Surviving

Feeling the warmth of the sun on a cloudy day. A glimpse into a blind billy goat's unique, ever changing perspectives.

2017 07 07 Journal Excerpt: Page 45 July 7, 2017

Seasons come, and seasons go. With the seasons, the moments that we build can stay with us forever, like the seasons.

 

2012 was a year filled with seasons that were filled with memories that were built from moments that will stay with me for many seasons to come.

 

Wait a minute, grab a moment and build a memory. It’s as easy as 1, 2,

 

dp

 

***

 

Page 45

 

Through the cold months, my writing found a way to keep me company. The prompts, the assignments, the poems and short stories and essays helped to take my mind off things so that I may enjoy different trips through a kaleidoscope of characters, destinations, situations and reminders of my own life. There were days when I would write a whole chapter for my fiction story, and on those days, the amount of video footage that was running through my head was amazing. As the story played, the words appeared on the screen, and before I knew it, a chapter was staring back at me, often times to the tune of a dozen pages. I explained to the writers in my Saturday group how I was writing what was playing in my mind, and one of the writers told me that she remembered that Stephen King often wrote in similar ways during the early years of his career. I didn’t believe it at the time, but I heard the same from a couple other writers, which caused me to take a step back and try to figure out how to deflate my swollen head and ego back to their original size.

 

Writing for me became a form of therapy. It allowed me to travel through my visions, my thoughts, my personal perceptions in a way that nothing else did. The more I wrote, the more I discovered things about my past, my present, my family, my childhood, my hates and loves and usually at the end of the day, when I shut down the computer, I felt as good as I did during the summer nights, sitting in the living room in Little Falls near an open window, feeling the cool evening breeze whispering in through the screen. That same sense of purpose, of life came rushing through me, and as I walked out of the make shift computer room here in Clinton, the same one where I am right now, well, it was a transformation of time, and of emotions.

 

We were able to celebrate the winter season throughout those frozen months. As a family, my wife and I, along with our son and grandson tried to gobble up as much memory making moments as possible.Jack was 6, and when I was near him and I heard his laughter, I felt like I was six and a half. I remember one afternoon, we were all out in the back yard. There were paths that I had shoveled near the back of the garage, and the snow was probably 2 feet deep, or there abouts. Jack came running up to me and pushed me backwards, causing me to fall back into the deep snow. He was laughing, I was laughing, and my wife was hollering for me not to move. I asked her what the matter was, and she hollered, “There’s a clump of dog poop right next to your head!”

 

Well, needless to say, I didn’t move an inch. Matter of fact, I don’t think I took another breath. Our son, God bless his heart, and strong arms, came running over, and with the help of Jack, the two Lyons men helped pull me back up straight, and out of the doggy doo danger.

 

I’ll never forget that moment, and writing about it now instantly took me back to that great afternoon with three of the most special people in the world.

 

Well the snows came and went, the icicles grew long and dripped their way towards spring, and if I remember correctly, that spring was one of the warmest we had seen in a while. I was glad to see the spring come along, but it just didn’t seem to have the same feeling as it usually did for me. Not having the vision to go along with the warming temps really seemed to be robbing me of a certain characteristic of the season that I had grown to admire and cherish. I kept telling myself that the magic of the season was still there, and it was up to me to figure out how to bring it to me. Perhaps what I didn’t realize was that the more important ingredient of the recipe would be for me to go to it. Another mobility lesson that I never would have expected.

 

That spring saw me continuing the mobility climb with Rosemary. We had traversed our way through the winter sidewalks, and as we stomped the snowy slush from our shoes, the lesson moved along towards the next intersection, with the promise of a toasted bagel and a hot cup of coffee waiting for us on lower Main Street.

 

Sarge and I had formed a friendship that allowed us to talk to each other about the day, the week, the past month, family ties, individual obstacles that we found ourselves working through, and the level of trust and respect that had grown for me was something that you can’t put a price tag on. When I made an error during a lesson, I knew instantly that she was cocking her head to one side, but also that she knew I would be able to figure it out and work my way through it. There were though moments though when her guidance was crucial, and as always, was only a few steps behind me.

