Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Mom, DNA, and a post office on 125th Street.



This year, I sent out xmas cards using postage from Mom's stamp collection.  It was kind of a pain because some of those stamps were quite old and the adhesive had dried up so I had to use a glue stick. Still, I enjoyed going through the stamps and thinking of Mom as I did so, and how she encouraged us kids to have collections (I collected napkins; my little sister collected matchbooks, my older brother collected rocks and postcards. As for my big sister and my little brother, I'm not so sure. My big sister may have collected stamps too.)

Anyway, earlier today, I wandered to my new local post office on 125th Street in Harlem.  I still have the habit of "wondering as I wander" what Mom (or sometimes, Dad) would think of something.  In this case, I wondered what she would make of the post office, the people standing on line, the size of it, and the fact that it is just a few doors down from the Apollo theatre.

But it wasn't until I dropped the stamps into the mail box that I realized that it was very likely (if I'm wrong, I don't want to be corrected) that because Mom handled these stamps (choosing them, buying them, admiring them, putting them in an album) at least some of them likely had her DNA on them, that there was this biological evidence of Mom's existence right there with me in Harlem.
It was a comfort.

All the same, it is hard to let this year end knowing that it is the last year that I got to share at least part of it with one of my parents.  I miss them.





© Copyright by author 2008-2014. All rights reserved.

Sunday, December 28, 2014

"A lesson in grief and resilience': Ruby Dee

From Rachel Kaadzi Ghansah's "A lesson in grief and resilience: Ruby Dee" in NYT Magazine, 1/28/2014.

"Nothing prepared me for the gut punch that was Dee’s wail when her character, Lucinda, loses her feverishly troubled firstborn, Gator, shot to death by his father.  
Many years ago, I read the Spanish playwright and poet Federico García Lorca’s lines about a mother’s grief after losing her son: “What does your purity matter to me? What does your death matter? What does nullity after nullity matter to me? Blessed are the crops, because my sons lie beneath them; blessed is the rain, because it moistens their faces.” I’ve been reminded of those lines twice, once while watching Dee as Lucinda hold her dying son, the very figure of the Pietà, and a few months ago when I saw a picture of Michael Brown’s father weeping over his boy’s coffin in Ferguson, Mo. In “A Raisin in the Sun,” Dee’s performance was quiet; by “Jungle Fever,” her rage was earned.  
What remained the same was that her roles spoke to a very real black existence rarely seen in American filmmaking. Ruby Dee was an actor masterly enough to express — loudly, unforgettably — all of that hurt. To show us just how strong her grief was and just how strong all of our grief could be." 

From the New York Times Magazine "The Lives They Lived."  Greg Hanlon's essay on Tony Gwynn is also powerful stuff.

 © Copyright by author 2008-2014. All rights reserved.

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Christmas Eve.






Not sure how I feel about the year ending. It doesn't really matter, though, as it will come to a close no matter what I think. Passed a peaceful if indifferent Christmas Eve at home.  I went on a nice walk in the fog tonight which was as fitting a way to observe the holiday as any.


© Copyright by author 2008-2014. All rights reserved.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Wind and grief.

Cris was diagnosed the same time as I was back in 2008.
She died and was buried on Saturday.

Another, mutal friend of ours said it far better than I ever could:  Wind and grief.

© Copyright by author 2008-2013. All rights reserved.

Friday, August 29, 2014

Still sad.

I am not committed to staying sad about my parents dying (Mom on Easter 2013, and Dad just shy of a year later).  I knew it was going to take time. But I had no idea that it could hurt this much for so long.

Morning's revelation:  Maybe the change in seasons is hard for me because it is a reminder that time is moving on, and the distance is growing between me and the time when my parents were alive.

That's my current theory, anyhow.

I know a lot of people who have had parents and siblings die in recent years. I get that it's not the sort of thing you talk about on Facebook, or anywhere, really.  At the same time, the silence may give the impression that grief eases or has moved on when it hasn't.

It is just indescribable.

© Copyright by author 2008-2014. All rights reserved.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Being brave and the "Lesson of Four."

My friend Laura wrote this excellent essay on "Bravery and Vulnerability: (Swimming) Lessons." I highly recommend it to any of us who needs a bit more courage especially when it comes to exercise. My comfort zone when it comes to exercise is more like a comfort filament.

But I tell myself that nearly everything gets easier with practice. So I practice going to the gym and going to a yoga session despite feeling extremely out of place.

There can not possibly be a body less-suited for yoga than mine. While the postures are not yet coming together, my mind is making progress, and I'm counting on the rest to follow.

 I also have developed the "Lesson of Four." (or Six. Or sometimes Twelve.) If there is something I want to do, I make myself try it at least four times before I give up on myself. (Sometimes I give myself more leeway if it is something I really want to do.) Did it with biking, going to the gym, driving on the left side of the road, baking. Am only up to "Two" with regard to preparing beef or fish.

 © Copyright by author 2008-2013. All rights reserved.

Monday, August 25, 2014

Home, good people, and apples.



"Here's some apple crisp made with Flavin family farm apples! I used your mothers recipe from the catholic ladies guild cookbook. It's delicious! The apples are picture perfect this year. I've made applesauce and apple pie filling and put in the freezer. Thank you Harold and Leona. Let me know when you are coming next and I will make you some! Lisa aka Jake's mama".

Summer is the season I most closely associate with my parents. This is the first year that has passed without conversations about how the garden, the berries, the fruit trees are doing. You might remember that last year was also the "Summer Dad Learned to Make Apple Crisp" using some of the apples he and Mom had canned.

So messages like this, from the mom of Jake (a local farmer and grandson of longtime family friends) who lives and works on the family farm place... they are such a comfort.

Because it isn't just my parents, or the farm, or the apple trees, it really is about community and neighbors and people "doing for" one another. It is a beautiful (and delicious) thing.

© Copyright by author 2008-2013. All rights reserved.