Coroner

Coroner: (n) one who investigates deaths

Then there’s the joke.

“I went to the morgue to see the body. I asked the receptionist where I might find the corpse. She pointed to her right and replied, ‘Just around the coroner.’”

(I didn’t say it was a funny joke.)

But when you talk about things like the coroner, you have to use some humor. A little tongue-in-cheek is helpful.funny wisdom on words that begin with a C

I have personally dealt with an actual coroner only once in my life. My son, who had been involved in a hit-and-run accident six years earlier, which had left him in a vegetative state, suddenly developed pneumonia and died in about a four-hour period.

We were in the state of Oregon, and according to their statues, anybody who dies that quickly has to be observed by a coroner and have an autopsy.

I probably should have looked up “coroner” and found out what was involved with the profession, but there was no Internet at that time and my encyclopedias were packed away back home, two thousand miles away. So I entered into the whole situation very ignorant.

He was a nice enough fellow—just creepy enough to fulfill the parameters of the occupation. I was emotionally disturbed from the death of my son, so I began to yammer without much awareness, trying to explain to the gentleman some of the extent of my loss. In doing so, I offered a very child-like request. “Please be gentle with him. He’s been through a lot.”

I remember the look on the chap’s face—a combination of tenderness, surprise, confusion and mercy. For after all, he had already done the autopsy and chopped my young son into many pieces.

Fortunately, I didn’t think of that in the moment. I was granted a blessed ignorance, and a bit of grace, by a man who had to deal with death every day and realized that I would not benefit from any further understanding of his plight.


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Breeze

j-r-practix-with-border-2

Breeze: (n) a gentle wind.

I had absolutely no right or wisdom in hopping into a brown Dodge van and heading off from Ohio to Oregon.Dictionary B

I was twenty-one years old, had a music group and was convinced that the only way to prove to myself or anyone else that this was a viable occupational choice was to go out and try to make money doing it.

In my not-yet-formed brain, the logical step was to drive to Oregon, where two people had promised us a place to perform–as long as we understood there would not be much money.

Who could pass up such a bonanza?

I have mercifully had most of the trip wiped from my memory and relegated to oblivion–but I do remember driving through South Dakota, where the temperature had soared well over 100 degrees, and being so hot in our un-air-conditioned confines that we stopped in a small town at a public pool to cool off.

Even though the sun was blistering and scorched our skin, the water was ice cold, so we were a little deceived by the fact that we were actually being poached.

I got the worst sunburn of my life.

It was so bad that when we went to the drug store and bought one of those spray treatments, my hot skin turned the liquid into little scraps of paper.

I was miserable.

On top of that we had no money–procuring lodging in a motel was completely impossible.

So we found a park just outside that little town, pulled the van over, opened up all the doors, perched on some bean bag chairs we carried with us, and lay there, broiling in our burnt flesh, surrounded by humid air.

I was so miserable that I prayed.

I didn’t know if I wanted God to kill me or peel me like an orange.

About twenty minutes after I finished my little supplication, a breeze came up.

I will never forget it.

Because my skin was ablaze, the air was chilly–and felt so good. That breeze stayed with us all night long, so we didn’t swelter in our van or die of sunburn.

Now, some people probably would say that wind was a natural phenomenon of the South Dakota wilderness.

Others might insist there were three exhausted angels blowing in our direction all night long.

It doesn’t really matter what you believe, because God made the breeze … just as surely as He made the angels.

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Beaver

Beaver: (n) a large semiaquatic broad-tailed rodentDictionary B

The word “beaver” torments me–mainly because I have no personal experience with the creature. But it has entered my life through story, myth and even double-entendre.

It is so unfair.

Truthfully, I can’t hear the word “beaver” without considering the sexual implication, which has been placed upon it by a generation of goofballs.

I do feel I would have great empathy with the beaver (if I actually knew one) because I, too, would occasionally like to “dam it all.”

Yes–rumor has it that beavers build dams.

I don’t know if these structures are required, and I’m not quite sure why the beaver wants to do so, and certainly totally unmotivated to find out–even for the purpose of adding some credence and intelligence to this essay.

I know there’s a football team in Oregon called the Beavers.

If memory serves, beavers have large, protruding front teeth (I assume for gnawing wood in the process of building their dams.)

And of course, I have memories of a television show called “Leave It To Beaver,” which had nothing at all to do with building anything and had no purposeful double entendres.

So if I happened to run across a forest agent who identified himself as a “beaver inspector,” I’m afraid it would be difficult for me to carry on a conversation…without giggling. 

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Armchair

dictionary with letter A

Armchair: 1. (n) a comfortable chair, typically upholstered, with side supports for a person’s arms. 2. (adj) lacking or not involving practical or direct experience of a particular subject or activity.

There should never be more pundits than participants.

There. I have established a new rule.

Like most rules, it will be ignored in favor of some sort of haphazard pursuit of unbridled freedom.

Yet we have too many people with too many opinions who have too little talent to participate in the matters that are too important.

Last night as I watched the National Championship for college football, I was astounded at how many different people they had conglomerated to voice their opinions on the activities of these barely post-adolescent young men, who have been pushed to the forefront as superior athletes.

Some of these “armchair quarterbacks,” as we often call them, are actually former players. But they all seem to forget a very important fact. Even though I didn’t play football very long, I will tell you something which is never brought up by those in armchairs, be it about sports, politics or life in general:

It happens too fast.

If you expect your training or your brain to be able to come up with some magnificent way to handle the task in front of you, you will be confounded, stumble and make mistakes.

Just as a politician who wants to seek counsel with many people before making a decision always ends up piping in a little too late, any football player who believes he will have time in the middle of the game to access the resources of his brain and come up with the perfect solution for the situation, is going to end up looking foolish and inept.

Life really works with the conjoining of two magnificently unpredictable units: instinct and luck.

And the only way to be successful is to put yourself into enough uncomfortable situations that your instincts begin to turn you in the right direction, and then realize that the choices you make will still require some luck in order to be fruitful.

I got tickled after the game last night when they asked a player what he was thinking “right before he threw that pass.”

The young man crinkled his brow as if he didn’t understand the question, but politely replied, “Well, it was just a play and I played it through.”

Exactly.

America sometimes seems obsessed with the notion that we can educate ourselves into a better world.

Pundits love to discuss, from their armchairs of comfort, how somebody should have done something completely different in a given situation. But the best we can really do in life is to stop being afraid of difficulty.

For it grants us the instinct to know what to do at the right moment, and then step back…and pray we get lucky.

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