Episode 012 - The Pupating Is the Hardest Part

Rod Haden

Today we have an interview with Amy, talking about what she learned about herself, life, and love from marriage, divorce, and dating. She has style, charm, and humor, and it was a lot of fun hanging out and talking with her. Thanks, Amy!

This is probably the last interview for a little bit of awhile, until we can find more people willing to share their stories of transformation. If you're one of those people, drop me a line at rod@rodhaden.com. I'd love to hear from you!

Also, if you're willing, please send me a recording of yourself, your friends, family, and pets saying, "Caterpillar Goo!" I want to use them in intros and other fun with audio.

Thanks! Here's the transcript of Amy's story:

Got divorced in, that was the spring of, or summer actually, of 2003. It’s odd. It seems like a lifetime ago in a way. I was married for 4 years, and we were together/shacked up for 4 years before that. I was living in Houston, and he was living in Austin at the time, and one night I was headed out with my friend Jennifer, and of course what precipitated my meeting him was me and my friend saying things to each other like, “Ah, forget guys!” You know? “We’re just a couple of single gals!” The plan was just for us to go and play a game of pool together. Well, we go out to play pool, and who’s at the table next to us but 3 guys who we started talking to and then playing a pool game with.

I met Jeff that night, but he and I didn’t actually date until almost a year later because I started dating another guy in the group for about 9 or 10 months, and during that time, Jeff would come travel to Houston quite a bit, so I got to know Jeff a little bit. Kelly and I were, long story short, definitely not a good match, and not too long after he and I broke up, I had Jeff’s number, and I was like, “Ringy dingy! Hey, this is Amy! Kelly and I broke up. And how you doing? And did I mention I’m single?” And so, we went on a date, and that was that. And we had a long-distance relationship for about 9 or 10 months. And I had lived in Austin before and was just itching to move back, and this was, “Wow, what a great excuse to move back to Austin.” And so we, I moved back to Austin, and we moved in together. Mistake!

I had dated a little bit in college but didn’t really take a deep dive anywhere there. So I was quite inexperienced in dating even though at the time I thought that I had plenty under my belt. I thought that I was well-equipped to wisely select a compatible mate. So I would have been in my mid-20s at that point, and oh, I was so mistaken. 

My parents divorced when I was 11, and their divorce was pretty awful. The only way it could have been worse is if either one of them had had any money. And the fallout of it was just so huge and extreme for the family that through that experience alone, I thought that that alone was going to provide me good lessons in terms of what to do and what not to do. How to pick a mate. What to look for, what not to look for. And of course that’s not what happened.

There were a number of reasons why I selected Jeff as a mate, and I didn’t figure it out until afterward, but one of those reasons was envy. I was fairly isolated as a kid. I was a loner. In high school. I mean I had 1 or 2 friends but was very low-key. Jeff at the time, I idealized these characteristics that I felt like he had in terms of, he had been very happy throughout school and had a lot of friends and had maintained a lot of friendships, even from when he was a very small child. And then his family also, I met them, close to San Antonio where his parents lived in this lovely cabin, and they were just lovely people, and went there and had just this great time with his family that seemed at the time to me almost like a family that you might encounter, you might see in the movies. And I didn’t feel like the black sheep or the ugly duckling like I had even with my own family. With my immediate family, I definitely felt that way. And so in dating him, my world was opening up, and it was opening up to this entire area and this potential new family where I felt very welcomed and appreciated for who I was and what I brought to the table. I grew up in Louisiana, so I of course was a great cook, and his family really appreciated my cooking, and they loved to cook, and so that was something that we had a lot of fun kind of bonding over in their respective kitchens.

I think I had ideas about feeling like I was a likeable person, and almost felt like, Oh! I’m in this relationship with this guy who is very well-liked, well-loved, and if he loves me, and especially once he proposed, if he wants to marry me, then that must say something about me. I must’ve turned a corner, and I must be more likeable, and maybe I’m taking on some of these characteristics or traits. So, envy was a big old part of it, that I failed to see or acknowledge at the time.

He was raised Jewish. I hadn’t been raised Jewish, but I was born Jewish, and I found out when I was in high school and started to take an interest in that. And then when Jeff and I met, and, oh, you’re Jewish? Wait, I am too. That to me provided an additional opportunity to really become a part of something. And so that was definitely part of the appeal too. And Judaism, the more I learned about it, those were things that made sense to me. I had gotten kicked out of Sunday school in third grade because I asked a question that the teacher didn’t like, and I got kicked out. And so when I started to learn about Judaism later and how philosophically it embraces the idea of asking questions, that really appealed to me. And so I loved that we were both of the same religion, and it seemed to me that we appreciated the same things about the religion.

My vision was blurred by envy, idealism, and admiration of traits that I thought were there. Not to say that they weren’t, I mean, he was a funny guy, great sense of humor, and we could always find things to laugh about together. I overestimated humor’s role and its ability to carry a relationship. That only takes you so far. I would definitely advise anybody, don’t get married in your 20s. Don’t do it. My mom and dad, they got married when they were 19 and 20, so by the time I got married at 29, I thought oh yeah, I did such a great job in biding my time, and I thought that I was just all prepared for it.

And I mean, Caterpillar Goo. Talk about gooey, you know? I mean, come on, you know? You’re getting married, and you haven’t even pupated yet, you know? It’s just, how is this going to fly? I do remember the night before the wedding, having the cold feet and thinking, part of, like, feeling conflicted about it. Part of it was, oh, this is just cold feet, and everybody has that. But there really was another part of me that thought this, I don’t, you know, I haven’t been married before, but this does not feel, it doesn’t feel right to me. It doesn’t feel like something that is sustainable. I definitely played down the red flags, which I think is probably number one mistake, right?

It took a couple of years. It might have happened faster if not for events that cropped up that I think probably were distracting in a way. We had started work on building a house. And building a house is one of those things that unless you’ve talked to someone else, you’re really in no way prepared for what an involved and high maintenance process, and frustrating process, it truly can be. And our house was supposed to built in 6 months; it took 3 times that. Also, a month after we got married, I lost my job. And I got a new job quickly, but between that and the fear about losing a job again, that created a whole focus on my work and my career. It probably kind of distracted away from things that later on got more of my attention. We were living in this house, very close to the lake, and had made friends in the neighborhood, and were leading a lifestyle that was, you know, really happy and adventurous and comfortable at the same time. We didn’t have a boat, but we had friends who did. And so, it was really a comfortable and pleasant time despite little things in, what seemed like at that point, little things in our relationship that started to kind of creep up.

