Category Archives: Biographical

Amaranthine Memories

This is a post in two parts. I didn’t know how to separate them…

She reached out to me in November, her heart dreading what I might tell her. Sheena and Deanne, my wife who died, were once inseparable comrades in friendship and a little mischief. The early 90s were their heyday. Both Sheena and Deanne were outgoing and beautiful young women.

They’d lost touch. I don’t remember that Deanne told me why other than she often told stories about her friends and the shenanigans and moments she lived before meeting me. As anyone knows, the first few months of getting to know someone is a sublime pleasure filled with stories and insights. We immerse ourselves into the unknown universe of someone else’s life as we get to know them. Deanne was almost ten years younger than me. Despite that, she had a lot of stories to tell and a large family to fill the spaces of her life. I already knew her brother Mark thanks to our jobs at Cargill.

Sheena said she’d seen Deanne once in April of 2001 when Sheena was giving birth to her daughter. Deanne worked at the hospital and surprised Sheena with an impromptu visit. Evidently, it was one filled with smiles and quick words. Sheena did not see her again. But she always wanted to and wondered where Deanne was in the world.

As so often happens when we get older, we think about the people who once touched us. Some of them drift away purposefully; others drift for other reasons. The truth is that some people have a room in our hearts even when we no longer see them. It’s one of life’s bittersweet lessons.

Sheena found an obituary for Deanne. I’d dutifully left a trail of her life and some of her stories on Ancestry and other places. People need to be remembered. Sheena told me that she cried reading it, knowing that her hopes of reconnecting were gone forever. I felt an immense pang of regret on her behalf. Deanne would have lovingly hugged Sheena had she had the chance. She loved a good grudge, but she loved connections more. One of Deanne’s foibles was how quickly she could get irritated. It was a blessing to her in some ways, too, though. As I grew to know her, her ire often made me laugh. She’d punch me in the arm and laugh, too, once the ridiculousness of the situation became apparent.

Sheena ultimately revealed that their friendship probably ruptured because she had told Deanne that we were not compatible. Deanne made up her mind about me very early on. I’m not sure I was consulted!

Sheena reached out to me on Ancestry, and I shared my entire picture collection with her, thousands of pictures – and every picture I owned of Deanne. She was able to sort through Deanne’s short life, as told in pictures. Later, I shared a few stories with her, ones some people have never read or heard.

More importantly, I gave Sheena peace. I let her know that she should feel happy that Deanne and I found each other and stayed together, even when it wasn’t easy. We all do and say things when we’re younger – and often continue the same when we’re older. And if she said the things she said to Deanne with an authentic heart, she should not be accountable for sharing her opinion or truth. That’s the risk of being genuine with other people.

The truth is that Deanne and I weren’t compatible at first glance. Or probably second glance. In that sense, Sheena was definitely not wrong. Deanne was an outgoing, buxom, active soul, almost ten years younger than me. I had no clue she was interested in me. Until she insisted I come over for a homemade meal. Believe me, I was not the one wearing the pants at the beginning of the relationship. Call me oblivious.

Sheena got to see Deanne’s life because I am committed to sharing every picture I own with anyone interested. I’m just the custodian. I love pictures, and I love knowing that people always come full circle with wanting to see every picture of someone they love or loved. Avoiding the soapbox, I will limit myself to saying that unappreciated or unseen pictures do no one any good.

I still feel a bit of remorse for both Deanne and Sheena. They could have reconnected. Had I been aware, I would have asked Deanne to look past any past words and find Sheena again. I did the same with Deanne’s dad. Deanne doubted she could forge a new beginning with him. Through the years, though, I encouraged her to try from a new foundation. And she did. I still count it as one of the best things I’ve ever accomplished. More so because she died so young.

I hope Sheena found a way to fill her life with new souls. She seems like the kind of person who deserves it. Her words to Deanne so many years ago would have been received differently had I known at the time.
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After Deanne died, I didn’t have a big interval of time before I met Dawn, my ex-wife. Whether you can understand or not, I made the choice to plow through life and not let myself get overwhelmed with the loss. When we first got together, I had her meet Deanne’s brother and his wife. I wanted them to know that me getting on with life didn’t negate Deanne. Quite the contrary. I had to make a choice, one that wasn’t really a choice at all. Things could have ended very badly for me. If you’ve lived a life with loss, you can imagine what some of those endings might look like for me. There’s no shame in acknowledging them.

