Posts Tagged ‘trust’

Walking in shadow

Another  November 11.

It is a day we honor our veterans.

I revere this day. My flag is out early. Beautiful. As I am having coffee, I begin my calls. It does not take long. Many of my veteran relatives have passed. We are losing such an important generation.

My granddaddy served in WWI. He was always so proud of his service. He was a very soft-spoken man. I have his casket flag in a case, on my wall; with a commemorative, ‘plate’ that was evidently popular at the time.

My step-dad, James Wells, passed last year. He served in the Philippines. I had always called him to thank him for his service. He was always embarrassed that I would even mention it. His brother, my uncle also served. Horace Wells was a diver, tasked with finding explosives around our boats, ships, and subs. He passed away 2 months ago.

My father, Frank Conway served in Germany, in the occupation and in Korea when the war was hot. He was an aerial gunner for a time. They had a very short life expectancy. The Army sent him to OCS (officer’s candidate school) and his entire platoon shipped to Korea without him. Enemy forces killed the entire platoon the day they landed. He has never come to terms with that.

He is proud of his military service. His very large family also had veterans. They were all Navy. Dad went Army. His father missed the civil war by less than 10 years.

When I look at this history, I feel awe and pride.

My brother, Larry Conway served 2 terms in Viet Nam. He came home wounded. He is proud of his service, but he will never be the young man we said good-by to in Jacksonville when he was 19. Larry holds himself responsible for a young man who did not come home from an air mission. The 2 crew -members were shot down, KIA and Larry felt responsible. My opinion was that a wonderful angel pushed my brother out of the way. I am grateful. He is ashamed.

Our wounded are coming home in record numbers. Now they include more women than our system is accustomed to accommodating. With that in mind, I now take ‘women magazines’ to the VA centers. I take them books that I have enjoyed, gardening and fashion magazines, anything I think they might have been missing during the last year or two. It is no longer a man’s world. It is our world. Everyone’s’ world.

We owe honor to so many.

Let’s Pretend

Someone very important in my life is pretending. It disturbs me. That makes me question why:  not why she is pretending, but why do I let it disturb me?

She lost her husband, the love of her life. Now, she has taken up a sort of ‘cause’ to collaborate with another man, because he reminds her of her husband. The new guy is driving the family nuts. They cannot stand him. She cannot explain the attraction. I suspected. I asked. She said that sometimes she even calls him by her husband’s name, and then realizes what she has done. Fortunately, the man is so hard of hearing, he does not even know. She is paying many of his bills.

Another family member is keeping her doggy long past time. It is painful to see. The dog is not allowed outside. Ever. Will never again be allowed outside. The dog does all of its ‘business’ in the house, which is causing issues you can imagine. The dog can never be around any other dog due to an autoimmune disorder. The dog has such a small life. My family thinks it is better than putting the dog to sleep. They are continuing to search for ways to lessen the pain, to ease the suffering. My heart is breaking for the dog. My heart hurts for my family member. Prolonging the agony. I see no winner here.

Someone who used to be in my life is a chronic liar. It seems impossible to stop. Oddly, this person has high moral standards where others are concerned. He has shed people who lied. He has refused relationships with people doing exactly as he does. He pretends to be the man he wants to be. He pretends he is honorable. He pretends to be truthful. At the mere mention of a lie, he reacts negatively. He pretends.

Another person, very close to me is pretending his mom is doing well. She is not. She cannot hear, but neither he nor she will acknowledge that. She cannot remember but makes up reasons and blames others. She has begun hoarding things and creating reasons to do that. She is not well. He pretends she is.

I pretend all is well. I am out of money. I am frantic to pay my bills and find a place I can afford to live. I pretend to others that I know I will be fine. I will leave a life of luxury to live in a mobile home. My best friend reminds me that it will be the cutest mobile home anyone has ever seen. I pretend that is true. I pretend the place I park my new little trailer will be great. I pretend.

A neighbor of mine is battling for her child who is on drugs. My neighbor is a recovering alcoholic. Her husband pretends the daughter is fine. My neighbor sees the truth and cannot pretend. The daughter pretends she is clean every time she comes home to get some rest and money. Then, she leaves, buys more drugs, and pretends until she needs help again.

