Honor and Respect

A co-worker asked me last night how long I had been married.

’30 some years.’

‘Quite an accomplishment’ he stated, ‘How’d ya manage?’.

I really don’t have an answer, but I like to think it has something to do with the truth that I married my best friend, and that friendship has endured. Friendships are built on trust, mutual respect, understanding and compassion.

Given that it’s International Women’s day, I think it’s appropriate I be reflective of the women in my life. When I think about it, it’s been the women in my life who have shaped who I am today. Sure, my dad was a huge influence, but in my house, growing up, the dominate influence and lawgiver was my mother. My father and mother had a working relationship, an equal foundation to raise their children, but my father was gone a lot. I didn’t always get along with my mother, and I find that my role today as a primary caretaker for her, is one that I cherish. In a lot of ways, I’m closer to her now then when I was growing up, raising my own family.  I have an older sister who I love, but don’t talk with much, and I suppose that’s on me. Barb has a good heart, has always been socially aware, and a lot of my social beliefs, to strive for social justice, derive from her, and I’ll always be thankful for that. Her daughter, Shelby, an army vet, now grown with a family of her own, is a lot like her mom, and that inspires me. I’m simply impressed with how Shelb manages such a full and rewarding life. I remember my grandmother, a farmers wife, who put up with a ton of emotional abuse from my grandfather in the early years. Things I didn’t know about till I was much older, and things I didn’t want to believe. Then there’s my Aunt Lil, who always had a brewing pot of coffee, and a kitchen table ready for me when I wanted to talk. Lil was my go to person, and when I think of compassion and understanding, my Aunt comes to mind. Her passing was my first real sense of grief and sorrow.

And then there’s my wife, Theresa. I’m a good ten years older than Teri and I met her when she was babysitting for my sister. She was only 17, and I was 26. Her mother, Jeanette, had me over for a roast beef dinner, and asked me bluntly what my intentions were, with her daughter. Teri didn’t fall far from that tree. Deeply religious, steadfast in her convictions, Jeannette was shocked when she found out Rock Hudson was gay, but she simply refused to be judgmental. She loved Rock Hudson. I remember that conversation over dinner, I’ll always remember her love and faith in me, to treat her daughter with respect.

My wife isn’t perfect, I’m not either, we both realize that, admit it, talk about our mistakes, then move on. Together. If you were to ask me what love is, I couldn’t put it in words, but I would hope her mother is smiling down upon us, knowing that I’ve honored her simple request to treat Teri with honor and respect.

I owe all the women in my life that.

Cafe Conversations at the End of the Universe

I watched the dying embers of the universe, lost in a millennium of thoughts. Time had been lost, I reached for my coffee, felt the coldness of the ceramic, and left it.

“So you’re not happy with how it turned out?”

I turned to God, who shared the cheap Formica café booth, and just took his presence in. There was nothing left to say, it was all gone.

“It was meant, by design to end like this.” God was saying as I lifted my coffee cup to the thick, tank like woman who was our sole waitress among empty booths, “There was a thought, to let it continue, but there was no purpose in doing so.”

I met the woman’s eyes as she filed my cup, and gave a slight nod, then turned to God. “But what was the purpose to begin?”


I saw a shifting pattern of stars in the eyes of God, and noted the sorrow.

God tapped out a quick forefingered rap on the chipped Formica, and raised his white mug, didn’t drink, and then sat it down.

“Have you ever wondered why you’re setting here with me?” he asked.

I had, but never asked.

“Because you’re lonely?”

The corner of my eye caught a galaxy dwindle to dust, scattered by the remaining cosmic winds.

“Not in the sense, of being alone, of being without companion. More in the sense of purpose.” God replied turning his head toward the great window we were seated at. “Existence is futile without purpose.”

I furrowed my brow, wrapped my palms around my cup, not wanting to look God in the large void of now starless eyes.

“You created existence to give meaning to your own? You didn’t find it, and now it all ends?”

“Or perhaps I found purpose, and I no longer have the need I once had?”

God smiled.

I frowned.

God noticed.

“You had a good life, why the frown?” A star exploded, and died in his pupil.

“Because apparently I had no purpose of my own.” I answered as the last light of the star dwindled into darkness.

“Purpose is not given. Purpose must be found, my old friend.”

My sight crossed over to the waitress, who stood behind the counter wrapping silverware in pleated napkins, laying each bundle neatly in a row.

I wondered who she was expecting?

Rob Paxton

Are We Stupid, Or What?

I was twenty years old walking through an airport in Germany, and I remember thinking how grateful I was that I lived in a country where there weren’t armed police officers every thousand feet. I couldn’t imagine living under such a presence, of threat and security. Forty years later, here we are, wanting to turn our schools into armed camps.

Is this who we are? Is this the best answer? Where will we be ten years down the road? I don’t have the answers, but I’ve got a few thoughts.

Based upon personal experience, a person suffering from a mental health issue isn’t going to be deterred by the fact that there is, or might be, an armed teacher or officer on site. Jared Loughner wasn’t worried about secret service protection when he shot Gabby Giffords, neither was John Hinckley when he shot Reagan.

