Archive for the ‘Growing Old’ Category

blmbristol

Black people are telling us they are exhausted. Of racism. Of having to comfort their children. Of schooling them on ways not to get hurt or killed. Of fearing for their safety.

I’m white and I’m already exhausted just after the last month. I can’t imagine what they must feel.

I’m going back and forth with people on social media, in person, etc. and this is what is getting to me. People are so steadfast in their opinion and not budgeable (not sure if that is a word but I like it and it’s staying) in any way.

But wait, Mary, you are also stubborn and have strong views! You’re not really budgeable either!

That’s only partly true. I am prone to a stubbornness on some matters and I am passionate. But I am budgeable.

Every day I am trying to grow. Reflect. Help. Listen to others who are begging to be heard. I read.

I am fifty-five years old and I am trying.

I just don’t understand the inability or lack of desire to engage in thoughtful dialogue. Or to do anything at all.

Our vice-president, when pressed during a meeting, resisted saying, “Black Lives Matter.” He instead said, “All Lives Matter.”

Leaders have an impact.

My cousin in Northern Ireland (a place once riddled with violence, oppression, prejudice and a minority Catholic population) told me that change has to start from the bottom up and not the top down. It has become quite apparent that this is true.

So there is hard work ahead for all of us.

Cousin also told me that it does no good speaking to people who already think like me. Also true.

So there is hard work ahead for all of us.

What can we do? How can we help our fellow citizens?

We can start by doing something very simple.

Listen.

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How can I (or anyone) take action, to help my fellow countrymen/women, in a positive way?

First of all we need to be honest. And that is really, really hard.

Racism is alive and well in the United States. I don’t have to tell you that. Just turn on the television.

Someone asked me, at a socially distanced barbeque, what percentage of Americans I thought are actually racist. I quickly pulled out a 99% and I included myself in that number. The person who asked the question-along with my husband-did not agree with me.

Maybe I should use the word biased and not racist. Everyone has some bias. Not our fault. It’s in our politics. In our growing up years. In our society. Inherently. We don’t even notice it.

There lies the rub. We don’t even notice it.

We need to notice it. In order to create change we need to take notice and start questioning.

Not too long ago there were only white males in power or positions of authority. We (white people) didn’t even think about it. Until we did. And made changes.

I will share a story from my beloved father’s own mouth. He wasn’t telling me out of pride.

My mother, a bright lady, was a Registered Nurse. She skipped a grade in elementary school, graduated high school and was soon in the nursing program at a Rhode Island hospital. She loved her job and her nursing friends. I can still remember one evening, while I was upstairs in bed, hearing them while they laughed and smoked. I think that is probably the first time I also became aware of someone who was gay. One of Mom’s nurse friends.

Mom worked on the first heart/lung machine in Rhode Island. She also taught others. Pretty cool stuff.

My Dad was always so very proud of her. Almost to his dying day, if he was at a Drs. appointment-hers or his, he always mentioned that she was a nurse.

In the 1960s, when my parents married, three kids quickly arrived on the scene.

So, back then, life gets a bit tricky. And my mom was going to have to quit or cut back hours.

Dad told me, that a male Doctor from the hospital actually called him on the telephone. Asking if Mom could still work. Dad nicely and respectfully told the Doctor that they had a growing family.

When I was listening to my Dad tell this story I was sort of shocked. My stomach kind of lurched. I felt terrible for my mom (although she did work as a nurse part-time for years before going full-time again) -that the decision was not really hers.

I appreciated my father sharing that with me across their dining room table. I also appreciated that in the 1950s and 1960s things looked a whole lot different for women.

Did my Dad’s views change as he got older? Of course, they did.

Why?

Because people took notice and things changed for women.

But how many years had passed before someone noticed?

Now is the time for all of us to pay attention and listen.

Most importantly it is time to take notice.

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I trust that you have all established some type of routine in this time of Covid. I sincerely hope that you are all healthy and well.

Today is “Juneteenth.” This unofficial holiday commemorates the day, in 1865, that a proclamation was finally delivered in Texas. It was announced that the slaves were free.

When I say slaves I mean Black people who were taken from Africa and brought to America.

Taken.

They weren’t packing their bags for the long journey, double checking their itinerary and looking forward to exploring a new place.

These people were stripped of everything. Their homeland. Their families. Their Moms and Dads. Their children. Their religion. Their culture. Their language.

And then abused in a foreign land for decades and decades.

I am currently doing research on a family that had ties to a town called Falmouth in Pendleton County, Kentucky. The amount of “Mulattos” in any one family (on census reports) is astonishing and sickening. Because we all know what that means. We are not talking about love stories. Women were raped and impregnated by their owners or other white men. That’s a fact.

So today is a day which should be a cause for celebration. Weirdly.

And yet, the African-American experience is not even taught during the academic year in all U.S. public schools.

