Sunday, July 14, 2013

One of the things I was taught.

Nobody is ever going to accuse me of being intellectually gifted. I always tried to learn what was being taught. Teachers made comments like "He is so smart, if he would only apply himself." I remember having a pretty inquisitive nature, I still do. I like to figure out how things work, or figure out how I can make it better. I was taught to look at things from different perspectives to see other perspectives. I've tried to remember to think things through before acting.

I play "what if?" in my head a lot.

I was taught to be kind. I'd like to think I succeed. I know that I haven't always been very good at this. Each day I remind myself to try harder. If by some chance I was unkind to any of you, please accept my apologies. I sincerely didn't mean to act so.

Specifically, I remember my mother trying to teach me to turn my back on meanness and hate. Mom taught me that even though the kids I wanted to be friends with were chasing me, throwing rocks at me and calling me names like "bastard" and "heathen" and telling me that I was going to hell, that I would find other friends. I did.

But I remember.

One neighborhood "friend" would start a fight with me every time he came over to play. He'd come to the door and ask if I could play and then as soon as we were outside and out of sight from grown up eyes, he'd start the smack talk and eventually escalate to shoving and pushing. That ended after I was taught how to punch someone in the nose. It wasn't a hard hit, and I don't remember being overly satisfied of the act, but he didn't bully me anymore.

I remember being taught that a particular word was a "bad"" word and to not say it. In second grade I overheard one of the other boys in the class use that word. When I said something about it to a teacher, the teacher said they would take care of it. After recess, the teacher stood in front of the class and begun their object lesson by telling the class that someone did something very wrong at recess. Then, this bastion of grown-up authority proceeded to describe the events as they took place except the point they set out to make was that someone was "tattling" that the word wasn't really a bad word at all.

Paula Dean might have something to discuss with you, teacher.

The teacher never mentioned any names. Nobody knew all the players except for me and the teacher. I was taught perspective at that point. I was taught that not everybody shares the same values. I also learned that I could still hold to the values I was taught without compromising myself. I was still friends with the boy, at least for a while. But I learned not to forget what was right.

My father, as I have mentioned in prior blogs, was in a horrible crash one night while working. He and his partner were patrolling for poachers and were parked on the of a road out in the county when the poachers they were seeking came speeding down the road and ran into the side of the truck dad was driving. The driver of the other car was killed and dad's partner got a cut on his chin. Dad fared somewhat worse. The engine of the truck was pushed into the truck cab, rolling the firewall over dad's foot, crushing his ankle and trapping his foot. It also pushed his left femur out through the back of his pelvis. Last, the dashboard crumpled down and smashed dad's right leg just above the knee.

Jim, dad's partner, grabbed the microphone for the two-way radio and screamed to the police dispatch "There's been a crash and Grant's hurt!" The law enforcement community is pretty tight, but not as much as that small valley's contingent was. All of the agencies - Sheriff's office, Police department, Fish and Game, all worked together and knew and supported each other. Lamar Melville, one of the troopers headed out to the scene. Someone else had the foresight to stop by the hospital and grab the ER doctor who had recently returned from a stint in a MASH unit in Viet Nam. Everybody headed out to help.

Once Lamar got on the scene, with Roy Hansen, they used a six-foot pry bar to get the door open enough to get dad extricated, breaking dads ankle in the process. He never held it against them. The fire department and ambulance showed up, Highway Patrol on the scene, patients transported into town. Mom got a phone call, THE phone call, and was told "Grant's been in an accident and you should come to the hospital." Mom told me years later that she had no idea how bad things were.

Mom got to the hospital and was sitting in the waiting area of the ER when she heard sirens approaching. The rig stopped in the driveway and suddenly the doors exploded in as the attendants rushed in with dad on a gurney, the doctor straddling him performing chest compression in an effort to keep his heart beating and screaming "Somebody get an OR going, he's already died seven times and I don't know if I can bring him back again."

