(I was going to write a forward, but felt I should probably entitle it WARNING, to forewarn about the length of this offering. Don’t let the length dissuade you from reading it. So, get your favorite beverage, maybe a snack or two, and enjoy. It is part of my own personal story.)
For some reason the show was on my mind today, then I read a quote by Nancy Horan and knew today was the day I put some of my more personal life out there in hope ” … I can tell my story in a way that is useful to someone else,” as she said.
Writers write for many reasons. My reason for writing has been primarily because I like to write, but as you’ll notice, I don’t post an overabundance of works.
Why? Because my secondary reason for writing is so maybe someone else may find it useful, whether it is to laugh at, think about, cry about, entertain, to know they are not alone or find some kind of life-lesson in something I write … I only hope I have succeeded in some small way of being a positive contributor in the thing we call life.
Unlike the photo I used for this piece, I am not Superman, as some have said (I’ll explain later), I am not Prince Charming, not Superdad or any other kind of Knight in Shinning Armor adjective that should be associated with my name … I am simply a man who has lived with passion that knows very well “tomorrow is promised to no one,” which I will also explain later.
In August last year, I posted a piece entitled “Who am I? Many things you never thought or imagined,” but that piece only focused on tierchery pieces of my life, the good memories … we all know life is not a bed of roses, so today there may be a few thorns.
I grew up as the son of an eighth-grade educated mother and a soldier father. I was born abroad in Germany on a military installation where my father was stationed, which meant extra work for my parents to make sure I was properly documented as an America citizen.
My mother didn’t have the luxury of getting past the eighth grade due to the depression and as the daughter of a share-cropper, my granddaddy, was needed in the fields, not by choice, but by necessity. Her mother died when she was 12, so I never knew my grandmother.
By the time I was 9, I had lost both grandmothers. At 11, my father was killed in action in Vietnam, and a year later, I lost my granddaddy. My dad’s dad, who we referred to as grandpa, lived far away and never really was a big part of my life. I can not say it wasn’t because he didn’t want to be or wanted to be but couldn’t, he just wasn’t (I like to stick to facts only). Grandpa died in 1978.
Four years later, my only sister died.
Today, I have very few of the older relatives still living. Three aunt’s combined from both my mother’s and father’s sides of the family are still here.
But, I have a lot of cousins who are great at making sure we all stay in touch with each other, and I am thankful for each one of them … we are still family.
Not to sound blase about death, because I am certainly not, but I have always said we are born dying and death is a natural part of the life cycle, so at some point we all will die … oh, how I wished that were not true.
Deaths of family and friends take a toll on us all, but memories of each one should be cherished, fondly remembered and their contributions to our lives appreciated.
At 17, I moved out of my mother’s house to be close to the person, who at the time, was the love of my life.
Of course, my mother didn’t believe it was a good idea and did everything in her power to make me stay … I think she forgot I was my mother’s son, and as such, inherited her stubbornness, especially after hearing her say I would never graduate high school or get a college education. Today, I think she regrets saying those things, but maybe she did it on purpose … in fact, I know she said it on purpose because she is still a straight-shooter, so, thanks mom for making sure my stubbornness would make sure I proved you wrong.
Today, we have the best relationship a mother and son could ever have. I am not a mama’s boy, though I have the utmost respect for her and everything she has accomplished.
My mother raised four children by herself and next year will be the 50th anniversary of my father’s death … to this day, she hasn’t dated and still says she never wanted another man in her kids lives. She never remarried, because, I guess, she would have had to date (I have to laugh at that) and her reason was she knew she would never find a man as good as my father.
She is 85 and has amassed a small fortune, all with an eighth-grade education, because she had a knack for finances, but she won’t spend one cent over her widows pension and social security, which isn’t much, all because she wants to make sure her son’s have a “little” something after she is gone.
One thing we all should remember is we are not always who we think we are by our own design, but partially a product of all of those who have contributed to our lives, family and friends alike.
Like some, I have never had a lot of luck with relationships if I was judged over a total lifespan. And, like most, it has been a 50/50 proposition, meaning 50 percent my fault and 50 percent their fault. I have to laugh at that, not that I probably should, but I believe since there are only two people involved, both working together, it would be hard to blame someone else, since I am not polyamorous. Relationships, after all, are joint ventures.
But, in the end, I believe I am right where I am supposed to be. And I won’t blame or claim victory due to any of the events in my life.
Everything (I hope) that could or can happen to me in life with relationships didn’t happen because some little tidbit in my life that changed me, it didn’t happen because it was destined to happen, it wasn’t that I was at the right place at the right time nor did my zodiac sign point me to the exact person that was my match … it’s all been a choice.
Relationships have all been of my own doing, or undoing, depending upon how you look at it. So, I’m not apologizing nor looking for pity … just sticking to the facts.
Fast-forward to 2012.
In 2012, I faced the biggest struggle of my life … or maybe it was my life and death, back to life, back to death and back to life again. I don’t know, but you’ll get my point.
In February of 2012, I went through a dangerous, but needed surgery. I had severely blocked arteries in my lower extremities and had basically lost the ability to walk very far without experiencing total muscle failure in my legs, due to the inability of the blood to reach my legs.
It’s not like it was something that I knew wasn’t going to have to be done sooner or later, but it became sooner, very fast.
