…a new direction…from the ground up

Millennials are determined to forge their own way irrespective of the mountain of experience stockpiled for their benefit by previous generations. Good for them! What they might lack in a foundation born of real life events, Millenials make up for in enormous self-confidence.

Technology and the great wealth it has afforded brilliant, young minds at an early age probably accounts for much of the risk-taking embedded in the very fiber of Millenials. There is no shortage of entrepreneurs, especially in the world of computers and cellphones. Where Baby-Boomers saved religiously for a down payment on a house, Millenials can plunk down millions on over-sized mansions.

Why then should Millenials heed any advice offered by generations that came before? Obviously they are doing something right. What isn’t apparent is other than themselves, what is it that they find worthy of their ambition that helps elevate those less fortunate than them?

It may be that Millenials can throw money at charitable causes of their choosing, but will they invest of themselves? Will they get “down and dirty” and grovel in the muck that is the environment of people of color, in order to help change the justice system?…to help level the playing field by funding educational opportunities?…to involve themselves in politics to improve their communities for others?

Millenials seem content to take, without acknowledging the hard-fought battles waged so that they could soar as far as they could dream.

Hillary Clinton, contrary to Republican propaganda, walked the talk from hopeful college student…to First Lady of Arkansas…to America’s First Lady…to New York State Senator…to President Obama’s Secretary of State…to the first female candidate for President of the United States for the Democratic Party.

It is a BIG deal to finally elect a female president. Hillary Clinton is breaking the tallest glass ceiling for women in this country. I can’t imagine that Millenial women don’t continue to face inequality in the workplace and in the community- at-large. They have it better for sure than my generation, but make no mistake…it is still a man’s world. Strides are being made everyday, the biggest being made now…almost 100 years after women won the right to vote.

Hillary has never played the woman card before now, but today she can do so with pride in all she has accomplished by sheer will, hard work and playing hard-ball in a man’s world. And in the run-up to the White House, she remains true to form.  She is not EXPECTING to win. Instead…

…Hillary Clinton will continue to work for every vote!


doctoring…the old, fashioned way…with new possibilities

I’ve written previously that I often seek out alternative health practitioners to help resolve whatever physical issues I might be experiencing. While I do so wholeheartedly it is still not without hesitation at the thought of leaving behind the more familiar world of medical doctors. Those wizened, old men in white garb with stethoscopes dangling about their necks.

My husband and I thought the world of the last 2 doctors we saw with some regularity. They were both General Practitioners, not specialists. Drs. Kinnish and Purden had what many in the medical practice lack these days…a warm, bedside manner. We never felt rushed for time during appointments. We felt as though we had their undivided attention. We could ask questions and not feel dumb. We could even laugh at something funny.

While neither physician had all the answers, I felt as though they were in the trenches right alongside me trying to figure things out as best they could.

Dr. Kinnish retired at 67. Dr. Purden returned home to Canada to work as a hospital Medical Director and teach medicine to wannabe doctors. Both losses left me a little sad because of the compassionate human beings that they were, as well as my being left to seek out a new family doctor.

Even while I was seeing Dr. Purden, I began seeing a naturopath for digestive problems. With a thorough food allergy testing, she got me up and running better than I had been for a long time. Had I continued seeing her, I’m sure she could have helped me resolve other issues as well. Unfortunately, many naturopaths don’t accept insurance which makes filing claims a little tricky. Paying for services up front gets pricey, and dealing directly with insurance carriers can be a headache. Trust me! I use to work for one.

Well, lo and behold. I found a naturopath, Dr. Brooke, who files insurance claims on my behalf and accepts whatever is allowed. I just remit the copay. Hallelujah! And, as with most naturopaths, she’ll spend an hour with me if that’s what I require. I can ask all the questions I want. We can actually have a conversation about all the ailments I’m experiencing. There’s not the usual limitation as there can be with medical doctors…one symptom per appointment, please!

My latest venture with Dr. Brooke, and her colleague Dr. Kerns, is hormone replacement therapy.

