Dealing With Mortality


I am a fatalist, when it is your turn to die, you will die because there is no escaping it. I am sixty-four years old, and I have had to face the fact that mortality is a finite thing. I have diabetes, heart disease, and kidney failure – any of which will literally be the death of me. Oh, not today, probably not for years with all of the modern medicine and surgery available. But, I have a use by date stamped in my DNA somewhere and my body is making me very aware of that fact on a daily basis.

I decided that living with constant pain is something I can do, because life is worth it. I can live with the next thing to go wrong, because life is worth it. I can live with the unknown because life is worth it. As long as life is worth it, I will keep going. It may be slower than I am used to, it may frustrate me not to be able to do what I want because of limitations – both physical and emotional – but it is still living. I have long since come to terms with the idea that if I wake one day and nothing hurts, I will have died in my sleep.

I don’t fear dying, for many reasons from my faith to knowing I will get to be with my loved ones and friends who have gone ahead of me. I am also too stubborn and opinionated to let something as natural as death intimidate me. It happens to everyone eventually. I have thought a lot about what I want done at my funeral. No crying, no wailing, no feeling depressed. It is a celebration of my life, my death, and my eternal life! So I don’t want sad music, speeches about how good I was, or more likely, how difficult I was in life. I want loud music, and people dancing as the escort me to my grave. I have already told my husband that at my graveside, the song by the Muppets, “Moving Right Along” must be played as my final thoughts. I love that song, we always played it when we drove off on an adventure when my boys were small.

I don’t want people to sit quietly, whispering to each other, get up and greet each other with a hug and talk to each other in a normal voice. It won’t bother me, that’s for sure. Laugh, oh, please laugh. Laugh about the silly things I did, my stubborn slant on politics, how I would drive my car and smoke those idiot teenage boys who thought they could out drive an old woman. Tell jokes, and share stories. For heaven’s sake, whoever delivers the eulogy, don’t be preachy or maudlin. And above all, don’t be boring.

I want to do a video before I die, one to be played at my funeral. My last word on everything from love to death. Why? Because it is my funeral, damn it, and I can. I want the last memory people have of me, especially my loved ones, to be one of me telling them what to do and how to do it just like I do every day in my life. More than that, though, is a last chance to tell them not to cry, because I have gone on to a better place.

A place where I will have to answer for my mistakes, a place where I can hug my son, and then sit down and have a conversation about his daughter and her life. I will see my Grannie Vandenburg, and tell her how much I missed her. I will see my father, who left his world without giving me a chance to say goodbye. There will be so many ancestors I have questions for about genealogy and family history – and most importantly, I have a few questions for the big man himself, like why did he make platypus, and what was he thinking when he made dinosaurs.

Mortality is something we all need to address eventually. But I want a say so in what happens when and how things are done when I leave this world behind. And I do plan on haunting a few folks who need a swift kick in the attitude just for the fun of it. I may have died, but I will still be me.

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Ornaments and Traditions


Every year since we got married in 1971, the day after Thanksgiving is when we start decorating for Christmas. No matter how broke, despondent, worried, angry, or disappointed our life is at that moment, we begin to build our home into a happy place designed to celebrate the traditions of our families and the birth of Jesus Christ.

Over the years, we have collected many decorations, some made by our children and grandchildren, some bought in the far off places we have lived and traveled to, some handed down from friends and family. Each one is a treasure, carefully packed away every year to be brought out and rediscovered the following year. As time goes by, some of them get a bit worn and tattered, but they still go on the best place for them on the tree. As I see them being hung by my family and myself, memories flow through my mind about how and when they came to be part of our tradition.

I have twelve cloisonne bells that were given to me as a gift when we lived in Hong Kong, each one has a slightly different sound when it rings. I have a set of lovely hand carved Angel ornaments that I bought when we were visiting Bruge, Belgium. And the lace ornaments that I bought in different countries to make a special collection is beautiful. But the ornaments that I love the most are the ones made by my children and grandchildren, and now, great grandchildren. Some were made at school, others were made in scouts or as projects we did together as a family. They aren’t fancy, and they aren’t perfect, but they are unique, one of a kind, filled with love and memories. I have hand prints in paint on plastic bobbles, I have ornaments made of Popsicle sticks, glue, and glitter. I have drawings on paper, hung carefully next to the crystal angel that I bought for my first grandchild’s first Christmas. It doesn’t matter what they are made of, they are more treasured than the most expensive ornament on the tree. Because my babies made them, I would rather have them than any other treasure on my trees.

