What life has to offer…

….and so, as I was floating in the pool this evening I was feeling so thankful for what I have and reflecting on a time in my life, so long ago…when my youthful love struck heart was broken and…sitting in the swing on our lawn, in tears, asked God…”What is my purpose here, I am failing at this, take me now!”

I believe we have all been in this place in our lives.

The answers to these questions I asked so long ago have been revealed, at various times, along the way.

And, this moment…was one of those times…when you give thanks to God for the reveals along the way.

To those in despair…there are no guarantees in life, there is only hope that, at some point in life, small, seemingly insignificant events, will reveal themselves…as treasures you never would have realized had you taken another path.

Timelines, your timeline has a dynamic that is unseen until it is revealed.

Hope is yours to treasure.

Treasure hope…

(idle mind)

As I’ve grown older I’ve tried to become more tolerant toward things that, in the past, have irritated me.

Not so much the irritation, the irritability, the behavior.

…my behavior.

Insects…I saved a hornet from drowning the other day while in the swimming pool…that’s no way for a Hornet to die!!!

I saved a Hornet…

I’m changing.

Flies…I’ve become more tolerant of flies.

I think of them now as a species made up entirely of females.

Apparently, I’m wildly attractive to females.

And looking back, I’ve always been that way…

Picnics, outdoor events, sipping a bottle of “Perrier” poolside…

Snakes (not insects)

…an animal species I have yet to embrace.

Perhaps if I were bitten…just once, I might be less afraid of snakes.

But, I seriously doubt it.

The headline would go something like this,

“Local man dies after being bitten by a non-venomous snake.

The cause of death was inconclusive.”

Spiders…I wish I could be a fan.

They are too small for me to verify their demeanor. Sometimes they act aggressive…I yield…until they become so pushy, the “Alpha Whatever Iam” kicks in and “Captures & Releases” to the wild.

But Honey Bees…you’ve got to love them.

A predominately female species. Approximately 1000 Male fertile Drones, ten’s of thousands of infertile female Worker Bees…

and

…ONE QUEEN

UTOPIA!!!!

Now, as much as I love Honey Bees, I have been stung by one…

and their sting hurts just as much as a Hornet.

Serendipity (revised Sept 2018)

Serendipity

It is quite a stretch to imagine a perfect family. 

I was not raised in a perfect family. Nor my wife Nancy. 

Far from perfect seems the common theme regarding the households we grew up in. 

But perfect families are a rarity, I would imagine. 

Clearly from opposite ends of the social scale…to imagine how Nancy and I crossed paths is an epic tale that began in the Northeast and continues in the great State of Texas. 

Born and raised in the Village of Owego in Upstate New York, Nancy moved to Texas to be near her older sister Esther, an American Airlines Flight Attendant and, given that the home office was located in the metroplex, settled in for her first Texas summer…1980. 

Now, if you are from Texas, this needs no explanation, but, for those unfamiliar with Texas weather, in 1980 the temperature hit the century mark 69 times…the longest heat wave in Texas history.

Growing up in Owego, New York for Nancy was not as much a fairy tale story as it could have or should have been given that she came from a well established family, deeply rooted in the history of the Village of Owego. The story of her  childhood years and early adulthood are filled with, as most families’ stories, moments of nurturing love and kindness, as well as turmoil and heart wrenching tragedy, the final chapter of that fairy tale ending with the death of the matriarch and sale of the magic kingdom, allowing the surviving spouse to retire and start a new life in sunny Florida, his days filled with tee times and cocktail parties for the remainder of his life, while the surviving children, three sisters, fend for themselves, making new lives wherever and however possible.

My parents moved from Northeastern Iowa in 1954 to make a new life in Texas, far away from the farm fields my father grew up working.

Two adults, starting a new life in a new place and eventually, three children, formulated the dynamics of our upbringing in a working class family.

It was not a terrible existence or environment to grow up…nor, was it a fairytale story.

There was, as in most families, a fair amount of love and nurturing. Life in the late fifties had to have been hard for my parents. Jobs in the Dallas metropolitan area during WWII were booming. The aerospace industry was well established by the time my parents made their move to the metroplex, as well as the oil and gas industry. Our father eventually settled into oil manufacturing. 

Security Engineers, aka…Dresser Industries provided the income to support our family.

A steady job allowed our parents to transition from renters to homeowners and our family settled into a quiet neighborhood on the Northeast side of Grand Prairie, Texas. The All American family dream began to take shape in this quiet little neighborhood. Lifelong friendships would be established here as well. 

Summer vacations for our family were typically northbound, taking us “Over the river and through the woods to Grandmother’s house we go.”

Our grandparents were very loving, hard working people.

I can only speak for myself, but, I believe we all cherished the relationships developed with our grandparents, regardless the small amount of time spent with them or the distance separating us.

I still love my grandparents and though they have been gone for many years now, will always love my grandparents.

But, all fairy tales come to an end and as tragedies befall the best of families…our’s was no exception.

