August-September Edition Vol. 5 Issue 6

A free Internet Newsletter publication for all CIM Alumni and friends.

    Clem S. Estrera, Jr., CIM Class 1972

    Ma. Belen Rosales, M.D.
        Associate Editor

     Ray Castillejo, M.D.
    Binisaya Section Editor

Editor's Column

“It takes two people to have a marriage, but only one is necessary to change it. We end up feeling helpless in our marriages because we can’t control our partners. The truth is that we need only learn to control ourselves.” – Melvyn Kinder and Connell Cowan

A Thought on Marriage

Clem S. Estrera, Jr., CIM Class 1972

The relationship
     Many of us in the alumni in particular must have already celebrated our marriage of so many years in the form of silver wedding anniversary and perhaps some are about to celebrate their golden wedding anniversary. For a marriage to last 25 years or what is traditionally called Silver Wedding Anniversary, it ought to be celebrated with genuine gratitude and happiness especially in these day and age when too many marriages fail for one reason or another. To stick together for 25 years, let alone longer, and commit themselves to honor or respect the marriage vow taken – “for better or for worse…” – such couples deserve a great deal of admiration.

    It takes strength, courage and determination to endure and rise above the frustrating and even discouraging changes in marriage in order to be able to live together for 25 years or longer. It takes coolness and maturity to keep our sanity in order to be able to deflect the annoying, irritating and irrational comments and criticisms from our spouses. And it takes humor and wisdom to transform the exchange of hot emotions into more pleasant interactions. Sometimes, however, it takes a miracle for the pleasant transformation to occur. But then, to catch a falling star, you’ve got to be standing underneath it. After all, nothing really comes from nothing. One has got to do something. Oftentimes though is that it’s not that our efforts and involvement in our relationship are not enough to make it work or keep it strong, but it is that we often badly underestimate how much efforts and involvement we need to have to do the job. Certainly, there are spouses that, no matter how hard you try to make the relationship work, they seem to always have a way of undermining your efforts by never giving up even an inch of their irrational and inconsiderate ways. Putting up with them is an exercise of patience and humility. It’s a real challenge, for it is hard not to consider giving up the relationship or having an affair to release tension and have someone for comfort. But before such idea starts to fester the mind, outside help like from a marriage counselor should be sought for. 

     Every relationship especially marriage, is the sum and substance of the partners involved. What we give is what we get or what we put into it is what we get out of it. If we bring criticisms, suspiciousness and jealousy to the relationship, we are likely to find disappointment, despair and discouragement rather than joy and happiness. Our reserved involvement guarantees only limited rewards, while our whole-hearted participation promises full-scale returns. Without good whole-hearted involvement, our marriage lives will lack rhythm, balance and bounce. To put it another way, the richness of our relationship depends on the depth of our commitment.

    Sadly, divorce and separation are all too common probably because the threshold of tolerance for disappointment and dissatisfaction in marriage has gotten too low. Many couples lack the maturity to handle their responsibilities, and the coolness to control their frustrations and disappointments. Moreover in these times of instant gratification, couples see no reason to find a common ground to come up with solutions to issues that put their marriage on the rock, for when they crave for human connection they can always sleep with someone else. So when things get rough and the going gets tough, many couples are all too ready to think of escape instead of solution, blame instead of support, and break up instead of make up. 

Wedding anniversaries
     Recently I attended a celebration of two wedding anniversaries. One was for 10 years of an American friend I used to work with. The other was for more than 25 years; both husband and wife are good friends, and we celebrated their wedding anniversary together with other classmates and friends. I noticed a big difference between the two couples, not in the number of years of their marriage, but in their attitude toward their marriage.

     The first couple celebrated their wedding anniversary with an attitude that such celebration maybe the last and thus they didn’t seem to be looking forward to another anniversary. Uncertainty and lack of commitment seemed to be the main ingredients. The celebration was not of genuine gratitude but of surprise that their marriage has lasted for 10 years and their attitude gave me the sense that it’s too long for both of them. They probably did not want to celebrate if not for few of their friends who put it together.

     Although it’s a belated Silver Wedding Anniversary since they have been married for more than 25 years, the second couple celebrated their wedding anniversary with genuine happiness and gratitude, and they are looking forward to getting old together to celebrate their Golden Wedding Anniversary. Their attitude gives you some reassurance that they are committed to live together for the rest of their life or till death do them part so that if they ever reach the golden anniversary, the celebration will be a blast. They haven’t “lost that loving feeling.” Being one of their friends, it makes me feel like I need to take better care of myself to be able to live that long just to celebrate with them, and be a part of the blast.

