Is Anyone Else Scared Sh*tless?

I have done a horrible job of staying on top of my blog here and following the many blogs I enjoy following.  For those of you here now who haven’t forgotten about me, THANK YOU!  I appreciate so much your loyalty!  I will jump over to your blogs no matter how hectic my summer schedule becomes or has surprisingly become despite what I thought would be a relaxing, blog-writing and commenting summer break.  Grrrrrrr!


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As my family and I approach my Dad’s 24th anniversary of passing away to suicide, today I want to reflect back on one of his most memorable, most classically funny moments he and my grandfather made for me and my family.  This is one I have never forgotten.

63ChevyImpalaMy Grandpa Bonnet had a wonderful simple sense of humor.  It was that humor you find in small country Texas towns from farmers, ranchers, and cowboys.  As long as I had known my Grandpa Bonnet, nothing ever seemed to get under his skin or ruffle his feathers because he could always find some comical interpretation to life’s curve-balls.  Everyone in my family loved it, my Dad especially.  Granny Bonnet, not so much.  Even if Granny Bonnet was in a tirade, Grandpa would find the humor in something.  Many times it egged-on Granny making us begin to chuckle under our breath hoping she would not see or hear us.  It was hilarious, especially when Granny finally left the room!

One holiday weekend myself, my sister, Mom, Dad, Granny Bonnet, and Grandpa Bonnet all climbed into Grandpa’s 1963 yellow Chevy Impala.  I can’t remember now where we were going – it didn’t matter then – but it couldn’t have been too far because McDade was a tiny remote town in central Texas where they had lived for several years.  McDade was famous because of the twin-knob hills in the distance where a famous wild-west shoot-out took place, not too unlike what happens today in our great “free” Lone-Star-for-a-reason state (wink).

My sister, Mom, and Granny were sitting in the back seat.  Dad and I sat up front with Grandpa, who was driving.  I wasn’t real sure why all the women sat in the back that day, but now that I’m older, wiser, and an eighth-generation Texan, I now have a very good idea.  But on this day, and hindsight being 20/20, I would have been more than happy to be in the trunk!

Blind squirrel

Blind squirrel!

It was well after 12-noon, a pleasant summer evening, and we were on one of the many two-lane-only state highways in the middle of nowhere near McDade.  Grandpa loved to talk and tell his simple stories.  Granny also liked to talk, non-stop, but not in story-form.  Her chatter was everything that was wrong or could go wrong, remarkably and often circling back to Grandpa.  Granny Bonnet was the epitome of an incessant worry-wart.  As I reached my teen-years, I began to see clearly why Grandpa Bonnet had such a fantastic sense of humor and thick skin.

The first sign our “family drive” was to be exciting was when we approached something centered in the middle of the highway and unflinching.  My Grandfather and Dad noticed it.  It was a squirrel sitting up on its hind-legs seemingly as brave (or stupid) as squirrels-in-the-road can be.  In fact, I thought it was a fake stuffed-animal it was so perfectly still.  Grandpa began talking to the rodent like a Squirrel-whisperer, “Move little guy.  You better move!”  Nothing.  The idiot squirrel just sat there like a stone statue.  My sister in the back seat sat up, amazed that it wouldn’t run off.  She too begged it to run.  We were only seconds away now…Grandpa kept a steady 55 mph, not slowing down one bit.  We approached, Grandpa centered his yellow Impala straight at it, I thought so he could pin it to the radiator or hood!?  My eyes widened and the gasps began.  Still that damn stupid animal would not budge!  The women began screaming at Grandpa in horror “STOP!  STOP Grandpa!” as we drove over it, but Grandpa only chuckled more with each closing foot!  “Murderer!” I heard my sister yell.  I waited to hear the thumps underneath the floorboard trickling from front, right down our shoe-soles to the back.

Total silence.


Then EVERYONE, including Grandpa, jerked our heads and gaping mouths rearward to see the carnage…

And as if to say “I won!” that squirrel sat exactly where he stood, unmoved, unscathed!  It was the most astonishing death-wish-gone-wrong I’d ever seen.  It was impossible for anyone to express this miracle of life because Granny was screaming undecipherable words at Grandpa even my Mom had never heard!  I stared at Grandpa and he just chuckled at every sentence Granny tried to complete.  I looked over at my Dad and he was doing the same thing, but face forward to escape Granny’s verbal wrath.  Swept up by the moment, I let burst my laughter too.  Now Granny was getting furious with anyone in the front seat!

