Friday, June 08, 2007

No regrets

I have been thinking about the decisions that were made by me over the years. Some I made, some were made for me, and others occurred because of my actions. After a lot of reflection there is only one thing I would change (if the Gods would let me). That will be saved for later.

The first decision made by my father for me was that I would attend Catholic grade school. I believe that the biggest misnomer in the world is "Sisters of Mercy". The second major decision he made was I would be an altar boy. So he was 50 - 50 on those two. If you have read earlier writings, you know I enjoyed the altar boy years. The next major decision was high school and the first time I ever said no to my father. He wanted Lasalle a Catholic High School. I was sick of Irish nuns smacking me and damn sure did not want Irish Brothers doing it. I had / have a flippant mouth.

I liked high school, it was mostly Jewish and Italian kids and we were all nerds. 99.99 % of the graduates went to college. My class produced over 40 doctors and almost as many lawyers. I was good in Math and my father had three engineering degrees. It was decreed! I would be an Engineer. It was not me who filled out the application, I just signed where he told me too. I wanted to take a year off before college. He could not understand my not wanting to be an Engineer. He bought me the best slide rule money could buy. It cost over $300. in 1959. It had a genuine leather case. I took the courses he picked out. I was also told that I would go ROTC, that way he would not have to pay for the last two years. That first semester taught me two things, I did not like the Army and I hated Engineering. Back then URI had Saturday classes. I had an 8 AM Phys ed class which explains why I flunked it. I was usually too hung over or still drunk so I never went on Saturday. Finally I just never went the other days. I did manage to do C or better in the rest. There was no way I would return to Engineering for the second semester. I wanted to change to Business. No way will I pay for that, he stated. Christmas 1959 was a difficult time in the household. This was the second major time that I refused his direction.
Three days before the second semester started, I joined the Navy. I was guaranteed a school and I picked three from Naval Aviation. Sounded glamorous to me, more importantly, I was free. Dad told me that I just ruined my life.

I ended up in a sea going squadron attached to USS Saratoga a then four year old aircraft carrier. I was lucky, I flew aboard to join my squadron. I stayed in the same unit for the rest of my enlistment. I grew up on that flight deck. I made the closest and dearest friends of my life and I am still in contact with some of them. It was the most exciting and dangerous place I've ever been. I worked 5 PM to 5 AM. I loved it. My wife refers to those years as the best four years of my life. I visited the major ports in the Med, climbed the Leaning Tower of Pisa when I was 19, saw some of the best art museums in Europe. I was on the Cuban Blockade., I was sent temporary duty in the hills of Greece with the Greek Air Force. Cannes in the summertime...priceless. Two Christmas Eve's in Cannes also very nice. I made rank quickly, E5 in less than 30 months. I started thinking about a career in the Navy. I was never home sick. There was nothing I wanted in Rhode Island.

Then I tangled with the Jacksonville Police. What should have been a harmless traffic stop, turned ugly, when one cop said to the other dummy, well we got a swabie, and look he's a Yankee to boot. I was not drunk, but had been drinking. I got shoved against my car, and I shoved back. I think I mentioned the two of them together did not have an IQ that matched my weight. (130 back then). Of course I went to jail for the weekend. It was a maturing experience, I was pushed around by the dummies in the station. I pleaded no contest to a DUI and the shoving and whatever else on both sides was dropped. Mom and Dad sent the money and I was released sadder but probably no wiser. The Navy took a stripe and all thoughts of a career ended. From that point on, I was doing time waiting for the discharge. Hence when discharged, I came back to Rhode Island and met my wife a few months later. If I had stayed in college and ROTC, I would have graduated with a commission in the US Army and would very probably have served in Nam. Funny how some things work out.

I started college at nights, planning on switching to days in a year. Marriage and children changed the plan. Seven years later, I received my degree in Business. I asked my Dad to come to graduation. He asked if I was getting a degree in Engineering. I said you know I'm not, then he told me he was busy that day. Four years later I received my MBA. I had made the decision that my children would see their grandparents often. I did not want to have regrets when they passed on. I also wanted my kids to know their Grandparents. This is a decision I do not regret. My dad never made it easy, I was not qualified to even put a quart of oil in his car when he no longer could. I just smiled at him. He once told me how surprised he was that I could support my family as well as I could, not being an Engineer. I just smiled at him.

My children - I wanted four daughters before I got married. Once my wife was pregnant, it changed to just healthy baby. First a daughter, then 3 1/2 years later a boy. That second pregnancy took a lot out of my wife. The doctor commented that we had one of each, and maybe we should be satisfied. Nope, my wife said she would not be fulfilled until she had a third. I had no say, hell if she wanted 5 or 6, I would have said yes. I'm not good at saying no to her. I came home from work about 2 1/2 years later and she announced that she was expecting and wanted an air conditioned station wagon. that night we ordered the biggest Ford Country Squire made. My third and second daughter arrived. Then the doctor told me that one more and I might raise them alone. My wife was fulfilled, therefore I was also. I adore my wife and children. I love each and every grandchild and I am constantly amazed at how unique each one is, yet I am part of them.

If I could go back and change one thing, I would never have started smoking. Quitting was the hardest thing I ever did . . . several times until I got it done. I'm glad I got busted in the Navy, I might have never met the love of my life and created this great family.

Yes, I omitted some things ... good and bad. This is not a life story. I have no regrets.

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