Saturday, November 26, 2011
I am not a cat person. I don’t dislike them or anything like that but I am more of a dog guy. Give me a dog to roll on the floor with or throw the ball with in the yard and I am good to go. Dogs are goofy and slobbery. Cats are sedate, dignified and at times a bit aloof.
Mickey came into our lives six years ago. He replaced Jessica who’d been with us for over twenty years. Mickey was the first “non-stray” cat in our lives. Maggie got him from Animal Control after Jessica passed away. I believe each animal has a personality all its own. Mickey’s was diplomacy. He wasn’t a “jump on top of you, meow, meow let me lick you” cat. Mickey would creep up on my lap and would lay there all regal looking, simply purring. I’d find my hand stroking his back. After a bit whatever was bothering me was gone and so was Mickey.
Mickey didn’t like to be bothered. When he was ready to interact with you he would let you know. If you bent to pick him up and he wasn’t in the mood to be picked up he would bite you, shake his fur and walk away. I never found out what would happen if you tried twice. Mickey seemed to be the most confident of all creatures. He knew who he was, what his role was and didn’t try to ever force the issue.
A few weeks ago Mickey didn’t seem “right.” He was a bit lethargic, stopped eating and drinking regularly. His meow became weak. Yesterday we were told Mickey had pancreatic cancer that had spread to his lungs and lymph nodes. What the vets originally thought was asthma became a death sentence. This morning Joan and I took him to the vet, very early. I couldn’t stay in the room. Joan stayed till he went to sleep.
Mickey reminds me that the routine things in life are the things we take for granted most often. The Mickey’s who plop on your lap, provide comfort and relaxation are the things in life we suddenly miss the most when they are gone. My memory of him will be sitting in my office window anytime it was open, sunning and licking his fur.
Some days things seem to go from being so great to having this small cold hole, right in the center of your tummy. RIP my friend.
Thursday, November 24, 2011
You came because you were tired of being overweight or out of shape. Maybe it was those last ten pounds that separated you from a whole new world of clothes hopping. Maybe it was the because you were tired of needing oxygen when you walked up the stairs . Maybe it was a lot of things. But you came. Maybe you purchased The Spark, read it religiously, joined teams that suited your needs and made progress.
But, why did you stay? What keeps you coming back day in and day out? Many of you have reached your goals and gone on to be support to others like me. Many of you are like me and are still struggling after that first heady rush of success. Why are you here?
Come closer. I’ll show you.
Go to your Spark page and look at your buddy list. I don’t mean the cursory glance, I mean look at those beaming and often goofy faces. Each one of us has a story and a purpose in each other’s lives. Each of us sustains and fortifies each other on a daily basis. If you gave me truth serum I would tell you that you are as much a part of my life as anyone who will sit around the table and anesthetize themselves with turkey today. You fall into the category of “BFF.” I keep a binder with your wisdom to me in it. When the days get dreary and hard to take, I open it and I think of you and how much you care and give of the precious time you could devote to other endeavors. But you come here, like I do, and you help other people.
That’s why you stay. It’s part of your core belief system. It flows out of you naturally and sincerely and it puts you in the rarest of all groups. You love because you love. You love because you have felt how amazingly healing love can be and how it touches every dingy and dusty corner of your existence. God, however you perceive him or her to be gave you some very specific gifts or talents and you are using them. Maybe you’ll use them better in the future but you are learning as you go and you share that love, that encouragement with us and we are better for it.
When someone asks me to define true spirituality or religion if you will, I direct them here. It’s not about the building you sit in on a specific day of the week or the passages you can memorize. Oh, they help, but when the rubber hits the road, it’s your amazing ability to be there for us when we need you most.
So when I get in the car here in a few to go enjoy a meal with my family and extended family, you will pass through my mind, each of you. I know who you are lol and today I am thankful you choose to share your love with me.
That’s why you’re here. And I am glad you made that decision.
I love you.
Monday, November 21, 2011
Admit it, once you get through family, friends and health it’s really difficult to begin to find things to be thankful for. I know it is for me. I end up being thankful for wind, rain and snow. Yeah, I believe that, lol. I find myself trying to keep up with the thankfulness the same way I kept up with training for a 5K. I can’t fall behind. I can’t let people know I just might have less to be thankful than they are.
So through the month of November we press our brains against our skulls to find reasons to be thankful. I do have a lot to be thankful for, most of which I take for granted the other eleven months of the year. Approaching the feast of Thanksgiving does give me an opportunity to recognize those things. I’d like to share two YouTube links with you that are special to me.
