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Author Topic: Thanksgiving  (Read 685 times)
Clarke Echols
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« on: November 25, 2006, 05:22:13 PM »

I'm a bit late for the day, but I decided to kick this out where it won't get lost in the soup of
responses to other postings.  I was reading of board participants being alone and wanted to
chime in a bit from another angle.

Ed, if you come north from Walsenburg, look me up when you get past Denver.  We're only
5 miles west of I-25 exit 255 -- straight shot and one left turn.  I'm in the phone book.

We spent Thanksgiving with my oldest daughter and her family.  Our other kids were there
along with all the grandkids, except for my second daughter and her two daughters.  That's
a total of 8 kids, 9 grandkids, one of two sons-in-law, and one almost son-in-law (4 weeks away)
plus me and my wife -- 21 in all.  We passed our 40th anniversary last summer.  Many years ago
when our kids were young, a backhoe operator told me how wise we were having a large
family.  He said when we got to his age, we'd be very glad, despite the trials and difficulties
raising them because many of his friends who didn't want children or stopped with one or
two were the lonliest people on earth (he had at least 5 or 6 kids of his own).  He was right.

A few months ago, one of my college professors (from 1967 or so) commented about how
wise we had been in raising a large family.  His wife died many years ago, and his two kids
are spread out so he rarely sees them.  He was commenting about the number of cars
around our home all the time (we'd be public enemy #1 if we lived on a cul-de-sac in
a tight neighborhood Smiley ).

So we are indeed blessed.  But I am also aware of the lonely people out there who have
no (or few) opportunities to be with loved ones.

Earlier this year, I was asked by a couple of local church leaders to check on the needs of a man
who was having difficulty with his fifth-wheel camper.  He had a non-functioning water pump.
I did. In the process, I discovered that he was severely disabled, his 5th-wheel was parked
in a storage yard because he had no money for RV park rent, he had no medications or medical
care, and was living in his pickup when the storage lot was closed (open 8-5, Mon-Sat).

One week he disappeared, and I was quite concerned about his welfare.  When I found him
a week later, I insisted he was coming home to live with us (without my wife's advance
permission) because I was tired of worrying about him.  Boy did I learn a lot!

We have taken in homeless strangers before, and I had sworn I was through helping people
(because I always get taken for a ride, it seems), but it seemed the right thing to do.

After several days of his story telling of his life and adventures, my wife came to me privately
and asked, "Is this guy for real?!"  She was having trouble believing half of what he was
telling us.  I told her he had to be.  He was getting into far too many technical subjects where
I have a lot of experience and could never pull a con of that magnitude on me.

He was in a car crash in Phoenix about 5 years ago.  He was a successful photographer who
had a nation-wide reputation and was very good at what he did.  He was in a small car (to
save gas) and was broad-sided by a 1-ton Ford pickup driven by an unlicensed 17-year-old
who had stolen his dad's pickup.  The kid passed two cars stopped at the stop sign and
blew the intersection at about 60 mph and hit our new friend.  It took an hour and a half
to cut the car apart and get him out.  Two months later he awoke from a coma, and
two months after that they tried to move him but couldn't.  An MRI showed his back
broken in 5 places.  He broke both legs and both ankles, and several ribs were broken
and caved in by the steering wheel.  He has a multitude of health problems, including
congestive heart failure for many years, and while he was in the hospital, his employees
emptied out his business premises, sold all of his equipment, depleted his bank account,
conned his partner out of a half-million dollars and several of his partner's friends out of
a combined several million more and disappeared to eastern Europe.

The pickup was searched at the accident and they found a pound of cocaine and a pound
of marijuana, but didn't press charges because they couldn't prove who "owned" the
dope.  The kid's dad paid a $7500 traffic ticket to the city of Phoenix.  He was in and out of
the hospital and clinics for several years and the dad's insurance company paid $2M in expenses,
though the policy was written for only a small fraction of that amount.  The dad owned a
business in the Phoenix area.

So who is this friend?  Mark Miller, one of the best-known school photographers in the business
and a good friend of Ansel Adams who was also a school photographer (each, apparently,
claimed the other was the best in the country).  His grandfather, who raised him in his
early years, was a petroleum engineer, so at the dinner table were frequent guests,
including Howard Hughes and J. Paul Getty.  He knew Walt Disney because of his
grandfather, and saw the model of Disney World/Epcot before the land was even bought
in Florida.  He lived in Tahoe and knew the cast of the TV series Bonanza.  He also ran a
wedding chapel in Tahoe.  His grandfather's brother was governor of Texas (John Connally)
and shot when Kennedy was shot in Dallas.  He has some knowledge of that event that has
escaped public scrutiny because the feds confiscated a publication appearing in the following
weekend Dallas paper.  He had four copies of the confiscated and destroyed "evidence" but it
was lost in the disposal of his possessions by his former employees.

He has "died" and returned several times so he has first-hand knowledge of what awaits when we
leave mortality.  But what is particularly interesting is that though he is in constant and severe
pain, he always has a smile on his face and a positive, uplifting attitude about life, and bears
little animosity toward so many who have wronged him.  When he left this life, he
was told he had to return because he wasn't yet finished with his work he was sent here
to do, though his family was waiting for him on the "other side".

So another thing we're thankful for is the privilege of helping another person who, like
some before him, can honestly say they'd be dead today were it not for our taking an
opportunity to make a difference in their lives.

Sometimes we find life is difficult (it's *supposed* to be -- that's one of the purposes of
this experience!), but I feel richly blessed by Providence when I see what real problems are.
If you're ever feeling life is unfair, I have a suggestion:  Take a walk through any large
children's hospital.  It will put your troubles in a much better perspective.

Many years ago, I heard a man say, "The purpose of life is to build character, and you cannot
build character unless you involve yourself in a positive manner in the lives of other people."
I believe that to be a true principle.

Happy Thanksgiving, and upcoming Merry Christmas to all!

Clarke
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Nick Badame Refrig/ACC
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« Reply #1 on: November 25, 2006, 07:37:18 PM »

Great story Clarke..

You are indeed a blessed person. You should be proud of yourself!

Keep doing what you are doing.

Nick Badame-
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« Reply #2 on: November 26, 2006, 05:19:30 AM »

Clarke, thanks for sharing that story.  Before I retired, I frequently transported ederly patients to the hospital. If the patient was stable, I tried to engage them in conversation to take their mind off of the present event they were experiencing. I would ususally ask them where they grew up, what kind of work they had done, etc.  I was always amazed at the life experiences of these people. I found out from one of these patients Dr. when we arrived at the hospital, that he had been one of the chief engineers on the Manhattan Project. One patient I will always remember was a gentleman that had been an amputee for many years. We transported him to the hospital on 6/6/05. I asked him what had happened to his leg. He told me he lost his leg 60 years ago that day on Omaha Beach. I told him I was honored to have had the pleasure to meet him. If one takes the time to listen, you will be amazed at the "life stories" you will hear.  No matter how bad we think we have it at times, there are always others that have endured much more.  Jack
« Last Edit: November 26, 2006, 05:22:13 AM by JackConrad » Logged

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