FOR PEACE

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(Originally posted on the website Continuum…)

Where do I begin? Shall I address you as “Friend,” even though we have not been such for some time? Shall I address you with a bland “To Whom it May Concern,” as if there were never any tenderness between us? Should I address you as “Brother,” “Sister,” “Lover?” Pride and disappointment encourage me to call you worse. Heartache compels me to name you more kindly.

I thought I would write to you because you have hurt me. I have bruises and scars. Yes, I know it has been a long time since. But I still hear your words, clearly. I remember the anger in your eyes and the hoarse words you sent my way. They linger with me, still. Sometimes I hear your voice distantly shouting in the night, like a tired old monster under my bed. Then I lay awake and wonder if you even knew that I was hurt.

And is not that part of the problem? How little do any of us truly communicate! We tread lightly and skirt the issues. We say, “All is well,” when we know deep inside that it is not. Time does not heal all wounds. Some of them fester and become rancid. The longer we hold it in, the worse it becomes. The web entangles and the quicksand swallows and we drown in our own bitterness. As far as peace goes, sometimes I think that the person who was wounded is as much at fault for the lack of peace by maintaining their silence. No, I am not blaming the “victim.” I am just saying that peace is a little higher of a goal, something bigger, and something deeper. If we could just get past our fear and pride and speak up when we are hurt in order to restore peace. If only I was brave enough.

I have been trying my best to forgive you, to let it all go. God knows how I have asked Him to help me to do so! It is amazing that the anger and the pain have not consumed me. I have loved you while inhaling and hated you while the breath left my lungs. I have cursed you over and over and over. Truth be told, I have killed you a thousand times over. I have skinned you alive, dismembered you and cut you into tiny pieces, shoving you into a garbage bag; then put on my Sunday best and danced through endless fields of daisies as your pieces were strewn about by my white gloved hands. Shocking? No. We all have it in us, if the truth were told. “Adam, dear, our son has killed his brother!” The earth cries out as the blood soaks in. We all inherit the stain.

And now I am sorry too. The Book is right: “In many ways we all offend.” No, I cannot think of many ways in which I took the offensive and hurt you. But I can think of a multitude of ways in which I could have loved you and did not. Omission is an offense too, a passive offense. I could have loved you in spite of you. I could have tried to do good for you, even in the face of your meanness. I could have forgiven you from my heart before you were even finished inflicting your pain. But I did not. Now the sands of time are rapidly filling the gap between us and I do not even know where to begin to bring back peace between us. Seems like such a shame that two creatures created in the image of a loving Father should live so far apart, as if He placed us on two different worlds. Please forgive me.

So now I am trying to forgive. No more fields of bloody daisies in my mind. I do not want to live in bitterness. It will only consume me and ruin those around me. I want to live in peace. Plus, Jesus said that if I do not forgive others when they have wronged me, neither will the Father forgive me. Ultimately, I suppose we have to leave all of these things in His hand. Maybe these things will all be made right at the last day when we all stand before His throne and the books are opened. Yet somehow I fear that it will be too late to make things right at that point. My, how much time we waste on that which is unprofitable and hurtful! How little any of us truly love another soul in this world!

Let me close by saying that if this article has only angered you and made you indignant, thinking of many specific ways that I have personally offended you, then it was not written to you. If you read this and say, “That guy is such a hypocrite! He has hurt me many times over!” then this article was not intended for you. You deserve another one devoted to you, asking for your forgiveness. But until that article is written, would you grant me a loan of forgiveness?

For peace…

Sam

IF MY DAD HAD DIED WHEN I WAS YOUNG

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(Originally posted on the website Continuum…)

“MY DAD had died when I was young.”

NO, NO, MY Dad did not die when I was young. I overheard someone saying that at work today and it just sparked so many thoughts and emotions within me. What if MY Dad had died when I was young? What would life have been like? What must life have been like for the one who was telling another about how she grew up without her father? God, what is THAT like?? God, I thank you that MY Dad did not die when I was young!

