Tuesday, November 23, 2004

For the last few years my old pal Larry came here for Thanksgiving. We always go to friends and have it with their family, so we end up linking several extended families into one. This time Larry wasn't feeling well. Sunday he was having trouble working his computer and still not feeling right. Monday morning he got up, went to the bathroom to shave and collapsed on the bathroom floor. We called the medics and while he lay on the floor I held his hand and told him to hang in there. At the ER we were told he was very sick. His heart was racing, his O2 was bad and then, in a few minutes, he had passed. My best friend, my oldest buddy, was gone.

It's hard to recall a time when I didn't KNOW that if I had a question or needed a shoulder to cry on, Larry was just a phone call away. He would send money so I could fly down to see my son in the ICU, or send a computer for me to play with, or photos of old friends. Larry could fix a computer, repair a car, heal a broken heart. He is the kindest, gentlest man I ever knew.

Last night I had a bonfire for Larry. I cried, I told him how I will miss those hugs, that sweet smile and helping hand. There is a great hole in my life now. Larry is smiling and offering to help, and it's hard to not cry even though I know he'd rather I smiled, rather I looked at the bright side. He wants us to share with one another, to see his life for what it was: continuous love and devotion to friends and family. He is a hard worker, an honest man, a man who loves people so much and yet never married, never had a child to carry on his name. He loves cars and music and phtography and people, not in any particular order.

Larry was the last man left, maybe the last person, who would really listen to me. My rambling thoughts sometimes go in fields that others are afraid to follow, or simply can't see the paths. Larry could always find a way to figure out just what the hell I was talking about. He never doubted me and I never could imagine Larry having a wrong answer or an unkind thought.

The selfishness of sorrow is that we want what we can't have. At the ER they asked me if they could do anything and I said "Give me back my friend."

I suppose we will swear to do better, to honor his memory. We'll lose weight, take walks, write our loved ones more often, try to visit mom and dad before they too pass. We may even do it. We may shake ourselves up and try to give our loved ones as many decades as nature will allow. We will love one another more openly and see beauty in the small things. Some of us will turn our lives around. Some will falter and fail. Over it all, Larry the kind, Larry the gentle....Larry the well loved... will be encouraging us to not worry about the results, that as long as we are trying to be happy it's going to be okay.

But for me it's not okay. I have lost another brother, another dear piece of my heart and the pain will never go away until I can hug him again and show him all the things I've done since we last saw each other. Larry will look at them even if he doesn't find it very funny, or pretty or even sensible, he will look and talk to me about it. We'll talk for years, until the sun fades and goes dark and then we'll talk by the starlight. Teddy and the others sitting around a fire listening to the pipes, watching the beauty and loving one another. I'm pretty tired, but the sun is shining and the birds are chirping and dancing.

See ya later, Larry. Write if you get a chance, call if you can. Don't go far. I'll miss you.

Saturday, November 06, 2004

Surprisingly enough, many of my friends are talking about leaving the country. The surprise is that I thought I was the only one that scared. See, it's not just that the Moron has been sent into the White House for four more years....or more. Many people think that they wouldn't try to toss out the Constitution completely, but I say, why not? Why not, indeed? They do it in increments.

We had most of the Bill of Rights deleted under the Homeland Security Act and nobody really got upset. Or rather they got upset by recognized there is no apeal. The Moron has power to do anything, anywhere, at any time. So all the treaties we have signed are deleted, all the civil rights are eliminated. He will do it slowly and precede all the increments with red alerts and other devices. By the time people understand that they live in a facist dictatorship they won't care. They'll be too busy worrying about their neighbors turning them in, or that they might say the wrong thing on the phone. They might be too busy trying to pay all the new taxes that won't be called taxes or will seem not to originate from the federal government. IN four years it may be that we have to temporarily hold off on elections, just for awhile, just until the threat to our nation is eliminated. Then they will go off and invade more countries to make sure the threat is never eliminated. And the People will go along, or they will simply go.

