Posts Tagged ‘ death ’

The Kind Of Old Man I’m Wanting To Become

Friday, August 23rd, 2013

2 years, 9 months.

Dear Jack,

I’ve learned in life that it’s dangerous to assume I’m right, about anything, because it seems that the people who are often wrong are typically convinced they are always right.

Over the past couple years especially, since you’ve been around, I’ve mellowed out, in a good way.

It’s true that becoming a parent makes you a better, stronger, less selfish, more mature person.

Ultimately, it comes down to reminding myself to put you and Mommy before myself, as I’ve mentioned before.

That requires me to be constantly open-minded and always assuming that my own ego could be slowing down the family train. (Or carousel, as the picture implies.)

I believe those requirements will help make me the old man I’m planning to become.

Yes, I know, I’m only 32.

But I want to be very deliberate about the future old man version of me.

After all, I do plan to live a long life, keeping up with you and Mommy.

When I’m old, no matter how old I get, until I eventually (and hopefully) just die in my sleep at the end of a good long life, I want to be a man who others still find refreshing, entertaining, giving, optimistic, and yes, open-minded.

In other words, I don’t want to be stuck in my ways, muttering about the good ole days and complaining about how the younger generations are messing everything up.

I don’t want to wind up a cliche. And the stereotype of a crotchety old man is one that a lot of people are familiar with.

That’s why, now, in the past (assuming you are reading this many years from now) I want to be living with the right mindset; one that will carry on into the next 50 years or so.

This infographic does a great job on summing it up. I can see who I used to be (having the scarcity mindset) compared to who I am becoming (adopting the abundance consciousness).

As I read through the attributes of both, it makes me think about a Jason Mraz song called  ”Live High.”

Here’s an excerpt:

“I try to picture the man to always have an open hand
See him as a giving tree, see him as matter
Matter of fact he’s not a beast
No, not the devil either, always a good deed doer
Well, it’s laughter that we’re makin’ after all

The call of the wild is still in order nationwide
In the order of the primates all our politics are too late
Oh my, the congregation in my mind
Is an assembly selling gratitude and practicing their lovin’ for you”

Son, I’m sorry if this all seems a bit random today. If nothing else, know that being your dad means there’s a lot of psychological stuff I’m forced to reckon with. I am now far from the 2010 version of myself, from before you were born.

I can’t be your dad and not be changed by the process. For better or worse. I choose better.

 

Love,

Daddy

 

Infographic credit: Chris Record.

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The Unimaginable Thought of Losing Your Child

Saturday, November 12th, 2011

Eleven months.

Yesterday I had to leave work about an hour early to pick up my son Jack from KinderCare: He had a temperature of 103. I knew that because he was still playful, still eating, and not showing any other signs of distress, this would be a “give him fever reducer” solution and not a “take him to the doctor” kind of thing.

But still, there’s something about knowing your child is not well that is undeniably unnerving; the thought that saving your child is not immediately up to you.

Sure, I can protect him from certain things. Admittedly, perhaps I’m overprotective: I won’t let the little guy watch TV or even drink juice. (Yeah, I one of those kind of parents!)

I’ve tried to imagine what I would do if something ever happened to him. How would I psychologically deal with that? Would I be the kind of dad that literally loses his mind if he lost his son? I want to believe that my son will outlive me. It’s both morbid and realistic to think about these dark situations, but occasionally, when I catch myself off guard, I do.

However, the world is full of parents who literally have had to lose their child, including Ruthe and Michael Rosen, whose 14-year old daughter, Karla, was diagnosed with an inoperable brain tumor.

But they decided to turn their pain into purpose.

They transformed Karla’s courage and solid optimism into a legacy of community service when they founded The Let It Be Foundation. It’s a nonprofit organization that helps families with children who have been diagnosed with life-threatening illnesses.

The Let It Be Foundation provides services including opportunities for family recreation, housekeeping, grocery shopping and meals, and help in meeting the needs of the child’s siblings. This assistance enables the children and their families to maintain a sense of normalcy at home as they battle the most serious illnesses. So far, The Let It Be Foundation has brought comfort, hope, and joy to families throughout Southern California, and is now in the process of expanding its presence nationwide.

To pass on the meaningful lessons she learned from living with Karla’s cancer, Ruthe also wrote Never Give Up: How to Find Hope and Purpose in Adversity (Cypress House, Sept. 2011), a brave story of faith, hope, and joy in the face of the unimaginable. The book follows Karla’s cancer journey and her unwavering optimism, inspiring readers to turn pain into purpose. Proceeds will benefit families served by The Let It Be Foundation.

 

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The Strange Thing About Flying Solo as a Dad

Tuesday, November 1st, 2011

Eleven months.

I’ve been on so many plane rides in my life that now, anytime a pilot warns “we may experience some turbulence,” I remain unfazed; like in the opening scene of Garden State where Zach Braff’s character blankly stares ahead while everyone else panics.

However, two weeks ago on a flight from Nashville to Detroit to tour the General Motors headquarters, for the first time in my life I actually thought, “What if I die in this plane?” It’s not so much that the pilot faced some serious threat as he maneuvered the aircraft.

More likely, it was the fact that A) the last time I was on a plane was with my wife and son and B) I was overly aware of how if something bad did happen to me, I wouldn’t be able to share my life with them anymore. Therefore, the bumpiness of that hour-long flight had actually spooked me.

Even if it’s a slight cliche to say it (which it is), all my worries had disappeared while up in the air that day. I was able to just focus on what really mattered; not the thought of unpacked boxes in our townhouse, along with a living room ceiling that (at that time) still needed to be repaired.

As I made my way out of the baggage claim area, I looked up at saw a peculiar, yet appropriately serene sign that read: “Religious Reflections Room.” How random. I had to check it out.

The only way to get there was by taking the employee elevator up to the 3rd floor; keeping my GM chauffeur surely waiting at the terminal. I finally made it to the Religious Reflections Room. I slowly opened the door and saw a man bowing and praying over a compass painted on the floor pointing towards Mecca. Chairs lined the room in a horseshoe shape along the walls.

I figured if A) the Detroit airport saw the value in designing a Religious Reflections Room and B) I went through the trouble of finding it, that I should use it for its intended purpose.

So I sat down in the chair closest to the door and reflected religiously (for about 43 seconds) about how I didn’t die on the plane. Maybe it was a tad on the melodramatic side for me to keep thinking about being taken away from my wife and son, but I thanked God for my safe arrival anyway.

It was a pretty weird situation to have flown to a different region of the country without my family; like riding on an empty plane- or at least with dozens of cardboard cutouts instead of real people. Of course, it was just as bizarre to check into my hotel room in downtown Detroit without my wife and son; to try to legitimately fill the space of a king sized bed on my own, sprawling out like a kid making a snow angel.

How odd, to only be accountable to myself. Maybe above all, it simply felt unnatural.

I am no longer an island; I have a helper and a peripheral. Sure, it was nice to have a break from reality for 36 hours; but at least in my head, I sort of felt it was a lot like playing a dull lead character of a story where there is no plot. Sort of like The Hills.

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My Grandma’s Highway to Heaven

Wednesday, October 12th, 2011

Ten months.

My Mexican grandmother, Lola Mendez Metallo, has always been one funny grandma, though not necessarily intentionally. Like the way she has always prefaced her jokes with “I’m gonna tell you a joke…”.

Or the fact that she literally managed to see the movie Dirty Dancing a total of 37 times when it originally came to theaters back in 1987, though she never learned to drive a car.

Not to mention the way she always found a way to delightfully sprinkle our holiday dinner conversations with mentions of the most recently escaped prison convicts she had heard about on the radio. Classic.

