High School Reunions are the Best!

The name tag is just going to be sitting on the table, probably with a picture of me culled from a yearbook.  Black and white of course because someone just isn’t going to donate their entire printer cartridge to reproducing photos of former classmates now gathering from across the country.  I’m so excited about the idea of tossing back a drink at the “Open Bar” all for the fee of $50.  They’ll even throw in some finger food so that we don’t get to drunk while listening to stories that didn’t matter when we were living them, but now pretend that they were the “best of times”!

I’ll agonize over my clothing choice.  Most likely some combination of suit jacket paired with jeans or some other casual thing since I rather not spend my evening talking about work or even be reminded that I indeed have a job.  This is about recalling that time when two people got into it at some basketball game played after school between teenagers who haven’t spoken to one another as adults in the 25 years since we crossed a stage together.  Maybe I’ll go completely against expectations and wear a pair of faded jeans and a concert t-shirt from Brittney Spears or Katy Perry.  [no offense to either person, just not my thing.]

One of the things I look forward to the most is hugging people and then walking away with a feeling of wishing I could head straight to the shower.  It’s not a hygiene thing, just a personal space notion.  Shaking hands with people who when I last saw them, I walked in the opposite direction.  Hopefully we’ll be seated together when it comes time to listen to someone regale us with a speech about how nice it is to all be together.  [okay, there will be one moment when they will show a picture or two of people who have since passed, and that will be a tragedy for several reasons.  That I don’t wish to mock.]

If it goes anything like the last time I saw anyone from high school, I will be able to walk around without issue.  When someone who has known you since you were 8 year old can’t identify you at your own grandfather’s funeral, you certainly have changed in more than one way.  You’d think that the whole 6’4″ thing would work in my favor, apparently not!  Add in 60 pounds of Lary that just isn’t there anymore, maybe I can be a different person.  Just forget the name tag and walk around like a fly on the wall.

We’ll talk about work, kids [I haven’t figured this one out yet.  Most likely will just say she passed without the details.]  I do want to hear about a few people’s lives, some people went on to do some pretty amazing things.  The young lady who became a missionary in Africa for 15 years, that might be worth the trip.  Seriously.

By the end of the evening there be the promises of trying to stay in touch better, even with the people who you learn live just in the next town.  Numbers will be exchanged, Facebook friend requests will sit possibly answered, a feeling of why did I do this in the first place as I race to the car.

So high school reunions, the bane of my thoughts recently.  It will be the end of September, but they want their check in two weeks.  I’ll send it and decide later.  My younger brother thinks I should avoid it for no other reason than he went to his 20 and was bored out of his mind!  And his best friend growing up was there, they both just left.  Not a good endorsement for these things.

In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “Game of Groans.”

I Was Adopted the Other Day?

“So how is this going to work?  I’ve never really heard of someone trying this.”

My cousin’s a lawyer and just kept smiling at me the whole time.  She had been reading the night before about the process, or at least what she could understand since she spends the majority of her days reading tax forms.  So law school was some time ago and required a refresher.

“Lary, there is no legal mechanism for what you guys are trying to do.  Just let things happen.  This is a good thing and we’re just going to follow someone else’s lead.”

That last part is hard for me.  Just play Follow the Leader?  Yeah Right!

As my mother walks into the room she is all smiles.  Behind her Kathy and Susie are walking hand in hand which is nice to see.  Teenagers are odd creatures at times, but today is about family so it makes sense.  My dad couldn’t be here, but the miracle of technology will allow him to be a head on a screen from a distance.

As the judge walks into his chambers, we all stand.

“Sit back down, this is fun today.  I’ve never done this and we are talking about almost 50 years of legal experience.  If you don’t mind, one of my fellow judges wants to just watch.”

Okay, we’re all good with that.  There’s nothing to hide, we’re just trying to find a way for one family to adopt a 43 year old man while his parents sit there and smile!  Yep, that’s what brought us here, one family trying to find a way to create an absolute bond that no one could ever question.  The fun is, I’m not giving up my name or anything else about my family.  Jut joining a new one in a legal sense that isn’t typical.  The law is looking at this as just some fun, even if this were to go to court there is nothing binding about this.  So why bring my lawyer cousin?  She thought this would be fun to see.

