Tuesday, April 27, 2010

A Little About Henry....

As I write this tonight, my father Henry, is in the fight of his life. He is very sick and in Intensive Care and is really doing his best to survive. This man has had a great and long life and he is aware of that. I have had the true pleasure of being with him almost everyday for the last several years, being his son, friend and caretaker. What a joy he has been and I am very thankful that I had this time. I have also had the chance to talk about what happens next for him as he struggled with being ill. He was very clear what his beliefs and wishes were and that he was comfortable in his faith if he was called home. Henry has earned the right to maintain his dignity and to know that he is loved by his family, and he deserves to be comfortable if this turns out to be his time.
What I know is that Henry Bannister has lived the way a man should for a lifetime. He was a wonderful son, a caring and loving husband for fifty-three years and fifty-three days. He raised three children and is a supportive and teaching father right up until today. He is loved and adored by his grandchildren, nieces and nephews. He is admired by people he has worked with and known for many years. He has lived his life the correct way, from his work ethic and his compassion and caring way he has handled problems that he has faced.
My father taught me years ago that a man's reputation will follow him, whether it is good or bad, and to be careful how you carry yourself through life and always treat others with the respect and integrity that you want to be treated yourself. He taught me that doing the right thing and not looking for the easy way was the best policy. He taught me that I should pour my passion into whatever I was attempting and to always give my all. Dad, I have tried my best to live my life as you have taught me to and you were a wonderful example to follow. For this I can thank you and tell you that your advice was solid, and although things in society change, the basic lessons of life are the same.
Tonight I pray for you to have peace and to do your best to recover, but I also say that if you can't make it, it's okay, you have earned the rest. You are loved by many and are a very special man! I love You!
Love John

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Life's Not Always A Dance.....

“People grow old only by deserting their ideals, Macarthur had written. Years may wrinkle the skin, but to give up interest wrinkles the soul. You are as young as your faith, as old as your doubt; as young as your self-confidence, as old as your fear; as young as your hope as old as your despair. In the central place of every heart there is a recording chamber. So long as it receives messages of beauty, hope, cheer and courage, so long are you young. When your heart is covered with the snows of pessimism and the ice of cynicism, then, and then only, are you grown old. And then, indeed as the ballad says, you just fade away.”
Douglas MacArthur
The above quote may very well state the secret to never aging. Sure, our bodies change and begin to wear out as we get older, but if we are lucky, our minds can carry us for a long time if we have the right attitude. I stood by my mother right up until her days on Earth were over, at least from a physical standpoint. Her memories I choose to keep going as long as I live. The end was hard, I would say the hardest thing I have yet faced, but her number one concern was who would take care of her beloved Henry. I reassured her that he would be fine and I would see to his care as he aged. It does require a sacrifice by me and my wife, with some adjustment to the freedoms of being an empty-nester, but when your father is cut from the cloth that Henry is, you find ways to make it all work. For some people, out of sight, out of mind is how they choose to deal with aging parents and loved ones. After all, everybody is so busy working and living their daily lives, who can blame them. Others just can't deal with the emotional stress that goes with the territory and it is easier to find a "place" for them to be cared for. I am not chastising that choice at all, and many choose to cross that bridge. Life's not always a dance.
I choose to get the most out of my father as I can while he's around. I choose to show him honor, the honor he has earned by living a good life. He has so much wisdom and knowledge that his 82 years have taught him, yet to share. I tend to think about what adjustments he has had to endure, and endure with mostly a smile on his face. I wonder what he thinks about when he is quite, is he reflecting on Nonna and their 53 years together? Does he worry about his children, that have reached middle age? Do his days seem ten times longer than mine do because he does not have much to do? Only he can answer these questions and as is most often the case, older people don't always open up about their thoughts. What I do know is that my job is to make him as comfortable and provided for as I can, and I would not treat him any other way.
Yes, it's true that life's not always a dance, but when you still have hope, love and something to live for, it continues onward. Be sweet to those who brought you into this world, heck, treat them like you treat your friends!
Love John

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Where Is The Needle On Your Compassion Meter?

I this photo Nonna was recovering from Rheumatic Fever while in the hospital in Germany. The girl sitting next to her would spend time reading and visiting with Nonna for hours upon hours. She stumbled upon my mom one day and found out a little of what she had endured and that she was all alone. Something deep inside of her was triggered to be willing to do this for Nonna. It would have been much easier for her to say hello and move on about her business, as I am sure that she had other things she could have been doing instead. She was young and attractive, the war had ended and everybody was going about rebuilding and starting new lives. Why take her free time and spend it with someone who she had not known, who had never been her friend and who was from another country? What was it about Nonna that attracted her?

I will tell you that she was full of kindness and had a deep hearted compassion for her fellow human beings. If she had not directly witnessed those atrocities, she surely had heard all about the evil that was done. She decided to care and be a friend to my mother, to spend time with her and lend her support in any way that she could. What a wonderful way to show God that you love him by caring for others. She had to put Nonna ahead of herself, which is true sacrifice, the real meaning of love.