Dad survived through the night, and the next day, possibly two days later, they decided to transport him to Salt Lake City to a hospital better equipped to handle this amount of injury. The doctors didn't feel dad was stable enough to fly so they sent him via ground transport in case they needed to stop at another hospital en route. Dad was blessed to have his uncle as one of his doctors in Salt Lake and the teams worked tirelessly to put him back together. He didn't thrive in the hospital in spite of having his injuries on the mend and was sent home basically to die. Mom, family and friends all worked to do everything they could and he finally started to begin the terrible, long road to recovery. He never did fully recover, however, dad did live almost three decades after the crash, in constant pain and discomfort.

And he taught. Dad taught me that a person may have physical limitations and challenges, but there are usually ways to work around things. He also taught me that sometimes, in spite of whether you want to or not, you need to ask for help. Dad was incredibly resourceful during a time that prosthetics were sometimes barbarous and cruel. I remember how heavy his "leg" was and how he struggled at times.

What I don't remember was ever, not once, hearing dad complain about his situation. One more thing he taught me was that complaining didn't help. Fixing the problem did.

One of the local police officer's that was a friend of dad's was kind of obnoxious. He could be a little crude and he had what we used to call "a mouth". I noticed once that whenever he stopped by, mom would make herself scarce. When I asked her about it, she simply stated that he was dad's friend and that not all of dad's friends were her friends too. She didn't try to tell me that I couldn't like him, or that he was a bad person, she just let me make my own mind up about him.

I have a lot of examples of mom letting me learn my own way with gentle guidance. Even when she disagreed with someone, she never looked down on them or talked about them. She was truly one to let people live their own life. And yet she was accosted so many times by others. Neighbors, thankfully only a few, people in the community (mom had surgery on her feet and was in two walking casts while dad was healing and people that were family/friends of the other men involved in dad's accident would run into her feet with shopping carts at the grocery store), and even family. I'm not going to name names or go into details here, but I was lucky enough to comfort mom once in a while as she dealt with the pain from actions or words of family members.

And mom never sad a hurtful or unkind word about any of them. She would quietly rise above that. And she taught me to not judge.

Lately, this last lesson has been on my mind. A lot. For whatever reason I have recently been exposed to comments from people that have touched some nerve inside me. Some from friends, some from family and, thankfully, mostly from "others" such as Facebook or Twitter posts or the media. Quite often, these comments were made solely to hurt someone or to cast them in a light less than bright. Most of the time the comments were made because someone had an audience and could say whatever they wanted without thinking of anybody else. Some of the comments were made from beliefs and lessons learned. Some of the comments were made out of pain. When you speak out in pain, sadly, so many times your intention is to hurt someone else. You hurt and you want to make someone else hurt. They might be dead or just not have a clue that you were speaking of/to them. But you have no problem venting your spleen to alleviate your own pain.

I'm pretty outspoken and I encourage others to be so as well. As long as the conversation isn't just saying things to be mean or argumentative, as long as their is respect and a sharing of ideas, a discussion in the true sense, I'm okay with that. When comments are made just to hurt or insult, your argument is invalid and it is no longer a discussion.

Next, I'd like to ask a question of you, the reader. Have you ever made a decision that you know was wrong? Something major, life-changing. Have you done something that made you totally miserable and unhappy? How did you resolve that? What did you do to fix it? What if what you did to fix it hurt someone else?

Have you ever sacrificed your own happiness, your own contentment, in an effort to not offend someone regardless of how miserable it would make you? Have you ever witnessed someone else in either of these situations? What did you say to them? How did you tell them to resolve the issue?

How did you judge them?

More importantly, why did you judge them?

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Why guns? Here's one theory.

It seems to me that there is a major schism between those who think guns are the ultimate evil and will be the downfall of all humankind and those who use them as tools to perform a task which they were designed for.

One group imagines them with anthropomorphic capabilities granting it the ability to act on it's own with a demon-possessed mind, willfully acting out it's own evil designs and one group sees it as a machine, a device that isn't inherently negative, but is only as negative as the operator of the machine. It has no intentions of it's own, but relies on the designs and activities of the possessor.

