by Oswald Stewart, Tang Soo Do
When I was still a young kid growing up in the Bronx (New York), I was forced to face some of the meanest and toughest roughnecks in the projects. All of us reckless punks became members of a street gang, and the neighborhoods were our battlegrounds where occasional blood was to be spilled. That was a way of life for us pennilesss kids living on those burnt out streets.
It all got started with fights at recess, which led to escalating encounters after school that often called for reinforcements from your pals. It soon bled in to the streets with higher resentments nearly everyday. In the worst parts of the surrounding burroughs, kids got hurt in the ghettos.
We became loyal to our gang. And, we defended our sacred turf against intruders. As we grew into our pre-teens, the violence began to get much worse. Some kids really got beaten down bad and brutally hurt by the older kids. We heard rumors of some who got stabbed and killed by members of the Nomads, their lifeless bodies said to be dumped into dark sewers to be devoured by the rats.
There was rarely any remorse for members of the rival gangs. That's just how turf wars went then.
I recall challenging another young gang member in a dank wet alley once, although I now no longer remember exactly why it even got started. It might've been over a girl. It was during the end of winter and melting snow was still on the ground. After that kid hit me once, I suddenly went into some sort of "battle-rage" as I jumped at him, grabbed him around his neck to drag him down to the ground, and proceeded to beat the holy hell out of that poor kid.
I whacked at his face and head in anger until he no longer stirred. My rage turned into fear when I eventually sat up and briefly watched the blood from his wounds slowly flowing into tiny red trails, disturbing the thinning blanket of white snow under his body. I remember being pulled off of him by my friends and seeing his face as a bloody pulp as they dragged me away. I remember feeling myself smiling wickedly as we left the alley way.
It was then that I realized how easy it was to enforce a degree of control over another human being who may be more vunerable than me...and, I revelled like a demon over this discovery. The horns were out now and I was eager for more opportunites to bring on the pain. I had the devil in me then.
Eventually, I challenged our gang leader and won control over the boss, becoming the new and more violent leader for a time. My gang made a lot of money under my leadership by dealing drugs and gambling. We also performed dozens of coordinated robberies with heavy hands holding very sharp knives and makeshift pokers. Guns were not a common option for us then because, if caught by the police, it carried a much more severe punishment. Besides, guns and bullets were not as available for broke guys our age amidst such widespread poverty.
We soon became little wolves roaming the streets at night, prowling for easy victims. We were the cause of much mayhem during our reign. We hurt many good people, frightened many innocent bystanders, amassed a lot of damage, and caused big trouble almost everywhere we went.
Some of us unlucky ones, including myself, were caught by local authorities and wound up spending time overnight in jail cells. Others were sent to do harder time in prison.
When my parents finally caught on to the big mess their unruly son had gotten himself involved in, they first attempted to stop the madness by placing me on an after-school restriction. This failed because they both worked full time dead-end jobs and were unable to keep me under their thumbs until they came home too late. Next, they threatened to enlist me into the military. I fought them on that until they finally relented in favor of another option. The final compromise was for me to agree to be enrolled in Catholic School. That proved not to suit me at all, so I began to skip out too often.
Finally, my uncle from the midwest suggested to my parents to pay for me to take martial arts classes. You see, it turned out a distant cousin of mine was also a bit of a trouble-maker, and it seems that my aunt and uncle eventually got their son into Karate. They said it straightened him right out rather quickly. Well, that's what they told us anyways.
The notion of taking martial arts interested me. I'd seen many of those 1970's "Chinese Cinema" Kung Fu flicks at the cheap theater and thought the fighting was pretty cool.
And, Bruce Lee had become sort of a hero to some of the kids I used to hang out with. Back then, those poverty-striken streets were filled with nutty guys running around acting like Bruce Lee, yelling "Hiyaa" , wearing flashy jumpsuits and doing those crazy high-kicks in the air!
So, that's when I began my own martial arts training and, when my attitude began to change.
My original Tang Soo Do instructor was a older gentleman who was said to be a direct disciple under one of the original founder's of the system, named Hwang Kee. Master Park, a veteran of the Korean War, moved to New York over ten years before my first encounter with him and had since amassed a fair amount of students to fill his Kwan (Dojang) school.
Master Park always spoke slowly, it seemed to me because he had great concern about things not being lost in translation, and looked me straight in the eyes when he communicated his orientations.
