Sunday, February 22, 2009

Losing Mom

We lost Dad in March of 08, Mom struggled with it, not just the loss of Dad but her memory of him passing. She always asked politely, gently, knowing she should know, sensing something was wrong or different but unsure what it was. We would always recite to her what happened that night, how we had all gathered round his bed, how he had pursed his lips for one last kiss from her, how he had passed peacefully.

She would nod her head, hang intently on every phrase, every word, trying so hard to put it somewhere safe. For some moments or even minutes the memory was hers, then it would float away like a balloon slipping into a cloud.

Caring for Mom never felt like a job, certainly she should have went to a home, we had planned on it. We just could not pull the trigger on the deal.

We patched things together, my son Alan stayed for awhile, My sisters Laura had a friend needed a job and was willing to pull some duty, my nephew Travis, his girl friend Mellisa and her 8 year old daughter Katlin took Saturday and Saturday nights, myself I came early every Sunday taking Mom to Sioux Falls for dinner with Laura and her family. Every month or so my sister Karen and Jeff would drive up from Kansas City. Mom loved her coming, Karen always gave Mom a manicure&pedicure. Mother would often look at the length of her fingernails and comment it must be time for Karen to come again.

It was the best team I ever worked with, we covered each others backs, no one ever complained, we called audibles, made running changes smoothly, little 8 year old Katlin dotted on Mom, she would stand by her while she used the bathroom, help her get cleaned up, pick out her clothes, help her get dressed, do things no 8 year old was expected to do. And little Katlin loved it. Watching her and Mom made my heart sing.

And Mom made it fun, we went for long drives, she loved to get out, , we always took the long way home, the road less traveled. We got our burgers in sacks and ate at old sand pits with the window open, I told Alan of my old haunts, he found them all plus many of his own. If Mom couldn't hike out and see the birds Alan found they could park at the river by Klondike and listen for them, catch glimpses of them flitting in the trees. Our trips were only limited by Mom's bladder and she had a pretty good one. Her smile was never bigger then before leaving town you asked if she would like to stop and get some ice cream. Her face would beam as she responded,”Oh, that would be nice.”

We made it through the summer, the fall was long and glorious the good weather holding on clear through October. When Mom lost her ability to walk any distance we shifted gears and started to use the wheel chair, far from being a hindrance we found it to give us a good deal more freedom. Once in the wheelchair my stamina was our only limit. My grandchildren Briana 10, Kayla 8 begged to come on Sundays, I always said no feeling there was no way I could handle both of them and Mom.

I started letting them come, taking turns one at a time, again everything fell into place, Mom loved having the extra company, things seemed just more fun, we searched out new places to go every weekend after our Sunday dinner. Downtown Sioux Falls was our oyster, with the wheelchair we could prowl the streets, look at all the sculptures, the kids loved to push Mom. My favorite thing to do was let her go on a slight decline like when we left the Washington Pavilion, I would run right behind Mom as she coasted, ready to grab the chair if things went amiss, knowing there was risk, that I could stumble and lose her, I was unable to keep myself from letting her go though, loved to hear the school girl excitement in her voice as she coasted free.

The Washington Pavilion was a favorite of ours, with three stories of science exhibits and fun things for the girls to do they always wanted to come. They had double features at the Cine Dome theater that were only about 40 minutes long, perfect for us. We went nearly every week. We were sitting watching kids and their parents work around a climbing wall, just Mom and I , I said to her “ it's a nice place to come isn't it Mom?, lots to see”. She responded, “It is nice but I wouldn't want to come every week, once or twice a year is nice though”. Cracked me up.

We drove by the war protesters every week, they set up out in front of the federal building only a couple blocks from the Pavilion. It seemed only decent we go pay them a visit. A friendly bunch, about ten or twelve strong,, one young man in a wheel chair the others perhaps my age, a little older, a little younger. We asked if they minded us joining , they welcomed us with open arms quickly supplying us with signs, Kayla was in her element, marching up and down the sidewalk lifting her sign, cars waving and honking at her, we gave Mom a sign, she had a little trouble keeping it straight, I looked in vain for a camera, it would be a priceless picture to send to Larry my conservative brother in Orange County Ca. I carry the image in my minds eye, smiling to myself every time I visit it.

