Go Easy…


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Sometimes thinking about the past is appropriate, especially when you get news about someone that meant something to you, even if you haven’t spent much time with them in recent years.

Families are such slippery things–they are fragile and sometimes easily shattered. They also are defined by many different things, not just by blood. And often the ones that aren’t put together by blood can mean more. We define them ourselves.

When the some things that created them, like a marriage, dissolve, then they seem to disappear too–at least in the physical sense. But we may realize, especially at critical moments, they still linger within deeper parts of us; that these people who were once family are still dear.

So when I heard my ex-father-in-law is now in hospice, I found myself extremely sad. He was someone who had been very good to me while I was married. It’s been easy to recall so many memories of the kind things about him: his easy acceptance of our decision to adopt a HIV positive child, and his special love for her. And his overly enthusiastic attitude (and long conversations and questions) about my career as an EMT/Paramedic, something I didn’t always feel at home from his son. He loved the stuff!

I picture him as the typical unassuming New England man, quiet but always willing to help; that crooked smile, bald head and slight limp. He was my go to guy, always aware of what was happening with the weather, and loving to talk about it.

Maybe he’s not officially ‘family’ anymore, but in my heart he will always hold a very special place as he made me feel welcome and a part. I felt like family because of him.

Thank you, and may the rest of your days be easy…

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Poem/Song: Moonbeam Bed


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Lie lie my darling

across the moon beam bed

while you toss among the nightmares

and the monsters in your head

 

In daylight hours the dreams

are hidden far away

We walk together tangled

the light will show the way

 

Lie lie my darling

across the moon beam bed

while you toss among the nightmares

and the monsters in your head

 

But as the dark veil grabs you

and fear pulls you down

I feel I cannot reach you

while you’re lost to midnight sounds

 

So lie lie my darling

across the moon beam bed

And fight your tortured dream world

kill the monsters in your head

 

Yes lie lie my darling

across the moon beam bed

For I will always be here

Singing away the dread

 

For I will always be here

Singing away the dread

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Poem: The Give Away 


Do you search 

in the still of the night 

when memories moth-drawn 

cling to fire lit sparks

Do you lay

quietly wondering 

in faces that pass

from mirrored creations 

What has become 

of the give away gift 

turned over to fate

gone from grieving decisions 

Is she there

feeling my midnight ache

dark slice alone 

when you could have been mine

Unintended Consequence


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The law of unintended consequences….

I heard this term used today and it was new to me. It intrigued me. In looking it up, I found that the context that it is often in reference to the human effect on the environment (usually negative). But I wondered about it within my own life. Surely this law has played a role somewhere….

In thinking about it, initially I believed it was my haphazard approach to living that would bring unintended consequences to my life. So many of my previous decisions seemed terribly unplanned; my huge degree of boredom would motivate me into life altering steps with utter abandon. So then, of course, there would always be unintended consequences to these choices. Ones that propelled me forward down a path that allowed no turning back.

Sometimes, others choices set me down these unintended paths–the consequences to be paid then were hefty and to be dragged with me forever. But they defined me too and made me the person I am. Good? Bad? At moments, either/both… The weight of these, had they been changed, could have reset the entire course of my journey. Had they understood the consequences completely, where would I be now? Different consequences I suppose.

But really, even with a direct approach to life, I still face things unintended. Don’t we all? Think about it: what may be the unintended consequence of each action we take? It’s all ripple effect. It can be huge. Or maybe just something simple. The point is that nothing we do is without meaning. We bounce off of something else.

Maybe I am simplifying this concept.

But really, when it comes down to it: many things we do come with great responsibilities.

So now that this is in my head, I will try to be more aware of its presence: in my life and in the greater world. By its very meaning, I won’t be able to change anything I guess, as the outcome will be unintended. But maybe, if on the front end I think more carefully, the consequences can be good.

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Distant Shores


When I was a child, there was an ice-cream that I used to get from the truck that would come to the park near where I lived in NYC. It was the Good Humor truck, for those of you who might remember the familiar jingling of bells as it rolled slowly down the streets so the gathering children could get their 25 cents ready. This particular favorite of mine, was called an Eclair I think, because on the outside it had bits and pieces of nuts and maybe little pieces of chocolate; vanilla ice cream was the next layer which made up the largest part of the pop; but best and most special (and the best part) was the secret hunk of icy fudge-like chocolate inside. It wasn’t very big piece, but it was delicious (or so I recall) and had this particular texture that made it worth the wait.

