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I thought I would have more time with Mom

I thought I would have a longer time with my mother.

After all, she just turned 80 on Thursday and her mother made it to age 96. Mom always had a young spirit.

But Mom passed away on Saturday, two days after her birthday. I received a call from the nursing home where she was cared for as I was standing in the checkout line at Save Mart – not an ideal place to be when you hear that your mother, the biggest cheerleader and fan of her child, is gone from your life.

I’m not sure why she went so fast but I think she died from a broken heart being that her assisted living facility wouldn’t allow me to visit with her, hug her or take her out of her room. She was cut off from her family because of an overbearing dictatorial governor who likes to rule with an iron fist. How would anyone like to be trapped in one room for eight months like she was and do well? Already plagued with aneurysms of her aorta and one in her brain, dementia as well as stage 3 kidney damage, Mom had tested positive for COVID months ago but didn’t have a single symptom. She was released from quarantine back into assisted living.

When COVID hit back in mid-March, I had tried to take her on her favorite outing to lunch at Olive Garden and was confronted by a staff member who warned me that I could not take her out. My mom was standing in the lobby, bracing herself on her walker and ready to go out the door and we had a showdown in the lobby. I finally resigned that it would be in the best interest to forego the outing. I hugged her and said, “That’s okay, Mom, we’ll do this when this thing blows over. They said it’s just going to be a few weeks.” I could see her disappointment as she retreated back into the room. I would never touch her again.

She would ask me over the phone every week “When will this end? When would there be a vaccination?” I would tell her “Mom, I don’t know, probably after the election.”

I’ve been lamenting how many seniors are spending the last months of their life in isolation and loneliness, not realizing it would apply to my own mother.

She is gone but I know she has been reunited with all the family members who have gone before her. 

I’ll see you again, Mom. And like that book you always gave me as a gift says, “I’ll love you forever.”

* * * * *

We have a governor who deserves to be recalled – yesterday. I supported the last recall efforts and I just signed another petition which was launched on June 10. Supporters of the recall have no later than Nov. 17 to collect the 1,495,709 signatures needed to require a recall election. Supporters of this latest recall are asking the courts to push back the deadline to March 17, citing pandemic restrictions. The court hearing is set for Friday, Nov. 6.

Our governor is unconstitutionally micro-managing our lives. He accepted PG&E graft. He lied to voters about being in favor of the death penalty and called for a moratorium after he took office. He loves to tax the hell out of businesses. And when people leave the state because they can’t stand what he’s doing to California, he dismisses like it’s not happening.

In light of the death of my mother, I want to share something a good friend of mine shared on Facebook relating to all this COVID-19 hype:

“In five years from now you will look back and admit that you spent an entire year of your life wearing a mask, cooped up in your house and avoiding all the people you love. A year in your life that you’ll never get back. 

“And let me say this, I am not saying this virus isn’t real, or that there aren’t people that could really be affected. If you’re at risk, take precautions, absolutely. Every single day is a risk. Car accident, flu... our days were numbered before this. That has not changed.

“But, we should not be forced to live in fear. We went from being a free nation to being told we couldn’t go to school, couldn’t go to church, couldn’t go to our grandma’s house, couldn’t pay respects to a loved one through a funeral.... and when we were allowed to do these things, we were told how long we could be there, how far apart we have to be, what to wear.

“Yes, our health matters. But you know what else matters? Family. Friends. Church. School dances. Football games. County fairs. Family vacations. Neighborhood BBQs. Life. 

“One day, you’ll hug your grandma, mom, dad, brother for the last time. One day, your best friend will cry on your shoulder for the last time. One day, your son will play his last football game. One day, your daughter will wear her last prom dress. One day, they’ll have their last day of school. One day, you’ll spend your last day laughing with a loved one. One day, you’ll dance your last dance. 

“Don’t waste the days you have by living in fear. 

“Your time here on earth matters and God didn’t put us here to be afraid of everything He’s blessed us with.

“Live your life while you have the chance. God is gonna call you home when it’s your time. Virus or no virus.”

* * * * *

It’s interesting to see which members of the Ceres City Council are wearing masks at meetings despite all of them sitting “socially distanced.” The Republicans are not wearing masks, presumably because they are not afraid and they think masks are far from a guarantee. The Democrats, Channce Condit (and City Attorney Tom Hallinan) wear masks. Linda Ryno confirmed that she’s now a Republican but is wearing a mask because she’s over 60.

Just an interesting observation.

* * * * *

If you’re puzzled why Councilman Channce Condit had a sudden epiphany in renaming the Eastgate Park after Guillermo Ochoa, consider his timing. Condit has been on the council for nearly two years and said nothing about renaming the park when the contract was awarded for construction in April. But on Sept. 14 – during his run for county supervisor in a heavily Latino district – he calls for the move. He waited until the sign was completed!

