i was there…newtown

I’ve been away from my laptop and Word Press for some time now. There’ve been issues to deal with, some health, some holiday preparedness.

Sitting for hours at a time is not heart-healthy. Nor is it wise for me to overwork my arthritic right thumb…now in a customized brace which I wear daily.

Readership is down considerably. But I’ve learned to accept the ebb and flow of visitors to hugmamma’s mind, body, and soul. The wisdom of age is understanding that life is comprised of many, wonderful moments…and learning to love them…as they occur.

Rigidly living life…is not really living at all.

These last few days, however, life has slowed down for all of us, almost coming to a total halt.

The killing of 6 and 7-year-olds…an incomprehensible tragedy. I am reminded of that other Connecticut tragedy…the doctor whose wife and 2 daughters were slaughtered, after the girls were savagely raped.

I knew I’d want to write about the devastation in Newtown, but decided to take some time to collect my thoughts. Especially since the area was home to my husband, daughter and me for 13 years before we moved west.

Everything the media says about the idyllic life in the small community of Newtown is true. It’s also true of nearby Easton, Weston, and Redding…our home town for 11 years.

Picture postcards do not do justice to the pastoral settings of these towns. One can only glimpse small slices as an outsider.

Living there is…

…awaking to explosions of fall colors in our own backyard…

…traversing 2-lane country roads on the way to everywhere…

…walking our daughter to the nearby Boys and Girls Club for birthday parties…

…celebrating our faith in a tiny, 100-year-old church…

…marching alongside our daughter and the other Brownies in the town’s Memorial Day Parade…

…selling handmade crafts in the annual fair held on the Town Green

trick-or-treating with friends throughout a nearby cul-de-sac, led by a horse who loved a carrot or two.

I made regular trips to Newtown, 10 or 15 minutes from my home. I patronized its antique shops, reveling in my discoveries. Hollandia Nursery was my favorite destination, where I bought most of the plants that graced the gardens surrounding our 110-year-old, Victorian farmhouse. If you visit http://www.ctgrown.com/html/photos.cfm  you’ll get a feel for the wonder that is the New England countryside.

Until she was 11-years-old, our daughter called Redding and the surrounding communities…home. My husband commuted the 2 hours to his job in Queens, New York, just so our child could grow up in the serenity of a small town. He afforded her the same experience we knew as children growing up in Maui and Oahu in the 1950s.

A dear friend who still lives in Redding, and has been a long-time administrator for a couple of schools, commiserated with me that our daughters would find the world beyond their small-town very different. However I think we’d both agree that our girls learned good-old-fashioned values, the kind espoused in Norman Rockwell paintings.

My daughter, a career ballerina, and my friend’s daughter, a veterinarian, grew up fulfilling dreams held long ago… in a small town in Connecticut. Something no longer possible for…

…james…olivia…ana…grace…emilie…jesse…noah…avielle…caroline…catherine…charlotte…chase…daniel…dylan…jessica…josephine…jack…madeleine.

There but for the grace of God.

Let us love our children with our entire beings, so that they grow up to be healthy adults able to cope with life’s ups and downs.

Death awaits all of us. The date and time are unknown. But how we live all the minutes until then…are totally ours to determine.

…let’s choose to live them…with the joy and simplicity of those wise beyond their years…our children…

Chess Club at Sandy Hook School in Newtown, CT...

Chess Club at Sandy Hook School in Newtown, CT, USA. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

………hugmamma.

 

foreign country, home?

HGTV is one of my “go to” stations when I’m surfing the channels looking for somewhere to land. One of my favorite segments, which my husband also enjoys watching, is “House Hunters International.” Being “niele” (Hawaiian for “curious”, my family says I’m “nosey”) by nature, I want to see how other people live, especially in  foreign countries. What are their houses like? Do they reflect a totally different lifestyle, or one not unlike mine? What are prices like? Do they seem in line with what the homes offer in basics, as well as in amenities? I’ve seen HGTV shows filmed in cities like Tokyo, Hong Kong, Honolulu, Paris, Edinburgh and countries like Mexico, Portugal, Spain, Italy, England, Argentina, Costa Rica, and islands like Aruba, Jamaica, the Caymans.

