Decompose

Decompose: (v) to rot; putrefy

My dad died of lung cancer.

It was not a surprise—though death itself offers a certain array of misunderstandings.

He smoked all his life.

Matter of fact, he rolled his own. No filters.

So by the time cancer got to his lungs, the disease already had a climate suited for its purposes.

I was never close to my dad. The last few months of his life, he made a feeble, but noble, attempt to connect with me—but I was sixteen and in no mood for sentimental drivel.

The summer following his demise, I was old enough that I needed money of my own so I could pay for gasoline, dates and some clothes.

I joined a summer jobs campaign offered by the federal government, which paid $1.10 an hour. I ended up working at the community cemetery, mowing the grass around the graves.

I guess I was a little freaked out about it. But it was quiet, and the man in charge of the grounds didn’t hang around, supervising me, which meant I could do things at a pace that honored my laziness.

This was also the location of my father’s grave.

His site was so new that grass had not yet grown up over the pile of dirt. So every time I took my mower by his plot, I said something to him. Since we had not talked much during my growing up years, I thought I would make up for it by chatting to him in his reclining position.

It felt weird at first.

But then I struck up a conversation that prompted me to work more efficiently, actually relishing the time I had, mowing down the departed.

I will never forget, one very, very hot day, there was a smell in the air. It was a combination of rotten tomatoes, vitamins—if you put your nose right up to the jar—with a slight bit of the hay fields that surrounded our town.

It was not an unpleasant odor. After a while, I breathed it deeply into my lungs.

It was the scent of human beings simmering in their graves. It was very natural.

The job only lasted that one summer.

It’s probably good that it didn’t continue.

I was young and didn’t need to be ruminating over the sniff of those who decompose.

Debbie

Debbie: (n) a female given name.

As she skipped her way into a small frat house at Cincinnati Bible Seminary, to sit around in a tiny room with about fifteen other post-high-school strangers, to listen to imitation-hippie-music with a Christian twist, she illuminated the whole surroundings with her smile, which foretold of just a pinch of naughtiness.

She never made you work hard to feel appreciated.

I don’t think she ever met a man she didn’t like.

She wasn’t easy—just uncomplicated.

She loved to laugh.

She thrived on flirting.

And she sang like singing was second nature to her soul.

I had come to the gathering that night to find a vocalist for my up-and-coming band, and by the end of the evening I left with Debbie as my new cohort.

I traveled with her for almost three years. We threatened to become romantic, whispered promises—and we sang great music.

With my tunes, her voice and our buddy, we went all over the United States, appearing on national television, hitting the religious charts and getting to sing a song on the Grand Ole’ Opry.

She has remained my friend throughout the journey.

Even though we will never recapture those thirty-six months of music and magic, we maintain a deep-rooted friendship.

I doubt if she will ever read this.

But I know if she did, she would concur.

And oh—by the way—one of my fondest memories as a young man is the first day that she arrived poolside, wearing a bikini.

She had amazing lungs.

Crumple

Crumple: (v) to give way suddenly; collapse

I love living.

I am downright silly about my enjoyment of breathing.

I am not looking forward to dying.

I am not one of those noble souls who believes I am going to a better place, but instead, have cast my lot in constructing my own “better place” here.

Along with this devotion to inhaling and exhaling comes a certain amount of hypochondria.

It’s true.

I’m not crazy. Nor do I become a nervous wreck about every sneeze or discoloration of a wart.

But I have been known, as a young father, to scream at my children because they caught colds or the stomach flu and were dangerously threatening me with them. On occasion, this reaction has flirted with irrational.

Of late, I have had some good, long talks with myself about refusing to crumple over every little symptom that might temporarily invade my body space.

I am perfectly aware that not every headache is a brain tumor.

Indigestion crops up without foretelling of a heart attack.

And having an occasional bout with bleary eyes due to fatigue does not forewarn of blindness.

You see, I know all these things.

But trying to get my “knower” to make the short journey to my “feeler” is often implausible.

So I am aware that I’m healthy, but I still often try to mimic sick.

On these occasions, I crumple—getting a few tears in my eyes while considering my demise and how sad it will be to those I love, and even mankind as a whole.

It is foolish.

It is childish.

But when I get into one of these crumple fests, it doesn’t help me to know that I’m foolish and childish.

I just need to roll over in the morning, take a deep breath, realize that my lungs are clear, my heart is beating, and God bless America:

“I gots me another day.”

 

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Cough

Cough: (v) to expel air from the lungs suddenly with a harsh noise

“Wow. That’s a nasty cough.”

