Ode to one lucky SOB

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Friends, I owe you an apology.  It’s been too long since I’ve written to you.  When I started this blog years ago, I had no idea what to write about.  It wasn’t a loss for words.  It was a genuine concern for whomever allowed their eyes to land on this and whether or not I felt that their/your time would be well spent perusing what I wrote.

My natural instinct is self-deprecation, so I’ve always questioned my skills and ability as a writer and a speaker.  And as I looked back, it always seemed that what I wrote was an unburdening of whatever washboard road of life I was travelling, and the last thing I ever wanted to do was have this turn into a soapbox for incessant bitching and whining.

So I hit the pause button and stopped.

I think of writing nearly every day.  Every. day.  It’s built into me, like my hair color or cigarette habit.  But I wait/delay/procrastinate because whatever it is, I want it to be worth your time to read.

Today I want to say thank you.  For whatever part you play in the theater of my life, be it a main character or a cameo walk on, I thank you.

My life is not free of pain, difficulty or disappointment but I certainly never consider myself as having the worst lot in life.  On the contrary…when I allow myself to see through the smokescreen and gaze upon the vista of my particular peak, all I can do is stop and remind myself

I am one lucky SOB.

I can say that I’ve become what I set out to be.  A master of words.  My words have moved people.  My words have comforted, inspired, calmed and seduced.  A few people have even shelled out there hard earned dollars to PAY for my words.  When I consider all of these things, I very recently allowed myself to stop calling myself a fraud when I a referred to myself as a writer.  My grammar isn’t flawless nor do I always write/speak perfectly (Papa Hemingway, Mr. Twain and HST would all level fair criticism, I’m sure), but I have corralled and harnessed the power of words like an obstinate herd of cattle.

Which brings me to my second point of gratitude:  whatever job I truly set out to get in this life, I have gotten.  Looking back, I can say that even stints as a cowboy or a private detective were accomplishments.  Childhood dreams fulfilled even if the reality didn’t quite match up.  And the impact that I have made on those I have touched in the careers of adulthood is a badge of honor.  For more than a quarter of a century I’ve tread the path that most go to great lengths to avoid…the end of life.

It has been an overwhelming privilege to care for those in the sunset days of their existence.  One of the most significant moments was when I stepped in for a son whose father was actively dying.  He was exhausted and starving but didn’t want to leave his father out of fear that he would die with no one at his side.  His dad was a fan of old country music, as am I, so I brought my CD player with some George Jones and Johnny Cash and played it softly while I held the dying man’s hand so the son could go have some lunch and rest briefly.  I knew that it was working when I saw his restless thrashing ease a bit.

Dear friends, I can’t even put into to words how that made me feel but can only say that it was one of the longest, hardest and best hours of my life.

Making a difference is all that I have ever wanted out of this life.  To contribute something good in this world to counter the epic selfishness that seems to be increasing exponentially in this age of social media obsession and addiction.

It’s a mission that I hope I never give up on.  I’m thankful for the work that I have been able to do.  For me, the idea of some paper-shuffling cubicle-dwelling career strikes me as a fresh Hell with every waking day.  I’m not knocking those who do those jobs, as they are necessary.  I’m simply saying that kind of life was not what I believe that I was put on this earth for.

No matter what job I had, whether a very humble gig driving a taxi or flying first class and staying in luxury hotels while working for a consulting firm (I’ve done both, actually in quite close proximity to each other) I put my heart into my work.  I may not have enjoyed the financial success that I could have, but my heart was 100% engaged.

And nowhere have I put more heart into than into being a funeral director.  Despite verbal slaps in the face questioning how much the funeral home charges for this or that or receiving the brunt of a family’s anger because of how their loved one’s appearance displeases them…I gave them my heart.  I did everything I could to help them not feel alone as they walked this awful stretch of their journey in life.

Many days, I want to quietly pack up my things and simply walk away.

Or never show up in the first place.

But some days I drive home riding a rushing wave of gratitude for being able to do what I do.

It’s a wonderful terrible job.  And it’s no surprise that funeral directors have very high divorce, addiction and suicide statistics associated with the work.

Even if I give it all up tomorrow, I am grateful for being able to say that for more than 20 years I took the best possible care of the dying, the dead and their families.

I am grateful.  Grateful for a thank you note.  Grateful for an online comment expressing appreciation for what I wrote or did.  Grateful for the opportunities to improve someone’s life even by the smallest measure.

Grateful for people like you who read my words, put up with long absences and rambling paragraphs…

Thank you.  I’m one lucky SOB.

 

 

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