Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Momisms

The fine art of aging brings all kinds of perks. Yes, you read that right. Toss aside the aches, fatigue, forgetfulness and incredible ability to gain weight and body fat, and life becomes enlightening.

Age also brings the undeniable reality that all of us will eventually check out of here. I have reached that tender age when many of my friends are experiencing their parents' passing. While attending a memorial for a friend's Mom, and remembering her life, the topic of Momisms came up.

 Momism:  A verbal comment made by a mother, often in a public setting. Usually it is offensive, but always it remains unfiltered and at an elevated volume, thus insuring optimal embarrassment for her child.

Young mothers do not usually participate in this practice. They are too busy managing the care of their many fledglings and unaware of life outside their immediate bubble. Young children will not understand their mothers colloquial comments and there are concerns about Mom's language influencing their budding vocabulary. But once a woman reaches the age where her children become teenagers, the demon is released.

I am fifteen years old and standing in a grocery store line with my mother.  "Look at that," she says out-loud, while pointing to a large man that looks like he just dismounted his Harley to pick up a six-pack. "His arms look dirty with all of that."  She is referring to his tattoos. Several people turn around and I am sure he has heard her and now we are both going to die.

I roll my eyes. "Mom!  Be quiet," I hiss. "Everyone can hear you!"
"Oh, stop it. They can't hear me," she replies and waves me off like a buzzing fly. Secretly I wonder if she has hurt the big man's feelings, and I slink out of the store, head down, to go wait by the car.

There were so many other Momisms:

Passing a man in a department store:  "Somebody needs a bath!"

Walking behind a large woman in Walmart who is sporting Spandex:  For God's sake, doesn't she own a mirror?"

Our all time fave which still makes me cringe emerged when she was about ninety. Mom was watching television with my husband and our adult children. I remained nearby, keeping an eye on the situation, always afraid she would forget herself, stand and fall. A rather explicit sex scene appeared on the television screen. She was quiet for a while and the kids, entirely paralyzed with fear, not knowing what was coming next, dared not flinch a muscle. Then, the Momism that will live forever came out of her sweet, wrinkled lips.  "For Christ's sake. He's going to smother down there."

Standing in the kitchen and watching from a distance I could not utter a word. My jaw dropped open. The kids started snickering while my husband laughed so hard I was worried he wouldn't catch his breath. I just couldn't handle it so I left the room under the guise that I had to wrap Christmas presents, but not before stopping by the bar for a glass of medicinal bourbon. Prior to this Momism I wasn't sure she even knew what this man was doing. But somehow Moms always know more than we think they do.

It is the holiday season again and Mom has been gone for nearly four years. It is particularly hard during this Christmas. My brother died this spring leaving my immediate family deceased. I miss her Cowboy Language, a term they coined in the group home where she lived the last six months of her life. I move forward as the matriarch of another generation, fully aware that my own Momsim are revealing themselves. Despite the humiliation I experienced as a teenager, it seems to be a genetic predisposition determined by the X chromosome.

I am shopping with my daughter for her wedding dress and observe a caucus of young women in sloppy shorts and T-shirts preparing to try on gowns. "What is wrong with people," I tell her. "That girl looks like she hasn't washed her hair in a week."  While pointing at the group I note I have also grown my mother's index finger.

"You sound like Nana," my daughter replies.
"Yeah, I do," I respond and smile.
And she rolls her eyes.

Holiday blessings to all the Moms in the world and their children that tolerate and love them.


Nana in her better days, with the Bride-To-Be

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Maggots On Monday



It is a beautiful Monday morning and a good time to attempt gardening before the day gets away from me. Armed with my shovel and hand trowel I march out to what we refer to as "The South Forty". Really it is the back of our one acre lot where the vine garden resides; a raised bed housing vine plants of tangled greenery that can spread freely in its own corner. I have barely worked up a good sweat when I hear my son's voice bellowing from his perch on the back porch. "Moooom?" he calls. My instincts tell me the garden will not be finished this morning. "Out here," I call and wave.  "What's up?"

"We have worms in the house."

My response to these kinds of statements rarely invokes any kind of panic. Yet this particular child does not exaggerate. Naturally I picture brown earth worms creeping all over my tile floor. No, scratch that. Not even remotely possible. "What color are they?" I yell back.

"White."

"Uh-oh," I mutter out loud. My Mom alarm goes off. The white worms have to be maggots. Yuck. Dirty, filth-carrying maggots. This is where the imagination takes over. What did I have lurking in my house that would produce maggots? Something somewhere was decomposing.  And what if I didn't find it and the maggots grew into flies and those flies made more maggots?  I picture the worse kind of infestation and a drawing from my childhood Bible that still haunts me today. You Christians know it well. All those plagues. All those flies. I dropped the shovel and race to rescue my home.

Three feet into the house I am confronted with my first intruder. Taking a closer look my suspicions are confirmed. From a distance my adult son watches. "They're maggots," I state with a coldness in my heart and my boot comes down on top of the creature. I apologize but must protect my tribe. No maggots in my house.

