How To Break Your Own Heart

(or) When the Browning’s aren’t enough How do I love thee? Let me count the ways. I love thee to the depth and breadth and height My soul can reach, when feeling out of sight For the ends of being and ideal grace. E. B. Browning Love does not hurt. That may sound counter to popular lyrics and poetry, but love heals and lifts you from the darkness of loneliness. Loneliness is the absence of love. Infatuation may be a precursor to love, but is never a true replacement. Until I met my, now deceased wife, Diane, I had several infatuations. Most notably, a fixation on a third grade teacher and, when I was a senior, a crush on a freshman girl. Though both names are indelibly etched on my heart, prevailing circumstances thwarted any possibilities that either might lead to love. Diane has been dead for over twelve years. Even though my heart became a monument to our love, I have truly loved since. And, hope to do so again. Maybe to someone new. Maybe even by recapturing one of my lost loves. I am a hopeless romantic, easily infatuated. In the past decade of dating and relationships, I learned that, unlike love, infatuation is just a feeling, a hormonal response. Love is a discipline. A discipline requiring unceasing consideration, maturity, loyalty, and sacrifice. Healthy long-term infatuations, including most successful marriages, are built on passion, affection, and mutual respect. Passion being the first to fade, disaffection often follows, and “to death do us part” endures mainly through mutual respect. Many couples find great solace in these types companionship....

A Good Death

It’s been more than a decade since Diane and I embarked on the odyssey towards her death. An odyssey that lasted nine months and ended with a call to the Vanderbilt anatomical donation office to pick up her remains at the Hospice House. The doctor told us she had terminal cancer, a week after we returned from a trip to New Orleans and two days after she won a 5K race. The news was shocking, to say the least. No warning, no warning signs, just the pronouncement of her impending death and the prediction she had only a few months to live. When telling our daughters, we softened the news because our youngest daughter, Blair, was pregnant with her first child and having some physical difficulties with her pregnancy. We explained that the situation was serious but that Diane was undergoing chemotherapy to mitigate the disease. Our grandson, then eleven, continued with his weekend visits. Always lifting our spirits with his humor, wisdom, and affection. About two weeks after the initial shock, Diane and I returned to our usual upbeat notion that life was to be enjoyed, regardless of prevailing circumstances or eminent doom. Our attitudes remained in that mode for the nine months she lived. Though gentle, delicate and diminutive, Diane was emotionally strong, authentic and pragmatic throughout the entire ordeal. She set goals for herself and us. She would live until the end of the year to see grandson enter junior high in the fall; be around for our fortieth anniversary and the birth of our granddaughter in late October; and participate in one final family Christmas....

Aloneness In Relationship

Loneliness and aloneness, are two states of the same energy – like poison and nectar. When there is no outlet for loneliness it becomes poison – self-destructive. However, when in a loving relationship, aloneness is the nectar that sweetens passion, caring, and respect; allowing love to flourish. Love’s beginnings always arise out of aloneness, never from loneliness. With love, one is never lonely, even when one is alone. In a loving relationship, the earth and the sky are no longer separate. Like the tic and toc of time, the rhythms of love are strengthened by the counterpoints of the relationship. Nurtured by both togetherness and aloneness. True lovers relish solitude as much as companionship. Being alone is as beautiful as being together. In the beginning of a new relationship, it is often difficult to distinguish between being alone and being lonely. Especially if one has been without a mate for an extended time. One day it seems we don’t spend enough time together to allay that lonely feeling. The next day it seems, there not sufficient time alone to refresh and rejuvenate for passion’s next quest. Eventually, however, lovers establish a syncopated rhythm of connectedness. They learn to sense when their partner needs to be alone. Knowing it doesn’t mean rejection. Realizing that aloneness is essential to maintaining and intensifying connectedness and nourishing the flowering relationship. When your love wants to be alone, do not torture her with your presence. If you leave her alone, she will return with overflowing love and a renewed spirit. With love, one is never lonely, even when one is alone. In a loving...

