the in between is what really matters

“How wonderful it is that nobody need wait a single moment before starting to improve the world.”
Anne Frank, Anne Frank’s Tales from the Secret Annex:
A Collection of Her Short Stories, Fables, and Lesser-Known Writings


(looking down on the top of the original grave marker for my grandmother’s
great grandfather / Julie Cook / 2020)

Yesterday, I wanted to escape.

I wanted to go anywhere—anywhere where there were no protests, no looting, no riots,
no fires, no pandemic, no hate…but oddly I wanted to go to a place of death.
Or more aptly put, a place of final rest.

Odd yes, but I just really wanted to go away.
Just for a little while.

So where do you go to escape the world and her madness on the final Sunday in May?

I had a thought.

We got in the car and drove for a while.
Driving to a tiny rural middle Georgia town…
It was the birthplace of my grandmother.

There isn’t much to this tiny speck of a town.
It is a rural area with its share of farming and cattle.

My grandmother isn’t buried here but her mother, sister, and brothers are.
She, on the other hand, is buried in Atlanta and Atlanta is under siege so I wasn’t
about to go back over there…the middle of rural nowhere Georgia was much more appealing.

My grandmother’s father was killed in 1900 during the Spanish American War and
in turn, she and her three siblings were raised by their 26-year-old widowed mother
along with her father–their grandfather.

It was in this small rural town where they were raised.
But how in the world did they get to this place in the middle of
nowhere I’ve often wondered.

I knew that their family had come to this small middle Georgia area by means of Savannah.
Their great grandfather had been born in Savannah and before that, their great-great
grandfather was born in Germany finding his way to Savannah via London and North Carolina.

He fought in Chatham’s Artillery during the Revolutionary War.

The son severed in the Georgia Legislature and later as a state Judge.
Following the Yellow Fever outbreak of 1820 that killed 4000 in Savannah,
the elder man took his small family to rural middle Georgia as a hope
to avoid the sickness found in a swampy coastal region.

And since neither man, grandfather nor great grandfather were buried in
the hometown of my grandmother, I wanted to know where they were.

It didn’t take long to locate them with a quick google search.
They were only about 12 miles away in a small cemetery located in another small town–
the county seat to this particular rural county.


(the grave of the man, along with his wife, who raised my grandmother / Julie Cook / 2020)

And the irony found in my day’s journey was that I got a call while we were exploring the second
cemetery from our son, asking where in Arlington, the Atlanta Cemetery in north Atlanta,
where my dad, his Pops, was buried.

It seems that seeking peaceful rest was a running thread in my small family today.

He wanted to visit his grandfather’s grave, introducing his young son to his great grandfather–
and in turn, my mom, my uncle, my grandmother, my grandfather, and my cousin.
My brother was elsewhere in the cemetery.

A family reunion of sorts.


(my grandson meeting my mom, his great grandmother/ Brenton Cook / 2020)


(my grandson meeting my dad, his great grandfather/ Brenton Cook / 2020)

So with all of this notion of death, eternity and yes, even peace, swirling in my head,
and obviously in my son’s as well, I shifted gears right back to the madness plaguing our land.

For you see, I couldn’t truly get away.

I kept thinking about an article I had read the previous night.

It was an article by a black woman who was riling against anyone using
the phrase ‘all lives matter….’
In her mind, the folks who were saying such a phrase were white and due to their skin color,
“they didn’t get it”—
and thus, such a comment was to be considered racist…
so we can only say black lives matter…while forgetting all the rest.

She was angry.

And the odd thing is that I actually wrote a post about this very thing back in 2015…
five years ago.

Imagine that—five years ago we were digging the same divide we see continuing today.
Five years ago we still had national trouble.
We were riding the wave of the Occupy Wallstreet movement.

Antifa and Black Lives Matter were rising violent groups who sought change by the use
of force and violence at any cost.

Police officers were part of the problem.
In particular white police officers.

We don’t seem to change much in this country because we continue having the same
tragic incidents over and over.

