Saturday, November 26, 2016

Thoughts on Living, Dying... and Christmas

Living the kind of eclectic life I've lived, I've gained a perspective that others can... and in fact have... considered bizarre.  I was thinking about this recently when a dear friend of mine from high school passed away after a long battle with pancreatic cancer.

I was with her just after she was diagnosed, and did a portrait session of her at the time... which I knew inwardly her family might value when she was gone.  It was a gift from me to her.

From the time she was diagnosed, we spoke often on Facebook, and I was able to follow her through her anger, through her bargaining, through her stubborn resistance, through her outright denial,through her entire grieving process.  It tore my heart out.

One day, not long into her battle, in the midst of hearing her insist (yet again) that she would "beat this" and be "OK," I found myself getting emotional, and a bit indignant.  So I wrote her a message that I'm sure made her angry.  She was totally NOT expecting what I told her.  Keep in mind that she had just been given the news that she had Stage 4 cancer.

I said,

"I think you’ve been given a tremendous gift."

"Having been a paramedic for as long as I was, one of the things that never ceased to amaze me was the realization that every single patient that I treated that passed away, mostly from trauma... Didn't plan on going home that day.

"They were completely unprepared. They never had a chance to prepare. They never got to say goodbye. They never got to make their wrongs right.

"Each and every one of them would have given all they had for what you have... a chance to prepare.

"I think the thing that all of us forget sometimes in our illusion of immortality, is that all of us... without exception... are going to die sometime.

"The thing that matters is what we do with the time we have left.

"It may sound funny, but serve others. Immerse yourself in service where you can. And give your children the gift of your time, so that they can continue to create memories.

"They will cherish that. And write. Give them a part of you to keep forever. Write your personal history.
 She let me know that she didn't appreciate my sentiments.  She snapped back, "Thank  you.  But I'm not hopeless.  I still think I am going to make it."

Her response, while not unexpected, was disappointing to me.  If only we could truly appreciate the gift of time that each one of us has been so graciously given.  Time to heal.  Time to forgive.  Time to say goodbye.  Time to create memories that we will cherish for the eternities.  Time to do all the things we have been planning on doing "someday."

Someone told me that doctors rarely opt for treatment measures to extend their lives in the midst of terminal diseases... instead, knowing the kind of "quality of life" they will be extending for just a few weeks or months, they opt instead to prepare.  And from my perspective, that makes so much more sense.

Time is a gift.  This Christmas season, spend yours wisely.  You never know when your time will be gone.  It could be in an instant.  I could be over the course of painful months and/or years.  Prepare NOW.

Sunday, September 11, 2016

"Oh.... It's you."

Back in June of this year, when I was struggling with a particularly nasty bout of severe depression... I wrote a blog in which I uncharacteristically laid bare the demons that I wrestle with, and have, for years now. 

In reading over it tonight, as I sat at my computer, wishing that I were happily snoozing in my nice, warm, bed... I noticed that there were two comments on my blog post... which kind of surprised me.  What surprised me even more was that they were from my mother-in-law.

The first comment was rather long, and very compassionate... gushy, even.  I was actually becoming somewhat moved that my mother-in-law was showing so much concern, compassion and empathy for what I had been struggling with.  But then when I reached the end, it became clear that she was confused, and thought that my wife had written the blog... most likely because my wife probably shared my blog on her own wall, where my mother-in-law saw it.

The second comment is what really grabbed my attention.  She "walked back" her comments, saying "I think I have to back up here... " wondering if my wife or I had written the blog entry... and added that if it was ME, instead of her daughter, then she was "surprised because [she] would never have guessed [me] to be depressed."  She added that I could "talk to her if I wanted to."  End of comment.

Sometimes people around you... even family... especially family... can be so utterly clueless that you either have to laugh or cry.

This is a woman who has almost single-handedly destroyed my wife's life, treating her like she was garbage, like my wife was the family pariah, and like she was almost sorry that she ever had my wife as a child.  I can't even count the number of devastatingly horrible, hurtful things she has said to my wife just since we've been married.  Before we were married, when my wife's first husband was physically abusing her, my sweet mother-in-law once told my wife, "I can't believe that [her ex] didn't start beating you sooner," or something of that nature. 

