The boy shared a room with his grandfather in the family, two bedroom attic apartment on the third floor of an old house. When his father’s father became ill they moved him in. Both the boy and his grandfather had something in common. They were both dependent on oxygen–the old man because of his emphysema and the little boy for his under-developed lungs. The doctors said his lungs were a quarter of the size they should have been.
THE BEDROOM WINDOW
Being on the third floor meant that neither of them got to leave their apartment because of the insurmountable stairs guarding them. Their own bodies even rejected the freedom for which they long hungered. The boy’s mom and dad both worked two jobs just to pay the bills. The grandfather tutored the ten-year-old at home. They had developed a routine. They woke early to watch the sunrise from their bedroom window,
then school, breakfast, school, nap, school, a meager lunch if they had anything, then school, nap, and, finally, to watch the sunset through the window. They shared supper…then to bed. Day after day they went through the same routine. Every other day a bath. The boy longed for adventures, so his grandfather told him tales of grand conquests, fighting pirates, saving mermaids, solving riddles with wizards. The boy did not know of a thing called fiction. He had no need to know that the stories were untrue as he would likely never be able to leave the attic.
The more books he read and tales he was told the less his and his grandfather’s wheezing sounded like wheezing. Rather, he heard floorboards creaking from pirates walking across the bow, and seagulls flying above the sea. His favorite story was Moby Dick. And his mind would often take him there when he would pass out or fall asleep from overexerting himself. He told Captain Ahab what a fool he was for wasting his adventurous potential on a suicidal quest for revenge. A one-legged man was better equipped for such tasks than a boy with only a quarter-sized functioning lung.
FAIRLY TALES AND ADVENTUROUS STORIES
In the summer he could keep the windows open, but it was late fall now and the air had turned cool and damp, two things that could quickly mean death. Being without a genie or unicorn hair, he kept the windows tightly shut; however, he knew to whom he could wish–the Winter Spirit,
JOLLY OL’ SAINT NICK
a jolly, old Fae who traveled the world in a sleigh on winter solstice day. Though in past years he had requested toys, books, writing paper and pens, but this year he decided to ask for something else. He decided to draw powerful magic to be able to breath on his own for an entire day. Not for a lifetime…merely a day–a lifetime for a child who cannot run, dance or play.
The jolly old Elf heard the boys spell and found the letter the boy washed down his well. Well, down his toilet–the closest thing to a wishing well the boy could get to.
Magic being a wondrous thing the letter grew wings and showed up where it was needed and the elf with a snort decided a breath of fresh air would be good for the sport. Not only that, with a twinkle and a wink the grandfather too got a jolt in his chest. Lungs, like balloons, filled with magic, and hope allowed them to breath. On that special day, the boy woke with a tiny fear. He didn’t hear wheezing, coughing or hacking. He worried he was alone, and his grandfather had moved on; which was not the case.
His grandfather was sitting up with a full-colored, rosy pink face. He and the boy had a good chase. With jubilee they skipped. When the boy’s mother rushed up to them, she shouted, and screamed. Seeing the two acting obscenely, she called to her husband, and he came in a flash to see his son for the first time dash about, singing aloud. Things the boy had never before been able to do.
The boy told his parents about the magic he had called upon. Knowing no better explanation, they were overjoyed with the result. They all dressed warmly and made their way down the stairs. The boy seeing for the first time the paper peeling off the walls and the ancient wooden stairs. His world expanded with each step, seeing everything for the first time. When they reached the door he stopped. Never having been outside since his infancy, he was cautious. He knew these steps would lead him to an adventure that would change his world, perhaps other’s world, as well.
They played in the snow, his mother weeping with glee. Her tears freezing to her smile as she helped her little boy build his first snowman.
The grandfather made snow angels. Then they all slid down the hill on their backs while laughing in the snow.
