Because I Miss Him

So much time, so VERY VERY missed – every day. You were here for dinner 7 years ago tonight, and I never saw you again.  I miss you and think of you so much,  Daddy! Today, and every day. …… So here’s my story again

 

Through the Door: 7 years Gone

I pull in the driveway just as the shadows are starting to lengthen and the afternoon is at its golden magical moment. Its been a long day and my feet are killing me. As I walk up the deck steps to the back door I don’t hear our two dogs barking – which is strange,  because they usually bark when a leaf blows by the window – never mind when they hear footsteps on the trex decking. But no matter – I’m tired. I open the door and take a step into the dim coolness of my kitchen – shedding my sweater as I walk in.

I’m greeted by Miss Nellie – our old greyhound, who lifts her head off the couch and grins at me, tail thumping. For a millisecond I accept this – then I freeze. Nellie’s been at the Rainbow Bridge for close to three years now.  Then I hear his voice behind me –  “What’s for supper, Donna Jean?”   Dad?  Oh, Daddy…. I spin around and RUN, fast as I can,  hugging him tightly. He’s real, and I’m not hallucinating.   “Take it easy kiddo”, he says, “I’m still recuperating. I just got the OK to drive again today.”  That’s when I know.  It’s June 6, 2007.  Its not the date I woke up to this morning – but when I stepped through my back door this afternoon it’s where I ended up.  And I’ve been given a rare gift.  One more last afternoon with my father.

I frantically try and think of any way to keep him at my house for as long as possible, as we chat about the girls and wait for them and my husband, to get home. Its surreal. My brain is telling me this isn’t possible, but oh, my heart…. my heart.  I don’t know how I manage to keep it together; as this great big lump of emotion in the center of my chest tries to work its way up my throat and explode out of me.  But I do keep it together, barely.  Dad doesn’t seem to notice. There’s so much I want to tell him, but can’t.    The crew gets home just as I think  I can’t stand any more and they prove a distraction.  I’m in for another shock – when I left them this morning they were 21 and 15. Now, they’re 14 and 8. We decide on pizza for dinner and Grandpa is highly encouraged to stay. As usual, the girls have him wrapped around their fingers,  and so he does.  I content myself watching him with them, remembering how much they mean/t to him and how much he loves/loved being their grandfather.

Time slows, I start to almost feel like this is normal – and then it suddenly accelerates as Dad gets ready to leave – he’s heading for an AA meeting – just like he did before. My heart sinks because I know he’s leaving and this is the last time I’ll see him – again. Don’t go Dad. Stay awhile. But the time arrives. I know it, and I know I can’t stop him.  I tell him unequivocally to take it easy – reminding him (as I follow him out to the car this time) that he has to see the surgeon before he goes back to mowing lawns and landscaping. But I know it won’t make any difference.   There really are no do-overs. What was, was. What is, is. And what will be, will be. The timeline is locked in, and on June 7, 2007 he will have a massive heart attack while unloading his lawn mower at a clients house and he will pass away before I can get to the hospital to say goodbye.   “I know,” he says.  “Love you.  Sayonara, Kemosabe.  Keep the Faith.”  “Bye Dad, I love you too!” And with that, he leaves – just like before.

As I turn and walk back up the driveway the light shifts back to golden for an instant.  I hear the dogs barking inside the house. I go back through the door again, back to my future. I smile through the tears I can now let loose –  because I got my chance to say goodbye, after all.

Growing Up, and Letting Go.

