Found Objects

I found a photo on the ground yesterday when I was out walking. It was slick with dew, lying adjacent to a lawn with no trash cans in sight and discarded as if it fell out of someone’s pack on the way to the bus stop. Five women were staring up at me, faces aglow with the happiness that comes from what I gathered was a very fun and memorable wedding and neatly labeled on the back with the bride’s name, her mother, and three friends. It was a captured frame of the joy in their moment  and a memory that would likely live on in the minds of these five women forever. The picture certainly had seen its day and was eroding before my eyes. I picked it up carefully and cradled it in my hand, curling it only slightly to maximize the exposure to air so that it could dry. For what purpose I wanted to preserve it, I didn’t know.

I’ll just get this out there now…I’m a pretty nostalgic gal. I like pictures, video, anything to preserve a moment and a good time. I’ve been known to snap photos at most events, capturing  any emotion, and taking pictures of people is by far my favorite hobby. On numerous occasions I’ve grabbed my video camera to preserve a tantrum of one of my kids, mostly to distract, but also to deflect the absurdity in the moment to the silliness that lurks below. It doesn’t always work, but the result is preserved for their own kids to see if the need arises! “Yes, your dad had tantrums too- isn’t that just ridiculous to be crying over the fact that your sister called you a butt?!”

I am my father’s daughter, and like him, photography has always fascinated me. I learned my way around my father’s darkroom by 4th grade, and by 6th grade, I was venturing into my first real enterprise – taking pictures of my teachers, printing up copies and selling them to my friends at school for a quarter. Never mind that the chemicals and paper cost me more than that; it was a great experience in supply and demand for a budding businesswoman. That teacher, one who had taught my older sisters and who was much-loved by many students, was retiring after our year, so the demand for my goods was high!

Unfortunately, thinking about that time also brings up the memory of a few years later, when visiting that teacher, who lived nearby, and who often played his accordion while I joined in on my violin, tried to kiss me on the couch in his living room. His old man smell and bristly unshaven face are now etched in my mind forever instead of that bold, well-loved, handsome man in my photo. What memories we preserve…

By the end of my walk, I had found several other goodies – an elastic rip cord shoelace in decent condition that my son would find a purpose for, and 3 more, very disturbing  items – dog poop in bags, neatly tied, and set along the sidewalk on the grass as if waiting to be picked up by some elusive dog poop picker-upper.

Anyone who knows me knows that I have a few pet peeves. Irresponsibility is up there at the top. Intentional irresponsibility is even worse! I don’t have a dog, for many good reasons, (kids who can barely take care of themselves as top on that list), and not because I don’t enjoy them; I have had a good number of dogs in my life whom I’ve loved dearly. Back when I did have them, it was before the time of picking up the poop in public places, but instead, we just resorted to a leash-pull maneuver and coaxing to get the dog to poop in a benign wooded area. While I do understand the inconvenience of capturing and bagging the deed, I don’t understand the absurdity of bagging and deserting it, thus, my need to go back and state the obvious so that this derelict and any others thinking of a copy-cat offense knows that I AM WATCHING!

I clearly realize that the older I get, the less I care about what people think of me. “Crazy old lady” putting up signs next to dog poop is right up there with “crazy old lady who had 40 cats living with her in her car,” but it’s more than that for me. I’m not a “teacher” in any sense of the word but I teach every single day. My classroom may be small, rude  and resentful at times, but I’m hoping that the values I try to instill in my kids will be ones that they can admire and respect me for  someday. If we don’t do it, who will?

By the time I arrived home and set the photo on my counter, I was disappointed to see that the picture had nearly disappeared. The ink-jet printing layer had turned to dust and all but two faces were totally gone. I know, it wasn’t my memory to preserve, but for about an hour, it was mine.

Thanks, for What?

I was thinking today, with Thanksgiving coming up, that this is a time that I often reflect on what I’m thankful for. I can give you all of my cheesy answers, my family, my health, a great life…but I’m having trouble today, getting images out of my head, ones that no one could be thankful for. My son saw the news this morning and said “mommy, this police officer just sprayed pepper spray at these people!” Why would he do that?”


What could he have been thinking before he did such a thing? Did he think that passive protesters, sitting peacefully on the ground, arms linked and silent posed a danger to him? Was there ever any violence that would have prompted such a response? Had he ever personally been sprayed with pepper spray and if so, was it so benign that he would equate it with the way he would spray the ground around his house to protect against ants? Are passive protesters like pests, just there to damage “his” precious domain that he has vowed to serve and protect? Is he even a real police person or law enforcement officer or just a guy with a uniform? Does he have a daughter or a son and would he want them to be subjected to such a punishment for no harm done to anyone?

I have been sickened and extremely saddened by such overt displays of power and injustice. Whether you agree with the 99%’ers or not, such an act is despicable and wrong.

What did I say to my child? “Yes, it’s awful. And it’s wrong!”  What else could I say?

So THANKS for all of the budget cuts that are forcing people to ignite the fire that lies within! If the politicians in Washington can’t get it together to find cuts in our budget that don’t further affect the poor,  and find ways to raise revenue by making the rich pay their fair share, the rich will continue to get richer while more and more of the 99% get poorer. How long until we find some common sense and morals in this country? How many more people need to die because they can’t get medical help for problems that a one-time congress person’s “government-run” insurance policy would cover for the rest of their lives?

Luckily, in this age of technology, those of us who may not have the time, energy, guts, or gumption to join the 99%’ers in person, still have ways to respond to the cause. Propelling the news of injustices, personal stories, responses by politicians and law enforcement is important. Facebook, email blasts, twitter, blogging and any other way of sharing is vital to keeping these issues alive and energized. This isn’t a fringe movement. It is reality, so please help do your part. None of us is immune from the ramifications of losing anymore funding. If it doesn’t affect us directly, it will certainly affect a friend or loved one. Now is the time to continue to energize the movement to highlight these discrepancies. It’s awful, and it’s wrong!

My daughter “came out” as a heterosexual.

I have tried to be a good lesbian parent. I’ve exposed all of my kids to Pride marches and gay festivities since they were babies, have always dressed them in gender-crossover colors, never sex-stereotyped roles in the family, and have read them “Heather has Two Mommies” since they were old enough to understand. We belong to a church that has a Welcoming Congregation, have had a lesbian Mayor for most of their lives, live in  “Lesbianville, USA” (Northampton, MA ) according to Esquire Magazine, yet somehow we’ve raised a straight child.