Now I have two trees, one for my fancy store bought and gifted ornaments. It is lovely to behold. Sparkling and glittering with lights and special stones. I put it up in my home office, where it can be seen from the front of the house. It is an addition to all the sparkling lights outside. The other tree is for all my special treasures from my family. It is in my living room, and it glitters and sparkles unlike any other tree in the world. Each ornament is a memory or a story to pass down to our progeny. Each one is a part of our traditions, sacred, and delightful. Usually, the youngest in the family puts the star on the tree, but the one on the tree is built in now. This year, the youngest will be eight hours away, he is two, the perfect age to start telling the stories about each ornament. Instead, our five year old will do the honors when she comes to visit this weekend. She gets a kick out of decorating the tree her way. Meaning most of the purple ornaments are at her eye level, in one place on the tree. She has a thing for organizing colors that way. If she can’t reach a place she wants an ornament, either her Papa or I patiently position it until she is satisfied. Then we have hot chocolate and play until bedtime.

As the days lead up to Christmas, our entire house is decorated inside and out. While I do the baking creating goodies to share with friends and family, the Mr. hangs lights and swears under his breath every time he has to repair another string of lights. When we are done, our home looks like a place of joy, it smells delightfully of chocolate and fresh baked goods, and the music of Christmas fills the air with both sacred and fun sounds of happiness and celebration.

Traditions bring us together as a family. The stories bring us laughter and teaches us through example. The decorations remind us of the past, the people, and the love we all share one generation to the next. I love Christmas, it completes my life, just as the month of December completes the year. Merry Christmas One and All. God Bless Each and Every One of You.

How Weird Is That?


I woke up very early this morning and couldn’t go back to sleep. What woke me was a dream I was having. I was teaching a class of first year college students (do they still call them freshmen?) and we were discussing who the real protagonist in Romeo and Juliet was. I had a list on the board, The fathers, the prince, Romeo, etc., ending with the Friar. After a minute everyone got a wrong answer so I told them it was the Friar and launched into a dissection of the history of England, the anti-Catholic sentiment of the age and how Shakespeare used his plays to promote the propaganda of first the Queen and then the King of England against the Catholic church. I won’t go into the entire lesson, it is one that I taught several times during my teaching days.
 
One way I kept younger kids, meaning teenagers, awake was to compare the feud between the families to modern day gang wars and how the warring factions of the government today were much like the war between the King of England who was also the head of the Church of England and the Catholic Church in other countries and the Catholic Kings. The kids ate it up with a spoon.
 
After waking up, I lay in bed contemplating Romeo and Juliet and other Shakespeare plays where the bias was blatant if one knew the history of the era in which it was written. Personally, I like the comedies best because he used outright parody of the pomposity of the gentry versus the vitality of the commoners to poke fun at everyone from royalty to the servants, merchants, and country bumpkins. He walked a close line between mocking and sneering and lecturing against the unpopular ideals of the King and his Lords.
 
What I find interesting is that after all this time, I remember all the details of the lesson, history, and play and could stand up in front of a classroom and give it again with a few peeks at the play to get my quotes right. How weird is that? No really, I wonder how weird it is.
 
Anyway, now I have Shakespeare on my mind. And I really, really miss teaching.

Today, at church, during our women’s meeting, we were asked to stand one at a time and introduce ourselves by telling everyone something unique about ourselves, something we were good at doing, and a hobby or interest. One thing that really bothered me was that almost every single woman said that there wasn’t anything special or unique about themselves and they didn’t have any particular talent or anything they were particularly good at. They were, in fact, rather ordinary and though they could do a lot of things, they didn’t excel at anything. It was all I could do not to stand on my proverbial soap box and launch into a heartfelt, if some what annoyed, lecture on what it means to excel and the meaning of uniqueness. The largest portion of them started with “I am just a” and filled in the blanks.

