Tag Archives: life

In Memoriam

30 Aug

“To live in the hearts we leave behind is not to die.”
–Thomas Campbell

I’m watching the Emmys right now and it’s that part that tugs at your heart strings.  You know, the part where they run through the images of all those from the entertainment industry who no longer walk among us.  Cultural icons like Dennis Hopper, Lynn Redgrave, Lena Horne, Peter Graves, Robert Culp and John Forsythe.  Those who left much too soon like Brittney Murphy, Corey Haim and Gary Coleman.

These are all people who touched the fabric of our cultural evolution.  Who left their mark on the lives of many they never knew.  They will be missed.

On a more personal level, this morning my mother lost one of her best friends of over 30 years after a short fight against cancer.  My mother’s friend, Clare, was so much more to our family than I can capture here.   But she was that rare breed of person who truly cared about something simply because it interested her friends.  Heart of gold.  When I made the choice to become a single mother just shy of my 21st birthday, in a highly educated and driven community (those things just weren’t done in our community back then), Clare was the one who supported my mother while she supported my decision.  I have so many memories of her coming to visit my baby son, showering him with hugs & sweet kisses.  She was one of the first who said to me early on “you did good, kiddo.”  And she meant it.  Over the years, she gave one of those awesome hugs to my future husband, knitted blankets for my future children, my niece and my nephew.  She was front and center for almost every important family moment I can think.  She was a light that warmed the area through which she walked.

Yesterday, August 29, was the birthday of my son’s best friend and first college roommate – Andrew.   Sadly, it’s a birthday that my son and Andrew’s other college friends get together in order to remember what joy Andrew brought to their lives.  Andrew passed away during the spring break of their freshman year.  It was a shocking moment, for there wasn’t the car crash, or drinking binge or any of the other events that parents worry most about, rather Andrew suffered from a rare disorder brought about by Mar-Fan Syndrome.  Mar-Fan Syndrome is an inherited and genetic disorder causing a breakdown of the connective tissue.  This stress on the body’s tissue causes debilitating weakness of the carrier’s heart.  And so, Andrew died of a heart attack at 18.  The days and weeks that passed were filled with tears, and grief, and a hope that his parents and his sister would find solace in the love that so many had for Andrew.  On a heartening note, his parents enveloped our son with true warmth and they were able to grieve together.   The closeness that he has with them has brought a comfort to him, in hopes that he can comfort them, that in turn brought some comfort to us as we worried whether the stress of it all would be too much.

Andrew – know that you are missed and that we think of you every day.

Clare – rest in peace and thank you for being a guiding force in what I can now honestly say was a success in my early path of motherhood.

Please take a minute to enjoy your family, your life, and your gifts from day to day.  Our time here is way too precious.

Kindness of Strangers?

28 Aug

This past week my husband and I watched Spike Lee’s documentary “If God Is Willing and Da Creek Don’t Rise” on HBO.  Excellent, but painful to see.

Of course, we’ve followed the story closely from the beginning.  We have extended family members who had relatives living in New Orleans when Hurricane Katrina first hit.  None of them, not one of them, has ever moved back.  If you watched the documentary, it’s easy to understand why.  The stories that came out of that horrendous week are, well, horrendous.  The police corruption, the death, the mayhem.  Unfathomable.

What struck me most in reflection was the overall lack of kindness among strangers.  I’m certain there were many stories of  resilience and coming together in the face of adversity that aren’t covered as much.  But the depth and breadth of the stories of pure nonsense, of using a tragedy to fuel one’s own hate of another, of cities determined to keep New Orleans poorest and most destitute people out of their areas (to the point of shooting pedestrians without a word), is absolutely shocking.

And New Orleans simply brought to light that which seems to seethe under the surface of certain areas in this country.

Did I tell you the story, earlier this summer, of taking my morning walk when 3 blocks from my house, as I crossed the street on a green light, some unknown man in a random car tried to run me over as he yelled the N word out of his window at me?

Yes, we have issues.

On the flip side, one morning this past winter, I was out with my two youngest kiddos, after dropping my husband off at work, low on gas and without my wallet.  Apparently the gas gauge was in a funky mood because it turned out I was actually on “E” and the car died on the side of the highway.  It was 20 degrees outside.  We have roadside assistance.  So I picked up the cell phone to call and wouldn’t you know – no service…  Long story short, more than a few people stopped but I was getting strange vibes from some, and wary of who to trust (remember I had small children in tow).   A gentleman pulled his car over, an IT repair service vehicle, and perhaps it’s the techie heart in me or the kind smile, or that little voice, but something told me, he was sincere in his offer of help.  He not only paid for and got gas for the car, but he waited to make sure we off and capable of getting home safely before he departed.  And refused to give me his name or phone number to return the money.  Saying simply “pay it forward.”  Which we will, my husband is under strict orders to assist a woman & her children in need, if the situation should arise.

In both situations, I was a vulnerable woman (who happens to be black) approached by random men (who happened to be white) and of course, depending on the individual the situations left me feeling quite different.  Neither caused me to make a commentary about a whole group of people.  It’s time we afforded minority groups the same courtesy.

There is a need in our country today to stop trying to sweep under the carpet that which is painful to confront.  Ignoring it doesn’t make it go away.

The polarization that threatens to encroach upon our very well being is slowly seeping through the edges of our society.

The only way to rid ourselves of the “race card” is to stop playing the “race game.”  Period.  And that means saying no to racism in every form, every day.

I hope we can agree on that.