My parents pretend they are going to downsize. They live in an over-crowded home that they cannot maintain, in spite of the elevator they installed. They live in 3 rooms of a large home. They cannot manage much of anything but pretend they do. They pretend they will move to a smaller home and give in to age. They have pretended this for almost 15 years, when they began to look for homes in their area, slightly smaller. Now, in their 80’s, they pretend they will actually move to a 2 or 3 bedroom place, get rid of at least one car, since neither should drive anymore, and they will be fine. Neither of them is fine. They are elderly and have a list of ailments that would frighten anyone in their 40’s. Nevertheless, they pretend.

I used to pretend that love would solve anything. I pretended that one day someone would ‘complete me’. I used to pretend that my life would be different. I pretended that true love would make everything else work. I pretended that having someone to share my life with was important. That being alone was somehow sad.

When my friend lies, I pretend to believe. When my parents contemplate their move, I pretend to listen to new plans. When my neighbor says his daughter has finally learned, I pretend to congratulate. When my relative pretends her husband is still beside her, I pretend to understand. When someone tells me of love, I pretend to bask in his or her glow.

I remember how I would pretend as a child. I would pretend I was a doctor, or a nurse, or a pilot or a mother. I would pretend my future, always rosy, never difficult. I would pretend I would be popular, famous, smart, or beautiful.

When things go awry, don’t most of us pretend they will improve? I think improvement is really acceptance. At first, we cannot envision accepting the difficulty we face. Then, we grow accustomed to what life will be. Then, we recognize it did not kill us. It did not end so many things. We just learned to get along.

I guess I never stopped. I just pretend.

friends

I’ve been thinking about my friends. Learning who your friends are is important. Your friends are people you can reach for when you need to lean. I recognize how fortunate I am to count so many.

I have many friends from my airline days. These men and women have been physically absent from my life for decades. If I need any one of them, they will  immediately respond. That is friendship. I just got a phone message from one. She lives in Atlanta. We haven’t seen each other in 25 years but stay in constant contact. Her husband had an affair. Then her next husband did the same. She is living on social security, close to the bone, after marrying with houses and investments. She is now bereft emotionally and financially. She is a wonderful friend to me. We have the same pain. However, we had such fun and wonderful memories. We laugh. Everyone needs to laugh. It reminds us to live and enjoy life. We are fortunate. Sometimes we just need to remember.

I have friends from so many neighborhoods where I had homes. Manhattan, Orlando, Miami, Boulder, Colorado Springs, St. Croix, Gainesville, Salem, Spokane, Nuremburg, Munich, Frankfort, Oberammergau, Ft Knox, Redstone Arsenal, and others that I can only remember vaguely. Incredibly, I still am in touch with friends from almost all of those locations.

Now I have many friends I have never met. They are all on Facebook. According to my profile, I have 176 of them. Amazing. These men and women know of my impending divorce, know I have a cat and recently lost one, know I live in Washington and know I love to write. They know I flew, they know I care. They are my friends.

If these friends were around me on a daily basis, I wonder how much they would still want to be my friend. Am I whiny, controlling, difficult, dumb, or boring? Who knows? The beauty of this group of friends is the instant connection we all know. If I need help, look to Facebook. My friends there will immediately rally. I have seen them come together as a force whenever needed.

I have a wonderful friend nearby. We never see each other. We plan, we swear, we promise, we mean well. It simply does not happen. Like me, she is recovering from an ‘indiscretion’ from her husband, the love of her life. As he has moved on with his mistress, she has had to pick up the pieces of their lives, sell their home, and find a new place to re-start, saying goodbye to so many memories and so much pain. We ‘get’ each other completely. She is about 1 year farther down my road. It helps me to see that. I remember when I learned of her pain. Now I recognize I was not supportive enough. We all just go through the motions of help and support. We do not necessarily tie that to our hearts when we should, as friends. My lesson came later. Gratefully, she has continued to be my friend in spite of my lapse.

This is friendship. We ebb and flow. We understand and forgive. On a daily basis, it might not work so well.

