On April 19, 2013, Ron West was taken by (or, from another vantage point, finally broke free from the clutches of) the same illness that took Jacques, Lewy body dementia.
My God, Ron was only 70. I’m just realizing that right now. I didn’t know him, but his wife of, now, 48 years, Marianne, and I met virtually in an e-mail support group that has been a lifeline for those of us taking care of spouses with “Lewy” (yes, we have been known to break into a chorus of “Lewy Louie”). We’ve witnessed one another’s struggles, provided practical tips and vital information, permission to be human and lose it from time to time, sources of faith, strength, and laughs . . . and most of us have stayed in touch even after “graduation.”
That’s how I found out Ron had passed, and that’s how I got to read this magnificent word portrait of him by his youngest son, Doug. I asked permission to share it here because it is just the essence of what you want a father to be and how you would hope to feel about your father. It just makes you love and admire the man, wish you’d met him, and feel that you have. Sail on, Ron. Thank you, Marianne and Doug.
* * *
You taught me the real meaning of Honor by living it every single day of your life and holding yourself to a higher standard than to where our world tries to tear us down. Honor is the most difficult when dishonor has become fashionable.
You taught me Compassion by your actions towards all the things that needed that little extra helping hand; especially that tiny, awkward and misshapen runt that had choked on a piece of big-dog food. I watched you furiously fight to remove the blockage and then breathe life back into its limp form. You named him Lucky when you set him down on the ground and he wobbled over to stand on your shoe. That very same puppy you had rescued a few days earlier, along with its brothers and sisters, when the wood shed flooded from a terrible rain. With lightning striking, you laid yourself down in a pool of water and reached under the wall of the shed to pull out pup after pup, refusing to give up until the entire litter was safe.
You taught me Patience, Forgiveness, Wisdom and Worthiness, by taking the time to be sure that I knew precisely what I did wrong, why it was wrong and how it can hurt others, but most importantly ourselves. It wasn’t until I was long grown that I was able to look back and remember those two to three hour long lectures and see that you spent the majority of any free time you had available striving to being certain that I knew right from wrong.
You taught me Love by hugging me tightly every night and never being afraid to tell me you loved me every chance you got. I remember the many times while I was in chronic pain, you would sit with me, my head on your lap and your strong, callused hand gently rubbing my back. At my darkest moment, you turned a two hour distance into less than an hour, just to sit with me. I don’t even think we said ten words, but your presence drove away the darkness.
You were never boastful and you were never cruel. You were a lion facing our fears and a lamb facing our sorrows. You could thunder wrath, crack your quick wit and smile whenever we were nervous or frightened and nothing could ever hurt us.
You were the oak that stood strong during all of our storms and your roots will hold our ground together forever.
Thank you for being my Dad! I will love you always!
~ Douglas West (Colorado Springs, CO)
As something of the Official Bostonian on this site, I have had a few things to say about the Marathon bombing and its aftermath. Now, however, I’m done, and I won’t importune you any longer. But I do want to say one more thing—not that it’s original in any way. That is, this horrible event and the following week gave many of us a view of news reporting we might not have had otherwise. There have been some unexpected bright spots of sheer competence, but far more sinkholes of inadequacy.
Don’t worry. I’m not going to complain about them, not even the bloviating sophisticates in New York and other international locations who have no clue about life in Boston but write about it anyway.
No, I’m going to leave the subject with a quote from Garrison Keillor. Years ago, he was in the midst of controversy, mostly with the St. Paul, Minnesota Pioneer Press (“Gastric Distress” as Keillor called it), and mostly about his morals. I recall him saying something like the following on his radio show:
If you know the reality of a situation, the relationship between truth and a newspaper is like the relationship between the color green and the number seven. Occasionally you will see the number seven written in green, but you learn not to expect this.
I’ve seen a few green sevens, mostly painted in Boston, but far more blue, red, polka-dot and paisley ones than I like to think about. Time to pick another number.
For those set a-worrying about Miranda warnings and Constitutional rights, there is this little PDF. I know—it could all be made up and a sham, as an army of conspiracy theorists are saying everywhere on the internet. But just for the sake of argument, let’s pretend this actually happened:
ADDED: At the same moment yesterday this indictment was being presented in as prompt and vanilla-flavored a way as possible in a hospital room, I walked into the cafeteria at work. The TVs were on CNN, showing three pinch-faced talking heads on a three-way split, all decrying the lack of Miranda warning and what a terrible violation of rights this was, and that the Justice Department was not even going to allow defense counsel, and how could the Judiciary, of all branches, go along with this, and how terrible, terrible this all was, and we all should fear for our inalienable rights that
George Bush…er…well…um….you know…(Obama) was letting people trample on, etc., etc.
Sometimes, the Theme of the Day doesn’t quite work. But, hey, there’s always tomorrow.
Sorry to sprawl on valuable real estate, but this is where our transcript gets good, if vanilla-flavored:
MR. FICK: Good morning, your Honor. William Fick
for Mr. Tsarnaev.
THE COURT: And you have had an opportunity to
speak with him?
MR. FICK: Very briefly, your Honor.
THE COURT: So you have your lawyers here.
THE DEFENDANT: (Defendant nods affirmatively.)
THE COURT: Mr. Tsarnaev, I am Magistrate Judge
Bowler. This hearing is your initial appearance before the
Court. We are here because you have been charged in a
federal criminal complaint.
At this hearing, I will advise you of your
constitutional and legal rights. I will tell you about the
charges against you and the penalties that the Court could
impose if you are found guilty.
You have been charged with (1): Use of a weapon of
mass destruction, in violation of 18, United States Code,
Section 2332a(a); and malicious destruction of property
resulting in death, in violation of 18, United States Code,
Mr. Weinreb, what are the maximum penalties?
