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Archive for the ‘death’ Category

Ninety-one years. I’m sorry you didn’t get to celebrate today with those who love you most.

You are terribly missed and frequently thought of. The love you shared with me and all of your beloved family members will never be replaced, but I’ll always remember you for your kind words, thoughtfulness, huge heart and ability to make me forget about my troubles.

Because of you, I better appreciate the little things in life. A tasty meal that I cooked and shared…the smell of fresh-cut grass in the spring…a first snowfall. You taught me to pay attention to the things right in front of me and for that I’m eternally grateful. I’m a better man because of you.

So Happy Birthday, Mom. Know that you’re loved more than ever.

-end-

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It’s an upward spiral that seemingly will not end any time soon.

I’m talking about the cost of health insurance and specifically the cost that you and I – Joe and Jane consumer – get to bear to have adequate health plans that take care of our families.

In this Wall Street Journal story, reporter Avery Johnson notes that the costs employees are expected to kick in to get health insurance through their employers continues to increase – at an alarming rate.

Knock on wood, I’ve generally been a healthy individual throughout my entire life. No broken bones. No chronic conditions. No major hospitalizations, save for a three-day stint of pneumonia that put me in a hospital bed in 2005. I didn’t like it. I’ve not gone back.

My two teenage kids and beautiful wife are also healthy people. So when we open-enroll for health insurance each October/November, it’s usually a fairly quick discussion and selection of the health care plan that includes a higher than average deductible and lower monthly premiums.

Pretty easy until now, that is.

Seems crossing the 45-year-old threshold has me thinking more about health costs as well as retirement planning (which needs to include saving for health care expenses needed after I end my career as a wage earner).

For the past several years I’ve worked in the health care industry. First for the world’s largest medical device manufacturer and now for the world’s largest health plan insurer. My eyes are open to the ways of health plan coverage and the costs associated with them. I’ve developed strong opinions on the use of medical technology to prolong life.

And as health care reform goes into the implementation stage during the next several years, I hope the very industry I work in gets smart at finding ways to help individuals manage their own care intelligently.

  • A focus on health and wellness early in life.
  • Assistance with the obesity epidemic in a way that makes sense (personal health coaches are already being offered through many work plans, but at a cost to everyone not just those who are affected).
  • Common sense approaches (and cost savings) for families and individuals who are above average on the health front and take the necessary measures to stay healthy.

By putting the onus on individuals to adopt healthier lifestyles, stay healthy and make smart health care decisions, Americans should be able to get the care they need when they need it at a cost that is affordable. Sounds so simple, but my gut tells me we remain a long, long, long way away from making that a reality in our country.

As with any major change, it happens in small steps. We first must get everyone pointed in the same direction before the big flywheel will start to turn (aka Jim Collins, “Good to Great).  This happens through various agents including our own federal government launching new laws and programs. But people, we can’t rely on the government to make the change for us.

In the end, our health and well being is up to each of us. Truly. We own it. And if we expect to have access to the best health care in the world, then we better start taking care of ourselves.

-end-

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I am going to tell you a story about a woman who lived her life striving to give what she had to those closest to her – unselfishly and without regard to her own needs. This is a story about each one of us as well.

The story begins — and ends — in Southern, Illinois, where, in 1910, Charles Snedecor married Lena Yates, and began to grow a family. They included Earl, and Phillip, and Mary, and Esther, and Chuck, and Wilma, and Louise, and Dorothy, and Kenneth.

Mary Elizabeth, my Mom, was born in 1919. Her family didn’t have much for material goods, but they had each other and they shared a lot of faith. That faith helped the Snedecor clan get through many events during their lives.  Mom quit school after the eighth grade to care for and help support her family during the Great Depression. She did laundry, cleaned houses and cared for her younger siblings. Then, as a young woman, she moved to Detroit and became a factory worker.

Mom survived the Depression, making ends meet during World War II, and raising two children.  She returned to her roots and her family in Southern Illinois in 1985 because this was the place she was suppose to be – near her family. I was with mom on her birthday about four years ago and Aunt Esther said something so profound as we sat and had lunch together.  After talking about how the Snedecor brothers and sisters migrated from Southern Illinois to Northeast Indiana and finally “back home,” Aunt Esther said, “Brother, let me tell you something.  We Snedecors sure know how to stick together.”

This stickiness lived in my Mom as well. In the ’80s she came to West Frankfort – and to the family she loved – so she could give something back to them. So she could care for them as they lived their golden years of life. And she gave all she had. Through her sheet cakes and refrigerator pickles, through her hugs and her tears, mom spent nearly 25 years giving what little she did have in very big ways – through her love.

She did for others because she could.

And when she faltered, when she couldn’t do the things she knew to do to show her love, it hurt her deeply – she didn’t want to give these things up. And she didn’t give them up easily. Her good deeds gave her significance. Each of you here today were significant in mom’s life.

Throughout my childhood, mom made sure I knew who my immediate family members were. I remember the Saturday morning phone calls she shared with Grandma Snedecor. They would reminisce, pray and plan to see each other. That copper telephone wire kept Mom connected to her family more than 700 miles away. And because they were so important to her, the aunts and uncles and cousins became important to me. They were – YOU are – my family, too. The trips we took to Eldorado, Spillertown, Hammond and Gary — and later Ashley and West Frankfort – left me with many wonderful memories. When mom left Iowa, she and I launched our own weekend phone call ritual.

Hers is fondly called, “The Greatest Generation” because of the great obstacles they lived through. And mom met head on many difficulties in life, but her meaning and joy for hard work, faith in God, and love for family stood strong. There have been many values that connected mom and me as I continue to work my way through life. Most importantly, I learned from her that when you give of yourself you have far less to worry about than if you only think of yourself.

She instilled a sense of pride in me. Pride, from a little woman who scrubbed apartment room floors on her hands and knees until her fingers were raw. Pride in giving of herself to those she loved – family and friends – even when she had very little. These are the values of a woman, a mother, a sister, a friend, an aunt, and a grandma who faced catastrophes in her life and stayed resolved to live a better day. She did her best for her children. She taught me well. She helped me understand the important lessons of love and family.

Of course, this is a story we sons and daughters know from personal experience. We share this story and we share the values passed on by our moms and dads. Look around the room today, or at a Snedecor reunion and it is obvious what we share. Look and you will see people who look like Aunt Esther, but aren’t Esther; people who sound like Uncle Chuck, but aren’t Chuck; people who quietly inspired us like Aunt Wilma, but they aren’t Wilma; people who tell stories like Aunt Dorothy, but aren’t Dorothy; people who grin ear to ear like Uncle Phil and joke like Uncle Earl.

I’m most proud of the Snedecor family because they shared their notions of right and wrong, and good and bad, and faith in the future and in church and in family.

And we also share their stories in life.  Each of those who have passed before us have lived storied, if not humble lives.  As their descendants, we’ve heard these stories many times. It’s these stories that assure us of who they were in life and what they stood for. It’s these stories that, today, along with all of you – my family – that comfort me.

So let me end with a quote by Harold Kushner…Rabbi Laureate of the Temple of Israel.

Kushner says…“If life is a story, we can wish it would go on forever, but we understand that even the best of stories have to end.  It would be a strange story if it did go on forever.  So instead of grieving that it had to end, let’s feel blessed that we were lucky enough to have been a part of it.”

-end-

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My Dad marched to the beat of his own drum. He set his own standards, and while they changed through my childhood years, the bar and his expectations were always higher than I was tall.

rhg-wwiiDad was a product of a rough and tumble father and a mother who only knew how to love and care for others – no matter what. I guess his lack of emotion, his inability to truly display love, only became evident in hindsight – because as a kid, even when he failed to properly parent, I felt loved.

We didn’t spend a lot of time playing ball in the backyard, because Dad owned a small business and put in long hours. So instead, I often biked to Dad’s shop and swept or cleaned the work benches until he was ready to lock up – usually after Mom’s third or fourth phone call. On the way out of the shop door, he’d drop a dime in the pop machine and hand me an Orange Crush Soda for the short ride home.

My best Dad memories, though, involve the after-hours deliveries we’d make on warm summer evenings. Dad sold outdoor equipment and he would drive within a 100-mile radius to deliver a lawn tractor to a good customer. I’d help unload the equipment off the trailer and he would demo the machine, chatting up the new owner while I kicked at the stones eager to head back home.

We’d climb back into the red Dodge van he drove (purchased the year I was born) and he would steer us down Northwest Iowa county blacktops – back to Spencer. At five or six years old, I marveled at how many people knew my Dad as we made these trips together. I’d see a car or truck approaching us and nearly every single time, the driver in the oncoming car would wave – and Dad waved back.

“Who was that?” I’d ask him eagerly.

“I couldn’t quite make out the face,” Dad would say with a grin. Or, he’d say, “I think that was Jim from the hardware store,” or he would make up the names of other people he knew, completely BS-ing me.