As we each move through our lives, some friends come and some simply stay forever. I am blessed with both. You need some of them for a bit of time. That time finally passes and the friend needs to pass with it. They did their job. You did yours. Time to move. Time to change.

A friend just called. Incredible. We have not spoken in so long. She just asked me to come for the weekend. I am going. What could be better than a weekend with one of your dearest friends?

We have so many and they are so willing to help.

Can you do this?

I find myself surrounded lately by people who ‘enable’. What is happening here?

My hairdresser is enabling her son and his family. My younger cousins and nieces, nephews are enabling their children. My great attorney friend enables his kids, who have their own families. And if you ever watch something like ‘super nanny’,  or ‘wife swap’ you see constantly that families are afraid of their own kids, when it comes to discipline.

When that generation matures, who is going to give them this leeway?

I have a tendency to view these things in terms of pets. If you die, who will take care of your pet(s)? Just think for a moment. If you have pets, who will they go to if you are hit by a bus tomorrow? You had better make those plans. We never know what is coming around the next corner.

I have a friend who cooks her own pet food. I used to feed mine a raw diet. I have other friends who hand-feed their pets each meal. Still others sleep with their pets, sometimes to the detriment of their spouse.

Here is my concern: if you die, will anyone do all that? I doubt it. If someone is good enough to take in your pet, they will have done more than enough, giving your beloved pet a warm place to sleep and food when needed. They won’t hand feed, they won’t cook and bake, they won’t chop up raw veggies. Once I began to think of this, I stopped that.

Now, my pets get pet food. Plain and simple. Just like everyone else would give them. If they get a better deal: super. But, if they just get a place to ‘sleep’ and food and water, I don’t want them to have any more agony than they already will, wondering where in the world I am. I think it’s better for my pets. And heaven knows, it  has begun to save me time.  And, not requiring so much from friends who might be kind enough to agree to take my furry babies.

I feel the very same way about kids. If something were to happen to us, who is going to treat your 20 year old as if they were still 6? Who is going to treat your 6 year old as if they were still 2? The world does not revolve around any one of us. It certainly does not revolve around our kids or our pets. I feel as if I am keeping my pets in a low-maintenance  area in their lives, so that if needed, anyone can pick up in my absence. I feel that this is the kind thing, the smart thing, and the right thing to do.

No toleration of yelling, screaming, kicking, complaining, when the world is basically just fine. No refusal to become adults.

My wonderful hairdresser gave her son and his ‘due soon’ baby a place to stay. He brought the wife and the dog. That was 7 years ago. They now have 2 dogs, 2 kids and no money. my hairdresser, in her  60’s is supporting everyone in her retirement home. She has one bedroom, they fill 3. Incredible. She wants them to move. They have said they cannot wait to leave so that they can live life the way THEY choose. But, 7 years and a larger family later, they linger. She is enabling them. why would they leave? They give her 200 bucks a month. The own ¾ of her home. They use everything and she cleans after them. if they get ready to leave, she feels guilty. It’s backwards. She should feel guilty that they have never had to learn to support their own lifestyle. It is heartbreaking.

I used to chop fresh veggies, go to the store daily to get ‘fresh’ meat to add to the food. Nuts. I finally realized one day that if something happened to me, the cats would immediately be on death row or be given a bag of cat food. Unless, of course, I left money in my will for them (I haven’t). I prefer having them get a bag of cat food. Any food will do at that point. Pet  food.

I have a friend whose dog has only slept on the bed it’s entire life. the dog was adorable. Now the dog is huge. I stayed over there once and woke to the dog, on top of me. I was not part of it’s territory. I’m lucky it didn’t tinkle on me to mark territory. I didn’t mind too much. It was only 1 night and I love pets. But, if I inherited that doggie, it would have to learn to sleep on a dog bed or the floor or something. And, if it yelled and screamed for 2 or 3 weeks while it was ‘getting that lesson’, I might not be inclined to bend over backwards for someone’s dog that was not properly raised, doesn’t understand that the humans are alpha and the dogs are not.

