Tuesday, September 27, 2011

In Memorium

Four years ago today, my mother passed away after a short battle with an overwhelming cancer.  So very many other losses and challenges tumbled out after her death!  It was more than two years later before I could fully catch my breath, look around, and feel the landscape might look the same on a continuing basis, and it did and it does.

My family winnowed down from five to two.  My father suffered a massive stroke that has rendered him helpless.  One brother's rabid homophobia erupted, unfettered now by parental disapproval.  One brother, sister-in-law and niece remain blessedly normal and connected.

I miss my mother.  I miss our talks, shopping trips, I miss her sense of humor.  I miss her.  It's amazing how things happen.  The family just fell apart.  I wouldn't have pegged her as the glue that held the family together, but she was, probably equally surprising to her.  And I was shocked to see how much she and my father held my eldest brother's venom in check.  He went in a flash from  someone I knew to someone unknowable, his face and voice twisted and warped by spoken hatred.  I have no idea who or what I symbolize to him - I just know I will never share common space with him again.

One major blessing - I have no regrets concerning my mother.  I said everything I wanted to to her, and I believe she would say the same about me.  That is uncommon grace.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Saudi Women Step into the Modern Era

King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia just granted women the right to vote, and the right to run for office.  He is perhaps taking a look around at the 'Arab Spring' and deciding to get ahead of the curve.

"Abdullah said the changes announced Sunday would also allow women to be appointed to the Shura Council, the advisory body selected by the king that is currently all-male.
The council, established in 1993, offers opinions on general policies in the kingdom and debates economic and social development plans and agreements signed between the kingdom and other nations."

Saudi Arabia is a deeply conservative Muslim nation.  These changes are perhaps the most modern to be seen in such a country even throughout this time of deep reflection and deep change.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Hillary, among others

According to a recent Bloomberg Poll, nearly two-thirds of Americans approve of Hillary Rodham Clinton.  A tad of buyers' remorse?  I know I feel it.

I remember those high flying days of Hillary's campaign, waiting in the freezing cold to see her, hear her at a local arena.  I came late, and resentful, to the Obama camp.  Who knows what would have been - she would have inherited the same mess he did.  But......but......ah, we'll never know.

I'd love to speculate on a Hillary challenge to the incumbent, but it will never happen.  She's already said her current public service position will be her last, and who could blame her? 

Could there be a viable challenge to Obama?  The last time an incumbent was truly challenged, a Democrat incumbent, was when Ted Kennedy challenged Jimmy Carter.  What a fiasco that was - who can forget the infamous Roger Mudd interview when Mudd asked Kennedy why he wanted to be president.  There was a pause the length of which would challenge Rosemary Woods (there's an oldie but a goodie).  You could see Kennedy's brain trying to engage with something, anything, other than  "......................because that's what Kennedy men do!"  He was a better Senator than he would have been President.  A great example of a man who loved to work with others to compromise - but a leader when that's what was called for, unafraid to stand on his own.   He would have served as a great mentor to the sitting president, had he lived longer.

That's what we need and don't have - a true leader.  Compromise is great, but we all know where the buck stops.  It's just stopping, and keepin' on keeping on, and the bill gets higher and higher. 

On a more positive note, I passed a truck that had a picture of Rick Perry on it, with the caption:  "Does this ass make my truck look big?"  Pretty good for Perry-land!

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Nine Eleven

ten years ago today, i drove my partner to the local airport and waved goodbye as she flew off to NYC for a conference.  i went off to work, without her itinerary.  a couple hours later, i followed a group of people walking quickly into a conference room with a wall size t.v. and watched the horror unfold.  remember how long it was before we knew anything??  well,i didn't know my partner's flight numbers, arrival time, nothing.  i left work shortly afterwards, and my best friend met me at my house for an impossible vigil.  where was K?  she could have been anywhere, now that all the planes were grounded - but what if there were still rogue planes?

in addition to the lost-loved-one trauma, i was stunned as only a native new yorker can be to see such destruction writ large on my much-beloved city.  i have a treasured memory of being with friends in 1976 sitting on the World Trade Center Plaza watching the tall ships come into the harbor, the bicentennial celebration.

it wasn't until about 6 p.m. that K called - her plane had been grounded in atlanta, a city she was forced to stay in for three long days, until transportation could be arranged.  she described massive confusion in the atlanta airport.  it was before everyone had cell phones, and the lines for public phones took hours.  eventually, volunteers moved up and down the lines with cell phones for people to use.

we connected.  we connected.

Friday, September 9, 2011


My mother, who died a little under four years ago, would have turned 82 today.  It all still feels so odd - the not-celebrating of it.  The birthday of hers I most often remember was her 60th.  She was not happy about it at all, and I was determined to make it memorable in a happy way.  Mom loved animal figures all her life - clay, brass, stuffed - so over the course of a couple weeks I found 60 unique animal figures to give her.  I lugged them all the way from my home in Texas to my folks' home on Long Island - and what a hit they were!  All five of her granddaughters were there, pretty young kids then, and some of the animals made their way into the kids hands, but Mom kept the majority.

When she died and I chose items of hers I wanted, I chose most of the animals.

Mom was simple, and complicated - actually, she was simply the most complicated person I ever knew. That made much of her life difficult for her to negotiate, and she lived with disappointment and unhappiness for much of her life.  Yet she also knew joy, pleasure, fulfillment.   A woman of extremes.  A woman of deep intelligence, a sharp wit, astute observations.......

And a woman who loved animal figurines - the more eccentric looking, the better.

I believe in reincarnation, and I like to think she's been reincarnated as deeply beloved animal. 

Wednesday, September 7, 2011


Central Texas is on fire!!  Fires to the north, east and west - and we are, gratefully, south. Hundreds of houses are being consumed.  The destroyed acreage is in the tens of thousands.

We fear a shifting of the wind.  It's time to make rescue plans - starting and ending with the animals.  And maybe pictures.  It's doubtful it will reach us - but it was doubtful that the wonderful Bastrop State Park would go up in flames.

God bless the firefighters and other first responders, now from all over the country.

Monday, September 5, 2011

The Couples

There were three key couples as I grew up:  Sam and Judy (my parents), Nory and Burt (my mother's sister and her husband) and Edith and Bill (contemporaries of my parents, 2nd cousins of mine).  It might be months, sometimes years, between visits, but they were always there.

Now, in the middle of my life, things change.  My mother is no longer here, my father lost to the twilight of a massive stroke.  My uncle Burt also struggles through a stroke, living for now in a nursing home (as is my father - both needing 24/7 care).

Bill has been decimated by the cruelty of Parkinson's Disease - and, a few days ago, he passed on.  A release, to be sure, but also a profound loss.   Brilliant, breathtakingly well read, and one of the wittiest men I ever knew.

My family changes.  My brother and I take our places for the younger family members.  We are becoming the unchanging couples, until we further age and fall prey to the same infirmities. 

The circle of life.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Unasked Questions

I noticed them more and more over time.  Corks.  In ashtrays, on unused planters, next to wine glass coasters.  Lots of corks, in my parents house.  When I visited, I stayed in an upstairs bedroom, and I shared the space with corks.  I always wanted to ask after their origin, but never did.  I assume they were from times of celebration.  I think back; there must have been a story to each cork, and now I'll never know.  I have only my imagination to fill in the blanks.  I didn't ask, and now they cannot tell.  The house is gone as well, the corks scattered to the four corners of the earth, each one holding a nugget of my parents' history.  I wish I'd asked.