Thursday, January 10, 2013

It has been said that readers are often poorly served when writing is done as an act of catharsis.  I don't have any other reason to write, frankly, so I guess anyone reading anything I wrote is always poorly served.  I always have been a self-absorbed narcissist.  Not pathologically so, where I am willing to do anything or say anything to get what I want, and then move on with no remorse.  No, I feel guilt.  I suffer.  I wonder about whether what I am doing is right or wrong.  I remember the bad things I have done for far longer than the good things.

I don't want to write about the death of my Dad.  I am just afraid that if I wait too long, the memory will fade and I won't get the story straight.

My Mom decided to "free" my Dad on the first of the year.  We had held a meeting the Friday before last and discussed our options.  Doctor Ashad attempted to explain there was no hope.  My sister was angry and confrontational with him.  The rest of us were mostly silent.  My Mom didn't decide that day.  Or the next.

The next week she called to let me know there would be another meeting.  I wrote her an email telling her I would not go.  There was no point.

I had reached a stage where I was fearful he was suffering.  It was impossible to know how much he was cognizant.  He could barely speak,  didn't make much sense when he did, and could not move or feed himself.  He had about five or six operations to move the shunt around in his head that was draining the wound in his brain.  I didn't want any of them done.  It seemed obvious to me that they were just causing him more pain.  My Mom seemed determined to keep him alive, and did not see it the way I did.  When I tried to explain how I felt, she accused me of wanting him to die.

We met on the first of the year, 2013 at the hospital and the procedure began at about 2pm.  They withdrew the tubes and gave him morphine.  But his body held on.  My Aunts and Uncles sang Jewish songs over him for a while.  We took turns coming in to see him and sitting in the hallway.

By about 8pm everyone had left and my Mom asked me to stay.  Since I thought he could hang on for several days, I was upset.  It had been a long, painful road for me.  I had  to drive an hour and 45 minutes each way to go to Sacramento.  My family was about an hour away.  

I don't believe in God, but I thank whatever forces are out there, coincidence, chance, whatever that kept me there that day.

The nurse came in and told me they were going to move him.  I went downstairs to wait in the new room, but he didn't come.  I called my Mom, who was outraged, and went back upstairs.  The Neurosurgeon intervened and told the nurses to back off.  Here he is, a Kaiser doctor for 25 years, and some checklist had to be filled, whether there was a patient coming in or not.  

I sat by his bedside and at about 1pm he began to tire.  His breaths became shorter.  His oxygen saturation rate dropped.  And I knew at that moment, he would die soon.

There were moments when I sat and meditated at his bedside.  I closed my eyes, straightened my spine, and focused on my breath.  I focused on being present with him, at that moment, in this place, with no thoughts of past or future.  No stories to be told or remembered.  I was there for him, and that was all.

It is well known in Buddhist teachings that suffering is inevitable and that it is a natural part of life.  We care and desire things that are not permanent, and eventually, these things are taken from us.  To be grief-stricken, this is normal.  To suffer, this is normal.  There is none of us who does not lose things we love.

There is a Buddhist parable about a woman named Kisa Gotami who was the wife of a wealthy man of Savatthi. Her story is one of the more famous ones in Buddhism. After losing her only child, Kisa Gotami became desperate and asked if anyone can help her. Her sorrow was so great that many thought she had already lost her mind. An old man told her to meet Buddha. Buddha told her that before he could bring the child back to life, she should find white mustard seeds from a family where no one had died. She desperately went from house to house, but to her disappointment, she could not find a house that had not suffered the death of a family member. Finally the realization struck her that there is no house free from mortality. She returned to the Buddha, who comforted her and preached to her the truth. She was awakened and became a monk eventually attaining enlightenment.

I took a nap out front for about two hours, but the rest of the time I sat there with him.  Watching him.  Watching the vital signs as they slowly waned.  At a certain point he stopped breathing and then his breath came back.  I told him I loved him.  I told him the things I would never forget.  I told him I was sorry and asked him for forgiveness. I told him I forgave him.

His body gave up around 5:30am in the morning.  His breaths stopped at the same time his heart stopped.  The nurse came in and took the machines out.  His face lost color.  Eventually a doctor came in and checked his heart, asked me if I was ok, and left.  I sat there for a while with him, though I believed, as he did, that whatever force had been there was no longer there and there was no reason for me to be there.  Neither of us were superstitious.  The sacred part of him was gone.

