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The Way International: Carol’s Story Part Five

guest post

What follows is the last part of Carol’s story about her involvement with The Way International and her journey out of it. I thought it would be interesting for readers to read the story of someone who journeyed out of a non-orthodox Christian religion. I hope you have enjoyed reading Carol’s story. (though it is hard to read this last post and say the word “enjoy.”)

In the summer of 2005, one of my counselors asked if I would write my health story to be included in a book. She asked a few of her clients this same request. She had specific topics she wanted covered…and thus the content of the following narrative, a rendition of what I submitted for the book.

It took me about nine months to write the narrative. At the time, varying factors made it an arduous tasks.

In the midst of writing it, I made the life-changing decision to exit The Way International to which I’d been a loyal follower for 28 years. I had gotten deeply involved with The Way in 1977 at the age of 18.

During my fourth year of Way loyalty, at age 22, I developed asthma and other symptoms of an over-responsive immune system. These symptoms worsened during subsequent years and continued for the following seventeen years. At the age of 41, I was diagnosed with Bipolar II, a diagnosis which was later questioned with evidence that a more accurate diagnosis would be PTSD or C-PTSD.

In 1998 during my twenty-first year of Way loyalty, at 39 years old, out of desperation, I began to journal. In 2005, seven years and over a dozen journals later, I left The Way; I literally wrote my way out. I had allowed myself to begin to understand that certain Way doctrines had played a major role in my emotional suppression which manifested as chronic illness.

The Way teaches a health and wealth gospel.

Seeking Life Along The Way: III John 2 ?

(Addendum to Parts 1 through 4)

[Originally penned in 2005, with later adaptations.]

At 46 years old I sat across from my counselor. She looked in my eyes and stated, “Carol, I want you to start thinking like a well person.”

The statement stunned me. I felt nebulously lost within it having no concept of what her words meant. Over the next few days I rolled the statement over and over in my head and heart. The ensuing story is part of the journey endeavoring to discover what it means to think like a well person.

I choose the 39th year of my life as the threshold for the following meandering, a snippet of my journey. It was in that year that I began to submerge myself in ink and page, writing my way toward wellness. Journaling changed my course from death to life, from despair to hope.

At 39 years old I was married with two children, ages 8 and 10. For the last 17 years I had suffered with severe asthma; numerous bouts of pneumonia; multiple sinus surgeries; environmental, chemical, food, and inhalant allergies; hives, welts, and various skin disorders; systemic candida; depression; anxiety; mood swings; chronic fatigue; body aches; and a myriad of other symptoms that go with an over-responsive and depleted immune system. I had been pumped with intravenous drugs, swallowed or inhaled a host of pharmaceuticals (including 1000′s of doses of steroids), been pricked with needles 100′s (if not 1000′s) of times for various reasons, and received a myriad of allergy antigens. Alongside with conventional treatments, I had utilized alternative therapies including homeopathy, oral and intravenous vitamin/mineral supplementation, strict dietary protocols, acupuncture, herbs, bodywork, and some psychological counseling.

Exhaustion and depression were constant companions. I was caught in a sticky, mucous-coated, stagnant, thickened, stringy web that felt like it morphed in every tissue and cell beneath my skin. I felt trapped in my own body. I craved to breathe freely. I thirsted for fluid energy and to move without pain. I dreamed of running like a deer, graceful and free through the woods. I hungered for freedom.

I often felt like a complete failure as a believer, as a mother, as a person. Shame coursed through my veins. My suicide plan was foolproof, but I couldn’t leave my children with the legacy that their mother had committed suicide. My children were my saving grace, my reason to keep drawing one more breath, to keep trying.

Life was not always dreary; I had stretches of hope, using affirmations to convince myself of improvement. Yet now my hope was depleted; it was time to quit hoping. I had clung to a belief that, according to the scriptures, God’s will for me was complete health. It was time to give up the dream that I could actually get well; death seemed the only alternative for release. Instead of a pistol for death, I chose a pen and began to write.

