…new “normal”…???

Politicians and the media are now calling gun massacres…the new “normal.” Unfortunately once our self-appointed mouthpieces put it out there, it sticks. Their favorite catch-all being…”the majority of Americans think.” I hate when they say that. None of them ever asked me for my opinion.

What’s scary is the fact that the new “normal” will become fodder for statistical data…namely racking up deaths of innocent folks in the wrong place at the wrong time. It’s like a death lottery with names appearing on a draft list of the unlucky ones.

I don’t mean to sound morbid, but those who poison the atmosphere with sensational rhetoric make light of a horrific anomaly.

Personally I think President Obama has the right attitude. His focus is upon solving problems as they occur. He’s done it time and again, beginning with the financial crisis at the start of his presidency almost 8 years ago. The President is a deliberate problem solver which unnerves those wanting instant gratification which, in our current society, is just about everyone.

Since it first exploded on U.S. soil in 2011, terrorism has metamorphosed into what we are now witnessing…”mom and pop” type store fronts popping up willy-nilly all over the place. What Trump and others like him seem to overlook is that these types of terrorists have proliferated among us in the guise of white men, mostly young. Lee Harvey Oswald killed President Kennedy. James Earl Ray killed Martin Luther King. Sirhan Sirhan killed Robert Kennedy. Mark David Chapman killed John Lennon. John Hinckley tried to assassinate President Reagan.

Then, of course there was Columbine, Sandy Hook, the Arizona Safeway attack…which almost took the life of Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords…and the Umqua, Oregon shooting. In these mass shootings James Eagan Holmes, Adam Lanza, Jared Lee Loughner and Christopher Harper-Mercer were considered societal misfits. Their cases propelled mental illness to the forefront of America’s collective consciousness. Eventually however they, along with their victims, disappeared from view, resurfacing only annually on the anniversaries of those events.

By comparison with these forerunners of terrorist attacks upon American society, the recent San Bernardino massacre was the first carried out by a man and a woman…who HAPPENED to be Muslims. First and foremost as with the others mentioned above, this husband and wife were obviously societal misfits…even within their own Islamic community. Many of that faith, including those born in America, have decried the killers as abhorrent. Why then should the entire Muslim population world-wide be denigrated because of those pledging allegiance to Isis, a group as deranged as Hitler?

Consider that not even the brothers Tsarnaevs who carried out the attack during the Boston Marathon were railed against as Muslims, which they were. It’s clearly the timing in that the San Bernardino massacre occurred shortly after the Paris attacks…and in the midst of a contentious presidential campaign. It might also be Trump’s presence on the national stage…namely his big mouth…which has pointed the finger at Muslims in general. It served his purpose of keeping media attention, and free publicity, on him.

Mental illness and gun control are not high on Trumps agenda…getting elected to the White House is…and he’ll do ANYTHING, including lambasting an entire population…to serve his interests.

We shouldn’t be the dummies…

…in trump’s ventriloquist act.

………hugmamma.

 

 

 

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hiding…mr. hyde

Police work is a double-edged sword. We entrust these men and women to take care of us in the face of adversity, all the while on the turn of a dime they themselves could become our adversarial foes. The catalyst to being friend or foe is the human element.

Given the right circumstances, police are compassionate heroes. Given the wrong circumstances, police are the devil incarnate. Most tend toward keeping their wits about them in all circumstances, but there are an inordinate number who reveal their Mr. Hyde when their Dr. Jekyll would be better suited. That’s where personality most likely plays a role.

It’s more than likely that those police who give in to their baser instincts have an underlying defect with respect to their being suitable for the job. Perhaps there’s a tendency towards bullying. Or maybe they had themselves been victims of bullying…in the home, at school, in the workplace. It might be that they served in the military and are therefore predisposed to pulling the trigger, and asking questions later. Worse case scenario is that they are prejudiced toward people different from themselves.

Sometimes in the heat of the moment, police can simply lose control and go absolutely berserk. I often think about this when I remember the lickings my mom would give when I was a child.

One time in particular when she, a 200 pound woman, lunged at my teenage brother. With both hands around his throat, I thought she was going to choke him to death. I remember screaming for her to stop. She finally did, I guess realizing she was going too far. Whether my brother had done something so heinous which drove my mom over the edge, or whether he sassed her back…I don’t remember. What remains permanently carved into my memory is my brother struggling to get out from under the full weight of my mom as she lay on top of him across the bed, her hands squeezing the breath out of him.

My mom’s church-going friends, even the pastor himself, never, ever saw this side of my mom. Her Mr. Hyde. Only her children witnessed the ugly side of an otherwise upstanding, law-abiding, religious citizen. And we all kept her secret from the world beyond our front door. What else could we do? We were too scared to tell.

Police are human. Sometimes they can be scary humans. How do we prevent their Mr. Hydes from taking over…

…and killing???

………hugmamma.

 

our freedoms…at a price

For gun activists who refuse any and all efforts at having their rights to bear arms restricted, they must bear some of the burden for the mass killings that are taking innocent lives. Whether they care to accept the fact that each of these deaths is like a notch etched upon the grip of their guns, it is nonetheless an indelible mark upon their consciences. The only way to ignore this shared responsibility is to relegate those deaths to media statistics. Twenty-four/seven coverage blurs the faces of the dead until they are no longer recognizable as human beings, individuals whose lives were cut short. Their souls lingering on in the purgatory of memories of loved ones left behind.

Facebook, Twitter and other such media sites are similarly responsible for the massacre of innocent lives. Folks in the wrong place, at the wrong time. Acting as enablers of social connectivity, these billion dollar corporations accept no responsibility for crimes that are perpetrated through the use of their sites. The co-mingling of users whose sole purpose is elevated pen-paling with those intent upon murder is akin to seals swimming with sharks. It’s only a matter of time before the latter gets the upper hand.

What price freedom? Sometimes death.

