Puppy Furr-stration

I said I would never get a dog again. And then I did. I had a lab and said I would never get a lab again. Mine could never be replaced. So I got a lab mix, a labradoodle. Charley, I said was the worst dog ever. Then came Tessie. I was wrong about Charley. And so the story goes.

I see many blogs in my future about Tess, the mess. She is a girl or I would rename her the Tramp from Lady and the Tramp because not only is her color close to his but her hair looks similar, messy  and, if she had a voice, that smart ass personality would be present also.   Heck, I swear she even rolls her eyes at me when she gets exasperated  like when my kids were teens and I was giving the safe sex talk and told them the best way to avoid it is just don’t do it! Maybe Tessie senses I think she is a hussy and we are having a female power struggle in our house.

And speaking of power struggle, I thought the humans were supposed to be in control? I just told her today, I miss Charley. That is my lovely lab that was so devoted to me. You know her response, yea I bet you do. The dog that seldom barks barked at me as if to say, “Tough beans, you are stuck with me, suck it up!”  Instead of being my girl, it is like that song Jessie’s girl and I am Tessie’s girl! She thinks she is the master over me.  Is it too late, at 7 months, to take her back? I looked at her today and found two can play that game then and I barked back at her and she ran for cover!

Speaking of cover, my escape route is the shower, peace!  We have one of those wonderful large walk in showers with a super cool shower head with it that puts out a mist like you are standing in the rain.  Apparently the only time Tess likes the rain is inside, in that damn shower.  And I like my showers alone, at least not with the smell of a wet dog if you get my drift. 

Today, as I am preparing for my shower, I neglected to close the shower doors completely, leaving one up a smidgeon.  As I walk back into the bathroom, standing in where I should have been in just a few moments is Tessie, breathing in the nice warm steam.  I stand outside the door realizing she had, once again, taken her head and bumped the door open and now had her face was upwards soaking up the mist like she was Queen of the House. Daddy was gone and so Tessie’s girl could simply wait till she was done.

Oh hell no is what I said audibly!  And with that, she hustled to the back of the shower out of reach. So we played that game for a few moments until she made
a mad dash out of the shower before I could catch her. By now, being full soaked smelling like a wet dog, she made a b-line for my bed. Then, to compound my frustration, she quickly rolled on the bedspread to dry off before I could grab a towel. Oh, to have Charley back and have a puppy that cared about being in the good graces of mommy!

For some reason, the bathroom is a pitfall for Tessie. The garbage man comes two times a week but in our bathroom it is cleaned out daily.  Our darn trash can is motion activated and Tess has learned how to use her snout to pop the lid, bury her head down deep and seize the contents and tear out of there with them firmly in her grip.  This pup loves eating tissue and paper! I am seriously thinking about writing the manufacturer Ninestars and suggest they put on their label Motion Activated by Hand or Dog Snout.

We always have one particular paper in our house, our community newsletter. Perhaps partially because I write at least one article in it a month, I have to read it. Yes, there is some vanity there.  This month Tessie heard me read it aloud and hated the piece. She ripped it to shreds; get this, not the entire newsletter, just the page my article appeared on.  I am calling her now tear-er instead of terror! 

She has been trained. But I apparently haven’t been. We are both taking refreshers later this month. In the meantime I thought the Dog Whisper might
be a good thing to watch till our lessons. Anyways, Tessie loves watching television in the bedroom at night from the bed where she can see it well. So I taped several episodes. These shows, it is pretty easy to tell it is a dog show by the noises of the dogs on the show.  However, it seems to be the only show Tess is not in the least interested in. I think, honestly, it is because she realizes the dogs are not the master. She is much smarter than the Dog Whisperer. He really needs to come to her house. Note, I said her house, not mine!

About the time I think the breeder needs to take her back and someone offers to take her because they think she is so darn cute, she hops on my lap trying to make up to me.  There is something in me that suckers up to her when she lays her head on my chest and plants those little kisses on me.  I do love how when we play hide and seek, she can always find me and just seems so overjoyed at the sight of me and makes me feel so loved and appreciated. And then her tail wags and I know the bond we have has continued to grow. And I can’t help myself and realize the puppy I brought home is staying here till the day she grows her wings.

