Rights and Social Change

Every generation that ever occupied this country has been split. They either fought for change, or fought for the current status quo.
People who came over on the Mayflower lived a hard life, but still  felt it was up to them to tell the natives their beliefs were wrong and tried to convert them to Christianity. Blood was spilled, cultures lost. Then came slavery, one greedy group felt it was ok and made piles of money from it, others knew it was wrong, Again, we took up guns and went to war to abolish this established practice. More blood was lost.

Then came a woman’s right to vote, work and make an equal wage for equal work, have children or not have children, drive or partake in numerous human activities. There were sits ins, arrests, violence, family fights and death over this issue. Eventually laws were passed to insure these rights. (They could still use some tweaking) Our businesses had to be forced to add safety standards to the workplace to save lives. They were forced to shield moving conveyor belts, protect workers from chemicals and provide safety equipment. This didn’t happen from the goodness of someone’s heart, it took laws to make it happen.

Civil liberties were a big one. We locked people of Japanese descent in camps, we denied ethnic families not born in this country access to housing and schooling. Our country clubs denied admittance to people of a certain race and schools turned away children with differing skin color.

In each instance, people were hurt, arrested or killed. In each instance it took laws, not popular by people with deep personal beliefs, to make a change, but change was made. Guess what? The country survived with these laws! All races can mingle at school, women can work and fight for a fare wage, people can not be denied housing over skin color. We became a nation that let people be who there are. You can still adhere to your religion and follow your beliefs. You can bring your children up with these beliefs, but you can not use them to deny fellow humans basic rights.

It is time to let those who are gay have the same freedom and rights as the rest of us. Let them marry, divorce, rent an apartment, work and carry insurance. This would be another basic human right forced on us by law and we will survive this as we have all other changes. Added bonus? You can still worship in any way you see fit and make sure your soul ends up in the resting place of your choice. We can make this change, keep your soul intact and not spill any blood or waste anymore hard-earned tax payer money on the fight.

Don’t write to me with tales of women or minorities who still face discrimination, unsafe work conditions or a woman fired because she wouldn’t sleep with the boss. I know these things still exist and people deal with it daily, but it is dealt with far less with the laws than without the laws. There will always be immoral, greedy people who do what they need to do to feed their needs.

Long story short, people who pay taxes have the right to reap the same benefits from this country as the rest of us. Law is law  and religion is religion. If we continue to deny them the right to marry, be in a hospital room with a dying loved one or take away their right to an estate, we should stop collecting taxes from them as they are not full citizens of this country.

 

 

 

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A Great Day!

My youngest grandchild, shown in the photo below is in his “mom or dad only” phase, as he should be at the age of two. He flashes us a smile from time to time and watches us with interest, but only mom and dad can hold him or bestow kisses. The hat you see in the picture is sported whenever he is awake and he pulls it over his face like a shield, flashing his eyes only when he deems it proper, sneaking in a smile from time to time. His brother is a bit more gregarious, runs to and fro as you chase him for a kiss or a tickle, letting you catch him as Blake watches from the sidelines.

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With that said, I will tell you why Father’s day was the best day.  We all gathered to celebrate our dad’s. The food was flowing and the two babies warmed up and interacted with one and all at their own level. Blake even popped out from his hat long enough to shove in some meatballs. He sat and played in the sand with me and played with his little tykes car. Grandkids are great, you get the fun and hugs and don’t have to do diapers or discipline! When it came time for them to walk home I went on my usual chase to give Logan a hug and a kiss, a chase he has come to expect. I caught him, took off his hat and planted a kiss on his head. He wiped it off.

I turned to Blake, expecting him to pull his hat down and hide. I bent over and said “Love you Blake, come back soon.” To my surprise he took off his hat and pointed to the top of his head, telling me to plant a kiss on him! I planted that kiss and he smiled, then put the hat back on. It was one of those break your heart, tear forming minutes you get now and then. The image is  frozen in my mind. It was father’s day, but I feel I got the best gift of the day.

