Monday, February 25, 2019

On a wagon in a field

And, the movie of the year is......Green Book!!! Oh, yes, I cheered. We saw the movie and fell in love with it. Not only did it take me to the past but also to the present. The acting was superb. The film well written. A true story brought to light. A story of us.

Four brothers were born in Piqua, Ohio. (So was I) John Jr, Herbert, Harry and Donald were sons of a local barber who founded a barbershop quartet called the Four Kings of Harmony. His sons learned from their father just as we did from our parents. This vocal group grew into one of the longest-lasting oldie acts in American popular music, entertaining audiences for decades. Even before Pentatonix began making their own instrumental sounds, this oldie group made their own. In the late 20's this group charmed radio audiences. This quartet went on to record with Bing Crosby, Ella Fitzgerald, Louis Armstrong. In 1943 their Paper Doll became one of the biggest hits of the decade with 12 weeks at the top of the charts with six million records sold.

June and I got into a discussion about where Myrtle Mack had lived and about the house across from my Uncle Bob's house on Yount Road where I was sure her son Don moved with his lovely wife Nancy. "Remember the field between that house and Uncle Bob's? It was where a wagon was pulled into the field for the singers to stand on," I said. Dad and his quartet sang warm-up for that group of boys from Piqua. June came back with, "You know Dad's quartet (a group of young men lead by Mr. Paulsgrove) travelled with them. They sang mostly in churches. Dad got a serious ear infection and had to come back home for surgery." Well, yes, I did know that, but it raised a question, especially after having seen Green Book. "Dad's group stayed in one hotel and the Mills Brothers stayed in another or maybe a tent." What?!?!? I thought that was only in the south!!! All these years I had never thought about it.

The bus pulled into the driveway. They came to do laundry at our house. We girls were thrilled to have them. When they found me in the basement singing along with my record player (which was a daily occurrence), Marva Jo Dixon lifted me onto her lap, and the girls joined me in song. Often June and I have questioned why Mom and Dad never had them stay in our house which was always open to anyone we knew or didn't know when they needed a place to sleep and have a good meal. These beautiful young women from Piney Woods Boarding School in Mississippi were not allowed to sleep in our beds. Oh, they used our outhouse and used our old ringer washer, but did not stay in the house. When their bus was parked at the church, they had no access to the inside bathroom but used the outhouses. A school based on Christian principles with students who sang in church after church were not as welcomed into homes as a white group of students would have been. It was a day and age. And, it was wrong. And, it was not the south.

The old belief that we are of different races is quickly coming to an end. Genetically, we are all the same. The colors of our skin are determined by how melatonin is affected through our genes and affected by where we live. Research the information. It is fascinating. We all began in Africa. We are all related. There is no denying it. We found this more clearly when my son did his DNA. He is indeed .01% black. He is also .02% Jewish. Our genetic makeup over the thousands of years has been influenced by mutated genes and the blending of cultures. We all started in the same place and are one race. Wouldn't it be so much better to look at the positive things we have in common rather than the differences?

Green Book brought it all home. I stepped away from that sign I saw on a bathroom door in Georgia back in the 60's: Coloreds Only. I opened the back door of my life and saw that discrimination was not only the south but right outside my door on a bus and in a field on a wagon. We can always learn and grow. I thought that we in the 60's would change race discrimination for all time. Yet, we didn't, did we? Maybe my .01% is crying out to have a voice that began for all of us in Africa.

Sunday, February 10, 2019

Thoughts of love

Bump ba da da, (one note down) bump ba da da, (another note down) bump ba da da, (up one note) bump ba da da. Oh, come on, you know the song. I'll just bet you played it over and over. My friend Vivian and I played this duet so often that I'm sure the piano could have played it by itself. We sang it in the car. We sang it with our friends. The sound is immediately recognized. Oh, yes.....

