Saturday, May 21, 2016

A Legacy In Spite of it All

I’ve whined about this before so let’s continue the whine.  I wish that my grandchildren were able to really get to know Marty, the way Marty was, the energy that was Marty before the strokes.  I wish it for me, I wish it for them, I wish it for our kids, I wish it for Marty.

Alas, wishes like these don’t really come true, sort of.

Our daughter Erin posted the following conversation with her daughter Lily on her face book page:
Me: What did you have for snack today?
Lily: The Snack Fairy brought us red and yellow goldfish. I know the Snack Fairy isn’t real. It’s really Miss Morton. Some kids think she is real though…
Me: Well that’s cool. They can believe whatever they want and I bet it makes them super happy to believe that. So…don’t argue with them about it.
Lily: No…
Me: Why not? Are they hurting anyone if they believe in the Snack Fairy?
Lily: No…I just don’t like it.
Me: Hmmm… Remember how we believe in Jesus and God?
Lily: Yes…they are REALLY real.
Me: Well…yes, but some people don’t believe they are…Some people believe in something else completely different than us. Are we hurting anyone else by believing in God and Jesus?
Lily: No!
Me: Do we have to change what we believe just because someone else doesn’t feel the same way?
Lily: No…
Me: Exactly. It’s not a matter of being right or wrong. It’s about respecting other people. So…as long as we aren’t hurting anyone with what we believe, we can believe whatever we want and other people can too! And guess what?! We can all still be friends. So….if tomorrow a friend at school says, “I know the Snack Fairy is REAL…” You can say, “Hey that’s super cool!” And leave it at that…Got it kid?
Lily: Got it Mom…
This interaction is so Erin, it is so Marty.  In a simple conversation tolerance, love, acceptance, understanding is taught and modeled in a way Lily will always remember.

I see it a lot, I see it in both of our children, I see the mother Marty in the mother Erin, I see the mother Marty in the father Matt, our son, I see so much of Marty in our children and it makes my heart smile.

I too often have worried, will our kids remember the lessons and the life of the real Marty, will their children ever know the fun that was Marty, the crazy that was Marty, the passion, the love, the fire that was Marty. 

The fact is the children of our children will never get to see and feel what was.  I worry, I mourn.
And then I see our kids with their kids, I see Marty; I see her wit and wisdom and passion living through Matt and Erin.

I suspect it’s what all of us want.  We want our good stuff to live on, we want the good stuff that made us who we are carried on by our off spring, it’s positively instinctual.  It makes me feel like a real father, I know it makes Marty feel like a human being again, to see our DNA, our life carried on in the people we raised.

I am in love with and proud of my wife.  I am amazed at who she is today, I am forever grateful to the woman she was and I often long for the person she was before life changed.  That memory and love for Marty, at times, makes me sad for the losses we have all endured and that sadness is magnified at those times when I think our grandchildren will never know what was lost.

And then I watch our children and realize how they carry their mother with them, always. 

That sadness never goes away, that sadness is mollified when I see our children carrying Marty with them.

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Choosing Best Among the Worst

With apologies to Mrs. C Hall, my high school English teacher, this first paragraph is not really a summary of the body of this essay, I promise, I’m not taking you on a political ride.

I hear a whole lot of people expressing disappointment in our choices for President of the USA this cycle.  In all likelihood we will have to choose between Hillary Clinton and Donald Drumpf, oh my bad, Trump.  Most everyone I know does not like our choices.

 It’s kind of like going to a restaurant and only getting to order liver or sweet breads, most don’t want either.  The good thing is we don’t have to go to restaurants like that; we get to make other choices because we have alternatives, in politics, in life, at times, good choices don’t happen, sometimes only hard choice happen, hard choices that absolutely require you select one of the bad choices.

Marty and I, like all of you, sometimes get to choose between hitting our thumb with a hammer, or the other choice, hitting our thumb with a hammer, harder.  That’s life, sometimes our choices simply suck and either way you turn your thumb is going to hurt.

As a young white male growing up in middle class America I have to admit, I was a bit shocked when I discovered that all of our choices weren’t good choices.  I was surprised to learn that sometimes you have to pick things that you don’t particularly like. 

And to top it off, in too many cases, not choosing is not an alternative.  Not voting, not choosing between two candidates you don’t particularly like means you don’t participate in one of the most important acts of a citizen.  Sometimes you just have to suck it up and act, as one of my really smart bosses once told me, “Grieve and get over it,” and then make a choice.

About five years ago while in the hospital for a routine infection  Marty had a bad seizure and broke her right arm, her good strong right arm, the arm not affected by the stroke, the arm she used for everything from support when standing to eating to drinking, you know, little things like that.  We sat in the hospital with two choices, surgery to repair the shattered bone or do nothing and let the arm heel with some level of disability in that arm.  Both choices were real clear, both choices sucked big time.

I, we, talked to each other, we talked to Great and Wise and the Orthopedic guy, we talked to our kids, we talked to friends, we did pros and cons, we thought, we mulled, we cogitated, there were no good choices, none.  It seemed wrong to make the intentional decision to NOT heal a broken wing.  It was frightening to think we would decide to have Marty undergo surgery and all of the associated risks for an unknown result.

We sucked it up and made the decision to not do anything, it wasn’t the best choice, there wasn’t a best choice, it was pick one and live with it, “Grieve and get over it.”

Did we make the correct choice?  I don’t know.   Marty’s life was not jeopardized by anesthesia and invasive surgery, she did not have to go through the pain of recovery and she did not face possible deadly infections.  She does have to endure somewhat limited movement in her arm.  That was the choice; it’s the choice we made, it was a choice she lives with daily.  That’s how life works some times.

We, all of us, are consistently confronted with choices, some good, some bad, some really awful.  Sometimes, like a Hobson's choice, we don’t really get a choice; we have to pick the only real option open to us.  It really is indicative of life, sometimes it all amounts to making the best of what is.
I don’t particularly like the choice between Clinton and Drumpf.  I know who I think is the best qualified of the two and I know who I will probably support.  I won’t tell you who that is but I think, if we can get past some of her baggage she will be fine. 

Marty is not where she is today because anyone would choose her life, but rest assured she is here because she, we made a conscious choice to live the best life she, we could given the options.  Life is not about easy choices or even good choices, but it is about choosing.