the reminders are everywhere

Last night I came home exhausted. Sometimes dialysis leaves me a crampy, washed out mess. Yesterday was one of those days. My sofa was calling my name. But it was not to be. Mom needed help.

We have contractors coming Saturday morning to rip the roof off of our garage and they needed us to get all of the junk in the upstairs of the garage moved to the back. It’s a project I’ve been planning but I was putting it off until the fall because in August the attic of the garage is blistering hot. I wasn’t about to make mom do it alone so I sucked it up and headed up.

It was hot. Africa hot. After a few minutes I was dripping. Ten sweaty, swamp-ass minutes later I was down to two unmarked cardboard boxes. I went over to them, dragged them from the overhang and opened them. They contained Dad’s miniature truck collection.

Dad drove a truck for 35 years. Retail home oil delivery. Over the road Gasoline hauling. He could legally drive anything with wheels. He loved trucks. By extension I did also. By the time I was 12 I could name any truck by name, model and approximate year by the headlights alone (still can). It wasn’t enough that he spent 60-65 hours a week driving, he also had to have his den covered with replicas of 18 wheelers with Wal-Mart, Harley Davidson, etc. markings. Dump trucks, concrete mixers, you name it he had it. Until he passed and my mom put them in storage. I had forgotten about them.

Many years ago Dad gave me some model trucks as presents. I brought them to work with me but they never had a proper place so they sat in the corner of my office in their boxes. When he passed in 2013 I broke down and bought a large bookcase for my office. I dedicated 2 large shelves to mementos of him. The trucks, a collectible baseball that he bought for me, a portrait of him and a license plate from 1929 that I found in my Grandfather’s garage. It was on his first car.

When people came in my office they were naturally drawn to my homemade shrine. It afforded me the opportunity to talk about my dad. Of course, its primary purpose was to inspire me when I was down. He taught me to work hard. To act with integrity. To always do what I say and do it well. To be a man that takes pride in what he does.

They look like just trucks. But they represent so much more to me. Hard work, dedication and pride. He may have been only a truck driver but he was the only one in his family to pull himself out of abject poverty and make something out of himself. And he did it by learning a skill, dedicating his life to it and raising his family through his efforts.

I will spend the day Sunday finding a place to display them again. I miss him more than words can ever express, but there is never a moment when I see a truck, real or model, that I don’t think of him.

Lessons unlearned

I came home today to be greeted by the sounds of Circular Saws and Hammers. The Contractors are finally finishing work on our Farmer’s Porch that they started in October. On the way into the house I paused to watch in fascination as they measured, cut and nailed with such precision and skill. And, as often happens, I triggered myself. Again.

I can’t hear a saw, a hammer or a drill without thinking about how much I didn’t learn from my father despite the many offers and opportunities. My dad was beyond handy, he could do almost anything with his hands. My earliest memories were of my dad rebuilding our house as we lived in it. He would work from 5 AM to 6 PM or later, slam down a quick dinner and then go to work until at least 10. The saw and hammer were sounds I knew at a very early age.

As I got older Dad tried to enlist my assistance, not because he necessarily needed help but instead to teach me. I was eager to help him but not very interested in learning anything new. This was odd for me because I was an eager student in every other aspect of life. I would pull nails from a pile he created, I could swing a hammer fairly well but offers of learning to measure, use woodworking tools and such were dropped due to lack of interest. Even offers of car maintenance were met with tepid enthusiasm despite our shared love of everything to do with cars.

One incident really stands out in my mind. One evening when I was in my late teens Dad offered to show me how to change the oil on my car. He had it already in the garage, the drive up lifts set up and all. The house phone rang (cell phones weren’t invented yet) and it was my girlfriend (she was goddamn gorgeous if that is relevant at all here) and she was imploring me to come over her house. I told her I was doing something with my Dad that was important and she insisted that it was very important. I had to make a decision and I can honestly say that I made the wrong one. I blew off my Dad.

