We Want To Live – Chapter 1 – Aajonus in L.A.

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Aajonus in L.A.

Friday, September 26th

“Hi, Mom,” I say groggily. “Are you okay? We usually talk on Sundays.”

I peer through the curtains above my bed. It’s a clear early morning in Beverly Hills, California. I wonder what in the world - or in Cincinnati - happened to get Mom to call on day rates.

“Jeff was in an accident.”

“How bad?”

“His car went into a ravine and he suffered severe brain damage. He’s in a coma.”

“No... I’ll be on the next flight.”

“The doctors say he won’t live through another night,” she hesitates.

“There’s no point in your coming...until it’s over.”

Why would Mom say such a thing? “If there’s anything I can do I want to be there.”

“Mary doesn’t want you here.”

“She actually said that?”

“She told me to tell you not to come.”

“If Mary and I could have done what each other wanted we’d still be married. I’ll call you as soon as I’ve booked a flight.”

“Okay. We’ll pick you up at the airport.”

“Thank you. I love you.”

“I love you,” she replies sincerely and hangs up.

Oh, my God, I’m going to have to face the helplessness I felt when Jeff was an infant and I was seventeen. And the divorce with Mary at nineteen. I feel delirious.

I flip open my personal phone directory and punch in the numbers. The lines are busy. A recorded voice answers. I check my pulse rate. It’s faster. Although my heart and mind seem a little frenzied, I notice my adrenals haven’t triggered panic in my body. Is my body protecting me from the inevitable? Can’t death just leave me alone?

I won’t spend energy on that probability. Okay. Jeff will need lots of--

“This is Cyndi, may I help you?”

“Hi, Cyndi, what is your next flight leaving L.A.X. to Cincinnati? This is a life-and-death emergency.”

I wonder how corny that sounds and how often she’s heard that line.

“My son’s been in an accident.”

“I’m sorry,” she says timidly.

I hear her computer keys clicking away. I drift into memory.

Jeff was one month old. He had my blue eyes and my fairness when I was his age with many of Mary’s facial features. Mary sat in the rocker holding Jeff in her arms. Her thick, dark brown, wavy hair folded on to her shoulders. Her large brown eyes and full lips are flanked by high full cheek bones and jowls. Mary and Jeff rocked. He screamed. He pushed and twisted his face into the blouse covering Mary’s breast. His scream pressed his lungs completely void of air, creating a vacuum. Then he desperately sucked in air as if suffocating. He released another blood-curdling scream and then gasped for air. He screamed again and again. Grieved and frustrated, Mary and I didn’t know what to do for him.

“I’m still searching,” Cyndi’s voice rescues me.

But my thoughts keep churning. I remember Jeff screaming for hours, night after night. I turn my thoughts to life right after Jeff’s conception.

Like normal teenagers in love, Mary and I adored each other. She was a senior at Finneytown High and I was a junior (she was older than I). Our parents were understanding and supportive, which surprised me at the time. We married in another state and hid it from everybody because the school didn’t allow married or pregnant students. Mary did sit-ups, wore sweaters and blouses that hung to hide her pregnancy. She graduated with honors in her sixth month. Within four weeks after that her stomach bulged to the size of a basketball.

Jeff was born the first week of my senior year. Surprisingly, the school faculty changed policy for me. They encouraged me to attend as a parttime student, allowing me to take only the courses necessary to graduate so I could work and tend to my family. Very little in my life was happy until I met Mary more than two years before Jeff was born. All of a sudden, encouragement came from everywhere.

Margaret, Mary’s mother, took care of Jeff while I was in school and Mary was at work. Margaret was strong, fun-loving, attractive and had reddish-blond hair. She hated to be called a redhead. Why, I still don’t know. After school I’d get Jeff from Margaret. Jeff and I went home to our apartment in a lower middle-class suburb at a very small business intersection. We lived above a “Family Billiards” hall and I remember being comforted by the happy noises of people playing.

After settling Jeff, I’d usually prepare dinner for the three of us. I’d gobble down my share and rush off to work the moment Mary walked in the door from work. She was a prized secretary for the electric company. I breaded and fried chicken and French fries in a short-order restaurant.

I got home from work between twelve and one in the morning. Mary was often asleep in the rocker with Jeff fussing or asleep in her arms. I’d take over, hold him in my arms and rock. On a rare occasion I did some homework while I rocked him. Sometimes we alternated in one to two-hour shifts, rocking Jeff through the night.

