You are currently browsing the category archive for the ‘family’ category.


How old am I? I can clearly remember a time when we were taught that all life was sacred, every person mattered and that the painful decisions of life and death were left to those afflicted, grieving families, their doctors and whatever faith leaders they sought comfort from. When did this all change? When did we become so calloused, so cold, so detached from the plight of others that we could allow a faceless state to be the ultimate arbiter of the time, location and manner of our passing? And how do they determine what dignity, our dignity, actually means at the time of our death?

Is there dignity in hope?

I have no idea what “mitochondrial DNA depletion syndrome” is. I really don’t much care to know. No one should be forced to know; least of all a ten-month old infant. But the UK government, in its infinite wisdom and compassion, has decided that the parents of little Charlie Gard have forty-eight hours to convince them that he is worth saving; that he has some chance, a realistic chance, or they, the benevolent state, will forcibly end his life. And don’t get confused over my wording here; they aren’t going to hold the little boy down and smother him. Although, it certainly appears as though they could if they wanted to, being all powerful and righteous and stuff like that. No, they’ll physically restrain his parents as the young boy is allowed to die; how? Slowly wither away? Will they flip some magical switch and instantly end all his pain and suffering, and that of his parents? Not at home, not in the arms of his mother or father? Let’s get some clarity here. Just how does the state intend to offer this child a death with “dignity?”

Let’s face it, we’ve come a long way as a civilization in the fifty years or so that I’ve cast my shadow on this planet. We’ve been treated to break-through after break though in medicine, although there are far too many scourges we’ve yet to conquer. And because of that reality, we’ve also grown intellectually; or so we think. No, we’ve had our brushes with eugenics along the way. Thought we’d put that ugly chapter to bed, didn’t we? But what is this if not a branch of that, the next logical extension of “for the good of all.” And don’t be confused here, for what else is the rationale behind denying a child and his parents an opportunity, a hope no matter how slim, to prolong the life of a child? What harm could there be in letting a grieving, desperate parent fly to some willing medical center that is offering a chance; without any expense to the citizenry or the state at all? What is at stake here? Simple; power. The power to decide which groups deserve to live, which don’t. A power thinly disguised by the state as compassion, acting in the best interest of the child as if the parents were flying him to some dark, remote location to perform untold medical experiments upon him. No, we can’t take that chance. Let’s kill him now.

Power. A power that the state has taken great pains to cultivate and one they would rather not give up. What group of unfortunates will be next? How about those with advanced cancer? Should the state decide at some point, sorry, your medical support is done? No chance for you, no matter how slim. We have determined that and we know what’s best for you. Alarmist? Hardly. What convincing argument does the state have to sentence this child to a certain death when there are others, doctors in other parts of the world possibly, who offer hope. Not a guarantee, but hope. And at no cost to them. Because at the end of it all, that’s all medicine can ever offer us is hope. No guarantees. Deciding to withhold services is one thing; forbidding someone from getting them elsewhere, even for a glimmer of that hope is nothing short of euthanasia. The “group” here is those determined by the state to be “hopeless;” hopeless, because the state is all about destroying the concept of hope. Hope leads to people taking back power from the state. And it won’t be long before other groups will be “hopeless” for some reason or another. Soon it will be age; or ability to produce for the state coffers.

So, as I watch the papers and read blogs and comments, I see a number of people expressing concern and dismay; let the child go somewhere, anywhere, while there is still hope. But I am troubled by the rather large numbers of those who are expressing disdain for the parents; they need to let go, they’re making the child suffer needlessly. I’ve even seen them called selfish for holding out hope where the commenter has determined there is none.  But only those who are truly hopeless themselves never see hope. And I doubt like hell that the parents want to see this child suffer. And of course, there are those who are begging the parents to let the poor child die with dignity, a phrase already used by the state. Odd juxtaposition; if the child wanted to mutilate themselves, we’d be cheering the parents for tolerance and understanding. And just twelve months ago, it would have been perfectly acceptable to tear this child limb from limb, without any concern for whether he felt pain, only to be sucked out of the womb by a tube so his parts could be sold to the highest bidder. What type of dignity is that? This is where we’ve traveled. To this point; where a parent, struggling to save the life of an infant is given forty-eight hours to prove beyond doubt that he can be saved, but waiting forty-eight hours before deciding to tear him from the womb is unacceptable.

