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In Memoriam

Molly birthday1Our daughter Molly, at her 12th Birthday Party

Twenty six days before the accident

I’m so much better a man for having known her.

I LOVE YOU AND MISS YOU!

Twenty Years Ago, Today

(Truly, I cannot believe it’s been Twenty Years!)

There are things that are good to remember; things bad to remember; and things important to remember.

The crummy part of all this is sometimes my brain is not too good at discerning which is which, or what goes with what.

My character (being flawed and neurotic as it is) has a tendency to default to the bad.

A shrink, I’m certain, would say it’s all about low self esteem, negative messages from childhood, etc.  The reasons don’t matter.

Twenty years ago, today was the accident in which our daughter Molly was killed.

I was driving – this makes me ultimately responsible, as I was The Dad.  The Protector.  The fact the other driver ran the red light while speeding is of no consequence.

I carry a sidearm.  I’ve done so for 41 years.  Long before I even met Molly’s mother, I chose to do whatever I could to protect myself and my family and friends.  It’s a roll I haven’t taken lightly.

And I took my assignment as Protector even more seriously when I became a father.  It’s what father’s are supposed to do!

We were making a left turn from 44th Street, East onto Thomas Road.  A little after 1 PM.  Going to Monkey Wards after an earlier visit to Famous Footwear @ 20th St. and Camelback.  Saturday’s with 12 year old daughters meant shopping!  The signal didn’t have a left turn arrow back then.  It was just like in the movies – in the midst of completing the turn, I sensed something was wrong.  Based on the estimated speed of the other car, we were pushed across the intersection in about one-tenth of a second.

And many lives changed forever.

I’ve no memory regarding what happened next.  Nothing to recall on the witness stand months later.  I was told I regained consciousness enough to give my estranged wife’s phone number to the ambulance guy, when I was asked if there was anyone he could call.

I had early drugged hospital memories of being on board a ship(!)  Not enough consciousness to ask why I was on a ship.  Turned out, with one (now re-inflated) collapsed lung and the other half filled with fluid, County Hospital had me on a pneumatic bed which kept hissing and rolling, to keep fluids from settling in my damaged lungs.  Ribs pushed into a lung.  Broken collar bone.  Broken arm.   Tube up the nose, and IV morphine/ativan drip.

My sister, wife and friends were there, being supportive and keeping loving watch as much as they could.  Not wanting to answer the obvious question:  Where was Molly?

In my few awake moments, I remember asking about the funeral, desperately wanting to be well enough to attend.

My wife was told Sunday morning there had not been any brain activity, and had the courage to disconnect life support.  Had our roles been reversed, I don’t think I would have had the bravery.  I am forever grateful to her for this.  A number of folks benefited from her decision.

The funeral was that following Tuesday.  I was largely unconscious in ICU at County for another two weeks.

Thank God.

Ultimately, after being moved to Good Sam, being given Tylenol in lieu of the morphine/ativan drip (!) and weeks in the regular hospital and rehab, I was able to walk and breathe again.

I was deeply depressed and pretty much just counting the days.

Until I could pay my respects.

That came weeks later.

I’ll say it again, as long as I take breath  –  Tell your family and friends you love them, right now!

Because you may never get another chance.

AND be an organ donor.

I try to remember the good times.  The IMPORTANT ONES.  It’s what has kept me alive for the past twenty years.

My thanks to all of you, family and friends, for holding me up, until I could stand on my own.

(Commentary has been turned off – I know how you all feel.  Thanks, again.)

Life Is Loss, Part Two – A Lesson Learned

I posted a few days ago regarding losses – specifically the loss of my daughter, and a good friend’s loss of most of his lower left leg and foot.

Hardly an upbeat read.

However, Life is not just loss.  Life also gives us lessons!

Since I heard from my good friend Bob regarding his diabetic amputation surgery, I’ve tried to contact him.  We exchanged texts initially a couple of times, and he advise me he would call.

Nothing.

I feared the worst.

So, I took it upon myself to call him.  Not to incessantly badger him (thinking he was busy enough) but once a week, just to check-in on him and his condition.  And attitude.

And I ended up leaving messages.  And this concerned me.

Bob returned yesterday’s message last night.  I needn’t have been concerned.

Bob – (my former PI and gun store boss) was in great spirits!  YES, he did lose his left foot and about 12″ of lower leg.  And yes, he has a long, painful recovery and rehab ahead.

But he was not only doing physically well – he was doing well emotionally and spiritually, too!