There is no such thing as being “just a” anything. It vastly annoys me to hear a wife, mother, single, mature, or young woman demeaning themselves as “just a” followed by a put down of what they can do or what they create. God does not make “just a” woman. God makes strong, individual children whom he would never judge against other children. He doesn’t do mediocre, half measure daughters who are lacking in anything. We do it to ourselves, to each other, enough. Stop that! Simply Stop!

Each one of us is unique, leaving God out of it if you must, science proves that with our DNA. We may have DNA in common with others, but our DNA is unique to us. No one in the world, save maybe an identical twin (and that is debatable), is exactly the same as we are. We have different talents, interests, abilities, knowledge, experiences, and desires from one another. Not one of us is the same. That’s a GOOD thing!

All of the women who are stay at home mothers and loved being one were almost apologetic in their acclamation that they didn’t work outside the home. Why? What a blessing to your children that their mom is there for them every day, all day and they know she will be there when they need her the most. It is the most powerful job any woman can have. She will literally bring up a generation for the future of the world. How can that be “just a” anything? She will be raising devoted children who will look back on their childhood with wonderful memories. Before all the feminists get their knickers in a bunch about how it might not be all that fulfilling for a mom who is “stuck” at home with kids when she would rather be working on a career, working is fine if a mom wants to juggle the pressures of a job and a family. Good for her. I think it is high time working mother’s back off the criticism for those who see staying home and raising kids as a full time job that is more beneficial to their children than day care. Many mother’s who have to work due to financial issues and many single mothers who have to support their families do so because it must be done. Ask most of them, and if they are honest, they would rather be in a loving relationship with a partner who supports the wife staying home. If given a choice, many women would be stay at home mom’s in lieu of climbing the corporate ladder. Many wouldn’t want to because a career is their ultimate goal. So working women, back off, stay at home mom’s, stop apologizing and stand proud for your chosen profession. It isn’t a contest.

The biggest thing that bothered me beyond being unique was the claim that none of them were particularly good at anything, implying that they were mediocre at a lot of things. Wait a minute ladies. There are a million things I am not good at doing. I muddle along with a lot of things I wish I were better at doing. I know people who are brilliant artists and musicians, while I can’t draw a straight line and barely read music. I admit to envy a bit, okay, a lot, but if we were all brilliant artists and musicians, it would make it ordinary not brilliant. I am a good cook, but not a chef like some of my friends. I can drive anything on four wheels, but I am not able drive a race car because it scares me to go so fast. What I can do is write a good story, teach a great lesson in any classroom with nothing more than a book and a chalk board, I can raise children to be competent adults, and I can take care of animals. If you ask my grandchildren, I can do magic and I have eyes in the back of my head because I always catch them when they are trying to be sneaky. I love fiercely and I am a good friend.

My point is, all of us are good at something. Maybe you think you aren’t because you don’t feel like you can compete with women who do things you can’t. Maybe you give great hugs when someone needs it the most. Maybe you are a great listener who doesn’t judge others, maybe you are someone that doesn’t gossip and spread lies, but are trustworthy when someone needs a safe place to speak out. Maybe you can do hair, or sew beautiful garments (I sure can’t), or are an amazing source for genealogy information. Maybe you give of your time freely, not asking for anything in return. Maybe you have a great singing voice, but are too shy to share it. Maybe you are a soft place to fall for those in emotion turmoil, or maybe you are a loyal and loving friend in a world of mean spirited people. Small talents are as important as great talents. Nothing is mediocre about any of us, some women are just better at things than others. There IS something each of us excels at, we just may not see it as something special when it is to all of those who know and love you. Giving of your time can be one of the greatest talents of all.

Just stop denying your uniqueness, stop denying your talents, stop denying your special abilities, and for heaven’s sake stop saying you are “just a” anything. BE A daughter of God, BE A proud and strong woman, BE YOU, and simply BE.

Take A Step Back


I have often said that the Christians who insist they are always right, tend to be the least Christian among us. I recently had a conversation of social media with a friend about the changes in Boy Scouts of America, agreeing that allowing girls into the organization would result in the program becoming mediocre and would end the century long purpose of the BSA to turn boys into capable men. Another person disagreed. Fine, she has the right to disagree all she wants, but typical of people with a dissenting position, she was unable to back her stance with facts. When she realized she was not going to change our perspective, she fell back to the usual practice of spouting personal insults to those who disagreed with her.

