The High Road

 

He stands alone casting gaze upon the widening abyss. Cold, tired and isolated he feels a chill, not of weather setting in around him but for the emotion stirred within. A crooked smile lay’s limply upon his weathered wrinkled face; eyes gleaming from beneath his furrowed brow.

Fists have slowly unfurled, his jaw still aches from what feels to be a month of clenching. Pressure still rides down his back from bearing the weight of sadness, anger, betrayal, hatred and torment yet upright he stands, assured in his resolve.

The road up was scattered with multiple obstacles to climb and overcome. Feeling his patience wane, he struggled yet continued moving forward. Moments came where silence was more than he could bear, yet bear it he did for those who depended upon him to finish his travel. Sleepless nights prevailed; emotions of both undeniable hurt and astonishment at the desperation of spirits left him exhausted. He slipped a time or two but thanks to uplifting thoughts and prayers he never truly faltered. Because of this he knew making it to the top was the only option, even when doubt crept in telling him to stop.

So there he stands, alone casting gaze upon the widening abyss. Having taken the high road he feels immersed in the importance of true friendship, love and patience. Before turning upon heels, climbing back down, he pauses a moment to pray for those either unwanting or unwilling to reach the summit. Hoping someday they reconsider this decision, allowing them a second chance at making the climb and spiritual liberation. It’s a quiet moment of self reflection and hope.

Those who feed upon chaos will inevitably perish during their own frenzy.

Betty…

</

Advertisements

A Revelation

Today I spent the better part of the afternoon looking forward to settling in to write something humorous.  Feeling the need for a little laughter in my life opened my eyes to numerous opportunities as I traveled about.  Many ideas floated around in my dome, so funny were some, I was seen standing alone laughing out loud like a crazy person on the subway. Not a bad thing really, I think it’s a benefit to keep people off guard sometimes.

It felt as though my brain was on fire! Smile across my face, grinning from ear to ear, I could hardly keep my enthusiasm to blog under wraps. It seemed an eternity before the keys of my computer were clacking beneath my finger tips!  Writing keeps me sane and this was my moment of pure laughter ridden sanity, waiting to unfold!  I sat down at my desk with a hot cup of tea, cracked my knuckles and gazed upon my carelessly scribbled notes of hysterics.  Then something occurred to me, hitting my brain like a ton of bricks! I was rocked to the core, my eyes darted across the desk top searching for my calendar, hoping praying I was wrong.  It just couldn’t be, nope, no way!  I really didn’t need this right now!  Pure selfishness on my part really..  But I knew it was true, I could sense it, I could feel it, the pit of my stomach hurt and I began to feel nauseous.  It doesn’t matter how many years go by, its always there to remind me, to haunt me, to let me know how quickly life can change.  Everything changes in the blink of an eye and there is nothing any of us can do about it.

Back in time we go:

March 22 2001

A day like any other, right? What I didn’t know was this would be the last day I would ever have a normal conversation with my wife again.  It was the last time we went about our business like all married couples will.  Off to work, off to daycare for the boys, off to school for me.  Dinner with the family, small talk before bed, studying for me, snuggling with the baby for her. It was another average some might even say boring day.  Something I took for granted all to often. Something I think we all take for granted “all to often”.

March 23 2001

I awoke early and headed off to school, I kissed my wife on the cheek and told her I loved her.  She mumbled good luck on your test and I love you, it was the last time I would ever hear her voice.  It was the last interaction with recognition that would ever transpire between the two of us. Little did I know what test she really was referring too. It was and has been the hardest test of my life.

She had the day off and was going on a trip to the park with our oldest, the newborn and some friends.  I was in class preparing to take an exam when I received the call.  A friend of ours, with her at the park called me, panicked, nervously explaining that my wife was on the ground complaining of severe chest pain.  “She just wants to go home” was exclaimed; our friend didn’t think that was right. Little did she know how right she was!  I remained calm performing a quick assessment over the phone, quickly advising her to hang up with me and call 911!  If she didn’t do it I was going too!  I had the day off work for class, so it was my Engine Company that arrived on scene.  My guys took care of her, my guys accompanied her to the hospital, my guys made the call, reporting everything they knew directly to me. My guys were suffering too.