When the sun started to go down they went inside. They were very happy. They ate their cabbage broth soup and settled in. The boy making sure to put his and his grandfather’s oxygen back on because he knew the day’s magic would soon come to an end.
The grandfather passed before another year could be had. On the next Solstice the boy wished for wings, but they were not granted for his magic usage from the jolly old elf, Old Saint Nick, was spent. The boy grew up, lived and died in the attic apartment, but he never forgot the outside air and the love of his winter miracle.
I’m always amused by the TV advertisement where the character tells people in distress that he doesn’t fix a problem, he’s only a monitor. The announcer says, “Why monitor a problem if you don’t fix it?” As to our president-elect, we’re in that kind of a situation right now.
Over two and a half million people do not find it amusing!
A sufficient number of people, apparently, have elected a man to the presidency who is, at his best, frightening. If you’re not scared of a Donald Trump administration, you’ve not been paying attention.
PRESIDENT WARREN G. HARDING
He reminds me of Warren G. Harding, but there is a singular, conspicuous difference—Harding did not have access to nuclear weapons! As far as I know, Trump isn’t a drinker or gambler as Harding was, but Harding had a warm, endearing personality; whereas, Trump is thin-skinned, vindictive and unpredictable.
Trump even talks nuclear weapons! Remember, he said “If we have them, why can’t we use them?” Apparently, he hasn’t the foggiest notion the power unleashed by a nuclear weapon. I saw it firsthand during a test in 1962 while I was in the USAF.
Those people who think our military is deficient or lacks the strength and power have no idea how strong the U.S. military is. When I think about what it was like in 1962, fifty years later, now, with our new series of bombers and rockets, I’m very reassured that we can handle ourselves with anyone in the world.
NUCLEAR WEAPONS TEST (1962)
Our enemies–Iran, North Korea, Syria–know this! When we make them think we are weak, as Trump did during his campaign, it does us no good. As a matter of fact, it’s dumb!
NUCLEAR MUSHROOM CLOUD
We have the strongest, most capable military in the world…and we’ve never been afraid to use it. We’ve never had to be afraid. But we’ve always needed to be alarmed by talk about the use of nuclear weapons.
I have difficulty thinking of someone who attended Fordham and graduated from the Wharton School of Economics at the University of Pennsylvania as functionally illiterate. But, what we have on our hands is a sociopathic, narcissistic, habitual liar…a “con, a fraud,” Mitt Romney called him. Apparently, we have elected a womanizing, immoral, self-indulgent individual who obviously plans to use the high office of the presidency to enrich himself and his family. He is certainly already taking advantage of the opportunities to use his “position” as president-elect to negotiate or manipulate those foreign governments where he has holdings.
What we have is more than a sad day for America. We’re in the midst of a national crisis! Every person in a state where it is permissible should contact their electors and make a plea for voting for Hillary Clinton in the Electoral College. I’ve had lots of history courses and a course in constitutional law, and that’s the only way he can be stopped now…if the electors care enough about this country to do the right thing!
“Why monitor a problem if [we] don’t fix it?”
EDITOR’S NOTES: If you want to stay up on what’s happening around COLUMNIST WITH VIEW, click on HELLO, WORLD! If you found the editor’s page by being curious and clicking around, welcome. Come back often! HELLO, WORLD has been around since the webzine’s inception!
Theologians ask many questions. Who created the universe? Why are we here? Does God have a plan for our lives? But the most perplexing question is what happens to us after we die?
The world’s religions offer several responses to that question. Christianity teaches if we die in a state of grace, we go immediately to heaven, or if we die apart from grace we go directly to hell.
STONE CARVING OF BUDDHA
ARTIST’S PORTRAYAL OF “HELL”
Buddhism teaches, roughly, that all existence cycles through birth, life, death and rebirth. The soul survives physical death and enters a new body.
Hinduism teaches that life and death are both part of maya, a grand illusion. When a soul dies, it is born into a new body. The cycle of death and rebirth, or samsara, ends when the soul reaches its reason for being, sometimes called its true nature. At this point, it is one with the godhead, or Brahman.