However, the woman decided to attack our integrity, our intelligence and knowledge of the topic, and most egregiously, our spirituality. The first two insults are expected when debating a topic with someone who is vehement that they are always right. After all they base everything on their superiority to all other human beings. What I want to know is how someone can call themselves Christian, or even religious, when they turn to attacking someone’s personal spirituality. Her response was amazingly self centered and vicious.

According to her, I have a problem with self doubt. Why? Because I don’t believe women can teach boys the things they need to be men. Boys need a male to emulate, be it a father, family friend, teacher, or Scout Leader. Women can teach boys a lot of things, important things, but there is a built in DNA aspect of being male that most women simply do not understand. It is how human males learned to work together, protect each other, and overcome the lack of leadership in a dynamic world. Call it a pecking order, competition, or simple masculine chest thumping, it is a needed part of how men act and react to each other, danger, and leadership.

That woman decided I lacked self worth because I was a leader in Scouting, teaching men to lead, but believed boys needed men to teach them. Just as girls need women to teach them certain things about being women, it is a DNA hardwired thing. How can you explain that teaching adults how to teach boys leadership is not anything like setting a male example for boys to emulate? I tried. I tried to explain it in several ways, but she close her mind and told me I needed to pray and ponder my lack of self worth since I doubted my abilities to teach boys.

Then, when the woman I was discussing the topic with, on her site, in the first place, agreed with me, she was attacked and told she needed to spend more time praying, pondering, and reading about this because her spirituality was lacking. Now my friend is one of the most open, caring, kind, accepting and loving people I know. (She accepts me as a friend, after all.) She works hard to be inclusive, and she listens to every perspective, whether she agrees with it or not. Then she quietly goes on her own way and does what she thinks is right. She doesn’t argue, like I do, nor does she get annoyed when people simply remain close minded in the face of irrefutable facts. She lives what she believes, and she doesn’t preach or insist on anyone agreeing with her. But that woman, decided she had the right to lecture, insult, and force her point of view on my friend because my friend would not bow to her will.

Who died and gave that woman the right to decide who is, or is not, spiritually healthy? What makes her think she can make that decision? It seems to me if someone turns to that sort of rhetoric and behavior, they might just want to spend some time reflecting and praying about their own attitude and commitment to Christian beliefs. Nothing will drive people away from the gospel and doctrine of any church faster than a holier than thou, judgmental, person who thinks they are perfect in all they say and do.

Everyone has faults, everyone is striving to understand their beliefs and to overcome their problems. If a person is so perfect they can point fingers at others and waltz out the doors on Sunday without a care in the world, then they really need to do some soul searching. Most folks are in a place of worship because they are striving to be better people. No one is perfect in the world of mankind. Everyone struggles, every day, with their imperfections. No one, not one person, has the right to tell someone else they lack in faith, spirituality, or comprehension of what God expects of them just because they disagree on a worldly topic. The only person who has full knowledge of their relationship with their God or higher power is that individual and their God.

Granted, there are rules and values that are required to be part of any organized church. That keeps the mayhem down to a mild roar. But when it comes to knowing what a person does in their personal lives to develop and grow within that religious belief system, it is no one’s place to lecture them on that very personal growth. Especially someone who has issues of their own.

What did I say to that woman? I told her she was exactly the kind of woman that made going to church a miserable experience for most women who were struggling with anything in their lives. Instead of compassion, support, understanding, friendship, and a safe harbor, they got a holier than thou, superior, snobby, judgmental, oh so perfect spiteful female putting them down and making them feel even more of a failure. People like her needed to step back and reflect on the reason why they would do that. Those women also seem to be the biggest gossips, most hateful, and had the biggest spoon to stir the pot of discontent and trouble among the female parishioners. Maybe it makes them feel powerful, but one has to wonder what kind of lack of control in their lives makes them so determined to force their control on those who disagree with them. They tend to be the ones who have a deep need to bully other women, forcing them into what they see as acceptable to God. I feel nothing but pity for their children and spouses.

