I was just thinking
I've never wished a man dead, but I have read some obituaries with great pleasure - Mark Twain
The Cape Bear Light House at Murray Harbor Prince Edward Island has an amazing story of technology and Life and Death. It is the place that received the first distress signal from the Titanic as it was sinking. Great technology from the times sending a message of horror. How would you have liked to be the recipient of that message? Below are the Brooks Kids looking out over the Atlantic Ocean in 2009 with the Cape Bear Light House in the background.
You may think this title as pretty broad, but I was just thinking about a lot of issues and couldn’t narrow it down. Awhile back I read about the couple in Seoul South Korea who let their real baby starve to death while they cared for a virtual baby in an online game. My initial reaction is that of outrage. How in the world could this have happened. They said this couple had an “Internet Addiction” That seems a little light on the descriptive side when thinking that they let a life slip away as they toiled away on a computer game. We often talk in technology about how young people today are so good at multi-tasking. It seems this couple had too much of an singular focus while working away with their virtual world. Multi Tasking WAS NOT their strength. (Not that I really believe people do multi task, but that will have to wait for another blog entry)
Tom Coyner, Seoul-based author of "Mastering Business in Korea." Is quoted in the CNN report as saying about this baby killing:
"Consequently, it comes as no surprise to me that two people who were disconnected from society in general found a common psychological space that kept them physically and socially divorced from reality,"
I am quite sure outrage was included in the set of feelings I had when I walked into work that September morning and saw a smoking World Trade Center. Outrage could be part of the set of feelings we began to learn more about the plot and the source of the terror that occurred on American soil that day.
One of My Personal Journeys
I penned the first draft of this a couple years agoe while sitting in Springfield Colorado a tiny town in extreme Southeast Colorado. My sister and I during the past couple years have moved our mother into an assisted living facility, then to a Long Term Care facility and then to an Alzheimer facility. In that process you do end up talking about a lot of important things. To get to the point you do end up talking about life and death. I think my upbringing has led me to understand a little about this subject. Someone once said that “Farmers understand life and death and when we lose our agrarian population we will no longer understand life and death.” (I once heard this attributed to Thomas Jefferson but can find no evidence this is actually true. I guess I have been around a lot of farmers so I tend to agree they maybe more than anyone understands the cycle of life.
Anyway, during this process you get to forward mail and pay bills that your mother used to pay and basically do stuff that makes you sad and glad at the same time. Sad because a chapter of your life is coming to an end and glad because you know your mother will be safe.
At one point in these various discussions I had a fascinating talk with Kenton and Sandy Dykes of Dykes Memorial Funeral home in Walsh, CO The goal of the conversation was to set up a burial plan for my mother but our conversation rambled (in a good way) as I asked many questions . I asked whether they were seeing more cremations than in the past. They said yes for many reasons including cost and a change in culture. I have never had any intention of cremation as I certainly see value in the physical presence of the body during the funeral ceremony as it helps bring closure to the cycle of that person’s life, but it certainly is an interesting change in our culture.
I suppose this is a side story but essentially, in a place like Baca County Colorado everyone has some connection to everyone else. The FaceBook group "You might be from Baca County if..." pretty much proves this one. During our youth it may have been as distant as a small town sports rival. In reality it is often that one of our cousins married one of their cousins and thus the somewhat true perception that everyone is related. In this case the closest connection is that Sandy’s mom Nell Thompson boarded with my Grandma Brooks while attending school in Vilas Colorado. They lived way out in the country and although now in rural areas we don’t think too much about driving great distances each day they did what was probably the more sensible thing and arranged for her to live with my Grandma. My cousins from Vilas had always called Nell “Aunt Nell” I never really knew why. I guess another example of how you take things for their surface value. It just is what it is. We pulled up to Kenton and Sandy’s house in Walsh Colorado and the mortician was standing in the front yard in a Cowboy hat and Jeans. Most of you may think this all is a little unorthodox, but many of you will not understand unless you are from a small place such as Baca County Colorado. In case you were wondering Baca County is the southeasternmost of the 64 counties of the State of Colorado of the United States. The county population was 4,517 at U.S. Census 2000. The county seat is Springfield. Baca County was created by the Colorado legislature on April 16, 1889, out of the eastern portions of Las Animas County. Baca County was named in honor of pioneer and Colorado territorial legislator Felipe Baca.
