Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Things I know about being blessed

Fourty-eight years ago, I came into this world. I was given 24 hours to live and went on to live another approximatley 421,000 more hours so far. We were not rich in money but we were rich in love and family. The fourth born of five children, I was asked to be my brothers eys when I was seven. Through his non-seeing eyes, I learned to describe the world in "living color." I taught him the colors of the world by comparing them to the touch and feel of things around us. Green was the color of a lime flavored Fruit Loop. Red was a potatoe fresh from the oven. Though he could not see the colors, he had things he could relate them too. I was blessed in so many ways to be his eyes and grew up knowing I was blessed. We learned to climb trees together and run as fast as the wind. His left hand never came off of my right shoulder as we raced through life together. I went to summer school with him and was able to help many other kids that were "challenged" in some way. I befriended the nieghbors nobody else wanted to know. We learned together that they were as capable of playing games such as baseball and hide and go seek as any kid was. I know today that I was being prepared for the life my wife and I would share for 24 years.
My family moved to Canada when i was thirteen and we lived many miles back in the mountains. No running water and no electricity but we had 500 acres to explore and grow up around. Though we enjoyed every kind of wildlife you could imagine, one thing was missing. We were to far back to have schooling and I was needed on the ranch. My "traditional" education ceased and I began a new type of learning. I studied everything around me and listened and learned from the adults in my life. If I did not know an answer to a question, I found it. I was determined that I would never be known as "the guy with an 8th grade education." I self taught myself through reading everything I could get my hands on. I made it my personal goal to be able to carry on an intelligient conversation with anyone on any level.
When I was twenty years old, I joined the Air Force. My education was furthered in the four years I served my country. No one ever asked me if I was educated because I learned fast and studied hard. It was while in the Air Force that I met and married my wife of twenty-four years. That was also the time that I realized part of why God had blessed me with the years of working with those that were "challenged." My wife developed Muscular Dystrophy one year after we were married. We had our first child by then and I was working a full time civillian job as a foreman. As my wifes disease progressed, we spent many hours, days, weeks and years in hospital rooms.During a year of total remission, Sheila became pregnant with our second child. Though not planned, we were estatic to learn of the blessing to come. The pregnancy was hard and she spent the better part of 6 months in the hospital under intense medical care. Our daughter was born two months early and weighed only 3.2lbs. She was in the Neo-Natal Unit until she was seven weeks old. I would go up each night after I got off of work at midnight and learn to feed her and care for her. There were special ways to feed her and infant CPR classes to be taken. She would come home on a heart monitor and there were classes to take for that. My wife remained in the hospital for another 5 months after our daughter came home. I would work my night shift job and come home and feed our daughter. I would wake in the night to feed her again and then my parents would wake me when they were leaving for work. I survived on two hours sleep a night for several years. I had two babies, age new born and two years old to care for and my wife to visit each day as well as work. My wife came home and went back into remission for several years. Together we found a way to purchase our first house and live a wonderful life together. We could not have done it without the loving help of my family, that I do know. In spite of all the hurdles in our life, we made our life and our children's life the best it could be. Insurances ran out and renewals denied but we continued to give our girls everything we could. They never knew when we were strapped for money or going without.
We sold our home to move to a smaller town to raise our daughters. The city simply was not a safe place to raise them. We bought a 3 acre property and lived there for almost twenty years. My wife was hospitalized over 35 times in those years but we continued to be a family and to love our daughters and each other beautifully. In those years I wanted so much to write. I had written songs since I was thirteen and written short stories when ever I could. My wife and kids encouraged me too try and publish them and in 2004, my first novel was published. I cut a C.D. the same year of 13 of the 100 songs I had written. Both went on sale and though I didn't become rich in money from them, my life was enriched to know I had become a published author and singer/songwriter. In 2005 my second novel was published and today I wait for novels three and four to be published.
Somewhere in the mix of life and all we had endured, Bipolar set in and I became lost in my ways. Life took many turns for both my wife and I but we remained with one another until March of 2006. The disease she had fought so bravely and so strongly for 23 years had finally taken it's toll on her precious body. After being in a coma for 60 days in 2005 and then again for 30 days in 2006, my wife went to heaven on March 8th, 2006. Loved and missed more than my words could ever convey, I continue to write as she asked me too. I held my novel up to the sky in the Barnes and Noble in the Mall of America and through tears I said, "We did it, Baby. We made it here."
Is there anything that I have accomplished and am really proud of? I have two daughters, one that went on to college at the Le Cordon Bleu in Minneapolis, the other happily married with two sons. Both successful in my heart. I walked with my wife through Hell's fires and back and stayed loving her even unto now. I worked hard for a living and through it all, found a way to educate myself and have two novels published along with a C.D. produced. Never in the 24 years did we sacrifice love our happiness for anything we ever achieved. I guess my answer is in this article. Yes, I did accomplish something I am proud of. Through more tears than you could imagine in a lifetime and struggles that would have destroyed a lesser love, I knew and still know love and life. I have been blessed more than any one man ever deserved and I know that fact. These are just some of the things I have accomplished in my blessed life.I will continue to make accomplishments until the day I am called by the Lord to spend eternity with my Love.


Lisa Di Clemente said...

please don't take this the wrong way, but "holy crap!"

Love your story, you and I have so much in common. Thank you for seeing the blessings, that is SO important!

Rene Perez said...

I absolutely love reading your blog. I am struggling now to be a published author and sometimes never think it will happen. I write Young Adult Christian fiction and I know that I could touch the lives of young girls if I could just FINALLY get published. Your post has encouraged me to keep going. Thank you. We haven't had the easist life either but we are truly blessed.

Darrel said...

I think i took the "holy crap" exactly as intended and I thank you for that. It is such an encouragement to know that others share in the knowledge that sometimes what looks like hard times are really blessings in the making. Thank you for coming here and reading.
If any part of what I write here inspires just one person to carry on a dream or to reach out when they had not before, then I am blessed over and over again. You have to just reach out and grab what life is offering and take that plunge. I wish you only there very best of what God has to offer you. No our lives have not been easy but loving the one we were with and giving them all we had to give was Never hard. God bless you always.

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