Friday, March 02, 2007

Challenges Beyond Bad Beats

Recently, a number of bloggers and poker chatroom folks have been revealing intimate details of their personal life. There are currently some amazing stories on the web dealing with poker players and their struggles earlier in their lives.

My life, on the other hand, has been relatively free from some of the demons that have haunted other players. I have never been in trouble with the law, never had any type of substance abuse issues, never went through a messy divorce, never struggled with unemployment, never had a terrible home or family life. In some ways, you might say that I have floated through the years and have had things pretty easy. Of course, I was blessed with a pretty good head on my shoulders and have always had a good work ethic to help me succeed. Some of my fears had more to do with worrying about how I would deal with a terrible situation when one eventually presented itself.

I got my answer a few years ago when my elderly father came to the end of his road. He was 80 years old and had multiple health problems including dementia, damaged lungs, a heart problem, etc. He was tough, however, and managed to make it through the physical challenges. Our main concern, however, was the dementia and my dad's cognitive deterioration. We had always thought (and hoped) that the bad organs in his body would give out before his brain.

After doing a rehab stint in a local nursing and rehabilitaion center, he came home, chuckling that he had faked out the health care personnel into letting him out earlier than they should have. That night, he collapsed at home and was rushed to the hospital. He never regained consciousness.

In a sense, this was not the worst thing that could happen to my dad. For all intents and purposes, he died at home. Unfortunately, his body was stubborn and decided to stick around for a few more days. However bad that was, at least it gave the family the opportunity to see my dad one last time while he was still alive, although "alive" at that time was certainly a relative term.

The Good Samaritan Hospital folks gently confirmed what we knew -- that he was brain dead -- and arranged for a time to take him off life support so that all the family could be present. Before that, however, we were asked about organ donation.

Now, my dad had so many physical problems that I had a hard time believing that any worthwhile organs could be harvested. We were told, however, that he had one organ that could be -- his liver. My dad had been a hard-drinking Irishman until his later years and the liver had apparently regenerated. When we were informed that his liver could be transplanted, we all cracked up laughing! Fortunately, the liver went to a woman with some children and the transplant was successful, so we were happy.

But ... watching my dad die after he was taken off the respirator was unbelievably agonizing. It was a powerful, emotional family scene that I will never forget. Fortunately, the Lord was kind and took him in a matter of minutes.

In searching for meaning during an earlier difficult situation in my life, I sought counsel with a wise priest who speculated that perhaps God had given me a difficult challenge in order to prepare me to deal with the death of my parents. These words rung true as I was able to get through my father's death better than I thought I could. It wasn't easy, but it was bearable.

My mother is still alive, and I dread having to face her death. For now, however, I prefer to concentrate on all the good from the past and in the present.

So ... no matter how bad the beats are that we get in poker or how we succumb to even the most unlikely beats, I see them as just that -- bad poker beats that are relatively inconsequential. I hope to keep this in mind as I try to improve my skills in this great game that fascinates us so very much.


Blogger Schaubs said...

Great post sir. I've stumbled accross your blog a few times and thought I'd let you know that I enjoy it.

12:36 PM  
Blogger Irongirl01 said...

Well said Lightning. There is a saying I learned when I was in out-patient rehab that we are never given more then we can handle. I think that is very true.

We play our life cards the best we can. Sometimes its impossible to minimize our losses and other times we river a winner when least expected.

Always a pleasure playing and blogging with you Sir.

5:20 PM  

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