I have snapshots in my head, from different eras, permanently etched in my mind. My oldest daughter running from the bath, naked as a jay bird, her blond curls bouncing on her back as she mounted her hobby-horse, she was all of two. Or her posing on a frosty November day in a paper pilgrim hat, nervous as all get out over her part in a school play. My son, standing by a lake at a local park, clapping his hands as the frogs croak around him. I can still see his joy, just him and I alone, all was right with the world. My son watching me open a Christmas gift he made himself. Elise on the porch, no more than six, telling me she wished my pain was a balloon so it would fly into the sky and disappear! She was so deep and serious she made me believe her idea. Jimmy’s eyes lighting up when he saw a train, or the light bouncing off his long blond curls as he ran after a butterfly in the front yard. Emma playing with my paint tubes as she learned her colors, the sun streaming through the patio door, highlighting her face as she smiled, proudly naming off the colors. All these snippets are burned into my brain like buried treasure.

Blake taking off that hat and pointing to his head, and the look of pride on his father’s face was the latest.  Treasure these snapshots, and your family.  These are the riches you are looking for. You need money to live, but you need memories and family to live well.

My Moms

This week many of us in the U.S. and other parts of the world are focused on the tragic shooting in a Colorado theater, and rightly so. These victims deserve our attention and respect, their families need our prayers and support.

Nobody heard the cries or felt loss when a woman in Ohio took her last breath. Nobody knows that this woman became a sister to my mother, whose own marriage left her alone with a child most of her life. Nobody knows that this woman treated me as one of her own. She propped up my mother, showed me how a woman could survive, alone with five children after divorcing a cheating husband and led by example by working in a man’s world in the 1960’s to pay for a home and a steady life for her kids.

The world doesn’t know, or care that she was there for every birthday, holiday, marriage and birth. While we were not bonded by blood, we were family. She was by my side the day I closed my mothers eyes after she took her last breath. I called her my other mom, and if you knew my real mom you would know what an honor that was.

Nancy raised her kids, paid off her house, saw her kids through school, divorce, parenthood and health issues, she was never one to turn her back on anyone, and if you were in trouble, you couldn’t find a better ally. She buried her parents way to early, her brother and two grandsons, standing tall as she tried to be a rock for the rest of us.

Never one to date, she folded when an old flame came calling. We were so happy to see her grow this relationship. She was finally doing something for herself and her last few years were filled with travel and love.
She took her last breath yesterday, seated at the table with the family she loved. She didn’t want heroic measures, or to live attached to a tube or machine and her wishes were honored.

This will not make the national news, but it has impacted hundreds of people who’s lives she touched.

RIP Momma Nancy. You are loved.

Families, Mom’s and Death.

I have avoided thinking about my demise for years. I know I am going to die someday, I just didn’t want to actually face it.

I did learn a lesson when my mother, diagnosed with stage four cancer, got busy taking care of business instead of floundering in self-pity. She sorted drawers, and after offering it all to me, sold her 5,000 plus volume library and her collection of eastern artifacts. I battled conflicting emotions’  as she asked me to box books, deliver statues or deposit payments in the bank. All of these items were what made “her… her.” I didn’t want to be a part of wiping her out, removing all the things that built her home! My poor dad hovered in the background, afraid to make a move while trying to support her needs.

One day I took a chair and locked eyes with my mom.

“I don’t like this!” I said forcefully. “This feels like you are giving up and I am helping you do it!”

Tears filled her eyes, a sight I had only seen twice in my life as she struggled for words. Moments later, her face composed she told me to sit still and shut up! I did as I was told, lol. I was mesmerized as she began to speak…

“As you know, my childhood stunk, I survived  abusive step-mothers, thyroid and weight issues and more. Then I met your father and my life changed. The only sorrow I had then was the news that I would never carry a child to term if I got pregnant. You proved them wrong, you were my miracle baby. Your father and I vowed to keep you away from the cruelty of our families and we vowed to protect you, and I won’t stop now. I can’t leave knowing you will have to wade through a ton of possessions and paperwork, I want it all taken care of now.” she said intently.

I tried to end the conversation because I was REALLY uncomfortable but she wouldn’t back down. Grabbing my fidgeting hand she forced me to sit still, locking me in her steely gaze.

“You need to know that you are my rock. My relationship with your father has been touch and go but no matter what, you have been here. When I am upset, you listen. When I am mad, you listen. When I am sad or need support, you are there. Every time I reach my hand out for comfort, you are there to take it.”

I lost it here…mom sat back and let me have my fit, just for a short time before taking charge.