When winter hit it hit hard, Mom's card playing was a good barometer of how she was doing, she loved Gin Rummy, at first I had to help her a little, now it was getting so we just laid our cards in front of us and I played for both of us unless Briana was there in which case she would help Mom with her hand.

I got the call from Travis about 8 o”clock Saturday night the weekend before Christmas. Mom was having trouble keeping her food down and Laura had taken her to the hospital in Rock Rapids seven miles away. I sat on the bed and thought it through, it didn't sound serious but might just as well go now, would be going in the morning anyway and in case there was trouble better for two of us to be there.

It wasn't fit for man or beast outside, blowing snow, a hard driving northwest wind. My first stop was the police station for a road report, I was headed 80 miles due west on highway 9, gal at the police station reported poor visibility with drifting snow but, yes, 9 was open.

The truck made a popping, thumping noise as we drove through the fingerling's or small drifts starting to stretch across the road. Alone on the road I drove as fast as I dared. At the halfway point I got a call from Laura, it was serious, Moms pulse was low, her temperature dropping. The roads being somewhat better as I got further west I cranked it up, the second call came in as I hit the county line 18 miles out. The Doctor wanted a answer right now, do we keep her in Rock Rapids or move her to Sioux Falls where they would pull out the stops. Laura was on the spot, all drifting was now gone, just blowing snow. I pushed it to the floor and told her I would be there in ten minutes. I called both my brother and my sister, Larry and I were inclined to go to Sioux Falls, I recall the wind absolutely howling around the drivers window making conversation difficult.

Finding the front door locked I hurried around to the emergency room door to get in. It was a relief to see Mom, chipper as ever even with a swarm of nurses over her. She recognized me and we made some small talk, somehow I understood immediately upon seeing her that Laura was right, staying put in Rock Rapids was the right thing to do.

The medical staff put Mom under a plastic sheet which was hooked to a heater/blower which blew hot air around her, they had IVs going to get her hydrated, they gave her a heart stimulant, the numbers started to improve. Somewhat stabilized they moved her into a room next to the nurses station.

With the nurses talking about what Mom could eat the next day both Laura and I thought we were over the hump. We both visited with Mom, her recall of times long gone seemed the best so that is what we talked about, her childhood, memories of her mother.

Laura, from God knows where, pulled out a gem, “ Mom do you remember the lady Grandma Oliver used to buy fresh green beans from, how she told Grandma that when she went out to pick the beans she never wore her panties so if she had to go while straddling the bean row she could simply pee on the row and keep going. And do you remember how shocked Grandma was, and that she never bought green beans from the lady again, ever?” Mom nodded, yes she remembered it well.

I was surprised, surprised they would keep a story so good from me for so long, also a little surprised that of all nights, this was night I would hear it. I smiled to myself, good stories are like nice smooth throwing stones you find them were they lay, I picked it up and put it in my pocket for later.

We watched the monitors, her heart rate was dipping again, they gave her more heart stimulant, again things improved. They also gave her some medication to let her relax, we were both by her side now, talking with her, holding her, her eyes closed, Laura asked if she could still hear us, Mom nodded yes.

Perhaps another hour passed, her heart rate dropped off again, the nurse came in and shook her head, we could give her more stimulant she said but it would only prolong what they felt was the inevitable. Laura asked if I would like to change places and stand at the head of the bed. We held her in our arms as she slipped away.

I was so thankful I had came, so thankful two of us were there for her. That Laura and I could be there for each other. It would be a hour or two before the undertaker would arrive, Laura wished to stay, after 45 minutes she said she was ready, we stepped into the waiting storm and drove my old Chevy back to Mom's.

Perhaps the toughest part was telling little Katlin, it was so hard for her to understand Mom was gone. At four in the morning we sat around the kitchen table, the same table we gathered around when Dad passed eight months earlier. With tears in our eyes and lumps in our throats we sang, ”You are My Sunshine, My Only Sunshine" .

Mom was Sunshine. Even when she had lost nearly all her memory her gentle sunny way remained as though it was so beaten into her being it was independent of her mind. It makes me feel good to know when Briana, Kayla and Katlin are 80 years old they will still warmly remember my Mother and all she taught them in her last six months.

