Sunday, May 29, 2016

Walk with Death

My walk this morning led to some rather deep thinking about life and death.  My husband has always said we are attached to this life by a thin narrow, invisible thread holding us from the top of our head.  At any moment or at any time this thread could snap and we would be here in this place no more.  From the time I can remember I have thought about death.
  As a child I never worried about my own death but was very concerned about the death of my mother.  I loved her so much and just did not feel I could ever go on without her.  In fact I used to pray in my evening prayers that God would let her live until I was at least thirty years old.  I thought by then I would be more grownup and better able to accept her death.  My prayer was not realized and she died of acute leukemia when I was only 21.  I was totally devastated.  I was in India for the first time and we were to stay for 3 weeks.  We had planned to go upstate to visit mama and daddy before we went to India but at the last minute before going changed our plan.  I felt it would stretch our finances too much so decided to wait until we came back.  In the middle of our third week in India I woke with a nightmare.  I told my husband I could never move to India to live because I could not leave my mother.  In my dream she was dying and I could not leave her.  The next morning we received a telegram that mama was extremely ill in Strom Memorial Hospital in Rochester N.Y.  We had no home phones in the house in Bangalore at that time so my family there hailed auto rickshaws.  The men of the family ( Srini, his dad, and his two brothers), and I, went to the Bangalore Telegraph and Telephone office.  It took forever but we were finally able to get connected to the Hospital.  I asked for the room of Margaret Pierce and was told she had died a few hours earlier.  I asked how she had died, and was told they could not give out that information over the phone; even if I was a daughter calling from abroad.  I then asked to have either my father or sister paged, which they did. They had already left the hospital. To make a long story short I could reach neither my father or sister at their homes.  Srini called Pan American World Airlines and arranged for us to leave Delhi the next day for NYC. He then called the local airline to book an evening flight. to Delhi.  We went back to the house, cried, packed, and left for the airport.  Srini's family were absolutely wonderful and his Mom and sisters cried with me as they helped me pack.
When we reached New Delhi, PanAm put us in first class for the flight home, which made 5 stops in 5 different countries.   I was sick with nausea and bathroom issues and crying jags so it was a blessing we were in first class near the bathroom.  When we finally landed in New York on Sunday morning I called my father and learned the funeral for Mama was the next day.  Srini booked a flight for us to Massena N.Y. for the first flight Monday morning.  My Father and Uncle Jerry picked us up at the airport there and drove directly to the funeral in Potsdam.
I subsequently learned Mama developed a very sore throat three days after we left for India.  a blood test showed her white blood cells were extremely high.  They rushed her by ambulance to Strom Memorial and she died there a week later.  As near as we could calculate with the time difference, it was at the time of my nightmare.  
 From this earth shattering experience, for me, I learned  all the praying in the world could not stop or delay death  The thread could break at any moment, and our happiest moments could become part of our worst nightmares.  The difference between life and death is a moment in time and we have to try and make the best of that moment.  I also learned you can live beyond the death of a beloved.  I grieved very hard for at least six months.  I cried, had nightmares, gained weight, quit the job I had, let myself go........all the worst things people do when they grieve.  Srini tells me he hardly recognized me during this time.  All my joy was gone.  Eventually I came back but I never tried to hold as tightly to anyone again.  I knew they could and indeed might leave, so I tried to prepare myself to let them go.  Mama always said " if you really love someone, you love them enough to let them go".
 I have lost many people I loved since that time in my life and it never is easy.  What I have tried to do, especially now that I am older, is enjoy even more the moments I have with those I love.  I try to forgive their and my own idiosyncrasies, and honor and love who they really are.  I really do try to enjoy each day for what it holds and do not have a very long bucket list.  I have done and do what I most enjoy each day and if this makes me a little lazy then damn the torpedos which might be thrown against me.

Friday, May 13, 2016

New York City, there I went.........