Heart and soul, I fell in love with you
Heart and soul, the way a fool would do, madly
Because you held me tight
And stole a kiss in the night - Hoagy Carmichael

Valentine's Day. Ah, the love that pours from our hearts for our loved ones. Candy, flowers, little tokens and mementos of the love we embrace in our hearts. (At this point if you were here in this room, you would hear the screech of the needle flying across the record. Scratch!!!!) Wait a minute!!!! My love does not come from my heart. It is really centered in the brain. My brain may tell my heart to beat a little faster and my palms to become sweaty, but it is the brain not the heart that sends those messages. All the heart does is keep the blood pumping while our brains embrace thoughts of love. They hold memories of loved ones. They know what love is because they create the feelings. That darn heart just pumps and pumps while the brain takes on the great task of love.

I realize that a brain posted on cards or sweet verses about the brain are not necessarily pleasing; however, maybe through a contest, we could find a lovely symbol of the true keeper of love. I can see it now. Songs about the yearning brain, a brain burning with love, a brain that you are willing to give away on Valentine's Day. Ah, yes, it makes my heart, er brain, sing.

However, you would think the brain could be a little smarter in helping you not to make mistakes in love. And, maybe it does with whatever side of the brain is saying this must be love, the other side is saying not so fast! You would think that the brain would make infatuation impossible where instead it makes the heart beat faster and that rush of blood that blinds the tender heart, er brain. Ah, it is something to ponder. And, as usual, I ponder the ridiculous.

As you can see, this transition from heart to brain is a bit difficult. It was in medieval times that the heart shape came into being, so we will have a long time to change the concept of brain over heart. I close with this:

Bump ba da da, (one note down) bump ba da da, (another note down) bump ba da da, (up one note) bump ba da da. Brain and soul, I fell in love with you.

Sending love to you on Valentine's Day. Love from my...oh, well.

Sunday, February 3, 2019

Defining age

Defining age. Oh, yes, I grew up knowing about defining ages. I have heard it and seen it in action from when I was a small child to the present.

When I was growing up, I had an older male cousin who married late. Most boys where I lived were married in their late teens or early 20's. I remember my parents saying that he was a confirmed bachelor. It was too late for him to find love and make a family, since bearing children after mid 30's was dangerous. Women by the same token married young and were considered spinsters if they weren't married after a certain age. Defining age.

Back then children were not immune to this age thing. Children were to be seen and not heard. You really didn't have a valid thought of your own until you were at least around the 5th grade. If you were a talkative child or one who had an opinion, you were maybe ignored or the adult nodded and smiled. We were not considered having minds that took in info and had opinions. We were just children. Impatience with an over active child was usually met with discipline instead of understanding. It was something passed on from another age.

Young women back in the 50's and 60's had little future beyond being a wife, secretary, nurse or teacher. Even then, women working with children at home was frowned on. Women did not think in terms of careers. It was a defining age.

Defining age. My mother thought that clothing should be dark and not 'frivolous' after the age of 40. She seemed to wear navy blue often. I noticed that other older women were doing the same. Their clothing became more dated, and they didn't seem to care about changing with the times. The hairstyle was the same as it had always been. When my mother was older, her daughters encouraged her to wear bright prints and pants. She loved it.

As a young parent, I tried to follow everything I was taught just as my mother had from hers. I didn't think outside the box. I was defined by the past. Those messages that were embedded in my head had me on a path that would later lead to navy blue if I didn't change. It was then that I decided to define age. In my forties, I made the conscious decision to open my mind to new possibilities and to break away from the confines of my own past. My idea about parenting and grand parenting changed. The only thing that had held me back in the past was myself. I found that as this new awareness expanded so too did the gifts that were given to my life.

