3 months and keep on clocking, yes, time passes so quick, I have been retired and back to my Island Paradise of Puerto Rico for 3 months now, it has not been easy, and it does not shows signs of getting any better, but I know it most, hopefully sooner that latter.Being Back in the island is really refreshing, the welcoming parties are all done, now I am back at being one of the many locals, and yes, as expected, everywhere I go there is someone I know, that feeling of home can never be erase from our memories, and my son is discovering the power of knowing people, every time that he is seeing doing something wrong, I will find out about it before he even get home, technology can be good at times, no more blasting the radio while driving down town or pealing tires on the old truck...
So, I am here, I started taking college courses at the Inter American University of Puerto Rico, San German Campus.College life has change my daily routine drastically, now I have to do homework again, after being absent for a while (25 years) it is not easy.I found new respect for the professors, and I get the chance to see how the young students act, and see myself in their shoes, boy am I glad that I went in the Army, I was surely wasting my time back during those days, like many class mates are now, they hardly ever show up, and when they come, they come late and want to leave early, they are in search, huntingfor their future, not realizing that it is the present that they must pay attention to.It is frustrating, but I must watch and let them learn from their own mistakes, after all, that is why they are in college, to learn from the professors and life, do not take me wrong, if there is anything that I can contribute to help them I do, but I must be a class mate, the old Master Sergeant must rest couse this is not the Old Dog's show.
I have been able to partake in every class section so far, I have a different perspective, being retired now, it is a good time to get out of the house and learn something new every day, and if they do not teach me anything new, well, I was able to get out of the house and see the neighborhood (I live like 5 minutes from college).I have continued to take photographs all over the place, my collection keeps growing and my hard drives are running out of space.Soon I will re-start posting some photos here so you can share the island with me.I am closing for now; I just wanted to let my friends know that I was here still, God Bless you, Don Fofo
“In 1 Month...” Time has passed, life has moved on; seconds like the grains of sand in a giant sand clock of life, keep falling, and life goes on, and on… Many changes in my life since the last words I shared, many more coming soon and I am in despair, what would life will bring, I cannot help but wonder at the uncertainty of future events, in any case, here I am to tell you my Saga for the last 4 months.After my daughter’s departure I concentrated my effords in college courses, but as time for my retirement got closer I had to pause to ensure that everything was in order, many appointments and loose ends had to be tended to; among those were the many doctor visits to satisfy requirements for the Veterans Administration (VA).Ah, after all of those medical appointments, and looking at my medical records/reviewing my last 23 years, I started to feel my age, gosh, have I really lived this life?
As I sat down with the VA representative going over my medical records there were so many past injuries, I am amazed I am not in a wheel chair, the representative, a middle age man, not much older than me, brought me to his office, sat me down and gave me a pet talk about the procedure, I will spare you all the details, bottom line, as I walked out of that office, I felt old, and decrepit, it is funny now, but here were the things that he found on my records (Things that I had been trying to ignore for many years, "Nothing is impossible, GO" was my Motto), things that I would have to get looked at before the process was completed: Tinnitus in my ears; Sleep Apnea, High Blood Pressure; Injured Pubic Symphysis; Right/Left Knee; right/Left ankle; Plantar Fasciitis and if those were not enough I had to be seen for Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome. I had my schedule full of medical appointments; now that they are all over, I have to wait and see what would the results of the findings would be, those that will determined my medical disability, and as I wait, the sand keeps falling.
