Some say the world will end in a bang, and some say with a whimper. My world ended with a ringtone.

Looking back, the whole thing played out like a farce but was really a tragedy. It all started in late August when my beloved Shirley complained about a sore on the top of her right foot that she blamed on a bug bite. As the days passed, the pain was a minor but constant irritant that she hardly mentioned.

But by the Friday after Labor Day, Shirley was in misery and hobbled around the house with a limp. Despite my protests, she refused to see the doctor. She changed her mind on Sunday when she could barely walk without pain shooting up her leg.

The doctor on Monday diagnosed the problem as an infection, not an insect bite, and prescribed a round of heavy-duty antibiotics. Shirley took the meds religiously, but the pain kept getting worse. By the following Sunday, she couldn’t get off the couch where she had set up her base of operations.

She didn’t complain the next day when I told her – and her doctor – that I was taking her to the hospital. I had to call an ambulance because she couldn’t walk. After we arrived, the emergency room doctor immediately administered a painkiller and hooked her up to an IV antibiotic.

Progress was slow, but by the fourth day of treatment, nurses and doctors could touch her foot without her screaming. On the seventh day, she was actually able to walk to the bathroom. Her doctors started saying she could be sent to rehab in a couple of days to prepare for her return home.

The big day was Wednesday, Sept. 27, when Shirley was released to a nursing home a mere block from our home. She was bubbling when an ambulance brought her to the facility at 4 p.m. Feeling better than she had been in weeks, she said she could be home after six days of rehab, but she might need a wheelchair for a few days until she got her legs back. She was especially happy because she had been able to watch the season debut of NCIS – her all-time favorite TV show – the night before without interruptions by pesky nurses. As she had done at the hospital, she offered me half her dinner when it arrived, but I wasn’t hungry. She couldn’t stop smiling.

Thursday morning was bright and beautiful, and I called Shirley at 11. I didn’t worry when she didn’t pick up, figuring she was either napping or going through physical therapy. Four more calls at half-hour intervals had the same results.

Then, at 1:15, the phone rang.

“There’s been a change in Shirley’s status,” said the woman, who identified herself as the rest home’s director. “Can you come in as soon as possible?”

Four minutes later I walked through the door, was ushered into the director’s office and took a seat.

“Shirley has coded,” she said.

“I don’t know what that means,” I said.

“She is non-responsive,” she replied.

I put my face into hands and froze as she said a team of paramedics and nurses were working on her.

She handed me a box of Kleenex and left the room. While shuddering uncontrollably, I prayed harder than I ever had before. Twenty minutes later she returned and said, “I’m sorry.”

My world came to an end. Only three months earlier we had celebrated our 40th wedding anniversary and talked about what we would do on our 50th. The odyssey that had opened with a silly little sore on her foot had closed with what the medical examiner called a pulmonary embolism.

It was a bad dream, a very bad dream, and I couldn’t wake up.

I thought back to when we had met at my brother’s wedding in June 1975. I had been bumming around the country Kerouac-style for several months but came back to stand up in the wedding. Shirley, meanwhile, was a Cincinnati girl who had become close friends with Mary, my future sister-in-law, while studying together for a semester at the University of Edinburgh.

Between the wedding in the morning and the evening reception, the guests gathered at the eastside Detroit house of Mary’s parents. I and my buddy Mike sat quietly on lawn chairs while Mike’s mom and a strikingly attractive girl were chatting up a storm. It was lust at first sight. I couldn’t stop taking side-wise glances at the beauty with long auburn hair and a figure that could have graced a Playboy centerfold.

When the girl left to get a Coke from the house, I acted with boldness and bravado. “Mrs. Roberts,” I said, “would you please introduce me to the girl you’re talking to?”

I don’t think Mike ever really forgave his mom for introducing me and not him to Shirley Sizemore.

We danced on air all that night, which ended with Shirley departing for Cincinnati, a five-hour drive away. But she didn’t leave before we exchanged scraps of paper with our names and phone numbers scribbled on them.

