Goodbye Bailey…You’ll Be Forever In Our Hearts…

I’ve seen things this week I thought I would never see in my lifetime…about a week ago Bailey stopped eating his food so we figured a flavor choice was all that was needed…to make a long story short…Bailey turned his nose up at everything that we put in front of him…if you’ve ever owned a beagle or are fortunate to have one in your life now, you can imagine our Shock  since there’s not too many things they won’t eat and they will always let you know when it’s time to eat…always…

After a vet visit…a trip to the hospital for an ultrasound…multiple medications for pain from his newly diagnosed ulcer and pancreatitis…Bailey’s was now taking 7 different medications…I wondered if it was us who were actually killing him slowly…Bailey still had no appetite…no longer made an effort to get off his bed to greet anyone who walked in the room…his tail which always gave his happiness away no longer wagged…he just had the soulless and sad look of a dog who had nothing left…he could have been one of the dogs on an ASPCA commercial …it was heartbreaking to see him that way…

Bailey came to us as a puppy and has meant more to our family than we ever imagined he could…over the years he developed relationships with each member of the family…when my daughter came home from school, he never left her side…on nights when my son would fall asleep on the family room floor, Bailey laid next to him…my wife returned from a business trip?…he was first at the door to greet her with the happy tail…it also led to the question, “Why does Bailey always greet me at the door first?”…and when both the kids were at school and my wife was traveling?…Bailey sat with me…of course I also fed him so that probably had something to do with it…

Bailey looked and acted as if he’d given up…the hair on both sides shaved so they could do the ultrasound…he no longer had that signature hound bark…his huge brown eyes Bailey&ducksaw us, but failed to move his happy tail the way they did before…he would only take his food through a syringe we inserted in his mouth…he no longer told us when it was time to go out, walking had become difficult for him, so he mostly used a spot of linoleum flooring in the laundry room…we became so concerned about the direction of his health on Sunday that I stayed with him on the floor of our family room all night…

On Monday Bailey stopped walking altogether…he began panting as if he were gasping for air…we laid Bailey in an over-sized laundry basket cushioned by towels to make carrying him easier and rushed him to the hospital…they wanted to keep Bailey for the next two days to treat him around the clock…the vet who saw him thought he had no more than a 50/50 chance of making it through the night, but we felt we needed to give him that chance…

Sadly…very sadly…today we decided to let Bailey go…he didn’t respond to any treatment from the vet at all, looking weaker than the day before when we dropped him off…they let us take him to a private room where we could spend some time with him and say goodbye…we were happy when he lifted his head to look at us…but within a few minutes he began to moan and it became obvious that he was in extreme pain…Bailey raised his head and looked at each one of us…his pained and saddened look brought us all to tears…and it would be cruel of us to make him stay any longer…his end came fast and with so many more tears…a cruel irony for the simple life of a pet who brought so much happiness into our family…

I had always hoped Bailey would live a pain-free life and one day just pass in his sleep at home with us…he deserved to…it’s terrible to think of what his last week of life was like…the pain…the forced feedings…I often wondered this past week if he grew to mistrust us…

I wanted to post this yesterday, but it became too difficult to write it…as much as Bailey was a family pet, because of all those nights spent by ourselves…his morning walks at breakfast time and his treat and last walk of the night I always gave him…playtime and our wrestling matches for the one true duck he would never give up…he was mine…I was his…and even though this is the morning after, I’m still crying…still mourning his loss…struggling to cope with the fact I’ve lost him and in some ways failed him…he gave us so much happiness, and our lives were forever changed when he was with us…his sudden loss has left a hole in our family…one which will never be filled…

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I’ve written other posts about Bailey in the past…I hope you’ll take the time to read them…

Bailey and Us…I Remember When

Bailey…Our Pet Store Beagle

When Bailey Lays Around the House…

So Long 2017…You Sucked…You Sucked Hard…

It’s New Years Eve and I’m spending the last few minutes of the year watching some King Arthur movie on television…it’s not even a good one with Sean Connery or anything…my wife and son are both sick…struck down by their first colds of the winter season…even my loyal dog Bailey has abandoned me for a better spot on his bed in front of the fireplace…to be quite honest?…I’m okay with all of it…2017 hasn’t given me a whole hell of a lot to celebrate anyway…