His rules were simple; pay attention to the Master and be obedient at all times. He also insisted that all of his students train hard or be asked to leave his school and never return.
I was surprised at the level of difficulty I had at first. Like an infant, it felt as though I had to learn how to walk and talk all over again. I had a very hard time learning all the specific commands, which were spoken in the Master's native tongue, and various Hyung (Poomse) forms to be performed in each class. Sometimes, it was too much for me and I found myself on verge of quiting. But, it was when hints of actual sparring arose that I became elated and dove right back into the practical training applications in anticipation of the day when we'd finally be allowed to trade actual blows!
It took much longer that I would have liked. But, somehow I stuck it out. In fact, even my family was surprised to see me stay with it all that time. I trained at a Beginner into Intermediate Level for a full year before I was allowed to advance any further. It was then that our Master began to speak more directly to the remaining group of students that started around the same time.
Master Park groomed some of us for exhibitions, others for tournaments, while select students from my group were offered a chance to teach the newer students. I was among a few of the middle (dan) ranks who were approached about being trained to become combatants who would eventually be entered into various tournaments.
This got me very excited as I knew then that I would be considered to become endorsed to enter the sparring divisions!
Master Park, along with his upper belts, focused on our fighting skills for months. We were coming along steadily and the time flew by. We sparred regularly now. I went home sore and lightly bruised every evening and yet I yearned for more of the same treatment the very next day. I attended five classes each week and, if I do say so myself, I was getting really good at kicking some ass in class!
Although my training helped to cool my anger issues to a fair degree, the grades I got during my last year in high school were still only marginal at best despite improved focus. My family duly noted the obvious positive changes in my outlook on many things and was happy about that.
One day, while walking home from school with my ragged gym bag slung over my shoulder, some unfamiliar thugs crossed my path. Three of them blocked the sidewalk in front of me with threatening postures. Their chief held out his hand in a gesture that told me they wanted my money, but I had none to give them. As they moved towards me I flung my bag aside and took into a fighting-stance that resembled a standard rigid "Karate" pose. I glared deeply at them as if my eyes were on fire.
In an instant they pounced all over me and dropped me like a rock onto the hard cement ground!
As I lay in a defensive fetal position, they each took turns beating me up until they tired of hitting and stomping on me. I'd gone limp. I was out cold for the first time in my life, knocked completely out by some adolecent wildmen and I failed completely to defend myself in any way.
My ego and confidence were injured much worse than my battered body. I denounced my Tang Soo Do training and decided to quit the Kwan (Dojang) school forever.
I was soon back out on the streets trying to steal myself up a few bucks. Not long after that I made some solid connections and was invited to become a "strong arm" muscle man for a well-organized outfit that ran some dope, dabbled in illegal gambling and hustled prostitutes in the city. I began making more "dirty" money a month than I'd ever seen before. More money, I supect, than my dad ever made at his crappy job.
In 1975, I felt like the king of the streets and partied like a rockstar. I smoked weed, snorted coke, drove a fast car, had plenty of women, ordered my junior subordinates around, executed plans made by my superiors, and I hurt people on demand. My bosses could all rely on me to get the job done.
Now, well into my "golden years", I am not proud of this part of my past, but that was simply how things were for me way back then. That was how I made a living for a time. If I had it to do all over again...well, ya know how that saying goes.
It went on like that for what seemed like a long period of time. Once I became of age, I was shunned by my parents. So, I moved out of their little apartment and into a place of my own. I bought some pricey toys, used women without regard for their feelings, and slowly allowed my ego to grow into a greedy monster. The only one nice thing I did for someone else was to pay the way for my younger brother, who was a really good kid. The family had much higher hopes for him than me.
I saw the outfit begin pushing more drugs in the hood. Heroin had become the drug-of-choice and was putting many more new addicts out on the streets. Before then you'd see individuals boucing off walls from speed and coke, only a few weeks later, the same people were seen roaming around slowly like zombies with eyes half shut from the smack they were putting in their veins. The outfit enjoyed the added income they now saw.
Although, I smoked weed, snorted an occasional line or two and drank some beer, I never did go in for pills and needles. I absolutely refused to try heroin. The thought of shooting some junk into my blood stream made me feel queasy. Besides, I already had some control issues of my own, and to allow a hard drug to take too much control over my mind just wasn't my thing at all.
