Friday, April 29, 2011

Request for prayers

Between me and you I started writing this blog before the Angel was born on April 27th, a day that Jacki and Zach were sent down a life path traveled by so many others before them. The path is soft and spongy from the tears that have been shed. Those having previously traveled the path don’t initially notice that the flowers and trees lining the path are bright, colorful and growing beautifully.

I noticed lately a lot of our friends are asking for help in the way of prayer requests. My mother-in-laws niece, a co workers infant daughter, a soldiers spouse left behind, and a buddy’s step daughter are all part of my normal prayers. I say a prayer most days thanking God for my life, my wife, family, friends, and soldiers serving everywhere. I almost always ask that people everywhere learn to play well with others regardless of their beliefs and religion. I normally say my prayers during my morning commute to work. Those of you driving by me may smirk thinking I’m doing the sign of the cross in hopes of making it to the fuel pumps, or that I’m praying that my car makes it in to work. No, I’m actually praying to God asking him to look out for our friends from Texas in hopes their health improves or our friends from Warba and Cottage Grove that their lives will be better as they recover. I never forget to thank the big guy for my life and the spectacular sunrises and the rather impressive sunsets I witness almost daily.

Lately I’ve asked God to help Jacki and Zach travel through the muddy waters. I can honestly say it’s hard to stand in line watching my daughter traveling on the roller coaster of life without stepping forward to make sure that her PPE (Personal Protection Equipment) is in place. Like everyone else I ask the big guy to help them, guide them, and be there as they make their journey. It’s not easy, in fact sometimes I feel like Helen Keller as I stand there not knowing what to say or how to express one’s self.

Not so long ago I heard the pain in Jacki’s voice as she asked me on the phone if Mom was there. I knew instantly something was the matter and waited anxiously to hear exactly what. My worst fears were realized as Mom relayed that Jacki was having complications with her pregnancy. I thought to myself then as I do now that they are already dealing with more than their fare share of troubles. I want to step forward and lighten their load but I know their load is theirs to carry right now. I pray they find their way and they ask God to help them through this troubled time. For the record, I’ve asked God to help all my kids and to be with them all as they travel through life. There is a poem I have always liked titled “Footprints in the Sand” that has always made me reflect on life.

"Footprints in the Sand"

One night I dreamed I was walking along the beach with the Lord. Many scenes from my life flashed across the sky.

In each scene I noticed footprints in the sand. Sometimes there were two sets of footprints, other times there were one set of footprints.

This bothered me because I noticed that during the low periods of my life, when I was suffering from anguish, sorrow or defeat, I could see only one set of footprints. So I said to the Lord,

"You promised me Lord that if I followed you, you would walk with me always. But I have noticed that during the most trying periods of my life there have only been one set of footprints in the sand. Why, when I needed you most, have you not been there for me?"

The Lord replied, "The times when you have seen only one set of footprints, is when I carried you.”

Yesterday I too sent out a prayer request on Face book and through my e mail account asking everyone to keep Jacki, Zach and their family in their prayers. Maybe I was too late in asking everyone’s help or maybe the doctor was right when he said “Sometimes there is nothing you can do if it wasn’t meant to be”. Instead of accepting either one I believe it wasn’t his time and that God needed him more. Baby Hercules will never know the world eagerly awaiting his arrival. He will never witness the glorious sunrise or sunsets that God has painted for us. But I feel in my heart and soul that baby Hercules will know he was loved by many and he will be forever. I pray he is with our family now on the other side walking hand in hand with those that have gone before us.

Jacki I swear to you it will get better. I mentioned in the hospital that your mom and I lost a child (Samantha) as well. I find comfort in knowing that through the tragedy of death comes a new commitment to each other and the future. When Mom gave birth to you, and later Josh it truly was a miracle. I can say that being a parent isn’t always about the good times, nor is it about the bad. What life is about in my eyes is celebrating the love we have, the life we have had, and the dreams of what the future hold. I’m asking you to carry a piece of Hercules with you in your heart. I also ask that you teach your family to dance as though no one is watching you. Love as though you have never been hurt before. Sing as though no one can hear you. Live as though heaven is on earth.

