Sunday, October 23, 2016

I voted

I voted thinking of those who do not have the freedom to do so. I voted thankful for the democracy I live in. I voted as a proud woman who is allowed this right to do so because of the struggle, the fight for the right by courageous women who came before. I voted thinking.....

Saturday, October 15, 2016

I am one of you

She reached for the heavy stack of books. The teacher said, "Let me help you with those." He put his arms around her back and pulled her close. The 8th grader suddenly felt the admiration for this teacher turn into fear. She felt nauseous. Wrenching free, she ran from the room trembling, hopped onto her bicycle and rushed home. Her story was never told. Who would believe her? Who would stand by her? She had no words for what happened, because no one ever talked about it. She was me.

 A woman was beaten. Everyone knew it. No one talked about it. No one went to her rescue. She suffered his misuse. When he died, she lived in poverty. She had no means of support. Her children were raised on her love and the kindness of others. She did not ask for the life she got. She expected more. She was a family friend.

The woman saved her pennies. She hid them in the baseboard. Her parents wanted her to marry this man of substance. They wanted to see her well taken care of. He was a hard man. She hated him. She took her pennies and tried to escape. When she missed the train, she returned home to a life she did not want. She was my grandmother.

The child was used again and again by her father. No one came to her rescue. She had a child and was just a child herself. The child was ragged and did not smell very good. Other children stood away and teachers failed to acknowledge and parents failed to act. She was a friend.

She was 18. She left the farm and went to work in a classy office for NCR. She was naïve and a bit scared of the world she had entered. The vice president in the office took notice of her. He flirted with her, always stood too close to her and asked for her address. Something felt wrong. She gave him a bogus phone number and prayed he would leave her alone. I was young but already knew the signs.

She was in middle school when her brother was killed in a car accident. She was a senior in high school when she handed me a note: "I want to die."  I called the girl making her promise not to do harm to herself. The girl confided that she had been abused by the older brother. She had been used and abused. No one knew. She had no words for it. She was torn between the aching pain of loss intermixed with the hate of her abuser. 

There are so many more stories just from my life story. Inappropriate touching, lewd behavior, dirty stories and language that proved that the speaker had no respect for a woman. And, we women laughed it off and hid our disgust maybe we didn't feel we deserved more. I heard it as a child. I hear it as an adult. But now I can say to all of this, IT IS TIME TO STOP! I stand up for all of those children and adult women and men who have been used and abused. It is time for respect in all ways of men and women. It is time!

You are not weak. You can find help sources. You can talk to those you trust. We can stand up and say "no more". I have been a woman who has seen it all. I think perhaps that is what has made me a person who naturally could work with kids at risk. I may not have been there for you, my friends, but I am here for you now. You are all worthy women who are smart, strong and who can make change. I know because I am one of you.

Saturday, October 8, 2016

For adults of all ages

Old. Young. It does not matter. Parent. Single. Still does not matter. Child. Yep, that matters. Cannot deny that we are all children. Some of us have lost our parents. Some are fortunate (even though at time it feels far from fortunate) still having parents with us.

Fall is here. It is a grey, drizzly time of year. More time is spent indoors. Lives get busy with school activities, sports, travel. Parents are busy caring for family. Fall is here.

There is a benefit of living into these older years of our lives. We have an awakening that we never had before, and we sometimes shake ourselves realizing that we should have noticed when we were younger. We learn that there is no money, hobby, sport, career, anything that is more important than those we love. We learn this lesson because of loss. I, for one, will make this confession, a truth that came to light when I sat by my father's deathbed. I held his hand feeling the last moments we would share. I held it so tight, trying to absorb what I could. I left Darke County coming home to Oregon a different person. I came home with a tremendous sense of loss. Loss of parent, of childhood. I was oblivious most of my life to the gifts I had been given.

We all get busy with our lives. Raising children. Making a living. Striving to reach our dreams. It takes time and energy. The regiment of everyday is overwhelming. I know. I have been there. I ran the race. I had the clean home and the neat and tidy children. I was the perfect wife (with all my imperfections). I had no time to think or act. No, wait, I had the time. Anything beyond my own life was an inconvenience. I did not realize that the living should never be an inconvenience.

Please hear my words. The time with those who have raised you, grown up with you (family, neighbors, church family, etc.) is limited. You cannot get any of it back. This is the time of the year that can be very lonely for those who love you. Even the toughest of men and women need loving attention, to be in the thoughts of their loved ones, to feel a loving touch. Those who have lost partners hold on to precious memories. They have an emptiness that greets them every day. Those who are struggling with a partner who is failing are frightened and lonely. We all age. We all experience it. So will you.

We parents/grandparents will not ask for help. It just comes with the 'parent' territory. We take care of and bulk at being cared for. We will struggle and not want to make our struggles your worry. We will protect you at our own expense. It comes with the territory.

A visit does not take long. A trip to the grocery store. A fall bouquet. A batch of cookies. A child to hold. A phone call. An invite to lunch. Anything that says, 'you are not forgotten'. Being included is a lifeline for someone who is alone most of the time.

So will you help me out?  Someday you will be older and experience loss. Someday you might be the only one of your family who still remembers the past. Someday you will be thrilled when someone else cares. Time is ticking. Embrace those you love. There is still time.