Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Life and Death

On Life and Death.

As I was watching a show highlighting the 2015 year in review, I couldn't overlook all the death and killing that occurred.  It happens every year.  Friends, relatives, acquaintances and millions of people you don't know die.  It's the most important part of life.  It's really the only thing we have to do.

Sometimes I think I'm too flippant about death.  When someone I love dies, I weep for a while.  I don't want to, but I do, but then I'm happy for them.  I guess I assume they are Christian and they are now in Heaven.  When other people die, I'm not moved much.  I've seen death my whole life.

When I was really young, Tommy Faber got sick and we never saw him again.  I think he had cancer.  I guess that was in the late 1950's.  It was never explained to us.  He just disappeared.  He died and went to Heaven.

Both my grandpas died when I was in elementary school.  They were old and that happens to old people I was told.  Grandpa Rowe was 62 and Grandpa Lutterbein was 65.  I'm 63.  Mmmmm.
Later when we were in elementary school a bunch of us neighborhood kids would play after school.  Just about every day Jeff Yarger, a high school kid, would walk by us on his way home from school.  He lived around the corner from us.  When he'd walk by and say "hello men", that made a bunch of little boys feel pretty good.  Well he graduated and went into the Air Force.  We were in junior high by then.  One day we found out he was shot down and killed in a place called Vietnam.  That was my first taste/understanding of real death.  That changed my life.  I got a small understanding about both death and war.

When I went to college I knew I didn't want to go to Vietnam.  There were news reports of all the killing and death every night on the nightly news.  I was terrified.  My class was in the army lottery. My number was 71.  That was not good.  Fortunately there was a deferment for college students.  All I had to do was keep a C average and I was safe for four years.  Those were the four years I fell.  Heavy drinking, daily use of marijuana, a rebellious spirit led me to attend a few anti war rallies and develop a general disrespect for all authority.  Somehow I did keep that  C average and got my degree in economics.  By then the war had ended and life went on.

Later in life our first son was born.  We were excited as we anticipated this his birth, but there were problems.  Brian William Lutterbein was born with multiple anomalies.  Heart, lungs, kidneys, a little of everything.  He was born on October 13, 1978.  His funeral was December 13, 1978.  I blamed myself because of my earlier lifestyle even though there was no medical evidence.  You never get over something like this, at least I haven't.  I needed help.  Family helped a lot, but this 6'5" angel tucked me under his wing and helped me get though it.  We would go drinking and shooting/hunting.  In a strange way killing birds and rabbits was good therapy and my old friend beer helped as well.  It took less and less of both as time went by.

My two best friends in high school lost a son as well.  Roal's son died in a car accident in high school and Bev's son died of a freak aneurism when he was in college.  I don't know how I would have survived either of those.  I had Brian less than two months and melted into a pile of mush.  They had there sons for 16 and I think 20 years.  I never had the intestinal fortitude to talk to either one of them about it.  Didn't think I could handle it.  Those boys are in Heaven.  I still pray for their parents.

My cousin John Rowe would light up any room he walked into.  We sometimes referred to John as crazy John because he was his own person.  He was a conscientious objector to the Vietnam war.  He had a great singing voice.  He later became a minister and lead crusades in Europe when he was in his 40's.  I loved John.  He was my favorite cousin.  I got a lot of his old clothes since he was a year older than me and always just a size larger than me.  John got colon cancer and died at age 49.  That was a tough on the whole family.  John was life itself and then he went to Heaven.

A few years later big Bob Farnham, my 6'5" angel I mentioned earlier, died suddenly.  This was another big hurt.  As far as I'm concerned, he saved my life 25 years earlier and then he went to Heaven.  I'm still good friends with his wife.  I have to mention Denise.  She was pretty important and contributed to my healing as well.

Both my grandmas died, grandma L was 91 and Grandma R was 102.  Grandma L was always my biggest critic and Grandma R was always my biggest fan.  They were old and it was time.  They both lived good long lives.  They went to Heaven.

My dad was diagnosed with Parkinson's disease when he was around 80.  He went down hill until he was finally blessed with death.  It was hard watching the slide.  Year after year getting worse and worse.  When he died I realized the good of death.  Love you dad.  You taught me things even when you died.  Hope to see you in Heaven someday.

My Uncle Dick Lutterbein was also my business partner.  He was a pain in my side for much of my business life, but I still loved him.  When dad died he was especially caring and helpful.  Dick had a bad habit of not stopping at stop signs.  He had a lot of health problems and outlived his doctor's prediction and may still be alive if it weren't for that stop sign.  I was the first one of the family to the hospital.  He died a few hours later.  He had a couple of his daughters, his friend Fran, Don Landel and I with him when he died.  He is the only person that I actually watched die.  I don't recommend it.  There were times I wondered if he would make it to heaven, but the last couple of years I knew him makes me believe that's where is.

My in laws died a couple of years apart.  Clair's death wasn't a big shock.  He had pretty bad dementia and was in a nursing home for a while.  He was 88.  Irene on the other hand was a shock.  In fact she was going to move to California with us.  Then all of a sudden her health went down hill and died in just a couple of months. It was suggested she didn't want to move so she went to be with Clair.  I loved both my in laws and I know they are in Heaven.

Finally my mom.  She died last winter.  She was 92.  It was time for her as well.  She suffered from dementia for several years.  In my mind she died a couple of years ago.  There was a person in that nursing home who looked like mom, but I couldn't find my mom.  We were glad for her when she died.  We celebrated life when both my parents died.

We are all going to die.  Embrace it.  There are a lot of ways to die.  Some people like to decide when and how to die.  After dad died I thought that might be a good idea, but after further consideration, I think I'll take what the good Lord gives me.  My goal in life is Heaven.  It's a hard job for us humans.  It doesn't just happen.  As my econ professor Paul Jersa used to say the day before a quiz "A word to the wise should be sufficient".

Good living to you.