Thursday, December 31, 2009
Sunday, December 27, 2009
In the Post "John and Kate" world, I think our culture has lost a piece of our collective soul by valuing such idiocy as relevant. I think we should be more concerned with improving the lives of those in our immediate community than following the lives of such starved for attention media whores like John and Kate and the balloon boys' parents.
We have truly become an ADD (Attention Deficit Disorder) culture, we are unable to pay attention to the things we should for more than 5 seconds, before becoming distracted by news that some famous person was a) arrested, b) cheating on their spouse, c) trying to adopt a kid from a foreign country, or d) running for elected office, despite having nothing more than a pretty face.
Is it the End of the year, the end of civilization, or both?
What is really bothering me is that last Monday one of my relatives, Kenneth Casey died. We were both born at St. Elizabeth's Hospital in Brighton Massachusetts, just outside of Boston. We were born eleven days apart, and like me, he just turned 48.
Last summer he was diagnosed with an inoperable Esophageal cancer. He went through the whole schedule of radiation treatments, and when he returned to the doctor in September, they told him he had a month left. In November they told him two weeks. He was in Hospice for the last month, and on Morphine during that time as well. He had slipped into a coma over the last weekend, and God in his mercy did not bring him out.
I didn't find out Kenneth was sick until my Uncle called me to tell me that he died, and make me aware of the service to be held on Saturday January ninth.
Kenneth Casey died at home with his daughter and grandchild nearby. Nothing makes you more aware of your mortality than the death of a family member close to your own age. He was the youngest of eleven children and the first of them to die.
I wept for him Tuesday night as I digested the news. Lately I have found reason to cry regularly. I find myself tearing up at the sight of military families as they stand beside the casket of their loved returning from overseas a final time. I cried as the vet gave Ethel an injection that ended her misery after a stroke.
I also cringe in anger as ideologues in government bicker over semantics as millions of Americans can't afford to both eat or pay for medicine that would improve the quality of their life or lengthen it. That doesn't make me cry, but it makes me angry.
It is absolutely mind boggling to me that I can take my terminally ill pet to a vet and end her misery. Yet for some reason a human being enduring horrific pain and near lethal levels of morphine to manage that pain is not allowed to ask for the same humane treatment. When we do it for a family pet, it is humane, but when we ask for it concerning a beloved family member, it is considered murder. Thank God that we are allowed to file DNR (Do Not Resuscitate) orders.
For the life of me, I can't understand why some ideologues insist on inflicting their religious beliefs on everybody else. One of the base tenets of all known religions is Mercy. Many of the so called great preachers of our time love to cite MERCY when it suits their purpose. Maybe in 2010 they will discover a new use for MERCY, but I doubt it. They have squandered their soul decrying the virtue less lives of those on reality TV, instead of addressing the real needs of those suffering in the real world.
Tuesday, December 22, 2009
Wednesday, December 16, 2009
This year I finished a novel. Not 75%, n0t 90%, but 100%. I wrote it from start to finish over seven months. I based it on the outline I wrote seven years ago when my dog Fred died. This past Saturday Ethel joined him. In a way, I guess it symbolizes the cycle of life. I finished a book based on Fred, I have started one about Rags, the dog that preceded him, and now I wrote a brief history of Ethel to work from later.
I am happy that I had three such faithful furry friends around me, during my many good and bad times. I still have Lucy and Sally, and God willing, there will be more in the future.
But there is one distant memory I recalled, that in my all recent sorrow, managed to make me smile.
When I was growing up we had all kinds of animals around our home, not just cats and dogs, but rabbits, ducks, hamsters, and even a tortoise. And like all living things, eventually they would die, and my Dad would inter them in our personal family pet cemetery at the rear of our yard. In doing so, we would say an Our Father, a few words about our late pet, and then bow our heads. Dad would always close things up by telling the same old joke about an old Irishman and his dog. Dad would always change the name of the dog to the same as that of the pet we were burying, I think it was his way of reaching out to comfort whoever was mourning.
The joke went like this:
There was an old Irishman who had a faithful dog that went with him wherever he went. One day the dog died, and the Irishman wanted to give him a proper burial, so he went down the road to the nearest church, which happened to be Protestant. He walked up to the pastor and asked if he would have a service in memory of the dog, and let him bury the dog on the church's hallowed ground. "Lord, no," replied the pastor sternly. "We can't go burying a dog in the cemetery with people."
