Geek Dad Report: About this Geek Dad
Alright readers, this is something I wrote a while ago when Geek Dad Report was only hosted on one site, and I think should serve as a good introduction of the column to WatchPlayRead. Mind you it is fairly long, as I put a lot of heart and soul into the piece. I hope you enjoy it and the columns to come.
Hello, my name is Ryan Thomason. I am 27 years old, married to a beautiful and intelligent woman, Jennifer, whom also serves as the stay at home mom of my first child/son, Lincoln. I have a great job that pays the bills and leaves little room for savings, an old, cranky, but affordable house that seems to have issues immediately after one gets fixed, nestled near the Wasatch mountain range in the state of Utah. I’ve had moderate to severe hearing loss since birth, and have dealt with it my whole life with the assistance of hearing aids. Just a few months ago, I was diagnosed with Ushers Syndrome, and told that I had until the end of my ‘working years’ or until around age 50-60 before I would be legally blind.
Today is April, 25th 2009, and today I decided that I am going to truly live my life.
At 7pm, my wife took a borrowed laptop out to Starbucks to book our hotel trip for our coming vacation to Washington, D.C. our first big family vacation. Lincoln, ever so demanding as he approaches two years old, was set on going outside for a walk before the sun nestled into the far horizons, taking a lapses for a few meager hours only to breach the end of darkness with the coming of morning. We sat on the ground, him in my lap, as he proclaimed that he held a shoe while I attempted to squeeze one on his right foot. Tired, and feeling ever more stressed, I could only grin at his antics, it warmed the heart when it felt cold and he deserved a kiss on his soft pink cheek.
With both shoes finally on, and tied tightly, I maneuvered him into one of our more recent purchases. It is a backpack doubled child carrier, which he’s easily adjusted to sitting in it as we’ve been preparing for our trip. While I strapped the contraption onto my back, listening to his giggles as I lifted him off the ground and tugged it into place, it’s hard not to smile at him. For some reason, he gets a pure kick out of you having to pick him up while he dangles his feet behind you. We moved through the kitchen toward our back door, where I half rested against the wall as I squeezed my walking/running shoes onto my feet. The New Balance shoes are fairly worn in, on both shoes, at the spot where the outside pad of your feet is under your little toe, I have a slight tear. I’ve wondered how both shoes got a tear in the identical spots, but considering how things have been going lately, it only made sense. No one thing can be broken when it comes to me; I have to have it in pairs. As the cool evening breeze sank around us, the two boys of the house set out on a semi-usual nightly walk, it depended on the weather. Lincoln had to say his bye byes to ‘Moon’ as he called her, the neighbors black Labrador, who had a slight patch of brown on the chest from her mother; Moon was relaxing in their backyard.
Turning onto the sidewalk, I looked to my right as the setting sun, I had a good hour before it got dark, our usual route through the neighborhood that my wife and I took only lasted a solid twenty five to thirty minutes. This time though, as I stood at the corner of my lot, trying to pick straight or left I decided on walking toward the mountains that seemed to almost always loom over us. Where we would normally turn left at the end of our block, I instead headed straight down our road, which had stood ignored in our routes because of the steepness to the climb. Thinking about nothing at all, I squeezed Lincolns left calve and tried to talk to him. But, being a normal almost two year old, and at that not being able to see his face I assumed he was just taking in the sights, and wanted to be left alone to his search for dogs or birds to point at, so that he could shout “Dog” or “Bird” accordingly. My cell phone nestled in my pocket, I gave my younger brother a phone call, we’ve been sparse with our conversations as of late, as my wife and I only had one functioning battery for our two identical phones. Lincoln thought that dipping her phone in a cup full of soda was fun a while back, her phone still worked, but the battery was good as dead. Since I could care less, the battery to my phone has been powering hers, mine got the good juice at night when I checked to see if I had any messages, but, this is mostly irrelevant.