I thank your for listening, Roy Gage, 2-22-09

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Screwing with Al

My son Alan is thirty, my daughter Audrey 28. They have always been close except for a period of about 4 years in their early teens when they detested each other. Alan has always been the pack leader, ran faster, jumped higher, somewhat bolder if not smarter. Audrey quieter, more thoughtful perhaps, softer spoken for sure. Alan was always the baby robin that could raise his head the highest and get the big worms.

When younger I taught the kids well, blamed the dog for my gas problem, took them two years to figure that one out, pull my finger, hey whats that on your shirt just before I snub their noses with my finger. Figured it was my job to not raise any rubes, my duty to sharpen their wits.

So, we all worked here together at Roy's Auto until Alan got restless sold everything didn't fit in his van and spent a few months exploring the world. Like the bad penny he did return. As he had sold his house he needed to find a new hangout, after a good deal of searching he found a old modified trailer house couple miles north of town. Real piece of junk but he was happy. It certainly seemed to fit his new lifestyle which could best be described as being a tight ass.

So old tightey he decides not to hook to rural water but patch his old well and jet pump up, he never even fires his furnace up to see if it works but installs a wood burning stove. Decides to heat completely with wood but refuses to buy a wood splitter instead opting to split all his wood by hand. Doesn't get a dryer, hangs his clothes up across the living room.

But hey he is happy, happy to just sit in front of his fire and read by the one energy efficient light bulb over his chair. He also is happy to tell me and Audrey all about it, all about how we waste too much, how we should be cutting back here and there. Gets a little hard to take, Audrey and I have real lives, we take baths every day, use a clothes dryer and don't like to split wood or stumble around in the dark. Heck we are even known to splurge and put insurance on our dwelling.

The tipping point was his bragging how much electricity he used in a month, what can yo do with nine dollars in electricity? I don't think the proverbial kid from India could get by on nine bucks a month, and if that is not bad enough he is bragging he is going go cut it back further yet, figures when the weather cools off his refrigerator will run less for Pete's sake. Very hard to take when you are supporting a real life and looking at triple digit power bills.

Audrey lives north of town also, in a real house, with lot's of light bulbs, a clothes dyer and rural water. Love that girl.

So old tight ass he leaves for a long weekend this fall and asks Audrey since she is driving right by his place if she could keep a eye on Rudy his dog while he is gone. No problem, what are sisters for she responds. The sweet part was the first time out she turned his light bulb on and left it on all weekend only turning it off just before he came back. I find this hilarious, we wait and sure enough, next month Alan is grousing about his power bill, not as cheap as it should have been. Actually went up a buck or so, can't figure it out. Somehow Audrey keeps a straight face. Every time I think about it I start to chuckle to myself.

It only gets better because Audrey and I tell everyone. They get together with their cousins for Christmas and Audrey let's them all in the secret, Alan tells his cousins about his new found passion for living cheap and they all have to struggle to keep a straight face.

Several weeks ago Alan got restless again and headed south, shut off his water, bled his lines, and headed out free as a bird. Speaking of birds he asks Audrey if she would again do the honors and watch his place and feed his wild birds. No problem, Audrey comes in after her first visit and informs me Alan doesn't have one light bulb but nine of them, and they are all on. We should be upset he is down soaking up the sun while we struggle through subzero temps but we are warmed at the thought of his 9 light bulbs glowing brightly.

We all know Alan has all his heat tapes off, the only thing he thinks is on is his fridge. We can hardly wait.

Last week he made it back. Today I came upstairs to the office, I am at my computer while Alan is rambling on to Audrey in her office , I pick up a couple phrases and then start to really listen, oh this is sweet, he is grousing about his power bill.

I don't dare look in the office and meet Audrey's eyes knowing she will crack up if I do, Alan's back is to me and I can not help but laugh. Al's story just keeps getting better, the bill was way higher then it should have been, he was having a bad day anyway yesterday, he had went to the power company to complain, he was rather sorry he had lost his cool, Billy Jo one of our customers was at the desk when he came in, after getting nowhere with Billy Jo she had given him appointment to see Peg at ten today. Oh boy I thought this is getting stupid fast, Peg is our customer also. I can imagine the conversations they are having today at the utility office. “ He always seemed like such a level headed boy” “ it was insane I tell you, a twelve dollar bill, who bitches about a twelve dollar bill”.

