One of the hardest workers I've ever known

Has it been four years already? Or, perhaps a more appropriate question would be, has it only been four years?

April 29, 2004, age 81 of Kentwood, formerly of Taylor. Beloved husband of Christine. Loving father of Dan (Karen), Tom (Denise) and Sue (Todd) Statetzny. Dearest grandfather of Dereck, Scott, Monica, Ben, April and Morgan. Visitation Saturday 5-9 p.m. and Sunday 2-9 p.m. with Funeral service on Monday 10 a.m. at the Voran Funeral Home (Taylor Chapel), 23750 Goddard Road. Interment Woodmere Cemetery

Seeing that obituary in online or in the paper, one may notice the American flag icon, commemorating my grandfather's Army service in the Asia-Pacific Theater during World War II. Four years after his passing, I though I'd share a little more about one of the hardest workers I've known.

'Poppa' was born March 10, 1923, the second of five sons. He began working at the famous Ford Motor Company plant in Dearborn, Michigan, in the late 1930s. His time there was interrupted by his (aforementioned) service in World War II.

When he retired from Ford in 1987 (right around the time I was born), he had logged 45 years with the company. Forty-five years with the same company! Oh, and did I mention he was a proud member of the UAW?

Aside from that, he liked gardening. I credit his love for gardening and his love of nature for my own passion for this thing we call Planet Earth.

And in case I need to tell you, he was one heck of a Democrat. In 2001 he got a calendar from the DNC featuring pets of famous Presidents. He let his 13-year-old politically astute grandson (me) have it.

But first and foremost, he was a family man. Boy, did he love his wife of 50-some years - whom we affectionately call Nannu - as well as his three kids, and his six grandchildren. In a small way, his love for all of us made up for my never being able to know my other grandfather, who died two years before I was born.

Poppa was often present at Dad's Monday night bowling games with the local Knights of Columbus council league. For several years in a row, he won something in a raffle at Kentwood's Fourth of July Pancake Breakfast. He and Nannu attended as many of my band concerts as they could.

I am certain that if he was alive and his health was good enough health, Poppa would have sat right next to Nannu at my high school graduation in 2005.

However, it was not to be.

April 29, 2004, was the most difficult day of my life.

The night before, my grandpa was taken to the emergency room. As it turned out, he suffered a massive heart attack, likely caused by his laboring to breathe due to his bout with pneumonia.

I knew something was wrong when, shortly after lunch, my English teacher told me that I had an early dismissal (he was hospitalized the night before). As I got into the car, Mom told me that he hadn't died yet, but was in horrible shape. Once I heard my brother Dereck crying in the front seat, I knew it was really bad.

When I got to the hospital, my dad told me it would be just a matter of hours. I cried like a baby, as did Nannu, my parents, and Dereck. I couldn't bear to stay. Mom, Dereck, and I went home just after 1:30.

Just as we walked in the door, Dad called. Poppa had died.

Two days later we went to the funeral home in Taylor for the first day of visitation. His body was in an open casket.

Seeing that lifeless body... that's when it hit me. Never again would I hear him tell his stories about the war, growing up during the Depression, raising three kids. His Fourth of July raffle winning streak was over.

The next day, as we got out of the car at the funeral home, two mallard ducks wandered their way in front of the funeral home door. Coincidence? I don't think so. You see, my other grandma - who had passed away three years earlier - loved mallard ducks. We saw these ducks as a sign from above - that Grandma was watching over us and wanted us to be able to find peace.

At the funeral I managed to give a eulogy of sorts. My aunt wrote a poem that encompassed his love for his family, gardening, and lemon meringue pie.

He was laid to rest on a beautiful, sunny day in early May. (Just a couple days earlier it had been snowing! It's Michigan, after all!)

Four years later, I don't know how he would have handled hearing that Bush was going to be in for another four years. I can tell you that the way workers are being mistreated would not have made that UAW retiree happy. My aunt remarked a couple years ago that if he saw how expensive gas was getting, that would've given him a fatal heart attack.

Still, most of the emotional pain following Poppa's death has been replaced with warm memories. I still miss him, but I am at peace, knowing he has found an even more lasting peace. He went out without much suffering.

Somehow, Nannu is still with us at 84 (we thought she would be the first to go). Here I am, finishing my third year of college, while one of my cousins is five weeks away from graduating high school!

And wouldn't you know it, since Poppa left, I have won something at the Fourth of July breakfast every year!

