Archive for the ‘Ethics’ Category

It’s thirteen months before the next Presidential elections, and I’m already sick and tired of the promises being made by candidates from both sides, promises they have no intention of keeping because they don’t honestly know how. That, my friends, is a 37-word sentence, a fierce violation of the “writers’ code.” Frankly, I don’t give a damn. If the politicians can lie as blatantly as they do, I can violate a few of the inviolable rules of journalism.

What the political hacks seem to conveniently forget is exactly what Barrack Obama forgot when he assumed the Executive Office…you do not work alone in governing the United States of America. The Founding Fathers made this very clear when they proposed a system of checks and balances for each of the three branches of our government; the Legislative, Executive, and the Judicial. While it is the function of the Legislative Branch to propose and enact laws that will benefit a “great majority,” these can either be vetoed by the Executive Branch or ruled unconstitutional by the Judicial Branch. The President, while he – no she yet – may bluster and bitch, he can veto what Congress sends to him for signature, ergo, he thinks he’s top gun, but Congress may override his veto. In addition, they control the purse strings, thus limiting his ability to spend monies on projects of which he may approve but which Congress does not. Oh, yes, and if they believe he has done something illegal or immoral, they can also impeach him. The judicial branch, while controlled by a systems of lower courts, is basically exempt from the checks which apply to the other two branches, and the rulings of the Supreme Court will stand until challenged by new justices.

As a result of the checks and balances that our Founding Fathers included in the Constitution, it doesn’t really matter what tripe and braggadocio is uttered by wannabee Presidential candidates. Their key attribute should be the ability to get those from their own and their opposition parties to work alongside them for the common good of the nation. This might just be a novel concept for the Executive leadership branch of government; after all, the Legislative Branch does not know how to work in any kind of harmony for the betterment of the country. I’d like you to think about that for just a moment. We have a chief executive who, when he doesn’t get his own way with the Legislative Branch, attempts to go around them through executive action rather than work with them to determine what they see as the problem with what he is attempting to achieve. (You may have to read that sentence a couple of times, but you understand what I’m saying, don’t you…sure, I thought you did.)  On the other hand, as you may have read in The Selling of America, we have a Legislative Branch that is so torn apart internally that it cannot even decide on the correct time of day or whether or not the sky is blue! Meanwhile, back in Kentucky, a clerk is telling the Supreme Court to go straight to hell, because she doesn’t care about the laws of America; she’s a law unto herself. The Founding Fathers knew that governing wouldn’t be easy, but I’m not so certain they ever envisioned anything quite as tragically comical as what we are seeing in the early part of the 21st Century. Where the hell is common sense when we need it…yep, you’re right; common sense truly is not all that common.

This is why I am already sick and tired of the banalities of these people who believe they are qualified to lead the United States of America. Here is a question that I would like to ask each of the candidates: “how can you be so certain that you are qualified to run the nation?” They would, no doubt, begin to respond immediately and I would interrupt by saying “SHADDUP FOOL!” as loudly as possible. If they continued to speak, I would have them ejected from wherever our meeting was taking place. If you don’t have to stop and think, think, think about the questioning of your own abilities, say nothing until you can speak with genuine authority. I could take each candidate currently in the running and dissect them piece by piece but then this essay would go on forever. Let me just say that governing a state does not qualify you to govern a nation, no matter how successful you were in doing so. Being in Congress most assuredly does not qualify you to be the chief executive of the United States. Having been a business person who achieved a modicum of success hardly qualifies you to the pressures that you will feel when you enter the Oval Office. Let’s see, have I left any area uncovered? Nope, don’t think so. To me, the best person to run the country is the one who has all sorts of reservations about his or her ability to do so, but who is willing to put forth a best effort to keep the nation growing, to reduce the national debt; to keep our country free from attack by foreign powers or individuals who would attempt to destroy us, and who is actually willing to sacrifice his or her life to do these things and so many, many more. Show me that person, the one who is free from bluster and bullcrap, who is willing to work with and/or around the idiots currently occupying the halls of Congress like a goddamned childish sit in, and who can demonstrate openly the ‘how’ of their plan, and that my friends is the person who gets my vote. The saddest thing of all is that that person has yet to come forward. Because of that, I fear greatly for the future of my nation.