No, this is all about the ultimate power of the state; and the right we have given them to determine for ourselves and for those we love, to dictate the reason, the manner and the time of our death; and the definition of our final dignity at the end of our lives.

 

 


It was going to be hot; which meant I needed to mow the lawn early in the day; although mowing the front lawn near the edge of the road mainly consists of creating huge clouds of dust and sending across the road the various pieces of gravel which the department of public works had spread all winter long. Those same yahoos who invite me to play “hide and seek” with my mailbox every winter storm; and I pay them well to do it too. Cody was lying underneath one of the trees in the front yard, his paws in the air, squirming on his back in the cool morning grass. Lesson here; deeply enjoy life’s little pleasures whenever you can.

Comet; painting the skies with love.

She caught my eye from a distance up the road. I noticed that her gait was much slower than her usual daily walk around the neighborhood. She was alone; the empty space beside her obvious and hurtful. I continued mowing away from her, in the same direction she was headed. When I turned around to make a return pass facing her, she noticed me and waved. I killed the mower and took off my earmuffs and safety glasses. Yeah, safety spaz; hell, I can end up bleeding by just sweeping the sidewalk. A real practicing klutz.

She glanced up and noticed I was still watching her. She raised her hand to wave again but quickly brought her hands to her face. She tried to wave me off as I approached her. No, I don’t think so. The distress on her face was clear, painful to see and quickly shot to my heart. She tried to explain through sobs and broken words that she couldn’t talk about it. Just couldn’t and tried again to wave me off. Bullshit. I reached out for her hands and pulled her in and hugged her, as much for me as for her. It was hard she said, so hard. It came so sudden; they certainly weren’t prepared. They were all devastated. He was such a big part of their lives; the kids were taking it okay, but everyone was lost in their own way. They loved him so much and he loved them back. The hole was huge. They miss him so.

For those who aren’t animal lovers, it may be hard to understand the impact that the passing of a beloved pet has on those of us who consider them our furry children. To some, we all look like the crazy cat ladies we always hear about; so be it. Guilty as charged. But those who are fortunate to have the priceless love of an animal understand it fully. Try to find anything on two legs in your life that will show you the dedication, the devotion, non-judgmental love and the willingness to let you be the center of their universe; far and few between.

No, these are our furry toddlers; it takes that kind of dedication. Often, it’s another damp carpet; maybe pieces of your favorite shoe spread across the living room. Sometimes it’s those dammed dead spots on the lawn or the wonderful piles of humiliation that you can never seem to completely clean from the nooks and crannies on the bottoms of your sneakers. But they’ll still look deeply in your eyes and let you know that you are the only human on the planet that matters. Have a horrible day at work and they’ll wag you back to peace. Don’t feed them; they’ll forgive you. Be an asshole; they don’t care. Heap unwarranted abuse on them and they’ll still look deeply into your soul and tell you that it doesn’t matter; as long as they can feel your hand between their ears, hear your voice, be in your presence, tug on the other end of that rope, their life is complete. They’re not here to judge, to accuse, to demean. They’ll still love you, often well beyond any measure that you should be entitled to; they’d be willing to die for you. And not once would they demand anything in return.

Comet meant that much to her and her family. He meant a bit to some of the rest of the neighborhood too. He was a rather large dog; long legged, loopy gate. He seemed to be the type of dog that you would swear was smiling. He was a “Golden Doodle,” a breed whose name would bring a smile if not outright giggles. I’m quite sure that “Golden Doodle” translates in some places around the world to “Shetland Pony.” He was usually covered in curls, soft and deep. The occasional shearing made it even more obvious that he was a large framed animal, not just a bunch of hair for show. His pinkish-brown, wet nose seemed to have the circumference of a baseball. I’m sure that some found his size intimidating; for others it may have been his high level of enthusiasm. But in the end, he was he was large vessel of love and happiness and I was always prepared with treats in my pockets when we passed. And he knew it. I for one will miss his commanding voice, a bark that would resonate across the neighborhood. Some may have found this too, to be intimidating. But it was his way of telling his family, and those who were walking by that he was keeping an eye on anyone who might approach those who he would willingly die for.

