For The Love of Mother’s Day

Recently I read a post on Facebook that a mother had written explaining why she had not raised her son to celebrate mother’s day. She felt that Mother’s Day was a huge lie in extolling the virtues of mothers. All women are worthy of adoration and that by singling out mothers we are stating that they are superior in some way. She stated that society projects that women are happier simply because they have reproduced. She went on to say that the unhappy women on Mother’s day would actually be mothers themselves, having to deal with their wretched children and the obligatory gifts of chocolates and flowers. She stated that Mother’s day makes non mothers, mothers of dead OR “damaged” children, and women whose mothers have passed away feel terrible. She went on for four L.O.N.G. paragraphs sharing her bitterness over this horrible holiday that is set aside to celebrate Moms. She stated that Mother’s Day “perpetuates the dangerous idea that all parents are somehow superior to non-parents.” And “It should go without saying that I also hate Valentine’s Day.” Well then, I guess that just sums it up.

I’m not certain when it became popular to be a hater of all things meant to promote honor, love, and gratitude, but it seems to be quite the growing trend… Thanksgiving is insensitive to Native Americans, Christmas is over commercialized, Valentine’s is demeaning, Easter is too secularized, Memorial day is exclusive, Mother’s day perpetuates a myth that only women that give birth are worth celebrating…blah, blah, blah, yada, yada, yada. Baloney! I’m surprised I haven’t heard arguments against Earth day… for goodness sake, how could we be so insensitive to the other planets? And now that Pluto has been downgraded we should be extremely careful of the use of the word Planet.

I feel sad that the author of this blog feels so insecure, so unhappy, and so distraught over her upbringing that she chooses to put out negativity and shame on a day that should be spent honoring, remembering and showing gratitude and love for the women who have had an active role in helping raise children. I love my mom and I try and honor her more than once during the year but life has a way of keeping me occupied and I don’t always show her how much I appreciate all that she has done for me. I am glad for a special day that is set aside to let her know how special she is to me. Frankly I am glad for any and all days that recognize people… Secretary’s day, Teacher’s day, Nurse’s Day, Father’s Day, Grandparent’s Day, etc. etc. You get my drift… Just because we honor someone doesn’t mean we are perpetuating a dangerous idea that they are superior to anyone else. I celebrate my daughters birthdays every year and have done so for the past 20+ years… I do not believe, nor do they believe, that they are any better than anyone else on the planet. I celebrate them because I love them, value them, and appreciate them.
There is so much anger and hate, selfishness and exclusion, animosity and discord in this world. That is why I support any and all days that promote happiness and love, selflessness and inclusion, goodwill and harmony. Any day that I can take to make someone else feel loved, cherished, honored, and appreciated is fine by me.

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The Sweetest Memories

There has never been a day in my life that my Grandma LaRue hasn’t been a presence, a memory, or a thought away.  Growing up, Summer vacations, holidays, birthdays, weekends, all found me at Grandma and Grandpa’s house on Riverside Drive in Prindle, Washington on the great Columbia River.  The memories of that time in my life are the sweetest memories I have and I will cherish them always.  I find that the older I get the more often I take those memories out, and relive those days in quiet, contented, loving reflection.

My Grandma (Nana, as I called her when I was very young) was always very active and engaged.  She was not one of those grandmas that sat around observing or admonishing me to “go out and play.”  Grandma was the Ring Leader in my adventures.  Whenever I would visit she would always  have great things planned. Some of the things I remember doing with grandma: walking to the Columbia River, building dams in the streams, picking blackberries, and vegetables from her garden, swinging on the old wooden swing, hikes in the woods, visiting with great-grandma and feeding the fish in her pond, splashing around in the Washougal River, fishing, rock hunting, the hot, sweet smelling kitchen during summer canning, the cold fall mornings standing by the wood burning stove, sliding down Sunshine Mountain, learning to climb the tree outside her kitchen window, watching the hummingbirds fly by for a drink from the feeder, weeding her flower beds and picking flowers for her house, “driving” the old tractors and cars parked permanently in the field, sledding in the winter, FIRES!, digging around in the attic, playing table games, cooking, baking, and making crafts….And so many, many more things to do.  There was NEVER a dull moment with Grandma.

And oooh lots of wonderful things to eat; things that my parents wouldn’t generally let me eat at home.  Candy, sugar cereals, Twinkies,  pies, ice-cream, soda, and the never empty cookie jar. There was also corn on the cob, green beans, carrots, cucumbers, crookneck squash, peaches, pears, blackberries and other wonderful things from her garden and orchard.  I was not a big fan of squash, but Grandma made scrambled eggs with crookneck squash that was always a big hit.

