Wednesday, October 22, 2014

An Unexpected Detour

One false step. Just one false step. And this is me right now.



Eight days ago, I was at a friend's house for a lovely evening filled with fabulous food, dear friends, and a lot of fun just sitting around talking to each other. Then, as I was headed out to our car, I stepped out of their gate and missed a step.

Ending up on the ground in a heap with a right leg that was screaming with pain. As I seemed overall okay with no visible bruises, just in a bit of shock from the fall, my husband began to urge me to try to get up. So, I finally raised myself up on my hands and in doing so caught a good look at my lower right leg. "It's broken," I said. And everyone concurred when they looked at it.

So, a long night followed which involved a ride in an ambulance to the Houston Med Center, hours in the ER in a treatment room waiting to be treated, including having two level one trauma cases right next to me on the other side of a screen in the treatment room (one made it, one didn't to my sorrow), admittance to the hospital in the wee hours of the morning, followed by surgery on my leg. In the days since, I've had evil physical therapists (who had my welfare at heart) trying to get me to hop up on a three inch tall platform using my walker and doing it without touching my broken leg to the ground. (I flatly refused to jump, finally telling them that we would get a ramp for the front door threshold.) 

And now, about a week and a half later, I'm figuring this out somewhat. It has not been easy. The timing of this little accident has not been optimal (when is it?) and I have quite a bit of guilt over some things that I have not been able to do as a result of being out of commission for several days. I have another 5 to 7 weeks approximately to go. And even once I'm okayed to walk again, will almost certainly have to have physical therapy. But I'll cope. We'll cope actually, as this is really a family effort and also, to a certain extent, an effort that involves my friends and co-workers as well. For which I am profoundly grateful. 

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Forty Years Later...

Forty years ago, in 1974, there was an extremely active movement in the United States to get the Equal Rights Amendment ratified so that it would become the law of the land. That "Equality of rights under the law shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any state on account of sex." There was a deadline looming for ratification by the states of this amendment and though I was just in high school, I was a fervent supporter of the effort. And I remember an argument I got into on the subject of equal pay for equal work with the guy who was my boyfriend back then.

Forty years later, the Equal Rights Amendment still has not become the law of the land. Despite numerous efforts, gender equality in the United States does not exist. It doesn't exist anywhere in the world. 

Forty years later there are still people, like my ex boyfriend, who believe that women should not be given equal pay for equal work. (By the way, he still should be thankful that I opted to just order him out of the house rather than sew his mouth shut after he voiced that opinion. I was at Mom's sewing machine at the time and was tempted beyond measure to just take care of his idiocy with a few stitches.)

Earlier this week, the UN launched an new campaign called He For She. It's aimed at gaining gender equality throughout the world for once and for all. Because that's really what equal rights is all about. It's not just about women having the same rights as men. It's about everyone having the same rights. It's about men being able to do what they need to do for their families, for their children, without being considered 'unmanly'. It is about joining together and finally, finally, not discriminating against anyone because they are male or female. To have the same rights no matter if you are male or female. We must change the stereotypes that we define men and women by and allow each man and woman to be equal under the law. Equal access to family leave. Equal access to pay. Equal in every way.

Earlier this week, I shared a link to a video of Emma Watson making an impassioned plea at the UN for this initiative to my facebook page. Looking at my recent posts, photos of a carrot cake I baked received 15 more 'likes' than my post about this critical issue. Am I annoyed? Hell yes. This is literally a life and death issue for women around the world. Women and young girls are actively being attacked for trying to get an education in certain areas of the world. What is wrong with us when a damn cake gets more attention than an issue of human rights? We are talking about the right to vote. The right to be paid a fair and living wage. The right to an education. The right to be viewed as a human being who has value and to not have that value denigrated because of what sex you just happen to be.

Yes, I'm sure that those of you who are conservative and religious tend to think 'equal rights = feminism = abortion rights.' And you are so wrong if you think that is what this campaign is about. Because it is not. It is about treating EVERYONE with respect no matter if they are male or female and giving everyone the right to make decisions about their lives. So, I'm asking that you go to the website for this initiative and make a commitment to support this effort. Educate yourself about what this campaign is actually about. Educate yourself about the truth of what women are subjected to in terms of acts of violence against women, the lack of educational opportunities for women, the gap in pay for women and all the other issues this initiative is about. 

It is time to stop the war of the sexes and create a world where our sons and daughters will treat each other with respect. No matter where they live. This is the world I want for my son, my daughters, my daughter-in-law, and my grandchildren. Give it to them and to your children and grandchildren. Give it to the world.

