death

Musings

Some of history’s biggest catastrophes have been created by devious people with a lot of time on their hands.    For example, Hitler’s ‘Final Solution’, 9/11, the use of Napalm as weaponry, Watergate,  The University of Texas Longhorns 2016 season.

I was fortunate enough to retire from a more than three decade career in Broadcasting.  Since shutting off the perpetual live mic, I’ve read a lot, watched a shit ton of documentaries on mindless topics such as a day in the life of a lemur, how and why honey never, ever spoils and of course the Maysles’ Grey Gardens, and a strange but colorful 67 minute journey into the life of style maven, Iris Apfel, a woman who never met a feathered boa or bracelet she didn’t like. 

Oh yeah, there’s the one about Hitler’s fascination with the occult,  one about Virgin Mary’s personal concert for three Portuguese shepherd children at Fatima (that one required Big Pharma) and an intriguing documentary about another  Prince William, a dashing sort and oddly handsome for a British royal.    He was killed in a plane crash almost 60 years ago.   Look him up.

I have eclectic interests, I suppose and what I can’t look up on this contraption, I think about in my head.

I muse about things.     I wonder if Caroline Kennedy has ever seen the Zapruder film.  I wonder what she does or thinks about every November 22nd, if she think or does anything at all.  I wonder if Fidel Castro’s death meant anything to her.

I wonder who the first person was to watch an egg emerge from a chicken’s…..whatever….and decided to crack it open and determine it was edible and eventually vital in many recipes.     How was flight conceived?    Who in the hell thought that smashing atoms could be weaponized and a used as a fuel source?   Yeah, I’ve seen documentary on Hans Bethe, but he basically conceived nuclear fission by looking at sunshine. Huh?  Must’ve had a welder’s mask.

I’ve thought about politics lately.   I’m glad Trump won but a lot of sore losers are going to make his political life a living hell.   I wonder what affect his presidency will have on his hair.

Then, there’s Benghazi.

I listened CSNY today singing a live version of “Ohio”.    For you youngins, that’s a song written  about four anti war protestors who were shot and killed by National Guardsmen during a riot on the campus of Kent State University in Kent, Ohio.

Hence, the title.

Then, I started musing lyrically.   It’s missing a few lyrics but you’ll get the gist of it.    And here it is, with apologies to Mr. Young.

No soldiers, no Clinton calling
They were definitely on thier own.
That September there were four bodies
Four dead in Benghazi

Gotta get down to it

Ansar al-Sharia cutting them down
Should have been protected long ago.
How much did Hillary know with
Chris Stevens dead on the ground

How can you run when you know?

I also think about how some people with absolutely no moral compass can live with themselves.

My, my…how you young know-it-all millennial saplings who think you’re so much more emotionally evolved than everyone else, would have loved the Sixties.   Tumult was so in vogue back then.   There was a real purpose to it back in The Day.

Today? Not so much. Bitch about whatever offends your concept of diversity and when you throw a brick through a window because of that, or because of university rape cultures, xenophobia, Islamaphobia, global warming, trans bathroom issues, entitlements of all kinds, or how being female in 2016 somehow means being a victim, remind yourself you could be in a Humvvee and drive over a powerful IED on a deserted road in Afghanistan.

You could be in a massive firefight in a hellish jungle in the Mekong Delta.

Or near the 38th parallel.

Or liberating what’s left of a fucking Nazi death camp.   Endure any of those things, then you can tell me you need a safe space and a therapy dog.

That’s all I have to say.

(Turns on mic on last time, then releases it from hand to drop on the ground to imply righteous indignation)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

An Untitled Ode

If I were asked to name a new rock band, I’d call it Ava’s Gardner.

I thought about that while waiting in line at the Walgreen’s in my hamlet.   I know it would only be  funny to ‘people of a certain age’, still,  I found it funny.

Then, I pulled up to the clerk behind the bullet proof glass and the metal drawer that when fed various forms of negotiable currency,  magically dispenses all kinds of drugs that are supposed to help combat issues associated with ‘people of a certain age’.    If only the drug dealers of my wanton youth were as attentive and accommodating and NOT under DEA surveillance.   My bedside table looks like a crime scene photo from  Marilyn Monroe’s bedroom.    Like hers, my bedside table is littered  with amber hued plastic pharmaceutical bottles.  Unlike Marilyn’s collection of Big Pharma, my collection includes  none of the fun stuff.   Aging it seems, is a condition that must be treated medically.