Islam’s teaching is similar to Christianity. Those who follow Mohammed believe that when they die, they will be resurrected to stand before Allah on Judgment Day. Every person who has ever lived will be rewarded either with eternity in Heaven or eternity in Hell.
ARTIST PORTRAYAL OF JUDGEMENT DAY
In the Judao-Christian Bible an evolving pattern summarizes the beliefs of these religious persuasions. The soul is “restored.” The soul is “preserved.” And, the soul is “brought back from the pit.” According to an old gospel hymn, “The soul of man never dies.”
THE ASCENSION OF THE SOUL
Fairly recently, a new theory is being explored. It is called the “many interacting worlds’ hypothesis (MIW)…” This theory suggests “that parallel worlds exist” and that they can “interact with our world on the quantum level and are thus detectable.”
Needless to say, this concept is as complicated as quantum physics, and frankly, has one overriding, major problem scientifically. It cannot be tested. “Happenings in these proposed parallel worlds can thus only be imagined.”
When I read about the MIW, I immediately recognized that it coalesced with a long-held belief of mine, that there are many levels of existence. I have always referred to it as my Dimensional Theory of Existence (DTE). Simply, when the soul leaves this earthly body, it ascends to another plane, or dimension, where it continues to live and function in a spiritual body. It continues in this new dimension until it moves on to a higher dimension.
Because the thin veil between this spiritual existence on a higher dimension and our present existence, a loved one who has “passed on” may, under certain circumstances, shall I say, break through and return for a brief visit. Over the years, I have discovered that many people, including myself, have experienced these brief, spiritual episodes. When I talk about my experience, invariably the person I am talking to will tell about a similar experience of his or her own.
For years, I did not talk with many folks about my spiritual visitor, who happened to be my mother, but now I am more emboldened by the “many interacting worlds hypothesis (MIW) to do so.
ADDENDUM: Long after I published this article, I was editing a book by a gentlemen who had neither read this article or knew of my experience. I have omitted the names. This is what he wrote:
“I sat down on a stool at the counter at ….. It was a cold day, blustery. There were a few people sitting in booths and tables, no one I knew. Waitresses were scurrying around carrying trays. It was noisy, no music, just noise. Something distracted me, caused me to look up. I set my coffee cup down and looked toward the entrance.
“There was my old friend B….., big as life, walking straight in, straight towards me! I said, ‘Why hello B….., I don’t believe this. You’ve been gone, yes–you’ve been dead–for 15 years! He grinned that sheepish grin and started to say something. His eyes twinkled, his mouth moved but he made no sound. I reached out to him, extending my hand, rising from my stool. Suddenly he began to fade, to drift, to fade completely out of sight! He melted into the background, I eased back on my stool, hand still out, gazing at the empty place where he was, and then,–and then, his voice–delayed by a minute or more, came to me, loud and clear–after he was gone! “Why hello J….. Are you still here? I’ve been looking for you for a long time, you never showed up!’
I was jolted! Did anyone else hear? I looked around to see if anyone was watching–or listening. I heard him speak several seconds after he faded away, that’s when I heard his voice! It was B’s voice, the same old B….., clear, penetrating, but sounding like it was coming from far away. I doubt anyone else could hear. Did I see B……? I heard his voice! The voice doesn’t change. It was like yesterday–20 years ago. I put my hands on the counter and glanced around to see if anyone had noticed. When I looked toward the door again, the scene was the same as it always is.
I am writing this down just the way it happened. I want to remember it distinctly…I write this down because it was so remarkable and had such a striking effect.”
[This opinion-editorial piece originally appeared in the Huntington, WV Herald-Dispatch. “Milt” Hankins is a theologian, former pastor, author, editor and the publisher of columnistwithaview.com. Milt’s mother passed away when he was fifteen years old. A few of his “supernatural” experiences are included in his book Ashes on the Snow, which is available on Amazon.com.]