Emotions crystallized into words upon the page detailing the self loathing, the asthma attacks, the pain that racked my body, the exhaustion, the anger, the murky darkness of it all. I felt such deep, deep shame and self-hatred. Day after day I filled the pages; I held nothing back. I poured it all onto paper, including dreams and hopes. I wrote because I had to; I did not know what else to do. I never imagined that by putting pen to parchment my circumstances would begin to change, but they did in a most powerful way.

Within a few months of starting to journal I was hospitalized yet again (October, 1998) and connected with a doctor that discovered I was suffering with mercury toxicity, a typical cause for immune dysfunction. In January, 1999, I was again hospitalized and connected with a different doctor who confirmed the mercury toxicity. That same month I began an intense two-year detox regimen which included oral chelation therapy, intravenous and oral vitamin and mineral therapy, hydrocolon therapy, low heat saunas, and coffee enemas. I continued to journal profusely and began to re-educate myself on healing; I began to have hope again. My doctors believed I could gain wellness. Unknown to me at that time, I suffered my last severe episode of asthma attacks.

After six months from the last asthma attacks, I was able to start addressing more definitively other symptoms: fatigue, mood swings, hives that crawled on and under my skin. Aches and pains surfaced all over my body, like chained prisoners desperately crying for release. Yet I was hopeful; the asthma was curbed. I had new treatments to try. Maybe my body could get well; if I could learn better how to listen to what it was trying to communicate to me, maybe I could allow it to heal itself. Maybe, maybe, just maybe….

The next regimen on my agenda was a treatment known as Enzyme Potentiated Desensitization (EPD), a complex treatment that approached the reprogramming of miscoded T-helper cells. Every eight weeks, for 1-1/2 years, I would receive an injection containing over 200 antigens mixed with an enzyme to penetrate the miscoded cells; go into quarantine for five days; and eat only venison, tapioca flour with water, and sweet potatoes. My health improved with EPD: a “sore spot” in my left lung that had been present since my last bout with pneumonia cleared; some skin conditions improved; my sense of smell was restored; allergic reactions and energy improved. My hope was growing. Then the FDA abruptly stopped the use of EPD in the United States. My sense of smell was stolen again and some allergy troubles resurfaced. But I remained hopeful that other doors would open for me.

With the improvements and hope, I pulled out books I had previously read regarding healing and reviewed them. I was led to new books and devoured them. During this time I was diagnosed with a herniated disc, confirmed with an MRI. A friend loaned me the book, Healing Back Pain, by Dr. John Sarno. Within six weeks of applying what I had read, the back spasms were 80% better; after five months they were completely gone.

Due to the improvements gained from applying what I had learned via Sarno’s work, I was prompted to delve more deeply into the relationship between my emotions and my physical illnesses, the effects of the dance between the two. How many of my illnesses and symptoms could be due to suppressed emotions? Was I honest enough to be able to open up and see what really lurked in my soul? In late 2000, I began weekly psychological counseling. This soul excavation was a gruesome task at times, but in the end was more than worth the effort.

Over the following four years, as I delved deeper into this excavation, I developed a support network and program which consisted of journaling, bibliotherapy, and relationships with a handful of people and professionals that I could call upon. The support network was vital for me. I grew in my ability to open up, to peek within and see the ugliness and the beauty. Of course I saw more ugliness than beauty. But I began to understand that even what I perceived as “ugly” was okay; I didn’t have to fear it. My hope grew. My life was changing.

During these four years my symptoms became less intense and then plateaued. I lived managing mood swings; hives and sneezing attacks a few times a week; and a hormone dysfunction that would manifest in severe aches, depression, and cognitive impairment at least five days per month. I continued my search for relief through conventional means (including medications for the depression), bodywork, nutrition, homeopathy, and energy medicine. I took about 50 pills a day in the form of supplements. I continued with counseling and journaling. I began to think that this was as well as I could get.

