Paul's Heart

Life As A Dad, And A Survivor

Archive for the month “November, 2014”

Happy Thanksgiving From Paul’s Heart


Happy Thanksgiving to everyone following “Paul’s Heart.”  I am thankful for so many things in my life, and this blog is something I am not only proud of for the number of people I have reached, but am so thankful for all the support that has ever been offered.

This officially begins one of the busiest, expensive, stressful, and memorable times of the year.  For some, it is one of the most difficult times of the year to endure.  Many families are struggling financially or have suffered personal loss, and for some, this may be the first year that they are going through this holiday season under those conditions.

Others may be in situations that just seem outright sad, going through holiday struggles year after year.  “Paul’s Heart” had its origin twenty-six years ago when I was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma.  I have not had a “typical” Winter holiday season since, ever.  There has always been some sort of crisis, tragedy, or struggle to endure.  But that is what I do, I get through it.  I have to.  I have two beautiful little girls who depend on me, and enjoy the holidays.  They do not know why I have such difficulties with the holiday season.

I am not alone.  Many of my friends here are in a similar situation as me.  They are away from family and celebrating Thanksgiving with friends.  And no matter what the meal will consist of today, we will all make the most of our holiday today, and we are thankful for that.

There are actually meaningful football games to day, unlike years past, where a team just shows up to play on Thanksgiving.  At least four teams playing have playoff implications.  I know where my eyes will be glued tonight.


PART_1417100861070_Image1417100860969   GO SEAHAWKS!!!!

And then, in the wee hours of the morning, another new Thanksgiving weekend experience for me.

5 - On Our Way To China

I will be on an early morning flight to be reunited with my daughters.  This will be our second Thanksgiving since the divorce was filed, but this is the first one that I have been away from them so long.  My mother has made this trip possible for me, and for that I am very thankful.

As we approach the Winter holidays, all I want is for my daughters to know how much I love them, how much I miss them.  And just as my past visits with them, that is all they will be told.  I am keeping everything about the divorce from our conversations.  I know this is not easy for them.  And it would be even worse for them, if they knew how one parent treated the other.  The children love both of us and this season is going to be critical to the children if that love is to survive.  And just like every other holiday season, I do plan to get through it, and hope the next year will finally be the time I get to say “Happy Thanksgiving” without following the phrase with “but…”

Happy Thanksgiving to everyone.  Girls, Daddy cannot wait to see you tomorrow.  I love you.


A Theory Of Humanity

I do not usually do movie reviews, but not since “Brian’s Song,” has a movie/biopic moved me such as this film did.  I saw the movie, “The Theory Of Everything” starring Eddie Redmayne as Stephen Hawking, cosmologist, and also a patient dealing with ALS, also known as Lou Gerhrig’s Disease.

Eddie Redmayne

There is no spoiler alert with this post, because everyone knows that Hawking has defied the ALS survival rate by decades.  Originally given only two years to live in his college days, Hawking is now well into his seventies.  I am very well aware of Hawking’s credentials, but it is his life, living with ALS, that gripped me most while watching the film.

Over the summer, a craze went over the internet, called the “Ice Bucket Challenge,” meant to raise awareness as well as money to help find a cure for this awful motor neuron disease, where basically every muscle shuts down, except for one.  The brain remains functional and fully aware of what is happening to the body it is inside but no longer able to act or communicate.  I did not need the challenge to make me aware of ALS.

For the second time in as many years, I was dealing with someone close to me, fighting ALS.  And both would die from it, just a few years from their diagnosis.

December 2009 - 82

My brother-in-law Mike, pictured here with my daughters, was just diagnosed a few months earlier.  While the progression of the disease is cruel no matter how it occurs, it more often occurs in physical evidence like it did with Hawking, then progressing to the throat and mouth muscles.  It is at this point, when dealing with ALS is more critical, because once you are no longer able to swallow, the ability to receive nourishment is critical.  In my brother-in-law’s case, his ALS first became recognized by a simple slur in his speech.  Thinking perhaps it was from enjoying a favorite vice of his, Jack Daniels, it was not soon before we all realized, it was not.

