Caleb North, R.I.P.

My son, the youngest of my four children, age 24, died sometime in the last two weeks. His body was found on Sunday, February 4 in his apartment, which is 250 miles from my home. He died of natural causes — very strange natural causes. If anyone you know suffers from the following symptoms, that person should take this very seriously.

He suffered from an affliction that was not able to be diagnosed during his lifetime. (I await the coroner’s report.) We took him to neurologists, chiropractors, standard physicians, and alternative health care physicians. There were blood tests. Nothing. No one had seen anything like his affliction.

About four years ago, he complained of a tingling sensation in the back of his heels. Month by month, the tingling spread up the back of his legs. Within a year, he began suffering terrible upper body spasms. He could control them to some degree by sticking his fist in the small of his back and pressing against a chair. He also fought the spasms constantly by contracting his back muscles before the spasms occurred. By the end of his life, he was sleeping only 3 to 4 hours a night.

When a physician or chiropractor would put him on a diagnostic table, the upper half of his body would sometimes snap upright. In every case, the health care practitioner said, “I have never seen anything like this.”

The spasms continued upward to his neck-head area last year.

In November, he was at the library. He collapsed. He had spasms on the floor, unconscious. They called the paramedics, who took him to the hospital. It is a large, regional facility. They ran a CT-scan and other diagnostics. They found nothing. They sent him home.

He could not eat much. At six feet three, he weighed about 140 pounds — sometimes less. He had wasted away.

He did not complain at any time during these years. He tried to stay in college, despite the fact that he could not sleep well and would miss his scheduled assignments. He was very smart. He finally gave up last semester, acknowledging that he could no longer function physically in that schedule-intensive environment. He conducted himself well, although at the end, he did not want to see any more physicians.

A month ago, he was on a bus where the driver had a seizure and collapsed. My son got to the steering wheel, guided the bus to the curb, and called 9-11 on his cell phone to summon the paramedics. A local TV station wanted to interview him. He declined. I thought that was the right decision at the time. Now, I wish he had. I would like a copy of the tape.

I named him Caleb because in the book of Joshua, Caleb lived to a ripe old age and remained on the job. Such was not to be in his life.

On my 25th birthday, my grandmother told me, “You’ll be 30 before you know it.” I knew this was true even then. I will turn 65 on Sunday. On his 25th birthday, I had planned to tell Caleb what my grandmother told me. Such was not to be in his life.


If anyone ever asks you “What’s so good about capitalism?” tell him this: Capitalism has made it possible for most of our children to survive the killer diseases and accidents that two centuries ago killed 30% or more of all children before they reached adulthood.

Our children bury us. Most of us do not bury our children. I know of no greater blessing in the modern world. It is a blessing not known throughout most of man’s history. Be grateful for it. We take it for granted.

My former pastor, novelist Henry Coray, who died in his nineties a few years ago, over 40 years ago said this in a sermon. “Until the day that God has pre-ordained before history began that we are to die, we are immortal. On that special day, we are inescapably dead.” He said this to increase our courage under fire.

It also helps cut off that inevitable but unanswerable question: “Why?” The correct answer is: “That’s My exclusive business.”

The secret things belong unto the LORD our God: but those things which are revealed belong unto us and to our children for ever, that we may do all the words of this law (Deuteronomy 29:29).

This leads me to my final four points, which I offer for your careful consideration.

But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us (Paul’s epistle to the Romans, chapter 5, verse 8).

For the wages of sin [are] death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord (Romans 6:23).

And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose (Romans 8:28).

So when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory. O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory? (1 Corinthians 15:54—55)

(Instead of sending an email of condolence to me, call your kids and tell them you think they are terrific. Be specific as to why. It will help them work on their good points. The older they are, the less you can do about their bad points. Put your effort where it counts.)

February6, 2007

Gary North [send him mail] is the author of Mises on Money. Visit He is also the author of a free 19-volume series, An Economic Commentary on the Bible.

Copyright © 2007