Happy 80th Birthday, Mom!

July 3, 2014 – Today I am grateful for the 15 years, 10 months, 19 days that I had to live on this Earth with the most important woman in my life. Therese Mary Paderta touched me in ways that no one else since has ever been able to. I pass on Her legacy each day that I live. I am the person I am because of Her. Mom’s mild temper, sweet spirit, and loving heart have influenced me in becoming the person that I am today and the person I am still becoming.

All too often people remind me of how wonderful She was. I am even told how She influenced them. I had the pleasure of knowing Her better than most people. I got to be influenced and taught in Her ways. She was not perfect, but She inspires me to someday be a parent just like Her.

Happy 80th birthday, Mom!!! I will honor You today by spreading Your love to all those that I touch. Thank You for everything You had done for me while on this Earth. More importantly, thank You for teaching me how to still see all the blessings You have given me in the past 21 years since our loving Heavenly Father called You home to share Your love with those on the other side of the Veil.

I love You, Mom.


Happy Fathers’ Day and finding a whole new person through a different perspective

Today I am grateful for having such an amazing Father!!! Of course I would have never felt this way when I was younger; it all depends on your perspective. If you’re not grateful for the things you have and you’re asking for more, what makes you think you’ll be grateful if you get the things you are asking for? He didn’t love me the way I wanted to be loved; I was too young and immature to understand Dad’s way of loving me.

062787-Dad-and-MeComiskey Park – June 27, 1987

No, he wasn’t the warmest guy. This photo was from just under 27 years ago today – June 27, 1987. We didn’t always do a lot of things together, but at least we hit up seven White Sox games; those were probably my best memories with him. He had a short temper. He yelled and screamed like a two-year-old to get what he wanted at times. He gave me a hard time about using the car, even if it was going to otherwise  sit in the garage each night. He was sometimes controlling about the phone. Enough of the negativity; I am just as imperfect as him.

Dad-and-Me-Brookfield-ZooBrookfield Zoo – Summer, 1999


When you see things through a different set of eyes, you see so much love. The guy taught me everything I will ever need to know about being an unwavering husband. The guy did EVERYTHING to give us what we needed. Since he wasn’t a Harvard (or even a high school) graduate, he had to work a crappy job. Even in his old age, he did laborious work outside in weather from blizzards to humid summer days in the sun. He did the best he could given his existing circumstances. He raised us the best he could with barely knowing his own Father before he also passed. Dad taught me to be strong and persistent; for that, I am forever grateful!


Therese Mary Paderta – Twenty-One Years

The following is a continuation of the collection of my thoughts about Mom, beginning with these past posts:

A new chapter of this journey occurred recently. On Sunday, October 6, 2013, I sat on my couch, watching the General Conference of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. President Monson began to speak about the recent passing of his wife of 64 years, Frances Monson. Almost instantly I began to cry. One of the gifts I have recently been given is a deep sense of empathy. Just like my heart went out to Dad when Mom passed, I had given my heart to President Monson.

I had not watched that video since that October morning until the very early morning hours of today, after I had arrived home from the GoDaddy.com Holiday Party. I was in in great shape. I had just had an incredible evening with wonderful co-workers, great entertainment, and a very young lady. Understanding the significance of today’s date and what this talk meant to me the first time I watched it, I knew I had to view it again. Twice again this afternoon I pondered the words of President Monson.

Earlier today while at Church I brought my burdens to the Lord. This will be the first time in years that I have spent December 15th alone. This recent change in my life has brought with it much pain and despair. I have fought the recent chain of events. I would not stand for the idea that I was again single. I would not accept that all my hard work of saving my relationship was in vain. Two weeks ago I finally felt a warm fire in my heart telling me it is okay; it is alright to be single at this time. This is a time to work on preparing myself for my future wife instead of looking for her.


This is exactly what I was given today in Church. I felt a wonderful inspiration to move on with my life. This brought back one of the greatest memories of the passing of Mom.

In 1992 I was a sophomore in high school. I was more the quiet type. I was not a go-getter. I was picked on by others. After losing Mom, I knew this was not the life I wanted to live. I had chosen to become more of an outgoing person. I was no longer afraid to go out and meet new people. If anything, it has become a huge blessing that this change in my life had occurred; just think about how many people I have been able to touch in the years since!