Wracked with laughter I step back into the shop, only thing seems to work is think about dead kitty's. I get it under control and step back in as Alan is coming out of Audrey's office. I ask him just how much money are we talking about and does he plan on leaving us with any customers or is he planning on losing them all. He seems to be a little ashamed to actually say the amount involved, certainly on one level he understand just how piddly it is, yet, he again clearly states it is the principle of the thing. I ask if he locked his place, he responds no, he had to leave it open for Audrey, I smile and suggest maybe homeless people are coming in at night and sleeping there. We leave it at that.

As I drive down the street I understand it has gone to far, we can't let him go to his appointment with Peg and make a fool of himself. Can we? I start to think about the next time he leaves for the weekend, I could put a couple half empty cans of pork and beans by his sofa, a stubby cigar and a beer can or two, maybe even a old Playboy.

When I got back to the shop I went to Audrey's office, to tell her we gotta give it up. Turns out Alan had found out about what we were doing from a friend while he was on his trip and his whole story about going on a rant was a effort to rattle me into thinking he was losing customers and force a confession.

He certainly was convincing.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Brains versus testostrone

I am going to include a cowboy story I wrote this fall, little long but it took little long to live it also. true story, as God is my wittness.

Brains versus Testosterone

Chapter One:

Good fences make good neighbors

A long and convoluted story, might as well get started..

In the beginning there were twelve bulls kept in the dry lot at Shaky, Shaky so named for it's finances which back in the seventy's were shaky by all accounts. I volunteered to feed them corn in the evening, Shaky is close to my place and figured it would be good for the grandkids. Mostly I carried the buckets while the kids did the head count, didn't take long to see we had a problem. The dry lot had old highway guardrail around most of it's perimeter but a 90 foot section on the west side was high tension electric fence. In the extreme northwest corner a board down low was missing. We named the red bull Houdini for his abilities to escape, his favorite trick being to get on his knees and crawl under at the missing board.

Couldn't blame him, what with a nice herd of cows only one pasture and a electric fence away. Will asked me to help get him put back in, again. I saddled up Molly and grabbed Kayla my granddaughter and off we went, once there we opened the gate to a second dry lot and ran the remaining bulls into it this allowed us to leave the gate open between the upper pasture and the first dry lot. Myself on Molly, Will and Kayla in the old red Chevy we went to the hidden valley pasture to round up the herd Will along the way assuring me he had the weak fence corner fixed righteous.

The logic to moving the whole heard up was simply no way Houdini was coming by himself. The round up went smoothly, after getting to the lot it only took a couple of tries to get Houdini and a few of his favorite cows in the dry lot, once in I was able to cut the cows out while Will and Kayla watched the gate, the key to the operation is to simply be smarter then the bull, he is just following his pecker, we got brains.

Shutting the gate to the pasture I am to ride Molly thru the mud, oh yes I am up to my ankles in mud and worse then open the gate to the second dry lot letting the other bulls back in to the first dry lot where we have old Houdini corralled, while I am doing this simple operation Kayla and Will are going to use the pickup to drive the cows back to the lower pasture, Kayla loves to chase and drive livestock often doing it just for the pure joy of it much like a mad dog chases sheep, to be able to do it lawfully is almost more joy then she can bear, they take off bouncing across the pasture the red Chevy's horn honking Kayla hanging out the window whooping like a mad Apache her blond hair flying.

I turn from this sight to open my gate, as I bend over I glance back into the dry lot, I quickly jerk myself upright and look again from side to side, end to end, Houdini is GONE.

I start running thru the mud towards the bouncing red pickup yelling waving and cursing, “it's a trick, turn back , turn back”, my efforts are in vain, Will and Kayla are having to much fun, cows jumping and running in front of them horn honking Kayla shrieking out the window. They never would have stopped except Houdini cut in front of the pickup, as Will tells it, “all of a sudden there was set of nuts swinging in front of me”.

We patched the fence, again, stuck old Houdini back in, again, went for supper and came back, again,I was right behind Will & Kayla when we pulled back into the yard, when I got out Kayla was jumping up and down yelling and laughing,”Will said the F word, Will said the F word”. I followed Will's gaze to see every bull we had out in the pasture. One of the bulls, let me guess, Houdini, had got his head under the gate and wrenched it off the hinges. We fixed the the gate and rounded up the bulls, again,or at least we rounded them all up except Houdini, he had made his way thru a 7000 volt fence and was back in the hidden valley pasture with his harem. Clearly it was going to be along summer.

