What If?

Real Estate Agent with KW at the Parks 651506396

I have a good friend whose career path and mine intersected several times throughout the years as we attempted to make a living. He contacted me several days ago to alert me to the fact that Edward DeBartolo Jr. was being inducted into the Football Hall of Fame.

I had to laugh when I got the email because this DeBartolo thing has been a running joke between Kim and me for years. Kim, in his days as a college student at Youngstown State, had been a driver for Edward DeBartolo Sr. Also from Youngstown; Edward DeBartolo Sr. was beyond rich and owned a bunch of shopping malls. When Kim graduated from college, Mr. DeBartolo Sr. wanted Kim to stay on with his company. Instead, Kim went to work for Kraft Foods selling Birdseye Cool Whip. I know…right?

This career decision to go sell Cool Whip instead of going to work for one of the richest men in America has been a running joke between the two of us for years. Years later, the two of us toss this hot potato around with it normally ending up with me saying to him, “Kim, what in the hell were you thinking when you quit working for the DeBartolo’s?” The two of us would throw out a handful of “What if’s”…I wonder what my life would have been like if I stayed? Kim even joked that he bet he would have been the one making the presentation speech for Eddie Junior at the Hall of Fame Induction ceremonies in Canton on Saturday.

These “what if” moments aren’t confined to just Kim. We all have them. I bet there isn’t a day that goes by when I don’t speculate on a decision I made in my own life. If we are being honest with each other, I bet you have the same questions and doubts too.

Over the course of the last few days, Kim and I went back and forth over this “What if” scenario in a half a dozen emails. I shared with Kim several blog posts I wrote in which I commented that as I have gotten older I am beginning to think that my life has pretty much fallen into place…that all the puzzle pieces I once thought didn’t fit into my life’s puzzle, now fit right where they were always meant to be. I have learned to cherish the good times…but more importantly I have come to understand that the bad times were just as important to my journey as the good times. For in the bad times, I learned how to survive, and to grow as a human being. I tell my kids all the time that life is God’s teachable moment with us.

Seven years ago, Kim suffered an aortic aneurysm. Most people who suffer one of these die almost instantly since all the blood being pumped out of your heart ends up pumped out into your chest cavity. The few who make it to the emergency room usually leave with a sheet over their head out the back entrance. Kim, for reasons known only to God, survived. He didn’t make it out unscathed. He lost a leg as a result of all this. He has been unable to work because his strength was sapped from him, and he is now on disability.

I am going to end this post with Kim’s words from this morning. They are so profound that I had to share them with you. Let this be a teachable moment for you, as they were for me.

The past seven years have been an incredible journey for me. I have met people, beautiful, friendly, enriching people I never would have met if this hadn't happened. And, my relationship with my wife, as a couple, is closer than it ever was. We have been thru a lot, and she has never blinked, not once.  I see in her the most beautiful person God ever created. People often ask me if I am mad at God for this, how dramatically and drastically my life changed in the blink of any eye. To say I never asked why would be untruthful, because the very first few weeks in the hospital I did ask God why. That is just weak human nature. But, I was never upset with God, never once, not even for a second, was I ever mad at God. Why, because I love Him, and I know He loves me. The reason, my feelings, my acceptance can be summed up in a very simple statement: six little words say it all, He is God, I am not. “



Comments (18)

Sandy Padula and Norm Padula, JD, GRI
HomeSmart Realty West - Carlsbad, CA
Presence, Persistence & Perseverance

Thomas Craig This was a moving post you wrote and all very true what your lifelong friend Kim wrote. Thank you for sharing. Live each moment like it will never reappear; because, It Won't!

Aug 08, 2016 05:18 AM
Patricia Kennedy
RLAH Real Estate - Washington, DC
Home in the Capital

Thomas, what a beautiful post.  You and Kim have both taught us good things today.  Thank you.

Aug 08, 2016 05:36 AM
Laura Cerrano
Feng Shui Manhattan Long Island - Locust Valley, NY
Certified Feng Shui Expert, Speaker & Researcher

We ourselves that question that some point, don't we. I feel like you're handling it the right way.

Aug 08, 2016 06:29 AM
Laura Cerrano
Feng Shui Manhattan Long Island - Locust Valley, NY
Certified Feng Shui Expert, Speaker & Researcher

I think I learned something just like that as Patricia did. All the best to you, my friend!

