Christmas 2014

The best present John and I could possibly get we already got.

Our buddy is kicking cancer’s ass and taking names; and he’s getting to spend Christmas with his family in better health than any of us could have hoped for.

Cheers, buddy!

Dave, John, Hokie and Dexter

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Here’s To….You Know Who You Are.

Words are sometimes impossible to come up with, especially in situations where the person is one you care about is going through something life threatening.  In a face to face conversation, or even one on facebook, or in a text message or email, it can be a struggle.  You don’t want to sound cliched and say things like “We believe in you” or “Is there anything I can do to help..” etc.. and you don’t want to say an inappropriate thing, either.  I hate coming across as shallow/hollow or insincere; this is why I think I convey my thoughts better through writing blogs like this, than by phone calls or conversation.  It gives me time to gather my thoughts and to say things I can’t verbalize.

A few years ago I wrote a long note I wanted delivered to my Great-Uncle Hartley as he lie in bed in a hospital room in Florida.  He had just had a major stroke…he still had his wits about him, but it had been communicated to the rest of the family that he wished to “have the plug pulled.”  I wrote a long note, basically thanking him for all of the memories and making me feel needed; keeping in touch through email and asking me computer advice.  Unfortunately, my note didn’t reach him in time.  One of his daughters appreciated the letter, and holds on to it.  I then wrote a eulogy that my dad read since I couldn’t make it down to his funeral.  

I never got to say to him everything I wanted to in time.  The same went for my mother’s mother; When I last said goodbye to her, she was lying in bed completely unaware of who I was (I think, although she had a smile on her face and said “see you later” as I left the room.. I then went into a nearby bathroom and cried for 10 minutes).  I still never got to say to her everything I wanted to;  too much time would pass between actual visits due to distance, and parkinson’s is an evil monster.  Dad’s dad moved away and soon died after.  I was too young to thank him for what he did for me.  

I don’t want to do this again.  But I don’t want the other person to presume that I’m assuming he’s going to die from this in the near future.  There’s nothing wrong, however, with saying thanks to a friend who has done so many things for myself and John over the years, whether he’s got 10 weeks or 20 years left.

The thanks aren’t just for helping us buy a house, or leaf blowing our yard, or taking us out to dinner or having us over for dinner.  Those things pale in comparison to what means the most to us:  Your genuine concern for our well being.  Your company. Your advice (it’s like having a “Canadian Father”), whether it’s easy to follow or not, and in some cases you told us what we needed to hear, not necessarily what we wanted to hear.  Your determination to always do the right thing.  John and I both know that you will always have our back, and we will always have yours.  How many people can honestly say that they are lucky enough to have friends like this? Not just someone whose company we enjoy, but someone who has had a profound impact on our lives.

Here’s to you, my friend, and you know who you are.




Dave and John, Hokie and Dexter (and even the cat)

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A Year in Review and What I’m Thankful For…

This coming weekend brings my 15th Canadian Thanksgiving, a tradition I still haven’t gotten used to.  There’s no football on tv and no one here to make me pecan pie.  It’s not particularly cold outside and the malls here aren’t jammed with people looking to do early Christmas shopping.  The only thing that feels Thanksgivingy are the fall colors (colours, whatever!).

Since the last hoser Thanksgiving I got (on my birthday) tickets to a Rush concert from the drummer’s father.  Shortly after things went downhill but I gathered enough courage to face my problems and I saw a shrink.  I told her things I didn’t think I could even tell my dogs in private.  I almost lost but managed to begin rebuilding my relationship with John.  I survived the stress of a ridiculous lawsuit against our store and came out the other end relatively unscathed.  I had a decent season of softball, despite being on yet another lousy team.  Along with 18 home runs, there was virtually no drama on the team.  I even got intentionally walked a few times!  Wicked.

I’m thankful that my dad survived another heart attack, which scared the crap out of me a few weeks ago.  John surprised me with a ticket home and my buddy Joe insisted on picking me up at the airport.  I’m thankful that I have parents like I do, and friends like Joe, who treat me the same as they did before they knew “who” I really was.  They always knew who I really was.

I’m thankful for David, a 19 year old friend who came over every week to watch Dexter and Breaking Bad, to drink a few beer, and to shoot the breeze; and for treating John and I like any one of his other friends.  And for giving me a hug the day I found out about dad’s heart attack.

