Thursday, November 28, 2013

Thoughts on Black Friday and what we really need for Christmas.

Televisions for $98 on Black Friday at Wal-Mart? Wow, I need one! Wait….. No, I do not need another screen to put in front of my face. And does anyone else, really? I know; some of you enjoy the thrill and tradition of getting up early to fight the crowds to get those great deals that stores dangle in front of you like a carrot in front of a donkey. I am happy that you enjoy the chase.  As the day nears, though, and they have also tacked on White-Out Wednesday and opening early on Thanksgiving evening to drive up profits, I wonder what do we really need for Christmas?

After a week at the Methodist Hospital and Mayo Clinic in Rochester with my daughter, I saw numerous people from all over the United States and the world, who are fighting cancer and other diseases. I saw the white-haired gentleman pushing himself to walk the halls, clinging to his IV pole, his wife holding his other hand. A middle-aged man walked by, nonchalantly carrying his urine bag. A teenager, face pale and puffy from her illness, colorful scarf covering her head, curled up on a couch with her cell phone as she listened to a volunteer play the grand piano in the lobby.  An elderly mother was pushed in a wheelchair by a daughter with love and concern etched on her face.  A variety of nurses treated us with respect and kindness. One young man, Bobbie, had tears in his eyes when the doctor said the stomach tube must remain for one more night. Kindness abounds here, as people shared their stories with me on the shuttle from hospital to hotel and back, or in the waiting area. A thin young man shared with me yesterday that when the cab he called did not come to take him to an appointment, the owner of EconoLodge, where we are staying when not at the hospital, drove him there.

That is what we really need for Christmas. KINDNESS. Be kind to one another. Spend time with your friends and family without the reflection of a screen on your face. Say I love you to the people you care about, or, better yet, show them how much you care through your actions. That is what we need for Christmas. Not a $98 TV.

Monday, November 11, 2013


In this black and white photograph, you are standing straight and proud in your army uniform behind an old car. You smile at whomever is taking the picture, probably my young mother. You appear to be a carefree young man. I know in the back of your mind, you are thinking about having to hitchhike to return to your army base on time. You said people always stopped to pick up soldiers.

 It is the beginning of World War II. A strong farm boy, you pulled hard for freedom with your fellow soldiers, like oxen in a yoke. As a medic in the military, you made many people more comfortable during their suffering, but you rarely talked about it. Although you never mentioned it, you were awarded seven bronze stars, the “fourth-highest individual military award, awarded for acts of heroism, acts of merit, or meritorious service in a combat zone,” according to my research. I remember one story you told me of refusing to believe a spot on the floor in the hospital could not be cleaned, and you scrubbed until it was white again. Your work ethic was evident even then.

We still have some of the cards and gifts you sent Mom from overseas, every one as romantic as Valentine’s Day. You loved her with the last breath in your body. 

Daddy, I want you to know that today at our school, your 18-year-old great-grandson Lance read your name aloud. along with your son's name, who served in Viet Nam and is by your side in heaven, during a tribute to the veterans. I was so proud.