Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Meme - virginal, no more!

This is the first time I've been tagged with one of these things and because my Canadian bud "MedStudentWife" did the tagging I feel compelled to answer these questions. I think it might be fun too!

1. Name one person who made you laugh last night? Sounds narcissistic but it was me - you see, I own a mirror...

2. What were you doing at 0800? At 8:00 AM today I was pulling into the parking lot at the funeral home.

3. What were you doing 30 minutes ago? Reading blogs that I haven't been able to lately.

4. What happened to you in 2006? Lots happened in 2006, I suppose you mean the most remarkable thing? My wife and I took her 80 year old mother on her first cruise as a birthday present and had a ball!

5. What was the last thing you said out loud? 'night baby...


6. How many beverages did you have today? I'm not sure, maybe 8 or so

7. What color is your hairbrush? White with white bristles - Conair - literally over 20 years old!

8. What was the last thing you paid for? Dinner

9.Where were you last night? I got home from the office at about 8:30 and spent the rest of the night in.

10. What color is your front door? White

11. Where do you keep your change? In a large water bottle from a water cooler.


12. What’s the weather like today? It was cool this AM 50-ish and warmed into the 70's, sunny and clear.

13. What’s the best ice-cream flavor? My favorite is butter pecan

14. What excites you? hahaha - I'll never tell!

15. Do you want to cut your hair? I hate going to get my hair cut but once it's over with I love the aftermath!

16. Are you over the age of 25? uhhh, yeah, almost a couple of times 25

17. Do you talk a lot? I guess I'd have to say yes to that one

18. Do you watch the O.C.? Heard of it, not sure what it is, nope, 'fraid not.

19. Do you know anyone named Steven? yes

20. Do you make up your own words? No, I actually enjoy English

21. Are you a jealous person? I try my best not to be but sometimes I can't help it.

22. Name a friend whose name starts with the letter ‘A’ - I just met this guy named Adam, he seems cool but sometimes I wonder if he's not a phony.

23. Name a friend whose name starts with the letter ‘K’ Kathy

24. Who’s the first person on your received call list? Not entirely sure if you mean on my cell, but if so, it's my wife.

25. What does the last text message you received say? I can't be bothered with texting - I just delete them

26. Do you chew on your straw? no

27. Do you have curly hair? Hair? You mean on my head? What's left isn't curly but I do have curly hair elsewhere.

28. Where’s the next place you’re going to? Tomorrow I'm going to work.

29. Who’s the rudest person in your life? I was once called a rude son of a bitch by a stranger on the subway.

30. What was the last thing you ate? Kentucky Fried Chicken

31. Will you get married? Again?

32. What’s the best movie you’ve seen in the past 2 weeks? I'm an old movie freak so it's really hard to tell, 2 weeks is a long, long time

33. Is there anyone you like right now? uh huh

34. When was the last time you did the dishes? I think I may have turned the dishwasher on in 1994

35. Are you currently depressed? Naaaaah

36. Did you cry today? Nope

37. Why did you answer and post this? Because MSW tagged me and I wanted to.

38. Tag 5 people who would do this survey - give me some time to think on this one - OK?

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Make it go away!

Did you ever have one of those days when you wished you could go back to sleep, wake up later, and start all over again with a clean slate? Well, it's been like this for the past four days for me. The things that I have had to see and hear the past few days would make the strongest stomach, the coldest heart, the most rationalizing person just want to vomit, scream in anger, and just curl up in a ball and cry. I can't nor do I really want to go into details but just imagine rape, child molestation, murder and suicide all in one sentence. Makes my skin crawl to know that this can happen; but it can, it did, it's not over yet. I hope he has to somehow pay for this.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Not just for booing

The date October 31st usually conjures up thoughts of Pumpkins and kids trick or treating and witches and ghosts however to many people in this world today and in the past this day has and will always hold a "special" meaning. I was going to do something different but decided to post it on my "new" blog, Millions of Pennies, a much lighter blog, but this was appropriate for here, so.......

For instance:

On March 24th 1874, Ehrich Weiss was born in Budapest. Ehrich went on to become Harry Houdini, the "king of handcuffs" and died on October 31st 1926.

On October 31st, 1795, British poet, John Keats was born.

We all know Indira Gandhi, Prime Minister of India who was assassinated on October 31st, 1984.
After 14 years of work, on October 31st, 1941, the four presidential faces of Mt. Rushmore in the Black Hills of South Dakota were completed. Pictures do it no justice, the enormity of it is breathtaking.

Dan Rather, American television journalist was born on October 31st, 1931.

Born River Jude Bottoms on August 23rd, 1970, actor River Phoenix died on October 31st, 1993 outside of Los Angeles' famous Viper Room.

On October 31st, 1892, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle published "The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes".

On October 31st, 1961 in the Soviet Union, then Russia, Joseph Stalins body was removed from Lenins Mausoleum where it had been entombed.

