Saturday, December 2, 2017

Legacy Painting

You know I consider myself a humble working man. I attempt to keep ego from most conscious acts. But there is a vein of vanity undeniably running through my mind. I've tried to instill small but poignant characteristics in my sons. Things like humor, simplicity, commit, loyalty, don't depend on others, work, be still, basic notions centering one's being. My vanity desires me to be remembered, in the grand cosmic scheme this is futile. In just a couple generations no one will know or care if I ever took a breath. Still I try. Even this blog is a meager attempt to leave a footprint in the sand.
Now grandchildren have populated my mental landscape and the reality of remembrance tugs stronger. So I'll share an example of my futility. I've commissioned a beautiful and significant painting for my son and daughter-in-law's new home. Auspiciously it's a house warming gift. But more than that, when my granddaughters look at it hopefully they will think of me. Here's where my fantasy expands. When my son gets old and leaves this painting to one of his daughters, and she has children, she can share the history of it's meaning. My family has moved ever farther from the inner city and one day their progeny won't have an inkling of what urban life was like. But a cable car in a cityscape will or can be a starting point for tales of the past. My past!

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Winter Is Here

Winter darkness has descended. I never like adjusting to shorter days. My rhythm gets confused. Daily rituals, if you can categorize them as such, because they do vary, manifest themselves at the wrong time of day. It's disconcerting. These small, mostly inconsequential variations, are just the tip of the proverbial iceberg. The avalanche of commercialism has begun. The "season" has emerged in full force. The abundance of candy (sugar) from Halloween has yet to be completely consumed, and Christmas bargains already inundate us. I'll admit my abhorrence for excess is a personal problem, the rest of the family finds laughable. I think I'm considered a lovable curmudgeon and do get infected with their holiday enthusiasm, albeit reluctantly. To enhance the commentary I'll add a couple of photos from the Halloween extravaganza.


So here you have me with the grim reaper. Don't we look like fast pals, it won't be long now! And the rest of the Rahers all decked out for "trick or treating" which was a smashing success. You see this is how these holidays play out. I see the negative side and resist with limited vigor, feeling it's hoopla over nothing. It's intrusive, it's obligatory, it takes effort, then the guilt for resisting, participation, and ultimately a fine time, simply a roller coaster ride of self induced emotions. Am I nuts? That's what I ask myself each morning over coffee. This was just Halloween, the heavy hitters are waiting in the wings. Thanksgiving, Hanukkhah, Christmas, New Year, and throw in a birthday or two, and Veterans Day, well you get the picture. Sometimes I feel like a salmon swimming up stream. I love my family as individuals and I love being with them individually. But from a stress standpoint this is not my favorite time of year, but I'm sure when surrounded by smiling faces and the love that goes with them, I'll succumb to heartwarming joy. Lest they forget though, I'll remind them with my t-shirt!

Friday, August 4, 2017

Thoughts On 69th Birthday

This past weekend I celebrated my 69th birthday. The significance of this particular one was the convergence of family. You see Brendan's family, which now included Quinn Rose (3 months) was coming from their home in Portland. This fact, meaning all of my sons and their offspring would be in one location at the same time, unusual, prompted me to invite my sister. We haven't seen each other in nearly a decade, and she has never seen her great grand nieces and nephews, so a perfect storm had emerged. After some logistical finagling all was set. She arrived. Brendan arrived. Brother Casey lives near so no problem there. Cassidy and Lauren opened their home for the festivities.
69 years old, wow! My memory swirls like I'm in a time tornado, visualizing myself as a youngster sitting at my grandfather's knee, looking up at his white hair, cigar smoke spiraling toward the ceiling, and thinking how incomprehensible and different older people and old age was. Bam! Now I'm my grandfather. How did I get here? Do my grandkids look at me and wonder, wonder if I ever played games, or ran fast, or laughed out loud, probably. I look at myself and wonder where it all went. The mind in all it's trickery, desire, tells me, yes I can, but the body, the bones, the muscles, the physical screams differently. The swirling continues as my life and all the phases, phases I've nurtured and wish lasted forever, phases leading to destruction, halted abruptly and dismissed, phases I return to periodically to remember, all swirling in the tornado of my mind. Yet here I stand. Fortunate! I've learned a few things, while trying to stay awake during this lifetime. It's pretty simple really, and fundamental, don't dwell on the past so that is paralyses you, and don't be anxious about the future so that it paralyses you. Well, that leaves trying with some effort to live in the present. I guess at 69 it's a bit easier to live in the present, because the future is at arms length and the past, you know what they say, the memory is the first to go.
So having my sibling with me, who knows when that will happen again, if ever, meant a great deal.
I also think the significance of our convergence worked in reverse. My sons and their wives and children have never seen the Raher crew together, so I'm sure they all derived some insight into the strengths and flaws DNA hands down to those unsuspecting progeny. Never the less they are Rahers and will carry that name come what may. I might add, now in the present, having family, a family that not only survived but will now thrive, fills me with immeasurable joy, pride, satisfaction and tears!!