Most women seek help when they go through “the change of life,” as my mother use to say. In other words, the dreaded…menopause. Contending with hot flashes and night sweats are debilitating, from what I’ve heard. I was one of the lucky few who didn’t experience these dastardly symptoms. My main problem was insomnia. I don’t think it helped that I was a night owl, inclined to stay up way past the bewitching hour. As I got older, vaginal dryness was also something with which I had to contend.

There are medical resolutions to the menopausal dilemma, such as Premarin. The fact that its literature specifically states there might be a small chance of contracting cancer put me off. And then when I learned it was derived from, of all things, horse’s urine, I was really turned off.

As I started to feel better with the thyroid supplement Dr. Brooke prescribed, and my fibromyalgia symptoms subsided, I began discussing the possibility of doing hormone replacement therapy, specifically The Wiley Protocol. Up to that point it had helped relieve my dryness symptoms.

Following several discussions I decided to take the plunge, beginning treatment a few months ago. No expert yet, I’m still trying to acclimate myself to the nuances of HRT. I don’t prescribe it for others, unless they’ve done their own research. The decision to alter the course of one’s life is individual. There are pluses and minuses to everything.

What I can speak to is my own experience.

Mine has been a hectic 2014 thus far…having a young adult back in the fold as she decided the next step in her career…a bath remodel that had its hiccups throughout…a dear pet whose life has disintegrated with chronic sciatica…a couple of roundtrip flights which hyper-activates my fibromyalgia…and moving my dancer daughter 3,000 miles away for the second time in a year.

Amazingly enough, with a few late mornings of sleeping in after recently returning from helping my daughter with her move, I have been…good to go. No. I’ve been…great to go! A call from my chiropractor’s office asking if I needed an appointment met with a resounding…”No! I’m fine. Thank you for calling though.”

While I may look the same on the outside…a bulging midriff…chipmunk cheeks…sagging chest…I feel more youthful on the inside. And with that, I can keep on…keeping on.

Baby Boomers are expected to live longer, thanks to technology advancing at the speed of light. However longer lives don’t mean better lives. Our internal clocks have not been altered. We’re still genetically tied to our ancestors whose lives were shorter by decades.

There’s no fountain of youth. Only possibilities which might help give us quality of life for as long as we live.

…and that…I can live with.





back in time…but in the present

Does anyone remember dancing to the music of the Average White Band…say in the 60s and 70s? As I explained to my husband enroute to our favorite jazz venue where the band was performing this evening, they seemed peripheral to the music scene. They didn’t draw the crowds like other groups, but their songs had a distinct beat that made me jump up and dance. Still does.

As with other groups from my generation, AWB has undergone a transformation over the years, with musicians coming and going. However 3 who performed tonight were originals, two guitarists and one saxophonist. They were white; the remaining two men were black. Together they melded beautifully into the Average White Band of old.

Why is it that the years seem to fall away when listening to music from the past, allowing us to recapture our youth, if only for a little while? The lead singer/guitarist, one of the founding Scots from Dundee, probably in his mid to late 60s, could still hold the audience as his voice undulated to the rhythm of “A love of your own.” And as I swayed in time to the beat, I felt like a captivating 20-year-old once again. The outer me not at all in sync with my sensual, inner self of long, long ago. More like the young, blonde groupie who giggled giddily after a word with the Scotsman on a brief break. He too eyed the beauty with the smile of a more vigorous alter ego. But perhaps a musician’s lifestyle and daily imbibing of spirits (a fact he offered) are the secret to his vitality. Whatever the case, tonight was for the young at heart…

The Average White Band performs in Rochester, NY.

Image via Wikipedia

…no matter the age………hugmamma.  😉

daily post challenge #220: why do i blog anonymously?

That’s a long story. The short version is…security, old-age, and camera-shy.

I began this blog because I wanted an outlet for my writing, and because I was tired of being lumped with the rest of America when news pundits proclaimed first-hand knowledge of how Americans felt, about everything. Who died and made them Rupert Murdock? But for a baby-boomer still in the semi-dark about technology, I believed what many my age felt about the internet…a scary place where the bad guys lie in wait to scam me out of my identity, my money, or both.