It was almost like if you imagine a pool of water, and you’ve put your hand in that little pool, and it’s just muddy. You don’t see through. But then, when you keep your hand still, eventually, the dust settles, and then you see clear through. Once we started to kind of get settled in as a couple, like ok, this is what our path actually looks like, that’s when things started to unravel. And I’ll bet you now, there were things that were going on that I wasn’t paying attention to. I was selling myself short by not acknowledging that and pulling some threads that needed to be pulled. I let it go. Of course communication issues come up for everybody, but I was not, I wasn’t doing the due diligence. I wasn’t being fair to myself. And the issue in the end wasn’t not trusting him. The issue was me not trusting myself.

I’m a lifelong student, and there are lots of things that I always wanted to learn, like while I was in college for example, that I never really had an opportunity to because I put myself through school, and I just reached a point where, yeah, I would love to do this forever, but I’m broke, and I gotta get a job and gotta do these other things called life. But wherever I could take like a drawing class, or a painting class, or a sculpture class. I got into gardening and set up a garden, and then before you know it, I was astonished to find that, would you believe it, deer were eating, and so figuring out, well how do we set this up so that we can actually have the vegetables that we’re trying to grow here? But we found little things here and there to jump in on together.

We had a lot of areas of agreement. We even agreed in areas where we were more vague or noncommittal, like with kids. We both felt like, well we don’t know. We don’t know if we’re going to have kids or not, but we both felt confident in our relationship that we would agree on if and when that would happen, but we felt like we would be on the same page about having kids. Physically, yeah. I mean, our, we always had had a good sex life, so that wasn’t an area of tension or issue. That only started to deteriorate after other areas started to.

He started to get interested in these TV shows that were on cable access in Austin. I don’t remember the names of them, but they were, the hosts were conspiracy theorists.So I remember he would watch them, and at first he would laugh about them, and I mean, there were some that were, there’s no other way to slice it. They were absurd. I mean there was one guy who wore a toilet lid around his neck when he was delivering his monologue. I don’t know what that was supposed to symbolize, but yeah, take him seriously. But at first, you know, he’d watch these like, “Oh, this is kind of a freak show. Check this out.” And then that changed. That changed to, “You know, I think this guy might have a point.” I mean, his interest in conspiracy theories built up quite a bit. His interest in that to the point where that became very much a second job. He made some friends who were producers with Austin Cable Access, and before you know it, he was producing his own show. And I wanted to be supportive of that because that was in many ways a creative effort, and it was interesting to him, and you always want to support, you know, your mate’s interests. The subject matter was really troubling to me.

About 2 ½ years in, that’s when things started to come apart, and it was a confluence or merger of several things at one time. The, his interest in conspiracy theories had, that had fully matured and developed. And I didn’t at all mind the amount of time that it took. Like have all the time that you want for the things that you want to pursue. It was that he was bringing those things home with him, those topics home with him. And so our interactions and what we really could talk about, that was narrowing in a way that was unfulfilling for me. And at the same time also, there are things that you must do as a married couple that aren’t necessarily demanded of you when you’re living together, when you’re dating, and so for example with the filing taxes, you know, filing taxes jointly, that kind of deal. And that called for a greater level of communication between us that we just clearly weren’t equipped for, and there were things, there were other areas where the trust was being eroded. I was keeping to myself a whole lot. I started to shut down. And I started to not be at home so much. Not going out and partying or anything like that, just kind of going to a neighbor’s or staying at work a little later.

And so, Jeff and I got to the point where our everyday interactions were very kind of vanilla and garden variety. Like he would call me at pretty much the same time every day to ask me what was for dinner. Yeah, things got boring for us just because we weren’t finding new things together to enrich and inform that relationship, and so our interactions with each other got pretty anemic. And I wasn’t sharing, and my feelings of trust, I was starting to tap into that as a need, that I need honesty.It’s not just that we love one another, but we are friends to each other, and we are supportive of each other, yes, but we are also protective of each other. And I was feeling more and more like my best interests were not being regarded or protected. And in my head what I saw, the analogy that I draw is almost like, you see footage of when a space shuttle goes into orbit, and it detaches, it just kind of unlocks from I guess it’s the booster, it just detaches, and the 2 units are never to be united again. They’re just off into their own spaces on their own paths. 

And we had gone to counseling once. We went to a counselor, and we talked about things, and then afterward, you know, we walked out, and Jeff was like, alright, well that was cool. Glad we got that taken care of, like it was something to mark off the checklist, and yeah. We talked about it a little bit more after that, but I don’t remember making like a big, concerted push for joint counseling after that. I went for my own, just for my own individual counseling after that point. I think probably just talking things out and processing things out loud rather than having them just hamster-wheeling, pent up in my own headspace, getting them out and really exchanging with someone probably helped me to process things a little bit more clearly.

So, things got a little bit more clear for me in working with a therapist, but I didn’t know when or how or if divorce was going to happen. I was afraid to pull the trigger, not really sure how to go about that, or what that would look like, and we had this whole life created and built and were set, you know, like we were just going to keep on as we had been and probably could have in some ways. And I knew that Jeff was unhappy, because I mean, sex is a part of how you communicate together as a couple, and we just weren’t communicating obviously through sex or through anything. I mean, we’d really and truly shut down in a lot of ways. And I had shut down. I wasn’t opening up about things that were frustrating me, and I was letting it build up and up and up and up and up. Just letting it build up, but not even perceiving it that way. And my uncertainty about the future and my feelings of investment into our life and our lifestyle just kind of kept me in a holding pattern for quite some time. It was just kind of this murky gray area where I felt like this doesn’t feel at all good, and I don’t see it improving in any way, because I don’t see a path toward things getting better. But I wasn’t ready to take action in any way. And then it just snapped.

The decision to divorce was another off-and-on switch that all of a sudden got activated. That day at work, I had gotten news that my job was more likely than not on the chopping block. So there were rumors about that going around, so it was like, oh, ok, so I’m on the precipice of needing to find another job again, and I don’t know what or how that’s going to look like or how long it’s going to take. So I had a whole lot going on in my head about that and was pretty troubled about it. And so he called me on his way to the studio to check in with me, and I said, I have a request, and it’s important. And I told him what had gone on that day, and I said, when you get home tonight, I just want a peaceful, tranquil night. Maybe we’ll watch a DVD or something, but I need you to not talk at all about this stuff, conspiracy theories, how the show went, anything like that. I don’t want to hear a thing about it. Please, no. I need recess from that tonight. He agreed.

