Sin Management

She was three, maybe closer to four years old at the time. She spewed the words at me with all the vehemence a child that age can muster. “I Hate You! I Hate You!” I don’t remember what was the exact cause of her outburst, but I’ll never forget the scene. Naturally, I was stunned, pierced to the heart and momentarily dumbstruck!Mandy1978

My firstborn daughter, the precious child I loved, had rejected me. Her words were unexpected and devastating to me, her mom-in-training. How could anything so vile have come from the mouth of this sweet, sunshiny little lady?! I can’t recall exactly how I handled the situation. I think I may have walked away, retreating to some other area of the house to nurse my wounded ego.

Eventually, though, as I reflected on the incident, I realized several things. First of all, her declaration of hate was a normal occurrence for children her age. Second, I recognized she had no real understanding what hate actually is. Third, I had my first thunderbolt realization that parenting children is never intended to be a popularity contest. Whether she hated me or not, I was responsible to parent her properly and sometimes that meant I’d prevent her from doing something she wanted to do.

The next time she uttered those words, I responded by telling her, “I don’t care if you hate me or not. You’re going to mind me anyway.” And that was that. Whatever power she thought she had over me became ineffective and she had to resort to other childlike methods to cow me. (As I became a more savvy parent, she found her wiles less and less effective.)

Continue reading “Sin Management”

A Hole In The World

Fifty-one years. That’s how long they were married before the wife died late last year. In the months since, he’s struggled, attempting to understand his place in this world. His adult children have wrapped their arms around him and included him in every aspect of their lives so he’s rarely at a loss for something to do … but he’s lonely. Female friends have invited him out – dinner, dancing, movies and he’s gone a time or two, but then the realization overpowers him … even in the company of others, he suffers from loneliness.

FROM:  http://tiny.cc/5wbulx
FROM: http://tiny.cc/5wbulx

For this man (whom I met today), his struggle with loneliness is complicated because his wife was housebound and eventually bedridden for several years with him as her sole caretaker. The routine he’d adopted created a familiar pattern and meaning for his world. However, as he’s navigated the last ten months, the loss of pattern thrusts him into meaninglessness. Whatever efforts he’d made to care for his wife during her illness, he did so for her benefit. Today, like a rudderless boat, his striving seems without clear direction. When he was telling us about his present pain, tears came to his eyes and the rest of us sharing lunch with him were deeply moved by his obvious suffering.

Sometimes the world simply doesn’t make sense. We can live with someone for fifty years or more and their habits and actions can be endearing (at certain times) as well as exasperating (at other times) but their absence – especially the suffocating separation of death – is so jarring, it causes a wrenching amputation unlike anything else we’re ever likely to experience!

Continue reading “A Hole In The World”

Hungry Heart

Within the last couple weeks, my Beloved and I have learned about friends (long married) who have divorced. Each time news of this sort reaches us, we tend to react as we would to a death. It’s painful and wrenching … and we’re not even the ones who are experiencing it firsthand! But make no mistake, like ripples on a pond, the effect is still profound.BROKEN

Long ago, I learned one never knows what goes on in relationships. People who appear to have splendid relationships when they’re in public may be fighting like the proverbial cats and dogs when they’re behind closed doors. Who would know, unless they accidentally broke cover at one social situation or another?

When you love both people, once a confirmed married couple, it’s hard to know how to react. Of course, you wish them well … you hope they find a measure of solace in the midst of difficulties … you grieve for their children. (I mentioned some of this in yesterday’s post.) And truthfully, you wouldn’t really want to know the sordid details, whether their conflicts built up over decades or only in recent months, what made them decide to call it quits. It’s awkward though, the next in-person meeting … is communicating your sympathy appropriate? Or maybe you just avoid possible meetings simply because you don’t know what to say or how to act? Continue reading “Hungry Heart”

Osteenification

FROM:  http://tiny.cc/7boqlx
FROM: http://tiny.cc/7boqlx

Today is the seventeenth anniversary of Mother Teresa’s death. Though she was an Albanian by birth, this diminutive woman lived most of her life in India serving the poorest of the poor. She began her life as a Catholic missionary at age 18 and devoted the rest of her 87 years to mission work, living among those for whom she cared.

