We’ve spent way too much time in funeral homes and cemeteries lately. I know it’s a part of the cycle of life, but it seems like every time I pick up the phone these days, I hear another one of those awful messages that starts with: “I’m so sorry…”
This time we put a favorite older cousin into the ground. He was the inspiration for three articles that appeared here on Kerrian’s Notebook last year about the use of firearms – their care and the training needed to maintain safety and competency levels. Any time I wrote an article about firearms, he checked the details for accuracy, then would send me a ‘thumbs-up’ email. He didn’t have a large collection by enthusiast standards – only a half dozen rifles and handguns – but he knew a great deal about the history of each and enjoyed them all at one time or another during his weekly visits to his gun club.
He had been a paratrooper, a sailor, an aerospace engineer, a furniture maker, and most important of all, a churchgoer and a family man.
He died of cancer, but was not a young man – an octogenarian when he succumbed. He chose to fight and live his life fully, right up until the docs admittedly gave him an overdose of meds. And even after that, he went out to lunch and dinner all the time, held court at the local breakfast place every morning and was at the shooting range two weeks before he died. He was chalky pale, but as long as he was able to walk, he was learning how to reload bullets, checking new sources for unusual wood, attending the latest antique car show, chatting with friends he made along the road of life.
Now you might wonder: “80? He probably died of old age.” Nope. In our family, 80 is the age when you admit you’re on Social Security and start talking about retirement. He had been driving for a trucking company up until his birthday in December. They wanted him to stay on, but he said that it was time to slow down a bit. Most of my side of the family lives into our 90s, so I was in denial about my Cuz being that sick.
We still wonder if administering the extra meds was a calculated risk or a really bad choice made by the doc. We know that his intention was not to harm, but to help. But, it was the wrong choice. Not like the slip of a knife during a surgery, or the wrong kind of anesthesia that would cause someone to die on the table, but lethal in the end.
How often does this happen? Medical malpractice and honest mistakes are different in the eyes of the law and insurance companies. At this point in the post, I might normally give you statistics and information that you could use in an article of your own, and Cuz would love that he got to appear in Kerrian’s Notebook once again, even if behind the scenes.
But, today? I’d simply like to salute a guy who lived a life that many would envy, happy until the end. We will miss him.
I was taking the recycles out to the bin and my leg went through one of the planks in the deck. Nothing was damaged except the plank. Well, maybe a scrape on my shin, but not much else. This was the second plank I had gone through – and replaced – in a week, so it was time to get the whole deck redone.
Normally I would replace the thing myself, but my doc said no heavy lifting while I was finishing up the rehab. So I got my former construction partner on the line and gave him the job. He owed me a favor so we agreed on parts + a percentage for labor. Basically I paid for the lumber and the salary for his helper for the day. He would not agree to my paying him for his own labor, but I twisted his arm with the promise of having his family over for a couple of barbecues once the deck was finished.
Sheila and I have had a snake problem under the deck ever since we built the raised garden beds surrounding it. We inadvertently blocked off any runoff and the critters soon had their own swampy little place to live, full of food, shelter and water. They’ve been happy, but us? Not so much.
Since Todd was pulling out all the boards, it was the perfect time to level the ground below, then dig a small drainage trench about three inches wide at the edge so that the accidental pond could empty. After the water ran off, the sun dried out the exposed dirt and for the first time in a couple of years, the frogs/toads were off to greener, damper grassland.
The next step was to put a layer of small stones on top of the leveled dirt. That definitely changed the animal habitat. Without the artificial pond, and no food source that we could see, we hoped that the snakes would be gone as well. Foolishly, we didn’t have all the facts, but that’s for another story.
As I watched Todd and his helper work, I got to thinking that the mini pond wasn’t deep enough to hide a body. The unbelievably rank smell of a corpse rotting in the summer would have been a dead giveaway if I had one lying around, but now there was gravel… and digging….
If I was inclined to do this deck myself, nobody could see me in back of the house and passersby would think nothing of shovels and lumber and gravel and even cement coming in and out of the yard. And Bingo! Hiding place for the body. Who would notice a bag or two of quicklime? The neighbors would be none the wiser.
Hmmm…come to think of it….Milly’s husband has been away on a business trip for a really long time and they have a new patio and a new deck and new, high, lush landscaping around it all. Just kidding. Maybe.
If you think nobody would really do that, take a look at these recent stories in the news.
In April, 2014:
and, in May, 2015:
As for us? We’re both healthy and enjoying the new deck. 🙂
*Photos by Patti Phillips