Sunday, October 29, 2017

Thank you Mary

I woke in a foul mood from a Sunday-afternoon, unplanned cat-nap on the couch. I overheard my nine year old daughter asking my wife if she'd come play on the trampoline with her. My wife, awsome wife that she is, said sure, you go out now and when I'm done straightening and paying bills I'll come out and join you. 

Like I said, I was in a foul mood. My back hurt, chores were still undone, Monday was already looming and the Sunday doldrums were already strangling me. Then I did the unexpected. I joined Mary on the trampoline! She was pleasantly surprised and said dad are you really coming over here to jump with me? We played a couple classics like break the egg, log roll, and dead lady dead lady and before long I was huffing and puffing and played dead man dead man and on the count of five I didn't come alive. As Mary jumped around me it dawned on me how truly lucky I was to be alive. I invited her to lay down with me for a rest and thanked her for getting her old man out here to play a little bit, told her I was in a pretty grumpy mood. She said, "I know." Ouch. 

I asked her if she ever heard of Mindfulness. I told her being mindful was about being present in the moment. About being in the moment. Engaged, aware, and open, while at the same time attentive, focused and able. I asked her if she'd join me in a Mindfulness exercise I had recently learned. As we lay side by side on the trampoline on a brilliant Fall afternoon we closed our eyes and we discussed what each of our five senses were trying to tell us. 

We closed our eyes and started with what we were hearing. Wind chimes way over st the neighbors, birds, a car driving by, a distant dog barking and then it became real quiet and she said I hear the wind blowing in the trees. I asked her what she could smell and she said she could smell the leaves. I asked her what she tasted and she said her mouth. I asked her what a mouth tasted like and she said hers tasted like the Lemmon tea and honey Mom had made her for her sore throat. Yum. Told her I tasted my bad breath, yuck. I asked her what she felt and she said the trampoline pushing up against her. She said they had just done something like this in dance class. We all laid down and the teacher said relax. Feel your feet melt into the ground, now your legs and back-side. Feel them pressing against the floor, now feel them melt into the floor. Now your back, and shoulders let them relax. Now feel your head. Feel the weight of your head against the floor. Now as you relax let the stress flow out of your head and feel it lighten. Feel the muscles in your face and neck loosen and relax. Let the stress flow out of your shoulders and back and feel yourself get lighter. Let your legs and feet become light like a feather. Feel the tension and stress blow away like the breeze. Feel yourself floating on the floor. Now wiggle your toes and feet and flex and stretch the muscles in your legs and back. Open and close your hands and reach up into the sky. Roll your head slowly back and forth and up and down. Take a deep breath in. Let it out and slowly open your eyes. Now what do you feel Dad? I feel wow. I see wow. I opened my eyes and everything looked different. Everything looked brilliant. Crisp. New.

I asked what she saw. She said the sky is so blue and the leaves are so gold and the sun is so bright and the shade is so dark. I see Mom. I see her too babe and she is so beautiful. Suzy said what's going on out here. And I said Mary just made me see better! You have got to try this. So we repeated the Mindfulness Dance Class Relaxation Exercises and to my surprise the sky got even bluer, the leaves got even more golden and the sun even more bright! They started jumping and I went in to get Mary a water bottle, but came back out with her two sisters! All five of us on the tramp and two out of three of the dogs. Tyler would have jumped up too, but he's getting too old for such nonsense. He was witness, however, to what I will always remember as a little heaven on earth. As close to perfect as I will ever be. 

