Tuesday, August 5, 2014

The Dark Side of Sod...16

Headlines Read…You Died Two Weeks Ago!!
First of all, anyone that knew you well would be starting to understand that their life has a void, you are missed, and they are more then likely in the proverbial death fog. I know this because in 6 months or so, conversations your survivors had with people prior to this time, they will have trouble recalling them. Random tidal waves of varied emotion will flood the lives of those closest to you. And…where’s your stuff? Who’s fighting over it? Who’s happy now that you're gone? (Well, it could happen!)Who is devastated?

Everyone will have a legacy of some kind. Some will be grander than others. One thing’s for sure, after a period of time, your legacy will begin to solidify. After the shock of your death wears off, there will be fewer stories told about you, and the ones that are told will be the highlighted version, or just the bullet points of your character traits. (You might be surprised what people say).

Picturing your world now, without you in it, may be frightening for you to think about. Believe it or not, there are those who can totally picture their life…done!!(Don't judge) Every situation and every person is unique. Your death can happen…just like that!!(snap) With NO notice. One minute you’re here, the next minute you’re dead. OK, so I know that sounds a bit harsh, but beating around the bush or denying something as absolute as your death is not healthy for any BODY. For a million reasons.

Please consider these…

  • Understanding and embracing the fact that your life will end is healthy and that by doing so, you will live a more meaningful existence.

  • Communicating your thoughts about death to your would be survivors will only help them later with your care and handling your affairs.

  • You need to make a decision whether or not you would like to be a candidate for organ or tissue donation. Write it down and tell somebody about it. This requires advanced planning. A gift that keeps on giving.

  • Remember, Advanced Directives are your best friends…

  • At death, your body MUST be separated from the living. So what would you like done with it? Are you thinking...Burial? Cremation? Anatomical Donation? Your legal next of kin will need this information. Or you will put them in a position of “winging” it. Sometimes that doesn’t work out so well. KNOW the death care processes and ask questions. (Funeral Homes, Cemeteries, Celebrations, Churches)

  • Having regret in your life is very bad on every level. Would’ve, could’ve, should’ve will stay with you forever. Everyone wishes that they had just one more chance to say or do something with the person that died. Live your life fully. Ask yourself this question as you interact with other people, “If I found out this person died, would I be regretful?” Depending on your answer, you may want to adjust how you live and interact with them differently going forward. You do not want to have regrets. Period. Besides, living a full life provides great material for future conversations about you.

  • Grief must be addressed. No age restrictions, and on an individuals terms.

  • Picture how you would like to be remembered, and live your life accordingly. Being dead does not shield a person from the reputation they had living here on earth. No excuses allowed. If you are a person that enjoys making life miserable for any one that comes in contact with you, then that will be your legacy. Your legacy could impact future generations. (Good or Bad)

In my work, these things have become apparent. I hope it helps you in some way.

Be well friend,

Julie Pope

Friday, March 7, 2014

The Dark Side of Sod...15

Beautiful Death…A Tribute to Margaret

We all think that the proper order of death in the family starts at the top. First it’s our grandparents, then our parents and followed by the kids. We feel that it is absolutely unacceptable to be any other way. Kids simply are not supposed to die before the parents. Ever! But when it happens…parents, no matter what age say things like, “I was supposed to go first!” or "this is not the way it's supposed to be!"

Margaret is 94. She reminds me of Ever Ready Bunny, she just keeps plugging along while the majority of people she knows and loves are dying. Her attitude about death now is basically, that when you get to the “end of the line” stage in life, the sting of death doesn’t hurt as bad as it once did. Her frequent visits to a local funeral home were almost as common as going on a trip to a grocery store. In one week, she said she went to 9 funerals!! Can you imagine? 

Last weekend Margaret's daughter Ann died at the very young age of 62 years. When Margaret told me her daughter died a couple of days ago, she seemed in shock that it happened, but she had a complete calmness about her. She was sad, yet she seemed at peace with life in general. She remains optimistic about the time she has left alive. She remarked that Ann’s death was so beautiful. I thought what more could a person ask for? To see your child enter into the world and then leave it…ready, comfortable, and with her family at her side. WOW! (I’ll have one of those please!)

Margaret said that her daughter had just been moved to a rehabilitation facility from a lengthy hospital stay. Everyone in the family thought she was getting better. But she took a turn for the worse. Margaret said “She was ready to go” and that “She had a happy death”. Margaret was sitting beside the bed holding her hand. Ann received her last rights. Margaret was telling Ann that it was OK to go. Ann’s last words on the planet were, “Hello Daddy”. And she died. Her father had been dead about 15 years.

I wanted to share her experience because so many times death gets a bad rap. There is a distinct possibility that the person moving on is comfortably happy to be done with their world. They have accepted the fact that THEY WILL CHANGE. Into what or how they change ultimately doesn’t matter to anyone but them.

