Death is Like the Flying of a Great Plane

I rarely post other people’s work, but today I had the pleasure of doing a reading at my buddy’s funeral.

The piece is absolutely mind-boggling in that it is simple, yet loaded with meaning. I had to read it several times before I understood it fully. Time takes a toll on an aged mind.

Death is like the flying of a great plane.

by Anon Ymous

As the plane prepared to depart,

friends and loved ones call out

tearful goodbyes, waving

and throwing kisses.

And, at the exact moment

they are saying, “Look there he goes!”

another group of family and

loved ones takes up the glad shout.

“Look here he comes!”

As he lands into a new city –

the city of God – that is more beautiful

than can be imagined.

He knows immediately

that he is truly home.

The 2011 Monet Vision. Is This Heaven?

Boyz Nite Out

This story begins in 2002 when I attended the wake of a neighbor and fellow garden club member. At the time, I was president of the club. I agreed to lead at a meeting formed to disband the thirty something old organization. I was newly retired and gardening was on my list of goals for my special time. Barbara nearly fell out of her chair when she heard me agree to do it. Later she asked me why I volunteered when I was trying to avoid stress and be free to travel, and do retired things.  “After thirty-five years at my job, this little club will be a fun project.”

At Dorothy’s  wake I expressed my condolences to her husband Bob whom I had met casually on garden walks. A year later, we met him again. This time he came to Barbara’s wake to express his condolences to me. I told him we have to stick together because now we are brothers of a kind.

The garden club people took care of me after Barb died. Bob joined and began coming to meetings. He and I bonded and we became friends. More time passed before Bob told me about his “group.” He met every Tuesday for supper with carefully selected friends. Each was in a manufacturing  business, and a widower. They met after work to share a meal and talk technical things about making stuff. Bob felt that since I spent my career making stuff that I would fit in and give new experiences to the conversation. The group had one rule: no one was to speak of the dying process their wives experienced.

After meeting Bill, Bob M. and Herman, I learned that one was not really a widower. Bill was captain of a seven-forty-seven airliner during his career, his wife a hostess. She still worked and spent a lot of time away from home, thus “he was a widower when she was flying.”

The men of the Boyz were all of retirement age, but most still worked daily in their businesses.My friend Bob was seventy-five, Herman was eighty-six, Bob M around sixty-six, Captain Bill, the pilot, was seventy-four, and I logged in at a baby-faced sixty-six.

Bob, and I spent a lot of time together, usually at the club for dinner, or on shopping excursions to Home Depot. I remember the two of us staring at a wall filled with a display of forty toilet seats pondering the differences and discussing how “in the good old days” a toilet seat was not a decorator item. It is a functional thing, and when you moved into a new house, you expected the toilet seat to be there fifty years later in good working order. I asked Bob to be my best man when Peggy and I married.

A year after our wedding, Bob had a stroke;  he was eighty. His son moved him to Portland to care for him where he lived another four years.

Captain Bill assumed the leadership role of the Boyz. He chose the restaurants, and made the calls. Some of the original members dropped out. Herman at ninety-four had trouble driving, Bob M. paired up with a lady, Captain Bill opened the group to new faces. The Boyz expanded to include a PhD scientist, a cousin, a brother-in-law, a self-made millionaire industrialist, a retired Air Force Colonel: we dropped the widow rule. Bill made Tuesday evenings an event as it had been under Bob’s leadership. Captain Bill kept Bob’s legacy secure.

Our discussion centered around sports, politics, cars, work, events. On some days there were as many as seven of crowded around the table, and the discussions were many. Captain Bill began another new tradition. He suggested we invite our ladies for special events like Christmas. Girlz night with the Boyz became a favorite. Before long, the Boyz and Girlz began visiting each other’s homes. The meeting of widowers killing their lonely times of grief had evolved into a first order social group of good friends enjoying life.

A year ago, Captain Bill reported to us about a health concern. We always discussed health concerns when they came up. He didn’t think it was serious and found early during a regular routine blood test. Captain Bill pushed forward with treatment thinking very positively about his outcome. He began a series of chemo treatments which in a large percentage of cases hammers the condition into remission. His chemo treatments continued. Our meetings suffered a bit during this time, as Captain Bill did not always feel well enough to make the calls and pick the restaurant. Often he ordered a meal and never ate it, rather, he had it boxed for “later.”

Sadly, today, I will attend the wake of this fine man I call Captain Bill.

Thanks Bill for entering my life and becoming a friend. Because of you my life became better.

I Lost, I Miss, I Will, I Must

A Canada Goose flying at Burnaby Lake Regional...

Image via Wikipedia

Today is the first day of the rest of my life.

Sometime during this past summer I lost the drive, the will, the dreams, the fantasies of living. I must recover all of it. How? With hard work, and relentless determination. With endless lists of goals, to do’s, and dreams. If I don’t, I’ll just fade away and melt into the couch while playing solitaire and listening to reality shows.

I miss the walks while shuffling my feet through piles of crinkly leaves. I miss the sights, sounds, and scents of the fresh cool air of autumn. I miss the unscheduled jaunts through the countryside burning gas, just to visit places I’ve seen so many times before. I miss driving a hundred miles to Jasper-Pulaski to spy on the Sand Hill Cranes in migration, or to the Horicon Marsh to wonder at the amazing Canada geese congregating by the thousands in preparation for their long journey south. I miss the colors of trees changing before their winter sleep. I miss hiking the horse trails of Palos. I miss writing about experiences that so affect my psyche.