Don’t get me wrong, I have nothing against straight people. Many of my friends are straight.  I know lots of kids who are heterosexual, but I haven’t had to deal with it so personally before. My big girls went to an all-girls school, so they were barely even exposed to guys after middle school.  They never talked about boys and if they wore make-up, I didn’t notice it until they were almost graduated from high school. If there was any co-mingling with the opposite sex, it was kept secret from me and certainly not exposed to the rest of the kids. I never worried about my kids getting pregnant, but I guess I was just naive.  Now, I’ve got three more kids who are all in public schools and they are constantly associating with the opposite sex. I’m not sure I’m able to handle this- movies, boys, stylish clothes, crushes, make-up- it’s all just too much for this lesbian mom!

How did I find out? Well, plans were made with a friend to go to the movies…turns out only 2 other boys besides the two girls were going. “Is it a date?” I stupidly and slow-to-grasp this new concept asked? I got a shrug and some sort of mumble in reply.

I’m still in shock that my 12-year old daughter is a heterosexual. Although I’m sure it’s a phase.  I grew out of it.

In 7th grade, I had a crush on “Doug” who I can’t even remember his last name. It was the thing at that age to want to “go out” with a boy. I wanted to be in the cool crowd, so I set out to find one. Somehow he found out I was interested in him and we probably exchanged notes with silly sentences proclaiming our “like” to each other. Maybe I even had him circle a “yes” or “no,” to the question, “Do you want to be my boyfriend?” I don’t remember. What I do remember, vividly, and with much embarrassment, is buying some 4″ tall, white iron-on letters and putting his name “D, O, U, G” down the side of my left leg on my new jeans. How ridiculous and revealing! That romance lasted for much less time than my jeans did, and luckily the letters peeled off, but the memory still lingers.

How am I going to get through this? Are there parent support groups? Books to read? Maybe I should have her see a psychiatrist like my mother wanted me to do when she found out I was a lesbian. Or, maybe I’ll just leave her alone and let her figure it out. Luckily, she knows that we’ll love her no matter what!

Modern Family Power Outages

I admit it, I’m a technology junkie. I’m just shy of a 12-step program for techno-geeks, but I haven’t hit bottom yet. This power outage due to our Halloween Eve snowstorm almost put me over the edge if it hadn’t been for a few bars left on my iphone. My computer is my sole  lifeline to the outside world 5 days a week at work plus the sporadic customers who wander into the showroom. One day last month I was so bored that I carried on a long-distant conversation with the Freight Quote guy who calls me periodically from somewhere in the mid-west!

Power went out on Saturday night at my house. I survived the night in the cold house, then proceeded to turn on (and then back off) the light switches in each room every time I entered, then cursed my forgetfulness that the electricity was out. I charged up my essential iphone using my 2 portable chargers, and ran out of my last drop of juice in the middle of the next night when my white noise app. abruptly shut off, startling me from my fitful sleep. It was a long, too-quiet rest-of-the-night for me! The lessons I learned from 2.5 days without electricity are: 1. I need to get a backup heat source in the house, 2. I need a gas-fired water heater, and 3. I have to buy several more battery backups for my electronics, not necessarily in that order.

Don’t get me wrong…I was able to deal with the primitive living. I took a cold shower, ate lukewarm leftover food heated on the gas stove, dressed in 10 layers of clothes, and played board games instead of watching TV. I was happy to see my kids enjoying themselves and not whining about the lack of TV and computers, and even heard a statement by my 12 year-old daughter who said “I like not having electricity,” and wished I’d gotten that on my iphone video, but I wouldn’t have had enough charge anyway.

I reminded her of that several times in the last 2 days since we’ve been back on the grid, but it seems like a distant memory to her. She’s back to her music, texting her friends on her phone, and has found her old friend The Sims3   computer game, much to her two mothers’ dismay! I don’t get it. I didn’t get it when my oldest daughter was hooked on the original Sims game and I’m in the dark now too. It never interested me to watch soap operas, and this just seems like the same thing except it’s electronic. Being on the outside peering in to virtual lives seems pointless to me, but maybe that’s because I have enough real drama in my life.

My wife and I debate the computer issue weekly, as I walk the fine line of defending some limited use while she teeters on the cliff, ready to throw the computers/TVs and phones to their gruesome death. As much as it bothers me to have my kids engaged in the computer to the point that they don’t hear me (my boy), or argue about getting off when time is up (again, same boy), or try to bargain for more usage or debate the fairness of time (youngest daughter who will be a lawyer someday), or my 12 year-old who is addicted to the Sims, I can justify their use with the many good things that one can get from technology. However, having to oversee that use every day usually falls to my wife, who can see no redeeming values in them when the frustration of negotiating said allotment of time slaps her in the face in loud and annoying ways.

My kids managed to live without power for 2 whole days. Now, with 3 days so far of no school, they can’t seem to live without it. It’s not like they don’t do other things…sports every season, instrument playing for everyone with daily practicing, homework, reading, church on Sundays, Boy Scouts for the son…but it’s now become such an integral part of their lives and mine, that they feel punished when they can’t partake of the activity. How to find balance…

Each generation of kids that are born have their crosses to bear. My parents grew up in the shadow of the depression, not remembering it vividly but seeing it daily in the habits of their parents. My grandparents saved their money well, made sure that their kids didn’t suffer as they had with food rations, power outages, fears of war or the lack of essentials including medicines and sometimes urgent surgeries. They knew what hardship was all about and carefully and deliberately imparted that to their kids. My generation, born in the 1960’s were very young and naive to most of what was happening around them as children. I neither suffered nor thought much about the ramifications of the Vietnam War, and was only mildly affected by the execution of 2 Kennedy’s and MLK, and I hardly remember that war except through stories and movies.

I grew up as a “normal” kid in a small town in MA in the 1960’s. I lived with my parents and 3 sisters in a middle-class home in a mostly middle-class town, with grandparents nearby and a few cousins not too far away. My two sets of grandparents visited often or we visited them in nearby Cranston, RI, where both of my parents grew up. It was an implied notion that family came first, hard work and volunteer work came next, then music and academic studies before “fun” began. I imagined that every kid lived their life as I did, or basically the same, with a few minor differences.

It wasn’t until I was around seven or eight that I realized that my mother’s parents were different. They were both deaf. My grandmother had gotten scarlet fever when she was 5 or so, and with hearing aids could hear dull sounds. She also had experienced sound before she became deaf, so she was able to speak much more clearly and appropriately for the setting, whatever it may be. My grandfather, who had contracted meningitis as a baby was profoundly deaf, and a sweet, loving gentle soul who I loved dearly. He spoke in a hoarse, loud, somewhat crude way, not as easily understood, nor accepted in most “polite” society. I witnessed the stares and giggling when I happened to be out in public with them although I think my grandparents were oblivious or didn’t care. For a child, and a sensitive one at that, it was embarrassing and made me feel like I was constantly looked at as one of the “different” ones.