The look of disappointment on his face was tangible. In my feeble defense, I really thought my girlfriend needed me. That almost helped me pull out of the garage feeling good about myself. Almost.

I arrived at my girlfriend’s house 20 minutes later and knocked on her door. She yelled for me to come up. I went upstairs, asking as I climbed the steps if she was ok, still very curious as to what the emergency was. As I entered her room and saw her lying there buck naked with a rose between her teeth I knew that I had been suckered. It was merely a sexual emergency. I somehow managed to get through it but soon after I began to feel bad.

I apologized profusely to my Dad the next day. He was curt and brief with me. He wasn’t mad, he was disappointed and that was always so much worse. He told me that he had offered to show me something for the last time. It was a pivotal moment in my relationship with my father and one of many regrets that I have from my childhood with regards to my dad. If I could talk to him for only five minutes it would be a priority in the conversation. He was such a hard-working and self-taught man. I admired him so. I take some comfort in many other things that I did learn from him that have made me the person I am but there is still a lot of regret.

Sorry Dad, how’s it go…If I knew now what I didn’t know then?

Right place, right time

I can’t help but notice that lately, I have found myself in exactly the right place at the right time.

Last weekend, at Wal-Mart, I was walking in the right place when a young boy broke free from his mother’s clutch in the parking lot.  I took two steps and grabbed him by the arm before he made it into the path of traffic. The mother gave me a breathless Thank you and I tipped my beloved Red Sox Scalli Cap at her and went on my way.

Yesterday I was at the Supermarket and I noticed a sweet old lady staring helplessly at an item on the top shelf. I knew she wanted it, I knew she wouldn’t ask for help and I also knew no one was going to even if she did. I approached her, asked if she would like some help and retrieved the item for her. She was so grateful, it’s sad that the world has come to this. Then, one aisle over, a very short mother with two toddlers caused an accidental avalanche of cereal boxes by reaching and I caught several boxes before they hit her on the head.

None of these things were too out of the ordinary, but they were bunched pretty tightly together. As I tend to do, I was reminded of a memory, a time when being in the right place at the right time became a day that I will never forget. One that also, for the first time, convinced me that my Dad may have been right when he told me that everything happens for a reason.

After my Kidney Transplant in 2011, I chose to join the Fraternity of Freemasonry. It was something that I had always thought about as a younger man. It started as far back as my Great Uncle Cyrus’s funeral. He was a wonderful man that just lived too far away so I barely knew him as a child. We exchanged letters and my Grandmother said that he was quite fond of me despite our few meetings.

In 1981 Cyrus passed away. My Mom, Dad, Grandparents and I made the trek to clean out his stately house on the coast of Cape Cod. It took the whole weekend to dig through his belongings and it would conclude with the reading of his last will and testament. I don’t remember everything about it but I do remember when the attorney announced that I was to receive his late wife’s car, a 65 Ford Falcon ( a real gem that I had for years). The other standout from that day was my the dismayed look on my Grandmother’s face as a seemingly endless list of $5000.00 donations to various institutions and charities was read. It was money that she thought she would get as the Executrix of his will. I would later find out that those donations were made in the name of Freemasonry, the oldest and most honorable fraternity in the world. I was intrigued, to say the least.

In 2012 I was consumed with the desire to “pay it forward” after a wonderful person stepped out of the shadows and gave me a life-saving organ transplant. I decided that it was the perfect time to look into Freemasonry, to honor my Great Uncle and better myself. You may have heard that Freemasonry, or Masonry, is highly secretive. To a degree that is true. We have some. But it is no secret that men join to become better men; better husbands, fathers, brothers, friends etc.,. they are known to do this through those things which are larger than oneself. Charity chief among them.

I applied, petitioned for membership and in February, a date that I hoped my father would live to see (he died the previous December), I became a Master Mason. It was the beginning of my journey to being a better person and I had a fire in my belly.