Questions on a marriage that lasts
     Marriage that has lasted for 20, 25 or more years often used to make me wonder what makes it last. Is it love? Is it doubt and uncertainty that transformed into trust and determination? Is it fear, anger and frustration that evolved into gladness and gratitude with the realization that, after considering the alternatives, a married life after all is not bad at all despite the differences and disagreements that frequently lead to hot emotional exchange rather than rational argument?

     Is it the realization that a chronic suspiciousness is a character flaw, not a compliment; jealousy is a sign of immaturity and insecurity, not a sign of love; and obsession with a spouse’s comings and goings is a poor substitute for devotion? Or is it the realization that every human relationship involves the principle of give and take if it is to grow stronger and become meaningful, and thus the understanding that in a healthy relationship, both partners give and take without restrictions?

    Is it the ability to understand that marriage is a changing process and that each spouse has the option of participating instead of keeping it static by affirming control and by trying to get the relationship just the way a spouse wants it and keeps it that way? Or is it the ability to learn through the years to love and respect each other despite faults, flaws, warts, wrinkles, blockheads and all, or the discovery that the love that lasts is the love that stays in their hearts? No, it should not be just sex. Or, is it? But Zsa Zsa Gabor said: “I know nothing about sex because I was always married.”

Strategy for a lasting marriage
     Marriage is almost always fraught with disappointments and frustrations especially if we hang on to our unrealistic expectations and underestimate how much responsibilities we have to take and how much different we are from each other in the way we think or the way we see things. No matter how much the couples love each other to begin with, after the honeymoon is over, the reality starts to set in and they would soon discover that heart and mind can change, that love is not always wonderful, warm and witty, and that their partners are not always what they expected them to be. The happily-ever-after ending happens only in fairy tales.

    Thus for a marriage to last for years, the couples must learn to live with their differences, and to accept and adapt to changes. There are many things in marriage that are irritating, annoying, frustrating and even discouraging. Many of these things are actually trivial, and yet if couples don’t learn to rise above them, they would only lead to lasting consequences. If they would not lead to separation and divorce, these trivial things would make the couples' life unhappy and stressful. And stress as we all know, causes unfavorable chemical changes in the body, raising your blood pressure that in turn put your heart and kidneys in trouble.

     So after years of many fights mainly for the desire to change the other or keep the other from changing, fights that are frequently made worst by bringing up the same old problems over and over like they haven’t been resolved completely, couples should come to understand that surrender or giving up the losing battle is a far wiser course of action. My personal experience tells me that in this battle, surrender doesn’t signify defeat, but the fact that we are sick and tired of defeat. To get on with our lives, to have any chance of victory or to have any peace of mind, let alone to have balance and harmony in marriage, means that we give up what doesn’t work. Further, aggressive stance only invites anger and adversities and prolongs the fight and pain.

    Surrender, therefore, is not a sign of weakness but of courage, strength and wisdom to call off the war we’re waging with hot emotions for nothing more than fighting for control or defending our ego - a war that the longer you fight against each other, the more insane you become. If victory means going through the process of insanity, the best strategy is to give up before the fight begins and stay sane. It’s an ego that is fragile and fearful that makes you fight and participate in a struggle for who’s right or who’s the boss, or a struggle in trying to change the other. You’d often end up making judgment without the process of thoughts, and readily turn words into weapons to brutalize each other’s feelings. Other couples end up physically beating up each other or throwing things at each other just to prove they can’t just be pushed around. Definitely it’s insanity. Don’t you think surrender is a better strategy?

    Incidentally, when you abandon your desire to change your spouse’s attitude and behavior, and focus instead on the changes you can make for yourself, you’d be surprised how your spouse changes into someone with the attitude and behavior you would have wanted to begin with, and how your relationship improves. In any human relationship, let alone marriage, we should all be fully aware that the only life we have power over is our own. Trying to change others, to convince them that our way of thinking is better than theirs, to correct their behavior, even to improve their lives no matter how much you really care or how much you really mean to, is not only futile, but it will also ensure a poor quality of relationship. 

     In the war of words in marriage, the difference between you and the spy caught and being questioned by the enemy is that you’d rather suffer than surrender to protect and defend your ego, while the spy would rather suffer than tell the enemy what he knows to protect his country. One is an act of stupidity if not arrogance or insanity; the other is an act of heroism and bravery. Because you know from years of experience that the war of words with your spouse is virtually a hopeless war, in trying to win it, you’re no better than the suicide bomber. Your relationships with others may only become civilian casualties. The only difference between you and the suicide bomber is that you don’t want to die. If you think about it, both are cowardly acts. Don’t you agree?

Advantages of marriage
    Marriage has many advantages, and of course, disadvantages, too, depending on how you look at it. But the most important advantages are emotional security and financial partnership that provide stability to one’s life. One good thing that is rarely, if ever mentioned, is that marriage provides a great opportunity for us to grow up. Although responsibilities in marriage may irritate us, we actually profit from them. We grow, not despite its difficulties and demands, but because of them. We are forced to listen and understand better, share more, compromise fairly and learn about merging participation with forgiveness and caring, as opposed to a single life that can be a veritable playground for foibles, faults, character defects, and acting out of selfishness.

    When we are solely on our own with no spouse and children or family to think of, who is there to stop us or check on us of whatever we do and whatever we want to indulge with? Marriage provides a boundary within which craziness and stupidities of all kinds get confronted. It makes us at least think of God more often, and from our thoughts, boundaries are set either by the feeling of fear or the threat of guilt; or by the simple awareness of what is right and wrong. We are likely to be guarded and guided by our conscience so that it would take thoughtlessness and recklessness to step out of those boundaries just to have a close encounter of another kind, for the pleasure of such encounter is not worth the moral, financial, spiritual and emotional consequences.

    When you’re single especially if you have the money, it’s hard not to fantasize the high-flying lives of the rich and famous or the swinging lives of the young and restless like those of the actors, actresses and other celebrities. It’s easy to get pulled into these peoples’ gravitational field. Their lives would readily tap into your powerful motivational system and summon your human yearnings for love, romance, sex and intimacy that unless you fly or swing like them, your life would be woefully dull. So you want to experience as many soaring moments of pleasure and satisfaction as you can. But notice that these moments become harder and harder to sustain and even to duplicate as they create appetites that cannot be fully satisfied like an addiction that needs more and more of the same substance. Thus many celebrities, actors and actresses change fiancées like they are changing wardrobes for different seasons, or cheat on their spouses if not change them too, as they are often left with the feeling “Is that all there is to it?” This feeling leads to boredom and even depression that in turn lead to the use of drugs and alcohol.

    On the other hand, when you’re married, you are more likely to think of having satisfying relationship with your spouse, children or family, for through their love, respect and affection, it’s a little easier to find your way to joy and happiness despite hardship, hard work and even poor health. Nothing is more important and effective than the love and affection of your spouse and family to fill the emptiness in your heart.

Growing up
    One of the mistakes we rarely if ever realize in marriage is that we often shortchange ourselves by paying so much attention to our difficulties and inconveniences and so little to the knowledge we have learned and the wisdom we have acquired from them. Suffice it to say, our pride always makes us want to have our ways. Pride stiffens us against change so that any learning that brings about a change in our behavior will hurt. But along with the wisdom often comes the pain and discomfort. So in order to live with a little less pain and discomfort, we’ve got to let go the idea that it has to be our way or our plan that has to be followed. It takes humility to bend easily. Stiffness and rigidity provide only more pain and frustration, not knowledge and wisdom.

     Once we learn to view marriage as a form of an ongoing participation in life with someone we like, apply to it the principle of give and take, and provide each other an environment where we feel free to breath, to move, to grow and to live fully, rather than spend our energy on the game of control which is a game that no one really wins, marriage would grow stronger. Control suffocates every human relationship. Instead of binding someone to us out of love which is liberating, we bind someone to us out of our own needs and expectations which is enslaving. Goethe said, “Love doesn’t dominate; it cultivates.”

    So to me, a happy and successful marriage is not living with someone the way we want. It is learning to live with someone regardless of what we want. Marriage relationship or any other human relationship is like a beautiful butterfly. If we don’t try to grab it, it often comes softly to our shoulder. If we do, we’ll only break its wings, if not hurt and kill it.