I put his jacket and his shoes and toothbrush in a bag and walked out.  I paused at the entrance of the hospital and sat on a bench with the bag.  In my entire life, I had never felt so completely alone and it dawned on me that I did not want to be.  I should have planned better.  Like so much of what has happened in my life, it was my fault.  Things were the way that they were because of what I did.

I only dwell on this a little.  In the end it was still wonderful that I could be there.  Traumatic, yes.  Life-changing, yes.  Tragic, yes. My uncle called it the greatest Mitvah (good deed) one person could ever do.  Others may call it Karma.  I call it feeling good that I was there.  I was right there, and I would not have had it any other way.

Friday, November 30, 2012

November ending

Autumn has always been my favorite time of year.  I can't really know why.  There is a certain sense of calm that seems to arrive when all the promise of Spring and Summer have either been delivered, or not arrived. 

Obviously the year itself is a metaphor for the various ages that we all grow through.  The spring is your youth, the summer your twenties and thirties, and then autumn is your middle age, and winter is your later years.

No longer are there all these expectations.  Life simpy is what it is, and the miracle that it is becomes more real.  All the things you used to think were important, at a certain point for many of us, become meaningless.  We don't really care who drives the bigger car, or lives in the bigger house.  But we do remember the times we spent with the people who love.  The moments of laughter, hope, peace and happiness.  Of fire flickering, moonlight shining, rivers rushing and the wind rustling the brown leaves across the bare branches.  Of the people who touched us and moved us.  People who were there for us as we were for them.

I sit at my Dad's bedside and hold his hand.  He has a tube that goes into his nose to feed him, and he can barely see out of his left eye.  He recognizes me.  I can hear him say my name just barely.  And he begins to talk, and though it doesn't make any sense, it doesn't really matter.  He is talking to me.  I listen and nod, and tell him what is happening in the world.  I know that he can hear me.  I tell him I love him.  He tells me he loves me.

It is difficult to see what has happened to him.  He was a successful doctor, played classical piano, flew airplanes, read anything and everything.  His knowledge about practically everything was always amazing to me, and we talked about the world.  His universe was a very big place.  He had  a grand palace inside his head that he could visit at any time, and now that I think about it, it gives me solace to know he had a rich, inner life and I shared it with him.

Of course there were times when he bored me near insanity.  Other times when I thought he was simply wrong, or dismissive, and other times when I came away convinced he was absolutely right.  He had that capability.  His insight was always deeper than most people could appreciate.  It is not arrogance to say so.  It's just the truth.

I went into his office a few months ago and looked around at the books, the piano, the chair that he sat reading in.  His desk.  The music collection.  Of course I cried because I knew he would never be there again.  There was just this empty space where he was.

And that is Autumn.  And I remember one of his favorite Shakespeare sonnets.

That time of year
in me thou mayest behold
when yellow leaves, or few, or none
do hang upon those boughs which shake against the cold,
bare ruined choirs where late the sweet bird sings,
in me thou seeist the twilight of such day,
as after sunset fadeth in the west,
which by and by black night doth take away,
deaths second self, seals up all in rest.
In my thou seeist the glowing of such fire,
as on the ashes of his youth doth lie,
whereon the deathbed it must expire,
consumed by that which it was nourished by.
This thous perceivist, which makes thy love more strong,
to love that well, which thou must leave, ere long.

Friday, November 09, 2012

It's a cold autumn night in Sonoma County and I'm sitting here listening to the fire crackle behind me while the still, cool air chills the room.  There isn't anything I really want to do, anything I really want to say, and there isn't really anything I want to do.  I've reached a point in my life where I simply have stopped caring about things.

Some people would say it's depression.  Others would say it's a normal feeling for someone of my age who has lived long past the time that my ancestors would have.  I don't know that to be true.  I have read that a Roman aristocrat could not hold a high office until he was 42.  How can both be true?

There is a certain liberation in the feeling of not caring.  There is nothing that you want, and nothing that you need.  Therefore, how can you be deprived of anything?  To die is not bad.  To live is not necessarily good.  I think Nietzsche said that hope is the most horrible of all things, because it extends your torment.  I wouldn't know.  I can't think of anything I hope for.

So much of my life appears to be directed toward survival.  I have certainly never accumulated anything remotely resembling any measure of wealth.  Does that matter?  Would I be equally in this place where I sitting in some palatial residence with soft light, shiny glass and chrome surfaces?  I can't say.  It would not matter if I could.

My only mortality comes ever greater to the fore and though there is nothing remotely resembling and end in sight, it doesn't mean it is not around the corner.  After all, we are here one moment, then gone the next.  The stars do not need our small ruin.

