They let one slip through

Again the email is full of programs for spouses to learn how to pray together. All of the major marriage ministries are in lock step about the benefits of couples praying together daily. I always feel trepidation when I write on this topic. I struggle with the wisdom of taking a position that could be construed as anti-prayer at worst or ambivalent about prayer at best.  I always ask myself if this is one of those topics I’d be better of stewing on in private.

Then I think…..Nah.  Say what you need to say.

Family Life is about to launch their “30 Day Oneness Challenge”. Couples who sign up will receive devotional materials by email daily and guidance for that days couple prayers. The assertion is that when a man or woman reveal to each other what they would reveal to God in prayer they have a view into the heart of the other spouse that had not been afforded them until they began praying together.

I get the point. I see the value in what they are saying. It cannot be a bad thing to know what is brewing in the heart of your one flesh partner can it? How much deeper must that take the emotional intimacy? Well…

If you read the letters that follow this article you will notice patterns. The wives are the ones who prominently claim an increase in sexual desire and frequency. The wives universally gush that they now know their husbands better than they ever did before….you know, when they were in a near constant state of disquiet because the one place he could go be by himself was in his head.

Something new occurred to me. The men gush too. This time something new occurred to me. They make vague remarks that celebrate the effect that a couple of decades of praying together has had on their marriage. The men’s comments are decidedly macro  in nature. The benefit, though not specifically described, could be seen as having been fortunate enough to not be divorced after 20 or 30 years. Sure. Amen to that bro.

My over arching issue has always been that these recommendations that couples pray together, and the overt favorable proclamations by the women are bereft of any tempering language, raising  caution that along with the knowing of whats troubling your spouse must come a wellspring of grace and the ability to utterly wall off what is learned from other marital discourse. These disciplines are well beyond the ability of the majority of women. A taste of what he is thinking or feeling creates an addiction. The analogy can be extended even to tolerance where these prayers do not satisfy her if they lack sufficiently grave confessions of weakness from him. Plus….she needs to know that it is not OK to tell her BFF even though she will frame it as “please pray for Jim, he is struggling with XYZ”.

The most surprising thing though was the final letter written by a man with no mention of the wife in the signature line. I’m surprised FL saw fit to print this letter. The man is pragmatic when he says

I am not sure that we would say praying together has brought us more intimacy.

This is the only man to specifically speak to the effect prayer has had on intimacy. He differs with the wives in the other letters. Wives seem to be cozy in the fact that their sexual frequency preference is by definition the preference of their husband, so when the wife increases her frequency it must be worthy of hubby holding a parade.

The most blunt comment is in the last paragraph.

Is praying with your spouse a magic bullet that will keep you from getting divorced? Probably not since all of us are just a couple of steps away from making selfish choices.

Now that is gonna drive tons of traffic to the site and get couples registering for the 30 day challenge in droves. They need that guy to write more stuff for them.



DTM3 and Some Tight Cold Game

Yesterday was house cleaning day. It was raining. Now that my wife is degreed, licensed, and credentialed she is finally employed as a neuro-critical-care nurse. This changes the domestic routine a bit.

I was putting the Swiffer to the floor in the bathroom adjacent to my nine year old’s bedroom when I spied a wrinkly note sticking out of the book she is presently reading (Number three or four in the  “Land of Stories” series). I thought only dads read books in the bathroom.

I pulled the note out, smoothed it as best I could, read it, photographed it (see below), and decided to ask her about it. The handwriting is not significantly different from hers if she were to have written it in haste. Its tough to read so I decode it just below the image.

20150823_053701The note says:

I am going to ask you two simple questions, then I’m done trying to ask you stuff and depending on what you say will determine if I talk to you.

  1. Do you like me?    Yes     No

  2. Do you want to be my girlfriend

I was puzzled that she would write this to a girl. I was not yet bothered because I could envision a context that would explain it, but I did want to understand it. So my wife and I asked her.

It turned out that she is the recipient. The author is a male class mate and grade level cohort since 1st grade. We have known of his crush since 2nd grade. Our daughter talks about him often. He is one of her inner circle of friends.  This year they are together both in the classes unique to the gifted program, and they are in the same regular daily classroom.

He has some Steve Urkel traits (The innate nerdiness is present with my daughter as well). He is African American. He wears glasses that may be a bit over sized. His smile bedazzles and his cheerfulness bursts forth. He is a room brightener.