A sad statement when we are willing to accept our lives as headlined in the news. We the people are responsible for what happens to us. We allow it to happen every time we scream our allegiance to our inalienable rights…to bear arms…and freedom of speech. We refuse to compromise our rights, to give an inch to save another’s life. Rights supersedes lives. Always. Either that or the wealthy and their minions who crowd out the silent rest of us are allowed to run roughshod over whatever stands in the way.

We reap what we sow…all of us. Those who buy and sell guns, and those who use social media. We support the framework of human demise.

…simple truth.

………hugmamma.

 

 

 

 

 

nurturing thursdays: love one another…

In keeping with the season, I think it’s fitting to remember that we are all children of God.

That includes those among us who choose to turn their backs upon the rest, even going so far as to massacre innocent people.

God the Almighty Father will determine their fate.

We know not what lies deep within one another’s hearts…our sorrows, our anxieties.

Only God knows.

Rather than sit in judgment, we should rally with one another to heal any divisiveness.

Our fundamental humanity should bind us one with the other.

We should put aside our robes of many colors…racial, cultural, religious.

Those who would lead us astray and isolate us one from the other are themselves enemies of humanity and…of God.

“I am the Lord thy God…thou shalt have no other gods before me.”

“The Lord is my Shepherd…”

Let us not follow graven images eager to raise themselves up to be false gods.

They are only interested in amassing personal wealth and an army of followers to rival all that has been created by the one, true God of all people.

God does not choose one race over the other.

God does not choose one culture over the other.

God does not choose one religion over the other.

God created all of us  with love.

God will have the final say…

…about what we have done with His love.

………hugmamma.

(Note…more inspiration can be gathered from ladies of wisdom at…
https://beccagivens.wordpress.com/2015/12/03/nurt-thurs-peace/#comment-26089 )

parents matter…

The role we play in the lives of our children really does have a lifelong impact. Whether we are good at it or not so good, will affect the adults our children grow up to become. It follows the rule of…cause and effect.

For most of us the path is unpredictable. It’s not like hitting a bull’s eye with a bow and arrow. Or is it?

I’ve never shot an arrow, but I imagine that when you pull the arrow back there’s a quiver in the movement which you must control so as to hit the target. That momentary quiver might be compared to the push and pull parents and children engage in as they strive to become independent. Not all “hit the mark” set by society.

Special needs children are doubly challenging for parents ill-equipped to manage their youngster’s early years, not to mention when they become teenagers and young adults. Their journey towards independence requires a lot more strength…to keep the bow from quivering so much that the arrow misses its mark altogether. More patience is required to keep a steady hand, no matter the repetitive practice involved.

Introducing guns into the mix is likely to upset the fine balance necessary in youngsters’ lives already compromised. Once they begin to think for themselves, they begin to make their own judgement calls.

A gun in the hand of a youngster beset by his own trials and tribulations can be a tool to end it all…as in the cases of the Newtown, Connecticut and Umpqua,Oregon shooters.

California just adopted the “right to die” law allowing assisted suicide for terminally ill patients. It is only the 5th state to enact this law. A testament to the fact that lawmakers, all right-thinking adults politically appointed to make decisions for their constituency, have pondered long and hard whether or not to allow suicide under any circumstance.

Why then would a parent put a gun in the hands of a youngster who, at times, struggles with life? The responsibility if he takes his own life and the lives of others must be shared by those making guns accessible to him…

…including those who love him.

………hugmamma.

the top one percent…

…are the ones in control of the U.S. economy and therefore what happens, or doesn’t happen, in our country. The country’s purse strings are essentially managed by these few. If they consider something that’s good for the country is also advantageous to their bottom line, these mostly white men will put all their weight behind the cause. However if there’s even the smallest doubt that they will benefit from the outcome, these few will either step aside and let the cause die a natural death, or use whatever it takes to ensure that it dies.

Lack of gun control.

Global warming.

Two issues that are killing people. Unless the top one percent are personally affected by either problem, they will continue to fan the flames of our destruction. It might be that they’re hedging their bets.

Until the earth self-destructs, the uber-wealthy will continue to line their pockets with gold. Meanwhile, it doesn’t hurt to have a backup plan…they’ve booked a flight into outer space on Virgin Airlines. Such a likelihood was depicted in the movie Elysium.

Of course some of the wealthiest, Bill Gates and Warren Buffet among them, are notable philanthropists. I’m not sure where they stand on gun control and global warming. Whatever their stance, however, I don’t see them or any of the other wealthiest one percent in America taking on those lobbying against gun control, namely the NRA, and global warming.

Charles and David Koch, and Donald Trump for that matter, are arch defenders of capitalism at any price. They put their substantive pocket books where their mouths are. They walk the talk.

No gun control.

No global warming.

As long as the wealthiest one percent in America can defend themselves against guns and global warming, they won’t take action against either. It would require too much effort…

…and too much of their amassed fortunes.

………hugmamma.

what i did this summer…

Remember those essays we had to write the first day back to school?

How I spent my summer vacation.

I probably wrote that I played with friends and helped my mom around the house. Apart from that I went to an occasional movie with my best friend, gratis her awesome dad who’d pay the price of my admission…a quarter. Yep. A quarter. Back then…the 50’s and early 60’s…we could see a news reel, a cartoon, and a feature film for twenty-five pennies. On Maui, at least. Not sure what mainland theaters were charging.

Our family wasn’t rolling in dough so there were no trips to California, New York, or Europe. Those places weren’t even on my radar. The most I could hope for was a short trip to nearby Honolulu on a propeller plane. That’s if my older sister paid for my round trip ticket, inviting me to visit for the summer.

It shouldn’t be difficult to figure out that my world view was pretty narrow…that of an island girl out in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. Fortunately, that all changed when I got married.

My husband’s first job was with Pan American World Airways, so we honeymooned in Tahiti. His second job was with American Express, with whom he got a promotion which moved us to New York. A short couple of years later he joined Norwegian American Cruises…and the rest is travel history.

