Christmas Eve was always special for me as a kid. Family would show up and we would have a traditional Polish “Poor Man’s Meal.” Basically it was a very dry fish (sole I believe) served with pierogis and lots of sausage and kraut. Who was I kidding. I was and only child and I just wanted everyone to eat their shitty food so we could go upstairs and open up the damn presents. Things changed forever on that cold and blustery Christmas Eve in 1985.
This was my first Christmas Eve away from home and my family. I got into radio in the summer of 1985 and that changed the way I would celebrate the holidays. More often than not I was away from family. Christmas Eve 1985 found me in Grand Rapids, Michigan. I was two hundred and eighty-five miles away from my childhood home in Strongsville, Ohio. There was a terrible snowstorm that day and I was very sick. I had a fever and was alone for the first time on Christmas Eve. I called my mother to wish her well on the dinner and celebration she was about to have.
I got my first dog when I was in second grade. She was a collie. I named her “Lady.” Lady was my companion from the second grade on. Being an only child Lady was the closest thing to a sibling I would ever have. I was on the phone with mother that Christmas Eve when I heard the doorbell ring in the background. Mom explained she had to go as company was beginning to arrive. Something was not right. Something was missing. My dog would ALWAYS bark when someone rang the door bell. I stopped my mother before she could hang up and I asked in desperation, “What the hell is going on? Why is Lady not barking???” The pause seemed endless. Mother then took a deep breath, hesitated and said “Ya know when ya left in August and said I would know when it was time……..” There was a momentary lack of reason that filled my head. Suddenly it was clear to me…..Mother had killed my dog.
To this very day Mother will deny this ever happened. That’s what parents do as they get older. They develop selective memory and like to rewrite history. That was a long time ago yet it seems like it was yesterday. When your door bell rings this Christmas Eve and I hear your dog barking I can be rest assured you have never met my Mother.
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So tomorrow I turn 52 and I ask myself “what have I truly learned?” I have made MANY mistakes in life. Many. I have acted selfishly and probably hurt a lot of people along the way. This probably isn’t what God wanted me to do but every day I read a plaque that my mother recently passed down to me. It’s from Proverbs: “In all thy ways acknowledge Him and He shall direct thy paths.”
I’m not a bible thumper and this isn’t about your relationship with God. That is personal and I respect your beliefs and what you decide to do with your beliefs. This about what I have learned through my massive faults and it is my hope that you can relate or avoid some challenges you have yet to face.
Dad told me when I was young “Your parents are the best friends you will ever have.” Best advice he ever gave me.
You think you know pain until you have to bury a parent.
You see a piece of shit in the road walk around it and not through it.
No matter how mad you may be at someone close to you, hug them and tell them you love them.
Say please, thank you and you’re welcome.
There is something “after this.” When I had my heart block, died for 45 seconds and was in a coma for 6 days I saw a portion of it and it’s real.
Respect difference of opinion by reminding yourself 85% of this world truly is stupid.
As you get older you will find out who your “true friends” are. You probably will be able to count them on one hand.
Not all people have your best interests in mind. They will use you for their benefit and ignore you when you are no longer in a position to fulfill their selfish needs.
Talk and listen to those that are elderly. They have more knowledge than any library and are more than eager to share it with you.
I have to be honest. I wish I could follow my advice at all times but there are situations I stray from my path and, quite frankly, find myself as a hypocrite. All we can do is try our hardest each day and live our day as it’s our last as one day we will be correct.
They say there is nothing God gives us that we can’t handle. I have found myself many times staring at the heavens and saying “Are ya freaking kidding me. I can’t take it.” Then, weeks or months later, I found I could take it and I needed to learn from what seemed to be the impossible.
What is truly important is Memorial Day. It is a day set aside for those men and women who have given their lives for this country. Think about that before ya light the grill. They gave their lives. This day was actually created by former slaves that wanted a day to honor former Union soldiers that perished in battle. Veterans Day is a day set aside to honor all that have served. I just learned that the other day so please don’t think I am the wise guru seated at the top of the mountain.
