Wednesday, September 24, 2014

“Death smiles at us all, all a man can do is smile back.”

     Okay, so lately I have had the end of life on my mind.  Gee, I wonder why.... a brother dies, my mother is slowing fading away,  I had a cholesterol test done and it was HIGH, I have to schedule more cardiac exams because of what the last one found (or didn't as the case may be), I have even MORE pills I have to take and it is fall, the season I find the most depressing of all.  At the moment, my list just keeps growing and I don't see an end in sight.
     I have often been asked by friends, family and students how I can possibly stay so positive when there is so much in my life that could be negative or just plain depressing.  The answer is complicated. 
     First, I am one of those irritating "glass half full" people.  I have always tried my best to look on the bright side, to see the best, even in the worst situations and to smile when I really feel like crying.  I also have always admired the kind of people who take a horrible situation and make something positive out of it. 
     Second, I am a Taurus born in the Chinese year of the Ox.  I am extremely stubborn, bull headed, persistent,  tenacious,  determined, etcetera.  I believe that a positive attitude can work wonders in my life.  I know that when my health was at it's worst, when the HIV had me down, I kept holding on and fighting.  Now, I guess I figure I really need to keep going.
     Third, but not last, I absolutely hate to be negative.  Jim might argue, he knows that when it comes to politics, the "right" wing and many other similar topics on the six o'clock news, I tend to be very negative and then I get mad at myself.  But when it comes to me, my health and my relationships (especially with the man I love), I really try to be very positive.  I know that a positive attitude can change the world.
     So, I guess I will try hard not to want to just give up.  I will try to keep smiling when I want to cry.  I will keep drinking only half a glass so that it will always be half full (nothing wrong with a half a glass of Scotch) and I will do the best I can to survive.  Then I will continue to laugh at death while death smiles at me!  

Saturday, September 20, 2014

"Our dead are never dead to us, until we have forgotten them."

     This morning I learned that my brother, Ron, had died.  He was fighting stage four lung cancer that had spread to his bones and seemed to be moving very quickly.  He was 66 years old.
     I have mixed feelings about his death.  Partly because Ron and I have not gotten along for about 30 years.  And partly because suffering with cancer as he did, death must have been a relief, not only for him but for those around him.  Still, Ron is the first of my siblings to die and no matter what, I do find that hard to accept.  I just hope Ron is able to find the peace in death that he was not able to find in life. 
     I do really feel sad for those who, in spite of all Ron's shortcomings, continued to stand by him and love him.  My nephew Morey has never had it easy and his relationship with his father has been rough at times.  Still, Morey stood by Ron and loved him.  Ron's adopted daughter, Laurie, has been the same.  In the end she and Morey were there to help and give him love and attention.  Ron's (new) wife, Candy, has been with Ron for 13 years or so and she was with him in the end.  Oh, and I forgot to mention Ron's other daughter, Katie. I have never actually met her but have heard about her from Morey. I hope you will keep her in your thoughts as well.
     There was a time when I thought I might be the first of the 5 siblings to leave this earth.  Certainly, that would not have been my choice, but I came so very close twice.  Because I nearly died those two times in 2002, I know that death is not something to be feared.  I found that it was very peaceful and calming to be able to just let go.  I do hope that Ron found it that way too.
     I do have some good memories of times spent with my next older brother and I will carry those memories with me as long as I live.  I am sorry for his family and I am sorry he suffered before he died.  And a small part of me is sorry that Ron never found the courage to say to me that he was sorry.

     RIP Ronald Gale Bandel   1948 - 2014

The politics of the day.

     As most of you may know, my political affiliation leans strongly to the left, more liberal side.  Although I do not believe in everythi...