Aug 08, 2016 06:31 AM
Gita Bantwal
RE/MAX Centre Realtors - Warwick, PA
REALTOR,ABR,CRS,SRES,GRI - Bucks County & Philadel

Thank you for the beautiful post.

Aug 08, 2016 06:45 AM
John Van Hogen
Keller Williams Realty Professionals - Hillsboro, OR
Serving Sellers / Buyers / Investors 503-680-9390

Thanks Thomas. So glad Kim survived and is able to still savor the gift of life...it's fleeting, so enjoy. 

Aug 08, 2016 07:03 AM
Mike Frazier
Carousel Realty of Dyer County - Dyersburg, TN
Northwest Tennessee Realtor

Thomas, thanks for sharing this God story. I am delighted this got featured on Activerain.

Aug 08, 2016 08:22 AM
Margaret Goss
@Properties - Winnetka, IL
Chicago's North Shore & Winnetka Real Estate

Wow - what a strong person.  I wish him the best of luck - I think he'll end up fine - no matter what happens.

Aug 08, 2016 09:52 AM
Kathleen Daniels, Probate & Trust Specialist
KD Realty - 408.972.1822 - San Jose, CA
Probate Real Estate

I rarely spend time pondering what ifs ... I do ponder why ... I wonder why ... what did that happen ... yet I know life is all about the unfolding of life and in time ... all the pieces fit together and things just make sense. Your friends attitude is everything.  There is no point in being angry or bitter over what happened that changed is life so drastically. 

Aug 08, 2016 10:14 AM
Kat Palmiotti
406-270-3667, kat@thehousekat.com, Broker/REALTOR® - Kalispell, MT
Helping your Montana dreams take root

I can't remember ever thinking "what if" I did or didn't do what I did or didn't do. I am definitely one who thinks through next steps, chooses a path, and then just goes with it.

Your friend Kim has a wonderful attitude, and has made the best of a challenging situation. He sounds like a great person to know.

Aug 08, 2016 08:45 PM
Thomas Craig
KW at the Parks - Orlando, FL

Oh my gosh...thank you to everyone who took the time to read this essay and then also took the time to leave a comment! Your generosity is most appreciated!

I sent Kim a link to this post, and I got this back from him...

"Wow. Keep me posted on comments, and if there are any monetary donations sent your way, well, let me know that, too!"

The longer I am on this planet I have come to understand that each of us will come face to face with our "Kim moment". There is no escaping pain, suffering, and loss. There are those who will let it defeat them, and there are those who will kick pain and suffering in the teeth. What seems to be the common denominator as to which group you will fall into is determined by your faith and your sense of humor.

In yesterday's post you read about Kim's faith. Today, you see his humor.

We were not meant to walk around alone and  in exile. We are all part of something bigger than just us. We need each other. We need people like Kim to show how life is supposed to be lived. Life is not about accumulating things...it is about accumulating  love.

Aug 08, 2016 10:43 PM
Sheila Anderson
Referral Group Incorporated - East Brunswick, NJ
The Real Estate Whisperer Who Listens 732-715-1133

Good morning Thomas. I love reading anything you write and hope that one day you will indeed write a novel. I would be the first to buy it. My best to Gina too.

Aug 08, 2016 11:26 PM
Richie Alan Naggar
people first...then business Ran Right Realty - Riverside, CA
agent & author

Ifs often compete for life as they have none of their own. Results keep the score!

Aug 09, 2016 12:01 AM
Harry F. D'Elia III
RentVest - Phoenix, AZ
Investor , Mentor, GRI, Radio, CIPS, REOs, ABR

Life is a journey of experiences. Life is what we make it to be.

Aug 09, 2016 12:10 AM
Thomas Craig
KW at the Parks - Orlando, FL


I just may one day sit down and write that novel. I am most likely going to be cutting back a little with work and learn how to relax a bit.

Thanks so much for your support over the years. It has meant a great deal to me.


Aug 09, 2016 12:20 AM
Joyce Ann Yocum

What a uplifting article! Kim's sister, Patti Jo is my sister in law. I have known Kim for over 35 years. He is indeed a man of integrity with a great faith in God.

Aug 09, 2016 02:00 AM
Thomas Craig
KW at the Parks - Orlando, FL


Thanks for sharing in this post about Kim. I keep telling Kim that he should write a book and tell his story...becasue his is  a journey that will bring comfort to a great many people.

Thanks again,


Aug 09, 2016 06:45 AM