I am going to continue to write about this issue in each posting. It is time for me to reflect and figure out how I personally can take action to promote positive change.

It is time for all Americans to reflect.

Socrates said, “The unexamined life is not worth living.”

To my Black friends and fellow Americans-I hope this year brings positive change in your lives and the lives of your families. I stand with you.

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One thing that I am sure you all noticed once this pandemic hit. The amazing amount of emails sitting in your in-box. Basically businesses sending a “How we are responding to COVID-19” message.

Started off slowly. I received an email from the following:

The Optometry Center in Texas where my daughter (now twenty-eight years old and hasn’t lived in Dallas since she was in ninth grade)once had an eye exam.

A mom group selling spirit wear. Also from the grand old state of Texas when my daughter was in Middle School.

Tempo Air. Again from our Dallas days. Those fellas were in high demand at our house and regularly scheduled.

Realtors from our Southern California years. Left there in 2012.

And then came the onslaught.

Megabus. Airlines. Parishes. Restaurants. Delivery services. Theaters. Groceries. Charities. Department of State. Blogs. Blood Banks. Social media sites. Tourist spots. Hotels. Inns. Travel sites. Local shops. Schools. Universities. Sports teams. Cultural groups. Gyms. Genealogy sites. Museums. Petition groups. Social justice causes. Voting information. Banks. Craft sites. Auction houses. Utilities. Book stores. Clubs.

Etcetera!

Not just me, right?

I’ve received correspondence from anyone (and everyone) I might have nodded at or greeted in the last fifteen years!

Honestly, why does the government even need an app to track our whereabouts? Here’s my email address. This is a contact tracing of my life. Just gonna leave it right there.

There is a positive side to this. Besides taking me on a trip down memory lane! It provided me with an opportunity to get organized. I unsubscribed from many of these lists and then deleted the mail. Took the time (a little bit each day) to bang these bad boys out, resulting in a much tidier in-box. Saving me time in the future.

Feeling better already!

Have a lovely weekend and stay safe.

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Happy New Year to you all! Wishing everyone the very best!

I need to finish up “part two” so I can get it out of my head to make room for more.

So, in the last posting, I wrote about how we (the Hannah and I) happened upon a witches’ tea and a spirit gallery in the Northeast pocket of Vermont. You’ll need to go back and read “Part One” if you haven’t seen it yet. Just to familiarize yourself. Totally random.

We were signed up and ready to participate. It was a group setting. Salicrow, the Medium, would pull five or six names out of the jar and act as a conduit for the visiting spirits. One at a time, of course!

The session, per her numerology love, begins at 3:33pm and ends at 4:44pm.

As I previously mentioned there were a few folks finding comfort in hearing from parents who passed. As well as the very sad case of a spirit whose earthly body left way too soon by ghastly measures.

Salicrow displayed nothing but compassion and care.

She reaches her hand in the jar and whips out another ticket. I check my stub and it’s a match! I’m never a winner. Not saying I’m a loser. Not that. I just don’t usually win things.

So, I have to go and sit in the chair next to Salicrow. My daughter is thrilled. She later tells me she prayed so hard that I would get chosen.

It was mentioned, at the beginning of the session, that some people record the experience because it can be a lot to absorb. We didn’t but I wished that we had.

I’m skeptical. When it comes to me. I am a pretty grounded person with a light-hearted personality. But I am no airy fairy. I’m tolerant of those folks but I am not one of them. It’s just a fact.

Except.

Except when it comes to friends and family who I miss. The welcome mat is always out for any/all signs and visitors.

Salicrow asks who I want to communicate with today. I should have said, “Strongest spirit” to see if this gig is all legit. LOL. But I was a little nervous about being the center of attention in a group.

So I spit out, “My Dad.”

She begins. Says my dad is here. He’s proud of me. She says that he was more involved as a grandfather. That he’s sorry he didn’t play with me. He says he loves me. Said that one of the grandkids was clingy.

Wants to know if the number fifty-six means anything to me. It doesn’t. I’m skeptical (like I said) so I’m thinking she can ascertain ages of people. And does math in her head. I’m fifty-four at the time. But I do try to cooperate because I am a pleaser. It’s tough when you are in the spotlight. All thinking goes out the window.

I offer, “Maybe the year he came to this country?”

But I don’t think that’s it.

Then she is asking if he had an accent (because I said he came to this country?) so I laugh and say, “Yes, he had a heavy Rhode Island accent.”

Everyone chuckled.

And that is true. Even though my Dad was raised in Ireland he died with a Rhode Island accent. But he never let go of the Irish pronunciation of TH. It came out as just T. He’d be yelling for me, “Mary Bet”-my nickname was Mary Beth. In all fairness to dear old Dad I have heard many Rhode Islanders who suffer that same affliction.

