Friday, April 27, 2012
I was lucky... Didn't know it at the time, no, at the time I thought that not only was I "unlucky", I thought I was doomed. That for whatever reason, I drew the bad card, the short stick... "Too young to die," was my thought...
Somehow I had gone from being a happy go lucky kid, where I used to think, "You know, Dan, no matter what you have pulled *this* time, no one will shoot you. You can pay the piper and life will go on." But the stark reality of high school ending, my pals heading off to college and me? Well I was headed to Vietnam to die. Just 18. Just... 18... I... was... just... 18...
I went from "Mom, will you make sure my pants are ready tomorrow?" To, a drill sergeant yelling at the top of his lungs, "Airman, this is your weapon! When you run out of bullets, you swing it like a bat and kill every blankety blank Vietcong you can, until they knock you out! And when you come to, and you are stuck in a bamboo cell that is too small for you to turn in, and you haven't eaten in days, you have soiled yourself from the dysentery, and you stink like you are dead, do NOT, I said DO NOT, give those VC's anything but your last name, your i.d. number and your rank! If you tell them one thing more, they will kill you anyway, they will kill the man next to you and you will compromise the mission of the United States Air Force!! ARE WE CLEAR?!!!!" When he got to the are we clear part, he actually went hoarse and lost his voice. I watched grown men sob themselves to sleep at night. I saw fear, felt fear and smelled fear. Fear so deep that the mood was always gloomy. June, July and August in Texas, bright sunny, but the mood was gloomy.
But I was lucky...
Have you ever had *that* moment where the little things you notice around you, like that you hear birds sing, a child hum in a very happy way, you smell something baking, the snow seems to insulate the world from it's horrors, or something so wonderful like the kiss you just enjoyed was soft, tender, sweet and made you feel you had finally found home? (I could make this pleasant list infinite!)
And at that moment, like when you realized that when you closed your hand into a fist, that all your fingers were just perfect in how they rolled in and fit so nicely? Or that the water you were drinking was pure, clean, refreshing, in abundance for sure, yet, you had never really thought about the mountain stream it originated from, the entire process it took to get to the outside walls of your house, but then, you thought about "who plumbed my house? did he do this for love of his craft? or just love for a growing family who ate him out of house and home? Who was the person who bent the copper pipes, glued the pvc, installed the faucets, who? Did that person know me? Did they know I would one day care? Have I been gracious and kind?
I recall the childhood book about Horton the elephant hearing a "Who" - the micro speck of a town that held so much in BIGNESS, yet was naked to Horton's eye. He could only hear the "Who's".
During this time in the late summer of 1972, I had a dream. It is a very sacred memory to me. It connected me in ways I had never thought about before and taught me some significant things I have carried all my life. Yes, yes, I know, I don't appear to be the serious type of a person to qualify for life's mysteries to unfold and realize some of the answers. Ok, I would agree. But for whatever reason, that spiritual portal was opened to me. 40 years ago. You see, what it did was spiritually sober me, true, but it was more. It all helped me gain a personal perspective and where I fit in on this ball of mud.
I felt free!
I felt alive!
I felt a faith and a trust, as if I could fall backwards off of a 22 story building and never hit the ground!
So many of my life long questions were answered and complete. The pure water, the important plumber, the gift of quench, which I thoroughly enjoyed... was mine. I grew from it.
It became the basis of my family. My outlook. Success, failure, bitter, sweet, no matter what, I could find strength in this realization. Oddly, sadly though, I remained human and still have 1,000s of things to learn. Forgiveness to ask from so many. Forgiveness to grant to many undeserving. Yet, peace in all things.
I wish for all who know me to know this about me. Quietly, behind the humor, the laughter, the twinkle in my eye is my moment, my understanding and I see how this puzzle fits. I am so grateful. Win, lose or draw. Its all going to be ok. We all will.