On the other hand, I hope that we can get back to (or perhaps finally beginning to cultivate) that Norman Rockwellesque vision of a country where the kindness of strangers is a given, no matter the appearance of the persons involved.

And you know something, it can all start with a smile.

Virtually Friends…

1 Jul

I can remember when the Internet, in the form of the World Wide Web, was introduced to the public @ large.  Actually, I remember using Gopher and FTP archives prior to an official Web.  I’m dating myself, but I’m not that old, really, I was only 21 (give or take) at the time.  I worked in an IT department and some of my co-workers were former employees of DEC, the company that made VAX and… oh, never mind, now I’m really dating myself.

Anyhow, every time I use Twitter, I’m reminded of how hesitant cautious everyone felt about making connections with people they didn’t  know.  It was uncharted territory.  Then came online dating sites, and that really tested our willingness to make connections “virtually.” Jump forward to today, and here we are tweeting and friending and blogging into the virtual unknown.

This is really what “space, the final frontier” has become.

And to be sure, there is reason to be cautious still.  Just like real life, everyone’s motives are not what they appear to be or even, sometimes, what they are presented to be….

Yet.

And still.

I love making virtual friends.  In fact, sometimes, I find that the friends I make virtually have more in common with my personal likes and dislikes than ones I might meet on the street.  Nothing can replace the face to face connections that human society needs and craves.  But making true connections and friends online means we have to employ parts of ourselves that we might not otherwise use.  Opening up at times in a way that promotes introspection as much as anything else.

This is a good thing!

It’s a brave new world, and times they are a changing… and that’s as it should be.  How else could a stay-at-home mom have friends in India, New Zealand, Canada and coast to coast in the USA?

Have a great story of a virtual friendship?  Be sure to share it with us here!

Finding Inspiration and Focus

28 Jun

A deadline is negative inspiration. Still, it’s better than no inspiration at all.  ~Rita Mae Brown

Every word is like an unnecessary stain on silence and nothingness. ~Samuel Beckett

One of the most difficult challenges a writer faces is the task of finding inspiration on days when one is uninspired.  On a good day, writers are inspired to write with a flow that could fill dozens of time-worn journals.  On a bad day, writing becomes a four letter word.

If you write, you know what I mean.

As of late (late being the past 5+ years of my life), I’ve struggled to find time to write.  But as a mother of four, those are fleeting moments.  And when I do find time my inspiration is scattered.  Should I “mommy” blog?  Nah, not really for me.  Should I write for someone else (another blog, About.com, eHow)?  I tried that for a hot minute on a certain site that shall remain nameless and was extremely disappointed by the work to return ratio.  For as much work as it takes to write for a topic generation site, one might as well start one’s own business – which is what this writer is working on doing.

In the meantime, I’m still drawn to writing.  When you dream of the written word, you know what your calling is.

On certain days, I’m inspired to blog about technology (you’ve seen my blog 140 ChitChat, a blog that died a sudden death when all posts were lost and now is in the process of being rebuilt).  I’m inspired by current events, but shy away from blogging about such topics because I’m really not interested in sparking political debates online.  Need time to sort out my own politics first, doncha know, although 30 more days of “spilling” oil may cause me to rethink that philosophy.  And, of course, I’m inspired by life, my family, my children.

In a good month, I may have time to do three really good blog posts.  One must go to my business site, one must go to 140 ChitChat and one currently is dedicated to this site, at this time.

I really don’t lack inspiration, and it may seem as though I lack focus, but really I’ve thrown several balls in the air while still in the process of learning how to juggle.  Learn as you go is a tough way to grow.

The best solution I’ve found to date is taking the plunge into hiring a few great people to help me out, writers, a VA, etc.  While it’s always hard to share the reins, especially when it comes to writing, I know the payoff in the end will be 10 fold.

Meanwhile, I’ll plug forward, undaunted.  And I’m ever so grateful for the constant inspiration life brings, the wonderful friends I’ve found in my social networking ventures, and the graciousness of my readers to walk the road with me.

The Sweetest Sour of Them All

4 Jun

It occurred to me today that the lemon is proof positive that anything sour can be made delightfully sweet! Lemon bars, lemon ice, lemonade, lemon meringue pie, lemon pound cake, the sky’s the limit when it comes to lemon-aided desserts (and I love them all!)

Surely this realization must have some application to every day life.  Of course there’s the old adage, when life gives you lemons make … well, you know the rest.

It’s certainly been true in my life that very sour situations have turned out to have very sweet endings.  Less then a year after my father died, I met my future husband – we connected on the first night over a discussion about our fathers, his had passed away five years prior.

Life these days has become pretty sour.  Recession.  Failing institutions.  Politics.  You name it.  And don’t get me started on the news.  Is there no flip side?  Nothing positive to report?  I know I said yesterday that I don’t believe in positive just for the sake of always being positive (that’s phony), but I don’t believe the glass is half empty either.  A perpetually negative, sour outlook is a sure recipe for an unhappy life.  There’s a fine line between sarcasm and an out and out cynic.

So if that venerable tart, Ms. Sour Lemon, can dress herself up in so many sweet ways.  Well, why not us?

Looking at it from my oil spill clogged glasses, I’m thinking maybe the oil spill will turn from sour to sweet if it causes us all to rethink our dependence on crude oil.  We needed to get off that tip anyway.  And the sooner the better.  Perhaps clean alternative energies will be met with less legislative and lobbying resistance in light of this latest debacle.  Maybe, just maybe, caring about the environment will become a “norm” and not an “activist” cause.

That would be sweet.