Last week Loren and I were playing basketball with Nolan and Emma. Now I was never good at the game and not sports-minded in the least. Being 71+ years old and having just had a bad fall, I was a little gun shy of running around guarding a 6 year old. I envisioned all the old people in my growing up years who sat back and watched kids. Those who didn't talk to children, because either they didn't care or didn't know how. One thing I have learned and have experienced is that no matter how uncomfortable or scared it makes you, if you don't try to be involved, you short change your grandkids and yourself. I definitely could not keep up with Nolan. He is like a crab, skittering side to side with the ball; however, he (and his grandma) were quite surprised when she made a few baskets. I had so much fun! I never played basketball with my kids and missed that experience. Loren said that even if I was only able to sit on the sidelines, I would still bounce and toss a ball. I have been awkward at times in new experiences with my family, but I will not let my age and discomfort define me.

We are defining age. You and I. There is less navy blue and black and more red and green. on me and my friends. There is no old age in our lives. We drop everything to listen to the children. We are capable accepting new challenges, learning new games, finding new ways to help our children. We are not letting age define us. There truly is no defining age. There are only defining people.

Sunday, January 13, 2019

Face in the mirror

On Facebook, pictures abound regarding this challenge of then and now. 'Challenges'. I laugh when I see them.

I could post a couple of pictures. Yes, I am a bit lumpier than I was years ago. I have a lot more white hair. The years have accumulated, and I show my age. And, I am beautiful.

Don't take that the wrong way. I can look in the mirror and see what could be there, but instead I see a woman who has had many blessings in her life. I see a woman who has felt deep pain and sadness. I see a woman who has loved and lost and loved again. I like that woman. Inside her are memories preserved, love of family that makes her glow, a heart that she wears on her sleeve and is ready to share it with anyone she meets. Yep, she is a pretty good looking lady.

I don't need a challenge. My life has been a challenge. I am perfect and getting more perfect all the time.

Tuesday, January 8, 2019

Be a power

When I grew up, there were two walls. One was the Great Wall of China which did not stop their enemies. The other was the Berlin Wall, which we cheered when it was brought down. We have no walls separating our border countries. We do not consider those countries and the people in them as enemies. The problem is not with the Mexican people. It is with a disease that has invaded our country. The money in this country and the evil here feed the drug cartels. Terrorists, drug smugglers, those seeking to hurt our country, use our country, will still find a way in.

When I was a child, row fences separating field from field and neighbor from neighbor were torn down. There was more rich soil to till, and neighbors learned to work together. Nothing is accomplished by anger and hate. Nothing is accomplished with barriers. Only by tearing them down.

This wall between Mexico and the US is a diversion by someone thinking we are dumb enough to fall for his repetitious folly. His game plan (which he uses all the time) is boring and tiresome. We are a nation made up of immigrants. My family and yours. This country became the home of slaves, not by choice, but this country is theirs as much as mine. They, in fact, are more deserving for what they suffered. Shame on those who participate in atrocious acts against any of these.  

We need to get past this arrogance and realize that we are no better than any other country, any other people. Our soldiers have died for this country and other countries. They fought together for the greater good. Hopefully, we learn that we do not need to kill to make a difference. We do not need to rule. Lives have been lost because of power hungry, arrogant people. Shame on us. We should do better. 

Let there be peace and peaceful ways of living in a world that belongs to all of us. Don't be a pawn. Be a power.

Thursday, December 27, 2018

A year of change

2019. As a kid I never dreamed I would live to see 2000. I don't know if I couldn't count or if I was just planning on a short life. However, the number seemed overwhelming. Now we face one more year then we hit 2020.

What did I discover in the past year? Well, obviously I discovered my new husband. For all intent and purpose, I think this must be the top perk of the year. Next, we spent every Wednesday having lunch with the twins and the first grade. We learned that all kids need hugs and someone to care. We had our ups and downs and learned more from the downs than we did from the ups.

For all of us, it has been a year of fear. I found that many people want to be lead rather than find their own answers. It reminds me of how wives always followed what their husbands and community expected rather than think and act for themselves. Through this same vein, it was time for the degradation and abuse of women to have a voice. I grew up in times when jokes about sex and women were considered funny though degrading. Boys were raised by men who thought being a man was the highest honor. Stand up and be a man. Well, we women said, "Stand up and be a woman." Perhaps our daughters and granddaughters will be allowed to change the world for the better and encourage sons to know what it is listen and to have empathy and compassion.