After a whole lot of silly statements about my willingness to join this family, my mother (the biological one) stands up and says she feels like there is no better family for me to be a part of.  That she knew they would take care of me as well as she has for the past 4 decades.  There are a few tears coming down her cheeks, but she and Kathy are the ones who came to me with the idea.

Ask me some questions, listen to my canned replies since we really aren’t signing away my parents rights to claim me, nor is Kathy asking to have me change my name, and we finish our time in chambers.  Even the judge is a little choked up since he has know my father since they were kids.  That’s how we pulled this off, just a favor for a friend.  Nothing recorded for all time except what we snap pictures of, nothing filled in a courthouse for all time.

And with that I now have two families.  I always did, but we thought this would be a nice spin on making it something different.  So the little teenage girl who I have called my niece is now for all purposes, my niece in the eyes of everyone.  Uncle Lary now means something different than when we were talking at breakfast.  My mother and Kathy have been close for years, so there is nothing but love between the two of them.  Two strong women who were only children, finding a form of sisterhood.

I know this is the strange adult version of playing dress-up and watching two small children pretend to get married.  It was a play for a small audience, but the actors were my family.  Both sides.

They are trying to show me that I have family who will always be there to take care of me.  We all acknowledge that things are going to get progressively more difficult and Kathy/Susie (Susie’s dad has always been like a little brother but he was travelling for work) know that the last year of dealing with the Ex has left me feeling as if people are just going to pick up and leave the instant something takes a left turn.  They wanted me to know they aren’t going to do that.

You can’t ever repay that.  You can only do everything possible to let them know you love them and appreciate them.

It’s been a week since this all went down and I still can’t quite get a grip on my emotions surrounding this.  I’m upset about the past that I had, one someone walked away from without explanation.  I’m worried that as the cancer gets a stronger hold, I may not be able to trust these people.  Even though they have given me every reason in the world to do just the opposite.  Fear is something I don’t like, it hurt the last time around so much it turned to anger.  This time I just want to let someone know that the fear won’t do that, it can’t do that.

Maybe I need to go make some muffins?

In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “______ is the new ______.”

How Can We Better Share Knowledge?

Last week when NASA announced that they may have found a world much like our own, people were once again amazed with the possibilities.  Maybe there was a future for the human race beyond the 5 Billion years that they estimate our sun will remain a bright and shiny ball of gas.  (no worries, it is just supposed to go out like a light, not explode!)  But it was fun to talk to my father about it.  He’s of the generation were the space race was in full swing, having been in high school while the Mercury Astronauts circled the globe.  I remember being 10 when he took me to Cape Canaveral for vacation, I think he was as excited as my brother and I were.

It’s hard to capture what we should put in a capsule and send into space.  The most exciting thing about humanity is the potential that exists to do anything and hopefully become anything.  Lightening in a bottle?  A perfect moment?  Some piece of technology that we treasure today but is completely made obsolete by that same human potential a week later?  And by the time we send what we believe to be the extent of human knowledge, years will have passed before it might be found.  Decades where we have either sought a hard fought for peace or continued to build walls that separate us from each other.

This very medium allows us to share ideas in a flash with people who might be completely different in their religion or dress, maybe they value something in a way we never would.  Knowledge has allows been the best gift you can give any child, why not use that same notion and apply it to every person on the planet.  My life would be better off is there were no disease, the ability to get food to every person.  Maybe that cliche about giving a man a fish versus teaching a man to fish is more accurate than some would like to admit.

We have the ability to put words and sounds on a series of magnet media, but aren’t we being selfish in expecting that someone else might understand any of it.  A culture that has no hearing?  Well there goes the sharing of music.  Let’s consider that they are at a different point in their cultural development, in either direction.  Are we primitive or are we so advanced it would be like staring at a Neanderthal?  Hard choices, but I guess the best we can do is make the effort to try.  And that is what we keep doing, trying to move forward in ways that hopefully advance society.  Baby steps or giant leaps, it doesn’t really matter.  The only thing that does matter is trying!  (thanks to Yoda for that one!)

