adventurer. photographer. humorist. aspiring filmmaker. goonie. Live to 🌏 travel. Minneapolis.

2018 U. S. Government Shutdown

Dear Federal Elected Officials:

As a Minnesotan and a fellow American, this shutdown is inexcusable and the finger-pointing needs to STOP. This is yet another reason you all need to be out of a job come re-election. The saying that goes “diapers and politicians need to be changed often and for the same reason” has truth ringing to it.

This situation is disrespectful to the American people, disgraceful on the world stage and unforgivable to those depending on bipartisan compromise when it comes to safety, health & well-being and immigration reform.

Get your act together, come to the realization that you are not in Washington to serve yourselves and your personal agendas … you are there for We the People.

You owe a solution to the American people.

Get to work!


We The People …

My fellow Americans … I don’t get political often, but when I do, you know I’m forlorn…


ONE MAN should not be allowed not the love I have for this country. ONE MAN should not be allowed to change the love I have for my fellow citizens. ONE MAN should not be allowed to change my belief in kindness and equality for all. ONE MAN should not be allowed to change decades of progress for this and in this country … progress that is multifaceted, change that is inclusive and breaks down barriers, instead of building WALLS. ONE MAN should not be allowed to cause the downfall of our GREAT NATION.






Fascism is not our future—it cannot be; we cannot allow it to be so—but this is surely the way fascism can begin.



40 Positive Things About Turning 40

One of the most enduring things about aging is that turning 40 seems like a Big Deal. And it is — but not because you’re “getting old.” It’s a big deal because you’ve successfully made it this far, and have a lot of life experience worth celebrating. In case you’re having a hard time thinking of all the good things about being 40 (that’ll happen after four decades, see #21), here is a list of 40 positive things about being 40.

1. 40 is the new 30.

2. Actually, 40 is the new 20.

3. But then again, you’ll be glad you aren’t 20 anymore.

4. You’ll probably hear “wow, you look great for your age” more and more.
5. Chances are, your days of having to deal with what to do with your hair are numbered.
6. Your tastes are set in stone, and that’s a good thing — no more wondering if it’s “cool” to like such and such movie, song or TV show.
7. Bedtime is something you really, really look forward to — almost as much as you used to look forward to going out with friends.

8. You’ve earned your crow’s feet and laugh lines.
9. The “kids” in your life (either your children, nieces, nephews, etc.) are getting old enough to do real chores.

“Life really does begin at forty. Up until then, you are just doing research.”

 – Carl G. Jung

10. People take you more seriously — with age comes experience, and with experience comes respect.  Theoretically, that is how it should work.
11. Some things really do get better with age — like wine and your choice in whom you spend your time with.

12. If your clothes start to get tight .. chances are you’ll rather buy new ones that try to shrink back into your old ones.

13. You don’t let the haters get to you.

14. But if they do, you don’t let it get you down too long.

15. If you haven’t done that big thing you’ve been avoiding by now, you probably won’t — and that’s ok.
16. You can say “when I was your age” with authority and people will listen.
17. If you aren’t up on the “cool thing,” people will understand. You rejoice in your non-coolness!
18. A “mental health” vacation day is no longer a luxury — it’s a necessity.

19. Spending $100 dollars on a household appliance finally seems reasonable.
20. The repertoire of movies, TV shows, songs and maybe even books you can quote is pretty lengthy, which impresses your younger friends to no end.
21. But if you can’t remember your favorite line from your favorite movie, blaming memory loss due to age is acceptable.

At age 20, we worry about what others think of us. At 40, we don’t care what they think of us. At 60, we discover they haven’t been thinking of us at all.

– Ann Landers

22. Forgiving others is easier because in all likelihood you’ve made the mistakes they have at this point. Forgiveness is much easier when you realize we all make bad choices sometimes.

23. Your priorities are probably a little more in order than they were in your thirties (no, you don’t need to spend half a week’s paycheck on buying anything consumable).

24. In fact, money management is something you’ve learned a thing or two about — or as Erica Diamond of Women on The Fence puts it, don’t “spend next week’s paycheck”.

25. You’re saving money you used to spend on going out because you know the way you’ll feel in the morning isn’t worth it … and you’d rather sleep.
26. Same goes for the fancy coffee drinks — isn’t a nice staycation in the Spring worth forgoing a month’s worth of frozen foofy sweet beverages?