Hand feeding? Quit it. Dogs and cats and everything else really CAN take pretty good care of themselves. We get in the way.  and….we are supposed to be teaching our children to interact, to get along, to become self-reliant. Anytime you see a kid blowing up, stop to think just how long a different person would put up with that. nobody does it like enabling parents.

Sleeping with your kid? Nope. I won’t. will your cousin or your brother or sister if they suddenly find themselves with your children because you died? I doubt it. They aren’t used to bending into pretzels because you couldn’t bring yourself to do the right thing.

Why have we found ourselves in a world of people afraid to let kids grow up, become responsible, have pets that understand who is in charge? What in the world happened to the generation that followed one of the greatest?

Ooops. Cat needs cuddles. I hear the screaming. Better go get her.

what are you thinking?

I live in Spokane, WA. The US Figure Skating Championships are here, and I am normally in a front row seat. I have followed skating avidly since the mid 80’s. Fortunately, for me, attending championship contests have been constant. If I were not able to be in a great seat, I would watch it on TV, never missing a second.

Last night a very nice friend of mine took me as her guest to the championships. It was wonderful to see again.

However, what I actually experienced was not what I was accustomed to seeing.

I’ve mentioned before that I suffered a TBI (traumatic brain injury) a couple of years ago. It really has changed my life, my outlook, and my future. Last night I recognized it has also changed my past.

My mom had Alzheimer’s. Horrible disease. She lived in Fla and I lived in Colorado, then Oregon, now Washington. Farther and farther away from her, needing to be with her, hating to see what she was.

I made a decision about my visits with mom: I would meet her wherever she was. Toward the end, she had no clue who I was. I would watch her before I approached, to get a feel for how she ‘was’ at that moment in time. she would look at me, blankly, smile, and ask how I was. that’s mom. the more ill she became the more she morphed back into her ‘hostess’ mode of making others comfortable. because she did this so well, most people had absolutely no clue she was so ill. she managed to fool people for almost 5 years, with this disease eating away at her memories, her being. Now, visiting her in the lock-down ward was always unsettling. I wanted to scream, I’m ALEXA!! I’m your DAUGHTER!!. that would have done no good. she simply did not know me anymore. so, I decided to try to get her to like me, every time I visited with her. she had always helped everyone, everywhere. huge volunteer, all of her life. I decided that whenever I ‘met’ her, I would try to get her to enjoy my company. for an Alzheimer’s patient, that is no small feat. they are angry, frustrated, isolated, and tired of being bossed around. they have no clue who anyone is and they want ‘out’. I would go to her, smile, call her by her name, and beam at her, “HI”. she always responded favorably.

Sometimes, rarely, she would chat, laugh, and almost manage conversation. Alzheimer’s robs people of their ability to use their words. I learned to listen to her cadence and her tone. Amazingly, I usually could converse with her, on her terms. All I wanted was for her to like me. just for that ‘time’.

A brain, robbed of its use is not pretty. People do not act the way we expect them to or the way we are accustomed to them acting. When I injured my brain, my husband had his hands full. I had outbursts, my language went to the gutter, I was angry, crying, unable to do things and unable to figure out why. The doctors had warned us several times but until you live it, you really don’t ‘get it’. When I was going through this with my mom, I was still intact (almost brilliant, or at least really smart, IMHO). I just wanted her to like me. I loved her enough for both of us. I wanted her to like my company. So, we would chat. Sometimes we would hold hands. She had no idea who I was. I was careful not to intrude. I just wanted to be with my mom, or whoever she was at that time.

Sometimes I would visit her and it would go really well. So, I would stay longer than normal. Those rare times were golden and I didn’t want to miss a second of them. We would talk and laugh, her conversations would make little sense, But she liked me. She was happy in my company and I was thrilled to almost see a piece of her, coming through. If anything or anyone interrupted her, she was lost again. Sitting with a stranger. I would start from the beginning. again.

Brains are pretty interesting. she was ‘there’ in pieces. The pieces weren’t necessarily the good ones. My brain was here but not functioning very well. As a result, I was difficult and unable to care for myself.

