Essays/Opinion

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Emotional Support

“Following the death of a loved one, there may be a significant need to reach out for emotional support. This can be accomplished through a support group, an understanding cleric, a professional funeral practitioner or a therapist. How do you know if you need professional assistance? If you find that you have unanswered questions or that you need a tool to help you cope with the loss, you might benefit from professional support. When you break your limb, you go to a qualified care professional for proper wound care. Continue Reading →

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Letter Regarding the Monument Removals in New Orleans

The letter below was submitted by Leslie Quillen regarding the removal of the monuments in New Orleans:

“At 6:06 pm, CST, The death of the city of New Orleans was completed. All for a forked tongued politician with no social etiquette and no morals to be king of the hill. He blames the greatest military men in history of being racist, slave owning, and destroyers of the unity of the original America. He lies, cheats, and steals, and says the crime rate is due to four monuments that have been standing for over 100 years. He paid city workers to destroy monuments that are protected under Federal law. Continue Reading →

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The Master Healer

The older I get, the more I realize that people tend to develop their own distinctive doctrines in life.  In general, people will take a truth and alter it to comfortably fit it into their own understanding or habits.  The problem with this adaptation is that one day that which we have justified, almost always, inconveniently justifies itself.  A truth that is altered even slightly for convenience, comfort, or for any other reason, will at some point, reveal its truth in its entirety.  When this happens, one’s world rattles, and we see people who have always been confident in their convictions, falter.  The realization that our own justifications in life justify themselves, may well set us back to a place where we may question our abilities in almost every facet of life. I have a friend who is a retired medical practice manager.  She has a unique insight into the interpretations and justifications of medical practitioners.  One of the things she has always told me, is that certain medical professionals tend to callous themselves toward human pain.  To an extent, one might be able to justify some level of callousness in this profession.  One might suggest that to endure treating thousands of pain suffering human beings, one must shield oneself from their suffering.  On the other hand, one might suggest, to become blind to their pain is to become inhumane toward their quality of life.  It is an interesting argument, one that I am sure medical practitioners struggle with constantly. I have another friend.  She is a retired medical practitioner.  I have observed that she has lived by my first friend’s observations, and has to an extent, justified shielding herself from the acknowledgment of pain.  The problem with justifying a truth, is that it somehow spills over into other aspects of our lives.  I am sure that when my friend began her medical career, seeing people suffer physical pain was emotionally distressing to her.  As she became an experienced medical practitioner, I could see that the pain of others distressed her less and less.  In fact, as time pressed forward, I could see that not only did the physical pain of her patients seem to only be an inconvenient notation, eventually; their emotional pain became equally inconvenient.  Of course, for both issues, there were treatments she could prescribe, doctors she could refer, or labels she could assign. The loss of a loved one is immensely painful.  The loss of an immediate loved one is beyond that.  The pain of immediate loss is so overpowering that it can become instantly life threatening to the survivor.  I see it daily.  It is something over which I cannot callous.  Recently, my medical practitioner friend lost her husband.  Throughout her years of practice, she has had thousands of opportunities to study disease and recovery.  Opportunities to study the recovery of the human spirit, however, have been lost to her as she calloused herself to them.  Those experiences would be great resources to draw upon for application toward the pain she must now endure.  Instead, she faces her recovery through this experience as an infant. The master healer taught recovery through spiritual mastery.  Love, although encompassing elements of physical attraction and emotional fulfillment, is a spiritual endowment.  Grief, brought on through the death of a loved one, thereby, requires a spiritual recovery.  It is the most difficult and dreaded recovery man faces. Continue Reading →

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Missing Presidential Picture Sparks Discussion on Facebook

 