Then, in latter-2004, I was introduced to a nutritional product that had more life-changing effects. Within nine months of consuming this product my hives completely disappeared. The mood swings and debilitating hormone dysfunction were probably 85% better. I was able to get off my daily psychiatric medications. My energy was more stable. I went from feeling I was hit by an 18-wheeler at least five days a month to being hit by a bicycle a few days a month. I was beginning to taste freedom.

It was during this time, when I began to taste freedom, that my counselor stated those unforgettable words , “Carol I want you to start thinking like a well person.” My adult life had revolved around sickness – a science of schedules and charts and foods and medications and tests and treatments. This new experience of wellness was scary. Oddly I found myself wanting to break down, but couldn’t. I thought I would run free once liberated from this tyranny of entrapment. Yet, I was in new territory, unfamiliar, uncomfortable. What was I to do with myself now? It took me six to eight months to become comfortable with being “well.”

In the fall of 2005 I was well enough to make some major religious/spiritual changes; after 28 years of involvement, I chose to leave, what I had slowly come to see, was an abusive religious organization. In hindsight, I have no doubt that certain doctrines and practices of this group were a major contributor to the chronic illnesses with which I had been ensnared. Without the wellness I had been granted by 2005, I don’t know if I could have made the break from that organization; it took much resolve and energy that I didn’t have prior to 2004.

Since divorcing the organization, personal relationships that were shunned from decades past have been renewed; crevices I had sealed have been exhumed; step by step hidden bubbles have surfaced and closet doors have opened. Certain of these exposures allowed my heart a resuscitation, new life. I came face to face with neglect and abandonment issues, grief, and loss. I see with greater clarity underlying emotional causes that contributed to those decades of illness from the age of 22 until I was 46. My relationship with my husband has been restored. Music and poetry have become integral parts of my life. I have been able to tap into my heart again.

What are my maintenance practices? Decent nutrition, medications as needed, rest; movement, nature, play; mindfulness, reading, writing; music, movies, laughter; and relationships. Relationships with myself, my environment, and loved ones are the fabric of life instilling hope and encouragement, even when times look dim and dark and when it seems the sun will not rise again. When I experience physiological symptoms or tumultuous emotions I endeavor to seek self-awareness and then to listen and follow the paths that offer relief.

What does it mean to think like a well person? It means I recognize that I am significant, worthy of love, fully human, and a vital member of the human family. I am not an appliance that requires fixing; rather, I am a yearning individual with an innate need for love, acknowledgment, and to know my value.

 Notes

The book, Healing Back Pain (mentioned above), prompted me to dig deeper for a specific program to help guide me in uncovering emotional causes for physical symptoms.  That search led me to MindBodyMedicine.com by Dr. David Schechter. Dr. Schechter, has a specifically designed journaling, reading, and education program that enabled me to better tap into emotional causes that had prompted certain physical symptoms, thus providing healing and relief in those areas.

Addendum to the addendum

  • In 2008, at age 49, I had full, left hip replacement surgery. Doctors speculate that my left hip bone degeneration was brought on by the high doses of steroids I consumed in the past – consumed to keep me breathing. That said, all in all under the circumstances, my bones are in good shape
  • In 2010, I contracted MRSA, which erupted 4 different times that year.
  • In 2011, I developed an “idiosyncratic serum sickness like response” to oral terbinafine.
  • In May, 2013, the “serum sickness like response” diagnosis was changed to drug-induced peripheral neuropathy, specifically polyradiculitus (inflammation of the nerve roots), which has produced nerve damage in all my limbs. My body and brain and heart are still coming to terms with the nerve damage as I continue to seek answers.

Published: April 16, 2014 | Comments: 10

Women, Don’t You Feel Special?

women in the home

In the early 1980′s, I heard Jerry Falwell, the fundamentalist Baptist pastor of Thomas Road Baptist Church in Lynchburg, Virginia, say, We don’t believe in equal rights for women, we believe in superior rights. Falwell went on to say that the Bible actually elevates women on a pedestal and that equal rights for women would actually be a step down for them.  Evidently, Falwell’s Bible didn’t have the verses that gave approval to men treating women as property or the verses that countless Evangelical preachers have used to justify their “women should be ignorant, barefoot, pregnant, keepers of the home” belief.

