Monday, September 21, 2015


     Today at work, while fighting a rather icky cold and trying to appear completely normal, I got to help a gentleman we'll call Johnny.  In his mid 70's, you'd never know it from looking at him.  During our conversation, he told me he regularly went to the gym and "worked it hard."  He was fit, funny and in full use of his faculties.  He was trying to solve a dilemma and was a bit disappointed in himself that he had had to come in for help.
     He told me that his wife used to take care of all this stuff, that he never wrote a check until he was 63.  In fact, if he tried to pay something, arrange a doctor appointment, she thought he was saying she couldn't do her job well.  One day, when he was 60, he and his children had stumbled across a shopping bag filled with bills and creditor letters, and that was when they figured out her secret - she had early onset dementia.  He'd had to take it all on and was glad to do so.  He told me that he'd met her in school when he was 17.  He knew right away she was his girl, and there was no going back. He said his friends had told him he was a sucker, but he didn't care.  They got married, had three children and a good life.  He did special things for her, not for her, but for himself, because to make her happy brought him joy.  She died 12 years ago, he told me.
     He told me that five years ago, he met another woman.  She's married though.  He said he follows her around like a puppy, drives her on errands, helps her weed her yard.  They've never done anything inappropriate, he told me.  He's not that kind of guy.  It's enough to be in her presence.  I said, forgive my question, but where's her husband during all these errands and weed pulling sessions.  He said that he stays inside or goes out with his friends or tells them to have a good time at church.  He's spent more time at church thanks to her, again just to be around her is enough, not because he's gotten religion.
     He told me that he'd never push the idea of divorce with her, because he didn't want to be the reason they broke up.  He also knows she'll never leave, because she has too much to lose.  He said that she talks about how they're going to move to Florida in a couple years, says it matter-of-fact to him.  He figures that he'll be sad when she leaves, but then it'll be done.  She tells him to find someone else, that she wants him to be happy, but he tells her he's happy the way things are.  He's a simple man.
     I kept openly weeping throughout his story, wiping my eyes and sniffling.  He'd say, oh did that part get you.  And then he'd chuckle a little.  Eventually I asked him what he wanted to do about his original problem, and he told me to let it go.  He said he'd never told anyone, even his children, what he'd just spent all this time telling me. Then he told me that he'd come back in a month and we could talk some more.

Friday, September 18, 2015


     I'm struggling with the intensity of sadness around me right now.  I feel like it's thigh deep and murky, almost like I'm met with resistance with each footstep.  At work, there have been multiple stories of women in their late 50's to 60's coming in for help as they face divorce after 30-40 years of marriage.  One by one, they have no idea how to unravel a lifetime of joined finances, lawyer requests and lost certainty.  They've all been professionals, so it's not uncertainty at how they'll survive, but rather that their lives are undergoing such a massive change after being married for so long.  Three different times I heard, "Heather, I wouldn't wish this on anyone."
     Add to this the news today that the body of the little girl found on Deer Island, MA has been identified, and it's as horrible as we all feared.  Earlier this summer, when the not quite three year old unidentified girl, now we know her to be Bella Bond, was found in a trash bag on the beach, there was so much shock and surprise that no one knew who she was or where she came from.  There was speculation that maybe she was the child of an illegal immigrant, and that was why no one came forward. Or maybe she was from another part of the country, taken by a predator and dumped here. How could no one miss her ... a parent, a relative, a nosy neighbor.  When I was younger and the news would broadcast the mysterious death of a child or a parent holding a press conference to find a missing toddler, at some point during the broadcast my mother would say out loud that one or both of the parents were the culprits.  We'd look at her in horror at the matter-of-fact statement, shocked that it could be true.  She'd tell us, mark my words, it was either one of the parents or a relative or a neighbor.  It's almost always someone close to the situation.  Sometimes the bogeyman jumps out of the bushes, but most of the time they're down the hallway.
     Now we know that Bella's mother's boyfriend is being charged with murder and her mother with accessory after the fact.  She was killed, and her mother stuffed her tiny body in a trash bag and left her on the beach.  In my heart, I feared the mother was involved, as the baby's blanket was with her body.  We're going to find out that her family was fucked up in multiple ways, that the neighbors knew how bad it was but didn't want to get involved, that the state intervened as best they could but with lack of evidence and under staffing they did the best they could.  Meanwhile, there's still a dead child that I can only pray suffered as little as possible on the day she left this earth.  I can't even bear to spend time thinking otherwise.  As this plays out in the news, a thousand humans in the surrounding counties are praying to be parents for the first time or again, as they struggle with infertility or life circumstances that make it impossible for them to have a baby.
     Maybe that's why the sadness seems extra thick.  Our eldest child will be 18 soon.  I have wanted another child for so long, and each month that passes makes it achingly obvious that it's not going to happen.  Every story like Bella's rips at me, these unwanted little ones casually tossed to the side either in a moment of passion or in lengthy neglect.  I can't help but think about the dichotomy of refugee parents fleeing from Syria shrieking as their children are torn from them by the waves, while Bella lay crumpled in a trash bag while the waters off Massachusetts Bay washed over her.