MR. WEINREB: Your Honor, the maximum penalty on
each count is death, or imprisonment for any term of years,
THE COURT: Is there a fine?
MR. WEINREB: A fine of up to $250,000.
THE COURT: I will tell you about your right to
counsel, and I will consider conditions of release pending
further court proceedings; that is, whether or not you
should be detained and what amount of bail should be set.
This is not a trial, and you will not be called upon to
answer the charges at this time.
If at any time I say something you do not understand,
interrupt me and say so; is that clear?
THE DEFENDANT: (Defendant nods affirmatively.)
THE COURT: All right. I note that the defendant
has nodded affirmatively.
As a first step in this hearing, I am going to tell you
about your constitutional rights.
You have the right under the Constitution of the United
States to remain silent. Any statement made by you may be
used against you in court, and you have the right not to
have your own words used against you.
You may consult with an attorney prior to any
questioning, and you may have the attorney present during
Counsel will be appointed without charge if you cannot
If you choose to make a statement or to answer
questions without the assistance of counsel, you may stop
answering at any time.
This right means you do not have to answer any
questions put to you by law enforcement agents or by the
Assistant United States Attorney, Mr. Weinreb.
I want to make it clear. You are not prohibited from
making statements, but that if you do, they can be used
against you. You are not required to make a statement at
this initial appearance, and any statement you do make may
be used against you.
Finally, if I ask you any questions here in this
hearing or at any future hearing which you think might
incriminate you, you have the right not to answer.
Do you understand everything I have said about your
right to remain silent?
THE DEFENDANT: (Defendant nods affirmatively.)
THE COURT: Again I note that the defendant has
As I said earlier, you have the right to retain
counsel, to be represented by counsel, and to have the
assistance of counsel at every critical stage of these
You have the right to an attorney at this initial
appearance, during any questioning, at any lineup, and at
all proceedings in court.
You also have the right to have this Court assign
counsel if you cannot afford counsel or if you cannot obtain
Can you afford a lawyer?
THE DEFENDANT: No.
THE COURT: Let the record reflect that I believe
the defendant has said, “No.”
I have provisionally appointed the federal defender,
Mr. Fick, to represent you in this matter….
What is a poor pundit to do when a Federal Judge reads this defendant his rights and has the temerity to release a transcript that gets posted on the internet?
Maybe wait 24 hours and make up something new?
Along with Kevin Cullen’s Boston Globe article I linked in the last post, this, to me, is an important piece. There is anger, but a refusal to hate, a Christian understanding of evil, the possibility of repentance, and what needs to be done, in fact, to keep everyone safe.
This, especially for non-New Englanders, is a must-read. I’ve commented on how tough it can be for newcomers in the Boston area. As a newcomer myself 30-odd years ago, I can tell you stories. But one point of Kevin Cullen’s piece is that the Tsarnaev brothers settled in Cambridge, one of the most open and welcoming places in the US. They did not find themselves in some tight little neighborhood, like I did, where nobody had moved in or out for 100 years, very common in Boston and environs when I showed up.
Of course, many things have changed in 30 years, one of which is Cambridge has gotten even more open and welcoming, for all the good it did here.
I hope this story stays up for a while. Linked to what is usually a paid newspaper site, it might not.
It wasn’t an unpopular teenage loser living in his mother’s basement. It was a straight A medical student. It wasn’t an assault weapon, or even a gun. It was a bomb made of kitchen appliances and stuff you can buy at a hardware store.
After the school shooting, my Facebook page was covered with liberals ranting about gun control and psychological profiling. The idea was that preventing angry young men from buying guns, and making sure they are drugged into apathy, would keep school children safe.
People like to feel they can do something to prevent these horrors. That is understandable. But I don’t believe you can. They don’t happen often, but they will happen. This world is never going to be safe.
- Is it just me, or have others noticed a distinct improvement in the quality of homeless people and beggars lately? I haven’t been downtown in a few months, but the last few times I went it seemed that the homeless people hanging out around Lake Eola and the main library were younger, neater, cleaner, more organized and clearer of eye than previously. The other day leaving Sam’s a beggar was working the exit of the parking lot. He was better dressed than I was, frankly, his sign stated that he had been out of work and had two children to support, and he was selling water. He had probably bought the water at Sam’s from the look of the case. I didn’t see his price, but if he was selling them at a dollar a bottle he stood to make 80 to 90 cents profit on each bottle. Sell ten or so in the hour and you’ve just earned minimum wage. Don’t, and you’ve spent an hour standing in the hot sun for nothing.
- The main character in the children’s show Dino Dan is clearly having a psychotic breakdown – and none of the other characters seem the least concerned about it!
- My wife and I should have had children at least ten years earlier.
- Colgate Total Advanced toothpaste is apparently made with catnip.
- How the Hell did I get so old?
Just to let you all know…I’ve been a bit out of the loop due to illness. And now, with extra leg edema! Nearly everything is going poorly, except things at gym. I’m getting better at the various exercises, and I’m enjoying the stressing of myself without the fear of dropping a barbell on my foot!
Hmmm….there is some weight loss, also.
My friend and daily confidante Amy Moyle will be visiting soon…Hopefully, we can have a bit of fun when she arrives.
I miss you all very much, and cannot wait until I am freed from this horrible situation!
“Like a raging inferno of Norwegian cheese, Carlsen has held the world in rapt attention since his arrival on the scene.”
That’s the opening line of a profile of the young Norwegian Grand Master Magnus Carlsen, who just qualified to face World Champion Vishwanathan Anand for the Chess championship of the world.
I have no idea what a raging inferno of Norwegian cheese is.