Mike’s deterioration would accelerate over the next couple of years, much in the way the film depicted Hawking’s struggles.  It became difficult for Mike to grasp, walk, hold his head up, communicate, swallow, and the list goes on.  But throughout his battle, he did his best to continue on, working, taking care of his family, and riding his Harley.  But the disease continued to take everything away from Mike as he lost his physical abilities.  Finally, two years ago, ironically the day following a fundraiser in his honor, my brother-in-law lost his life.

The only other time that I had even heard of ALS before Mike and my co-worker (who passed the year before my brother-in-law) was decades ago, watching a black and white movie, called “Pride Of The Yankees” starting Gary Cooper as Lou Gehrig.


The most touching part of the movie, after the disease, which would eventually be named after him, came when Gehrig announced his retirement, calling himself, the “luckiest man on the face of the Earth,” in the following speech (quoted from Wikipedia):

“Fans, for the past two weeks you have been reading about a bad break. Yet today I consider myself the luckiest man on the face of the Earth. I have been in ballparks for seventeen years and have never received anything but kindness and encouragement from you fans.

“Look at these grand men. Which of you wouldn’t consider it the highlight of his career just to associate with them for even one day? Sure, I’m lucky. Who wouldn’t consider it an honor to have known Jacob Ruppert? Also, the builder of baseball’s greatest empire, Ed Barrow? To have spent six years with that wonderful little fellow, Miller Huggins? Then to have spent the next nine years with that outstanding leader, that smart student of psychology, the best manager in baseball today, Joe McCarthy? Sure, I’m lucky.

“When the New York Giants, a team you would give your right arm to beat, and vice versa, sends you a gift – that’s something. When everybody down to the groundskeepers and those boys in white coats remember you with trophies — that’s something. When you have a wonderful mother-in-law who takes sides with you in squabbles with her own daughter — that’s something. When you have a father and a mother who work all their lives so you can have an education and build your body — it’s a blessing. When you have a wife who has been a tower of strength and shown more courage than you dreamed existed – that’s the finest I know.

“So I close in saying that I might have been given a bad break, but I’ve got an awful lot to live for.”


In the movie, “The Theory of Everything,” Hawking pretty much carried the same attitude as Gerhig, and my brother-in-law, he was not going to let anything stand in his way of proving “Time.”


Near the conclusion of the movie, Redmayne quotes as Hawking, during a discussion about “giving up” takes place, says, “as long as there is life, there is hope.”

There were many of us in the theatre who probably took that ice bucket challenge, and many may have had no idea just how cruel the disease was except for a few of us.  But after watching this movie, there is no doubt that humanity now understands this rare, cruel, and fatal disease.  Hawking has defied the odds somehow, and is a true inspiration.

I anticipate many Oscars for this movie.

More Than Just A Good Player


I must state for objectivity reasons, a conflict of interest that I have in this post.  I am a die-hard Seattle Seahawk fan.  And I have always been so, since the Seahawks drafted Curt Warner (the running back, not the quarterback), in the 1980’s.  I have put in many sufferable a season with less than spectacular football seasons, with rare playoff appearances.  That changed in the new millennium, and a reward for my dedication, and not being a band-wagon jumper, my team is now a regular contender for the championship.  As a team, they are great.  They are also quite young, and this should bode well for many seasons.

But as the saying goes, “a chain is only as strong as its weakest link.”  When I refer to a weak link on this team, I am not making reference to performance on the field.  This team still plays with all its heart weak after weak.  But earlier this season, the Seahawks let a player go, who was clearly quite divisive to the team where it mattered most, on the field.  While I hated to see Percy Harvin be traded, it was understandable just as many other players who have had selfish issues have had to be dealt with.

The latest controversy however, is one being fanned by news reporters all over, a story that does not exist, so one is being manufactured.

marshawn 1

Clearly one of the best running backs in the NFL, and will get the notoriety that many other Seahawk running backs have not been able to garnish because he was part of a Super Bowl Champion team, Marshawn Lynch is under fire because he does not want to talk to reporters following games.

I am not rabid enough of a fan that I need to hear week after week, “did you play hard?”, “how tough was the defense to play against?”, and other questions like that.  I saw the game.  I can see how the game was played, and where the strengths were.  But for someone who is mostly likely exhausted, and just wants to get out of there and go home, there is nothing productive that comes from those interviews.

