Thanksgiving . . .

Today, in the USA, is the day we designate as Thanksgiving. It is a day to give thanks for all of the blessings that we have in our lives.

At the top of my list is, of course, my wife and the home we share. I can’t imagine who I would be without her in my life. After 23 years together, everything good about my life boils down to what she adds to it.

There are others that I’m also thankful for – most of all those who are part of my life because they choose to be. I’ve often heard it said that there are two kinds of family, those you are born to and those who choose to stand with you. The next three ladies I’m going to specifically mention have chosen to stand with me, even though they have often had reasons to step away. Because they are all special, I’m just going to list them in the order I met them.

Which means, the very first is Christie. She was the first childhood memory I have outside of my biological family. My parents bought the house next door to her family in 1967, and she was not only my neighbor but a classmate. When others picked on me or belittled my small stature, she was always kind and encouraging. Even after 55 years, she still stays in touch with me, and I know I’m not always the easiest person to talk to. So, thank you. If there is ever anything you need me for, you can count on me to do everything in my power to be there for you.

The next person is the first ex-Scientologist I made friends with after my wife and I chose to leave that organization. Despite the fact that she came from a very successful family and was a respected artist in her own right, she has always related to me like an equal. Eibhlin, even though we’ve never met face-to-face, you are as much a sister to me as any of my biological siblings. Thank you.

Finally, but by no means least, is Anita. The first time we met, your grace and poise impressed me. Nothing ever seemed to fluster you. For 3 weeks you shared your home with me while your husband Les helped me confirm something about myself we were all fairly certain was true. While I’m no where near the artist that Eibhlin is, you were grateful for a pencil sketch I did of the view I could see through your windows. Since then, you’ve always been a rock that I could share nearly any concern with. You are the older sister I never had, and I’m always going to be thankful that you’re part of my life.

So, for the 60th Thanksgiving of my life, what I’m most grateful for is family – mostly those who didn’t have to be my family but have made the choice to stand with me anyway. Happy Thanksgiving to you all.

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Suitable weather this weekend . . .

For the last 15 years, my wife and I have shared our home with two cats. The first one we got actually seemed to be choosing us. He was jet black, and at 6 weeks old he walked right up to my left leg, looked up at me, and let out a meow that I swear sounded like “get me the hell out of here NOW.” Of course, we had to wait another 2 weeks for him to be old enough to adopt, but he remembered us, and came running as soon as we arrived to pick him up.

Within a month, we realized that he was lonely for the company of another cat, but we didn’t understand the dynamics of feline prides (family units) well enough to prevent a mistake we made. The second cat we adopted was 1-2 weeks older than the first one, from a different mother and litter, and was also a girl. They were usually civil to each other, but Morgaine (the girl) never fully accepted Merlin as her brother.

Without any actual dates for when either cat was born, we just kept track of their ages by remembering that we picked up Merlin (the male) on Halloween.

Several weeks ago, Morgaine started having behavior trouble – making messes on the living room carpet instead of a litter box that hadn’t moved in 12 years. She also wasn’t grooming herself, and was spending large amounts of time hiding from everyone. We became worried enough that we decided she needed to see a veterinarian. Her appointment was yesterday morning.

You know how in Hollywood shows, whenever there is a funeral scene it’s usually raining? It’s been raining here off-and-on since Friday.

The news from the veterinarian was upsetting. Morgaine had developed diabetes, kidney disease, and had open wounds on her glands around the base of her tail. It would be expensive to treat these issues, and because of the kidney disease would only buy her another year, or two. After a lot of soul searching, we decided the kindest thing we could do for her was to let her go. It was about as far from easy as you can get. One of our fur babies has passed away.

Happy Anniversary to my beloved wife . . .

Today my wife and I celebrate 22 years of marriage. Yes, we’ve had our trials, and hardships, but together we’ve seen each other as partners and friends. We’ve endured through my wife having an emergency appendectomy, endometriosis, Lupron treatments, and numerous nutritional allergies. We’ve also endured through my hospitalization for a stress-induced heart attack, migraines, arthritis, and eventual weight gain that seems non-reversible.

However, I feel that I can’t fully celebrate today without fully disclosing how we got here. You see, my mother knew my wife before I did. When I asked mom about her, mom’s answer was, “Stay away from her. I’ve put too much work into getting her to join the church for you to ruin it.”

