Wednesday, March 30, 2011

SURVIVAL Part F: The Death of My Best Friend

  Kevin and I met a restaurant in August 1983 where he was already employed as a waiter and I had just been hired, we were coworkers.
 He and I hit it off right away. The restaurant had previous to Kevin, only hired waitresses, Kevin was the first waiter, I was the second.
  Thus began a wonderful friendship, we were young, he was twenty four and I was twenty six. We laughed a lot, he had a great sense of humor, acting silly and making jokes. Being his friend was easy.
  We became each others confidants quickly. I remember one time I planned a surprise birthday party for him at a restaurant called "Ed Debevic's." It was a fifties type burger joint. It was a birthday luncheon surprise and all of the guests, primarily co-waiters and waitresses, had to work that evening. Kevin was so drunk by the time we started work, that at one point he stood in the middle of his section and asked loudly, "Is everybody doing alright?" We all roared with laughter.
  Kevin was quite a character, I loved him. As time went on we became even closer.I eventually met all five of his brothers and sisters, both of his parents and even his grandmother.
  We used to console and advise each other on  our various love life foibles. I valued his opinion greatly as he did mine.We talked on the phone nearly every day.
 As sometimes happens, when you become involved in a love type relationship, some people put their friends on the back burner for a while. We both did this to each other on at least one occasion.  Fortunately, our bond was very strong and our friendship never floundered.
 Kevin became involved with a guy named Cliff, they had many happy years together until Cliff developed HIV and eventually AIDS. Kevin was a great caregiver to Cliff until his inevitable death. I admired him
 for that. I remember near Cliff's passing, Kevin told me that Cliff had changed his beneficiary from his mother to Kevin. Even though he had filled out the necessary paperwork, he had never given it to The City Colleges of Chicago, where he was employed. I knew Cliff's death was imminent, so I told Kevin you must get those papers to Cliff's employer before he passes away. Fortunately he took my advice.
 The day before Cliff's demise Kevin and I sneaked in their dog KC (K stood for Kevin and C for Cliff) into the hospital where Cliff was a patient. Apparently Cliff had been asking about their dog and Kevin felt he was "hanging on " until he saw their dog. We obliged. We were in cahoots with a couple of the nurses. Within forty eight hours of seeing their dog, Cliff succumbed.
  I was so priviledged and honored to be with Kevin and be his support through this tough period in his life.
 A few years later he and I went on vacation to Key West. We had a blast. This was our second trip to Florida together. Kevin was great company, never any pressure, no jealousy, we could really just be ourselves together--enjoy each other and we did.
  He ended up having another relationship, bought a condo and was happy for a while. After a few years that union went south. I was there for him. It was after that failed relationship that he and I decided to get a place together. All went well until that dreadful fire which I have written about in an earlier blog.
  As I look back on how I handled that occurence, I feel regret. A year and a half after the fire, Kevin had been living in Florida with his oldest sister. Given the circumstances surrounding his departure, he and I never spoke. I was at a street fair here in Chicago and ran into a mutual friend of Kevin and mine. She asked me if I had heard about what had happened to Kevin. I told her no. She informed me that he was very ill and in the hospital. She went on to say he had liver cancer. I was shocked and very concerned. I immediately started trying to get more information.
 I called his friend (someone I thought was my friend also). His friend screamed and yelled at me over the phone. He was upset with me over how Kevin and I had parted ways. He said if I were really friends I would already know what was going on with Kevin. He would not give me any phone numbers either of the family or of the hospital.
  I did manage to locate the hospital. I was financially unable to fly to Florida. My boyfriend told me to send a card, and quick. I followed his advice and immediately sent a card  telling him how sorry I was for what had happened between us. In the card I told him how much  I loved him and I had never stopped loving him, in spite of my actions and words to the contrary. I went on to say I didn't care what had happened in our past. I wanted him to focus on getting better, know how much I loved and cared for him. I mailed it right away.
 A week later I had heard from his niece he was doing better, that feeling of relief didn't last long. I asked her if he received and read my card. She did not know. I was crestfallen. A few days later on a Saturday morning his niece called me. I was expecting to hear he was much better. She through her tears, told me he had died the night before. Kevin was only forty five years old.Why hadn't I been there? Why hadn't I found out earlier? Why did this happen at all? Endless forever unanswered questions. The biggest question to me was, did he get my card before he passed away?
  About six weeks later there was a memorial service for Kevin here in  Chicago. He wanted his ashes spread over Lake Michigan. His entire family attended. When I arrived on that beautiful, sunny warm August day, I was apprehensive about how I would be received by his family, given what had happened between us. His oldest sister welcomed me with open arms, I was loved and honored to be there. The service was beautiful.
 The entire episode of what happened between Kevin and I is a prime example of actions and their consequences. It was quite an expensive lesson to learn, one I may pay for the rest of my life. Losing a friend you were so close to for so long, is a difficult thing to go through to say the least. He taught me about mending fences. I try to resolve disputes as quickly as possible now. I try to be careful not to let petty disagreements fester into unresolvable rifts whenever possible.
 On a final note, Kevin's oldest sister said the card I sent had indeed been read to Kevin before he left this life. I take some solace in that fact. I know now, whereever he is, Kevin knows I think about him and carry our memories as best friends in my heart , always.
  I love and miss you Kevin.....