When Tracy and I married, my oldest step-daughter was 14, and had been acting as something of a pseudo-parent to the other kids while my wife struggled as a single mom with 5 kids... many of whom, we would learn later, had serious issues.  When we married, she felt "replaced" when she was no longer needed in that role... and became deeply, sociopathically resentful.  Over the next few years, she pulled apart from the family, and became more and more disruptive, to the point where we finally had to ask her to leave our home.

Over the next couple of decades, she would succeed in turning the entirety of just about all the family my wife had left against me... and then my wife for "staying with me."  She decided to punish my wife for... well...  being my wife by cutting off all communication with her, and forbidding her from ever seeing her children... my wife's only grandchildren.

She falsely accused me to being "inappropriate" with her... because, when her grandfather died (who she was very close to), and she was sobbing, my wife and I sat next to her on her bed, and I pulled her up onto my lap and held her while she sobbed, while her mother hugged her as well.

Desperate to garner sympathy with her peers and to lash out at us, she starting leveling false accusations.  Behind our backs in a blog she wrote that she never thought we would see, that tender moment when her "papa" died suddenly turned that into a "strange middle-aged man forcing me on top of him," and she started calling herself a "survivor."  Words can't describe our feelings of betrayal and hurt on reading the fabrications she wrote... which she quickly took down when she found out that we had seen it.

And, quite frankly, it would have been one thing to have a bitter, petulant child do this.

But my wife's brother, and my mother-in-law, both bought into these lies (after all, they said, why would she lie?), and were cruel beyond belief to both my wife and I.  They constantly trashed us behind our backs to anyone that would listen.  This very vindictive step-daughter even began actively trying to indoctrinate our other children and turn them against us as well, which she succeeded in doing with several of my other step-children.

In the midst of all of this, my mother-in-law steadfastly sided with step-daughter in condemning me, leaving my wife without a family, without any love and support from those who should have been there for her no matter what... and most hurtfully, without her own grandchildren.  Her own mother cluelessly contributed to all of this mean-spirited, vindictive evil, apparently not even being cognizant of the consequences her actions were having.

It's been very difficult for me to wrap my arms around this emotionally, spiritually, and every other way.  How can someone who is supposed to be there for you... your own family... be so unbelievably cold, callous, cruel and hurtful?  I'll never understand it. 

The reality is that much of the severity of my depression has been fueled by the events that occurred in my wife's family over the last 20-odd years.  Seeing my mother-in-law's comment on my blog post just kinda triggered an avalanche of bitter feelings.  And when my demons show up... as they do from time to time... this is one that quite often leads the pack.

This is not how it's supposed to be.  This is not how any of this is supposed to be.

Saturday, June 25, 2016

"For now we see through a glass, darkly"

When the apostle Paul penned these words to the Corinthians, he was referring to our limited knowledge as mortals of spiritual things.  But in another sense, this phrase represents an apt description of what it's like to be severely depressed.

I recently had an eye exam, and have always been fascinated by that machine... you know the one... "Is 1 better, or 2?"   "2 or 3?"  Lenses of different types flip back and forth, sometimes improving our sight, sometimes making it worse.  Sometimes it's impossible to see a change at all.  In the end, we hopefully arrive at that perfect combination of correction that allows us to "see" clearly again.  All too often, however, life serves up a strange array of lens combinations that completely screw up our ability to see clearly.

I realized, as I thought about this experience, that it was a perfect metaphor for the kind of depression that I suffer from.  To me, depression isn't just "feeling sad."  That's a gross over-simplification, and is actually pretty insulting to those who are deeply depressed, as it minimizes the depth and breadth of what they typically experience.  Severe depression is much deeper and infinitely more complex than that. It is an infinite set of layers of strange lenses.

