Tag: Fearless

Small Stuff

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Currently I work in the deli of a large grocery store, not my dream job, but it serves the purpose for now.  The store is going through a major renovation that involves relocating the deli.  After lots of preparation and migrating of merchandise, the move would take place over night.

On the last day in the old location, we stopped baking and frying chicken a couple of hours earlier than usual.  Items that had been in one location were moved to the “other side” of the temporary wall.  I’m sure there are many stories of upset customers not finding what they wanted.  Here are two I know of.

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Customer number one wanted her oven-roasted savory chicken.  Normally they are made fresh every two hours, every day between nine and five.  We stopped early and were sold out by the time she arrived.  Nothing would make her happy.  A “Manager” had to be called.  I’m sure he did something to appease her.  But seriously, the dark meat of those same chickens is sold as leg quarters and the breasts are cut up and sold as pulled chicken.  If savory chicken is you what you came in for, we most certainly had chicken available.  And it’s a huge store.  There are literally thousands of alternatives if you are open to the possibilities and willing to think outside the chicken coop.

Customer number two wanted a very specific mustard dipping sauce.  When a deli clerk explained to the man that it had been relocated to the “other side” he copped an attitude and said in a very snarky way, “You mean I can’t have it.”  I had been cleaning the new area all day.  I did not know exactly where his brand of mustard dipping sauce was, but offered to look for it.  Fortunately, I found it and received a “your awesome” from the customer.  I never knew awesome was so easy to achieve.

Both incidents reminded me that life is made of lots of small stuff, most of which is not worth getting your knickers in a knot.  I hope that I never get caught up in the small stuff but am fearless and open to the possibilities if things do not go as planned.

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How Big is Your Bubble?

How Big is Your Bubble?

“I did then what I knew how to do.  Now that I know better, I do better.”
Maya Angelou

I’m ending the year with a Fearless blog post.  My goal was fifty posts for 2016…this is number forty-nine.  Thanks to my faithful readers for following along on my travels.

Let me know what you would like to read in 2017 by leaving a comment at the end of this post.

  1. General flash-fiction stories
  2. Continuation of the Table for Two series
  3. Posts on Joy – my word for 2017

bubble-3What Is a Bubble?

For this post, our bubble is the sum of our experiences.  A bubble can be as small as the town we live in, or large enough to encompass the planet.  Bubbles can expand, exist one inside the other, adhere to other bubbles, or pop and dissolve around us.

Our bubble includes our attitudes, opinions, and beliefs.

  • A collection of general attitudes creates a specific opinion about a narrow topic.
  • A group of opinions shapes our values as part of a belief system.
  • People frequently change attitudes and occasionally opinions, but rarely do individuals change beliefs. [i]

Our words and actions stem from our attitudes, opinions, and beliefs.  We do the best we can based on what we know at the time.  When we know better, we do better.

bubble-5Forming Your Bubble

As children, our bubble is small.  It includes family, friends, neighbors, and school mates.  A more diverse world leads to more diverse attitudes, opinions, and beliefs.

As we move through life, inclusion of others normally outside our bubble, grows respect for and appreciation of differences in ethnicity, gender, age, national origin, disability, sexual orientation, education, and religion.

Diverse experiences grow larger bubbles.

bubble-4Expanding Your Bubble

Be Fearless!  Leap outside your comfort zone, your bubble.

  • Volunteer in your community. The best way to understand people outside your bubble is to get to know them and their circumstances.
  • Explore a city, state our country you have never been to before.
  • Join new group. (Check out Meet Up in your area: Meet Up)
  • Take a class on a topic you know nothing about (If you are over 50, check out OLLI (Osher Lifelong Learning Institute) at a college or university near you.)
  • Learn a language.
  • Take a cooking class.
  • Join a book club.
  • Try a new sport or activity.
  • Etc., etc., etc.

Trying new things allows us to expand our minds and learn—both about the new thing, and about ourselves.  As we learn more, new attitudes and opinions just may change our beliefs.

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Can Bubbles Unlock the Secrets of Life?

Samsam Bubbleman thinks they can.

