Internet Scam

      It all started when I decided to sell my prized 2001 Chrysler PT Cruiser. The old horse had served me well for three years as a driver to school, but after Shirley and I retired, our need for an extra mode of transportation diminished somewhat. Actually, that’s only partially true; the main reason I decided to sell it was so I could buy another car and sell it…and then buy another car and…well, you get the picture. It’s just hard to get all the gasoline out your blood when you’ve made a living for a few years selling cars, even if it’s been a few years ago.
     Since we are living in a (for us) new area, I wasn’t aware of any local newspapers to advertise in, so I decided to place an ad with I took the usual pictures, wrote a glowing description of the vehicle, emailed the ad in, and sat back to await the phone to ring or my Yahoo email box to fill up.
     A week went by. No phone calls. No emails. Nada. I reduced the price a bit, but still not a single contact…until yesterday. Now, here is my routine every morning since I have retired: I awake at By I am bicycling briskly around the neighborhood in a rectangular route for exactly 3.2 miles. I then park my bike, and begin running a circuit which covers about 1.5 miles. I then come back into the house, cool down a bit, and have a light breakfast of dry wheat toast, fat free jelly, and black coffee. Afterward, I kick on the Wii Fit hardware and shadow box and jog in place for 30 minutes. A quick shower follows these exercises, after which I settle down with the Houston Chronicle to keep track of all the local murders, robberies, and political scandals. I finish my morning with some time on the computer as I check my friends on FaceBook and monitor my blog.
     If you have just read the previous paragraph and believed what you read, boy, do I have a car deal for you! The truth is, I get up, read the paper, eat two Pop Tarts with a big glass of milk, and that’s my morning. The previous paragraph sounds good, however, and sometimes we writers describe things with a little…um…flourish. We call it artistic license.
     Anyway, on this particular morning when I opened my Yahoo email, there was a message about my car. It was very brief and said he/she was very excited about the car, and would I please send them some photos and the price. Well, that seemed a little strange, since the only place my car is advertised is with Autotrader, and the ad has photos, description, and price. But, thinking happy thoughts, I sent all the car info to the email address. Within ten minutes I had a response. To wit:
     “Thanks for your email. The car is good. I’m ready to buy it immediately. I will be paying through PayPal. All I need is your email address, name and address, so I can arrange payment and pickup.” He went on to say that he could not talk to me directly because he was a sailor, and he would have an agent pick up the car. Well, I have used PayPal often to pay for items through eBay, but never in an independent sale, so I emailed him back saying I would check with PayPal to confirm the procedures. He said no problem and would await my instructions. I emailed a question to PayPal about the transaction, and, sure enough, a person can use PayPal for practically anything now days, including independent car deals. All I needed to give the buyer was my email address, and he could deposit payment directly into my PayPal account. PayPal said I didn’t even need to give him my name and address until the funds were deposited in my account and we were ready to arrange pickup of the car. PayPal gave me one bit of advice: if I received a PayPal email confirming that funds had been deposited in my account, do not believe it…confirm it. There had been incidences of fake but official-looking PayPal notices of fund deposits being sent to unsuspecting sellers.
     I emailed my buyer the PayPal procedures, and he responded, “I’ll make the deposit as soon as possible.” And sure enough, about an hour later, I received an email from confirming deposit of all funds….even the funds for the shipping charges. The shipping charges amounted to $735.00, which in my vast experience with automobiles tells me the car was going to be shipped about 1300 miles away from Houston. That seemed a little strange, also, since although I love my little PT Cruiser, if I wanted to buy one, I would not need to have one shipped to me. I’d just go down to the nearest car lot. PT Cruisers are not exactly a rare breed.
     So, I did what PayPal (God bless ‘em) suggested I do. I went on line to confirm the money, and, sure enough, no money. So then I stopped to read all the fine print in this two page “official” PayPal email. Here’s what it told me I had to do “prior to confirmation of full funding.” Since the funds allegedly coming to me included the shipping charges, I had to send a Western Union money order to the shipper for payment of shipping charges. When the shipper received the money order, the funds for the car would be released into my PayPal account. The person to whom I was to send the money was an individual who lived on a highway on the outskirts of Flowery Branch, Georgia (no doubt a major trucking terminal.)
     So the scam is the poor victim, namely me, is supposed to send $735.00 in certified, non-recoverable funds to this address in Georgia and then wait for the deposit into his PayPal account, which of course never happens. Instead, I emailed my “buyer” and told him that if you can PayPal payment to one person, you can do it to two, namely me and the shipper. Send me my money and send the shipper his, and we’ll all be happy. That was the last I heard of my hot-to-buy sailor. I didn't sell my car, but I didn't lose $735.00, either. I contacted PayPal and sent them all the information and copies of the emails. I do have a name and address in Georgia, but it’s probably an empty mobile home. I wonder how often people like this are successful in scamming a victim. At $735.00 a scam, it wouldn’t take long to make some real good money. I know that on eBay thousands of cars are sold every year to buyers who do not see their vehicles before they are delivered to their doorsteps, but when someone tells me he’ll buy my car sight unseen with no price negotiation, my old used car salesman instincts rise up. Car salesmen (and there are many honest ones) will tell you that there is only one group of people who can lie even more boldly than car salesmen…and that’s car buyers.
     One more thing. If you need a good, economical, sporty, stylish car that’s priced right and dependable as a mother’s love….I have a car for you! There I go again.