In 1973,  when I transitioned from an  8th grader to a high school Freshman, I discovered FM rock stations.   What a concept.   No AM static or hiss or loss of signal when you drove under an overpass.   Even standard songs that ran amuck on AM station playlists sounded better on FM.    I remember one of the first songs I heard on this amazing new format–’twas aural splendor.  It was an Elton John tune that was a few years old and rarely played then, much less now.  It was entitled Friends, from the French movie of the same name, about two young teen lovers (a term I loathe).  The beginning of the second verse is as follows:

“It seems to be crime that we should age….”

Turn 14 and all that that implies, and listen to those lyrics and try NOT to experience new-found teenage angst and existential doubt.

Funny how amplified a pimple, a break up, an unrequited crush, a mid-term exam, the prom, being popular or not, can be everything at one point in life.  How small the world is in the life a young teen in a free society circa 1973

In those years, all I wanted to do was experience what my new masters, the surges of estrogen, were commanding me to do.   But mother didn’t like it.   To her, I’d become  a problem child.    I proclaimed  her “pubic” enemy #1.   I matured faster than my two older sisters who were more demure and feared her.   I didn’t.  The fact that I would  argue and debate points  WHY I’m should be allowed to attend a senior party, were lost on her.  She didn’t see it as burgeoning negotiation skills.  It was me being a sassy.  A smarty pants.      It’s as if she viewed my larger boobs as dousing rods that would lead to bad behavior.   She was very strict based on reasons she couldn’t explain.   I was actually very normal for my age, but she was intent on coloring me abnormormal, compared to the two daughters she’d previously raised.   I was constantly threatened with being sent to a convent school and forced to see priests and shrinks because she couldn’t understand me.

It wasn’t long before I realized our mother/ daughter dynamic was textbook skewed.    She knew it too.  The truth is, she was hardly the mother that a girl like me should have had and I wasn’t  the daughter that  a woman like her should have had.    We’re were misplaced in each other’s lives.  We were a living conundrum–very much alike while also being polar opposites.

She was/ is short in stature and even shorter now, and even though I surpassed her in height decades ago, she has always been nine feet tall,  completely imposing in her very counteneance.   I saw that as a challenge.     I’d get grounded, but felt it worth it if I got a good line in as my two week sentence was being handed down.

It took a number of years before I understood her as a woman with issues of her own.

She turned 86 in June.   She is slow and doddering, her memory will lapse, she searches for words and can stand  with vacant eyes, her mouth agape until what ever synapse starts firing normally again.   She’s now at that point where if she can’t remember it, it didn’t happen.    “Damn liar!”,  I’ve decided, is a term of endearment.

It’s taken years to understand how unkind onset of senility can be.   

She has good days.   She has bad days.  She has aches and pains.   She’s deaf and refuses to wear her hearing aid.   She’s often grumpy.   Her front and back bumpers of her car are mosaics of colors from things she’s  bumped into.    The familial discussions about additional care and imposing new restrictions such as allowing her to continue to get behind the wheel, are becoming more frequent.     It’ll enrage her to learn she can longer drive. But we would do it for her own good though she’ll compare to a stint in Abu Graib?

It was her choice to move into a lovely semi independent home earlier this year, though  she doesn’t socialize with her fellow residents.   She talks more openly about her death, a topic I hate, but I know it’s my duty as her daughter to remain quiet and absorb everything she says as opposed to denying her the priveledge.   After growing up in The Depression, after watching friends and brothers  leave to fight in World War II or Korea and never return home; after all she’s witnessed, such as  the advent of TV, astronaut Neil Armstrong take one giant leap for  mankind…and after giving birth to two compliant  daughters and one ABC After School Special (aka me), she’s earned that right to talk about her life and the end of it.

It’s taken a few years to appreciate aging along side my mother.

It’s odd that we’ve finally reached something akin to a canvass  of common ground that’s painted as gray as our hair and on a landscape of  mirroring wrinkles.

My two sisters see her once a month.  Her decline is more obvious to them.  But I notice it too.   Often, from day to day.

