Friday, May 18, 2018

Depression Update

In a continuing examination of my mental illness, I periodically try to make sense of my experience. It's my goal to share with others who might be experiencing similar things in order to support and comfort them. I am not interested in drawing attention to myself, except as just one of a million stories of mental illness. 

In case you need to catch up, here's my life in brief: I have had severe depression since my teens, if not before. It manifested in rage and anger, so I seemed to many who dealt with me to be an arrogant, snotty, angry, rebellious teenager. Mostly I just hated myself. Back in the 70s, in a small midwestern town, getting mental health care was fraught with stigma, and I wouldn't have known to ask for it anyway. In the 80s, I got married and started working. I was a mess inside, but trying super hard to hold it together on the outside, not always successfully. In 1989 I had my first child. 

Motherhood is hard enough, but so much harder when you have a mental illness. I had no time to focus on myself and my needs. Two  more children came along. The thing that saved me during this time was breastfeeding. As odd as that may sound, the hormones released when you nurse a child are calming and create feelings of well-being. I am convinced that if I had not breastfed my kids, I would have probably gone to a mental hospital. I was not at my best during those years, but the hormones helped. 

However, that didn't last forever. I reverted to my tactics of presenting a good mask to the world, while inside I was dying. Rage and anger were frequent. 

Finally, I reached a breaking point. I was in a deep, dark hole that only got deeper and darker. I was never going to get out. My husband, who was one of the few people who knew the true me and who never wavered in his support, suggested I seek out help and medication. (Until this point, I had a strong bias against the medical world, and a very strong bias against meds.) I started antidepressants and therapy. It was a rocky road, but it helped. 

That was about 15 years ago. Since then, I have been on meds continuously, went through years of therapy with a very kind and wonderful counselsor. I have an excellent psych nurse who has monitored me and guided me through this medical maze. If you are so inclined, you can read about those years in other posts on this blog. 

So here I am now. My psych nurse last year informed me that I am her most stable patient and she only needed to see me every six months. At one appointment she brought up the idea of potentially weaning off meds to see how I would do. I immediately squelched that idea. The mere thought returning to my darkness scared the shit out of me. 

Since then, I have taken a good hard look at where I am. In these 15 years, I have learned a lot about self care. I have learned where my limitations are and when I need to step off the runaway train of modern life to take a breath. I have supplemented with nutrients that help support my mental health and observed how much I need constant outdoor exposure to be well. In short, I have been able to put my own needs first. This is a hard thing. 

I realized recently that I have made friends with my depression. Sounds weird, but it's true. Depression has given me a lot of personal insight and growth. It's helped me have compassion for others, to have compassion for myself. It's strengthened me like nothing else. I have had to learn to accept things about myself. It's connected me with others. And, although I'm still working on this, depression has taught me how to strip off the mask and be authentic with everyone, especially myself. 

So I am ready for this step I'm now taking. With my psych nurse's blessing, I am weaning off my meds. It's scary to say. It's only been a few days. I don't know what lies ahead. It may not work for me. I have often said during these 15 years that if I have to take meds forever, I will. And I stand by that. However, in taking care of myself, I have a sense that now is the time for me to work with my mental illness in a different way, a way of not being in crisis, but in cohesion. I have no doubt that there will be ups and downs. I am stronger now and I hope I will be able to weather the downs. I have better support now, and the stigma in society is less than it was 40 years ago. 

I am not suggesting that anyone else should try this. I can't speak for others. And if you want to try, make sure to do it with medical supervision. I am not going cold turkey. I am going extremely slowly, so it may take more than a year before I am off entirely. (I was on such a high dose that I can cut by tens or twenties of milligrams and still be on a super high dose, so it will take time.) 

Why, you might ask, would someone do this when they are finally stable and in a really good place? My mental illness is stable, but my physical health is facing some risks that I believe might be exacerbated by my long-term, high dose of antidepressants. I feel like I am in a place now where taking care of my physical health needs to balance with my mental health. And I am ready to try to do that. I have spent nearly my whole life dealing with my mental state--either trying to hide it, live through it, or treat it--that my physical wellness has taken a back seat. That's not good for me any more than living with an untreated mental illness. So, before I get to some sort of physical crisis, I am going to see if I can find a balance to my physical and mental health so that I can live into old age with good health. 