Texarkana, USA- In Texarkana, the United States Post Office and Court House on Stateline Avenue has had the portraits of Presidents and Vice Presidents over the exit doors from the main lobby for as long as most can remember.  The most recent President to hang there was President Obama.  His portrait came down during the transition of power and office to President Trump.  As is the custom, the new President and Vice President both had official portraits taken and then distributed by the government.  It has now been almost four months since the change in Washington.  In Texarkana, at one of the most visited sites in the city, the unique federal courthouse still does not have the new President’s picture hanging in the traditional spot. A recent post to the Miller County Republican Facebook page noted the lack of the President’s picture and comments have been expanding ever since.  Comments have been from things like “Good” to “Someone needs to get the pictures up.”   The post has now been shared on the Texarkana Cheers and Jeers page.  Needless to say, on that page comments have been a little more diverse. The bottom line is President Trump is not popular with a lot of people.   It almost seems that if he said, “Milk is good for you,” someone would be standing nearby to say, “He’s trying to kill all the lactose intolerant people!”  Just like any other President in our nation’s history, some people like him, and some people do not like him.  Republicans were very vocal in their opposition to President Obama, it’s only fair that Democrats would now be vocal about their opposition to President Trump.  However, all that opposition does not change one important fact.  Trump is the President.  Had Clinton won, then Clinton would be the President.  It was the same when Bush won, when Clinton won, when Reagan won, when Carter won, and so on.  The person elected by our system to be President is sworn in and becomes President.  You may not like him or her and you can vocalize that – one of the perks of a free country – but regardless of how you may feel, that person is still President. All this though boils down to one important question.  Why has the new President and Vice-President’s portraits not been hung up at the courthouse? Continue Reading →

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The Death Certificate

It seems that there is always confusion during the arrangement conference when it comes time to order death certificates.  When I ask the next of kin if they know how many they would like to purchase, I will usually offer an explanation about reasons death certificates are necessary.  At this point, families will respond with a quick answer, or they will begin counting reasons that they do, or do not, need a certain number of them. A death certificate proves dissolution of a decedent’s legal claims on properties and responsibilities over debts.  Therefore, anything that is legal, financial, binding, contractually consumable, or requires stewardship or ownership, requires a death certificate. If you are trying to count the number of death certificates you will need to order, it is easier to think in categories.  First, consider your decedent’s financial obligations, both positive and negative.  These would include bank accounts, retirement accounts, investments, insurance policies, loans, credit cards, dependent children, etc.  Second, consider properties your decedent owned or was purchasing.  These would include his or her home, rental properties, investment properties, vacation properties, automobiles, motorcycles, recreational vehicles, airplanes, boats, trailers, anything that requires a title, etc.  Last of all, consider any utilities for which your loved one was responsible.  These would include cell phones, cable, electricity, gas, water, sewer, waste removal, landlines, internet service, secondary property utilities, etc. Quite often families will suggest that they will merely purchase one death certificate and make copies to distribute.  The lists above are legal obligations.  Legal obligations require legal documentation to dissolve responsibility or ownership; a copy will not suffice.  Copies will work for a family member’s journal of family records and history. When considering the purchase of death certificates, it is always better to order at least one more than you think you will need.  As one’s privacy is protected while living, so too will one enjoy this right after death.  Obtaining additional death certificates later on is not a quick nor necessarily easy process, nor is it available to just anyone.  In order to obtain a death certificate after the immediate issue, one must be able to prove immediate kinship.  Quite often, this is not convenient.  Also, an amount of time involved adds to the frustration of obtaining additional certificates. Continue Reading →

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An Appeal to Heaven (1775)

If found guilty in a court of law, an accused has a right to appeal to a higher court.  Prior to the American Revolution, the Colonists presented their grievances to the court of King George III many times and pleaded for justice.  The King, however, became increasingly hostile and offered no appeal.  Patrick Henry, in his “Give me Liberty or Give me Death”speech, summarized the feelings of many, “An appeal to arms and to the God of hosts is all that is left us!”  If King George would not rule with justice, the Colonists were determined to appeal their cause to a higher Court.  Here is an example of the phrase, “An Appeal to Heaven”, seen on a flag during the Siege of Boston. “Yesterday morning, according to orders issued the day before by Major General [Isaiah] Putnam, all the Continental Troops under his immediate command assembled at Prospect Hill [Boston], when the Declaration [‘The Causes and Necessities of Taking up Arms’] of the Continental Congress was read; after which an animated and pathetic [passionate] address to the Army was made by the Rev Mr. Leonard, Chaplain to General Putnam’ sRegiment, and succeeded by a pertinent prayer…