The Visit

     It was the during the early hours of a spring morning in May, 2008.  I awoke from the sound of a slight bump in the darkness. It was well after 3:00 a.m., and not a normal time for one to be hearing noises in a home. I lay there listening for a couple of minutes, and I again heard the sound which seemed to be coming from the living room or kitchen. Sliding quietly out of bed, I slipped on my robe and began to ease gently and vigilantly toward the source of the bumps. My wife was sleeping soundly, and as I passed our daughter’s room, all seems normal there, also. Although the lights were off throughout the house, the bright, nearly full moon outside cast a dim pale into the rooms, and I was able to ease along comfortably. I slipped through the living room, peeked into my den as I passed by, and walked into the kitchen. Nothing. For a few seconds I stood there just listening, and while doing so, I noticed a shadow move across the kitchen window overlooking the back yard. I walked to the back door, opened it carefully, and walked out onto my deck.
     There I observed a man sitting quietly in one of our deck chairs. He seemed to be looking over the back yard, as if inspecting the premises. Our back yard was spacious, with large cottonwood, pine, fruit trees and foliage. The moon bathed the area with light, and a slight breeze was blowing. It was a beautiful pre-dawn morning with the temperature on the cool side, but very refreshing. The man sitting in the chair was my father.
     Dad looked as I remembered him: short sleeve sport shirt, casual pants, and a baseball cap of some sort. Strangely, although it had been seventeen years since he passed away, I wasn’t alarmed or surprised when I recognized who he was; I just sat down in a chair next to him and said, “Hi, Dad.”
     “Hi, Bob,” Dad said, and then after a few more words of greeting, he finished with “I just wanted to come by and see how things were going.”
     In May of 2008 I was still recovering from heart surgery two months previously. I was becoming stronger, but still had a long way to go to full strength. I had been away from my classroom nearly 10 weeks, and, with the school year ending in June, I was anxious to get back to my school to wrap up the year. At the same time, unfortunately,  my recovery was not proceeding as smoothly as scheduled, and I continued to gain strength at a frustratingly slow pace. I did not know at that moment that in just four more months I would be diagnosed with leukemia and undergo months of chemotherapy. Shirley and I had begun to contemplate retirement, yet we were unsure how my illness would affect our plans for the future. Additionally, Shirley and Kimberly both wanted to move away from Baytown upon our retirements, and I was having difficulty envisioning our leaving a home which had housed a Downing family for fifty-five years. I described all these concerns to Dad in probably greater detail that I am describing here, and once I had finished, he said simply, “It will all work out, Bob. By the way, how are the kids?”
     I proudly described to him how Kimberly was living with us while she continued her college education but was now working for Memorial Hermann Hospital System and being very successful. I added that Bobby had been very successful with Hewlett-Packard, and he and Shanna had by then been married nineteen years and had two beautiful children, our prized grandson and granddaughter. “I wish you could meet your great grandchildren…you would be so proud,” I told him. We continued for almost an hour discussing events that had occurred in our family over the last few years. I even described all the remodeling I had done to the inside of the old Downing home, and yet it never occurred to me to invite him inside to see the improvements. Later, I realized we had never mentioned Mother, who died in 2004, and, considering the fact that he had passed away on December 31, 1990, it never occurred to me to ask him where he had been or how he found himself on my backyard deck at 3:00 in the morning. Eventually, he observed that it would be getting light soon, and he had better be going, and I agreed that I should be getting back inside. It was all strangely very calm, as if I visited with him every day. “Remember, Bob,” he said, “everything will be all right.”  He was still sitting in the deck chair as I stood up, stepped back into the house, and made my way quietly back to the bedroom. I slipped under the covers….and woke up.
     I lay there for a couple of minutes wondering what had just happened. Did I have a dream? I had just had a conversation with my father, but Dad had passed away seventeen years earlier. Yet the experience seemed so incredibly real that I got out of bed, threw on my robe, went back into the kitchen and through the back door onto the deck, half expecting to see Dad still sitting there. There was nothing but the moonlight, trees, and the cool breeze exactly as I had seen it before. I stood there, listening for a sound and earnestly wishing he would reappear. "Dad?" I whispered...hoping he would respond.  I had so many questions to ask him that had not occurred to me earlier. Finally, after waiting several minutes, I went back to bed, still confused and pondering what I had experienced.
     I told Shirley about my “dream” the next morning but did not go into great detail, and we didn’t spend much time discussing it. I still ponder the experience from time to time and especially around his birthdate and even more so now that we are enjoying retirement. In the summer of 2008 I was diagnosed with leukemia and went through a series of chemotherapy treatments at M.D. Anderson Cancer Clinic. In March of 2009 I had surgery to remove a cancerous melanoma. In April we put the old Downing home up for sale, and it sold in a week for full price. We moved to a new area close to the kids and grandkids and are thoroughly enjoying our free time. We have discovered a church with amazing new friends.  My health problems and our transition period settled down after a few months, and today our lives are just as good as those earlier traumatic days were bad.  We've had other bumps along the road, but none to match the challenges of 2008-2009. 
     The Bible discusses our lives after our natural deaths, and I have heard many opinions about what happens to us after we take our final breath. I have firm beliefs concerning the eventual return of Jesus Christ to Earth and the Judgment Day, but what happens from the moment of our last breath until those particular events is a little cloudy. Biblical terms for the hereafter, such as “paradise,” “Abraham’s bosom,” “third heaven,” and “sleep,” are bandied about by biblical scholars without too much real clarity on the subject. Neither do I claim any express authority concerning what happens when we pass on or where we go at the moment of death. But this I am certain, whether it was a dream, an apparition, or an actuality, when I approached the most traumatic period I have ever experienced in my life here on earth, the person who exercised the greatest influence on my life and whose concern and love for me never wavered throughout his life somehow reached out from the unknown and offered one more word of encouragement to a son who needed every ounce of strength to survive a major life crisis.  Still miss you, Dad.

In Memory of September 11, 2001

     The year was 1987, and Congress was holding hearings investigating the alleged shenanigans of the Ronald Reagan administration concerning the Iran-Contra affair.  Congress had called Lt. Colonel Oliver North to be a witness at the hearings in an attempt to determine if he had any involvement in the events which had led to the hearings being called by Congress. The senator who was questioning Colonel North was attempting to squeeze from the colonel an admission of excessive expenditures that would seem to be beyond the means of a midlevel officer in the military. The senator, after spotting one item on the colonel’s financial record, begin to interrogate: “Did you not recently spend close to $60,000.00 for a security system for your home?”
     The colonel replied, “Yes, I did.”
     Trying to get a laugh from the audience, the senator retorted, “Don’t you think that amount of money is just a LITTLE excessive?”
     "No, I do not,” replied the colonel, “because the lives of my family and me were threatened.”
     “Threatened? By whom?” questioned the senator.
     “By a terrorist, Sir.”
     “Terrorist? What terrorist could possibly scare you that much?”
     “His name is Osama bin Laden,” replied Colonel North.
     The senator tried to repeat the name, but stumbled a couple of times, causing some laughter in the audience.  Then the senator continued, “Why are you so worried about this man?”
     “Because, Sir, he is the most evil person alive that I know of.”
     “And what do you recommend we do about him?” pressed the senator.
     “Well, Sir, if it were up to me, I would recommend that an assassination team be formed to eliminate him and his men from the face of the earth.”
     The senator expressed his profound offense at such a suggestion, then dropped his line of questioning and moved to other matters.  The questioner was Tennessee Senator Al Gore, who later became Vice President alongside President Bill Clinton.
     In 1986, a year before the Iran-Contra hearings on Capitol Hill, a terrorist blew up a bus in Israel, killing several Israelis.  The Israelis tracked him down, captured him, and imprisoned him for life.  Fast forward to 1993, the American President, Bill Clinton, who was attempting to negotiate an Israeli-Palestinian peace treaty, pressured Israel to release all political prisoners.  Israel resisted, claiming that the imprisoned terrorist had committed mass murder and should not be released.  Clinton’s Secretary of State, Warren Christopher, “insisted’ that all prisoners be released, and Israel reluctantly acquiesced. Thus the terrorist was released, and on September 11, 2001, the terrorist, Mohammad Atta, flew a commercial aircraft into Tower One of the World Trade Center.
     Today, Osama bin Ladin is gone, but we continue to hear cries to release or to transfer the terrorists being held at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, because they have “rights."  Those who helped capture and interrogate the terrorists are being criticized and threaten with criminal charges for their actions.  It is interesting to note that of the detainees who  have been released through negotiations, 28 percent are known to have returned to their terrorist organizations and resumed their criminal activities.  You have to wonder…when the time comes that all the terrorists are transferred out of their prison cells, which prisoners who were or are now at Guantanamo Bay will come back to do damage to the United States of America?  Additionally, which governmental official will we look to and know that he was the one who was instrumental in unleashing more terrorists on our land?  In times past, prisoners of war were never released until the armed conflict was over and peace was reestablished.  The war on terror is far from over.