And so started a 19 day odyssey of emotion, heart-break, self discovery, unity, hope, and finally complete destruction of what I thought was my life.  Kimberly Nadine perished on April 10 2001 after a hard-fought battle against a failing heart.  That very moment started a journey that woke me up sending me on my way.  It was the test of my life and I am still living that test to this day.

A promise made, a promise kept…..

I promised Kim I would never forget those 19 days, I also promised I would never forget the ten years we spent together, using them as a lesson learned in how not to be a husband.  I was selfish, self-centered, egotistical and a generally a poor excuse for a spouse.  Looking back I often wonder why she chose me. She tried her best to smooth the rough edges, but before finishing the job she was gone. This left me looking into the eyes of our children, seeing her and wondering why. So I’ve made a point to never forget, every year it comes, on this day I keep my promise.  To hold that in perspective one must remember, It’s hard to take a scar and never let it heal.  To pick at the wounds of those lost until they bleed.  But I continue to do this, as a reminder of what it takes to be a better person.  The person I felt she always wanted me to become.  I kept a detailed journal over the 19 days at Stanford hospital.  On this day every year I take a moment to myself, pick up the journal I kept, let it fall open and read an entry from what ever page appears.  In 11 years the same page has never revealed itself twice.  I read it, I remember, I go through sadness, anger, and eventually peace.  It’s difficult to do, it leaves a lump in my throat, and sometimes depending on the page, it leaves me weeping.  Not for the fact she perished, not for the fact she is not here to see her children, but for the unknown.  I will never know what she felt, or how she suffered.  But I carry a fair idea due to my medical knowledge. I will never know if she gave up because I told her it was ok to go, letting her know I understood if she wanted to quit fighting.  She fought really hard through two failed operations, the odds were stacked against her.  I knew it, the doctors knew it, no one wanted to verbally say it! After I whispered it was ok, and told her I loved her I stepped out of the room to gather myself and bring her mom in to see her.  It never happened, ten minutes later she went into cardiac arrest and died.  I will never know if she heard those words I wanted so badly to take back.  I will never know if she heard me say I love you one last time. Those images can never be erased from my head, images of her dead lifeless body lying there so peaceful at rest.  Cold…….

So that brings me to today.

My cheerfulness depleted, my humor erased.  I walked to my dorm and pulled out the books that hide my journal.  In goes the good air, out goes the bad.  Head pounding, weight of a rough week on my shoulders, eyes already misting, I hold the book ever so gently as to not influence the fall of pages.  It opens…  Here is the page it fell upon.

It’s not the greatest, I wrote it 11 years ago, tired, exhausted and emotionally spent.

April 22, 2001

Its been 12 days since you’ve gone.  I am lonely and tired.  Caring for both boys by myself is exhausting.  I never realized how much I took your hard work for granted.  I promise to never do that in a relationship again.  Someday I think I will publish this journal, not just for the boys, but for all men in America.  My eyes have been opened and I feel that many as I was are walking around blind.

I want every man in America to learn these lessons now and not the hard way as I have! It’s too painful, and though many will have to learn them the hard way maybe, just maybe if one listens it will make a difference.

Men in America need to understand what true love is:

True love is not sex

True love is holding hands, not because you have to, but because you want too.

True love is knowing when to look deep in her eyes and tell her its going to be OK.

A true loving marriage does not consist of coming home to find your laundry done, your meal cooked and a warm bed to sleep in, that’s called having a maid.

True love is finding a free minute during the day to remind her you love her, and not just with words, but with actions, for they speak volumes.

True love is telling her you love her every morning, you never know when it will be your last.

True love is watching the mother of your children beam with pride at the sight of your children.

True love is never, ever going to bed angry.

True love is sitting at the breakfast table with a cup of coffee listening.  Even though you have some place else you should be and something you want to say, just listen.

True love is letting her sleep while you take care of the kids. Not just once in a while, but on a regular basis.  They are your children too.

True love is standing back and marveling at how much one person can accomplish in your absence.  Then letting the other know how much you appreciate the effort by performing the exact same way in her absence.

True love is never losing interest, marriage isn’t easy but if you can just call her once or twice a day to listen,talk, and remind her how much you love her, your relationship will flourish.

