Thursday, May 31, 2012

The Power of a Blind Man

I've told a story before about my tenant Mr. White who is blind. I have more.
Mr. White has a small crush on me. I'm sure it has a lot to do with the fact that I'm one of the few people he "sees" on a regular basis. It also might be attributed to the time I had to fetch him from the ER when he cut his hand on a kitchen knife and could find a taxi there...but not one to return home. He lives a literal mile from the hospital, but he was stuck there..waiting. He took me out to lunch last week and vowed to do it once a month. He's a sweet soul. It never ceases to amaze me the comments he will throw out like, "My your looking good today," as he looks me up and down. He hasn't looked at anything in years. My heart goes out to him in his dark world where the talking books are his friends and his entertainment. His routine is the same. His talking clock keeps him on schedule. Every day I hear the squeak, squeak of his exercise machine. He can't just take off on a walk. And quite often, he asks me to cook something for him. Those that know me may find that funny because it's not something I do often, but for him, I make exceptions. His latest request is for a homemade peach cobbler. I bought the peaches yesterday. Everyone needs someone who gives a damn about them...even a little. In his small ways, he helps me as well. After having a particularly bad Friday last week, I plopped down on his sofa to say hello. It may have been the way I plopped or the sigh I let out, but he knew immediately that something was wrong with me. It is not lie that the blind have heightened senses like hearing and smell..I've see his work, like a superpower. That same day, I returned to the office to find a card. It was from Mr. White and it was for my birthday. There was a fuzzy looking heart that danced when you opened it...quite amusing. You see, he loves a card that does something. He also can't understand why his friends and family send him regular cards at Christmas. To's just paper. Off to his apartment I went to thank him, but to remind him that my birthday was over a week away. His response, " I know, but you needed it today." I guess it was those superpowers kicking in.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

This is sacrifice

I have lived in Augusta for the better part of 35 years. All throughout my childhood my mother warned me about "those soldiers." You see, we have a large Army base in Augusta; Fort Gordon. It was mother's constant decree that we should never fall for one of those army boys. I know that her warnings were built out of fear that she would lose her daughter in a barrage of moves around the country and that she would never see her grandchildren. She could have been right. I'll never know, because I heeded her words and stayed far away. This constant drone of negativity surrounding the military helped me form a less than positive view of practically all military folk.
Years and years have passed. I have now witnessed what the military has done for some wayward and lost boys and girls. I've seen them be transformed into responsible, respectful and contributing members of society.
 However, it wasn't until this year, last month even, that I understood what the military life really consists of and how much sacrifice goes into leading it every day. Have you ever seen a dad say goodbye to his wife, baby and 7 year old girl? Have you witnessed the agony in that child's eyes because she knows she will not see her daddy again for a long time? I have. It broke my heart. I had never been privy to a goodbye of that magnitude nor with such young victims. The scene was almost too much to watch. And yet for the family, it just is. They tell me that you get used to it. I'm pretty sure it takes the will of Job to shut off that pain and continue on...but they do it.
It wasn't until later that I learned of a deployed soldier's life. The monotonous day after day routine that lasts an average of 12 hours a day....every day....with no days off. I found this out after talking with a friend who is stationed in Afghanistan. Where the highlight of his week is Sunday's steak and waffles. His life revolves around every moment that he can get to Skype with his wife and children....his lifeline to home.
I never knew they worked so tirelessly...without end. It never dawned on me that in Afghanistan, there isn't a civilized city to explore and buy souvenirs. They cannot leave the base unless on a mission. They are trapped in their little metal bunkers or wooden boxes....some with air conditioning, but some without.
It was the revelation of these facts that led me to ask....why? Why would someone go through all of this self torture?
And then I was told about the sheepdog. An inspiring article written by Retired LTC David Grossman stated it plainly: If you have no capacity for violence then you are a healthy productive citizen, a sheep. If you have a capacity for violence and no empathy for your fellow citizens, then you have defined an aggressive sociopath, a wolf. But what if you have a capacity for violence, and a deep love for your fellow citizens? What do you have then? A sheepdog, a warrior, someone who is walking the hero's path. Someone who can walk into the heart of darkness, into the universal human phobia, and walk out unscathed. (

