Archive for the ‘Random Thoughts’ Category

I stand with students of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High

February 22, 2018

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I have cried watching the news only a few times. Once when a firefighter pulled a limp little blond boy in Oshkosh overalls from under the ice who looked just like my three year old. The fragility of life – of family – overwhelmed me. I cried. Thankfully the firefighters revived the boy.

My kids have grown, I changed careers and was a new teacher when Sandy Hook happened. I got home from school that day and turned on the news. I tried to imagine the awesome responsibility Victoria Leigh Soto, a teacher, assumed by throwing herself between a gunman and her first graders. Could I do that? Would I try to save my eighth graders? I thought about my classroom, students crammed in a corner, and pictured the terror on their faces. I began to cry not knowing what I would do facing evil when some of my students came to my door caroling “Joy to the World.” I wanted to hug them for pushing back the terror coming from my television with their self-conscience performance to my front steps, but I didn’t. I gave them each handfuls of candy, because that’s what you do.

Six years later we practice active shooter scenarios at school, we hold anti-bullying seminars for students and teachers, and we barely notice when another school attack happens. We have become inoculated from the shock. I watched the news and remarked to my wife how well spoken and poised the students from Parkland, Florida were in the immediate aftermath. These were not the Tide-Pod eating slackers that TV loves to show us. They stayed focused, kept speaking out brilliantly and got the president’s ear enough to be invited to a White House listening session.

There eighteen year old Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School senior Samuel Zeif described the day in Parkland when 17 people were murdered, texting what he thought were his last words to his family. He pleaded to the president “let’s never let this happen again. Please. Please.” And I cried with him.

It should never have come to this. “How did we not stop this after Columbine? After Sandy Hook?” I cried with him. How come we didn’t stop this? We – the adults, the moms and dads, the teachers, the police – didn’t stop this because we are not unified in our will. We are too jaded, shrugging in resignation that nothing will change, and sending out “thoughts and prayers” on Facebook.  We did nothing because we could not agree on anything – Ban assault weapons – what’s an “assault weapon”? Mental health check-ups – who decides you’re crazy? Arm everybody – have you met everybody?

“We call BS!” Emma Gonzales spoke with the clarity of unjaded youth whose innocence was murdered along her classmates and a few more teachers who placed themselves between bullets and students. She and the thousands of young voices are speaking together demanding we all see the obvious – their lives are more valuable than a dogmatic reading of the 2nd amendment. There is no nuance in this argument. She spoke clearly. Cameron Kasky, another Parkland high school student, demanded in the name of seventeen dead classmates that his senator, Marco Rubio, not accept money from the NRA and he pressed until he got an answer – not the one he wanted, but not the evasive sound bite either. Seventeen year old witness to this murder, David Hogg, said, “We are children. You guys are the adults. Work together, come over your politics, and get something done” and even after being accused of being a Soros paid actor hasn’t “lost hope in America.”

These students bring me hope. They will take action because they have to – we adults have been paralyzed in our partisan bickering for too long. Is it too soon to cite Isaiah 11:6? “Wolves will live with lambs. Leopards will lie down with goats. Calves, young lions, and year-old lambs will be together, and little children will lead them.”

I stand with the students of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High.

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2015 – It’s a Wonderful Life

January 1, 2016

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I turned sixty this year, threw myself a party, and waited for some age old wisdom to inhabit my noggin. I’m still waiting on the wisdom, but in the meantime I took a look back at my “2014 – Ten Random Thoughts on This Past Year” and I am proud to report I got the dumpster mentioned in #4 and I read the Billy Collins book in #9. I was so enthralled my wife took me to see him read at Harvard’s Sanders theater – wow, that’s a place to see! Turns out the stuff that sticks in my less than perfect memory isn’t the things newly acquired, but experiences great and small.

In 2015 we experienced snow – crap loads of snow. From January 8th to February 10th school had 5 snow days and three 2 hour delays. Worcester won the title of “Snowiest City in the US” – crushing perennial favorites Rochester and Erie.

