FIT@50 / Week 89: Thanks, Thanksgiving

FIT@50 / Week 89: Thanks, Thanksgiving

Earlier this week I’d posted a question about fried or baked. I received plenty of comments that not only left me hungry, but realizing there are many more ways for preparing a turkey.

The next day I asked if you could have anyone – past, present or future join you for Thanksgiving, who would it be. I first expected to get answers like George Washington, Jesus, and Tom Brady.

Instead, the outpouring was so emotional, I once considered removing the question from my feed. Then I considered that everyone was only expressing what they felt most deeply in their hearts.

Deceased and estranged parents, siblings, spouses, children, in-laws, grandparents, friends and loved ones lost way too early or who had grown way too old.

It first felt like a punch in the chest as I read every one of the responses. I thought about my mom who I would’ve loved to have met Liliana Hart and Max. Next I thought about my dad who passed in September, who had it not been for the ravages of dementia, would’ve loved knowing Liliana Hart better and enjoying a little more time with Max.

Then the wrenching of my feelings turned to empathy for all of us who’ve lost uniquely special people in their lives. People who enriched us if by only their mere presence, and not by their bold actions.

I was reminded by so many answers that a deeper lost was felt for those unknown, never known or passed without passing paths. The spouses who never met their in-law, or the adult whose grandparent died long before they were conceived.

Greater still were the wishes of spending a day of thanks with angels miscarried, aborted or taken back into the merciful arms of Christ before reaching an age of accountability.

It was a humbling day of thankfulness, but for so many like myself, it’s also a day of re-mourning, regret, wishful wishes and realizations of never will be’s. But, by the grace of God, it is well with my soul, as I trust it is with yours.

I don’t regret asking that simple question, and I do rejoice in the responses, who instead of harboring the sadness of loss or missing, chose to share not only their replies, but their memories with everyone else. Isn’t that one of the most wonderful ways of ensuring they actually did spend the day with you?

This Thanksgiving was a bit different for Leah Silverii & I, but what looked like a doomed day inside a cross-country airplane ride, ended with leftovers at family and one excited Max. For that, I am also thankful. So here’s to getting through the day with a grin to end the night.

Thanks, Thanksgiving.

Do Good,
Scott Silverii

FIT@50 / Week 80: Being Human

FIT@50 / week 80

Being Human:

I’m going to take a breather on this one. This week’s FIT@50 is probably best spent just being human. I’ve come to understand that it’s okay to just be human. That being FIT@50 means it’s alright to chill out every once and awhile, and allow life to be just so.

Of course, as I say this, it’s on the heels of another fast-paced week of networking and meetings for Liliana Hart and I. But just like the week before and the month before that and the year preceding that, we promised each other we’d slow it down.

Honestly, I don’t know that slowing down is an option.

It’s called being human.

If I could show you, right outside our suite window is an amazing sugar-sand beach with warm crystal waters. We’ve yet to stick a toe in either of them since we arrived on Monday.

Why? I’m really not sure why, but neither of us are complaining. We’ve been blessed to share this week catching up with friends and meeting new people who are as passionate about business as we are.

One of the best parts of this week has been how many people have taken the time to express their condolences for the loss of my dad. I mentioned that our circles on social media allow us to get to know so many people on a personal level. I’ve appreciated everyone who has made the very real effort to pay their respects.

It’s called being human.

Speaking of being human, I got caught up earlier with the reality that it had already been a week since my dad’s passing. I had that brief moment of chest compressing panic, but quickly tapped my heart with the tip of my middle finger to reassure myself it would be okay.

It’s a habit I picked up years ago while still in law enforcement. The bulletproof vest I wore on duty had a heavy plate covering the heart. It’s called a shock plate, or trauma plate. I’d tap that plate with my finger as a reassurance reminder that my heart was covered by a metal shell.

I didn’t realize it was something I still did. Although, having matured in my needs for reassurances, it’s not the steel plate that protects my heart from the trauma of grief. I have God’s reassurance that I’m protected, and blessed with a wonderful wife, family, and friends who care about what that heavy steel plate once protected.

It’s called being human.

Do Good,

Scott

Did you enjoy this message? Please make sure to comment or like below.

 

FIT@50 / Week 79 – Tough Guy, Soft Words

FIT@50 / week 79
Tough Guy, Soft Words:
This week has been a trial. Liliana Hart and I received the phone call every child dreads. My dad had suffered two strokes and a heart attack. He was in the hospital and I should head home immediately.

Problem was, we’re 8 hours away. I drove with the burden of racing life’s clock ticking against me. To tell you I didn’t keep it a bit over the posted speed limit would be to not tell you the truth.

We screeched into the hospital parking lot late that night and rushed to his bedside. Unresponsive, but alive. I’d come in under the wire, but the race to life’s end was still running.

The next day, along with my brothers and sisters, we made the decision to remove life support and entrust him to hospice. The doctor assured us he wasn’t going to wake up and if he did, it would only be incoherent glimpses.

Contrary to their best guesses, my dad woke up three times that day, and with great clarity to speak with us in short replies. It allowed us to share a precious last few moments with him.

I believe God allows mercy for both family and the dying to make peace before their passing. It was a blessing to experience those moments.

My dad was a tough, silent guy from Philly. Typical of his generation, the son of an Italian immigrant, he showed his love for family by providing more than by speaking. I can say that never once did my dad say he loved me.

It wasn’t the way in his time, but I knew he loved me. He was fiercely loyal to my mom and all 7 of us kids.

This week in his last moment of clarity, his eyes were open and he was responding to our questions and comments. Dementia had robbed him of most memories. But he was with us.

We all told him we loved him, and each hoped to hear him repeat those precious three words. But he didn’t—he was a tough, silent man, who showed love instead of expressing it. We all laughed that he was stubborn to the end.

Then one of his grandchildren asked if he wanted us to pray. He said yes.

Holding his hand, I pressed my face near his to hear that sweet, innocent one-word reply to an offer for genuine prayer—Yes.

This was the most soft-hearted word I’ve ever heard him speak. It would appropriately be his very last spoken word. I was able to lead my family in prayer, while my dad watched and listened with a gentle reassurance.

This week at his funeral, as a line of former students and football players lined up with community and family friends, a gentleman offered his condolences and spoke to Liliana and I about how much he enjoyed the way we share our lives on Facebook. Then his words struck me as he leaned in closer.

“I can’t believe such soft words come from a rough, tough police chief.”

This good guy could’ve never know how significant his words were. Unbeknownst to him, he had just delivered God’s message. It was a message that I needed to hear.

I’ve always delighted in looking like my dad, taking after him in so many characteristics and mannerisms. I’m happy to emulate his love for family and wife, but always wanted to make sure I was more vocal with the way I felt.

I understand the value of listening instead of speaking, but I’ve also tried hard to speak when appropriate with words that have meaning.

Like my dad’s final “Yes” to prayer, I think I’ve also become a tough guy, with soft words.

Do Good,
Scott
Chief Scott Silverii, Ph.D.

God covers all the bases.

2015-05-09 22.07.15

God covers all the bases.

Holding Max while he sleeps, I miss my mom more than ever. Always wishing that he could’ve known his “Nonny,” breaks my heart. For most of his young life I seldom mentioned my mom—speaking her name remains painful.

As he matured I began to talk about “Nonny” and show him pictures. She was a God-loving, gentle soul. They would have loved each other.

After 20 years unmarried, I finally began to pray for a wife because God placed that desire on my heart. It took over a year of faithful prayer to meet the woman God chose for me.

Last year we began merging family visits and activities. Her mom also came to visit on one of the early trips. Guess what they  call her?
“Nonny”

God covers all the bases.

Saturday Stretch: When the greatest threat is yourself

Smiling Old LadySaturday Stretch: When the greatest threat is yourself

The love God shows me is undeserved, yet unconditional. Each year I reflect on my son’s birthday and the circumstances surrounding it. The lesson of grace was shown to me that night, so I share it with you today.

My son’s birth delivery came fast and complicated. Down syndrome was the blessing yet unknown at the time. Having zero experience with it—the depth of despair was deep. I hadn’t known sadness that intense since my mother passed away 7 years earlier.

I was so angry with God, and refused to acknowledge Him.
Later that same evening I called to check on test results for someone very dear to me. I sobbed as I shared the Down syndrome diagnosis.

Then I was asked the question still seared into my soul, “Can you cry some more?” How do you answer that? How does a person possess the capacity once drained of hope, to only know more sorrow?

The test results confirmed earlier fears. This dear sweet teenager would lose their sight. A cruel eye disease, RP, had already taken away most of it.

