One day in the afternoon, I received a phone call from my niece. My sister, Mary, the mother of my niece, was dying, and my niece suggested I come to the hospital if I wanted to say goodbye.
Mary is the third oldest in my family, and had several health issues. For the past six years, she had been fighting to hang onto life. As of late, she was on oxygen 24/7, and her lung capacity was at about 20%, a little more, perhaps. She was 83. I had already lost three sisters, two to brain aneurysms, and one to Lewy body dementia. My dad died of a Parkinson-like condition in his sixties, and my mom lived to age 99, and died of old age. My son, Wil, was shot and killed in 2014 at the age of 28.
As a principal, I had two girls die in a car crash, hit by a train. We held a memorial service for them in the gym, the same place where they would have graduated from a few short months later. I had a student, David, die of a cancerous brain tumor. We celebrated his senior graduation early, just so he and his family could say he graduated. That was David’s wish, and I was compelled to make that happen. His sister tucked a picture of David inside her grad cap a year or two after he passed away, because she wanted David to witness her graduation. As a counselor, I was present when two boys were shot on our campus at lunchtime. Both lived, fortunately.
As I’ve said, I’ve been around death, and like Brian in my novels, especially in Betrayed and in Fan Mail, I’m not afraid of it, of death. Like Brian in my novels, I am more concerned about the family and friends, loved ones, who are left behind.
Mary had a DNR order in place, so there weren’t any medical actions taken to prolong her life, but only to make her comfortable. She had been sedated, but recognized me when I came into her room, and later, recognized my wife, Kim, when she got there. It was brief, a sort of smile, but eye contact was made. Several days later, at about 2:20 in the morning, she passed away peacefully.
The following Monday, a week later, I had to babysit my new grandson, Mason. His dad, my son-in-law, had meetings to attend in Pittsburgh, and Mason’s mother, my daughter, Hannah, had in-service to get ready for her school year. Kim would have been with me, but she was already teaching. So during the day, it was just Mason and me.
I think Mason was about 6 weeks old, and all of about six pounds. A pretty easy kiddo to take care of. But he had his moments. Like his mom, who had her “witching hour” each day around four in the afternoon during her infancy, Mason had his, too. I worked with him and tried to find the “cure” so he (and I) would be relaxed and at peace. Just like his mom, there were some days Mason just wanted to be held and nothing else would suffice. Oh darn, he said facetiously! How could I turn down holding my infant grandson?
As I held him, I would marvel at his tiny hands, his even tinier fingers. I marveled at the shape of his ears, the deep blue of his eyes. I wondered what he would grow up to become: a businessman like his dad? A teacher like his mom? I wondered what his interests would be: football and reading and music like his parents? I wondered how many times his heart would be broken before he found his true love.
And as I approach the age of 70 this coming November, I wondered how much of his life I would get to witness before my own death. I wondered just how much he would remember of me, and what he would think of me before I passed away.
Just one week apart, my sister’s death, and my grandson’s care. Two opposite ends of the life cycle. One life ending, and one life beginning.
We’ve all been there, you and I. We are a sometimes silent witness to the life cycle. Some births are more dear to us, just as some deaths hurt us more than others. It’s bound to, isn’t it?
All dads and all moms wonder and worry about their kids, just as they wonder and worry about their own brothers and sisters, their own parents. We’ve been there, haven’t we?
We never know when. Never. Sometimes, suddenly and unexpectedly, like with my son. Sometimes lingering and expected, waiting for it to happen, like with my sister. Both hurt. Both hurt deeply.
I guess the answer, if there is an answer, is to love all we can, whenever we can, in each moment we can. We need to make sure those who are special to us, near to us, dear to us, know just how special and dear they are to us. Don’t ever leave it unsaid. Don’t remain silent. Say it, show it, mean it. We need to- for our sake as much as our loved one’s sake. We owe it to them and to ourselves. Something to think about …
Live Your Life, and Make A Difference!
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My Books in order from Newest to Oldest:
Fan Mail: A Maxy Award Finalist, an Eric Hoffer Award Nominee, and a Literary Titan Silver Book Award Winner!
A barrage of threatening letters, a car bomb, and a heart attack rip apart what was once a close-knit family of adopted brothers. Randy and Bobby, along with fellow band member and best friend, Danny, receive fan mail that turns menacing. They ignore it, but to their detriment. The sender turns up the heat. Violence upends their world. It rocks the relationship between the boys and ripples through their family, nearly killing their dad.
As these boys turn on each other, adopted brother Brian flashes back to that event in Arizona where he nearly lost his life saving his brothers. The scars on his face and arms healed, but not his heart.
Would he once again have to put himself in harm’s way to save them? And if faced with that choice, will he? https://amzn.to/3eNgSdS
Betrayed: Two Top Shelf Awards: 1st Place Fiction-Mystery; and Runner-Up Fiction-Crime; A PenCraft 1st Place Winner for Thriller-Fiction! A Maxy Award Runner-Up for Mystery/Suspense! A Literary Titan Silver Book Award Winner! A Reader’s Ready Recommended Read Award Winner! A Reader’s Favorite Honorable Mention Award Winner for Fiction-Crime-Mystery!
