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Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Your Dying Spouse 87 - The Worst Version of Myself

We're connected with Messy Marriage's Wedded Wednesday; please visit for some great marriage resources!

There is nothing like a severe trial to bring out the best in a person...and sometimes, the very worst.

We want to be accepting of that which we can't change, while working to do what we can, both as caregivers, and when we're terminally ill.

And often, we find ourselves far short of the mark, saying hurtful things and displaying a petulant sullenness that does no one any good. And it frequently causes harm, and drives a couple further apart when mutual support is urgently needed.

I did that a couple of days ago, and I am appalled at that. I'm better than that. Aren't I?

Well, no. I'm not, because I did it. I said the hurtful things. There are explanations, and it would be easy to try to twist them into excuses, a play on sympathy...oh, I was driven beyond endurance by the pain, and by vomiting so violently...

That sort of thing. It's called manipulation.

So I won't do it, and I'll admit to what I did, not to feel 'nobly responsible', or some such thing, but because it's true.

All that aside, the really important question is why we can suddenly become such awful examples of humanity.

I think it really comes down to contrast, and resentment, and jealousy.

Our lives, caregiver and patient, have been profoundly changed. We remember our old lives; the images are just out of reach behind the unbreakable window that stands between today and yesterday.

We can see them, we can feel them. We have the muscle memories of the former tools of our trades, but we're blocked from using them now.

It's just out of reach.

If we couldn't remember so clearly, if the movies of our memories weren't so vivid, it wouldn't be a problem. But we can, and we resent the restraints placed upon us.

The contrast between a Technicolour yesterday and the monochrome of today is heartbreaking.

And we see other who enjoy that which we once could...and are insanely jealous.

So we take it out on the person closest to us...either our caregiving spouse, or on the person for whom we're caring. It's the last place our anger should go, and it's inevitably the first destination.

There's no easy fix. It's going to happen, and there are three things you can do.

First, when you take out your anger on your spouse, ask for forgiveness (and accept theirs, when the situation's reversed).

Second, forgive yourself. You're going to slip; you're supposed to be like Jesus, but you're not Jesus.

Third, once you forgive...forget. Never bring it up again. Unless it's something really egregious, don't make your mate walk a long road to regain trust.

Let it go, because life is nowliterally too short.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Monday, November 23, 2015

Your Dying Spouse 86- Life Goes On

Today we're linked with Inspire Me Monday, where I happen to have written the guet post! Thanks, Anita! We're also linked with Wedded Wednesday.

This will be a short essay; the weekend was hellish, and I've been considerably weakened.

But I'm not dead, and life goes on, in whatever form it can take.

Cancer, you see, is not a death sentence. The death sentence is implicit in our birth into this world. Illness merely sharpens the focus.

And yes, it's uncomfortable, and painful, and often embarrassing, but it's our own choice - to a large degree - to accept those as the main influences on our outlook.

I'm certainly not talking about the I'm walking hand-in-hand-with-Jesus paradigm being proof against pain, though I don't denigrate it. It works for many, and I believe it represents the Truth of Creation...but though I feel His presence, I don't feel it that way.

Wish I did.

Instead I take comfort in the mundane, the tasks that have to be accomplished, well or badly, every day. They represent the continuity of the life of which I so long to remain an active part, for as long as I can.

Life goes on. I want to, as well.

Please pardon the delays that are becoming a feature of my replies to comments - your comments are immensely valuable to me, and I truly appreciate them...but writing is hard now, as are most things, and I simply can't get it done as fast as I would like.

I'd also like to mention, again, two new short ebooks.
The first is "Faith in the Night", which describes why, in the face of a life that has largely fallen apart, I still have faith, and still feel loved by God...and why I still want to live.

The second is a Christmas story, "Angela - A New Mexico Christmas". It's about a boy, his grandfather, and the cow that saves their lives in a blizzard...but she's part of a beef herd, and can the rescued become the rescuers?

If you'd like one or both, you can email me (tempusfugit02(at) gmail (dot) com) for a PDF, or click on the covers to go to the Amazon Kindle pages. They's both 99 cents.

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Your Dying Spouse 85 - Con Thien {FMF}

Time for Five Minute Friday, the keyword-guided timed writing challenge hosted each week by Kate Motaung. We're also linked with Inspire Me Monday and Wedded Wednesday.

This week's word is DWELL.

Execute, execute, execute.

Con Thien is hard by the Z. It's more like California than Viet Nam, and the sea fog can be chilly.

