Do you ever wonder what if? What if the direction that your life took as a child had been different? What if your childhood friends had not been your friends? What is your high school friends had opted to not be your friends at all? Or if you went to college and are second guessing as to whether it was worth the $100,000 that you will be paying off for the next 20 years? And here is the biggest one, what if you had not married your high school sweetheart and was still with her after being with her since you were both only 16 years old? What if, and where would I be?
I think it’s probably normal to wonder about how things might have been different had we all decided to take a different approach into our lives after leaving high school. Who is to say that one of us might have ended up as being Governor of our state, or an astronaut, or a truck driver. Perhaps a guy that stocks shelves at Wal-Mart, or a dairy farmer. Who is to say that we might never have settled down in Maine but instead decided to live a life on the water in a boat and never own a house?
I’m almost 50 years old now and can honestly say that I have wondered about all of these things over the years. But, my next thought is that I would not change one single thing about my life, Oh, there are things that I might have done different, but I have always been satisfied with the end result. One thing is for certain, I would not be the man I am today if I had not married the love of life, the very girl I met when I was just sixteen years old. I am the father I am today because she helped me be that father. I am without a doubt, the man I am totally because of her. I owe her everything.
In 1984 I decided to join the U.S. Navy and become a corpsman, something that was near and dear to my heart at the time. I truly loved helping people and had a passion for working with pediatrics as well as geriatrics. Two extremes that in many respects were very similar. Before deciding on which direction I wanted to go in I did my stint as an EMT, or Emergency Medical Technician. Being an ambulance tech in a big city is far different that an ambulance tech in a small rural town. It was extremely stressful as well as gruesome. It was never ending. Accidents were constant, muggings were the norm and stabbings and shootings were also the norm and it was wearing me down quickly. When offered a job in one of the pediatric wards I jumped at the chance.
The trials of living in a big city were so different from the very small Maine town where I grew up. I had never witnessed night life like this before, and had certainly never stayed up all night long with friends going from bar to bar shutting them all down. I had never ever had alcohol before and this was something that I had ever only read about. And like most things, it seemed okay to do at the time. It now scares me to think about where I would be right now if it had not been for my girlfriend (now my wife) holding me accountable, and making me promise her that I would limit my alcohol consumption.
Jumping ahead a few years now we come to a point where after lots of planning for our wedding and setting a date my girlfriend and I took things a little to far and hence, our first child is made, and the wedding plans are moved ahead by three months and on May 23, 1987 I married my bride. I am so very pleased to say that today we are still together and still so very happy. Because of a recent diagnosis of Dementia for me, we have once again sped up our pace in life so that we can accomplish as many things as possible while I am of sound mind to do so and understand it. The hardest part of this diagnosis is the fact that it is robbing me, as well as my wife of time, that we had plans for. My wife is being cheated out of time that she is so deserving of and I cannot express enough as to how sad that makes me, and how sorry I am.
Time is the healer of all things, and the knowledge of my Saviour Jesus Christ, does help me prepare myself for not only my future, but my wife’s as well. As we both scramble to hasten the pace of our bucket lists, we hold on to the promise that we will once again be joined after we are separated as a result of this disease. A promise that will restore our bodies and well being, far better than it is even today. This is an extremely encouraging thought.
The only things I wish I could change is the times that I broke my wife’s heart while going through what i call manopause. Some suggest that it may have been the onset of my Dementia diagnosis. I like to think that this is the case, as it is an excuse for my actions, but the truth of the matter is that there is no excuse. I am grateful that we have moved past that chapter 5 years ago or more, and am concentrating on spending as much time with my bride as I possibly can. We are going to have “adventures” this summer like we never had before. Camping is going to be something that we do lot’s of as well as exploring our nature trails and National Parks. Weekend mini-trips are going to be plentiful, and we are going to create many, many, more adventures. I am going to live for today and not regret one single thing, being reminded daily as I look into the eyes of the woman I fell in love with when we were a mere 16 years old. I love you so much baby.