I’ve heard it called a mid life crisis. I pictured a 50 year old man with a bit of a gut, a receding hairline he’s trying to save, and a sports car he shouldn’t have bought. I pictured him flirting with younger women and making a fool of himself. I pictured a cheesy shirt and some jewelry he shouldn’t be wearing and a dirty martini. Its what I pictured. What crept up and slapped me square in the face was what it really is. Not so much a crisis as a stage of life. A transition. A skin shedding. A wing spreading. A death and a rebirth….and most shocking of all….not a HIM at all.
Someone once told me I was doing it wrong. DOING IT WRONG. It doesn’t matter what “IT” was. I saw a quote that says “Just because someone is on a different path than you does not mean they are lost.” That person who told me I was doing it wrong….she was wrong. She was very wrong. I have made a million mistakes, some bad decisions, said some words I regretted, hurt some people I shouldn’t have, and all of it has me right here, right now. And there’s no place else Im supposed to be.
I cannot believe you would be 63 today. That’s old. You’d think it was old. I guess I didn’t realize how young you really were. Im 43 years old now. FOURTY THREE. You died at the age of 53. Damn that is so young. So. Young. Not sure I can even picture you being 63. Less hair, more sentimental, more emotional, more nostalgic, still riding that Harley and RETIRED. Its sucks shit you didn’t get to enjoy retirement. I mean really. Thats just not cool. You’d have gone on a lot of rides with Dennis Im sure. You’d have taken Mom on more trips. You’d have gotten that damn pool because Mom would’ve won that argument and your grandkids would’ve loved it. I wonder if I would have left Texas.
As all great conversations are held over beer in a lawn chair on a driveway…..we’d have had an hour or so one today. We would have had red velvet cake and beer and turned the garage radio on and sat in the lawn chairs on the drive and solved the world’s problems. Dad there is a great possibility that the presidential race next year will have 2 women. Yes Im serious. I think its badass. I don’t care what your politics are its about time! Its funny I used to care more about politics. I don’t really give a shit anymore. Life’s too short and meant to be lived outside, away from the tv. I just don’t care about that anymore. We often disagreed on political issues but it was so fun arguing/talking to you about them. I have a feeling your granddaughter is going to change the world.
You would’ve been sad about Patrick. More than any of us I think. You were very much the most emotional one in the family. Well, except Kelly…you know that. Poor thing cries if you look at her funny. She got that from you. I’ve cried a LOT in the past 9 years Dad. Brain rot sucks. It so totally sucks. And motorcycle accidents suck. And cancer sucks. I don’t cry as much anymore. It doesn’t mean I don’t miss you. I do. Every single day. The pain of loss gets less INTENSE over time but it never ever goes away. And the funny thing is the longer you are gone the more I miss you. You would’ve offered advice on the driveway about saving enough money for me and the kids to be ok without Patrick. You’d have said “you’ll always have a place here”. I would have felt that security. I don’t have that now but Im ok. I promise. I often wonder if I’d have left Texas if you had lived. I don’t know the answer. I really don’t. But I do know I am right where I am supposed to be now. I found a strength in me I NEVER knew was there. You’d be proud of that. You would.
When UPS trucks drive by I think of you. When CCR comes on the radio I think of you. When Harley’s drive by I think of you. When Coors is around I think of you. When I open the spare room closet and your 3,000 Harley t-shirts are hanging there I think of you. When I start a conversation with “well lemme ask you this….” I hear you. Its funny. When I find myself standing on my couch with a clenched fist screaming at those damn Dallas Cowboys and everyone is looking at me like Im crazy…yep…I came by that genetically. By the way- you don’t even want to know how its going this season. I like all those little reminders.
Colorado is as beautiful and amazing and awesome as you always said. I wish you’d gotten to live here. Last year I went to where you had your accident. What a beautiful last sight you got to see. I see why you loved it here so much. Im going to climb every damn mountain, walk every trail, stare at every beautiful sight for ya. For Patrick. Because I can. Dad- I climbed Pikes Peak. Pretty sure you knew that. Leaving Texas was hard. Not as hard as it would’ve been to live the rest of my life and wonder. I hope you get that. I hope you know. Im sure you do.
Dad music is still shitty. The classics are still better. I choose Bob Segar and Fleetwood Mac and Zeppelin over current pop everyday. You’d be glad. Somethings just cannot be done better. I still choose beer over fru-fru drinks. I still don’t wear white below the waist after Labor Day. I still let the other cars leave the line first when the light turns green. I still check my oil consistently. I never leave home without money. And my friends laugh but I take toilet paper on every hike. I learned the importance of that from you and your sock story!
Maddie & Andy are amazing. You’d love watching them play soccer and watching Maddie cheer. I can hear you saying a thousand times how much you “loved watching me cheer” and this is “deja vu” and “time flies so enjoy every minute”. I am. I am.
I know you’d also say work less and play more. Im working on that. I get it now. I hope there’s a long winding beautiful road where you are and access to a low rider today. I hope you get to have a Coors too. I will. Happy Birthday old man. Until next year.
