Friday, April 29, 2011


It’s an insidious black, squirmy, wriggly beast, a grotesquely monstrous thing that stalks at will the halls and walls inside the 72 year old man’s body.  The ravenous spawn attaches its deadly spore wherever it stops, feeds off healthy organs in a frenzied orgy of activity – growing larger, stronger, more powerful with each pulsating movement.  Like the glutton it is, after a gorging, the brute rests for a while before finding a fresh spot upon which to feed and feed and feed again in its determined attempts to suck the life out of my stepfather.

Twenty three years ago, my father died of brain cancer. Twenty one years ago my brother introduced my mother to a wonderful man – they fell in love at first glance. Twenty years ago they married.  They have the most beautifully romantic marriage I’ve ever seen.  

My father was, well, let’s just say even though he was there, he was only a biological father to me.  My stepfather, however, is the true father of my heart.  I admired his strength of character, his faith, and mostly his treatment of and love for my mother, right from the start.

Pa, as I call him, is the guiding force in our family.  He is the one who dispenses sage counsel upon request but doesn’t offer unless asked.  He has a heart as big as Texas and freely gives of his talents and time to whoever is in need at the time, be they friend, family or stranger.  His faith is the quiet, deep kind.  Everyone always remarks how good they feel just being around him; everyone who’s ever met him invariably makes a comment about what a ‘good’ man he is.

I just got a phone call from my mother about two hours ago: Pa has cancer – again.  In fact, this is the fourth time in the last three years this yellow-bellied leech has attacked him.  This time, the fiend has dropped its seed in both lungs.  The blot of ugliness has already feasted on Pa’s colin, bowel and kidney.

However, Pa is a fighter.  He draws his personal courage from his faith.  He’s never uttered a defeatist word in his battle against this bruisingly dreadful ogre...not during the many surgeries, not during the painful recovery periods, not during the chemo treatments, not during his darkest moments has he ever shown any sign of surrender to this epoch adversary. 

My heart is heavy today for what I know Pa will have to once again endure in the next few days and weeks and months. 

At the same time, my heart is joyous in the knowledge that regardless of the arrows it may sling, the rocks it may throw, the blows it continues to deliver - this bastard called cancer will never fell the spirit of the giant I call Pa.

Monday, April 25, 2011

What Happened to Civility?

It’s usually the morning and evening rush hour traffic that reinforces just how rude, as a nation, we’ve become. This morning, it wasn’t the tailgaters and aggressive drivers (this time) that once again drove home that negative impression. It was the man – how can I delicately put this – defecating on the side of the highway.

About a quarter of a mile ahead of me, I noticed a fairly expensive silver car pulled onto the shoulder of the highway. I thought it odd that the driver’s side appeared empty, the front passenger door was open and there were no blinking hazard lights or turn signals. As I got closer, I could see shoes under the passenger door but nothing else. With all the strange stuff going on these days, my first thought was that I hoped I wasn’t looking at the boots of a murdered body behind the door.

I slowed down and glanced in my rearview mirror as I passed the car, ready to stop if someone was sick or injured. There was, indeed, a body attached to the feet I saw from some distance back. This body was facing the car door, crouched down with his pants around his feet, and his bare white derrière was actually, well, physically in the act of exuding its natural waste.

From what I observed, he was definitely not in need of assistance. In fact, he seemed to be accomplishing his task with gusto so I continued on my way.

I couldn’t quite comprehend what I’d just witnessed. The physical act, yes of course. The reasoning behind it? No. It’s a given that we all have to take care of our bodily functions. However, when our bodies are dictating that our functions must be taken care of right this minute, shouldn’t we at least head for the woods (which were about 10 feet away from the car) to do our business in private?

This was just plain, smack-you-in-the-face rude behavior, the equivalent of the slap on the bicep as the clenched fist is sharply jabbed upward. This was flaunting the middle finger at anyone who happened to be passing by at that moment – at society as a whole.

What happened to civility?

In this particular case, was this man raised with such a sense of entitlement that he feels he can do whatever he wants, whenever and where ever he wants?

Does the abominable action of this one man reflect how we, as a nation, have digressed to such a point that our citizens now believe that any behavior/action is acceptable?

If so, what brought us to this point?

Can we blame our nation’s general loss of civility on our politician’s long standing bad behaviors setting a negative example that it’s became just a way of life? Can we blame it on the advent of so-called reality TV that celebrates throwing society’s mores, values and beliefs out the proverbial window? Is it the parent’s fault? To which parental generation would you assign the blame?

“Please” and “Thank You” seem to have gone by the wayside. Terse e-mails have replaced thoughtful letters or Thank You notes. Texting has replaced phone calls. We no longer ask but demand. We only give when someone’s watching. And now, apparently, we can feel free to ‘dump our crap’ where ever we want.