Our first trip to Europe was in the 80’s. This time it was on me, since I was working with TWA in New York. It included a quick 2-day glimpse of Paris. Years later when our daughter was a teen, I dreamed of returning to that glamorous city with her in tow. I knew she’d never be able to afford it on her dancer’s salary.

This summer my dream trip to Paris came true. Except that my daughter had to work. No whisking her off to Europe. So instead it became…a second honeymoon for hubby and me.

While not the romantic scenario acted out in movies by the likes of Julia Roberts and Hugh Grant, hubby and I managed just fine for a middle-aged couple. We held hands. We looked lovingly into one another’s eyes. We teased and bantered, sharing intimate jokes at which only the two of us could smile and chuckle.

And yes, there were moments of frustration. When we got on each other’s last nerve.

Like when we went in search of Rodin’s Museum and Napoleon’s Tomb, and instead found ourselves wandering the streets in an isolated industrial neighborhood, while my poor aching feet screamed…”Get off of me! You’re killing me!” And when we had to go in search of the nearest “toilette,” so I could pee for the hundredth time.

Dead tired from scouring every corner of Paris we would fall into bed early. No evening soirees for us. No moonlit boat rides on the Seine . No gazing into each others’ eyes while dining on squab and chocolate souffles. We were content with a simple meal, an I Love Lucy video we’d brought from home, and finally snuggling side by side, snoring contentedly beneath a fluffy, white duvet…the nearby Eiffel Tower keeping watch over all, and lighting the skies above.

Funny what rocks your world when you’re old.

My favorite tour was wandering amidst miles and miles of tombstones at the Pere La Chaise Cemetery.

(Photo courtesy of…ohbythewayblog.blogspot.com)

Morbid? Just the opposite! It was other-worldly. Seeing row upon row of oft-times centuries-old graves. It was as though, those poor, deceased souls were sneaking glimpses of us…as we were having a peek in on them. With my cell phone I snapped photos of such notables’ tombs as Oscar Wilde, Edith Piaf, Sarah Bernhardt, Chopin, and Gertrude Stein. Even Jim Morrison of the rock group, The Doors, was interned there. I was especially delighted to see the simple graves of actors Yves Montand and wife Simone Signoret. They had been larger than life on the big screen. Now they lay like common folk beneath the hard earth.

Especially sobering were the graves of those who had suffered under Hitler’s demonic regime. I could still feel their wretched agony, pulsating beneath the stone.

 

(Photo courtesy of…cemetery explorers. blogspot.com)

I could hear my mom lecturing from her grave…”Don’t be taking pictures of the dead. They’ll haunt you. Wait and see.” Dismissing such thoughts, as best I could, I’d remark to myself…and yet loud enough so the dead could hear…”You’re a good person. I’m just honoring you, your memory.” Of course I didn’t wait for a response as I quickened my pace.

One particular tombstone stopped me dead…pardon the pun…in my tracks.

The image of a young man from the Victorian era…captured in bronze, dressed as though he’d been out and about, leather gloves and all…lay full length across his grave. He looked to be 6 feet tall. I kept staring in disbelief at the gorgeous hunk of cast stone. My eyes scoured every inch of him, hesitating where his crotch bulged…the only part not green from oxidation. Curious…

(Photo courtesy of…canvasoflight.com)

I was certain mine weren’t the only eyes bewildered by what lay before me. I’d had to wait my turn while a couple of men gazed down at what seemed a very unexpected and highly unusual tombstone. I admit I was afraid of taking a photo of the dead man’s likeness. Looking at him through the lens, I thought he’d wink…or frown…or sit up and smack me. I admit, I was a tiny bit scared. Calming my fears, I turned to the inscription and quickly snapped a shot.

That night in the comfort of our rented apartment, I looked through the photos I’d taken. I paused at the image of the young man made of bronze. He continued to fascinate me. When I moved on to the snapshot of the inscription, I held my breath. Were my eyes playing tricks on me? How could the inscription be upside down? I was positive I’d not turned my cell phone around to take the picture. That would’ve been awkward. There must have been a good explanation, although neither my husband nor I could come up with one.

I was spooked. I could not look at the picture of the inscription again, without feeling as though a ghostly urchin was having fun at my expense. I almost believed my mom’s scolding that I would pay for disrespecting the dead. Almost. I finally convinced myself that whoever had commissioned the sculpture deliberately requested that the inscription…in French…be written upside down. After all, it seemed in keeping with the provocative tomb. Perhaps it was done so the deceased could read what it said without too much effort on his part. He could just…sit up.

Aaahhh, Paris…all of its sights and smells, large and small, grandiose and humble…captures the essence of European culture. Refined and earthy all at once. Grounded in centuries of history, yet comfortable in its modernity..

I left with a deep respect for people different from me. Folks at ease in their daily lives. In fact, I marveled at how easily Parisians worked and relaxed throughout the day. They don’t seem to subscribe to our American need to work 60-hour weeks, playing only on weekends, if even that. As we toured the city, we saw, and heard, many a Parisian bicycling, and lunching, along the Seine. They sat at nearby cafe tables, sipping wine and conversing as tour buses and motorcycles whizzed by.

Yet I was glad to be home, settling back into our normal life…resuming our normal routines…comforted by our cozy, familiar surroundings.

We’re no different from Dorothy, who preferred Kansas to Oz…

…there really is…no place like home.

………hugmamma.

(Note: I will post my own photos of Paris…as soon as I figure out how to upload them from my cell phone. I couldn’t wait until then to write about it. Something I already know how to do.)

nurturing thursdays: she’s getting married…

…my daughter…my only sunshine.

How did my little girl go from shadowing me one minute…to standing apart, aglow in a life all her own?

I can remember hearing folks in my mom’s generation saying of children…”Enjoy them while you can. They grow up so fast.” I too say that to young parents now, more out of habit than something to which I truly subscribe.

