Three Weeks in February 2014

For some reason I’ve never finished the story I sketched out describing the three weeks in February 2014 when my dad had his stem cell transplant. I’m dusting this off and sharing it with you. It’s time.

Harold Allen Brown’s diagnosis went back to November 2012. At least that’s when he shared it. Dad was extremely private about the cancer diagnosis. Multiple Myeloma. Bone marrow cancer. He explained people look at and listen to you differently when they know you have cancer. Dad was never one for pity. He quickly grew tired of those types of reactions. I found out after he died that he’d declined to share his diagnosis with at least one close relative, one who thought they’d been close enough to know. I don’t think many folks these days could pull that off if they wanted to. Not saying it’s good. Don’t think it is necessarily. Rare for certain.

After the diagnosis I went out to visit him for a week, flew out as soon as I learned. He was extremely down but as the visit stretched on, he seemed to feel better, and our days and evenings were less consumed with screentime and more with talking.

In the days leading up to the transplant the plan was for his sister to come stay with him. I didn’t think that was likely due to her age and health. I suggested I might be able to come and take care of him. It was something part of me figured wouldn’t happen. The procedure was postponed a few times. The doctors kept saying they wanted dad to wait two weeks. At some point his sister admitted she wasn’t capable. He asked me. Linda agreed. Henrik wasn’t even a year old.

My flight to Nashville was on Sunday, February 16, 2014. If I recall correctly, this was also the first day of dad’s chemotherapy. My flight from Phoenix to Nashville left at 9:00 AM Arizona Time. Mine was seat B58, the middle seat. I ended up in the isle because a husband and wife wanted to sit together. She was one of the last people on the flight for some reason. Not sure why I took this note. I arrived without incident. Crystelle and Sol picked me up. We ate at Whole foods and did some grocery shopping and got dropped off at the hotel, the Residence Inn close to Vanderbilt. Dad seemed in a good mood all things considered. We visited, Crystell and Sol left. Took a while to get to sleep due to the jet lag. Not sure dad slept much at all.

Day two of chemo was on Monday February 17. We had a hospital appointment at 11:00 AM. We left the hotel via shuttle at 10:00 AM and arrived at 10:30. Dad got the rest of his chemo, sitting in a chair. Lunch was sandwiches. Dinner was potatoes and quinoa.

Tuesday was a “rest” day. At least for me. Not so much for dad. I was up and well rested at 6:00 AM. Larry Yarborough came over and took dad to the hospital. I went to the Kroger (grocery store) in Greenhills. Bought lots of groceries. Wasn’t sure how many days dad would have an appetite, but the plan was to eat while the eating was good.

Oh yeah, while running errands, I saw Eddie George out jogging on Belmont. Nashville is a nice town. It leaves its celebrities live in peace, or at least it used to.

Wednesday, February 19 was the big day. After chemo to obliterate his immune system back to the day of his birth, it was time to introduce new stem cells. Not so much new, but new to dad. They were his in fact his own stem cells. Donated to himself, scrubbed clean for lack of a more elegant scientific way of describing, and shot back into his body. On this day we walked Love Circle. Ran into some dogs that panicked dad. I didn’t understand his anger at first. Then in a flash I understood. This could be a matter of life and death for him. For the dogs, their owner, and me, it wasn’t immediately apparent. Probably never was to the dog owner.

Got to see Richtop. John either has an outsized ego, a great sense of humor, or both.

On Thursday, February 20, they pushed more stem cells. What a couple of days. Intense is an understatement.

Friday, February 21, was immune system day 1! A unique thing to celebrate. It’s literally like dad’s immune system had its second first birthday. We went for another walk. Looked at many older houses in the Vanderbilt area. Crystelle brought over dinner. It was a very good soup. Yum.

Weekends in this bubble were… different. Good, but sans work as a distraction. On Saturday, February 22 we went in for a hospital checkup. This was dad’s first day of Neuprogen, white blood cells. Tanya delivered a great big-old shot. Larry came back by and gave me the afternoon free. I got my things together and walked down to Centennial Park. Ran six miles in one-mile loops. It was a very nice day. Nicest weather-wise the entire visit, by far. It was sunny, full of families, dogs, people walking, cool breeze. I did some window shopping at Cumberland Transit. Looked in on a coffee shop but it was far too crowded. No good place to stop for a snack and no room on any patio, so I dropped by a running shop and bought some new shoes and a few assorted items.

