“It Don’t Come Easy”

“Just open your eyes and realize the way its always been…”       Moody Blues
“I’m going through changes…”           Black Sabbath                                                                                                                       
“I’m trying hard to understand                                                                                                                                                                  I know we can make it together,                                                                                                                                                                  cause you see I’m changing –                                                                                                                                                                       I’m a changing man…”                        John S.  1981

111I was reading through some older posts yesterday and came across this particular entry. Reading it I was reminded of the difficult twists and turns our life journey sometimes takes, and how our choices and decision set these side trips in motion. For me it was miles and miles of poor choices and disappointments followed by a long period of melancholia. Then out of the blue a series of events occurred that opened my eyes and the light bulb came on! At long last I was finally able to make more good decisions than poor ones and change happened.

I can’t tell you the exact moment it happened, only that it did happen. Hell it’s still happening! I can’t tell you why it happened, I suppose I was just ready. The winds of change were blowing in the right direction, my direction.

The 80’s were just getting started and I was nearing thirty. Scary times.  I had come of age during the ‘peace, love, dove,’ decade of the 60’s, you know, the “sex, drugs and rock & roll era!” Yeah, from the Summer of Love in 67 through Woodstock in 69  I had a blast! I enjoyed the hell out of those years,  probably a bit more than I should have.
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Just married! November 1973

Then the 70’s came rolling in and in no time I became an active participant in the status game. I got sucked in like most of the twenty-somethings, into the ‘I, me, mine’ decade, got married and began my pursuit of the almighty dollar. And although by all appearances I seemed to be doing okay, believe me, I wasn’t. I had not been prepared for the so called ‘decade of greed.’ Then came the 80’s.

At twenty-nine I was not a happy camper. I hated my life! Nothing seemed to be going right. Everything was going to hell! I hated my job, oh it paid well and kept me in the ‘keeping up with the Jones’ game, but I couldn’t stand it. My anger and self doubt was destroying my marriage and my relationship with my young children. My life (at least from my point of view)  seemed to be just one disappointment after another. My only recourse was to lock myself away in my den with my stereo God and drown my sorrows in a daze of music, marijuana and bottle after bottle of Budweiser, which I did often, too often…
I was going nowhere quick but didn’t really care. Then in September of eighty a former girlfriend was killed in a traffic accident, a major turning point in my life. She had been my first love, the girl I thought I was going to marry, the girl who broke my heart. It was not her death that fanned the flame within me, but it’s aftermath. While attending the reception following the funeral service I chanced to overhear her young daughter talking about her mom and sharing happy stories about her, pleasant memories. She had been a very good mom. I listened for quite some time and when I finally walked away I was crying.

On the drive home and for months to come the memory haunted me. I began to wonder what my children would say about me if I were to die suddenly. A single image always came to mind, my kids being asked about me and saying, “yeah I remember my dad, sitting in his den listening to music, and when we’d enter the room he’d shout at us, “Get out of here I’m busy! Leave me alone I’m busy!” “Get out of here Now!”  Not a very pleasant way to be remembered.
Then in December my rock hero John Lennon was assassinated. In the tons of articles and new stories that followed his death, I read how he had made the decision to leave the music industry behind for a 5 year period so that he could be there with Yoko to help raise his son. He wanted to be available to answer his son’s questions, bake bread together and share in his discoveries. Again I was driven to ponder my own shortcomings as a father. Why couldn’t I be that kind of father, that kind of man?
A month later in early 1981 my grandmother passed away. We were very close. I loved her so very much. I was the grandchild  who had given her the nickname that stuck with her forever. Before I renamed her all the grandchildren called her grandma Pepa, Then I came along and dubbed her grandma Pepita. The name stuck. Her death like the others drove me deeper into myself searching for the reasons I was the way that I was, searching for answers on how to make things right, searching for direction.
I spent the next five month, a period I call my epiphany period, doing some heavy duty thinking. It was my window of opportunity, a chance to learn, understand and grow, a chance to begin my metamorphosis. Best decision I ever made. Of course, it didn’t happen overnight, I wish it could have, it would have made my journey a whole lot easier. In time I was able to gain back my wife’s trust and respect and we were able to move on. We were a family once again. A year later I returned to college full time and was able to be their for my two children. It was quite an experience to be the one taking and picking them up from school, attending teacher conferences and taking them to doctor appointments, I loved those year and wouldn’t trade them for the world. Upon graduating I became a Middle School teacher and loved every minute! Seven years later I earned my Master’s Degree and went on to be a high school counselor which I also enjoyed. Today my wife and I are retired and we’re still moving on…                                                                                                                                                                                   Making life changes isn’t easy. It’s a painstaking endeavor that takes time and commitment, it cannot be rushed. Soul searching and understanding are hard work.  But good things are the result of hard work, they don’t come easy. The harder you work, the sweeter the reward. Believe me I know!
Life Change Happens!  Go for it!

                                  

 

 

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One Response to “It Don’t Come Easy”

  1. Paul McCully says:

    Wonderful story John.

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