September 2010


Update: 10/15/2010. This is the end of a truly awful week. But it was a week that also revealed great love and respect. Rick’s wake was this past Sunday (10/10/10) and thousands (no exaggeration) of people showed up to pay their respects. The line of mourners was continuous from 3:30 to 8:00pm. This number included many kids that Rick coached or who were instructed by “Firefighter Rick.” It was a tough and emotional time for Karen, the kids and all the family.

Rick’s funeral was held on Columbus Day. The Sterling Fire Department (SFD,)  in particular Lt. Tom Kokernak, made sure that Rick had a proper send off. His casket was carried on a black bunting draped caisson/fire truck to St. Richard’s Church from the funeral home. The total distance was approximately 1.5 miles. Just before the procession reached downtown Sterling, the Westford Fire Department Pipers and SFD color guard joined the procession, leading it. Next was a color guard from the Massachusetts Department of Corrections, and a large contingent of Rick’s fellow guards. The procession then passed under the outstretched ladders of two fire ladder trucks, from which a large American flag was hung. At the church, a large contingent of area town firefighters as well as DOC guards was present, as well as representatives from the Knights of Columbus (of which Rick was also a member.) It should be mentioned that along the route to the church, hundreds of people stood with hand-painted signs and small children wearing plastic fire helmets to honor Rick. It was truly touching.

After his funeral, Rick’s casket was carried once again aboard a fire truck on the way to St. John’s Cemetery in Lancaster. Debbie and I were happy that the procession passed our house on Highland Street, where Rick grew up. As was the case en route to the church, there were many people holding signs and many, many young kids wearing fire helmets and/or sobbing. When the procession entered St. John’s Cemetery, it once again passed beneath the towering ladders of two ladder trucks with the large American flag suspended beneath. At the graveside there were hundreds of mourners, as well as many firefighters and DOC guards…and the color guards. The most touching part of the ceremony was when Tom Kokernak presented Rick’s #28 fire helmet to Matt. Oh God how I felt for the kid, as well as for Karen, Abby and Luke. I think we all saw Matt grow into man from a boy.

I learned this week that although we all felt that Rick belonged to his family first, he truly belonged to the world. The number of people touched by Rick was amazing, and it made me proud that I was privileged to know him. It is going to take a while before Debbie can regain her footing…her grief is so strong. I’m in a haze as a result of his passing from us. I grieve for him as well, but I thank God that He did not make Rick suffer, and that He welcomed Rick with open, loving arms to be with Him.

God bless you Rick. Watch over Karen and your kids, and make your family strong in their time of great grief and stress. Debbie and I love you very much.

UPDATE: 10/6/2010. Unfortunately my brother Rick lost his battle yesterday with a most cruel and cunning enemy. He is now with God and at peace. I cannot explain how incredibly painful it was to watch this once vigorous and athletic man be reduced so quickly to a shell of his former self. But I’m comfortable with the knowledge that somewhere in Heaven that God has asked Rick to help Him by helping others there — a task that Rick will do without hesitation and to the very best of his abilities. And he will continue to make countless more friends in his new home.

God bless you Rick. We miss you more than you could have ever imagined.

[The following is the original post from September 14, 2010.]

As we all know, life is a series of ups and downs. Sometimes, for whatever reason, people experience more downs than ups during their lives. From all indications it’s a random occurrence, and people learn to live with the hand that they’ve been dealt. In the vast majority of these cases the recipient of the less than good luck are just like any other of us. The only thing that separates them from us is luck…and sometimes in the case of health…genetics.

This is the case of my brother-in-law Rick. In his adult life he has had to deal with more than his share of infirmity, starting with the health of his then-infant son Matthew. Matthew was an otherwise healthy one and a half year old baby just before Christmas in 1996. But things were not what they seemed from outward appearances. Little Mattie was diagnosed with stage IV liver cancer, and things drastically changed for Rick and his wife Karen. Their three lives became a whirlwind of doctors and chemotherapy treatments and hospitalizations and surgeries. It was a tough and nerve-wracking time for our entire family.