The Epiphany

      If you have read some of the essays in this blog, you will have correctly determined that attending church is a regular duty in my schedule of events, and I am privileged to be able to call myself a Christian and, more specifically, a Pentecostal. If you have read further, you will know how I feel about contemporary “Christian” music and about my current church which my wife and I have attended for the past four months. I put the term “Christian” within quotation marks because in referring to music, it is “Christian” only within the context of the words being sung, not within the sound, rhythm, or instruments with which it is presented. Disregarding the words and grooving with eyes closed to just the music, a listener would swear he was at a rock concert at the Toyota Center or, in extreme cases, at Joe’s Bar and Grill. But I digress…this essay is not another rant about the music. Well, mostly not, anyway.
     My current pastor recently demonstrated why he has won my heart and loyalty in such a brief time. His sermon concerning drifting away from the church was such an impassioned plea of concern that it would have taken a truly unconcerned soul not to have been touched by it. I have been told by pastors of the past how they cared for their churches and the members thereof, but this time I actually believe it. The reason I believe it is his actions follow his statements. I have seen his concern demonstrated to various members of our congregation in the short time we have been members, and I have confidence that when my time of need comes, he will be there to offer whatever spiritual support I need. If you are in need of a caring church with a supportive pastor, let me offer this address.
     I awoke the day after his sermon at 5:00 a.m. and could not get back to sleep. There were two events which occurred in our church service the previous night which I could not get out of my mind and which left me with a feeling of urgency and maybe a little depression when I finally arose about 8:00 a.m.
     My pastor is an old, old man of sixty years. Well, that’s the way he kind of feels about it. Being about ten years his senior, I could tell him a thing or two about aging, but at the same time, my heart goes out to him, because it’s in the fifties when a person…okay, a man, anyway….begins to feel his mortality. In my fifties I began to realize that I couldn’t do the things I did when I was even in my forties. At the same time, just like in the case with my pastor, I began to see my parents decline physically before my very eyes, and there was nothing I could do for them. And seeing them decline reminded me that what I saw happening to them was reserved for me, also, just a few years hence. It is an experience reserved for every living creature, a cycle of life that began with creation.
     Anyway, my pastor, now in his Golden Years, was recently tapped on the shoulder by the national leadership of the United Pentecostal Church, International, to be a mentor to young, aspiring ministers and to offer them guidance and encouragement while they are gaining experience in their maturation as ministers and pastors. As he was mentioning this to us in the introduction to his sermon last night, he threw out a statistic that made alarm bells go off in my mind. I had heard similar statistics from other church organizations, but I guess since I am somewhat focused on Pentecostal affairs, they had never caused me much concern. His statement was simply this: Within the United Pentecostal Church organization, eighty percent of the licensed ministers are above the age of 45 with only twenty percent under that age.
     Taking that statistic and projecting into the future, the prognosis for the church appears bleak. In another twenty years, when the current crop of seasoned, experienced ministers begins to slip into retirement, the church will face a critical shortage of spiritual leaders. Could the UPC be faced with the same situation many religious organizations are already facing? That is, local church congregations with no spiritual leaders? The prospect is frightening, because within Pentecostal organizations, the pastor is more than just a hired manager, he is placed in his position with a certain amount of divine guidance; even though the local congregation does vote on his selection, the prayer is always that God will guide the wisdom of the local voters to make the right decision. But just as the Children of Israel in the Old Testament made wrong decisions in the desire for a leader, local congregations in the future may feel forced due to limited choices to make leaderships decisions which could prove to be unwise and destructive. There will always be plenty of zealots who claim to be ministers from God who are just charlatans with their own agendas, but if there is a shortage of sincere ministers who aspire to lead a local flock in accordance with God’s guidance, the results will be traumatic. I fear for my children and grandchildren.
     There is one solution, and in the context of the situation, perhaps the upcoming ministerial shortage is but another sign that this solution is the only possible outcome. Should the church be (in biblical terms) caught away or caught up…i.e. taken out of this world or raptured…during the Second Return of Jesus Christ as taught in the scriptures, then the predicted shortage will never occur. You have to wonder…do we not have to worry about a shortage of ministers in 25 years because….we won’t be needing them anyway?
     The second event that occurred in our church service last night was probably not even noticed by the majority of the congregation. During his sermon about drifting away from the church, our pastor used the analogy of a drifting boat and an anchor that would not hold the boat in position. He then asked us to sing the old hymnal “I’ve Anchored My Soul in the Haven of Rest.” I knew there would be many in the audience who would not know the song, but I was stunned when I began to realize that neither did the musicians know how to play it! Our primary musicians are in their mid twenties and have grown up in the church…and they did not know the song. At that moment I had a most distressing epiphany and came to the conclusion that the old songs are officially lost to history. That common thread that bound a congregation together regardless of position or musical skill and created an atmosphere of great spiritual consecration…namely, congregational singing of the spiritual classics…was gone forever. I am convinced the loss of this common thread is a contributing factor to our shortage of young ministers. Young men and women are not called to the ministry by dancing to the crashing sounds of drums, thumping bass guitars, and wailing keyboards. It is in the spiritual depth and quietness of a simple song of worship that the still, small voice of the Master is able to speak and call the soul to higher service.
     After the congregation had gathered around the altars at the front of our church for a moment of final consecration and the dismissal had been given, my wife told me,“I wanted to go up there and play that song so bad!” I thought to myself that she and my mother-in-law who was in attendance were probably the only two people in the church who could play “I’ve Anchored My Soul in the Haven of Rest” on the piano from memory. How tragic.

