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Archive for the ‘Share the Love’ Category

Susan and I went to a funeral yesterday. It’s not something one looks forward to, but a sweet friend had lost her Father, and we wanted to be there to lend our support and love for our friend and her family.

Our friends father (Bill) was a very sweet man. We didn’t’ meet him until the rages of Alzheimer’s had taken over his body and his mind; and yet his sweetness shown through.

I had an inkling this funeral was going to be different when we arrived at the church and there were white chairs set up outside. They were placed on a hillside with beautiful green grass surrounded by trees and flowers with a view of the San Diego Bay that was simply breath-taking. I’d never been to an outside funeral, but after today, I can’t imagine any other way of honoring a loved one.

From those who spoke, I soon understood this was a man who was loving and was loved his entire life. His wife, his children, his grandchildren and great grandchildren. Love, love, love. He loved being outside, loved camping, loved sunsets, loved ice cream and coffee, and loved being the family “tickle monster.”

One of his daughters started to speak about his courage and how he emphasized to her the importance of being still, and it was in that moment I found my mind began to wonder.

I began to think of the death of my parents. My dad in 2010 and Mother in 2012.  I thought of the lessons they had taught me, and what it is I still miss about them.  Some days the image of them is so clear I swear they are walking right beside me. Other days, I don’t feel them at all.  It’s those moments when I am “being still” that I feel them most of all. When I have my tea in the afternoon, sitting quietly on my patio watching the birds, sitting by the San Diego Bay knowing how much my parents loved to sit in the same spot some 30 years ago.  Dad’s ashes are scattered in this Bay so that every US Navy ship that goes in and out of San Diego has to pass over him.

The thing is, I never understood my parents – ever. I thought of this today as Bill’s children and grandchildren were speaking of him so lovingly.  I never understood some of my parent’s decisions, their beliefs, their grudges, their never wanting to talk of anything.  So many things were left unsaid, unsettled, unknown. I love them, I just wish…

I left this funeral with the understanding that life is most certainly meant to be lived. It’s meant to be shared with those who love you unconditionally. You’re meant to be still, to be tickled. You’re meant to watch the sunset, and eat ice cream and drink coffee. You’re meant to laugh and love and share your thoughts and dreams and desires .You’re meant to make memories that will carry on long after you’ve gone. This is what your life is supposed to be.

We walked away from the service on that beautiful hill to the Reception Hall where an ice cream social in honor of Bill awaited us.  Ice Cream, every topping you could think of, whipped cream, cherries, nuts, cookies and coffee. For the first time ever, I left a funeral feeling upbeat and hopeful.

As a side note – the pastor who spoke at the funeral had a voice that simply drew me in. She was kind and compassionate, and spoke in a way that wasn’t condescending or judgmental.  As the pastor was speaking, I leaned over to Susan and said: “If anyone could get me back to church, I think it might be her,”  And it’s been many years since I’ve spent any amount of time in a church.

Bill must have been smiling knowing that I had been still and was listening.

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Each of us have moments that are life affirming. Moments that make you understand why you’re here, and exactly what it is that matters in your life.  Yesterday I had one of those moments…

I was standing in the mist, at a fence, waiting with my camera in hand for my granddaughter Courtney to walk into her college graduation. Waiting to capture that moment with her proudly wearing her cap and gown, living in the moment for which she had worked so very hard.

As I waited for her, I found myself thinking about my life; this life that had brought me to this fence – to this misty moment. It wasn’t an easy journey getting here; and yet this life that I live now is the easiest thing I have ever done.

For those who have lived a lie – you know of what I’m speaking when I say that life is not always what it seems. I spent years pretending I wasn’t gay; when in fact I knew I was gay from the moment I understood what gay was. I’ll save the whole life story thing for another time; just let me say it flashed before my eyes as I was waiting for Courtney to come into view.

The one thing that was clear to me was that my life was meant to have Susan in it.  It’s been 33 years, and still I know she was, and is, the love of my life.

Without Susan – I would have never been waiting for Courtney. I’m not really sure where I would have been, but it wouldn’t have been at that fence waiting for this most special of moments.

Without Susan – I wouldn’t have these children and these grandchildren who have blessed my life, keep me young and fill me with a certain kind of love I never knew existed.

Without Susan -I would never have understood the importance of living a life that’s honest and open. I would never have understood that any other sort of life isn’t really a life at all – it’s only a dream; an illusion of life.

Without Susan – I would have missed so much of what is right and good about living, about loving, about struggling, about putting down roots and watching them grow into these beautiful things called children and grandchildren.

I was pondering all these deep things when I looked up and saw this beautiful smile and saw Courtney waving at me. I wiped away the tears, focused my camera and snapped the shots we’ve all waited years to capture.

I walked back to where Susan and the rest of our family was seated and sat down, weary from all the emotion. Susan put her arm around me and asked: “Did you get to see her? Did you get the shots?”  I smiled at her and said: “Yes, and so much more…”

Life?  It’s about love – that’s it.  Love…

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So, here I am – this baby booming, white woman wondering what it is I can say about the unrest in America that will not upset anyone on any level.