Saturday, March 26, 2011

SURVIVAL Part E: The Fire

 If you have never experienced a home fire, you have no idea of it's impact or devastation, it is a life changing event.
 My best friend, of nineteen years, Kevin and I finally were able to get an apartment together and live as roommates. This was years in coming and just to clarify, a platonic relationship. We were very close, in the first years of our friendship, each of us were in and out of romantic relationships but finally we were both single at the same time.We decided to share an apartment together.
  We had been living together for a year and a half. In January 2004 I was leaving the apartment to meet a friend for lunch. Kevin was off that day and had a dentist's appointment at 1:00. When I left home he was doing laundry. I told him I would be back in the late afternoon or early evening, and wished  him luck at the dentist.
  Little did I know what was about to unfold that day. About 3:00 in the afternoon, the person I was having lunch with received a call on her cellphone, it was Kevin. I can't remember why he didn't call me directly. Nonetheless, she hands me her phone and he is hysterical. It took me a while to understand what he was saying. Finally, through his tears and hysteria he explained that while he was gone for two hours, there had been a fire in  our apartment. This was not just a small kitchen fire, it rendered our apartment uninhabitable.
  The fire began in Kevin's room, it was burnt completely, then the fire moved into the adjacented dining room. The heat was so intense that the smoke detector above the doorway leading to Kevin's room melted and ran down the wall.
  Every window in the entire two bedroom apartment  was broken out by the fireman in an attempt to confine and put out the fire. The apartment was laid out in such a way, that the living room and my bedroom were toward the front and Kevin's room, the dining room, and the kitchen were toward the back.
  Every personal item Kevin owned, photos, mementos, furniture and clothing was lost. He was left with nothing. The dining room was completely lost, the black lacquer hutch, the glass top table, all eight chairs, artwork etc, all ruined, unsalvageable.
  There was black soot everywhere, all over the walls and ceilings of every room, and of course the smell of smoke permeated every square inch of everything.
  Since I was in the suburbs, I ended up spending the night with my friend and her family at their home. Kevin spent the night at a neighboring friend's house. All of this happened on a Thursday.
  The next day I was overwhelmed with the devastation, as was he. The horror of the damage had to take a backseat on Friday, we had to find a place to live and quick. Fortunately, the building owners had several properties and I ended up taking a one bedroom apartment, an apartment that was quite a step down from the beautiful place where Kevin and I had previously lived.
  Unknown to me at the time, immediately after the fire, Kevin had made a decision to move in with his sister in Florida. This came as an unexpected surprise to me. The implications of his decision and it's impact on me I will discuss in a later blog. Right now I want to stay focused on the fire and it's immediate affect on our lives.
  I remember walking into the apartment on Saturday morning and being totally overwhelmed by the damage the fire had caused. I didn't know what to do or where to start. I was romantically involved at the time, and I called my boyfriend in complete hysterics, barely able to form words. He, being a calm and rational person by nature and not being personally affected (except for how it related to our relationship)  by the fire,  was able to calm me down. He said that our goal for that day was to move, by hand, enough of my salvageable items to my new apartment across and down the street. Our attainable goal was to spend the night in my new one bedroom apartment. His calmness and rational thinking, in the eye of my storm, helped me so much. Now I had a goal for that day, something that could be accomplished and I focused on that. My boyfriend came over within two hours and we began carrying, by hand, my bed, the couch, and anything salvageable to my new place. His participation and help in this dire situation is something I will never forget. He helped me through one of the toughest times of my life. I will forever be beholding to him for that. Let me just say that I have been through more than enough pitfalls in my life, but that fire remains near the top as a life changing event.
