Saturday, 8 August 2015

Suddenly, not kids anymore

A friend from cadets passed away last night of cancer after a nine-year battle. She was in her late 40s. She fought the good fight and lost, sadly, as so many do who have been inflicted with this terrible scourge. But she was too young. She never got the chance to see her children grown into adulthood and see what a difference she made in their lives, she never got to have grand-kids, she never got to retire and enjoy life. Like so many before her, she was taken much too soon from all of us.

That really hits hard. 

Your friends, like your family, are supposed to be immortal. You should never outlive them. Or so we think to ourselves. Over the years I've seen many people pass on from this life, one that stands out is an old friend who died in her sleep at 34 years old. Literally just stopped being alive. It took almost a year to figure out why she died. At 34. Then there was Keith Pierre, a big healthy active fun-loving guy, who dropped dead at 29 in front of his wife in the kitchen. His heart gave out. We all have stories like that, we've all been affected by the sudden loss of not just family, but friends. Old or young, it doesn't matter, everyone's mortal. People die in accidents, illness, suicide, homocide, any number of reasons, and we've all had someone sometime in our lives who have moved on. And we mourn forever. 

Geri-Ann Hurt's passing will be no different in how it affects me, compared to the rest, it will hurt, and it will bring home a terrifying truth, we all have to go sometime, this life is temporary. But her death also brings home memories, good times in cadets at 12 years old, when she was a little older and one of the senior cadets who taught and mentored me. Then later as a fellow officer, a one-time commanding officer, and casually over the years, just a friend.

We've kept in touch since the teenage years, there's a core group of around 60 from that era who have become more brothers and sisters than friends. We've attending each other's weddings, our kid's events, had the chance to mentor each other's children as they joing the cadet movements, and now, like many times before, funerals. It's not the way we want to see each other again, as the older we get the less frequent our gatherings, but it has to be. Ironically last night I posted on the group that we need to get together again soon, at least for beer and wings or something. This morning I heard the news, my first thought was "not like this". 

It sucks getting older. We're all middle age now, some have retired, some have faded away. But we all want to keep the memories of our childhood together alive, and that means sharing with each other in whatever way we can. We have an inate desire to maintain our youth and refuse to ever give into the aging process, that philosophy keeps us young. At our last gathering we all acted like the kids we were, being goofy and immature, we were all just a little grayer and our bodies didn't look like they used to, but the youth in us came through when we met again. That's the last time I saw Geri-Ann. She was sick that day, her doctor gave her six months. She walked slowly, she looked gaunt, and a friend had to help her along, but she came out. Maybe to say hello old friends just one more time. She lasted three years from that point. She fought it with all she had, she held onto her youth with every fibre of her being. Like we all do. 

Now we have to move on, back to the reality of middle-age life. We're not kids anymore, as much as we try, we just aren't. That doesn't mean we should never stop trying, the old adige is you're only as young as you feel, that's true, but given that some days I feel 85. Other days, 12. We must maintain the balance to keep our sanity. That balance involves a heavy dose of old friends. Without them, who's going to remind you of all the stupid things you did!

As we mourn for Geri-Ann we must find hope that our own lives will work out for the better. We must move on and live. All the while remembering our friend, and others, who have passed on. We must remember the good times we had, and try whenever possible to relive them. Only then will we be satisfied that at the end of our lives we will have no regrets. Only then will we feel that we truly lived. 

We're not kids anymore. Every person who has touched us and then passed away reminds us of that. But we should never give into the idea of mortality. If we think about our own time, we stop living and thinking about why we should live - our family and our friends. In many cases, as it was with Geri-Ann, those ideals are interchangable.

Sleep well Geri-Ann, we'll miss you, and we'll celebrate you.

Monday, 3 August 2015

American History Part One, by Donald J. Trump

Part One - The Early Years, 1776-1815ish

In the beginning there was darkness, and then God created America, and he saw that it was good. It was 1776. I wasn't there, but I think it was about then. There were other people around the world, but they weren't American, so they don't matter. The American people were hard working folks, and loved their country. But the British were there, and kept pissing them off. George Washington, a great American, said, "throw the tea in the harbour! That'll teach them to tax us!" The great American people did as he requested, they threw all the tea in the harbour at Boston, and taught the British a lesson they soon wouldn't forget. That was the start of the Tea Party, which stands to this day as a great institution.

A group of men led by Thomas Jefferson sat down one day to make a declaration to keep the British out for good. Men like Ben Franklin, John Hancock, John Adams, Benjamin Harrison and a bunch more. Then they wrote down the greatest of documents, the Constitution, which was almost word for word from Christian teachings. These were great men. except for Hancock, he was a dummy, didn't really do much but somehow has a bank named after him.

The head of the British was George III, he was a nazi, his name was George Saxe-Coburg Gotha for Christ's sakes! He was also insane, he was a dummy. He did a lot of dumb things like tax the good American people, and constantly sent his army here looking for a fight. So we gave them one. They started the war by killing a couple of our guys, who were only defending their second ammendment rights. That wasn't fair, so we kicked all the British out. Many men became heros in that struggle, but some didn't, as they got captured. George Washington led the army, and after continued as president, retiring to Mount Vernon, where he lives today in quiet retirement. A great American.

The British fled to Canada and invaded them. The Canadians took them in because they're weak. The British under George III easily took control of the country and used it as a staging ground for attacks on the USA for the next 30 years. They kept coming and taking our trade goods, they made friends with the savages in the west country (I think that was around Indiana or something, I don't know, I wasn't there). The indians, under control of the British kept attacking hard working Americans and killing them. They even killed African-Americans, who were just simply trying to keep to themselves and be the hard-working people they are. The indians had to be stopped or they would threaten the USA. So we dealt with them. Eventually we bought land from them and we learned to live in peace, the indians decided to create their own little communes where they were most happy.

Around 1812 the British invaded the USA again. This time they used Canada as a staging point and attacked Detroit (I'm sure that's why Detroit is a mess today), they attacked Buffalo and finally Washington itself. President Madison decided to do something about it, and sent our great army into Canada to stop them. When the British attacked Washington, they tried to burn the White House, but Madison's wife Dolly - another great American; stopped them, and put out the fire, saving the famous picture of Washington. The British kept a' coming. They attacked New Orleans, and New York. They attacked northen Michigan, and some other places, I'm not sure.

The American army under Madison fought them back at every turn. They forced the Brits back to Niagara, where they saw the mighty falls there, and decided it was a good place (after the Brits were slaughtered of course), to set up some nice hotels, golf courses and restaurants so people could visit and see the great American sight for itself.

Eventually, the American army cornered the British at New Orleans in 1815 and wiped them out, sending a clear message to the rest of the world that this was our country and nobody was going to try to be a dummy and take over. We kicked out the foreigners, we kicked out the immigrants that were doing us harm by raping and killing Americans. We taught everyone a lesson that the USA was the best!

So an era of peace emerged after the British were taught a valuable lesson not to mess with us. We entered an era of prosperity where all God-fearing American men (white, male, between the ages of 18-65) could live in peace, vote for the best people, create great things, and make lots of money. Everyone was rich, just like me. Nobody wanted for anything because there was nobody there to take it from them.

Those ideals set down in these early days laid the groundwork for our great nation. A nation of wealthy industrialists and other hard-working people who just wanted to live in peace by themselves. In the following years the USA was tested over and over again by others in the world who were jealous and wanted a piece of us. In my next edition I'll cover more of what makes America great.