I am seldom at a loss for words. Last Friday night at a football game I was left that way. My daughter’s cheer coach secretly organized a surprise for my family. In all my life I’ve never, we’ve never received so much love and support. It is beyond over whelming.
The shit that comes with brain rot or any chronic, degenerative disease is enough but when you add the medical bills it only adds to the stress. To be honest I don’t think about the bills anymore. We try to concentrate on LIVING. And laughing and loving and traveling and appreciating the moments. Because when I think about the asshole at the Insurance company who decided Ataxia didn’t really require MRI’s or CAT scans or blood tests or a spinal tap or any of the other plethora of barbaric tests Patrick had….that this asshole gets to decide they wont pay for this stuff because its just not really necessary and they have no fucking clue what Ataxia is…I’d like to punch him or her in the face and ask how they can live with themselves. I cannot go there. I just can’t. No room or time for that and it does not promote a peaceful heart.
I instead focus on the fact that we have an amazing, caring doctor and time. TIME. More precious than I ever imagined it could be.
As I age I have let forgiveness come easier. I let “thank you’s” roll off my tongue without pride now, I let the little things go, I choose to concentrate on the good. But receiving is a new one to me really. To us. The amount of money that was raised for Patrick’s trike in such a short time is beyond description. And for both of us it is uncomfortable and weird and strange and joyous and crazy. It can seem a tad uncomfortable when people are GIVING to you. We are slowly learning to gracefully receive.
And we cannot express how grateful and appreciative we are. This trike is a physical way to have freedom for Patrick as well as a mental one and we’ll never EVER be able to express how kind , thoughtful, loving and appreciated this trike is. THANK YOU!
I may sell workout DVDs and Shakes and help people get fit but I know my job is much more than just a “coach”. That lives change and confidence grows and clients battle and win against depression when their physical body is healthy. That woman with major food issues come to ME for help in overcoming that. That fitting into your “skinny jeans” is much more than just “wow Im skinny now”. Its why I do what I do. Because it changes people much more on the inside than it ever does on the outside.
And a little cheer squad in the middle of Colorado might go unnoticed in most circumstances. We are not much different than the million other cheer squads in small town America. Friday nights, football, pom-pons, hair up in ponytails, tumbling, parents watching in the bleachers. But to me this little cheer squad is much more. Im betting most of them are. They are family and amazing and gracious and self-less and a major support system for my daughter. And together, in just over 24 hours, they raised over $7,000 for a trike. So one guy could taste some freedom again.
Inside most people is much more than you’ll ever see on the surface. Thank you to our community, family, friends, and to Jessica & the Palmer Ridge Varsity Cheer Squad and their parents! Ride On, Patrick! 🙂
I think when I was younger I just assumed I’d never leave Texas. I am a 5th generation Texan. Seriously- thats a LOT of years and a LOT of family born and raised there. There’s this sense of security and safety that comes from staying near family. From living where you are familiar. From knowing there are a 100 relatives within arms reach. Especially if your parents are there. And when Patrick & I bought our last house in Texas it was 2.5 miles from my parents house. I cannot express to the degree at which I was certain, CERTAIN it would remain that way.
No matter how old you get having your parents near is a very cool thing. Well….most of the time. We had built in babysitters when we needed them. And the thought that if I ever needed anything or had to “escape” or feel like a little girl again for just a bit-was supported by the fact that in 5 minutes I could be at their house. My parents’ house.
I had never lived outside of Texas. I was born and raised in North Dallas. I went to college in East Texas and Patrick & I lived in Austin for a few years before kids. That is as far as I had ventured…Austin. Damn cool city by the way. Although I don’t have an NRA card or know any farmers or have ever ridden a bull as all the stereotypes would assume- I am Texan through and through.
When my Dad was killed I was 33. My kids were 4 and 5. And my plan went to shit. How dare he die. How dare my ideal image of life go up in flames. God damn deer. It’s funny that a lot of people I know live what I’d call a “charmed life”. They do not know tragedy or loss or illness or any of that crap. And I would be lying if I didn’t have a tinge of jealousy over that. That ideal life is pretty cool.
When I left for college it was 3 hours from home. I cried. I was nervous and scared and I’d never lived in a dorm or away from home before. But as I’ve blogged about before my second Mom, Lynda, convinced me it would be the right thing. And she was so very right. Im so grateful for leaving home and learning and failing and falling and getting back up on my own. SO. GRATEFUL.
So my Dad died suddenly and Patrick got brain rot and my pretty little plan unraveled. And when your husband has brain rot and asks how you feel about leaving your home and heading for the mountains you pause a second and then remember Lynda saying “GO”. Because why not?
So up and moving your life across the country is quite normal for a lot of people. Military families do it all the time. They are better than me, though. And to this girl- moving to Colorado was HUGE. HUGE. And the honest truth is I had to have a conversation with myself about my future. If my husband is no longer around and my kids are off at college am I going to be OK in Colorado with no family? Alone? It’s just a question I had no choice but to ponder. I never considered myself all that strong or independent. I liked having family around, I liked having support, I didn’t like being alone or left to handle things on my own. But that was before. Before motorcycle accidents and brain rot. And that girl had to grow up.