27. When people say something unkind, you have a thicker skin … and a larger repertoire of witty retorts.

28. You also realize unkind people are probably worse off than you.

29.  True friends and family will really bring their A-game if/when you need them.

30. But you also can feel totally fine having to rely on yourself to solve the problems at hand.

At twenty years of age, the will reigns; at thirty the wit; at forty the judgment.

– Benjamin Franklin

31. “Fear of missing out” has been replaced by “Fear of missing an awesome night watching TV.”

32. You know the sheer joy of taking off your work clothes at the end of a long day and getting in your comfy clothes.

33. You’re comfortable saying “because I said so,” because you’ve learned your instincts are usually right, even if it angers someone.

34. You’re comfortable waiting out that adult tantrum when you’ve said “because I said so” because you know this, too, shall pass.

35. You’re also okay with occasionally handing over a “verbal victory” to keep them from throwing that tantrum in the first place. Everything in moderation.

We don’t understand life any better at forty than at twenty, but we know it and admit it.

– Jules Renard

36. “Everything in moderation” is your motto and it’s been good to you.

37. Though sometimes mottos are meant to be broken, and you know that’s okay, too.

38.  You are much more appreciative of the family and friends that you have surrounding you and grateful for each day with them.  For … nothing lasts forever.

39.  … I forgot what this one was supposed to be.  See, a few hours in and it is already an epidemic.

40.  The most important thing that nobody tells you about your 40s is this: You are who you are, and probably, who you’re going to be.  Although, it is never too late to make a change.

There.  I feel much better about turning 40.  Thanks.  I needed that.


Me and my sister, Michele in 1978


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Bidding 2017 Adieu …

Happy New Year’s Eve, friends!
Another year will soon begin and with it, new hopes, dreams, and aspirations – a beckoning desire that sprouts in every human heart that speaks of all the happiness, prosperity and goodness to come.

The year past may have shown a dark state of affairs around the world with stories of war, tragedy, and failures of humanity, never ceasing to seize the world’s attention.
But the excitement of a new year also brings with it an anticipation of a better future. This is one real moment that will touch the very fabrics of all human emotions that entails not only hope but a reason to keep smiling and living life as it unfolds.
“Your success and happiness lies in you. Resolve to keep happy, and your joy and you shall form an invincible host against difficulties”.– Helen Keller
To all who have shuffled off this mortal coil this year, and to those that have gone before them … we strive to carry on and make the world all that they ever dreamt it could be.

The Harbor in Sydney, Australia – New Year’s 2018 (07:00 CST 12/31/2017)

“I wish you enough …”

Recently, I overheard a mother and daughter in their last moments together at the airport as the daughter’s departure had been announced. Standing near the security gate, they hugged and the mother said: “I love you and I wish you enough.  The daughter replied, “Mom, our life together has been more than enough.  Your love is all I ever needed.  I wish you enough, too, Mom.”  They kissed and the daughter left.
The mother walked over to the window where I sat.  Standing there, I could see she began to cry.  I tried not to intrude on her privacy but she welcomed me in by asking, “Did you ever say good-bye to someone knowing it would be forever?” “Yes, I have,” I replied. “Forgive me for asking but why is this a forever good-bye?” “I am old and she lives so far away.  I have challenges ahead and the reality is the next trip back will be for my funeral,” she said.

” … to love another person is to see the face of God.”
When you were saying goodbye, I heard you say, “I wish you enough.” May I ask what that means?”  She began to smile. “That’s a wish that has been handed down through generations.  My parents used to say it to everyone.” She paused a moment and looked up as if trying to remember it in detail and she smiled even more. “When we said ‘I wish you enough’ we were wanting the other person to have a life filled with just enough good things to sustain them”.
Then turning toward me, she shared the following, reciting it from memory …
“I wish you enough sun to keep your attitude bright.
I wish you enough rain to appreciate the sun more.
I wish you enough happiness to keep your spirit alive.
I wish you enough pain so that the smallest joys in life appear much bigger.
I wish you enough gain to satisfy your wanting.
I wish you enough loss to appreciate all that you possess,
and I wish you enough hellos to get you through the final good-bye.”
She then began to cry and walked away.  They say it takes a minute to find a special person. An hour to appreciate them. A day to love them. And an entire life to forget them.

Wishing you ‘enough’ in the New Year!

My Favorite Tunes … for the Holidays

I am a Christmas / Holiday music FANATIC.  I drive my friends and family batty during the holidays … listening to it in the car, in the house, on my phone, on the computer, on the airplane … I LOVE CHRISTMAS / HOLIDAY MUSIC!!!!!

