Sunday, January 29, 2006

A Return To Normalcy, Well, Somewhat

Tomorrow I return to work for the first time since I left December 14th to undergo two separate carpal tunnel surgeries, one on the 15th, one on the 30th. It's been a long six weeks off, and one with mixed reaction.

My right hand handled the surgery fantastically for the most part, sure there was pain, not just from surgery and healing but from therapy as well. But healing wise, the right hand really responded well to the surgery and the therapy. The incision is still quite sore, lots of underlying scar tissue that eventually I'll have broken down thru massage and probably a tear or two.

My left hand was a different story. The carpal tunnel was worse in that hand, and it caused me a lot more pain than the right one did. When the stitches were removed, it decided to do a Moses and the Red Sea bit and it opened back up. There's still a lot of scabbing, still a lot of pain that hasn't decided to leave yet, but I've gone thru my therapy, I'm doing it here at home, and it's time to get back with the program.

I imagine the first few days are going to be a bit hard, mainly because my hands still aren't as dextrous as they need to be, but that will come back. I imagine a few of my co-workers might bless me with a bit of the cold shoulder because I was away from work for as long as I was. Actually, I'm hoping the lot of them are understanding to what I had to go thru, because I sure wouldn't have gone thru all that just to get away from work.

I love my job, I love my customers, and it will be great to see them tomorrow and it will be great to be back out amongst the real world again. Give me a few days, probably a few exhausting ones and frustrating to begin with, but all in all, I'm truly looking forward to heading back to work.

My time served tells me I have less than three years before I can retire. During those years I've got a lot of decisions to make. First and above all else, will I really hang it up when the time comes? As much as I've said yes over the years, now I'm not so sure. I've thought about maybe hanging in there for another year or two, but I'm just not sure. I'd like to go the day I'm eligible, but I don't know if I'm going to be financially able and sound enough to do so.

Thankfully I've got the better part of three years to decide, and until then, I have a great job that I love, a super group of people that I work with, and the best damned customers one could ever ask for. Sure hope I feel like that at this time tomorrow evening...just kidding...

For those of my faithful few, hey, gang, I've made it thru another hurdle. Tomorrow reality heads back, and I'm ready for the ride once again.


Monday, January 23, 2006

Inside The Head Of A Birthfather

We often hear the tales of those birthmothers who, because of their age or their living conditions, they give up the rights to their child at birth, and wonder for years to come whatever became of the child. I've many stories and heard many interviews of these birthmothers, but I've yet to hear one from the birthfather's side. The following is my vision of being inside the head of a birthfather:

Inside The Head Of A Birthfather

It's so hard to imagine that come this August, it will have been 37 years since that faithful afternoon I spent with your Mother in that hot cornfield, parked back towards a woods, the remained of an 8 pack of beer lying on the floor, a couple of joints since burnt and floating in our lungs, and two hits apiece of speed coursing its way thru our bloodstreams.

I remember vividly, almost like it was a few days ago, when I first laid eyes on your Mom dancing to the music of a band called The Glass Calendar at the Young America stage at the state fair. She looked so fine that day, cut off blue top and a pair of white hot pants so tight I wondered how she managed to breathe, but oh, my, she did indeed breathe and when she did she took my breath away. Even though I wasn't a dancer, it didn't take me long to make my way over to her and start talking to her about the band and how good they were.

We talked for a good hour or so, I remember buying her a lemon shake-up, and we took a short walk away from the Young America stage and ended up at the parking lot where my car was parked. We stood outside the car, talked a while longer, and then decided to take a drive around the city and get away from the crowd at the fairgrounds.

Marilyn, such a beautiful name she had, Marilyn found her brother who was over 21 and he was coaxed by her into buying us an 8 pack of beer, which we took out of town a ways and enjoyed, as well as our speed and our reefer. We buzzed so pleasantly together, and before we knew what was happening, we started kissing, slowly at first, then with more passion, and no long after that we managed to find ourselves in the backseat of that white '63 Chevy of mine, naked and doing things that neither one of us had ever done before that day. It was special, not just because of the lust that had been involved, but it had been the first time for each of us, so neither one of us really thought there would be anything to worry about, since both of us were virgins.