Monday, October 23, 2017

Dear Dad,

Sorry it's been so long since I have written you. I'm sure you'll forgive me, as you know I've been busy with parenting and working and wrestling with life and all its challenges. I used to love getting a letter from you with that beautifully readable script and command of the written language that was always so clear and confident and understandable. I loved how you'd sign it, DDD. 
Come to think of it I don't ever remember writing you. I don't even remember talking with you directly on the phone, that was Mom's department. It makes me wonder how cool it would have been if we had email back then. You would have been a voracious emailer. Even better - text. God I wish I could text you. I wonder if your sarcasm would translate in text. Probably. You were always so painfully good at it. 
Anyway, I am writing to thank you. Thank you for trying so hard with me. I know I was quite difficult growing up. Now that I have three of my own I can't imagine the balls it took to have a fourth. I know there was always that ongoing joke that I was a mistake, but I know sarcasm when I hear it. If I had a fourth kid and he was like me I would me with you by now. Fortunately, your three grand daughters are healthy and so smart and relatively happy most of the time. Kayla is 15 now. A sophomore in HS with a Learners permit and a lead foot (but, don't tell Suzy. Kayla's nervous when driving with her mom, but with me she's a regular Mario Andretti). She got straight A's in all advanced placement classes, she's a captain on the debate team, played JV golf last Fall and was on JV softball this Spring and she worked all summer at her mom's old law firm as a file clerk. It's hard to remember she's only 15 sometimes. Chloe is 12. She's crazy smart too. She just had those achievement tests and scored out on all subjects at 13+. In the 7th grade and testing out at college level already. It's hard for me to even comprehend (she must of got a whole lot of her brands from Suzy and some bonus smarts from you). She just took a big trip to Italy with Suzy and they were able to hook up with Pat and Mary. Our Mary is 9 already! She's a dancer and a karate kid. She is the sweetest kid. She's happy all the time and friendly and talks and talks and talks. She struggles with her school work a little, but just got her first real report card from the third grade. All A's and a B+ and I couldn't be any more proud of her. I think I learned from you to always compliment and recognize hard work and effort. I think I quoted you the other day when she was crying over her homework saying it was so hard, I said, "If it ain't hard it's hardly worth doing!" I think that was one of yours. I don't think she liked me saying it as much as I didn't like you saying it, but someday she'll probably say it to her kid. I could go on and on about them, but I know you know them. 
I wish you were here and could get to know them in person. I like to think they know you through me, the good parts at least. The playing and the joking and the tickling and the laughing and the hugging parts. Also the tough as nails, protector, provider, lover of mom parts too. 
Well, thanks again for raising me best you could. I know it wasn't easy. And I know you weren't perfect, thank God, but you were a hell of a lot better dad than I ever gave you credit for while here. I am especially grateful for some of the lessons you taught me at the end of your journey. That no matter how rough the road gets, life is worth living. Life is always worth living, considering the alternative. Another one of yours I think.
Well I better sign off as it's getting late and I have work in the morning, Thank God!

Love always,

P.S. Sorry for not mailing this, but you didn't leave a forwarding address. Hopefully Heaven has WiFi and you can read it at or hit the link at if you can't figure it out ask Carol she'll show you.

P.p.s. Facebook OMG you would have loved Facebook. Pictures and home movies all point and click! You'd've loved FB. 

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Facebook memories

Facebook has started putting up memories on my wall to share. I really enjoy them. Appearently I shared this picture of DDD on Facebook four years ago. It made me wonder what I was doing to inspire the post. Was probably doing what I'm doing right now. Blogging on Dumbdumbdaddyo trying to ground myself, find some peace of mind and figure out what it's all about. This picture really hits me in a lot ways so I decided to just start writing about it and see why. He looks genuinely happy. Little twinkle in his eye. He looks jovial. This is him from when I was a teenager. He looks heavy. Fleshy. Round. Fat and happy. 

This is a little disconcerting as everyone who knew him says I look exactly like him. "Oh well, we are who we are," He used to always say, among other things. 

No judgement. But neither Fat nor happy lasted much longer after this picture was taken. After the strokes happiness was a rare commodity. The judgement is on me. Fat and Happy sounds pretty good when compared to just fat, which is pretty much how I have felt lately. 