Everybody except Margaret insisted we were spoiling him. Fear of spoiling a child was the mindset back then. So several times we let him cry in his crib. One time he screamed for six-and-a-half hours until we picked him up. We knew his pain was more than a need to be cuddled.

We discovered our baby had severe colic. We gave him baby aspirin. They made him worse when the effects wore off. The doctors prescribed every infant milk formula on the market. None worked. Everything the doctors said and did did not help him. I wish we had known then that if a mother is on a healthy diet, breast-feeding would have resolved the problem.

The doctors steered us away from breast-feeding. The consciousness seemed to be that breast-feeding was unsanitary, primitive and disgusting. Consequently Jeff suffered for twelve months. We suffered with him. It stopped for no apparent reason. [See Appendix A, page 127]

“The first available flight is 11 a.m. tomorrow,” Cyndi’s voice snaps me back.

“Who’s going to Cincinnati in late September?!”

“You, sir,” she quips.

I asked for that. “Please put me on your stand-by call list for all flights and book me on the first available, please. My name’s Aajonus Vonderplanitz.”

I spell it and Cyndi’s keys clicking away takes me back to when Jeff was one year old. Mary was aloof. What was it about childbirth that robbed Mary of her ceaseless optimism, humor, joy of life and sensuality? That thought constantly perplexed me. I didn’t understand that it was biological. Not knowing enough about anything, I thought it was merely psychological. I pressured her to desire me the way she had before. She couldn’t. I said hurtful things to her. It made things worse. All the chores and responsibilities of family life didn’t make any sense anymore. After work, I began drinking with work buddies until five or six in the morning.

During the days, I attended a breakthrough computer trade school. I got top grades in something other than art for the first time in my life. I began seeing one of the teachers after school. She was a single parent, divorced, eight years my senior. She was lonely for affection, too.

“Do you want to schedule a return flight?”

“Uh, yes. I have to be back next Wednesday late afternoon.” What am I saying? Am I expecting a miracle in five days? I’ll have to cancel my performance next Thursday. No. If I can’t help Jeff I’ll need the distraction.

“Okay, Mr. Vonderplanitz. We’ll call you if a seat opens. You’ll have about forty-five minutes to get to Los Angeles International Airport immediately after we call. So have your luggage ready. But for now your reservation going to Cincinnati is on flight___”

As I write down the information, I remember Jeff’s first portraitsitting. He was six months old. He sat on a cloth-covered table, clasping a small rubber ball between his chubby thighs. He laughed and giggled. The flash blinded him and he made a mean face. “Just like his father,” Mary gibed. I was teasingly blamed for all of his “bad” behavior.

Jeff was a spirited, lively child once he got over colic. He was such a joy when he was feeling well. (But then, most everyone is.) When he got angry he would suck in his breath, puff himself up, turn red as a beet, clasp his fists at his sides and shake. “Just like his father,” Margaret razzed. I enjoyed hearing the phrase, “Just like his father,” although I never held my hands stiffly at my sides and shook.

Even Jeff’s temper tantrums were cute, and ludicrous. We shared the same favorite word, ludicrous, and we gave it a clownish connotation. Actually, it was one of the few words he spoke. By the time he was two, when either of us tripped we’d laugh and say, “That was sure ludicrous, were you born yesterday?” He had a viable excuse.

Everything was cheerfully ludicrous, except the change in Mary after childbirth. I had never seen Mary violent and now she was spanking Jeff with a flyswatter and yelling at me. Often, I couldn’t blame her for yelling at me.

I deserted them. We divorced.

I thank Cyndi and hang up the phone. I begin planning for the battle. The enemy is huge, shrewd and powerful. I must put the enemy at bay so I can use my nutritional expertise to help Jeff heal. The enemy - Jeff’s body’s enemy - is the medical profession’s concepts and methods.

I get up, get dressed, eat and drive to a health food store to get the survival supplies I know I won’t find in stores outside of California.
[See Appendix B, page 128]

I reach for a six-pound jar of unheated honey and place it in the hand basket. I know the glucose water that they are pumping into Jeff intravenously has no nutrients for healing. I know that his body is depleting the nutrients within himself, trying to heal. I’ve experienced that unheated honey has the nutrients to promote healing. I reach for another jar and a woman approaches me.

“Do you have a tribe of sweet tooths?” she flirts (or am I flattering myself?).

She is definitely attractive. Her upper lip is slightly larger than the lower and quivers sensuously, unconsciously, when she’s quiet and curls when she speaks. What am I thinking about?! “Just two. My son and I.”