Some bloggers at this point might break into a lengthy diatribe about Narcissistic Number 45 or our dysfunctional Senate and House of Representatives…how the new tax plan will only benefit the extremely wealthy…like them…or about the abuses that have come to light by so many men of power and influence…but no, this year has sucked for me for so many other reasons…reasons I wouldn’t wish on anyone…

For the second time this year, I’m watching as my wife struggles to find another job…as a consultant we always understood that she would be going from contract to contract…this last one ended much earlier than we anticipated…not to mention it comes at a time of year when companies just aren’t hiring…in 2017, thanks to job changes, our family was covered under 4 different health insurance policies…each one progressively more expensive than the previous one…after so many years of stability…healthcare had become a huge financial burden for us…

In October, after a short illness, my father-in-law Joe passed away…Joe accepted me into his family…despite all of the negatives I brought with me as a young and immature man…and he treated me more like a son than a son-in-law…unfortunately, I didn’t always show him as much loyalty as he deserved…

My daughter chose that weekend to also deliver a gut punch that has changed our relationship…she will be going into the Navy in January…yes, I should be happy and very proud of her decision, but I’m not…when I hear her talk about it?…she sounds like a commercial and her reasons just don’t ring true with me…part of my disappointment with her decision comes from my own past…I never went to college…it was something my family could never afford…I turned 18 and went to work at the sewer plant…I literally shoveled shit for a living…my wife and I put my daughter through 4 years of a very expensive private college…maybe I expected her to graduate…get a job I approved of…start a family…all of those things are on hold now while she pursues a career I’m not sure she really wants…then again, maybe I don’t know her as well as I thought I did…

But 2017 wasn’t done yet…the final blow coming when I learned a close friend who I grew up with in New Jersey was killed in Maryland…as painful and as difficult for me to accept that he’s no longer here, I can’t imagine the pain his wife, his sons, his parents and his brother are feeling now…

I included links…my own little depressing year in review if you will…hope you will take the time to read them…

Worst Christmas Card Ever…

And Then She Broke My Heart…

Oh Joe? Sadly, Won’t See Him No More…

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I can honestly say that not everything about 2017 was bad…I landed a new job…I’m no longer a truck driver…I’m a grocer…more about that here…

The Best Worst Decision I’ve Ever Made?…

I participated in…to say I competed in would be too much of a stretch…my first half marathon…and I raised more money for St. Jude’s Childrens Hospital while I did it…

I have a lot to learn in 2018…my training as a grocer is much more extensive than you would think…definitely more than I thought…but it also allows me many more opportunities for success than a life of driving…I hope…

I know my wife will land a new job this year…she has too much experience…she’s too smart…too driven not to…I think if I have one concern right now it’s this guy (this post is short, I promise)…

When Bailey Lays Around the House…

Oh, and my son finally finishing college and finding a good job…but, at least I have my health…some health…maybe we should wait on that Conversation  …I’ll let you know after my physical on the 8th…

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Worst Christmas Card Ever…

Most of the time I try to add humor to my posts, but this won’t be one of them…I found out this week when I received a Christmas card in the mail, that a friend who I grew up with had been tragically killed when he was run over by a police car…as hard as that card was to receive, I can’t imagine how difficult it was for his wife to send…

For close to 30 years, Tom was the person who knew me better than anyone…at least until my wife came along anyway…my wife…who Tom introduced me to one hot day on the beach in Cape May, NJ…

…of course, as friends will do, Tom and his girlfriend…his future wife and now sadly his widow…also then took us (me) for a round of drinks that day at one of the beachside bars after a round of couples miniature golf they shamed us in…if I didn’t know any better, I would have said THAT was Tom’s true motivation for introducing me to my future wife…she was really bad at miniature golf…

Tom and I were part of a group of 8 friends who, starting in high school and into our 30’s did everything together…there were always other people who passed through our little Communal group from time to time, but once the nolvety of them wore off…well, you get it…mostly what we did together though, was drink…we also played a lot of bad golf together…it was Tom who took me golfing for the first time…he taught me a couple of lessons that day…Tom bounced a tee shot off my rear end as I was reaching into the cart to get a ball, then walked over, picked up his ball claiming a mulligan (a free do-over in golf)…still hear him laughing…he also taught me what a $2 Nassau in golf is…and how expensive it can be to lose every side of one…

