Sunday, March 24, 2013

My Sister's Passing

I have noticed something recently. My beloved sister Carol passed away last week. For some reason I don't feel bad. I mean I do not feel overwhelmed with emotion, sad to the point I cannot stop thinking about her, or walking around dwelling on her being gone from my life. Some of this can be hidden. It was ten years after my mother passed in 1971 that I awoke in the middle of the night dissolved in tears and was comforted by my wife over how much I missed her. Over the years I have come to realize that death is a part of life and that it serves as a reminder on how to treat people. Anger is an emotion that passes and time and talk can resolve. But to carry anger or hatred for a person all of our life stains our life and makes the colors less bright.

I'm not angry at my sister. I love her very much. Which is another thing I've come to realize and mean to correct. When someone passes I've heard people say I loved him or her so much. My sister is gone, I love her. I don't love her memory, I have memories, but I love her. I love my Dad, I love my Mom, they have all been dead for some time. My love for them will die when I die, not when they die.

Yet I remain puzzled, my surface feeling is peace and wonderment that such a fine person could be removed from our midst and no momentous event of nature took place. No gathering of clouds, no shaking of the earth, no rattling of the wind, just a passing of a shadow that will remain forever in the minds of those who knew and love her.

I have also come to learn that greatness is not solely for the great. The attributes that make people great often spring from those who simply go about their lives caring for people, standing for principles, and trying to make a difference. That difference can be large or small and the impact can also be large or small. It isn't a measure of greatness that large numbers were effected, but that the effort was successful at all. My sister Carol was active in her community, had circles of good friends, had a boundless sense of humor and loved to laugh. Sure there were a lot of things that made her angry, and she became upset with family members from time to time, but it never lasted. She had a good perspective on life and lived it to its fullest measure. Even days before she passed she made her famous Strawberry/Rhubarb pie for her daughter and her partner. Then she made a choice of how she wanted it to end. Her end came peacefully, her children were with her, she was comfortable and knew the deep love of family before she went. It was almost as though she charged up to the door, stopped and went through of her own accord. 

I will miss her. She meant a lot to me personally. When I was going through a medical challenge a few years ago I talked with her daily. She never objected, she told me of her situation with cancer in 2001 and her recovery, she shared intimate stories of her recovery with me to help me understand my own situation. She and I were close. One day a few years ago she and I took a trip to Traunik, MI. to the Mikullich family home. Our family and their family are linked by my brother's marriage to Gladys, or Micky one of the children. We marveled at the size of the upstairs home above the old store. We wondered what it must've been like to raise such a large family in such a small area. It was a bright, sunny blue sky kind of day that makes being out and about in the U.P. so special. We had such a fine time, just the two of us. It was a great day.

The picture is of me, Tom, Carol, and Phyl.

So now there are two, my sister Phyl and I. Phyl is 86, I am 68. The odds are I will be the last. However, I feel no weight to carry on anything, my Mom and Dad and siblings have done all the heavy lifting. I will enjoy their fruits and live my life hoping that when I face that door I have enough grace and class to pass through as Carol did.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Moral dilemmas.

When I was young I used to day dream of hunting. I used to dream of bringing wild game home and feeding my family. Rabbit stew, squirrel stew, venison steak, liver, partridge, pheasant all made up the menu. I've killed rabbits, squirrel partridge and pheasant. I've never killed a deer even though I've filled the air with lead. I have eaten a fair about of venison though. That has not bothered me from a moral standpoint killing to gain food. After all, isn't that the instinct of all species, survival. Some are prey, some are predators, but the food chain is vast and varied.

Cattle bother me. I've seen pictures of abused cattle being prodded with electrical shock sticks, hung by their feet and whisked down a overhead conveyor while still alive. Disheartening treatment by the superior predator, Man!

We live close to a butcher. He has his own herd, he slaughters calves mostly and has been doing so for years. As my wife and I travel back and forth I've seen him down a beast and cut it throat in the holding pen that is along side the road we travel. Terry came home one day to meet the man with a carcass slung from the front end loader taking it to the shop for processing. The holding pen isn't bad, it gets muddy when it rains but there is shelter, water and feed. He does not seem to mistreat his cattle. In my mind though it is death row. There is only one way out for those cattle waiting there and that is hanging on the end of a front end loader.

I have talked about buying meat from the man for some time but Terry has it in her mind what happens to his cows and considers him a murderer. I must admit I find it rather tough to look at the young cattle in the holding pen. Yesterday when I rode by the man was out by the fence doing something when a young bull kicked up its heels and joyfully jumped towards the man. Kind of like, "you want to play?" He paid no attention to the steer, and I don't blame him, you certainly cannot get attached to your inventory that way. But it made me feel sad. I kept thinking the beast does not know what awaits him, or does he? I hope not, I hope God has made that species to live only in the moment and not have the ability to contemplate the future. 

I got some raw bones from the man a few weeks ago and the dogs enjoyed them immensely. From time to time I thought, have I seen the steer whose bones you are gnawing on? However, they are deriving great pleasure, the dogs that is, and certainly good nourishment. But, I still can't help but feel guilty and sad. That's life, no one has ever said it is fair or just. Plus, I've talked with the man, he is a friendly nice man. Probably one I would enjoy knowing. It is a quandary I have no answer for.