Now, Bob would be the first to tell you he is not a religious guy.  And not the most spiritual.  But he almost lost his life to sepsis, and took his survival to mean he is supposed to remain here a while longer.

And not wallow in his losses.

He is fortunate to have the great support of his wife and two daughters.  And his brother.  And he reminded of previous losses and near-death experiences he has suffered.

AND HE SEES THIS AS YET ANOTHER CHANCE TO REDEEM HIMSELF!

Or, in the words of his parents (both deceased), “Put on your big boy panties and get on with it!”

And his is and has.

And, he reminded me (indirectly) that I have similar lessons.  I, too, have had losses, and near-death experiences.  And I have wallowed.  Or more specifically whined.

I might lose some benefits.  So what?  Big boy panties are available for the wearing.

Bob has set an example for me to try and emulate.

Starting now.

Life Is Loss

From the time we are very small, we believe Life is about acquiring things.  Food, warmth, love…stuff.  It’s when we are a little older we realize that Life, too, is about loss.

yin yangThe Yin to the Yang.

And, most of us don’t understand or like that.  In fact, most of us hate it!

And, it becomes a matter of degree.  That toy that broke (with which we didn’t play, anyway), gives way to the lost book.  The dog that died.  The high school girlfriend who moved away.

And we choose to suffer for our loss.

But, there is a larger picture, if we choose to see it.

If we didn’t lose ‘it’, we wouldn’t really appreciate it.

My dear friend Bob (of the many Bobs I know) texted me yesterday, to advise me that on Friday he had his left foot and about six inches of his left leg amputated.  He’s been diabetic for many years, and had already lost a toe.  Even though I lost the use of my right hip when I was 12, I still grieved for him.  I’m certain he has a long and arduous road ahead involving prosetheses, crutches, and much pain.

And grief over the loss of his foot.

Most of us don’t even think of our feet or legs, unless they are giving us difficulty.  A blister, a bunion, a corn.  Calluses.  For me, calluses are difficult, because grinding them off is problematic with a fused hip.  And, I too, am diabetic.

I still am fortunate enough to still have all my extremities, though.  You can bet my nightly cursory examination of said feet was more than cursory last night, though!

Molly 1986 2Today, is my daughter Molly’s 32nd birthday.  I spent most of her 12 years on this planet operating with the assumption that, as nature intends, she would outlive me, and would suffer with my passing.

I was wrong.  And I survive here to do the suffering.

I love you and miss you, Molly.  And sometimes grieve over you.

But, I also appreciate the time I had to know and love you.  I believe so much more than if we had continued in our parallel life paths.  Because of the yin and yang.

And I’ve my memories to keep.

Forever.

Go and hug and kiss those you love, and tell them.  Because you never know.

And, if you are diabetic, check your feet often.

Having Gratitude Isn’t Always Easy

I’m in whine mode.

(I know I said at the outset that I wouldn’t use this weblog for therapy, but, hell, it’s my blog, so here goes…)

Holidays suck.

Why?  Not only do I not have any funds to get neat presents for friends and family, but, I’ve no one with whom to share the non-materialistic parts of the holidays.  One terrific couple I know gifted me with a cool assortment of cheeses and beers (including Lindeman’s raspberry ale!), and all I could give them in response was a small bag of garlic goldfish.

Hardly an even trade.

I love my sister and her kids, and her kid’s kids dearly, but going to a family celebration alone with certain people in absentia is always painful.

Now it’s the downhill slide from the New Year, to Molly’s birthday, to the anniversary of the accident, in March.

We’re told the best way to get out of this kind of funk is to create a gratitude list.  So here goes…

I’ve a roof over my head, and a working car.  Thanks to my friends!  I’m on Medicare.  I’ve disability benefits, which, while in no way am I rich, I can buy food, gas, and pay rent.  I’ve a select group of friends, both locally and on the Internet, who help out whenever they can.  Many of these friends have gone above and beyond – for years – when I am unable to give back in kind.

This must mean something.

I’m disabling comments for this post.  Because, in lieu of giving me an Internet “there-there”, or a virtual hug (or a kick in the pants), please stop for a moment and create your own gratitude list.

It helps.

