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Bear Growls: Mortality

Christ Defeating Death

He had been to touch the great death, and found that, after all, it was but the great death.

Stephen Crane, The Red Badge of Courage

 

 

Our bruin friend at Saint Corbinian’s Bear had a recent reminder that bears do not live forever:

 

 

The evening before last, the Bear was lounging in front of his computer screen, when suddenly moderately severe chest pains struck. He waited for two minutes (having read somewhere that you should act on any chest pains that last longer than two minutes). Then he got up on his hind legs and announced to his driver, bodyguard and factotum, Red Death that we were going to the Veteran’s Administration Hospital ER right now.

 
After what might have been a sketch from the Three Stooges, with a special appearance by Buster, the Yorkie, who insisted on accompanying his master, Red Death and the Bear’s son managed to get the stricken Bear into the car.
 
During the thirty minute drive from the goat pastures of Zoar to the VA hospital, the Bear had to face the possibility it might be a one-way trip.
 
He pulled out his rosary and prayed it.
 
He contemplated his sins.
 
He was sorry.
 
He didn’t feel confident about judgment.
 
He regretted the drama of it all, as he imagined a medical team swarming all over his furry body, his family disrupted and grieving.
 
He told Red Death that he was open to massive employment of morphine if it came to it, short of hastening his death. (The Bear is a chicken, and Bears never turn down opiates.)
 
At the ER, they did an ECG. They drew blood. They put a line in. They hooked him up to a monitor. They gave him four baby aspirin to chew. The Bear asked for some diazepam. (Due to being frequently tranquilized by humans, the Bear has developed an appreciation for benzos.) His request was granted.
 
The Bear amused himself by making his blood pressure go up by picturing the Pope, and then making it go down by not. Seriously. He considered that the Pope might be hazardous to his health. He was, in fact, writing an ephemeris article about the Pope when he was afflicted.
 
He was ignored for an hour and a half, then they came in and took some more blood. The Bear was encouraged that otherwise they seemed have have forgotten about him.
 
Finally, a nurse came in and said everything was perfectly normal, and the Bear had not had a heart attack, and could leave. It was anticlimactic. Follow-up appointments were made with Cardiology.
 
This was a good way to start off Lent. Dust thou art and unto dust shalt thou return. Who really plans for their death? It seems to the Bear that making it up as he went along was not the best way of preparing himself. Perhaps the Bear will develop this issue.

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11

The Pope, The Clown and The Cross

 

skelton_pope

(I originally posted this on September 28, 2009 and it has always been one of my favorites.  I am reposting it now since I assume many current readers of the blog have not read it, and, with the recent death of my son, Larry, it now has a special meaning for me.)

 

 

 

In 1957 comedian Red Skelton was on top of the world.  His weekly comedy show on CBS was doing well.  He had  curtailed the drinking which had almost derailed his career.  Not too shabby for a man who had started out as a circus and rodeo clown and who was now often called the clown prince of American comedy.  He and his wife Georgia had two beautiful kids:  Richard and Valentina Maria.  Then the worst thing in the world for any parent entered into the lives of Red and Georgia Skelton:  Richard was diagnosed with leukemia.  Unlike today, a diagnosis of leukemia in a child in 1957 was tantamount to saying that Richard was going to die soon.  Red immediately took a leave of absence from his show.  CBS was very understanding and a series of guest hosts, including a very young Johnny Carson, filled in for Skelton during the 1957-1958 season.

Red and his wife made two decisions.  First, they decided not to reveal to their son how ill he was;  if  worse came to worst they wanted him to enjoy the time he had left.  The boy’s leukemia was temporarily in remission and outwardly he appeared healthy.    When the boy saw “The Last Days of Pompeii” on TV and was fascinated by it, his mom and dad made their second decision.  They were going to take him and his sister to Europe so the boy could see Pompeii and other parts of Europe and the world, and to allow the parents to consult with foreign physicians and also to conduct a pilgrimage for their son.  The Skeltons were Protestants, indeed, Red was an active Mason, but they had chosen to educate their kids at a Catholic school and Richard was very religious, his room filled with religious pictures and statues.  Like many Christians of whatever denomination, in their hour of utmost need the Skeltons decided to seek aid of the Catholic Church. Continue Reading