It was almost six in the evening on Friday the 13th, February 2015…somehow, I think Mom chose this particular date to give us one last laugh together.
SUNSET ON A CLEAR, WINTRY DAY
As that big orange sun was setting in the distance on this sunny, cold winter day, Mom passed away after a twelve-year, hellish journey through Alzheimer’s disease. Thankfully, her last days were quiet and peaceful–no pain, no suffering. She just stopped breathing.
My brothers, my dad and my family were around for the three days prior, laughing and talking about old times while holding her hand…waiting. We were also being very macabre, filled with dark humor and stories. We learned how to do this after my oldest brother and his wife were killed in a boating accident on the Ohio River in 1999. Sitting on the banks of the Ohio in deadly August heat in Cincinnati waiting for search and recovery will do that to your soul until you start giggling about the vilest things. Just to make it through the day. So for Mom, who was never the same after the accident, it couldn’t have been a more perfect ending for her considering the hell she endured. After we kissed her goodbye and covered her one last time with her soft blanket, we went out for a nice dinner and enjoyed ourselves in a way that we hadn’t done for a long time.
FINALLY, SHE WAS GONE!
Finally, she was gone. Does that sound terrible? Are we awful people? In those last days, I was excited for her to leave this world. Some people might think that’s inappropriate, but those people do not know what the journey is like. Dying brought peace for my beautiful mother. Those people who cannot understand our behavior during those last days do not know the horrors of Alzheimer’s.
Go back with me to about four years prior. When Mom was finally settled into her new long term care facility (her second one), after being sent in and out of the Geriatric-Psychiatric Unit three times, and then not permitted to return to her initial retirement community in Cincinnati, her “behaviors” were more than they could handle. When it was time to be discharged from the hospital, her re-admission was denied. By the way, this was a dementia facility, and THIS happens all too often. I should also mention that before we placed her in a secured facility, it took Dad being hospitalized for three days from sheer exhaustion, for him to realize that being her caregiver was not safe for anyone anymore. Caregiver burnout is VERY REAL! Dad was smoldering.
So, here I was, one Saturday, back home in Ohio getting ready to visit with Mom as I did at least once a month. I would wake up in the morning after making the trip in from Michigan, full of the usual dread of having to see her in this state. Keep in mind, I worked in a long-term care and rehabilitation nursing facility, so it wasn’t the environment that triggered my dread, but seeing this new, horrific version of my mom. One day after visiting by myself, I walked outside and stopped cold in my tracks. Was that it? Was that all my mother was going to get after working so hard all those years? THAT’S IT! I was angrier than I had ever been before, and it shook me to my core. Frankly, it changed me forever. It was the rawest feeling I had ever experienced. That’s when the next part of my OWN journey began. A journey that would change my life in ways I could never have imagined.
Now, my family has adjusted, as people call it, to the “new normal.” It was a slow and strange process, always having to adjust to some new behavior or “new normal,” but the final outcome was not what anyone thought it would be. My dad didn’t even know how to load the dishwasher before Mom got sick. Now, he is so emotionally strong and independent it’s almost like a disconnection–a new defense mechanism for him. Or, maybe not? Mom and Dad’s generation was so traditional when it came to marriage roles. I don’t know if he was always like that or if this is a new thing. In any case, he is doing pretty well, all things considered. He lives in an independent apartment community for senior citizens, still drives and goes to karaoke at the ripe young age of eighty-four. He is king of the world at his community with the ladies, but he doesn’t go beyond group dinners. I don’t think anyone could light up his face the way my mom did. So, we survived the Apocalypse, I suppose.
Speaking of group dinners, if you’re reading this during the holidays and are having a loved one with dementia join you and your family, please be prepared.