Thing is, most folks never got very far into world history. Even the Talking Heads on the newscast never seem to want to call up the patterns. I suppose it might be that they are too worried about ratings, but more than that they are afraid of the results if they reveal what has happened. If you think you are alone in a room with a homicidal maniac, it would be unwise to point at them at scream "You're a homicidal maniac!" just in case they resent it. So if you start blowing the whistle on a corupt and dangerous bunch of facists, you better have a fall-back plan. If you are right, they will delete you. If you are wrong, you are making things worse. But history is a great thing, especially if it's been long enough for the scholars to have written about how things happened. Like how Hitler got into the driving seat and was able to take over most of the western world. He did it by fear mongering and vote manipulation. Just like here. He did it by scapegoating, selecting a minority group with a different religion. He did it by selecting weak nations to invade first, to whip up the idea of invincibility. Trouble is, in this case, in our case, the Moron is advised by business majors, not history majors. And he sure as hell never read a history book. He likes to read stories about yellow ducks and spotted dogs and kittens. So maybe they don't realize that their Plan has been done before. Viet Nam was never real to the Moron, because he was too drunk to notice what was happening. Besides, none of his rich friends died or were mutilated there, they were all cowards like him. All of his advisors were learning how to cook the books and fool stock holders and bank examiners, so a ten trillion deficit looks like a good thing to them, not because it's a deficit, but because they got away with it. They are actually planning on creating the most powerful bankrupt country ever.

What do you get when you take the most powerful military machine in the world, bankrupt it, and then put a group of idiots led by a Moron in charge.... oh yeah, and make them religious fanatics. You get big wars of acquisition. We go after the oil, after the iron, after all the things we can't make ourselves....which is everything now since the factories have closed. Then you polute the air and water and earth, because God will make it better and besides the Moron never did very well in science class and since he accepted Jesus as his personal excuse for religion he doesn't beieve in science, except as it makes him bigger bombs and more dangerous weapons. I expect we will bomb Iran and Syria, but invade Nigeria. They have a lot of oil in Nigeria. We'll do it to liberate the people in the same way we liberated Iraq.

And the net result will fool you all. The oceans go up 3-6 feet so all them tanks of chemicals will pour into the aquifer and the oceans, killing most of the life there. That means a lot of folks will starve to death, which means a lot of plagues and pandemics. God will be talking to the Moron a lot as people start screaming for solace. He will give them more wars, more bloodshed, more taxes. Eeventually the rest of the world will have to liberate us as they pick up the pieces. Our best hope is that enough of the militray will rebel once it is too late to deny that climate change is a bad thing, and too huge to fix quickly. We may end up banning all nukes, living under a world regime of strict climate rules. That may mean the survivors will get to use wind power and solar power. That will be good because the winds are going to be terrific, and so will the tidal waves. Hydro power from ocean currents might be a good way to go.

Those who survive may face a cleaner world, but I suppose the Yawehists will figure out a way to see this as something requiring that they kill everybody who doesn't worship their god, but hopefully they won't have the means to kill too many. A death cult is often too weak and silly to last long. I hope. I may have to rethink my garden plans in a couple of years. I have to figure out what can grow at the base of a glacier. Iceplants! Not very flavorful, though....

Tuesday, November 02, 2004

Tomorrow Jon is 30 years old, if he lives that long. On the 7th it will have been 4 years since he was thrown through the windshield of his van and into a coma. Twice I have driven past the spot where it happened....looking for blood or something I suppose. Curiously, on the way there I drove over a part of highway where some truck must have spilled some red paint in the back and trailed a line of red behind it. For a minute or two I was pretty freaked out, but of course there wouldn't have been any real blood left after several days. Still, it was disturbing.

The other day the hospital called and said they were confused about the DNR request. They wanted to be sure they understood our intent, so I explained that if Jon were to have heart failure they should peform CPR, even use the paddles, but he did not want to be on a heart machine, nor breathe with a machine. I added that if his brain were deprived of oxygen for more than a very few minutes I knew the additional damage to the brain would mean there was then absolutely no hope Jon would ever be responsive again. The doctor said I was talking about "full code". After talking with him a bit I felt that maybe Lake Katrine had not been very "out front" with me about what kinds of DNR were available.

Lake Katrine called me a little while afterwards and said they had been contacted by the hospital and been told that we had wanted the DNR taken off Jon. I explained that I had been told that Jon's wishes were to be observed, that mere CPR was okay but heart-lung machines were out. She was upset with me and explained that there was either DNR or full code and nothing in between. I said this is not what I was told when we talked about this before and she got a bit huffy with me. She suggested she put a couple of doctors on the phone and we could talk about it some more...but she told me that the doctors had made their professional opinion known on the record and it wa in the best interest of the patient that he remain with a DNR. I knew what she was saying: as a father I had no rights. The doctors credentials would trump my desire to do what Jon had wanted. It was the day after I had been given my first epidural and I was a bit sick and woozy. I told her we would maybe have to talk about this later, that I needed to lie down.