Look back years from now and wonder about the man he may have been. Then ask yourself if Hercules would be proud of you for the life you led. Your mom was right in saying we should plant a tree in honor of Hercules. Your idea of plating a weeping willow in his memory is beautiful. His brothers helping plant the tree will make the event all that much more meaningful. If you want we could release some helium balloons carrying messages from the boys. I have beautiful spot in mind near the pond where we can place a park bench. It will be a place to sit in quiet solitude or perhaps listen to the kids as they play nearby. Imagine the whisper of the wind blowing gently through the branches. With the crickets, frogs and the rest of nature’s choir providing the background music. As the seasons change your heart will heal and you will move on with your life.

As I get a little older I get a little wiser. Knowing what I know now, I’m asking my family now before its too late to not morn my death, instead I ask that you celebrate my life and take with you a part of me as you live your life day to day.

That is all,

P.S. To the duck that held it all together I am proud of you. You were swimming in the pond without even a ripple on the surface of the water. While under the surface you were kicking your legs for all they were worth to stay afloat. It’s ok to rest now and let Jacki know your innermost feelings. Part of the healing process is to share your feelings and to grow together through this experience. I’m asking you from one father to another to let your boys see your tears in order for them to know that it’s going to be ok. Tears are nature’s way of making a bad situation better!

Friday, April 22, 2011

Making it Right – 22 APR 11

Before I begin I must say I thought that there were very few people left that were still reading my blog. Had I known that my last posting was a little off I may have rethought my posting, then again probably not. To those of you that called me to chat, sent me an e mail or voiced your opinion to mom thank you for your criticism. If I offended you with my last posting consider this my apology, if I didn’t offend you just give me a chance.

Yesterday I spent some time on the internet trying to find out who the fire marshal in my area is in order to get a burning permit. You see I was kind of nervous after talking to a colleague at the VFW who had a run in with the local law. I have spent a few years burning brush at the cabin under the assumption that I didn’t need a permit. Just understand I always have a shovel or a rake nearby and a cell phone in my pocket just in case one of those “Hold my beer and watch this moment“ happens. For some reason or other I had it in my mind that when I asked at the courthouse they said I didn’t need a burning permit. Then again maybe I asked while there was still snow on the ground, who knows for sure.

I wasn’t in the mood to gamble so I decided it was time to get a burn permit. I was thankful that there was an on line application after my fire marshal search left me more than a little frustrated. What a deal $5.00 for a yearlong permit and never having to run to town and get a permit ever again. I filled out the application, located my cabin on the map and then I gave my payment information. I did everything right or so I thought. I stopped at the place in my road where cell phone coverage stops to make my call. I called the number and complied with the request for my permit number and hit the pound key afterwards. I thought the message said thank you but some burning restrictions are in place. The call was scratchy at best but left me with no further options. I hung up and backed up some to get the best of both bars on my cell phone. I redialed the number and went through the process again. Sure enough the message said some burning restrictions are in place.

Thinking to myself I said “self you must have filled out the online application wrong”. So I did what any man would do under the circumstances, yep that's right I used my permit to start the fire. Before you start on me about are you sure you made the right choice? Understand my fire was by the pond and it was drizzling out. If you’re worried about the permit I have other copies but I had marked up the one I sacrificed to the fire gods. This morning at work I found on line that there is a fire ban in place. Had the recording last night said burning ban in place I would have done the right thing instead of lighting up the night.

Some may call me a pyromaniac but the truth is I love being outside and I love having a fire going nearby. Fires seem to bring me back to a place long ago camping with my dad. Life was so simple back then being a little boy memorized by the fire. Hot dogs; marshmallows; s ‘mores; popcorn all cooked over an open fire who could ask for more? What a simple life it was with no thoughts what so ever about what tomorrow would bring.