People have said that to me over the years and I to them.

It’s really sad that “cough” has such a bad reputation. Nobody ever praises it for any of its rehabilitating qualities. Once we hear a cough, it remains nasty in ourfunny wisdom on words that begin with a C
minds until it’s gone.

Of course, the reason it arrives is to help us.

Without the cough, our bronchial tubes and lungs would fill up with mucous and suffocate us. Would we like that better? Probably not.

Seems like we’re really obsessed with being critical of the cough. It comes along to remind us—to tickle our awareness—that things inside us need to be expelled. Otherwise we will never get well.

Once a cough arrives, it really is not trying to make us sicker, but would like us to get better as soon as possible, offering its hack to help out with the whoop.

But still…

We hold the cough in low regard.

Maybe it’s because deep in our hearts, we think anything that happens to us which isn’t whipped cream and candy to possess some level of injustice.

When people get sick and die, we complain—and often turn bitterly to the heavens and say, “Why did God do that?”

No one ever thinks to pose the question to the King of the Universe, “Why didn’t you send a better cough?”


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Contest

Contest: (n) a race, conflict, or other competition between rivals, as for a prize.

I have been accumulating definitions, perusing the Internet and overhearing conversations, speeches and diatribes.

I have discovered that there are many explanations offered for life. Maybe perspectives would be a better term.funny wisdom on words that begin with a C

For instance, some folks say, “Life is a journey.” My difficulty with that particular comparison is that life requires us to stop and start so often that it rarely settles on a destination, but rather, requires that we develop an enjoyment of enjoyment of the jerky jaunt.

How about this? “Life is a race.” That would require everyone to be in shape to run it. Looked around lately?

The more optimistic individuals insist that “life is a blessing.” I am suspicious of those who are seeking favor from a Universe in which they appear to barely be specks.

On the other hand, life is not a curse. “It rains on the just, the unjust” and occasionally even in the desert.

So—is life a contest? And if it is, who would be the opponent? Problems? Other people? Or are we a contestant, battling our own uncertain character?

I have discovered, after all of my accumulation, that “life is a set of breathing lungs.”

So enjoy the journey.

Race if you want to.

Be surprised over the blessings.

Laugh at the curses.

And stop contesting the things that come your way.

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Chain Smoke

Chain smoke: (v) to smoke continually, especially by lighting a new cigarette from the butt of the last one smoked

I never saw my dad smoke a chain. Yet this is what my nine-year-old mind tried to envision when my mother yelled at him and told him he
was nothing but a “damn chain smoker.”

I was aware that my father smoked cigarettes. Actually, he rolled his own. I think he saw it in a movie Western and thought it was cool, manly, and decided to take it up as a practice.

So he bought the tobacco, the papers and pretended he was the Marlboro Man.

He smoked continually. After the passing of time, he mainly smoked so he could keep from coughing. Yes–the absence of the smoke filling his lungs was such a shock to his system that he desperately needed to inhale the tobacco to make him feel normal again. For every morning in our home began with a coughing fit, lasting about twenty minutes.

I knew it was over when the smell of cigarette came floating through the house and I arose from my bed, and walked to stare at myself in the bathroom mirror, around the little speckles of my papa’s spittle.

I was the son of a smoker who decided never to smoke.

I was the son of a mother who spent a lot of time bitching, only driving her husband to more rolling and lighting.

 

Smoking is a vice.

Chain smoking is committing suicide–one drag at a time.

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Bounce

Bounce: (v) to move quickly up, back, or away from a surface after hitting it; to rebound

Junior high football had just finished. I was trying to figure out if I should try out for the basketball team.Dictionary B

I looked horrible stuffed into shorts.

But I loved basketball–at least, I thought I did.

Being very accomplished at playing the classic games, PIG and HORSE, I was pretty sure I could be stunning on the court and score many points, granting my team victory and acquiring the attention of all the cheerleaders.

So I took the leap (although I have to tell you that leaping has little to do with it.)

I found that basketball has a lot to do with bouncing.

  • First, bouncing the ball, which is referred to as dribbling–because it really doesn’t matter how well you shoot at the basket if you can’t bounce the ball to the location where shooting is practical.
  • Then there’s the running–back and forth, with little rest in between.
  • The shooting, now being accomplished with lungs only half-full of air.
  • Then there’s jumping to get the ball back and rebound it on those numerous occasions when the goal is missed.
  • Finally, running again–or is it bouncing?

Well, in basketball you can’t do one without the other.