This past weekend however, after a hard fought game with division title implications, Lynch broke with his usual “silent” stance.  After all, the big, bad NFL had just fined him $50,000 twice for not talking to reporters (I will get to this issue in a second, but right now I want to talk about just how petty this whole non-issue is).  When questioned by reporters about aspects of the game, Lynch responded with one-word answers of “yeah” to the majority of questions.  He turned the annoyance on the reporters.  You can see the interview here:–yeah–12-times-024054557.html

Now clearly, the reporters are pushing for “injury” status on Lynch, as he remained on the field during half-time due to “soreness.”  Knowing that no coach likes to disclose any injury information before anything certain, Lynch also does have rights not to talk about his health.  And when Lynch tries to talk about his charity work (about one minute into the video clip), the reporters do not take the opportunity to take advantage of a great story.  So I will.


Marshawn Lynch was telling the reporter about a fundraiser that he was involved with, along with NFL great Joe Montana for youth in the Oakland, California area.  Their mission and vision is stated here, from their web site:

“Mission Statement

Fam 1st Family Foundation is dedicated to uplifting and empowering youth in the Bay Area and throughout the United States. The foundation’s mission is one of empowerment and education, aiming to build self-esteem and academic learning skills in underprivileged youth.


To provide a one stop shop, where the center’s programming will include developing workshops for vulnerable communities to promote literacy, athletic training, financial training, after school tutoring, art programs, vocational training, a media center, law and order program, and much more.

Bridging athleticism with academia will be the framework for serving at-risk youth across diverse populations. Joshua Johnson and Marshawn Lynch will be at the helm of this collaborative effort, to produce the future leaders of tomorrow.”

But of course, no responsible journalist wants to focus on a story like this.  It is not like the stories we saw earlier in the year of NFL players facing charges of domestic abuse which of course were non-football stories that were made headline stories.

And to be fair, Lynch has had his share of run-ins with bad news on and off the field.  He was a “troubling” player when he played for the Buffalo Bills, but the Seahawks gave him a chance to turn his life around.  He had a serious and legal auto accident in 2008 which led to a woman being hurt.  Since then, reporters have been fascinated trying to make stories out of nothing.  One of the big ones, was when Lynch was caught eating the candy “Skittles” on the sideline.  OH MY GOD!!!  How could he?!?  Okay, not since former Seahawk quarterback Rick Mirer was caught eating a hot dog on the sideline, or Philadelphia Eagles drinking pickle juice, had a food made such a controversy.


Is Lynch innocent in the controversy?  No.  Trying to make a point?  Possibly.  Being careful not to say the wrong thing to an opportunistic media that has a history of taking things out of context?  Absolutely.  But worth a story that now editorializes the subliminal encouragement to Seahawks management that it should be seriously a consideration in unloading one of the best running backs in the NFL?  That is completely out of line.

Anyone who has seen Lynch play, knows all too well, just as his teammates know, Lynch gives everything he can on the football field.  Injury free for the most part of his career, who can forget the impossible touchdown run against the New Orleans Saints to eliminate the Super Bowl champions from the playoffs, when Lynch first got his nick name really publicized and well earned, “Beast Mode.”

Yes, his contract with the NFL requires he talks to reporters, whether there is any value or not.  And it was right to fine him, though the amount is excessive.  But the NFL is running a business, and after all the bad publicity the NFL got earlier this year, the will make an example of Lynch.  And if there are internal matters such as Lynch not wanting to attend a celebration of the Super Bowl at the White House, or holding out during training camp, like hundreds of players do over the decades, or whether he was in too much pain to head into the locker room, that is a matter between the Seahawks and Lynch and the media is wrong for making more of this than there is.

Lynch’s teammates stand by their teammate, as well they should.  Together, they will hopefully make another playoff run, and hopefully to the Super Bowl.  I will stay a Seahawk fan, no matter where Lynch plays in 2015, in spite of the media urging the Seahawks to get rid of Lynch.  Yes, he is long in the tooth as far as running backs go, but he still has years ahead of him.

Back off ESPN.  Talk about the good stuff Lynch does.  NFL, you want to improve your thug reputation, urge reporters to ask at least one question pertaining to their philanthropic endeavors and not just the usual “fluff” questions like “how did it feel to take that hit from the defensive back?” or “what was going through your mind as you were crossing the goal line?”


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