Simply put, these warriors, these protectors of our country....they're born that way. They have a special something inside of them that surpasses common man in that they are willing to gamble their life to save ours. That is huge. It's unfathomable. And yet hundreds of thousands of people have lived their lives that way for centuries.
To me, it's humbling. I think back to years of growing up with the looming presence of Fort Gordon and all the soldiers there that I had to steer clear of. Today, I can only imagine how many brave souls passed through those gates. Those were/are people I'd now love to know.

This Memorial Day weekend has taken on a new meaning for me because of what  I've recently learned. This weekend of cooking out and going to the lake...days off from work to hit the big sale at the mall... they are a slap in the face to the true intent of this day.
I have an older tenant who served in Vietnam. He sent out an email today expressing how heavy his heart was in remembering his fallen comrades and those still dying today from toxins they were exposed to there. There is a time for gathering and celebration...but it is not this weekend. This weekend is meant to honor the sheepdogs, the protectors, the people who risk everything and who put their family through similar risk just so that you and I can live free.

I am humbled and so thankful for amazing people like these. Theirs is a journey that many would never be able to make. So as little as it minuscule is the sentiment compared to the sacrifice it embodies....Thank you.
This sheep recognizes the price you pay every day.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012


There is such and ebb and flow to life itself that you don't recognize until you're older. A baby is born, someone passes away. It's traumatic and yet it's completely normal. It's the way things work.
It's the people in the middle of the process that just get me. It boggles my brain. There is a woman in Doctor's Hospital in Augusta who is literally being eaten to death by a flesh eating virus. She is young and educated...did all the right things and now she sits in a hospital in a condition I cannot imagine where she is losing her leg and both her hands and maybe more. How is it ok for her to die slowly and painfully while the convicts sitting in jail who have committed many atrocities are allowed to live? How is it right?
They tought something Sunday at church concerning the human brain. Although mechanically, we use 100% of our brain, our thought processes, functions and mental capacity only accesses up to 10%. It was explained best in an article I read as the volume on the stereo being turned to 2 instead of 8 or 10. The potential is's just not utilized. We also talked about how, when God made us, we had 100% use of our brains. We understood everything God did. However, the introduction of sin into those brains made it so we were capable of such a level of evil it would be detrimental to our own kind. Thus, we only access a small portion of what we have the potential for.
Not being a neuroscientist or truly understanding how the brain functions at all, it's hard to "wrap my brain" around the brain in general.
I do know that there are days when answers seem just out of reach. When I realize that situations can look very different depending on perspectives and that there is a big picture of which I do not always care about.
In the end, when we reach heaven and we again have the knowledge of God, when our brains are at 100% capacity and the big picture is revealed, I hope I understand why there was so much injustice in a world where I'm told there is a just God.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

A happy ending

I have the utmost respect for the Vietnamese people. If you've ever been to get a pedicure, you do as well. God bless anyone who will spend an hour scrubbing, scraping and exfoliating people's feet for a living. A friend and I treated ourselves to such a pedicure yesterday afternoon. It was a place that I haven't been to in a long while. They are all pretty standard with their massage chairs that have the little foot tubs beneath them. You just climb in the chair and relax and let those amazing people do their work. I quickly found, however, that this chair had a special feature I'd never experienced before. Just as I settled in, a large object protruded up through the massage by bum. Shocking to say the least, I arched my back to get away from the "thing" intruding on my personal space. I immediately thought of the many oriental massage places I've heard of before that provided a "happy ending" and ultimately the demise of their business. Between that and the extremely sensitive tickle spots on my feet, I laughed a lot providing more stress relief than the $30 I paid for.