Think about it.  If I were just "sad," there are a ton of things that I know I could do to brighten my spirits.  With serious depression, however, almost nothing helps, and even worse, you don't FEEL like doing ANYTHING.  It isn't something that is "once in a while."  It's EVERY "while."  Even as I sit here writing this, the overwhelming feeling is to walk away from this blog and do something else, because... what difference will it make?

Severe depression is an Insidiously Vicious Cycle from Hell.  It is relentless.  It never ends. And it relentlessly feeds on itself, growing stronger and more vicious.

A great example.

I often lament that I have no close friends, no one to really talk to, no one who will understand the good, bad, and the ugly that is me, and yet still be there for me.  I crave that.  I've had it at different points in my life, and those were the times when I can look back and say, "Now THAT was a good day..."

On the other hand, I understand perfectly why I have no close friends, and quite frankly, I don't blame anyone for not wanting to be close to me.  After all, I'm a loser.  I'm miserable to be around.  I'm a failure.  An insufferable asshole.  A pariah.  I disappoint those closest to me, and let everyone I care about down.  I don't even like me, so how can I fault anyone else for not liking me?  I'm not worthy of love.  I've come to accept that you'll never have what other people have.  After all, I don't deserve it.

But then... the loneliness.  "Gosh, I wish I had just one close friend..." and the guilt, shame, regret, and anguish come out to play.   It's both dizzying, frustrating, and demoralizing.  And it never ends.

You crave acceptance, understanding, and compassion, but the depression that grips your soul makes you someone so difficult to accept and hard to understand that it's next to impossible for others to feel compassion for you.

The undercurrent of irritability, anger and annoyance with just about everyone and everything ebbs and flows like the tides, but never really goes away. 

When the emotional "tide" is in and you're deeply depressed, it's difficult to be around anyone without saying or doing something rude, intolerant or unkind.  The compulsion to judge, to be harsh, to be abrupt, short, and untactful and undiplomatic washes over you like a 50-ft wave. 

When the tide comes back out, guilt and regret at how you treated people when the tide was in become your constant companion... and you vow to be different, to change, to "be better next time."   Until the "next time" comes.  But it's never better.  Wash, rinse, repeat.  You never get a break... never a chance to just be... happy.

Of course, those around you see you as either a Colossal Asshole, or a garden-variety asshole.  They never see the "real you." They never see the person you wish you could show them... the kind, loving, compassionate, funny, happy, upbeat, cheerful person that you imagine yourself to be when you dream.

And when you're not obsessed with trying to figure out what you can do to make people like you, much less love you, your depression takes the cue and steps into the forefront of your internal dialog to (very loudly) remind you of every petty, dark, disgusting, evil, horrible, selfish, hurtful, and despicable thing you've ever done in your life to remind you of just how utterly ridiculous you look trying to find something... anything... about yourself that can make yourself "likeable..." to someone.  And of course, your depression speaks inviolate truth.  Which is why you are a loser, and unworthy of friendship and Love.  Back to Depression Central.  Wash, rinse, repeat.

It's an unending Hell.  It's an infernal merry-go-round that never lets you off.  The only thing that keeps you from hurling yourself into the Great Abyss is the fleeting glances of the colors, sunshine, and happiness that others get to enjoy... and for a brief moment, imagining how they must feel.   

The bottom line to this rather depressing blog is simply this... severe depression (especially when it comes adorned with the cherry of PTSD on top) varies in type and intensity from person to person.  It's never simple.  It's always complex and convoluted and difficult to get your arms around.  And it's always debilitatingly painful.  And rest assured that you have no earthly clue what anyone with severe depression is really feeling.  You might feel like you can relate, because you've had "sad days."  Those with severe depression think that's absolutely adorable.

If there is someone in your life who suffers from this horrendous condition, here is the magic bullet... just love them.  Embrace them without judgment, especially when their emotional tide is "in."  Don't wait for an engraved invitation to let them know that you accept them.  Let them know, whether they know you know about their condition or not, how much you value them... no matter how they treat you from time to time.  Because it really isn't about you.  Hardly ever.  Doing just those little things will give them a sliver of hope... which could be all they need to hang on to.


Friday, November 6, 2015

"Suffer the Little Children..."

