One of the best things that ever happened to my life took place in a location just one level above Hell and was at one of the worst times in my life. It is amazing that when you have lost all hope for your future something positive happens. It is like when you stop looking for that special someone and before you know it she or he has fallen right in your lap. This is what happened just one year after my father passed away, a new and wonderful man came into my life. Thank God, my mother had the sense to marry him even though it seemed like she spent the rest of her life trying to drive him away. I also want to give thanks to the one good thing my aunt ever did and that was to introduce them together. I really believe that of all the crossroads that I came across in my life besides the death of my father, this was the most important one. My stepfather had that big of an impact on my life. I firmly believe that he made me the man I am today. I will always be thankful to him for that and he will be just as sorely missed. He was a truly amazing individual, who not only had an impact on my life he also impacted the lives of countless young adults covering two states. What is truly amazing is that he did not even have to try, it just came to him naturally. His joy of teaching came out as genuine and was without gile. Adolescents can sense phoniness a mile away. You just are not able to fool them. This is where my stepfather shined, he absolutely loved teaching. He used to tell me that the greatest joy he had was when the light bulb went off in their eyes. It lit up their whole face when they figured out something new that had bedeviled them. He lived for those moments.
When my mother married my new stepfather, his oldest son was already making his mark as a brilliant neurosurgeon in New York. He was to go on to also do amazing research in the field of neuroscience and would publish his work in the prestigious New England Journal of Medicine. So, of course, my stepfather wanted to work his magic on me as well. While I still lived in New York and my new father had just moved in with us, I began to discover a devious plot forming. A plot designed to shape my future. I started getting models but they were not car models or plane models, they were models of the human body. In the fourth grade, I was the only one who knew where the heart was, but hell, if I knew the address of the house I lived in. We certainly had our priorities straight.
Once we moved to Florida, medical books began to appear in my room, with journals covering all sorts of absolutely disgusting diseases. I felt like Dr. Frankenstein. When he asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up, I would say whatever the newest hype that the current hit TV shows were pushing, like Magnum PI and so on. All the while, my father would gently point me towards the medical field. To be honest, he did let me read other books besides medical books. I pretty much read everything including the naughty books he had in his collection.
While I was a solid A-B student in Junior High School and High School, I was no genius. I simply had too many road blocks thrown in my way to really be able to shine. After I had my growth spurt, my eyes changed. So, I was basically blind for two years of my Junior High School career. It is amazing that I did as well as I did. Who knows if I would have had a better understanding of the basic building blocks, things could have went a little more smoothly. So, I really don’t know what my stepfather was thinking when he kept pushing me into medicine? My grades surely did not support his aspirations for me. He just never gave up, so I continued to follow his wishes. One thing that helped me get through my 7th through 12th grades was that I discovered I had a truly amazing short term memory. I could remember dozens of pages of notes virtually word for word. Unfortunately, I only retained the information for a week or so, while the basic outline would remain, a lot of the details would fade if I did not refresh my memory. Once I refreshed it a few times, the material would be transferred into my long term memory banks, so I was able to recall the material later on. One thing that this short term memory allowed me to do was to spend little time studying at home. I could simply study before my tests in my earlier classes. Only if my tests fell in my first couple of periods would I have to study the night before. I also began to be able to remember events in my life with amazing details. As I write my memoirs, I am reliving the events that transpired over 40 years ago. It seems like they were just yesterday.
Maybe my stepfather saw something in me that I did not see? The problem is that I truly did not have my heart in it. I was just into too many things at that time. Instead of studying in college, I spent a lot of time reading classical books, scuba diving and photography. But let’s not get too far ahead of ourselves, this is material for the next chapter.
I want to skip back a little in time and discuss my earlier years a bit. I am sure that my readers will remember my mentioning the types of models my stepfather bought me. The old saying is that “A picture is worth a thousand words”, so I will include a few photos of these models below.
These are the models I played with as a kid. It is amazing that I did not become a serial killer. Luckily for me, I loved animals especially cats and had no interests in hurting them. Besides these models, I also had not one but two microscopes. One was for viewing prepared slides and had a 100x and a 450x objective, so I could really see good details on cells and stuff. The other one was a dissecting scope that had a 10x and 20x magnifying ability. This was great for looking at larger stuff like insects. With all these cool things to look at and study, I did not have a lot of time to develop friendships outside of school, so I was mostly a loner. I don’t want the reader to get the impression that I was not able to interact with my fellow students. I had a small group of friends that I ate lunch with, and even went to the movies with, occasionally. There were also neighborhood kids that I messed around with.
But all kidding aside, my parents did the best they could. We did not have a lot of money to spoil me, however, I wanted for little. It also helped that there were eleven years separating me from my closest sibling, so there was little competition for not only affection but “toy money” as well. It also helped that I knew how to take care of my things. I could make just about anything last, so it always looked like I had a lot of stuff. It was simply because I took care of what little I had.
While I was never involved in organized sports, I did enjoy running. I used to jog three nights a week after I finished my school work. Even though I looked healthy on the outside, my insides must have been a mess because I kept on getting seriously sick, so much so that In my last two years in high school I missed close to a whole quarter of school and was in the hospital a total of 20 days. Again, it was amazing that my grades did not suffer and I was able to graduate with a respectable 3.46 average and I was 46th out of 450 seniors. Imagine what I could have done if I had really tried and had remained healthy.