I will begin the rebirth by making a list of all the things I miss so much. I will schedule regular early morning walks during the sun rise. I will pray. I will meditate. I will refresh my mind with novels. I will talk with friends. I will work my lists, and flood my mind with positive affirmations. I will chronicle the transformation.

I will. No, I must succeed, or I am Freddie the Leaf gone to fade into the earth.

No God But Allah-Dollar Bill

I received a message today from a very good friend. There are two ways to interpret this anecdote:

  1. If the photo below is a photo-shopped hoax, it is cruel and shameful. The perpetrator is denigrating Islam and inciting terrorism. (I happen to believe this is real)
  2. If the photo and the accompanying story is true, it is scary as hell. The person who defaced the dollar bill has no respect for the United States. The problem is that he has First Amendment rights to say what he pleases. He is, however, defacing United States currency, and breaking Federal law. He must be arrested and prosecuted to the full extent of the law. You be the judge, is it real or is it a hoax?

If this is truly a Muslim attempt to Islamasize us then we should take matters into our own hands and put the guy down. He is at war with the USA. Why should we take him out? Because our pansy ass President would not understand the seriousness of this attempt to destroy our country. He is too busy doing it by himself.


Here is the message in its entirety.

A lady in Monte Vista, CO had this dollar bill. This is her story. 
You don’t think we’re in a war???


These are starting to show up around our country! 
After dinner she took a $1 dollar bill out of her purse and displayed it on the table. 
Underneath the words “In God We Trust” someone had stamped the dollar bill in red ink—NO GOD BUT ALLAH. 
We asked her where she had gotten this dollar bill. She said it was part of her change in Alamosa, CO. 
We took a picture of her dollar bill. If anyone tries to give you one of these dollar bills as change, please refuse it and ask them to give you a dollar bill that has not been defaced.

Send this on to everyone you know, please.
God bless our USA!


Names are removed to protect the innocent.

Another Shovel Full Of Sh…ope

Pass this bill now!

When a sales rep calls on me, and pushes me to buy his product he sometimes uses a tactic of saying “this offer is only good today.” If ever there is a phrase that will end the sales call that is it. President Obama made his American Jobs Plan address before both houses of Congress on Thursday. He used a similar tactic to express the urgency of implementing his new and wonderful plan. One news clip I saw on the day after, documented the President saying, “pass this jobs bill” seventeen times in about forty minutes. My math works that out to once every two point three minutes. Frankly, I tuned him out after the first one.

Why the big sense of urgency? Joblessness no longer needs verification. The jobless rate has danced around nine percent for more than two years, and the President has promised on many occasions that jobs will be his highest priority, that is after golf, parties, travel, and fund-raising. Why did he delay introduction of this big plan until after Labor Day? The answer might be that Labor Day is the traditional opening day of political campaigns. Could it be that the real answer is that the President is now beginning a campaign to save his own job?

Here are five points covered in the American Jobs Plan.

  1. Cut Payroll taxes. This one is good. If people have more money in their pockets they will spend more. If they spend it on goods and services and not save it, the increase in sales may cause manufacturers to increase production. Increases in production may need more workers, provided the factories producing the product are in the USA, and not in China.
  2. Transportation Infrastructure. He made it sound like our Interstate system is a disaster. I can tell you that it is not. It is the best system of roads in the world. True, there are rough sections that need repair, but whole roads do not need replacement. He compared us to the Chinese who are spending money to build a complete Interstate system modeled after the USA. The roads are overkill in a country that still uses bicycles and motorcycles as its primary mode of travel. They are about fifty percent complete. The error of Obama’s logic is that only a small percentage of Chinese own cars. I question the need for a massive rebuild program for Interstates at home. What does Uncle use the gas-tax money for? Every time Congress put a new tax on gasoline it was under the guise of maintaining roads. Americans pay $68,346,000.00 Federal tax on gasoline yearly.  What does Uncle do with all that money?
  3. School Infrastructure. Obama wants to spend $25,000,000,000.00(billion) on school infrastructure. This one really gets me. I’m sure if we were to trade in the Department of Education Budget ($90,000,000,000.00 in 2007) for new school buildings we would not need additional money.  School Districts are responsible for maintaining and replacing buildings. We pay big-time taxes for schools. Most of the money goes to support union salaries and benefits (Obama wants another $35 billion to protect teachers). If School Boards were tougher, school buildings would be in good condition, and if local politicians would not crumble under pressure from parents, Teacher Unions would not be pirating State coffers for more. Most of the crummy school buildings are in Democrat controlled cities like Chicago where unions and graft comes before kids.  If memory serves me right, I heard the same rhetoric during the President’s speech to sell the first Stimulus. If he were serious then, these buildings would be completed and paid for by now. Where did the Shovel Ready Stimulus money go?
  4. Get Veterans Hired. A noble idea. Businesses need more business in order to hire more people. How do they do that? Fine, there will be pressure from the Feds to hire vets, another noble idea, but it just displaces one out of work person for another.
  5. Tax Credit for Hiring Long-Term Unemployed. Isn’t this at odds with hiring Veterans?

Nice try President Obama, but “pass this jobs bill” sounded a lot like an offer that is only good if I buy today. Hit the road buddy; sell the snake oil to your socialist friends.