In Her Own Words: Bonnie Sagriff shares the heartbreaking story of her still born son, Callum.

Chuck Duboff Bonnie is a former student of mine.  We have maintained a wonderful friendship and regularly share stories about our lives journeys.  Yesterday, Bonnie posted the following story on Facebook; as I read it, I was so over come by emotion.  I messaged Bonnie and asked if it would be alright if I posted this on today’s blog.  She was “honoured” to share Callum’s story with everyone.  I know that those who read this will send their love and prayers to Callum and Bonnie.

 

stillborn© Bonnie Sagriff

This time 6 years ago, I took myself to the hospital as I was labouring and worried it was too early to have the baby and wanted to be checked out. I got to the hospital and laid on that triage bed for what seemed like an eternity. Nurses came in to get the heart beat with no luck. Only to try again and again and again. Laying on one side, drinking juice you name it. I was advised to call rich and in that moment I knew, yet didn’t want to accept it. As I lay on the hospital bed alone, cold and worried I waited for rich to get there with each agonizing minute ticking by, my heart rate and blood pressure increased. Every nurse and doctor stalling biding time till I had him by my side. I relive these moments every year. I remember vividly rich walking into the triage room with a sense of panic on his face. Scared for me, scared for us. Shortly after he got there the doctor came in with the ultrasound machine and it was confirmed. The words no expecting parents want to hear. ” I’m so sorry Bonnie but there is no heart beat, your baby has passed” this was supposed to be a day of celebration for my nieces first birthday and yet it was a day and will forever be a day of mourning for me. We were brought to a room where they put a picture of a white rose on the door to symbolize we were parents of a soon to be stillborn baby. Way in the back of the labor and deliver floor. I could hear all the screams of other labouring mothers and cries of babies fresh from their mothers wombs. Each scream and each cry was like a knife in my back, a slap in the face. I laboured quietly trying to hold off the inevitable. I thought if I could just keep the baby inside just a little longer I wouldn’t have to feel the pain of losing a child or have my child born today. I just couldn’t have that happen it needed to be another day not on my beautiful nieces birthday. I bared through each agonizing contraction until
It was time to have my sweet baby. “It’s time” was quietly and peacefully uttered. I screamed “NO” I didn’t want to do this I shouldn’t have to do this. With the love and support of our family Callum was born into the world where he would know no hate, only love. Placed on my chest over my breast where my heart beat could be heard across the room. I immediately fell in love with this beautiful baby boy. He was gone to be with the lord while I lay there taking in every single detail of his little tiny body. His hair so thick and dark a little button nose and 10 fingers and toes. He was perfect. TOO perfect! My son, my angel my everything taken too soon! I will always love and honour my sweet angel!

Tomorrow he would be 6 years old at 01:10. Love you my baby! To the moon and back!!

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David Cassidy’s final words: “So much wasted time.” Sunday random thoughts…by Chuck Duboff

 

wow

© Chuck Duboff

Katie Cassidy shared her father David Cassidy’s last words on Twitter Friday afternoon:

“Words cant express the solace our family’s received from all the love & support during this trying time. My father’s last words were ‘So much wasted time’. This will be a daily reminder for me to share my gratitude with those I love as to never waste another minute….thank you,” Katie Cassidy tweeted.

Cassidy

  • So much fun watching Ben’s hockey game yesterday…9/10 year olds, playing really exciting hockey!!
  • Time magazine called and said I’d probably be the Man of the Year, but I had to decline since I’ll be busy shovelling snow and slicing potatoes.

    T

  • Listening to Matthew talk about the trip he is planning for the holidays…makes me so daymn proud.
  • Jets are in for their toughest stretch of hockey…on and off of planes, changing time zones…there’s no way we can keep up the pace we’ve been playing…but, you know, the critics, the trolls will come out…we’ve banked a lot of points, relax everyone.
  • Laine and Ben are so blessed with parents like Carly and Chris who do so very much for them…what a beautiful family.
  • Not that I’m counting, but just 79 more sleeps till Puerto Vallarta.
  • “So much wasted time.”  David Cassidy.
  • Brian Pallister: The Grinch who stole Christmas.
  • The only thing that has surprised me about Herr Trump is that he has not been impeached yet; I truly believed he’d be out of office by now.  Everything else, I saw it all coming.
  • Sad when the Russian puppet criticizes a black athlete for taking a knee, but at the same time supports an Alabama politician running for Senate who raped a 14 year old girl.
  • Threatens his wife with a loaded gun, terrible father to his boys, stated that Hitler did some good things and that there are too many blacks in the United States.  So conflicted as to why we honour a man like this.
  • Hard to believe Patrik Laine is only 19 years old.
  • Interesting observation by both Geoff and myself…Laine skates like Frank Mahovolich  did…big heavy strides.
  • Watching the pain my mom is in while trying to walk…heartbreaking.
  • Do we “grandfather” actions which we did many years ago when societies standards were so different?
  • Malcom Young passing away really shook me…it’s easy to say 64 is young, but, in fact, the body and mind start to slow down, no matter what you do.  Rest in peace Malcom…your music brought so much fun!!

As I enter the top of the 8th, the reality of where I am in life is clear…by Chuck Duboff

life-stages

 

“And I have no control over which yesterdays I keep and which ones get deleted.”
From the book: Still Alice

© Chuck Duboff

Jethro Tull playing Minstrels in the Gallery, hot Green Tea, bottle of water and a beautiful leather recliner.