That being said … I wanted to share a few of my favorite tunes with you … just in case you want to spread Christmas cheer to all of your friends and family too!

    1. Sleigh Ride (Boston Pops directed by John Williams)
    2. 12 Days of Christmas (Ray Conniff Singers version)
    3. Jolly Old Saint Nicholas / Little Drummer Boy (Ray Conniff Singers version)
    4. I want a Hippopotamus for Christmas      
    5. White Christmas (Bing Crosby 1942 Original version)
    6. The Christmas Song (Nat King Cole version)
    7. Holly Jolly Christmas (Burl Ives version)       
    8. Frosty the Snowman (Jimmy Durante version
    9. You’re a Mean One Mr. Grinch                        
    10. Grandma Got Run Over By A Reindeer                 

Enjoy and Merry Christmas and a Very Happy New Year!!!


Remembering JFK

Happy Wednesday, friends.

Today is a day of Remembrance, as we prepare to give thanks for all that we have and all whom we have … as individuals, families, communities, as a country, and as a human race.

Much like September 11th, 2001, all American’s alive in November of 1963 have this moment seared in their memory forever. Remembering exactly where they were and what they were doing the moment the news broke …

President John Fitzgerald Kennedy was assassinated in Dallas, Texas on Friday, November 22, 1963, while on a political trip. His killer: Lee Harvey Oswald, an employee of the infamous Texas School Book Depository. Kennedy was shot once in the throat, once in the upper back, with the fatal shot hitting him in the head … Kennedy was pronounced dead at 1:00 pm. Only 46-years old, President Kennedy died younger than any U.S. president to date. JFK, was laid to rest at Arlington National Cemetery in Washington, D.C.

Highly quoted, still today, President Kennedy is described as: Determined, Diplomatic, Innovative, and kind, among other things. Here are a few of his well-known utterances:

“My fellow Americans, ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country.”

“Forgive your enemies, but never forget their names.”

“As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them.”

“Our most basic common link is that we all inhabit this planet. We all breathe the same air. We all cherish our children’s future. And we are all mortal.”

The idealism that Kennedy evoked in the world, and with the American People did not die with him. Although Kennedy failed to realize his promise, he left a legacy of hope to millions of Americans.

Have a great day. Be kind to one another.


In Awe of History …

Happy Sunday, friends!

Anyone who knows me, knows that I am a consumer of History, and find it awesome to be a part of History in the making, but sometimes, we need to look back, and reflect our past … Today, is one of those days.

154 years ago today, on the afternoon of Thursday, November 19, 1863, at the dedication of the Soldiers’ National Cemetery in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, four and a half months after the Union armies defeated those of the Confederacy at the Battle of Gettysburg, U.S. President Abraham Lincoln, delivered one of the best-known speeches in American history.

Beginning with the now-iconic phrase “Four score and seven years ago” — referring to the Declaration of Independence, written at the start of the American Revolution in 1776 — Lincoln examined the founding principles of the United States in the context of the Civil War, and memorialized the sacrifices of those who gave their lives at Gettysburg and extolled virtues for the listeners (and the nation) to ensure the survival of America’s representative democracy, that “government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.”

To Our Veterans

To all Veterans, Past and Present, and to those who will choose to protect our freedoms well into the future … a “Thank You” is simply NOT enough, although it may be all I have to offer. A simple thank you, along with the promise to do my best to see that each and every Veteran is taken care of, no matter their needs.

There are very few times in my lifespan that I have felt shame to be an American citizen. When it comes to Veterans and their well-being, I feel greatly ashamed for how, not only the government handles Veterans and their care following service, but to each and every one of us … civilians, who fail to motivate to their ever-growing need for aid and assistance.

Thousands of young men and woman return home each month with the ravages and horrific instances from war on their restless minds, and as they try to reassimilate to “regular life”, many end up exiting this world of their own hand, to escape the atrocities that haunt them. Why are WE THE PEOPLE not doing more to support these glorious souls? Why do we stand silent under the waving flag, as they stand above protecting us? There is more each of us can do to assure the health and safety of our Veterans. It should not be a chore, it should be part of your moral fiber as a human being.

However heartfelt, the words “Thank You” are just not enough to say to our Veterans and the families of those who have paid the ultimate sacrifice for the Freedom of these United States of America.

No matter your political persuasions, your religious/spiritual affiliations or your lack there of, or your lack you might have for our nation’s pride … one cannot simply ignore and fail to appreciate, celebrate and hail as heroes, those who have chosen a path to defend the ideals, morals, beliefs, interests and freedom of our nation and it’s people.

So today (and every day) I love and celebrate all who have served. If nowhere else but in my heart and mind, you are NOT forgotten.

If you’ve made it all the way here, thank you for taking a moment to listen … Happy Veterans Day!

*If you are, or know of a Veteran in crisis … please contact:

The Veterans Crisis Line
1-800-273-8255 and Press 1

Emergency Help is available 24 hours a day.

THANK YOU: Nick Taylor, Matheau Sater, Al Taylor, Jeffrey Ehn, Joe Reinhardt, Matt Vander Vegt, Dave Schlicher, Tiffany Rice, Janet Olson, Jason Hackler, Chad Smith, Zachary Robert Berg, Steven Rudolph, Robert Knowles, Dan McCarty Danny Mac), Aaron Kordiak

(Apologies if I missed anyone.)


Multiple people have been killed and much more injured in a shooting Sunday at a church in Sutherland Springs, TX.

Friendship … a fickle pickle?

I am the first to admit that I’m not at all the textbook, model friend. I’m horrible about keeping in touch, even though I love and care deeply for my true friends. I have been accused of being overly invested emotionally, which I refuse to apologize for. I am loyal, caring and overtly trusting … to a fault, again not something I will ever apologize for. I give 100% to those few who are close, and 1000% to those a bit closer still. There are still a few more that ARE family to me. It’s the connection and commonality among friends that matters most.

Length of friendship doesn’t always mean quality. I have friendships of almost 30 years that have decayed away to mere acquaintances and a few friendships of only a few months, who just feel like lifelong friends.

I do not, however, remain loving and loyal to those who purposefully hurt, lie, avoid, ignore, badmouth, or pretend to be someone they are not.

It has taken me a very long time, but I have learned never to make someone a priority in my life … when they only make me an option in theirs.

I know, I know … get to my point already! Okay, here it is … my entirely bleak outlook on friendship: Real, true, genuine lasting friendships are very difficult to cultivate and almost impossible to maintain for longevity.


Thoughts on Life and Relationships

I hope this finds you well and that you have a moment to endure what I am about to write here.  This may seem a bit long, but I have been doing a great deal of thinking, soul-searching, prioritizing lately and have come to the conclusion that I don’t let you know often enough how much I appreciate you.  If nothing else, I hope this gives you a little insight into that …

This may seem a bit odd (because you might not know me at all) and a bit long (as those who do know me, know I can be a bit “wordy”), but I have been doing a great deal of thinking, soul-searching, prioritizing lately and have come to the conclusion that I don’t let my friends and friends-who-are-like-family know often enough how much I appreciate them.  If nothing else, I hope this gives a little insight into that …

f2CAUTION! Random thoughts ahead.  Here it goes …

There are many that I am lucky enough to have called and many that I still have the privilege of calling friends.  Relationships with people in life come in all shapes, sizes, lengths and the quality of each friendship is unique and special.  A relationship that is forged in commonality and most often shared experience and I have been extremely lucky that I have had more than one friend that has supported me and my thinking outside the box, my unpredictable wanderlust soul, always needing to be changing things up and “on the move” and yes, even enduring my need to be the center of attention.

While I am extremely grateful for the abundance of friendly-acquaintances and other friendships that have evolved around my professional and educational life, it is my true Blessing to have a handful of friends of the life-long caliber, that no matter the distance or time that passes in between our speaking, still feels like we just spoke yesterday, “picking up right where we left off”, as they say.  While those relationships are not great in number, they are definitely and most certainly, truly the highlight of my life!  Those people have been present for a variety of events and happenings in my life and have always seen beyond the “black and white” of every situation encountered, always risen above it and accepting me with my many, many, many, many, many faults.f3

So to all of them, I say … Thank you … for tolerating all of my many idiosyncrasies and crazy, inherent, random shenanigans.  Thank you … for enduring my unintentional, horrific, inconsistent communication style and seemingly fair-weathered-friendship.  I have always set out with the best of intentions to stay connected and let all of them (you) know how much they truly mean to me and somehow, I always seem to lose focus somewhere along the way, using the excuse that everyone is busy with their own lives and is not missing out not seeing me.  For this, I must sincerely apologize.  I think about them often and wish we spoke and saw each other much more frequently.  I do also realize that relationships in life are a two-way street and can’t say I haven’t also thought that if they truly wanted to speak to me or see me, that they too would contact me.

As many of you already know, long-lasting friendships are extremely rare and hard to come by in this life and as we age (I’ll be 40 in January) it becomes increasingly difficult to maintain these close-knit relationships as people grow and evolve.


I wanted to take this moment to tell them all that they’ve helped me find great happiness in being the person that I am, always willing to give advice when I need it most and constantly listening to my unsettled soul rattle on about life’s many stressors.  I am so very grateful for each and every one, and I cannot say that enough, if fact … I have not said it often enough … but, I am truly thankful for each and every one!


I recently read that the secret to life-long friendship is to treat it not just as a Blessed Gift, but also as a truly important responsibility of which I am constantly trying to actively improve upon.  So thank you for your never-waning patience and your willingness to stand-by as life happens for each of us.

In this life, which I do have the realistic understanding that we are all living the best we know how, choosing to allocate our time and resources to the things that are front and center to our minds.  Unfortunately, sometimes, the things that push their way into the frontline, taking up the majority of our time on the Earth, are NOT the things that looking back in the end, should have taken priority.  I am quickly learning to balance and reprioritize life, to make the most of each and every day, with each and every person possible.

So there … that is what I had been thinking about … life and relationships.

Thank you for being part of my life.  I am horrific at fostering the friendships that mean and have meant most to me and I am determined to change that … if you are still reading this, present, willing and able!

I hope you are doing wonderful and that we will get an opportunity to catch up very soon!  Feel free send me a message if you get the chance.

Have a great holiday weekend!



Grief, Loss and the Human Spirit

I am blessed enough to have many wonderful, caring people in my life, and have had the unfortunate opportunity to share situations of grief and loss with several of those special angels.  I came across one of those memories again today and thought I would share the thoughts, feelings and aftermath with all of you.

Image result for grief and lossDeath presents two of the greatest quandaries facing humanity: how to cope with losing those closest to our hearts and how to contend with our own inevitable demise. As anyone who has been confronted with either of these challenges first-hand can tell you, it sometimes seems miraculous that the rest of humankind just marches on – dissecting tv show plots, complaining about the weather – when these issues are at the forefront of your mind.  Even when they’re not front and center, they always lurk in the background, haunting us with their possibilities, cultivating worry and unease as life marches on day-after-day.

I am not usually the pondering, reflective, insightful-type, but from time-to-time, I like to reflect on events past, and project hopes and dreams of the future, and one thing remains constant:  A great “Elephant in the room” that all humans know is looming in the room from the day we are born to this great Earth, but for reasons not fully known, we seldom speak about it, being TABOO and all. Humans do not like to think of their own inevitable mortality.  I speak of Death.  Something that each reading this is destined for.  Something out Maker had woven into our Eternal Plan from day one, and something that is often met with fear and trepidation.malinconia

Yes, I speak of death.  Something that each of you reading here is destined to.  Something our Maker had woven into our Eternal Plan from the day he conceptualized our existence, and something that is often met with great fear and trepidation, as humans fear things unknown.  “The Great Contemplation”.  The literal “To Be or Not To Be”.

Hopefully, the following words of pseudo-wisdom that flowed from my brain after a friends mother passed away will be of some comfort to you in a time, where death is that unwanted visitor, that foreign creature violation our lives and robbing us of a loved soul.

Grief and loss are really funny things when you actually stop to think about them.  It is plain and simple, pure selfishness and a great deal of love that motivates us to grieve. They are natural parts of how humans are made.  We haven’t fully, consciously grasped the realization that “We are merely a vessel in this world”, what we are at our very core, the “essence of our being”, our SOUL doesn’t always quench the need/want for the individual that has died, so God gave us incomprehensible coping abilities, along with love, friends, and family to aid with our existence after a loss.  If you are experiencing a loss or have had to do so in this adventure we call ‘Life’, know that there is always someone here, willing to do whatever is needed to be done, and in the absence of duty, is always willing to just listen.

To help with that, God gave us incomprehensible, unfathomable coping abilities, along with the gift of love, friends, and family to aid with our existence after a loss.  If you are experiencing a loss or have had to do so in this adventure we call ‘Life’,  know that there is always someone here, someone willing to do whatever is needed to be done, whenever it is needed and in the absence of duty, is always willing to just listen, comfort, hold and support.

“True joy is a profound remembering, and true grief the same.” – Clive Barker



A Plea to Those Who Have Come Before

Dear Presidents Barack Obama, George W. Bush, President Bill Clinton, George H. W. Bush and President Jimmy Carter,

Time for an Intervention. Can you please go to The White House and teach that severely morally and ethically challenged, megalomaniacal racist man how to do this job please, before anyone else gets murdered.

For all of your collective time as President, the events unfolding today are unlike anything modern America has experienced in their lifetimes, reminiscent of the pre-cursors to World War II and the horrors of pre-civil rights interventions.

Are people still ignoring the fact that we are in SERIOUS trouble, here?

As Arthur Miller wrote:

He’s a man way out there in the blue riding on a smile and a shoeshine. And when they start not smiling back—that’s an earthquake. And then you get yourself a couple spots on your hat and you’re finished.

Who isn’t seeing a few spots on Trump’s neckties?

Five_Presidents_Oval_OfficeIt is time for those who’ve done the job to descend on the current “Leader of the Free World” and offer counsel to get America back on track.

Pleading for your assistance,
Steve, and many, many, many, many other Americans.

P.S. Hillary Clinton, you should go to … perhaps he can learn a thing or two from you as well.

International Left-Handers Day

For the left-handed people of the world, life isn’t easy. Throughout much of history, massive stigmas attached to left-handedness meant they were singled out as everything from unclean to witches. In Medieval times, writing with your left-hand was a surefire way to be accused of being possessed by the devil; after all, the devil himself was thought to be a lefty. The world has gotten progressively more accepting of left-handed folk, but there are still some undeniable bummers associated with a left-handed proclivity: desks and spiral notebooks pose a constant battle, scissors are all but impossible to use and–according to some studies–life-expectancy might be lower than for right-handed people.


The 44th President of the United States, Barack Obama is left-handed, as well as at least six former presidents.


What makes humanity’s bias against lefties all the more unfair is that left-handed people are born that way. In fact, scientists have speculated for years that a single gene could control a left-right preference in humans. Unfortunately, they just couldn’t pinpoint exactly where the gene might lie.

A group of researchers has identified a network of genes that relate to handedness in humans. What’s more, they’ve linked this preference to the development of asymmetry in the body and the brain.

HYPOTHESIS: If handedness is genetic and if right-handedness is such a dominant trait, why hasn’t left-handedness been forced out of the genetic pool? In reality, the research suggests that handedness could be more subtle than simple “dominant” or “recessive” traits–a whole host of genes might play significant roles.brain.png

What’s especially exciting is that these genes all relate to the development of left-right asymmetry in the body and brain, creating a strong case for the correlation between the development of this symmetry and the development of handedness. Disrupting any of these genes could lead to serious physical asymmetry, like situs inversus, a condition where the body’s organs are reversed (heart on the right side of the body, for example). In mice, the disruption of the gene PCSK6, which resulted in serious abnormal positioning of organs in their bodies.

CONCLUSION: There is a genetic component to handedness, hundreds of different genetic variants, and each one might push you one way or the other, and it’s the type of variance, along with the environment you’re in and the pressures acting on you, which affect your handedness.

This Is A Good One!

While this is a lengthy tale (hey, it’s hard to sum-up 55 years in a couple of paragraphs) and the writing is most-likely mediocre, I can promise you that the life story told is exceptional (in my eyes) and the wish I am writing about: one of my LARGEST and most important dreams in life.  While the two main characters in this story are still alive and in fairly good health, this tale is about life, loss, family, and LOVE.

After all, we are talking about two-thousand eight hundred weeks of 2 lives.  Yes, that is over half of a century.  Two-thousand eight hundred sixty weeks
to be precise and I won’t even tell you how many seconds that is.  I can tell you for certain that MANY things have changed in the past 50+ years.

For example: In 1965, the average household income was $6,900.  In 2017, it is just about $70,000.  I think we can all agree that politics today have changed drastically compared to that of 1965.

… and Life Expectancy:  The average human life expectancy in 1965 was approximately 70 years of age: 74 years for females and 67 for males. In 2017, the average human life expectancy is approximately 79 years: 82 years for females and 76 for males.

That is one certain thing in this awe-inspiring thing we humans call “LIFE” … times change, the world changes and so do the people along with it.