Last year, in a post titled, Why Would Any Woman Want to Be and Evangelical Christian, I wrote:

Why would any woman want to be a Christian? If the Bible is the Word of God, inspired by God, and every word is true, why would any modern, thinking woman ever darken the door of an Evangelical church?

Over the past hundred years women have continued to gain rights and privileges kept from them by men, law, and social propriety. The right to vote. Equal pay for equal work. The right to use birth control. The right to have an abortion. The right to divorce.  While women do not yet have equal rights and privileges in this country, huge progress has been made to that end.

Why don’t women have true equal rights and privileges in America? Don’t deceive yourself into thinking they do. There are still places in our society where the signs say Men Only.

The primary reason women are denied basic civil rights and social privileges is the teachings of the Christian Bible. While we rightly criticize the patriarchy movement, the basic tenets of the movement were common practice a hundred years ago.

Christianity teaches that women are inferior to men. The Bible calls women a weaker vessel. The Bible teaches women are to be married, keepers of the home, bearers of children, and sex partners for their husband. (unless the husband goes Old Testament and has multiple wives and concubines). Quite simply, the Bible teaches that the world of women revolves around husband, food, children, and sex.

If the Bible is meant to be taken as written, women have no part in the governance of society or the church. Women are relegated to teaching children, and, as women age, they are given the task of teaching younger women how to be a good wife…

You can read the entire post here.

Derick Dickens, in an article for the The Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood website, takes the same approach Falwell did thirty years ago. (Dickens is a graduate of Liberty University)  Dickens  thinks that women, the weaker vessel, should received high honor rather than equal rights. He goes on to blame many of the woes women have on feminism and their demand for equality. Dickens writes:

…It demands us to ask some serious questions.  Has the last century of women’s rights not touched the home?  Has women’s equality not turned the tide of divorce?  Has it not lifted women out of poverty instead of sinking them further into poverty?  Women’s equality has failed precisely because it is misplaced from the Biblical understanding of women.  It has failed precisely because it misunderstands the honor God has given to women.

In short, if you think women are equal to men, then you have too low of a view of women.  Women are not merely equal, they are to be honored and esteemed unlike that of a man.

Honoring women is not merely my opinion, but this is the Christian ethic.  It is why men traditionally bent on one knee to ask for a woman’s hand in marriage, men would open the door for her, and men willingly sacrificed their life to save a woman.

Granted, abuses have often taken place in our culture and previous cultures.  However, this should not be looked at with the ever critical eye that fails to realize all the facts of the situation.  There were abuses of the past because of mankind’s inherent selfishness, pride, arrogance, and destructive personality.

Rather than see these abuses subside, they have escalated in modern times.  For instance, women account for 75% of all people trapped in the slave trade.  For every three childhood victims of human trafficking, two are girls (Source: UNODC).  The heinous injustice brought upon girls and women should make our blood boil in anger and every decent human being cry out for the eradication of this evil.

The abuses that are easier to “live with” are those couched in the language of modernity.  Women, for profit and sale, are treated as sex objects on magazines and television.  Being remade to look nothing like they appear, women are donned in scant bikinis to sell products like beer, cars, football, and even tools.  Parts of our society have made women utilitarian.  This may be better than the sex slave trade but only by degree (Matthew 5:28)

What may be an attempt by some overreacting to abuses towards women has been an effort to make women completely the same as men.  In some cases, this has forced women to be a clone of their male counterparts, or in other cases forced men to be exactly like women.  In both cases, this is a travesty to women.

Women do not find their greatest worth in being like men but in being a woman.  It is her uniqueness that should be cherished, but not to the extremes either side tends to push her.  One celebrates the woman as having a utilitarian purpose in satisfying the sinful lusts of man, the other celebrates her distinct from her sexuality.