I remember getting back to the fairgrounds close to dark and dropping you off. We exchanged phone numbers and addresses, but I think both of us knew that day that it was probably going to just be a one time thing for us. I was only partially right in my thinking.

Six weeks passed, and while sitting home on a Sunday afternoon by myself, Marilyn called, her voice sounding strained, and I asked her what was wrong. She told me that she was late for her period, but she had been late before, and she thought I should know. Here I was, one month into my senior year in high school, as was Marilyn, and I was facing a fear I wasn't prepared for. I knew that if she was pregnant, there weren't many feasible choices. It was, you see, 1969, and back in 1969 a high school girl becoming pregnant usually meant both parents quitting high school and getting married. Even though I had no intention of attending college, I didn't want to have to quit high school when I was close to being a graduate.

I tried not to let this worry me, but Marilyn lived over 50 miles away and I just couldn't pick up a phone and call her without arousing suspicion with her folks, so we agreed that when she learned something she'd call me on a Sunday afternoon, because on most Sunday's my folks were gone for the afternoon.

The call came in early to mid October. Marilyn had an aunt who lived out in one of the far western states and this aunt was an RN. She knew someone in Indianapolis who worked for a doctor, and because Marilyn was over 18 years old, she was able to get into to see the doctor and have the tests to confirm that she was indeed pregnant.

I saw my future right there in front of me, knowing that it was going to be changing from what I had originally planned. I tried to envision telling my parents, breaking both of their hearts, and I just couldn't bring myself to grips to what had happened in the course of a few hours just a couple of months earlier in the backseat of a car. This was when Marilyn laid out the bombshell I wasn't prepared for.

She told me first off, she wasn't giving the baby up for adoption, It was a part of both of us, and even though we neither one were prepared to be responsible parents, she felt that one of us was going to have to be bold enough and make some changes in order to take care of this tiny, yet unborn life.

Marilyn was leaving Indianapolis. She was moving out west to live with her aunt and try and find work so she could be a Mommy the following March. She was going to take night classes so she could get her high school diploma, and she didn't want me to have to tell anyone what had happened. She told me that all that would do would be bring hurt upon too many people, bring two people together into a marriage that was doomed from the start and would probably put a little child's emotions at risk because of the tensions that would exist between its young parents who really didn't want to be married to each other.

I couldn't believe that she was willing to make such sacrifices, but she said she had thought long and hard about it, and after speaking with her aunt and her parents, they decided it was the only course of action to take. To my knowledge she never told her parents who the father of the child was or where he came from. She would let me give her no money, she wouldn't even give me a telephone number where I could reach her once she moved.

I talked to her twice before she made her move out west, and one time right before Christmas I called her house to see how she was doing and her Mother answered the phone and told me that Marilyn had moved a couple of weeks before I had called. She didn't ask who I was, but I think she knew, because she told me that Marilyn didn't want anyone to know how to get hold of her. I asked her Mom if she was okay, and she told me that she would be okay and that her life had started over. She never read me out, questioned me or gave me any more information than that. She did ask me to keep Marilyn in my prayers, though, and I have ever since that only time I ever spoke with her mom.

One day, the following spring, about a month before I graduated, I received a long distance call from Marilyn. She told me that I had become the physical father of beautiful little girl, a little girl who bore the feminine version of my name and Marilyn's last name. I asked her if she was happy and getting along, and she said yes to both questions. I asked her if I would ever get a chance to see my little girl, and she told me, no, probably not, because that would only cause problems and she wanted the best for "our" little girl, and best meant that I should never be a part of her life. I was responsible for giving her life, but I would not be responsible for her continuation of life.