A few years later, when I was around 10, I remember waiting for my parents for what felt like 4 hot hours with my sisters in the blue family station wagon at a hospital parking lot. I did not know that this day would be the beginning of a life that my family would now and forever after know as “living with M.S.” The sight of my father with a leg brace built into his big brown man-who-works-in-an-office shoe solidified that in stone.

From my 10 year-old self on, I began dreaming of another life for me and my family. I lay in my bed every night before I fell asleep and cried for the dad that I was losing. I prayed to the only “God” that I knew and asked him to help my dad and make him well. I day-dreamed about finding a magic ring and getting three wishes for anything I wanted. I never needed more than one wish- it was to have magic powers whenever I wore the ring. Subsequent wishes would remedy the loss or theft of the ring and render it powerless to do evil. I had it all worked out in my child mind…until I was forced to grow up quickly and take on roles that an adult should own, at 14 years old. I was no longer a sheltered child. I knew what was going on and nothing was hidden from me.

My dad had declined in 4 years from a leg brace to a cane, to 2 canes, then a walker, to a motorized cart and a strong assistant, to a wheelchair, an electric wheelchair, then primarily a bed. When I went off to college at 18, he had daily home health aids and required an assistant and a hydraulic lift to get in and out of his bed. My mother continued to work as a piano teacher out of our home and directed the choir at her church, but otherwise, she was his nurse full-time.

To adjust to the constant loss of physical function was a devastating transition for a once active, energetic man. He was forced to retire from his job as an electrical design engineer at Texas Instruments and was now isolated at home. Anger was an abundant emotion in all of our lives, and often observed and acted out, but rarely spoken of in honest terms. My dad was angry at his losses, and rightfully so, and my mother was angry at her loss of self and the tremendous gain/burden/death-do-you part sense of responsibility. For me-and I can’t speak for my sisters-I was angry most because my dad and I had a special bond that was now shattered. It revolved around the things that he loved most besides us, working on his Model A Ford, his Ben Franklin Clock business, and tinkering on inventions in our basement. He no longer was able to walk, and doing it on stairs was an impossible feat. Instead, I was his hands and eyes. I fixed things that he’d previously expertly fixed when they broke, I did all of the “man” chores in the yard and house, and I continued to fulfill the orders for his clock business until I had no parts left to make the clocks. All of our anger seeped out around the edges of just about every interaction we had with each other and was responsible for  shaping the person who I have become.

I feel very fortunate that my life has taken most of the twists and turns that it has. I’ve been able to meet the challenges that have been hurled at me and believe that I am a stronger and better person because of it. I would never wish a life of pain, emotional or physical on anyone, but I do believe that everything happens for a reason. My kids do not know real hardship or challenges. They will think that they have it rough at times, and that their parents are too tough on them when they obviously disagree with our decisions, but they have had a pretty easy life so far. Isn’t that what all parents hope for?

Last night while watching the hilarious Modern Family TV show, the almost college-bound Haley was trying to write a college essay, but was having trouble with the question “what’s the biggest obstacle that you’ve ever had to overcome?” She couldn’t think of anything and went on to blame her parents for making her life too easy. Her mom, in response, took her for a drive to “show her something” that she felt her daughter “now needed to know.” In a clever ruse, she got her daughter to get out of the car to go and “read what’s carved on that tree,” and then left her 17 yr.old stranded on a deserted road with no cell phone or money so that she’d have something to write about! The show is a sitcom, so there wasn’t any scary outcome to worry about, but it managed to highlight this feeling that I’ve been having about my kids and their simple, uncomplicated lives filled with ease.

I just hope that someday, somehow, they will appreciate all that they’ve gotten in life and that some lessons will be learned. If growing up in a 2-mom home is their biggest challenge, then I hope the positive role modeling that they receive from all of the people who are important in their lives will enable them to become wonderful adults! So far I have 2 who have made it, three more to go!

Half full of sunshine on the road to nowhere…

When I wake up most mornings, my glass is pretty much “half-full.” I rise quickly, don my “good-mood” cap, and am off and running, figuratively, that is. I don’t let the day ahead get me down, yet, and I can usually retain my optimism for a good long while. I’m like the sun who rises up past the cloud in that Jimmy Dean sausage commerciaI, minus the sausage. I even have 2 different colored “Life is Good” T-shirts that I wear regularly to remind me of that slogan, along with the accompanying picture of a glass half-full in case I forget it sometime during the day. Sometimes I put a sweatshirt on and all is forgotten…

When I exercise in the morning, I have a good 45-60 minutes alone to ponder my day, my life, my job, and most of all, what I want to write for my next blog. When I started this project, it was mainly just to record my thoughts. To share them would require some extra work, but since I’m a daring person, I decided I was up to the task no matter what the repercussions. What I’ve taken from this 3-month experiment, is that I’m not sure I’m cut out for this.

First of all, although, the number of post reads is good, I’ve gotten only 2 comments in 8 posts. Secondly, I realize that I care too much about whether people read my posts and I find myself checking stats much more often than I care to want to admit. Thirdly, I have discarded many more subjects and ideas than I’ve approved because they are either too negative or personally revealing, and finally, because sometimes it feels too stressful to find the alone time when probably it’s no more than 3 people who are even reading these things!

It’s not like I’m lacking for ideas. In fact, I’ve got more ideas than I can write, but for some reason, feedback is important to me- even if it’s negative.

So, I’ve come up with an idea for a new system that I hope Facebook and WordPress will consider…it’s a quick rating system that’s anonymous. At the bottom of each post, entry, picture, etc. would be a pull-down menu with lots of different choices for responses to things. Instead of having a very limiting response such as “like” or “dislike,” there would be:

Got me in the beginning but lost me later
Stop writing, you suck!
Keep your day job!
You have potential, but no common thread in your writing.
Somewhat entertaining, but doubtful that I’ll read again.
Yes! I can identify, keep the stories coming!
Wow, that was great!
You had me LMAO!
Great post!

Do you think you could check one of those? Because they would have the option of being anonymous if you didn’t want your friends to know and, you would also have the opportunity to compose your own response, but keep in mind, all responses on WordPress, where my blog sits, are read and approved only by me anyway, so any nasty stuff wouldn’t be seen unless I wanted it so.

Here’s your chance, let me know what you think, and be honest, because I can just start writing in a journal, really!


Gumby Brains and Bumper Stickers

I realize, that at 51 years old, I am one of the “older” parents of my 3 younger kids crowd. I also will note that after doing this parenting thing for 22 years now, I sometimes feel like an “old” parent. I’ve experience the tumultuous adolescent girl years for 2 of my kids already, and while we’ve all managed to live through them, there were a good number of rough patches to mow through. Now, 7 & 10 years later, I’m doing it again and it feels a LOT harder this time!