I think my husband would have preferred carrying his little “pumpkin pie” about on his shoulders…just a little longer. And building igloos together with her in the icy snow that covered our front lawn…just a little longer. And reading bedtime stories in the soft glow of the lamplight, her little head against his chest…just a little longer.

As for me? I wanted tomorrow to come…and the one after that…and the one after that…and all the tomorrows to follow . I wanted time to pass, knowing that with each passing year my only child was still here, beside me. Not until my husband and I celebrated 16 years of marriage did we become parents. Because of that I always felt she could be gone…in the blink of an eye.

Still do.

Like other parents, I hoped I’d live to see my daughter grow into adulthood…and settle into a marriage with someone who would cherish her for the wonderful person she is. Whether or not she bears us a grandchild is unimportant. She, and the son we gain through marriage, are gift enough for us. Of course we would celebrate a little addition to the family…if that is God’s wish.

And so with my daughter’s marriage, I can finally breathe a sigh of relief, passing the torch of all-consuming love along to her husband-to-be. Although the love I bear my daughter will always glimmer and burn so that she will never, ever...be afraid of the dark.

I’m certain my precious little girl will always remember what I told her long, long ago.

When I’m gone from your side, I’ll still be with you…like a blankie wrapped around your heart…warming you always.

………hugmamma.

Check out more inspirational writings at… 

https://beccagivens.wordpress.com/2015/09/17/nurt-thurs-biggest-step-2/

Daddy’s Girl

A loving, lovely tribute to a father…an amazing man…a flawed human being…a talented singer. How wonderful to have captured his lilting voice…a reminder of a very special person.

………hugmamma.

A Day In The Life

daddy (1) - CopyAre we who we are because of genetics? environment? a combination of both? As I have grown older I have to come to realize I am my father’s daughter most certainly. So much of who I am, the things that make me tick, are so because of him. I was always closer with my father than my mother. He was always the more “emotive” parent- free with his hugs, easy to laugh, a good listener who really heard what you had to say. He was willing to engage in discussion at times when my mother just saw everything as black or white, gray never existed in her world. I was an emotional child- easy to cry, sensitive- my mother didn’t know what to do with it- thankfully my father was always there.

One of my earliest memories (I was 5) is of us going bird watching together. He was an…

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be kind to your spouse…

…or you might wind up drowning in the ocean…like Natalie Wood.

The trick to enjoying celebrity and wealth is not allowing either to take on a life of its own. Unfortunately, too many in Hollywood lose their real identities to the ones portrayed on the screen, whether it’s in the movies or on television. Once he or she is bitten by fame, there’s an overwhelming desire to keep it going…at any cost.

Goodbye Natalie, Goodbye Splendour by Marti Rulli with former Splendour Captain Dennis Davern, reads like a thriller-soon-to-be made into a movie. Why it never made it that far is a puzzle all by itself. Probably because celebrity and wealth bought everyone’s silence…most of all…Hollywood’s.

After all, Robert Wagner was one of Hollywood’s own.

Too many lives, big and small, would have been affected…negatively. The tentacles of celebrity and wealth are far-reaching as was evident in the mysterious circumstances surrounding the death of Natalie Wood.

True. Natalie Wood was one of Hollywood’s sweethearts, ever since she charmed her way into our homes and hearts as the beguiling Suzy Walker in Miracle on 34th Street, an iconic favorite at Christmastime. However once Natalie Wood was found dead, there was no bringing her back. So why destroy another Hollywood star in a sordid investigation that would leave the public wondering about Tinsel Town’s morals. There was no fool-proof evidence of Wagner’s involvement in his wife’s death, so why have audiences turn away from the golden goose that was Hollywood for all who made a living within its protective confines.

What about those charged with investigating the death of Natalie Wood? Good question.

Remember Marilyn Monroe? O.J. Simpson? Robert Blake? Michael Jackson?   What they all had in common was celebrity and wealth…in varying degrees. Nonetheless, it seems anytime someone famous is involved…the rules go…bye-bye.

Everyone involved in solving the case is entangled in the celebrity and wealth surrounding the high profile personality. Whether it’s that they are overwhelmed and intimidated by the fame, or they want some of it to rub off on them.

Goodbye Natalie, Goodbye Splendour makes a compelling case against Robert Wagner as the person responsible for the death of Natalie Wood. 

The only person alive–Robert John Wagner–who undoubtedly knows how Natalie Wood got into the water, will obviously never talk about it, so exactly how Natalie got into the water may never be known, but what is known is that Wagner was with her when the “mystery” was born. What is known is that Wagner argued terribly with his wife. He was raging mad and acted upon the rage by taking a marital fight out to an open deck on his yacht. His wife was in her nightgown, arguing with him. Minutes later, she was in the water–wearing her coat–and crying to be saved.

The “mystery” of Natalie’s death would not have been too difficult to solve, certainly not for a police department and a medical examiner’s staff, had they pursued every angle of the case together. Many novices have no trouble solving it through the use of common sense. It seems the public is all that Natalie has left.

Wagner has never addressed his drastic delay in searching for Natalie. No one asks him for details. His fans defend that waiting for hours is logical, even though the number one rule in boating is to call for immediate help when someone is missing. Dennis Davern knows the proper procedures to follow when someone is missing from a boat. Wagner’s refusal to allow Davern to search for Natalie indicates that he did not want his wife to be helped: perhaps not ever to be found. Natalie’s jacket kept her afloat, helping her to be found shortly after a proper search.

Wagner then still balked on calling for professional help when harbormaster Doug Oudin pleaded with Wagner after three o’clock in the morning to allow him to call the Coast Guard. The harbormaster waited for Wagner’s approval.

Avalon Sheriff Kroll saw the inside of Splendour–the broken glass, the master stateroom in disarray–and ignored it.