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I was never a kid to just bite into the thing just to get to the middle. I would savor the whole thing to make it last and then take my time with the special part. Funny, because I never had much patience in life–but with treasures, I did. Just like how I never tore into Christmas gifts, but would open them throughout the day…(my kids hated this about me).

Someone who has known me for a long time, when I explained where I am  emotionally now and how I am conducting my day-to-day existence, said: that is not you at all! It gave me pause. What is me? Who am I really?

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I’ve run most my 60 years in a frenetic and unfocused way; making decisions based on how my mood was or the wind was blowing. It felt like I was making rational choices at the time, but in retrospect, I see now it wasn’t the case at all. Rather I was a sailboat buffeted by the winds trying desperately to steer to the nearest coast. Each shore looked better than the last, but upon reaching them they felt uninhabitable.

Of course this meant those around me were riding those waves too and often were cast overboard. Many drowned, but some found their own lifeboats and floated on to better beaches…thank goodness.

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It was nothing intentional. It just happened– it was the way I lived.But there was a part of me that knew it wasn’t working. Seeing the floundering of others hurt me, and my own inability to stand upright on this ever swelling craft was making me ill. At some point the ship must dock–in the deep recesses of my mind I knew this as truth.

So who is really me? I moved away from my comfort and have come to live in a place that is alien and barren to me, a desert devoid of water in which to sail. This was really unconscious on many levels, but I am starting to realize absolutely necessary to answer the question. Many spiritual treks to find ones true self include a time where one goes off on a quest: a solitary walk about or vision quest to discover what is real and what isn’t; what to keep and what to leave behind.

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We go through life rather like that Good Humor ice cream pop: multi-layered  with secret parts. Sometimes the secret parts are hidden to even to ourselves. There are bits and pieces we cover ourselves with that have rough edges or appeal, but it’s only the outside, a glamour…the part that faces the world at large. Dig deeper and maybe you will get to the soft part: it is white and can be colored by what we take in through the years we live. It protects the true gift: the sweet, central, secret core. This is the one we work for and may not know for years.

I’m stripping down the layers to find that me. I believe that is the real one, not the one that has faced the world so far. That was a mask I was unaware I wore. I believe my friend had it backward…what she knew was not me; what I am discovering now will be the real person I have had buried within. The visions of her were in my head longing to escape, but were trapped by my own shifting cage.

Someday she will be set free and sail for a place, heading into the sunrise.  Docking at some distant land, she will know with full awareness and clarity, that all will be good.

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The Next Hurdle 


Today my Mom and I shed a few tears together. They were sentimental ones as she lay in her hospital bed preparing for tomorrow’s procedure on her heart. It’s been a rough few days for both of us, but her mostly. 

But during these times of hardship come moments of great clarity too I believe. That is the balance. You begin to see things you have never noticed, or remember things forgotten. 

For me, I realized that after all the years of my Mom telling me that I’m too nice to people and so trusting–after every neighbor, nurse, friend, family member or person who has remotely had contact with her tells me how nice she is and they love her so much–that maybe I get this from her.

And she told me that the day she met me at the Doctor’s office before adopting me, was the best day of her life. 

So with glistening eyes, we both know what a gift it is that we are close now. And that the 40 years we lived far apart have vanished into thin air.

Because she is my Mother, and I love her no matter what and together we will get through this next hurdle.

Invisible


While I don’t like to admit it, I’ve noticed as I’ve gotten older (and have embraced my gray hair) I’ve become invisible. In my younger life, I was never, ever an invisible person. Even when I felt then (unbeknownst to my then introverted self) that the crowds were getting a bit too much for me. Somehow I still stood out shall we say. My personality was somehow bigger than my small frame… even when I didn’t want it to be.

It was my big mouth I suppose: always standing up when I felt injustice was happening, or whispering an irreverence at inopportune moments. Or when I felt someone (preferably someone of authority) said something I felt stupid and needed to be put straight. Yep, I never held back, and usually got in trouble, bringing attention to myself and therefore was definitely not invisible.
Plus I was never, ever a follower. And in fact, usually a leader. Starting a trend maybe, like the first one to wear hot pants in my high school. To me, they were just cool. Or to bring cloth bags to the grocery store 40 years ago when everyone thought I was nuts. Or becoming a vegetarian about the same time because it simply made sense. And being the ‘class clown’ and ‘most inclined to argue’ also put me in the class of calling attention to myself–just like George Carlin so aptly said…Hey, look at me!

