This Is “The Place”

This is “The Place.” Yes it is. Well if not “The Place” then one of the places.

I know you are probably thinking just what the hell is Kevin talking about. I am talking about Table Rock Lake. You know the Great Bambino of all Missouri lakes.

Took a photo of the sunrise over the lake because I like sunrises more than sunsets.

I am not going to debate which of the Missouri lakes is best. Each has its own pluses and minuses. Some would vote Lake of the Ozarks. I can see that. Table Rock does not have a party cove quite like the Party Cove at Lake of the Ozarks. Well except maybe our cove at Table Rock,   but we keep our clothes on. Well at least most of the time. Right, Erin and Megan?

I have chosen Table Rock as the best because of our yearly family vacation there. We have spent a week of vacation there every summer for the past 23 or 24 years…I think? Hell I do not know how long we have been doing this, but it has been a long, long time.

The Brown Family along with the Anderson Family and the Moehring Family have gotten together each year at the lake. There were 23 of us there this year. We keep growing.

Now I will not say that over the years we have not had issues during our time together. I have said in the past that family can be like fish. You know after a few days they start to stink.

Even taking that into consideration I can honestly say that it is a vacation that I look forward to each year. If or when the tradition stops then I will miss this family time together. We have had so much fun and have so many stories.

I have a story about Uncle Barry’s boat sinking in the slip at the dock. I think it was sabotage.

There is the story of Erin and Megan going skinny dipping and a swim suit being washed out into the lake. That was an interesting situation.

There have been a few ER visits over the years. Many fish caught and many stories told about the one that got away.

Many beers drunk, many card games played, many heartfelt conversations had over the years, and many pieces of advice given to nephews and nieces.

Camden! When Uncle Barry said park the boat I do not think he meant there.

My nephew Hayden will be a junior in college this fall. We were talking about his future career plans and he told Erin and I that he planned on being a stay at home dad. Erin explained that he probably should not share that when dating. I kinda like his career choice. Good work if you can get it.

Later we were floating in the lake doing our blue bobber thing.   I was drinking my Bud Light and all of a sudden we were talking about my party. My end of life party, or also called my Celebration of Life. NOT A FUNERAL.

Before I go into the details let me explain how we got on this conversation in the first place. The answer to that is that I really do not know. It just happened.

I am sure I brought it up in some way. How I was able to sneak it into the conversation I do not remember. I probably had too many beers. It was a brief conversation, but it is a start.

Christy and I have had this conversation. She is not in complete agreement with my wishes. Okay, okay, that is an understatement. She told me that if she is planning it then I will be having a church funeral. Noooo not a church!! She said that a funeral is for the living and not the dead. I am not going to like it, but if that is what happens I guess I will be there. Damn.

But if I can put a plan in place maybe I can get what I want. It has worked before so maybe one more time. Christy hinted that if I put everything together I might get what I want. With that in mind I brought the topic up at the lake. Maybe I was looking for Team Kev support.

It is a topic that people do not want to talk about. I understand that. But it is a conversation that I need to have.

When should I have this conversation with family? If you wait too long you never really get to have it, and things just happen. I do not want things to just happen. I want my desires known so people can get comfortable with the idea of playing “Dead Man Trivia” at my party.

No matter how much people wish to avoid having this conversation it has to happen. This is the part of my disease process that no one wants to talk about. No one wishes to talk about death. I need to face it. I need to talk about it.

I am going to share something I have not shared before. July is my cancer anniversary month so to speak. For four years we have lived under this cloud. That worries me a little. You see 70 percent of men who have similar disease characteristics as mine die within five years of diagnoses. I am a little concerned.

I remember a conversation I had with one of my doctors and he told me basically to enjoy the days when I felt good, because those days would not last. I hope he is wrong.

I keep telling myself that I am going to be one of the 30 percenters. I keep telling myself that the poisons have become more effective over the years and that these new treatments are giving men like me more time. I do believe that. I have to believe that. But what if it doesn’t? This shit does not work for everyone.

Well if the shit does not work then I better have my bags packed so to speak. I need to be prepared for the worst while hoping for the best. That means I better have this Celebration of Life party figured out. On to the details, but remember that it is a work in progress.

So I envision a meal being served. Like a last supper with Kev sort of thing. So you better get there early before we run out of food. Who knows maybe by then I will be able to turn water into wine etc.