Church ladies who spend so much time condemning others for their perceived imperfections really need to take a step back and remember that judging others will lead to being judged in the same measure. It isn’t Christian, it isn’t kind, and it isn’t going to solve their issues by hurting others. All of this because I think men should teach boys to be men through a program that gives them a moral, virtuous, and leadership based program that will no longer exist. Part of me wants to throw my hands up and say, “Whatever.” Part of me is outraged that she thinks she has a right to tell me how to think and how to believe. But the part of me that wins out is the part that refuses to be cowed by anyone when it comes to my core beliefs.

Being A Guard Angel


My five year old great granddaughter asked. “Nana, do you love Papa?”

I told her, “Of course I love Papa. Why?” She just shrugged her shoulders.

Then she asked me, “Nana, do love my mommy?”

Again, I answered, “Yes, I love your mommy. Why did you ask me that?” She shrugged again as she sat on the floor playing with her Barbie dolls.

After a few minutes, she asked, “Nana, do you love me?”

I said, “Of course I love you. You are my angel baby. I will love you forever. Why would you ask me that?”

She climbed into my lap and leaned her head on my chest. “Will you love me when you die?”

I had to fight tears. “Oh, Addie, I will love you no matter what. Even if I die, I will always love you every day forever..”

Then she asked me, “Will you be my guard angel?” I must have looked confused. “My guard angel will always help me make good choices, and you always help me make good choices.”

I got it then. So I said, “Of course I will be your guardian angel. And I will watch over you all of your life. But I don’t plan on dying any time soon. I want to be here while you grow up into a smart, strong, beautiful young woman.”

She sighed, snuggled into my arms. “Good. Because I love you, you are my best Nana. You will be a good guard angel.”

She climbed out of my lap and went back to playing with her dolls. Then she said, “Everyone is a Child of God. Even when they are naughty. God loves everyone. I think he will be happy when you are one his angels. You won’t let anyone get away with being naughty.”

I went from teary eyed to laughter. If you listen, you can hear the most wonderful things from the heart of a child.

I love my angel baby. She fills my heart with such tender love and gentle joy. So, yes, my granddaughter, I love you more than I can ever say. You are the greatest unexpected blessing a Nana could ever have. I will be your guard angel right here on earth as long as God lets me stay, and I will always watch over you until we meet again in heaven. Thank you for asking.

Happy Holy Day


This weekend is a Holy weekend for Christians. Today, Friday, is a Holy Day for Jewish people. Blessings of the Passover to all of my Jewish friends and family, and Blessings for a spiritual and joyous Easter to my Christian friends and family. And to those who enjoy the secular Easter celebrations of egg hunts and baskets, I hope you have a lot of fun too.

There are people who get very testy about how one celebrates these Holy days, or in some cases, don’t. I don’t understand that sort of attitude. As a religious Christian, I look on this Holy day called Easter that celebrates the resurrection of Jesus Christ as a commemoration of the greatest day in the events of human history. Everyone knows the story, I need not go into it here, but to me, it is a Holy, and sacred day. That is me.

However, there are millions of people who see it from the perspective of a non religious, or non practicing Christian, or no religious background. In America, and a few other countries, it is a commercial holiday that is third in the most money spent on candy and other gifts during the calendar year. Only Christmas and Valentine’s Day initiate more spending than Easter. I don’t mind that. If that is what Easter means to them, so be it. At least they are spending time with family or friends and having a joyous day. I don’t understand the folks who think they have to be holier than thou and judgmental about how or when non religious people celebrate.

I could go into a long dissertation on the history of Passover, the Roman gods and goddesses, the budding Christian faith in the years after the resurrection of Jesus Christ, the way the Romans meshed all religions together, and on and on and on, but my point is, we all have the right in the United States of America, to believe and celebrate any Holy day or not as we, individually, see fit. Insisting that one way is the only way to acknowledge the life and death and resurrection of Jesus Christ goes against the very teachings of the man himself. In Matthew 7:1-2, the Bible says, “Judge not, that ye be not judged.