While Baywatch divers hunted for Natalie beneath Splendour, diver Roger Smith said he was angry that professional help had not been called for sooner. Smith had asked Bombard not to touch Natalie’s body. “Homicide might be involved,” Smith had said. Smith obviously suspected something sinister.

Everyone’s peculiar deference to Wagner carried on throughout the morning, as each and every official in contact with Wagner after Natalie’s bruised dead body was found felt the loss of this remarkable woman and thus related to the pain they believed Wagner endured. Everyone allowed the man with the “most pain” to direct the aftermath of his wife’s death. Wagner’s grief was apparent to Duane Rasure, and although Wagner had primed Davern on what to tell authorities and on what not to offer, Rasure had been so overwhelmed with Wagner’s suffering that he let it slide when Davern reacted to Rasure with nervousness, offense, and outright lies. Rasure got mad at the “lanky, drunk guy from New Jersey” instead–and has stayed mad at him.

Wagner wanted off the island. A private helicopter was summoned. Wagner did not want to be interviewed by Rasure. Rasure let him go home. Legal assistance was ready and waiting for Wagner and Davern at Wagner’s front door. It’s what money can buy. All of the right people made the wrong decision to allow Robert Wagner to direct a crime scene.

Celebrity privilege was indeed alive and thriving on the morning of November 29, 1981, at the Isthmus of Catalina Island aboard the moored boat, Splendour. Celebrity “get out of jail free cards” may as well have been issued. Years later, when Davern told the truth, he was threatened with criminal charges and jail time if he changed the story that the attorney provided by Wagner had prepared for Dennis in 1981. Years later, that same attorney cooperated with Davern’s choice to speak with a writer from Vanity Fair.

What’s bizarre is that Robert Wagner told Davern to accompany the authorities and identify Natalie Wood’s body.

Dennis, unable to bring his eyes to focus on her, choked out, “It’s her.”

“You’ll have to look at her, Mr. Davern,” he was told. …

Dennis trembled as he forced himself to move his eyes from Natalie’s torso to her face. Her arms were exposed, and he saw the bruises. The fronts of her legs also showed bruises, far too many. Dennis wondered why her nightgown had not been pulled down to cover her exposed legs. He caught his breath when he saw that her eyes were still open. Her face appeared swollen, but not deformed, a bit greenish white in color, and her mouth had gone limp. She looks at peace, though, he tried to convince himself.

He dropped his eyes and whispered, “Yes, It’s Natalie Wood.”

Someone took hold of Dennis’s elbow to lead him away, but he pulled back and looked again at Natalie. He scanned his eyes across her body and concentrated on her legs and arms, noticing even more bruises. He started to count. One, two, four, seven…ten…he had seen enough, but there were more, including a scrape on her left cheek.

Neither the author, Marti Rulli, or I for that matter, is claiming that Robert Wagner did not love Natalie Wood. Far from it, the man was possessive of his wife and his jealousy got the better of him.

After years passed, it became easier to convince himself that his anger and actions were justified. And to write the autobiography he presents in 2008 shows that he thinks he is utterly immune to doubt and suspicion. He had wanted to stop books and movies and other people from telling about their lives. He had asked people in show business to stay away from people he disliked. He wants the laws changed so that no one can reveal his true colors after his demise. He thinks he has gotten away with his part in Natalie’s death. And he indeed had a big part in it. He smashed a wine bottle, screamed profanities and fought a deadly argument with Natalie after she had gone to their stateroom to go to bed. She would have awakened the next morning if only her husband had left her alone. He took the fight to the back deck, and minutes later, Natalie was no longer on board. …

Actor Christopher Walken, the only guest aboard, was the person to whom Robert Wagner directed his rage after smashing the wine bottle across the table…”Do you want to fuck my wife, is that what you want?”

Since Natalie’s death, Wagner has been sheltered by his insider network of secrecy and privilege for so long he appears to believe in the image he has created for himself. He has never had to bear the brunt of a direct, in-your-face accusation or questioning. His media buddies and selected interviewers tiptoe around him as if a twenty-seven-year-old death can still shatter him. Interviewers start their questions with their sympathetic eyes and condolences even decades later, as if Wagner is still the victim of love lost and innuendo. Wagner interviewers rarely express sympathy for Natalie’s experience. It is Wagner they have coddled, while Natalie is the truest victim.

The saddest thing about the entire affair is that Natalie Wood’s worst nightmare…dying in dark water…could have been averted.

Marilyn Wayne and her fiance, businessman John Payne, anchored in a sailboat within earshot of the Splendour, had heard someone calling out for help.

…they were sleeping in their stateroom aboard John’s forty-two-foot sailboat, the Capricorn, which was equipped with a silent generator. John always slept with an open window in his cabin, and this night, despite the rain, was no exception. A distant voice, crying for help, awakened him. John sat up to listen intently. “Help me, someone please help me,” he heard again. He awakened Marilyn and asked her to listen. Alarmed, Marilyn called out to her young son, Anthony, who also heard the cries. He wore a digital watch, and Marilyn asked him for the time. It was just minutes after eleven o’clock.

The cries for help continued. John went to the control panel and switched on their beam light. Marilyn went on deck to look toward the sound, but it was dark and damp, and she could not see anything. Marilyn had a bead on the plaintive cry for help, though, and thought if she swam just about forty feet, she might be able to help. Marilyn, an avid and strong swimmer, told John she wanted to jump into the water and swim toward the cries, but John convinced her it could be too dangerous. “You have Anthony to think of. Whoever’s out there could pull you under too.” He persuaded her to stay on board. They called the harbor patrol but no one answered. They called the sheriff’s office in Avalon, twelve miles away, and the person who answered told them a helicopter would be sent. They heard loud music, too, so they thought there was a party on a nearby boat.

Then they heard a man’s voice, slurred, and in an aggravated tone, say something to the effect of “Oh, hold on, we’re coming to get you.” Marilyn was not sure of the exact words used, but there was no mistaking that it was a man’s voice, and he sounded miserable.

