The toughest Aikido martial arts class I ever taught was a bunch of teenage girls. I’d been brought in to teach at one of the most exclusive, private all-girl prep schools in Washington, DC. The kids in this school were straight out of the movie Mean Girls — privileged, entitled, ruling their own corner of the world.
When I was 16 years old I got into a fight with an older guy who accidentally tapped my bumper in traffic. I started yelling at him from my car. He yelled back. Pretty soon we were both out of our cars shouting at each other in the middle of the street. Then he pushed me and I pushed him back. Things went downhill fast after that.
I got married at age 45. My first child, a beautiful baby girl, was born soon after. More and more people are waiting to get married and start a family later in life. However waiting to get married and start a family at age 45 is a stretch — as my Mom often reminded me.
A few days after my 34th birthday, I was diagnosed with testicular cancer. Surgery successfully removed the tumor, along with my right testicle, and I was cancer free. The only real suffering I went through was the relentless jokes from my buddies. We all had a ball laughing at my predicament. (Please tell me you got that…) Several months later after thinking I beat cancer, my doctors and I discovered cancer had spread to my lungs. All jokes stopped.
I’m holding a live hand grenade — yes, in my hand. I can’t remember if it’s “thumb clip, pull pin” or “pull pin, thumb clip”. I’m an 18-year-old kid going through Marine Corps bootcamp, and I’m frozen with fear.