Having had my sixtieth birthday a couple of days ago, I thought I would share with you a bit of what I have learned from having survived six decades of living on our beloved planet. To say it has been a rollercoaster ride would be an understatement. There have been tears of pain, tears of joy and literally thousands upon thousands of instances where I was silently mouthing the words “WTF” in this college course of what we call the ‘School of Hard Knocks.‘
My first lesson (and yes, your learning experience will continue throughout life for those who are younger), came a few weeks ago when I received a phone call from my family doctor. This would be my slap in the face that welcomed me officially to ‘senior citizen‘ status. What prompted this phone call was for the past few months, I was feeling somewhat sluggish, no energy, irregular sleep patterns, putting on weight that would absolutely not come off and a few more symptoms of something not being right. I had called my mother who informed me that it sounded as though my thyroid might be a little out of whack (as thyroids can be passed from one generation to another and she had been on medication for about 30-years for hers) and a blood test could answer the big question. Doc said ‘come on down, ‘ and he would have blood drawn and see what he could figure out.
Four very large vials of my precious human motor oil later, I was sent home and told, “he would call me in a week or so.” The phone call did come with my doctor sort of snickering when I answered. ‘Hey Ken, do you know what the term “Low-T” means?’ Uh, yea, I think so was my answer. Doc-Yea, well you have “NO-T!” After rubbing my compound “Hi-T” on my wrist and the backs of my arms for the past several weeks, life is looking up. I can’t say the wife is very happy about it. My new found energy has me chasing her around the coffee table. Guys, let me say this, “finding T in a syringe and applying it once a day, I don’t know that I would have been happier had I found a gold mine with gold laying on the top of the ground.“
Reflecting on the past half-century or so, I am also left with some pain. Probably one of the hardest lessons I had to learn was how to deal with the loss of a loved one. This was never easy. Over the past decades, I lost the father I grew up very suddenly on a Saturday morning. He was hit by a truck while riding his motorcycle. One minute you have a dad and the next you don’t. At 16-years-old, needless to say, I was a very bitter young man for many years. My natural father, my grandmother (whom I dearly loved), aunts, uncles, and some classmates and none were easy to say ‘good-bye’ too. Probably the worst of all was the one night when we were working for our friend who had a fireworks stand. My classmate Dougie ran out in the middle of a highway to set off some bottle rockets. A car came down the hill without any lights on, and nobody saw it until it hit Dougie. He flew some 200-feet before landing a crumpled heap on the side of the road. He was dead instantly. To this day, I still occasionally wake up in the middle of the night crying from having dreamed about that night. I’ll never know why God took Dougie that night, but he did.
Without question though, the most painful experience I have had to endure was the loss of my wife of 16-years and my three sons. We had been married some 15 plus years when at 40, my wife had become pregnant again. We honestly thought we had forgotten how that happened (yes, that is tongue in cheek), but we were expecting a late life “oops” and were thrilled. Shortly after my youngest son was born, my wife decided she didn’t want to be married anymore. No explanation, no reasoning, no affair, none of that, she just woke up one morning while I was on the road and decided she now wanted to be single. Unceremoniously she informed me ‘not to come home.’ I was crushed. It felt like someone had ripped my heart out and stomped it. I literally threw up and began crying uncontrollably for probably 18-hours. After the divorce and three years or so had passed, she calls me up one day and apologizes to me. She asked for my forgiveness as it seems, she had been suffering from post-partum depression and that is what caused her to act the way she did. This was the lesson God had given me in learning ‘how to forgive unconditionally.’ There was nothing I could do personally other than to forgive her for destroying my life as I knew it. I ultimately passed that test and today, can talk with her about the boys without breaking down. Of course, it still hurts to have missed out on so much of their growing, but it is what it is.
I have learned much about people over the past decades. I have learned the hard way that if you can find “one true friend,” you’re very fortunate. Back in the old days, when a person shook your hand, it meant something. If a person called you a friend, you were a friend to that person, and you could count on them to be genuine, be truthful and look out for you. Not anymore!
Since entering the world of politics, I have found more liars, more cheats, more deceit than I ever could have imagined. Just recently I had someone that claimed to be a friend (for years I might add) use me to garner a job on a campaign, then fabricate lies and stretch the truth in order to get me fired from the campaign. I WAS THE ONE THAT GAVE HIM HIS JOB! He did this because he was angry that I would not allow him access to the campaign checking account. (That is another story) In lieu of being grateful for this $10,000 a month position I gave him, he decides to seek retribution. The bottom line is this, there is no honor anymore, or it is in serious jeopardy of becoming extinct. People will call you friend because they are seeking something from you rather than actually becoming your friend. This has been a tough lesson for me to learn and the extent of which I have been taken advantage of is appalling.
Yes, indeed, life has been full of lessons over the past 60-years. There have been times; I would give anything to live again. I have earned a fortune, lost a fortune and everything in between. There have been mistakes that I wish I could make right. I have loved people, and I have hurt people (I would give anything for the opportunity to apologize to many of them) more out of stupidity than maliciousness. I have never INTENTIONALLY or willfully sought to hurt anyone. I have eaten dinner with World Champion Boxers, I have had afternoon tea with Royalty from Europe. I have traveled to 29 foreign nations and have shaken hands with 6-Presidents (and one even reads this blog daily I am told). I still have some things on my bucket list, but all in all, this has been a wonderful life. I’ll let you know when I get to a Superbowl, a World Series game and fly a fighter jet. Would I do it all over again?
As Sarah Palin was so famous for saying, “You Betcha”!
The most cherished thing I have learned in this lifetime is; be kind to each other, love each other and help those less fortunate. All the money, all the fame (giving speeches, television interviews, etc.) doesn’t come close to touching how I feel when I can help someone that truly needs it. That is what life is all about!