As with any comet, he was rare. Comets shine brightly but briefly and we’re left with the memory of how they painted the dark skies of our lives. So it is with Comet. And I’m sure that Lisa and Peyton and their kids will have these brief moments in the future when something will jar their memories and they’ll recall the Comet that appeared briefly in their lives and touched them all. The pain will eventually fade and the memories will be far more joyful than they are now. And in whatever sky he is streaking across now, with his wet, pink baseball-sized nose I’m sure he loves them as deeply as he did when we was laying at their feet. One would imagine he’s in the fields of heaven giving the local squirrels a hard time.

God Speed Comet; I hear the angels love a good game of tug-of-war.


I struggled choosing the gift. He’s quite mechanically inclined, as he aptly demonstrated the night he removed his own ankle bracelet, so it had to be something he could do with his hands, something that he would find engaging, but not too challenging. Hopefully, I’d find one that didn’t have a bazillion little parts, beyond his limited finger dexterity. A simple wood-working project, that would do. I got him the pirate ship and a birdhouse, small balsa wood models that would fit together simply with the tap of the harmless wooden mallet included in the package.

The dust of one's existence is easily wiped away..

The dust of one’s existence is easily wiped away..

On the way there, we discussed the gifts; too many small nails we decided. Tiny brads no longer then half an inch each, gave us pause. I could envision them scattered on the floor, spilled into his bedclothes or worse, finding their way into his mouth. We pulled over at a Toys “R” Us on the way to find something more suitable if we could. Not really sure of what mental age we would find him in, we settled on a beautiful stuffed German Shepard, warm and soft. Someone to keep him company.

Walking down the corridor was disheartening. Broken minds and withered bodies littered the hall, many staring blankly at empty walls no more than a foot from their faces. A few were aware enough to wave to us, either mistaking us for someone they knew or begging for someone, anyone, to spend a few precious moments with them; one woman kept pointing to me and motioning to a bouquet of flowers in the middle of the barren institutional table she leaned on, as if she was proud of the gift or possibly thanking us for it.

The door to his room was partially opened and I rapped loudly, knowing there was a possibility that his hearing aids were on low. As it turns out, we woke him from a late morning nap. He stirred slowly on the bed, half startled and disoriented but smiling nonetheless. As he greeted us and slowly struggled to a sitting position, Di sat across from his uninviting hospital bed on the only chair in the room; a small folding office chair, the kind you would pull from the basement only if you ran out of decent lawn chairs. The drapes on the window behind her were tattered and worn, threadbare and barely hanging off the curtain rod that looked as if it was mere seconds shy of dropping from the wall. There was nothing in the room to describe its inhabitant; the tan and gray walls were completely barren; no paintings, pictures, frames, decorations or signs of life what so ever. Fitting décor for a place to warehouse those with broken minds.

I asked him if he knew who we were and he said of course, but he never mentioned our names. He asked us how far we had traveled, a question meant to hide the fact that he truly had no idea who we were but which masked his embarrassment that he didn’t. I told him who we were anyway and he admired my sweatshirt emblazoned with the “UNH Wildcat” logo. It pleased him greatly as he touched the raised letters on my shirt and repeated “Wildcat, that’s fantastic,” repeating the growl of a wildcat for us several times. We told him we had a gift for him and he struggled to open the gift bag; I held it on his lap and pulled the stuffed dog from it. He was positively delighted; he asked us if it had a name and we told him no, that he could name it whatever he wanted. I specifically picked the Shepard from the shelf, remembering the story of the Shepard he once had as a boy. There was no connection. He was proud to put it on the small under-sized nightstand near the other small stuffed dog already there. He kept repeating that he wished it could bark, showing us what sound he wished it would make to keep the other residents, who had a tendency to wander into his room uninvited, at bay. He turned and asked us how far we had travelled. And again, we told him.

