Barry L. Williams 56 Up

Age 7 (1964) – I was going to be an astronaut and science fair winner. 

Age 14 – Astronauts are panzies. I wanted to be a cop. Just like rough and tough and hard to bluff Frank Knox, our town cop.

Age 21 – Flunked out of the Canadian military at age 17, married at 18 and by 19 had already purchased my father’s auto body shop, our family farm and a 20 stall trailer court. I wanted to be an alcoholic millionaire.

Age 28 – Divorced after 10 years of marriage, three children and quite unhappy being me. I wanted to be creative and took a low paying job in marketing and radio commercial production. By now I had lost the family farm and bankrupted the body shop after things at the trailer court went south. Life felt very unfair and I needed those chips on my shoulders for protection against my elements.

Age 35 – I wanted free booze and to be able to drink on the job. I was a hotel manager. Worked with my new and much more responsible wife Kathy and was wobbily striving to be a drunken hotel magnate. Wayne Felhauer of Amway fame gave me my first book. What could a person get from reading? I was broke and smarting from many years of good shit not adding up and bad shit collecting around me. Struggling with Kathy’s young son in a battle to see who could be more ignorant, me or him. I won that round.

Age 42 – Couldn’t stand to work for the man and by now had attempted dozens of menial jobs from management to swamper on a truck. My youngest daughter died and part of me died with her. Who was I? What was I good at? Nothing it seemed but we continued to run small hospitality businesses for absentee owners. They had to be absent on account of the way I acted. My children were becoming estranged. Another bankruptcy in the retail business. Thank you Sam Walton.

Age 49 – Built a motel business with Kathy from the ground up. After three years of the hardest work of my life some dude burned it down. We settled for pennies on the dollar. Not many more chances left to get rich so I hopped on the construction business bandwagon. It went off a cliff.

Age 56 – Bankrupt again. Lost my own and my wife Kathy’s shirt on a multi-million dollar manufacturing plant that we helped build from the ground up. Now way below zero financially. The end of me wanting to be a millionaire. Everything we worked for now gone. Struggling mentally and emotionally. No time to feel sorry for myself because now we needed the assistance of friends and family for support. Applied for meaningless jobs. None gotten. Started a couple of small businesses on a shoe string. A couple worked somewhat and a couple collapsed.

Started writing in 2010 and have read a thousand books over the past 15 years. Sometimes too smart for my own good. Scared and paranoid at times. Now what? Just trying to survive what I now recognize as self defeating tendencies. Perhaps getting more out of my own way but for certain staying out of the way of others. Fairly happy because now I have plenty of contrast for how much shit can hit the fan. Postponing act two in my life until age 60. Then I’m cutting her lose again.

Thank you, friend.

Barry out.


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