Both are wrong.  Both seek to diminish women from being what they were created to be–a woman.

In turning to the Scripture, we extinguish the often cited critique that women are not as smart or capable as men.  Proverbs 31, for instance, shows the virtuous woman as possessing gifts that would make most men jealous.  She is intelligent, resourceful, hard working, and respectful–a tremendous force of dignity and wisdom.

These qualities, though, should not make us treat women like men.  Women are to be treated distinctly like a woman.  Husbands are called to reflect towards these women a demonstration of the greatest love ever shown, a love that willingly died in her place (Ephesians 5:25).  For a man, he should represent her as a person worthy enough for us to die for, to present as pure, to uplift as glorious, and acknowledged as magnificent…

…In the Biblical Worldview, women have a dignity all their own that allows us, men, to selflessly serve until our dying days.  They are bone of our bone, flesh of our flesh, but they are much more.  They are women and for that reason we should give them a greater honor.

You can read entire article here.

Dickens speaks in glowing terms about how women are treated when the Biblical pattern for the sexes is followed. According to Professor Dickens, our culture’s unwillingness to follow this pattern has resulted in women being far worse off today than they were before equal rights for women and modern feminism convinced women that they had equal status in our culture. (and equality for women is still an unrealized goal, like with racism, we have come a long way, but we have a long way to go before we can say, women are equal)

Dickens seems deliberately ignorant of history, both ancient history and American history. Rather than seeing the Bible and Christianity as the source of many of abuses and ill-treatment women have received, Dickens thinks “mankind’s inherent selfishness, pride, arrogance, and destructive personality” is the problem. Evidently, he can not see that perhaps Christianity and Bible wedded to “mankind’s inherent selfishness, pride, arrogance, and destructive personality” is the real explanation for the deplorable treatment of women throughout much of the history of the United States.

Dickens article is a poignant reminder that little has changed for Evangelical women. Their overlords continue to use the Bible to subjugate and control them. Sadly, for many Evangelical women, including my wife for many years, they know of no other world but one where the Derick Dickens of the world are their lords. These lords convince them, through words supposedly from the mouth of God, that their highest calling in life is to be a weaker vessel, a wife, a mother, and a keeper of the home. Wanting any other kind of life is a step away from God’s wonderful, super-super plan for their life.

So what do you think readers? I am especially interested in hearing from female readers. Do you desire to return to days before equality and feminism? Now that you are free from the strictures of Bible, how has your life changed? For the better, for the worse? Please share your thoughts!!

Notes

Dickens teaches business for Santa Barbara Business College and Geneva College.

Derick Dickens blog

Derick Dickens Twitter

Published: April 16, 2014 | Comments: 2

Mom Told Me He is God

loki

As many of you know, Polly and I have a 24-year-old daughter with Down Syndrome. Bethany is a wonderful girl, a delight to be around, but she, like many children with Down Syndrome, can be quite single-minded and bull-headed. Bethany tends to focus on one thing at a time, obsess about it, and refuses to retreat no matter what someone may say about her obsession. (yes, just like a fundamentalist)  If she finds a certain video or movie she likes, she will watch it over and over and over and…well you get the picture.

Over the last several months, Bethany has been fixated on Loki, a character she saw in Thor: The Dark World movie. She is so fixated on Loki right now that she told me that she doesn’t like Rascal Flatts any more. Rascal Flatts meaning Gary LeVox, the lead singer,  who she is certain she is going to marry some day, no matter how many times I tell her he is married and old enough to be her Dad. She has left off from her Rascal Flatts fixation before, so I am sure, in time, she will return to her one true love. For now, it is Loki, Loki, Loki.

Bethany’s fixations can be humorous, entertaining, and, at times, irritating. We bought her an iPod for Christmas. She has learned to navigate the iPod quite well, including using the Pandora, YouTube, and Rdio apps. There are other apps, however, that I don’t want her messing with, especially the app that controls the settings for the iPod. But, she is determined to investigate every app on her iPod. The other day I needed to do something on it and I asked her to let me see it. Immediately, her face got that caught with your hand in the cookie jar look and she said, I know you told me not to. I am sorry. I won’t do it again. The problem? She had EVERY app open. Evidently she had forgotten how to close them.