He has a very serious name. I will not use the real one. Rather I will try and create a fictitious one that conveys the same ascot wearing Ivy league imagery that his real name calls to mind. Something like Darvius Terrence Mavis the 3rd (I’ve deemed him DTM3 for short)…which must be cited completely in long form when he refers to himself.

This young man is running some tight game on my girl. He makes it clear in his note that he has a couple of questions that could lead to them being an item, or to him casually nexting her. I like the way this young man rolls. No time to fool with fickle…you want Darvius Terrence Mavis the 3rd at your side or does DTM3 determine that you can’t make a decision? You seem to like having DTM3 in the friend zone. Know this… DTM3 doesn’t do orbiting. He either burns up in the atmosphere or he makes a safe landing but he is heading in….he is not going to hang out at a fixed distance and revolve around a girl.  He says, “Answer these questions or you become invisible to me”.

DTM3, she is my girl but I’m paying tribute to you and the tight game you are running here. Now don’t go and ruin it by not following through. I’m intercepting your communications my friend. I’m watching.

Wish I’d have had cold words like DTM3 when I was nine.

Adult swim should mean men only: Why men must lead.

Some personal anecdotes and the settled conclusions I reached.

Last weekend my nine year old wanted to go to a pool. Any pool. We left pool ownership when we left Texas so now this means we attend the neighborhood pool or we go to our YMCA. I prefer the YMCA because it is massive and doesn’t have my neighbors there.

Soon after we arrived the lifeguards announced an adult swim. Four lifeguards, one male. As the time for kids to re-enter the water neared children were agitating in groups beside the pool. There is a yellow line approximately four feet from the edge, behind which I suppose the letter of the rule says the kids need to cool their heels as the minutes become seconds and they can hit the water again.

On the side where the young man was lifeguard the kids were eager, standing either side of the the yellow line but not being overly physical mostly they were calm. The kids were talking to one another, speaking to parents seated nearby, just passing time. On the sides where the lifeguards were female the kids were unruly, taunting the lifeguards and shuffling unbalanced around the pool decking, stepping over the yellow line and back .

I figured out why the next time the cycle repeated. The female lifeguards would immediately start admonishing the kids, all throughout the adult swim time, to “stay behind the yellow line”. The female guards did this non-stop, even when the kids were simply walking from one place to another. Zero tolerance yellow line enforcement.

This week we made our annual trip to Florida’s panhandle. Hastily conceived after we missed our Antigua trip, we brought nine people including BFs and GFs of the older kids. Plus, due to what appears to be the best economy since 2007 we had to split our stay between two condos, moving mid week. Pain in the rear.

During the scramble to relocate, more than once I was perched on a stairway landing waiting to go down or walking a narrow walkway where I’d encounter other people. I noticed that, unsurprisingly, children do not see a man burdened with bags hanging off him and make way. They even move into the open spaces that exist and block the way. Most men/dads see whats happening in advance, spatially extrapolate and adjust so that I could pass seamlessly.  Women mostly reacted when I got right up to the point where I could move no further, and even then only when I made a strained face while standing and dripping sweat. This is why men should lead.

The worst was when I stood on a landing waiting to go down the steps. A woman, alone….maybe around 40….was coming up the steps wearing one of those large floppy sun hats. She never once raised her eyes. She looked directly at the steps as she walked up. This to the extent that when she reached the landing she STILL didn’t look up and I had to quickly back away until I pressed my back against the wall lest she walk right into me. This is why men should lead.

When she heard the things hanging from my back strike the wall she looked up and said, “Oh sorry, didn’t see you there”.  As I walked down the steps I couldn’t help but say, “that’s because you were not watching where you were going”. [***see below for hastily hypothesized theory tangentially related to the topic]

These things exasperate me. I approach women in the grocery as they study the shelf before them. I come from exactly 90 degrees relative to their straight line of sight.  I stop and wait. If I ask for passage they react as if it is simply astounding that I managed to slither up near them unbeknownst. If I wait for them to finish the better ones will apologize while the rest will move on about their business never even realizing that I was there, that I had waited, and some, once moving, see me as the obstacle as they politely ask that I may give them passage. This is why men should lead.

According to Wikipedia for both eyes the combined visual field is 130-135° vertical and 200-220° horizontal.

The bold horizontal range suggests that if there is visual symmetry,  the woman ought to see me safely inside her range, which would extend 10 to 20 degrees beyond my position at 90 degrees.

NAWALT is worth of stating with regard to this line of inquiry. More, the problem grows worse by day. Though far fewer, there are significant numbers of men suffering this malaise as well.

