Dec 28

Best Christmas ever!

I know, it’s a big statement.  But, I’m a big statement kind of guy.  Just ask anyone.

This Christmas season started off with the appreciation that I was here and could even see.  Once we had that, as a foundation, we built on the time-honored traditions of years past.  During our trip to Grandma & Grandpa Wagner’s, over Thanksgiving weekend, we visited Grandpa Brueggemeier’s grave-site and placed a wreath from Grandma Brueggemeier, who now lives near us in the Columbus area.

The next four weeks were spent baking, eating, shopping, cleaning, decorating and eating.  It’s true that I had much to do with two of those tasks.  (Fortunately it was listed twice! :-))  At this rate, I may be next year’s Santa Claus.  That is if I’m not mistaken as the fattened Thanksgiving turkey.  This is getting a little out of hand.

During those four weeks we also had holiday concerts where Grant, Jess and Colin all played their respective instruments.  I refrained from yelling “Go Wagner!” at any of them.  When we weren’t being wowed audibly, we were being entertained visually.  This included Colin as point-guard, Jess as defensive-specialist and Grant taking the ACT.

On the 23rd, we headed north to Wayne, OH.  That night we watched Pirates of the Caribbean (1 & 2) and got up the next morning for the Saturday morning breakfast with me brothers.   Dan,  Dave, Nick and Neil were there.  Kyle was otherwise occupied.  After the good spirited shouting match had ended, dad and I set off for another shopping trip.  Mom and Connie enjoy sending us out the morning of Christmas eve.  (I think it helps them get more preparations done)  Of course, while we were out, we had to call them.  Much like the Miracle Whip vs. Cool Whip debacle of ’94 some items on the list were not clearly defined.  Once we had cleared the course we were ful-steam ahead.  You’ll be glad to know that we returned ahead of schedule with everything accounted for.

Christmas-eve at my mom and dad’s was 60+ people eating, drinking and sometimes yelling at once.  My gosh does it get loud in there!  While there I finally met my newest grand-niece Karly Miller (3 months).  She’s absolutely adorable.  Then there was the grand-nephew that I had only met once, Benjamin Wagner (8 months).  He was all decked out in his Santa suit and ready for his first Christmas morning.  While were waiting for the kids to start unwrapping presents I was “talking” with, Benjamin’s 2-year old sister, Lily.  She gave me five and responded when I said, “Merry Christmas” but I couldn’t hear what she had said.  So, I bent down to hear what she was saying with my right ear.  That’s when I lost sight of her.  That was until I felt her lips kiss my cheek.  Awwww!  I was quite surprised.  That was one of the first times that my lack of vision had a positive result.

Christmas morning was spent at Grandma and Grandpa’s.  Mysteriously, Santa knew where we were.  Everyone got what they wanted and I got another milestone.  We traveled back to Hilliard and celebrated the next day with the Brueggemeier’s.  We met our grand-niece Monica Brueggemeier for the first time.  One of the most memorable highlights to the day was when Monica’s 3-year old brother Matt saw that our toilets said “American Standard” on them.  He said, “hey dad, that’s my name!”.  With all of those letters, it must be.  Too cute!

When I wake up in the morning, I still check my vision.  Can I see the ceiling fan?  …yep!  Can I see the clock? …yep!  How about with both eyes propped open? …. not so hot!  I’ll take it … Best Christmas ever!

Dec 21

What’s new?

Many of you have asked how I’m doing.  I’m happy to say that things are going quite well.  It’ll be hard for you to look me in the eye and NOT wonder, “how can he say that?”.

A friend and customer of mine innocently asked me this week, “what can’t you do that you wished you could?”.  I started to answer and thought, … well I can drive.  Although, it is still uncomfortable for me (and certainly my passengers!).  I’m able to make it to all of my kids events … and that’s a lot.  I can see well enough to read and work on the computer.  I make it to all of my appointments on my own and can carry a conversation with most anyone.  I can golf, although not very well.  Some may say that I didn’t golf very well with two eyes.

My stamina has improved greatly.  There were probably 6 months where you would find me napping during the middle of the day.   There were many times that I just had to close my eyes because I was either tired of seeing or unable to keep my lids open.  Those days are gone.  Just last week, there were  several days when I left home at 7:00 AM and didn’t return until 7:00 that evening.  It’s true, I was more excited about that then Connie.  Work has been refreshing.

I’m sort of an adrenaline junkie.   The excitement that builds in my body when I have a big day approaching is kind of troubling.  If I have golf in the morning, I’m up at 4:30 or earlier.  If I watch a suspense-filled TV show or sporting event, I can’t get to sleep for hours.  Once I wake up, even if it’s to use the restroom, I start to think about my day ahead.  That’s probably not different from many of you.

More refreshing than work has been my family.  Colin, Jess and Grant have a dad and Connie has a husband again.  We’re planning a big trip and hope to be able to share it with everyone soon.  There was a time when I didn’t want to plan a vacation.  That was when I wasn’t sure if there was another shoe that was going to fall.  I hated the idea of making plans only to have them changed abruptly.

Time heals all wounds.

Dec 12

Believe!

