22. December 14, 1999 marks a date I should remember. That's of course if
I really care about the future of some little old "Banana Republic", which Panama
has been for many years of my life. I heard in my teens, the joke about the vultures
flying up high in the sky, being Panama's only air force. Today things have changed.
If you see real airplanes flying up in the skies, they will most likely be some drug
runner delivering a package for some money hungry "Colombian Connection".
Since I've uttered the word of drug, let's talk about pain. I'm all for and against
drugs. It is both a curse and a blessing. I have friends who are suffering in
pain from body ailments. If you have a friend who is suffering the cursed
multiple sclerosis, you must know that the affiliated pain is most excruciating.
A lady friend of mine living up in Stockholm, is daily in constant pain. She
is suffering. I'm sure there are other societies in the Far East that use drugs
to ease the pain and sufferings of those troubled with one of a large variety of
ills that afflict the human race, especially the elders who are slowly falling apart.
Muscles, joints, organs and spinal columns, are the problem centers most often
cited by our elder citizens. These people should be helped with whatever
"medication" is available to relieve suffering. OK, I understand that pain is
nature's way of telling our body and mind that something is dreadfully wrong.
But if the body can't solve the problem to heal what is ailing it, then we
should at least have the option of taking the initiative to alleviate whatever
may be causing the pain. I sure hope I won't have to suffer unnecessarily when
I get real old and gray. Pain is a language; signals to body and mind, but
being basically intolerable, my soul should not have to suffer indignantly in
these modern days of high technology. We have the means to help those who
On the other hand, it depresses me to understand how certain people in
search of enormous finances, will stop at nothing to make enormous profits
at the expense of impressionable persons of weaker character, who
unknowingly will be falling into the life debilitating habit of being
dependent on a heavy drug. Drug pushers, who only have money in their
sights, who are not thinking of the consequences of drug misuse, who have
their main focus on creating an enormous wealth, should rightfully be
treated as public enemies. The chemical power of drugs can be very harmful
when used in excess, when used solely for inebriation, for getting
oneself "stoned", or having a cheap physical thrill, paying dearly with
the losss of good health.
I find it very disheartening when individuals use drugs as a substitute
for love. Unable to find a partner to share the body thrills of making and
sharing human love, so many forlorn souls turn to drugs to compensate for
their love starvation. And of course we all need love. The souls of humans
wither without the force of love. So now you understand a little, my love/hate
relationship to drugs. If you are in pain...use it for the love of life!
If you are healthy, in love with someone, love the life you live, then treat
drugs respectfully, keeping a save distance from it. You don't want to
risk your chances of living a productive and fruitful life. When you can
stand in some surrounding of flora, breathe in the fresh air, be awed by the
beauty of the planet on which you live, checking out the colors of the grounds,
the skies, and if you are lucky to catch a glimpse of Venus twinkling, or the
moon passing in review, marvel at the perfection of having such a moon to
remind us that we are "floating like a mote of dust in the morning sky"
(Carl Sagan), who the needs the misuse of drugs?
And what about the date, December 14? Well, the land where I was raised,
where I received my public schooling, where I romped and played with my buddies,
where blue birds and robins sang for us all, where parakeets made a racket
as they dashed over jungles tree tops, where the humming birds amazed me
with the beating of their wings, where orchids grew wild and rivers flooded
over after a storm, where honey bears searched the grounds curious as cats,
where cicadas demanded to be heard at the closing of a tropical day, where
the heat of night could match the scorching rays of a noon day sun, where
I first learned about the "bird and the bees", where I swore I would never
return after leaving it back in 1970 for the last time,...... this land has
changed overnight. It is no longer my homeland. The property once known
as the Panama Canal, run by the Americans with the help of an appointed
governor, no longer exists. All that was constructed for the well-being
of the Americans who helped to build and protect a canal no other country
could construct, since they lacked the required technological know-how. This
rented land and all the furnishings, has been handed over, free, to a
government run by incompetent politicians who have been milking the Panama
Canal Company for all that it was worth, taking the spoils of their corruption
to their foreign banks, absconding money that could have been spent to raise
the standard of living for the poor who still live in abject poverty. I was
not at all happy to hear about this American foreign policy blunder.