We( me and my daughter Alexis) received a wonderful welcome and proceeded to the previously mentioned great conversation. Again more connections Kenton and his family had once visited with my family on Mom’s side about putting in a funeral home at the corner of Tenth and Tipton Streets in Springfield. I had not seen Sandy since I was probably a teen so we talked about a lot of things. One topic was the deaths of several of my relatives. I immediately said “1976” In the mid seventies it seem the Brooks side of my family endured an amazing stretch of heartache. I think I have this more or less correct and in sequence, but anyway one cousin Gary Alfrey was training racehorses and while getting horses into the gate to start the race he was kicked in the head. He was sent to Denver and of course his immediate family and my Aunt (my dads sister) and Uncle went to be with him. He did not recover and died and Uncle Lewie proceeded to have a stroke while there. So as the next week unfolded, on the day we buried Gary, Uncle Lewie died.
Meanwhile another cousin Rocky Brooks (my dad’s brothers son) had been battling leukemia. Pretty much every treatment option in the US had been exhausted and so Uncle Harold and Aunt Janie had taken Rocky to Mexico. Back in Vilas we had Uncle Lewie’s funeral and on the day we buried Uncle Lewie, Rocky died. One Family, 3 deaths One Week.
Sandy, who I guess would have been about the same age as Rocky, teared up as she recalled that she had a conversation with him not to long before his death in which he said he was ready to die and that he was just doing the Mexico treatment for his Mom. It is hard imagining a 17 year old going out so gracefully. It is pretty amazing the grace God can give a person and family in such a time. I guess I have always prayed I have the ability to be graceful in the death portion of life. It doesn’t always happen.
Among my questions, I of course was interested in what a funeral costs. The average funeral in the United States costs $6,500, according to the National Funeral Directors Association. OK again here is another small community connection. Kenton went to school at Panhandle State with my cousin Bill, who by the way refers to Kenton as “Digger”. You can read whatever you want into that name. As a practical matter of understanding small town etiquette, never, ever, ever, never, ever talk about someone as you may be talking about someone’s relative or friend.
Mass Death: Our Quest for the Titanic Burial Ground
Our ability to take life for granted is quite remarkable. It seems we must be reminded far too often about the preciousness of life by enduring huge disasters which involved the loss of a tremendous about of life. The story of the Titanic is familiar to many of us and a trip in the not to recent Brooks family past again reminds of that historically tragic event. The Brooks quest for the Titanic Burial Ground came quite by accident. While doing a little work for my previous employer,Western Oklahoma State College, I had the priveledge of visiting Nova Scotia. Upon completion of my visit with Kevin Quinlan at the Turo campus of Nova Scotia Community College it was suggested (by Kevin) that we visit the Titanic Victims Gravesite. Kevin told us, “Stop at any filling station and they will be able to give directions. This certainly sounded like an adventure so we decided even though we were short of time that we would take him up on it.
We did stop at a filling station and the British attendant had no idea and then goes..oh yea just go up this street. We did guess what wrong place. It was pretty cool. Well as cool as a cemetery can get. No really it was sort of spooky, as an old cometary should be. It was the Old Burying Ground Cemetary in Halifax Nova Scotia. The newest grave was 1844
As this was still not our destination we stopped in another shop and asked for directions. They pointed us to our next stop. We walked back to our van and drove and discovered a Canadian military cemetery. While standing outside this burial ground we asked a gentlemen, (it was just me and Lexi at this point as everyone else was exhausted and just wanted to stay in the van) who pointed us to a small bookstore on the corner about a block away. He told us, " Ask the older lady where it is. She will know. There will be some younger people, but don't ask them...they don't know anything." We proceed to the store and asked for the lady from the aforementioned young people, but as luck would have it she wasn't there. I heard the man's words, but didn't have anything to lose so I again asked "Do you know where the Titanic victim Graveyard is?" They said. No...but hey we can Google it(I told you this was a tech article). We may need to know this when the tourist season starts." Bingo as it turns out there is more than one site, but one of them was just a short distance from where we were. In a few short minutes we were there.