Read Full Post »

I am an American.

I was born in America, educated in American public schools, attended college in America, worked all of my adult life in America, married an American lady, brought up three kids in America – not quite true because my wife did most of the kid upbringing – and I fully intend to die in America. I love the country of my birth and death, but I don’t much care for some of the things that go on inside it.

Please, don’t get me wrong. I’m quite certain that there people in other countries who feel the same way about their nations as I feel about my own…though that’s not necessarily true, because it seems to me that many people in other countries look to America as either being the hope of the world or the devil that is driving the world to extinction.

My complaints about my own country might be considered by some as marginally ludicrous. I don’t consider them such. For example, why does this country spend so much money on foreign aid when we have Native American people who don’t even have clean water with which to drink, bathe, or do their washing in? Haven’t we done enough to the Native Americans? First, we – the settlers who first invaded what we now call the United States of America – slaughtered as many Native Americans as we possibly could so that we could steal their lands. Then, when we came to a certain degree of our senses, we gathered them together and tried to place them on the most inhospitable lands that we could find. When they discovered that the land had value – beneath if not above – we pushed them into other areas where the land had no value above or below. Here it is, the 21st Century, and they are without running water in many of their homes? What is wrong with us? Have we lost all sense of what is important versus what is politically expedient? These people, whom we slaughtered, marched on a trail of tears, pushed away from the ‘real’ Americans, should be revered and treated as well as we treated the Italians, Poles, Germans, Irish, and so many others who came to this country seeking the American Dream and who actually found it. Native Americans, on the other hand, have known nothing but the American nightmare.

“It has been said the democracy is the worst form of government, except for all of the others that have been tried.” The quote is attributed to Sir Winston Churchill, although there are many questions regarding the date, place, time he might have spoken such erudite verbiage. Purists will tell you that America is not a democracy but is, in fact, a republic…and they are correct. According to ThisNation.com, “The United States is, indeed, a republic, not a democracy. Accurately defined, a democracy is a form of government in which the people decide policy matters directly–through town hall meetings or by voting on ballot initiatives and referendums. A republic, on the other hand, is a system in which the people choose representatives who, in turn, make policy decisions on their behalf. The Framers of the Constitution were altogether fearful of pure democracy. Everything they read and studied taught them that pure democracies “have ever been spectacles of turbulence and contention; have ever been found incompatible with personal security or the rights of property; and have in general been as short in their lives as they have been violent in their deaths.” Sounds about right to me because if we allowed the people of Wyoming, Rhode Island, Florida or any other single state to enact laws applicable to every other state, the death of our nation would, indeed, have been swift and violent. The problem, however, is that those representatives we have chosen to make policy decisions on our behalf have, over our 228-plus years evolved from being men and women concerned with the welfare of the nation, to a group of idiots more concerned with perpetuating the goals of their own political party and their place of power within that party…and this is wrong. It is wrong, wrong, wrong, and I for one do not see any hope for a return to the days when, as Thomas P. “Tip” O’Neill said, “It’s country first; state second, and political party a distant third.” We the people are represented by those we elected to office; however, their allegiance is being usurped by lobbyists, by political action committees (PACs), and by a few power brokers who can ensure their reelection or their defeat, ergo, their allegiance is really to themselves and to hell with the people who actually cast votes in their favor.

Everyone talks about a moral compass. America’s moral compass is so screwed up that the Founding Fathers are, I am quite certain, spinning so fast in their graves, they resemble a child’s toy on the kitchen table. We invade other countries and wind up starting bigger wars than we can finish. We feed the people of other nations, dig wells for their fresh water supply while our own citizens go wanting. We pay more attention to the infrastructure of other lands than we do to the lands in our country. I am but one voice screaming in the wilderness. I will continue to scream until things change or I am dead, and where I’m headed, I’m certain I’ll still be screaming!