Samsam Bubbleman needs only two ingredients – soap and water – to make something magical. For more than a decade, Samsam has dedicated his life to creating dazzling, kaleidoscopic bubble art. He’s a professional, with multiple Guinness World Records, and a company that produces a wide range of bubble toys. But bubbles are much more than a job for Samsam: he knows his soapy, colour-drenched creations can lift spirits, unlock life’s secrets, and reverse time, turning grown-ups back into children.

Check out this video, Samsan the Bubbleman, it may expand your bubble.

When we expand our bubble to be more inclusive,
we will know better and hopefully we will do better.

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[i] Steve Sisgold reporting in ”Psychology Today. http://classroom.synonym.com/things-affect-persons-beliefs-5484.html

 

Reinvention on Steroids

Reinvention on Steroids

2016 is about to become 2017. On the precipice of another personal reinvention,
I thought I would share a decade by decade review of my fearless life.

20 Something – An Ethical Dilemma for a Naïve Idealist

I worked in the Training Department at the home office of an infamous chain store found in every mall. (Think 1970’s, lava lights, incense, and black-light posters.) A catalog preceded storefronts and made up a larger percentage of overall sales.

A colleague approached me about an opening for a copywriter in the Marketing department, creating copy for the mailer. During a preliminary, clandestine discussion with the hiring manager, we talked about job duties and a bump in salary.

To transfer from Training to Marketing, my current boss, Dave C., needed to give his permission for a legitimate interview. To demonstrate his magnanimity, Dave called the hiring manager while I sat in his office and he inquired about the position.

When Dave got off the phone, he told a much different story than what I knew to be true. The move would mean a demotion and pay less than my current salary. I couldn’t say anything. Doing so would be admitting collusion with the ‘enemy.’

My jaw dropped. My boss lied right to my face, his motivation selfish. Two former colleagues transferred or quit within a month of my request. Upper management was asking questions. More attrition would create adversity for Dave.

If Dave wanted to play dirty, I wasn’t interested in working for him.

I gave myself 30 days to find a job and move to New York City. I can still hear the gasp and long pause on the other end of the phone when I told my parents. They lived in a small mid-west town. Once they caught their breaths, they said words they would repeat many times over the years,

 “You can always come home. Let us know if you need money.”

I doubt they ever understood my desire to push the limits of what they considered a traditional lifestyle. But they always offered support, allowing me to follow my heart.

I reconnected with a college sorority sister looking for a new apartment and a new roommate to share the costs. By the end of the thirty days I found a job and moved myself to New York.

I lived in New York for less than two years. The experience empowered me to face future challenges with confidence and excitement. Frank Sinatra got it right,

“If you can make it there, you can make it anywhere.”

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30 Something – Similar Stuff, Different Organizations

 Fast forward to 1986, Saint Petersburg, Florida. As Training Director for a department store chain, I created a department from scratch and designed innovative programs, some of my best and most creative work.

After about six years I decided a change was in order. I wanted to see the world. I signed up for bar-tending classes and thought I would get some experience working with caterers before applying to resorts and cruise ships.

About the time I was going to write a letter of resignation, another retail company bought the parent company of my employer. Rumors of our local department store being sold off to the highest bidder ran rampant.

At the upper executive level, I received a lucrative exit package, if I stayed until the end. And so, I did.  No idea where the bar-tending would have taken me. I took the other fork in the road.

The exit package included a year of executive outplacement services. A conversation with my counselor solidified my desire for change, but uncertainty about what I wanted to do next. I completed all the paperwork and testing, wrote a new resume and some cover letter samples and set a goal of one year to find the next adventure.

I jumped into my yellow Camaro and hit the road for a few months of visiting family and friends. I fell in love with the freedom to come and go on my own schedule.  The gypsy life suited me, a practice I would repeat over and over.

Reality set-in and I returned to the outplacement office to seek new employment. During my time-off, I learned I liked Training and Development, but wanted to change industries.

I collected unemployment, almost enough to live on. To stretch my income, I took a position with a new company, The Home Shopping Club/Network. I worked from 5 p.m. to 1 a.m. as an operator answering calls and taking orders.