It’s a wonderful life.

I am remarried with two more children for a total of four, as most of you know who follow my blog.  When I read my journal entry today I was fully expecting my annual tear fest to start storming and yet I realized something halfway through the page.  I have accomplished all of these snippets.  Every single one of them!  I kept my promise!  I kept it, I kept my word and I have a relationship that I never take for granted.  I am blessed, I am whole, my family is one.

In life we are often faced with difficult insurmountable obstacles that are placed in our paths of growth and exploration.  But overcome them we will, with perseverance, and will power.  Remembering who we are, where we come from and trusting in where we are going.  I never in my life thought at 34 I would be widowed with two kids.  It was a hard and bumpy ride, I pray I am never in that position again. It would have been a shame had I not learned from the experience.  But I came away from it stronger and wiser than before, able to give and receive love without question.  To trust and believe that lives can be rebuilt, relationships forged.  To get up off the floor dust myself off and start all over again. Death is never easy for anyone under any circumstances.  Some lessons are learned the hard way. It’s just the way it is…..

Remember life is a gift for you to cherish.  Dont waste it.  For all you know tomorrow is your last day.  How do you want to be remembered?

Coming to terms.

I apologize if todays posting is a bit of a ramble……

People die every day what are you gonna do about it?

I have held this quote very close to my chest. In my line of work we see people in the worst situations perish on a regular basis. I dare say I have seen more people die than I have friends living. It is a hard thing to witness, it doesn’t get easier with time, your mind just chooses to find alternate ways to deal with images left behind. I have always chosen humor. Humor when in the right context can take the edge off any situation. Even when that situation is beyond our control.

Humor, yep that’s what works every time… except for today. My dad has been falling down a lot lately, and though that might not seem a big deal, when you are 75 with diabetes, a pace maker and multiple stints a fall can quickly become a very scary event. He has been withering away for many years, as he once stood 6 feet tall at a robust 250-300 pounds. He now tips the scales a 165 with a towering height of 5’8. Osteoporosis along with a multitude of medications keeping him alive have definitely taken their toll on my fathers well-being. It seems the falls were all indicative of a larger problem, as it couldn’t be any other way.

Sit down I can take it

Doctors report is in, it seems dads kidneys are failing (he has 50% function) and his cardiologist wants to replace the stents surrounding his heart. What does all this mean for him? He has some very tough decisions to make in regards to his health and future care. What does it mean for me? What does it mean for my kids? What does it mean for our friends?

It means eventually I will witness one more person perish from this earth. My dad. I have always realized a day will come when one or both of my parents will pass away, but it never seems like a real date. It’s that unknown, the boogie man in the closet, the sunset on the horizon you can never get too. But it’s there, its life’s dirty little secret. It may not happen for a year, it may not happen for 5 years, but when kidneys start down the road of failure its only a matter of time.

I am scared. I feel like a little boy whose emotions are raw. I am alone in a dark room without my blankie. I worry for my children, witnessing their first real experience with death. How will we handle it as a family? Making a negative seem positive sounds like a daunting task. What impression will this leave in their minds as I grow older? How do I reassure them I am not going anywhere for a while? Then I wonder what are they really going to remember of their grandfather?

My father is a tough man to be around sometimes. Stoic and silent about his personal affairs, we have never really seen eye to eye on anything. He can be loud and brooding when irritated. He yells first, apologizes later. You are always in the wrong until he determines you to be in the right. Even to this day it’s hard to find conversation we can share. I love you has never flowed freely from his lips yet somehow I know he does.

But for all his rough and jagged edges he is the reason I have a sense of humor. When the man was in his prime he could charm the parka from freezing Eskimos and sell sand to land owners in the Sahara desert. He was funny, people loved him, he was always in charge and the first to help when ever it was needed. He wanted you to like him but was never offended if he wasnt your cup of tea. When we strolled into his clubhouse he was “Norm” from Cheers. I marveled at how many people really enjoyed being around him. I have tried my hardest to emulate those qualities as an adult.