Read Full Post »


The most powerful thing you can do to change the world is to change your own beliefs. If you approach life with a sense of possibility and the expectation of positive results, you’re more likely to have a life in which possibilities are realized and results are positive. Lisa Funderburg


Do you think that’s accurate?  Or is it just a bunch of bullshit tripe expounded by one of those goody-two-shoes who is shocked beyond belief when something happens that disabuses him or her with just how bad the world can be? To be downright dirty about it, how many of those parents who dropped their kids off at Sandy Hook Elementary School believed in one thing in the morning and by nightfall had changed their beliefs?


Believe all you want in whatever you want. It really doesn’t matter. You and I go along, believing that there is good in all people or that all people are assholes and guess what? We all die…assholes, idiots, and those with positive beliefs and attitudes. Do those with good belief systems and a positive outlook die happier than those who have stared at life through shit-stained glasses? Which is better, to screw some little old retiree out of her life savings or work with her to ensure that her life savings will still be there when she draws her last breath? You may think that the answer to that question is a simple one. Consider this: What if the one who screwed the little old lady out of her savings did so to aid a dying old man who had no money? In either case, the ‘screwer’ is a bastard, son-of-a-bitch, motherfucker, or whatever other rancid title you wish to attach. Tough, tamales, the old man didn’t have the money, but stealing it to help him is wrong or right. What if the money stolen helps him to get better and he discovers a cure for cancer?


We all encounter these ethical dilemmas on a daily, weekly, or monthly basis. We may not even recognize them as being as involved or complicated. We’re using a pen in the office and without thinking stick in our shirt pocket or purse, maybe writing out a shopping list so we can stop at the grocery store on the way home. Hey, it’s not your pen and what were you doing making out a shopping list on company time? “That’s not the same thing,” you say. Isn’t it? It may not be of the magnitude of our first example, but it’s still stealing something tangible as well as stealing time from the company.


Examples could go on ad nauseum, but I for one believe that what Lisa Funderburg has said is just as true as true can be. Yes, I’m going to die; yes, I’ve written several essays about death and dying. However, if I spend every minute thinking about that one thing, I’m convinced it will happen much sooner rather than much later. As a consequence, more and more I look for the positives in my life and the more I look, the more I find. I believe that going to the gym and working myself to the limits of my endurance makes me feel better for the rest of the day and, therefore, that’s what I do. I believed that my writing had gotten stale and I wasn’t enjoying it as much as I once did, so I took a vacation from it. And it helped.


It may have been Thomas Jefferson who said, “I find that the harder I work, the luckier I get,” but I don’t know if it was old Tom [so no nasty notes]. I found the same thing to be true when I was working. If I did a half-assed job, I got half-assed results. Do that often enough and you either find yourself without a job or you find yourself being rejected by your colleagues. Neither is a pleasant alternative.


It’s not easy to change your belief systems. If those glasses you wear have always had that nasty stain, it’s tough to change them to looking rose-colored. It’s difficult to think positive when your whole life has been lived negatively. Since I don’t know you, well okay, I know a few of you, but since I don’t know most of you, I’m not going to tell you how to change. I can tell you a few things I do, but whether it will help you or whether or not you even want to try, is entirely up to you.

  • Whether in a building or outside, if someone looks at me as we pass, I smile and say good morning or afternoon to them. My experience is that if they’re scowling, they smile and return the greeting; if they’re already smiling, it gets wider and the greeting is returned.
  • Every once in a while, I like to surprise Juli by doing something crazy. Last week we took a helicopter ride. I didn’t tell her about it until the ride was booked and I told her I was going for a ride the following day. I knew she’d decline…which she did…until we were back in the house for about ten minutes. Then she said, “I want to go.” She did; we did, and it was fantastic.
  • I have one of those pay phones where I don’t have a plan; I call anywhere and add minutes as I wish. Some folks call them a “burner,” but what the hell…who cares? I enjoy picking up my little phone and calling old classmates, right out of the blue. It’s all fine and good as long as you know the classmate is alive and happy. Made that mistake once, and when I was told, “Oh, she’s been dead for years,” I changed my system to ensure that I wouldn’t make the same mistake again.
  • Whenever I look at the flowers – the tons of flowers – that Juli has planted, it makes me feel good. With the winter we experienced this year, one of the things that kept me thinking in a positive manner was knowing that once the snow had gone, those bulbs would send forth their flowers and color would reign once more in our front and back yards.

