Friday, December 26, 2014


Duty. Something you are required to do because of a legal or moral obligation. Duty dictated by the latter is often much more difficult than duty dictated by the former. Following the law is really black and white whereas morality is cloaked in various shades of gray.

I spent eight of the last nine years caring for my wife as she struggled with Huntington's Disease. That circumstance was compounded by the addition of my daughter and her family - all of whom moved in under the same roof as Lynn and I and in fact a further member was added during that time. My daughter and I have been only barely civil to each other for many years - the reasons for which I won't explain here. .Her oldest kids - my eldest granddaughters are good kids and the new addition - my now 4-year old grandson - is a bundle of energy akin to the Tasmanian Devil of Looney Tunes fame.  Here is the last decent photo ever taken of Lynn when he was just a few months old.

My duty to Lynn was clear as a bell.  I also thought it my duty to allow our daughter to assist with her mother's care regardless of the consequences to me. The success or failure of the circumstance is open to interpretation and in a few months we will no longer be under the same roof.  I look forward to the quiet times ahead.

My first brush with the notion of duty came at a young age as a scout - "On my honor I will do my best to do my duty to God and my country, to be square and obey the laws of the pack" - I never forgot that and  I see it has even changed a bit. Good old Den 6 Pack 3 in Pueblo Colorado. Here we are on the front porch of the house my grandfather built. My time in the scouts was very short - 2 years. When we moved to California my friends weren't scouts hence neither was I.

In a broader application of duty we all owe respect and gratitude to those who defend us with their lives.  We owe them respect regardless  whether or not we agree with the fight and we as a country collectively failed our Viet Nam vets here.  We seem to have resolved that issue as we now recognize and respect the efforts of our military regardless of the moral ambiguity attached to the conflicts they face. Witness the two gulf wars and the current excursion in Afghanistan.

Duty.  It is our duty to be as good a person as we possibly can. We all should try to make the world a better place. We all should help others whenever we can.  A simple notion.

That's it for this week's topic. Tune in next week to see where that road takes us.


  1. The beauty and honesty here are stunning.

  2. Having followed the flow of your life the last few years, I can relate to the underlying emotions involved. In my own take on the subject I had covered the difficulty of carrying out one's duty in the case of deserving and undeserving recipients and your story is a classic case of explaining that very human condition.

    Incidentally, I deliberately did not mention that the friend in my story on my post, is a retired soldier, wounded twice in the course of his duty and still suffering from those wounds. I did not mention this to give him some privacy because had I mentioned it, other mutual friends who read my post will identify him. Those mutual friends do not know about the vagabond brother!