I Won’t Back Down

Well I won’t back down, no I won’t back down
You can stand me up at the gates of Hell
But I won’t back down

No I’ll stand my ground, won’t be turned around
And I’ll keep this world from draggin’ me down
Gonna stand my ground and I won’t back down

(I won’t back)
Hey baby, there ain’t no easy way out
(I won’t back down)
Hey I will stand my ground
And I won’t back down

Well I know what’s right, I got just one life
In a world that keeps on pushin’ me around
But I’ll stand my ground and I won’t back down

(I won’t back down)
Hey baby there ain’t no easy way out
(I won’t back down)
Hey I will stand my ground
(I won’t back down)
And I won’t back down

(I won’t back down)
Hey baby there ain’t no easy way out
(I wont back down)
Hey I won’t back down

(I won’t back down)
Hey baby there ain’t no easy way out
(I won’t back down)
Hey I will stand my ground
(I won’t back down)
And I won’t back down
(I won’t back down)
No, I won’t back down
Tom Petty And The Heartbreakers – I Won’t Back Down

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My father was born on April 28, 1929 and he would have been 88 today. At precisely 12 noon, I buried him. It was a simple ceremony with an honor guard playing taps and the formal flag folding. The young soldiers were very serious and precise, a fine example of the men that represent the best this country has to offer. When the officer presented the flag to me and thanked my father and I for his service on behalf of a grateful nation, I could see true sorrow in his eyes. I will forever be grateful to him and his service in my time of need.

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My father was laid to rest beside many others that paid their dues so we could live a life of freedom and happiness. Safe we are behind the walls of this republic, the foundation set in the founding documents of this country that so many have fought and died for, and many take for granted. Would they feel the same had today been about their father? Would they burn the flag to spite the fallen? I for one believe they have that right BECAUSE of the sacrifice of my father and all the others, and they can choose to exercise that right if they want, but I feel they are misguided.

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My father was never one to follow politics. He had his beliefs and ideals he followed throughout his life, viewpoints about this story or that, but it was always tempered by the feeling that we should all be equal in our treatment of others. Yes he shared opinions of this group or that, sometimes even a little prejudiced in it’s manor, but he was not openly hostile towards others in public as we see on an almost daily basis now from some younger people in this country. These people take protesting too far and approach the border of anarchy. They are not fit to walk the same soil as my father but I would not take away their right to.

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As I walked down this path I felt the crush of sorrow for those who left this world in such a tragic way. Many didn’t even truly understand what they were fighting for, but they did their best for their buddies and us and I will forever be grateful. Freedom is not given, it’s earned. Earned by the sweet of our brows when we work for our pay, when the soil is tilled to grow crops to feed the many, when we help another that can’t help themselves. But the largest payment for our freedom has been paid by the military and the men and women who paid the ultimate price.

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I placed my father in the cold ground today with what was his favorite possession at the end of his life, his Korean War Hat. His mind was so muddled towards the end that a simple hat meant more to him than anything. I protected it for you dad and made sure you got it back. I cant look at that picture without breaking down, without feeling some guilt for not trying harder at the end of his life to have a closer relationship. This was the hardest day of my life and I will spend this evening alone with my dog and reflect on a life now gone and what it meant to me. Goodbye Dad, I’m sorry for everything.

Suite Madame Blue

Time after time I sit and I wait for your call
I know I’m a fool but why can I say
Whatever the price I’ll pay for you,
Madame Blue

Once long ago, a word from your lips and the world turned around
But somehow you’ve changed, you’re so far away
I long for the past and dream of the days with you,
Madame Blue

Suite Madame Blue, gaze in your looking glass
You’re not a child anymore
Suite Madame Blue, the future is all but past
Dressed in your jewels, you made your own rules
You conquered the world and more, heaven’s door

Oh

America, America, America, America
America, America, America, America
America, America, America, America
America, America, America, America
America, America, America, America
America, America, America, America

Red white and blue, gaze in your looking glass
You’re not a child anymore
Red, white, and blue, the future is all but past
So lift up your heart, make a new start
And lead us away from here

Suite Madame Blue – Styx

My short time on this earth has taught me anything of real value comes at a price, nothing is free. It’s also taught me that time is fleeting, every moment of your life is to be cherished not squandered. When I look out over the vast stretches of Madame Blue, I see more than open ocean, seagulls and dolphins. More than the morning sun as it struggles to break free of Poseidon’s grasp. More than the foreboding feeling as waves grow tall with the setting sun, and the darkness once again takes control. I see my past being washed away in the wake of my sailboat. Each bad memory fading from view as I trim my sails and and stay true to the decided course.

It’s been just over a decade since I walked away from the lifestyle that held me in a prison of doubt and fear, a way of life fraught with anxiety and sadness. I feel I have grown more in that time then in all the time before. With a clear head I have looked at all the things I couldn’t see in my youth through the eyes of an outsider of sorts. No longer clouded by drugs I find I can play God with my past, slowly discarding the mistakes and fleshing out the real person that lies within. I feel an urgency to get my life in order before the future is past again. If you’ve never been in that place you can’t possibly understand the willpower it takes to turn away from the hold it has on you. I will never go back.