Have you ever ached so deeply in your core that speech escaped you? Have you ever wanted to surrender this life, but were too afraid to even consider it? Have you ever wanted to shake your clenched fist at God, but were unable to move your hands from your silently screaming face?

I wanted to yell at God, and tell Him how much I hated Him for what He did. I didn’t even have the will to move forward much less start a fight. I was choked with sorrow, hate, and defeat.

I uttered something incoherent about leaving. Trapped in a hospital special care unit with no idea where to go, I needed out. I was about to implode and needed solitude.

Stepping onto the elevator, there was a much older lady alone in the deepest corner. I feared the rage in my face would alarm her, so I bowed my head in the other direction.

“How are you son?”

I began to cry. She wasn’t much taller than five feet, yet she reached up and laid my head onto her shoulder. She was silent as I wept.

“Your mother was strong. You don’t have to be,” She sweetly replied.

“You knew my mom?” She didn’t know her.

She told the story of being in the hospital because her husband had fallen during the trip down from Ohio for their anniversary. Said they met here during the war.

We walked together through the empty lobby and toward the hall leading to the guest hotel rooms. Her spirit was gentle and I’d not realized laughter had replaced my tears.

“I’m Waverly,” she said. Her flat Ohio-accent sounded familiarly like the southern drawl of my mother’s voice. Have you ever smelled the sweet aroma of sound?

She lingered at the hallway’s entrance, and hugged me once it became obvious she had no husband there.

“I love you,” she said. Walking away, Waverly disappeared into the empty hallway. Peace, I had peace.

As strong, highly trained, and full of fury I was for wanting a battle with God—He sent a fragile, sweet old angel to open my clenched fists.

God can take your questions, your anger, your shame and your sin. He showed mercy to me in that darkest moment, and healed my shattered spirit with the darling embrace and voice of an angel named Waverly.

Thank you for allowing me to share, and May God bless and protect you—even when your greatest threat is to yourself.

Why are police funerals good for the profession?

angel over blue line

Last month I visited the National Law Enforcement Memorial in Washington, DC. I stood over the granite wall with the carvings of more than 20,000 names of officers killed for no other reason than reporting for duty.

I knelt at panel 38-E:25 and ran my fingers over his name – Octavio Rafael Gonzales. The feigned smile exchanged the grief I’ve carried over the years for a public show of respect. On the very next panel, number 36-E: 27 – Timothy Bergeron elicited the same response.

All three of us attended the Academy together many years prior, and yet there I stood. The significance of the memorial is not lost on me, or the millions of Americans visiting the memorial.

While I recalled the sadness of each friend’s ceremony, I also understand why the ceremony that followed was greater in preparation, tradition and attendance than the majority of all funerals most any civilian will attend. It has to be for the good of the profession.

Law enforcement requires a unique fitting in period, or more formally called “occupational socialization.” To enter into and continue in this fraternity, it is vital that the individual officer drop previous characteristics making them unique for the sake of operating within the homogeneous community of policing. Within the standard operating organization of policies and procedures; long-haired, freaky people need not apply.

The job is referred to as having a “mystique veiled by a sacred canopy.” The symbolism, pageantry and tradition make our calling noble. It is vital to maintaining the highest levels of loyalty that we see this low-wage earning, long-hour working and risk-taking job as a “calling.” These badges of honor endear us to the service of policing.

Why is a police officer’s line of duty death and funeral so impacting of an agency, a community, and a nation? Are there websites, ceremonies and engraved walls dedicated for fallen teachers, bus drivers or public works employees?

These acts of respect are symbolic insurances to officers, that if I also lay my life down in the service to others, that I will too be memorialized by pageantry and procession. Ceremonial symbolism comforts us to know that if our life is lost in the line of duty, we will be honored not for the way we died, but for how we lived. It is our reassurance policy that in our passing, our families will be cared for and we will be missed.

While the death of an officer is tragic, the tradition of ceremony allows officers to gather within a circle of fraternal isolation. Although the outside world may be watching, they are ritualistically excluded beyond the immediate family of the officer lost.

The collection of individual officers adorned in their most formal dress blues are allowed to not only share each other’s grief, but to mourn what may become our own departure. Whether you knew these officers or not, you see yourself in that casket escorted by the hundreds of police motorcycles and cruisers. You see your wife, kids, family and friends weeping over the casket as it’s closed and the folded American flag is handed to your child as she stands at attention trying to be brave.