But despite that, life goes on thankfully and I’m renewed in some way that we still argue, we still have distinctly different views on almost everything but we have a better understanding of each other which remains unacknowledged.    And that’s okay.   We’ve never been demonstrative in word or deed.  She told me she loved me by giving me coupons for products I liked or  highlighting newspaper articles about weight loss, a knee with encroaching arthritis or how  to find THEE man of my dreams.    I’m emotionally awkward too, though I can say I love you easier than she can.  She’ll say it in return if told first, but she never initiates it.

And that’s okay, too.

I understand so much more than I did at eight or 18 or 38 or 58, which if you must know, staring me down in a matter of months.

The reality is my time with her grows short.   Someday, sooner rather than later,  the phone will ring and life as I’ve known it, will cease.  One day, I know I’ll miss being told no with a hand slap,  or that what I’m wearing, watching, reading,  driving, drinking and thinking is all wrong for me.   I’ll miss hearing  my hairstyle is 20 years too young for me and there no more be questions about the  eye liner I’ve applied being or something from the Slut Line of cosmetics.    She’s old, but still biting.

I’ll even miss being called a Communist spinster with a bad attitude;  hearing the  constant criticism that comes with wearing bra that’s completely ill-fitting for a woman with what she calls, some “heft”.

Someday, she’ll be gone.

And it will take years for me to get over it.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Will of Elizabeth Edwards

She died in early December  and I will admit, I was saddened by the news.  It didn’t matter that we all knew her death was inevitable…cancer  ensured  that.   Still, that knowledge didn’t make it any easier and her death was one that could be mourned regardless of your political opinion.  

For Elizabeth, I ached.  I pitied her, but that always gave way to admiration.   She was stalwart in her personal battle to live and die  as she chose.  I respected her, but I can’t say that for the man she married, a truly arrogant sociopath in my opinion.   That’s why I couldn’t help but smile when I learned  that  the will she signed days before her death last month makes no mention of her estranged husband and two-time presidential candidate John Edwards.

Elizabeth Edwards left all her possessions to her three surviving children.     That should come as no surprise, really.  The Edwards separated early last year after 32 years of marriage. John Edwards admitted he fathered a child during an affair with a former campaign worker.

That’s when he wasn’t blowing campaign dollars on hundred-dollar haircuts.

John Edwards’ idiocy has never ceased to amaze me.  The man is a decent head of hair with the integrity of a polyp.  That’s all.   He’s a handsome face that  morphs into something incredibly ugly and grotesque once you get to know more about him.  I’ve never laid eyes on him, but I wouldn’t need to in order to know that vapidity completely engulfs his baby blues.   His lack of substance is amazing.   That he made it as far as he did politically is a testament to his cunning  pathology.

If you wonder about  my vitriol, it’s deeply rooted.  I’ve  been the daughter of and the girlfriend of infidelity more times than I care to admit.  It creates a searing pain, like red-hot metal to skin and it brands one bitter and cynical.  That said, I will always indict John Edwards in my own court of  opinion, no matter what he does.  That’s his penance in Laurie Kendrick’s penal system.   In my eyes, he’ll  never be able to recover from this heinousness.  And while I questioned Elizabeth for staying with him as long as she did, I applauded her for leaving when she did because she left as her illness was winning the battle.  That had to have been egregiously difficult.   I would like to think she did it out of principle.  I would like to think this allowed her to die  feeling  less physically and emotionally encumbered by that man and his thoughtless, selfish actions.

And all of this happened–the affair, the very public betrayal, the realization that a child had been fathered and all of the ensuing humiliation–as she was being  handed a death sentence.  But sheer will took over;  she courageously died on her own terms.   In doing so, there was victory in her life’s defeat.    

So rest well, Elizabeth.  You’ve earned that right.

Hold your son, Wade in your arms and greet the eternal light, free of the things that others instigated in your lives.  No more  pain, sadness, fear, want or loneliness.

We asked for signs
the signs were sent:
the birth betrayed
the marriage spent
Yeah the widowhood
of every government —
signs for all to see.

Ring the bells that still can ring …
Forget your perfect offering
There is a crack, a crack in everything
That’s how the light gets in.

–Leonard Cohen, “Anthem”

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Something For Walter

walter1.jpg

I must request that you indulge me in something.  

I need to take a break from the madness; my madness and remember someone who was very close to me.  Someone I miss a great deal.

Walter Minter Tarpley was my best friend.  

We had a strangely initmate love/hate relationship that only a gay man and a straight woman can have.  Our disagreements could divide a nation; our good times often bordered on criminal, but life with Walter was so much fun.    My life with him was amazing.  

