Archives for June 2004

Life is challenging

More random thoughts about my life in general with no particular order or meaning. My father had a younger brother who died in February of 1994, he wasn’t quite 50 when he passed away.

He was gay, but not the stereotypical flamboyant gay man that you see portrayed on TV, there was no birdcage. I was just short of 18 when I found out that he was gay. I had never bothered to consider that he could be, it never occurred to me that he was anything but my uncle.

But my middle sister must have been thinking about it because she asked him. We were in San Francisco on a youth group trip and he had dinner with just the two of us. One moment I had the cool uncle who bought a beer for me at dinner and the next, he was gay. He laughed when she asked and answered that he was.

Suddenly I was posed with a dilemma as I had grown up hearing gay jokes in school. I may have even told some. I never heard them around the house, but I knew that it was something that many people frowned upon. I truly cannot remember if I spent much time thinking about it, although I know that I found it to be disconcerting. Regardless of my discomfort I reminded myself that he was my uncle and that I loved him.

And that was the end of my concern about it, it really was short lived.

It was January of 1987.

Sometime in 1989 I learned that my uncle had tested HIV+. Now my uncle became gay again to me. I remember as a 20 year-old boy who was trying to figure out who I was that I knew that my uncle was going to die and I felt sad for my father and my grandfather.

For a long time he didn’t show any signs of the disease. He had trouble gaining weight, but he was always skinny. As the opportunity presented itself I would go back to SF to spend time with him. He was so similar and so different from my father. It was fascinating to me to see in some ways the man my father could have been had he not had 4 children to take care of.

Sometime around 1993 the virus decided that dormancy was not for it and the little buggers began their assault upon my uncle. It was slow at first and he fought it. We are a strong willed family and he wasn’t anxious to give up. I began to do what I could to speak with him even more than I had. I really looked to him for some guidance and support. He gave me what advice he had to offer and set me straight about a number of things.

My happy go lucky uncle was dying.

I began to see little things that I hadn’t noticed before, aspects of his personality that I had never been exposed to. I don’t know if they had always been there or if the disease brought it out, but they reared their head for me, pretty and ugly alike.

It became more and more apparent that time was not on his side and out of necessity the drugs he took to sustain his life were increased. And now I got to speak with a drugged and not always lucid 49 year old. I didn’t like it, but I didn’t blame him.

In February of 1994 my uncle died of complications caused by the virus, he wasn’t even 50.

Due to dumbluck, karma, kismet or whatever I got the call from SF saying that he had passed away and I got to due the honors of telling my grandfather that his youngest son had died. A short time later my mother and I let my father know that his younger brother had died. In practically no time it seemed like I had decimated a family.

No one blamed me, no one yelled at me. It wasn’t my fault, but I felt empty and hollow. I had “stabbed” my grandfather and my father. I did it carefully, I tried to be tender, but the words cut them both.

My grandfather cried and I could do nothing.

Fast forward to 2003. It is August and my grandmother has a major stroke. We know that within days she will die. For all intents and purposes she is already gone, her body is a shell, more like a three dimensional picture. My grandfather held her hand and sat with her, but the look on his face said that he knew.

At her funeral he leaned against me and I realized that overnight he had aged. My poor grandfather had buried a son and two wives and time was catching up with him. It made me very aware of his mortality. I was 34 and a father and I felt like a three year-old boy. Suddenly all of his weight was leaning against me and even though I felt strength in the muscles, he felt frail.

And for the second time in my memory my grandfather cried.

Fast forward to April of this year, 2004. My sister is pregnant with her third child. On April 17th my parents left for New Jersey so that they could be there for the birth of their newest grandchild.

On April 28th my father was admitted to the hospital. Within hours he was on a ventilator and my BIL and I were discussing whether he would survive. It was touch and go and there were concerns that if I waited for any length of time he would die before I could get there.

And suddenly I realized that I might be stuck telling my grandfather that his oldest son had died. It was so unfair, I was going to be placed in a position of being concerned about whether telling him could kill him. It was bad enough telling him about my uncle, and now 10 years later I faced the prospect of history repeating.

But this time there was no other child and no wife to lean on, just a 35 year-old grandson.

Life is funny that way. So I rolled the dice and lied to my grandfather and my other grandparents about having to take a sudden business trip. It was April 30th and I caught an early morning flight to New Jersey. I got on a plane not knowing if my father would still be living when I arrived and the knowledge of all of the responsibilities left behind. Three grandparents, a pregnant wife, three year-old son and two younger sisters.