He worried day and night about my future and what would become of a half witt such as myself. What I took for anger and frustration was his way of saying I care. I wanted nothing more than to get out of that house as a teenager, yet my wife and I helped my parents put a house on our property. Life has come full circle. When something like this comes about we always end up wishing we could go back in time. Its ridiculous really, but if I could go back for just five minutes I would be 8 years old and we would play one more game of basketball. Standing in the dirt on a warm summers night, playing a good old fashioned game of HORSE. Nothing beat those nights throwing the ball at the basketball hoop attached to the telephone pole alongside our house. Why? Because I really just want to see him laugh while he snooker’s me with his famous “hook” shot.

So what is my point? Where am I going with all this doom and gloom? Why am I rambling about events I have no control over? Its like this, sometimes the horizon isn’t the horizon anymore. It’s an actual place that you can reach, a destination once thought unobtainable now stares you in the face. No matter what you tell yourself, no matter how you go about your day, no matter what carnage you leave behind by your actions, and regardless of how deep you place your head in the sand.

People die everyday, what are you going to do about it means something. It means there is absolutely nothing you can do, so make the most of every moment, good bad or otherwise. Because someday that person will be someone you thought could never die. Then what are going to do? Huh?

When you find out please let me know. Ok?

I love you dad…

Versatile Blogger Award

I haven’t had an orthodox career, and I’ve wanted more than anything to have your respect. The first time I didn’t feel it, but this time I feel it, and I can’t deny the fact that you like me, right now, you like me!”

You really like me………

I have been nominated for the Personal Blogger Award by Vanessa Chapman http://vanessa-chapman.com 

This is an award bloggers award to each other as a way of showing appreciation for the blogs they enjoy. I am humbled and honored.

(I plagiarized the rules from Vanessa as I feel there is no reason to re-invent the wheel.)

The rules for accepting this award are as follows:

1. Thank the award-givers and link back to them in your post. Easy-Done

2. Share 7 things about yourself. Ok hope I don’t scare anyone, but easy-done.

3. Pass this award along to 15 other bloggers. Fail! Only could nominate 13! 😦

4. Contact your chosen bloggers to let them know about the award. Will let them know as soon as I’ve posted this

Seven things about myself;

  1. I am 45 years old and I can’t wait for retirement. When I refer to retirement it is not in the sense of me walking away from a career, gold watch in hand to sit on some god forsaken island, smoking pot until I die.  On the contrary, I cant wait to start the second half of my life.  To re-invent myself and live life twice.  I have had a stellar first half, the second half can only get better.
  2. I can walk into a burning building, rescue people from a crushed or damaged vehicle, repel off a 5 story building with confidence and walk under a ladder without fear of superstitious reprisal.  But I cannot, and I mean no way, no how can I stand being in the proximity of a spider.  Those eight legged little freaks get me every time.  You want to hear a full-grown 200 pound man jump and scream like a 6th grade school girl then toss a black widow my direction.
  3. My ability to tell the dimensions of something from sight are frustratingly astounding.  Spatial relations are my thing and I am borderline “rainman” about it.  Have a picture to hang, I can tell you one side is off 1/2 inch any direction just by looking at it.  Just had your new bookshelves installed, I am the guy who within 20 seconds of being in the room knows exactly where the carpenter “cheated” or “shorted” you on material.  It makes me crazy and it makes my friends crazy as well.
  4. Scary movies are stupid and a waste of time.  I laugh through them which annoys everyone.  I can tell exactly what is going to happen when it is going to happen. 
  5. 1950’s pin-up girls are awesome.  You can have your skinny, anorexic, vegan, boney butt tooth picks.  I like my women with natural curves, and clothing that leaves something to the imagination. 
  6. When I was 10/11 while walking up my long driveway (we lived in the country) a car pulled up with a creepy guy in it who asked me if I wanted a ride.  Then told me to get in the damn car. He had one hand on the wheel and one in his trousers.  Thank god I had enough sense to run.  I still have nightmares about that guy even at 45. 
  7. I am terrified I will fail as a father.  I put up a good front, but deep down inside I always feel as though failure is right around the corner.  It’s why I write this blog.  It allows me to laugh, vent, and share my experiences.  I can look back on it when I am feeling low and remind myself of all the good I have done with my children.  I know they will laugh looking back on all this as adults.

15 bloggers to pass this award along too.

