Thoughts, Philosophy, Life and Love

Category: In Memoriam…

Photo Credit: SRWright

Clifford Lee Ayers – The loss of a great man.

On 24 November, 2019, we lost Clifford Lee Ayers. He went to meet his maker, joined the Choir Invisible, or Shuffled off this mortal coil, as many of us Pythonites might say. I say all that in humor, because I fully believe that he would be laughing with me about it.

Cliff, or Pop as I always called him, was not anyone special or fantastic in a global sense. He did not win any major awards, there will never be a statue or plaque erected in his honor. His passing was quiet, peaceful, without event.

But let me tell you about my experience with the man…

In the late 1980s, when I started dating the woman that would become my wife, I remember the first time I met Pop. He was not easy on me. He was kind, but he was critical of me, as any good father should be. He took apart my dreams and thoughts for the future and was quick to make me second guess everything, many times making me feel foolish for some of the dreams I had.

Sometimes he would have me help him around the yard or, a fond memory now, but not so much back then, he would drive me out to the almond orchards with him and have me help cut down dead trees to take home for use as firewood. Only catch was that while he would use a chainsaw, he would have me use a manual saw.

As the years went on, and he saw that in spite of his tests and trials I was in for the long haul, he started going easier on me. We started doing things together and, through the years, I grew closer to him that I had ever been with my own father.

Clifford, Pop, became an important part of my life, someone I could talk to when I needed to have a ‘Guy Talk’ with someone and eventually he even started talking to me as someone he could confide in.

I learned a lot from Pop, he was an inspirational part of my life, I loved him as much as, possibly more than, I loved my own, biological, father.

He will be sorely missed and I can say with honesty that my life is better for his presence in it.

Godspeed Dad… I love you and miss you.

A Fairwell to Oskar


It never ceases to amaze me the affect that our pets can have on us.  The range of emotions and feelings that they can inspire or provoke from the people that they have chosen to live with.  And face it, in most cases the choice is just as much theirs as it is ours for taking them in in the first place.

This week we lost an important member of our family and one of the best dogs I have ever had the joy of knowing.

Oskar came to us about twelve years ago, at a point in my wife and my life when we were feeling a little down and needed something to cheer us up.

It was about this time that we had decided to try to have a child.  But after failed attempts, had finally gone to the doctor and was told that it just was not going to happen for us.  This was a bit of a blow for us and we walked away from the experience somewhat dismayed.  And it was about this time, when we were at my wife’s parents house that this little ratty puppy came onto the property.

The puppy was cute, but barked incessantly, anything and everything would set it off on a tirade of barking at whomever it seemed that might have caused him some distress.  In fact, at one point, the only way that my father-in-law and his son could shut the dog up was to sick him in a garbage can.  Strangely enough, the dog seemed to like that and actually fell asleep in the trash can.

When they decided that they just could not take a dog in, they asked us if we wanted it.  My wife, without my agreement at the time, said yes.  And thus we had a dog and what would turn out to be a very fun companion.

We could not decide on a name for him for some time.  We thought about the old stand-by names that people give their dogs, but we were never into the cliche names for our pets.  We never had a cat named Fluffy, Mittens, Socks, etc…  Our cats had names like Smuckers (my wife names ALL black cats “Smuckers”), Clearance, Clara, Harvey, Sally…  We did have one cat named Critter-Bug, but that was not mine, nor her, fault.  Oddly enough, our inspiration for Oskar’s name came from two sources that matched something from his past and from a work of fiction.

We decided on the name for this dog because of two things.  Whenever we would take the dog for a walk, he had this habit of running ahead of us a bit and then, out of nowhere, would do a 360 degree circle.  I jokingly said once that he was “Clearing his baffles”, and since I am an avid reader, and I, at the time had been going back through my Tom Clancy books, I mentioned calling him Oscar, after the Russian subs.  We then thought about it more, and saw the name worked for another reason.  Oscar the Grouch, from Sesame Street.

