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The rambling thoughts of Dr. Giddy

Big Fish – My Father’s Death: Take 2 (An excerpt)

It’s been a LONG time since I have written anything…

But in re-reading one of my favorite books that is full of many good stories and excerpts; I wanted to share one of my favorite sections here.

A fella by the name of Daniel Wallace wrote the following in his book, Big Fish.  “Big Fish” is a little book that chronicles the life and death of Edward Bloom from his son’s perspective. It is an incredibly imaginative tale and I enjoy the style and format of the book.

The section that I feel compelled to share is nearly the entire chapter appropriately named, My Father’s Death: Take 2. The setting is the son sitting beside his father’s death bed in the guest room of their home, and it reads:

Slowly we lose our idiot smiles and just look at each other, plainly.

“Hey,” my father says, “I’ll miss you.”

“And me you.”

“Really?” he says.

“Of course, Dad. I’m the one -”

“Still here,” he says. “So it figures that you’d be the one doing the missing.”

“Do you,” I say, as if the words were being willed by a force inside of me, “do you believe-”
I stop myself…

“Believe what?” he asks me, fixing me with those eyes, those small blue eyes, trapping me there. So I say it.

“In Heaven,” I say.

“Do I believe in Heaven?”

“And God and all that stuff,” I say, because I don’t know. I don’t know if he believes in God or life after death or the possibility that we all come back as someone or something else. I don’t know if he believes in Hell, either, or angels, or the Elysian Fields, or the Loch Ness Monster. We never talked about these things when he was healthy…

And I expect him to ignore it now. But suddenly his eyes widen and seem to clear, as if he were siezed by the prospect of what awaited him after his death – other than an empty guest room. As if this is the first time the thought has occurred to him.

“What a question,” he says, his voice rising full. “I don’t know if I can really say, one way or the other. But that reminds me – and stop me if you’ve heard this one – of the day Jesus was watching the gates for St. Peter. Anyway, Jesus is giving him a hand one day when a man walks shuffling up the path to Heaven.
‘What have you done to enter the Kingdom of Heaven?’ Jesus asks him
And the man says, ‘Well, not much really. I’m just a poor carpenter who led a quiet life. The only remarkable thing about my life was my son.’
‘Your son?’ Jesus asks, getting interested.
‘Yes, he was quite a son,’ the man says. ‘He went through a most unusual birth and later a great transformation. He also became quite well known throughout the world and is still loved by many today.’
Christ looks at the man, embraces him tightly and says, ‘Father, father!’
And the old man hugs him back and says, ‘Pinnocchio?'”

He wheezes, I smile, shaking my head.
“Heard it,” I say.

“You were supposed to stop me,” he says, clearly exhausted after the telling. “How many breaths do I have left? You don’t want me to waste them on twice-told jokes, do you?”

“It’s not like you’ve learned any new ones lately,” I say. “Anyway, this is sort of a best-of thing. A compilation.Edward Bloom’s Collected Jokes. They’re funny, Dad, don’t worry. But you didn’t answer my question.”

“What question?”

I don’t know whether to laugh or cry. Hes lived his whole life like a turtle, within an emotional carapace that makes for the perfect defense: there’s absolutely no way in. My hope is that in these last moments he’ll show me the vulnerable and tender underbelly of his self, but this isn’t happening, yet, and I’m a fool to think that it will. This is the way it has gone from the beginning: every time we get close to something meaningful, serious, or delicate, he tells a joke. There is never a yes or no, what do you think, here, according to me, is the meaning of life.

“Why do you think that is?” I say out loud, as though he can hear me thinking.
And somehow, he can.

“Never felt comfortable addressing these things head-on… Who really knows for certain? Proof is unavailable. So one day I think yes, the next no. Other days, I’m on the fence. Is there a God? Some days I really believe there is, others, I’m not so sure. Under these less than ideal conditions, a good joke somehow seems more appropriate. At least you can laugh.”

“But a joke,” I say. “It’s funny for a minute or two and that’s it. You’re left with nothing. Even if you changed your mind every other day I’d rather – I wished you’d shared some of these things with me. Even your doubts would have been better than a constant stream of jokes.”

“You’re right,” he says… as though he can’t believe that I have chosen now, of all times, to give him this assignment. It’s a burden, and I see it weighing on him, pressing the life right out, and I truly can’t believe I did it, said it the way I have.

“Still,” he says, “if I shared my doubts with you, about God and love and life and death, that’s all you’d have: a bunch of doubts. But, now, see, you’ve got all these great jokes.”

“They’re not all so great,” I say…

His eyes close and I’m scared, my heart jumps,  and I feel as though I should get Mother, but as I begin to move away he grips my hand lightly in his own.

“I was a good dad,” he says. A statement of not unassailable fact he leaves hanging there, as if for my appraisal. I look at him, at it.

