Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Happy Halloween

Here is an original poem for Halloween (ok, I am not Poe)

The night of moonless solitude
Crept in a foggy haze
Darkness amplifies lonely footsteps
Escaping from the maze

Killers lurk in concrete caves
Waiting for their prey
They tear the flesh from passersby
And disappear with the day

None will see and live to tell
Of the terrors of the night
And investigators find mangled bones
As evidence of their plight

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Sunday, October 27, Sunday Scribblings - Hospital

I have been submitting to Sunday Scribblings sporadically for about seven months and it has occurred to me that most of my ramblings have been very superficial and reveal very little of myself. While most of the other writers in this community take themselves and their writing very seriously, I have often trivialized the prompts and made light of whatever topic was presented. As a result, those few that read my ramblings have probably formed an opinion that I never have a serious thought. My first instinct with the prompt “hospital” was to follow my modus operandi and provide humorous anecdotes about bedpans, nurses trying, unsuccessfully, to find a vein for an IV, paper gowns, and sharing a semi-private room with a corpse. But that would have been an untruth. The first thought invoked by the prompt “hospital” follows:

My mother died in November of 1986. I was not there. I was serving overseas in the Air Force and by the time the Red Cross contacted me it was too late to come home. My father did not know to contact the Red Cross to notify me and he did not know how to make an international call. We were not the kind of family that frequently kept in touch. Communication was primarily through letters, so there was no indication that anything was wrong in Idaho. She had already been cremated by the time I was notified. I spoke to my dad and he indicated that he was fine, though I knew he wasn’t. I was a single dad with three kids who had recently survived a divorce and an immediate uprooting to a foreign country. Dad knew that my place was with them and there was no point in returning home after the fact.

In March of 1989, I was still in Europe, and received notification that my Dad was in the hospital and that his life expectancy was in the hours, not days. He was in the final stages of cancer that was so far advanced by the time he sought medical treatment, that there was none available. I left my kids with friends and immediately flew home.

When I arrived at the hospital I did not recognize the figure that they told me was my dad. He had not been a large man, but he worked in the mines for 35 years and was very strong with powerful arms and a grip that could put me on my knees. He now weighed less than 100 pounds and consisted of skin stretched across a skeleton. I am not even certain that he knew I was there. All I could do was hold his hand, put ice chips to his parched lips, a cool washrag on his forehead, and talk to him. I probably said more to him in those few hours than I had in my life. Let me explain. When I was young my mom did most of the communicating. When I reached my teens, I didn’t communicate at all with my parents. I thought I knew so much more than them, what was the point? Then I left home, went to college, got married, joined the Air Force, and never came back, other than for short visits. So my dad and I never got to know each other as adults. The man that I was trying to comfort during his last breaths was a stranger to me.

That hospital room, silent but for dad’s labored breath and my soft words to him, became a time machine. I was transported back to my youth, to our youth. The times we went fishing, watching the Friday Night Fights, the times there were presents under the tree that dad could ill afford, our late night raids on the kitchen after mom had retired to bed, going bowling, playing catch. It all came back to me in a flood. This was both my first first-hand experience with death and my first realization of who this man really was. For my entire life, I had taken both him and life for granted.

The doctor came in, said dad seemed stable, and told me that I might as well go home and get some rest and come back in the morning. I tried to insist that I would stay but he convinced me to go since I had been up for who knew how many hours, including a flight from Germany to Spokane. I had been at home for about an hour when the hospital called and said dad was gone. The nurse said that it seemed he was just waiting for me to get home.

Back at the house I grew up in, I sat in the recliner that dad had spent the best part of the time since mom died. There was a stack of papers on the end table. I picked them up and looked through them. There were newspaper clippings, both from my baseball days and from my military career. But the one thing that caught my eye was a Christmas card that I had given my parents when I was a teen. I had written a little poem entitled to my parents:
There’s a lot of things I should do, that I don’t
And a lot of things I could do that I won’t
There’s a lot of things I shouldn’t that I do
And a lot more things I should, than I do for you

Those four lines capsulize my life about as accurately as anything I could say here. Those of you who expected my usual “writing with a smirk” will be disappointed greatly, particularly Lucy. I should be back on form next Sunday.

Postscript: I carried my parent’s ashes with me for about ten years, not really knowing what to do with them. The containers began to leak so I had to make a decision. I was living in Wyoming at the time and carried them to a beautiful and unique place where I dumped them into a river that disappears underground (see website). Neither of them had ever been there and we had no connection with the area. It just seemed like a nice place. I had actually inquired about spreading dad’s ashes on the mound at our beloved Yankee Stadium, but found it was against city ordinance.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

It Is Good To Be King - Sunday Scribblings 10/21/07

I don’t aspire to be King of the World, just the USA. I would initiate the following laws for my Kingdom:

All Education And Commerce Will Be Conducted In English. Failure to Speak English: Immediate Deportation To Country That Speaks Your Language.
Tax Structure Will Guarantee That Educators, Military, and Police Will Be Paid More Than Any Professional Athlete or Entertainer.
All Employment Includes Child Care and Medical Care. Supplemented By Taxes Raised From Entertainers and Athletes.
Winning The Lottery And Keeping Janitor Job: Money Will Be Redistributed.
Littering/Graffiti: Death Penalty

You Can Bury Loved Ones On Your Own Property In Whatever Container You Wish.
You Can Sell Body Parts On Ebay.