We opted for a different spelling in the name so that he would be a little different, so it would be something that stood out from other dogs.  And over the years, it was not just the name that would stand out.  It would be everything about him.

Oskar bonded with my wife more than me.  Everywhere that she would go, he would need to be right there.  He became known as her little shadow because there would be times she would walk through the house and stop, and he would bump into her because he was following so closely.  This is something that he never did to me, but he would come to me if he was hurting, or something was wrong.  He also listened to me when I told him to stop doing something, like barking.

Oskar loved to play, and he would, for the most part, play harder than most dogs twice his size.  Add to this that the dog did not have an “off-switch” and we would have to hide his toys to get him to stop so that he could do things like, oh… I don’t know… drink water, eat food… REST.   He was also the first and only dog that I have ever met that would have been diagnosed as Obsessive Compulsive.  He knew the locations of all his toys and there was no hoping he forgot that he left a toy someplace.

There was a time when one of his toys rolled under the couch.  We forgot about it and we thought that he too had as well.  About a week later we are in the livingroom and he is sitting there, grumbling at the couch.  We asked him what was wrong and he would look at us, shift his body around and then look at the edge of the couch.   This would go on until one of us, I think it was her, looked under the couch and saw his toy.  When she pulled it out and handed it to him, he was happy.

When we brought in our second dog, Eliza, Oskar was the best big brother that a dog could have.  Even if, as in this case, she did not want a big brother.  Eliza, as you may know if you are a regular reader, is a special needs dog.  She has had health issues her entire life and we have always had to keep a watch on her.  When we brought her home, Oskar was very curious about her and when we introduced them, the first thing he wanted to do was play with her, and would bring his toys to her.   Her, only being a few weeks old, and suffering a sever infection as a result of Mange, she was not interested in anything but sleeping.

As she grew, Oskar would defend her and protect her, even though when we were at home, she would treat him like dirt.  While he was the Alpha, of their little pack, she was certainly the one that wore the pants, so to day.  One of the funniest things about their relationship is that there would be times that she would cause a problem, or get into trouble, then go and hide with Oskar when there was heck to pay for it.  And as always, he would step in.

One of our other names for Oskar was “Our Rough and Tumble Dog.”   It did not matter how big the other dogs were or, within reason, how hard you played with him, he would keep up with you.  Even though he would be panting so hard that his whole body would be heaving, he would not want to give up the game.  In fact, he would be so insistent on playing that he would bring you the toy and grumble at you… if you STILL did not play, he would cry… if you STILL would not play, he would pick the toy up and set it on you, usually your arm, or if you happen to be laying down, your head.

Age did not slow him down any at all.  All the way to the end, playing was his primary goal in life.   You could see that there was a little arthritis creeping into his walk, and he was not able to run and jump the way he used to, but he still put every effort into it.

When the time came that my wife and I proved the doctors wrong and did have our first, and only as I write this, child, Oskar accepted the child as just another person to play with.  There was an incident when Gideon, our child, was only a few month old and we had him sitting on the floor in the living room.  Oskar walked over to him with a toy and set it down and started to grumble at him.

Gideon had not, at this point, even mastered control over his own toys, yet here is Oskar trying to get him to play with him.  Meanwhile Gideon would reach for the toy, because it seemed interesting to him, and Oskar would snatch it away, always careful not to hurt or nip Gideon.

In 2006 we found another dog at the place where we board our pets when we travel, a great little place called Fur and Feathers.  They had a Cairn terrier mix that had been in and out of a few homes and in need of a new one.   We decided to take him in and when we got him home, there was a little conflict between him and Oskar, but over time, Oskar accepted him and they would play, though Oskar seemed more interested in dominating him, for you dog owners, you know what I mean.

The first sign that there was a problem was a couple weeks ago…  Oskar developed a little cough.  It would kick in and he would cough for a while, then it would go away.  For the most part it was so small an issue that we did not worry about it, and then, it would go away for a while.  Then Monday night, October 7th, he started coughing continuously, barely able to stand.   That night I slept in the living room with him on my lap.