Most schools host a wide variety of events after the school day, from basketball games to dance shows to community classes. That means a lot more doors are open to the public. Imagine a thousand people arriving for an event, having to go through security. Who’s going to pay for that? Who would want to attend a basketball game thinking they’d have to go through that? And if there’s no security after school, whats stopping someone from hiding a gun till the next day?

As far as arming certain teachers, is that the best we can come up with? Really? What’s going to happen when a teacher kills an unruly kid because they feel their life is threatened? Or two teachers get in an argument and pull their guns? Teachers are already stressed with large class sizes, insufficient wages, lack of supplies, and behavioral challenges from their students. What right minded person would take a job like that, and be told they now have to carry a weapon?

We’re asking our local schools to carry a financial, ethical and logistical burden that they simply cannot handle, yet they will be held accountable for.

And where will it stop, armed guards at the movie theaters, in our churches, our places of business? Imagine the scene of walking through your local mall, Christmas shopping and there are armed guards with machine guns every thousand feet. That’s where we’ll be in a decade after deciding to arm teachers and having armed guards roaming the halls of our schools. Is that what we want? Is that our future?

One last thing, I don’t believe God woke up one morning and said, ‘Hmmm, people have a right to own guns, and so they shall.’ If you’re thinking God gave you that inalienable right, you might want to try looking for a more peace loving God.

Rob Paxton

It’s an Old Battle

that’s getting old, and worn. Are we a Nation with inalienable rights granted by God? Or are we a Nation of Government, those rights granted by man? One would think the separation of Church and State as a founding ideal answers that question. It does for some, and for others it leads to a quagmire, a moral quest to define the world they live in, where their lives, and ours, are defined by God.

I prefer a Government of men, men you can hold accountable. Men who should hold other men accountable.

The Conservative view that we are a nation under God serves their business practices. That they alone are answerable to God, and not Government. That a Government of men have no right to regulate their business practices, to hold them accountable for fair pay, decent work hours, and safe working conditions.

I don’t necessarily trust in God, that’s not to say I don’t pray, but I’ve learned that answers and action are few and far between, if ever.  Not to mention, individual belief in God differs from person to person, just as it does from religion to religion.

Rob Paxton

Assholes Among Us

If I had to choose a friend, or companion to spend my life with, and my only two options were a child that suffers a horrible medical condition, and the other, a person who advocates for abortion of those children who suffer a horrible medical condition, I’d choose the child. Every time, every.single.time.

My blood boils and roils when I read shit like this. We all carry burdens, we all face hardships, trials and tribulations. We all suffer to some degree. What makes us human is our ability to care for each other, to understand the suffering of others because we’ve been there. It’s a collective experience.

At least for most of us.

The rest are just assholes. And no one wants to spend their time with an asshole.

Rob Paxton

The Old West

was a wonderful thing. Know what else is a wonderful thing? History! And there’s a hell of a lot of historical documentation of the American old west. Growing up with John Wayne, I had believed that everyone carried a six shooter slapped to their thigh. Turns out though, that just ain’t the case. States and local towns out on the frontier often regulated guns on their streets because they were, well, god damn tired of cowboys coming in from a cattle drive and shooting up their streets. Seems to be, if the Clantons had surrendered their guns when asked, the shootout at the OK corral would not be part of our old west lore.

I’m Not Fooled!

I was in the Navy, I know what’s going on here. This guy Mims, who’s traveled to space, and can shoot fireballs, and disappeared for a bit, doesn’t have mental health issues. What he is, is the Navy’s newest hi tech secret genetic weapon. Pete Mims is their version of the new sailor. Yes, the Navy would have you believe that, then admit they failed to help one of their own when it was, uh.. really obvious he needed it.

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Greed! The need for power, riches or fame willalways cause suffering. Williamson W. VA sets nestled in the heart of the opioid crisis where enough painkillers were dispensed by two local pharmacies, to keep good times rolling for every single person in the community, every day, nine times a day, for the last ten years.

Let that sink in as you reach for your beer this happy hour

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I’m Ready, Let’s Go.

Trump has pledged to send humans back to the moon, and beyond. I’m not holding my breath, but I’m hoping we not only walk on the moon again, but that we establish a base, an internationalbase. I’d like to see us get to Mars in my lifetime, yet like I said, I’m not holding my breath. Administrations change, goals change, policies change. For all the interest the American public has in Scifi movies, there just doesn’t seem to be an interest in space exploration, much less a human migration toward the stars. Maybe we’re afraid our dreams will be crushed once we get out there? I don’t know, but I do believe that migration will come, someday. I just won’t be around to see it, and that makes me sad, because at heart, I’m kind of a space cadet waiting for my wings.


The Outside, Looking In.

Most people I know will spout off and snicker that they don’t give a crap what other people think of ’em. Course, it’s not true, cuz we all wanna be liked, and it’s painful when someone comes along and sets us straight to some truths about ourselves we don’t like.

This report is hard to read, in that it’s heartbreaking. There’s good stuff in it as well, but overall it lays bare the problems we face as a Nation. It’s worth reading, worth thinking about, and if it doesn’t piss you off, there’s just no hope.