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Saturday, May 3, 2014

Comes A Time

At times it takes next to nothing but a simple 'How are you?', even if it from a stranger. That does make it more painful, as you dreamed it would be someone closer, someone who could have been better, but decided to be nothing but a voyeur after all. Stay tuned... Are You OK? by the Dum Dum Girls https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=drzqkUQFy5k

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Five Years On

I can't recall the exact conversation,(naturally), but it was the fifth anniversary of something. I remember Ken saying that "five years is a long time". Nothing profound nor obviously very memorable at the time nor in his statement, but it always stuck with me. Five years eventually passes for everything, of course, but something is true about it. Before Ken died, I had marked other memories with that number, and it has always rung true about that otherwise mundane quote, that at five years, everything has changed enough so that it has started to become distant in time for the first time. So it is with Ken now. I even had to double check my mind a few times this past week when I tried to remember how long ago he left us. Part incredulity that it can be so long ago so quickly, but also purely temporal. The love is timeless, however.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Ken Smiles

Now two years older than Ken ever got, he came back in the most vivid dream I've had of him ever on that haunting anniversary a few days ago. There he was with me, my family, and other friends. We were all on a idyllic beach dive somewhere in the tropics. He was just a few feet in front of me, as radiant and smiling as always...

The dream told me it was two years before his death, and I struggled to decide whether to tell him or not. But why? I thought. He and we could not have been happier in this paradise with its 80 degree waters. We swam about blissfully, and only I knew his incoming doom, yet, it didn't matter after all. What a joy!

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Nepal 2009

Just returned from a month in Nepal. Kevin Dougherty was in my Peace Corps group, and we both jumped on the chance to go back one more time, this time to trek Manaslu. A great time, yet couldn't help think about Ken often, as we had a great time there too in 1986 and 1987. Ken never trekked there, but I did take him to Nagarkot on the eastern rim of the Kathmandu Valley to see the sunset and sunrise over the Himalaya. We got as far west as Pokhara as well. He loved to collect flags, and had a large Nepal flag on his bedroom wall for many years after. I'm always thankful that he came out, and that he didn't hesitate to see the world, and he did see a lot of it indeed.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Body and Soul

"You don't have a Soul. You are a Soul. You have a body."
CS Lewis

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Michael

I'm exactly two months older than Michael Jackson, and so grew up with him in a sense. Always loved the music as a kid, and danced with Billy Jean just as he was at the time. He started doing strange things, made mistakes, and struggled to be understood. The leeches and moralizing hypocrites were always there, and began sucking his blood long ago. Anyone who can't be compassionate toward him simply isn't human. He left a great legacy of music and dance, so please let him RIP. Ken would have agreed as well.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Is cancer the price for our big brains?

And if so, are those with higher IQs, like Ken, more vulnerable? See...
http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/31206671/

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Four Years On

A fifty year old guy drove himself to death into a stone wall a few hundred feet from my house at 4:30 on a Saturday morning last month. It was easy to see how his car swerved from the rubber it left before his last moment on earth.
I've thought about him often since. I didn't know him, and as I walk my dog a few times a day in the park across the street where he died and the flowers are laid, the only conclusion I could come up with is that no matter what, life comes and goes far more intensely than we would like to or even can imagine. Only our mothers understand the intensity of our arrivals, so that only leaves death for the rest of us to contemplate.
A famous celebrity died yesterday from a minor skiing accident. Death keeps trying to teach us all a lesson we'd better not accept. Death keeps trying to brainwash us into thinking that it doesn't matter who you are or what you think. Yet God knows it does.
Amazingly, Ken's gone four years now. The intensity of a loved one's passing always leaving us feeling it was only yesterday. Fortunately, that's also true of the happy memories.
I'm listening to Ken's favorite oldies right now. He was thrilled when he found out we could download music for 'free', and so he could "fill in the blanks" of his collection. Some are especially poignant, especially those that remind me of how much Ken loved life and those around him...
Early in the Morning (by Vanity Fare)
Evening is the time of day
I find nothing much to see
Don't know what to do, but I come to
When it's early in the morning
Over by the window day is dawning
When I feel the air
I feel that life is very good to me, you know
In the sun, there is so much yellow
something in the early morning meadow
Tells me that today you're on your way
And you'll be coming home, home to me

