Thursday, October 22, 2009

Addendum to Weekend Full of Life

More of the other part of life from this weekend. I learned that a friend and colleague passed away on Saturday the 17th.

It's hard to reconcile that 'other' part of life when the person who's experienced it is young and full of life. When you want them to be around, to do more work, to have more friends, more experiences, it can seem senseless. The thought of a higher power, someone with a plan we just can't fathom is attractive. Or it really is all senseless and there is nothing guiding anything, just random everything. Either way you look at it, it is. And in the finality of life and death what is is what is.

Reality, what a concept.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Weekend full of life

On Saturday I went to the Memorial service for the husband of a couple I do secretarial work for. He passed about a month ago. His wife, my lovely lady, as I call her charged me with transporting his ashes to the church. When I got there another service was in progress. As I was also carrying a bell, a clipboard with papers, cards and a purse it was cumbersome and heavy and I asked a lady at the door to allow me to just sneak in the back and put it all down and wait quietly.

Turned out it was a baptism for several children. Not being much of a Catholic (I literally just found out earlier in the week that I actually was baptised a Catholic and so am... on some level) I wondered as the realization hit me that this was a celebration of the beginning of life if I really should be there, hovering with the ashes of the deceased... But then I thought, "The memorial of this man's life at the end is just as important as the marking of the beginning of this young lives". It may not be a completely Catholic sentiment and however I would know anyway, but it struck me as inherently true. So there we waited, this man's ashes and I and waited and watched.

As the family and close friends and flowers filtered in for the memorial I thought maybe I should tell someone I had the ashes in the back. But no, I thought, I should do it. (Thank goodness I had on my comfortable shoes at that point and not the heels!) So I picked him up and said to myself and him "Come on Paul, let's put you up on stage". It was a solemn moment and I was honored to do it. Who knew I would be the one to put this man, a lifelong actor, on the last stage he would grace on this earth.

Today was the celebration of my birthday. I got calls from my parents - both of them - on this day, wishing me a happy birthday, for the first time in 39 years. It is a whole new kind of year for me. Reconnecting with my bio-dad has been a tremendous healing and life affirming event. It has put my faith back in the quantum possibilities of the universe. It has reminded me that there needs to be faith in life. It may not always look like it's on your side, but as long as it keeps going it is heading in the right direction.

To celebrate my birthday I wanted to go on a hike with my husband and my kids. Hubby and I always talked about how when we had kids we would go on hikes and that would be our church. So today we went to church and there we saw some beautiful awesome rocks and the greenest palm fronds. Two kids of lizards and plenty of them, a grey squirrel, a chipmunk peeking out of a hole, some wild sunflowers, river reeds and even frogs. And plenty of sky.

Round in one big circle. I've always thought experiences in life were way more important than stuff. That the accumulation of wealth was only valuable to the extent that it enhanced life, not resulted in production of more things. I guess I didn't need to have any wealth at all to experience this weekend.

Friday, October 9, 2009

It Just Occured To Me...

...that one of the reasons housewives didn't go crazy en mass in the 50's (contrary to Peyton Place Popular Belief) might have been that there is a certain satisfaction in nurturing your family... now wait a minute feminists. Don't get your panties in a twist but knowing how to run a house, cook, clean, nurture children, work on homework, discipline, celebrate, have fun, vacation, COOK FROM SCRATCH (read: healthy, not fast food), grow your own food, spend time with your neighbors, go to church, serve your community (not that I particularly do those last two things, but I'm just sayin', that's a lot!) takes a lot of knowledge (that is not that easy to get by the way), patience, coordination, focus and dedication. And education, from somewhere. Not unlike a job. Funnily enough.

Look, here is what my goal is: to make sure that my family (particularly my children) feel welcomed, warm and safe in their home. Further I would like what I give to them - i.e. my time, food, attention to also be nourishing and safe.

Here is the thing: If you are stressed at work, stressed in your relationship, too busy to (really) cook then the stuff of you that inputs into your family is, OK, kinda toxic, and not so good for them.

Which brings me to my point. Some time in the 70's the babyboomers' pissed off-ness with their own parents translated into "I'm not going to learn anything that you know about anything and if I believe you were wrong about some things then I necessarily believe that you are wrong about EVER-Y-THING" (Can I just remind everyone that the people now running the world - who supposedly 'saved society' - have sold out for jobs and are now running the world - are babyboomers. Just sayin'. Take from it what you will.)

What we lost on the backs of babyboomer wholesale rejection is knowledge about how to grow food. How to clean a spot out of a sofa. How to take time to enjoy pushing a child on a swing - wait, yes, I know you DO it for 12.5 minutes and then "come on we have to get to lunch" kind of swing, I'm not talking about THAT kind of swinging, I'm talking about - as long as they wish to swing and laugh right along with their thrill of it. And numerous other things I can't even get to yet (and probably family being nearby, don't have that so try to put that out of mind). We can't remember what is in season or how to make bread. Or biscuits, for god's sake the easiest American-edible quick bread there is, biscuits!

We also lost dinner without TV, buying only what you need when you need it, knowing AND socializing with your neighbors and volunteering at your kids' school. This is not to say that the babyboomers didn't have a point (calm down bbs). My grandfather was cold and distant at times and my grandmother ineffectual in the family dynamic. I am grateful that therapy is not looked down upon any longer in most places. That we (mostly) have really stopped being so goddamned judgemental about people's 'lifestyles' (or genetic dispositions depending on your take on science), that we know more about the world because afterall we have only the one and somehow everything everyone does impacts us all. So kudos to bbs for all that (and more I am not remembering, remember, panties, calm down).

But maybe now that we are all fat and sick and paying too much to get well if that is even any longer possible, we might regret giving up a little bit about how to feed, nurture and spend time with our families. And maybe feel 6 hours a day spent on the internet/video games/managing the DVR might be a waste of some, if not all, of that time. I know I do. I hate it when my kids ask me "Is that in season?" and I don't know the answer. To put this in context, my grandfather was a lifelong farmer, born of a ranching/farming family and my uncle a gardener by trade... and I still don't know the answer to that question. It's not like I can hide behind we are 7th generation Detroit natives or something!

And maybe a combination of my mother's generation of exploring the human condition as though it's a valid pursuit alongside a little of requiring only one job to support a family, might have helped me when I get the question from my kids "Mama, why don't you play with us more?"

And I only work part-time... I'm just sayin'.

Final thought: Baby with the bath water. Kinda a key American philosophy.