"What's a maggot?" he asks.  Really?  Have I sheltered him that much?
"A fly larvae," I respond, still following the trail. Bam! My shoe comes down again.
"From where?" he continues.

I stomp and another larvae meets his Maker. "Not sure," I reply, "but we have to find the source."  I continue through the kitchen toward the bedroom and locate several brave souls trying to escape. I am annoyed at how fast these tiny creatures can move. I suppose this is why they have survived through all other catastrophes, but despite his best efforts, he cannot escape my wrath and the death count continues to rise.

Confident that my mission is mostly completed I head back to the kitchen and pull open the trash can bin. A single house fly takes flight and saunters past me. She (I assume it is a she) is unusually slow.  I sense her life force is leaving and if I had given birth to all those worms I would also be near death. I do not judge.

Peering into the trash I note a few of her surviving maggots. Am I the only one in the house that throws the garbage? Apparently I am not on top of my job. They are quickly bagged with the trash and their home is removed from my home. I clean up the remaining body parts and my family is safe once again.

I have lost my enthusiasm for gardening and flop into the kitchen chair. But then I am overcome with sadness. I just destroyed her family! How silly, I think to myself, but then recognize that the reason there are maggots on Monday is that I was with my entire family on Saturday. One or more flies undoubtedly joined the party. Children and grandchildren running in and out the door; our lovable dogs begging to get in the house or out to the yard; ample plates of food prepared from my own garden, wine, laughter, community. My life is blessed and because I am such a sentimental old hippie/spiritualist, I thank the fly for reminding me of these gifts. Not to mention how grateful I am to be a human and not a bug.

Yes, the house fly has a purpose, and brings me great joy in my compost pile, but not in my kitchen. Yet, how awesome is it that even the smallest and lowest among us can share a life lesson?  Within a few brief moments I have experienced determination on my part; the struggle to survive, on the maggots' part, the miracle of how perfect this planet works and gratitude. What a great way to start the week.











Sunday, September 27, 2015

Love

For those of you looking forward to my promised blog, Maggots On Monday, I am sad to report that it has been temporarily postponed for something slightly more pertinent:  Love.

This week I watched a small, elderly man bring the U.S. Congress to its knees.  I knew I was witnessing history unfold and took this privilege seriously.  Powerful men and women, responsible for running my country sat with undivided attention, while Pope Francis turned the stones of every conceivable social injustice he could possibly dig up, exposing all the dirt underneath:  immigration, pollution, big business, child abuse, abortion, relationships, violence, and politics.

Critics have said he is a holy man using his spiritual power for political agendas.  I say, if you've got it, flaunt it.  Who else but a man of God would be qualified to lead the way to enlightened human behavior? He came to encourage all of us to recognize our collective conciousness as members of humanity, but act on the needs of individuals within our society and communities. As I sat there I was reminded of a religious event of my own.

I was raised a Roman Catholic and threatened with damnation, should I ever question my faith.  Despite this I left the church as a young adult, never to return to organized religion.  It just didn't work for me.  I resisted being told how to act and think and always wondered how my religion was superior to other religions. If God loved us all, why was I better? Still, I appeased my family and went to church for traditional celebrations. 

On what I thought would be an ordinary Wednesday morning, I joined my family for my father's memorial Mass.  Catholics will "say a Mass" for the deceased and today was Pop's turn.  As the Mass started, I watched with curiosity as a man collapsed in the front of the church and two other men dragged him back to the vestibule near the entrance.  My Aunt Jessie's elbow came flying out of the side of her body directly into my rib cage. "You gotta go help," she commanded.  I was four months out of nursing school.

"They got this," I replied, feeling slightly uncomfortable.  I also knew how people could get in the way with rescue efforts and I did not want to interfere.  Two seconds later, the elbow came out again. This time I listened to the elbow.

When I walked out to the vestibule I saw a dead man. Two men stood over him struggling to provide CPR. It was evident by their actions and my newly acquired nursing knowledge, what they were doing was not going to bring this man back.  From somewhere inside my timid soul I began barking out orders.  I stopped the men and we started over in a rhythmic effort.  I watched the motions of the chest compressions, and the rescue breaths expanding the man's chest.  His lips were blue and his face grey. I held his hand and then, miraculously, I could feel a pulse in his wrist with each compression.  Oxygen from the rescue breaths began to flow through his body changing his face to a warm pink. We stepped back as the paramedics took over and with two shocks he was alive again.

By now Mass had concluded.  The almost-widow sat on a folding chair nearby while parishioners attended to her needs.  Finally the priest walked out, indifferent to the man being carried away on a gurney.  I turned to him a little angry but mostly confused. "Why didn't you stop the Mass and call for assistance?" I asked.

His reply was simple, as if I should have known the answer.  "Once the Mass is started, we can't stop."