Last night, Bethany and I were watching the baseball game and I started singing what I would call Loki songs. Things like, Loki, Loki, He’s our man, if he can’t do it nobody can. After a bit of me ribbing her in song, Bethany got that, I’m fixing to tell YOU something look on her face and said, Well, Mom told me he is God!  (and Loki is a mythic God, just like the God we worshiped for most of Bethany’s life)

Boy, did I laugh. And then I thought, my oh my how far we have come.

It remains to be seen if Bethany will lose her Loki fixation. Every week she scours the library for Loki books. The librarians keep an eye out for Loki books or similar type books that might interest her. She can’t read, but she finds great delight in getting a bag full of books to take home to “read.” She knows how to write the word Loki and she is able to use Loki’s name in a YouTube search, so I am sure, sooner rather than later, she will have watched every video that mentions Loki.

Published: April 16, 2014 | Comments: 6

If Jesus Had a Wife

The Christian world is buzzing with the news that Jesus might have had a wife. You can read about the debate here. This debate doesn’t interest me much, but a recently discovered First Century video clip sure does. It’s hard to believe, but video archeologists have found a video tape of the married Jesus with his wife:

YouTube Preview Image

 

Published: April 16, 2014 | Comments: 2

Someone on the Internet Doesn’t Like Me: Spam,Hackers and Erectile Dysfunction

internet spam

Over the past couple of weeks, I have had to deal with a tremendous uptick in the number of spam comments, both the automated type and the individual type. This has made a lot more work for me and I can no longer monitor the spam folder for legitimate comments that get marked as spam. There are just too many of them now.  If the numbers hold, the number of spam comments will jump from under 2,000 for March 2014 to almost 16,000 for April 2014.

I am also seeing a big uptick in miscreants trying to hack into this blog. I use a log in blocker that effectively stymies those who think I am, stupid enough to use admin or administrator for my username. They get two tries and then they are blocked via IP address for 1 week. Any further attempts result in a one month block. Surely they know my real username is thereisnogod or 666666666.

Such is the nature of the internet. The more visibility a site has the more attention it draws from those who have nothing better to do than try to leave advertising comments for virtually everything under the sun. (I can only imagine how much spam big sites receive every day) Some of these fake commenters are getting quite creative, using the name of previous commenters or using wording that makes their comment sound legitimate. Since all first time comments must be approved, both of these methods fail.

I just wanted to make you aware of this. Very, very few comments are mislabeled as spam. If you don’t see a comment of yours appear after you hit Post Comment, please let me know right away and I will make sure it is not being marked as spam.
spam

Number of spam comments blocked per month by Askimet, October 1, 2013-April 15, 2014.

Published: April 15, 2014 | Comments: 4

The Creationist COSMOS

Ever wonder what a Creationist COSMOS would look like? Perhaps it would look like this:

Published: April 15, 2014 | Comments: 3

Diversity on Display at Our Bird Feeder

It’s cold today in Ohio. In the 60′s yesterday, in the 30′s today. The 3 inches of snow that fell overnight has already melted. Over the weekend, Polly and Bethany planted radishes, onion sets and new asparagus roots. Amazingly, some leftover spinach, that the bitter winter could not kill, has started to grow.  In a week or two, we will be mowing our yard. Praise the gods for the coming of spring.

Food is still in short supply for the birds. Migratory birds are starting to return, competing with the year rounders for food. Of late, the sparrows and finches are restless, and if I am reading things correctly, there’s a good bit of bird sex going on.