One of Queens biggest hits, "Bohemian Rhapsody", was released on October 31st, 1975. (one of my personal favorites; shit I'm old!)

In 1864, October 31st to be exact, Nevada was admitted as the 36th U.S. State.

American Singer/Actress, Dale Evans was born on October 31st, 1912 and died in 2001.

Born in Rimini, Italy on January 20th, 1920, Italian film director, screenwriter and actor, Federico Fellini died on October 31st, 1993.

On October 31st, 1998, the Iraqi disarmament began.

A federal grand jury indicted Andrew Fastow, CFO of Enron Corporation on 78 counts of money laundering, fraud and the like on October 31st, 2002.

Vanilla Ice, American rap artist was born on October 31st, 1968.

These are just some of the many births, deaths and events that occurred on this spookiest of all spooky days. Some were tricks, some were treats and some just should never have happened. Have a Happy!!....................................DS

Friday, October 26, 2007

Have it your way...please

It's not just a place to mourn for the dearly departed who've left our sides forever. It's not an event to show how much you've thought of someone by displaying what you've lastly provided for that person who meant so much to you. Walking around with sad eyes, clutching a tissue, crying on the shoulder of the nearest person doesn't always cut it. I'm sure you remember my words, "death is very personal", "every funeral is personal", you may even be tired of hearing them, but my friends, it is and always will be.

When I heard that we had gotten the call, when I heard the name of the person who died, I immediately figured that this was going to be a lavish display, a BIG funeral in all senses of the word. This family's name is plastered all over the place; on grocery stores, on street signs, on boat dealerships, farms, cemeteries are named after them, entire communities bear their name. They are one of the most powerful and oldest families in the area and are involved in local government, commerce, as well as in churches.

Three people showed up to plan the funeral arrangements, a son and his wife and a daughter of the deceased; one son couldn't bear to be in attendance. I already had some things mapped out in my mind based on their stature and the fact that this hadn't been the first time that we had assisted this particular family. The content of our meeting was totally unexpected even though I fully know and understand the words I seem to often preach, "...........personal".

After introductions, condolences and hand shaking I escorted them to our arrangement office and offered them some coffee as I began idle conversation. I invited them to sit when out of the blue, very politely I might add, I was informed that they knew I was kind and compassionate, they knew, but there was no need to try to help them arrange anything; it had all been planned by their mother. Despite what had been done in the past or what will be done in the future, her plans were set.

Their mother had planned virtually every detail of her funeral and they were there to simply let me know what it was that I was to do. It was to be as simple as possible however needed to remain within certain guidelines. She did not want to have the body that she once lived in traipsed up and down the highway between funeral home, church and cemetery. She did not want to have that body looked upon, cried over, primped, made up or viewed by anyone at all. She had instructed two ministers exactly how she wanted her service to be played out, no mention of her, she simply felt that the gathering at her funeral service was the best time to hold a "captive" revival. She had selected the music she wanted as well as the artists. She had instructed her children that flowers were not an option, she loved and enjoyed them in life but saw no need for them to be at her funeral. She chose precisely where she wanted her body to be buried and also advised her children that no one was to be at the cemetery when she was buried. Money was obviously not the issue here, it was merely personal choice. I once met with a gypsy family and the arrangements were very similar in the respect that they knew exactly what they wanted; I liked this, I liked this a lot.

So, still trying to make it appear as if it was actually a funeral as opposed to a tent revival in the presence of a casket we tweaked it as best we could to fulfill all of her wishes. Her service was held at the funeral home and her un-embalmed body which had only been seen by the staff that brought her into our care and the people who placed her in her inexpensive casket was never viewed. There were three small floral pieces which had been sent before we could advise our local florists that "none were wanted" which eventually went to her grave. The music that night was beautiful. The service itself, although somewhat unexpected by many was overflowing and a success, especially after the ministers explained her wishes. The visitation that followed the service seemed to be more like a cocktail party sans the cocktails than the aftermath of a funeral with more laughter than I have ever seen at any funeral or visitation; our vast array of Kleenex boxes went untouched that evening.

The following day we took her to the cemetery and aside from the vault man, our grave diggers and myself there were four others there; the son and his wife and the daughter and her son. There was no tent, no chairs, no fake grass, just an open grave and a mound of soil next to it; just what she wanted.

Although odd sounding to some, perhaps most funeral directors, this has got to be one of the best funerals that I have ever been involved with. As simple as it was, this was a funeral that did it's job. This was a funeral that left everyone in attendance at peace and there wasn't the slightest bit of dread or fear. I liked that; I liked that a lot.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

If it doesn't kill could be worse

I don't remember experiencing a week like I've just had for several years. It seemed as though every time I turned around I was being told that someone else was in need of our services and it never ceased. Of course that's a good thing from a business standpoint but it can become quite tiring and exasperating. As of last night, things seemed to have finally calmed down so today I am taking some time for myself; to rest, relax, refuel.

