People always say that…”before it’s too late”…when they want you to reconcile with loved ones…long lost…or never found. It’s like turning a screw that’s in place, but wobbly for whatever reason. Some folks like to tighten things up before…the end.
I’m not one for artificiality. I don’t do things…just because. It has to feel organic…for me.
In the good old days families did everything together. They witnessed the births of newborn kin…and in the Catholic faith, the one to which I subscribe…there were First Communions and Confirmations. Graduations and Weddings were a cause for great celebration. And holidays were when extended family came together to catch up.
These days it’s a rarity that one is on hand for all the births, graduations and weddings that occur in a family. Modern day families have wandered far and wide in search of the proverbial “pot of gold.” Trying to make it back to the family homestead, if it even still exists, can cost a small fortune. It’s been a long time since we’ve traveled by horse and buggy. Have you noticed?
If you were lucky, or not…as the case might be…to have parents and siblings nearby when you started your own family, then your children grew up with grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins. Family connectivity remained intact. Everyone knew everything there was to know about one another. It was either a good thing…or a bad thing. Whatever the case, there was an attachment of sorts.
When you haven’t lived in the vicinity of family members for years at a time, the only attachment that remains for many…is blood. And while a pint or two of blood can save a life, it’s not enough to reconstruct those lost years. The most you can do with what’s left is accept the fact that things are…just fine.
My brother Ed and I were the last born in my family. Having spent more time with him than any other of my 8 siblings, I know him best. I experienced good times, and bad, with him and my mom, a widow. He and I also spent some time together when I moved to the mainland after we were both married. We lived in distant states, so our families only saw each other every now and then.
The thing that will always connect me to Ed is that we had some really great times. We cried together; we laughed together. We respected each other, never dictating what either of us should or shouldn’t do. I never felt he was less for not having gone to college. In fact, I admire his having learned the computer trade by apprenticing with those willing to teach him. But then he soared to higher levels on his own initiative.
I miss joking around with Ed. He lives on the other side of the continent, some 3,000 miles away. I may never see my brother again, for life has a way of…getting in the way. Nonetheless, the times we shared remain fixed in my memory. And isn’t that what we should cherish the most?
Forcing change is not my style. I wouldn’t expect others to make room for me in their lives just because death is at hand. Rather, I would prefer they live happily with those who have helped create lasting memories over all the years they were blest to be together. To my way of thinking…
My husband, daughter and I had a good chuckle reminiscing about those times when I was…well…a little less pulled together than I would have liked. In fact my daughter offered up her memory of another time when I nearly burned the house down. Different house…a decade or so after my first fiasco with the stove in my Long Island home.
Seems I had begun prepping for dinner. I’d lit the burner under a frying pan in which I’d poured some oil. My daughter, in elementary school at the time, called from the nearby dining room. She had a question about her homework. Attentive mother that I was, I went to see how I could help.
Of course you know how the rest of the story goes…
Minutes later, I returned to find a fire had started in the frying pan. Its flames were reaching upwards toward the 9 foot ceiling. What was it they taught me in Girl Scouts? Whatever it was, I couldn’t get my befuddled brain to think straight. My eyeballs, however, were working overtime…bulging out of their sockets. And my mouth, according to my daughter, could only say one thing…”Oh shoot! Oh shoot! Oh shoot!” She remembers that because when I recounted this story to Carol, a close friend, she was amazed that I only said “Oh shoot!” and not something more colorful. But as I told my daughter, I held myself in check when she was young. Now that she’s 27…well…let’s just say I’m a lot more liberal-mouthed. My vocabulary has increased by leaps and bounds.
Not knowing what else to do, I did what I wasn’t suppose to…I took the frying pan to the sink. I don’t think I turned on the water, although I can’t be sure. The one thing my daughter and I both remember is that the curtains above the sink caught fire. Again, I don’t remember what I did about that. Except that whatever I did, the fire eventually petered out.
What didn’t subside, however, was the confounded smoke alarm. It blared and blared and blared. The ringing drove me nuts! No matter what I did to the thing it wouldn’t shut off. Between trying to stop its incessant noise and running around throwing open windows to let out the smoke which was rapidly accumulating throughout the house, I was a crazed woman.
At my wits ends, and worried that passersby would wonder at the commotion, I ripped the smoke alarm off the ceiling and flung it out the front screen door onto the lawn.
I have no idea what my poor child was doing while I ran around like a chicken with its head cut off. All I can say is thank goodness she has a funny bone like her dad, and can laugh at my antics. I think it’s safe to say she doesn’t intend to trade me in for another, saner mom anytime soon.
I guess you’re wondering if I called my husband at his office in NYC? No. I didn’t. Things were happening too fast and I was 10 years older, though not necessarily wiser. Perhaps the fact that I had someone else to think of, my daughter, made me depend upon my own resources, limited as they were. And after all, we were then living in Connecticut. Then again, being in another state, or country for that matter, hasn’t precluded my calling my husband for help. But those are other stories.