That very February I learned about a Masonic program called the “HELP” program. It is created by, managed and operated exclusively by Masons, all of which are unpaid volunteers. It is an incredible program, we collect donated medical equipment and supplies from families who have either lost a relative or recuperated from a serious illness. It is a program spread by word-of-mouth only and is free to the public for as long as they need it. I knew that I had to check it out so I signed up to volunteer the following Saturday morning.

The local chapter of the Help program was in the parking lot of a local Masonic lodge where they worked out of locked storage containers. We were fortunate to have an unseasonably warm day for February. It wasn’t hard to imagine how unpleasant it must have been on cold, wintry days. Being my first day, I knew nothing about what to do other than signing in. So I took the opportunity to survey the equipment they had to offer. I was actually amazed at the number of motorized beds, mattresses. walkers, commodes, adult diapers and therapeutic equipment available to the public. I was also quite impressed with the amount of fellow Masons, or Brothers as we call each other, toiling away repairing and cleaning equipment and preparing for the rush. As the Newbie, I just sat back and watched.

It wasn’t long before “the rush” began. Cars filled the parking lot and people were milling about looking at the equipment. I was standing awkwardly at the back when a woman walked up to me and abruptly asked me if I “worked here”. I quickly replied that I was a volunteer but I would be glad to help her. To be honest, at first impression I didn’t like her. She was abrupt, seemed impatient and she violated my cardinal rule, she didn’t say hello to me. Fortunately, I quickly reminded myself where I was and why people came here. They had a very ill person to care for. I gave her my full attention.

She truly had no idea what she needed and after aimlessly dragging me around she admitted it. I inquired of her who was sick and the condition. To my amazement, she answered that it was her father, 74, who was in the advanced phase of Parkinson’s disease. I was floored. Just 2 months before I had lost my father, at 74, to Parkinson’s. I became emotional but I adhered to the task at hand. I began to show her all of the equipment that we had available that would make caring for her father easier. I got her a walker, a commode. a lift that helps get a person out of bed and many more items. We spent over an hour picking the items out and talking about our dads.

After we “checked out” all of the equipment I walked to her van to help her load everything into her car. As I was lifting one of the heavier items she asked me why I (we) do this. I explained to her that Masons are a charitable group and we, by definition help people. She asked me if I was here every Saturday. I explained that it was entirely up to me how often I volunteered. She looked me in the eye and asked me,

“What are the odds that you and I would pick this Saturday and that I would end up asking you, perhaps the best person ever to help me out, for help?”

“I think this is a moment that was meant to happen. I sincerely hope that it will be of assistance to your father.”

She smiled, reached in and hugged me (catching me completely by surprise) and walked around her car to get in. As she ducked out of sight into her seat she smiled again. It was a sad smile, almost forced through a face heavy with sadness, but it was one I will never forget.

There were many lessons learned that day but the predominant theme was that it was an incredible case of “right place, right time.”

And it is a tough act to follow.

 

Where’s the Grief?

Today I attended a memorial service for a man that I never met. I know his widow, she is a dear friend of my Mother’s. I know that he was a good friend of my father, that matters to me. I also know that he died of Parkinson’s, as did my father. What a terrible thing to have in common.

The church was packed when I arrived today. The bells of the 180-year-old church clanged, reverberating through our little town as I walked in.
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Just in time. On any given Sunday I could walk in and find a seat in the third row. For today’s memorial, with friends and family coming from all over in addition to the regulars, seating was limited and I ended up in the back row.

