Saturday, March 25, 2017

In 1959 Dad took me to hear something he through was important.



He was right.  Dr. Arthur F. Pillsbury, my father, was a life-long Conservative who understood the problems we still face today with pollution, water, air and land.  Dad was named to the first EPA in 1969.

This is a transcription of this speech made for the convenience of readers and researchers. A copy of the text of this speech exists in the Senate Speech file of the John F. Kennedy Pre-Presidential Papers here at the John F. Kennedy Library.
No change in a fast-changing world presents a greater challenge 2– no problem in a world full of problems calls for greater leadership and vision – than the control of nuclear weapons, the utter destruction which would result from their use in war, and the radioactive pollution of our atmosphere by their continued testing in peace-time.
It is not a simple problem with simple answers. The experts disagree – the evidence is in conflict – the obstacles to an international solution are large and many. But the issue of nuclear tests and their effects is one which should be discussed in the coming months – not as a purely partisan matter, but as one of the great issues on the American scene.
It was well, therefore, that this issue was raised last Sunday in a constructive way by the Governor of New York. His statement contributed to the dialogue on this basic issue – it represented the position of a leading figure in the Republican Party – and he did not attempt to evade the question. So I commend Governor Rockefeller for stating his views, and I hope they will be considered and debated by interested citizens everywhere.
But I must also express my own emphatic disagreement with his statement, which called for this country to resume nuclear test explosions. Such a proposal, it seems to me, is unwise when it is suggested just prior to the reopening of negotiations with the British and Russians at Geneva on this very question. It is damaging to the American image abroad at a time when the Russians have unilaterally suspended their testing and the peoples of the world are fearful of continued fall-out.  And, while Mr. Rockefeller did suggest that the testing take place underground to prevent fall-out, he also – according to press reports – “discounted” the harmful effects of fall-out – which I am unwilling to do.
While many competent scientists agree that there has been no great harm done to mankind as a whole from the amount of radiation created by bomb tests so far, it is also true that there is no amount of radiation so small that it has no ill effects at all on anybody. There is actually no such thing as a minimum permissible dose. Perhaps we are talking about only a very small number of individual tragedies – the number of atomic age children with cancer, the new victims of leukemia, the damage to skin tissues here and reproductive systems there – perhaps these are too small to measure with statistics. But they nevertheless loom very large indeed in human and moral terms. Moreover, there is still much that we do not know – and too often in the past we have minimized these perils and shrugged aside these dangers, only to find that our estimates were faulty and the real dangers were worse than we knew.
Let us remember also that our resumption of tests would bring Russian resumption of tests – it would make negotiations even more strained – it would spur other nations seeking entry into the “atomic club”, with their own tests polluting the atmosphere – and, in short, it could precede the kind of long, feverish testing period which all scientists agree would threaten the very existence of man himself.  And, perhaps even more importantly the ability of other nations to test, develop and stockpile atomic weapons will alter drastically the whole balance of power, and put us all at the mercy of inadvertent, irresponsible or deliberate atomic attacks from many corners of the globe. This problem – called the nth country problem, because we do not know how many nations may soon possess these weapons – is at the real heart of the Geneva negotiations. For once China, or France, or Sweden, or half a dozen other nations successfully test an atomic bomb, then the security of both Russians and Americans is dangerously weakened.
The arguments advanced in favor of a test resumption are not unreasonable. The emphasis is on weapons development – the necessity to move ahead “in the advanced techniques of the use of nuclear material.” This reason is not to be dismissed lightly. Our basic posture in world affairs relies on technical military superiority. We need to develop small tactical nuclear weapons and so-called “clean” nuclear weapons, in order to deter their use or other forms of limited aggression by the enemy, and in order to facilitate a decision to respond in good conscience with atomic weapons when necessary. We need to increase the flexibility and range of weapons in our arsenal in order to increase the flexibility and range of diplomatic possibilities. This is not, I might add, justification for cutting back our ground forces and our ability to wage conventional warfare – but it is nevertheless important. Certainly the destruction rained upon us all by a small nuclear battle – and this our weapons development program is intended to deter – would be many times the damage caused by all the test fall-out in the future. But such a weapons development program cannot be suspended indefinitely in a free country without our scientists and technicians scattering to other positions in other laboratories.  In addition, France and other nations on the verge of becoming nuclear powers will resent a ban – and their goodwill is also important.
But it is even more important that we find a way out the present menacing military situation.  And let us remember that our present test suspension is implicitly conditional on a continued Russian test suspension. If we are not developing new weapons in the absence of tests, so, in all probability, will they. And the facts of the matter are that, generally speaking, we are ahead of the Russians in the development of atomic warheads of all sizes but behind in the development of delivery systems. Until this lag can be overcome, there is a lesser value for us in testing and developing further “techniques in the use of nuclear material.” In short, for both sides to resume atomic tests today might well turn out to be more of a disadvantage to the West militarily than a help. The Soviet Union – which apparently made great progress in it 1958 tests – is quite as likely as we in any new tests to score a break-through with some new means of destruction which will make all the more delicate the present balance of terror.
I would suggest, therefore, the following alternative position:
1. First, that the United State announce that it will continue its unilateral suspension of all nuclear tests as long as serious negotiations for a permanent ban with enforceable inspections are proceeding with tangibly demonstrated good faith, provided that the Russians do not meanwhile resume their own tests. The latest extension of our test suspension announcement expires on December 31 – and we cannot take the chance of continuing it indefinitely without an inspection system – or afford the cost of extending a temporary suspension so long that our scientists disperse and our laboratories break down. But neither can we afford to undercut negotiations close to success – to resume polluting the atmosphere while the Russians pose as moral leaders. As long as serious, good faith negotiations continue into the early month of 1960 – and are not prolonged indefinitely beyond that – we must continue our suspension beyond December 31.
2. Secondly, the United States must redouble its efforts to achieve a comprehensive and effective agreement to ban all nuclear tests under international control and inspection – and this means developing a single, clear-cut, well 2– defined, realistic inspection proposal of our own. We do not have this today. We have not made as concentrated and effort on techniques for preserving mankind as we have on techniques of destruction. Nor do we have a clear, concrete policy for the general arms control of disarmament program which must necessarily follow an agreement on testing if it is to be meaningful. But the whole international climate could benefit from this demonstration that East and West can reach significant, enforceable agreements. At least a part of the burdensome arms race would come to a halt. The danger of new nuclear powers emerging would be lessened. For the first time the Russians would have accepted effective international controls operating within their own territory. The hazards of health would be over. Such an agreement, in short even if not perfect – even, for example, if it looks to further modification regarding inspection systems for underground or outer-space tests – would nevertheless be worth far more effort than we are presently exerting. And it would be far more valuable than the military benefits to be gained from test resumption.
3. Third – if our best efforts do not succeed, the negotiations collapse, the Russians resume testing and it becomes necessary for our test to resume, even then they should be confined to underground and outer-space explosions, and to the testing of only certain small weapons in the upper atmosphere, in order to prevent a further increase in the fall-out menace – and in hope, moreover, that the Russians and others will be forced by world opinion to follow our example.
4. Fourth and finally, we must step up our studies of the impact of radioactive fall-out and how to control it, through the Public Health Service here at home and a special United Nations monitoring commission abroad. Let us not discover the precise point of danger after we have passed it. Let us not again reject these warnings peril as “catastrophic nonsense” (to quote Mr. Nixon), as they were rejected in 1956 when put forward by a great Democratic standard-bearer, Adlai E. Stevenson. There is every indication that had a test ban been accomplished then, it would have been far more useful, far more easily accomplished and far more beneficial to our national security than it would today, now that the missile gap had widened so far.
These four policy positions that I have stated are no magic solution – nor can they be achieved overnight without effort. The course which I am suggesting is full or risks. It will require more effort, more leadership, more moral courage than merely “running scared.” But the new and terrible dangers which man has created can only be controlled by man. And if we can master this danger and meet this challenge, we will have earned the deep and lasting gratitude, not only of all men, but of all yet to be born – even to the farthest generation.