Finally, peaceful days at the beach. I didn’t learn anything new but I experienced this last bit in context with the other things written here.

For over 20 years my family has plodded to the Florida panhandle for summer vacation. I expect we will continue. Crowds have long since passed critical mass and this year was unreal. When we sought accommodation (due to late booking) many companies said they were sold out from Panama City , FL to the west side of Gulf Shores AL. Yep. I concur.

When my three older kids were little I looked like this guy when I had to carry all the stuff to the beachBurdenManHow nice it has been that they need less, they carry what they need, and they carry the heavy stuff like coolers.

But something still wasn’t right. realization burst like sunrise when I saw the same dynamic being played out up and down the beach. Women seem the most content when they are seated and able to offer suggestions to the men as to what the men need to play with their little children, how far from the waters edge they take the children, how often they put the child under the umbrella, how frequently they put on and take off shirts and or add sun block, how much water and juice and hummus the kids can have, how many times the man needs to re-secure the umbrella and shake the towels, how frequently he needs to carry the two or three empty cans they have generated all the way to the trash receptacles that they would pass by as they exit…on and on.

The women are most content when the men are fluttering over the kids. But worse, its not simply that she assigns some things and he agrees. Nope. From the outside it would appear that the women are watching the men for any sign of contentment amidst the chore. So the woman must optimize, she must speak improvement suggestions into the activity, she must, metaphorically speaking, have a white board hanging on the man with a list growing and being marked off, but with open items never numbering less than six. This is why men should lead.

When I see this image I think, ok, posed but cute. If this scene was happening in front of the mom at the beach she would likely be bursting with the urge to optimize, to improve, to adjust, because to do those things generates desired feelings.  manonbeach There are rarely places where men families gather and men are left with consequential contiguous amounts of time to simply relax. Its as if men who work day by day and take the family on vacation once a year need to find a way to take their own vacation, separately, maybe with male friends. Or if he has older sons like I do, take trips with just the boys. If there is a female introduced into the space it will do what I call… stress the hours by nagging the minutes. This is why men should lead.

I recalled family gatherings over the past 26 years. My wife’s family is massive and my kids had well over 30 cousin cohorts. I cannot recall a single event where men were not being bounced from one chore to another as women seemingly brainstormed more and more things to make sure no two men found themselves chatting or laughing.

“Honey, can you make sure the car is locked”. “Would you go look in on baby sleeping, teen so and so is in there and I went in five minutes ago but Id like you to check on the baby”. “I think Betty needs help over there, look she is trying to rearrange those dinner rolls”

This is why men should lead. But we double down. (socons again)

I was thinking during some eyes closed smell the salt air time, what the heck is this all about. Before us the ocean, tackled by men on wooden boats now traversed by man made boats and flying craft. Behind us gigantic buildings housing the oiled masses of tourists and every kind of service and recreation one can imagine. the overwhelming majority of these things invented and built by men. Everything we used to get to the vacation, used during the vacation, and will use to get back home, all made by men. All safe because of men. Yet men need to be micromanaged as dads with little kids to the point where it looks like a resort for chubby women where man servants tend to kids and wives and arrive back home with some form of narrative about how wonderful their vacation was.

Probably a socon thing.

All of this called to mind images Ive seen from muslim countries where women tend to kids and males create male spaces where ever and whenever the hell they want. The idea of hanging out at the beach with only men lacks appeal, I grant you. But the idea of socializing with men for long stretches of time, where conversation flows linear and is easy to follow, to enter into and to exit, to be funny or grave, to understand and to be understood, and to not encounter a wit of subtext or passive aggressive voice or inflection.

Imagine the planning for a trip if men did it and it only involved men. Activities would not solely be planned because of the feelings they evoke when imagined. Unintended consequences would be considered as future thinking would be the norm, so instead of “lets go do X at 00:00 o’clock on Tuesday” there would be the ordering of the big items so as to avoid problems that comprehensive planning can reveal. Even men who embark with no plan can somehow manage to string together days of activity and remarkably still have meals, bath, stay safe, etc. This is why men should lead.

The problem isn’t about vacations. That’s my vehicle for conveying the points. The problem is profound and worsening in the U.S. Males for the most part are left with accepting the roles as defined above, or worse, finding very unhealthy outlets for male energies, ranging from sex to drugs to sports obsessions etc. the reason is there are afforded few opportunities for men to do otherwise. Male gatherings at church are contrived to distract men from the unhealthy things when they ought to be contrived to allow men to down pressure from the stuff Ive described above. But to do that would be to acknowledge that men have external stress that may even originate in the person of their spouse who has never been told that she has natural tendencies that torture her husband. Not gonna happen.  (socons again)

The present choices that inform our dichotomy can be described as, Women and children rule vs. sharia law. There are other choices but these are the two with least resistance.

