Diary of a Network Geek

The trials and tribulations of a Certified Novell Engineer who's been stranded in Houston, Texas.


The Cemation of Sam Mcgee

Filed under: Art,Deep Thoughts,Life, the Universe, and Everything,Personal,Things to Read — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Hare which is in the early morning or 7:45 am for you boring, normal people.
The moon is Waxing Crescent

I know, you’re thinking, who?
Well, today is the birthday of Robert W. Service who wrote “The Cremation of Sam Mcgee”. Still in the dark? That’s okay. I don’t think that Mr. Service is too well known anymore. I know him because of my father. Apparently, when my father was growing up one of the things that kids in school did was memorize and recite poetry. It was a competition along the lines of a spelling bee, from what he described. In any case, the poem that he memorized was, of course, “The Cremation of Sam Mcgee”. It’s a gruesome little tale about a man keeping his promise to a dying friend. A promise to cremate his remains in the frozen Yukon, in Winter, during the Gold Rush. Here’s a sample:

There are strange things done in the midnight sun
By the men who moil for gold;
The Arctic trails have their secret tales
That would make your blood run cold;
The Northern Lights have seen queer sights,
But the queerest they ever did see
Was that night on the marge of Lake Lebarge
I cremated Sam McGee.

You can see how that might grab a young man’s attention, eh? Especially, when his father introduces him to it. I have to admit, it was a real father/son bonding moment.

I grew up in a house where we were allowed to explore what I would call the darker side of our nature, but in a safe environment. When I was a kid, my Grandmother lived with us so we often talked about things like death and funeral arrangements at the dinner table. Grandma Hoffman would be more than happy to tell us that she didn’t want us to spend a lot of money on her funeral and that she, in fact, simply wanted to be cremated and interred with her late husband. We discussed these things in a very “matter-of-fact” way and nothing much was made of them. I think, in part, I have my father’s work with Elisabeth Kubler-Ross to thank for that. And, in retrospect, I think it helped Grandma prepare herself at the end, too, knowing that we knew what she wanted and that she was okay with dying. You know, I don’t say it too often, but I have a pretty remarkable family. I may have my problems, but Mom and Dad did a pretty bang-up job with their kids. They really taught us to live well. They taught us in ways that I’m only just now starting to understand. Well, in any case, if you click on the link, you can read the rest for yourself. I think it’s worth it.


Elisabeth Kubler-Ross is dead

Filed under: Criticism, Marginalia, and Notes,Life, the Universe, and Everything,News and Current Events,Personal,Personal Archive — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Hare which is in the early morning or 7:30 am for you boring, normal people.
The moon is Waning Crescent

Actually, this happened more than a week ago.

She passed away on August 24, according to her website. I heard about it via a blog just yesterday. If you’re not familiar with her, she’s the one responsible for the Five Stages of Death and Dying. She was an interesting character who contributed quite a bit to the psychological community, even though she developed a bit of an odd reputation at the end there.
I present this as a “Personal” entry because my father worked with her. Most folks don’t know about it, but the “legwork”, so to speak, for her book On Death Dying was done through a hospital chaplaincy program. A lot of her work involved administering surveys and questionaires to hospital chaplains who were working with people that were in the process of grieving. My father was one of the people who helped make that happen. One of the two, in fact. As memory serves, he was working for the AMA in a religious capacity. Something to do with morality and ethics in medicine, as well as the religious components contained therein. In any case, it’s one of those personal anecdotes that my father has collected over the years. I hope I’ll have a few one day.

(Well, I already do. Sometime I’ll have to write about how I met the #4 boss in the Chicago “Family”. Or, Milton Erickson, for that matter. And, even how I exchanged e-mail with the inventor of ping, Mike Muuss.)

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