Ginger and I
What’s It All About and Why?

This essay is my attempt to grasp the meaning of life. More precisely, it has to do with my life and the life of my Irish Setter, Ginger. Alfie is a lyrical version of what haunts me as we journey down our yellow brick road of life together.

I danced with death twice in 2008. While either dance could have been my last dance, I learned how to lead death on the dancefloor of life. I’m a different cat due to both dances. While I won’t like to go through either dance again, I would never delete either from my life.

In the past three years, Ginger has done two dances also. She has been at Purdue’s Veterinary Hospital each time. Ginger spent time in their ICU on her second hospitalization because she wouldn’t eat. She hadn’t eaten for more than three days, and her attending physician put her in ICU to feed her intravenously.

Ginger has a grasp of her medical traumas. Months of being sick have bonded us. She started licking my hand at night just before going to sleep after having some awful days. A part of her motivation was to get salt from my hand by licking it. However, it is also her way of thanking me for helping her during those really sick days.

In the past year, I began giving her B12 shots because her blood panel indicated that her B12 level was low. What fascinates me is that even though she is much improved, she remembers when she was very ill. Each night before going to bed, I will tell Ginger what we will do the next day and that I love her. Ginger will patiently listen. I’ll kiss her on top of her head, and her response is to lick my hand. My relationship with Ginger is communicated with my words and licking from her.

Therefore, Ginger and I are enjoying our time together. I realize that my clock is ticking, and there are a limited number of ticks left. Ginger’s clock also is ticking. We aren’t immortal. There isn’t a fountain of life that we will live forever if we were to drink from it.

Also, I don’t buy into the notion that there is an existential elevator that will take Ginger and me to some heavenly paradise where we can walk around a celestial lake as we do every day.

I am free to be me.

Finally, I don’t accept that some deity out there has a plan for me or anyone else. If I had a million dollars, I would bet that some deity didn’t jot down what I would do in life. Predestination isn’t even a concept that is worth debating from my mindset. So, those are some things that I don’t buy.

Nevertheless, here are some of the ideas that I feel are valid, at least for me. I am free to be me. I can’t guarantee anything like Ginger and I will be here tomorrow. Nevertheless, I am the person that decides what to do and how to do what I deem to be essential.

Bobby taught America how to improve our country.

I have written about Andrea Bocelli’s My Way. He is singing about my mindset. It is my modus operandi.

My Way

And now, the end is near
And so I face the final curtain
My friends, I’ll say it clear
I’ll state my case of which I’m certain
I’ve lived a life that’s full
I traveled each and every highway
But more, much more than this
I did it my way

Regrets, I’ve had a few
But then again, too few to mention
I did what I had to do
And saw it through without exemption
I planned each chartered course
Each careful step along the byway
But more, much more than this
I did it my way

Yes, there were times, I’m sure you knew
When I bit off more than I could chew
But through it all, when there was doubt,
I ate it up and spit it out
I faced it all and I stood tall
And did it my way

I’ve loved, laughed and cried
I’ve had my fill, my share of loosing
And now, as tears subside
I find it all so amusing
To think I did all that
And may I say, not in a shy way
Oh no, no, not me
I did it my way

For what is a man, what has he got
If not himself then he has not
To say all the things he truly feels
And not the words of one who kneels
The record shows, I took the blows
But I did it my way

Not everything I wish to accomplish will be realized, but I will try and do it my way. I will try the seemingly impossible quests. If I fail, it won’t be said that I didn’t try. There is a strange sense of achievement even when failure faces me.

It intrigues me that Gilgamesh put that drive that I have within me into a profound statement. “Forget death and seek life.” Instead of trying to find immortality, Gilgamesh did good and noble things by reaching out to others. The Epic of Gilgamesh is an ancient version of the quest for the Holy Grail.

So, as Ginger and I journey down our yellow brick road, we will find meaning in that adventure. At the end of our journey, at least we will leave the world better than we found it. It was Bobby Kennedy who put words to our feelings.

It is from numberless diverse acts of courage and belief that human history is shaped. Each time a man stands up for an ideal, or acts to improve the lot of others, or strikes out against injustice, he sends forth a tiny ripple of hope, and crossing each other from a million different centers of energy and daring, those ripples build a current that can sweep down the mightiest walls of oppression and resistance.

What’s it all about ultimately boils down to my mantra, “It is in giving that we get.” If you wish to be rich in anything, the only means to acquire that wealth is to provide it to others first.


This is Bobby Kennedy’s speech at the University of Cape Town in South Africa. Take the time to listen to it. Bobby’s message is timeless.