Monthly Archives: January 2014

The Democrats I Know

I am absolutely fascinated and surprised at just how much I have learned about my friends and acquaintances via their Facebook (FB) posts. Like many people, my FB friends consist of family, current good friends, friends I don’t see often, and friends from high school and college. I was a teenager in the late seventies and grew up in a pretty progressive area. Partying was prevalent – smoking pot, drinking, and many other drugs were involved. From what I can tell the majority of us grew up just fine and are productive members of society, some having done some pretty cool things. We were all what we considered hippies back then; sex, drugs, and rock and roll was our mantra – being the pre-herpes, pre-AIDs, pre-crack, pre-meth days. Well fast forward 30 years, and I am generally shocked at how many of my friends are raging Republicans. Today one of my FB friends, someone I spent a lot of time with growing up as we lived in the same small neighborhood for a while, as well as went through school together, shared a post stating the top 10 reasons people vote Democrat. This post listed things like:

  • Democrats believe they are too irresponsible to own a gun and that the police can protect them well enough.  
  • Democrats believe in marrying anyone they want, and can now marry their German shepherds.
  • Democrats aren’t concerned about millions of babies being aborted, but want to keep all death row inmates alive and comfy.

Though more reasons were listed, I stopped there, probably because many of these same people that are now Republicans either had abortions or had a girlfriend that had one. I know this because that kind of thing was kept from what we called “the People” aka our parents, but it usually got around with your good friends and your clique. Come on, everybody gossiped. I don’t know why that thought popped in my head, but it did. Maybe because I can’t help but wonder about so many things, though I know people change as they get older, more mature and more experienced.

Though I am an Independent, I have voted for many Democrats. I have voted for many Independents, Libertarian and Green party members, and some Republicans, too. Though I believe in God, and believe marriage is between a man and woman, I also have no problems with my gay friends or family members wanting to be married, civil union, whatever you call it. There’s the problem – half the time it’s a matter of semantics. But that’s another story for another time. Having said that, I do not believe in people marrying their dogs, nor do my Democratic friends.

I believe in the right to own a gun, and I have had a few. I do not have a problem with background checks, and have been through them not only to buy a gun, but to get a few jobs. They have been registering guns for years, so it’s not like this is exactly new. I would not be honest though if I did not tell you that I do have issues with the government having so much information about us, and worry that this could become problematic someday. Many of my friends who are Democrats are gun owners and believe in this right. I also have a few Republican friends that are totally anti-gun.

Getting back to the abortion issue, typically no one is pro-abortion. They are pro-choice. Meaning they do not think middle-aged men in suits should make healthcare and life-changing decisions for women, particularly women they do not know. The thought of any woman feeling so desperate (for  whatever reason) as to end a pregnancy, and then having to do it in unhealthy, unsanitary conditions, possibly destroying any chances they have for future children is unacceptable to some. Quite frankly, that is unacceptable to me. I had so many girlfriends who had abortions in the late 1970s and 1980s, some more than one. I can just imagine how many of them would have had different outcomes if their options had been different. Many of them would have sought out that procedure regardless, and would’ve ended up in some back alley-like hellhole. Many of them might not have the beautiful children and grandchildren they have now. Would that have been a righteous punishment for a mistake made as a young person finding their way in the world? I am not saying abortion is the right solution to an unwanted pregnancy, but what I am saying is that is a decision that the woman facing that dilemma should be able to make by herself with her healthcare professional. Many of my Democrat friends are pro-life opponents. I also have some pro-choice friends who are Republicans.

Last but not least, I do not think anyone I know believes that all death row inmates should be kept alive and comfy, regardless of their political opinion – but they do want to make sure the person on death row is actually guilty.

I just wanted to shed some light on how some of the Democrats and Republicans I know think about these particular subjects. I have much more I would like to address, but this is enough for today.

Just something I was thinking about . . .

Flirting With Disaster . . .

While having a conversation with a friend the other day, an interesting subject came up about recent events in her life . . .

You know when you are doing something that reeks of flirting with disaster, but the heat of it all just pulls you in? Though you never really cross the line, you know you could at any moment if you so desired, but you don’t. And since that is the case, why flirt with it at all? Does the situation fill a void, address a need, bring back a feeling, evoke another time, teach you something about yourself (or someone/something else), or make you feel alive – all of these or maybe something entirely different? Then there’s your own cross talk. How do you address that? Do you really listen to it, or do you shuck it off – trusting your intuition, while discounting your own common sense? Do you think you have a handle on it, completely under control at all times? Are you fooling yourself; could you get in too deep?  Is this something you would share with a close friend, and if not why? What would you tell a good friend if they approached you with a similar situation seeking your advice?

These are the types of questions I asked her. After all, she did come to me for advice.

The House That Jack Built

I can’t believe she sold it.

Papa spent almost the last decade of his life planning and building his house in the middle of the Ozark Mountains, in Arkansas. And it was here that he wanted to die.

In 1988, my father-in-law, Jack was diagnosed with prostate cancer. It was right after my daughter was born, which is why Jack and Papa are used interchangeably – we called him both. When he was diagnosed with the cancer, he already had his retirement plan set in motion. He had found a forty-acre box canyon in the middle of nowhere in the Ozark Mountains. This was truly a place where you could go and get lost off the face of the earth. No one could find you, if you didn’t tell them how.

The land had been bought about four years prior, and a lot of work had already been done to make it ready for the house that was going to be built for their retirement in a few years. When the property was bought, it had belonged to a commune of hippies who grew pot for a living. They lived in teepees made from wood scraps and their kids ran around naked. When the hippies got busted, the land was signed over to their lawyer as payment for her services. My in-laws bought it from her. Steel Creek, off the Buffalo River, ran through the property.

Jack worked so hard on this place he considered heaven. He designed the house himself, drawing up the plans on an old antique drafting table. Once the plans were finished, it was time to begin construction. It was late summer and the dynamiting began.

That Thanksgiving, Papa and my husband went up to finish the basement. A bad ice storm came in keeping them stranded for about four days longer than the original two weeks planned. The work was hard and the weather was nasty. If that wasn’t bad enough, Jack’s illness was progressing. All the surgeries and radiation treatments he had endured hadn’t managed to kill the cancer and it was still growing, spreading and wreaking havoc on his body. Yet, Jack still continued to build the house, going to Arkansas every chance he could. This was his dream and nothing was going to stop him, not even cancer or its pain.

Work progressed, and finally the house was finished on the outside and dried in. The carpet was laid, kitchen cabinets were built, and furniture was moved in, and they began to live in the house. Up until this point, they were living in the small barn built for Jack’s future horses. This gave them shelter while they were building the house. Three months after this, Jack’s illness progressed to the point he could no longer finish the work that needed to be done to complete the inside of the house. The cancer had spread to his lymph nodes and his bones. He finally had the surgery the doctors wanted to do for quite some time – his testicles were removed, which is where the majority of testosterone is made; testosterone feeds the cancer. But it was too late to stop the monster that had invaded his body; the war was still not over.

This is when we – me, my husband, and our daughter – went to live at the creek, in the house that Jack built. We lived there with Nanny and Papa for about eight months. My husband’s days consisted of finishing the inside of the house – installing siding on the cathedral ceilings, building bathroom cabinets, laying wood flooring, installing light fixtures, building doors and staining all this new wood.

My days consisted of watching my daughter grow like a weed and helping my mother-in-law with the chores, and with Jack. The longer we were there, the worse off Papa got. At first, we shared all the errands, my mother-in-law and I. Living twenty minutes from the nearest tiny town, and forty-five minutes from the nearest town with anything that sparked of civilization (like a gas station that stayed open past 6:00 PM), shopping and major errand running became a full-day job most times. After a few months, I did all the running, my mother-in-law never leaving Jack’s side.

