Paul's Heart

Life As A Dad, And A Survivor

Archive for the month “July, 2015”

When You Don’t Get Another Chance


I learned about this expression a long time ago.  It was a very painful lesson, one that my father took with him to his grave.

Though I do not recall the year that it happened, I do remember that the event happened just days before Christmas, many years ago.  My father and my stepmother were having a discussion about insurance issues, that progressed into an argument.  They still had some last minute Christmas shopping to do.  They left their house just moments apart, my father first.  He got into his car, started the engine, then looked across the street to where my stepmother was now beginning to cross during the dusk hour of the evening.  And then it happened.  My stepmother never saw the car that hit her, and the injuries were critical and extreme.

On the plus side she would eventually recover enough to be released from the rehab facility, but clearly nowhere near a 100% recovery, if even 50%.  She also would have no memory of the accident itself.  And no memory of the accident, also meant that she had no idea of the discussion that the two of them were having that evening, before the accident.

For my father, that meant he would never have any opportunity to apologize for the conversation that evening, and bore 100% responsibility for the accident itself, feeling that if he had not left the house in such an angered rush, he would have been walking across the street with her, and being able to prevent her from being in the path of the oncoming car.  Yes, my father took that evening with him to his grave.

The fact of the matter is, there is always going to be that chance that we never get the opportunity to make things right, once it is taken away from us.

Anyone who has followed “Paul’s Heart”, knows that my daughters mean the world to me.  They are everything.  Every night (prior to my divorce filing), I held them.  I gave them a goodnight kiss.  And I told them that I loved them.

On April 16, 2008, I had a conversation with my daughters that I was going to be going away overnight.  Being they were only five and three years of age, I could only give them minimal information.  I told them that I was going to be going to the doctor, and it was going to get real late, so I would be staying overnight.  I gave them their kiss, and told them I loved them.  This would be the first time that we would be apart, ever.

As it was planned, I was going to have a minimally invasive cardiac procedure, and I expected no differently than to return home later the next day.  Unfortunately, that is not what happened.

I was informed by the doctors that the damage was not only unexpected, but not caused by common ailments.  The main artery going to my heart had become so scarred from radiation damage eighteen years earlier, I had a condition referred to unprofessionally as, a “widow maker.”  I was going to need emergency heart bypass surgery in less than 24 hours.  I would not be going home.  I would not get to see my daughters again until at the very least, unless the surgery would be successful.

The next several hours went by so quickly between the anesthesia wearing off from the procedure done earlier, followed by all the pre-surgery testing I had to go through, because doctors were dealing with a situation, that they did not have a lot of experience dealing with, a long term cancer survivor.

When the night finally slowed down, and I waited for the orderly to come for me, to take me to surgery, 6:00 arrived, and I arranged with my daughter’s mother to speak to them on the phone.  I could not hold them.  I could not see them.  They could not see that I was scared that I might not see them again.  All I could do is tell them that I loved them.  If everything went well, it would be at least another two days before I was even able to talk to them on the phone.

This is a time period that to this day causes me such sadness.


A week later, I was sent home, with my two very happy and caring little girls.  They knew that I had a very bad “boo boo” on my chest, and they took very good care of me.  Today, they understand that my health is not like everyone else.  And that is why I am doing all that I can to deal with the divorce issues with their mother so that the four of us can go on in the direction that we have chosen.  I do not want to ever have the situation again, that I did not get that one last chance with my daughters.

I have had two very extreme lessons in my life, about second chances, actually a lot more, but only used two for this post.  But you get the idea.  It is okay to have an argument.  But it is better to resolve it when you have the chance.  A lifetime of guilt is a horrible cross to bear.

Custody Rules Of Conduct Or Common Sense

common sense

I need to stress for the “trolls” of my blog, that I am not making any reference to the details of my divorce or custody in this post.

Pennsylvania includes in its custody paperwork, something called “General Rules Of Conduct”.  Now while an actual custody agreement is put into order, this list of rules, actually is not written into the order, but rather it is “assumed” that the rules will be followed.  But when you think about it, should the rules even be necessary?  In the relationships between the mother and the child, the father and the child, and the mother and the father, exactly what part of the divorce is the child’s fault, that rules like the following actually need to be stated:

  • neither party shall disparage, deride, ridicule, or condemn the other party in front of the child, nor allow third parties to do such
  • shall not conduct arguments in front of the child or over the phone within hearing distance of the child
  • not to use the children as spies for the other party
  • not to make extravagant promises to gain an edge over the other parent
  • putting the best interest of the child first


  • cannot expect proper moral conduct from the child if not exhibited by the parent
  • do not make arrangements through the child
  • consistency of rules and support by both parents regardless if rules are different between the households
  • phone conversations between the child and the parent should be unmonitored (not eavesdropped)
  • and of course, proper communication between the parents

Sure, the rules are a little more detailed than that.  But what it comes down to, the child plays no role in the process of the divorce, and the parents are not divorcing the child, therefore common sense would tell you that you do not need rules of conduct.  The status of “parent” and “child” never changes in a divorce.

Recovering From Hair Loss After Treatments

“Hair, hair, hair, hair, hair, hair, hair.  Flow it, show it.  Long as God can grow it, my hair”


I ran into a friend the other night, and though it had been a while since I had seen him, his greeting caught me off guard.

“OY!” (he’s Brittish), “I got a pair of blunt scissors in me truck!” he said with his big friendly grin.


It had been a while since I had seen him, and for those who have not seen me in a while, I have continued to let my hair grow.  And for a very good reason.

I lost the majority of my hair back when I was treated for Hodgkin’s Lymphoma back in 1988 from chemotherapy.  Radiation therapy to the back of my skull left an odd pattern down the middle permanently.


I have always been sensitive to this.  And one of the things that I swore I would never do, is ever take my hair from granted again.  It was bad enough that baldness ran in my family.  But it is odd, hair loss, is one of the major concerns that a cancer patient has.  We cannot wait for the hair to grow back.

I will admit, that I get a little confused and concerned when I see hair colored lime green, or shaved into some bizarre tribal symbol.  I am not so sure that those people would do that if they had the chance that “cut” or “style” was permanent, or if some other change against their hair style desire was done.

And so, throughout the 1990’s, I made a promise, not to cut my hair (except for styling it).  Unfortunately I did a very bad thing, and it pretty much ended up being “mulleted.”  Sorry, plenty of clip art for that, but it actually turned my stomach trying to select a picture.  But you all know what a mullet is.

At any rate, I ended up cutting my hair after all just into the new millennium, and up until last year, I kept it a fairly short length again.  It was not what I wanted, but for the most part, what everyone else wanted.


Well, it has been a year now, and only “trims” being done, and I am almost back to the length that I was comfortable covering up my “skunk stripe” on the back of my skull.  It may seem silly to some people why this would be so important to someone, but unless you have been in this situation, you really cannot understand it.

Sorry, no selfie of the length just yet, but to give you an idea…

hair1 hair3

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