Wishing I Knew, then again, Perhaps Not

Hello on a somewhat mixed bag morning,

Much like the sky this morning, I am not sure what to expect from the day. Eleven years ago today, the small town (and it is the only location in Pennsylvania that uses the word town as its official designation) where I live had a flood, which would change our entire semester and move the town to build a flood wall, a project still in process. We would be out of school for 10 days and it was like starting the semester all over. As I read the stories about Jackson or other places where floods have reminded us of nature’s power and fury.

I had intended to write yesterday on what would be the 66th birthday of my closest childhood friend, a friend whose mother and my adopted mother were life-long friends, a friend whose grandparents bought their house from my grandparents. I think you get the picture. Perhaps we were pre-ordained to be friends. We were sort of brothers of different mothers. Peter Gayle Goede was a force of nature because he created a presence wherever he went. And in spite of two older brothers who were amazing in their own rites, he was not to be outdone just because he was the youngest. He had a laugh that would fill an enormous space in an instant, and while he perhaps had a disdain for athleticism, he was as much of a superstar as anyone when it came to his theatricality and his ability to command a stage. I remember being in Sioux City Children’s Theater with him and his still one of the most amazing Jacob Marleys I have ever seen. But it would be his voice that presented an opportunity that changed his life.

We grew up in the poorer section of a town of 100,000 people (and he technically lived across the river in another town, and actually in another state). Ironically that little corner of the city was a hotbed for garage bands, and really good ones. Pete was asked to sing the classic Beatles song “Let it Be,” which was the theme of our high school’s homecoming. He blew people away with his effortless and incredible rendition of the Lennon piece. Not long following, one of those bands asked him to be their lead singer, and what followed would change their lives, and I would argue continues to influence them, even beyond his premature death. I remember the last time I visited him before he passed. He was in a care facility because he could not really do anything for himself. It was quite astounding to see what ALS had done to him in a relatively short time. As we chatted, his voice little stronger than a whisper, he asked that I might take him out for a frosty at Wendy’s, which I was glad to do. I had to put his jacket on, I buttoned it for him, I helped him get in a car and fasten his seatbelt. In some ways it was like Peter was trapped inside a mannequin of himself. As we drove to Wendy’s, he reminded me I would need to feed him, and much for graphically he explained if he needed a restroom what my duties would be. I merely responded, “That’s fine; I understand. No problem.” He stated matter of fact my, “I don’t want to wipe your a**.” I smiled and responded, “ No worries; I don’t have one.” And we both started laughing. Even now I realize how comfortable we were with each other, and I am grateful to this day I could make him laugh as he faced his inevitable mortality. While there were a number of unexpected elements to our day, it was most shocking when he said, almost as an aside, “I never expected to get old.” I had no response, and merely pondered his statement.

Even today, I wonder if individuals, relatively healthy and with little reason to suspect adversity, can by some 6th sense or intuition, have a sort of premonition of their own end of life? If so, is such a sense comforting or disconcerting? How much is reasonable to know and when is it too much? Certainly, there is an element of individuality to this answer. Additionally, it probably depends on the seriousness of gravity of the revelation. As I have turned another year older, living the first full day towards a next birthday, I am positive that age has something to do with it. Am I ready for some soon, even though the sometime eventuality of my existence as a living, breathing, cogent person is there, to happen? Most certainly not! I have much I want to still accomplish. And as an aside, I am sitting at PennDOT in the queue to get a new license. I think I might get through the queue at Westminster to view her late Majesty Queen Elizabeth II quicker. I did get my license purchased and paperwork completed, but it was going no to be almost two more hours to get a photo. I will go back another day and to a center more geographically convenient. All of the additional things seem to predict a ridiculously busy coming 7 days. I think that is the reality of life until the end of the semester.

