Category Archives: Of Lesser Things

My Unpopular Opinion


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The recent events where pro ball players taking to the knee while our National Anthem is played has led me to do a lot of thinking about freedom and what it means to me.

I am an Army brat. I was born to a soldier and then 52 years later, held him in my arms as he died. To say that I was proud of that man and all of his accomplishments during his life and the 3 wars in which he fought and almost died would be an understatement. I grew up on Army posts around the world, went to school with other army brats, eaten dinner at the tables of soldiers, from NCOs to generals. I have attended more military funerals than I care to remember and have wept at them all, some, my school friends, from war wounds and others just old soldiers.

I am army through and through. When I think of my father, his friends, comrades in arms, and my own friends, I really believe that what they were fighting for was not so much our own freedom but the concept of freedom for individuals of any nationality. True, they were often political pawns but fought nonetheless for someone’s freedom.

But foremost, in thinking of what my own father taught me, was that our founding fathers envisioned the freedoms of thought, action, and speech. Those were my Dad’s guiding principles and what he taught me to cherish.

I might find the kneeling and fist raising unpleasant to watch and even disrespectful but they are each fulfilling the dreams of our founding fathers, exercising their freedom of speech as it were. How can I possibly cherish the foundation of our country if I deny others the right to their freedom.

I have no doubt that my Dad would have harsh words for those ball players but I also have no doubt that he would accept their expression as much as he would expect them to accept his.

I stand with those who really believe in what our founding fathers enumerated for us to use as guideposts to a free society.

Listen to that with which you disagree, consider it and ignore it if you choose but never believe that your efforts to exercise freedom supersedes theirs.

 

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The Final Breath


There are moments when time stands still, moments when the earth seems to stop revolving on its’ axis, when the sun disappears from the sky, the stars are extinguished and the moon drops into the abyss of a far off universe; times when the air we breath ceases to exist as we hold our breath, waiting, just waiting. There are moments frozen in time and burned into the personal history of our lives.

But we live with courage and we survive, changed forever but going forward for those who cannot

Some years ago, I had written a piece about living our lives in moments, some wonderful beyond compare and others that could shatter the universe in which we live.  There was a woman in our group known by the name of “Wee Granny Mush” and after publishing my thoughts on moments, she told me about hers – when she was sitting by her daughter’s bed, holding her hand as her adult child died.  As her daughter took her final breath, Wee Granny Mush felt a light squeeze to her hand, the final earthly connection between mother and child.

It was that thought, that image which led me to write about moments when time stands still.  It was meant for Wee Granny Mush but we all have them at some time in our lives, some dramatic and others less so but no less impactful.  My own came when my father died in my arms just a few short weeks after my mother had died.  As I held my dad as he was dying I cried “Daddy don’t leave me.”  Of course he did and at 52 years old, I became an orphan.


A Rich Full Life


LiveWithCourage

 

 

Early one morning last week, I was enjoying a few minutes of tale telling with one of the women who works for me.   We are very much alike and easily share laughter and truth about life.

She said that some day, we should run topless through the field that abuts our shop. She heard me chuckling to myself and demanded, in that prim and proper New England school-marm way, that I fess up! Nothing too dramatic to tell, just that I had run naked through many fields in my life and the one next to the shop wasn’t a prime spot for a couple of old women with sagging breasts and pudgy thighs that would create the sound of gulls flying over. We laughed at the image but before we got back to work, she commented that I have lived such a rich and full life.

I guess that I have been so busy living my life, I failed to realize how rich and full it has been.

I have know laughter that couldn’t be contained, smiles that warmed my spirit, and grief so deep I didn’t think I would survive.

I have been blessed to know that the love for one’s child comes not from the act of birthing but from the never-ending act of parenting so I have known motherhood not only by example but also by experience and I have been the father when there was no one else to fill that role.   I have known the joy of music and art and my hand in creating both and the satisfaction of a body exhausted by hard physical labor.  Thanks to the gift of confidence given to me by the love of my own parents, I built my life in the same way that I built my home, on my own terms.

I have swum in oceans and rivers and lakes and felt my body cut through the cool water without letting it swallow me. I have loved, deeply and passionately, and have been loved the same way in return. I have known friendship that is like the other part of me that was separated at birth.

I have slept under stars, on boats and in beds that I have shared with a variety of creatures, most of them invited.  I have read through many nights, great books and trashy novels, until I was forced to reluctantly put aside the book because it was time to leave for work.

I have shed tears alone in the bathtub but seldom in front of others, my pride I guess, and my reluctance to appear vulnerable in the eyes of anyone, myself included.

I have been blessed with a spirit that needs to keep learning and being challenged to either surpass my own expectations or gracefully learn from my failures.

I never really noticed when my hair turned to silver, when my blue eyes changed to a pastel facsimile or when my skin began resembling that of my mother. I have written my own rules, created the woman I have become, lived deliberately and tried to carry out my dreams without intentionally hurting others, and I’ve never looked back.