What if he had though? I wonder if my life would have been harder. Would my life have been easier? Maybe it would have been neither harder nor easier, just different. There is no guarantee that different would be easier, but there is always the fear that different would be harder.

Maybe the only easier aspect of my Dad dying when I was young would be the absence of painful memories brought about by my father’s shortcomings as a member of that infamous band of hoodlums known as humans. That’s the thing about dads: they are human. Humans fail. Humans sin. Humans are weak. I may not be an expert on dads. Yet, after being a dad for 17 years now, I think I have a little room to speak to what dads are. They are not super heroes (contrary to the belief of all toddlers). They are only men. Many are their shortcomings. Those who are honest with themselves know it. Those who are brave enough will admit it, especially to their children.

I KNOW that there are many men in this world who have made such an absolute mess of things that they do not even deserve to be called dads. I know that there are sons and daughters who carry about deep wounds, some of which are now bitter hardened scars, all because of their fathers’ neglect or abuse. Many are the nights when they have lain in bed and wished to God that their “dads” had died when they were young. I personally do not know how this feels. But my compassion goes out to those who know such pain. All I can say is please do not remain bitter, my friends- for your own sake especially. I do not know all of the answers. I do not know how to make all of those scars go away. But I do know that there is One who has suffered for all of the wrong doing in the world. I do know that there is healing in His sufferings. I do know that there is freedom to be found at the foot of His cross. I would not be a very good friend if I sent you anywhere else to look for relief.

THOUGH I mainly spent only weekends with my Dad growing up, I do have some good memories, memories that cause me to be thankful that my Dad is still alive at the age of 62. I remember my Dad teaching me to fish. One time when I was only seven or eight, we were fishing in a small stream near Warren Glen. Dad was teaching me how to cast. I was starting to get the hang of it. I was actually beginning to get my line in the water more often than in the trees. Then I cast the ultimate casts of all casts… and snagged Dad right in the… uh… shall we say, “buttocks?” Sorry, Dad! I remember when he put a basketball hoop up for me in the driveway. I remember jamming my thumb while he was playing with me. I even remember getting up before dawn to go on a trip to Canada when I was less than five years old. I remember eating breakfast with my Dad that morning. I ate puffed rice cereal. You know the stuff that has the taste and texture of lightweight Styrofoam.

CURRENTLY I am living on the same street that my parents lived on from the time I was born until I was five. This was not by design. It just happened that there was an available apartment here when I needed to rent one. But it sure does bring back a lot of memories when I drive by house number 15 just up the street! I remember swimming in my little kiddy pool in the yard and taking my bathing suit off. I remember taking boards off of the side of the front porch with my Dad’s hammer. I remember being determined to cut down the big maple tree in front of the house with his saw. I remember how he pulled me down the snow-covered street on a sled. And I remember how I wore my Dad’s work boots and dreamed of working for the electric company like my Dad.

Certainly life would have been different if my Dad had died when I was young. And certainly I would have never opted for the convenience of being without him just to avoid accepting that he was a fallible human. Certainly much more good has been added to my life by having my Dad alive for as long as I can remember.

FROM the sixth grade on through high school, my greatest love was playing the drums. I started out with a simple snare drum, joined the school band. Several months later, Dad came pulling up the driveway in a VW Bug stuffed with drums. My first drum set! Hours and hours and hours were spent banging on that set! When my freshman year of high school came, so did Dad with a bigger, better drum set. More hours. More calluses. Even bleeding fingers. Dad was in attendance at many concerts and band competitions. Thanks Dad!

THIS Memorial Day we had a cook out at Dad’s house. (He makes a pretty tasty burger!) Through the afternoon I had those moments when I could sense how brief life really is. I could see it passing before my eyes while the echoes of childhood were still clear in my ears. It was striking to me that my first memories of my Dad are of him as a younger man than I now am. Imagine that! In a certain way, I am now older than my Dad, older than the Dad who made an impression on my young mind. My how brief life is! In another blink of an eye, my son will be the one thinking such thoughts while I flip the burgers. Though life is brief, I want it to be deep. Then the burgers will taste better and my son will be satisfied.