Night time isn't clear to me
I find nothing near to me
Don't know what to do but I come to
When it's early in the morning
Very, very early without warning I came
Feel a newly born vibration
Sneaking up on me again
There's a song bird on my pillow
I can see the fun in weeping willow
I can see the sun
You're on your way and you'll be coming
Home, home with me

Friday, January 9, 2009

Is There A Brain Tumor Virus?

"Thanks to the efforts of a relentless neurosurgeon, we may be closer to understanding what causes one of the most deadly cancers." go to...
http://www.newsweek.com/id/178660

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Sweet dreams are made of these

Very hard to believe it's been 5 years since our last healthy Xmas together, as by his last he was bedridden, and I couldn't bring myself to celebrate much at all. I regret that, and would have had everyone making as much merry as possible, but it just wasn't at the time. No gifts at all 4 years ago.
I did play Ken's favorite Xmas record, 'Twas the Night Before Christmas', by Fred Waring and the Pennsylvanians, a big (swing) band. A big hit back in the forties, our folks played it every Xmas, and we were enthralled and entertained by it. Two tracks in particular were unique: their version of Rudolph the Rednose Reindeer, with hilarious sound effects, and the title track. It's is a very powerful and poignant rendering of Clement Clark Moore's poem, and always left us aching for Xmas to stay just an hour longer. I remember Ken 5 years ago saying how intensely sentimental he got every time he heard it, and I played it for him one more time 4 years ago as he sat unable to speak in front of the fireplace.
We lost the original LP, but Ken found cassettes for both of us in the '80s. He kept hunting for the LP version and finally hunted it down in the Village a few years later for $30, worth it just for Norman Rockwell's portrait of Santa and his elves sneaking around two siblings deep asleep in a big chair.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Parallel Universes

My first major was physics, and Ken took an interest in my studies years ago when I would discuss quantum physics with him. Of course, he read up on the subject and knew as much as I did within months.
Since then, the reality of parallel universes has no doubters among physicists, it's just a matter of agreeing what form they take (concurrent in the space we now occupy, or are they adjacent like soap bubbles, etc.). I wish I had talked about the subject with Ken.
You see, Ken had no doubt about God, yet he felt God could not be so simplistic as portrayed in popular Christianity.
The concept of parallel universes is very comforting when you understand its central tenet is that all possible realities are currently happening. So, if you can imagine ANY different reality, you can rest assured it's already coexisting in one of the infinite number of parallel universes. To put it another way, in one of them, Ken and the rest of my family are all alive and well and doing just fine, thank you. Only God could have come up with that idea.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

53

Happy Birthday Ken. I remember how our birthdays would bookend the summer vacation, with mine at the beginning, and Ken's just as school started. That seemed such a great long stretch when we were kids. On certain summer days now, when I have the chance to sit down and look up at the clouds, I can't help but feel Ken should not have missed this one either. Guess that's just not the way it goes. Next time I will (seriously) introduce the subject of parallel universes, and why that has helped to reinforce my battered faith that we will all see each other again somewhere someway.

Monday, June 30, 2008

50

Yesterday, June 29th, I turned 50. This was something of a psychological point to pass through, as neither Ken nor our mother made it to 50. Given the disturbing coincidences of their passings, I couldn't help but be a bit superstitious as to whether I would make it myself. No reason to suppose I would after all. I intend to keep in mind that expecting another day on earth is laughable at best, and tragic at worst, though pray and plan on we must. In any event, I had a truly wonderful birthday party with friends and family, and I do thank them all.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Straight Talk is Healthier