The idea that it was politically motivated dovetails with a piece of mail I received several months ago that has all the earmarks of coming from a specific Condit family member whose habits I’ve observed over the past 30 years (but shall remain nameless.) It was intended to malign Tom Hallinan, Channce Condit’s opponent, as “this race baiter.” It was a photocopy of a Tom Hallinan campaign flyer with this portion circled: “Tom Hallinan raised his own Latino son and daughter.” The same flyer listed many Latino elected officials throughout the county who support Hallinan.

Pointing out that one has family members of a different race is not an example of race-baiting, which is defined by as “the incitement of racial hatred, often for political purposes.”

Rather, whoever pointed this out must have had some kind of jealousy or insecurity about Hallinan’s support from various Latinos.

* * * * *

People crack me up commenting on social media posts without having a clue what they’re talking about.

Despite it being perhaps the Courier’s most reported story over the last decade and longer, people still think city officials are to blame for the years of delay in building the Walmart Supercenter.

Folks, the city didn’t delay the project! Blame the state’s CEQA process, which means endless environmental studies and appeals that take years. It was several people led by Sheri Jacobson of Ceres and lawyer Brett Jolley who was hired by some unknown group – some say it was Save Mart – to delay, delay, delay.

Finally it’s over and the front group, “Citizens for Ceres” has not prevailed, thank God. It’s too bad that Walmart can’t sue Jolley and Jacobsen for all the money and city staff time that was squandered just to overcome the annoying anti-Walmart group which didn’t want a property owner the right to build on their own property. If this wasn’t the biggest waste of time and money in the history of Ceres, I don’t know what was!

* * * * *

Hey Southern Pacific Railroad, I know you just cleared out the homeless camp along your tracks west of 99 near Penske Rental’s yard but to quote Heather O’Rourke in “Poltergeist,” “They’re back!” Can you not have this one arrested for trespassing?

* * * * *

I’m really going to miss Jim DeMartini, the District 5 county supervisor since 2004. He’s leaving California for Nevada. He can’t stand what’s happening here. He can’t stand how government throws money at problems without any serious results while our debts pile on.

DeMartini had some interesting things to say during the Ceres City Council meeting of Oct. 26: “I was informed just a few days ago that we’re getting $22 million for homeless programs that we didn’t ask for and have no plans to spend … but I’m told the cities will be able to apply for this money too if you have some programs you want to do for the homeless. Generally in the past you have a plan and then you apply for the money. Here the federal government is just throwing this money at us and says here’s $22 million, come up with a plan. And we had spent $35 million last year on homeless programs with pretty scant results. So I don’t see how $22 million is justified, in addition.”

DeMartini went on to offer Ceres to grab some of the money if the city comes up with a program.

When one sees how obscene amounts of money are spent trying to fix people who don’t see a need in fixing unless they hit bottom and sometimes not even then, it’s little wonder why the United States government is $27 trillion in debt! To pay that off, each taxpayer would have to come up with $217,934!

* * * * *

How sad is it that talk of California seceding from the Union has the support of 30 percent of the people polled by Zogby?

The liberal lunatics running the state into the ground have been threatening having California leave the U.S. under a Trump re-election. With 50 percent opposed, that’s not likely to ever happen. But there is unquestionably an exodus of people leaving because California is governed by radicals and there seems to be no electoral remedy.

One of those leaving is Mike Welsh, a member of the Ceres School Board and local business owner. He’s had enough and is setting up a new home near Minden, Nev. Not far away will be Jim DeMartini, who has spent his life farming in the Westport area. Good people are resigned to the fact that the state is being destroyed.

If Prop. 15 passes it will be time for everyone in California to make exit plans because Democrats like Newsom and Becerra will next be coming for Prop. 13 safeguards.

I don’t think California will ever manage to leave the United States despite the wishes of radical leftists but if it did, I’m gone. No way will I remain in the socialist People’s Republic of California.

* * * * *

It’s quite a leap when a citizen suggests that when an editor criticizes the conduct of a council candidate he is “attacking” the entire town.

I’m referring to the letter to the editor published last week from an Angie Smith. That would be the same Angie Higginbotham Duarte-Smith, one of the best friends of Helen Condit, mother of council candidate Couper Condit. She has a history of bristling at any criticism of the Condit boys as any family friend would, I suppose.

She suggested that I am an outsider who writes from a “perch” in Turlock as I’m some kind of pet bird and how I “shamelessly attacked” Ceres and her “neighborhood.” It’s telling, in her twisted interpretation of what I really wrote, that she never addressed the points I made in my column, only attacked me.

What my column piece said – and anyone can read online – is that it looked awfully suspicious that Couper Condit moved to a rental house in a neighborhood that’s less than desirable to the one he’s accustomed to living in, one month before the candidate filing period opened for Council District 4. We also know that the owners of that house are out-of-town Condit friends.

If I wasn’t concerned about Ceres and decisions being made for the betterment of its residents and less concerned about the political ambitions of a certain family, I wouldn’t bother. But I do care.

* * * * *

By the time this paper reaches you, the election will be over. Our early Tuesday deadline prevents us from including the results in this edition but we will be posting the results as we have them at our website,

This column is the opinion of Jeff Benziger, and does not necessarily represent the opinion of The Ceres Courier. How do you feel about this? Let Jeff know at