It’s not a choice a lot of people might make. I make no apologies, though. Dawn and I were together when we were very young. She’d had an intervening marriage, one that fizzled and ground down into apathy. We were happy to find each other again.

Deanne never was between Dawn and me. At least not for me. She wasn’t a ghost, but she was a catalyst and reminder for me, something that people misunderstand. When life snatches your optimism through mortality, there are a lot of impossible feelings. This amplifies when you consider how capricious life can be; anyone or anything can disappear at any moment. Deanne deserved more years to continue her journey. She was substantially different from the time when we first met. And that was a great thing to witness. I try to remember to be grateful for the years I had with her. The song always ends, leaving us with a melody we can replay in our heads through memories.

At the risk of repeating myself, one of my biggest mistakes in life has been to occasionally forget the lesson that Deanne’s death dealt me: life is for the living, obstacles will always punch, and love is never wasted, no matter how it ends.

It’s true I shared fewer stories about Deanne than I should have. I did make the mistake of not writing all the stories of adventure and mischief I had with Deanne. And also some about our hard times. We definitely had them. As Dawn and I disintegrated, she seemed to switch the narrative on me about how it was with Deanne. Whether that’s true or not is in the eye of the beholder. I made a choice – as did she. I’d make the same choice again because a choice to live and love is a positive choice; fearing another loss and avoiding taking the risk is a negative choice.

Someone reminded me this morning not to veer. Since she’s a disguised writer, I’m obligated to heed her warning.

Every love is forged with expansiveness and optimism. That we can’t navigate the treachery of daily living and one another’s messes isn’t a knock to love or vulnerability, though. The problem lies within us. Familiarity breeds contempt. We assign motive to actions or words, usually based on our faulty filters. It’s hilariously evident that most of us want the same things.

When love has drawn its last breath, it is easy to focus on the things that were wrong.

When a person draws their last breath, all the doors are shut forever.

Whether you are 31 or 71, the door is always about to shut. We just don’t see it coming. That helps us to forget how precarious our lives are. That same forgetfulness affords us the ability to live our daily lives but it also has the reciprocal defect of failing to focus on what lights us up.

For Sheena, for Deanne, and for anyone who no longer walks the Earth, we can do our best by choosing optimism over despair, deliberate risk over comfort, and for being ourselves, even as the world madly surprises us.

Deanne would tell us that all these years she’s been gone that she would hope we were squeezing the absolute hell out of whatever life has to offer – and shame on us if we aren’t.

She would have loved to be alive and make a lot of mistakes. We should be too. She’d be the first to call me out for being an idiot. And she’d mean it.

Love, X
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Never Veer

I love sharing on social media. I do. It’s personal, revelatory, and I try to be honest without stepping on people. I tend to step on myself the hardest.

I learned to play the game of Chicken with my crazy dad. Do you know what his secret was? NEVER veer, even if you’re going to get killed. He told people beforehand, “I’m not going to veer. I’m not kidding.” And he never did, even when it could have killed him. People learned not to play Chicken with Bobby Dean. Not in cars, not on tractors, not ever. Never veering is a stupid way to play chicken – unless your goal is to stop people from challenging you. There is no truth I will not confide if it is in my heart to do so.

I wrote very personal posts on the 23rd and yesterday. Both were honest and revelatory. The one from the 23rd was an admission that I’m as guilty as anyone about being a revisionist. I’ve not hurtfully crossed the line needlessly about anyone – including my ex-wife. That’s not to say I couldn’t. Two of the components of my post were to mention that I appreciated the good years, as well as to mention that I could have engaged in a flame war during the divorce, even though I bore the responsibility for the mess. It’s okay to need to gain perspective and distance. Even if it makes me the villain. It’s not okay to wipe away the good times, the good things, or the concessions I made to mitigate my self-made disaster.