He didn’t believe in much, except that a good time was had by all .    His circle was small and I always felt quite honored to have stood at one of the corners.   Circle in a square; square in a circle and somehow, it…we always fit.     He could be extremely cavalier at times and his carelessness bothered me, but then again, he made me realize that I wasn’t really the hip, happenin’ chick I thought I was.   He was liberall;  Tim Robbins liberal.   I was Conservative and becoming more so as each year passed.  It had gotten to the point that I was inching toward being politically on par with Elizabeth Dole, save for the fuel injected Southern hair.  

We argued about the ever growing abyss between the two parties, but we learned to sway the topic if politics reared its head.   And despite our differences, we cared a great deal for each other.   Our first outing together was  Halloween in 2005.  We made a vow that we would always spend Halloween together.   We had a wonderful time that night and the next day, I had a tough time working because I kept laughing at the things we’d done..said…felt.  I remember thinking that day that we’d be friends forever; but forever only lasted two years.  

He died on July 4th 2007, a mere nine days after being diagnosed with AIDS-related pneumocystis pneumonia.   

We used to go out and make merry every Halloween and frankly, I can’t let another one go by without honoring my best friend and remembering how his life cand death, altered the course of mine.

I wrote this post three years and a half years ago.     I republish it today.

For Walter.

Twenty years ago, I dreamed of meeting one  special man that I could be friends with for the rest of my life…one man to laugh with, cry with….share my most intimate thoughts with.

He was given to me on a warm and sunny August day in 2005.

Walter came into my life quite by surprise, but hardly by accident. He sent me an e-mail at the radio station where I worked. It took no time at all for us to become friends and when we did, I found that I adored Walter.  He was devilishly handsome, brilliant, crass but polished, opinionated, fearless, acerbic, openly gay and hilarious.

To me, he was Perfection.

He was also a tortured soul. As was I, when we met. One would think that two fractured people would just create a pile of emotional shards. But that wasn’t the case with us. We seemed to provide the bonding needed to keep each other together. I think it was laughter that served as the consummate adhesive. We became best friends.

My relationship with Walter was rather cloistered. Few people understood our connection. I’m not sure even we understood the degree of our closeness. That was fine with us; we preferred it that way. When other people listened to us speak, it was as if we were speaking Esperanto. We jokingly said we spoke “TarKen”; our own language which was interspersed with many expletives and the requisite “Filthy” and “Dirty”, all spoken in a feigned British accent we used.

Few “got us” and that was OK.  We held on to each other, only letting go only when the other stepped free, but even so, the bond was never completely broken.   We were content  knowing that we’d found each other. We were happy to have found a certain “punctuation” to the paragraph of our lives.

We just clicked; my cup to his saucer—mismatched, chipped and crazing down the center, but still beautiful, even in it’s damaged state. Perfectly flawed.

Walter entered my life at a time I needed him most. He brought joy and laughter where there was none. He helped me learn to live again.   In fact, he was best time I’ve ever had. He felt like home. Comfortable, safe and secure. Like a hug, accented with the aroma of freshly baked chocolate chip cookies, wrapped in a soft, familiar blanket.   He never dismissed me or made me feel anything less than extraordinary.

He was never aloof, nor did he ever exist passively in my life. He was a willing participate–fully involved, concerned and more importantly, he was there when I needed him. We were good about being there for each other. Walter understood that Life is inconvenient. So is Love. Neither will ask for permission and both can be obtrusive.   Still, he was never too busy for me, even when I was.  He was kind in the sense that he never decreed me as anything other than one of his very best friends. What an incredible honor!

Make no mistake, we had issues.  We had our disagreements which were legendary. And vicious!! Imagine a film recording of Joan Crawford telling off the board of Pepsico on a continuous loop that plays at painful decibels.We never stayed mad at each other;  at least, not that long.

Ultimately with Walter, I always felt loved. Unconditionally so. I could be thin, pudgy, hair perfect or teased up to a dizzying Elsa Lancaster’s Bride of Frankenstein height. I could be sans make-up or with a full compliment and wearing something that fashion-wise, would’ve have been considered only luke-warm from five seasons earlier. That didn’t matter.

To Walter, I was always just Laurie. No pretense.

To me, he was always Walter. No pretense.