Cover of

Cover of WordPress For Dummies

As a middle-aged blogger I felt I’d always be operating behind the eight ball. I knew enough to get started, but wending my way through the magic and mystery of WordPress would be a challenge. But I plunged in wholeheartedly with the help of a couple of books, Blogging for Dummies and WordPress for Dummies. I also enrolled in a Blogging 101 class at the local college taught by writer-instructor Cat Rambo. She definitely relieved me of some anxiety, but not completely.

With upwards of 30,000 spams caught by Akismet, there’s a niggling uncertainty that remains about the safety of the Internet. And all I have to do is hear of someone hacking into a system, like what occurred here at WordPress in the not too distant past, and my qualms about exposure return full force.

My user name, hugmamma, was chosen on a whim. One day my daughter and I were reminiscing about a children’s sitcom she use to watch in the 90s. It depicted the lives of a family of dinosaurs in which the baby use to say “Hug the baby!” Laughingly, my daughter and I transformed the phrase into “hugga the mamma.” That, in fact, was my user name on my first blog at blogger.com. I eventually found my way to WordPress and hugmamma. Thereafter I ascribed an even more significant meaning to the name…a loving gesture to my mom’s memory. I use to call her “mama.”

When asked to choose a gravatar, there was no question that I’d not be putting a photo of me out in the blogosphere, again for security reasons, but also because I don’t like how I photograph. As a friend from exercise class explained it some time ago with regard to herself, “When I saw myself in my daughter’s wedding photos, I didn’t look like the me I pictured in my mind.” “How true,” I thought. I too am dumbstruck when I see a different version of me than I imagined when I look at a photo of myself. Only now that I’ve been blogging more than a year, do I feel comfortable releasing my photo likeness. I no longer grimace at the prospect.

Having grown accustom to my gravatar, floating water lilies, which reflects the inner calm I strive to maintain amidst life’s ups and downs, I’m not yet inclined to relinquish it in favor of the real deal.

The Wizard of Oz as pictured in The Wonderful ...

Image via Wikipedia

I can’t say that I’m blogging in total anonymity, since there are images of me sprinkled throughout my posts, with my name having been the topic of one, what’s in a name…someone’s life, is all.  Let’s say that like the hobbit with whom I’ve often compared myself, I step out of my cave now and then. The child in me still likes to play games, I think. Of course if I decide to author a book or some literary piece, I may have to step out from behind the curtain of Oz once and for all. Until then, however, I’m still up to my old tricks of…now you see me…

now you don’t………hugmamma. 😉

daily post challenge #195: top 10 or 5 lists

LaVon Hardison - Choices

Image via Wikipedia

The question presented is what’s my opinion about top ten or top five lists? Am I pro, con, or indifferent. I guess I don’t personally pay heed to someone else telling me what their top choices are; I’m going to decide what they are for myself…if I’m interested. And I guess I’m only interested if it pertains to my life, as I’m sure is true for everyone else. 

The younger crowd are probably interested in the top 10 hit songs, or the top 10 celebrities, or the top 5 night spots in a major city. Parents of babies and toddlers are probably searching for the top 5 pediatricians, or day care centers, or babysitters. Those of teens are looking for the best in colleges. Law school grads are searching for the tops in employers. And my generation of baby-boomers are definitely poring through magazines, news articles and travel guides for the top 10 places to retire. 

We are all constantly searching for top vacation spots, no matter our status in life. Getting away from the drone of eking out a living makes the search for the perfect diversion, top priority.

So I guess my answer to the question of top lists being relevant is that they become so when the need to know arises. Otherwise, I don’t think many of us are going around contemplating “What’s tops today?”

…i for one…have a lot of…other fish to fry…hugmamma.  

How Much Is the Fish?

Image via Wikipedia

who is trini lopez?

While I love, love, love moving to the jazzed up folk song “If I had a hammer,” as performed by Trini Lopez, I must admit I knew nothing about him. So to satisfy my curiosity about this 60s entertainer I did some research.