Monday, September 7, 2015

For Him

     I want to tell you a story about someone I love very much.  Someone who is quite sick now.  I don't want to talk about the illness or eventuality, because my powers tend towards being a muse and not omniscience.  To tell you about him, I have to give you a little bit more about me.
     Like many, my childhood left a lot to be desired.  My father's alcoholism, constant beating, belittling and tormenting of our mother kept us all on eggshells and hiding the truth from those around us.  When I was 11, I reached a point where I decided it was all too much to take and I was done.  I went to the upstairs bathroom and decided to mix together several things from the medicine cabinet.  Looking back, I don't think ear wax remover, children's Tylenol and toothpaste would have killed me, but that was my intent.  I sat there thinking about my mother and how upset she would be, how I would be leaving her behind with him, what my little brother and sister would do.  Something told me to stop.  I knew that something was God.  That was my epiphany ... not on the road to Damascus, but on the edge of the tub in Cincinnati, Ohio.
     From that moment on, I knew I was here for a reason.  My mother had always told me that anyway; she wasn't supposed to survive childbirth, and yet, three of us showed up.  We had a purpose.  There was some more moving around after this, and then thankfully, my parent's divorce was finalized when I was 15.  Life was more free but still challenging, as we were quite poor.  Mom struggled all the time to provide, and we went without a lot.  Hunger was a constant.  But I had my faith, which I wore on my sleeve.  In fact, I was probably a little too vocal which made high school a challenge at times.  I had my best friend, who I could always count on, and a handful of dear friends who I was sure thought I was a gigantic dork.  The church we went to was filled with lovely people, but it was extremely conservative.  I did speak up, because I was a member, but I never really felt my opinions were actively considered since I was a woman.  Once during a serious talk with my pastor about going into the ministry, he told me I'd be able to help set a church up in a distant land, minister and lead ... until the church was established.  Then I'd have to make way for a man to truly lead the flock.  And when the day might come that I would have children of my own, if I had a son, by the time he was 11 or 12, I'd have to turn his religious instruction over to my husband.  I could continue to work with my daughters but not my sons.
     Needless to say, I was a spiritual mess. When I went off to college, it didn't get any better at first. The church I was given an entree to attend turned out to be even more conservative then the one back home. At dinner in the home of the pastor and his wife, I was reminded to wear a skirt to church and not the pants I had chosen that morning.  During the questioning about my major, which was initially journalism, he decided that it would be best after graduation for me to go work for a christian newspaper until I got married.  While he pontificated, his poor wife hustled the meal and her children.  She looked a lot older than she was.  After I left their house, I never went back to that church.
     A short while later, I met another guy, someone who listened to my ideas and liked my reasoning about life.  I knew within a short time that he was the one for me, and then he introduced me to his father.  And this is where the story gets good.
     I met a strong, hard working man with a quick smile and an even quicker laugh.  We joked, we teased, we laughed, we clicked.  This man got me.  And more than that we talked about everything under the sun.  He asked me my opinion and why.  He didn't let me get ever away without explaining my rationale thoroughly.  Every time I went to visit, we'd end up sitting around the kitchen table until all hours of the night ... husband, wife, son and me.  We talked about philosophy.  We talked about religion.  We talked about feminism and women's rights which really meant family's rights.  He never laughed at my ideas.  We didn't always agree, but we never stopped talking.  Then he started involving the family pastor, and that made it even more fun.  I had to stay sharp, stay focused.  I didn't want to let him down.  I learned so much during these talks; it honed my thought process, helped me see the error of some of my previous ideas and strengthened my resolve on others.  He treated me like my thoughts on God and life mattered.  Even now, almost 25 years later, he still treats me that way.  And I am blessed for it.  He called me daughter when he introduced me to people, long before it was settled, because in his mind it was already a done deal.
     I love you.  And a thousand years from now, I will still love you.  Long after we are both dust, forgotten afterthoughts on the genealogy chart, I will still love you.  And we will forever be able to talk long into the night.