I am feeling very lucid and of clear mind today, as I sit down to write and share at a very deep level.

Malcom Young, founder and main song writer for AC/DC, passed away Saturday morning at 64 years of age; he had suffered from dementia for the past three years.  That’s right, 64 years old.  In just 41 days I will be turning 64 and will be reminded of the Beatles singing “When I’m 64”, and Malcom passing away.  I was in my early teens when the Beatles wrote an outlandish song about the notion of being 64 years old.  Malcom and the boys have rocked my world everyday when I workout and yet here they are passing on at an age which strikes home, which forces me to accept the reality of my stage in life.

It’s the top of the eighth inning Chuck.  Your contemporaries are passing away…these past few months have seen Tom Petty, Gord Downie and Greg Allman pass away.  Last year it was David Bowie, Glenn Fry, Prince, Leonard Cohen and so many more.  The reality which I face now is that I am old and that my time is short.

My kids, Carly and Matthew, are living a wonderful life, with Carly turning 40  in just a few weeks and Matt a healthy 38.  Laine and Ben are no longer little babies who need my attention…they are busy with hockey games and practices, soccer games and practices, friends and friends birthday parties.  This is all great and I wouldn’t wish it any other way…yet, it does mean, less time with all of them.

It’s been several years now since a very difficult ending to a painful, roller coaster relationship with Tannis.  Since then, I have had little to no interest in an ongoing relationship.  I am much more content being on my own, than trying to fit a square peg into a round hole.  Should someone special appear in my life, that would be wonderful and I will embrace it with gratitude, but for now, being single is much more peaceful.

I think of all the hours and the passion I put into promoting Human Rights; it inspired me and I believe I was able to pass that on to so many students whom I worked with.  Today…I don’t have the energy, the will, to be the spokesperson for Human Rights I once was…I use this blog as my way of promoting human rights and fighting racism.

I’ve been exercising six days a week since 1985, when I was coaching high school football.  To this day I still head down to the gym in my condo, six days a week.  I know it’s been good for me, but, the reality is that I don’t have the same drive that I used to have for my workout.  It is, quite simply, the aging process.  I used to be fired up to workout, yet today, that same testosterone is no longer there and it is beyond frustrating.

If you have been reading this far, then I ask that you prepare for some unsettling sharing.  I know my memory is really, really starting to go…at a scary pace.  I know that at this age there is little that can be done, other than trying to keep the brain as active as possible.  I try to write blogs as much as I can..some days when I am feeling quite lucid (like today) I am still proud of my writing, yet other days, my writing is that of a simpleton.  I used to win spelling competitions and rarely made any spelling mistakes…yet, even as I write this, I am constantly correcting my spelling.  It frustrates.

I have had season tickets to the Bombers, Jets and Goldeyes for as long as I can remember.  I have been fortunate to have been able to afford all of these tickets, very fortunate.  Bombers season tix go back to when I was in high school in the early ’70’s; the same goes for Jets tix starting in the early ’70’s when Hull signed at Portage and Main.  When the Goldeyes were reborn in 1994, it was every game for this guy.

This next part is hard to write, but it is the truth of where I am at in my life.  No longer do I have an insatiable desire to go to games.  I am just as content watching the Bombers on my 4k 65 inch big screen; rather than going to Goldeyes games, I am just as happy watching the Yankees on the MLB Network on my big screen.  As for the Jets, there is still some fire there, but not like it once was.  I am just as happy watching on the big screen with Denis Beyak…I can see myself cutting down to a much smaller amount of games that I attend.  (presently 32 per season).  It is the stage of life I am now in and the reality which I must accept.  I’ll hopefully be able to hold onto the memory of being a loud, wild fan for the Bombers, Goldeyes and Jets…sure had a great time…

I am so very tired of Twitter; I cannot stomach the rudeness, the trolls, the baiting.  I lived my life without Instagram and see little use in it other that bravado…Facebook seems to have some redeeming qualities…but…especially twitter…it is time to say bye, bye…

I am going back to the reading which I used to consume at a meteoric rate;  it is time to sit back and read Hemingway, Dickens, Hugo, Shakespeare, Ludlum and that literature which filled my soul.  I know I have to concentrate much more when I am reading than I used to…but before it is too late, I want to enjoy the beauty of the writing which the great authors gave us.

This is my reality.  I have passed through many stages and this is where I am, content with the simplicity of life.  Soon I will be heading back to Puerto Vallarta for a winter break…I used to be such a party animal when I was down in Cuba, Cancun, Playa del Carmen…one woman after another, partying till all hours of the night, yet, today, when I go down there for a few weeks, I am quite content lying on the beach, by the pool, listening to my music, running the beaches and enjoying the breath taking scenery.

There is a wonderful sense of clarity as I write this, almost a weight off my shoulders.  This reality has been knocking on my door for quite a while…the acceptance, a relief.