 It changed where I lived, it changed my relationship with my best friend, it was financially devastating and ultimately led to health problems.
  Within two weeks of the fire I developed a blood clot in my right leg. I was drilling a hole through the wall to install cable television in another room. I must have been sitting in a weird position, for too long a time period, the result, a blood clot.
  I went to the hospital  immediately, having had several blood clots previous to that period, I knew what I had to do. I also knew what lay ahead for me. Fortunately, the clot was able to be dissolved. The procedure to dissolve the clot was very unpleasant, to say the least. It required an angiogram of my right leg, followed by a procedure called a TPA.  Don't ask me what that stands for but it involved having a cathater remain in the vein of my leg, while a very potent blood thinning solution dripped continously until the clot dissolved. This procedure necessitated my being in intensive care. The risks included spontaneous bleeding from any number of areas of my body. In an attempt to avoid this bleeding, I had to lie completely immobile until the dangerous solution dissolved the clot, this could take anywhere from twenty four to indefinite period of time, most uncomfortable and scary.
  Removal of the cathater although, tolerable, required another twenty four hour period of lying completely still. After all of that, I had to be reintroduced to my oral blood thinner (coumadin). I could not leave the hospital until it reached a thereputic level, this takes several days.
 All the while, I wondered where Kevin was. Why hadn't he called or come to visit me? This was, at the time most hurtful to me. Again, as discussed in a previous blog, I felt abandoned by him. I understood what he had been through with the fire, but so had I. In addition to the fire, I was also faced with serious health issues. Kevin told me he knew I was not alone, that I had a boyfriend. This is true, but a romantic relaionship is different than a friendship of nineteen years, at least to me. I also needed my best friend.
  At that time, I felt that Kevin should have attempted to come and visit me or at least called. Perhaps that was selfish of me, however that is how I felt. This lead to a great rift in our relationship, a rift that would never be bridged. I needed Kevin at that time in my life and he wasn't or perhaps couldn't be there for me. Shortly after I got home from the hospital, Kevin moved Florida.
 We never found out the cause of the fire. Because the fire started in his bedroom and because he smoked, in his mind he felt I blamed him for the fire. I never blamed him, it wasn't the fire I was upset with him about. Rather, it was his not taking the time to visit me while I was in the hospital that was most hurtful. Before  he left for Florida, over the telephone, I told him how I felt. Specifically, I said I don't blame you for the fire but I was hurt by your seeming lack of concern for me during my hospital stay.
 We never saw each other again after I got home from the hospital. We never got to say good bye to each other. I regret that to this day. Just writing this brings tears to my eyes. I love him, and I miss him. If I could do it all over again, things would be different. I know he knows now, he was and is loved by me.
  Regret is a difficult thing to live with, it can haunt you  if you let it. As Kevin has passed away several years ago, I know whereever he is, he knows how much I love him and miss him. As horrific as that fire was, it pales in comparsion to the loss of my friendship with Kevin. A loss that cannot be regained in this lifetime. Most regretable....