I am now at another one of those crossroads. I am always so good at saying the right words to others. It is time to accept my own wisdom and follow it for once. Living in the past takes up our time obsessing about the things we cannot change and filling our lives with shame. Worrying about the future is just trying to control something that is not yet within our grasp. The only thing we can do is control our controllables. The only thing we can control is the present, the now.

The present can heal the past. The present can bring about a brighter tomorrow. The present is our gift that with which we are blessed each morning as we wake up here in this lifetime.

From December, 1992 until May, 2012 I spent my life in regret. I wished I had spent more time with Mom. I wished I was nicer to her. I wished I had used kinder words with her. I wished I had spent more time with her. I wished I could have influenced her to live a healthier lifestyle. I wished she would have never passed away. I wished I could bring her back!

This morning, as I was preparing myself for Church, I felt the warm feeling of the Spirit come over me. It had told me that Mom would do anything to spend another day with me. What a sweet message of hope, happiness, and peace! This is proof of something I have been saying for some time now.

Although most people might not be able to understand this, I have been blessed with a wonderful gift in recent times. I had spent 15 years, 10 months, and 19 days on this Earth with Mom. Although for over 19 years I had felt so empty, a major change has come over me. I truly feel closer to Mom than I ever did when she was here in this life! I also know that this is not the end; in due time I will be able to be with her forever, even after this life of mine on earth is through.


I used to spend so much time finding the faults in the ways I didn’t love her well enough. I used to search out her imperfections. It was so easy to just blame her for my problems. She left this life. It was easier for her instead of dealing with the life she created for herself. It was my heart that was cold. I had learned to have a heart of war.

Now I love her for everything she did for me. Mom blessed me with so many incredible qualities. My loving, caring, compassionate personality has always been there; it’s just so much stronger now! She never got rid of things; she never threw anything out. That taught me to cherish every memory that life has to offer. Although she was imperfect, she had a beautiful heart. I have since dedicated the rest of my life to honoring this wonderful woman.

Letting go of these pains has freed me. It was not easy. I do not have a play-by-play instructional manual on how I did it or what you might have to do to find this same peace that I so treasure. What I can tell you is that loving her for who she was, despite and even because of her imperfections, is what has brought me true peace in my heart.

I smile as I complete these writings. I love you, Mom! I love you more than ever! I am grateful for the closeness that I feel to you this very day. Twenty-one years is a long time without you, but I will continue to walk in love, thanks to the love you continue to show me!


Love always and forever,


James Arthur Paderta – 2013

October 5, 2013

062787_Dad_and_MeJune 27, 1984 – Comiskey Park, Chicago, IL

It’s actually pretty cool that seven years ago Dad had passed away! Of course, your natural reaction is to think that there is something wrong with me for saying that. Here is your opportunity to learn how to listen to understand others instead of simply listening to respond or judge.

Here are my thoughts about Dad from last year. In the past I would share what was on my mind here more frequently. Recently I have not been writing much here in this blog. The intention is there. Desire / intention only takes you so far. I even have had a few things to write about, but nothing has been so pressing that I got off my lazy butt and actually did some work.

Tonight a miracle of sorts happened. While roaming through the grocery store tonight grabbing just a few things, I felt the prompting to write about Dad. Today would have been his 82nd birthday.

Happy birthday, Dad!!!

On July 25, 2013, the 7th anniversary of his passing, I somehow didn’t even think of him. I felt horrified because of this. How could I forget the man who brought me into this world? I get it; I was going through some pretty serious changes in my life right around then. It was when I was at a baseball game two days later that it really hit me. I promise you, Dad is not in the afterlife cursing me for forgetting him. If anything, I know he is so proud of me right now!

There is that famous phrase, “You don’t know what you got until it’s gone.” Honestly, there are usually negative connotations when that phrase is spoken. You usually think that while feeling regret for doing something bad or not doing something good when you had the chance. Since you know me and how I am, I have to twist this into something positive.

I now know who I had in my life for 29 years. As I had discussed last year, I was not that close to Dad for most of my life. He wasn’t exactly the most open person, and I just did not know then what I know now regarding getting others to open up to me. I did not know how to appreciate everything in life. Even the things he did for me that reminded me last year with a feeling of gratitude, this year they take on a new meaning!