SO that is the story. My Dad did NOT die when I was young. I hope that he is still alive when I reach the young age of 62. I just hope he doesn’t ask me to go fishing though. I have a feeling he is looking for some revenge. Still a little sore I guess! Well, he has a right to be. Raising kids can be a pain in the… uh… “buttocks?” Sometimes.

200 MILES OF RAIN

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(Originally posted on the website Continuum…)

RAIN, rain, rain and more rain! It seemed like it was never going to end! I am not sure how many days in a row that it rained around here. The worst part was that it rained over the Memorial Day weekend. However, we did make it through most of the day Monday before a few showers swept through.

ON Saturday, I went to pick up H and M. It rained for all 200 miles of the trip. The drive is bad enough on sunny days. It was a stressful drive in all the rain. At times the rain was coming down in near blinding sheets. There were overly nervous drivers moving like snails, while maniacs swerved among them, seemingly oblivious to the pouring rain and the widening puddles. Of course, you have to appreciate the very thoughtful truck drivers who hop into the left lane to avoid one of the snails while starting up a hill. My little car gets tossed about in the draft behind those trucks and it is impossible to see with all of the rain that blows behind them. Usually without fail, when I am stuck behind one of those trucks, one of the maniacs will come flying up out of the mist behind me and ride my bumper, crazed look in their eyes and drool on their chins. We need four lanes on all highways: one for maniacs, one for trucks, one for snails and one for ME!

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Other than the stressfulness, the ride to get H and M was uneventful. In fact, I did not even put the radio on. It was a more thoughtful, reflective ride. But now I cannot remember what I was reflecting on! Saturday morning was too much rain and too many miles ago.

When I arrived at our meeting point on Saturday, exactly 9:00, the designated meeting time, X.2 and the girls were not there yet. Can you say, “Barnes and Nobles?” Yup! That is exactly where I headed. The store had just opened their doors and my bursting bladder and I were so grateful! That large coffee that I started drinking 200 miles earlier was just begging for release. I was happy to oblige and made a beeline to the men’s room at the bookstore. Since I did not have much time I surveyed the bargain books. Nothing good there. Then I checked out the literature journals. Lost track of time there. Snagged the June issue of Poetry magazine and another magazine called Poets and Writers. Quickly drove to the other side of the parking lot to our designated meeting place to find X.2 waiting there. It was 9:30. Oops! X.2 said, “The girls really need to use a bathroom but this place is not opened yet.” I, feigning innocence, said, “Gee… I think that Barnes and Nobles might be open. They have a bathroom.” I waited in the car while they went in. But I could hear a few authors calling me from the science fiction section. I think I definitely heard David Eddings calling. I have not read him in several years.

The ride back with the girls was fun as usual. There were a few knock knock jokes and plenty of little girl chatter from the back seat. Daddy has to be kept up to date concerning who his seven-year-old has a crush on!

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THE GIRLS and I spent the day at Mom’s house. It rained all day. So we watched television, made some pudding, ordered Chinese food. Ah! Spicy shrimp in garlic sauce! Yummy! That dish certainly kills your breath, but your taste buds are dancing as your breath is dying! It is definitely not something you want to eat if you are a single guy hoping to meet a nice girl. But if you are just hanging out at mom’s on a rainy Saturday, what do you have to lose? Chow down!

