Facing the Prospect of Certain Death

A bull is running in the dirt with people watching.

We have had a lot of trouble with Canadian geese coming up the creek bank into our backyard, eating the grass, and pooping all over the place. We really wouldn’t mind them being in the yard if they didn’t leave such a mess. Jerilyn’s nickname for them is “poopin’ geeseâ€. Each time we see them climb the bank into the yard, I quickly go out to the garage, get a pocket full of marbles and my trusty slingshot, and head out back determined to scare the “bejesus†out of them. However, as soon as they see me, they head for the creek bank and then fly off far enough so they are out of my range. It has become a mission for me, and I suppose by them, to see who wins this battle. I can only assume that we  have the best tasting grass in the neighborhood because our neighbors aren’t as bothered with them as much , and yet they continue to climb up into our yard. There is a saying that “Courage comes when you have nothing left to loseâ€, and I have to give those geese credit because they just keep on coming back and I just keep on shootin’ at them. I guess their attitude is that danger passes by those brave enough to face up to it (if geese can have an attitude).

I ordered Apple’s newest gadget (iPad) the other day, and I’m anxiously awaiting its arrival. At my age you would think that me owning the latest thing would be the farthermost thing from my mind, but to me, if the world is truly round, I should always be standing in the middle of it and staying current helps me do that. Fortunately, I am aware that other things are just as important, and I strive to include many things in my life. I make a concentrated effort to keep in contact with family and friends, and I have observed that a lot of those same people, whom I care about, fail to do that (thankfully, some do). I received a letter the other day from a woman who is the mother of a childhood friend. She told me of the health problems she was having and the pain in her words leapt from the page and saddened me. At 90, the pain of writing a letter entailed a lot of effort, but she was willing to do it and to reach out to me. I called my aunt Helen the other day on her 86th birthday and had a delightful conversation. I have a cousin in West Virginia that I talk to weekly. Somehow, I guess the point I’m making here is that even though I enjoy current things,  the most important things in my life is contact with people whom I’m close to.

Jerilyn and I are have completed our planed  trip to New York this month . Her sister-in-law (Marion) is experiencing some health problems and we have tried to get up there, but were also in the midst of moving her mother from the Independent Living section of her retirement community to the Health Care unit. Once that move was complete, we went to NY to see what we could do to help.   Marion is a delightful person.   Sadly, she lost her husband of 44 years last year and now she is struggling with her health. Life seems to be so unfair at times. I know that it is a stream of peaks and valleys, but there are times when it really seems like we stay in the valleys a lot!

Years ago, a childhood friend agreed to help my dad, my brother and I castrate the two pigs our family was raising. Reese was, perhaps, the biggest and strongest boy in our small coal camp and since dad had let the pigs get larger than he should have before performing this necessary medical procedure, Reese was the very guy we needed to help hold those pigs down while dad performed the necessary surgery. Reese had the two front legs, Jerry and I had the two hind legs, dad dipped his knife into some sort of solution and began to slice. That pig’s squeal could be heard 10 miles down the valley as it used all it’s strength attempting to break free from the maniacs hovering over it. What made that event memorable was not, sadly, the pigs great distress, but due to the pig being older than it should be for that operation, it had enormous strength and that strength made Reese use all his strength to hold that pig in place and in doing so his pants ripped down the seam in the back. We prevailed, dad popped out both testicles and we move on to the next pig knowing what to expect. Sure enough, the 2nd pig required as much effort as the first one and the squealing echoed up and down the valley. After it was over, we sat down exhausted and thankful that we had brought Reese along with us.  Without him, we would never have completed that job. Nevertheless, we all had a good-natured laugh about Reese splitting his pants.  He seemed to be worried about what his mom would say when he got home. I don’t recall if his mother was upset or not, but being the wonderful Christian woman she was, I doubt seriously that she did anything. To this day Reese remains a good friend, and we exchange emails often. Ah, at my leisure, I like visiting with infinity.