But with the support of more prayers that could be counted and the skill of the oncologists and surgeons associated with Dana Farber Cancer Institute in Boston, MA, Matt was saved. In fact, Matt has thrived. He is now a high school freshman and quite a multi-sport athlete. Whether he knows it or not, he truly is a miracle child…and a true joy and blessing to our family.

Now, Rick is a physically tough guy. He’s a firefighter/EMT in the small central Massachusetts community of Sterling where he also lives. He is also a prison guard at MCI, Concord, MA. He has a busy professional career, indeed. He’s also a devoted husband and father. Rick is tirelessly involved in his kid’s many activities. He coaches baseball and football, and if there is a children’s activity in he town, he is more likely than not a volunteer. He is also affectionately known as “Firefighter Rick” to the local grammar school kids. On numerous occasions, he dons his firefighter gear and speaks before the kids, stressing the importance of fire safety. I might be biased because I’ve known him for such a long time, but he’s a great guy and without question a role model in his community.

But for a little more than a year he had been bothered with acid reflux and other indigestion-related discomfort. With his work schedule and the list of volunteer activities, a little agita was not unexpected. He addressed his problem first with over the counter antacids…and when things weren’t getting any better, then with visits to the doctor and an increasing list of more powerful medicines. But nothing seemed to work, so he finally decided to get a second opinion in May. He wasn’t expecting the results of his tests. Nobody in the family was.

On his youngest son Luke’s first communion day, he was diagnosed with late stage esophageal cancer.

Now the past is prologue for Rick and our family. He is now in the position that little Mattie found himself in in 1996. Rick is presently being treated at Dana Farber himself. He finds himself with the same dizzying array of tests and doctors and treatments and procedures. He is presently in the thick of his treatment at Dana Farber, and all we can do is keep our fingers crossed, hope and pray. He knows that it is going to be a tough journey to get well. We all do.

None understand this better than his brother and sister firefighters in Sterling and the grateful members of the community who have recognized his selfless contributions to the kids in their community. The Sterling firefighters have stepped up for Rick in a BIG way. They are engaged in fundraising activities on many different levels — including running a dunk tank at the annual Sterling Fair this past weekend. Several larger fundraising events are planned in the near future, and the activities are summarized at this website:

GIVE. LOVE. FIGHT.

I’m not looking for donations from you…I’m asking for your prayers for my brother Richard W. Maypother, Jr. He has a long fight ahead of him, but he is a fighter and he can win his fight against cancer with our help and prayers. He has a family and so very many friends who care deeply and love him dearly.

Your prayers for Rick will only encourage him to put up the good fight. If he is half the man that Matt is turning out to be (and I know that he is), then he will have no problem defeating this enemy.

So, again, his sister Debbie and I ask you to pray for Rick and for his complete recovery.

May God bless you Rick, and give you the courage, strength and endurance necessary to get back to the things that you love most.

On January 20, 1999 the newly-minted President Obama entered his office with enthusiasm and gusto. He was going to change the US, and perhaps change the world. He was going to implement his promised change as sweeping social and economic “reforms” that would be overwhelmingly embraced by the American people. Historians would look back and mark that mid-winter day as the beginning of a new American Renaissance.

However, reality met with Mr. Obama when he made his first trip to the Oval Office. After the first time he sat behind the “Resolute” desk, he discovered that although he was now a very powerful man, he had few controls directly available to him in order to make meaningful changes.

Regarding the economy, Obama found that there were exactly two controls that he could use: The first is a gearshift with three positions labeled ‘spend’, ‘tax’ and ‘cut;’ and the second control was a large brake pedal labeled ‘regulation.’ To his dismay, he could not find a steering wheel or an accelerator pedal. And furthermore he discovered that the cut position had been duct taped-over so that the gearshift lever could under no circumstances enter this position. It must have been an awful shock for a man with such lofty visions of grandeur to find that there was no accelerator pedal or steering wheel, and that otherwise he had such precious little control over the economy at his disposal.