Enough shoveling! By March we needed a break so an impromptu weekend visit to DC while our son was working there for a few months. We rode up the Washington Monument to rise above the snow, but the highlight of this trip was a dinner. We had no idea the BLT steakhouse was serving what the Washington Post called  “The Hope Diamond of Beef”. We went full wagyu and after the meat orgy was over there were no regrets.

Come April, with many promises and apologies from management, my wife decided to stay in her job (see “The End of an Error”). With that settled, she took Addy to photograph Charleston and I chaperoned some 8th graders to not speak French in Quebec.

Mountview graduated another class just in time for the Smith Family Big Alaskan Adventure by way of inheritance a gift from my mother. From our cruise ship base we tried everything – trains, seaplanes, jet boats, regular boats, kayaks, dog sleds, helicopters, hiking, and earthquakes. I saw whales breach, glaciers calve, and big smiles on my family. A few favs: Addy becoming a sled dog’s new BFF, Zach calling out “derp” from his balcony to the sea otters, and my guarding the entrance to a snow trench at Base Camp #1 high on Denali so my wife could pee at 11,000’.

My children paid me back with some adventures of their own – Zach took me to Fenway to see Pedro get his number retired and Addy to see Parks and Rec star Nick Offerman. I also experienced with great pride with the courage they demonstrated starting down new paths – Addy returning to school to start a nursing career like her mama and Zach taking a new job with a biotech start-up in Boston.  

For our anniversary Pam and I headed up to Lake Sunapee for the New Hampshire Crafts show, renting a little cabin. The show was great, as always, but it was the unexpected antique boat show the day we were leaving that was the highlight.

Sprinkle in an odd trip into Boston only to end up sailing on the harbor and catching James Montgomery on the Blues Barge; include a random visit to my sister in Wickford, R.I. after cutting greens at the reservoir that turns into a Christmas shopping spree and add a “do you have anything planned today?” road trip to Walpole N.H. in search of the holy grail of chocolate (L.A. Burdick’s) and finding wine, art and alpacas along the way and 2015 was what my wife’s hats, sweatshirts and a few tees say – “Life is good.”

As I write this it’s New Year’s Eve and I’m sitting in our room at the Intercontinental Hotel with my wife catching a nap before the midnight fireworks. “It’s a Wonderful Life” is on the TV and the Bailey family is singing “Auld Lang Syne.” We just had a fabulous meal at Mama Maria’s and what I remember most so far is walking the North End holding Pam’s hand. I’m one lucky guy. Hey, maybe some wisdom did creep in!

Thanksgiving Chivalry

November 26, 2015
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My classroom white board

It was the last period of the day when it happened. Tales of conquering knights, castle life or the grossness of the fuller’s job makes teaching the  Middle Ages to 8th graders easier. The kids have played Clash of Clans or Magic, they know the story of Cinderella, Rapunzel and the Hobbit, they wear Underarmor  and maybe even sneaked a peek at Game of Thrones… so many misconceptions, but it’s a place to start.

It also helps that middle schoolers want to fit in – the oratores, bellatores, laborares of the middle ages make sense to them (those who pray, fight, work). I use the opening scene of Divergent to introduce these interdependent class systems that maintain social order. The kids learn a lot of vocabulary and research many aspects the middle ages – knights and the code of chivalry, the duties of lords and vassals, the everyday life of serfs and freemen. They have to put in a lot of time reading. This unit lands just before the Thanksgiving break so I hold out the promise of a tournament day to keep their attention on their school work.

After all that reading it’s time to put the newly acquired knowledge to work. I have invested a full set of chainmail, arming coat, helmet, sword and buckler along with a 12th century noble lady’s outfit (complete with wimple, stylish long belt and purse) for two lucky kids to put on with the help of their squires and handmaidens. We have some crazy masks to perform a mummers play, some mock robes for our clergy, and pool noodles, foam shields and inflatable horses for the joust. It is a very active day.