He gets home, comes through the door, sits down on the couch. I’m sitting in the easy chair. He sits down and goes right into regaling me with all of the details about the show’s production that night, and the topic du jour, and I just sat there, and I looked at him. I just stared at him. And finally he sees the look on my face, or recognizes it, and says, what? And I said, I want a divorce. It just switched off. And it was like my mind and my body just went into autopilot at that point. I was no longer troubled about an uncertain future. I wasn’t troubled about anything at all. I just knew what I needed to do. You can’t unring a bell. You said it. Now you have to follow through. 

So Monday night we split up. Tuesday night I was in a hotel 2 nights, and then the night after that, I was in my new apartment. I had barely been able to pick up anything from the house, so I just had sheets, my pillow, just a couple of other things, and I slept on the floor of my new apartment and cried. I remember like bursting into tears at certain times where it was very unpredictable. It just came on all of a sudden, like when I was signing the lease papers of the apartment complex. I burst into tears, and I remember the apartment manager, of course I bet she’s seen many separated people in her time, and she was consoling me. And it felt very disorienting. Just all of a sudden, like what’s my path now? Everything was different. I mean, I got set up with my new apartment, in pretty short order, and on the outside things looked just fine, and they were shaping up. But on the inside, I felt very, that was a very gooey time.

The whole process of marriage and the dissolution of it, it took a long time, and even now, I still have revelations about it. I definitely question things a lot more. I question things about myself, but I also know to trust myself and to consider myself. Hopefully I understand a lot more about what the necessary ingredients are in order for a relationship to make the long haul. I don’t think longevity is, that in and of itself does not necessarily, it doesn’t reflect success. But the quality of the relationship, how are you with each other over time, how will your lives naturally and also through effort mesh well together? You know, what are the components of compatibility that really serve people the best? Humor is still definitely a part of it, a shared sense of humor, but shit, it’s certainly far from the only thing. You know, it’s a matter of figuring out like what areas, like, there should be compatibility, like in terms of things that you have in common and areas that you complement each other, but there can also be areas where you’re too much alike. It’s a matter of how do you identify and figure out that sense of balance where your differences and your similarities fit together well.

I see the early part of a relationship, all those feelings, like the butterflies in the stomach, kind of seeing like, oh, you’re feeling this way. Well, you know that your body is being bathed in all of these chemicals that are supposed to kind of goad you into or kind of lead you down this path. There’s the giddiness and all that that’s, you know, really fun and enjoyable. But I also know your vision gets blurry because of things like that.

So after I separated, I got into dating, and I felt like there’s still a lot I need to understand about who I am. But I jumped into it. God, online dating was really weird and still pretty new I guess at the time. So I got into online dating for a little bit and thought, oh, I’m backing out of this because I was getting into these very short-lived kind of things where I would meet someone and we’d feel this kind of giddiness, and then I would get ghosted before ghosting was even a thing, you know? Hey, I’m a trendsetter. Or, you know, things would just come an abrupt halt, or all of a sudden I’d realize, oh no. I took a big old break.

It was 6 years before I dated anyone. I was strictly on my own and just determined, you know what, I’m going to focus on living like the kind of person that I would want to date. And so I did acting classes and just anything that I got a lark for, that I wanted to learn about, I did. I took acting classes. I went to ACC and started on a second degree in graphic design because that’s, you know, I had things, things in that area that I’d always wanted to know how to do even if I didn’t make that into a career. I just went about fulfilling my intellectual curiosity as I went on the exercise of making friends.

There’s a part of me that would like a relationship. There’s part of me that would like a relationship right now. I still wasn’t sure whether I wanted to have kids or not, but it wasn’t like I had any biological clock ticking or anything like that, but I didn’t want to put myself in the position of not dating at all until it was too late.  But I’m glad I allowed myself some time there just to be on my own in the world, and focus on making friends, making and sustaining friendships because I didn’t see that Jeff and I had done a good job of being friends to each other. And I really wanted to come at it from the standpoint of, if I date someone that’s wonderful, but I want to be sure that we are friends first.

I always had an independent streak, but I’m not sure that I ever gave myself a chance to really explore everything that truly being independent had to offer in terms of benefit, but also growth through challenge. I had lived by myself throughout college, but this was my chance as a fully-fledged adult, to work on something resembling a career, buying a house. I wanted to pursue goals, and this was an opportunity to do those things without needing to partner or compromise or negotiate with someone.

When I re-entered online dating years later, I tried out a couple of sites concurrently. But Jesus. Like I was on OKCupid for less than 5 minutes before I got propositioned by a couple. It was like, uh huh. Wow. Is this what this whole scene is like? And Match, it’s almost like for each of these sites, like each one seems to have its own brand or characteristic or group of people that it tends to attract. Match was like the playing ground for married men from Houston who wanted to make it seem as though they were single and just in Austin for the weekend. And yeah, there was a lot of that. There was, like on OKCupid, there were propositions from couples, or I remember getting a message from this one woman who posted pictures of herself in various states of dress. And I indicated that I was only interested in boys, so I’m not sure why she thought this would be something I’d go for, but she sent me pictures of her in various states of undress, down to lingerie, covering herself in chocolate syrup. And I was on eHarmony for 24 hours, and I was like, no no no no, I’m crawfish-tailing my way out of this one. That one was strange. It was like a whole lot of questions, and then it offered you up your matches, and I had no idea how my answers lead to the profiles that I got. And so I left that. But yeah, lots of nice people. A few jerks in the mix there. I remember a lot of just online chats, online conversations, and then just never getting to the point where I was meeting someone initially in real life, at least not at first. I tried a couple of dates, and it was like this initial giddiness and fun, and then crash. 

I tried PlentyOfFish also. PlentyOfFish was what I used that lead me to my next relationship, my next serious relationship after my marriage, and that lasted for a year and a half. What I learned from that one, though, was that I had intentionally chosen someone who I wouldn’t be able to have a long term relationship with. Sometimes the only way out of something is through it. But I recognized that about myself in that relationship, while I was in the relationship, and took some time off from that and then dove back in, and I think my approach at that point was improved. I took kind of a more playful stance about it. And I took the approach of, well, you know what? Either I’m going to have a great time, or at the very least I’m going to have an interesting story.