At the behest of several friends who are seriously struggling with the leaked new instructions from the Church's Handbook of Instructions (A policy guide for local leaders), I'm going to venture a response to the announcement and its implications. 

First, by way of open disclosure, you should know, Dear Reader, that this blog entry is an attempt to deal with a difficult, complex, and largely misunderstood issue intelligently, fairly, and reasonably... so if you are looking for fiery emotional vitriol, you will be sorely disappointed.  And if you LEAVE fiery emotional vitriol in the comments, you will be sorely deleted.

Some have suggested with varying degrees of hysterics, histrionics, hand-wringing and not a small amount of weeping and wailing that the Big, Bad Church is now not only hateful and homophobic, and but is Satanically Cruel in denying salvation to little children of gay couples.

Here's a news flash. 

The Big, Bad Church has ALWAYS  decried homosexuality as a serious moral sin.  Always.  That's never changed.  The only thing in that area that HAS changed is that a) the Church has made their love and concern for those affected by Same Sex Attraction much more clear and noticeable, and b) their alarm over the increasing acceptance of this practice in our society... something which would have been unheard of even 30-40 years ago.

"But condemning innocent children and babies?  Seriously?  How cruel and heartless!   Those little children didn't do anything wrong!"

This is where the proverbial wheels fall off the critics of the Church who are attempting to turn this issue into a rallying cry for wholesale apostasy.  This announcement has nothing whatsoever to do with "punishing" children of same-sex parents.  In fact, it's exactly the opposite.

The reality is that baby blessings are not salvific in nature.  In other words, a baby blessing has nothing whatsoever to do with babies being saved or not.  It is an opportunity for the father of that child to give it a father's blessing, and to announce the baby's name as it will appear on the records of the Church as a "child of record."  Being a "Child of Record" is not the same as being a member of the Church.  That only occurs when the child is baptized and confirmed a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints... just like everyone else.

The prophet Moroni made it very clear in the Book of Mormon that babies are saved in the Kingdom of God, as they are innocent.  That hasn't changed.  They are still pure, precious, and entitled to Celestial glory should they die before the age of accountability.  Nothing in this announcement changes that.

So what changed?  Children of same-sex couples (who, by the Lord's standard, are living in serious moral sin and if married, apostasy) cannot receive this blessing, and when eligible, have higher standards to meet for baptism because of the circumstances of their home environment... just like a child of polygamist parents, which the Church also considers to be serious moral sin, and apostasy.  

The concern is that the influence of parents living in serious moral sin may have created beliefs and attitudes in the child that are contrary to the Lord's standards of righteousness.  This is the situation with children of polygamist families as well.  Since gay marriage has now become the law of the land, it is no surprise that this policy has been extended to them as well.

For those who question why innocent children "should be held to a higher standard" regarding baptism, there is extensive scriptural precedent.

Throughout history, particularly as documented in the Old Testament (see, for instance, 1 Sam 15), innocent children were actually slain "for the sins of the fathers," presumably because had they been left to grow up in the toxic and unrighteous environment they were in, they may have been worse than the parents who raised them in rebellion against God... and taking their lives as innocent children, where they were assured of salvation, was actually a blessing for them and a merciful act of a loving Heavenly Father.

While this is not the same situation in severity, of course, and no one is advocating mercy killings of children of same-sex parents, it very much is in principle... and the concern is reasonable and prudent.

Let me try to put this in a secular situation that might make more sense.

Let's say that a certain employee, who has worked for General Motors all their career, decides to go to work for Ford Motor Company.  During all of their years at General Motors, they have been taught and indoctrinated about how evil and deficient Fords are.

The hiring manager at Ford, knowing of the employee's background at General Motors, might reasonably be more cautious and probing in the hiring and interview process no matter how much they wanted the employee to join them, perhaps even referring the hiring decision to the CEO for approval, to ensure that Ford's interests are not being compromised by someone who might believe that Ford Motors is, in fact, evil and deficient.  They are not rejecting the employee from being hired... they are simply being cautious throughout the process.  Without this caution and due diligence, the employee might have caused serious damage to Ford from within, and may have poisoned the reputation and quality that Ford may have worked long and hard to create.  The employee could have caused serious damage to other employees, "poisoning the well," so to speak, regarding the other employees commitment to Ford.

