The Great Cotton Swab Countdown!

Just over eight years ago, my life took a turn…and pretty much hurtled right off a cliff.

I enjoy telling my audiences that I am the Wile E. Coyote of motivational speaking. I’ve actually endured several ACME Rocket Roller-Skate rides to the bottom of the canyon.

In the Summer of 2003, it was a Triple-Lindy (a dive which Rodney Dangerfield admitted in the movie “Back to School” nearly killed him).

In a very short period of time, I managed to:

  • Walk away from a successful radio career  (without another job).
  • Go through a divorce.
  • Discover that I was $65,000 in debt (with almost no assets).

Imagine a long, whistling fall……CRASH! (cough cough cough) Yikes!

I spent the better (or worse) part of the next six months licking my wounds and picking up the pieces at my Dad’s house. Two years prior, we had built my recording studio in his spacious basement (which ultimately kept him from looking like an episode of Hoarders).

As I was looking for an apartment, he commented that, since I was at his place each day anyway, I may as well sleep there too.

When I first moved in, a quick trip to Walgreen’s provided all the necessities of life: toothbrush, toothpaste, deodorant and a 500-count pack of cotton swabs.

“By the time this package is empty, my life will be back on track and I’ll be in my own place”, I promised myself.

Over the next year, 365 ear-cleaners went bye-bye. As I did a lot of reading, reflecting and working with my newly acquired life coach, life got better…slowly.

At some point more than half-way through the following year, the swabs ran out.

Life had settled into a routine at my Dad’s. They liked having someone there during the day, which kept the home invasion risk pretty low. I also got to handle ‘gotta go pee?” duties for Clyde the Springer Spaniel during the last few years of his life.

Another big box of cotton swabs…and a promise to be long gone and on my own by the time my fingers did the frantic search ‘for just one more’ at the bottom.

Half-way through this one, I got a call from my step-mom Aline. Turned out my Dad’s ‘routine check-up with his heart doctor revealed a blockage and they had to perform an emergency procedure.

Scary stuff.

Still plenty of ear cleaners left.

During his recovery, it became clear he was not going to be able to do as much heavy lifting for a while.

No worries, I’m there.

Two years later, another procedure.

One more box of swabs. (I think I even had a coupon that time!)

December 11, 2009. I can’t tell you how many ear-wands were left in the package, but that really wasn’t important.

My Dad wasn’t feeling well and went in for yet another stent procedure, and something went wrong.

He was rushed across town to another hospital and immediately into an emergency double-bypass. We didn’t see him conscious again for seven days.

Long recovery. More soft-swabbers…and a different appreciation for life.

While my first few years were their gift to me when my life was falling apart, the last few (according to my step-mom) have been a gift to them.

I’ve got a wonderful girlfriend who lives in Vermont, with her mom.

When I go there for a few days, I make sure that all the heavy lifting has been taken care of at Dad’s.

Someday Tina will move back to New Hampshire, and we’ll get our own place, close enough so that we can take care of all of our parents.

It will happen when the time is right, and until then I will happily keep ticking away the days with a super-sized box of cotton swabs at every location!


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