SO, on Sunday, we all slept in a little bit. Friend F came over with Mom and Stepfather to fix our printer. We recently purchased a printer. It worked for two days. It did not work for three days. It worked again for one day. Then is simply refused to work at all. But Friend F is the master! He can make it go. He works on computers just the way he works on cars. He gets in there under the hood, tinkers around a bit, rips out parts that have important sounding names while grinning and saying, “Heck, you don’t need that!”, prompts a cold sweat on your forehead, and before you know it the engine is purring like a kitten! And he doesn’t even get his hands greasy! So the rest of the day Sunday I spent printing out the entries on CONTINUUM… for a friend who does not have access to the internet right now. (I know you are thinking “Wow! What a great gift idea!” Right?) The rain actually cleared up later in the afternoon after a few good thunderstorms. So I went outside with H and M for a while before it got dark. They were putting on little one-person plays in the backyard. M did a short puppet show with no puppets, just her fists. H retold the story of Rumplestiltskin, adding her own slant. Then they each sang a song to end the show. All in all it was a rather relaxing day.

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ON Monday we went to my Dad’s house for a cook out. Sister C and family were there also. It only rained for a short time. Then the sun was out and the kids were able to play in the yard. Dad cooked up some good burgers and dogs on the grill. It was a nice time. However, I could only stay about three hours because I had to make the all exciting trip to take H and M home at 4 in the afternoon. We actually didn’t leave until 4:40. Traffic was a little heavy. But there was no rain. We ended up getting to the meeting place about 30 minutes late. Oops again!

S volunteered to go along for the ride with me this time. I was slightly nervous to be trapped in a Toyota with a 14-year-old girl for four hours. But we ended up having a good time. We had some meaningful conversation and, of course, a whole lot of meaningless, mindless, let your hair blow in the wind with the car windows down kind of fun too, especially after we dropped off H and M. We sang and laughed and danced (only from the waist up while driving) to everything from country to blues to rock to disco. The radio was blaring. Her hair was blowing all over the place in the wind. Mine just sort of shifted direction every now and then and ended up looking strikingly similar to the pillow doo that I usually wake up with in the morning. (Scary thought, huh?)

After taking the girls home on Monday, I was eager to get some rest. S and I made a quick run to Wal-Mart before they closed at 10 PM. I stocked up on some vitamins. She got hair dye. I bought a binder to put my printed CONTINUUM… in to mail to my friend. She got hair spray. I looked for a new battery for my digital camera. She got some other hair junk to make her hair do what God never intended for it to do. I just shook my head. Wal-Mart closed. We went home, finally.

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AND now it is 1:00 AM, Tuesday morning. I did try to go to sleep at 10:30 PM. It just was not happening. So I booted up the PC, wrote an entry, tweaked a few pictures and now I am about to slam it all up on the web for the whole world to see. My blood shot eyes and I will greet some of you in the office in not too many hours from now. Just as long as there is coffee in the building it should be safe to be near me. AFTER the coffee people! AFTER the coffee!

A MOTHER’S DAY LETTER

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(Originally posted on the website Continuum…)

(This entry is a letter that was written by my Mom for my grandmother who passed away earlier this year. A brief explanation follows.)

DEAR MOM,

This is my first Mother’s Day without you. It has been four months since your passing. I still think you are here for fleeting seconds at a time before reality sets in.

Eighty-eight years sounds like such an eternity. Fifty-eight years sounds almost as long. But that too has been fleeting.

Wasn’t it just yesterday when you took us to Hummer’s Beach? Wasn’t it just yesterday we had our Tuesday night tickling matches while Dad was bowling? Or at the cottage when corn on the cob was roasting on the fireplace or you were calling me in from the river? It can’t be that long since you made those beautiful gowns for my grade school plays or drove my friends and I to Mountain Lake to skate. Wasn’t it just yesterday when we sat on the beach together at Sea Isle City?

Everyone said I was tied to your apron strings. And they were right. I can remember hiding by your side when people would talk to me, hiding behind your skirt. We were two peas in a pod. Always having so much to say to each other every day. I miss that.

The memories of you and my childhood help to fill the moments of sadness when I remember you are gone. We laughed together all the time. Sometimes until the point Dad would get annoyed. Remember the days of jitterbugging in the kitchen or catching the runaway grapefruit in the motor home? Sometimes we’d laugh until the tears rolled down our faces.