I will continue to share my story, if only to honestly portray what one person's experience is like, if it helps someone else. 

Sunday, February 18, 2018

Meditation on What Kind of World I Want to Live In

It's January, which means my Idaho legislature is in session. It's Wednesday, which means a group of us stand outside on the capitol steps in prayer--whatever form that may take for each one of us--for the people inside to have the courage to create laws that reflect our values. We are the Interfaith Equality Coalition,  an alliance of faith communities working together to bring equality, justice, and dignity for all people through our compassionate witness, education, and advocacy. 

As I stand on the steps, my prayer usually takes the form of a meditation, a focus, or a song in my head. Today, what kept popping up for me was irony. Maybe dichotomy. Maybe duality. 

I am a person of faith, yet I do not want to live in a country with a religious government. A theocracy. Is that what the term is? However, the kind of world I want to live in sort of defines what most people consider religious values--decency, compassion, love. Ironically, most of the so-called religious folks running the government don't seem to be operating under those values. But it doesn't escape my thoughts that one doesn't need to be of any faith tradition for the values of decency, compassion, and love to be your guiding ideals. 

A lot of people, including one man who encountered us today, say they don't think it's government's place to intrude on the lives of citizens by forcing everyone to pay for the things we think should be inalienable rights. I guess that issue comes down to what we see as the role of government. 

I see the role of government as protecting the citizens, not just from military or terrorist threats, but from injustice, inequality, and need. For me, it is indeed self evident that all beings are created equal, and I think it is the role of government to define and protect those rights. So instead of making laws that leave out vast swaths of humans, the laws should include everyone. In my mind, that means people from other countries, from all races and religions, from all gender identifications and sexual orientations, and all socio-economic origins. 

What that looks like in practice, for me, is that everyone pays enough in taxes so that injustices brought on by lack of healthcare can be made just with all people being provided that healthcare univserally. It means that those who have been excluded or marginalized by society in the past should be specifically named in our equal rights protections--just to make damn sure who is entitled to those rights. It means that we fund housing strategies to provide a place for everyone, that we make sure education is there for everyone. This shouldn't be lefft up to the charitable feelings of a few, but should be a mandatory part of living in our society--we ALL pay for and ALL receive the benefits of this free society. 

I find irony in the politics of people who vote for leaders who cut healthcare, cut education funding, and cut funding for veterans' or senior programs, but then tout their religious goodness of "serving" these folks. Part of serving is to hold all of society accountable for those in need. 

I find it ironic that our society sees fit to imprison people who have no homes because it is illegal to camp on the sidewalk. Shouldn't it be illegal for us a society to allow people to have nowhere but the sidewalk to sleep? We should be the ones imprisoned for neglecting our fellow humans. If a parent allowed a child to fend for themselves outside in the winter nighttime, that is what would happen. 

Because of my activism, I fortunately see hundreds and hundreds of folks, religious or not, who want to see a world where people are housed, where people's heathcare needs don't bankrupt their families, where greed on an exponential scale is reined in from destroying the earth, and where justice and equality form the basis for all our laws. Unfortunately, I don't see the leaders of the country aiming for these same goals. Quite the opposite at times, it seems. 

That is why I have made it my practice to stand on these steps and meditate every week. I hope our elected officials can come to see the wisdom of a path that values all and serves all, rather than the path in which we let people die of homelessness, insufficient healthcare, a toxic earth, and the cruel greed of the very rich.  

Saturday, February 18, 2017


I find imagery to be more powerful than other forces at times. It comes to me when words won't do, and here I am trying to use words to explain the imagery. Silly me. Maybe imagery shouldn't be dissected and explained and analyzed. Maybe it should simply be felt.

Still, words are my currency, so that's what I do.

There's been a lot of imagery in my dream life lately. And I had wanted to write about the imagery of the cairn, which has become a symbol of my entire life. I don't know where to focus. So I'll start with the cairn.

For those who need a refresher, the night I learned of my dad's death, I was at a writing retreat and we did a guided meditation to build a cairn. It was full of emotion and power for me, and I used that in my talk at my dad's memorial.