Soshi-Tech- http://soshitech.com

More valuable information in one blog than should legally be allowed in the states of California and Utah.  Everyone else is OK!

A Detailed House- http://adetailedhouse.com

I love houses and the fine art of decorating them in some of the finest trim.  If you are a closet design geek such as myself who also thinks you can take on any project, than this is the blog for you. The photography is very well done also.

Raising a Realist- http://raisingarealist.com

Scott is a mild-mannered high school English teacher. This blog is his attempt to capture all of his daughters moments.  As a parent of four, I can relate with his tag line. “126 kids but only one will wipe my but when I am old”

Mayahood- http://mayahoodblog.com

Adventure seeker, world traveler turned mother.  She has a mixture of her views on motherhood along with guest posts.  It is an entertaining blog.

Bucket List Publications- http://lesleycarter.wordpress.com

This one is near and dear to me as it is a blog that completely follows the premiss of getting out there and doing all those things you keep putting off.  They even pick some of your bucket list suggestions and through donations make it happen for you.  It’s quite the premise and I enjoy reading it immensely

A Confederacy of Spinsters- http://confederacyofspinsters.com

This is one of my favorites!  Three women from Texas, each one taking a turn writing about life trials and tribulations all under pseudo names.  Grace, Mae and Kate.  Its is always witty, relevant and fun!  I look forward to new postings they way one waits at the window for a long-awaited package from UPS. 

Musings of a stay at home Jewish Father- http://stayathometatte.wordpress.com

Another blog dedicated to a male role model at home raising his child.  Its funny and real with great pictures as he chronicles the day-to-day life of a stay at home dad.

In My Opinion- http://diane-ownes.com

Diane is on a quest to ask a different, relevant question everyday for a year. Interesting concept and I find the answers entertaining.

Debut Dad- http://debutdad.wordpress.com

Brenden is a first time dad who lives in Australia.  He blogs about juggling the changes in his life with the birth of their first-born child. Good luck Brenden and keep em coming. 

Vanessa Chapman- http://vanessa-chapman.com

Vanessa nominated my blog,  and although she is already nominated I enjoy her blog and look forward to every new edition she puts forth.  From superstition to the purchase of a new pair of boots.  She is funny and I find her blog to be a good way to blow a little time at work! Ha!

365 trinkets- http://365trinkets.wordpress.com

This blog is a reminder of how much crap we accumulate as adults.  His mission? To get rid of 365 trinkets he has stored as treasured keepsakes over a 25 year period.  The blog revolves around taking pictures of each one (for memories sake) then getting rid of said item. 

maggiemaeijustsaythis- http://maggiemaeijustsaythis.wordpress.com

A blog dedicated to writing poetry and personal trials and tribulations.  I enjoy the freedom with which she expresses herself.

Take a shower- http://takeashower.wordpress.com

A blog about Eloise and the raising of her five children.  She writes about the past and present, reflecting on the moments in time with the raising of her five children.

I am sorry to say I only have 13 to nominate for this award.  I fail!  But the thirteen I have chosen I follow with great intent.  I enjoy many other blogs but they are new to my collection and I havent gotten the chance to know them well enough yet for a nomination. 

Vanessa you were right, I also anguished over my choices.

Retirement…

What is retirement?

Some view this as a magical time of elderly enchantment! A period of time that is often spoken about in private hush-hush circles. An assumed reward for years of hard work and exasperation resulting from the mounting pressures of day-to-day living both personally and professionally.  I prefer to see it as a magical island where old people go to feel young and appreciated.  Where drinks flow freely and dinner is served promptly a 5pm.  I can wear my finest to dinner and a sport jacket to breakfast! Where daily adventures keep me busy and I can relax in flip-flops and beachwear! Oh wait.. That’s a cruise?

Seriously though, what is retirement? It feels as though retirement is a sunset on the horizon.  It’s there, you know it’s there, you can see it with your eyes, but know matter how hard you try, run as fast as you can, you just cant seem to catch it!

But yet we are told constantly we need to prepare for “retirement”. Like Domesday preppers waiting for the great apocalypse we “elders” need to be prepared for every aspect of being retired (kicked out of the workforce)! What am I supposed to do? I am not some crazy whack a doo with an AK-47 and a five-year supply of yams in my basement!  There are no buried cans in my backyard filled with money and penicillin! I am not hoarding gold, and I don’t carry a money belt with specific details to my estate!

