5-13 Funeral

I am deeply thankful to everyone who came to the funeral on Sat. My mother departed this life on 5/6 approx. 11 a.m. after continued attempts at recovery through transfusion. Her passing affected her spouse and descendants in different ways. In the end, everyone came together and remembered her with the utmost candor and respect.

I thank my siblings for all being present and open with their feelings, thoughts, and memories. I thank my siblings-in-law for their many contributions, aid, good food, and steadiness and warmth. I thank my mother’s youngest sisters for their immediate assistance during a difficult time and for creating a reliable transition in family affairs. I learned for the first time that one of them helped raised me from my beginning in this existence. I thank my oldest aunts, great aunts, and elder relatives in attendance and whose powerful expressions of care and compassion went far to heal many who were there.

I greatly appreciate Chaplain Cole for his great sermon and eulogy, powerful and memorable words of encouragement. The Army Honor Guard detail did an excellent job in honoring my mother’s service and it bore special meaning that a female guard was leading the detail. My great thanks to the VFW for allowing us all to gather at the VFW Post and celebrate her life with food and conversation.

It was truly great to see my cousins who often were in counsel with my mother. Their presence was deeply reassuring. I was also glad to see people I hadn’t seen for decades but with whom I had instant connection. Relationships can heal. Love is real. The truth of both was reflected in both my mother’s life in this existence and departure to the next.

Scriptures for Mother

The following scriptures are for mom and family in remembrance:

As a person who embodied wisdom and knowledge: Proverbs 1:1-7

As a great woman of faith: Proverbs 31:10-31

As a seeker of truth: 2 Timothy 1:1-14; 2 Timothy 3:10-17

As a person who loved: 1 Corinthians 13:1-13

Remembering Mom

I’ve spent some time these past days crying and in agony over the death of my mother. I spent every weekend for the past year and a half at her house and lived with her for 2 years before that and 6 months from July 2009 and again Feb/Mar 2010. After years apart living elsewhere, I got to know my mother again. I have great memories of my mother.

First and foremost, she was a strong person. The strongest willed person I knew. Others didn’t always appreciate her personality, but I knew where she was coming from. She embodied independent thinking, strong determination through all circumstances, and was blunt in the most thorough and genuine way possible. She suffered no fools and no foolishness. Her mix of qualities all combined to see life realistically and clearly. I learned a lot from her and her wisdom about life and life situations.

She had been through a lot. I was raised as her oldest son. Three or 4 weeks ago her true oldest biological son came by. She hadn’t seen him in decades. I was too stunned to say a word, but I remember her alluding to his existence years ago. I realized I met him when I was real young. My mother was compromised by a relative as a teenager and had to turn her son over to relatives for adoption. That arrangement was common in the old days and it was one of the hardships she had to endure.

Growing up, she spent time in physically challenging conditions. No toilets, air conditioning, or other conveniences, she learned to make use of what she had. Under the tutelage of Aunt Cali Mae, half Native American, my mother learned the field arts of survival such as canning vegetables, knowing earth remedies, and awareness of various risks in nature as well as the characteristics of seasons.

Some mornings, she’d have to get up by or before 4am to go pick cotton. No, she didn’t grow up in slavery times but it was still the segregated South and demand was high for field workers. She grew up with a deeply cultivated work ethic under physically and psychologically demanding conditions. She had no resentment, only the resolve to go forward.

Later, she graduated from Lane College with a degree in Liberal Arts. She was quite knowledgeable about philosophy and various works of literature. Her favorite author was Jane Austen and her work, Pride and Prejudice. My mother read less as the years went on but her sharp mind never faltered.

Her favorite saying always was, “What is a man, what has he got, if not himself he has not, to say the words he truly feels and not the words of one who lives.”

I kind of know what that means written out, but when she said it, she said it with tempo and fluid expression. She was keen about matters of truth, success, and an aspiration. She was down many times, but in the final years of her life, she overcame. She got the money, she got, the car, she kept the house and while her struggles saw declining health, while she didn’t always have supporters, she was defiant to the end.

As an aside, she worked in Military Intelligence. She wasn’t a spy as far as I know, but she provided admin support. Her military journey took her to the Pentagon in the Nation’s Capitol. Unfortunately, political issues of which I am not fully clear about resulted in her getting blackballed and sent back to her home town. I remember that part. Living in a car, going down to the welfare office, food stamps, and later living with grandma. My mother cried one day in an apartment she was renting. Things did not work out for her. I was 5 years old but I remember. It was also the last place I saw my father. I remember our last meal together in that place. She moved on from disappointment.

While she was tough on the outside, she had the biggest heart. When her children had tough times she bailed us out. Sometimes she gave us tough love, but she was preparing us for the future. She was always there for us and we had a home with her when she had the means (and even when not). She cared about all her children, had hopes, saw some succeed, saw some of us fall several times, but by her guidance and example, get back up. She held it all together, and her love is forever.

I love my mother. I didn’t always say the words but I tried to show it in other ways. She knew I cared and I was pleased to be in her presence. True, there were times she got on me about screwing up my life. The truth can be tough to bear when it come from those who want to see you prevail but her words were always true. I am glad she brought me into this life and I am glad that she was my mother and I am glad that I travelled with her the final years of her journey in life.