With my level of humor and stark, combined with my willingness and ability to literally say anything, it would be manifestly easy for me to shatter a lot of illusions and break eggs. Even while still admitting I’ve behaved like a lunatic at times. I’ve been considerate after-the-fact. I can’t erase the past. It’s unwise to argue with someone who buys ink by the gallon, or with someone who will respond to accusations by admitting even worse truths himself. No one can win a “let’s share secrets” war with me. I will go there – not out of spite, no matter how someone pushes me to inflame or respond to fire with fire. It’s a fool’s game, especially after the final whistle has blown. The players should exit the field, hopefully with the goal of learning from what happened. Even if they fouled forty times during the game. An examined life always yields lessons.

People trust me not to reveal secrets they share. Believe me, one of the most satisfying aspects of social media is that many people have shared some of the most intimate things possible using it.

As you’d guess, I caught hell privately for the things I shared. Even the post about my wife who died brought out a level of accusation that surprised me. None of those accusations touch the truth, though. Everyone was kind, loving, and supportive to me for both posts. Well, almost everyone. And I love that. Worrying about the critics is another fool’s errand. Because I’m a fool, I’ve been guilty of that at times.

“You’re the villain in someone’s story” has always been true.

Equally true is that telling me I can’t tell my story isn’t going to end well. I’ll be respectful – but not silent. Trust me to be both honest and responsible.

If you play Chicken with me, I will not veer, now or ever.

Love, X

Deanne

things often go awry, as they so often do
that unimaginable morning, it was you

nine years my junior, with a lingering cough
your energy ebbed and your spirit diminished

i watched my love and life wither
it can’t get that bad, i foolishy hoped

life had a hard lesson for me, again

i sat on the floor next to you
our albino cat standing guard,
as he had all night
before i made the horrible call

life had fled, from you, from me

promises made, hopes shared
became mist and floated away

a little piece of me stayed there, forever

another piece of me, the vibrancy you shared
found a way forward

i can’t believe i’m still standing
filled with love, expanding

sometimes, in moments
i’m back there, remembering the lesson

you said i was love
even in impatience
“my muffin,” you teased
and I? pleased

i try to remember the helplessness
hopelessness and despair

not to drown in them, no

but to live the knowledge
that we’re all closer than we think

it’s all here or gone in a blink

in those crevices of experience
we thrive or subside

with each new self-genesis
i take a long moment
to swallow the risk

and i remember

life knocks, i answer

it is not a question

it is life, moving

Love, X
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Thoughts, Bittersweet And Kind

Thoughts, Bittersweet And Kind

When people move away from a relationship or marriage, they become revisionists. It’s a natural human reaction. Because I don’t want hypocrisy lightning to strike me, I will be the first to admit I’ve done it too. When things go sour, we overwrite the good moments, and the sense of wrong and failure fill our heads. Most of us don’t go into relationships will ill intentions. There are exceptions; some people don’t see behind the masks of those they are with until later. It’s not their fault. Love drives us. We all pretty much want the same things. How we traverse the minefields of our own vanities and life determines how successful our relationships might be. When it ends, we’re left with a raw fringe that often transposes into a filter that overwrites all the positive things we experienced.

I haven’t written a tremendous amount about my marriage. In part, it is because I saw no need to inflame emotions or trespass across the boundary of where my right of expression would infringe upon her life.

As time passes, she’s told me more than once that she thought I was there for so long because it was an easy life. Such a comment is an indictment of what we actually shared. There was a lot of love there for most of the marriage. The end was a bitter pie, that’s true. Since I’m the one who added a lot of the bitter, it is my pie to eat.

When we first got together, I was trying to recover from the sudden and unexpected death of my wife. She was ten years younger than me. Her death was a stop sign in my life. The brutal truth is that had she not died, my life would have continued along that trajectory, probably forever. That’s not how life works though. It’s a series of blows, each of which we either confront or bury.

I made the decision to live life. The risk of me not doing so might have been my demise. “Get busy living or get busy dying” was certainly in my head. It wasn’t going to be easy no matter what choices I made.