The base of the cairn in my meditation was a large granite rock, rounded and eroded from eons of time. Granite symbolizes strength, abundance, and balance. A great foundation for the entire tower, for the entirety of life, for almost everything. There is strength is something as simple as breath and as motionless as a rock. There is strength in the roaring of water and the creation of a star. Abundance to many means material abundance, lots of stuff and money. I am fortunate to have material abundance--at least enough for me and many others. I find abundance to be far more than mere stuff, though. It can mean knowledge, memories, gratitude, love. I think of abundance as a positive word. Balance is the third essence of granite. Balance feels safe. Centered. In tune with the world. At rest, at peace. When I think of strength, abundance, and balance, it reminds me of mountain pose in yoga, which is also foundational.

Now I'll mention the imagery of my recent dreams. One dream indicated a person on a gurney being rolled into an operating theater. The next one was just the image of a drill, such as one you might use to drill a hole in a wall. This one had a huge drill bit. And the third dream was kind of scary. It was a dream of myself dying, knowing it was coming, trying to hold on to life, and then the moment of death itself, everything simply stopped and turned dark. But consciousness was still there. In the dream, I thought, "so this is the afterlife? okay."

Dream imagery is something I love to delve into. You all know it's metaphor, right? I'm not actually dying (well, in a way, we all are dying, but I digress). These three dreams all deal with themes of leaving behind the past in some fashion, ready to start a new phase, drilling down deep, removing old patterns and ways. It's actually really positive stuff, even though the imagery in the dreams is sort of scary. But is it positive? Change is big, it's scary, it's not always something we hope for. Change can be marriage, birth, new jobs, new friends, new work. It can also mean endings, death, things being ripped apart. Change is often uncomfortable, even painful. Even good change.

So this is where strength, abundance, and balance come in. Whatever change, death/rebirth, removal of past patterns or habits, and drilling down that is coming my way, I face it with the foundation of strength, abundance, and balance.

Thursday, January 26, 2017


At the Women's March weekend and in several other settings involving activism, I have been hearing this word "intersectional." It seems to be a sort of buzz word of late. At first, I let it just slide past in my hearing, not really thinking about its meaning. But each time I hear it, I think a little harder about what it means, and more specifically what it means to me.

I realized after much thought that the word is so much a part of my way of being in the world, that it never occurred to me that it needed to be called something or defined. But now that I have begun thinking about it, I understand that not everybody thinks of the world this way, and while that's foreign to me, I get that other people go through life differently than I do.

So, I did what I always do--I turned to words, my friends. I think intersectionality is what John Donne meant in his poem:

No man is an island,
Entire of itself,
Every man is a piece of the continent,
A part of the main.
If a clod be washed away by the sea,
Europe is the less.
As well as if a promontory were.
As well as if a manor of thy friend's
Or of thine own were:
Any man's death diminishes me,
Because I am involved in mankind,
And therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls; 
It tolls for thee. 

Now, I'm no John Donne, and my poetic attempts may not be so eloquent, but after the march, I wrote this poem to try to express the word, the point of the march, the way I view the world in this respect. 

It's called: 


As in, our lives intersect so much so that whatever happens to anyone, happens to me;

As in, women's rights are human rights, are LGBT rights, are refugee rights, are immigrants' rights, are black rights, are rights;

As in, violence toward one begets more violence to all;

As in, geographical, political boundaries are myths that cannot divide us; 

As in, we either rise together or we fall together;

As in, we have all been strangers in a strange land, all in need of welcome;

As in, the water in North Dakota, and Flint, and flooding homes, and pushed by tsunamis is all the same water;

As in, we exist as only a tiny part of an enormous ecosytem, but we are soiling our own bed--even dogs know better; 

As in, art and music and literature are how we understand our connectedness; 

As in, educating your child is just as important to me as the education mine already received; 

As in, all religions teach us to love one another, a concept so fundamental that even those with no religion intuitively know this;

As in, social justice for one does not take away anything from another, but expands justice for all; 

As in, there is enough for all when greed gives way to generosity and power gives way to humility; 

As in, we are all dreamers, whether we are laid off coal workers, struggling farmers, loggers, DACA children, corporate giants, or writers; 

As in, we are all formed from the same stardust, and we will all return to it; 

As in, the whisper you start in your heart becomes the rousing roar of the earth; 

As in, if we bring forth what is within us it will save us, and if we do not bring forth what is within us, it will destroy us; 

As in, we exist in an infinite spiral around each other and we can reach out to hug, help, heal, and house the whole world; 

As in, tug on one thread and the whole piece/peace unravels.