This is precisely what the Church is doing with children being raised (and perhaps indoctrinated by) same-sex parents... just like those children being raised (and perhaps indoctrinated by) polygamist families.   The Church has not only a right, but a sacred obligation, to protect itself and its members.  No one is denying salvation to anyone.  Rather, the Brethren, in an action that they had to have known would cause negative emotions, had the courage to do what the Lord directed them to do to protect His Church, rather than take the "easy way out" and do nothing.

Thursday, June 4, 2015

Allodoxaphobia. Say THAT Three Times Fast.

For those not familiar with the subtle nuances of the Wide, Wonderful World of Phobias, Allodoxaphobia is the "fear of opinions."  And it seems that this particular phobia is growing at an astronomical pace in this country.

For those burdened by this phobia, the very idea that others could hold an opinion (much less a valid opinion) that differs from their own is terrifying and, in fact, soul-crushing.  It threatens their very existence, and all that they hold to be sacred.  The very existence of such a differing opinion implies that their own opinion might not, in fact, be de facto truth.

Because of this irrational terror, those suffering from Allodoxaphobia spasmodically label anyone with a different opinion to be a "hater" or in a master stroke of Transference, as having a <fill in the blank here>phobia themselves... e.g. "transphobia," "homophobia," etc. 

Those suffering from this malady have a compulsive need to silence any and all others that have differing opinions in order to give their own more credence.  Indeed, anyone embracing a different, contradictory opinion is a serious threat to the emotional and mental well-being of the Allodoxaphobic, and must be immediately marginalized, minimized, trivialized, and demonized in a desperate attempt to invalidate the offending opinion, dampen its terrifying nature, and reduce the chance that it might just hold some validity.  If there is one thing that Allodoxaphobics can't deal with, it's admitting that a differing opinion might have even a modicum of said validity. To do such would necessarily weaken the inerrant, exalted, and unimpeachable status they have arrogantly awarded their own personal opinions.

This explains why those that have a differing opinion on whatever issue has been blessed as the cause-o'-the-hour cannot be allowed to simply disagree.  They must be crushed.  They must be silenced.  They must be eliminated.  They cannot be allowed to exist.  Resistance is futile.  We are One Of Many.

To Allodoxaphobics, Free Speech is not a fundamental liberty at all, but a conditional liberty that the Left only affords to themselves, as they have already judged those who reject their progressive agenda and liberal ideals as being unworthy of that particular freedom, and, as the Gate-Keepers of All Things Rational, they believe that only they have the inherent natural right (Nay, DUTY!) to deny basic rights and freedoms to the stupid, moronic mouth-breathers who are too colossally dumb to remain in lock-step.  Such are clearly not thinking rationally, and therefore have forfeited their right to speak freely.

Those who disagree must be portrayed as "hating" the object of their disagreement, as such a negative and emotionally-charged word MUST demand that having a different opinion is a Very Bad Thing, and those that have the bad form to embrace such different opinions are Very Bad People.  And, as we are all acutely aware, Very Bad People cannot be trusted, and their opinions don't matter.  After all, everyone knows that if you HATE something, you are automagically WRONG.  And BAD.  And EVIL.  Did I say "Bad"?

Of course, the alternate to labeling all who disagree as "haters" is to claim that such have some sort of irrational fear of the target of their disagreement.  In the minds of Allodoxaphobics, it is literally impossible to have a valid disagreement with their opinion.  It simply cannot be.  One who claims such has a serious mental defect, as no sane (informed) person would disagree.  Again, the object is to reject any semblance of validity to any differing opinion and to strongly demand that anyone harboring such a differing opinion is mentally ill or otherwise untrustworthy.  Therefore, anyone who disagrees MUST be petrified of the awful and indisputable reality (truth) thrust forward by the Allodoxaphobics.  No, when Allodoxaphobics speak, the "thinking has been done."  All that remains is to get in step with their official pronouncements.