The evening shift gave me time to search for something else during the day. Working in a highly structured environment reminded me daily of the need to keep looking for a “real” job in my field. I lasted about six weeks taking orders over the phone. I quit to interview in another city. The gamble paid off. I went to work with a regional bank.

Training for the bank gave me the experience of facilitating a series of two-week workshops for branch managers. The workshop included an outdoor day of experiential activities. I climbed over the wall, fell into the arms of my team in the trust fall, and maneuvered across some high-wire challenge every three weeks.

I learned a lot about myself and human behavior.  I confirmed I could do whatever I put my mind to.

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40 Something – Making It Work, the Hard Way

I spent the 1990’s on airplanes, flying domestically during the first half and all over the planet in the second half. Afterward, ready to leave corporate America, I visited the Peace Corps website and started the application, for the first time. Sixteen years later I completed the application, but that is another reinvention story.

A training design firm offered me a chance to work as a contract consultant. I sold my house and moved to a small community. I lived near the yoga center I managed for over two years. I discovered the perfect place to live and put in the effort to develop the spiritual part of me, ignored for most of my life.

My income dropped. I struggled to keep the lifestyle going. During one conversation with my mother she said,
“I think you are just lazy. Why don’t you get a job?”

“Getting a job would be the lazy way. I’m juggling five part-time jobs. It takes a lot of energy and skill to manage my life.”

I hung on until the next reinvention.

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50 Something – Anchors Aweigh

My parents spent twenty-two years as ‘snow birds,’ wintering in Florida and summering in Michigan. My father’s health declined and travelling back and forth every six months ended for them. My mother needed help and I needed to move on. I sold my house and car and moved back to Michigan to assist.

My initial thoughts: find a place of my own and live near my parents. My father spent the last five months of his life in healthcare facilities. I spent those five months monitoring his care and living with my mother. I moved my stuff into their home.

Less than two years after my father passed away, my mother died suddenly and unexpectedly. Against my wishes, she left me the house, the last thing I wanted, an anchor holding me in place.

The economy crashed. I looked for jobs anywhere in the country. In the end, I took a position right where I lived. The non-profit board I served on hired me as Community Development Manager, raising money and raising awareness. The learning curve moved straight uphill. Such good work for a worthy cause.

I loved being near friends and family and seeing the newest generation grow and thrive. But I could no longer say, “I am one of the most interesting people I know.”

The job didn’t pay enough for me to take exotic vacations or pursue interesting hobbies. I made ends meet. No more, no less. Time to shake things up again.

I reopened the Peace Corps website for the umpteenth time in sixteen years. This time my instincts were not telling me to shut down application. Four hours later I completed part one. The next evening I finished part two, the medical history. A year later and after lots of paperwork, I flew off to orientation and my assignment in Botswana.

After six and one-half months, I left the Peace Corps early, for personal reasons.  I returned to the United States homeless, no car, no income.  Everything I owned was in storage.  After two years in Lexington, Kentucky I returned to Florida.  That’s where I am now.

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60 Something – What to Do? What to Do?

As I said in the beginning, I’m on the precipice of another reinvention. I’m not sure what I will be doing or where I will be living. Stay tuned as the mystery of the next chapter unfolds for all of us.

 

Brand Loyalty

Brand Loyalty

Today I step away from the Table for Two series to post something to my Fearless blog section. (The opinions put forth in this post, are mine.  Yes, I am on a soap box.)

I am not a marketing major.  I do know enough to figure out brand loyalty is more of an emotional connection that often defies logic.  I consider myself a logical thinker.  I received a perfect score on the logic portion of the GRE. Yet, at times, I defy logic and am fearlessly loyal to a brand.  Here are a few examples.

Insurance

I have had car and home insurance with the same company since I started purchasing insurance in the 1970’s.  Could I find a cheaper rate with another company?  Maybe.  I may never know.  I choose to stay with them.  I am brand loyal. It defies logic.

Credit Cards

I applied for my first credit card in 1980, the American Express Green Card.  I selected that card to impose the discipline of paying my bill at the end of the month.  It worked.  To this day, I have never had a balance on a revolving account.

For thirty-six years, I paid the annual fee to keep the Amex card. For twenty years, I paid an additional fee for the rewards program.  During the 1990s, my heavy travel decade, it paid off.  Accumulated points from domestic and international airfares and hotel stays turned into plane tickets for myself and others, a big screen television, pots and pans and who knows what all.

