Immortality From Magic Memories

My Friend is Dying“,                        Phylosophy - sunlit clouds

posted on 1/26/15, was hard to write.  I wrote it to express and share the difficult process of watching a close friend as her life ended.  After her death I helped plan a memorial celebration for her family and friends.

After Death: Mourn, Memorialize, then Celebrate Life!” images-3

was written as we prepared the memorial, which was a celebration of her life.  It was very special, and provided a warm, loving closure for both friends and family.

Now several months have passed, and the memories of my friend bring smiles rather than tears.  I felt her transition after death so am confident that she’s fine, but no one can say for sure what the afterlife is like.  Regardless of our beliefs, our religion, or our suppositions, we do know people achieve different kinds of immortality here on earth.

Every time I think about my friend, Scottie, she lives in my memory.  Every single time someone quotes a phrase from a classical novel, watches a Shakespearean play, listens to a moving piece of music, or admires an ancient statue in a museum, the creators live while their creations are admired and enjoyed.  When family members gather for a celebration and share memories and stories about friends and relatives that have passed on, those people live again through the conversation.  This is part of life after death, immortality here on earth.

If living on in memory is a type of immortality, it means that we each can create the way we’re remembered.  Every action we take, every story we tell, every time we lose our temper or ignore our conscience, we may be creating a memory that will outlive us.  The realization that everything we do, say, or create might survive for generations creates a huge responsibility, weighty with multiple possibilities.  As a writer, I hope my words will be enjoyed for many years.   I always try to create something of value, something that might make a reader’s day a little bit brighter just because they read my work.  As a human being, I should also remember that my actions, my words, every physical touch, even my expressions can have a lasting impression on someone.

How is your immortality progressing?  If you passed away today, how might you be remembered next year or ten years from now?  Only one person on earth controls your special immortality, and that person is looking back at you in the mirror!

Just a note in closing.  Your comments mean a lot, so please send me your thoughts.  I’d truly appreciate it.  And if you like my writing style and subjects, you will enjoy my book, From Hindsight to Insight, A Traditional to Metaphysical Memoir.

Front Cover

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Immortality From Magic Memories

My Friend is Dying“,                        Phylosophy - sunlit clouds

posted on 1/26/15, was hard to write.  I wrote it to express and share the difficult process of watching a close friend as her life ended.  After her death I helped plan a memorial celebration for her family and friends.

After Death: Mourn, Memorialize, then Celebrate Life!images-3

was written as we prepared the memorial, which was a celebration of her life.  It was very special, and provided a warm, loving closure for both friends and family.

Now several months have passed, and the memories of my friend bring smiles rather than tears.  I felt her transition after death so am confident that she’s fine, but no one can say for sure what the afterlife is like.  Regardless of our beliefs, our religion, or our suppositions, we do know people achieve different kinds of immortality here on earth.

Every time I think about my friend, Scottie, she lives in my memory.  Every single time someone quotes a phrase from a classical novel, watches a Shakespearean play, listens to a moving piece of music, or admires an ancient statue in a museum, the creators live while their creations are admired and enjoyed.  When family members gather for a celebration and share memories and stories about friends and relatives that have passed on, those people live again through the conversation.  This is part of life after death, immortality here on earth.

If living on in memory is a type of immortality, it means that we each can create the way we’re remembered.  Every action we take, every story we tell, every time we lose our temper or ignore our conscience, we may be creating a memory that will outlive us.  The realization that everything we do, say, or create might survive for generations creates a huge responsibility, weighty with multiple possibilities.  As a writer, I hope my words will be enjoyed for many years.   I always try to create something of value, something that might make a reader’s day a little bit brighter just because they read my work.  As a human being, I should also remember that my actions, my words, every physical touch, even my expressions can have a lasting impression on someone.

How is your immortality progressing?  If you passed away today, how might you be remembered next year or ten years from now?  Only one person on earth controls your special immortality, and that person is looking back at you in the mirror!

Just a note in closing.  Your comments mean a lot, so please send me your thoughts.  I’d truly appreciate it.  And if you like my writing style and subjects, you will enjoy my book, From Hindsight to Insight, A Traditional to Metaphysical Memoir.

Front Cover

Immortality From Magic Memories

My Friend is Dying“, posted on 1/26/15, was hard to write.  I wrote it to express and share the difficult process of watching a close friend as her life ended.  After her death I helped plan a memorial celebration for her family and friends.

