This is a little story of one of my childhood experiences that I wrote out to be published in an online newsletter that has gone out of existence. So I figured this is as good a place to publish it as any…
We arrived back home safely from Rochester yesterday afternoon around 2:00 pm. The roads were good, the car worked fine, I found my way around Rochester just fine, and I didn’t see a deer the whole way over and back.
Our dear friend Evelyn had some tests run, and consulted with the Mayo specialists. It was found that she has five spots on her lungs, four of them very small. Three showed up as white spots, which the doctor says are calcium deposits – he’s not at all concerned about them. The fourth is turning white, most likely a calcium deposit as well; he’s not concerned. The fifth one, however, is nickel-size and dark. That one does concern him, and Evelyn is now scheduled to return to the Mayo Clinic on March 1 for more tests, which will include their going into her side with a scope and removing that spot from her lung. If it turns out to be benign, or if they’re sure they got it all, she won’t have to undergo any radiation or chemotherapy treatments. So we’re hoping and praying for her!
I didn’t sleep well Tuesday night, probably because I was acutely aware that I had to get up early and drive, plus I was experiencing quite a bit of pain in my left shoulder because I didn’t medicate it much because I wanted to be as alert as possible for our early morning trip. I drove in darkness all the way to Rochester. At my age that’s quite a feat. We were up at 3:00, at Evelyn’s place at 4:30, and arrived at the Mayo Clinic at 6:15.
We entered the Gonda building from the subway level at 6:30 when the security guard came and opened the gate. I didn’t know they had such security there, but these days it doesn’t surprise me at all. But I was a little bit surprised at all the people who were standing there waiting to go in. I shouldn’t have been though. People come from all over the world to Rochester, and having lived there for three years I am very cognizant of that fact.
After stopping at the business/administration office on the lobby level for a few minutes, we were directed to the elevators. We entered one and suddenly whooshed upwards eighteen stories in a few seconds! My wife said the elevators seem like they’re jet-propelled!
When we arrived on the 18th floor for our friend’s appointemtn, it was still pretty dark outside. But in a few minutes the bank of windows on the east side of the waiting room became very obvious. Not only did it grow light, but soon the sun was streaming in those windows, and right in the eyes of the poor ladies behind the counter as they tried to check in the patients. Fortunately it wasn’t long before the sun had risen high enough that it wasn’t a problem.
In a short time our friend Evelyn was called back. We were told it would take at least an hour, possibly more, so we headed off to the elevators again, and dropped all the way down to the subway level in a matter of seconds. In short order (no pun intended) we found the cafeteria, where we bought a couple Jimmy Dean biscuits wrapped in their paper wrappers, a couple fresh donuts, and a couple cups of coffee to wash it all down with. It turned out that the biscuits were as bad as the donuts were good, and the fair-to-middling coffee made it all a pretty average cafeteria experience. At least we got some food and coffee in our stomachs!
So we then zoomed back up to the 18th floor, and discovered that Evelyn was still “back there”. We found seats near the windows. I stood up and looked around out those windows a bit; I’m always amazed at the wonderful views one can get from those high locations. Then I saw a fellow near me taking pictures out the window, which made me remember the camera on my cell phone. Thinking you all might like to see a few of the sights I was seeing, I pulled out my cell phone and started clicking away!
This is the view that first inspired me to take the pictures. This is looking east out of the 18th floor of the Gonda Building. The tall building is condominiums. Behind it the odd-shaped building is the Rochester Civic Center. Directly in front of us is the roof of the Kahler Grand Hotel.
So we got done at the Mayo Clinic around 11:30 am. My wife caller her sister who lives there in Rochester, and she met us at a Perkins for some lunch; then she went back to work and we headed out on the highway headed west towards home. We arrived back here to our little vale of tears around 2:00 and rested the rest of the day.
And I slept like a rock last night!
Monday evening, after determining that we wouldn’t drive to Rochester in the wee early hours of Tuesday morning, we ventured out into the cold and snow to the Kato Ballroom, to participate in the Twins Caravan along with some six hundred other baseball fans. It was the usual weather for the Caravan; it’s either a snowstorm or it’s bitterly cold. Well, this time it was technically a blizzard. We only got about an inch or so of snow, but the high winds, sometimes gusting as high as fifty mph brought visibility down nearly to zero.
That Sunday our Minnesota Vikings had lost a big playoff game to the New Orleans Saints, and the loyal Vikings fans were feeling pretty low, but that all was forgotten as we all crowded into the Kato Ballroom for a fun evening of talking baseball with current and former players and broadcasters.
We were fortunate to have with us two current Minnesota Twins players, pitcher Jeff Manship, and center fielder Denard Span. Also joining us for the evening were radio broadcaster John Gordon and former Twins pitcher and future Hall-of-Famer Bert Blyleven.
There were lots of stories, jokes, and fun, along with autographs and photographs!
And you have to hand it to these guys, too, being brave and coming out in some of the most inclement weather Minnesota has. Jeff is from Texas, and both Bert and Denard live in Florida (I don’t know where John lives). There were some good-natured jabs at Denard for keeping his coat on even in the warmth of the Kato Ballroom. Jeff apparently took a nasty fall on the ice earlier in the day at another town up north of here, but he was doing all right in spite of it.
We always enjoy when Bert come to town, too. If you’re familiar with him, you know he was always known as a real prankster when he was a player, and he hasn’t lost any of his sense of humor. He made light of his lack of enough votes to make it into the Hall of Fame this year by noting that his name (Blyleven) rhymes with eleven, and saying maybe that’s a sign that next year (2011) will be his year to be elected.
We happened to get our hands on some VIP tickets to this year’s Caravan, so we were allowed to go to the back room and eat supper with the players and get our autographs early instead of waiting in line with the other fans. There were probably about fifty of us in that room. We got the tickets because my company sponsors the Twins broadcasts on the local radio station. It’s a nice perk that I never knew was available to us, even though we’ve been sponsors for quite a number of years, and have been going to the Twins Caravan for about 25 years, but have always just sat in the big ballroom with all the other fans, not knowing that we could have gone and met the players personally like we did this time.
I think it’s a real testimony to the baseball fans of this town, that even on such a horrible night we still packed the Ballroom with over 600 fans. And it’s just as great a testimony to the greatness of the Twins organization that they are always willing to come, no matter the weather, and the show always goes on no matter what!