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

All Things Being Connected

I'm not one for making New Year's resolutions, and it is getting well past New Year's anyway. I do like to use these moments in the year to look back over the past year and look to the time in front of me. I like to observe the symbolism of things and how they all come back around.

Last year was a weird one, marked in a very personal way for me by the death of my dad, and in a very public way by the election of a person whose name I refuse to type.

But as my kids have noted, there were some really lovely things about the year. For me, finishing the first draft of my current book was a big one. This is a work of the heart and one I am increasingly proud of. As I started out the year, my plan was to create my own publishing cooperative with other interested authors. But as I explored that it became clear to me the enormity of the time involved to publish books. I chose instead to put all of that time and energy into my work and craft. I opened myself up to learning more--and I did. A lot, actually. I think that focus has made my writing so much stronger and deeper. So I am continuing on this path of making the writing the focus. I have let go of the urgency to be published and find the urgency in the writing. That is an awesome feeling.

The death of my dad was huge for our family. And as these things tend to, it brought us closer together, and for me personally forged my life plan for the foreseeable future. When he died, I was at a writing retreat, and that night we did a guided meditation in which we built a cairn in our minds. This was a powerful meditation for me, and in fact, when we had dad's memorial service, I used that meditation as my memorial talk for him. (I don't remember if I posted it on this blog, but I know I posted it on my facebook page, so if you're curious, feel free to go back and read it.)

The cairn has become a strong symbol for me in so many ways. Cairns have been used since ancient times to mark a path or stand as a memorial. As I wrote the poem after the guided meditation that I later used at dad's service, some things began to click in my consciousness. Utmost of the notions that resounded there for me was the concept of HOME. The cairn marks a path toward home. My dad was the strong presence of home in our family. My dad gave us a home in the national parks, a very special and meaningful foundation for all that I am. So, the cairn, essentially, shows us the way toward home.

When I came home to Boise after the service, I built several cairns in my yard as memorials to dad. As reminders that I have that strong foundation of home. A childhood home. And an adult home. A home--whether it's a place, a family, a person, a thought, a belief system--is foundational to life.

I have always felt a deep connection and desire to help those who are homeless, a passion that grows deeper with time. Last year, I expanded my commitment to work harder to end homelessness in my community. Not just to serve meals or provide temporary shelter--although these are continuing and pressing needs, worthy of our time and valuable to those who have no homes. I spent the year exploring, acting, and learning as much as I could about ways I can help create homes and housing affordability here where I live. And this work will be something I keep on with for the rest of my life. Home, a way there, a foundation for a life.

It is no coincidence that most of my novels have strong themes involving home--what it means, who is there, and how to find it. My latest novel's working title is Show Me the Way to Go Home. The cairn's purpose. It's set at Tule Lake internment camp during WWII, with eerily similar echoes to the racism and nationalism we've seen more and more of since the election of 2016.

I, like millions of others, have dedicated myself to greater engagement in whatever is necessary to prevent this coming presidency from destroying our freedoms, our earth, and our fellow humans. I have become a monthly donor to the Sierra Club, the Southern Poverty Law Center, and to ACLU Idaho and joined in to volunteer specifically with the ACLU and Planned Parenthood, as well as increased dedication to the work I've already been doing toward ending homelessness, working with the Idaho Humane Society, and trying to get four important words ("sexual orientation" and "gender identity") added to Idaho's anti-discrimination laws.

It can be discouraging, the amount of work there is to do politically, environmentally, locally and globally. I choose to focus on the actual things I can DO right where I am. Here at home.

I don't mention this activity to point out how great I am or get kudos. I mention it because for me, it all comes back around to the cairn, to home, to my dad. It's a multi-dimensional spiral that I can't fully comprehend or explain. How everything is so connected and important. How what has meaning in one realm of my life bleeds over into all the other areas of my life. How my life really isn't divided into compartments, but rather is one continuum of expression. How powerfully one simple meditation at a writer's retreat can become a symbol for my whole existence.

I will write more on the power of the cairn, because it warrants more in-depth exploration. For now, as my new year's present to myself, I wear a necklace of a cairn as a symbol of this coming year for me.

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Voting and Things

November 8, election day 2016, also marks a full 2 months since my dad died. Is it really only such a short span of time? It seems at once to be forever ago and also impossible that it ever happened.