 

I think that with any relationship, trust and respect are two of the most important elements of that, or any relationship. Without them, an honest level of communications isn’t possible. I’ve always tried to give folks the best that I have to offer. The old saying that you never get a second chance to make a first impression is true, but after that first impression, the work is far from over.

 

Rosemary injected so many different things into my life. Facing my fears and finding a way to build confidence through it all did take a lot of courage on my part, but it also took a ton of guidance, of experience, of determination and devotion, all of which were part of my O&M instructor, Rosemary.

 

Thanks once again Sarge.

 

To be continued…

 

 

2017 06 28 Journal Excerpt Page 42 June 28, 2017

 

Taking on a new challenge is always difficult. There’s things that can make it a little easier, such as having family, friends, folks smarter than you to guide you, advise you and pull and nudge you along. Knowing that there’s people there to help you is a gift. Not being able to see them makes things a lot different, but it allows you to build a level of trust that is quite different than the visual trust. Seeing is believing, but believing without seeing is absolutely priceless.

 

A universal receipt with a lifetime warranty.

 

Deon

 

***

 

Page 42

 

As we started the journey into another long, cold winter, another journey, another adventure of mine was coming to an end. I can’t remember exactly what time of the year it was, but it seems that I remember perhaps late fall, early winter when Mike Adams announced that he had pretty much taught me what he could, and that I should be fine with setting out on my own with my digital adventures. I was rather shocked to hear these words coming from him, for you see, I was under the impression that I would be receiving tutoring from him for the rest of my life. Or at least a close facsimile. Grin

 

Had I fooled him that badly? Did I appear to have a clue? Should I have acted dumber than usual? Would I even remotely resemble an adequately prepared user of assistive technology? Should I have started stomping my feet and sucking my thumb as he handed me a box of Kleenex?Did I still have my warranty?

 

Hearing these words from him, once again, brought forth an upwelling of anxious lava from a semi-dormant volcano of doubt, anguish, confusion and frustration. He had to know how vulnerable I felt. He just had to.

 

But it appeared that he didn’t.

 

Several times, he assured me that he was just an email away, and that I had proven to him that I was fairly capable to problem solve on my own. I guess from his perspective he must have known what he was talking about, right? I mean, he was the instructor, and I was the student.

 

Through this time in my life, I had never felt like such a student. I never felt like I needed to learn as much as I could, as fast as I could. As I learned, I studied a little more, because I knew that I had one test after another coming at me, and this classroom was one of those that locked from the outside of the room, and I was on the inside looking for a chair. It felt like I was unable to sit down though, I guess for fear that something would pass me by without me knowing, or seeing, or noticing. Before 2010 I didn’t want change, but now, then, from 2010 on, the change was taking place whether I wanted it or not.

 

My digital life had taken a sharp left, and man how the scenery had changed. The light and shapes and contrast was still there, in all it’s dulled glory, but I had begun to see things from so many different angles. The sounds, the textures, the broken toes and jammed fingers and bruised shoulders spoke to me in a way that snapped me to an attention I had never known. I wanted to find a way to sleep it off, but each time I awoke, it seemed that I was more awake than ever before.

 

Metaphors, metaphors, metaphors. I got a million of them, and they all have a place.

 

Saying good bye to my assistive technology tutoring was a scary thought, but I didn’t really have time to think about it much. When I came across an obstacle, the hidden opportunity was there for me to dig out, inspect, develop a plan of attack and set out on a mission to conquer, to understand, to build another layer on a new foundation of survival.

 

I never realized what a blessing it was to learn how to type. I remembered back to those first few emails I wrote to Leona, and how frigging frightened I was that I would never figure out how to do it.

 

I, I, I. All that I did revolved around me. Self centered? Posessive? Selfish? How else would I have grabbed hold of so many things that kept appearing in my new dark world?