Each of my kids are very different and although I know that each child has to go through his or her stages in their own time, that knowledge doesn’t make it any easier. I clearly remember the early days of parenting, reading through a plethora of books in my “supermom” effort to find the “expert” answers to all of my first child’s major hurdles. I eagerly employed my new knowledge of all of my child’s stages from “Your One-Year Old Child”, then “Your Two-Year Old”, etc., until I finally gave up or they ran out of books around age seven. By that point, I was armed with many great parenting tools and had moved onto “1,2,3, Magic,” much to my then 8-year-old daughter’s dismay. I will never forget her taking one look at the book and saying “You are not going to make me do that!” Apparently, the “magic” rumor had already circulated among her cohorts!

That same child is now living in Minnesota, taking a year off between college and grad school, so she’s in her “early 20’s” stage. She’s living the life of a young adult, rooming with several other college students in a college town, working at slightly more than minimum wage in a job that she will likely enjoy.

My next daughter is living it up in her second year at college, taking advantage of a wonderful education, playing on the ultimate frisbee team and enjoying her “college years” stage. She’s in no rush to hurry her stages along, which is great, and seems to be basking in the comfort and security that college life offers.

As a quick side note, I was the third of 4 girls in my family, all born within 5 years. My family’s photo albums were full of the 4 of us dressed in matching or complimentary attire, posed in a stair-step fashion of oldest to youngest. I ruined that tradition, when between 7th and 8th grade I sprouted about 5 inches and have towered over my sisters ever since. I remember that it was a pivotal year for me as I gained a much greater self-confidence about my body, liking the changes that being tall brought with it. When I was about 10 or 11, I overheard my mother saying to a friend, “there’s something special about a third child.” It made me feel special and I’ve held onto that feeling for a long time. Lately, I’ve started thinking that “special” meant a whole other thing! I was in a crazy time in my life, riddled with questions about sexuality, rebellious and wanting more independence, and resentful about the changes that were happening to my family. I’ve often wished she were alive so that I could ask her, “how did you make it through that time?”

So…meet my 3rd daughter who has hit seventh grade and is in that “tween” stage of caring about how she looks, what she wears as she attends school, goes to dances and plays on her soccer team. She now has access to most of what high-schoolers do since she is part of a small school that includes grades 7-12. While physically, she’s a tall girl and has an “older girl” look, emotionally she’s still 12 years old. Intellectually, she’s a very bright girl, does well in school, and has a promising future. Unfortunately, making good decisions and having common sense aren’t things that she will get naturally just by getting older…those things, as well as many more character traits, have to be learned.

To my friends, I’d call these the “lost years,” as she traverses the gap between an adolescent and an adult. She’s pretty much lost from us as she finds her way in the world of friends, the pressures of societal norms, exposure to the media and all of the messages she is bombarded with from music to fashion to boys, etc. She rarely responds loud enough for us to hear her, doesn’t like any overt displays of affection in public, and seizes any opportunity to criticize or tease her siblings about anything and everything!

To my wife, I call her a “gumby brain!” It doesn’t matter what I tell her I need her to do, she’ll forget it. Unless I threaten to take away her phone or computer, any requests are routinely “forgotten!” Gone are the days of outstretched arms when I come home with the big scream of “mommy’s home!” along with the cooking projects and fun trips to the park. Now, I have to knock and wait for her to get off her bed and unlock her door in order to not have to shout to her. I’ll admit it, I have texted her while in the house just to avoid that scene at her door. At least I get a response! When I ask if she wants to come to the park and ride her bike around with the other kids, I’m met with a shrug and a mumble of “not really.” I have the same requests every week for her to PLEASE PUT YOUR CLEAN CLOTHES AWAY AND YOUR DIRTY ONES IN THE HAMPER IF YOU WANT THEM WASHED! We rarely see her unless it’s feeding time, and I’ll spare you the details of the difficulty of getting her to go to bed at a reasonable hour and getting her up in the morning.

There seems to be nothing that we do or say that’s of interest to her unless it’s about her or her activities, and everything that she needs bought or cooked or completed for an assignment seems to always come at the 11th hour! And, a recent surge of text messaging (and hell yes, I look at my phone bill often to see her usage), has caused us to take her phone at night for charging in our room!

Now I know, that anyone else who is a parent or even those who aren’t, can identify with what I’m saying. Sure, this too will pass. It’s a stage and she’ll move through it. Soon she’ll enter the real high schooler stage where the true pressures of being a student athlete/band geek will set in. She’ll get a boyfriend(alas, we’ll be dealing with that for the first time!), she’ll start thinking about college, and then it starts over with our next girl(and boy, but he’s a whole other story)!

As for our 9 year-old, soon to be double-digit twins, they are imaginative, musical, and sporty kids who keep us hopping and the house humming with constant singing and instruments, yelling and chasing. Life is good for them. Not much to worry about, not going hungry, clean clothes, loving parents, and totally oblivious to most of what keeps their lives moving along.

Remember when you were a kid, and an adult would say “oh my goodness, you have grown so much since the last time I saw you!” People do that to my kids all the time. I do it myself frequently to other people’s kids who I haven’t seen in ages and am astonished that they’ve continued to grow and change when I wasn’t looking! As if somehow time would stand still. I do believe that change is good, and it’s a good thing I’m a Gemini because change is my middle name!

Yet, as we reach adulthood, and continue to evolve, to move from teenage years to young adult, we think we’re immortal and time seems to stand still for a while. That “baby face” that people told me I had at 22 hasn’t exactly hitched a ride into my 30’s, 40’s & now 50’s, and, the wrinkles that shocked me when I first noticed them in my 30’s, I can barely see without twisting my glasses on my face to see out of the reading part of my progressive lenses. And don’t even get me started on the random hairs that sprout from areas on my face that I can’t see without a bright light and magnifying mirror! Yet, no one comments on these stages we go through once we get past 30!

It’s no wonder that as we get older we forget things more. Yesterday when I was driving my 3 youngest and one of their friends, my 9 year-old daughter started asking her older sister, “do you remember that time we were at the (and I wasn’t really listening to where)…” and went on to recount some past funny situation. “How do you remember things like that?” said her older sister?

“Because she doesn’t have much else in her brain she needs to remember!” I said, sarcastically.