Most likely I will not have that wine thing down yet so I anticipate it being a BYOB party. I am not paying for your alcohol. I have seen many of you drink. Wait a minute, yes go ahead and put it on my tab. Let’s see how they plan on collecting that.

Now who is going to be the host of the festivities? Well it has to be me don’t you think. Yes I will be very dead, but through the power of modern technology I can still host. I will video myself and it can be played at the party.

Did you really think I was going to miss my own party? You know better than that. I might need a little help so I will name a co-host at a later time.

Now one of the things I will be doing there is hosting a game I call “Dead Man Trivia!”

Yes I will be asking the audience questions about myself. Such as: Can you name the greatest Rock & Roll band according to Kevin? One of my kid’s better win Dead Man Trivia or I will be pissed. If that is possible.

Other things will be happening, but more about that later. This essay is getting rather long and I have other thoughts I want to discuss.

Where to be buried? That is a good question. I own a cemetery plot here in Wichita. I bought it years ago. I read a book that said that I could get rich buying land so I bought a cemetery plot. You know one day we will run out of those. I will have cornered the market. HaHaHa.

The problem I have is that if I am buried there then I cannot sell it. I obviously did not think this through.

I guess I was feeling a little cemetery plot market irrational exuberance. Thank you Alan Greenspan.

I also have a few other problems with my investment. The biggest one I guess is the fact that I do not want to be buried there. Hell I do not even want to be buried. I plan on being cremated. What to do with my ashes? That is another good question.

Do I want my remains in Kansas? I thought since my kids were born here and we raised our family here and actually I have now lived in Kansas longer than Missouri then Kansas would be where I would stay. I have decided that even though Kansas has become my adopted home so to speak it is still not home. That is Missouri. I am even torn about going back to Missouri. I have been gone for so long.

Since I am planning on being cremated I think that the solution to the problem is to have a little of me here and a little of me there, a little of me everywhere.

Now I am use to telling the ladies to stop fighting. I tell them that there is enough of me to go around. I am not sure after cremation that there will be enough of me to go around. So I will most likely keep the sprinkle spots to a minimum, or even change them as I think of a better place. I have a few places in mind that I do not think will change.

Busch Stadium! Yes Busch Stadium. Justin has been instructed to plant a small amount of me in the flower beds in front of the outfield bleachers. It will be like having season tickets, but cheaper. I think I will like it there.

I am going to tell Justin not to put too much of me there. Who knows in 30 years they might tear the stadium down. Where would I end up then? So Justin, sprinkle Kev lightly in Busch Stadium.

Wrigley Field! Yes, Wrigley Field. I hate the little bears. They think that the Curse of the Billie Goat was bad or the guy who caught the foul ball. I like Steve Bartman. What happened to him should not have happened.

The cubs will not ever win another series in Wrigley when playing the Cards. With a little of me in the ivy I plan on haunting those sons of a bitches for the rest of eternity. The Curse of Kevin MF Brown! I like that idea. Not too much Justin. A little of cub hating Kevin is all that is needed.

Those are two solid places on my list. I figured some of me will be kept with Christy and we will be planted together in the far, far, distant future. Maybe even in Kansas. Damn!!

I really do not want to be in a cemetery, but I do want to have a place where the kids can feel like this is where I am. I do not want them to come to a cemetery to visit. I want them to come to Table Rock Lake.

Yes, I think Table Rock Lake would be a nice place for me to spend more time. I am thinking that a little of me could be in a nice urn or even an empty Bud Light bottle. A glass bottle, it has to be a glass bottle. You know a long neck ice cold Bud Light never broke my heart. HaHaHa.

Anyway looking out into the lake east of the cabins off the dock near the no wake buoy might be a good place to drop me down. If you are using a beer bottle make sure the cap is on tight, and use some weights. Or even put a little Bud Light in the bottle with me. I might get thirsty. Double check the cap. I do not want to become fish food.

Erin I know you are asking yourself how I know that area is east of the cabin. That is where the sun rises little girl. Erin has always been directionally challenged.

Every year when my family vacations at Table Rock I will be there. You will not need to go to a sad place to visit. I will be at one of our Happy Places. A place where we have great memories that brings smiles to our faces. That is where I want to be. You can take a boat or a bobber out to where I will be and drop down a Bud Light. I would like that.