“If I am going to die, I have to know that you and your father will be ok. I don’t want you weeping over boxes as you gather my books and Orientals. I want you to spend time with me now and move on later. I need to know that my passing will not strain your body due to your disease. I want to know that your limited energy will be available to take care of your father, he can’t even write a check and he has no idea of how to pay the electric bill or cook dinner. All I ask is that you don’t let them put me in the hospital. I want to be here, in my home when my time comes.”

It took almost twelve months for me to sell all the books, meet with her lawyer, get my name put on the checking account, savings account, savings bonds and house title, but she was bound this would be taken care of before she left. She trusted me to look out for my father.

The morning I got the fateful call from my dad I was not prepared. He said that he had fallen asleep for about two hours and when he woke my mom was unresponsive and gasping. I flew to the house, a mere mile away to find an ambulance backing into the drive. My dad had called paramedics, the one thing my mother asked me to “not” let happen.

They bundled her into the squad and drove her to the local hospital where we were mired down with reams of paperwork and well-meaning nurses. I was angry, all of this red-tape  cut into the time I could be holding and talking to mom. My dad, convinced that someone could save her held fast to his decision to call for help, but I heard the doctors say that she was in for “palliative care” all they could do was drug her up and keep her comfortable until she passed.

I played along for a bit, out of respect for my father, but I ended up snapping. Mom’s last wish, her ONLY wish was that if she was to die, she wanted to do it in her own home! Thankfully, a few doctors and nurses helped me convince my dad that she would not survive more than twenty-four hours.

I was torn between comforting my dad and fulfilling mom’s wishes. I climbed onto the gurney, spooning her onto her side as I know laying on her back was painful. When she finally moved, it was to place a hand to my face as she uttered one word, “home.”

She never let go of my face or hand as she kept repeating “home, home, home.”

Torn between making sure mom’s wishes were fulfilled and doing what my dad needed was heart-wrenching, but I had to side with my mom. I asked the staff if there was a quick way I could get mom home and back on her couch, but they passed me from person to person. I finally got pissed and told the staff to call somebody, ANYBODY that could transfer mom to the house before I picked her up and walked all the way! Waiting for an answer I climbed onto the gurney, embracing her from behind as laying flat hurt her back, letting her know I would get her home if I had to throw her over my shoulder and carry her. She squeezed my hand and relaxed.

The ambulance staff showed up thirty minutes later and respectfully wrapped and loaded her into the squad. Once home, lounging on the couch she had slept on for years, her face relaxed and she smiled. It was here that my father and I spent our last twenty-four hours with the most important woman in our life. We held her hands, we rubbed her feet, administered pain medication and told her all about family events. My son, daughter-in-law, their son, my granddaughter, husband, aunt and my mom’s best friend were all present when she took her last breath. My father yelled for me to do something, but once I gazed into her eyes, I knew she was gone. I felt for a pulse and watched her chest, praying that it would take a breath, but it was obvious she was gone. Leaning in for a kiss, I moved my hand over her face, closing her eyes so she could rest.

She NEVER let the cancer rule her, she ruled up to the last twenty-four hours. She dictated where she would sit, she watched Susan Boyle videos online and sat in her usual chair with pride. A mere twenty-four hour period took control, but she stayed on her feet, ruling until the end!

In the days after her death, I realized what a final gift she had given me. Knowing she wouldn’t be here to help me through this loss, she did all she could to take care of the clutter and legalities. A wise woman my mom.

I decided I need to think about the legalities and give the same gift to my kids. I don’t want to face it, hell, I don’t want to go! But I will, so I need to draw up papers and leave my family with a legacy like the one my mom left. I don’t want them bogged down in a sea of possessions and paperwork. It is morbid and not pleasant to talk about, but you are giving your family a great gift by purging belongings and tending to paperwork long before you check out.

Give it some thought. Who would raise your kids you if die in an accident? What will it cost for your family to retain legal custody of your home? How can you word a will to keep it out of probate? Who get the Christmas ornaments, the furniture, the home and everything else?

This was a long ramble and a doubt that many of you are still reading, but for those who are, please know that my mom filed papers to name me as co-owner on all of her savings bonds, checking and savings account. She had my name put on the deed to the house and gave me her most treasured mementos with hand written notes listing the history of each item.

Thanks to the notes, I know that odd, faded teddy bear pin was the first gift my father bought her with his meager wage. I know that the pearls were given to her by a life-long friend so she could wear them at her wedding. I have a box full of history and memories that would have meant little to me if she had left without telling me about each one.