Sunday, September 26, 2010

Building my own home, part one... the beginning.

My plan is to move back to Louisiana and live on the land that I was most happiest in life. The home I lived in isn't available anymore, but the folks who own the land have agreed to allow me to move onto the land their late son lived on. They enjoyed my living there and look at me as family. They have agreed to charge me a very small monthly lot fee and there is water, septic tank, electricity and phone hook ups all there. I asked if i could put up a small building and they agreed. I have drafted scale plans for a small 700 sq ft cabin type home that is very nice. I will do the majority of work myself and ask for help only when I need help lifting framed walls so that I can tack them into place. I will do the electrical, plumbing, roofing, and everything else.

I am going to have to put this thing together on a shoe string budget and will likely need to accumulate building materials. I have broken the materials list into two categories: materials needed to frame the home from the ground up creating a livable structure that will keep the weather off of me while I live there and continue to build. The second list is comprised of materials needed to finish the home off. Things such as toilet, sinks, tub, pvc piping, faucets, electrical wiring and various electrical extras needed to run appliances such as an a/c, refrigerator, small stove, small washing machine, ceiling fan, and 5 plug boxes throughout the small structure.

If I am able to pull this off I will post pictures as I go. This has been my life long dream and sadly, in my dreams my Brother helped me build it and I shared it with someone I would spend the rest of my life with. I guess if it works out and I do get to build it I'll share it with Sunny and Daisy May, who have been my faithful, loyal and trusted friends for the past 11 years.

The first list

List of building materials:

Framing lumber (enough to create a walled and roofed shell with sub floor/floor)

-osb (Oriented strand board, which is far less expensive than plywood) (4x8x3/4) quantity of 78 pieces

-2x8x8 (pressure treated) quantity of 90 pieces

-2x4x8 (pressure treated) quantity of 200 pieces

-FGUR20 ASTM 30 Lb. Felt Quality Roof Deck Protection quantity of 3 rolls

-Black Fiberglass Mineral Surfaced quantity of 6 rolls

-Grip-Rite 2d, 1 In. 5-Lb Electro-Galvanized Roofing Nails quantity of 1 box

-Grip Rite 16d, 3-1/4 In. 30-Lb Bucket Coated Sinker Nails quantity of 60 pounds (two buckets)

-Grip Rite 1-1/4 In. Coarse Drywall Bucket 25 Lb quantity of 50 pounds (two boxes)

-Deck Mate 1 Pound 2-1/2 In. Green Premium Exterior Screws quantity of 5 pounds (five boxes)

-Exterior latex paint, OD (olive drab) quantity of 5 gallons

With lots of prayer, dreaming, hard work, and help from friends I just may be able to make this happen. Stay tuned.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Some days...

Some days I'll be driving, and I'm always thinking about Jake. And pictures of how he passed will come into my mind and I will see that demon that was there at that horrible moment and I will think of all the details that people don't want to think of. I have seen a great many terrible things in my life, so the images come to my mind's eye. I push them away with Herculean effort and anger flows in to fill their place. I reflexively strike out at my dash or steering wheel. The desire crush something with my anger is tangible. It is as real as thunder during a storm.

And then it fades away and I am left with that terrible knowledge of what really is and I drive on.

How in the world...

... do things go so wrong? How do our plans fall so far from our ideas?

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

It was nasty, but we'll take it.

Hey Brother, it was 25-22 and a nail biter, but we won and we'll take it.
Love you,

Monday, September 20, 2010

We Rollin' Brother!

Hey Jake, the Saints defense just caused a safety and then the offense dominated and it's now 9-0 Saints. I know you're watching with a grin, but I'll keep you posted. I love you, Brother.

For Jess

You are an amazing woman who is also an amazing mother. Being your husband wasn't a thing I took lightly, I failed at it, but always had hopes that I would become the man you wanted me to be, or that I would settle in. In the end I think it is a case of me having too much of my father's old ways, and you having a little of your mother's old ways. Perhaps I was never meant to be taken from the woods. I do know that some wild things can not live apart from the wild. We had so much passion in all that we did, I will always love you and always have regrets. I know this. Perhaps I'll find the resources to build the little cabin my heart has always desired, perhaps I'll get my old job back and live comfortably in quiet predictability. I don't know, but I do know that I will miss you just as I miss my Brother, and that just like his and my relationship I will have regrets.

