NOTABLE & QUOTABLE


robin williams From a foreword by actor ROBIN WILLIAMS, who died on Monday at age 63, for “Tell My Son: A Father’s Last Letters” by Lt. Col. Mark Weber, who died June 13, 2013, at age 41:

We all eventually reach the end of our march. For some of us, the route is long. For others, the path is short. But it’s not the length of the journey that matters as much as the steps we take.

If you discovered disease was about to cut your life short, no one could rightfully judge you for dropping out of line. But for those who refuse to let an incurable illness keep them from doing their duty. For those who keep fighting, for those who live life vigorously and joyfully to the very end, we have names for those people. We call them heroes.

I had the pleasure of working with Mark during a USO tour he helped organize for the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff in 2004. At the time, he inspired me in the same way all military personnel do. Everyone who serves their country deserves respect for their personal sacrifice, and they sure get mine. But after learning of his battle with cancer, my respect for Mark grew exponentially….

Lieutenant Colonel Weber marched with purpose, humor, dignity, and grace. This book is about what drove him. It’s a look at who he was, what he believed, and what awaits his sons in their own lives. Reading it might help you advance through this world, too.

May he light the way.

<ayu

CHECKS AND BALANCES


spikey plant

watercolor painting by KSR

Some years ago, when I was teaching at our local Community College, it occurred to me that everybody was younger and smarter than I was. They used cultural references I knew nothing about, they were up on all the newest movies, dance steps and music. (And they didn’t get out of breathe after climbing the hill to the art lab.) Suddenly my clothes began to look dated, and I started to wonder if I was going to be a frumpy old lady in a few years.

But we were into double-edged sword territory, so age wasn’t always a liability. When you’re older and don’t talk a lot, younger people often think you’re wise and they ask your advice about all kinds of things. I do adore handing out advice to people who might actually heed it. Besides it was my class, my rules. It’s amazing what you learn about the younger generation by just listening. I have children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren, but when it’s not personal, the floodgates open, and no subject is out of bounds. It has been a grand education, and when you don’t know what you’re talking about, just keep your mouth shut. Make allowances for each others differences.

I remember the young man who showed up for my sculpture class in a wheelchair. He was a Vietnam veteran who had had his legs blown off by a landmine. The other young men were discussing their heights one day when he remarked in a soft shy voice, “I used to be six feet.”

Then there was the woman with a crazy, lopsided blond wig, which was always askew. She wasn’t a talker, but one day she told of having had cancer as a child and hearing a nurse ignore her by telling another nurse that “she’s going to die anyway.” Now her cancer was back and she was handling it in a crazy wig and good humor.

My friend Lory O. once wrote: “With age comes wisdom, and also forgetfulness of all those wise thoughts.” It’s one of the immutable laws of the Universe that we will all be a bit forgetful at some future time of our lives. I tend to blur out the major cataclysmic occurrences of the world. There are far too many to remember clearly.

I remember the quieter, smaller happenings in our own lives and in the lives of those around us that are personally momentous, while the rest of the world lurches on, oblivious. You become a personal historian. You can’t forget everything and everyone you’ve ever know, and the list gets longer with each year.