The One Who Got Away

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1. In 1959, an Air Force Pilot in Alaska asked me to come there to marry him. I did not go and married someone else. Love the 2 children from that marriage, however, I have a feeling that my life would have been different had I not made this choice.

2, Houston, TX brought me face to face to what a “seer” had told me would be my soul mate. She told me three things would happen and all three were exactly as she predicted…something wrong with my tire; I had to insist that my car be put up on the lift and my tires examined which revealed a nail; too much air in the tire about half way through my journey; and this person I would recognize when I saw him and indeed I did. Years passed and by not returning his phone calls he slipped on through…

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Stream of Consciousness

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i sit and wondered as the rain falls no t.v. no radio just the sounds of falling rain i wonder where the people are and what they are doing i wonder where my children are and what they are doing where is the family what do people do all day long that are retired do they read or just surf the web the tv what do i want to work i dont think so because i dont like people well enough to work animals are better even though i do not have any if i lived on a farm i would have lots of animals should i go back it is hard to leave because packing is hard no one buys my stuff and i need for it to be gone so i can get on with a simpler life one without a lot of material things what is not…

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Complex Thoughts from the Past

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Grandmother Terrorist in Tennis Shoes

A Daily Journal looking at past, present and future; without focus; without goals; without direction; simple musings from one who lived life as an activist. I could never be an observer. Join me on this journey.

Lived a lifetime of dreams

Saturday, August 28, 2004

On a snowy mid-January morning, I was born in a log cabin beside the big ditch, in a cotton field. My father had a high school education and could have gone to college on a football scholarship but chose instead to raise his brothers’ children; so he married my mother his deceased brothers wife.  His brother died with appendicitis; had a boy, 4, and a girl, 2. So, my father married my mother and had two children of his own; my brother and 2 years later along I came. My oldest brother became a Methodist Minister with 2 Masters….speech and…

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Challenger Remembered

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Today, twenty-five years ago, I was working in Dr. A. Jack Turner’s office on Longwood Drive in downtown Huntsville, AL.  Jack, Donnie, Pat, Carolyn and I were watching as the magnificent white color of Challenger roared upward into the dark blue sky straining to reach the outer bounds of earth and soar into that wonderful world of space.

And then the horrific, yet spectacular, images. The mind unwilling to accept the reality.

Watching the Challenger disintegrate was only surpassed by the image of JFK’s assassination.

Glued to the television for days; sorrow for the lives lost, for the families, for the nation.

It seems that not only did we lose the Challenger and the astronauts but also the spirit of NASA to persevere by continuing to chart a course to the moon and beyond.

We can only hope that our children will keep alive the dream of exploring the last…

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“Our Town”

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Yesterday I woke up homesick. Homesick for a place and time; for parents long dead and buried. Dreams of coffee, fresh brewed; my mom dressed in her robe as she made breakfast; my dad sitting on the stool watching her; glancing out the kitchen window as he smoked.

Funny how memories come unexpectedly in minute’ detail. I could see the plates on the wall; the ashtray from Holiday Inn in the window holding mother’s little white and yellow ducks. The aloe vera in the window. Everyday things that made home, home.

In “Our Town” by Thornton Wilder, the protagonist asks Emily if she could go back what day would she pick. Her reply was an ordinary day….her twelfth birthday. Watching this day, however,  was to painful and she said: Take me back…take me back…we never notice…all this was going on and we never notice.

“Our Town” was the one play…

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as if

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as if we could start the week over as if the mother and father had not met as if they had not married as if they had not had this child would there be a Tuscon AZ event with 6 lives lost and 13 more suffering as if we could have seen

the mind slips into crevices of insanity can the mind whisperers solve this problem cruelty is not something new neither is insanity the media has already labeled him the community has already labeled him the college has already labeled him is there a need then for an attorney for the defense

lives extinguished sadness blankets the nation in a shroud of black

as if civility and kindness can keep a mind from slipping into the crevices of insanity…as if

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>Whites at HBCUs

Just reblogging. To long to read.

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>Introduction
When an institution as a whole better understands the importance of the diversity issue, then diversity will cease having its polarizing effects. It does not have to be a liberal v. conservative objective. It should not be an egalitarian v. elitist goal. It should only be a social goal or a common goal for everyone who values a stable and just society (Fife, J., 1989).