I so wish my dad was still here so he could cast his vote this election. He was a lifelong Republican, the old-school kind of conservative. But this year, he had planned to vote for Hillary. He and my mom both.

My parents took/take voting seriously. They never missed any election, even if it was a tiny county seat or school board position. And this is saying a lot, because during the years we lived at Wind Cave, they had to drive about 45 minutes to their polling place--one way. And if you remember the years before climate change took hold, it was often snowy and blustery this time of year. Not to mention that about half the trip was on a dirt road.

They set a great example of the importance of each person's vote. Ever since I have been old enough to vote, I, too, have never missed an opportunity to exercise my voice. I have it lucky--my polling place is the elementary school my kids attended, just a few blocks from my house. The lines are never long, it's easy to get to, and everyone is friendly and often people I know.

So this year, I'm dedicating my vote to my dad. He and I never agreed on politics, until this presidential election. (I can't say we really even agree on politics, but we do agree that Trump is a "jackass" and as my mom says, "I wouldn't vote for him for dog catcher.") And to my mom, whose entire life has changed by virtue of her husband of 67 years dying, her move to an entirely new place, and adjusting to living in an apartment building with other old people and having some of her freedoms and independence disappear. Still, on this election, she plans to board the assisted living shuttle that will take her to her new polling place and cast her vote for Hillary.

I hope everyone will vote. I live in Idaho, where my liberal democratic vote will never make a difference in the outcome of a national election. We are one of the reddest states in the nation. But who knows? Things change. We did once upon a time have a democrat for governor. I am proud to live in a state legislative district that is quite liberal. And Boise did have the largest democratic caucus on record this year. But I vote because my voice is important, even if it won't change the fact of Idaho's politics. I don't take it lightly, because every outcome is important.

No excuses, people. Honor the giants who have gone before us to secure our rights to choose our own government.

Friday, September 16, 2016

Memories of My Dad

My dad died on September 8, 2016. I have never known a world without him, so it will take some getting used to. I want to share some of my random memories.

Let's be honest right up front. My dad had a temper, and there were many times as a child that his big booming voice combined with his six-foot height looming over me had me quaking in my shoes. Which was probably the effect he hoped for. We had a tumultuous relationship at times, both of us prone to yelling and anger, while also staunchly stubborn in our belief in our own rightness. But that's not all there was to him, and I think the delightful memories outweigh the difficult ones.

I could tell stories all day long, just like my dad, so it seems apt to tell a few stories. I'll try to be brief.

When I was a kid, I got great delight out of hiding from my dad when he came home from the office and jumping out to scare him. I'm pretty sure he always knew exactly where I was, but he played along, and we'd laugh.

On Sunday afternoons, at least when there was no football or KU sporting event on tv, we would sit cross-legged on the living room floor playing the card game War, which can tend to last for hours, especially with just two players. We had a great time as the game tilted back and forth. He never once looked at his watch.

He used to tease me with a rhyme: "There was a little girl who had a little curl, right in the middle of her forehead. When she was good she was very, very good. And when she was bad, she was horrid." It's not very nice, and I don't think it ever made me behave any better. I was not an easy child, and I'm pretty sure that he recited this rhyme the way some people count to ten--as a way of calming himself down instead of lashing out, which no doubt is what he really wanted to do. (I've had those moments as a parent, so I know.) What made me most mad about that rhyme was not the truth that I was horrid when I was bad. I knew that. But it referred to a girl having a curl, and my hair has always been as straight as a pine needle. I always wanted the mess of curls my brother Mike has, and dad knew it. I always got mad and yelled that I didn't have any curls. Good times.

There were other genuinely good times, like walking into his office when I got off the school bus each day, just to say hi and have a moment with him all to myself. Weekends when we'd hop in the pickup truck and head to the ranch. He fixed up a cushioned area for me in the back of the truck and I loved sitting back there as we bounced down the back roads. When he stepped up often to drive me across state for debate tournaments. When we went to Happy Joe's in Rapid City after seeing the movie American Graffiti and we laughed and laughed. He loved to laugh, and he had a great sense of humor. My dad was at every event any of his children ever did--whether it was sports, music, theater, debate. He was so proud of everything we did.