My dad, Henry, has been in the hospital for the last week, having trouble with his Esophagus. As I was leaving late yesterday evening, I noticed a man pushing a small girl in a wheelchair across the parking lot. I guessed that she had MS or some other issue and they had been to physical therapy. I sat in my car and watched as he stopped at his car, opened his trunk, then opened the back door. He picked her up and struggled to place her in a car seat and strap her down, then took a deep breath and went to the trunk and folded up the wheelchair and placed it securely in the car. I immediately thought of what sacrifices this man must be going through for his daughter and I started to get a little teary eyed, not because I felt sorry for him, but because he was showing me his love and dedication and compassion, without knowing anyone was watching him. That, my friend, had an affect on my heart and showed me that my Compassion Meter was working fine.

No matter what we deal with, all the problems and stress that we each face, someone else is carrying a burden much heavier than us. The good news is that God will not give us more than we can handle, but we have to walk with faith to understand that this is true. Where is the needle on your Compassion Meter?

Love John

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Lest We Forget...........

Lest We Forget.... Sixty Five years ago today at 3:15 P.M. the prisoner took control of Buchenwald Concentration Camp from their torcherers. The clock on the main Guard building stopped and even now shows that exact time. Many of the Guards, realizing the end was near, fled into the woods in an attempt to flee. When the American Soldiers arrived a short time later, they were sickened and in disbelief as to what their eyes were showing to them. A day or two after the camps liberation, Harry Snodgrass, a twenty three year old soldier from Tennessee, was given a tour of the camp by a Lithuanian prisoner who could speak broken English. Snodgrass recalled " I went into the commanders office and there were lampshades made from the skins of Jews. Near the Crematorium, they used the ashes of prisoners to fertilize the fields- the ashes of dead people. After an hour, it just became too much- I was stunned, just stunned. We don't even treat dogs like that."
UNTERMENSCH- The German word that means inferior people of poor quality and of little importance, value or merit.... SUBHUMAN! That's right, the Nazi's had that mindset about both Jews and other races that were not Aryan.
To any living survivors that have not shared what happened to them, I tell you that NOW IS THE TIME. Nonna realized that she was getting old and her health was failing and she owed it to her husband, children and the rest of the world to share her stories. Not for any self gain, but so that the world would know and remember that evil must be stopped, that this dark period of mankind should never be allowed to fade away. She knew that History has a way of repeating itself. Was it easy for her to get these horrors out of her soul? NO. It was the hardest thing she had ever done, but she felt obligated to share them so that they would never again occur.
Hitler was defeated and deniers today must also be defeated. It takes courage to face evil head on, but you must find a way to tell us while you still can, Lest We Forget.
Love John

Friday, April 2, 2010

Are You Washed In The Blood?.........

My mother was the strongest person I have ever known. Her will to go onward and do whatever it took to move ahead was evident no matter what adversity was facing her. She had survived an enemy that millions could not overcome. She had beaten the odds and managed to make it to America, the dream that her father had for her. She found her own way to put terrible memories out of her mind and make a new, happy life for, not only herself, but for her entire American family. She overcame poor health conditions several times in her life and would bounce back more determined than ever before to live on.
During WWII Nonna lost almost everything and everybody that she cared for. Her Father was beaten severely by The Nazi's and died in her arms. She was removed from her homeland, never to see it as long as she lived. Her brother, grandmother and entire family left scattered like straw in the wind. Her Mother was taken away on Nonna's sixteenth birthday and placed in The Concentration Camps and she was never to see her again. Even Nonna's name was changed for a period of time to Lena Schultz. All of this occured at the hands of Hitler, Stalin and their henchmen. Earlier I said that Nonna lost almost everybody and everything that she cared for. There were two things that she would not lose. The first was her dignity. Her father had taught her at an early age that no matter what happens to you in life, never lose your kind spirit and inner strength that you are made of. Always carry yourself with dignity, no matter how ugly things get. Nonna learned that lesson and passed it down to her children, for that we are blessed. The second thing that Nonna could not lose was her Soul. You see, her Soul was given to the Lamb of God at an early age, and Jesus had a firm grasp on that Soul, and no one, not even Hitler could take it away from those hands.
I'm not going to preach here, but I will state a fact that I am 100% sure of. If someone came into your life today and told you that they would take care of every bill and debt that you had, no matter how old or how much you owed, how would you feel? That's right, you would forever have total financial security and never want or need anything. Do you think that you would have a Peace come over you? I will tell you that your most ugliest debt has already been taken care of by an innocent Lamb, all of your debts have been washed away by the blood of that Lamb. That Lamb is Jesus Christ and all he asks from us is that we believe with all our hearts that the debts are gone. Nonna had faith in God to see her through the darkest of hours known to mankind, and believe me, she would never have made it without that faith. So, my friends, I have a simple question to ask and that is Are You Washed In The Blood Of The Lamb?
Happy Easter
Love John