One of the reasons the accusation of staying in the marriage because it was “easy” bothers me is that anyone who knows me knows that I am not money-driven. That’s both a defect and an advantage. I feel rich in a lot of ways no matter what roof is over my head or what car I drive. Growing up, I lost a lot. Houses burned, tornadoes came, and violent parents made physical comfort an impossibility. Security is never in the things that envelop me. There is no doubt that my conscious decision to ignore ambition has cost me in some ways. That same lack of ambition also provided insurance, flexibility, and more free time to fill in life’s spaces with ordinary moments. We live most of our lives in those spaces rather than in the grand ones that most people prominently use to illustrate their lives.

Before the divorce, I signed over the house to my ex-wife. I did it for a lot of reasons. I could have insisted that we divest everything and sell it. Had I done so, I would have had 40-50K in my pocket when I left. As it was, I left with $5000. Someone motivated by money would have never walked away from that money. She would have needed to move and start over exactly as I did. It didn’t matter who was at fault; that’s just the way it works. I don’t know many people who’ve willingly given up such a big chunk in order to let their ex have peace and security.

It bothers me that the love I had and the gift I gave her by letting her keep the house are now being characterized as untrue. But I understand.

I sit as the villain in her head. If that helps her have a good life again, I can accept it. During the last few months, I stayed as a roommate. Luckily, I was going to counseling. I learned to sleep and I learned that I didn’t need nearly as much sleep as I had been getting before something in my head snapped. Over time, the anxiety I wasn’t addressing built to a point where I had to either succumb or deal with it. I waited too long to get a handle on it. That was arrogance on my part. There’s no other word for it.

I learned some lessons, some of them unflattering about myself. But one of the lessons I learned is that no matter what your intentions, if you don’t express the hard things in your mind when they come up, they fester and burn you from the inside out. It is so easy to walk through each day, letting the details and routine gloss over the things that need to be said. And done. It’s obvious that I didn’t really learn some of the lessons deeply because I repeated the same pattern by swallowing my truths a few times, ignored the little voice inside my head saying “No,” or stopped striving for the demand of a normal kind of affection.

When I had my emergency surgery, it was my ex-wife who came to the emergency room and stayed with me until my surgery started. She got to witness me violently throwing up and yelling in surprise pain each time a spasm of internal tearing got the better of me. She got her karma that night! But despite that, she was there. And that’s not nothing.

I don’t want to ever come across as someone who doesn’t appreciate that or the good years we had.

I also don’t want to be the kind of person who feels like I’m ‘too much.’ I’ve learned that my ‘too much’ is exactly what some people want. And that is true for all of you, too. I was surprised to find that the things that give me connection are these: writing, a buttload of laughter, and the ability to sit in a chair, intertwined, with nothing but the comfort of someone who sees me as me. I’ll get there, in part because of the long past that lies behind me, including all the stupid things I’ve done and the times I let my arrogance or inattention to what matters lead me astray. I don’t want to be right. I want to be happy.

If you have a happy marriage or relationship, please whisper its truth in gratitude or prayer. Don’t let the valleys overshadow the inevitable peaks. And if your relationship ends, try to avoid the pitfall of painting everything as sinister or dark. We’re all complicated people and so often we find ourselves at the end of a road without a clear idea of how we got so far astray. We started in love.

As the noted philosophers of VanHalen said: “If love’s got you down, love can lift you right back up. Get up and make it work.”

Love, X
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P.S. Wherever I end up, there is going to be a swing. Without playfulness, the seriousness of what we experience would drown us.

A Mixed Message (A Wild Variety Of Me)

“Life is like looking for your phone. Most of the time, it’s in your hand.”

Today’s brooch was made from a very old badge my manager discovered last week. I wrote “252” on it. That’s how much I weighed in the picture. I’m 105 lbs. lighter now. The part that continues to remind me is the new people who come into my life. They didn’t know me as fat. A couple of them had to be convinced. That’s a strange, wonderful thought. None of them have inaccurate misconceptions of me, either, so they look at me as if I’m just X. That’s wonderful, too. It reminds me of decades ago when I changed my name; it allowed me to easily identify those who loved me for who I was without regard to my name. Not a day passes that my name doesn’t bring a question, a laugh, or a story. Having a ridiculous name saves me the trouble of needing to tell people I’m probably eccentric. (Whether I look like a professional bowler or curler is up to you to decide.)
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“I keep fighting voices in my mind that say I’m not enough
Every single lie that tells me I will never measure up
Am I more than just the sum of every high and every low
Remind me once again just who I am because I need to know”
“You Say,” Lauren Daigle

All of you who can feel God’s love are fortunate. I mean that without snark. All love is housed in one’s heart. Believing that you’re loved in any form is something to strive for.

