The Texas Bohemian

Word artist. Jack of all Trades.

Happy Birthday Mom

Today is my mom’s birthday.  She would have been 87.  One year ago today she was facing a quick end to her life and suffering from cancer.  In my archives are the stories of her struggle and the part I played in being her caretaker.

I wasn’t a very good son sometimes.  I didn’t visit enough though I tried to make sure she never needed anything.  We were pretty close.  I called her every day.  It’s those phone calls I miss the most.  At times off and on during the day when I had a thought I’d call her up.  If I built something or came up with a new idea I’d go show her or go bring her here.  She was always complimentary and kind.

My kids loved her dearly.  She loved them, too.

Mom had a long life though I wish it had been longer.  I hope I last as long as she did.  I’m convinced she would have lasted longer had it not been for her local water supply that was terrible and full of toxins that cause the kind of cancer she had.  Woodlawn water killed her, of this I have no doubt whatsoever.  (Our water isn’t any better.  We now have filters.)

When my dad died I crawled into a hole and didn’t come out for over a year.   I took it hard.  Mom, like dad, was a good friend.  Friends are few and far between with me.  It is selfish of me to think “I lost….” as if they lived for me.  But in reality for most of their lives and mine that’s the way I viewed the world–though I would not admit it.  We humans tend to see things as they relate to us.  “Our” wife/husband, “our” kids, “our” parents, like they are there FOR us.  How selfish.

I am sorry, mom and dad, for thinking you were there for me.  I was wrong.

Though it is part of the Christian belief, this idea of serving others, it is not quite so practiced or even understood by Christians.  It wasn’t until I no longer believed in that religion and became a Buddhist that I finally understood what Jesus taught, better said by Buddha, regarding our selfish nature.  (Of course it might have been better said by Jesus but two thousand years of manipulation and “interpretation” changed things.)   I learned my lesson too late to be the son I should have been.

I can say that I learned early enough to be there when mom needed me at last.  I am  happy to have had the time I did with her, difficult as it was, during her last days.  It was those times between trying to keep her in bed and watch nurses and doctors and so forth that I found time to read and contemplate about where I came from and where I need to go.  It was in letting her go that I learned how to let Christianity go too.  Both passed away from me entirely at the same time.

The suffering we have is often self-inflicted.  I caused myself suffering and inadvertently caused mom to suffer because I was possessive of her: “My” mom.  I should have been her son instead.  I was her son at last, though.  After she died I could have let guilt and sorrow drag me into a pit as I did when dad died.  But that is suffering too.  Instead I understood that as Buddha teaches everything is temporary.  There are comings and goings of all things.  Learning to accept this is an end to suffering.

Finally, I could be guilty for not being mom’s son rather than believing she is “my” mom.  I have forgiven myself as I know she forgave me.  That is the nature of love: forgiveness.  This, too, the Buddha teaches, that others are important but we, ourselves, are important too.  If we neglect ourselves we not only cause our own suffering but we cause others to suffer.  Thus I choose to forgive myself.

My mom loved me always and forever.  When I was a child she was not always kind.  Sometimes she was abusive.  I forgave her of that many years ago and loved her in spite of it.  Then she had to learn to forgive me and love me for seeing her as “my” mom and for my not being her son.

Our life on this earth is short and temporary.  It would be much longer and the value of our lives would all be extended, however, if we would all learn a few lessons from Buddha’s wisdom.  The most important lesson we can learn is how not to see other humans as possessions, “my” family, “my” friends, etc.,  and instead see them as valuable beings to whom we should give ourselves.  When we change this single attitude we change the whole world.  Suddenly all those things friends and family do that hurt us no longer sting because we realize  the stings are caused by them not bending to our will.  But why should they?  It is our will that should bend to theirs.  Then they are happy and, after all, is that not what we hope for if they are friends and family?