As we continued down the two-lane-only highway, without missing a beat or miles per hour, Grandpa just HAD to share his newly discovered squirrel-stew recipe.  Talk about the live definition of inciting, Grandpa had decades of experience and the war-medals to prove it (wink)!  It was all my Dad could do not to multiply the soft mumbled jokes coming from Grandpa.  In the front seat, one joke would lead to another simple story.  In the back seat, more high-pitched cackling with each non-response from Grandpa – he was in the middle of a story!  Grandpa would face my Dad and I while talking, making sure we could hear him.  The more Granny bitched at Grandpa, the more Grandpa would chuckle and grin at us to make louder his point.

mcdade_watertowerRight about that moment I noticed things hitting and pinging the underside of the car.  I sat way up to get a better view, “now what!?”  Ahead was a slow drifting right-curve, not sharp, but nonetheless going in a direction that was clearly not straight.  I looked up at Grandpa and he was waist-deep in his story, trying to keep at least an equal decibel level to Granny, Mom, and my sister in back, but looking uninterrupted at my Dad.  I snapped back to the highway in front, that was less in front.  I looked back at Grandpa trying to impolitely interrupt him politely!  I snapped my head to Dad; did he see my face at all!?

Um, is anyone else scared shitless as I am right now!?  Hello!

Our fast-moving Chevy Impala was now ever-so-slightly beginning to lean left as the highway ever-so-gradually moved to the right!  It had become so loud between Granny’s verbal tirade at Grandpa and Grandpa’s grand story about squirrel barbecuing, that no one could hear the gravel hitting the tires and floorboard!  I glanced back to Dad – perhaps to take one last look at him in life – and as Grandpa drew a breath and Granny was exhausted, just as calm and serious as an airline pilot preparing everyone for impact, my Dad said…

Mr. Bonnet,” and my Dad pointed forward, “Is that the McDade water-tower up ahead?

Grandpa looked, why yes it was…and in that instance the right-side tires fell off the shoulder and gravel began shooting out everywhere!  He jerked the steering wheel right and corrected our direction from bumpy doom into cedar-fence posts, to the intended path of proper motor vehicles with just a few clumps of grass packed in the front bumper; the cows would never miss!  Saved!

Grandpa began laughing uncontrollably!  Shocked, I couldn’t decide if he was laughing so hard at my Dad’s question, or if he was laughing more at Granny’s renewed vocabulary at him.  We must have heard thirty different versions of “You’re suppose to look at the road when you drive Felix, not get us splattered with the cows!”  Needless to say, there was no silence all the way home.  And I’ve never seen my Grandpa grin at me so much for so long a drive.  Normal?  I imagine so after some of the words and phrases I learned from Granny.  Insane?  Hell yeah!  Between stoned-up squirrel, squirrel barbecuing, shifty highways, a furious non-stop cackling old Granny, and two adult men laughing in the face of vehicular off-roading disaster and the back-seat narrative that went with it?  Yeah, totally insane, but totally rad!

Miss those new moments Dad, but I keep ones like this forever.  Thank you.

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Live Well — Love Much — Laugh Often — Learn Always

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You’re Right

The state of meditation is a powerful vessel.  A connected state-of-mind and body to dimensional existence is about as meaningful a life as a person can reach; an altered or altering consciousness.  But a person cannot reach that point solo.  We also need the right surroundings.
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image Vladstudio

image Vladstudio

Growing up I loved playing my drum-set.  In our downstairs playroom I had my 15-piece drum kit setup along with our band’s Peavey amps.  Plugged-in to those Peavey amps was my stereo.  Through my stereo I played the songs from epic rock-metal bands with more epic – so I thought – drummers.  And within moments of beating the skins, high-hat, bass drum, and cymbals…I was there.  Much of the sessions I would reach a heart-rate and drive that I could barely hold my sticks from the perspiration.  I eventually had to place a fan on top of my bass drum to help cool my frenzied journey.  I would reach such a vibrational rhythmic state of meditation that I can only describe as fluid between here and there.  My sense of place and time, aside from the rhythm and beat, was lost; oblivious to anything in the house or outside it.  It was there that my expression, my place in the moment and in the world, was most creative and most lucid.  It was – and to this day as well – my way of belonging.