After the Reverend delivered his opening remarks and I suffered through 2 hymns and a responsive reading the first speaker, the oldest son, was invited to say some words about his deceased father. My first reaction was the admiration of his courage. He was attempting what I would not. I remember wanting badly to deliver my father’s eulogy but I was self-aware enough to know that I wouldn’t get through it, I would get too emotional. I wrote it, my Reverend read it on my behalf, and I sat there and cried. At words that I wrote. Pathetic. But I can only imagine the train wreck I would have been if I attempted to do it. So with great sympathy, a sense of kinship with a man I had never met for what we now had in common, and a curious ear, I listened to his remarks. It was a touching speech, he used a lot of big words, he referenced a lot of things that he admired about his Dad, what he learned from him and how they were different. Something just didn’t sit well with me, something was missing. May I be struck dead by lightning if I’m a shit for thinking this but, where was the emotion? Have I set the bar so high in my own mind about eulogizing fathers that I am actually grading his performance? Shaking my head and quietly dismissing that crazy notion I still don’t know why it bothers me that this guy didn’t cry or tear up a little.
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My mother cared for my father as Parkinson’s ravaged his body and reduced him to a withered shell. The last 3 years were awful. My mother didn’t cry that much at the funeral, but she’s not a crier. We are a family of “bottle-it-up-and-snap-someday” personalities. When she began dating a mere 6 months after his death I struggled with it. When I asked her how she could date so soon she said that she did her mourning while he was still alive. That his passing was expected and just the final step. I don’t get it but it’s her process. With this in mind, I waited patiently in line to pay my regards to the family and when I met him I congratulated him on his remarks. I mentioned that his dad and my dad were friends and both had the same disease. He gave me a big smiley thank you, which threw me off, and I asked him how he was able to deliver it without breaking down. I was clear that it wasn’t a criticism, only that I could never have done it without breaking down. He didn’t have an answer. Maybe Mom was right. He watched his father suffer for years so maybe he was just ready for it. But, here’s the kicker, so did I. And I was still an emotional, blubbering mess when my father died.

The first time I discovered my fear of speaking in public was at my Grandfather’s funeral in 2002. I offered to write his eulogy and I really made an effort to capture the man. He was 92 so I celebrated his life and spoke of some fond memories. As I spoke I was sad of course, he was a major influence on me, but as I said, he was 92. I focused on his best traits. His wicked sense of humor, his honesty, and integrity, his simple way of life were well known and celebrated. Still, I barely got through it, I broke down. The small crowd didn’t care, their takeaway was how much like him I was (an indisputable truth). It was a learning experience.

When my dad passed I knew that I would be the one to memorialize him. As I stated earlier, I wrote a long eulogy, perhaps too long, about his influence on me, his defining qualities of being a great friend, co-worker, dad, husband. I spared nothing, as I do in my blog, telling of my regrets at things left unsaid and how he simply deserved better. It brought the house down. As people filed past me, one even said, in tears, “I have to go and call my father now.” Moved and grateful as I was, I didn’t have a big smile on my face. I was a wreck. I didn’t want kudos on my speech, I wanted my father back.

Now I sit here and wonder if the son, the man who gave a beautiful but emotionless speech, had the same experiences I did? The ones that you would never talk about in a memorial because people don’t want to hear it.

I wonder if he ever heard his father cry because he knew, that no matter how hard he tried to hang on, he wouldn’t be around to celebrate his next wedding anniversary with his lifelong sweetheart? They were married 49 years.

I wonder if he ever saw his father on the toilet, unable to wipe himself and too weak to stand, trying (he could barely speak) to get me to get his caretaker to wipe his ass because he did not want me to see him like that?

I wonder if his father ever pulled him close and in a forced whisper say, “Gun…key” in his ear, imploring him to go downstairs, find the key to the cabinet, get a gun and let him fucking end it?

I wonder if he has loose ends, things he wanted to say but couldn’t, or didn’t. Apologies or thank you’s?

I wonder if he is haunted by feeding the man who taught him to use a spoon, his dinner through one?

I wonder if he wants to scream at the top of his lungs “Fuck YOU Parkinson’s” like I do. Every day.

I wonder if it’s just me. Maybe I’m just being a jerk. We all grieve differently and we all handle things differently. His father died a week ago, I lost mine 5 years ago. Why am I the emotional one?

Spring is coming

 

February is my least favorite month of the year. Despite the days getting a bit longer, it tends to be a cold, grey and boring month. Football is over, and I am a fair-weather Basketball and Hockey fan at best. Fortunately, it’s a short month.

We joke in New England that the first snow falls it is a Glorious occasion when all is white and pure, each flake unique and beautiful. By February the very mention of snow has you hurling F-bombs at the TV. That’s where I’m at right now. I’m just sick of winter.

It snowed again last night. The weather forecast last night called for an inch or two so when I woke up to see about 6 inches of powdery aggravation I wasn’t pleased. I would have “geared myself up” for the shoveling, spreading of rock salt and cleaning off cars. Wanting to get it over with, I skipped my morning coffee and went right to it. It was light snow so I made quick work of it. Stopping to gather my breath, I felt warmth in the air. I looked around and I noticed that melting had already started. I took off my hat and gloves and just stood on the deck, staring at the landscape around me. I could feel it, it’s almost over. Spring will be here soon.

Spring is my favorite season. I thrive on warmth and sunlight. I barely tolerate winter, I accept it as a necessary evil if I am to live in this region but the short days and lack of sunlight take a terrible toll. On the first warm day of Spring, I will be found outside face skyward, soaking in the rays like a desert flower after a terrible drought.
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It is New Years Day for Mother Nature, a new beginning as grass turns green, leaves bud on trees, the little critters poke their heads out of hiding, and the Red Sox are in Fort Myers, Florida gearing up for another long season of glorious Baseball.

I can’t think of Spring without thinking of Baseball, and I can’t think of Baseball without thinking fondly of my Dad. When I was a kid, my father was still working his way up the seniority list at his job and he would be laid off almost every Spring. Dad was a Heating Oil Delivery driver and the warm weather meant slow business. I was thrilled to have him around, he worked almost around the clock during the winter. I never saw him. Spring became an association for me. Warm weather, school vacation, Dad is home and we’re gonna watch the Sox.
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Dad and I didn’t have a whole lot in common, but we loved Baseball. He taught me to play and we loved to talk about it. One of my favorite memories was watching games on our 3 season porch on a 19-inch black and white Emerson TV with “rabbit ears” antennae. Dad and I would make sure all of the yard work was done in time to sit down for the game. I would listen to him attentively as he explained the strategy of baseball, his most and least favorite players and why he rated them so. It was the only time he wasn’t bustling about and trying to keep busy. When a game was on he was in his seat, beer in hand and relaxed. Until the Bullpen blew a lead, which happened often, at which time he was not so relaxed. Those were hard times economically, but they were special to me.

Today I saw a glimmer of my favorite season. I see on my Calendar that there are 10 days left of my least favorite month. While March can often suck weather-wise, it can also be a good month. And it is one month closer to Spring. Even though I still have 6-foot snowbanks all around my house, I can almost smell the fresh-cut grass, hear the crack of the bat, the children excitedly cheering each other on. And I can still see Dad, Tanned and sweaty, in his faded Boston Red Sox Hat and wife-beater T-shirt calling me, telling me to “hurry up” before I miss the first pitch.

What I wouldn’t do to hear that just one more time.
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The cool dad

The one thing I will never get used to is not seeing my children as often as I used to. I went from every day to a few times a month in one fell swoop. I keep my complaining to a minimum, it’s been hard for all of us. When it all collapsed, we went separate directions, no one’s situation was ideal. My problem was that I never felt right with the world once I was deprived of my nightly conversations with them.

When they were younger I would famously extend bedtime by telling extra stories or watching another show. I was complicit, if not the architect. of some serious bedtime schemes. My oldest daughter came up with her famous “asthma-scam” when she was 7. She has asthma so she would fake a raspy cough, I would get the nebulizer and give her a breathing treatment. Mom never figured it out that she was getting an extra 20 minutes with Dad on the sofa. I had something like this with all of them. I wasn’t home a lot of nights until almost bedtime so, selfish as it was, I found ways to get more. As the kids got older, the books and TV shows became nightly talks. Each kid had that one thing that they liked to discuss with me. Occasionally these talks morphed into conversations that most parents dread, but they happened so organically that it became easy. My kids talked often of their “Dad time” to their friends. We often had a yard full of neighborhood kids. I was the “cool dad”. Even as they got older my kids would tell me how much their friends liked me, that I was different than their own Dads. I was just being me. It wasn’t that difficult, I listened to them. I let them make their mistakes and I gave reasonable advice, not guilt trips. I fostered open communication and a friendly relationship without compromising my role as a father.
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After the collapse, I found myself 100 miles from them. I make the trip down as often as I can but when I do it is a long, carefully planned ordeal because they are all over the place. Two here, one there, one I need to see at his or her work, etc. It sucks but it isn’t going to change anytime soon. I make the most of the time I have with them.