A Day in the Life of Student 555-272-0894 in the year 2029

5:30 a.m…The alarm gently nudges the hand of Student 555-272-0894, awakening him to the rigors of another day. Knowing that his future in his Assigned Profession is dependent upon his performing at certain minimum levels of expectation, he quickly rises from slumber and slips on his school uniform and prepares for school. He is anxious to get to school because breakfast is there. Breakfast is a closely regulated ritual with each student’s diet closely monitored based on his/her physiology and metabolic requirements in order to stay within the weight limits required for Optimum Career Success. The stringent physical requirements for Optimum Success are a result of the wholesale failure of U.S. students in the early 2010s, when fifty percent of American students suffered from obesity and related respiratory and heart diseases. Physical activity at that time had degenerated in intensity due to the popularity of computer generated virtual activities, and the lack of caloric consumption coupled with greater food input created havoc with physical conditioning.

6:30 a.m….The School Transportation Module arrives, and as the student enters the vehicle, the Identity Verifier greets him in its monotone synthetic voice, reads the imprinted number implanted in the top of his hand, and prepares a review of the previous day’s studies on the vehicle’s student-specific Assignment Reinforcement Program.

7:00 a.m….Student 555-272-0894 leaves the Transmodule and is whisked into the Energy Accessorium via the conveyor-walk. There he sees his first fellow human, the Energy Dispensation Manager, dutifully handing out the energy packets in accordance with federal guidelines. Before he is given his food, he steps on a scale to determine his weight this morning and finds to his dismay that he has gained eight ounces above the Federal Acceptable Maturation and Mass Acquisition Standards for ten year old males. The EDM gleefully snatches back one five ounce packet of concentrated energy from his usual allotment of three packets.

