Ronald D You Are Remembered

Ronald Louis Johannsen

His name was Ronald Louis Johannsen. I called him “Ronald D.” We were buddies from the moment we met. We explored every inch of the nearby forest with our bikes and hiking through it. Climbing the biggest trees was one of our favorite things to do. We didn’t always talk a lot, we really just enjoyed the view wherever we went. Fishing was our next favorite pastime. In all my life that was the only thing that would get me up that early in the morning. I actually hated eating fish and still do but the time I spent together with my friend Ron was one of the few great memories of my childhood.

Ron got his driver’s license before me and we had our first double date together. I believe he had a very attractive young girl named Ann who apparently made a better impression than my young lady as I don’t remember her name. But Ron and Ann certainly stayed together and how he got her to move to Texas I’ll never know.

I actually went to Texas with Ron after we graduated and I couldn’t stand the heat and humidity. I think I preferred the four seasons up here in the Midwest. As usual, life gets in the way and we drifted apart and grew our families and our careers. I was lucky enough to reconnect with Ron a couple of years ago and it sounded as if he had retired and slowed down a bit but I heard the twinkle in his voice when he spoke of his daughters and Ann. I think Ann thought I was a bad influence on him and as it should be, because in life, your wife comes first when you make that commitment. I wish I had the chance to spend more time together with my old friend. I think a lot of people lament on those words but they are true. Happy trails to you my friend until we meet again!


I have mentioned how often “Death” has visited me. My mother-in-law, two brothers-in-law, three of our family dogs, and several close friends. This has been all within the last two years. Prior to that, many other friends and relatives. My father-in-law and my own father were really tough to get through when they passed and I don’t think I’ve even recovered from them. With all this death in my life, you would think a person would get used to it. Maybe shall I say more numb to it. Today my mother enters a hospice program and I write this hoping that by expressing my feelings I will be able to cope with this. My mother is over 90 years of age and has lost her memory and her ability to know where she is.  She hasn’t been herself for a long time.

My father was hospitalized when I was about 11 years old with MS. My mother was left to raise my three sisters and I. He passed away when I was about 20 years old. For years my mother and I use to drive on weekends for about an hour and a half to visit my father. He was in a state hospital where I would see my dad who I didn’t know any more or understand. My mother was tortured (though she didn’t show it) for nine years watching her husband deteriorate and feeling completely helpless in doing anything for him. He would never regain any resemblance to the man he used to be.

When I was about fifteen years old, I ran away to Southern Illinois where a friend was at school. It was a six-hour trip which was quite a distance and I didn’t tell anyone. They found me, and I went home a couple of days later my mother acted like everything was ok. I expected quite a beating but it never happened. About a year ago, I asked her why she didn’t beat the crap out of me. She said she thought it was something I needed to do and didn’t question me at all and knew I would come back when I was ready. I didn’t deserve her, but I thank God I have had her in my life for as long as I have. I have expressed my love to her many times and I know she knows that.

I have watched many people slowly slip away but, none of them were my mother. This show unfolding before me I cannot watch. I am not prepared for it, nor will I ever be.

My Friend My Father

I was at the airport in Atlanta, either coming or going to a convention for the tourism industry and I would hear it. I could be in the middle of the convention exhibit hall and this booming voice would yell out for everyone to hear. “My Son My Son,” the voice would call and I knew who it was. He was my black father, he was Mr. Bill Williams. It was a sight to behold, my black father calling out to his white son. It was the 70’s and Bill and I had formed a strong bond together that wasn’t always appreciated by some people.

The first time my wife met Bill was also a shock in that, I hadn’t mentioned my “father”  to her. She was very curious as this black man called out for his son in the airport approaching me. His glowing praises to her about me, assured her I’m sure that she had chosen the right husband.

Bill and I formed our relationship while creating the Chicago Chapter of the Society of Government Meeting Planners. Bill was with the Chicago Convention Bureau and I was at the Congress Hotel, as a very young sales manager focused on the government market. Bill and I had an appointment one day with a group of Military Veterans to book their convention in Chicago. Our lunch meeting turned into seven hours in the bar with these gentlemen. I don’t think I even gave them a tour of the rooms, I had to leave. But we booked them and many other conventions for the city of Chicago over the years.

Bill had somewhat retired over the last few years but he stopped by almost weekly at our bar and restaurant in Hyde Park and as always, he would exclaim to everyone (which could be up to 100 people) who I was and they should all appreciate his son and what I had done for them and the city. For that my father, I am appreciative and will never forget you. I will miss you, my friend.

Chance You Were Your Own Dog

I usually call home a couple of times a day. The wife almost always has me on speakerphone as she continues to do what she had been doing. Suddenly, it will start with one short bark. Then another, and if I don’t respond to Chance, our last Shih Tzu will then begin a chorus of doggie expletives until he has my attention. I acknowledge him and he barks out what I assume is him telling me “what’s been going on all day” and or “why aren’t

you home yet and when will you be here.” I then have to talk to him and explain that I’m on my way and that he’s a good boy and I will see him soon. Sometimes he may add one more comment or two, especially if he’s agitated about something. But, usually, he accepts my response and goes to lay down on his bed and accept what I have said to him.