I bought a new camera lens last week, a Sigma 150mm-500mm lens. (Amazon link, I actually bought it from B&H Photo, a store I would love to spend a day in with $10,000 to spend)  This is a perfect lens for sports and wildlife photography. I wish the lens was faster, but a faster lens in this size costs upwards to $10,000. I am content to live with the f5-6.3 maximum aperture. I either have to bump up the film speed or live with a shallower depth of field on cloudy, windy days. On sunny, calm days, I think the depth of field should be perfect for what I want to accomplish. I am still learning how to use the lens. It is heavy, a little over 4 pounds. I bought a monopod to use when I am out and about. For the pictures that follow, I was able to rest the lens on the sill of the living room window I was shooting from. The biggest issue is getting the window open and the screen pulled up without the birds flying off.

Sparrows. Common every day birds that people take for granted. Here in Ohio, sparrows are everywhere. B-o-r-i-n-g, right? Not to me. As I looked through the camera viewfinder (yeah, I am old school, haven’t got the  LCD screen down yet) I was amazed at all the diversity I saw. I thought of Darwin and all we have come to know in the last 250 years. While I have my doubts about God, I find great pleasure in watching the least of bird world.

sparrows at the bird feeder-001

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Published: April 15, 2014 | Comments: 3

When I Die

tombstone

In a couple of months I will celebrate my 57th birthday. Due to the health problems I have, I know that it is highly unlikely that I will live to be an old, old man. Even if I live in to my 70′s, I have less than 20 years left to live. Having been married for almost 36 years, 20 years seems like a blip on the radar of life. 20 years ago, I was the co-pastor of a growing Sovereign Grace Baptist church in Texas. 20 years ago, the oldest of my children was 15 and the youngest was nursing from his mother’s breast. Yet, in the 20 years since then, all of my children, save one, have moved out from home, three are married, and soon our 10th grandchild will be born. And just like that, I am old, wracked with pain, suffering from chronic health problems that are doing their best to murder me in my sleep.

I have no illusions about life. I am a realist, preferring to see things as they are rather than living in world where I pretend everything is fine. Things aren’t fine, but I have chosen to make the most of what life I do have. I have no time for deities or thoughts of a magical, mythical sweet by and by. I have no time to dwell on matters that make no difference in my life or the life of those I love. Death is stalking me and lurks in the shadows of the night. I acknowledge its presence but refuse to give it power over how I live my life.

I agree with the poet Dylan Thomas:

Do not go gentle into that good night,
Old age should burn and rave at close of day;
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Though wise men at their end know dark is right,
Because their words had forked no lightning they
Do not go gentle into that good night.

Good men, the last wave by, crying how bright
Their frail deeds might have danced in a green bay,
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Wild men who caught and sang the sun in flight,
And learn, too late, they grieved it on its way,
Do not go gentle into that good night.

Grave men, near death, who see with blinding sight
Blind eyes could blaze like meteors and be gay,
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

And you, my father, there on the sad height,
Curse, bless, me now with your fierce tears, I pray.
Do not go gentle into that good night.
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

But some day, death will finally corner me and take my life. What then? Since I do not believe there is an afterlife, I have no thoughts of heaven or hell. I know that when I draw my last breath the flesh and blood Bruce Gerencser will be no more. All that will be left are the possessions I owned and the memories others have of me.

I have made my last wishes known to my wife and children. I do not want a funeral service, no viewing, no grave, no tombstone. I want to be cremated, not wishing for my wife to be burdened with funeral expenses.(I think traditional funerals are horribly wasteful and ecologically irresponsible) I want my ashes to be scattered along the eastern shore of Lake Michigan at the place where the love of my life and I had what we call our perfect day. I want my family, my children and grandchildren to be there. I want them to laugh about the man I was, each telling their favorite brother/husband/dad/grandfather story. My sister called me just the other day to remind me of how I used to hide the Cocoa Puffs so she and brother couldn’t eat any. We laughed and reminisced of life long ago. I hope this will be the kind of stories my loved ones will tell.  From ass to ashes, I hope someone will say. And then I want them to walk through the sand of the beach to their cars thinking of the good life we shared with each other. I hope, in that moment, they will know how much I loved them.

Published: April 15, 2014 | Comments: 7