Thought I would post these today, with permission of course.  Time slips away and these moments are gone before you realize it.  Thank You Baby Girl – for allowing me to save them and share them. You’re beautiful!  May 3, 2014

There are no words, really… but I’ll try…

I am feeling inadequate this evening. Also very sad, and very, very horrified.  Mr Delbert Belton, an 89 year old veteran of the Battle of Okinawa during WWII has tragically been beaten to death by two individuals who aren’t worth the amount of time it takes to type their names. I am absolutely incensed by the fact that a member of the Greatest Generation has been horrifically murdered by two members of the Worst Generation – the worst generation EVER.  The Gimme Generation.  I’m not gonna play a race card here (draw your own conclusions folks) But seriously  I DON’T CARE what your income level is, or what color skin you have. There is a standard of decency and civilized behavior that must be maintained- and just because you don’t like white people does not give you the right to target and murder a defenseless old man.   Any more than just because you don’t like or trust black people gives you the right to profile, stalk, and shoot them in “self-defense”. This man did NOTHING to deserve what these two sub-humans did to him. Any more than Christopher Lane did to deserve getting shot in the back by 3 lazy good for nothing teenage idiots.

This man Delbert Belton – this Hero, sacrificed of himself so that future generations could live in freedom.  Think about it – if the Nazis had won the War does anyone believe that people of color; or of a different culture, would even still exist? Honestly, the crematoriums would still be burning if Hitler and his cronies had prevailed.   But if you do believe otherwise,  I have swampland in Arizona I can sell you on the dirt cheap.  Delbert Belton and his comrades fought for EVERYONE – and he ended up getting his head bashed in for it.  I wonder – whatever happened to respecting your elders? Hell, whatever happened to just plain respecting each other?   I think I might be able to tell you – but you probably either won’t like it, or just don’t want to hear it….

Its all about entitlement and enabling.  It’s about covetousness.  One of the biggie major sins the Ten Commandments talks about. Somehow, during our efforts to  assist others to better themselves, those we have tried to help have got the idea that they are entitled to what the rest of us have actually worked for. And we help them to validate this by buying into the “race card” idiocy. Which – to be fair – isn’t always idiocy…. But – Tell me, please – since when does decent, caring human behavior come with a color?   A person is a person is a person. If we truly want to have a dialogue and work towards a resolution of prejudice and racism then we have to agree  AND ENFORCE a minimum standard of humanistic behavior towards our fellow man.  This does NOT include beating someone’s brains out – just so we are clear.  No exceptions or excuses.  Excuses are where we get bogged down; where we get foggy.   Here are some statistics:

48.5% of African American children are growing up without a father ( in a single parent family) http://www.withoutafather.com/facts.php  A severely disproportionate number of victims, suspects,and arrest-ees are African American – in New York City at least, as of 2012. http://www.nyc.gov/html/nypd/downloads/pdf/analysis_and_planning/crime_and_enforcement_activity_jan_to_jun_2012.pdfI I have been informed ancedotally that up to 70% of violent crime is committed by African American males between the ages of 16 and 21.  Are the rest of us wrong to be wary?  No.  Wrong to profile – absolutely yes.  But in the case of Mr Belton – Its quacking just like a duck – and loudly. This case, and the Lane case in OK, unfortunately quite solidly reinforced the stereotype.  And guess what? If you don’t want to be thought of and treated like a gangsta thug – STOP ACTING LIKE ONE!

How do we assist  single mothers to raise their sons to respect life, respect humanity – in all its diverse plumage? I don’t think we do it by throwing 50K a year (in MA) non-taxable benefits at them.  ( thats just me though and just so y’all know that’s a LOT more than I make annually!) Delbert Belton was an 89 year old widower and military veteran with nothing of value other than his dignity and a Purple Heart. Why did he become a target?  I think perhaps because we are raising a society that has no empathy, no connection to one another, no moral compass. I don’t dislike anyone based on the color of their skin. I dislike them for the demonstration of their lack of character; their lack of humanity, their stupid sense of self-entitlement, and their complete disregard for the value of life.  As John Mellencamp wrote: “Its what you do and not what you say – if you’re not part of the future, then get out of the way!”    This man was literally defenseless – and yet somehow two lowlife thugs who have extensive juvenile records for assault amongst other things – thought it appropriate to beat him with flashlights until he died. The future holds no place for ignorance, intolerance, disrespect, and injustice. Read a Book, Get Educated, Be Aware, , Ask Questions, Speak Out, Be Responsible.

