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Daily Archives: January 4, 2011

Our tombstone inscriptions . . .

Prior to the interment of my wife’s mortal remains in Fort Sam Houston’s National Cemetery here in San Antonio, I was asked to provide any information that I wanted in addition to the mandatory data required by military regulations. An official of the funeral home said that I would have three lines for our use, each line consisting of a maximum of 15 letters including spaces. After securing agreement from our three daughters, I submitted the following three lines, to be placed below the lines required by regulation. These lines were my original submission:

Cry not for me
I am at home
I wait for thee

Shortly after that submission I was contacted by a cemetery representative, and was told that only two lines were available for my use after the mandatory items were inscribed. After a few minutes of looking at possibilities, I realized that any one of the three lines I had submitted could be deleted. I could remove the first line and the inscription would read:

I am at home
I wait for thee

I could delete the third line and the inscription would read:

Cry not for me
I am at home

And finally, with the second line removed the inscription would read:

Cry not for me
I wait for thee

Again with the agreement of our three daughters, I chose to remove the second line, so the inscription will read:

Cry not for me
I wait for thee

Of course, when my earthly remains are placed with the mortal remains of my wife in our temporal holding place—and I will join her, either sooner or later—her inscription will again need to be formulated, primarily because she will no longer be waiting for me—at that time I shall have arrived.

As for my inscription on the front of the final headstone to be inscribed and erected, I will entrust the inscription to the sensibilities of our three daughters, and I trust that they will be gentle in complying with that responsibility, and unanimous in their decision, whatever it may be—but none of that two out of three stuff!

That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.

 
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Posted by on January 4, 2011 in death, Family, funeral, health, marriage, Military

 

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Viagra, Cialis, Levitra & compromised e-mails . . .

In the wee small hours of the morning today, at exactly 1:01 AM Central Standard Time, I received a cryptic e-mail, a message that consisted of a single URL, one that proved to be a commercial Canadian site offering a variety of health and physical fitness products, a variety with a pronounced emphasis on pharmaceuticals such as Viagra, Cialis, Levitra and various painkillers and growth hormones.

The e-mail was from my granddaughter, a beautiful and intelligent young woman of some 26 tender years. She is a graduate of one of San Antonio’s community colleges and was recently graduated by the University of Texas at San Antonio. She is quite aware that I, her maternal grandfather, love a good joke and have been to spin off a few jokes of my own under acceptable conditions.

I considered the e-mail to have been delivered in jest, particularly given the fact that this particular grandfather has passed his seventy-eighth birthday, and however reluctantly, is hurtling toward number seventy-nine—that will put me just a scant twenty-one years away from the century mark. Armed with that knowledge and knowing my granddaughter’s penchant for good clean verbal fun, I replied to her e-mail in like vein.

This is my response to her e-mail:

Thanks for calling my attention to this web site. I have placed my order for multiple items in substantial amounts, including orders for almost everything on the home page.

I did not order the Female Pink product for obvious reasons, but also I figured that the dosage could possibly promote personal ambivalence in certain preferences, and I would really hate myself if I should learn that all those years in the past have been wasted—nope, no Female Pink for me.

I did not order the Soma, the muscle relaxant and pain blocker—my muscles are already too relaxed and I don’t hurt anywhere—much.

I did not order the Human Growth Hormone because I’m already unable to wear certain shirts and jeans—even my socks are too tight—and I do not want to grow bigger and return to wearing those wide-butted Dockers.

I also did not order any Ultram, another painkiller. However, I was sorely tempted because it was one of the least expensive items pictured.

I almost included Zyban to help me curb my smoking habit, then I remembered that I quit smoking in 1967.

I am so excited! I plan to camp out near the mailbox—I just hope that all those enhancements arrive soon, and I hope they are delivered in a plain brown wrapper. In fact, I plan to camp out immediately adjacent to the mailbox just in case a neighbor gets sticky fingers when the packages start arriving.

In the interests of full disclosure, I must tell you that I forwarded this response to the other addressees listed on your e-mail. I took the liberty of sending it to the other recipients in the belief that they would also want to order copious amounts of these products, especially after having been emboldened by my order.

Judging by their e-mail addresses, they appear to be reasonably female in gender and will probably make a run on the Female Pink product—but then again, perhaps not—one can never be sure.

Thanks for the e-mail—cheers, and happy new year!

Postscript: I learned later this morning that my granddaughter’s e-mail had been compromised by unknown persons, perhaps by someone with a financial interest in the Canadian on-line pharmacy. She did not send the e-mail. Bummer!

And one more postscript: One by one the addressees to whom the compromised e-mail was forwarded are being removed as non-deliverable.  Evidently there is something in the system  that provides for such compromises.

And as Martha Stewart would probably say, That’s a good thing!

That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.

 

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A letter from a Union soldier, 1861 . . .

I received the following e-mail from my nephew in Mississippi, the nephew that toils lovingly and highly successfully in his chosen profession of designing and renovating churches of various denominations. The e-mail included a copy of a letter written by a Union soldier on the eve of a battle early in the War Between the States—I refuse to refer to it as a civil war—there was not a trace of civility in that bitter conflict. The letter was untitled and is reproduced in its entirety following my nephew’s e-mail, exactly as I received it.