A good friend came over for a visit the other day. Dale and I worked together for years, I retired in 2006, and he retired shortly afterwards even though he is several years younger than me. At work, I nicknamed him “iron man†because he was capable of working several 16 hour shifts in succession.  He was good at his job, and his carryover report to the next shift was always excellent. Unlike most of us, he had no fear of work.  His attitude was “you can’t wait for inspiration, you have to go after life with a clubâ€. He has always had the coolest cars and his boats were always impressive. Anyway, the other day he called and said he was coming over to bring a microwave that Jerilyn’s oldest grandson could use at college. Now, I don’t know what you know about pickup trucks, but I know about them because we have one, and I’m here to say that the one he drove into our driveway is one helluva truck. This thing looks like it’s a mile long, has dual wheels on the back, solid black with lots of chrome, and appears to be strong enough to tow our house down the street. This truck is King Kong in the valley of apes! I asked him, “Dale, how long have you owned this truck?â€. He replied that he hasn’t had it very long and that he needed it to pull his 28 foot boat. Dale doesn’t brag about things he owns, matter of fact, he is one of the most modest people I know and would give you the shirt off his back if he thought you truly needed it. He sat with me for a while, outback on a bench that faced down the creek toward the ocean that lay several miles beyond, and we talked of old times. I could not think of a better way to spend an afternoon then to spend it with an old friend talking of things in another world, in another life. Have you ever sat down and pondered about how many people you know quite well? Well, I’m glad to say that I know quite a few people quite well and my friend Dale is one of them.

When I was a very young (7-8 yrs old), grandpa Hale owned a bull that stayed in a field close to the home place. The field was fenced in and the bull wasn’t allowed out. One cold wintery day grandpa took me into the field with him to administer some type of medication to that humongous animal . He left me at a spot around 50 feet from the bull, and he walked up the hill toward it. As he got close, the bull came charging down the hill towards me, a skinny little kid with no idea what to do in a situation like that. As he approached, I could see his intentions were evil, and he was about to stick one of his big horns somewhere in me that was going to hurt awfully bad.  Just as the thought ran thru my mind that there was no way to avoid this 800 pound of destructive flesh, I arched my back inward and the horn cleared me by inches. I have often reflected on what my life would have been like had that bull been more accurate with those two pointy things of his. I’m sure it would have been much less an enjoyable journey. I remember grandpa running down the hill to see if I was ok, and I recall that he was as white-faced as I must have been. Grandpa never said he loved me, he wasn’t that type of guy, but at that very moment I could tell that he did. Somehow, that made facing the prospect of certain death, or injury, worth it.

The other night Jerilyn and I were returning home from an entertainment venue that we visit often. Our good friends, Don & Louise, were with us, the time was late, and we were chatting as I drove, about the nights events. Suddenly, a possum came running into the road in front of me. Clunk, clunk went the tires as the poor thing was sent scurrying on his way to eternity, or wherever animals go on transition. I have no idea why killing that animal bothers me, but it does. We humans are accustomed to killing animals for food, or because they pose a threat. To kill an animal for a good reason is one thing, but killing one accidentally, or for sport is another. If we cannot recognize that other living creatures have as much a right to exist as we do then, maybe somewhere down the road, we begin to believe that people not like us no longer are entitled to exist. Is that why we have terrorist now? Is that why there is so much war among the mid-east nations? Is that why Hitler wanted to annihilate the Jews? As we drive thru areas that are heavily forested at night, we always post what we call “deer watchâ€. That responsibility falls to the person riding shotgun in the front passenger seat. Being assigned that responsibility requires one to scan the outer limits of the headlights to detect the presence of a deer. The sad thing here is, we do it because a deer can inflict a lot of damage to the front end of a car, not because we want to spare the deer (it can be safely said the only predator a deer has in our area is an automobile). I have no problem with hunters that kill deer for  food, but personally, I don’t want to kill one, and leave it on the side of the road to decompose. There is an old song with a verse that goes something like this, “Would you recognize Jesus as you drove down the road, if he wasn’t in a chariot, but a 49 Ford?â€. I think we should recognize Jesus in all things created by him and, furthermore, I believe killing things he created, without a good reason to do so, indicates we would never recognize him in that 49 Ford.

To send a letter is a good way to go somewhere

without moving anything but your heart…..Phyllis Theroux