new this year because first, I am an old Navy man, you know, and I've
traveled the globe.
Going back through my memories, I've spent Christmas in Spain
cheering for the bull in the rain. I've spent it in France, loaded
with cognac, trying to do the Can-Can. I've spent Christmas in Italy
trying to climb the muddy slopes of Mt. Palermo in Sicily.
And dodging furniture being tossed out of upper-story windows in
Naples on New Year's Eve -- which is the tradition. I've spent
Christmas in Greece, drinking "oozo" and eating Octopi and many a
Christmas on the briny, deep blue seas.
But I have not spent Christmas alone with pneumonia before so,
decided to try it this year. Not as much fun as I thought. I couldn't
eat or sleep for more than three days, and as I lay there, in the
middle of the night, I gasped for breath and begged God to put me out
of my misery.
In my delirium, I thought I heard him say:
"I just want you to know that just because you can walk 20 miles,
I am the one who is the immortal. I see that you have survived all
the trials I have chosen for you, but I also see that you're going on
76 years old and you have never tried my Pneumonia, so it is another
experience you can log in your memories book.
If you don't like it, set your mind not to get it again. Besides
it's still better than the Grinch Christmas, you all had last year at
El Nido Mobile Home Park. And you're not out on the street yet."
With that, he showed me how merciless he can be, and he let me
In fact on Christmas Eve, he sent me an "angel" in the form of
Karen -- the daughter of a friend of mine -- who took me to the
I guess God doesn't want me with him yet, as he's been sending
"angels" to help me for 75 years: through three wars; engine room
fires; near drownings, five major hurricanes, several major floods
and other tragedies. I guess those were just for my memory book.
Still, this Christmas was better than the last, for the folks at
El Nido and Snug Harbor mobile home parks, seeing as how we all spent
the last holiday season in fear that we would be out on the street
for New Year.
No one, not the city or the park owners, had enough care or
compassion to ease our fears for the Christmas holidays.