    But having our way in a relationship is hard to give up. It really is. I guess it’s because we all were born with it. When we were infants, we demanded and expected to have our way and thus we had always screamed for what we wanted especially if it’s delayed. But many of us cling to this behavior long after we’ve given up bottles and diapers. Strange as it may seem, with this behavior in a relationship, we hold others so close to us, not because we love them and care for them, but because we feel so insecure and incomplete in ourselves. So we often make unreasonable demands that we recognize only when we meet them, not when we make them. This behavior makes it hard for us to learn to accept what we don’t want, for we’d always equate happiness with getting what we want rather than learning to want what we get.

    It’s what we do or not do, that determines the strength of our relationships. Like an unstoked fire, if marriage lacks spousal participation and is ignored too long, it will flicker, fizzle and soon die. Every human relationship is like that. When it’s ignored, it will die. You don’t need a bucket of water to douse the flames; just the lack of attention and participation will do. When we take our relationship for granted, it’s easy not to notice that it is fading, faltering or flickering. Then we realize often a little too late how easy it would have been to add firewood before the flame died.

A song for a toast

            Here's to Life
  From Marilyn Scott's Album - Nightcap

No complaints and no regrets,
I still believe in chasing dreams and placing bets.
But I have learned that all you give is all you get,
So give it all you got.

I’ve had my share, I drink my fill;
And even though I’m satisfied, I’m hungry still;
To see what’s down the other world beyond the hill,
And do it all again.

So here’s to life, and every joy it brings.
Here’s to life; for the dreamers and their dreams..

Funny how time just flies;
A love can go from warm "hello" to sad "goodbye."
And leave you with the memories you memorize
To keep your winters warm.

But there’s no “yes” in yesterday,
And who knows what tomorrow brings or takes away;
As long as I’m still in the game, I want to play
For laughs, for life, for love.

So here’s to life, and every joy it brings.
Here’s to life; for the dreamers and their dreams,
May all your storms be weathered
And all that’s good get better;
Here’s to life, here’s to love, and here’s to you.



"Our business in life is not to get ahead of others, but to get ahead of ourselves - to break our own records, to outstrip our yesterday by our today." -- Stewart B. Johnson

Alumni Reunion
    I have been told that our alumni reunion in Chicago last month - July 2005 - was a great success. I wish I was able to attend and be a part of that success. But at this stage of my life, there are still circumstances beyond my control; life's restrictions I'm impelled to obey, schedules I'm compelled to follow, and hard choices I've got to make. Mae West once said: "Between two evils I always choose the one I never tried before." So I chose to attend the wedding anniversary of my friends since my choice for the free weekend was only between the first weekend and the second weekend of July. I'd got to be on duty on one of those weekends unless I could find a coverage on at least another one of them.

     I gathered that CIM projects are planned. Hopefully, this is not like one's plan to go on a diet and could not even start it. Let's hope that the caterpillar of projects will take off from the cocoon of plans to become butterfly of achievements. Plans are easy to make; anyone can make plans. Sometimes even peeing is more difficult than planning. For plans to materialize, someone has got to push them through, to be held accountable, for if plans are being procrastinated, they will fade and die like rock songs after its popularity ceases. They don't even linger in your memory. Yet their death would often generate lots of excuses, even blames, arguments and justifications like "I didn't have the time" "I was so busy" "Nobody helped me" "I could not contact so and so," etc.

     Many people believe that having plans is better than having none. But what makes it better if plans are not being carried and fulfilled? I guess having plans makes you feel like you're doing something. Yet it's actually like wishing that unless you do something to make your wish come true, you're nothing more than the king of wishful thinking.

    Certainly, there are human elements like difference of opinions, disagreements in how should it be done or in who should push them through, lack of cooperation because of the what's-in-it-for-me mentality or who gets the credit, etc., that can make even the best-laid plans of mice and men go awry. In any event, let's hope that time will become the reason for success, not the source of excuses for failure. Charles Buxton, British lawyer, editor and statesman (1875-1942) said: "You will never find time for anything. You must make it."

    Well, the next alumni reunion - July 2006 - will be in Las Vegas. If seeing your friends and classmates and having fun with them won't motivate you to attend, how about the sounds of the slot machines? Hey, it's not very often you hear these sounds unless you have auditory hallucinations. They could be music to your ears. So start making plans to join with the fun and perhaps try your luck. You have a year to make arrangement or to think of excuses.

