Monday, May 20, 2019

Regrets...




I have few regrets in my life as I have lived it by my own values and inclinations.  But I do have a couple that kinda haunt me. I have been an avid critic of public schools most of my adult life.  Specifically of unions and tenure, as I have believed that those two factors lead to mediocracy and cheapening of learning.  I still think that is true, but that leaves out the impact of great teachers and what they do to help children grow sand flower.

The other huge factor in retrospect is that growing up in the 40’s and 50’s I realize that I never would have gotten an education without them.  Without public schools the other option at that time was either private or military schools.  I believe my Dad would have seen to it that my brothers got an education, but since girls were not groomed for much beyond marriage and families, perhaps nursing or teaching, maybe secretarial, if you could type.  He would not have made sure I got an education, also, we could not have afforded private schools since my dad was a minister, he didn’t make much money.   So, without public education I would still be a “Hick from the Sticks”.  I would have ended up flat and empty. So that is my first regret, to not appreciate my early education until years after the fact,

The other deep and powerful regret has to do with a couple of teachers that are still influencing my life.  Mrs. Ross and Mrs. Goff were two of my sixth-grade teachers that somehow saw through all the smoke screen and crap I put out to something fine and worth honoring. 

They never wavered in finding something to comment on or encourage me to continue. That is all it took for me to start dreaming of a better, richer and rewarding life.  

My biggest regret is that I never got to thank them for, in many ways, saving my life.   By now they are long gone, so I hope they can look down and read this and understand how deeply grateful I am for their contribution to my life.

I want to thank all the teachers out there that see something fine in kids that work hard at hiding their excellence from all but a few great teachers.

Arleah

   








regrets...

Wednesday, April 17, 2019

DIMI IS DEAD: A BIT OF ME IS GO




Yesterday we put Dimi down.  He had another seizure and this one did him in.  He couldn’t stand, hear or see much of anything.  We took him to the emergency animal hospital and they medicated him to see if he could survive and live a while longer.  By the morning it was clear that his life was over.  We had tried everything, but it was time to say goodbye.  We sat in a room waiting for the nurse to bring in him, wishing that we could find some way to keep him going, knowing that it was time. It was one of those moments in life when your body is screaming no, and you have to muster up the will to go ahead and do what’s right.  Trying to keep him going would be for us; but a cruelty for him. 

They brought him in, wrapped in a blanket, and handed him to Arleah. His eyes were shut tight and he was uncontrollably shaking.  He was gone from this world and was a mass of pain and suffering.  The vet gave him a sedative and he mercifully stopped shaking.  She then gave him the lethal dose that stopped his heart.  He looked so peaceful as he was dying.  We gave him a kiss on his head and gave him back to the nurse.  It was over, and all we had then was our grief.

At times like these we have always found it bizarre to be filling out paperwork and charging things like a cremation.  We talked about the experience of picking out Sharon’s casket, and trying to decide what the lining should be.  It’s surreal, no doubt, to be dealing with the practicalities of death, when immersed in deep, gut-wrenching grief.  But, in retrospect, life goes on, and it must.  There is no consolation and the world knows nothing of your suffering; and that’s how it should be.

Today, I can think of nothing else but Dimi.  I expect him to be around every corner and think that I see glimpses of him as I leave a room.  If there’s a doggie heaven I can picture him sitting alertly and so cutely, looking for rabbits to chase.  I want him back so much, it hurts.  I don’t know how many more bits of my heart I can lose.  Arleah and I always wonder, every time we go thru this agony, if we can do it again.  I’m sure we will, but not now.

Morrie Shechtman
April, 2019

Monday, April 8, 2019

DIMI IS DYING: REFLECTIONS ON AGING AND GRIEVING


Our little dog is dying and it is heartbreaking to see him wandering around aimlessly, trying, I’m sure, to figure out what’s happening to him.  He has been a good friend and has brought much joy and happiness to our lives.  We feel privileged to have had his companionship for the past fourteen years, and it will be gut-wrenching to put him down.  He has lost control of his bodily functions; he stands in the middle of rooms, staring into space; and wakes up from his deep sleeps, disoriented and puzzled.  It is agonizing watching him disintegrate.  It will soon be time to say goodbye.

Arleah and I have felt, for some time, that we are dying.  We have acknowledged that we are in the last part of our life – it is not grim, nor depressing.  It is sobering, sad, full of loses.  We grieve a lot – for all the places we’ve been, for all the people no longer in our lives, for the places we’ve lived.  We have by no means given up on life.  We still love our work, and feel lucky to start people down the path of personal growth, and help others make profound changes in their lives. 

It is almost impossible to explain to people what it’s like to get old.  It’s not pretty.  There’s a saying we learned, when we were living in Montana, that sums up the experience – “There are no happy endings in nature.” The changes are enormous.  Arleah and I have been risk-takers and goal setters throughout are lives together.  But aging has tempered our risk-taking and our goals have a shorter window and are much less cosmic.  That has been difficult to accept. 

My work is more impactful than it’s ever been, and aging has allowed me to discard the burden of humility.  I am extraordinarily good at what I do.  I discover where people are stuck and what they need to change, with amazing speed and accuracy; and that feels enormously gratifying. Most people find that very helpful; some find it too much, too soon.

Other people, viewing us through a traditional prism, can run the gamut from irritating to insulting.  Most service providers over simplify their explanations of what they’re going to do, and talk way too loud.  I find myself regularly advising people that I have had a number of surgeries, but none of them have been lobotomies.

All in all, becoming an old person has been an ironic experience.  As we face the end, the opportunities to start anew are plentiful and intriguing.  Knowing us, we won’t be able to resist the challenge.

Morrie, At 76
November, 2018