I sometimes wish those who have departed this world could come back from or a week and observe. They might need a day to contextual the present world, but there are two people I would love to sit down and listen to after their week’s observation of where we are presently. The two individuals are my paternal grandmother and my adopted father. The reason for the two of them are they are the opinions I believe to be honest. There is a difficulty because they are contemporaries, two years different in age, and actually cousins. I am pondering how similar their political stances would be. I am imagining my grandmother would be the more conservative of the two. I think this is the first time I have actually considered that. And yet, I would want to know their views and their opinions. My grandmother was a recovering alcoholic, and serious adherent of Norman Vincent Peale’s theory or positive thinking. Additionally she was a small business owner. Those things lead me to believe she was a traditional Republican. And, in spite of the fact both families were helped by Roosevelt’s new deal. Though as a farming family perhaps they did not benefit from all the Alphabet Agency support. My adopted father, on the other hand, told stories of walking with his father to collect rent payments, and taking the money to make sure it got home, ensuring Grandpa did not spend it in some bar before he got home. This, of course, reveals an entirely separate issue that is part of my family’s fabric. My father was a blue-collar, union electrician, who, I am quite sure never voted Republican in his life. He understood social programs, but simultaneously noted there are no free lunches. While my grandmother is still my hero and someone I think I understood, what I realize now is I am not sure where she would stand on some things. I am quite sure as someone who always treated the other with the utmost respect and rejected words or actions that demonstrated such unkindness, she would be mortified by our current National atmosphere. In fact, she would be angry, but note it in her own way. Her phrase was “I am so angry, I could just spit.” That was about as vulgar as she might get. I think I heard her say “damnit” once or twice. In fact, I am sure I would get lectures about my potty mouth.

Ironically, since I last worked on this blog, a few days ago, I was lectured for my potty mouth. And rightly so, perhaps. I am more like Luther personality-wise than I might have realized. To say there is an earthy element to my affect is most certainly true. As I write this, it seems it is time to begin yet another journey of sorts. I have done them before and yet each time seems more laborious. I never know if it part of what is in process or something new, but it is not a stranger to me. I know this battle and I will manage it. Seems time to post.

This is my musical mood on this October afternoon.

The layers of this song are profound

Thanks for reading,

Michael (aka Dr. Martin)

Published by thewritingprofessor55

As I move toward the end of a teaching career in the academy, I find myself questioning the value and worth of so many things in our changing world. My blog is the place I am able to ponder, question, and share my thoughts about a variety of topics. It is the place I make sense of our sometimes senseless world. I believe in a caring and compassionate creator, but struggle to know how to be faithful to the same. I hope you find what is shared here something that might resonate with you and give you hope.

8 thoughts on “Wishing I Knew, then again, Perhaps Not

  1. Dr. Martin,

    I first wanted to thank you for writing this blog post. I thoroughly enjoyed reading it and felt like I could relate on many of the topics you brought up and feelings you had. This year, I recently turned 23 in September. In many ways I can already feel time passing by me at the young age I am. High school seemed so long when I was there. College a little faster but still it seemed like time moved very slow. However, when I took a year off college for myself and to go work it all changed for me. It seemed like weeks and months would pass by so fast, then a year went by until I finally re-enrolled. Now, time feels slower but still very fast in general. I think this is because at the moment I’m taking 6 classes, running, and lifting every day. I have no real time for social interaction, as I just want to get my degree as soon as possible. I think when we don’t enjoy life, fail to take time out to enjoy the little things, and have a lack of people around to experience those things with is when life is at its worst. As a result, time moves faster during the daily and work grind and through the homework grind. It feels almost a sort of cope that I ignore the social aspects now to be able to enjoy them in the future. Maybe this is draining me now in certain ways, but I think in the future it is something I will appreciate. When I was at school prior, I mainly went to be able to find myself, find people to enjoy the rest of my life with, and just have fun. I looked back through some of my old classes on Bolt recently and was shocked by the results. In one class that only had essays as assignments, I only managed to get 2 of 6 essays handed in. I had no care or drive to get things done as I saw no future and was not planning for one. Now I understand as I’ve aged, that time is finite and even though it is good to enjoy your life as it progresses, I can’t enjoy my life without a stable job and stable mind. This school year, I have managed to get every assignment in on time and have done well in all of my classes. I’m proud of that. More importantly, as I age I think that mindset and the rewards that come from it will pay dividends into my future. Thank you Dr. Martin for the post and making me think, as I am happy to say nowadays I have a stronger outlook on the man, son, brother, grandson, friend, and person I am and are growing to be.

