I usually write about my children or family in this blog. The funny things that happen throughout our lives and how I try to raise my kids to be responsible adults that make a contribution to society. I’ll have some of that in here today but I mainly will be focused on losing someone.
I recently lost a very close friend of mine. Someone I’ve known since the eighth grade. Now that doesn’t mean we were always close. I’d say always friends but we didn’t become close until around five or six years ago. I helped him get a job and place to stay when he moved back to New Orleans from Los Angeles. He let me move into that place when my ex wife and I split up. I don’t think we even realized along the way how close we became.
The thing about Josh (yes we had the same first name which made it fun meeting people when we were together) was he would always make you laugh. If you were having a bad day he was there to change that. He was also there if you offered to buy lunch, but the company was well worth a trip to Dat Dog or Company Burger. No matter how sad he was he would never let you have a bad day if he could help it. Most things he would say to make you smile are definitely inappropriate for this post but he was such a genuine person. You couldn’t help but love the guy no matter what.
Josh also loved my kids and they loved him. Always wanting to go see Mr. Josh and always waking up way too early when the stayed the night which Mr. Josh loved. He was definitely not a morning person but he would always be up for a trip to the zoo or the French quarter with the kids. He was forever a kid inside and that just stood out when he’d tag along for our adventures.
At French Quarter Fest with Josh and the kids
Monday, April 25, 2016 was when I got the news. I heard really quick from a mutual friend. Realizing that his family hadn’t heard the news I knew I’d have to make one of the toughest calls I would ever make. I called his mom and gave her the news. Cried with her. Told her all the things I could think of but nothing would make it better. So hard to do that knowing the words I told her would break her heart. But it wasn’t over. I knew eventually I’d have to tell my kids. They loved Mr. Josh. They’ve dealt with death before but it was never someone this young. Someone they hung out with and even though Josh is almost 40 they had a child’s friendship with him.
Needless to say I’m proud of my children. Julia asked her mom if she could go to Josh’s services to say goodbye. Coleman couldn’t go because he had a baseball game. The little slugger hit a home run and said he did it to honor Mr. Josh. With how much he loved baseball I’m sure that would have meant the world to him. It showed me as a father how well his mother and I have raised them. That they wanted to say goodbye and were thinking about him regardless of what they ere doing. It also made me feel so much more deeply for his mother and family. Once upon a time Josh was there innocent little boy. It breaks my heart with theirs to know they have to go through this. I just hope they know how much their son meant to the world he touched. He may be gone too soon but he definitely left a mark that only he could. He will be missed.
Now Josh would not want me to end this all sad. So I give to you the most ridiculous video I could find of our dear friend Joshua Michael Clarkson. May you rest in peace you crazy bastard. I love you more than you ever knew buddy. The most unique person I’ve ever had in my life by far.
“Play is often talked about as if it were a relief from serious learning. But for children play is serious learning. Play is really the work of childhood.”
Some days I just have to marvel at the masterminds my children have become. Yesterday my son told me that he went to Toys”R”Us and got the lizard man from the “Amazing Spider-man” movie. He proceeded to tell me how I could get the Spider-man toy for myself. That way we could play together. It always makes me happy when my son wants to spend time with me, and that he still thinks of me coming home to play while I’m gone.
Then reality set in. It dawned on me that I have been duped by the greatest criminal mastermind of our time since Lex Luther. He knows that when daddy gets his Amazing Spider-man toy that daddy will play with it for a week with him and then leave for another trip on the boat. That’s when The Amazing Spider-man becomes Coleman’s new toy. That diabolical little genius. Julia would never scheme like this. (Ok that’s a lie. She stole $200 out of my wallet at the ripe age of two years old and placed the money in her princess piggy bank.)
There is only one thing to say about this… Well played son! After I’ve worked thirty-five days on this river away from you I’m thrilled to buy a ten dollar Spider-man for a few hours of hanging out in your room just so you can steal it from me later. Of course this means I’ll have to buy my own Barbie or some other girl toy to play with my little princess too. It’s only fair right? With under a week left I’m just happy to get back home to make up for lost time.
It gets hectic after you’ve been gone. Lots of catching up to do at the house. A honey-do list that may have gotten a little lengthy. Just remember the most important thing you need to catch up on may be a tea party with a couple teddy bears or a vicious battle between the Transformers and the X-Men. Just don’t go back to work wishing you’d just said yes to a playful little boy or girl instead of saying “we’ll do it later”.
“Daddy I want chicken nuggets!” This is one of the most repeated sentences by my son. Followed by pizza or candy or a million other foods chock full of enough unhealthy crap that if consumed on a large enough scale it would kill a horse.
It’s tough to get kids to eat good, whole, unprocessed foods. Sometimes it seems impossible. The best way is to lead by example. Well that brings us to the diet of a tugboat captain. It’s not any better than my sons. In fact it’s based on the four food groups: coffee, cigarettes, fats and cake. It may not be that bad for most but we aren’t the healthiest people on earth. That doesn’t help our jobs much since the coast guard gets increasingly strict on our health by the minute.
I myself was no different when I first made it to the captains chair. I was consuming mass quantities of garbage on and off the boat. My diet consisted of frozen pizzas, hot pockets and honeybuns on the boat. At home it was a combination of Five Guys, Sonic and Ben and Jerry’s. I remember looking over on this very boat while I was training and my captain laughing as he watched my waistline grow at an epic rate.
Then there was home. My eating habits were becoming my kids eating habits. If daddy gets Sonic then we must have it also!! It’s only fair right? It made me think back to my childhood. None of us were pressured to eat healthy and that leads to some fairly poor eating habits later, a trend I didn’t want to set for my children.
Well for us out here it starts on the boat. Face it this is our home usually at least 2/3 of the time. That doesn’t make it easy. We can’t hop in the mini van (I don’t have a mini van) go to town and buy chicken breasts, grass fed beef, baby spinach or other healthy choices if we run out. We can’t go to a gym so exercise can be difficult. We all just have to remember to do what we can, take whatever steps we can take, and lead by example. It’s not always easy but it’s not impossible and when you give your kids these healthy habits its something that will stick with them for the rest of their lives, probably improving their health as adults. You don’t have to force a bunch of crap they don’t like down their throat. Just cook more lean meats and vegetables. Let them eat fruit for snacks instead of that bag of M&M’S.
So the next time you call that deckhand in the galley think twice. Don’t ask for that pizza topped with Swiss Cake Rolls, sprinkled with skittles and a side of candy coated hog cracklin’s dipped in deep fried Hershey’s syrup topped with whipped cream. Get something that you won’t regret later. We already sit on our asses 12 hours a day. We don’t have to try and make them wider at the same time.