In the middle of this we have a dubbing ceremony, the elevation of a squire to the order of knights who must follow the code of chivalry. For the dubbing ceremony I use a translation of Tirant Lo Blanc – a story favored by Cervantes published in 1490. This year the script hit home in light of the recent ISIS attacks:

King (to squire): Squire, bring your master forward and present him to me.(Candidate kneels before the King) Squire, do you vouch the candidate is deemed worthy of elevation to the order of chivalry?

Squire: Yes, Sire.

King (to candidate): This sword’s significance lies in the fact that it slays and wounds with both edges and its point also stabs. The sword is the knight’s noblest weapon, and he too should serve in three ways. He should defend the church, killing and wounding those who oppose it as do the two edges of a sword. He should also defend the poor and weak against the powerful influence of the rich. And just as a sword pierces whatever it touches, likewise a knight should pierce all heretics and villains, attacking them mercilessly wherever he may find them. The pommel symbolizes the world, for a knight is obliged to defend his king. The guard symbolizes the cross, on which Our Redeemer died to preserve mankind, and every true knight should do likewise, braving death to preserve his brethren. Should he perish in the attempt, his soul will surely go to heaven.

Would the kids hear the parallel in these words? Would they hear danger in promises of heaven to defend earthly interests? Maybe if they were in high school or college… What lesson would be learned from this class? That people are horrible to each other?

The script requires the knight candidate have a squire present him to the king for the dubbing. I let the student wearing the chain mail choose who will be his squire. Everyone has fun watching this poor kid struggle to move around wearing about fifty pounds of kit and he always picks a buddy to join him in the spotlight.

And then it happened. When I asked the knight-to-be to name his squire he asked if he could pick anyone. He has some football friends that weren’t amongst the nobles he should pick from, but it was the last period of the day and I was too tired to push that point. “Yeah, anyone – Who will it be?” Still unsure he double checked his choice – “Could it be —–?”

His choice of squire was a young man in class who is intellectually impaired. He attends school with the help of his one on one aid. It’s important to his parents that he knows the great variety of people in this world, not just those he would meet in the shelter of a “special” school, even though he is not able to do what the other kids do.

This day I was taught a lesson by an 8th grade boy. Don’t believe the Lord of the Flies mentality attributed to middle school kids. This day I saw a squire beaming with pride presenting his knight before the king and laughing as he joined in the joust. After class his joy was heard down the hallway telling everyone what he did. What did he do? He fit in, thanks to the invitation of a classmate.

What I learned in school this day was that to defeat the inevitability of despair caused by terrorism it takes just one truly noble, chivalrous act – sometimes delivered by a thirteen year old. I learned people can be awesome to each other.

2014 – Ten Random Thoughts on this past year.

January 4, 2015

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2014 was packed with many tales for telling, but who has time for that? Instead here are Ten Random Thoughts that came to mind when reviewing 2014…