Coincidence? I don't think so.


Downright disgusting.

Nobody should have to go through this - especially our troops.


Bits of Tid: April 22, 2008

"Happy Earth Day To You!" Edition

  • So Hillary won the Pennsylvania primary. No surprise. She'll still be more than 100 delegates behind Obama... and continues to run out of room.

  • Score!

  • On New Year's Day I mentioned that a lot of important things would be happening on Tuesdays this year. Well, here's an updated version of that countdown. We now have:
    • 2 weeks until the Indiana and North Carolina primaries AND school elections in Michigan;
    • 3 weeks until the filing deadline in Michigan (precinct delegate affidavit forms are here!);
    • 15 weeks until the Michigan state/local primary - the one that will count;
    • 26 weeks until I turn 21 (you may start thinking of gifts!)
    • 28 weeks until ELECTION DAY!!!
    • 39 weeks until our new Democratic President is inaugurated!
    • 132 weeks until Election 2010; and
    • 237 weeks until Election 2012!!!

  • The Tigers won 10-2 this evening, putting them back to within five games of .500!


For your YouTubing pleasure

Bob Schieffer on flag lapel pins:

The DNC's first ad against McCain:

Can Hillary still win the nomination?



Confessions of a Bitter American

I'm bitter. I am not from a small town; I am a suburbanite. Instead of guns, I cling to my words. Still, I am bitter.

And Barack Obama's right. I know I'm not the only one who's bitter. I'm bitter about a whole lot of things, and with the latest nonsense criticisms of Obama for speaking the truth, I feel it's time I got this off my chest.

I want to share a little bit of my background so you can have an idea of why it is I am bitter.

My dad worked for ten years at an auto-glass company, becoming warehouse manager for a few years before losing that job almost five years ago. On weekends he would tend bar at the local Knights of Columbus hall. My mom had a part-time job at a paint store.

We weren't wealthy back then, but we got by. We could afford the occasional luxury, including a few memorable vacations. In 1998 we went to Arizona for my brother's college orientation. We stopped by the Grand Canyon. (Side note: A little while after we left the Canyon, I threw up in the car!) After Grandma died in 2001, we went to West Virginia and DC to visit a good friend of hers. Five years ago next month we went to Mackinac Island for the state convention for a well-known religious organization.

Ten summers ago Mom got so sick they had to put her in the hospital for a week and a half. Doctors said her heartbeat was nearly 300 beats per minute and that they'd never seen anyone survive anything like that. I have often wondered since then what life would be like without her. We were fortunate to have had insurance to cover it. God help us if that happens again.

Insurance was also there to cover my two surgeries to lengthen my Achilles tendons the following fall and winter (actually, they decided to pay for one operation the day before it actually took place).

But since then, my dad lost his jobs, and my mom lost hers. Dad got another job thanks to a friend, but this job pays quite a bit less and our health insurance covers very little.

I don't even have my own computer in my dorm room anymore; I have to use the library or computer lab to write my papers. About the most high-tech gadgets I have are my cell phone and my digital camera (neither of which have more than the basic features). I don't even have my own car at school; thank God my dad is willing to take the four-hour round trip to drive me to and from school every few weeks.)

Why? Because we can't afford any of that. And if not for grants, loans, and scholarships, even college - an experience to which I owe most of my happier memories, friendships, and interests, including blogging (thanks Pete for showing me Michigan Liberal!) - would a figment of my imagination.

Oh, and did I mention that I'm bitter that the Republicans have slashed student financial aid? Instead they seem to believe that the money would be better spent in Iraq. And as we all know, paying for every student's education is one of countless things that could happen with the half a trillion dollars that's been wasted in Iraq.

I am bitter because, while fat cat cronies act like pigs at the trough, my family and I are living paycheck-to-paycheck.

I am bitter because while so many other countries' governments have found it necessary to see to it that everyone has adequate healthcare, ours hasn't. (I got news for advocates of the status quo: Our private-sector health system hasn't worked!)

I am bitter because here I am, 20 years old, yet in all my life I have only been able to obtain ONE job - working in the dining commons at school. (And even that isn't great because, unlike some people, I get fatigued rather easily after several hours of standing.) No summer jobs, no any of that. Nothing.

I am bitter because George W. Bush, John McCain, and other conservatives have made it Job One to ensure that government doesn't do what it's supposed to do - protect the people of the United States of America. Instead, because of these conservative ideologues, our tax dollars are being used to destroy life, not protect it.