Flash forward to 2011 and you will find me still memorized by the fire and chilling to the sound of nature’s orchestra. Last night the owls were hooting, frogs were croaking, coyotes were howling and then Bob made a rather loud unpleasant noise and all was quiet. I actually think that a frog croaked after the forest smells were replaced for a moment by last night’s fermented chili.

If you’re ever looking for the cabin just point your car towards the glow in the night sky. You will find me there with a smile on my face enjoying the moment.

Thant is all!


Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Warning - Contents may be harmful to your health

Latrine behavior and Etiquette - 8 Apr 11

I know what a strange title for a blog. It’s just recently during my daily bathroom/library trip I was forced to use stall number two at my work. Stall one which is oversized and much more comfortable was occupied already needless to say stall two was my only option. Did I mention that stall one has hand rails, acceptable lighting, magazine rack and a much higher ergonomic toilet? Stall two is always the less preferred because of the size that can be compared to a phone booth. I’m sure the same company that made the phone booths got the bid for bathroom stalls at all government agencies. Stall two is so small (how small is it) that you smack both your elbows into the side walls as you try to slide your Spiderman underwear and pants back up.

As I prepared to do my business I noticed under the divider the coveralls piled around the ankles of the man next to me. Yep sure enough it was my buddy Mr “T” (name changed to protect his identity). It wasn’t our first time for us; we have met before under similar circumstances. Most of you that know me well might say I’m a little modest at times. Others might say I’m a guy that gets things done. But when it comes down to the sanctuary of a bathroom I suddenly become very shy. At that moment I wish that I had been born with a muffler as I tried to suppress the air escaping out of my butt. After a few muffled bursts Mr “T” said softly “Go ahead SGM and let her go were all friends here”.

If he only knew the anxiety that I have with making noises in the bathroom when I’m not alone. If he only knew the possible outcome of his request I know he wouldn’t have asked me to “Let her go”. He was taking his life in his own hands and I could not accept that responsibility. After some small talk he finished his business, slipped on his superman coveralls and returned to work. Yes he washed his hands for what it’s worth. Not that it matters he then touched the door handle that had just been touched by the smelly trucker who didn’t wash his hands before him.

After he left I sat there in quiet reflection and thought that bathrooms + poop = Awkward situations/stories. For example while I was at Ft Lewis back in 2009 I had the unfortunate reaction to shrimp scampi. After walking back from the mess hall I felt pains in my stomach. All kidding aside it felt like my stomach was doing advanced aerobics. My stride increased and I noticed my dinner companion matching me stride for stride. The foot race was on and we wrestled briefly at the men’s room door as I pushed by him to complete my mission. There was no modesty that day as it came down to a do or die situation. The men outside at the urinals, whose eyes were now watering, quickly finished their business and got out of Dodge. Sadly, we both had the same reaction the next two times we ate shrimp Scampi. I know your thinking why in the world would you do that to yourself three times? I have to say it was great food!

Then there was the time when I was in a restroom up north. I was sitting in my stall mentally going through my too do list. It sounded like small arms fire followed by a grenade hitting the water in the stall next to me. Then I heard the man say “nice weather”. Trying not to laugh and a little upset that the quiet solitude had been broken I replied “it sure is”. He then asked how long I had been on the road and I replied “about an hour and a half and you”? He then said rather rudely “I have to go now the guy in the stall next to me thinks I’m talking to him”. My question is who in their right mind talks to someone on their cell phone while going to the bathroom. What do you do with your cell phone while you’re wiping? I know if it was me my phone would slip off my shoulder and land in the muddy waters below.

There should be a law against people using their phones in public restrooms. Imagine the same scene above only this time the man next to you says “Hi I love you”. Sure you’re laughing now but what if the room darkened as he blocked out the light on his way into the bathroom. What if the stall wall was bulging and you heard him say “Daddies thinking of you”! Or even worse hear him say “why don’t you come over to my house and play”.