  1. I am fat. I now get red-faced when I have to bend over to tie my shoes because I can’t breathe. And because I have no ass (Irish) my expanding, descending gut beats the pants off me. I’m considering suspenders (braces) because a belt doesn’t have the staying power I require while allowing for digestion. Exercise you say? Yeah – I’m thinking about it in between choosing snacks, but new methods for holding my pants up seem more likely.
  2. How are there no manuals for adult children? I love my kids and 2014 had some serious ups and downs for them. When they were little a tickle or a treat could fix most anything. Now I don’t know what to do, but still want “to make all better.” I know I can’t – but that doesn’t stop the frustration.
  3. Travel often, but not too often. This past year every vacation from work was packed with travel – Iceland, Durango, and Wales. I know I can be a whiner, but maybe we did too much. In the rush to check off our bucket list, we too often forgot to just be in the moment. After a day of piloting a canal boat in Wales, we moored and walked over to the lake alongside the canal. We sat on the shore eating dinner and feeding ducks while the sun set. It was glorious. We could have dined lakeside most anywhere, but here was an unplanned moment that was complete – no distraction from tomorrow or yesterday. Stop and smell the roses…? Yeah – do that.
  4. We sold my mother’s house this year. So many things in it were imbued with the power of time travel. One minute I’m nine proudly presenting a nicknack made in art class for her birthday, then I’m fourteen and embarrassed by the finger cymbals for belly dancing and then seconds later in my fifties wistfully passing the salt substitute. Sorting the house out I realized just how few treasures realistically could fit into my own crowded home and how many “rare” collectibles could be found on the shelves of a TJ Maxx. Note to self – get a dumpster.
  5. Drugs – Just say YES. Love ‘em! Without the M&Ms (Mestinon and Methotrexate) my wife would be encased in a floppy, lesion covered body. Drugs give her body the chance to act like most other bodies the age of hers. She gets to walk around, comb her hair and bitch about the aches and pains of getting old. Without these drugs I have no idea what her world would be – what my world with her would be. Easy to pick on Big Pharma, but there are success stories too. I love my wife, so I say thank you for giving us this time. And a shout out to the fine folks at Dana Farber. We are privileged to be holders of their blue card, opening us to a world where I feel lucky to have a naturally balding head and my wife wears a hat just because its cold out.
  6. Facebook has made me realize just how many of my friends have come out of the Libertarian closet or now rely on Jesus – or both. To quote the Byrds – “I was so much older then, I’m younger then than now.” I was a Libertarian when I was 20 and, at age 13, I respectfully decided Jesus had things to say, but with no more authority than Einstein or Gandhi. Sadly many of my Facebook friends are filled with vitriol for those who don’t hold the same beliefs they do. I disagree with so much of what is posted, but since it is from people I mostly like I listen, only occasionally pointing out factual errors. To quote another musical source, John Mayer, “Is there anyone who ever remembers changing their mind from the paint on a sign? Is there anyone who really recalls ever breaking rank at all for something someone yelled real loud one time?” I like to believe most of us have come to our world view through serious thought (I’m a glass half-full guy).
  7. This is the year, in my mind, I officially become an old guy. I’m turning 60 and I hear my conversation spouting things like “back in the day…” and the ever engaging “kids today…” Time – I need to make more of that because there may not be enough to read all those books and visit all those places I want to. Highlights include scheduling my next colonoscopy and wondering if that twinge is just the effect of some worn out body part or a sign of the big one…
  8. An aside to my many conspiracy minded friends: Washington is truly run by just out of college, Redbull gulping,  over-achievers trying to do everything anyone asks them to do. There is little coherence to what they do, much less diabolical plotting. Most political scandals are not a glimpse of some deeper secret, just a subordinate making a poor, sleep-deprived choice trying to please a mid-level bureaucrat who is trying to meet some misunderstood short-term metric and get that bonus.
  9. My wife and I got a shelving unit as a Christmas gift. I started moving the unread books that are stacked around my family room on to it. Books purchased with noble intentions to enlighten and entertain patiently wait for me to crack them open. I used to read constantly, now I fall asleep constantly. Looking over my choices I opened a collection of poems by Billy Collins – damn, that’s some good stuff. I need to get out more and into some books.
  10. People are important to me. Making up this list made me think of so many things and so many people. I know how it feels to be excluded so I don’t want to be that person. So please know that thing you did – yeah, that thing – still makes me think of you… yeah, you.

Birthday Deathday (for my son and my mother)

October 5, 2013

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There’s a hole in the bucket, dear Liza dear Liza…

Well, fix it dear Henry dear Henry fix it…

              Really, Liza? Fix it?

Under that hole is a little baby bucket

drinking in all the stories and admonitions

– filling up

    to spill over

         to the next and the next

watering the garden

         – crybabies.

             Liza, don’t be a bitch – it’s not all about you

the universe needs that hole!

Happy Birthday, Glo!