There’s not really a hell of a lot more to say on the subject. Read the quote again; she’s right; positive beliefs can lead to positive results. Good luck and go get ‘em tiger!

Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest accomplishment, or the smallest act of caring, all of which have the potential to turn a life around.      Leo Buscaglia

Read Full Post »

I have a high school classmate who swears to this day that he threw our principal down a flight of stairs. I’m not saying that it’s impossible; however, I don’t believe he would have graduated with us had he done this deed of which he is so proud. Did our principal deserve to be thrown down a flight of stairs? To the best of my memory, which is, admittedly, not the best source, no, he did not deserve that fate. He was a fair and reasonably just man. On the day a group of us decided to blow off school…and got caught, he didn’t yell or scream; he didn’t give us detentions for the remainder of the year. He told us, as I recall, that such actions could be placed on our permanent records and jeopardize our futures. How, I don’t know, but that is what he said. Overall, he was just another administrator doing whatever it is that administrators do.

There were some teachers who were most deserving of, if not trips down the stairs, perhaps some other form of punishment such as they were wont to mete out whenever the appropriate occasion arose. Their weapons were words…as cruel and damaging as any knife or gun. Often times, they were as harsh and deleterious as the biggest bomb or a fighter’s fist. Fortunately, I was the victim of one of these teachers only once, but once was quite enough. “You should get a full-time job in that grocery store because you’ll never be good for anything else.” It was a counterproductive, pernicious comment and worse because it was said in front of a fellow student and yes, it had been prefaced with “Why can’t you be more like so-and-so (standing beside me).” I don’t believe that I have ever despised anyone more than I did that teacher at that particular moment. The day did come when revenge was taken. It was the day I went back to my old high school as a permanent substitute teacher. As I walked into the teacher’s room, the old harridan confronted me with “What are you doing in here?” What a delight to tell her that I had given up the grocery job for college; had a couple of months before I would head back for my final term, decided to exercise one of my double minors, and that she could now regard me as a colleague. I was having so much fun that I was rather sorry when she stormed out of the lounge. Life can sometimes just be a bitch, can’t it?

I suppose that had I been going to school in this day and age, they merely would have tagged me as having attention deficit hyperactivity disorder or some other fancy psychological moniker; given me Ritalin, Prozac or some other crazy drug to calm me, and I could live my life in a drug induced la-la land. Thank God, I didn’t have to go through that bullshit. It was bad enough when my youngest was diagnosed with ADHD and dyslexia. However, she also overcame the diagnosis and graduated from college cum laude.

Nor are we alone in having escaped the words of teachers with acid tongues. At one time, a teacher told the parents of Gary Cohn – the president and chief operating officer of Goldman Sachs – that with luck their son might grow up to be a truck driver. Cohn was diagnosed with dyslexia, but before that happened, he had been bounced around to four different schools…and he was still in the sixth grade. He overheard the comment made to his parents. He was not going to allow it to deter him, and obviously it did not.

Cohn’s not alone. Shortly after my youngest was diagnosed, I had the opportunity to meet Paul Orfalea, the founder of Kinko’s. Paul was at Babson to be inducted into the college’s Academy of Distinguished Entrepreneurs. He was walking around campus with his faculty escort when I bumped into them. We began talking about his problems with high school and college. He graduated last from his 1,200-student high school. He had a tough time at college. However, he had a brilliant mind and found a niche at college where students had very limited access to copying machines. He leased one, set up an office near campus, and charged for duplication. Whamo! Kinko’s was born…named after Paul who bore the nickname because of his kinky red hair. We had a wonderful conversation, and I have never forgotten one thing that he said: “Everyone learns at a different pace.” As a teacher at the high school, college, and continuing education levels, I can certainly attest to the truth of that statement.