Walking back, I dropped by the Outback on West End for lunch. Fun fact, the chain location, oldest in Nashville I’d guess, isn’t there anymore. It would close up shop at some point during the next week. I didn’t know this at the time. The waitress seemed a little out of it. Maybe she knew. Think the real reason was, she shared, her stepdad had a four-wheeler accident deep in the country, more than a mile from an actual road. He’d had three of his grandkids on the back of the machine. He got stuck in the mud but had the presence of mind to stop and let them off. He tried to get the four-wheeler out of the mud, but the process rolled the bike and broke most of the bones in his face and crushed many others. Her mom had come to the restaurant the previous evening looking for her, obviously frantic. Life-flight took two hours to get him to the road and onto the helicopter. He was in the intensive care unit (ICU) overnight and was in stable condition. That’s work ethic. She was back to work the next day.

It’s like the universe was telling me, hey, chin up, things can always be worse.

That night the neighbors were really loud. Believe they were there for a Vanderbilt basketball game. Lucky, they left in the morning because housekeeping was cleaning the room.

I slept-in on Sunday, February 23, all the way to 6:45 AM. I had a smoothie for breakfast. Dad had none. Nurse Anne suggested dad take anti-nausea meds every eight hours to head off nausea. Most folks are on their different meds at this point. When I got back from lunch dad had finished his IV of the drugs, and it was time to go back to the hotel. Dad had a lunch of butternut squash soup and half a grilled cheese, took a nap, while I watched some of the Olympics.

On Monday, February 24 dad had a smoothie for breakfast. It was also the last day for our 10:30 AM appointments. We had to be in a small room in the corner of the floor we were on. We had a really loud nurse, not the best of the bunch we encountered. All dad was able to eat all day ended up being that smoothie for breakfast. He did lots of napping and threw-up once that early evening. I recall we watched Letterman because he interviewed the lead blond female character from the Big Bang Theory.

Tuesday, February 25 marked our halfway point out of the darkness. It was a much better day. Dad ate a little apple sauce for breakfast and dinner. Ate a little yogurt for both as well. He had some chicken noodle soup for lunch at the clinic. He got platelets that seemed to make him feel better. He’d lost eight pounds over the past three or four days so got a large IV to hydrate. Found out he stopped taking the anti-nausea but talked him into taking that again and also got something for the in-between the 8 hours just in case. He didn’t nap as much today. We watched basketball on TV (Vandy v Floria).

Wednesday, February 26 was an earlier morning. We were up at 6:00 AM. Both sleepy. Thursday was a repeat. I found a place to swim laps on Friday and found a place to ride a stationary bike on Saturday, March 1. Dad’s white blood cell count had been down as low as .2 (200) but was up to 1.6 (1600) on this day. Dad got a haircut from Howard as a result of hair finally starting to fall out, in clumps. Those three days were intense. Leaving some of the less flattering parts out, but if you’ve been through it, you understand.

On Sunday, March 2 we watched the Abraham Lincon movie. We had another visit to the clinic. Larry came over again and gave me some free time. I tried to run in the park again, but it was raining. Not wanting to waste the free time, I went to the Greenhills Mall, back to Kroger, and grabbed a pizza at the Mellow Mushroom. I also dropped back by Cumberland Transit in West End to pick up a few gifts, and one for Linda. I got back to the hotel and Larry was asleep. The rain had started to freeze and the slow wasn’t far behind.

On Monday, March 3 schools closed all over town, and the news reported 18 wrecks on the roads. TDOT said “stay at home!” However, our shuttle was running. That brought back some memories, snow days, sledding, hot chocolate, and cabin fever.

On the shuttle that day, we met a heart patient who had been staying in a hotel in town for the last six months waiting for a procedure. A kidney transplant I believe. This was his first ride on the shuttle to the dialysis center. Seems his procedure was getting close. Silver linings are everywhere if you look. And you should look.

My memory of these three weeks is strong. Some days are clearer than others. Snips like from a movie. The last week went by the fastest. I’d slacked off taking notes and focused on being in the moment. I was feeling equal parts grateful for being there with my dad and being extremely eager to get home to Linda and Henrik. To be with my dad those three weeks, just him and me in a room most of the time, was a gift of immeasurable value. We watched television, read books, and talked. It was the most time I’d spent with him in my entire adult life. In fact, statistics tell us 90% of the time you will have spent with your parents was done from the ages of 0–18.

Saturday, March 8 was my last day. I can see the final moments in my mind’s eye like I’m there. My reliever was there. I said goodbye to my dad, walked down a few blocks, and did some window shopping in the Vanderbilt area. My Mom picked me up a little while later. We ate some lunch around Belmont, and she drove me to the airport. After days of rain and snow and cold, Saturday was somehow a warm sunny day. That’s how I remember it. I think maybe my memory is playing a trick on me. Check the weather report to be sure? Nashville that day, in a car on my way to the airport and home, it was a very warm sunny day indeed. Real or imagined. 

Book Report 2022

I loved my summertime trips to the library as a kid. There wasn’t an Encyclopedia Brown book in the Franklin, Tennessee library that I hadn’t read at least once, some twice. Reading for pleasure much less personal growth wasn’t something I did much beyond those early summers. There are some books I read for school that come to mind. Where the Red Ferm Grows. And Then There Were None. Red Badge of Courage. Reading just wasn’t a priority beyond Sports Illustrated. Even less so in college, all textbooks and report research.