At some point we need to put aside the racial baggage and start fresh – a clean slate – with the idea that all of us have intrinsic value and that no one should be a target of violence simply because their skin is a different color.  There has to be a standard of proper behavior for humanity.  Not one standard for one group, not an excuse for another. Until there is one standard for all, until the murder of any one person causes everyone to be outraged, until equality means we all play by the same rules – we are, and will continue to be – in a lot of trouble. So if you can’t play by the rules on the field – you should be ejected from the game. We can even provide housing for you – its called prison.  We can achieve true equality much easier if we hold everyone to the same standard.  Delbert Belton’s generation understood this – fought and won a war for it in fact.  And, if we don’t start seriously addressing this problem, Mr Belton will have died for less than nothing.  I, for one, will not stand for that.   Rest in Peace Mr Belton.  You are honored, and will be missed.  #JusticeForDelbertBeltonvet24n-1-web

Stream of Consciousness and Relationships

Greetings All!  I have been away for awhile here, attending to things at Hacienda Del Chaos. (aka My Life) July was insanely busy with amazing social events, including but not limited to 2 weddings and a family reunion. Then I also managed to get sick; which as my British friends might say, took the starch right out of my knickers.  The amount of tired I have been is unmeasurable.  We also have several extended family members who are quite ill at the moment.  Last summer was much worse in terms of stress and  family illness  – but I could certainly do with  less of that this year – and all the years to come. Sadly, I am also sure that will not prove to be the case…..

I have been too busy or worn out to feed my muse lately and she has begun screaming at me so I think it past time to unlock her from the padded cell again,  😉  I do feel better – connected and grounded somehow, when I write or work on my photography.  So this  post is going to be about whatever pops into my head – just so I can get back into the swing of things.    The girls have been busy this summer spending less time at home and giving us a dress rehearsal for the empty nest looming on the horizon.  Not sure I’m liking this, but it definitely serves as a prod for me to develop and nurture my hobbies and interests. Hello!  I will need something to do when they move, right?   I may be entering some photography contests or local exhibitions during fair season this fall – not sure yet.

Back side of the Sunset August 2013

Back side of the Sunset August 2013

So what keeps us going when life gets so busy?  I find myself more and more just moving through my daily routine without much active thought. My goal is getting through the day so I can collapse on my couch or in my bed at the end of it – thankful to have a place to lay my head down.  If I have to guess in a word, I would say the answer is “Relationships”  That connection to others.  And relationships are hard work.  Like gardening, we need to water and feed – develop, maintain, and enhance. Sometimes, we also weed and prune; reassess , re-categorize, or just move on.

Most always, the process of staying connected takes relatively little time –  a shout out text or email; a quick note or phone call;  a sit down dinner, a sofa or pillow conversation is  generally all that’s needed to maintain the status quo.  ‘Whats up with you? Hows it going?’ and then listening. Generally, the person on the receiving end of your communique will be delighted that you thought of them and glad to hear from you. I do try to stay connected to my friends and family regularly.  Most often, this involves a phone call, but texts and emails  work as well.  My immediate family ( The Viking and The Girls – we are all pretty good with the communication dept for the most part) So what happens when things break?  When you send those texts/emails and make phone calls/leave voicemails and hear nothing back for weeks at at time (if ever)? This is especially hurtful if you value that relationship considerably.  Or, you drift so far away from someone you don’t know how to  reconnect – or even if you should?