To prove that I am not making up this bit. On his eightieth birthday I had a prepared speech (as the self anointed emcee) which included a game, “How well do you know Pat?” This skit included memories and fun facts.

One of those memories was when my kids were little and teasing him. Asking, “Papa, what are the gas prices in Rhode Island?”

They couldn’t wait for his answer, “Tree-tirty-tree.”

Total setup. How they giggled.

One of his six sisters, my Auntie Maureen, immediately came to his defense (even though she wasn’t even there-but that is sister behavior all over the world) and said that the Irish don’t pronounce the TH because the Irish language didn’t have a TH. And I guess never fully converted to the English.

So this party is documented somewhere. And Hannah is the one who later reminded me of that memory.

The session this day began at 3:33pm. Like Papa and the gas price. Tree tirty tree.

Anyway, I didn’t learn anything new from this session. I know, without any doubt in the world, that my father loved me. And I loved him.

True, he didn’t play with us. Except on vacation. Or sometimes throwing baseballs to my brothers in the backyard. But there wasn’t a dad in my neighborhood who I can recall playing with their kids. It was just the time. The seventies.

And Salicrow could have figured that as well.

Anyway, it was all a feel good moment.

When I returned to Rhode Island I was sharing the experience with my older brother. He said, “I’m fifty-six.” Which is also how many years my parents would have been married at that time. Sometimes when you are on the spot you suffer a mental block!

Fifty-six, three-thirty-three and more. A lot of coincidences that day.

Reminds me of Albert Einstein’s words,”Coincidence is God’s way of remaining anonymous.

I’d like to think that’s true.

Wishing you all a year of health and happiness.

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Greetings all!

Hard to believe the seasons are sailing past us. I know there is no magic wand to slow it all down. Nor should there be. Because then I’d just be playing God with the seasons.

Swish of the wand.

Spring. Sure, stick around, temps are good. Green buds everywhere. Life.

Summer, you too, are welcome to just laze. No one rushing you.

Autumn, I know I said I always loved you.

Attractive boots. Sweaters. Apples. Cider. Colors everywhere. Rah rah from nearby stadiums. Wool suits. Burning leaves in the backyard.

So many people proclaim, “I love the Fall.” And I agree with them smiling. Say things like, “Me, too.” Now I say, “Me, too, but it’s the transition thing that’s tough for me.”

This year wasn’t too bad. Because the youngest returned to school early for three weeks of training. So it wasn’t like September 1st rolled around and my kid was gone again. It was still warm and summer when I helped unpack her at university.

But I ride my bike down the East Bay path and the beach is empty. The cacophony of the park and recreation area, normally present in the summer, has been stilled now that all of the little day campers have gone. No more thwonks of tennis balls hitting the courts. Only the honks of the Canadian geese, befouling/befowling the area, are heard.

Traffic patterns changed. Tourists and summer folks left while the school buses returned. The ones you’ll do anything not to be stuck behind when they pick up or discharge their precious cargo. God bless them. But still. We all have things to do, right?

It’s dark. The clocks have been changed. Halloween, Thanksgiving and Xmas shopping.

I have not been sitting here moping. Been a busy woman. Did some community service in town. Organized a team for an Alzheimer’s Walk. Visited youngest up in Vermont. Sat in on a couple of her university classes. Am ahead of my reading challenge (100 by end of year) by one book! Had Lasik procedure on my eyes. Felt blessed that my mom turned 80 years old last month. Delved into African-American authors. Enjoyed visitors up until last week. Currently doing my civic duty and loving it.

But still. Haven’t packed up the entire patio. Or transferred garden ornaments into the garage.

Maybe this weekend.

Here is a poem by Langston Hughes. Recently finished a book of his. So enjoyed it. And I am not a “sit under a leafy tree and blow on dandelions while making wishes/reading poetry type of girl.” He was good.

autumn

I mean, that’s it in a nutshell, isn’t it? Autumn. And then Winter.

With that being said, I do enjoy the change of seasons. I pined for it while living out of New England. Even more so when we moved overseas.

I enjoy the change. Not the transition.

 

 

 

 

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My younger daughter is encouraging me to continue my education. I am actually considering it. The kids have flown the coop and I am not ready to be put out to pasture quite yet.

So I started slowly exploring it. Not even to complete a degree but because I am so very curious about things. Not calculus. No, not that. Other subjects. ūüôā

My first on-line search was a nearby private, liberal arts university. Would be super convenient. I typed in the address to access their website. Was a bit dismayed when I found the description of their program that would suit an adult learner like me.

skoolhelp

I then started poking around the website. The errors in grammar and spelling throughout the site were more than a few.

Now, nobody’s perfect. I totally get that.

But I am allowed to make all the spelling mistakes in the world. Because I am a learner. Not an institute of learning!

Of course, I feel it’s my duty to let them know that their website needs some attention.

