As many of you know, my mom has been in and out of the hospital the last several months. She had part of her lung removed in 1997. Maybe that would be due to smoking during at least 65 of her 84 years. Earlier this summer, she contracted pneumonia and, along with the chronic COPD, complications caused her travel itinerary to begin in earnest. She has been in the hospital, then a rehab facility, then home, then back to the hospital, rehab and home, again and again.

My sister, Dana, the blessed saint-ess she is, has been there in Houston to monitor her care and deal with the doctors and deal with mom and move things forward. Patti and I have helped out when we can, but we’re not in the vicinity, certainly not there as much as my sister is.

Over the course of the past several months, we have tried to find levity where we can — just to avoid being in the dumps all around. For example, just when we think my mom is on a downward spiral, she has a period where she perks up, starts giving us orders and shows the clarity of thought and action that defies her age. We have joked that mom, like a cat, has nine lives. Except that over the past several months, she has gone well beyond the nine lives that most cats are allotted.

Seems like a long introduction to my point about God having a sense of humor. Don’t forget the comment I made about “having nine lives.”

Earlier this Spring, when Patti and I moved to Chicago, we both started walking … and walking vigorously wherever we went. We both walked the dog every day a couple times and I walked to work just about every day. It was about two miles to work — a brisk walk if I wanted to keep up with the regular Chicagoans who walked much more than I did.

Which brings me to the iPod. After a few treks back and forth to work, the glorious architecture that is Chicago’s becomes just another object to blot out the sun. To make the walking more enjoyable, I had my iPod. Now, mind you, I’ve had this iPod since Patti first gave it to me the Christmas of 2004. That year, between Christmas and New Year’s, I downloaded all our music library that we had on CDs. At last count, we had about 1970 songs on this little music machine. We moved the CDs into storage and I listened to the iPod for years.

Just before we moved to Dallas from the Chicago apartment, I noticed that my iPod was beginning to falter a bit. Sometimes it worked, and sometimes it didn’t. Once or twice, when I turned the little thing on, it gave me a reading that led me to believe there was NO music on the little instrument. The past couple weeks, the iPod has gotten worse. All sorts of whirrs and clinks come from this toy with a mind of its own.

I took it to the Apple store and met with the Genius representatives there. Imagine the looks I got from them. ‘Whoa! I’ve never seen a problem like this before! Herb, you ever seen an iPod act funny like this?” All sorts of disturbing responses coming my way from the experts. None of them good!

They told me Apple couldn’t really help and suggested some software available on the Internet that may be able to help. I made the small investment, downloaded the software and, lo and behold, a couple hours later, all the music I had taken years to acquire and download, was safely stored in my iTunes account on my computer. Whew!

I have a history of giving life to inanimate objects, much to Patti’s chagrin. Like, whenever the lawnmower doesn’t start, I get furious and kick and scream at the mower. That goes for the weedwhacker and just about any other tool designed to help man, including my iPod.

That is, until lately.

I think I look at these things a bit differently now. The facts that both my mom and my iPod, while at times seeming to falter, show weakness, display frail traits, and needing of a little extra TLC, helps me to realize that we’re all pretty much in the same condition at times … and many times not necessarily when we’re older.

I appreciate God’s help in giving my mom new strength. She is feeling very strong these days. We hope and pray it continues. As for the iPod, I have to laugh that since I got the software and transferred all the songs to my computer, that little instrument has bucked up and started operating perfectly as it once did. I don’t think it wants me to put it out to pasture yet. Wow, did I give that little music maker a personality?