May you enjoy this weekend, remember our lost soldiers, hug your loved ones and appreciate this beautiful world that has been created for us.
Sixteen years ago today my phone rang in Cleveland and I looked at the caller ID. It was the neighbor of my father. I knew what this was about before I even answered…..my father had died at the age of 57. There is no way to prepare anyone for the feelings you will have when losing a parent. It’s almost like you become a member of “The Club” where you and the others don’t even have to speak your feelings to know what the other has gone through.
After getting the news I remember looking out the window and thinking: “Why are there cars on the road, why are the banks open, why are people grocery shopping and why are people at work?” It was a big glass of reality for me. The time we have here on this planet is undetermined and people suffer the loss of loved ones every day but as far as the planet it’s “business as usual.”
I was thirteen and in the basement with Dad when he gave me the greatest advice ever. He said “Just remember, no matter what, your parents will be the best friends you ever have.” Of course being thirteen I knew it all and it didn’t really sink in. Over the years I have truly found not only those words to ring true but also words that have become more relevant and accurate as the days go by.
I really miss the opportunity to grab the phone in my times of trouble or confusion. I knew that a helpless situation would be put into proper perspective with a five minute conversation with my father. Now I’m left to figuring it out by myself and I’m not very good at it.
Dad taught me what it was like to be a man. A man isn’t someone that lifts a lot of weight, can chop down a tree with four swings of an ax, or someone who has to tell anyone “ I’m a man!” A true man is one that thinks of others instead of himself, gives of his time without expecting anything in return and isn’t afraid to cry from time to time. I’m still working on so many things he taught me and I hope to have those lessons learned by the time we meet again. I love you Dad…and look forward to when we meet again…..I got a lot to tell ya!
I haven’t worked since January of 2011 and I truly am thankful. I have learned so much. I am a workaholic by nature so it forced me to reinvent myself. I have become a social media freak. This truly is the way people will market and make money in the future. Embrace it or be left behind.
I have created my own show prep site. I have taken my late father’s passion of being an ex cop and being disgusted by police brutality and corruption and made it a web site. I have polished my talk radio skills by establishing an internet radio show. I have been able to spend a lot of time with my mother and she truly is an amazing human being. I’m about to launch a new business in the next two weeks. Things happen for a reason.
I truly was miserable in my last year of working. I had compromised who I was and what I truly believe. I want to make a difference. I care about people. I think these are turbulent times and I firmly believe that we can all learn something new each day by interacting with others.
I’m opinionated. I know that. I also am very open to different views because we need to stop and listen to each other as it’s clear that no one has this “figured all out.” Things in the past that I would dismiss I now stop and analyze.
I want this world to be a nicer place. I want to hear “please” and “thank you.” I want people to smile. I think holding the door open for someone is natural. I want to make a difference.
I’ve made mistakes and I think we all do on a daily basis. A mistake really is an opportunity to learn and grow. I needed to stop, listen, look around, and truly take inventory of what happens around me. I vehemently believe that radio is a great opportunity to bond with the listener. We are all in this together. We all have our struggles. We all can learn from each other. Being caller “number nine” or hearing the latest Katy Perry song has nothing to do with this.
I used to never flinch on dropping $150 on a dinner. Now I know when chicken breasts are on sale at my local grocery store. I am ready for the next stage in life and my career. I hate to say it…but I think I have finally grown up.
Did I fail as an adult? Am I selfish? I just turned forty-nine and my head is mentality stuck at about twenty-five and I really would have it no other way. As I assess my life to this point I do wonder if others look at me as a failure because I don’t have any kids. Does the procreation of kids really define who and what you were during your short time here on earth?
I’m an only child, been married twice, and I’m pretty much set in my ways. I don’t think that I’m a jerk but I do know what I want, when I want it, how I plan on getting it and I never stray from being completely honest with everyone I meet. That sounds good in theory but that doesn’t always rub people the way they wish to be rubbed.