Police funerals still touch the psyche of an American public. It reminds them of the frailty between good and evil. The institution of policing is held in societal esteem where good guys are not supposed to lose, much less die. The police funeral also remains a part of the acclimation process into American culture. Somber processions creep past businesses and schools as citizens and students stand at staunch attention in either instructed salutes or flag waving.

Yes, oddly enough police funerals are good for the profession. It reminds cops just how thin that thin blue line really is. It is a vivid reminder that instant, sudden or violent departure preparation remains a part of your calling. While it is a prelude to your own death, it delivers on the promise of brotherhood. After all, establishing close personal relationships among peers is one of the most desired accomplishments among officers.
To be wanted. To be accepted. To be respected. To be missed.

My mom passed away over 15 years ago, and I have never returned to the cemetery where her body is buried. I know the spirit who made her the wonderful person she was is not trapped in the mausoleum. Conversely, I return to the National Law Enforcement Officers’ Memorial in Washington D.C. every chance I get to rest my hands over the granite walls and engraved names of my brothers who are heroes not because they died, but because of the way they lived.

It is through the mourning of death that cops celebrate the charity of life in a profession often plagued by violence and loss. Maybe we attend to mourn the officer. Maybe we attend to mourn for ourselves, or maybe we attend to mourn for a lost society. Whichever the reason for attending, ceremonial police funerals are good for the profession.

R.I.P Blue

Please support the NLEOMF by purchasing your copy of 10-CODE: Written by Cops Honoring the Ultimate Sacrifice

All money from every book benefits the police memorial

Why are police funerals good for the profession?

The Eulogy: 2014

The Eulogy: 2014

Over the last few days I’ve witnessed so many who’ve cursed or eulogized the last year; yes 2014. Instead of rejoicing in the 365 days of life God allowed them, they dismiss the gifts of grace in hopes of happenstance instantly or magically changing their circumstances.

What makes a person believe that the tick of a second-hand tock is going to erase the hardships, the failures, the could-have-beens, the should-have-beens and the never-have-beens?

Good things happen, bad things happen, terribly horrible things happen and yes; wonderfully fantastic things happen. This is what we call “Life.”

Were there hard times in 2014? Sure. After 15 years I still miss my mother. After 8 years and counting, I still cheer-lead for my son with Down syndrome to live an amazingly fantastic life. Day after day I still watch my dad as the effects of diabetes and dementia take their collective toll.

This is called “Life” and it’s a gift; rejoice in it. Psalm 118:24 – This is the day that the Lord has made; We will rejoice and be glad in it.

While attending a funeral recently, an 89-year-old gentleman graced me with conversation. In sincerity and optimism he looked squarely at me and said, “Chief, life is too short. Enjoy it.”

What do you say to that?

I thought about the many who hurriedly stowed away 2014 in hopes of better times, the comment I could not respond to on life’s brevity, and my own take on the passing of one calendar year to the next.

I’m going to be honest with you; am I where I wanted to be on several levels at the end of 2014? No, not at all.

– I wanted to increase my walk with Christ

– I wanted to be a better father

– I wanted to be a better son and brother

– I wanted to be a better friend

– I wanted to be thinner and healthier

– I wanted to not be so guarded

– I wanted to cycle more, and eat ice cream less (debatable)

Am I bitter? Have I plastered Facebook with admonishments over a 2014 unlived, have I darkened others’ days with tales of “unfairs” over the last year? No. Not at all. It was a fantastic year. It was a 365 day blessing of mercy that God gifted me. It was yet another year in my life well lived.

This is not an admonishment for pessimistic postings. It’s a reminder that if you think back over the course of the last year you will find;

1. The bad things that could have been avoided, possibly required more of our time and attention.
2. The horrible things that could not be avoided, we should be thankful that we’re still in this life to grieve, learn or recover.
3. The good things that happened probably resulted from our hard work and dedication.
4. The fantastic things that happened probably included someone else’s support along the way.

If you sat on your thumbs in 2014 waiting for what you thought owed and were disappointed, then sitting on your thumbs in 2015 will probably only result in much more soreness and even more criticisms come next New Year ’s Eve.

Don’t be so quick to eulogize the passing year for its failures, as they represent the “you” who experienced it. Instead, embrace the positive and learn from the each opportunity.

Failure is not getting knocked down. It’s refusing to get back up.

See you at the end of yet another superhero’ish calendar year 2015.

Scott
Originally posted at scottsilverii.com – The Eulogy: 2013