This is why men should lead.

***Its a side theory but I see the population centers that have and are growing in fly over America as psychologically unprepared for the inconveniences of overcrowding. On the coasts cities have dealt with tight population density as the norm. Residential cities  have critical mass of true urban dwellers as to cultivate the instincts needed to manage so many people doing so many things.

Midwestern cities are a mixed bag. The contrived cities, like Greenville, SC, (Remember the old Sci Fi movie Westworld where Yul Brenner went ape shit as an android cowboy and started killing the guests, Greenville is like that… where restless southern hipsters wanted to create an admixture of culinary-delight-and-art-house metro area with some high rise flats. Just watch out for the murderous android baristas) These cities feature mostly suburban populations that want to go get services in a crowded inner ring. but the people are blissfully unaware of their surroundings and utterly lacking in anticipatory micro planning, realizing in advance the consequences of small actions that build into huge inconveniences. In Manhattan, we may say rudeness defines the transaction, but dang-it the transaction is once and done and if you don’t watch your six you’ll be plowed under. The one causing the delay is considered the rude one, not the one trying to get their tasks completed. The mounting pressure in the ill prepared cities like I live in, all across middle America The mounting pressure in the ill prepared cities like I live in,

Summer’s other other requiem

In mid 2004 I got untethered, separated from my marriage and living in an apartment, spending the standard divorced dad times with my kids while the lawyers accrued tens of thousands of dollars in fees that never advanced the case towards any sort of tangible end point. It was a new low up to that point.

During that time I added a dear friend, one I’d credit with dragging me into the light of living again. Living according to new circumstances to be sure. By the simple coincidence of proximity and an after noon carrying a tennis racquet from my car to my apartment the blessing of a life long new friendship came to be.

My friend works in management in the hospitality industry. He lives as a global citizen, transferring every couple of years to new properties all around the globe. This precluded our being able to see one another in person for more than ten years.

In April we spoke. He was in Houston, not living there but for another reason. That was full circle nonetheless as that’s where we had become friends.

On one assignment had lived and worked in a Central American country in the ten years that had passed. He married there and had a child. He was subsequently stationed variously around the Caribbean culminating in his present assignment.

He told me he was in Houston because his wife had leukemia.Treatment had failed on the island. Treatment in Florida had also failed. and they’d been taken in by M.D. Anderson in Houston for a last ditch effort where they would attempt to crush the disease and transplant fresh bone marrow. Having never met his wife or child, and passing nearly 11 years since he and I had seen one another I made my way to Houston to be with him during a tense time for her back in May.

I met the the precious little five year old girl. And my friend’s mother. They are Brazilian and she was there to support him. I met his mother-in-law who was obviously there to be beside her daughter as she struggled through her treatment. And I met his wife. Fortunately I can manage very well in Spanish and I suspect I had some providential boost in ability as well, so I was able to really get to know her over the few days I was there. If I could post the pictures of the three of us, he, his wife and I, faces pressed together for triple selfies all of us in masks and gowns and the wife’s eyes bright and clear with a smile the mask couldn’t cover…if you could see those you would see what joy looks like when tragedy tries to plaster over it and then tragedy is made to crumble and fall away.

Its not about me, but I left there filled with perspective that was there as I watched my friend Beav pass away and as the other, smaller things happened these past weeks.

Last Monday my friend, who is 40, had to preside over the disconnect and subsequent death of his 36 year old wife. I could not make it in time to stand with him for that. So, he was alone.

His daughter was not there when it happened and from what I understand its best that way. But he had to return home and tell his girl that mommy died. I won’t belabor that. But something else happened. On the same day, in the same ICU, a three year old girl who was also from a South American country died just hours after my friend’s wife. he and his extended family had become friends with the little girl’s family as their paths crossed in the hospital over and again these past months. When the little girl died the parents called my friend to tell him that his wife had given them great comfort by saying she’d look after the little girl.

When he returned home and told his daughter that mommy had died, her reaction was delayed, and profound. Two days later his daughter come to him saying her mommy had told her things would all be ok and to be a good girl.

I’ve no interest in exploring those last bits (The other little girl’s death, the notion that my friend’s wife could care for the dead little girl, and finally the daughter’s alleged communication with her mom) in any depth whatsoever. I am not asserting anything, I am ambivalent about those lines of inquiry. But I found the story compelling and uplifting.

