Will you let deaths door remain open?

 

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Death:

Noun
The action or fact of dying or being killed; the end of the life of a person or organism.
An instance of a person or an animal dying.

So cold, callous and final is death, therefore the definition holds no particular glamour, no allure or promise of grandeur. Blunt and to the point, finality, end of subject.

But what death really means is so much more to those affected by its looming presence. Opening deaths door scars you emotionally; death leaves one wondering how, or why? What could this person have done differently changing the course of history, altering this ones “end of days?”

Death means nothing to those who are gone, but means so much to all who are left behind.  Family members grieve, friends despair, acquaintances wonder what can be done to support those in anguish. A circle of emotional extremes travels through anyone and everyone who ever spoke the name of the deceased.  And that’s ok, its how we process the loss of a being we will never lay eyes upon again. That in and of itself is truly hard to comprehend.

All living things have an expiration date. Its like the elephant in the room. We know it’s there yet we refuse to talk about it.  I surmise the only reason it’s so hard to wrap our minds around is because our expiration date is unknown. We walk through life as though we can live forever yet in reality our next step could very well be our last. This alone could and should leave even the faintest of hearts terrified!  For the smallest of acts such as opening a window to the outside world  may lead to ones own extinction .

But in reality fear of death or someone dying unexpectedly doesn’t leave the majority of us human beings terrified at all. Sure we wonder about it, the where’s, why’s and how’s but it doesn’t stop us in our tracks, leave us helpless, lying on the floor in the fetal position. Why, because we have been bestowed with a phenomenal gift! A gift so great we should all be grateful for obtaining its possession! That gift?

Memories.

Memories are amazing! I as most, have lost a few people I cared deeply about in my life and what astounded me personally was the flood of wonderful memories after their passing.  Its strange really, many of those memories were completely forgotten about until after my loved ones/friends death.  Hundreds of fantastic, laughter filled, teary eyed, warm and comforting memories! The human brain continues to baffle me with its amazing complexity and instantaneous ability to work in the right way at exactly the right time.  Combine that with a few good friends/family members, some wine and a photo album or two and stand back! Not a dry in the house and laughter combined with a strange reaction known as smiling will ensue! Does it replace a good old-fashioned hug from someone you love? No. But I bet you remember some of the nicest hugs you ever received from that person.  Does it replace sipping a cool drink while partaking in an awesome conversation with the recently deceased? Nope, not a chance! But I guarantee your memory will allow you to lay in bed at night fondly remembering long conversations from evenings past?

Listen I am not saying memories are a perfect cure-all for an aching heart.  It hurts to lose someone! It hurts deep inside, it hurts on the outside and for a period of time it feels as though the pain may never go away.  But instead of letting the finality of deaths definition eat away at your soul; choose to remember, not forget. Choose to laugh and smile chasing away the effect left you by the grim reapers blackened robe. Let memories take ahold and guide you through the darkness into a place of light and understanding. A place where even though they had nothing to do with the timing of their passing you can forgive them for being gone, still love them for what they brought into your life and cherish ever single wonderful memory you have to reflect upon time and time again.

Remember; everyone, no matter who they are had a redeeming quality! Never at one wake, one funeral, one celebration of life have I heard a single person stand up to eulogize the deceased and say: “place-name here” was a god damn son of a bitch! I hated that bastard so much I am glad they are dead!

So grab those memories, smile and remember; celebrate all of their life experiences no matter how big, no matter how small, remember they loved you as well and in the end remember most of all how lucky you are to have spent what ever time the good lord afforded you with that person.  Our time here isn’t promised, we should never ever sweat the small stuff, tomorrow may never come and memories last forever.

DEATH nor its meager definition can take that away from any of us.

 

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In memory of Grandmother Rosemary

One of the few women I have ever met who lived life on her own terms and could flow into a room effortlessly while stealing the show with poise, grace, intelligence and kindness.  May she rest in peace…..

 

 

 

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A road of regret, remains a road to be traveled

 

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As a young lad (birth-14 years of age) I wandered through life pretty much afraid of my own shadow.  If you challenged me to attempt some feat of greatness, my heart rate would quicken, cold sweat would drop from my pores and my body would slowly move backwards, quietly exiting the room unnoticed.  A period of time passed where I was so gifted at being one with the group that my great Houdini disappearing act would completely go unnoticed. Group would participate, I would disappear, group would reassemble, I would reappear and all would believe that I too had partaken. Mission images-3accomplished!

I don’t know why I was this way, some say it was fear of failure, others believe it was fear of rejection and then there is a feeling of possibly not fitting in with a group of your peers. As an adult who can look back upon this period of my life with an objective eye, it seems to me the fear of embarrassment for not doing well or having someone poke fun afterwards is what kept me over in the corner praying not to be noticed.

Either way, my unwillingness to participate in anything of substance left me stuck in a strange mental place.  My inner Betty would scream a not yet coined Nike catch phrase of JUST DO IT!!!  But self-preservation mode would always overpower even the slightest inkling of actually following through on anything.

