John Andrist: Death Stalks Us

There are a number of things on which I would like to comment this week, but I hope you will forgive my silence, because this is a week for grieving.

Sheila Schafer, the first lady of Medora, died this week. Perhaps you weren’t aware I was engaged to her for about five years — in jest of course. We called it betrothed.

In a friendly but spirited bantering session with Clay Jenkinson, when I first began to bond with her, she had just told him she was divorcing him, and I butted in — “I’ll take you”. And she accepted.

Of course, there was no marriage planned, but it provided both of us with loads of fun in the past few years.

We would say such things as, “We don’t plan to marry. That would spoil our fun.”

But in our own way we really did love each other, even though both of us have any number of folks we love with a somewhat similar type of passion.

I particularly love the female gender, especially those with the passion and zest which was Sheila’s hallmark. She lived at least five or ten years after she should have died, because of her enormous zest for life.

Medora is having a black tie fund raising event in June, and she wanted me to be her date. It will be hard to go without her.

[mks_pullquote align=”right” width=”300″ size=”24″ bg_color=”#ffffff” txt_color=”#000000″]Life is sometimes difficult. Death always is.[/mks_pullquote]

I mourn too the death of a 26-year old man I never really knew, and you probably didn’t, as well.

Lucas Anderson put a different face on the scourge of drug addiction for me. He died of an overdose of heroin laced with fentanyl last week.

He wasn’t the face I have imagined about addiction. He came from a strong Christian family my daughters know well, and adore. He was an incredibly accomplished classical pianist with bright prospects for a musical future.

He looked nothing like the addict in my mind’s eye. And confused as I am, I am convinced he probably wasn’t. So why did he die this early in life, and in this horrible way? I simply don’t know and cannot understand.

But his death has convinced me I will never vote to legalize marijuana or any other drug. If it can have some medicinal benefits for some of us, the active ingredient should be dispensed only in a pharmacy with a doctor’s instruction.

If we really long to see America great again, it won’t happen unless we start with ourselves, employing hearts and brains that don’t have to be altered just for selfish fun.

And then, there were a couple special local ladies. My hometown buried Doris Retzer, one of the kindest, special members of the extended family I acquired when I married.

And Bernice Berg from Lignite. Both she and her husband were among the nicest Lignite ever produced.

Life is sometimes difficult. Death always is.

Thinking about vaccination

One time in my youth I went to a doctor because I was so terrified. I had a sore throat, and there had recently been stories of a number of deaths from diphtheria.

And with a bit of hypochondria I often dwelled with fear about contracting polio. Particularly after visiting a friend living on his back in the prison of an iron lung.

Long ago, in one of the world’s largest epidemics one-tenth of the world population died from smallpox — now a disease that has been eradicated by vaccines.

So I’ve never had to be convinced about the efficacy of vaccination. Few things in life have done as much to liberate us from fear.

Most vaccines don’t only protect us. They also protect those with whom we have contact — particularly good friends and family members.

Sometimes when I’m complaining about unreasonable medical bills, I think about some of the amazing things medical science has brought us.

Call it comfort money.

Rob Port is the editor of SayAnythingBlog.com, a columnist for the Forum News Service, and host of the Plain Talk Podcast which you can subscribe to by clicking here.

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