A Letter To My Children-2013

My Old Kitchen

My Old Kitchen

Hello Monsters,

I think I am late writing this letter and I am not referring to the time of day. Don’t I normally do this around my birthday? Hell, it doesn’t really matter all that much, it is only a month or so.

A month or so since I turned 44 which I can guarantee sounds quite old to you now whereas I see it as being quite…young.

That photo is the kitchen from the old house. The caption says “old kitchen” but it really is the “new kitchen.” It is the one that replaced the one that came with the house. I guarantee neither one of you really remember the old kitchen but I don’t have to think hard to see it.

Don’t have to think hard to remember what it was like to buy that house or all of the dreams that came along with it. We moved in there about two weeks before 9-11 and watched the world change before our eyes.

Some Changes Were Good

Some of the changes were good. Some were beautiful, significant and amazing, while others were…not.

I don’t look at pictures of the old house or think about it often. Some of it is because there is anger tied up there, anger and frustration. It is not one of my finer traits but I don’t easily forget the things that really bother me.

In time it changes and the edge softens so that the sharp points that don’t poke me like they used to but some things take longer than others and this is one of them. That is because we found ourselves in a situation in which we had to sell that place.

I don’t regret it. It was the right thing to do. The local schools weren’t that good and it needed a ton of work to make it into a place we could stay long term. It never was supposed to be anything more than a starter home but things happened.

The market exploded, housing prices shot up exponentially and then the economy tanked. We got stuck between the proverbial rock and a hard place and we made the decision to move, but had we waited much longer it might not have been our choice.

Hard Choices

What bothers me most was the frustration of trying so damn hard to change things and my inability to do so. I am not used to that. My entire life people have always mentioned how determined I am and how strong my force of will is.

That is sort of a double edged sword because sometimes I have spent more time in bad situations because I was determined not to flinch before the other guy. I persevered and they didn’t, one moment longer and I won the contest, or maybe I didn’t.

Maybe the advantage of being 44 is that it is easier for me to acknowledge some of those things. Maybe it is a sign of maturity to say that sometimes I made mistakes and sometimes I didn’t but couldn’t overcome the challenges.

Either way hard choices are a part of life and you will have to find your way through the mazes that are presented.

Fear Of Failure

You might not be able to tell but I am smiling while I write this and that wasn’t the case with a number of the prior letters. That is because the situations and moments were painful and the feeling that I had failed chafed my hide more than a little.

But now it is not the same.

Now it is different because I see the benefit of some of the hard choices. I see clearly how some things are a million times better and I feel very optimistic about the future. You can attribute some of that to things I learned from your grandparents and great grandparents.

I am far more adept at taking life one day at a time because sometimes it all you can do.

It doesn’t mean I don’t get frustrated or angry because I still do. Some days if you listen carefully you might be walking down Ventura Boulevard and realize that you can hear me screaming at someone in Texas. What can I tell you, the drivers here aren’t allowed to get a license unless they are drunk and blindfolded when they take the test.

Life Is Pretty Good

I miss you guys more than you know. It won’t always be like this but for the time being it has to be. See you in a few weeks, try not to kill each other while I am out fighting the monsters of the night.

Won’t be all that long before we’ll get to build another kitchen but this time you’ll get to be a part of it all.



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  1. Sebastian Aiden Daniels June 13, 2013 at 1:06 pm

    This was beautiful bro. Especially the part about drivers in Texas only getting a license after they are drunk and blindfolded. Haha. Is it really that bad there?

    I agree that all you can do is take it one day at a time. I’ve learned that because I can be somewhat mercurial, not as much since I’m on medication for it, but taking it one day at a time allows me to ride the waves.

    Keep up the great work man.

  2. Natalie DeYoung June 13, 2013 at 7:35 am

    “What bothers me most was the frustration of trying so damn hard to change things and my inability to do so.” – this is how I feel everyday. Trying so hard and it’s frustrating to see your actions blown back in a cycle of fruitlessness. Sigh.

    • Jack June 15, 2013 at 8:14 am

      Hi Natalie,

      I can only speak for me, but I am too damn stubborn to let things go easily. So I tend to go after them…hard. But I have learned that when one approach isn’t working it never hurts to mix it up a bit. So…

  3. Kaarina Dillabough June 13, 2013 at 6:16 am

    This hits me on a day when I will attend the funeral of one of my dearest former athletes, at the age of 32. I’m heartbroken. Your words to your children and your ability to see that the sharp edges shouldn’t poke the way they used to, give me comfort. There is so much joy in each day: it’s up to each of us to see it. I feel afloat and adrift, but know that there are safe havens and safe harbours around the bend. I’m just now re-emerging into the online world, but it looks and feels different. But that’s OK too. Thanks JJ: this post reaches me at a time when it’s messages and humour are particularly helpful.

    • Jack June 14, 2013 at 7:04 pm

      Hi Kaarina,

      I have been meaning to email you and I have no excuse for not doing so sooner. I am very sorry to hear this, there really aren’t any words. But I am glad that you got something out of this post. We really do have to make a point to suck the joy of life out of each day. Some are harder than others, but practice helps.

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