Our future is bright. My children, grandchildren, nieces, nephews and their significant others.

I have spent over two thousand words making light of what is a tough subject. What I have written are my wishes. Having these ideas will help with the plan.

Indian Hills Resort at Table Rock Lake will never become “The Place.” It will just be one of the places.

The main place I want to be is in your heart. No matter where my children go I will be with them. It will not matter where I am buried or where I am sprinkled. In their hearts is “The Place” I wish to be.

I am confident that future treatments will work and my plan will not be put into place for a few years. But at least you know my wishes if things do not work out.

Hey, anyone interested in buying some land? I have some property.

Kevin

Hard Questions……Tough Answers

“Dad, have they told you how much time you have?”

That is the question Amy asked me recently while she, Allie, and myself had a meal at a local restaurant. Before I attempt to answer that question let me rewind for just a moment and explain what has happened the last few weeks and how we had arrived at that moment, and that question.

A few months ago Amy asked me if I would be willing to do her taxes one more year. I told her that I could help her out, but that she needed to come home and bring with her all the information I would need. I also told her that she was going to sit with me and learn how to do this herself. Her taxes are so easy.

When she arrived in town we went out to eat. I never thought that I would ever have a conversation with Amy where the topics were death and taxes. More specifically my death and her taxes, but it happened. Death and taxes cannot be avoided. So they say. I am just going to try to kick it down the road a little farther. My taxes! I will send a check on April 15th.

So we first talked about her taxes. Amy changed jobs this year and so she worked most of the year in Kansas, but a small part of the year she worked in Missouri. I pointed out that she needed, or I should say we needed, or better yet let’s get down to what was really going to happen and that I needed to file state returns for her in both Kansas and Missouri. Amy looked at me and said: “Really?”  Yes little girl, really.

After taxes she had some additional finance questions. We talked about her 401k that we had set-up, and we talked about the benefits of a Roth 401k. You know it was just a regular night talking adult shit at Applebee’s. I kept my Mountain Dew intake down so not to get hopped up and go all Spider monkey on our waiter, Chip. Have you ever been kicked out of an Applebee’s? I will save that story.

Eventually the topic turned to my health. Sooner or later it always does when I am with one of the kids. You see Amy knew that I had recently had my usual tests completed and that I had seen my new doctor to review the results. After that visit the kids were told that things were going well. Amy took this opportunity to ask for more details. Damn.

What these recent results show along with the results from the past few months is that Brutus grows for awhile and then he shrinks. Shrinking is good. So for now I can continue to stay off treatments.

I shared with Amy over Mountain Dew, chicken nuggets, and fries what happened when I saw my new doctor.

Hold on a minute I know that at this point Cammy will have a question. Let me answer. Yes Cammy, I will buy you some chicken nuggets when I see you. Promise! (That boy loves his chicken nuggets.) I will take you to DQ for chicken nuggets, and a chocolate Peanut Buster Parfait!! I am feeling a little hungry right now. How about you? Okay back to the doctor.

I went over the results with the doctor, and I told him that most of the time I was feeling really good. We talked about the tumors shrinking.

I was sitting down and all of a sudden I stood up and I raised both arms into the air and I looked the doctor right in his eyes and I said to him, “I am cured!” This was a test.

You see Dr. U never liked talking about anything negative. I was hoping that U3 would be a doctor that would handle the tough times with candor. I do not want a doctor who wants to avoid the hard questions and not provide the tough answers. I was a little surprised about what happened next.

There was a moment of silence as I watched the expression on U3’s face change. I have not seen that look on a doctor’s face since Dr. U told me that I had been misdiagnosed and that my cancer was much more advanced then I had been told and that he had great concerns for my welfare or health or something like that.

U3 had that bad news look on his face. He might also have been wondering if I was a little delusional, or maybe no one had explained to me what I was up against, and now he was going to have to tell me. Or would he? That was the test. I will paraphrase what he said. Now this is very close to a direct quote, maybe a few words different.

The doctor looked at me and said: You have metastatic cancer. Your numbers could blow up tomorrow. I am glad that you are feeling well. Enjoy this while you can, because it will not last.

WOW and DAMN…DAMN…DAMN!