Margaret is not afraid to change someday either. In the meantime…plug on Margaret!  ; )

Be well friends!
Julie Pope

Saturday, November 30, 2013

The Dark Side of Sod...14

Greetings friends… I hope your Thanksgiving celebration with family and friends was extra special this year. I’ve decided to continue to post entries from my (G3) grandfather’s journal from the Civil War because it has fascinating details, I think he would like for his words to be shared, and you’ve expressed an interest in reading about it too. 

For me, I can’t believe what I am reading here. I try to picture the scenes but can’t imagine having the experiences he notes, or overhearing the conversations and rumors around the camp that spread like tidal waves. I know that anyone who serves in the military during wartime situations has their own tales to tell. Many are haunted by the ghosts of their experiences…they have absolutely seen too much. They have been too close to hell, and they’ve instantly become changed people. It can’t be helped… What’s a person to do? It’s what happens to humans when you put bloodshed, fear, weapons and the sense of duty in the same room. Love can be sacrificed as there are accounts where brothers and friends standing on opposite sides…wound or kill each other.

Yet, it is so easy to take things for granted. Freedom, comfort, safety, having a choice…we simply don’t understand how lucky we are. Take a look around your world, enjoy your freedoms…just because this took place in 1864 doesn’t mean it can’t happen in some form again. 

He writes…

Sunday, July 31st, 1864
Played a couple of games of chess, but having other more important matters on hand I could not keep my mind on the chess board, and I laid it aside for the bible.

Took a walk to the branch and visited an old friend, after which I returned to quarters and occupied my mind in reflections which led in various channels but neither subjects nor reflections are recorded. Home sweet home! How my spirit longs for freedom. Revenge sore revenge. Vengeance is mine, I will repay, sayeth the lord. How long, oh how long will this confinement last?

Monday, August 1st, 1864

Confinement, not close nor solitary, neither has it been yet long – a little more than a month and yet it seems as if I was growing old – but what is the use to write? It is of no avail – the skirmish line is a paradise to this, to risk life for liberty would be a pleasure. Would that I was a poet or an historian – but neither can do justice to this place. Parson Brownlow with all his profanity could not begin to describe the utterly inhuman treatment or prisoners – an yet there are those who curse the prospect of a release and those too who claim the protection of the Federal Government, wear the Federal Blue and belong to the army of the United States. Such men have forfeited all claims on the Government and deserve the most severe censure of the Authorities and the people. Some of them will have a mark set upon them that will be equal to the brand of Cain, and it will come to pass that some finding them will slay them.

Tuesday, August 2nd, 1864

Forenoon very pleasant. Cleared up in the afternoon with a thunder storm. Wild rumors afloat of the capture of General Stoneman – as to the credulity, I am inclined to believe that it is a good deal like the reports of parole and exchange – but I have given the rumors of exchange one comment with the result of observation and practice, and failed to do the cause justice to anything here – justice is far from being known in this camp – and should I fail to comment on a subject because I could not do it justice, I would be compelled to cease writing and not attempt to make any observations. Days, months, and were it possible, years would glide past and be a blank in history if a man were to cease to make observations for want of power to do justice to the themes presented. Yet memory would retain the scenes of horror and revert to them in future with a shudder. I have become so hardened and so used to false reports that I cannot believe anything I hear and scarcely half of what I see – but were I to tell what I have seen and what I know to be so, to half of the people at home, I would be set down as a liar, and yet could they see it as I have, they would be compelled to acknowledge it.

Take it easy,

Julie Pope

The Dark Side of Sod...13

Good morning! Everybody needs some java and good dose of what a day in the life of a POW is like to start the day. Man! These experiences may not be the same in all POW camps...but captivity sucks on all levels, regardless of where a person resides. I'm enjoying the SHARE because I'm learning about my grandfather...right along with you. So, right on! It seems to me, although he is in the most horrible conditions imaginable, he is not freaking out. Almost like he accepts his condition and is surviving. Enjoy your time...

He writes,
Thursday, July 28th, 1864

A number of prisoners arrived this afternoon from Atlanta, taken in Friday's fight. The intelligence brought agrees pretty well with, and is in fact a confirmation of, other reports - and my conclusion at first seems to have been correct, that is, that General Hood had undertaken something that he could not do and got considerably worsted. There is another conclusion I have been forced to, taking everything into consideration; I can see no other object in the rebel authorities giving Hood command of the army - seeing that he is only a Major General - except that it is to sacrifice him, and in doing that, they sacrifice the army.

The fall of Atlanta is a blow from which the Confederacy can never recover, and fall it must. The prisoners report now combatants leaving town, all transportation is used in shipping things out, and arrivals from the eastern army report the rebels to be fortifying Augusta as well as Macon - for Hood's army to attempt to hold both points seems to me to be sheer nonsense. With his forces united, he cannot hold one point, and with it divided he cannot expect to do anything - but if he abandons Augusta his communication with the east cannot be maintained. If he abandons Macon, he gives up Alabama, Mississippi, and the greater part of Georgia, leaving both armies to be supported by Eastern Georgia, North and South Carolina.