When I was growing up my mother would tell me "we learn from our mistakes... we just don't want to get our whole education that way" and also "life is lived going forward, but understood looking back" and I can only pray that we'll both take some positive things from this. I am so sorry that I let you and the kids down. I have laid awake for the past week and a half wishing I'd done so much so differently, but what's done is done and I don't think I'll ever be able to outrun or live down the mistakes I made. I hurt your heart in far too many ways, and that is something that will never leave me. Hurting the people you love is the most terrible thing a person can do.

I don't know if we'll be friends in the future. I don't know if I'll come here and fish with your father and do things with the kids... I don't want to do the wrong things and send mixed messages to young minds. I know the kids will be ok before long because they have their dad who is a really good guy, and they have their mother who is a wonderful woman.

My prayer is that you find true and lasting happiness. I hope that you meet a man that puts you over the moon in every way and that you live long and happily together. I pray for the boys to have wonderful independent lives that are productive and filled with love. I pray that Bella is happy and continues to strive for perfection. If anyone can achieve it, it will be her!

I will find my woods and build my cabin, I will smell the rain on the pines and hear the rooster crow in the early morning hours... and someday it'll all be alright for us both.

Friday, September 17, 2010

It still hurts the second time

I remember back in 2000 when my then wife came to me, I was indeed unsuspecting, and told me that she was leaving me. I was crushed. It seemed like I was dying. I remember being stuck in rush hour California traffic sitting in my truck crying... sobbing. And I remember people around me. I saw several of them laughing. Yeah, people are fun like that.

Well, here were are, fast forward to 2010. My wife has informed me that "it's over" and even though it really comes as no surprise, I love her. I love her kids. Heck, I even like her ex. But what I don't like is Alabama, or city living, or being six (6) hours from my family and the places I am "deep in my DNA" familiar with. I don't like that. I have felt cornered and have had a fair amount of resentment that has caused me to act poorly and mistreat people. People that I love. No, I am not alone in this, it always takes two people to fight, but I can and will admit that I have been uneasy to live with, emotionally abusive, and unpredictable. This is my cross to bear. I WILL bear it. I will carry it and I will strike out at anyone that comes along and tries to lift it from my shoulders. Why? Because a hard head makes for a soft ass. I have both and a face with no nose.

Yes, I love my wife.

I wish that we could live in that simple trailer out in the woods where I was when we met. We can't though. We all know we can't.

Today is the 17th. It's September 17th, which is 3 months to the day from my Brother's death. The time is 4:56. In 9 minutes it will be the time that he died. At 6:02 p.m. it will be the time when my youngest sister called me and forever changed my life. I hate answering the phone when family calls now. It scares me.

I miss Jake. I wish we were together, but I have a life here on this flawed Earth where people foster and spread apathy. Here where I along with everyone else is imperfect. I have this life to live until it's my time to leave it and go where the Lord deems I merit being. I will carry out this sentence and try to do so with "good behavior" in spite of my past poor behavior. I will bear this cross just like everyone else.

So now that my wife has told me that it's over and that she is just keeping me grounded in reality when she tells me how I have messed things up, it somehow hurts a little less. My tears come mostly at night, when I realize we are sleeping in separate rooms and I will not feel her soft warm feet rub my calf and warm my heart. That's when my tears mainly come. I see her body and it calls to me. I want to hold her like a husband does and love her. I haven't done so enough and she thinks that I hate her or am not attracted to her. Neither is the truth. I have just built up a wall of misery and have not been able to chip it down enough to love her in all the ways she deserves to be loved.

But it does... it still hurts the second time. I guess scar tissue forms over all wounds. I know I will miss her. I miss her now. I miss so many things. I miss you Jake. It's now one minute after you left that human body and this flawed Earth. Yep. I miss you. I guess there is just o much hurt in the air that the hurt from this isn't noticed over the hurt from that. All I can do is wish love, health, and happiness for my wife. She is a remarkable woman who has overcome things that would drive most people to complete resignation. I wish her all that she deserves, including better than me. I love her, and I miss her and I will keep loving her and miss her more.

I love, I miss, I hurt, I carry, I this, I that.

Welcome to life. It's a hoot.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

I just can't cope with this.

I just can't find a way to cope with this. I pray, I write, I just don't know what to do. I have too much to bear right now.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Hey Jake, the New Orleans Saints are 1-0

Hey little Brother, the Saints are the only undefeated team in the NFL. They beat Brett Favre and his vikings last night to start the season on Thursday night football. It was a sloppy, poorly played game but they pulled the "V" out and that's all that matters. I hope you had fun watching it. I love you and miss you.