William Shakespeare wrote the following in his play: As You Like It; he quite succinctly describes the seven stages of life:

All the world’s a stage,
And all the men and women merely players;
They have their exits and their entrances,
And one man in his time plays many parts,
His acts being seven ages. At first, the infant,
Mewling and puking in the nurse’s arms.
Then the whining schoolboy, with his satchel
And shining morning face, creeping like snail
Unwillingly to school. And then the lover,
Sighing like furnace, with a woeful ballad
Made to his mistress’ eyebrow. Then a soldier,
Full of strange oaths and bearded like the pard,
Jealous in honor, sudden and quick in quarrel,
Seeking the bubble reputation
Even in the cannon’s mouth. And then the justice,
In fair round belly with good capon lined,
With eyes severe and beard of formal cut,
Full of wise saws and modern instances;
And so he plays his part. The sixth age shifts
Into the lean and slippered pantaloon,
With spectacles on nose and pouch on side;
His youthful hose, well saved, a world too wide
For his shrunk shank, and his big manly voice,
Turning again toward childish treble, pipes
And whistles in his sound. Last scene of all,
That ends this strange eventful history,
Is second childishness and mere oblivion,
Sans teeth, sans eyes, sans taste, sans everything.

 

I thank you for taking the team to read this: if you are family, if you are a friend, if you are a stranger…your words mean a lot…as I go through this next stage of life!!

 

Thursday morning random thoughts…by Chuck Duboff

© Chuck Duboff

Dylan stage

  • Thank you Mr. Dylan for a great show…best you’ve done in years!!  The songs and lyrics were clearly recognizable…and you got me with Highway 61, that was awesome!!
  • Did I happen to mention that my grandson Ben is an absolute baseball freak!!  He’s 8 years old and can tell you who every player is, what team he is on and the position he plays…sounds like his Zaida Chuck!!
  • Bombers’ QB Matt Nichols needs a bounce back game tonight…big time!!  I’m a fan of his, but were he to have a second bad game in a row, the doubt would start creeping in for all fans.
  • Speaking of creep…Donald Trump, you bloated megalomanic, you gonna throw Don Jr. under the bus to take the rap for you…or will it be Jared Kushner!!  God knows that if you throw “that Jew” Kushner under the bus, your KKK base will be thrilled!!
  • Last summer it was Tavern United and the Tragically HIp with Carly and Matt, while last night we hit Tavern first and then enjoyed Bob Dylan together…doesn’t get much better than enjoying one of your music icons with your two grown kids!!
    Pic with Car and Matt
  • I couldn’t be more thrilled than to have bought an Aaron Judge jersey…while wearing it, the little kid in me comes out, imagining myself slugging home runs for my New York Yankees.  Watching him break Joe DiMaggio’s rookie season HR record and then watching him with the HR Derby with Laine and Ben…priceless, just priceless.

     

  • Geoff and I had a nice long chat about the Jets the other day…and the fact that our window to win is quite small; we are going to have to be putting out big money to Trouba, Morrisey, Laine and Ehlers; fitting that all under the salary cap is going to be tough.  Chicago hasn’t won anything since signing Toews and Kane to long term deals.  Winning is paramount this season…and that’s why Chevy is referring to “winning now” in his interviews.  Both he and Maurice know, now is the time to win.
  • Brian Pallister…you heartless, lying human being.
  • brian-pallister-nurse-001 (1)
  • Goldeyes seem to be getting on a role…but Forney better track down some rookies…that bench is looking very thin right now.
  • Bomber game tonight, then family parties Friday and Saturday night…one busy summer!!
  • There are times when you just need to move on from certain friends…they had a time and place in your life, but no longer are they a positive.  You let go and move on.
  • Thanks Jono for the long talk and caring.
  • So very cool watching True North Square coming up in the heart of downtown…what an exciting change it will be when completed.
    TNSquare
  • It’s sad when certain Americans move up to Canada and then try and impose their Donald Trump values upon us…you’re entitled to your opinion, but racist rhetoric belongs in your homeland with Herr Trump.
  • Thank you Carly and Matt…that was one great night together…love you both so very much and couldn’t be prouder of the adults you have grown into!!
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On the pitcher’s mound…life flashes by; by Chuck Duboff

pitcher's mound

 

© Chuck Duboff

Alone,
The pitcher’s mound
My solitude.

I lay there,
Deep in thought
50 years have passed.

In wonderment,
I attempt to process
A life.

A toddler,
Forever afraid
Baseball my escape.

Teenage years,
Lost, finding self
Batting averages…nirvana.

Suddenly married,
Self loathing
Billy and George entertain.

Two wonderful kids,
Yet, my programming sabotages…
With only baseball to hold onto.

Alone yet again,
Adventure, recklessness, anger
Muted by the Core Four.

The pitcher’s mound,
Chuck, Matthew and Ben…
Slowly I find myself.

Ben pitches and I smile,
Matthew shoots pics and it feels good…
Baseball, my life

Ben pitching.

 

Saturday morning random thoughts…from elevators to Goldeyes training camp to Aaron Judge; by Chuck Duboff

