Monday, June 25, 2012
We spent the weekend helping our son and daughter-in-law prepare their new home; scrubbing walls and appliances, landscaping and a bit of painting. When we left yesterday afternoon it was all starting to come together. But our tale this morning concerns the notion of karma and how it occurred rather vividly Saturday afternoon. Now, you may call it other names, it is the notion that how you behave returns to you either in a positive or negative manner. I try really hard to make sure it comes back to me positively.
My daughter-in-law asked me to run to Subway to pick up lunch. She handed me her credit card and a list. This is where it starts to get interesting. Her dad, who can charitably be described as over bearing and irritating, decided he was coming with me and that he was driving.
We walked into Subway with some specific instructions: Get five foot long turkey subs on whole wheat, one foot long ham on whole wheat. Have them put the cheese and veggies on the side so people could dress their own sandwiches. I’m not sure what we walked out with because her dad decided we could do all this much cheaper. As I told Joan later, the only choice I had was to stand there mute while he took over unless I called him a few select names in a store full of people. I carried the bags to his car and went to sit the tray of veggies on the back seat. His Bible was lying there. Some folks don’t want you touching their Bible unless they know about it. I am not sure if they think some sort of evil is going to seep through the pages but I always ask before I touch someone else’s Bible. So I told him I was moving it so the tray wouldn’t spill.
When I got in the car he turned to me and said “I’m surprised YOU people know what a Bible is.”( I’ve always wondered who YOU people are but when our kids started getting married Joan pulled me aside and told me it was imperative I behaved at all times when we were around in-laws. I try really hard to listen to Joan all the time. )
I looked at him and smiled, “Yeah I know what a Bible is.”
‘Well it only took you people three hundred years to catch up, didn’t it?”
If this conversation hadn’t been so inane I’d have been offended. I am Roman Catholic by birth but my belief system is……. Well we could blog about that for a year, lol. I just sat back in the seat and kept telling myself we only had a five minute car ride home.
We started to leave the parking lot when a person coming into the parking lot proceeded to hit us head on. If we hadn’t been at a stop sign it could have been worse. The man who hit us was elderly and said he didn’t see us. I was shook up a bit, still a little sore but no worse for the wear. Her dad? He was okay too but his brand new car looked like an accordion on the front end. As I stood there the thought ran through my head “Karma can indeed be a b***h.”
Later that evening Joan said that if the bad karma was meant for him, why I was involved. I grinned at her and said:
“You are who you hang around with!!!”
A cautionary tale my friends, LOL.
Monday, June 18, 2012
Yesterday was the first Father’s Day I’d celebrated without my dad. He left us a little over three months ago and just about the time I was eking out a bit of a normal routine it dawned on me I was facing another hurdle in learning to live without him. We were separated by four hundred miles of geography but we talked on the phone once or twice a week. Our discussions centered on sports; mostly golf, baseball and football. While his body failed him over the past few years his mind remained sharp and focused. He listened to television and while our opinions weren’t always the same it made for good discussion. Any time something unique or quirky happened in the world of sports I could always pick up the phone and get my dad’s take on the situation. That defined our relationship. A child of the Depression he wasn’t much into sharing emotions and thoughts. He always had some good advice for me hidden in the news of the day.
Yesterday as I sat down to watch the U.S. Open Golf Tournament I felt this void inside of me. It’s always on Father’s Day and I would always call him at least three times during the course of the day. Before he lost his vision he was an avid golfer and could always draw some parallel to “now and then.” Two of my sons were with me and we talked and chided each other on who would win and stuff like that but I had this feeling inside of me, as if someone left the back door open on a cold winter day and a wind was blowing through my soul. I went to bed last night and stared at the ceiling, shedding more than one tear. Somewhere in the midst of my sorrow a glimpse of reason appeared. Like most events in life that challenge us this was just another hurdle. It wouldn’t be the first and I’m quite sure it wont be the last. In laypersons terms it sucked. It wasn’t how I planned to spend this day but I lay there last night with a choice. I could drown in my sorrow or I could accept it for what it was, acknowledge the loss and move on. The longer I laid there the more I began to draw comparisons to my health journey. Don’t you and I face a series of hurdles each and every day? Don’t some of those hurdles present us with facing some realities in our lives we might normally brush away? Hurdles, challenges, call them what you will, they present us with a choice on how we approach our lives. We can sit in our own swill and point the finger of blame at everyone else or we can sigh, put a band aid on our wounds and move forward.
There is no magic here, just often the dreary resignation to putting one foot in front of the other and moving forward. I will grieve my father for some time and I will have really bad days. They are part of the race we all run. I did walk away with the knowledge that I can control how these hurdles affect me. I’d like to tell you I feel a lot better after writing this but I don’t. There is still a dull ache that will subside in time I’m told.
Every day of my existence is full of hurdles and choices. What to eat, whether I walk or go to the gym, how much rest I get, etc. It’s up to me, and you, to jump those hurdles and take some measure of satisfaction that we survived yet another day. I realize this isn’t my usual cheery “go get em’ guys,” sort of post. But life is like that, full of twists and turns and the knowledge that you and I and so many others aren’t alone.
Take consolation in that feeling. I do.
