Things I realized

It’s not the things you know

There are several events which are inescapable in anyone’s life barring some unfortunate or unforeseen circumstances. Some are positive events to be celebrated, like graduating college or high school, getting married, the birth of a child, etc. Some are negative and cause great grief such as the loss of a loved one, a divorce, loss of a career, etc. However, out of any of the events that fit either description, the things that stand out in my memory are not the notions or ideas that I had entering into the event but rather the things I now know because I’ve experienced it. We all think we know how our lives will go; we all think we know about things that have yet to happen to us. Truth is, none of us know until it happens.

Planning for a negative event is futile

Recently, my father passed away after a short but intense battle with cancer. While his health had been largely declining over the last few years of his life for myriad reasons, his diagnosis came both as a surprise and a shock. The speed at which it progressed and ultimately claimed his life seems astounding now that it’s over. When the diagnoses came, we went through all the normal anguish and “what ifs” that happen to anyone else. For me, many of these were exaggerated because I live a good distance from my parents and have for many years. I was not capable of being there or really helping in any way other than offer to moral support due to my own commitments and distance. My plan had been that i would drop everything and move home at the moment I was needed. However, that requires the proper chain of events to happen in the appointed order and it just wasn’t that way. The best I could do was to take some extended visitation time and be there for my parents for the time I could. But, in no way did my series of actions resemble my plans.

Say “I love you”………A LOT!

Seems like such a simple thing, doesn’t it? We have never been reserved as a family about saying “I love you” to one another but even so there comes a day when you will feel like you didn’t say it enough. There are few words in the English language that can continue to have the same power every time they’re said no matter how much they’re said but these are three. I am proud that these were the last words I was able to say to my father. I meant them every time I said them, I mean them even more now in his absence.

What are you waiting for?

The sum of the experience for me on a personal level is that we are born with a certain amount of time to accomplish all that we plan and conceive. The kicker is that we don’t have any way of knowing how long that time is. For my father, his time ran out in his mid-70’s. I hope to have at least as long but the truth is that I don’t know at all how much time I have left and neither does anyone else. Bearing that in mind, it seems as if waiting on some arbitrary condition or timing for an opportunity to fulfill a dream or accomplish a goal is a fruitless pursuit. I am not guaranteed any more time than the last second I counted and I have plenty of things I still want to experience and do. If I’m waiting on someone or something else, I may only be ensuring that I’ll never do anything about them.

I imagine I will be coping with and grieving Dad’s passing for some time to come and I known that I have to deal with this in my own way as do my Mom and brothers. However, I also believe that I have to learn from what’s happened as it is my last way to honor my Father.

My Father, My ……

So, on this Father’s Day (June 15, 2014), I wanted to write something about my Dad that would encapsulate all that he has meant and does mean to me. It’s hard to do so in a few lines and may even be difficult to do in a few paragraphs. But, it still is something that means a lot to me to put it in words because I don’t feel that I have done enough of that.

My Father, my provider And playmate

As a young child, my father worked all kinds of different jobs. My earliest memories are of living in San Antonio, Texas and that he was gone pretty much all the time except at night. I don’t remember much other than he was always in a uniform of some kind and always tired but when he was home, we used to have so much fun playing together. It was my father that turned me on to bowling and football. We spent Saturday afternoons watching the Professional Bowler’s Assocation on ABC Wide World of Sports (man, that thing hasn’t been around for a while now) and Sundays watching Dallas Cowboys football games. Dad took me out with him to his bowling nights and we would go afterwards to a place called Capparelli’s Pizza (no idea if it’s even around anymore).

my father, my mentor and leader

Between my kindergarten and first grade years, we moved to Abilene, Texas. We were living with my maternal grandparents (R.I.P. Mam-maw and Pap-paw, I still love and miss you both dearly). While we moved into a house shortly afterwards, I remember Dad always worked just as hard at whatever job he might have been doing. Sometimes he (and Mom too) were working day and night. But, when Dad was home, he was definitely the man of the house and was the unquestioned leader. That’s not to discount Mom’s leadership role (which was just as strong) but Dad was Dad and we knew it. Dad was stern with my brother and I but always still found time to play with us doing jigsaw puzzles, board games, and many other things. I wanted to be like him, he was so strong and nothing seemed to bother him (except us kids of course).

my father, my enemy

As with most kids, Dad isn’t always the kind, gentle, benevolent individual of lore. When I was a teenager, Dad and me fought, sometimes daily. I was growing up and Dad was growing old. What I didn’t see at the time is that some of this was just normal coming of age behavior for me and Dad learning to accept me as my own person. Although the fights became very intense at times, I never doubted that Dad loved me very much and I loved him too. But we had a very adversarial relationship for most of my teen years, something I would later regret monumentally.