But I approached everything like, ok, it seems like we have a couple of things in common in this conversation, ok. Let’s meet up. Let’s have a cup of coffee, or let’s just see what happens. I knew that I would meet someone, and based on the little conversation we had, if we could find something in common, something that was interesting for both of us to talk about, it was usually like writing or art or something creative, I would learn something, or I’d have a good story about it. So I wasn’t necessarily going into it for like, is this the one? It was just a matter of, let’s just meet up in the light of day and see how it works out.

 And it worked out everywhere from I met up with a guy where about 15 minutes into the conversation, and he asked me to wax his mustache for him. Nah. To I met a guy who was operating his own, he called it a porn site, but it consisted entirely of only photos of women fully clothed smoking cigarettes. But it was just interesting, you know, like meeting different people from all walks of life. I just took it on as just a way to meet new and interesting people and just having a, just being exposed to different frames of mind.

And whenever I met someone who was creative, it was always fun to talk about and see what they were working on. I’d meet someone, I’d think oh, well this, we’re attracted to each other, and this has a real possibility, but we just ran into a failure to launch, like where things just got too accelerated too quickly. And then I hit the point where that was getting a little bit painful, I met one guy where I was really interested and really hoping that things would develop, and then he made it clear he wasn’t interested in really continuing to date or anything like that. And that was a painful experience for me, and after that I thought, you know what? I need to change.

And I felt like, ok, this is where I need to become more intentional. And if it’s a relationship that I want, if it’s a boyfriend that I want, if it’s something that really can have a chance of standing the test of time and being good for me and good for the other person, then I need to articulate exactly what that looks like. And I wrote down, these are the things that I’m looking for in a partner. This is what I would ideally like for a relationship to really look like, and these are the things that are important to me, like a shared sense of adventure and an emphasis on having that as a part of life. And even like describing like physical characteristics, not having the expectation that I was going to meet someone who would fill all those things to a T, but just as a way of kind of reflecting back to myself, well, these are the things that I have in mind. By virtue of putting those things down on paper, it helps to kind of start the path to creating it more real, like from wooden boy to Pinocchio. And I didn’t know if that would be effective in bringing it closer to me, but I thought well, what’s the harm? You know, at least I’ve got this more clarified to myself, but I mean, I wrote stuff down, and then I put it on top of my mantle, where I would see it. And just by having it in front of me where I’d see it in passing and review it and reflect on it, that helped. 

And so, I met Steven a couple of months after that, and the trajectory, the path of our early relationship I felt like there was a lot there that we got right. We were friends first and spent a lot of time talking and sharing and being, just truly being friends to each other before we were boyfriend and girlfriend. And that felt really good. We got engaged about a year and a half into the relationship, and that’s one of the ones, that was one where I really, like there wasn’t any kind of feeling of cold feet. Like when we got engaged, I thought, here we have all the ingredients that we need to last. I was wrong, but I feel like I got more right about that one. And that one, the dissolution of that relationship was emotionally a lot harder than my marriage.

The list that I put together continued to evolve, or really I would just make new lists, you know, like progressive elaboration. There were also things that I realized, like ok, so how do I feel about myself in this relationship? And so I would add things or I would write down a list of  you know, how do I want to feel? And more about what kind of adventures do I want to experience with someone?

But I’m engaged now, and it’s a leap of faith in a way, but that’s not, it’s not like a leap of blind faith. It’s figuring out the right questions to ask yourself and not taking things for granted. It’s important to have shared interests. Having shared projects that you talk about and want to work on together is great, and that’s something that Greg and I have. So he’s an entertainer and a mentalist, and I’m learning, I love, I just love being with someone that you learn from. He’s accomplished in but also, he has very much that attitude of, like learning as a lifelong experience. It’s just part of what’s exciting to be human. And we’re both big-time bookworms. And so he’s sharing a lot with me, and I’m learning a lot from him and taking advantage of all of the literature that he has around mentalism. So I’m getting into that and also doing things like card reading, and so I do readings using playing cards rather than tarot, so I’ve gotten the skills down now, and I do readings for people. In fact, if you want one, you’re, I’m happy to give you one. But I don’t have anything like marketing-wise set up yet, so I don’t have a website to plug or anything like that. I’m still coming up with my stage name, as it were. So, I identified a stage name, but then, wisely I Googled it, and it came up as the name of a popular porn star. And I was like, oh, uh, no to that. That could, yeah, confusion around that could be interesting, so I’m going to avoid that. So I’ve got to figure out another name.

I would love to get to the point where I feel very comfortable about being in the moment and extemporaneous. And like with my current job and with previous jobs, they have involved public speaking, and I’ve gotten better at it, and I’m not at the point where it leaves me feeling catatonic anymore, so that’s good, so that’s progress, but I sometimes, like I feel like I plan too much in advance or maybe lean onto that too much as a crutch, which then might result in it feeling a little bit more, seeming a little bit more stilted or scripted or something like that. And I would love for it to feel a lot more natural. Like Greg, I mean, he’s very comfortable with being on stage and in the moment. You know, he’s very well-practiced at it, and he’s great at it, and see, to me that is the healthy kind of envy, for lack of a better word. You know, like I admire this in this person, but it’s not like I’m idealizing that. The things that I admire about him are just one facet of the many reasons why I am with him.

It’s not like I could pass myself off as, you know, hey, I’ve got it all figured out. I mean, I have more figured out than what I did, and I imagine there are blind spots that I’ve got now that maybe, maybe not I’ll realize later. But I, it’s a practice, right? Relationship is a practice, and I feel like I’m getting better at that practice. I’ve had a hard time in the past with, like I’ll have an emotion, like I’ll feel frustration or I’ll feel anger, or I’ll feel just kind of a nagging feeling, but elucidating why I feel that way, feeling anger, without being able to explain why it was. Well then, my reaction would be delayed because I wouldn’t share that I was feeling an emotion much less why. And then it would take me some time to figure out the why. But by the time I figured that out, it was really too late to go back, in my mind I felt at the time it was really too late to go back and say, hey, you know, when I was seeming pissed off? Well, this is why it was, and let’s talk about. And again, that’s practice. I mean, I still have those moments when I feel upset about something, and I don’t know why, but I bring that up, even if it’s not something that I can explain, just to get it out there and even just talking through it. And being with someone who you can talk through those things with, you know. For me I think it’s just a matter of considering yourself. Be selfish in love. I don’t mean selfish as in being regardless of someone else’s needs or feelings, but I mean it’s, you gotta consider yourself as much as you’re considering the other person. Think about what you need.