Side note: I also let a local long-standing brewery know that their web page needed a spelling correction. And kept the administrator of an author’s Facebook page in the loop when errors glared. Can’t help myself.

If someone has a business or product they want to sell then I think it absolutely needs to be done properly and professional. On-line or not.

It is no different than the receptionist at a Doctor’s office. It helps form the first impression and is a representation of your business. Or how you do business.

Now, let me git bak to explorring mi opchins for furtha edukacation.

 

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In my last posting I mentioned that I would share some “signs” I’ve received. From my father. Looking back I’d have to say the signs have been pretty amazing. Maybe someone thought I needed “spectacular” to be convinced.

June 14th was a lovely day. I took a drive to the cemetery where my father is now resting. Again, it’s me, myself and I. At least as far as my eye can see.

I pulled up near my Dad’s headstone. Did the usual. Greetings and a prayer.

As I wrapped up with a big amen (okay, it was a little silent amen) I turned from the grave and headed toward the car. I said (aloud because no one was near me and I wanted to hear my own voice), “Okay, Patrick, do your stuff. Give me something.”

So, as I am waiting, I take a few steps across the lane to look at other tombstones. Lots of folks from my growing up community reside in this cemetery. I like to read some of the different names or epitaphs. Sometimes pray for those I know. Maybe a parent or grandparent of an old friend or neighbor. I ambled over to one that had the last name “WORK” on it. Never heard that surname.

Dad used to say, “Hard work always pays off.”

But that’s not the sign.

I don’t think.

Anyway, within two minutes of me asking Dad for some magic, I spot something else! It’s about four graves down from the WORK tombstone. I can see that it is partially hidden by the last grave in the row. And it’s moving!

I should be afraid since I am totally alone. Not a person in sight. Could there be someone out of sight? A murderer? Or possibly a street urchin?

There is some type of fanning motion. Back and forth. What on earth? A geisha in the midst of a fan ceremony?

I start toward the grave to investigate. The thing starts to move away from the tombstone! I am hot on its trail. Not a bit afraid.

turkey1turkey2turkey3tureky4turkey5turkey6

Mystery solved.  Tom the turkey just taking things slow on a sunny afternoon.

The turkey spirit animal is a symbol of abundance. It is an encouragement to celebrate your resources that nourish your physical, emotional, and spiritual aspects. The turkey symbolism brings the message of unlocking the richness of your life so that you can appreciate everything.

Thanks, Dad. Miss and love you.

 

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So many books. So little time. Still working on my 100 book challenge!

But it’s all good. I always learn something. Even if it’s not a great read.

Just recently I was reading another book about Edna St. Vincent Millay. I was, once again, reminded of her brilliance. And her care for women and human rights.

There was one quote of hers in this book that touched my heart.

Her beloved mother had just died. A friend was offering an expression of sympathy.

Vincent replied, “But there’s nothing to say. We had a grand time. But it’s a changed world. The presence of the absence is everywhere.”

Touched my heart.

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Woke up to snow on the car this morning. Not much. Just enough to remind a person not to get too cocky when it comes to New England weather.

Here is number 15 on the “We Will Get Through This Cold Spell” list.

Grab a pencil. Or a laptop. And start exploring/researching three places you would like to visit when the weather starts cooperating. Doesn’t have to be a big, expensive trip. Might be in your own backyard. It usually is.

Could be a hike. Or a restaurant. A farm. An ice cream stand. A festival. Wine trail. Antique show. A picnic area. Cheese trail.

Write them down and then post the list where you will see it. A visual reminder of sunny days! And let’s face it, we both know that lists are way better than our memory banks when it comes to actually bringing a thought to life. Getting it done!

I have TONS of things I’d love to do. Places to visit. I hope to get a few of them crossed off my spring/summer list.

Latest addition that I just have to share with you.

It’s a lavender farm. Only a few years old. Looks gorgeous. As lavender fields are wont to do. Located in Connecticut. What a great excuse for Northeast folks to take a day trip and lap up some beauty!

Supporting farmers. Buying local. Soaking up the scent. Being outdoors.

Have a look at Lavender Pond Farm¬†if you are interested. Share with any friends that might also want to put this on their own “To Do” list.

While you are on their site have a look under the tab “About” and read “Our Story.”

A line from a children’s book, “Miss Rumphius” written by Barbara Cooney becomes a part of this family’s journey.

“What have you done to make the world a more beautiful place?”¬†

A shared favorite of the owner and her mother. Often read and enjoyed. Especially during her Mom’s final days before she succumbed to cancer. After having lived with it for more than a decade. She sounded like a very brave and special lady.

This lavender farm is not just paying homage to the farmer’s memory of her beloved mother. It’s also this family’s way of making the world a more beautiful place.

Totally on my list.

All of it.

 

 

 

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