Even though I’m a non-Catholic, I’ve respected the dedication of Mother Teresa whose sacrificial service was significant. I found her especially endearing when (in 1994 at the National Prayer Breakfast in Washington DC) she spoke before a crowd of more than 3,000 attendees and boldly advocated on behalf of the unborn.

One quote must suffice here because the speech is lengthy, but in part, she told her audience:   “… the greatest destroyer of peace today is abortion … if we accept that a mother can kill even her own child, how can we tell other people not to kill one another?”

Notwithstanding her status as a Nobel Prize winner (1979), she was widely criticized for her decision to speak so fearlessly about her deeply-held convictions. Among the dignitaries on the dais as she spoke were President and Mrs. Clinton as well as Vice President Al Gore.

Standing before powerful people didn’t dissuade this woman from speaking the truth as she understood it. Continue reading “Osteenification”

An Officer And A Son

My older son is a police officer. Soon to celebrate his 35th birthday, he’s served proudly over the last decade with our local police department. He is pleased to be a member of an excellent department where officers are expected to excel at the highest levels. He and his fellow officers are conscientious and dedicated. OfficerAdamOnMotorcycle

Over the last week, I’ve read numerous disparaging remarks (either on Twitter or Facebook or in the blogosphere) and viewed news reports where the broad brush of hatred paints all policemen as pigs. These descriptions don’t comport with what I know to be true.

I’ve already posted my initial reaction to the situation in Ferguson MO. As this situation continues to receive additional sensational coverage from news outlets far and wide, the disturbing aspects become harder to dismiss. Before I revisit the matter, though, I think it’s important to emphasize all the facts are not yet known to the public. As with any situation of this serious nature, facts should trump rumors. Discovering what happened ‒ in toto ‒ is the only acceptable path.

At the same time, facts are subject to interpretation. In this case, we already know several facts including the fact (based on clear security camera images) that Mr. Brown accosted and intimidated a store clerk, and then proceeded to leave the store with merchandise for which he hadn’t paid. Frankly, I don’t think it’s a stretch to conclude from this one security camera image-capture that Mr. Brown was a garden-variety thug who, given his large (300 pounds) and menacing presence, was capable of (and willing to use) physical intimidation. Continue reading “An Officer And A Son”

Goodbye, Peter Pan

Suicide is never noble!

Let me repeat. Suicide. Is. Never. Noble. Never, ever, ever, ever, ever!

"Robin Williams 2011a (2)" by Eva Rinaldi → Flickr: Robin Williams - →This file has been extracted from another image: File:Robin Williams 2011a.jpg.. Licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 via Wikimedia Commons - http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Robin_Williams_2011a_(2).jpg#mediaviewer/File:Robin_Williams_2011a_(2).jpg
FROM: http://tiny.cc/xehikx

The individual may be a supposedly devout Muslim and ardent follower of the radical Al-Qaeda who is perversely motivated by the promise of 72 virgins for dying a so-called martyr’s death.

Or the individual may be a celebrated comic, actor and all-around good guy as Robin Williams appears to have been.

Whatever the person’s status, religious conviction or seemingly hopeless conditions might be, not one of these reasons (in my view) justifies self-murder. And I say it again for emphasis:  No death by suicide should be considered a noble act … ever!

Am I being harsh? I don’t think so. I’ve posted about suicide before (here, here, here, among others). My thoughts on the subject should be clear to anyone who reads those posts. Most people who know me would probably agree I’m compassionate and have a deep well of empathy. But I’m also acutely pragmatic. Continue reading “Goodbye, Peter Pan”

In The Rearview Mirror

After a week at Summer Camp, it’s not unusual for Campers to feel exhausted from their adventures but also, some Campers may feel let down as daily life resumes its normal pace. Empty the suitcases, do mountains of laundry and arrange photos in albums to preserve the precious memories! Is the adventure really over??!luggage

Though I’m glad to have completed my “Summer Camp” week and to be back home, I often feel melancholy as I drive away from my mom’s home. Given her upcoming birthday and the march of advanced years, it’s difficult to ignore the niggling inner voice that reminds me this could be the last time I see her this side of Eternity.