Reflecting on the 23 years of service can be mind bugling, so many places, so many people, so much done, so many experiences.I decided to study photography to keep my mind busy, I had to do something with all the spare time, so now I am always caring a nice camera with me everywhere I go, that it is not much different from before, because I always had a camera closed by, the difference now is that it is a better camera, I know how to used it better and they had awaken in me a different way of looking at life, now I do not feel awkward about taking photograph, before, I was always concern about what people may think, now I am concern with what I think; What I want the final product to look like? Which angle should I take? Which setting should I use? Which lenses will be better? Is the lighting appropriate? Etc…It is great to have been able to take my lifelong hobby into new heights.Today, when people look at me, they always think that I work for a newspaper/magazine or TV Station, inquiry minds always want to know which one it is.After a lot of trial and error I found the best way to develop my own website which now is open and available to everyone www.DonFofo.ifp3.com there I have started to post my most successful photos, I still got a lot of work to do, but itis working fine and it is mine, feel free to check me out and leave me a comment, I would love to hear from you…
Ok, so in 5 ½ weeks, I am a civilian; that was my goal for many years, retire, secure a pension and then once again be among the masses, and finally it is becomming a reality...A few days ago, my brother called me from Puerto Rico, telling me that he crossed paths with one of my childhood’s best friends “Wilberto” and my brother was telling me how my old friend’s eyes were tearing as he heard the news of my soon return to the island. I got his phone number and called him, I have not seeing him for 23 years, nevertheless, he is planning in party in honor upon my return.As him, many others had express their feeling of joy and excitement upon my return to the island, it is great to know that I am going back to where I belong, where when I walk the streets people know my name, where I am welcome as a friend.My decision to go back has been criticized by many, a fact that bugged my mind after I submitted my retirement, a fact that now I am at peace with, after all, it was my decision.My friends, this was my journal entry, I hope that you have enjoyed sharing my simple recollection of my recent path true life.God Bless you and thank you for keeping me company in my journey through time…
“A Father’s tale” As an expecting parent I am counting the months, weeks, and days that my relocation will take place. However, during the last 9 weeks I had the company of my 10 years old daughter, she came from Panama to spend their Summer Vacations (Our winter) with Daddy (Papi), we had a great time. Yesterday I had to drop her at the Airport for her return trip home. Being my daughter, a Soldier’s daughter, she has been traveling her entire life, that is the way it goes with the military, but this time was really nerves racking, since she would take her first trip by herself, she would be all alone in an international flight:
The morning started fine, we all got up on time, toke showers, got ready to take my oldest son to school, then we will go to breakfast at Mac Donalds and to the Airport we go, a 2 hours drive to Orlando international Airport, of course, that was the plan, did it happened, NO… As we are packing up to get in the car, I noticed that my daughter’s traveling permit from my ex-wife was not in the packet, I still have not printed it out, and I still needed to go and shave, so I told my son to pull out the e-mail and print it out for me while I shave, he proceeded to do it without complains, it should have been an easy enough task, hit print right? But no, it was not, my daughter had used up all the paper the night prior with her drawings and now we were out of paper, I heard my son yelling asking, DAD WE ARE OUT OF PAPER, DO WE HAVE ANYMORE IN THE HOUSE? (I am getting that tingling feeling that something is about to go wrong, please God, help me here) Son, check in the garage, we should have more paper in one of the boxes, I told him and continue to shave, once I got finish I come out and see that my son looking at the computer, so I ask him, What is the problem? As I check to see if he found the paper, yes he did… Dad, it won’t print out… We are not out of ink, I just bought it last week, the paper is on it’s place, it is connected, there are no errors or alarms in the printer, what is the problem? Let me sit down son, let me check the printer set ups, everything is in order, I see you tried to print out 4 times already, let us clear the buffer out and we should be good, but let us take you to school and I come back and mess with it after breakfast. I cleared all the print jobs, unplugged the USB cable, waited 10 seconds and re attach it, I hear the bin, bin, noise, ok the computer recognized it, knowing computers for over 24 years, I figured, let me re-start it and by the time I come back it should be all good, let us go kids…
We dropped my son, my daughter and I went to breakfast, and had a good time driving back to the house, laughing and singing along with the radio. Got to the house, everything looked good, let me print this out…. NO, there is still a print job in the computer, it is cancel but it won’t disappear, which in turn is not letting new print job request to go through… Ah, what a pain… after 30 minutes more of troubleshooting, I had to give up, saved the document on my SD memory card and let us go to the print store… Loaded the luggage in a hurry, and off we went… Getting to the print shop took forever, seems like every light wanted to be red, and every slow person wanted to drive in front of me, I was losing it.. After driving for 10 minutes in city traffic we finally arrived, there it is, oh men, we just miss the turn, let me turn around in the next road… We get to the place and off course, every worker in the store, 10 of them, they are too busy to take care of me, so I am standing at the counter fuming, waiting for help, a few seconds passed and I figure, one of this machines should have an slot for SD cards and credit cards, so I start looking around, no, they did not, ah, excuse me sir, I told to one of the workers talking to a client, they both looked at me like saying “wait your turn” I just pointed to the SD card, where do I print a JPG file? He looked at me in dismay again, Sir, he addressed me, and then turned around to the client, excuse me Sir, looking back at me again, you have one of two