Disappointed, the old Irishman thanked him for his time, and went down the road to the next church, which happened to be Baptist.
Once again, the pastor was adamant there as well, that burying a dog in a cemetery with people just wasn't done.
So the Irishman went back on the road and continued along until he came to the local Catholic church.
From the Priest he got more of the same. "We just don't bury dogs in our cemetery," the priest shook his head sadly. "It isn't proper."
The old Irishman took a step back, and with a tear in his eye, bowed his head. "I would have thought there would be one church willing to bury my dog for $500 dollars."
The Priest's attitude immediately changed, and he let out a hearty laugh. "By God man, of course you can bury your dog here! Why didn't you tell me the dog was Catholic!"
Monday, December 14, 2009
Saturday, December 12, 2009
On the left is Fred, and on the right is Ethel. My wife and I could not have been more blessed than to have the companionship of these two dogs in our lives.
Fred lived 16 years, I had his pain ended on May 9, 2002.
Ethel made Fred's last 4 years as his health gradually failed easier for all of us to cope with.
She didn't just rescue Fred, she rescued my wife and I as well.
We think she suffered a stroke last night as we were awakened by her crying around 3 AM. She was unable to get up and walk, her back legs kept falling out from under her and she kept falling down. My wife and I spent the early morning hours discussing options, but knowing in our hearts what we would eventually have to do.
My Wife had always promised Ethel she would not let her suffer and keep her alive for livings sake. As dawn came Ethel could not raise her head. She wouldn't eat or take any water, but the most important thing to us was she did not wag her tail. When we looked into her eyes, we could see that the dog we had loved for so long was not there anymore. She moaned, whimpered, and continually shuddered. She did not return our gaze, instead, she seemed to be distracted as if staring off into space.
I rose early and went out after 7 AM and started digging. I made the hole between our statues of the Blessed Virgin and St. Anthony. It is right outside our picture window and the Morning sun shines brightly down on it and a Rosebush behind it. I called the Vet at 8 AM as soon as they opened, and explained the situation. They said to come at 9:15 AM. The Doctor who saw her was the same one who she has been seeing all her life. My Wife had to carry her into the Vet. The doctor calmly confirmed our observations, and my wife did me proud.
She followed through on her promise to her friend. She did not let her suffer.
We were back home by 9:45, and my wife spent a few minutes alone with her at my car's hatch/trunk wrapping her up in old blankets. When she was ready I carried Ethel to the rear of the yard and gently put her in her final resting place. We put two of her favorite balls in with her. It took me more than an hour to dig that hole, but less than ten to fill it in.
I cried the entire time, and I can't help crying now. It may sound ridiculous, but I was not going to leave her body at the Vet's office to be cremated along with a half dozen others. She was not just another dog, she was Ethel, and an Angel of God in her own way. This was her home, and she helped us make it a happy one. This is where she belongs, and she belongs here always.
Seven and a half years ago when Fred died, I wrote his story. Tonight I will write Ethel's. It is the least I can do for a Angel that didn't have wings, but had plenty of soft fur, and a very wet and sloppy tongue.
Thursday, December 10, 2009
I am not ready for it, but I have one in my wallet.
So another year has passed, and my downward march continues into oblivion. But there is hope!
Guess what my daily Horoscope in the paper says today?
Check this out:
If December 10 is your Birthday - Between now and mid-February, you might feel like that battery bunny that just keeps going and going. You possess initiative and business savvy, so you can make your fondest dreams come true. January is especially suitable for launching new business projects or working your way up the ladder of success. In May and June you may have the same urges to compete but could be misled and deluded into thinking you can win when the cards are stacked against you.
We believe what we want to believe, but more importantly, we always have hope. We always have a choice in the direction we take our lives. I don't plan my life around what I read in a horoscope. I hope most people don't but I understand there are some people that do.
Growing older is not something to fear. Getting an AARP card is not a statement about how far over the hill we are. It is more a statement of how far we have come, not har far we don't have left to go. And who is to say we don't have farther to go than we already have?