Category Archives: death

A Thousand Cranes

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Photo by jwskks5786 via Pixabay

My son and daughter-in-law have just returned from their honeymoon in Japan. In their account of their amazing and extensive travels, they told me about the Children’s Peace Monument at ground zero in Hiroshima and the young girl who inspired it. Suddenly familiar memories came flooding back. In the early 80’s I was enthralled with a fusion jazz band aptly named Hiroshima. They sang a song about a thousand cranes based on the true account of a young girl named Sadako Sasaki who survived the initial bombing of Hiroshima only to sicken and die from radiation induced leukemia seven years later. Sadako believed the ancient adage that if she could fold a thousand paper cranes she would be healed. Although she was unable to finish the thousand cranes, her friends and family continued her work and spawned a global peace movement.

When 9/11 happened I remember vividly sitting down at the dinner table that night, saying a prayer for the victims and crying. My children were 9 and 13 at the time and needless to say there was a lot of confusion and worry about what was happening and could something like that happen to them. There were many conversations in the days that followed about fear, death, mortality and living your life as you choose despite the fear or the terrorists would win. Since that life changing day, I have burned candles daily with that same fervent and innocent faith of Sadako Sasaki that my prayer for peace and safety would be answered.

Sadly, devastating bombings have continued since that fateful day in August of 1945, one just last week in Manchester, England. Today in Kabul. Yesterday in Baghdad. Paris, Cairo, Brussels. No place is immune. Sadly children are once again victims. Our human sorrow seems to be never-ending. We are at the mercy of those who believe in a cruel and evil god. It is not the god of people who love their children and families and work hard to build a life together. This god has no faith. This god has no religion. This god has no heart.

If I could fold a thousand cranes to fly into this evil and sweep it away with the power of two thousand wings, I would do it even if I grew too old and my hands too stiff to fold. I will never stop fighting for a safe world for my children to live freely and love openly and raise their own children and build a happy life.

20170525_203049In an account following the A-bomb drop on Hiroshima, the crew of the Enola Gay, the plane that carried that devastation, recall being caught in the shockwave of the explosion that rocked the plane and knocked them off their feet. They looked back over their shoulders to see that huge white mushroom cloud unfold. They understood what they had done but could not imagine the extent of the horror their mission wrought. The irony is not lost on me. Drop a bomb to stop a war. Adults start wars but it’s always the children who suffer for those sins.

I think of today’s suicide bombers who detonate themselves and forfeit the chance to look back over their shoulders and struggle with what they have done. Instead I believe they come face to face with their evil god and only then realize the magnitude of their mistake.

In the helplessness of yet another tragedy, I steadfastly light my candles every evening and offer up a prayer for peace on earth. For harmony even among differing beliefs and for the chance for all children to grow and realize their potential. For the safety of my children. For the safety of all children, young and old. For the hope that the power of the peaceful will eventually override the power of hate. That we will finally achieve that nirvana here on earth. Peace.

Confessions of a Baby Boomer Mom – March

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gezi-1344963__340Women are on my mind these days. My mother, my daughter, my sisters. My friends. Men are on my mind as well. My brothers, my husband, my son. My friends. We are all in this together. In the past few weeks some life changing events have happened both personal and vastly public. I can see photos of masses of women and men gathering around the world to march for human rights. I can see a very personal funeral march to celebrate the end of a life well lived and well loved. I can see events that strike cold fear in my heart, that make me fear for my country, for my children. Another march whose end we cannot yet see.

We buried our Mom the day of the big march. She was 92. To even imagine reaching that age is something I can hardly fathom. She was beautiful to the end. That enigmatic smile that hooked my father so many years ago and convinced him to settle down and raise a family, barely changed with age. We are six from that union and eight more beyond that. To witness the influence of one life in this world is amazing. To witness the influence of millions of the same mind is overwhelming.

My daughter walked in that great march and dedicated that time to her grandmother. A young woman navigating a complex world remembering an old woman who must have felt the same at her age. She was moved by that immense energy, by that positive force of hearts joined for a single cause. A few days later, she had a scary encounter that shook her world and forced her to look again with fresh eyes. Life is constant learning as the world keeps turning.