After Death: Mourn, Memorialize, then Celebrate Life!” was written as we prepared the memorial, which was a celebration of her life.  It was very special, and provided a warm, loving closure for both friends and family.

Now several months have passed, and the memories of my friend bring smiles rather than tears.  I felt her transition after death so am confident that she’s fine, but no one can say for sure what the afterlife is like.  Regardless of our beliefs, our religion, or our suppositions, we do know people achieve different kinds of immortality here on earth.

Every time I think about my friend, Scottie, she lives in my memory.  Every single time someone quotes a phrase from a classical novel, watches a Shakespearean play, listens to a moving piece of music, or admires an ancient statue in a museum, the creators live while their creations are admired and enjoyed.  When family members gather for a celebration and share memories and stories about friends and relatives that have passed on, those people live again through the conversation.  This is part of life after death, immortality here on earth.

If living on in memory is a type of immortality, it means that we each can create the way we’re remembered.  Every action we take, every story we tell, every time we lose our temper or ignore our conscience, we may be creating a memory that will outlive us.  The realization that everything we do, say, or create might survive for generations creates a huge responsibility, weighty with multiple possibilities.  As a writer, I hope my words will be enjoyed for many years.   I always try to create something of value, something that might make a reader’s day a little bit brighter just because they read my work.  As a human being, I should also remember that my actions, my words, every physical touch, even my expressions can have a lasting impression on someone.

How is your immortality progressing?  If you passed away today, how might you be remembered next year or ten years from now?  Only one person on earth controls your special immortality, and that person is looking back at you in the mirror!

Just a note in closing.  Your comments mean a lot, so please send me your thoughts.  I’d truly appreciate it.  And if you like my writing style and subjects, you will enjoy my book, From Hindsight to Insight, A Traditional to Metaphysical Memoir.

Opposites in Everything, Where’s the Attraction?

Looking for that perfect partner?  Dating services use lengthy questionnaires to try and match people with similar values and interests, but then there’s the old saying “opposites attract.”  What works best?  Probably a bit of both.

How would you rate the chances for this couple:

He just scraped by in school, with mediocre grades but wonderful athletic ability.  She’d been teacher’s pet from first grade, always getting top grades in school.  He traveled the world because of his father’s military career, learning to fit in wherever he went.  She lived her whole life in the same city, and never had an opportunity to travel farther than just a few states for a brief vacation.  He partied hard in high school with his buddies, drinking and smoking, and dating every female around.  Since he looked older than his years, he even dated adult women while he was in school.  She was a bookworm, didn’t even drink coffee, much less a beer, and never tried even a normal cigarette.  She had a circle of close friends, but did very little dating.  His focus was on having a good time, but without specific future goals.  She was determined to finish college and achieve her dream of being a veterinarian.

Stan in High School          Sharon's graduation

Nothing in common?  Not a thing, but when they met in July at 19 and 17 years of age the attraction was instant.  They were engaged in September, and married the following March.  Too young, nothing in common, a recipe for disaster?

Stan & Sharon, newlyweds

Logic says yes, but after 49 years, they’re — okay, we, my husband and I — are still together, and still in love.  Still opposites, he likes it cold in the house and I like it warm, he always hogs the remote control, he’s a steak and potatoes man while I’m a vegan, now he’s the stay at home guy while I’m always with people.  The list of our differences is long, but the glue that holds us together is still there.

Stan & Sharon

Opposites do attract, but opposition adds spice to a relationship, and keeps you from getting stale.  Being opposites can also be frustrating.  How can a relationship of opposites thrive and last?  For us it’s an easy formula.  Long lasting love comes from years of shared memories, from respecting one another, from being best friends and staunchest supporters.  We took our vows seriously, and followed my personal advice for all newlyweds, “Divorce never, murder maybe!”

PS, if you like my writing style and would like to read more about our shared experiences, you’ll enjoy my memoir, “From Hindsight to Insight, A Traditional to Metaphysical Memoir

After Death : Mourn, Memorialize, then Celebrate Life!

My friend died a week ago.  Some would say she died a gentle death, since pain medication kept her unconscious as her body slowly shut down, but it wasn’t easy for her spirit to let go.  I could feel her, fighting and frantic at first as she came to terms with her body’s inability to sustain life.  She finally turned to the light, even though still tethered to her familiar flesh, and reveled in the joy and freedom she found there.  As her body grew weaker, dying by inches, her spirit spent most of the time on the other side.  Many friends and relatives came to visit her, some talking to her and praying out loud.  Others, like me, held her hand as they bent their heads in prayer or meditation, quietly connecting with her and letting her know it was okay to let go.

Knowing someone you care about is going to die does not make it easier.  On one hand we repeat the same platitudes about being glad the suffering is over, and about the soul being in a better place.  On the other hand we play the guilt game, wishing we’d been kinder, wishing we’d spent more time with them, wondering if we’d let them know how much we’d cared about them, if we’d let them know how important they’d been in our lives.  Even as we express our beliefs that they’re at peace, we wish there was just a little more time to finish all the things between us that were left undone.  We know they’re okay, but we aren’t!

Mourning is a natural first reaction after a death, as we come to grips with the reality that our time together is truly over.  Grief can be overwhelming, but grief is also a personal expression of loss.  They’re fine, but we now have to reconstruct our future without a vital part of our world.  We mourn as we think of all the “what might have beens.”

We memorialize our lost ones together with other people who cared, providing strength to one another as we share memories.  Different cultures remember and memorialize their dead in different ways, some quietly in small gatherings, others loudly in public ceremonies.  The purpose and effect is the same, to remember the life of one we’ve lost, to remember the dreams and accomplishments, to remember the stories and laughter, to take those memories into our hearts to carry forward alone.

All too often after someone close dies, we stop after the memorial service, forgetting the most important step of all.  Remembering someone we loved is important, but celebrating their lives is even more important!  If they had a passion in life, you can honor them by doing something good in their name.  Doing something they would have cared about, that would have made them happy, that makes some small difference in the world, keeps the memory alive and means they still matter.  After you mourn, after you memorialize, then celebrate your friend by your actions, so they can look down and celebrate as well.

 

 

Truth, Justice ….. and the American way?

                          JUSTICE….?

settlement_law_justice_clip_art_9525         Justice

 

Justice is such a noble ideal, and is considered part of the bedrock foundation of our society.  From our founding documents to our pop culture, Americans feel confident that we have the finest system of justice in the world.  We know that sometimes our courts fall short, but as a people we want to believe that fairness, or justice, is the ultimate goal.  If someone is accused of a crime and can’t afford a lawyer, we even provide a public defender, because our society says that money shouldn’t stand in the way of justice.  Again, a noble ideal, but what of those accused who aren’t wealthy, but can’t quite qualify as poor?  Too bad for them.  Our system leaves them hanging, and all too often they must choose between bankrupting their family and risking jail or prison time, or accepting a plea bargain even if they’re innocent.  The choice can clear out a crowded court docket, improve the prosecutor’s case clearance numbers, and keep the legal costs down for the accused, but now a life is ruined because of a conviction obtained purely for expediency.  Justice?  Doesn’t sound like it!

And what about Family Law Court?  No public defenders here.  Ideally, justice in Family Court is supposed to be what’s best for the children and fair for the parents.  Again, lofty goals that we as a society believe in.  But those goals are not what Family Court is actually about.  A retired Family Law judge, who still serves as a mediator in Family Law Settlement conferences, recently said that Family Law Court is not about justice, not about fairness, not about what is best for the children, not even about the evidence.  It’s purely about playing by the rules.  And if you’re not represented by an experienced lawyer, or if you’re trying to represent yourself?  Well, too bad for you.  In truth, Family Law Court is about playing the game, and who plays it best.  Bottom line, the one with the most money to spend on a contentious lawyer is the one that wins.

Long ago, when the traditional family unit was the norm and children of divorced families were a small minority, perhaps this standard was ignored because so few people were hurt by it.  But today, the traditional family is becoming less and less common.  Check out any classroom of children and you’ll find that a majority of them have experienced the pain and inequities of divorce.  Courts don’t care, lawyers won’t touch a case without a hefty retainer, and family’s savings are decimated trying to pay legal bills that never seem to stop.  And if you think there are resources available to help people without money for attorneys, think again.  Pro bono legal help for Family Court just doesn’t exist in any appreciable amount.

Why should we as a society care?  Well, if the concept of justice is truly supposed to be one of the basic values of our society, perhaps we should reevaluate how justice might be achieved in Family Law Courts, rather than letting decisions be purchased by the highest bidder.  Our children aren’t stupid, and far too many of them become cynical after seeing it happen to their families every single day.   Americans are familiar with Superman, and his saying “Truth, Justice, and the American Way.”  Perhaps there is more truth there than we thought — there’s truth and justice, and then there’s the American Way!  Maybe one day they will become the same in our court systems, but it won’t happen until enough people care about changing the system completely.