In the days and weeks after Dad died I was sick to my stomach at the thought of my Mom alone in her house. I hated that for her and wondered how she was going to survive. Now I know I was an idiot- she is a very strong person. And so am I.
I cry and worry and get anxiety and hate brain rot and have my bad days. But I KNOW I am a tough girl. Unfortunately I watched my Mom be that. Fortunately I got that from her.
It’s funny the things you think about as your kids get older. Maddie starts High School in the Fall…Andy wont be far behind…God willing….and that means in 5 years it’s just Patrick & I. That is crazy to me. CRAZY. The time flew. And I know…I know and am acutely aware that it could be just me. Of course not one of us knows exactly the amount of time we have on Earth. Tomorrow is not guaranteed for anyone. Im so grateful for the wisdom and strength and bravery and fortitude that was passed down to me that gave us the courage to move at the very time we probably should have stayed close to family. But life is short and opportunities arise at the strangest of times and if Im going to pass down to my kids the strength, the courage, the fortitude, the “why not” attitude….I needed to shit or get off the pot as my Grandad used to say. Actions speak loudly. I have embraced every part of Colorado. It has been the perfect place for my family. It is. Patrick is happy. My soul is happy and my kids are happy. Texas will ALWAYS be home. ALWAYS. But sometimes I think that fate or God or whatever you want to call it knows exactly where we are supposed to be at each turn in our lives. I am right where I am supposed to be.
My hat’s off to all the single parents out there, to all of our military families, to those who’ve lost loved ones, to the ones who have felt “all on their own”….YOU are the brave ones.
As I get older I realized that the things worth doing, the things you SHOULD do are the things that make you nervous and scared and anxious. If it doesn’t make you those things……is it really worth doing? Do scary things. You are braver than you think.
My husband and I went on a 5 mile hike at Palmer Lake Reservoir Sunday. I was secretly hoping he would pick Santa Fe or Spruce Mountain to hike instead. Palmer Lake has a pretty steep ascent that is quite long which means coming back is a very steep descent. I’ve grown to despise going downhill.
My husband’s “brain rot” (see previous blog from July if you are unfamiliar with the “brain rot”) causes ataxia. If you don’t know what that is it basically means uncoordinated. His balance, gait and depth perception are quite affected now. He walks like he is drunk. Without the fun part. So hikes are a challenge. Going uphill is great. There seems to be less of a balance issue and we trek along at a good pace.
It takes quite a bit of effort by the human brain to coordinate all of the bazillion things that must occur for your body to move downhill and not fall. It really is quite amazing. Most of us take that simple event that happens a thousand times a day for granted. Just one foot in front of the other…not giving it a second thought. Patrick does not have that luxury. His brain does not communicate correctly with his feet. In fact…his exact words on the hike were “my brain doesn’t know where my feet are”.
So as we start the descent downhill I put my arm out…he grabs it. It helps for him to balance against me. He said I am like his “stair rail”. Ha. Glad I can be useful. So as all 165 pounds of him LEANS on all 102 pounds of me and wobbles or falls or loses balance or shifts its a bit of a thrill when you are on the side of a cliff with a 200 foot drop!
Now, to put it mildly, I am NOT a patient person. Thats why I find it quite ironically humorous that the universe blessed me with a child with severe ADHD and a husband with brain rot…REALLY? So the downhill portion of the hike is quite a test of character for me. HMMMM…be patient and support my husband down the hill so he doesn’t fall or get irritated and say “dude you’re on your own I just cannot go this slow”. Yes I just re read that. I AM that shallow. Shit- I know how bad that all sounds. I am human. And if I said I love every fucking second of this journey we are on I’d be a liar. Some of this crap just SUCKS! And at times I lose my patience. At times Im not so sweet (if you can believe that). At times I question what the hell we did to deserve this. At times I want to run. I am so far from perfect and I will right here, right now admit that when I said “in sickness and in health” this shit NEVER crossed my mind.
So as I “slow my pace” to match his and keep thinking how many more calories I could burn if I was moving faster I sort of saw myself and thought “damn you’re an ass”. I started looking around at the mountain, the rocks, the trees changing colors, the caves, the blue birds, the lake and my husband. Slowing down. SLOW. ING. DOWN. If he didn’t have brain rot we would walk much much faster. We would have raced each other for fastest time. We also would not have had the 50 great conversations we had. I wouldn’t have noticed the water, the birds or the trees changing. Because I would’ve been rushing to finish.
Now before you think Ive come to find the “REASON” behind him getting brain rot or that I believe everything happens for a reason or that we are done fighting this thing that couldn’t be further from the truth. I quit trying to find “all the reasons why things happen”. It is a colossal waste of time and energy that could be spent doing something more constructive. Like research.
All Im saying is…sometimes slowing down is not such a bad thing. It’s all in your perspective.