23. It's the 31st of December, 1999 and here I sit, for another
session of baring my soul. Let me tell you once again....this isn't easy.
I thought in the beginning, it would be. You not only have to be able
to write a language decently, you have to be in the right mood.
If you are feeling very depressed, there is no way that you are going
to push some pencil or bang away on a keyboard and expect there to be
any kind of positive production.
This day being special, not for all the citizens of the world, but
for the great majority of the Democratic Free World in general, I try
to imagine how it would have been if we didn't have a calendar marking
time. Being an atheist, this so-called "Millennium Shift" is just
another by-product of Christianity. I'd personally prefer to use an
earlier calendar,....earlier than those used by the Egyptians or the
Mayan or Inca pyramid builders of Latin America.
Another way of marking time that I feel would be more realistic, would
be to use the ground breaking revolutions to mark off periods. The
discovery that the world was not flat. The discovery of the accurate
orbits of the planets moving around the sun. When we realized with
the aid of math, that the sun was not the center of the universe. The
ages when certain developments occurred, would also help to measure off
history. The Renaissance, The Age of Reason, The French Revolution,
The Atomic Age, The Industrial Revolution, The Electronic Age, The
Space Age, The Computer Age, just to mention a few. Even the brutal
assassination of a beloved state leader or national figure can be
used to mark off a point in time. I will even use as markers, the year
when I first discovered I had epilepsy (age 10), when at 20 I became
the decathlon champion of Panama, when I first heard the great song
"The Eve of Destruction", when at 17 I could drive a car for the first
time alone, when I became a father at the age of 37, when I received
a culture prize from a city here in Sweden, when I purchased my first
and only computer in 1995, when I typed for the first time, the
file name to one of my photographs, to share it with the participants
in a chat room, and when I now realize that when Y2K arrives, I will
reach the ripe old age of 60, (an age I never dreamed I would reach!)
Incredible. Most of these things happening in my lifetime, I find
most incredible. And yes, I'm now working and preparing myself for
the greatest experience of my life. The inevitable point in my life
when the lights inside my head, dim out for the very last time. I'm
so curious to know what sort of emotions are going to course through
my body when I realize that my time on Earth will be in the process of
coming to an end. I know I won't be afraid of death, since I've already
cheated death, a number of times, starting already with my birth. I'll
be very unhappy of course. Some people, when they get old and tired,
welcome with open arms the final eternal sleep. But the way I'm feeling
at this very moment, I just know that I would only be thinking, "Why now?!
I'm still feeling great, even feeling that I could live forever!"
Maybe I'll try to find a way to crawl inside another living soul, without
their being aware that they will soon be hosting an uninvited guest.
That sounds unfair and risky business, crashing a life. When I die, I
probably could be the start of a multiple-personality. Who's to know?
Well, here I sit. Just had a quick glance out my picture window,
9 floors above the ground. It looks no different from all the other
late nights and early mornings that I have been registered on the pages
of that inner diary inside my head. Nothing out there looks futuristic.
The sky, like a blanket of gray-black carpeting that has no measurable
thickness to it, creating a special misty nothingness. I can at
least see the street lamps, hanging in mid air, levitating. On long beady
strings of light, criss-crossing each other, just as you'd find it on
giant rulers, used for marking off at one eighth of an inch intervals, the
sleeping giant of a city, lying sprawled out on its back, does not snore.
The only sound I hear is coming from a pair of cheap plastic speakers
hooked up to my computer, to give my sound card and the software of
SOUND BLASTER, a reason to be, but I'm not hearing pips, ding dongs, or
chirping birds wave files. No, I'm listening to P3, the national radio
station of Sweden that never sleeps. So nice to have company, when
the night owl that I am, sits perched, with claw fingers tapping a constant
clicky clack. My awareness kicks in again, and I try to find something
to make me keenly aware that this is now the future to be, that I've
been waiting for, for a long time now,...and soon it will be the dawn
of a new morning. "The Eve of Destruction"?