Being true Thomasons, I talked to my brother about the NFL draft that was going on, still not sure about the recent pick in the first round by my team, the Steelers, really, a defensive tackle? We need an offensive lineman! Again, I’m wandering, back to the story. We joked for a bit, and before I knew it, the talking, walking, and steep climb was getting me winded, I could feel the blubber in my butt and abs jiggling like cubes of jello as my breath shuddered in and out. When he said that I was starting to cut out, I looked up at the mountains and took notice that I had progressed at a good pace toward them. The evening light flayed across the range, heightening the dark hues of the reddish brown layers of rock beneath. Turning around, the sun had lowered still, and I was nearing the end of my road, a new high point in my attempts to stray from home. My brother and I said our good byes, and I gave Lincoln another squeeze on the leg, this time lending my hand back and asking for a high five. Not being able to look back, it was hard to not smile as I felt his little fingers gently gliding across my own, and his palm resting in mine, he gave me a little squeeze as if to show that he was truly there.
With my new determination, I got to the end of my street, and was met with a new decision, left or right. Turning right, we walked along the tip of the road in our area, the only thing that stood between us and the mountains were the large fenced off and barbwire topped holding ponds of some sort. Setting a steady pace, a clear and utterly blank head and feeling some sense of energy I had not felt for a long time I quickly found the end of the road as it was, which to my newfound intelligence, ended at a private Catholic High School. Turning around, the mountains now to my right, still called out to me, I looked at the switchbacks that ran across it, plotting out a possible course that might bring me up a decent three quarters of it before I couldn’t climb farther. I looked to my left and found the sun, dangling in the sky, slowly dipping toward its destination. Trudging on past my street and finding what was on the ‘left’ path was a no brainer, and within half a block I found that taking a right would lead me around the ponds and to my excitement a path that lead toward the mountains.
Standing at the base of the path, I checked my cell phone for the time, it was 7:30, and my legs were starting to feel the strain. Mind you, I was a track and field athlete in college, but also, I’m far from the shape I was in at that time. Feeling like a now domesticated, formerly wild animal of sorts, I did what any logical person would do at this point. I asked my 30 word knowing son if it was a good idea to make a real hike into the unknown mountain path that may or may not destroy my knees, leave me winded, sprain my ankle, or get us stranded. I hesitated a second, and then told him that the path looked pretty-pretty. His “uh huh” and soft kicking of his feet into my lower back and buttocks made me feel like a horse being spurred into action. While I was only joking about the path looking as engaging as it did at the start, I found that it truly was a beautifully foot worn down path that seemed to snake into the mountains. The dark green grass was a welcome, and soft rolling small hills were nestled with little plateaus that seemed would be great picnicking spots. I felt a sense of calm as I walked the path, one that I hadn’t felt for a while, raising a hand as we strolled ever upward, but through a small grove of trees, their branches crisscrossing overhead ready to shelter us from whatever danger might fall from above. I let the branches roll over my hand for a brief moment, feeling the roughness of the bark for that small intangible second. As we left the small grove and crossed up to face north, the mountains where calling out to me on my right. Though, on my left the sun was beginning to wave its good byes.
Standing for a time, I looked out over the valley that I had started to climb out of, holding my sons right foot. Where it once seemed so expansive and populated now looked small. As the soft fading light danced, cars and trucks twinkled on the interstate in the distance and around the buildings of downtown. I could feel the movement on my back, but I didn’t know what exactly Lincoln was looking at, or for, I guessed a bird, he had an eye for spotting them. Not thinking, I held my hand up over my shoulder, but didn’t ask for a thing, as I stared down into the valley, my mind feeling clear, I was brought back to reality when I felt a slightly cold little hand nestling over mine. Squeezing it, I craned my neck as painfully as I could and give it a kiss. I felt the stress of being tight with money and seeming to just barely make it by, melt away. The silent exhaustion I had been internally holding within myself wheeze out of me like wind through a bagpipe.
