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Gray Watson Personal Thoughts 2000.04.19
Settle Down There Nelly

2336 @ Home

Well folks, as you can see, I've been pretty damn remiss in the Thoughts/Rants department over the last year. Many of you have complained although I suspect even more don't give a rat's ass. In any case, I certainly have been meaning to sit down and fill you all in but I guess its not been a top priority. Let's see, what's happened in the past year.

Operation Baby

Well, as you must know by now, Timmy Connolly Watson arrived in Pittsburgh last year on June 7th @ 1915 EST. So far he's been a pretty great little guy: he's slept through the night since 6 weeks (sic), he seems to listen to us when we yell no (so far), and he doesn't seem to mind when Daddy sticks him in the cage all afternoon. To tell the truth, I have abused my poor little boy a number of times. Let's see: I banged him into the ceiling one time while playing airplane, I sat on him while he was sleeping on the couch (that will teach him), I cut his arm while brushing my teeth (don't ask), and (drum roll please) I smacked his head into the door frame while carrying him around the house on my shoulders (scout's honor). In all of these cases he was fine in 3 minutes while I have never fully recovered. Can you believe that Ro still let's me touch him?

The current status of said tripod child is that he has entered the toddling stage. Yep, everyday he seems to lean farther and farther ahead and wobble faster and faster around the house. Sooner or later I expect to hear a little whoosh as he runs on by. It is pretty amazing to watch a human learn how to walk. I don't know whether to be awed by the whole process of balance, terrain tracking, and obstacle avoidance (all while chewing on a sippy cup), or depressed by the thought of how far artificial intelligence and robotics have to come to achieve why my little smelly boy has managed to accomplish in 10 months -- okay say 19. The human body is a truly amazing machine.

Pittsburgh >> Boston

The day after Timmy was born, I found out that my job at Lycos was relocated from Pittsburgh to Boston. What a wild week to say the least. Although it certainly added to an already overflowing emotional basket, Ro and I managed to take it in stride, delaying our decision until we had a chance to get out of the hospital, get our feet on the ground, and take stock of our lives. Once we had graphed out the costs versus the benefits (and I'm not talking just about $$$$) it became clear that we should give it a go.

Looking back on it, now that we have been up here in Lexington (near Boston) since October, it was a good decision for us. We are enjoying ourselves and the area immensely. The hardest part, which we realized coming in, has been finding a bunch of pals for Ro to hang out with. Although things are definitely getting better, we still have some more work in this department. However, the timing really was poor, not with Timmy who doesn't care as long as mom is nearby, but because of the following.

CGW--;

So the final big update in my life is that my father Dr. Charles Watson died in January at the age of 63. His obituary and the details from his and his father Dr. James Watson's memorial service are available online. From my perspective, as deaths go, my father's end went as well as it could have. He was in no pain, he was fully aware of the circumstances and fully able to direct his care and its final withdrawal, and we had time as a family to gather at his bedside and see him, talk with him, listen to him, and be with him during the entire process. This all said, I still wish that more communication has been possible and that the pain that is left be only that of loss instead of the traces of anger, confusion, and regret that are still visible.

I would not have thought that there would have been a more surreal event in my life than the birth of my son when I felt that I was riding some locomotive along a rickety track, around tight curves, along deep gorges, and across spavined bridges. Even with all of the surprises, general craziness, emotional cacophony, and excitement of Tim's arrival, my father's death takes the cake in the surreal department. I guess what made it all so strange was that we've all seen it played out in sitcoms, around the neighborhood, and up on the silver screen enough times that we, unconsciously, build up a set of expectations of how it is supposed to go. We've already cast the parts and painted the scenery when all of a sudden the real movie opens. Needless to say it never works that way and we end up looking over our shoulder for the executive producer, who will wave her magic wand and, after consulting with her clipboard, make the whole scene correct again.

By the way, in case you've noticed, I say that my father died. I don't say that I've lost my father because I'm not going to find him at the information desk in the mall. He hasn't passed since it wasn't 3rd down and long. He's not just gone because I didn't hear the PA system announce beforehand that he was going, going... No my dad is dead. I think the language that we use to describe death is important. We Americans do not talk about death enough and do not know how to handle it well when it occurs -- and it does occur since none of us are getting out of here alive. When grandma says over the pot roast that she'll be dead soon, the family is quick to drown her out with a chorus of "oh no, granny, don't say that". Exactly why not? She is 92 for goodness sake. Let the poor woman say her piece. We should listen to our elders, remember? We should allow her to say her piece and we should listen carefully so we can be better prepared for the inevitable.

It is important for us all to contemplate the death of our friends and family members, especially those getting on in age, specifically because we need to make sure that we have nothing left unsaid. I remember quite vividly, standing outside my Dad's hospital room waiting for my turn to go in, give him a hug and kiss, and tell him that I loved him and would miss him. Out in the hall, I specifically did a mental audit to make sure that I had nothing more to say to him. I had been thinking about it a lot those last couple of weeks, consciously aware that very few people have the gift of time that I had to be able to take stock of my relationship with my soon to be deceased father. So I counted the cans of beans and I looked for any missing cases of soda in my dark and dusty storeroom and made sure, when the lights were turned off, that all was relatively clean, in order, and accounted for. I talked to him about religion, about the possibility of an afterlife, and I asked him about his fears and regrets. I listening to him and watched him and even took detailed notes so my feeble memory banks would never forget those last days. All this said, I am sure that three years from now I will wake up in the middle of the night with the realization that I've forgotten the one thing that I needed to say to my father before he died. When this happens I just hope that I can forgive myself for any mistakes and omissions. I certainly know that he would forgive me for them if he could.

So after you finish this, put down your keyboard, pick up the phone, and call that person in your life and say that thing that has been bugging you for the past 15 years. Just say it. Get it off your chest right now. Don't wait another millisecond. And then send me the money that I just saved you in psychiatric bills.

In Closing

So, its been quite an eventful last year -- one that I certainly hope will not be duplicated again in my lifetime. I hear that the top three most stressful occurrences are a birth of a child, losing one's job, and a death of a loved one so I feel pretty good that I've made it through the last four seasons without losing the rest of my hair and the bulk of my stomach lining. Timmy is probably the biggest reason why I'm doing so well. Not only has he been such a happy little kid so far, but he has been therapy for us all. He has kept us smiling and grinning during the otherwise most inappropriate times. I joked during the last few days of my dad's life that they should have a rental baby service for grieving families. Let's see, rentababy.com, rentabrat.net, getakidforthoseunpleasantlifemoments.com, ... Hmmm. Maybe not the next Cisco Systems but I think there is a dot.com there somewheres.

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