Sunday, September 09, 2012


Maria and youngest son Nick at Nick and Kristina's wedding, Sept. 8, 2012

My wonderful, wonderful friend. Maria.

Maria was my neighbor in Patterson, CA, then population 8,000, in the early 1990s. She was then a single mom with three young sons of her own. My first wife Candy used to babysit Maria's sons. Maria and Candy had been friends. After Candy died, in April 1991, I was suddenly a single father with a 180 mile, four hour a day, commute from Patterson to San Jose and back.

Maria became a huge part of my life. She watched my sons, drove my cars, took the kids to school and came and went in my house right up until I moved to San Jose. We were best friends.

Maria would walk in the front door without knocking, that was normal for us. Sometimes she might just walk in and borrow my muffin pans and leave. Other times she would come over with her three boys and she and I would make dinner together with our combined six sons. Like a big family we would all hang out, talk and laugh until bed time for the boys.

She is a wonderful, lively woman. Everybody in Patterson, knew Maria. She has this amazing outgoing down to earth personality that makes folks want to get to know her. Plus, she has this infectious laugh that I could hear from my house, about 200 feet from hers, on warm summer nights when all our windows were open.

Until I met Sue, Maria was the lady of my house. When I met Sue, and Maria met Mike, the family expanded to include our partners and Mike's son Gene.

Leaving all that behind was the hardest part of moving from Patterson to San Jose for me. But, we still remained close friends. Maria did Susie's hair at both our wedding and my middle son Jeff's wedding. I photographed Maria and Mike's wedding.

The funny thing is; I always thought I got the better end of the deal and felt sad that I was not able to give back to her and her kids anywhere near as much as she gave to me and mine. Now, 20 years later, all the boys are grown men. My older sons are now the age I was then.

It was not until September of 2012, when Sue and I went to Maria's youngest son Nick's wedding, that her sons expressed how happy they were to see me and how much I had helped them and how much my sons and our big crazy patched together family we had then still meant to them now. My heart melted and I was in tears.

I could not have made it back then, as a single dad, without my female friends; especially Maria. I love her and always will.

Saturday, September 08, 2012

Halfway to my goal

Some of my friends do not know this, but I used to be 325 pounds. That was around 25 years ago. I started loosing weight as a life choice, literally. The key to me for loosing weight was not just going on a diet and exercising, it was looking inside and coming to grips with the issues that led me to gain the weight in the first place. I had to ask, "why had I chosen to gain the weight?"
That is why most diets fail I think. I think many people, such as me, choose unconsciously to put a layer of insulation as a shield between themselves and the outside world. I remember after I lost the weight feeling terribly exposed and vulnerable; even physically cold.
I remember back in the early 90's, even before the death of my first wife in a car accident, feeling like I was transported to a strange planet. The easy thing to do would have been to go home, to food. Frankly, it was very hard not to. For awhile, especially after the car accident, I was a loose cannon.
Now, here and today: This time my goals are smaller. I am halfway to shedding 34 pounds. But, the process is similar. Because, you see, it is not about how many pounds you have or about eating less and exercising more. That is the process, the tool. In my opinion what you are really doing is changing your life, becoming a different person, recreating your identity and sense of self.
Lacking that, I believe most diets are doomed to fail. Because, I think, they miss the point. It's easier to change your diet than to change yourself.