By Craig Hastings
From the first day I learned I was going to be a father back in 2000, I, like most of you parents, dedicated myself to a new life’s plan. How best was I going to be able to provide and protect my child. I absolutely changed my mindset as to how I was going to live the rest of my life and just how I was going to accomplish the changes I needed to make. So what do I mean when I say my mindset changed? With the exception of my career, I lived my life one week’s plan at a time. I was always thinking about what I was going to do the week after the one I was living. If something didn’t pan out as I had planned, so what no big deal and move on. I was admittedly a bit reckless with my financial planning. Why not, I was living and working for just me so what did I care if I stretched myself a little tight one month or ten?
I was usually shopping for one car or truck to replace the one I may have purchased less than a year earlier. I say purchased but I never really owned many of the vehicles I was driving thirty years ago. Some bank somewhere held the titles to my vehicles because I never managed to pay one off nor did I ever intend to. I stayed ahead of being upside down with my loans because it was hard to trade for the next one if a person owed more on the car they were driving than it was worth on trade right? I never worried about owning the car I was driving. Not smart but it was the way many of my generation were living living lives. For several summers in a row in the 80’s I was making two trips a year to Las Vegas. Not to gamble either. I certainly didn’t have the money or ability to play. My traveling pals and I were only going to Las Vegas check out the newest nightclubs being built every year. For those too young to remember this was the 80’s and 90’s which was the height of the disco era. Tagging along with Doug and Virgil on these trips was always a guaranteed good….say, exciting experience.
So first born son Payton came into my life July 11, 2001 and how my life changed; for the better. Oh my life changed the day his mother and I learned from Dr. Miller that he was the real deal in his mother’s womb but, when I could see and touch him…!! Lukas would follow on May 29, 2003 causing me to double down on being a responsible adult. Having children didn’t make me grow up; just the contrary. I’m an adult that still will act like an immature kid at times just so I can “fit in” with my boys’ lives. What happened in my own life’s plan was that I quit living the next day, month, and year for myself. Instead I began to then and still now, live for my children. What happens with myself hasn’t mattered much to me since my boys became teenagers. I try to succeed so that I can help my children succeed. I try to be the best person I can be hoping they too will do the same. A few years back I started writing my stories to tell you how panicked I was, fearing I would no longer hold their interest other than borrowing agent! Fearing they would abruptly move on with their own lives and leave me behind kinda just like I had done to my own parents. Admittedly I didn’t have the same relationship with my own parents that I have with my own children. This was probably because my parents had five children where I have just the two. Had I fathered five children I would probably still be concentrating on raising the youngest two with little time for the first three. Therefore, the first three would have been out of the house and doing their own thing before I realized the errors of my ways.
Enough jibber-jabber. What caused me to tell you these things tonight is the COVID-19 ordeal. My boys both live with Shannon and me now. I’ve always taken for granted the family atmosphere we enjoy in this home. The laughs, the talks, the debates, the meals, and in general some of the bs teenage boys share whether prompted or not! The fears I had of them finding more to do with their lives as teenagers than hanging out with their dad are of less concern now. Many of you told me several years ago I was prematurely sounding an alarm bell and that I should take a wait and see attitude. You were right. However, a much different alarm bell sounded six weeks ago in my household as it was heard throughout most of America.
Of all the things that have scared me and caused me to pray in fear of the worst happening to my sons, never did I or would have I imagined this! Of all the scenarios that have caused me to sit up in bed at night and worry of “what if” of one of my boys; a deadly virus!? Would/could it be me and unbeknownst to me bring a virus into my own home and pass it on to one of my own children or to Shannon that might cost any of them their lives!? They live here with Shannon and me in the home where they were born, living happily and simple lives. They concern themselves very little with the pandemic that’s killing others all around us and probably because they’re young and feel invincible as we all did at their ages. As hard as I’ve planned and strived to keep them healthy and accident free for eighteen and sixteen years could it be me that brings this virus into the household?! Would they pass the days with little or no symptoms or would one of them succumb to the virus because of an unknown health issue they’ve had all or most of their lives? Shannon certainly is at risk should she contract this virus. And of course, I’m an old guy so maybe I should worry a bit about my own risk. But I don’t worry about me so much because I’ve done my very best to prepare everyone else should the worst happen to me. This is that big life’s change of plans I spoke of earlier.
In my home the four of us have certainly bonded much more than ever before. The boy’s mother and I share more often the daily events of our boys lives. We all talk more and Shannon and I welcome her and her husband to visit the boys in our home whenever they please. Now isn’t a time to be crass if ever there was anyway. Shannon, Payton, Lukas, and I are closer than before. We talk more. We laugh more. We share more of our daily life events than we ever would have before this COVID-19 ordeal. Some of those things that we shrugged off as insignificant and never shared before we share now. I’ll admit that some of the conversation subject matter heard in my home today, I would have paid little attention before COVID-19. Not now, I’m all ears to whatever anyone has to say in my house. Every moment is important to me and I don’t think that will change even when Americans finally get an all clear to return to normalcy again.
As are many of you that must leave your homes and interact with others, I too am fearful of the unknown outside the walls of my own home. I deal with it all by focusing on the positive things around me. My family, my friends, the people I can help, the I-57 frontage road project, and Love’s Truck Stop construction are some of the positives in my life right now! At least here in Tuscola it’s not all doom and gloom! Be safe, be smart, and stay healthy. I hope to see all of you when this is over!