2 For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again.” King James Version.

 

Everyone is judgmental on something at some point everyday. Humans tend to be tenacious on things that mean a lot to them. It is human nature, and we are warned over and over in all scriptures to stop judging others. We don’t. Then we get mad when we think others are judging us, or worse, assume they are judging us because they hold a differing opinion. Stop doing that. Disagreeing doesn’t mean either one is specifically wrong on a given topic. It means folks see things from differing perspectives. Take a moment out of your hubris and determination that you are superior and that your definition is the be all end all of definitions, breathe, and allow others to express themselves. You don’t have to agree, or even agree to disagree, you just need to give them space to talk themselves into a corner. Then, using facts, logic, history, and persuasion, state your purpose without heat, emotions, or hubris. And walk away. It isn’t easy, people, but it does work.

 

To all my family and friends, have a blessed Holy day, for whatever reason you celebrate. Secular, religious, Jewish, or Christian, all that matters is that you love one another, have compassion for others, and let joy find you as you celebrate the day.

Broken Memories


A Valentine for my husband of 46 years.  In all the years of pain, loss, joy, and happiness, we have fallen in and out of love many times.  Today, we have found each other again. And this is what came to mind today. I love you old man, I always have, even when I got lost in the sorrow.

Broken Memories

Memories of your arms

holding me, hands touching me

reaching for you, touching

broken memories.

Memories of laughter

sunshine days, warm nights

gentle loving,

touching broken memories.

Memories of joy

memories of contentment

careful words, giving

broken memories.

Memories of loneliness

memories of emptiness

memories of needing you

lost in broken memories.

Memories of growing old

lost and alone

finding you in my heart

mending broken memories.

Reaching for your arms

touching your love

finding warmth

leaving behind broken memories.

Every Day Heroes


A friend told me about an accident she and her husband came upon the other day. A car was on fire, and someone was trying to get out. Her husband jumped out of their vehicle and ran to help him get out, stayed with him until medical people arrived to fly the injured driver out to a hospital. Her husband was banged up a bit, but fine. Everyone was commenting on how much of a hero he was for helping and putting himself at risk. She demurred. I wrote in her comment section the following.

“Heroes are every day people who do extraordinary things without worrying about the consequences.”

I thought on that later, and I have come to the decision that all of us are everyday heroes during our lives. Often we don’t think of our actions as heroic or special. We simply react to what is happening in the best way we can. Sometimes it is helping someone survive a horrific accident. Sometimes it is taking soup to a sick friend. Sometimes it is a listening ear, and sometimes a swift kick in the attitude of someone having a pity party.

Saving a life is a big deal. It is a lot of responsibility and takes someone with inner strength of steel and granite to do what has to be done. Pulling someone out of burning building, out of the twin towers; running into the line of fire to rescue someone, standing up to the local bully to protect someone; leaving the abusive spouse, male or female, and taking the children with you; moving back home to take care of aging parents and giving up your plans to raise a child you didn’t expect to raise. All of those are heroic things. It takes guts, selflessness, and a willingness to deal with unforeseen consequences due to your actions to fulfill the title of hero.

Some people have jobs that are more like callings which are intrinsically heroic. Fire fighters, Law enforcement, Military men and women, Emergency Medical Personnel, are all in highly dangerous occupations. People are willing to accept those dangers. They train and work hard to gain the skills to do their jobs to the highest degree of proficiency. They are heroic in going out into the harsh world and fulfilling their duty.

Some people are heroes for taking on responsibility that they didn’t sign up for in their lives. They don’t run into burning buildings or chase down criminals, nor do they go out and put an end to evil regimes that threaten their countries and ours. These are the average moms and dads who sacrifice career advancements, educational opportunities, and being upwardly mobile so that one of them can stay home and raise their children. These are the single moms and dads, who, for whatever reason, are raising their children without benefit of a spouse. These are the single parents who are working, going to school full time, and being a mom or dad too. They could easily drop the kids into the system, hand them off to grandparents or other family members, but choose to be the mom and dad, provider, and give up personal time to be the best parent they can be.