One recent example of this bizarre and disturbing phenomena was the article released by Dr. Paul R. McHugh, the former psychiatrist-in-chief for Johns Hopkins Hospital and its current Distinguished Service Professor of Psychiatry, author of 6 books and 125 peer-reviewed journals, in which he states that "transgenderism is a 'mental disorder' that merits treatment, that sex change is 'biologically impossible,' and that people who promote sexual reassignment surgery are collaborating with and promoting a mental disorder."

Of course, the Left instantly had an apoplectic seizure, refuting Dr. McHugh's opinion with such erudite and stunning intellectual gems as "And so's yer old man!" "Moron."  "Mentally imbalanced hack" and many other equally-substantive and well-reasoned responses.

Dr. McHugh (and those that agree with his conclusions) are not simply those with differing opinions, they are Very Bad People.  And they must be silenced.

Sunday, May 10, 2015

Sleepless on Mother's Day

Tylenol PM has been a trusty friend to me over the last few months... and rarely lets me down.  Until tonight.  Instead of a deep, peaceful sleep, blissfully sucking air out of the C-PAP machine purring quietly in my nightstand, I'm sitting at my computer, restless, with a ponderous weight on my mind.

It's Mother's Day, 2015.  And this may surprise you, but this isn't about my mother.

No, it's about another mother.  The mother of my children.  My sweet wife.

Later on this morning, while mothers the world over are being pampered, indulged, and showered with love and attention, my sweet wife has yet one more annual reminder of the mean-spiritedness and vindictiveness of her oldest two children... another opportunity to wipe tears from her eyes and pretend that her heart is not permanently broken.  For reasons only known to the Almighty, my wife's oldest children have turned their backs on her and have shut her completely out of their lives.  For over 14 years now.

It would be understandable if she were able to point to some huge fight, tragic event, or life-changing incident to explain how this could possibly be, but neither of us can.  It is nothing more nor less than selfish vindictiveness, cruelty and spite.  It is evil and Satanic.  And utterly unforgivable.  And every year, we unwillingly are forced to relive this particular train-wreck in all of its technicolor glory and emotional gore.

A little back-story might help.

When my wife and I married in March of 1997, she had five children by a previous marriage.  The oldest daughter, Michele, was 14.  A strong-willed, intelligent young woman, Michele had happily and eagerly settled into the role of quasi-parent after my wife divorced her then-husband, a mean-spirited and abusive husband and father, who would later commit suicide.   My wife had just completed court reporting school, and Michele took on a significant amount of responsibility after her parents divorced.

And that's when it all started to go South.

When my wife and I married, all of a sudden Michele was no longer in the "inner circle" of parenting... and became deeply resentful and angry.  This anger seethed under the surface until she left our home around 4 years later.  Even though her anger smoldered over the next several years, my wife was still invited to be a part of her life.  Then, almost out of the blue, Michele changed her mind about having a relationship with her mother.  Apparently, she decided that her mother should be "punished" for replacing her as a quasi-parent with a real one.  For no apparent reason, she shut her mother out of her life completely, and to this day refuses to speak to her, or to allow her mother to see or have any relationship with her grandchildren.

I've agonized over this over the years... a lot... trying to wrap my arms around how a grown child could be so cruel to their own flesh and blood for no other reason than to "get even" for a perceived slight this ridiculous.  And I've failed.  I just don't get it.  It's beyond my comprehension and experience.  It's foreign territory.

In my world, families stick together.  They get mad, angry, bent out of shape, butt-hurt, whatever... but time heals all wounds, and the day invariably comes when things are made whole again... apologies are extended, forgiveness is granted, and feelings are mended.  Not in this case, however.

There is nothing in the world more difficult, I don't think, than watching someone you love grieve and suffer under the constant, oppressive pain of being rejected by their own child for no particular reason.