24. He was after all is said and done, a great man. He was the hardest working
man I ever met, and when he'd come home often,...to tell that he had done
the work of one and a half men,....I believed him. I would once in a
while drive out to visit him where he was working, where he'd be tending
the boilers that took care of the hot water needed to do the bulk laundering
of clothes or the needed steam to raise the bread in bakeries. I'd arrive
around noon, when he was free to eat his lunch and take a short nap. I'd
walk around the large boilers, giant works of metal art, power tools, one
could say. He'd explain all the gizmos, necessary valves to let off steam
in case the boilers raised too much steam. You wouldn't want a boiler
blowing up in your face. When you think of all the power in a steamboat,
the railroad steam engine or the launching apparatus you find onboard giant
aircraft carriers, you have to admit that steam power, is great power.
A big strong powerful man like my father, working with steam producing engines.
So here was my father, standing tall, leading me around, with his faded Blue
Jean cap, stained undershirt from grease and sweat, wearing his typical
baggy pants, and he'd be holding a small smudged hand towel in one hand
to wipe the sweat from his brow. He didn't mind the inconvenience of
being wet from humid sweat, dirty from head to toe with that fine
mixture of dust, dirt, grease and most likely many gallons of salty sweat.
The sweat running under the pits of his arm, down the back of his neck,
and even on his forearms, he seemed to enjoy, of that I'm certain,
after doing a hard day's work. He had tasted unemployment long enough
to know how boring it can be to only have thoughts in your head of where
and how one is going to catch another dollar out there, so that he could
support his wife and hungry children, and of course his beloved bad
habits. Luckily when my father had no job, he had planned in advance,
and acquired a plot of land so that we could live off of it. We spent
about 4 years living in the jungle and I learned a lot about life, even
about the birds and the bees. I learned how to survive. I learned
the basics of life. I even learned how effective team work can be.
We all pitched in to help around the house. When there was no rain,
we sought out the streams that still managed to trickle, scooping with
small pots or cups, to fill up the 25 gallon canisters used by the
military to carry extra reserves of gas. You often see them straddled
When I think back on my past, I realize how much I learned from my father.
I learned about recycling, how to use a saw and hammer, how to train to
build my body muscles so that I could defend myself and stay out of harms way.
He taught me to respect women, because without them I wouldn't be here.
In fearing him, I learned to fear no other man. He taught me obedience.
Taught me to respect elders and to be kind and generous with those who had
nothing to their names. Through his lectures on why it was important for
me to come home at the designated times he set for me, I learned to be
tolerant and most of all, I learned how to listen carefully, especially to
what he was trying to drill into my wooden head. He was good at teaching.
I learned how to drive a car with his patient teaching. When he was sober
he was very good at driving carefully. Never broke the speed limit, or
parked illegally. In a sense, he was a fine example of a law abiding citizen.
I never dared to rob a bank, deprive someone of their private property, or
do anything criminal, thanks to his setting a good example. I wouldn't
want him to experience any humiliation in my not being a responsible citizen.
There are of course things I dearly wished he taught or at least shared
with me and my brothers. He loved softball, but never bothered to show us
how to catch a ball. Maybe he felt it was a waste of money buying baseball
gloves for all of his boys. He never explained the magnificence of the immense
universe. Maybe his religion blocked him from thinking deeply. Never showed
me where Mars or Venus hung majestically in a darkened sky. I don't think
he even cared to know whether or not there could be life on Mars. Never
spoke of how small we are in comparison to the known universe. He never
shared his joy of fishing with a rod. That was his own delight.
