September 2011


From the film Don Juan DeMarco, 1995

“There are only four questions of value in life, Don Octavio.
What is sacred? Of what is the spirit made?
What is worth living for? What is worth dying for?
The answer to each is the same. Only love.”

Imagine this scenario: One day you feel your chest tighten and before you know it, you are in the hospital having heart surgery. Now imagine things going from bad to worse and you eventually require a total of five serious surgeries, you spend over four months in intensive care, you flat-line (die) several times, encounter a number of other life-threatening health issues, and are given the last rites more than once by the attending priest. It’s a nightmare most people would not survive.

The fact is, my good friend Lee lived this nightmare and survived. He not only survived but is now living with a positive outlook and a renewed zest for life. How did he do it? Well, on a recent visit, as my wife and I sat and talked with him under the stars of the Arizona sky he calls home, he explained. In a deeply philosophic tone, and tender romantic spirit, he said: “You know, most people cannot point to one person and say that person saved my life. But I can,” as he pointed across the table to his loving wife Susan.

It would take an entire book to describe all that Susan did for Lee. She fought battle after battle taking on everyone and everything that stood in the way of her husband’s health and recovery. The odds were never in their favor, but she did not give up, and in the end, neither did Lee. To describe even the little I know about the hell they both went through would not do justice to their story. Without question, this is one of the most extraordinary love stories I’ve ever witnessed. 

After only months back home, once again learning how to eat, stand, walk, etc., Lee is now in the gym, in the pool, and well on his way to living life to the fullest. It’s a great story, a passionate love story, and a testament to the power of love and the human spirit. Can love conquer all? In this case the answer is a resounding yes. A wonderful life-lesson for us all.

 

www.TheBestofOurLives.com

 

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Let me begin by saying I’m probably one of the most patriotic people you will ever meet. My father served in WWII and his father in WWI. I served four years in the U.S. Air Force during the Viet Nam war. I also consider every first responder and all civilians who gave assistance on 9-11 to be true heroes. Additionally, I was and still am heart-sick for our country and everyone who suffered the loss of a loved one in the cowardly attack on innocent life. I didn’t, however, participate in the cultural and media-created grief-fest over the last month.

As a typical young man growing up in this country, I took my share of blows. As a skinny 7th grader, I was punched by the biggest 9th grader in school when I accidentally stepped on his foot. Pretty sure I broke some ribs but I never told anyone about it. Later on as a high school senior, I took out the catcher while scoring the winning run that gave my baseball team the league championship. Guess which one I choose to celebrate? What has happened to our culture when we create a spectacle to remember taking a horrible cheap shot from a bunch of lunatic fanatics? And why have we spent so much time building a monument to, lets face it, our biggest defense failure?

I can predict some of the answers. One would be we are doing this to honor the victims. Yes, I’m sure that’s part of it. But we won’t forget those people. They were the murder victims of heartless criminals. What I believe we should have done was build a new set of buildings twice as high on that site. What has happened to our can-do spirit in this country? We cry and moan over every mishap and wallow in collective grief. Remember when Princess Diana was killed in a car accident? For days the media brought us images of people around the world gathered in mass laying down flowers and crying. I felt bad for her and her family, but to be honest, I had never met her. I certainly didn’t break down or have a desire to gather with my neighbors to grieve. We all suffer the loss of loved ones. It’s the most difficult and emotional aspect of life. But if something happens to me on the highway, I sure don’t want my family to gather at the place of my demise and build a roadside memorial to visit each year.

When 9-11 occurred, I was so proud of our nation’s great resilience and defiance despite suffering such a horrifying attack. Now I feel we have been shown to be a nation of weak and powerless wimps, wallowing in a collective sea of pity and self indulgence. I truly honor those who lost their lives on 9-11, but seriously worry our culture has lost much of its grit and spirit.

North to Alaska 

 

Last week my wife Trisha and I, along with my mother Marty, sister Sharon , and good friends Madelynn and Juan, had the good fortune to explore the great state of Alaska. It was our third visit, and for those of you who have traveled to this scenic wonder, you already know its indescribable beauty. Fortunately for us, the weather proved to be just cold enough at the glaciers to meet expectations, offered a few brief showers in some locations, and provided the most glorious days even the locals and our ship’s crew described as the best weather they had ever seen. 

 If you’ve never been to Alaska, do yourself a favor and make plans to see one of the most spectacular places on earth. Here are just a few of the hundreds of photos we took on our plane, train, and ship travel adventure: