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Turning 50

October 31, 2019

In a matter of days, I’ll be the big 5-0.  Unlike my 40th birthday, I am looking forward to becoming fifty.  I wish I could have reached the mid-century mark without incident.  Unfortunately, like most people, I faced struggles and adversity.  I’ve even went toe-to-toe with death and won. 


I can’t believe I’m soon to be fifty.  It feels as if I was sixteen only yesterday, going on my dream trip to Paris.  My first escape from death happened in Paris.  While on the trip, Hezbollah decided they would bomb the Champs-Élysées.  My group had been in the area only short time before.  That event affected all of us and I am certain it started my journey dealing with PTSD.  The terrorist attack didn’t stop me from travelling as I ventured to England the following year. 


To this day, I travel whenever and wherever I can.  For my fiftieth, I will be in Prague, visiting the Terezin Concentration Camp.  I love history and seeing the sites I have read or learned about in school.  Traveling to famous historical sites helps me to understand what I’ve read and learned.  A thirty-year dream of seeing Pompeii came true.   I found myself intrigued by the ancient city because of a story I read in my encyclopedias. 


I’ve come to be more open-minded over the years and by doing so, gained a perspective on many things.  One such a perspective is I no longer group people together based on the actions of a few.  Well, I should say, I try not to judge them.  At least, I don’t base on their ethnicity.


I did that when I lived in Iqaluit my first time and it wasn’t until I left did I understand what I did.  Surrounded my Inuit who expressed their anger and resentment towards white people, it clouded my judgment and I found it difficult to see the difference between the indignant Inuit and the kind, sweet Inuit I’ve come to value and love.  I was wrong and I promised to never do it again. 


My outlook on life has grown over the years.  I don’t fly off the handle as easily as when I was younger.  While I still lose my temper, it is less often and it takes a lot for me to become angry.  Over the years, I’ve fallen into a deep depression and have even attempted suicide.  The last attempt was September 17, 2011. 


I remember this because it was the night before my brother was killed.  His sudden death plunged me into a depression which lasted for months, but it convinced me to never attempt suicide again.  I have contemplated taking my life since my brother’s death, but I call 9-1-1 when the thoughts enter my head. 


His death also opened my eyes to living my life, my way.  He died after he achieved his dream of fifty years, and I realized I hadn’t been following my own dreams.  One dream was travelling and I hadn’t done a lot of travelling from the time I went to England and my brother’s passing.  I’ve gone to a few NFL games and to Vancouver. 


The first trip I took after John’s death was to Scotland.  My paternal grandmother had been born and raised in a small village outside of Glasgow.  My father always wanted to see the country she left at sixteen.  He never had the opportunity to go, so I took it upon myself to go for him.  I could only afford to go for three days, but I made the most of it. 


I didn’t think I’d get to Barrhead, my nan’s birthplace, but I think I had someone watching over me and I could go.  I could only stay for a few minutes, but it was enough for me to take a few photos and get a sense of her life. 


I mentioned earlier; I had escaped death.  After two major surgeries, I wound up in the ICU.  The first stint, I had pulmonary edema and the second; I had pneumonia.  The second stay in ICU, I had been unconscious for several days. 


My family doctor at the time sent me to a respiratory therapist.  She said the fluid on my lungs once was a fluke; a second time told her things may be more serious.  After going through a series of tests, I went back to the specialist.  He stared into my eyes as he spoke. 


“I’ve looked at all your x-rays and test results.  According to the x-rays, you should be dead.  I’ve seen stronger people than you die with less on their lungs.  God has a plan for you.  As for the tests, the only thing that came back was a case of GERD so there is no explanation for the lung issues.” 


Not counting the failed suicide attempts, I have beaten death four times.  The fourth time I won’t go into here as I have written about it in my memoir, The Chosen One.  I consider myself fortunate to be a survivor which is why I call for help when I become suicidal.  Like the specialist said, my destiny is to do something with my life. 


The fact I’m about to turn fifty soon is a major accomplishment.  If any of my attempts or other extenuating circumstances had taken me, I would have died at least eight years ago.  I’ve learned life overall is good. 


I have times of stress, periods of depression, and the aches of arthritis.  None of them are any worse than another, just different pain.  All of us struggle with issues daily; we just deal with our problems in our own way.  We only have to discover what that way is. 


I understand people fearing change; but change can be good.  It’s all in how we look at it. 


I see fifty as a new beginning.  It’s a good age to plan for the rest of my life.  It’s time to look forward, leaving my past where it belongs; in the past.  Here’s to turning 50!



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