Now I want to tell you of the things he did, the things he helped me with
that helped me to become who I am today. Now and then he allowed me to buy
the kind of shoe I liked. At ten when I had the craving urge to play a musical
instrument, a violin, he never hesitated and bought me a violin that I no
longer have, but wish I did. When I wanted to include the clarinet in
my musical development, he went along with that and helped me find one in
the Sears and Roebuck Catalog. I was so happy when he approved of my buying
a Kodak Brownie Box Camera, which was the beginning of my love affair with
photography. And the one thing he did, in response to a plea when on a Sunday
morning I explained to him that I no longer wanted to join him and the rest
of the family to Sunday church, was to accept and respect what I had to say.
I will always remember him for that, because I understand it took a lot of
understanding and tolerance on his part to fulfill my wish of cutting my
ties to his Catholic religion. I told him: "Please don't force me to go to
church when I don't believe in the religious teachings of the Catholic Church.
If you do force me, then I will do so hypocritically, and that is something
I do not wish to do. I do not want to become a hypocrite." He swallowed,
as if to recover from a blow to his ego. He swallowed his pride, remaining
silent for a minute or two, looking at me straight in the eyes. I had put
his love for me to the ultimate test. If he didn't really care about my
sincere wish to live a free life, living for the things I myself believed in,
living without being a hypocrite, he would have behaved dogmatic and
tyrannical and demanded that I go to church and obey the teachings of his religion.
I love him dearly for letting me be myself. From that day on, I have had
the privilege of being a free thinker, open minded to all that is possible in
a universe full of endless possibilities.
I have been through both hell and heaven with this man, this father of mine,.
There were times when I wanted disappear right before his anger, just go up in
thin air to escape his wrath. But there have been times like the one when
I hardly reached up to his waist and he placed his hands lovingly upon
the top of my head. But that kind of love changed as he got deeper into
his drinking. The life in my teens, when I started to question and test
the limits of his doctrines, like staying out ten minutes longer than I was
allowed, coming home to find the door blocked by his bed so that I would be
forced to wake him up to get inside. When I left Panama to get away and
start my own life, he commented that he felt it was good that I left because
I would only have been a bad influence on my younger brother and six sisters.
I kept in touch with him during the years that passed. We exchanged
letters for many years and then the letters stopped coming for the last ten
years or so. I'd still get a card and gift for my birthdays and for the Xmas
and New Year Seasons Greetings. He never called me on the telephone to hear
my voice and to ask how life was treating me. My guess is that he felt very
awkward in expressing something that was most difficult for him to accept.
It is not easy for a father to love the "black sheep" of the family. Maybe
I've been a wound in his heart that never healed. Maybe he felt himself to
be a failure for not having retained me in the flock of all the devout
believers of Catholicism. Maybe he didn't want to recognize me, or give
me credit for being a good person in spite of my not being a Christian, in
fear that I would gain some influence through his acceptance of me, alongside
his favorites within the family. Maybe I became the eternal scapegoat of
the family. There are so many unanswered questions. And as Father Time
and the Grim Reaper have been faithful to their jobs, my father is no longer
with us, for he passed away, died holding the hands of his beloved wife.
In the words of my sister Sandy, (the little girl brushing her mother's hair,
which you might have seen in the beginning of my homepage), she wrote: "On
Friday when I saw him that evening I knew that he was going to die. I was
very sad and I was crying because I knew that Dad was no longer going to
be with us. He was still conscious and when Mom came into the room later
on I told Dad that Mom was here and he held her hand and gave her a very
strong squeeze." These words opened the floodgates, and I wept with
the greatest sorrow I've yet to experience. Dad,...if you see these words
wherever your spirit is roaming, I will remain your loving son, and I will
never forget you, for the wonderful times we had together, and for your
greatness in setting me free, allowing me to be myself. You gave me life
and you gave me my freedom to find my own way through life. Thank you
for being there to help me from the very beginning when I was dying at
birth, and an operation plus the blood which you donated for the needed
transfusion, brought me back to life. May your soul rest in peace
after a hard lifetime work well done. You deserve all the loving memories
that will live in our hearts.
Continues Anita's Child
April 7, 1999
Return to PART TWO