What it means to be human

“Before 70 we are merely respected at best and we have to behave all the time. But after 70 we are respected, esteemed, admired, and revered and don’t have to behave unless we want to” – Mark Twain


We humans are a strange species. We have to learn over and over what it means to be human.

I’m learning. Transporting poor people with a wide range of physical and emotional problems is the teacher.

The grandmother raising the 12 year old autistic grandson.

The 42 year old single mother on dialysis.

The many coping with cancer. Pain. Treatments.

Just a few examples.

All living in various degrees of poverty.

For these people, the dominant dynamic is pain. Physical and emotional. 24/7.

This can be an overwhelming environment.

How do these people cope?

What drives them to march on?

It’s been my experience that they all remain optimistic and frame their condition with the right perspective.

They embrace life. Not the suffering.

It could be worse.

I’m on this side of the dirt.

And so on.


Maybe that’s what it means to be human.

At least to some.


“It seems like there is something out there before you get to it”

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“It was the word, sad. Sad has an ugly weight” – The Forgotten Man by Robert Crais


“I scream my questions at the universe. Most of them never get answered”

But this one did. Well………sort of.

A confession here. I’m kind of a softie when it comes to some things.

Like beautiful music. A great book. A wonderful movie. Happy, and sad, human experiences.

I seem to tear up easily. It can be embarrassing.

“Daddy…what’s wrong? Are you crying?”

No. Of course not. Just allergies.

Anyway, I became concerned. What’s wrong with me? Am I depressed? Am I losing my mind?

So I sought answers.

Turns out my emotional components, in conjunction with my brain, are merely working hard to maintain an emotional equilibrium.

Apparently, when I become too happy…the brain says enough already. You’re getting carried away with this happiness gig.

So it slams me with a solid dose of sadness. Crying is a physical manifestation designed to bring me back to center.

Wait a minute. I really want to O.D. on happiness.

This is so weird.


“With freedom, books, flowers, and the moon, who could not be happy?” – Oscar Wilde

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Dangerous Behavior

“In Seattle, you haven’t had enough coffee until you can thread a sewing machine while it’s running”


Been driving for a medical transport co. for several weeks.

The most important thing I’ve learned in that brief time is that I must learn to control my emotions.

If I don’t…..my blood pressure will rise alarmingly and my head will explode.

Why is that you wonder.

Because of the insane number of drivers plundering our highways, every day I confront my own mortality, up close and personal.

Insane: not sane, mentally deranged, and utterly senseless.

These idiots obviously do not understand:

Traffic laws

Laws of physics

Common courtesy

Now if they only harmed themselves by plowing into a bridge at 90 mph that would be a good thing. Clean up the gene pool.

But no……invariably they damage the lives of others. Often irreparably.

Where is the justice?


“Fundamental changes of behavior hardly ever happen” – The Thirst by Joe Nesbo

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Life in Perspective

“Patient care should always be the key objective for any healthcare provider. It’s as simple as that” – Florence Nightingale


I’ve been driving for this medical transport co for 2 weeks. We transport old and/or indigent people to doctors and other medical services.

I’ve discovered a few things I did not know.

How very necessary this service is.

These people are desperately in need of the service. They cannot transport themselves and they cannot afford to pay for it. Without this service, most of them would either die or live really miserable lives.

There are a few things the government does well and this is one of them. Uncle Sam gets an A+ here.

The patients.

Roughly 50% of our patients are on Dialysis. That number surprised me. Had no idea that number of people are living on Dialysis. Imagine what that is like.

3 days a week – 4 hours each day. And the rest of that day spent recuperating from the procedure. That blows 3 days per week. 43% of their lives.

These people either get a kidney transplant or spend the rest of their lives living on the edge.

Thus far, the age range, in my experience, is 23 to 90.

Puts things in perspective doesn’t it.


“I think that there is something beautiful about mortality. It makes our decisions mean more.”  – Brandon Boyd

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Defensive Driving

“Never lend your car to anyone to whom you have given birth.”  – Erma Bombeck

Last year we finally quit working and retired. And since that momentous decision I’ve become too familiar with a certain recliner and a TV remote.

At some point it struck me that I was turning into a marshmallow. My mind was stagnating. Giving in to the years. Slowly but surely getting really old.

I needed to get a job. Something to occupy my mind and give meaning to life. Something to make me think.

Long story short, I signed on with a medical transport co. They deliver old and/or indigent patients to doctor appointments and other medical services.

A really important service.

Before they put me behind the wheel, they had to make sure I was not insane, a good driver, and could actually walk, talk, and communicate.

To this end I had to pass a DOT physical, a defensive driving course, and a communication test. Got to be able to walk, talk, and drive.

So I took and aced those tests. Actually I really fooled them on the sanity test but that is another chapter.

Now folks, I’ve been driving for over 50 years. Good driver. No accidents. A few tickets many years ago. I know how to drive defensively.

This is what the defensive driving course taught me. I’m not as good as I thought. I’m as good as anybody and better than most. But still, I’m kind of an accident about to happen.

So, I’ve changed. Now I really focus while driving. And marvel at just how many people don’t.

I think everyone should be required to take a defensive driving refresher course every 10 years or so.

There are just too many dangerous people on the road. You see them. You know what I’m talking about.

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

“Driving is a spectacular form of amnesia. Everything is to be discovered, everything to be obliterated.” – Jean Baudrillard

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A Mystery

“You don’t throw a life away just because it’s broken a little” – From Seabiscuit


Time alters most relationships. One’s experiences, health, environment, personality, the fickle fates and fortunes of life, all contribute to our view of everything.