Sitting and looking at a map, I began to see a picture in my mind of the divisions and it made me wonder first, then to suppose, and then to formulate an idea. It is going to a bit of a wander to get there, but let me start making my point here.

Along a little over 300 years ago, people started to gather on this continent. Those that came here first had skills to keep their families alive, to provide for them and to eke out a living. Homesteads first, then hamlets and small  townships. As the population slowly increased, and as they started to move towards a more industrial lifestyle where machinery started to be more prominent, individuals would invest first time and apprenticeships and second, in the tools of a trade.

People began to build their skills and then to trade these same skills, or the results of these skills, with others for their products. Trade began, enhanced bartering of something of value for something of value. A farmer would grow wheat, then take his crop to a miller who would keep a portion for himself. One man, or more likely, one family would bake bread and trade with the miller for a portion of what he collected from the farmers. Coopers would make barrels and buckets; wheelwrights would make wheels, trading with the blacksmith for the metal rims. Farmers would trade wheat flour for horseshoes from the blacksmith, buckets from the cooper, and bread from the baker. Each of these would trade with the butcher for meat if they didn't butcher their own. Hunters would trade meat from birds and animals that they harvested with the butcher. As talents were traded, this included market hunting providing meat to the butcher and people shopped for their food.

Goods and skills were traded and commerce grew. More and more, people developed skills and trades, and and more and more civilized people became. Families were known for what skill or product they traded. (Know anybody with any last names of the skills I listed?) All of these skills were valued and traded as people began to settle further and further from the Atlantic coast. People with specific skills would be recruited to help settle new areas.

 And as more and more people settled west, they followed the same pattern established by the first settlers of this continent. Rough living, providing mostly for yourself, then larger communities working together, then actual businesses moving in and civilization. Spreading farther west and building this great country.

Then, suddenly, something happened. Something made people look west. Something began to entice people to go farther, to get ahead of the life they were living. Gold was found on the Pacific coast.

People went and went fast. They rode fast across country, or they shipped around South America and dug in. With these same explorers, communities followed. People hoping to get rich, if not by finding gold, then by selling supplies and staples to the gold diggers and miners. These same people who had established their skills and trades on the Eastern or Atlantic coast, now were practicing their trades on the Western or Pacific coast. Maybe a family member who wasn't going to inherit the family business or was tired of competing with the rest of the family and wanted to strike out for their own fortune.

So now we have a major influx of people into the west coast. Gold wasn't the only commodity. Food was one industry . All manner of food and services. Bakeries, butchers, coopers, wheelwrights, lumber mills and carpenters. In fact, all the same types of businesses that were part of the urban society on the East/Atlantic coast. This facilitated major growth because of the wide open opportunities. Now the country was being settled from both coasts towards the center. And, as many of the opportunists that started heading for "golden" opportunities got tired or ran out of funds and stopped midway, there was major growth in the Midwest as well.

Then the growth began to move towards itself, moving towards the last vestige of the "wild west", the last frontier. Moving towards where people still had to eke a living out of the land. People farmed and ranched. They raised what they ate, and bartered or sold the extra for whatever else they needed. They fished. And they hunted. And, until organized law and justice came along, they protected themselves. They, gasp!, used guns.

And still, society progressed into these outlying areas, albeit more slowly without the impetus of riches or gold. Many other reasons drove them to these areas. Everything from family to religion to running away from the " crowd" of the cities, wanting the wide open spaces. My own family was part of this, settling in the great basin area in Salt Lake City, then moving up north to help settle the Cache Valley/Smithfield area of the territory, and later pulling up stakes and moving to the Calgary region in Canada. One side of the family helped settle the eastern Utah town of Roosevelt. Another stayed in the Salt Lake valley. And each of these lines had some hard work to do. They struggled and they strove to work and survive. To better themselves. Just to live.

After the horrors of "The Great War" and the period of growth after that, they were hit by the Great Depression as hard as any other part of the country. Suddenly, nobody had any money and were thrust back into the pre-urban lifestyle of providing for yourself and barter and trade.

