Friday, November 7, 2014
Thursday, November 6, 2014
When I was in school--back in the Dark Ages--girls had to wear dresses to school. They had to be of a certain length (which you often negated by rolling the waistband a time or two when you got on the bus). On my 5th Day of Gratitude, I'm thankful for pants--jeans, sweatpants, even dress pants--because they are WARM.
Wednesday, November 5, 2014
Tuesday, November 4, 2014
On my 3rd day of Gratitude, I'm thankful that I voted (less than 100 years ago women couldn't) and that I got to listen to Chris Botti's rendition of the national anthem that I missed last night. Being a day late did nothing to lessen the joy of the hearing.
Monday, November 3, 2014
I don't necessarily agree with Brittany Maynard's decision, but since I haven't walked in her shoes, I'm certainly not going to judge her. My sympathy is with her family, particularly her mother, who just suffered the worst loss there is. On my 2nd day of Gratitude, I'm thankful Oregon provided a safe place for Ms. Maynard to "go gently into that good night" as opposed to having to fight a battle she no longer wanted to fight.
Sunday, November 2, 2014
Friday, June 6, 2014
I wrote this…oh, a couple of years ago, when I realized that in a few areas, I’d fallen off the fence I usually make my home. But it was 46 years ago today that Bobby Kennedy died. I remember the day, how I felt. Because at first I felt hopeless with him gone. There wasn’t anyone else in politics who listened, who wanted the good of all. But the hopelessness didn’t last, because he was all about hope.
I never wanted to be a liberal. Truth be told, I never wanted to be political at all. It’s all Bobby Kennedy’s fault, because way back in the 1960s, he made me think all things were possible. For everybody.
It’s that “everybody” part that got me.
In case you don’t know anything about me, I am a stereotype to end all stereotypes. I’m Christian, white, straight, married, and retired. You know those people who say they worked their butts off for 40 years and now it’s their turn to sit on them and draw their “entitlement?” — I’m one of them.
I love Christmas for all the “right” reasons — I love the Lord, peace on earth, good will toward men — and the “wrong” ones — I love presents, parties, and Christmas songs. My clothing and the stuff in my house is traditional. I drive an SUV. I am happy to be an American and I’m proud of it, too, though … oh, good Lord, do I think we have problems!
Most of them, I’m prone to believe, have to do with two things: (1) Greed. And, no, I’m not going to explain that one. If you don’t get it on your own, you’re not going to, and (2) People are always mad at other people. For such a myriad of reasons it would be silly to make a list.
However, besides being a stereotype, I occasionally step across the line from sane to silly in a heartbeat. Or a keystroke if you want to get literal about it. So here’s my list of why I think people are mad at others:
- Because the other person is of the wrong religion. (This one includes no religion at all.)
- Because the other person is of the wrong color, nationality, or ethnicity. (A really big umbrella — it probably deserves more than one number, but I’m trying to keep this list reasonable.)
- Because the other person is of the wrong sexual orientation.
- Wrong gender.
- Wrong profession.
- Wrong neighborhood.
- Wrong political party. (This includes, besides the official party designations, conservative and liberal. While I’m pretty much a liberal — thanks a lot, Bobby — I’m not really a democrat and I doubt I’m the only one who’s tired of being told she is.)
- Wrong tax bracket. Yes, I’m serious. I’m part of the begging-for-relief middle class — you think I’m not mad?
- Wrong age.
Well, I was going to go for an even ten, but I couldn’t think of anyone else to be mad at right now. You can make your own list.
As usual, I seem to have swerved slightly from where I started this little soliloquy — okay, I’ve veered wildly and may get arrested for writing while incensed — so I guess I’ll try to connect the middle to the beginning and see if I can arrange an end.
Back to me being a liberal. And a stereotype. And mad. (I don’t think I’m greedy, so I’m leaving that out.)
I don’t believe there’s anything wrong with being mad at people because they are different from us. Well, actually, I do, but I’m trying to be realistic here — are you going to be less mad because I tell you it’s wrong? Where we run into those problems I mentioned earlier is when we try to hurt the ones we’re mad at. I feel another list coming on, but I’m going to see if I can avoid that.
In truth, most of us probably don’t intend to do harm. Other than the bullies of the world, who do of course want to hurt everyone except their own closed circle of cronies. It’s what they do.
Some conservative groups want to deny basic civil rights to gay people. And women. And people of retirement age. And children. White supremacists think “white is right.” Some black activists think just the opposite. There are people in the world who think what happened on Nine-Eleven was okay, that we “deserved” it. There are Christians who think the doors to the house of God should be closed to ones whose beliefs don’t exactly mirror theirs. There are atheists and agnostics who think the word God — complete with a capital G — should be drummed out of, well, everything. There are feminists who think if you don’t believe in late-term abortion, you’re not a real feminist. There are … well, crap, it’s another list, isn’t it? And it’s way too long.
