Dallas: A Father-Son Roadtrip

I like Dallas!  Some may be asking, “Who couldn’t like Dallas?”  For others, the mere mention of this city — home to “America’s Team,” the Dallas Cowboys — may bring to mind a slightly different question, better left unsaid.

In my first 44 years of life, I have never had occasion to visit Dallas, which ranks as America’s 9th largest city (although only 3rd biggest in Texas, behind Houston and San Antonio).  I don’t count my ever-increasing time (thanks American Airlines) changing planes at Dallas/Forth Worth International Airport as official visits.

My father, who was a funeral director for over forty years, lived in Dallas back in the 1950s while attending Gupton-Jones Institute of Mortuary Science.  After earning his degree, he returned to his native Florida, never returning to Dallas.  Maybe it was the memories of his rigorous studies, but whatever the reason, my dad never suggested taking a family vacation to Dallas.

After all these years, what finally brought his son to Big D?  Actually, his oldest grandchild and my oldest son, Stephen.  He has a doctor’s appointment at the Texas Scottish Rite Hospital for Children today (Monday, August 29).

Four years ago, on August 1, 2006, my oldest son was diagnosed with Legg-Perthes Disease.  My dad, who was in what would be the final days of his life, never knew about Stephen’s diagnosis.  Before we were able to see him one last time (actually, we were in an airplane, frantically trying to get home), my dad — Stephen’s granddad — went home to be with the Lord on August 4.

Time has passed, but Stephen’s hip condition remains.   Like many of you, we had never heard of Legg-Perthes Disease prior to that fateful first week in August 2006.  What is this disease?

Perthes is a condition in children characterized by a temporary loss of blood supply to the hip. Without an adequate blood supply, the rounded head of the femur (the ” ball ” of the ” ball and socket ” joint of the hip) dies. The area becomes intensely inflamed and irritated. (full article here)

When Stephen was about seven years old (Perthes disproportionately strikes boys, ages 4-12), he began complaining of pain in his right thigh.  As an active boy, he loved riding bikes.  He also crashed bikes, but didn’t love that part.  In one of his many spills, his right thigh was badly bruised.  At first, we thought that he was suffering residual pain from his bike accident.

When Stephen’s pain did not subside, we decided to get an x-ray of his thigh to rule out a broken bone or something more serious.  When the x-ray came back clear, we breathed a sigh of relief and moved on.  Little did we know, our journey was just beginning.

One Sunday morning, after playing particularly hard the previous day, Stephen could not sit up at church.  He laid down in one of the pews and closed his eyes, obviously in pain.  Now, I’m used to folks closing their eyes because they think that one of my sermons is painful to listen to, but that is a different story altogether!

On August 1, 2006, my wife took Stephen to a local orthopedic specialist.  When she described Stephen’s pain, he took another x-ray.  But, instead of just looking at Stephen’s thigh, the doctor took the x-ray of Stephen’s right hip.  When the doctor viewed the x-rays, he immediately knew that Stephen was in the early stages of Legg-Perthes Disease.

Since that day, Stephen’s “ball” on his right hip has disintegrated and regrown.  Unfortunately, the head of his right femur has not regrown as spherical and smooth as a “normal” hip, thus causing Stephen countless painful days and many sleepless nights.  The pain that he lives with — in fact will live with for the rest of his life — is more than his mother and I could ever imagine.

However, Stephen, is a real trooper.  He is an active, energetic and otherwise healthy boy (“pre-teen, dad”), who does not allow his condition to slow him down very much.  He still loves to ride bikes and he loves to skateboard.  Pending approval from his doctor, Stephen is looking forward to playing basketball again this winter.

Today is a day for x-rays, doctors, hospitals, and a lot of waiting.  Yesterday was a day of father and son fun in Dallas.  With a totally useless GPS that guided us to several locations where Toys R Us stores were supposed to be (one was no longer in business and the other location was a cul-de-sac in a residential neighborhood), we finally found a store that was real and was open.

