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When others see a shepherd boy

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This is part two of a series about Jim who was eighty-eight when he enrolled in hospice with end-stage heart failure. Jim’s three daughters, Rene, Sandra and Connie, “The girls”, reminisced, “When we were kids it was dad’s job to be the monster and scare us. Sometimes we would put the tent up in the back yard and dad would sneak out in the middle of the night and make noises like wild animals. One night dad got the idea that he would scare us and he decided he would go outside and climb in the window so he could sneak down the hall and ambush us. The window was kind of high so dad climbed up on the glider and when he was halfway in he got stuck. He was halfway in and halfway out. Mom got tickled and started laughing. She told dad that someone might see him there and call the Sherriff. The joke ended up being on dad.” The girls concluded, “Dad was an only child and now we all know why.”

Protecting Ohio’s farms and military installations critical

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The Peoples Republic of China (PRC)—that’s Communist China for those of us who lived through the Cold War—is not our friend. Yes, virtually everyone can agree that that’s a massive understatement. In fact, they don’t mean to just outcompete America on every front, or even to dominate the world economy. Their true intent is to rule the world. China is on the march, just as were Nazi Germany, Italy, Imperial Japan and the Soviet Union before WWII. That era had Hitler, Mussolini, Tojo and Stalin, but we have today a singular “strongman” with similar intent: Xi Jinping. Every facet of the PRC’s governing apparatus answers to him, including the “all-seeing, all-knowing” Chinese Communist Party (CCP) and the People’s Liberation Army (PLA). All that stands between Xi and his goals is one nation. The United States of America.

“You can count that day well spent”

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I was privileged to meet Sandy and her husband, George, at the hospital when her physician consulted hospice to talk with her about discontinuing dialysis. Sandy was only fifty-one years old; blind, had both legs amputated and had been on dialysis for renal failure; all complications of diabetes. Sandy understood the consequences of discontinuing dialysis, “I know that if I stop dialysis I could die in a few days or a few weeks. But I’m just tired of hurting.” She cried, “I just don’t want to live like this anymore. But I’m afraid I’m letting my family down.” George assured her, “You aren’t letting us down. It’s your decision.”

Going First Class

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Anna enrolled in hospice with end stage dementia. Only two weeks after Anna’s enrollment, Shasta, her hospice nurse, called and informed me that Anna was “actively dying” and that the family asked her to notify me. They didn’t request that I come but I read the invitation between the lines.

Every man has his price

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Glen is sixty-three years old and recounted, “I was born and raised in Chicago, Illinois; I was a Northerner, but I was raised with Southern roots”, which may account for Glen’s mountain-man “Duck Dynasty” beard. He explained, “My mother and father were from Tennessee and moved to Chicago to find work.” Glen’s parents were part of the “Appalachian Diaspora”. In the years following WWII thousands of southerners migrated up the “Hillbilly Highway” to the northern industrial cities to find work.

An Ace in the Hole

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“On a warm summer’s eve on a train bound for nowhere; I met up with a gambler…he began to speak…’Son I’ve made a life out of readin’ people’s faces; knowin’ what the cards were by the way they held their eyes. So if you don’t mind my sayin’ I can see you’re out of aces. For a taste of your whisky I’ll give you some advice…If you’re gonna play the game, boy you gotta learn to play it right…Every gambler knows that the secret to survivin’ is knowin’ what to throw away and knowin’ what to keep…You got to know when to hold’em and know when to fold’em, know when to walk away, know when to run…And in his final words I found an ace that I could keep.” (The Gambler; by Kenny Rogers)

All journeys start with the first step

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This is part two of a series about Cora, who enrolled in hospice services with end-stage pulmonary disease. Cora stated, “I enjoy watching HGTV. I’m kind of burned out on “Fixer Upper”, so now I watch, “The Property Brothers”, and “Love it or List it”. And I love watching the barges go up and down the river.” Cora lives adjacent to her daughter, Tammy, her primary caregiver. Cora’s living room window faces the Ohio River and her front porch is only a few feet away from the downward slope of the riverbank.

OPINION: Who Are You Going To Call?

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There are times when trouble comes our way. It might be bills coming due or friends in a frenzy. I know one thing if you need a body shop when you have an accident, there is only one guy I trust. His name is Steve Matheny and he can take care of a dent faster than you can spell, “I got trouble”. He does it all and my friends there is no one friendlier than Steve. He will take care of all the dents in your vehicle in a whizz! Now when I say, “He can do it all”, I am not speaking of the “dents” in your spiritual life. One thing that Steve knows that is true in the physical as well as it is in the spiritual is that far too many people try to fix their own problems instead of leaving it to the one who can truly handle the situation.

“A broken spirit, a broken and contrite heart”

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This is part one of a series about Cora who was admitted to hospice with end-stage chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. On second thought, this story isn’t about Cora; it’s about someone who has been a tremendous inspiration and encouragement to Cora.

“Cultivating the devotion of hearing”

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Russell was admitted to hospice with melanoma, “skin cancer”. It’s been years since Russell passed; therefore many of the details about him and about our conversations have faded. But I vividly remember Russell asking me if I wanted to see the extent of his cancer; and Russell pulling back the sheet that covered his body. His entire body was spattered with lesions. That’s not an image that easily fades. I also remember his modest cottage being on the left as I drove around the curve of the country road. I remember the road being lined with trees and thinking how peaceful, picturesque and inviting it was.

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