So to all who criticize Obama for saying people are bitter, I say:

Yeah, you better believe we're bitter.


Divesting from Darfur - please act!

If we truly care about our fellow human beings, we must do our part to make sure the genocide in Darfur stops.

Progress Michigan's blog, The Upper Hand, discusses a way for Michigan to act to stop this - and what you can do to help make it happen.

Michigan has the potential to do something. House Bill 4854 (and its Senate complement) would take Michigan's money out of the genocide and urge the supporters of these atrocities to change their ways. The $150 million of taxpayer money that is invested through the state public pension funds would be used to urge the foreign companies that give the Sudanese government its blank check to murder thousands to instead use their money and clout to end the genocide and help the civilians. If they refuse, Michigan will join with 24 other states in the country and withdraw its funds.

However, this legislation is going nowhere. The House of Representatives came together to pass it, 108-2, drawing the support of both Democratic and Republican leaders. However, a couple of activist Senators have refused to even take the measure up to a vote, letting it languish for months in the Appropriations committee.
I encourage you to contact your senator as well as Appropriations Committee Chair Ron Jelinek ( SenRJelinek@senate.mi.gov ). Already, 24 other states have passed similar laws.


McCain opposed bill making MLK Day a holiday

It was forty years ago today that Martin Luther King, Jr., was shot at a hotel in Memphis while supporting striking sanitation workers.

Michigan Congressman John Conyers was the person who introduced a bill to make Martin Luther King, Jr., a holiday.

Four days after Dr. King's death, on April 8, 1968, I introduced a bill that would allow this nation to celebrate the life and work of its greatest civil rights leader with a federal holiday. Though it would take 15 years, from 1968 until 1983, the King Holiday Bill was eventually signed into law through the efforts of friends on the ground and friends in the Congress. Unfortunately, John McCain was not one of those friends.
Conyers adds:
As we observe the 40th anniversary of Dr. King's assassination, I ask that we examine the principles and values on which Dr. King based his work, and apply them to our work today. It is 40 years later, and this country finds itself again poisoned by war, a war that is jeopardizing the civil rights and civil liberties of all Americans - and again, Senator McCain is complicit. From the Iraq War and a failing economy, to inadequate healthcare and unsatisfactory schools, it is up to us to finish Dr. King's work. So I ask Senator McCain that as he apologizes for his vote 25 years ago, that he may recommit himself to advancing Dr. King's legacy.


Late-night jokes for April Fool's Day!

You're well overdue one of these. In honor of April Fool's Day, I'm pleased to present my latest compilation of late-night laughs courtesy of Daniel Kurtzman at About.com.


