Diagnosed shortly after birth with a heart defect, I had my first open heart surgery around 3 months of age. Ever the imaginative one, I started writing short stories and poems very early on in my life. Growing up in a large family of 8 children, I was able to capture certain nuances which provided great fodder for story-telling. While I still continue to receive special care for my congenital heart defect, having had an additional two-open heart surgeries as an adult, I decided to start my own Website: www.dansdiatribe.com “Musings of a Wandering Mind” as another venue to share my thoughts and ideas.
Patrick McGuire had the perfect story; actually, he had a too good of a story. From what we know about Patrick, we know only from what he shared with us through his story-telling. Born to Hilda and George, he was the third child in what was a family of five children, and misfortune seemed to have an attraction to Patrick almost from the time he was able to walk and talk.
The first visit from Lady Luck’s evil stepsister was when Patrick was only 4-years of age, when a bizarre event occurred at the store where George worked. The end result saw Patrick’s father killed along with seven other folks in the store. Found among the carnage, were two of George’s older brothers who had gone to work with their father that fateful day. Following Patrick’s completion in school, Patrick found early on that he had the penchant for public speaking. Through one of his courses in business studies, he told the story of the death of his brothers and father for the first time. That story was delivered with such preciseness that his teacher made a call to a buddy in the union office. Patrick soon found a full-time gig sharing his story across the Country as a keynote speaker for various Clubs and Organizations backed by the financial support ofseveral Labour Unions. The story became a terrific base for recruiting and targeting non-unionized workers and businesses. Patrick had become a living martyr for the need to create better workplace safety policies.
Travelling the country on the Union’s tab provided the picture-perfect life for Patrick, as no one person was able to really get close to him…that was until Maria happened to catch Patrick’s sightline. Up until now, Patrick was very good at maintaining his social circle, being very careful to distance himself from anyone who even remotely seemed interested in getting to know the real Patrick McGuire. Sure, there had been plenty of women who grazed within his pasture, but none had stayed long enough to know who he really was. Maria had a quality which fit perfectly into Patrick’s style: meek and demure, with a need to be controlled…all wrapped up in a gentle body style which blended into the background of a crowded room. While they never married, Maria was able to travel with Patrick and provide the textbook out for him to broaden his distance from anyone who wanted to get close. With her as his mate, he was able to leave speaking engagements to “get home to the missus” without anyone questioning his whereabouts outside of his speaking duties.
While life appeared pristine for Patrick, he was plagued with minor interruptions in his life that while alone may appear trivial, wrapped up together created a stronger storyline in his tales. Included in these disturbances was his mother Hilda succumbing quickly to liver cancer 15-years following the death of his father and brothers. Ever the opportunist, Patrick leveraged this into a secondary speaking topic. Since he added this latest entry as a volunteer stint, his martyrdom was elevated in the audiences where he spoke. Patrick had been in a few traffic accidents; nothing serious, but just enough to add a sprinkling of side-bar stories within his keynote topic to keep the audience engaged. One of his sisters, Samantha, had been struggling with her depression, which Patrick used to perfection in his storytelling. He gently added her condition in both of his presentations, citing either travesty as the reason for her state. His other sister, Jennifer, remained withdrawn from Patrick and his career. Her absence was simply due to her own focus on moving forward in life. She kept her distance from Patrick on purpose, only connecting to chat on the phone for birthdays or Christmas.
Despite Patrick’s popularity on the speaking circuit with both the Cancer Society and the Labour Unions, he managed to elude any national notoriety. Being on the road for more than 10-years, he often felt a pain of jealousy when he tuned into any of the many talk shows on the radio or television, and listening to someone like him sharetheir story of misfortune for the entire world to hear. One of these shows featured Randy Pausch, a professor who had been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer and took his story on the road with his “Last Lecture” speaking series. When Patrick caught sight of one of Randy’s interviews, he knew that he had to raise the bar and deliver his story to a larger audience. He broached this idea with one of his contacts at a local Labour Union, and they jumped at the concept. They were looking at it from a great position to reach a broader audience. Patrick was looking at from a position to further increase his role as a martyr.