Note: Letters to and about Janie can be found here, here, here, here, here, here and here. My not-so-humble opinion is that all are worthy of being read—I wrote them and published them to commemorate Janie’s life and to serve as a reminder to all that life is fleeting—in the words of British poet Robert Herrick (1591-1674), Gather ye rosebuds while ye may, Old Time is still a-flying. Click on that excerpt to read the entire poem and more about Janie.

This is the e-mail I received from my nephew:

Uncle Mike,

Your most recent posts, your letters to Janie, have reminded me of a letter I learned about from a public television series done by Ken Burns. The series documented some of the history of the American Civil War. Specifically, the program included parts of a letter written by a Union soldier who later became a casualty of that war. Although the letter was written before his death, the spirit of the letter, for me, transcends life and death. I believe your letters do the same. A copy of the text of the letter is attached.

Larry

This is the Union soldier’s letter to his wife, written on the eve of battle:

July the 14th, 1861
Washington DC

My very dear Sarah:

The indications are very strong that we shall move in a few days—perhaps tomorrow. Lest I should not be able to write you again, I feel impelled to write lines that may fall under your eye when I shall be no more.

Our movement may be one of a few days duration and full of pleasure—and it may be one of severe conflict and death to me. Not my will, but thine 0 God, be done. If it is necessary that I should fall on the battlefield for my country, I am ready. I have no misgivings about, or lack of confidence in, the cause in which I am engaged, and my courage does not halt or falter. I know how strongly American Civilization now leans upon the triumph of the Government, and how great a debt we owe to those who went before us through the blood and suffering of the Revolution. And I am willing—perfectly willing—to lay down all my joys in this life, to help maintain this Government, and to pay that debt.

But, my dear wife, when I know that with my own joys I lay down nearly all of yours, and replace them in this life with cares and sorrows—when, after having eaten for long years the bitter fruit of orphanage myself, I must offer it as their only sustenance to my dear little children—is it weak or dishonorable, while the banner of my purpose floats calmly and proudly in the breeze, that my unbounded love for you, my darling wife and children, should struggle in fierce, though useless, contest with my love of country?

I cannot describe to you my feelings on this calm summer night, when two thousand men are sleeping around me, many of them enjoying the last, perhaps, before that of death—and I, suspicious that Death is creeping behind me with his fatal dart, am communing with God, my country, and thee.

I have sought most closely and diligently, and often in my breast, for a wrong motive in thus hazarding the happiness of those I loved and I could not find one. A pure love of my country and of the principles have often advocated before the people and “the name of honor that I love more than I fear death” have called upon me, and I have obeyed.

Sarah, my love for you is deathless, it seems to bind me to you with mighty cables that nothing but Omnipotence could break; and yet my love of Country comes over me like a strong wind and bears me irresistibly on with all these chains to the battlefield.

The memories of the blissful moments I have spent with you come creeping over me, and I feel most gratified to God and to you that I have enjoyed them so long. And hard it is for me to give them up and burn to ashes the hopes of future years, when God willing, we might still have lived and loved together and seen our sons grow up to honorable manhood around us. I have, I know, but few and small claims upon Divine Providence, but something whispers to me—perhaps it is the wafted prayer of my little Edgar —-that I shall return to my loved ones unharmed. If I do not, my dear Sarah, never forget how much I love you, and when my last breath escapes me on the battlefield, it will whisper your name.

Forgive my many faults, and the many pains I have caused you. How thoughtless and foolish I have oftentimes been! How gladly would I wash out with my tears every little spot upon your happiness, and struggle with all the misfortune of this world, to shield you and my children from harm. But I cannot. I must watch you from the spirit land and hover near you, while you buffet the storms with your precious little freight, and wait with sad patience till we meet to part no more.

But, O Sarah! If the dead can come back to this earth and flit unseen around those they loved, I shall always be near you; in the garish day and in the darkest night – amidst your happiest scenes and gloomiest hours—always, always; and if there be a soft breeze upon your cheek, it shall be my breath; or the cool air fans your throbbing temple, it shall be my spirit passing by.

Sarah, do not mourn me dead; think I am gone and wait for thee, for we shall meet again.

As for my little boys, they will grow as I have done, and never know a father’s love and care. Little Willie is too young to remember me long, and my blue eyed Edgar will keep my frolics with him among the dimmest memories of his childhood. Sarah, I have unlimited confidence in your maternal care and your development of their characters. Tell my two mothers his and hers I call God’s blessing upon them. O Sarah, I wait for you there! Come to me, and lead thither my children.

Sullivan

A special note: The soldier, Sullivan, did not survive the battle—he died, but his letter and his spirit live on.

That’s the story of my nephew’s e-mail and the letter written by a Union soldier, and I’m sticking to it.

 
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Posted by on January 4, 2011 in civil war, death, Family, marriage, Military

 

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