Seems to me – no matter what I might say, someone will take it wrong and before I can blink an eye, feelings are hurt, words are spoken, and there is more chaos, more anger, more dissent  in a world already filled with way too much anger and intolerance.

Let me simply say this; I grieve for America. I grieve for all of us. Every age, every religion, every race, every gender, every sex, every political party, every protestor, every mom, every child; every single one of us.

For the thing that unites us is that we are all Americans – and this – this is the thing we all tend to forget from time to time. We are all Americans.

Is the bar equal for all of us?  Absolutely not – but that doesn’t make anyone more of an American than another.

I can’t sit here and say I understand the life of an African American living in the neighborhood called “The Avenue” in Baltimore, MD.  I’m a 62-year-old white woman living in a nice neighborhood in San Diego, CA. What on earth can I possibly know of their life? It would be wrong of me to even speculate on any of it.

What I can sit here and say is simply this; “I’m sorry.” I’m sorry people in your American feel it’s okay to judge who you are by the color of your skin, or who you love, or what you believe, or where you live, or how much money you have – or don’t have. I’m sorry you feel unwanted, unloved and unheard in an America where every citizen is supposed to have an equal voice. I’m sorry politicians are more concerned about money and power than they are about doing the work of the people. I’m sorry.

The bottom line for me is this – I treat every single person I meet with dignity and respect. I am not a bigot – I am tolerant – (I’m a lesbian – I understand and know what intolerance looks and feels like). I try and send into the world a feeling of love and acceptance, even when I really don’t understand because it’s not my job to judge –

It’s my job to love…

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I recently read this Native American tale that tells the story of a young boy speaking with his grandfather.

One evening an old Cherokee told his grandson about a battle that goes on inside people.He said, “My son, the battle is between two wolves inside us all. “One is Evil – It is anger, envy, jealousy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, superiority, and ego.“The other is Good – It is joy, peace, love, hope, serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion and faith.”The grandson thought about it for a minute and then asked his grandfather: “Which wolf wins?”The old Cherokee simply replied, “The one you feed.”

It’s easy to feed the Evil Wolf – Blame everyone in your life for your troubles –that way you don’t have to take any responsibility for anything you’ve said or done because – well – it’s not your fault – it’s the way you were raised, or taught, treated or whatever excuse you can make others believe is responsible for your behavior.  You can be this arrogant, rude, unkind person who skips through life unaware of the hurt and despair you’ve let in your wake.  You’re unaware – because you don’t care. Why should you – it’s not your fault.

The Evil Wolf is the easy way out. It’s simple, it takes no thought, and certainly allows you to hold onto old hurts, self-pity, anger and grudges for as long as you like – it’s what I call wallowing…

I will admit to feeding this wolf many years ago…

The Good Wolf – well – that takes some work. Joy, peace, hope, humility, kindness, generosity, truth, compassion… these things involve others – and emotions and a sense of belonging.  This means you have to show up – emotionally and physically.

Serenity comes only when our soul is untroubled and at peace. And we are only untroubled and at peace when our lives are lived for the common good.  At least – this is what I have learned about my life.

I’m not saying the Evil Wolf never gets fed – I’m saying I try and keep it to a few hors d’oeuvres every now and then – because well – I’m only human.

The Good Wolf is the one I try and feed on a daily basis.  Love, Hope, Compassion – these bring me Joy. I don’t want anger, envy, jealousy, regret, resentment or ego in my life. Why would anyone?

These wolves – This good and evil – It’s a choice we all must make in our lives. At some point, we all have to look around and realize that the common denominator in all of our tails of woe is – you/me. And the common denominator in our tales of happiness? It’s also you/me.   It’s our choice – it’s our life.

So… Which Wolf Do You Feed?

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Perhaps the answers to life lie in not where we’re going, but where we have been. And maybe not so much where we have been, but who was there with us – who traveled the road with us. Who ran us off the road, who walked beside us, who helped us find the short-cuts, and who was reading the map along the way.

Now that I’m in my 60’s, I understand that our lives are touched in some way by all the people who have come in and out of our lives. If only for a moment or a day or years – our lives are somehow changed by every encounter we’ve ever had.

Every path –every person – every opinion – every compliment – every criticism – every love – every hurt – every laugh – every tear – every little thing and every single person has brought us to this very moment in time.

We may have been shaped by where we grew up and who are families were, but as we grew up and faced the world on our own – the decisions we had to make were ours. At the moment we were making these decisions, we may have thought we didn’t have a choice – but – even if you did not make a decision – that was your choice – your decision was not to decide. We have to own our decisions – at some point we need to take responsibility for our lives.

I believe we spend way too much time finding a way to blame our parents or our siblings or our friends or religion or politics or whatever you can think of for our lot in life.  The simple truth is – we are responsible for our lives – we are responsible for our happiness.  It’s up to each of us to make ourselves happy. No one else can possible be responsible for that – no one.

I also believe we spend far too much time trying to figure out what makes us happy and we miss out on just being happy.  Life isn’t about what you have – it’s about who you are.