 

This new life had things in store for me, and going against everything I had lived through in the past, I met every one of these things head on, as though they were all meant to be, and I had no choice. I suppose that’s exactly how it was, and as correct as it ever gets, but damn did it scare the crap out of me from time to time.I wanted to face my fears, but was

it possible to face the fears when they remained hidden behind a wall of blind?

 

To be continued…

 

2017 06 26 Journal Excerpt Page 40 June 26, 2017

 

Some days I don’t feel much like writing. Other days, it feels like I didn’t write enough, or I didn’t write about the right thing, or I strayed to the left when I should have veered to the right. Through all of my time spent writing, I have built up quite an assorted array of essays, stories, poems, and a ton of other things that I don’t really know what to call. Through my fingertips a new world has arrived, and as I have read back through this journal, I’m glad I was chosen to create the text.

 

In a word, thanks.

 

Deon

 

***

 

Page 40

Fall 2011

 

During the month of October, I had the chance to attend my first white cane and guide dog walk of independence in Augusta. My wife, son and grandson Jack also came along, and again I had the chance to meet some people in the blind community of Central Maine. The day was perfect, with warm temps and sunshine flooding the streets of the capitol, and as the canes and paws made our way around the downtown area, I realized that when it came to mobility with my white cane, I wasn’t alone.

 

My retired VRC Leona McKenna was also in attendance, but she wasn’t able to go on the walk with us. She had just been through a rather difficult surgery procedure on one of her feet, but she was there 100 percent in heart and spirit.

 

I did get the chance to talk with another woman, Marge Awalt, and her husband Hugh. They had brought a door prize with them, a voice activated dog that reacted to an accompanying book being read. Did I describe that good enough for you to follow along? Anyway, it was a pretty cool door prize that Jack ended up winning.

 

I just talked with my friend Lynn Merril on the phone, and she remembers being there. By the way, I should remind you again that this page post differs from others, in that I am writing it right now, the 25th of June, 2017. I am gap solving with additional journal info that I never wrote about, until now.

 

Well, the fall was full of differences, as you can imagine, and that I never would imagine. A funny thing happened on the way to writing a short story for my Saturday online writer’s group. We were directed to write a short story for Halloween, and so I set off on a quest to do just that.

 

I didn’t end up writing a short story though.

 

Usually short stories consist of roughly ten pages or so. As I started writing my story, something inside me kicked into gear. I knew after a couple pages that this story wasn’t going to be a short story. Just the way the events started happening, and the way that the movie inside my head was playing, I knew it was more than a short story.

 

Well, Saturday came, and during the group meeting everyone started discussing their stories. During the week leading up to the meeting, members usually submitted their writing piece to the groups list serve, an email list only accessible by group members. This way, the writers had a chance to read the other writer’s submissions in preparations for the next meeting.

 

Anyway, the online meeting started, and the critiques started flowing. When the critique moved to my submission, I told the members that I tried to write a short story, but couldn’t find an ending to it, so I submitted it anyway.

 

Everyone seemed to like the 8 or nine page submission, which I had entitled, Chapter One. There was another writer in the group who decided not to write a short story, but instead continued with chapters of a lengthy story he was writing. Even though I felt a little awkward not being able to end the short story, I shrugged it off as a stepping stone for things to come.

 

And come they did.

 

During this time, my sessions with Mike Adams also continued. I was becoming more comfortable with using my computer, as well as web stuff, in particular, my blog. I had started the blog off with posts declaring my hate for cancer. I had named the blog “Surviving”, as a reminder that I was a cancer survivor, or as I like to say, a cancer conquerer. I hadn’t really thought that the name could mean so many different things, such as surviving blindness, mobility lessons, lawn mower repairs, one sock coming out of the dryer, and probably the worst thing of all, running out of chocolate. The word had so many possibilities, and with each possibility came a world of issues, of chances, of opportunities that could either set you on your ass, or pick you up and take you to the other side where the roses were handed to you in the winner’s circle.