I’m digging the 40s. I am totally digging them, because I feel more childlike and free than I ever did. And I feel like embracing kind of having the beginner’s mind. And I don’t know what I don’t know in some areas, and being ok with myself over that. Being among other adults, other divorced adults, talking with other adults who have been in, you know, marriages, divorces, significant relationships, and sharing all of those things, it’s like, yeah, nobody really has it figured out. And that is a tremendous relief. Tremendous relief. I don’t know what it is about being young that makes you so worried about what’s normal. Why does it feel important to feel normal? And what is that anyway? I don’t know what my hangup was about feeling normal or fitting in, or anything like that. But one of the wonderful things about getting older is that you find out nobody really fits in, but that said, we all kind of find our tribes in a way.

Episode 004 - The Quiet Man

Rod Haden

I hope you're all having a wonderful holiday season! I certainly am. Time is flying and my days are packed. This week we have a conversation with my father, Rudy Haden, a man who has fascinated me ever since I was a wee lad. He's that special kind of quiet that invites others to project onto him whatever they want him to be. Getting him to open up about his past, present, and future, and what he thinks and feels about all 3 was a very special treat for me. I've known the man for 45 years and heard some stories when we talked that I have never heard before. He is my role model for what it means to be a man, a father, and husband, and though we are very different from each other, I couldn't have asked for a better teacher. Thanks, Dad!


I don’t move around very good. I’m in pain quite a bit. It comes and goes. It comes and goes. Some days it’s worse; some days it’s not. It doesn’t seem to depend on how much exercise I get. Some days it’s painful to exercise; sometimes it’s not.

I sit and try to meditate, and it does nothing for me, but when I’m really quiet, or when I’m just totally listening to music, it’s like somebody plants knowledge into my head. I know and I understand things, which I had no idea before. So my meditation is basically checking out and listening to music.

Early on in our marriage, I was in an apprenticeship program, tool and die maker. I had to really concentrate at work. And it’s not easy for me to relate to other people, but I really worked on the journeymen. I would constantly hang around them, and ask them questions, and ask them the best way to do stuff, and I got in as I guess a favorite pupil with about 3 or 4 of them.

So that when I’d come home, I was exhausted, and I would lay down on the floor and play a Beethoven record or something with earphones on, and Robbie would get so pissed off at me because she was making dinner and taking care of the kids, and I was checked out. She didn’t understand that that’s the way I did my meditation.

I’ve been in and out of a lot of churches. My parents were married in a… I can’t think of the religion right now. Reverend Grace. I remember the name of the preacher that married them, and that was there. The guy wore a collar, but he wasn’t a Catholic. But he was deaf. He ministered to the deaf people. He was deaf himself.

He was in the deaf community, and in the basement of his church is where they held all the deaf fraternity meetings.It was based on the Masons. Only it was all deaf men. It was called the Frat. That was what my mom and dad called it. The Frat. We’re going to the Frat. When they went to Frat, the women all sat outside in the waiting room. The kids played on the floor. And when the big meeting was over, they’d throw the doors open, and everybody would go in and have a big social event.

And then my mother’s side of the family was deep into the Reform Christian Church, and I went to a lot of Bible schools and Sunday schools and stuff in that until I was about 3rd or 4th grade. And then I felt like I needed to get hooked up with different churches, so I went to a Methodist church, I went to a holy roller church with a friend, and I went to a couple of Catholic services. As a teen. None of that stuff stuck with me. 

Just because there was so much religion on my mother’s side of the family, I don’t know, I just felt like I was supposed to do it. In order to be accepted by them, I should have a church, but I never could find one. And I came away from it having no respect for organized religion because the main thing they wanted, no matter what it was, they wanted money up front. Seemed like everything was driven by the collection plate. If you were a big donor, you got a lot of attention. If you weren’t, you didn’t get much. And that’s what really turned me off. 

My dad was born on the farm in Kansas, and he was sent to the Kansas State Home for the Deaf and Blind. My dad was born deaf, they think because in the early days when they had the traveling doctors going around the frontier and the farms and stuff, my grandmother evidently had a lot of morning sickness, and the doctor prescribed quinine. Well, later on they found that quinine did stuff to the unborn child. 

My mom came over on the boat from Holland witH her mother. And my mother, we don’t know if she was born that way, or it was some kind of sickness or something that she got in Holland or on the boat or what, but ever since she was a baby, she was deaf. Then my mother was, because she was deaf mute, she was sent off to the school in Colorado Springs.

The strange thing is that the Colorado School for the Deaf and Blind insisted that deaf people learn to lip read and speak, and so my mother was pretty good at lip reading and speaking. And they were discouraged from using sign language, so if you compare the deaf people now that use sign language to the old people that use sign language, now it’s all really broad and all over the place, and the older people, their signs are all close in and secretive about it, where now they’re just flamboyant about it. Their signs are all over the place. 

And my dad, the Kansas School for the Deaf and Blind weren’t that way. They were teaching them to do stuff and sign language and be able to be self-sufficient. 

See, in my dad’s side of the family, all the people learned sign language, the hearing and the non-hearing. So I had no idea whether they were hearing, any memory of whether they were hearing or not. On my mom’s side of the family, I had one uncle that learned the deaf sign language, learned the deaf alphabet, and he could do that. He was the only one that made any effort to sign to my mother. All her other brothers and sisters didn’t because she had been sent to school, and they were told that she was to learn to lip read, and so they would talk to her. But the thing of it is, it’s really easy to ignore somebody like that, because all you do is turn away. Turn around, they can’t see your signs. They can’t read your lips. So, whenever there was an argument or something, it was easy just to walk away from that.

My dad’s family had a big get-together once every summer. They came from all over the place. They were Kansas, Nebraska, western Colorado, and they’d have these big, long picnics on the weekend, and there were aunts and uncles and cousins. I didn’t even know all the cousins I had. But I never just seemed to fit in.

He worked in a factory. He started out in a printing shop, a paper cutter. Cutting stuff for the print shop. Then ended up in Shwayder Bros./Samsonite, cutting stuff for the suitcases and plastic tops of card tables and chairs. And my mom worked there on the assembly line putting stuff together. And my Uncle Jim and Aunt Julia also worked in the same factory. Shwayder Bros. hired a lot of, I guess what they called the handicapped people. 