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Because of my blog, people find me and read the ridiculously long and circuitous path of my life I’ve left there. It’s told higgledy-piggledy, with huge omissions and P.S.-sidepaths; it’s just the way I like it. It is both consoling and astonishing when someone discovers it and finds something worthwhile in it or me. When you commit things to writing and especially publicly, there is no return to privacy or withdrawal. It’s both faith and lunacy. As direct as I’ve been, there are hundreds of stories that I haven’t shared, mostly because of the overlap in other people’s lives. A lot of my joy and anguish are difficult to share for that reason. It’s not that I don’t want to. I’d prefer to spill it out. I can’t imagine that I’ve experienced much that a lot of other people haven’t – that’s the joy of peeking behind curtains in life.
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“State your truth” is such a vulnerable thing to do. Or say. I’ve become so open about it that I’ve forgotten that people need camouflage. We are all so similar in our vexations and pleasures. Knowing this at 54 is almost a superpower. But I do revel when I am able to witness someone letting the wall down and just sharing, even if it astonishes them as they do so. Sunlight and revelation bring peace. So many people are carrying secrets or thoughts of a different way to live. They don’t see the options until they see no way to continue.

“Buried emotions are always buried alive,” someone smart told me once.
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“Some people are empaths. I’m a telepath; people want me as far from them as possible.” – X
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“Hey X, do you smoke marijuana?”

“No, I prefer the natural flavor.”

That one took him a minute to understand.
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I think I’ll forego a regular walk or run today and see if I can run 100 floors of stairs. That seems fair, doesn’t it? My heartbeat objects. Maybe it knows the inventory of my allotted steps in life? Either way, my heart owes me a debt for liberating it from the sheath of excess that I put on it for two decades. And I owe it an apology. I’m lucky I didn’t give up, even as I constantly failed. Until I didn’t. It’s not the path that matters so much; it’s where you end up.
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To a specific friend, if you read this post, a phlebotomist I met at my doctor’s appointment LOVED your catchphrase: “Nothing tastes as good as this feels.” His eyes went wide and then he laughed. “Exactly!” he said. “I’m going to steal that without question. It’s perfect.” He’s a bodyweight fitness nut and looks like a flattened barrel in his upper torso. He wanted to know my story and secrets – and I shared both your phrase and The Blue Dress Project’s catchphrase, “Choose Your Hard.” He couldn’t believe my transformation and I told him that between the bell going off in my head and seeing people like you do it with a lot more obstacles than me, that I knew I was supposed to succeed. He understood, having done it himself. Don’t be surprised if it ends up on social media.
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The man who taught me one-on-one how to end an altercation quickly (and violently, if necessary) recommended a browser-based productivity timer. It works crazily well. I can set it for 5-minute increments. When the alarm of my choosing sounds, it’s time to do another interval of weights and/or stairs. Because I do most of my writing sitting at the computer, it’s a great way to create thoughtless and repetitive chunks of exercise. Because of the law of increments, I can artificially get a lot of movement each hour instead of relying on my motivation. The cat hates it though, especially if he’s perched on my lap as I type.
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The Lexapro is working very well. So is therapy. And time passing. As the curtains of other people’s lives continue to open to me, I realize that my problems are real – but inconsequential compared to the complexities that other people are living. It’s great that some parts of my life are a motivation to people. It’s also okay that some parts should serve as a warning. None of us are pristine or untouched by trauma, loss, indecision, doubt, or wanting.
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My “Ask” project is working well for me. It’s failed consistently, but that failure is changing me. I can feel it and observe it as it works its way into my nature. Some of the ongoing “No” has hurt me in a way that surprised and upset me. But I’ve kept asking, feeling the wave of “No” click a meter in my head. I don’t know where the true fulcrum of some of it lies; I’ll trust my instincts when it does. Once the meter has run to zero, we have to accept the truth of whatever we’ve been asking.

