Michael's Monthly Column "Throwing My Loop" No. 6
Nothing is impossible…

Nothing is impossible…especially around Christmas time. Old friends that you haven't seen in years drop in for a surprise visit. Or maybe you find the perfect gift under your tree. A senior citizen, in a red suit, even flies around herdin' a bunch of reindeer, for goodness sake. (Now there is a real cowboy.) I love Christmas time 'cause nothing is impossible. A time for family and friends and to appreciate what we have. I just love Christmas time.

A reminder of that special holiday magic came into sharp focus the other day when I pulled into our farm after a long, long road trip. Been gone for 12 days and I was looking so forward to seeing my better two-thirds, Rebecca Jan and our young'uns. I dismounted from the truck and waited for the rush of cats, dogs and family members with all their laughter and hugs and…nothing. Nothing happened. "Hmmm…where is everybody?" I asked myself.

Heard a commotion in the barn and went to investigate. There they were…'Becca and the entire crew consisting of two kids, four cats, two dogs and the horses all gazing back at me. Everyone was in the barn and they were all staring at me with that look that said, "Do something!" I knew we had some sort of "emergency."

"Hi, honey," she yelled. "Hurry, come and help us!" I walked into the barn and the scene looked as if all members of some traveling acting troupe had been placed on a stage. Kids to one side, dogs sitting side by side, cats on the workbench, horses peering from the stalls, and Snow White in the middle of it all. "Looks like a Walt Disney movie," I thought.

I was about to smile when I saw the worry on my loved one's face. "What's the matter?" I asked. Rebecca pointed slowly at the barn ceiling…

And high above, there was a blurring motion right up against the barn roof. My eyes adjusted and the fuzzy image came into focus…a very small hummingbird bumping over and over against the roof. My heart sank.

I realized immediately this little female hummer had missed her flight to the south and was in serious trouble for a host of reasons. I sat down on a bale of hay and looked up at the tiny prisoner high above and then over at my wife. She had that look on her face that tears me up. The one that says, "I'm worried about one of the Lord's creatures and we have to do something." And I knew there was nothing we could do.

So, like Daddies sometimes have to do on farms, I knew I had to explain the grim facts to my loved ones. I gathered all the chicks around me and in my wisest Uncle Remus voice, sitting on the bale of hay, I proceeded to tell our cats, dogs and horses, kids and Snow White that in this particular case, there was nothing that could be done. A dirty job, but someone had to do it.

So I began to explain (as kindly as possible, of course) that sometimes, Nature just failed to build in certain safeguards. "In this case, for example," I began, "hummingbirds sometimes go in open barns and for some reason, they only try to escape through the ceiling. Even though the Lord opens doors and windows, and offers all sorts of additional escape routes, hummingbirds stubbornly refuse to look at other options…much like people when they are in trouble," I concluded. (Man, I thought that was good. This Uncle Remus thing was working out better than I expected.)

Our kids looked down sadly, nodding their heads wisely. The horses and dogs seemed appropriately resigned to the little hummingbird's cruel fate. To my surprise, the cats, even though they were trying to hide it, had just a touch of evil grins on their faces. They were staring looking up at the baby hummer, and seemed to be saying, "You are getting very sleepy, you are getting very tired…"

I looked over at 'Becca knowing she would have a tear in her eye and made an internal resolve to help her bury the little bird when…the end came. Sitting beside me on the hay bale, she had her head down with that shock of dark brown mane framing her face.

When she was little, her hair went everywhere. It was so wild that her momma called her "Buckwheat," and tried to control it by tying strips of cloth here and there. Now, her hair fell in soft layers around her face and I thought about how much I loved her and how sorry I felt for her. I put my arm around her and said, "There's nothing we can do, honey. I'm so sorry." And she looked up at me and said…


"Patooie?" I echoed.

"Yes, Michael Lynn," she snapped. "PATOOIE!"

Well, I must tell you I was shocked. Nobody ever said, "Patooie," to Uncle Remus. The kids looked up, the horses and dogs looked at each other…the cats were still looking up at the roof saying, "You are getting very sleepy…"

With my Uncle Remus voice rapidly disappearing, I said, "What do you mean, 'Patooie,' Dear?"

"All that is ridiculous, Michael Lynn!" I knew I was in trouble because she had called me by both names twice in two minutes. All southern men know if your momma or wife calls you by both names, things ain't going well. Of course, two names are not as bad as all three. If your momma or granny calls you by all three names…MICHAEL LYNN JOHNSON…you are definitely gonna' get a whipping. I could tell 'Becca was on the verge of using all three names.

"We are not going to let Hannah die!" she shouted. "Who in the world is Hannah?" asked Uncle Remus. She pointed at the ceiling and said grimly, "I just named her and she's not going to die!" Then suddenly with no warning, my sweet little loved one turns from 'Buckwheat' into General Patton and starts barking orders.