  2. Dear Dr. Martin,

    To answer your question if individuals have some 6th sense or intuition about the end of their life, I must answer yes. I would not have believed this was the case unless I had experienced it myself. When I met my late husband, he had just turned fifty years old but did not look one day older than forty. As a matter of fact, he refused to share his birth year with me, making it a mystery. As you know, nothing is a mystery when Google is around; I looked him up anyway. His age did not make a difference to me, but it certainly did to him. He kept telling me that he would never get old; he said everyone would get old but him. I used to laugh at this silliness, but later it dwelled on me that he knew he would never get old.
    When I became pregnant with our first child, my late husband told me the baby would be a boy and what he would look like. He said he would have his middle eastern shaped eyes and my nose (thank God). And that`s precisely what happened. We knew immediately what name this boy would have. When I became pregnant with our second child, he told me it would be a girl with his eyes and my nose. And again, we knew what her name was going to be. The same happened to our third child. When I became pregnant with your fourth child, he was unsure about the looks, the gender, or the name. It was very out of character for him, almost like he could not see it in his future. He died three weeks before my giving birth, without the baby`s name ever being decided.
    In my unfortunate circumstances, I was very fortunate to have an amazing Ob-gyn doctor. She understood my situation and allowed me to better manage the delivery timing by scheduling my daughter`s delivery. I went to the hospital at six in the morning for induction but was still sitting in the waiting room by noon. Apparently, it was a full moon, and everyone was having a baby that day. As the delivery wing was full, I was told to come back tomorrow. I was desperate to deliver that day and begged my doctor to help me. I did not want to go through this emotional roller coaster again. The doctor took pity on me and said they could have my induction started in the preparation wing and then wheel me to the delivery wing when it was time. I happily agreed. Once in the room, a nurse came in to check on me. Too much to my surprise, it was the same nurse who delivered my son. She was my husband`s long-time customer. Without her coming to check on me seven years prior, my son would have been born without a doctor`s assistance.
    When she walked in, I was instantly relieved. We started talking, and I learned that she was not scheduled to work that day but had to step in for someone sick. Additionally, she never works in the preparation wing; she always works in the delivery wing. What a coincidence, I thought. What she said next was even more stunning. She told me my husband had met her in the grocery store six months prior and told her about my pregnancy. He told her how happy he was to have another baby but sad because he would not be there to meet the baby. He asked her to take care of his wife while delivering our child. Because my labor progressed so quickly, I never made it to the delivery wing, and this nurse stayed with me the whole time. She was an incredible help to me during the process of childbirth; I could not wish for better assistance.
    Once the baby was delivered, the nurse, my doctor, and I cried together. It was a bittersweet experience, filled with raw emotions. As for the name of this child? That became glaringly apparent once she entered this world. She was named Antoinette Helena, after her parents.


  3. Good afternoon, Dr. Martin.

    I’m glad you had such a wonderful friend growing up. I believe the people we grow up around, especially our peers, greatly impact who we become. Peter Goede sounds like an amazing person, and I’m sorry for your loss. He sounds like a well-rounded individual who made a wonderful impact on your town and childhood. His comment on not expecting to get old is very honest and something not many can admit. Often I find myself looking up and realizing how much time has passed over the days, weeks, years, etc.
    Your question on the intuition of one’s upcoming death causes many queries in my mind. The first thing to come to mind is that feeling of unsafety when you suddenly ‘have a bad feeling’ about an event or day. I don’t believe one can know exactly when they may die without the surrounding conditions they have been made aware about. It’s very hard to speak of these topics as many are uncomfortable with the subject of death. However, I’ve found the more comfortable one gets with the topic, the less daunting it seems, regardless of beliefs about afterlife, reincarnation, etc. If people do have a 6th sense for such upcoming events, I believe they do not let the idea of their demise frighten them, otherwise they may ignore such a feeling.
    Your inquiries on the ideologies of your family members are interesting. I think it’s challenging to figure out where some lay on such a scale as both parties have taken such extreme sides of many complex issues with barely any leeway. I have always found politics difficult to understand. My parents never spoke of politics when I grew up. My brother took to the strongest opinion he heard, not knowing how to disagree with it and therefore believing it true without a shadow of a doubt. Now, he will not hear an opposing idea, even if it is from someone who believes his opinions and simply wants to look over the other side. I view this as a counterproductive dogma. However, we still never speak of such topics at home, not that I’m complaining. I think it more important to maintain peaceful environment than argue about a subject of which neither of us will change our minds. Your grandmother reminds me a lot of my Aunt. She has her beliefs but is open-minded to see the flaws of her peers on certain topics. She has an amazing personality and is a Roman Catholic from birth. If your grandmother was in-fact like her, I’m glad you had such a wonderful woman as a family member.

    Thank you for listening, and I hope you had a wonderful weekend!
    Carly Hill

  4. Dr. Martin, I really enjoyed reading your blog post. When you talked about the flood that occurred 11 years ago here in Bloomsburg, I remember that day so clearly. I remember we got out of school early that day because the rain from Tropical storm lee was so heavy and the creeks and rivers were rising so fast. I remember our driveway got washed out and the Lightstreet bridge near my home had to be shut down because the water was nearly flowing over. It was the worst flood Bloomsburg had seen since 1972. I remember we my family did not have power for a whole week. It amazes me where we are now 11 years later after that devastating flood. I certainly hope it will never happen again.
    I really appreciate you sharing that story of your longtime friend. Having those longtime friends can have such an impact on your life, I am sorry for your loss. To answer your question on if intuition has a sort of premonition of their own end of life? I will say yes and because there is a sense of comfort knowing . I do agree to a point that it does depend on the gravity of the situation. Some people have that sixth sense in them before an event occurs they wont feel so frightened or upset.
    I feel as though bringing up politics in todays world always never ends up good. I found your blog about your family members very interesting. It is always an interest to me where my relatives back then would stand now politically. Things have changed and continue to everyday.
    Thank you for your time,
    Josh Reifer.

