my Cousin Clayton was getting married and the whole Family was there All four Brothers and Mom and Dad, this does not happen that often. John had a Rotten Cold and was not feeling well at all. The Ceremony was nice, for a church thing. One of the most memorable moments was when the Bride and Groom kneeled in front of the Father and two people put a Cape, Vail what ever you want to call it over them and than put a Rope around them. Nothing like being tied up at the Alter.
All my Brothers and Mom were hinting that something was going to happen on Sunday, but they didnít know that I had gotten an Email from my Cousin telling me what was going to happen and that he was going to support me in the same fashion. So I asked all my Brothers about everyone getting their Haircuts tomorrow. John looked me right in the eye and said that ďNo not everyone was getting their hair cutsĒ, so being the Counselor I am I decided to ask the other Brothers about it, Rob was busy with the Wedding as he was one of the attendants. So I asked Rick the Oldest about it and YES HE spilled the Beans about the haircuts, that they were going to cut their hair in Solidarity of my Surgery, and Mom had a special present the next day for us.

So Plans were made to meet at Robs House the next morning Sunday, just four days before I was to go in to the Hospital.
Mom and Jim would pick me up and we would drive over ďEarlyĒ. Mom was going to make us all breakfast and afterwards the Haircuts would begin. Mom also gave us her Presents, I got a hat that said Capín Chris and Rick, John, Rob and Jim had gotten one that said Chrisís Crew.
While Mom was making Breakfast we all got the Before Pictures Done, in Robís back yard with all of us with our hats on WITH HAIR.
John was the first one in the ďchairĒ, Rick being the Oldest and John being the Next oldest. Rick was going to do the Honors. There was a Mirror in front of us and Rick started to shave Johns head, I am sure you could hear the laughter outside the House and in the next apartments.  John had finally ended up with a Mohawk, which we thought was good for him as he is a Science teacher and is a Couch for his High School Football team.  Everyone was laughing so hard that most of us were crying. This was a time that we wished we had had a Camcorder.

Rick was the next one in the ďChairĒ and seeing John and Rick had grown up competing against each other, it was Johnís turn to CUT SOME HAIR. John started right down the Middle of Rickís Hair; By The Way Rick had the most hair of us all. You could see John was really enjoying himself with this, it was Brotherly Love or better known as PAYBACK TIME. John started with a cut right down the middle of Rickís Scalp, We figured John had learned how to do this while he was in High School as he went to Shawnee High School. John continued to shave the top and than he started on the Bottom. Until Rick ended up with just two little patches of hair on each side of his head. We nicknamed them POODLE PUFFS. Again, the Laughter was spread across the Neighborhood.

Now for the one that we all thought was not going to get his HairCut, ROB, as he had a Big Job interview with the City of San Francisco in the Morning. But being the one of the Brothers he got into the chair. Now you have to understand Rob look just like our Grandfather on our Momís side, and everyone knows where male pattern Baldness comes from right? I am not sure how to describe it but Rob had THE RING with long hair in the back. So Rob got in to THE CHAIR. Rick again started on his Hair; you know how Older Brothers can be. Again, seeing that Rob had that Job interview in the Morning we didnít want to do anything to Drastic. We all think Rick missed his calling, instead of wasting his time being a Project manager he should have been a Barber, he really seems to like this kind of work, Well maybe he can do it as a side Job. So Rick went and Started on Robs, head Lowering his hair line even more and trimming the beard up nicely. However, keeping the Long hair in the back. We called this look the Ben Franklin Look. Again the Whole time everyone is Laughing almost in tears.
Now it is Jimís turn We thought but he got out of it saying he had to go back Home and he didnít think they would understand there. We still tried and talked him in to it but no go.


UT OH My turn in the Chair.

My hair was somewhat short to begin with, as I got it cut for the Wedding and Mom and Jim, as Jim would have killed me if he would have seen just how long my hair was. However, that did not stop Rick and John. Again John started right down the middle and started cutting strips out of my hair, Rick quickly joined in as I guess Project Managers/Wannabe Barbers do sometimes, and started to direct John to where he should cut and also got the scissors out to clean up what ever John missed. GeeezzzBig Brothers. Again, the Laughter of everyone including me was just too much. It seemed like an eternity in the Chair but actually, it wasnít any longer than the rest of them. We than proceeded to inhale Momís breakfast and had to hurry as John and his wife and Rick had to make flights back home. We than sat out front of Robs Place, in the Middle of San Francisco just blocks from the Castro District. Man oh Man did he get some looks.
After a short break, it was time for the Finishing touches.
ALL THE HAIR CAME OFF. We used Robs beard shaver but it just didnít get close enough, so Rick popped out his Electric Shaver and started getting a really CLOSE shave, all our heads were clean as a whistle with a Blue tint to them. Again, I wish we had a camcorder. Than for the After Shots back to the back yard and in the same positions we were in one with Hatís on, One with hats off. Boy it sure was bright and one with hats off with heads toward the camera, I am surprised that the glare didnít ruined the Pictures.
Then Rick, John, and his wife had to leave to get home.