Being older and wiser allows me to understand things much more differently. Last year I may have valued his hard work and how it allowed me to always have a place to call home. Now it means so much more. How much differently would my life be had we lost our house on Cullom Avenue?


What would life had been like with such a drastic change? Would that had made me stronger? Suppose it ended up being what broke me. Maybe I would not have been the strong person I am today. Ultimately, Dad worked very hard to get me to where I am today, and everything worked out in the end.

I truly believe that everything happens for a reason. Heavenly Father knows it all. He has a plan for every single moment in our lives. He led me to struggle with my relationship with Dad. He taught me that not every relationship in life will go well. He then helped me realize that Dad might not be around for much longer. I am extremely grateful for spending a lot of time with Dad while he was in the hospital a year before he passed.

Sometimes words do not need to be said. Dad’s ability to speak clearly was really diminishing. However, all it took was him to look into my eyes. There was a message. This message was very clear. He loved me. He appreciated me being there. He appreciated that I loved him back. I understood what it all meant then, but it was truly the gift of time that was the greatest gift of them all; that helped me understand things even better.

As time passed, I have learned that things tend to take on different meanings. In many situations, my understanding of things just keeps intensifying. With greater understanding comes greater appreciation. With greater appreciation comes a greater sense of feeling loved. With that greater sense of feeling loved comes a greater reciprocated love for Dad.

It is so weird how for most of the time he was alive, I did not appreciate much that Dad did for me. I focused so much on what I wanted from him. I just wasn’t mature enough to just love him unconditionally for who he was and what special gifts he had to offer. Even though he has been gone for seven years, the wonderful things he did for me mean so much more now that I have had time to process these thoughts.

In the end, it truly is a blessing that Heavenly Father called James back to be with Him! I barely appreciated him while he was here. With seven years to process these thoughts and what he meant to me, I now feel closer to him than ever before! Opening my heart to the Lord, letting go of my personal desires, and allowing Him to guide me on His chosen path has brought me to where I am today.

More importantly, Dad is not gone. Just look around. He is everywhere! One of the best signs that he still lives on is right here through my nephew and nieces:

IMG_2782Christina, AJ, me, and Samantha – August 21, 2013

Dad, happy birthday! I love you today more than ever!



Mom and Woodfield Mall

Three days ago a thought came across my head. You oftentimes hear how people say to those who have lost family members that those family members are watching down on them. This is usually said when people are going through rough times. After a month or so of my performance at work being less than usual, this current pay period has been one of my best! When things are going right in life, we tend to be filled with a certain spirit. This vigorous feeling fills you with an immeasurable amount of happiness. When you are in this state of mind, it seems almost impossible for things to go wrong in life. For more information on this, look up the law of attraction.

That day while at work I was just rocking it out. Because I had been using my time wisely, I had a little extra time to spend on my last break. Just like I used to do while working at Home Depot, I went out to my car to jam out some tunes. Music is my life; it is the gateway to my soul. My already great day felt even better! Then I walked back to my desk. Just before walking through the building entrance, the thought hit me.

Could you imagine Mom and Dad seeing me where I am and what I am doing?

To help you understand the gravity of this unbelievably deep thought, let’s think back to where I came from. I do know that in 1971 they went to the Caribbean on a cruise for their honeymoon. That must have been a one-off. Other than our trips to Missouri / Arkansas, I have no recollection of Mom and Dad really going anywhere outside the metropolitan Chicago area. In fact, except for visiting family members, they rarely ventured far outside the city limits.

We as people have the ability to idolize things that either we do not have or that may be out of our reach. It can be easy to put these things up on a pedestal. Mom always talked about wanting to go to Woodfield Mall. Even though she talked about it often enough, for some reason she never went there. Using good ol’ Google Maps I was able to see that Woodfield Mall was exactly 20 miles away from our old house. More than 75% of that drive was a straight shot on the Kennedy Expressway. If she talked about going so often, what held her back from going? After looking it up on Wikipedia, I learned that it opened during her first year of marriage. That just added to the mystery.

Not long after Mom’s passing Laura started taking me to Woodfield Mall. It seems like such a small feat, driving 20 miles. Yesterday I traveled 28.5 miles to the Hieroglyphic Canyon Trailhead in Gold Canyon, AZ. It was not like I had to have this massive plan to make it happen. I had been there many times before, and it’s a no-brainer to want to return sometime soon. Ideally, you don’t want to go on the weekend when the weather is beautiful; too many people can ruin your little escape into the wilderness.