“You are a good dad,” I say.

“Thanks,” he says, and his eyelids flutter a bit, as if he’s heard what he’s come to hear. This is what is meant by last words: they are keys to unlock the afterlife. They’re not last words but passwords, and as soon as they’re spoken you can go.

“So what is it today, Dad?”

“What is what?” he says dreamily.

“God and Heaven and all that. What do you think: yes or no? Maybe tomorrow you’ll feel differently, I understand that. But now, right now, what are you feeling? I really want to know, Dad, Dad?” I say, for he seems to be drifting away from me into the deepest sleep. “Dad?” I say.

And he opens his eyes and looks at me with his pale baby blues suddenly full of an urgency and he says, he says to me, he says to his son sitting beside his bed waiting for him to die, he says, “Pinocchio?”

So there it is…
Does it hit you anything like the way it does me?

 
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Posted by on June 15, 2013 in Book Reviews, Musings

 

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Patches

Mine.
Red. Flannel. Comfortable.
And it was mine. My jacket. My favorite jacket. My precious.
Don’t act like you don’t have one (or your husband, brother, father; it’s definitely a guy thing).

Red Flannel Jacket

It was my favorite, most comfortable jacket; arguably the most comfortable jacket ever made.
This jacket was the ultimate – regardless of the weather or formality of the occasion – this was the jacket for me.

Sure, it was torn a little.
Maybe a lot.
Okay.
Maybe the left sleeve was about to fall off. So what?

It’s fine…

I’m still not sure what happened. All I know is I went to bed (probably wearing it) with my jacket torn, but when I woke up my favorite jacket was miraculously healed and whole. In the night a patch was applied to the torn shoulder. Someone knew how much I loved that jacket and – instead of replacing it or discreetly tossing it away – they took time to repair it for me… And so I got years more use from my jacket.

(Ungrateful Author’s Note: I didn’t think there was anything wrong with the jacket. Thank you. )

Like Father, Like Son.
A lion. A tiger. A bear. A deer. A Tyrannosaurus Rex. Most often a horse.
My son has been anything but a normal boy. When he imagines himself as an animal he does not and will not stop until he sees fit. Luckily he always sees fit before nature calls.

There are a few unpleasant side effects to his wild imagination, though: awkward moments in the grocery store, church, mall, any public space; trying to learn the language of a 2-year-old T-Rex, 6-year-old lion, 11-year-old horse; and (most often) pants with holes worn into both knees.

Knee Hole

Luckily we have pretty much outgrown the awkward moments in public and have overcome the language barriers. The holes prove to be more difficult to conquer.

The silver lining in this is that the boy has his favorite pair of jeans that he likes to play in. These jeans are precious. They’re magical. They turn my son into a horse.

Just the other night he was cantering around the ottoman when I heard him neigh, “Aww man. These are my favorite jeans…” I look up to see him examining the frayed edges along fresh holes and his bony white knee caps shining through, “Mom, can you replace these patches?”

Yes. Replace the patches. Don’t give the pants away. Don’t throw away the jeans. Don’t get rid of them.

Patch them.
Again.

Patches.
Smiley Patch

They come in different shapes and sizes.
Some blend in with the garment and are inconspicuous.
Some stand out and cannot be hid.
Some are cool. Some are gaudy.
Some are proud of their patches.
Some are embarrassed by them.

Usually there is a warning before a patch is needed.
There’s a fringe where there didn’t used to be.
If you ignore it, it doesn’t go away.
If you play with it, it gets worse.

Worn Knee

It becomes a small hole. Things start to get lost in the fray.
One thread here.
One thread there.
This one is barely hanging on.

FrayedThen a larger hole.
And a draft – where things come in that are best left out.
Where things poke through that are best left covered.

Patches are necessities in my world.
Because sometimes we get snagged by something sharp that tears a hole in our sleeves.
Because sometimes we pretend to be something we’re not.
Because we get worn out.
Because of neglect.

I have stopped talking about clothes now.
I’m talking about relationships. Marriages. Hearts.

Why not just toss them away?

Because some things are comfortable.
Because some things are valuable.
Because some things are precious.

What is fraying in your world?
What relationship is coming apart?
What has gotten snagged? Torn? Neglected?

Who cares how it looks? Cool or uncool? Accepted or not?

If it’s precious – don’t toss it away.

Heart Patch

Maybe you don’t see anything wrong with the tear.
It’s worth patching up.  There is a Friend that will take care of it for you.

Maybe you have a cheap replacement option.
Patch up what you have already invested in.

There are things being lost in the fray.
It’s not worth ignoring or playing around with it.
You’ll just make the problem bigger.

The key is to get a patch bigger than your problem…
And I know ONE.

