Wednesday, November 30, 2011


Today is the 3d anniversary of Rose's Memorial Service. A sad and happy day. Sad because the process of missing Rose had already begun. Happy in the fact that Rose was no longer suffering and that she was at peace in her long arduous 10 year struggle against an insidious disease. It was a wonderful memorial to Rose: several spoke mostly of Rose's courage which was enormous, a couple of her High School and neighborhood buds told about growing up, and then a few others, some from her longtime support group, extemporaneously shared their memories. We celebrated. It was a good day.

Friday, November 11, 2011


With a national epidemic of Americans taking their own lives, especially among soldiers and teenagers, this is a subject that needs visiting with some relatively degree of a different insight. Here's what I have to offer: I recently attended a Memorial Service--church packed. Overwhelming sadness at the loss of a vibrant teenager.  I don't want to say typical Catholic service but mostly so.  Lasted almost three hours that I would have cut down to 45 minutes. Songs, good music and a choir from the youngster's High School. The priest gave a sermonette where we basically learned how much the young victim and her family had been involved in the Parish. Then her Dad, long time gone from the family, I think, gave some comments. Then a family friend detailed lots of activity with the yoingster, barely sixteen.   The last speaker told a moving story about how he had had an older sister who had died when he was very young. His family erased her memory. No pictures or anything anywhere to be found. And, as a sixty year old man with his parents gone, he decided that he wanted to get to know his sister. After much research, he found her grave in a sea of tombstones, unattended and uncared for. He righted that, of course. His point was that we need to keep  memories alive and remember the total person's life and just not this ending. (With her taking her life) 

There are those who think Catholics glorify the afterlife so teenagers think of it as a way out.  I don't think so and believe my own theory is probably closer to being correct: a kid does a rash and crazy/stupid thing (momentarily goes crazy). I think more than anything else, it is personality. 

Don't want to be giving psychology 101 but on the Myers Briggs Type Indicator, I would guess for the youngster, her personality type is ESFJ (lots of research on this) who are basically extraverts, sensing (hands on) feeling and judging--these are Jungian terms. Jung basically said that we are born with a particular personality and there really is nothing to do about it. It doesn't mean we can't change but it means that understanding personality enables us to effect change if need be. 

From what I observed and happened at the service, I think she had this type of personality: servant, doing for others.  ESFJs are hurt by indifference to their efforts, however and the perceived hurt is greater than for most. ESFJs pay way too much attention to what people think, especially about social skills. As the late Albert Ellis and whom I called my mentor use to say, "nothing is worse that living your life by "shoulds." You should do this. You shouldn't that. 

I do think that what makes suicide so tragic is that if parents can get kids who might be prone to such desperation, past it, they will be OK. Unfortunately, if a kid attempts and is successful, there is no chaning their minds. It is a kind of temporary thing (being crazy) which becomes permanent. If a parent can recognize this great tendency to please, the need to be liked, pressures that are internalized, maybe they can be there. Unfortunately, the greatest parent, the one on top of everything, often simply can't prevent it. 

In a service like the Memorial, I always asked myself, is this helpful? To me, not really but to others, maybe. Few tell the truth or relate their real feelings in such a tragedy, plus there is such a range of emotion. Part of it has to be anger which in my experience usually goes unexpressed.  

God bless us all. 
Homeless Vets Fellowship. I was flipping through the channels one night this week and saw this extensive program on public TV about homeless vets. The actual place, Homes Vets Fellowship is am actual program in Utah. I've been a little skeptical and downright critical over the years about the plight of homeless vets but may be changing my mind. My view always before is that homeless vets have lots of issues and a roof over their heads may be down the food chain: drug problems, mental illness, relational issues are closer to it. My views have been reinforced with a volunteer stint I did once with the premier vets organization, I think, Swords to Plowshares. Most have simply wasted their lives. Want to reinforce that idea, spend a few hours at a VA hospital. At VA, the vets who seem to have the most trouble are the Vietnam vets.

