Posted Friday, July 30, 1999
Hello, and welcome to this edition of my diary. Some of you may have read the earlier edition. I have decided that since I will not have the time to write at length or on a regular basis here, I will restart The Oddball Papers (TOP) online with this being Volume 1, Number 1. I expect I may be able to write a new edition no more than 3 or 4 times per year. So I will not go into great detail generally, but just give a summary of events.
This year has been one of my worst ever so far. It began with me in excruciating toothache pain. That went on for several weeks and I went through a couple of bottles of Ibuprofen and a few other kinds of pain killers. For most people it wouldn't have been such a big deal having a toothache - you simply go to the dentist. But I have a very low tolerance for pain and through horrendous past experience I have learned that Novacain simply does not work on me as it should. The last coulple of times I went to a dentist, he shot me full of several syringes full of the stuff. My entire head felt like a huge dead pumpkin, except of course, for the one spot where the pain was. It had no effect there at all.
So, the only other option really was to go to an oral surgeon. The oral surgeon gives me a shot of something in the back of my hand and I go nighty-night until the whole extraction thing is over. Trouble is that the oral surgeon will not see people until they are referred to him by a dentist! One example of a sick and twisted capitalistic plot in my opinion. The reason it took so long was that I could not get either a dentist or oral surgeon appointment right away because I had no money and no insurance. Anyway, I finally got to the oral surgeon and got the 2 main problem teeth out (and one other one fell out while I was waiting).
My dear old mom suffered a fall, possibly due to a second stroke, in her apartment in January. She was not severely hurt, though she was very badly bruised and lay alone on her floor for several hours until a neighbor found her and called the paramedics. She spent a week in the hospital. The doctor said he would not release her to go home until he was assured that she would have someone to take care of her full time because he did not think she was capable of living alone any more. Again, because neither she nor I had any money or insurance (besides her Social Security and Medicare, etc.) to pay for a home nurse, it appeared the only option was to put her in a nursing home.
Since she had no family in this area besides me, and since she did have family in the Cedartown, GA area, I decided to put her there. I finally got her situated in a nursing home there in which she had a sister who was also a resident there, and in which some of her realtives worked. I had planned to visit her there at least monthly. It's a four hour drive one way from here. I managed to visit her in February and in March. After that, our old Chevy developed a slipping transmission and I didn't want to risk being totally stranded that far from home, so I didn't visit any more. I kept hoping to get the thing fixed, but other things went wrong with it, and I never could get enough money to get it fixed. As of this writing it is still slipping. I have some hope that a nephew might be able to put another transmission in for me but there is no guarantee on that.
Then there were the incidents. I had an explanation of them here for a short while but decided that just seeing them was more depressing that it was worth. Just suffice to say I experienced a couple of troubling and very painful incidents with some freethinkers. I hope to get all that behind me as soon as possible. If you want to know more about it order issues #9 and #10 of Pagan Palaver(PP).
I'm starting my own print publication called SOAR. You can get more details on it here. I really like doing the work of publishing a small magazine and I find it very rewarding to engage in dialogue and debate of issues of the day.
We are officially declaring bankruptcy - Chapter 13 it's called. Finally managed to get enough money to be bankrupt!
Then I got the news that my mother had died in the nursing home. You can read that story in the next section (below). After all that, I now find that I am diabetic. Even after 3 hours of hard work mowing the lawn and not eating anything for over 8 hours, my blood sugar level is twice the maximum that it should be. Normal is between 90 and 120. Mine is about 250. With as much trouble as we have trying to get all the medication, including diabetic suppplies, for Philis, it doesn't seem really likely we will be able to get any medication for me. So it may be that I will soon join dear old mom in the great "dirt sleep," another victim of EGoR.
So, you can see that this year has so far been just hunky damn dory, one bit of good news after the other (he said sarcastically). The only good thing I can think of right now that has happened this year is that I actually managed to get my own computer. For me, it is a lifesaver.
Wednesday, July 21, 1999, 1:00PM CDT. As I write these words, it’s now 2:00PM in Georgia. That means a small group of people are now gathered at a graveside at a little church in Felton, Georgia. They are there to engage in their usual religious rituals before lowering the body of my mother into the ground. A nephew, who I believe is a preacher, will probably say the same sorts of things that are typically said at such occassions, especially in the south. Things like, you don’t have to worry, she’s gone to a better place; you will see her again; She’s gone to be with Jesus, etc. There will probably be some mention of the Bible saying such and such, but I seriously doubt anyone will mention Ecclesiates 9:4-12. There are a couple of reasons why I am not there. The main one is lack of money.
