Category Archives: family

Boom Town:

The Fantastical Saga of Oklahoma City: its Chaotic Founding… its Purloined Basketball Team, and the Dream of Becoming a World-class Metropolis

A book I wasn’t sure I wanted to read, but a review in the local paper convinced me otherwise. For me the dry words of a geographical biography can be often mind numbing, but about two chapters into this book and it was apparent that was not the way this one would read.

It’s not a love story, it’s not a hatchet job, it’s something in between, something that made me read the book almost straight through.

I still was hesitant because of the way the author Sam Anderson jumped round from chapter to chapter, he talked about the land run and then one of the next chapters would be about James Harden, Sam Presti or Wayne Coyne – then Daniel Orton popped up and claimed a fair potion of the book. How did he really fit in the scheme of things? All of these were important parts of the book that made me both proud and angry at the people who started this city. And certainly furious at the some of the more recent shenanigans that has given Oklahoma City a poor reputation, one that has been at times richly deserved. Anderson explores all the high jinks and devious maneuvering that went on in the early days, how when cities and states around us were civilized, Oklahoma had its own laws. It wasn’t pretty.

Names that are familiar to all who live here come alive as the history lesson unfolds in way that you won’t read in typical history books. Clara Luper comes alive with the sadness of the race issues that plagued and still plague this state and will haunt me for a long time. And the description of one of architects of the city, Angelo Scott, sounds like he could have been an ancestor of Sam Presti.

But the parts that surprised me the most was the emotions I felt at retelling of the bombing and preceding days of McVeigh. Next, the descriptions of the famous tornadoes that hit in the city in 1999 and 2013. It made me feel physically ill as they came alive through another’s eyes and from the point of view of Gary England. I was never a huge fan of his before, that changed and the story just reiterated my feelings for David Payne. Not good ones.

When the author starts retelling the life cycle of the NBA Thunder seasons, when they were hit with injuries, the trades and treason, I had to put the book down, even though I knew what was going to happen. As an outsider I also felt a bit vindicated for some of the feelings I’ve had over the years. Yes, finally someone else saw what I was watching from afar.

Anderson starts off with the story of the killer of the killer of Jesse James – Red Kelley and jumps almost immediately into the saga of the Beard. The books takes lots of turns and twists with flashbacks to the early days of the land run and statehood, as well as the declines, booms and folly of the government. But woven throughout is the life cycle of the Thunder, mentioning things as fans we’ve never known about and a glimpse of the thinking of the powers that be. It was a fascinating read for me, a person who has never felt like I belonged here. I’m still not sure if I do – but now I can pinpoint some of the reasons why.

The book finally ends on September 29, 2017, another boom day for Oklahoma.

Susan Jennifer Titus

So many times I read how a loved one has passed away peacefully and surrounded by loved ones. I don’t know what was going on in Susan’s mind as she made that leap, but I can tell you that she was surrounded by loved ones, but wasn’t peaceful about it. She was still fighting and not ready to give up. She was even making physical therapy appointments while on hospice.

She’s a warrior. Susan didn’t give up one bit. Another Leiomyosarcoma patient called her Rocky. Yes, she was and is a Rocky. Ever since she became a cancer warrior her mission was to fight. She fought the disease along with helping others learn how to both fight and learn how to accept that wicked diagnosis of Leiomyosarcoma. She did it with both grace and determination through her public journal of the daily struggles a cancer patient faces. She shared her story to the point of uncomfortableness at times for her family, but always letting others know of her strong faith. It was her therapy and way of dealing with the ups and downs of everyday life while struggling with cancer.

We are grateful for the outlet it afforded her, even when it became so painful for us to read.

Her grace and passion dealing with one of the nastiest diagnosis one can get was awe-inspiring. For those who read her posts and responded with positive and encouraging comments on Facebook, you will never know just how much you helped her. Helped her cope, deal with it, made her feel as if she wasn’t alone, which gave her the strength to keep fighting.

Five years and three months and twelve days.

That’s how long she fought. Think about your last five years and how much you’ve done or accomplished. How your life changed, babies, college, graduation, in hundreds of little and different ways. There’s a lot you can do in five years of life. she did too — her big accomplishment was exactly that, five years of life when her odds were about six months when she was starting the journey.

She was a fighter, a warrior, one of my best friends as well as my daughter. She loved her family with a fierce passion. Her son and husband were the light of her life, everything she did, she did for them.

I remember one time when life was particularly hard, she turned to me, feeling a little sorry for herself and impatient with others who would complain about minor life setbacks and said.. all I want right now from my life is to see Eli turn thirteen. She did that. And she also saw him turn fourteen and then fifteen.

Five years, three months and twelve days of his young fifteen year old life has been spent with a mom fighting cancer. One third of his life.

She had a dry sense of humor and was the true grammar queen. Even as I type this I am watching for errors, because she will know and probably send a thunder bolt crashing down nearby. She could spot a spelling mistake from 50 yards and, oh my gosh, do not, repeat do not ever put two spaces after a period. She would just shake her head in embarrassment and make sure I correct it immediately.

Susan was born in Dallas and traveled north very grudgingly to Oklahoma when she was in middle school. She hated it. Every time she would get mad at me or Robert, remember she was junior high age, she would flounce to her room in a snit and we would soon hear her hammering away on the typewriter as she would write to her Dad about the injustices of her life. Then to rub salt into the wound even more, we moved to Oklahoma City during her high school years — not sure she ever forgave me for that. But if we hadn’t moved here, she wouldn’t have met the love of her life Ron. In the long run we did good!

She grew up hating rules, and never had a rule she wouldn’t try to break. Or try to test me to my limits on a daily basis. One day stands out when she was around kindergarten age, a neighbor called me and asked me to please come down to her house. Uh oh. Susan and her friend had completely covered the neighbor’s wrought iron gate with mud, not one curve, turn or finial was even visible, it was all mud. When asked why, she said, “you never told me I couldn’t do that”.

Out of all our kids, she was the one I thought would move far away as soon as she could. Nope, her family wound up living 300 steps away from us. That closeness was a precious gift for me, both physically and emotionally, during the last years of her young life.

There is so much more I could and should say about Susan, but we’ve received so many notes, letters and cards telling us how special she was, that I know I don’t really have to tell people what she was like.

She loved and was loved every day of her life.

Death happens to all of us and it’s never easy to accept, especially family members and loved ones. It’s heart-wrenching and feels like the very essence of your being is forever gone. Absolutely no death is easier than another — but my only wish for you is that you never lose a child.

When you are sorrowful look again in your heart, and you shall see that in truth you are weeping for that which has been your delight. Kahlil Gibran