What a crazy week…

It all began one week ago as you opened e-gardens. I shared with you that I would be turning 80 last Friday.

I told you that our son Todd, who works in television in Los Angeles, had prepared a very special birthday “movie” for me. He sent it to me at 4:30 last Thursday. I asked his permission to share it, and at the very last moment before e-gardens distributed we got a link to it added to the bottom of the home page. However, it was caught up in all the rest of last week’s information. A lot of you missed it.

My screen captures from Todd’s lovely videos shot over the past many months simply do no justice to them. I hope you’ll take a few minutes to enjoy his compilation! Click images for larger view.

So here it is once again. Todd hikes almost every day – more than 6,000 miles in the past 3 years. He has bought a couple of very nice drones and taken them with him on his hikes. I think you’ll love his work.

Here’s the link. Stay with it. Settle back and enjoy Todd’s short movie!

Then, 6 hours after Todd’s video link arrived via text, Todd arrived in person via DFW airport. Came in our back door!

My wife Lynn set this all up and surprised me completely. I asked our great-granddaughter Jackie to help us cut the birthday cake. Click image for larger view.

The next evening (Friday – my birthday) Todd asked me to show him around McKinney. We were to meet up with the family at a mysterious restaurant. Before, however, Todd wanted me to show him all the new construction.

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He had had his drone up over our church (First United Methodist). He drove me around the building and asked me to identify the various sections so he could label them in his video. As we came around to the west side I said, “Why, there’s Pastor Tommy now! Stop. Let’s say Hi!” I opened my window and re-introduced Tommy to Todd.

Tommy said he had something in his office he needed me to look at. I figured it was a plant sample. That happens. But he took a left turn. As he opened the door to the church parlor, there was a big group of friends and family assembled and waiting. My wife and Gretchen (who has worked alongside me for 33 years) had put the most wonderful surprise party together and I fell for it all. I’m as naïve as they come. The last time Lynn did this was when I turned 40, and I fell for that one as well. I am richly blessed by family and friends.

Sunday afternoon Todd drove us to Houston for my next appointment at M.D. Anderson Cancer Center. Here was the story we ran back in December in case you’re not aware of the most incredible blessing I could ever have been given. (Scroll down to the bottom of the page to be caught up to date.)

Monday began at 7 a.m. and ended about 7:30 p.m. It was a very long day, but it was a wonderful one. The great news was that “nothing has changed.” When you have cancer, that’s what you want to hear! I just got my latest “My Chart” notification yesterday and it listed the “Actions and Recommendations” as “Nothing.”

My super doctor from last fall who had delivered that wonderful news in December resigned a few weeks later to assume a new position in a hospital in Denver. Oh, how her patients (including me) hated to see her go!

Based on patient reviews I requested another specific doctor from the incredible team at M.D. Anderson and was lucky enough to be assigned to her. I’ll tell you more about her when I have permission, but for now I’ll just say that she is kind, compassionate, and extremely highly respected by her peers and by her team.

But beyond that, I found out that she is perhaps the most avid gardener I have ever met in my lifetime in Texas. When I mentioned what I have done for my career, she pulled out her phone and started rolling through scores of photos of the most beautiful and diverse vegetables that she and her husband have produced at their weekend farm. She is one of us! And she is fun! How could I have been so lucky!

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And, it all will continue…
Tomorrow, Friday, May 10, will mark the 18th year that our Crape Myrtle Trails of McKinney Foundation has given a 1-gallon crape myrtle to each 5th grade student in the McKinney Independent School District. That’s approaching 2,000 plants this year – around 30,000 crape myrtles in our city just from this project alone. Lots of proud kids and happy moms. It’s one of my favorite days of the year.

(L) We choose outstanding varieties to give to every McKinney I.S.D. 5th grader. Our grower brings them to us fresh from the farm early the morning of the distribution. (R) Volunteers carefully count the number needed for each campus and load them into 21 pickups, one per school, for delivery the Friday before Mother’s Day (tomorrow).

So, please forgive all these personal things thrown at you all at once, but it’s the way my week has gone. I’m exhausted, but it’s been wonderful.

Posted by Neil Sperry
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