Thursday, March 24, 2011

SURVIVAL Part D: Physical and Psychological Abuse

  As far as I am concerned there are not many excuses for resorting to physical or mental abuse and or violence. I suppose with regard to physical abuse, there are only two justifiable reasons. First, the obvious is self defense. If someone is physically attacking you, I believe you are justified in fighting back. This doesn't always mean you will be strong enough to stop the abuse, but I feel it is only natural to fight back as a means of survival. The other instance would be to help defend another person, especially a child, a woman, the disabled, and someone who is ostensibly weaker than the abuser. Physical abuse is not only limited to a man against a woman, but also, woman against woman and even man against man. If the abuser has a size and weight advantage over the victim, even if it is two men, sometimes society allows such abuse, because after all it is two men.
  I have been a victim of physical abuse. I was living with a guy who was much bigger than I am. This nameless person, who in the beginning of the relationship, was a great person. Over time however, he changed. This change was the result of drugs and alcohol. I found myself involved with a person, who would stay up late at night drinking and doing cocaine. Naturallly, as a result he would sleep until time to go to work in the afternoon and then repeat the cycle all over again. Meanwhile, I was working at a job and spending much of my money and energy fixing up his house. All the while he was saying he would put my name on the mortgage, that never happened.
  Finally after a year and and a half of living this way, I had had enough. When I confronted him on these issues he flew into a rage. Suffice it to say, I found myself lying on the floor, while his 230 pound body sat on my 155 pound body, with his hands around my neck pounding my head into the floor.Thankfully I was able to escape. I ran out the door, barefoot, with no coat in December in Chicago.
  I spent the night at a friend's house. My friend called the guy I was living with and he was inconsolable. He was ranting and raving, claimed he had a gun and if he saw me he would killl me. He was in such a rage fueled alcohol and cocaine, that even to this day I believe I escaped with my life.
  After he left for a ten day Christmas trip to his family's home in Detroit, I made my move. I rented an apartment and went back to his place to retrieve my furniture, clothing and other personal belongings. In my absence before he left, during his binge, he took a knife and slashed all fifteen paintings I had created. I was shocked and dismayed at his lack of respect for the paintings I had worked so hard on, with passion, to create. Any chance of working out our problems ended in my mind, with the physical attack.  I did not deserve it, and was not going to live that way.  When I saw how visciously he had destroyed something so precious to me, I knew any respect I ever had for him was gone.
  When you lose respect for another there is nothing left. In his absence I moved  all that belonged to me to my own place. I never saw him again. I spoke on the phone to him only once. I told him what he had done both mentally and physically and it's affect on my life. I think I may have wished him well but there would be no chance of a reconciliation in any form.
  Subsequently, a year or so later he sold his place, made a huge profit, some of it from my investment of money and sweat. I never got  a penny. He moved to Florida, and about a year after, I heard through mutual friends, he had ended his own life. Upon hearing of his death my initial response was, "what a waste of a life."
  It  was a sad circumstance for him and his family. I had tried to get his family to intervene on his behalf. Perhaps get him into some sort of rehab program, as far as I know that never happened. I realize his family was in denial about the seriousness of his problems.
  It has taken me along time to forgive him for what he did to me. I realize that forgiveness is somethng you do for youself not for the person being forgiven. Carrying around hatred and venegence for another only allows them to still have power over you.
  What  happened to him, what he chose to do, deeply saddens me still. What a tradegy for him and his family.
 For a long time I kept those slashed paintings as a reminder of what he had done. A few years later I became involved with another guy, who asked me why I had not thrown them away. I told him I never wanted to forget what he had done to me. My new boyfriend said he felt that it was unhealthy to keep those as a reminder. Forgiveness would never come  if didn't throw away the ruined paintings and move on. He was right, I took his advice, threw away the paintings and began the journey to forgiveness. He also said you can forgive someone without forgetting, this was life lesson. Don't let yourself let another person have power over your happiness.
  I realize that there are victims of physical and mental abuse, who continue to live in that environment. I understand fully that it is scary to move out on your own. I understand many women stay in abusive relationships out of fear, because of their children, lack of money, lack of education, and a million other reasons. No other human being, no matter what their sex, has a right to physically or mentally abuse another. I know it takes strength and tenacity to leave and start over again. You must beleve in yourself, know that you are loved by God and you are never really alone.
  I wish it were possible to transfer strength from one person to another, because I would gladly transfer some of my strength to anyone who has become a victim of abuse in any of it's forms.
  Know that strength comes from God and God is within you. Your job is to pull it out from within, do it for yourself first, so that you can pass it on to your children, and your children's children. Just because you have been a victim does not mean you must remain a victim.
  Let go, let God be your strength, take it from me, it works. I do it all the time.

Monday, March 21, 2011


Sometimes when a person trys to make a clarification they can inadvertantly implant an idea in another, that the person  may never of thought to begin with. This is a chance I am willing to take because it is important to me that you, my reader, understand fully why I have written what I have.

First of all, I didn't write about the problems I have incurred in my life, to evoke sympathy from my readers. I don't want you to think, oh poor Glenn, look what he has been through. Rather, I am simply giving you background information so that you may understand more fully how and why I have drawn the conclusions that I have.

