Monthly Archives: May 2011

ARVD

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Arrhythmogenic Right Ventricular Dysplasia is an inherited heart disease. ARVD is a progressive disease. It’s the most common cause of sudden cardiac death. Unfortunately, sudden death may be the first manifestation of disease.

Janet’s death shocked all of us. No one expected this could ever happen. She was a cancer survivor. She was only 44 years old.

Cancer had nothing to do with her death. Her high blood pressure, hypertension and thyroid imbalance were not contributing factors. It was ARVD that took her away.

My wife’s passing on the morning of her flight was the worst bad luck. You have no idea what I have gone through.

Moral Realism

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There’s a little movie that came out about 10 years ago called K-Pax. In it Kevin Spacey plays an Alien disguised as a Human. When he’s asked to define morality he says “Every Living Creature In the Universe Knows the Difference Between Right and Wrong.”

That’s been my mantra for teaching morality to my children. I tell my kids to use their best judgement. And you know what? They nearly always make the right choice. Their instinct tells tham what’s right and wrong. What they still have trouble with is finding the courage to stand up for their beliefs.

That’s when I come in. They need to feel safe at home. They need to know I will always be there for them. To know that I will always stand up for them no mater what. My kids need to believe in themselves.

Don’t get me wrong. I set boundaries. I expect them to learn and practice proper etiquette. Beyond that, I don’t prescribe a code of conduct. The world is too complex and dynamic to codify a precise set of behavioral standards.

Their moral courage is growing. They are learning to stand up for what is right. They are learning to trust themselves. They are learning to once again trust me.

This child-rearing philosophy is where Janet and I had our biggest disagreement. She believed she could control their behavior. I didn’t see it that way.

Trust

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You’ve seen those motivational posters, purportedly enriching our lives. Here’s one popular quote – “If you love someone, set them free. If they come back they’re yours. If they don’t they never were.” Whoever wrote this couldn’t be more wrong about everything. It’s not about controlling others. It’s about Trust.

Trust allows deep relationships to form. We learn to depend on others for different reasons – love, companionship, support, advice, help or what have you. It could be as complex as honoring our wedding vows, or as simple as picking someone up after practice. The principle is the same. When others trust us, they believe we’re competent to do what we promise, and that we’re committed to seeing it through. Trust underlies every bond we have with our children, spouses, family, friends, co-workers. All of society.

I hear all the time “Trust is earned”. No it’s not. It’s given. You have to make an emotional investment. You have to open up yourself to that person. You have to expose a part of you that you otherwise wouldn’t to a stranger. What you risk losing is your self-respect. And yet that’s what makes it so rewarding.

You can’t “make” someone trust you by “earning” it. That’s controlling behavior.

Prom Night

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Savannah has grown into a beautiful young woman since this picture was taken four years ago. Kids morph right before your eyes. It happens so quick.

Tonight is a special occasion for Savannah. She and her boyfriend are going to the Senior Prom with three other couples. This is a special group of kids. I know most of them. All excellent student athletes.

The girls have their day planned out. Savannah will go to one of her girlfriend’s and spend a few hours getting dressed and ready. Then everyone rendezvous at another house. The Parents will be there, taking pictures and fussing over their kids – handsome boys in their tuxes and pretty girls in their dresses. The happy couples will pile into a Chevy Suburban, enjoy a meal at Chili’s, then go to the Prom.

I’m not going to be there for Savannah this afternoon because Douglas has a Baseball game. It’s a game that was postponed earlier this week. It’s the last game of the regular season and it counts towards our Tournament Seeding. So I will be at the game managing.

I wish I could be there for Savannah. I wish I could help her get ready. I wish I was with the parents when they send our kids off. I wish I could just say how pretty she looks.

I feel guilty for not being there. Savannah understands that I have an important game to play with Douglas and she’s telling me that its OK. Yet it pulls me apart knowing she misses her Mother today. I’m not going to help her with her makeup or comb her hair or manicure her hands. Lord knows I tried. Last week Savannah and Courtney asked to go shopping for prom dresses. I asked if I could take them. The look they gave me was “Dad go shopping for dresses? You gotta be kidding, right?”

I totally get it that I can’t replace Mom on a day like this. But still, it hurts not being there for her. I hope Savannah enjoys a special time with great friends.

I think I’ll just go out this afternoon and win a Baseball Game.

It Is All About Me

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This past year has unfolded unlike I expected. I thought “Hey, life’s changed and I’ll adapt”. I had no clue back then.

Sure, there were doubts whether I could make it as a single parent. But deep inside I knew I was strong. Stronger than most. I knew I was up to the job of single parenthood.

There were many days when keeping the kids engaged consumed me. Picking up and dropping kids off at practice & games isn’t technically difficult. The cleaning, washing, picking up things and cooking – anyone could do it in bits. Doing it day after day, week after week, month after month gets to be a grind. And it’s threatening to consume myself.

I am hard on myself. I worry about being a good Dad all the time. I sacrifice a lot to be a good role model. I shouldn’t worry about what society thinks of me. And I shouldn’t do things for my kids just to prove that yeah, I’m a good Dad. I don’t have to prove myself to anyone.

Finding a new flow in life is proving harder that I thought. My riding has suffered. I haven’t read a novel in months. I can’t concentrate on my work. I worry more about getting the kids to-and-from wherever they need to be than thinking about my business. And that’s not right.

Janet used to tell me all the time “It’s Not About You”. She was wrong about that. If I’m not here to take care of myself, how can I take care of my kids?