© Chuck Duboff

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  • 12 Freakin days with no elevator service…seriously, 12 days!!  Well done Towers Realty, well done!!  8 flights of stairs, 2, 3, 4 times a day…for 12 freakin days!!
  • Forecast for this week looks awesome!!
  • One week from today the Winnipeg Goldeyes start training camp!!  Sweeet!!
    Goldeyes 2
  • 12 Freakin days Towers Realty, 12 freakin days!!!
  • Today marks 100 days of the Trump Gong Show…if somebody had made this administration as a movie…nobody would have believed it!!  You’ve gotta watch this Simpsons preview for Sunday nights show!!
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Qo3fT0xPeHs
  • Aaron Judge of the New York Yankees is the real deal; when he crushes one, it is a reminder of the Mick himself; the kid is humble, talented and will be a fixture in right field for years to come!!
  • Not sure who will be playing SS this season for the Goldeyes…key position…or perhaps it’ll be Casio Grider or Wes Darvill
  • Left half my groceries in the car yesterday afternoon…all the perishables…thinking I’d have elevators to bring them up with today.   12 Freakin Days Towers Realty.
  • Feels great helping your kids out…indescribable…Love you Carly and Matt…so very much.
  • Workouts have been fantastic lately…have started a new circuit the last few weeks…treadmill, then elliptical, then bike, then rowing machine…followed with weights for about 20 minutes.
  • Chevy sits idly by and Carolina pulls off a trade getting Scott Darling from the Black Hawks…when will we ever see a bold move Chevy?
  • It’s so great having MLB TV…I think I’ve only missed two Yankees games this year…and when they have a day off or I’m just in the mood for a ballgame…I have 15 other ones to choose from…Technology today is amazing.
  • 12 Freakin Days!!!!  ….don’t tell me to chill…try hauling groceries…first a long walk from the car to the stairs…and then it’s up 8 flights of stairs with groceries.
  • I think Goldeyes mgr Rick Forney has put together a great starting pitching staff…will be interesting to see what our bullpen looks like.
    forney
  • Going to head down soon for another great workout…and with this great weather may head out for a nice, long hike this afternoon.
  • …and so they say…we only go through this journey called life one time…try new things…gets tedious and kinda boring…and you miss out on so much…love the look of this guy…and so, I’m going to try and get this look…see how it turns out..nothing to lose…what’s the worst that could happen…I look twenty years older…LOL
    FullSizeRender (15)

It was one of those “moments”…filled with joy; playing catch with Ben…by Chuck Duboff

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Playing catch with Ben.

One hour of playing catch with my grandson Ben.  He asked me questions about pitching and I explained to him: “extend your left leg, look at the glove you’re throwing to, slow your pitching motion down” and he soaked it all in.  With every pitch his accuracy got better and the pop in the glove was crisp and loud

It seemed like mere moments ago that Matthew and I were doing the same thing; playing catch, pitching, enjoying our team winning a championship.

It felt like five minutes ago that I was pitching on the “Giants” little league team; throwing a no hitter, playing short stop and my only ability as a hitter, being able to drop down a great bunt.

Not sure where all the time went, but I know I’m blessed to be able to go out and play catch with Ben…and him so deeply engrossed in learning the nuances of the game.  After about an hour of throwing, I said to him:  “You’d do this all night, wouldn’t you?”  His response was simple and to the point: “Yes”  He sure got the baseball gene from his dad Chris and from his Zaida Chuck…

I spoke earlier in the week about those “moments” in life that fill your heart with joy…that answer the question: “what’s it all about?”  Well, for one hour yesterday the answer was right in front of me…the sheer joy of playing catch with Ben, that’s what it’s all about!!

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“I have to slow my pitching motion down like Aaron Sanchez does Zaida.”

Those moments…awareness prevails. By Chuck Duboff

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© Chuck Duboff

Those Moments…Awareness Prevails

What does it all mean?
What’s the point?
When will we understand?

It’s in the moments
That fill your soul
With a joy
Unexplained.

The warmth of a hug,
A genuine smile,
Kindness expressed,
Love shared.

It’s a child…
Holding you tight;
The grass…
A lush, brilliant green;
A song…
Perfect in every way.

There’s no book,
Course,
Tutorial,
Lecture…
To explain those moments.

When your soul
Is overcome
With a happiness,
Real and profound…

That’s what it’s all about,
No grand announcement,
No cataclysmic event.

It’s being aware,
Genuinely alive…
To the here…
To the now…

That my friend
Is what it’s all about.

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Saturday Morning Random Thoughts; by Chuck Duboff

VACATION TRAVEL BEST OF THE MIDWEST

“Is this heaven, no it’s Iowa.”  Field of Dreams.

© Chuck Duboff

  • It’s March, the month in which Manitobans can experience all four seasons in one day!!!
  • Big shout out to the Winnipeg Jets for the support they gave to Tyler Myers and his family during a very difficult time.  If you haven’t seen this video, take a few minutes…it’s a reminder of what is important in life:
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kKAzXhxc1zk
  • Moments of clarity are fleeting; yesterday afternoon and evening provided me with a peacefulness and understanding rarely felt; it was tangible and quite a new feeling.  Grateful for those moments.
  • Though the Jets won’t make the playoffs this season, wins at any time of the year are part of the growth process…I would like to see Roslavic and Conner called up for the balance of the season in order to get a feel for hockey at the next level.Ros
  • So Brian Pallister takes two month winter holidays to Costa Rica; took a 20% pay increase last year…and now he is gutting and slashing every program in Manitoba. Hope everybody is enjoying the PST going down from 8% to 7%!!!  NOT!!
  • What a very special night it was on Thursday evening watching the Jets game with Laine and Ben; non stop commentary, hi jinks, cuddling and just having a great time!!  #grateful.

    Ben, Laine and I playing

    This picture was from the spring the Jets came back to Wpg; 6 years ago and still having fun together!!

