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Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Jagger Day

Last Friday, my daughter, Kinsey, and I headed out to Sacramento to support a benefit which was thrown for her baby brother, Jagger.
 Jagger was born with a very serious cardiopulmonary condition and has spent much of his infancy in the Children's Hospital.

It has been a tremendous hardship for his parents, Todd and Lisa, and his big brother, Ty.  I was thrilled when Lisa wrote to tell me that some friends of theirs were throwing a benefit to raise money for Jagger's medical expenses.  There was no question that Kinsey and I would be going.

It was hosted by a small deli/bar right next to Todd's family's dental lab.   When we arrived, the place was alive.
A fantastic band was playing.

A huge spread of donated auction items was laid out.

People everywhere.  I was amazed at the support.  I don't even think I know that many people, let alone would I expect them all to show up.  The event was so moving that Kinsey decided that November 13th was hence forth to be Jagger Day.
When I was a child, I remember being taught that angels waited outside worldly places like movie theaters, bowling alleys, dance clubs and bars.

That if we ventured inside such places, we'd be leaving our angelic protection behind to flirt with the devil.
Don't laugh.

I KNOW many of you are having flashbacks of lectures on worldly wiles followed by a good sing along of, maybe, "This Little Light of Mine".  Maybe?

Anyway, I've come to the conclusion that anyone who says the angels wait outside those doors, has obviously never walked through them...

I saw my share of angels that night.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Veterans Day

"Thank you"
seems trivial in comparison to the gift.
My hand is on my heart
for all of you who serve,
you who love and support them,
and you who have been left behind.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

SUSAN (an intermission from the soapbox)

My dear friend, Susan, called me a few nights ago. Hadn't heard from her in about 8 years.  I had tried looking her up several times but was unsuccessful. Almost couldn't believe I was hearing her voice.

We met my Junior year in high school.  She was my boyfriend's mother.  He was out of the country, so I guess she felt comfort in being near me while he was away.  The feeling was mutual.  I spent many weekends escaping my boarding school with her.  She lived in Berkley so it was easy for her to whisk me away.  I remember driving up highway 17, through the trees, breathing in the temporary freedom.

Susan was genuinely content living simply.  She occupied several dwellings while I knew her.  All of them small, unique and comforting.  My favorite was her "basement" apartment in Berkley Hills.  It was the lower portion of a home on a steep hill, so, though it was a basement unit, it wasn't really underground.  It was one large room with a closet for a kitchen and a large fireplace.  The best feature was the window which spanned the entire front wall.  The view was breathtaking.  Berkley, SF, the Golden Gate and Bay Bridges; felt like you could reach out and touch them.
Her bedding and her dishes were white.  She loved her upright piano, 
which she was just learning to play.  She always made me potato soup because she knew it was my favorite.  She would make up songs about anything and sing them in a mousy hush while we were driving.  She was a poet to the core.  Everything she saw, or did, had poetry in it.  And she wrote it down on whatever medium was available to her in that moment.

She opened my eyes to variety and culture.  We wore out our soles walking the eccentric streets of Berkley and the menagerie of SF; going to an organ concert that she read about in the paper, strolling through Golden Gate Park, and those pastries at that bakery on that side street which I never would have found without her.
On Mother's day one year, we went into the city with no plan at all.  We ate a late breakfast at a greasy diner and laughed a lot, about what, I don't remember.

After brunch we meandered around and landed at a theater.  Huge banners advertised that Le Miserables was showing.  We somehow managed to buy the last two tickets, on the front row.  The musical so deeply moved us that, at intermission, I remember, we bought some bread and walked it across the street to give to a few of the homeless characters sitting there.  When the production was over I clapped so hard that my hands ached.  This is still one of my very most treasured memories.

In 1991, a massive fire took much of the Berkley hills, her home, her piano, my guitar, and all of her poetry included.  She was devastated.  Such an enormous blow to such a fragile, sensitive, soul.

Our bond was uncommon.  Losing her constancy in my life was heartbreaking.

We spoke for at least an hour the other night.  Tears streamed.  She filled me in on bits of her life's story.   After the fire, she was unable to write;  too much pain.  But, eventually, she grew the courage to begin again, and has since written over 1500 verses.  She just recently submitted a book for publishing and wanted me to know.  Gives me tears even as I write this; to know she has carried me in her heart all these years, as I have her.

It's a curious thing how people grow into each other...

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Sex, Love and... "Hold on, I'll Google it"...

One of the motivating factors for me to come to terms with my thoughts on homosexuality, is the possibility that one, or more, of my three children might one day tell me that they are gay.  No, I do not suspect it in any of them at this point, but I have to consider that the potential exists.  Current statistics suggest that anywhere from 7% to 20% of the population is gay.  (This is a difficult element to measure since it relies largely on people's admission to being homosexual.)

So, if one of my children is gay, what will my response be?  More importantly, will they feel safe enough to be honest with me?  I already know, without reservation, that my arms will be wide open.  I will march at the front of every gay pride parade, will advocate and vote for their rights at every opportunity, and will welcome their loves into my heart and home.  Do they know this?  And, how will they respond to each other if one of them is gay?  Will they be compassionate?  There is a good statistical probability that one of their friends will "come out" at some point.  How will my children react?

I think the answer to those questions relies heavily on my attitude and actions NOW.  If I hide the reality of homosexuality, or sexuality in general, from them, then I am choosing to rely solely on external sources for their education.  If I want them to make wise sexual choices and respect themselves and others, then I have to be willing to expose them to what is out there, and be ready for their questions.  If I want them to become compassionate human beings, and humanitarians, then I must be one myself, and they must see it.

Please do not take this to mean that I am presenting my children with sexually explicit, age-inappropriate materials, in order to manipulate them into activists.  I am merely saying that I do not feel the need to shield them from the gay couple walking down the street, and I welcome their very normal questions about sex and love.  We have had many conversations on what "family" is and how every family is unique.  Our own family has non-traditional elements which, together, we have learned to embrace in very positive ways.  I do not handle these conversations perfectly.  I flounder and stutter.  I frequently say, "I'll get back to you on that," and the spend then rest of the day Googling for answers.   At one point, I even directed Kinsey to that book I bought her about her body with all the cartoon drawings in it.  But every new chat is a new opportunity and I do my best to let them know that the door is open.

And, in those discussions, the question, "can boys marry boys?" has presented itself.  Of course the typical preadolescent giggles accompany these conversations, as my boys can hardly imagine marrying girls, let alone other boys.  I answer honestly that some boys do love other boys and want to marry them but they can only do so in certain places because of the laws.  Their sweet, cherub response: "Why? That's so sad!"

Yes, loves, I agree.

To Be Continued...

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