I read a book recently that made me understand that every day we can choose to go one way or the other. To go with the good or not go with the good. To go away from things like anger, hate, war, evil, prejudice – or – we can choose to go toward them. The choice is ours to make.

Whichever you choose to go toward – that is who you become.  If you fill your life with anger and greed and hate and unrest – then it’s inevitable that you become this person – angry, arrogant, hateful, resentful, blaming, bitter…

On the other hand – go toward the good – and this is the person you become. Nonjudgmental, loving, understanding, giving, compassionate, happy, content.

It may sound easy – this going toward the good – but during the course of a day we can slip toward anger in the blink of an eye. Someone pulls in front of you on the freeway and you have to slam on your brakes to keep from hitting them – going toward anger happens before you even blink your eyes! Someone’s teasing feels more like being bullied, someone pushes your buttons simply to get an angry reaction from you, and someone plays games with your heart…

It is the wise choice – this going toward the good – but it’s not always the easy choice. Choose wisely.

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For the past 2 days I have thought of little other than the fires that are burning to the North and East of my home here in San Diego County. It’s been unusually hot in San Diego County – over 100 – and windy. The sort of weather we expect in September or October – certainly not in the middle of May. And yet – here it is.

Susan and I are safe – We have electric – We have the internet – We even have a portable Air Conditioner that keeps us quite comfortable. We have food and water and a bed to sleep in. Our children and grandchildren are safe – but  others are not so fortunate.  My heart breaks to watch the devastation and see homes going up in flames. I feel helpless and without a sense of stability. There is this sense that all is not safe in our world.

Southern California is dry – I mean – 100 year drought dry.  The canyons that surround our home are filled with things that would probably ignite if someone just has the thought of a burning match.  Add to that the signs that tell me there could be unexploded weapons buried there – and you have the formula to keep me awake at night when fires are burning.

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I’ve also been thinking the past 2 days about the people in the world who live with the threat of fire and bombs and gunfire and death every day of their lives.  I can’t imagine how their lives must be. In certain parts of the world – this is their life – this is what they know. There fears are mostly a reality, and my fears seem minuscule compared to what they face.

But, the thing is – these are my fears, and this is my home – mine and Susan’s. I understand that most of our things can be replaced. Still, I love where I live and my neighbors could never be replaced. I’ve never lived anywhere where I have been so loved, so cared for and accepted for exactly who I am. Susan and I are safe here; and that means more than you could ever know.

Everyone wants and needs to feel safe in their home. Safe from abuse, safe from violence, safe from prejudice, safe from harm, safe from a world that sometimes chooses to belittle and judge.  We all deserve such a life, such a home, such a refuge. We are blessed with such a place.

Now – if I could just do something about those unexploded weapons that are scattered all over this place I call home…

Keep San Diego County in your thoughts and your prayers.  We need all the goodness we can get…

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I was informed by an email awhile back that my family wasn’t a “real” family. The woman who wrote me this email went on to explain that my family couldn’t possibly be a “real” family because I’m a homosexual. God would never deem to allow me to have a loving family since I am a sinner in the largest sense of the word.

Susan, my partner of 33 years has 4 children and in the course of those 33 years – her children have also become my children. I love them – I worry about them – I support them – all the things that Mothers feel for their children – I feel for these 4 children.

Along with the children have come spouses and grandchildren and pets and friends. Girlfriends and boyfriends and proms and graduations. School plays and competitions and dressing as angels and wise men in Christmas pageants at church. Weddings and divorces and fights and hugs and love and yelling and laughing and adventures in Las Vegas! Standing in front of Stonehenge crying on my sons shoulder, sitting with my daughter in a courtroom trying to be the strong one for her and my grandchildren. Picking kids up at school, driving all over town to find just the right gift…

Does any of this sound like a real family to you?

Sitting at my daughters house yesterday laughing with the grand-kids and just enjoying all the love in the room – I understood how blessed I was to be surrounded by this family that makes my heart so happy.

I thought of the woman who wrote me that vile email and I sort of felt sorry for her – sort of.  I feel sorry she will never understand or accept the love that flows through our family. I feel sorry that she will never, ever know the joy of loving someone for who they are – and I’m sorry that her “faith” is such that she is filled with such loathing.

I’m sorry that she doesn’t know that “family” is all about the people who love you and accept you and support you – no matter what. It’s not always about blood – it’s about love. Sometimes the whole blood thing is just too complicated and way too judgmental. I don’t know why that is – I don’t know why the people you want to love you the most just can’t… or won’t…

I never thought I wanted to be a Mother – I never thought I’d be a very good Mother… I was wrong – on both counts.  I love these children and grandchildren more than they will ever know – I hope they know they can count on me – I hope they know the joy they have brought into my life, I hope they know how they fill my heart with such joy just being in the same room with them. I tell them – I just hope they know.

That vile, email woman is wrong…   2 Mothers – 2 Grandmothers loving you, supporting you, accepting you, baking for you…   Who doesn’t need that?   Who doesn’t want that?

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