Sunday, June 29, 2014

Goodbye, My Friend.


                 I have a dear friend who passed  this week unexpectedly, and  rather suddenly.    She had been treated for cancer, and that treatment was going well. She was expected to be cancer free and was working on gaining strength so she could return to living in her own country home.  She died of an unexpected blood clot.

                     Our family and I have been lucky enough to have known her for many years.  She was our rural village's post mistress, until her retirement from it last year..  In our very rural area, mail is not delivered to the farms and rural homes.   We go to the small rural post office where we pick up our mail, sometimes daily, if we are out and traveling in that direction, or sometimes a couple of times a week if we are not expecting anything.   Our friend has been with us through a lot of living.  She has taken delivery of chicks and animal immunizations  for us there, and would call us to come pick them up.  She used to see Daniel every day when I would break from homeschooling to take him for a break in the morning, and we would stop in.  They are a fine family that helps to make this area one of the places that is worth living.    She was the first person to arrive at the celebration of Daniel's life after he passed so suddenly.  She listened to each of our passages as we waited to hear what could have caused the unexpected passing of our beloved boy. She grieved his loss with us. She celebrated with us when our daughter bought her own home.  She cared about people and was always there for them.   Over the years we got to know her wonderful Dad, her children, and her grandchildren.  Without her, this place will be a little less colorful, and a lot less loving.

                 In the last eight weeks, her father and brother had passed and it seems as if God had made arrangements for them and was calling them home.   She loved America and was concerned about many of the changes we have seen in the past number of years. She saw a lot of people and families leave this area during what is now called "The Great Recession".  There was even talk of closing this lovely rural post office and having us all drive even farther to get mail.     I missed her funeral because it occurred before I knew of her passing, however several of my friends, my family and I would have liked to have paid our respects.   I think she knew how much she was treasured though.   I once gave her a Mr. Coffee machine for the post office at Christmas.  She liked costume jewelry, and I gave her some at Christmas and on her birthdays.  My family and I were present for her at her Dad's funeral recently, and I think she appreciated that. He too was a remarkable man.

                 Treasure your friends, your extended family and your family.   The mission to Earth that each of us are sent to, often ends suddenly.  Make sure that the people you care for, know how important they are.  Take them to lunch !

                 My friend, I thank you for being who you are.  I thank you for being the kind woman you always were to everyone.  I thank you for sharing your sense of humor.  I thank you for being the best post mistress we could have had.   I thank you for being a wonderful part of Daniel's life.  You will be remembered, and oh, how you will be missed !

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Take a Look


         Daniel, I often think about how you would have progressed here on Earth had you remained here, rather than having gone with God at age twelve and a half, now five years ago.   I knew a fair bit about your likes and dislikes then, but it saddens me just a little to think that I might not know what you would like had you remained here. I am your mother for all time, and you are my child for all time, and so, I will never stop caring about the things you like, the causes you choose to work for, the music, and your concerns and your charities here on Earth.  I know how much you enjoyed the Sonic computer games, and "Weird Al" Yankovic's parodies of songs.  I know how much you loved helping animals in need, and delivering food we bought at Sam's Club or Costco to the food bank.  There are more food banks in our county now.  You would have to rotate your attentions and supplies to them now. You would also be surprised at how inflation has increased the price of food.

                  By now you would be eighteen.  Your friend Jordan has a girlfriend now, and I think you probably would too.  So much about you would have changed and likely embraced more of the world around you.   When you were here you weren't a big fan of female singers but I think that as you grew that might have changed.  I know that you were a fan of many genres, particularly if the work itself was well done.   I believe that you are able to see this blog, and for this reason I wanted to offer you a look at a video I discovered yesterday.     This is a Canadian musical artist who obviously has quite a background in dance and choreography from her video.   I remember that you were definitely not a fan of High School Musical, but perhaps the artistry and the writing of this song seems better to you.   As you might guess, I think she is very good.  Her name for musical endeavors is Kiesza.    For everyone else, Kiesa Rae Ellestadt, born in 1989, was a young Canadian Naval Reserve officer who got a scholarship to attend music school in Canada.  She has also attended music school afterward in the US.  An adventurous spirit with a gift for songwriting and poetry, she now works in New York and in London.  I think this young woman is one to watch.

The Man Hit By a Car While Riding His Bicycle


               It's strange how the days leading up to the loss of Daniel, and the weeks and even months afterward have been captured in my mind in great detail with a great deal of accuracy.  I wonder sometimes if this is true of others who experience a life changing incident.   I have concluded that it may be true for some, but not all.
            When Daniel died so suddenly in late November of 2008, the days which followed turned very cold.  I remember shivering at the "Celebration of His Life" and turning the heat on in the house for the first time that season.  So much of that time was surreal and like a nightmare.  I think I coped by ensuring that I was as busy as possible. If you keep on running, perhaps the grief won't know where to find you, and might not hit you with full force.    Since we live forty to fifty miles from anything, we spend a fair amount of time driving anyway. I remember driving and thinking a great deal in the weeks which followed the funeral.  Daniel's funeral had been in the beginning of December, and several weeks later, we were nearing a sterile Christmas.  Since Daniel had bought presents ahead of time for everyone, I was determined to make this a celebrated Christmas for our other children.   I knew it wouldn't be a fantastic one, but I was settling for a salvaged one. For this reason, I was on the road in the car even more than usual, buying presents that had special meaning and this too increased my travels.   About a week before Christmas, it once again warmed up outside, which happens here quite often in Virginia.  I was returning on a country road from one of the cities which is about fifty miles from us.  I slowed, as the traffic up ahead did.  The church in that area runs a Christmas festival each year and during the festival, always makes the two lane road rather busy, as it was that evening.  As I slowed and watched ahead, I saw a man with long hair riding a bicycle.  He was riding much the way a child does, and in a split second, he was hit by a car and knocked into a mailbox.  Without thinking much, I pulled into the nearest driveway and went over to him.  After all, after doing CPR on my son, and having the medical helicopter come and have been unable to save him, what more could I see that would disturb me ?    Another driver who stopped said he had called 911.    I sat with the man who was lying in the gravel at the roadside.   He was crying a bit like a child, but also in much the way many of us would be given the circumstances.  His first concern was that I move the bicycle from the road. The man whose driveway I occupied, moved it and promised to hold onto it for him until he returned to get it, as the man who was hit would be leaving the property in an ambulance.  The man who was hit was about thirty.  He asked me if I thought his pelvis was broken.  I told him that he should sit very still and not move around until he had been assessed at the hospital.  I told him that scans would need to be done to rule out any injuries. There were no obvious fractures or obvious injuries.  Then, I took his pulse. It was completely regular and only about 78 beats per minute.  For a moment, I was just a sliver angry with him.  How could he be hit by a car and have a completely regular pulse of only 78 ?  My own pulse was likely 90 at the time.  Daniel wasn't hit by a car, and he was dead !  Where is the sense in that ?    The man started to get upset at the fact that the woman had hit him, although the people who had gathered who included a couple of witnesses thought that he had been the one who at dusk didn't have bicycle lights and was riding on a busy two lane road erratically.  I spoke calmly and clearly to him telling him that he was okay, and that he had a slow and regular pulse. He would need to be assessed at the hospital but he was able to feel and move his toes and feet, and at one point moved slightly as he was lying in gravel, and this alone was uncomfortable.  Then an ambulance arrived and searched for a place to park. A deputy sheriff arrived at about the same time.  When the ambulance took over, neither they or the deputy asked for my name, even though I was a witness.   I remember getting back in my car and waiting a long time before the road was clear enough for me to leave.  I never heard anything directly about the accident again. I believe the man who was hit to likely have only minor injuries as his pulse remained about the same in the fifteen or twenty minutes I monitored him.

               I have often thought it strange that even after such a terrible loss myself, one that changed my life forever, that  stopping at the scene of an accident to help was still simply automatic. I didn't even consider driving on ahead, even though there were plenty of people there, and the sheriff's office had been directing traffic at the festival, and most of them in that county are also EMT trained.

              It isn't fair that Daniel developed an apparent arrhythmia which took his life with no obvious precipitating factors.  It isn't fair that a man in his thirties riding erratically on a bicycle gets hit, and then doesn't even have the expected rise in pulse from the adrenalin we might expect, let alone any clear injuries.  I used to tell my kids that life isn't fair, and often we can't really look for it to be.   Somehow this was of little consolation at that time.

             The following week, I asked a friend of mine who is an EMT what she knew of the man who was hit by the car.  She told me that he was treated and released from the Emergency Room.  Life certainly does go on, no matter what the losses we might personally endure might be.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

House Majority Leader, Eric Cantor Loses His Seat in Congress


Eric will not return to Congress for an eighth term.

         I remember the Summer of 2008 as if it were a month or two ago.   I attended a Republican fundraiser at a large farm in which a number of political dignitaries were in attendance. As a homeschooling family,  I used to bring our children to events such as these, in part because it teaches them things about politics, politeness, and social skills. Too often children see themselves as inhabitants of a parallel universe distinct and separate from political people, when it point of fact they are not.   Since the other kids were in college, Daniel attending this particular event  with me.
        Daniel, who was twelve,  was his usual articulate self, and when he met Eric Cantor, he explained how the bank bailouts as planned, were counter to the way capitalism works.  Eric Cantor was gracious to Daniel and explained that the bank bailouts would have to occur because the damage to the economy could be catastrophic if they did not.   Daniel told him that a bank that made bad business decisions should fail, and then the people employed by those banks would start new smaller banks which took fewer risks, and that capitalism is in fact, self cleaning,  but Congressman Cantor wasn't buying.

          Only a few months later, when Daniel died, so unexpectedly, I did notify Eric Cantor that the child who at 12 1/2 had so articulately spoken politics with him, was gone.  I hoped he would remember him, and perhaps even shed some light on why our local government had refused to pay for an autopsy on a completely unexpected death.  Our family was left procuring one ourselves and agreeing to pay for it.    Eric Cantor's office never responded despite the fact that our family had met him many times and that we had worked to help him be elected in 2000.

                    When Daniel died, so much of the world seemed to go sideways.  An unqualified man was elected to the presidency.   Our new president spent money like water.  He ate lobster in Wyoming and beef in Maine.  One problem after another ensued including a continuing deteriorating economy.  Anyone who questioned the actions of the regime was accused of racism when we were criticizing actions not ethnicity.   "Cash for Clunkers" came and went.   "Shovel Ready Jobs" were coming and never did.   More and more of our friends lost their jobs, and often their homes just after. Our friends who kept their homes found them worth only about half of their initial expenditure. Selling a home in order to take another job in another part of the country sometimes meant walking away and trashing their credit entirely.    Our children graduated from universities with debt from college, and did not find jobs.  A half baked expensive health program fashioned as a precursor to National Health came in. The "Affordable Care Act" wasn't affordable at all.   Some of the people we knew lost their health insurance entirely.  Business after business closed.    The government began buying millions of dollars worth of ammunition for all of its federal agencies, and it became difficult to buy many types if you were the general public.  More and more late night, holiday and weekend actions by the executive branch continued to erode the US Constitution.   There is talk of granting amnesty to illegal aliens when many Americans born here who would take ANY job, still can't find one.  Some of our own people have been looking for work for years.  

                 More food banks appeared and most are regularly empty. More and more middle class families have been depending upon them.  Businesses close, and more Goodwill stores have opened.   Through all this time, we continued to do what we believe genuine patriots do.  We did not demonstrate anywhere, however we wrote constant letters to our Congressman Cantor and to our Senators.  We explained why we were concerned about the debt load of the United States.  We asked that Obamacare not be funded. We don't want our state's Medicaid expanded.   From Senator Mark Warner we received letters back saying that he would do his best to clamp down on guns when our letter had been concerned with our retaining our gun rights, particularly in a rural area.  He and his staff didn't even really read our letter.  Our letters back from Senator Tim Kaine sounded as if they had come from a socialist.   We had hoped Eric Cantor, our Congressman, would work to lead the charge to rescind Obamacare.  We hoped that he would be a part of the group who tried to curtail runaway governmental spending.  This never happened.   As nice a man as Eric Cantor is, he seemed completely out of touch with the wishes of his constituency.

                Today when the Republican Primary took place our family went down to the polling station and we voted for the  professor of economics who is opposing Eric Cantor.   It broke our hearts to vote against the person we had worked for all those years ago.  However, things in the US are going so badly that we need people strong enough to oppose the present regime, not appease it.    This week the present regime paid money and traded five Taliban members in exchange for a man who deserted our troops.  This was unwise, but it was also illegal because proper notifications were not given to Congress.   We have long since moved squarely into impeachment territory, yet we don't have men courageous enough to tackle these problems in our Congress.

            I know that Eric Cantor may well have been the next Speaker of the House.   I know that the votes of my family do make a difference.  I just heard that Eric Cantor lost his eighth bid to be returned to Congress.     I grieve for him and his family.    I also grieve for mine.   I pray that whomever does return to Congress on our behalf has the starch to speak honestly and with fiscal responsibility.     Daniel,  I did my best.