Happy Birthday Dad….

“I grabbed a pile of dust, and holding it up,
foolishly asked for as many birthdays as the grains of dust,
I forgot to ask that they be years of youth.”

Ovid


(a rather blurry picture I’ve posted before of dad when he turned 4 in 1932)

I wasn’t very sure we’d make it to today…
and not so certain we’ll finish the day…
but…
for now it will be a day of celebration
as our birthday boy turns 89…

“May the Lord bless you and keep you;
May the Lord make his face to shine upon you and be gracious to you;
May the Lord lift up his countenance upon you and give you peace.

Numbers 6: 24-26

Off to a little celebration

“I grabbed a pile of dust, and holding it up, foolishly asked for as many birthdays as the grains of dust, I forgot to ask that they be years of youth. ”
― Ovid

“People of our time are losing the power of celebration. Instead of celebrating we seek to be amused or entertained. Celebration is an active state, an act of expressing reverence or appreciation. To be entertained is a passive state–it is to receive pleasure afforded by an amusing act or a spectacle…. Celebration is a confrontation, giving attention to the transcendent meaning of one’s actions.”
Abraham Joshua Heschel

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(A very young dad with his big brother Paul–1928 or 29)

So I’m off to a tiny fete this morning…a very wee celebration.
Shhhh…..
Someone is turning 88 today and has asked that all interested parties just…
forget the day,
let it pass,
ignore it…
for it, this milestone of life, represents but one less year remaining on this earth….
one year closer to departing this life….

Well, if you look at it that way, I suppose we’re all working our way closer to demise each and every morning we open our eyes…however…I certainly don’t think that’s any way to live…
merely ticking off the days…especially when there’s a birthday to celebrate…

So celebrate we shall…. despite all the gloom and doom from the birthday boy…

Happy Birthday Dad!!!!!

But this I call to mind,
and therefore I have hope:
The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases,
his mercies never come to an end;
they are new every morning;
great is thy faithfulness.
“The Lord is my portion,” says my soul,
“therefore I will hope in him.”
The Lord is good to those who wait for him,
to the soul that seeks him.

Lamentations 3:21-25

Friday the 13th, it’s your lucky day

God gave us the gift of life;
it is up to us to give ourselves the gift of living well.

Voltaire

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(a female Mallard preens at the stream that runs through the grounds of Adare Manor, County Limerick, Ireland / Julie Cook / 2015)

I suppose a birthday is a day for a true celebration…
A reason for celebrating to the utmost as we only are offered one every 364 days.
A day for getting all gussied up and being able to preen about for a day…
just like the belle of the ball.
Or so that’s how I hear some folks go about a birthday.

And because I was born on a Friday the 13th I was always told that Friday the 13th was a lucky day for those born on such an ominous day of misfortune…hummmmmmm….

I’ve never been much for drawing a bunch of attention to myself.
I’m a bit shy about this whole birthday hoopla.
I usually do better if it’s someone else’s birthday, allowing me to make the fuss over them…
I don’t do well receiving the “fuss” as it makes me feel rather awkward.
I’m not certain as to why that is…
And mind you, it’s not that I don’t like to be remembered, I do— I’m just one who likes to keep it quiet and simple.

And to some degree I do attribute that whole birthday awkwardness to that whole adoption thing.
Not that my adoptive parents didn’t make birthdays marvelous—they did…
And it’s not so much that I am actually Sophia Loren’s love child….
Don’t look so alarmed…If you’ve been a reader here often enough you will see that that little piece of news surfaces every once in a while, but we still must keep that our little secret as Ms Loren isn’t totally aware of that little fact–but I digress…

Yet in all seriousness, as I ask to be indulged today in all matters serious and or celebratory as it is my birthday, it should be known that I am a firm believer in the transference of emotions from mother to child when a woman is pregnant. A woman who is angry, resentful, fretful, neglectful to and of the child she carries certainly conveys those negative feelings, thoughts and actions to that unborn child.

And whereas you may think I’m going off a bit half cocked on this one, I have spent many years having done a good bit of reading, study and research on the topic as it obviously hits close to home.