Here is a portion of that post I wrote in September of 2015:

Fast forward to September 1st 2015…
Breaking News…a Fox Lake, Illinois police officer is shot by 3 assailants
and dies from his wounds.
He’s a 32-year law enforcement veteran who leaves behind a wife and four children.
The suspects are still at large as the entire community is put on lockdown.

This incident comes on the heels of a coldblooded assassination,
which took place over the weekend of a Texas Sheriff’s deputy who was shot while simply pumping gas,
filling up his police car.
A man approached him from behind, shooting him executioner style.
When he fell to the pavement, the gunman stood over the body,
emptying his gun into an obviously dead body—an exclamation point of murder.

This incident comes on the heels of a coldblooded assassination, wait, didn’t I just say that…
of two television journalists in Virginia…etcetera, etcetera, ad infinitum.

There’s been a lot of banter recently about “Black Lives Matter”…
However, I heard a response from the Sheriff of the deputy who was shot that I think sums up
all of this craziness best…
his response to the press just following the murder of his deputy was, and I’m paraphrasing…
‘that there has been lots of talk surrounding the Black lives matter conversation
but we all need to drop the qualifiers and understand one thing…
that ALL lives matter—doesn’t matter black, white, brown, yellow…
ALL lives matter…’

For you see, in this one man’s grief over the wasteful loss of life,
he gets it–he can actually see to the core of what is yet just one more divisional line
to so many divisional lines in this Nation of ours…

…for in the heart of God, there are no distinctions…
there is no line of separation, no color, no status, no sides, no qualifiers…
all that exists is a Love that is as wide and tall as it is deep…as in never-ending.

It does not discriminate, nor does it look twice…
it does not set limits nor does it demand anything in return…
It is equal, all-inclusive, welcoming, and offered to each and every one…
who so chooses to accept it—-
and that’s the kicker…
choosing to accept it––
choosing love, forgiveness, surrendering of self, of pride, of ego, of hate, of suspicion
in exchange for Love…
a Love that has been offered from a Father and bought with the ultimate price by a son,
so that you and I could stop the madness and live a life that finally lets go of the hate—

So today, these five years later, I still say all lives matter.
I still say folks who seek violence as a means to an end are thugs.
I still know that we are all born and that we will all die.
And I know, more importantly, that it’s what happens in between both that living and that dying
that is what matters most.

I always find solace in knowing of those who went before me just as I find hope in knowing
that it is particularly important that I leave a path of goodness for those who
follow after me.

I would think that George Floyd would have desired that his life and death be remembered
not for the begetting of more deaths and violence but rather for the possibility of positive
changes for a future generation…

May God have mercy on the United States.

So in Christ Jesus you are all children of God through faith,
for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ.
There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female,
for you are all one in Christ Jesus. If you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s seed,
and heirs according to the promise.

Galatians 3:26-29

Thankful

As seen on a rural church sign:

It’s not happy people who are thankful…
It’s thankful people who are happy


(painting by Henry A. Bacon 1877 of Mary Chilton stepping onto “Plymouth Rock” /
Mary Chilton is my long ago relative)

Back in the early 1950s my grandmother, my dad’s mother, did extensive genealogy work.
She had her reasons and I confess that I am so grateful she did

It is because of her exhausting work that both my family, my cousins and I,
have a valuable gift of our lineage.

Lineage, that being the line from whence we come.
Even the Bible offers us the extensive lineage of Jesus—
We are also all a part of that same extensive lineage, yet that story is for another day.
Today’s tale is about a single family’s lineage and the gratitude for that lineage.

Now if you’ve read my posts regarding my adoption,
you know I actually have two family trees.

I have a biological tree that I know very little about.
And I also have an adopted tree, a tree and a people that have each embraced me
as their own.
It is a most extensive tree.

What my grandmother started almost 70 ago was no easy task.