I think I need to talk about my first experiences in New York City at 18 years old.
I had flunked out of Geneseo State College(that is what it was called back in the day)  My mother was heartbroken, but I really don't remember what my father said.  It was he who had insisted that his daughter had to go to college.  We were all unsure of what the next step would be.  Mama thought I should take some courses at the community college.  I wanted to go to NYC and get a job.  That is what I had wanted in the first place but my Dad wouldn't hear of it because I was accepted with a small scholarship at Geneseo.
 Fortuitously, my best friend Christa had come to Potsdam in June to move her Mom to her apartment in Queens NY.  Christa had gone to travel school in Chicago but then went to NYC and got a job as a receptionist. She was waiting to get called for an interview to be a stewardess.
So Christa was moving her Mom to Queens with her mom's old car with a uhaul attached.  Christa did not drive but I had driven her mom's car many times our Junior and senior years in high school.  They invited me to go along to help drive and stay with them a few weeks in to help settle her mom.  I, of course, lept at the chance, and since I couldn't do much else until fall, my father said I could go.  Mama wept a little because she knew what I really wanted. I think my father felt I would come crawling home after being defeated by the big city.  He had been a runner on Wall Street at about my age and he hightailed it back to work in a sawmill in Conifer, NY.
 I will never forget the drive from the Hudson Bridge to NYC.  We drove down the Hutchinson River Parkway  and from about 10 miles away we could see the city lights.  It was a truly magical night. My heart was in my throat the whole way and I just could not believe what I was seeing.  I knew then that truly this was my destiny and the place I was meant to be.  Coming to "Gotham" on an enchanted evening like that fulfilled, but also began, the epitome of all my childhood dreams.   This one evening, and a second at Delhi Airport, when I first set foot in India, remain in my memory as fresh as on the days they occurred.  Nothing could have prepared me for the sights I saw or the emotions I felt on these two occasions.
 I stayed with Christa for two weeks while I looked for a job and a place to stay.  I found a job almost immediately as an office trainee at the American Institute of CPA'S.  I had gotten the job through an employment agency and I had to pay them out of my first salaries for the next three months. I was paid in cash week.  I remember the small brown envelope containing exactly $63.00.  The next step was to find a place to stay.  Christa had stayed at the Webster Hotel for Women between 9th and 10th Ave on 32nd Street.( see "a new beginning 1962"folder on Claire's Pinterest pages.)  She took me there and they accepted me and agreed to keeping a $50.00 deposit, until my first paychecks came through.  I had been sent off to NYC by my parents with $100.00 and it was the last money I ever accepted from them.
 So I called my parents and told them I had a job and a rented room and that my future from then on was in NYC.  They wished me well and said to call home right away if I needed anything or got into any kind of trouble. My mother's philosophy was "if you love truly love someone,  you love them enough to let them go." I believe this is what kept my parents together until she died.
More of my early NYC experiences will come on another day.
Farewell for now.

Monday, May 9, 2016

Religion in the name of Religion?

This is going to be a hard one to both write, and read if you are one of my followers.
I watched 60 minutes last night and learned about the Yezidis in northern Irac who fled to the mountains and had one of their ancient cities destroyed by Isis.  I had understood them to be Kurdish people but now realize they are a separate religious group within the Kurdish people.They were assisted by other Kurds and allied fighting forces against Isis.  I was shocked and angered by the genocide being perpetuated against this group whom the terrorists have labeled devil worshipers.  After watching this program I was sick with anger and did some research on the beliefs of this ancient religion being persecuted.
I am not going into details; you can look them up yourself, but unfortunately was surprised to learn they are a closed religion who are monotheistic and practice endogamy.  Endogamy is the practice of marrying within a specific ethnic group, class, or social group, rejecting others on such a basis as being unsuitable for marriage or for other close personal relationships.
Endogamy can serve as a form of self-segregation; it helps a community Population genetics and inbreeding to resist integrating and completely merging with surrounding populations. It helps minorities to survive over a long time as distinct communities within societies with other practices and beliefs.
 the Yazidi are a Kurdish-speaking ethnoreligious group, which makes it complicated for scholars and historians to pin down the nuances of their religion.  They share a belief in Adam as the first man with Christians, Jews and Muslims but other beliefs seem to go back to the pagan era.
l also learned in my reading that some families within the Yazidi religion have participated in honor killings when their unmarried you have tried to run away and marry outsiders.

All of this leads me to my rant today. I really do hate religion and seriously believe, at times, that all religions should be destroyed.  I am a practicing United Methodist who attends Church most weeks and who participates in Communion and prayer for others; I love the old hymns of the church.  I attend Church because of the love and care and fellowship of the other participants. This  is what keeps me returning week after week.  I do not agree with the social position that Ministers of our religion cannot be practicing members of the LGBT community, not can they marry persons of the same birth sex.
What I cannot stand in any religion is what I feel is the hypocrisy in their professed beliefs and their treatment of their fellow man.  Particularly in my own Christian religion.  I do not like to even call myself a Christian anymore, but rather a follower of Jesus.  I have read the old and new testaments through and through several times.  I have attended college courses on religion and have participated in many Bible study groups as well as internal church courses.  I am a local lay leader and hold a weekly Bible study group in my home.
I believe What Jesus called the two most important commandments. I paraphrase:
  1. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ ... ‘Love your neighbor as yourself. ...
  2. These two commandments constitute my faith and beliefs.  Everything else is up for question in my mind.
  3. I believe all of the great religions have these two core beliefs somewhere in their theology and if they do not they should.  
  4. I love God, Creation, and all of the the fellow beings in the Universe.  I believe God or Being created everything. There is no beginning and no end.  There is eternal life and truth.  Being dwells within every thing and every creature or piece of vegetation.  I believe our task is to pass as gently as possible through our finite existence and to honor the being present within others.  We are to grow and learn and ultimately pass to whatever is beyond our own finite existence.  
  5. People and religions who feel it is their right and duty to impose their belief systems on others and who interfere with another's right to an existence filled with life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness .I consider people like this are just plain wrong and their arguments upset me.
  6. Poobah has spoken again, alienating both friend and foe.  Woe is me.