As I settle into my annual analysis paralysis regarding this travesty and what to do about it, I invariably draw a blank.  I'm a typical guy who likes to "fix things," and to make things right.  And yes, I'm well aware that "It's not about the nail!" for those who have seen that rather painfully accurate Facebook video.  But I have no clue what to do about this.  I'm out of my league here.

My wife and I have been married for 18 years now.  And tonight, as I have every Mother's Day for the last 13-14 years, I sit here agonizing over how this could possibly be, and why a child could be that emotionally abusive to someone who doesn't deserve it, and who sacrificed everything for them.  How can any rational person find nothing wrong with inflicting unspeakable pain on those who love them... just for spite?

Tomorrow, life will resume.  We will bustle about, tending to our jobs and family, and life will go on.  But for right now, in the quiet of the butt-crack of dawn, at O' Dark Thirty, my heart breaks again for my sweet wife and what she has been made to endure.

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Ruminations on Another Year Above Ground

Well, another year.  And so far, I'm still drawing breath.  Like the guy falling from the 110th floor said as he passed the 10th floor, "So far, so good."

I've finally passed the point where I'm not surprised to still be around... it dawned on me this morning that every day is a gift, especially since there have been so many times during the past 57 years that I could have cut this mortal journey short and taken the long dirt nap.  Now I find that I'm pleasantly surprised to have survived another orbit around El Sol and to be able to eat my salads from the top down, instead of the bottom up.

I was born during the Eisenhower Administration.  David O. McKay was the leader of my church.  The only "Beatles" anyone knew of were nothing more than insects.  The Cold War was hovering at sub-zero temperatures, and Baby Boomers were popping out like bunnies, basking in the affluent glow of post-war prosperity.

Times were simpler.  We had heroes.  We laughed at clean jokes.  People cared about each other.  You could leave your doors unlocked at night.  Your kids could go play around the neighborhood without fear.  And drive-by shootings only happened at the movies... by gangsters.  Movies were "G" rated and actually had plot lines and character development.  Our wives and daughters dressed modestly.  We trusted the news to tell us the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth.  There was no sub-culture.  Profanity, "free sex" and drugs were almost unheard of.  Divorce and pre-marital pregnancies were scandalous.  Family time and sitting around the table playing board games was a thing.  We got spanked.  Even at school.  Our mothers cut our hair, and made our clothes.

We talked on party lines, and wrote on manual typewriters.  Neither computers nor the internet existed.  We took walks, and knew who our neighbors were.  We actually talked to each other.  Teenaged boys regularly babysat to earn extra money without raised eyebrows.  Teenaged girls didn't text... they sat by an old-fashioned phone on Friday nights, hoping that a boy would call.  We had sleepovers.  We made tent forts out of couch cushions and blankets.  We explored.  We didn't have McDonalds, Burger King, or Wendys.  We had cherry phosphates at the drugstore.  We had paper routes.  We ate lunch at the lunch counter at Woolworth's.  We shopped at "Five and Dimes."  We bought penny candy that really was penny candy.

We had to suffer through the complexity and smells of mimeograph machines or the smudges of carbon paper if we wanted to make a copy.  Photographers shot on actual film, actually had darkrooms, and had to get their images right... in the camera... the first time... not knowing until the film was developed if they "got the shot" or not.

We had mental hospitals and sanitariums.  And they were full.  There generally were no "ambulances."  If you were in an accident and badly hurt, you were probably going to die.  We had seat belts, but never used them.  Our cars had bench seats.  Neither CPR nor the Heimlich Maneuver existed.  Children had polio, and lived in "iron lungs."   Medicine had yet to enter the technological age, and lab tests were done by hand... with a microscope... in a doctor's office.  By doctors who really made house calls.  Fathers were not allowed in delivery rooms.  We sent messages by Western Union.

I could go on and on.  I miss those days.  My heart aches that my children will never know them.  I'm humbled and deeply grateful that I was blessed enough to experience them... to have THOSE days as my heritage... and the ones in which my character and values were molded and formed.

I'm grateful that I am still upright and able to watch the Final Act of this world unfold.  I have no idea how many more I have left.  But I will forever miss those innocent days.