  • Watching the World Baseball Classic, it sure makes you appreciate the talent of the players from the Dominican Republic, Venezuala and Puerto Rico; those lineups are power laden…would be interesting to see what would happen if the Mike Trouts and Bryce Harpers of the USA decided to compete.  I think it would take the tournament to another level!!
  • Celebrating mom’s 92nd birthday tomorrow…her children, grandchildren and great grandchildren will all be here!!
    family
  • This brief moment of clarity, in a life so filled with angst and confusion, has given an incredible insight into so much of what I have to be grateful for; though always aware of the good fortune I have in life…there is a real sense today of what all that means.
  • In all my years of being a New York Yankees fan, I have never seen them have a good spring training…I would attribute that to George Steinbrenner and his boys signing star players in their 30’s who take their time to get ready for the season and the Yankees ending up with a poor spring training record.  I looked at the exhibition game standing yesterday, and low and behold there are the Yankees with the best record.  With so many young kids in the lineup trying to prove themselves: Sanchez, Byrd, Judge, etc, suddenly the Yankees are winning games and shining a light on a bright future.  If the Yankees had more depth at starting pitching, they might compete this upcoming season!!
    yankees-spring-training
  • Once again, I love the team that Goldeyes skipper Rick Forney is putting together; I’ve mentioned this a few times, but with each season, it seems like Rick is signing higher calibre players.  I’m sure his connections to organizations have increased dramatically over the years and he is able to sign the type of player that he is looking for…training camp can’t start soon enough!!
  • Doofus head meets with German Chancellor Angela Merkel; she with a PHD in Physics, he just finishing reading Dick and Jane; the misogynistic, serial liar makes more unfounded claims about wiretapping, but ups it one more by claiming that Merkel was also wiretapped; she looks at the media with a “who the fuck is this bozo?” kinda look:
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  • There is always one benefit to the Jets not making the playoffs; I budget money all season for possible playoff tickets.  Once it became clear that playoffs were not in the picture for this spring…I went ahead and booked “my cabin” in Falcon lake for five days in May…filled with such gratitude that I am in a position to take another holiday this spring:

Straps and demeaning words leave life long scars…by Chuck Duboff

©Chuck Duboff

I was always afraid.  My mom would finish her wooden spoon ritual, a few more nails broken on my fingers and then she’d utter the words “wait until your father gets home…” Try going to school feeling fear all day; try concentrating on the provinces and their capitals, while at the same time worrying about getting the strap from dad.  What was it this time? I only got a B+ on a subject rather than an A…that certainly warranted the wrath of the strap.

I was always afraid.  “Do you think money grows on trees?  Who do you think you are going out with girls and spending money?”  Nothing I ever did was deemed acceptable.  School not good enough.  “you’re too fat, we have to buy you special clothes.”  Too fat, too “stupid”, waster of money, “you’ll eat that food the way it’s made, I don’t care what you like”

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I’d escape into baseball.  I’d read magazines, create my own games and leagues.  It was my temporary escape from the insanity of my house.  I’d be the shortstop for the New York Yankees for a few hours; I’d be the starting pitcher in the World Series.  Baseball helped me to escape.  My body would be in horror “waiting for your father to get home.” while I dreamed of being Mickey Mantle.

When he’d get home, I’d hide in terror in my room.  Sometimes under the blankets, other times just lying staring at the ceiling waiting once again for the punishment.  Some nights he’d be too tired to come in and destroy me, while other nights he’d enter and unleash his frustrations and failures upon me.  I cried for hours and hours and hours.  There never seemed to be an end to it.

Fast forward five decades; “now you know why I am so fucked up Carly”  To this day I feel the pain, the hurt, the worthlessness of those terror filled nights; those demeaning hurtful comments which are seared into my soul. “you’ll drive me to Selkirk”  I walk around aimlessly filled with the question: “Why, what did I ever do…” I always tried to behave, to be the good son, but even today it doesn’t matter what I do.  I am still begrudged any happiness…”why would your student get up at 3 in the morning and drive you to the airport?”  Maybe because my students saw the good side of me that you and dad never did mom.

Your straps and mean words forever scared me…and I still live with that pain today.

Not a baseball story, but rather, a Winnipeg baseball fan courageously shares a very painful part of his life…by Josh Alen.

© Chuck Duboff

Editor’s Note: I have known Josh from a distance at Goldeyes games; he has always seemed like a very devoted fan…yet, I didn’t really know him.
Josh regularly reads my Goldeyes blogs and leaves commentary.  I was very impressed with this young man, yet still, I didn’t know his story.  Little pieces would come out, but it was still a puzzle.
Recently Josh posted some very personal thoughts on Facebook about the challenges he has faced in life.  I reached out to him and asked if he’d like to share his story on the blog…I sensed at first some hesitation, but with time and thought, Josh eagerly agreed to share his story.
What follows is the story of a transgender youth trying to find himself.
Well done Josh…very proud of you for having the courage to write this.  I know Luis Alen is proud of you also…as are all your friends and Goldeyes family.

 

© Josh Alen

Sometime in the spring of 2007, my local indy-league baseball team brought a rookie bat catcher onto the roster, a little guy from South America with decent numbers. His name was Luis Alen, and I guess that’s where this story starts.

I didn’t know the first thing about baseball back then. I followed the Winnipeg Goldeyes casually, solely because they were the hometown ball club. That changed pretty quickly after that signing.

You know that feeling when something happens, and you feel a click, as if to say this is going to be important? That’s the feeling I got, reading that press release.
It would end up being six years before I got to see that kid from Venezuela play a game in person, but man, was it ever worth the wait.