So, even though I sometimes delivered it to users, I always stayed off of that nasty shit. And, I made sure to warn those few who were close to me to do the same...especially, my little bro.
At that point I rarely handled the stuff, I was mainly moving weed uptown while others carried the smack to and fro. Up to then, heroin hadn't yet made it's eventual impact, it was still a novelty.
Now firmly in my mid-twenties, I started hearing more and more about my 16 year-old brother's mischievous activities. He'd already wrapped my parents car around a telephone pole. He'd gotten put on detention a few times and was forced to stay after school. He'd been raising the ire of our mother and causing her to worry by constantly staying out all night only to wake the house when he came home in the wee hours and he was arguing and yelling harshly at our father a lot too.
Lately, whenever we spoke on the phone together, his voice seemed to be a bit slurred and he sounded like he was having some trouble focusing on our conversations. I knew that he and his friends like to drink beer, but they could only afford cheapass brands. However, I didn't know what excess they'd been downing those cans. I could only imagine because I hadn't paid much attention to him for a while because I had been kinda caught up in my own personal dramas.
That same week I was busted on possession of some weed. Even though it was a small amount, I had to do time locked up in County. It was an easy enough ride through for a hardened guy like me, but it practically killed my mother and father.
When I got out my parents never called me or invited me over to see them. They wouldn't even let my little brother use the house phone to call me anymore.
Word had gotten around quickly that I had gotten popped. The outfit instantly stopped fronting me. There were to be no more big operations entrusted to me anymore, just the occasional small-time drug and cash drops. I did them without question because I needed the fast money. But, it was like an insulting demotion of rank. Besides, I was completely broke to boot.
I looked for a job in town, however, it proved difficult for someone with my bad reputation to secure a job anyplace. In some places, the color of my skin didn't help me any either.
One dark night, I took a late call for a delivery. The connection would meet me at a designated place. I was to carry the drugs to a buyer, drop off the merchandise and collect the payment. I was to bring the money back to the dealer who would then gimme a cut of the dough.
I'd done this many times before with no problems at all. The dope was always in small packages that could be kept deep in my jacket pocket. Easy, right? No problem.
On that occasion, the package given to me by the connection was not the familiar plastic sandwich bags filled with marijuana that I had somehow expected. This time it was a small handful of little black rubber balloons that were tied off on their ends. Each of these balloons were marked with a tiny red dot on them. I knew it was Heroin.
I exhaled slightly then quietly sighed when they were presented to me. But, I still took 'em and made off into the night. It's strange what you'll risk when you are desperate for cash. I suppose that's why they call it "king" in certain circles. The need for cash rules over most of us.
I kept my eyes on the shadows as I hurried down long boulevards and crossed several blocks. I kept both hands in my jacket pockets. My fingers rolled the tiny rubber capsules around nervously inside them as I walked on. I was thinking to myself "Shit, this feels bad" and a strange nagging feeling kept bugging me the whole time.
Just about thirty minutes later, after a safe drop, I was returning the cash to its rightful owner when a young kid suddenly got run over by a cargo van not ten feet from where I was crossing the street. I stood at the scene for a moment and watched as others ran to his aid. I caught a clear sight of his damaged face frozen in agony and knew that it was already too late for him.
I never thought "hell, it could have been me if I happened to cross the street from a skewed angle from the corner", I only thought of my younger brother. That unfortunate kid looked a lot like my bro.
I rode the subway the rest of the way back and reflected on what I'd seen. Once there, I quickly grabbed my cut and got myself home to take a long hot shower. That night in my sleep, the dead kid's flat expression filled my dreams. It really shook me.
That episode took place on a Wednesday night. By the weekend, I finally decided to go see my family. Mainly, I wanted to visit with my little brother. I hadn't really talked to him much since I'd gotten out of jail and, in light of recent events, I now felt compelled to see him at home.
My mother was sobbing as she answered the door. At first, I thought she might be happy to see me, but then she just faded away behind the weathered screen door. It was my father that came to let me inside. He didn't even say a word to me, he just left me standing in the entry way as he turned around and moved into the cramped dining area where my mom had already seated herself at the table.
Her eyes were red and swollen from hours of crying. She hadn't said a word yet. My father sat down next to her at the table and took a deep breath. Before I could ask anything, he told me that my little brother had overdosed and was in the hospital in very serious condition.
