Happy 46th Second Birthday to Me

 

“Eons” ago, on this very day, I was en route to my 20 kilometers / 12.5 miles distant Community College to attend my Friday broadcasting classes. Wintry precipitation was slightly complicating the flow of 8:45 a.m. rush-hour traffic.

Still harboring those foolish, “I’m invincible and immortal” delusions (like most teens do)… I didn’t deem this minor snowfall worthy of much concern.

Paying far more attention to my FM radio’s rock tunes than to my speedometer, I didn’t realize that the road conditions were deteriorating with each passing minute and mile. My collision with reality occurred upon my arrival at a freeway overpass, where a thin layer of ice had repurposed that bridge into a skating rink.

Starting to fishtail, I panicked and slammed on the brakes. As if that error hadn’t sufficiently complicated matters, there was also the prospect of the sea of oncoming headlights. Worse yet, leading that vehicular “parade” was a massive, take no prisoners, 18-wheeler.

To this very day, I still cannot fully recall the precise details to what turned out to be my “Hail Mary” / last ditch steering maneuver. Indeed, long before I had rattled off, “Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners, now and at the hour of our death. Amen,” something truly astounding occurred. Somehow, someway, I wound up back in my lane. Jumping the curb, I was now neatly “perpendicular parked” between two, closely spaced road signs.

Hell, only a veteran Hollywood stunt driver could’ve pulled that off in one “take”.

As my adrenaline level gradually ebbed, I realized [1] I had totally avoided a fatal head on crash, [2] all the other drivers, in the vicinity, were also totally unscathed and [3] I had emerged with nary a scratch to either my own body or my car’s.

The other motorists, out of consideration (or perhaps out of fear that I’d demonstrate some further boneheaded driving) had all brought their vehicles to a dead halt and were actually patiently waiting for me to shift into reverse to get back onto the highway.

Reentering the morning commute, with my newfound, heightened respect for the slippery conditions, the first song the FM DJ played was the aptly titled, inspirational Carry On Till Tomorrow.

Albeit with frayed nerves, bruised ego and my vehicle’s newly acquired, minor front-end wheel alignment problems, I did make it to my 9 a.m. class… mere minutes late.

Only after class, did the full impact of that morning’s events begin to fully sink in. This had been my first, ever, brush with death. If it hadn’t been dumb luck that had spared my life, who did? Whose hands, just in the nick of time, had guided my own on the steering wheel?

Had I collided my Chevy Nova with that massive gravel hauling truck, at the very least, I’d have come up with a whole new meaning to the phrase, “compact car”. At the very worst…

My tombstone’s date of death would’ve read November 9, 1973.

 

 

 

 

 

A Ghost Story

The following is an abridged version of my 07/11/2016 WordPress post…

Many decades ago, across the breakfast table, my mom handed me a section from our local newspaper… all neatly folded to “frame” an obituary. Said she, “I think he was a college buddy of yours.”

As surreal as it all was, there I was reading the two paragraph, final chapter to my 27-year-young friend’s all too short life. While on a photo shoot assignment up in Canada he had suffered a heart attack. How tough this sadness was to reconcile with my fond, happy memories of our classroom / recording studio days. Though I had wanted to attend his funereal in NYC, my thin wallet meant I’d be paying my respects from afar.

Well… six months passed and, in the days leading up to Halloween, no less, I found myself browsing through a record store’s bins, near mall closing time. So engrossed in reading album liner notes was I, that a familiar, cheerful voice saying, “Hi Tom” had startled me back to the real world… or maybe to the not-so-real-world?

There could be no denying who I had just heard, YET, my logic dictated this could not possibly be happening. Cautiously glancing upward and slowly turning leftward there, right before my very eyes, stood my dead friend! I blurted, “This can’t be! You’re… you’re no longer alive!”

I even entertained the possibility that I had just joined him “on the other side”. Yet, where was that out of body, floating sensation… that brilliant, white light at the end of the long, dark tunnel… so typically reported by many a Near Death Experience (NDE) returnee?

My downward glance readily confirmed my still firmly grounded feet. There were no paramedics trying to jump start my sprawled out on the carpet, lifeless body. No tunnel vision, either. Even the ambient lighting had never exceeded the above, fluorescent fixtures. I could sense the puzzled, still startled look, frozen on my own face.