The point is that if someone tells you that your child has a learning disability, don’t think he or she is alone. Don’t believe that she or he can’t accomplish great things. Indeed, some of the world’s most famous people have been diagnosed with a learning disability of one kind or another. These include Richard Branson, founder of more than 150 companies bearing the Virgin name, Michael Phelps, world class swimmer, Charles Schwab, founder, chair, and COO of the largest brokerage firm in the United States, Erin Brockovich, Danny Glover, and Whoopi Goldberg. If that’s not an impressive list, I don’t know what the hell is. It’s been a long time since I was told to get a full-time job in a grocery store. Did I make a million bucks? No, when you work in higher education, your rewards are of a different kind, a satisfaction in seeing students with whom you worked go on to do some pretty damned good things. So once more I will say, don’t worry if your child gets a label. Remember, everyone learns at a different pace.

Read Full Post »

Okay, Jihadi, John, any plans you may have had for terrorizing the United States can now be put on hold. You’ve won, baby, and you didn’t even have to drive a tank down Pennsylvania Avenue or march around the Lincoln Memorial – that would have really fucked up DC traffic if you did it at rush hour. See, here’s the way this is going to work…you send a couple of guys into Congress; one goes to the office of the Senate Majority Leader, Mitch McConnell, and the other goes into the office of House Speaker John Boehner. Each delivers a bill that relates to the Department of Homeland Security. The one to McConnell will be falsely authored by Boehner and will include nothing on immigration. The bill to the House Leader will be a fake, supposedly written by McConnell that will include a section that would nullify the Presidential executive order. By the time they determine the fraud, both houses of Congress will be so confused, they’ll be shooting at each other. Just stand back and wait, Johnny-Boy, and our own legislative branch of government will implode.

On a more serious note, I am so sick and tired of the Congress of the United States that I’d almost be willing to move to Canada. The only thing preventing that is that the Canadians are beginning to sound almost as idiotic as the Americans. Excuse me, but if you’re a Canadian citizen and you wish to buy an airline ticket for Turkey, the answer is a resounding “No.” If all of you took classes in Islamic studies from a known Islamist, (a) double “No” and (b) the government will buy the ticket for the known Islamist and fly his ass directly to Syria.

If, as has been publicly said, the United States is conducting terror investigations in each of the 50 states, why hasn’t some action been taken? If we are already aware of whom the catalysts in our prisons are, why hasn’t some action been taken to weed them out, isolate them, or martyr them? If we know, and I’m quite certain that our intelligence agencies know – oh, god, I hope I’m not wrong about this – the mosques and imams who are radicalizing our citizenry, why the hell hasn’t action been taken to close the mosques and ship these people back from whence they came? Have we become so politically correct that we are willing to turn the other cheek until the jihadists decide that slitting our throats is easier?

The time has long since past when America should tolerate extreme Islamists. Whoever they are; wherever they are, they should be shut down now. “Oh, but if we do that, it’s a violation of the First Amendment to the Constitution!” Bullshit! When a sect or cult begins to threaten the rights of the people who built this country, their First Amendment rights no long pertain or exist. Lincoln suspended the right of habeas corpus during the civil war. We are currently engaged in another, undeclared civil war right now against a group of foreign invaders who, if not dealt with as soon as humanly possible, will be flying the black and white over cities, towns, and hamlets all across America.

Do I sound paranoid? I’m too old to be paranoid. I am not yet old enough, however, to stop loving my country or to see that it is being eaten away from the inside out. The “new” Congress, controlled by a single party, was elected by the people because they promised to break gridlock and “govern.” Since that time, they have passed one major piece of legislation and that was vetoed by the President, as they knew it would be. Now, the houses cannot agree on a piece of legislation, which if not passed, will leave the security of our nation, closed for business. If that is what the Congress calls “governing,” then many of them have stuck their heads in the sand or somewhere else where the sun doesn’t shine.

The problems that we face cannot be laid entirely at the feet of the Legislative Branch of the United States government any more than they can be fully blamed on the Executive Branch. More than ever before, I blame the American people for electing the same political hacks who promise everything and deliver nothing, for creating the fix in which we now find ourselves. Google the number of criminals who are serving in the United States Congress; you’ll find that most of the investigations and arrests involve money. Income tax evasion, illegal campaign funding, illegal use of campaign funds…and you think that these people give a good goddamn about the people who voted for them? The answer to that depends entirely on how much which voters contributed to get them elected.

