Archive for January 11th, 2012

Back on December 14, my younger brother (Sean) called and I made a typically crude male joke about a recent “minor” procedure he just had to remove a sore on his tongue.  He’d had a similar procedure about five years ago, so it didn’t seem like a big deal.  His response shook me:  “Yeah, about that.  I’ve got cancer.”
Of course I didn’t believe him and thought he was trying to punk me with a riff off of my joke, but when I said, “Man, you’re just kiddin’.”  He replied, “No, really.  I just got off the phone with the doctor and they just got the biopsy back.”
I felt dizzy…
We spoke for a few moments.  I told him how much I love him and how I’m here if he needs anything.  He broke down crying and said he had to hang up now.
I waited about an hour and called back.  We talked some more and he sounded better.  He apologized for earlier and said he just had to get used to the news so he could move forward.
About a week later, I went to the doctor with him and his doctor said it was “good news, bad news”.  The good news was the earlier operation appeared to be successful and they got it all off of his tongue.  They took off a bit around it and there was no cancer there (more good news).  But just to be safe (the bad news), my brother really should agree to another – more lengthy – exploratory procedure in his neck (his lymph glands) to see if the cancer has spread.  The doctor was reassuring, saying it was probably only a 25% chance they’d find anything, but better safe than sorry.  He wanted to get my brother’s agreement so he could arrange for the surgery in early January.
Well, to make a longer story shorter, tomorrow is the procedure.  It’s supposed to take 6+ hours, so it’s not a trivial “nip-n-tuck”.
If you believe in God (and I do) or some ultimate force for good in the universe, please offer up a prayer for my little brother.  (He’s bigger than I am, but he’s still my “little” brother.)  If you don’t believe, just think a positive thought for him.  To quote John Coltrane:  “One thought can produce a million vibrations…”
I love you, Bro…

Sean and me at the Grand Canyon


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Duty, Honor, Country:
Those three hallowed words reverently dictate what you ought to be,
what you can be,
what you will be.
They are your rallying points:
to build courage when courage seems to fail;
to regain faith when there seems to be little cause for faith;
to create hope when hope becomes forlorn.
I possess neither that eloquence of diction,
that poetry of imagination,
nor that brilliance of metaphor
to tell you all that they mean.
The unbelievers will say they are but words,
but a slogan,
but a flamboyant phrase.
Every pedant,
every demagogue,
every cynic,
every hypocrite,
every troublemaker,
and I am sorry to say,
some others of an entirely different character,
will try to downgrade them even to the extent of mockery and ridicule.
But these are some of the things they do.
They build your basic character.
They mold you for your future roles as the custodians of the nation’s defense.
They make you strong enough to know when you are weak,
and brave enough to face yourself when you are afraid.
They teach you to be proud and unbending in honest failure,
but humble and gentle in success;
not to substitute words for actions,
not to seek the path of comfort,
but to face the stress and spur of difficulty and challenge;
to learn to stand up in the storm
but to have compassion on those who fall;
to master yourself before you seek to master others;
to have a heart that is clean,
a goal that is high;
to learn to laugh,
yet never forget how to weep;
to reach into the future
yet never neglect the past;
to be serious
yet never to take yourself too seriously;
to be modest
so that you will remember the simplicity of true greatness,
the open mind of true wisdom,
the meekness of true strength.
They give you a temper of the will,
a quality of the imagination,
a vigor of the emotions,
a freshness of the deep springs of life,
a temperamental predominance of courage over timidity,
of an appetite for adventure over love of ease.
They create in your heart the sense of wonder,
the unfailing hope of what next,
and the joy and inspiration of life.
They teach you in this way to be
an officer and a gentleman.
   —    Douglas MacArthur
General of the Army
From his speech to the Corps of Cadets at West Point
12 May 1962

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