The LIE

I suspect any concession announcement from President Trump’s will mirror one of his most influential—and malicious—political LIES. However, I won’t be surprised if our current president never utters anything acknowledging his defeat or congratulating President-elect Biden.

Citizen Trump was arguably the highest profile “celebrity” to publicly doubt former President Barack Obama’s place of birth. Mr. Trump was a birther. Though there were earlier clues about Trump questioning Obama’s citizenship, his 2011 appearance on Good Morning America represents his flagrant LIE meeting his biggest audience.

Tweets inevitably followed.

When the then New York real estate mogul and former reality TV star came down the Trump Tower elevator to declare his presidential bid in 2015, the LIE was one of his favorite calling cards. Speak or tweet the LIE and reactions followed. Many jeered . . . how wrong and misguided that LIE was. But many, in particular those who were forming his political base, cheered.

Citizen Obama had job interviews, applications to colleges, and campaigned successfully and unsuccessfully for political office. His background was known. Individuals and institutions had endlessly vetted him over the years. Had his citizenship been a question, it would have been questioned early and often. However, there was nothing to question. Continue reading →

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The Last Day of Gainful Employment

groupIt is over.

The “Amen” has arrived.

August 27, 2020 was my last day of gainful employment at Hinds Hospice. In August of 2010, I started as a volunteer. I mostly visiting hospice patients in their homes whenever the Volunteer Coordinator gave me an assignment. In the summer of 2011, the person in charge of Hinds’ Center for Grief and Healing was wondering about having a volunteer handle some of the Medicare-required bereavement calls. Kathy Cromwell interviewed me and decided to take a risk on this grumpy old fella.

It was a risk because it required extensive training, trust I would do the work, and (drum roll, here) giving a volunteer complete access to the confidential medical records of all past and present patients served by Hinds Hospice. Continue reading →

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On Suicide: Thanksgiving with a Phone

suicides
And yet, all day long, I thought about suicide. Has there been a suicide in my family? Yes. Has there been one in yours?

At 6:02am on Thursday morning, I clicked onto the Hinds Hospice employee intranet to access the payroll information. After selecting the correct menu choices, I was officially on-call for Thanksgiving 2019.

A few months back, I had agreed to the turkey-day shift for our LOSS team program. My wife and I don’t have kids. Our parents have died. Our siblings live in various places across the country. I have colleagues with children and nearby family. It just seemed right and fair to be the on-call for one of the major holidays.

LOSS is the acronym for Local Outreach to Suicide Survivors. This program officially began last July (2019), mostly funded by Fresno County and under the “umbrella” of Hinds Hospice’s Center for Grief and Healing. At its simplest, LOSS will respond to any suicide as quickly as possible after being contacted by the police or coroner’s office. Two people—a clinician and a volunteer—will go to the scene to provide support and information to the family and friends impacted by a loved one’s suicide.

Arguably the most crucial action the LOSS team does is get contact information for the “survivors.” In the moments, hours, and days after a family member or friend has died by suicide, an entire universe has been shattered. Emotions are on a runaway roller coaster. Doing routine tasks become like climbing El Capitan without ropes. Tender memories clash with the new grim reality of non-stop, unanswerable questions. Continue reading →

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