The name translates as The Place Where Angels Dwell.

It's where the one-nine confirmed its nickname...The Walking Dead.

A little bit confusing?

I'll translate. Con Thien is a low rise in the terrain in the northern part of South Viet nam, very close to what was the demilitarized zone, the UN-mandated buffer between North and South that did nothing to ameliorate a long and tragic war.

The one-nine is the first battalion of the ninth Marine regiment, a unit that earned a reputation for getting into the heaviest contacts, and winning through with brutal casualties. Thus, The Walking Dead.

The TV show of the same name, about zombies...OFFENDS me. Those words are sacred.

What does this have to do with terminal illness? A lot, as it turns out.

With an abbreviated future, one turns to the past...not living in the past, that would be really stupid...but reintroducing the paradigms of that past into one's current reality.

In other words, personality growth slows, or stops.

I'm very different from the college teacher I was when I started getting sick, and very different from the man Barbara thought she married.

The affable goof with a broad sense of humour is largely gone, replaced by what has been described to me as a grim Centurion with a cold, thin-lipped glare. Tacitus' Centurion, really (as described by C.S. Lewis).

All the more relentless because he had endured it himself.

The Walking Dead...still walking among the angels, after all these years.


And now, if I may, I'd like to introduce two new short ebooks.
The first is "Faith in the Night", which describes why, in the face of a life that has largely fallen apart, I still have faith, and still feel loved by God...and why I still want to live.

The second is a Christmas story, "Angela - A New Mexico Christmas". It's about a boy, his grandfather, and the cow that saves their lives in a blizzard...but she's part of a beef herd, and can the rescued become the rescuers?

If you'd like one or both, you can email me (tempusfugit02(at) gmail (dot) com) for a PDF, or click on the covers to go to the Amazon Kindle pages. They's both 99 cents.

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Your Dying Spouse 84 - My Miracle

We're linked up with Messy Marriage's Wedded Wednesday; please visit them to find some awesome marriage resources!

In this difficult passage, and in these particularly tough weeks, I've found my miracle. I really had it all along.

It's this - I want to live, and I am living.

Fully, and the best way I can.

The miracle comes with the somewhat surprising understanding that I'm OK with this, with the process of being terminally ill.

There are many things I won't get to do, sure. But life's like that anyway.

I expected to resent this, knowing that I would one day face the situation squarely. Hey, I can do denial with the best of 'em!

But the thing is, life really isn't about plans and dreams. Life isn't about tomorrow. It's about now, because now is all we ever have.

There is a clarity here, and each moment has become precious. When I kiss barbara goodbye in the morning, I do it with more care - it's no longer a perfunctory see-you-later peck. Nor is it a passionate let's have-sex-tonight smootch.

It's far more than the former, and far more than the latter. It's this -

I appreciate you, and I love you, and I will look forward to seeing you tonight, when you return.

Barbara isn't used to it yet. I still get some pretty puzzled looks.

When I have a cigar, enjoyed with a good book, to hasten the absorption of pain meds, I enjoy every puff. Whether it's a cheap one, or a premium...I don't have to pretend to myself that "well, it's medicine"...I like the taste.

I like Barbara better than cheap cigars, yer. Now when compared to good ones, well...

I can look at the dogs and really see them, really spend time with them. I'm not looking past their eyes to my writing, or my career (when I had one), or to the aeroplane parts I can now rarely touch.

I am there for them, in the moment.

Abd so it can be, dear caregiver, for you. There will come a moment, I hope, when you know that it's not about the battle, not about the things that will only get worse, and not about what -will-I-do-when-it's-over?

It's about taking every moment youhave together as a gift, and taking every moment you have, yourself, the same way.

Dreams are nice, and plans are necessary; I still have them. But whatever happens, it's OK, because it isn;t the goal that's important.

It's the path, and the person with whom we've chosen to share it.

Your miracle walks with you everyday, and it's constantly renewed. You haven't missed it.

You just have to take it into your hands, and your heart.

Charlie's Bottle - #BlogBattle

I've been two weeks away from #BlogBattle, and I'm sorry. I was just too ill to put pen to paper, so to speak, for a story. (We're also linked with Wedded Wednesday.)

But The Dude and Friends are back...with this week's keyword, BOTTLE.

Charlie's Bottle

Sometimes The DUde let me drive, though not without criticism, while he rode regally in the TC's cupola.

"TC...uh, it's a straight road, you know?"

"What? We're still on the road, right?"