Well here I go again. Writting myself into a stupor because I shared a photo of my father with a jovial smile and a twinkle in his eye! With a beard he could've been freaking Santa Claws. He led an incredibly happy and successful life and I am living proof of it. My children are even more so. If he were here right now he'd say something like, "I know you're home where you can scratch where it itches, but why don't go tuck in my grand daughters and tell them how much you love them. Go drink the sweet nectar of your wonderful life. Smell the roses. Live your life, it's not meant to just be happy all time. It's just meant to be,"

Well alright then Pops I'll just go tell my kids how much I love them just like you used to do with us. I love you too,

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

In My Head

I have to admit to struggling greatly lately. Call it grief, depression, anxiety I don't know what to call it. I'm blessed and highly favored, but at times, miserable. I look at it as a major character flaw that has led me down all sorts of avenues of self destruction. I've always thought I'd figure it out someday and just live happily ever after. But, here I am, a grown man riding this emotional roller coaster called life. I find gratitude is the best medicine for a bad attitude. So I try to count my many blessings daily. My beautiful and supportive wife. My three incredible daughters who love and torment me for sport. My dogs. My extedended family. My skills and gifts and ability to turn things around. 

So, like I said, recently I've been all backwards. Work has become unimaginably challenging and more than a little unfair and in it I've been unsuccessfully trying to work myself out of a hole. When I'm working really hard my head is down and I usually start driving some pretty deep ruts. Well, to be honest, I've been stuck in these deep ruts with my head down for weeks now. In this position it is next to impossible to see signs and if you can't see them you'r blind to the maker of the universe who lines our trek through life with obvious signs of salvation. So Sunday I looked up long enough to notice Suzy had brought home a Sunday paper. We let our subscription lapse a few months back and since there was no football all I really missed were the headlines and horoscopes. 

So I checked the headlines, the football and wam bam thank you mam salivation

I know it ain't scripture, but signs don't have to be. They come in all shapes and sizes and have a myriad of authors including the person who wrote this horoscope who nailed it. It was exactly what was wrong with me. It wasn't the situation it was my perspective. I had been looking at it all wrong. The extra hard work I'd been putting in had been having an effect, a positive one. I just couldn't see it. Today I got an email from one of my toughest critics and she said, "This is really good. Great job. I think we're ready to move foreword with this." I actually teared up a little bit and had to take a few deep breathes to keep myself together. Still had many more things to do before I could call it a day and head out to pick up my daughter from softball practice in Palisade. 

When I get there I am informed there was a team dinner and she had a ride. She says, "I texted Mom!" I said I am not mom, but go on. I'll pick you up in an hour and a half. It would take an hour to get home and back so I decided to kill a little time in Palisade instead. I went looking for the park by the river, but found an incredibly beautiful nature preserve instead.

Not long into immersing myself in this beauty I started thinking about the profound affect that horoscope seems to have had on me. So I start to write this post under the shade of a tree and time flew by so fast I almost forgot to leave in time to pick up Kayla. The direction on my phone took me the back way through Palisade, through miles and miles of vineyards and orchards and one breathtaking view after another. When I got there I was met by a giant Great Dane and a little, blind, Yorkshire Terrior who broke my heart. The girls were having a great time out back. Kayla had been thown in the pool in her uniform and it was a joy to see her so happy on a Tuesday night with homework still to do. 

So when your heads is up you start seeing signs everywhere. So I get home and my other daughter Chloe asks me if I knew the definition of Serendipity? I thought about it and my guess was the act of receiving unwarrented happiness. She wasn't happy with this answer so she asked Suzy "the dictionary/language master/jurious doctorate" wife of mine and she said, "An unexpected magically happening series of events that leads to happiness or something like that," and Chloe gives me this look and I say see, she just confirmed how smart I am. Sounds like unwarrented happiness to me. She didn't bother looking it up beacause between us we pretty much nailed it. Well just to make sure.

Like I thought, nailed it. 

So a horoscope, a hard day of work, a nice email from a coworker, no text from my daughter, some time alone in a nature preserve, and a vocabulary word and I found serendipity. I found some happiness. I found a conception that earlier was eluding me.

Kind of excited about work tomorrow. Have some big challenge to face there, but I guess it's all in the way I look at it! Maybe if I look at it right I will find some more serendipity! 

Friday, September 8, 2017

I had a really cool dad.