But I won’t stop poking fun at her till the day she stops doing it to me!


Life as a Floridian

Life in Florida is a constant learning experience for a Northern girl.  When I moved here, all I saw was beaches in my future, margaritas, Jimmy Buffet songs in my head and ports with cruise ships with red carpets waiting to sail me away to islands I had dreamed of visiting.  Okay, some of it is true, some of the time, and oh, I am not blonde, young or a dreamer just optimistically delusional!

Why wasn’t I told that the afternoon rains you experience vacationing here are nothing compared to the rainfalls living as a resident year round? Why did some friends who have lived in Florida a lot longer than us, Lynn and Bill, suggest we go kayaking with them?  Yep, their idea was to take boats up to some river they frequent. I wanted to say “Hell why take them up to some damn river. We could rent them and just take them down the street. We'll just set ours in the middle of the road and mill around the neighborhood on a kayak and wave hello to the neighbors?” 

Are there beaches in Florida? The last time I went was in March when some friends from up north came down for vacation, their annual vacation! Luckily I had pre-booked a condo where they stayed so I got two days right down by the water too. It is June and haven't been since. The weather hasn't been ideal or I have been busy or any number of reasons but no beachy time. That's supposedly why I am down here!  Rip-off, I want a refund! I wish Cathy and Pam would come back so I could get some more beach time. I am about ready to pay their way!

You know it is damn humid when you take your energetic puppy outside and the only place she will lay is directly under your SUV. I'm not talking just under the bumper but dead under the center of the car, where you can not possibly reach her. This is the spot where you spent 5 minutes begging her to come out from under the vehicle so you can pull the car out and go get some ice cream. How can anyone live in this heat without eating it regularly? I don't intend to find out. Poor little puppy is so afraid of coming out because she doesn't want to risk her paws hitting the ground outside. Those pads will fry quicker than an egg, sizzling like a piece of bacon.  In fact, anyone leashing a dog outside in Florida should be shot.   

I thought I was over hot flashes. Then I moved to Florida and found no one lives here without hot flashes, even the men. This is most definitely true in the summer. By the way, snowbirds, if you have heard the term, are people that live in Florida half of the year. In summer months, they get the hell out of dodge, dodge being their home and hell being Florida!  (Funny huh because Northeners like me flocked down here to get all sweaty on the beach and complain of heat exhaustion in the evening! LOL!) 

So get ready for sweating like never before living here. Hot flashes magnified. I can't help and laugh at those with long hair keeping it down. I know what their neckline looks like underneath, blah!  Either decide to like the not wearing make-up look or prefer the look of rivets of color rolling down your cheeks, chin and neck. Not pretty ladies, the latter,  a much better look is make-up less, as so many find out in time. I call it the Naked Face. It sounds more risque than the au natural and live on the wild side, life is too short.

The ports of calls are nearby for the cruise lines and we have been on a few but the costs are an inhibiting factor. It is easy, from afar, to think it is a tremendous opportunity. Reality is cruises cost money. There are fruit trees down here but no money trees.  I find we don't go on any more than we did when we lived up north except it doesn't entail an overnight stay. Maybe one year I will get brave and be a stowaway or audition for entertainment. Yeah, that'd be good. Now I just have to develop a talent besides banging pans together.     

One of the coolest things about Florida culture is the amount of community outreach work that is done by everyone. When someone comes up with a cause, folks come out of the woodwork to help, time and time again. There are seldom excuses like, “I help with heart disease or St. Jude’s” they just do what they can.  With an attitude of caring about the betterment of society and the world, they are on to something big here. Why can’t the rest of the world carry this spirit? The energy spent whining could be used for creative fixing. 

Floridians like to have fun, they love parties, drinking and excuses to get-together just to be together. Northerners crave alone time.  It is a totally different mindset and hard to get use to when you move here.   Once you understand the logic behind it, the meaning that they feel the joy of life is being together, laughter and experiencing moments in time before we go,  it is hard not to have it rub off on you. Mind you, I still need my down time. I can't do the together-time as much as the true Floridians or the people that have lived here for years but I am working on it. 