The best solution we have is to send some type of video into space and hope that at some point it can be understood by whomever is out there.  And yes, I do believe that there is some form of life out there wondering if life exists on other planets as well.  Show people of different cultures, ages, races, abilities doing normal things.  Kids playing in the park, a classroom, people working a crane or bulldozer, just everyday life as it really happens.

Maybe I’m being sentimental or even idealistic in my approach.  It’s possible that some of you agree with my idea and it’s just as likely that some of you hate it.  But that also is what I’m trying to get across to our new alien friends, it is possible to disagree on something and still have hopes and dreams about it.

When my niece sits out on the deck with her friends I have heard them talk about what might be in the future.  Some of it is about boys, but surprisingly some of it is about family and college.  14 year olds are a funny crowd!  The limitless potential that exists within those 5 young ladies is the thing I would want to share with the universe.  Endless possibilities to explore.  It’s amazing to see.

In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “Simply the Best.”

Diametrically Opposites

Breaking the Forth Wall, a fantasy we all have had at some point while watching a movie.  What would it feel like to be the hero of that gunfight, swooping in at the last moment to rescue the damsel in distress?  Maybe feeling weightless as you float around the expanses of space?  Or there is the possibility that you just want to be in some family drama that ends with everyone sitting around the table at the end of it all, smiling and knowing that you made it through because of each other [or in spite of each other?]

Depending on the day I experience so many emotions that I can’t tell if I’m George C. Scott in 12 Angry Men or if I am Harrison Ford in Regarding Henry.  Two very different characters, expressing opposite ends of the emotional spectrum.  George railing against his own bigotry and self-loathing, trying to make the world see things his way.  Harrison a victim of something out of his control and fighting to find a way back to the person he once was.  Both are great studies in developing characters.

George is the guy who lives just beneath the surface.  I only have negative feelings about one person and even then I feel extremely guilty for having them at all.  Reality says I shouldn’t care, that part of my life is history.  Focus on now and let the past be the past.  The only issue is that dealing with the present means putting the past in it’s proper place.  Acknowledging my role, moving forward in some tiny way.  Learning to fight the battles that I can possibly win, or at least the battles that mean something to me; it means knowing when to just walk away.

Harrison was thrust into a world were one person’s violent act changed him forever.  No longer able to do anything he wanted at a moments notice, he needed people to help him achieve his new goals.  That’s where I’m trying to be right now.  There are things I just can’t do, no matter how hard I try; they are going to fail.  If I were completely honest about my outlook, it’s not great.  The doctor’s have given me a timeline to work within and that makes other things harder to accept.  I’ve laid out a plan with people for when the inevitable occurs.  Sure it’s taken me hours to write things because my hands shake holding a pen.  But I want people to have something meaningful, personal not just something I typed.

I’ve not entered anything into my blog for days because I just have such a hard time keeping thoughts straight.  The amount of red highlights from spelling errors is amusing to me.  Some former students of mine would likely want to have their revenge.  I know this is supposed to be about my favorite movie, but both end with the guy getting the girl and saving themselves.  Not really my life at the moment, so even under the best of considerations it would be hard to write about those things.

Last week I was proud because I finally fixed something important.  Something that took time and I can hold my head up for having accomplished it.  This week has just been harder.  You get that, life is hard.  Both George and Harrison [wow I just saw the Beatles reference in my own writing!], they fought for life.  I’m trying to do the same.  Just like everyone else, just my calendar is a little shorter.

At least I have an idea for tomorrow’s posting.  I can start now and hopefully have something good by then.  Go hug your spouse, child, dog/cat/goldfish?  And thank you for reading, writing your own things.  Just being!

In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “Fourth Wall.”

Don’t Borrow Money from Family, EVER!!!!

At 12:46 p.m. EDT on Wednesday July 22, 2015 I became free of a huge burden that has been hanging over me for the past three years.  I finally was able to pay back the money that was owed to my ex’s parents!!!  They had been less than understanding about how I was using just about every free dime I had to pay my bills, including the ridiculous amount that I spend weekly, monthly on my medical situation.  Insurance is a lovely thing, but I promise you that if I didn’t have a decent job, some things that could be sold and the help of some people to get my finances back in proper order, things could be much worse.