Saturday, December 17, 2016

Time, Who Cares?

Everyday I think of my past, what I can remember. Age, getting old, is by far the impetus for such incessant remembering. The journey from one time, youth, to another time, now, is littered with sign posts. Some were heeded, others obviously not. Now, retrospectively, I can analyze choices made, and the ramifications which occurred. Which brings me to regret. I have to admit, I have many regrets, but what, if any, role do they play in my everyday life. No role whatsoever I say. Sitting here, at this computer, writing what I think, is a blessing. A blessing, because I made a wrong choice, or many wrong choices, long ago? Maybe, a decision which in turn led me to these words. So should I regret that, as a wrong turn somewhere in the past. No. Value is defined in one sense, the quality (positive or negative) that renders something desirable or valuable. Now able to express myself, is most desirable, therefore has a great deal of value for me. Hence the journey of life, following or avoiding sign posts, zigging and zagging whimsically, or despairingly, is defined by the desire of that moment. All valuable in the end.
     It's the Christmas season. When I think of seasons, I think of Nature's seasons, or a baseball season, in other words a lengthy period of time. The Christmas season has become, or maybe it always was, much too long. But what is intrinsically desirable (valuable) about Christmas is the convergence of family and friends. I like Christmas movies. Movies that depict grown children returning to their family homes. The notion of wallowing in familiar sights and aromas. Seeing a bedroom untouched by time, or a dad snug in a worn chair watching football, a mom stirring a holiday tradition in a large bowl, siblings arriving with presents and smiles, is what we anticipate and desire. The value of the season.
into the sunset I go
     Sentimental. I'm sentimental for memories and experiences in the future. A regret, of course. I'd love to witness my grandchildren returning to their childhood homes as adults. When I visit my son's homes, I see the incubation, the embryonic stages of holiday traditions. It warms my heart, simply because they are extensions of our traditions, desires, values and they will nurture and augment them for posterity. As I slip and slide off this mortal coil, I'm blessed with family, sentiment, regrets, extremely valuable. I guess I'm valuable!
the future I'll miss

Saturday, September 3, 2016

Hep C Add

https://www.hepmag.com/article/thomas-raher I'm adding this link to HEPMAG.COM, because it's the edited version for publication, and it has the answers to the survey questions. I like those and think they should be included.

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Fog City

A life ride

I noticed a hardness in my midsection. I didn’t worry because I assumed it would go away. A few weeks passed and the condition seemed slightly worse. I decided to go to the doctor. It had been awhile since my last physical, so my visit would provide a proper overview. After I explained my concern, my doctor conducted his brief examination. To my surprise, he asked if I’d experienced intravenous drug use. I said yes, some 35 years earlier, why? My liver was enlarged and blood work was immediately ordered. Boom! I had Hepatitis C and some cirrhosis.
Shock! How could this be? I knew but still couldn’t believe it. My mind reeled. There wasn’t a cure. My liver would deteriorate until it no longer functioned, and I would die. This thought wracked my mind. I was tormented by the notion of my youthful indiscretions, stupidity and arrogance. The anger and futility of not knowing until it was too late, haunted me. Why would a virus wait 35 years to raise its ugly head. Certainly this was a cruel and unusual punishment for such a minor infraction.
Hmmm…resilience, courage, sense of humor! Good judgement comes from experience… experience comes from bad judgement.
I look in the mirror. I shudder to think a disease is working overtime to kill me. I look so normal and vibrant. I feel cheated, cheated out of a good portion of my life. I didn’t do anything wrong. I feel like I’m on death row, for a crime I didn’t commit. Worry!
Time passes. More tests. Explanations about treatment. Wait!
How will it come this death? I only hope suddenly and unexpected. But I dare say that probably won’t be the case. Yet, I don’t want to linger, feeble, with staring eyes reminding me of what I’ll miss. Dying is fearful, but paradoxically has a calming affect. Simply put, all my other incidental manias and anxieties have been relegated trivial.
Never discount prayer. I invoke the Prayer of St. Francis: grant that I may not so much seek to be loved, as to love. For it is in giving, that I receive, and it is in dying, that I’m born to eternal life.
The night time is the worse. Sleep comes grudgingly. I think of the death process. The blood flow dammed in the liver, nutrients never reaching their destination. Toxins build and spread, I turn yellow. Sleep!
Daily life goes on. Family obligations and social functions, all provide necessary distractions from my self examination. Never the less it continues. I think of the books I haven’t read, and the ideas I haven’t said. All the unseen components which are me, and I’m saddened.
Now begins the treatment. Interferon and Ribavirin. Pills and injections, constantly for a full year, with a success rate of maybe 30%. Needless to say the side affects were significant. The earlier mental anguish, was replaced or expanded by pharmaceutical induced depression, fatigue, nausea, anemia and all manner of grumpiness. Denying depression and moodiness, when questioned by loving family members, became difficult. Trying to act normal or enthusiastic about others, when I didn’t want to be bothered, was a concern. At any rate, everyone weathered the storm, including me. Unfortunately, the first blood test after completion of treatment showed high levels of the virus. So it was all for nought.
I was glad it was over. My attitude changed. I figured the slow pace of the virus would still allow me a relatively long life. I rid my psyche of negativity, and focused on all that’s positive. Grandkids. Exercise. Sons. Dear Wife. Extended Family. Nature. Goodness. Mindfulness. Humor. and the list goes on! I decided to get on with it, and I did. Although, I did keep abreast of what was happening with Hep C trials. I knew companies were close, and FDA approval was all that was necessary for new drugs. I lived my life like nothing was the matter. Lo and behold, as 2014 drew to a close, Harvoni came on the market. It was exciting because the treatment was only three months, one pill a day. The success rate was nearly 100%. I believe I was one of the early recipients. I was skeptical of course. But three months after completion, the benchmark, the virus was gone, kaput, undetectable, cured!
I was sixty years old when this roller coaster ride began. My wife and I raised three sons and they have given me four grandchildren. I worked all my life. Reminiscing about the random chaos of the late sixties and early seventies, and how I successfully survived, gives me peace of mind. Now at sixty eight, another bout won, I’m pleased to witness my progeny, and proclaim, Hallelujah!

