imagesTwenty-five years or so ago I had a business partner named Kenny. My two young girls loved Kenny a lot, and truth be told, I did too. He was the smartest, kindest, biggest hearted guy I had ever meant and he taught to me how to love others, unselfishly. He also taught my kids and I how to make “Kenny Burgers”, which at the time we thought could not be beat. Simple recipe, salt, pepper, a little oregano and a lot of Worcestershire sauce, Bar-B-Q’ed with some melted cheese and we were in heaven. Kenny also loved his Budweiser. As close as we were he never really opened up. When I asked him how he was, he would always say, “I’m dying.” I usually said, “ain’t we all?” with more of a finality than a question. Well, Kenny, as much as he loved others, never loved himself.  On several occasions I would go over his house and bang on the door for ten minutes before he would finally stumble to the door, eyes half-open. He’d pull it all the way open on his way back to his den. There he’d sit in his favorite overstuffed chair with empty beer cans everywhere and several ashtrays overflowing, and the TV blaring in the background. His stomach was distended, not from the drinking, but for the inability to pee anymore. On two or three occasions, another close friend Jim and I would take him to the hospital where they would drain the waste out of him. But the saddest part was that when he talked he would always speak of his ex-wife, the one he couldn’t keep, the mother of his son, and the true love of his life. They could never really “communicate.” He always ended ever bitter, sad story with “ain’t love grand?” I felt so bad because I never knew what to say. Whether is was a deep-rooted problem he never would discuss, or just the throes of alcoholism, he drank himself to death. He died way too young. From Budweiser or a broken heart, we will never know.
I miss him and think of him every time I eat a hamburger and I still make Kenny Burgers all the time, and, my grown kids happily do too. I like to think of myself as a happy ending guy and the burgers help, but the basis of his story has never left me.
Ten years ago at the ripe old age of 52 I found what I thought was that “true love” that ruled Kenny’s life.153f542828946a6f72da18784bbe18ca The first 3 years of life with her were so much fun, and then the seriousness of a commitment became way to overwhelming for her. No doubt we loved each other. I could feel it in her touch, in her kisses and in the pain in her eyes when we would “end” our relationship, over and over. Like Kenny, I will probably never know the deep seeded motivator that rules her life. I have my guesses, which to me are real, but never substantiated by her, except for the pain in her eyes when it rears its ugly head.
So for seven or eight years we have been going back and forth. Not because my love faltered, but her commitment to us did. In times of compassionate trust she is able to tell me how she feels and why our momentum keeps getting stalled. In a weak voice she will say, “I can’t love until I learn to love myself.” And if I try to find the meaning behind the words our conversation ends with, “I don’t know.”
It has been tough on me to see her walk away. No matter how many times she does, I still can’t believe it and am surprised at my shock, and also at my pain. Once while I was in cancer treatment, fighting for my life, I could not turn to her, and in the long run she left. Her explanation was that she couldn’t handle watching me like that. On several occasions, no matter how close I got to her family, I was dis-invited to a family function. Usually with no explanation. Whenever I try to push for an answer she would shut off her phone and therefore shut me out of her life. This would go on for days, weeks and sometimes months. Sometimes it didn’t take a family function, just getting too close. I was overjoyed when I felt that she had finally “let go” and was able to love again and then she would bail out with little or no excuse. Time would continue to go by as life continues to go on. I always knew the answer when I would ask her , “why did you come back?” She would always say “I don’t know” and I would accept it, as long as she was back and holding on to me.
After surviving the big “C”, and in the middle of another break-up,  I started following my own dream and moved to a warmer climate. Sure enough things changed again, and once again she proclaimed her love for me, and swore to me that she could be romantic, and that she was finally ready to move ahead. On occasion she opens up to me, and again I agreed to give our relationship a chance, but this time on my turf. I am not leaving paradise for any reason, but can think of many reasons to join me in paradise. It has been over a year now and she has committed to and backed out of two dates for moving. Just last month she came down and spent a week with me that was like a dream come true. Happy every second. She promised she would quit her job to be with me. Then she went home and a promise was broken again. She decided her job was more important than our relationship. She lives motivated by fear… what if and what if…. Now she said her boss will let her work from home, even if home is in paradise. I still say yes… please be with me and live happily ever after, even if it’s only for a while. You know the definition of crazy? Doing something over and over expecting different results. We shall see.
I leave the door open because I understand what my dear friend Kenny taught me about love. Lack of communication can crush a heart and ruin a beautiful friendship, and destroy the hope of a beautiful, loving, life together. I keep hoping we bridge that communication gap. Kenny used to say, “don’t pity me.”
I don’t pity you Kenny, I love you. You taught me unconditional love. I still think of myself as a happy ending guy and God gave me another imgreschance at life. So for my true love, I’ll leave the light on.

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