Imagine a woman who is pregnant…
A woman who did not want to be pregnant…
A woman who is shocked by the pregnancy, angry over the pregnancy, embarrassed by the pregnancy…
A woman who goes to great lengths to hide her pregnancy…so much so that she does not seek prenatal care, does not take care of herself as a pregnant woman should…plots and plans to immediately “get rid” of said baby once “it” is born…or even worse, harbors ill will to the unborn child and even considers ways of doing away with it entirely…

Terrible yes, but sadly it happens.

And now how are we to ever imagine that this little living, breathing human being inside is to develop happily, full of health and vigor, if there is a massive sense of dread and resentment and plotted abandonment looming over its arrival…
No warm and fuzzy nurturing here.
No fun little baby showers.
No bright happy nurseries.
No imagining what a little life’s potential is to be…
No warm daydreams of what will be…
Rather just dread, denial, anger, resentment, loathing…

Therefore pregnancy and parenthood are not to be entered into lightly…The ultimate responsibility for another life is woven into that mystical nine month time period…

So yesterday evening I caught a snippet of a story on the national news about some sort of law suit being filed by a group of women who had become pregnant while taking a particular brand of birth control pill. It seems that the pills had been mislabeled in the box–making the pills less effective on the days they were thought to be more effective.
These 100 plus women, who got pregnant due to the said ineffectiveness of the pills, are now suing the pharmaceutical company for damages and unplanned costs of now having to raise unplanned and unwanted children.

The story stated that 94 of the women continued with the pregnancies, carrying the babies to term.
Yet they are part of a law suit that states that they want to reimbursed for cost of raising a child and educating a child as they hadn’t bargained on doing such…

Hummmm…

Am I the only one left standing here wondering what of this is good?

I wonder how these children, who when old enough to understand, will feel knowing that their moms sued because they really didn’t want them in the first place and didn’t bargain on having to take care of them financially for say the next 25 years or so.

If that just doesn’t scream of warm and fuzzy parental nurturing….

Perhaps the irony of sadness here is lost only on me.

I have never been one to believe in birth control as a green flag for sex. It’s just simply not that easy nor that simple–despite everyone’s desire to make it so.

There is a grave and deep responsibility to having sex that our society, our culture, has apparently lost all sight of…
Even if you remove the Religious component there still exists a huge responsibility to having sex—it should be anything but causal.

Sex in our society has become as common place as buying a Coke.
Sex is sex and that’s that…no one wants it to be anything more–just a moment of self satisfaction reduced to a carnal animalistic level.

It seems as if it has become an unalienable right right up there with voting.
Sex is a huge marketing ploy, it’s huge in advertisement, huge in entertainment, huge in sales, huge in all sorts of venues that make this capitalist county of ours run—any dinnertime commercial espousing the importance of “looking for that just right moment” of Viagra or Cialis can tell you that.

Sex on a first date is as common as buying a pack of gum.
No longer is there commitment, a relationship, a thoughtfulness of both parties, or God forbid there be a marriage before hand as that is just so last century…or maybe even two centuries ago…

Yea yea, I know and I get it—I’m too old fashioned, or I simply don’t understand, or I’m just too uptight, or I’m too naive, or I’m too religious, or I’m too much of a prude, or I’m no saint so shut the hell up, or I’m too old, or I’m too conservative, or I’m too…just fill the blank…

I will simply say that it should behoove all of us to remember that sex comes with a huge responsibility that has a variety of end results and ramifications. Lest anyone one of us forget that nothing is a 100% guarantee to stop said ramifications but for one thing and one thing only—that being abstinence—and we all know that that ain’t happening in this “I want to do what I want to do, when I want to do it and how I want to do it… so there” society of ours.