My sisters. We marched in our own private world locked tightly arm in arm behind our mother’s casket. We are four, each born 5 years apart. We were celebrating our shared sisterhood sprung from one small woman. We turned to each other for comfort, finding common ground while acknowledging we have just as much uncommon ground. Marveling at how our lives can impact time and the world. As do the lives of those we have given birth to.

My brothers marched too. Bearing the weight of that small woman to her final resting place. Bearing the weight of her loss. Our sons are learning the true meaning of strength and honor and love as my mother’s sons have. My son is soon taking a wife. The weight and joy and responsibility of that union has been experienced by his parents and their parents before them.  My children have been witness to many of their parent’s lessons. Some of those lessons they welcome. Some they reject. Some have yet to be borne.peace-1465207__340

Women’s march. Men’s march. Wedding march. Funeral March. Music and soldiers and even ants march. But it is time that leads us forward. Time marches. It is the one march we can never stop and can never see where it will lead. We can only follow it the best that we can. We can march to our own drummer, to our own tune. We can march with someone and we can march against someone. But we can never stop that march of time. 92 and 62 and 32 and more. They are numbers on the scale of life as we go marching on.

Very soon I will be a mother in law. I will have a daughter in law. Another to welcome into my tribe of women, of men. Our lives will begin another march together as the family grows. Children are born and elders die and the world turns round again. This hate and fear we are feeling now will change with the march of time. Our only hope is to hold onto the truest and highest form of ourselves and to grow in that march called life.
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I am honored my mother was who she was and the lessons she made me learn about myself just by being herself. And I can turn around and see all of those ripples of her life and people now here that came from that one lovely smile to a young man newly home from a great war and ready to build a life with her. Time marches on even though she has laid down her head. She trusts that we will hold onto the love she has passed over to us. Rest well, Mom. We will carry on the march from here.

Confessions of a Baby Boomer Mom – Eulogy

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The patriarch of our family passed away two weeks ago. It was not much of a surprise but it was definitely a shock. The idea that such an incredible, vibrant spirit was no longer in my life and the lives of my family seemed unthinkable. Yet that dearest of men lived into his 90’s. He’s left a legacy we will always cherish and live better for.

Uncle Joe was one of those men loved by one and all. He set the standard for all of the men in our lives. We all loved him because he was that special something for each of us. He appreciated how unique we all were and that was definitely his gift. That and the gift of laughter. The man had  sharp wit and a naughty sense of humor. His joie de vivre was infectious and we always laughed so much when we were with him. He lived some tragedies but he was filled with joy. Such a lesson for me. Live the life you have.

I remember the day of my own father’s funeral. I was 17 years old. Uncle Joe sat with us after the service and he was angry and he was sad and he was somewhat incredulous. He kept saying it wasn’t right, my dad was far too young. He promised he would always be there for us and he kept that promise for 43 years. He was a man of his word. He took us in emotionally and he continued to be a father figure to us all. He lived loyalty and faith and by doing so he showed us the way. It’s a truth that we teach our children the lessons we have learned from our own parents, for good or bad and sometimes without realization. I know his lessons were good. His love for his family was immeasurable. I was so proud that he considered me part of his tribe.

I have been a gypsy my whole adult life, traveling and living far from home and sometimes our visits were years apart. But each time I called him on the phone he would start our conversation with the cheery greeting “Tina! You’re lookin’ good!”.  It was always the warmest welcome I could ask for from so far away. He was always interested in my life and what I was doing. I was miles away but he was still my father figure. When I married my husband before I had introduced him to my family, Uncle Joe asked how I could marry a man he hadn’t met yet. It seemed unthinkable. I was always at odds with my own daring. But then he met my husband and they became the fastest of friends. He realized that I had looked for a man so much like him and I was forgiven that transgression.

We are mourning but we are celebrating this good and great man. He was a patriot and a veteran and he loved the country he fought for. I was so gratified to hear he had a military send off. That’s right, I heard. Because again my geographical distance kept me from attending his funeral. I took the day of his funeral off work so I could think of him and celebrate him and I hope, honor him.

He was a husband, a brother, a dad. He was a grandfather and this year became a great grandfather and no one wore that title so well. He was a force to be reckoned with. He was a simple man. Thank you, thank you for all of your love, Uncle Joe. The rest of my life misses you.

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