My mother and my wife both worked for the same small town community college when I became a piece of the puzzle. I wasn’t even looking for a new girlfriend – my last girlfriend had become my fiance’ just before dumping me for another man after I caught her cheating on me. I was open to making new friends, but had huge guards up against starting new relationships. So, imagine my surprise when she kissed me as I left her home after avoiding one of my mom’s Super Bowl parties.

There is more that I should share about the relationship between my mother and myself. It literally goes all the way back to my first girlfriend. Every relationship that I’ve had with a girl where my mom became acquainted with her ended with my mother deliberately destroying the relationship by any excuse she could manufacture. One girl was from the wrong side of the tracks (never mind that in our own home town my family was also from the wrong side of the tracks). Another girl was the daughter of my mother’s high school rival, and my mother had never learned to bury the hatchet – unless she was literally burying it in someones back. Over the years, I began to suspect that my mom either didn’t consider me worthy of them, or she didn’t want to ever see me happy.

And now we come to the point where I recently tried to repair my broken relationship with mom. In only the second phone conversation I had with her, mom asked me if my wife and I were still together. Please remember – my mother spent about 30 years as the wife of a minister of a Christian church, after getting the divorce from my dad that she so desperately wanted. Most Christians would applaud a long, stable, happy relationship. But, in only our second phone conversation, my mom asked me if my wife and I were still together. When I told her we were, her reply was, “Oh, that’s too bad.” I knew right away that this spelled the doom of our reconciliation, but I gave it another two months just to be sure.

When I told my wife about that conversation, my wife’s reply was, “That BITCH!” My wife knows everything about the history between me and my mother, particularly since she met me.

As much as I love my wife, and wouldn’t trade our relationship for anything, I feel that I owe all of my former girlfriends an apology. None of them deserved to be treated the way that my mother treated them. Each and every one of them still holds a special place in my heart.

Communicating final decisions . . .

I’ve written several times in the past about the importance of making an Advanced Directive or a Living Will, or both, for the purpose of controlling your last life decisions. Ever since the USA case of Teri Schiavo, (my apologies if I misspelled her name) it has been obvious that clearly communicating your plan for the end of your life is of paramount importance.

I already have a legally binding Living Will, and another legally binding Advanced Directive. But, I’m choosing to take the entire matter one step farther. I’m getting a tattoo in the center of my chest that will read “NHM – see medical alert bracelet”. The medical alert bracelet has digital copies of both the Living Will and the Advanced Directive on a flash drive contained within it, and the NHM stands for “No Heroic Measures”. As far as I can tell, this is the final step in making absolutely certain that ALL first responders will know exactly what my wishes are.

The whole point of this is to prevent the first responders (EMT’s, paramedics, Law Enforcement personnel, and other people who might initiate life-saving actions) from taking actions that may result in bankrupting my wife if I’m involved in a catastrophic event of any kind.

Yes, I want to live – but not so much that I want to live with the assistance of expensive equipment that can’t guarantee my chance of recovery. My wife’s future is more important than my survival.

False Advertising . . .

Lately I’ve been watching a lot of shows on a Playstation app called tubi. There is one advertiser on tubi that I have a very hard time watching commercials for.

The name of the advertiser is ” eHarmony ” and the reason I have trouble watching their ads is that they claim to “get to know you better, to match you better.”

From actual experience it isn’t true. My first wife turned to eHarmony to meet her 2nd husband. Since I am still friends with my first wife, and we have a daughter together, I knew her while she was married to her 2nd husband.

He was a major, abusive, bastard. He physically abused my first wife, and emotionally abused our daughter. If he is an example of getting “to know you better, to match you better” then NOBODY should ever use eHarmony to search for love.

Personal Integrity… update

Last week I posted a blog where I questioned what the difference was between personal integrity and trying to get along with my family when I knew things they wouldn’t or couldn’t acknowledge. I continued to question that for several days after posting that blog.

Last Friday evening I had a light-bulb moment, which was quickly confirmed by an email I found that Anita had sent shortly after my blog posted.

Basically, there isn’t just one truth. There are different truths for every person walking the planet. Personal integrity is all about YOU remaining true to your own view of the truth. But, it does not mean that everyone else isn’t also doing their own best to do the same thing – remaining true to THEIR own view of the truth. Every person on the planet wants nothing more than to be right – which is why peer pressure is such an effective means of social control. How many times in your life have you done something you thought was crazy or silly just because “everyone else is doing it”?

Where we venture into the realm of social peace and global stability is when we acknowledge these truths and grant others their own point of view without trying to force ours on them. We can all be right, even when we disagree.