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Asthma

Asthma: (n) a respiratory condition marked by spasms in the bronchi of the lungs, causing difficulty in breathing.dictionary with letter A

ne of the sure signs of dying is difficulty in breathing, which is followed by the surest sign of dying, which is not breathing.

So I can’t imagine a more terrifying condition than asthma, which simulates your death for you over and over again, just in case you forgot what it might be like.

I’ve only had shortness of breath once or twice in my life, and I can tell you, it was mortifying.

Death would not be so bad if you didn’t have to stop breathing. The body just downright objects to that.

I have been underwater for a few more seconds than my lungs appreciated, trying to surface, praying prayers in every single language I knew, including a few I made up, desperately paddling my way to get to oxygen again.

I think because movies have treated asthma as a condition which is handled with an inhaler or some sort of medication, we don’t really pick up how horrifying it must be to be unable to get air into your lungs.

So all of my concern and prayers go out to those who experience this condition, and have been victimized by it–and also a quick prayer for a cure.

I like to breathe.

When I was a kid I didn’t even enjoy going under water and holding my breath to compete with others, to see who could last the longest. I’ve never participated in a contest while going through a tunnel to see who could hold their breath through the whole experience.

I’m pretty well addicted to about 45 inhales and exhales every minute.

 

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Anoxia

dictionary with letter A

Anoxia: (n.) an absence of oxygen.

I felt like crap, if by saying that, you mean a discarded pile of useless waste lying in the corner, needing disposal.

I didn’t know why.

I knew I was sick. That doesn’t help very much. Being aware of illness only makes you clamor for a quick solution to get back to normalcy.

Sometimes that’s possible. A good night’s sleep is often the perfect elixir. But I had several opportunities to sleep and felt no better.

So I went to the doctor, who sent me to the hospital, and the first thing they did was put oxygen into my nostrils.

I felt very stupid having tubes coming out of my nose.

They explained that my oxygen level was not sufficient for me to get the air I needed to recover from my physical ailment. I tried to argue, but after a while felt silly objecting to something as simple as a breathing mechanism.

It was astounding.

Within an hour, just having oxygen put into my body and having the levels rise, made me feel so much better. It gave me the will to want to get well again instead of commiserating over a gloom of pending doom.

It was just oxygen–yet I needed it. I wasn’t getting it from the air. My lungs apparently had decided they were part-time labor.

But the introduction of the good stuff set in motion “good stuff” for my healing.

It got me thinking.

We’re so critical of people who are depressed, angry, poor or unmotivated.

  • We never consider that there’s a certain emotional oxygen required, the ability to tell the truth without fear.
  • How about spiritual oxygen? God is our God so we can find out how to be better people.
  • Certainly there’s a mental oxygen, which clears out the cobwebs in our brain, allowing fresh ideas to seep through.
  • And the simple physical oxygen of breathing, exercising and eating well can make us feel invincible.

I’m no longer afraid to be in need–because discovering the better things I can breathe in empowers me … to be made whole.

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Annunciate

dictionary with letter A

Annuciate: (v) to announce something.

“Hear ye, hear ye!” the town crier squalled at the top of his lungs.

To annunciate.

Yet I believe the definition has evolved over the years, has it not? It is no longer about making an announcement, but rather, the idea that to annunciate is to speak clearly.

Maybe this change was necessary because over the years misunderstanding has tainted the original proclamation.

We must realize that clarity is just as important as purity. There are many people who feel they can annunciate great truth from holy books, but because they do it with a hypocritical accent or a vicious tone, the words never quite land on the human heart with comprehension.

I’ve heard individuals suggest that somebody speaks “with a nasal tone.” Actually the nose is a great reverberator, and when used, generates clearness of speech rather than inhibiting it.

Sometimes people fail to annunciate because they don’t want their meaning to be grasped. Ambiguity is a great advantage to those who have decided to be chicken-shit.

Case in point: politics always looks for sentences that can have double or even triple interpretations so as to protect the politician from defining a position.

Yet sooner or later, those who announce with purpose and represent their cause precisely are the ones who advance the human race in the direction of unity.

For after all, once you proclaim “liberty and justice for all” it is difficult to tolerate segregation and inequity.

And when you’ve stood in a pulpit and spoken “God is love” and the words ring out like a bell in the heart of mankind, it is nearly impossible to transform that thought into a vengeful and hateful Being who wishes to destroy portions of His creation because of their status.

To annunciate: to announce, unafraid to articulate … knowing that the truth that makes us free must be spoken faithfully.

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