Monday, March 22, 2010

Life, Money, and the Largest Wound...Part II

Savannah, Ga. is a beautiful place to live. They call it the Garden of Good and Evil. It is full of beautiful gardens, old mansions, good old southern hospitality, and lots of alchoholic beverages. It also has one of the highest murder rates and lowest number of crimes solved. It's the place pirates called home when British law was in the Carolinas and Spanish law was in Florida. You can have a drink downtown and go watch a Voodoo ritual in a nearby graveyard. It is a town where there is always a party and you're always welcome there...and it's a custom for you to have to take a 'to-go cup' when you leave. It's a place of excitement, beauty, danger, and mystery. It was just the place I needed to recover from all the madness of the money and life's failures...

For a time in my life, I seemed to have it all with money and a beautiful wife with 3 beautiful children...but underneath I was fighting many demons. My corporation was much more than I anticipated and the pressures were just too great. My marriage had fallen apart over the money and I had made many wrong choices that I greatly regretted. I felt so much guilt over the break-up of my marriage and splitting away from my children. They were too young to understand and that seemed to make me feel even worse. I knew it was all my doing and that I could have been more selfless and stayed in a love-less marriage. The worst part was that it had not been love-less...I truly loved my wife and wanted a life with her. She had just become more and more distant and never wanted any 'us' time. I needed her more than she could know and just didn't know how to make her see that. She had become obsessed with the money...the one thing I despised more than anything.
I spent way too much time alone trying to sort things out in my new, bright red jet boat...the fastest, most beautiful boat on the lake. My family had purchased a very nice 2 story lakehouse and I spent many afternoons there trying to drink sanity back into my head. I had many friends...some were true friends...others were leeches looking to just hang out at a nice place and ride in the fast boat. I was simply running away from life and living life way too fast. I knew eventually I would burn out...and I did. I was doing too many jobs at the corporation and never knew if I was going or coming. I didn't sleep well and stayed tired all the time. On top of all of this, my marriage had hit the rocks, I started seeing a beautiful employee and my wife had started seeing a friend of mine that was actually a groomsman in my wedding...yes, a groomsman in my wedding. This particular slam became my breaking point. I quit on life and decided the humiliation was simply too much for me to stay in the same town. Alot of our old friends continued to hang out with her and my new replacement and I became taboo. It was a tough time in my life that took years to recover from.
I shut down the corporation and sold the equipment and myself to a company in Savannah. They gave me a high salary, unlimited expense account, and a free penthouse to live in. I moved there with my 6 month old dog named Blue. He was an Alaskan white Husky mixed with a Timberwolf and looked like a white wolf with blue eyes. He was my best friend in the world and we loved our new world in Savannah. We would go to Riverstreet every afternoon and go for a walk. The friendly people there would even let me take him into bars to get a drink. We didn't know anyone in town, yet, so we became a daily fixture at Riverstreet. We got to know all the basketweavers, artists, and musicians on a first name basis and they always loved seeing us. They all called me 'Doc' and called Blue 'Ghost dog' as the city had alot of tourists going on ghost tours all the time and one little girl had cried one night when she saw the 'ghost dog'. It was an eye-opening, self-discovering, and healing time in my life. I was finally happy...being away from the madness of the money and knowing that no one knew who I was or whose son I was. People loved me for who I was and it made me feel better about who I was.
My children were happier too. They loved coming to Savannah every other weekend with my girlfriend from back home and knew that we would go do fun things and exciting things every time they came down. They particularly loved Riverstreet. They felt like stars because all the people working there got to know them by name and we could bring Blue with us as well. I remember how excited my youngest daughter was when she learned how to make a flower out of reeds. We were regulars on the circuit and the magicians would always pick us out of the crowd to be a part of their shows because we knew their acts by heart. My kids felt like they belonged there and knew that their Dad was happy there...though at times I felt extreme guilt that they were having to travel 2.5 hours just to see me. I also felt bad that I couldn't be there during the week and had to miss ball games and beauty pageants because of work. I still remember the tears that would fall every time they left...I loved them and missed them so much!!!
I dealt with it as best I could, though, and tried to look at the bright side of things always. Being a good parent, at times, means you reflect on what you are doing and wonder if it's the right thing for them. No parent ever knows that what they're doing is really right...for themselves or their chilren's best is just a mystery and the answers to life are never easy to find.

As the years went by and my kids got older, so did my parents. My father had been doing ok and was getting around in his air-chair and living a functional life. My mother was hit with the heavy burden of caring for him though. She did everything for him and never did anything for herself.
She began to hate the prison of life with him. He could never be alone for long and could only sit up for about 2 hours at a time. This left her with a small amount of time for herself. Though she had all the money to shop with she could need, she didn't have the time to shop or go and do and travel like many people dream of doing when they have plenty of money.

She called me in 2006 and told me she really didn't know how much longer she could take it. My father was demanding and didn't think about all he asked her to do on a daily basis. On top of that, she was not feeling well. She confided in me that she had spells where she didn't know what was going on and was confused. She also said she had fainted a few times and did not know why this was happening. She had always had cystemic Lupus and also high blood pressure...and since my father's accident, she had gained back around 100lbs. that she had always proudly kept off for 30 years since her last child. She hated it, but was stuck laying in a bed next to my fathers eating and feeding him and taking care of him the best way she knew how...with her cooking.
She told me she needed me....something that always grabbed my attention and was something I always took seriously. She knew I would always be there when she needed me and I would not let her down. I was the athlete in the family and she proudly went to every basketball game, football game and track event to yell at the top of her lungs. I was her pride and joy and she was the first to let you know this. She loved my brother and sister too, but always loved me a little too much. I think it's because I brought her flowers all the time when I was a little boy growing up on our farm. I loved my mother and was never ashamed of it either. If she needed me, she knew all she needed to do was let me know...and this time she was in bad health. On top of that, she said my siblings were talking about putting my father in a nursing home...and that was all I needed to hear.

I decided that it was time to go home. The Prodigal Son would return. I let my employers know I had to go and reluctantly said goodbye to my friends in Savannah. I took a job making significantly less money and moved in with my folks back at the farm to help take care of them both. Blue would at least now have hundreds of acres to run on and I could also spend more time with my kids and they could also spend more time with their grandparents as well. It appeared to be a good plan...

It seemed like such a happy ending. The trouble with happy endings is that they are never an ending...just a time in life...and time changes everything. Things would change for sure...and the road would never be as easy as I would think it would be. It never is, though, is it?..

Stay tuned for part 3, folks...