I guess my week was a piece of cake in comparison to the week that some others across the globe have had so I'm not complaining at all. Right here in our country, almost the entire West Coast is ablaze, California to be exact. Anyone who has even one eye or one ear has heard of or read what's currently happening and I hope that everyone will eventually be safe after this is somehow under control. Even the smallest children are now aware that there are "Santa Anna" winds. These disasters that happen all over the world claim more than lives, cause more than death and this was made clearly evident to me just three days ago.

I was busy with paperwork when one of our employees came to tell me there was a man in our lobby who was looking to speak with a funeral director. Quite honestly at first I inwardly felt a small pang of dread because I had so much to do yet without hesitation I went up front to speak with him. He was a small man clad in a red plaid shirt, had on a khaki colored cap and was wearing crisp looking faded jeans; he was using a cane. His immediate question was "can you help me with my funeral?" and we began our conversation.

He told me that he had been living in Mississippi when he had earned the designation of "survivor". You see, he was a victim of hurricane Katrina, the first I had ever met. He lived there with whom I presume was his second wife ( an invalid who also had "Old Timer's") based on the fact that he kept referring to her children not theirs. A lot of what he told me I had to piece together because he was very difficult to understand, I at first assumed a stroke was responsible for his using the cane as well as his hampered ability to speak. He explained that his deceased wife had been younger than he and his decision to put everything in her name was a precautionary measure should she outlive him; he wanted it easy for her in her condition. Unbeknown to him, she had apparently taken similar precautionary measures.

He was initially going to weather the storm until he knew of it's intended landfall and magnitude and quickly decided against doing so. They had fled to their other home which was further inland when he realized that he had forgotten something. She had a certain doll that kept her calm and it was left behind. He had a neighbor sit with her and he went back to get it for her. This is the part I couldn't quite get exact because he really wasn't mentally there after it hit. He remembers walking from the house with the doll on his way to his car when he heard what sounded like roaring. He turned towards the noise and way up the road he saw what he said, as he held his hand way over his head, a wall of water headed towards him. He ran back into the house, locked the door and heard and felt the crash all around him. Water began gushing in everywhere and he was soon standing in his living room, chest deep in water, terrified. His next memory is waking up in a hospital.

Apparently he had somehow survived the water and was rescued but suffered some sort of damage that affected his speech and ability to walk; not the stroke I thought. Before he could get out of the hospital, get to his wife's side, attempt physical therapy, talk with insurers and make a decision where they were going to live he got the news that his wife had died. It was her son that broke the news to him in the hospital; he was a nicer boy than he had thought. He assured this gentleman not to worry about any of it, he was there to help him to sign papers, get him to and from her memorial service, was taking care of both properties and later visited him twice weekly at the rehab home he had gotten him into for the two months it took for him to recover.

Don't ask me how it was possible but he told me that when he finally did get out of the reab center he took a taxi to the flooded home; it was completely destroyed, ruined, not much left but an empty shell with half of the siding ripped off. He then went to the home where he had left his wife only to discover that the for sale sign in the front yard said "SOLD". Sold? My house isn't even for sale! He tried to call her son, his helper, his caretaker for the past two months, but the number he had was disconnected. He contacted an attorney only to eventually discover that all of the property and assets that he had put in her name many years ago were willed to her children who wasted no time in liquidating them all. He now had nothing, their joint bank accounts had been drained and even the insurance money was going to be going to her children. But the best is yet to come.

I asked him how and why he was in this area and that's when I found out that he did in fact have a daughter of his own who hadn't spoken to him in years after his divorce from her mother. He had no choice but to try to contact her and when he did she agreed to help him, she paid for him to get here. Once here however, he was told that he could live in the camper that was parked at the rear of her property, not in her house. He's eighty one years old and gets enough from the government to live and has nothing else; he begs to die daily.

It's stories like this that make me ever thankful to the powers that be that have allowed me to live the life I've led. A roof over my head each night that I can call mine, money enough to do what I'd like, food to always keep my belly full, a place where I can earn a living, a few bucks in the bank, and most importantly, the feeling of being wanted and loved. In the past I could never understand why someone wouldn't want to live when there was so much for us right here but I now see. If I were he and the tables were turned, I don't think I'd really want to go on either. Even though this mans situation could have arisen whether there was a hurricane or not, his life is still in disaster. As I said earlier, it is now very clearly evident to me that disasters come in many many forms and take more than lives, can cause more havoc than death and sometimes death is the easier of the many ways out......

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

The fright that steals

At sixty eight her beacon failed and sunshine turned to gloom
and like the rose caught in a storm
that day she lost her bloom

The flicker deep within her eyes just left as seconds passed
and when she drew that long slow breath
who knew it was her last

Gone from sight yet in your heart it lessens not the pain
that comes from losing one you love
my heart it bears her stain

She taught me how to live and laugh of that I'm ever sure
the hurt that comes from losing her
seems too hard to endure

Each day I wish I had her back to see her face once more
to see and lavish in her love
the love we shared before

If I could have just one more hour theres so much I would say
these things I should have said before
not waited for this day

So if or while you have the chance to tell someone who's here
make them aware of how you feel
don't listen to your fear

For if you allow your frightened self to lead you in this life
the day will dawn when fear becomes
a sharply pointed knife
by DS

Friday, October 19, 2007

Death of a Spamsman

This post was inspired by a blog post I read today as well as my spam folder. It's amazing that everywhere you turn around, someone is trying to get something from you; free of charge of course. This particular "gimmee" may seem like a little annoyance since we're all used to it but when you think about what's truly happening it's actually despicable.

I don't know about you, but I have a few different email accounts that I use for different things. Let's see, there's Yahoo, my ISP, G-Mail, and I'm sure I have others that I can't think of at this exact moment but I have to tell you, today has been a very lucky day for me!

In one account alone, I today have received notification that I have won the British National Lottery, not once, but twice! Once for 1,500,000 pounds and another for 1,000,000 pounds. Isn't that remarkable? But wait, that's not it!

I also received notice that this is my last chance to pick up the $500.00 Wal-Mart gift card that I have been awarded and on two other separate emails I have been awarded a $1,000.00 gift card for Macy's and a $500.00 gift card for Target! To top that all off, I received several emails telling me that I could buy really cheap Viagra (do they know I would want this?) as well as a terrific offer on how to, putting it politely, "enhance my manhood". I guess between that, the Viagra, the 2,500,000 pounds and the $2,000 in gift cards I could immediately become the perfect catch.

We all get crap like this, I know that. I know it's spam, you know it's spam, even my lame computer knows it's spam, so why do these emails keep showing up all over the place on a daily basis? I know it's all computerized mailings, I know it's all sent in massive bulk, but someone has to be getting something for these. Are there people out there who really answer this shit; people who are so gullible that they are pulled into sending someone or something their most important identifying information or at the very least falling for these ads? I can't imagine that anyone in this day of identity theft, computer fraud and false advertising could fall for such crap simply because it shows up in their mail. What I'd like to know is who the hell is benefiting from this because you know someone has to be. And, benefiting at the expense of someone else I might add!

Anyway, I decided not to accept the money, to let them have their gift cards, to hold off on the Viagra until absolutely necessary, to just keep what parts I have become accustomed to and just delete the whole mess...again. Seems a lot simpler to me for them to just stop sending this stuff...but I guess they're looking for that one fish to bite, that one unsuspecting, lonely person who still beleives in Santa Claus, the Loch Ness monster and getting something for nothing, that one needy person to take advantage of. Pricks.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Dream on...

In the past I've occasionally heard that when someone very close to you dies, your will to live can also die along with that person. I have to imagine that this is a common feeling yet I haven't seen too many cases where the will to live didn't eventually spring back, sometimes pretty rapidly as a matter of fact.

The following pair of people have this week caused me to ponder whether sickness or accidents along with murder or other natural and unnatural modes of death don't necessarilly have to be any of the causative factors for someone to leave this world. The events that took place might have simply been the culmination of life, but the circumstances surrounding these same events make them appear as if they were calculated.

Let me give you a little of the background as it was told to me. They were the last two children of six and aside from having the love of siblings, they had always been the best of friends as well; they were lucky. For ease of reading I'm going to name them Tony and Maria, brother and sister. Both had been married and had children of their own. Both of their spouses had previously died along with a couple of their children. He was 68 and she was 74 and both were in average health for their ages. Although Tony lived in his own home, Maria was living in an assisted care facility where she didn't have to worry about the day to day upkeep of a house. On a daily basis Tony would go to visit Maria and they would spend many hours together, he was the one person she relied on and looked forward to seeing every day. There was a time when Tony had been sick and Maria had someone take her to his house daily until he was well enough to begin his visits again; they were almost inseparable.

Last week Tony died. He had a heart attack in his sleep and it was Maria who summoned someone to go to his house to see if everything was alright when he didn't show. When the discovery was made, of course his children were contacted, Maria was told, and they then began arranging his funeral. It was at this time that Maria exclaimed that she no longer wanted to live; she had no reason, her life no longer had a purpose. Her family told her how much they needed her but she was insistant that they would be fine without her.

Over the next 8 days Marias appetite grew almost non existant and she seemed to be a bit disoriented at times. On the evening of day 8, she told her niece who was visiting that she was tired and wanted to go to sleep. She told her she was going to see Uncle Tony. Maria never woke up the next morning and it was her funeral that the family was now planning.

