Bring Out Your Dead
What happens to One of US, affects All of Us
Transistor Embed | Bring Out Your Dead-What Happens to One of Us, Affects Us All.
On Monday, October 26th, 2020, my brother-in-law, whom I have known since I was 8 years old, died from complications from COVID-19 and a heart attack in Odessa, Texas.
He had spent 30 years in the Odessa Fire Department, saving lives. He was a manager of the Pinkie’s Liquor on the corner of 8th St, and Dixie. He was the hardest working man I have ever known. David had saved my sister’s life the moment they met.
Julie and David are the only example of “Love at First Sight” that I have ever witnessed or known, in my 47 years of life.
I have often told the tale of when my mom, my sister, and I had just finished meeting with one arm of our tight circle of born-again hippies. Our disillusioned utopians had gathered to meet the younger brother of a man whom we young ones loved to call ‘Uncle John’, whose unusual height often required him to bend over while indoors, while his long hair and handlebar mustachio gave him the look of an ancient Celtic warrior.
Uncle John’s then 18-year-old, red-headed brother, David McKinnis, was too cool, by far. He displayed an easy “mystery hip vibe” that was instantly popular with all of us “pecking-order-entrenched boys”. By mid-evening, there had budded several “I always wanted a brother” sprouts within a couple secret boy hearts. John’s love, Bert, had made room for David in case he chose to stay for a time.
I had gotten into the back seat of the car, impatiently, and anxious to go home, when my mother turned to Julie asking, “Well? What did you think?”
My sister did not hesitate, turning directly toward my mother, Julie’s eyes level with hers. Since that is West Texan signaling for “pay attention”, I sensed something about to happen.
“I’m gonna marry that man.”
She said it so, “matter of fact-ly”, that I found myself exclaiming, “What?!? You’re only 14 years old!”, to which they, reminded me, that I, was only 8 years old, and what did I know, anyway?
I had decided right there and then, to put this, this David McKinnis, to the test.
Was he, a “barely out of teenage-hood”, ‘dude’ worthy of that kind of dedication? I thought.
At first sight?
I proceeded to launch into the planning phases of my impromptu semi-purposeful campaign of protective spying, ‘accidentally’ exposing, and “unintentional’ rooting out of all the possible dark corners any teenagers might happen upon. I was sure no one wanted any accidental “creeping off’, you know, to *shudder* ‘go neckin’!
I was soon admiring my own special knack of near heaven-inspired ability to be anywhere a pair of “David Lips” might breach the safety perimeter of Julie’s face, which, for me, was about “three closed adult fists between lips”. In other words, I was an ever-present, always watching, or at any moment, space-invading, lemur-like boy wonder guardian of my sister’s virtue and honor.
David often recalled that time fondly for the rest of our days together, by throwing his arms over his head, like a chimp, and squealing, “I’m gonna tell, I’m gonna tell!”, in sincere appreciation of the dedication I threw into the sacred duty.
Over the years he gave me many a nickname. His ‘go to’ favorite amongst them all, was “Pest-a-bule”.
I was raised by my mother; my parents having separated when I was twelve. Julie is eight years older, and one of two half-sisters of mine that are both eight years older than me, one attached to each parent.
DaLisa, however, didn’t really make an appearance in my life until around 2005 or so, after she had escaped daringly from her Lakota Sioux husband, where they lived in a remote part of South Dakota, and where he had terrorized, beat up, and isolated her for decades.
In many ways, DaLisa is still running to or from something. DaLisa has a knack for ‘going to ground’, understandably, so we haven’t spoken in many years.
I would learn later, when I was seventeen, about the horrific abuse Julie had suffered at the hands of my absent father, her stepdad. Another tradition, particular to my tribe, had been regular, often loud late night hominid vocalizations. That was our way of signaling any within earshot to listen in, and could not technically fall under the term “eavesdropping”, especially since they were in the living room, and I was on the other end of the house.
She married at 17 to escape the abuse. David saved my sister. David saved my sister, then spent the next 38 years being my only example of what manhood might be, as I stumbled through the years, arriving at my current location in the San Francisco Bay area. He spent 38 rewarding years of marriage with my sister. He never hesitated to help someone or do what was right by people.
Not only did David, ever the strong, silent type, champion their son, Sean McKinnis, who had been born with the family curse of Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy, he was at every single Jerry’s Kids Fundraiser, as a volunteer, or presenter. When their Sean died a week before his 21st birthday, David was the one who brought my sister back from the brink of darkness.
I must admit, this is hard to write.
I don’t normally cry. A fact that contributes to my children’s challenges expressing emotions to this very day, yet my ears are ringing, while hot, wet tears cover my typing hands.