Heard it in a movie tonight. It rang true with me. Upon the death of his adopted father the main character said how he didn't know it growing up, but now that he's gone he knew. "I had a really cool dad."

Sunday, August 13, 2017

The View

A long time ago I was visiting my dad in a nursing home after his last amputation. I had left my bride, but brought our young dog Henry. We drove from Aspen to Phoenix in the big brown bomber, the '84 Landcruiser with big mud bogg tires. It was a rough time those tears when they took his toes and then his foot and then finally the leg just bellow the knee. The heartbreak and the strokes were bad enough, but when he lost his balance and his feet started dieing things really started to spiral. I was there for ten days with the secret mission of getting him home to mom's home-cooking so he would eat and stay alive. He had gotten so skinny. That skeletal kind of skinny. I think his weight when he was a freshman at Maryland was probably a buck 50 with dark eyes that had seen action in the war (I picture in my mind the team picture from his freshman year yearbook that I had looked up online when I first started this blog, I thought he looked skinny and haunted). Now he was far below that weight in bed, missing a leg, greatly diminished in size and looking skinny and haunted). He still had a presence about him. Here was a real man, but most of the time that first day he seemed like he really wasn't sure where he was and he much preferred being asleep than awake trying to figure it out. Most of his awake time was spent getting used to the idea of only having one leg. He was not himself, but Henry recognized him right away. Jumped his front paws up on th bed and sniffed the stub. He gave his knee a friendly little lick. Henry loved what I loved and I loved my dad more than anything and man did I love that dog. Henry was a golden retriever with an incredibly old soul. He could out run, out jump, out fetch or swim any dog alive. He was eighty pounds of mountain bread muscle and had a blond silky main with red highlights you could just bury your hands into. All this mattered little to the patients and staff of this institution, what matter to them was his huge heart and ancient soul. We'd visit my father first thing in the morning and then we would go all around his floor.

When we entered the nursing home for the first time Henry understood right away that this was a very special place full of very sick, very old people and one of the sickest was ours. He was always very serious when we were there. With my dad He would sit up right close to the bed and his chin would rest on the mattress, my dad would roll on his side and they'd nearly be nose to nose. They would look into each others eyes and Henry would give him a little head tilt. My dad would drift off to sleep, open his eyes and sort of mumble, is he real? Is he really here? Yes, dad this is King Henry! Once when he was looking at Henry he said to me, "You aren't Jay are you?" I said no I'm the other one. He'd pet Henry a few times on the head then drift off to sleep again. Henry and I would go visit some old people to brightin up their days and brighten them we did. One very old woman would slide to the edge of her bed so she could rest her hand on his big wide head. She would look at him under her hand and say, my lovely, my lovely, my lovely. The nurse told me she had not spoken a word in 2 years.

Most of the time my dad's mind was suffering from delusions and he would wake up talking about needing to drive to Alabama because he was going out for baseball in the Spring. But he would see Henry and then he'd look at me and then look back at Henry. Then he'd be back with us again and we'd talk and I start asking some tough questions. I had this theory about using tough question to challenge the brane and spark new connections across infarcts and damaged grey matter. I would say tell me about the war or what was it like playing football at Maryland or about your parents and he do the best he could answering and then drift off to sleep. I onced asked him if he had ever been scared. He said he was afraid of being a terrible husband or a crappy father. He said he was afraid of turning out like his old man. I would ask him about his dad, my grandfather and he would try and change the subject or close his eyes and loose consciences, to say go to sleep isn't really accurate. He would just decide to not be awake anymore. 