Cover of

Cover of Jefferson Airplane Loves You

Trini Lopez, after years of scuffle as a pop-rock singer, became one of the biggest LP sellers in the world with 1963’s AT PJ’s, a live-in L.A. night club set with family Latin go-go rhythms. Lopez played electric guitar on the rocked-up versions of “If I Had a Hammer” and Woodie Guthrie‘s “This Land is Your Land,” and Mickey Jones, later to play with Bob Dylan on his 1966 World Tour, was on drums. “I took the song, and I made it not only listenable, but also I made it danceable,” claimed Lopez regarding his hit cover of “If I Had a Hammer.” Folk music was really in. I liked the melodies, I liked the lyrics. But I didn’t do them the way they were written. I did “em my way. I changed them around for my own satisfaction, my feelings of the songs, and MY beat. I bet you people that weren’t too much into folk-rock progenitor sounds heretically far-fetched, consider that Marty Balin of Jefferson Airplane cited him as an influence in the liner notes to the JEFFERSON AIRPLANE LOVES YOU box set, telling Jeff Tamarkin: “I remember when Trini Lopez was doing folk music to electric instruments and it was very tacky, but the idea was cool.”

Richie Unterberger in Turn! turn! turn!: the 60’s folk-rock revolution

Ooh, ooh ooh
Ooh, ooh ooh

If I had a hammer
I’d hammer in the morning
I’d hammer in the evening
All over this land

I’d hammer out danger
I’d hammer out a warning
I’d hammer about the love between my brothers and my sisters
All, all over this land

Ooh, ooh ooh
Ooh, ooh ooh
Ooh, ooh

If I had a bell
I’d ring it in the morning
I’d ring it in the evening
All over this land

I’d ring out danger
I’d ring out a warning
I’d ring about the love between my brothers and my sisters
All, all over this land

Ooh, ooh ooh
Ooh, ooh ooh
Ooh, ooh
If I had a song
I’d sing it in the morning
I’d sing it in the evening
All over this land

I’d sing out danger
I’d sing out a warning, yeah
I’d sing out about the love between my brothers and my sisters
All, all over this land

Ooh, ooh ooh
Ooh, ooh

Now, I’ve got a hammer
And I’ve got a bell
And I’ve got a song to sing
All over this land

It’s the hammer of justice
It’s the bell of freedom, yeah
It’s the song about the love between my brothers and my sisters
All, all over this land

Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah
Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah

All over this land
Ooh, all over this land
Hee, all over this land, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah
Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah

All over this land
Hee, all over this land

from http://www.lyricsmode.com/lyrics/t/trini_lopez/if_i_had_a_hammer.html ]

remember when we use to dress like the audience?…and sit quietly, listening, not screaming?…seems eons ago…hugmamma.

a “hand-up” for local seniors

As my husband and I approach full-time senior citizenship, when he retires that is, I’m becoming ever more aware of things we now take for granted. Friends of mine in their 70s who lost their dental insurance a few years back, have not been able to afford preventive dental care.

I truly believe, having seen the negative results my mom’s mostly toothless smile had on her overall well-being, that healthy teeth go a long way in ensuring one’s quality of life. And the longer our generation of baby-boomers continues to occupy earth space, we most certainly want to spend the extra time doing what we want to do, not what we have to do, like abstaining from all life’s pleasures just to stay alive.

So for those in our local community who have to forego dental care because of lack of insurance, the following might be an option. The ad ran in January 7, 2011 edition of The Issaquah Reporter, fast becoming my favorite print paper, aside from the Wall Street Journal.

Affordable Teeth Cleaning at the Issaquah Valley Senior Activity Center (age 60 & over) only $75! price includes

  • Fluoride treatment
  • Oral cancer screening
  • Dental hygiene assessment
  • Professional cleaning by licensed hygienist of teeth, dentures and partials
  • Referrals to local dentists

Call the Senior Center to schedule your appointment 425-392-2381. Services provided by Healthy Smiles at Issaquah Valley Senior Activity Center.

Wouldn’t it be fabulous if such programs were available nationwide? How about optometry services? How about senior discounts for haircuts and hair styling? Quality of life for the elders in our society would surely see an upswing, if they were given a “hand-up” financially. If only those in the “driver’s seat” would remember that one day they too will be “passengers,” no longer in control. That it won’t always be “business as usual.”

hope such services are available when our insurance disappears, and we’re living on a fixed income…hugmamma.

