The long life of a flower

Susan's family

Recently, my good friend Sue Mathias’s mother, passed away. My wife and I traveled to Maryland with our friends to attend the funeral and pay our respects to Susan and her family. Although I never met the deceased, I felt as if I knew her from Susan, who often spoke of her with deep love and respect. Although these are sad events when we lose a loved one, it forces us to look at our own lives and wonder what life is all about.
In the spring I marvel at the beautiful flowers that force their way up from the cold, hard, once frozen ground. I have often wondered if the flower realizes how little time it has in this world. It breaks through the soil, reaches for the sun transforming into a spectacular show of natures power. At this point in time it summons all its energy and creates a symbol of life that takes our breath away every spring, a flower! To my eyes the flower would seem to have a short spectacular existence, but in nature’s eyes, it is a life time. Our lives are much like the flowers, we fight our way into the world, we grow into adults and then we hopefully spread some good-will through the world. After a relatively short time on earth, we pass away, just like the flower.
I have often said that I have enjoyed a wonderful life, full of adventure, love, friendship, challenges and family. Each year that I am given is a gift that I relish. Like everyone, I wish that I could live forever, but that is not the nature of life. Like all things it has a beginning and an end. Sue will miss her mother from now until her own time ends, but she can be thankful for all the wonderful times and the memories her mother gave her. From my humble point of view, her mother lived the long life of a flower.

A hero of mine, a continuing saga


Below is the Blog I wrote several years ago about a friend of mine, Art Mills. It seems Art is up to his old tricks, defying death. If you did not read this previous blog, than you should, followed by Art’s new adventure in staying alive.
The older I get the more heroes I meet. These folks are not supermen, or have been bitten by a spider and can weave webs with their hands, but their presence and deeds tell me that they are real heroes. Every time I walk down the sidewalk or visit the mall I walk past them with no idea of the heroic deeds they may have accomplished. As I have crept up the aging scale, I have made it a point to try and notice these heroes in my daily life. Being a hero does not only mean pulling a drowning person from an icy lake or running several miles to save someone’s life. It can be a personal battle to save ones own life.
This is the case in my new friend, Art.
You may have noticed Art’s name on earlier blogs with my triathlon group. He is a former IBM employee who, without a college degree, made his way to engineer, with hard work, smarts and determination. He gave his all for 30 years and then decided to retire and move to Slaneville WV, near his family. After a brief time as a retiree his earlier stressful, non-healthy life began to show its ugly side. Art had all the classic American ailments, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, blocked arteries, liver issues and general poor physical condition.
Then in 2007 he had a heart attack and in his words, “I should not be here”. Well Art is still here and last night I watched him swim a quarter mile in the pool as we all swam for the last time before our triathlon on Saturday. Over the last several months I have biked with him, run with him and swam with him and in his face is a determination that is unmatched.
Yes, Art is an inspiration to us all. The same determination that allowed him to buck the odds and move up in IBM is now being channeled towards a healthy life. I have always said that we teach by example…maybe we can be heroes by example also.
Art, I have only known you for two months and you are one of my heroes!
Your new friend Charlie.

So now we move on to Arts latest fight. About four months ago, I stopped by to visit Art in his new home. Art found a soul mate, his new wife Kristy, and together they decided to build a house, not pay someone to build a house, but build it with their own hands. After many setbacks and long hours of work they finished their home and moved in. When I stopped by to see Art, he was complaining of a severe headache. Based on what he was saying, I suggested he might see a doctor if it did not improve soon. Well, a day or two later, Art went to the hospital in terrible shape. This is where I lost contact and was unable to find anyone with relevant information about Arts situation. I finally stopped by his house and left a phone number and email for his wife to pick up and respond with. When she emailed me with the news, it was not good. Art had somehow contracted a birds virus in his blood. There was a real strong chance that Art was going to die! At one point Art’s heart stopped and the hospital incorrectly decided that he was a DNR (Do not resuscitate). Kristy quickly informed them that he was not a DNR and they better not let him die! The prognosis from the doctors was grim, and his recovery looked less and less likely. Kristy insisted that he was going to pull through this and never quit believing in Art’s will to live. Finally she found a doctor who shared her belief and from that point, Art started a long climb to recovery. Yesterday I saw Art for the first time at the Hampshire Wellness center pumping away on an exercise bike. He did it again, defying the odds and is slowly making his way back. Hats off to Art for showing us all what true perseverance is! Hats off to all the folks who fight the odds and WIN!
Thank you Art!

Time to come home

After almost nine weeks in the warm state of Florida, it is time for Sue and I to return to our home in Hampshire County, West Virginia. We managed to miss much of the horrible winter weather that plagued the eastern part of our country. Despite the fact that I have thought of many clever things to write about while being down here, honestly I have been too lazy to sit down and write them. Do not fret, I will be back on track before you know it and you can log on to my site and waste as much time as you wish. Thank goodness it’s spring!!!!!!