I searched for the right words to respond, but found I had none to offer them. I backed away from the table a step and found myself leaning up against the wall. The stability of the kitchen wall may be what kept my knees from buckling, what might've kept me from falling down to the floor, what probably kept me from bawling out loud. My throat felt like it was being choked.
I left them there and took the train to the medical center to be with my little brother...my only sibling.
I gasped when I got in to see him. He was asleep when I arrived. He was lying there with an IV in his arm. His face was quite pale and he looked as though the doctors had him heavily medicated. His only company had been someone I'd never met before...his girlfriend. She was news to me, no one ever mentioned anything about her before. I was happy he flew straight, unlike a cousin of ours!
She softly introduced herself through moist eyes that had been shedding tears. As she filled me in on the prognosis of his condition, it seemed to be clear that she really care about my brother. She explained how they met only a few days after I had gotten busted and were together nearly everyday since. She then carefully admitted that my brother was to be the father of the baby she now carried.
When I asked her about the circumstances pertaining to his overdose, she told me they had been using on occasions. She said she'd quit prior to becoming pregnant, but that he still did it to ease the pressure he felt from living at home, not having a job, and dealing with all the stress.
She said he just wanted another fix and went out to score $20.00 worth from his connection. He then brought the dope over to a friend's place to rig it up and shoot it into his vein. She told me that he'd been doing this more frequently, whenever he could afford to get the stuff. But, nothing like this had happened before. This time something went terribly wrong.
His medical report indicated that this batch of heroin was likely tainted by some kind of additional chemicals. The shit musta been cut or stepped on with some other crap, most likely done by the dealer himself as there was no other middle-man involved in the transaction.
His girlfriend gave me all the details, everything she knew about the whole ordeal. When he was out scoring, she was busy behind the counter of the small neighborhood clothing shop where she'd been working. She only had a vague idea from whom he'd actually gotten the dope from. But, she did give me the name of the friend's place where he went to shoot the stuff.
After my brief visit to the hospital, I went to the kid's flat and knocked solidly on the front door.
As the door opened, I kicked him in the groin without hesitation. Then, I pushed his slumped frame backwards and stepped through the entry and quickly glanced around. He was alone. I ordered him to be seated on his tattered couch to begin grilling him for information on the buy.
His voice faltered as he began to spill his guts to me. He told me all my little brother had described to him that night. He had no names, but he clearly described the location as a familiar pick-up site where many of the kids would go to score their dope. Now, I knew exactly where to look next.
Before leaving, I shook my index finger threateningly in front of his face as I gave him a stern warning to stay away from my brother and to stop inviting other kids over there to fix their smack, or else I'd come back to burn his freakin' house down with him inside it!
I decided to stop at my place first to get my head together and to prepare a plan of attack. My intention was to wreak total havoc on those who supplied the bad batch of dope to my brother, so certain steps would need to be taken on my part to get this deed done.
First, I made phone calls to see if my former seconds from the outfit, two really good henchmen who became pals, could be counted on to back me up. Once they agreed, I set out with a sharpened switch-blade knife in the same jacket pocket that I always carried drugs in when I made deliveries. I gripped it tight where it was hidden as I walked on.
I met my guys near the station at the appointed time. They both looked stoic and ready to do this. Funny, I remember we were all dressed in black, like grim reapers. Together, the three of us musta looked pretty tough. I never gave them explicit instructions, but they already knew what to do.
I felt stronger knowing they were gonna be there to back me up. I didn't expect them to do too much other than appear imposing while keeping an extra eye on things. It was me who had a plan in my head, it was me who was ready to do whatever it takes to avenge my little brother's condition! As we drew near to the suspected location, my blood boiled up inside me.
On that short trek, all of my Tang Soo Do lessons suddenly sprung up in my head. Many thoughts of practical applications on self defense and offensive techniques I'd trained on became crystal clear in my mind. I envisioned using them on anyone who got in my way! I felt very alert and focused.
As we rounded one last corner and came out on to this dimly lit narrow block, I got a prickle down the back of my neck. I felt a sense of dread as I realized exactly where we'd come. The address was the late night drop-off point of my last heroin delivery, the very same location where I passed along that handful of little black balloons with the dots on them! I shook in anger as my teeth grit together.