Now I have the after-effects. my marriage is in shambles, over essentially. My brain has returned as much as it will manage we believe. If I am tired, I cannot form sentences. My spelling ability has completely vanished. I was an English whiz, math whiz, science whiz. Now, I cannot multiply. Sometimes I cannot add, no matter how hard I try. I spoke 4 languages, I seriously struggle with my English today. It’s just the way the cookie crumbles. I’m mobile, I can drive and run errands and cook and garden. I am just a bit more diminished. That’s life.

Last night I realized I don’t know a damned thing about skating. That was astonishing. My friend had gone with me as my guest years before. she evidently relied on my knowledge to help her understand the competition. It made me remember the first month I was here in Spokane, the championships were here (Skate America, I think) and I took my very best friend to every event all week. She was an athlete but knew absolutely nothing about this sport. So, I explained to keep her appraised. Last night, I could not answer the most basic questions. that was stunning to me. I simply don’t know anything much about this sport I have spent thousands of dollars on for 25 years or so. I’m a newbie.

So, just like my visits with my mom, I decided to just be ‘there’. I decided I don’t need to be in charge, don’t need to know the answers, don’t even need to know the questions. I could just be there, with my dear friend, watching a program of great challenge and superior athletes. I had been here the month I moved to Spokane, and now, 8 years later, as I am making my plans to depart, I was here again, but a different person, in every way.

And it was OK.

get a grip! no gripes.

horrible week. cannot imagine one worse yet I know another is bound to appear.

4 of my dearest friends have experienced huge loss of life. what is worse than that? before that, I was feeling very bereft, left, alone, frightened and sad. now, i recognize again that everyone has ‘something’. as my best friend said today, “you don’t have to look very far to see someone in a horrible position.”. she is so right.

3 of my best friends lost their pets in less than a week. one, is losing her husband. good heavens. I’m upset over my husband’s “stuff” and my pride and my money and divorce.  I need to get a grip.

I always say, ‘everyone has something’. when you are in the midst of it, you don’t remember that. just look around your own corner. someone is dying emotionally, spiritually or physically. someone is. I promise.

I have been helping a woman through her chemo. talk about a rude awakening. this is serious stuff. naturally, I keep my stupid stuff to myself.

so many of my friends and family are coping. we just didn’t dream things could become this grim. amazingly, spring will make all of us feel a little better. we will probably be missing someone but we will see more sunlight, watch new flowers bloom and realize that our world will trudge onward.

the most amazing part of this to me is the few people who still don’t ‘get it’. the ones who are completely caught up in their own drama, their own pain, not even seeing everything around them. that is heartache. name calling, bullying, pointing out faults, yelling, screaming, to no avail. we only diminish ourselves. I have been as guilty as the next. I keep trying though. I really do try. knowing that, I cannot discount that others are probably trying as well. we just see things at different times.

let’s pull together. please. let’s just row this boat in the very same direction. our time here is short. shorter than anyone knows. some of us feel we’ve been here, done this. possibly so. doesn’t matter. everyone is struggling with the very same issues and problems. we all deserve a break. we all deserve love. we all deserve a chance to improve.

I’m trying to improve. hard to imagine I could be better, but I’m gonna try!

are you worried or scared?

I am often afraid. I fear so many things that haven’t happened. I fear things that ‘could’ happen. the relationship between the first and the second are huge.  there is the possibility that nothing bad could happen at all. irrational fears.

I am afraid of spiders. I don’t know why. many are so tiny. I try to help them. I know they are afraid of me. then, the bigger ones: ok, I’m frightened to pieces. no clue as to why. I think I am afraid of things that ‘scurry’:  mice, rats, big bugs (roaches), spiders, and the like. again, they have never bitten me. I am just uncomfortable. afraid.

but why am I afraid of people? not many people, but certain people doing certain things. why should I fear them?

I am pretty fearless generally. it is not the person I fear, but what that person represents (as my stepdaughter taught me) me (CALL ME ANYTHING). I fear what I cannot predict. how many of us don’t?

of late, I am afraid of my future. I fear being without funding. I have only been that way once in my adult life and I managed by working 7 jobs a week. I was also 38. huge difference. now, I find myself without income and I feel old and withered, fretting about my financial future.

how different from a spider or a rat or mouse is this fear?