 

Yes, the lessons with Mike proved to be very beneficial, as I had become very dependant on my computer. I communicated with people with it. I felt so comfortable with writing, and while doing so, I didn’t have to worry about maneuvering around my day. I did my maneuvering with the keypad and my fingers. The text that JAWS read to me became a world that I could control, and without the vision there were so many things that I was constantly coming in contact with that kept reminding me how much of my day was completely out of my control. I mean, how could anyone control what they couldn’t see? How is that possible?

 

So many times those slogans of AA came into play, Keep it simple stupid, Turn it Over, Let go, Let God, they all reminded me of the one true thing that I could always control, and that was me. Little old me.

 

Every once in a while I go back and read an old blog post. Often times I sit and laugh while reading, and I ask myself how I ever learned how to write the things I do, the way that I do. I’ve often said that my writing is sometimes like a ping pong ball bouncing all over the place. I just shrug it off, and consider that as long as all the words end up on the screen, then it’s all good. Most of the time, they do, but how the hell would I know? grin

 

And now, for those three little words,

 

To be continued…

 

2017 06 24 Journal Excerpt: Page 38 June 24, 2017

As some memories fade, new ones are born. I wish I could have all of my memories back, but if the unwritten rules say we have to turn over those to gather in these, then I’ll keep trying to make the best of it. Some of my childhood memories are as strong as the ones from last week. How is that possible? How can that be? Such a long time ago, but then again, a couple years ago seems at times as far away as a childhood in Little Falls. Digitally manufactured and preserved by an imagination out of control.

 

My memories of my past have come to visit so many times. Some days I just sit and think about different things. Once in a while I reel in something that I haven’t thought of for quite a while, and usually it builds a smile across my face.

 

I like those the best.

 

Go grab yourself some memories.

 

Deon

 

***

 

Page 38

Summer 2011

 

I have an amazing lady by my side. I know she isn’t happy that she’s reading about herself right now, but she is a part of my story, as she has become a part of me.

 

Thinking back, there were so many times when she went the extra distance to help me realize that my life was very much still worth living. Although my pity prone self pushed back many times, there were those times that it didn’t, and the result was a taste of a world gone by, with a pinch of a world waiting to be.

 

That summer of 2011, we bought several five gallon buckets and set off to grow some potted roma tomato plants out behind the garage. I remember every part of the experience, and that first bite of one of the tomatoes was pure heaven. The plants didn’t yield as much as our traditional garden tomatoes used to, but the smell of the vines, the taste of the fruit was unforgettable.

 

I tried to do as much with my stupid sight as I could. I joked that I could see just enough to piss me off, and it was true. So many times I would strain to see just a little bit more, and each time I did, I became dizzy as hell, almost to the point of passing out a couple of times. I dunno what was causing it, but I soon learned that I needed to accept what I had and learn to do the most with it.

 

My dreams were a trip back then. I would often dream about being able to see, and realizing in the dream that I was supposed to be blind. The dreams inserted the belief that I could see, and my blindness had somehow miraculously come to an end. Eventually, I would wake up, and again, I was reminded that I still couldn’t see. I loved the feeling that my sight loss had come to an end, and wish I could have convinced the moment of the dream to follow me back to reality. Oh how I wanted that to happen.

 

Or did it?

 

There were several mornings in those first couple years when I awoke to see something very familiar. Yes, that’s right. See. Each time the experience was the same. The images of my past, or so I thought, seemed to catch up to me for a friendly visit.

 

As I woke up, I lifted my arm off the bed and swung it into a new position. I saw it. I saw the skin color, the contours of my arm, the color of the wall, the ceiling, even the shimmering ring on my finger. I moved my arm a few times to make sure it was real, and the vision corresponded perfectly to my movement. My heart stopped in my chest, my breath couldn’t breathe, and as I stared at my arm, it stared back. I thought I must be dreaming, but knew I wasn’t.