From MSNBC: Most cancer doctors avoid saying it's the end. New research backs straight talk, casts doubt on 'keeping hope alive'
"Many people do not get such straight talk from doctors, who often think they are doing patients a favor by keeping hope alive.
New research shows they are wrong.
Only one-third of terminally ill cancer patients in a new, federally funded study said their doctors had discussed end-of-life care.
Surprisingly, patients who had these talks were no more likely to become depressed than those who did not, the study found. They were less likely to spend their final days in hospitals, tethered to machines. They avoided costly, futile care. And their loved ones were more at peace after they died."
Also, "Some doctors' groups are fighting the bill, saying it interferes with medical practice. But at an American Society of Clinical Oncology conference in Chicago earlier this month, where the federally funded study was presented, the society's president said she was upset at its finding that most doctors were not having honest talks."

go to http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/25176326/

Friday, June 6, 2008

Surgery

So Teddy went ahead with surgery anyway... or did he? It was the family and friends worried about their own guilt that insisted on it you can bet, and when you're ill, you'll do anything, as you are supremely scared and vulnerable. It will only make Ted more miserable. How our vanity trumps all, even when someone we say we love and pray for should be left to die with dignity.

Friday, May 23, 2008

Teddy Kennedy

Teddy has a very similar, if not identical tumor as Ken did. Glioblastomas take no prisoners, so it was good to hear that he is not opting for surgery. Someone must have told him it won't help, which is true. However, he's still going through with chemo and radiation which is a big mistake, and will make no difference either, except to assuage the feelings of those 'loved ones' who will outlive him. Surgery is a breeze compared to the nightmare of those therapies, which ruined at least two of Ken's last remaining 7 months.
I do not mean to prescribe despair, but when it come to this type of cancer, wrist bracelets and prayers are for naught. Let the loved one go with dignity with as clear a mind as possible, and do not think about what others will say later on about how 'we did all we could'. It's not about your ego; it's about the few remaining months that need to be spent as well as possible. Certain other cancers respond well to surgery and those therapies, but not this beast. Medical science will catch up with this monster someday, but we're just not there yet.
Teddy has perhaps six months to go, a year if he's "lucky".

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Three years on

This anniversary, I was not at home, but on a ship at sea. March 21st was on a full moon, as well as Good Friday. How strange...
While off the coast of Cuba on the way to Mexico, I was able to look out from our port balcony to view the full moon, and wonder/pray to Ken and dad on this forever-to- be haunting day. Will I die on this day too someday? I couldn't help but wonder.
It was all quite beautiful after all, with dolphins and flying fish serenading us, and the searing agony of the last few years finally given way to some peace of soul after all.
They were with me in a way I hadn't felt in years, and though I had toasted them both on St. Patricks's Day, the 21st was far more important after all. How I miss them so.

Friday, February 1, 2008

To Those Suffering and in Fear

Until now, this blog has been focused on my brother's life and death, and my mourning of his passing. I hope to, from now on, make this blog more helpful and uplifting, if not informative. I know full well, and have all along, how many others are going through the same ordeal. To a certain extent , I feel somewhat ashamed that I have mourned longer than anyone should be entitled to. On the other hand, I have found blogging to be a wonderful way to reflect, memorialize and, I hope, help others, if not anything more than to let them know you are far from alone.
I have added a few links to organizations researching brain tumors, and have no doubt that in the not too distant future, we will be able to stop them in their tracks, if not destroy them, before they have a chance to take away those we love so much. Stay strong,and keep the faith!

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Time and Date.com

I used to use this website in my teaching, and returned to it again when I realized that Mom's and Ken's deaths were both around 49.5 years. I was curious to find out just how far apart they were. Using the calculators on this site, I found that Ken lived 20 days longer than Mom, and that Dad reached 49.5 in the middle of 1969.
I kept going to find out just when I would reach the same age as they did upon passing. I was the exact same as as Mom the day after this past Xmas, and today is the day I'm exactly the age Ken was on March 21st, 2005. Hence this entry.
It may seem a bit morose, but I find it very profound as well as disturbing. It's very strange to think of oneself as being older than your older brother, and certainly than your mother. Inconceivable, yet true. On top of that, I couldn't help but be a little superstitious, wondering if I would make it to 49.5 myself. After Ken's death, all bets were off.
I'd like to believe that this is one of the last hurdles I need to overcome in dealing with my grief. As noted below, it is not as persistent as it had been, but it still rears its sad, menacing head at times, and will certainly continue to do so. I did tell you that Dad and Ken died on the same day, 3 years apart. How can I not be haunted?
PS A great way to view Ken's photos is using a piece of freeware that enables you to view online photos in an amazing '3-D' wall, whether they're in a Google search, or Ken's Picasa pictures. You'll understand it once you try it. Go to http://www.piclens.com/ to download the browser add on. Then come back and try it after clicking on the Picasa link to Ken's pix on this page.