When I Hear Sinatra Sing

I always cry. Sometimes I weep. Regrets, I have a few. But mostly, I’ve done it my way. Which, however, always included her way too. My first true love was at sixteen. We had two dates, one kiss. The first date was to see a romantic Saturday afternoon matinee. I was too shy to even hold her hand. The kiss came in the basement of the church. Our final date was the senior prom. Since I was three years older, her parents made it our last. Our love for one another remains today, as mostly unspoken. When Sinatra sings The Way You Look Tonight, my heart still miscues and my eyes reconnect to the glorious vision of her in blue taffeta, with my pink corsage on her wrist. The first time I saw Diane she was wearing a white blouse, white shorts, and walking towards my car carrying a tennis racquet. Diminutive and pretty, like a delicate flower. We married ninety days later. Almost immediately Come Fly With Me became our Forty-year anthem. Early on, I was unsure why someone as wonderful as her would want to be with me. But I eventually learned that prudent, responsible persons, like Diane, often choose goofy people like me because of their own closet goofiness. Us goofys want to be with people like Diane because, on some level, we know we need light steering. For a time, after she died. I was rudderless. Just sitting in my easy chair, no one in the place except me, my memories, and my tears. Through online dating, I met several lovely and delightful ladies. But...

Political Season Warning

Watch out for the straw man   Watching the debates reminded me of a communication ploy to which those who hold similar views to the presenter become victims. It’s an abysmal technique I recommended as a political consultant. Its called the straw man argument. And, is often use when attempting to strengthen a position on an issue to which the presenter has little or no backup data. The straw man technique is misinterpreting the opposing point of view to make it easier to refute or discredit it. A presenter’s straw man argument: “There is a war on Christmas. Atheist are trying to do a way with the day we celebrate Christ’s birth. We’ve got to stop them. The first steps are having us say Happy Holidays instead of Merry Christmas and making us remove manger scenes from public spaces!” With this Christian straw man argument, the goal is to entice likeminded and uninformed individuals into joining supporting the alleged Holy war. In reality this is literally, a nonexistent issue. The overwhelming majority of Atheist, Jews, and other non Christians have no problem with Christmas. However, to sell more soap and automobiles, the media drags this old chestnut out every year, then assiduously seeks out a person of an opposite view to create a “news” fiction. Don’t fall for that straw man argument and have a happy holiday. A recent CarMax TV commercial is a great example of a straw man argument. Video and voiceovers depict car dealers attempting to take advantage of buyers with various disreputable sales ploys. CarMax then says they don’t use those “muscular” tactics. The truth...

My Mother

My mother, Eva Alene Craddock Womack Allen was born mannerly, with a vocabulary that would shame Webster. She attributed her noteworthy social skills to the Craddock family’s (alleged) direct descent from Lord Baltimore. Mother worshipped her father and tolerated her mother. Her father, Walter Craddock, who died when I was four, was a noble figure in Nashville politics of the 30s and 40s. An intellectual, gentle man, who found his greatest joys in serving people and animals, and in consuming copious quantities of Kentucky Bourbon. Her mother, Lily Bell Craddock was from pioneer stock and rural beginnings. Lily Bell’s father Henry Bell, and his brother Montgomery, sold gun powder to both side during the Civil War. Grandfather Henry may have been the Bell family’s salesman to the south, for his brother Montgomery became quite wealthy. Henry returned to dirt farming after the war. As a child, Lily Bell (Craddock) lived a hardscrabble life. A mindset she carried with her into her marriage to Walter and beyond. Lily and Walter had three children. The eldest, a son who died as an infant, Mother (Eva), and her younger sister, Harriet. When Mother was a young girl, her maternal grandfather Henry died when a rival tossed him off a bluff into the Harpeth River Mother inherited her strong love of dogs and cats, from her father. Her dad often brought home stray canines and felines. While her mother didn’t like to pet them, she tolerated and never mistreated them. Mother’s first (and several subsequent cats) was named Blackie. Blackie number one joined the family menagerie when she was five-years old. Diary entry:...