Life is about choices and chances. Big and little breaks.
In 2001 I got the biggest break of my life. Eric Carey told me I needed something better to do with my life and introduced me to Joseph Wunderle and Dave Ewert. Together they told me about the Kirtland’s Warbler Research and Training Program (KWRTP). Learn science from real scientists, get a scholarship to go to university maybe and come back and save the Bahamian environment. What a lucky break!

Of course the next thing I did was take Nicholas up on his invitation to go and play rugby (first time) Boxing Day sevens on the Winton field. I was doing pretty well too, until I got a damn near suplex and broke my collar bone. A trip to the emergency room and my first shot of morphine and the news that healing time would extend beyond the beginning of the first field season in Andros. For the next few weeks I was unsure I would be able to make the Kirtland’s project. Tough break.

Hanging out with Nicholas shortly after that, we went to Hammerhead’s because what else do you do when you are on pain killers and just want to go to sleep. I waited in the car as they chatted and laughed inside. I had the keys, but I took them out of the ignition and put them in my sweater hood before I dozed off. Funny how you remember small choices so vividly. I awoke to gunshots and see a guy come out the back of Hammerhead’s with a huge gun and he looks right at me through the windshield. I close my eyes and turn my head. What else right? What could I have done? He jumped off the back step and ran down the road. Everyone made it out alive. Lucky break maybe?

I still took the KWRTP opportunity. I did not get surgery to pin the bones together, but rather, I learned to tie my shoe laces one handed, strapped myself up and got the job done.
Later on, I had to leave the KWRTP to come to Nassau to bury my Grumma. The first time I ever wrote a eulogy. She had passed away at my sister’s house, with my cousin begging her not to go and my sister telling my cousin to let her go peacefully. (Second hand accounts) I did not get to say good bye and I would have liked to. Today is the anniversary of Grumma’s death.
I turned down the management position at RND cinemas and put off veterinary training supported by Betty Kenning, took the KWRTP opportunity, in part because of some simple words from Grumma. “As long as you are not hurting anyone, do what you want.”
My personal ethos also tells me that if you are not helping anyone, you are hurting someone, so between the two, I have made it to where I am.
Life is a broken path. A series of breaks joined together by the resolve to follow the path left to you. Grumma, thank you.

Leno

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