The sexual revolution of the 60’s….
Now there’s a revolution which has had catastrophic reverberations…
Sex for sex sake, we all can now have our cake and eat it too…we’ve rationalized everything, ignoring others, just in order to have our cake and eat it to the point that we legalized abortions by golly, we made morning after pills and we’ll do anything we have to do, even up to sertilizing ourselves, all in the name of having responsible irresponsible sex—causal or otherwise just because we want to so therefore we can—“it’s my body, my party and I won’t be crying”…that’s our liberated selves in a nutshell

Wherever has the importance gone?
The big deal?
The whole overwhelming awe in creating of a new life?
The desire to form a family?
The wonder of being a couple?
The mystical bond between a man and a woman bound in a single union?
The nurturing?
The specialness of the moment?
The sacredness?
Dare I say it, commitment…as in…for life…for Love???…
Where is the Creator who has joined two in the union for all of Creation…

Please know that I say all of this knowing that at the same time…
Life happens..
There are mistakes, accidents…we do things we regret, we didn’t really mean,
Things we’d change if we could…but simply can’t… or… that’s just the way it is and that’s that…

I am very much a believer in Grace…as I am a product of that Grace in and on so many different levels of this life of mine.
I believe that with God, all things can and will work to His Glory…if we turn it all over to Him…it’s just that some things may take the long way ’round getting there due to our not having listened in the first place…but He can and will still make it work in the end.

I realize that some of you just don’t buy any of what I’m saying and perhaps even vehemently oppose such a thought…
and that’s ok too.

But it is indeed my birthday and I think I’ll have my say since I’m shying away from any sort of hoopla.

And why for heaven’s sake should I venture into such heaviness on a day that is meant to be a day of celebrating you ask….Well I will celebrate later, quietly with my family, but as I have lived long enough now to know, as I reflect on this day of another year of living and to what that living of a life well entails, that we as a society, a culture, have got to turn things around and turn them around fast before turning around is, in a word, impossible…

So, on this Friday the 13th…to all those birthday babies out there young and old, legit or not, happy or sad, adopted or in foster care, alone or surrounded by a throng of loving family and friends– I wish you all happiness, joy and love….
Happy Birthday to me and to us….

Blow out the candles

God gave us the gift of life; it is up to us to give ourselves the gift of living well.
Voltaire

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(a very young, 4 year old “Dad” ready to blow out his candles / Julie Cook / 2015)

Long before there was 2015. . .
Before there was a 9/11
Before there was Homeland Security
Before there was ISIS
Before there was Israel
Before there was Pakistan
Before there was a USSR
Before there was the People’s Republic of China
Before the baby Baltic States
Before there was a Desert Storm
A Vietnam
A Korean conflict
Before there was a nuclear bomb
A World War II
Before there was transatlantic travel
Before there was the passing away of a brother
Before there was a remarriage
Before there was the passing away of a wife
Before there was the passing away of a mother
Before there was a grandson
Before there was a granddaughter-n-law
Before there was the passing away of a son
Before there was a son-n-law
Before there was the passing away of a father
Before there was a daughter
Before there was a marriage
Before there was college
Before there was high school
Before there was elementary school
Before there were computers
Before there were cell phones
Before there were portable phones
Before there was television
Before there were DVDs, CDs, HD
Before there was digital
Before there was color, when the world was black and white
Before there was the 21st century. . .
There was a 4 year old boy who sat down before his birthday cake and began to blow out the candles on that March 10, 1932. . .a day that was full of the wishes of the hopes and dreams that have now spun the past 87 years. . .
Happy Birthday Dad

Mother, the moon looks lovely tonight

“Moonlight drowns out all but the brightest stars.”
― J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings

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(photograph: moon as seen from Julie’s back porch/ 2013)

Next week is my mom’s birthday, or actually it would have been her birthday. My mom died 27 years ago from a short battle with cancer.
I think she’d be 80 next week. Wow…
That’s hard to imagine.
My mom had just turned 54 when she died. She had become quite sick with what was an out of the blue case of pneumonia. Odd for someone who was never sick and was an avid tennis player (I hate tennis but that’s another story)
She was hospitalized on July 25th.
She stayed in the hospital with what was then soon diagnosed as lung cancer. She died 6 weeks later, having never left the hospital.
I am now her age.
I don’t think I feel like my mom when she was this age. At least I don’t think I do. Mother seemed, well, like mother, not like me, a daughter. And thinking about my mom being 80, well that’s just kind of weird. Dad is 85, but that just seems like Dad, but Mom at 80….??… My mom was not old when she died and resides, I suppose, in a bit of a time warp. My mom will always be this age I am now. Time stands still in one regard and races forward in another. Almost hurts my head thinking about it.