Every time the coughing would start again, I would talk to him until he would lay his head down.  At this point I knew the time was coming and he would not be with us much longer. And several hours later, at 1:24pm, October 8th, he took his last breaths in my lap and with my wife petting him.   You really could tell that he did not want to go and was hanging on for as long as he could.   We just kept petting him and telling him it was ok to let go.  And finally he did.

I know that dogs and humans do not live life the same way.   I understand that we are not both emotional creatures in the same way.  But there is a connection made between an person and their dog, or dogs.  There is a connection that goes beyond the traditional “Man’s best friend” mantra that has always been there.  Oskar, and our other dogs, know when we are sad, hurt, angry or just need someone.  Oskar would come to us when we needed the cheering up and try to help when we were hurt.

He was, and in a way still is, a very HUMAN part of our family.  The loss of him is one that hurts and will hurt for some time.

On that note, I would like to encourage everyone reading this to donate to the Humane Society or to organizations like Hearts United for Animals, Best Friends Animal Sanctuary, or any other, documented and reputable, No-Kill animal shelter.  The best pets you can get are the ones that in those placed and they need homes.  All three of our dogs are rescues, and we could not have hoped for better.  I have included some links below.

Thank you for taking the time to read this.

Hearts United for Animals

Best Friends Animal Sanctuary

Ten Years Later


Can you believe that is has been ten years already?

So much has happened in that time, and yet it still seems like it was not that long ago.  Children have been born or become adults, growing up with a hole in their lives where a parent used to be.  Husbands and Wives moved on with their lives, yet never stopped thinking about the one that they lost in one of the airplanes or buildings.

So many people that might have gone on to greatness, been the next Nobel Laureate, the next great doctor or mathematician.  Souls that might have gone on to create the next great idea, invent the next medicine that would have saved millions, wrote the next great book, been a great father or mother, grandfather or grandmother… lost.

Hands that will never hold a child, a lover, a sister, brother or other family member again. voices that we will never hear speak our names or be there to listen to others speak theirs. Lost chances of friendships, apologies, loves and dreams come true.  Promises made that will never be fulfilled, someone making a trip to propose to someone they love… gone.

Then there is the hate that this has caused.  Like the world needed one more thing to divide it’s people from one another, this has opened yet another rift.  Not only creating a paranoia of anyone that looks like they might be middle-eastern, but also a hatred for anyone that is openly Muslim.  I have lost track of how many times I have heard comments like, “Any Muslim is a terrorist.”, or various versions of the same.  I have no delusions that it was Islamic Extremists that caused this, but I also do not believe that every person that practices Islam is an extremist or a terrorist.

My heart goes out to all those innocent lives that were lost on 11 September 2001.  Further, my heart and best wishes go out to all those that survived or were survived by on that unfortunate day.  The only thing that we can truly understand is that life will go on, the pain will lessen with time, but the scars and loss will remain.  We cannot bring back those that were lost, but we can honor their memories by being better people in their honor.

For my September 11th, I am not going to mourn those lost, but celebrate life in the memory of those lost.  I think that they would appreciate that more than feeling sorrow of their loss.

I am not turning this into a political debate… If anyone posts anything turning this into one, I will delete that post.  I do not do that often… so take heed.


The passing of a radio legend… “Good Day”

Over the weekend, the world lost a true radio legend.

Paul Harvey was a radio fixture for several decades.  He was always a pleasure to listen to and I could always count on him to make me feel better when there seemed to be nothing but bad news on the air that day.

I always saw Paul as being the a grandfather on radio, sort of charactor.  He was always there to give us a little reassurance in the bad times and make us feel a little better about ourselves and the world.  Rarely did he have anything negative to say about anyone, and he always kepts his politics in check.

I had the pleasure of meeting him once, if only for the briefest of moments, at the Bakersfield Business Conference many years ago.  He was shaking hands and I got in line to be one of those that had the pleasure.

