An old man’s father

MY FATHER WAS born in 1915, two years before the United States entered World War I.

I was born 29 years later in the penultimate year of World War II. Hitler, Mussolini and Tojo were still walking the Earth.

My father and I were very much alike, the good and the bad. He was a newspaperman. Me too. I probably wouldn’t have been one had he not blazed that trail. I wonder what I would have chosen otherwise — or what would have chosen me, more likely.

I never heard him call himself a journalist even though he had a journalism degree. I’ve never called myself a journalist either. I’ve never even taken a journalism course.

My former coworkers used to say, “And it shows.” Hilarious.

I consider the term journalist pompous.

He was 6′, 3″ tall, and so was I. I’m probably not anymore. They say you shrink a bit in time, and I’ve not measured myself in decades. But I’m still probably taller than you. He was a good-looking guy, and so was I, something that gives you a leg up in life.

I’m still not chopped liver in the geriatric category.

dad
Him

We both retired early. He got out at 49 due to an inheritance. I fled at 55 because I was eligible and also because some of that inheritance had dripped down to me. My maternal great-grandfather, a very successful farmer named Dard Moree, owned a huge chunk of Worth County, Georgia, at one time.

My grandmother remembered Dard paying the field hands from a travel trunk stuffed with cash.

My father wanted to be a writer all his life. I never did, though I discovered I had talent after I retired. He was very good but too painstaking. After he got out of the Army in 1945, instead of returning to newspapering, he moved the family to my mother’s parents’ farm in Southwest Georgia, near a town called Sylvester.

He constructed a small writing room apart from the main house and started typing short stories for the pulp magazines that were very popular in those days before television distracted everyone. Simultaneously, he became a chicken farmer.

But neither the writing nor the poultry panned out and, by 1951, he was back in the newspaper business down in Florida where we relocated.

When he retired at 49, he and my mother moved back to the farm in Southwest Georgia because it was theirs by then. He started writing again, but poetry, not prose. He was very good. He finally focused on haiku, and became quite “famous” in the small haiku world. Two of his slim books are listed on Amazon, one for the incredible price of $58.

I too have a better than average skill at prose. I’m lousy at poetry. I’ve never published anything on paper, just online. My favorite is Dark Girl in the Blue Dress.

Where my father sweated the proverbial bullets over his writing, I never did. It seemed to flow out seamlessly when the inspiration hit, and it almost always struck me as I awoke at dawn, the ideas. My scant writing career took place during the decade of my 60s, nothing before or after. I don’t know why. The Muse was born late and then she died.

My father drank too much, but he quit in his mid-50s. I also drank too much, and I also quit in my mid-50s. FYI: Life improves spectacularly when you stop boozing.

In the 1980s, my sister once shared a joint with him, but he loathed it, and never did it again. I, on the other hand, am quite fond of mind-altering substances.

We were never close. I didn’t like him much though others did.

He died suddenly at age 75 in 1991. And I turn 75 next month.

Getting a hose up my butt

MY FATHER HAD colon cancer. He didn’t die of it. A heart attack carried him into the ethers at age 75 back in 1991.

He was in a hospital in Atlanta getting his five-year, remission checkup when he was on the verge of being discharged, cancer-free, just lying in a bed. Bam! Dead. Heart attack.

It’s a good way to go, far better than cancer. But he was only two years older than I am right now. His cancer was found at age 70 via a colonoscopy.

All of which is to say that I have a very close family tie to colon cancer. The medical community therefore recommends that I get colonoscopies on a regular basis. I do not do that. They are unpleasant tests, and I tend to dodge unpleasantries when possible.

This is shortsighted and stupid, of course.

My first colonoscopy took place in Houston in 1997. After I moved to Mexico in 2000, I heard that colonoscopies are done here under full anesthetic, the kind you get with major surgery. Nah, I said to myself.

Instead around 2005, I got a barium enema, which has a reputation of being very unpleasant. It’s no fun, but it’s not horrible either. It’s a good scan of the colon, but it lacks the thoroughness of a colonoscopy.

I was polyp-free. In 2011, I did it again. Polyp-free.

New ImageRecently, I noticed some odd sensations in the nether regions, so I thought maybe I should get another checkup, especially since life was going so well, and I was hesitant to wave bye-bye.

I found a gastro surgeon in the capital city by pure happenstance, which is to say I grabbed a business card from a counter at a hospital. I emailed him, and he answered right back. I told him I would prefer not to have a full anesthetic, so he gave me what I had received in Houston. It’s called “conscious sedation.”*

I did it yesterday. The procedure was done in a small operating room in a huge, new facility called Hospital Victoria. In attendance were a nurse, the gastro surgeon,** an anestheologist in a “Fly Emirates” T-shirt, and the gastro surgeon’s very sharp son, 11,*** who acted as a go-fer.