Our father, diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis was forced to retire. His failing health changed the dynamics of our family forever and it was the beginning of the end of our less than magic kingdom.

So, to imagine how Nancy and I crossed paths is an epic tale that began in the Northeast.

For most of America’s immigrants, life began in the Northeast.

Nancy’s family were some of the earliest to immigrate to America, coming from Great Britain and Wales. Mine from Great Britain, Ireland and Scandinavia. Her family eventually settling into Tioga County.

Some of my family had their beginnings in the State of New York as well. Both of our families fought in the Revolutionary War. My maternal 3rd Great Grandfather, Lyman Amsden, Private, Captain Woodworth’s Company, New York Militia, War of 1812 lived in the Finger Lakes region of New York, not too far from Owego, New York and in 1855 was awarded 160 acres, located upon the Southeast quarter of  Section thirty-one in Township Ninety-nine North of Range 15 West, in the District of Lands formerly subject to sale at Osage, Iowa _President James Buchanan

Merriam-Webster defines Serendipity : the faculty or phenomenon of finding valuable or agreeable things not sought for; also : an instance of this 

So, to imagine how Nancy and I crossed paths is an epic tale that began in the Northeast.

…our meeting and first date are told in this story titled “How I met Nancy” 

mdpettitt.wordpress.com/2015/09/27/how-i-met-nancy/

in memoriam…Daniel Grayling Fogelberg

In our lives, great artist, performers and historically significant people pass with great sadness.Some of those you will always remember where you were…what you were doing when you heard the news. 

To date, none have had as much impact. 

Sharing morning coffee in bed watching the morning news.

  I shamelessly gifted myself “Full Circle” that year…

… and on Christmas morning, after unwrapping my gift, loaded the cd into the player and pressed play thinking “I’ll be okay”.

My wife and I…our children, now young adults, continued enjoying Christmas morning.

When it hit me…

I arose and made my way toward the kitchen where my wife Nancy, met me halfway…

“I thought I would be okay” as I wept openly, embraced in the kitchen.

Our first date…Dan Fogelberg concert 

http://www.danfogelberg.com/index.html

We’re not in Kansas anymore

So…I was asked to pick up my close enough to 5 year old Granddaughter from school Friday afternoon. 

Not a problem. I’m off every Friday, so it’s my Grand Parental honor.

After a full morning of chores…laundry, vacuuming floors and the dishes…outdoors for 3 additional hours of lawn work.

Back inside…showered, lunch and a short nap.

Gas up the truck. Check…

Haircut. Check!

Done!!!

And now onto the most important task of the day.

It’s around 3:45pm as I roll into the parking lot of the school.

Through the door and into the school.

It’s a ghost town.

I walk to the end of the hall checking each room along the way…must be in here…no.

I’ve seen this episode of “Twilight Zone”.

Things are not as they should be.

I’m completely alone in this building.

As I head back toward the exit…yes…EXIT…a young lady appears at the door.

“Are you here to pick someone up?”

“Yes. Where is everyone?”, I replied

“Oh…they’re up the hill at the playground”, she explained.

“Thank you, so much…I was lost, but now I’m found. Thank you”

Out of the door and up the hill.

“Hey, look…there is a playground”

As I make my way up the hill and approach the playground, another young lady asked if I was here to pick up Cassidee.

“Yes, thank you”

And with a shout to be heard over the sound of children playing, another young lady said, “Cassidee!!! Your Grandfather is here!”

“He’s not my Grandfather!!”, Little Miss Cassidee replied.

“He’s not my Grandfather!!…

Flashbacks…Twilight Zone…Handcuffs

Silence, for seconds that seemed like minutes…

“He’s my Papa!!!”

As we walk, holding hands down the winding sidewalk towards the truck, “Have I ever told you the story about the first time I picked you up from school?”

 She was a very tiny little bit…

There was a tornado that day

I felt like “The Tin Man, the Scarecrow and the Cowardly Lion” carrying such precious cargo for the first time ever…

How I met Nancy

Back in the early eighties I was working for a small manufacturing company in North Dallas. A family owned business, Communications Conveyor, was small enough to allow me to make a reasonable wage while still allowing me the freedom to leave at a moments notice if necessary. Our primary business at Comco was Pneumatic Tube Systems and as a fledgling adult, all of 25 years old, it was an ideal situation for a single father and a great training environment that allowed me to enter into a trade that honed my skills as a craftsman and taught me a level of integrity that has served me well all of my working life.Customer service was a part of the job and on many occasion I was called upon to troubleshoot problems at banks in and around the Dallas-Ft. Worth area. The most troublesome system was not far from our shop and had the most antiquated system of all the banks I ever serviced. The majority of those problems involved the communications interface between customer and teller and I also seemed to pick the short straw when it came to service calls. This time out it was the communication interface again, so away I go. 

 When I turned twenty one years old I was gifted my first Dan Fogelberg album, “Souvenirs”. 

Some of the greatest music I had ever heard at the time and the right fit to eventually add to my repertoire. So, fast forward to this current event and we’ll pick it up from there. 

