Learning How To Build A Better Boat

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Me and Cole circa 2005

A few days ago I finished writing about my aortic valve replacement surgery. For those who have read all the episodes and followed me through the approximately three months that led up to my December 17th open heart surgery, you may have figured out that it was the single biggest life changing event that I have ever had to deal with, both physically and emotionally! Even that is a gross understatement, to say the least!

For those of you that may not have read the seven part story that I have posted up on this website, you may want to spend a few minutes to check it out!

This morning I took time to re-read my work on the multi episodes involving my aortic valve replacement surgery. By doing so those posts triggered some new and different emotions within yours truly!

After further review, and much more contemplation, I have come to realize that my perspectives on many things have changed dramatically since December 17, 2019.

Over the last five years leading up to my open heart surgery, I was spending more and more time alone, for reasons that I will not delve into for this post. I wasn’t lonely, but I really didn’t mind being alone. More time than I would like to, but I was ok with staying home.

I have my brother and sister-in-law living just a couple of blocks away, but generally I spent most of my time by myself. For the four months of June-October I would spend the that traveling from Yuma up to Fresno, Sonoma, Coos Bay Oregon, back to Santa Rosa, over to Chico, to Las Vegas, and then back to Yuma caravanning with them in our motorhomes. I did that from 2011-2019 and had a fantastic time with family and friends.

The summer of 2019 kind of was a watermark summer. That is when I knew that I would be having my aortic valve replaced come the Fall. That summer was a time for me to begin my internal investigation of not what I was, but who I am!

Those two concepts, what I am and who I am, are totally different concepts and require a much different personal investigation. For most of my first 60 years I was really more focused on what I was. I spent most of my time focused my airline career and pursuing the almighty dollar bills. That is until May 16, 2010. On that evening an event occurred that would define my life up to at least this writing. After level off at 36,000 feet on my JFK-LAX leg back to my domicile my world lit up……..literally. My windshield caught on fire! The fire was within 36 inches of my face. Stick you arm out in front of you and at the tip of your index fire was a raging inferno! If you will follow the above link you will read my detailed accounting of that evening’s nightmare!

From that flight on May 16, 2010, until my surgery on December 17, 2019, there was a moving target in the medical crosshairs and that moving target was my heart!

As I have chronicled in my seven part series leading up to my aortic valve replacement surgery, it was, to use an ol Paul McCartney song title, “a long and winding road”!

Over the last four months recovering from open heart surgery, which has gone extremely well so far, I have had time to think about many things. There has been some subtle as well as some not so subtle things change with my persona.

I have always been a somewhat emotional guy, in that I have always worn my heart on my sleeve. I could get my feelings hurt easily, but I would not necessarily let you know that. I was somewhat stubborn when it came to some things, but I wouldn’t necessarily dig my heals in and let everyone know that I was raising “The Bullshit Flag”!

Since my surgery, however, some of those things have changed. I now realize that my time on this Earth is well past the halfway point, or even well past the two-thirds point, and I need to look out for myself. It is not so much as being self-centered as it is realizing that, at 69 years old, there is more of my life in the rear view mirror than there is left out the front window! That, my friends, is a tough pill for me to swallow! I say that because I have always thought of my self as a young man, after all I am the youngest of five children.

As previously mentioned, in the last four months things have changed and I have found that I have little to zero tolerance for falsehoods, prevarications, obfuscations, bloviations, fallacies, hyperbole, deceit, lies, or just plain bullshit!!!

Sorry Mom, but I gotta call it the way that I see it!

Whereas I used to just hold it all in and fume about it at a latter time, I now walk smartly over to the flag pole and zip up the ol Bullshit Flag as fast as I can hoist it up! To put it another way, I really cannot stand for someone to insult my intelligence!

One of my new slogans that sums up the way that I feel these days is: “Don’t Piss On My Leg And Tell Me It Is Raining”!

The other side of that discussion is that I have found that I have noticed that it doesn’t take much to get the damn to break and my emotions will find a way to escape through my tear ducts. It is quite embarrassing, but I can’t control that aspect of my life right now!

Now at my advanced age, 69 yrs old, I have to learn how to deal with this new hand that I was dealt in this game of life!

The one thing that I have always done, but I am putting even more emphasis on it now, is to tell my loved ones how much that do love them. Whether it is my kids, my grandkids, my brothers, my extended family, or just my longtime friends. I always tell them that I love them when we part. I want them to know that I really appreciate them being a part of my life, whether it has been for six days or 69 years!

What I don’t know is how much time is granted to me since my open heart surgery, but I do know that I want to enjoy every minute of whatever time is left!

Referring back a few paragraphs when I mentioned that there are two concepts that people have to struggle with as they grow up and old, what you are and who you are.

After 69 years I now know WHAT I am! I am a retired airline pilot, a dad, a grandfather, and a brother.

But now I am in the process of discovering WHO I am! In this journey that has already embarked, as of December 17, 2019, I am trying to take it all in and to decipher what I see. As this journey meanders through life’s highways and byways, I will need the help of each and everyone of you who are in my life presently to interact with me, to share the ups and downs of my life, to keep me grounded, and most of all, to actively join in my journey and meet me at the destination!

My view on life used to be that it was the destination that counted, not the journey. But I have found that idea to be woefully inadequate of a description! Life is, in fact, about both the journey and the destination, my friends!

Will you join me in my journey to my destination? It should be one heck of a party as we proceed!

TIL NEXT TIME, KEEP THE SHINY SIDE UP!

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