Sunday, May 15, 2016

The Honor of Allan (the Craig) Franklin



        When my mother lay dying she asked me to find her history for her. My father's was well known but she had always hungered to know her ancestors. I made promise to do this, even though we both knew it would not be before she died. 
         When we buried her I renewed my promise.  Each time I went to stand by her stone I spoke to her of what had been done.    This searching began in 1987.  Mother had died on September 15th.

         It was a struggle. Then, slowly, slowly, a drop at a time, a name, a line, a place, and then a gush of findings and names came out of the past into my hands through the work of cousins living and dead. I was grateful for their help. My promise was redeemed. 
        Then, a book arrived, purchased in the hope it would uncover the past and fulfill my pledge. Turning the pages, slow and careful, I found myself in a different world. The generations were many. Mother counted her descent from Robert the Bruce, through women and men, brave and good, hardened and determined.
         Reading their stories through the long stretch the time which divided us I learned of their struggles.  Their lives were harsh, demanding.  Of need, they bred their sons to be warriors of supreme skill and determination. Forced from their homeland to America they brought rememberings with them. 
          I discovered this in bare time to take the knowledge into the theater with me and see Braveheart. Robert the Bruce was just a name when the lights went dim. Into that theater came my husband, a Craig, who had boasted of his Highland blood. 

          When we left the dim light and the stilled screen we were both silent. He never again spoke of his roots. 

The Bruce redeemed himself; the Craig did not.  Wallace was dead, deceived and betrayed by the Craig. 

I would discover that Craigs breed true to their falsity. Some stories are too true to recount whole in one speaking. This is one such story.

Melinda Pillsbury-Foster

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

I Remember - Abigail, still in my heart and thoughts


I was dutifully cleaning up files on my computer when I opened, "Document3," an unnamed file in Amaranth, an organization which had meant a lot to me when I was active. It was a letter of condolence to a friend who had lost her son.  

Memories came flooding back.  The letter is dated November 11, 1997.  At that point in time I was spending most of my time with my son, Edi, who went back to using Arthur some time later.  

Shelley was having a bad time.  I knew it.  All of her friends understood.  The pain of others hits us, renewing our own times of grief.  I hand-wrote the letter, mailed it, and it stayed, untouched on my computer, transferring with other files through a varied succession of machines.  

Today I am so glad I opened Document3.  Instead of Delete, I put it in a special file, one dedicated to the little girl I lost in 1989.

In December of 1989 I went for what I believed would be one of the last visits to my obstetrician, Mr. Solomon, before giving birth to the baby I had already named Abigail. 

Her layette was ready, along with her crib and a collection of old and new toys to keep her occupied and happy.  Each of my children had a layette I made for them myself, along with gifts from friends and purchased items.  Abigail's baby book was already being used to chronicle my trips to the doctor and my thoughts about this baby, kicking and wiggling inside me.     

All of my children were breast-fed.  Abigail would be, too.   I was looking forward to this wonderful phase of mothering.  

Then my world fall apart.  Dr. Solomon put on the ultra-sound for a look at Abigail and she was not moving.  He asked when I had last felt her.  With a deep sense of panic I said I could not remember.  Tests followed, each one killing another bit of hope.  No heart beat, no anything.  Abigail had died. 

The next day I went to the hospital.  Yet another nightmare followed.  I wanted to have her buried but forgot to mention this with the rush to get me into surgery.  Later, I learned I was having problems which made this essential.  And after surgery Dr. Solomon told me he had had a hard time stopping the bleeding.  I would have to stay over night in ICU and suggested I take something to make sure I slept.  

I felt a rush of fear.  I knew if I went to sleep I would die, leaving my other children.  Undefined ugliness seemed to press in on me. I felt a stab of fear for them.  I refused to take anything.  Dr. Solomon, never dramatic, did not press it.   

Around 2am I felt myself lifting out of my body and had to focus on keeping myself connected.  I struggled to get the button to call the nurse and pressed it over and over again.  She came in, asking if I wanted the sleeping pill.  I told her to check my blood pressure. 

It was so low they called Code Blued me, calling in Emergency.  I was lying in a puddle of blood. 

Dr. Solomon later told me it was a very close thing.  In the upheaval I was told it was not possible to have Abigail's body to bury. 

I shudder with the horror of what my life would be like if Abigail had been born and raised by Craig, my then husband, who I now know wants nothing more than to have a baby girl he can raise and then rape and destroy.  I did not know what evil was until I accepted it can come hiding behind faces we believe in and trust.

I love you, Abigail.  I understand, now and forever.   