Can someones heart break to the point of no repair? Is it possible that we could have some control over when we choose to die or looking at it conversely, might there be some force within us that helps keep us going, preventing us from meeting death until we're absolutely ready for it? Of course it might have just been fate, her time, but we'll never know the answer to that. She may have, and thinking logically, probably would have died whether Tony was alive or not but if I entertain the romantic in me I could want to believe that her time of death was her choice. They were only brother and sister but had been there as friends for each other their entire lives, and when he was gone...she wanted to be with him again so badly that she chose to sacrifice herself, her life. If she did in fact have the option of when to die and chose this time, and this is picked further apart you could most likely see a needy almost greedy side to her. But just imagine for a moment, dream, that when true love, no matter what capacity, dies, we could have the ability to be in control of the choice of dieing with it or staying behind and suffering without it. Letting it go and continuing on with our life anew, or following it to the grave, our choice. I wonder how many of us would find that to be a hard choice to make?

Monday, October 15, 2007

Thanks Lady Banana!

Well guys, once again, the old deathsweep has been granted an award. This time it comes from as I once called her, "that yellow-skinned lady of the tropics", our very own Lady Banana. When I first saw what the award was I was a bit hesitant to pick it up but I figured, what the hell! I'm an advocate of non-conformity, so for at least the next day or two - I'm going to do my best to live up to this award. Wish me luck!
So it's pink big deal! So it's a bit girly, I'll survive! ( As long as it doesn't say AbFab or mention Edina or Patsy I'm cool with it!) Thank you Lady, you have a great blog and I really appreciate and am honored by your passing this to me.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Easy? NOT!

She was only 42, yes "only" 42. As a young child I thought that anyone in their forties was ancient; we probably all did and I'm sure the young set of today do as well. Today being an adult of 49 years of age I realize that 42 is young, especially when death is mentioned in the same sentence.
By her 42nd year, she was well educated, had a very upstanding career as well as being a single mother of a 4 year old son; her only child. No one could believe that this young woman who was alive and vibrant one day could be cold and lifeless the next, but she was.
This sad tale played out like this:
She was close to her parents, spoke with her mother on a daily basis and most days saw her for at least a few minutes. Her career was such that it kept her busy a lot of the time so her parents had become her childs part time parents as well. She was off from work the day that this all took place and her mother found it odd that she hadn't heard from her. Her mother had called her house only to get her answering machine and just waited for her to call her back. Hours and hours passed without a return call but her mother knew that this was not uncommon. On her days off she tried to accomplish as much as she could although they usually spoke prior to the errands which often lasted most of any given day.
At around 7:00 that evening, her mother called again and when she received no answer both parents decided to take a ride over to her house to see if perhaps something was wrong, after all with a 4 year old son she was usually home by that time. When they pulled into her driveway, the house was dark but her father was able to peek into the garage and see that her car was there. It was at this time that they decided to ring the bell despite the blackened windows; still no response. Even though they had permission to use the key that had been given them they of course hesitated thinking that they might be intruding, perhaps walking in on something they should not be privy to but something didn't feel right. Her mail and newspaper were both on the porch.
Upon entering the house and turning on a light they noticed her purse on the kitchen table and her shoes where she always flicked them off just inside the door. They called her name, got no response and continued on through the house; something felt terribly wrong about this. They weren't happy to be "snooping" around their daughters home but needed to know that their daughter and grandchild were safe and continued calling their names as they went from room to room.
As they approached her bedroom, through the open door they could see a lump at the end of her bed and as they crossed the threshold the lump came to life; it was their grandson. He immediately uttered "sssshhhhh, mommas sleeping". His frightened grandmother went to the top of the bed and lightly put her hand on her daughters forehead to feel if she perhaps had a fever and might be ill. It was in that instant that she realized that her daughter would never be sick again, never be the same again; nothing would be.
In a whirlwind, the child was taken from the house, police called, coroner contacted, autopsy ordered and she was taken away. This had to be like a horrible nightmare. How could this be happening they all thought? Why was this happening? No one could immediately answer the millions of questions that were now running through her parents and families minds.
As it turned out the first findings showed that she had been dead since at least the night before. It appeared as if she had gone to sleep and never woke again. Her son had awaken that morning to find his mother asleep and knew not to bother her. All day long he had spent a vigil in her room at the foot of her bed waiting for her to waken not knowing that she would never get out of bed on her own accord ever again.
I met this child the first time I visited the families home and could immediately see that he was a very intelligent boy yet had no idea of the brevity of the situation. He knew that momma was gone, was told that she had died and gone to heaven to help god, but I doubt that his young mind really knew what the word forever meant.
The funeral was a tough one, the tears and wails were heart wrenching, the pain that these people were experiencing was all too evident. When her casket was finally laid over the grave that would house it for as long as it remained whole, and the minister had finished his final words, the family, one by one, placed a single rose on top of it and went straight to their cars. The little boy was carried and along with his rose he placed a picture that he had drawn for his momma on the casket yet he wanted to take her home and began sobbing and heaving. When it was her parents turn her mother could barely walk to the casket and would not leave when she got there. After much consoling and coaxing from her husband, she eventually limped away sobbing, was helped into her car and they then all drove away.
All in all there were so many losses that day that some fail to perceive. Not only was a young womans life lost but two parents child was lost, a sister was lost, a friend to many was lost, a vibrant part of the community was lost and above all a childs mother and innocence were lost; for a short moment, I, a virtual stranger also felt lost.

