Hindsight Really is 2020 – A Recap

The saying goes, “Hindsight is 2020,” and many of us are rejoicing that 2020 is really truly behind us! I often wonder if you were to make a list of positives and negatives of the past year, would one outweigh the other? What about 10-15 years ago? Was that just as bad, but we only choose to remember the good things from that year? I don’t know the answers to those questions.

In talking with my youngest son this weekend, he was talking about the last year and listing all of the bad things from it. I told him that is really is easy to see the bad things, the negatives, or the sadness we experienced. I challenged him to try to find some positives among the negatives. As we drove back to my house, we were able to do that. I told him it isn’t always easy to find those positives, and sometimes there may not be any, but to always look for them.

December 31, 2019

As the world awaited 2020’s arrival there was great excitement. Many said, “This is going to be MY YEAR!” Others looked at the new year as a clean slate from 2019 (which they wanted to be over). I recalled the quote from country singer Brad Paisley, who said, “Tomorrow is the first blank page of a 365 page book, write a good one.” We looked at 2020 as a year of happiness, recovery, new opportunities, new adventures, and so much more! 2020 had other plans.

2020

Looking back at 2020, the absolute high point was the birth of our daughter, Ella. NOTHING tops this moment! The blog announcing her birth was one of the most read of the year.

My first daughter. Daddy’s little girl. My wife, Sam, was just amazing throughout the delivery. It was the first time I had witnessed natural child birth and I was in awe of everything. My heart was overflowing with happiness. What a day!

This month, Sam and I were talking about what to do for her first birthday. With Covid, there is not a whole lot we can do. We are probably not going to throw the big party we wanted to, but we are working out plans for something special to mark the occasion.

Covid-19

I can’t even imagine if Ella had been born a few weeks later. By the time March arrived, the whole world was talking about Corona virus and Covid-19. Everything started to shut down in an attempt to “flatten the curve.” Our sleep labs closed and we were deployed to the hospital Labor Pool. During my time there, I heard stories and witnessed things I will sadly never forget. With a new baby at home, my constant worry was that I would bring it home to her. I eventually snapped. The doctor called it Acute Stress Disorder and she took me off work. I was out on FMLA for 6 weeks.

Finding the positive in a negative – I got to spend 6 weeks with my daughter. There are countries that allow both parents to stay home with their newborn child for a year when they are born. I wish the United Stated allowed that. There are so many wonderful moments that happen in that first year. It is a shame that we have to go back to work while our babies are still so young.

Another positive: As the curve flattened, I officiated my first wedding for my friend, Theresa from high school. To say I was nervous is an understatement, but all went well and I didn’t mess anything up too bad. It was nice to see other friends from high school at the wedding, too. It was a bit weird, as there were many masks in the crowd, but that had kind of become the “norm.”

Division and hate

2020 brought more division and more hate. There has always been division in politics, but it seems that both parties hatred for each other was over the top. I’ve heard a lot of mudslinging in ads, but the stuff being said was brutal. The politicians seem to have forgotten who they are supposed to be representing and working for – the people of the country!

Everyone was offended by everything in 2020. Social media was full of arguments, name calling, and much more. Really, the media just continued to “feed” the public and make everyone more angry than they were to begin with. Jim Morrison of the Doors once said, “Whoever controls the media, controls the mind.” Noam Chomsky takes it a little further:

I had to finally stop watching the news, and scroll past so many posts from friends. I couldn’t take it. It is totally ok for you to be passionate about your beliefs and your political stance. If it is different than my stance or beliefs, that’s ok, too. You and I can agree to disagree. I was saddened that so many friendships were broken because of the difference of opinion. Friendships that have lasted 30+ years ended because of this, and that breaks my heart. If only more people thought like Thomas Jefferson:

Blog Milestones and Hits and Misses

In 2020, I celebrated two years of blogging. I wrote my 300th blog. I still wrote many movie blogs and music blogs. The music blogs slowed as I started to neglect Tune Tuesday. I tried something new with Friday Movie Quotes, but that didn’t seem to go over too well, so I stopped. Most of my blogs were ramblings about my life and of course, my daughter.

The other blog that got a lot of views was my recent blog about the loss of my friend, and high school band director, Tom Shaner. I posted a link to this on my Facebook, and his daughter also shared it, so many people I didn’t even know read it. I received a private message from his brother who told me that he really appreciated my blog and how it enlightened him on the impact he had on his students. When I finished writing that blog, I didn’t think it did him any justice, but that private message proved otherwise.

