Monday, April 26, 2010

Death Makes One Think

I wrote about the sudden unexpected death of my step-daughter. That was a tragedy of enormous proportions in my life. She was so young; two children who adored her; a husband who practically worshiped her; grandchildren who relied on Grandma for her hugs and kisses and things like chocolate chip cookies. Then, of course, there was the extended family of which I am honored to have been a part.

When a death like this occurs, it makes one think - that old demon is out there lurking around just waiting for any one of us. To top that off, I have undergone some medical tests recently which thankfully ended well, but could just have easily predicted my demise.

All together, those events have made me look around for all the unfinished business I would leave behind if it had been my turn to go. I am not afraid of death at all; I am a Christian and I strongly believe God's Word promises me eternity with Him.

For years, I have been trying to save money to pre-pay my funeral so that my few relatives will not be forced to deal with the difficult task of selections and decisions that nobody enjoys making. When I had the money, there was always something I would rather do, so on it goes.

Here is a short list of things I would like to accomplish before my doorbell rings for the last time.

1. I would like to go back to England and visit with my friends. I'd like to see Canterbury Cathedral, Marlowe's Restaurant, and Ersham Lodge once more. I would enjoy another of those cab rides which Jim would provide if I had some time to kill and nothing more important on my to-do list for the day.

2. I would like to visit places I have never been and do things I have never done; see people, places and things that I have never seen.

3. I have some terrific internet friends that I would like to meet in person.

4. I would like to watch a Hallmark commercial without crying.

5. And the most important on this list is that I would like to make amends with people whom I have offended. It has been my experience that in life, an argument requires two sides and a divorce usually is the result of both parties having differences that seemingly can't be overcome.

I sincerely do not know what I did to everyone I have offended, but I would apologize for it anyway because if Sara's death taught me anything at all it is that life is entirely too short to live with unfinished business.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Main Gear Touchdown

I love the manned spaceflight program of the United States. I remember very well the Mercury 7 astronauts. There was a time when I could tell you all of their names and the names of the spacecraft they flew. Eventually, I couldn't keep up any longer. NASA added more and more astronauts and spacecraft.

Then along came the glider that we know as the space shuttle. Challenger and Columbia have narrowed the number of usable shuttles and someone somewhere thinks the shuttle program has outlived its usefulness and is to be retired.

Something else will come along to take its place; however, I don't know what or when. Obama is cutting funds to NASA and still talking out the side of his mouth saying that we need to go farther into space and visit other planets. Surely he knows you can't do that without money.

There is a very valid argument that the entire space program should be cut off from the funding machine. I certainly see that side of the argument. Spending is out of control in Washington and because of that our world and the world of our great-grandchildren may never be the same.

On the other hand if there is a chance to further medical science to help save lives, or to gain knowledge in other areas, should we not at least attempt to learn what can be learned?

If the choice were mine, I would rather see funding for science over bailing out a failing badly managed business. The federal government isn't supposed to own businesses anyway. Individuals through the system of free-enterprise are supposed to do that.

Shuttle Discovery landed early this morning in Florida after just over two weeks in space. And I was watching. There are only a few shuttle flights remaining in the program, and I hope to watch all of them. I also hope to watch whatever comes next. I still have a healthy respect for America's NASA astronauts. They are some of the best and brightest military pilots, engineers and scientists our nation produces.

Maybe instead of trimming the space program, we could just trim the bureaucracy that surrounds them. Wonder why nobody has thought of trying that?

Saturday, April 10, 2010

The More Things Change, The More They Stay The Same

Every single day we are all faced with changes. For some of us, accepting the change and the trials that come with it seem insurmountable at times. We picture ourselves resting comfortably in our comfort zone for the rest of our lives knowing that regardless how hard we try, it will not stay that way.

If nothing else, we age daily and that in itself is a change. Our ideas and attitudes change along with that aging process. Perhaps the hardest part of that aspect of our changing lives is the change our bodies go through as the weeks, months and years go by.

The challenges I face are not the same as yours; nor are they the same as those of a professional athlete. Sports in America and indeed the entire world are a big part of our lives. From season to season we find ourselves accepting changes we agree and/or disagree with in the makeup of the teams we support.

For many years, I was a die-hard Dallas Cowboys fan. I ate, slept and breathed for football season. I sat at those pre-season games and baked in the heat or shivered in the cold of the winter games to enjoy watching the talents of men like Roger Staubach, Drew Pearson, Charlie Waters, Ed "Too-Tall" Jones, Harvey Martin, and Tony Dorsett. Ahhh... the good old days!

Then along came Jerry Jones. He fired Tom Landry, so I fired the Cowboys. I gave up my season tickets, and I have not watched even one Cowboys game all the way through on television since then. I certainly haven't attended a game, and I have absolutely no plans to do so in the future.

A few years later, I was part of a work group who went to a hockey game at the old Reunion Arena in Dallas. I had no idea what hockey was about, and I didn't want to embarrass my co-workers by saying the wrong thing at the wrong time. To prevent this from happening, I started watching a few games on television before we went.

The announcers for the Dallas Stars are Ralph Strangis and Daryl Reaugh. Naturally I think they are the best in the business. There have been a few occasions since I moved from the Dallas area when I have had to listen to the games via radio on my computer. Once in a while, for whatever reason, I have had to listen to the commentators for the other team during the game. What a difference I notice when that happens!

It's that comfort zone thing again, I'm sure, but Ralph and Razor, as they are affectionately known, are truly informative, interesting and entertaining. Through their excellent efforts I have learned a little about the game and the players who play the game. Sure, I have my favorite players - many of whom no longer play the game. Remember that change I mentioned earlier? Watch a professional sports team from year to year if you want to see change! The players I have received so much pleasure in watching change from year to year. Sometimes, they even change from month to month or even game to game.

One player has been a constant for the entire time I have been watching the Dallas Stars. Mike Modano. In the first place, he is absolutely too pretty to be a professional hockey player. Aren't they supposed to have teeth knocked out and cuts and bruises all over their faces from fights, hockey sticks and pucks? He doesn't. He is gorgeous.

But that's not where it ends. He is without a doubt the best American-born hockey player in all of the NHL, and he has the stats to prove it. His record-setting career looks like this:

• Goals by a player born in the United States (557)
• Points by an American-born player (1329)
• Playoff points by an American -born player, career (145)
• Games played by an American-born forward (1456)

Minnesota North Stars/Dallas Stars
• Games played, regular season and playoffs (1400, 174)
• Goals, regular season and playoffs (556,58)
• Assists, regular season and playoffs (801,87)
• Points, regular season and playoffs (1329, 145)

Mike Modano will soon be 40 years old. To me, that still seems so young, but in the world of hockey (up to 82 regular season games, untold practice sessions, myriad player meetings, etc for his 21-year career) he is an "old man." Knowing that he is nearing retirement, this has been a special year for Mike Modano and all of his fans.

I am not looking forward to making the change to Dallas Stars hockey without Mike Modano, but I know it is a change that is coming. If not next year, the year after, or the year after that. That time is to be determined by Mike Modano himself, as it should be.

Opposing teams watch him skate, shoot, score and win with awe. Fans cheer and stop in their tracks when he makes one of his "Mike Modano" moves that no other player seems to do.

Mike, you do what is best for you. I will miss you when you go. For a period of time, it may seem that the team will never be the same, but I will eventually accept the change that will come without you to shore up the roster and solidify the fan-base.

Thank you for being such an integral part of my Dallas Stars experience.

Man, I hate change!

Friday, April 2, 2010

He is Not Here For He Has Risen!

Rejoice!  He has risen!

It must not have felt like "happy time in the garden" that Resurrection Morning when the women went to officially anoint the body of Jesus for burial and found His body gone.  After all, this was only a few days after they had witnessed His cruel and painful crucifixion.  They had seen His blood pour from His head where the Roman soldiers had placed a crown of thorns. They had watched as a soldier pierced His side.

He was gone.  He had died.  What were they to do now?  I have often wondered why they didn't just believe.

Before He died, He walked around teaching about faith and trust and belief in Him saying that to know Him was to know the Father Who sent Him.  Almost certainly there had been a time when the women and the Twelve were standing nearby as Jesus answered the Jews who doubted Him, "Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up."

Did they not realize this was the third day?

They must not have taken Him seriously because here they were on their way to anoint His body.  He had been removed from the cross just before sundown that fateful Friday evening at which time the Sabbath would begin.  Some men had hurriedly placed His body in a borrowed tomb because Jewish law dictated that they would be able to do no work on the Sabbath; perhaps the walk to the cross where He would have been left hanging was further than the law allowed them to walk to be able to remove His body on the Sabbath.  Certainly it was considered work to have performed a ritualistic and formal burial.

Yet if they had listened.  If they had only believed what He said - He told them He would raise up the temple that was His body.

Perhaps they, like we, believed IN Him but failed to simply believe.  I am ashamed to admit that I have been doubtful at times about why He doesn't seem to be answering my prayers.  It has taken me many prayers and many years to realize that those are the times His answer is "not now."

Sometimes I wonder why He is taking so long.  He said He will return, yet He hasn't.  I have to merely accept that He WILL without fail return simply because He said so.  I must just believe. 

The women who went to the tomb that morning should have done that.  They should have just believed.  He was not there for He had risen!

Hallelujah!  He has risen!