$8000, that sounds like not that much but when you are dropping that amount a month on medicines and so many co-pays for things it might as well be $1,000,000,000!  Now don’t think I’m whining about this, I’m not.  I needed help from them but they just wanted their money back.  Didn’t matter about the other things, not my health, not their daughter’s anything, just the money.  Turning me into some type of monster to justify their actions later, it wasn’t fair.  I fought with the ex when I should have been fighting with them.  Even my own parents told me it was a waste of my time to speak with them because they just wanted their way.  You can’t fight “My mother doesn’t care, she just wants the money back!”  Great attitude!

Look, it was nice they loaned us the money in the first place.  Plenty of people wouldn’t have been able to do even that, but what they didn’t consider is that they needed to be honest about their own finances.  I later learned too much during the course of protecting myself from their craziness.  Their house of cards was balancing on a pin tip since they wanted to put on a show they couldn’t support.  There came a time when I realized they shouldn’t have loaned us the money, they didn’t have it.

I worked hard to support their daughter.  Worked even harder when it came to their granddaughter, but sometimes it just isn’t enough for some people.  Money really can be the root of all evil, and it also can create such a blinding course of action.

So what would I tell someone not to do?  Do not ever borrow money from family!!!  Don’t do it unless you are talking about the cost of a cup of coffee.  The long term consequences are not good.  Especially when you consider dealing with a person who puts their money ahead of my health.

How do I know the exact time?  The lawyer who has been handing some things during my “hospital time” tracked the letter.  Now I wonder how quickly someone drove to the bank to verify a bank issued check.  Fortunately someone is watching that for me.  Time to get back to the thing I can do something about, trying to beat Cancer!

In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “Well, I Never….”

Poolside Tunes

There’s a song that I can’t hear without getting emotional.  We’re talking about going to a place where my mind is just wrapped up in something else and nothing can enter.  At some time in the past I post something about Dream Theater’s “Along for the Ride”, it captured everything about being a parent.  The lyrics just put me right back there, but since I don’t really have the intestinal fortitude to write about that today, let’s move on to something a little more fun.

Now give it a minute, Eric Clapton’s “Tears in Heaven”.  Sure it goes into the above paragraph, but in this case it reminds me of this girl I knew in college.  I actually known her for a number of years, but every time I saw her that song came on the radio.  It didn’t matter where we were, out to eat somewhere or even sitting around having just a simple conversation about the price of tea in China, that track brings me back to everything about her.

Our friendship started in high school when I was the passenger in a car that wrapped itself around a tree.  Multiple broken veins in my left leg meant no basketball that year and I would be on crutches for a week or two.  No real big deal in either situation.  But she didn’t wish to take the mandatory swimming class our high school forced on us.  Fortunately I had been certified as a lifeguard by the the school, so I was exempt; she was not.  I don’t remember her reasons, most likely something to do with her hair!  [she had a pool in her backyard so it wasn’t a fear thing]

She was the first person I truly talked to after Patre had died.  She asked a question and I just for some reason felt like answering it.  Almost 9 months had passed by that point, so people weren’t quite as afraid to say something.  So for 45 minutes, twice a week, we would sit there in the bleachers and ramble on.  This was the only class we shared together, different tracks of study, different teachers even within the same building.  It was nice, and for many reasons it helped bring me back into the real world.

So years later when she had problems of her own with her family, she asked for help.  I’d drive to her college to have dinner, spent some parts of weekends helping clean out her stuff from her parent’s place; just tried to repay in any form what she had done for me years before.  Eric Clapton was always on the radio, that song was found on just about every station I was willing to listen to.  Heavy rotation they call it!

I hadn’t had a friend like that growing up, at least until that point.  Sure I hung out with the guys, but you just don’t talk about certain things.  Macho, stupidity taking over when maybe any of us could have talked about something truly bothering us.  But teenage guys are teenage guys, we are a stereotype.