Florida is truly a blending of the old with the new. With so many retirees living here and many young people loving to live in the South, it is a culture with change and loaded with tradition much of that from its older population.  You have your story tellers with a deep rich past and young families and youth still forming their stories. What a beautiful thing to be anywhere down here and see the influx and recognize, yes, differences do not mean that folks cannot get along.  At the end of the day, no matter the religion, age, color or political preferences, when the goal is the same, to get along, grow and enjoy the life you are living we can coexist well together in America.  It is really not rocket science.  

It has been fascinating to discover the different characteristics of the beaches here. Each one seems to be unique and yet have some similarities, which is pretty obvious especially on the Gulf Coast verses the Atlantic side. Everyone has their favorite beaches, their favorite amusement parks and hang outs.  It is very much like people, we have our differences,some seem glaring and yet, are they really all that different in the end?  Can't we just enjoy them as we do the beaches and find humor in us all? Floridians are alot like that, they find delight in all the beaches and in all types of folks, no matter how different they are from themselves. 

Florida is not exactly what I envisioned. But it is special, different than other places in the south I have lived.  It has a richness of culture, a playground by the ocean, yes but also a heart that is due to all the Floridians that live here. And I now am a contributing member  and damn proud of it!  When you come down here, be sure to not only soak up the sun but check out how happy the folks are that live here. Take that attitude they have, we have 😀 and take it back with you where you came from. Just maybe we can start a wave of enjoying life abit more in our country. If life's not fun, why live it?


Aging With Grace At Any Age

The phone rang. We finally connected. Forty years old, my firstborn child, it was here, his birthday. Leading up to the day seemed no big deal to me and to him,
it seemed monumental. I think a big milestone to me too when I was approaching forty, so long ago I can’t remember.  As we spoke I listened as much to what he said as to what he didn’t say. In the silence, I heard a man I had raised from a once shy insecure little boy into a wonderful father, husband and still loving son wonder where did a lifetime go and how much more time was ticking. I realized we were somewhat in the same place.

Coming face to face with a son who was no longer in his twenties or thirties, the reality of myself aging  hit me too.  Him questioning his aging process made me look hard at mine. Age is that one thing that creeps up on you whether things are going good or bad and you can’t stop it from happening whether you are climbing up or down a hill. You don’t get any do-overs or added time to be a certain age again. You just have to push ahead and make the most of today.

I listened to my son more than I talked. It was one of those times, as a parent, you really aren’t too sure what to say.  Being a parent never came with instructions, you learned it a long time ago, and it is still true even when you have adult children. No one wants to feel as if they let their kids down. I already knew how that felt having one who never felt I measured up. This is my only child.

As my son continued speaking, I knew his words I would hold near in my heart, and also not repeat. Part of being a mom, at any age, is having the loving bond to know that things children share things that are only shared with us.  We are unconditionally loved when the bond is right and the sharing is a blessed gift. The gift works both ways. It is not judgmental, not used against one another or taken out of context.  We know that we each grow a little bit with that knowledge, with that level of caring and sharing as much as they do. And I have, with each step of my son’s life, with every new twist and turn.

When I spoke,  it was the line I have said so many times before to him and to myself,  he is starting another chapter, one more beautiful than the last.  And I realized, as I said it, so is mine, partially because I have a critical birthday coming up very soon and partially because of his milestone birthday.  God intended it to be that way, his master plan unfolds for those that follow His way and I know my son is and is getting watched over by God’s angels.

As my son has his time stamp of forty years, he has his badges of life’s lessons. I know his and he knows mine.   I know the effect its had on me, his forty years. I also my son will have more battles to fight but none will be bigger than the ones he has already fought and won. He will have hurdles to overcome but he has proven he can withstand the pain of defeat if he must. I have seen and he has learned his love can endure being tested and that he has a conviction that will persevere.   

Through my long lifeline I too have learned to be a survivor.  Fighting through obstacles builds character. Taking the easy way out never builds you up as a person or in God’s eyes.  In many ways, my son has taken after me. Too often in my life, people have confused my daughter to be like me not realizing it is actually, as my kids’ father said, my son that is a male version of me.  Being judgemental, hateful and full of anger is not part of our chemical make-up. Over the years, neither of us have hardened though both of our lives has had its share of hardships.   Maybe that is why the bond has always been there, even though, it is not with the conviction it was when he was young. Age does change things. Perhaps it has to.