     Who knows, one of the slot machines might make your day. The sounds are real, and so is the money if you win. Of course, you may lose money too, but at least you'd have some fun if you attend the reunion rather than going there another time. And the nice thing about Las Vegas is that there is no limit of how much you can lose and how much you can win, unlike St. Louis, Missouri where if you lose $500 in two hours, you are banned from playing for the next 36 hours. You have to wait for a day and a half to try to recover your losses. Each gambling city has its own advantages and disadvantages depending on what kind of gambler you are.

    Anyway, many of us of the Class 1972 are planning to be there and many of us will be there in Vegas next year for the alumni reunion. Not that many of us are gamblers, but all of us are fun-loving alumni. Where we think the fun is more, we'll gather with ease. Where we believe the fun is less, we'll make a hard choice.

CIM donation and wedding anniversary
     As was stated in May-June 2005 Brain Waves edition, the CIM Class 1972 donated computers and printers to CIM. Indeed we, of the Class 1972, are proud to say that we did not waste time to execute our plan. We "struck while the iron was still hot." To view the photos of the formal donation turnover click on this: CIM Donation Formal Turnover.

     To view the photos of the wedding anniversary of one of the members of our Class 1972 held in July 3, 2005, click on this: Silver Wedding Anniversary

Back to Top

Laughter, the best medicine

"Never hold your farts in. They travel up your spine, into your brain, and that is where shitty ideas come from." --Unknown

    A young couple met with the vicar to set a date for their wedding. When the vicar asked whether they would prefer a modern service or a traditional service, they opted for the modern service. On the day of the wedding, a terrible storm broke, forcing the groom to abandon the car and complete the journey to church on foot. The streets were flooded, so he rolled up his trousers in an attempt to keep them dry. He arrived late at the church and was immediately hustled up the aisle just as the ceremony was starting.
     The vicar looked at him and whispered: "Pull down your trousers."
     The groom said nervously: "Er, actually, Reverend, I've changed my mind. I think I'll go for the traditional service."

    Two men were watching a Western on television. As the hero rode on horseback towards the cliff edge, one of the men said: "I bet 50 dollars he goes over the cliff."
     "You're on," said the other man.
    The hero rode straight over the cliff.
    As the second man handed over the money, the first man looked at it and said: "You know, I feel guilty about winning this because I've seen the film before."
    "So have I," said the second man. "But I didn't think he'd be stupid enough to make the same mistake twice."

    An American tourist was being shown round London's Westminster's Abbey. The guide pointed to a splendid monument and declared: "There lies a great and honest man and a most distinguished lawyer."
    "That's interesting," said the American. "I never knew that in England you buried two men in the same grave."



"Every memorable act in the history of the world is a triumph of enthusiasm. Nothing great was ever achieved without it because it gives any challenge or any occupation, no matter how frightening or difficult, a new meaning. Without enthusiasm you are doomed to a life of mediocrity but with it you can accomplish miracles." — Og Mandino1923-1996, Author and Speaker

Mending Broken Hearts – Part 2

By Wilmo C. Orejola, M.D., Class of 1974

     The success of the operation draws the heart surgeon deeper into a love-hate relationship with the profession. Honestly, the surgeon, like other human beings, loves attention, praise and reward. This motivates him to do the best he can. Imagine saving a person’s life from what ordinary men might consider great danger, if not imminent death. That grateful person and his family will worship a hero. In heart operations the expectation is so high. Serious complications, which happen sometimes, like death and stroke will be devastating. The surgeon must balance attention and compassion with the ability to get up and work the next day.

     “We are not God,” an apologetic heart surgeon was quoted in a local newspaper interview, “we are mere human beings with surgical training.”

     This brings my recollection a few years back. An elderly man came to our service for re-do operation five years after his first heart surgery. He complained of chest pains again because two of the three grafts he had before closed. The operation was needed to create new grafts but the risk of death would double that in the previous one.

     I realized I should be extremely careful in opening the chest. Unlike the saw we used to split the breastbone in the first operation, this time the oscillating saw with pizza-cutter-shaped blade could help to control the depth and force applied down on the breastbone. This time the breastbone was tougher and stuck underneath to the heart, or to the aorta and innominate vein, or to the previous grafts with patency to preserve. 

    After the wires from previous surgery were cut and removed, the breastbone was split gingerly in two passes. In the first pass, the outer plate was sawed from the lower end (subxiphoid) towards the neck, then the inner plate from the neck down to the subxiphoid in the second pass. From experience, you can “feel” what you are getting into. There is bony resistance in the outer and inner plates and a soft marrow in between.