It’s almost like I don’t put that trail on much of a pedestal at all. Most of the reason is its relatively short distance from home compared to some of the places I go to here in Arizona. Let’s just break this one down. It is a short drive to the edge of the Valley of the Sun. Although there is not much elevation gain, there is enough to get a pretty view of the East Valley and the mountains surrounding the Valley. When you get to the edge of the main part of the trail, you pass through rich, Sonoran Desert landscape, to a slightly wooded area, and end in a paradise on Earth.

This paradise begins when you hear the waterfalls. Keep in mind water does not flow during the driest months. Then you can see a huge wall of petroglyphs. If you ever wanted to know more about why petroglyphs, read up about desert varnish. While sitting in the bottom of the canyon, listening to the flowing water, and being treated to sights of the East Valley not too far away, you cannot help but be full of peace and serenity. If you cannot take this this hike yourself, here are some pictures from my first time there.

This is just one of the magnificent places that I have available just in my own proverbial backyard! Within a few hours of home lie an immeasurable collection of treasures. I could not imagine my life anywhere else. Back while living in Chicago I would have never been able to imagine even the casual trips I now make.

Would if Mom and Dad were to come back to life? Could you imagine if they were to be able to be with me here in Arizona? Their minds would be blown!

All parents wish to enrich their children’s lives with the blessings that they already have and the blessings that they could never have. Ultimately, your children’s lives should be better than yours. I fear that I might cut down their lives, but at the same time what I have to say fulfills their dreams. Even at the age of 36 it seems as if my life has far eclipsed many of the accomplishments of my parents.

I get to live exactly where I want to be. Available technology and my earnings from work allow me to make the 1,700 mile trip back home from time-to-time. I get to go on these adventures pretty much whenever I feel like it. The blessings from my job are mind-boggling. The monetary and intrinsic rewards are so great that it is hard to fully process at times; it seems as if it is just part of the fairy tale. I have met some truly incredible people here. Some of those people have introduced me to a relatively revolutionary way of thinking and being. For all of this I am grateful.

There is just no way Mom and Dad could have imagined all of this happening in my life. To think that I am just 36 and have so much more ahead of me,I cannot imagine what events / blessings are in store for me.

Even if you are going through rough times, please never discount your future. You never know what opportunities you have lying ahead of you. Call me a sucker for “crazy” self-help theories all you want. Since I have personally lived it and proved this concept true, I will just leave it up to you to create your own testimonial.

Mom and Dad, thank you for making those sacrifices to get me to where I am now. Thank you for doing all the hard work, not taking any of the glory for yourselves, and giving it all to me to enjoy!


Therese Mary Paderta – Twenty Years

December 15, 2012

Dear friends,

Today is an extremely important day in my life. One early morning, somewhere around 2:00 AM, I was awoken by my sister, Laura. For some reason, I was lying on the living room couch instead of in my bed. Mom was gone. On April 1, 1991, the day after Easter, Mom went to Rush-Presbyterian-St. Luke’s Medical Center to have a part of her lung removed. The suspected culprit was cancer. Fast forward to around Halloween of 1992. All of a sudden things got really rough for her.

I remember all us one way or another having to help her walk around her own house. This is not something that teenagers should normally be doing for their own mother. I remember going to swim team practice after school at on December 14, 1992. Not long after coming home, Mom had sat me down to tell me that the doctors had said to her she had about six months more to live. I could not believe this. How is a 15-year-old supposed to imagine life without his mother? I remember going into my bedroom crying. Not much about the rest of that night comes to mind.

Laura woke me up around 2:00 in the morning, which was just a few hours later. I was in such a state of shock. Things were going in slow motion. Not long after people came to take Mom away. Then so many people came over, despite the early time. Aunt Josie, Paula, and Donna had come over. Many of Laura’s friends had also stopped by to offer their selfless support. It was so awesome to not be alone in what has been one of the toughest moments of my life. I will never forget having Neil, Jim, or Mike around during those upcoming days when I needed them the most.