Could it be true? Was it really all my fault that my poor little brother was in such critical condition? It seemed likely, the time frame did fit. I accepted the responsibility for my actions right then and there.
But, I knew that I still had a major score to settle and I aimed to settle it right away!
Knowing that the outfit would never step that hard on the dope they sold, I knew that the amatuer seller in there had to be the one who fucked it up with some bad chems and then sold it to my bro.
These middle-men are the ones who'll usually cut it down enough to make each supply thin enough to sell more doses to third parties. Sometimes called a chemist, most sellers use different types of harmless compatible junk to do this. Not this time. No, this time it was likely cut with rat poison or something really bad like that.
I wondered how many kids had killer doses in their veins right now, how many went to emergency rooms, how many had already been turned into vegetables or...how many died as a result.
We kicked in the front door with a loud smash. Mayhem immediately ensued as those inside the cramped place scrambled in a panic. Two guys jumped up off the sofa with hypodermic needles still in their arms. Others ran directly into the kitchen area hoping escape out through the minimal patio and got caught fumbling open the sliding back door. My two henchmen quickly ran inside, forcibly rounded them up, and brought them all back into the front room. All five of them were ordered to kneel down before us on stained carpet in silence with their hands on their heads.
I stepped forward and demanded them to identify the person responsible for dealing. I only wanted the chemist, the one who handled the selling. They all wimpered nervously for moments until one finally pointed towards the right person. "Please don't hurt us", he said as he gave up the one we sought. Tears glinted down the informant's cheeks. He was shaking with utter fear.
I thought to myself, he should be scared right now. We obviously mean business and there was no turning back now.
As I turned to focus directly on the one fingered, I now noticed that he was a bit older than the rest, closer to my age or a little older. He wasn't the kid I'd made my drop to though, that kid wasn't even present. He still looked really familiar. It took me a moment to put it all together, what with all the adrenalin pumping and in the poor lighting, to finally recognize him. His unshaven face was now lined from excessive drug use, his eyes had become much more deepset...but I knew him.
Kneeling down before me was one of the three bigger guys who'd so brutally beaten me down all that time ago. He was one of the guys who'd hurt me bad enough to leave a still lingering scar from my youth. There on floor right then, practically begging me for my mercy, was their former chieftan. The very same jerk who showed me no mercy while he directed his fellow bullies as they relentlessly beat me into a pulp on the street near my school on that fateful day.
The memory of that painful experience played back in my head right then as I stood over him. He cowered away to avoid my razor sharp glare, but I was satisfied when I got my first good look at his face. I do not know if he even recognized me. I didn't care either.
There was no mistake in my mind just then, none at all. I was 100% positive it was the exact same son-of-a-bitch that I'd hated all this time. He was one of the three that I blamed for changing the course of my life, someone whom I truly hated.
However, he was no longer the big beefy type from our past, the stuff he'd been putting in his system all this time had made him look gaunt and his appearance had become rather sickly. He looked like a typical heroin addict. He no longer looked so tough, not at all.
Without so much as a word, I pulled out my blade and seamlessly sliced his throat. His blood spattered out and drained onto the rug. He choked and squirmed in a fit. One of my guys quickly put a recliner seat cover over my fresh handywork and kicked the writhing body over onto its side. We all watched as it rolled over face down and soon begin to settle still. I was certain he was dead.
I don't remember now how the others on the floor reacted. I don't recall anyone screaming at all. I think the room fell silent, all just went completely frozen still. The scene looked so bizarre.
When I turned back towards the front door, I saw that my third partner in crime had a handgun pointed at the others, he had kept them all quiet. He'd point the barrel in the direction of any one of them who stirred up noise or looked directly up at us. One of the kids was so nervous that he had pissed his pants at the sight of all the blood and it had begun to stink in there.
My quest for vengeance now fulfilled, I had no intentions of causing any harm to the rest of the occupants. I believed they were just there partying. None of them had struck me as being dealers too. They were all red-eyed and skinny, they looked more like ghosts rather than consumers.
We left without any more of a mess, but not without leaving those still in the house with a very stern warning not to speak a word of what had happened there that evening. We threatened to hunt down and kill all of them if any of them leaked out a description that would lead the police to us. And, no one ever did. It was to be another unsolved case of murder in the big city.
I went home and removed any evidence that might be left on me. I began cleaning the knife off with boiling water to remove the blood and my fingerprints. I took a scalding hot shower and burned the clothes I was wearing in my small fireplace. That night I slept uneasy.