My friend almost seemed to be reveling in how he was spooking me out. He could not even begin to contain his wide grin and chuckling. Oh, how typical this had been of his brand of humor. And, on this occasion, he still had his peerless sense of comedic timing down pat.

Eventually, he relented and filled in the missing details of his death. Indeed, there had been a heart attack… BUT… the person who’d actually suffered it was the thief who’d stolen his wallet. Since New York driver’s licenses of that era were issued sans photos, the Canadian authorities had only a minimal physical description… so generic it could’ve easily described tens of thousands of men. Additionally, the discovery of their error had occurred too late to “kill” his death notice.

As we parted company that evening, it had been our warm, 98.6º, firm handshake, which, ultimately, had proven that no ghostly apparitions were we!

As I drove home… alternately glancing between the the nearly deserted road ahead and crescent moon breaking through the clouds on the western horizon… I still felt haunted by the lingering aftereffects of my “NDE.”

As for my friend’s “NDE”? In a sense, he got to trick his way out of death and enjoy the treat of reading his own obituary, too.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Backyard Bistro’s Unexpected Patron

 

Yesterday, late afternoon, I ventured outside to tend to my yard work. While basking within Michigan’s sudden return to sunshiny, summery weather, I could not help but admire the three meter by three meter sized patch of lush clover. The question… to mow or not to mow?

By the time I had returned to the “great indoors”, prepared my supper and served it up, I was feeling famished. Prior to sitting down at my dining room table, just as I was about to close the curtains, I spotted a small visitor, nearly hidden by the cloak of descending nightfall… and the tall clover.

Turns out I had an unexpected dinner guest… a rabbit. Based on the way (s)he (<— unisex fur coat so it was hard to tell) was scarfing down this al fresco dinner, (s)he must’ve rated my backyard bistro a five star experience.

I’m so glad that I had left, intact, that entire clover patch.

 

 

 

 

Bridging the Great Divide ~ A Parable

 

Once upon a time, Conrad DeNier found himself debating Libby Learned. Both being nearly lifelong walkers upon the fraying, stretched thin, conservative / liberal tightrope, on that particular, fateful morning, their seemingly eons old War of Words promised to be as relentless and perilous, as ever. After all, neither party was ever willing to cede even one millimeter of ideological territory; NOT when it came down to the prospect of emerging victorious in the battle of the Haves vs. the Have-Nots.

However, this time around, Conrad would trot out his “new” ploy; totally unleash the ever-present spoiled brat, within. He’d hold his breath until Libby totally agreed with him. And so it was. Her closing point made, he first bleated out his counterpoint; next inhaled and puffed out his cheeks. Indeed, so enraged was he that, all the sudden, his heart totally gave out!

While unconscious, Conrad’s entire life flashed before his eyes; he even wound up seeing the light; both cosmically and cognitively speaking. However, as it had all been predestined, this would only be his Near Death Experience.

As the onrush of warmth gradually reanimated his lifeless body; returned him to consciousness, Conrad’s first sensations were of Libby’s relentless CPR. As he squinted through his eyelashes, “The Light” suddenly cross-faded to that of ordinary daylight. Now awash with feelings of utter stupefaction, to him, this had become the proverbial light bulb over the noggin moment.

In spite of their history of fierce animosity, when push came to shove, Libby had done the humane thing; had actually saved his very life! Seeing how she had been willing to set aside her own differences, he could not help but wonder. Could he not do the same? He even began to question the illogical nature of his own ideological selfishness. Why must he always seek more ill-gotten wealth at the expense of the less fortunate? After all, the sheer enormity of what he had already accrued, to date, could even last a spendthrift ten lifetimes.

Funny how it took a deep shade of physiological blue to get him to cede his seething, red hot intransigence; to temper it with a healthy helping of newfound, true blue hued tolerance. Conrad DeNier even wound up seeing Libby Learned in an entirely new light. Indeed, he now deemed his longtime foe a newfound friend.

The multifaceted moral to our story is fundamental…

Peaceful coexistence is vital. Allow selflessness to gain the upper hand. See the light before you see The Light.