Saturday I got a call from my oldest, asking me when I was going to meet her new boyfriend, who she is apparently semi-living with, and my new Grand-dog Coda. a six-month-old Husky. I told her I would come down Sunday morning. I then called my youngest 2 and found that one was available and one was at a sleepover. I told him when I would pick him up. I then reached out to my oldest son to see if he was working. He was moving into his new apartment that day so he would be available. I called my oldest and informed her that her boyfriend was going to meet all of us except our youngest and my wife, who was working. Her reaction was “John is going to freak out”. I assured her it would be alright. And don’t forget to bring the Dog.

We met at the restaurant at noon. Just by meeting him in the lobby I knew that the boyfriend was exactly as nice as my daughter had described. We got a table for 5 and sat down. John and I got along great. My daughter seemed happy. I caught them smiling at each other and heard her whisper I told you you’d like him. Dinner was great, probably because the one that would have stressed everyone out was at work. I picked up the tab, despite great resistance from John and we parted ways. I would not get to meet the dog that day but I was now off with my oldest boy to see his new apartment.

When we got to the new bachelor pad I parked and told him to lead the way. I grabbed the 30 pack of Bud that was in my trunk and we went in. When we got to the top of the stairs, I handed the 30 pack to them and said “Housewarming gift. I thought of giving you food but I knew you needed this more”. They were pumped. I did my tour and I left.

I dropped the younger boy at his house, bid goodbye and began my 2 hour ride home. I turned my Spotify on and ignored my phone the entire ride. When I pulled into my driveway I opened my text messages. There were 2, one from the oldest daughter and one from my oldest son. They read, respectively.

“John can’t believe how cool you are!”

“Dad, my friends said that I have the coolest dad ever”.

How about that? I’ve still got it!
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The elephant in the room

 

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It’s time to address https://lindaghill.com/2018/01/26/jusjojan-daily-prompt-january-26th-2018/ the 800-pound elephant in my living room. This Superman shit is getting out of hand. It’s a real thing (obviously, it’s the name of my blog), and it’s getting in my way and clouding my judgment.

There is good Superman. Like the time I was driving my daughter’s friend home. She and my youngest were in the back seat, we were in traffic and when the light turned Green the horns started blaring. Cars started going around the lead car and I realized that the car was stalled. My youngest elbowed her friend and said “watch this’ as I opened my door, in traffic, ran over and helped push the disabled car to the side of the road. After I knew the driver was all set for a tow I got back in the car. I asked my daughter what she had meant by her comment and she said: “I knew you would help that car.” I pointed out to her that no one else did and she said, “Dad, it’s a good thing.”

There have been many of those. I won’t apologize for them. Then there is the “bad” Superman that takes on too much and sacrifices his own health in the process. I have been guilty of that as well. Would you believe me if I told you, and I can’t be more honest than I am at this moment, that I really don’t think about what is good for me? I’m not looking for a cookie like some deadbeat Dad on Springer. I really don’t care what happens to me. The only pleasure I get out of life is helping others.

When my health was deteriorating severely pre-transplant I managed to put up a serious fight. To not worry my kids, to keep my job and continue to support my family I pushed myself too far. My boss praised me, my wife chastised me. Bad Superman was born. I like how it worked out. Denial wasn’t just a river in Egypt, it was a great way to get to the end zone. I found mental strength in the absence of physical.