One night he asked me why I couldn’t have been born a gay man. On that particular day, I had to fire six members of my staff. I was crying in his arms. I was wearing this silk blouse with, pink feather scuffs. I looked up at him, mascara streaming down my face and said, “Take one look at me, Walter. Look at what I’m wearing then take a gander at my make-up! I have to ask you, what makes you so sure I’m not?”

Our friendship was enduring and so incredibly special.  We had this idea that we’d grow old together. That we’d live long enough to comb gray hair, use our AARP discounts at dinner, complain about arthritis and those damn kids and their crazy music. We thought surely one day, I’d be Blanche to his Baby Jane. Aging wouldn’t matter as long as we could view the process through each other’s eyes. Together.

But the Universe had other plans. It gave me Walter, but the one thing it couldn’t give me was a relationship with him that could be measured in years. He was only in my life for a mere 23 months. That was all. Even though I have many brilliant memories that could rival the most dazzling, star-filled constellations, I felt this was and still is so incredibly unfair.   I wasn’t ready to say goodbye. I’m still not. My first hello to him–seemingly uttered just yesterday– still resonates on my lips!!

I wanted more time.  No, I needed more time for one last look at his wonderfully handsome face; one more chance to absorb the warmth of his smile; to hear that wicked, wicked laugh; to read his soulful eyes; to feel the touch of his hand.

I grapple with the Divine more than I care to admit and when Walter got sick, I felt angry.  When he died, I felt cheated.  I’m told that people are put in our paths for special reasons.  Sometimes,  it’s to force us to give of ourselves and sometimes it’s for us to receive.   If so, then that means sadly, tragically, these beautiful, divine human gifts must also leave our lives for special reasons.     Why Walter left mine is something I’ll never, ever understand,  but I know why he came into my life. And that was to save my life  and as a result, I’m a much wiser and richer woman for my all too brief experience with this angel.   

I love Walter and always will.

His death cannot negate my feelings or the relationship I’ll continue to have with him. The love lives on because I do. And I live on because this precious man gave me a reason to do so.   His friendship in many, many ways gave my life back to me.

I went to his memorial service and saw his ravaged body lying in the coffin.   He would’ve hated that.   He would’ve loathed how his make-up had been applied and how badly he looked.   I made myself look at him,  I needed to see him one last time.   I fought the urge to cry as I touched his withered and drawn face.   I stood there and actually mustered a smile for a few fleeting moments as I thought about the strange, cyclical nature of life and how for every mortal journey, death is the final destination. 

This was Walter’s time to die, but unlike so many people, Walter also knew how to live.  And for an all too brief moment in time, his beautiful life intersected mine.

And I am so incredibly grateful.

Twenty years from now, I’ll dream of how I met that one  special man who I wanted to be friends with for the rest of my life…one man I laughed with, cried with…shared my most intimate thoughts with.

And I’ll remember how he was taken from me on a warm and rainy July day in 2007.

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Observations On Ted Kennedy’s Funeral

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There’s something  extremely interesting about watching a Kennedy in the process of being a Kennedy.   Tragically, funerals seem second nature to this family.   They’ve had many opportunities to fine tune this almost preternatural ability to mourn with grace and dignity.  

Because it seems death has never taken a holiday from menacing the Kennedy family on a fairly regular basis, one might ask (as one has many times before) is there a curse attached to Joseph Kennedy’s extended family?  

Who can say, but I would think you take your chances when you’re wife gives birth to nine children.   Then,  those nine grow up to become equally prolific.     The larger the family; the more your increase your odds that well, in the simplest of terms, shit is going to happen.  

It is true that some Kennedy’s seem to die more tragically then most people, though.   Joe Jr. died in the midst of a military mission.  Kathleen died in a plane crash in the mid-40’s, Rosemary was born a tad slower than the rest of her siblings and her very proud father who couldn’t handle having a daughter who wasn’t as full of the same “vim, vitality and uh, viguh”  like his other children, had her lobotomized.   John and Robert were murdered; one while in the Oval Office;  the other while trying to get there.    There were the overdoses, the car accidents; the skiing mishap, the illnesses, the rape trial and of course, John Jr’s. plane crash.

What kills Kennedy’s?   Arrogance might be a factor, but plain old life and it’s “luck of the draw” randomness plays a role, to.

I wouldn’t think it easy to be a member of this clan.  I would think it to be quite touch in fact.   The legacy of public service;  that of achievement.   I would find it daunting to be a Kennedy.   Yet, they come together for family events..the happy evens and the sad ones and each seem to know the role they play. 