Faithful Attraction: See how it’s condemned.

Woe unto them that call evil good, and good evil; that put darkness for light, and light for darkness; that put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter!
(Isa 5:20)

Imagine an adult male virgin of undisclosed age standing in a mall, people watching. He watches young men walk by in their skinny jeans and their hair filled with gel. He watches the young women in their revealing clothing, with body piercings, tattoos, and unnaturally colored hair. He watches the divorced women, the single mothers and the married but flirty women. He watches the female virgins his own age………wait what? Why would he even DESIRE to do that?

Given that this man is attractive himself, being attracted to ANY of those people he sees at the mall is welcome, in fact celebrated. But the moment he crosses over and actually desires the type of person who has the greatest ability to provide both offspring AND the stable home that would afford the best opportunity for success to those offspring and this man is castigated and shamed. In one stroke he becomes a “slut-shamer”, a homophobe, insecure in his masculinity, not sufficiently forgiving or pious and a pervert. This man is the worst form of evil known to society and the “church”.

When God said: “Be fruitful and multiply” He was giving a command and tipping His hand in our design. We were made to be attracted to fruitfulness and biological multiplication. It is good, so it shouldn’t come as a shock when the enemy comes slithering through the grass and rejoins: “Hath God REALLY said?”.  The attraction that is faithful to God’s command is the one that CANNOT be acceptable.

After heeding the voice of the enemy, people as quickly as they can to support the hypergamous alpha seeking strategies of their daughters and sisters. Need to dress like a slut? Here let me help. Need to have access to a room or a car (and a wink and a nod) for your promiscuous forays? Happy to provide. Need birth control? Let’s get an appointment set up. Couldn’t land the alpha stud by getting pregnant? How about abortion/WIC/welfare/child support? Attracted to your girlfriend? Wow, that’s quite a relief. Whatever it is that we do we cannot challenge you to either be holy OR make good decisions with your reproductive health. (Remember men need to “butt-out” but make good with their taxes and wallets). And if you don’t go along at any stage you are a misogynistic woman-hater (for failing to back their preferred mating strategy).

This isn’t just the world, it’s the so called “church”, where we call evil good and good evil. Faithfulness to God’s word and design is to be shunned above all else.

The woe is coming because the whoa was forgotten.

Illusory Commeraderie: Infinite groups limited to one member apiece.

A peevish man who can self identify as such may be able to tamp down the tendency to follow every unproductive rabbit trail about which his nature whispers to him, “go down there and find a skirmish”. Framing things with peeve disclaimers is not sufficient. The unfettered peeve chaser is boring.

To chase peeves dilutes real topical input. I hope this post isn’t just giving over to peevishness.

It had been awhile since a topic on a big blog like Dalrock’s brought out my irritation at the low fruit picking done by poseurs, cyber-intellectuals, actual learned men and low thinking reactionaries alike, who glom on to every opportunity to point out the failures of social conservatives. They do it with repetitive illustrations that are not particularly clever. “Socons are throwing men to the family court lions”……like that.

After open minded exposure to truths found around the sphere one needn’t be overly clever to criticize social conservatives (and the implied first cousins…evangelical Christians) . Given all the men reading those words, why can’t most see the dervish glee that permeates the comments of the self-anointed chief intellects of the manosphere when they jet into opportunities to take not-particularly-clever potshots at socons,  like sharks and barracudas with their illusory grins rushing into chummed water where they end up tearing one another apart.

I asked in Dalrock’s comments for an ideological label that can be hanged on the subset of commenters who are most prolific and predictable when the socon chum bucket is poured over the side. They refer to the existence of other like minded enlightened so I presumed the existence of an ideological cohort and without prejudice asked for a descriptor.

I was not trying to prove some silly notion that those who take up socon schadenfreude are the socon’s archenemy……..liberals. If someone thought that they are wrong. By miles.

The two people I saw responses from did, intentionally or accidentally, nod in the direction my question was intended. They referred to subsets of the Christian faithful. The obvious issue with that is that those most predictably peppering the boxes with ever less clever anecdotes about socons and referring to who is and isn’t receptive to discourse on the  topics where socons have gone off the reservation, those commenters are not likely going to be a part of the subsets of Christians to which those responses referred. Therefore they have to be labeled with ideological terms, not religious terms.