As I grew into my late teens-early 20’s I took a very drastic turn the other direction! But instead of trying new challenges of substance, I slowly became the poster child for foolishness!  To this day I am surprised my parents even claim me as their own.  Instead of dwindling into the corner of a room I became the mouthpiece for the entire room and the room next door.  My personality had changed to the point if I was not front and center, the focal point of attention, a moment of chaos would be created allowing you to notice little old me! images-5

Once again looking back from the perspective of an adult. I had become Marty McFly. Dont you dare call me chicken! Dare me to do doughnuts with my truck in the high school parking lot! Go ahead, dare me! You don’t think my truck can do 120 mph? Dare me, go ahead! images-2Whats that there’s a party tonight on the other side of town and I am grounded for a week! Dare me to steal my own truck, push it down the driveway after sneaking out and join the fun without getting caught! Heck I don’t even care about getting caught anyways, so dare me! Just Unknowndare me! Are you kidding me, you think that girl is out of my league! Dare me to go over and talk to her! Chicken you say, did you just call me chicken! Nobody calls me chicken! (By the way, got my nose relocated a few times as I was never a very good fighter)

Now with this new-found attitude came a side effect that as a child/teenager I had never intended.  I alienated many good, long time friends, I hurt the feelings of many other very close friends and I hurt some family members feelings. All of which I regret greatly to this day. I was kicked out of my high school, let back in and almost kicked out images-4again. My mouth almost always wrote checks my personality couldnt cash and I am pretty sure I drove my parents to alcoholism. Yes, I was that kid. If there was a story to be told, well I told! (sometimes with a great deal of embellishment) If there was a joke to be played, I played it! If there was a covert mission to take part in well then “Good morning Mr. Phelps”! I wanted, no I needed to be front and center if that didn’t happen then I acted like a little jerk! A little jerk that had just been called chicken!

My 20-30’s something happened. I calmed down just a bit and some of the wall flower came back in.  I found myself still wanting to prove something, to someone, anyone, so my mouth was regularly engaged in self promotion. The problem was there was no back fill! At no point and time could I bring myself to actually finish many challenges my mouth had started!

Example:

  1. Tried saddle bronc riding. Loved it, but was too scared to compete. Big regret!
  2. Could have purchased my own truck and started my own company. Looked at one financing option. threw up my hands and quit! Big Regret!
  3. Raised my own cows for two years, could have grown the operation but instead, got scared and quit! Big Regret!
  4. Wanted to live on my own longer in my early 20’s. Got scared of being alone. Big Regret!
  5. Joined the military, was promised a certain job, when I didn’t get it, I walked away, even though I had already been through MEPS and was waiting to swear in. Big Regret!
  6. I have owned over 20 motorcycles in my life. My goal was to travel the United States on one of those bikes. Yet I could never bring myself to plan a trip! A regret I hold to this very day!
  7. Plenty of chances in my early youth to travel to Europe on the cheap. Was terrified of the unknown. Regret!
  8. Three times in my youth I could have gone sky diving. One of my biggest fears is jumping out of a perfectly good airplane! Excuses abounded for those three times, all while speaking of how easy sky diving would be! (except for just recently when offered I really/honestly could not make the date) Regret!

Everyone has regrets from their youth, these were just a few of mine. The difference is I was continually my own worst enemy.  Always talking up the subject with no substance to back the proposal.  As I reached my 30’s though life and my attitude really started to even out.  The temper sub-sided ( you could call me chicken and I wouldn’t be offended), my personality had tempered just a bit. The latter half of my 20’s was filled with successes, the early part of my thirties was filled with growth, personal tragedy, more growth and knowledge.  My life was really coming full circle and I now felt there wasnt as much to prove to anyone.

Moving into my 40’s and challenges were around me everyday, I no longer shrank into the back of the room or stood out front pounding my chest screaming look at me! I pick new challenges one at a time and do my very best to create some form of accomplishment! It has been a very rewarding decade so far.  Sounds great right? Like I should be very proud of where my life is headed. The problem?

Two things. First, I now feel as though I have an enormous list of personal challenges to accomplish and I am running out of time. I am also finding new activities that I love so much I wish they had been discovered in my 20’s so I could thrive at them for another 40 years! Second. I now see the very same issues I had as a young lad in one of my sons. He is struggling to find himself, and in doing so is traveling head first down the same road of disappointment his father traveled so many years ago.  There is nothing I can do to stop him for he is every bit as head strong and stubborn as the old man himself! We have talked, I have warned him, given him examples of my failures and successes and yet away he goes! It’s like watching a semi-truck plowing straight towards a stalled school bus and knowing there is nothing you can do to halt the inevitable destruction that shall ensue from a collision.

As one parent to many others the point of my long-winded tale is this; How do we get our children to experience life, listen to advice and learn from their successes and failures without repeating the same horrible mistakes of our youth. Or do we sit back and just watch the bus crash, hoping we can triage the incident successfully afterwards?

Anyone? Beuller, Beuller, Beuller……….

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Easter=A pony?

 

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Ah Easter, a morning filled with love, thanks, celebration, the lord Jesus Christ has risen from the dead, eggs, candy, the Easter Bunny and; a pony????