For the next year we endured a long-distance romance, but it wasn’t too bad. We managed to see each other at least three weekends a month, and a bit more when we had time off work. Finally, our physical attraction developed into something deeper, as I grew to cherish her intelligence, humor and common sense. She took a gamble and moved to Michigan in the Bicentennial summer of 1976, living with my parents while I roomed with friends in a sprawling old Victorian.

On June 25, 1977, the two of us became one, and my life truly began. As with many marriages, our honeymoon turned into a shakedown cruise, and we went through some rough patches in the early years. But there were plenty of good times to smooth things over.

The 1981 birth of our daughter Denise was a joyful event with a dark lining. As we anticipated Denise’s arrival, Shirley fell seriously ill with an abscess that caused her temperature to soar to 104 degrees. Immediately after doctors operated on the abscess, the baby popped out – seven weeks early. Denise spent her first month inside an incubator until she was big enough to come home.

That turned out to be our first experience with Crohn’s disease, which plagued Shirley for the rest of her life.

No such drama accompanied the birth of Sandy, our second daughter. Shirley was feeling so comfortable that I had to force her to go to the hospital because of the timing of her contractions. Fortunately, the hospital was close by because Sandy arrived about 50 minutes later.

As time passed, our lives grew full and rich. Shirley served eight years as a Brownie and Girl Scout leader, was a volunteer at her church and spent several years as a substitute teacher. Meanwhile, I was plugging away at the newspaper, taking various jobs and working different shifts to provide for the family. Luckily, Shirley and I preferred frugality over extravagance, which is how we were able to put Denise and Sandy through college on my less-than munificent salary.

But Crohn’s disease clawed its way back into our lives in the 1990s, and Shirley’s life slowly grew smaller and smaller. The first thing to go was her substitute teaching and then her church activities. Still, she never lost her joy or love of life even after the prednisone she took to control her Crohn’s was destroying her body in other ways.

For the past 15 years, Shirley was virtually homebound as she became hesitant to spend more than 45 minutes in a car or visit any place that didn’t have conveniently accessible restrooms. At the same time, I gladly imposed limits on myself so I could be there for her. It was the least I could do for someone who had given me two great children and such a terrific life.

In the weeks since her passing, I’ve had to go around the house with blinders because too many things bring up too many memories. The silliest trinket can make me break down if it evokes images of Shirley’s glee or excitement.

Her idiosyncrasies live on, too. She kept two file cabinets for our important (and not-so-important) documents, and I searched through them for her insurance policies. When I couldn’t find them, I remembered she told me a year ago she had put them in a strongbox that she kept “in a safe place.” The place is so safe I still haven’t found it.

Only two days ago did I dare to delve into Shirley’s purse to see if anything in it needed my attention. There, inside her wallet, was the most important paper of all: the small scrap with my name and phone number I had given her on a warm June night on the east side of Detroit 42 years ago. I had no clue then how my life would begin … or end.

Even with bright spring sunshine streaming through the windows, it’s been a gloomy weekend in our house. It’s never fun when you’re on a death watch … even if it’s only for a cat.

For the past 14 years, Merlin has been the scourge of birds, chipmunks and unfamiliar visitors to our home. And, often, me. But now his reign of terror is coming to an end.

Merlin’s story begins about 12:30 a.m. on a warm spring night in 2003. As a newspaper editor, I’d just put Sunday’s edition to bed and headed out the employees’ entrance at the loading dock. As usual, more than 100 vans, pickups and cars jammed the parking lot, their drivers eager to pick up bundles of papers for delivery to carriers in a three-county area.

Jan, a security guard and occasional smoking buddy, was in the designated smoking area outside the door, playing with a tiny kitten. I crouched down and scratched him behind his ears. “Cute kitten,” I told Jan. “Is he yours?”

“No,” she replied. “He just showed up a few minutes ago.”