Clarence, he was a rancher. He raised horses, and at one time he had a riding stable up on Lookout Mountain just above Denver. And they had 2 boys, and the youngest one, John, he had a pinto pony named Ruben. And they taught me how to ride. And I could put the bridle on Ruben, lead him over to the fence, they had a rail fence, and I’d climb up the rail fence and get on him. And I was, what, 5 years old.

John would go off hunting. He’d go out, he had a rifle, and he’d go out shooting magpies. I had no idea what magpies were. I was determined I was going to follow him one day and see where he was going, and I’d see these cow patties in various places, you know. So I thought cow patties were magpies, and cousin John shot them. I couldn’t have been 4 or 5 years old. And then he, one time he put his rifle in, we had a, there was a kind of a mud room entrance to the farmhouse, and he left his rifle leaned up against the thing, and he had a thing in the chamber, and I went up there and was messing with it, and I inadvertently pulled the trigger. And it shot a hole in the roof. My Uncle Clarence was really pissed off at John for doing that.

My bed was in this big room where the radio was. There was no TV in those days. It was during the war. World War II. I remember there was a big old tree in the backyard. When I wanted to get away, I’d just climb up in that tree and sit up there all by myself. Could see the whole neighborhood. 

I don’t remember when I realized that there was a hearing world and a deaf world. You never knew. I mean, you could talk to some people, and you had to sign to some people, and some people were talking and signing, and you know, there was no distinguishment. And a lot of the deaf people could read lips. I don’t know when I realized that. I suppose it happened to me some time in high school when, you know how high school gets. How clannish and cliquish it is, and some kids are favored by the teachers, and some aren’t. I realized I was different. During high school, I was really aware of it because people would kind of shy away from me. If I tried to be friendly with somebody, they wouldn’t necessarily because I was a child of dummies. That’s what deaf people were called in those days. They were deaf and dumb. The deaf and dumb part came from deaf and dumb, couldn’t speak. But the dummy part carried on as not being intelligent.

And then in high school, I don’t ever, in junior high or any of those, I don’t ever remember having a parent-teacher conversation. Nobody ever, none of my teachers ever contacted my parents, even when I wouldn’t do my homework or my grades were down. There was nothing. They just passed me along. And in high school, I signed up to take a Spanish class, and I was discouraged. I should take English. I was going to sign up to take some math classes, and I was discouraged. I was to take a general math class where the big thing was to learn how to write a check and keep a bank account and pay your taxes. There was none of that geometry stuff. I didn’t get hooked on that stuff until my senior year in high school. I finally got into an algebra class. 

And I hated high school. I just didn’t fit. Didn’t know how to talk to girls. I had no experience with girls. When friends come over, it was really awkward. If somebody came home with me, it was really, really awkward because of my parents. My parents would try to be friendly with them, but they didn’t know how to deal with it. And so they just dealt with me away from my house.

I really got big into leatherwork because I had an Industrial Arts teacher, Mr. Landon was… he taught Print Shop, Leather Shop, and Woodworking. And I took all those courses. Originally I thought I was going to be an Industrial Arts teacher, then I thought about getting a degree to be able to become a forest ranger, but there was no way. I couldn’t figure out how in the hell I was going to go to college to do that. Although it was a lot easier to go to college in those days than it is now. The costs weren’t so damn much. 

 And I was really into skiing, through the Boy Scouts. Some of us in the neighborhood learned to ski. It was scary in the beginning until I learned to parallel ski. Once I got out of the snowplow thing. I got fairly good at parallel. I never was Olympic quality, but I could do alright. I just loved the freedom. Just felt free. Riding up to the top of the mountain and letting go. And then after I got out of the Navy, I really went into it for a couple of years. In fact, that’s how I met Ruth, my first wife. We met through a friend, and she was really impressed with my skiing. I took her skiing every weekend. She was really into that. And then somehow we ended up getting married.

I really got into skiing, and it was a really good friend that we skied with a lot. And he said he was going to join the Navy. At that time when you turned 18, you were eligible for the draft, so I turned 18 in 1955, and that was right between the Korean War and the Vietnam War, that period. His argument was, “If we join the Navy before we turn 18, we get out on our 21st birthday. Plus the Navy will send us to school.” He laid it out, you know, that we were going to end up getting drafted for 2 years anyway, and there was this opportunity, and I felt, “Yeah, this is a good idea.” It wasn’t all that analytical, it was it felt right. And so I did it. So we joined the Navy. We took tests and everything, and both of us qualified as machinists.

Yeah, I was out in ‘58. I rejoined in ‘61. I was out for 3 years.

I remember going and applying for this one job, and the guy interviewed me and said, “No, you’re too young. You couldn’t do all that.” And then that was the end of the interview. He didn’t believe me. And at the same time, I was going to night school, it was late ‘50s and early ‘60s recession. And you’d work for 3 months, and you’d get laid off. And you’d work for 3 months and get laid off. 

And then when I had such a hard time with all the on again, off again jobs, and I don’t know how I found out the Navy came up with a need for my particular skill. When I got out the first time, I was a second class petty officer, and they… I found out that I could go back in as a second class petty officer, got assigned to a ship in San Diego. We started, originally it was all those old diesel boats, and we worked on those all the time. And then the nuclear subs started to come in. Some of us were cleared to work on the nuclear subs.

So then I was going to make a career out of it. And I just remember getting a call, the piping over the com. And I just remember, “Petty Officer First Class Haden, report to the quarterdeck!” And I thought, “Oh crap! What have I done now?” I go up there, and a guy hands me, you know, he served me with separation papers, and I opened them up and looked at them, and it was, you know, legal language about… I showed the officer, and I said, “I don’t know what to do about this.” And he said, “Well, the first thing you ought to do is get a hold of the chaplain.” 

I knew things weren’t really good with us, but I didn’t think they were that bad. It was a real slap in the face getting served. I was just dumbfounded. “I don’t know what to do now? What?” I had to ask some officer who was probably a lieutenant junior grade or something and was probably 23 years old or something, you know, “What do I do now?”