When my husband arrived home later that evening, he was surprised to find the smoke alarm laying on the grass…in pieces. My daughter was only too eager to relate the sordid details of the day to her dad, whose eyes grew as large as saucers as he listened. After a full accounting of the ugly event, my husband knew better than to chide me about my foolishness. The gleam in my eye warned him not to go there. Instead, he gave me a hug, and from the twinkling glint in his eyes I knew…
…my sentiments exactly! …SO BE HAPPY!!!
A post written by Candice at http://wrygrass.com/2013/08/28/fire-frenzy-and-calmness-in-a-fur-coat/ had me laughing…and thinking I’d found a soul sister.
Could it be that there’s another woman out there who lacks common sense? I thought for sure I was the only one. I’ve never admitted it before, but reading about Candace’s behavior in the face of a crisis empowered me to speak up. Until now, only those nearest and dearest to me knew the truth. At least…I hope so.
“Common sense” according to Webster’s is “sound practical judgement; normal native intelligence.”Well, I’ve never been practical and at times I’ve jokingly told my daughter that I was “aby-normal.”
If you’ve never seen “Young Frankenstein,” you should. When Gene Wilder asks his hunchback sidekick, Marty Feldman, whose brain he got for Frankenstein, Feldman replies “Aby someone.” Wilder asks “Aby who?” To which Felman says “Aby Normal.” I loved that line and have since borrowed it.
Now where was I? Oh, yes. I was talking about Candice and I being…birds of a feather…or chickens with their heads cut off…or Chicken Little running around crying “The earth is falling! The earth is falling!”
Like Candice, I had a run-in with my oven.
When I was in my late 20s living on Long Island with my hubby, I decided to take a sick day from work to bake up a Christmas gift for some friends. At the time I was heavily into making, and eating, chex mix snacks. Still in my flannel nightgown, I put my first batch into the oven and wandered off. Not long after, the smoke alarm started going off. Hurrying back to my teeny-tiny kitchen I was alarmed at the sight of a fire in the oven. In a state of panic I reached for the phone and dialed my husband at his office…in NYC. I stood out in the small, enclosed foyer talking to him as the fire continued to burn. Ever the practical one he told me to call 911 and get out of the house. I did as I was told, feeling slightly foolish standing in my snow-covered front yard with the phone cord stretched to the max as I dialed for help.
In no time the fire engines arrived…two, I think…with firefighters hanging off the sides and backs of the trucks. Of course the neighborhood was alerted by the sirens blasting, as if calling one and all to bear witness to my stupidity. I’m sure I wanted to find the closest mole hole and crawl inside with my heretofore sworn enemy…Mr. Mole himself.
The firemen stormed into the house, hatchets and fire hose in hand. Soon one of them emerged flinging my baking pan onto the lawn. All that remained of the chex mix was a charred blob. Meanwhile, the windows and doors of the house were thrown open to allow the billowing smoke to escape. I don’t recall if any water was used. I don’t think so. But with the passing of time I can only recall what I did…and didn’t do.
While I know this wasn’t the first time I pulled a humdinger of a boo-boo, it was the first of many, many stories my husband has loved retelling. Thank goodness he has a funny bone that runs the length of his body. If not, my marriage might not have lasted as long as it has…42 years.
Have you a “Chicken Little” story of your own to tell? Or are you…
…the one with the common sense?…
You think I jest? I wish I were.
My brother Ed was mistaken for a black man as he earned his keep with JOB CORPS, a federally funded government program for underprivileged youth. It didn’t help that his skin had turned its deepest shade of brown while digging ditches on the island of Kauai.
As he traveled on the mainland working temporary jobs during the 1960s, Ed was forced to sit in the back of the bus and use public restrooms designated…”blacks.”
Small wonder then, that my brother came to feel a strong kinship with African Americans. I don’t think he ever anticipated having to choose between the races, but since the choice was made for him, he embraced the black culture. And it embraced him right back.
Ed married into a black family, eventually fathering a daughter and a son. My husband and I witnessed first hand the loving warmth so readily offered by my brother’s extended family. They accepted us too as though we were…their own. I vividly recall…the laughter…the light-hearted teasing…the delicious aromas…the shared conversations of a family…not unlike the one in which I grew up.
Some 40+ years after moving to the mainland, Ed remains loyal to folks who welcomed him with open arms, loving him as a son, brother, nephew, cousin, uncle and father.
People, no matter the color of their skin, want the same thing…a job, a home, a family, and a life free of suppression. And with each new dawn…hope is rekindled that all these are possible.
Ed served in Vietnam, an experience which more than likely compounded his distrust of the status quo. Can you blame him?
You can rest assured my brother is no shrinking violet. Having earned a black belt in karate, he is as steely on the inside as he is on the outside. Like fathers everywhere however, Ed’s soft spot is his children.
Growing up black in America remains a hurdle which must be navigated with adroitness. Knowing my brother as I do, Leilani and Chris have had a determined master lead them through the thickets of racial prejudice with stealth and imagination.