Teddy knew his.  He assumed the role of patriarch after Bobby was killed in 1968.     That only made him more visible and that only amplified the many mistakes he made in life.   Well, that and simply being potential headline that every Kennedy seems to be.

I knew several people who refused to watch the funeral because they couldn’t separate the man from his misdeeds.    I won’t chastise them for that.   Free will, you know?    Despite my feelings for the man, his actions and his politics, I decided to watch his funeral because if for nothing else, there is something  fascinating about watching this family as they try to hold the unit together…even though it slowly shrinks by attrition and time.

Just on a surface level, I must say this:  the organ playing left much to be desired.  I’ve never sat down at a huge, wall-to-wall Wurlitzer before and I’ve never tried to play one.   I can imagine that the prowessand dexterity needed to play must be incredible.   OK, I’ll give you that, but I do believe dexterity was an issue today, because I think I heard some “misplays” on the keys.

Secondly, did anyone else notice how hollow and old Bill Clinton is looking?   He’s pale and his stark, ruddy looking nose  and a swollen, reddish face only contrasts the difference.   Why the red nose I wonder?  Well, I could venture about three decent guesses, but I won’t.  Not here; not now.  Plus, as Clinton  was standing in a pew,  holding a funeral card, his hand shook vehemently.   Palsy-like.     It was odd.

And frankly, during the Intercession of Prayers when younger family members stood up and offered them, I was made a little uneasy and frankly, I didn’t appreciate the way they were politicized.    Health care was mention–that it should be a right and not a privilege.

One child mentioned his uncle’s desire to end all war.

Basic human rights for every one:  man, woman…gay and straight.

Then, Obama stood up before God and man and hit home more agenda driven comments that he should have omitted.

I’m all for peace.  I’m all for decent health care that makes sense to every American and not some knee jerk response to asuage a political mind set.   I love my gay friends and wish them access to tha  which makes them happy and feel equal.

But to extol these things out of the mouths of young children and in a Catholic church at a funeral for a man who’s own life was often tarnished by his own actions????

No.

If rhetoric like this was spewed forth during a Conservative’s funeral, the media would be all over it.  

Funerals are a signifying event which in no uncertain terms, commemorate a life lived; the ultimate indication of change.

They are not, nor should they ever be political rallies.   

Ted Kennedy’s life was not exemplary, regardless of how his family and political colleagues try to paint it post script.  His funeral never should have been as polarizing as his life had been and personally, I found many of the comments quite polarizing…especially in that they well placed during a nationally televised broadcast of a funeral.

That said, his life should have ended differently–his painful battle with brain cancer not withstanding.  This is just my opinion only, but there should have been more across the board closure involved with this ceremony of closure.   

And sadly, politicizing a funeral mass was not the way to do it.

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Faith Or Ignorance?? You Tell Me

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Having reported on the news most of my professional career, it’s truly the last thing I want to encounter in my life as a civilian.   I am blissfully unaware of most current events.   The story your about to read unfolded throughout most of  2008, but I only recently found out about it.

Here’s the story:

Wisconsin father, Dale Nuemann, charged last October with reckless homicide for not taking his dying daughter to a doctor, told police that he believed God would heal her.  He went on to say that when she lapsed into a coma, he merely thought she was sleeping.

Eleven-year-old Madeline Neumann lost a battle with undiagnosed diabetes in March of 2008 at her family’s rural Wisconsin home.   She lying on the floor, surrounded by people who’d been praying for healing.    It wasn’t until she stopped breathing that someone finally called 911.

Prosecutors say her father, Dale Neumann, had a legal obligation take his dying daughter to a doctor or a hospital.

Neumann told investigators that in the weeks leading up to Madeline’s death, he noticed that was a “little weak and a little slower,” something he attributed to puberty. Her condition deteriorated, and the day before her death,  Madeline could no longer walk or talk.

“We just trusted the Lord for complete healing,” he said. “We didn’t really sense it was like a life-and-death situation. We figured there was something really fighting in her body. We asked people to join with us in prayer agreement.”

Neumann said it never crossed his mind that his daughter might have lost consciousness.

According  to Neumann,  “I didn’t believe at all that the Lord would even allow her to pass.”

Neumann also told detectives that even though he’s convinced “sickness is a result of sin”, his daughter’s death hasn’t shaken his faith or belief system.