♫ FEE-LINGS! WHOA -O-O FEELINGS! ♫

I can’t find a single study from Bloomberg’s groups that aren’t loaded with errors. They have an anti-gun agenda and will lie to achieve it.  –  John R. Lott, Jr.
How Bloomberg’s Million-Dollar Desire For Gun Control Is Backfiring
[While I think there is a fair amount of lying going on they don’t think of it as lying. They just don’t understand facts are independent of their feelings. If they feel something then, in their view of reality, it is true. I’ve had people flat out tell me this. I would point out that what someone was saying was in direct contradiction to verifiable facts. And I would get a response of something to the effect, “Well, it’s true to them and that is what matters.”

There is also a very telling anecdote about liberal “research” in this same article:

In 2006 I was at a cocktail party in Arlington, VA, talking to a liberal journalist about his soon-to-be-released book on Iraq when John Lott joined us. John listened for a moment and then said to the author, “I’m curious. You say you just finished a book on the Iraq war. I always find it so hard to finish a book. I get so deep into the research I have a hard time stopping to write. I’m guessing you had a hard time leaving Iraq. There is so much to investigate and understand.”

The author said, “I didn’t go to Iraq.”

John paused with this quizzical look on his face before asking, “Oh, how did you do your research?”

The author said, “I didn’t have to do much. I mean, I already know what I think.”

Feelings versus facts. It’s a type of mental disorder.—Joe]

There’s a thesis in popular conservative/libertarian culture that liberals (or at least the current flavor of liberal, the progressive) act(s) based on feelings more than facts, even if the facts deny their feelings.  “Oh, those cute polar bears are dying in records numbers, due to global warming!” – even though recent data shows their populations have increased and so have the square footage of ice on which they live.  Not to mention they are extremely dangerous to humans, cuteness aside.  “If it just saves ONE life.”  or “It’s for the children.”, facts aside are other feeling-based statements.

I cannot speak for all conservative libertarians, but, I have on occasion questioned my use and ownership of firearms, looking at how doing so affects my community, my family and myself.  And I stuck to my principles.  And didn’t buckle to ‘feelings’ about some whack-job shooting up a school by disarming myself.

I did the same process after the accident that killed my daughter.  However, I ultimately didn’t give up my driver’s license, my vehicle, or insist others do the same “for the children”.

I see that as counterproductive, and unscientific.

h/t The View From North Central Idaho, John Lott

A Libertarian Conundrum

Or rather MY libertarian conundrum!

I’m generally a libertarian (small L), politically and philosophically.  Want to MAKE me do something as a function of government?  I don’t think so.  (conscript me, tax me w/o representation, ad infinitum).  Want to believe something different than me?  Sure – have at it!  Believe in Krishna or The Flying Spaghetti Monster, or nothing.  I don’t care.

Just don’t knock on my door demanding I believe as you, with or without the force of government behind you! 

I respect your right to think and act and believe differently, as long as you leave me to do the same.  Period.

Now comes the conundrum –

I tend to be isolationist.  If one tribe or political party in far off Boogaboogastan wants to kill another tribe or political party, it’s no skin off my nose.  As long as it doesn’t affect me.  Or the National interest. (whatever THAT is!)

BUT, what if I had this opinion (and had been alive) during WWII?  What if The United States did?  Would we all be speaking German or Japanese now?  (Those of us who are alive?)

In short, what is in keeping with libertarian principles, but allows us to have our National Security and Sovereignty and be able to look ourselves in the mirror?

Do our National Principles apply only to us?  And if not, to whom, and when?

ProudHillbilly posted on 09/11 about the numerous folks killed and injured because of their religion World-wide.

A partial sampling:

2014.08.31 Iraq Ramadi 37 38 Thirty-seven Iraqis are reduced to pulp by a Shahid suicide bomber.
2014.08.31 Yemen Shabwa 6 2 Two Shahid suicide bombers take out a half-dozen human beings.
2014.08.30 Afghanistan Jalalabad 6 33 A Shahid suicide bomber disassembles six other people.
2014.08.30 Nigeria Borno 14 215 Boko Haram militants spray machine-gun fire into villages while yelling praises to Allah. At least fourteen are killed.
2014.08.28 Thailand Pattani 1 2 Muslim terrorists murder a teacher with a bomb.

Should we have gone into Iraq initially?  I won’t debate that, because the fact is we did.  And we then left.

And hundreds thousands are paying for our having done so.

A libertarian tenet is WE ARE NOT THE WORLD’S POLICEMAN.  We cannot afford to be, and we are not going to make everyone believe as we do.

It would be great if we could just leave others alone to their own Destiny.  Or Hell.  Pick one.

Then look in the mirror the next morning.

Poor, Poor Pitiful Me

Yeah, it’s a song title, above.

