Sunday, June 21, 2009

My Father had a peculiar way of teaching me things. I have come to call them "Hand Grenade Lessons". He'd pull the pin and toss me a nugget and later, sometimes years later, they would go off. I learned a lot from the old guy, but almost never at the time he tried to teach me. He set the bar very high and until today, left me wondering if I would ever feel the pride of a Dad done good.

My oldest worries me a little. He is forgetful, lackadaisical and can't remember to turn off lights, but he can figure out a video game with complexity of the Rosetta Stone, before the shrink wrap hits the pile of dead laundry on his floor. He does his homework while watching "C.S.I." and hardly ever brings home less than a 3.5 G.P.A.. I still feel a duty as his father, and to my working class Irish heritage, to raise his "dude quotient" to a respectable level. It is imperative that all men with my last name, accumulate tales of unbearable forced child labor, to pass on to their ungrateful sons.

The youngest, his Mom, and I, built a half pipe two years ago. He saved half the money and I put up the other half, plus two more halves, and so it was built. He was a good skater and I wanted to make sure he had the best of everything, that's how I roll. Now my if I had asked my Dad for a half pipe, he would have bought me a hammer and some plans and wished me luck. It was his way of throwing whatever noodle I brought to him (and there were many) up against the wall, before my enthusiasm and his wallet drained. These are the subtle arts you learn after raising six boys and one girl. Home boy had skills. They were lost on me, and I frequently played the misunderstood brat, to his Yoda.

I decided after the oldest over filled the pool twice in one week, that he needed to learn how to pull off a project. I announced that he needed to disassemble the ramp. The remnants needed to be stacked into piles for several other ill planned projects, to further ruin our back yard. We agreed on a price, negotiated a labor agreement between he and the youngest, and I gave them the tools. Now you should know that this kid lets out huge amounts of air when asked to participate in anything other than consuming pizza or my money. He is a world champion procrastinator, and an Olympic eye roller. He and his brother get along about as good as two cats in a sack and they can't agree on anything except their mutual hatred.

Words cannot capture my joy, after waking up at nine, and finding them hard at work, a pile of removed wood, rising in testament to my superior Dadness. They worked till they got hot and then took a swim. They forgot to eat lunch. They laughed and posed for ....wait for it.... A PICTURE! They worked together like brothers, a feat never before seen in this house. I had to let go, stay out of the way and let my boys work it out on their own, it's the hardest thing for me to do. I watched from the window, drank my tea, and beamed with pride. My boys were behaving as I always dreamed they would. My Dad would have loved it, I know I did.

Happy Fathers Day.


Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Closing Time

Taking some time to think. I hope you are here when I get back.


Thursday, June 4, 2009

Doctor Wu

"So why are you here?"

My demeanor didn't give me away. I was shocked. I figured my expression alone would qualify me as a research subject.

"I'm hurting and I want to fix it." I looked at her and waited for a reaction. It probably takes an awful lot to impress her, she is a professional.

She looked right at me, but avoided anything I would consider staring. I wonder if they teach you that in school: Non Invasive Assessment Observation 101. I assumed she was looking for flaws, without giving away the knowledge she was gathering. I sat like a specimen and waited.

"Today we are only going to do a basic evaluation. It may take a long time to get to the root of the pain. It may take even longer to come up with a strategy to correct these issues, after all it took a long time to get here and it will take a long time to improve. With a little work you can improve and hopefully the pain will be reduced too. What would like to accomplish with this therapy?"

"I want to feel good again, like I did before. I want to be strong. I want to prevent this from happening." I said. It feels worse when the words actually come out of your mouth.

"Well it's important for your recovery that you realize it could happen again and that you may not ever get back to how you felt before." She smiled knowingly. She had seen my type. Unrealistic and angry, in dire need of being broken down and built back up with a different skill set. She knows what the patient needs. I suppose it means more when we get there on our own. It must be hard to watch as we build the little castles, when she knows the tide is rising.

"How did all this happen?" she said in an obvious open ended way.

"Years of abuse, bad habits, and a few accidents. I never really considered being forty six. I was always going from one fiasco to the next. I never took the easy road to anything, and now I am broken. I'll do what you tell me."

"Good. There will be times this is going to hurt, but I promise, it will get easier." She sounded confident. I wondered if there was ever a cool way to be weak in front of a woman. If there was I hadn't found it. I fidgeted like a child, aware of my every mannerism.

"Lets do some exercises and see how you react." She made me do ridicules things. Some hurt, some seemed silly, some were hard to replicate. I did them all, and slumped when it was over. I let out an airy sigh.

"I want you to do these exercises and I will see you next week." She punctuated the sentence, and I knew it was time to leave. Like a robot I stood up, thanked her, and walked towards the receptionist. More appointments. Something else to remember. One more thing I don't want to do. One more reminder, I am not who I once was. Time to make another bargain.

Sooner or later we all find out we can't do the same things forever. Repetition Stress Disorder: doing the same thing over and over until it causes injuries. We either change or continue to fail. Either way it hurts.