Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Blessings One by One

I am not a model mother or grandmother, or for that matter, a model wife or daughter. When it comes to the list of things that one is supposed to do and be as a model female relative, I have flunked big time. 

I don’t cook or bake particularly regularly, firing up the kitchen to make that perfect birthday or holiday meal that everyone eagerly anticipates.

I used to do Christmas with the tree, ornaments, and wrapped presents, but those years vanished long ago.

My kids and grandkids cannot look forward to a birthday card or present. Presents happen when I chance upon them in my travels.

My son and daughter-in-law are the attentive parents to our four grandsons. They do a great job being present everyday to those four boys and enriching their growing up years, at home, at school, and with friends.

My mother tends to home and hearth at our house, where she, my brother, my husband, and I make a multi-generational family unit. It gives Mom purpose and importance to be the center of a household once again in her elder years.

Model anything is nothing more than a bunch of stereotypes that harm and guilt people who are doing their best to find love, companionship, and good times in a challenging world full of challenging family situations. Let’s agree to stop counting what’s missing and begin counting what we are blessed to have.

I am writing to give thanks that I have a whole family, with many family members, who each do their part to make the family function. I feel badly that many people lack a family of their own. Sometimes, that’s all that someone needs, to be included in our families as family members of choice. To be chosen to be loved and embraced. Think about it.

Monday, September 1, 2014

Still Angry and Looking Around

I try really hard not to be an angry person these days. 

I spent a lot of time as a young person being angry about a lot of things.

Civil rights and race relations, having grown up in the inner city of Detroit, where it was difficult being neither White nor Black. Latinos had not yet figured into the equation that far north in the 50’s and 60’s.

Women’s equality, which hit me hard as a smart teen girl and young woman in my 20’s trying to get taken seriously by employers.

The already begun assault on public education, which was my salvation from my refugee-immigrant family status, where we were diligently rescuing family members from the Communists.

But damn, it’s hard these days not to be angry when we seem to be on a very slippery slope, sliding backwards on the gains we achieved decades ago. A recent slogan seen on protestors’ signs asks, “Why am I still fighting this sh*t today?”

I think about the so-called racial minorities, now not so minor in numbers and growing, who are justifiably angry these days. My hope is that we channel that anger into some constructive social justice efforts.

We need to get educated and involved in the political process, locally, regionally, and nationally, even when the process is fraught with cronyism, racism, and bullying. I think we need to come together with other people who are like us and not like us, who are willing to be allies to fight for the same causes and candidates that we care about.

I think we need to put our money and our time where our hearts are, if not for ourselves, then for the generations that will follow us. The sacrifice is worth it, even if you don’t personally benefit. Numbers count, if for no other reason than to lift up the hopes of those who share our dreams.

We need to spread the word about the things that we find wrong with our communities and dialogue with others about how we can address those issues and find creative solutions together. Not every problem requires a new law. Sometimes the old laws just need to be enforced. Sometimes the community just needs to be in conversation and seek to find common ground.

But together - talking with one another, breaking bread together, writing letters, signing petitions, marching, and protesting together – is what we need to be doing. We must not let the powers of greed be used to divide us and refocus our attention away from the power of unity in fighting for justice, equality, and dignity for everyone.

If not us, then who? If not now, then when? I look around, and there's only you and me, my friend.