In turning loose of mom that day last November I learned to turn loose of self.  I watched Christianity fail her and my family.  Buddha’s words did not fail me.  It was the  ultimate test.  The greatest gift mom gave me besides her love was the opportunity to see truth revealed and and in becoming her son I at last found my foundation in Buddha.

Thanks mom.  I know you would not be very happy about my Buddhism but then you always hoped for my happiness more than your own.  I finally understand why.

I miss you and I love you always.

August 9, 2009 Posted by | Blather, Religion | , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

My Small World

This morning I’m finishing up a few things I started yesterday morning while my wife slept in.  The post just below was part of what I needed to finish.  Down the hall my two little kids are working on their vocabulary.  My wife is off to work and my oldest is in summer school.  It’s quiet now.

Last night after my wife and I went to bed she turned over to go to sleep while I did a little reading.  I turned to her and said, “It’s a joy to sleep beside you!”

My world is a small world.  Through the years I’ve been a home parent I’ve become more and more isolated from the world.  I look out through a little window and what I see horrifies me so much that I write these blogs and work on the peace website and try to be a voice for change.  But the world I live in, day to day, is tiny.

Since my mom died my world has shrunk even smaller.  My siblings are not much interested in anything beyond their own big circle of friends so they are not a part of my little world.  I see my wife’s parents sometimes.  My life is four people who come and go as I spend my days in this little tin can house.

Once I was very bored and lonely.  For years after I became a home parent I sought outlets, wrote online friends, searched all over for “somebody to be a friend.”  I used to take off on weekends just to get out of the  house.  I don’t do that much any more, I do not like being away from my kids.

There’s little chance of finding friendly faces around this neighborhood, though, since I cannot accept the religion and politics of people here.  I don’t look for anyone “out there” any more.  I have no need for them.

I can say the teachings of Buddha have been a wonderful help.  They have taught me to accept life as it is.  I love Buddha and his teaching.

My world is not a religious world, though.  I do not believe in the Christian concept of God.  I doubt any kind of “god” exists.  I do not pray nor believe it is a useful habit except for those who get psychological benefit from it.

I do not spend my day in front of the TV.  I do spend too much time on the computer.  I’m a little neglectful of my household chores–make that quite neglectful.  My time online is spent searching for truth, learning what is happening in the world outside, trying to figure out how to make the world better for my kids.

I live in a little world.  But you know what?  My world is just fine.  Each night I go to sleep thinking how much my family means to me.  Many nights I drift off to sleep thinking simple thoughts about how much I love each of my children and my wife.

There’s not much I want.  There’s little I need.  I don’t dream of riches or fancy cars.  I would like to travel but even that is not all that important any more.  In fact, I have all I need and far more.  I love my family with my whole, whole heart.  They love me back!  I lack nothing and life could not be better.

June 15, 2009 Posted by | Blather | , , | Leave a comment

Coming Home

vihara Today I sat with a group of Sri Lancan people, put my hands together, and paid homage to Buddha.

I was privileged to be able to take part in the wonderful ceremony of Vesak, the day Buddhists celebrate Buddha’s birth, enlightenment and passing.

Visit these websites!

Houston Buddhist Vihara

Buu Mon Temple – Port Arthur

Vesak – Buddha Day

In the morning a new friend and I stood with the rest of the celebrants around the perimeter of the great hall while children made their way about the room bearing gifts for Buddha.  It was a Dana ceremony.  Later I enjoyed a wonderful meal and good conversation.  In the afternoon Bhikkhu Rahula, who had graciously invited me to the event, gave a Dhamma talk.  His words were wise and informative.

I hope I got everything correct.  I have much to learn about the cultural aspects of Buddhism.

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May 17, 2009 Posted by | Blather | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Peace. It’s not just for wimps!

A little over a week ago my wife and I did something we have not done for many years.  Seven years, in fact.  We went on a little trip all by ourselves.  It was great.  We had a good time and grew our relationship.