"Well, of course, this Sunday is Easter. Of course, Easter is that very, very holy day when Christians around the world honor a 2,000-year-old Jewish man who is not Larry King."
"Another political sex scandal in the New York area in the papers today. Unbelievable what's going on lately. This is the latest. A man who used to be the chauffeur for New Jersey's former governor, Jim McGreevey, is claiming that he used to have three-way sex with McGreevy and his wife. Yeah. True story. When asked about it, McGreevey said, 'That's a lie. I would never have had sex with my wife.'"
"Hillary Clinton, hard at work campaigning today. That's right. Today, Hillary Clinton said that the war would end up costing $1 trillion. Hillary wasn't talking about Iraq. She was talking about her war with Barack Obama."
"Vice President Dick Cheney also in Iraq this week. Cheney told the Iraqi government that their leaders have to show some progress on both their domestic and economic fronts. And the Iraqis said to Cheney, 'Uh, you first.'"
"Today marks the five-year anniversary of the war in Iraq, and President Bush said his decision to invade was 'remarkably effective.' Yeah, that's why we're still there after five years. Happy Anniversary!"
"Bush also went on to say that Bear Stearns is just going through a tough time and victory's just around the corner. ... I don't want to say Wall Street is in financial trouble. You know who's in charge of Bear Stearns right now, you know who's running it? Britney Spears' dad."
"Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick has been charged with perjury and lying under oath after being caught sending sexually explicit text messages to his female chief of staff. This was the most embarrassing thing to happen to a Democratic politician in, like, a week."
"Well, the sad thing is, Kwame Kilpatrick was considered a rising star in the Democratic Party. Apparently, he just spent a little too much time rising."
"New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson endorsed Barack Obama ... The reason this is such a big story is that Bill Richardson was a member of the Clinton cabinet. And Clinton adviser James Carville ... on Good Friday, he called Bill Richardson a Judas. Called him a Judas. Well, you know, there are a lot of biblical references in this race. Now they're calling Bill Clinton 'Jonah' because he was once swallowed by a whale."
"Today, Barack Obama criticized John McCain for mistakenly saying that Iran was sending aid to al Qaeda in Iraq, which is not true. And afterwards, President Bush told McCain, 'Don't worry about it. I didn't know that either.'"
"It could now be profitable for oil companies to start drilling for oil in Los Angeles again. And once again, I think President Bush doesn't really understand this issue. Like today, he announced the drawing of a contingency plan to invade the San Fernando Valley."
"One of the women Paterson had an affair with was a state employee. He said he tried to end the affair, but since she was a state employee, there was so much paperwork involved, it was just easier to just keep banging her."
"So, let's see, Jim McGreevey was having three-ways. Eliot Spitzer was having sex with prostitutes. The new governor, David Paterson, was having an affair. You realize the only politician in New York not getting any sex -- Hillary Clinton."
"Are you all ready for March Madness? Well, you know how it works. You start with 64. That goes down to 32, then 16, then 8, then 4, then 2, until there's just one left. You know, not teams of the NCAA. You know, brokerage houses on Wall Street."
"Even President Bush starting to get worried about this economy being out of control, you know. I mean, gold is over $1,000 an ounce. Oil, $100 a barrel. Hookers, $5,000 an hour."
"And I love this. On his first day, the governor admitted to having an affair. Actually, having a couple of affairs. Yeah. See, I think it's great to combine your swearing in speech with your 'I cheated on my wife' speech. That way the wife only has to stand beside you one time."
"So the last governor was going to hookers. The new governor admits to having an affair. Do you think New York is longing for the good old days when Rudy Giuliani would just run around in women's clothes?"
"No, Barack Obama admitted he wasn't aware of some of the more radical rhetoric because, like most Americans, he falls asleep in church."
"And Elton John announced this week he's gonna sing at a big fundraiser for Hillary Clinton next month. Is that a good idea? Hillary and Elton on the stage? Let's hope they don't show up wearing the same pantsuit."
"Vice President Dick Cheney went to Iraq. Or, as he calls it, Spring Break."
"I've been watching that John Adams miniseries on HBO. You seen this? Boy, it's really good. You know, it's fun to see all the Founding Fathers. They're all in it. John Adams, George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, John McCain."
"A Happy St. Patrick's Day to everybody! Amazing, over 300 sober people. You never see that on St. Patrick's Day. Everybody's wearing green. The only place you didn't see any green today, Wall Street."
"And what's going on with Geraldine Ferraro? Did you hear what she said today? She said today, 'The leprechaun wouldn't be in the position he's in if he wasn't green.'"
"St. Patrick's Day, of course, is the day we celebrate St. Patrick, who drove the snakes from Ireland. Ironically, it also marks the day a hooker drove a governor from office."
"Governor Spitzer of New York officially, who officially resigned today has got more problems, because they're now saying he spent thousands of dollars on these prostitutes and tried to make it look like a legitimate expense. Yeah, yeah. Like after he had sex with them, he'd make the hooker go out and fix a pothole."
"Anybody got one of these yet, the new redesigned $5 bill? It's out, new $5 bill. It has several new features. One of the new features, it's only worth $3."
"The dollar has fallen fast on the world market. In fact, there has now been a request to take 'In God We Trust' off the bill. The request came from God."
"Things are not looking good for the Democratic Party. In fact, the tension between Barack and Hillary is almost as bad as the tension between Bill and Hillary."
"Hillary now says that she just made an honest mistake when she said she had to duck sniper fire in Bosnia. There was no hostile fire of any kind. Although, ironically, while she was away, Bill Clinton did see some action."