Kids don’t, really. Sure, as they get older their brains fill up, but if I can’t remember every single one of my kids’ birth weights or the exact time they were born, that doesn’t mean I’m ready for the Alzheimer’s ward. I remember that Murphy Brown was on the TV when I had my first pregnancy(second child) , so there! How many of you even remember Murphy Brown! I don’t need to remember phone numbers anymore, as long as I can remember who I’m calling, and I set up every appointment to alert me on my iphone twice before it happens! If there’s something special in the future that I really can’t forget, and a phone alert won’t do, I can send an email to myself into the future and it will arrive on any date I set it to send!

My wife is at her own stage which seems to have moved from “caring for the kids,” to “caring for others who are ill or dying.” She’s moved from caring for her mom (until 2008) to her sister (last week), with her dad throughout that time, and then who knows what. It’s a “big Catholic family” side-effect, that although the good times are great, there are a lot of relatives, so the bad times can be plentiful.

I think that my stage in life now is mainly maintenance, yet I haven’t given up on any growth. I don’t want to lose anything mentally, physically (OK, maybe a few pounds), and any gains are just bonuses! I would certainly like a better job that is more meaningful and rewarding and that utilizes my skills best, but I’m happy to just be working when there are so many unemployed skilled workers. I have plenty of hopes and dreams that I plan to accomplish and I know that things will fall in place when it’s time. I do believe that everything happens for a reason and I’m open to the Universe for whatever is in my future.

My motto comes from a bumper sticker I saw once…it said, “Life is change, growth is optional. Choose wisely!”

(quote attributed to Karen Kaiser Clark)

Juggling Soccer Balls

When I was in my 20’s, I lived in Ithaca, NY, after graduating from college. I used to see an astrologer routinely to seek guidance during some unsettled times. He was an odd sort, this guru of the stars, and he had an uncanny way about him that was always right, no matter how hard I fought his ideas.

I remember it like yesterday, sitting at a routine “reading” of my birth chart, while he summarized where my planets were at that time in my life and what the significance was to the present as well as the ramifications for my future months and years.

“You like routine,” he said.
“Um…No. That’s kind of the opposite of me. I like spontaneity I’m a free spirit!”
“Well, that may be, but routines work for you,” he said.
I don’t remember how long I persisted in denying that fact, but the inevitability has become quite evident in the years since then.

I do like routine. I like knowing that my morning routine of making kids’ breakfasts, packing their and my own lunch box, then sending them out the door with my wife to get to school, leads into my morning workout then shower and off to work.

I like getting to work and having my time alone before customers or other staff come in and break my silence. I enjoy listening to my radio shows as I work. I look forward to the food that I’ve nicely packed, spreading it out over the 7-8 hours so that each item is savored. I also like leaving my work and coming home to my lovely family.

Boring? Maybe, but I’ve interspersed it with the many other more exciting things that I do throughout the day, week, month and year to spice it up, so it doesn’t seem boring to me.

Every once in a while, and some months more often than that, things pop up that disturb that routine. I try to roll with it for the most part, getting my primary needs met differently, but intact enough to reap the same rewards, yet sometimes that’s just not possible. Like a sick kid, perhaps, or a snowstorm, loss of electricity, a dead car battery, one of my kids who’s forgotten something important at home that they need at school, a friend in need, or a dying relative.

Routine for me is the fuel for the system that keeps my family together, so when it’s gone, the whole unit can fall apart and I can start to get grouchy.

I hurt my baby finger on my left hand this week. Why bother you with such an insignificant whiney detail? Because it’s my shift key on my keyboard. It’s the link to the whole system of my hands that keeps things flowing. It’s been out of commission most of the week and still hurts, but I wanted to put this post out, so I’m trying to teach my right hand to do it instead. Easier said than done!

On a larger scale, my wife has been gone since early Sunday morning to sit vigil with her dying sister. I know that it must sound very selfish when I say this, but we miss her here and hope for peace for Patty soon.

I have been a working parent for most of my kids lives, so I know how hard it is to juggle parenting needs with a career. What I am feeling now is probably more akin to the majority of my friends’ lives who all seem to be sharing their kids with an ex-partner and in a relationship with another person who is doing the same thing with their kids. I often point out to them that we have our kids all the time, so “NO we can’t just go out whenever we want because you’ve got nights without kids! Our kids are always here!” I’ve been through that with my two oldest girls, 4 days on, 3 days off, etc., and while that in itself became a routine, it’s not my routine now.

My system now thrives on 2 parents sharing the load. I don’t know how one parent can do all of this day after day. I do know that my kids wouldn’t all be playing on different soccer teams with 6 games a week, taking instrument lessons, playing in the band, singing in the church choir, and one a boy scout. If I were a single parent they would probably have boring afternoons in the after school program so that I could work a full day.

From the outside, my wife and I have very little in common. We share interests with the kids, but overall, we don’t share a lot of interests. I like sports, music, photography, politics, computers and all technology, cars, bikes, and social media sites like facebook. I keep us tethered to the world on a broader plane, while she does it more locally, chatting it up with parents at games, knowing all of the other kids names, and sharing the “us” as a couple and family more personally with strangers & friends. She likes to garden, has more time to cook, likes to take pictures but leaves me with the sharing and transfer of them, hates technology, never watches sports, doesn’t notice when her car is filthy, loves to talk on the phone, and can talk to just about anyone she meets! Somehow, it works, and I’d say that we’re pretty successful in making it work because we’re so different. But what we’re in sync about is our routine.

This week, not so much. While I’ve made every drop-off and pick-up on time without her help, I’ve been lucky to have help from a good friend whose children also play soccer with our kids, so driving has been easier. We are blessed to have many good friends who have been there in spirit, offered meals and help if needed, and are there for support. That is the key to a good support system and it’s the glue that holds the family together from the outside when cracks start to form.

Every person needs that glue, whether it’s family, friends, strangers, or a combination of all of those. Thank you all who have been there for us and who generously give to others in their time of need. Someday it may be you who needs the help and I will be there for you!

Sandy butts and the hands of time…

When my first child was born 22 plus years ago, I was a much “looser” parent. I know that, because I’ve been watching old movies of myself, my kids and family, and my life as it used to be, far enough ago that there are people in my videos who I barely recall. It’s a project that I have had on my “to-do” list for years, converting all of my different video formats to digital files. It’s long, tedious work, but the trip down memory lane has been quite eye-opening, to say the least.

My younger version of myself in 1991 laughed and played with my then 2 year-old daughter, not giving a care for the silty, black sand firmly ensconced on her bare cheeks and squeezed into who knows how many cavities! Naked kids are fine, and by the number of naked kid videos that we have of her, my younger self didn’t care. Watching it now, I scream in my head, “what the hell were you thinking?!”

What was I thinking? I was thinking that kids are pure, kids are clean, and fresh, and should run around naked until they just don’t want to anymore. Imagine that world? I can’t anymore.