I went to my first Goldeyes game on March 18th of 2008, my first words? “Where’s Alen?”
“Oh, he doesn’t play for us anymore.” I was told.
Needless to say, that was a disappointing summer. I didn’t end up going back for a while, but the reasons were unrelated.

In May of 2012, I was reeling from years’ of mental illnesses, abuse trauma, and a couple failed suicide attempts.
I didn’t want to live anymore, let alone go to a baseball game. I did anyway.
It was the 30th, just days before my nineteenth birthday. The night was warm, the breeze was perfect, and the sunset was one of the more beautiful ones I’d seen in a while. I didn’t know it at the time, but it would end up being the first day of the rest of my life.

“Just one game” I’d said.
That “one game” ended up being close to fifteen or twenty by the time September rolled around, and turned into becoming a season ticket holder by age twenty-one.
I don’t remember much about the 2012 season,
I remember that first game though. I remember finally seeing Luis in person, I remember seeing him interact with fans, how kind and sweet he was, how genuine he seemed, I remember watching him walk up to bat. It was like being a kid on Christmas morning again. I remember watching him hit, hit after hit, after hit…it’d be a while before I saw him strike out. He was a genius behind the plate too, called the game like few others.
That game set the stage for the coming years. I don’t remember if we won or not, it wasn’t important. I remember feeling, a certain safety, a sense of home (there was that click again).
I’d continue to feel that throughout the rest of the year, as I became more familiar with the team that was quite quickly becoming mine.


Everything was so new, and so fun, getting to know some regular fans, some of the staff, and some of the players themselves.
It was refreshing to have something to look forward to, something exciting, that was bringing me out of my shell after so long; the championship run that fall certainly didn’t hurt either.
Still, the best part of that first summer was watching, awe-struck every time #18 walked past, or went up to the plate.


That would be the case every year. I’ll never know exactly why, but nothing else ever seemed to matter quite as much. Maybe it was simply how good he was on the field. Maybe it was how he carried himself as a professional athlete, or how humble he was. Though it could have been that in getting to know him I’d come to find that the kind, gentle soul I’d seen interacting with kids on that night in May wasn’t the same act that most athletes put on to impress; but in fact just who he was. It was likely a combination of all those things, mixed with a little of the world’s best hugs.

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Whatever it was, it kept me coming back, not just in 2012; but every year that followed.
Life didn’t just magically get better after one summer, no. That has been a lengthy process that has lasted up until this day, and will continue for as long as I live.
There has been hurt, there has been heartache, there have been more mental illnesses, there have been my first steps in the world as a transgender male, there has been loss, so, much loss.
Though, no matter the mud that I’ve been dragged through, no matter how far past rock bottom I’ve sank, there has always been a light at the end of the tunnel, I’ve always had my boys. Even when I didn’t have “my” boys, even when every other player I’d liked had left for whatever reasons, when a large portion of the friends I’d made in years past had decided to not return; there was always, my catcher. That was what got me through even the darkest nights and back through the doors of my beloved ballpark every spring.

Until one day, he wasn’t anymore.

That’s when it became real.
That was the point which I had to sit back, and reflect on the years I’d spent telling myself that this one, amazing player had kept me coming back long enough to love a team that I kept claiming saved my life. I came to a crossroads at which I was forced to look at whether or not those claims were true, or if they were just the rugs under which I’d been sweeping my problems.
It was agonizing, to say the very least.
I was convinced that I didn’t have a chance in hell at recovering from the loss of the person who’d been there from the very beginning, who was the catalyst for all the friendships, all the happy memories, the person who none of this could be at all without.
I did have a chance though, after months of self-destruction and doubt I overcame, and I conquered with such tenacity that even as I write this a year later, I still cannot fathom.
I spent the last three hundred and sixty five plus days moving one of the most enormous mountains that life has ever dropped in front of me.
I didn’t do it alone though, not for a single second.

On a frigid, January morning the safe, familiar home that I’d built for myself burst into flames, and burned to the ground; leaving me buried so far beneath the rubble that I was rendered virtually unrecognizable. At the time I was thought that everything I’d come to know was over, when in reality it was just beginning. Slowly, everything that I had gained from the interest in baseball that a catcher had sparked a decade prior started to unfold everywhere I looked. All the happiness that reminded me of why I started this chapter to begin with, the memories that I’d miss making, the love that would be left over with nowhere to go should I make good on my “resignation” from my Goldeyes, the friendships that I’d come to cherish that would likely be lost.
That last one was the most important, and ultimately what has gotten me to the place I am in right now.

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The friends that I had made and continue to make, the people who found the multiple feet of rubble, and chipped away to find me at the bottom. The people who pulled me out, and dusted me off, the people who held me up and showed me not only how to stand again, but how to walk on my own; those who stood on all sides of me, and picked me up every time I fell, every time I still fall. The people who believed in me, who loved me until I could be myself again, the people who ended up showing me what it meant to belong, and to be truly accepted.
The people who I would never have met, had it not been for the love I developed for that rookie catcher from Venezuela, who I’ve now come to call My King.

I will not forget the bad that came with this last year.
The sheer terror on that morning, the devastation I felt when walking away seemed like the best and only option, or the weeks I spent lying awake at night, most of the time fairly intoxicated.
However, I will also not forget the good.
The leaps and bounds I made towards recovery after so many years, the obstacles that I laughed in the face of, as I surmounted them.
The night before my twenty-third birthday; on which I summoned the courage to tell the man that started this all, a watered-down version of this story. The same night that I asked him for his blessing to take his last name as my own (I should mention that he said yes, and I’ve never been more proud of anything in my all my years).
The new people I met along the way that help each and every day to shape me into the man that I hope to eventually become.
Oh, and the championship run at the end of this season wasn’t too shabby either.