I have been putting off drafting this article since Monday night. All I could manage to get done then were the headers! I kept finding other things to do. To avoid thinking of what was now lost to me, to us. Anything to put off thinking about who was lost to us, specifically.
My grandfather had gone on to the unknown by the time I was eighteen. Alfred Paschal Brown, the once Mayor of Odessa, best friend of Pat Garrett, Jr., 33rd degree Freemason, flight instructor, and WWII hero. He was not thrilled by the event, even surrounded by all his family. My father passed in February 2011. A biker hippie turned evangelical, who eventually had an apocalyptic cult in the Ozarks of Arkansas that he had once tried to make me the lynch pin of.
Humorously, since laughter is a balm, there has been the tale of an entire tractor trailer buried, up in those hills, full of supplies for the End of Days. Its location passed from knowledge with my father’s last breath.
Although my dad was a tortured, troubled soul, who had more than double his share of life difficulties, cramping his ability to maintain any close relationship, the thought of some future digger potentially finding a trailer stocked for God’s Army, during the Tribulation, does make me smile. It always amazes me the extent of effort sons and daughters will go to, to hang on to any good memories that balance the bad. Despite him and me never really connecting in any intimate or personal way that resembled anything like a ‘normal’ relationship, whatever that is, I always have striven to be available for my own sons, like I had always wanted him to be for me, yet he was not.
We rescued him in 2010 from a mother and son team. They scooped him up from a church service. Their M.O. was to lock him in a room, keep his meds away from him and they had him sign over authorizations to cash his social security and personal checks, even after his death.
He was deep into dementia when we rescued him from his captors, just before I left for my first Burning Man. He never did recognize me prior to passing the following year.
Now, the last of the men in my life, the rock solid, strong as heck, and practical, dependable Goliath of a David is gone.
His absence in the world is sad enough, however, this article would have been much different IF, the doctor had not refused to put COVID-19 down on David’s death certificate, along with the heart attack, as the cause of death.
Oh, but the plot thickens!
He had tested positive a week before, then self-quarantined. After three days, the swings of the fever, the constant coughing, had laid the big man out! At the time, I only knew of mild symptoms. The rest of the week, he got worse. By Monday morning, though, his fever had broken. My mom called around to tell everyone that he was out of the woods, that it looked as though David was going to be fine.
He ate a grilled cheese comfort sandwich, attempted a shower, but got out after a minute. He went to his favorite chair, where my sister helped him flop down. He looked at Julie, then, his eyes wide, looked at the wall, then he abruptly died.
Julie is a champion. Always has been.
She called 911. She pulled him onto the floor, a feat in and of itself, then began CPR. My mom lives a few miles away, getting to Julie’s home shortly after Julie called her. Mom went over there, arriving when the paramedics did. Julie updated our mother, then went to check on him.
Gone from certainty, and beyond where we can know him in this life again.
Last night, Julie informed me that she and the coroner had spent the day trying to get his body released. All the doctors who had been treating him, who had written his prescriptions, had come down with their own sudden cases of amnesia, not knowing who David was, or even recognized his name?
Political dementia had descended on the medical offices of the town. They had no idea who David McKinnis was. What in the…?
The one thing you don’t do, is get Julie on an old-fashioned tear. Republican Odessa has no idea what they have just done.
Politics is THE one thing, other than black gold, which has a deep, long, and “storied” historical tradition in Odessa. George H. Bush and Barbara grew their dynasty 20 miles from my home, in Midland, Texas. My English teacher, Dr. LeMasters, who was constantly advising me to go into radio, babysat the Bush boys when he was young.
People in my hometown tend to either be your best friend, or your worst enemy. There isn’t much room for “grey area”. Odessa is somehow “plugged in” to the wider world, in surprising ways, through its isolation bubble. However, you can bet that the plug to that world is red through and through. The world ought to be, at its heart, in the view of Odessa, Republican.
Republican or not, you don’t mess with a woman grieving over the death of her heroic husband.
His body is still sitting on a cold metal table, bagged, at this very moment, because they don’t want to put to paper that “that COVID-19” was the main contributor to weakening his heart, it would seem.(*update at the end)
Why? Will it help get Trump elected? Because the pandemic is all fake? Really? Is that really where the United States is at? Very well. I accept it!
Then Donald Trump is responsible for the death of David. Not only David, but every single life lost because of his administration. The Democrats who attempt to use their “words”, rather than take action to protect lives are responsible, too. Their wealthy donor class, with the fancy health care and special presidential treatments. The governors who opened everything up too early. Politics is to blame for David’s early, avoidable death!