She had to do a lot of leg work on her own as well as seek the help of many others.
She had to write a myriad of letters and make many personal phone calls to various state
record departments as well as to state historians in order to enlist their help in
researching her family’s past.

This was long before there were computers, databases, DNA Genealogy companies—
as archaic landlines were the standard norm.
Most calls were considered long distance…meaning you paid extra for long-distance calls.
But my grandmother was determined.

What she didn’t realize then, in her seemingly very personal quest, was
that she was giving her lineage, her grandchildren
one of the greatest gifts she could give.

That of a collective uniting history.

In those days there were no immediate connections, so her quest took time.

She had to request birth, death and marriage certificates.
She had to scour family bibles and records.
She had to have documents notarized and verified.
She traveled to courthouses.
She had to get the assistance of others in other states to visit distant courthouses
and churches and cemeteries in order to do a large portion of the digging.

For you see, my grandmother knew she had come from a line of people who
were important to the founding of this now great nation and she needed the proper
validation to be able to be granted the acknowledgment by such organizations as
The Daughters of The American Revolution, The Daughters of the Mayflower, The Pilgrims Society,
The Colonist Society, The Huguenot Society, etc.

This woman, who was born in 1896 in a small country town in the middle of the state
of Georgia, had actually come to be there by way England.

But from England, it was first to Plymouth…and from Plymouth, Massachusettes it was
to various towns in the colony of Massachusetts then to the city of Bristol in the colony
of Rhode Island, next, it was to the city of Savannah in the colony of Georgia
and finally to the tiny town of Molena in the state of Georgia…
but the final resting place was to be Atlanta, Georgia.

Her 10th great grandmother was Pricilla Mullins of London, England.
Pricilla Mullins was married to John Alden of Essex, England.
John was a cooper aka, a barrell maker.
John had a dream and Pricilla shared her husband’s dream.

They were on that fateful ship that we tend to remember each Thanksgiving,
just as we remember that first colony of Plymouth and of that first
celebration of not only survival but the beginning of thriving in a new land.

The Alden’s first daughter born on this new mysterious land was named Elizabeth–
the purported first white European girl born to the Plymouth Colony.

So yes, Thanksgiving is important to me on a family’s historical level…
but it is more important to me as a grateful American.

For it matters not how we came…be it those who were first here on the continent,
or if we came via Plymouth, a slave ship, Ellis Island or came with a visa in our
hand seeking citizenship…we have come…
We also have come in various shades of color.
Red, White, Brown, Black, Yellow…

We fought and died creating a new nation just as we’ve fought and died keeping her free.

It troubles me terribly that our society has developed a tendency to gloss over Thanksgiving…
basically jumping from Halloween to Christmas in one fell swoop…
But we can blame that on our obsession with materialism…
which is in actuality a loss of thankfulness.

Yet what is most troubling is that we now have many voices crying out that we rename this
day of thanks.
Some smugly stated that this is only a day of overindulgence and eating.
They claim Thanksgiving is not a day this Nation should recall let alone recognize.

One of our fellow bloggers, Citizen Tom, offered the following post regarding
our Nation’s Thanksgiving observation and celebration.

I highly recommend taking the time to read his post as it is a beautiful reminder
as to why Thanksgiving matters.

AN AMERICAN FIRST THANKSGIVING

This from President Washington’s Thanksgiving Proclamation in 1789

Now, therefore, I do recommend and assign Thursday the 26th day of November next
to be devoted by the People of these States to the service of that great and glorious Being,
who is the beneficent Author of all the good that was, that is,
or that will be–
That we may then all unite in rendering unto him our sincere and humble thanks–
for his kind care and protection of the People of this Country previous to their becoming
a Nation–for the signal and manifold mercies, and the favorable interpositions
of his Providence which we experienced in the course and conclusion of the late war–
for the great degree of tranquility, union, and plenty,
which we have since enjoyed–for the peaceable and rational manner,
in which we have been enabled to establish constitutions of government
for our safety and happiness, and particularly the national One now lately instituted–
for the civil and religious liberty with which we are blessed;
and the means we have of acquiring and diffusing useful knowledge;
and in general for all the great and various favors which he hath
been pleased to confer upon us

where can I find a pet leech???