14424708_258700601196799_3623375460493997764_oI have learned so much about the mental strength that I did not know I possessed, about perseverance, and resiliency. I’ve learned what it means to truly love, and to be truly loved.
I’ve learned about taking risks, and making the most of every precious moment you’re given, how not a single one of those moments should be taken for granted, and making damn sure that you tell the ones you love that you love them while you still have the chance.

I’ve had proven to me the meaning of fate, and destiny. I learned to trust that click, to trust the feeling of this was meant to be. If something screams “this is your purpose, this is what you were meant to find” for a decade, you should probably stop being stubborn and just listen.

I am finally on a road to a real, and long-lasting recovery after over a decade of suffering, I am on a path to becoming the most authentic me I can possibly be; none of which could be possible without the environment that a small sports organization in downtown Winnipeg creates for their fans

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Sometime in the spring of 2007, my local independent-league baseball club signed a soft-spoken, catcher, with a heart of gold, and one of the most beautiful souls this world will ever know. His name was Luis Alen; and he, along with his team changed my life forever.

Aura & Ancient Steps…new poetry by Geoff Brookes

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© Geoff Brookes

Aura

Ambling bobs with short right steps,

Courtney’s weight rests on her left,

Lagging, like a spirit’s quest,

Her sister, brother, more adept.

Her father traces close beside. 

Eyes follow source of restful sound,

Where waters over boulders slide.

Upstream, boats rest over ground.

The kayaks’ colours fade in glare,

Casting light, absorbing heat,

Their aura beckons like a dare,

Challenging to hero’s feat.

Omega dog to water leaps,

Splashing in the shallow shade.

Alpha fiddles with the keys.

In border sand, the vessels laid.

Courtney smiles at sister’s chants – 

Cheerful rhymes of never-land.

Forgetful of her fearful chance,

Strides gunwhale, with her father’s hand.

He slips the kayak, floating now, 

And angles hips along the stern.

Mother smiles and shoves the prow.

Drifting back, he pauses, turns,

And waits, while swimmers navigate

This place where lake and creek repose.

Mom launches next while “Hils” creates

A commentary Courtney knows.

To peals of laughter, Sean partakes

With paddling pet pulled into boat.

He hugs, retreats, as canine shakes.

He pulls the oar – already soaked.

The trio work to gather pace

Against the flow. Courtney yells 

“We’re beating you!”, her gleeful face

A conqueror’s, with joy unveiled.

They set a course for central isle,

With landing rock for boats and crew.

The loons appear, all still awhile –

Silently, their souls renew.

Chastened, scouting isle from lee,

Searching for the landing stone,

Guiding from their memories – 

Patterned legends they have known.

Securing kayak as he can, 

Dad rests it close beside the rock.

Courtney struggles there to stand .

The other boats approach to dock.

Soon all begin again on foot,

Their journey now a shorter trek.

They pick their way through fallen wood.

Sean finds himself a walking stick.

Their destination manifests

In desolated cabin frame.

Opening the broken chests,

They search for clues, or just a name.

And in the bedroom, mirror found,

Old and speckled like a tree.

Courtney gazes, turns around,

Glimpses her eternity.

As they travel back to shore,

Yawns and speeches floating free,

Courtney’s mirror is no more.

Her aura now is plain to see.

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© Geoff Brookes

Ancient steps  

Welcome walk down ancient steps

Crossing craggy cliffs, 

Visit paths so lightly tread,

Descendants of the hills.

Stones underfoot, and formed to walls,

Artfully adjoined,

Spaces small, but still permit

The greenery to flow.

Unbroken for the ages past,

But suddenly a fall –

The path truncated, walls collapsed, 

Narrow steps withal.

Proceeding by the rubble round,

Resuming settled ways,

Chaos charging wonderment – 

The order that remains.

Saturday Morning Random Thoughts (with several important Thank You’s included); by Chuck Duboff