Conclusion

As I look back on 2020, I see life’s “circle.” The high point of the year was the birth of my daughter, while the low point of the year was the passing of my friend, Tom. Life and death. A new life enters the world, while an old one leaves the world. Happiness and sadness. As life moves on, the circle continues. We see new births and new deaths.

A pastor once told me that birth is the beginning of death. You begin to die the moment you are born. There is truth to that. So as we look on the new “book” that is 2021, and we begin to write on the blank pages, let’s try to remember the words of actor Michael Landon:

Here’s to a Happy New Year for all of us!

A Letter to Mom

Mother’s Day – 2019

Dear Mom,

Christopher and I met some time ago and mapped out a project to honor your memory. I have written a few things that will be included in it. Some of them have appeared here on my blog page. I’ve gone through pictures and have picked out favorites. I have other ideas as well, and eventually, we will produce and publish it.

The night Chris and I talked about this project, we exchanged ideas of what we could do. One of my favorite ideas he suggested was to write you a letter. You would think that it would be extremely easy to sit down and write to you, but this one simple idea has turned out to be the most difficult of them all! I have started letters to you more than once, but I cannot seem to be able to finish them. Today, I am going to write this! Through tears and pain, today, I will complete this letter!

Today will mark the 13th Mother’s Day that has passed since you passed away. I won’t even begin to pretend that it gets easier. It doesn’t – I wish you were here. I wish I could once again tell you in person, how grateful and how thankful I am that YOU were chosen to be my mother. I wish you knew how happy it made me growing up to know I was making you proud of me. You were my biggest cheerleader and there have been SO many times that I have needed you since you have been gone.

So many things have changed over the years. There have been countless times that I have wanted to call you. There have been so many times I needed to hear your voice. I have needed your guidance and advice more times than I can count. Before making big decisions, I have found myself asking, “What would mom say about this?” The longing to be able to share just one more conversation with you is ever present, and never seems to go away.

I have been told by so many people that you would be proud of me. I believe that. I graduated college, mom! All those times you told me to go to school and get a degree and I kept playing around on the radio … I’m sure it drove you crazy! Well, I now have that degree! I worked hard for it and earned it – knowing the whole time that it was what you and dad always wanted me to do. Even though you were not there physically, I felt you there in spirit. As I addressed the entire graduating class – I pictured you there, smiling and proud. When I mentioned you in my speech, it was the only time I thought I might break down.

You won’t believe this, but Dante’ is 17 now! He is in high school now! I don’t even know where the time went, mom! He’ll graduate next year! I remember you telling me how fast I grew up and how you couldn’t believe I was graduating…I completely know how you felt. He is quite the young man, mom. He is so friggin’ smart! He has made such an impact on his teachers and friends. They all talk of what a joy he is. He is polite and a gentleman. He is always going out of his way to help people by holding the door and things like that.

You’ll be happy to know that he wants to do something with trains when he graduates. I would venture a guess that it is probably because of that day you took him to the Day Out With Thomas the Tank Engine! He STILL talks about that day. It is a memory that he will never forget – and neither will I. He misses you, too. He never lets me forget your birthday, Mother’s Day, or the anniversary of your passing. We have spent many hours at your grave sharing memories, laughing and crying. He always makes sure that we stop and get flowers for you, when we visit. He will never forget the love you showed him, and you remain one of the most special people in his life – you made quite the impact on him in 4 short years. Both of us are glad that we have so many pictures of you two together!

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Remember that day we were all together at dad’s? You were trying to sleep and Dante’ was running around being loud? You laughed and I asked you what was so funny. Do you remember your response? I do. “I hope when you have your next baby that it is another boy. That way, you will know just what kind of stuff you and your brother put your dad and I through!” Well, and I have my suspicions that you played a hand in this, your wish came true. Dimitri was born shortly after you left us.

Blonde hair and blue eyes – I know you’d have spoiled him just as much as you did Dante’! Yes, they fight with each other, just like Chris and I did! There are many times I yell back to them in the car and I can hear you saying the same thing to Chris and me! It’s pretty amazing to put pictures of Chris and me next to pictures of the two of them – it’s crazy how much they look like us! Dimitri loves to sing and is in choir. He’s in middle school now and he’s quite compassionate. He is SO competitive and gives his all and hates to lose! He plays video games and gets into them much like you got into playing that pinball game at the Dugout!

He is always telling us how much he wishes he could have met you. He hears stories from Dante’ and he gets sad. He knows what an amazing grandma you were and he wishes that he could have share some memories with you, like his brother. I wish that he could have, too. I think that’s the only disconnect I have from him. Dante and I can talk about you and the times you shared together, but Dimitri gets sad, because he missed out on that, and that makes me sad, too.