After college I spent time as a consultant and traveling made trips to the bookstore in a strange town a highlight. Reading books for both pleasure and personal growth became a hobby.

When my youngest was born in October 2016 I took four months of leave to bond. I have extremely fond memories of sitting on the couch in the living room holding Hanna and reading for hours. I cleared many books, including Patrick Rothfuss’s “The Name of the Wind” (662 pages) and “The Wise Man’s Fear” (994 pager).

I might have read a dozen other fiction book in print since. Why? The magic of audio books! I can “read” when I’m in the car, doing yardwork, or exercising. The time really adds up. Audible is great. Libby is life changing. My goal is to balance my reading by going from fiction to non-fiction and repeat. I can read a few fiction books all in a row, but I start to get anxious when I’ve ready too many non-fiction books without a break in between.

From January to December

  1. Start With Why – Simon Sinek
  2. The Checklist Manifesto – Atul Gawande
  3. Effortless – Greg McKeown
  4. Thinking Fast and Slow – Daniel Kahneman
  5. The Island of Sea Women – Lisa See
  6. Sacred Hoops – Phil Jackson
  7. The Martian – Andy Weir
  8. Crazy Rich Asians – Kevin Kwan
  9. More Than A Game – Phil Jackson
  10. Sapiens – Yuval Noah Harari
  11. Project Hail Mary – Andy Weir
  12. The Guest List – Gillian Flynn
  13. Everything is F*cked – Mark Manson
  14. Wrong Place Wrong Time – Gillian McAllister
  15. Artemis – Andy Weir
  16. Daily Rituals – Mason Currey
  17. Rogue Lawyer – John Grisham
  18. The Reckoning – John Grisham
  19. Wired to Eat – Robb Wolf
  20. The Racketeer – John Grisham
  21. Ansani Boys – Neil Gaiman
  22. Darth Plagueis – James Luceno
  23. The Boys of Biloxi – John Grisham

I didn’t include books I started and didn’t finish. I also didn’t include any Blinkist books summaries, which is magical for so many reasons. I’ve had a free account for years and in 2022 finally splurged and paid for the premium membership. Lightening in a bottle.


Chapter 1 Harold Brown Memoir – Prologue

Originally posted on December 24, 2018

My Dad wrote his memoir during the last several years of his life.

The stories and characters and places with rare exception come from his childhood. Mostly characters from Hamburg, Arkansas. But it does explain a lot about why he became the man he was. Yin and yang. If you are interested in that, here’s a gift.

I have this to share because I made a copy of Dad’s iMac hard drive. He wrote it to be found and shared, I have no doubt. I found Dad’s working copy during a digital spring cleaning, easy enough. So here it is, with minor editorial. These are his words in his voice.

His name was Harold Allen Brown. Born in 1946 to Dallas Brown and Ozell Walker Brown. Enjoy his stories. Enjoy his story.

Owen W Brown


This is my story. These are my memories. Memories. We all have them. The trick is to find the key that unlocks what we have stored in our memory bank. I am trying to remember, not to forget.

Harold A Brown


“Would you do it again?” I asked Mother. “No.” was her solemn reply. “No.” I’d thought when I asked the question about her marriage she would affirm my importance. She did not. Her thoughts were on the hardships she’d endured over the many years following my father Dallas’ death. How could you blame her for such an honest answer. She did the best she could under the circumstances.

There was a time before I was born when Mother rocked my brother Garvis and sister Miriam to sleep hours before their bedtime because there wasn’t enough food in the house to feed them. How painful would it be to listen to your small children cry because you could not feed them?

Throughout my life with mother, I never remember her throwing out food. Now I understand why. Some answers can’t be reached until we understand the problem. I still practice her methods. I turn off lights, adjust the temperature in the house, save food for later consumption, and save money for a rainey day.

I have seen many with far more advantages do much less.

If Mother ever felt sorry for herself and the situation she was in, it was only shown to me through that one statement, “No”.

Her courage didn’t indicate that she had no fear. Her courage was shown through the action she took in the face of fear.

We can only hope that we have done the things that will bring honor to those that have sacrificed for our survival. I love you Mother and pray that I have not let you down.

This is my story. It may differ with the memories of others. That’s okay. This is still my story. My hope is it should cause others to return to their past.

How much you care is more important than how much you know.

Looking for the best in someone else often brings out the best in you.

Chapter 2 Harold Brown Memoir – 1946

I don’t know what days were like in Southern California after the bombing of Pearl Harbor. Our family was there during that time and my big brother Garvis told me he talked with our father Dallas about the implications of what had happened.