The last half of the twentieth century brought about a significant number of changes to higher education in the United States. One of the most profound changes has been the increase in the diversity of students attending college. The historic Brown v. Board of Education (1954) decision marked the end of de jure racial segregation, thus providing the opportunity to create more racially inclusive campuses (Jones, 1993). Colleges and universities around the country have embarked upon a series of initiatives ranging from recruitment and…

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When the Laughter Dies…

It is 12:44 a.m. and I have yet to go to sleep. So many, many thoughts I never had thought about before. So, I wanted to send them out to the Universe and let them float free among the stars and beyond…
see what I could have done instead of what I did realizing there are no do overs for either of us. He has gone beyond the stars and I am still here for whatever reason God has left me here.
I remember with such clarity first grade and wanting to be the best reader in class. I was five. Mrs. Kuykendall was my first-grade teacher. She was always kind to me. This was before. My second and third grade teacher, Mrs. Boyett was also kind but of course, my little car always needed to be first in line on the top of the black board and I always needed to sit in the front seat. I was a cute little girl, at this time, with red hair and a cute little smile. I do not recognize that little girl and I wonder what happened to her. Where did she go?
Fourth grade came and I think this is correct, Mrs. Cauthen was my teacher. She had a son, Bobby, who was my first little boyfriend. Things changed at this time. Mrs. Cauthen discovered I really could not see the blackboard, so Mother took me to the only Optometrist in Kosciusko, 20 miles away. After testing my eyes, I was almost blind and was given a prescription for these gold rim thick glasses (which I still have). I became the ugly little girl with red hair, freckles, mean temper and thick glasses. The other students, of both sexes, called me names. Today it would be called bullying. No one stood up for me not even my brother or two cousins. It was just me against the world. If I got spanked at school, then my brother told Mother and I was whipped again. Chosen last for every sport because I was not athletic, but it was hard as a child to be chosen last. Clumsy to a fault, however, I could run because we had no car so I always walked everywhere and could run with the wind. I fought back I realize because I was hurt, and no one was there for me except the teachers because I was the smartest child in class. This also made me very unpopular. By this time, I did not care.
From the fourth grade through the eighth grade, I have no memory except one. Mr. Holmes, the Coach, taught eighth grade math. I almost failed because he did not know how to teach, my opinion. He left his wife and 3 children for the English teacher which was scandalous at the time. I do not know how his children felt about that even though I spent many a night in their home. They must have been hurt. We never talked about it. They must have liked me OK. I liked them.
The next memory is a new math teacher in ninth grade. He taught Trigonometry and I made an A because it was so easy the way the taught it. No one liked me for that either.
Lining students up in the hall to fight at recess was a favorite activity of mine. Of course, the principal, my uncle by marriage, who left my aunt with two children, for this painted lady from I do not know where. Anyway, He would send home a note by my brother about my activities and I would be switched again, and I would have to get the switch.
Ran out of books to read, having read all they had in the school library, my grandmother let me read her books. She had one brother who was a doctor and one who was an attorney plus the latest novels so I read things way above my reading level and loved every minute as much as I hated getting on that school bus every morning and hiding as far back in the bus and making myself small as I could hoping no one would notice me.
My Mom sold eggs to pay for my piano lessons. Ms. Mary McClintock use to hit my hands if I did not play pieces perfectly. It was so cold in that little room upstairs above the auditorium. It really hurt so I always knew my lessons perfectly practicing for hours on end at home.
The other two other memories from high school, my first cousin who was one year ahead of me always wanted to make higher grades then I even though we were not in the same grade we still were in the same class for history and we made the same score on all the test. One day she proposed that we deliberately fail even though we did not know what failing meant but I agreed so I just turned in a blank paper but she, being who she really was, turned in her perfect paper. The history teacher was my uncle, so he called me in and asked me why I had not answered the questions because he had to give me an F. I told him the story and he decided to give me the test orally and I answered all the questions perfectly, so he changed the F to an A, much to my cousin’s chagrin. It could have cost me the valedictorian spot in my class because there was another student who was extremely poor but very smart. And the last and worst memory was when then were adding up the grades for whom would be the valedictorian. All eight of us graduating seniors, four girls and four boys, were in the small typing room. I was typing because I loved to type and having fast fingers from music it was very easy when Daivd Dodd , one of my tormentors, said very mean like, ‘You know Ruby is going to be valedictorian,” and I said, “no.I will be”.
Then one of the girls asked me what I planned to do and I said go to college to be a teacher David sneered and said “You cannot even talk plain so you cannot be a teacher.” and they all laughed.
I was valedictorian; Ruby was salutatorian. She might have won had she been able to attend as much school as I had. We will never know.
I remember giving the same speech as my brother had given two years before as valedictorian and going as fast so I could to get it over with. Of course, the entire thing was memorized just as my senior music recital where I played for an hour without any music.
Then the last small victory…Mr. Waugh, I think said to my mother, “We are glad your last child has graduated. Now, maybe some of our children can win something.”
What happened to Bobby, I do not remember?
He left at the end of eight grade, I am told, but I do not ever remember seeing him after fourth grade. Selective memory; blocking unhappiness; protecting myself against evil. I do not know and now it only matters because now I understand what shaped some of my behavior. I became a fighter from thenceforth.
The laughter died when I went back for a high school reunion. My pretty long red hair, contact lenses and a teacher as well as many other things I accomplished, for example, acting the part of a German spy in an Army Training Film, directing plays in a much larger town….
No, the laughter died when I stood and made a short speech to thank them for what they said to me because it motivated me to do all the things I had done because after a while their mocking laughter died and I did all these things for me, the person I should have been in school. The laughter died….
I cry for that little girl who lost her way during fourth grade.