Did I need attention? I don’t know? I just know that I was an only child and loved school and my friends and loved to get into it with anyone who would participate in good debate or humor. Or I did some things simply because they made good sense to me and I believed they were right. It never occurred to me that not everyone felt the same way. In fact, it might be better if they didn’t.
So now that I’m 60, and suddenly a senior citizen–it seems so odd to say that because I still feel like a kid–and part of the class of people who most ignore. It feels crazy. Me, the person that most folks used to gather around and laugh with, or got yelled at, or who got sent to the principal’s office because I was so disruptive. Now I can’t even mange to worm my way into a conversation because it’s assumed I have nothing of value to say. It’s utterly amazing to me.

At least this is what I find among the folks where I work. It’s a mixed crowd of both young and middle aged…not too many my age. I’m in the hub where people come and go and I could just be a chair really. When they bring new people around, most times I don’t even get introduced. I find it rude really. The new gal that does my job in the evening is 27, pretty and has far more attention from folks (men and women mind you) fluttering around her in a couple of months than I do in nearly a year there.

Is it because our society doesn’t value age and wisdom? Certainly I have become less in need of the attention I once did. I’m more subdued and quiet and more observant. Maybe I don’t draw the attention any longer.

It’s quite interesting to watch the squabbles, the dances and cruelties. I’m proud to have joined the ranks of the wise ones actually. There’s humor sitting back while seeing those that make fools of themselves as I once did or listen to tales of woe and know how unimportant these things really are in the grand scheme of life.

I only hope I’ve taught my own daughters to treat their elders better than I am treated at work. And I hope I never acted in this way. We can certainly choose moments to be invisible, but no-one should make  someone feel that way. We all have the same rights to be equally colorful, vibrant and brilliantly seen.

Who Am I?


This is the unending question of an adoptee. We go through life trying to figure out where we belong, who we look like, how do we fit in and who we are… It does not matter if we come from loving homes (as I did) or if we ended up in less than perfect ones. Most of us have this hole that just can’t be filled by the families that picked us.

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It’s no-one’s fault. It’s just this genetic thing I feel that most of us yearn for deep down, adopted or no–to want to know who ‘our people’ are and what ancestral pool we crawled out of that made that person staring back us look the way we do.

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Well, because of that longing that I’ve had just about as long as I can recall, I took the plunge, and sent in some saliva to a company a couple of months ago and got some DNA testing done. It’s a simple, but accurate test from what they say. I’ve had friends do it and while it cost a little, for me, it was worth every penny.

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I’ve waited patiently for the results to come back and while some of them corroborated what my adopted Mom said to some degree, some of them surprised me. Here is what I found out:

Europe: 79%

  • Italy/Greece: 61%
  • European Jewish: 8%
  • Iberian Peninsula: 7%
  • Trace Regions: (Europe East 3% and Great Britain <1%)

West Asia: 21%

  • Caucasus (Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Iran, Iraq, Syria, Turkey) 14% Note: also places like Bulgaria, Jordan, Greece, Italy, Kuwait, Palestine, Romania, Turkmenistan
  • Trace regions: 7% Middle East ( Syria, Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Oman, Yemen, United Arab Emirates (UAE), Lebanon, Israel, Pakistan and Iran)

My adopted Mom had told me about my Italian heritage long ago and more recently that there might have been some Jewish background (although I still think of this more as a religion personally), so now it is all confirmed! It is very exciting to have some concrete information. She thought it was very interesting too.

But all the other cultural information was amazing. It kind of puts so many deep seeded things about me together now. Because as I’ve gotten older, and actually raised an adopted child, I have begun to believe that nature has much to do with how we turn out vs. nurture. We can’t get away from our genes, no matter how much we may think so. What is tied to our DNA is real, ALL of us. That is why we as a species have survived and do what we do all the time.

So then too, it is why we as individuals act a certain way, crave things, miss things, need things, want for things, feel certain ways, act a certain way, are shy or bold, crave a big family or like small family gatherings. I have always wanted to be a part of a huge family and now I wonder if it is my Italian/Greek/Mediterranean background??

It also seems to hurt me on some soul level when refugees from these areas are suffering; it’s like I’m suffering–maybe I am on some genetic level.This is the beauty of humanity and the binding of our molecules and atoms. We are all one when it comes right down to it.

Maybe this is the start of a journey to a distant place, a land and history that belong to me. A part of me that has not really forgotten. Because within my DNA my ancestors are carried: the memories of their lives, their footsteps, their journeys across land and oceans. Journeys that eventually brought two people here in the US together,  combining their DNA creating me.

And now I carry DNA and I gave it to my daughters who carry it on filled with all the ancestors from the ages. May we do them all honor.