Since then I hid from the pain. Hiding was how I dealt with problems in my life. Luckily, losing her made me into such a strong person. At the same time, a very profound source of vulnerability crept into my life. It was hard for me to be close to people. When things got too good, I would push people away. I have damaged so many good relationships in my life. I felt I did not deserve them. After all, God took my Mom away from me when I felt I needed her most. I wanted nothing to do with God or any religion.

I even went so far as to damage my relationship with the most important person to me, Laura.

It was not until April, 2012 that Angel and I had a nice walk around the Mesa Arizona Temple. He had read a post from my blog about how I still hurting, even 19 years after Mom’s passing. About a month later, Thor had informed me about his father’s recent passing. I clearly remember telling him that even though he had so many other people in his life to which he could turn, I offered a lending ear, regardless of the hour, since I had already lost both of my parents. That day was the first day in a new way of being for me.

Until that time, when I went through struggles, I would blame Mom and Dad. Why did they leave me? Why did they give up on life? Why weren’t Laura and I important enough to put down those cigarettes? Where these demons in their lives more important than us? It is so easy to blame others, especially once they have passed from this life and are no longer able to defend themselves. It is just so much easier than accepting the blame and responsibility for the mistakes that I have made.

Now I am finally able to think of them with full love. I have forgiven them for everything. I have now freed myself from the self-inflicting pain. I have freed them from the ropes that I had used to bind them. When I am going through trials, I look to them for guidance and love. What a huge change from looking to them to simply blame them for the mistakes that I have made.

What a coincidence it is that this anniversary happens just a day after an awful shooting at an elementary school. So many people question God. He is supposed to be loving. How can he just take these children away from their families? How could he do this? Does he just not care?

Every thing in life happens for a reason. There is a blessing to happen from each bad thing that happens to each of us. It may take us time for us to accept these blessings. Sometimes we are just so full of hurt and anger that we do not want to or know how to let go of it; we don’t know any better. We are simply just too scared to know anything other that what we currently know. Once we can let go of the pain, we can see the abundant blessings all around us.

Look how many great people have come into my life that I would have otherwise never met. Would I have ever dared to leave my beloved hometown of Chicago? Think of all the great people I have met here in Arizona. Just living here brings me joy each day. I have learned that I was blessed with so many strengths at the age of 15 as a result of her passing that others normally do not receive until much later in life. I still do not have a college degree, yet I have a job that rewards me both financially and spiritually more than I would have been from the job that would have gone along with that respective potential degree.

We come to this life to struggle and experience pain. There is no escaping this fact. You can deny it all you want. The moment you accept this fact is the moment you accept peace and happiness. We all go through struggles each day, being tested as to how we will react. Will we try to resolve this matter with a heart of peace or with a heart at war? A heart at war will just stew in a world of self-pity and blaming of others, just making the situation progressively worse. A heart of peace will constantly go through the cycle of getting out of the box, thinking what he / she can or could have done better, and just make the proper efforts of making this world a better place.

Think of all the heroes that have come out of these otherwise disastrous moments in our life! Look at all the police officers, firemen, doctors, and others that have come to the rescue in countless tragedies! Sing their praises instead of hating on the troubled people who have caused these messes. They were unsung heroes whose only chance to shine was when these tragedies struck.

Think of the moments when you hug your loved ones tighter. You fear that something like this would never happen to them. Use this moment to share your love. Other times we hold back our true emotions in fear of being vulnerable and eventually hurt. What do you ever have to gain when you don’t try? Nothing! Let’s take moments like this to not be afraid to risk anything and just do what our heart says to do. If not, we are constantly betraying our loved ones and ourselves.

You are reading this because our paths have crossed at one time. If our relationship has meant anything to you, then all I ask of you is this. Stop what you are doing to tell the people in your life that you love them. Only good will happen from this act. I the love is rejected, you can feel stronger, instead of weaker, knowing that you shared your love and you cannot expect others to be able to accept these gifts. You do not get a chance to go back in time and repeat anything.

I cannot go back and hug Mom or Dad again. I cannot look them in the eyes and tell them that I love them or that I appreciate all that they did. Even for the things that in the moment I resented them. It is hard to look back and still feel that resentment. Who really cares if Dad didn’t let me use the car that one Friday night? What good does is it to think of that frustrating moment 17 or so years later? Who cares if Mom let me stay up all night instead of making me do my homework in a timely manner? Instead of blaming her for letting me develop some bad habits, I can pass my love for her onto others by encouraging them to develop more productive habits.