Letter to Shelley (Last name withheld) 


November 11, 1997


Dear Shelley,

Forgive me for not hand-writing this note. I was so sorry to hear about your son’s death and have wanted to get in touch every day - but honestly I did not feel equal to talking to anyone - taking your advice and making life as simple as possible, perhaps. 

I know what you are going through - not only did I come close to losing Ed, but I lost a child at birth and it took me a long, long time to recover from that. It was as if I kept looking around for some part of myself that was misplaced only to remember that I could never have it back again. I did not go through her clothes for a full two years and when I did, it was a renewal of the pain. The pain passed, not with time but with acceptance and gratitude for the short time I had her. I taught myself to remember the times I had sat, entranced at her movements within me, the joy I had experienced in making her clothes and her little bed. 

Eventually I arranged a memorial service for her. I lit a candle to her memory and thanked God for the time we shared. It did help. Then I started to see her in others and that helped most of all. 

Our children are not supposed to predecease us. It is unnatural, wrong, and unbearable. Every night, now that Edi is home, I slip into his room to look at him sleeping. I listen to him breathe. 

I don’t know what I can say to lighten your burden. He lived the life he wanted? Scant comfort. But some part of Abigail is still with me and I know that some part of your son will always be with you. Love is the most enduring thing that we, as humans create. It is really the root of everything and takes us back to our home, no matter how far we may stray. 


God bless. My thoughts are with you. 

Melinda 







 




Wednesday, October 01, 2014

The Incident of the Gas Cap – Craig Franklin, Remembered

 A snippet from the book, Psychopaths – A Guide to Survival by Melinda Pillsbury-Foster
Eight Psychopaths, Ten Chapters 

NOTE:  Of course, Craig gets one whole chapter for himself but the other seven certainly know who they are.  

 

Let me say right now Craig Franklin, my former husband, was not stupid, not in the least. He continuously informed me and anyone else who he had known for as long as 90 seconds that his IQ was 180. Therefore, those looking for a reason the following incident took place must look for some other explanation. I have a few ideas myself, rest assured.

The Incident took place on a Friday evening after I had picked Craig up from work. He would have liked to drive himself but since he had, again, had his driver's license suspended for good and sufficient reasons, this was not possible. 

Endangering the lives of other people is not a victimless crime, take note. Issues of increased liabilities if he was caught were foremost in my mind.

Despite my pointing these ominous possibilities to him, and the impact on our already creaky finances, Craig did not see the need for a license to drive. It might seem to this was stuffy of me, but I understood, all too well, the problems encountered by individuals who decided to dispense with these small pieces of plastic.  So, although I do not think licensing of the right to drive is appropriate and affirm it is a v have one myself because the failure to do so is too high a cost in money and aggravation to contemplate. 

Craig and I had met at a Libertarian Convention in 1977. Most Libertarians disagree with the rules, grudgingly perhaps, but because it is easier to follow those which you cannot safely evade than paying the costs of ignoring them.

Craig was different. If I had known just how different my life would have been far more serene and less chaotic.

Craig also thought it should be unnecessary to file a tax return, evidently not minding a bit this ensured he would never receive an intact paycheck from his employer, Green Hills Software, Inc. Such is life. If you are interested in THAT story just read the link. It happened.

On this particular evening my former husband, Ron Foster, whose maiden name was Kellett, had been allowed to come to the house to play Dungeons and Dragons with the children he had allowed Craig to adopt so he would not have to pay child support. They were huddled around the dining room table peering at small pieces of cardboard when I drove in with Craig in the passenger seat.

The disagreement had started in the car just after I picked him up from his work at Green Hills Software, Inc., then located in Glendale, California. It had been a long journey home in rush hour traffic to North Hills. I was tired and still needed to go to the grocery store and shop so I could make dinner.

But first, the house needed some picking up. As I walked through the place, reassembling order from chaos, Craig accompanied me so he could continue to argue while he gulped down a snack.

As usual, he had made a bee-line for the refrigerator for some yummy concoction which would sustain him until dinner was ready. The epicurean delights he assembled included Cheez-Whiz, purchased just for him since no one else would eat it. This was slathered, or by preference extruded, on any kind of cracker or not too squishy thing which presented itself. Sometimes it joined globs of Ketchup on a thick slice of meat loaf.