Again, I had a choice. A choice to be back seeing the doctor deciding on what step was next after about a year and a half, the choice to go with the moderate version of the same procedure with the best-case scenario of it lasting about three years, or the most drastic surgery with might buy me 10 years or more before any reevaluation of my situation was needed.
I chose the most drastic, simply because I was really tired of being in the hospital every year and a half with the doctor making tweaks here and there so I could just get by.
It didn’t go too well, to say the least.
The surgery, an Aortic Bifemoral Bypass (you can watch it on YouTube if you like … be forewarned, it’s graphic), average surgery time is between three-five hours … mine was almost 18 hours.
Complications? You could say so. My surgeon said mine was so bad, it had to be done the old way. I am not sure what that meant, but he did say he had to take almost all of my organs out of my body to be able to complete the surgery.
It didn’t help that he had to pause during surgery, once to losing me on the table, but on other occasions just to make sure I would be able to survive the surgery … minus the other little hiccup I mentioned.
The bright spot of surgery? Well, there is always a silver lining in every cloud. Mine was the fact they recirculated my own blood … so, I didn’t have to have a transfusion of any type. That is a good thing, right?
Following surgery, after losing me again in ICU, they told family they should spend as much time with me as they could. Later, I found out they didn’t think I would make it through the night. The only thing I remember was seeing my mother cry, so I got out of me words from her favorite Elvis song … I whispered to her, ” … that’s alright mama,” just before they whisked her out of the room. Apparently, hearing her cry made all my machines go crazy.
Just a few days ago I found out I was put into a comatose state in hope it would help me get through part of the healing process. I was shocked, to say the least, especially after writing my last series, “In Dreams,” because that was before I learned this new information.
I don’t know when that was, unless, and this is funny (yes, I still have a sense of humor), it must have been when they tried to put the oxygen mask on me … which sucked my face into it, and I fought the nurse (as much as I could anyway) that was trying to put the mask on me. All I remember after that was this big male nurse coming in and telling me … Mr. Peeler, I am going to put this mask on you … one quick look at him, along with assessing the situation I was in, and his size, forced one quick word out of me … “OK,” … I was in no position to fight with that behemouth.
Today, it is kinda funny … it wasn’t so funny then.
Long story short, what should have been a 5-7 day inpatient recovery time to go home lasted right at four months for me.
The doctor said he had never seen someone fight to live as much as I did. Again, I have to thank my mother for the stubbornness in me.
And, I am still here … and I still live life with passion. Even when I screw up, I do it with passion.
I am not Superman because I survived a horrific surgery, because today, I know the true meaning of “tomorrow is promised to no one.”
I am not Prince Charming, simply because I am empathetic to the struggles of life we all face, including personal losses, past failed relationships and all the other things we face in life. It doesn’t take a Prince Charming to be nonjudgmental and sympathetic to the plight of others.
Heck, I have been friended, unfriended, followed, unfollowed, reported and so many other things on social media, and called all other sorts of things when I was in the newspaper business that I can’t remember them all. But, I have always told it like it was.
I am not Superdad just because I chose to take on the raising of three children, all under the age of 5. It doesn’t take being a Superdad to simply do the right thing for children that have no choice. In fact, just the other day I went to change the diaper of my granddaughter who is teething and thought … “Damn girl, you just gave new meaning to the word poopy diaper,” but, she has her first bright shiny tooth … and for that, it’s been all worth it.
At different points in my life, I have been abused, misused and refused … I’ve been the car window at times and other times I’ve been the bug. But, I still get up with the attitude of being the best man I can be.
I have always tried to live my life with passion, respect, empathy, understanding and tried to be the best I could be to my fellow-man. Yes, there have been times others have tried to derail me, but as I have said twice … I am stubborn … no one is going to make me someone I don’t want to be.
And, although I am stubborn, I have relied on a vast amount of experience and the stories of my ancestors … everyone from my mom, dad, aunts, uncles and grandparents who always made sure I got the “moral of the story.”
I am not who I am today, whatever that may be, simply because of past accolades or accomplishments. I don’t write everyday. I write when I have something to say that may benefit someone, somewhere.
I don’t write to get views, likes, comments, or for any other personal motive. I write to tell a story. I write to say, “I know what you are feeling” or “I know what you are going through.” I write to say “you are not alone.”
But, at the same time, I do write to hopefully help educate those that need it in the area of life. I would never judge anyone, because I have never walked in someone else’s shoes but mine, and, there is no one right answer to any issue or problem.
Everyday, I wake up with a sense of newness … not a sense of yesterday or tomorrow, but to live today with passion, understanding and looking forward to new adventures. I don’t worry about what is going to go wrong … I’ll just cross that bridge when I get to it, IF it comes.
I sing, I dance, I write, I tell stories and I forgive … and I forgive before forgiveness is ever asked, and I make sure those who apologize know I forgave them long before they asked.
My personal story was written as a way of opening myself up as an example for others to do the same. Each personal triumph and tragedy is important to someone who might read it. Someone, somewhere will benefit from your story.
So, the message in my story is this: Never give up; never let situations define you, but let situations teach you; never let the hurt you feel make you someone who is bitter or angry at the world; always try to look at the good, the funny or the irony in bad situations, and by all means, when you get the chance to laugh at yourself, laugh until you cry.
Whatever you attempt in life, do it with passion … live life with passion, without remorse or regret. Life is there for the living.
I close this post with a quote from Charlotte Eriksson, and as always, find a way to shine.