Just like Mom and Dad were imperfect, we too have our flaws. It is up to us to make choices each day as to how we will handle ourselves when faced with tough situations. I am now choosing to take all that I learned from them and use that in my efforts of serving others. I really do strive each day to use this information. Mom taught me all about unconditional love. Dad taught me to be that strong, unwavering provider. They both taught me to push through, even when things seem hopeless. Even though I may have been too young or prideful to recognize it, they really did embody charity, which is true love. There were still imperfect aspects of their ways of expressing charity, but you will find their true intentions if you look deep down.

Thank you Mom and Dad for being in my life. Mom, I will never forget the lasting impression that you have left on me. It shows every day. People would want nothing to do with me if I was not a good person. I am sorry that I was resentful for so long that you had to leave me. I am sorry that I chose to feel pain and resentment instead of looking at the abundant blessings in my life as the result of your passing. Thank you to everyone else who has touched my life. I am sorry that the time I spent letting go of the pain of losing Mom was longer than the whole time she lived with me on this Earth. Thank you for being so patient, loving, and giving to me.

This, being the twentieth anniversary of Therese Mary Paderta’s passing, will be the first anniversary where I truly celebrate her life. Gone are the pains from the past. I have chosen to replace that pain with the love that I have been given. Once I had chosen to accept this love, my heart had become full of overwhelming gratitude.

I love you Mom, now more than ever. Thank you for giving me more than I could have ever imagined. Twenty years after your passing, I still keep receiving your love. For that, I am truly grateful and will forever honor your memory.

Love always and forever,

James Arthur Paderta

October 5, 2012

In 1931 Dad was born. It’s crazy to think it was 81 years ago today. Even though it has been six years since he passed away, it has been a very long time coming for me to not only forgive him for the pains he caused me (what parents haven’t?) and to give him credit for all the good he did for me.

When people wrong us, it is so hard to look past that and give them credit for the good they do. To protect our feelings and make us feel better, it is just easier to make the other person out to be the bad guy. Then it would just be so unfair to us to give that person the credit he / she deserves. A few months ago I had a change of heart. A certain great sensation came over me. It took the passing of a good friend’s father to help me feel love instead of pain.

I almost no longer feel the pain from Mom and Dad leaving me behind. Up until just recently, I would blame them up and down for every time something wrong happened to me. It is their fault that they smoked their whole lives. It is their fault they did not quit after having cancer and a having heart attack (respectively). It is their fault that they passed away. It is their fault that they are no longer with me. It is their fault that they are not there when I really need them.

Death is inevitable. If it did not happen in 1992 and 2006 for Mom and eventually Dad, it would have happened some time or another. Their time had come and gone. It is very possible that Wendy, Laura, and I had a grand plan to go through this suffering with the loss of Dad in 2006. The whole point might be to test us and see how we will take things. I cannot speak for my sisters. I know that it took me almost six years to have a change of heart with how I took things.

Now that I have stopped focusing on how losing Mom and Dad has negatively impacted my life, I can focus on how I was blessed for the years that I had them. I always gave Mom credit for all the good things she did for me; it was just so much easier. However, I almost never gave Dad much credit. Let’s start turning things around.

Dad worked a crappy job. He was a garbage man for the City of Chicago. Go ahead; make fun of him. What a bum. He quit school in the 10th grade. He was “smarter” than the teachers. However, the guy worked outside five days a week. In Chicago, that could be anything from hot, humid days, to getting soaked in the pouring rain, to freezing his butt off in a blizzard. He almost never skipped work. In fact, neither do I. He instilled a great work ethic in me without even saying a word. I really appreciate the hard work he did for our family!

Dad was not mister personality when it came to having warm, loving relationships. In fact, I have also picked up facets of this personality trait of his. It has negatively impacted many relationships where fights ensued when I did not know how to properly communicate my loving thoughts during tense moments. However, Dad was very direct and to the point when necessary. Although there needs to be a healthy balance of being direct when necessary while being warm and loving, Mom gave me the latter of the two.

For 13 years I went to private Catholic schooling. Instead of shipping Laura and me to public school, Mom and Dad ensured that we could get a quality education in a healthy environment. I’m sure things haven’t changed much since, but back then the public schools were not so good. The threat if I did not do well in school was that they would send me to the public school.

