Well I did kind of sort of sideways, I tried to resign my position with Pool Corp., our CEO sent me an e-mail right after hearing the news. He thinks it would be so much better if I were to just take a leave of absence, he told me to take up to six month They are sending me the paperwork in the mail, he told me to call him in a few months and let him know how I feel about it then. Who knew that 16 years of service to building the largest wholesale distribution company of pool equipment and supplies in the world would warrant a little understanding and loyalty. I was truly touched and will consider a return in a while but for now it is the furthest thing from my mind.
Now what to do? Do you know that other than when Joanne passed away I have not been off for more than two weeks straight in over twenty years. All the while I have been threatening to attempt writing in earnest again (it used to be my passion), well it looks as thought there is no time like the present. Wish me luck, I am still having a bit of separation anxiety from corporate America but that is to be expected, on the flip side I am starting to think that I can faintly hear my heart beating again.
Here is a brief history of the decade and part of the reason I am was so very ready to just take a break and concentrate a little bit on regaining myself.
The FRYING PANS and FIRES have been the theme of my life non-stop for nearly a decade now.
This coming Valentines Day will mark the 9th anniversary of my fathers passing. Have you ever been afforded the chance to hold someones hand in yours and be looking them squarely in their eyes when they are leaving us? I have been blessed to have had this most amazing experience happen twice, my father was the first. The one thing that struck me most was how his eyes, his eyes that had been foggy and glazed over from a week of heavy sedation and being attached to a ventilator, ever so slowly became crystal clear and blue again, it was the most amazing thing, very suddenly he was Joe again, he was no longer just a sick old man weakened by to long a stay in a hospital bed, once again he was soaring. Turning I glanced out the window, snow was falling heavily on the barren oaks in the distance, in a moment the branches were thick with it's white outline.
March 9th it will be 6 years since my mother left us, she went peacefully in her sleep, peacefully but alone. I was lucky enough to have spent a week with her only two months prior. I flew back to Pittsburgh for a reunion (school). Normally I always just rent a car and get a hotel, I like my privacy and have been doing that since my dad died and my mother moved out of the old house. This time for some reason that I did not know then, when she asked me if I would stay at her Senior Citizen Apartment building with her I said yes. This meant sleeping on the couch, being at her beckon call, and of course being paraded around the Senior building. Turned out it was one of the best decisions that I made in my life. Outside of the dinner and cocktail night portion of the reunion, which were fun but really. Catching up with people that you never really cared all that much about is fun but it was very easy to pass on the other functions. It allowed me to spend the entire week with my mother, we passed our time going to the movies, going out to lunch, dinner and just walking along the Allegheney River. We spent quite a bit of time just sitting on her porch chatting with her friends. My mother was always so very proud of her baby boy Jim, she used to love showing me off to her friends, telling them all about Joanne and Tara and of our magical lives we were living in California. At times I could hear the longing in her voice as she described how far away we were, I was never really sure as to exactly why she never would move west to be with us. Yes I know she had brothers, friends and my brother still all living in Pittsburgh, but I really think it was so she could be near the cemetery so she could visit her husband when she wanted to. I sat with the both of them this past Tuesday at Mount Carmel, we had a nice chat, granted I did most of the talking, but I tried to listen too. IT SNOWED while I was listening, its October and it snowed.
Four years ago this April I received a federal express package at my office, I knew exactly what it was but was still excited opening it, packages are fun to get. It was my season tickets (well partial season tickets) for the Angels, I split them up with my best friend Steve every year. I almost looked forward to bartering, arguing and every other type of begging and or conversation it took to split the tickets up. It had become a ritual. Immediately one hand went to the receiver the other was already dialing, the phone rang only once. Steve answered, I was very excited and so I just blurted out "I Got Something" "I Got the Angel Tickets" Steve responded almost as quickly "I Got Something too" "I Got Cancer". I felt like throwing up, I started to shake. My wife had been diagnosed right after my father died and now my best friend was telling me he had cancer too, I told him I was coming over and hung up the phone. Steve told me he had been diagnosed with a type of Melanoma that usually only attacks teens. Well that figures, Renal Cell the type of cancer that my wife had usually only attacks men. Sadly Steve's cancer was very very aggressive, he was gone that same August a scant five months from our phone call, we still shared our tickets, mostly we just went together. Towards the end we would just sit in silence and watch the game. He didn't make it to the end of the season. I have been described as a fairly social person but I have never been one for a lot of close friends. I miss having a best friend so very much, not sure I have enough years left in me to cultivate a relationship like that again.
April 30th of next year will mark the 3rd anniversary that Joanne, also known as the Late Great Mrs. Priest left me. She was to be my second experience with holding someone at the time of there death. She had been home under hospice care for two weeks, when they gave me the choice it was not a consideration to put her in a nursing home, I would just sit and hold her hand for the better part of the day knowing the moment was coming. This time it was a wry smile that struck me the most. Even through the completely demoralizing and devastating feelings I experienced at that moment I saw the smile come. Before the tears flowed, before the sighs and the feeling that my chest was collapsing came, I saw it. Mrs. Priest had a Cheshire smile that could melt a glacier, light up an entire ballroom, make the grumpiest of the old mens hearts go pitter pat, it was a smile that always said someone loves you. I miss that smile so very much.
All the small things between then and now that somehow seem so hard for me to do, well they really are. The whole starting to date thing, the actually sleeping with another woman, all the while trying to make new friends its all just so very hard. No parents to talk to anymore is very difficult, I never imagined being an orphan. It was so especially hard to tell someone that I loved them and even harder still to finally have my heart broken again.
If it wasn't for my wonderful daughter Tara, who I would walk the earth for, I am not sure how I would have made it this far. Somehow, because of her I want to be me more than ever once again, after all it is ME that she loves and it is me that she depends upon. Yes I still want to be that good son, and yes I want to be that very best friend, and yes I still do want to be that perfect husband, not that I ever really and truly were any of these things but the people, these people that I shared my life with, they always let me think that I was somehow all of those things, that is what has made my life worth while; the people.
From time to time Tara still lets me think that I am the best dad ever and for now that is enough. Someday perhaps I will find another friend, maybe even find another smile but for now..yes at least for now that is quite enough.
One always dies too soon --or too late. And yet one's whole life is complete at that moment, with a line drawn neatly under it, ready for the summing up. You are--your life, and nothing else...