I observe many people who have children and I know that I could be a good parent but it’s just something that doesn’t appeal to me. I had a wonderful childhood and I’m just not sure I’d be able to duplicate the job my parents did. Watching a father play catch with his son in the park brings a smile to my face but I never hear that inner voice saying “someday that will be you.” Does this make me a failure as a human being? What truly is my purpose? I do know that I have a strong conviction for those that infringe upon our rights. Is that my calling? Is that my mission?
They say that “kids change you.” What if it doesn’t change me? I don’t want to gamble with the potential happiness of an innocent child to take that personal risk. My hat and heart go out to all the parents that do this on a daily basis. I truly am amazed and thankful for the wonderful job that you do. I just hope that facing my honesty does not make you look at me as a failure in life as I am not sure of what that answer truly may be.
Danny Czekalinski does a weekly internet radio show Thursdays at 10AM EST on mysourceradio.com Archives of the show can be heard HERE
A news anchor in Chicago told the “truth” about Santa earlier this week and you can imagine the backlash. Story HERE: I think you lose that innocent perspective of life the moment you hear the “Santa story.” I’ll never forget “Santa-Day.” It was a Tuesday morning in December at about 7:30AM. The bus would stop in front of my house in ten minutes and I was just about to walk out the front door. I was seven years old. Mom asked me to come into my bedroom for a moment and sit down. My mother got right to the point and said: “I don’t want you to hear this on the bus but Santa is not real. Your father and I buy the gifts and he eats the cookies. I’ll explain the entire thing after school.” I’m not kidding you. I got the “Santa Story” like a news anchor was doing a tease for the six o’clock headlines.
I got on the bus stunned. I looked around at the other snot-nosed kids and wondered how many of them knew. Could they tell that I had just been told? Is there a secret sign I need to share with them to illustrate I knew the big lie was over? Look. I was seven years old, my mother gives me a cliff-note version of the “Santa story” and throws me on a bus. My world was a bit shaken and now I questioned EVERYTHING. In fifteen seconds I had gone from existing in a constant state of Utopia to a psychologists dream.
When I got home from school that day I sat down with Mom and Dad and they explained everything in great detail. Santa may not wear a red suit and climb down the chimney but he does exist. There’s a little bit of Santa Claus in all of us and THAT’S what makes him real and makes him exist. I felt much better. I trusted the world and my parents once again. All I could do is hug my mother and say “Well at least we have the Easter Bunny.” There was a long pause……I think you know the rest of this story. 🙂
This past Saturday I had a birthday. I’ve been off the radio since January 19th of this year and I have been reflecting a lot on what I have done with my life to this point and what I plan to do with the rest of it. It’s been an interesting ride so far and one that continues to teach me something new each day. In the interest of brevity I have posted five of the most important lessons I have learned in life:
1) ONLY ONE PERSON BESIDES YOURSELF CARES ABOUT YOUR BEST INTERESTS: Those people are your parents. Other than that all bets are off.
2) YOU’LL GET SCREWED OVER: We all do. When times are good things are easy. The true test of character is when life knocks you to the ground. What did you learn? How will you prevent the same mistake?
3) TREAT PEOPLE THE WAY YOU WANT TO BE TREATED: Simple to say but not easy to do. Especially when you are standing in line with the stomach flu and the 85-year-old lady in front of you is writing a check.
4) KEEP UP WITH TECHNOLOGY: If you “settle” you will be passed by. Remember when you paid $300 for a VCR? Remember having to stash quarters in case your “pager” went off? Five years ago everyone had a MySpace page. Keep up with technology and you’ll increase your value.
5) NEVER GET BEHIND ME IN LINE: I always pick the wrong one. I pick the one with the price check, the ribbon runs out on the register, the old man searching for a coupon, etc. Please just smile and wave and move on. You’ll thank me later.