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Rant N' Roll

     It's one of those nights ... the kind of night where I'm reading the news and Facebook declarations and becoming more and more disillusioned with the bulk of humanity.  Now maybe the fact that my back pain is pretty intense is making it worse, or as I tell my husband, maybe it's just making it harder for me to hold it in.  Remember a couple of posts ago when I mentioned the backlash against intelligence, and dare I say, commonsense that was running rampant.  I feel like I'm wading through it tonight.
     Let's start with that county clerk in Kentucky who is continuing to refuse to issue marriage certificates to anyone in her county so she doesn't have to give them to gay couples, even though the Supreme Court has ruled to allow gay marriage and every other appeal she's made has either been over ruled or denied.  I don't care that she has bad hair (you're welcome to question my own choices).  I don't care that she's been married four times.  I don't even care that she took over the position from her mother who had it for 37 years and that she also has her son working for her. She's an elected official who swore an oath to uphold the duties of her post.  She doesn't get to use her religious convictions to determine how to do her job.  I'm 100% sure that's not in the job description.  She can use her moral compass when interacting with those around her.  She can be a beacon of her faith, so that others might be helped by it.  But she can't fucking use it to decide the operational principles and practices of her position.  If her job has changed, and she no longer feels comfortable doing it, either due to her faith or the requirements, then leave.  It happens all the time in every other job on the fucking planet.  If your job was breaking the law, you have avenues you can pursue, but if your job is telling you the rules have changed, you change or you leave.  All those people standing outside the courthouse supporting her and egging her on would be singing a different tune if she said her religious convictions told her she shouldn't issue licenses to Gentiles ... or to renters ... or to poor people.  If she was a business owner in Kentucky, there are no laws on the books against discriminating against sexual orientation.  She could decide to not serve them and face no recrimination, but as an elected official she's not covered by the same rules.  She has to do her job.  Can we all recall the concept of separation of church and state alluded to in the first fucking Amendment of the Constitution which Article VI specifies that "no religious test shall ever be required as a Qualification to any Office or public Trust under the United States."
     Secondly, if I see one more human state that all people on welfare need to be drug tested, I'm going to lose my fucking mind.  This is a useless and expensive proposition that is undertaken to make poor people who need help feel like criminals, and it lines the pockets of the companies that supply the drug tests  Here's some info on how it worked out in Arizona:

And Maine:

And a bunch of other states:  

Yes, we all work hard.  Yes, we want to make sure that the monies we hand over in taxes are spent correctly.  But why are you more pissed off about whether or not the poor person who uses their slim SNAP benefits might possibly have used an illegal substance (which we've just learned that for the most part they aren't), but you're less concerned that the military industrial complex is rolling around naked in the bulk of your money.  This is all done to tear us apart, to argue about petty crap instead of work towards honest change in our country.  The Republicans use it to froth the part of their base they want riled up into a frenzy, and the Democrats point to the frothing as a way to rile their base, too.  This way both sides get us slashing at each other's throats instead of asking our elected officials to do their jobs (see above).