options, first take your card to the counter and one of our service representatives will take care of it for you, (I glanced at the counter were I have been waiting previously, were everybody ignored my presence) ok, those guys are no help, what is my second choice? I asked, well Sir, you see that sign at the end of the store, to the right of that are our consumer terminals, ok, got it, thanks I said and I was walking, we got there and I see an entire room of terminals, ok not a problem, sat down put my SD card on the computer and of course, the computer came alive, please enter the following information “Last name, First Name, e-mail address, phone number etc.” , “please insert your credit card” ah, pain, and undue suffering, they want to record your entire identity just to print out a document, then, please wait until the program get loaded, this won’t take but a few seconds and they won’t be charge to your card… At this point we were already running late, I finally got to use the computer, find the document and hit print, me and my daughter looked around, were is the printer? After a few painful seconds we hear a printer at the end of the room getting activated, Nadia, I called my daughter, go down there and see if that is ours, she ran, stood in front of the printer, and waited for the page to come out, every second counted, we wanted to be on the road already. She pulls out the sheet with an expression of victory on her face and showed to me, that was it… We got out of there in a hurry, got in the car and started in our 2 hour trip, with only 1 ½ left, we were never going to make the 2 hours prior to time required for international flights, but we would have never been able to get her in the plane without the permit to exit the country from her mother that was awaiting for her in Panama. After the longest 2 hours in my resent history we made it to the airport. All parking slots were full in the first and second level, we ended up parking on the third level, and now we had to go down to the terminal, we moved fast, but still, we got there with only an 1 and 15 minutes before departure, the lines were huge at American, as usual, I tried to do a self check in, and did not worked, I needed help, I got the attention of one of the airline assistants, “My daughter’s flight leaves in an hour and she is flying by herself, please help me” she looked at me with dismay, and I got the tittle thrown at me again, Sir, you should have been here 2 hours prior, go around the first class lane and they will help you fill out all the paperwork needed for her in order for her to make it into that flight. Yes, there was a line in first class, so I go around the line while everyone is looking at me all crazy, Ma’am, please, I need help, she looked at me all weird and replied, yes, Sir, may I help you? I explained, and she started waving her hands toward the direction of the lady that I had just finish talking to, so I interrupted, Ma’am, (it was my turn to be sarcastic), she was the one that told me to come and see you, so she looked me up and down and said very politely, but with an smirk on her face, I understand, but you have to make a line, please, wait behind the first class passenger line and we will take care of you. I knew it was all my fault, there is no use on aggravating the situation, I stood in line, and painfully moved forward, until we got out turn, 40 minutes were left before the flight departure by the time we arrived to the counter. The normally pleasant ladies in first class did not cared for my kind of people, “late and un-wealthy dressed”, she listed to my story and told me there was a lot of papers to fill out, so I started to comply filling all the forms and giving her mine and my daughter’s credentials, after all it only took 10 minutes and I had a companion ticket to go through the gate with my daughter and handle her to the flight attendants at the gate. We started walking towards the terminal and as we walked we started seeing the long lines, I hope we get through this on time… We did, and as we walk to the counter, on Gate 17, the flight attendant greeted my daughter, Nadia, we were waiting on you. It made me feel so much better, finally something was going right, thanks God. They check, double check and triple ckeck all the paperwork and waved my daughter to accompany them, she just started walking with them, as I interrupted, Nadia, give me a kiss, and she ran back and give me a hug and a kiss and say bye Papi…
My heart melted with each step she took inside the tunnel, as I lost her from site, I felt lost in despair, cause for it will be another year before I see my daughter again… As I walk back to the car I got lost and ended in the wrong terminal parking lot, I looked around for my car for about 10 minutes until I realized that I was at the wrong parking, I had to cross the entire airport to get to my car. The drive home was a painful one, for now I won’t have my baby with me once again. But after I got home and waited, and waited while my brother, mother, neighbor kept calling me, have you heard from Nadia’s arrival? And it was not until after a dozen calls and 10PM at night that we finally got word that she arrived to her mother, she had lost a piece of luggage and had to go back the next day to look for it, but she made it safe. I did not got to hear her voice, since my ex-wife told my son that Nadia got there ok and hanged up the phone. Hence I started writing this journal, she had called me, and she sounded great, telling me how well she was treated by the airline crew, how she was afforded the opportunity to go in a play room and they kept her company, I will be forever grateful to those unknown to me, good Samaritans that took care of my child in her journey. With those words I close my journal, and may God bless you for reading “A Father’s Tale”… Don Fofo
“In 5 Months” Yes indeed, 5 to go, “And now, the end is getting near, and so I face the final curtain, my friends, I said clear, I state my case, which I am certain… …The record shows I took the blows, and did it my way” www.karaokeplay.com/songs/i-did-it-my-wa... Frank Sinatra, good fellow, he had a talent to sing songs from the heart, with a meaning, I miss that in music. Songs nowadays, may attempt to tell it as it is, or to tell the tale, but they do it in such a way that is nothing but a headache afterword. Where is the heart and soul in today’s singers? I love music, I grew up listening to music, and my mother always did her shores while singing. As kid, music was everywhere, now as a Middle age man, I sing in the shower, or I like to torture people if I get a chance to partake on a Karaoke section.
