Friday, November 18, 2011

James Lewis "Jim" Rogers, b. Nov 18, 1976

Jim’s 16th Birthday. No one could of predicted that Jim would become the best driver in the family. Prior to his sixteenth birthday, he had finished off a couple of cars “practice driving” off road. His most dramatic incident involved racing through the pasture in an old Blazer. A low lying tree ripped the roof off making a convertible of this Blazer. With Jim unharmed, the story was added to family lore with a laugh and head shake, and  “oh, only Jimby ... ” crossing all of our minds.

Thirty-five years ago today my family welcomed James Lewis “Jim” Rogers to the world. This was not Mom’s first time around the birthing track--her seventh to be specific--and she walked out of the hospital with her baby cradled in her arms the very next day. Two years earlier, Mom almost died in childbirth and her twin babies went to heaven. On November 18, 1976, God blessed her with a picture perfect delivery and baby boy. She knew her family was complete.
The youngest in a large family is a unique place to live; I know nothing about it and never will. I watched my brother John as the baby for years before Jim arrived. Then, of course, Jim was the baby. I always envied that spot on the ladder though John passed the torch to Jim without thought. 
November 18 will always be Jim’s birthday, always a day to celebrate his life and love. He now has two birthdays: the day he went to Heaven and the day he was born on Earth. 

Jim’s 21st Birthday. No one anticipated their 21st birthday more than Jim. It wasn’t about a bar or a drink but rather our parents' tradition of taking each 21-year-old to Las Vegas. Jim invited me to be his guest on the trip with Mom and Dad. Caesar’s Palace provided our playground for a weekend of debauchery in Jim’s honor. This trip also became part of the family story but the two of us kept certain details of that chapter to ourselves. We owned it and still do.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Genie Banks Rogers

Mom pictured with her older brother
Hartley. Being 13 years older
he tormented my Mom by
taking her dolls and other
antics. As a young man, many
thought he looked like Elvis.

As a Toddler on the Steps of the Family Home

Deep down, Mom will always be a cat person though the dogs in her life have lacked for nothing, especially affection. She is a friend and advocate to each animal she encounters: I'm confident the geese, woodchucks, deer, raccoons, squirrels, and others flock to her place for good reason. 
Mom with Her first Cat (above) and Her Pony

A True 40-Year Love Story: Until Death Do Us Part
President Reagan Visits Columbia
My Dad won Mom's heartstrings when he invited her to see Barry Goldwater for a first date. Other romantic outings included drinks at the Heidelberg, Mizzou football games, and family time. Proof positive, these passions continued through the decades. President Reagan's visit to Columbia in the late 1980s thrilled--look at my mother in this picture. That's anticipation! Loyal Mizzou football fans, they endured the good, the bad, and the ugly from the mid-1960s through 2005.

Fall 2004, Night Game at Faurot Field
Below are the final lines of a manuscript prepared by my siblings in honor of my parent's 40th wedding anniversary, the last they would celebrate together. These words, as appropriate and meaningful today, I share with love and respect.

"Mom and Dad have often said that one of their greatest accomplishments was raising five kids who are each other’s best friends. Mom and Dad can also take pride that all of their children consider Mom and Dad their best friends too. We congratulate you on your 40 years of marriage. You have taught us each what love and family are all about. We thank you for each other, us, and many wonderful memories and experiences."
We love you very much,
Mary, Ann, Hartley, John, and Jim


Thursday, November 10, 2011

My Take on the "Happy Lamp"

It always sounded too good to be true.
It may be.
It’s large, it’s bright, it can attract attention in the office. People often question me about it, usually on behalf of a spouse, a friend, a parent. Can’t help but think-- “but of course, only others struggle with seasonal depression.”
When asked if the Happy Lamp helps, if it really boosts my mood and emotions when the days grow dark and gloomy, I always respond with this answer:
“I truly think it helps and frankly that is good enough for me.”

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

I am a Tree Hugger

Oak Tree
On the first day of spring 2011, I transplanted three trees from my brother Jim’s yard. Eight months later and in the heart of fall, the trees are thriving and I believe he is smiling down on them.
(Look here at pictures of the trees when I planted them in March: )
Yesterday I built a mulch bed around each tree to blanket them for the extra cold winter predicted for this year. I started to weep. It’s impossible to convey all the emotion tossing in my skull but it can be summed up in a simple way: I miss him.
Still crying and on impulse rather than thought, I hugged the little tree. I then climbed to the top of the yard and gave Jim’s oak tree and crabapple tree a hug also. Sitting in the bright, blinding sunshine under the little oak tree my weeps turned to sobs, dampening the ground with my tears.
Before going inside, I gave each tree another hug and in process created an alternate yet more literal definition of the term “tree hugger.”

Crabapple Tree (left) and Magnolia Tree (right)