Chapter Two:

The Black Sheep Land and Cattle Company

Got it's start the evening we rounded up the black Muscovy ducks, I never wanted them in the first place, Will had gone to a exotic animal auction a month earlier buying a goose, the four Muscovy's, two West Indies ducks and some fancy schmancy chickens. At the time his folks were in Mexico, my thinking is on the way home he got cold feet thinking they might not appreciate his purchases so he just dumped them off. I welcomed the chickens and the West Indies, the goose although welcome split after a couple days never to be seen again. The Muscovy's were the ugliest birds I had ever seen, not only that but they ranged over the whole neighborhood and of late had began to fly all over my end of town. Was clear the heat would soon be down on me.

I pondered the problem then recalled Will had a farm pond, after all they were not my damn ducks anyway, right?

Armed with a old fish net and small cage we scoured the hood for them finally finding them down in the little creek east of my place, certainly we never looked smarter then we did driving those ugly ducks back up to the catch pen in the yard. Sometime during the great duck drive the name Black Sheep Land and Cattle company was born, call it divine intervention if you wish, we sure liked the way it rolled off our tongues.

Fast forward to early fall, my daughter/office manager Audrey is ordering me up a new winter jacket, she asks if I want it embroidered, sure I say, then thinking even deeper, I say, hey what about getting it lettered ,Black Sheep Land and Cattle Company, oh how we laughed, hey we could get Will one also, I know soon a he sees mine he will want one too. We could have his all done and lettered up, then when he asks if he can get one we will just pull it out of the box. We order two.

We are sitting around the campfire at dusk last Wednesday. night, Kayla, Will, my son Alan and myself. I get up for more wood then hear Will talking on his cell phone, getting back to the fire Will is starting his old red Chevy and pulling away. I ask Alan, were is Will going?, Alan starts laughing hilariously then says “I guess Will is going to go work on getting his getting the cows back in patch”.

The patches were Audrey's idea, she figured since both Will and I had nice new jackets we could earn patches for them just like the Cub Scouts do. This never gets old, you got your, getting the bulls back in patch, your, I shut the damn gate patch, your fencing patch, your haying patch. The number of patches is mind boggling, as Alan said, “this patches thing is just never going to get old” We are even considering a sign on Wills Jacket like those that state how many days a business has gone without a work related injury. Wills would be how many days he has gone without having a cow out.

It has been two weeks since we got our jackets and neither of us has a patch yet, not altogether a bad thing, you screw up Audrey can take them away.

Chapter Three:

Challenges are encountered and overcome or Miss Connie gives up, on us

As the summer drifted by the number of bulls at Shaky dwindled, one by one they found ways to slip through the west fence. Most turned up with the cows in time, a couple took side trips, one taking a right rather then a left and turning up at my place, cops even got called out on that one. Then one day they were all gone. With the condition of the west fence a round up was pointless, Will and I buckled down and began adding steel rails to the west side, we used the cutting torch, the welder, we pulled broken posts, sank in new ones. The nights were getting shorter, the sun setting sooner but we kept at it,lastly we fixed the area by the water tank. Done we broke a bottle of root beer over the new railings and christened it Folsom.

Although getting a little long in the tooth Will's Mom, Miss Connie is still a pretty good horsewoman/wrangler in her own right so it was with great pleasure we welcomed her along on our big bull roundup. We met at her house for a dinner of porcupine balls and ice cream then saddled up our horses, adventure at hand our spirits high we hit the trail.

The round up went smoothly, both of my horses being indisposed I rode Wills paint, Lighting, Miss Connie rode her Gurila, B.J. while Will rode his new Palomino, Penny. The land we were on is as pretty as any in the county, rolling hills, hidden valleys, oak trees ,creeks and a river.

It was the first time I have sorted with three horses, seemed to make things go just that much smoother, The bulls although intimidating went well and were quickly sorted off, following them we sorted the heifers off and put them in another pen then ran the cows back out into the pasture. The hard part was over, all that was left was to ride the horses back to the home place then drive the pickup and trailer back, load the bulls and dump them off at Folsom, my minds eye could see Houdini laid out cold after ramming the steel in our freshly re-enforced corner. Most certainly our patches were within grasp.