But the woman’s cries continued: “Someone please help me, I’m drowning, please help me.” The voice did not seem to be moving further away. It was clear and concise.

For fifteen minutes, John and Marilyn felt helpless as they waited for a helicopter that never arrived. Their dinghy had already been deflated for the night and would take more than a half hour to prepare, so they were at a loss to help. After a fifteen to twenty minute wait, the cries for help ended. A few minutes later, the music ended too. There was utter silence–a haunting kind of silence. Terribly disturbed, John and Marilyn could only hope that the pleas had stopped because of a rescue. They went back to their stateroom for a terribly restless sleep.

The following morning the couple learned that Natalie Wood had drowned. “…they felt sickened by the news and had no doubt that it had been Natalie crying for help.”

Marilyn Wayne had believed the death was an accident and for a time felt sorry for Robert Wagner. However when neither she nor John were interviewed by the police even though they claimed to have talked with the couple, and when someone from the L.A. Times called to interview her, Marilyn became involved. She went so far as to call L.A. County Coroner Thomas Noguchi to “correct him on his ‘timeline,’ which she knew was off.” Although the authorities knew of Marilyn’s account, they chose to dismiss her. In fact “Detective Rasure was reported to have said that Marilyn Wayne was just someone who wanted her name in the papers–to be connected to a celebrity’s legend. Marilyn, like Dennis, had been bombarded with requests for interviews, but she never talked to anyone again” until contacted by another author who was writing a book about Natalie Wood.

Obviously someone didn’t want Marilyn Wayne to talk about what she knew.

“Three days after Natalie died, Marilyn found a scribbled message on a torn piece of paper…that read, ‘If you value your life, keep quiet about what you know.’ She immediately knew it was related to Natalie Wood’s death because that’s all anyone had been talking about. She suddenly became pretty vocal about letting everyone know she believed Natalie’s death to be accidental.

Marilyn Wayne was afraid.

When threats continued, she contacted her attorney to let him know about it and went so far as to make provisions in the event something might happen to her. John Payne did not experience any of that same kind of trouble, but John was a highly respected businessman, far wealthier than Robert Wagner. No one would bother John because of his status. Marilyn suspected she was targeted because she was the more vulnerable of the two. 

In the end…

Because of the condition of Natalie’s lungs, indicating she had by legal definition drowned, and because the coroner decided the drowning must have been “accidental,” the cause of her entry into the water was neglected. There was no way to know if her death was accidental, and in view of all her bruises, “undetermined” was the only logical choice.

But we had a chief coroner being chased by celebrity.

…fame and wealth…is it worth it?

………hugmamma.

Natalie Wood, c. 1970.

facing our demons…

When I was a child growing up in Wailuku on the sleepy island of Maui, I sometimes wished I could attend Sunday service at the Jehovah Witnesses Hall near my family’s rented house. Walking past the Hall on my way to buy a few things at the grocery store, I could hear the members singing. Unlike the solemnity of my own Catholic church, the Jehovah Witnesses sounded like they were having a blast. What I wouldn’t have given to sing my heart out just like those folks. 

While I never thought twice about what the Jehovah witnesses looked like, I assumed they were blacks. Why? Because of pictures I’d seen on TV and in print of blacks smiling and clapping their hands as they sang their prayers to God. I wanted to be like them. Still do.

I believe in a joyful God, one who focuses upon goodness. One who overlooks our flaws, knowing we will improve…if we want to improve. 

This morning as I watched CNN news, I wished I was sitting among the parishioners of the church where 9 blacks had been gunned down. 

If you’re asking “Why?” The simple answer is “Because instead of hatred for the racist killer, those present inside and outside the church were filled with love for the victims.” As one commentator put it…the dead are now in heaven with God…having died in the church they loved. 

Unlike the media, the church goers were focused solely upon their loved ones.

According to that same commentator, we cannot deny the killer’s ideology of racial hatred. In fact, we should not. We need to face it head on, armed with the ideology of love.

The fact is…evil exists…as does good. The battle will continue as long as mankind does.

If we can learn from the congregation of Charleston’s Emanuel AME, to honor one another with love…

…good will always conquer evil.

………hugmamma.

living her best life #46: we can help…

For those of us wishing we could help in Pat’s fight against multiple myeloma…

WE CAN.

Researching treatments for the management of MM, an incurable cancer, means adding longevity to the lives of patients with the disease. Buying time for continuing research means… 

A CURE??? 

Who knows? Stranger things have happened. No harm in dreaming…BIG.

There are a multitude of great causes, many of them deserving. Personally, I like to know where my money is going. I prefer non-generic, causes. Ones that aren’t mainstream. Well known charities tend to corner-the-market when it comes to donor dollars. Nothing wrong with that. Just not where I want to direct my few charitable ones. 

Right now, for me, The Multiple Myeloma Research Foundation is my charity of choice. 

Like anyone with a family member, friend, co-worker, or acquaintance who might benefit directly from a donation, I know that…giving to MMRH is akin to adding longevity to Pat’s life. 

And even if you don’t know her, you do.

Pat’s…your grandmother…your mother…your sister…your wife….your daughter…your aunt…your niece… your cousin. She’s anyone and everyone who means anything to you.

…giving to MMRH is akin to adding longevity to pat’s life…

…and to all those similarly stricken with multiple myeloma.

………hugmamma

Your contribution extends lives.

The Multiple Myeloma Research Foundation is a registered 501(c)(3) non-profit. Your contribution is tax deductible.

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living her best life #40:…biting the bullet.

Back on April 8th, Pat emailed me the following.

Life happened and I didn’t get around to posting what she wrote. And then came my daughter’s emergency and…all hell done broke loose!!!…as Louise Jefferson use to exclaim on that long-ago sitcom, The Jeffersons.

