Kneading seeds into the Soil

So when I was younger, and I was fighting cancer, they tied me up to these weird machines. I’d have one tube… might as well call it, it was two tubes going you don’t want to know where and they were controlling what was supposed to come out of me. Kind of looked like thisHowever, I had this one tube that was always down my throat and it was sucking all the extra stuff from my lungs that weren’t supposed to be there. This was a lot.

I remember it scaring me so much when I was a kid; I had my hard-nosed father there every other day. Thought it was kind of funny to see my daddy with little tears dangling off the tip of his nose. My mother was always there, dangling between as stoic as the rockies and as caterwauling as the avalanches that roll off of them. But through all of these moments, I genuinely thought I was going to die, and my parents thought the same too.

I bring this up because my daughter’s husband, Miguel, thought it might be a good idea if I told my story to the guys at They handle medical malpractice cases well and have a great track record. I’m on the phone with him, and he was talking to me, and I couldn’t help it, but he rustled my jimmy’s.

I had to pull over! I sat, and I explained to him that a man is worth what he is owed and that those people saved my lives back then. I probably wouldn’t even be there on the side of the road cursing his name if it wasn’t for those people. Only to have him later rebuttal with saying that he thought my testimonial might help them determine good cases and bad ones. I told him I’d sew him for medical malpractice for misdiagnosing my anger for foot-in-mouth disease!

Anyway, I’ve decided to stay in New Orleans for the night. I’ve always been fond of checking out Bourbon Street, My favorite, the Whiskey sourand I never thought that Baton Rouge could stand up to it’s southern sister. I might sign up for one of those ghost tours before I go back down on the rest of my trip. Something almost seems like it’s summoning me there.

Haven’t heard from Marc in some time, I think I might call him after this whole trip is over. Ashley made some talks about how she might fly down to see me for a day or too. It’d be nice if she could fit me into her busy schedule, I didn’t realize I was raising a bunch of busy bodies. At least Marc hits people with sticks, but he does also slide pucks into nets.

Oh, by the way, I had one of them little lucky dogs. If you don’t know what they are, there’s this stand where you give them like five dollars, and they set you up with a foot long hot dog that has chili and onions and cheese and more meat. It’s crazy delicious; you really ought to look it up next time you’re in town.

Daddy’s Tire Tracks

Well, shoot. I figured I’d recreate the olfudgepack express route that my daddy used to do when he was a kid.

6539581 - group of trucks at country road at sunny day

My daddy, Jim, used to drive a truck down the interstate for several days at a time, he would start at home, down to Dallas, then over to Baton Rouge, then down to Miami in just a few days. Dirty rumors from our rotten neighbors left thoughts that I might have siblings in the cities, and I would be lying if I said that every time I pass through I wonder if someone looks at me with the same potential as I do them.

Anyway, here I am driving down to Dallas, and I stop in to get some pancakes at the local iHop, not out of special interest, there just didn’t happen to be Denny’s nearby, it was in the early afternoon after all. I come out of there after having possibly the best mozzarella sticks I’ve ever had in my life, only to find out that I left my keys in the car! So I panic, and I call Ashley, and she tells me that her husband over heard and told me to just call the local locksmith.

So I hang up on my daughter, as my son-in-law instructed and called up the boys down at and they shot right over real quick and rescued the keys from my car. Not too expensive either, you hear tall tales about a $200, service but these guys happened to enjoy iHop, so I lucked out.

Then I started floating right back down that lonely road. Turning on the radio stations in this day and age just ends up making my head hurt. So I found an old set of CD’s of Hank Williams Jr., and I’ve been listening to that the whole ride through.

Some people say they know what the American dream is. I don’t know if there is an American dream for everyone, but I know that I’m living mine. I beat cancer at such a young age that everything else just seemed easy from here on in. Now I get to take a road trip down the same streets my daddy took, going down to see my son for his birthday and his new job. All the while I don’t have a care in the world. I’ve got money in the bank; I’ve got Hank in my ears and my kids on my mind.

The wind has a special sort of feel today, the kind of musky dryness that only the desert can offer. As much fun as I am having, I still can’t stop thinking about certain things you know? The certain thoughts that just come creeping now and then, like that fish I brought up, or James. I wonder if these are signs from above or me having a couple of screws in this old noggin loose.Rattler But all I know is that I ran over a snake a few miles back, and something about the way it rolled under my car has been making me feel queasy for the last few miles.

Skippin’ through life.

Back when I was a younger lad, right around the time I was twelve, and old roger was well beyond that in doggy years, I would skip stones on the lake behind my house. I had another friend named James who would always skip rocks with me except he found it funnier to skin my knees with them. I wasn’t too fond of James, but I complied when my wife had decided to name our eldest James.