Ask
Ask for what you want or desire.
If you don’t, it is a certainty you’ll never get it.
Ask of life and ask of people.
The answer, though bitter or not what you sought…
It’s at least the truth.
Everything starts from there
Ask
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I walk past the place where the deceased are kept until they are retrieved for their funerals and remembrance. I walk past a lot. I’m surrounded during the day. By love, concern, fear, hundreds of individual stories unfold. How odd it is that such finality and drama barely pierces people’s consciousness. I know we have to protect ourselves or otherwise be flooded. Sometimes, though, we need to remember the hourglass sifting sand invisibly behind us. It’s a valuable motivator to know that your day is not a promise. It’s a gift, one which many of us waste on triviality.
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Somewhere In Time

I had another life, a Lowenstein of my own.
She walks the planet, fulfilled, and not alone.
The lesson is that everyone has a tightly drawn curtain.
When they fling it open, there is beauty and assertion.
To see someone from within their own head is a joy.
It’s agony when the curtain closes again, a closure that can destroy.
Every nuance and experience in life will change us,
if not derange us.
There is no return to the before.
There is only the after and absence,
paired with infinite reenactments.
Time does not cure us; it erodes us.
To know that somewhere in time,
that your life did not branch away from you,
is a breathtaking comfort and inner chime.

Out there, somewhere in time.
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I know this is an unusual post.

And that’s okay.

Love, X

Bobby Dean

He’s been gone 28 years today. He died at 3:33 in the morning. I was awake at that time this morning and took my first drink of coffee as I watched the minute click over. Nothing noteworthy happened unless you factor in the gratitude that I felt for still being here.

He violently tried to mold me into the man he thought he was. In doing so, he achieved the opposite result. And I’m grateful. His legacy is one of addiction, fists, and one of the wildest senses of humor I’ve ever experienced. He was in prison in Pendleton, Indiana, when he was in his 20s, and accumulated countless DUIs, fights, arrests, and violent confrontations. He also found his humanity from time to time and helped other people. I remind myself of those times as often as I can because they were just as much a part of him as the times he lashed out.

I think back to his funeral, with Jimmy and Mike sitting near me. Both of them are gone now. Both of them, unfortunately, absorbed much of the Terry inclination for self-destruction. Though I couldn’t apply the realization properly, I recognized at a young age that I was susceptible to much of the same sort of demons that possessed so many of my family. I learned to dance around them.

I was Bobby Dean’s accidental namesake. Not too many years before he died, I killed off that part of me, both in name and spirit.

It probably saved my life. Walking around with the people close to me calling me X was a constant reminder that I could choose my own way. While I have stumbled with the best of them, I’ve managed to keep my sanity all these years.

But through the arc of time, I still feel stirrings of Bobby Dean inside of me. Some of that is hard steel. Some of it is limitless humor. He taught me to take hard, unexpected punches and to swallow the blood, even if I did so through tears. At 54, things look entirely different to me. I don’t judge him as harshly as I once did. Being human has taught me that although I will never eclipse the stupidity and violence of some of my dad’s actions, I have that part of Bobby Dean inside of me. It is strangely comforting, even as I strive to be his opposite.

Were he alive, I would love to sit and have a coffee with him while he smoked a camel. And to talk to him about the sister I didn’t know I had. As reprehensible as the behavior was that led to her creation, it’s hard to fault the universe for the result. She’s a kind human being and proof that Bobby Dean could contribute to the creation of a stellar human being. If we met again, I don’t know whether we would hug or trade punches. Or both. But I do know that I would be overwhelmed. I can now see him as a person apart from being my dad. There was so much I could have learned from him; he was a mechanic, electrician, tiler, carpenter, painter, welder, gunsmith, outdoorsman, and farmer. If only he had acquired the skills to be loving, his life would have been ideal.

