Over the last decade or so, I have suffered from six job lay-offs (16 yrs. service), and like so many millions of American's who have lost jobs, I have taken my lumps and bumps along the way! After I was evicted from my apartment for not paying the rent, and being a veteran, I went to live and work at the VA Medical Center to try to get back on my feet. It was at this time, that many things crossed my mind, including if I was going to deal with the issue of death. This is a topic most people don't want to talk about. . . I don't, necessarily, want to talk about it either!
During the next several weeks, I spent part of my time reflecting on my life. . . what I had accomplished and so forth. How the issue of death came into my mind, I'll never know, but whether death for me comes this afternoon, or twenty years from now, I was going to have to deal with it. One thing I did not want if and when I am on my death bed, is “woulda; coulda; shoulda; in my life, etc. If there's any house-cleaning to do. . . I have to do it now! I want little or no regrets when I pass on. What was happening to me, is similar to the ads we hear on radio and television about pre-planning a funeral, etc.
Over several weeks, I decided to jot down some notes about some accomplishments in my life, and I thought it would help my in dealing with death. How? I didn't know!
* Good person: I've always been a good person. I have never hurt anyone and I have never been in jail for any reason.
* My integrity is not negotiable: I have never cheated and lied my way through life. You cannot take money and material things with you, but one thing is certain. I WILL take my integrity with me to the grave!
* Raising kids: For nineteen years, I helped to raise two boys, and both went on to graduate from high school, and then went on the graduate from college. Kevin in criminology and Jason in the medical field. I am proud of both of them.
* Substance abuse: I lived through the drug culture of the 1960's and 70's, and I had to decide if I wanted to be a part of it or not. I decided NOT to be a part of it. Some of my friends in the military who went into the drug culture, we had to part our ways. As of the year 2007, I have never taken illegal drugs of any kind. . . LSD; uppers; downers; marijuana. . . NOTHING! This is one of my greatest accomplishments.
* Quit smoking: I quit smoking in 1970 and I've not touched a cigarette since. It's one of the best things I've done for myself and those around me. To quit. . . took “mental toughness, " of discipline; sacrifice; determination; fighting off temptation and peer-pressure, etc. All these things helped in the future to lose weight; lower my blood pressure, etc.
* Jogging/losing weight: Unlike my father, who never took care of himself, and belly-ached all the way to the grave, my top priority has always been good healthcare, and to take take care of myself. To do this, I have had to get exercise on a regular basis. The year 2006, marks my 20th anniversary of jogging 15 miles a week since 1986 and pumping iron! I lost 40 pounds in 2001, and to do this takes the “mental toughness, " I spoke of earlier.
* “Tough Love": One of the toughest things I've had to do in my life, was to put one of my brothers (who is an alcoholic) in jail, for threatening to kill the family! Watching him being hand-cuffed and taken away by police that awful night, was almost unbearable for my mother and me! But, I think spending the night in jail, helped Ricky to turn his life around, and he eventually went on to live a productive life, and he went on to conquer alcoholism. (See: Ricky's Story: Alcoholism and “Tough Love!"
* Giving Back: Like most American's, I have given what I can to the needy; volunteered at the American Red Cross; Little League baseball; given to the children's hospital at Carrie Tingley; Rescue Mission and the Opportunity Center for the homeless. Part of my retirement time is spent volunteering.
* Website/articles: I certainly hope my website and my articles have inspired and motivated others in a positive way, and maybe put a smile on a face or two along the way, etc. I hope this will be part of my legacy to the world that I will leave behind.
* Humor: I have been in the humor for over 50 years, and I have put countless smiles on people's faces! Either through a joke; an anecdote; my wood carvings; my website; a captioned photo or graphic, or just being silly. My mission in life has been to help people and to make people happy!
I remember back on the old Merv Griffin talk show of the 1060's, when Merv told his audience what he wanted on his grave stone: “We will NOT be back after this commercial message!" Isn't that funny? I don't want a stone on my grave. Instead, I want a parking meter, which reads, “Time Expired" Isn't that funny?
"Hues Color Our Emotional and Physical Well-being:" This is the title of an article I read recently, on how color plays an important role in all of our lives, etc. Psychologists will tell us how color affects our lives. Schools, churches; hospitals; office buildings are painted in certain colors which can affect our mood, etc. After so many job losses, I've been in the black hole of depression longer than I would have liked. But, in thinking about my death. . . I do NOT want blacks and grays. . . and gloom and doom. . .in my world! I want cheerful colors like gold; silver; white; blue; red. . . I want a graceful and a dignified exit! And, that's in part, what I will try to focus on. . . the right colors in my life and in my death!
This is a short list of my accomplishments in life, because there's s-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o much more, but I think you get the idea! Another of my accomplishments, is what I'm going right here with this article. I'm addressing the issue of death in a private and public way! There may be people out there who have thought about the same things I have thought of, and are trying to deal with the difficult issue of death!
"They may forget what you said, but they will never forget how you made them feel. " Carl W. Buecher
Over the last few years, I have received hundreds of emails from all over the world with respect to my work and my website. And, after I was dis-connected from my website and the Internet for over 2 1/2 years, I received this email from a woman in Canada, who has one of my articles on her website. She writes:
"Jerry. . . I clicked on your site and read the article, Falling On Hard Times, and I felt bad that you faced the challenges that you did. But, now you are back, and your site will continue to grow. What you offer people is special and you do make a difference in this world of ours!" Catherine
I think that's what it's all about. . . if you're remembered for something positive. . . and what you have contributed to mankind, family, the needy, animals; the environment, etc.
What's amazing to me, is that after I worked and thought about this project for weeks, and wrote my list and my article, I don't feel as afraid about death as before! Amazing! You've done good, Jer. . . you've done good!"
Website name: humordoctormd - Over 150 colorful pages; over 300 graphics http://humordoctormd.homestead.com Writing Site: Author's Den; http://www.authorsden.com/humordoctormd email; email@example.com Copyright; Jerry L. Aragon (The Humor Doctor); 2007