But he really preferred very large portions so we never knew what would emerge as his most recent treat. Cheeze-Wiz was a frequent condiment on all of these constructions. He said it helped hold them together while he consumed them. This is probably true.

I wish I could remember what had started Craig off. Despite his claims of being the most ardent of Objectivists, and being the only living man to have stalked Ayn Rand, sitting for days in the lobby of her apartment in New York with orchids at the ready and a math treatise in his hands, Craig's arguments were never rational.

I kept picking up and straightening. Craig kept talking in louder and louder tones.

It suddenly occurred to me this would be an excellent time to go to the grocery store. Interrupting the flow of verbiage I told him I was leaving and went to get my purse.

When I re-emerged into the dining room a few minutes later the Dungeons and Dragons Saga had paused. All eyes were staring out the window. There, next to the back of the car stood Craig clutching something in his hand.

Ron laconically informed me, “He took off the gas cap.” Odd, I thought, dismissing this latest evidence of Craig's erratic behavior as I walked out, climbed in the station wagon and swung out of the drive way. In the rear view mirror I could still see him standing there, gas cap raised inquiringly.  

When I returned about 45 minutes later the D & D had resumed and Craig was firmly locked in the bedroom. He refused to emerge for dinner, which I left in front of the door for him.

It seems after I left Craig had walked back in the house looking perplexed. He then asked Ron, “How could she drive off when I have the gas cap?”

The question had been answered by the six year old in the room.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

If it is Justice You Seek - A Vision of the End Times


From a Waking Dream

Early Tuesday Morning, September 8, 2014



Statue of The Bruce, at Stirling Castle
 

Girdled in the plaid of the Bruce they laid their swords before Christ. Kneeling, their faces still glazed in the blue of battle, they pledged fealty to Him as they promised their souls to war upon the demons which oppressed His people.

Knowing from ages past this was appointed Christ accepted their duty and oath, blessing them and their battle for souls otherwise lost to God, His Father.

The Fall of Lucifer and his demons to Earth had penetrated the substance of God's people and this taint would be removed and His people purified.

These kilted men had been tempered by battle, marked with scars and the wounds which do not show on the skin.

I watched them from a distance through time, knowing them for kin. Heart to heart. Mind to mind and soul close to Him who died for all of us, yet in this shining moment stood before us, hands raised in blessing of their battles yet to come.

And I could feel the winds of Scotland cleansing me of care, leaving only the certainty those fallen with Lucifer, the demons who have afflicted us since the Fall, would be brought to choose. They would either turn to Christ, the Spirit and God, or be ripped from Earth, returned to their Master in Hell.

These, my kinsmen, knew I was among them, though divided by the roil of generations and centuries. In this moment we had made the same pledge.

Then, the Bruce, who they had followed to this place of peace and sanctuary, which also drew me, turned and spoke.

Daughter,” he spoke it soft and gentle but with the knowing which penetrates past bone to soul, “You have come to point us to them. This is your battle, not one of revenge but to carry to them the choice between salvation and the gnashing of teeth and flames of Hell. “

Nodding, I bowed my head, wondering, but accepting. Heads still bowed, I felt the Bruce, newly sanctified by Christ, touch my forehead with his hands, the same I had seen placed between the Hands which bore the wounds of the Cross.

Those who had followed the Bruce to this place of consecration rose, turning to me.

I found that my mind, which had been trapped in anguish and pain, was eased as I listened to the words they spoke.

I sensed, knew, and rejoiced. There would be justice even it if lay beyond the limits of their lives and mine.

The Time is Come.” I heard the echo of Christ and saw its strength and truth on the faces of these kinsmen who stood with me. “As they choose, so shall their fates be decided.”

And the Bruce smiled. “Your weapon is the truth. Use it.”

And as the glaze of morning light enveloped us I rose, consecrated to battle for the souls of Man, stolen by evil for this age.

My eyes opened and I found myself laying on my bed. The air around me seemed charged and different. Touching my forehead my finger found a something unexpected. Then, my eyes wondered at the tiny residue of blue.

