Goinkalinks Need Not Apply

My father was a busy man. He worked for a large corporation and ran the front lines for them at the district level. A number of years in management, he knew how to work a balance sheet and cut shrinkage. It was a normal practice when I was young to go into work on Sundays (when there were things such as 'Blue Laws') to do price changes and stock shelves.

Daddy knew what worked and how to manage people. He could joke with you and get his point across subtly, or, he could be down right, in your face, quietly harsh. My brother and I were pretty much handled as employees of his. We had our work to do, expected outcomes, and when the business of home was running well, we'd all get a bonus (good Christmas presents or a needed family trip).

The man had a way of using the psychology courses that he took in college to his advantage when he was raising my brother and I. Reverse psychology? My old man was the master of it. So much so, that I think they used him for the examples of 'what worked'. He also utilized a vague label, one that makes me smile today, but back then, would make me extremely concerned.

"You, Suzy, are the Chiefest of Goinkalinks" he pronounce to me at the family dinner table one evening.

"I'm a WHAT?"

"Goinkalink. You know... there are schmoinkers, nixies, and then, there are goinkalinks. You, my dear, are certainly a goinkalink if I ever saw one."

I sat there, not certain as to whether or not this was an admonishment of behavior, or a reflection of my personality. Exactly what the old man wanted. Being a very mature seven year old, there were certain things that I was certain of, but this goinkalink thing, I wasn't sure if I really fit the mold.

"Daddy, what's a goinkalink?"

"Why, it's exactly what YOU are. What you do, what you say, everything, it makes you a goinkalink." He chomped on a piece of meat, smirking at me, and chuckling to himself.

When Dad didn't like what we were doing, but realized that it was his 'opinion', he would pull that now family-famous moniker out. If he wanted us to think about our next move, he wanted us to take our own view, we were graded at some level: chief, head, general, or colonel of goinkalinks.  At times, when Dad knew that he was being a bit hot headed, and to diffuse the situation, we were goinkalinks. When he wanted us to figure out that what we were doing was being independent, taking positive steps, taking calculated risks, we were goinkalinks.

To be a goinkalink was to reflect on what you said or did, review your station, think about where you were going, on more than one level. It was a 'time out' for both Daddy and us, to figure out whether or not one of us was out of line or over-reacting. It was a label that, just in the sheer craziness of the sound of it, made you stop.

As time went on and we grew older, Daddy would call us goinkalinks in a loving manner, to tease us. It was our job to figure out whether we were doing something positive, or if it was a negative. We had caught on to the old man's game.

One pleasant summer evening, my brother and I cornered him at the back yard picnic table. He divulged his little secrets to us. Daddy explained that he could 'label' us, and allowed us to create what a goinkalink was in our own minds eye. He was allowing us to find our own moral compass, with a bit of guidance. Those child and developmental psychology courses in the late 50's and early 60's really created some twisted souls, Daddy being one of them.

Flash forward to twenty years later.... My husband and I were with our two youngest children, seated in my parents living room. We were talking about something that I thought was pretty 'normal' in our world, when I saw a flash in my Dad's eyes, one that said 'I don't know what that kid said, but it didn't sound right' moments. To save Daddy from embarrassment, and to save my children from a lecture on what would and wouldn't be accepted conversation, I jumped up and exclaimed "Just like a goinkalink to say that, don't you agree Dad?"

The old man's eyes twinkled. A warm glow came across his face, and his body relaxed.

"Indeed. I didn't realize you were raising a bunch of goinkalinks Suzy! You should have said something."  looking directly at my two children, and then back at me, winking and giving a soft smile.

"What's a goinkalink?" my 15 year old daughter asked. Her 13 year old brother seated next to her, placing himself on the edge of the couch, was also eagerly awaiting the definition of this new and exotic word, a title, the label they'd never heard before.

"Why, it is YOU!" I proclaimed.

Did you Win Powerball?

The line moved slowly. There were numerous people, bustling in and out of the store, things to do, errands to run, all on a time frame that seems too small for any given day. I stood in line, shifting my weight back and forth, almost patiently waiting to get to the cashier. The buzz around the customer service center was about the large $600 million Powerball that was about to be drawn that very evening.

I shuffled my items down the beltway toward the woman at the scanner. She smiled, asked if I found everything I needed. My reply to her, "Yes, thank you, but I need a winning Powerball ticket please. Make it four tickets, there are four of us at home."