 
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Posted by on January 11, 2013 in Musings

 

I Am Not A Vegan…

Plant Food

*First I will say, the title is misleading…  But I’m sure it made you wonder.
*Second, there are many reasons people eat the way they do. Instead of explaining why I eat what I do, I thought I’d take some other people’s perceptions of my dietary decisions and explain it backwards.

So here it is…  All the reasons I am not vegan.

I am not a vegan because I am on a diet.
South Beach, Atkins, Weight Watchers, Jenny Craig, Nutri-System, HCG Diet, Apple Cider Vinegar Diet (seriously)…  They come and they go.  I don’t do diets.

Actually.  We ALL do diets – some are good, some are not.  Some have a catchy name and some do not.
Some have a book written by a doctor, some do not.  Some are balanced, some are not.

We all have one though… I guess.  But I am not ON a diet.

I am not a vegan because of the unethical treatment of animals in our food supply.
While I’ve heard and read a lot about horrible conditions the American livestock industry maintains for their stock; I simply cannot bring myself to become outraged and indignant at the inhumane treatment of an animal that was brought into the world for a single reason: To be killed, eaten and digested.

These are not pets that are being abused, they are food being grown –
Not to mention (or maybe I will) it seems to be a great hypocrisy that an individual can care so deeply for maltreated species; yet do very little (which most humans – including vegans) to help the billions of maltreated human beings they pass everyday.

*I sincerely apologize if this offends any vegan that does hold to the PETA (or similar) stance.
Please understand I am an uneducated clown.  And this happens to be my opinion and my blog –
Please click here to read my disclaimer for more information.

I am not a vegan because it is cool.
Garth Brooks, Trisha Yearwood, Bill Clinton, Pamela Anderson, Ellen DeGeneres, K.D. Lang, Bryan Adams, Avril Lavigne, Alec Baldwin, Ozzy Osbourne, Woody Harrelson, Ben Stiller, Carrie Underwood, Mike Tyson, Jaci Velasquez, Meredith Vieria, Venus, Serena, and Vanessa Williams, Brad Pitt, Prince, and “Weird Al” Yankovic  – have NEVER been my role models.

Okay…  Maybe “Weird Al” has had some influence on my life, and I definitely look a whole lot like Brad Pitt – but I promise I am NOT vegan because of them.

Sometimes I think vegan-ism may be popular in Hollywood only because it gives famous people a viable excuse to look gaunt in their tabloid pictures – aside from the dope they’ve been snorting. (I should have deleted that. There is no evidence that any of the people listed are addicts. More readers offended – please click the disclaimer link above.)

I am not a vegan because it is popular.
I realize that is probably real mayonaisse and therefore NOT vegan...NONE of my close friends or family – excluding my wife & kids – are vegan.  I have a few that eat vegan dishes regularly, but most just make fun.  Which is totally cool, because I have a great sense of humor.

However, I have noticed that invitations to dinner have dramatically decreased in the past six months.
Come on people!  I still eat, and I still eat out at most of the restaurants you do!

I am not a vegan because I am intellectually superior to you.
No explanation needed – if you’ve read this far you’ve figured it out already.

I am not a vegan because I am spiritually superior to you.
While a you can make a strong case for biblical vegan-ism using Daniel’s stand when taken to Babylon, the Garden of Eden and descriptions of Heaven; it does not take a Bible scholar to learn that eating meat, and drinking milk is far from sin.  I can bring out scripture after scripture to prove both diets are acceptable in God’s sight.

Thankfully, though, these spats have been going on for mellinium and Paul addressed it almost two thousand years ago when he wrote Romans 14:1-4

“Welcome with open arms fellow believers who don’t see things the way you do. And don’t jump all over them every time they do or say something you don’t agree with—even when it seems that they are strong on opinions but weak in the faith department. Remember, they have their own history to deal with. Treat them gently.

For instance, a person who has been around for a while might well be convinced that he can eat anything on the table, while another, with a different background, might assume he should only be a vegetarian and eat accordingly. But since both are guests at Christ’s table, wouldn’t it be terribly rude if they fell to criticizing what the other ate or didn’t eat? God, after all, invited them both to the table. Do you have any business crossing people off the guest list or interfering with God’s welcome? If there are corrections to be made or manners to be learned, God can handle that without your help.”
(I reluctantly quoted The Message after reading it in several versions)
———————————————————————————————————–
To quote my incredible Pastor who said it more succinctly:
“Diet doesn’t dictate fellowship.”
———————————————————————————————————-

I am not a vegan but – I am a vegan.
I am not going to go on a long rant and cite statistics and articles to argue my case for eating a plant-based diet…  I could.  The benefits are real.  Maybe one day I will expound and rant and cite articles, journals and statistics in a post titled “I Am Vegan,” (be warned) BUT I don’t want this site to turn into some health nut homepage (I’ll start a different blog if I decide to do that).

Two recent posts about eating habits is more than enough.
Suffice it to say I eat vegetables, fruits, nuts, and grains.

