It has been a long few days since I last posted. Late last week I made a quick (and somewhat brutal) trip to Wisconsin and back. I made it 2000+ miles in about 66 hours (and 36 hours of not really driving). The trip there was not that bad, but the last two hours of the return trip that was not the case. I had to stop at two rest stops and wash my face and try to remain coherent. A couple of rumble strips and a realization or two that I think my eyes had closed sufficiently frightened me. I tried to call one person who told me I could check in with him, but got no answer. Texts, of course, do not really work, so that did not really help me. Some would question whether I resemble the title of my blog, but sometimes you just have to do what you have to do. By the time I got home on Saturday evening my body was literally shaking and I could not make it up my steps to the bedroom. I actually rested in the chair in my living room for an hour or so before I could get my legs to work. I think that is the closest I have been to total exhaustion in a very long time. Amazing how once upon a time I thought road trips were fun. Perhaps there is some wisdom in my deteriorating brain even in its exhaustive state. Unfortunately, this also took its toll on my body in other ways. Three bags of fluids this time and, unfortunately, blood work revealed some larger issues. I was trying to get into the gastroenterologist in the near future. I guess I will get in a bit sooner. That is positive.
While I was in Wisconsin I was confronted by the consequences of health and aging in yet another dramatic fashion. There were more times than not (for the first time) that Lydia did not really know me nor was she cognizant of my presence, even though I was sitting right next to her. On a positive note, she did recognize me when I walked in on Friday. However, when the later events happened that day, I actually had to walk away because I began to cry. I have known this day is coming, but the reality of it for more than a moment was difficult for me to manage. I am always amazed that the students who do not really take the time to know me believe I am just a “hard ass” merely because I want them to do their work. What they do not realize is how much a really do care about most everything. As two of my non-traditional students at MTU once said, I am a smoosh. The second issue was all of Lydia’s property and the maintaining of all of it, which is my legal duty. I have tried to work with it in a way that I believed to be prudent and careful. I have allowed people to put in security and other things, which seemed reasonable, but most of it is not working as optimally as I want or believe it should for the money invested. It is not my area of expertise and the failure of it working or being managed is frustrating to me. I also understand that that management requires on-site work and that is not always easy. Then there is the maintaining of the house on a daily basis. I am too kind and willing to be put on the back burner than I should be. Then I end up angry, both at the situation and at myself. If I actually did follow through on some things I am afraid people would really think I am a jerk.
Another frailty that I was made aware of again is my nephew who is struggling with some health issues. He is the second of the five to have significant health issues. Both he and his older brother (while their issues are very different) struggle and will struggle with for the remainder of their lives. For the elder nephew, it is an issue of maintaining a sense of health with a device. I actually understand that more than he realizes, and as noted a the previous paragraph, I continue to fight it. Sometimes I get tired, and there are always questions about how to fight or combat. There is also the option to no longer fight and, at moments, even that seems like a reasonable option. Perhaps I say that because I am content with my life and believe I have accomplished most of what I hoped to do. Of course, there is the question of what do we set out to do? Do we even know? Is there some grand plan about what makes someone successful or not? Do we reach a point where we merely will allow what is to happen merely happen because it is the best plan? That is not to say that we should not plan or work with the cards we are dealt. In fact, I set up the appointment at the attorney this morning. I will have my ducks-in-a-row. Before you think I am being fatalistic, not completely . . . . more realistic. I still have plans and I still have hopes and dreams.
Yet that brings me to the third of the things that happened while I was in Wisconsin. Over the past 10 years, both Lydia and I have worked with a particular contractor regarding concrete and stonework. I have had another project on the back-burner with him for more than a year and I called him while driving back on Saturday. What I got on the other end of the phone call to the question of “how are you?” totally blew me away. He responded, “Do you really want to know?” and I answered, “Yes.” His response was that his 48 year old wife had passed way about 10 days before. I was stunned. In spite of all the time I had spent with him over the years, it was always professional and not personal. I did not know that his wife was both a firefighter and paramedic for the Eau Claire, Wisconsin Fire Department. In the spans of barely over two months, she went from becoming ill to dying of colon cancer (http://www.leadertelegram.com/blogs/christena_obrien/article_d75bfc38-d61d-11e3-a306-0019bb2963f4.html). I know this disease and I know what it does. While many can manage it with reasonable testing, when it occurs like this, there is little that can be done. When it ravages a body that is already compromised from an IBD or something, it is a very different animal. I am so sorry for Greg and his and her family. Yet, it reminds me again that our time is limited. We really do not know what lies around that next corner.
I think that is why I have tried to live my life to the fullest I can. While I have not really thought that much about it, as I ponder now I realize that I have been blessed in so many ways, from places and people, from experiences and opportunities, from the love and care of others. To each of you who have played a significant role both in the past or now . . . . simply, thank you. I am grateful and I am looking forward to more times to continue to create my own personal quilt or picture. I think that is my understanding of sentido común. While some might believe me to be lacking this essential element (and my father said that it was neither), I do believe realizing who we are and what we have is perhaps the most profound understanding of it.
Thanks for reading.