My heart swells with pride when I recall all that Ed has had to overcome to own a small piece of the American dream. He may have gone the route less traveled, but he…
…let his heart lead the way…
My husband works for a major player in the travel industry, Carnival. Under its corporate umbrella are not only Carnival Cruises, but also Cunard, Holland America, Princess, Seabourn, Costa, as well as others with which I’m not as familiar.
For several days, and nights, my husband has been preparing, along with others in management, to receive Carnival’s new CEO.
I know nothing about the man except that he is…black.
Dr. Martin Luther King must be smiling down upon us from his heavenly perch. “Look at how far America has come”…he must be thinking…
…look at how far we have come…
Wow! Seems Claudia took the words…right out of my mouth!
...can’t think of another thing to add…
I subscribe to a few blogs where the author has broken out of their silent shell, finally finding a voice that is sparkling and true. It’s not easy sharing something as personal as one’s self ― especially if that “self” has been suppressed for longer than one can imagine. I appreciate their efforts to finally let the world know who they are.
I, on the other hand, suffer from Italktoomuchitis.
I don’t remember when I contracted this disease. It certainly wasn’t in grade school (too ugly), nor high school (too busy trying to get pinned). I worked in downtown Chicago for a PR department, but trust me, it was far from glamorous…or talkative. ( I was rather submissive in those days.) Found love, got married and had babies. I didn’t think of myself as overly verbal back then. But now I wonder — when did I become so…chatty?
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Tara’s post with accompanying YouTube video seems a fitting celebration on this the day, 50 years ago, when Dr. Martin Luther King announced to the world…”I have a dream…”
…if only…everyone cared…
“Sometimes the smallest step in the right direction ends up being the biggest step of your life. Tip toe if you must, but take the step.” Unknown
“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed, citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.” Margaret Mead
Dear Dr. King,
Your ears must be ringing since everyone’s been talking about you. The media has been playing your “I have a dream” speech over and over again.
One anecdote was of particular interest. It seems a pro basketball player who stood nearby asked if he might have your speech after you’d delivered it. Evidently you gave him the 3 pages, because he still has it.
I have no such memento of that historical day, or the faintest recollection of where I was when you spoke those famous words. It’s safe to say I probably felt as far removed from the black situation as I was the day you stood on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial. I was thousands of miles away on the island of Maui in Hawaii. You were changing history…and I didn’t bear witness.
But just as a pebble causes ever-widening ripples to occur when it hits the water’s surface, your words have affected generations of lives…for the better. And so it seems only fitting that I write you this long overdue thank you letter.
If you hadn’t stood tall for racial injustice I might not be living on…the right side of “white.”
I graduated from college, and with my degree was able to work alongside white colleagues in a number of different jobs.
My family and I have felt at home in neighborhoods predominantly populated by whites.
Our daughter has thrived in all white schools.
We can shop where we please. We can choose which theater to see a movie. We can dine where we like. We can use public restrooms without reservation. We can travel by plane, train or ship. We can overnight in a Hyatt or a Best Western. We can decide which services get our business be it the cable company, the dentist, or a contractor.
No one looks twice at my driver’s license picture. Retailers are only too happy to take my money. Pre-approved applications for credit cards always arrive in the daily mail.
What you did 50 years ago will continue to resonate until mankind ceases to exist.
I may have been born on the wrong side of white, but thanks to your dream of what could be…
…i’m living on the right side of white…
It’s been sometime since I’ve actually accepted an award. Not because I don’t want to, but because I’m not as adept at the intricacies of accepting as I’d like to be. However the time has come for me to jump back in the saddle, so to speak, and take this horse by the reigns, and gallop full speed ahead.
Stigma Hurts Everyone at http://stigmahurtseveryone.wordpress.com/ initiated the Word Press Family Award to help acknowledge those who have influenced our blogging in some way. So in no particular order are a few of the sites whose words have touched me. There are numerous others, of course, and I hope they know they are just as worthy as those who are mentioned.
believe anyway… http://believeanyway.wordpress.com/
figments of a dutchess… http://figmentsofadutchess.com/
pocket perspectives… http://pocketperspectives.wordpress.com/
the laughing mom… http://thelaughingmom.wordpress.com/
tiny lessons blog… http://tinylessonsblog.wordpress.com/
random thoughts from midlife… http://randomthoughtsfrommidlife.wordpress.com/
50 year project… http://50yearproject.wordpress.com/
jeanne’s blog… http://nolagirlatheart.wordpress.com/
chronicles of illusion… http://jobryantz.wordpress.com/
marcia clarke-la chica writes… http://lachicawrites.com/
living the seasons… http://livingtheseasons.wordpress.com/
tiny lessons blog… http://tinylessonsblog.com/
In celebration of life…my mother-in-law died September of last year…Poet Walt Whitman says it best…
not in another place, but this place,
not for another hour, but this hour.
…make the hours count…before the hour glass runs out of sand…
…our beloved dad…and grandpa john…who went before…
The dollhouse built for our daughter by her dad…and lovingly furnished with her mom’s help. Loving reminders of…a time that lives on in our memories…and our hearts.
…where has the time gone?…