Plus, I’ve never known anyone more intrigued by angels. I remember how when the TV show Touched by an Angel was still on the air, she would never miss an episode and had a talent for relating every life situation back to the most recent one she had seen,especially if the episode had anything to do with an abused animal. (Her favorite show in the ’80′s was Highway to Heaven, which was also about angels interacting with humans.)

Here recently, I have been thinking about her a lot. I know her health has faded more drastically since my Italian grandfather passed away over three years ago. It’s one of those things where I know that she could just one day never wake up; or she could ultimately be here for several more years. In either case, I am consciously aware of the fact that her time on Earth is especially limited.

It’s an interesting (and sad) perspective; to know my grandma may be in her final months, yet everyday I watch my young son grow up a little bit more. I see one life coming to a close and another just getting things started. It’s a constant paradox in my head.

Knowing her time could be soon, I’m literally dealing with her passing, now; before it even happens. People deal with death differently- I guess I deal with it prematurely, reminiscing her life while she’s still here to answer questions I still have and tell her I love her several times in every potentially last conversation I have with her.

I know she’s going to love finally joining the angels she has talked so much about, but I really would mind hearing a couple more of her jokes; especially if she tells me up front that I’m about to hear a joke.

Unexpected Bonus…

It can be easy to write off human interactions with angels as tall tales, but according to the Bible, we entertain angels unaware. Today, someone will win a free book called Angels, which helps explain the interactions of angels in humans’ lives, backed up with Biblical stories and references.

If you would like a free copy of Angels mailed to your house, just be the first person to leave a comment on this post, then within 60 minutes, send me an email (nickshell1983@hotmail.com) including your name and mailing address.

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I Don’t Want to Die Right Now

Thursday, September 8th, 2011

Nine months.

I’ve only got about 50 years left to live, if that.

Most nights as I fall asleep, I can’t help but think how sleeping through the night is sort of like checking out of reality, reminding me of the lyrics to Tom Petty’s classic song, “Freefalling”: “I want to leave this world for a while.”

Though I’m overly aware that at any given second I could die of any random cause, like instantly turning into a pillar of salt, I’m never more aware of the inevitability of death than when I am fading and falling into the dream world.

Sleeping is the closest thing I know to having an understanding of what it’s like to be dead. It’s the closest concept I have of understanding what it’s not like to live in this world, confined to rules of practicality and common sense.

Sure, it’s an understatement to admit that I don’t want to die right now. But I’ve never been more caught up in life than I am at this very moment, so it’s really on my mind.

After all, I have made a covenant before God to love my wife for as long as we both shall live. Then the two of us brought another life into this world. That’s pretty dang epic. That’s deep.

So now that I have involved myself this drastically in the course of history (and therefore, the future), I’m just dying to stick around. It’s not simply that I want to see what happens next; not simply that I want to see how the story unfolds with my wife and son. But I want to literally be here, as part of their story.

Without a doubt, it’s sad to think that the story could go on without me. It’s sad to think that has been reality for so many people who “died before their time.”

I’m not afraid of death. I couldn’t be any more confident of what happens to me the second after I die. But while I’m not afraid of death, I am pretty fascinated by it.

It amazes me that millions of people alive today in this world could take life (and therefore, death) so nonchalantly: That despite all the miracles in their lives, they never see a need to think past this life, and to consider how the people they interact with each day can be affected eternally by their words and actions.

How can a person not think about eternity, or convince themselves it doesn’t exist? The irony: that life itself distracts a person from thinking about death.

I can’t imagine not taking enough time to pause and wonder about what happens when the lights finally go out for good and what this life was for. I do it on a daily basis.

So it’s not that I ever wanted to die, or wouldn’t mind dying, but now more than ever, if I have any say in the matter, it’s as simple as this:

I don’t want to die right now.

And if I shall continue waking up alive each day, as I have done for 30 years so far, then I shall continue to live to the best of my ability. I’m the kind of guy who takes life way too seriously, but in a good way, I would like to think.

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