The two of us skip these stones across these waters, chewing Blackjack gum as we go. This is what blackjack gum tastes like.The waves would make this hollow sound, the sound you would get if it was raining on one of the old barrels from There was a manufactory near by and we would love to roll ourselves down the hills in them. We’d stand up and get dizzy and lose our lunches on the leaves as the wind took them away like whispers.

Anyway, there was this one time where we would be skipping stones except mine snagged something. It didn’t make the hollow droplet that it usually does. It made a spongy thwack sort of sound.  If Batman had an issue where he spent the entire time fishing, this sound would inevitably make its way onto the splash page.

Well, me and James (not my son) would just stand there for a moment. The calmness of the ripples stilling themselves against the slowly coming tide. A curious bubble seemed to form, multiply briefly and stop. Then a fish, belly up showed itself. In the place of its eye happened to be the very stone I did skip.


I guess the moral of the story is that sometimes, life throws stones at you. Some people will catch it in their eye and go belly up like the fish. Some people may be able to fight through the pain and survive like you see a lot of people do. But other times, sometimes the stones will be used to skin your knee and it’s all your left with knowing for the rest of my life.

He may not have had lymphoblastic lymphoma, but ol’ James was a Marlboro man from birth. He was never long for this world, but in his time here he certainly left his impacts, my knees and some poor girls womb. But sometimes I’ll stand by my window and look out to that lake, wonder if the waters still splash the same way. I just can’t bring myself to go down there, the sounds of Roger and the cackles of James would float around me like butterflies.

My son called me last week, told me that he might pick up a new job soon and that I should drive down to see him. Hope the chevy can make the trip. I’ll think about it, his birthday is next month and I’d like to make it all one trip but I know now I’ll probably end up making two trips. My boy James will end up outliving my friend James, not that it’s surprising. But it is a bit sad, but that’s the way life goes I guess. We just got to keep our noses clean and our heads down and let life just roll over us or it will take us into its hot mess and leave just our shoes behind.

My Love for Roger Rabbit

When I was fifteen, I lost my best friend. His name was Roger. He was a golden retriever that my family had given me for my fifth Christmas. It was Christmas morning in 1978, I remember getting up earlier than usual that day. The smell of Mom’s chocolate chip waffles pulled me out of bed. I jumped out of bed and ran down the stairs. I saw my Dad sitting right by this big, red package under the tree and he asked me to come sit next to him. Mom came through the kitchen and sat down right next to Dad and they told me to unwrap the present carefully. As I was pulling the wrapping apart, I felt the box move and heard scratching and yelping noises coming from within. I quickly pulled the ribbon off and opened the box. There was a little golden retriever in it, who stood up and licked my nose the first chance he got. He tumbled over, bringing the box on its side with him, and he climbed on top of me and licked me. My parents asked me what I wanted to name him and I said Roger because Roger Rabbit was my favorite cartoon character at the time.

What I didn’t tell you was that I would be diagnosed with cancer by my sixth birthday in September. I was diagnosed with lymphoblastic lymphoma. My parents were devastated. I didn’t really understand what was going on. My parents only told me to be strong because I was about to endure the toughest battle of my life. I spent a lot of my days in bed after starting my chemotherapy. I spent a lot of my time in the hospital as well. My parents told me that Roger was waiting by the door every night. He wouldn’t budge because he was looking for me. I got to use my wish to have Roger come to the hospital and stay with me during the day. He made all the kids happier. He was so friendly and he wouldn’t leave my side. He slept in the bed with me and refused to move. If there is such a thing as a soulmate, then I’ve met him. Roger understood me and when I was in pain, I could see it in his eyes how much he wanted to make everything better. He would lick my face, put his paw on my lap and then try to lift my arm onto his head. I don’t think I would’ve been able to make it without him.

After several months of chemo, I was given the all-clear to go home. I still went back to the hospital to visit my friends and I would take Roger with me. Roger eventually became a service dog and we would both visit people at the hospital to help cheer them up. We did this for a few years before I got busy with school and Roger enjoyed becoming a lazy house dog. His playfulness never faded. He wanted to make you smile even with his last breath. And he did. He was my rock. He taught me everything I needed to know about compassion and empathy, and for that I will be forever grateful. He was also the reason I started my service dog training company. I also created the Roger Tilden Cancer Foundation that helps pair children with service dogs to help them during their times in hospitals. Roger helped me and my family through the hardest part of our lives, and I want nothing more than to be able to help families the way Roger helped us.