Friday, April 29, 2011

The Way it Is

Dr. Craig Clanton
Today I was told my younger brother is losing his battle with cancer.   
He is dying.
It’s not supposed to happen this way.

My brother was always the most-athletic, most-fit, most-active of our four siblings. 

I was the oldest, then Craig, followed by our sister, and our youngest brother, an arrival when I was 12-years old.  

Dr. Craig Clanton
with sister-in-law
Darlene Clanton
Craig was the cheerleader, the hiker, the outdoorsman, the Boy Scout. Craig was among the first graduating class of the Texas A&M Medical School’s Country Doctor Program, and practiced medicine for the Scott & White Hospital System in Temple, Texas. 

Doctors aren’t supposed to get sick, right?
Certainly, not catch cancer.
It’s not supposed to happen that way.

Earlier in the day, the entire family was summoned to a cluttered conference room sandwiched between corridors on the Oncology floor of the hospital. Once assembled, Craig’s team of Oncology physicians stood before us and said there was nothing they could do for him but to make him as comfortable as possible until he passed.

Three physicians, collaborating with other cancer care specialists from around the country, representing hundreds of man-years of experience…coming up empty.
All the king’s horses and all the king’s men…etc.
It’s not supposed to happen this way.

Tonight I am sitting alone in the hospital room at the end of the hallway, with my dying brother lying in his bed. There are no beeps of telemetry monitoring his every twitch, no whooshing of oxygen feeding his nostrils; he’s tethered to an IV-drip and a catheter, sucking the last moments of life through a gaping mouth. 
The room is peacefully silent, save for his breathing.
It’s not supposed to happen this way.

I always assumed Craig would be the one to officiate at the passing of our parents. In his clinical way he would calm us by telling us clearly and frankly their time was over. No guesswork, no minced words, because that’s the kind of guy he is.

I imagined I, as the oldest, would be the first of our generation to pass on next, and figured Craig would be there, too, holding my wife’s hand, and comforting her as I slipped over (I was the one who contracted cancer first, and beat it.) Telling everyone what to expect and when…and if you wanted to listen, why and how.
That’s the way he is.

Dr. Craig and Carol Clanton
(Special thanks to Justin and Mollie Beam for photo)
My parents are heartbroken; no parent should have to bury a child, especially after 53-years of productive life. My sister-in-law is distraught with the awesome responsibility of dealing with her pending widowhood; my nieces and nephews are coping as best they can, realizing their Dad’s not going to be there for all the usual milestones in their lives: births of grandchildren, two more weddings to produce, and a college graduation to attend.
He won’t be here for those.
It’s not supposed to happen this way.

Our family is grounded in faith and a hope that we will one day all be reunited again in bodies that will not wrinkle or fade, muscles that will not tire, hairlines that will not recede, and which cancer cannot invade. Our grandparents have been waiting patiently for us, and a few cousins who crossed over before us, too.

Dr. Craig Clanton with Grandson, Keller.
(Special thanks to Justin and Mollie Beam for photo)
As Craig makes his own transition, I am comforted to know that he will be welcomed by loved ones, and while he is missed by loved ones here, we have additional incentive to meet up with him in Heaven.
That’s how it’s supposed to happen.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Ode to The Tax Man

You Know Who...

Tax Day is over, the filings are in,
unless you used Form 48-something 
your return to extend.

I’m tired of exclusions, inclusions and math,
and questions insipid like, 
how often I bathe.

The formulas for determining the taxes I owe
are little more than 
a deep exercise in woe.

I already paid out the nose all last year,
and to review it all now 
nearly brings me to tears.

Next Tax Season I’d like for the Tax Man to just
allow me to pay what I owe 
based entirely on trust.

My small contribution, if missed, would not bust the bank,
for Congress is well along 
in causing the economy to tank.

So thanks, Uncle Obama, next year I’m sending to you
My arm and my leg 
with a social security number tattoo.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Houston's Obamanation

Dear Mr. Obama:

You suck.

You have shown your true colors as little more than a feral political animal instead of a statesman with a cherishing sense of history, by allowing Houston, Texas to be passed over as the final destination of one of the remaining Shuttle Orbiters. History will judge you harshly for your myopia.

Certainly, Shuttle Atlantis should go to the Kennedy Space Center, debarkation point for every Orbiter that was ever hurled aloft. It was, after all, President John Kennedy who said America should go to the moon, not because it was easy, but because it was hard.

Absolutely, Shuttle Discovery should be enshrined in the Smithsonian Annex at Dulles Airport in Chantilly, VA., where millions may marvel at its massive grace.

Perhaps it is fiscally prudent to allow Shuttle Endeavor to remain in California after its final flight; after all, it’s expensive to fly those big 747’s all over the place, especially with a space shuttle strapped to its back. 
By the way, Mr. President, what DOES it cost to fly Air Force One to and fro these days?

Sending the final Shuttle, the prototype Enterprise, to New York City, however, it just inexcusable, and frankly, sir, unacceptable.

NASA Shuttle Prototype Enterprise
By ignoring 50-years of space exploration history, you have dishonored the men and women at NASA who gave their talents, time, and in some cases their lives, for the America’s Manned Space Program:

Thanks to another Democrat brother, NASA’s headquarters was placed in Houston. 
We named the place after him. 
Less than a decade later, “Houston” was the first word spoken from the Moon.

Thanks to you, Houston’s not going to be the last destination of a Shuttle orbiter. 
Not even the prototype. 
So we’re naming this decision after you: an Obamanation
Rhymes with abomination.

I am nominating this new word into the American Lexicon as defining “bone-headed decisions that defy all logic, reason, and common sensibilities, rendered to serve political interests, and to disrespect and disregard the will of the people.”

After your epic decision to ignore Houston’s myriad contributions to Space Exploration, the second thing to be defined as an “Obamanation” would be your Administration.  
Wear it with pride; you earned it.