The girl rang up my total, ran off my four chances at a blissful life, and handed them over with a smile and a wish of 'good luck'. The ticket was then unceremoniously folded with the receipt and placed in my clutch. As I walked out of the store, I began to think of what I would do with all of that money.

My first priority? I'd contact the only CPA that I've trusted. Invite him to fly down to Florida, meet with me, and offer him a 'full time' position working for me to take care of my vast sums of cash. He'd be needed, as I'd have too many 'friends' that haven't recalled my telephone number in years, calling me up and asking about my health.

Next? I'd set up trust funds for my kids. Certain amount every year ~ done. A stipend to be paid out to each set of parents, as well as each sibling ~ done. No 'going back to the trough'. I'd fix up my home, find a family that needs it, and give it to them. I'd buy a nice car (under $40k) that gets good gas, one for each of us. Then, I'd throw a great end of year party for the students at the grade school I work at. There would be enough to finance the completion of the 140 schools without Wi-Fi in the district. I'd set up a fund that would be specifically used for specialists for ESE and Gifted students for each school that has a need.

My next venture would be to fund shelters to take care of abandoned animals. Give them a home, medical care, and find permanent homes with loving families.

Lastly? I'd just find a nice couple of homes to buy. Nothing too big. Something a tad secluded. Hire a teacher full time for my kids, and find some local grocery store that wouldn't know who I was, so I could continue to grocery shop without problems.

My list, when it was done, included a number of friends, some that I haven't seen in years. Nothing too elaborate, but a year's salary to each sounded appropriate. After the list was tallied, the numbers crunched, I realized that I would be giving away 9/10ths of what the prize was to be. I'd be living a comfortable life, and as long as I was not a spendthrift with that 1/10ths, I'd be good until my final days.

I guess I didn't win tonight, but what a nice opportunity these few hours gave me to dream. I figure that it was OK that I didn't win. I was going to give most of it away anyways.

A Broken Soul to Mend

What do you do with a broken soul? Very few of us are lucky enough to have walked through life without having our heart trounced upon and torn asunder. Our soul, often a fragile thing, is something that can, in life, wither to near non-existence out of desperation to save what is left of what we know as 'self'.

Our lives are inextricably intertwined, all of us. Each serving a purpose in supporting either the nurture or the demise of that heart that is so tenuous perched on serenity or sadness. Case and point: My more than weekly visits to the local grocer has created and fostered a unique bond with those that work there. They know when I'm 'spoiling' my husband with his Rocky Road, and when my children have a sleepover by what I purchase. In turn, I asked them about their lives, how their college courses are going, what time the grandchildren are coming over to visit, and whether the wife got the application for soccer camp. It is a brief visit, but a nurturing one.

My visit the other day, quite like any other, was filled with sundries for the home. Upon checking out, the cashier said "You don't look like your cheerful self today ~ are you ok?". It was a bad day, it's been a grueling few years. I imparted a short comment about worrying about my children, and how difficult the present moment seemed. What came next was an amazingly earnest, brutally heart-opening moment.

"I worried myself. Had done so for years. Tried to protect and shelter my kids from the ups and downs of this world." the cashier started.

She stepped out from the small area behind the scanner and began bagging the last of my groceries. With a deep breath, she stopped, stared me directly in the eyes, and began again.

"My daughter had been given everything, I made certain that she went to a good school, fought for her when things weren't going right, and made sure that if she was emotionally uncomfortable, I would be there to take that problem away." Her tone deepened, her voice became quieter. She was sharing something lodged deep in her heart.

"My girl got out on her own, and couldn't handle it. She buried her emotions and problems with drugs and alcohol when I wasn't there to resolve her issues, because she never learned to deal with it by herself. She died of an overdose two years ago." My heart sank at her candidness; she had just opened up her chest cavity, bared her broken-ness, and was sharing it with me.

"Be grateful for the times you can't save them now. They will learn how to handle it, become stronger, and hopefully, a better person for it. This too shall pass."

My eyes began to well up with tears. Ache poured out of my heart, I was no longer thinking, but feeling completely, the anguish and lack of control that a parent really has. The feelings that we all have at times, when the world isn't working the way we need it to.

Tears streamed down my face, and the woman with a broken heart moved passed the bagging carousel to me. We gave one another a hug, knowing that there was nothing else we could do but share our hurt.

I left the store, still crying. I guess I needed it, and I guess my hurt helped my cashier feel that she was making some difference in someone else's world, view the problems at hand in a different light. I was reminded that we all carry a pain, an ache, a hurt. Something that can one day, hopefully, heal.