Thursday, June 07, 2012

Integrity - The Life and Values of Mark Palmer




Integrity – The Tool which enables success and prosperity.

                moral soundness; "he expects to find in us the common honesty and integrity of men of business"; "they admired his scrupulous professional integrity"wordnetweb.princeton.edu/perl/webwn
  1. Integrity as a concept has to do with perceived consistency of actions, values, methods, measures, principles, expectations and outcome. People use integrity as a holistic concept, judging the integrity of systems in terms of those systems' ability to achieve their own goals (if any). Wiki
Through our choices we touch the world around us, changing the world through example and through the power of choices lived consistently. This is integrity, a measure of soul, spirit and mind.

Integrity in our choices, living transparently and accountably, allows those around us to know we can be trusted. When we choose to live in this manner we are free to experience ourselves without fear, we see the world differently.

This is the story of Mark Palmer, and how living with integrity allowed him to survive and prosper.

Mark Palmer suffered a brain injury at age15. In late1964 he was nearly killed in a collision with a bus, suffering a nearly fatal brain injury. He and his friends should not have been there, sixty miles from home. Telling their parents they were snow skiing they instead took a trip to downtown Detroit during rush hour. The driverhad been licensed to drive for only three days. They were enjoying a novel sense of freedom from parental oversight.

Mark was an ordinary young man who, in the aftermath of the accident, faced an extraordinary challenge.

Most people with TBI accomplish very little. Facing often-overwhelming problems, little is expected. Many commit suicide or care so little about the life remaining to them they recklessly throw it away, blaming others for their bad luck. Mark chose another way. Taking responsibility for the problems he faced while still in the hospital he began to take control of his own choices.

Even today little is known about traumatic brain injury, the challenges are too diverse and complex for anyone to predict with reliability what the TBI survivor will face.

During the first late night surgery the doctors opted to remove the splinters from Mark's brain, saying he had a 300 to 1 chance of living. Mark was in a deep coma for weeks afterward. He would remember nearly nothing of what had transpired during those weeks and nothing of the accident.

As Mark regained consciousness he became aware his parents wanted him home. Normally happy people, they were clearly distressed. Mark remembers wanting more than anything to see them smile. He was filled with the wish to make up for being someplace he was not supposed to be. He vowed to make up for his lack of responsibility.

Mark decided he would do whatever necessary so they could take him home. To be discharged, Mark had to feed himself, walk, and urinate.

Mark managed to walk by hanging on to his IV holder, pushing it along like a walker, each step a painful struggle. Urinating was the next item on the agenda. Mark discovered he no longer knew how to urinate. Refusing a catheter, he taught himself to go. It was excruciating, the first pain he remembered from the accident, and he had been in a coma for so long. The memory of the pain would remain with Mark for thirty years.

Taking a bite of food on his own also proved to be a challenge. The hospital required Mark manage at least one bite of food for himself. It took many tries for Mark to hit his chin with a spoon still full of oatmeal. His right hand was in a cast, but the left was paralyzed so his right hand did the work. Mark hit his shoulder, then his chest. After many attempts he got the side of his mouth. No oatmeal made it in, but it was enough. Seven people were standing there watching.

When he was carried in to his home the hole in his skull was still covered only by newly healed skin. His parents had shuffled bedrooms so he would not have to climb the stairs. Mark does not remember who fed him at home, but he knows it was not him. Over the next months he slowly taught himself to walk, very badly. Mark overcompensated in every way. Receiving no rehbilitation, he laid down a pattern for misusing his body which would result in years of excruciating pain.

His body had lost the fluid ease of youth and he leaned to one side, as if still expecting the impact of the bus.

Mark then experienced his second crisis. Everyone told Mark he would now live a, normal’ life, he was nearly recovered and had only to return to his old self. But there was no normal, old self in Mark. Instead, Mark now experienced the world through lenses which had changed forever. The hole in his head was healing and the hair on his scalp was beginning to grow again. Inside his mind, he was a different person.
Friends veered off and the new Mark found himself often alone.

During his weeks in the hospital he had received hundreds of cards from the people to whom he delivered the morning paper. Nurses read these to him, beginning before he was conscious. From a great distance he had heard the words. He knew he had been valued for doing a good job, for being reliable and contientious.

Mark was the kind of paperboy who makes sure your paper is close at hand and in good condition when you go out to pick it up. It was his job and he diligently tried to do this job well. Knowing this sustained him, becoming a measure he was to use over and over again.

Mark learned while still in high school it could be worst.