Let me tell you a true story.  I had a dear friend at one point a few years ago.  A long time friend.  The type of friend you speak with every morning before work, and generally chatted with several other times during the week as well. The kind of friend you were matron of honour for at her wedding. Whose daughter is your goddaughter and who was flower girl at your own wedding. We had our arguments, but patched things up fairly quickly all in all.  Her dad got sick with that long slow journey into darkness (the dreaded A- word) and she moved in with him to take care of him. I had issues with my family, including the death of my father in 2007 as well. She and her husband came to the wake.  Our daily conversations became weekly, then sporadic, then practically non-existent.  I’d periodically think  “I really have to call her and catch up”, but something always came up that needed my attention immediately, and by the time I thought about it again it was well past an acceptable time to pick up the phone. At the time, mornings with a high schooler and a middle schooler were (and probably still are) not conducive to telephone conversations  – so our former pattern was not an option.   Then, I ran into her daughter and granddaughter at the Christmas Tree Lighting at the Town Square a few years back. I asked her how her mom was, and how her grandfather was doing.  She looked at me funny, and then told me Pop had died the previous year.  I was dumbfounded. No one had told me, and I don’t get the paper or read obituaries online.  Of course, karma being what she is , I turn around after mumbling some very embarrassed and extremely belated condolences, and my friend was standing right behind me…. I offered my condolences again, saying I’d no idea he’d passed away. They were accepted quite frostily – and that, as they say,  was that. Can’t say I blame her on that one.  I run into her daughter occasionally and we chat.  I do miss my friend, but I have absolutely no idea how to fix this one – or at this point if it is beyond a fix and I should just continue moving on….  The whole situation saddens me immensely.

In other relationships, for example – the actions of my toxic monster in law; and the sister in law I’ve never met in the 29 years I’ve been with my husband; have made the choice to stay away from them  super easy- breezy.  I guess there’s always at least a few in every family. And conversely – in every family I’m sure there are members we would love to stay in closer touch with – but for whatever reason(s) we are not.   I would be interested to see how you all address these issues, particularly with a view to reestablishing and reaffirming broken connections with valued others. So please feel free to comment, and take my poll!

After the Storm Comes the Sunshine - and the Rainbows

After the Storm Comes the Sunshine – and the Rainbows

Happy Birthday America!

I am posting this as a birthday wish. I wish we could treat everyone equally, with respect, with dignity, and with courtesy. Every day.  This young woman illustrates the best in us.  Blind and developmentally disabled – she soars – and becomes the most able. There is hope, but we have to – we MUST – work at it. Happy Birthday everyone, love and light to all!

Road Trip

There’s something to be said for seeing the country the old fashioned way.  I’ve been in the mood to take a road trip for quite some time and was fortunate enough to both get some time off to do so, and to have a friend willing to give me a destination point. There’s a connected-ness that happens when you put wheels on the road.  Very distinct, and much much different from air travel.  I’m always a little off balance when I arrive in a city by air ; and that’s not just due to my inner ear pressure being scrambled.  Travel by car allows me to experience the places I travel through directly; and allow my mind and body to acclimate.

Let me talk for a minute about the interstate highways.  Arguably, one of the most significant achievements of the Eisenhower Administration.

Dwight D. Eisenhower photo portrait.

Dwight D. Eisenhower photo portrait. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

He signed the Federal-Aid Highway Act on June 29, 1956.   American lives have not been the same since.  At this point our future as the United States was about to become a reality. (Coincidentally for you trivia buffs – Marilyn Monroe married Arthur Miller in White Plains, New York on that very evening)   There’s not an item you have that has not traveled on an interstate highway to get to you – thanks to the truck drivers of America.

As a child of the 60’s and 70’s I can’t remember a time when one was not able to travel on the interstate. My mom can tell you stories of literally all day drives to get from southwestern MA to upstate Vermont taking what we now call “the back roads” all the way. You can still take back roads anywhere but with the interstate, why bother? You can get there much quicker on the highway.  That said, there’s something very pleasurable to me in driving myself somewhere; and experiencing the sights, sounds and smells of each region.  My car wheels roll and hum on the roadway; the tires softly thudding at predictable intervals as they cross the thin lines dividing each section of pavement.  My navigator and sidekick for this adventure – my fourteen year old daughter.  Our destination:  The Blue Ridge Mountains and the Shenandoah Valley – Virginia.