If you’ve already suffered the loss of parents, please understand I’m only halfway there. Considering how my mom embodies my “other self” in so many ways, I can’t begin to comprehend what a huge loss her passing will mean for me! I know this:  every minute we spend together now is more precious than gold. Continue reading “In The Rearview Mirror”

Help to Live

From the first time I heard the euphemistic term Death with Dignity, I thought it surely had to be a joke. This laughable term describes one’s desire to ease into death, much as one might slip into bed one night … and never wake again. hypodermicThe principle adherents of the death-with-dignity mentality are usually individuals who’ve received a terminal diagnosis. Some supporters are hoping to avoid the high costs of dying while others hope to minimize the pain associated with extended illnesses or others just prefer to pull the trigger (so to speak) at a time of their choosing. 

I’ve always argued the notion of death with dignity is absurd. First and foremost, we’ve all been given a terminal diagnosis; the day each of us was born, we were born with the exact same destiny: death. Is that harsh? Regrettably, it’s true. Continue reading “Help to Live”

Bridge To Nowhere

It’s almost impossible for me to comprehend the insane grief a family experiences when one of their members suddenly dies. When that death comes through suicide or homicide, the agony is no doubt compounded many times over. (Thankfully, sudden deaths have been rare in my family.) Two stories from today’s news provide a glimpse into bewildering family tragedies that might have been prevented.

AP Photo/Eric Risberg
AP Photo/Eric Risberg

Most people who ordinarily pay attention to the news are aware of the decision today to move forward on a $76 million funding package to wrap the magnificent Golden Gate Bridge in a suicide prevention net. Hoping to stanch the bleeding (figuratively) − after some 1600 people have leapt to their deaths since the bridge opened more than 75 years ago − the people of San Francisco believe a wide net will dissuade further suicides. While the work won’t be completed until 2018, proponents of the barrier believe people will stop jumping.

As with almost any issue, there are opponents of the project who argue the barrier will detract from the beauty of this amazing structure. One commenter noted this is “spend[ing] money on forcing people to be alive.” Another observes “A safety net … won’t prevent someone from taking too many pills or stepping in front of a train.” Indeed, a barrier on the Golden Gate Bridge-way won’t eliminate all suicides.

I mentioned two stories from today’s news. The second involves a 22-month-old toddler who died after being left buckled into his car seat for seven or eight hours while his daddy worked. (The toddler’s death actually occurred last week.) The child’s father has been charged with murder but people who know this family have expressed their incredulity that the father has been blamed for the toddler’s death. (The facts, of course, have yet to be adjudicated, and the man should be presumed innocent.) Continue reading “Bridge To Nowhere”

That’s The Way It Is

It might surprise some folks that the inimitable Walter Cronkite once hosted a Saturday morning television series. Having transitioned from its beginning as a radio series during the late 1940s, the CBS television series ran from 1953 to 1957. Weekly broadcasts centered around historical events illustrated with dramatic re-enactments. The show was titled You Are There and was broadcast for just over five seasons.YouAreThere

The show usually began with a voiceover from Cronkite and once he had set the scene, eerie music played and another voice spoke (from within an echo-chamber) YOU ARE THERE. (A sample YouTube video provides the spine-tingling effect.)

Today, I’ve been thinking about an historic event based on the You Are There concept. I invite you to “view” it with me.

The setting is feast time and a group of people have come together to enjoy this time of annual celebration. The host sits at a prominent place with his friends surrounding him. Food has been served and everyone’s relaxing around the table, interacting, laughing, enjoying their food and drink. As hosts are wont to do, this one eventually speaks up and at the sound of his voice, the others perk an ear to listen. He tells them how much he’s looked forward to having this meal … celebrating this feast … with them. Continue reading “That’s The Way It Is”