When I started blogging I told stories about myself – moreso than I have recently. Many people reacted well to that.
I received good feedback. Recently a few of you have asked that I return to that sort of thing.
At the same time I wanted to put my story, or at least part of it, out there. My goal is to share my mistakes, successes and the lessons that I learned. Plus if you see me and how I go through some challenges I’ve had, maybe you will be encouraged through your challenges.
Starting the story is often the toughest part, right?
Do I start telling you about when I thought I might go bankrupt? Do I tell you how great I felt when my daughters were born? When I was promoted in different jobs? When I was self-employed – the freedom, excitement, pride, fear, anxiety? Or do I start talking about “the year” when I was unemployed and we lost 5 family members, they passed-away?
I thought about the many challenges that I’ve faced as an adult – probably similar to things you’ve faced….. I chose to start when I first felt “baptism by fire”, as it was referred to by a family friend.
OK, picture a 20 year old young male. I had been a pretty shy person in grade school, even high school. During my freshmen year at college I was still pretty shy but started to come out of my shell. Now, during my sophomore year, I decided to be a social butterfly. I got a fake ID, I went out, I dated, I had fun. I got to know lots of people at college and at other spots. Lots of road trips were involved. I had my first Spring Break trip to Daytona Beach. Wow, I enjoyed life for a few months. I had lots of fun.
However, you could safely say that I didn’t put much effort into studies and my grades fell hard that year. It was May, school was out, and my parents knew I didn’t do well and although the report card didn’t come home yet, I knew that it wasn’t going to be pretty.
Now, step back for a moment…..My father operated a sales agency in the kitchen cabinet and woodworkers’ industry. He was formerly a cabinetmaker who had a heart attack at age 45. So he became a self-employed sales rep to the same industry. At this time, he was about 58. He was successful, did well and had a nice addition on our home for the home office. I never knew anything of an empty stomach, empty refrigerator, empty pantry or old clothes. However, I didn’t get the name brands and I didn’t live like a rich kid.
Since school let out, I said that I’d take a week off then start working for my dad that summer. (Somehow I thought that I needed a week’s vacation from all the partying at college before I could work.) So I ‘chilled’ for about a week, listening to Ice, Ice, Baby (Vanilla Ice); Blame it on the Rain (Milli Vanilli); Janie’s Got a Gun (Aerosmith); Epic (Faith No More); Without You (Motley Crue); Blaze Of Glory (Jon Bon Jovi), and my favorite of that period, Pink Floyd. Some sweet tunes. I look back, man was I immature.
Monday came and it was time to work. I put in my first day with my dad….. I woke up, didn’t shower, put on the baseball cap and coasted through the day. My mom made us both a big lunch, about 1 hour long; it was going to be a sweet summer. After dinner it was time to cut the grass. We lived on about 30-some acres, about 10 was grass. I think I cut most of it that night on the tractor. My dad was using the push mower to trim around the house and tight spots. I noticed he had a tough time starting it – it was a pull-start – and he was getting frustrated.
Later I finished up, it was getting dark and I came into the house. My mother was out in town running errands. My father was laying in bed – it was perhaps 9pm. He never laid in bed that early – especially with his ‘work clothes’ on. I asked him what happened. He thought that he pulled a muscle starting the mower – his lower left side hurt.
Of course I did the right thing – I went immediately to my room and put on Pink Floyd. My mother came home very soon after, saw him, checked him out and called the ambulance. He was having another heart-attack, she said.
She asked me to go stand by him and talk to him. I did. What was I to say? I tried to joke about something but I could see he was in pain. I told him to try and relax. Easy for me to say. I recall that he got up at one point or so with dry heaves and other symptoms. It was scarey. This was a serious downer dude.
The ambulance was taking a long time to get to the house. It was before the 911 emergency services named and mapped the roads. Long before GPS. Our address was RD#3 Box 280F. Not much help finding the home.
Through their radio and the dispatcher, they called our house looking for better directions. They went to our neighor’s house about 1/4 mile away. He walked the ambulance back….yes, I said he WALKED the ambulance back to the house.
I recall seeing in the dusk a man walking back our private road – and behind him was an ambulance. I couldn’t believe it….my father was having a heart attack and the ambulance was literally coming to our home at a walker’s pace. It finally arrived, they went upstairs. They came down with my dad on the gurney and they couldn’t get him past our decorative wagon wheels on either side of the sidewalk.
My dad had put these old wagon wheels he found from the old farm on our property there years early. They were in the theme of my parents’ home, I suppose. On this day, they were barriers to my dad’s medical services, perhaps to saving his life. The ambulance guys were gently trying to move the wheels and delicately trying to push them aside. I recall telling one to step back and I kicked it hard, then watched it fall out of the way.
My mom left to go to the hospital. She asked me to stay, wrap up the home and not come into the hospital until the next morning. She called from the hospital later that night and repeated her wish for me to stay there at home as it would be a long week and she needed me fresh. She gave me a list of clothes and items to bring in the next day.
I hung up and noticed that my hands were shaking. I began to tremble all over my body. What the hell was going on? Two weeks ago I was hangin’ with my buds and a few cold brews. One week ago I was chillin’ in my room. Now my dad was possibly dying? A heart attack – again?
I remember suddenly noticing how beautiful the night was outside. I sat out on our screened porch on that early summer’s night. We lived on the edge of the woods and the noises from the trees comforted me. I heard animals, birds, bugs settle in for the night. I heard the quiet noise from Mill Creek. I was alone but didn’t feel loneliness. I couldn’t calm down though…I kept shaking.
I went inside and tried to watch TV but couldn’t do so. I still was trembling. For the first time that I could recall, I went into my parents’ cabinet and got a shot of whiskey, just one, and took it. It calmed me enough that I went to bed and slept.