Good grief, are we all bullies? The “everybody” that Bobby Kennedy made me believe deserved All Things Are Possible? Can that be?
Maybe we are. Maybe realizing that would be a good first step. Maybe if each of us did our own little part to fix it — look inside yourself, dummy, not at the “wrong” people — that would be an even better second step. Maybe …
Monday, May 19, 2014
It’s Sunday afternoon when I write this, and the sun is almost out. How nice it is after two weeks of unremitting gloom. As it grows lighter outside, I grow lighter inside as well. Which is odd when you consider what I’ve been thinking about.
We all see a lot of it in our lifetimes. When we’re young and if we’re lucky, we see it from afar. We see old people die and it’s too bad, but...you know, they’re old. Then, of course, comes the time when it’s not from afar and the person who passes on isn’t old. This is when we really find out about grief.
My grandmother died when I was seven, and even though it felt strange that she wouldn’t sit at the table and drink from her cracked cup anymore, she was eighty-four. So I didn’t grieve. Not really, though to this day, I think of Grandma Shafer when I see a cracked coffee cup. Then when I was eleven, a 10-year-old schoolmate died. Fifty years later, I still feel profound sorrow when I think of her. She was smart and funny and had so much to give here on earth that even now I have difficulty coming to terms with her death. But I couldn’t identify the feelings I had about her passing, couldn’t explain the tears that came to my eyes for years whenever I thought about Cindy being buried with her red cowboy boots.
When I was thirteen, I lost the only grandfather I’d ever known, and the hurt came in waves, like the throbbing from a bee sting. He died in June, and by the time school started, I’d gotten over the worst of it, but junior high was different than it might have been. Because grief wasn’t far away anymore.
I’ve thought about it, off and on over the years. When my parents and father-in-law died, it hurt, but the grief part of it was far-flung, long lasting, and unexpected. Life was so busy--we came home from
after my father-in-law’s viewing
to go to my son’s football game, then went back the next day for the
funeral--that it just went on. I would
see things, of course, that made me think of the parents we’d lost, and I kept
Christmas-shopping for my mother long after she was gone. She was always hard to buy for, and I’d see
things she’d like. And then, in the
middle of J. C. Penney or Kmart, I would mourn, because I couldn’t give them to
We often drive by the cemetery where my parents are buried. Sometimes we are past before I even think about it and occasionally I wave--“Hi, Mom”--and sometimes those bee sting waves of hurt strike again. They’ve been gone for nearly 30 years; how can this be?
Sometimes we grieve for things--items irreplaceable but gone, or times--youth, when everything worked right and gravity was our friend, or even places--remember the Roxy and the railroad hospital and those spooky mansions on North Broadway? Now and then it is a state of mind we miss, or a conversation we wish could have gone on longer, or a friendship we wish we could go back and fix because we blew it big time.
I write a lot about gifts because, being the Pollyanna sort of person that I am, I think nearly everything is a gift. While I realize that this can be annoying to people who get tired of trying to be happy when they’re just not, I find it much nicer than being unhappy when I don’t have to. (Don’t even try and straighten that sentence out—you can’t do it.) But even I’ve never considered grief a gift. Until now.
Because until you love somebody or something, you can’t grieve losing them. I wouldn’t still miss my mother if she hadn’t had such a positive and profound effect of my life. I wouldn’t remember Cindy’s red cowboy boots if I didn’t recall their owner with affection. I wouldn’t smile at cracked coffee cups if not for the grandmother who died when I was seven.
The buildings and the times and the friendships that are gone all leave remembrances and, in many cases, laughter, behind them. So, even though the Roxy is gone, I remember watching
there and singing along, “...one, two, three, what are we fighting for...” And although the high school now climbs the
Broadway hill in Peru, I remember walking quickly past the railroad hospital
because it was scary looking. It is fun
to remember that. Woodstock
I remember boys who went to
. None of them were still boys when they came
home, and some didn’t come home at all.
A part of me—and of everyone else who remembers the Vietnam era—mourns
them still. But another part remembers
how tall they walked and all that they gave.
There was one who seemed stronger and better than the others and though
I’m still sorry he had to go there and I regret the 14 months of his life he
can never get back, I’m happy he came home safe. And married me. Vietnam
So there you have grief. It tangles up with memories and joy and good things. It is, when all is said and done, a gift.
Till next time.