I don’t know if you noticed the moon last night. It caught my eye as I was cutting out the lights making my way to bed. I was walking past a window when a bright light practically blinded me. “Oooooo, a full moon!!” I hear myself saying out loud. “Camera!!! Where’s the camera??” (remember that is my mantra). I go running through the house grabbing my camera. My startled husband, who had been taking a shower, catches a glimpse of me darting past with camera in hand racing outside—in my pjs. I think he now thinks I’ve totally lost my mind—but what’s new?!

First of all it is almost miraculous that I could even see the moon, what for all our months of cloud cover! Good to know there is still something on the other side of the clouds!!
I took a couple of shots—as best as my little amateur self and camera could muster.

When I think of the moon looking as it did last night, with me glancing up at it, I think about the people I love and care for–those near or far, those living and those deceased. Maybe some of them are also glancing up looking at the same moon just as I am—that always gives me such a nice connected feeling–comforting of sorts.

After my mom died, I had a very hard time to say the least. I was having to care for my distraught dad, while living about 70 miles away in one community, as a newly married young woman. I was also teaching in an entirely different community–trying to be in three places all at the same time..not to mention dealing with my own grief—when there was time…

The juggling had all somewhat started when she first went in the hospital and was in ICU. I made the journey back and forth from home every day. Once school started for the year, there was the commute from home to school, then form school to the hospital, then from the hospital back to home via a long lonely interstate late at night. That went on for the 6 weeks.

Thinking back during those dark days, I find it hard to believe I managed staying sane.

In 1987 Linda Ronstadt came out with a song “Somewhere out there” I didn’t pay much attention to the song until it was paired with the movie “An American Tail”. My son was probably around 3 when the movie came out as a video and of course I had to buy it for us to watch. The story is of the Russian jewish immigrant, Fievel the mouse, and of his separation from his family during the escape from “czarist Russia” –we all know how these things play out…drama, trauma, turmoil, resolution.

When I sat down with my young son to watch this movie, the tale of this young little boy (I can’t help he was a mouse) and of how this little boy mouse becomes separated from his family…the scene where Fievel sits all alone looking up at the sky thinking about his sister, who he had been separated from during turmoil, looking at the moon and the stars— que the song— and I immediately start sobbing.
I can’t hear this song to this day without thinking about my mom and crying. That a grown woman can cry over a song sung by a cartoon mouse….hummmm

Separated by time, age, space, dimensions—somewhere out there my mom is looking down on me, of who I am and of who I’ve become–hopefully pleased as I have, I pray, gotten over the growing pains and the more rough patches of growing up—developing into and coming in to my own as a wife, mother and most importantly as an intact woman who hopes to have made my mom proud…..as I look at this moon this night, I think of my mom and of a little mouse singing a song about “somewhere out there….someone is loving me tonight…”
Happy birthday Mom, I love you too……

Somewhere Out There

written by James Horner, Barry Mann, Cynthia Weil

Somewhere out there beneath the pale moonlight
Someone’s thinking of me and loving me tonight

Somewhere out there someone’s saying a prayer
That we’ll find one another in that big somewhere out there

And even though I know how very far apart we are
It helps to think we might be wishing on the same bright star

And when the night wind starts to sing a lonesome lullaby
It helps to think we’re sleeping underneath the same big sky

Somewhere out there if love can see us through
Then we’ll be together somewhere out there
Out where dreams come true

And even though I know how very far apart we are
It helps to think we might be wishing on the same bright star

And when the night wind starts to sing a lonesome lullaby
It helps to think we’re sleeping underneath the same big sky

Somewhere out there if love can see us through
Then we’ll be together somewhere out there
Out where dreams come true