The anesthetic was not like I remembered it 20 years ago. It immediately shot me into a bizarre world of chaos and colors. It seemed like I was there 30 seconds, but it actually was about half an hour. I came out of it quickly, and my concerned child bride was standing at my side.

I am still polyp-free, but the doc did encounter what was causing the above-mentioned sensations. I return next week to see what can be done about that. With luck, it will be non-surgical.

Amazingly, the full tab for everything, including the crap you have to drink the previous night to flush your gut, was the peso equivalent of about $400 U.S.

I even received a color DVD of the hose’s full journey up my backside and back again. I have not watched it yet, and likely never will.

I paid cash, as I have done with all medical expenses since moving over the Rio Bravo. I am not in the clutches of ObamaCare.

Or Medicare either, for that matter.

Aging is no fun, but what can you do?

* * * *

* Why it’s called that is beyond me. I was not conscious at all, but you do come out of it very quickly and with little hangover.

* * Dr. Angel Arroyo, Office 1005, Hospital Victoria.

*** How many doctors take their sons to work in the United States?  They’d likely lose their licenses.

Barry & Bill

TODAY’S TOPIC is two guys who are totally different.

Barry Hussein Obama of the Oval Office and Bill O’Reilly of Fox News. In most areas, I oppose the former and support the latter. But there are exceptions, which is why I am not a textbook conservative.

barryLet’s look first at Cuba. Barry is tearing down the wall between America and Cuba. Yes, Barry blinked first, and that’s a good thing because the shunning of Cuba has gone on far too long.

It can be argued that the Castro regime would have collapsed by now were it not for the U.S. embargo, which endured so long due to the Cuban expats in Florida, a state with lots of heft in the Electoral College.

True, Barry got little from the Castros in return for blinking, but no matter. Someone had to blink. I salute Barry for that. As have almost all the former dictatorships in Latin America, Cuba will liberalize, but in a positive way.

First, the Castro boys have to die, and that won’t be a long time coming.

Barry just did another good thing. He is freeing 46 imprisoned felons, most incarcerated for drug crimes, some for life, because they were nonviolent offenders. Most, I’m assuming, are black, which is why, of course, Barry is taking the action. It’s a race thing for him. Be assured.

The War on Drugs, started in the Nixon Administration, is a total failure, creating far more problems than it solves, and that’s assuming it solves any problems whatsoever, which I doubt. Any 12-year-old who wants drugs can get them easily today on the streets of America.

Outlawing anything that people really want  will invariably create a crime wave and violence. It happened during the Prohibition of the 1920s — the War on Booze, a perfect analogy to the War on Drugs.

You cannot outlaw sex, chocolate, cigarettes, booze or drugs, and only a nation with a Puritanical streak would even attempt it. It is dumb.

Try to restrict it to adults, tax it brutally, whatever, but if you attempt to eliminate it, you will come to utter grief.

billSo hurrah to Barry for liberating some drug dealers, especially those with life sentences. O’Reilly thinks this is a bad idea.

He supports the War on Drugs. He cites reasons that could equally apply to another War on Booze. There is not a single thing you can say against drug addicts that you can not equally state against alcoholics.

Wrecked families, careers, violence, crime, rest equally in the grip of alcoholism as they do in the embrace of drug addiction. Both are grave problems, but most people drink responsibly and — and you may not believe this — many, probably most, people use drugs responsibly.

So Barry has freed some non-violent drug dealers who should not have been imprisoned in the first place, certainly not for life, and he’s cracked the wall between the United States and Communist Cuba, proving he’s not a complete, brain-dead doofus.

And I don’t know how O’Reilly feels about the opening to Cuba.

He is almost certainly against it. An error.

Downside of diversity, Part II

AS PART OF The Unseen Moon’s occasional public service, and as a followup to yesterday’s post on the Downside of Diversity, here is an educational video by Chris Rock.

Yes, there is potty talk involved, and The Moon prefers to maintain its G rating at all times, but sometimes colorful speech is necessary to make a powerful point. If only Michael Brown had watched this video, and taken it to heart, perhaps he would not be lying dead on a cold marble slab today, or wherever he is.

We can easily connect Brown’s fatal encounter with the police to cultural differences. Brown’s culture was of the ghetto, a culture of constant, perceived victimization and, especially among the young, in-your-face defiance. The police officer’s culture of law, order and personal responsibility was another thing entirely.

This is dedicated to Swisher Sweets fans everywhere.