While sitting in his doctor's office, waiting to be seen, another patient, near Mark's age, also a victim of TBI, noticing his Algebra book told him sadly he could no longer do Algebra. Mark had his ability with math, even if his other classes had become much harder. Hearing this, Mark felt a surge of happiness at finding something intact.

Mark's problems were different. It took a long time to relearn the use of his muscles. His failures forced him to identify and work with each small muscle, individually, bringing it under his control. In this way he learned something very valuable. To accomplish the task at hand he had worked tirelessly. First, with help, Mark broke down each task by identifying smaller and smaller groups of the muscles and then learning all over again to control each one and then all of them together.

His body was one set of tasks. His mind was another, even more complex. At first he tried to believe when he was told he was now 'normal,' that his mind was working as it had before the accident.Then he accepted that the people he loved most were lying to him. .

When he returned to school he could see he was not keeping up with his class. What had been easy was now a struggle – but his teachers passed him anyway. He would have liked to believe all would be well but when he started college he knew parents, friends and teachers had lied to him for the kindest reasons. But these were still lies.

When Mark was 17 he began looking for a part-time job. He sought a job processing 100 lb sacks of newspapers but found the supervisor doubted he could do the work.

The papers, produced by the Catholic Weekly, were addressed to all subscribers, according to zip code and delivered to post office. The job was transferring the sacks to the delivery truck, which would then take the papers to the post office. To prove he could do the job Mark offered to work for free for a week. Half way through the day the circulation manager,Doug, said, "Mark, you can expect a check."

The muscle issues were solved first. The full impact of tthe damage hit Mark when he began college. He flunked out. Mark made a pact with himself. He could not discuss this with anyone because the people he loved, and who loved him, would have been shocked and hurt. But he would accept no lies, no matter how kind or hopeful. He would break all learning into smaller and smaller parts until he could understand, learn, and master the task at hand as he had done with his body.

Mark broke every task into smaller and smaller parts until he could understand and master each tiny, incremental bit. Each part would be completely understood, transparent. He would be responsible for making each part work.

The challenges continued to appear.

Grand Mal Seizues started a few months after Mark had returned home. While still in high school and college Mark suffered through seizures so violent every incident brought with it a new injury. Over the next years his seizures caused hundreds of dislocations of his arms, and other injuries almost without number. Working by himself, as usual, he learned to use pressure and gravity to pop the arms back into place.

The pain of urination continued. Mark learned the location of every rest room in any city he visited.

Mark's contined back problems and a ruptured disk, complicated by his seizures, resulted in back surgery. The levels of pain were immense, constantly with him. Despite the unremitting pain, for two years Mark refused mediation for pain. Blood levels for the medication for his seizures were never checked Only years later discovering that his body burned the medication at a rate that rendered it useless.

When Mark began work he automatially applied the same principles which had helped him survive. He ascertained the facts, did not evade the conclusions, and accepted it was up to him to find a way to make things work.

Mark married in 1969 and began to build a professional life for himself and his family. The couple had two sons and the same principles were applied to being a father.

Mark became an ever more observant student of the world around him and of people. Understanding others, what stopped them from successfully, carrying out their jobs, achieving their goals, the strategies they had adopted , received his dispassionate and intense attention.

Mark began categorizing these and determining how he, first as computer operator, a small company executive, to salesman, mnager and executive then consultant, could help them change their personal stragegies to successfully meet their goals.

In 1992 Mark was in Tokyo when both his shoulders went out at the same time. He remembers the taxi driver, who Mark told to pull over. The driver's shock as he watched Mark was palpable.

Mark got out of the taxi, braced himself on the hood of the car, and using gravity, popped both shoulders back in place, one at a time. Returning home, he decided it was time to have them fixed surgically. Before finding a physician Mark became an expert in the tecniques which would be used during his surgery.

Surgery was followed by another year of therapy.

Then Mark discovered how his pain impacted those he loved most.

Mark's wife came home one day and told him she had hired a landscaper. The next week she sold the lawnmower. She could no longer stand watching his struggle to cut the lawn, sleeping on ice, to alleviate the pain. Mark realized, for the first time, he was causing his wife pain.This was unacceptable to Mark.

The search for another physician, untried therapies and techniques, began anew.