You think maybe a little too much candor? No, in my situation I think there can never be too much candor. I wanted to see if he would level with me. I wanted to see if he could be trusted. He passed the test. Thanks doc.

Now I do think that in the future I am going to have to talk to him about his word choice. That word “metastatic.” That has got to go. I do not like it. It sounds sooo bad. I am thinking that he should use the word that other doctors have used and that word being, advanced. You know you can be an advanced swimmer, advanced student, or have an advanced IQ. Which I am none of those, but I have an advanced disease. I like that better. We will talk. Moving on.

I asked the doctor if he thought I could remain off treatments for all of 2019. I asked because I already have a lot on my calendar. A couple of fishing trips, Table Rock Lake trip, baseball games, Alaska, a trip to the homeland and who knows what other opportunities will present themselves (like visiting the newest baby Heger in KC).

I guess one of them will not be a Missouri football bowl game. Damn NCAA. Maybe my anger should be directed somewhere else. Let me think about that a moment….Nope. Damn NCAA.

I really cannot think of a good time to ever go back on treatments, but especially this year. I do not want to sit on my butt at home. I want to get out and live. Looking at my schedule I do not have time to be sick.

I was looking at the doctor waiting on him to answer my questions about treatments. He did not look very comfortable. I could tell that he did not have the answer that I really wanted to hear. I guess I should not have asked such a hard question. He was having a tough time with his answer.

He looked at me and then said, “Maybe.”

We exchanged smiles. I knew what he meant. I know that he wants me to be able to cling to a little bit of hope. I will.

Before leaving the office an appointment was made for April. Then we will do this all over again. We talked about a new set of scans to be done in April. Damn.

As we go forward moving through time I know that things will change because nothing stays the same in the cancer world. They say that time marches on, but for me and people like me, our fear is that time is running out.

That brings us back to the question that Amy asked, “Dad, have they told you how much time you have?”

I have an answer to that question. The answer itself raises other questions.

I have talked to Justin and Erin in the past about Amy’s question. Justin and I have probably talked about it more in depth than I have with the girls. Amy has never really brought it up. I would imagine they have talked to each other.

They could ask Winston. Winston and I talk so he knows everything. Winston is such a good listener and is never judgmental. You can learn a lot from a dog.

Amy’s question is one of those questions where you think you might want to know the answer, but you really do not. If you do not know then you do not have to face it. The answer cannot hurt you.

I asked Amy a couple of questions to make sure she really wanted to get into this discussion. She did not. She decided that what she wanted was to think that I was going to be around for fifty more years. We left it at that. You see Amy is a lot like me. Let me explain.

I have a book sitting on my bookshelf directly behind me as I am typing. The book is titled, “Tuesdays with Morrie.” I read this book several years ago. Or rather I read most of the book several years ago. Many of you are probably familiar with the book and know that Morrie dies. I enjoyed Morrie so much as I read the book that I did not want him to die. I found myself refusing to read the ending. In my mind Morrie would stay alive. He would still be teaching life lessons. I later finished the book.

I did not want to confront the ending of Morrie’s story, nor does Amy want to confront my last chapter.

In a few months we will be entering the fourth year of my life with Brutus. When you look into what I consider to be my timeline we have gotten really deep into this process.

Erin, Justin, Amy, and Christy are the most important people in my life. They experience their own pain and have their own fears as they try to deal with what has happened and what will happen. I want to help them get through the last chapter.

Take a moment to read these words from Morrie:

“If you hold back on the emotions – if you don’t allow yourself to go through them – you can never get to being detached, you’re too busy being afraid. You’re afraid of the pain, you’re afraid of the grief. You’re afraid of the vulnerability that loving entails. But by throwing yourself into these emotions, by allowing yourself to dive right in, all the way, over your head even, you experience them fully and completely. You know what pain is. You know what love is. You know what grief is. And only then can you say, ‘All right. I have experienced that emotion. I recognize that emotion. Now I need to detach from that emotion for a moment.'”

Amy, when you are ready with your hard questions I have answers. Remember that we will hope for the best, but we must be prepared for the worst. It will be tough, but we will get through this together.

Love,

Dad

I came down with the flu recently, and while I was recovering Amy
and Allie took advantage of me not being myself and ganged up on me to
win several uno games. Good thing they were not sanctioned games.