He, of course, hasn’t changed. He made his choices and left his footprints. He had his chance and walked the Earth. My understanding of him has changed. He would laugh at me and tell me to put my boots on and go out and get the punch in the face. He would also call me his favorite curse word: _ _ _ _ s u c k e r. Then offer me one of those horrible peppermint Brach candies that he loved.

Out of all the lessons I learned from him, one he didn’t even know he was teaching, is that we all need people and love. To find a way to get past what we’ve done and who we think we are. If we’re alive, we can use the steel and even the heartache to turn away from the things that make us lesser.

To Bobby Dean. Dad. Troubled human being.

Love, X
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P.S. Below are more pictures, some of which I amateurishly colorized. All of the images used in this post were originally in black and white.

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Dad in 1963. He was about 19.

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Dad standing on a horse, of course.

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Dad with Goldie, somewhere around 1974-75. He was 31, which blows my mind to consider.

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My sister Marsha, brother Mike, me. Seeing it in color changes everything.

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Me as a toddler. The picture looks strikingly different in color!

Get To Know Me

“It must be tough to convince someone who has been struck by lightning to stop playing the lottery.”

I saw this on the internet today.

It resonates with me because I say a version of it a LOT.

A couple of wild, improbable things happened to me when I was younger.

Those events help make me who I am. And people often forget it when they see me or think about my motivation in life.

I’m not sure how I put my head back together after either event.

But don’t come at me with “THAT’S not likely to happen” arguments.

If you get struck by lightning once in life, it makes you cautious. If you get struck twice, it makes you careless.

That’s a grain of truth that might help you to understand me.

Love, X

I Brought A Knife To a Gunfight

The picture is one I struggled to colorize. The girl behind the first row of boys is my mom Carolyn. This photo looks amazingly different with color. She looks amazingly different too; no matter what happened to her later in life, you can see for that moment through her smile and radiant eyes that she was happy.

I wrote something a couple of weeks ago that someone posted anonymously. They asked me to write something personal about life. Instead, my piece was about the tendency to let time gauze over the harsh parts of our stories. While I have no children, I was allegedly once one myself and I learned all the wrong lessons. Most of them didn’t translate into adult behavior or mechanisms to a good life. Earlier this week, I was telling a friend about my chance to skip my senior year of high school and attend John Brown University. It was difficult to attempt to explain that such an opportunity was an impossibility, given my homelife.

While all my missteps and stupidities are mine to own, I do find myself understanding my parents a little more now that I’ve stumbled in lesser ways than they did. It’s harder to be quite so judgmental after recognizing that intentions and actions often don’t coincide. I was no match for them; they were both immature adults pantomiming their lives. That’s not an accusation; it’s a realization.

That my mom had it in her to be as vibrantly happy as she was in the picture softens my criticism of her as a person.

“I brought a _ to a ___fight” was the encapsulation of my childhood in that piece of writing.

Love, X

Life Doesn’t Wait

I stood in the gravel, looking toward a mixture of history and nature, my head overwhelmed with the fact that just twelve days earlier, I thought I might die. I watched the sunlight through the trees and listened to the background of insects and the bustle of distant voices. The blanket of joy at just being alive and in such a beautiful place flooded me so overwhelmingly that I could barely muster the strength to film myself talking. I stopped filming when I felt my breath catch and the certainty of tears choked me. I’ve watched the clip several times over the last few weeks; each time, I reconnect with the gratitude of such a moment. No one has seen this clip. It’s not because I’m worried about how I look or sound; rather, it’s because I know that no one would recognize how much it took to just say the words without succumbing to the emotion.

It’s 52 days since my surgery. It’s been a year of moments in the interim. But I go back to that Sunday afternoon, knowing I’d be around to figure out what in the hell I am supposed to be doing. My experience was just a blip compared to what others are struggling with. I am so grateful for that decision to visit the place in the woods, so close to so many people and history.

Nevertheless, here’s the takeaway: people are the answer. Not places. Not moments. Sharing your time with friends and loved ones.

Your surprise will come soon enough. It’s inevitable.

If you can, appreciate what you have, who you are, and who you’re with.

Love, X

P.S. I’ll put a picture I took of my surgery incision from the bed when I fully woke up in the comments. It motivates me to overcome my anxiety.