After seeing Pat this weekend and being reminded in the flesh of her ordeal, I felt compelled to share her voice…

Living with Cancer

I’ve been living with cancer now for 4 months. It’s probably been closer to a year, but the diagnosis came in January. Started chemotherapy on January 21, 2015.

Every time I send updates to my family and friends I tell them I’m doing fine. I’m tolerating the chemo well. I haven’t had any really bad side effects like nausea or vomiting and I still have all my hair albeit a lot more gray now. And that is the truth.

But it still SUCKS big time. The last time we spoke you asked how I can keep such an upbeat positive attitude (I was talking to you at the time – ‘nuf’ said.) Actually, it’s not so hard when I don’t feel sick even though I know that I am. That, and the unwaivering, unbelievable support we have gotten from day one from family and friends both here and far across the globe…

BUT…today was my 12th chemo treatment…4 more to go. Took my home meds a few hours ago. Brad saw me drinking that nasty concoction down and came into the bathroom to offer support. I told him I can’t wait for this all to be over. I DO NOT look forward to drinking that stuff on treatment days. I’m also getting a little tired of getting poked every week…blood tests on Mondays, Wednesdays it’s an IV in my hand and a chemo shot in my belly (it doesn’t last long, but it burns going in.) Every 3 weeks or so, I see the Naturopath for acupuncture. I don’t look forward to that much any more either. Don’t get me wrong! I still love Dr. Burke, the scenic drives to Waimanalo, and talking story with him. Still. I’d really like to dump all the homeopathic meds down the sink too.

But I won’t because I’m living with cancer, not dying from it. Not today, anyway. And I’ll do whatever it takes to make sure that doesn’t happen for a long time.

My take on this: I have cancer. I don’t have time for this. What do I need to do, Doc? Let’s just do it and move on.

So I will get through the next 4 months. Whatever that might entail. Bring it!

I’m guessing for most cancer patients like me, it’s always in the back of one’s mind. Not 24/7. I don’t obsess about my condition (at least I don’t think I do), but it’s always there. Every quiet moment, any down time, it pops into my head. “Oh yeah. I have this thing called cancer. But wait, I have to do the laundry now.” Sometimes it’s still unbelievable; it’s not denial, it’s just unreal. 

So, yeah. Yesterday (it’s now 2 a.m.) was treatment day 12, so I can’t sleep. I’m angry and I need to vent, but I’ll be fine tomorrow, or later today.

OK. Pity party is over. No time for that either.

BTW…did some online retail therapy. That always helps. I do have an excuse though. I lost a couple more pounds and I only have 2 pairs of skinny jeans, and 0 shorts that fit. The jeans aren’t so skinny-fitting anymore. (One day I used a bungee cord as a belt…only around the house, of course…I didn’t go out like that.) Thought I might start a new fashion trend though. Actually, I was surprised I had lost more weight. Especially after our Easter brunch. Thought for sure I’d gained something back.

When we spoke this weekend, Pat told me about her last doctor’s visit. 

Pat likes her doctor. An Indian man steeped in the nurturing ways of an eastern culture, he has been her rock from the beginning. When he asked how she was feeling, there was a long pause before she could bring herself to answer. And he let her have that moment to collect her thoughts. 

Finally, Pat told the doctor that she realized she had undergone the “easy” part of her treatment. That the next lap would be difficult. I think she also told him a little of how she’s been feeling lately. Her doctor’s reply was one of knowing relief. He’d been wondering why she wasn’t having these feelings earlier in her treatment.

Sounds like the doc was waiting for Pat to “explode.” Otherwise she might have imploded. And that can’t be good for her fight against cancer.

Pat told me she’d recently read about her stem-cell transplant. The one she’ll have at The Mayo Clinic. Reading about it clearly brought her face to face with the hard reality of what lies ahead. Apart from the transplant itself, she has to remain in Minnesota for 3 months. During the first month Pat will be in isolation. According to the CDC…

During the first month after HSCT, the major host-defense deficits include impaired phagocytosis and damaged mucocutaneous barriers. Additionally, indwelling intravenous catheters are frequently placed and left in situ for weeks to administer parenteral medications, blood products, and nutritional supplements. These catheters serve as another portal of entry for opportunistic pathogens from organisms colonizing the skin (e.g., . coagulase-negativeStaphylococci, Staphylococcus aureus, Candida species, and Enterococci) (32,33)..

Wish I could be a butterly on the wall, sending positive vibes towards Pat during her forthcoming isolation. 

It’s hard to fathom how Pat will endure these next several months. And yet she will. She’s a fighter…of the soccer mom, Hawaiian variety type.

Pat and Brad are in the Indy 500 of their lives, and they’re determined to win the race. With our unwavering good thoughts and abundance of prayers, they’ll make it over the finish line. 

…and for sure we’ll be cheering them on…every lap of the way!!!”

………hugmamma.

living her best life #39:…pit stops along the way

That’s what the weekend was for Pat…and Brad, her husband.

A pit stop.

An evening with my husband and me was just one of many pit stops along the race car track that is now Pat, and Brad’s, life. On their way to The Mayo Clinic in Minnesota, they paid us a brief visit…to recharge and refuel…for the road ahead. It’s sure to have many challenges, both known and unknown.

 As we made our way to where we would meet Pat and Brad in the baggage claim area at SeaTac Airport, I hurriedly scrambled for a piece of cardboard I’d stashed in my purse. It was the backing for a Mother’s Day card my husband had bought for his sister. While walking along, I managed to write their last name on the cardboard with a pen. Thank goodness there were only 4 letters. I filled them in with squiggly lines trying to make the name more visible. Beneath it I drew short, squat arrows, filling them in as well. 

I kept a lookout for them at the top of the escalator. Hubby meanwhile wandered off to check on something. Spying Pat and Brad at the foot of the escalator I quickly called for my husband to “Hurry up! They’re here!” Holding the sign above our heads, we pretended to be their limousine service come to pick them up.