May 10, 2013

My mother is 90 today. Happy Birthday! Sad to say it’s the first time I’ve had the date right in my whole life. Late cards and phone calls, always the excuse of trying to double up with Mother’s Day, knowing it is always right around the corner from her birthday – anything but on time. One year I was so late she made me write her birthday down and repeat it. It helped, but not too much. You would think I’d be better at this. I have reminders everywhere. This year I’ve got just the right cards for both celebrations and in plenty of time, but I’ll keep tradition and not mail them. After all, she’s not there to receive them anymore. And let that be a lesson to the rest of you – Call your mother – NOW!Image

Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da…

April 17, 2013

Zach FB update

Think about this:
I’m in a mall near Quebec with a group of 8th graders trying out their French skills and I’m following my son’s progress in the Boston Marathon on my phone. I get a text from my daughter – two bombs went off near the finish line – many casualties and cell phone coverage weak at best.

Another text: At least two dead, limbs blown off, perhaps hundreds of casualties…

I had been waiting for the BAA website to update when the first text came in. Zach was nearing the end it and was taking forever to update. Forever just got longer.

I run a checklist in my head:

– Family? My daughter isn’t there, my wife is working, I’m in Canada. OK.
– Zach injured or worse? …How can I find out? …How will I get back? …Who will chaperone my students because I will need to go?

We are back on the bus and I no longer have Internet access. I ask the tour guide to Google it for me – he says two dead, many injured, no names. No help…

This was Zach’s third marathon. He passed the 30K marker significantly slower than his prior marks and I had wondered if this was “Heartbreak Hill.” When I finally got his 35K time I saw he picked up the pace. “Go Bud!” was my silent cheer back at the mall, now I was rethinking that.

My daughter texts me she got Zach on the phone. He answered, “I’m running” and he hung up. What a complete asshole, but my alive complete asshole son. He has no idea.

Relief makes my chin knot up to catch the tears while I compose myself to get back to the job of posing for a class picture in front of the Chateau Frontenac.

Everyday families who have children in combat must go on this roller coaster of terror and relief with every news report. I don’t know how or when you sleep.

This same day the news reported fifty-five killed by a car bomb in Iraq. Fifty-five who have mothers and fathers, who are someone’s daughters and sons, were killed. Their families will feel the terror, but not the relief. I don’t know how they can sleep.

When my children were little and got tired they became unruly hellions, lashing out at everything. I think this is universal human trait. Since I can remember we have had wars and bombings and terror – perhaps another universal human trait. Maybe we are just too tired; maybe we all need a nap.

Yesterday, I had a glimpse into the abyss of uncertainty. My heart goes out to those whose loss I can never understand, to those who have family stationed in harm’s way, to those who have family torn apart while going about the business of life and becoming tally marks on someone’s terrorism balance sheet. Newtown, Fallujah, Boston or Abuja; it makes no difference. I wish we would just give it all a rest and life goes on. Sing ob la di bla da…

PS – Turns out it wasn’t “Heartbreak Hill” that slowed Zach down – he needed to use one of the route portapotties. I am proud my son gives a shit. And thanks to all well wishes on Facebook.

2012 – Buh-Bye

January 2, 2013

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2012 – Yeah, it’s over. Now if you would only stop talking to me. I made the list of your pros and cons and on paper you look pretty good, but it’s just not working. You can’t get much more romantic than putting that French accent on everything and it was working for a while. Quebec, New Orleans, and France from Paris to Nice – those were the good times, lots of adventures in semi-exotic locations. Remember all the foods we tried?

Emceeing the 10th annual MINIsOnTop in a tux with a checkered vest to add a touch of class to the event while Pam added a touch of fireworks, yeah – more good times. Really, it seemed like we had something going. We took I-don’t-know-how-many pictures, but we kept 12,647 of them.

The gardens bloomed, the frogs in the pond – the best ever. And the turkeys were plentiful and up to their usual antics. The kids? How ’bout the kids? Addy and Zach are both great. Their lives are chugging along and they let us join them once in a while. Could we hope for more? Sure, but at least we all still talk – better than some. And politics? The elections went pretty much the way I wanted…

So what’s my bitch?

2012, you took my mother, my aunt and any illusions of youth. That’s a bitch with an accent, n’est ce pas?

*cartoon via Tommy Monster – http://www.tommymonster.com/2012/03/father-time/

Joy to the World

December 15, 2012

Caroling

“Evil visited this community today,” Gov. Dan Malloy said at a news conference this evening.

