Saying this has been a difficult week is an understatement. The world we live in today is not the world in which I have lived the majority of my life. I really did grow up in a town with a little white church. I also grew up during a time when “duck and cover” and the fear of mass nuclear destruction were very real. Yet we always felt safe enough to play kickball in the circle on our street. We always felt safe enough to get excited when we heard the bells on the Good Humor truck and search for lightening bugs when it became dark during the summer. We lived through the Cuban Missile crisis and the assassination of JFK but felt safe enough to go to The Valley Tea Shoppe after school, hang out at the library with the cannon out front and the bowling alley in the basement. Our mischief was benign ~ confined to sneaking cigarettes at Shu Swamp and in the cemetery before choir practice. Nothing was perfect, there are always problems, but our environment on a daily basis was very safe and very secure. Not so today.
I have friends who still live where I grew up. A girl and boy I went to high school with got married and raised their family in the house I grew up in. I went to visit them many years ago and they showed me the circuit breaker in the basement still said “Janet’s Room.” It’s nice to know that once in a while you really can go home again and have something about it be the same. Even if that something is only a circuit breaker.
As life went on we all went our separate ways and went through the roller coaster we call life, for the most part, independent of one another. Yet many of us found each other again here on Facebook and became “friends.” We weren’t all close friends in high school, but I can honestly say I feel we have become closer friends now and a lot of that is because we share the close connection of our time spent in our idyllic home town.
When the sh*t hit the fan in my life, as I think by this stage of life it has for most of us, I could lose my footing ~ sometimes literally ~ but never my faith. I came by said faith both logically and ethereally. Some of you who will read this knew my Mom. Others know my Mom through Facebook because I post about her. Emmy died in 1977 following a short battle with breast cancer. The summer before she passed away I was home for my brother’s graduation from college. We had no idea she was ill but I had an ominous feeling someone close to me was going to die. Years later an ex would call me “strega” ~ maybe he truly thought I was a witch, but that’s a whole other story. My Mom and I were talking about my fear of losing a loved one when she said “when we grieve it’s for us left behind because we will miss the person and not see them but we should be glad for them because they are in a much better place.” My Mom was a truly faith-filled woman. As she was going through her brief battle in the Catholic hospital ~ the same hospital where I was born~ a nun/nurse told me she said “I have my family, my friends and my faith. I will be fine.” But I wasn’t. As I flew home for her funeral I was mad. This just wasn’t fair. I was in no way prepared to live my life without my emotional lynch pin.
Even though we aren’t Catholic there was a two night wake. The first evening we returned after dinner to find the room filled with amazing floral arrangements that hadn’t been there that afternoon. Tributes to a truly wonderful woman and at that very moment a thought entered my mind and a lightness entered my heart. Someone that good and that full of faith couldn’t possibly get gypped by dying young and not finding the eternal pay off. The firm foundation of my faith was formed that night and while it has shifted from time to time during the dips and down times it always returns with renewed strength and solidarity. I am grateful for that gift.
Like most of us, I have had many blessings and adventures but there have been times of adversity. On a scale of 1 – 10 ~ ten being best ~ I’ve had more 8 & 9’s than 1 &2’s. For that I am grateful. I have survived living 2.4 miles from the epicenter of the Northridge earthquake where I very clearly learned the difference between being alone and being lonely. I have survived causing pain to myself and I hope others have survived any pain I caused them. I am young enough to still be very mobile but old enough to be very grateful for that fact. I am young enough to clearly remember my life but old enough to now see very clearly just how much life in general has changed. I am fortunate to have grown up in a sweet little town with a charming railroad station and fortunate now to live in a sweet little city with a charming railroad station.
Some things come full circle, or close enough, to sincerely appreciate the proximity. I feel safe in this small city but it is less than two hours from San Bernadino and I am only two degrees of separation away from a 22 year old survivor of that horror.
I have lived long enough to watch our country go through times of turmoil and strife where we do not all agree. I don’t know that I’ve ever lived through a time when we, as citizens, have ever been as aware of our individual disagreement as we are today. That hurts my heart.
These are different and difficult times. The fear of a devastating nuclear conflict coming to our country has disappeared and has been replaced by the devastation of terrorism on our soil. Again. What remains most important to me is the hope we each remember the importance of our freedom and that we believe in the protection of the sanctity and safety of our country. We may disagree on how to get there but I hope we agree on the fact that we must. There is no more time to waste.
My faith in the world we are living in right now may be shaken and it is true that much has changed during my lifetime.
It is also true that one thing remains the same.
I still have a schnauzer.
God Bless America~ Please