The Charlie Bravo Story

Remember your father as he was…

…not as the man he is today.

It’s been a rough week at the Casa, with dad spending too many late nights at the VA hospital dealing with the effects of dementia. I know what you’re thinking, that if we’re just now figuring out that dad doesn’t just have issues but has a lifetime subscription, we’re a bit late to the game, but this time I’m talking about his dad. Dementia and Altzhiemers are terrible conditions to have to deal with at the end of someone’s journey, as it’s hard not to let the most current uncomfortable memories obscure a lifetime of achievements.

So what do we do when you get a break from the insanity? Well, I don’t know about you, but we go for a ride. Dad and I let the motorcycles rest for a morning and took Miss Ellie the Ancient One for a little jaunt. One area where the old Subaru is lacking is her sound system, er, radio. While there is something endearing about the old buttons that you have to pull out then push in to preset what few stations you can pull from the sky, it limits the choices, to say the least.

As usual, the Saturday morning airwaves were polluted with self-righteous financial planners whose message is A, how much money do you have for retirement?, and B, which overpass have you chosen as your future residence in which to spend your golden years?

Whether its politics, religion, or financial planning, we’ve learned long ago to distrust anyone who touts an issue that only they can solve. As dad’s idea of planning for the future is leaving wadded up dollar bills in his pant’s pockets to be rediscovered later in a celebration of new found wealth, this caucophony of faceless, staticky voices only serves to remind him of his many inadequacies, so we do what we do best:

Turn them off.

Denial is much more than just a river in Egypt, and one that we seem to spend a lot of time navigating it’s muddy waters. Then I think about those lying in convalescent homes, more than willing, even desperate, to exchange their entire bank accounts for a little more time, or at least an unsolicited touch from another living being. I don’t care how much money you make, if your last shirt has pockets, take all you can take; we all go out with nothing, just like we came in.

Although the beginning and the end of any journey seems to get all the press, we know it’s what we do during those sometimes seemingly insignificant highway miles between the two that matter the most. When it’s all said and done, what defines us is not our jobs during that time or the manner of our passing that defines us, but how much we were willing to do for others.

The secret of happiness doesn’t lie in religious doctrines, political platforms, or any other agenda that serves to separate and not unify; The secret seems to lie in unselfish service to others. Before Jesus preached a single sermon, His years were spent healing the sick, comforting the feeble minded (there IS hope for dad!), touching the untouchables. It was only then that His previous actions caused people to receive his message.

Well, dad and I don’t aspire to be any sort of diety, but we can charge through what’s left of our time, not in pursuit of adventure, but always in search of the next cause, be it tiny or humongous, were we can make a difference.

And that’s what “Chark diem” is all about, as everyday outside of the crate is a good day.

Vaya con Dios…

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