 

The visions continued on for roughly thirty seconds, and then, slowly, the picture faded into a dull gray haze. I was shocked by what I had seen, and sad to see it go. The experience, brief as it was, sent an electric current down through me that lasted all day. These sightings happened five or six times within the course of a year or so, and to this day I can still see the skin tone of my arm. It was like an old friend had stopped by for a visit.

 

Unimaginable, unannounced, unbelievable, wonderfully unbelievable, simply unbelievable.

 

As I wrote a little earlier, Lynne kept tugging me towards new experiences that proved to be eye opening adventures. I imagine she was trying to get a piece of me back from the past, almost like planting a tomato plant in the fertilized soil, so that it would grow and become something new, something that stretched to meet the sunshine and learned how to grow towards tomorrow.

 

As the metaphors stampede my thoughts, I realize that I am the luckiest guy in the world to have the partner I have. I also realize that so many times my stupid ego has continuously gotten in the way of a good day. Pitiful, selfish, self centered child who had no clue how to recognize a golden opportunity.

 

I forgot what it was like to live, but I was comparing everything to my sighted life. I was comparing apples and oranges.

 

While I waded through the turmoil of existence, I did manage to keep my feet moving forward. I kept reminding myself of the promise I had made to myself to move forward, no matter what, and to never turn away from an obstacle, a challenge, a formidable wall of fear, for those things that proved to be opportunities often disguised themselves as things that I used to veer away from or ignore completely. My old character traits of complacency and laziness wanted to take me for another stroll, and many times I still gave in, until I remembered the goal of maneuvering through whatever this darkened corridor had in store.

 

To be continued…

 

2017 04 02 Nat Poetry Month, Questions April 2, 2017

Yes, it’s April 2nd, and from what they tell me, spring is still in the air. I agree that it’s probably in the air, but the ground here on the ridge still looks like winter’s icy fingers will be here for another week or three.

As spring is finally waking up, I’m reminded of the different seasons. I’m also reminded that life is reminiscent of those seasons. The birth, the growth, the learning, changing, adapting and everything about it brings it all around to those days when we say good bye to those we love.

This poem reminds me that sometimes, life moves too quickly. Before we know it, those things we love are gently pried from our grasp. It’s something we all go through, and it’s something we all could stand to do without, but then again, such is life.

This poem is dedicated to my father, and all those I have loved, and lost.

Life goes on, and on, and on.
Have a great day, and Happy April 2nd to you all.
dp

Questions

Slow down you guys.
Where are you going so fast?
Why did you need to leave so soon?
Is your work here finished?

I’m not sure if you know this or not,
But even though you’re not here, your inspiration lingered behind,
Your friends will always be just that,
And you will be missed.

Will we ever see you again?
Will I ever see you again?
Even though you’re not here, can you hear me when I talk?
Can you see my searching eyes?

There’s so much about you that I’ll always love.
That I’ll always miss.
That I’ll always admire,
That I’ll never forget.

Can you see the countless faces of the past?
Can you feel the love from those you were born to cherish?
Can you see the face of God?
Can you feel the touch from all the lives before?

Fear not, for you will always be brave.
Worry not, for you will always know.
Be quiet no more, for we will always listen.
Love forever, and you shall always be loved.

One and all, we will miss you all.

 

2016 12 20 Poem: There It Is December 20, 2016

As the season of Christmas settles in, one of the most powerful emotions for me tends to also settle in. This emotion is simply pure, and yet it holds the most powerful ingredient of all. I think you all are aware of what I’m talking about, and I hope and wish that you get a good taste of it each and every year. It’s the ingredients of Christmas and family. I suppose you could say that these are two separate ingredients, but put one on top of the other, or if you prefer, side to side, and what happens is hopefully also pure and simply one of the most amazing things you will ever feel. Love.

I have been blessed with a family that has settled in to keep me company through my life. Although some years it seems as though I might have taken them for granted, I will never ever be able to find anything that comes close to their importance to me, my life, my reason for being.