Thursday, April 26, 2012
I heard this song about 20 years ago on a radio show, it was so funny I often share it whenever the subject of losing weight comes up in conversation. Quite funny! (I think) You know, I don't take very good care of myself. I eat all the wrong stuff. I eat all the wrong stuff at all the wrong times. I eat way too much of the wrong stuff at all the wrong times. You who know me. KNOW ME! You who don't, well, you get the idea. People often remark how great Val looks. I think when they say that to me, what they really mean to say is, "Dan, you look awful, old, yet Val looks so young, she looks great." Yes, she does. I was asked last night on the way to a business dinner, "Dan how is your walking program going?" Well, funny thing about stress, or maybe just MY? stress, is that I seem to buddy up to the refrigerator more, stay longer and the last thing I want to do is walk anywhere. Well, except to the refrig that is!
Whenever I start to think about taking care of myself, I think about longevity and how most of my progentiors were such long livers. My dad, nearly to 85. My mom, 76. My mom's folks, late 80s and early 90s. My dad's mother, mid 90s. I have great blood pressure, always like 122 over 70 or something. I think my doctor wonders if I really even have a heart in there? Yet...
I know I should do something. I hate that I resemble this "huggin' and chalkin" song. I really do. I should knock off the soda. The carbs. I should probably eat a box car of lettuce every day and just lose weight from the calories I would burn chewing the stuff!
Ok, so thats the first part of what I wanted to get off my chest today. The second part I want to get off my chest is today- well - my chest! Not really...
I didn't sleep last night. I was too excited about some new thoughts I have been having surrounding life, this world, what it must be like to feel free enough to fall backwards from a tall building and float to a safe landing, because you have no fear and all the faith you need, that everything will be ok. Because, I see my life as being ok. A friend asked how I feel about Val's situation. He's a great guy, and we share a common business connnection, so we are open with one another. I said, "You know Bill, I am so lucky she is here. I don't really relate to what is happening. Its like intellectually, I "get it" but internally, I feel, "really?" I mean I know she sleeps alot, she is candid about pains; where they are, what they feel like... but she never complains." Mostly I worry about my chicklettes and drumsticks. Mostly I worry how they will miss her. When I watch them run into her arms, lay on her while she is watching a movie, or napping, sleep over with her when I am traveling, I do think about the void that will come. To us all. Our bodies are so fragile and life is so short. Beautiful, but short. Anyone want to join me for a Bacon Sundae? Bring your chalk!
Tuesday, April 24, 2012
Last Saturday, Val wasn't feeling well enough to attend a retirement party for a close friend - but she did ask me to make her a fresh strawberry/banana milkshake, which I love to do! Thick, rich... Val loves shakes!
Saturday, April 21, 2012
Thursday, April 19, 2012
Tuesday, April 17, 2012
Monday, April 16, 2012
Saturday, April 14, 2012
Friday, April 13, 2012
My dear friends who so faithfully pray for Val and our family, you who come here and read of our experience, you who are so special to us, I am afraid the time has come where Val has asked me to respect her privacy and not be so detailed and open about her condition. I think its mostly her modesty and that she doesn't want people to worry about her or pity her. I am very candid in my approach to life, others are more private. It helps me to release the anxious feelings that build within me to write. I just wanted you to know that if you notice I am not being so thoroughly upfront about things, its for a good reason, Val has asked me to not report so much. This doesn't mean we want surprise visits, a battery of emails and phone calls. I will continue to update and write, just in a different way so that I respect Val's desires. You may surmise that things are downward trending and you would be correct. We give thanks for our Lord and Savior and through Him to our Heavenly Father for all our blessings, but especially for the blessing of time, comfort and peace for Val, our kids and their kids. Thank you so much for everything... I will post again later tonight when I am home. Dan
Wednesday, April 11, 2012