My largest worries by far though, were that I knew that there would be a time when I probably won’t be able to see the contours of my wife’s face as we sat around in our wrinkled old age together in some distant future. Worries about not seeing my son as a grown man, or what my grandchildren look like. My silent pains of not going to see all the places in the world that I wanted to see before I was too old and discrepant, not allowed to leave the hell for a nursing home my kids shacked me up in. We had been planning to see what we wanted to see, but only in retirement, with my disease that time would be only me standing around with a blurry central vision, not able to tell one thing from another.
I have traveling dreams that are the stuff only Geeks like me are made of, I want to kneel in the sands of the beaches of Normandy, feel the tiny grains filter through my fingers and imagine the blood of the lost that were spilt on them. Then, stare up at the hillside as I still knelt, and imagine Nazi pillboxes spewing metal death by machinegun fire, and see what so many soldiers saw on D-Day and feel the pride in knowing that we did what was right. Then, I would flip off the pillboxes, because we won, suck it. Another is going to the Star Trek experience when it reopens in Las Vegas, only so I can mock a Klingon and harass the Vulcans. I’d like to stand on the fields where Braveheart was filmed, and scream as I run across, slicing and dicing through my English foes with imaginary sword and shield in hand. My visual dreams wander to sitting on a horse in the steppes of Mongolia using my mind to place the vast Mongolian horde, being lead by Ghengis Kahn riding about, setting the blocks for conquering much of the ancient world. I crisscross over the Japan, and have a visual and tasteful feast on sushi, jump down under and stare at the intense colors of the Austrian coral reefs. My mind can only wander through all the sights I have yet to see. Having all of those visual dreams being seemingly torn away from me had been killing me internally.
With that cold, soft, little hand I knew that all the things that had been bothering me were utterly pointless. What really mattered were him and my wife. My life I was building, if I can do the things that I dream of, it will only add in as the footnotes of the great story of viewing through my degrading and failing eyeballs, I can have with my family. In a sense, I always knew that, but this only worked to solidify it. So, with my new sense on life, and the soft kicks of my son leading me on down the unfinished for now path toward where we started, trying to beat the fading sun home as the darkness would leave me blind. I made a vow to try and conquer this path every morning when the sun was rising, so that I may remember what I told myself on this day.
It’s hard to try and change big things about yourself; in the movies it’s as easy as switching on a light switch, or some actress kissing you, turning you from evil doer, to goody two shoes. That isn’t true at all, changing things about yourself is hard has hell, even if you know it’s for the better. It’s a daily struggle, you fail along the way, but your true sense of self will either leave you in a helpless heap or you pick yourself up and trudge on. Thankfully, I have vast support, family, friends, and the greatest woman a man could ask for. To try and turn this genetic disease into a positive, I have to force myself to remember that everything that I do, could possibly be the last time I see it. Every visual moment should be cherished, revered, documented, and stored in the cranial dome of my head. I can take all the digital photos or video’s I want, but eventually it will become irrelevant, eventually, I’ll be stuck with what I store in my brain. Frankly, it scares the piss out of me, but I have to keep telling myself that luckily, Alzheimer’s doesn’t run in the family. If I keep my brain sharp, memories will be preserved for all time, and that is better than any photograph or video. When you can close your eyes and replay all the sights and sounds in your head, it is more majestically sound, more encompassing than flipping through a photo book.
That is why I have to stay positive, if I let this thing get down on me, I’ll ruin the memories that will forever be stored in my head. In a way, only slightly, I can take solace in knowing that this crap for a disease did one good thing, it forced me to realize that life is only about living it. It forces me to not take things for granite, as what I’m seeing now, it’s damn important; no matter how obscure it may be and deserves to be cherished.
I’m going to end this now, as the load has been un-heaved, and I try to move on with a new sense of worth. I know that from now on, I’m going to be writing in a different light; I think being more descripted for descriptions sake. Perhaps I’ve changed more than I think already, who knows. What I do though, know that is, that I’m going to try and stop being so damn lazy and just do the things I want to do, see, love, write, read, watch, laugh, cry, and revel in anger with. Because, it may be the last time I get to do it in that context at the time it happens.