As a friend, Tom was also supportive…when my mother passed away too soon, he (and my other friends) all came to the viewing, but it was Tom who took off work the following day to come to the burial and spend the next day with my family as well…some years later, after my wife and I had moved to PA, my father passed away…even though we had lost contact for some time…when my father was buried, it was Tom who came to pay his respects to my family…

Tom and I took a couple of vacations together…a week skiing in Killington, VT…a week where we each skied our first expert hills, ready or not…none of the other guys enjoyed skiing as much as we did…we also went golfing down in South Carolina…Tom’s father and mother once took Tom, his wife and newborn son, and my wife and I with them to Montego Bay for a vacation one cold winter…I remember Tom and I took a walk one afternoon off of the estate and surprisingly ended up in a beach bar where we spent several hours just talking and catching up on things…drinking too…but not like the old days…and watching some sort of photo shoot with women who were wearing varying styles of swimsuits…what can I say, we were still young…I remember walking home that day and we decided that we each had to get a coconut to take back with us…we also learned that it’s a lot harder than it sounds…especially after you’ve spent the last couple hours drinking Red Stripes…no matter how hard we tried to just shake them from the tree?… they weren’t coming down…not until we found a couple of large sticks laying close by and put 2 and 2 together…I remember a group of local girls walking by and laughing at our ridiculous efforts…at least we got one coconut any way… 

I was the Best Man at Tom and his wife’s wedding…and him at mine…we went to Eagles, Phillies, and Flyers games…I remember his father had gotten tickets for us to Game 5 of the 1983 World Series…even though we knew the Phillies were going to lose the series, I was still excited about going to the game…Tom felt the tickets would be more valuable if we scalped them for whatever we could get…the Phils lost 5-0 that day, ending the series…Tom was right…

…neither Tom nor I went to college, we were blue collar workers right out of high school…he worked for his uncle installing gas mains and services and I worked for the township where we lived…at least I did until I got a DUI one night on my way home with Tom after celebrating his birthday…sadly, my mother passed away the following year, on Tom’s birthday…I never celebrated another birthday with him again…and he never asked me to…

Tom and I saw less and less of each other after my wife and I moved to Pennsylvania…something I’ll forever regret…this week has brought back a lot of memories…some good…some not as much…I could write a book about growing up with Tom and our group of friends…I’m sure if I had taken more time I could have come up with a better tribute to my long-time friend…one thing Tom’s passing has taught me is I need to be a better friend…somehow I’ve forgotten what that means and how to do that…

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And Then She Broke My Heart…

By the time you’re done reading this, you’re probably going to think less of me…difficult thing since the only way you may even know me is through my posts…but, I have to get the story out because it’s eating away at me…my moral Compass is broken…when it comes to my daughter’s future, I only see disappointment and sadness in a decision she is about to make…

Many have told me I’m wrong and that I should be proud in the decision she has made…and maybe they’re right..however those same people don’t really know me, don’t really know her, don’t know the relationship we’ve had…I thought I did, now I’m not so sure…my issue…and here is where people are going to hate me…my daughter at the age of 26 has decided to enroll in Naval Officer Candidate School…she wants to join the Navy…

I should be proud of her decision to serve her country…but all I see is a daughter who I always thought cared about what I thought…who cherished the relationship we always had…we were always each other’s buffer…we had the same personalities, many of the same likes and dislikes…a place where each of us could go to talk and just hang-out when we needed a break…but now, all I see is someone who didn’t value that relationship…my advice…maybe didn’t care as much as I thought she did…

Today’s political climate has nothing to do with my feelings about her decision…my feelings are born from my feelings of abandonment…my wife and I gave my daughter every opportunity to succeed in life…maybe too many as it turns out…an education at the school of her choice…school-sponsored trips abroad to places I may never see in my lifetime…vacations each and every summer…although I probably needed those as much as anyone else in our family…

I don’t know how to talk with her anymore…her decision to leave and my decision not to be accepting of it has driven a wedge between us…one which I’m not sure I’ll ever get over…my daughter is an extremely smart, beautiful young lady, and there are so many people she can help directly in this country without joining the Navy…there are plenty of non-profits or other volunteer opportunities she could take advantage of that could help people now, right away when it’s needed most in our country…but she’s choosing another path…one I can’t accept…as she was growing up, my daughter stole my heart…now as an adult…she’s breaking my heart…

My moral compass is broken…and I don’t know how to fix it…

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The Best Worst Decision I’ve Ever Made?…