The peevish part of the problem is therefore that those who are first and loudest to jump into discussions about how socons/evangelicals are complicit in the fall of men are those who have always slithered away from categorization. If some label gets close to applicable they will slightly alter some already tediously nuanced position so that what they know cannot be known widely enough to ever have sufficient adherents that it be a nameable cohort.

For countless centuries people have done the same with religion. Still do. Today we see the religious analog to those who won’t claim an ideology in the common declaration of “I’m very spiritual”. Keep ’em guessing. Don’t let anyone figure it out. To be figured out is to reduce ones uniqueness. Keep the group membership where it is. Just one. The one who gets it, surrounded by a small group on sycophants who do not get it. Sycophants as chum.

It is pride, not ideology or spirituality that drives this phenomenon. It is why I asked in the manner I did, “By what shall they be known?”.

If this is merely a peeve it is the most discouraging one on my encyclopedic list. I don’t have a ready response held in abeyance for each potential answer. I’m not waiting to pounce with a sub-peeve. Either there will be no response or there will be a response.

The words don’t add up to nuthin

There are infinite iterations of nonsense. Take all the words in all the languages and place a “!” (Factorial sign) after the list and you have shown a representation of every possible combination of words into phrases. (Not really, but close enough to the mathematical exercise for calculating possible combinations of numbers that it can illustrate my point)

Over the past ten years Ive read countless biblical derivations all of which served to get people where they wanted to go in their interpretations. No where is this more prevalent than in the way preachers and evangelical feminists choke out statements about submission.

They are settled on wrong marriage narratives that use flawed exegesis. Now, what about the folksy sounding wisdom nuggets that preachers use as paraphrase for bible teaching? All major bible themes need these American cliches to better communicate Christian truths. Right? “Its not religion its a relationship”… that.

I came across a new one today from Jimmy Evans in his Marriage Builder Weekly email. he is talking about power and dominance in marriage. He fakes a very high risky high potential reward pass into hellish defense:

Research indicates that the healthiest home environments are where males lead the household

The play was a ruse. He meant to throw the ball straight out of bounds and stop the clock buying his team to muster something better for the next play. The white board that the play was written on what smudged. It really looked like this with the smudged words replaced:

Research indicates that the healthiest home environments are where males lead the household—he initiates the well-being of the home

Can anyone tell me what that even means?

Well being :   the state of being comfortable, healthy, or happy

Can that be initiated? Does it even matter? Or is it not just more gobbledegook that allows a man to speak on headship and hot have his head handed to him by his angry wife?

I’m initiating abruptly ending this post.

Game Over

Beav died yesterday at 4PM. Watching the rapid fading of his mind followed shortly by the systematic shutting down of his body under these rare circumstances has created a whiplash in perception.

The mere existence of this mutant protein known as a prion called to mind memories of the mad cow disease upheaval in the UK back in the early 1990s. My recollection is surely exaggerated. I recall that cattle were slaughtered and burned and international trade bans  on beef were threatened or in some cases enacted.  I have this fuzzy image of bovine carcasses aflame in heaps, and as back drop I see rolling English hills, bright yellow with flax, a tall hedge lined lane cutting across them. Add hoards of peasantry wearing beige and brown clothing that lacks buttons gathered before a home made with hand shaped and kiln fired brick and having thick layers of thatch bundles as roofing. Something medieval in my created imagery.

Identifiable sentience or lucidity disappeared quickly. Three weeks ago today Beav spoke to me, the few words i previously mentioned. The last work he said to me was a word that I  would have liked to have been the last word he heard from me. That day as I left his room, with the second cognitive strain I witnessed that day (The first was identifying me by name) , he looked at me, his eyes focusing visibly, like the twisting of an antique hand telescope, he exhaled heavily saying, “Thanks”. And that was that.

His wife told me Saturday she thought that the day after he spoke to me, he had spoken some words to others and that those were the last words he ever spoke. She said that it had been over two weeks since he made real eye contact or had a facial expression that would be indicative of lucidity. So, Beav was gone for awhile from the perspective of others.

The hospice had him sedated heavily because he was a big strong man and kept trying to get up, with an unsettling look on his face. The alternative was restraints. So he lay and snored and with no supportive hydration of nutrition after a time, he lasted about a week.

Since May 22 I have grown to know Beav’s wife as if getting to know her  through immersion, like intensive language school. On my third visit and with the air cleared completely and the comfort to speak openly, I recalled something very poignant and talked about it.

Seems some well intended neighbors had to be those people, that being the people who challenged the hospice center and the wife on the beginning of the end being kick started  by the last time Beav took food or drink on his own volition.