Can you honestly keep a straight face if you hear your friend talking to you while they are going to the bathroom? Imagine the noises one might make that echo amplified through the phone lines. The water hitting the rocks below might take you back to a trip along the north shore. For me personally, the sound of rounds coming in take me back to a place that I don’t want to be.

Tell me you’ve never been next to nowhere when you notice there is no toilet paper in your stall as you duck walk down the line looking for more. As soon as you start the walk of shame you get caught by the senior citizen that proudly cleans the interstate rest rooms across America. I call it the walk of shame because shame on me for not checking more than cleanliness, lights, and locks on the stall door.

Speaking of cleanliness why is it that guys can’t seem to hit a urinal at less than a foot away but are convinced that they can pee into a toilet without raising the lid? Come on if you’re in a hurry to pee and the kid in front of you is fumbling with his zipper at the urinal go ahead and use the stall. Just use your foot like everyone else to raise the seat up!

All in all times are changing and bathroom behavior is now much more acceptable. I have friends that have decorated their bathrooms by doing their own backsplash. I have friends that have cleared out offices and others that have brought tears to my own eyes. I know bathroom poets and bathroom remodelers. I have friends that have dropped valuables into the forbidden waters and others that have failed to retrieve them. I know one guy that loves to show off his handy work using both corn and peanuts for texture.

My final thoughts as I begin the final descent is never let your turtle show in the middle of nowhere and always keep a clean roll of toilet paper in a baggy under your front seat just in case. This almost sounds like advice from Red Green. With that being said “keep your stick on the ice”!

That is all,


Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Today, Tomorrow and the next day after that – 5 Apr 11

What can I say that has not been said already? Our daughter’s dreams vaporized as well as her hopes of marrying her best friend. All this happened while I was at home rehearsing my soon to be famous “Father of the Bride speech”. The day she told us her news I wanted to tell her that over the years my heart two has been broken and that she is not alone. I wanted to go on and say that she will get over this and the sun will come out tomorrow. That she will be stronger and better prepared for a life that has both love and its share of sadness. Throughout our daughter’s darkest days I have been waiting patiently on the sidelines wanting to make her world better. What I wouldn’t give to take her in my arms and wipe away her sorrow just like when she was my baby girl. But I can’t take away her sorrow, her pain, and I can’t repair her broken heart. This pain that she feels is beyond my capabilities, the superman that I once was to her is now only a distant memory.

To hear her cry and bare her soul for all to see is something that I pray I will never witness again. My heart broke as our daughter’s world crumbled down around her. I wanted to assure her that in pure numbers alone she is one of millions of people that have suffered a postponement of a wedding. I wanted to assure her that life isn’t fair, that relationships are priceless, and that life has its share of heartbreak. How can your heart not break when you lose a loved one, or when a child suffers, or even when somebody's beloved pet gets hit by a car? But all this is just words of comfort that will be spoken by many, but never heard by one.

But broken hearts are what give us strength, understanding and compassion. They say that a heart never broken is pristine and sterile and will never know the joy of being imperfect. All these words mean nothing as you hear her vulnerability on the phone.

I want to believe that her life will get better and that each day she will be stronger and less vulnerable. I hope and pray that her heart mends and that they resolve their problems whether it be together or apart. I know this hasn’t been easy for either of them. Right wrong or indifferent the future is for them to decide. What bothers me is that all the well wishers mean only the best, but what it actually comes down to is all the eyes are on them right now. I just hope that you ignore their whispers as you both pass by.

What happened I’m asked is always the second question after is Jacki OK? I don’t know, and I’m guessing that even they can’t begin to give you an honest answer. What I can say is that if it was meant to be it will happen. If it wasn’t then close out that chapter of your life and move on. Don’t wait until the final chapter to realize that you could have altered the ending.

If you need me I will be on the sidelines cheering you on no matter the outcome.

Just remember I was the first man that you loved and I have loved you unconditionally always and forever!