"What are you talking about?" I continued.  "A man's life is less important than Mass?" And since I was on a roll I blurted out, "And where is your emergency equipment?  Other churches have oxygen and first aide kits for situations like this. Why don't we?"

His answer: "We've never done that." 

On that day I left the Catholic religion forever.  Any religious ritual that was more important than a man's life was not the religion for me. And let's face it, I had been headed in that direction for as long as I could remember so my heathen attitude was bound to catch up with me.

But more importantly, on that same day I witnessed two men making a difference. They cared about one individual while they turned away from what was acceptable religious behavior. In the process they changed a human life. Perhaps that's why I was so taken by Pope Francis and his message, remembering what can happen when we walk outside our comfort zone and find our own truth.  Any act of charity is a form of love, whether it is directed to an individual or the entire planet. 

My favorite parable is about the boy and the starfish.  A boy is walking the beach when he sees it is covered with starfish, sure to die as the tide runs out to the sea.  He stops and picks up one at a time returning them to the water.  An old man walks by and begins to mock the boy's efforts, telling him he can't possibly save all those starfish. Without looking up from his mission, the boy throws another starfish into the water and replies, "Saved that one."





Wednesday, August 19, 2015

The End Of The World

It' s the end of the world.  Again.  This time The End is scheduled to occur between September 23 and September 28, 2015. As this is my first post, it could very well be my last so I'd better make it a good one!
                          

Pardon my cynicism.  I get very confused trying to keep up with all the catastrophes in the world:  Those that could happen, those that are about to happen, and those that have happened.  And how can we drag out the suffering as long as possible?  I blame the media, so much, that recently a group of friends and I have decided  to stop watching the news and reading the local newspaper.

This came about when we noticed that all major television stations, newspapers and electronic communication venues that discovered "breaking news", told nearly the identical story.  There was no other side to the story, just the one side that they wanted the U.S. and the world to hear that day.  So those of us that still have a mind left started thinking, hmmm, mind control.  No thank you.  And let's face it, breaking news is often ugly news, so who needs more negative energy in their life?

Although precious little has been said about this End Of The World, there has been selected information released through the Internet.  I am pleasantly surprised there is some agreement on the matter as the political, secular, and spiritual communities are all stoked up about a change coming to planet Earth.




On September 23rd, the Pope will meet with President Obama, the blending of God and politics to discuss their shared values.  That definition leaves a wide margin for discussion.  Is it shared values that relate to these two men and world power or the shared values of mankind?  How will they determine what is really valuable to the world population?  Will it relate to survival of humanity? Survival of the planet? Human kindness? Human cruelty?  I want to know what secrets are really hidden within the walls of the White House and the Vatican and the minds of our great leaders.  C'mon boys, share a little.  We're part of the puzzle.

C.E.R.N.(the European Center for Nuclear Research) is also scheduled to play around with a little atom splitting close to that time and possibly open up a portal to release or send God-knows-what into the Universe.  And truly, I mean only God may know as it is the God Particle they seek.  If you are unfamiliar with C.E.R.N., you should change that status immediately.  The work they do is both amazing and frightening, and no human should be unaware of what their goals are and what they can do to the planet, aka Home Sweet Home. Additional fear surrounding their work is the possibility they could trigger multiple natural disasters if the Universe gets pissed off and doesn't want to play nice.  There goes a percentage of human life who had previously been minding their own business trying to exist in harmony and love.

The Spiritualists are convinced that this will be a time of changing consciousness, a shift from instinctive survival thinking to intuitive energetic thinking, when we can reclaim our genuine gifts and stop competing, hating, and being greedy.  That would be a nice change.  But knowing human behavior, I can't help but visualize another scenario if there are major world disasters: food shortages, unclean water, limited or no electricity, violence and hardship.  I guess all of that makes me a weak Spiritualist or just someone that is judgmental.

Alas, what to do about the end of the world?  Having never had the security of trusting my government to take care of me, I have always taken on the responsibility of taking care of my own.  This is not a bad thing.  It teaches a family independence and confidence, something all Americans should come by genetically.  After all, didn't all our ancestors hop on a boat and head out for a country where they couldn't speak the language, didn't know the customs, and were lucky to have a coin in their pocket? That took a lot of guts. So yeah, I am prepared to take care of my tribe.



I will choose to live in a place of love, not fear, and continue to surround myself with positive people, even if I may be a bit of a Jack Spiritualist.  If C.E.R.N. does open up some black hole and I get sucked into it, I will try not to wet myself, relax, and enjoy the journey. From my perspective- and Albert Einstein's- energy transforms, it doesn't die, so I may be in for a wonderful experience, sans my body, of course.

And here's hoping that our world leaders will refrain from robbing us blind, not be selfish and will know what to do, just in case we don't.  Mother Nature will forgive us our sins and not implode on us; and no matter what happens during that week, we learn something worthwhile and apply that knowledge in a positive way. I love my planet. Out of destruction comes creation.