I am not sure what life will be like without his voice in the mornings and for the lunch time show.  Yes, I am sure life will go on, but there will never be a replacement for him.  He will be missed.

To the Harvey family… You have the condolences of the Wright family.  Your loss is our loss, as it is a loss to the world.

There is pain… still.

As I stated several years ago… I will continue to post my own feelings about Sept 11th, each year on this site.

I watch the images of the attacks played back on TV and I am split.  Part of me wants them to stop showing the scenes.  We have pictures from almost every angle, both ground and air, of the tragedy unfolding.  We see the stills of the people… the firemen, the police officers… the people who are just dazed trying to figure out what they are becoming part of… and those dying.  The people who, while trapped in the buildings took the only option they felt they had left and died on their own terms, having made piece with whatever belief they follow.

Even now, seven years later, there is a hollow place that forms in the pit of my stomach when I think of all those lost and all those left behind to mourn and when I think of the sheer scope of what happened to us then.

I watch the pictures, the videos and hear the recordings of the people making their last calls and the recordings of the radio traffic between the firemen and policemen…  and I wonder, should they keep playing this over and over again.  How is this helping us?

Unfortunately… yes,  I think they should and on every channel.  If for no other reason than to help us understand and remind us that this is something that happened that we must never forget.  We must understand that this tragedy, while it happened in New York, happened to all of us and for that one moment in time, that one part of history, we all were united in the pain of loss.

I will continue to watch the coverage each year.  I will cry and I will say my silent petitions for those lost, those mourning and those who will never know and I hope that you too, will join me.

Memorial Day

I would like to take this moment to honor of those who have fallen in the line of duty for our country.  It is important for me to stress that I not only include military men and women, but there were many civilian men and women that died for our country as well, and their loss should be no less important.

Unfortunately this holiday has turned into more of and excuse to have a three-day weekend than a memorial to those who gave the ultimate sacrifice for the rest of us.

Remember, this day, that without those that have fought for our freedom and those who serve to protect us, we would not have all that we have today.

Loss of a Legend

Say what you want about country and western music, and the “Bakersfield Sound” in general, but there is no denying that Buck Owens was an icon of both.

As most of you now know, unless you have been living in a cave (hello there Osama!) Buck Owens, the patriarchal figurehead of the Bakersfield Sound, permanently left the stage of life this last Saturday morning (25 March 2006).

To say he will be missed is almost not enough. His inspiration and support has helped many an aspiring singer get their start, and his legacy encompasses several decades of musical history.

I never actually got to see the man perform live, but I listened to the live broadcast from the Crystal Palace every Friday night, and I had the honor of meeting him once. Though it was a brief handshake and a “How’re you doin'”, then he was gone. Even in that short meeting, you could feel that he carried a presence about him. There was something in his walk, his talk and his overall personality that just made you like him. I am not sure how else to describe it, but he was the kind of person that you had to like.

His loss will be felt by many.

A life not wasted

The name Tina Carroll may not mean much to you, but to many it does.

A lot can be said about a person who puts others above themselves, even when they are ill.

I did not know Tina, but understanding what I have read about her, I wish I had. she was truiely a person of unique spirit and courage, and I feel that her loss is a loss to all of us.

After asking for permission to post the article here, I was turned down. I was, however, told that I can post this link so that the author, Shellie Branco, would still get her due credit.

I ask that you take a moment to read this article. I envy this girl’s ability to put others above herself. Her dedication to herself through her continued education and her dedication to others through her work as a volunteer.

While her life was short, and she was in pain, she did not dwell on this, and lived a productive, active and worthy life.

I cannot say much more than Shellie was able to in her article, and I think that she said it well. I can only say that I hope that I can live a life as full as she had in her short stay on this plane.

Thank you Tina for being one of the bright points in the lives of others. You will be missed by those that loved you, those that you touched and those that only knew of you through stories of others. Your parents have much to be proud of.

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