One of the most important single ingredients of my family passed on last year. The rock of my life, my father, moved ahead to the next phase of his journey. The first thing I felt after he passed was sorrow, of course, but then I felt a little twinge of envy. I felt envious of the journey that he had embarked on. My intrigue helped to pick my spirits back up again, and to this day I still wonder what visions awaited him.

I believe in God and the heavens. I believe in the importance that our parents play in our lives. I believe that my father was the strongest person I have ever met. I believe that this Christmas I feel him as strongly as I ever have. I am fortunate to have had his influence in my life, and for that, I am blessed.

The following poem is dedicated to my father, Kenneth Wayne Lyons. I believe that one day we will meet again, and one day I will again be able to look into those eyes of blue.

I would also like to wish you all the best this holiday season. May your spirited souls be illuminated with the lights of a thousand Christmas trees, and may you all find happiness, joy and love throughout 2017.

Dp

***

There It Is

Flipping the pages, the years roll back
Remember the sounds, the smells, the visions of the past
Hardly a day seems to have gone by
Hardly a memory seems out of place

Laughter from years passed fills the room
A smile, a hug, a wink of an eye
Friendly faces rush in to welcome me home
Chairs fill fast as the season settles in

I quickly glance around the room
I search out that comforting smile
I wish to gaze into those eyes of blue
There it is, that smile, oh that unforgettable smile

Memorable Christmas moments sing out through the night
Imaginations of a child can’t help but come true
A house, a family, a dream fulfilled
A lifetime of magic, hand delivered by you

Oh how lucky can a little boy be
Not a day goes by that the little boy doesn’t remember
Not a season goes by when the grown boy doesn’t think of you
Oh how fortunate to be that little boy

I miss you Dad
Merry Christmas

In loving memory
Kenneth Wayne Lyons
November 7, 1934 – October 3, 2015

 

2016 12 18 1987 December 18, 2016

There’s one Christmas that I’ll never forget. It didn’t happen when I was a boy, but rather when I was a man, a father of around27 or so.

At the time, through the course of the year, I tried to figure out what held the interest of my son’s imagination, and as usual for those several years that made up his childhood, it was very apparent that he absolutely loved Legos. I guess it was safe to say that this wasn’t a surprise, because I too was very fond of the little building blocks when I was a young boy.

Good toys know how to withstand the test of time, and this was one gift that couldn’t go wrong.

One afternoon while my wife and I were out shopping, I took a hard right and started wandering through the toy section of the store. I soon found myself smack dab in the middle of Lego heaven. One side of the aisle was completely packed with every kind of Lego package you could imagine. Knights and castles and dinosaurs and airplanes and cars and trucks and oh my, what’s this?

I reached out and pulled a rather large box from the shelf. The picture on the box clutched at my attention and didn’t let go.

“What’s that?” my wife spoke as she moved up along side me.

“What’s this?” I smiled as I spoke back. “Why it’s the coolest thing I’ve ever seen.”

I flipped the box around in my arms, trying to take in all of the item that was available. It was a Lego bulldozer, and it contained about a million and a half pieces.

“You getting it for him?” My wife matched my stares towards the box.

I could only think of a one word response to her question. “Yes.”

Needless to say, the box followed us home that evening.

For the next couple weeks leading up to Christmas, I kept pulling the box out of the closet to have another look. The more I looked, the more the present felt like it should be mine, and not my 5 year old son’s. The tug of war had begun, but deep down I knew that as long as it was his gift, I could play with it as much as he did, I mean after all, we lived in the same house, right? The inner workings of an adult mind turned kid.

Well the days wound away, and Christmas inched closer and closer. Come Christmas Eve day, I worked my usual long day, but was transfixed with a spell directly from the North Pole. By the time I returned home that night, the master plan had been firmly planned and all I had to do was set the wheels of the season in motion.

Seven o’clock came, and our son dashed his footy pajamas up over the stairs. Bun, the stuffed rabbit with the long ears, helped my son and I say our prayers, as he usually did.

Fourteen giggles, seven smiles and a couple yawns later, my son closed his eyes to join in on a winter’s night full of dancing dreams. Twelve minutes after that I was standing at the bottom of the stairs waiting and searching for signs that he was fast asleep.