 

 

 

 

Practicing What MLK Preached?

I can certainly relate to the story of Memphis Tennessee, High School freshman Michael Todd. As an eons ago public school student, I, too, had been verbally abused by bullies.

However, unlike Todd’s situation, [1] my poverty “fashion statement” was not what had attracted my tormentors’ attention, [2] I wound up cutting so many classes, one school year, that I almost failed to get promoted to the next grade and [3] it took six long years before my story concluded with a not so happily-ever-after outcome… i.e., my emotional / psychological wounds have never really healed, completely. BTW, it’s doubtful that even my tormentors could’ve even begun to explain their “rationale” for bullying me.

But, to return to Memphis…

Todd’s bullies turned benefactors, seniors Kristopher Graham and Antwan Garrett, eventually, were able to tap into their consciences… to the point of apologizing and also donating some clothes to their newfound friend.

Seeing how they attend classes within a building named Martin Luther King Jr. College Preparatory High School, might what happened be akin to a practical application of Dr. King’s message? To be sure, he would’ve approved of Graham and Garrett’s sudden change of heart and good deed… their commitment to end bullying.

 

 

 

 

What are you dreamin’ of?

 

I was lookin’ for love in all the wrong places,
Lookin’ for love in too many faces,
searchin’ their eyes and lookin’ for traces
of what I’m dreamin’ of…

 

THUMBNAIL: The above lyrics form the chorus to the Bob Morrison, Patti Ryan and Wanda Mallette well-penned song, Lookin’ For Love. Recorded back in 1980 by Johnny Lee, this country song became a Billboard chart topper.

True, the lyrics, even when considered in their entirety, do lack a certain depth… but… they do serve well as a starting point to address what really does matter when we’re ISO our life partners.

Granted, even I won’t be giving this topic the word count / depth it is due… mainly to respect your time constraints. So… to Keep It Short / Sweet… let’s start with a little Q ’n’ A…

What am I dreamin’ of?

A woman who harbors love and righteousness in her head, heart and soul. Intellectual curiosity is essential, for the school bell never ceases to ring (for any of us) until the death bell tolls. Industriousness is important, too. And while basic good grooming and the desire to look one’s best are both admirable qualities, as for the latter, we mustn’t strive to meet / exceed Hollywood’s narrow definition of beauty. As for her race / ethnicity / station in life? None of that really matters at all.

Granted, I would have some reservations were she a smoker or over-eater. That’s mainly because she’d be cutting short her own life / our shared life’s journey. Naturally, I’d do my best to patiently help her kick any unhealthy habits.

True, I’ve only scratched the surface… but… I did solemnly vow a post that’d K.I.S.S.

 

 

 

 

The Erudite Man’s Yawn

 

My father died on the operating table on this very day, 1988, yet existed for another six weeks.

Sad story short, he had been in denial of Cancer’s warning signs and waited too long. His surgeon had no sooner begun his procedure when he realized his patient was beyond help. Dad had further complicated matters by intentionally leaving blank his pre-op, advanced directives form. So, that categorized him as Full Code. That meant each and every time a medical crisis arose, he expected his doctors and nurses to engage in hospital heroics… at all costs.

We, his family, had also felt duty bound to honor his (by default) directive. Factoring in our false hopes for a miracle and…

Dad was doomed to lead a worthless, ventilator dependent, pharmacological false life. The final chapter of his life could’ve been titled: My In-Limbo Full Code HELL. Even worse, the ventilator tube did not permit him to speak… not even whisper. Hell, he couldn’t have told us “Enough is Enough”  even had he wanted to.

Albeit briefly, my father did muster a rally. The ventilator now removed, we had hoped to talk to him but… the interaction of the regimen of painkiller drugs and/or his cancer metastasizing to his brain had prevented him from forming any intelligible words. About the only sound that sounded even remotely human was his yawn.

The erudite, college educated educator, who could lecture on higher
Math and all of the Sciences had now been reduced to a mere yawn.

Our hoped and prayed for miracle never came. My father’s indecision, eventually, became my mother’s decision and, within mere hours of her freeing her husband from his Full Code Prison, he took his final breath.

My message…

Don’t ever let this happen to any of your loved ones. Don’t ever let this happen to you.