Sometimes I go out into my back yard, among the uneven ground and patchwork of weeds that grow out there, and look up into the sky past the boughs of the single tree in my backyard, and there are the stars.  They don't seem to twinkle much.  Rather they sit there in repose, shining in the infinite blackness and not saying anything.  There is nothing to say.  What is the voice of God saying anyway?  I wouldn't know.  I don't believe in God.

The patchwork quilt of velvet blackness with the bare branches, leafless and shaking against the cold spreads across the night sky.  There is nothing to do but look upon the face of infinity and wonder.  That is one thing that never ceases in my life.  There will always be a sense of wonder when the universe bares itself.

You ask yourself how many times in your life you will have those moments: enduring moments of bitter loneliness and liberation.  This is all there is, and this is all that there ever will be.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Your attorney is asking you to help her choose software which will aid the law office for billing and calendaring.Choose five different types of software made specifically for the practice of law. Read reviews about them and draw a report in a memo which software is best for purchase, why you believe that, and compare and contrast the others.Common examples of law office software:AbacusAmicus AttorneyTime Matters Please make full use of your class time.

Wednesday, March 02, 2011

Fresno family law lawyer murdered with client

Fresno lawyer and her client were gunned down Wednesday at a Bass Lake restaurant, reportedly during a court recess in the client's divorce hearing.
The Madera County Sheriff's Office, which was investigating the fatal shootings, did not identify the slain women by late Wednesday.
But the local legal community learned Wednesday afternoon that one of the shooting victims was Judith Soley, 65, of Fresno, the first woman to serve as president of the Fresno County Bar Association, said Melissa White, the bar association's past president.
Soley, who was known as a tough divorce lawyer, also was a Downtown Fresno Rotary Club chairwoman and president of Fresno County's women's lawyers association.Read more:

Having seen first-hand the vicious, destructive power of family law it seems inevitable that someone, sooner or later, ends up being the victim of some horrifying act of violence.

Let's be clear about one thing: no one really knows, except for a few people in Fresno, what really happened between these parties. The only thing we know is that a evil act was committed.

Whatever the rationale may be for someone who committed such a crime is, it is not rational.

What I know of family law makes it suprising that more such crimes are not committed. Given the easy access to guns the criminal and mentally ill have, I'm impressed how rarely this happens.

I won't lie to anyone about where my sympathies lie in such a case. I think that the murdered ex-spouse was a victim of domestic violence, and that the murderer was in all likelihood a controlling, manipulative, and mentally damaged person who was both untreated and personally not capable of considering himself responsible for what had happened to him. He was probably a good guy in public, and in private a total asshole. But I don't really know.

I know that the attorney for the wife was a hardened veteran of the family courts. I know that someone wrote the following post:

You are absolutely do not know me or the specifics of my case or probably any of her cases. I am positive she was a great friend, mother, and daughter......but as far as a great attorney ......not as far as loads of folks feel. .she cause much pain in and out of the court room and her office......and this time it got her and her client killed.....she went too far antagonizing this man knowing what he was capable of doing.....sometimes getting the most money for your client (and yourself) is NOT in the best interest of your client......she should have know better....she aways HAD to win and this time the other spouse didn't have an attorney.....which is usually a good sign EXTRA care should be taken as far as intentionally antagonizing the spouse......if he didn't want to pay for his own attorney and money was his main issue......then she knew how he would feel when she was about to get $155,000 in fees out of HIS half (Fees..which by the way should have included "security" for this client....this was huge mistake....again...a good attorney (with forty years of family law experience) would have provided this and should have......especially knowing he had just read her 21 page trial brief dated 2/10/11......There are Two sides to every story....and the one about Mrs. Williamson.....will never known. By the way....I always recommended Judy to my long as they were sure they NEVER want to be friends or be trusted again by their ex spouse.....and damage to their family didn't matter....because when she was finished painting a picture of their marriage and their spouse.....they will think the marriage was a complete mistake and their spouse never loved them.....she was a master and if you wanted to get or keep every dime you can...No matter what! She was the attorney to hire!P.s. If you didn't think she could be Conniving, Antagonist, and vengeful then you didn't know her as an attorney, as well as you think! Great "gutsy" attorney? Hummm? She should have provided security in her outrageous $155,000 fee...that was unforgivable not gutsy! Again, She was well aware her client was afraid of her much so that she stayed with friends the night before the trial. Read more: "

This is a post obviously written by someone from that community. Someone who knew this attorney. They also wrote this post as well:

"Thank God someone finally has told the truth about Judy. She was a conniving,antagonistic, vengeful person that If The truth was told.....was more disliked ...than liked! She cause more problems for already unhappy couples and purposely ruined any chance of a couple getting back together..... Because if they did... She would not get the Big bucks. There is a reason she was considered the "Lawyer's ... Lawyer" when getting a divorce. It was...because she knew all if the tricks and Judges ..... And also Was a MASTER as to what buttons to push... In order to get the spouse so upset they would become outraged, hurt, and scare they were about to lose everything .....knowing they and/or ANY Fresno attorney they could hire could never compete against this vicious, lying, vengefull woman. Years ago when Bill Richert (who was About as nasty and mean as Judy and the Only Local attorney who was her match) died on a Friday night, who was my attorney, she did not wait 5 days to turn what had begun as fairly Peaceful divorce into a nightmare that lasted 3 years and ended up costing "us" more than $150,000......she had my spouse File divorce papers 3 days(and deliver them to my office) after Bill's death, knowing I needed to find a new attorney...... And this was 3 weeks before Christmas!!!! (we had been separated for 18 months and had not decided when or IF we were going to divorce, but after Bill died.... She knew it was time for her to take charge... And so she did!)However, more importantly she turned a decent couple into untrusting, Angry spouses, who lost a 20 year friendship ... that has never completely recover, she was the only one who walked away happy...... If she could ever be happy.... I feel she was a very unhappy person who found joy in seeing and making other folks as unhappy as she was.......Honestly, I am surprised someone didn't try to hurt her before this.......she has spent a lifetime of hurting innocent people by her lies and "egging on" the other spouse, therefore ruining some fixable marriages for her OWN personal gain....and usually the couples with money. of course lately, she would not take a divorce case unless the folks had a lot of is pretty hard to get $150K if the couple doesn't have it!!! In the end, my ex wasn't happy with her either. she ended up with more than we did....... Except emotionally......our entire family suffered and she made it far worse. She didn't try to help us.....she just wanted to rack up the hours by keeping us at odds with each other. If she would have had her way....we would have gone to trial.....but that plan ended ......when she wanted us to put a lien against our home to insure her fee. Our accountant (and NOT the one she hired) helped us reach a settlement. Her $147,500 fee and the other attorney & accounting fee of $67K (not counting Bill's $10k fee) came right off the top..... And we got what was left....believe me ......she made loads of folks miserable!You can not go through life creating so much unhappiness for other families...for your personal gain....and then do loads of good deeds for others folks to make up for it....and expect everyone overlook it and forgive and forget the damage she did to an entire family...I haven't and it as been over 18 years.Read more:"

This is the kind of thing that I suspected might have been a part of the story. A few of the divorce attorneys where I practice are "scorched earth" lawyers. They call it being "aggressive". I call it being unethical. Lying, cheating, stealing, helping people hide money, fabricating allegations of child abuse and spousal abuse: none of these things are off the table with these kinds of attorneys. I didn't know this attorney, and we can't judge from one disgrunted poster from the sacbee website, but I can tell you that there is a deeper story here: one likely about a woman who tolerated abuse for decades and an attorney who ran roughshod over the lives of others without regard to the damage it might cause, and in the end, paid the ultimate price.

But I digress...

Friday, February 18, 2011


It's yet another opportunity for me to predict the future. Yes folks, I predicted the tech bubble, I predicted the housing bubble, I predicted the wholesale destruction of the American economy at the hands of Wall Street. I predicted the Iraq war would turn into a disaster and I have been correct each time.

The current struggles in the middle east will not give rise to more democratic governments. These are areas of the world where democracy can only be implemented with force: much as Napoleon brought much-needed reforms to France, only a powerful leader bent upon creating freedom and tolerance will change the middle east.

You will notice, first of all, that Egypt was one of the most democratic nations in the middle east. Thus the vulnerability of it's ruling autocratic regime was created by it's reticence to use the tactics that the Syrians or Iranians would not hesitate to use.

I hailed the rise of Ayatollah Komeini when I was a young man. I watched him get off the plan and felt it was a great thing that this leader was returning to free his country. I could not have been more wrong.

What we are facing in the mideast is "Arab" democracy. One man, one vote, one time. And then we will watch as the insidious cultural influence of Islam takes hold and crushes the life out of idealism.

I don't mean to be cynical: I hope I am wrong. But against the backdrop of all that has happened in that part of the world, and who they are, we would be quite foolish to assume that these are positive things.

Saturday, June 05, 2010