School Concerts

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Last night the girls and I went to see Douglas play in his 3rd Grade Recorder Concert. The kids had been working hard at practice and they were excited to be there.

As I was sitting there listening to the beautiful music I thought about the practices these kids made to prepare for this wonderful concert. And all the work my own kids put into this past school year.

Douglas

  • Fifteen Soccer Practices
  • Twelve Soccer Games
  • Fifteen Little League Practices
  • Twelve Little League Games

Courtney

  • Fourteen Soccer Practices
  • Twelve Soccer Games
  • Twenty-six Track Practices
  • Five Track Meets
  • Thirty-five Volley Practices
  • Nineteen Volleyball Matches

Savannah

  • Thirty HS Soccer Practices
  • Fifteen HS Soccer Games
  • Thirty XC Practices
  • Eight XC Meets
  • Fifty-five Track Practices
  • Nine Track Meets
  • Thirty Club Soccer Practices

All three of my kids are leaders on the playing field/court. They play hard and set a good example for everyone. I’m so proud of them. Their Mom would have been too.

Life is Like a Tripod

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Keeping your life in balance between work, family and self is what it’s all about.

Working for others became futile. The early career years of 60-hour workweeks in a cubicle jaded me. Maybe the time I spent with a morally and financially bankrupted company did it. Or when I was laid off for no good reason. The last straw was the recent years toiling in a turnaround while fighting a tyrannical, substance-addled owner.

Losing my wife cut down the family leg. It had already been shrinking over the past few years. Janet’s cancer sure didn’t help things. But there was another darkness growing in our relationship, and it pushed my children away.

Bicycles are my passion. I started riding in my teens. 35 years and hundreds of thousands of miles of bliss. But it wasn’t just bicycles. I dug motorcycles, rock climbing, C2 canoe racing, trail running, backpacking, skiing, snowboarding, whitewater paddling, fly fishing, blue-water fishing, blues music, classical literature, lectures, the performing arts. I have a huge appetite for living. Janet was jealous of all this. She drove my friends away, then took these away one by one until there was hardly anything left.

You have to keep all three legs equal or else it falls over. I’m determined to do it right this time around.

Freedom Is Scary

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It’s nice to go into SLO to run errands and visit some friends and then come home without facing a Janet inquisition. I don’t miss the “where did I go/who did I talk to/what did we talk about/why didn’t I come home earlier” bullshit.

Yes I enjoy my freedom now. And yes I have the responsibility of a single parent – to provide a safe and loving hone. I act as judge, jury and executioner. It’s a 24/7 gig. It’s the best, most rewarding job in the world. I wouldn’t give it up for anything.

This Saturday Courtney has a meet from 8 until 3. Then I have my Little League Baseball Practice at 4. All good, right?

I realized yesterday that our High School Track/XC/Soccer Booster Club is having their annual Luau and Dinner this Saturday at 4:00. It’s quite the social event for the parents. It starts off with cocktail hour. Full Hawaiian theme including attire. Drawings for prizes including $3,500 cash and LA Dodgers VIP game package. Dinner. Music. A great time to socialize with all the other parents I’ve been running into at all the games and meets for the past year.

I wanted to go to the Luau last year, when Savannah was a Freshman. Janet wouldn’t hear none of it, she was after all in full-control mode. This year I’m going. To get to know better some of the parents of an amazing group of high school athletes. I’m relishing the opportunity of adult conversation for the evening.

So I need to cancel the baseball practice. Perhaps have it Sunday. I worked hard this season at keeping my promises. I’m worried about making late changes that affect other parents plans, worried about letting my players down, worried about not being the best coach they ever had.

I’m worried about carving my kids out of my schedule for the evening. I told them I am going to the Luau. They ask why I need to go. Do they think I’m a bad parent for leaving them for an evening?

Maybe I need to stop being so hard on myself.

A Different Mother’s Day

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Yesterday I had plans. Savannah had homework that she needed to get done. So it was just Courtney, Douglas, Ade the dog and I.

We went for a long walk on the beach. It was windy and cold yet all four of us enjoyed it. Afterwards we went to Taco Temple to get some fish tacos. Problem was I somehow left my wallet at the house. No fish tacos for us.

I was disappointed with myself. They were looking forward to dinner and I blew it. We got home and I then remembered I had forgotten to call my Mom earlier. The last thing on my mind was making dinner.

Courtney took it upon herself to make dinner. She didn’t make any for me and I could tell she was upset with me for not making dinner.

In a way I blew it yesterday. Raising kids by yourself is triply hard but that doesn’t excuse myself for not making dinner last night.

Today is a new day. Peace.

Happy Mother’s Day

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Mother’s Day remains one of the biggest days for sales of flowers, greeting cards, and the like. It’s become so highly commercialized I consider it a “Hallmark Holiday”.

Mother’s Day is the most personal holiday for me. I used to make little cards and trinkets for Mom. She would be so happy and act so surprised whenever she got my little gift. Back in the ’60s we didn’t have to be told to do it. We did it because we loved our Mom.

Being a Dad on Mother’s Day was confusing. Janet wasn’t my Mom, and I wasn’t the Mother of my children – I’m the Dad. Beyond that, the commercialization crept in. It was reduced to “what are you going to have the kids do for me on Mother’s Day” buildup. Making sure your kids get/do something for their mother felt contrived and controlling.

I like to think there is a way I can help the kids remember their Mother this Sunday without being obtuse. Perhaps I’ll take the kids for a long walk on the beach, and then treat ourselves to some Mexican food. Janet would have liked that.