Will backed the trailer up to the old barn, there are a couple posts three feet from the building you back into, these posts have wood sides from them back to the building forming a short loading chute. Inside the barn is a long chute that funnels the bulls to the loading chute, we drive 6 of the twelve bulls up the chute,they lumber along giving no resistance, if I can not see them walking on the trailer I can hear them their feet hitting the aluminum decking. Will is first out the door, his cussing the first indication something has went awry, sticking my head out I see two bulls on the trailer, four lounging about free as birds. Damn.

One of the bulls evidently got his head between the post and the trailer and snapping it off at the base gained their freedom, things looked pretty grim. Our horses back at the big house we grab some white cattle sticks and start rounding them up, carefully. We get two in a pen, the third heads for the grove, Wills goes after him, then goes for his four wheeler,about this time Miss Connie shows up in her white Jeep I give a brief explanation of what transpired and she leaves, one red bull hops into the feed bunk, then slips thru the cables getting in with the heifers, great. Will is a little sore now and really gives the last one a good run for his money before chasing him back into the pen, gate shut we head off for Shaky with our two remaining bulls. We feel our patches slipping away.

Will turns and grinning tells me it was Houdini slipped in with the heifers, that S.O.B.

It is a mile to Folsom, we pull in the yard, I get out of the truck just in time to see a big black bull step out of the trailer, Oh Oh. Quickly I go back to peak in the trailer thru it's gaping open back gate, another Oh Oh, bull number two ain't in there. I look down the long lane to see him standing dazed in the middle of it, to make matters worse right across the lane to the north Mert's cows are coming to the fence to check him out, all we need is for him to skip thru that fence and have his way with with them. About this time Miss Connie no doubt feeling guilty about driving off from the trailer house farm in our hour of need pulls up to survey the scene in her white Jeep then thinking the better of it drives off again this time without even rolling down her window. I can only assume she felt not only were we lost, but that she couldn't save us.

Well we sucked it up and got everything put right, the bull jumped from the trailer appeared no worse for it although when we pulled out we could see a pretty impressive slide mark in the gravel where he hit..Mert's cows seemed disappointed, thank God it wasn't Houdini on the lane, surely he would have put a big dent in Mert's breeding program before we got him out.

I got on the cell phone and told Audrey to not worry, she wasn't going to have to stay up tonight sewing patches. So close, so close, yet so far away.

I thank you for listening, Roy Gage

Christmas 93

At 56 I guess it is time to try to organize my thoughts, record some of my joggings in a orderly fashion. I have been writing now since 93, before that time I don't think I ever recorded a story or clear thought on paper.

I always waited till the last moment to buy my parents or for that matter anyone else gifts. Often it would end badly, a mad plunge through the stores finally in desperation buying something they didn't need or could not or would not use.

As I looked through a book store in Spencer Iowa it started to eat at me, how wrong it was to shop in this manner, how much more my mother deserved, how I could never find anything in this store worthy of her. Of how much she had done for me, how much she had sacrificed. I made my purchase and went home but the thought haunted me. I felt feelings I had not before and words and phrases seemed to come to me, finally I could stand it no more, alone at home I gathered up a loose piece of paper and started scribbling. When I was finished I cried like baby. It should be edited and corrected, have some phrasing changed, but I believe I will leave it stand warts and all.

Christmas 93

So it's Christmas, and I give you two books.I went shopping and looked and looked, and in the end I bought you two books.

As I looked I thought of all you have given me and nothing I saw was good enoughThought of all the times I've done less then the best and you bit your tongue.

Of the times you read me poems when I was young from index cards no less.

I know at times I'd get in trouble and seemed to never listen, I know I didn't listen well enough.But many times the Devil was pulling at my sleeve when I would ask myself,”what would Mom think" and I would turn away.

Yes, I guess you beat the Devil and didn't even know ,so, I bought you two books.

When I am older in the winter of my life and my children ask of me”what do you want for Christmas Dad?”I will smile and say, Two books bring me for Christmas, and set them on the shelf.

And then come sit beside me and and tell me how you have been. Tell me your troubles and I will coax you on. Tell me your successes and I will cheer you on.If your doing something you shouldn't I'll bite my tongue and and give you that look.

Cause that's the way your Grandma taught me and for her trouble she got two books.

Love Roy