A life worth writing about.

/ / Written a few weeks ago, at home, during a longer than usual stay in Des Moines. / /

There are tidbits from my childhood that pop back into my head from time to time when they are needed. Moments in time that really seem to never fade. Like a perfect snapshot. I’m sure you have those too.

One of those snapshots is a conversation I had with my father.

Sometime in the early days when my father was diagnosed with Parkinson’s and things started to change significantly at home I had a really odd little conversation with him. As a doctor, he was forced into early retirement. As a husband his role shifted greatly. As a father I’m not sure he knew what to do with himself during that time.

He spent most of his time at work or outside and then all of a sudden he was always around. His presence was largely transient until the word Parkinson’s came into all of our lives. 

I don’t say that as a negative. Steve got a medical degree, started a practice, bought 100 acres of farmland, and built his own mini golf course in a field while raising a family. My parents knew how to hustle and they did it daily without complaint. I grew up in a household where the only reason to talk about problems was so that you could survey other opinions to determine the correct course of action toward the solution.

Shit got done. Plane and simple.

Every once in a while my father would give me insights into his world. During the time when things were shifting around he was explaining to us what Parkinsons was and what it meant for him and our family… I had this paradoxical moment where I perceived this disease as an end to who he was as I tried to understand it.

My brain started filing events and feelings into pre-Parkinsons and post-Parkinsons. I remember consciously doing this but not understanding how it all fit together.

I knew that as a doctor this meant he couldn’t work. I knew that as a man, it meant his role in our family would change. I knew that as a father, our relationship biologically would never change but mentally/emotionally/socially it would. All of those things obviously happened.

I tried to reconcile this in my head but was never really very successful with it as a kid.

Being the idiot I was, I tried to figure out how to ask him about it. Eventually I did. Much like any idea that comes into my head. It only stays there for so long.

The question I asked him is a bit fuzzy. Likely due the fact that I couldn’t figure out how to articulate what I was trying to say and the delivery was likely some jumbled mess. The question was something like:

How do you know you didn’t waste your life? There has to be things you wish you would have done or wouldn’t have done prior to all this happening to you.

His answer. Isn’t fuzzy. I don’t remember him looking at me when he said it. Almost as if the answer didn’t warrant it. As if it was so obvious to him at the time that it didn’t warrant more energy than releasing the words required.

While my question was very much directed at him. His answer was very directed at me.

You can’t predict the future, Ben. If someone wrote a book about your life, and that book was interesting, and you are proud of what they wrote in that book… You probably didn’t waste your time here.

At the time I remember thinking. Ok, that makes sense. I can run with that.

I’m sure the timing of the question had a lot to do with the answer. To this day I can’t imagine the meandering thoughts in a doctor’s head who was told he wasn’t allowed to use his hands anymore. I’m sure his answer had a lot to do with him coming to terms with the hand he’d been dealt. Nonetheless, He still offered up a golden nugget.

It has always stayed with me. Much like his way of defining the difference between a democrat and a republican and the time he gave me stitches on my ass in the living room because I was too embarrassed to go the hospital… But that’s a story for another day.

Like many of you… I had a pretty shitty week. At around 4PM on Friday I felt like a solid 1.5. That is, if life was measured on a scale of 1 to 10.

While the miniature details of my week are irrelevant to this posting, the general agitation of various things put me in a really odd place. Over the last 24 hours I haven’t really felt normal at all and I’ve been aware of it the entire time.

After a fairly brutal week, I (probably, like many of you) started wondering if I was just wasting my time with a few things. I woke up this morning wondering why I decided that boot at Hessen was a good idea and how to shift today into something better. Then this conversation came back into my head.

After a bit of writing I’m pretty much ready to go kick ass again.

It put me in a better place and I wish I would have had this self discovery yesterday morning. So I give it to you, hoping it’ll put any bad day you might have into context and get you back on the right track.

Now if only my air conditioning started to magically work again. I’d be back at a 10.

Hey Steve,

Thank you.

/ / Since writing this. My air conditioning did start working and life got back to a 10. 😉 / /