Comments are turned off. This is not a pity party intended for participation; no one was invited to this party. It is a reckoning with me extremely late in life. It is 2:10. Perhaps I can now sleep. The contrast with Freddie is very private. I must think about them a little more.

Where Do I Go From Here?

Would you tell me, please, which way I ought to go from here?’
‘That depends a good deal on where you want to get to,’ said the Cat.
‘I don’t much care where –‘ said Alice.
‘Then it doesn’t matter which way you go,’ said the Cat.
‘–so long as I get somewhere,’ Alice added as an explanation.

Lewis Carroll, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland

 

Kathy dropped me off at home. After being with Freddie at his home since July, everything seemed not real anymore. Why do I have so much stuff? and where should I sit?  where is everyone? anyone? No, it is just me and Freddie’s ashes. My thoughts are still back in California. Freddie would be there. This is just all a dream.

____________________________

I thought I would be the one to plan the service for him. I had contacted two of his church friends and asked to meet with them on Monday to get things worked out. We had to wait for Freddie’s family to come from across country. So, I thought I would be the one to get everything together. Then, Dan Baker called me and very coldly told me that the wife was planning the service and he could not meet with me. Stunned, I hung up.

What to do? Nothing. All I had to do was wander around his home and wait for my daughter to arrive. It was a long wait and when she got there finally, she quickly informed the wife to “step back” that she was taking over, being the executor of his estate.

During my wait, the wife tried to evict me from the house twice by email. Once by her and once by her attorney. Fortunately, I had read about eviction laws in the State of CA and had advised the attorney of my rights and asked him if he had missed the day they taught that in law school. I was not leaving until I was ready to leave and not without Freddie’s  ashes. I have no idea how I held myself together against such evil forces, or so I thought. She did come and change the locks on the doors, even after I had given her all the keys and said it was not necessary for her to go to the trouble. She could come and go as she pleased with one exception. I needed to be notified before she came.

I remember the Memorial Service. It seemed unreal. I sat on the back row, not wanting to sit near his estranged wife, who acted like the grieving widow, in my opinion. Perhaps she was sad. My daughter introduced the family. She left me off the ones there because I was on the back row and she did not quite know what to do about everything. I felt sad for her being caught up in such difficult surroundings. The wife could not come and see him while he was alive. Why did she have to show up now? For appearances sake? Everyone who knew me and Freddie knew the situation. Strange that families can be so divided.

I sat with Wilma, his caretaker. There were others there whom had been with me when he died. They were the only ones who mattered to me other than my daughter and her family. I remember Ric singing, Freddie’s friend. I had never met him. I remember Dan Baker, yes, the same Dan Baker, saying something, I do not know what he said nor anything else. I remember his best friend, Craig Smith came from Knoxville, TN. There were others who came, i.e.his half sister and brother; his dad and step-mom; the CEO of the hospital, a friend of Freddie’s as well; Marcello, his friend who owned a shipping company. I could look at the guest register and see who was there but I have not done so. It is not time.

Alone in a crowd. The reception yet to go. The beautiful sunshine pouring though the windows of the Chapel. Wishing for Freddie to be there.

The Chapel

img_1503

_______________________

Only a few days ago we were together. Yet, Jackie had asked that I make photos of his body. I said I would and made arrangements to see him before he was cremated.

The funeral director met me and showed me where Freddie was…there on a long cold table with only his hospital gown on. Why had they not asked me for some clothes to dress him? Why did I have to see him this way? My broken heart was now even more shattered. Such a humane thing to do to dress him. He would have wanted to be dressed.

