A Birthday Message

Ten years ago today, my life changed immeasurably. As I held you in my arms for the first time, I realized that I had never truly known love until that very moment. The unconditional love that a parent feels for their child is something that can never be described in words. I hope that you have the opportunity, one day, to feel it as well.

Your birth was a gift to this world and especially to those of us closest to you. You were Nana and Pop's first great-grandchild and if there was anyone as joyful as your mother and I that day, it was them. I am so thankful that they had the opportunity to spend the time that they did with you. I know that they live on in your memory and are looking down with pride at the young man you have become.

So much has changed in the past ten years and I know that it hasn't always been easy for you. In your short life you have experienced loss and confusion, frustration and sadness. I know that I have made mistakes that have affected you.  The past is behind us now, baby boy, and the future is so bright. 

Through the light of your love, I have found the patience and strength to become the best man I can be and the father that you deserve. And you... although you can be a big old pain in my butt... you are a brilliant and beautiful, witty and charming, well-rounded guy, that any dad would be proud of. 

Our family dynamic has changed dramatically in the last ten years, but the one thing that has remained constant is my love and devotion to you, my sweet boy. You are blessed to be part of one big beautiful group of people... a big family of grandmas, grandpas, aunts, uncles, cousins, moms and dads... all of whom love you just as much as I do. This is a wonderful time, my love... enjoy it! 

Happy tenth birthday to you Lu-Dog!

May God bless you and watch over you for many more birthdays to come. 



Honesty... That Lonely Word

When I was nine, I wanted to be a baseball player. 

I was never on an organized team and, as an only child, I often found myself playing the game alone… with a tennis ball. 

It was me versus the garage door. 

Our two car garage featured doors with a Dutch barn motif - 16 square panels, topped with four equal size windows, creating 20 perfect squares. The design made the garage door a perfect backstop for pitching practice, with it's clearly defined strike zone. 

My grandparents didn’t like that game. They worried that I would chip the paint, crack the faux detail or worse, break a window. 

I thought they were crazy. 

My grandpa was always convinced that if you used something too often, or without taking the utmost care, it would break. 

“Stop changing the damn channel,” he’d say. “You’ll break the knob off.” 

The knob did eventually fall of and we upgraded to a digital television. Still, I think he was too neurotic about that stuff. I knew that I had a good enough arm to avoid broken windows. Though, the ball did get away from me sometimes. 

It was a bright spring Saturday, in the late afternoon. My pop was at work and my nana was washing dishes. Through the kitchen window, she had the best seat in the house for my game. She even engaged the pitcher in friendly banter from the stands, warning him that if his grandfather catches him throwing that “damn ball against the garage, he’s gonna get it.” 

It was the top of the ninth though, and my team was up 3-0. It was a full count, with two out and two men on (second and third). All I had to do was catch it off the garage and get it over to first base and I would win. 

Maybe it was nana’s yelling, or maybe it had just been a long game, but something happened and my inside slider got away from me and hit one of the garage windows. 

This wasn’t the first time I had hit a garage window, but it was the first time I heard glass shatter and the scream of what I imagined a banshee might sound like. It was just Nana who was now standing at the screen door, wooden spoon in hand, screaming about how my pop was going to be home soon and that I was sure to get a spanking. 

I probably wasn’t spanked as often as I should have been, but the thought of a spanking from my grandfather still sent waves of fear through my skinny little body. 

I sat at the end of the driveway, panicked. 

I thought of one million stories I could tell to avoid blame, but I knew none would work because nana saw the deal go down. 

I thought that, perhaps, I could sully her name… call her a liar. I would have to convince my grandfather that my nana, his wife, a person that he had clearly known longer than he had known me, was living a life of deception. It was then that I saw grandpa’s pick up driving up the street toward our house. 

There would be no time for me to formulate such a grand a story. My only choice was to tell the truth. 

Instinctively, I knew that I had to tell my grandfather the truth before he noticed what had happened or, worse yet, before my grandmother told him. So, I raced up the driveway and planted myself in front of the garage door with the broken window. 

As he slowly made the turn into our driveway, I started to cry hysterically at thevisions of grandpa’s belt on my behind. He barely had the truck in park when I started pleading. 

“Please poppa. I’m sorry. I broke the garage window.” 

I was sobbing. 

“I was playing bayyyy ace buh uh all… and, and, and… I’m suh uh reeeeeee… ee… ee…” 

He climbed out of his truck, looked up at the broken window, and then down at me. He smiled. 

“We’ll fix it pal,” he said as he turned and walked toward the screen door. 

The seeds of a valuable lesson were planted at that very moment. 

Years later, as I look back on this and similar encounters, I realize that no matter what “good excuse” you have, no matter what “believable story” you can get away with, or no matter how easily you can shift blame, the best possible outcome in any situation can only be achieved by remaining open and honest. 

Don’t mistake this for some “cherry tree” story. I have been mired in some form of deception more often than I would like to admit. 

It is human nature to feel the urge to deceive. This is understandable because it is scary to think about how vulnerable we become when we are honest. 

It is only recently that I have started to dedicate my life to living honestly and openly. This means being honest about who I am and what I believe in. This means being open about my mistakes and my transgressions. This means being the first to hold myself accountable and never trying to avoid responsibility. 

It isn’t an easy thing to do and I am far from mastering the art. 

My recent comments regarding an alleged theft inside town hall, both here on my own website and in various online forums, have been met with mixed reviews… particularly from my biggest critic of all; myself. 

Do I really believe that if someone else were in power that this would have been prevented? 

Do I really believe that there could have been some measure, in hindsight, that we could have taken to prevent this alleged theft? 

No, I don’t and you certainly can’t fault a government for trying to pick up the pieces and at least attempt to come up with a solution to fix such problems. 

What bothers me is the stream of information that comes out of town hall. Sometimes it is contradictory, sometimes it is inaccurate, and sometimes it doesn’t come at all. 

When you begin a conscious attempt to live honestly, you begin to tune in on a different level. You listen to and digest information more carefully and you become more aware. You also begin to demand honesty from the people around you, though it comes naturally when we let our guard down. 

I know that I have become more critical of my government in recent months, but it is because I recognize the success and the light that honesty, openness, and transparency can bring. Therefore, it troubles me to think that something so simple as being honest about our mistakes, our weaknesses, or our own responsibilities can be so out of reach, particularly in government. 

After all, without these ingredients, can leadership really exist?