Do you want to do something beautiful for God?
There is a person who needs you.
This is your chance.

Mother Teresa

Isn’t this the greatest picture ever?

Such a happy, handsome and loving couple…

It’s a photograph of my parents in 1958 the year before I was born (hear the pride in my voice)

Oh, you think that couple looks a lot like Gary Grant and Sophia Loren?

Hummmm…

well…isn’t that quite the coincidence?!

If you’ve been with me for a while here in blogland, you’ve already heard me speak of my
beautiful mother Sophia…

but shhhhhh, she doesn’t know.

Those of you who know me or have read much of this little blog over the years,
know that I am actually adopted.

I’ve shared this little tale before but for those of you who haven’t heard this
part of the backstory, I’ll back up a tad…

Back in college, my college roommates, whom I loved and still love, all knew of
my adoption.
One evening when I was in the Library having to do some sort of research on whatever
it was I was researching, I happened upon a shelf of books all concerning adoption.
I started pulling book upon book off the shelf and read about a subject I’d never really
looked into, much less discussed.

I shared with my roommates these new findings and curiosities.
And they too were curious…as many friends have been ever since.

But they also had their fun…of which I did indeed find funny.

They knew how besotted this hopeful one-day art historian was with all things Italia.
I yearned for Italy.
I had taken art history course after course on the Italian Renaissance.
I was smitten by those whom I considered to be the world’s greatest artists.
I had never been to Italy, but there some unseen power constantly pulling
me closer and closer.

So as screwball and silly college kids can be, I came home one day to a picture
of Sophia Loren taped to our room’s door with a hand-scrawled note, “adopt a Wop ”
–a word not considered politically correct—
but once upon a time, before this dreaded PC world of ours,
each country, each ethnicity,
each nationality had its own euphemism for their fellow nations
and fellow nationalities…
and it was what it was and no one much protested.

Everyone had a nickname—the yanks being the US, Frogs were the French and on and on…
Most names came from those things that these nations did or ate that would set them apart
from a fellow nationality.
Italians were not exempt.
Wop is a butchered word which roughly meant ‘thug’…
It originated in the southern Italian region—an area known for its heavy Mafia influence…
and so it goes.

But I was happy and even flattered to be linked to someone like Sophia Loren
and I was happy imaging that I had possibly Italian lineage.

Yet this post is not about all of that so I don’t want to belabor the point.
But just know that I knew I was adopted and must obviously be some sort of lost Italian.

Never mind that I’m actually Scotch / Irish.

So claiming Sophia Loren as a mother, who had no clue that she actually had this
long lost child living in the Southern US, as she was from Southern Italy, seemed so grand.
Add to the fact that whenever anything has gone wrong with me, I’ve always blamed it
on being adopted.

So today is no different.

I had my stress test.

It went ok, sort of.

The nurse told me that if I went on for 10 more seconds,
I would have registered having the heart of a 27-year-old….but…
there was a small anomaly.

When I got up to speed and began huffing and puffing, as I was now running uphill
and just praying I wouldn’t come flying off the back end of this inverted rollercoaster,
my blood pressure did not rise with the level of exerted intensity.
In fact, it didn’t rise at all.
It was the same as the resting rate before the treadmill.

Sooo, the cardiologist has ordered a nuclear stress test—
So I will now glow.

Here in the South we like to say that we don’t sweat, we glisten…
so I can now glisten and glow all at the same time!

He’s also ordered a heart ultrasound for the more compelling reason as to why
I had the stress test.

I’ve often referred to my having a bad thyroid.
I have a condition referred to as Hashimoto’s Disease.
It’s a thyroid that fluctuates like a roller coaster.
For a body to function properly, a thyroid needs to be consistent.
If not consistent all sorts of things go awry.