I made the photos. I held his hand and touched his forehead. Then, I bent over and kissed the top of his forehead as I had done every morning as he left for school. I was saying my last goodbye to his earthly body. He was already far, far away, well and happy. He could not take me. I left knowing that this image was seared into my heart and brain. Why had that not dressed him?

_______________________________

To smile without feeling. To Be; and somehow get through this day, this Memorial Service in CA. I thought only two more to go. One in Huntsville and then the last one. Finally, it was over and we went back to Freddie’s house, Jackie, Jim, Christoper and I. His son came for a little while but did not stay in his childhood home, going to his mother’s apartment instead. We would remain there until Jackie, Jim and Christoper left and I had the ashes.

__________________________________

I paced the floors and went from room to room?  I had lost so much weight, I felt lighter than air. Maybe I could find Freddie somewhere. He seemed so close, yet so far. I wanted to go back to his house. I did not belong here without him. Did I have any friends? To whom could I talk about Freddie?

Leaving California: My Soul Took to the Sky

The Driver crossed the railroad tracks and Freddie’s house disappeared from my physical, visual sight forever. I would have my photographs and memories.  I asked him to drive me through Felton and Scotts Valley for one more look at the places Freddie and I had gone together: the post office where he had cast his last presidential vote, the shop were we purchased honey and essential oils, bread and other items on into Scotts Valley past the Walgreens where the last medicine was purchased and the K-Mart where his last Christmas Gift had been frantically purchased the day before he died, as well as the warm clothes I had gotten to wear having taken none in July from Huntsville and then onto the freeway speeding to San Jose.

When we arrived, the Driver helped me and my precious son into the airport where he left me and wished me well. I thanked him and smiled as bravely as I knew how as he departed. Alone now to wait only with my thoughts to keep me company before I boarded and headed to Dallas/Fort Worth. There I would catch the connecting flight to Huntsville. I wondered how many times Freddie had waited there alone and what he had thought about while he waited. I wondered how many times he had waited there during the last six years of knowing he was dying praying that he would live; how many times he waited there to fly to see another doctor, only to be told he would not live.

I thought of the early life of my son and how I had failed him in not pursuing many other doctors to discover what was wrong with him. Had I not given up, Freddie would have had a life so different and possibly long. We never know, do we? But I gave up searching and now Freddie was dead.

The flight attendant came and informed me that I would board first. I was surprised, however, I had to let security know that I had human remains in the metal box I had in my suitcase. I had to tell them it was my son.

So, I boarded first with the flight attendant taking the suitcase from me and storing it in the overhead bin. I was rather anxious that Freddie would not be happy up in that bin but the carry-on was to large to place under the seat. As I settled in for the flight, the Captain came out to talk with me and ask if I needed anything. He removed his Captain’s hat and held my hand when he told me how sorry he was and said if I needed anything to let him know. He also advised me, I would be first to leave the plane in Dallas/Fort Worth and someone would stay with me until I boarded the plane home. I thanked him for his kindness and said I did not need anything but I would let him know, if I did.

The ride, this cool December day, was smooth. I watched the clouds and sky wondering if Freddie were with me in spirit. I think I prayed all the way. Sometimes it escapes me exactly how I made it home that day.

We arrived in Dallas. The Captain came on the speaker and asked that everyone to remained seated. Word had spread throughout the plane. I do not know how. There was complete silence as my bag was handed down and I was escorted off the plane. I thanked the Captain and crew as I departed with my escort to the next waiting area for the final leg of my trip.

No, I did not have to go to the bathroom; no, I did not want anything to eat. I had my water from Freddie’s house. That was all I wanted. We waited in silence as I began to cry; it was a short wait before my next flight arrived. I was handed off to the next flight attendant and the next Captain to repeat the same in Dallas/ Fort Worth as in San Jose before leaving for Huntsville.

Everyone was so kind and I could hear Freddie’s voice “Mom, be kind,” when I would be upset with the doctor’s and not so kind at times. I would have liked to scream, “Freddie, I want them to save you.” I guess I thought screaming at them would get the message through and later realizing what my Mom would tell me, “You catch more flies with honey.” Perhaps they would have been kinder if I had displayed sorrow for my impending loss, rather than anger.

Once again, the flight was smooth as I kept to myself staring out the window wondering how I would get through the next days without Freddie. I knew my best friend would be there to meet me. Then what?

The house would be empty. I would be alone. The ashes would go on his bed. He would be home.

…to be continued…