7:20 a.m….The conveyor-walk transports him to the Physical Conditioning Area, where he and other early arrivals begin their morning conditioning rituals. He checks his Performance Chart on the large monitor to compare his progress to the rest of his class. Maintaining a success level in the top twenty percent of his class means he need not worry about a dreaded Mandatory Career Reassignment. Career assignments for early childhood began during the teen years of the 21st century when the United States economy came to a standstill due to a crippling lack of professional engineers, technicians, doctors, and mathematicians. The government began offering parents and their children financial stipends and hefty bonuses if children were steered into the professional careers that were in critically short supply. Each child was extensively tested, and if the potential for academic success appeared promising, parents were quick to sign a Professional Commitment Contract with the government. Their financial windfall assured, the parents worked closely with the Federal Emotional Counselor to instill in their child the will to succeed that was above the Federal Minimum Standards of Career Commitment. The parents’ enthusiasm was fueled by the knowledge that should their child be reassigned to a noncritical profession due to lack of commitment and failure to reach Minimum Standards, their financial windfall would have to be returned to the government.

9:00 a.m….From the Physical Conditioning Area, the student moves to the Data Access Area. There he finds his customary Cranial Interface Device, straps it onto his head, lies back in his Data Reception Recliner, and reads the menu for his first assignment. Social Studies is his first Learning Module, so he quietly speaks, “Activate,” and in a few seconds he is in a virtual world in the year 1836, listening to the shouts of General Sam Houston of the Texas Army of the Republic as he leads his men into battle at San Jacinto. Ahead, he sees the Mexican army sleepily awakening into instant panic as Houston’s men take them completely by surprise. The roar of cannon and musketry is deafening, but quickly dispelled with a monotonous voice from the Cranial Interface Device speaking, “End of lesson. State summary of events observed.”

10:00 a.m. -4:00 p.m…With the exception of a lunch period, at which Student 555-272-0894 is weighed again and issued an appropriate level of energy, he continues his work, observing virtual displays of science and natural laws, from walking on the surface of Mars and exploring the American mission there, to traveling through the bloodstream of a human being. He is asked to give his impressions of excerpts of poetry and to display his thoughts using the Cranial Evaluation Monitor. With his thoughts set to print, the CID matter-of-factly announces, “End of session…dismissed.”

5:00 p.m. -7:00 p.m…Aboard the Transmodule, the student arrives at his Assigned Dwelling. On the Virtual Display, his mother greets him, thought she will not be back from her assignment on the moon until next Thursday. Until then, her image will stay with him. He gets his assigned energy rations from the Energy Storage and Allotment Device and waves his hand under the Assignment Reassessment and Review Display. The room flashes with a review of the data presented to the student this school day.

7:00 p.m. -8:30 p.m…Having satisfied the Assignment Reassessment Program that he had retained above the Minimum Acceptable Level of Data Retention for the day, he receives permission from his Virtual Mom to engage the Simulated Personal Interacting Program. He asks the Dwelling Interface Coordinator Module to access the Superman program from the late 20th century. Popping on his own Cranial Interface, he lowers the face screen over his eyes, and for the next thirty minutes he is flying high in the sky as Superman’s right hand man.

8:30 p.m. Too soon, it’s time for bath and bed.

The Dash

"The Dash" originally was an essay written by Alton Maiden, a former Notre Dame student and football player under famed coach Lou Holtz. Coach Holtz first read the composition to his players in 1996 at a team meeting. I have taken the liberty to revise and rewrite the composition as an iambic pentametric poem. It has a very thought-provoking message.

I've seen death’s stare in a way that many cannot know.
I've seen death claim and others take but still left me below.
I've heard the wails of mothers’ cries but death refused to hear.
I've seen a face contort with grief and eyes great wells of tears.

Once death has come and pain has gone a tombstone sits to see.
But it’s no more than a symbol of a person's memory.
I've seen my share of tombstones but took not the time to heed
The meaning behind what is there for everyone to read.

The person's name is clearly shown and the date of birth we see.
Past the dash we read the date the soul met eternity.
The date of birth and the date of death we read in but a flash.
What tells us most about a life is what’s within the dash.

A person’s name, the face, the eyes, in time we cease to see.
Even the dates of birth and death from our recollections flee.
But in the dash, the simple dash, are the memories that last.
The life, the loves, the joys and aches of a soul so quickly passed.

When you begin to chart your life avoid the path most rash.
Your birth and death will quickly dim, but forever lives your