    I felt something give way during the second pass with the oscillating saw.

    Instantly blood poured out from the partially opened chest. A chill went down my spine. I felt helpless. Then from a rush of adrenalin my face felt flushed, my ears hot and red. There was no time to think, a knee-jerk sort of response in split second. The situation was overwhelming.

    “Help me suction this sh____t!” I begged my assistant, who stood in front of me dazed and petrified.

    The cell saver suction could not keep up with the blood pouring like an open floodgate. Decisions had to come quick. In the overhead monitor, the heart was slowing down, the blood pressure precipitously dropped to 60 mm of mercury.

    My big dilemma was how to get the patient on the heart-lung machine as quickly as possible before the patient dies. In seconds I must isolate the aorta and the right atrium to slip cannulas in. But it would not be easy and fast enough because the heart and the surrounding tissues were stuck together in a formless scar. This pitiless and frustrating field of dissection would in ordinary circumstances take me about half an hour to do.

    “Give Heparin!” I ordered.

    “Heparin in!” I heard.

    “Pump suction on and up,” I said next, not quite sure how and why I said that.

    It was futile at this time, I knew, because the pump suction was not safe to use; it would take a good five minutes for the blood thinner to take effect. Heparin was just given. Without Heparin blood would clot in the filters and reservoirs of the heart-lung machine. It was frustrating that the cell saver could not suction enough. Blood spilled to the floor.

    “Give blood or saline or whatever you have now!” I implored the anesthesiologist who was already pushing his second unit of blood into the patient. The patient started to respond to the fluid replacement, his blood pressure still low but holding.

    I packed the partially opened chest with pads and had my assistant put pressure on it to minimize blood loss. I had to come down to the groin area to isolate the femoral vessels, which would be used for drainage and return connections with the heart-lung machine instead of the ascending aorta. Once established I could get back to work on the chest while the patient was tethered to life support.  

    As re-do operations become more common, about one or two in every ten heart operations, we tend to do away with groin cannulation before opening the chest. But this must be done without exception in patients who come for a third operation. Groin cannulation has its own advantage as clearly shown in this situation. The alternative circulation the heart-lung machine provides could regulate the flow and pressure in the patient, drawing the heart away from the breastbone, thus minimizing the chances of getting nicked with the saw when opening the chest. Cannulating the groin vessels has complications, too. Many patients have diseased vessels in the lower extremities leading to compromised blood supply to the limb.

    In training I was taught that the first thing to do in such a situation is to seek help. Pride does not work here. Thank goodness, the chief heart surgeon came and helped me out. We repaired the heavily calcified aorta nicked with the saw, which at the time I felt as part of the inner plate of the breastbone. While the patient was in total heart-lung bypass, the pressures were stabilized. The team was in calmer mood. The rest of the surgery went as planned and remarkably well, without any complications like a stroke that could have come from temporary blood loss. The patient stayed longer in the hospital nevertheless.

    A heart surgeon lives a life on edge; worries wear him down. He hates sleepless nights but he cannot get away from them. Every telephone ring at midnight may require an unscheduled trip back to the hospital for an emergency operation, at worst an aortic dissection. Happy, personal moments with his growing family are easily missed. His kid’s birthdays, ball game, recitals, graduation, or even anniversaries have to be crossed out from the day’s schedule because he has to do more important things. The urgency of every heart operation and the attending worries make wrinkles in his face. Gray hair and premature baldness add even more sense to hide in those surgical caps and masks for almost the whole day. Quite often because of stress he acts out overbearing, condescending, and cantankerous – a dismal reputation of many heart surgeons. But who is complaining? The heart is too fascinating, too enthralling, and too beautiful to spare him excuses to quit. (To be Continued)


Fascinating Stories

"The strongest oak tree of the forest is not the one that is protected from the storm and hidden from the sun. It's the one that stands in the open where it is compelled to struggle for its existence against the winds and rains and the scorching sun." --- Napoleon Hill, Author - Think and Grow Rich

NOTE: Sometimes in May of this year, I started researching about Chicago since our Alumni Reunion was going to be held there. I was still hoping that I would be able to find MOD coverage and attend both my friends' wedding anniversary and the reunion, and have something about Chicago to write. Unfortunately, I was not able to find an MOD coverage during that weekend. Anyhow, as part of my research, I asked help from a small circle of intellectual friends to send me some interesting stories about Chicago they could unearth. One of them sent me these two related fascinating stories below. My friend did not give me the information as to the author of these stories. She probably got them from old newspaper archives of Chicago.

