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surprise!

I don’t wanna know it when I die. I just wanna come home from a long day at work, open the door, drop my briefcase for the last time and suddenly everyone I ever loved jumps out from behind the sofa and yells “Surprise!” and all my old dogs run up and lick me like it’s been ME who’s been gone so long.

Some people.

Some people don’t know when to stop.They offer without an ask, buy before a need, don’t give or take no for an answer and expect nothing in return. The world’s not their oyster, but rather their responsibility. Their gifts arrive on more than just holidays, life is their prize and they consider every morning a personal canvas for the fine art of being human. They create masterpieces in secret for needy people they’ve never even met and surprise unsuspecting strangers from the bottoms of benevolent hearts. They neither demand nor expect the same for themselves and live by intuition, conscience, faith and opportunity. Their deeds are often mistaken for angels and tiny pieces of heaven on earth, which of course, they are. They know no different and don’t know when to stop because indeed, this is what they were wonderfully made to do. And someday. when you meet one, they will either change your life forever or inspire you to follow. LifeMeansSoMuch.com

4th of July.

There’s a lot of angry, fed up people in this world. Here at home and across global ponds, everyone wants change; half one way, half the other, half for economic reasons, half for moral reasons, half for certain rights, half to convict wrongdoings. Remarkably all profess a desire for unity, but only when that unification embraces their own cause at the expense of another’s.
In this early morning calm, I consider the world landscape and how this ideal of “unity in diversity” unravels a little more each day and it’s more than just a little eerie.
The ways of today’s world are far too complex for single issues which arguably do more to divide than unite. No one faction alone can achieve the one ideal all profess as their goal.
Our frustrated responses have become searches for simplicities where available, comforts where reliable and escapes where attainable, all within ever tighter communities which increasingly exclude views of others across their fences. Our solutions have become our problems, our chasms widen and our potential for true unity narrows as we dodge the bloody traps laid by the media and the powerful.
It’s now simpler to stage and post half-truth memes which underpin the basics of our convictions than to attempt to enfold some of the complex truths of others. “Tell me how to think” has taken a front seat to thinking itself because too much pride is at risk for being wrong on some valid points made by the other side.
So we remain angry and fed up for all the wrong reasons and nothing changes, because nothing within any of us changes. Yet without us, nothing will ever change.

I for one don’t have the answer, the we–the one for all–still does if we want it bad enough and we remember that in America—at least on paper—“We, the people” are the leaders still equipped to defeat the divisive anger which polarizes rather than unifies this nation.

So Happy Birthday America. May our many different candles burn bright with passion but not set fire to the entire cake.

stories.

When asked why I write stories about old people I tell them it’s because in the end, everyone needs to know their life mattered for something, if only somewhere on a page for someone to read. When no one takes time to ask, our elders’ stories die untold, unwritten, unread and presumed unimportant. Hundreds of undiscovered stories are buried alive every day and to me, that’s the most tragic story of all.

America’s problem.

I think America’s problem might just be laziness after all. Our most important issues are complex, requiring time, careful navigation and critical thinking to arrive at the best solutions. But the lazy among us retire that process prematurely. They settle on narratives and emotionally laden hashtags to summarize their incompletely formed conclusions in hopes that enough likes will make them true.

They’re satisfied with never having completed the effort to arrive at the greater good through intentional and empathetic listening to the opposition for a truly informed decision.

America’s problems aren’t solved the lazy way, but the hard way: together, versus the coward’s way: alone.

a keeper.

My boss is the kind you wish for. Runs you ragged, expects more than you realize you can give, shows passion in even the smallest of pursuits, and plants rewards along the path to make you more hungry for the pain and heartache of being a servant. Not for their own benefit but for those desperately needing the someone you’re becoming.

passing.

When a parent dies, I believe God passes their souls directly through their children en route to heaven making that exact moment the one that hurts the most, hugs the closest, and instantly enlightens sons and daughters to the things of life that matter most long before our turn arrives.

a day closer.

Each morning I give my pup a little kiss and tell him to be a good boy as I close the door and turn the key. And each time, the same thought comes over me: I’m another day closer to the one I won’t return from, reminded that every act, gesture and moment with loved ones needs to mean a whole lot more today than it did even yesterday.

sometimes a tow truck needs a tow truck.

[Because some of life’s circumstances are meant to be unforgettable, no matter how hard you try.]

The 2am text hit my phone like a tow truck without a conscience.

It had been many sober years since his name popped up on my phone alongside the memories of that dark night when I almost lost my best friend.
“Can you call me?”

Some replies can wait until morning. I could tell this wasn’t one of them.

Two years into my sobriety five years back, this man saved two lives, one of which was mine.

Enough clean time under my belt to have known better that night, I let my new puppy, Butch, run into the street, only to get plowed by a tow truck, left spinning on the asphalt in pain from a broken leg. Not having the $1,500 to get him medical attention, an angel named Peter stepped in with a credit card at the last moment to foot a bill I have never repaid.
He’d insisted it was a gift from a fellow dog lover and we both were in a fury over the tow truck driver who’d fled the scene. My dog recovered, but apparently, Peter has not.

I phoned him.
He’d taken medical leave from work last winter and through a series of insurance foibles, he was forced to use the last of his savings over the past six months to keep himself alive. Now on public assistance and fighting insurance companies and for his life, he needed someone, and stat.

For those who follow me, it’s widely known my dog and I are an inseparable team. Now nearly five years old, he’s a Facebook celebrity and brings more joy to me than a life of drugs ever promised without delivering. The only reason he’s still here is because of an angel named Peter who now needs a tow truck.
We talked of the dominoes of his life which had fallen in rapid succession, bringing him to reluctantly call on those who he thought might be able to help in his own time of need. And as these stories often go, apparently, I’m the only one who returned his call.

I don’t make much in the non-profit world. I suppose that’s why it’s called non-profit. But I pay my rent and utilities and eat and love my dog and never forget visits from angels.

“I have never forgotten what you did for me and Butch, Peter, and despite how long it’s been, I also won’t be one of those people who don’t answer your call.”
Out of shame for asking, he cried on the phone and explained he wasn’t looking to be repaid. He’d forgiven the debt long ago and gently refused my offer four years back when we last talked. He said he called me because I’d always seemed different from everyone else, even during the days I was awash in drugs and lost in addiction.

We’re meeting this week and I will be giving him weekly assistance from my checking account to help him get back on his feet. And in my line of work, I can now offer him so much more than money to fish him out of the mess and stop the domino effect that has brought this angel down.

I came home and held my best friend on my lap, looking down at the scar on his hind leg from that once dark night. He glanced up at me, turned, and licked the scar as if to remind me that sometimes a tow truck needs a tow truck.

a clean exit.

Maybe it’s because I’m older and wiser, but I’ve noticed that the things which now bring me to tears are fewer the everyday instances of hurt, pain and sadness, but more the unexpected moments of joy, reconciliations and serendipity. Maybe as we advance in years and become more numbed to experiences of tragedy we become more easily moved to tears by the sudden simple beauties that were always before us but appeared at an untimely early age when we still believed the world owed us more.All I know is the less time I have left here the more important I find it is to plan a clean exit on a high note.This small epiphany and the wrinkles are how I know for certain that I’ve finally grown up.