My father was not called into military duty, because of his age as I understand things.

Garvis was intensely proud of his father and was sure that nothing could ever happen to him. Before our father died he and Garvis were sitting together and he showed Garvis a small stone that he was holding between his thumb and one finger. He told Garvis he could see the stone, but could not feel it. At that point he lost his invincabality and became just another mortal.

Japan surrendered in August of 1945, just about six months before my birth. I’m Harold. Six months after my birth our father Dallas died.

The family looked toward the future as our Mother, Ozell Walker Brown started the rebuilding process. Tomorrow would have to be the day our dreams started coming true.

Mother was a proud independent woman. It wouldn’t do for her brothers to come to California and help her transport my father’s body back home. She, as I have been told, took the train with her deceased husband and their three children back to southern Arkansas for his burial.

It was never been made clear to me what caused my father’s death. I think he had a brain tumor. Is time our friend or foe? I think that it is what we make it. My father, mother, and a second brother are all buried together.

The U.S. Navy was testing the atomic bomb in the South Pacific at Bikini. We burn the tree after we gather the fruit. Are we here to produce and die? Our fruit should offer new life for all those that are to come.

Tenderly was one of the songs that entertained us that year. I can’t remember when I first started humming that tune but it has always been a favorite of mine.

Harry S. Truman was President of the United States when I started having birthdays. He moved into his new office after Roosevelt died early in his fourth term. To celebrate my birth he signed a directive that was the birth of the Central Intelligence Group that would later be called the CIA (Central Intelligence Agency). The first electric clothes dryers were in use. How was I to know that we were ahead of our time when we used our solar dryer. A piece of long wire and clothes pins!

When I was very young, mother would drive me to the cemetery. It took a long time to understand what we were doing there. The building that served as the church burned years later, but the grounds have been maintained religiously.

My sister always looked out for me. What else is a sister suppose to do! She claims that while I was just a baby she changed my diapers. Does that sound like your sister? I don’t think we could afford diapers. Anyway, I don’t remember those kinds of things. My sister was training to succeed and practicing for that success.

On October 2, 1946 Leon and Sally Evans introduced their first born to the world. They named him Tommy. He would have many different titles over the years, son, brother, nephew, student, husband, provider, soldier, father, employee, employer,fisherman, hunter, carpenter, farmer, uncle, grandfather, caregiver, just to name a few. Happy birthday old friend.

Chapter 3 Harold Brown Memoir – 1947

My first remembered home was an old shot-gun house. The planks were rough sawed timber that shrunk as they cured. The shrinking boards left a gap that could be seen through when the newspaper that was used as wall paper began to tear away from the wall.

The floor wasn’t much better. In fact I’m sure it must have been worse. My sister tells of seeing a chicken come in and roost under the house in the late afternoon. She was inside the house looking down through the floor! Hey, in the words of some commercial I remember seeing on television,“It doesn’t get any better than this”. I think it does!

After one overnight trip we came home to find those same birds roosting inside the house. I don’t know who left the door open and I can’t tell you who cleaned up, but I can tell you that my sister and brother never forgot how dirty it was.

Jackie Robinson was the first negro baseball player to play in the major leagues. Was his housing as bad as ours? The real challenge comes from within for all of us. Some paths are just more difficult than others. Heads or tails, it’s still the same coin.

My brother was always giving me helpful instructions. One frosty morning on his way to catch the school bus he gave me some valuable advice. I know he had to get up early and split fire wood for the pot belly stove that we had in the tiny living room. Maybe that was part of his reason for being so helpful that morning. He was probably tired before he ever got to school.

For some reason that escapes me, I wanted to catch a bird. The first flying saucer sighting was documented this year. Do you think there is any connection? Every child thinks they need a pet. Something to love and be loved in return. Sounds like the words to a song doesn’t it. Big brother says to me, “what ya doing” and I informed him that I wanted to catch a bird, but they would not stay still long enough for me to grab one. He says, “pour salt on its tail”. How stupid of me. Everyone in the world probably knew how to catch a bird but me. Why hadn’t I asked my brother before. He knew every- thing.

Mother was more than happy to share her salt with me. She never asked what I wanted with it and I didn’t tell her until I came in hours later. Mother could tell that her baby boy was very unhappy about the days events. “What’s the matter Little Harold Boy?” she asked. That’s when I learned that it wasn’t a physical problem but a mental one. It was a lesson well learned and I was well on my way to an education worth bragging about.

Earl Tupper probably had the same problem when he tried to catch birds. That is most likely why he invented Tupperware and started having Tupperware party’s. He took his life in his own hands and made our lives better with his special touch. The drive-in theater was becoming the business of choice. What a year! Our lives will be measured by how we treated those that could do us absolutely no good.

Henry Ford died and didn’t leave us one cent of his six hundred million dollar fortune.