The family does not belong to an organized religion, and Neumann’s wife, Leilani testified that she and her husband have nothing against doctors. But, she said, she viewed Madeline’s illness as “something spiritual.”

Leilani Neumann was convicted of second-degree reckless homicide this spring and faces up to 25 years in prison..

Dr. Joseph Monaco, who worked on Madeline in the hospital emergency room, said she was “very, very emaciated and wasted physically.”

I hear stories like this and I get very angry.  And not only that, people like this make me angry.  I’m talking about those who believe God will handle everything in a flash, like one of Samantha Stevens’ (TV’s “Bewitched”) magical finger snaps. 

As if even Almighty God can take someone in the latent stages of Level 4 Cancer; when the death rattle has begun, that suddenly  He/She will make that poor emaciated creature well, then hope on out of their one-time death bed ready to dance a hula.

I wonder when people (even those who are limited in scope as the Nuemanns) will understand that God isn’t this better-than-a Vegas-act magician!!   Sure, mmiraculous events still happen these days.  Granted, they’re not as convincing as the Bible would have us believe, but miracles still occur.  The problem is people aren’t aware of them, or take them for granted.  It’s hard not to witness childbirth or a massive suspended bridge connecting two land masses across a huge body of water and not marvel at the miracle of technology.

But technology isn’t magic.  It’s applied science.  Therefore, I suppose my question at this point is when will people understand that God isn’t magic?   And when we people understand the role they play in their own survival?

I’m not an incredibly Godly woman.  While I believe in a very defined higher power that works for me, I also believe in the power we have within us.  God given power, one could say. I believe in our power to affect change and that covers an extremely broad scope.  

 The Nuemanns are what I called “literalists”.  They can’t see beyond the words of the Bible that they firmly believe are ccompletely infallible.  

OK, cool whatever floats your boat, but if they would have chosen to educate themselves to what exists beyond the scope of  this book’s text (and sorry people, but we’re talking about a book here, that no matter how you slice it, was physcially written by man) they wouldn’t both be facing lengthy jail sentences.. They are guilty of ignorance, extreme provincial thinking and misappropriation of faith.  In my opinion, they’re faith is wrong.   It’s oddly scoped.   They are entitled to believe as they see fit, but where has it gotten them?   Jail time and a daughter who’s dead.  I pity them them for thinking that all illnesses are the result of sin.  That speaks volumes about these people.

Sadly, they were looking for a miracle; one of those Lazarus type resurrection deals. At the time that happened and if that ever happened in the first place, that could have been described as such solely for the benefit of an even more ignorant and unenlightened group of people…..early man.  

You know, the needed the magic to believe.

What the Nuemanns failed to realize in their own (and yes, I’ll say it) STUPIDITY is that had they taken their daughter to a hospital, she would probably still be alive.   And if anyone would like to take that further and split hairs, we can do that:  That said, one then could argue that God paved the way for medical technology to be as cutting edge as it is today.  He gave people the drive and the intellect to invent these mmiraculous processes, such as dialysis, tumor removal and neurosurgery.  The list is endless.

 Go have a mole removed by laser surgery and then argue that point with me.

I don’t have more to say about the subject other than it reminds of a parable I’ve heard for years.

A man  was caught in a terrible flash flood. 

He prayed, “Lord, save me!” 

Shortly after his prayer, a boat paddled towards him and the people urged the man to get in.

“No thank-you”, said the man, “The Lord is going to save me”.

An hour later, a motor boat drove by and the people urged the man to get in.

“No thank you”, said the man, “The Lord is going to save me”.

The water continued to rise; so much so that the rescue efforts were significantly hampered. The man, at this point, was clinging to the roof-top; floodwaters were about to completely engulf him.   He knew his life stood in the balance.    Then suddenly, a helicopter flew overhead and lowered a rope ladder next to him as he clung to the roof for life.

“Don’t worry about me. The Lord is going to save me”.  

Shortly after that, the man drowned.

As he stood before God in Heaven, he asked Him, “Lord, I trusted in You–Why didn’t You save?”

“Save you???”, replied God, “I sent you two boats and a helicopter! What else did you expect?”

Well, there you go.

Maybe it’s just me, but I do believe that sometimes we haveto make the effort to see the ecclesiastical forest for the trees.  As this case perfectly exemplifies, do the alternatives really give us much of an option otherwise?l

 

Walter Cronkite 1916-2009

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Ninety-two years.    That’s a tremendous lifespan for anyone, but it’s especially long for a journalist.   My people aren’t known for their healthy lifestyles.