Yes, I have lived a rich and full life

 


The Aftermath


Flowering_dogwood3

As the blossoms fall from the cherry tree,
the dogwood withers and dies,
a whirlwind whips sodden leaves from the ground
as the rainbow fades from the sky.


Phantom Pain, An Allegory


Tales of Liberty and lesser things

Phantom Pain – Part One

He didn’t hear the screeching tires
or the sirens when they came.
As he lay there on the black top
He felt no fear or pain.

He wondered how he got there
In the stillness of this night,
The last thing he remembered
Was the glare of that head light.

And then he looked on down the road
And saw the mangled steel,
The handle bars and spinning tires,
Broken struts and upturned wheels.

In that very instant
He began to feel the pain.
He saw the river of his blood.
Felt his life force as it waned.

Phantom Pain – Part Two

He woke up to a myriad
Of people dressed in white
Who spoke in quiet voices
Like whispers in the night.

And then a kindly doctor
Sat down beside his bed
“There’s no easy way to tell you, son,
The things that…

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The Woman in the Back of the Bus


Back of the Bus2Had it not been for her slight smile, she would have seemed imperious in her ownership of the bench seat in the back of the 7th street bus.

Her handsome countenance, testimony of her former beauty, was accented by the elegance of her pale gray slacks, pearlescent pink high necked sweater and paisley scarf in shades of charcoal and pink. Her flat heeled black shoes, while old, wore the buttery sheen of years of careful polishing. She was a woman who gave the appearance of control, both of herself and her surroundings, of knowing things that others did not, and one of holding herself slightly apart from the rest of the world.

She was an enigma to the other daily passengers of the 7th Street transit. No one seemed to know where she came from or where she went since those who saw her board had long since left the bus by the time her journey came to an end. She was merely a curious presence among the ever rotating group of men in suits, women with children on their laps, janitorial workers, and teenagers with their boisterous enthusiasm. She gave all the regulars a slight nod as they took their seats but otherwise always seemed to be lost in her own thoughts.

With only a few passengers remaining, she finally rose from her seat, stepped to the exit and regally descended the steps, turning left to begin her long walk down Almeda Avenue toward the corner of now and then.

The six flights of stairs in the old building creaked as she climbed slowly but purposefully, her body erect and her hand, devoid of jewelry, on the old painted wood railing. Removing her key from the bag on her arm, she entered her room as if she were walking toward her throne on the dais that was the center of everyone’s attention. Taking her cup from it’s accustomed place on the hook on the wall, she prepared her tea with the water heated on the hot plate that stood on the board that served as her counter, and sat peacefully at the old Formica table that was the center of her home.


Letter in the Snow


Pictures from FranceThe white envelope was laying on top of the snow and ice mound next to my letterbox at the end of my driveway.  Most likely it had been dropped by the mail carrier as she tried to maneuver her truck close enough to the box. My headlights flashed over it as I returned home in the early morning hours before dawn and I almost dismissed it since most of the mail that comes to the street side is junk.  For some reason I felt I should retrieve the envelope before it was buried by the slush of the plow trucks that would be coming through soon.

It was postmarked “Republique Francaise, La Poste, France” where I have distant relatives and it had been in transit for two months. The handwriting had that European charm I had seen in my grandparents writing and it carried me back to a time when I sat at my grandmother’s side as she wrote, in her lovely script, letters to family and friends in her homeland.  Her mother, my great grandmother, had emigrated to America with her daughter and two sons after the death of her husband.  I never knew my great grandmere but I felt as if I had know her from the stories told to me by my mother who adored her.

The letter in the snow read “Madame; this letter will be a surprise for you. I find in my mother’s home those photos. My mother was a friend to your grandmother, Josephine Vannson Chagnot before about 1912!! They write always until she dead. So I am 86 years old and I don’t want keep those photos. Maybe you will be glad to get them. This is your family. I hope your address is good, I find it on internet Google. If you receive this letter, please tell me. this is my address E-mail xxxxxxxx . sorry for my English but there is a long time I don’t speak English and I did not know if you speak French. Sincerely Regina, Eaubonne, France.”

This stranger, this new friend, this person who connected me to those I had loved so dearly, had sent me the treasured gift of photographs of my family, my grandmother and great grandmother as they were crossing from France to America in 1912. There were pictures of my grandparents’ wedding, great uncles, homes they had built, my parents and their newborn infant, my brother.

What Madame Parmentier could not have know is that some years ago, during a break-in at my home, the thieves had stolen not only things of monetary value but for some unknown reason, my box of treasured family photographs. The photos that arrived today are some of the only ones I now have, something to pass on to my own grandchildren to stretch the thread of family across the generations.

I am the last remaining member of my mother’s family.  They have all died and I stay on as their memory keeper.


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