I'd be sitting in the chair by the window with Henry laying at my feet. He'd wake up and realize we were there and ask me, "How's the view" I'd say best view ever. You should get up and see it. He'd say, "I've already seen the best view ever." I'd say you haven't seen this one. I would say the view's so damn good you can see the ocean from here. And the beach. The deep-sea fishing charter boats are heading out the inlet to ketch sea trout and blues. The sun's climbing up on the horizon and the boats are cutting through rolling, sparkling swells of glass. And the beach, just look at all those bikinis. You don't get to see that everyday. Now that I live in Aspen don't get to see the bikinis or the beach except in my dreams. This views so good you can also see the bayside. Look at that Welcraft plaining-off and cruising too fast under the Rte 50 draw-bridge that kid's probably get in a whole lot of trouble some day. And look at that Sea Ray shooting through the Rte 90 bridge heading into Assawoman Bay like a bat out of hell. Look how it's cutting through the glass with its bow in the air and it's ass in the glass, the wake slowly spreading out for ever destine to splash both shores on either side. Must be high-tide because it's tacking a straight line for the channel with no regard for the sand bars. At that speed he's probably only drawing two feet, should be fine, I remember thinking that a thousand time. He'd say something like, thought it wrong a few times too. He'd said, "We sure hit a lot of sand bars that weren't supposed to be there didn't we? We had some pretty great summers in OC didn't we?" We sure did Pops, we sure did. He'd be asleep before saying much more, but at least he was starting to try and stay awake.

So how's the view? Best view ever Dad, you should get up and see it. He'd say, "I've already seen the best view ever." You haven't seen this one. The view is so good from here I can see all the way to Aspen. The snow capped peaks and the deep blue green of the pines and the golden reds and golds of the Aspen trees turning. The sun is just breaking over the ridge line and melting the frost sending up whispers of steam like little mini dust devils, wow the air's so clean and clear and thin. Reminds me of my wedding day. He looked at me with tears in his eyes and said now that was a special day, very special. He'd ask how's Suzy and whether or not I was being a good husband. I'd ask him, are you?

I talked to him about what the doctor had said about starting the process of fitting a prosthetic leg. Even if you weren't planning on getting up and walking around it would be really helpful in getting from the bed to the wheelchair or more importantly from the chair to the toilet.

He'd change the subject by asking about the view. I'd tell him it's the best view ever. You should get up and see it yourself. He'd tell me he's already seen the best view ever. Not like this one. The views so good I can see the lights of Las Vegas all the way up and down the Strip. Remember when we'd play single deck 21 and you'd let me play with your winnings and we'd run the table almost all night long. Those were some good times bittybuddy he'd say. 

By the end of my time in Phoenix he'd gotten that new leg of his. He was able to stand up out of bed and lean forward on the walker and take a few baby steps. My last morning visit he was already up and was sitting in the chair in front of the window, unthinkable only the week before. I asked him if he was enjoying the view. He said it was the best view ever! I asked him what he saw and he said, "I see the way home." I asked if that was the best view ever that you kept saying you already saw? "No son. That best view ever is when I'd see you come through the door." 

Thursday, August 10, 2017

The Hero's Story

I've been wondering what this is all about lately and I have to admit not knowing. Deep inside me there is this need to tell the story. Not just any story, but his story. My dad's story. I love this blog because time and time again I've come here and tried and failed. I share a picture or a memorie that stirs in me some inspiration to give it another try. 

Recently one of those memories has surfanced from when I was really young. This memory is a faded picture. One of those 4x4 inch, rounded on the corners, 1970s, faded color photos, that may have never existed, but I think it did. Carol shooting the picture or maybe Karen took it but both are there. In the memory one of them took the picture with one of those little rectangular cameras with the plastic cartridge film that was easy load and not expose the film. One of the ones you could stick a little square disposable flash cube on and shoot 4 flash pictures with and the cube would rotate on quarter turn each time you pushed the film forward with the thumb slide thingy on the bottom. If I actually saw the picture it would have been over 40 years ago. 

We were in Birmingham, Alabama, where my father was born. It wasn't for a funeral which seem to dominate my memory of that place, but for a convention. An AMSA convention. The American Metal Stamping Association's annual convention, my dad wast the Executive Director. We were in the Presidential Suite on the top floor of the nicest hotel in town across the street from the Convention Center. We were looking down and across the street at the big sign out front of the Convention Center and it had a big flashing marquis that ran through the middle of it. The words would roll out and stop, "Birmingham Welcomes Home..." the words would roll off then the next line would follow, "Her Favorite Son..." then in all caps, "JEFF KEITH!!!"  I remember my sisters timing it so they could snap a shot of each of the sections of the message. 