There are heroes who teach, guide, lead, discover, and reach out to students who are on the verge of becoming another statistic to the poverty, gangs, and violence of their cultural world. Older men and women who set out to be an example to younger men and women, becoming a mentor and someone who believes in a young man or woman who has never had an advocate for their potential. And some heroes who coach and shape young people into strong, independent, thinking adults become the silent hero in the lives of the lonely, lost, and ignored. Most of them never know they made a difference just by their example.

And there are the every day people who reach out to everyone around them with friendship. Sometimes all it takes is just one person to change the life of another in a positive way after the slings and arrows of life has beaten them down. To the one they helped, they are doing something extraordinary. They cared enough to encourage someone on the abyss to keep going, not to give up, and ask for nothing in return. Sometimes all it takes is one person, just one, to change the trajectory of the world for another lost or grieving soul. Who is your hero?

Every day people, doing extraordinary things . . . think about it.

Please Stop.


Last week, a man fulfilled horrific plans he had made over more than a few months. He stockpiled weapons, ammunition, and bomb making materials, holed up in a hotel room, and opened fire on a crowd below him who were doing nothing more than enjoying a concert. He killed 59 people, injured hundreds of others, and like the coward he was, he killed himself rather than face his crimes against humanity. Most mass killers are like that, cowards at heart who die rather than face their charges.

Seeing all of the sadness, the horror, the pain, the deep unending need to know why will overwhelm everyone who is touched by this madman and his desire to kill. How do I know this is what they are feeling? Let me tell you.

On a cold winter’s day in January 1996, my son was murdered along with his friend Ralph. It was and is a very painful event in our lives. After 20 years it is as much a part of who we are as our names. One learns to live with and through the pain, but it is ever present. A man shot my son and Ralph. I don’t blame the gun, it is just a tool, I blame the man who pulled the trigger.

For all of you who are on your high horse about how bad guns are, just stop. Stop making this about YOU and your political agenda. Stop talking, just stop. Take a minute out of your IMPERSONAL outrage, and allow those who are directly involved to talk. Listen to them. Just stop and listen! They will want to tell you about how wonderful their loved one was. How they lived, what they thought, how much they are loved. They don’t give a flying damn about your politics right now. It isn’t about YOU, or gun control, or where you were, or how oppressed you feel, or any of that.

This is about human beings who were living and laughing and having a great time up until a bullet took their lives.

So just shut up, stop talking, stop arguing, stop all of this crap that has nothing to do with the LOSS OF A LIFE of someone’s son, wife, husband, mom, dad, daughter, child, friend. Stop making about you. By all that is holy and loved in your life, have some compassion, gentleness, and love. At least let them bury their dead, mourn them, and get used to the new emptiness in their lives.

Tomorrow, you will get out of bed and go on with your daily routine. Your lives aren’t changed forever, your normal is still the same. You can go on your merry way, doing your own thing, whatever it may be. But some of those families will be burying their loved one. Some will wait minute by minute to see if they need to make funeral arraignments, or plans for a long recovery for a wounded family member, some of them will weep in sorrow and deepest despair. And the weeping will go on for the rest of their lives.

In unexpected moments, a memory will come to them that will bring them to their knees in pain. Or someone will laugh, and they are sure it was the one the lost, or they will see someone in a crowd that looks like him or her, and the pain will wash over them in waves of agony. And it will go on.

While you, in your self contained world, will natter on about political this, and demanding that because a mad man killed a bunch of people in Las Vegas, Nevada in October of 2017. Meanwhile, the urgency of the event will fade for you, become part of the history of your life, and lose its meaningfulness in furthering your agenda. Other people will die in other events, and for a few days that will grab your attention, but it will fade. And life goes on.

For those who lost someone in that horrific blood bath, it will never fade. Never. They will remember each and every second of the moment they knew they had lost someone. It will take conscious effort to remember to breathe, move, even speak at times. It will never end.

With time, they will learn to live through and with the pain and loss, if they are fortunate to have others to uphold and help them. Some will give in and stop living, some will end it all. Some will find a reason to live and some will simply survive until they can take a breath or a step without feeling like they are going to break into a million pieces like shattered glass.

I know this, because I have been in their shoes and walked that mile. If you haven’t, then shut up, sit down and listen to those who have been there. You are not qualified to know how we feel, what we think, and where our hearts and minds dwell.

Just stop, stop, stop….please.