I know a wonderful woman. she is frightened to pieces of fire. I will hope to understand that fear before I leave her company. she consistently cuts trees, thinking this will prevent her family from burning. during the time I have known her, she has given way to both of her children leaving the nest, moving onward with their lives. she still fears that fire. she has more than one home. she is constantly cutting trees to prevent the danger of a dwelling being lost to fire. we all watch and feel for her dread. no one person will be able to put that to rest. only her. only this woman can prevent herself from the slashing of trees and shrubs, homes to so much wildlife, because she fears fire.

I’ve known her 10 years. I have yet to learn what was killed, or  lost  in a fire, in her life. I gather she lost something or someone precious. but, maybe it’s an irrational fear.

I fear sharks in the ocean.

I was raised in the ocean. my brother and family swam in the Atlantic and the Gulf for years. at times, our mother would call out to us: “sharks! , be still.  now, come slowly to me.” we learned that sharks were a danger. we were afraid but not terrified. when I saw the movie “JAWS”, I became very frightened. that was different. now, I’m afraid. now I’m frightened. now, I can be terrified.

but that’s me.

don’t we all have something? everyone is afraid of something. we all have our terrors. our worries. it doesn’t matter if they are things or stories or memories. they still frighten us sufficiently. we are afraid.

how interesting that so many of us decide that what one person fears is silly, yet inside we fear something. isn’t it time that we all recognize that everyone has fears and no fear of one person is any less than the fear we carry? personally, I think it’s past time.

it’s STUFF. we all have it. nobody is exempt. without fears, terrorism could not exist.

I don’t know about the rest of the world, but when I get on an airplane, I kiss myself goodby. I say my prayer to my guardians, my family, my loved ones and I put myself into the hands of ‘everlasting hope’. whatever happens after that is whatever happens. I have warned my family that if I were to perish in a plane crash then I was meant to, I decided to, I chose to. because, as a crew member, if I did not get out of a plane, there was a very good reason. I decided I needed to help someone else, I decided my life was over, I decided. yep. I decided.

so, what is your fear? do you acknowledge it? do you try to pretend it doesn’t exist? we all have it. no one person is exempt, no matter their posturing. everyone has fear.

overcoming that fear is a huge step forward.

my fear of sharks dissolved several years ago (that’s another blog). my fear of being left is dissolving now. (I’ll manage) my fear of spiders is a work in progress but I’m gaining on it considerably. i still dont’ like roaches but I realize now how long they have survived and try to acknowledge that as I do my best to kill them, standing as far away as possible. roaches are scary.

are you new here?

I used to give presentations to help abused kids. Sometimes these kids were ushered from home to home, house to house, with little grounding ability, then blamed for becoming what we nurtured them to become. These are foster children. The reflection we give them is not pretty or fair.

Have you known any? Yes. You very probably have. Do you kids ever play with foster kids? Probably not.

My speech would be to city organizations. Organizations wanting to make their City and State a better place. They want to show they care.

Think about the life of a foster kid for just one minute.

Your parents are not getting along. They fight. Maybe you’re molested. (It’s difficult for a young woman to reach the age of 18 without being sexually molested in our country.) You might be hit, or punched. You might need to take care of your drug addicted parent, instead of being cared for by them. This is unfair to a minor. This is their world:

One evening, the doorbell rings. People are standing there, strangers, talking to the adult present. In less than 10 minutes, you are being transported ‘somewhere’. You were asked by a stranger what you want to take along. Hopefully, you remember your backpack, your teddy bear, your favorite jammies, your hair and toothbrush. You are a kid. You’ve never had to make these decisions. You have little time and are completely confused. What in the world is happening?

They remove you from your home, from your parents’ care, from your life.

Tomorrow, after no rest and much angst, you find yourself registered into a new school. You know none of the kids or teachers. Your trust is zero. You are frightened and angry. What in hell did YOU do?

You live in a different house. Maybe it has 10 people in it, maybe it has 3. You have new ‘parents’, but they aren’t your parents, and they get to tell you what you can and cannot do. You have a bedroom that you’ve never seen, probably shared with someone you’ve never known. This is your new life. Why? Because your parents were not doing the job they needed to do for you to develop into a productive adult and member of society. What in hell does THAT mean? Why are you in trouble here? Where is your mom or dad? Where is your aunt? Your best friend? Your cousin?