That's about it. A snap shot memory. Of  my sisters taking a snap shot of my dad's hero's welcome home. There had been others before I was born. I remember a news clipping of when he came home from the University of Maryland before going off to play in the Sugar Bowl the honored him with a parade. Hard to imagine, but that's what the newspaper clipping had said. I'm sure when he came home from the war before going to Maryland there must have been some kind of hero's welcome then too I imagine. 

I remember him being a little uncomfortable about seeing his name up on that big sign. I vaguely remember him grumbling something like I'm really going to hear it from the board that that's why we're here in this sweaty little town instead of Las Vegas or New York or Cleveland. It's probably one of my earliest Penthouse Hotel Suite Convention in a big city memories of which there were a lot. Until I became a teenager and they stopped and my dad's life started getting a little rough. 

Telling the Hero's story is tough. It isn't easy to get right. You have to start in the right place. Here again I have failed. I needed to start at the beginning him leaving home a down-trodden son of an alcoholic ,16 years old, off to become a Marine, but being found out too young having to ride banana boats up and down the Panama Cannal as a Merchant Marine for two years before becoming a real Marine in the Pacific Theater during the Big One. Overcoming one adversity over another, achieving one unbelievable level of success after another and finally returning home the hero. Well, maybe I'll get it right next time. 

I remember one time we were at a convention in Dallas and Jay and I were up on the sun deck of this sky scraper hotel fooling around on these massage tables when one of them fell over and crushed my ankle. It was all swollen and black and blue but I still got to go out to the dude ranch and shoot shot guns and ride horses. Good times. Funny how writting about a memory somehow unlocks a few others. 

Saturday, August 5, 2017

The Rabbit

Emma was chasing a rabbit and closing in on it as they reached the crest of a ridge.  Didn't capture this on film, but the image is blazin on my mind. The rabbit leaped its body fully extended slightly arched with the curvature of its tragrectory. Emma leaping a split second later. Jumping higher fully extended arcing with a trajectory, depending the length of flight would intersect with that of the rabbit. From my perspective below the ridge the rabbit sailed over the edge about three to four feet off the ground and Emma crossed over at least six feet above the edge. As they sailed the arc of a double rainbow over the cliff and out of sight I literally lost my breath. I saw it in slow motion the prey and the hunter the rabbit mid-flight turned an eye back and saw his nemisis flying in his blind spot. Then they float out of sight over and down the ridgline. I ran to the top and saw Emma about fifteen feet from the crest with her head fully jammed down a rabbit hole. For a second it looked like the rabbit maybe landed a Bullseye directly into his hidie hole and Emma just shot directly in behind her jamming her face so deep into the hole she was stuck. But she backed out and looked back up at me with a did you see it dad look? Yeah, I Saw it Em. Looked like Superman and Mighty Mouse or a sene from Mutual of Omaha. I know, Emma, your too young to know what any of that means, but trust me, it was cool. Way cool. Ask Tyler, he saw it too.

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

I'm a Long Way from Home

Wish I wasn't like this, but I'm tired and really homesick. I'm training again at IHI in Cambridge and I just can't let go and enjoy myself. I wish to take it all in, explore Boston and engage everyone. But I can't. Truth is this go around feels like a big waste of time and money. I am very grateful for the opportunity to be here and look forward to sharing all that I've learned with my team, but what I'm really looking forward to is being home where I belong. We have this group text going with Suzy, Kayla, Chloe and myself and on it I asked them to send me selfies on my way out. Suzy and Kayla sent these right away.

The next day Chloe sent me this.

This afternoon she sent me this.

I can just picture her gathering the pack for this picture. A lot like hearding cats I image. A selfie would have been easier, but Chloe's a little too cool for selfies these days. Seeing this picture was the bright spot of a long day in the classroom. 