I figured he’d escaped from a driver’s car, so I picked him up and brought him around the parking lot for the next 15 minutes. Nobody knew anything about a missing cat, so I came back to Jan. Eyeing the idling vehicles, I knew the kitten was sure to be squished if he was roaming freely as the drivers made a mad rush for the loading dock when the papers became available.

We already had two pets — Sydney, an Australian terrier, and Loki, the Best Cat in the World — so I sure didn’t want to bring the little critter home. But when I asked Jan to keep the stray, she said her apartment didn’t allow pets.

I had no choice. He went into the car with me, and wound up spending most of the trip home on my shoulder. All the while, I wondered how my wife, Shirley, would react to our guest.

I shouldn’t have worried — Shirley was immediately enthralled by him. But her enthusiasm seemed dim next to daughter Sandy’s response. We were still up when Sandy’s alarm went off at 4 a.m. She fussed over him so much she was nearly late for her 6 o’clock work shift.

In the next day or so, he got a name, Merlin, based on his mysterious and magical appearance at my workplace. Shirley and especially Sandy spoiled him terribly. Sandy carried Merlin everywhere; at one point, Shirley chided her: “If you don’t put that cat down, he’ll forget how to walk.”

But while Merlin was bonding with the ladies, he began shunning me. Maybe it was because Sydney was my dog, who usually occupied the space next to me on the couch and sometimes my lap. Merlin got along very well with Syd and Loki — once they put him in his place — but he barely tolerated me.

Merlin’s kittenhood passed all too quickly, and he grew. And grew. He finally topped out at about 16 pounds of bone and muscle. Our research showed he was probably at least part Maine Coon Cat, and he proved to be a skillful hunter.

Without a doubt, he was the handsomest cat I’ve ever had, with his sleek, thick coat and huge, bright eyes. But he also was the stupidest cat in creation. Outside of hunting, he never showed any sign of typical feline cleverness. I came to refer to him as “a cinder block with fur.”

Merlin and I endured an uneasy truce. For the longest time, I tempted fate by trying to pick him up or pet him. Too often, my reward was teeth and claws jammed into my hands and arms.

But something funny happened after several years. He discovered that I actually knew how to hit a cat’s sweet spots with scratches and massages. When I was sitting on the couch or  a chair, he would approach and nudge his head against my hand, demanding a scratch.

When I gave in, I got a real reward: the deepest, loudest purr I’ve ever heard. It was like sitting next to a furry mini-Harley. It was so loud that it would wake up Shirley when he came to me in bed and I’d scratch under his chin.

Still, he’s always been Shirley’s boy, and I appreciated him mainly because he brought her so much joy.

Except for a urinary tract blockage in 2012, Merlin has always been in fine health. A couple weeks ago, however, I realized he had lost a lot of weight. He wasn’t eating so much of his dry cat food, so we broke protocol and bought him some cans.

Despite gobbling down the canned food, he was becoming so lethargic that I decided to take him to the vet, who had given him a clean bill of health at his checkup in October. Shirley and I were stunned to learn he had lost three pounds in five months and weighed less than 10 pounds for the first time since 2004. An X-ray showed no problem, but the vet drew blood for testing.

The news was not good Friday morning. The vet called and said the tests showed Merlin apparently has lymphoma. Shirley and I had discussed such a diagnosis in advance and decided we would turn our home into a hospice. As long as Merlin shows no sign or pain or even discomfort, we’ll keep him here and cater to his whims. If things turn, the vet will make sure he doesn’t suffer.

Merlin is growing weaker by the hour, and we don’t expect him to last the week. The canned food still tempts him, but he can manage only a few bites before giving up. But when we fondle and scratch him, he still has that awesome purr.

The approaching end has caused me to shed some tears despite my best efforts, but I still have hope.

Because of my faith, I firmly believe in heaven. Theologians might disagree, but I believe paradise also awaits cats and dogs, too. Of course, nobody knows what comes in the afterlife, but I like the idea put forward by some scholars that death brings us unity with God for all eternity, and we are embraced forever in His almighty splendor.

