Paul's Heart

Life As A Dad, And A Survivor

Archive for the day “May 11, 2013”

Once You Let A Fart Rip…

You cannot “unstink” a fart.  It is going to stink no matter what you do to try and cover it up.  You cannot take it back.  It happens and often it is going to clear a room.

Just like you cannot take back things you have said, like in a jury, or an argument.

I learned a most valuable lesson from my father, though I wish I could have learned it a different way.

It was many ago, just days before the Christmas holiday.  By now, my dad and stepmother were done with the holiday shopping, or so they thought.  A minor argument ensued, I believe over insurance, when they realized they still needed a last minute gift.  From the argument, frustration was added as they prepared to head out into the holiday rush traffic.  My father would leave the house first, cross the street and start up the car.  He glances out of the driver side window, to see where my stepmother could be as he thought she was right behind him.

It was dusk as the evening sun had settled.  Headlights were now being turned on to see the path in front of them.  Except for one vehicle.  My dad waits for her to cross the street and sees that on her side traffic is letting up that she can now cross to the middle of the busy street.  She continues her path across the west bound lane just inches away from the front fender of my dad’s car.

She never knew what hit her.  All my father saw was his wife of nearly two decades be thrown dozens of feet from where he just saw her.

I do not know much else about the next several hours as my father does not talk about that night.  By the time that I had received the phone call about what had happened, it was very early in the morning of the next day.  But the news was not good.  She had sustained major life threatening injuries besides her one leg being broken, a severe head injury.

But what my dad will talk about, and to this day, is the guilt that he carries from that night.  That he never got to resolved the argument that he and my stepmother had that night.  They never got to apologize.  This would go beyond “go to bed angry”.  They would never get that chance to apologize.  To make matters worse, there are things that compiled on to his list of guilt.  He apologizes frequently for not being there for my sister and I following my parents’ divorce.  He apologized for missing certain milestones in our lives.  He carried guilt about not being there for my battle with cancer.

On Monday, I will stand next to my dad, as he faces his biggest fight of his life, his own battle with cancer, lung cancer to be exact.  And this goes beyond blame or guilt.  This is now about survival and the chances that lay ahead of him.  Beings somewhat familiar with medicine and cancer terminology, I feel very good about his chances of beating it.  And I hope that as he knows I am standing by his side, I have long forgiven him for our past.

“Dad, just do this!  Madison and Emmalie love their Poppop and know that if Daddy could beat his cancer, and you are his dad, then you can do it too.”

I Know You Didn’t Just Say That To Me

So one of my supervisors decides to say to me, “you’re such a negative person.”  Now I consider myself a very positive person, in spite of the things that I have dealt with in my life, and continue to deal with, and will deal with.  But if my reaction to him was to just want to give him a “backhand”, must I forfeit my positive attitude claim?

There are certain roles that I have taken on in my life, some of the leadership, some of them role models.  It is my positive attitude that allowed me to choose to take on these things, as well as have the support from my peers to be selected for those roles.  As a cancer survivor, my role is simply to encourage and inspire.  In spite of everything I have gone through over the last five years, that is truly what I want to do.

As a political candidate, that too can be inspirational as to the reason why I would run for what many say is a thankless job, school board.  But given that I balance a full time job, medical appointments for myself, attend school district meetings, and still have time to campaign, I guess for the most part, it has been a positive thing in my life.

But as for work, after more than thirteen years of the department I am currently in, this past Winter I was elected one of four shop stewards.  I belong to a union.  There is very little positive to be thought about the shop steward position, again it is thankless, and unfortunately it is a lot of mediation and awareness.  So it is very rare to have the opportunity to be positive.  Any my record over these last thirteen years do speak for themselves as far as me being a “positive” employee.

I miss the old days of working for a “mom and pop” company.  Where numbers of employees were small enough that it was like a second family away from home.  You give that up when you work for a big company in corporate America.  Quantity becomes the priority over quality.  Greed replaces reputation.  Success blurred from pride.

In most of my working life, up until I came to this company and into this department, my work reputation had been spotless.  I had never been terminated, never even reprimanded.  My attendance record was near spotless, including during my treatment days.  Unfortunately, the downside of working for such a small company, lack of advancement opportunities and benefits.  Being a cancer survivor, benefits often outweigh value even over salary.  And given my health status today, I am very thankful that as a union member, I have group health insurance.

But it did not take long before I got a taste of what it was like to work for a major corporation.  Within the first couple of weeks, I had received a reprimand.  And in spite of my protest and objection, and ability to prove myself innocent, instead I faced a blackmail-like behavior by not only management, but by my union representation.  Eventually, it got to the point, where I was so stubborn with my work ethic, unable to get me to crumble, management made it personal.

Every year, I would struggle with not being able to get management to back off.  And it seemed every year, it would escalate.  I ended up isolated from my co-workers, some who had been more than just co-workers.  Given the union representation that I had, I was hoping to be elected to the shop steward position.  Over the years, I have seen so much quality go down, more bullying from management, so now that I am finally in the position of shop steward, I can now deal with much of these problems, or at least be aware of more of them.  At least by them not being sprung on me, that can help prevent me from erupting with stress.

But that is just it, with my hermit-like reputation at work, now I will be a lot more visible.  But I will be seen coming to the defense of people, in other words, for negative things.  It is kind of hard trying to put a positive spin on something such as an employee being served a termination notice while recovering from open heart surgery, or while laying in a hospital bed in a coma from a car accident (yes, both are real events).

Unfortunately, I have to leave work to get back to that positive outlook.  Unfortunately I have to repeat that whole behavior the next day.  And that is hard to put a positive spin on.

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