To my dismay, I feel like we have regressed back to the 60's and even earlier. Racism, prejudice, hate, intolerance seem to be on the rise. I cannot criticize anyone for their color or their sexual choices. I cannot judge anyone for their religious beliefs. I will protect the environment but  to my best to fight  climate change. I learned that I can make a difference. I can listen and learn. I can be a leader and not a follower. That was 2018.

Many times I have thought to stop writing. Yes, I am an opinionated woman. There is a voice in me that just will not be silenced. When I write something a bit controversial, it is because a raging voice tells me I have to write about it. I am led by that voice that allows the words to fall on the page. It is not my voice. I have learned to listen and not to be afraid of my words.

I got a year older and found that I think of the end more than ever before. I believe in this mantra for aging adults as we enter 2019: If you have health issues, talk to your family or see the doctor and tell him. Do not let your health go downhill so your family must do for you. You have a choice in that decision. Don't let them down. Do not be a burden. Take care of yourself, so you can stay as healthy as possible. Eat well. You won't live long if you don't. Your family needs to know the status of your health. Go to the dentist and the doctor for yearly exams. Do not SELF-MEDICATE. Stop feeling sorry for yourself. Be active in your well-being, because there are people who want you healthy and around for a very long time. The decision is yours. Aging doesn't mean that you get to be irritable and cranky. Life is a gift. Don't waste it. Embrace it. You are capable. This year give your family the greatest gift you can. Take care of yourself.

Yes, a year of change. In 2019, I promise to walk more and eat more veggies. I promise to love more deeply and more people. I promise to take care of the environment. I promise to be more active and not inactive in the things happening in our country and on our earth. I promise to give you, my readers, the best of me. Many blessings be yours in the New Year.

Monday, December 17, 2018

This is the season

A Jewish baby was born in a manger to an unwed mother and an adopting father. Contrary to what is celebrated, this baby was born in the warm months of August or September when the sheep were returned to the fields and when more than likely a census would have been taken, so travelers were not hampered by winter weather.

My friend wrote, "Why are most songs Christ based this time of the year?" His celebration of Hanukkah has just ended. A time of family and remembrance of their own religious freedom. A sect into which God decided to send a baby. Some other friends will soon be celebrating Kwanzaa. A celebration of people, community.  Throughout the winter months, there are celebrations of numerous beliefs and cultures. A season rich with love of humankind, a season of celebrating the earth, a season of celebrating a higher deity, a season of celebrating one another.

I know. We Christians have a tendency to make this all about us, but Christmas isn't about us. It is about what that manger represents, what we learned from that baby turned man. It is about love without judgment. I am no better than anyone else. That is what I learned. I learned that sinner or saint, they are loved. I learned that embracing man/womankind is my task. I learned not to judge and to embrace all cultures. I was raised to believe I could make the world a better place. I grew to understand that not everyone had to believe what I believed. My journey was my own and not to expect others  to fit what I believe.

When I see that baby in our nativity, I see the birth of one who would not want adoration. He would turn away from wanting anything for himself.  He would want us to be active in this world in the name of love. His parables tell us over and over about helping others. He does not ask us to idolize him. He asks us to include everyone. He was Jewish. He never denied that fact. His parents and grandparents were Jewish. He was a dark skinned man with black hair, not the blue-eyed brunette we see so often. He asked that we believe in him and, in essence, believe in the God in every human being.

I remember being teased once for having a new creative hair style. We have a tendency to look at differences instead of offering understanding and love. God came to us in many different ways. None are wrong when they all lead back to Him. Do I say "happy holidays?" Indeed, for I respect all people and wish them the happiest of the season that brings love and laughter into their lives.

So I say to you, "warmest, loving wishes" in this season of hope and love. Be that shining light in the world that brings joy to all around you. This is the season.