I had a very difficult time after you passed away. There was quite the roller coaster of emotions I had to deal with. I was in a deep state of grief, trying to cope with your death and at the same time, there was the joy of the birth of Dimitri. Factor in the stress of the loss of another radio job, depression, and a variety of other issues and you can guess how messed up I was. I was taking all kinds of medications, altering the dosage, adding new ones and changing to different ones in hopes of finding a way to cope and to be happy. All that did was make me someone I was not. There are times I do not even remember saying or doing things. It took me many years to get through it and to address the issues I was facing. This meant doing some things that took me out of my comfort zone. This meant facing some hard truths about me and where I was in life. This meant severing ties with things and people that were holding me back and forcing me into a whirlwind of unhappiness. It was not a good place for me – or anyone else close to me.

I am ashamed to admit that I thought of ending my life. The unhappiness and depression were very bad. With help from therapy, I was able to look at some things in my life and make a very difficult decision. Divorce was not easy. Coming out on the other side, the true colors of those who I thought cared about me began to show. Rumors and untruths continue to be spread in an attempt to discredit me and make me look bad. You, of all people, know that I am far from perfect. However, it hurt to see how quickly people took sides and believed so many lies. It is hard to not let that bother me, but I have gained some powerful tools through therapy and true friends that have helped. I have been able to move forward.

Mom, all you ever wanted for me was to be happy. I am SO happy today. What I wouldn’t give for you to meet my wife, Sam. She is amazing. She is beautiful. She doesn’t take any crap from anyone! She does what needs to be done and doesn’t make rash decisions. You would like her a lot. She is supportive, honest, responsible, and loves me. I love her more that I could ever explain to you. She is one of the hardest working people I have ever met. She is a true blessing to me. She loves Dad, Rose, and the boys, too. It is because of her, that I am where I am today. She was a lifesaver, mom. She asks about you often and loves to hear me tell stories about you. I want you to know that she is taking good care of your boy, and she is the best thing that has ever happened to me.

Because of all that has transpired, and where I am now, my relationship with Dad and Chris are stronger than they’ve ever been. We speak often on the phone and I have seen them more over the past two years than I probably did through that first marriage. Sam will often ask, “Have you talked to your dad? Did you call your brother?” It’s pretty amazing. She knows how things were in the past, and refuses to let that continue. While I am glad to have those relationships thrive, it makes me sad that I missed SO many things with you during that time. I should have stood up more and made sure we spent more time with you – I regret that so very much. For that, I am sorry.

It hurts to look back and know what I could have and should have changed. Hindsight is 20/20. Oh, the things I would have done different! I would have called more, mom. I would have made more time to come visit. I would have told you I love you, every chance I got. The list of “should haves” “could haves” and “would haves” is SO long!!! There are things that I wish I would have wrote down or asked you. So many things that left with you that I can only wish that I had asked about.

Oh, and before I forget to mention it – thanks for your letter. We found them almost a year after you left us. It was probably the most amazing thing I have ever experienced. Here was a letter to me that you had written years before Dante’ was born. “Know that I love you” was the first thing you told me. I think it probably took me 20 minutes to compose myself after reading that line. My eyes are welling up with tears right now as I remember it. Thank you for that. I have it, along with the tissue I wiped your tears away with on your last night here and other things that remind me of you. I only wish that you had been able to write something to Dante’ – I know he would treasure that as much as he treasures the photo book you made him with those pictures from Thomas the Train.

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13 years gone and yet it still seems like yesterday. So many holidays without you. So many birthdays. 13 Mother’s Days. I hope that you always knew how much I loved you and still love you. I hope you know how much I miss you. I hope you know that even though there were things we didn’t see eye to eye on everything, I was glad that God chose to make you my mom.

Thank you, mom, for all you gave me. Thank you for the many days you stayed home with me when I was sick. Thank you for the hours of phone calls containing laughter and tears. Thanks for the memories that will live on in my heart and soul. Thank you for putting band aids on cuts and scrapes. Thank you for singing off key in the car. Thank you for being such a wonderful grandma. Thanks you for your wisdom. Thank you for understanding hugs. Thank you for telling dad things I told you not to tell him. Thanks for every single thing you did for me – there is probably not enough room on the internet to list them all. Most of all, thank you for being my mom. Happy Mother’s Day, Mom. I miss you and will forever love you.

“See you later”

Love always, your son,

Keith

7 mos with Mom

“My mind knows you are gone, but my heart will never be able to accept it.”