He never had a chance…

When I was 18 years old I enlisted in the US Army. Shortly after arriving at Basic Training I witnessed a taste of the real world. While waiting in a long chow line one evening I saw a guy walk all the way to the front of the line. This isn’t typically something you see a trainee do in boot camp but this guy happened to be built like a monster; he looked like a shorter version of the ex-boxer Mike Tyson…he was a bull! Anyway, I guess he thought, who’s gonna stop me. A few seconds later this scrawny little guy walked up to him and politely challenged his arrogant behavior. This bull of guy just glared at him, didn’t say a word and retreated to the end of the line. Nothing more was said about it. Later that evening after I finished my shower, I was walking back to my room and spotted that huge guy in the hallway, almost hiding as he stood near an open doorway just staring into space. Seconds later a heard a short yelp, then nothing. He was waiting for the guy who approached him in line and in a split second he snatched that little guy and slammed him to the floor, slid him up against the wall, forcing his head into the corner between the floor and wall and then proceeded to pound his head as if he was chopping a log with an ax. Huge, heavy blows to the scull, over and over again as he held his head in the corner. I quickly grabbed him with both of my arms wrapped around his chest but he tossed me aside like I wasn’t even there. Several of us desperately tried to come to the aid of that kid but the anger and adrenalin that was erupting from that guy was no match for anyone at that moment. Finally, a few of us did manage to pull him off but the damage was done. The young recruit appeared to be alive, fairly still and bleeding like crazy. A drill sergeant ran over and cleared the hallway as he tended to this young man.

I never heard if the victim recovered or even lived. The psycho that punished him retreated to his bunk until the military police arrived and then they took him away. He never returned to the barracks. There was never any open discussion about what happened…that was it. I tried to find out if any of the other trainees knew who that kid was or how I might be a able to reach him but nobody could help me. To this day I still wish that I could have done more to help that young kid.

It’s a boy, an amazing boy…

Three weeks past the due date, the doctors decide we have waited long enough. The day is finally here; labor is induced at about 7 am and active labor takes hold very quickly. She struggles for hours but never dilated more than 2 cm. Hours go bye and she’s getting pretty worn out. Nearly 12 hours later, a C section is our only chance. The doctors take the baby, my son is born. All I wanted was to be a father and to have a son. One of the most amazing days of my entire life…I was overwhelmed. He was an amazing little boy every single day!

5 years later our marriage had come unraveled and we became separated and later divorced. The day I left for the last time, my son grabbed me and asked if I was coming back. I looked down at him and said “sure I will buddy”. I hugged him so hard and when he noticed that I was crying, he began to cry as well. He tugged at my arm and asked me not to go. I never again felt agony like that and I can’t imagine the pain he was feeling. It was without question the worst day of my life. After I pulled myself together in the car I left our home, my wife and that amazing 5 year old boy, my son.

Honestly, I’ve never been the same person since. So many years have passed and to this day I still struggle with, not the pain that I felt and still feel, but the pain that I caused. It’s never going to go away and it shouldn’t.

Dad is home

Daddy’s home!

Invisible money could last forever I guess…

Politically and economically, I am a pretty conservative person. I don’t believe the government should do it for you. I don’t believe in a (ballooning) tax and spend model. Yes, I believe that Uncle Sam should oversee certain things like international security, assuring an infrastructure is in place and maintained country wide…stuff like makes sense. I do believe a smaller government whenever possible is better…telling you how you should spend or not spend your money or whether you can legally buy a can of soda or not isn’t junk I agree with. Now, before I touch off a political firestorm here, let me just express that I know these are much more complex issues than just saying “spend money on this or cut spending on that” is not likely ever going to be a real process, nor should it…remember the democracy part? Ok, let’s keep it simple, I’m conservative and that’s, that.

Having said that, doesn’t it seem like with all brainpower we have in this great country that we could come up with a simple and fair way to collect and and then spend federal resources in a fiscally responsible way? I mean, 3rd grade math would indicate that you need to collect $10.00 before you can spend $10.00 (forgetting credit and leverage for a minute) and if you only collect $8.00, then you can only spend that much? Credit is a valuable tool and works in many areas of the financial world but I don’t think it has a place in a budget, whether that be a federal budget or the budget of a homeowner’s association or whatever. I know, national defense, seniors, there are a lot of “hot buttons” here because they are all really important budget items but there still should be a way to pay for all of these things without mortgaging the future of our country. How much everyone pays should be fair and equitable from top to bottom, whatever that means, but equally as important, in my opinion, is that it should be clear, easy, simple, predictable, all those magical terms.