Then General Putnam gave the signal, and the whole Army shouted their loud amen by three cheers, immediately upon which a cannon was fired from the fort, and the standard lately sent to General Putnam was exhibited flourishing in the air, bearing on one side this motto, ‘An appeal to Heaven,’ and on the other side, ‘Qui transtulit sustinet’ [‘He Who Transplanted Sustains.’]  The whole was conducted with the utmost decency, good order, and regularity, and the universal acceptance of all present.”  Essex Gazette, July 19, 1775

James Still (May 2017), RetraceOurSteps.com

“We for ten Years incessantly and ineffectually besieged the Throne [of King George]…  [Now,] in defense of the Freedom that is our Birthright… [and] With an humble Confidence in the Mercies of the supreme and impartial Judge and Ruler of the Universe, we most devoutly implore [petition] his Divine Goodness to protect us happily through this great Conflict…”  Journals of Congress,  Declaration of The Causes and Necessity of Taking Up Arms, July 6, 1775

“… to the Persecution and Tyranny of his [King George’s] cruel ministry we will not tamely submit- appealing to Heaven for the Justice of our Cause, we determine to die or be free.”  Massachusetts Provincial Congress, To the Inhabitants of Great Britain, April 26, 1775

Continue Reading →

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The Long Goodbye…The End of Bryce Number Two

When Bryce’s moved from downtown to Interstate, many felt a similar sadness as to what they are feeling this week, as we say our final goodbyes to a place that is as associated with Texarkana as the Photo Island Downtown that stands in front of the most photographed federal courthouse (and post office) in the country. Bryce Lawrence Sr. probably never imagined that his cafeteria would become the iconic landmark that it is today. Many famous people have dined in our famous Cafeteria over the years. Perot, a hometown boy was eating there long before he became the billionaire he is today. He even brought Barbara Walters along for a meal when he was running for President back in 92. Continue Reading →

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Texarkana Fallen Bikers Memorial Wall

 

Texarkana, USA – When anyone mentions a “Wall” these days, everyone seems to immediately think of President Trump’s border wall.  While taxpayers may debate, argue, and in some cases become outright violent over the wall, there is another wall people can and should think about when they hear the word “Wall.”  People in Texarkana and the surrounding areas should think seriously about the Texarkana Fallen Bikers Memorial Wall. The organization is working as a non-profit to build a wall in Texarkana that will pay tribute and remember bikers who have fallen.  Often there is a misconception in society that bikers are bad.  They show up in long beards, tattoos, loud roaring bikes and leather from top to bottom.  People meeting them on the road get an immediate image in their mind of some big, evil motorcycle gang plowing through town looking to do no good.  The truth is the overwhelming majority of motorcycle clubs and bikers are decent and great folks.  Many are lawyers, doctors, construction workers, and business leaders.  To go further many of them are friends, neighbors, brothers, sisters, fathers, sons, daughters, mothers, grandparents and many other social titles that are too often overlooked.  At times society does not see beneath the beards, tattoos, leather and roaring bikes to see men and women who are part of our community.  They are part of us and when they die in a motorcycle accident, they take a small part of us with them. The Texarkana Fallen Bikers Memorial Wall will list the names of those who have died in motorcycle accidents.  Often these accidents are not the riders fault.  Too many times a rider is not seen by motorist, ignored, or the motorist simply isn’t paying attention.  Unlike being hit in a car, when a motorcyclist is hit, his or her chances of survival drastically reduce.  It is the hope of the organization that the wall will serve as a memorial and bring attention to the need to “Look Twice” pay attention and “Share the road” with cyclist.  By giving Texarkana a place to see the numbers and know the names, this wall can make a difference. A few weeks ago, the need for the wall hit home with our family.  My brother-in-law was driving his motorcycle in Florida when he was hit by a car.  Fortunately, he survived and is going through rehab now, but it could have been worse.  My brother-in-law could have ended up like others we have known.   It could have been like a friend of ours who was killed just a little over a year ago.   We first met Thomas Robison, or “Cowboy” as we called him, when he was doing some work on our home.  He was an outstanding craftsman and your typical motorcycle-looking man.  He had the long beard, the tattoos, and a look that said, “Hey, I’d like to beat the crap out of you just because,” but Cowboy was nothing like that.  He was a father, and a grand-father.  He used to share pictures of his grandchild each time he came by the house.  He always invited me to come by the clubhouse and see the work he and other members of his motorcycle club had done.  I remember one day when he was showing me some motorcycles from a show on his phone I felt the sudden urge to throw in a joke so I asked, “So, is there any Gold Wings on here?”  For a moment Cowboy looked at me like I had lost my mind – which made me wonder for that second if I had misjudged the man’s humor level- then he laughed and said, “There ain’t no Gold Wings on this phone.”  I laughed, happy that this big man saw the humor in my statement.  He was a great guy.  In fact, the last time we saw him, we were planning to have some work done on a new stairway banister.  He seemed more excited about the project that we were. On April 7, 2016, Cowboy was driving south on 71 near the Sheriff’s office in Miller County.  He was on his bike and enjoying a wonderful April afternoon.  A car, driven by someone who did not see Cowboy’s bike, turned.  Cowboy’s motorcycle and the car collided.  He died that day because someone did not see him on his motorcycle.  He left behind a son, three daughters, brothers, sisters, and seven grandchildren.  Cowboy was 58 years young. Continue Reading →