By the way, providing for yourself quite often meant fishing and hunting just to provide meat for the table.

Through the Great War, the Great Depression, and then struggling through the "War to end all Wars", this environment of providing for yourself and your family, even mere survival, included hunting. And this great "Last Frontier" in the "Crossroads of the West" was really one of the last parts of the country that had such a great need to provide using such mundane means as guns. Even into the 1950's and 60's, guns were commonplace and frequently seen in public.

When I was in high school, it wasn't uncommon for young men to take guns to school. And if a teacher found  out you had a gun in your car, they'd make you show it to them. Then, likely as not, they would take you to their car and show you their gun! In the fall it wasn't uncommon to go hunting after school. There was dove and grouse season, pheasant season and duck, and then deer season. When we weren't hunting we were fishing. Even the girls got into it. Well, some of them anyway.

So the East coast and the West coast, having been settled by East-coasters, both are the farthest from having lived with guns as part of life. As part of our heritage. As tools used much like any other tool. and they cannot understand why these Midwest and Mountain West regions, including Nevada, Idaho, Utah, Arizona, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Kansas, Colorado, the Dakotas, Wyoming and Montana, still use guns, still live with guns, and do so safely and comfortably.

The two coasts just can't seem to understand why someone else would think and believe other than the way they do. Why we aren't afraid of them like they are. Why we would want to keep the right to bear arms.

Thursday, January 10, 2013


Working on a thought.

Or thinking on a work.

One of the two.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

You'll be in my heart

You'll be in my heart from this day on. Now, and forever more.

I got home form work tonight after a long day. All of them are long anymore. As I walked into the bedroom to change my clothes I saw you out of the corner of my eye and my heart all but stopped. The joy was instantaneous and amazing. I started to reach for you and realized that it wasn't you. That it won't ever be you again in this life.

The last time I held you was when you took your last breath. I felt your body go limp and your life leave as I held you in my arms. I cried out your name.

I couldn't help myself.

You lifted your face and looked at me as if to say "It's alright, everything is alright." Then you were gone.

I knew you were "alright". But my grief was, and is still to this day, a tangible, bitter thing. I loved you with all my heart. No, I love you with all my heart. Tears come easily when I think of you, and life, my life, goes on. But there is a huge hole within me and there is pain.

Pain isn't new to me, and I've been told that it's transient, that you can't really remember how much something hurts. Rather you remember that something hurt. And yet, when I am reminded of you, the pain comes flooding and tearing back. It's amazing how the grief and the pain rip apart any defenses I've managed to build. The memories are as sharp as taking off a fresh layer of skin. Not necessarily enough to bleed, but all the nerves are fresh and quickened, exposed and brilliant with feeling.

Some day we will be together again. You and me and others who have passed too soon. When that time comes, I know that there will be tears. I know that the joy will be as heart-rending as the pain I feel now. What a joyous reunion. And some days it can't come too soon.

For tonight, I will say that I love you as much as ever, that I miss you and will start once again to seek relief from the grief and pain I feel. 

Know this Isabelle, Isa, know that you are, and always will be, in my heart. 

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Enough: adjective. 1. adequate for the want or need; sufficient for the purpose

Go Rest High On That Mountain - Vince Gill

I know your life on earth was troubled
And only you could know the pain
You weren't afraid to face the Devil
You were no stranger to the rain

Go rest high on that mountain
Son your work on earth is done
Go to Heaven a shoutin'
Love for the Father and the Son

Pretty rough couple of months. Nobody's fault but my own. I guess I get it, and I don't have to like it.

Which is really pretty good because I don't. Like it, that is.

Another thing I don't like is that I'm struggling to escape it.  I'm not sure that I can. I'd like to think I can and I'd like to think I have the strength needed to break free. Mentally or physically, I really wish I could reach terminal velocity and clear the gravity of whatever the hell has me in its grasp.

Each day I think I'm failing much better than the last.

Some days I think I'm ready to "go rest high" myself, to go find that mountain.

Some days I've had enough.

