This blog,originally founded by Blogger, who is listed in Marquis Who's Who and is a recipient of the Albert Nelson Marquis Lifetime Achievement Award. He holds a theological degree and a doctorate in Counseling Psychology. Taught Psychology for 32 years and is now Professor Emeritus. Is a board-certified psychologist and was awarded the Lifetime Achievement Award in his profession. Ministered as a chaplain, and pastored Baptist and Episcopal churches. Publications cover the integration of psychology and theology. Served in the Army, the Merchant Marines and the Peace Corps.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Free To Choose

We get bogged down with day to day politics and we should given the state of the world these days. I was all set to post some new threads (and I will) about Goldman Sacs as well as the Blago redaction thing. Then I read "Reader's" comment. It had a link. I always check out Reader's links, actually I look at any link any commenter posts. Some out of a sense of duty and some with eager anticipation. When Reader posts a link, it's the latter. The story moved me.

In February of 2009 my uncle Steve died. He was 64. He was an accountant. He went to work that Monday morning and when he came home he died instantly of a massive heart attack. He wasn't overweight and we thought he was in good health.

My mother, brothers, sister and I were left to go through his belongings. He never married and lived alone in a very small house on his seven acres in Gainesville Florida. He was amazing. His passion was knowledge. He had built bookshelves everywhere. You had to turn sideways to squeeze through those shelves to get from his only chair to the bedroom. Books were stacked literally from floor to ceiling over every square inch. He did not attend church but was a very spiritual man. He must have had 100 bibles from every religion. He had screenplays, dictionaries, encyclopedias, sports books, classics, music, psychology and on and on and on. It was scary. It is hard to understand how anyone could live the way he did: alone with no creature comforts, just books. As we went through the books we discovered that every single one was highlighted, had notes in the margins or bookmarks. He read them all. It's hard to explain. Take my words, imagine and multiply by 100 and you just might get close.

My point? Uncle Steve just like "Dugout Dick" lived the life they chose. They both were guided and comforted by faith. That privilege should not be taken for granted.

In this moment of introspection it seems a bit unseemly to bring up politics, so I won't. Reader's contribution however should remind all of us what's at stake. For me it's uncle Steve but I feel confident we all have a "Dugout Dick" that we may not completely understand. They are a symbol of our freedom. They are a reminder to leave the world a better place than we found it. They are a blessing.


Sarkazein said...

Great reading H.D.
Your story and Readers link verify the importance of freedom of choice. Tell a little more about your uncle and what he did for a living, and what did you do with all the books. Remember huge checks were found in some of Einstein's books being used as book markers.

I have a friend, a hardcore hard living former Marine, that just went off the grid. He bought some acreage in Hawaii and is building a self sufficient home/farm from cargo containers. He has his 15 year old son helping him build it out as they live on the land, and his wife is waiting to join them when it's livable. Solar, water collection, generator, vegetables, chickens, a still, and tobacco plants. He runs his business by lap top.

Reader said...

What wonderful stories HD and Sark. Thanks for sharing.

Makes a person think about what is important in life. the men in your stories, think being self-sufficient is the answer. I happen to agree and respect them for their "choice".

HD, your uncle sounds like he was proud of you. Makes you feel good doesn't it?

Sarkazein said...

H.D- That last paragraph was a loud laugh.

Honest Debate said...

Sark and Reader,

I probably got a little carried away with some of the presonal stuff about my uncle. I'm comfortable with you guys but I'm having second thoughts about putting it out for the world so I've removed all but the fiddle story.

My family is spread out far and wide. A couple of years ago we started emailing each other by the "reply all" option. Mom, dad, brothers, sister, cousins, nieces, nephews and uncle Steve. It was kind of cool. One of my nephews found some old pictures in my sisters attic and sent them via reply all to us. One was a newspaper article with my picture at 12 years old. I out grew my violin and donated it to an under privileged black kid. I was famous! The kids name was Richard Aycox. Now the story.

The emails were flying in anticipation of our getting together for New Years Eve in Vero Beach. Everybody was talking about the picture and my generosity. Here's what I replied:

"Yea, the picture is noteworthy because it was my last linguini-spined liberal gesture. It vaunted me to hero status at a young age but it was no skin off my did make everybody feel good."

Uncle Steve replied with this:

"Gregg, don't put your gesture down so fast. A quick Google search of Richard Aycox, the recipient of your violin reveals a telling picture. Richard Aycox, Provost of the University of Washington, guest violinist of the Seattle Philaharmonic has taken your gesture and run with it. His wife, Vanessa heads the Northwest Pacific States foundation of Fiddles Around which donates used and new violins to youngsters in need. As of October, 2008 they have donated over 7,500 violins and don't plan stopping any time soon. The Northwest Pacific States Foundation covers Washington, Oregon, Alaska and Hawaii. Even Barack Obama's younger cousin has received a Fiddles Around violin. The records reveal that in Alaska, Sarah Palin's oldest daughter, Bristol, ( I think she gave birth to a boy today) also received a Fiddles Around violin. Would you believe how small the world is, Bernie Machen, President of the University of Florida knows Richard Aycox from when he was at the University of Utah. They used to meet at the Western State Universities Conferences. Richard Aycox got Bernie interested in his Fiddles Around Foundation and Bernie's wife, I forget her name, maybe Renee or Justin or possibly Eric will know, anyway, she is the president of the Florida Fiddles Around Foundation, headquartered in Gainesville. Gregg, I understand that there is no representation for Fiddles Around in Georgia, South Carolina or North Carolina. I would suggest that you either write Fiddles Around at 311 N. W. 15th Terrace, Gainesville, FL 32611 or phone them at 1-800 553-5555 and see about starting a chapter in North Carolina. Just a suggestion, since you won't be building your bridge for a while. Good luck.


My family went nuts. When I got to Vero an hour before the New Year it was all they were talking about. My sister even cried. Steve arrived the next morning and confessed he made the whole thing up! He punked us. You'd have to know Steve to appreciate how out of character that was. The punking was totally complete. Every one of us swallowed hook, line, sinker, pole and boat. We spent an awesome few days and all went home. That was the last I saw Steve. Six weeks later he was dead.

guy faulkes said...

HD, we have a lot of similarities. While I can not play anything but the radio, I love music. The other similarity is our uncles.

Mine went to the third grade. He was a veteran of the Second World War.

He could quote Shakespeare, Service, and Kipling word for word. He loved science fiction and always said it was a precursor to science fact.

He loved history. It was he that first taught me you cannot know where you are going if you do not know where you have been.

When we went to the school library as kids, we always had a list of books to pick up for him.

This was the man that taught me how to appreciate all kinds of writing and how to hit a five gallon bucket at 500 yards with a surplus Mauser. As I said before, he gave me his copy of Ivanhoe while teaching me proper breath control in the prone position.

He also taught me you did things for others because you wanted to and that you should not expect thanks or recognition for helping others. We used to cut wood for people that needed it and deliver it to their homes when no one was home. He said it was easier on them and us if we did it that way.

You and I had it good. Some people are luckier than others.

Reader said...

HD, have you ever played with Jeff Little? I've never seen another piano player quite like him.

guy faulkes said...

The only person that can come close to Jeff Little playing "Last Date" is Floyd Cramer.