He said he wouldn’t be there long; he couldn’t wait to go home. He assured us he was going home soon, he just didn’t know when. He never said, but it was clear from his eyes that he not only didn’t know when; he didn’t know where. Where was home? He asked us where his car was? I assured him that it was in his garage, right where he left it. He admired my shirt and asked me where we had traveled from.

The conversation went just that way; seconds of him smiling, us making him laugh, him asking where his car was and how far away we lived. He spoke of boredom (not once while we were there did any staff interact with him at all), how at times it was too loud to sleep but today was quiet because many of the residents had gone for the day, other things to do. I’m quite sure he didn’t have the capacity to realize that none of them were able to go anywhere. I asked him if he remembered our tradition of decorating my house for Christmas, as he stood on the lawn in front of the porch and directed the work. His face lit and he assured me that he remembered, and how much he enjoyed it as well. For a moment, I wasn’t sure if he was trying to fool me or himself, but I decided that I wasn’t going to let go of this memory and told him that we loved it too.

The visit was short, barely an hour. He smiled often, we made him laugh. He asked us where his car was and how long was our drive. He asked us if the dog had a name. He said he was bored; there was nothing for him to do. I wondered if he would have been more connected to others, to himself, if he had some stimulation, a least a picture on the dammed walls or possibly someone to speak to. The smell of the institutional meal was wafting down the corridor and we knew his lunch would soon be coming. We decided we needed to let him have his lunch, to keep him at least on this small schedule. We told him we had to leave and he stood and hugged us. He wanted to walk us up the corridor to the nurse’s station but no further; anything more tires him out he told us. He asked us how long we had to travel and we told him. We said goodbye and exchanged kisses on the cheek, though his hug reminded me of the cordial embrace one gives and receives from someone who was once a passing, fleeting acquaintance.

On the way home, I realized I had been sitting in hell’s waiting room. I saw the shell of a man I admire; empty, void of identity. He wakes in a strange room in a location he can’t identify. All he was, all he knew, shattered images in time, lost forever in a cloud of nothingness; no attachment, no past, nothing to remind him of who he was or who he is. I wondered if he was in emotional pain; can one long for those you never knew? Is all that’s left a daily void? Every minute of every day, surrounded by strangers, some you just met thirty minutes ago; many who tell you they’ve know you all their lives. Is it frightening to be forever surrounded by people you don’t recognize, including the one who stares back from the bathroom mirror?

So many things I wanted to tell him; so many things I wanted to say; things that would be quite startling, confusing, possibly unnerving coming from a complete stranger. I would tell you that I miss you; that we love you. That you mean so much to us, the couple you just met and will probably forget before we even reach the highway on that drive that we told you about so many times.

We are fragile. We make memories to hold, to comfort us as we get older. We reminisce fondly of those who have shaped our lives, many molding us into the person we have become. It is nothing short of utter desolation to lose all we were, all we are, and to forever be in a world where we are strangers to ourselves too.

After all; who are we if we are not the collection of moments we gather to ourselves over the span of our lives: that collection of experiences, faces and events that apparently can be easily wiped away like some useless writing on a forgotten chalkboard.


I hate the morning mirror. Just another reminder on a daily basis that time keeps inching forward, and my waistline keeps inching outward. With all due respect to Sir Paul; no, I’m not half the man I used to be either. More like one and a half times the man I used to be. And, if wisdom comes with age, I must be a freakin’ sage. No matter, I have to concentrate and get rid of the horrific white stubble that makes me look rather like a vagabond. Today of all days, please let me get through this without severing part of my upper lip or excising an ear lobe. Is my hand shaking with too much excitement to do this? All I ask is that if I can no longer look young and handsome, at least let me look acceptable; passable. For tonight, I have a date with the girl of my dreams.

I hear it even now....

I hear it even now….

Somehow, I managed to get the cold, multi-bladed instrument of torture to navigate around the gourd that masquerades as my nose, with no loss of skin or blood. All in all, a pretty good start to the day. Hey, I’ll take my victories wherever I can, no matter how small. Now, I just need to make sure my shirt is clean and pressed, my slacks are neat and for gosh sakes, try to make sure my dammed socks match. Preferably with no holes.