The new physician laid out a regimen. X-raying Mark's shoulders the doctor prescribed massage therapy and recommended Mark begin a regimen of Rolfing. Rolfing, a technique to break up the adhesions between muscles and organs caused by trauma, continued weekly for 15 years.“You don't have a shoulder problem,” the doctor said, “you have a compensation problem.”

The physician was the first person who referred to Mark's condition using the words, 'brain injury.' His parents had never told him. Asked about this, Mark's father said harshly, “You didn't deserve it” His parents had concealed the truth out of a wish to protect their son, finally explaining to Mark why they had told him he was 'normal.'

Mark immediately went on line and began reading about brain injury. Again,he became an expert.

In 1996, now 47 years of age, Mark began rehabilitation for the first time. He relearned crawling and walking. His doctor suggested use of more diverse protocols. A Transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation ( TENS)Unit became Mark's means to distract him from the pain brought on by the new regimen. Mark wore a TENS unit continuously for three years as his rehabilitation continued.

To force Mark to stand upright his Rolfer would stand on the table and pull his hair, excising old trauma from his body.
Understanding he could change himself gave Mark a wonderful sense of freedom, pride and accomplishment Ever since the accident Mark had stood and sat with a lean to one side. During the rehabilitation process he realized this originated from his attempt to brace for the impact with the bus. His body had remembered the moments he could never recall. Now, the lean was gone. His kids noticed he was standing straighter. Mark did not quit. He could see that, no matter how painful, the new techniques were working.



Pain is no longer a constant distraction in Mark's daily life now. But he has to work hard to keep it that way.
Mark still approaches life in this way today. Using the same techniqueS he had originated for his recovery had brought him far in business. In business, Mark used transparency and accountability, developing protocols to show others how to analyse their plans and practices with uncompromising honesty and transparency. They must, he told them, be accountable.

As a business consultant Mark teaches businesses how to become more profitable. He puts them through a process similar to the one he used on himself. Some find the process exausting. Others, frightening. But the process produces highly positive results.

While waiting for a plane Mark met a young woman when she spilled her coffee on his. She was, she explained, nervous, trying to rehearse her responses for a job she desperately needed. As they talked, Mark explained his approach. She thanked him. Some time later he received this note from her.

Dear Mark,
I wanted to thank you for all your support, after a lengthy and complicated job hunt there were plenty of people suggesting tactics which would not have been me or would have appeared fake.  You encouraged to play to my strengths by simply being me with some thought applied and it has certainly paid off.”

Working with sales staff, management, and company officers, the process forces them to identify the facts which kept them from succeeding. Using carefully designed protocols they hone in on the issues which have prevented or limited their success.

Mark's least successful sales management position left his client's company with 90% revenue growth. His most successful experience was a 400% ncrease in revenue growth.

Today, Mark is a highly successful consultant. He is also pain free for the first time in 50 years and he understands himself and those around him, their motives, their evasions, and their fears.

Each day his own regimen continues. Many normal body functions remain a struggle. If Mark becomes over tired his speech slurs. Over the years he has continued to lose his hearing. Each problem is approached with the same unrelenting tools. Mark still allows himself no excuse. He keeps researching developments in rehabilitation and on TBI, both for himself and for others.

Mark's sons grew up prizing their own self-sufficiency. Five grandchildren brighten Mark's life.

Mark's approach to his brain injury became his career and also a spiritual discipline. Using the same standards in all parts of his life Mark has lived a life founded on integrity, spelled out in action. By so doing Mark has demonstrated to thousands of people the power of these values to our lives.

Robert Frost's, “Two Roads Diverge in a Yellow Wood,” is Mark's favorite poem. Instead of taking the first road, Mark says he took the second. Assuming nothing, Mark has accepted only the facts since the moment he realized transparency was his only path to a life not limited by his injuries. Mark accepted no limitations, instead embracing his own power, something sensed the moment you meet him.

Far too often we ignore the power of the values and ideas we choose to shape both our lives and the future all of us will share. One choice, one value at a time, we are building the future today.


Mark Palmer's consulting site is mark-palmer.com. Mark has also written a book for the victims of traumatic brain injury and their and families titled, “Realistic Hope.” Mark discovered early that all parts of our lives need integrity. Mark serves on the board for Jodi House, a not for profit in Santa Barbara serving the TBI community there.

This series takes real stories and people, using them to illustrate the principles of Integrity.