I heard you call my name the other night while sleeping. I woke up startled and looked for you. My dreams of you are always comforting.

Sometimes I feel like an orphan at fifty-eight and wonder how little children survive when a parent dies. To have no parent alive is so odd to me. Even though you prepare for your parents death sometime during your adult life and make that thought go rapidly through your mind, you are never ready when it happens.

As I celebrate Mother’s Day this year with my own children, I cannot help but remember the example you set for me. I always admired the parental qualities of you and Dad. You showed me how to be loving, patient, unselfish, and understanding,compassionate,fair and most of all a good listener. To laugh at myself and have fun was most important. Having a strong faith is something you always showed and passed to me. It has sustained me through many trials when the light at the end of the tunnel seemed so far away.

We will celebrate with a picnic as we did with you both. You will be in my thoughts all day as most other days. The flowers I put on your grave will bring me joy and sorrow at the same time.

If I could have one wish it would be to have one more day with you to talk and laugh and enjoy the sunshine while sitting on the deck. We would celebrate “something” to have dessert with no calories. We’d complain about “Bush” and tease “Bushwacker” about him. We laugh ourselves sick when talking backwards. Only the two of us could understand it. We’d stay up late talking and watching TV. I would hold your soft hand and kiss your soft cheek and tell you goodnight. You’d say, “Thanks for everything” and I would say “my pleasure!”

So, my dear Mom, as I sit here with memories flooding my mind and tears streaming down my face I thank you for a wonderful childhood and for all the times you were my caregiver, confidant, healer, friend and clown. For all the values instilled in me to be a patient and loving mother and person I thank you and give you all the credit.

I know you are in a better place and enjoying a glorious day in heaven celebrating Mother’s Day.

With all my love…

Your loving daughter,

Jeanette

MANY OF YOU are aware that my grandmother passed away in January. She was a wonderful, caring, gentle woman. She was always supportive of all of her children and grandchildren. I wrote about these things around the time of her death in the following entries:

All of the qualities of Gram that are portrayed in this letter were a joy and blessing not only to her children, but also to her grandchildren and even her great-grandchildren. Even in her last months and days, she loved us all and was always happy to see each one of us. She loved the little ones. How she loved to hold them! She was always gentle and patient with them. She would let the little ones talk and tell her jokes. I will always remember how she sang children’s songs with my H and M shortly before she passed away, even though she was becoming increasingly weak and frail.

Mom and Gram shared very special moments while Mom cared for her as she suffered from cancer between August 2000 and January 2001. As mom said, they would think of just “anything” to celebrate. Mom also encouraged Gram to stay active. Though she was nearly blind, Gram insisted on at least folding the bath towels. She made Christmas ornaments. The days came when she needed constant assistance to move around. Mom would print out award certificates for Gram as she accomplished tasks that healthy people do not think twice about. I remember Mom giving Gram these awards during the summer Olympics. Once while visiting Gram on a weekend, I asked her how she was enjoying her stay at Mom’s. She replied, “The service is wonderful here. I highly recommend it!”

Gram was not one for complaining. But she was always quick to laugh. During the presidential elections last November, she did not want George W. Bush to win. Stepfather was voting for Bush. So Mom and Gram named him “Bushwacker.” And the two of them teased the poor guy to no end. Gram maintained her sense of humor through all that she suffered. She also maintained her mental faculties, except for brief times when the cancer affected her. I am convinced that she was aware of what was happening around her during her last hours. The night before she passed, she was so weak that she could not speak and could not focus her eyes to respond when someone spoke to her. She tried. Yet at one point, when several of the ladies present were trying to turn Gram onto her side and were laughing at their inability to coordinate the move, Gram laughed out as well. How happy we were to hear it!