The years from 1990 to 1995 were the most devastating and most life-changing years of my life.  Here’s a summary:  My father committed suicide, my girlfriend-turned-fiancé abandoned me and our 2-year relationship without a single verbalized explanation, I was arrested by law-enforcement, I walked out of my wonderful psych-hospital job-career and out of my half-completed master’s program at my seminary, my daughter was born, a 5-month marriage ended, and I moved back to my hometown.  Often during those years I sought the solace in the one place I knew I could find it.  One song I’d play over and over and over, and behind my drums I’d play along…let go of my nagging thoughts and find my place of belonging.  It was the only song, music, and lyrics that would make sense to me where I could find my father and my daughter, both of whom were no longer with me.


I have since learned that finding the place of belonging is sometimes very difficult, even tragic.  But having survived it all, I have discovered just how powerful the state-of-belonging and connecting can impact not just a life, my life, but life around us.  This is how I’ve equated it in my mind.  As the lyrics of the song go…

If you open your mind [and soul]…You won’t rely on open eyes to see

My painful and beautiful journey would not have been possible if I had not had three critical travel-items:  my parents and extended family, a creative growth-model of education taught by my father supported by my mother, and then finally love.  These three integral parts must continue with us into adulthood.  They must evolve and grow in order to best manage in life the inevitable change and unexpected plot-twists!

If you have those three flexing growing components in your life – each illustrated mathematically by dividing 100 into 3 parts – the number cannot be emptied but goes on and on ad infinitum.  For me, Fibonacci’s Sequence, or Golden Ratiowould be the counter-part, if you comprehend my wackiness.

The three parts each need more than just the mind or cerebral cortex.  They need feelings.  They need the freedom of fluid creative passion!  Nature and the Universe (Multiverse) already create then modify, refine, then create more and so on like the Golden Ratio.  Human DNA, generation to generation, does the same thing.  As highly intelligent feeling beings, we have the passions to ignite life.  If fortunate enough to have loving, nurturing yet non-oppressive parents and family, then we are given the early tools to ignite a significant belonging life…not just for ourselves, but equipped to provide a general blueprint for others too!

If this parental-family environment is taught throughout the primary and secondary schooling – in other words explained via the table below – empowering the child and adolescent, then the state of belonging can be perpetuated outside of self.

Learning Method table

Assuming you are allowed how to think rather than told what to think, then a once very successful American icon spoke these words of enormous spiritual-cerebral wisdom to take on your journey:

“Whether you think you can or you think you cannot – you’re right.” – Henry Ford

If a young mind and heart are constantly denied the means to freely express, create, and recreate, learn and relearn for an eventual greater good, passing on a new fluid blueprint, then it would seem ironically, one becomes entrapped in the past.  That is most unnatural.  Ford recognized the power of self-actualization learned through and from our environment.  In other words, there is a connection between us and everything around us.  But there is more Henry – another force that is just as fluid.

Ford’s imparted partial-truth cannot be fully owned without the sticky fuel of feelings and love-ingredients to energize it.  There are some things that can’t be taught.  They must be realized.  Though it had a compass rose, I was given my blank map.  The natural aether in the lucid state of vibrant rhythmic meditation is an individual journey…for me discovered during my youth, rediscovered in my darkest hours, and now openly shared in wisdom and passion.  It is my primal home away from “home,” where I truly belong.

I swim in it regularly.

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Live Well  *  Love Much  *  Laugh Often  *  Learn Always

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The Disease

detoursFor the last four weeks I’ve been quite busy.  During this time I have set to one side the task of blogging; it had to take a lower priority.  And as is typical in life there are sometimes distractions or obstacles that get in the way of things we want to do, like blogging.  I have had such a week; more like several weeks.  Each time I wanted to continue and finish the humorous post I had started and planned for publishing days ago, life would throw a curve ball.  Seven out of ten times I am able to easily manage the distractions or setbacks.  But as many of you may know, life doesn’t always cooperate with our wishes and plans.