© Chuck Duboff

  • Thank you to Clara Hughes…while laid up in a hospital bed after surgery, she took the time to encourage me through a difficult week.  You are a champion in so many ways Clara…most importantly, you are an inspiration to all of us who face the daily challenge of Depression.  Your being so open about the challenges you face with Mental Health Issues…you make it easier for all of us.clara huges
  • Al and Geoff…thank you for last Monday afternoon.  Thank you.
  • Completed watching Breaking Bad, all 5 seasons, for the third time.  Walter White and Jessie…daymn, it doesn’t get much better.
  • As I said yesterday:  “Winnipeg, where you get up in the morning and check the wind chill, -29, and you go: YES!!…now that’s better.”
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  • I say this to friends and family of those who suffer with Depression; it must be difficult to watch someone you love struggle and make decisions which seem irrational; but, I would ask you to ask yourself this question: “Would someone like Chuck, a supposedly educated man, consciously choose to go through what he went through last week.”  The next time you get frustrated, upset, angry with them for doing something which you can’t understand…ask yourself that question.
  • Given all the injuries the Jets faced in November…and the heavy schedule they were given…it’s amazing they are still at.500…playoffs may be tough…but, I think, if they could beat Buffalo today, making it 3 in a row, they could go on a roll.
  • Think about this: Scheifele, Ehlers and Laine…just those three, 51 GOALS!!!!!
  • The beaches of Puerto Vallarta, the ocean, the mountains, the hot sun…are now within my getting excited time!!!  Two weeks away from this frozen city!!!
  • In the midst of a very difficult birthday on January 1st, the birthday wishes kept pouring in on Facebook…don’t have the words to express what that day felt like, but I do want to thank those that took the time to send their birthday wishes.
  • The Russians, Vladamir Putin, manipulating the American election, is beyond believable…if a direct link to Trump’s campaign is exposed…Trump should be tried for treason and there should be a re-election.  Woodward and Bernstein…go get ’em boys!!
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  • These two leaders are destroying the very foundation of Democracy.
  • Watched the Secret Life of Pets with Laine and Ben; man did I ever enjoy that!!
  • Bell Lets Talk…January 25…a day of discussion and understanding about Mental Health Issues…leaders like Clara Hughes and Michael Landsberg, who face the daily challenges, have been courageous in bringing this debilitating medical issue to light.
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  • Thursday evening, December 29th, I went to the Jets game with Laine; we had a fantastic time; came home in a great mood.  Woke up Friday morning, December 30th; within minutes, I knew!!  I felt it!!  Ten minutes later I wrote this blog; reading it now, it just blows my mind how the Devil (Depression) can take hold and not let go.  https://chuckduboff.com/2016/12/30/the-devils-death-grip-by-chuck-duboff/
  • Brian Pallister, hope you’re having fun down in Costa Rica plotting more ways you can cut jobs, salaries, services in Manitoba.
  • Been in a Led Zeppelin headspace for weeks now…Page, Plant, Jones and Bonham!!led-zeppelin-ii-1400175028
  • Thank you Al; thank you Geoff; thank you Clara.  I’m writing today, because the three of you took the time to be there for me.
  • Al inscribed the copy of his book, Saskatchewan Farm Boy, that he gave me; some important words were said: … “the best and longest of friends are those who accept each other for what they are.”
  • This is classic, couldn’t resist:esl

Saturday Morning, pre-blizzard, random thoughts; by Chuck Duboff

© Chuck Duboff

  • Get ready Winnipeg, it looks like we are in for one whopper of a blizzard.  If it’s going to hit us, don’t be a half assed blizzard…shut the city down for a few days.  Now that’s a blizzard.
  • That being said…February 15th can’t come fast enough for me.
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  • It has been fascinating seeing the computer models tracking this storm for almost a week and they pretty much have nailed it.
  • Wishing all my friends in Winnipeg, across Canada, the US, Mexico, Cuba, Spain and anywhere else I’ve missed…a very Happy Chanukah and Merry Christmas.
  • Congratulations to my friend Al Bryski, who sold out the initial  printing of his just released first book: Saskatchewan Farm Boy.  A second printing is underway and copies will be available for purchase at McNally Robinson.
  • Watching Mark Scheifele, Patrik Laine and Nik Ehlers play together, takes me back to the days of Hull, Hedberg and Nillson…Ehlers first goal Thursday reminded me so very much of Hedberg flying down the right wing and scoring on a fabulous wrist shot:      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bbUd2VNpgs0
  • Nice being able to help out former students in whatever way possible.
  • Interesting to see discussions which occur following the publishing of a blog; it’s pretty easy by now to tell which readers will respond and what their attitudes will be.
  • Donald Trump: taking the United States back to the 1950’s.
  • Please explain to me the love affair with a despot like Vladamir Putin.
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  • Kind of surreal that I have a daughter who is now 39 years old; hard to process…but so very blessed to have her in my life.
  • Really enjoying reading the Bryan Cranston autobiography; what an interesting man.
  • 2016…you have royally sucked!!!!  Leave Carrie Fischer alone…get well soon Ms. Fischer.
  • As I have said to many…the last 21 minutes of the Jets win over Vancouver this past Thursday evening…that team could beat anybody!!  The young guns taking over the team; think about this…the Jets first goal of the game:  Trouba passes to Scheif who passes to Ehlers who passes to Laine for another electric goal.  Those are four first round picks by the Jets folks…how exciting is that.  Now if Coach Maurice could just find a way to get the team to play 60 minute hockey.  We need a long winning streak to get the confidence to another level.
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  • The Miriam-Webster Dictionary definition of megalomaniaa delusional mental disorder that is marked by feelings of personal omnipotence and grandeur.  If this doesn’t describe Donald Trump, I don’t know what does.  Watching what is unfolding right now with Trump and Putin is so very reminiscent of the 1930’s…it’s time for the world to wake up.
  • Pitchers and catchers report to spring training on February 15th.
  • Though it causes one to pause, at times we must purge people from our lives…those who contribute nothing and only bring you down…bye, bye.  I’d rather have a small strong circle of friends, than a flimsy circle of inconvenient acquaintances.
  • Time to head down to the gym for 45 minutes weights and 45 on treadmill!!
  • INVITATION: January 1st, New Year’s Day…my birthday; it is a tradition on this day to have family and friends over for birthday cake…I’d like to extend an invitation to any of my wonderful friends to join us that afternoon at my condo…let me know and i can get you my address; I know my friend Al and I will be toasting the New Year with a shot of some special Tequila I brought home last winter.  Look forward to seeing you next Sunday…and saying goodbye to the nightmare that was: 2016!!happy-new-year-party-banner-2017