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A Dose of Reality

Rev. 14-Sep-1999

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by Bob Eggleton

My Father, Earl R. Eggleton, passed away from this life on November 17th 1998. He was a Great Man in every sense of the word. A hero of The Battle of the Bulge, perhaps WWII's bloodiest conflict, he went on to do many great things, not the least of which was being "co-creator" of Yours Truly. He went on to show me how to draw and introduced me to this little program called Star Trek. So, if you like my art, you can also thank my Dad. Like me, he did not need a college education to prove his abilities. He learned by watching -- and doing. And he invented the process by which teflon is laminated to a metal frying pan -- you can thank him for those easy to wash pans, folks.

He was almost 76 years old, when suddenly one day last September, his health went into a serious decline. His mind began to go, then it was discovered he had lung cancer. By this time, and two hospital stays, he was only a whisper of the man I once knew. And then, without warning, he was conspired on by something not quite of the body: an HMO or the government's "brilliant" idea of micro-managing health care so that it makes "economic efficency" for an insurance company.

He was literally railroaded into a so-called "Nursing Home" which was nothing more than a repository for what profit minded insurance companies would label "the living dead". He declined even further due to inadequate care and then was re-admitted, comatose, to the hospital with pneumonia, nitrogen narcosis and renal failure. After a small improvement, he died on November 17, 1998 at 11:45 pm. The whole sad affair was one of the most horrible things I have ever seen happen to a human being.

The reality I was shown -- and not just in my Dad's case -- was one of a living Hell for many of the elderly and terminally sick in this country. We are the richest country on earth but health care is something not considered any sort of priority. We spend billions on bombs we'll never use yet if a person becomes sick they seem to be on their own with regard to the greed of insurance companies and so-called health care givers. The government spends money on flighter planes it doesn't need and yet they micro-manage every pill a doctor might prescribe for a sick person.

While our dreams take us to the stars, which, I am sure, some far day in the future, humans will inhabit, the reality of caring for those who will not live to see even next year must be something we have to pursue with equal zest. Medical science fascinates me. Every achievement we make in medicine -- for whatever -- AIDS, Arthritis, Cancer, Spinal Injury -- is something that makes US as a race of humans, better than we were before. Hopefully, aboard the now-under-construction space station Freedom, we will find more medical advances that we can only dream of. I think a space station is a good idea. It's a nice stepping off point... to Mars???

1998 was not a great year with regard to those we lost. Paul Lehr, a legend in SF art circles, also passed from this Earth, in 1998 because of cancer, as did Ian Gunn, a great artist whom I met once. I wish I had known him more, but I know lots of people who knew him. Almost everyone I know has lost someone -- or several someones -- they were close to. At one point, for me, it was one after another. I was not in a very good frame of mind through most of 1998, as you might be able to tell.

But all experience changes us and builds character. I have changed a great deal in 1998. I believe, if you want to change the world, change yourself. Impatient to go to Mars? Read a good book (Bova or Burroughs) or go look at a Chesley Bonestell painting. Whether your science is Earth/Medicine based, or Space based, it takes a bit of both for anyone to dream.

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