Marilyn told me she held no grudge, that it was a mistake we both had made together, and she told me she made the decision to raise our daughter on her own, as best she could. I offered to start sending support money to her after I graduated high school and found a job, but she told me the best support I could give her was to pray for her and give her the distance she needed and not to try and contact her, ever. She also told me that the on the afternoon we spent together for just those few short hours she had fallen in love with me and would never do anything to louse up my life, because as much as she cared, she knew that by trying to be a responsible husband and wife with a little child would probably kill us both. Before she hung up she told me she still loved me and she hoped I understood the decisions she had made. She said she knew it wasn't fair to keep me out of the decision making process, but she was doing it because of the love she had for me and our little girl. I asked her when I'd hear from her again and she told me whenever she felt the time was right.

A year passed, then a year and a half, and by this time I had married and had a son of my own. I was working in retail, assistant manager of the store, and the phone rang one afternoon at the store and it was Marilyn. She told me she had to do some calling around, but she found out my home phone number, found out where I worked and called me there to let me know how things were going for her and to tell me she was visiting her family here for a few days. Naturally I asked her if I could see her and our little girl, and although hesitant at first, she told me she'd figure out a time to meet and call me back so I could finally see our little girl.

That call never came.

The year that call came was 1974 and it was the last one. I never heard from Marilyn again nor have any idea whatever became of her and our daughter.

Over the years I've often wondered what became of them, what became of her parents. I tried to contact her folks, and the phone number I still had that she had given me that day in August of 1969 was now the number of a different family, and they had never heard of Marilyn or of her family.

I've wondered over the years if Marilyn ever married, had other children or what career her life had gone. I knew that in 1974 during our last phone conversation she told me she still wasn't seeing anyone and that she had herself become involved in the medical profession and was studying to become, like her life saving aunt, an RN.

I've wondered about the little girl I helped father and give life to, and have wondered what direction her life has gone, whether she has children of her own, where she lives or for that matter if she's still alive. I have no answers to any of these questions, all I have are unanswered questions.

Chances are escaping me each and everyday that I'll ever know. If my "daughter" is still living, she's going to turn 36 years old this year. Chances are she has a great father who adopted her, gave her his name and raised her and gave her everything I was unable to give her. She's probably given her father and her mother grandchildren, and chances could be that she has kids the same age her Mom and I were when we met that day back in '69.

A part of me is out there somewhere that I'll probably never know or ever have the pleasure of knowing anything about. This was my punishment for not being responsible enough with my common sense at an age when common sense is challenged all the time.

I take this opportunity to "thank" Marilyn for all her unselfishness and the burden she carried for me and how she protected me from a mistake that we both shared in. I am sometimes so overcome with guilt, wondering if I could have tried maybe just a little bit harder in trying to find them. I only know that I did what she asked me to do at the time and have always wondered if it was the right thing. It was what she asked me to do, but I still ask myself many, many times over the years did I make the right decision by following Marilyn's wishes.

And Charlotte, if you're out there and you ever read these words and wonder if just maybe the guy that wrote them might be the guy your wonderful Mom Marilyn told you about, I'll leave that decision up to you.

I only know my life is incomplete without knowing whatever became of you.

And I hope you don't hate me for the choices I lived with and have cursed myself for over 30 years for having made.

God bless you, Honey....

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Inner Turmoil

On the outside
I appear happy and content,
While inside
A war wages within.

These past few weeks
As I've sat and recovered,
My mind has been busy,
Working overtime to come to grips
With aspects of my life
I have no control over.

I seek for solace, compassion
Yet I find only turmoil
And unanswered questions.

I pray for strength,
Yet I feel so weak and out of

My mind resolves itself
To finding solutions,
My hands come up empty,
My emotions spent.

I care so deeply
Despite trying to turn my heart
Cold and disinterested.

Time is no longer an ally,
But an enemy
As each day that passes is one more
I cannot regain.

I have no more answers now
Than I did a month ago,
And more questions now
Than I did back then.

And the clock keeps ticking....