If Lee attempts a retreat from Richmond he will do it at the sacrifice of his munitions of war, and these they cannot afford to lose. A concentration at any point will be the beginning of the end, and a separation will give the same result - which would be most disastrous I will not attempt to say.

Friday, July 29th, 1864

More arrivals from the front but no more news. The population of Andersonville is increasing very fast, the last week has given an addition of upwards of 2000 - but I think emigration will cease for a short time at least. It is remarkable to note the contract in prisoners that have been captured on this campaign. Leaving out the capture of the garrisons at Plymouth and Fort Pillow and with other captures of less importance, and Grant has captured more men in one day from Lee's army than both Lee and Johnston have captured from both armies on the entire campaign. I think 7000 will include all that have been taken from both armies of Grant and Sherman, while on the other hand, the men captured by Grant alone would exceed four to one of the whole, and those taken by Sherman will exceed two to one - but there is a contrast in another respect that is still greater, and that is the treatment of prisoners.

While we are stripped of every thing and confined in narrow limits on cornbread and meat without quarters, the rebs are furnished with good quarters and plenty to eat. As to the quantity we get, it is sufficient, but quality and the manner in which it is furnished is the greatest bore possible, and under other circumstances but necessity it would be intolerable. Met an old comrade.

The Dark Side of Sod...12

Good morning! I wonder what my grandfather ever thought would become of his writings from being captured in the Civil War? I know...he probably thought they would be posted on the Internet in a social forum called Facebook...of course he did. Our evolution in just a short 149 years is hard to believe. His writings are daily...I'm just picking a couple at a time.

He writes...

Wednesday July 20th, 1864

Far different feeling exist in the bosoms of many. There are those here who were honest - those who never infringed law but who are now ready to disregard all law. Confinement only makes them desperate, and woe to the man who defeats their plans, should be made known in the future. Human nature - what a theme. Pope has well said that "the proper study of mankind is man". To know man you must see him in all circumstances and in all places.

I have seen them at home. I have seen them in the farm at home enjoying all its pleasures, surrounded with friends and plenty - still they are not satisfied, they complain of hard times and are not content with the dealings of Providence. There is too much rain, or they are suffering for rain, and would be willing to argue the point with the Ruler of the Universe to convince him that they know best and would regulate affairs for Providence if they had it in their power.

In the army I have seen them surrounded with danger and bearing up under all hardships that they are called upon to endure without one word of complaint - but there is another feature that no man knows without learning by experience. That feature I see now and am seeing every day. I love liberty, but should I live to get out safe in due time, I will never begrudge the time spent in prison.

Wednesday July 27th 1864

Weather warm in the forenoon, cloudy in the afternoon with a light shower late in the day. Prisoners from Hunter's army and Petersburg came in the morning but brought no late intelligence.

A few prisoners from Sherman's army came in the evening. They report that on the 22nd the rebels charged our lines and drove them into the works but were repulsed and followed to their own works. Our loss in prisoners is reported at 2000 while the rebel loss is estimated at 5000. The loss in killed and wounded was not known, but one man - who had served six years in the old country and claims to have been in some hard battles - says he never saw as hard fighting and never saw men lie so thick on any field.

One man killed by a rebel guard - but such occurrences are not infrequent, men are shot down almost daily by the guard for the least infringement of the rules regarding the dead line. They do not shoot merely to obey orders, but because they take delight in cold blooded murders - for it cannot be called anything else. Very often it happens that they miss the man they shoot at and kill or wound one or two unoffending individuals.

The Dark Side of Sod...11

Good morning! It's great to wake up free. Another journal entry from my grandfather John. 
He writes...

Saturday July 16, 1864

Well, business called me away before I got writing yesterday, I intended to make some remarks about the intellectual faculties. As far as literature is concerned, it is almost impossible to get hold of a book, and as almost everything is copied nowadays, the intellectual faculties are not called into action in the direction, except in a very few instances in which men energetic and active minds employ a portion under their observation.

There are others who train their minds in another direction - being noted for shrewdness and not enjoying confinement they are continually planning escape, but their plans are generally found out. Some miserable traitors who think more of the will of the Confederacy than they do liberty, their comrades or their country will inform on them, and they are checkmated before they can be carried into execution.

Sunday July 17, 1864

We had an example of the latter remark yesterday, but as the informant was not known. I declined making any remarks until further developments-this morning the developments have been made - the informant was discovered and the regulators took him in hand. He was taken to the barber shop and got a shave gratis - but it happened to be his head instead of his face - after which a paper bearing a stigma of traitor in large characters was pinned to his back and he was promenaded through the camp. This performance being over, he had the same stigma picked on his forehead with indelible ink, leaving him in a nice condition to return to family and friend. This reminds me of a punishment of a coward in the 57th Indiana on the 19th of June. The day before he had shown signs of cowardice, and that morning he was marched through the brigade with a board fastened to his back on which was printed the word coward.