My brother in law Wally has left this world due to COVID. I think at this point everyone knows someone who’s been affected by COVID. Wally didn’t even have a chance with this fight. He had just begun another round of Chemo which had weakened his immune system. I don’t know all the details but it seemed it took him in less than a week.
When I have been asked about my brother in law I have always responded that “He’s A Good Man.” I don’t say that very often. Hell, I don’t know if I consider myself a good man? It was a given that he was a very intelligent man. You see he was a jet mechanic. It takes a man with a lot of knowledge to be able to keep up in that field. Luckily, he got to retire a few years back and he and my sister were able to live a life that I was envious of. First, they had the small cottage house on the lake where the family was invited to visit them often. It was a relaxing environment sitting on the porch watching the boats or Loons go by.
They took their retirement a little further and built their own house in Northern Wisconsin near the Upper Peninsula. It seemed to me in the middle of nowhere. They were on the river in the middle of the woods with the abundance of animal life around them including the occasional bear dropping by. I was happy for my sister and Wally, that they had this opportunity to enjoy their life together. For me, life has gotten in the way of my ability to join them up there even though I knew I had an open invitation.
There is an unspoken challenge us guys have and Wally was one of the winners of it. You see among us guys it’s kind of an obsession to see who’s going to die with the most toys. More importantly, though, is actually using those toys. Wally did get to play with his toys and he actually knew how to use all of them. I know he enjoyed himself. I never had to worry about my sister as I had a brother who knew how to take care of things. He was a good man.
Every day, I have a three-hour commute. It is divided up by two one and a half-hour time periods as I commute to Chicago every day. That’s 780 hours a year. Divide it by a forty-hour workweek that’s nineteen and a half work weeks. It seems like such a waste. I can hear many of you shouting at me, as to what I could do during this commute. I could listen to relaxing music. I could listen to books on tape or is it CDs or memory stick, who knows. Or I could quietly contemplate the wonders of the universe as I pass by the scenic wonders commuting from Chicago to Indiana.
Now that all sounds wonderful but, what I experience driving is worse than if I had stayed at work with all pressure it offers. Let’s start with, I kind of push the limit on speed or so I thought. The speed limit is 55 on most of the highways going to Chicago. I generally push that to 75 or more and try and stay with a group or shall I say a “pack of us” like-minded drivers with the mindset that the Po-Po can’t stop all of us. But lately more and more, I’m getting someone coming up behind me and they are going 80 miles an hour or more and they seem to think they can just push their way through the pack. The pack usually notices this and we generally close ranks because either this guy’s drunk or has a death wish. He’s flashing his lights, giving us the finger and trying to pass on the right. We usually make them go three lanes over to have a chance to pass us or wait until we get to an area that is patrolled by the Po-Po and hope they grab him.
Then there’s all the construction and the dreaded solid white lines. Hopefully, you all know the “Rules of the Road” no one is suppose cross a solid white line. You just don’t do it. Especially in a construction zone, to many bad things can happen. But every day, there is an idiot out there that I really don’t think ever learned the Rules of The Road.
Commuting is hell and maybe if I had a chauffeur I could relax and use my time more wisely.
As many of you know I am married and I love my wife. I usually try and speak to her two to three times during the day. She is handicapped, so I have to check on her. However, if I dare to call her as I get in the car to begin my commute home after a long day I have sealed my fate. Again let me preface this, I love my wife, but I do not need to talk to her for an hour and a half. If I do call her when I begin my trip home, the odds are against me that I will be locked into this call for the entire time. In forty-plus years of sales and marketing, I have never spoken to anyone that long. Not even when I made speeches before groups.
We have entered that period of life that many people come to. The “adjustment period” is what I call it. The kids have left and abandoned us. Her mother just passed away who lived with us. She doesn’t have a car and has two dogs to talk to all day long. I’d go crazy myself if I was in the wife’s shoes. What makes it even more difficult is she is a “Type A” personality. She is the energizer bunny and doesn’t quit despite all her handicaps. But with age comes limitations as to what we can do, versus what we use to be able to do. As I approach the possibility of retirement I think my adjustment will have to be less running with the pack and more bicycle or scooter commuting. I’d still like some excitement maybe a Big Wheel is more of my style?
Back in 2009 I spoke of this new weapon the armed forces wanted to use. Here is a link to the original post.
Apparently the powers that be put the weapon on the back burner. I think my observation that it’s hard to get people to stay in one place long enough to use it on them had them concerned. With all the demonstrations going on now they want to bring it out again. Here is the latest on it at the Washington Post:
I was right back then, and I think they will shelf it again. Maybe now they will take my suggestion seriously about downsizing it. Make it more portable. I’d buy one!
The call came in at 2:00 a.m. Charlotte had left this earthly plain. We left immediately to be with her until they took her away. For the last year or so we had supplied to Charlotte coloring books. Though she was having trouble identifying all the colors correctly because of her cataracts, she was an artist. In fact she was quite talented. After giving her written labels she could read the names of the colors she went crazy. She did shading, blending and color choices with her colored pencils that would more than bring these scenes to life. She had kept this talent hidden all her life. She focused on family and faith over her personal likes. Oh how I wish she could have expressed herself more.
Her father was a baker and she acquired those skills. Charlotte and my wife had a cake business on the North Shore in Chicago. Their business was quite successful and most of the private country clubs would only recommend them. Even Oprah’s producers would commission cakes from them for different events. They were also sculpting cakes into people, products and even buildings well before the “Cake Boss” came around.
So my friends if you have any artistic talent at all please share it, spread your spirit your joy to inspire others.
I had walked these hallways before. They seem like a mile long in different directions with bright fluorescent lighting, shiny vinyl flooring and handrails on both sides. In fact I have spent years volunteering in what I called this house of death. It’s been a few years since I was here but watching death come day after day can take a lot out of you. The tears that flowed for so many out of these eye’s had run dry. Now I was here to watch death take another family member of mine. I came to the room which was plain as can be, one single twin bed, two chairs, a dresser and hospital bed eating table.
As I sat down you could see the bright blue sky with small puffy clouds that make shapes and animals that you can recognize through the closed shade. For thirty eight years the woman who lay in front of me has been my mother in-law. Now less than 75 pounds, her arthritic bony fingers and skeletal body, barely resembled the women who put family first above all else. When I married my wife it really became an unusual arrangement. Charlotte, my mother in-law moved in with us and Charlotte’s mother “Grandma Claire” also joined us. No man had ever eaten as well as I had over these years. I joke they made me the man I am today as I proudly rub my what people would call a beer belly. But in my case it was definitely a culinary explosion in my belly as I am not a friend of beer or alcohol for that matter.
For years people have said to me that living with all these women I must have an unbelievable amount of patience. Truth be told, I have very little patience. I want to make things happen, I want results and it frustrates me when it doesn’t happen. In this particular instance I am impatient for death to come and take her. She’s in pain and has been for a while. I want nothing more than to relieve her of that pain. I know there are a number of friends and relatives waiting for her on the other side. You can’t be selfish at a time like this. The tears are flowing again and I can’t turn off the faucet. But this time I believe she is going straight to the light and into welcoming arms. Thank you Charlotte, thank you for being the woman that you are.