The Madman On The Mountain

There was a man who was looking for something and he searched the mountaintops. He called out, “Helloooo…” and he would hear the echo call back “Hellooooo…” He ran to the other mountain, thinking that it was what he was looking for only to find nothing. He called out again, “Helloooo…” and heard the echo and ran to the other mountain. Back and forth endlessly, never finding, always looking.

I was fishing with a friend on a boat on a beautiful day. There was a bald eagle sitting up on a tall tree nearby, and herons everywhere. I pointed them out to my friend but he paid no attention. He was telling me about a trip that he had been on. He said that the place was so beautiful that he wished that he were still there. He said that the eagles would swoop down and grab fish out of the water. Just as he said this, the eagle that had been in the tall tree swooped down and grabbed a fish. I stopped my friend in mid-sentence to tell him to look, but he didn’t. He was still talking about being somewhere else.

The answer is not always on the next mountain. Look around you. Look at yourself. Stop chasing echoes. You will see much beauty and happiness right where you are.

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The Family Jewel

My brother Henry was the family jewel and we all knew it. He was great at everything and everyone liked him. Even my parents stood in awe. I was nine years younger than Henry. He took me sledding in the winter and would pull me home when I got tired. He took me for my first root-beer float and would bring me swimming when he went with the older boys. He once brought me on a watermelon stealing expedition during which we almost got caught. He wrestled in high school and took second place in the state championships. His team liked him so much; they had a little trophy made that said “To Our State Champ”.

He got drafted during the Vietnam War and served in the honor guard here in the states. After his term of service was up, he went to college in another state and came home one summer with a fiancé. I was twelve. My father had previously purchased our first farm tractor, and on the fourth of July, Henry started and drove a tractor for the first time. He invited me to hop up on it with him and I sat on the fender. This was big. Even my father had never really driven the tractor. We drove around the fields for a while and he crossed the road and tried to climb the bank on the other side. On the first try the tractor balked. On the second try the front end of the tractor got so high that it flipped over backwards. I jumped clear and the tractor landed on him. The steering wheel had gone through his chest and he turned blue. I tried to push the tractor off, but it wouldn’t move. I ran up to the farmhouse and told everyone what had happened. It was my mother, my sister, and Henry’s fiancé. They ran down and pushed the tractor off of him, but it was too late.

Henry got a full military burial and his fiancé’s parents came and took her home. It was never the same for the family after that. There are some people that are that important. I’m an old man now, and still miss him.

Curt Struna

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Four-Leaf Clovers

I was at a picnic and saw a woman who seemed to be looking for something in the grass. Every few minutes she would pick out a four-leaf clover. I asked her, “How are you finding so many?” She said, “I just know that they’re there.” Some of the people that had been standing nearby sat down and began to search. Most of them didn’t find any, but some were finding them steadily. I asked them how they did it and they all said, “I just know that they’re there.”

This story applies to four-leaf clovers and life. If you’re looking for something, just know that it’s there and keep looking.

Curt Struna

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It Will Be Alright

There are times when we need to be told that everything is going to be alright. Life is hard and there are times when you will feel like giving up. Don’t. It will be alright. It may not be the same, it may not be what you expected, it may hurt, but you will be alright.

I’ve seen trouble in my life. There were times when I thought I couldn’t go on. But I know that I’m not alone. Every single person in the world is carrying a heavy load.

It would be nice if someone just held you close and said, “It will be alright” and fixed all your problems, but that’s not going to happen. Most friends and family will usually give you their opinion and tell you what you should do. That’s not what you need to hear. This is. You’ve been through troubles before. You’ve made it this far. Don’t forget that. Hold yourself close.

From me to you, I promise that it will be alright.

