Saturday, October 27, 2007


War is an ugly thing, but not the ugliest of things. The decayed and degraded state of moral and patriotic feeling which thinks that nothing is worth war is much worse. The person who has nothing for which he is willing to fight, nothing which is more important than his own safety, is a miserable creature, and has no chance of being free unless made or kept by the exertions of better men than himself.

What are you willing to fight for? What would you be willing t o fight for? Where is your line in the sand? Or are we the Romans of a later age?

Friday, October 05, 2007


My grandmother passed away peacefully last night. She had a fever and brain swelling from the massive stroke Tuesday. The doctors said she wasn't in any pain and never suffered. I wish she could have died in her sleep peacefully some night at home, but this was the best outcome.

I called my father to see how things were, and I told him to make sure to tell my grandmother I wished I could be there. I also told him to tell her to not wait for me, it was ok. Five minutes after he told her, she stopped breathing and went to the next life.

I said I was her favorite, and her sister remarked how it's a Polish trait/tradition to wait until you've heard from everyone you want to before dying. I was the only one she'd travel with in her later years, and if she was being stubborn, I was the only one she'd listen to. Even when we went to eat, no matter who else was there, she'd insist on buying my meal, no one else's.

I'm glad I got a message to her, and I'm glad she didn't suffer. Most of all, though, I'm glad she was my grandmother and I'll miss her.

Wednesday, October 03, 2007


I've faced fear many times, and we all do day to day. But today I'm fighting the most paralyzing fear I know, the kind I can't fight back against.

My grandmother had a severe stroke yesterday. She's well into her 90's, lives on her own, and has worked so hard to get where she is now. But now she's in a sort of coma, and is paralyzed on her left side and can't speak. Details are still cloudy.

My mom spoke to her Sunday when we were in the car coming back from a weekend in Lake Conroe, TX for my cousin's wedding. She was fine, and looking forward to the coming week. I know these things are always shocking, but we had no indication.

I'm the youngest of 13 grandchildren, and to be honest, I was more likely than not the favorite. But I never told my grandmother how much of an inspiration she has been. She worked in sweatshops in Amsterdam, NY, getting paid by the handkerchief that she hand embroidered. Eventually, she went to night school to get her GED so she could get a job with the DMV in Albany. This way she'd have a small pension. And she never drove a car in her life.

We used to take her with us on trips in the summers, and Babi (pronounced Bop eee, a modified Polish word meaning grandma because my older cousins couldn't pronounce it right) also traveled extensively on her own. Europe, all of North America, you name it, she somehow got there. In more recent years she didn't go far, but we went to her. It was always fun to visit, as she had a very dry sense of humor, and always had a few great one liners.

Through all of this, she dealt with severe macular degeneration, and other ailments of age. I also look back on what she lived through. World wars, cold war, how many presidents, etc. Never did she show fear, only confidence and grace. All coupled to a slightly stoic but realistic attitude. Now I'm afraid.

Afraid that she won't recover. This is a fear I can't fight. I can only hope. In combat, you're scared, but you can shoot back. You at least feel like you're influencing events. Not so right now, and when all you have is hope, and nothing makes sense, a little faith doesn't hurt, either. Babi has taken care of me and said prayers for me my whole life. Now I need to take that role. Keep her in your thoughts, I'll be forever indebted.