What hasn’t changed?  Unconditional Love.  From many people, in many forms.

And that is where this story begins …

This tale begins in 1944 when a couple near Minneapolis, Minnesota welcomed a baby boy into the world, as the 3rd child, to what would become a family of 5 children.  My father (Nick) grew up in a very rural area after his family moved back to the VERY small town in Northern Minnesota where his parents had come from and being such, earning possibilities for his parents became increasingly difficult.  My dad and all of his siblings had to work hard from a very young age to help their family make ends meet (I think that is where his future children would come to have the same work-ethic).  Times being as they were, the family was never able to travel far from home or experience (what we today would consider) family vacations.  It wasn’t until 1963 when with my grandfather’s approval, my dad joined the U.S. Army and was able to leave Minnesota for larger parts of the world … which would eventually lead him to his tour of duty in Vietnam.  Dad graduated from High School and, due to cost, did not attend college.

I’ll leave my dad’s story here for now, and introduce you to my mom.

Fast-forward to 1947, when a baby girl was born near St. Paul, Minnesota, as the 3rd child to a single mother, who decided she could not care for the new arrival, and thankfully the tale turns to the Blessing of adoption.  In October of 1948, a wonderfully loving couple who had endured great strife, loss, and hardship of their own earlier in their lives (both parents had each lost both legs in several incidents (my grandfather in a farming accident and my grandmother, after being struck by a drunk driver) and who had already rescued one little girl from the system (my Aunt and Godmother), decided that God urged them that they needed another little girl to fill out their family, and thus the adoption of my mother, MaryJo occurred.  Dissimilar to my father’s childhood, my mother’s family had a humble, meager upbringing, but were able to travel within Minnesota, Wisconsin and occasionally to Canada to visit family there.  On September 27th, 1963 (When my mom was 14 years old) my grandma suffered a fatal cardiac arrhythmia during a family dinner at their Crystal, MN home and died as a result.

This is where the stories begin to intertwine …

In 1963, while attending high school, my mom met and befriended a classmate.  That classmate would eventually come to stay with my mom’s family when her family moves back to northern Minnesota, but not before meeting her handsome older brother, Nick. (Yes, the same man that would become my father.) Mom graduated from High School and also due to cost, never attend college.

In 1965, in Phoenix City, Alabama, while my dad was stationed at Fort Benning Georgia, my mom and dad made the best decision of their lives (other than having children, of course) and were married on the 14th of July.

I wish I could tell you that my parents have lived the textbook American Dream and have never wanted for anything … but, that would be far from the truth.

They struggled financially for many, many years after my dad got out of the Army.  They moved to several states, each working odd jobs, never making enough to settle down.

The Plot Thickens …

1972 – Long Beach, California: MaryJo and Nick give birth to a 3 lb. 12oz. baby girl which they named Michele (My BIG sister).

(Mother’s Day 1973, my mom’s father died of an aneurysm in Robbinsdale, Minnesota.)

1978 – Mesa, Arizona: MaryJo and Nick give birth to a 6 lb. 6oz. baby boy which they named Stephen (That’s ME!)

(In 1980, my dad’s father died of a massive heart attack.)

1981 – Phoenix, Arizona: MaryJo and Nick give birth to a 6 lb. 3 oz. baby boy which they name Robert (My little brother).

(In 1984, my dad’s mother died from a very large brain bleed.)

**Since 1993, my parents have been blessed with 6 grandchildren (Matheau (24), Alexis (17), KaitLynn (13), Huntur (11), Chloe (4) and Levi (3) and 1 grand-kitty, Bella (5).)

Now, looking back on my childhood … all the way through my 9th or 10th-grade year … I would not have told you that my family was by any means poor.  My siblings and I never wanted for anything.  We always had food to eat, a place to live, needed school clothes and supplies, bikes, and everything that makes a childhood, a childhood and MOST important, we have always had parents that loved us exceptionally and unconditionally.  Granted we didn’t travel the country or the world, but we were happy.  What I did not realize in those years was my mom was caring for 3 children, my father was working 2,3 sometimes 4 jobs, just to maintain life as we knew it.

Okay, on to the Meat-and-Potatoes of while I am really writing:

Christmas Eve morning of 1995 (I was 17 and remember every vivid detail of the day’s events) 0450am, my father awakes to have a massive cardiac event, which requires he be airlifted to a Minneapolis Heart Hospital, where suffering 2 cardiac arrests, he undergoes quadruple bypass surgery and spent the next  2 weeks in the hospital.

