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Confessions of a Baby Boomer Mom – Hearts


photo by Congerdesign

In so many different ways, February is considered heart month. The month opens with a burst of red on calendars and in stores as we celebrate the health of the human heart and that grand emotion of the human heart, love. We are encouraged to bestow flowers and candies upon our loved ones at the same time being admonished to take of one’s heart with a healthy diet and exercise. I sense the irony here. Heart health this month is especially focused on women’s hearts as denoted by the floating red dress symbol. It’s a month to see red.

If one is in the initial bloom of a love relationship, February and specifically Valentine’s Day is the day to show your lover what they mean to you. Typically this appears to be done by giving the aforementioned candy, cards and flowers but jewelry is a common gift as are marriage proposals, trips abroad and champagne dinners by candlelight.  As the blush of first love wears off, especially if one is in a very long term relationship, that bloom of ardor has cooled and more often than not, in lieu of gifts is the complaint that the holiday has just been created by card companies and jewelry stores for the profit that it brings. Nothing cools passion faster than that particular sentiment.

It is usually then that the other heart of February is focused on. Heart health is a serious issue and for women it can mask as another illness sometimes until it is too late to get help. As a woman, I know that there are times when I think that a certain pain is just in my imagination or maybe it’s a pulled muscle or maybe even just gas. Women often think they are just too busy or it really isn’t serious or they have other people to care for. All of that mental negotiation can temporarily soothe one’s concern until the heart actually stops because it really wasn’t gas after all.

When you think of it, the heart is a pretty amazing organ. Not only does it pump about 100,000 times per day which keeps the human body up and running, it skips a beat when one meets that special someone, it can freeze when one is in shock or fear and it can break when sorrow hits it. From the heart come sonnets and songs and it can actually go out to someone when feeling compassionate. It can also grow hard with hate or anger or be soft in the person considered a push over. One famous song even claimed that the heart would go on even after the person had stopped! Yes that heart is a busy little thing.

Because of all of that I wonder that as humans we take this relatively tiny organ for granted. It does so much for us and to us and yet we can forget about it for months at a time, at least until February rolls around again. We use it and abuse it to the point where I am astounded that it can handle all that it does. When we consider how essential it is to life itself one would think we would be more careful with it. But no. We eat our decadent food and drink. We stay up late and party. We hurt other people’s hearts by playing with them when we are not being honest. It is said that some of us have no heart but of course that could not be true.


photo by Mariette de Villiers

I also believe we all have different hearts in our one heart. I have a daughter’s heart, and a sister’s heart. I have a wife’s heart and a mother’s heart and a friend’s heart. My heart changes a bit with each role I step into. They often overlap. Sometimes my heart is bursting and sometimes it feels as though it has shriveled up and hidden behind a rib somewhere. I can usually coax it out with music, a beat that finds a rhythm with the beat of my heart. a song I can sing at the top of my lungs until that heart fills itself in again. Sometimes I just have to take the pain that has scarred that hearty heart and move away from it until it stops hurting.

166738237We use the heart to describe so many things in our lives. We have heartbreak and heartthrobs. We have bleeding hearts and blackhearts and we can be faint of heart. Sometimes we need to get to the heart of the matter and sometimes two hearts are better than one. And so it seems fitting that this wonderful organ, this suppository of love and emotion vastly beyond its tiny size should have its own month of the year to wax poetic. There are definitely worse things we can glorify. Even for those cynics who refuse to buy flowers or cards, the heart will go on until it no longer can. The next step is just a heartbeat away.

Confessions of a Baby Boomer Mom – March


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.

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 – Gratitude



It was my birthday yesterday. To say that I am grateful to be celebrating yet another one is an understatement considering ten years ago I was fighting a life threatening disease. And yet each day is a blessing. Nothing is ever guaranteed, no one can count on seeing another morning. This past week has been a difficult one for my country, my friends and my family. There is so much uncertainty and fear. The unknown always holds fear, there is no doubt. Yet I take this blessing of another day to be grateful for the things I do have and to count those as well.

Next week we celebrate Thanksgiving. I have felt saddened these past years that the significance of this celebration has become muddled with the great opportunity for businesses to sell lots and lots of products in one fell swoop in preparation of Christmas. The day after Thanksgiving holds the ominous title of Black Friday. Black Friday encroaches more and more into Thanksgiving each year to the point where stores open for business the evening of Thanksgiving Day. This has made me very sad. This day has been set aside for us to reflect and be thankful for all that we have in this very prosperous country. Instead many are focused on the what they can buy for the cheapest prices.

And yet that in itself  is what many consider a blessing. And who I am to negate another person’s gratitude? But for me to really feel that this country has not taken, to paraphrase the infamous words of Bugs Bunny, a wrong turn at Albuquerque, I feel I must dig deep to remind myself of all that I am thankful for. Gratitude comes in stages. It comes in baby steps and in great leaps. In the silence and in the noise too. It is an attitude. One just never knows when it will appear and you have to feel grateful that it did at all.

I am grateful for life and grateful for time. For touch, feel and sight. For love and friendship even those lost ones. Life is a roller coaster. Childhood than high school then college then life, not necessarily in that order. Sometimes I was trying to navigate without a compass. Some things went so right and some so wrong. So grateful I got through safely to the age I am now with only a few scars. Oh baby it is a wild world indeed.

I am grateful for the joy and pain of parenting. Of bringing children into the world whom I could love and nurture and hover over and let go of and worry about and laugh with. Grateful for a husband and friend and partner for 34 years. Through hard times and good times and some bad times too. A lifetime and yet only a moment together. Fumbling through life holding onto each other. Grateful for his strength and love. I am grateful for the company of a cat for 15 years. His grace and beauty, his defiance. His heavy body draped across my lap for many moments of rest.

I am grateful for elders who have lived into their 90’s so that I could still feel like a beloved child when I was with them. Grateful for my tribe, for my brothers and sisters and cousins and friends. We are all in this together. For my children with their never ending lessons. For every sunrise and every sunset.  For the chance to bake some cookies. And the tools to do so.

So grateful this horrible election is over even though it left a hole in my heart where my faith in humanity had been. Grateful for the time and the chance to heal that hole and find hope again. Grateful for the right to vote. For the time to heal wounds.

There are endless things I am grateful for, many which I will keep pressed between the pages of my secret heart. Despite all, I am grateful to enjoy the full advantages of the modern world to the point where I can stay tucked up warm in my bed the day after Thanksgiving while others choose to go out in the dark to get the weekend deals in their favorite stores. We all have a choice here while many around the world cannot choose what their day may hold. And so I send that out into the world and state that we all have a responsibility to uphold our brothers and sisters here at home and around the world and pray they are granted a good life too. I am grateful for all of my blessings even those in disguise. And I light another candle for myself today.