And that isn’t all.
I blame the beach party animals. The neighbors who party every week, who have never worn masks, while they point, then make fun of us wearing masks. The blissfully and maliciously ignorant are to blame for David’s death!
The pastor, whom I do like, who, nevertheless, recently confided in me that this is all a hoax, and proudly puts on a MAGA hat, going about daring anyone to challenge him. Evangelical Christianity, hypocrisy hidden in a supremely blind spot, is to blame for the death of David!
The prison guard I know, who believes that the minorities in prison have smaller brains, and are, therefore, less intelligent. Everyone who did not take this pandemic serious. The Vice President who is still campaigning as an “essential” worker while his staff is infected, while regular “essential workers” are forced to work long hours and have their vacations denied. All of these are responsible for David’s death!
Everyone who has their eyes wide shut to the fact that we have “leaders” who announce the crimes they are planning to do, by claiming the other side is doing it already. Every single apathetic American, still convinced our system isn’t one big show, to keep everyone mollified, unresistant, confused, suspicious of each other, unseeing or unable to recognize the coup that happened long ago, behind the scenes. Soon after the apparent coup, smart, wealthy folk figured out that they didn’t have to be the target, to pull the strings of society.
You wealthy are to blame for David’s death! You, who have existed in a level of wealth, privilege, and aloof separation, for so long, that an argument may be made that aristocracy has been in the United States under different names from its founding!
This highly stylized, autocratic means of separating the “consumers”, from the “consumed” is less and less concerned with appearances. Can you guess who’s who in this structured “illusion of participatory”, post-democratic neo-feudalism?
You self-delusional, corporate collective, illusion enabling, self-serving sycophants, attorneys, celebrities, techies, media giants, sports managers, VC’s, actors, authors, hosts, and wanna be influencers, you are to blame for David’s death!
Hell, if you really want to get to the root of exactly where we went wrong, then consider why it was that no U.S. citizens challenged the government that dropped nuclear bombs on Nagasaki and Hiroshima: the single most egregious crime humanity has ever, in all recorded history, committed against itself! The Truman Administration is responsible for David’s death!
Why didn’t they drop a bomb off the coast, then ask the Japanese army, “Did you see that explosion? If you do not surrender, we might be forced to drop another on your military.”
Instead, they took it upon themselves to drag our grandparents along, as weary, trusting accomplices, to the worst murder of non-combatants in all recorded human history, without asking any of them first, as they ought to have. The U.S. then whirled around, to point that same arsenal at the rest of the world, while asking, wild eyed, “We are still the good guys, right?” The Greatest Generation, the Boomers, are responsible for David’s death!
No wonder our society has battered spouse syndrome!
After Eisenhower warned against the military industrial complex in his farewell speech, the American public collectively said, “Huh, weird. I wonder why he said that?”, while continuing to go to work without a revolution, because they were showered with benefits and jobs, with time and money to afford entertainment and leisure, with increased sports, and introduced television. Our modern “bread and circus” gladiatorial rings were at the end of a remote. New Rome had arrived!
There was a book, highlighted on NPR last year, which detailed how our government had owned a Swiss encryption company since 1945. The CIA and the West German BND intelligence service had “ears” in most every government’s secret communications — of adversaries and allies, alike. We learned that the CIA may have continued this surveillance until 2018, after even the Germans decided it didn’t feel as “O.K.” as it once had and left the partnership in the early 1990s.
So, did we fire all of those involved in the blatant betrayal of our allies? Did we start hearings? Did anyone get taken straight to trial? Did we hold anyone to account for the many, many horrors committed since WWII, that our government knew about, many of which they knew were planned, prior to the tragedy occurring, and our government had the opportunity to intervene, but IT DIDN’T. The entire news media, contributing to keeping the status quo on some level, which is too much of any level, is to blame for David’s death!
We are too busy working to notice how the world’s regard had shifted. The victim was reconsidering the situation. “The Great Satan” moniker for us might be more appropriate than we’d thought, although some few might have noticed, boiling as we are in our slow cook illusions! The American people are responsible for David’s death!
Why did we not, all of us, as one people, one nation, under whatever God you do or don’t worship, become indivisible? United? Why haven’t we shown ourselves enough love to NOT kill each other in the most passive aggressive, non-committal way ever witnessed by any civilization that has ever existed? Western Civilization is responsible for David’s death!
The strongest man I ever knew personally, after a week of up and down fevers, long coughing fits, of a grinding virus infection, finally had weakened to a point none of us had ever seen. David could barely walk. David had reached the point where his hero’s heart, that heart that had thumped strongly, for so many, for so exceptionally long, at last, that heart gave out.