To the Maker of All, mankind is special, created in His image. But all life bears a sparkle or hint of the divine. The bridge between people and their pets is vast, but it’s a only an atom’s span compared to the inconceivable gulf between man and God. In His infinite compassion for His creations, He surely wouldn’t condemn the tiny spark of a soul in a cat or dog to everlasting darkness.

I pray that Shirley and I earn a place in heaven. But it wouldn’t truly be paradise if Merlin doesn’t pull himself away from Shirley every now and then and come up to me and demand a scratch. I’ll be ready to give it.

deadelephant
RIP GOP

by baldilocks

Barring something (sort of) unforeseen, Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump will be the next President of the United States. That one of them will be the Leader of the Free World in January is merely the tail end of an ideological splintering that has been going on since the end of Ronald Reagan’s second term.

And today, we have the President Reagan’s Vice President and successor driving my point home.

Former President George H.W. Bush is bucking his party’s presidential nominee and plans to vote for Hillary Clinton in November, according to a member of another famous political family, the Kennedys.

Bush, 92, had intended to stay silent on the White House race between Clinton and Donald Trump, a sign in and of itself of his distaste for the GOP nominee. But his preference for the wife of his own successor, President Bill Clinton, nonetheless became known to a wider audience thanks to Kathleen Hartington Kennedy Townsend, the former Maryland lieutenant governor and daughter of the late Robert F. Kennedy.

The former president has chosen not to comment on the topic–at this point–and his spokesman tells the reporter in spokeshole-speak that it’s none of the public’s business how the elder President Bush plans to cast his vote. Bull Twinkies.

President GHW Bush would never have told Townsend—a Democrat, of course–what his plans are if he didn’t want that information in public. The man is 92-years-old and he doesn’t care anymore, as if he ever did. If the report is true, call it one more stab into the heart of the old GOP.

It’s almost dead, Jim.

Update (DTG): One more thing I’d like to add to Juliette’s piece.

All this stuff happens for a reason, this story came out at this time for three reasons

1. It was necessary to change the subject from the Terror attacks which hurt Hillary

2. It was necessary to get this out there so Lester Holt could ask Donald Trump about it before the 1st debate.

3. This is a blatant attempt to bait Donald Trump to attack President Bush allowing the MSM to feign moral outrage over his response and demand every GOP senate candidate, congressional leader and spokesman to denounce Donald Trump for attacking the 92 year old ex-president.

How obvious can you get?

Juliette Akinyi Ochieng blogs at baldilocks. (Her older blog is located here.) Her first novel, Tale of the Tigers: Love is Not a Game, was published in 2012. Her second novel will be done in 2016. Follow her on Twitter.

Please contribute to Juliette’s JOB:  Her new novel, her blog, her Internet to keep the latter going and COFFEE to keep her going!

Or hit Da Tech Guy’s Tip Jar in the name of Independent Journalism—->>>>>baldilocks

by baldilocks

Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, 79, died today in Texas while on a hunting trip.

Texas Governor Greg Abbott:

He was the solid rock who turned away so many attempts to depart from and distort the Constitution. We mourn his passing, and we pray that his successor on the Supreme Court will take his place as a champion for the written Constitution and the Rule of Law. Cecilia and I extend our deepest condolences to his family, and we will keep them in our thoughts and prayers.

At another site, I opined that he got out just in time—for himself, at least.

Antonin_Scalia_Official_SCOTUS_Portrait
Official SCOTUS Portrait

Justice Scalia’s death, while a personal tragedy for his family, is also one for this country. And it points to the importance of presidential ideology and decision-making, since it is the president who nominates the court’s candidates. With Justices Kagan and Sotomayor, we get two examples of the type of judicial philosophy that President Obama looks for in his Supreme Court justices.

Many opinion-makers on the conservative side of politics are looking to the Republican-lead U.S. Senate to block any of President Obama’s nominations until January 2017 and this has precedent. But if the Democrat nominee for president wins the election, such an unlikely stand would be for naught.

The game has changed.

A lot of people out there are nervous now, and not only conservatives. Justice Scalia, along with Justices Thomas and Alito, had often been the only things standing between the people of the United States and full-on tyranny.

But, as I said to a friend a few minutes ago, God sometimes forces the hands of those of us who are called by His name. He is our only steadfast protector and will always be if we ask Him and trust in Him. I say let’s go for it.

Enjoy your reward, Mr. Justice Scalia.

My Kenya trip has been postponed for one week; I leave on the 21st.

Juliette Akinyi Ochieng blogs at baldilocks. (Her older blog is located here.) Her first novel, Tale of the Tigers: Love is Not a Game, was published in 2012. Her second novel, tentatively titled, Arlen’s Harem, will be done in 2016. Follow her on Twitter.

Please contribute to Juliette’s Projects JOB: HER TRIP TO KENYA! Her new novel, her blog, her Internet to keep the latter going and COFFEE to keep her going!

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baldilocks

By A.P. Dillon

On August 29th, the body of 17 year-old black male was found hanging from a swing set in Bladensboro, North Carolina. That young man’s name was Lennon Lacy.  North Carolina’s State Bureau of Investigation (SBI) and the local Bladensboro police were involved in the investigation into Lacy’s death, which was ruled a suicide.  The Bladen county district attorney, Jon David, has issued a statement backing the findings of both the SBI and the local authorities.

The NC NAACP thinks this was a race based homicide, not a suicide. They contend this could have been a lynching. There has been some pointing of fingers at residents of the ‘white trailer park’ adjacent to where Lacy’s body was found according to a Guardian report. That same report includes the tidbit that Bladensboro is also called ‘crackertown’.   There was also a recounting from a sports blogger that contained reference to a confederate flag he remembered from when he apparently used to practice in Bladensboro back in 1995.

Also, it appears the 17 year-old was in a relationship with a 31 year-old white female named Michelle Brimhall.  Allegedly, Brimhall left her husband in February and the Lacy family has reportedly questioned why police had not questioned him. According to the Guardian, the family also said that Brimhall had broken up with Lacy weeks before his death. Brimhall denied it.

The NC NAACP has called for a Federal investigation. There seems to be a lot of calls for the DOJ to be involved these days.  The NC NAACP hired an outside pathologist, Dr. Christena Roberts, whose findings call into question the “quick” ruling of suicide according to an NC NAACP press release.  It is worth noting Dr. Roberts was brought in by the defense team for the former Duke Lacrosse rape accuser, Crystal Mangum, who was standing trial for the alleged murder of her boyfriend. Mangum was later convicted of 2nd degree murder in that case.

Bear in mind, the leader of the NC NAACP is Reverend Barber.  Barber leads the hyperbolic and hypocritical Moral Monday and is keen on theatrics with a history of seeing racism in ever corner – except his own. For what it’s worth, I’ve lived in North Carolina for almost 17 years and I can’t remember a time when Barber wasn’t ginning up discord somewhere in the state with the race card. As such, it is hard for me to take what he says seriously.

For example, in this case, Barber has also been calling up images of Emmett Till, likely referencing the relationship of Lacy’s with a white woman. That might be a valid comparison IF Barber hadn’t been throwing Till’s name around for shock value in the past during Moral Monday protests.  For another example of his theatrics, take in what Barber said about the memorial service; emphasis added:

But Barber also talked about the chilling thought that lingered, otherwise unmentioned, over the scores of black and white people attending the packed memorial. “The image of a black boy hanging from a rope is in the souls of all of us,” he told them. “It is in the DNA of America. In 2014, our greatest prayer is that this was not a lynching.

Wait, what?

The image of a black boy hanging is in ‘in the DNA of America’?  I suppose that’s why we elected a black president. Twice.

I suppose that’s why “scores of black and white people” were attending the memorial.

Having said that, there are some weird things about this case.

1. The 911 caller who reported finding the body gauged Lacy’s age as between late 30’s and early 40’s.  The caller, a woman, also said she had nothing to cut him down with. Sometime between her call and police arriving, the body was indeed cut down.

2. Two belts, one black canvas and one royal blue canvas, were used to fashion the noose that was used. Relatives did not identify the belts as belonging to Lacy.

3. There were issues with the height of the swing set and being able to reach the beam that the belts were attached to. Also, there appeared to be no item used to stand on by the deceased for which to tie the noose and then kick it away in order to kill himself.  A copy of the press release that contains the report by Dr. Roberts contains the following observations; via WRAL with emphasis added:

“One end of the swing set has a climbing platform attached. The noose was reportedly tied to the supporting cross beam (appears to be a 2 x 6″) and then fed through a metal grommet that was screwed into the wood. This grommet was 22.5″ away from the platform. Lennon was 69″ tall. The height of the cross beam to the ground was 90”. In a photo provided his brother who is 6’4″ could not reach up and touch the beam. There were no swings on this swing set to act as a step to reach the beam. There was no item present at the scene that Lennon could have stood on, applied the noose and then kicked away. The only other way to reach the beam and grommet therefore had to be from the climbing platform. No measurements are available at this time for the noose (described below) but it does not appear long enough to have been tied around the beam, fed through the grommet and still allow a large enough loop for him to be able to place over his head. The side structure of the platform is a rather small square that is further obstructed by the v­shaped vertical supports of the swing.”

4. The body was found wearing sneakers the relatives say were not his. The sneakers found with the body were white with no laces and Lacy had been seen leaving for an evening walk in a pair of grey athletic shoes.  The white sneakers were allegedly size 10 and half, however Lacy wore a size 12. While all other effects of Lacy’s were described, the shoes were not with the body when it arrived at the coroner’s and was missing in the description of the personal items according to the autopsy report.

5. More related to the shoes, relatives also have mentioned that a new pair of Jordan basketball shoes have apparently gone missing. Lacy allegedly purchased the shoes recently before his death.

The detail about the shoes bothers me.

The family reports Lacy wearing gray sneakers of some kind when they last saw him. It is unclear if those gray sneakers were the Jordan’s the family alleges are missing.

If they were the Jordan’s, teens sadly have been murdered for their shoes before. Just recently, 3 men were sentenced in Georgia for shooting a man over his sneakers.

I would hope the police would be looking into who in the area possibly wears a 10 and half and perhaps has a new pair of grey sneakers on. Instead, they are likely doing battle with the Reverend Barber because ‘justice’… or something.

If you enjoyed this article, you should really check out other pieces written by Da Tech Guy’s Magnificent Seven writers and maybe hit that tip jar!

AP DillonA.P. Dillon (Lady Liberty 1885), is a Conservative minded wife and mother living in the Triangle area of North Carolina. A.P. Dillon founded the blog LadyLiberty1885.com in 2009. After the 2012 election, she added an Instapundit style blog called The ConMom Blog. Mrs. Dillon recently participated in Glenn Beck’sWe Will Not Conform. Mrs. Dillon’s writing, in addition to Da Tech Guy’s Magnificent 7, can also be found at StopCommonCoreNC.org, WatchdogWireNC and WizBang. Non-political writing projects include science fiction novellas that are, as of yet, unpublished. Her current writing project is a children’s book series.

Today on DaTechGuy on DaRadio we have two very different discussions to chew on.

In our first hour we talk to Dr. Paul Byrne a giant in the care of premature children.  He will be giving his thought on end of life issues including “Brain Death” vs true death and discover that a lot of what you believe isn’t what you think it is.

In the second hour we turn to the Hostess Strike.  I’ve hit the bakers union a bit on the blog and the show and though it would be good to get a 2nd perspective so Mike Hummell of the Bakers Union will be joining us.  Was the Bakers union unreasonable?  Were they “Going Galt?” both or neither, we’ll find out in the 2nd hour.

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