Ross Perot said it years ago; “Wake Up America.” From infiltration by jihadist terrorists to an inept legislative branch of government that can’t agree on anything, we are, to use an old saw, “up to our collective asses in alligators,” and the swamp remains undrained.

I propose that before any candidate for national public office is allowed to run, the same type of background investigation be conducted as is done for members of the military to be granted a Top Secret Code Word clearance. That would include a polygraph examination as well as random drug testing.  Given sufficient time, I’m quite certain that other requirements could be developed that would separate the wheat from the chaff.

Think about this for a moment: We are a nation of 320 million people, ninety-five percent of whom don’t give a damn as long as they have a roof over their head, a meal on the table three times a day, a new car in the garage or carport every six or seven years, and shoes without holes. On the other hand, you have the one percent who wants more than their fair share. You also have about 46 million children going to bed hungry every night. According to a UNICEF study, the United States has one of the highest rates of childhood poverty in the world. Is it any wonder that ISIS is able to recruit young people to its cause?

There you have it…from Jihad John to an inept and a somewhat corrupt government to a castigation of the American public and the way it treats its poorest, we have a great deal to overcome. Lordy, Lord, how I don’t envy the generation charged with pulling us out of this shit pile!

Read Full Post »

Do you remember any of yours? I’m quite certain you had one, two, three, maybe more along the years when you were growing up. They were the people you went to when whatever you had in mind was not for the ears of your parents…or even your friends. They were teachers, custodians – we called them janitors back then – or maybe even…heaven forbid…a school administrator of some kind. These were the people where there were almost no boundaries, no topic of your concern too touchy to be discussed. They weren’t friends because these people wouldn’t gossip. They weren’t parents because they didn’t judge. They were sounding boards who, if asked might give advice; if not asked would just nod their heads or pop in a question that you hadn’t considered.

I began thinking about this the other day when I received a message from a friend of mine. She was forwarding the memorandum from the President of Babson College, notifying everyone on campus that Bill Cruickshank had died. That name means nothing to you, but to me it was the passing of an era. You see, I knew Bill for more than 20 years; I worked with him, sometimes side by side; other times from a distance. Bill wasn’t “Mr. Chips;” no, he was more like a reincarnation of Roger Babson, the College’s founder. Well, that’s not true either because I don’t believe Mr. Babson would have given you the shirt off his back the way Bill would do. Bill was 90 when he died, which ain’t a bad run as age is concerned. He’d graduated in 1949, coming back from WWII with a Purple Heart with Oak Leaf Cluster and a Bronze Star for valor. We were on a retreat once and had some time to go to the beach. It was there that a saw a couple of the machine gun scars that Bill had. You see, he was gunned down and left for dead in a French farmyard. The farm family took him in and nursed him back to health, but I’ll tell ya, I saw where those bullets had hit him and I have no idea how the hell he survived…but he did…and that was Bill. He didn’t teach, but he worked like hell with his alumni class to raise money for scholarships. More than 200 students benefited from Bill’s hard work and the largesse of the Class of 1949. Those 200 will never forget him; that’s for damn sure. There’s a lot more to say about Bill, but I’m just going to leave it with my tears and a friendship that will never be forgotten.

There are different kinds of “Bills” at every level of education. Remember Miss or Mrs. So-and-so in the fourth grade, the one you could go to whenever you had a problem you couldn’t solve by yourself? And Al, or Sam or Mr. Jackson, the janitor who could dispense wisdom any time you sought it. Today, those same people would probably be arrested for some stupid damned crime or other if the even said, “Good morning” to you. In many ways, there’s a sadness as to how things have changed.

I remember that in high school the one man I could always approach was the assistant principal, Joe Cogan. He was the disciplinarian of the school, and for most people who had to see him, it was not a pleasant experience. To use the vernacular of today, Joe was perfectly capable of tearing a new one for the unruly student. He had another side, however, and that was dispensing good advice to those who sought it. Joe was also the baseball coach, but he taught one hell of a lot more than how to hit a curve or field ground balls. He was a “life” teacher, the most important kind of all.