When that same daughter was just shy of four years old in January of 1993, we had the opportunity to attend Bill Clinton’s first Inauguration. It was a family affair, and lots of pictures were taken. That was before digital cameras, when the “old-fashioned” cameras required film, which then needed developing. Soon after arriving back home from Washington, I headed to the one-hour photo at the mall to do some shopping before picking up my child up from school. Little did I know that a film technician had alerted police that a certain roll of film that he’d processed had pictures that looked suspiciously like illegal material.

Upon my arrival back at the photo shop to pick up my finished photos, I was immediately flanked by 2 plain-clothed detectives. After identifying themselves, one started flipping through my pictures in front of me, asking repeatedly, “Is this your photo?” “Did you take this photo?” Do you know who this child is in this picture?” “Yes!” “That’s my daughter,” I said.

I was asked to come down the “station.” I was allowed to drive my own car, so I navigated myself to the building. I happened to have a mobile phone, which back then was the size of a breadbox, but nevertheless, was quite handy. I called my partner and frantically explained what was happening and she immediately called our lawyer for help.

I was led into an “interrogation room,” for the first time in my life, and although I was very nervous and probably sweating profusely, I still carried my well-honed butchy swagger. I would answer your questions, I decided, but I’m not holding back any contempt towards you when I answer, I thought to myself.

I was asked whether I had taken the pictures and I said “I don’t know.” “Why don’t I know? Because I’m not the one who ALWAYS takes the pictures!” If I’m not IN the picture, well, it could be me, or it could be my partner.” “Yes, I’m in a relationship with a WOMAN! Do you have a problem with that?”

He showed me a picture, of my daughter. She was standing in the doorway of our kitchen. We kept the camera right there on the kitchen counter so that we could snap away, and obviously one of us decided to capture the moment! She was naked, had slipped her little feet into my partner’s boots, and was standing there like a little naked cowgirl. When the shot was snapped, she smiled as big as day, shook her wet curly locks, and grabbed her crotch and pulled up! High. So high that it made you look again to be sure you just saw what you thought you saw!

“Can you explain this?”

“Yes. That’s my daughter. She had just gotten out of the jacuzzi and had decided to try on her mom’s boots. She was  proud of herself and loved smiling for the camera, so obviously one of us grabbed the camera and snapped it! Why? Is there something wrong besides she obviously grabbed her crotch right when the picture was snapped? What other explanation are you posing?”

“Who’s that?” he asked.

“That’s Ann Richards. We went to an event where she was at. You know her? She’s the Governor of Texas?”
(writer’s note: I know that all of my quotations aren’t perfect, but who cares, really…)

He went on, asking me about every photo, trying to trip me up when he asked questions repeatedly. I answered in a “tone,” I’m sure. It’s the same TONE that my wife hates, and I think I finally used it in its proper place as I sneered back at him!

“Why? I mean honestly…Why would I take pictures of the President’s Inauguration, and then add a few pornographic pictures at the end? And WHY, would I come to the mall and have them developed by some technicians? If I really wanted to be into that business, I think I’d be smart enough to either have a photo lab person who I trusted wouldn’t squeal to the cops, or I’d develop them myself!” I continued to answer his stupid questions…

“No, officer, I do not let my child wander the house with her hands in her “vaginal area,” and if we were to be precise, I would call it a “labia” (I did say that in my inside the body voice because I could tell he was pretty uptight) ” We have a policy that if she wants to touch herself, she can do it in her room where we don’t have to see it!” “No, that wasn’t one of those times. This was a spontaneous act!”

He then went on to tell me that he had 10 kids and “None of them did things like that!” To which I said, “I’m sure that they do. All kids touch themselves. If you spent more time with your kids you might actually see that, so don’t tell me my kid is some kind of anomaly!”

I realize I’m using a LOT of exclamation points now, and trust me, it was an exclamatory day!
How dare anyone accuse me of something like that? What? Taking a picture?

The lawyer finally called, told me not to talk to them anymore, and I left. They didn’t have a charge per se, but they were putting the incident in for an “investigation”. The State Police became involved. It was a scary time. We could only think in worst case scenarios. We had a baby then as well, who was just 16 months old. We grabbed them both up and took off to a hotel for the night. Our lawyer updated us daily, and after 2 weeks, several outside investigative visits and a $1000 legal bill, we were cleared. But our case was put on “probation,” meaning that we needed to not come up on the system again for at least a year.

Standard procedure? I don’t know. Am I more cynical now? For sure. I know that from that time on, I have been a changed person. I think that we all have been changed little by little over time. I know that I am more fearful than I used to be and I am less and less trusting. I don’t take naked pictures of my kids anymore. Afterwards, my friend, who wrote for the local newspaper, wrote a feature on our story and I heard parents everywhere talking about it. Most of them were saying that they had “TONS” of pictures of their kids naked! The world we lived in as children is not the same as it is for our children or will be for their children. Time changes things. Years go by and life goes on and we adapt. We change.

I worked at an event last Saturday. It was an event for LGBTQ and the rest of the alphabet if they wanted to join us! We had a great time, good food, entertainment, and the weather held up well, but one surprising point was when a well-known elder in the lesbian community came up to me and introduced herself. It was a woman named Alix Dobkin, one of the revolutionary lesbian-feminist songwriters who debuted in the 1960’s, when I was just born. She wanted me to be sure to know about the “Old Lesbians Organizing for Change” group, and that they would love to have a chapter opened in the Northampton area. I think she must have asked someone about me- my gray hair, my radio headset on (I was working the event), my “take-charge” look – and focused in on me as a new recruit for the group. I was flabbergasted. I didn’t know what to do. I thanked her, smiled, smiled again just to be sure she saw it (because I know I’m pretty limited in the number of them that I’m willing to give out on a daily basis), and I tucked the cards into my back pocket. I tucked the memory into that bin I keep of stories to tell the wife when I got home. Can you believe her calling me an “old lesbian?!” When I googled the group, it was for over age 60 lesbians! I just hit 50 a little over a year ago so don’t rush me! Who thought up that gem of a name for the group, anyway?

I’m not willing to be “old” yet. I will call myself “experienced,” “mature,” I don’t mind “wise,” or “super,” or “cool,” or “super-cool.” I’ve been “awesome” on occasion, and I like “interesting, smart, but “old?” “Old and lesbian” together? Sure, time has passed since that reddish dirty-blonde hair of mine was showing all over, but if I were to start an uprising, it would be more aptly called, “The Raging Hormones” than a name that has the word “old” in it!