Friday, October 12, 2007

Blame No One

You've tried to blame the world and me
for all the hurt you've felt
You tried to say it was our fault
for cards that you were dealt
How could we be the ones who caused
the pain you hold so dear
What makes you think we are so cruel
to trap you in your fear
We've tried so hard to make you smile
to help you to forget
Those times when you have been so blue
and terribly upset
Who told you it would just be fun
this life it is no game
Why not just call a spade a spade
not some strange made up name
You're not the only one that aches
from deep within your soul
There are so many others that
have never reached their goal
So many men have come and gone
without accepting life
And chose to take the hardest way
and filled their lives with strife
So when upon each morn you wake
and wonder why you must
Remember all the joy you've skipped
and how you've often fussed
This was your choice you can't deny
you've led the life you made
You were the one who ran the tab
and now it must be paid

by - DS

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

You Can't Keep A Good Weed Down

For those of you who have read my writing before you know that I have a mind that is often like that carnival game of chance that we've all heard of; round and round he goes, where he stops nobody knows. That's how my brain operates at times. I can't help but think the things I do. I wake up with certain thoughts in my brain and have no choice but to ponder them, so, I put my conclusions down in writing for all to read and hopefully think about too. Remember "The Carolina Rose"? Remember "Should man become Corn"? Well, today I woke up thinking about weeds; those pests in the gardens of our lives that seem so insignificant and bothersome, so out of place that we usually want them out of our sight.
At the beginning of this summer this strange plant started growing in the middle of one of the beds in our front yard amid all of the intentional plantings; right next to the "named", "famed", plants that we had chosen to put in our lives. I had no clue what it was nor did I have any idea where it came from; at first it appeared to be an invader of the space we had created for our own satisfaction and definitely seemed out of place yet something about it made me leave it be.
I wasn't alone in my thoughts that this "weed" somehow didn't belong there. I can't tell you how many times I was asked and then told that I needed to pull the thing up by it's roots because it was not one of the chosen. It was after all, simply a weed. It was an obnoxious little insignificant piece of growth that didn't know it's place. It hadn't been selected by us to be a part of the backdrop that framed our property. It was not nursery grown, it had not been cultivated, it had no history of being anything special, it was not known to be beautiful at all; and on top of it all it was infringing on our selected garden. But I still left it alone.
Today, that plant that I considered a weed is now one of the most beautiful plants in my yard. It has been allowed to grow on it's own and has blossomed into a thing of beauty; totally unexpected, perhaps totally by chance, but it was given the opportunity and it proved itself to be worthy. Man needs to do this more often, give opportunities, give the benefit of the doubt. Not necessarily to plants but to other people, the bothersome appearing people who seem out of place. The insignificant little guy who tries to plod along doing what his life deems him to do, the man, or woman who doesn't have a great track record, the non-historic person who isn't a descendant from the first settlers, the person who cannot compare themselves to the stately Oak or Elm whose stature is envied, the weeds of humanity so to speak.
I can say all of this because I know I was born a weed and I dare to say that many of those who read this were also born weeds as well; not all but many. No matter where we stand today, throughout our lives we have all had people who felt they were better than us who also felt we didn't belong. People who've tried to extinguish the very part of us that makes us who we are yet like the weed, you can crush us but we always manage to bounce back. I'm far from stately but I'm still alive and I'll continue to flourish as long as I'm allowed; if given the opportunity, the chance, I will blossom, I will show the rest of the world that I do in fact belong in this garden, we all do and all can. And for those who will never be able to see the beauty in everyone, I feel sorry; for they have no clue what they're missing out on.
So, to all of you who've read all of this, you now know that I'm a weed and I can recover from any one's attempt to stop me and am damned proud of it! I'm also proud of my fellow men and women who are in the same boat; my fellow weeds. My fellow survivors of life....round and round we go, where we stop...............................who knows?

Sunday, October 7, 2007

Never too old to learn from the young...