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Fog City

For some reason my attention span, my due diligence, my ability to concentrate, have been under attack. My will power has mysteriously abandoned me. I've done some soul searching, and analyzing daily habits or lack of, and have come to the conclusion, social media and it's addicting capacity, is the very culprit. I've been spending unnecessary amounts of time wandering in cyber space. For what? Not very much indeed. A lot of trivia, some useful, most not. An overwhelming amount of depressing politics, and entertainment news that I can't even relate to. I need to step back, push away, set down the iPhone, and go to the book store for long delayed purchases, and write, here.

50 years! A long time right? I look around and one social phenomenon trending for quite awhile now, is tattoo art, or ink. The reason I've pondered ink, is I've witnessed the evolution, or devolution, of this form of personal statement. Which I find, certainly from a distance, indecipherable, but sometimes attractive. Why would I care, well I have a tattoo. It is a daily reminder of a time etched in my memory. A time of rebellion, a time of stress, a time of upheaval, a time of aloneness, experiencing the rawness of life. A time of actions without regard for consequences, and there were many. One such reckless act was drinking beer as a teenager, in a car full of buddies, riding around at night, trying hopelessly to impress each other. Well it seems we were impressing a police cruiser, who happened to be following us. As we turned a corner, the only recourse was to hurl a six pack of beer out the window. Needless to say that ploy didn't save us from detection, as the cops saw what happened, and immediately flashed their lights, and hit the siren, pulling us over. Busted! Well this was the first step in getting a tattoo.

Naturally I was arrested, detained and charged with possession of alcohol as a minor. I was 17, a senior in high school, but had, I thought undeservedly, in the eyes and attitudes of the authority, a reputation as a juvenile delinquent. Needless to say I was made an example, to deter other potential delinquents, and received the rather harsh sentence, of 90 days in the county jail. One education was ending and another was beginning. The finality of a jail cell door clanging shut, requires an immediate mental adjustment. At 17 I learned stoicism and silence were tools needed to guard against chaos. I settled in and watched. After some time, a gregarious character approached and asked if I wanted a tattoo. I was aware, jail and the military were the only places tattoos were accepted and encouraged. I asked questions about the method, and he told me it was simple enough. Wrap a wad of thread around the point of needle, and dip it in a small bottle of India ink. He would then dab the needle point into my arm repeatedly. Time consuming for sure, but we had plenty of that.

What should it be? I didn't know, but common in jail houses were the usual: mom, a girl friend's name, born to lose, different numbers, hearts, assorted simplistic ink, vacant of any intellectual depth. Since I was at rock bottom and didn't give damn, I chose born to lose. And since marijuana or refer madness, was associated with outcasts and delinquents, the number 13 was added. You see M is the 13th letter of the alphabet. Jail house mentality at it's finest. So I sat there day after day, while he poked at my arm. I felt I was sitting for a portrait. Only my tattoo would last longer.  Do I regret it, sure, it's one of many regrets. When I shuffle off this mortal coil, who really cares. On the balance sheet of life I've gained far more than I ever lost.