“Oh... Have you been married long?”

Boy, is she fishing. I reach for a third jar and smile, “I’m divorced.”

“Storing up for the fall and winter?” she asks merrily.

“I eat a jar or two a month.”

“Aren’t you afraid you’ll get diabetes and your teeth’ll rot?” she gasps.

Her persistence is charming, relaxing. “If I were to eat heated honeys I’d have diabetes again and dentures,” I say.

“Well, whenever I ate Uncooked Raw honey it imbalanced my blood sugar level. Like a roller coaster I was full of energy for an hour or two and then I was deep in depression or falling asleep,” she says argumentatively.

Is she a lawyer? I want to turn this back into a conversation. “My name is Aajonus. Pronounced like homogeneous without the hum.”

Caught off balance, she titters, “Aajonus? That’s unusual. I’m Linda.”

“That’s not.”

She finds it funnier than I do and laughs. She has a singer’s airy rich laugh that makes us relax a bit more.

“I buy only honeys that are labeled ‘Unheated’, or that say something like ‘We do not heat this honey in processing’. Honeys labeled ‘Raw’ or ‘Uncooked’ aren’t the same,” I clarify.

She furrows her brow and looks at me as if I were a simpleton.

“What’s the difference?” she asks.

I think of the many internal and external wounds I’ve seen heal rapidly with application and large consumption of unheated honeys. And how miraculously unheated honeys stimulate digestion. “Okay, honeys labeled ‘Unheated’ can’t be heated over beehive temperature on a hot day - that’s 92.8° Fahrenheit. On hot days, bees fan the honey with their wings to keep the honey temperature below 92.8° F. In the body, 80-90% of unheated honey turns into enzymes for digestion, assimilation and utilization. Whereas, honeys that are labeled ‘Raw’ or ‘Uncooked’ can be heated to 160° which they do to thin the honey for quicker filtering and bottling for more profits. ‘Raw’ or ‘Uncooked’ honeys mainly turn into radical blood sugar. ‘Unheated’ is the key word with honey. You can eat as much unheated honey as you want, as long as you have a taste for it.”

“As one gets fatter and fatter,” she scoffs.

“That depends on what you eat and what the honey helps you digest and utilize. There is nothing wrong with being fat as long as you are healthy. But do I look fat?”

“Your metabolism is different,” she retorts.

“I used to get fat very easily and I would have to exercise four hours five days a week to stay as fit as I am now. I haven’t exercised in seven years, so I can’t take credit for my fitness. Except that I eat right for my body.”

She looks at my naturally developed body disbelievingly.

“Linda, I have to go. I’ll give you my card. I’ll be tied up for a couple of weeks.”

“Sounds like fun. Can I play, too?”

I must seem naïve because I’m turning red. I hand her my business card. She reads it and says, “Now I understand, you are a nutritionist.”

“Yes. I’ve enjoyed talking with you but I must go, Linda. Bye.”


I walk over to the dairy section and remember that I’m supposed to speak at a group meeting tonight about my experience with cancer. I consider canceling as I place eight one-pound packages of unsalted certified raw butter in the basket. I decide to go to the meeting, so time will pass faster. The distraction could relieve some of my anxiety about not being able to get to Jeff sooner.

I glance over my shoulder and spot Linda watching me. As I walk past her she joins me.

“How much raw butter do you eat?”

I chuckle, “You don’t want to know.”

“Four tablespoons a day?”

“You asked for it. Eight to sixteen tablespoons a day.”

She gives me an are-you-a-pathological-liar look and starts to say something but I intercede. “Like unheated honey, although the labeling requirements are different, ‘Raw’ butter hasn’t been heated above a cow’s normal body temperature. Raw fat, like raw butter, cleanses, lubricates, protects and fuels the body easily. Whereas heated and pasteurized fat often store as cellulite or other hard-to-use or nonutilizable waxy fat.” I place the items on the checkout and pay. “Call me in a couple of weeks if you want to try my nutritional logic and see if it works for your body.”

“I think you are out of your mind,” she says utterly deadpan.

“Is that a compliment, Linda?”

Outside of the store, I punch in my voice-box number on the pay phone. It plays back a message, “Hi, sweetheart, I got your message about Jeff,” Beatriz’ voice says and pauses for the right words. “I’m sorry. Call me from Cincinnati and let me know how he is. I’ll miss you. I love you. Bye.”

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