Oh yes you heard right, its hard enough explaining year after year the significance of the fabled Easter bunny in conjunction with Jesus. But now a pony tossed in for total scalp scratching confusion? A bonified four-legged, pudgy bellied, mane and tail swishing Verne Troyer (that’s Mini-me from Austin Powers) of the horse world!

Eggs hidden by a sadistic Hallmark Holiday bunny hell-bent on total chaos, confusion and holiday candy domination is one thing! But a pony? How does that fall into the swirling contradictions that is Easter? Eggs=Bunny, Candy=Baskets, Jesus rising from the dead=salvation, yeah see those all make sense! What does a pony equate too in all this and will said pony need to make a reappearance every year? I have questions damn it, there is nothing in the “dad” rule book that states at some point, during some Easter a pony will arise for a chosen one within the family unit!

This morning started out like every Easter from years gone by. The wife and I awoke to the sounds of scampering feet around 0530! Now mind you it is an act of GOD to awaken these children on a school day, or for church, or an earthquake, tsunami or any other natural-manmade disaster known to plague the human race! Yet on one of the two days a year their little nuclear clocks seem to keep perfect time (the other one being Christmas of course-Jesus’s birth) they are up, bright-eyed and bushy-tailed as though doing so is a daily occurence and our looks of astonishment are a bit degrading! But up they are, like a treasure hunter, looking, digging, scavenging for candy! All was going swell, baskets recovered children were gorging, the wife and I were sipping coffee from our newly acquired Keurig (another story) when lo and behold the littlest one Parker finds a note in the bottom of his basket that reads; Parker, Happy Easter look outside! Now being one who lives for intrigue and loves surprises, I bolted straight up moving the little bugger aside to see what could possibly be outside our backyard picture window!

Could it be a new car, I pondered? No ridiculous, the lad is only 8! Could it be a new bike? No, No he just got a new bike at Christmas. As we moved closer to the back room, anticipation rose! Parker says excitedly; I know what it is! A UFO filled with candy from another planet! Man that is a good one, I reply! Finally we make it to the window, and just as Parker is about to look outside, his brother Jake grabs him, shielding his eyes while opening the back door! Jake asks Parker very calmly, are you ready?  A solid YES is blurted out and Parkers eyes are uncovered. Standing there amongst a backyard ripe for egg plucking is a reddish/white, hay burning pooping pony!

Parker jumps up and down! The kids jump up and down, the dogs jump up and down! I slowly retreat back into the kitchen, pour myself another cup of coffee and sit down.  images-5How does a pony equal Easter?  And further more how did that evil rabbit get a pony here without any kids finding it? The mysteries of the universe stand unbroken! My Elmer Fudd cap and shotgun are coming out of the closet.

The morning moves along just fine! I have steadied my nerves, accepting the newest member of our very large family! The wife and I are preparing everything, so we can start cooking Easter dinner on time for our guests. Its mid morning, the kids have all come down from their Easter candy high, some are lying in the hallway like crack addicts looking for the next fix while other are outside, using playtime and excercise to help combat the sugar hangover.  I sit down at my computer for a little “me” time when through the upstairs window I hear the very distinguishable sound of a sack of potatoes hitting the ground in conjunction with my daughter’s voice screaming; “run and get dad!” (this can’t be good)

images-3Walking out the back door I am met by Jake who proceeds to tell me Parker was thrown from his pony! Apparently when mom says: hey honey why don’t you go outside and make friends with your new pony. That means to a country kid who has been riding since he was 5; go out, saddle your horse, but don’t tighten up the cinch all the way and for heaven’s sake try to ride without a bit using only a halter! (you other country folk got this, for those who don’t I am sorry) Long story short, saddle slides down the ponies side during a lope, pony steps up to bucking, Parker land on its neck because he has no reins to hold, pony bucks and shakes, Parker hits the ground! Like P-90X- Easter just became EasterX!

Parker is last seen kicking dirt, walking towards the house, telling everyone he hurts and can’t move his head, all while looking every direction while yelling that he is never, ever, ever going to ride that dumb ole pony again! Yep score one for the Easter Bunny! Hurray! Loving the Easter vibe so far! whoo hoo, thank you lord may I have another!

Later in the afternoon, said pony is outfitted properly, mom takes a go on the little guyimages-2 and sure enough the pony is tame as tame can be.  Grandpa has a long talk with the young lad about getting right back up after falling off! Grandpa has a way of turning a stubborn boy around so we all mount up riding our own horses so Parker doesn’t feel alone. Then slowly, carefully he puts his keester back in the saddle, settles in and the two of them ride off into the sunset! After several turns in the arena he is last over heard proclaiming: I love you pony, you and I are gonna be best friends.

Ahhh Easter restored, my faith in Easter happiness renewed, my Elmer Fudd cap put away as now I wont have to hunt down that rascally rabbit and make him pay for ruining Easter Sunday.

Now, I still havent figured out how a pony fits into the grand scheme of Easter but at this point I don’t care, watching my son lope his new buddy around an arena smiling ear to ear warms even the coldest of Hallmark holiday hearts…

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Happy Easter Everyone