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Save our State by Balancing the Budget Responsibly

Oklahoma – We are approaching a critical deadline in Oklahoma as we near the end of the legislative session. No comprehensive budget solution has moved forward to address the roughly $1 billion shortfall facing our state. Both Governor Fallin and the House Democratic caucus have released plans to balance the budget by raising new revenues, but the House of Representatives as a whole has not unveiled their solutions at this point. Legislative leaders in the majority are working to find consensus within the body to provide the necessary 76 votes needed to pass any revenue raising measures, but time is running short. This state budget deficit is not a new problem. Continue Reading →

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Church Lady

Last night, my husband and I were privileged to have a dear family of friends visit us.  We met our friends in Las Vegas NV at the very beginning of our journey into becoming funeral professionals.  We have not seen our friends since their youngest daughter was a toddler.  She is now a bright teenager and her older sister is on her way to college.  Their brother is an encyclopedia of historical facts. As the men of our families were in the back room excitedly exploring firearms and ammunition, the women were in the sitting room discussing life.  My friend began telling me about a woman from her church whose husband passed away as a young father.  His family was very active in their church and at the time of his death, his wife was out of town with their three very young children.  His death was discovered by my friend’s brother-in-law who was so alarmed by his friend’s absence from church one Sunday, that he went to his home to check on him.  It was then that this young father’s death was discovered. One can only imagine the devastation suffered by his widow; a young mother with three young children, suddenly finding herself the sole parent and provider.  Even more devastating, the guilt of being out of town, upon his premature death, had to weigh heavily upon her soul.  Of course, she was completely unprepared for such an unexpected, catastrophic event.  Everyone who knew her had concerns for her future. Under these circumstances, the outlook for most survivors is bleak.  This widow, however, although unprepared herself, was generously blessed by someone who was prepared.  My friend’s sister-in-law was this widow’s dear friend.  Upon the death of her husband, her friend became the friend we all wish for in times of crisis.  Her friend called her every day.  She took up the slack as the young widow mourned the loss of her husband.  She became her friend’s nonjudgmental confidant as she traveled through the difficult stages of grief recovery.  She sacrificed her time and her freedom, and became whatever and whomever her friend needed for recovery until her recovery was complete. After some time, a young father who had lost his wife, moved within the boundaries of their church.   The young widow and the young widower shared a life’s experience that none of us care to experience with them.  In time, the two families became one, and each of the living parents honorably filled the vacant roles of the lost parents. Continue Reading →

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