Everyday started looking the same. Robert used to love his life, but few bad breaks took him down another road. One that is never travelled. As his work suffered, he was dismissed with a sweetly disguised pink slip attached to a severance package. It was their way of distancing themselves from a mistake. Robert loved his gal as she was his world. When she found out he was no longer employed, there was a sudden change in her demeanor. Funny how people hit you the hardest just when you’re at the lowest. Working out always cleared his mind and helped to embrace the day. It had been 32 days of sitting in his apartment ordering takeout while his weight jumped 20 pounds. His hobby has always been the races. He loved charting, watching replays, and looking for target horses. But no more. Robert was lost in the fog, and there was no lighthouse to bring him to shore. For what seemed to be an eternity, his life was slowly swirling down the drain. That was until he ran into an old friend at the local diner. Two cups of coffee later, and an hour of conversation, he felt a surge of energy. It had been so long, he almost forgot what it felt like. As he got up and grabbed his coat, he embraced for a final time the friend from his past. He hit the door with only one thing in mind, “I was blind, but now I see.”
Thom was a husband, friend, and a damn good gambler. He used to play in the big money contests, and was always in the running. There was a light that surrounded him, and you just knew good things were on the horizon. That was until a frigid day in January four years ago. “Just about the time when life is feeling like a commercial, fate places a gun against your head.” He was coming home for spaghetti night when he was contacted by the police department. “Can you please come down to St. Charles Hospital, you’re wife has been in an accident.” He said his mind went numb and couldn’t hear a sound. His car just drove to the hospital, and he walked rapidly into a busy emergency room. The nurse on call could see the gaunt look on his face. There was no mistaking who this person could be. She escorted him into a small waiting area away from the general registration. Just for future reference, they don’t bring you in here for good news. Just hours away from his last call home, he was dealing with going home alone. There would be no spaghetti tonight. After months of feeling sorry for himself, and not leaving his home. Thom was contacted by an older priest from his parish. He really didn’t want to talk, but the older man of faith just sat back patiently and listened. Even the silence felt good as it was a break away from dealing with the now. The good Father looked up and told him a little about his life. He was in his late seventies, and how could he imagine someone else’s pain? “Father said he had immigrated from Poland over 60-years-ago. He came to America with the help of the Red Cross, and settled in New York with an aunt and uncle who came over years before the atrocities began. His family, memories, and way of life had all been eliminated.” It was the sage like wisdom of his loving aunt who gave him new hope. – “Today you can be whoever you want. It is up to you to allow your past pain destroy your future, or you can have a fresh start to become the best version of yourself.” The young boy followed her words, and began his new life.” As the priest looked at Thom, he could see a small spark in the corner of his eyes. “My son, I’m going to send over a few parishioners to help you get your home, surroundings, and life in order. The rest will be up to you.”
His life changed slowly, and it started making a little more sense each day. He realized his working life had come to a halt, and was dismissed from his job. He handled big money investments and was a confident machine who devoured life. He just couldn’t fit back into the old mold of himself, and was let go with velvet gloves and a generous package. He had evolved from what once was, to what’s going to be. Thom loved gambling, and used his financial background with patience. He had great days, and even his bad streaks were minimized as he had the patience of a stone. He cashed in his final golden package and investment portfolio. Thom started jogging everyday at 5 am, and his eating habits had never been better. His added weight was gone and looked ten years younger. As he worked on his body and mind, the long road of getting back into playing had begun. He had two loves when I met him. Sports wagering and horse racing were his muse, and as a punter he played more like a maestro. He continued meeting with Father, and his life started taking shape again. For the first time in months he was able to sleep, and awoke each day with vigor. If there was a place to make a wager on Thom, I sure wished I knew where it was located.
He had over $350,000 as a bankroll. The offshore books were fine for players looking for kickbacks and percentages, but it wasn’t for him. Thom had accrued more mileage points for his work that he could fly anywhere in the world about twenty times. There was only one place for him to travel. Las Vegas. When he arrived three months ago, he had the goal of staying for a week or two. But after his first week, he won over $18,000. He made a call to a friend to watch over his house. He was going to be out of town for awhile. Two months later and $640,000 in profit, he decided it was time to come home and take care of a few things. Life needs to be tended like a garden, and he missed his talks with the good Father. Upon arrival, he called to meet Father for breakfast. It was in the same little diner we had coffee, as they had just finished talking and catching up. Just as one man left, Robert walked in with his shoulders weak from carrying the stone. Thom opened up his head again. He wasn’t talking from a far away place where everything was good, he was right there letting him know the broken pieces could be mended. They talked about the track, and his teams he was waiting to play. His gambling gave him a sense of peace. Most players have the sweats, panic attacks and worry, but not Thom. His grasp on himself was like watching a academy performance. If there was ever a man who turned on a dime, he was sitting right before me bright eyed and calm. “I couldn’t hurt anymore. I needed to channel my focus to something I loved. There was a void that could never be filled, and I had to leave the past. I’ll never forget, and from time-to-time a song or a place reminds me in vivid color of what I once had. I look at things differently now, and for the first time my focus and direction are working as a team.”
He shook Robert’s hand, and asked if he’d like to make a trip out for a couple weeks. “Naaah, I have to find my way and get back on track. But I sure could use some of your sound financial direction in the gambling arena.” he said. “No problem. Just don’t hurt the bookies too bad back here.” It’s been months since he had coffee talk. Thom has since sold his house, and moved to Las Vegas. The life he once knew is gone, and re-invented himself into something he thought was only a dream. Life turns on a dime, and in the blink of an eye everything can change. I don’t know which life would have been better, but he is a happy man once again, and that’s all that matters.