When I hear that song come on the radio, I just sort of freeze for a second and look around.  Even in my own house, where I know she has never set foot, I sometimes wonder if the doorbell will ring.  A bit of me could use that friendship now with everything going on.  I realize years have passed, but for a little while I think I would like to be transported back to just sitting on the bleachers babbling about our classmates or just life in general.

It’s not that things were simpler or even better, but I appreciate now those simple times.  Age has a way of doing that.  Maybe seeing knowing the limits of time makes me want to go back and relive those nice memories.

In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “Always Something There to Remind Me.”

When It’s Worth It!

How to describe that ominous feeling you have, right before you open your eyes and are absolutely certain there is another person in the room with you. Maybe you heard the chair move a little bit and that’s what brought you out of your evenings rest?  Was it a sneeze or some other sound that just couldn’t be hidden?  Saturday morning was that skin crawling feeling until I was able to focus on the world around me and not just the blurry edges from the sleeping pills.

My stalker, all 5 foot 5 inches of her was sitting in the chair reading a book.  I couldn’t tell you what it was since even she has a Kindle loaded with material.  But there she sat with her Sprite and a bagel, not the average breakfast but I give her credit for picking something up.  She had no real way of knowing when I would wake up!

Susie had done another one of those routines where she tells her grandmother one thing and then jumps on the “T” to come in a visit with me.  The conversations have been slower since I’m still stumbling for word choices, but she more than makes up for the silences.  She’s even learned to accept that sometimes the silences are all we need.  But what to do about this new level of rebellion she is developed.

My daughter never got to this point so my understanding has always been limited to the ex’s nieces.  And they would listen if you dangled food in front of them, otherwise it was a little bit of a will they/ won’t they situation.  Her family and I have learned to give her some slack, to try to let her grow at her own pace.  Her father remembers when I used to let him do silly things when I would take him out; so he knows very well I have limits but will let you push them as far as I think safe.  Riding public transport isn’t something I call dangerous, not telling people where you are going when you’re 14 is a little more of an issue.

From the bag sitting on the floor, Susie pulls a cranberry muffin someone made for her to bring along.  It smells wonderful, but it will get picked at for the rest of the day.  Even when she brought me chocolate, forgetting I’m allergic to the stuff, I still made a little bit of a show.  This, more than anything else is what is hard about how my medical situations have been unfolding.

Right now she is making a sacrifice is more ways than she knows.  She’s going to end up being grounded for some period of time, but I know it will end quickly because her family understands.  I did the same thing year ago when Patre was sick.  15 and driving the car when I absolutely shouldn’t have been.  My parents gave me the lecture, but no real punishment.  They tried to put themselves in my place.

I’m not even sure what I would have told my kid in this situation.  She did something that plenty of adults aren’t capable of doing.  Not the getting on the subway part, but choosing to put someone else ahead of them knowing that the consequences could be uncomfortable.  We try to teach them that at a young age, to put others first, but we seldom act upon it.

I send off a text when someone wasn’t in the room just to say she was safe and with me.  The reply was almost amusing, “We know, the tracker on her phone got activated when we didn’t believe she was just going to visit a friend.  Too early on weekend for that!”

There are some things I want her to know, and this is my way of showing her when the words fail me.  For two days I have written this since my hands shake while I type and that isn’t something even spell checker can correct.

Susie – You’ve made some of this more tolerable than you will ever hopefully understand.  It’s hard looking at you, sometimes wishing you were another person.  I can’t help it.  Your dad tells me I did the right things with him growing up, helped him become the person he is today.  I wish I was going to be able to see that person you will eventually become.  Your family gives me too much credit for being a good guy, there are times when I’m not.  There will come a time when you learn that as well, take it easy on me.  Be proud of who you are, what you can do and what you want to be in life.  There’s no shame in failing, only not trying.  Love you, Uncle Lary!

Sorry for the personal message in the middle of all of this, but sometimes those things need to come out in the daylight for all to see.

I think I need to go rest for a little bit.  Hopefully I can get back to writing daily and reading the things others post as well.  Not enough hours in the day to get it all in and I’d rather sacrifice my time to a teenager at this point.