Twenty years have gone by. Twenty. The same anxiety I had that night buzzes through my body now, just as it did then. My stomach is doing the same back flips. It’s simple really; I worried for a whole week twenty years ago leading up to that night, hoping that somehow I could convince her to say yes. Since then, I’ve been hoping to convince her she made the right decision.

Twenty years. The restaurant is gone now, replaced by who knows what; probably some quickie mart or local Hallmark store or whatever. She loved it there. The food was always fantastic, the service was welcoming and friendly. The atmosphere was so relaxed, dim and romantic with plants and flowers all over the room. It had to be there. Had to. I’ve never asked her if she expected it. I never asked her if she noticed my hands trembling like an addict’s in withdrawal. Thank goodness that the room was candlelit or she may have seen the red tinges of my ears, the flush in my face. Or was I terrified white? I can’t remember. I do remember the pain I felt in my right hand, jammed way down into the front right pocket of my slacks, tightly gripping the ring, rolling it over and over in my hand, stopping every so often to squeeze it tight enough to dig into the fleshy part of my palm. I was afraid to let it go, convinced that I was going to lose it, drop it on the floor, misplace it somehow in much the same way I can misplace my keys or glasses with alarming ease and frequency.

I managed to smuggle a small poem that I had written on simple white paper, in script, in a beautiful black frame. During a casual walk to the men’s room, I nervously slipped it into the hands of the waitress and she quickly became a co-conspirator. Well, actually, her and a couple of the other waitresses. She managed to bring it out just after our meal, right before we were expecting dessert. I wish she wouldn’t have waited near the table with her co-workers; it felt like a thousand eyes upon me. I was only interested in two; two beautiful, bright blue eyes that mesmerized me from the first glance and have enthralled me ever since.

I had to write it down. I would never have gotten through it otherwise. My mind was racing and scattered, my tongue had no master and my mouth would never be able to adequately convey my thoughts without rushing or stuttering. Somewhere between the heart, the mind and the lips, emotion takes far too many twists to be expressed the way that it’s truly felt. No way I was going to risk this; no way.

It was simple. She read it slowly, at first not quite sure what it was when it was placed in front of her. And in that moment, I realized that there is nothing quite so beautiful in the world as the reflection of candlelight in her tear-welled eyes. As she read it, I realized that I might have just managed to have another person peer directly into my soul. I let her read it over again before I said a word;

Diane;

Marriage is a dance to love,

which is the music of life;

Please dance with me until the music stops.

Love;

Jeff

Twenty years have gone by. Twenty. That she said yes still makes me tear up. Twenty years. And in all that time, I still hear the music. What was once a soulful ballad, sung softly by a hopeful lone voice has become a symphony with rich, deep lows and breathtaking crescendos. I hear it when she walks into the room. I hear it when she speaks, or when she sighs. I hear it when I’m alone and my thoughts wander to her face. It lulls me to sleep every night. It echoes in the deepest part of my being.

Please tell me, dear Diane, that you hear it too; that twenty years hasn’t dulled the beauty of the music for you. Does it make you sway involuntarily? Does it wash over you, warm your soul the way it does mine? Does it still have meaning, this symphony, twenty years after it became the soundtrack to my life?

If it does, then dance with me for another twenty years. Diane, give me your hand; stand and embrace me.

And I will waltz with you through eternity.

Jeff

 


Another milestone, another tear. Should I have been prepared for this one, knowing it too was coming? I already faced the mixed bag of emotions when my eldest reached sixteen, realizing that the path I have chosen, the burden I have so eagerly, gleefully placed upon on my shoulders is coming to fruition. Fatherhood cannot be all rainbows, glitter and unicorn poop; one day you blink and she’s standing at the altar with someone you want to trust to love her and adore her with the same abandon that you have had her whole life. But the years have been kind to me; I have been part of the lives of two of the most beautiful souls I have ever come across. I could only have hoped that it would have lasted longer, ebbed away instead of hurtling away at the speed of light. Can’t we cuddle on the couch just one more time? We’ll see if we can find “Clifford” on PBS like we used to. Just us; no boys, no school, no Drivers-Ed, no world outside of “dad and daddy’s little girl” where I know you’ll always be safe and I know I’ll always be in your heart. We never heard the alarm of the dreaded “father clock”; can’t we linger just a little longer? I promise, I’ll make a ridiculously huge bucket of popcorn, just like I used to.

