Wednesday, September 9, 2015

What I did on my vacation and where am I?

Dear siblings and kids,

Inquiring minds probably want to know how was our vacation in Cheyenne.

First of all, the air travel wasn't all that bad. It is amazing how quickly you get through security lines when you are with someone in a wheelchair. That is the way to go.

The vacation was what we had planned for it to be, a time to get out of our house and veg out with family. It was important for us to visit and be with mom and for mom to see and be with Carol. Mom needed to see that Carol gets around pretty well and is doing ok. I am amazed how well mom gets around even though she doesn't see well. Monday I took her to the hospital so she could visit a friend while Carol and I ran an errand. I walked her into the lobby. She said she knew where to go and sure enough off she went. When I returned she was sitting on a bench waiting for me like it was the most normal thing to do. We enjoyed visits with Dick and Linda, Dawn and the girls and Anne Shellhart. Other than that we just stayed at Patsy's. Thank you Patsy for a place to stay and a car. What more could you ask for?

This was our first visit where we did not stay at the home place on Jefferson Road. On Thursday, Carol and I and mom went out to the house and looked for fabric to take back to Keri. While Carol and mom were looking for fabric I did some mowing in the yard. On Friday, I went back by myself and finished the mowing. Part of the reason for going back to the house was just to spend some time there. I took frequent breaks and found myself in different rooms and reflecting on memories such as being in the living room, laying on the floor after a Saturday night bath and listening to Fibber McGee and Molly on the radio. I couldn't shake the feeling that some kind of corner was being taken and that it was time to close the chapter on the home and its memories. So it was a good vacation and sort of a sad, melancholy time as well. Things they are a changing.

We all know what is happening with Carol from her updates. We don't know what she is thinking about at 2 am in the morning when she can't sleep. That is for her to tell us some day. In the meantime I am frequently asked, "So how are YOU doing?" What follows is a rambling version of some of my thoughts about the last eight months and the years that preceded it.

Eight months ago I was working from home three days a week and going in to the office two days a week. During my work commutes (40 miles each way) I was listening to an audio version of "The Last Battle," the final book in the Chronicles of Narnia where the world of Narnia comes to a close and the characters begin the new adventure. I was finishing up my work contract with Synopsys and I sensed that my life was going to take a turn with my work/career story ending and a new adventure was beginning. I had the distinct impression that I would not be returning to work. My work story and the new adventure overlapped by a day. Carol's diagnosis came the day before my contract ended. It is hard to believe it was eight months ago. So much has happened as my life changed from work related schedules and structure to a life structured by medical tests, appointments, keeping the home running and a medication schedule.

As my career ended I reflected a lot about it for several months. For a kid that had no idea of what he wanted to be and just took life as it came, I have had a remarkable career. My high school physics teacher inspired my love for physics. I didn't want to go into industry after college so taking an additional year I got my teaching credential and ended up in California teaching physics, chemistry and math. It was a great twelve years and I learned so much about how people learn and being able to sense when learning was working. But teaching was emotionally draining for me and when the opportunity to work at Lockheed came along, with much mental turmoil I left what I felt was my calling. Working for Lockheed was an eye opener to another world. Actually I worked for the NSA as a programmer at a ground station and reported to an Air Force colonel. Each morning I could sit in on the colonel's debrief before it was sent to NSA headquarters, but I couldn't tell my wife what I really did or knew what was going to be in the news that day. It sort of made you schizophrenic. It split my private and public life from my work life. Working in a vault with armed guards on the roof was not for me. Publicly I was a programmer for Lockheed while actually at work I wrote mission planning programs for satellites to gather radar signals for the NSA. So I transferred into Lockheed's training organization and trained engineers how to program and embed microcomputers into hardware systems. After seven years I took a job as a manager and instructor at Pyramid Technology teaching Unix system administration and C programming. The physics background, teaching experience, programming experience in Unix and C was what a startup company was looking for to develop courses for them in the new world of computer based electronic design. So I spent twelve years at what became Cadence Design Systems. It was wildly successful and I got to travel the world giving training and helping develop some of the first computer based training systems learning what did and did not work in the online world. I then spent a couple of years working at Documentum creating classroom and self-study courses in the world of controlled documents (think something like the Nuclear Regulatory Agency documents at a nuclear plant) and then moved back to the electronics world developing courses and online self-study courses for CoWare to train engineers in the art of simulating systems like cell phones and automobile electronics in order to debug them before they turn them into hardware. Twelve years later CoWare was purchased by Synopsys and I ended up contracting course development for them. It has been an amazing career…certainly not one that I consciously planned. Each job gave me skills needed for the next job. My only explanation is Proverbs 3: 5 & 6, "Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not rely on your own insight. In all your ways acknowledge him and he will make straight your paths." I can't say I was always trusting, but it is certainly an example of God's providence. It is also interesting how much my identity was wrapped up in my work.

Parallel to the career path was my private and family life. In my undergraduate senior year at college I was reacquainted with Carol Perkins, a family friend. Our mother's knew each other during the 1950's and had kept in touch. As our relationship developed (and things became hot and heavy,heh,heh) I came to think, "You know, I think she would make a great mother. You need to either breakup with her or marry her before you do something you will regret." What a treasure she has been. Working to get us through my second senior year and complete my teaching credential, working at the school district office to help us get established as a young couple. When I decided to go to Colorado and get a Master's degree she moved and worked to make it possible. When I thought I had enough of the LA smog and traffic she moved to Salinas and then in two years I was thinking about moving to the bay area and changing careers. So we moved to San Jose. All the while our family was growing. I didn't have a clue about raising kids. I'm sure Keri could tell you some good stories about discipline and rules that we tried out. By the time Kelly came along, just leave her alone, she will turn out ok. As a family we had some great experiences…hosting a Cambodian refugee family, great road trips, camping at Big Basin and listening to the CSI, jeep and archeology adventures. Through all the times of raising a family, Carol was there. Through my erratic career path, Carol was there. She was always at my side.  I can't help thinking as our adventure takes another bend in the road that it is my time to be by her side, time to give back a small measure of what she has given to me.

So, I've taken this long circuitous path to say that even though this current path is not one I would have chosen for Carol, we are doing OK and I've been given the privilege of completing this adventure with her. It is amazing what I am learning from her.  Here we are, retired, out of debt, all of our physical needs supplied, a great family and friends who care for us, a church in which to worship and be inspired…we are beginning to sense this adventure will come to a close, but it will be the preface to the next story. It is hard to describe the realization that you both sense that it is OK and it will turn out alright in the end.  I think I think that is where I am at the moment. We shall see.

It is therapeutic for me to try to express my thoughts. Thanks for listening.

Love and hugs … George

No comments:

Post a Comment