I’m watching this: 20 children shot, 6 adults shot, the shooter dead. I don’t know what to do with this information. The TV shows our president. He cries – he’s a father. I’m a father and a teacher. I know what a classroom of kids look like. I know what my children look like and, thankfully, I don’t know this evil.

I don’t know what a classroom of terror looks like – blackboards, desks and floors shiny with the blood of innocence. I don’t want to know. Ever. I think of the time on TV I saw a boy the same age as my son pulled from a river  – limp after being caught under ice – and how shaken I was. The same bib overalls and blonde locks; so easily it could have been my son, but for place and time. I cried and can’t erase the image – and that image wasn’t bloodied. On the news a child said her teacher told her class to close their eyes and hold on to each other as they were led from the building.

Why would anyone visit this horror on anyone? Mad at your mother? Yourself? I get it, but what arrogance consumes you to take the lives of those to whom you have no connection? To destroy their moms and dads, their nanas and grampies? You took their lives, too, you prick. I only want to understand you enough to stop you. You’re a coward – pure evil with no excuse – I will make no attempt to sympathize. If you wanted me to “get” you, then you lose – fuck you.

I watch more news in more horror. What has the world come to?

My doorbell rings. Really. Now? Who could it be?

It’s a small group of my 8th grade boys singing Christmas carols. These are kids that didn’t get shot. They’re kids who just took a test I gave them. Kids who studied and some who didn’t. They’ll play ball, open presents, have families and, hopefully, never experience this kind of loss. They got to live.

I listened to them sing and thanked them for taking me away from the news, back to my neighborhood, to Christmas time, and the joy of family and friends. I am reminded of just how lucky I am.

I gave them candy – handfuls each. I want to thank their mothers and fathers, their nanas and grampies for having children with the courage to sing at my door – a step to counter the evil that visited Connecticut.

This is what I want to hear next on TV: At a news conference this evening a teacher said, “Pure joy visited this community today!”

What a Bunch of Cry Babies…

October 7, 2012

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Hi – I’m Michael. I’m her baby.

That’s what my mother always said when she introduced me. I’m the youngest of four and Glo told my wife I was her best work. My mother never lied…

This weird image occurred to me late one night while she was in the hospital – shark teeth – a mouth full of shark’s teeth. Probably because of all the news of sharks on Cape Cod, but I thought about it for a bit. Sharks have rows of teeth, one behind the other, and when one breaks off another moves up to take its place.

With Glo’s passing, my brothers, my sister and myself are the front teeth now and I for one don’t like it.

That’s a lot of responsibility. Ads say people judge you by your smile and here we are – front and center – but Glo had confidence in us. She always told me that no matter how much we rebelled and tested her she knew we’d turn out all right. She said it was the Sargent genes.

We all did turn out all right. Now we all have families of our own and some of our children – Nana Glo’s grandchildren – have begun their own families – new teeth for the future.

She liked to point out she had grandchildren from A-Z …twice! My mother liked that kind of humor – bad puns and wordplay. Nana Glo knew that our kids would rebel and test us – She would tell me payback’s a bitch, knowing that everything would be alright. They have the Sargent genes, too.

I would like to add a word or two here from our other sponsor in the family gene pool,  Reginald – our father, but he had a hard time getting a word in edgewise in life so why should death be any different? – Thanks anyway, Reg and a tip of the chromosome to you, too. I know you too played a big part in our lives.

But this is about our mother and your friend and neighbor.  Gloria had thoughts and words for all of us; often not complimentary, but always heartfelt.

Let me tell you about her last few weeks. She had been truly sick for just a very short time. That first weekend visiting her in the hospital I saw how frail she had become. Just a week early I had come down to visit and I took her to the doctor’s office. She had a cough and Dr. Moncholi thought she should have a chest X-ray. We went over to Cape Cod Hospital and we walked all the way to the back of the complex for her X-ray. That was our last real walk, though I did push her around in a wheelchair to look at the art up on the hospital walls, which she could describe in detail.

