Saturday, January 01, 2011

A New Year and a Look Back

It has been a little over a year since my last real blog posting, and I thought I would summarize the last year in my (and my family's) life. Sort of a New Years Letter, if you will.

Liam achieved the first degree black belt in Tae Kwon Do, which is no mean accomplishment. But he didn't stop there. He also earned his Eagle rank in Boy Scouts with time to spare before he turned 18. He even completed two additional merit badges during his last week as a youth member of the BSA. Now that he is 18, he is an adult leader in the troop and finishing his senior year in high school. He has been active in FFA and has joined the wrestling team. His plans for the coming year vacillate between college, the military, or a job. It is hard to realize that he is now a man, but he has begun well.

Siusan continues to grow research corn for the USDA in Columbia, and will be making her winter nursery trip in January, this time to Puerto Rico. A potential destination was Mexico, but that fell through for a variety of reasons. She continues her volunteer work with the Tree Keepers and the Wild Ones (a native plant society). She has given programs for the Cub Scouts and guided several Boy Scouts in various science-related merit badges.

I have continued to work with th Research Support Computing group at the University of Missouri and have had the pleasure of working with good colleagues. They actually pay me for doing what I enjoy. The travel budget was one of the first things to be slashed locally, but I really don't miss it too much. We haven't gotten a raise in several years. but we have jobs. I remain active with the Boy Scouts, although my outdoor involvement has been inhibited by health factors

We all had a shock last month when my father died on December 11th. He was 81, but still making plans for travel to see his scattered children. He sang a solo in church on the previous Sunday, was at choir practice Wednesday, picked up his AAA Triptik that week and was preparing to drive with his granddaughter to the East Coast to visit my brother and his family, as well as visiting another brother on their way back. The entire Hancock family, including grandchildren descended on Houston and met up with my mother's sister's family and together we celebrated my dad's life. This was particularly rough me, as it was on all of us, partly because Dad was the last of his generation of Hancocks. Houston has been, for the past several year, a central point that we could all go to. Now that that is no longer the case. We are all going to try and keep in touch.

I stayed behind for a few days and help my siblings with the sorting of of Dad's effects. I was initially named executor in Dad's will (as well as being a contingent executor in Mom's will). All four of us siblings met with a lawyer to begin the process of carrying out the will and I ended up declining the serve as executor, and we all settled on my sister, who actually lives in Houston, and who has willingly taken over the task of not only executing Dad's will, but my mother's as well. Both Mom and Dad had things organized, and the paper trail, while not indexed, seems to be complete and in one place.

Dad was entitled to a flag for his coffin, and the funeral director said that the National Cemetery in Houston would probably send two soldiers to serve as an honor guard. As we arrived at the cemetery for the interment, the director informed us that a full honor guard had been sent to serve as pall bearers and to provide the customary military honors. We were told this was unusual, but apparently some entries on his discharge papers caught their eye, not the least of which was that he was awarded the Legion of Merit toward the end of his active service. Three volleys were fired by four riflemen, and Taps was played. Military honors at a funeral are always a moving experience, but to see it in this situation was extremely emotional.

As we went through his papers we found a folder with his award citations dating back to 1953 in Korea, when I was not even walking. His first Army Commendation Medal citation told us more in one short paragraph about Dad's service in Korea than he ever told us.

On a personal note, I have been dealing with health issues for the past 5 years. Initially it was a persistent infection in my left foot. Several hospitalizations, surgeries, and three courses of IV antibiotics failed to clear up the infection (which was in the bone, not the soft tissue). I ended up losing the little toe off my left foot, and the infection cleared up and has not returned. During all this time my hemoglobin dropped to a point where I was getting epogen injections as well as IV iron infusions. My kidney function dropped to the point where I had to begin dialysis in early December. The good news is that I feel MUCH better now. I am no longer always cold, and people who know me have noted that I am a lot more peppy than before. I still have anemia, but alt least I can function better. I hope to be able to resume an outdoor lifestyle in 2011

I do not intend to turn this into a medical blog, but I just wanted to let people know some of what has been affecting my life over the last year and a half.

My resolution for this New Year is to resume regular blogging.


Michael Kruse said...

Thanks for the update. I'm sorry to hear about your dad's abrupt departure. I lost my mother to cancer Oct 9 after a year long decline but that also gave us time to prepare.

I'm glad to hear you health is better. I look forward to hearing more from you in the new year.

Denis Hancock said...

Thanks, Mike. I was so out of blogging that I didn't even stop by my favorite haunts very much. I stopped by you Facebook page far more often, but still was unaware of your mother's passing until I visited your page earlier this evening. My condolences to you, too.

I hope we can visit somtime soon.