About three or four months ago I decided to leave my job delivering packages for Federal Express…I was actually working for a company that contracted with FedEx…it wasn’t an easy decision…I had been doing the same job for 16+ years and there was some comfort in knowing it would always be there unless I really screwed up…the man I worked for was also one of the few people who could tolerate me for more than 15 minutes at a time…but, the job was kicking my @$$ pretty much every day…

If you’ve read any of my other drivel, you know I ended up working at a large regional grocery store chain…that’s right, I have become a grocer…and until this week I always had doubts about whether it was the right choice…I can now say without a doubt…maybe…

Other than the fact that I already have three weeks paid time off in my personal benefits bank…after all those years as a Legend behind the wheel delivering packages, I had none…(I also was no legend, just thought that was the easiest place to insert the Daily Post prompt)…but my family also has health insurance we can now afford…why is that important?…when I was looking at this job I was concerned about the salary…it was a pay cut I wasn’t sure we could afford..but my wife, who was covering our benefits in her job as a consultant, was paying $1700/month for our family benefits…that ain’t no misprint…but now with my new job as a grocer, we have full family coverage for a paltry $65/week…again, not a misprint…we will save almost $1500/month just in our health insurance benefits cost..that was a number I could really get behind…

But as usually is the case in my family drama…reality roared its ugly head again when the IT project my wife was managing ended earlier…much earlier…than we ever expected that it would…once again, self-doubt about how much I was making leaked back into my big bulbous head…I’m enjoying my new found profession…unfortunately I may have to sell the house…a car…a kidney…some blood…just to keep it…I will not however sell my Disney Vacation Club Membership…some bad decisions are non-negotiable…

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Giving Thanks At the Market?…Well, Maybe Not So Much For Everyone…

Yes, this is but another in a close-Knit  and endless stream of posts about my new job at the grocery store…if you want the latest on Number 45 and his Cabinet of Horrors you clicked on the wrong post…it’s also not a very imaginative use of the Daily Prompt Word knit…

Anywho, in my position as the most junior of all of the Front End Service Team Leaders, this has been a good week to work with other Front End employees and managers…and unfortunately also get my rear end handed to me…it was one thing learning HOW to work as a cashier…but something totally different learning how to work WITH the cashiers and help them through their hang-ups…their register issues…not their emotional hang-ups, for those they can use the Employee Assistance Program or their favorite bartender…if their over 21 of course…sorry if that sounds cold…

this week they issued to me several cards…with printing barely legible because of the amazing amount of information…department numbers, phone numbers…all printed so small even with glasses on it was difficult to make out the numbers…add the pressure of a line of customers waiting for me to fix things…to figure out product codes or pricing when the item has none…why their credit or debit card was denied…the difference between in-date and out-of-date coupons…like I said…rear end?…meet front end…

I did learn some things the hard way, however my performance was not what you could call one of a seasoned professional in the grocery industry…I unfortunately maybe inadvertently ticked off a few customers with my new found incompetence?…not because that was my goal…however, I think I also showed great patience with some customers…I find it amazing that a customer can come running into the store and without even attempting to look around, ask…

“Where are the cranberries?”…

”Well…what kind would you like mam?…fresh cranberries, frozen, or canned?”…

”Oh, never mind. I’ll just wander around the store!”…

Uh?…Okay then, Happy Thanksgiving to you, mam?”…

Sorry…but that’s just not shopping to me…and no, I don’t know the precise location of every  item in the store…we have an phone app for that…she could have looked it up before she even left home…saving us both from that uncomfortable exchange… 

…even in the face of a really irate customer who wanted to buy two turkeys…who didn’t read the dates on the sales flyer and who came to the register with two frozen turkeys EA164E10-C2FD-4190-A954-F50535481935and enough attitude to stuff both those birds…she might have gotten her price too…if only she hadn’t been verbally abusive to the employee at the register…a 17-year old…tell me we suck and then threaten me you have a blog?…

WHO IN THE NAME OF SAM HILL DOESN’T HAVE A BLOG?…And let me guess?…she added it on your Facebook timeline too?…hopefully for her and her family, Chinese food restaurants are open on Thanksgiving…am I right?