Sometimes, I get down on myself, because I once had a wife, a daughter, a home, a ‘career’.

And now?

No wife, no daughter, no ‘career’ (I’m disabled).  I DO have share a home, though.

And that’s my point.

Living Freedom recently had a posting entitled

Poverty vs poverty: Seven traits of the successful poor

It mentioned traits of folks down-on-their-luck who, if they are not thriving, do more than just survive.

I could have been worse off than I am.  I lost my home as my income decreased, and a good friend took me in.

But, that’s not my point.

MY POINT IS I’M GRATEFUL FOR HER HAVING DONE SO!

Certainly, I wish things could be different.  It would be nice to have a wife, to have my daughter back.  To have my house back.  To have the income I once had.

But, not being a child, I know wishing doesn’t make it so.

So (most days) I choose GRATITUDE!

The Death Of Small Town TV With A Big Heart

Bill Thompson RIP

When my family moved to The Valley of The Sun (on the hottest day of the year in 1956),  I was 3 1/2 years old.  We had just missed Elvis’ June 9 concert at the Rodeo Grounds – something my then 12 year old sister bemoaned for years.

We had ONE black & white television, with an aerial on the roof.  There were FOUR television channels – NBC, CBS, ABC affiliates and the local channel, 5  (then KPHO).

KPHO had lots of schlocky TV of the period – mid-day movies to entertain the long-suffering housewives while they were doing laundry in the sweltering weather, game shows, and ONE show of particular interest to the children, like me.

IT’S WALLACE? was a spin-off of the earlier Gold Dust Charlie local kid’s show, starring Wallace Sneed (Bill Thompson).  He did vaudevillian schtick between running cartoons like Popeye and Bugs Bunny.  Soon, the college-kid cameraman (Ladimir Kwaitakowski) came to the front of the camera to act with Bill in skits and they performed topical humor for the kids between cartoons.

Eventually IT’S WALLACE became WALLACE & LADMO.  And a legendary television show was born.

You can have your BOZOs, UNCLE ALs and SOUPY SALES.  WALLACE & LADMO (in it’s various incarnations) was the longest-running children’s variety and cartoon show, from 1954 to 1989.

And Bill Thompson WALLACE was the head writer.  They mugged for charities, performed live shows on weekends, marched in parades and supported local police and fire departments, and hospitals.

And made us laugh.

In his private life (what little he had), Bill was a Civil War reenactor.

We lost Ladmo in 1994.

And they essentially gave their entire adult lives to entertaining children in Arizona.

You will be missed, Bill.  Hope you and Lad are yucking it up and getting the rest you both so richly deserve!  :-(

Bill Thompson, known as Wallace Snead from the "Wallace and Ladmo Show" has died. (Source: KPHO-TV)

A Reminder

courtesy of Stately McDaniel Manor

REMEMBER ERIK SCOTT?

Erik Scott

July 10, 2014, the fourth anniversary of the murder of West Point graduate Erik Scott by three panicky Las Vegas Metro police officers at the Summerlin Costco. For those that loved Scott, it’s an inexpressibly sad day. It’s also a sad day for those that love justice.

If you remember, know that the investigation by concerned citizens continues.

If you don’t, go to the link and read the background posts by Mike McDaniel.

And keep a good thought for the family.

"One morning I shot an elephant in my pajamas - how he got in my pajamas I dunno!" - Groucho Marx as Captain Spaulding in Animal Crackers

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It’s about who is at the tiller of this Republic’s Ship of State. - Guffaw

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The Four Rules

1. ALL GUNS ARE ALWAYS LOADED.

2. NEVER POINT YOUR MUZZLE AT SOMETHING YOU ARE NOT WILLING TO DESTROY.

3. KEEP YOUR FINGER OFF THE TRIGGER UNTIL YOUR SIGHTS ARE ON THE TARGET AND YOU ARE READY TO SHOOT.

4. KNOW YOUR TARGET AND WHAT'S BEYOND.

Certified EVIL!

FEAR

"I must not fear. Fear is the mind-killer. Fear is the little-death that brings total obliteration. I will face my fear. I will permit it to pass over me and through me. And when it has gone past I will turn the inner eye to see its path. Where the fear has gone there will be nothing. Only I will remain." - Bene Gesserit, from Frank Herbert's Dune

Penn Jillette

“F**k Civility. Hyperbole, passion, and metaphor are beautiful parts of rhetoric. The marketplace of ideas cannot be toned down for the insane.” - Penn Jillette

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In Loving Memory…

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