Sunday, December 22, 2019

Happy Birthday Bess

Happy birthday, Mom. In a few days you would have been turning 115.

I never expected you to become that old, but when you died a few days after your 57th birthday, I had not had enough time with you. I had two young children at the time, but there were two more to come and I don’t like the fact that you never knew them or any of your dozen great grandkids that they produced. You would have been the ultimate grand and great grandmother.

I remember you:

Because of your joy in life: Whoever said the Brits didn’t have a sense of humor? Yours was the best.  You had a sparkle in your eye, an infectious smile, and you weren’t above fluttering your eyelids. You would have loved laughing with your grandkids and telling them stories of your youthful exploits such as buying a forbidden motorcycle and vacationing in South Africa.

 Because of your life journey: It took you from Harold Wood in Essex County to London for secretarial work where you met an American during his first week in your country and married him less than a year later.  Little did you know that you would follow him to the U.S. even though he had promised to live in England forever. That you would bear him three children, the last one born when you were in your forties and not so happy to redo the infant phase another time and in a strange country.

Because you managed to remain loyal to your homeland: You refused to become an American citizen at the same time embracing the country where you lived and making lifelong friends in the U.S.

Because of your love of sports: When your front teeth were knocked loose with a hockey stick, your mother pressed them back into your mouth and told you to put pressure on them. You always had slightly protruding front teeth but they were your own.

Because you learned to live so many miles away from all your birth family: You welcomed your mother to Seattle for a long stay. She arrived as one of a very few passengers on a freighter that took six weeks to travel through the Panama Canal. She was a welcome addition to our family for those months.

Because you were a loyal friend to so many people: You lighted up their lives. You were a friend in need. You were a talented cook and hostess and always ready for a party.

Because you provided a rudder, a stabilizing influence for your husband: You stuck by him when his itchy feet and issues with authority caused him some workplace  problems that caused moves that were not always welcome.

Enough already. Happy birthday Bess. I remember a little poem you shared:

Here lies a woman who always was tired.
She lived in a house where help wasn’t hired.
Don’t mourn for me now.
Don’t mourn for me never.
I’m going to do nothing forever and ever.

Thursday, December 5, 2019

A few words of wisdom from my fridge

Kofi Annan

It was time to clean up the messy collection on my refrigerator door. In addition to a bunch of photos, here is what I found:

“Kofi Annan’s deep well of grace, humility, and calm energy set him apart. Such was his seemingly boundless vigor and the gravitas he exuded, that his death, at the age of 80 on August 18 (2018) shocked all who knew and loved him.

A career diplomat, originally from Ghana, Annan led the U.N. from 1997 to 2006, one of the most difficult periods in its history. He crisscrossed the world in an effort to bridge divides after the September 11, 2001 attacks. One can only imagine the pressure he was under, yet it never affected his demeanor.

After he retired from the U.N., his peacemaking continued through the efforts of his foundation and, later, as chairman of the Elders, an independent global leaders’ group. He understood on a visceral level that true peace resides within us all; that justice and human rights are not far-flung concepts for war-torn countries, but reside in our homes and our communities; and that childe marriage is as abhorrent as bombmaking.

Over the years I came to regard Annan as a wiser, younger brother. Five years ago in Cape Town, he spoke of the need for societies to” embrace diversity as a source of strength.” The fact that Annan was a product of Africa did us especially proud, but he could not be defined by his Africanness. He embodied the global citizen. For him, there was no them, no other—just us.”
Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu

“The American male doesn’t mature until he has exhausted all other possibilities.”  Wilfred Sheed

“If we come to think that the nursery and the kitchen are the natural sphere of women, we have done so exactly as English children come to think that a cage is the natural sphere of a parrot—because they have never seen one anywhere else.”  
George Bernard Shaw

“Democracy never lasts long. It soon wastes, exhausts, and murders itself. There was never a democracy that did not commit suicide.” John Adams

“I would like to see us overcome our tribal divisions and begin to think and act as if we were one family. That would be real globalization.” Arthur Clark