Posted tagged ‘Jack’

Book of Life

May 5, 2015

Book of Life




Death does not matter, when it is here, I am not.  What matters is life and the chapters, characters and actions that make it interesting or of consequence.  My life has been full and interesting and, for the most part, I’ve enjoyed it immensely.  But I realize that I have been fortunate in where and when I was born and that, for a lot of people, life is a constant struggle filled with fear and suffering.  I guess that is what makes me a social liberal; I share John Lennon’s views.  ‘Imagine’ is my favorite song.

Patty says I’ve been dying for over 30 years and I guess she’s right.  I’ve accepted death all my life but it’s not a morbid preoccupation.  I think religious people are morbidly preoccupied with death.  I think the fear of dying and the promise of an afterlife is what spawned all the world’s religions.  As a kid I thought about dying and always assumed I wouldn’t last this long.  I imagine a lot of kids my age thought about dying, you can’t practice nuclear attack drills in elementary school where you hide under your desk or lie against the walls of the school hallways without giving it some thought. In the mid-80’s I experienced some chest pains and thought it was finally catching up to me so I put my vineyards on the market (I had two) because I didn’t want Patty and the kids to have to deal with them after I was gone.  When I finally went to the doctor I found that I just had angina, an inflammation in the lining of my heart, and it wasn’t likely to kill me.  But that was another chapter that ended and along with it a monumental change in the direction of our lives. 

So… back to the analogy of ‘The Book of Life’.  I’ve got a rough draft of the final chapter or chapters and I just need to fill in a few details.  We’ve prepared a living will and Patty and I are in agreement that we do not want to die in a hospital or a nursing home.  Patty says, “Just shoot me” but that’s not a plan at all since I don’t have a gun and I don’t want to spend my final days in prison no matter how much I love her.  Longevity is actually the prolonging of old age and death will most likely occur as the diminishing of quality of life and increasing frailty.  As I sit here at my computer writing this, Patty is at Volcano National Park in Hawaii working at eradicating six-foot thorn-bushes from the lava beds under a broiling sun.  She had to hike twelve miles with a forty-pound backpack and then sleep in a tent to get to an area that most people will never go to spend a week of back-breaking labor.  So, Patty is not succumbing to old-age even though it’s becoming harder for her to do the things she wants to do. 

In remembering the members of my family, all gone now except for a sister who is living with Alzheimer’s, that most terrible and horrible of diseases, I like to think they mostly died well.  I don’t know the details because in most cases I wasn’t there but, in my mind and my memories, they mostly died well.  My eldest sister, Edythe, died on her own terms and planned for her children before she left.  My sister Millie, who I think about more than anyone and had the greatest influence on my life, planned for her passing so as to make it easier for all of us.  I think that Patty and Millie epitomize what I think of as truly good people that are sort of Mother Theresa and Joan of Arc rolled into one and are the central characters in my book.  My sister, Dolly, died in Perth, Australia and had an interesting book that rivals my own.  The night she died we talked and she made me laugh; she was true to her character and left me with happy memories.  My sister Omie and my brother Pete were estranged from most of the family and I was unaware of their deaths until later, both suffered with depression.  My sister Ginny died with her family in much the same way that my mother died with her. Mom lived with Ginny before she died and Ginny lived with her daughter Cassandra before she died.

That brings me to my friend, Joe.  Joe’s brother-in-law, a right winger and a Christian, claimed that Joe found Jesus on his deathbed.  Having known Joe for forty-some years I find that hard to believe.  But I do know that Joe sometimes told people what they wanted to believe because he was a nice guy.  However, at his memorial service, his brother-in-law used the anecdote to proselytize and that was wrong in my book.  I don’t want that to happen to me or Patty. 

So, what’s the point of all this?  Am I just being morbid?  I don’t think so.  I think the point of this is what Chronospots is all about.  I want to leave a record of my family and my life that I wish my father and mother and siblings had left me.  I don’t want them to be forgotten when I am gone and I want anyone who cares, to know who and what I was.  It’s important to me because I wanted to know these things about those who were important to me.

Also, Patty has been gone for over a month now and I have time on my hands.

The Thrifty Drug Store Caper

August 15, 2009

5270 E. Sumner Rd.  Fowler

Fred,Emy,Patty & Erma

It was a dark and stormy night…well, actually it was a sunny and hot day like it usually is in Fresno. Must have been about almost 30 years ago. Emmy was driving her Oldsmobile station-wagon (the get-away car) and along for the ride was her mother, Erma, Billy and Traci, both 10 to 12 years old, Patty and myself. Come to think of it, Susan must have been an accomplice too, where else would she be? That Olds was as big as a bus. We had gone to the Thrifty Drug Store in Selma which was one of our regular haunts at the time. Emmy or Patty wanted something, probably a pattern or something totally lame like that.
I was expected to take care of the kids and they had spotted some of those mechanical toys that businesses placed in front of the store to capture kids quarters. They hopped on the spaceship or horse or whatever and I started feeding quarters. One of the machines didn’t work. It took quarters all right but didn’t do anything. So, I went into the store and told a clerk about the problem. The clerk was unsympathetic and said I should call the person who put the machines there. I said it was their responsibility since it was in front of their store and plugged into their electricity. We weren’t getting anywhere so I asked to speak to the manager.
I cooled my heels for a time and by now Emmy, Erma and Patty had come over to see what the commotion was all about. Typically, Patty told me I should forget it but Erma seemed to agree that it wasn’t right. I didn’t need much encouragement since I felt outraged that this store would condone ripping off little kids (who rides spaceships in front of stores?).
The manager finally showed up and we immediately got into a heated argument. When I saw that I wasn’t going to get satisfaction, I walked over to the candy counter and picked up a piece of candy. I said something like, “Take this out of what you owe me”! Then headed for the door. Emmy and Patty had already headed for the car with the kids and Erma in tow. The manager followed me out yelling something about shoplifting and calling the cops. As we left I saw him writing something on a piece of paper.
All the way to the Adair’s house I was on the receiving end of a steady barrage of tongue-lashing from Patty and concern from Emmy about illegal activities. Erma tried to defend me and I don’t know what the kids were thinking. Anyway, we got to the Adair’s and were unloading the car when a police cruiser pulled in and wanted to know who the owner of the car was.

Apparently, taking a candy bar from Thrifty’s was a major crime in Selma and required an immediate response from Selma’s finest. I don’t really remember how this situation got resolved but I imagine Patty and Emmy must have dealt with it because I didn’t end up in jail. Left to me I would have probably escalated the situation into some kind of stand off with the cops since Fred generally had an arsenal handy. And I had right on my side, after all. Come to think of it, that must have been the CHP since Adair’s lived in Fowler and Selma cops wouldn’t have jurisdiction.
Anyway, this is the story Billy remembers and suggested I tell. Must have made an impression on HIM! I hope he learned from my example to stand up for yourself and not to take shit off anybody!

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