CENTER OF A THANKSGIVING TABLE
Large family gatherings can be especially overwhelming and stressful for someone with dementia. Be prepared with a Plan B and Plan C. Plan B would be to have a quiet room to retire to with them when things get too loud with children and “crazy” Uncle Joe. I’d suggest having a family photo album on hand. Have some quiet music they liked playing. Plan C would be to have someone ready to take them home at any given moment. Just not Uncle Joe! Be prepared, and enjoy them right where they are in their own apocalyptic journey.
[Maria (Martini) Deneau is a native of Cincinnati, Ohio, the only daughter of four children born to Bernard and Evelyn Martini. She is a graduate of The University of Cincinnati and is currently employed by Kindred Healthcare–Kindred at Home in Southwest Michigan as a Home Health Specialist. She is a Certified Dementia Practitioner, having worked in Geriatric healthcare since 2007. Maria is a National advocate for The Alzheimer’s Association, serving as Ambassador for the 6th Congressional District in Michigan and Washington D.C. She also serves as a Board Member for Fund Development at Senior Services of Kalamazoo County and as a Board Member for Professionals Focused on Aging in Kalamazoo, MI. She has been recognized by the Ohio State Senate for Outstanding Achievement and exemplary service to the community and its youth while living in Cincinnati, Ohio.]
The BUFFETT Rule
Let’s see if these idiots understand what people pressure is all about.
FORMER PRESIDENTS OF THE UNITED STATES
Salary of retired US Presidents ………$180,000 FOR LIFE.
HAPPY SENATORS AND CONGRESSMEN
Salary of House/Senate members…..$174,000 FOR LIFE.
This is stupid!
Salary of Speaker of the House…..$223,500 FOR LIFE.
This is really stupid!
Salary of Majority / Minority Leaders….. $193,400 FOR LIFE.
Average Salary of a teacher……….$40,065
Average Salary of a deployed Soldier…..$38,000
Here’s where the cuts should be made!
Warren Buffett, in a recent interview with CNBC, offers one of the best quotes about the debt ceiling:
“I could end the deficit in five minutes,” he told CNBC. “You just pass a law that says that anytime there is a deficit of more than 3% of GDP, all sitting members of Congress are ineligible for re-election”.
The 26th Amendment (granting right to vote for 18 year-olds) took only three months and eight days to be ratified! Why? Simple! The people demanded it. That was in 1971 - before computers, e-mail, cell phones, etc.
Of the 27 amendments to the Constitution, seven (7) took one (1) year or less to become the law of the land - all because of public pressure.
Warren Buffett is asking each addressee to forward this email to a minimum of twenty people on their address list; in turn ask each of those to do likewise.
In three days, most people in The United States of America will have the message. This is one idea that really should be passed around.
OUR CAPITOL AND SEAT OF GOVERNMENT
Congressional Reform Act of 2017
No Tenure / No Pension. A Congressman / woman collects a salary while in office and receives no pay when they’re out of office.
Congress (past, present, & future) participates in Social Security.
All funds in the Congressional retirement fund move to the Social Security system immediately. All future funds flow into the Social Security system, and Congress participates with the American people. It may not be used for any other purpose.
Congress can purchase their own retirement plan, just as all Americans do.
Congress will no longer vote themselves a pay raise. Congressional pay will rise by the lower of CPI or 3%.
Congress loses their current health care system and participates in the same health care system as the American people.
Congress must equally abide by all laws they impose on the American people.
All contracts with past and present Congressmen/women are void effective 3/1/17. The American people did not make this contract with Congressmen/women.
Congress made all these contracts for themselves. Serving in Congress is an honor, not a career. The Founding Fathers envisioned citizen legislators, so ours should serve their term(s), then go home and go back to work.
THE BOTTOM LINE IS SIMPLE GREED!
If each person contacts a minimum of twenty people, then it will only take three days for most people in the U.S. to receive the message. It’s time!
THIS IS HOW YOU FIX CONGRESS!
If you agree, pass it on.