Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Making Choices, Seeing New Paths, and Philosophy of Thomas Magnum, P.I.


            The Big Guy and rarely agreed on television viewing preferences but due to the unofficial Richardson Family Hierarchy, my voice normally didn’t matter. One show we did agree on was Magnum P.I. Looking back; I wouldn’t be surprised to find out the Big Guy set his work schedule around 8pm on Thursday nights on CBS. I couldn’t blame him. The show sucked me right in too. Private investigator solving crimes in Hawaii with shirts that obviously influence my wardrobe choices? I’m in.  
  Toward the end of the series, the writers came up with this cliffhanger where Magnum had been shot and spent the whole episode in a limbo style paradise with his old, long dead side-kick, Mack. As Magnum tries to figure out the limbo process, Mack plays the guide role. At one point Mack eats a jelly doughnut, seemingly out of nowhere. When Magnum asks about where the doughnut came from, Mack replies, “Time has little to do with infinity and Jelly doughnuts.” Shortly after, we watch Thomas Magnum stroll without a care in the world, through some bad 80s blue-screen as he walks off to heaven. Season cliffhanger! Will he return?
            Being a TV and movie junkie, there are many lines that take up room in my head that probably should have gone to something useful like algebra. I didn’t write much in those days but I guess my subconscious could recognize something good and store it away for later.  That line has resonated with me for some reason since I first heard it in the bottom of Sharp Hall in 1987.
            Other than it was just a clever line to move along a script, it never held any meaning until the other night. It was Tuesday morning around 3 am after I had pulled my needles from my nightly treatments. Usually I roll over to sleep like a baby but not that night. It was my first night back from my unexpected hospital trip. I was home next to Kim in our bed in our room. It smelled the same and felt the same. Kim had straightened up our room a bit but everything was safe and familiar.
            That was when I started crying. I have never broken down like that before. I was crying because I was happy to be here next to my wife who I love more than anything. Yet, a few minutes later I‘d start crying again because I was scared. I had just come the closest I ever have to dying and never get to be around my wife and children. I kept remembering what the doctor said right before he said they had to restart my heart with the paddles.
            He tried to smile to reassure me, “It’s going to hurt like hell but you have to have this if you want to see your family again.”
            I just nodded because I had already decided in the ambulance, no matter what, I was staying with Kim and the kids. The jolt felt like I was kicked by a few mules but it worked and my heart slowed down from the 278 beats per minute to a normal rhythm.
            For the next few hours that Tuesday morning, I would cry for a bit and then just sit there and think about everything that had just happened to me. No disrespect to the ladies but I honestly felt like I had the male version of a period for a short bit, I ran all the major emotions. I’d be thankful then get angry because I wish I’d gone to the doctor. I’d turn sad because I knew I scared Kim badly. The worst was remembering how scared I had been after the doctor shocked me and then I remembered.
            I was lying on the stretcher and I could finally breathe. Everything was settling down and I had been just starting to feel like I was in the clear. Everyone was back in the room including Kim. I couldn’t take my eyes off of her and she kept smiling at me.
            Around that time, I began to feel something but I couldn’t see it. I can’t explain why I know this but I just knew that if I looked at the door to my room where there was a large window to look in, I’d see my Dad.
I knew he’d be there in his blue short sleeve shirt with all the pens in the pocket, Mary and I saw him wear to work a zillion times. I knew I’d see his red hair which was getting peppered with gray. I knew Dad was there on the other side of that door and if I looked at him, he’d tell me it was time to go.
I wanted to see him so bad. I miss Dad so damn much it hurts. Over the past few years, I often wish I had just one more chance to talk to him and ask him questions about being a father and a good husband. I wanted to bury my face in his gigantic chest one last time and fell that bear hug no one can replicate and hear him tell me that it’s all ok. But I also knew that if I acknowledged him that was it. I talk fast but I could never talk my Dad out of something when he was on a mission.
So I didn’t look at the door and I just looked at Kim and focused on her.
And he left.
Fortunately, I had a therapy appointment yesterday and we talked at great lengths about this. My therapist, Kim (wild coincidence, huh?) said sometimes when we are that close, people tend to visualize the next step as a place or in my case as a person. I visualized heaven as my Dad. I have no idea how true this is but it makes sense to me and I feel satisfied with leaving it that way. I do want to see the Big Guy again badly and when we do, it’s going to be a lot of laughing and hugging. Just not anytime soon.
With the exception of my immediate family, I have three individuals that I value more dearly than myself. I plan on being around for a long, long time. There are too many stories left to write and to tell. There are too many hugs and kisses to be shared and too much laughter for me to miss out on with Kim, Roni, and Jude.
Season 8 was the final season on Magnum P.I. and it picked right up where the finale ended. Magnum was headed off to heaven when he realized he had unfinished business and came back. For the first half of the episode Thomas was a bit comatose and refused to acknowledge Rick, TC, or Higgins. At the 27 minute mark, , Magnum broke his silence and just said,” Time has little to do with infinity and jelly doughnuts.”  Cue car chase….
The past couple of weeks have gotten under my skin both personally and professionally. That’s on me for letting the idiots get under my skin. The past few weeks, my emotions have controlled me rather than the other way around. I think that jolt did more than restart my ticker; it shocked a little sense back into me. I am going to spend a little more time focusing on those around me and being the best Dad and husband I can be and a little less on letting those whose opinions don’t matter affect my family.
 I don’t think I want to leave teaching as planned but rather work towards being a better teacher and maybe even trying to find a way to become an advocate. The past few weeks have got me excited about my profession and the realization that maybe I can do something about the rut GA seems to be stuck in.
I didn’t find Jesus or Allah or give the Richardson Family Mint fortune to that tele-evangelist in Texas but I feel like I have figured out myself enough to know what I want to accomplish for the next few years. For the first time a very long time, my path feels very concrete and in front of me rather than the muddled mess I often find myself in. I am very excited about the future and what it will bring as I get to be around a bit longer to watch my kids grow up and my wife just keep getting more beautiful.
This is where I am going to be for a very long time....
As far as much how time I left before the Big Guy comes back for me, I have no idea nor am I going to dwell on this anymore. There’s a lot of living left to do and I plan to be around for a very long time for Roni and Jude, and Kim. Besides, if I’ve learned anything from Magnum, P.I.,  “Time has little to do with infinity and jelly doughnuts.”

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