This post is a compilation of my words and the words of a special woman, my niece. I have known all of her life what a beautiful loving person she is inside and out. She has always held a unique place in my heart; and always will.
When she was born I was in my early twenties and I can almost say that we sort of grew up together. It may sound silly but she was the first child that I "grew with" as an adult. I know she unknowingly taught me a lot and I can only hope that some of what I had to offer taught her a tiny bit as well. She's a teacher, she's brilliant, she's sweet, she can be shy yet lights a room, you have seen her comment on my blog before and I'm always glad to see her little ":0)" as she signs her comments. She's one of my "loved ones".
About 2 months into my blogging she was made aware of my writings and began reading them and has since given me the privilege of reading some of her words as well. The other day she sent me the following diary entry of hers and with her permission I'd like to share it with you. I want her to know how proud I am of her and also to tell her I love her; I don't think I've ever told her those words. I want her to know.
Cold hands, warm heart.....
[Favorites Only Entry]
Tuesday, September 25, 2007

The title here has nothing at all important to do with the entry. Recently, I have been privileged to read my uncle's blog, as we grow older it is interesting to see the lives our family members lead under our noses everyday. As children, we hadn't much thought about where they work, or what sort of person they might be, we just knew how they felt about us and that was all that mattered. But reading, as a "grown up" there are so many parts of his life I was unable to imagine but now see more clearly. It has given me a new admiration for his profession and for his own compassion. As I said, growing up teaches us to see the people we were raised with in a new light.

I suppose this is true of all our family members - at some point they drop their superhero or heroine capes and become human. It's a humbling moment when you see your parents or elders as flawed, as vulnerable. I can remember being an adult and seeing my father cry, honestly crying without abandon or concern for who saw him. All at once I was struck with this odd sense of helplessness and I wondered if he had felt that way each time he saw me cry. I wondered are parents crippled at times by the inability to "make it all better" for their children? It was eye opening and terrifying all at once.

There have been moments too when I was younger that I was clouded by anger over a loved one's decision but looking back on it all now, I may not agree with their choices but I see their reasoning. Perhaps it was fear or pride or some other human trapping, often times I discover it was love and I am again humbled. So where does all this deep thought bring me on a Tuesday morning and how does the title above relate?

Well the title first, is a t-shirt I have with a little penguin that someone picked for me. They said somehow it reminded them of me and it got me thinking. How does the world see us all? Are they impressed with us, do they admire us, can they see all those flaws and do they love us despite them. It's interesting, I doubt we ever truly know how others see us... it would be enlightening I am sure.

Back to my uncle once more and his profession; he is in the business of helping people who have lost a loved one. I come back to this as I write an entry like this one, or my birthday entry where I am thankful for the people who shaped my life that year. Is once or twice a year enough though,certainly not, we all let it slip by too easily. We forget to tell people who mean the most to us just how we feel about them. It's ironic, we often let those in our life who we dislike know our most intimate and angered feelings about them, we're quick to point out our honest opinion of them. But when do we ever say with as much raw emotion "I love you" as we do "I hate you"? How often do we write a letter of Thank You instead of complaint? In the little moments do we notice the jobs undone or the failures of the day or do we acknowledge the successes. Do we hold the people around us up to superhuman standards?

So, I pose the question to some of you - my readers, who know me at best as a friend, at most simple as another anonymous writer: Think about it for just a moment, reflect on it. How do you see me? How do you see your family? your friends? Shouldn't you tell them?

Thank you, my loved one - love, Uncle Louie

Friday, October 5, 2007

Robbing the Dead

I can't believe this could actually happen in today's so called civilized world!

Yes, there are crooks and swindlers in every industry, but if the allegations that are being made are true these people should be hung.....simple as that, hung.

Funeral Directors carry a HUGE responsibility with the job that they do. They are supposed to be ethical, moral, forthright individuals who care for the deceased bodies that they are entrusted with, not just for their families. These are the bodies of mothers, fathers, children....PEOPLE! No one has the right to use a deceased body for their benefit or gain; period.

MSNBC broke a story about a "ring" of 3 funeral directors, a former dentist who ran an organ harvesting corporation, and a former nurse who ran the harvesting crew of that corporation who were all dealing in body parts. This was not your typical donation of organs, this was stealing from the dead to line their pockets; stealing dignity. According to the article there was no authorization of any kind which allowed them to remove any parts of these bodies, nor was there any respect given to the deceased bodies prior to or after their filthy deeds. Not only were they stealing from the dead but they were also distributing tainted body parts, bone, skin and tissue for public use (see full story). This is sick.

Apparently, there were 3 funeral directors from Philadelphia who over the course of time have sold 244 bodies for about $1,000 each to a New York businessman (businessman, my ass!) who resold these often diseased body parts. This businessman (see full story) is already facing charges in New York for doing the same thing with an additional 833 bodies some years ago!

The claim states that the funeral directors forged death certificates stating that the deceased persons had died of heart attacks or blunt trauma death but were otherwise healthy. One of these bodies turned out to be HIV positive, had hepatitis C and a form of cancer. They supposedly lowered the "donors" ages and changed their dates of death to make it appear as if the parts were fresher.

Nothing could make me sicker than this story. I had hoped to hell it wasn't true but several have already plead guilty so my hope of that is dashed.