Curt Struna

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Adventures in Midwifery

Whenever I tell anyone that I delivered each of my three children, I get an odd look. When my wife, Barbara, became pregnant with our first child, she was determined to have the child delivered in a birthing-room, which was a novelty at the time. For those unfamiliar with this term, a birthing-room is different than the usual room where one gives birth at a hospital. Instead of the cold, clinical room where this event usually takes place, a birthing-room, which is also in a hospital, has a regular bed, an easy chair or couch, a television, and perhaps a refrigerator. The idea is to make the person giving birth as comfortable as possible. Unfortunately for us, the nearest hospital that had a birthing room was in the next state, two and one-half hours away. During the drive to the first visit with the obstetrician, I was informed that this doctor was famous for allowing expectant fathers to be present during the birth. I figured that being present during the birth was the least I could do. During the meeting that we had with the doctor, he asked if I wanted to deliver the child, with him present. This was a new concept that he was trying to foster. His rationale was that the mother carried the baby, gave birth to it, fed it, and the inevitable result was that mother and child would naturally bond. By having the father deliver the child, the father is expected to feel that he has been part of the process, and consequently, bond with the infant and child better than if he had not. The doctor asked me if I was interested. I said I would do it because the due date was so distant that I thought that they would forget that I had said I would. They didn’t. I told my mother what I was going to do and she told me that when she was giving birth, my father hid in the woods. When I told my father, he said I was crazy.

Because of the distance from the hospital to our home, I was given books on emergency child birth. I studied them. We took Lamaze classes. Lamaze is intended to involve the father in the pregnancy and make the birthing process easier for the mother. I’ll tell you now that it didn’t work for Barbara. Pain-killers would have worked, but she had planned on a drug-free birth.

One day after work Barbara told me that she was having contractions and that it was time to drive to the hospital. Actually, she had been having contractions all day and had waited for me to get home. We made the drive to the hospital, settled into the room, and as she was having the very painful contractions, I tried my Lamaze skills out. Either Lamaze doesn’t work or I was doing something wrong. I blame it on the former. I did my best to comfort her, but it didn’t help. I confess that I spent the rest of the night watching old World War I movies on the television in the room. She had contractions all night. There was much screaming and every now and then a nurse would come in, or my wife would send me to get the nurse, who would come in, take a look and say that it wasn’t time yet. If there had been woods nearby, I would have made a run for it. In the hours just before dawn, it was finally time. The doctor showed up and told me to put on a gown, scrub my hands and follow his instructions, which I did.

After the head emerged, he said that the umbilical cord was wrapped around the infant’s neck, and he guided me through unwrapping it, and we finally had the successful birth of a boy. I have failed to mention that my wife is as tough as nails. After a couple of hours she announced that it was time to go home and we did. On the way, we stopped beside a stream; she sat on a rock and held the new baby while I took a picture. The baby’s name was Mark.

For the second child we went to the same hospital and used the same doctor. When it was time, my brave wife told me that it was time to go and we drove to the hospital. We were told that the old birthing room was taken and we were steered to a newer birthing room. When it was time to give birth, the doctor and two nurses showed up. One of the nurses pushed a few buttons and panels slid back in the ceiling and flood-lights emerged. Hidden panels slid back in the walls and trays came out. What had been a bedroom turned into an operating room. For everyone but Barbara, it was a fairly easy birth. I had brought a tape player and played the song “Isn’t She Lovely” by Stevie Wonder right after the birth and the nurses started crying. It’s the song that he wrote after the birth of his daughter. After a little while they wanted to take the infant out of the room to take foot-prints and blood samples. Barbara insisted that I not let the baby out of my sight, so I followed a nurse around the hospital and made sure that the same baby that had left the room was the same baby that came back. After a two hour nap, Barbara insisted on going home, so we did. We stopped at the same stream as previously, Barbara sat on the same rock and held the baby while I took their picture. This baby’s name was Elizabeth.

For our third child, Barbara decided to use a midwife and have the baby at home. The closest one lived over an hour away. During a snowstorm in the middle of winter, in the middle of the night, Barbara announced that it was time. She called the midwife who arrived two hours later with a nurse in tow. In the meantime, I was told to take the other two children to their grandmother’s house. My wife had told the midwife that I would be performing the delivery. This did not sit well with the midwife. She tried to get me out of the way by making me ill. She said that if you fried the afterbirth with onions, it tasted great. I turned green and got nauseous, but I didn’t leave the room. I delivered that baby too. His name was Erich.

Here’s what I learned. My wife is a very, very tough person. If men had to suffer through pregnancy and give birth, no children would be born. Finally, if you have a chance to be present during the birth of a child, do it.

Curt Struna

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