I didn’t use my Amex card for years but kept it anyway.  This year I called to cancel the card.  It felt like I was saying goodbye to an old friend.  We had been together for thirty-six years.  I never left home without it.  It defies logic.

Lucky for me, Amex has a new product, the Blue Cash Card.  There is no fee and it pays back a small percentage on all purchases.  Yes, I now have a blue Amex card.  I am brand loyal.

As a side note, I worked on a consulting project with American Express about fifteen years ago.  My story is not unusual.  Amex card holders are extremely loyal to the brand.

I have had a variety of Visa cards over the years, just in case Amex is not accepted.  Sometimes they are affiliated with a bank or a store or an organization.  Those cards have come and gone.  No tears have been shed.

Toothpaste

Do you still use the same brand your mother bought?  Do you buy the one on sale or the one you have a coupon for?  Maybe your dentist recommended a brand for sensitive teeth.  Do you use a gel or a paste?  Maybe you don’t care.

I like to know what my toothpaste is going to taste like in the morning.  I prefer a paste to a gel.  I used the same brand my mother bought until a few years ago when I switched to the brand for sensitive teeth.  Does it matter?  Could I save a little by being flexible?  Maybe.  But I am brand loyal.  It defies logic.


If you are easily offended, you might want to close this post now.  I’m venturing into an area we are taught to avoid in conversation.

Religion

Let me say from the get-go, religion defies logic.

Raised Catholic, I claim no religion at this point.  I’m not against religion.  It seems to work for a lot of people.  I believe in religious freedom.  Go forth and worship as you choose.  While you’re at it, allow others to do the same, or choose not to.

People will change church affiliations within a brand, but tend to be brand loyal to one of the twelve classical world religions:  Baha’i, Buddhism, Christianity, Confucianism, Hinduism, Islam, Jainism, Judaism, Shinto, Sikhism, Taoism, and Zoroastrianism.

Religion and Violence

Of the twelve religions listed above, which one is based on using violence as the means to an end?  None!  Yet, religion has been used for centuries to justify wars, crimes to humanity, the accumulation of land and wealth, genocide and other atrocious crimes.  Through it all, people accept the good the bad and the ugly.  They remain brand loyal to their religion.  That defies logic.

I would argue that the underlying causes of war and war crimes are fear, power and control.  Religion is the scapegoat.

Religious Freedom – A Civics Lesson

Religious freedom is an essential right, but it shouldn’t be a license to discriminate.  In the United States, religious civil liberties are guaranteed by the First Amendment to the United States Constitution:

“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”

Just as the First Amendment secures the free exercise of religion, section one of the Fourteenth Amendment guarantees religious civil rights.  It prohibits discrimination, including on the basis of religion, by securing “the equal protection of the laws” for every person:

“All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction there of, are citizens of the United States and of the State where in they reside. No state shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.”

Church and State

Freedom of religion is also closely associated with separation of church and state, a concept advocated by Colonial founders such as Roger Williams, William Penn and later founding fathers such as James Madison and Thomas Jefferson.

Laws that restrict individual freedom on issues of morality, often cloaked in Religious beliefs, cross the line.  People will disagree on the morality of capital punishment, same-sex marriages, planned parenthood, gender identity, abortion, assisted death, and many more issues.

However, claiming religion as a justification does not give anyone special rights to abstain from the morals of equality.

Stand for equality and non-discrimination.  You can uphold your religious beliefs and stay loyal to your brand.  Allow others the freedom to do the same.

It’s only logical.

All Words Matter

All Words Matter

Words we speak, words we don’t say out loud and words we put in writing, they all matter. 

I would like to address the ‘actions speak louder than words’ elephant in the room.  Actions are important, no question.  Couldn’t agree more.

 “Action speaks more powerfully than words, but when you use words as your actions, you probably won’t stop talking.”  “When all is said and done, more is always said than done.”  “People may not tell you how they feel about you, but they always show you. Pay attention.” http://elitedaily.com

That said, what about words?

