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Seminal Events

September 11, 2017

We all have seminal events in our lives. Most are personal–births and deaths, weddings and divorces. Some, however, are public. Massively public. Depending on how old you are, you can respond immediately when someone asks, “Where were you when…?” Pearl Harbor. Kennedy was assassinated. The Challenger exploded. Armstrong walked on the moon. 9/11.

This will be published on 9/11. September 11, 2017. I can remember exactly where I was when I heard my country was under attack. I remember watching the twin towers fall again and again on television, never thinking that, to a child, all buildings in all cities were under attack. Watching the Pentagon on fire, not knowing how many were killed or injured. Weeping when passengers took down a jet in Pennsylvania before it could be turned into a weapon.

Yes, we can remember, but what I remember most is what happened later. After. When we drew a collective breath and realized there were no additional planes in the air waiting to attack us. When there was a run on US flags and poles for displaying them. People who had never flown the flag did so with unabashed patriotism. Some flew it to thumb their noses at the cowards who attacked us. Whatever. They flew them. Whole subdivisions, whole city blocks bloomed red, white, and blue. Many of those flags still fly all these years later. Mine does, although my original flag has long since gone to its grave. Properly destroyed in a military-style ceremony when its colors were retired forever.

Doors opened to strangers. When the commercial jets were pulled from the skies and hotels filled up, people took in strangers. Some stayed more than a week, because the skies were closed for many days. New friends became instant best friends. Blocks had cookouts and group functions to share their grief, pain, anger. Strangers worked hard to help their hosts. Prayers. Hand-holding. Hugs. “Thank you” didn’t seem like enough, but it was.

As days turned into weeks, people in cities looked for hiding holes should there be another attack. Knowing cities could never be evacuated should there be a biological or nuclear attack, city dwellers looked for places away from home where they could feel safe. We gave eight families invitations to our lake house, where we now live year round, but where in 2001 we didn’t. We told them where to find the outdoor key, told them to eat what was in the freezer, sent them maps not only to the house but the local services. Gas stations. Grocery stores. Pharmacy. Liquor stores.

We were lucky. No one needed a rush evacuation due to new attacks. Everyone who knew where the keys were came for long weekends after the initial fear cycle was behind us. The keys are in the same place, so if anyone needs to get out of any situation, they have sanctuary with us.

I have never forgotten the kindness the world showed the US. It seemed that even age-old enemies stood beside us symbolically. We wept and raged together. Later, we met together on battlefields against a common enemy.

The blog entry will be published on September 11, 2017. My gratitude toward the world hasn’t weakened. We were all Americans for a period of time. All over the world. The world became one when we were attacked.

Now, I wish we could become one again. Not due to a tragedy. Not due to a natural disaster. But, because we need to be one world. We need to stand together. We need to build bridges. We need to make amends for our actions which have disrespected other countries. We need to open the door of friendship. We need to be the grownups. We need to do it now.

Featured, Memories, Mother, Uncategorized

I’d Walk A Thousand Miles

February 15, 2016

Twelve years ago today, February 15, my mother, variously called Doc or Mini-Mommy, died. I still miss her every damned day.

Mom was a tiny dynamo, hence the Mini-Mommy moniker. She was fiercely protective of her only chick, me. As a single mother she took me to movies and rodeos and plays. She was a voracious reader, so mysteries, thrillers, suspense stories and romances found their way onto her bookshelf.

I grew up to be a reader, too, because she and my grandmother taught me to read by the time I was three. No, I wasn’t memorizing oft-heard stories my grandmother read to me. I once corrected her when she missed a word. She thought I was kidding until I pointed to the word. From then on, I had daily reading lessons.

Mom died with about fifty linear feet of books in her bedroom. I saved some of her favorites, books that have moved with me from the home she shared in her last years with my husband and me. I donated boxes to the nursing home/rehab center/hospice where she spent her last days. Others I’ve given to Goodwill for strangers to enjoy, but only after I revisited them in the past dozen year.

Mom’s last three weeks were painful. Once she was diagnosed with small-cell lung cancer, doctors could do nothing but keep her calm and out of pain. I visited her every day, read to her, listened to her stories, held her hand. Two days before cancer won, she stopped talking. Communications were through squeezes, her hand in mine. I finished reading our last book in the dark middle-or-the-night hours before she died. I was with her when she was finally out of pain. I kept a promise that she wouldn’t be alone. She wasn’t.

I know yesterday was Valentine’s Day. I hope you told your parents, children, siblings you love them. Whatever you did to celebrate, I hope you didn’t overlook the woman who gave you life. Without her, you wouldn’t be here.

Now, a decade plus later, I’d walk a thousand miles to see her smile again, to feel that hand squeeze, to have one more healthy day with her. I miss you, Doc.

Memories, Uncategorized

A Thousand Miles

November 23, 2015

Thanksgiving is a few days away. I’ll spend it with my husband, calling our kids who live too far away to visit, remembering our mothers who have left this world. Neither Terry’s nor my mother lived to enjoy this day, but we did. And we remember and give thanks for the good times when my mother was healthy and his mother still had a steel-trap memory. We forget the bad times when my mother was dying from lung cancer and his mother slipping into dementia.

For years, the two mommies, Terry and I celebrated a string of wonderful days. Mother’s Day, within a week of my mother’s birthday. His mother’s birthday in September. Our wedding anniversary  on May 11. We joined together in a group celebration with presents for each special day.

My mother was a reader, so any mystery, thriller or suspense story found its way onto her bookshelf. I’m a reader, too. I saved many of her favorites after she died. More I donated to the nursing home/rehab center/hospice where she spent her last days. Terry’s mother never met a crossword puzzle she couldn’t conquer.

We think of them all the time. We miss our mother’s who worked long and hard as single parents to raise us with solid values, a love of helping others, caring personalities. We remember times when we were good and bad, when we did or said things that hurt. We’d take back those words were it possible, but our mothers were bigger than both of us. They understood when we lashed, well, more me than Terry, and forgave us our thoughtless behavior.

On Thanksgiving we will fix their favorite holiday foods, cook more than we can eat at any one sitting and put aside leftovers for meals and snacking. We will tell stories we’ve told each other many times before. We’ll call the kids, tell them the same stories and keep tradition alive. We don’t have to be together to share memories. We just have to be willing to tell stories we don’t want forgotten.

I invite all of you to join us in spirit. Tell your parents, children, siblings you love them. Thanksgiving is coming soon. Say a special thanks the woman who gave you life. Without her, you wouldn’t be here. And if you weren’t here, you’d deny your friends and family the pleasure of your company.

When Terry and I take a walk before dinner, once again we’ll think how we’d walk a thousand miles to talk with our mother’s one more time.

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