Tuesday, June 12, 2012
I don’t read the newspaper very often. I’ll admit it makes me seem grossly uniformed, but if I’m looking to create negativity in my life I can do that without paying someone twenty dollars a month. In the past week our community has experienced an ex-high school principal being granted shock probation for having relations with an underage student, a Catholic priest being indicted and arrested for sexual molestation and a teacher aide/assistant baseball coach fired and arrested for having relations with underage, special needs students. As positive of an outlook as I have on life, these events strained my capacity to look for any goodness, kindness or; well you fill in the blank.
I was waiting for my water to boil this morning when I glanced at the sports headlines. A baseball coach at one of our high schools had turned in his resignation. That in itself wasn’t surprising but his reason was. He wanted to spend more time with his four sons. They were reaching an age where they could be active and he wanted to be there with them ---- all the way. He’d remain a teacher and devote his coaching time to his kids. My generation would have cautioned him. We’d have told him he was letting go of an opportunity to advance, earn more money; you can fill in the blank here.
I don’t know him or his dad, but I’ll bet his dad had the same mindset we all did back in the 70’s. Work as much as you can, make as much as you can and provide your kids with a chance to compete in this world. I worked as much overtime as I could and I believed that was how I showed my love and support. As that generation comes of age, they shake there head a resounding “No.” They are giving their kids what many of us didn’t recognize as pure gold, our time. I didn’t miss everything my kids were into but I missed enough for them and many like them to identify the missing link, the lost piece of the map, you can fill in the blank here with your own experience.
In many ways it’s like getting on the scale on weigh in day and finding the needle hasn’t budged or if it has its budging the wrong way. You do all the right things and you do them consistently but no matter where you turn you run into a wall of frustration, anxiety or; well you fill in the blank.
Something good evolved. It took decades to gain shape and substance but the need to nurture, foster and appreciate the lives of our children pushed the need for material gain to the back. No matter how hard we try sometimes, no matter how frustrated we get, if we stick to what’s right in our minds it bears fruit in the end. One thing usually leads to another, and so this morning my heart is a tad bit lighter. In the midst of all the swill, perversion and negativity there comes a beacon in the form of a coach who put the right things first.
Now, it’s time for us to fill in the blank.
Friday, June 08, 2012
A few years ago when our son Paul was married I was asked to give the speech and toast at his rehearsal dinner. A number of options floated through my mind as I prepared and I decided to look back at my life with Joan and pull from the wisdom I’d developed over 36 years, at the time. One thing seemed to reoccur over and over and that was an amazing similarity between weddings and funerals. (No it’s not what you think, lol.) In both cases, people are eager to rush forward and offer advice, support and in the case of a death comfort and a willing ear. Both events are surrounded by emotion and seem to pass so quickly that we hardly have time to take them in for what they are. A month or so later we blink our eyes, become infused with a degree of helplessness as we struggle with a new experience. As we look at the landscape all of those well-wishers and those shoulders to lean upon are nowhere in sight. We stand alone, forced to grapple with the changes.
Thirty eight years of marriage have taught me that’s how it should be. The best lesson life has to offer us is the one we experience on our own. That is why we have so many diet books lining the shelves of our book stores. Every one promises us great things, mystical transformations and a fresh outlook on life. “Out with the old and in with the new.” We plunk down our hard earned money, break the speed limit getting home, curl up in a chair and about three chapters in this sinking feeling slowly grips hold of us. Maybe it comes in the form of a little voice that whispers “This isn’t gonna work!!!” We immediately lash ourselves for being weak, uncommitted, oh shoot your pick an adjective!!! It dawns on us after a bit that we are; like the newly wed or the recently bereaved, all alone. There are no landmarks or road signs to direct us.
If this is the point you expect me hail the virtues of Spark Teams and Spark Friends you are mistaken. I love them all dearly and they are an integral part of my life. The operative word is “part.” When the dust settles on my weight loss journey and on my quest for improved fitness and health I know there is only one person staring in the bathroom mirror and that person is me. Only I know when I cheat or when I have those gray, forlorn days. I am learning that no matter how much support I can conjure up for myself when the dust settles on my life there is part of this journey I have to walk alone.
I believe God knew this when He created the Universe. In His infinite wisdom He knew there would be points points in our lives when we had to “go it alone.” There would always be the loving and guiding hand of the Divine and yes all the scriptural promises still hold true that we would not be abandoned and we are indeed loved. Yet, I believe He lets us walk the tight rope now and then so that we learn, we grow and we develop. Somewhere in our pain, our indecision and our anxiety we find this glowing truth that surpasses all wisdom and knowledge we’ve learned to date. For that we are stronger and wiser. Yup we feel a bit beat up but we’re fortified and renewed. Maybe battle tested is a better word.
My personal reassurance here comes from Jesus last words as he hung on the cross dying. “My God, My God,” he cried out “Why have you forsaken me?” Crucifixion is one of the worst imaginable deaths and Christians believe that Jesus hung there for three hours to redeem the world. During his ministry he worked miracles, raised people from the dead and followed a preordained path that led him to that moment alone. In despair and with a twinge of fear he cried out those words and then completed his mission, alone. At that one moment of redemption God knew that He had to take a step back and allow Jesus to pass through all on His own. I am reassured by that passage. Hopefully I’ll never be crucified or charged with the task of redeeming the world.
If my choice is health I will stumble, I will fall; I will despair and if I choose get up and continue my journey forward. My friends, my family can love me, encourage me and support me but there is always that moment, sometimes each day, that I step off the path by myself and make choices and decisions all alone, often feeling forsaken, that impact the rest of my journey. Only I know them for what they really are and that’s as it should be.
Be blest today.
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