Friday, January 31, 2014


Everyday I play a game I cannot win.

No, it’s not the lottery, there’s none of that here on Guam, or some sort masochistic process I go through for self-improvement, but it is something that hits near and dear to the heart.

The game is trying to please my 94-year old Grandfather.

 I use the word game not in the sense that it is not something to be taken seriously, because I am taking it very much so, but the “game” as in the sense Sherlock Holmes uses it, the “thrill of the hunt,” the journey.  Using past knowledge, the current mood of the situation and problems of the day, and the tools at my disposal, I try to do every caretaker’s job, especially one that is related to their patient, and make life bearable for an old and ailing individual (I do it to the best of my ability because I love him as well).

The task at hand is a bit harder than it initially sounds, and just like every good game, it looks simple at 1st but has incredibly depth. Out of the players to play this game, the game of dealing with my grandfather, the player who had the complete mastery and understanding of all the secrets and levels was my Grandmother, who passed away just about a month ago.

When my Grandfather talks about her, he often uses the word “cool… your grandmother was very cool….”

While hip for his age, he avoids that adjective a lot, and remains to only use it to describe people who he finds very agreeable to be around with. My Grandma gets associated with it the most.

Me? He says I am “cool” sometimes, but not all the time. I can certainly agree with that assessment, since being cool in his definition is being very quiet and go along with his conversations in which sometimes I am not always pleased to hear him complain, but that’s another essay though.   I am more patient than every other family member and friend in the family. If we had a veritable stat system for this I would get 95/100 in Patience, 2nd highest in the game, but my Grandma, with her higher overall experience (age in this case) and wisdom, would get a 99/100. Legendary status, an invaluable person in any “party,” and in this case, in my game, she was my support, or my number two. But with her gone, I have to fly solo.

And that makes the game harder.

At 1st this was a daunting task for me to think about, my rock so to speak was unearthed from the ground around me, what was I was going to do? Well I did the best thing that I could do, and remember the things that she would tell me. The advice that she gave me every day were tips and tricks that would help me succeed in my own gameplay later in life, and she was not shy about dishing them out. She would constantly tell me, “Jer, you need to do this!” and this “is go if you know how to do this too!” My grandmother would always look out for me, and like any good teammate, I looked out for her. I realized that I did not know at the time how invaluable her words were, hindsight is so 20/20, and wished I had the back note pages that you find in old video game manuals to write down her best advice, but I remember more than an enough to find my own path in this world.

With this knowledge though, comes also a very important revelation, and that is realizing what the game is. My Grandfather is a man who is insecure and unsure of what he wants, but is somebody who only wants it his way. He’s a like a character in a game who is your ultimate benefactor, but you need to follow protocol in handling his affairs, or like a math or philosophy riddle that takes four University Chalkboards to answer. In life though, there is no winning, there is no conveniently designed ending that rewards you after a certain amount of playtime, or content that marks the end of your journey/expansion pack.  You finish the days objective, and the next day you find yourself doing the same thing, maybe mixed with a few variables, or a lot, really depends on the day. The only winners here are not the ones who get up in the morning with Stamina, Hit Points, Gold coins (money) or some other character stat, but the ones who can get up with a smile. I think Curtis Mayfield would even agree.

Also competition sucks, especially when it deals with people’s well-being, Capitalism? Survival of the fittest? These are pretty cruel and fascist ideologies that do not foster good will towards fellow brothers and sisters, but rather perpetuate judgment. 

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Goals for the Chinese New Year

While I may not be Chinese, but I did miss the boat on the plethora of New Year’s Resolutions that are made around the turning of the New Year, so I plan to rectify that with this holiday. However, my goals usually start simple then turn into something more complicated as time goes by because you have to build a foundation. Four Things that I want to do in my life that I would think would greatly improve it.

“Wake up no later than 8 AM.”

Right now, one thing that really perturbs me is just waking up late, because one, I’ll have to hear it from my Grandpa for not being up at the right time, and two, that time I have before my Grandpa is awake is such a nice and quiet period around the house. He wakes up around 9 usually. Need to embrace that as it sets a strong mentality going forward in the day.  

“Set aside 20 minutes for daily stretches.”

Whether it be elementary positions that work the main muscles, or sit-ups and pushups, some sort of dedicated time to do this is so beneficial. I have done it this week, since Monday, and it’s been great. A terrific destresser.  So much tension has been running through my body, just my situation at home and being a caretaker, and things like this really do wonders for the mind, body, and joints.

“Read a book a week.”

This was a goal I realized about a month ago that I have kept at it actually, yay. My girl just gave a book bag full of Kurt Vonnegut novels (read a "A Man Without a Country" and was enthralled by every essay) which should keep me busy for a good while. He really is like a contemporary version of Mark Twain, one of his literary heroes, and I read a lot of good ole’ Samuel Clemens’ work back in High School (and thoroughly enjoyed it). Reading is awesome too, so mentally stimulating and so beneficial to one’s own writing as well.

 “Spend in an hour daily working in the garden.”

Whether it be weeding, watering, replanting, or doing a combination of them all, this goal is pretty important to me because that is what I want to do for my Grandma, who just passed with Lung Cancer. If there is one thing that I know that made her happy, are her plants. I know this because when she was getting sicker, taking her outside would not make her feel better, but worse, because she wished more than anything to be able to go outside, without the aid of a walking device, and be there with the inspects and spiders, tending her plants. Then the conversation would always turn to her commentating about how my Grandpa has always tried to cut or kill all of her plants, which would frustrate her.  I’ve always had a passing interest in growing plants, my dad was a long time Horticulturist, but recently I really do want to excel at it, and since I am home most of the day and every day, I want to know my surroundings, the yard included.

Four rather simple goals but stuff if I stick too, will help me 1st, and then help everything I am around and associated with.