Maria admired the notion of getting her lover on a national talk show. Patrick went to her to make this happen because he looked at it as a means to leverage someone else’spromotion of him, versus self-promotion. Nothing deflates a person’s outpouring than flouting one’s pain themselves. Having someone else promote you for free carries greater weight and opens more doors. With a scripted presentation in hand, Maria set about finding an appropriate talk show which would suit Patrick’s strict guidelines: He didn’t want a local gig, and he didn’t want radio. It had to be on television and it had to have a network affiliation. That left the pool of prospects small, so the script had to be powerful. Patrick made sure he prepared the written piece so that it would appear that Maria herself was telling the story without reading from a script. Despite the short list to work from, Maria had been successful in securing a guest spot for Patrick on three daytime talk shows. Patrick would only have to travel for one week, hitting each of the shows at the start of the week. This format meant that Patrick would be available for follow-up interviews on any late-night talk shows that wanted to pick-up on his story.
As expected, Patrick became an instant sensation. Keeping his tale real and humanistic, Patrick was able to provide such detail that those watching and listening felt as if he was speaking about something that occurred just yesterday. Patrick had become one of the most sought-after guests on radio and television talk shows. His sudden popularity created a bit of an upset in Maria’s stable lifestyle. If her email wasn’t crashing due to the surging inbox, it was her phone ringing endlessly: agents looking to write Patrick’s story; newspapers and magazines wanting to interview him; amateur writers and bloggers wanting permission to use parts of his story; and, then there were the fanatics who claimed that they’ve been touched, cured, inspired, motivated, or any other verb which describes the perceived effects of Patrick’s prevarication. Patrick was oblivious to all that was occurring around him, as Maria kept his schedule booked tight as per his request. He wanted to be as busy as possible; mostly because it kept him on the go. While she endeavoured to respond to all, she found the attention all too smothering for her liking. In a dash of panic, Maria went to the one place where she knew that no one would be calling: Jennifer’s house.
Maria had only met Jennifer a few times over the past years she was with Patrick, and each time she felt comfortable with Jennifer. It was almost as if the two had a common interest, but neither of them could see the cohesion. Patrick’s one week of travel had rapidly evolved into multiple weeks away from home. Back when he was on the speaking circuit for the Unions or the Cancer Society, Maria would join him generally because they would have to drive there, and Patrick seemed to crave Maria’s attention. Now that he had graduated to a National icon of sorts, he was now a jet-setter; television networks and big-named talk show hosts were now laying out the red carpet for Patrick. Suddenly Maria was no longer the need to Patrick’s want. While Patrick still looked to Maria to organize his speaking appearances, his companionship of her had waned.
Meanwhile, Jennifer and Maria’s relationship rapidly blossomed. They were like kindred sisters which empowered Maria to rely less on Patrick’s demands and wants. Too caught up in the sudden infamy, Patrick barely flinched when Maria became less and less available to do his bidding. Well within a year of his expanded speaking engagements, Patrick found himself void of places to go and people to present his missive. Blinded by the lights of glory, and absent of a true vision of what he was prophesising, he found himself looking for work…something he never had to do before.
Maria had finally severed her ties with Patrick, and was now living with Jennifer. The Unions had exhausted Patrick’s messaging, and were now focussed on speakers who promoted the need for living wages versus safe workplaces. And, the Cancer Society had found another face to use in their never-ending battle with the deadly disease. Alone and irrelevant, Patrick was now sitting in a diner contemplating how he had gone from such lofty heights to this valley of normalcy. They say that everyone has a mountain to climb in the course of their lifetime; for Patrick it was only then that he realized that the mountain he was climbing was a lot larger than he had originally thought. Instead of folks looking up to him for guidance and hope, it was now him looking to others for direction and promise.