This is not the fault of the funeral industry and certainly not mine nor a reflection of the majority of the members of this profession. I must however try to express my condolences and apologies to the families that have been brutalized by these pieces of crap that pose as professionals and have the unmitigated gall to call themselves human beings.

Thursday, October 4, 2007

525,600 minutes

I saw RENT on Broadway some years ago and again saw it on TV the other night. I remember those days, I remember those friends, I remember the time when all that mattered was "that minute", the times before the Deathsweeping began.


525,600 minutes, 525,000 moments so dear. 525,600 minutes - how do you measure,
measure a year? In daylights, in sunsets, in midnights, in cups of coffee. In
inches, in miles, in laughter, in strife. In 525,600 minutes - how do you
measure a year in the life?
How about love? How about love? How about love? Measure in love. Seasons of


525,600 minutes! 525,000 journeys to plan. 525,600 minutes - how can you measure
the life of a woman or man?


In truths that she learned, or in times that he cried. In bridges he burned, or
the way that she died.


It’s time now to sing out, tho the story never ends let's celebrate remember a year in the life of friends. Remember
the love! Remember the love! Remember
the love! Measure in love. Seasons of love! Seasons of love.

I remember.......DS

Wednesday, October 3, 2007


It doesn't matter what kind of job you've had, what kind of things you've acquired, how much excitement you think you've had or didn't have nor what you leave behind for that matter......because when push comes to shove....when the blood stops flowing....when the brain stops firing it's electicity....when the undertaker presses that final it states above....
"All men are cremated equal".

Tuesday, October 2, 2007


I'm told that the translation of the word "Tutu" from Hawaiian to English is grandmother. She was a young grandmother, in her mid fifties, was divorced from her only husband and had two daughters. One of the daughters was in her twenties and the other, who had two of her own daughters, looked to be in her mid thirties.

She wasn't always called Tutu; that was a name that she had picked up when she was in Hawaii with her family on her last vacation which had been two years ago when they were all living in another world. It was her last vacation because upon their arrival home she visited her doctor only to be diagnosed with cancer and began an extremely rigorous defense. She was too young for this, she still had too much of her life ahead of her and she wasn't going to let this thing beat her, this cancer, this cancer that eventually took her from this world.

For the past two years she fought like a bandit undergoing every kind of treatment available, trying desperately to live a normal, healthy looking and feeling life. When she started the Chemo it wasn't too bad. In the beginning she had everyone fooled because the treatments seemed to be working and her appearance showed almost no change; she had no intention of telling anyone until she could tell them she was a survivor.

In her eyes, she was a survivor for two years; she was still alive always hoping and praying that this disease that had a hold of her would somehow, someday, release her from it's grip; but not in the way it did. Questions had been raised but it wasn't until the seventh month after she had been diagnosed that her family finally confronted her and asked her what was going on because it was becoming apparent that something terrible was happening in her life. At that point she felt she no longer had the choice to hide her illness or to try to shelter her family; she told them every detail.

For the next seventeen months life was literally all down hill for her. She would be fine one day and terrible the next and this cycle just seemed to continue over and over, week after week, month after month, slowly debilitating her. Six months ago she was told that there was nothing more that could be tried, nothing else that even had a glimmer of helping. These were the hardest and easiest six months of the past two years for her.

She knew her life would soon be over, that was hard, she knew she would never get to see her grandchildren grow up, that was harder; the easy part was that she no longer had to take the medications that made her constantly sick, queasy, the easy part was that at any given time she was ready to let go, ready to say her final goodbye to those she loved. She was tired. Her children found nothing easy in this at all. They were happy that her new medications were allowing her to feel no pain but they were still so sad that she was slipping away right in front of them and there wasn't a thing that they could do to keep her from going.

At her funeral, she barely even resembled the woman in the photo that we placed at the head of her casket. The picture was of "Tutu", the Tutu from two years prior, the Tutu that hadn't been ravaged yet. Her family was so proud of her. They loved her deeply. They told me that since she was finally free they wanted to release balloons at her grave side to represent this new found freedom. That day five helium balloons were released in her honor.

I have to tell you that what sounds like a trite little ritual of letting go of a balloon was actually beautiful. The funeral was late in the afternoon, the sun wasn't setting yet but was low, there was a cool breeze and we were burying her on her families farm. After the minister concluded the service at the grave, both of the daughters, both granddaughters and their daddy each stepped out from under the tent and simultaneously "let go". The balloons slowly rose, together, free, effortless, huddled in what looked like a group and continued to float up and up until they were eventually out of sight, all eyes watching the entire time.

"Letting go" isn't that simple, I know that. I realize that this is just symbolic, and some may feel it was all a show while others might still think it entirely foolish but to the seven year old, the youngest of the five who asked her mother if Tutu was flying free like the balloon on her way to was well worth the symbolic, foolish, show.