My teenage years were particularly hard for all involved, but he didn't hold that against me. In between all the yelling and crying and slamming of doors on my part, he still showed he loved and cared for me. I remember one time when my mom was in the hospital for surgery--back in those days you stayed in the hospital for several days. As I recall, our kitchen was in the middle of being remodeled, as well. But dad and I made some lame attempts at cooking. I decided to try sweet and sour meatballs, which is not a difficult recipe for an experienced cook, but for a 15 year old who had never done much more than bake cookies, and a middle aged man who could fry an egg, it was a challenge. It would have been easy for the ordeal to turn into another fit of anger and yelling, but it didn't. It turned into one of those moments where you can only laugh at your own absurdity, and boy did we bust a gut laughing that night.

By the time I got married just after college, I was delighted to have my dad walk me down the aisle.
And later when I had my first child Melissa, I have fond memories of him holding her tiny body and singing "Oh My Darling, Clementine."
                 He and my mom stayed at our house waiting for Emily to show up (ten days after her due date), but the death of his own mother called him away, the very day she was born. That was hard and bittersweet. He had no pride when it came to playing with the grandchildren, including tea parties with Peter. My parents visited us frequently--as they did my brothers and their families as well--and gave my children their own sets of memories.

And when we visited the Black Hills, there was the inevitable trip to Flintstones.  And fishing.

We started a family tradition of gathering every five years to celebrate Mom and Dad's anniversaries and their legacy of family. These were always full of fun and laughter, some alcohol for the adults, and my dad at the head of whatever table we were at.

I loved listening to my dad's stories. About his childhood and large extended family. About his Navy days. About his park service adventures. One year for a family reunion celebrating my parents' 50th anniversary, we were in north Idaho and we visited Farragut State Park, which was my dad's naval basic training base in 1944. He walked us around, showed us where he learned to swim, and delighted as his grandchildren found his photo among the many photo albums of sailors who had trained there.
A couple of years ago, when he and mom were here in Boise for a visit, we were at an exhibit on WWII. There was a big map of the Pacific, and dad proudly showed me all the places he had been during the war, answering all my questions happily.

At another anniversary reunion, their 60th, the whole group of us attempted to play Apples to Apples. What a riot that was. Most of us had had quite a few drinks in us, and my dad kept saying "This game is stupid," because he didn't really get the point of it. But he nevertheless kept playing. I hope he realized by the end that the point was to be silly and laugh a whole lot.

As I grew farther and farther into adulthood, my relationship with my dad changed and deepened. As a child, I had been afraid to stand up to him, because he belonged to the authoritarian school in which children were to obey their parents without question. (Something I never really managed to do.) But by the time I was a parent myself, I was brave enough to stand firm on a few things, and he was gracious enough to learn a new way to be my dad. There were even a few times when he humbly acknowledged that I was right and that he had actually learned something from me. The last 10-20 years of his life, my dad was a more mellow fellow, as often happens with age. Heart surgery, I think, gave him a second chance for more time with his family, and he took hold of that opportunity with an open heart.

This past summer, we came for a visit to the Black Hills for the Wind Cave reunion associated with the 100th anniversary of the National Park Service, which was my dad's career. It was so fun to reunite with old friends, and I think he especially enjoyed sharing park service stories with old colleagues. I certainly enjoyed listening to his yarns.

When he was diagnosed with stage 4 lung cancer and told he did not have long, we stripped away any leftover veneers and had the blessed opportunity to share final weeks with him in utter honesty and love. We had hoped for more time, a few months for final goodbyes and making arrangements for my mom. We didn't get that extra time, but we did have those two weeks of time to make sure we said what we needed to say. I can't say for sure, but I have a sneaky suspicion that, knowing he was dying anyway, he was able to let go quickly and painlessly, knowing that his children would take care of his wife and that going now would lessen our agony in experiencing a protracted ordeal with much emotional pain. He was an independent guy who didn't really like asking for help, and wouldn't have wanted his family to suffer along with him. He made a clean break of it. (Just my theory.)

Before he started chemo, he had his hair shaved off, just because it was going to fall out anyway. He texted us this last photo of himself:
He said, "I haven't had hair this short since I went to boot camp in 1944!" And he laughed. His laugh was so big, boisterous, and frequent. I'll always be able to hear it in my heart.

I can imagine him now setting up a cribbage table with his old buddies Bruce, Bill, and Doug telling stories about the war and the parks, laughing it up, maybe a beer in hand. I hope that's what heaven has in store for him.

Well done, good and faithful servant.