Think about all the money that went towards Laura’s and my schooling. That is money that could have gone towards house repairs, a new car, vacations, or other material goods for Mom and Dad. They never went on any vacations alone without Laura and me. Even though I am no longer a practicing Catholic, I am extremely grateful for the benefits of going to a parochial school. Now that I have started up again with my Christian beliefs, I can think back and count my blessings of being immersed in a Christian setting while attending school.

On Friday, December 12, 1992, I passed my Eagle Scout Board of Review. I had finally made it! Not long after, Tuesday, December 15, 1992 rolled around. That was possibly the most pivotal day in my life. Mom had passed away. Now that I am older, I can look back with positivity and see how it was a blessing that Mom hung on to see her only son attain the rank of Eagle Scout, even if it were for three days!

Let’s fast forward to Sunday, March 7, 1993. Above you can see Laura, Dad, and me during my Eagle Scout Court of Honor. I remember that day being so happy. Dad kept crying. I remember telling Laura so many times that I wished Dad would stop crying. Again, now that I am older and wiser, I can clearly understand that those were tears of joy for me. My Dad was proud of his son. I had accomplished something at the age of 15 that he probably could have never done when he was younger.

Even when I was younger I understood that not every lesson is a direct and clear one. Sometimes we learn what not to do. Sometimes people suffer so that we do not have to. Dad smoked cigarettes. I hated the smell, the cost, and the damage it did to all our lives. I know to never touch them. Dad worked crappy jobs. Even though I have had some jobs that I did not enjoy, I learned from him to not work yourself crazy for bread crumbs. I now work for one of the most important companies across the Internet doing a job that I love with the type of pay I would have not imagined!

When it came down to showing love, Dad was not so talented in doing so in a direct, easy to recognize way. He even did some things to hurt me. However, when it came down to it, Dad was very talented in loving me indirectly. I had many blessings when I was under his care. I just wished I was able to recognize this years ago.

I never was homeless or otherwise evicted. The heat was always on in the winter. We always had food. I always had the clothes I needed. I got to go on fun trips. I was given a good education. I had the toys I wanted. I got to be involved in the activities I chose. I got to use his car a lot. I got to go on many camping trips with the Boy Scouts; he even went with me on some!

The guy was not there in many ways that I would have liked. However, he was there where it counted in so many other ways. He was a provider. Although it’s not best to stop with just that. When you take down the resentment for not getting everything I wanted from him, I am able to look back and see the many things that I did get from him.

Mostly due to resentment from not always getting what I wanted from him, it was natural to dislike a lot of the things he liked. Dad was all into the big band music. Due to Mom’s Polish heritage, Dad loved Polish polka music! Even though he didn’t know a word of Polish, he still tried to sing along. His choice in TV shows and movies was usually the classics. I was young. I wanted to listen to pop / rock music and watch all the newer TV shows and movies.

It’s natural to come full circle and follow in the footsteps of your parents. I now love older stuff. I really have a huge nostalgic streak in me. I love older stuff, such as architecture, film, and music. I embrace it alongside all the contemporary works. You really have to give value to things from the past. You can learn from what worked and what did not. Plus, you can usually predict the future by looking at the past.

Yes, it sucks not having Dad here with me. I do know that I was loved by him. If there is an afterlife, I cannot wait to see him again! I know he will be so proud of all my accomplishments I have attained and those that are still yet to come!

Dad, happy birthday! I love you and miss you very much!


Metallica – The Outlaw Torn: A story of Therese Paderta

Metallica released this song on their Load album in 1996. Usually I almost always focus on the music in the songs and how the melody / rhythm of the vocals matches up. I may even know the words to the songs but not fully understand them if I really do not pay attention to them. Not long after the album came out, I had read the story behind the lyrics. James Hetfield said it is about “losing someone to death and longing to find a replacement that never comes.”

Therese Mary Paderta left this world very early in the morning on December 15, 1992. I remember laying on the couch, watching men carrying her body out. Not long after family members and friends were woken in the middle of the night by either by Laura or Dad. Soon after those people were there for us, keeping us company in that old house on Cullom Avenue. Later that day it rained. I remember going with Laura and Dad to the funeral home and cemetery to plan things out and to pick her grave. After the two-night wake, funeral, and proceeding luncheon, life went on as a motherless child; I was just 15 years old.