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Words we say out loud matter

Words can lift us up.  Words can comfort us in difficult times.  Words can make us feel understood.

Words can cut like a knife.  Words can erode our self-esteem.  Words can be a form of abuse.

Words are often the weapon of choice for a bully.

Words can inform.  Words can teach.  Words can foster understanding.

Words can express joy or disappointment.

Words can encourage.  Words can discourage.

Words are open to interpretation of the receiver.

Words can be fact-based or totally fiction.

Words can lead or mislead.

Words can ask for forgiveness and words can forgive.

Words can get you hired.  Words can get you fired.

Words communicate our thoughts, feelings and beliefs.

Words are a verbal expression of who we are.

 

“Words are singularly the most powerful force available to humanity. We can choose to use this force constructively with words of encouragement, or destructively using words of despair. Words have energy and power with the ability to help, to heal, to hinder, to hurt, to harm, to humiliate and to humble.”  Yehuda Berg

 

Words we don’t say matter

A look or a sigh can express as much as any number of words strung together.

A smile, a squinty eyed glare, the lift of an eyebrow, a comforting touch on the arm all speak volumes.

Silence may be the appropriate response.  Silence can hang in the air like a thick fog.

Gestures can represent s specific word or a general feeling.

Non-verbal clues reveal our intention.

A non-response can be a powerful response.

Good communication is the foundation of any successful relationship, be it personal or professional. It’s important to recognize, though, that it’s our nonverbal communication—our facial expressions, gestures, eye contact, posture, and tone of voice—that speak the loudest.  Jeanne Segal, Ph.D., Melinda Smith, M.A., Greg Boose, and Jaelline Jaffe, Ph.D. Last updated: October 2016.  http://www.helpguide.org/

Commonly used statistics

  • Words (the literal meaning) account for 7% of the overall message
  • Tone of voice accounts for 38% of the overall message
  • Body Language accounts for 55% of the overall message

http://www.bodylanguageexpert.co

The words we say and the words we don’t say matter.
There is no such thing as, “It’s just words.” 

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Adapting

Adapting

My last post was about adoption.  This post will share my observations about adapting.  When I left home in June, I wasn’t sure how long I would be gone.  Hence, this post is in the fearless category.

Over a span of fourteen weeks I stayed in six different homes with family and friends.  I tried to adapt to my environment and not be a bother.  Not sure it always worked 100%.

If only I was working on a thesis of some sort; my Summer Sojourn would provide a good social experiment.  Here are some of my observations.

  • Eating habits: Every household has its own pattern.  Some people eat meat from all varieties of animals.  Some people eat no animal protein.  Some people eat fish on occasion but never cook it.  Some people snack healthy, some not so much.
  • Sleeping habits: Some are early to bed and early to rise; others are night owls and sleep later in the morning.
  • Pets: Three out of six homes I stayed in have a dog.  Two of the other three had a dog within the past few years; one had a cat a long time ago.  Dogs rule evidently.

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  • Tolerance: Most are good for a short stay (2-4 days), one is like a second home.  You know who you are, Peggy.
  • Welcoming: All seemed happy to see me arrive.  Some were happier than others to see me go.
  • Routine: Some took time out of their routine to entertain me, which was nice but not necessary.
  • Inclusion: Some invited me to join them in their activities, again, nice to have the option.
  • Change: Most people can change for a short period of time but eventually revert back to their comfort zone.  Most people do not embrace BIG change. It can be scary.
  • Energy: Each home has its own energy, a reflection of the combined energy of the people who live there.
  • Communication: Specifically between married couples – very different from one house to the next.  I suspect having another person around was cause for some changes to their pattern of communication.

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  • Television:  One household prefers radio, turning on the TV only for the Olympics.  One household records lots of shows and watches them via DVR, sans the commercials.  All of the others were somewhere in between.
  • Exercise:  All over the board on this one.  Some make very regular trips to the gym.  Some work exercise into their day via counting steps, walking the dog, etc.  Others, not so much.
  • Stuff:  Everybody has more stuff than me (something I work at).  Some are more organized about it than others.
  • Pastimes:  Everybody has their own preferences on how they spend their free time.  Here are a few pastimes I observed:  reading, playing games, cooking, going to the movies, gardening, caregiver for older or younger family members, and going to the lake/beach.

