Memorial Day – and it looks as if it will be as beautiful a day as yesterday, which must go down in the annals as one of the fairest days since Time began. I was thinking that this is a perfect time of year to remember the young men – boys, almost – who have died for the Nation. The year is poised for Summer, everything is green with that freshness that fades in Summer’s heat, and all about birds are nesting, fields are being plowed and planted and everything speaks of possibility and promise; it is at exactly the point were these men were, just ready to begin their adult lives and their families, filled with the sense of perhaps. And it turned out that their harvest came early, although it was no less of a bounty to their fellow countrymen for that; each of them saved for the rest of us our way of life, which is at least as much as they could have done during lives spent in the farms, factories and offices of the land. But it is not what they hoped or planned, and thousands upon thousands of fatherless children and bereft parents and spouses too paid a heavy price. And we must remember, too, the thousands who did not die but who were condemned to lives with minds and bodies damaged. We see many tales of amazing vets who have risen above the loss of limbs to achieve great things, but so many were unable to do so, and these guys (and, increasingly, women) have pretty much given everything they had, too.
I said last week that my cousin Warren would visit me, fresh from his stint in Iraq, and so he did with his extremely cool wife whom I had not previously met. Marlena is German; although one of her parents was American, she was raised in Germany, but were you to meet her, you would never guess that she wasn’t raised just down the road. In fact she joined the American Air force where, I gather, she and Warren met although I didn’t think to ask for particulars. As usual when there are ears within the vicinity, I did at least 75% of the talking. We spent the day together, and both of them are so full of excitement at the life they are launched upon that they couldn’t help but bring a dim spark of hope into my life, too. First, Warren’s best friend is a writer who has already published two books. I had sent Warren copies of my early blogs on MySpace during his tour of duty; he told me he would lie in his bunk laughing out loud. I’ll have to go back and re-read them; I don’t recall what was funny about my tales of being in jail or in the nut house, but so it was,. Anyway, he said if I could get my writing together in some form, he’d talk to his friend who has an agent and well, you know. In addition, Warren and Marlena are both out of the service and said that people always talk about taking a year off to travel and they decided they could afford to actually do it, and that is what they are doing right now. As soon as they got sprung from the service, they launched this project with a tour of Asia, during which they both fell in love with Bali. Warren said it felt like home to him. So they are returning there in January and they’d like me to join them if I could.
So, wow! Probably something I can’t do, but still. Lots to think about, and only a job I dislike to stop me. Or, if I get my retirement going in time, there is the issue of money. Warren told me the family thinks I am totally loaded with the stuff, because they have this idea that I am some kind of computer guru (despite my many statements to the contrary) and even more that I made a fortune in Saudi, which a) I didn’t and b) I spent freely. The more you tell that branch of the family the truth the more they meet each other’s eyes and think they know better.
As to retirement, the new door I wanted to install before having my home evaluated for a reverse mortgage has been put in place and it looks spectacular. Where once I had a windowless black slab of wood, I now have a beautiful leaded glass extravaganza, with beveled edges on the glass insets and a series of circular prism-cut ‘jewels’ which let a flood of light into my foyer-type area. Every time I approach the area, I think I have left the door open. So Tuesday, I can start calling the places that give reverse mortgages and see what kind of a deal I can get. And if that goes through, I am on the threshold of my freedom at last.
I feel I owe my more devout reader(s) a survey of what’s going on with god’s work in the world. In Ireland, It has been revealed that the orphanages run there by Holy Mother Church have been, pretty much without exception, bastions of severe physical and sexual abuse for most of the twentieth century. Children were beaten for they knew not what constantly. The aim was to induce in them feelings of inferiority and submissiveness. A sense of their sinfulness. In Africa, I see that Sixty Minutes reports that the clergy there have found a money-maker in the general belief in witchcraft on that unfortunate continent. They declare that one child or another is a witch and for a fee, they agree to exorcise these children, which involves physical abuse, including biting pieces out of their bodies. The parents, devout Christians all, then turn the child out into the street as often as not, and the child, who often has not even been behaving badly, is left to become a street child. A significant portion of the street children in Kinshasa is innocent children whose parents are still alive, but who have been outcast because they are witches. And here in America another parent has taken her cancer-ridden child on the run so she can have him treated with Indian magic instead of a treatment with 90% success rate.
I personally am of the opinion that the mother in this last case should be allowed to treat the kid any way she wants. It is a win/win situation for society – if the kid is cured by a good dose of boiled grass, then we have found a marvelous new cure for cancer and we all benefit; if he dies, we are spared yet another religious wacko to blight society. Don’t get me wrong; I think religion is a great thing – but only if you are a member of the clergy. God help you if you are a child, though. But I figure that the clergy drains off many of the people who otherwise would become Bernie Madoff. People who pass their tithes to the various brands of theologists get what they paid for, just as does the man who gives a hundred bucks to a streetwalker. If he wants to believe her when she tells him he is really a great lover, well, what’s the harm?