  5. Dr. Martin, I really enjoyed reading this post. First, I am sorry for your loss. I have lost a lot of important people in my life and I can agree that you never feel the same after they are gone. After thinking about the loss of a loved one I thought the way you talked about how maybe people know when it is the end of their life. It is interesting to think about what really is going through a persons mind when they know their days are numbered. Do they know and not say anything? Is it a feeling of euphoria like i’ve heard? These are all important questions that may never be answered. I think if there is a sixth sense out there that allows us to know when it is our time is comforting. I know most people would not want to know, but I have always been a planner and someone who needs to know what is happening at all times. I feel like this is no different. I would want to have signs or a feeling that it is my time so I can say my goodbyes and get real closer on life. Your blogs are always so insightful and make me think about real life topics. Thank you for sharing your stories and personal experiences!

  6. Dr. Martin,

    This blog is a bit of a mixed bag, as you state in the beginning. However, I believe it was intended to analyze relationships (especially close ones) and just how important they are. Thus, this blog could be for anyone old or mature enough to truly value a relationship. In both anecdotes, it’s evident that should you surpass someone in life someone you consider close; their memory can be profound and lifelong should you choose it to be.

  7. Mortality is a topic that has been at the forefront of my mind over the last few years after the father of my children passed away suddenly. He was an individual that was plagued by the demons of addiction which ultimately exerted the final toll on his life. So many questions were left unanswered and just a single week, nay a single day of having him back would shed light on the puzzles which haunt me to this day. I would seek to learn why he had reunited with a bad habit I thought he had freed himself from completely. I would try to uncover who was responsible for supplying him with that which caused him to breathe his last breath. More importantly, I would try to gain an understanding on why he would roll these wicked dice of fate while knowing his children would be the ones to ultimately discover his tragic end. And as I type these questions, I ponder if the answers are better left unstated since I am unsure of how I would handle the absolute truth to these queries.

    Though as my mind ponders this life changing moment in time, I feel if there was a 6th sense, he did not possess it in the least. If he did, wouldn’t he want his children far away from the scene that would unfold? Wouldn’t he reassess his life and his choices and choose his children over some fleeting temporary high? He was a good father and a good man underneath the superficial mask he displayed to the world. I know he would do whatever it would take to spare his children the continual nightmare of life without him.

  8. I am reading this after just having a dream about my dead great grandmother which is kind of odd because in a way I was just picturing the same thing you were in the blog. We were on a school bus driving at night and she told me something that felt important but I forgot. When I moved to Benton I had a neighbor who was my best friend, we were in the same grade and we did everything a few kids could do in the woods that you could imagine. We would see each other every single day and so something stupid. He had severe ADHD and likely other mental illnesses, everyone at school hated how weird he was but he was like a little brother to me. Feeling like I was the wise one in the group, he looked up to me even copying my fashion. In 2020 he committed a terrible irredeemably bad crime and I had to leave that childhood friend behind. I often have nightmares that he is crying in jail and blaming me for the things he had done. I think this blame I put on myself is from how much he looked up to me. In a way I just wish we could have been friends till the day we died and that he did chose to do the things he did.
    Since then I have been rekindling the friendships I’ve had from my childhood. As a kid I would go on trips with my grandmother Fiona, she is a professional story teller who does events at libraries, theaters, and churches. I have been visiting her and asking for her advice more. I am very thankful that she is so young for a grandmother, she’s as old as some of my friends parents. I know I have lost one of my childhood friends but I likely won’t lose my grandmother very soon. I wonder how I will be one day when she is gone, just like my childhood friend will I blame myself for her leaving? When my mom’s cousin Nick died she told me about how much she wished she could have visited him. They were very close growing up, but being on opposite sides of the Atlantic ocean is a difficult obstacle to overcome. I’ll fight this feeling by spending more time with my family, I don’t have to cross an ocean to hang out with my grandmother. One day I will be just like her, sitting in my office excited for the next time the grandson will come over for a cup of tea.

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