Eventually, it dawned on me that we were out in the country and these other drivers were just being friendly, waving as they passed every car they met. But for a few years, at least, I believed Dad was the best-known man in the state of Iowa – or at least our corner of the state. He was my well-connected Dad and I was proud of him.

Dad died on Sunday and he’ll be buried back in my hometown today. We rarely spoke these past couple decades. Distance created distance and days lapsed into years.

But I’ll call upon the best memories I have of him. And if there’s a Heaven, I know my Dad has been greeted by the hundreds who waved at him on those summer evenings when it was just the two of us on the road.

-end-

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CNN is reporting that actor Heath Ledger died from an accidental overdose of prescription drugs. At least that’s what the official New York City medical examiner’s report apparently states.

Accidental overdose.

I could understand an accidental overdose if a three-year-old got his hands on mommy’s diazepam (valium). But how does a 28-year-old, educated man accidentally overdose himself? Perhaps Ledger was a sleepwalker and double or triple-dosed himself without even knowing it. Or maybe there’s more to the story – a conspiracy of the magnitude that still surrounds Marilyn Monroe.

Ooops. I accidentally poured myself another cup of coffee. Call 911.

And as if that’s not a plausible cause for a Hollywood celeb’s death, Mommy Spears is now claiming that her daughter, Britney, has been “controlled” by drugs dispensed by Brit’s manager, Sam Lutfi.  Sam, allegedly, ground up pills and mixed the concoctions into Britney’s food.

The combination of prescription drugs that Britney Spears’ mother claims were ground up in the singer’s food was a risky mix that could cause hysterical outbursts, agitation, creepy hallucinations, even a stroke, medical experts told ABCNEWS.com.

Creepy.

I’m not a fan of Britney Spears, never have been, but if this starlet’s business manager was truly doping her as a way to control her situation, he should be sent to Quantico, jailed and tortured with the members of the Taliban that military forces have managed to capture.

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Whatcha Worth…Dead?

I’ve never thought much about what my body might be worth once I’m dead. In fact, my master plan is a quick cremation coupled with explicit instructions for where the kids can take my ashes and sprinkle them (currently there’s a bike path not far from my home that crosses a nice marsh where I’d be comfortable).

The unsettling news is that I’m only worth a whopping $4,125 dead.

Take the Cadaver Calculator quiz by cliking this link and get your own valuation, if you dare!

Bwaaahahahahaha.

-end-

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‘Tis The Season

Merry Christmas. Today in Minneapolis two more families lives are wrecked because of some senselessness. Oh, it’s gonna be a Christmas to remember thanks to someone who got behind the wheel after drinking too much.

I drink from time to time. I also ride bike. And when I read something tragic, like a fellow cyclist getting struck by a car, I say a little prayer. I’ve never experienced a close brush with a motor vehicle while biking.

But on Tuesday night on the streets of Minneapolis, a drunk driver hit a bicyclist and kept on driving while he was stuck to the undercarriage of the car. She drove at 9:30 at night, without headlights and then crashed into another vehicle before the police could stop her.

This morning, the cyclist is dead (although the local paper hasn’t confirmed that at the time I’m posting this). And a 41-year-old woman is going to jail for killing a person while driving drunk.
Such a waste.

Here’s part of the story from the Minneapolis Star Tribune:

A woman who police say hit a bicyclist Tuesday night in northeast Minneapolis was due in court this morning to face charges of drunken driving and criminal vehicular operation. And charges could escalate if the bicyclist dies.

Edward Joseph Gorecki, 51, was on his bicycle about 9:30 p.m. Monday at the intersection of NE. Quincy and Broadway streets in Minneapolis when he was hit by a vehicle driven by a 41-year-old woman. He suffered severe head injuries and was taken to Hennepin County Medical Center.

His condition Wednesday morning was not immediately known, though Gorecki was in critical condition Tuesday with head injuries,  and a hospital spokeswoman said today he was no longer a patient there. At least two Twin Cities TV station reported that Gorecki died Tuesday evening, but neither Minneapolis Police nor the Hennepin County Medical Examiner were able to confirm that Wednesday morning.

According to police: The woman was driving without lights when she hit Gorecki. She did not stop at the scene, and dragged the bicycle 1½ blocks. She then hit another car at Broadway and NE. 2nd Street before officers could pull her over at 18th and Fremont Ave. N.

To all my blog friends and readers, have fun this Christmas season. Enjoy the spirit of the holiday. Drink if you’re into that sort of thing. But damn it, don’t drive drunk. Don’t be doling out misery to some other family just because you think you’re a smart fuck who isn’t “too drunk to drive.”

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