With son happy with his dad’s purchases at the toy store, it was off to visit Dealey Plaza, site of the 1963 assassination of President John F. Kennedy.  After driving around the block a couple of times, we finally parked and walked across the street to view this piece of important American history.

I love politics and history, so this was a natural stop in Dallas for me.  I didn’t know if Stephen would think Dealey Plaza was neat or boring.  Much to my surprise, he has talked about our time spent walking on the grassy knoll and taking pictures of the sixth floor of the Texas School Book Depository, where Lee Harvey Oswald fired the fatal shot that killed JFK.

We had a great day!  Along the way, we picked up some fruit at the Dallas Farmer’s Market and some slurpees at a local 7-11.  My son has told me countless times that he really loved spending time with me on Sunday in Dallas.  Just the two of us.  Mom and brothers back in New Mexico. 

They say that first impressions are important.  I agree.  Perhaps it was because of the special time that I got to spend with my son during my first visit to America’s city, but I really like Dallas.  Give me time and I might even learn to like America’s Team!  You never know.

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About Howell Scott

I have been a Southern Baptist pastor for the last fourteen years. Before entering the ministry, I was a practicing attorney in my homestate of Florida. I have been married to my wife, Brenda, for 18 years and we have three sons, Stephen, Jacob, and Andrew.
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8 Responses to Dallas: A Father-Son Roadtrip

  1. Stephen Fox says:

    Great Father Son Story.

    My nuance would take you on a short blog ride, but think you may like it. Look at J Pierce’s musings on brevity of life this morning at http://www.johndpiece.com , see my comment there and then click over to my blog for the Pentecost and Pulitzer closure.

    My connection to Dallas is this.
    I got saved at Truett Memorial in Hayesville, NC and of course you know the Truett story intersection with Dallas.
    In 1974, I heard Criswell’s Daughter sing The King is Coming at the SBC Convention there. Rode through Vicksburg on the way out.
    Great short story in all that. Got a picture of a distant young Stephen (me) at the foot of a monument in Vicksburg, kinda of my Lone Pilgrim Bob Dylan Days with hair to prove it.
    What is it the Austin City limits Texas balladier sings: “Dallas is a City….”

    • Howell Scott says:

      Stephen,

      Just now catching up with my blog after a whirlwind trip to Dallas. We did manage to somehow drive past Criswell College, but that’s about as close to FBC Dallas as we made it. Enjoyed the city though. I don’t question Bush’s faith (just as I don’t question Obama’s), but I do question both of their theology. I think that Bush is far more liberal in his theological beliefs than most conservative Southern Baptists would be comfortable with. For whatever reason, he got a huge pass on these issues for most of his presidency. I suppose it was partly due to his handling of the War on Terror, which I think for the most part was successful, considering no further attacks on American soil. Be that as it may, I will be exploring Bush’s beliefs that all religions seem to be on the same path to the same God. That will probably be up on Friday. In the meantime, I’ll try to get to the New Yorker article and may integrate it into my post. Thanks for the thoughts. God bless,

      Howell

  2. Hello! My son Jack, now 10, has been battling Perthes for 2 years now. I’ve been keeping a blog for him for a year and a half (http://firecrackerflyers.typepad.com/jackinator/) and also recently created a site called Perthes Pals for kids with Perthes to connect with each other. We’d love to have your son share his story! http://firecrackerflyers.typepad.com/perthes_pals/

    • Howell Scott says:

      Michele,

      Thanks so much for reading and commenting. I appreciate you letting me know about your son, Jack, and his battle with Perthes. I will check out your blog and let Stephen know about sharing his story. There are times that it seems like we are the only ones dealing with this (which, where we live is true), but it’s good to know that we can connect with other families that are sharing our struggles. I hope that Jack is doing well. Have a great day and God bless,

      Howell

  3. C. E. Buttrill says:

    Good to see that you had a safe and good time in Big D. I hope you were able to find some different types of eating places. And, I pray most of all that the Dr’s are able to come up with something to give Stephan relief of some pain and better healing. I know the Great Physician will bless all of this time and He will heal in His timing. I enjoyed our short visit and I will try to be more possitive next time in my attitude. Love you guys!!!

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