You were so beautiful.

You were so beautiful
The time we had was beautiful
The 40 years was not enough
Taking it from us was like robbery
The void you left is bigger than time
It’s like a force of sadness leaving me crying
I can not forget and remembering hurts
Its like losing you again every time I remember you
I want to so bad, want to see your face
I want so bad to hear your voice
I wish so bad that we were together
But nothing here in this place
Can bring you back
And I pray and I pray
Just to dream about you
But I dream of mundane
And things untrue
I ask God to bring me dreams of you
Or bring me your ghost so we can talk
Mostly my shame and all my regrets
Are driving me sick and wont let me heal
Because all that I should have done
And all I should have said
So much left undone
not having you here
not seeing your face
missing you
it never gets easier
each day is a waste
but the times we had
they were so beautiful
your smell, your voice,
you laughter,
your ways…
all of it perfect in every way.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

When forever is no more.

Once upon a time if asked “how long would you like to live?” I would answer without thinking: “as long as I want. Forever… or at least until I feel I’ve done it all. At least 10,000 years.” I knew that to live such a long life meant that you would likely outlive all of the people you loved, but the thought of my own mortality held too great a sway over the thought of such loss.

Back then (which wasn’t all that long ago, early June 2010 to be exact) I thought dying was my greatest fear. I had truly lived a blessed life. I lost all of my grand parents when I was young, but that was really it as far as my experience with my family’s mortality. I can remember that even as a young child the thought of dying would send me into a panic. I had known people that died, and I had seen people die. I had helped to try and save a few people who died despite my efforts. It had always been traumatic, but it was always something I could eventually shake off.

I always had a healthy respect for my own mortality and even though I participated in dangerous activities such as riding motorcycles, hunting, deep sea fishing in Alaska and many dangerous military activities I always made a reasonable attempt to be safe. For instance, I would not play golf or fish if it happened to be lightening outside, or I always wore a helmet while riding, even in places with no helmet laws. I didn’t want to be injured or killed, so I tried to think safely.

Times change. Life happens all around you and then one day everything you thought you knew is different.

I’ve always been bad with times and dates. I basically remembered three birthdays in my family, mine, my mother’s, and one of my nephews. I was able to remember my nephew’s birthday because it was on Halloween. Dates can mean all sorts of things to people. Some are exciting and joyous, some are important dates to be remembered or observed, and some are dates that mark life changing events.

The times and dates that changed my life are: June 12th-16th, and June 17th, 2010, 5:05 p.m., and 6:02 p.m.

June 12th through June 16th was when I was supposed to drive back to Louisiana to spend time with my Mother and my Brother, but was unable to leave town because of car troubles.

June 17th is when my Brother died. It was a Thursday and he died at 5:05 p.m., and I found out at 6:02 p.m. 6:02 p.m. on that Thursday afternoon (a day which had been pretty good for me up to that point) of June 17th, 2010 is when everything I thought I knew and felt about life changed. It changed in one horrible second after answering my cell phone. The world became a different place, family gained a new meaning, and I became a different person. They say you never get over something that terrible. They say you learn to live with it and each passing day becomes unnoticeably easier than the day before. They say that eventually you start to remember the good memories and are able to laugh and smile. They say a lot of things, but none of it means anything until you get that call or knock at the door. That’s when the terrible wisdom of the ages rushes into your mind and heart like a runaway train.

June 17th at 6:02 p.m. is when my forever became “no more” and everything I thought I knew about death and loss became real in my mind. I’ve often heard of older folks or terminally ill people saying that death no longer frightened them. They somehow had come to a place in life where it wasn’t scary, and to some it was even welcomed. I thought they surely must be insane. Now I know better. The thought of my own mortality no longer frightens me. I have faith in God, and I believe in the supreme sacrifice that Jesus made for me so that I could enter into the Kingdom of Heaven. I also have faith that my Brother Jake is now in Heaven. The thought of dying isn’t scary to me anymore because I have faith that the moment my soul loses it’s spark and my body expires, I will open my eyes and see that lopsided grin of Jake’s. I long to see Jesus and truly know God, I long to have the wisdom of the ages availed to me, and I long to be in eternal paradise… but I so long to see my Brother again. I dream of walking side by side with him, sitting with him, eating and drinking, laughing, talking. I long to be in the glow and warmth that Jake’s amazing soul had always put off and surely now must be innumerably more intense.

Today my forever is no more, but I know that someday it will be back, and it will be real. It will truly be forever.