As an undergraduate, at Northeastern University in Boston, there were a couple of people sought out by many students. I never knew how that grapevine worked, but it seemed as if you had a problem, you could go see Dean Harold Melvin or Professor Raymond Fennell. Funny thing was that Dean Melvin was a full-time professor and Ray didn’t teach a damned thing to the best of my knowledge…but boy, could they dispense wisdom to help bring order out of your chaos.  Ray survived a heart attack, and this was back in the early fifties, when heart attacks were far less survivable than they are today. “When you knew you were going to be alright,” someone asked him one day, “what went through your mind?” I was in my third year so I was still pretty soaking behind the ears, but I have never forgotten Ray’s reply. “Out my window were trees and I remembered thinking how green the leaves were. I hadn’t remembered that they were that green. And I didn’t remember the sky being that blue. Now that I’m recovered, I appreciate the colors around me more than I did before the heart attack.”  When I had my first heart attack in 1990, I was laying in a bed at Mass General. My room was on the eleventh floor, so I didn’t have any trees to see, but I remembered Ray’s comment about the sky. He was right; it did look different. I could also see up the Charles River and look out on Fenway Park…and I thought of Ray, and I thought of how things that I took so much for granted could become so different when you go through a life-altering experience.

The people I knew; the people I went to as an undergraduate; the people, who worked with me years later at Babson, are all gone. And now Bill is gone too. There will be others to take the place of Linda Adams, who dispensed her wisdom through the cloud of cigarette smoke above her head. There will be someone new with a weird electronic object on his or her desk to replace Professor Jack Hornaday who attracted students like a magnet, but I won’t know who they are. I’m out of that business, and good riddance to me. My memories of those people I’ll take with me, but damn, they sure were great “life” teachers in addition to their regular jobs.

Read Full Post »

“I’m dying,” she said. Simple, direct, no drama to it all.

“Yes,” I replied, “I’m aware of that.”

“Can you help?” she asked.

“A rather strange question,” I responded. “Help in what manner?”

“Can you ease the pain? There’s a great deal of pain, you know. I don’t really mind the pain, but if there was a manner in which it could be eased, I think I’d feel better about the dying if there weren’t quite so much pain.” Always the pragmatist.

“There are drugs. Is that what you want? It might be for the best if you took them. They’ll ease the pain for a while.” It always seemed strange to me that when the doctors know someone is dying, how so many of them still seem reluctant to turn the dying patient intro a drug addict even though it might just allow their transition to be easier. I wonder why that’s so?

“I’m not big on drugs, you know; never cared for them; always thought they messed up my stomach. Guess I’ll just have to make some choices.”

“Yes, I guess you will.” She’s always been somewhat stubborn about drugs…as well as doctors. Had she not collapsed in the store, we probably would have learned she was dying after the fact…rather, a fait accompli. That’s really not very nice. She’s been dying for several years now. None of us had the courage to confront her with that fact which she would have denied had we mentioned it. I suppose that, as her husband, it was my place to speak up, but why irritate a person who’s dying and who already feels badly enough about the whole thing.

“Do you still love me?” she asks.

“Yes, I still love you,” I reply.

“Not as you once did, however,” she queries.

“No, not as I once did,” I respond. “I love you now without doubt, without fear, without any of those things that could call into question my love for you. I love you now with trust. Trust goes beyond the intimacy of youth, the molding of ourselves to one another; the attempt at altering the other’s opinions. This is, perhaps, the final stage of our love. Somehow, it seems more than appropriate, don’t you think?”

“We did have our times, however,” she says, attempting a small smile.

“Take this,” I say. Although she’s been on morphine for months, she appears to believe that what she takes is medicine. Perhaps this is some form of delirium, denial, or whatever. At least she’s coherent. Unfortunately, there are times when she’s not. Her milky eyes will stare at me and gibberish comes from her tongue. This is the time to stare back and nod. The tears have stopped; both hers and mine. Tears are useless at this stage. One might say, ‘all cried out,’ but that wouldn’t be quite right. I don’t think one can ever reach that point.

Her tongue comes out and the dropper releases its copper measure of relief. It won’t take long, but neither will it do much good. Should I continue to refill the dropper until the bottle is empty? Is that fair to her, to me?

Minutes pass; her eyes close; open briefly, and she is gone.

Too much?


Read Full Post »

Older Posts »


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 461 other followers