Ghost Ranger
A long haired, rednecked Indian Cowboy

Jan
01

It’s said that only two things are certain, death and taxes. I learned about death early from my pet goldfish to my four-legged friends.  I have noticed that the subject of death today for the young is verboten. Death is glossed over or misrepresented. Children grow up thinking just hit restart and start over with multiple lives. They think life is like a video game. Children of today have very little concept of death, because their parents shelter them to protect them or because the parents don’t really want to or know how to talk about it.

Adults frequently answer the question as to why someone died with platitudes such as God wanted the person in Heaven. This implies to the youngster that God took their friend away, leading the children to believe that God is mean. For those parents who are non-spiritual, they say it was their time to die, or they are in a better place, or they are no longer in pain. Putting yourself in the mind of a child and you will see that none of these responses is very comforting. The subject of death is discussed with children briefly and in abstract terms. Is it any wonder that some youths have no respect for life or that murdering babies in the womb is acceptable? I do not believe that God or whatever Higher Power you believe in causes bad things to happen. I believe that all things happen for a reason but that we are not privy to why. Talking to a child we have to talk on their level.

What should be discussed with children is how they are feeling, because it is only upon their life experiences can they relate to their loss and their grief.  Regardless of your spiritual beliefs, death is a physical end.  There is no reset button. There are no “do overs”. There is grief, memories and in some cases guilt.

The first time I remember crying about a death was my puppy Cindy, a blonde cocker spaniel. After that my Mom refused to allow any more pets until I was in High School. The first time I cried about a human death was my father and I was over 40. I had been through a war and seen a lot of action, I had seen friends and brothers at arms die but I shed no tears. It wasn’t because I didn’t care or didn’t have emotions, I suppressed all emotion. When my father died, I crying more because of the plans we had made and hadn’t completed than for his passing. Some would say I had become inured to death, but that jaded I never was. I prefer to take comfort in my personal beliefs that we will meet again.

Now I will release tears in a heartbeat over the passing of a pet, but rarely any over the passing of a friend or relative. Lately in my dotage I seem to cry at the drop of a hat over things that bring me joy, but I still cannot cry in public.  I cry alone away from the world, away from people. When I pass on I don’t want anyone crying because I don’t want my passing to cause anyone sadness. I have lived a full life. I have made mistakes, lots of them. The only thing I wish is that possibly somewhere along the road of life I helped some people.

Crying is natural and we humans cry for many reasons. Children should not be chastised for crying nor should they be taught never to cry. Crying is necessary result of empathy.

Death, in all its forms, is part of life.  My impending death causes me to think about my legacy, if I have any. With no progeny, with a career that is only recorded in dusty secret archives I doubt my legacy will last for too long, it is a history known only to me. I have tried to pass on some things and maybe it will be enough for one or two generations.  Other things are locked away in my memory vaults. All of us have secrets and in order not to hurt the ones we love or care about sometimes it best to keep to ourselves.

This subject might seem a bit morbid for a new year but it is the cycle of life. None of us know what the New Year will bring. No one knows how much time they have left. Leave nothing unsaid to the ones you care about.

2016 is almost dead, 2017 is ahead. We are looking at a New Year, a new birth. 2016 will become a memory. Events of 2016 are already in the history books, they can’t be changed.  Everything is in flux. The future is up to each individual. Events around us can influence us but only we can actually change. Happy New Years!

Dec
25

Like many men in their youth, my thoughts revolved around fishing. I read everything I could on the subject. I perused all the magazines, studying the various techniques. I had a little luck and caught a few but none were keepers. I continued to practice casting and testing various lines hoping to be more proficient. One day I spotted a fish and a feeling came over me that I had never experienced before. This fish wouldn’t bite; it just followed my line and lure. It took a lot of work and patience. I watched and learned how the fish behaved. It took a while but I finally hooked the fish or maybe fish wanted to be hooked.
I reeled the fish in and I could see that it was the perfect fish, but as I removed the hook, either I was holding on too tight or not tight enough, the fish slipped back into the pond. I continued to try to catch that fish again but then one day I couldn’t find it in the pond. I learned someone else had hooked it and taken it home.
I continued fishing in different ponds, lakes and rivers. I continued perfecting my technique. I caught a lot of fish but each time I would compare them to that perfect fish that got away. Other fish simply couldn’t compete. I continued to learn better ways to attract fish, but eventually I realized that I would never ever catch another perfect fish. I settled for any fish that I could land. When I did this I found the joy had gone out of fishing and I quit.
As I reflect back on it perhaps it wasn’t that I was catching less than perfect fish, perhaps it was my flawed memory of that fish that got away.  Whatever the reason, perhaps someday I might run across another perfect fish, but this time I will jump in the water and swim with it.