My Grandma was a loving, giving, fierce, determined, strong minded, strong willed woman.  Grandma always had a knack for making everyone in her life feel special and unique.  She is my hero, my role model and simply put, the most amazing Grandma ever to walk the earth and I am so proud to be her granddaughter.

My Grandma, Marvel Mae Applegate Huson Goldman LaRue  (That name is a story all in itself…ask me sometime, I’d be proud to share it with you.)  January 18, 1920 – July 17, 2014.

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My Grandma, My Heart

Two hours. That’s how long she has been gone. Such a short time but my world seems darker, colder, lonelier, without her in it. I know in time that this ache will subside, that the tears will stop, the heartache will become more bearable but I will never stop missing her, loving her…not until the day I am gone.

This is not a surprise or an unexpected loss. I knew it would happen, knew it was coming. She was 94 after all and lived a long, full life. But I am selfish and I want her here. I want to be able to send the note I have for her sitting on the edge of my desk; want to be able to call her, want to visit her one more time, sing with her again.

I want to go back to a summer day in my childhood and walk to the Columbia River with her, listening as she describes the different plants and flowers; stand by the railroad tracks holding her hand as the train speeds by. I want to stand hot and sweaty in her kitchen while we dip peaches in hot water to prepare them for canning. I want to sit at the kids table during a huge family gathering… listening for her voice at the grown up table. I want her to tuck me in at night, with “sleep tight, don’t let the bed bugs bite” and have her kiss my cheek.

I want the strength, the security, the unconditional love that she gave so freely, so generously. I want to see her sit and talk with my girls, laughing and sharing stories. I want to see the pride and love in her eyes. I want her here with me.

My Grandma….my heart.

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God and My Chaise Lounge

I acquired a new piece of furniture last summer.  Well, new to me.  It was actually purchased at a yard sale of friends who were moving out of the area.  The price was ridiculously low and there was no way on earth I could pass it up.  I didn’t really need it but the want factor was very high.  I’m not sure what drew me to this piece of furniture but for some reason I knew that it needed to come home with me.

The furniture in question is a tan, chaise lounge.  It is not the most attractive piece of furniture in my home, nor is it the most used piece of furniture, but it is comfortable and functional and it makes me feel better just sitting or lying on it.  I like that it is used.  I don’t have to worry about keeping my feet down so that it won’t get dirty, or worry if I spill my morning coffee on it. I can be at home on this lounge and be relaxed.  I like that I purchased it from a friend who read and sang and loved her children while sitting here. I imagine myself on this lounge in a year with my nephew snuggled up beside me as we read Good Night Moon, or Nightmare In My Closet…  I see myself sitting here in 15 years with a grand baby in my arms singing lullabies …. I imagine Laura and I sitting here in California,  Skyping Emily in Hawaii, and reading “The Night Before Christmas” (a long-standing family tradition) on Christmas Eve.   This lounge is my haven and I am at peace here.  I wish that everyone could have a place they could go to where they feel safe, comfortable, relaxed, at peace.

I have found myself in a very unique position these past few months… experiences and situations arising that are pushing me emotionally, spiritually and mentally…  I keep thinking… “Well it can’t get worse than this.”  or “I don’t think I can take on anymore.”  And yet life continues to play out and I find myself resigned to taking it on and facing the challenges day by day.  I also find myself “praying” to whomever, whatever… just sending out thoughts… “I need strength” or “I need understanding.”  Sometimes revelation occurs and sometimes not so much.  And just about the time I feel like I’ve come to some understanding of God, or my belief system, I find another rock in my path and the uncertainty sets in again.  I’m not upset by these questions, the uncertainty… I believe that I will be questioning my entire life.  How nice it would be to have that confidence I had as a child… A certain, unwavering belief that everything is going to be just fine, because someone is watching out for me, waiting to help me whenever I need assistance.

But how unlike God that is… at least in my world.  I don’t want a God that does not offer free will or that manipulates people like a puppeteer… someone who only heals or helps those he deems worthy, the chosen few.   I want a God like my chaise lounge… comfortable and  functional… Some one I can go to and not worry about being tidy or neat.  Some one that lets me put up my feet, settle in and breath, relax, unwind, and let go of the challenging issues that I am facing.  If that is God then  scooch over and make a  space for me.