My father, my friend

As I finished high school and began to make my own way, my Dad was of ultimate support. He never really held my hand but I never doubted that I had a place to go and somewhere to hide. I stayed with my parents off and on into my mid-20’s and I am forever grateful that I had that time to decide how I wanted to handle my life. More than any other single thing, it was something I wanted to be able to say for my own children, if and when I had them, is that I would always do that for them. I don’t know if he WANTED to have me into my late 20’s, but if he didn’t want to, he kept pretty quiet about it.

Now, after having lived on my own and away from family for 20+ years, had my own family, and struggled to meet the daily requirements, I appreciate more than ever what my father did for me. I know that not every thing was right, and many things I thought were wrong were not. I know every day that I have a father that loves me even when it seemed like he didn’t and I know that I love my father, even when I thought I didn’t.

Dad, I know I don’t say it enough but I love you with all my heart and would have wished for no different. It was and has been as it was supposed to be and if I were to choose a father over again, I’d still choose you.

A Mother Is Like No Other

A mother is more than just a female parent or guardian. A mother is the first person that we have contact with as a child, and, for most of us, is caretaker, comforter, and food source for the first few months. A mother, even more than just physical, undergoes an amazing metamorphosis starting with the pregnancy and culminating with the rest of her life.

I think about what my mother was and is to me. While growing up, she was usually the first line of contact concerning anything to do with anything at all. She fixed my boo-boos, she soothed my feelings, she made my food, washed my clothes, read my report cards (and promptly forwarded them to Dad when a good ass-beating was in order), and resolved conflicts between my brother and I. She was the queen of the castle, the handmaiden of the house, the referee of the field, the chef of the dining hall, and the magistrate of discipline.

Of course, her role in my life changed as I grew older and more independent but most of the above things never changed. They only morphed into a new responsibility set for her and presented new challenges for her to face while doing so. She had the benefit of my older brother to forge some experience, but my brother and I are two different people so I was still very much like learning a new job with new rules.

When I became an adult, my mother was still very much a part of my life but more as a friend and confidant and less as an authority figure. Of course, she still had some kick-ass  in her arsenal if needed, but she didn’t use it much as she was gracious and patient enough to have found other ways to handle me. I was quite a hot mess as a young adult and I am sure I was no walk in the park to handle, but handle me she did.

As a parent now myself, I think about what things must have been like for her. Times were very different as were moral/societal standards and levels of interference from outside sources. My girlfriend is a new mother (and handling the job admirably) and I see what she deals with concerning our 3 month old son. It’s an all-consuming job; there are no reprieves.

Mom, I don’t know how much to say to say “Thank you” for being my mom, but what ever it might be, it will never be enough to express the gratitude I have and the pride I feel for having had the express and unique privilege of being your youngest son. I love you more than words could ever say and wish you an outstanding Mother’s Day and hope that you know that you will always be with me, even when we can’t be together for the day.

Sometimes you wake up……….

There are days when I wake up and things seem 100% normal. Nothing happens out of place, but nothing extraordinary happens either. All is as I expected, quiet, normal, and even a bit boring. Even with a new son my life is pretty predictable and I have a pretty good idea about what is going to happen from day to day, minute to minute.

Other days, I wake up and have realized that not only is everything not the way I thought it was, I realize that some things really suck. I see a situation where maybe I’m doing for others who are not willing or never were willing to reciprocate. I am the type of person who enjoys bringing something to the situation if I’m a part of it that will make others who are also a part of it enjoy the situation more. Most days, I like to think that other people are like this too but on those days when I wake up and smell the coffee, I see that this isn’t so.

Some people are wired to always receive more than they give. It’s not to say that they don’t  give at all, or that they don’t give considerably, but they will never reciprocate in the way that I give. It’s not that they mean to, or that they are setting out to somehow cause me pain, but it is the net result. Talking about it is worthless as the concerned parties become nothing but defensive and that is even worse.

I don’t know if there is a solution, I won’t change who i am, and they likely won’t change who they are. I just somehow with the score would even up a little without me having to force the issue.