I recall the various relationships I had with my Dad as the years slipped by.

As with all things, the tenor changed with the years.

I began to realize that he was merely a flawed human being who did the best he could with the hand life dealt him.

I would like to believe that he felt the same towards me. I think he did.

I was 57 when he died.

He would have been 100 next year. Me 76.

I wonder what our relationship would have been then, had he lived.

Don’t know why I’ve been thinking about that lately, but I most surely have.

Kind of a brain teaser to imagine the possible machinations.

It will forever remain a mystery.


“Nature makes boys and girls lovely to look upon so they can be tolerated until they acquire some sense” – Willian Lyon Phelps

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Chatty Runners

“No one is normal”

I’m not a gut wrenching, hard core, in your face exercise fanatic.

At my age and given my current health, I exercise slowly. Take my time. Smell the roses.

Exercise should not be torture.

So………….I stop and rest. Often.

And observe. Listen.

The basic groups of work out enthusiasts on the trail are:




The runners suffer as they pound the turf and laboriously slam their tortured mass towards some objective.

Sweat pouring out of every pore – muscles screaming for relief – faces reflecting various stages of agony.

Yet they push on as if some diabolic entity is driving them.

And then there are the CHATTY RUNNERS.

These people are amazing. They run in pairs and engage in conversation while their bodies scream for oxygen.

How do they do that?

As they pass by, I catch snippets.

“My brother told me that his wife likes to …………….”

“Did you hear that Martha is having an affair with…………”

“My professor said that God is……………………”

How can they breathe, torture their bodies, and gossip all at once?

Oblivious to me, they move on.

Hey…………..wait. What about Martha?


“It was as if striving had entered his bloodstream” – The Bat by Jo Nesbo

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Father’s Day

“My greatest achievement in life,

and I’m still trying to achieve it,

is to be a wonderful father to my kids”

Bo Jackson

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24 Hours

“The goal isn’t to live forever, the goal is to create something that will” – Chuck Palahniuk

In the last 24 hours we experienced a 4.4 earthquake – watched a historic, exciting Triple Crown winner – and our President flew to Singapore for a conference with NKO leader Kim Jong Un.

And then, in the 23rd hour I had the great fortune to meet Danielle. She was walking her pet Opossum on the trail. I had to stop and talk to her.

She was very open, quick with a warm smile, and engaging. Turns out she is a 2nd grade teacher in Tulsa as well as an animal rescuer. You guessed it – the opossum is a rescue.

You never know what you will learn from an encounter. Danielle informed me that:

Opossums don’t carry rabies.

They live about 3 years in captivity and less in the wild.

They eat tons of ticks every day.

And, they are wonderful pets.

So be nice to opossums. They are good guys.

We shook hands and continued on our separate paths. Danielle moved about 5 yards away and stopped. It was nice meeting you Bob she said.

Danielle – The pleasure was all mine.

God, I’m a lucky guy.

I think that my favorite animal is a baby possum, or a joey. The face of a really little joey is so divine – so, so gorgeous.” – Mem Fox

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“Can’t be afraid of death. Only afraid of the pain you go through to get to death”

Today, May 30, Gaby and I celebrated 50 years of marriage, to each other. Consecutively. Not someone else. No combination of several others. Just us. Don’t know how, but we did it.

Through the day we reminisced the many and varied moments we shared through the years.

One very painful and embarrassing moment I can’t shake is the time I challenged THE ZIPPER.

It was a warm spring day in Memphis, Tn. Circa 1977.

A carnival had come to town. A young man’s fancy and an old fool’s folly.

David, 6 or 7 at the time, heard about it and wanted to go in the worst way.

Seems he had heard about this really neat ride called THE ZIPPER.

He really wanted to ride it. And I, being the macho father that I am, wanted to go with him. Just to show him how it’s done. You understand.

His mother wasn’t too excited about the idea and would only acquiesce if we agreed to wait for at least 2 hours after we had lunch. Didn’t want us getting sick so she said.

Get serious woman. Men don’t get sick I said. We shall ride the beast and conquer it I said. I beat my chest for emphasis.

David and I raised our fists as we thundered out the door, our veins pumping with testosterone. To conquer the beast. Make a manly statement. Women. What the hell do they know?

A short drive and there it was, the carnival. We parked. We got tickets. And then, we sought out the monster. Suddenly …….. THE ZIPPER.

It seemed to mock all who would challenge. We watched and listened as it screamed and moaned through gut wrenching gyrations. Medieval torture.

I may have winced. Not sure. Probably just gas. But David, no fear in that boy. Just eager anticipation.

Let’s go Dad.

Yes. Yes. Of course. Let’s do this. Wait. David. Are you sure? Yes, of course you are. Just checking.

We rode that beast for 60 sickening seconds before I relieved my gut of that tuna fish salad I had for lunch. Just 45 minutes ago.

David didn’t fare much better.

On the drive home we vowed to NOT TELL his mother. We crossed our hearts and swore to keep our secret forever. Because you know, Momma would never let us forget it.

And I would be in the dog house for months.

Arrived home. Gaby asks how was it?

And David blurts out…….DADDY THREW UP BUT I DIDN’T.

He always was a Momma’s boy.

“There may come a day when I really need to lie, and then it might be handy if you think I’m honest” – The Thirst by Jo Nesbo

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