On Monday morning about 10:00 AM I was sleeping soundly at home. I kept hearing an annoying pecking sound and wondered what it was. As I gradually became more awake I understood it was someone knocking on our back door. When I peered out the door I saw it was my sister-in-law. I woke my wife to go talk to her and I was trying to go back to sleep.
After a while my wife came back in. I wasn’t back to sleep yet and I asked what her sister wanted. She told me she was delivering the message that my mother had died. WHAM!!
I wasn’t really shocked, but only a little surprised. I had dreaded the coming of this day for some time. And now it was here. After a few phone calls I was able to determine that maw’s body was at Lester C. Litsey funeral home in Cedartown. I talked to a man named Trey there who said he would like to meet with me as soon as possible to make burial arrangements.
Our old Chevy still has a bad transmission and I wouldn’t trust it to take me that far and get me back home. My wife was able to get her mother to let me borrow her pickup truck. She went to a quick cash place and borrowed some money so that I could make the trip up there.
I arrived at Cedartown that evening and got myself a motel room. My nephew had wanted me to pick him up to go with me to the funeral home. I had stopped by his trailer in Buchanan and got him and his son. I visited with them for a while, then went to visit a few other relatives.
I managed to get about 4 hours of sleep. I picked up my nephew the next morning and we went to the funeral home. I answered all the questions I could about maw’s name, parent’s etc. There was some question about whether anyone would “say a few words” at her burial. My nephew suggested a cousin (maw’s nephew). I tried to think of some way out of that at first and didn’t make any commitments. Trey said she would be available for viewing about noon. My nephew and I went to the nursing home where maw had been living to pick up her stuff. I just got her little TV set and her old purse and a few knick-knacks. I told the employees there that I would donate her clothes to whomever may want them snce I had no need of them. Then the nephew and I went riding around some and ended up at the cemetary where his mother (my half-sister) and his brother are buried. We had a long talk there. I explained to him that I really wasn’t interested in listening to a preacher tell me the usual bullshit at my own maw’s funeral. I let him know that I was an atheist and explained some of the reasons why. I suppose he does have some belief in God and he says he prays now, but at least he does understand what some of my reasons are and he has learned enough tolerance (through his AA meetings he says) to be respectful of other people’s beliefs.
I went through the things that are most familiar to atheists; if God made the universe, then who made God? It’s an establised fact that matter can be neither created nor destroyed. The universe is made of matter. Therefore, it has existed eternally and had no need of a creator. If there were really such a thing as a soul that separated from the body at death medical science would have discovered it by now. The functioning of your brain IS you and when it stops functioning, you cease to exist. The Bible makes impossible claims like the sun standing still and moving backwards. We know such a thing didn’t happen because it violates the laws of nature. If the Bible has anything in it that’s wrong, then all of it is suspect. He listened and occasionally interjected that he didn’t understand a lot of what was in the Bible and a lot of the religious claims he’s heard do not make sense to him. But one has to be guided by his own heart he guessed.
After a while we went back to his trailer. Shortly a call came from Trey that maw was now ready. My nephew, his son and I went back to the funeral home. I braced myself, hoping that I would not have to deal with other relatives there. I genuinely like most all my relatives, and as far as I know they are are basically good people. And I know that they truly mean well when they come to you at a funeral and hug you and say things about how sorry they are and so on. I do appreciate the sentiment, but I can take only so much of that sort of thing.
Fortunately, no one was there. We all went into the parlor where maw was laid out. She looked good for a dead person. One niece had bought her a very pretty light blue dress with gold buttons. I told my nephew that she looked just as she had looked on several occasions when I went into her apartment in Ozark and found her taking a nap on her bed. On those occasions I would lean over her and kiss her on her forehead. Her eyes would open and her arms would come up to hug me. And I would give her a big hug, still enjoying the warmth, literally and figuratively, of my dear mother.
But this time, of course, there was no warmth. This thing in front of me did not open its eyes. When I kissed her forehead it felt like kissing a brick. Dead and cold and stiff as stone. My nephew was saying that he wished he had been able to come see her more often. He said she did see his granddaughter once. I was thinking how I wished I had been able to get to see her as well. I had not seen her since March. I didn’t trust the car to go that far. I had no money to fix it.