Yet, the sad thing is we are bombarded with commercials letting us know that it is right around the corner! And guess what buddy? You are not prepared sir! With the climbing deficit and poverty/unemployment at an all time high you have not adequately prepared yourself for the twilight of your life.  All of this got me to thinking maybe they are right!

Lifetime healthcare!I don’t have it!  Savings? Kids have it all while they are finishing up college! 401K ? Hey now that’s a dirty word in this household! We have PERS (Public Employee Retirement System)!  Ha ha ha ha ha! I laughed really hard typing that one! Thats ok I have social security to fall back on right?  AH NO!  As a public employee I dont recieve Social Security!  Well thank goodness I have an inheritance to keep me safe and secure right? No mummy and daddy left me nothing of monetary value.  Although I value what they gave me in life lessons learned.

What am I to do? WHAT THE HELL AM I TO DO!!! I am slowly starting to panick! Late night TV is not helping either! It has me watching Robert Wagner divulge the secret to reverse mortgages! Oh God! Wilfred Brimley has me worried about whether or not I am going to have diabetes! Oh Geez! Susan Lucci wants my skin to glow and Dan Marino wants me to eat using Nutri-system! Then there is Chuck Norris, him and Christie Brinkley just want me to stay in shape so I will live longer! Live longer? I apparently can’t afford my elderly pathetic lifestyle the way things sit now! Why would I want to live longer? But its Chuck Norris? I can’t possibly go against anything Chuck Norris says! I am doomed…..

So I am back to the root of my original question.  What is retirement? Lets put all the financial worries aside and focus on the question.  Really think hard now, what is retirement? I know there are many theories about what retirement means, and in todays ever-changing climate it takes on a different connotation depending on the individual.  But after many nights of lying in bed worrying about whether or not I am prepared for the day I “pull the pin” on my career I have come up with this explanation.

Retirement to me is the day I have decided to fulfil my own personal wishes!  The day I say thank you to the wonderful people I have spent the better portion of my life working alongside and walk off into a world where I am the boss.  A place where I report only to me.  (ok my wife too)! After working my entire life for someone else, after keeping my job and excelling at certain aspects of my career over a 25 year period.  I am going to walk away and find out who I really am.  I know it sounds corny, but having never gone to college, having never traveled the world in my early twenties, having always put everyone else first because it was the right thing to do! I don’t believe I know who I really am.  Writing this blog has helped me a lot in that department and I believe going to Haiti is also going to enlighten my thirst for self discovery. But I still feel the need to explore my brain a little deeper and find answers to many of my life’s little mysteries. I am going to work when I want to work and play when I want to play.  I am going to finish building a personal dynasty that says;I am Betty! One that my children and grandchildren can look back upon and say wow! Dad/Grandpa was freaking cool! He did it all and he did it his way!

Maybe it shouldnt be called retirement after all! Retirement is defined as: The act of retiring.  

  1. The state of being retired
  2. Withdrawl from ones occupation, work or office
  3. Withdrawl into privacy or seclusion
  4. The act of going away or retreating

I wish to do absolutely NONE of that! Ok Number 2 is a definite, but the rest of them, NO WAY!

Maybe it should be called: Retrospective rejuvenation?

Yeah! I can see the party now! The chief standing at our distinguished podium, recounting my many years of service, and closing his lengthy humbling speech with; we wish Betty God Speed heading off into the sunset and starting a new life of retrospective rejuvenation! Yeah it has a nice important sounding ring to it!

 

Retrospective: As I look back and recount all I have learned while carrying that knowledge forward into my future.

Rejuvenation: I am born again! It’s a whole new life. One that I will live and love until my untimely passing of exhausted happiness!

So I will no longer stress about retirement! I promise to put my crazy little A.D.D brain to rest knowing that its my life and with a little for sight I can ride of into retrospective rejuvenation land with my head held high, the wind at my back, and my brain shifted into full gear!  The world is my oyster!!!!!

Shoot, I didn’t budget for oysters in my retirement financial planner…..