My wife, as usual, wanted to shop.  We spent some time in a mall west of Houston.  When we left the mall we went in search of a grocery store to get some snacks.  Waiting to turn under a freeway I saw a man with a sign: “I’m Old, I’m Ugly, and I’m Hungry.”  He looked pretty ragged.  I took a few bucks from my bill fold and gave it to him.  As usual, all my money was in the bank so I didn’t have much cash.  I wanted to give more.

Leaving the man behind I drove half a block to a massive super HEB grocery.  It was a huge store, the largest HEB I’ve seen.  The amount of food in that store and the incredible variety and the price of most of it made me very guilty.  What a contrast, a man probably my age in ragged clothes begging for money half a block from a store with enough food to feed a whole community for weeks full of shoppers spending hundreds of dollars for expensive wines, fancy cheeses, foreign delicacies, and so much more.  There’s just no equity in this world.  Life is not fair.

I am working on a re-write of my book The Lies, The Truth, The Way.  When I finish that I’m going to write a short book called Buddha is not God… and other things Christians need to know.  Those are top priorities.  But they are yesterday’s projects.  I have to decide what I am going to do next.  Where shall I put my effort?

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May 14, 2009 Posted by | Blather | , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Life After Mom

Not long after my mom died I concluded I had to write something with the title “Life After Mom.”  I had to explain the before and after of my life, my beliefs, my direction.  I let my mind ponder through the holidays.

Totally without any planning today I wrote what needed to be written.  The following essay began as a response to an email to a new friend telling about my history and beliefs and morphed into what it is now.  I re-wrote the letter to the friend and revised the rest into this work.  (And I’ve revised it again having read it out loud and found some terrible writing!)

I will at some point expound further on these thoughts but for now this is what I want to say about….

Life After Mom

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January 5, 2009 Posted by | Religion | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment


Monday was not only the day my mom had surgery, it was the day my wife and I celebrated our 30th anniversary.  In the early evening she and I did the dress-up and went out to dinner.  I put on a coat and tie for the first time in years.  She was beautiful!Regena

Marriage gets a bad rap in this country.  People change mates like they change tires.  Wear one out, get another.  Don’t like the ride?  Get another.  Performance not acceptable?  Get another.

We’ve had tough times, arguments, schisms.  But in thirty years we’ve weathered every storm and that little string that tied us together over thirty years ago has held solid.  I’ve been stupid and selfish and confusing and probably worse.  She’s stuck by me.  She’s infuriated me, frustrated me, made me crazy, but I have never, ever stopped adoring her.  From the very first moment I saw her, I have loved her.  I shall love her until I die.

A marriage will not work unless there’s an understanding that there must be giving, selflessness, and forgiveness when the partner is not giving or selfless.  We are both guilty at times of doing for self.  But we have learned to forgive and stick together rather than get all snuffy and run off.

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June 25, 2008 Posted by | Blather | , , | 2 Comments

What Counts isn’t change.

Since my wife doesn’t read my blog (except when I share it with her) I can run with this….

Going to let it all hang out today. You might want to cover your eyes.

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June 19, 2008 Posted by | Blather | , , , , , | 1 Comment

Temper, temper!

Morning. Sunshine. Clear skies. Nice.

Kids are working on math at the moment. Spelling test coming up. Oldest working on history. I’m piddling with the cowtippers site.

Fence seems to have held back the hoppitty hoards. Corn (what’s left) is intact.

The phone rang this morning. It was a bill collector. A tacky part of being poor is having to fend off bill collectors. They were calling for my wife. This is very rare. There are only two possibilities, that they’re calling from some medical billing place or Chrysler. Either way, the person got my goat! Continue reading

June 12, 2008 Posted by | Religion | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Middle Day …obligations!

Still here!

Yesterday I had a bad case of the “don’ts.”  Ever get those?  Like, “screw it, I just DON’T!”  Don’t want to… whatever.  Goof off.  I’d better get busy today or I might catch it again! Continue reading

June 11, 2008 Posted by | Blather | , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment