Saturday, May 12, 2012

Of Survivors and Surviving My Way

Joe McCombs
Friend, Sage, & Mentor

And now the end is near
And so I face the final curtain,
I’ll state my case of which I’m certain.
I’ve lived a life that’s full, I traveled each and ev’ry highway,
And more, much more than this. I did it my way.
FRANK SINATRA, My Way (lyrics by Paul Anka)

Joe was a very close friend of mine. He taught me how anticipate my parents' needs in their old age. More than that Joe blessed my Sunday mornings by joining my wife and my father-in-law for breakfast at the local hangout, Dove Creek Cafe in Roanoke, TX. During each meal Joe would tell us: "Boy this is living; I wonder what the poor people are doing."

Little did I know then that Joe was teaching me valuable lessons about life, living and surviving. Joe had a purpose in life and he spread his joy and love with everyone he met. For Joe, the key to surviving was finding your purpose and having something to look forward to each day. Joe looked forward to sharing his time with us. We did too. He also cherished the fact that there were no other men at the senior center who could dance with all these ladies. They would line up to dance with this old crooner.

For months, I've been soul searching,debating, and anguishing over my plight and my future. My friends have witnessed my questions about success and surviving difficult times. Questions like how did you do it and how did you make it on your own? The answers were varied.

From the cancer survivors, I got answers that ranged from "I was not ready to give up or die" to "what choice did I have?" Others simply found that they had a real purpose to live unrelated to their occupation or financial status. The bests answers came from the mature experienced sojourners, you just live and let your heart guide you. Passion enables you to survive and weather storms. Pleasant memories and dreams maintain our spirit.

My passion and artistic outlet is photography both of people and inanimate objects. Through this medium I find that I can express the warmth that lies often times buried and bound by the mundane. This outlet enables me to find my voice and to touch others. Through it, I am able to survive and weather life's passing tempest. It allows me to transcend worries at hand. It soothes my soul to share with others the good and beautiful things that I also witness. Life is an experience you want to keep and its a pity we have to sleep.

My Dad, a survivor himself of many battles, reminds me "no one leaves this earth alive." The beauty of maturing is that we begin to comprehend the value of what truly is important. It's not the stuff that matters but the relationships and experiences we acquire on a daily basis through living. If you don't mind, I have something I wish to say to Joe.

Joe, you are not going to believe this, but I found the perfect job. It's a job that will enable me to continue to build my photography business because it's flexible. This is funny, Joe, but I will be driving seniors like yourself to airports, malls, and doctor's appointments!!! It will be like having you and Mom back again!!! I can't wait to hear their stories. Can you believe this Joe? You were part of my answer all along. Thank you for teaching me survive!!! I've come full circle. You remember I told you that to earn my way through college, I worked in the laundry room of a convalescent home. Now I get to give something back again. How lucky am I? Thanks Joe.

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