The Unsinkable brian cork™

Brian Patrick Cork is living the Authentic Life

two sides rhymes with suicide


Readers of this Blog appear to track, enjoy, and possibly value, my transparency. So, it’s no surprise, here, that my earthly father surrendered his soul to God back in 1986, on the eve of my birthday.

I’ve chosen some words carefully in that preamble because I’m evaluating the difference in terms of how we define suicide.

Background Perspective: I have a client that I’ve coached for years that happens to be a fairly well known Congressman and has always feared the path of “political suicide” often realized by all too many of his fellows.

Although I have to good-naturedly roll my eyes with that, it recently raised some thoughts in my head around how we spin things to make them work within the complicated confines of our society – to include faith and community.

Here we go…

Shortly after my Dad’s body was discovered (today that still feels strange to both write and read), slumped over a Zane Grey (apropos, says I) novel in his garage, his secretary tearfully advised me that he was bound for hell. I was a younger man in both body and mind, at the time, and this decree almost floored me. Dad was a genuine hero. And, he was… Well, my Dad. And, he loved my Mom. Together, they set the bar and standard for me in terms of how to be a parent to my own Daughters, and love people in your life. He was a pillar of strength (even when he had his fourth martini after a grueling Day maintaing peace as a Military Officer during a relentless Cold War era), always there for my younger brother and me. He was some times an enigma, mind you. But always smart, witty and resolute. Read my post: do not miss your Chance to blow it for perspective. Dot It! How could such a man face the abyss?

My first thought when told Dad was going to hell was that he had carefully considered his options and rolled the dice hoping to get back to Mom quicker. Selfishly, maybe, I often have this picture in my head of Mom and Dad in their early 40’s – sun-tanned, holding hands and smiling. This is also a reminder that Mom had died the year before (here is some additional background), and Dad was simply never the same after that. So… You can; and, I think you should, read my prior Blog post that explores some of that here: My Dad: Story 22 – Married for Life.

So… With all that said, what is the difference in someone taking their own life, or giving their life back to God? There is a paradox at work, here, because a potential juxtaposition includes (or, is) considerations around soldiers taking life (possibly in the name of God), and giving (as in dedicating) your life to God. My Dad was a soldier that absolutely did take lives under a national flag that was founded with God in mind (just ask Thomas Jefferson who is likely spinning in his grave enough these days to send the planet off it’s axis). He was a model citizen by any definition. And, in the his final hour I feel he gave his life back to God, and Mom was his reward for a life well-lived.

NOTE: I’m choosing to take the Bible out of the evaluative formula and going with discernment – perhaps the greatest tool God has issued to us to help me work through this process. The Bible, I feel, in this case, and of course many others, stymies broad thinking and open-mindedness (have you ever tried to debate a Christian and seen them not get heated, and more often than not, nasty?). Once you make not referencing the Bible part of the process, creative thinking that draws upon all of mankind’s marvelous experience and theory can now come into play for informed decision-making.

I’m tempted to drop a poll into this Blog post to capture your collective opinion. However, I’m only marginally interested in that. So, I’ll invite you to comment. I can’t promise to approve it. But, I might. And, I will respond in one form or another, to be certain.

So, engage me. Help me. Walk with me. Help me realize the Authentic Life.

If suicide is a path to another place that just might be a reward, as opposed to a punishment, why wouldn’t you take it? Is this an example of Kobayashi Maru?

Peace be to my Brothers and Sisters.

Brian Patrick Cork




My eldest daughter, Haley Anne (She prefers that I call her “Haley” – but, I won’t. I gave her that middle name for her Nana – my own Mother, Barbara Anne) is twelve.

She is gorgeous, bright, witty – and, the world sings around her.  She is also a formidable Defender, and a Captain on her Football (Soccer) team.

I am proud of her. I trust her judgement; and, I am becoming more and more impressed with her insightfulness. We both LOVE music.

We share iTunes

But, Haley Anne is pushing the envelope with her Mother (that would be Joanne).

Joanne is stubborn in her own right.  Spirited and willful.

But, I dare not draw that comparison (Well…  Not openly any way) when they find themselves at odds.

Perhaps I will write about the Mother and Daughter thing another time. But, at least for today, Haley Anne is my “Daddy’s Girl”, and it’s just fun to be amazed and delighted with her (except she can be a real pig – especially when it comes to her room and leaving dishes every where).

Having said that… She and her Mother went a few rounds this afternoon. While listening to Haley Anne attempt to make her case (an important part of growing – right?), I was struck by the realization that she really was twelve – on the verge of being a teenager, and many an adventure just around the corner.

And, it was then I remembered one of my own first (and likely most dangerous) adventures that made me want to just hug her the rest of the day.

Off we go…

By the time I was twelve, I was much more than the typical handful.  I had already been winning national AAU championships as an age group runner and pentathlete. I had started my first business (lawn care and fence painting /1).  And, learned that I was indestructible by jumping off a three story radio tower using silk sheets from Mrs. Burton’s bed for a home made parachute /2.

I was a pretty good kid – just like Haley Anne. But, we were moving every two years because Dad was a career Air Force Officer.  Dad was being transferred from Offutt Air Force Base (we lived in Papillion) Nebraska to Davis Monthan Air Force Base in Tucson Arizona. I think he was making Lieutenant Colonel (he retired as a full Colonel.  He had a star (General) coming, but declined it when we knew Mom was not going to make it /3). Mom and Dad thought I needed more stability. So, they enrolled me in a prestigious Military School in Massachusetts. It took me less than a week to sort out that I had an “issue with authority” (according to the commandant).  So, I left.