I’ve felt guilty being alive while she is gone. I wish my phone was on last Friday evening. I wish, as I had done on occasion, simply showed up at the VA to check in on matters. I have regrets. I will have to spend part of my life dealing with that and as I do so, I can vividly see my mother tell me to get up and live.

Many people think highly of their parents and I am no different. My mother was not perfect and I accepted all her flaws. What I am proud to have seen is that she came closer to God and her embrace of the Most High God was genuine and true. I know she is in a better place.

I am angry at her treatment at the VA. My trust of that system is eradicated. I will have to deal with those feelings but my mind is fixed on not letting that situation to take priority over the positive result of her life. She is bigger that than the VA, bigger than any detractors. To me, she was the greatest mom in the world.

Honoring Our Parents After They’re Gone

My Mother Died on May 5 2017 in the Memphis VA

I learned on Saturday, 5/6/2017 that my mother, Mary Lou Transou Akins, died in the Memphis Veterans Affairs Hospital on May 5th, 2017.

The VA killed my mother. She did not die of natural causes. She was murdered by medical professionals at the VA.

A series of improper operations, people with no real experience, constant travel to the VA every week or every other week, dozens of questionable prescriptions, ruptured spleen, diagnosis of cancer no one is sure about, a coma sometime around 2011 that lasted 2 weeks all added up over 7 or 8 years to death. She had a lawsuit for the spleen.

After years struggling to make ends meet, my mother finally was awarded 80% disability sometime in 2014. Weakened health notwithstanding, she was finally able to afford a brand new car after the VA gave her a check for $80,000. The year 2015 was good for her but health started declining sharply again in 2016 until a few days ago, she died as doctors gave her questionable medicine.

I brought her back home 2 weekends ago and she looked like she was on the upswing. She had lost a lot of weight during 2016 and could barely stand, but her mood was good. Siblings, with whom I am now permanently estranged (our relationship severed today), mentioned she looked fine. However, the doctors prescribed the wrong treatment and announced to my step father that she was going to die. The report is he broke down and my siblings lost it but because it was the VA, there was nothing anyone could do.

She didn’t have to die. She went in for a normal checkup and is now dead. This is the result of signing up for the Armed Forces, questioning senior officers, being given anti-psychotics (Thorzine) with a child in your womb only to come under the knife decades later to become the experimental patient of persons with no goodwill.

I only saw my father 3 or 4 times in my life. Due to upbringing and socio-economic circumstances, now fully estranged from my wider family the cycle of pain that began for a female soldier all those years ago has been consummated to ill outcome. Now, I lost my mother. I lost my family.

I am still functional but the event has unraveled me. I was prepared for my mother’s departure decades from now. This was too soon was not the appropriate end to my mother’s life who did nothing more than show deference to conservatives, Republicans, and military group think until the end.

Health Care Reform 2017 – Another Approach

I was never a fan of the Affordable Care Act. Embedded in some of my earlier posts on this blog are criticisms I shared about it. Make no mistake, my critique wasn’t so much about the substance of ACA but how it came about. You could say, I was in the camp that it didn’t go far enough and the timing when it was introduced. Today, ACA is established and has grown to become a means to help 10s of millions of people. The repeal of ACA without a genuine replacement that assists the poor, the chronically sick, and those with pre-existing conditions would cause many to reconsider their trust in civil society. How can we call ourselves advanced, noble, and a leading society if all those potential health care horror stories become real?

Anyway, I never wrote much on health care reform. I am not part of the health care cycle. I haven’t been to a doctor for much in decades. Yet, I have relatives with cancer, blood issues, and bodily impairments of various kinds. As I’ve gotten more involved in hospital visitations and monitoring the health situations of others, health care has become a growing concern for me. I’ve seen news reports about people who benefited from the ACA. The impact is down-to-earth as real as it gets.

What is true health care reform? The real deal isn’t what is being talked about today or what people have seriously considered in the past. No, the true health care reform has the same level of societal critical priority as police, fire response, and military. The physical health of persons is at that same level. How is it we have urgent, frantic reactions when 2 or 3 people get shot at a gas station or a few people are in the line of fire in a shopping mall, but millions of people slowly dying is less important? Based on that perspective, health care is no different that making safe the lives of people in an overt crisis. The difference is the speed at which death occurs. Health care should be a government practice in the same way we have other agencies like police, fire, and military to safeguard people and situations.

Hillary Clinton – Women for Women International 2017

Hillary Clinton answered questions from Christiane Amanpour at 20th Annual Women for Women International Gala on 5/2/2017. She had accepted the “Champion of Peace” award from this group and on this occasion was asked her views on a several matters. The interview was aired on TV which provided me with the chance to watch the entire proceeding. A person’s response to political loss, general life disappointment and how they move on productively is an interesting matter to check out. Suffice to say, Hillary’s natural presentation was a great example of not entirely putting the past aside but of walking in a fresh direction regardless. In the process, her answers to a variety of scenarios posed to her by Christiane was well delivered and filled with substance, insight, and useful knowledge for all present. Towards the end, she touched on AI (Artificial Intelligence), robots, and direct ways those developments may challenge employment and civil freedoms in the future. Hillary spoke about jobs, health care, and education in such a way that expertly exposed the interconnections between matters that seem separate. A great interview that may be on YouTube and is worth watching for the lessons, example of poise following loss, and an authentic portrayal of a different type of strength.