Oct
26

I think I finally understand why so many people in their later years seem grumpy. For years my job required me to be stoic, unemotional, but as my body fails and I race towards my finish line, I have regrets. These regrets have caused me to wear my emotions on my sleeve. I seem to create saline rain at the drop of a hat. My grumpiness is to cover the fact I am mad at myself both for things I’ve done in the past and for things I failed to do.

I’ve packed a lot of living into my years, but there are some things I still would like to do except now my body is failing. I wasted a couple of fuzzy decades hiding my pain in a bottle. I’m sure there were pleasant times during this period but those are not the memories that seem to pop-up.  I closed my heart to outsiders. I built walls to protect it. Those walls still exist.  The mind is still sharp, at least for a couple of minutes at a time.

Friends from school are fewer now. It seems there is another funeral every month. Other friends and acquaintances from school seem to have successfully joined the witness protection program.  My friend’s children are now dying. Technology is rapidly moving ahead while I seem to be losing ground. I was using a computer long before they became household items, but smart phones, tablets, buttons, smart homes, smart cars; they are beyond my scope. The first “mobile” phone I had weighed about eight pounds and was the size of two large dictionaries. I grew up and worked on cars that were actually fun to drive, today the cars seem to require a degree just to start. I dislike front wheel drives because they require a whole new set of rules for controlling; no braking in a turn or you’ll tear the CV joints up, don’t brake hard when low on gas or you damage the fuel injectors, too many new rules. How do you drift a front wheel car and why can’t they slide through a hairpin turn?

My Doctor’s no longer mails me reminders for my appointments. Actually they switched to email and then quit reminding me at all, something about them saying they weren’t sure I would be alive to get the messages. It so encouraging going to a doctor whom I have known since they got out of medical school and hear them say, “What? Are you still alive?” Last time I said, “No, I am coming to you from beyond the grave to tell you what a bang up job you’re doing and that you need to improve your bedside manner.”

My feet swell, my joints hurt (too many hard landings), my head aches frequently (too many blows to the head), my eyes get tired, I have developed allergies, every medication has side effects, things that used to work no longer do, my kidneys work over time for a bladder that has gotten smaller, my hair has gotten thinner, my ears are growing hairs and this list keeps getting longer. The only good thing about irregular sleep is that it prevents people from throwing too much dirt on my face before I wake up to those exuberant cheers of “It’s alive! It’s alive!” These would be good reasons to be grumpy but I keep misplacing my glasses so I don’t notice as much.

Dating has become fun, especially when dates ask you to sign a waiver and check your health insurance card before the intimate stuff, like asking you, “Are you sure you’re up for this?” I haven’t been “up” in years and if I was I couldn’t see to verify that fact since my waist blocks my view of everything. I need a suitcase for a sleep over just for the meds and the medical test gear. Luckily I have one on wheels, or I did have, not sure where I left it. Oh never mind my toe found it  on my way to the bathroom.

I really don’t like to find my teeth in the refrigerator or my ice water in the microwave. I’m forever misplacing something. Darn it! Now if I could just remember what my original purpose in writing this was.

Oct
18

Lately I have finally been able to focus a little better and even managed to write some.  What I’ve written can’t even be called short stories, they are more snippets.  Miss Girlie doesn’t seem to mind my typing here, but she really objects to Facebook for some reason. She has crawled up along side me in the chair and settled in. Please tell me what you think.

Can True Love Die?