When she knew that the likelihood was slim of regaining back her health and her independence – to garden, to go to craft shows and symphony, to fully participate in life. She decided that it was time – over all of our objections.

She knew what she wanted. Glo always knew what she wanted. She wanted water, but with no ice. She wanted to vote – Joe got the absentee ballot and she voted. She wanted to die.

She gave us all a moment or two with her. I read the obituary to her I had started and she gave me some corrections and additions. I read her the shell of what I’m reading to you now. I cried.

We all cried because we would miss her. She called us all crybabies and she took off her oxygen, laid her head back and closed her eyes. This was to be the moment. My mother can be an impatient woman, but her body didn’t get the memo.

So now she wanted to watch the debate and was going to watch the debate on her terms. You would only be allowed in the room if you were going to be serious. You had to be seated fifteen minutes in advance to get the chit-chat out of the way. You got shushed and waved off if you so much as cleared your throat. Midway through she fell sound asleep. Her body needed this, exhausted from the steady stream of visitors and illness. But the timing was perfect, she was being transferred out of the ICU to another room.

Awakened from the move, she watched to the end of the debate and clapped. Clearly, this was not for the president’s performance, but for achieving her goal – watching the debate. During the news that followed I noticed she paid particular attention to the weather. I’m thinking to myself how weird that must be – of all the mundane things in life we do, we still do them even with our last moments… She was checking out the five day forecast. Looks like a crappy holiday weekend, except for Friday – drizzle and overcast every day except Friday. My mother got wide eyed and energetically nodded her head in the affirmative each time the weatherman mentioned Friday in the forecast. Little did I know she was making plans, she always knew what she wanted.

We set up for hospice care in her home. The bed was delivered and Peter set it up in front of the slider facing the pond. My daughter, Addy, shopped for some food we could all pick at – She has learned a great lesson from her mother – even in the worst of times people need to eat.

The next morning, Thursday, we got her home in an ambulance with my wife riding in the back with her. Glo was having her own parade and Pam tells me she waved to everyone along the route. Hello, Goodbye! As soon as she was settled Jeff brought her cat, Nuit, so she could pat him. That was something else she wanted. She also wanted Nuit listed first in her obit as next of kin – he is.

Now picture this scene – My mother in a hospital bed in her livingroom, a couple of her kids or grandkids attending to her, hospice nurses doing paperwork, nieces and nephews catching up with each other, my daughter drawing up doses of morphine at the dining room table – and my mother’s gardener arrives with a diaper wearing chicken on a leash. Norman Rockwell never painted this family tableau.

My mother pats the chicken. We all talk about the chicken, the gardens, and what needs to be tended to – and life becomes normal for a minute. We begin making plans, we make jokes about the chicken’s nickname – Wee Willy Winky  – and we think we might be here for sometime – weeks perhaps. But that is not what Gloria wanted. She was not one to linger, when it was time to go – it was time to go.

I think about how she died. We were all in her living room. Her respirations were getting less and less deep, but she did not labor. I needed to sleep and I laid down on the loveseat next to her bed. What seemed like seconds later my wife shook me – I was snoring. I repositioned myself like I always do when I get the shove and went back to sleep. It was only a few minutes later when my wife shook me again and said, “Your Mom has stopped breathing.” I got up and brushed my mother’s forehead and looked around. Surrounded by her family, just as the first light of Friday broke, the only nice day of the week according to the five day forecast, my mother died.

She knew our future – she knew it was her time. I think I see some of what she saw. She had taught us our lessons and put herself inside all of us. She no longer worried. She would live because of the lives we live – and that our children live.

Think about it.

She gardened – We all garden. She has a house of knick knacks – We all have houses of knick knacks. She has cats – We all have cats. She liked to talk – We all like to talk. She was always right – We are always right.

So that’s what I see. We are her. She knew that. She knew things would be OK because she knew she would live through us, her kids and grandkids. We will garden, decorate and feed our cats and, most of all, we will love. Because she loved us.

I miss her. Who will buy me ties like this –  on clearance – in an art museum gift shop? I know I still owe her a thank you note…