I remember my siblings and I (all working at this time to help the family) trying to work as much as we could to assist with bills and day-to-day expenses.  It was the first time in my life I really felt the stresses of finance.

Fast-forward to 1999, after undergoing routine hernia repair surgery at the local hospital, dad contracted a horrible hospital-bourne antibiotic resistant infection, which landed him in the ICU for a week.   Having an impossible time controlling the infection, the surgeons make the decision to go in and remove the hernia repair mesh (this would turn out to be a horrific decision, which my father still contends with to this very moment).

It would lead to December of 2005, when my father was transferred to the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota, where he would undergo 11 consecutive surgical procedures, to remove the infected tissue, and try to heal the open abdominal would he had been dealing with since the original surgery.  My father was at the Mayo Clinic for 53 excruciating days.

This was the second time in my life that I remember my siblings and I try to work as much as we could to assist with bills and day-to-day expenses, as well as keep my mom close by, as we lived 150 miles north of where Dad was.  I remember family friends helping us pay for overdue bills and driving mom and family back-and-forth.

When this event occurred, the company dad had been with for 8 years, let him go due to his extended absence.  This devastated my parents and my family financially.

It is 2017, and as I write this we have just passed 55 years of my parent’s meeting and starting to date. My father is preparing to turn 73-years-old in November and my mother just turned 70-years-old in April.

My plan as we celebrated their 25th anniversary, was to plan an extravagant and jet-setting tour of their most desired locations on the planet.  What could go wrong?  I had 20+ years to save up, right? Then, life happened.

My plan as we celebrated their 30th anniversary, was to plan an extravagant and jet-setting tour of their most desired locations on the planet. What could go wrong? I had 15+ years to save up, right?  Then, thankfully … life continued to happen.

My plan as we celebrated their 45th anniversary, was to plan an extravagant and jet-setting tour of their most desired locations on the planet. What could go wrong? I had 10 years to save up, right?  Again, thankfully … life continued to happen.

My plan as we celebrated their 50th anniversary, was to plan an extravagant and jet-setting tour of their most desired locations on the planet. What could go wrong? I now only had several years to save up and again, thankfully … life continued to happen … but it needed to SLOW DOWN!

Unfortunately, I, nor anyone else in my immediate family is in any financial position to assist in making the “Dream Trip” become a reality for the two most important, deserving, loving people in the life of my family and while I am extremely grateful to still have them both to kiss and hug and get advice from and laugh with and cry with … time is NOT slowing down, and human mortality is a topic of conversation.

My parents have never been financially able to travel together on any vacation throughout their entire lives, to any “vacation destination” within or outside of these United States.  Throughout my life, I have heard their travel dreams, their “when we win the lottery” moments … and as they continue to age, I fear they will die not having seen any of our beautiful planet that they spent 70+ years a part of.

Where have they expressed delight in visiting, you might ask?

Domestically: San Francisco, Niagra Falls, New York City, Washington D.C., Florida, Alaska, Hawaii, the U.S. Virgin Islands

Internationally: Ireland, Scotland, England, The Netherlands, Australia and New Zealand, the Carribean, Tahiti, Fiji, the Galapogos Islands

I have been lucky enough to travel to many, many places inside of the U.S. and internationally, either as part of a job I had at the time, an educational experience I was able to take part in, or travel I took as a guest of friends.

I have seen the beauty in the world.  I have seen the magnificence of the planet, and it saddens me to think the two most beautiful and magnificent people in my life may never live to see any of it.

That is my wish for them, and I think it safe to say, my siblings as well.

… and so I say to all whom may grace these words with the gift of THEIR time … I hope, if nothing else, I was able to share the story of my two most important, favorite, loving people.  Whether you know my parents or not, I thank you for reading this far and for the pleasure of your time.

If you are interested in learning more about the story or if you are interested in possibly contributing to this endeavor, please click here:

Mom & Dad: Thank you so much for showing Michele, Robert and I, and the rest of world that love can endure all of the struggles, great hardships and sometimes, immense pain and the great emptiness of loss and the grief that follows it.  Great love like that is NOT a faded thing of the past and no matter what, if you stick together, anything is possible! (Keep working on winning the lottery!)

I love you both more than words can properly describe.

You mean the world to all of us, and I am truly grateful to God that I have had the honor of loving you both for as long as I have been Blessed.

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