Gone. Everyone familiar is gone. You are in the system. You don’t know where you supposedly live because they want to be certain you cannot run away. New house, new school, new family, new part of town.

Now you live ‘here’, wherever that is. Now you attend this school. Now you need to comply to adjust and live. You become a change-agent. You begin to morph into whatever is required to exist.

This is the life of a foster kid. To add insult to injury, we often prevent our kids from getting to know these kids. Why? Is it because they are not ‘normal’? They have done nothing wrong. They are total victims. They are children. Now, we shun them. Why? Because we teach our kids not to accept different and new. Parents worry that foster kids are going to cause trouble.

So, a child, dragged crying and screaming from their home is shunned by everyone new. People they need. People they must adjust to in order to survive.

Why are we allowing these feelings to continue with abused children? Instead of giving them a wonderful, warm, loving environment, we give them the ‘look-away’ and tell our kids that they are ‘not really our kind’. What kind of future does this portend? Those kids are in the worst possible situation. Can’t we offer more help than this? Will we?

I view every child as my future support. I admit that. If we do not include these kids into our working society, where will my social security come from? When will my family recognize that elderly people have value and education? If we don’t incorporate everyone into our society, how much longer can our society exist? We need everyone. We have no right to discriminate. We created everyone we see. They are the product of our living values and rules. Isn’t it time to bring everyone home?

I worked as CASA (court appointed special advocate) in Colorado for 4 years. It was difficult emotionally. It was time-consuming. It was the most rewarding thing I had done in a very long time. Our generation has the time and energy to put things right for our future generations. More importantly: they deserve and desperately need our input. Should we sit, complaining?

Our future is on our shoulders. Shouldn’t we stay involved? It’s for our kids. Not the ones we gave birth to but the ones who will shape the future with them. Let’s stay involved. For everyone. All of us are foster kids, dependent on strangers to show us the proper path. Start in the mirror.

You deserve to know where you live.

call me anything

I had a great visit with a wonderful woman over the weekend. she is my stepdaughter.

We have been through so much together. When I met her, she was in 2nd grade, now a sophomore in college. the years have been amazing, the changes incredible.

We laughed about her different ‘phases’, the extreme shyness, the necessity of goth, the girly-girl times, the dates and the heartaches. She is slated to be more a friend now than a daughter and I’m fine with any circumstance. I love her dearly.

When we met she was going through the demise of her family unit. Her parents had divorced but in her mind hope was always intact. When her dad and I married, she was not pleased. It was very difficult for both of us. I had worked with children all of my life, as a volunteer in various areas. A single professional woman, I had never married so had no children of my own but really loved kids. I was always the favorite aunt, the neat ‘mom’s best friend’, the fun next-door neighbor to kids but never a mom. I proceeded slowly, getting into her life. Her dad wanted to rush us but I knew better. Still, she was rushed and it hurt her. I was unwelcome. For the first time in my adult life, a child did not want a thing to do with me. I was so surprised,  hurt, and confused. I tried everything,  I thought.

What I finally had to relent to was the unvarnished truth. After a particularly bad visit I was finished. I had no thoughts of trying further. By this time she was a freshman in high school. She had done some unforgivable thing and I was shattered by the memory.

When she came back, I invited her to have a talk. I laid my cards on the table. I loved her. I had worked very hard to love her. It was not something that just happened because I married her dad. It was a conscious decision and I had to be certain it took. I loved her. I would do anything in the world for her. I was so sorry about her parents’ divorce and her upheaval but I had nothing to do with any of it. I was also a child of divorce and knew the pain. I simply married a man I had fallen in love with. A divorced man. And she came along with the package.

I asked her to please tell me 3 or 4 things I had done to cause her pain, to hurt her, to make her angry. I wanted to know so that I could try to improve but I was fatigued with being treated badly and being unwelcome in my own home and life. I did not intend to allow any more ill treatment. She cried. She explained that it was nothing I had done. She said I had always been wonderful to her. She knew I loved her. Then she said it was not me, it was what I represented: that her parents were really over.