Our GPS guided path took us south through Connecticut and into New York City on the I-95. A hot concrete and chrome fast/slow crush – smelling of exhaust fumes and faintly, low tide.  The City Proper – hazily visible to our left under thundery skies.  The Freedom Tower a beautiful soft focus exclamation point on the mid-afternoon skyline. Next, the crowded hustle and bustle of Newark NJ and the Garden State Parkway.  Everything’s close together and moving fast.

Things slow down and spread out as we reach Pennsylvania on I-78.  Farm country, the Lehigh Valley. Rolling hills divided by neat white fences that  enclose single and twin siloed red barns. Barns with stone foundations that seem to come straight up from the ground itself.  White farmhouses with wraparound porches. Everything neat – spic and span; as the saying goes. The first haying has come and gone, the second, now rolled up and drying on the fields. Horses and cows graze contentedly in green gold pastures.  Closer to the road, fence lines are covered with fuzzy, dusty pink flowers,

Some of those dusty pink fuzzy flowers along the roadside.

Some of those dusty pink fuzzy flowers along the roadside.

wild roses, and creeping vines.  Thunderstorms are coming in from west to east and it rains on us sporadically. It also creates splendid cloudscapes as the afternoon sun  lowers behind them.  We stop for a break, and I’m struck  by how similar things are on and around the interstate.  Mile-high signs announcing food, fuel, and lodging. Restaurant and Hotel chains providing the same services all up and down the road.  There’s a standard level of service on the interstate; which gives the traveler a sense of stability as they go along their merry ways.

We resume after refueling ourselves – and the car, and as we leave Pennsylvania behind crossing the Delaware and the Mighty Susquehanna, I am suddenly aware of a difference in the air quality. It’s become softer.  The thunderstorms have now tracked well to our east, but continue to provide a spectacular sky show to my left – as the late afternoon sun turns the line of massive thunderhead tops berry-pink with alpen-glow; with bruised purple foundations underneath. A dramatic, stunning backdrop for the farms dotting the low hills.  On I-81 now, we arrive in Virginia where the air seems even softer and smells sweeter.  I later discover that the scent is a luscious, heavenly combination of honeysuckle and sweet pea.  The Blue Ridge Mountains live up to their name as the sun sets behind the last ridge in Virginia in a purple, gold, and peach blaze of glory. Getting off the highway, we now take the back road directly to my friend’s house. On the way, a white tailed deer is grazing by the side of the road. We slow down to take a look and startle her into bounding off – back into the woods.  It was a nice “a-ha” moment to appreciate.

After arriving at  TL’s house, we settle in and relax, chatting up a storm with her and her son Ceej.  Getting to know the rest of the family – the cats: Miss Katie Scarlett, Paul Newman, Jack Sparrow, and Gandalf. And the dogs: Ruby Thewes and Miss Daisy. (TL has an affinity for literary characters). Mayhem and I felt welcome and at home; bonding with the entire cast of characters instantly.   I  doubt TL and I stopped talking the whole time we visited.  It was great fun.  Next post will be about our profoundly affecting trip to the Civil War Battlefield of New Market  – with pictures – and then later, our trip home.

To end this particular post, I thought I would leave you with a list of my favorite “Road/Road Trip” movies.  What are some of yours? And, do you have a favorite recollection of a road trip you might like to share?

  • Duel (1971)
  • Easy Rider (1969)
  • Electra Glide in Blue (1973)
  • To Wong Foo, Thanks for Everything. Julie Newmar (1995)
  • The Gumball Rally (1976)
  • Thelma and Louise (1991)
  • Psycho (1961)
  • It Happened One Night (1934)
  • The Wild One (1954)
  • The Long, Long Trailer (1954)
  • Smokey and The Bandit (1977)
  • Speed (1994)
  • From Dusk to Dawn (1996)

Is it Just Me, or What? Community, Neighborhoods and Crime…

I’m not feeling safe. There seems to be a spike in violent crime in my city and more importantly my neighborhood lately. A home invasion less than 3 blocks from my house,  a domestic/drug related shooting literally behind the parking lot of my youngest’s elementary school less than a mile from the house (and a neighborhood wide lock down complete with staties and K-9 patrols while the suspect was at large) And just last night an 18 yr old drug dealer stabbed a 30 yr old downtown – also less than a mile from the house.  The Viking was walking the dogs in that area literally minutes before the incident.  I think he dodged a proverbial bullet. Having the dogs with him probably provided him with a measure of safety – or at least distance.  See below for links to the related articles.