My last memory of Gram is of the final time that I was able to tell her that I loved her. I kissed her forehead. Said, “I love you, Gram.” In her weakened condition all she could do was slightly raise her eyebrow. Satisfied that she had heard me, I said good-bye. I left that room thankful that this precious woman was my grandmother.

I thank my own Mom for having the courage to write this letter and to allow it to be shared with others. I am proud of her. I would not trade her for the world!

PITCHING QUOITS AND RAISING TEENAGERS

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(Originally posted on the website Continuum…)

TRY for a ringer. Aim for the hub. A little bit of strength. A little agility. Some skill. A little bit of coordination. And a whole lot of patient practice! But you also need to determine when an all out attempt for a ringer is just a little too risky. If you misaim slightly and hit the hub wrong, you might end up losing all points completely. Sometimes you need to know when to forsake the ringer shot and instead aim to get closest to the hub and at least gain one point, perhaps “digging” your opponent and forcing him out of the way.

Now, I suppose you think I am talking about the art of pitching quoits in that first paragraph. Well, you are sort of right. But my primary thought is about raising teenagers. I am learning that there is a certain skill involved in raising that unique form of human being. Parental agility and coordination are definitely required. The ability to juggle is always a plus. Patience. One cannot say enough about the need for patience in the realm of parenting teenagers. Sometimes I wonder if God’s primary purpose in giving us children is to develop our patience. Notice I did not say “teach us patience.” Sometimes “teaching” is enough. But for most of us it takes stronger measures to work this highly unnatural quality into our characters. Sometimes it takes molding, carving, breaking, remolding, shaping, grinding. In my case it has taken downright “bludgeoning” and near “pulverizing” to achieve even a minimal level of patience. Plus parenting takes practicing, especially with teenagers. They are semi-adults and they can spot your flaws and inconsistencies. Boy can they point out those inconsistencies quickly! (They have yet to enter the school of patience.) So all one can do is one’s best. When that doesn’t work one can only try again, striving for improvement. Recognize your weaknesses. Admit your mistakes. Step up to the line and pitch again. The one thing you can never do though is QUIT!

LAST weekend my family got together for a picnic at my Mom’s house. Sister C, B, Nephew J, Nephew P, Niece B, Sister Ch, Brother B, Brother B’s new girl, Mom, Stepfather and Stepfather’s Friend F were all there. Dogs and burgers were cooking on the grill. (Sorry Sister Ch, veggie dogs just don’t do it for a carnivore like me!) Mom made her world famous potato salad. The kids were hyper from all the soda they were drinking. The sky was so clear. The air was warm. It was a good day for a picnic. It was a super day for pitching quoits! I got the boards out of the trunk of the car. We put the hubs on. The games began.

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LET ME fill you in on quoits (Pronounced “kwaits”). Pitching quoits is very similar to pitching horseshoes. The game seems to have originated in England. There are several varieties of quoits. In the area where we live, people play what is referred to as Pennsylvania Slate Belt quoits. The quoits themselves are circular and made of hard rubber (as opposed to steel quoits used in other parts of the world). The object of the game is to “pitch” these quoits onto a 2″ x 2″ slate board, attempting to throw the quoits onto a metal hub in the center of the board. The boards are set up at a distance of 18 feet from each other. Players take turns pitching their quoits. The player who throws his closest to the hub earns one point. The player who throws a “ringer” gets three points. Here is an interesting website with a lot of information on the game of quoits: www.quoitpits.com. Pennsylvania Slate Belt quoits is a fairly localized game. It is popular in northeastern Pennsylvania and small parts of northwestern New Jersey. Outside of that region most people do not even know what you are talking about when you mention the word “quoits.” (“Quoits? Isn’t that a country that had something to do with the Gulf War?) It is common to see people in our area pitching quoits in their backyards. Often the bars around here have quoit boards in addition to dartboards and pool tables. There are even quoit leagues in this area. Those are the “hardcore” quoit pitchers. You don’t want to mess with them!