So I take a thyroid medication, which I’ll take forever and it helps to keep
my levels, level. I’ve taken it for years. I blame the adoption.

I have to go every six months for blood work in order to see if the levels have changed.

I did this last week.

The nurse called the following day…she starts the conversation with “Julie…”
I sensed something different in her voice.
“your liver enzymes are slightly elevated…”
meaning I still have a fatty liver—a result of a lifelong love affair with butter…
I get that from my aunt Julia Child…
“your cholesterol is up”—no news there.
and your hemoglobin is up…but that shouldn’t be too concerning…
however, she
(she being the doctor) still has a few questions so she’s sending
for more testing.”

The nurse calls back, following the weekend, and proceeds with “the news.”

A normal iron level, on the high end, is 150
Seems mine was 5 times higher…almost 600

I laughed rather incredulously.
“What does that mean,” I ask.
She tells me that the body obviously needs iron but my system is acting like a giant sponge.
Working on overdrive.
The body does not excrete iron.
There is no eliminating all the excess, it just keeps going and going, soaking it up.

Excessive iron produces symptoms—
all the symptoms I’ve been having but symptoms that have been simply chalked up to age,
or thyroid disease, or in my little mind, adoption…

Because when all else fails, we always blame the adoption…that being the unknown.

Yet excessive iron poisons the body.

Effecting the big three organs– mostly the heart, liver, and pancreas.

It effects the joints.
It causes fatigue.
It causes depression.
It causes hair to thin and fall out
It causes the fingertips to turn blue

Check,
check,
check,
and check…

But…doesn’t the winter’s dark cold dreariness make us all fatigued and depressed?
I’ve lost two significant family members this past year, that’s cause for depression right?
The blue fingertips is a thyroid symptom, right?
My osteoarthritis is age right?
The hair loss is also the thyroid, right?

This latest life glitch is called Hemochromatosis Metabolic Disorder.

A hereditary genetic mutation…
Mutation,
as in a mutant,
as in an X-Man.

Now it’s all making perfect sense…
As in, there are secret powers that I don’t know about right?
And now I know my family lineage….


(my new family)

So now we see all the connecting of the dots…

I told you it was the adoption!

I asked how one treats this little problem…as in how do I get rid of all this iron???

The nurse flatly states Phlebotomy.

Huh!?

I nervously laugh again.

Oddly, she is not laughing.

Cause all I heard was ‘otomy’…like a lobotomy…as in a hole in my head…

But then reality hits and I was like, “how is that to work??…
what are we talking about??…
giving a little blood or what??”

She tells me it most likely would be a weekly visit to the hospital to have a liter or so pulled off…
as in weekly!!!
As in like a freaking pin cushion.

Never mind that I also now need to cut out iron, alcohol, fat, sugar, citrus, Vitamin C, chocolate,
cooking in cast iron, using my grill (iron grates)…on and on and on goes the list of horror.

Just shoot me now!!!!!

But tea and red wine are ok as the tannin they contain helps impede the absorption of iron
in the body…Go figure.
Cabernet, a headache, and blocked iron…brilliant!

The last time I gave blood was in 1978, I was a senior in high school.
Once the process was finished and they had me to sit up, I immediately fainted.
After about 30 minutes, they tried it again.
Again, I fainted.
Finally, when they thought all was good, I was dismissed back to class.
By now it was lunchtime.

I had just grabbed a salad and was heading to the table when the next thing I know
I’m on the cafeteria floor looking up at a bunch of faces staring down at me as lettuce
was now scattered all over me…

I’ve never given blood to that level since.
I can do vials, tubes etc… just not bags.
And here now, I’m being told I’ll be giving at least a bag a week…
Geez Louise!

So maybe that’s my secret X-man mutant power…
Goodbye Sophia Loren and hello Leechwoman

So yes, now I’m thinking that perhaps if I could just find a pet leech,
I could work out this siphoning business from home so I wouldn’t have to keep going
to the hospital…makes perfect sense.

To be continued…..