Yeah, “Video kill the radio star”, such a song bring back memories of times “not too long ago for me”, that now you can find in history books. I was left feeling like an Antique, as I browsed through my son’s history book, they were citing: “The fall of the Berlin wall”, those days of November 1989 they still vivid in my mind as I was in Germany when those events took place. worldfocus.org/blog/2010/01/01/full-show... It was a lot of commotion, the news coverage was immense, and the excitement in the streets was like waves of happiness euphoria and latter the frustration, the thought of those days is overwhelming at times. During those days I had a German girlfriend “Gabi”, “Sweet, lovely, Gabi”, and I was privilege enough to see the point view of the American media on TV, and Gabi would translate the German TV news as well as give me the 2 cents of what she and her friends thought about the situation. It was a time of re-discovery of their roots, and solidification for the German people, and it would not come with an inexpensive price tag. The Berlin wall, The Vietnam memorial, walls of historical events, I guess I must give in, I am history… www.blinkx.com/watch-video/walls-vietnam...
If now I think back of all I have done, of course I would change a few things, www.blinkx.com/watch-video/if-i-could-tu... don’t we all wish we could, of course, some may deny it, and use reasoning to accept their fortune, or the present, and why not, there is not a real way to go back in any case, so suck it all in, and blow it all out, relax and keep on rolling. Yes, you have to do like REO Speedwagon’s song keep on Rolling, I was fortunate enough to be at their concert the 31st Oct 2009, and yes, another piece of evidence, my teenager favorite rock stars are old, I am old too J www.youtube.com/watch?v=zVRo54-BbiU
“Time”, faithful keeper of glorious and shameful memories;
Too many to handle simultaneously unless I was an Elf:
Allowed me reveal solutions to my life’s controversies;
“Time”, Free me at once from your tight embrace;
Let me be honest to everyone to include myself,
Cause I do not want to disappear without a trace.
For in order to have peace of mind, I must return, as my time getting near, and I will pause for now with this old Spanish song “Volver” or in English “Return” from Carlos Gardel www.youtube.com/watch?v=RNoznXy28LI
God Bless you all, and thank you for keeping me company in my journey through time…
“In 6 months” Third entry on my Journal… The Calendar: Days keep coming and going, life goes on without a sign of ever wanting to stop, every day is a day closer to my new life as a civilian for me, thanks God.
Many times in my life I had lived by the calendar, most of the time, it was just a matter of trying to keep focus, stay on target and have something to look forward to. But there were times that it served as a friendly enemy. When in strange lands with unfamiliar surroundings, language, customs and courtesies, of course you have to adapt in order to succeed in life, but at the end of the day, when everything has slowed down a bit and you are able to relax, you look at the calendar on the wall. I think that it is the most simple but most important piece of decoration in the room/wall locker/footlocker or wall. It is the one that keep you in track when your kids/family/love ones/co-workers birthdays come up (or any other special occasion), and is the one that reminds you of the need to figure out the logistics of it all. How long it will take for x, y or z, to receive the package that you are sending from foreign lands (or remote locations)? It is the same torturous calendar that if you were not able to deliver that package, it will remind you of your failure due to the lack of planning, regardless if it was your fault or not, it just did not happen. The calendar can bring you joy and tears, it can bring you worries and relief, it can bring you pain and suffering as well as health and fulfillment.
Joy and tears, ah, so truth, the joy of knowing that all your hard work was worth it, payday is coming and with it all your bills will get paid and once again there is some money for leisure activities; tears because you are in physical, emotional, monetary or spiritual need that won’t be fill for days to come but you need it today and now. But the most special gift that you can ever get from the calendar is the gift of re-unification, just remembering that gift can bring tears into your eyes. After a long deployment at war, when all the separation, misery, sacrifice, torture, carnage, horror are over, when you are back in the safe hands of your mother land, there is a feeling of anticipation, an anxiety, you want to get out of the vehicle, to run in search of those familiar eyes, and when that moment arrives and your eyes locked, you do not care who is looking or where you are, when you embrace that spouse, children, mother, father or friend, it is all forgotten and you just receive the tears of joy from your friendly enemy, the calendar, as he smiles, because he is already planning for the next episode of your life.
At many times people ask me, how you do it? The answer is simple; you trust God and live your life, day by day…. Why you do it? The answer once again it’s simple; I do it for the ones to my left and my right (team/squad/platoon/battery/company), because without me, a less qualified person may have to take care of them…. And because of these very last reason, I knew it was time for me to retire, I was at peace with the fact that there was someone to take care of my post, I was properly relived, so it was time to fade away into new pastures, leaving behind my combat gear, but for ever keeping in my soul all the memories of the Great/Good/Bad/Ugly. I trust that my God will guide me to another place where once again I can confront the calendar. "In 6 months" Don Fofo