Kayla sent me a few pictures too of the blisters and a bruise she got in the batting cages in MN. She's visiting her grandparents in St. Paul. 

Only one I haven't heard from is Mary. Probably going to be needing to get her a phone too one of these days. 

So lucky to have such a wonderful home to be sick over.

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Sometimes You Must Endure the Pain and Suffer Fools.

Something my dad said to me a long time ago has been ringing in my head recently. It's been a long time since I've heard my dad's voice. He used to ramble on in my head as I played golf and make his pithy comments and sarcastic remarks as I blundered my way through the day. He used to haunt my dreams like a ghost of Christmas past or the catcher in Field of Dreams. But it seems now he has let me go. Or I him. 

I realized the other day I had played a whole round of golf with my daughter and not once did I hear him say in my head, "Hardly worth looking up for! Or Hit it Alice!" Not a single word out of him about my lack of golfer's ettiquite or that I just needed to play my own game and not worry so much about winning. Looking back I see maybe it's because I never looked up and I hit it through the whole on every putt. More importantly I played gentleman's golf, I played my own game and most importantly we had fun. I didn't hear his voice, but I surely felt his pride. He was proud of me. As proud of me as I of my daughter. 

Pride is a sin and being proud isn't easy. But I believe it's a hard earned gift of life. A side effect of hard work and accomplishment.  My dad was a proud man and back in the day it was hard for me to take. I couldn't put many of the things he said in proper context. I just couldn't appreciate his perspective. At times he was so self deprecating and humble. And at other times he would be so bold and confident the world would step aside and defer to his experience.

On one such occasion I was at a low point in my early manhood. I was 18 years old and on my 14th day in a hospital bed. I had just received the good news from my doctor that it looks like I may not loose my leg after all. He, for the first time, sees signs of improvement in our battle against the post surgical staph infection that put me there. He said, "we have a long way to go and I expect you will remain here at least for a few more weeks, but the rest is up to you. You won't be playing baseball this Spring and your football scholarship this Summer is out of the question, but if we keep you on this new IV antibiotic and you work really hard in physical therapy you just might be able to walk out of here sometime next month. Oh, and no more morphine or pain medications, but I will allow Tylenol." He then turned away from me and asked my father if he had any questions. My dad looked right through him and said, "Son, sometimes you must endure the pain and suffer fools."

Did he just call my doctor a fool right to his face? 

If my dad wasn't between him and the door he would've walk out. But he was in the way and at that moment he did one of magic tricks by swelling up to twice his normal size and actually sucking all of the air completely out of the room (or maybe it was all the morphine and other stuff they had been pumping into me for weeks), but, he went on to say, "Nothing is ever out of the question. If you want to play baseball then you are going to play baseball. If you want to play football then you are going to play football. The good doctor just doesn't want you to get your hopes up. At times like these sometimes Hope is all we got. He has no idea what you are capable of doing. I've seen what you can do. I've seen what you have already overcome. If you want it bad enough you will make it happen."

Two and a half weeks later I walked out of Holy Cross Hospital. Three days after that I relief pitched three innings against Gaithersburg and I shut them down. Coach Manual said it was one of the most incredible things he had ever seen. Latter that summer we won two more baseball league championships. Somehow in August I survived summer camp and made the Miami University football team as a tight end and long snapper and claimed my scholarship. This is by no means a happily ever after as I went on to endure a lot of pain and suffer many fools. Or maybe it was I suffered a lot of pain and endured the fools, but either way I think I finally get it now. The fool is the one who thinks he knows it all. The one who shares his opinions so confidently. The guy who knows all the answers. The expert. The guy who knows best.

I've been that guy. I am that guy. But I see it now. I guess what's been rattling around in my head has been more like, "Sometimes you have to endure the pain and suffer yourself!" Maybe now I'll be able to move past this and not just endure the pain, but determine it's root cause and actually make it go away. Maybe I can quit suffering this fool and teach him how to be someone I actually want to hang out with. Maybe If I want it bad enough I can make it happen. 

Thanks DDD. Happy Farhers Day. Miss you.