Pursuing Happiness... Am I? I don't know if I am all the time, I would like to think so. Can you have a disagreement, a misalignment of views and perspectives and still be happy? Is happiness about you always being right? Getting what you want? Having everything your way? Winning every game? Trumping or pulling the high card in every situation? Or, can you be happy, perhaps even "happiest" when you give in, relent, succumb, pull away, and live life in a conflict free way? Maybe happiness isn't even something you should pursue? Given the challenges we all face in life, be they physical, mental, emotional, spiritual, financial... Or maybe even things about us or someone we love and care about that are genetically impossible to change or do anything about... Can we still be happy? I have often written about two doors... that there is always a choice. I want to amend that. Sometimes there is no choice about what you are handed or what is the result of something beyond your control. And, perhaps you, or I, don't have the ability to figure something out, that our personalities or quirks run deeper than mere, "choosing to be a certain way" - maybe we have a disorder, or an impairment that makes it virtually impossible for us to be someone or something is just out of reach and in this life, always will be? Maybe "we" can't choose, but those around us, who love us can? I know a person who is very important to me. She doesn't have the ability to fence in her natural self when it comes to things that heighten her emotions. At some point she will and does calm, but that takes a little time. She has no choice, but I do. I can let this become an issue and blame the none friendship on her, because she is a nut and goofy, or I can be tolerant and caring and overlook this quirky thing that she has no ability or where with all to change in herself. I can still be happy, though very annoyed if I don't catch myself. And she can be happy, because I have placed our friendship "above" my instinctive "selfish" side and just relax. I read once that: "Happiness is a mystery, like religion, and should never be rationalized." (Gilbert K. Chesterton) Like religion... Hmmmm... Perhaps like politics, or anything emotionally charged, felt? Sometimes we feel what we feel and it may not make any sense to anyone else, but to ourselves. I suppose the happiness question becomes, "Is this for me, or a greater good for all?" Wouldn't it be nice to be completely altruistic and thoughtful? What a world we would have is we all lived to that creed! I was asked today about Val. When I simply replied "not well, but very happy..." There was a silence. The man apologized and said he hoped for the best. I said, "Me too..." The "best" can only be in God's care. It will never be in "Dan's" care. Val remains in London with the PKs. I am so glad for her. Thank you all for the prayers and good, kind thoughts and vibe toward her. It is felt. It is ALL welcome and appreciated.
Monday, April 9, 2012
I've been home now, alone, working, in this quiet house for 3 days now. The days, they all run together. I have been cleaning up my computers and compiling them all into one enormous file, years of hard drives sunk into one tirabit or triganom or titanticon or other smart sounding word. Actually, maybe I have 2 of them, whatever they are. The rush for me was transferring photos around. Like this one of Val...
Saturday, April 7, 2012
Thursday, April 5, 2012
Another full day in London, rounded down with an early birthday dinner for Stella. I can't believe she is turning "10"! I leave for WA tomorrow afternoon. I wonder what it will be like to get back home and begin the footrace once again with business matters? I haven't being sitting idle, but across the pond is afterall, across the pond! Val has been doing well. I can see her radiate strength anew from being around the PKs and these London chicklettes. All time goes too fast. The weeks become vanishing moments. The months seem like hours in a day. The years slip from my fingers like a row of yesterdays. I guess thats the plan. I guess thats how we learn to appreciate the precious moments we come to experience?
Wednesday, April 4, 2012
Tuesday, April 3, 2012
Monday, April 2, 2012
I quite enjoy this trip to London, although I have lost my sense of time, bearings, direction and I think the masses here wish I would also lose my humor. I think I am wearing people out who really aren't used to Yanks being up this close and personal to these English people. Even the panhandlers won't speak to me. I am sure the reason comedy clubs fail here is like my dad used to quote his father, "The English read the funny papers on Sunday and *if* they laugh its on Wednesday." I feel like I am suffocating to death here. Oh well. We are having a good time with these chicklettes. The presented us with a little parody play on Ganah and I - and what their interpretation of our trip here must have been like. Enjoy! My browser is defaulted to the UK, I have no idea whats going on at home. And I am feeling guilty about my poor little midgey going to the doggie hotel. If I was her I would hate me. General Conference yesterday was terrific, just what I needed!