Friday, August 30, 2013

Living the dream...

I had good parents who really did their best to raise productive citizens.  My biggest influence was my Pop.  He was the 8th of 10 kids in a working-class Northern Kentucky family.

My paternal grandparents were very "live and let live" sorts who I never heard express any strong opinions about anything except working hard...well, and being quiet when grandpa was watching TV.

From very early on, though,  I remember my Pop making a point of teaching us to take people as they come and not to be fooled by how someone appears, but rather decide what kind of person someone was based on how they behaved and the choices they made.

Race was never even mentioned in our home -- except by my mother's mother and my father quickly made it clear that racism and racist statements were wrong.

  The whole of my early life, my Pop attempted to put Dr. King's dream into effect by teaching his own children to judge people only on the content of their character.

Now, don't assume that this means I was unaware that there was racism.  Of course, I saw things on TV and, sadly, in my own town that proved to me that there were people who would mistreat people of color only because they were people of color.  But, these were the "bad guys" and it seemed to me that there were far fewer of them than there were "good guys".  Good guys took people as they were and would only dislike you if you were dishonest or mean.

So, imagine my sadness and confusion when I grew up and realized that wasn't how the world actually functioned.  Suddenly, as an adult, I realized that there were those who assumed I was racist simply because I was white.  I had no hope of proving anyone wrong who made that assumption, because they weren't interested in hearing differently. 

Thankfully, as I've grown older, I've come to the conclusion that taking each individual human being as they themselves are is still the only way I can live.  I would have missed out on many fulfilling friendships in life if I hadn't held on to that precept. 

But, I remain disheartened and sometimes downright angry that this country has been so torn apart by racial hatred and that the worst perpetrators of racial hatred are those who profess to seek an end to racism.

However, the anniversary of my Pop's death is also the anniversary of Dr. King's famous speech and it just brought it all full circle for me.

I will continue to live my life as someone who would make Pop proud, and so I will continue to do my part to see Dr. King's dream fulfilled.

Sunday, August 25, 2013, where was I?

Oh right!  Stretch came to play!

This pic was taken at a local watering hole near a beautiful bit of actual water, at sunset.  This view is from a bar that is directly behind my current place of work.  It is a piece of magic.  And staff in my ER get a discount.  It' pretty sweet.

Stretch was here for several days, that flew by like a minute.  We mostly chilled, although there was lunch at another waterfront restaurant that we both love, some serious goofing off including Rickaritas and skinny-dipping, and tending to Stretch's knee, which has a boo-boo.

But, we both also shed a few tears.  I miss Pop and having Stretch here was definitely reminiscent of that summer.  And, she misses her baby girl AngelHeart.  There were hugs all around. 

Since Stretch was here, and she is pretty finicky about eating healthy, it has sort of rubbed off.  I'm on a good kick of actually managing to eat right AND work out regularly.

I've been keeping up with my run schedule (have a half marathon in the Burque in October) and strictly cooking at home and packing lunches and snacks for work.

I've also been working up a couple of more politically/socially bent blog posts that will soon be forthcoming.

Right now?  I am lounging on the NurseBananaHammock with a beer and a couple of puppies and listening to the cicadas and generally enjoying life.

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

It does get better, eventually

Pop nearly visible, AA's bruises definitely visible
The Auburn Amazon is headed home.  Just dropped her at the airport.  We did imbibe here and there, but rather than the raucous, party-like-rockstars get together we imagined, it ended up being a pretty mellow, relaxing visit.

She was thoroughly exhausted from having to defend her Master's thesis, then pack up and move a couple states west and then make her way here for a conference in my state a couple hours away.  So, by the time I picked her up, she was beat.  And, I'm emotionally a bit fragile right now so wasn't truly in party mode (though I tried to be). 

So, we took it very easy, she got to see some local sights, I kicked her ass at mini-golf (don't judge, it's fun!  No matter WHAT Stretch says), I made my own take on the famous Rickaritas and we kicked back here in my digs for one night before heading south a smidge.  There, we had lunch at a great restaurant and had a pitcher o'mojitos, then lounged poolside (where, AA tried to get some color other than the black and blue she's sporting from moving) then enjoyed a very laid back sunset booze cruise, watched dolphins and laughed at a group of seasoned citizens as they got toasted, moved about in what we believe was supposed to be dancing and took side bets on who would break a hip. 

This morning, we both woke and had a very nice breakfast and then picked up my pups from the kennel and wandered around my Preserve for a bit, taking a few pics and trying not to die from heat exhaustion before returning to my digs where I attempted to introduce her to some fine 90s TV shows (NYPD Blue and the Sopranos).  Having been in grade school in the early 90s, I don't think AA truly appreciated either, but she did a good job of humoring me.

In the midst of all the fun, I fairly successfully avoided moping about and missing Pop.  Working a lot of shifts coming up, then Stretch will be here and I will be reminded that one can move on from loss.  Stretch lost a child.  I can't imagine anything worse than that.  And yet, she soldiers on and lives.  And she does it well.  And, so, I will endeavor to do.  I can miss Pop and remember him, I don't have to hold on to the pain the way I have.  It doesn't minimize the place he held in my life or the impact he had in the world to continue to live my life as best I can. 

In fact, I honor him by living the best life I can.  

On the day of his funeral, now 3 years ago, I ran the Canes Classic 5k.  Because of travel assignments, I haven't been able to run it the last 2 years.  But, I signed up for it today.  I'll run it thinking of him.

Friday, August 2, 2013 was August

You have to imagine that title being voiced by the Rickster doing his best (which is awful) Jacques Cousteau impression.  It's been his go to sentence when imitating the French explorer for as long as I've known him.  First time he did it, we were canoeing along the Little Manatee River, nearly 20 years ago.  And it's always brought a smile to my face.

Still does, but it's a bittersweet little smile now because August has become a month I rather dread.

Pop's birthday is August 5, and while I will always cherish that last birthday that I tried so hard to make special (not really knowing, but feeling that it would be the last) it was the last.  Only a few weeks later, he went into the hospital for his radical neck dissection (thyroid cancer) and while he came through that surgery like a champ and went home in 4 days, it was only for long enough to get his wish -- to die at home. 

So, I was alone, the Rickster tending to our house in NM while I worked and tried to hang on to normalcy while feeling that everything had just broken in me.

Thankfully, that summer my good friend, Stretch, came to stay with me for a few days just after Pop's funeral.  It was sanity for me. 

Now, while I am temporarily Rickster-less for the summer again, the Auburn Amazon is coming for a visit tomorrow.  Both Stretch and the Amazon are amazing friends whom I originally met through an online chat group on a weight loss website.  Over the years many of the folks in that group have met in real life and become a very large support network, and a smaller group of them have become good friends, and even smaller group the very best of friends.The first example of the amazing support of that group was actually put together by the Amazon.  She called it "Project Hand" and had a bunch of the folks in the group make decorative hands as a symbol that I had a hand to hold onto.  It meant so much. Still does.  I'll be talking more about these women later. 

Stretch, who has become one of my very closest friends -- ever -- is also slated for a return visit in a couple weeks and I imagine she'll provide a now very lean and well-muscled shoulder for me to cry on while I miss the hell out of my Pop.