His heart through one thing he put into everything that he did, our David McKinnis, he did that for the Odessa Fire Dept! For thirty years he saved lives, ran into burning buildings, put out fires, dedicated everything he was to the service of his community, his children, and his amazing cooking skills, but his heart would not have given out yet, if it had not first been weakened, by COVID-19!
He would not have gotten COVID-19, if the co-worker he contracted it from had been tested for COVID-19 when she went to her doctor’s office, specifically to be tested, but instead was told she had a sinus issue and was sent away. None of them might have contracted COVID-19 if they and those around them had been wearing masks, as they should have been to prevent the spread of droplets and aerosolized spray from potentially infected individuals! Odessa is responsible for David’s death!
You see, my family and I have had an incredibly challenging four years. We could not even mention politics. When we drove to Texas to visit in the summer of 2018, I could not believe my eyes! Every single business had a television in it. Every single television was turned, exclusively, to FOX News. Fox News is responsible for David’s death!
This last 6 months had been like my family was on a different planet with completely different facts, and ideas. We had always had a vigorous society and politics discussion in my family, but this was altogether different! My Family is responsible for David’s death!
One time, when I offered counter evidence and was citing sources, my mother began shouting over the phone, “Group think! Group Think!!”, to which I asked, incredulous, “Did you seriously just ‘group think” me, like we were on the playground in third grade??”. Mom then informed me that we were all brainwashed here in California, and promptly hung up!
I have stopped speaking to friends who said that because I was not a Republican, nor a Trump supporter, then I was destined for hell fire because I was allied with Satan and the Democrats, who are trying to destroy the United States.
I have had fellow Marine veterans try to tell me that the only solution was the coming Civil War II. I had challenged those veteran Marines for their use of their “title” to give their theories and their opinions the unwarranted air of some quasi-official knowledge, and was soon ostracized. I am responsible for David’ death!
The simple root cause of any misunderstanding, challenge, accident, injury, bank overdraw, and conflict IS, POOR COMMUNICATIONS. Every unnecessary death in this pandemic is a result of poor communication practices both internally, and externally.
I can guarantee, no communication will ever occur successfully, if all of us cannot agree on at least one single truth, to default to, when we miscommunicate from within our context. If we want to begin talking again, then we will want to be sure of what is being communicated, from a place we can all agree on and understand.
We have built the modern world on a foundation that is made of sand. We are facing many more storms of our own devising. If we cannot unite in the face of our own actions, if the world fails — no, I am not responsible for the world; I am responsible for myself.
If I fail to stand fully on Truth, and accept myself as I am, how can I ever hope to see others, or accept them as they are, or see what is really going on around me?
If I cannot see myself clearly, when looking at all that is around me, calm in the knowledge that I can see and know who, or what they are, then how can I ever hope to find any kind of peace or contentment in any part of life? How will my boys have someone they can see doing the right thing, like I saw David?
Who else will care to do it? I am to blame for my own life situations. The responsibility is mine alone. That is the first thing I must focus on. David’s death did not have to happen now, but his death did have to happen eventually.
Did he accept himself and his mortality?
We can never know for certain.
What can we do in this age? What will we become?
We can look at his actions, and his actions, they speak louder than my own, or anyone else’s words, the world over.
As Camus said in The Plague, “Everybody knows that pestilences have a way of recurring in the world, yet somehow we find it hard to believe in ones that crash down on our heads from a blue sky. There have been as many plagues as wars in history, yet always plagues and wars take people equally by surprise.”
David is dead, let’s make his, and all the deaths before us worth the effort of life, and let’s start talking, and living again!
What happens to one, affects us all, eventually.
- *UPDATE 10/30/20- Julie was able to have some calls made by someone up in the OFD who got David’s body released and someone at the hospital assured her nothing like this would happen to anyone in the future. Kudos for that. She got a couple of calls from Odessa fire fighters saying that David had done so much, more than could ever be repaid, and asking if she would allow them to help her in this. Thank you to them for knowing when it was important to step in and step up.
- **That does not invalidate all that was pointed to. I know that if we had locked down just a little longer, and stressed prevention rather than politicizing EVERYTHING, while muddying any hope of seeing things clearly with clouds of “fake news”, then David would have had a better chance of survival.
- ***Endorsed and approved by Julie McKinnis and Jo Edith Brown.
Thank you, Mom and Sissy, David always protected the family. It warms my heart to see that he is still!
Adrian ‘Yobi’ Paschal Blumberg
Pilgrim | Listener | A Son of the Man | Twice Lost | Almost Found
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