My family is of the “backyard” quoit pitching variety. We certainly had a good time playing at our picnic. We had some rivalries going. Mom has a killer pitching arm. Now I know why those spankings hurt so much! Ouch! Do you know that she even broke a hairbrush over the back of my hand one time? I will have to tell you about it sometime, if I can bring myself to face such a traumatic episode of my innocent developmental years. (“Heh heh! Hi, Mom!”) B and Stepfather were pitching like maniacs and each had several ringers. My sisters pitched like girls. (“Sorry, couldn’t resist!”) I don’t remember Brother B pitching at all. But he turned 21 today (“Happy birthday, Little Bro!”). So, maybe he is man enough to pitch some quoits with the big guys now.

AS FOR ME, well, I could not get a ringer to save my life that day! I just could not get my “groove” going. I lost my “mojo.” I was all thumbs and left feet. Superficially I would tell you that it was because I was tired from biking 20 miles with Friend J the day before. But in reality, I think it was because of some deeper things. Maybe I can explain without getting too detailed.

Let me return to the quoit pitching analogy. Being a single parent is like playing quoits with the boards set twice as far apart. After a while the quoits begin to feel like they weigh two tons a piece. Often it seems like you are forced to throw with your weak arm. It gets a little harder to determine when to go for the ringer and when to try with all of your might just to get close enough to the hub to score one point. If you are a single parent, I know you are shaking your head in agreement right now, even if you have never played quoits. You know what I am talking about. Sometimes it feels like you are never going to win. You feel outnumbered. You have more opponents than you can name and most of them CHEAT at the game! You get frustrated. You get discouraged. You often think that you could do better if you had a partner on your team. Often you just get plain old TIRED! Sometimes you might even entertain the thought of walking away from the game. Now, add to all of this the “handicap” of parenting teenagers on your own. Man! Now it’s like trying to pitch with your hands tied behind your back!

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Do you understand where I am coming from? When I woke up on the day of our picnic my hands were already tied behind my back. My body was beat from that 20-mile ride. But my emotions felt like they had been on a 20-mile ride and run over by a truck on that last and final hill right before home. I woke up at 10 AM starving. So I ate a piece of pizza. (Hey this is a single parent household run by a MAN! Sometimes anything goes when it comes to filling bellies!) I lay in bed reading a good science fiction book attempting to escape for a while (book 4 of the Dune chronicles by Frank Herbert). But I fell asleep and didn’t wake up until 1 PM. I just did not have the strength, agility, coordination or patience to accomplish the whole parenting teenagers gig that day. It even showed in my quoit pitching when I finally got to the picnic.

IT SEEMS that it is always on these kinds of days as a single parent that your opponents decide to play rough. After a few whacks in the forehead, you realize that they are no longer attempting to merely get a ringer on the board. They are aiming for your brain! That is when you remember that parenting really is not a friendly backyard game where the only thing you stand to lose by missing the mark is a little bit of dignity when the other guys tease you for pitching like your sisters. No. Parenting is more like a war with immensely high stakes! The stakes are the well being and development of their minds, hearts, bodies and souls. It is a war of multiply and complex battles, the outcome of which has far reaching, lifelong and even eternal implications. Yes, in the middle of the picnic I took a few shots to the head. A certain adolescent offspring of mine decided to give the old man a run for his money. It is amazing what strength one can find when the need arises! Somehow, after getting knocked on my butt momentarily, I managed to get up, brush myself off and pitch my quoits. Yes, I missed the first time. And the second. I got a little closer on the third. I knew better than to try for any ringers. You sometimes have to pick that battles that promise the greatest success and throw for one pointers with all your guts. I think it worked for me a little that afternoon. I may not have won the battle that day. But I did not lose all my ground either. The war is not even close to being over. I might talk about quitting. I might feel like walking away from it all. But ultimately I WILL NOT quit! I might be all thumbs and left feet. I might be weak and tired at times. I might have to take on a few Goliaths as opponents.

Now hand me my quoits and step aside. It is my turn to pitch!