When you lose someone, you have many directions in which you can take your life. Within months of her passing I had discovered The Road Not Taken by Robert Frost. I had made many new choices in my life in the years thereafter; in the past I would usually follow the crowd instead of creating my own identity. I chose to be strong. One example of this strength is how people asked how I kept strong after her passing. I used to explain things in a more complicated way. Recently I came across a more concise version: “If we all threw our problems in a pile and saw everyone else’s, we’d grab ours back.” People out there have tougher lives than I have.

After awhile you can only be so strong. Life is about balances. You can only have so much of one thing until the yin yang balances it all out. No matter how how hard we try to push our lives in one direction, there is something always pulling us back to bring in some sort of balance. Butt-Head said something along the lines that if nothing sucked, then nothing would be cool. We do need to come crashing down from time to time to learn to appreciate the good in our life.

. . . losing someone to death and longing to find a replacement that never comes.

I feel like I have been waiting around, searching for that comfort that Mom gave me. Sometimes I look for it in others. Sometimes I really feel like I am waiting for her to come back, living in denial. Most of the time I life my life without dwelling on this too much. Other times I become obsessive on the subject.

Sometimes I feel like I am living my life in fear. If the person who meant the most to me left me, there is no guarantee that anyone else in my life will ever stay for me long-term. One of two things happens. Sometimes people run away when I need them most. If that does not happen, I manage to cause enough chaos in the relationship to drive them away from me, fulfilling my own prophecy.

Mom held me together. Mom held our family together. Mom held our family together to our extended family. It seems since she has been gone my whole life has come undone. I have been searching for either that person that will get me back together, or at least find the strength and wisdom from inside to do it myself. No matter how hard I work to improve my life, there is always something knocking me off my pedestal.

Of course, I cannot just hate the bad things in my life. Wikipedia defines yin yang as “complementary opposites, unseen (hidden, feminine) and seen (manifest, masculine), that interact within a greater whole, as part of a dynamic system.” Larry Winget says about change, “People never make changes when they are comfortable.” You have to have those crappy moments to realize you can make better choices when you are otherwise not doing so.

I had to fail out of school to realize that being a school teacher was not the best thing for me. The years thereafter sucked royally, but I would have never been blessed the way I am now if I kept on that same path. At this moment I will do everything I can to keep the job I have right now. The pay is great, each day comes packed with fun moments, and I have a very high sense of job satisfaction.

In my past there was a falling out with one friend in particular. Since then there is a better sense of respect and openness. Although things are not perfect, I have a greater sense appreciation for this person. Of course the falling out was not necessary for things to improve. However, changes were made due to that feeling of discomfort.

All too often it seems that I am going through these cycles of ups and downs. Why can’t I just learn the right way the first time around? It just makes more sense to stay close to a certain few people and maintain & enrich those relationships. Yes, it may close off opportunities of meeting and getting close to new, great people. However, having long-lasting relationships is more valuable to me than meeting and losing so many good people.

Why couldn’t Mom be there with me anymore? She would be 77 today; that’s not that old by today’s standards. 19 years, 3 months, 16 days is both a very long time and a short time; it has been that long since she left me. At the same time it it is hard to believe it has been so long. However, I barely have many memories of Mom.

One of my defense mechanisms is blocking my memories. Not only is it hard to remember memories of her during the 15 years, 10 months, 19 days that we both lived on this Earth, this mechanism is now being used in other relationships in my life. It is becoming harder and hard to remember things. I know I need to learn how to slow down my life; more will be posted about my recent progress later. What I have been doing is blocking out memories, both good and bad, of those between people with whom I have had hard times. The problem being is it is hard to remember things that those people say to me; many things they say to me are somewhere locked inside my mind.

Time was never on my side
So on I wait my whole lifetime

Every time I hear that line in The Outlaw Torn I beat myself up. I get so emotional every time I think about how I do almost everything last minute. Then I am running around trying to get that half-court shot in so I can I beat the buzzer. When the buzzer goes off before I can release the shot, it just brings up all the memories where procrastination has meant fewer chances for success in my past. It has even been causing me pain with things happening in my life right now.

Time is not on anyone’s side. However, you can be on time’s side. I need to force myself to create structure so I can accomplish all the important things and bring happiness to my life.

Best regards,