If You Come In Contact With a Military Man/Woman In Uniform It is Mandatory To Shake Their Hand And Thank Them For Their Service. Failure To Do So Will Result In The Offender Immediately Trading Jobs With The Soldier..
There Will Be No Welfare Until There Are No Help Wanted Signs in the Kingdom. Failure Of Able-Bodied Citizen To Work (Unless Self-Sufficient): Deportation To Socialist Country Such As England Or Canada

Not Signaling for Any Maneuver That Causes Your Auto To Leave Your Lane: Death Penalty
Driving 20 MPH Under The Speed Limit: Death Penalty
Talking on Cell Phone While Driving (Not Hands Free): Death Penalty
Talking on Cell Phone While Serving Customers: Death Penalty
Talking on Cell Phone While Being Served: Death Penalty
Text Messaging While Driving: Death Penalty
Sending me a Text Message: Ass-kicking followed by Death Penalty

National Anthem Will Be Changed To “God Bless the USA by Lee Greenwood”
Failure to Stand During National Anthem: Deportation To Country Of Your Choice
All Indian Reservations Will Be Closed and Native Americans Given Same Advantages and Requirements As Other Americans (I don’t care what happened prior to my reign)
Citizenship Is Not Automatic By Birth. All Prospective Citizens (Including Immigrants)
Must Perform 2 Years Community Service Prior To Being Awarded Citizenship. Can Be Military Service, Planting Trees, Picking Up Litter On Highway, Building Roads, etc.
All Citizens Will Be Referred To As Americans. Any Reference to Native American, African American, Italian American, etc Will Result In Citizenship Being Revoked and Deportation To Country Person Identifies With (Native Americans Will Return To Reservation Without Casinos)

Uttering The Phrases “That’s How I Roll”, “Keeping It Real”, “Slippery Slope” Or “Whatever”: Death Penalty
Blaming Anyone Other Than Yourself For Any Transgression: Death Penalty
Drinking And Driving Will Not Be An Offense But Anyone Causing Harm To Person Or Property While Intoxicated: Death Penalty (Do You Want To Take A Chance?)
All Children Will Wear Uniforms To School. Social Class Will Not Be An Obstacle To Learning.
Televising WNBA, Major League Soccer, or Billiards: Network Taken Over By State. Programming Changed To “All Seinfeld, All The Time”
Smoking In Restaurant: Death Penalty

Parent Yelling Criticism From Stands At Any Youth Sporting Event: Public Flogging
Middle Aged Man With a Comb-Over Or Pony Tail: Immediate Government Imposed Head Shave
Initiating Frivolous Lawsuit: Death Penalty
Currency Will Feature Likeness of Albert Einstein, Mark Twain, Elvis, and Walt Disney.
Shoplifting/Stealing: Death Penalty
Selling or Distributing Drugs To Children: Death Penalty
Abusing a Domestic Animal (Cat or Dog): Death Penalty Abusing Any Animal: Depends on the Species of the Animal

Wearing a Thong or Speedo in Public (body fat over 20%): Death Penalty
Wearing Low-Rider Jeans with stomach showing (body fat over 20%): Death Penalty
Keeping Your Seat on Public Transportation When Senior Citizen is Standing: Death Penalty Parents Who Raised You Can Be Prosecuted Too.
Total Religious Freedom Will Exist, However If You Harm Another Citizen or Destroy Property In the Name of Your Religion It Will Immediately Be Abolished.
Trying to Convert Someone to Your Religion: Must Attend Diversity Seminar
White Men Dancing: Death Penalty
Performing Karaoke of any song from the “Grease” Soundtrack or “Paradise By The Dashboard Lights:” Death Penalty

Any Television Program Broadcasting An Image of Lindsay Lohan, Britney Spears, Paris Hilton, or Rosie O’Donnell (List to Be Modified At My Discretion) Will Be Immediately Replaced With Seinfeld Re-Runs.
Living In America and Continually Talking About How Wonderful Your Home Country Is: Immediate Deportation To That Wonderful Country
Living On A Golf Course and Not Playing Golf: Death Penalty
Deadbeat Dads or Moms: Death Penalty
All Law Schools Will Be Closed Until It is Determined That We Need More Lawyers
Taking an Unapproved Photograph Of Any Other Citizen Regardless Of Level Of Celebrity: Death Penalty

Kidnap, Rape, Armed Robbery, Crimes Against Children: Death Penalty
Celebrity Expressing Political Opinion: Bad Review Followed By Death Penalty
Allowing Children To Scream and Misbehave in Restaurant, Movie Theater, Wal-Mart, or any Public Place: Children Put Up For Adoption, Parents Sterilized
A Training Program and License Is Required To Be a Parent. Violation: Children Put Up For Adoption, Parents Sterilized.
We Will Discontinue Trade With Canada As They Have Nothing We Want.

Legalization, Regulation, and Taxation of: Prostitution and Marijuana.

Abolishing Of All Seatbelt, Helmet, and any other laws written to protect us from ourselves.