…And for the other two David’s in my life, you know who you are.  Again for Joe, for Marc, for Terry, the lifer-friends I have.  For Eric, for JD & Stef, and for Tim.  Many others that I haven’t seen in ages but when I do it will be like we saw each other five minutes ago.

For mom.

For John!

I’m also thankful I grew the balls to put 4 grand on my credit card and live the fantasy of baseball camp this January! (Film at 11) Look out, Boog Powell and Chris Hoiles, I’m bringing the heat!

Until next time, be thankful you’re alive.

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43 Year Old Rookie

Too many times in my life the smallest hurdle has been enough for me to throw in the towel and go back to the beginning, and wait for the race to finish without me.  Fear of failure kept me from even trying.  Avoiding tryouts, not coming out to anyone, not going to parties…ugh… At the moment the hurdle is Hokie, trying to gain my attention while I write this blog; nudging my hands away from the laptop keyboard so that I’ll scratch behind her ears.

And from now on, I’ll write here knowing next to no one reads this, and it won’t bother me anymore.  I’m about to embark (hey this sounds corny already) on probably the most challenging adventure of my life and it’s something I’m doing for myself.  Not to make others proud of me, not to prove anything to anybody, but something that will bring me some huge measure of fulfillment that I’ve never experienced before.

I’m going to the Baltimore Orioles fantasy camp January 26, 2014 in Sarasota, Florida.

I realized a long time ago I didn’t have the talent to play major league baseball, but that didn’t stop me from dreaming about it.  And whether or not I did have the talent, I never would have known because I gave up before I started, and there was the little procedure called “knee reconstruction” I endured when I was 16.  I did play for 4 years in Maryland in an adult baseball league, comprised of has-beens, never-weres, and wish they coulda-beens….along with a few guys who just wanted time away from their wives and girlfriends, who probably had no business being on a baseball field (or maybe they had the dream, too.  Who am I to judge?)  My few moments of glory consisted of striking out an ex minor leaguer for the Orioles (me striking him out would explain why he became an “ex” professional) and hitting a homerun & winning the MVP of our league all star game.

However, that was 15 years and 50 pounds ago, and that was only one game a week.  If I’m to play two games a day for one week, with guys who used to play every day for lots of money, I don’t want to embarrass myself.

(Insert Rocky workout-montage music here)

The dream will never be over, but it’s time for me to wake up and do this thing.

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Mother’s Day 2013

Hi Mom

Another mother’s day has come and gone and yet again I couldn’t be there to take you out to dinner, hand you some flowers or even just give you a hug. That doesn’t mean I’m not thinking about you on your day; I think about you every day. I’m always thinking how lucky I am to have you as a mother. You’ve given me respect, support and even tough love when I’ve needed it. I’m sorry it took so long for the subject of John and I to come up to the four of us. I guess I always knew that I would have had nothing to worry about, given your’s and dad’s liberal views. Unfortunately I put it upon myself to live up to society’s standards to the point where I didn’t even know what my own standards were. That in turn became me not wanting to disappoint you and dad, i.e. not submitting to the stereotypical “wife, two and a half kids, 1 dog” scenario. I’m sorry I didn’t let you all in, because looking back I’m sure my life would have been a lot easier. In essence you all didn’t truly know me as much as you had a right to, and because I didn’t let it happen, I never got to know myself until it was almost too late. This has led me to the proclivity (hey look, a word I’ve never used in writing) of withdrawing from people, and almost never giving anyone new a chance. I have kept this from you and dad since the beginning, but since before Christmas I had been going to weekly counselling in Huntsville to try and work out issues I have, and have had. Unfortunately, at $140/hour I decided to stop it after about 10 sessions when the lawsuit finally resolved itself. I kind of regret not going anymore, but I at least have a foundation of where to go from here.

This year I wanted to give you something more substantial than just the standard flowers or phone call. The best thing I could think of was to write you something that I thought had much more meaning. I wanted you to know that I’ve appreciated all of the sacrifices you’ve made over the years; from all of the moving around we did, to you helping me with homework after you’ve had a long day at work, to playing catch with me when dad was in Japan, …playing pac-man with me on the computer when we couldn’t play catch, doing my laundry, making us healthy meals that actually tasted good, taking me to baseball practice (and trying to make me feel better even after a bad game), for all your encouragement, for your example of hard work, for being open-minded and for accepting that I have John in my life. And for a million other things.