If parts of our lives are like the four seasons, then this was surely the winter of ours. For over four years I had prayed Papa would get better, but after we’d been in Arkansas for a few months, I began to see that Jack would never get better, as he was wasting away right before our eyes as the cancer ravaged his body day after day. By this point, not six months after we had arrived, I no longer wasted my prayers. I began to pray for his release from this prison, this suffering and pain. I prayed for God to take him and to please do it soon. Of course, sometimes I felt guilty for this, upset at myself for giving up. But, deep down I knew – I wasn’t giving up, I was being realistic, and I could tell when Jack realized the battle was all but over, and he had lost.

When my husband finished enough of the house that he was able to go back to work full-time, we found our own place. About two months after we moved out, Jack’s condition worsened further. We were all told to prepare for the end.

Papa wanted so badly to die at home in the awesome house that he had built, mostly with his own two hands. Where his hospital bed was set-up downstairs was all open with lots of windows and huge French doors going out onto one of the biggest porches I’ve ever seen wrap all the way around a house. There were plants, flowers, and hummingbird feeders scattered all over the porch. It was really something to see, especially that time of year. The closest neighbor was miles away. When you looked outside you saw the tall spindly cedar trees, and the blooming fusion of white and pink dogwood flowers, the random redbud trees in their purple glory, and an occasional deer or turkey. The house was medium-sized, with a river-rock fireplace that was the centerpiece of the entire house – basement, main floor and upstairs – rocked all the way up and all the way around the four sides. No wonder Papa wanted to die here – in his own piece of heaven. I understood, and so did my mother-in-law.

As the time was nearing, my mother-in-law had already told us that she didn’t want Jack to die at home. She was petrified that she wouldn’t know what to do when the time came. I tried to tell her that when Death came, it was well versed and would not need or ask for any help from her. There was nothing for her to say or do, except to be there. She was there when he died, but he did so in the cold sterility of the hospital hooked up to tubes, monitors and machines. Exactly what he said he didn’t want.

Within six years after Jack died, my mother-in-law sold Papa’s little piece of heaven. He had always told us that when his dad died, he had left him and his mom very little. He wanted to leave a legacy – the big house in the woods where family got together and visited. He wanted it to be ours, and then our child’s and then her children’s, and so on down the line. This big house that he had dreamed, designed, built – the dream that kept him alive as long it could. But that said, he had also told his widow-to-be that if living in the middle of nowhere with all the work and planning that was involved was too much after he was gone – it was hers to do with as she wanted. Though it was his dream, he had built it for her to have a nice affordable place when he was gone. His illness never altered his plans for the house.

I am still trying to figure out why Jack had to die when he did. I wonder often where we would be and what our lives would be like if he was still here. I wish my mother-in-law hadn’t sold the house. One thing’s for sure, that house brought us all together for a time – the reason for being there was heartbreaking, but we all made it the best time we could. It was Jack’s dream and he made it happen, though it was the last thing he ever did. He was proud of it all and I know it brought him a sense of peace – the peace he needed to accept the fact that he was going to die soon.

Unfortunately the house is gone to us now, but the memories will always remain. The memories from the house that Jack built.

I hope when my times comes, my family isn’t afraid to carry out my last wishes whatever they may be, even if it makes them uncomfortable. I hope everyone has the luxury of finding their own small piece of heaven here on Earth during their lifetime. Just something I was thinking about . . .

Happy New Year!

“Baby – if the world was mine; if I could live these dreams . . . Time & Luck & Love and I – we’d be thick as thieves . . .” (~Seth James – If the World Was Mine)

Here’s to a most blessed, prosperous, auspicious and memorable year ahead for us all! May we be kind to each other & to ourselves.  In the end, we all want pretty much the same things, even if we have different ways of getting there or expressing ourselves. Compassion, consideration, compromise, and communication . . .

HAPPY NEW YEAR – Come on 2014!!  🙂