Death’s Door

It is with heavy heart that I sit today in this comfortable, cushioned seat, cranking out another column, a weekly chore performed for most of my waning 35-year Recorder career.

Many things, some I can’t get into but would love to, are distracting my focus, potentially threatening my health. But I’ll get through it. I’m a strong man, have been backed into many corners over the years and always come out to live another day. That won’t change. Though 60, I feel like I’m still at the top of my game; in fact, still peaking, boldly confident and bulletproof to insult, fear or intimidation. I’ll figure things out. Sometimes you must get creative, which has never been a problem for me. In fact, I’d rather be creative, regardless of frothy screams from the Penrick rabble. Who are they, anyway?

Most immobilizing to me today is son Rynie’s dire situation. Trapped at death’s door in Baystate-Springfield ICU since Sunday, he’s battling for his young life, losing to staph infection that contributed to the death of his older brother, my namesake, three years ago. Maybe he’ll survive it, probably not. Either way I must go on, continuing to place one foot in front of the other, moving forward for him and me. I am proud of the hospital bravery he’s displayed. His worst detractors couldn’t come close to matching it. After regaining his wits and finally breathing on his own Tuesday afternoon, he tearlessly informed my wife that he doesn’t expect to ever again see his apartment. I am proud of his courage in the face of death, a strain many of the so-called heroes with whom he’s tangled will call their own. No, they’re bullies, prefer to have it their way, with all factors heavily weighted in their favor.

Rynie and I have both been down this road before and would not wish it upon anyone, even those we hate and hold not a speck of respect for. Those folks are, to us, already dead, stagnant, smelly water oozing over a broken, mossy dams. I will get through this crisis, learn from it and move on, always trying to glean something new and positive from this special place I call home — where my DNA’s scattered in every crevice, reaching throughout the Connecticut Valley and its hills, into the New England coast and hinterlands, and far, far beyond.

Enough!  Gotta go.

Back to haunting private thoughts about the sad ordeal of son Rynie, my dear boy who has silently suffered for so long and will likely not see his 29th birthday next week. Mixed in, I guess, will be fleeting, fanciful ponderings about my next stop on the meandering trail: mine.

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8 Responses to Death’s Door

  1. Ed Nartowicz

    Bags,
    You, your son, and your familly will be in my thoughts and prayers as you go through this horrible ordeal. I cannot imagine the terror and pain you are facing and all I can say is keep fighting. It has gotten me through a lot and if your son is anything like you, which I know that he is, I know he is fighting with every breath.
    ENart

  2. It is hopeless, ENart. We’re just waiting for him to pass peacefully.

  3. Joanna Hamlin

    Dear Gary and Joanne, It is with a terribly heavy heart that I write this message. I just now, got the news. As you know, Joanne, I had the special privilege of getting to know Ryan when I worked at DMH in Greenfield. He took on a job, supporting a gentleman with whom I worked. Ryan was a very special young man. The moment I met him, I knew that he was one of the perfect ones, trying to negotiate life in a crazy, unkind world. My heart instantly connected with his and I felt truly honored to know him and to spend time with him. I know that life wasn’t easy for him, but he knew he was loved and was truly fortunate to have such a wonderful family. My heart is broken, for you, your extended family, and for a community who has lost someone who, there is no doubt in my mind, would have made a huge contribution, had he the opportunity and the time. There are no words that can lessen the sorrow. I just want you to know that many of us who knew Ryan, saw the beautiful soul, the beacon of light that he was. With blessings to you and your family, and gratitude for having had the opportunity to share some precious time with such a beautiful young man. Fly, Ryan, fly…there are no limitations anymore.

  4. Thank you, Joanna, for the kind words about our Ryan, misunderstood by most, obviously known by you. Demons that were no fault of his own complicated his life for many years, instilling pain and fear and vulnerability most day on his daily rounds; but he concealed them, refused to use them as an excuse and, above all, Rynie had a kind, empathic and sensitive heart. Unlike many with gilt-framed degrees glittering on the wall behind their desks or medals dangling from gaudy gold chains around their necks for the world to see, he had a platinum soul. The bravery and dignity he displayed over those final dreadful days when he knew the end was near exceeded anything I could ever have imagined. So, take that! detractors; you with the polished, knee-high, black boots, shiny badges and mace cans — abusive louts in positions of power and authority. You folks will never match his valor or endure his pain, which at times reached the threshold of torture, he without so much as a palpable flinch or grimace. Rynie was suffering toward the end but did not want us to share his pain because he knew we loved and had always defended him, and will continue to do so till the day we die. I can’t say I know you, Joanna, but I can say you knew Rynie, and that’s good enough for me. Thank you so much for brightening this melancholy night. He would have turned 29 tomorrow.

  5. Joanna Hamlin

    Dear Gary, Thank you for taking the time to respond and for sharing some more of your thoughts and memories of dear sweet, Ryan. He was so lucky to have a father and mother who understood him, defended him and loved him so. I understand what it is like to raise a son who is sensitive, kind and extremely empathetic and who is tortured by the powers that be, a son who is seriously misunderstood. Unless one walks in these shoes, it is impossible to understand the pain of watching one’s child being treated so unkindly, so badly and being so hurt by others. Please try to take some comfort in knowing that you countered what those others did to him, with your love and understanding. You truly did. Ryan loved his family so very much. He told me so, quite often. Not many teens share that with other adults. He was such a remarkable young man. You were the most important person in Ryan’s life. Those others were meaningless in the scheme of things. It’s taken me a long time to see that with my own son who just turned 30 and who went through a lot of the same experiences as Ryan did. I often think that the reason Ryan and I connected and got a long so well is because he knew that I understood, on a very deep level, what life was like for him. He knew how much I admired him. The pain that these people in power inflict on our children and our families is beyond comprehension. The presumptions and superficial understanding of our teen’s angst and broken hearts is hard to take, as a parent. But Ryan had you and Joanne, and for that he was truly blessed. You are in my thoughts and prayers, today and always. May you always feel Rynie’s presence as he watches over you and holds you in his love, a love that truly transcends our physical realm. Gary Jr and Ryan have only left their bodies. I know that their spirits will be with you, always. Much love and many blessings~

  6. Vanet Uvino

    I am speechless and without words. Such heart break!! Joanna Hamlin wrote my heartfelt feelings. Couldn’t have said my feelings any better. So, so very true. My heart is shattered and can’t imagine what Gary and Joanne are dealing with. You are in my thoughts and prayers all the time. ❤️❤️

  7. kathleen hunter

    OMG, Gary and Joanne,I just read about your son. I am sucker-punched. Empathy. Blessings, Huntress

  8. Yes, Huntress, it sucks and I can’t say we were expecting it. I miss him but I won’t let the loss destroy me, must continue looking to the road in front of me. Thanks for chiming in. Are you still in Conway?

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