…And for being the best mother a guy could have. I love you both more than you could ever know.


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Is This Thing On?

This post will be a rather unorganized (which is all well and good because no one reads it…is thing on? Christ!) bit of stuff but it’s on my mind so here it goes.  

I have had a number of friends distance themselves from me in the last while, but at the same time, I’ve been doing that myself for as long as I can remember.  In college I was invited to come watch the NCAA championship and at the last minute, decide to stay in my dorm room and just lie there, ignoring all the phone calls from the people wondering where the hell I was.  The more I did that, the fewer calls I got.  People could come to mine and John’s apartment years ago, and just before they’d show up, I’d disappear into the bedroom leaving John to come up with some excuse as to why I wasn’t participating.  The more I did that, the less frequent it was anyone else would come over.  Back in 1982 I wasn’t a bad baseball player, and it was the day mom was to drive me to the annual “pitch, hit, and run” competition at Looper’s Field.  I thought I had as good a chance as anyone else to win but I never found out;  as mom circled into the parking lot and started to slow down I told her to forget it, lets just go home.  She was rightfully angry, but probably more frustrated because she didn’t understand why I was being that way.  Neither did I.  Call me the king of bailing.

For one reason or another, and I can’t place the time or place when it all started, I just don’t have any confidence in myself nine days out of ten.  On the tenth day, I figure I’m just lying to myself and stay home with the dogs.  

I don’t think anyone truly enjoys sitting around feeling sorry for themselves; I really don’t but it seems it’s all I do with myself.  I could blame it on being gay.  I could blame it on my sister being Queen popularity all through school and me simply being “Karen’s brother”.  I could say it’s because my parents set such high standards:  My dad went to Vietnam twice, got a Ph.D., can speak 3 languages and to top that all off, can fix cars!  My mother finished university in 3 years and retired a top level executive in her profession.  I don’t know if I have anything to blame it on; I don’t know if it’s a chemical imbalance in my brain or just that I was born cynical and convinced that I shouldn’t try because I’d never amount to much, anyways.

I am always throwing in the towel, no matter the situation.  And like I said, it’s costing me friends and could quite possibly cost me my relationship.  It’s not a healthy to be always second-guess peoples’ motives or actions but I do it all the time.  I can’t remember the last time I took a compliment and genuinely thought the person on the other end meant it.

I’m going to see a shrink in this, my 42nd year.  The first thing I’m going to ask her is “is thing on?”

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Death and Silence

A few months ago my mother’s oldest brother died at age 73 of a staph infection.  He spent the last 2-3 years of his life in a nursing home having nearly given up on the prospect of ever walking again and for the longest time had given up on himself.  Uncle Dick never measured up academically to his other two brothers, or to his sister (my mother).  He never made as much money or was able to express himself as eloquently.  My mother wrote my sister and I an email informing us of his death under the heading “a few thoughts”.  He was different, she said, but not as different where it mattered.  He enjoyed a good joke, worked hard when he was physically able, and loved his family.  During these past few years one of his children never made an attempt to contact him, despite living only a few miles away.  I can only hope that his being gone inspires her to form a better relationship with her own kids; maybe she’ll become less selfish.

More recently my co-op student’s dad died at age 51 of cancer.  Three weeks prior he was diagnosed with cancer.  He was proud of his dad.  Yet, after his death, he seemingly showed no emotion.  Even at age 18, sacrificed expressing his grief so that he could help his mother through hers.

Several weeks ago my parents were due to come up for a week-long visit.  A few days before the trip my father had chest pains after swimming.  I naturally hit panic mode; I didn’t want to see him go through what he did ten years ago during and after his bypass surgery.  I didn’t want to be 600 miles away knowing mom would be carrying the weight of the world on her shoulders.  But lets be honest here;  I was being selfish again.  I want my mom and dad to live forever.  That way I’d always have someone to rely on; someone to help me make difficult decisions that I’ve always been afraid to make.  Maybe this would in my repertoire if someone relied on me.  All I have in that regard are two golden retrievers and it’s difficult to unload on them and get any feedback other than “can we please go for a swim, daddy?”

Sometimes silence in the face of death only causes pain; sometimes it heals.  Some of us don’t know what to say.


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