You can't go off to spend 6-8 weeks at an asthma hospital without a send-off party. And that's exactly what my family threw for me on the evening of Saturday, January 6, 1985.
Nearly every member of my family, including all my friends and the friends of my parents, showed up at our house for my good-bye party. My cousin Scott and his band played music in our living room. My Uncle Torrin mocked Willie Nelson in a version of "On the Road Again" by plugging his nose while singing. I knew there was going to be a good-bye party, but I had no idea it was going to be this BIG!
At the time, I really didn't understand why they were throwing me such a large party. I was only going to be going away for 6-8 weeks. Surely this seemed like a long time to me, but it wasn't going to be forever.
Yet, in retrospect, I know now that my parents, doctors, nurses, and respiratory therapists taking care of me during all these years were worried that asthma was going to kill me. I did not think of asthma that way. To me it was like an annoying cold that wouldn't go away. Like any person with a chronic disease, one you are born with, I just learned to deal with it.
The party really didn't stop when the party ended. Almost as soon as i was admitted to the hospital the letters started to coming, and they came from nearly every person at the good-bye party. I think, over the first six weeks, I received over a hundred letters. Probably half of them were from my grandma Bottrell, my Aunt Dolly, and my aunt's Virgie, Mary and Tossi. Oh, I should also add into this letters from my parents and brothers.
It was great back then because it was nice to receive a letter or package every day. It was also nice now as I'm trying to tell my story, because these letters helps me remember what I was doing back then, and what was happening outside the hospital too. It was nice. I don't know if I ever did enough to thank all who wrote me letters.
Anyway, the day after the party I boarded a United Airlines flight to Denver with mom. I don't know if I can ever truly tell this story. I have tried to sit down and write it down, starting with when I was there. I will make a gallant effort here, albeit 30 years after these events occurred.
Still, I have learned that, as you start thinking of things, the memories do seem to roll back into your mind. Some events, or most of them, were almost blacked out. This includes the horrible moments (and there were a few), but it also included some very good memories.