As I came out of the fog of anesthesia post-transplant, my eyes strained to see a doctor hovering above me. He asked me when I had last worked. I asked what day it was. Tuesday night? I responded that I worked until noon the day before. He asked if I knew the criteria for dialysis (which I stubbornly refused to do). I did not. He informed me that I was ten times over the limit for dialysis and he was amazed that I didn’t have a heart attack. That explained a lot but I didn’t really care, I was alive now right? The doctor left the room shaking his head. He wasn’t impressed. He thought I was just an irresponsible jagoff. He was probably right, but again, it worked for me.

On recovery, I was consumed by the need to get back in shape and pay back the gift I had been given. In that order. I worked out like crazy, I even did P90X. My Transplant surgeon said, “Kidney transplant patients don’t do P90X”. I said, “they do now.” Once I felt good, I began to help other people. I volunteered, I led kid’s mountain bike expeditions. I joined the Freemasons to really put a stamp on my commitment to be a better person and help others. I was a better father, friend, coworker and overall person. I tried to be a better husband, but that ship had sailed already. In the midst of this quest for purity of the soul, I got lazy about my medications and I had a rejection episode. A hospital stay and enough prednisone to kill a stampeding Rosie O’Donnell later I was down about 15% kidney function. Bad Superman. Lesson possibly but not likely learned.

Here and now, in the present, I have found a day that I can’t save. I’ve finally found my true Lex Luthor. My wife. Since we agreed to divorce, she has been noticeably depressed. Her best friend, who my wife famously “picked” over me as her confidante and number one, is telling me that something is wrong with her. While highly tempted to tell her, as the anointed yin to her yang, to fix it herself I am instead terribly worried. Her living situation really does suck. She lives with the best friend, the household is a real disaster. Between the lack of privacy, the new and increasingly frequent arguments with each other (which my wife is completely unequipped to handle), and lack of money she really is slipping into a depression. I saw just how bad it was Wednesday night. At my daughter’s 16th birthday of all places.

Instead of a “sweet 16” party she deserves, with a hundred guests fawning over the wonderful, sweet, caring and amazing girl that I would actually die without, we had a small gathering at the aforementioned house of horrors. I hate it there but I gladly drove 2 hours there. I wouldn’t miss it. My 2 oldest were unable to make it and I walked into a true shit show. My wife was livid, she was fighting with her friend and for some reason barely talking to me. I managed to get her alone for a minute and stupidly asked her if she was ok.

“Fucking great, living the dream.”

I fumbled a bit and then told her that I am used to her not being happy, but I’d never seen her depressed. I told her I was worried about her. She told me that there is nothing that I can do.

We tabled it for the moment and went on to celebrate my daughter’s special day. God bless her, she managed to make the most of it. She’s used to being disappointed I suppose. I showed her the blog post I wrote for her the other night (in confidence). She cried, in a good way. In the absence of material things, I made the gesture of words and she appreciated it. When I left, I gave my wife half of the measly earnings I had made this week. She gave me a weak thank you, a half-assed smile and I left.

“There’s nothing you can do” echoed through my head the entire ride home, haunted me in my sleep and was waiting for me when I awoke. The fact is, there is something that I can do. I can go back to work. It is very likely that I will be offered a full-time position in April. If I get a good enough offer, it may be time to cancel the SSDI claim, take care of myself and hope for the best. I would be able to give my wife enough to get a place of her own, or at least make her situation better. I would be doing something, instead of resigning myself to accepting things the way they are. I just have to determine the cost. It could be up to or in excess of the limitations of my body.

I have known my wife for 29 years. Married for almost 23. She raised four amazing children. Despite some notable wrinkles, she has been a good wife for the entire time. I can’t leave her like this. I know I’m not well. but when has that ever stopped me? As a man of integrity, the right way is the only option and I can’t help but feel that I am not doing all that I can.

Is this the true test of my lack of concern for my own well-being? I know that at least one of you out there is going to agree with this…in order to save others, I have to put my own mask on first.

Dammit Superman, what are you going to do now?