PS Since this is a blog and not a formal piece I have not noted my sources.  I have plagiarized.  So sue me!

Friday, May 6, 2016

The week in highlights

This has been an interesting week for me.  I have found many new and unexpected thoughts have been crowding into my mind.
On Monday I started to write about my view of the current Primary season candidates but something told me to hold off.  Tuesday came and went and then Zodiac killer dropped out of the race with a final punch and elbow to wife's face and I felt nothing I could have written could top that.  Even my sense of humor could not have anticipated a punchline to beat that.
Moving along.  On Wednesday I planned on meeting a friend at the supermarket Starbucks and then doing my monthly Senior day 10% off shopping at the same supermarket.  The best laid turned out another friend needed transportation to and from a Dr's off ice to have a skin cancer removed from the rear of her driving foot knee.  I changed plans and found myself off to Youngtown to pickup my friend.  " Youngtown is the oldest retirement community in the US. In 1954, two developers bought 320 acres (1.3 km2) of farmland & built is notable as the first master-planned, adult community in the United States, dedicated exclusively to retirees, designed by Ben Schleifer.[5] However, in 1996, the town denied extending the stay of a 16-year-old child to live in the community. In response, the Arizona Attorney General investigated and determined it was unenforceable. In response Youngtown repealed the age restrictions in 1999.[6]"
Later Sun City was built and overshadowed the original retirement village.
" Sun City was opened January 1, 1960, with five home models, a shopping center, a recreation center, and a golf course. The opening weekend drew 100,000 people, ten times more than expected, and resulted in aTime magazine cover story.[2] The future retirement community was built on the site of the former ghost town of Marinette.[3] Developer Del E. Webb expanded Sun City over the years, and his company went on to build other retirement communities in the Sun BeltSun City West was built in the late 1970s, Sun City Grand in the late 1990s, Sun City Anthem in 1999, and Sun City Festival in July 2006.[4] "
All of these retirement areas are affordable and welcomed by both older citizens and snowbirds.  The main dangers of living in these areas are being run over by an octogenarian in a golf cart, or dying of boredom or sunstroke.
I thoroughly enjoyed taking my friend to the medical center and returning her home little the worse for wear but very tired and feeling no pain,YET).
I then went for my senior day supermarket run and emerged two hours later with aching legs and hot(it almost reached 98' by the time I was putting $176.00 worth of groceries in the car)  I had saved almost $70.00 between sales, 10% off and my coupons.  Not a bad investment in my time.  I got home unpacked groceries and collapsed for the remainder of the day.
Thursday brought me to my Martha's Circle group, where we cut up, donated and canceled, postage stamps to borders of 1/4 to 1/3 of an inch on all four sides of each stamp.  These stamps are then further sorted by type and sent to a Christian organization in Florida which in turn sells them and uses the funds for education programs in Latin America.
Folks, this is the kind of tedious mission work little old ladies love to do.  So cut your envelopes completely in half and send the stamped end to me to continue this valuable program. If you do choose to participate please send the whole half envelope including the back.  Some put their stamp right at the top and side of the envelope not leaving any border.  So we use the back and side to cut the border.  I bet you never knew collecting stamps for charity is such an exacting science.
Later we watched a DVD from "Women of Faith" and listened to Lora Schwlinder speak. This lady is in her 70's and full of pep and vigor and has a lovely singing voice.  She spoke of inviting  God to accompany you throughout the day in all the Little Things.She said most of us are savie  or desperate enough to call on God in prayer for the large events in life like illness, sorrow, death, fires, disasters  and one could go on and on. Few of us keep in touch with or pray to God in all the little things which make up all of our lives.  She says she wakes up and gives thanks for all her blessings and then asks the Lord to be with her in all the little things she encounters each and every day which we seldom give over to him.  We think we should be able to direct and order our own lives.
I must say we ladies had a good discussion about this talk, but It has been on my mind ever since. For years I have tried to pray continuously and to ask the Lord to be beside me throughout my day, But I do too often get distracted and find myself seldom thinking of the Lord or Spirit while  standing in line at the grocery store or getting the mail.   Then too, we know terrible things happen to us when we least expect it.  We blurt out mean or sarcastic things to a friend or are involved in a robbery, out of the blue.
The things we worry about most never happen but something even more devastating sits around the corner waiting for us.  Now I do not want to say I want to go around scared all the time, but rather just the opposite.  I want to proceed through all occasions with God, or Spirit, or Christ or whatever names we call the Holy Presence.  I want that Presence to accompany and share with me all the occasions or events or people I encounter.  I want my thoughts to be deeply embedded in the Holy and Sanctified so whatever life throws at me I can proceed confidently, powerfully, and with love in my heart expressed through my actions.
Pretty powerful stuff isn't it.  I guess I should listen to others speak more often.
Well these are some of the exciting adventures which have made up my week.  Let us see what life has in store for me next week.