If you just finished reading “About this blog,” you’re probably wondering Who is this guy, and how’d he get to be such a wimp? Well, for starters, I’m a retired cop. (Bet you didn’t see that one coming.) I started as a railroad cop, and spent two and a half years policing freight yards in northern New Jersey cities, ranging as far afield as Port Jervis, NY at times. I then served with the Bergen County Police Department for twenty-five years, reaching the rank of lieutenant at the mid-point of my career. (If you’ve ever been stopped by a highway patrol, and found yourself nervous, intimidated, maybe shaking … well, the guy who made you feel like that? I was his boss. Actually, I was his boss’s boss.) Since shortly after retiring, I have worked as a volunteer EMT in my almost rural home town.
I’m a family man, and I take that very seriously. I fell in love at the age of fifteen, married her at twenty-one, and still adore her at fifty-six. We have two grown children, a daughter who is married and living in Philadelphia, and a son who is leaving a good job to go to law school. He had a simply awful adolescence, and taught me things about love that, had I been able to imagine them, I never would have wanted to learn. His strength and integrity today are constant reminders of what love can do in this world.
I am a cancer survivor. On July 2, 2007, I was told that I had esophageal cancer, a brutal little cancer with a five-year survival rate of 16%. It is so aggressive that it is treated very aggressively. The surgery that is done for this cancer (esophagectomy) is said to be the biggest surgery that is done, and has life-long consequences, none of them good, other than the fact that you are alive to experience them. (I’ll tell you about it some time.) I am now the administrator of an online support group with about 1900 members. If I remain cancer-free for another two years, then my eventual cause of death will be something other than esophageal cancer.
In many ways, esophageal cancer was a great blessing for me; it taught me just how central love is to life, and demonstrated it vividly. It taught me humility, and allowed me to experience unbounded compassion. My soul has grown to the same extent as my body has been diminished.
It may not come as any great surprise at this point if I mention that I am very religious. However, I will never ask my readers to believe anything in particular about God; I won’t even insist that you believe in God; just believe in love. (This blog is not about religion any more than it is about me, but I am about religion. If any posts have explicit religious content, I will give warning for the faint-hearted.)
I am a member of the Religious Society of Friends, that is, a Quaker. I embrace the historic Quaker belief that theology is nothing but notions or opinions, whereas the actual experience of God is … well, divine.
I was raised in a home without religion, in a family of Jewish descent. The girl I fell in love with at age fifteen was much more traditionally Jewish, and we raised our children in a Conservative Jewish home. Some years back, I was opened up to God’s very imminent, communicative, and tender presence, and became a Quaker, or, more formally, a Friend. Although Quakers are classified as Protestant Christians, in the liberal branch of the Society of Friends, many of our Friends have other opinions. Where we unite is in our communal effort to experience God’s loving presence and be changed by this experience.
I hear you loud and clear. What a beautiful way to define love and God. Please keep the blogs coming. It is hard to say I relate considering your own experiences, but on my own level I can. You are very special!
Paul, I always look forward to posts you make in the EC site … you manage the delicate task of saying it like it is, but do so in a compassionate, caring way. Being a caretaker to an EC surviver of 3-1/2 years, I’ve come to appreciate the posters who have something to say vs. the ‘other ones! Your signature line brought me here … it’s no surprise that your blog is delightfully refreshing! Thank you, and I plan to visit often … I hope you will find the time amongst all your life activities to write here. Sincerely, Toni