So I made an appointment with the chaplain and talked to him, and then he got her and me into counseling. And it broke down and went to divorce. It was really traumatic. I had no idea what to do. I was at a loss. And that chaplain gave me options what to do. “Well, you can just not contest it and let her have the kids and stay in the Navy.” And I thought, “Crap, I’ve seen too many of those guys. I ain’t going to be one of them. I want a relationship with my children.” He just gave me all these different options to think about. If it’s something physical, like a computer or a computer program or a piece of machinery or a car or building or something like that, I’m very analytical. But when it comes to feelings and interactions with people, I’m more intuitive. One of my big things that I’ve known over the years is that when a door opens, you look to see whether you want to go through that door or not, whether it feels right or not, and that’s pretty much the way I’ve gone. From being a piecemeal machinist to a maintenance machinist to a tool and die maker to a numerical control programmer to a software developer, and that’s where I was until I retired. But all of those were, a door opened and I went through. There was no analytical thing about it. Did it feel right? Yeah, that felt like it was a good thing to do. 

And then when the divorce happened, I had already... You know, I was committed for another 4 years. And the padre, the chaplain, said, “You know, you could file for custody. If you get custody, you could get an honorable discharge for hardship.” And I just felt like, “Am I good enough to be a father to those kids?” And I just had the feeling, “Yeah, you can do this, but it ain’t going to happen anyway, but what the hell. Go for it.” And I’ll be damned if it didn’t happen. And I thought, “Oh crap. Now what do I do?” At that time, Harold had just gotten a divorce, and he was a single father with 2 kids. He had this big house. And he said, “You could come live with me, and we’ll help each other out.” And so we did. 

And it’s the best thing that ever happened to me. But at the time, more than resistant to it, I was confused by it, scared of it. What am I going to do now? What am I going to do with the kids that I love so much? I had heard so many terrible things about split families, you know, kids bouncing back and forth and back and forth, loyalties, mothers saying bad things about the father and the father saying bad things about the mother, that at one point I thought that if I ever have to get divorced, then I’ll just let go of the kids, not be in their life. Well that was dumb-headed. I realize that now. Just so many things happened there that I had no clue. I had no idea what I was doing. Just taking it a day at a time.

And then when I got out of the Navy the second time, because I worked on nuclear submarines, I had a top, not a Top Secret, but a Secret clearance, so when I came out, I went to Rocky Flats, which was the big nuclear plant. They made triggers for the atomic bomb. And I applied there, and they said, “Well, it’s probably going to take about 6 months to get your clearance through the FBI.” 3 weeks later, I got a call says, “You’re hired.” 

I was a maintenance machinist. We just went around fixing pumps and stuff, generators. And they opened up an apprenticeship, and I was close to 40 years old. The cutoff date was 40. And I took the test, I went into the interviews and took all the tests and everything they gave us, and there were 2 of us that were picked for the apprenticeship, and I went into that. So I went into the tool and die shop, and that’s where they made all the tooling and everything for the equipment, the nuclear stuff. It was all classified stuff.

Well, when I got… finished my apprenticeship, I became a journeyman, and I worked nights. But during that time, they brought in a milling machine that was numerically controlled, and all those old journeymen, they had no clue about that thing, so I really jumped on that, and I learned all about how to manually program it. And so whenever they wanted to put something on there, why, I was assigned to do it. They had other numerically controlled machines all through the plant. Well, there was an opening there for a programmer, and I applied for it and got it. And in the meantime, during that time I had taken some nighttime college courses on FORTRAN and drafting programs through The University of Colorado.

You know, you get out of marriage and everything, and all you’ve got is work and little kids, and you just figure you need something else. That dating thing was not analytical. That was totally gut. I kept seeing it in the paper and throwing it away, seeing it in the paper and throwing it away. And I read it and thought, “Aw, what the hell. I’ll try it.” And I was ready to give up on that because I had 2 or 3 bad dates. I remember going and walking down the steps into her garden level apartment. And opening that door, and thought, “OK, this is a good one.” And we went out, and the rest is history.

It was such a whirlwind. We were going to get married at 6 months or something. I didn’t think it was right to get married right away. The divorce wouldn’t even be final until March. So then we thought, “OK, in the summer. No, let’s get married in June. How about Spring Break?” And I thought, “My God, this is soon!” But I’ve been following her lead for years. I just know that it sure as hell worked out. Here we are, almost 50 years later. 

When Mom and I met, she was determined that she had found me and that I was the guy, and she was going to marry me, and I had just 2 years ago gotten out of a marriage. I didn’t even know who the hell I was. I had 2 little kids, was living with my brother in his basement, and your Mom was determined we were going to get married, and she was going to have 2 kids. And then we got married, and she was determined she was going to have her own kid. And then she had her own kid, and then she determined that she wanted another one. In those days, it was all the hippie thing, you know. You replenish yourself. So I’d already, I was the husband and a wife, and we had a boy and a girl, so when I got married again, I said, “OK. One more, for Robbie.” But then she was Empty Arm Syndrome or something, and she was determined she was going to have you. And so we had you. Best thing in the world.

After I worked at Rocky Flats for 7 years, I got laid off because they were cutting back, cutting back on nuclear bombs and everything. So they had to cut back on the staff, and they ended up closing Rocky Flats because it was so contaminated. For a long time, I had to go in and be monitored by medical once a year because I was exposed to americium and some other chemicals I don’t remember. I’d go in, and they’d take blood. I was exposed, but I was never contaminated, so I was alright. 

I knew that if I was just a piecemeal machinist, I’d be doing that 3 months on, 3 months off thing for the rest of my life and never getting out of debt. And so I just followed the path. I knew that I had, because the layoff from Rocky Flats, the Bomb Factory, I was back in that mode of working in small shops for short periods of time. And I knew that I was going to get into numerical control. I wanted to. But my goal was the eastern boundary of Colorado, anything west, and the southern boundary of Colorado, anything north. And all I kept getting was this crap in Texas! And they kept offering to bring us down here for a weekend, for a Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, and put us up. And I thought, “Well, what the hell. It’s an opportunity to get out and spend the weekend on somebody else’s dime.” And I came down here, and I was interested. They were interested in me.

Because I worked so hard at it. I spent a lot of time self-educating. The computer has been the best damn thing in my life. Although I got a lot of enjoyment out of my kids. Just enjoying watching you do things and try things and being assistant coach for your soccer team and watching Rik at swim meets. I was a timer and a stroke judge, and I also shot the gun. Starter. It was either sit in that stupid tent, or else go out and participate. Mom just really enjoyed sitting there, and I enjoyed watching how the thing worked and keeping track of Rik’s times.

Yeah. I got involved in Scouts because of you. They fill out those papers, and I’d very carefully fill them out so that I didn’t raise any flags to where they’d want me to do something, and then when you guys went into Webelos, I said, “OK, I can do it for a year,” and the next thing I knew, I was a Scoutmaster. I seemed to get all the misfits. We had some strange kids in our troop. 

