Rollin’ up on 52April 8, 2021
Getting ready for work today and it dawned on me, that in about a handful of days I will be fifty two. I have a lot to look back on, a lot of accomplishments in my life, and a lot more to be thankful for. The ability to push aside my disappointment in myself for the things I failed to accomplish, or the things I did and regret is a little easier today than it was only a few weeks ago. There’s always going to be that thump in your chest when you let an old emotion or feeling invade the present, but with some help from family, friends, and professionals, that happens less and less as time goes by.
When I was in my early twenties, starting my career in the Air Force I couldn’t imagine making it to retirement, let alone to the “ripe old age of fifty”. Here I am regardless, a failed marriage but I did get three of the best humans ever out of that, a mediocre career in the Air Force but I have life long brothers in arms, a steady retirement check and affordable healthcare from it. I feel beyond lucky to still have my parents with me today, and I have strengths from each of them in different ways. I have my sister who is quietly my best friend and keeper of so many truths about me I would hate to see her write my biography.
Who would have suspected that a guy that barely graduated high school, dropped out of college, and held a minimum wage job at a hardware store for several years would be able to finish 23 years in the military, earn a couple associates degrees, a bachelors degree, keep his head above water while his life dissolved around him, rebuild from almost nothing, and come out the other side hopeful for the future?
I did none of this alone. I struggled through high school (shit, I struggled in SCHOOL), but with my parents encouragement (and sometimes “aggressive” guidance) I met the minimum and received my diploma. My father afforded me the opportunity to attend college but (this seems to be a recurring theme) a broken heart stifled any ambition or fortitude to finish that task. My first 12 years in the Air Force were thanks to my family’s support, the many friends and mentors I met along the way, and my cat Elvis (I miss you buddy). Around my twelve year mark I changed my life forever when I got married and we had children. I can not in all honesty not thank the whom of my children for her work during the last half of my military career (who would have know she would have turned out to be such a Peach in the end). I would not have been able to finish my four year degree with out the absolute genius of one professor, who’s name eludes me right now, but she was AMAZING at showing the different ways to accomplish the assigned tasks in Algebra (still leaves a bad taste in my mouth! Numbers and Letters are oil and water, don’t mix them together!), and finally the last 5+ years, I absolutely have to make it very clear, I did not survive on my good looks and wit alone. My dad let me move in, later let me and my oldest move in, supported us while I was still paying all the bills on my previous home, and has always provided an open ear and been my sounding board for so many things. My mom though, that woman has been my hero for as long as I can remember. From being my sister and my unwavering supporter, to holding judgement while we made our life’s mistakes then holding us while we fell apart, to showing us what it takes to recover from love’s loss, parents passing, and a rash of pets growing old at the same time and having to be let go. I get a knot in my throat when I bounce the thoughts of what me as her son have put her through, the steady hand she always offers me, and the hugs only a mom can give no matter what your life’s choices have been.
As I roll up on five decades and two years of life, I can’t help but wonder how far I would have gone if I had put in just a little more effort, held my convictions a little longer, or reached out for help before it was too late. Where would I be if I had said yes to missed opportunities, risked a little more for the next rung in the ladder of life, and said no to situations I knew weren’t going to end well.
I also look back on the people and accomplishments I’m most proud of. My kids have been a reflection of myself in so many ways, unique to one another, amazing in their individual talents, temperament, and kindness. A career I’m most proud of for the work I did, the people I helped, and the retirement I achieved. My education because I am not a person that does well with homework, or learning textually, but hands on, do it to learn it kind of thing. It took longer than four years to reach that goal, but I’m proud of it none the less.
Finally, I am simply proud of my family. From my mom and dad, all the way down to my three kids. I’m proud of my grandparents, and the lives they led. I’m proud of so many things I’ve been able to be apart of. Born into the family I’m proud of, or joining the military that gives me a mental fist bump when I remember so many different times. I’m proud to be here today, writing this on this web site, that’s running on a server I built, configured, and designed. I’m proud of the car’s I have owned and repaired, the knowledge, that knowledge is power, and I’m proud of everyone that’s put up with my shit, my temper, and my whack-a-mole mood swings for so many years, I owe everyone a big heart felt thank you, and this hug is for you.