Walking towards one another we all laughed at my crazy antic. There were warm hugs all around as we exchanged our hellos. Moving toward the luggage carousel, the guys ahead of us, I motioned for Pat to join me in sitting down on nearby chairs. I did so because she seemed on the verge of tears. 

Pat revealed she’d been frustrated and angry the last couple of weeks. As she said later when we again had a few moments to ourselves…Pat realizes “I am fighting for my life!” And she is. The prognosis for multiple myeloma is 7 years. I was reminded of that in a recent TV piece about Tom Brokaw, a former news anchor. He too is battling MM. 

Something else Pat said which resonated with me. After spending time with family and friends, she said “They get to go back to their own lives. I’ll never go back to my life as it had been.”

It’s true. Pat’s new life is still unfolding.

The most important people in my sister-in-law’s life now are the doctors and other health care providers who are working to save her life. They are her lifeline. Literally.

Unlike my husband, I am a fatalist. Beneath my positive veneer lies an acceptance that life is finite. I can only credit it to being raised by a single parent, a mom whose love seemed conditioned on how she was feeling. If things were fine with her, she was fine with me. If not, her love could be taken away. Nonetheless, she was all I had so I made the best of it. A survival mechanism that has served me well. As well as can be, despite some obvious drawbacks…like trust issues.

In a text message sent off to Pat this morning, I wrote…

Thinking of you. And you’re wrong. I haven’t been able to go back to my life. Physically, yes. Mentally…you’re always…and I mean always in my thoughts. Keep wondering what you’re doing…how you’re feeling…what you’re thinking. Same way I was with my daughter. If I lived in Hawaii, I’d probably make a nuisance of myself. Hope you can come and spend a few days before you go back to Minnesota for the transplant. Let me know how it’s going…

Earlier I’d texted…”Call me if you need to unload or just need a boost. Think of me as your booster shot.”

In response, Pat texted…

Can’t thank you enough for last night. It was just the boost that I needed to be able to face this coming week. I feel like this is just the beginning which is hard to fathom after 16 weeks of chemo. 

We appreciate everything you’ve done so far and your unwavering support and love. I look forward to seeing you and my brother again and I can’t wait to see your remodel. And yes…I can pull weeds! (In my text I had said she could help me pull weeds when she came again. And I’d pay her!)

A little levity is just the “spoonful of sugar to help the medicine go down…the medicine go down” as touted by everyone’s favorite English nanny, Mary Poppins.

When you think about it…we’re all dying. A few know when and how; most have no clue. The lesson for all of us?

…live our best lives…right here, right now…

…after all…the glass IS half-full.

……..hugmamma.

nurturing thursdays: …in adversity we find happiness

Recently I heard something which made a lot of sense…after I’d thought about it a little.

It was while listening to NPR radio, during a piece on a journalist who had spent the better part of his career in war torn countries. When he returned to the States and settled into a more mundane existence, he came to realize that he missed life in the war zone.

Like you, I was taken aback. “Is he nuts?” I thought. After hearing what he had to say, I totally got where he was coming from. And now, after living through my own personal war I am convinced the man is right.

My Easter posting was a very brief piece wishing everyone a blessed holiday. In it I asked that prayers be said for my daughter. At the time I revealed nothing except that she had surgery, not one, but two.

Hurriedly booking a flight to leave the next day, it would take more than 24 hours before my husband and I could reach our daughter’s hospital bedside. Until then we had no idea what to expect. The last bit of news we’d had…from her boyfriend…was that the ER doctor thought our daughter’s CAT SCAN showed internal bleeding.

And so began our war to win back our daughter’s prior good health.

Five weeks later, the battle is winding down. While I would like to declare victory, as the saying goes…”it ain’t over ’til the fat lady sings.” And this fat lady for sure ain’t singin’…not yet at least. Not until our daughter’s dancing a rollicking jig again…contemporary-style.

Our daughter underwent surgery to remove a fibroid from her uterine wall. Because it was a polyp, the gynecologist wanted to be certain it wasn’t cancerous. Fortunately it wasn’t. Unfortunately its removal proved tricky.

While trying to unstick the polyp, the forceps pierced the uterine wall. Realizing this, the doctor halted the procedure deciding not to attempt removal of a second, larger fibroid. Deciding that the uterine wall would self-heal, the doctor released our daughter allowing her to go home. A few hours later she returned to ER in excruciating pain.

Later that evening our daughter was admitted as a patient. The next morning the gynecologist consulted with a general surgeon specializing in bowel operations. It was decided that in penetrating the uterine wall, the forceps also pierced the bowel wall. Bile had leaked out causing the unbearable pain our daughter had experienced. Without being totally coherent about all that would occur, our daughter underwent the second surgery to repair her bowel wall.

Two centimeters of bowel was removed. Rather than perform the less invasive procedure, the surgeon opted to get in quick, probably to halt the spread of more toxins throughout our daughter’s body. Of course the abdominal incision meant a longer recovery time. Hence, her hospital stay of 6 days.

My husband and I were by our daughter’s side two days later. We kept a vigil for as long as we could each day. We took turns walking the hallways so as not to cramp up while sitting in the hard chairs.

Having us with her allowed our daughter to relax into her recuperation. She was the child again…reveling in the loving care of doting parents. Best medicine in the world. Just what the doctor ordered.

Lucky for us our daughter’s boyfriend, whom we had not met until then, proved an excellent fill-in. He was with her throughout the entire ordeal, right up until we arrived. Even after our arrival, he’d visit nightly after working a full day. It took him half-an-hour to get to the hospital and 45 minutes to drive home to his apartment. They’ve only dated 7 months and yet, it seems they’ve been waiting their whole lives for one another.

Wedding bells will peal in the not-too-distant future. We couldn’t be happier for our daughter and her awesome beau.

Happiness is truly where you find it, and often it’s under the least likely circumstances.  I wouldn’t question it…

…i’d just…go along with it.

………hugmamma.