The next day I wrapped the knife in wax paper, placed it in a paper bag and rolled it up tightly. Later on that morning I passed the package off to a confidant I trusted who then buried it in a fresh cement foundation at a nearby construction site he worked on. It was never to be seen again. All went as I'd planned. Some time went by before I knew we were scott-free without a need to worry any further.
Now a man, I truly regret having been involved in that murder, but back then I felt clearly vindicated. I'll tell you, this was not an uncommon way of thinking for those of us there living amid so much violence. I will admit that's still a very poor excuse for my behavior. So terrible! That was the mindset of my youth in those hard times. I thought it was a righteous act back then, but was I ever wrong.
I know now that I'm the only one to blame for those horrible actions, I ask for no pity. I am remorse.
Two years had gone by since that fatal night. With my brother long since healed, I'd gotten us both into martial arts training at old Master Park's place. His son had taken over teaching most of the classes by then, directing the curriculum to involve more frequent sparring among his students, while still maintaining all of the traditional aspects of the system. The classes were always filled.
Ten months back in training I then sustained a debilitating injury to one of my knees, which eventually affected my hips too, and was forced to lay off of martial arts completely. I became merely a spectator. Not being able to particpate anymore in training was depressing for me.
Four years later my brother received his black belt from a younger Master Park. I was there at the ceremony looking on proudly as he was being certified. One of my cute little nephews supported my walking cane as I applauded. It was a very proud moment for my little brother, one perhaps only surpassed by the birth of his three children.
Previously, long before that grand event, my brother had made me a promise to never dabble in hard drugs ever gain. We both still continued smoking weed on occasion and liked to drink beer, but that was it. He'd finally gotten his high school diploma through an adult program, but neither of us pursued a college degree. He worked on cars at a local garage while I drove a delivery truck for a department store for several years. Both of us had made peace with our parents before our father died. Meanwhile, our mother had some health problems after he died but she still held on longer.
After my mother also passed, I did a longer stint in prison on severe battery charges, which got extended for bad behavior and possession while inside. My limited Tang Soo Do experience literally saved my ass in there! I was never quite the same guy after finally being released. It affected me in many ways that are too hard for me to explain to anyone who's never been on the block.
As I now reflect back on that time in our young lives, I have many regrets and several unrealized dreams that plague my mind. I never got married and have no children that I know of. I have no heir.
However, after he finally married that longtime girlfriend of his, and soon got her knocked up two more times, I have always been and will always be a good uncle to their eldest daughter and her two younger brothers. They have no doubt how cherished they are to all of us. Their lives are filled with love. Their parents adore each of them equally. I'm happy to have been around long enough to see them grow up happy in this world.
I often wonder what my life might've been like had I stayed on track with certain things, if I'd been a better son to my parents, stayed more focused on my schoolwork and...what kind of person would I be now if I would have been more committed to my earlier introduction to the martial arts.
If I hadn't let my own anger dissuade me from returning to the Dojang after the heavy beating I took on that terrible day, would I now have the honor of knowing that I too had a valued Black Belt to show for my efforts? If I was more diciplined and didn't quit then, would I have learned right from wrong sooner? I can only imagine what I'd be like if things were different.
Through the years, I have seen many others who've been changed in positive ways as a result of their martial arts training. Even my brother has been so affected, and now my nephews, others I have seen too. The values to be gained by such training are apparent to me now. There is much there to offer us lost souls if we're open-minded enough to welcome it.
I have heard that people involved in some degree of martial arts training tend to lead happier lives. Whether it be due to better health or a good frame of mind, or perhaps a clearer outlook on life as a whole, I'm not exactly sure. But, I do believe this is true. Martial artists also tend to be more honest and loyal people and often display more random acts of kindness too. I have seen this for myself.
My wish now is that I would have known this wisdom somehow way back then, but that's impossible.
I was a very troubled boy, a stupid kid without a clue. I never listened to anyone who cared about me then, I only listened to the ones I thought could be of use to me for whatever purposes. Perhaps I'm a product of my environment gone wild! No, I was just a rotten apple. I am an old man now and I know this to be the truth of it all in hindsight and I regret not admitting all this until now with a sad heart.
Yes, I do wish my life would have been different...
That is my one wish, my last wish as I now lay here dying.