The passing of my father has shown me how much I still have to learn, how much I overlooked. Like many John Wayne characters, my father did not sit with me and teach me about life lessons he had learned, it was not his way. Instead he taught by example, though it took his death for me to see it. When I think of my struggles, then look to his past, I see no comparison. My fathers past was much more devastating than anything I have been through, yet he stayed strong and steady until the end. In his last days of life I watched his hold on this world slowly slip from his grasp, his body slowly melt away a little more each day. Even when he slipped into a coma, no food or water for over 8 days, he would not give up. My father was the strongest man I have ever known, and I will try to live up to his example.

I look to my future with hope for a change, thanks in large part to the lessons I have learned from both my parents. The sum of my experiences and the steadfast will both my father and mother have shown gives me the strength to carry on each day, the will to make my dream a reality in the near future. When my father is buried, his flag will come with me on my boat as a symbol of what it means to be a man, his lessons not lost on me. He will be with me in every storm, sunny day, distant anchorage and marina. I will remember how he never gave up, never backed down. Though his back was bowed with the burdens he carried, he gladly put that yoke on each morning and made his way through life with few complaints. I will do my best to become half the man he was.

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The War Is Finally Over

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CARL ARTHUR PIERCE, 87

Carl Arthur Pierce, age 87, passed away at the Androscoggin Hospice House in Auburn, on February 10, 2017, after a long period of declining health. During his illness he had resided at Togus, and Coastal Manor in Yarmouth.

Carl was born in Portland on April 28, 1929, the second child of Chester “Chet” Pierce and Florence “Flossie” (Caldwell) Pierce. He grew up in the Riverton area, and attended Portland schools. At age 16, he began working at the S.D. Warren paper mill in Westbrook. Carl had a fondness for motorcycles in his youth, and drove his two Harley’s throughout Maine and New Mexico. He saw action in the Korean War, before being honorably discharged.

img_8239-largeHe was a Portland firefighter, at the Central Station, for 15 years. He was also a skilled finish carpenter, and very knowledgeable about many aspects of building construction. He worked many construction and remodeling jobs in and around Portland, notably in the Old Port. Later, he worked at Jordan Marsh and the Barron Center. Carl was a trusted employee and had a strong work ethic. He took good care of his family.

Carl had a son, Michael, from his first marriage. On June 2, 1962, he married Betty A. Grover (Thurlow), and gained three stepchildren as well. Carl loved children, and treated his stepchildren as his own. They all loved him as their “Dad”. Carl and Betty had two more children together. They were married for 54 years.

In 1969, Carl, along with Betty, began to study with Jehovah’s Witnesses. He was baptized some time after his wife. He made many good friends through his association with the Witnesses, and the Bible truths he learned brought him comfort and hope. Though he later ceased active participation, he never stopped believing what he had been taught, and he remained supportive of his family’s efforts for the rest of his life.

dad-gingerHe loved animals of all kinds, and used his carpentry skills to build many barns, pens, and cages to house all of the family’s numerous pets. He and Betty enjoyed feeding the birds and other wildlife on their property. They never turned away a stray cat, and adopted many cats and dogs over the years. He was especially fond of his last dog, a Chow Chow named Ginger, who went everywhere with him.

Carl was a homebody, but he did enjoy several trips with his family to Prince Edward Island in Canada, and also Florida. He liked his pickup trucks and classic country music.

Carl was predeceased by his parents and his older brother Donald. He is survived by his wife Betty of New Gloucester, his stepson David J. Albert of Texas, his stepdaughter Kathleen L. (Albert) Fortman and her husband John of Wiscasset, his stepson Gregory C. Grover and his wife Jodi of Raymond, his daughter Cheryl A. (Pierce) Stringer and her husband William “Ed” of New Gloucester, his son John D. Pierce of Bangor, his sister Evelyn Roberts of Portland, and several nieces and nephews.

There will be no funeral services. Family and friends are invited to a gathering at the Stringer home on Sunday, February 26, from 1:00PM on.

If friends desire, to honor Carl’s great love for animals, donations can be made in his memory to an animal shelter of your choice.

Goodbye Dad, you will always be with me.

A Cold Winters Day

tmp_8346-20170204_104912-1294375252It’s hard to describe what it feels like to be wathching your father die. I’m sitting in the hospice room with my mother waiting for the family to arrive with a strange sort of detatchment. It’s almost like I’m just looking in on another family, like I’m intruding on their grief. I can’t really explain it…perhaps it’s just denial.

My father almost died 4 nights ago when pneumonia filled his lungs with fluid. The doctors had to suction it out or he would drown. Unfortunatly, the treatment is not working. Along with the illness his dementia took a strong downward turn so his comprehension and understanding is very limited. After much family discussion we have decided to stop treatment and let him go. 

Today is about comfort for him. Morphine is the drug of this day and I am trying to keep him pain free as much as possible. As he is now non verbal, I have to guess if it’s enough or too much. I try to judge by his body language and other signs, but I’m so unsure. When I look in his eyes I still see him there, and that’s the hardest part. I hope I’m doing the right thing. 

He has not eaten anything in 5 days, and no fluids in over 24 hours. I don’t think he will last the night. How do you say goodbye? This is the hardest thing I have ever had to do, but I will follow it through to the very end. I love you dad.