Monday, December 31, 2007

Christmas '07

Like Thanksgiving, it came and went quite gracefully, with certain music hitting me the hardest, especially Fred Waring and the Pennsylvanians', 'The Night Before Christmas'. We were fans of this recording since we were tots. Highly recommended for fun and sentiment as well.
The impact has begun to feel more wistful than agonizing, with great gratitude for the years, with their Christmases, he had on earth with us.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Happy Holidays

Thanksgiving '07 was a delightful turn of the page. Not that Ken wasn't at the other end of the table, giving me his last salute as he did three years earlier, but it was the first time in five years that we enjoyed the day the way Ken would have certainly wanted us to.

Now here comes Christmas, with eight of us altogether this time. How I wish he could join us, or perhaps he will be with us. Oh, how he loved Christmas!

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Forever 49

Labor Day weekend became Memorial Day weekend for me since Ken's passing. His last Labor Day weekend consisted of a party here at my place, when I saw him praying on my couch that it would not be his last birthday. No, prayer does not always work. Actually, it almost never does come to think of it, but you're not supposed to think of it...
Then there was the grand finale birthday bash on Labor Day itself in '04 at Randi and Steve Eisen's place. It was, without exaggeration, Ken's last truly happy day on earth. I cannot recall even a grin even once on his face after that day, though there were months to go. Yet, he smiled and laughed many times that wonderful day.
Happy 52nd Birthday, Ken!

Thursday, August 9, 2007

Still to Come

I am finally nearing the end of print scanning and uploading, with perhaps a few dozen or so yet to go. It's our large slide collection that will take the better part of a year to get off the ground. The hardest part will be finding photos of Ken, and not just by Ken, which are far more numerous (thousands, that is). And among those, photos of Ken in places I know he and or we have been to. That includes more photos of India and Nepal, Thailand, Burma, the Philippines, and Korea, not to mention Europe (England, Denmark, Spain). Also, Ken dove in Lake Champlain, Lake Michigan, Truk Lagoon (twice), and visited Hawaii on the way there. His diving alone would leave traces all over the globe; so far, just a few sites have been mapped. He also visited Australia twice, which is where his diving started; on the Great Barrier Reef. Oh yeah, I almost forgot Expo '67 in Montreal...If I can't find photos of Ken, I will substitute photos I can find of those places for mapping purposes. He did well in his abbreviated passage through this life.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Technology Marches On

Ken would have loved this stuff. We talked a lot about the miracle of the internet, and how it could be used for so many positive things. Blogging alone would have been a thrill for him, as I no doubt know he would have started his own on any number of subjects. Scanning and uploading/organizing photos would have been a top priority for him as it is for me. He just might have upgraded his old clunker of a computer.
As you may have noticed, I found a way to use Yelp.com for a while to show some of the 'Geography of Ken's Life'. I will probably remove that soon as Picasa now has enabled me to embed a slide show right on this blog, but also to map the photos I've uploaded so far. But please don't stop with the slide show: you can now click on the 'Ken's photos' link, then click on the fairly small 'View Map' link. I have mapped nearly all of the photos so far, with only a handful I'm not 100% sure about yet as far as where they were taken. Please keep in mind that I have only scanned and uploaded prints so far: there are many more slides I have to scan and upload. So please check back once in a while as I continue to build on a project I will continue to build on indefinitely...
PS Speaking of technology, below is a YouTube video of Nunley's just before it was closed in 1995. We were there as kids, as teenagers, and with Marie, including its last day.