Monday, September 3, 2012

Once, Twice, Thrice. (or Still Unfit for Human Consumption.)

In answer to a previous blog question, yes, it is me. Even more these past few days I saw people pulling away from me. How offensive or repulsive must I be?

And while this should bother me more than it does, I find more and mire that I will justify it a something I deserve.

My apologies to you, K.

Friday, August 10, 2012

Is it me?

I must have too much time on my hands. I keep finding myself obsessing thinking about recent events and wondering what it was that I did to cause that to happen, whatever "that" was. I'd like to think that my mind is working so frenetically that it runs out of things to think about while I am about my daily tasks, and then begins to look for other things to do while my hands and body are plodding along trying to keep up.

Yeah, I didn't buy that one either.

More likely, I'm so ADD that every distraction that comes along insinuates itself into my grey matter like a tick or a spider and then claws into the mass until it gets the attention it's seeking.

Okay, THAT needs a little mental bleach.

Back to the topic as I intended, when I start to think on these recent events I try to ascertain cause and effect. What did I do to cause that event? What did I do to alter that course of action? And of course I look at it as my fault - why wouldn't I? I am well aware of being my own worst critic, but then I know myself better than any other person does, therefore I know my faults. And while I know that not everything is my fault, it's still my fault.

A couple of things that happened to me within the past week or two grabbed my attention like virtual slaps in the face. Things that on the surface shouldn't have meant much, and probably don't, but for whatever reason turned into those parasitic critters, digging and chewing their way into my psyche (LOVELY image) until I found myself revisiting them, much like picking at a scab that would heal faster and with less scarring if left alone. True OCDers (CDOers for the truly, TRULY CDO) know better. "Why leave it alone when you can do some serious mental gymnastics with this one?" I should have probably just left well enough alone.

I didn't.

The first event happened a few weeks ago. I was having a discussion with a friend who was dealing with some issues I wasn't a part of, but mostly just venting. Looking for an opportunity to verbalize what was going on at the time, mostly for their own sake. I certainly didn't have any answers. At one point, however, I said something to them and, to stress my point, I reached out and touched the back of their hand with my fingertips. Not a slap, not grabbing, not poking. Just a soft touch on their hand. When I did this, they flinched. They flinched. They. Flinched.

Is it me?

My first thought was that I surprised them, but as we were sitting at a table fairly close and had been so for a while, I was pretty sure they knew I was there at the time. My second thought was "What do you see when you look at me?" What kind of image do I throw out, what impression of myself do I share with others? Am I mean or a brute? Did they think I was going to hit them? Am I just that creepy?

Don't answer that last one.

It was something so small, so insignificant and yet it almost completely derailed my ability to finish the conversation. The hurt was palpable. Still, when I think back about it, I still feel that little squeeze where my heart is supposed to be. It really made me look at our friendship and wonder at the validity of it. Is it all pretend, are we just playing at being friends?

I don't have the answer.

The other day a friend turned and made a comment to me. After a few moments they realized they were talking to the wrong person and apologized, laughing, and life went on. A small, insignificant instance. Nothing of import, no feelings hurt, nobody offended. And yet, I find myself wanting to be the person to whom they were asking the question. We shared a chuckle at it and it was forgotten.

Except it wasn't.

And I can't help but wonder if it is me. Again. (Still?) Is it my attitude? Am I mean, low or base? I admit to having a pretty dark sense of humor - I still think farts are funny. Am I sleazy? (Strike that - it falls into the same category as creepy, see above.) Is it something I can't see? What am I that I am not what I want to be? And how do I fix what is broken.

I dont' expect any answers. I don't know that my ego can take much more abuse. No worries, I'm stable and confident enough that even if I never figure it out, I will survive. I'm also a realist enough that I know that whatever is lacking or whatever it is I am doing, I own. It's me whether I discover what it is or not. Those who I have asked tell me there isn't anything, that I am being too hard on myself. I just don't see it that way. Maybe I'm reaching for a star I'll never touch. I know I'll never be perfect. Hell, I'll never be what I want to be.

But I can't help but wonder, is it me?