“ringing in the ear,” not just a senior problem

I THINK I’ve experienced tinnitus, “ringing” in the ear, but I can’t be certain, because I tried to ignore whatever it was. My mom often spoke of it, so I thought only elderly people heard “ringing” in their ears. And, of course, I was trying really hard not to get older. Looks like my reaction was the right thing to do.

According to an article in today’s Wall Street Journal, “A Most Annoying Ringtone,” many causes can be blamed for tinnitus. It can result from “hearing  loss-due to aging, exposure to loud noise, accidents, illnesses, auditory nerve tumors, wax buildup, drug side effects, history of ear infections, brain injuries from explosive devices, head and neck trauma, TMJ (temporomandibular joint disorder), or hormonal balances.” 

Tinnitus, from the Latin root word for “jingle,” is the perception of an external sound when none is there. It varies for people. Some hear a high-pitched buzzing, others hear a “ringing, roaring, hissing, chirping, whooshing or wheezing. It can be high or low, single or multi-toned, an occasional mild annoyance or a constant personal din.” Experts surmise that when hearing is lost in certain frequencies, the brain attempts to fill the void with noise that’s imagined or remembered. Audiologist Rebecca Price, who treats tinnitus in Durham, N.C., at Duke University’s Health Systems, says “Those auditory centers are just craving input.”

The CDC, Centers for Disease Control, estimated that 16 million American adults experienced frequent bouts of tinnitus in 2009. An estimated 2 million are unable to function normally when sleeping, working, concentrating, and interacting with family. Thanks to baby boomers, the elderly population is rising in numbers, as are the incidents of tinnitus. Remarkably 12-year-olds are also complaining of the ailment, according to Jennifer Born, speaking on behalf of the American Tinnitus Association, a nonprofit education and advocacy group. The culprit it seems might be “personal music players cranked up high.” Vets from Afghanistan and Iraq also suffer tinnitus, the “No. 1 service-related disability,” as a result of brain injuries from explosive devices.

Treatment for tinnutis runs the gamut from hearing aids to antidepressants. “The first step in treating tinnutis is usually to determine if a patient has hearing loss and to identify the cause…ear-wax buildup…infections, accidents, aging, medication side effects and noise exposure.” If loss of hearing is reduced, chances are it also dramatically reduces tinnitus, or at least makes it more tolerable for the sufferer, according to Sujana Chandraskhar, a otolaryngologist in New York and chairman-elect of the American Academy of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery.

Surgery can help as in the case of 42-year-old, New York, pipefitter Frank Scalera, who’s suffered tinnutis since age 15, when a firecracker blew out his eardrum. After 10 surgeries his hearing is restored, and the ringing he’s experienced for 30 years has lessened. Hearing aids help about 40% of patients because they restore “sound in lost frequencies, so the brain doesn’t need to fill in the void. But some also have hyperacusis–in which normal sounds seem unbearably loud–so a hearing aid may be uncomfortable.”

Sound therapy is another treatment option. Soothing external sounds are used to drown out the internal ringing. Some people  are relieved by running a fan, a humidifier, or a machine that emits the sound of waves or waterfalls. At night when tinnitus is most noticeable, thereby disrupting sleep, some even prefer to listen to the static on a radio. Hearing aids also intermix soft “shhhsssing” tones to mask the ringing. But these are not usually covered by insurance and are expensive at $2,500+ per ear.

More sophisticated, and costlier at $4,500,  is the Oasis by Neuromonics Inc. A device that is similar to an MP3 player, it “plays baroque and new age music customized to provide more auditory stimulation in patients’ lost frequencies as well as a ‘shower’ sound to relieve the tinnitus.” According to the company, the brain is gradually trained to filter out the internal noise. “Users listen to the program for two hours daily for two months, then the shower sound is withdrawn for four more months of treatment.” Duke University political science professor Michael Gillespie, claimed the device helped him after he got tinnitus from an ear infection. He says he became accustomed to hearing the music, and then his brain filled in with less irritating sounds.