Every day it’s the same in that he has to talk to me and hear back or he won’t stop. The wife and I cannot continue our conversation until he is satisfied that he has expressed himself properly.

Chance and Lilly were the first dogs we had ever adopted from a shelter. We believe they were between 4-5 years of age when we chose them. We were told they didn’t have a happy life and were probably caged their entire life. We think they were used by a breeder and weren’t shown any love and they really didn’t know how to interact with us.

Somehow, in the family, it was decided that Chance was my dog. Our other dogs seemed to have bonded with other family members. Though Chance really didn’t seem to be want to bond with anyone as he was a solo dog. We could feed him and take him out but, he wasn’t much of a hugger and for the most part, stayed to himself. He would occasionally play with Lilly yet even with her he was a bit standoffish.

Lilly was with us for a few short years and acquired Ketoacidosis and was gone suddenly. It didn’t seem to faze Chance, he just went on like nothing was wrong. Actually, Chance didn’t seem to show any affection towards Lilly at all. He must have had it hard before we adopted him. He was a loner and didn’t seem to want anyone. If for some reason he would follow you around the house and not leave your side it was more of him being afraid than anything else. He didn’t want to be held, he just wanted to be protected from whatever he was afraid of.

I’m kind of the same way in that I don’t express my feelings either and stay a lot to myself. Though I could use a hug now and then.

Over the last few years, Chance’s health had been getting worse. Shih Tzu’s are prone to ear infections. His infections wouldn’t go away and in fact, spread to his skin as some sort of yeast infection that would make him scratch all his fur away. He was beginning to look like one of those hairless cats or dogs. The infections were also contagious to humans and if you touched him and didn’t wash, you could have pink eye in the morning.

Jake our other Shih Tzu had seemed immune to the infection and regularly tried to groom his buddy.  Jake just passed two weeks ago and Chance seemed to go downhill fast. I didn’t want to say goodbye so soon after having lost Jake. Despite Chance’s stance of being a loner, I loved that guy. I call home now and I wish I could hear his bark wanting to talk to me. I really do believe he understood me and I him. I believe that he got a second chance coming to be with us and we let him be his own self.

My Come To Jesus Moment

They talk about a “Come to Jesus Moment” as being an important step towards change or improvement. I thought I was part of a “moment” for someone about 20 years ago. The man had been staying in my hotel for almost a month. He was a pipefitter and he was an alcoholic. He had refused service from housekeeping for almost his whole stay. One day I got the call his family hadn’t heard from him and the employer called also looking for him.  I opened the door to his room expecting to find him dead but no, there he was laying on his bed in a drunken stupor. To the right of his bed was a pile of empty liquor and beer bottles just tossed upon each other as high as the bed and equal to the length of it.

His wife and children were worried sick about him and wanted him home. I spent the next few hours pouring coffee down his gullet in hopes I could bring him back to consciousness. When I thought he was ready, I took him out to his car. The scene reminded me of a “Moses” moment when Moses was talking down to his people and it was raining and lightning was lighting up the sky behind him and making him look all-powerful and putting the fear of God in them. It was raining heavily and the lightning was striking above my head and the red neon lights that circled the roof of the building were flashing as I spoke to this man about how he had failed his family and himself and that he needed to return to that family and make things right. He went on his way and I hope he was able to change.

I’ve been waiting for my come-to Jesus moment. With all my health issues I expected someone to play Moses and scare the bajeebies out of me and set me on a new path. I expected to have a mass heart attack and maybe then the healthcare professional would ream me out and do a “Cher” on me (a slap across the face and say snap out of it). So far, all the doctors seem to be so nonchalant about it. Maybe they have seen this too much with other patients and they are tired of their advice falling on deaf ears.

My nurse practitioner listened to my heart and said oh you have a heart murmur.  She was surprised that I didn’t know I had one. So, I’m 67, overweight, my cholesterol is high, have had several blood clots, I have two large arteries with blockages of 50% each, have had a torn meniscus, I can’t even walk more than 50 feet and I have to sit down, I have high blood pressure and a host of other medical issues. It was then that I got my breakdown moment. My eye faucets opened up and began flowing a river. It was too much. Jody Adams (no relation) my nurse practitioner had worked for a heart Dr for the last 25 plus years and took a moment with me and for that, I will be grateful. You see here I am thinking my life is over and she was kind enough to explain it wasn’t and what I can do by taking small steps and it will improve. I had heard it before but wasn’t ready to listen. It wasn’t raining for us and there was no lightning, there was just someone who cared and I thank god for that. Now I have two angels in my life Elisa Rhodes my Nurse Practitioner who caught my blood clots and Ms. Adams who is my Moses who looks so much better than a guy with a long beard. Now if I could only have them with me all day long. I know, be careful what you wish for. In the meantime, a new journey is what I am on and so it begins with one step. Who let the dog poop here!