However, any student of economics and government understands that there are only four actions that the government can take in order to affect the economy: It can spend, cut, tax, and regulate. And these same apt students of economics should conclude that our Driver-In-Chief is guilty of ‘reckless driving’ through his insistent use of the gearshift and brake pedal at his disposal. President Obama began and continues to drive only using his tax and spend gearshift positions and his big regulation brake: His profligate bailout and Stimulus spending as well as instituting onerous regulations on industry are two sure-fire means of stunting economic growth. It sure appears that he’s trying to accelerate by riding the brake!

The price that we pay for the president’s overuse of the tax/spend gearshift and the regulate pedal is uncertainty in the commercial marketplace. Businesses of all sizes are reluctant to add jobs to grow their market share because of the ever-increasing unpredictability of the regulations being rolled out by this administration. Also, the mounting national debt and the uncertainty of near-term and future interest rates make for jittery board rooms as well. What corporate leader wants to throw good money after bad? What corporation wants to gamble with their shareholder’s investments? It’s no wonder corporate America is sitting on the economic sidelines with their cash.

But even with mountains of evidence to the contrary, President Obama obstinately insists on placing the gearshift in the spend position again and again – he recently proposed a $50 billion plan to renovate infrastructure. Critics of this plan say that this additional “stimulus” will do little to create short-term jobs and will only add to our growing debt, which is described by Hillary Clinton as “a matter of national security not only…a matter of economics.”

Still more troublingly, Obama still refuses to rein in the alphabet soup list of government regulatory agencies, and the red tape forced upon businesses by them, over which he has direct control. Similarly, we cannot underestimate the disastrous economic effects of the Obama-Reid-Pelosi alliance that enacted so many business-unfriendly legislative initiatives. If one needs an example, one only has to go as far as Obamacare for a breathtaking reminder.

Well, can you smell the burning brakes of our slowing economy? Can you feel the economic deceleration yet? Do you see the skid marks from our economy coming to an abrupt stop from counterproductive policies?

The actions taken by Mr. Obama to date demonstrate that he has no idea where to find the accelerator for our economic activity. But if you ask any American business man or woman, they will almost immediately tell you that the accelerator resides with the American people, and subsequently in small business and corporate America. The accelerator is pushed when government gets the heck out of the way and lets free trade occur among American citizens and businesses with the barest minimum amount of regulation and restrictions.

Remarkably, no gearshift lever needs to be moved or brake pedal requires depressing. When it comes to the government’s role in economic activity, the term laissez faire should be carefully observed watch words.

Regrettably, the concept of unfettering commercial and economic activity from the federal government is both foreign and repugnant to Mr. Obama and his statist advisers. In their minds federal control equates to guaranteed fairness, as well as to power, regardless of any negative consequences that may be encountered. So, America will continue to have a President who insists on driving recklessly with his actions and his agenda, at least until he can be convinced otherwise. That might take some doing, even with the specter of an incoming Republican Congress to prod him to that conclusion.

If only our president would recognize the true titanic potential of the American people, and the American economy, by just stepping back – if he could just let go of the gearshift, take his feet off the brake pedal, and perhaps even remove the duct tape from the gearshift’s “cut” position, and then give that position a long overdue try.

Unhindered by government meddling, we would feel economic acceleration like never before. We would experience an economic revitalization only dreamed about by socialists and statists. And we would see the fulfillment of the vast potential of our capitalist system and welcome a new dawn in American prosperity.

I guess I dream too big…

It’s official! The 2010 election season is here.

How do I know? Well, it’s not because of the campaigning going on. It’s not because of the smattering of political yard signs beginning to appear. Nope, I know it’s election season because the mud (or the threat of mud) slinging has begun in earnest.

There was a news article on Drudge today that described something that I though might be coming. In case you’re in suspense and wondering, the title is: “Globalist Soros Launches Frontal Assault Against Tea Party“.

I had heard rumblings of this earlier in August…with snippets here and there that videos, news stories, pictures, etc. were wanted so that they could be posted online to reveal bad and racist behavior. The funding wasn’t mentioned — it was rumored that either Huffington or MediaMatters would be the sponsor.