I clearly see the roughness of the point I made and you will as well. But I am usually good at judging context and risk when I have the notion to say something like this. Rarely are circumstances so grave, however.

I reminded Beav’s wife of something that happened to Beav within the past 18 months or so. Beav was an uber gun enthusiast. But Beav would not, could not ponder hunting, never shooting an animal. He was not anti-hunting, He was not vegan or a militant animal rights person. He did not speak ill when I went off bird hunting, He did not evangelize about hunting or animals as food.He ate beef and pork and chicken and the rest.  He was just a regular man who had lots of guns and shot skeet, trap, rifle range, etc. at a club. He was licensed and he carried a pistol in his car. But he could not shoot an animal.

Then one day he was driving south of our town a few miles where there are two lane rural roads and he saw a car stopped in the road and a family, Mom, Dad, some kids, all standing looking in front of the car. Beav stopped, got out and walked up there and found s a deer in the road that the family had hit with their car. It was badly injured and was kicking to scoot itself off the side of the road into some weeds, terrified as maybe we’ve all seen with deer on the road side.

This alone would have Beav in tears. But the dilemma as he recounted this story was a heavy one for him. He saw the distress on the faces of the parents and kids, and he assessed that the deer was dying no matter what. He went to the car and got his pistol. He came back and asked the family to position themselves a certain way, away from him and the deer, and he fired multiple shots into the head of the deer. He then took his mobile phone out and called the Sheriff Dept. and gave his info to dispatcher and explained what occurred, he gave his business card to the Dad of the family, and he left. I imagine his face was slick with tears and that somewhere up the road he pulled off and wept.

That story and the subtle but potentially crude connection to the events that were unfolding in the hospice room was a risky thing for me to bring up. I do not know how she took it. Did she see a metaphor? Or, did she just recall, along with me, an anecdote that was a very heavy recent event in Beav’s life? Regardless she received it very well and of all the anecdotes we shared during all my visits, it was the most poignant.

Emotional Pole Dancing

Pastor called it emotional undressing.

Either way I share his dislike of doing it. But I need to unburden myself of some disappointments and get back min the right frame.

Mrs. Empath and I had procured a week at an all inclusive place on an island somewhere far south and east of Florida. We intended to celebrate our 25th anniversary thus. Id cashed mileage for first class airfare and we were chomping at the bit to go.

Both her and I were attending the gym, and I was playing tennis almost daily. We were able to get into shape over the past three months, eating right, sleeping well, high energy, etc.

Then, I got a tap on the shoulder two weeks ago and heard a whispered, “Hey, Empath, you recall that you have me…. Crohn’s disease ….right? You have not forgotten that I’m here just because Ive never bugged you before, right?”

Well I actually kinda had all but forgotten. So I received a reminder too significant to ignore. Events cascaded, ended up with GI doc doing all kinds of tests and putting me on nasty steroids of two flavors plus a couple of other meds.

My Big Crohn’s Debut….Yay….and our trip was cancelled. Thankfully the booking agent convinced me to pay a couple hundred bucks for trip insurance so we get everything refunded.

Today is the day, the anniversary we are celebrating.. I took the day off. I did so mainly because there was almost no sleep last night and I am weak enough to manage a spot-on bobble head imitation. Slightly anemic, a tad under nourished, and suffering the flares of the arthritis that goes with this monster, I’m starting to get demoralized. There has not been a good day in over two weeks.

I slept all day, until 5PM. Something like 18 hours of sleep. I feel better but this isn’t a problem that rest cures. There are no cures, just good times and bad times, remissions and flares. All with the use of steroids and other bad medicines.

Gives me a chance to weigh in on my favorite topic of food. There is no identified food or dietary trigger from a flare up, not is there a diet known to calm the flare. This is not celiac disease, a condition that more than half those claiming to have it have never has a test done by a doctor, and some who say they have it have had tests come back negative but insist the Doc is wrong, they are gluten intolerant.

This problem I have can be seen clearly with cameras in the right places. It isn’t subtle and when it flares it isn’t irritating…it is all consuming. Between blood loss, mal-absorption, dehydration, skin manifestations, arthritis, so forth, it takes weeks of life away.

So if someone has a dietary idea, Im glad to hear it. Before you share that Id ask that you make sure you know what crohns disease is and how much effort has gone into studying diet. If you are aware of something that may help, do tell. I’m open minded.

Meanwhile, my friend Beav is in hospice and may not make it through July. He cannot recognize anyone and is in restraints so he harms no one.

