Saturday, August 13, 2005

Well, it's been an interesting couple of weeks. My sister in law died last Friday after struggling with the damage that smoking can do. She was in about the same shape as Dad: trashed heart, broken lungs, mind starting to drift away... Nice lady, but she never tried to save her own life by not smoking. dad had it thrust on him when they opened his chest and rebuilt his heart a couple of times. My sister in law kept smoking while she was dragging a tank of oxygen around. Her son in law helped out by giving her ciggies. Now he's yelling about sueing the hospital and I find it hard to believe he's concerned about his mother in law so much as how much money the lawyer says he'll get. He has no concept that bankrupting a good hospital might be bad for the community. Sometimes I think he had planned this all along, feeding her habit and getting things set up for a lawsuit when she passed. Obviously I don't think highly about the guy. He likes to come up for holidays and smoke dope in the bathroom with the shower goins. Then after they leave I have to wash all the towels and scrub the walls so we don't smell like a 1967 VW van.

I was reading some stuff that John Edwards put up in his effort to run for President next times. It's so sad. All the old lines, all the old slogans... "we can do it"..." now more than ever..." all bullshit. He doesn't have a thought about changing the system, he just wants to be head of it. Maybe that's what's wrong with American politics. People can become head of something and have power and wealth. Maybe if it cost money to remain in power, like you had to pay 80% of your net worth to the Treasury Department, live in the poorest neighborhoods and your kids had to serve in the military... maybe then the only people who would run for the White House would be those people who really want to make positive changes for the poorest of us all.

Well sometime in the next few hours they will lower the casket into the earth and return the mortal remains to the Immortal Earth. Since her illness was caused by chemicals in the brain it would seem to me that she is now sane, or as sane as a mind can get. Curious concept, sanity. Few would argue that the BTK slayer was insane because he caused so many deaths, yet our Secretary of War is responsible for tens of thousands of deaths and few would call him insane. People will pray over the casket today and speak of God and rewards and so forth, yet in the long run maybe the idea of a reward for having lived any kind of a life misses the point of mortality. Maybe mortality is a reward for the hardship of being immortal, like a dip in a cool pond during a heat wave, especially if the heat wave never stops. It's easy to be smart and creative if you are immortal and omnipotent. Struggling with a body and a finite length of time and still managing to be smart, talented or just mostly sane takes a lot out of you. Obviously that jerk in Kansas didn't have what it took and that jerk in Washington doesn't have what it took. Yet my poor sister-in-law managed, even with mental illness tugging at her mind day and night, to be mostly sane, mostly caring, even motherly. Trapped in a ghetto most of her life with few ways out, she raised a daughter who became a mother. She had her pride and a certain dignity by meeting life's hardships with her head held high. When her heart finally stopped and her tattered lungs stopped working she could say she had done it all, pretty much. Her sisters have cried for her, her daughter and grand daughter will miss her terribly. I will remember her smiles and her little voice, always thankful for a kindness and always thinking of ways to be kind to others. She gave bad gifts with an open heart and appreciated any kind of gift or act of kindness in return. The last time I saw her she was in bed with a little smile on her face, waving goodbye to me, her teddy bear nearby. I'm gonna miss her, but not the confusion and turmoil she brought with her. Family memories, old wounds, old times.... she brought them with her for the holidays, along with her daughter and her son-in-law. Still, those problems were minor and soon forgotten. In their place we have the photos of her holding the baby, smiling at the hope of the next generation. There's a whole lot of folks out there who have given the world far less of themselves and with less goodwill.
When it happens to me it will be easier on those I leave behind, I hope. No caskets, no flowers or deadlines to meet. Hand out the parts, let the blind see, let those who need kidneys or marrow, or whatever I'm done with and haven't trashed take what they need and burn the rest. Scatter the ashes or work into a nice ash glaze and put me on a pot and then on holidays you can stick some flowers in that pot and tell me how good I look. Why not? If I was a pothead when I lived, let me be a pot in death. Wouldn't it be interesting if the person seeing with my corneas someday saw the person who is seeing with Larry's corneas? Would we recognize one another? "Something in the eyes..."

Be good to yourself while you yet live
Give of yourself while you can yet give
Life is a song with chorus and rhyme
We sing to the stars in 8 bar time
And once we are done we pour us a beer
Chug it on down and "Another round over here!"
No hangover, no headache, no embarassing gaffes
Just a beer over here and a belly of laughs

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