Some people find tinnutis a cause for anxiety. As mentioned earlier, I identified the “ringing” in my ears with old age. I would’ve dwelt upon other illnesses associated with the elderly, making me a captive of my own fears. Luckily my bouts of tinnitus only last several seconds. “Researchers long theorized–and have now seen on brain scans–that the limbic system, the brain’s primitive fight-or-flight response, is highly activated in some tinnitus sufferers. Patients often have generalized anxiety disorder or depression and a few become suicidal; but its unclear which came first.”  Antidepressants or anti-anxiety medication can bring relief for some. Stress can bring on tinnutis, so that alternative health practices can be helpful, like yoga, acupuncture, deep breathing, biofeedback or exercise.  Supplements such as ginkgo, zinc, magnesium, as well as other over-the-counter remedies are advertised to relieve tinnutis, but are not supported by scientific research.

RTMS, repetitive Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation, a new magnetic pulse treatment has served to treat severely depressed patients for years. Some found that it also stopped the ringing in their ears. Patients feel the treatment is “like a mild tapping on the head and brings no harmful effects.” Brain scans are done to identify tinnutis. Those with severe cases are found to suffer abnormal “communication between parts of the brain responsible for hearing and maintaining attention.” Dr. Jay Piccirillo, a otolaryngologist at Washington University in St. Louis, likens rTMS to “shaking an Etch-a-Sketch to erase an old picture.” Pulses are sent through the skull by a magnetic coil that is placed over the auditory cortex outside the head, to disrupt the faulty communications.

Cognitive behavioral therapy has been found to be one of the most effective treatments for tinnutis. Patients are treated for their emotional reactions to the ailment, not the noise itself. ” ‘The goal is to make your tinnitus like your socks and shoes–you’re wearing them, but you’re not actively thinking about them,’ says Dr. Chandrasekhar.” Or as one patient, Mark Church, an entrepreneur and investor, put it ” ‘It’s like living near an airport. After you’ve lived there for a while, you don’t pay attention to the planes…’ ” Having lived with tinnutis for 11 years, Church favors being in his shower, where the water drowns out the noise. Duke University Medical Center psychologist Michelle Pearce, begins therapy by having her patients identify “the automatic negative thoughts they have about tinnutis.” One claimed no one would marry her, while others felt their lives were over. Working with them, Dr. Pearce helped them realize that their lives didn’t revolve around tinnutis, that it was only one aspect which could be managed.

The local, evening news ran a segment about the growing effects of tinnutis, especially amongst youngsters. At fault it seems is the ramping up of noise levels with the invention of  iPods and the like. Looks like what use to be an old age issue is now open to all ages. It’s not something I want for myself at 61, so it’s unfortunate that 12 year olds can now suffer “ringing” in their ears as well. It took me 50 years to experience what can affect them in their youth… if they’re not careful.

before their time, here’s hoping youngsters don’t get old…hugmamma.

daughters, vicious cycle?

If anyone asked my best advice in rearing a daughter, I’d have to say “refrain from a feeling of ownership.” Because my daughter’s birth seemed a miracle after 16 years of marriage without conceiving, I sincerely thought of her as a gift from God. Corny as it may sound, I surmised I was to her as Mary was to Jesus, someone into whose hands my child had been entrusted, that God had chosen me as her caretaker here on earth. I never looked upon my daughter as a possession; I still don’t. She remains a gift to be cherished.

I have the luxury of doting on an only child, within a middle-class environment. She has been loved unconditionally and has thrived on mine and my husband’s undivided attention. Lucky for us that she is humble and self-effacing, never over-stepping the limits of our generosity. She’s never been in the habit of asking; we’ve always been inclined to bestow, especially since we went without, as children. This might be said of most baby-boomers. Had our daughter had siblings, or been of a more rankling temperament, our lives would most certainly have been different. To say that our family is blest is an understatement.

Is it ever certain which is derived from which, a good child begets a good family, or a good family begets a good child? I don’t know the answer, maybe the experts do. What I have always felt is that children are “clean slates” upon which adults leave their marks. While we are humans unable to control our every word and our every act, we should be vigilant in our efforts to do just that. Unlike a chalk board, we cannot erase what we have inscribed onto our children’s minds, hearts and souls. Our legacy remains for good or bad, the latter to be dealt with by our offspring as best they can. Some are strengthened; some struggle to recover; some distance themselves forever from their parents.