With a key birthday fast approving, my son’s birthday reminded me to also reflect on my life, where I have been and where I am going with the time I have
left. I am grateful my relationships are much more built on calm, peace and love.  Acceptance is critical too.  Finding your inner circle is people who live in reality, understand who you are and themselves and love you and themselves for it and just enjoy life is the surest way to a happy life! Be with people who feed your soul, build you up and not bring you down, emit positive energy to carry through many more years!  With the wrong people, you can easily fall down that hole like Alice in Wonderland and become something that is full of fantasy. It is so freeing to just be real and be with people that allow you to be.

I have come a long way in my life like many of you probably have. I have walked a rocky road. I’ve had no hand-outs, free tickets. I say to myself in the mirror I am a survivor. If you have no self-love you have none to give.  I care about me and I can care about you, folks that read my blog, give me positive feedback and those that tell me your stories that are equally or more touching than mine. Strangers have importance, those in need matter too, the vulnerable.  As I have gotten old, I have become more caring, not less.  Without living and caring, we can’t and don’t want to be story-tellers.

One of my favorite things to do is to tell my son’s children stories about my son growing up. It is my son’s legacy, the story of his life and it must be passed down, much as my story needs and must be passed down to my son, to my grandchildren and to my friends. I am leaving it behind, in safe keeping, to someone I bequeath in my Will. I pray my son will find the time in the next 30-40 years to do the same for his kids for the world. His life and his story has and will make a difference. Time goes quickly as he has found out in forty years time.

I realize I must be getting old. I have a son who is now forty. I do have so many memories of him, so many chapters of his life and far too many of mine.  So do too many memories to count make you old? AI told him that so many of his chapters are unwritten still of his book of lifethat will be so full of wonderful moments and songs yet to be sung.  It is like a symphony that awaits to be written!

I am willing to take mine day by day as I see far too many friends passing.  I want to savor flavors daily.  I want to live a long time, but not too long. I want to experience a lot but not too much where I am uncomfortable and scared.  I want to travel but not so much I am forgotten by my grandkids. I want to win the lotto but I don’t want hounded by the media. Isn’t it funny how makes us think differently?  We start realizing all the things we wished for when we were younger are really not all that important afterall and we wasted time wanting them.  Life really is a paradox and we actually see things clearer and are not disoriented because we are aged.   Good thing I didn’t tell my son that! Let him think I am losing my mind, shhhhhh…..

When my son turned forty:

It quickly passed by
In the blink of an eye
I had to cry
And then with a sigh
I looked to God with an Oh My
Praying "My Boy seems forever gone
But eternal is our bond
Please watch over him as he ages
With the hurdles he wages
As he slowly turns the pages
For I know my life is winding down
For I make a lot less sound
As I am aging with grace,
Trying to leave less of a trace.
Of an overbearing mom
Always being calm
So when I am here no more
And at heaven’s door,
My son’s heart will pound
As he’ll know his mom is always looking down.

In You God my faith rests,
No longer do I put it to the test."

Video of memories of my son and my life, mine being obviously 
more than 40 years! 😀 Click Here


Grandma Charge

One of the best parts about being a little girl was my grandma, Grandma Gliatti. She was my dad’s mother and was everything a grandma should be! I have to say that all of her grandchildren universally felt exactly the same as me, Grandma G was the bomb! My goal was to one day be that kind of grandma to a little girl if I ever had a granddaughter because she made such a wonderful impression on my life!

When I was a kid, once a month off we would go to Grandma’s house for a weekend. These times were some of the best times of my childhood. Where some kids hated the trips to their grandparents finding them boring, mine were sheer delightful. Grandma Gliatti laughed, cried when you told her a sad story of someone hurting your feelings and gave you undivided attention.  It never mattered to us what she had for us, toys were not a concern at her house, just spending time with her.