I first heard this song when I watched an episode of Cold Case. It’s called A Good Day and it simply says “A good day is any day that you are alive….” I listen to it every morning. It sets my intention for the day. Some mornings it is hard to walk, my back hurts, or I just decided it’s not gonna be a good day. When I was young and we’d drive past a cemetery my dad would always say, “Tell those folks your problems, they’d love to have them.” It’s not topical, it’s not sexy but a good day is any day you are alive.
Here’s the link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2B4CN7TM1iQ
A few months ago I hurt my back. My recovery has been slow, painful and depressing. I blogged about it one morning and a Spark friend sent me a link to a YouTube video that had helped her. It’s a song by Laura Story who came to find blessings in everything in her life including her husband’s struggle with cancer. I have to tell you the when I listened to it tears were an understatement.
Here’s the link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1CSVqHcdhXQ
No great words of wisdom, just very simple truths about a very simple existence I choose to make complicated. It’s a good day and I am blessed and because you care so much about me I care enough to share this with you.
Thanks for being my blessing.
Sunday, November 20, 2011
My earliest memory of John Peter centers on the amazing capacity a four year old has to forgive someone. It was a Friday night in June. It was warm and getting warmer. Joan and I were in our first home. It had one large air conditioner in the kitchen window. That took care of the whole house. I had been working seven days a week and my lawn looked like a small child could have gotten lost in it. I changed my clothes and told Joan I was going to cut the lawn since it had cooled off a bit. John stood in the kitchen doorway with a baseball glove and a ball in his hand. “Can we play catch?” he asked? I turned and looked at him. I was busy. Lawn needed to be cut, trimmed and raked. It was hot, I was tired.
“Later buddy, ok? I got to cut the grass.”
He walked into the living room and I went out to cut the lawn. As I walked back and forth it struck me that I had made yet another mistake in Child Rearing 101. John was and is the first child. No frame of reference. You utter a furtive prayer and hope he is not paying for therapy years later. You are tougher on the first born. The expectations are high. I know, I’m a first child myself. Ya think that would have stopped me. Nope I wanted my boy to be Mickey Mantle, Donald Trump and Jesus Christ all rolled into one.
I put the lawn mower away and walked in the house. John had gone to bed a few moments earlier. I walked in his room and sat on the bed. “The lawn could have waited. I shoulda played catch with you.” John sat up in bed and hugged me. “It’s okay dad, I still love you.” He smiled rolled over and went to sleep. No big deal. People make mistakes and other people forgive them and then we go to bed and The Real Housewives of Wherever has to wait for another day.
John has been like this his whole life. He rolls with the flow, makes the best of a bad day and moves forward. The company he worked at for over ten years closed three years ago. John went back to school and is a year away from his bachelor’s degree in computer science. Starting over at any age is hard but he’s done a really good job.
John has taught me to accept other people just the way they are, forgive them and go to bed.
He taught me that you sleep much better when you do.
Saturday, November 19, 2011
When Matt was six, he walked into church with us one Sunday morning, made a direct line for our pastor, opened his coat and produced a lunch bag full of pennies. He stuck it forward, looked at out pastor solemnly and said “For the poor.” There was probably only a few dollars or so in the bag. It was his money and he was going to decide how it was used. He decided, as he put it, to help, “the poor.”
In a nutshell that is child number two, Matthew Thomas. If I sat here and wrote about all the stray people he brought home in the twenty years he lived with us I’d have enough fodder for a million blogs. His heart was always open to helping someone he perceived to be less fortunate than he was. I received a phone call one night a few years back from Matt. He was out taking a walk and met a homeless person by the grocery. The man couldn’t seem to hold a job. If Matt put him on the line, would I mind giving him a few tips and maybe motivate him a bit? That’s Matthew Thomas. Matt started playing football in fifth grade. He played through his sophomore year in high school and never won a game. Yet his coaches always felt if they had three or four more like Matt, they’d never have lost a game.
But Matt, like all the Matt’s I have known in my life, the people who give of themselves instinctively, always seem to be about five inches short of getting all the happiness and success they deserve. Matt was married for five years. His wife decided she missed having fun and divorced him. He took all the bills and arranged to have our granddaughter every weekend. The divorce crushed him, I know, but he rarely let Joan and I know how he felt. If we needed something he was there. His heart is as big as the world. He works a job that allows him off every weekend but forces him to work until midnight five days a week. If he’d wanted to he could have easily worked days. His daughter is a bit more important.
Matt is thirty three and to me he is a great reminder that even though life hits you in the belly really hard on occasion you can still stick to your values and principles. There is nothing really fancy about Matt. You just really know he’s going to be there if and when you need him.
I’ll take that any day of the week.
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