But in the loony left-o-verse of thought and politics, all dough in one way or another leads back to Soros. And it is fitting that Soros is funding this smear effort: He is purported to HATE the Tea Party and it gets under his skin like nothing else.

I predict that this smear site, Teapartytracker.org, is going to do more harm to the left than good. The crazed left is convinced that there are bigots and racists and hate-mongers under every rock. Particularly rocks on the property of Tea Party members. But just like the political nonsense that oozes from the left…the “stuff” found on the .org site will be primarily manufactured by the left, for consumption by the left.

Those on the left who despise the Tea Party (pretty much everyone with a pulse) have tried for months to tar and feather rally attendees or folks at town meetings. The crown jewel of proof of Tea Party racism was the alleged hurling of racial pejoratives at members of the Congressional Black Caucus on the day of the passage of Obamacare by members of the Tea Party who assembled to protest this action. Contrary to the claims by the individuals who were alleged to have been the “victims” of this verbal assualt, no evidence of any kind has emerged — even in the face of a $50,000 reward by Andrew Breitbart.

So now every Tea party event from now until Nov.2 will be documented every which way to Sunday. And like I said, if the deportment of the Tea Party members is stellar, I’m convinced that questionable “bad” behavior will appear on the .org reporting site and exploited for all it’s worth.

The sad part of this is that rather than being skeptical, the MSM will run with the garbage hurled by the anti-Tea Party .org site. They won’t give the Tea Party folks the assumption of innocence until proven guilty. No, no, no. I predict they will pig pile on the alleged “bad” behavior. And they will ignore any evidence that would prove otherwise.

See, as much as Soros hates the Tea Party, the combined MSM hates them worse.  The thought of freeborn citizens exercising their constitutional rights in a public forum drives all these leftist/socialist/statists CRAZY! So they will need the mud and the garbage assembled by the .org site to create controversial headlines and leading news stories.

At least we all know what’s coming. But let’s not fool ourselves, regardless of how exemplary we act from here on in, don’t be surprised if any of us see ourselves portrayed as racists or some other label with negative connotation attached to it.

My advice — smile and say “Have a nice day.” What we will experience on Nov. 3rd will more than compensate us for having Smearbots hurl the mud, garbage and dreck at us.

The latest installment of the Obama Follies concerns the new Oval office rug. In an attempt to put his mark on the office, our president had an extreme office makeover while he vacationed on Martha’s Vineyard.

As part of Obama’s makeover, he had a new carpet designed that included quotes from five famous Americans: John F. Kennedy,  Abraham Lincoln, Franklin D. Roosevelt, Theodore Roosevelt and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. This replaces the striking sunburst motif design that George W. Bush commissioned during his tenure.

Unfortunately for Obama, the quote attributed to Dr. King is incorrectly attributed to the civil rights leader:

The Arc of the Moral Universe is Long, But it Bends Towards Justice

Dr. King used this phrase on several occasions, but these words were spoken by Theodore Parker, a Revolutionary-era abolitionist and Unitarian minister.

So, now our Oracle of Washington is presented with a dilemma. If he want’s a do-over, White Out won’t do. And there is no amount of repair and replace work that can fix this error. Unlike his treatment of the present unemployment situation, the results can’t be swept under the rug (gratuitous pun intended.)

So, look for another vacation for the Obama’s in the near future to make sure that the Oval Office remains unoccupied long enough to put the new, correct carpet in place.

And while they’re at it, they may want to correctly attribute the quote by Abraham Lincoln:

Government Of The People, By The People And For The People

as being originated by the good Mr. Parker as well. Oh well, it goes along with Mr. Obama and his slipshod administration.  They’re not getting much right these days, so why expect a little historical accuracy on this important carpet?

I have a suggestion for a quote to add to the corrected carpet, by the inimitable Benjamin Franklin, should it ever be replaced:

Take Time For All Things: Great Haste Makes Great Waste.