Here's the link: http://www.heforshe.org/

Tuesday, September 02, 2014

Here I go again…

Note: Yes, I’m sounding off again. If you are a conservative Christian who still thinks our current president is a secret Muslim and you vote based on whom you think is the most Christian choice, then you probably won’t like what I’m saying here. On the other hand, that’s exactly why I think you need to read this today. So no alternative websites offered to you today. Just keep reading. I can pretty much guarantee that God wants you to know this. 

I have finally reached my breaking point with posts on social media about how we need a president who believes in God in the White House, or about the 'need' to bring back God/Christian values/Jesus to America. All the while extolling the joy that will come of living in a country that has freedom of religion as long as that religion is nominally Christian.

Enough people. Let’s look at a couple of facts:

  • Adolf Hitler based his genocide aimed at the Jews on his Christian (actually Catholic) upbringing and education. One article I read tonight on this said that the German Social Christian movement, which influenced Hitler’s beliefs strongly resembles the Christian Right movement in America (http://www.nobeliefs.com/hitler.htm). So, this man, raised as a Catholic, who wanted to be a priest, committed one of the most heinous acts of genocide in history aided and abetted by the Christians of his country. Who joined in all in the name of religion.
  • America may have been founded on Christian values, but by virtue of the fact that our constitution does guarantee freedom of religion, that means in actuality America really is not a country of any specific religious belief. Or it should not be by the law of the land. 
  • Fanatics exist in virtually every religion out there. Evil exists. It is not exclusive to any one religion. In every religion, including Christianity, there are those who will turn the teachings of that religion to their own evil purposes. Christianity does not hold the franchise on virtue and goodness. Neither does any other religion. 
Going on from there, a few personal observations:
  • While I am myself a Catholic, I respect all faiths and prefer to not stereotype those of different beliefs based on the lunatic fringe element of their faith. And there are lunatic fringe elements in every single faith that exists.
  • I also firmly believe that those who feel God will reward them with the joys of heaven for killing others in His Name have a big, hot surprise awaiting them. Since I was taught in my religion classes that the fifth commandment prohibition against taking life also covers actively (or passively) hating another human being, hating any one simply because they are a Jew, Muslim, Catholic, Atheist, Southern Baptist or what have you is therefore a mortal sin.
So, have you figured out where I’m going with this yet or do I have to spell it out for you?  Just in case…here’s the deal:

As I see it, posting anything or saying anything that implies in any way shape or form that any religion or belief system is the ‘right’ religion or belief and that other religions or beliefs are lesser or wrong and that their believers should be disenfranchised or eliminated from the face of the earth is an act of hatred, and therefore a mortal sin. If you are guilty of this, stop right now and sin no more. Then, and only then, will the world (and America) be a better place.

Disclaimer: No, I’m not perfect or claiming to be perfect. I’m actually quite a bit less than perfect. And I freely admit it. But I do have a fairly well developed worldview of good and evil. And right now I’m seeing way too much evil in how people are using religions of all types to justify hatred on a global scale. And that worries me greatly. Hence this: my version of a wake-up call.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Five Months Later

Today is my sister Mary Claire’s birthday. She would have been 56 years old today.

I wish beyond all things that she was here, so that I could bake her a cake like I did last year and celebrate with her. I would give anything to see her sitting on my couch in the den and holding her newest great niece, Ellen.

But she is not here. Instead I have spent the last five months mourning my little sister and coming to grips with everything that has happened since she told me about the lump near her collarbone.

I miss her every single day. I think about her every single day.

I have second-guessed every single decision we made about her treatment. And come to the conclusion again and again that we did do everything we could.

And I have relived the week and half while we cared for her in hospice over and over.

Ultimately, I have had to make my peace with not only what we did, but with what how it all ended.

This experience has changed me in ways I never expected. I am no stranger to losing those I love to death. I watched my father die in front of me when I was just seven years old. I lost five relatives between the ages of six and fifteen. And because of the experience of watching my father die suddenly of a heart attack, I developed a deep-seated fear of death that has haunted me my entire life. Until now.

Watching Mary Claire fight the inevitable those last weeks changed my perspective forever. She fought so hard for every moment, even though at the end the moments she was fighting for were moments where she was incapable of truly living. When I think back over what happened, the only thing I would change is that I would no longer deny the truth of what was happening to her.

By this, I do not mean that I would not have fought for her as hard as I did over those two years after we got her into M.D. Anderson. I would. Absolutely. But once we had no further options, I wish beyond everything that I had had the courage that my sisters Julia and Jane had to face the truth and the courage they had to tell Mary Claire the truth about what was going to happen. And if I am ever in Mary Claire’s situation, I hope that I have Julia and Jane there to tell me the truth. I promise I will believe you two.

I love you forever Mary Claire.

And I love you forever Julia and Jane.