There were lots of other inter-actions with customers…some good…some not so much…usually my fault…but I’m looking forward to the end of my first month…all the while realizing that delivering packages for FedEx for the last 16+ years has taught me almost nothing…it’s time to actually use my brain again…

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Oh Joe? Sadly, Won’t See Him No More…

I wrote last week about my relationship with my father-in-law…how he learned to tolerate me…even accept me into his family and treat me like a son…and how he laid in a hospital gravely ill from some undiagnosed illness…

They finally got around to diagnosing it last Wednesday…West Nile Virus…and last Friday, an hour after removing him from his ventilator, he passed away…peacefully and with his family by his side…the way a true family man would have wanted…

Joe was an interesting study…part engineer, (the featured image was something he was working on…even in his final days)…he was part pack rat, he was a fiercely loyal and protective father…each one of his kids probably has a story of Joe vs. the school system on their behalf…and maybe even for his own satisfaction too…I think sometimes he would take the contrarian view just so he could try and prove it to you…I remember a long, circular discussion/debate(?) I listened to between him and a family member who was a state trooper about the concept of Implied Consent…check your drivers license if you’re not sure..God love him, no one would ever Deny he could debate the living hell out of an issue when he wanted too…

I remember when my wife and I bought our first house…Joe took me to this old warehouse near where he lived…it had all kinds of what I might think of as trash, but what Joe and others might consider treasure…Joe suggested that there were certain sized screws and nails that I should have…in bulk… around the house when I wanted to construct or repair something…”you mean to tell me the contractor/repairman won’t have his own bulk stash on his truck?”…it wasn’t long before I figured out that Joe probably wanted them there for his own use when he came over…he also insisted I have a good workbench…and so I built one, I over-built one he told me, not that he was complaining…

Joe and I finally put all those nails and screws to good use building an 8’x12′ shed in my backyard…and it was here that Joe might have made several mistakes…first of which was truusting me to have the area leveled off so we could start right in on the construction…what looked good to me was actually off about a foot from the front to the back and don’t even get me started on side to side…but after a couple of hours and multiple trips to a nearby construction site where we grabbed rocks of all shapes and sizes, we were able to lay a somewhat questionable looking foundation…one he thought  might be a problem in the future…but it never was, at least not while I owned it…

Joe’s second mistake, and one we laughed about often, or at least Joe did…was to leave that weekend before the shingles were laid on the roof, leaving that job to me and me alone and maybe repaying me for not having the ground leveled off…I did alright though, at least the roof never leaked nor did any shingles blow off…but it took me longer to finish than I thought it would…and for one stupid reason…if you’ve ever seen an asphalt shingle before it gets laid, you may have noticed that clear strip of plastic on the back that covers over the glue line?…it was a pain in the ass peeling off all those plastic strips…my pants pockets were filled with them as I worked…finally, I was frustrated enough to call Joe and complain and wonder aloud how roofers get anything done with all that plastic to be removed…I got what I deserved…at first absolute silence…then the laughter on the other end of the phone told me I was about to become the punch line in some family joke for years to come…I persevered, finished the roof…maybe not as well as Joe would have, but good enough for government work…

I had some good times with Joe…taking my son, his only grandson, fishing for the first time was one…Joe was smart enough to take us to the fish hatchery where my son was IMG_0505sure to catch as many fish as he wanted…the only thing Joe didn’t plan on was that Joe would be the first thing my son would hook with his first cast…this time it was my turn to laugh…it was a great moment and one I’ll never forget, the way he never forgot my shed roofing escapades…and half an hour later, my son was sitting on a bench eating our bait…we were only using mini-marsh mellows…apparently the fish love them…

I have many other stories of times with Joe…we all had them…vacations to Disney World, Bush Gardens, and Mexico…some were good, some maybe not so IMG_0506much…sometimes all together, and sometimes one on one…because if there was one thing about Joe it was that he loved to have family around…coming from my family it felt a little suffocating at times…but in the end Joe raised one hell of a tight knit clan…really, really tight…

Joe was Italian, what I might consider old-world…a man who loved his Italian heritage and all the traditions such as the 7 Fishes on Christmas Eve dinner that come with it…I’m pretty much a mutt…some different things from my father’s side, and Irish from my mom…so I’ll leave Joe with this old Irish prayer…one that I like and I’m sure he does too…

May the road rise up to meet you.

May the wind always be at your back.

May the sun shine warm upon your face,

and rains fall soft upon your fields.

And until we meet again,

May God hold you in the palm of His hand