"Yeah, but don't you think the locals would prefer the asphalt torn up in kind of a straight path?" Tanks are hard on just about everything under the treads.

Sonny was riding the loader's hatch. "Waalll, TC...lookin' back, we's looking lahk we's a couple'a big ol' rattlesnakes, walking sahd bah each...hey, TC, watch the..."

Te ditch seemed to have moved a little closer to the road...sneaky Asian terrain feature! - and Ship of Fools suddenly tilted sideways to the left, high-centered on the pavement's edge.

"Aw, crap." I gunned the engine, and gave it some right turn, to try to get the left treads to bite and pull us out.

"TC, don't do that, please." The Dude's voice as quiet and reasonable. That was scary. I thought he might kill me next. "Shut it down, TC."

I killed the big Continental, The silence descended like a big, wet heavy blanket. Or maybe that was just the tropical air, in the presence of a roadside ditch, the conduit for sewage.

I climbed out the driver's hatch, and joined TC and Sonny, who were standing on the sloping rear deck, looking at where I'd placed us. Biff had his head out the cupola, and he was trying hard not to grin. He failed.

"Ah, well," said The Dude.

Since something interesting had happened, on a road in the middle of nowhere, a crowd of Vietnamese civilians appeared. I wondered where they all came from, and so quickly. The inevitable Coke-hawker set up a stand, conjured out of thin air.

Any excuse for a party, and the best excuse was to see Americans being good-naturedly dumb. I smiled and waved, and most of the Viets waved back.

"Had to give you a challenge, Dude," I said. "It's all yours."

The Dude gave me a look of exasperation tinged with pity. "We're going to have to call on our betters to get out of this one. Sonny, would kindly ring up the New Guys, and ask them to hasten along to lend a helping hand?"

"Ah shur will, Dude...we'all's jest looking reel happy here, jest lahk a dead hawg in the sunshahn, ain't we?"

Biff quickly said, "I'll do it. I think the New Guys only speak English."

Sonny folded his arms and grinned. "Ah'm bah-linggel!"

The Dude walked to the back of the deck, and carefully jumped down, to avoid landing in the noxious ditch. "Well, then, Sonny, would y'll gimme a hand with the tow cable?"

Sonny's words were drowned out by a sudden burst of gunfire. "Down!" The Dude yelled. Sonny went headfirst through the loader's hatch, and I tried to slip back into the driver's position, missed, and landed headfirst in the ditch.

"Aw, SH..."

"TC? You OK?"

I sat up,...stuff dripping off me. I was in defilade, the bank above my head. "Yeah. Wonderful." I squelched smellily up the bank to peer over the edge.

The Viets had disappeared, even spiriting away the Coke stand, except of one. A VC from Central casting, black pajamas, coolie hat, and all, was weaving down the road toward us. In one hand was an AK-47, and the other held a bottle. As I watched, he took a swig, raised the rifle, let off a couple of shots, and fell on his butt.

The turret rotated slightly. "I got the coax on him, Dude," came Biff's voice. "Shall I?"

The Dude's voice came from behind the tank. "Wait. Stay on him."

Charlie was scrambling untidily to his feet, a desperate expression on his face. He dropped the bottle, and peered at the bottle....and then he raised his eyes heavenward, an unmistakable thank-you in any language, and hugged it. He hadn't spilled a drop.

Leaving the AK in the road, we walked...well, sort of...toward us. I raised my head higher when he was about ten feet away, and he suddenly stopped, eyes wide. Then he took a sniff, and promply vomited.

"Thanks," I said.

Charlie replied in a slurred torrent of Vietnamese. He waved the bottle.

"What's he saying? Does he want to chieu hoi?"

The Dude stepped around the other side of the tank. His .45 was loose in his hand, pointed at the ground. "No, TC, he's not talking abut surrender. The way you smell, I can see why. No, he's asking if you want a drink."

Charlie held out the bottle to me, and spoke again. It was jack Daniels, and it looked good.

"He says you have to use your own cup."


Sunday, November 15, 2015

Your Dying Spouse 83 - Temptations

We're linked with Wedded Wednesday.

Watching someone slowly fade is, as we've said, hard.

So is the temptation to try to force a miracle. As the dying spouse, you may want to go all out to try to live...and as a caregiver, you may be in the position of either introducing an option, or giving counsel on something your mate brings up.

We hear of miracle cures, 'bold new treatments', and miraculous healings by 'anointed' pastors.

When the actor Steve McQueen was dying of lung cancer, he went to Mexico in a last-ditch effort to try what was said to be a promising new treatment involving peach pits.