Sure, I’ll admit it, the hands of time can be cruel and challenging, and just when you think you’ve got as much as you can handle on your plate, here comes another helping. My life, and all of the lives of friends I know, have gotten more complicated over these years in many ways which I think has created a feeling that often resembles a top spinning out of control. Some people resort to drinking or drugs, or sex, or other forms of addiction. Some folks seek medical help and subscribe to the more acceptable forms of control like anti-anxiety medications, antidepressants, or other prescription drugs.

I often think about the people in countries like Libya who have spearheaded uprisings in their country. I wonder if they have the availability like we do for the use of anti-anxiety and anti-depression drugs. I wonder if anyone has ever studied that impact and if not, if anyone ever will.

I believe my “fiery” energy is here for a reason. It’s here to ignite ideas, creativity, fluidity, movement – life! If I let the anxiety or depression win, then I’m resorting to something that will suppress it. That may work for depression, but sometimes anxiety is telling us something, telling us that we need to channel that energy into something positive!

I heard a line used on the radio last week by Thom Hartman, one of the smartest guys I’ve ever heard on talk radio. He asked a guest on his show, “what’s the opposite of love?” His guest answered, “hate.” No, said Thom, a wise person once said, “the opposite of love, is apathy.”

Here’s to love, happiness, and more time for fiery energy!

“Dancing” with the Gender Jumble…

On Gender Jumble part 1, I left off with the vision of a utopian world someday, allowing for the blurring of lines between male and female, to somehow include all possible variations of gender alignment, physically, emotionally, and psychologically. Perhaps it won’t be in my lifetime, but hopefully someday it will be the norm.

Those of you who know me, know that I enjoy computers, am a frequent Facebook user, and often post causes on my profile. What you hopefully didn’t catch, was that about 2 weeks ago, I hit a “like” button without really reading the who, what, and why of the cause. I thought I was supporting the opposite of their Christian homophobic agenda. It was a page called One Million Moms,” and it’s a conservative “mom” group that is trying to gain support for all things in the media that they deem “dangerous” to their children. One of those awful things, according to OMM’s, is homosexuality and transgender issues, specifically, the possibility that watching TV will influence their kids to want to have a sex-change operation by merely being exposed to LGBT folks in the media. Just by simply watching Dancing with the Stars,” their kids will see a gay man, Carson Kressley, and Chaz Bono, an F-M transgendered man dancing in the competition and think, I should be gay or change my sex!

So, I’m thinking, what’s wrong with these people? If it were that easy to influence their kids, why didn’t all of  the little gay kids who have grown up to be gay adults just decide to be straight? And why didn’t my watching Gilligan’s Island, Charlie’s Angels, and I Love Lucy make me want to grow up to be like one of those women? And will watching Glee will make our kids all want to be gay singers? Haven’t our kids seen enough straight people on TV and shouldn’t we be worried about their effect on our innocent children?  I guess I missed the memo to parents that all we needed to do for parenting is make sure our kids watched the “proper” role models on TV and they would grow up to be perfectly healthy, conservative Christian bigots!

Well, a week later, I’m innocently pedaling away on my stationary bike, iPad open, reading my (great LGBT ally) nephew Aaron’s blog The Daddy Files (and he’s a real blogger, not like his wanna-be Aunt), and he’s talking about this same subject only with a younger, more sarcastic mocking tone. All of a sudden it hits me that I’ve “liked” this group that espouses discrimination and hatred toward ME, and I’m trying frantically to find the “un-like” button, but on my iPad app, it’s nowhere to be found! Hence, it’s another 4 days or so before I finally remember, when I’m at a real computer, to find the damn button!

My big question, and I’ve researched it a bit and am still not satisfied with the answers I’ve seen, is why isn’t Carson Kressley dancing with a guy? I was not surprised at all to see Chaz with a woman, because after all, he was a she before, and came out as a lesbian and is still woman-identified as far as I can tell. What then, is the purpose of a gay guy dancing with a woman? I want to see him dance with a man! Surely there are a few gay male dancers around! I’m just having a hard time understanding what exactly these “significantly less than One Million Moms” (only 36,000 give or take a few) are upset about! Aren’t their kids seeing what looks like heterosexual dancers?

I should be the one complaining! What kind of role model is Carson setting for my kids? They know he’s gay. They’ve seen him on “Queer Eye for the Straight Guy!”  What am I to say when one of them asks “Mommy, why isn’t he dancing with another man?” “Isn’t that lying about who he is?” If I didn’t tell my kids about Chaz once being a woman, they wouldn’t ever know. He’s got a beard, dresses like a guy, who would think otherwise?  My kids have learned to not judge, but to accept people’s differences.  I guess that’s what happens when one lets their kids watch Glee!

So fast forward now, since I wanted to finish this after I watched the first show, and I have to say that I was surprised by both of the performances mentioned above. I thought that Carson totally “out-glamoured” his partner and I reiterate my question, “why didn’t he dance with a guy?” because I really think that he would have glittered even brighter! And surprised that Chaz was able to pull his dance off as well as he did. He showed that he worked hard, was determined, and held his head high! It was a proud moment for all of us fans and supporters!

One more note, if you are a Saturday Night Live fan, and also like Ben & Jerry’s ice cream,  check out their new flavor Schweddy Balls and please hit “like!” One Million Moms doesn’t like that either!

Disney, Death, and a good “stiff” drink!

(This is not the Part 2 to my last entry, so if you were waiting with bated breath for that one, you’ll have to wait a bit longer. )

When my big girls were young, their other mom and I took them to Disney. It was my first experience there, so I was as full of wonder as they were. I rode the kiddie rides, took a million pictures and videos, happily paid the exorbitant prices, and had a great time seeing my kids have fun. When my now partner/wife and I got together, we took them again, about 3 years later. The wonder had worn off by then for me, and I was happy to never see another Micky Mouse again!

Fast forward to 2007, when three more kids were added to the family, and my wife says to me, “we should take them to Disney.” “Really? Do we have to?” I really don’t care for Disney, I thought…the high prices, the hoopla, “It’s a Small, Small World” over and over again…what good could come of that? After months of my protesting and her cajoling me, I finally relented and the trip was booked. She was determined that I was going to have a good time!

Unfortunately, what we didn’t know then, was that her mom would be on death’s door in March 2008 when we had booked our reservations . Would she be able to make it until we got back? I told her that I didn’t think so, but her 7 siblings and her dad were all saying, “Go, it will be fine!” In her family’s fashion of sometimes denying the facts that were right in their faces, she believed them and off we went-kids busting out of their pants with excitement! Did I mention that I hate Disney?