Last summer the Viking was awoken to the sound of Sophie and her “Big Girl”,  “I Mean Business” bark.  He checked around and didn’t find anything or anyone. But the next morning he noticed the living room window screen had been completely slit through at the bottom.  Good Girl Soph!  Two summers ago we had a rash of break ins in the neighborhood where women’s pocketbooks left in their kitchens were rifled through and money/credit cards stolen.  Please note: this is a very blue collar neighborhood and section of town.  We aren’t well off by any means and we ALL work very hard for what we do have. Not sure why these neighborhoods are being targeted – other than propinquity.  And if that’s the case then the offenders have obviously never listened to the old adage about not pooping where you dine.   Our dogs provide at the very least a good alarm system but frankly I do worry about my Mom and Stepdad down the street, and others in the area who either can’t afford an alarm system or don’t have a dog.

For years now, I’ve kind of scoffed at my mother for locking her doors during daylight hours when she is home – but I am now seeing the great sense in this. Most of my life I’ve been relatively fearless after taking reasonable precautions.   These days, I’m feeling much more insecure.  Is it aging?  I’m certainly not 25 – but I am in much better health than I was at 40 – so maybe?  Or maybe not. These are our streets, and I would like to be able to sit on my front stoop and watch the world go by – without thinking that every person walking by my house might be casing the joint.  Not that I have anything in here valuable enough to steal – but still…. its mine.

Is this type of crime an unintended consequence of the current generation’s sense of “self entitlement” ? In other words, “I want it, don’t care if its not mine, I’m taking it….” Are we not teaching our children proper boundaries?  Does it harken back to valuing things that are worked for; not handed out?  I’m taking an educated guess here, but I’d say yes to all of the above.  And these days  I often think we are more focused on blaming circumstances /bad parenting etc than on holding offenders accountable for their actions.  If you break the law, there are consequences, period.  That’s the way it should be anyway.  Too often theres too many excuses and not enough restitution or justice.

Which brings me to another point: If greater pride was taken by the neighborhood community perhaps the crime rate would decrease.  So:   How do we instill a sense of pride in our neighborhoods when we barely speak to our neighbors? The Northeast has a pretty frigid reputation when it comes to being neighborly. The lack of fluency in English makes it difficult to communicate well with the increasing number of immigrants in the area. They are often not willing to embrace “American” culture, either. They certainly do not trust the police.   Hardly anyone on my street allows trick or treaters at Halloween anymore – the kids have to go outside the neighborhood.  Another good example is our neighbors across the street hanging their laundry – including unmentionables on the shrubbery in front of their houseQuite the eyeful as I sat here on my front porch, I must say. Repeated requests from all the neighbors went unheeded (a communication issue perhaps), but finally our community police officer had to tell  them in no uncertain terms to hang their laundry in their backyard…. But anyway – we are isolated in our home bubbles.  Going to work each day, coming home, doing our yard work and chores etc and focusing internally.  I  have never ever been to a block party or community party in my neighborhood, and I only know my neighbors a few houses up or down the street on either side.  Which is kind of sad, and admittedly at least partially my fault.

So here’s what I AM going to do.  Continue being nice, first.  It costs nothing to smile after all.  Increase my vigilance and awareness of whats going on in the neighborhood. Including getting out for walks with the Viking and the puppies more often.  The more familiar I am with things, the more likely I am to spot something out of whack. I’ll be checking on our elderly neighbors.  And lastly – we’ll be making sure the canine alarm system stays healthy, and will definitely be locking our doors even when we are home during the day. Any other suggestions or comments would be  most appreciated. Thanks all!