Grandma was a cook who spent a lot of time in the kitchen. When she cooked, it was never an issue for us to be in there with her. And sampling her Italian cooking was allowed, in fact, encouraged!  Being a great cook, wow, was that awesome! In that kitchen, I heard stories about her life, Grandpa’s and my dad’s growing up years.  I so loved her story-telling.

When she died, it felt like a little piece of my childhood died within me because she was the sunshine of my childhood, my favorite person in the world. And then, before too long, my son and daughter in law had a daughter!  I found myself in the grandma role!

By this time, I had switched back to my maiden name so I, in fact, was a Grandma Gliatti too, as my grandmother, Josephine Gliatti. History repeated itself sort-of.  And I was overjoyed from the minute I saw her, Ava Glasmeier, and held her. She was a button of joy and smiles!

When I looked at Ava, as she was growing, I felt inside the love my grandma had for me. I put the same passion in being a grandmother in my relationship with my granddaughter so she would feel the same unconditional love. When she came over, I gave her the undivided attention I got from my grandma. I really don’t think a grandma can spoil their grandkids!

When Ava was younger, we baked cookies, cakes, brownies, oh anything we could think of. She learned how to clean because she loved to role play. We did all kinds of things like my Grandma Gliatti did with me. I even talked to her a few times about my grandma so she would know I had a role model to follow, I was not winging it in the grandma role.

The bond between us started very young and still is so strong. We laugh at each other
often and cuddle even at her age now, ten years old.  Her parents foster this special relationship and without their support, our relationship would not exist. For this, I am grateful and I know my Grandma Gliatti is happy and proud. Yes, I feel blessed to have had my Grandma and doubly blessed to have my Ava! 


Porch Time

It seems like yesterday, poof!  I was out on the street playing kickball with my friends. We would finish and run up the front step porch of someone’s house and be handed
Popsicles and feel like the luckiest kids in the world. We would see parents up and down the street peeking out windows while they were busy doing whatever adults do, making sure we were staying out of trouble. Then there were the older ones, aged, who would sit on the porch smiling with not a care in the world either, watching us. Back in those days, trouble was not playing breaking rules in kick ball, fighting over whether a ball was out or if a kid got hurt.  Life was easy as we played out there in the street. We had a whole lifetime ahead of us. In those days, we didn’t even think about it. Nothing seemed impossible.

I remember sitting on the roof top, in a few years later, as my dad fixed the antennae on weekend mornings.  In those days, there was no cable, no digital internet, just a big old tower hooked to our house.  The easiest way to the roof was through my bedroom window so I often went out there with him. What a view of the street from up there. I would sit on the shingles and get a bird’s eye view of the street while he worked away.

 I remember the day I was in my pajamas and pink curlers and accidentally closed the window!  It was locked when closed and no one heard me knocking from inside. I was stuck out there for hours!  In fear someone would see me, I hid on the backside of the roof. Three guys my age lived across the street, I was petrified that would catch a glimpse of me in my not so cool looking pjs.   My dad found it funny and was right, I had two choices, deal with it or take the 8 foot jump!  

Gone are those days of me being the one in the street, me being the one on the roof. Now I am the one on the porch.  I am not the one you would catch on a roof top either. My balance is not so great that I would feel safe up there that high anymore. I even wonder now, looking back, how my dad withstood that height and the heat so many times those days. I can swim laps and ride a bike but running around bases playing kickball would certainly lead me to serious joint pain!

Initially, it was a sad realization I am getting old and that I will never again be the one playing in the street.  I can’t play be the one playing kickball.  I won’t ever again have a future that is a blank slate.  None of us older do. But, with that said, a lifetime comes with all the turbulence, all the choices, decisions, hurdles, and sacrifices one has to make. The heart breaks a thousand times over as the years create opportunities for people to come and go in your life.  Joy and heartbreak also.

I remember learning about a dear friend Michelle Bell I grew up with dying, in her forties.  When she died, I remembered the times we spent at the park simply swinging as kids, riding in her first car (a Javelin, with a muffler tied up with a coat hanger!) , and sewing halter tops and switching tops because we wore the same size. All the silly simplest times became so much more meaningful when she was suddenly gone.  And then it seemed like 10 years was one week and then another close high school friend,  James Green,  was gone suddenly.  He had been on the waiting list for a kidney but that wasn’t even what killed him, it was a freak fall where he hit his head and didn’t recover. And there I was sitting at his funeral remembering all our notes, all our walks and talks and fast forward, we were adults and would have no more memories to share.