There we were, at the car rental place. We just got the airport shuttle and had suitcases in hand, the little ones were 6, middle child 9, and big girl who joined us on her college break, all antsy and ready to hit the cash-sucking wonderland, when her brother calls and says, “You need to come home. Mom’s dying!” I had just gotten the keys to our minivan, unlocked the car, when she ran over, handed me all the extra cash and relevant tickets that she had, gave me a quick kiss, told me she had to go, hugged the kids, and crying, ran to catch the shuttle bus back to the airport! I was in shock. I couldn’t believe it. She had just left me to fend for myself at f#%&King Disney?!

So, here we were…8 days of familial bliss. Alone. Single parent. And I’m not only supposed to have fun but I’m supposed to put on a happy face, while my sweet mother-in-law is dying and I’m not there to console my wife?

We made it through that week somehow, sent pictures and videos to her by computer, cried and talked often on the phone, recounted all of our travels, and missed her terribly. It stands out as the single most dreadful vacation in terms of my book of memories, and I’ve had my share of bad vacations! I did miss the funeral, (which I had mixed feelings about), but I knew that she was surrounded by many of our good friends and relatives who would be my surrogate, probably more effectively than I could be. That, I was fortunate for.

Today, it’s the day after the 911 tenth year anniversary. I had intended to work on this week’s blog this past weekend, but I had no time. I had no desire either to sit and write. I woke up yesterday morning and caught the Today Show’s recap of the morning of September 11, 2001 and I was in tears, alone in my kitchen, remembering where I was, what I was doing at that fateful moment, like I was back there in time. We had twins, in utero then, 3 months from birth and we were terrified, devastated, scared, and anguished. Would we have brought 2 more kids into this world had we not been pregnant then? We’ve asked that question many times, but along with that question comes the answer-would we have wanted to miss out on the two beautiful babies that are now our wonderful 9 years olds?

When my oldest daughter was about six, she came with me to see the Southwest with my mother and 2 nephews who were about 13 and 16 at the time. My mother wanted to see things before she got too ill and debilitated by her lymphoma, so off we went. The trip was hard, as my mom’s belly was swelling and her breathing was beginning to get worse, but we trekked on, seeing the sights and taking photos. It was at the Grand Canyon that it happened…I let my daughter leave the car with her cousins to check out the view at one of the stops. It had snowed the night before and the ground was slick, but how slick, I didn’t know because I stayed in the warm car with my mom while they went off to view the “lookout.” All of a sudden, a panic overtook me. All I could think about was what if she slipped and fell, down and down into the canyon? It happened every year to some poor sight-seers and if you don’t believe me, Google it! Two or three every year, and they are often kids whose parents let them get too close to the edge. I knew in that instance that if she had fallen over a cliff, I’d have to jump after her. I would know that I would die too, but it was the only way I could handle the guilt of letting my kid fall over a cliff. Seriously.

I’ve been in tears at least 15 times today, but not all for 911. I was alone yesterday morning while my kids slept, because my wife was tending to her dying sister who will probably not live more than another week or two. It’s very hard having so many in-laws and knowing that we’re getting to the age when it’s going to be one after another sick or dying until it’s our time.

I am very sad for her sister and the life she’s lived. I’ve seen her suffering for years. Maybe that end will be a good thing. But death is not usually pleasant. Death can be very ugly and hard and with it comes anger and stress and fighting and tears and not knowing or not wanting to know. It isn’t usually like the movies when someone just decides to let go, closes their eyes and their head rolls to the side. For any of you who have been through it with a loved one, I don’t have to tell you…it’s not something that you want to have to remember or go through, but you do.

Today, while there is a sadness for my sister-in-law, it was another death that choked me up. It was a tragic death of an 18 year-old daughter of my child’s teacher. She was driving a car with a friend of her mother’s, driving on her learner’s permit, just shy of getting her license. I did not know this young girl, but she was a child, and I have five of them who I worry about every hour of every day. She was hit head-on by a driver, possibly distracted by something, who knows, but this driver crossed the center line, and while the girl tried to avoid getting hit, she was killed. It was senseless and devastating for all involved, and a too-young soul just starting her life is now gone.

As a parent, I try so hard to keep my kids safe, walking a tightrope between being too controlling and being a parent who knows, has seen- can “feel” danger. I’ve had experience. I know. I’ve worked too long and hard raising my kids to let them ride a bike without a helmet, or jump on a friend’s trampoline that doesn’t have a net. I don’t care if their kid never gets hurt. My kids will  be the ones who will break. They will be the exception. Get a net and they’re all set, but why play with fire? Get into a car with your friend’s 17 year-old brother? Uh-huh. Sorry, not happening. I would never forgive that kid if anything happened and I don’t ever want to be in the position where I have to feel those kind of feelings toward any other human being.

I made a reference to my wife the other day that dated me. “Danger! Danger!” said the robot on “Lost in Space,” one of my favorite shows in the 1960’s. Apparently it was only out from 1965-68, so she was only 2 years old then, but for a 5-8 year old, it was priceless! It’s an apt description of my inner warning system and I’m sticking to it!

If you’ve made it this far in my blog, hang on… it’s not as random as you might think. The thought of losing a child of mine will bring me to tears at the most bizarre times. I might be out on a walk, listening to music, rejoicing inside at the most beautiful spring day to come along in a long time and then suddenly I think about one of my kids out riding their bike, not paying attention at an intersection, and “BOOM!” I have so many scenarios that I’ve emotionally lived through from drowning to fires, car accidents, breaking their neck falling down our steep stairs…it’s endless. It’s worrying about what I can’t protect them from, and then they grow up and the worries don’t end, I just see them less.  Senseless deaths are the hardest.  I know that for me, it’s much easier to deal with the death of an old person, knowing that they have lived a full life and it’s time.

Back to my sister-in-law, and for any of you who are dealing with a dying or sick friend or relative, maybe something I’ve written will hit home. As I get older, (and I am not that old despite what my kids think), I do think about things differently than I did in my 20’s or 30’s mainly because I’ve seen so much more…I think ahead more. I think about what I will leave behind, how I’d like to leave this world, and what I still want to do before that time comes. When it’s my time to go, I want to have choices.

I have a pact with at least 3 friends who I trust will follow through with it, that if I ever get to the point that I don’t know that I’m at “that point,” they will mix me up a nice little cocktail and tell me “you told me to give this to you when you got to this point.” Hopefully, I will smile and drink the cocktail.

I don’t want to be a burden on my family. I don’t want to get to the point where I don’t know my family, and I don’t want to die an ugly death. If it’s coming soon, I’m all for making it happen sooner. I don’t want to choke to death on my tongue. I would not want to be drooling or incoherent, and I certainly don’t want to be in pain. If any of those things and the 50 other things on my list occur, it’s time!

When the bill, hopefully, comes up for a vote to allow assisted suicide in MA, I will vote, campaign, and donate to the cause. I hope you will too.
To read the petition:

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