Paul's Heart

Life As A Dad, And A Survivor

Archive for the day “April 12, 2014”

A History Lesson That Pays Off

There is an expression that explains the importance of having had to learn history while in school, that it was important to learn history so as to prevent it from being repeated. And while the saying is probably intended for major events in national and world activities, it can apply to our private lives as well.

But just as learning from history to prevent bad things from being repeated, history can help us as a teaching tool to learn what has worked, was memorable, and definitely repeatable.

Today was one of those lessons that was worth repeating. This particular weekend is a dream weekend for me as a father. I get to spend the entire weekend with my daughters from the time I left work on Friday through tomorrow night. And I am taking full advantage of that time, which does not come often enough these days.

My daughters are at a very fun stage now in their lives, very active, very curious, and unfortunately for me as their father, very adventurous. But now instead of just trips to the movies or Chuck E. Cheese, they want other forms of physical and emotional stimulation. They want to be challenged. And for that, I refer back to my history of things that I liked to do as a child their age.

Earlier this year, I finally had them learn how to ski. My memories of learning to ski were a bit more chaotic, so I took the right steps for them, and had a professional teach them to ski, and it was positive for them, and they will continue to ski.

I recall all the wonderful things I got to experience being involved in music with various touring opportunities and now get to enjoy them as a spectator and supporter for my daughters in their performances. I got to sing at a lot of cool places, but never in a professional sports arena or for a professional sports game. My daughter did.

So today, I dug deep. It was a beautiful Spring day weather-wise and I was going to take full advantage of it. First, a picture with the Easter Bunny (for my daughters, not with me). Then it was a visit to my father and stepmother. And with being in that general area, I realized how close I was to a favorite childhood location, a wildlife preserve, now being called a zoo. It is not large like Philly or DC, but for two young children, they got to see a lot of animals and without the hustle and bustle of a major zoo. And with it being a preserve, the animals had a lot more freedom of movement. But of course, if you have been to one zoo, you have been to them all as a child. As we left the preserve, there were more exhibits with larger animals such as elk and bison, and then just as we left the preserve is a pretty decent creek and the only way to get across that creek is over an underwater bridge which kind of sounds like an oxymoron. But imagine this…

We have all seen the foolish people on the news who have tried to drive through flood waters to disastrous results, yet this is exactly what you will practically do as you drive through this creek. The bridge is underwater, but not in tunnel form. It is a platform about a foot and a half below the surface of the water, but deep enough into the creek bed. But kids love driving through this water. This was a simple pleasure for my children that I remembered.

With plenty of daylight left on this beautiful Spring day, I decided to take my daughters further north into the Poconos to a place called “boulder field”. It is a huge area of boulders that were pushed by glaciers thousands and thousands of years ago. What it is, is one of the nations largest free playgrounds with boulders to climb as far as the eyes could see. And my daughters wasted no time traversing the rock maze. I constantly had to yell to my younger daughter to slow down as she showed the most agility and with no effort at all, was more than two minutes ahead of my other daughter and myself. I recall how much I enjoyed climbing over all those boulders, visit after visit.

But my walk down natural memory lane concluded with a visit to the lake in that same state park. My daughter had mentioned about wanting to go to a beach, and I was able to give her that wish as well. In fact, for April, with air temperatures in the lower sixties, my daughters had no problem whipping off their shoes and socks, rolling up their pant legs and strolling down the beach into the lake.

This was one time, I can definitely say was a good time to remember and learn from history. I got to repeat history through my daughters’ eyes. Though I do remember how much fun I had, I got to see how much fun I had watching my daughters.

The Confluence

A confluence is an intersection where two or more objects, often times rivers, come together. In Pittsburg, there are three rivers that do this, hence the Steelers footbal stadium is called “Three Rivers Stadium.” Where these three rivers join together can be quite turbulent. Every so many winters, those of us in the northeast hear of a storm system, rather two or more systems that with the perfect timing come together to produce a super storm of major precipitation. The elements of cold weather and precipitation produce snow in feet, not inches. Another example of a confluence could be a traffic intersection. Imagine the carnage of an intersection with no traffic control, automobiles coming from four different directions, no stop signs or traffic signals. You get the idea… that these intersections can be quite chaotic, full of energy, and often create a lot of stress.

The truth is, you can walk down any street, even be standing next to a co-worker and never know the turbulence that another person is feeling, or what “confluence” they might be dealing with. Over the years, I have been known to carry so much on my shoulders. The truth be told, I thrive on it. I am not saying it is a good thing at all. Certainly it is good for those that I am trying to help, but occasionally there is collateral damage to either those around me, or even to myself.

One branch of my confluence begins with caring for my father, battling a very serious and aggressive cancer. I have always said that I am a better patient because I can deal with things that are thrown my way. But I am helpless when watching others go through their own.

Then another branch is my job. I work for a large company who “merged” several years ago, and its merger effects are beginning to be felt in the form of job reductions. My department is seeing a downsizing of ridiculous proportions and the building I work in is one of the casualties. I am fortunate on one hand, but there will be an unfortunate factor that will rise up again. I have been able to do my daily tasks with my health restrictions because I accepted a role that was within those restrictions. After ten years, I will no longer have that net under me. I will return to a position, where management will struggle with my assignments to comply with the ADA (American With Disabilities Act), and my co-workers unaware of my restrictions, will most likely return to the petty “why does Paul get away with not having to…”. This was an awful environment to work in back then, and I do not look forward to working in it again.

The most prominent though of all the branches of my confluence is my pending divorce. There are no signs of an imminent ending which is unfortunate. Both of us have clearly stated we want it over, yet both attorneys have done nothing to draw us into some stage of mediation. We continue to live in the house together until the divorce is done, though clearly by our positioning in the house, we are separated. There are not many possessions for us to split up, and really not much else to discuss, other than the most important factor, the custody of our children.

It is now eight months since I made the decision to file for divorce. And without getting into the nuts and bolts of everything, which I will continue not to discuss publicly, I will address one thing as I know there are some who are “spying” on my blog. I do not address my ex-to-be as anything less than my daughters’ mother as she is to be respected as such. My children do not hear any conversations criticizing her because I do not entertain those conversations. I am not proud of the situation I am in, but I am disappointed in the actions of some.

You see, in the middle of a wonderful weekend with my daughters, packed with all kinds of activities, one of my daughters reveals that she has overheard “mean” things about me. She was not in the room when these things were being said, but she was within earshot. I do not have any problem with anyone who wants to offer ridicule of me with the limited information they possess, but I do when it is affecting my children. I love my daughters and they love me. You cannot take that away from me, or them. But if you are one of those “spies” that I made reference to, please take this to heart, save your ridicule of me when my daughters cannot possibly hear you. If you want to hurt me, go for it. But I will not continue to let you hurt my daughters. I spend every moment with my daughters that I can, with everything I have going on, letting them know how much I love them, and doing things with them. This weekend so far has been awesome and filled with activity. They are slowly getting used to the idea what it will be like when we are no longer living in the same house, and that both of their parents will remain an active part of their lives, perhaps having double the experiences that they otherwise would have had.

As a raft drifting into the confluence of the three rivers in Pittsburgh, I am dealing with all of the various currents I am facing. Eventually, I will come out in calmer waters. I have charted my course to steer me through those currents and I will get through this.

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