With regard to what I wrote concerning HIV,  I never intended to dimiss or make light of the pain and suffering of victims who have succumbed to AIDS. I understand all too well the pain and suffering that I have personally witnessed, as a person's life ran the full course of the AIDS disease. I have also witnesssed the aftermath of the loved ones left behind. I was NOT saying if their attitude, were more positive, they would have survived. I was stating what I genuinely believe was true for me in my life at that time, and currently.

Anyone who was offended by what I wrote, know that I apologize. I would never be so arrogant as to think I saved my own life because I had a better attitude toward HIV than anyone else. I don't feel superior. I do however believe that my feelings and beliefs at that  time and currently has helped ME prolong my life.

One could and has asked, "Why didn't it work with respect to your blood disorder that led to the loss of your legs?" The answer is I don't know why. I did everything possible from denial, remaining positive, visualizaation, and of course prayer. No one knows what lies around the corner for us in our lives, be it good or bad.

All I can say is that I remain positive that the loss of my legs is somehow going to turn out positive for me or help me to influence and hopefully help others. These are my wishes and I hope and pray this becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy.

I would never want anyone to think I was preaching to them about how to live their lives. I want to share  my experiences with you and it is my desire that through this sharing, you will get to know me and perhaps help you in some small way.

In reality I can't wait until I have finished writing the heading I call "Survival." Writing about my sometimes unpleasant experiences cause me pain. Delving into the past and putting it into words, is more painful and upsetting than I thought it would be. However, I feel it is a necessary component to this blog, if you are going to understand me and my feelings, fully. It is this understanding that necessitates  the review of my life.

After I get through this "Survival" portion of my blog, I want to exspound on the happiness and joys of my life. I am going to thank all  of the members my family, friends and the professionals who have helped me in so many ways and so many times.

Please bear  with me as I try to get through the unpleasant aspects of my life, so we together can explore some of the great joys I have received. The wonderful people I have had the blessing of knowing and of the lessons they have all taught me. Thank You.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

SURVIVAL Part C: Divorce

People who are close friends or relatives will already know much of what I am going to write, however, they may not know how I feel it has affected my life.

My parents were married and divorced from each other twice. Now I realize that nearly fifty percent of the population come from broken homes, so some may say many people have survived such an occurrence. I myself may have agreed and in the past, I had not given it much thought. A close friend pointed out he felt it had affected my adult feelings and behavior, upon closer observation, I think he may be right.

In 1964 my parents got divorce number one. I remember when my mother decided  to send my brother, my sister and myself to live with my father. I know she felt that she could not provide for us, as she was uneducated and unskilled. I genuinely believe she felt we would live a better life with him. I believe as a mother she made a heart wrenching decision that came from feelings of love.

I remember, even though I was only seven years old, riding in a red cab to my grandmother's house, where I think my father was staying at the time. My father raised us alone for the next five formulative years. My grandmother also played a pivotal role, excercising much influence and participation in our upbringing. As an adult, looking back, I realize what great sacrifices my father made, being a twenty eight year old man, single, raising three children ages nine and under. Back in the sixties, men did not usually raise children, except in the case of the death of their spouse.

How do all these facts figure into a case for survival? As I mentioned before, my friend spoke of the effects of divorce on my adult life. I must say after much introspection, I have always felt feelings of potential rejection by others, at least on a subconscious level.
  Fortunately, my parents second divorce was less traumatic for me as I was nineteen by then. However, my youngest sister was born during their second marriage. How their second divorce affected her only she can say.

I feel  that coming from a broken family, especially twice, cannot help but affect all the lives of those involved. For me, it seems to have manifested with buried feelings of potential rejection. These feelings are something I am still trying to come to terms with, trying to understand all relationships will not end up broken. Luckily, I have several friendships that have lasted many many years, I am very thankful for that.

On a more positive note I feel coming from a family of divorce, has made me a stronger person. That strength and sense of autotomy have served me well in my adult life.

Friday, March 18, 2011


When I was diagnosed with HIV way back in 1985, I never saw it as a death sentence. I never believed that I would succumb to this disease. That frame of thought has served me well. In twenty-six years I have only had one serious bout with the disease and I overcame it quicklly and fully. HIV is the least of my health issues.