What a huge statement for a young girl. What a truth.

We both cried, held each other for the loss each of us had suffered and for the mending we were needing .

After that day, we went into sync. Our relationship began to flourish. We had both learned huge lessons. I believed I had known just what to do with my new kids, to help them like me and then maybe love me. Yet, I could not have really understood their feelings. I wasn’t them, they weren’t me. We all had to navigate this together and mostly, we had to be willing. One person in a relationship cannot maintain without the other being engaged.

She is a young woman and I am an older lady. We have 15 years’ history. We have a relationship that will continue in some version even though we will never again live near each other and even though she is now watching her father move out of my life. She is something of a niece to me now. A friend. A daughter of a friend. My daughter. She is important to my life. She needs no label. Neither do I.

We have love, respect and enough history to understand each other. We have continuity. How lucky is that?

Duty and Honor, Veterans Day

today is set aside to honor all of our nation’s veterans.

veterans fill my family. my granddaddy served and was very proud to do so. my father served and made it into his chosen career. my brother served, doing two tours in viet nam. he came home a much different man than the one we said good-by to at the airport. he remains proud of his service. I am fortunate to have the coffin flag from granddaddy’s service. I remember very clearly the day it was handed to my grandmother.

my uncles served as well, but not for long. after the war, they all returned home to civilian jobs. my dad is the only one I remember in the immediate family who stayed in. except for my mother.

military families are always in flux. the people who quite often hold the family together are the spouses, the wives. when my father was in the military, women rarely got the opportunity to do more than secretarial work. the wives were sharing the military load at home.

whenever my dad would come in the door to announce we were moving, it meant my mother would have to give notice at her job, immediately and begin to pack, organize and ‘clear quarters’. this is military speak for “be sure there is no evidence that you existed in this home.” there was actually a ‘white glove’ inspection at the home and the wives had best pass it. if not, they had to work until it was exactly as it had been before we moved into the place. the wives bore such a heavy load. the military would immediately relocate the soldier. the wives would pack the whole family, get the kids’ school records, medical records (no computers in those days), find a new house the DAY they arrived at the next city, state, country, register the kids into a new school system and begin unpacking. the dad would come home from work, for dinner. not many women are up to such a task today. they would balk at the system. it’s very one-sided.

we now have women serving in the military, in jobs they actually aspired to and husbands staying home to take care of the children, clear quarters and maintain the home front. interestingly, not many husbands ‘stick’.

it’s hard to have your lives controlled by an agency but that’s what you sign up for and that’s what you are required by law to do. you have to be willing to support your military spouse completely because that spouse is required to honor their contract.

the kids yell, scream, threaten, and cry when new orders come in. we would have it no other way. once grown we came to recognize the value of that life. military kids (brats, we are called) can walk into just about any situation given and fit in immediately. they are friendly, natural leaders, better educated, very well rounded, and easy going. we know how lucky we’ve been. when we were in europe, the junior high and high school teachers were mostly professors. the educational standards were very high. we got smart. when I came back to the US, I spoke German fluently and only needed one class to graduate from high school. I was a junior at the time. the next year, in another state, I was speaking German and French and only needed one semester to graduate from that school. compared to US standards, our educations were pretty advanced… as a result; my last two years of school bored me to pieces. there was no challenge.

as many of us did today, I flew my flag. I think a great house-warming gift for anyone is a nice flag and a bracket from which to hang it. I leave mine on every home I move from, hoping it will inspire the next family to fly a flag as I did. as many of us  did today, I thanked vets everywhere as I came into their paths. we owe them so much. they deserve our respect and our support.

it was just today that I really thought again about the sacrifices that my mother made repeatedly during her life. she was completely controlled by an agency because she married my dad. she honored the tradition and did her part. it cost her in many ways but she never complained. my brother and I revel in the stories of our upbringing in various parts of the world. we know we were lucky.

thank you dad for your service to our country. thank you mom for always making it fun to relocate. thank you everyone who has served and let us not forget the issues it causes at home to have a part-time parent sharing the load. In a way, the veterans are everyone of us. we are all in this together.