It took me about ten days to hitch hike pretty much across the country. I slept in a few cars; one rail car; under one bridge; two trees; and, one lawn chair (next to a Holiday Inn pool).

It was tons of fun. I talked to a lot of people; made a friend or two.

Apparently it took the school two days to realize I was missing; and, another two days to track Mom and Dad down.

I hit Tucson just three days after my family had moved in.  The Lieutenant Colonel that commanded the Air Police met me at the main gate and grimly escorted me (with a squad no doubt for effect) to our base quarters – lights flashing.

Mom was waiting for me in the front doorway. My younger brother Greg was apparently down the street playing with some kids we had known from a previous duty post. I pulled myself out of the jeep and stood on the sidewalk contemplating Mom – and, of course, trying to conjure up some witicism.

But, my stomach growled.  You could hear it a mile away.

Mom burst into tears, and drew back into the house.

I found her on the brown sofa that had been part of my life for – well- twelve years /4. She wasn’t crying. She was just shaking her head. I sat next to her. I could not say I was sorry (I see that in Haley Anne). I really just wanted to tell her all about the trip. I wanted to remind her about the stories her own great Nana Lenci had shared with me about Mom and her high diving; and crawling out of windows; stealing a bike; pretending to be a boy and getting a grocery delivery job…

But, instead, I just put my head on her shoulder. She put her hand on my knee and sort of squeezed it (I just know she wanted to ask me about under wear). After a few minutes she stood up and asked me if I wanted a sandwich.

“And soup” I added.

She nodded.

Then Dad came through the door.

One day I will Blog about when I was seventeen and my Dad told me I did not have the discipline to attend the United States Naval Academy (I had an appointment – but, he was right), and how I informed my Dad I did not need his help with college. What happened at, during, and after Radford University, makes all of this other story sublime.

I hope Joanne reads this story.  One day I suspect Haley Anne will too. I don’t necessarily want Haley Anne and her sister Emma Jo to follow my footsteps. But, I do have their backs (and, that of their own Mom). And, I know great adventure, life and love lie ahead.

“Borrowed Time” by John Lennon. And, Huckleberry Finn my favorite (id)iot.

2/ I write about this in an earlier Blog Post – “Happy Birthday Mom”.

3/ See “My Mom: Story 5 – Pain and Strength”.

4/ Those that serve in the Military work hard; often sacrifice everything – but don’t make much money.


Happy Birthday Mom


Happy Birthday Mom.

You would have been seventy seven years old today.

Perhaps more importantly you should be in Haley Anne and Emma Jo’s lives, as you were, and are, mine.

You and Dad still inspire me every day.  “My Mom: Story 5 – Pain and Strength”.

Two fun memories:

1.   When I was ten, I jumped off a three story radio tower using a homemade parachute from the silk sheets off Mrs. Burton’s bed.  You said:  “When you can walk again, I am going to kill you” (but, you hugged me for weeks and cried every day).

You made me feel invincible.

2.   At the Missouri State Cross Country Championships – you yelling:  “You go baby!  You got it.  You run that boy down!”.

And, I did. I was a champion.

My stomach hurts today.  And, I miss you more than I could ever relate in this Blog.

Thanks for just every thing.

Keep pulling for me.

I am still listening to

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My Mom: Story 5 – Pain and Strength


As many of you know, my Mom died of cancer in 1985. She fought it for over twelve years. Of course, this does not make me unique. By the time she died I was already a young man. However, a friend, George Landolt, has asked how my Mom’s protracted illness affected me as a boy.

Looking back, the only real, or immediate, impact her illness actually had on me was in the form of my running.

About the time I was becoming a “champion” I was also becoming aware of how serious her illness was. So, I lost myself in the intense cocoon of my long-distance training.

It was 1976, and we had just moved from F.E. Warren Air Force Base outside of Cheyenne, Wyoming where I had made the varsity Cross Country and Track teams as a Freshman – and, was a Freshman State Champion. Dad was now stationed at Whiteman Air Force Base outside of Knob Noster, Missouri. I was a Sophomore at a new school, and did not know anyone. So, I just ran hard. I found myself going head-to-head with a Senior named Gene Hall who was very popular in school, and favored to win State AA.

Mom was missing all of my meets because she was under treatment much of that year at Walter Reed Army Medical Center.

At the conference championships I was preparing for my “kick” and gaining on Gene with an eye for the tape. As I crested a hill (the hills were where I always punished my opponents) I could hear this thin wavering voice calling out:

“you go baby… Run him down… You are a mighty champion”!

It was my Mom – so thin, frail and weak. She had made Dad drive her from the airport to Groveton for the meet. I found a gear I had no idea existed in my body. I was on fire! I flew up that hill; rounding a corner – pounding with all my might. I just blew past everyone.

Mom found me with a hug at the top of the finish chute; and, victory was never that sweet.

Years later, in 1985, we found ourselves in a collective limbo literally waiting for Mom to die. We still lived in Springfield, Virginia. I had graduated from college in May of the previous year. While I was building Cooks Transfer /1 I had dropped into heavy training again. I ran, swam and biked for hours each day just trying not to think about her wasting away in our front room. That training foundation and a built up resevoir of strength are what prepared me a few years later to become a professional Triathlete.

Peace be to my Brothers and Sisters.

Brian Patrick Cork
1/ To put this into perspective, read my Blog entry “Ayn Rand and Me” at

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Lots of stuff.

Meanwhile, here, I discuss events, people and things in our world - and, my (hardly simplistic, albeit inarticulate) views around them.

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