Not everyone you care about will be there till the end of your time. I have some dear ones that have fallen by the wayside, some from death, and some by choice, theirs or mine.   Life is like that, change is inevitable. Kickball is unpredictable too but it sure doesn’t seem so heart-breaking.  In life, you will be judged, evaluated and make a difference in some lives and in others, nothing you do will make a dent in their persona.  In kickball, it was way easier to make a difference with the kids you played with on a team. We all just wanted to get along and have success together. Don’t you wish your life had worked out so simply?

The freedom of aging and some of the peace is in knowing that you have made your path. You have lived. You have created your own unique journey that no one else can quite replicate. In one sense it does remind me of those days gone by, as a kid, you were the only one in the street that looked just like you.  And now, currently, aged, if you are like
me, sitting on the porch, you have a story to tell that is unlike anyone else’s.  It doesn’t matter, at the end of the day, whether anyone believes all of it or not,  or even hears it, you have lived it and you know it by heart. God shared in every piece of it. The reality of you and your memories are the moments that took you around the bases of your life to lead you right to where you are, now, sitting on the porch, looking back. Rest easy in the rocker. 

As I reflect on my life, I realize my blessings.  Mistakes and successes, but through it all, I survived. If you focus on those that judge you for all you did not become, did not achieve or what they expected of you,  you are left forgetting who you are and what you were given in God’s Master Plan. Create your own vision of the world and of yourself.  Aging truly has its rewards when you empower yourself to let yourself go and just be you, be real.

You made it, you got the hard work done and got the privilege of sitting on the porch.  You get to watch the game of kickball and watch others run around the bases.  Enjoy the view and reflect on the path you took to get there.  You made the circle back home.


God's Grace is Among Us

The confusion over the identity of who you are by some people is not something that can be understood by simple explanations. Some people don’t want to hear them because they have foregone conclusions. Who people are often more felt, intuition, or experienced by interactions. The test of time can be revealing also, more so than by simply taking an experience and placing judgement without knowing all the facts. Live your life going off your gut, guided by the light of God when and if you decide to evaluate people and try not to be judgmental.

Many times in life we are faced with crossroads with people, those near and dear to us and those we pass in work and interpersonal relationships. Associations bring conflict; it is a fact of life. Stronger is the person that can face these head on and resolves them. The ones that can merely classify them quickly and walk away without forethought is the person that thinks life is simple that no one deserves a second thought and takes people for granted, the gifts of others is not to be taken lightly. Living a life with regret is a hard thing to overcome down the line. Looking back, some you left in the dust you may find would have been your best adversaries.  

Each person you will meet in life has value and was brought into your life for a purpose, part of God’s master plan. Be certain you uncover the reason. There are those who are truly meant to float in and then fade into the woodwork of your past. They are stepping stones for your future period. But there are also some that are the fabric of your being, those that built you up and helped you become the person you are and could have built up more, if you had stayed involved, engaged. The test of time is the ones that stuck through it all with you, helped you preserve when times were tough.  Who was and would have been there when you head was low, when you didn’t win, and still had your back?

If you find those people walk away from you without a second thought, the sadness can be painful but the reality is you gave what you had to give without conditions. And we are called to love and give without conditions. Expect nothing in return and then you are altruistic. In a perfect world, we are returned love unconditionally and friends reciprocate. We are trusted, not judged and given lead way to grow. In reality, not everyone has the ability to love or be a true friend, partner or family member for life. Growing pains may be, to some, learning the difference.

Working with someone who is quick to judgement and doesn’t appreciate your efforts is equally disheartening but par for the course of employment in today’s times. Know that the compassion comes in handy and you are the bigger person for having the strength of character to accept fate, a rejection f sorts and move beyond. Everyone doesn’t have to accept you as you are, but then again, many others will, free of their own prejudices and constraints.  Being hateful for the person that degrades you or pushes you away nets nothing but internal hatred for others or makes you no better than the person who pushes your goodness away. Rise up, take notice and move on.  

