December 26, 2008

Bulletproof People

Don't worry, gang, Stormbringer still has plenty of thunder left in him. Not as loud today because I'm tired after the Christmas festivities.

First off, I want to clarify. At my age, I use the term "kids" loosely. It doesn't have to be someone college age or younger. I've seen people in their thirties that I consider "kids".

"What in the world are you on about, Cowboy Bob?"

People consider themselves bulletproof. The younger they are, the more indestructible they seem to think they are. Especially in areas related to health. Scott the Collector can booze it up, stay out late and still come in to work and I don't see a lack in his performance. Ernie the Gambler is gambling by chowing down on fast food and sugary sodas instead of decent meals. I don't mean that it's wrong all the time, but it's a lifestyle for him. That crap catches up to you. (It's funny, ZZ Top's "TV Dinners" just started playing...)

I want to tell people to wise up so they don't have health problems in the future. You know that I've told you about some heart difficulties that I've had, and became diabetic as well. Take care of yourselves while you can so you don't have to have my experiences. Yes, I know that things will happen despite your best efforts. But why go asking for trouble?

Here are some ways that I see the bulletproof mindset in younger people.

  • The "know everything" attitude. I want to knock some people over the head when they won't listen to the voice of experience, or even another intelligent viewpoint on a subject. This is often carried out through a statement that sounds like a prophetic utterance, no matter how inane it really is. Have you ever had a political or religious discussion with someone in the public indoctrination — I mean, education — system? It's alarming.
  • Refusing to admit when they're wrong. This is a kind of subcategory of the above point. It shows a closed mind, unwilling to listen to someone else's viewpoint or consider facts of which they were previously unaware.
  • Reckless driving. I've lost friends and acquaintances of all ages, or had them maimed, because of their cocky driving.
  • Reckless sexuality. Sure, you're young and you have more stamina. But promiscuity and binge sex? Aside from the moral difficulties and risk of incurable diseases, there are spiritual and psychological side effects that you are not considering.
  • Gullibility. Just because something is on the Internet, television, in a movie or "documentary" does not mean you have to suspend your ability to reason. Check things out, for crying out loud! Will this cause them harm? Well, what do you think?
  • Bad eating habits. Although I had straightened out my own habits for several years, the junk food caught up to me and I had to have a heart blockage removed. It accumulates and catches up to you in the future. And those blasted sugary drinks? You're killing yourself, Skippy. On the psych front, bad food and drinks (especially with little or no exercise) contributes to depression.
I don't think I need to go on about having the music too loud for too long, illicit drug use, excessive alcohol and tobacco or the inability to appreciate ZZ Top.

And I don't care what your music star and movie star heroes are doing. Let them self-destruct and go into rehab. Your assignment is to pay attention to what you're doing to yourself physically, mentally and spiritually. Consider using moderation.

I know you're probably saying, "This does not apply to me". See what I mean? Hey, I had to try.

December 21, 2008

A Time of Loss

Not much thunder from Stormbringer today.

Isn't it strange how sad events happen around Christmas? One friend told me that his brother-in-law's wife died last week, and that the brother-in-law has had a series of difficulties recently. Another friend knows someone who has suicidal tendencies. A third friend lost his father on Christmas Eve. I can name other disasters that happened around the week or two before Christmas. Yes, they happen all year round. But it's certainly more difficult at this time of year.

Today is December 21, 2008. About an hour and a half ago, my oldest brother died. He was 64.

Jack ("Jackie" to many family and friends) was born with Down Syndrome. He could not talk, but was able to do basic functions for himself. He was content to watch television or listen to his phonograph records. Jack was not able to stay at home for most of his adult life, and was in various state institutions and eventually into foster care. For the last few years of his life, he was in an adult home.

Later in life, he had health problems that developed. At the end, he had to use a walker to get around, and an oxygen tank was a frequent companion. Various infections occurred, and the last one is what did him in.

He was stubborn. The doctors were simply guessing, and I believe that it tormented our parents when they said he would not live very long. "He won't live to puberty"..."He won't live to..." Ha! He fooled them all. In fact, we understood on the 19th that he would not last the day. Stubborn Jack held off until the 21st.

There have been people praying for our family at this time, and we all have appreciated it. My next oldest brother and his wife were the main facilitators of his care. They did a great job, and I was especially glad of what they had to do, and deal with, while I was 750 miles away.

I have to admit that I had trouble in my younger years understanding and dealing with his condition. That, and the fact that we were apart most of the time added up so that we were never close. But he was still my brother. Hey, I've admitted my faults and failings on here before, yes?

One memory that keeps coming back is that my mother (who passed away a few years ago) said, "Just think, in Heaven, Jackie will be perfect." That was something for me to look forward to then as well as now.

I wouldn't be on my game if I did not add one moment of anger. This is directed to the arrogant atheists that seek to take away the faith of those of us who believe in God. What do you have to offer? Are you going to attempt to take away the comfort that my brother is now perfect, at peace, entirely whole in Heaven? That he will be with our mother? Or that our father, who does not know anyone (or who he is himself) will join them in a grand, happy reunion one day? Or the rest of us, at that? I have some people to look up myself...

I'm going to be more blunt here: This is part of what Christmas is all about. The real meaning. Jesus came to live among men, to die, to be bodily resurrected. At this time of loss, we have the hope that he gives us. Capice?

Addendum 12-22-2008:
Here is an excerpt from a letter from my sister-in-law. As I said, my father does not know anyone anymore, and does not even know who he is.
We stopped in to see Dad today. He did not seem to understand. I stopped in on one of his neighbors. Doris told me that last night after dinner, "John started scratching back & forth in his chair as he normally does; then all of a sudden he let out a very loud howl." Doris said he sounded like an angry bear. This would have been out the time of Jackie's passing. Just thought you would want to know.
Perhaps my father did know after all...
(Edit: My father died less than two months later.)

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