I'm not at all against making every effort to survive, and to turn the situation around, but there are some things to consider -

  • What are the realistic chances for any sort of success? We all have limitations on time,money, and energy. Steve mcQueen could afford to chase a last hope across the border...but can you? You, as the caregiver, will have to go on with your family. We all say that even the smallest hope is better than none,but can you pay the price? And yes, there's the downside price of deciding against it,as the patient, or arguing against,as the caregiver...and wondering what would have happened had you 'done the utmost'. If the choice is before you, it's not an easy one, and there will be fallout either way, if it fails.
  • What will the sacrifice be in quality of life? I'm terminal, and I have a limited number of days left, so I try to make each one the best it can be; at this point I, personally, would not bet the quality of a sizable chunk of that on a longshot. I love the time I can spend with barbara and the dogs; I love the small amount of work I can still do upon aeroplanes; and I love writing. These are more important, in the aggregate, than a desperate hope. I've run my race, and I'm content. You may not share this feeling, but it's worth considering.
  • What about disappointment? We tend to view longshots in terms of the successes, but for every lottery ticket purchased, there are thousands that - I hope - go back for recycling (Save the Earth!). What would that disappointment do to the time you and your husband or wife can still share? And yes, this has to be balanced against the cost of passing on the chance. Again, it's a chard one.
The 'miraculous healers' are in something of a class by themselves.

I have no doubt that miraculous healing exists; I've seen it.

But I also feel that anyone who claims to be a healer should have proof that will stand up to scrutiny. Someone with a back problem who, on having the laying on of hands, can suddenly walk normally immediately after the 'healing' doesn't make the grade. Adrenaline can do that; so can, unfortunately, a rigged demonstration.

Many of these healers will pooh-pooh the need for truth, quoting Jesus' response to Thomas about seeing and believing. Well, they're not Jesus, and at least one preacher who holds regular 'miracle services' has ushers who keep people with clear and obvious infirmities from the stage.

In pursuing a miracle cure at a healing service, then, there's one additional question to ask yourself...what will this do to your mate's faith...and to yours?

I'm deliberately leaving out those who say that a donation of, say, $300 to the ministry will 'sow a seed that will grow a miracle'. For one thing, it's a deliberate abuse of the Parable of the Sower, and for another, it takes advantage of desperation. These people are beneath contempt.

If you are a caregiver or are terminally ill, I hope, with all my heart, that you find a last-minute cure, or a miracle. Heck, I hope I do.

But no matter what, I hope that you find peace, and the capacity for joy.

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Your Dying Spouse 82 - Not Weary At All {FMF}

Five Minute Friday again, the timed keyword-driven writing challenge hosted by Kate Motaung.

We're also linked with Wedded Wednesday.

The prompt tonight is WEARY.


It's been the week from hell, and everything went sideways yesterday...I collapsed physically, emotionally, and spiritually.

But it was a passing thing, because I want to go on.

I was told (and have been told before, Look, let go...when you think of the glories of Heaven you won't even wast to stay here.

But the thing is, I'm not tired of this life. I can deal with the pain, and all the rest of it. The challenges are still worth while, and I still look forward to what tomorrow will bring.

I still watch for the sunrise.

And Heaven? The Throne of Grace, the choirs of angels, the day-long hosannas?

Never did much care for choral music. I'll pass for now.

See, I've still got work to do here. I'm not tired of this.

Heaven can wait.


Again, I do have to ask your patience with my replies to comments, and visits to your sites. When I said 'collapsed' above...that was pretty much it. it sucked.

And, I have an offer for y'all. My wife found three copies of "Blessed Are The Pure Of Heart" that we'd bought from the publisher when it came out.

So I'm offering them here. I would dearly love to give them away...but we have 24 hungry canine mouths to feed, and go through 12 lbs of dog food every day.

It is a Christmas-Easter story, and got some nice reviews on Amazon. So I hope you'll like it., if you choose to read it. I enjoyed writing it.

So I hope I won't look crassly materialistic when I say, how about $20 postpaid for a signed copy? You'll get that, plus an original-art flyleaf sketch of Ladron the Chief Service Dog, and an ebook of the soon-to-be-released "Emerald Isle".

And you'll have our deepest thanks; we're not a nonprofit, but we do our best for these guys, and you'll be in our grateful human and canine prayers.

Please drop me a note at tempusfugit02 (at) gmail (dot) com if you're interested.

And for fun...the musical accompaniment to this post...