Within the past 2 to 3 weeks I’ve read My Mother’s Keeper by B.D. Hyman and The Girl Who Walked Home Alone by Charlotte Chandler. Both were biographies of actress Bette Davis, the first published without her prior knowledge, while the latter enlisted her complete involvement.

Hyman’s book was a tragic ending for both Davis and her daughter. It was written and released in 1985, 4 years before Davis’ death in 1989. The vendetta as detailed in My Mother’s Keeper, publicly impaled Davis upon the sharp-tongued ramblings of her birth daughter, who wrote the book as an ultimatum, as much to right all the wrongs against her, her husband and their 2 boys, as to gain the upper hand in their relationship going forward. Upon first read the book was a revelation of sorts, although it seemed in keeping with Davis’ on-screen persona as a tough broad who brooked no-nonsense. But more than halfway into the book it seemed to acquire a mean-spiritedness. Davis was portrayed as having no redeeming qualities, while Hyman looked upon herself as a victim. Unnerving, it allowed a bald view into  family secrets which should have remained just that. Whether or not Hyman should have “grown” a backbone and confronted Davis in person, severing ties if necessary, is a question that goes unanswered. Hyman’s reason for suffering Davis’ abuse, love. If true, why the need to diminish Davis in the eyes of her fans? Was that done from love?  

“Bette had been told her daughter’s book was terrible, that it would hurt her deeply, but she hoped those who had told her had exaggerated. …’I had to know what it said. I read every searing word. I read it only once. I will not need to go back. I will remember every hate-filled sentence branded on my soul, as long as I live.’ It was, Bette said, more painful than anything she had endured in the hospital, worse than her mastectomy, more terrible torture than the strokes. ‘Finding out that my only natural child not only didn’t love me but actually detested me was the most terrible thing that happened in my life. Absolutely.  …She broke my heart, if that’s what satisfied her.’  … Bette never again spoke to her daughter.”

The Girl Who Walked Home Alone brought the balance I sought after reading Hyman’s book. While Chandler’s book did not excuse Davis’ behavior as a mother, it gave me the opportunity to “walk in her shoes.” 

” ‘All my life I’ve talked about the importance of my mother. And I’ve brushed aside my father, because he brushed me aside. Since my father walked out on Ruthie and Bobby and me, I’ve always said I didn’t care, but…Oh, hell! I did. He was a brain. I tried so hard to win him, to get his attention, but he didn’t seem to like children, especially his own.  … The first man in my life, my father, left me, and that started the pattern. I was always afraid it might happen again, so I tested each man until he failed.  … I had to work, to compete, to struggle, because I had to show him what a mistake he’d made in leaving his seven-year-old daughter who worshipped him. And, indeed, I did show him, except he didn’t see it. I think that everything I am, as a woman of a certain age, was present in that little girl I was, trying to get the attention of my father. He was not interested. Now, he’s long dead, my career is largely over, and so is my own life, but I think I’m still trying to get his attention.  …Sometimes the shortest distance between two points of view is a straight lie. I’m still direct, but one can carry directness too far, where one goes around being so bright and so honest that you hurt people. I learned wrong lessons from my father that probably hampered me as a woman. But he gave me a very good brain, and that helped me to hang on. In his whole life, Daddy loved only one creature that I know of–his dog, a vicious chow who bit everyone in sight. Daddy would roar with laughter when I went to visit him and he saw how terrified I was by the dog’s purple tongue and its sharp, fierce teeth. I think he enjoyed it immensely when his dog bit people. The last time I went to see him, Daddy was alone with that dog. My father died at only fifty-two. I think he was too bright to enjoy being alive. His contempt for all of humanity included himself. Poor Daddy! Now I understand and can have sympathy for him. How isolated from the world he was! I can only guess at his unhappiness; I understand his loneliness. He left me his wife, his daughter, all of the responsibilities of a man–and a lifetime of trying to fill the legacy of his absence.” 

All mothers are daughters first. Experiences in childhood forever impact our own dealings as adults, especially in raising our offspring. It’s never too late to understand and forgive. But there’s no prescription as to how this happens. It’s a path we have to choose for ourselves, but it’s best done with compassion, and hope… for a better tomorrow.

hugs for daughters, and mothers…hugmamma.