For some unknown reason, I immediately dismissed the notion that AIDS would cause my death. There were many people over the years that I knew, who were diagnosed with AIDS, and shortly thereafter, within a year or two, died as a result. Why? Some speculate that there are carriers of the disease who never become symptomatic and there are those who do become symptomatic and die as a result. I don't know if that is true or untrue. I only know that my observations have indicated that your belief in the fatality of the disease has a direct correlation to going from HIV positive, to developing full blown AIDS and subsequently dying.

Some may say you were just one of the lucky ones who didn't develop symptoms right away. Well, all I know is twenty-six years later, I am still here. In fact, I was asymptomatic for nineteen years, to the degree of not requiring any medication to treat the disease.

After a troublesome period in my life, the onset of this blood problem, a traumatic fire and other problems, my body for the first time began to lose it's ability to fight the HIV infection. It was in 2004 that I started taking HIV medication for the first time.  Luckily I was able to forestall the disease until medications were developed that allow one to live a normal life. Unlike the early days of the onset of AIDS, when the drug regimen was much more toxic and with terrible side effects.  I am thankful for the development of better more effective medications with little or no side effects. Medications that allow me to live a normal productive life.

I have always and continue to believe that my immediate dismissal of the fatality of AIDS led to my survival of this insidious disease. I don't believe it was just a matter of luck. I believe  my attitude toward the disease helped me to survive it. Where this dismissal midset came from, I'm not sure, I'm just happy to have it.

On the flip side of that coin, the blood disorder I have, hypercoaguability, I have not been so lucky. As we know know,  it has resulted in the loss of both of my legs. Why I wasn't as lucky with this disease as HIV I will never know. What I do know is this, I am and will continue to fight it and live as fulfilling a life as possible. Like it says in the Bible, "I have fought the good fight. I have finished the race, I have kept the faith." 2 Timothy 4:7.

This may sound trite, but there is much truth to the adage, "it is not what you are dealt  in life that matters, but rather how you deal with what you are dealt, that really matters."

I would never have thought that I would have the strength to deal with my loss, I contnue to be surprised  and pleased with myself  in this regard.

For some unknown reason I keep hearing a small voice inside my head that says, "the best of your life is yet to come." How is that possible? I think that small voice is God. I am going to listen to that voice, it gives me strength, strength to finish the race.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

SURVIVAL Part A: Bullying

As I described in my profile I am a gay man. Having been born and raised in the Midwest, being gay is/was unacceptable. Recently I was looking at some old photographs,  some of which contained images of me. I was struck by the fact that even in photos of as young as age seven or eight years old, my mannerisms appeared somewhat effeminate.

I  guess it should not be surprising that I was made fun of, called a sissy, even by members of my extended family. Of course at such a young age I knew nothing about sexually appropriate behavior, what would be considered masculine or feminine, I was just being myself.

Unfortunately, this "being made fun of" carried over into high school. Now as I reflect upon it, this was bullying, pure and simple. It made my high school days pure misery. I remember one guy in particular, who was in my homeroom who was relentless in his ridicule. He made it common practice to call me fag, queer, and homo out loud infront of thirty students --humiliating. It made me very sad and I felt defenseless.

I suppose as a coping mechanism, I  became what they called in those days a hippie. I grew my hair long and started hanging out with a different crowd of people. Being a member of that group of students, disguised my homosexuality to a degree. At least being a member of the "cool" group, meant my sexuality was not questioned, I was accepted. On the downside of that, we smoked, drank, did drugs and participated in all kinds of distructive behavior. I really believe that in order to escape the persecution of bullies in high school, I turned to a different lifestyle to cover up my sexuality. It worked.

As I became an adult I came to terms with my sexual identity. I also learned to act more masculine. Today I would not consider myself effeminate, nor do most other people.

Further, I met other gay people and discovered that there was an entire population like me. It was a joyous discovery for me. No longer did I feel alone, unaccepted or "different." I moved to Chicago in 1980, a much larger city, where gay lifestyle was more accepted by the general population.

Every time I hear or see stories of young gay men or women "being made fun of," bullied, I feel it in the pit of my stomach. I am catapultated into my past. My heart aches for those young adults and what they are going through. It is a trevesity of epic proportions, that other people through their relentless, inescapable bullying can drive young and even sometimes older gay men and women to suicide.Today with all the avenues of communication, the internet, cell phones, and texting the bullying is impossible to escape. It is heart wrenching for me to hear  of the horror and mistreatment they endure.