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Mission Impossible

It was never my intention to write something political.  I was on Facebook this morning and saw a posting about the murders that occurred in Isla Vista, CA and went to the link posted.  As I read the report I became filled with a sense of overwhelming sadness for the parents of these students… and then the sadness turned to panic, and fear and rage.  I have two daughters that are the ages of these young people.  My oldest is living in Hawaii and my youngest is living with me in California. There is not a day that goes by that I don’t think of them and say a pray for their safety.  Most days it is just a cursory thought, and whenever my youngest leaves the house I habitually say, “Be safe.”  They are making their way in this world and I am an observer of their journey.  My dream for them is that they live productive, happy, full lives.  It is every parents wish for their children.  I do not imagine that when my children are out making their way there is danger lurking because it is too painful to consider, but I know it is there.  I cannot even begin to imagine the horror, the pain, the extreme anguish of losing one of my children.  It is with those thoughts that this rambling came together.

 What are we doing?  Where have we gone so wrong?  When do our rights as individuals become so important that these rights infringe on the rights of others?  Their right to LIFE, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.  STOP right there.  I am a firm believer in the 2nd amendment but I believe that we should strive for a reasonable balance between what the Gun Rights Advocates and the Gun Control Advocates are pushing and demanding.  Both sides are so intent, so myopic, so stubborn about their views that they are unwilling or unable to step back, take a breath, open their minds and come to some reasonable, workable solution. I’m so sick of hearing the rhetoric, the melodramatic comments and words said only to insult and belittle those with differing views.  I know that both sides of this debate can quote statistics, can share stories that support their views, they can assert their right to demand what they feel is best for them… but is it really in the best interest of ALL concerned?

 There can be reasonable solutions.  I don’t necessarily know what those solutions are, but I do know that like parenting, a little trial and error is required.  Try something, if it works then go with it; if it doesn’t work, change it, try again.   But for the love of life, please TRY.  Try to extend yourself, try to think outside your backyard, try to imagine what your views would be if you were on the receiving end of the call from the sheriff’s department, informing you that your child had been gunned down by a previously law abiding citizen with an axe to grind.  Maybe your views would be the same, maybe not.  But the point is to consider, just consider, how the other side thinks and feels.  You don’t need to agree with them… just try to UNDERSTAND.  I am trying to understand why folks believe it is okay for everyone to own a gun.  Honestly, I am trying. I am reading stories on the internet, I am looking at statistics, I am personally asking gun owners what their views are.  I’m finding that gun ownership is a lot like religion…. lots of different views, some reasonable folks and some nut jobs.

Here’s what I know based on research:

*Between 2005-2010, almost 3,800 people in the U.S. died from unintentional shootings and 1/3 of these victims were under the age of 25.

*States that have higher number of guns have a higher number of unintentional gun injuries and deaths.  For kids ages 5 to 14, the mortality rate is 14 times higher in high gun ownership States and for infants and toddlers, ages 0 to 4, the mortality rate is 17 times higher.

*Statistics prove that States with more guns have elevated rates of firearm homicide, and this is after controlling for poverty and urbanization.

*Homes where guns are kept are 22 times more likely to be involved in accidental shootings, homicides, or suicide attempts.

*For every ONE time guns where used in the home in a legally justifiable shooting or self-defense there were 4 unintentional shootings, 7 criminal assaults or homicides, and 11 suicide attempts.

*A federal government study showed that 8% of unintentional shootings were caused by children under the age of six.  1,300 victims were under the age of 25.

*33% of U.S. households own a gun.  Under half of these homes lock their guns up safely and 40% of the folks who do not lock up their guns safely have children under the age of 18 living at home.

*The prevalence of firearms and questionable storage practices (for example, firearms that are kept loaded and unlocked) are associated with higher rates of unintentional firearm deaths.

 These are facts… not rhetoric.  Does this mean that I believe guns should be illegal?  NO, not at all, but I do believe that we can come up with some reasonable solutions to the epidemic of gun violence.  There are Federal gun laws and there are individual State gun laws.  Maybe the first solution would be to unify the laws and then actually uphold them.

 In the case of Elliott Rodgers, someone being treated by several psychiatrists, and doctors, whose parents stated he had Asperger’s Syndrome, we find a man that was legally able to own firearms.  Three, 9mm semi-automatic handguns, and almost 400 rounds of ammunition; all purchased legally and all registered to him. I find something extremely wrong with that picture.

 My friend Jake struggled with depression and anger.  He made an ill stated, stupid comment to a company he was frustrated with and temporarily had his firearms removed from his possession.  He was charged with making a terrorist threat for stating, “Damn, I could just kill you guys.”  His intention wasn’t to kill anyone… He was frustrated and made an ignorant comment.  20 years ago that comment was common… after 9/11 we started reacting differently to those words.   Jake eventually took his life with a 9mm handgun.  Untreated depression and anxiety pushed him to the edge.  Would he have taken his life if he hadn’t had access to the gun?  Most likely.