Some friends of ours from Dallas 26 years ago, their daughter was just murdered. BF, bad choices, bad thing happened. We have pics of our 22 year old son as a baby in the plastic kid pool with that girl.

There are lots worse things than my cancelled vacation and battle with crohns. Ill thank God joyfully as He always gives me context so that I do not emotionally pole dance too much

Wally revisited, and the tragedy of The Beav’s worse thing

About a year and a half ago I wrote a post called Free Wally. I love writing about these true dramas where, as a peripheral bit player, I experienced the events first hand. Because I am a bit player I have no need to obfuscate. Besides changing names and locations Free Wally was about a real group of guys with an age range spanning more than 30 years whose friendships yet abide. As the youngest member of this cobbled together bunch I treasure the blessing (and curse) of being able to chronicle these events.

First an update on Wally. When we left him last he was worrying about his pending retirement. More, he was concerned about his ability to sell  his 5500 sq. ft. home that he and his wife had lived in for the past 19 years, just the two of them. More, he was concerned that the gains on the home were not going to be handled judiciously, and even  such injudicious handling was not going to afford him a cabin and some land as well as a nice but smaller home in the city they had chosen for retirement.

The retirement occurred September 30, 2014. Miraculously the big local home sold in May this year. And the rest unfolded exactly as he did not want. They bought an expensive home in a swanky neighborhood in another city. I cannot get it out of my head that he said to me, “Empath, I never dreamed retiring would be so hard”.

But a tragedy has overshadowed Wally and his houses. Another man in my group who I have written vaguely of before is having his 65th birthday today. Let’s call him Beav.

This is a man so doting that, before his wife retired, he awoke and carried her papers while walking her to her car for her to leave for work. The car was parked just outside the garage door.. To be clear, I mean this to praise this man because I never have saw anything that suggested he was something other than just a giver.

His giving nature manifests in other ways. During winter and the week or two of freezing weather in my area, its common for men at work to discuss the ways we each protect our outdoor spigots. This past winter I added ten hour hand warmers to my regime on a few extreme nights, tucking one up the spigot then replacing the foam cup-like insulating device nearly everyone uses. “Beav” thought this was a great idea. He asked me if Id grab him a box of hand warmers are Walmart when I ran out at lunch to stock up. “And oh”, he added, “if you see that they have those foam insulators, grab me about 15 of them”. “Huh?”, I said. “You got 15 spigots Beav?” He replied that no, he had three, but he noticed several neighbors homes were unprotected and was going to just stick them on those  homes that evening.

Another time after a massive storm stopped power for days, he drove to some far away town where there were still generators for sale and bought three. He kept all three, having them to loan out during each subsequent storm to whoever needed them. I could go on and on.

On May 22nd he left the office after a normal day. That evening he was hospitalized with stroke symptoms. Over the next couple of weeks, stroke and tumors were eliminated as causes. I saw him a week ago and he said three words in 45 minutes. His cognitive ability was destroyed while he was physically OK. No weakness, no paralysis, no grimace or curled arms. Just no words. Expressive Aphasia they called it.

So Wally and Beav, they worked side by side for years. Wally, nearer to 70 now and with a tendency to butt dial his phone and have other tech snafus, when I called him yesterday Wally answered obviously on blue tooth. But something was wring and I couldn’t hear him well, nor he me. I immediately raised my voice and asked should I call him back. This resulted in a back an forth Q and A to establish what to do. But here’s the thing.

Each time Id ask a question, he’d answer it and then his wife would restate the exact same answer for him. An iteration looked like this.

Me: “Wally, can you hear me?”

Wally: “Not so well”

Mrs. Wally: “He says not so well”

After several iterations we hung up, he called minus B/T and we spoke.

I told him about Beav.  Had that subject matter have needed to pass through one of those iterations with the wife my head would have exploded.

The whole circle of life thing starting last February and somehow for me culminating in the events of yesterday with Wally’s wife answering his questions for him like an interpreter….these things worse than not good.

Because I was calling Wally to tell him that the Mayo Clinic had diagnosed Beav with Creutzfeldt Jakob disease. I knew about the condition because I am a nerd. But for those who may not, think analog to mad cow disease. Exceedingly rare (300/year in US contract it), zero treatments or even research treatments exist, transmission not understood well, and usually dementia to death in a couple of months. He is on the way home to enter hospice here locally.Happy birthday Beav.

Can I say that something is a worse thing without offering the thing to which it is compared? In this instance, yes. I can.