We as adults have a responsibility to stop the bullying in our schools and avenues of communication. We begin by modifying our own behavior and subsequently reinforcing it to our children--so that they do not grow up to be bullies. But even that is not enough, our young people must be taught compassion for others who may be diffeent from them. This also should include race, religion, height, weight, socio-economic status, hair color, and sexual preference. You don't have to agree with their lifestyle to realize that making fun  of someone just because they are diferent from you is wrong.

Idolly standing by while someone is being rediculed is like aiding and abetting. You as a human being have a reponsibility to others by interveening in these situations. Your lack of involvement, could inadvertantly lead to another person's suicide.

For me, I found an escape from the bullying by joining a group, as destructive as it may have been, I found relief from bullying. Had the bullying never occurred who know how different my life may have been.  I survived the episodes of bullying by graduating from high school early (I was also a good student). Some however, do not have the fortitude or strength I have and some have succumbed to the torture of bullies.

This torture can manifest itself in a myriad of ways from alcololism, drug addication, self mutalization, and sometimes the ultimate tradegy, suicide. Sad, very sad indeed.  

Wednesday, March 9, 2011


One thing that the loss of my legs has revealed to me is the amazing human body. Here we are well into the new millennium and prosthetic limbs cannot even come close to replicating God given limbs. Don't misunderstand me, I appreciate that they exist and of the progress the prosthetic industry has made  in recent years, but compared to limbs with which you are born, they  pale in comparison.  Perhaps someday they will be able to transplant legs, after all, now an entire face can be transplanted.

I recently finished a new painting and I was thinking of the intricate movement of my arm and fingers that allow me to paint the delicate blades of grass in a  field of wheat, pretty amazing. A new found genuine appreciation of my human body has emerged. I marvel at the gift of sight, and the fluid movement of dancer's legs and feet as they perform. Even though I never considered myself an unappreciative person, I now regard the human body in awe.

Being an artist, I have always paid attention to the infinite beauty we are exposed everyday, a beautiful sunrise, the details and color of flowers, animals performing what comes naturally to them, the power of the oceans, the majesty of snow capped mountains, and even the very involved patterns of a butterfly's wings. It is endless the beauty that will be missed in a person's lifetime, by simply not paying attention.

Today is the day to appreciate all that has been given to us.   To live more consciously--paying homage to the amazing human body and to the ever changing  beauty in our world, I think it will make us happier people.

Friday, March 4, 2011

Moving Along

Let me first say that this is the second time I have had to completely rewrite this blog because the  computer went off line and erased the entire frustrating!!

Next week I have two doctor appointments, one is a follow up appointment with my surgeon, the other is my first visit for the preliminary fitting/measuring for my second prosthetic leg.

The following week I am being assessed as the first step to having hand controls installed in my car. The assessment is to determine my strengths and weaknesses and to determine which type hand controls will work best for me.

 Fortunately I am physically strong, relatively speaking, and because I can't go to the gym at this time, I have been working out at home with dumbbells. It is going alright but of course I don't have access to all of the machines and free weights available to me at the gym. I know that my upper body strength has been a great asset, by enabling me to transfer from my wheelchair to the bed, toilet, and the bench in my shower etc. I am thankful for that. Sometimes when I look back on things, it is as if by working so diligently all those  years I was preparing myself (unknowingly) for what inevitably happened, the loss of my legs.

  I remember a neighbor saying to me after the loss of my first leg (the right one), that it was ironic that I had taken such good care of myself and would suffer such a loss. I told her on the contrary, it probably would have happened sooner had  I not taken such good care of myself. That is just one example of how differently people can look at a situation and draw opposite conclusions.

Nevertheless, as I look ahead to the next few weeks, I am happy that things are starting to move along and  that I can begin to put my life back together again after the loss of my second leg in December.

The other day a man named John stopped by my house so that I could fill out paperwork with an organization he represents. There is a federal program available that will help finance the training and installation of the hand controls for my car. If anyone reading this should need such a service, or knows of someone who does, please let me know, and I will put them in touch with John and his organization.

I will let everyone know how things progress in the next few weeks. I am looking forward with optimism toward the future.

Sometimes I wonder where all of this is leading......I hope to a happier and more self-sufficient life.