"Easy Eddie"

    Many years ago, Al Capone virtually owned Chicago. Capone wasn't famous for anything heroic. He was notorious for enmeshing the windy city in everything from bootlegged booze and prostitution to murder.  Capone had a lawyer nicknamed "Easy Eddie." He was his lawyer for a good reason. Eddie was very good! In fact, Eddie's skill at legal maneuvering kept Big Al out of jail for a long time. To show his appreciation, Capone paid him very well. Not only was the money big, but also Eddie got special dividends. For instance, he and his family occupied a fenced-in mansion with live-in help and all of the conveniences of the day. The estate was so large that it filled an entire Chicago City block.

    Eddie lived the high life of the Chicago mob and gave little consideration to the atrocity that went on around him. Eddie did have one soft spot, however. He had a son that he loved dearly.  Eddie saw to it that his young son had the best of everything: clothes, cars and a good education. Nothing was withheld. Price was no object. And, despite his involvement with organized crime, Eddie even tried to teach him right from wrong. Eddie wanted his son to be a better man than he was.  Yet, with all his wealth and influence, there were two things he couldn't give his son; he couldn't pass on a good name and a good example.

    One day, Easy Eddie reached a difficult decision. Easy Eddie wanted to rectify wrongs he had done. He decided he would go to the authorities and tell the truth about Al "Scarface" Capone, clean up his tarnished name and offer his son some semblance of integrity. To do this, he would have to testify against The Mob, and he knew that the cost would be great. So, he testified.

    Within the year, Easy Eddie's life ended in a blaze of gunfire on a lonely Chicago Street. But in his eyes, he had given his son the greatest gift he had to offer, at the greatest price he would ever pay. Police removed from his pockets a rosary, a crucifix, a religious medallion and a poem clipped from a magazine. The poem read:

The clock of life is wound but once
And no man has the power
To tell just when the hands will stop
At late or early hour.
Now is the only time you own.
Live, love, toil with a will.
Place no faith in time.
For the clock may soon be still.

"Butch O'Hare"

    World War II produced many heroes. One such man was Lieutenant Commander Butch O'Hare. He was a fighter pilot assigned to the aircraft carrier Lexington in the South Pacific. One day his entire squadron was sent on a mission. After he was airborne, he looked at his fuel gauge and realized that someone had forgotten to top off his fuel tank. He would not have enough fuel to complete his mission and get back to his ship. His flight leader told him to return to the carrier. Reluctantly, he dropped out of formation and headed back to the fleet. As he was returning to the mother ship he saw something that turned his blood cold, a squadron of Japanese aircraft were speeding their way toward the American fleet.

    The American fighters were gone on a sortie, and the fleet was all but defenseless. He couldn't reach his squadron and bring them back in time to save the fleet. Nor could he warn the fleet of the approaching danger. There was only one thing to do. He must somehow divert them from the fleet. Laying aside all thoughts of personal safety, he dove into the formation of Japanese planes. Wing-mounted 50 caliber's blazed as he charged in, attacking one surprised enemy plane and then another.

    Butch wove in and out of the now broken formation and fired at as many planes as possible until all his ammunition was finally spent. Undaunted, he continued the assault. He dove at the planes, trying to clip a wing or tail in hopes of damaging as many enemy planes as possible and rendering them unfit to fly. 

    Finally, the exasperated Japanese squadron took off in another direction. Deeply relieved, Butch O'Hare and his tattered fighter limped back to the carrier. Upon arrival he reported in and related the event surrounding his return. The film from the gun-camera mounted on his plane told the tale. It showed the extent of Butch's daring attempt to protect his fleet. He had in fact destroyed five enemy aircraft.  This took place on February 20, 1942, and for that action Butch became the Navy's first Ace of W.W.II, and the first Naval Aviator to win the Congressional Medal of Honor.

    A year later Butch was killed in aerial combat at the age of 29. His home town would not allow the memory of this WW II hero to fade, and today, O'Hare Airport in Chicago is named in tribute to the courage of this great man.

    So the next time you find yourself at O'Hare International, give some thought to visiting Butch's memorial displaying his statue and his Medal of Honor. It's located between Terminals 1 and 2.


    Butch O'Hare was Easy Eddie's son.


Back to top