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.
I guess some people might say I had a death wish with the way I have let myself go. I’ve talked about my Coca Cola addiction for years but I haven’t let it go. I’ve cut it down from 8-10 cokes a day to maybe one every other day or so. My weight has crept up steadily for years. In fact for the last 18 years being tied to a desk and becoming sedentary in my daily life has helped further that issue. As they say if you don’t use it you lose it. My legs at one time were “strong as bull” now they just about fall apart carrying the load. So what happens, two blood clots in the leg and multiple embolisms (5) in my lungs. Anyone of them could kill me. I was lucky they were very small and the doctor said I was a lucky SOB as if they were any bigger I would be dead or in the operating room right now. My thyroid is also off, which has prevented me from losing weight and has other impacts on my health. Arthritis has also come into my life and has made itself home in my knees, hips and my C4 vertebrae where it is pressing on several nerves and or blood vessels making me dizzy in the head.
Weight issues have always been an issue with my siblings and myself. I believe my father passed that lovely gene down to us. Our mother has fared well in the gene department regarding weight. So my dear sisters and friends (Todd) apparently we have been in a race to see who can get to the grave the soonest. I do plan on losing this race. I hope you join me in this attempt to stop the race. Apparently it starts with one step at a time in the opposite direction. A moving target is harder to hit. I guess I will have to let my Apple Watch yell at me every so many minutes to get up and move (I was tired of that). I’ve gotten a head start, 14 lbs. down so far in the last two weeks on the lovely cardiac diet. This meat and potatoes guy has actually eaten some vegetables and salad. But let Mom know I will still not eat those cold yellow wax beans with the cream sauce.
To me, Mark has always been kind of a free spirit. As a young man he displayed this free spirit by having an old square box post office truck with a mattress in the back as his main transportation. Not the typical vehicle that a teenager would have to impress the ladies or for that matter be very inconspicuous to the local police. He then liked to ride his 1300cc Kawasaki motorcycle down the Edens Expressway in Chicago going 100 miles and hour in the rain and probably without a helmet.
He loved sailing and was on a boat as often as he could. One summer he even sailed a boat all the way down the Mississippi into the gulf and over to the Florida Keys. He loved his adventures. I’m told now, that that they are restricting access to the Galapgos Islands as many of the huge turtles and many other species of plant and animal life are going extinct. Mark was lucky to spend time there with his father and experience the formidable population that many people may never get to see.
Mark’s father, Walter was a corporate attorney and was a bit challenged in raising Mark and decided Mark needed to have some hard work, so he sent him off the mountains of Columbia in South America to build a fish hatchery for a good friend that lived there. It was probably the perfect adventure for him. Learning how to avoid the drug lords, the revolutionaries and the animal life that could kill you was something he adapted to well.
He came back to Chicago and then went into construction, working on building high rise office buildings downtown. Being a laborer down in the pits of mud wasn’t the kind of adventure he needed though despite the money that was good. It gave him the ability to learn about wines and what the difference was between a couple of hundred dollar bottle of nectar and a cheap bottle of wine. If he could of, his next adventure would of been creating a vineyard.
The direction his life took next was unexpected. He began his life in North Carolina. He got married had two kids, which were his most proud events in his life. But as life goes on, you deal with twists and turns you don’t expect. Marriages don’t always last and children grow up to begin their own lives. Mark’s dreams and adventures were long gone and his health was taking it’s toll. Like so many other people in America or for that matter the world, Mark became homeless. But he liked nature and if he had his way he would of been happy living in the forests of North Carolina. He still had skills though, and despite his handicaps he still had his humor and still could make friends and with the help of others he survived for the last two years. No, it wasn’t perfect but he was happy. He had that free spirit in him when he was feeding his pet squirrel that had friended him and then he was going to jump in a cool spring in the river and watch the world go by. He would then ask me what I was doing and he would laugh as I told him I was chained to my desk at work slaving away for the man.
About a month ago Mark called me and was crying. He said he had seen the most precious thing he had ever seen in all of his adventures. He got to see his grand daughter via facetime over the internet for the first time. He loved his children more than anything in life and despite all that can come with relationships with our families he had what most parents call unconditional love for his kids. For him that’s all that mattered and it was enough.
Not being the free spirit that my brother in law Mark was, our relationship was disconnected. I was lucky enough to have him as a brother however, my compassion for him and my unconditional love for this brother took over and I thank god that he went so quickly and that his last few months he had a good life. I’ll miss you my brother save a seat for me with you and Walter.