Like most people his heart has been broken many times, no that’s not true, his heart was only broken one and later his pride damaged many times. After her he stumbled through life from one affair to another seeking what he had lost.  His thoughts kept returning to her and that little strawberry girl child. That thought brought him both pain and pleasure. It provided the impetus for all his actions. It propelled him through his career. It gave him the courage to face enemies head on, to face death. It gave him some peace but also drove him a bit crazy. He tried to dull the memories with a bottle. For many years his primary goal was to get to the bottom of the bottle. It enabled him to slumber dreamless. His personal code prevented him from doing what so many others had done to him to him marriage was sacred. He stayed away from her; often taking far away missions to avoid being anywhere near her.  To escape the memories of those days, but the memories often creeped back…a song, the smell of Windsong, an old car, a green-eyed blonde…they caused the rain to start within his head and often it seeped out his hazel eyes. To the world he was stoic but the battle raged within for his sanity. As his life ebbed away his thoughts once again turned to that little girl child. Maybe he’d never know about her paternity while he lived but he would know in eternity.
Some people would say he was crazy, some would say he was strange but they all said he stopped loving her today.  I disagreed.

And a new poem.

Soundtrack

Music is the sound track of lives
Notes and lyrics that take us back
Songs that stir those old archives
Our prior lives appear via flashback
Smiles mixed with tears oft appear
Sometimes regrets come flooding back
Countless what ifs cause us to fear
No answers come with the soundtrack
Paper Tiger comes to my mind
A memory which I suppress
Love is not to be I’m resigned
Poetic words can never express
The chaotic  thoughts of past times
When I hear Town without Pity
And the sound of Whispering Pines
Or any song by Conway Twitty

Jul
25

Today I was notified that a friend died. At my age it wasn’t the first time and it won’t be the last I get this type depressing news.. When I heard the news it was like a kick in the gut.  I have worked with many men around the world and almost all could be described as good men to ride the river with, but this man was special. I was a military brat when I met him. He was the son of a barber. I had lived in many places and went to many schools. He was born and raised locally. I really didn’t fit in in school. I worked after school and then roamed the street, that’s where I got to know him. In the 60’s, in Texas kids our age listened to rock ‘n roll or country. I did but I also listened to jazz and blues. I hung out at all night cafes and pool halls. We kept running into each other. I stayed in school, he dropped out but we still ran the streets at night together. Being a bit wild one of us often would get into a situation that was physically precarious, but we had each other’s backs. He with his trusty cutthroat razor and I with my collection of pocket pistols managed to survive. Unlike many others he didn’t judge me or I him. We were both a bit wild and naïve but way ahead of our peer group. Eventually I left the area to make my way in the world. Later I was to come home and we reconnected. He would call me up late at night, (early morning to most people) and we would talk about guitar pickers, music, and whatever else was on our minds. We didn’t get together much but we stayed in touch. He had become quite the hair stylist. Neither of us lost our appreciation for good music, or pretty ladies. We always knew that the other was only a phone call away. Today I feel empty. Today I feel pissed. He left way too soon. Sure I have other friends but without him there is a huge hole in my heart. He never got to cut my pony tail. He loved life. He loved people. He was a trusted and loyal friend.
RIP Jackie Don Duggins Sr., 12 Feb 1947 – 23 Jul 2016

Jun
23

I was once asked, why I have so many dictionaries. The reason is simple because they are different. New words are coined; out of use words are deleted from most dictionaries. Only one dictionary understands that words are forever, that the etymology of words is important. Over the years some words have even changed their definition, but without old dictionaries (or a complete set of the 23 volume Oxford English Dictionary with supplements at a cost of over $1000) we would never know.
There is a book I highly recommend for any lover of words and that is Simon Winchester’s The Meaning of Everything. It is the story of the Oxford English Dictionary, [ISBN 9780198611868] but it is also a story about how a few men’s foresight and determination gave the world a gift of great knowledge. The book is eminently readable for a scholarly tome.

The American education system has been reduced to a mathematical algorithm based on Common Core. American students are not how to learn. They are not taught critical thinking . They are taught to take tests. Words have become shortened and pronunciations butchered; asked has become “axed”, this and that has become “dis” and “dat”. The spelling of the word dowery has become dowry, but the shortened word hides that the root word is dower (a widow’s portion) thereby obscuring the actual history of a marriage dowery. History of words is fascinating and when a word is used properly they give us insight into the past.

The use of big words has gone out of style. I used to love to listen to William F. Buckley Jr. with a dictionary in my hands. He was a remarkable sesquipedalian.

Writer’s write to be read, but we also write to convey ideas and to educate. Using simple words may get a point across but does little to challenge the reader. I do not advocate the over use of long words but next time you write think about using a Thesaurus, or even Norman W. Schur’s book, 2000 Most Challenging and Obscure Words (ISBN 0883658488).

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