 
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Posted by on December 3, 2012 in Musings, My Life

 

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Aw, how ah you ma f-wren?

That’s exactly how I am greeted at my favorite Chinese take out place by my house.
Appropriately named: China House.

Or if I call ahead to place my order I hear the matron say:
“China How – may I alp you?”

The folks that have rated it on urbanspoon.com give them a 93% positive rating…
Beats everyone else I’ve seen on there!

I absolutely LOVE these people…  I couldn’t tell you their names, but the family is great to watch.

There’s the matron that rules the place – she is always yelling at the guys.  Always.

Then there’s ma f-wren (my friend).  He’s the delivery person.  Probably the matron’s son.
He’s hilarious to me because he’ll yell right back at her… and then always gives me a free 2 liter. Always.
Why?  Because he’s ma f-wren I suppose.  He doesn’t do it to everyone else.  We just click I guess.

There’s a few grunts that are confined to the kitchen…  Probably matrons husband and some of the older sons – I really don’t know everyone’s status.

And finally there are the matron’s grand children.  I’ve kind of seen them growing up the past 5 years or so.
The oldest is a teenage girl that is starting to take over the phone & register from the matron.  She speaks much better English, so I really like it when she’s there.
The middle is another girl – probably 8 years old now.  Always doing homework.  Always.
And the youngest boy.  He was a baby when we started, now he’s 6 or so…  And he’s trouble…
No doubt he’ll be ma f-wren soon.

Anyhow…  I finally updated the FCC page – click here, ma f-wren, to read the last 5 months of fortunes!

 
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Posted by on November 11, 2012 in Fortune Cookies, Musings

 

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One Last Bed Time Story…

I imagine more folks would read this if I had posted it directly to Facebook, but it’s a little long for a simple status update.

I read this tonight and it really resonates with me:

“If the tumor was inside the cord, there was a less than one chance in a million I would ever walk again.  But as long as I could move my feet, the operation could wait till the morning…  I stayed up all night, moving my feet and thinking.  I was thinking about what counted and what didn’t.

Having ten thousand acres didn’t count.
Having seven thousand head of cattle didn’t count.
Having thirty trucks and twenty tractors and seven combines didn’t count.
Having a $5-million-a-year agribusiness didn’t count.
The pleasure of writing million-dollar checks didn’t count.

My family counted…”
(Howard F. Lyman, A.KA. The Mad Cowboy)

After listening to the D.J. on the radio this morning tear up while talking about how his son is graduating and all he (the dad) could think about was how badly he just wanted to read his “little boy” ONE more bed-time story… 

And another dear friend suffering the loss of an unborn today…

Wow, is all I can say, with sappy tears rolling down my cheeks…

Time is short.

It’s high time that we awake out of sleep and start redeeming what time we do have!

 
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Posted by on May 17, 2012 in Musings

 

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Un-Excused Absence

I really need to update the Looking Glass & Fortune Cookie Chronicles!

I’ve been keeping up with them, but haven’t taken the time to update the cyber-archives…

Pitiful clown.

 
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Posted by on May 5, 2012 in Musings

 

Light and Shadow

In being a Christian I have noticed that from time to time your light can get under someone’s skin, or cause them in some way to be offended.  Nearly everytime it is caused by a misinterpretation or poor communication.

image

This happened to me recently.  It made me think about light and how that a great percentage of the time light casts shadows.  A shadow cannot be cast without light.  Shadows seem to be an unfortunate side effect of light…  Jesus even said that offences must come.  Yet, as I tend to not accept negative perspectives without a fight, I tried to think of the feasibility of “shadow prevention.”

I came up with only two ways not to cast a shadow (or in essence cause offence…  Jesus also said, “but woe to him by whom the offence comes”):

image

#1. Be directly under the light source.
Technically, in the instance, a shadow is still cast; yet it is cast directly under the object so it cannot be seen.  This is also an awfully difficult thing to do in nature.
If shadow casting is unavoidable…  Then let me bring myself directly under the Light Source – in 100% submission to God – as to cast the shadow under my feet, where it cannot be seen.

image

#2. Be the light source.
This is the real way to live, albeit a difficult task to which I can say I have been called, but cannot say I have attained.
“Ye are the light of the world…” (Jesus, again)
The light itself doesn’t cast the shadow.  The lamp shade will.  The object the light touches will.  But, the light cannot.  A shadow is darkness.  Light drives darkness away. 

I believe it was Francis Assisi that said:

“All the darkness in the world cannot extinguish the light of a single candle.”

So, as Newworldson sings on my radio:

When we struggle and it all goes wrong
Only you can make it right
So I say
Oh oh oh oh oh
I’m learning to be the light
whoa, whoa
I’m learning to be the light
whoa, whoa

 
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Posted by on March 28, 2012 in Musings