If you happen to see our family Christmas card this year, you’ll see that it says BELIEVE.  This has a lot to do with where we (the Wagner’s of Hilliard) have come from over the past few years.

When we moved back to Ohio after 5 years in Illinois, I remember going to change our voter registration status.  We’ve always believed in voting and exercising our voice.  However, when we moved to Columbus in December of ’95, I couldn’t tell you what I believed in.

We went to register to vote and couldn’t tell you if I was Democrat or Republican.  It may have been the generation, but I had no idea what the differences were.  I’m assuming many of today’s youth has a better idea.  At least I hope so.  However, they need to understand that there is more to it than just despising people that have more than them.

Born and raised a Catholic, I knew that I believed in God.  That was my reason for going to church every Sunday.  It wasn’t until we moved to Columbus and started to attend the Lutheran church that I came to understand why I believed in God.

My first professional passion was project management.  My second was sales.  Both of these jobs take a great deal of human interaction and passion to be successful. That interaction centers around leadership and relationships.  My beliefs shaped the leader in me and my profession allowed my beliefs to grow.  Something that you may not know about me is that I wear my heart on my sleeve.  Having said that, I’m sure beliefs have been apparent to many other people.  We’ll call it a fringe benefit.

Look at any profession and you will see a separation in the level of performers.  More often than not, you can go back to their belief system.  Don’t get me wrong.  This is not always the case.  There are lot of very high-performers that don’t have a great belief system.  That doesn’t make them bad, just not in “the norm”.  Also, you have to understand that when I say “belief system”, that doesn’t have to be the same beliefs as other high-performers.

When I went to AZ for surgery I knew that I was doing the right thing – even though doctors told me that there was a 25 % chance that conditions could worsen.  There was even a chance that I could die.  I had to believe that this was the best chance for a full recovery.  It was not a difficult decision for me.

I firmly contend that MY belief system allowed me to make that decision.  It has helped me get out of bed, meet with old friends and make new ones.  Seriously, there are people that I’ve met with in the past 9 months that have never known Brian Wagner with two good eyes.  My belief system has enabled me to have my picture taken and even write this blog.

When they were performing the surgery they had to opportunity to remove both cavernous malformations.  For some reason they only took one.  There must have been a reason that they didn’t remove the other.  Yes, they said it was in a much different location.  But, they had to believe my chance for a full recovery was better if it were left.  I wonder about that other lesion every day.

However, my beliefs allow me to carry-on as if nothing has changed.  One of these days, I hope to return to the Barrow Institutute in Phoenix and have the other cavernous malformation removed.  It would be nice if that were not done as a necessity but as prevention.  The former may mean a blog-writer (BW) that is a much different person … on the outside.  This BW will certainly be the same on the inside.   You’ve gotta believe.

Dec 05

A Stubbed Toe

For the past nine months I’ve walked into and in front of people almost every day.  If you’ve been on my right side you’ve been ignored, unnoticed and sometimes even gotten the inadvertent right hand slap.  You know who you are.

One thing that surprisingly hasn’t happened is a stubbed toe.  I’ve gotten in trouble for not seeing many things on right.  Fortunately those thing haven’t been table legs, door jams or chairs.  Well at least when I didn’t have shoes on.

I remember in 1993, Connie and I were living in the Chicago area as DINKS (Dual Income No Kids).  We had a pretty simple life in Bloomingdale, IL.  It was simple, but difficult for me being so far from home.  After all it was 258 miles from where I grew up near Wayne, OH.  That’s even 10 miles farther than Connie’s Luckey, OH address.

Most nights, for me, meant having dinner at the coffee table in front of the TV.  Pizza was a frequent menu item.  When Connie wasn’t  preparing for the next day’s or week’s sales calls, we’d usually watch TV play a game of cards.  It was either Uno or Rumy.  The former was more fun because she always lost at Rumy.  I probably wasn’t a very good winner.

This one particular night, I remember having a few beers after dinner and walking to the restroom.  It was a small two bedroom apartment, so it was a five-step walk.  Not being totally sober, I turned the corner and with full force hit my small toe on the door-jam of the restroom.  The numbing agent kept the pain from being too bad,  The next morning was another story

I hobbled for days and knew that the toe must be broken.  But, we could I do?  No doctor was going to be able help with the exception of pain killers.  It was just something that I needed to deal with.

It would be tough to draw any parallel between a stubbed toe and brain surgery.  But, that’s one of those life circumstances that may not define you but it goes into making you who you are.

I remember being “sick” and had to stay home from school.  Nick, who is my brother that’s 10 years older than me, would always antagonize me.  He seemed to know when I wasn’t sick and would poke and prod.  How I dealt with that also made me who I am.  Everyone should have grown up with seven older brothers.  I can’t think of a better way to stay humble.  They have no sympathy for stubbed toes.

I can’t have a post on December 4th without wishing Happy Birthday to two very important men,  Wally Wagner (my dad) and Eric Gowans.  These two were born 44 years apart, but you’d never know it.  It’s true that my dad can talk to anyone and so can Eric.  Life’s journey makes us what we are.  I can’t imagine who I would be without either of them.  Happy Birthday!