The things we remember make us who we are...

The things we remember make us who we are…

No, we can’t linger any longer. You’re running headlong into the world and I couldn’t be prouder. The memories we shared will forever play in my nighttime theater, old black and white reels of giggles and adventures. I remember when it wasn’t safe for me to kneel down on all fours to peer under the couch or a chair for a lost toy; it was always an open invitation for you to leap onto my back, demanding to be ridden around the living room until I was exhausted, breathless from the task and the uncontrollable laughter. It was always thus with you; you are joy incarnate, a deep resounding appreciation of life, love, friends and laughter. You are the light in any room; an easy, inviting soul. I can even see it in the eyes of your many friends who look to you for inspiration, acceptance or comfort. It is so rewarding to see you touch so many people the way you have touched me.

I may have been somewhat melancholy before; it is different with you. You are my baby, my last child. Yet, I only feel the apprehension of separation for you; I will always wish to be there for you. I’ll loosen my grip but I’ll never let go. But as I watched you grow into the young lady I now see before me, I took my own strength from your accomplishments, knowing that your depth of character, your remarkable intelligence tempered by a loving heart accompanied by a quirky, dry humor will endear you to many; I have yet to see you back down from a challenge, or fail at one. But your intelligence is only surpassed by your humility. The dignity you carry yourself with, and the deep respect and love you have for others is inspiring. Could I at least, in some small measure, claim that I had any contribution to the lovely soul which you have become? Or is that just vanity on my part? As I have said before, this is and has long been my calling:

I only want to be a good father. No greater responsibility can be placed on any man’s shoulders; No greater reward can be had.

I’m sorry, but I cannot allow myself to think that you have become the person you are now without me having some influence, however insignificant. A father’s pride I guess. Through the years, I spent many hours agonizing over if I was teaching you well, was I the father you deserved, did I do a good job…always agonizing over everything, every issue large and small, giving the same import to flowers that wilted to soon or pets that would pass unexpectedly. Did you have your helmet on? Were you climbing too high? Did you brush your teeth tonight? And through it all, you displayed a serene calmness, smile pasted on your face that seemed out of place for one so young; a lesson you took great pains to teach your father. I guess I always worried until the day you actually put the issue into perspective for me; “gee dad, I’m just not into all that drama.” I watch intently now as you navigate your life, seemingly frenetic to me, but barely giving you pause.

I only ask that you bear with me now. I’m sure I’ll embarrass you in front of your friends. Maybe I’ll get on your nerves asking about this grade, or details on this or that friend. Who are you with, when will you be back. You know, dad stuff. The stuff that lets me believe, lets me hope that I’m still important in your life, now that your life is so filled with things other than me. And always know that I am proud of you. I know you and your sister find it funny when I get all weepy; something I can’t control. Maybe a little too much drama.

But in the end, you are sixteen. And soon seventeen and then on and on. But the one constant is that I will always love you, I will always be proud of you. And I am more and more astounded by the person you have become and the possibilities that stretch out in front of you. My dear little Hannah; go on, get out there and own this world. I have no doubts that you’ll be successful in anything that you set your mind to. And don’t you ever look back.

Well, except once in a while to wave and to say “I love you, dad.”

After all, I still need a little drama…

Enter your email address and I'll let you know when I post!

Join 272 other followers

hey, pick a topic

Other stuff you gotta see…

messydeskbooks

totally random and unconnected thoughts...

Chicks On The Right

totally random and unconnected thoughts...

GraniteGrok

totally random and unconnected thoughts...

PJ Media

totally random and unconnected thoughts...

Moonbattery

totally random and unconnected thoughts...

The Gateway Pundit

totally random and unconnected thoughts...

CanadaFreePress.Com

totally random and unconnected thoughts...

ExposeTheMedia.com

Just another WordPress.com site