Walter was born in Missouri, but his family moved to Houston where he wascronkite raised.  He had the good sense to attend the University of Texas where he persued a Journalism degree and worked for a small Austin radio station as a sports anchor.   He was fired by a boss who told him he’d never make it in the biz.    So very often, this declarative  from station managers has preceded some of the most successful careers.

And Cronkite’s career exemplified success.

Upon news of Cronkite’s death Friday night, I was asked if he had any influence on my decision to venture into the crazy world of broadcasting.   I didn’t know the answer to that question, but later realized there was no way he could not have influenced me.

I was raised with Walter Cronkite.  I learned about the latest anti-war protests on some college campus.    I learned about the number of B-52’s that were downed in Vietnam that day; he told me about the latest firefight over some jungle hilltop and I knew the number of body bags that would soon be returning to the States.

My earliest memory of Walter Cronkite was at four years of age.   Few believe  I can remember anything about the Kennedy assination on November 22, 1963  but I’ve recited  certain facts of the day that my mother verifies.   Cronkite is part of that memory.   My mother was rocking me after lunch in an attempt to get me to take my nap and she was doing so while watching her favorite soap opera, “As The World Turns”.   I remember the screen went black and suddenly Cronkite’s voice  broke the silence and announced that JKF had been shot while riding in a motorcade through downtown Dallas.    A few minutes later, he came back on to announce that Kennedy had died.  My mother, then a card carrying Democrat, started to cry and a few minutes later, so did Cronkite.

He did something that no network anchor had done before:  he showed his emotions.

He didn’t sob; he didn’t wail, there was no gnashing of teeth.  It was brief and polite and all things considered, it was appropriate.  Nevertheless,  I think it stunned some people.     America was used to seeing their stoic, stone-faced network news anchors in overtly humanistic roles.    

But Cronkite changed that.

And the man didn’t hide his boyish enthusiasm when Neil Armstrong landed the lunar module on the surface of the moon.      I was ten on July 20, 1969.   I had been raised with the space program.  By that time, even landing on the moon bore a degree of  mundanity  for me, but  for my parents, their contemporaries and Cronkite who were raised in a world of limitations,  improbabilities and Flash Gordon, landing on the moon and the journey it took to get there, was colossal.

While my TV relationship  with Walter Cronkite started waning in the mid 70’s,  my appreciation for his style, his efforts and his professionalism never ceased.   As network news shows go, Huntley and Brinkley did it first, but Walter did it better.

He was called, ‘the most trusted man in America” and we believed it…perhaps for reasons we still don’t know.   You just had a sense with  daily ministrations of Cronkite’s baritone and often monotone delivery, you were getting nothing but the facts; the real story.   He would have never made the news he was reporting.

He would never have called President Bush (41) a wimp to his face;  he would never have launched a smear campaign against a sitting president (Bush 43) by publically maligning and bending reality regarding his military history.

Cronkite would never have done half the things that so many newscasters do today.

It’s odd, you know…odd when you reach a certain age and you start to look at things differently.   Life and death and the fine line which separates them while not foremost on your mind, becomes more of a concern.   I’ve been thinking about Cronkite’s life.   It spanned 92 years.  He saw war,  death and violence and he saw wrongs that were never made right.   He reported on good things too I suppose, but those so rarely ever get press.

I made it a point to watch Cronkite’s last newscast in 1983 and I remember doing so with a slight lump in my throat.   Not because I was some ardent fan and not because I was in Journalism school at the time and there because I had been duly inspired by his 19 year reign as America’s premier newsman.   I watched because goodbyes are often historic and this one was.    His departure also represented the end of an era and sadly, the beginning of a new one.

I firmly believe network news coverage changed after Cronkite left the anchor desk and it’s only gotten worse since news programming has become so ubiquitous in recent years.    News people are now TV stars more than anything else.  Beauty has replaced ability.    Ken dolls anchor while Barbie and a cadre of hair and make-up stylists are out in the field reporting on day ten of  Michael Jackson’s allegedly mottled penis and how it once owned a set of Ghandi’s gilded steak knives.

When Cronkite left, so did many if the good things about network news.  

Nuetrality died.

And sadly, that’s the way it is.

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