"Derek," she snaps at our youngest. "Get the saw-horses and put them just inside the south end of the barn." In a flash, Derek is off on his mission.

"Britney," she wheels on our oldest. "Get the big dip net, a broom and some duct tape. NOW!" Britney darts away, eyes filled with newfound hope.

Patton turns to the horses, "If you are not going to help, get out of the way." Both run outside. Then she whirls on the cats…
"And YOU…" she thunders, pointing a vengeful finger at them. Both cats immediately cover their eyes with their paws, full of shame that they ever could have had such evil thoughts, and slink away. Then she turns on me. I try to melt into the hay.

"Listen, mister," she begins. "It may be true that hummingbirds don't see options just like people. But the Lord sends others to help us, if we can just recognize them, right?" I said, "Well, uh…yes…that is true, Dear." (What was I gonna' do…disagree?)

"Well, if that's the case," she continued, eyes snapping, "we have been sent to help Hanna escape the jaws of death. Now let's get busy!" and she darts away as well.

I am now sitting on this bale of hay, with my Uncle Remus costume in shreds all around me, thinking about my spouse…

I do love this woman dearly, but I have always known something about her. And that is, when the Angels made her, they left out one thing. They left out the word D-E-F-E-A-T.
She just didn't get that put into her.

Whenever I draw a bad steer or face an impossible golf shot, 'Becca always says, "Why, honey, don't worry about it. You can do it, just go ahead. Besides, where are we gonna' get with a bad attitude. Remember, Michael, nobody likes 'Mr. Pooty Pants.' And I always think, "Yeah…you know, maybe I can do this." And sometimes, to my utter amazement, sometimes…I do.

Then, I remembered Amanda. Still sitting on the bale of hay, while the 'army' was off planning a rescue mission, I thought about Amanda.

A sad-eyed little girl in the fourth-grade, who made only F's…but it wasn't her fault. She was special-ed, had a below average I.Q., and came from a bad home life. What could she do? Wasn't her fault.

Nothing can be done for people like that. They are much like hummingbirds trapped in a barn. Sometimes, there is nothing we can do, right? Wrong. Amanda just needed to get in Mrs. 'Becca Jan Johnson's room and see some options.

After months of work, failure, false starts and trying again, over and over, Amanda finally got it. She began to see herself differently because of a special Teacher. A Teacher who when told by others that Amanda just couldn't do it, said…
"Patooie!" And Amanda changed from "F's" to "A's" and "B'S." I.Q. had very little to do with it. "I can" has everything to do with it. Some people know that and can teach it to the rest of us. I'm married to one of them.

Sittin' there on a hay bale, thinking about all of that, when the highly motivated rescue team arrives at ground zero…

Hanna's still hangin' on at the top of the barn roof, cats peering around the barn door, racked with guilt, but still hopin'. Derek moves the sawhorses in place, Britney has the dip net taped to the end of a broom…and "Patton" strides in.

"Up on the sawhorses, Michael Lynn!" she shouts. In a heartbeat, I'm there…a grown man, roman-riding two saw-horses.

'Becca moves to the other end of the barn where Hanna is on her last legs…(or wings, as the case may be). Holding another broom high over her head, Oklahoma's answer to Joan of Arc, begins a gentle sweeping motion to coax Hanna into the net at the far end. This goes on for an hour.

My arms are aching, the horses are staring up, looking like, "Why did we ever get born into this family?" Dogs are barking, kids are yellin' "FREE HANNA, FREE HANNA!" And I am hoping against hope that none of my friends come by at this particular moment.

For over an hour, 'Becca is gently sweeping, softly saying, "C'mon, Hanna, c'mon honey, just a little more…go into the net." I'm dying here, my arms are huge casts of lead and I am about to say, "Honey, it's not going to work…" when to my unending astonishment, Hanna gives up the faith and falls…right into my outstretched dip net! No kidding!

I'm so stunned I cannot speak…it actually worked! 'Becca runs to the net, gently extracting the exhausted little creature from the homemade snare. Tenderly, she untangles Hanna from the webbing and holds her against her cheek. "I knew you could do it, Hanna," she coos softly to the tiny bird.

She lets her rest for a few minutes. Then, with the entire cast following behind, 'Becca walks slowly to the south end of the barn. She whispers something to Hanna and lifts her to the southern sky.

Hanna sits up in her hands and looks around. In a flash, her tiny wings ignite like a little chain saw and she disappears over the emerald pines and golden sweet gums, bound for the warm Texas coast.

'Becca turns and looks at me sideways with her pretty eyes and a little grin. "See, I told you Michael Lynn…nothing is impossible."

I can't talk. I think to myself, "You're right, Dear. With love and encouragement…and people like you not giving up on the rest of us, nothing is impossible."

Merry Christmas, folks.

Michael heading for the great Sonny Gould

Michael & Blue

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