Most of the locations HGTV visits seem to appeal to my exotic side. Of course viewing places I’ve not been as a traveler is like being in a candy shop, face pressed against glass cases, eyes bugging out over the contents. My latest refrain which seems ongoing is “We should retire there.” To which my husband’s reply is always “Yeah?” or “I don’t think so.” I’ve decided he has no exotic side, only a very practical one which keeps me fully grounded. If it weren’t for him, I’d have been airborne a zillion times, never landing for a breather. Of course I’m glad he never takes me seriously for then I’d have to “put my money where my mouth is.” And I’ve no “kala,” (Hawaiian for money, lots of it) to support a lifestyle of the “rich and famous.” Besides, we’re not of that class, being pretty simple in our wants and likes. I’d like a vacation home in Hawaii, and a Volkswagen bug, blue or yellow. See, pretty basic. Well, at least half my wants is…the Hawaiian home…with an ocean view.

While I’m caught up in the moment watching non-natives weighing the pros and cons of various houses in foreign locales, I’m amazed at their decision to live beyond their comfort zones. Some even retiring, lock, stock and barrel, to supposed final homes of their “golden years.” Besides needing a tremendously flexible attitude toward their adopted place of abode and its citizenry, these new residents must be prepared to live within the explicit, and implicit, laws of the land. They might find themselves adrift without a” life jacket” in a face-off with the ruling government where they’d taken up residence. Trying to cloak themselves in the American flag as U.S. citizens might be like moving a mountain, which might prove easier to do in the long-term.

Of note is the ongoing case of Amanda Knox, a University of Washington student who, while studying abroad for a semester in Luca, Italy was accused of murdering her British roommate. The rural town peopled by folk who have probably lived their entire lives in that village have little, if any, experience with foreign visitors except what is stereotypically represented. So it seems in Knox’s case being an American teenager may have prematurely cast her in the widely viewed role of “wild child.” Even I, sitting in the comfort and safety of my home in the U.S., can’t be absolutely certain if she is innocent or guilty. But while her case is on appeal and her parents wage an all-out-war, sacrificing much in time, energy and money, their daughter is serving out a 20+ year sentence.

Being a professed worrier, although I’m getting better, the rampant killings by drug cartels in Mexico City and other parts of Mexico, has me wondering about the safety of retirees who have moved south for the “good life.” In her attempts to assuage my concerns a friend, herself a regular visitor to Puerto Vallarta and whose friends’ family lives on the outskirts of the resort, assures me that Americans are safe. The resorts at which they are guests, are heavily guarded. I’ve also been told by the Mexican woman who works at the dry cleaner we frequent, that the sleepy village where she is from and where her family still resides, is untouched by the violence.

I am not as mystified about Europeans residing in countries other their own. It would be like my having moved from Hawaii to the east coast to New England to where I am now in the Pacific Northwest. The difference, of course, being that European countries are sovereignties. Furthermore the ability for Europeans to travel easily across borders, proposes a certain level of comfort. That ease and inherent comfort are not an intrinsic part of  moving from the U.S. to a country in Europe, Asia, or South America. And then there’s the language. Europeans tend to know more than their native tongue; we, on the other hand, rely heavily upon others knowing English.

It would seem that at least 2 categories of Americans make their homes abroad, those who take their identity with them insisting that their surroundings adjust; or those who are chameleons adjusting to whatever their environs require. Dear friends of ours, a gay married couple, recently bought a home in the Spanish countryside. Imagine my disbelief when my husband told me of their purchase?!?. “How could they just up and decide to move to Spain? Do they know anyone? Are they leaving for good?” But then I let the news sink in. I thought of the 2 men, their effervescent personalities, their annual social gatherings, their love of travel to places like Vietnam and the Galapagos Isles, and their talent for bringing friends together as family. Such reflection left me with no residual qualms, about these 2 fabulous men taking up residence in a foreign country. Perhaps,… I’m even a little envious of their hutzpah.

Having been raised on Maui, I often blame my islander roots as reason for not traveling farther afield with more frequency, or seriously contemplating a permanent home abroad. I use the same excuse for choosing to drive through residential neighborhoods or back roads, rather than speeding down freeways at 60 miles an hour trying to keep up with everyonelse. Call it an island mentality or fear of the unknown, I will never be Marco Polo or Magellan. Perhaps because of my dysfunctional childhood, I find that being with my husband and daughter is more important to me than traveling the globe in search of what I’m already blessed with here at home. But while my search is complete my daughter is confident she’d be fine working, and living, in Europe, if that’s where her career took her. And she goes with our blessing to live the life she envisions for herself, here or abroad. That won’t prohibit me from continuing to give advice, however, that she “drive carefully and be safe.”

is it youth that gives us wings, which when “clipped” in older age keeps some of us closer to the nest?…hugmamma.