"I don't know if you folks from out of town are aware of this, but here lately we've had trouble with our governor. And now are reports that former New Jersey Governor Jim McGreevey and his wife were having wild, crazy, three-way sexual activities with his assistant. I can't even get my assistant to make coffee."
"Are you fold excited about March Madness? You know, here's how it works. We go from 65 to 32, then to 16, and then to eight and -- well, no, no, that's -- those are Hillary Clinton's superdelegates."
"I was thinking about this today. Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama and what a contest for the Democratic presidential nomination. Kind of exciting, isn't it? They've got a lot in common. Hillary and Barack have a great deal in common. Both are lawyers, both are senators and neither one is sleeping with Bill Clinton."
"And now and not a minute too soon, there's a quiz that you can take to tell if your spouse is cheating. Question number one: Is your spouse a governor?"
"There was one bit of good news for the economy earlier today. At the last minute, a large investment bank was rescued at the last minute. It was adopted by Angelina Jolie."
"It was an exciting day up in Albany. At the governor's mansion earlier today, women were outside of the governor's mansion wearing buttons that read 'Kiss me, I'm $4,000.'"
"They were celebrating St. Patrick's Day down in Washington and, of course, President Bush was so confused. He comes out on the White House lawn and pardons the corned beef. "
"But how many of you folks go to the St. Patrick's Day Parade here in New York City? Well, a lot of Irish dignitaries at the parade. You had O'Connor, you had O'Hare, you had Obama, what?"
"Are you worried about the stock market? It dropped another 4,000 points or something today, I don't know. Luckily, for me, I don't know about you folks, but I'm not in the stock market. Yeah. I have all of my money in a chain of Amy Winehouse hair salons."
"But President Bush is concerned about the economy. He admitted today that the economy is a little sluggish, a little sluggish right now. The same way Elvis is a little sluggish right now, too. Elvis can't come out, he's a little sluggish."
"A lot of American dignitaries visiting the Middle East. Senator McCain, running for president, is in Iraq. ... Of course, he remembers Iraq when it was known as Mesopotamia."
"Did you hear about this? Two State Department employees were fired -- this is a bit of a scandal -- because they were looking at Barack Obama's passport file. Not only that, but the same person was also looking at John McCain's Civil War records."

Your April Fool's Day humor: Church bulletin bloopers!

If you happen to be in church and you see a line similar to these, it might be best to hold your laughter until you get back to your car. :-)

Scouts are saving aluminum cans, bottles, and other items to be recycled. Proceeds will be used to cripple children.

The outreach committee has enlisted 25 visitors to make calls on people who are not afflicted with any church.

Evening massage - 6 p.m.

The Pastor would appreciate it if the ladies of the congregation would lend him their electric girdles for the pancake breakfast next Sunday morning.

The audience is asked to remain seated until the end of the recession.

Low Self-Esteem Support Group will meet Thursday at 7 to 8:30 p.m. Please use the back door.

Ushers will eat latecomers.

The third verse of Blessed Assurance will be sung without musical accomplishment.

For those of you who have children and don't know it, we have a nursery downstairs.

The Rev. Merriwether spoke briefly, much to the delight of the audience.

The pastor will preach his farewell message, after which the choir will sing, "Break Forth Into Joy."

During the absence of our pastor, we enjoyed the rare privilege of hearing a good sermon when J.F. Stubbs supplied our pulpit.

Next Sunday Mrs. Vinson will be soloist for the morning service. The pastor will then speak on "It's a Terrible Experience."

Due to the Rector's illness, Wednesday's healing services will be discontinued until further notice.

Stewardship Offertory: "Jesus Paid It All"

The music for today's service was all composed by George Friedrich Handel in celebration of the 300th anniversary of his birth.

Remember in prayer the many who are sick of our church and community.

The eighth-graders will be presenting Shakespeare's Hamlet in the church basement on Friday at 7 p.m. The congregation is invited to attend this tragedy.

The concert held in Fellowship Hall was a great success. Special thanks are due to the minister's daughter, who labored the whole evening at the piano, which as usual fell upon her.

Twenty-two members were present at the church meeting held at the home of Mrs. Marsha Crutchfield last evening. Mrs. Crutchfield and Mrs. Rankin sang a duet, The Lord Knows Why.

A song fest was hell at the Methodist church Wednesday.

Today's Sermon: HOW MUCH CAN A MAN DRINK? with hymns from a full choir.

Hymn 43: "Great God, what do I see here?" Preacher: The Rev. Horace Blodgett
Hymn 47: "Hark! An awful voice is sounding"

On a church bulletin during the minister's illness:
Dr. Hargreaves is better.

Potluck supper: Prayer and medication to follow.

Don't let worry kill you off - let the church help.

The 1997 Spring Council Retreat will be hell May 10 and 11.

Pastor is on vacation. Massages can be given to church secretary.