God sure has a funny way of teaching life lessons. For those who believe that they alone hold the keys to their own destiny, these lessons can be hard, and in some cases, fatal. For me, faith was a merely a concept. By my early 20s, due to self-perceived shortcomings, I deemed myself a complete failure. With an obsession to excel, self-determination, hard work, and a quixotic quest for redemption, I fought my failure demons for the next two decades. At the age of 46, I had almost conquered them, when, on June 7, 2010, I had a massive heart attack.
Summer in the Waiting Room: How Faith, Family, and Friends Saved My Life is my story. It’s the inspiring tale of a boy who grew up in a working-class neighborhood, failed miserably at college and fell into despair and hopelessness, met the love of his life, married, finished college, raised a family, and found success in business and public office. It’s also the story of a man who vowed never to fail again and worked tirelessly to redeem himself, only to find true redemption, while in a state of complete helplessness in the ICU, through faith in God, and the love and support of family, and friends.
For the past 26 weeks, I’ve posted excerpts of the story. I hope you’ve enjoyed reading it so far. Summer will take a hiatus until August 6th. This will give you a chance to catch up or read installments you missed. Each excerpt can be found by clicking on the “Summer in the Waiting Room” tag to the right of this page.
Here’s a chapter by chapter summary of the excerpts posted to date:
The Prologue uses the Giant Dipper, a 1920s era roller coaster at the Santa Cruz beach and Boardwalk in Santa Cruz, California, as a metaphor for the first 46 years of my life.
Part One The Giant Dipper: November 6, 1963 – June 17, 2010
Chapter 1: 48 Viewmont Avenue
Chapter 1 chronicles my life growing up in the working-class east San Jose neighborhood at 48 Viewmont Avenue. This chapter sets the foundation for the values I learned from my parents and follows my idyllic childhood through my failure at college, and subsequent period of drinking and dead end jobs.
Chapter 2: Sandra Peralta
Chapter 2 introduces my future wife Sandra and her family, a loyal and tightly-knit unit. This chapter describes our long courtship, marriage, and starting a family. It also recounts my efforts to return to college, graduate, and start my journey toward redemption of my college failure.
Chapter 3: Redemption
Chapter 3 follows my obsessive quest for self-redemption following college graduation. For 16 years, I worked around the clock seeking success and recognition as an entry-level political aide, corporate manager, director, and vice president, political chief-of-staff, and high school trustee.
Chapter 4: 360 days – Beginning on August 6th