I had two tickets to see Dan Fogelberg at Reunion Arena…and no date.

Upon arriving at the bank it was typical to check with the Head Teller Brenda to find out the details of the service call. Now, understand…I have serviced this bank many times because of it’s antiquated system and have come to know most of the tellers on a first name basis and always try to make them feel as comfortable as possible before I crawl under the counter. They always continued working, completing transaction after transaction, working around me as I worked around them.

I said I know most of the tellers on a first name basis, not all of them. There’s a new teller that I don’t really know and it’s been my experience with girls that most of them prefer that arrangement. 

So, finishing the project of the day, I set off back to the shop to continue assembling product.

I still don’t have a date to the concert and I have no idea what I am going to do.

I know the telephone number at the work station I had serviced earlier today.

All I need to do now is find the courage to call the number knowing that given my past history the odds are pretty good that I will be going to the concert by myself. It is Dan Fogelberg, after all and that makes it a Win/Lose scenario at best/worst. What have I to lose but my dignity. The thought of entering the bank at a later date…NO, don’t think about that! It’s Dan Fogelberg! Who, in their right mind, wouldn’t want to see Dan Fogelberg?

All afternoon the weight of this burden, the shyness, the history…it’s so overwhelming!!!!

I made the call.

Someone answered.

I don’t even know her name!

I have a date!

That evening, after dropping off the little guy, I headed off to North Dallas with the vaguest of instructions to meet someone I barely knew. This is completely “Out of the Box” for me. I rarely dated in high school…too shy to gather up the courage to ask a girl out on a date. And, of the few times I did go out on a date, four to be exact…half, I was the invitee.

The trip to North Dallas was uneventful. I was running on schedule, for the most part and the directions to her apartment complex seemed reasonably vague enough…what could possibly go wrong.

I got to the apartment complex okay, got lost, then found and took a chance at knocking on the right door.

Well, thankfully by the time we left her apartment, we were running a little late. This demanded concentrated, skillful driving and little conversation. Out of the box…remember.

 The concert was at Reunion Arena, a stadium built in 1980 for the Dallas Mavericks basketball team.

We arrived in reasonable time and hurried in and settled into our seats before the concert started, leaving little time for conversation. Over the years I had become accustomed to buying tickets behind the stage. It was the closest thing to Backstage Passes that I would ever be allowed and I always appreciated the technical aspects of putting on a show.

The concert was great. Nancy seemed to enjoy the concert as much as I did and our date seemed to be a success, which…to me, would imply another date in the future. 

I was introduced to Dan Fogelberg when a couple of buddies gave me a copy of “Souvenirs”. Released in 1974, Souvenirs was his second studio solo album and many of the songs on that album would become the foundation of my musical repertoire. 

So, when the song “There’s a Place in the World for a Gambler” was performed and the audience invited to sing along, I was compelled and sang along, as well…breaking off into the harmony so etched into my soul.

A great concert…one of the best ever.

I’ve been a huge fan of Dan Fogelberg most of my life and this was the first of his concerts I have attended.

So, now the concert is over and the walk back to the truck, another stolen kiss a quiet drive back to North Dallas.

It was a quiet, reflective, lonely drive home to Grand Prairie that night.

Esther’s Surprise Birthday Party

Esther.
What can I say about Esther…
Esther, my wife Nancy’s sister, lives in Dover, Delaware.
She and Nancy are as close as I can imagine sisters could possibly be.
Not a day goes by that they don’t talk to each other for at least a few minutes on the phone, which can easily stretch into hours…depending of course on the quality or better fitting, quantity of the wine.
The greatest challenge of a lifetime has befallen Esther and the heartbreak of a lifetime has, in like, befallen sweet Nancy.

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…from beyond?

Last year…March, it must have been.

Nancy was away in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania attending to her sister while she received chemotherapy treatment.

Thursday night…late, I received a text from a friend to let me know that her husband and our good friend had been taken to the emergency room and wasn’t expected to live.

How could this be?

He’s too young!!!

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Love Poem

Love Poem
by Mitchell Pettitt

If you are by my side when I draw my last breath
I will have lived a perfect life
You are the life, the love…
of every man’s dream
The mother of every child’s prayer

If I have you by my side
when my last breath is drawn
I will have lived a perfect life
As dusk draws near…twilight years, the horizon’s setting sun
dips below where sun meets sea
you, Nanny were …”The One”

Addendum: I wrote this poem as Nancy and I held vigil for her father in his final hours of life.
I was so impressed by the level of compassion she had for her father…
this poem began to flow as freely as my tears.

…from where I was standing

……………from where I was standing

It’s September 6, 2002. Last week at this time, my wife Nancy and I were taking care of last minute details in preparation for our trip.
Our son Christopher, a Corporal in the Marine Corp, is to be married tomorrow evening in California. As a family we had wrestled with this 1,381 mile trip for several weeks and when the vote was tallied my daughter Brittany and my wife celebrated their victory in fashion, shopping for just the right dress, shoes and accessories to wear to the wedding.

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