Marriage, Then and Now

Image

Ask someone their opinion about marriage today and you’ll not only get a variety of answers, but might even start an argument.  In many ways, marriage is simply a reflection of life in our society, so the changes in the way we view marriage simply reflect changes in society as a whole.

A hundred years ago, marriage was a contract with very clear-cut expectations and roles for each partner.  Society needed the institution of marriage to handle the raising of children and the care of the elderly and infirm.  The family unit established and defined an individual’s place in the social structure, and was also the basis for many legal guidelines in areas like inheritance.  If the partners loved each other it was nice, but love was neither a requirement nor an important reason for people to marry.  If people defied society’s expectations and did not get married, they were viewed with suspicion and never fully accepted.

Today marriage plays a much narrower role in society.  It’s can be either a legal or religious union, or both,  between two people who choose to be together.  Love is generally given as the reason for the decision, but people who are in love don’t feel the same type of societal pressure to legalize their union.  Marriage is no longer expected from everyone, nor are the partner’s roles within a marriage defined by society.  We are taught from childhood that we each have the right to pursue our own dreams and be individuals, which is very different from the expectations put upon our grandparents and great-grandparents.

In the past, marriage was viewed as the proper environment for raising children.  The number of children in a family was limited only by the parents’ fertility and periods of abstinence.  Children were supposed to be raised as productive members of society and hardworking members of the family unit.  All children were expected to do their chores, be respectful of their parents and other adults, and then to care for their parents and other elderly family members when they grew up.  In some ways children functioned like health insurance, stepping in and taking responsibility for their elders when necessary.

Today we teach our children to have fun, and tell them they have a right to be happy.   Parents focus on loving their children and giving them material things, but much less emphasis is placed on teaching them responsibility or a work ethic.  Modern parents often will sacrifice for their children in an attempt to avoid burdening them with family expectations.  Such sacrifice on the part of the parents can produce kids who feel no need or desire to provide for themselves, much less for others who might need help.  Instead of extended families living together as a unit, the elder members are shuffled off to nursing homes and cared for by paid aides.

The part of traditional marriage vows that said “till death do us part” was a serious part of the marriage picture.  Divorce was not viewed as an acceptable option, no matter the justification, and a divorced person was viewed with a very jaundiced eye.  Happiness might have been a pleasant bonus, but was not considered as a requirement in a marriage. Divorce is now so common that people who stay in long-term marriages are the exception, rather than the rule.  Multiple marriages, interspersed with unmarried relationships, are considered the norm for most people, with very few negative societal consequences.

Children born out of wedlock used to face discrimination their whole lives, right along with the parents.  No one cared that it wasn’t the child’s fault, but they were the visible result of defiance of societal rules, and made to pay the price along with their parents.  Today a child’s birth status makes no difference.  In fact, the phrases “baby daddy” and “baby momma” have become accepted parts of the language.  Many couples no longer consider marriage a prerequisite to producing children, and many weddings have multiple children of the partners participating in the ceremony.  Multiple sexual partners is no longer viewed as proof of low morals, and someone with children from multiple partners seldom feels judged by society.

Men and women were once expected to behave in very specific ways.  Men were the breadwinners, expected to provide financially for their family’s needs.  They were the head of their households in all ways, and were to be obeyed by their wives as well as their children.  Men were pressured to be successful, to choose a wife that could help them meet their goals, and produce well-mannered children that would be a credit to their roles as fathers.  Women were expected to keep the house clean, do the cooking, raise the children, defer to their husband’s wishes and be a helpful partner to him in public.  Even after women began pursuing higher education, the choice of college was frequently based, at least in part, on the potential for securing a valuable MRS degree.

In our current society, neither men nor women are pressured to fulfill gender based roles.  If men want to be househusbands, they’re free to do so.  If a woman wants to work in a male dominated career while her husband cares for the children, she’s free to do so.  Education is a highly prized goal for everyone, and each person is expected to use their education in choosing a career.

Our society values progress, independence, and freedom, which has been reflected by our marriages.  We no longer seem to value stability and commitment, but are we better off?  Perhaps the key is how we use our independence and freedom.  It’s hard to pursue your dreams when you don’t know what they are, or even who you really are inside.  Perhaps when we learn the value of introspection, we’ll be able to improve society by blending the best values throughout our history.  When we can honor independence and responsibility, as well as freedom and commitment, we’ll have something pretty special in our marriages and our society.