 So then, what is my question? Are handguns the problem or are people the problem?  I would have to say the answer is YES.  However there is a solution, we are just too tied up in our own self-righteousness and fear to work together, to come together, and create a reasonable, bipartisan solution.  This is really what makes me sad, and makes me fearful for my children and for future generations of children.

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War Is Hell

I wrote this a couple of years ago.  After a conversation with a friend on FB I decided to dust it off and post it on my Blog.  Here are my thoughts on war.

When I ask people why we are at war I get many different responses: Retaliation for 9-11, for oil, weapons of mass destruction, religious reasons, for freedom. Somehow I cannot justify war for ANY of these reasons but those who support war feel justified and worry at my lack of patriotism, my lack of understanding.

Maybe I am just naive or uninformed but how can we support a war when we cannot even agree on the reasons we are fighting. “1,2,3, what are we fighting for? Don’t ask me, I don’t give a damn. Next stop – [Afghanistan].” We are a Nation divided over war and both sides are self-righteous in their opinions and beliefs. Even those fighting do not agree on whether or not the war should continue.

What I do know is that war is hell and you and I, who sit comfortably on our couch, don’t even have the beginnings of a clue of the real hell that is war. We watch the news, listen to the soundbites, and shake our heads in frustration and five minutes later we are thinking about the leaky faucet or the extra work the boss dumped on us or the orthodontist appointment that our child has in the morning.

Recently someone I knew in high school, and am Facebook friends with, sent me a message describing his experience with war. Words cannot begin to express the heart wrenching anguish I felt when reading his words. I ached for him and for all those who personally face the ugly reality of war. I am not trying to use him as a Poster Boy for an Anti-War campaign, I am not trying to vilify him, I am not trying to garner support for the war. I am just sharing a story that needs to be heard and I hope and pray that it moves you as deeply as it moved me.

Here is his story…

I killed so many insurgents that screamed Allah Akbar (God is Great)at me; including women and children. I forgot what is right and what is wrong. I lost my self somewhere along the way and I dont know if I will ever find my way back.

My last gun battle I was rolling past the insurgents and there was a car bomb. An insurgent rolled into my convoy with a 3-5 year old child. He detonated 1500 pounds of explosives as I was looking at the child. It took out our rear car. My friends heads were on the ground next to me. Then they opened up from a mosque with belt feeds. They say I went insane. I kicked the door out of the SUV and started to fight. 6 bullets into my body, 26 dead insurgents and a couple dozen dead civilans later the battle was over. They sent me home never to work again. Of course they give me $4500 a month tax free for the rest of my life but the question is this. What is faith? Who is GOD? What do we believe? They believed in their GOD and comitted attrosities in the name of their GOD. I believed in myself and my brothers. I fought with everything I believed in. When I woke up in the hospital everyone but me was dead. What is truth? What is right? What is wrong? If you ever figure it out let me know. You can use anything I say. I speak with truth; looking for truth.

It is my deepest wish that in some small way we are able to reach out to the men and women who live these horrors and ease their pain and confusion and maybe in doing so we will help bring truth and peace.

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Take Me Home

I spent a great deal of my childhood at my grandparents home on Riverside Drive in Prindle, Washington on the Columbia River Gorge. It was the perfect place to be a kid.  A place where security and danger, laughter and tears, fear and assurance, mixed together to create a world that I would not understand, or fully appreciate, until my adult years.  There are some places and times you never fail to recall and the memories grow sweeter with age. This place, created by love, will always be home.

Summer days were spent climbing trees; branches reluctant to take on the weight of three sprightly cousins. Recklessly tackling the wild blackberry bushes for the dusty, sweet fruit; warily anticipating the tang of an unripened berry.  Thinning out the seats of our pants sliding down ‘Sunshine Mountain’.  Placing pennies on the railroad tracks and, feeling the rush of danger when the train came along; the world spinning as it raced past.  Building dams in the cold, clear streams; quenching our thirst with the pure, limpid liquid.   Examining the remains of the eels washed up on the shore of the great Columbia River. Throwing smooth, round stones at the barges that lumbered slowly past;  waving and cheering enthusiastically to the pilots in the tugboats that pushed them on their way.

What I wouldn’t give to go back and spend a week, a day, an hour; reliving the carefree, unencumbered moments of another lifetime.   ‘Country roads, take me home to the place I belong.’

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