As for me:  I’m home now adapting to this environment, still trying to figure out where everything is.  That’s when you know you have been gone long enough to shake up your routine.

Come on down  to Florida and test my adaptability when you are in my environment.

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P.S.(I am way behind on my goal to post 50 blogs this year.  So I am adapting my schedule to post more than once a week.)

The End of the Line

Father’s Day always brings to mind one of the most fearless people I know, Raymond F Barry, my dad.  He was proud of his service as a Staff Sergeant in the Army during World War II.  Originally stationed at Clark Field on the island of Luzon in the Philippines, he spent thirty-four months as a prisoner of war.  He didn’t talk about it very often.  He did however save articles, books, photos and letters.

raymond barry

I would like to share two excerpts from a memory book about his service.  This first piece is taken from “History of Cabanatuan Prison Camp 1942-1945” written by Maj. Gen. Chester L. Johnson, US Army.

On April 9, 1942, some 75,000 Filipino and American soldiers and prisoners of the Japanese, captured on Bataan began the infamous “Death March” out of the Bataan Peninsula to central Luzon.

After being forced to march the 85 miles to San Fernando, under the most inhuman conditions, the prisoners were forced into small freight cars and hauled to the town of Capas, which was 45 miles away, in the hot sun with the doors to the freight car closed.  From Capas they were forced to march the final 8 miles to the Camp O’Donnell POW camp.

Weakened from four months of continuous combat, living on starvation rations and minimal or no medical attention, thousands of men died on the death march, in the freight cars and at Camp O’Donnell.

After the fall of Corregidor and the Manilla Bay Fortress islands on May 6, 1942, 16,000 Filipinos and American servicemen were ferried to Manilla.

The American POW’s were marched through the streets of Manilla…as a show for the Filipino civilians.  The American POW’s were shipped by train to Cabanatuan where the Japanese had established an American POW compound.

American POW’s in Cabanatuan were assigned to work on a farm…all the work performed was hard labor…the results were that in a 30-month period, 3,000 died at Cabanatuan alone.

These POW’s died from disease, executions, beatings and starvations.  It should be noted that more Americans died at Cabanatuan than any other prison camp since Andersonville in the Civil War.

In October and November of 1944, the Japanese moved able bodied POW’s to Manilla…Only about 500 American POW’s judged too ill or too crippled to work were left behind in Cabanatuan.

On January 30th, 1945 at 7:45 p.m. An American team of 100 Rangers…along with two small Alamo Scout teams (22 men in all)…in a totally successful surprise attack liberated the camp.

* * *

In Dad’s own words:

freight car

After walking five days without food, this (boxcar) is what is waiting for us at San Fernando.  We were squeezed into these small cars and hauled to a town called Cabas which was about forty-five miles away, in the hot sun with the doors closed.  The trip lasted five hours.  Some prisoners succeeded in opening holes in the sides of the car to let in fresh air.  We were weak, tired and sick.  I can’t describe the feeling, to be treated worse than cattle by a stranger who does not know you, and hates you bitterly.  From Capas it was about an eight mile walk to Camp O’Donnell.  Another Death Trap.  This surely was the end of the line.

* * *

It wasn’t the end of the line.  He was moved to Cabanatuan, worked on the farm, buried the dead, and eventually was left behind with those too ill to work.

Dad returned home legally blind from malnutrition and suffered other health issues throughout his life.

He was married to the same woman for 58 years, raised four relatively normal children and lived to be 86.  Along the way he earned a Master’s Degree in Education from the University of Michigan and taught school for 24 years.

As a side note:  Near the end of Dad’s life, while in the Veterans’ Hospital, one of the Rangers on the team that liberated Cabanatuan was in the same facility.  He would stop by dad’s room every day to ask he needed anything.  He felt responsible for the life he saved.

And so on this Father’s Day, I salute you Staff Sergeant Raymond F Barry for your fearless determination to survive, your fearless dedication to your family and friends, your fearless insistence on the importance of getting an education, and your fearless guidance that serves me still.

Happy Father’s Day from Your Favorite (and only) Daughter