Without reinforcing my views, I want to recount mostly my observation on this program. The interviews were really extensive with the vets themselves.  The vets told about their lives since Vietnam and many could fit the criteria that my wife puts on it, "they were messed up before Vietnam and the war exasperated it." Maybe. And, these vets freely admitted it, if that is in fact, the case which I'm not so quick to say since I've watched the program. One commented on the fact that being with other vets made a difference. There's something about combat that creates bonding. Other vets "get it." They understand. Others talked about what happened when they came home, i.e.,  blamed for the war. No reentry. One vet related this fascinating story about literally killing a Viet Cong soldier the day before he left Vietnam. He was at his base camp when he saw a Viet Cong trying to slip under the consentina wire (jagged, needle like wire that is designed to seriously maim those trying to negotiate it) he emptied his M16 into him. The very next day he was sitting at his parents table. One vet gave this commentary: you take an 18 year old kid, send him to Vietnam to kill and expect him to come home as a normal human being. GIVE ME A BREAK. Vietnam vets, more than any other veteran population has remained skeptical of government services and VA in particular. One vet said something very typical, "it was 25 years before I went to VA and only because I was desperate.

After watching the program, here is where I am. Our government can never repay vets (especially combat vets) for what they've taken from them. Consequently, any benefit they get, they more than deserve. Thanks to all those throughout America who are attempting to help these lost vets.
PENN STATE. I think they have overreacted. Get this. An accusation is made against a long time employee and friend. It is horrendous. You are shocked. You don't know what to do. You wait a day to tell your boss. What the f..k!! Anyone I know would have done the same thing. I am not a big fan of Joe, really. The f..ker should have retired years ago. And, crimes against kids have to be the worst. A predator should be strung up and have his testicles removed. That being said, the last time I looked, this is America where you are innocent until proven guilty. Even in PA!!! 

Tuesday, November 08, 2011


To be perfectly honest, I don't think they are as happy to have us as you might think. This is not criticism of them but they didn't quite seem all that happy we were there. (I was very generous with the offering and especially the Uganda project: DeLONE gave them a hundred
bucks I think). I tried to work the crowd and got very little response. 

Sorry to hear that the congregation wasn't too friendly.   That bothers me but not sure what I can do..However, I am going to mention that to the Session....think they should know.

No worry about congregation. We are a bunch of strangers and it is a perception thing. The question, Dave, is whether we even need to go to church or not. DeLONE wolf is the only one of that group that ever goes. I rarely go to church and it is for the reason we are discussing here. When I go, usually I feel worse when I come out than I did when I went in and it is precisely for the reason of yesterday. The preacher and the congregation are as good as a small church in a small community can be. They don't need some guy coming in like me critiquing the service which I can't help if I go, i. e., the preacher is prancing around like he is on TV, trying to be smart, he's overweight. The service is OK but the guy reading the Scripture wants to preach himself and the youngster is reading a difficult Old Testament passage which has to do with Abraham passing his wife off as his sister and King Abimelech marrying her and God getting ticked off. Please! Why would we have some kid to read that? The congregation Is good but we are a bunch of interlopers who just came to eat, plus maybe we should not be hunting on Sunday desecrating the sabbath. The preacher probably got on me because he sensed that I wasn't paying attention and was writing in my DayTimer or he might have remembered me from before. He gets credit for catching me although calling it to everybody's attention was not so "cool." but it is not like a thing that is important at all. 

I have found that people in small rural communities often come off as
"unfriendly" to visitors/guests.  In fact, visitors that come to the Church
where Sandy and I attend have told me several times that "this is an
unfriendly Church."  I don't know all the reasons, but I have concluded that
there are a couple of reasons.

1)  People that grow up in rural communities primarily associate with
family/extended family; people with whom they grew up such as neighbors,
church members (normally few in number)  Consequently, they sit, talk, and
eat with the people that they have been sitting with, talking with, and
eating with for the last "hundred" yrs.

2)  Because they have had limited exposure to "outsiders", meaning people
from outside the community, they have a lack of confidence in meeting and
visiting with "strangers."  

3)  Residents are comfortable talking about the weather; the shortage or
abundance of rain; the winters, etc..I notice that people in the Dakotas
talk about the weather like people in big cities talk about the
traffic...meaning that seems to be the primary subjects.