Wednesday, May 09, 2007
I have another birthday in a few days. This birthday will be special. I will be the exact same age that my father was when he first displayed symptoms of early-onset Alzheimer's.
Within two years he was unable to work. Within five years he was in a nursing home. Within ten years he was dead. He was 54 years old when he died. Not much older than a cousin of his who similarly died of early-onset Alzheimer's.
I might hope to have inherited my mother's genes here. All of my mother's relatives remain clear-headed until within a year of death. But I don't know about that. I inherited my father's quick mind -- my mother and her relatives have heads of wood. Did I inherit the defective gene that makes the brain suddenly disintegrate in an otherwise healthy man? I don't know, and that gives me yet another selfish reason to wish for a national health care system that actually works. The only reason my father got the care he got, which was as good as was possible with the knowledge and technology of the day, was because he was a Korean War veteran and thus could use the VA system. If it happens to me... Louisiana's public health care system is a shambles due to the loss of 20% of its beds in the Great Katrina Flood, Medi-Cal is a disgrace, and besides it would be a year before I received any care due to disability and might very well be dead in that time. Perhaps that would be better. I don't know. It certainly would not be very dignified, in any event.
Of course, the right wing's answer to this is, "if you're no longer capable of working, you should just shut up and die." The notion of We the People getting together and in a spirit of Christian charity taxing ourselves in order to provide care for the least amongst us does not appeal to them at all, because the only moral value they truly hold, in their tiny little bitter hearts, is "I got mine." The spirit of Jesus Christ, who once famously said that a rich man could no more enter Heaven than a camel go through the eye of a needle, does not live in their hearts. Their other answer is that you should join a church and receive care from your church. That is just another way of saying "I got mine", since these people rarely join a church themselves, and if they do, never donate much of their income to the church. Most church-goers that I know are solidly working class, just poor schmucks going through life thinking they're middle class even though they aren't. It is sad, but true, that the lower one's income, the larger the percentage you donate to charity. A person with $10 is more likely to donate $1 to charity than a person with $1,000,000 is to donate $100,000, even though he can afford it least. But the working class schmuck knows, "there but for the grace of God goes I", and gives what he can. The person with $1,000,000 says, "suckers! I got mine, I'll never be a charity case!", and gives $1 just to say he gave.
In other words, I do not think you can be rich and truly a Christian. Because if you were truly a Christian, you would have given it away to those in need, as Jesus counselled doing.
A week ago someone nominated me as a "Thinking Blogger". I am flattered. I am also supposed to nominate other bloggers as "Thinking Bloggers". That will require some thinking on my part. There is the Quaker Agitator, of course, who is always thoughtful. But he has already been nominated by so many different people that he must be tired of it. There is the warrior bard Minstrel Boy who is thoughtful in a different way, the thoughtful of a man who has seen and done many things in his life, learned many things about himself over his lifetime that he perhaps does not necessarily want to know and acquired wisdom the hard way one scar at a time, and spends his time trying to do the right thing despite his uncertainties about the existence of a Creator. Beyond that... I am not, tonight, doing too much thinking I guess. Too much thinking about mortality, and the transcience of human existence.
There is a place Minstrel Boy went for his own birthday. I have been there, a place where there is water in a desert wilderness, the remnants of old orchards, a few relics of an old ranch hidden beneath the brush slowly decaying into nothing. It is the perfect place to ponder the transcience of human existence while alone with nothing more than your own thoughts. This weekend, though, I think I will take a different trip. I will drive to the Caltrain station and catch a train to San Francisco. I will walk the streets and watch the people. And in the end, I will be no less alone.
- Badtux the Older Penguin
Labels: life, navel-gazing
Posted by: BadTux / 5/09/2007 10:43:00 PM
While spending time alone, try to remember to contemplate all the good things about your life, not just the bad things or the scary what-ifs.
I wish you a happy birthday, with many more to come.
# posted by Mixter : 10/5/07 5:41 AM
Google curcumin and tumeric.
# posted by Scorpio : 10/5/07 9:00 AM
Thank you for the "thinker's" links. I found them to be interesting as I do your posts which I always find them to be original, interesting and entertaining. Hope the last word does not offend you.
May you have a very positive birthday.
# posted by Falco : 10/5/07 10:27 AM
Not "tired." Flattered! Thanks!
# posted by QuakerDave : 10/5/07 2:16 PM
hey, thanks for the shout. the mountains brought me everything i was looking for on this trip. except solitude. that wasn't happening this time out. i'm in process of writing a travel piece about it now. an old medicine singer and i got to be real indians for a group of german hikers. we brought them into a sweat lodge, and a cave.
nordic blondes fookin' rule dude.
# posted by The Minstrel Boy : 15/5/07 1:01 PM
- Name: BadTux
- Location: Some iceberg, South Pacific, Antarctica
I am a black and white and yellow multicolored penguin making his way as best he can in a world of monochromic monkeys.
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