Ahead I had my mother to take care of and my sister and her kids. I was incredibly thankful for my BIL, not just because he was a doctor but because I felt some support, that there was at least one person in New Jersey that I could rely upon to help with the family.

It is June 30th now.

My father beat the odds, roll out the cliches. He survived when so many of the docs were dubious about the possibility. And now I worry about him and my mother coming home in time for the birth of my new baby. The due date is July 22, but my wife expects that we have about 2 weeks to go. She is carrying the baby, so I suppose that she should know.

I am looking forward to seeing dad come home. I am not ready to give him up and I don’t want to rob my children of knowing their grandfather. What a wild year it has been. There is something fitting in seeing my folks arrive in time for the beginning of a new life.

I love you dad. Get mom on a plane and come home, please.

The Credit Card Prank

I am glad to see that I am not the only one who plays this game. If only I had thought to document it, oh well.

When I graduated from College they gave us cards to fill out with our names as they supposedly appeared on our diplomas. My friends and I had a field day filling out our “real” names and then some.

Lot of interesting graduates were found that day. Not to mention that some jackass got into it with one of my fellow graduates. Basically he was there to see some family/friend graduate. In his efforts to film the ceremony he blocked our view. We yelled and asked him to move, apparently this irked him enough that he threatened to come kick our rears.

Not only that, but he said that he was going to put the camera away and that he would return to inflict said punishment. The funny part is that he pointed at us and said “I’ll remember you.”

I am sure that 1000 of us dressed all dressed in black caps and gowns looked very different from each other.

Dennis Prager: SO, WE’RE HATED

Again, I agree with Mr. Prager.

One more point. When you look at the roster of the America-haters and realize that none of them hates France or Sweden, this assessment of America-hatred is rendered even more obvious. America, largely alone, calls these groups and regimes what they are — evil. America, largely alone, wages war against them. America, largely alone (with Israel), prevents them from assuming far more power.

How very true.

Thoughts about war

Just some basic thoughts to throw out. For anyone who has been reading the board for any length of time now it should be evident that I support the war in Iraq.

I think that we did the right thing and I am happy that we did it. I am not going to run off and provide all of the reasons that I think we did the right thing. I’ll say that I am disappointed in how some things have been handled and that I think that we have fumbled the ball several times.

And I also want to add that I do not buy the argument that by going in we created an environment in which millions of people are going to crawl out of bed and become terrorists.

I think that it will create new terrorists and that this will be a good recruitment tool for AQ and friends. But I think that many of those people are predisposed to this behavior and not likely to have been friendly towards us to begin with.

There are lots of ways to disagree with people/politics and most ways do not involve violence. I don’t think that everyone is capable of launching murderous attacks even if they support the idea.

That being said, I believe that there are a number of things that are happening now including a polarization of sides that is being pushed by members of the fringes so to speak.

I think that there are many people who want this to become a case of Muslims versus the rest of the world and that they will continue to perform outrageous acts to fuel this desire.

What we are seeing and reading about now are more and more calls for revenge. People want blood and are calling out for action. I happen to believe that overwhelming force is going to be needed to bring the terrorists down and to force a position in which they have to use political means and not violence to negotiate their terms.

That being said I wanted to mention that I came across a site called Ogrish. It made me sad, it is “chock” full of barbaric videos of violence from the war and other places. I think that part of what made me sad is that I watched pieces of some of the videos. It was like a trainwreck, I had to force myself to stop watching.

I have seen some very bloody things in person and they were not nice, but it wasn’t nice to see it on the computer either. And I couldn’t help but think of the parents of these victims and how they have to face this terrible reality for the rest of their lives. It is a terrible weight.

And I think that part of what makes me sad is just my belief that the way to peace is going to require so much more bloodshed. Such a terrible contradiction, so wrong, but sometimes so necessary.

Life really is absurd sometimes.

Wow

What a busy time in my life. Today my father was released from the hospital. He went in on April 28, so just short of 2 months later the big man has been paroled from the joint. It was a combination of pneumonia, heart trouble and a few other odds and ends and he beat the odds and came through.

I am excited by I feel spent mentally and emotionally. The problem is that there is no time to sit back and mull over these things. It won’t pay the bills and it won’t keep work from piling on my desk. On days like this I think that I should clone myself 2 or 3 times so that I can always be working on the things that need to be done. And since it will be my clone I won’t have to worry about being in three places at once, I will be. and better yet, sorry, not sure what the better yet would be.