Betrayed is Now Available in Audio Book, Kindle and Paperback! https://amzn.to/3AfUUpS
A late-night phone call, a missing
kid, a murdered family, but no one is talking. A promise is made and kept, but
it could mean the death of a fifteen-year-old boy. Greed can be all-consuming,
and seeing is not believing. No one can be trusted, and the hunters become the
Blaze In, Blaze Out: Best Action Crime Thriller of 2022 by Best Thrillers! A Literary Titan Gold Book Award Winner! A Readers’ Favorite Award Winner! A Reader’s Ready Recommended Read! A BestThriller’s Editor’s Pick!
Blaze In, Blaze Out is Now Available in Audio Book, Kindle and Paperback! https://www.audible.com/acx-promo\
Eiselmann and O’Connor thought the conviction of Dmitry Andruko, the head of a Ukrainian crime family, meant the end. It was only the beginning. They forgot that revenge knows no boundaries, vindictiveness knows no restraints, and ruthlessness never worries about collateral damage. Andruko hired contract killers to go after and kill O’Connor and Eiselmann.
The killers can be anyone and be anywhere. They can strike at any time. They care nothing of collateral damage. Andruko believes a target is a target, and in the end, the target must die. https://amzn.to/34lNllP
Caught in a Web: A PenCraft Literary Award Winner! Named “One of the Best Thrillers of 2018!” by BestThrillers.com
Caught in a Web is also available in Audio Book, Kindle and Paperback! http://bit.ly/2WO3kka
They found the bodies of high school and middle school kids dead from an overdose of heroin and fentanyl. A violent gang, MS-13, controls the drug trade along the I-94 and I-43 corridors. They send Ricardo Fuentes to find out who is cutting in on their business, shut it down and teach them a lesson. But he has an ulterior motive: find and kill a fifteen-year-old boy, George Tokay.
Detectives Jamie Graff, Pat O’Connor and Paul Eiselmann race to find the source of the drugs, shut down the ring, and find Fuentes before he kills anyone else. https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07CKF7696
Spiral Into Darkness: Named a Recommended Read in the Author Shout Reader Awards!
Would you recognize a serial killer if one spoke to you? Vincent and Shirley didn’t, and now they’re dead!
He blends in, is successful,
intelligent, and methodical. So far, he has murdered eight people. There is no
discernible pattern, no clues, and no leads. The only thing the FBI and local
police have to go on is the method of death: two bullets to the face- gruesome
and meant to send a message. But it’s difficult to understand any message
coming from a dark and damaged mind. Two adopted boys, struggling in their own
world, do not know they are the next targets, and neither does their family or
local law enforcement. https://amzn.to/2RBWvTm
The Lives Trilogy Prequel, Taking Lives:
FBI Agent Pete Kelliher and his partner search for the clues behind the bodies of six boys left in various and remote parts of the country. Even though they live in separate parts of the country, the lives of Kelliher, 11-year-old Brett McGovern, and 11-year-old George Tokay are separate pieces of a puzzle. The two boys become interwoven with the same thread Kelliher holds in his hand. The three of them are on a collision course and when that happens, their futures grow dark as each search for a way out. https://amzn.to/34nXBH5
Book One, Stolen Lives: Editor’s Pick by BestThrillers! Literary Titan Gold Book Award Winner! A Crime Thriller finalist in the 2021 Best Thriller Book Awards!
Two thirteen-year-old boys are abducted off a safe suburban street. Kelliher and his team of FBI agents have 24 hours to find them or they will end up like the other kids they found- dead! They have no leads, no clues, and nothing to go on. To make the investigation that much tougher, Kelliher suspects that one of his team members might be involved. https://amzn.to/3oMo4qZ
Book Two of the Lives Trilogy, Shattered Lives:
The boys are home, but now they have
to fit back in with their families and friends. Their parents and the FBI
thought the boys were safe. They were until people began dying. Now the hunt is
on for six dangerous and desperate men who vow revenge. With no leads and
nothing to go on, the FBI can only sit back and wait. A dangerous game that
threatens not only the boys, but their families. https://amzn.to/2RAYIk2
Book Three of the Lives Trilogy, Splintered Lives:
Three dangerous men with nothing to lose offer a handsome reward to anyone willing to kill fourteen-year-old Brett McGovern. He does not know that he, his younger brother, and a friend are targets. More than anyone, these three men vow to kill George, whom they blame for forcing them to run and hide. A fun vacation turns into a nightmare and ends where it started, back on the Navajo Nation Reservation, high on a mesa held sacred by George and his grandfather. Outnumbered and outgunned, George will make the ultimate sacrifice to protect his adoptive father and his adoptive brothers- but can he? Without knowing who these men are? Or where they are? Without knowing whom to trust? Is he prepared for betrayal that leads to his heartbreak and death? http://bit.ly/SplinteredLives
Photos courtesy of Unknown