I know now that it doesn't matter what Jon wanted, nor what I want. The doctors want Jon to die and clear out his bed for someone who has insurance and will pay his bills. Jon is on Medicare and his expenses are reimbursed at a fraction of the real costs. His life is impairing the ability of the place to pay for care for patients who might be helped and they have given up on Jon. They won't say this very often, but if you speak to them carefully and sound like you agree with this line of thought they do open up. They don't enjoy this pick and choose kind of medicine, but they do it every day. They try to heal those they think they can heal, and abandon those they think cannot be healed. The problem with this sort of thinking...aside from the Nazi-like results.... is that it is based on a paradigm. In this case the paradigm is that severely brain injured people never recover, especially after one year. This paradigm is not backed up by any real study of the people who are severely brain injured, but more on a sort of "gut feeling". In fact, many doctors I have spoken with at Lake Katrine have never actualy been in the same room as Jon, but they have looked at his paperwork and formed an opinion. Never mind that had they actually looked into his eyes while they spoke they would have seen a human being in pain and trying to handle his fate. Never mind that the nurses and aides who bathe Jon and dress Jon see that human in there. Bottom line is the bottom line. It's better for Jon to die so these doctors can heal others. Or not. In fact they may just go through the motions and go home, open a couple of bottles of wine and fall asleep in their favorite chair to the strains of some Italian opera.

Well, today we go through the motions of selecting a government. Never mind that in the history of the world, no facist state has ever voluntarily given up the seat of power. We go through the motions and hope we are wrong. The current regime has stated that they want to do away with the "welfare state" and given it's citizens the oportunity to invest in their own health care, to choose their doctors and not stand in line for care.

Jon has no choice, nor can he stand in line. His fate, should he live that long, is to die in a nursing home somewhere. My hope is that wherever they place him once they close down Medicare, is better than the hell he was in at the begining, where he lay in shit with open wounds, drenched in sweat and urine and gasping for breath while the nurse sat at the desk reading her novel. The fine republican governor of that fine compassionate state closd down several hospitals that were not making profits for the state and dispersed the patients out into that compassionate conservative world.

I voted. I never hoped, but I voted. They took my name and gave it a number so that when they count the votes they can compare the names and the votes and know who voted for whom. As far as I know the votes then go somewhere else to be counted elsewhere, or perhaps they simply shred the papers and mark in a book who is with the party and who is a troublemaker. I guess I'll go into the book of troublemakers.

Abu bin Adam, may his tribe increase
Awoke one night from a deep dream of peace
And saw within the moonlight of his room
Making it shine like a lily in bloom
An angel writing in a book of gold
Exceeding peace made bin Adam bold
And so unto the vision of the room he spoke
"What writest thou?" The angel closed his book
And then with a voice made of all sweet accord
Replied, "the names of those who love the Lord."
"And is mine one?" asked Abu. The angel shook his head.
Abu spoke more low, "I pray thee then, write me as one
Who loves his fellow man." The angel wrote and vanished.

There's more, but I forget the lines. I learned them many, many years ago when my sisters had to memorize it for school. The angel returns and shows Abu the names that the Lord has blest, and lo, bin Adam's name led all the rest! It's charming to note that it was considered better to love one's fellow man, even if one was not known to love the Lord. In fact, by loving one's fellow men, one loves the Lord.

Our President says he loves the Lord and by that he means, of course, the Christian God, the Silent Trickster who speaks in rhymes and riddles. It is clear that he has no love to spare for his "fellow men" because unless you are exceedingly rich, you are NOT his fellow men. His fellow men, his "base" as he calls them, are the millionaires who give him money and power. The power to kill hundreds of thousands of those who merely love their fellow men. Or those pitiful few who are sitting in wheelchairs, unable to vote or contribute to a political party. Those pitiful few who wait for the heart to slow and stop so that they may fly away, free at last.

The BIG THREE_OH Jon...... I'll bring a box of cupcakes for the nurses and I will slip a bit of frosting into your mouth. I know you like the flavor of chocolate. Last year you smiled so big when I did that for you.... It's not much, Jon, not much of a present, but it's all they will let me do for you. And it's the thought that counts, right? I think of you every day, son. I miss you all the time. Be well, sleep tight, dream dreams of pretty girls and bonfires and the sound of drums. Your daddy loves you.