One of my favorite memories is that Ford Escort you had, when I taught you how to put new brakes on it. We went through one wheel together, and then I showed you how to do it, and then I said, “OK, you’re on your own now.” And then watched you do it on your own. It was big. 

Ruth was a very outgoing person. Early on, her dad was a senior forest ranger, and it entailed being lots of parties and groups and cocktail parties. And it’s pretty much the same with Mom now, Robbie. I’m just also-ran. I just tag along. We go into groups, and she’s willing to talk to anybody, and I have a hard, hard time. Especially with people I don’t know. I can open up like to you. I can have a conversation with you, or I can have a conversation with Rik. You get into a group of people like Rik’s New Years or Christmas when he has people over, I have a hard time talking to those people. Some of them I can talk to because I know them, but I can’t talk very long. I don’t know what to say. My brain just does not work that way. I’m very very shy. I had a hard time in my jobs too. I just never really fit into those kind of groups.

But the thing of it is, my brother Harold went through the same experience, and he didn’t have any trouble. My cousin Jimmy and my cousin Elaine. Man, Elaine was really into it. I mean, she could talk sign language with the fastest of them. And I couldn’t. I could tell that people automatically slowed down when they talked to me, and I would say, “What?” a lot, and they would spell it out, and then I would understand what the sign was. But deaf people don’t like to spell things out. And so, it was easy for me to check out because if you’re not looking at somebody and reading their signs, you’re not conversing with them. So you’re looking over here. They’re signing, and you’re not paying attention. And it’s a cop out, and I realize it now, 70 years later.

If I had nothing in common with, I’m at a loss. Walk up, you know, Robbie can talk to store clerks and have conversations, and I don’t know what the hell to say other than, “Have a good day.” I don’t know how to deal with those kinds of situations.

My mom was good at it. And my dad too, just talking to people. My dad carried a little pad of paper and a pencil in his shirt pocket, and he had no qualms at whipping that sucker out and writing, talking to people. And my mom would talk to them and try to read their lips. Biggest problem she had was that once people learned that she was reading their lips, they would exaggerate everything, and she couldn’t understand it.

Best thing I ever did was get hooked up with your mom. She’s given me so much love and stability. We still have our rough edges. Mostly it’s me not talking to her enough. That’s because she’s lost all her friends in Dallas. It’s become more important to her to be more interactive with me. I have to cope with it. One of the things is, this iPhone here, I couldn’t live without it. See that? 10:30? This one here. 10:30. It’s my alarm clock. It means “Get up and talk.” When I get up out of bed, it’s time to get up out of bed, because I slept in as long as she will tolerate, and I have to talk. Sometimes I just go on down the hall, saying, “I’m walking, and I’m talking. I’m walking, and I’m talking.” And then we’ll get in a conversation, but sometimes it doesn’t work out. This one here says, “Get up for PT” which is physical therapy, “and talk, and have a happy face.” Because she’s convinced that those girls will work harder with me if I have a happy face with them. The therapists. So that’s how I’m learning to cope with that stuff.

Big thing that we have is that she’s the balloon, and I hold onto her string. I keep her grounded. But every now and then, I have to kind of float with her. To keep me in the world. Not let me crawl in a hole. To give me love.  And it works. It works for us.

In Richardson after the stroke, I was pretty much isolated, just me and Robbie and my therapists, and the therapy ran out. Robbie over the years before that had been talking about someday we need to move to Austin to be with our kids and grandkids, you know. And then when I was in in-house rehab, I just realized that maybe that’s what we ought to do. And then it was a whirlwind.

I had nothing more there. She had all her friends and her contacts and her woo woo stuff was all up in that whole area up there. When we came down here, she had a, she’s still having a rough time, but she had a really rough time in the beginning, mostly with the driving thing. Over the years, I’ve had to map things out for her. And I still do that. I map out where she wants to go. I’m really proud of her, because she’s got to where she’s really moving around a lot.

Big events in my week are physical therapy, and now that’s about to stop and I have to do it on my own. I have to force myself to do it. It’s too easy to blow off. Mom will say, “Let’s go to lunch,” and I blow the rest of the afternoon off, which means I don’t do the exercises I should. I’ve got to do it, got to get myself on a regimen. You know the old saying, “Use it or lose it?” With me it’s really true. If I don’t do it, I’ll lose it. My walking is worse than it was 6 months ago. Although I try. I just don’t seem to be able to get the rhythm good enough, fast enough. And Robbie’s really patient with me. She just walks along at a slow crawl, either behind me or by my side.

She does a lot for me. She’s walking a narrow line about doing stuff for me and not doing stuff for me. She has to decide what I really need her to do and what I can do on my own. I try to do my own laundry, but she’s pretty much grabbed a hold of that. When she hears me kicking the bucket down the hall, she runs out and grabs it and does it, but she leaves the shirts and pants for me to hang up, which I can do. I can fold the other stuff, too, but she has a need to do something. So it’s a fine line on what she wants to do and what she wants me to do.

I’ve had a couple of times since I stroked. I thought my family would be better off without me, but then I realized that’s not true. Robbie would not be better off without me, even though she has to do so much of the physical part of it. I still keep track of the finances and when things need to be paid, the mortgage and utilities, and I give her moral support. I keep reminding her that she needs friends, and she needs to make them. She’s found a couple of lady friends that she really likes that she has coffee with on Wednesdays but I really wish she could find a clan. I just have to keep reminding her that she needs to look and not give up on it. So I can’t give up. I still got to hold that string.

The biggest thing is that she got all her talking and communication with all those people she had up north, and now she depends on me to do it, and it’s difficult for me. I try hard to do it, but it doesn’t satisfy her needs. People project onto me that I’m stuck up and antisocial. It’s not true. I just don’t know how to be social. It sounds like a cop out, you don’t know how. Of course you should know how. I read all kinds of books on how to do it. I can’t do it.

I don’t know if I can pinpoint things. It’s just a path. Some of it’s rocky and some of it’s grassy and easy going, and some of it’s a struggle to climb up, but I’m just on this path. Hadens are resilient. I don’t know whether it’s in genes or whatever the hell it is. It’s there. My next goal is make it to 85. Try to talk to my wife whenever I can. Enjoy my kids and grandchildren. I’m satisfied with my life.

 I don’t know how you’ll make sense out of any of that.