There are two significant factors that every single person alive must address and manage at some point in their life:  family and aging elders, or death.  The timing of both these factors is almost never convenient nor are they always pleasant when it is a family member.  Family has the distinct uncomfortable privilege of reaching too often the deepest parts of our heart and soul.  For the last 31-years I have had the “privilege” of witnessing my sister’s chemical-addictions, soon exacerbated with psychological issues, burden my mother and her usually huge warm energetic heart with every passing year – with every single perpetual relapse by my sister every month to three months – take off two, five years of my mom’s health and vitality each time.  We have been a three-member family since my father’s suicide in 1990, and guess who is always counted on (by default) for strength, understanding, and eventually some comic relief?

I have to admit…it gets really fucking exhausting.

diseaseFor the last thirty-plus years I have done a LOT of screaming; screaming at the sky, screaming at the walls, screaming at my dead father wherever he is, and screaming at my three different therapists who’ve had the “privilege” of helping me through the bad times.

But those screaming sessions cannot compare to the decibel levels I’ve screamed (mostly in my head) over and over when I listen to alcohol-drug support groups and leaders talk about “The Disease.”

I have no hesitation in confessing that I am apparently on the outside looking in.  There are support groups for family members of chemical-addicts that not only offer emotional support, but also educate family members of addicts (often the issues of enabling and co-dependency) how to manage themselves around an addict’s pathology.  What is taught and what is often embraced by these groups, sometimes makes me want to scream with my already strained exhausted vocal cords!

Is it right…is it best to give, to surrender so much power and control to the disease?

If I examine my sister’s 31-plus years of addiction and never-ending relapses, I would wonder.  Fuck, who am I kidding?  I do wonder…but from a very frustrating “disadvantaged” viewpoint.  So I continue to scream, apparently until I have no vocal cords left to scream because apparently this fucking “disease” will never go away.  Apparently it can never be cured, only managed until the day she dies.

Is that the way it will always be for the brothers and mothers of addicts?  I have to accept it?  I really have a serious fucking problem with that white flag!  I have always had that problem, which for the last 15-20 years has sometimes caused my already aging, tired compassionate mother perhaps more stress than comfort and hope!  And that makes me want to scream more!

When is passiveness or surrender unhealthy?

After three months in counseling soon after my father’s suicide, my therapist, with tears rolling down her cheeks said “You are one of the most remarkable Survivors I have ever counseled.”  The four major life events I was forced to deal with in 1990 was blowing her away, let alone her clinical concern for my mental-emotional health.  She confessed to me years later that she had considered diagnosing me with major depression with suicidal precautions.  Apparently statistics show that immediate family members of suicide victims have an increased likelihood of suicide themselves.  I understood all too well that concept play out on 9/11 when watching people jump from the top-floor windows of the World Trade Center towers to their death — sometimes it just seems to be too unbearable.  I have felt their pain, but then I scream back at life with my best warrior face.

Laurel Land Cemetery where my Dad is buried & Mom has her plot. She & I have discussed too where to put my 49-yr old sister.

Laurel Land Cemetery where my Dad is buried & Mom has her plot. She & I have also discussed where to put my 49-yr old sister.

It seems with each passing month and each passing year a survivor-of-suicide has an exponentially greater chance of becoming a uniquely advantaged super-human, or so the clinical data shows.  So what does it mean when one is also forced to support an aging 73-year old elderly mother – cut short of ten happier years by a pathological relapsing addict-daughter – who physically and emotionally has either reached or is damn close to her life-limit?  How much are we supposed to endure?  How much are we obligated to endure my sister’s 31-years of repeated insatiable relapses which are always around the corner ready to devour?  How many more damaged exhausted victims have to fall in her wake?

I am one extremely pissed-off brother (again) as I watch my sister – who consciously chose to consume those chemicals as a teenager – inflict again on my undeserving mother, inflict again on her undeserving AA and NA support friends, and inflict again on society as a whole, who with their tax dollars or donations throw away give and give, and give to a disease that can only be partly managed with unpredictable results…always.

This is the way it has to be?

Signed angry, exhausted “Survivor” brother and son who doesn’t feel very super-human!

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