I’m grateful for second lives providing second chances

Craig Hall

Every so often Facebook isn’t actually Satan’s custom-designed, most-successful playground and some rays of light shine through. While the light in my life resides in my faith, He occasionally sends a message through others. Occasionally, if I’m paying attention, the evil which is Facebook presents His message in His perfect timing.

For this column, the timing involves our national day of Thanksgiving and a celebration of completing 62 trips around the sun on this orb I call home — until I finally go home. It also comes from an “other” and not the good book and savior I strive to spend time in and with daily. This deep thought on my wall comes from the philosopher Confucius: “We have two lives. The second begins when we realize we only have one.”

If you know my family and its history, it all begins with the heart. If you know me, you know I should have started sooner if only I’d been paying attention. At least with my wakeup call, I’m not in the habit of beating myself up anymore. At least that’s the goal in my trying to maintain gratitude. And if you really know me, you know that’s some heavy lifting.

You probably know I lost identical twin brothers from heart attacks five weeks apart in 2000. Too many days go by when I don’t think of them. On the days I do, I’m sad they didn’t get their opportunities for second lives. But I live with the thankfulness they both lived their best, first life before they passed. I also have my oldest brother, who’s had his share of heart and vascular troubles. By God’s grace he’s living out round two poking and tweaking authority through sarcasm and irony — something else which runs in my family.

But more to my situation resulting from my heart attack and subsequent bypass and valve replacement surgery.
For that, I’m going to focus on my mom and dad. I’m so glad and blessed they took their second lives to heart. Because my daughters and I will be forever grateful and thankful for the special time we had with them.

Mom seemed to understand things right away after her bypass surgery. Even if there were areas where she didn’t, her subsequent stents and hospital visits solidified her passion for life and her children and grandchildren, I’m beyond sure. Mom was always doing something for family, including taking the time and giving the love to parent her youngest child a second time around.  I wouldn’t have made it through my divorce and the last decade plus without all the love Mom gave to me, the talks full of advice and the love showered on my daughters.

Every Sunday — plus all too many other days — meant dinner at Harry and Marilynn’s whether I had the girls or not. Christmas Eve was for finding the pickle ornament to see if Maya or Evin got to open the first gift. Easter Sunday was a scavenger hunt for candy and gifts and every meal was made from scratch and the recipes in Mom’s head. To this day,
I make Mom’s pierogi on Christmas Eve. While always falling short, I take a stab or two at other recipes and guard her macaroni salad recipe with my life — as does my kids’ mom. My greatest culinary accomplishment came when mom said my pea soup was better than hers. High praise from the matriarch.

I think when I see Mom again, she’s going to refer to this column and say in her special way, “Why do you think I stuck around Craiglet?” Yes, it was a nickname.

As for Dad, I think his second life began when Mom’s did. My original thoughts about Dad for content were how he seemed old at the same ages I’m now experiencing. But deeper thought showed me just how wrong that was. Dad was simply from a different generation. Honestly, my career in sales and retail pales in terms of the physical requirements the jobs Dad had during fatherhood. His final career in teaching took more out of him mentally in taking care of high school kids. In terms of work, Dad has it all over me.

But after Mom’s heart surgery, Dad created a second life beyond his, mom’s or my imagination. You see, where I was going to talk about my walking 3 miles five or six days a week — something I never thought I’d do — I can’t brag on walking the Mesa Mall and changing my lifestyle to lose 150 pounds to be around for his wife, children and grandchildren. And around he was. Helping me with the paper until sepsis began to take its toll in his last few years and constantly doting on my mom and daughters — always asking about and giving them whatever they needed. That goes double for me. Dad’s last words to me were, “I’m going home?” and “You’re gonna be OK?”

Thankfully, because of my parents’ second lives and their faith in the almighty, my answer to both was a resolute, “Yes.” I hope I live up to them both with second life.

Craig Hall is owner and publisher of the Business Times. Reach him at 424-5133 or publisher@thebusinesstimes.com.