Through the kitchen I ran in a flash, and bound into the living room with a thud and a crash. I scrambled into our bedroom, swung open the closet door, grabbed the Lego box and headed back into the living room.

“You’re not going to wrap that for him?” My wife came into the living room and watched me as I set up a TV tray beside my chair.

“No. I’m gonna put it together for him and set it under the tree.” I cleared a table beside my chair and set the box down onto it. Turning to her, I cocked my head sideways, “What?”

She smiled at me and turned towards the bedroom. “You sure you’re gonna be able to put that all together tonight?”

“Of course I can.” I smugly smiled as I sat down and pulled the TV tray up close to the chair.

The task had begun.

I started in on the bulldozer at seven thirty that Christmas Eve. Let me say that when I mentioned earlier that it had roughly a million and a half pieces, I wasn’t kidding, or so it seemed. Through the evening hours I went from the instructions manual, to the pieces in the box, to the pieces on the tray, to the pieces dancing around in my head, back to the manual. This went on throughout the evening, past midnight, until at roughly 3am the bulldozer was complete. The task was done, and so was I. My brain was fried, my nerves were shot, my hands were shaking and I felt too tired to sleep.

My wife had been fast asleep for a few hours, so I tried to be quiet as a Lego mouse as I crept into the bedroom and slipped under the covers.

I couldn’t get the pieces of blocks out of my head. Single blocks, double blocks, square ones, rectangle ones, pieces with angled tops, pieces with round tops, pieces with no tops, they all came at me, tumbling and spinning through my dreams. The dreams were restless, but they resembled sleep none the less.

“Dad?” Nudge, nudge.

“Daddy?” Shake, nudge.

I rolled over and tried prying my eyes open. “What? Who?” I tried to wake up, but everything was fuzzy and blurry, including my mind.

I could barely make out a smiling face staring at me, point blank.

“Can I get up to see what Santa brought?” He grabbed my shoulder and carefully shook it.

“What time is it?”

There was a pause. “It’s Christmas morning silly. It’s time to get up.”

I rubbed my eyes and looked over at the alarm clock beside me. It was 4:45am.

His mother rolled over to face him. “What time is it?”

Our son stepped back towards the door and shouted. “It’s Christmas Morning Mom! Are you guys gonna get up, or what?”

Fifteen days later I managed to pull myself up from my sleeping slumber, and the three of us made our way into the living room. With a flick of the light switch, the tree lit up and the room burst to life.

“Oh wow!” was all we heard for the next minute or so, as our son made his way around the tree and through the unwrapped gifts that Santa had set around the tree.

My wife and I sat down on the couch as he grabbed one gift, then another, hollering out with each one.

Moving around the tree, he came upon the bulldozer that I had tucked in against a couple wrapped gifts. “Oh man! Cool! Is this for me?”

He tried to pick it up, but it was too bulky for him, so I got up and quickly helped him set it out in the middle of the floor.

“That looks like a bulldozer!” My eyes grew wide as his as I watched him crawl up to the impressive piece of workmanship. “Be careful with it. I’m pretty sure that took Santa’s elves quite a while to build.”

He slowly started rolling it across the floor on its working rubber bulldozer tracks. I smiled and looked over at his mother, who was also smiling.

One of the coolest things about these ingenious building blocks is that as much fun as it is to build stuff, it’s just as much fun to tear them apart. Well, for a kid anyway.

Over the course of Christmas morning, every time I went into the living room, the bulldozer grew smaller and smaller, until it really didn’t resemble a bulldozer , but rather a large pile of mostly yellow blocks.

That was the beginning, and the end of the impressive earth moving device. The pile of yellow blocks did turn into many different things, but never what Santa had left under the tree on that unforgettable Christmas morning of 1987.

Being able to see the expressions of joy on his little face that December 25th morning was one of the best Christmas presents I have ever received. Sometimes the simplest gifts are the ones that find a way to stay with us the longest.