Does anyone really think that a deficit (a negative budget) is acceptable, even for one year?

One additional player on the field…

In a recent post when I talked about the passing of my grandfather, I described the unexpected visit we had together just a short time before he passed. Before that day I had never experienced anything like that at all. However, since that day, there was one other time I felt like something or someone was intervening like the day when we sat together watching the game at his home.

A few years ago I was sitting at the kitchen table one evening, waiting to meet my daughter who was walking home from her soccer practice. I sat for just a few minutes and then peeked out the window and thought maybe I should meet her half way since it was beginning to get dark. The field where she practiced was not far from the house so I went out the front door and as I approached the road I noticed her coming up to the house. As I put my hand on her shoulder, it occurred to me that that was exactly what my dad did to me when I was very young and I always remembered that feeling. With that I asked, how was practice Honey, before she could answer she began to cry. I immediately thought she got hurt at practice, we stopped and I asked, are you ok, did you get hurt? She looked at me and said, I miss grandpa, she was referring to my dad. For a second or two I literally couldn’t speak. I finally said, what, what did you say? Again she said, I miss grandpa. As we looked directly at each other I tried to erase the stunned look on my face as I calmly said, I know Honey, I miss him too. Then I simply put my arm around her and we continued our walk to the house as I thought to myself, what the heck just happened here? A few minutes later I approached her again and asked if anyone had said anything to her or if something had happened earlier in the day to remind her of him and she said no. She said, no nothing like that, I just thought of him when we were walking and it made me cry. My dad had been gone for about 3 years.

Soccer days

Although we never again discussed that conversation, I often wonder what happened on the field that night. Not just how, but why did it happen? This isn’t the kind of stuff I typically believe in but when you experience it first hand like that you do begin to question what’s possible and what isn’t.

“It was peaceful, just very peaceful.”

Several years ago on a Saturday afternoon I finished up at work and like every other day I jumped in the car to enjoy what was left of my weekend with my family. After nearly 15 minutes of driving, I realized that I was going in the complete opposite direction of my home, and before I knew it I was just a few blocks away from my grandparents home…right away I was a bit puzzled. As an adult, I rarely had the opportunity to visit with them anymore and when I did, I did so with my ex-wife and the baby. In case you didn’t know it, as soon as you have children your grandparents only want to see the children and not you…only kidding, but you know what I mean. Well the thing that made this visit even more strange was that we were just there to visit them recently. Well, as I rolled around the bend and into the driveway, I thought, wow, this is really weird, I didn’t even consider coming over here after work, as matter of fact, I never did that before and all of a sudden here I am. I knocked on the door, my grandmother answered and immediately looked concerned as she asked, Pauly, what’s the matter? Nothing, everything is fine I responded and she let me inside. I kind of expected my grandfather to be at the bowling alleys, he was a big bowler…still bowled three nights a week on a couple of teams. Right away, she made 4 or 5 attempts to feed me but I wasn’t really in the mood…where’s grandpa, I asked, inside she replied. There he was reclined all the way back in his chair with two games (a small t.v. set up on top of the console) on at the same time and the radio playing very faintly on the floor beside him with a third game on as well. Hi grandpa I said. Pauly, he said, what’s wrong, is everything ok?. Sure I said, how are you. Fine, he replied. Sit down and watch the game he said, so I did. We sat together with the curtains drawn, in the dark, he in is chair, me, lying on the couch next to him. It was peaceful, just very peaceful. To this day I don’t really remember actually watching the game at all, we both just rested. My grandmother stopped in two more times to try to feed me but I just wasn’t hungry. On her last attempt, she just smiled at me and again turned out the light as she left the room. After about 30 or 40 mins, I decided it was time to get going. I had a family waiting so I got up to leave. Instead of just patting him on the shoulder as I walked past his chair like I always did he got up and walked me to the door. As we said goodbye, he hugged me and shook my hand…not a typical goodbye for us but very nice I thought and I went home.

Less than two days later he passed away.