Archive for March, 2016

Wanting to be there

Friday, March 4th, 2016

I think life just doesn’t let us be in more than one place at a time, well maybe its physics thats at fault there but you get my meaning.

Each of us has responsibilities and relationships that sometimes pull us in different directions, sometimes we can respond to the pull, sometimes we can’t and sometimes we’re en-route to being there with someone when the unthinkable happens. This happened to me with my dad’s passing, I was on the road when I got the call.

There’s not much a person can do at that point. You know you’re trying, but it just didn’t work out. You feel the frustration and guilt of being close but not close enough. I have a partial memory of a line from a movie or a song maybe, it’s an exchange between two people, one who has been away for a long time, the other who has carried on life. The one who was away says they wished they had been there for all the life events they missed, and the one who has carried on takes their hand and tells them “you were there”.

I want to believe that I was there in Dad’s mind, maybe it’s just to relieve some guilt, or to believe I meant enough that he’d think of me just before he passed.

We carry the loves of our life with us, the friends, the family, and the one that holds our heart, we carry them inside us everyday whether they can tell or not. They are there.

I think about my Dad and my Mom each day, about my daughters out east each day, about my family in Chicago, El Campo and Iola, every day. I think of how they’re doing, I hope they’ll keep me in their lives as they go about doing the things life asks of them. I think about the challenges they face and wish I was there, not that I have any magic answers, but just there to share a bit of life with them.

And when we can’t be there in person or in voice or skype or whatever, I hope they know that I carry them with me, as I’m sure you do.

Be present when you can, be there and know its them who hold you there when you can’t be physically present. Hold on to their memory, talk to them (when no one can hear you) and be still, some answer from them will appear in time. They are always with us, telling us, “I’m proud of you”, “I love having you in my life”, “I’ll remember you always”.

Be good to each other today and all days.

We’re in this together.

life, lives, living

Tuesday, March 1st, 2016

I’m working on the twin monitors today, building digital models of historical constructions on one, keeping up with email on the other. The office I have is cozy I guess you’d say, and I can hear pretty much everything that gets said for the next two offices down the line so I wear headphones usually while I work. Not that the conversations my fellow faculty have are uninteresting but its hard to work while they talk so I wear the headphones and listen to music. I was listening to John Williams’s compositions for the film “Saving Private Ryan” as I built stud walls and windows and siding, and of course the music is powerful, very powerful if you pair the music with memories of the film.

The ending of the film is what most popped into my mind. The scene has Private Ryan, now an older man, with children and grandchildren at the Normandy American Cemetery and Memorial. A very moving place, if you can afford the trip across the ocean, I highly recommend it. The French keep it pristine. not a blade of grass out of place, and you can tell from the body language and hushed tones that every visitor knows what the men and women buried here did in the name of freedom. In the movie, the elder Ryan finds the grave marker for Captain John Miller, the Ranger sent to bring Ryan back to be sent home as the only surviving son in his family. Ryan finds the marker and speaks to it, saying he hopes the life he lived was worth the cost paid by John Miller and his squad. As the scene closes, Ryan is moved to tears, his wife comes to his side and he asks her to tell him he’s lived a good life and is a good man.

Its a question.

We do the best we can. But we never know, is it enough? Sometimes things happen in life, things that cost someone else their life, and as we visit them, as we remember them, we wonder, have I paid this back? Can I ever pay this back? And of course we don’t know, we’ll never know. Looking out across the sea of crosses, stars and crescents at the American Cemetery and Memorial, I had that in mind. Am I doing enough to pay them back?

This time of year is typically a hard one for our family, towards the end of the month I’ll be remembering Tyler Binsted, a young man killed at my daughters side for refusing a gunman’s order to get in the trunk of a car with my daughter. He said no and they started walking away, they shot him in the back, she tried to get help, ran back to where he fell, where the shooter was, to try and help but he had passed. A few days after, my mom passed as well, I wasn’t there. You can’t be everywhere all the time i guess. But am I doing enough for them?

Live a good life (not to be confused with “the” good life)
Be fair
Be honest
Be honorable
Help those in need
Work hard

It might be all we can do. I hope it’s enough.

Be good to each other
Look after each other