To live in peace requires an ability to let bygones be simply that, part of the fabric of your past. One must learn to let others let you go, let you be part of the fabric of their past. Even when the pain of letting go seems hard, hurtful or disloyal to you. Life is not about always winning but knowing when the ship has sailed and you are not meant to be onboard. Learn when the energy to hop on board is a sacrifice to your own inner peace.

Fighting for the right to be a part of someone’s life should not be a constant battle. We need to recognize God is who we must prove our loyalty to in the end, not to men or women on earth, not to those who betray our confidence or goodness and our faith. In the end, He will see that we receive our bountiful and the right people love us the way we were meant to be loved and received in his grace.

You are goodness,
Full of a heart of gold,
Don’t let anyone,
Turn your spirit cold.

You have a mission,
To make your life a shining light,
Others may try to cut you down,
But just hold your candle to a higher height.


MLK Jr Effect on Children

My son was born into a white American family. We started relatively poor. I was 17, pregnant and in high school. His father was a factory worker at a chemical company, 23 and wondering how in the world he was going to support a wife and a baby.  I went to a free clinic. It was the beginning, I suppose of the American Dream.

As we struggled in a one bedroom apartment, we made major head ways and moved to the fancy living accommodations of a two bedroom where no longer was my son living in the hallway, outside the bedroom and in-front of the bathroom.   Our furniture became more than plastic crates and I could buy material to sew curtains for all the windows and life was good.

Before long Jimmy Carter had passed a bill that allowed us to buy a home with a government subsidized loan. We moved into a white neighborhood with our starter home that, to us, was going to be our only home. It was small, compact, but it was ours!  It had rooms the size of my laundry room in my subsequent homes but I was overjoyed. As another child came along, we were truly feeling God was looking down on us smiling. We were middle class in our estimation.

My son, by now, was attending a middle class elementary school with mostly all white children, hardly any black children or any other minorities that I knew of. He had grown into an excellent student for the most part. One of his stand out skills, early on, was writing so it was no surprise to me when he was asked to participate, one weekend in fifth grade in the Governors Competition for Writing.

As I dropped him off, I remember seeing him walk in a neighboring school with about one hundred other kids coming from the District we lived in, all looking like they came from neighborhoods like ours, or better. I left and picked him back up a few hours later.
As we drove home, I found out that he had won an Honorable Mention but not placed in the top 3. I was quite surprised he hadn't won or placed because I knew he was by far the best writer in his grade at his school. I tried not to show any emotion and asked him what the subject matter was that they had to write about.

My son told me they were asked to write an essay describing who they would spend a day with if they could with anyone they wanted to alive or dead in the world.  Then they were to explain what would they do, say or ask. For his paper, he told me he had picked Martin Luther King Jr. I was shocked, here sat a white middle class boy, who, of all the choices in the world picked MLK Jr.

He then went on to tell me the content of his paper. It was about all the questions he would ask. He wanted to know what it was like to live in a world where MLK Jr was oppressed, treated with a lack of respect and how he rose above it. My son wanted to know how difficult it was to confront hate and be so filled with hope.  He was planning on asking him if he thought things had changed since he died, if black children were treated fairly and if not, what should be done. And one of the most profound things he said was that to simply be with him would be an honor.

To quote Representative John Lewis today, on the 50th Anniversary of MLK Jr being assassinated :

Dr. King taught us to be brave, to be courageous, to be bold. I don't know where America would be, where many of us of color would be, were it not for him. 

His legacy was to speak up, stand up. When you see that something isn't right or fair, you have to do something — you have to get in the way. Get into good trouble.

Reflecting back, the paper my son wrote symbolized to me what racism is not. It showed me that hate is taught to children, it is not innate. My son was willing to listen to the oppressed and learn from their experiences to be a better human being. I was proud that day of my son. I am certain it played a part in him not being given a placement for his paper but I really couldn't care less. In my mind, he won. Oh, what a better world we would be if we all just shut up and listened, learned, cared and changed!