On Monday, I had been asked by my doctor at UCSF to be a guinea pig for the LAST TIME. As he and his team was developing a new type of MRI, directed specifically for People with Epilepsy. It can read the chemical levels in the brain and specially find the area or focal point of the seizures. Wow did we learn a lot that day.
On Tuesday we decided that it would be better if I and stayed with Mom and Jim until Thursday as I had the second doctors appointment with the Neuro Surgeon early in the morning the following day at Kaiser Redwood City. After the Appt we had decided to do some shopping and get a couple of things that I would need in the hospital like a Robe and pair of slippers and a pair of PJís. Now try I have a Big foot but you would think it would be easy to find a Robe and Slippers at Major Department Stores in the Area of the hospital. Nope, every where we went we were told that they were ďOut of SeasonĒ. We wondered how those things were ever OUT OF SEASON. Nevertheless, Mom did find them, as I needed to do a couple of more things at the hospital before I could leave.


Now for the Big Day.

I had to be at the Hospital at 6:30am, now having been a Swing Shift person for over 3 yrs, that time is the middle of the night for me. So we have a wake up call at OH GOD 30 or better known as 5:30am. We get to the Hospital actually a few mins before my scheduled time and for those of you that know Jim that is a feat in itís self.
Admitting was a breeze, next we waited for the nurse to come down and get ready to go to Pre Ė OP. I met the nurse and she had me put the gowns on, donít you just hate those gowns. She than put those funny stockings on my legs, they are to stop blood clots and she gave me a pill. Well for the majority of the rest of the day,  as I donít remember. I just talked to Mom siad that the surgery lasted about six and half to seven hours.  When I came out of Recovery I was moved to the Neuro Surgery Critical Care Unit.  While there I spoke to Mom and she understood me.  I also grabbed her hand and squeezed it tightly, Sublimnally I knew my Mom was with me. I guess you always know who your Mom is even if you don't know it. Mom having been a RN told the Nurse that she was an RN also.  Now how many times do you think she had heard that? Mom  asked the Nurse, to see my chart and noticed that I was taking 30mg of Demoral. Mom asked if it could be raised to 40mg "Don't you think he deserves it?" the nurse replied Yes I think so.
I do remember waking up that night and hearing Momís and Jimís voice, although I couldn't see them, asking me how I feel. I remember telling them I had a huge toothache and the nurse giving me a shot.

Well on to Friday now.
I remember Mom, Jim, Rob, and Ethan showing up but not much more as I was getting a Demerol shot every 4 hours. I think I got a couple of phone calls that day but not sure.
Saturday again Mom and Jim showed up, and Rob, Emily, Ethan, and Several Friends from work. Again, I was still pretty out of it, as I was off the Demerol now but on Codeine every 4 hrs. But I was still kind of out of it because of the meds and the headaches, but those are normal for the first month or so. They all were telling me how BRAVE I was, I kept on saying that this wasnít about being brave this was about getting my Epilepsy under control.
On Monday my Neuro Surgeon came in to see me and told me I was well enough to be Discharged, donít tell him this but, Mom and Jim still had not found a place to stay in Oakland close to my APT. So I asked him if I could stay one more night. That I felt I was not ready to go home yet. He said ok but just one more night.
As I was getting ready to leave the hospital a nurse came in and gave me a bouquet of flowers from my Cousin, Thanks Betsy they were beautiful. I got home and to my Surprise, I had a CLEAN APARTMENT, those of you that know me know I am not the tidiest person in the world. Yes Mom and I keeping it above 95% but not by much above. Mom was also busy with the kitchen I had actually REAL FOOD in the fridge, I think it was going through shock. Mom cooked up a storm with only a couple of pots and pans and wondered why she had all those other ones at home.
Mom, Jim and I played tourist for the following two weeks. We went to Alcatraz, did Pier 39 and some chocolate factory that wasnít there anymore, it moved to San Leandro. We also tried to find San Jose but never did oh well maybe next time. We also had dinner with Rob and his Family and Rick came up again. Rick was keeping his head shaved and commented on how mine was growing back nicely. Brothers arenít they GREAT. We all had dinner at Toni Romaís on one of the COLDEST nights in the Bay Area, now remember Mom and Jim are from Florida. Mom basically lived in her Red Sweater and Black Raincoat while she was here, she was very fashionable for the Bay Area .
Than came Mom and Jimís last day we all went out to dinner one last time and everyone had to get to bed early as mom and Jim were leaving early and Rob had to go to Work the next day. Boy it was great having MY PARENTS and my Brothers around during this time.

Now on to the second part of;

What does a Family mean to you.
As those of you that know me I am an online person and have been online since 1991. I have made many great friends and have met a lot of them. I had Jim Do a mass Email to a list of 30-40 people after the surgery to let them know I was OK. When I got home my ďMailboxĒ was filled with electronic cards, letters, and even some Online Flowers. I went to the chat rooms I go to and all the topics said ďChris is Fine and will be coming home todayĒ. They made me feel welcomed again, having a few online moms and nurses, they were checking up on me every couple of hours via Email, Phone or Chat. They were all great and I thank each and every one of them. The different Groups I belong too all sent me Cards REAL ONES, and so did friends of the Family and other Family Members.
So to me FAMILY means they are always there even if they are 3000 miles from you. They are always with you.
I love each one of you, my Family.
Thanks
Chris

Family

We Laugh
We Cry
We Share
We Care
But Most Of All
WE are FAMILY

Just a little side note.  While writing this story and getting the pictures ready and doing all the pages.  I have had many emotions run through me, Laughter, Joy, Tears but the type you have when you know someone cares for you.

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