Saturday, February 21, 2009

Snow, Snow Go Away!

Ok so this picture was from early this winter but it is snowing again just as hard and now it is February and I want it to all be done! The forecast is for up to 10 inches today!

So what does one do in weather like this? In Wisconsin, we clear it and move on! If the roads aren't cleared by noon, we get frustrated! I am not a skier, sledder or snowball maker. Snow is a nuisance, a condition that I tolerate for the homey Christmas feeling in December but then...take it away!

Time to find a warmer climate

Sunday, February 15, 2009


Out of the blue, I received phone calls over the past three months from two brothers and a sister whom I have not spoken with in at least 2 years. Much like the friendship of my earlier blog, I have to ask myself if it is me who is not reaching out enough!

As a family, we have not been close since my mom died. I was 29 at the time of her death. We tried to maintain a sense of family but we struggled with our differences. Values, beliefs and ethics were vastly different from the oldest to the youngest in our group based on how the world had changed over the span of time.

I was raised at a time when the male/female roles were in turmoil. My mother's lessons were that men should find good jobs to provide for the wife and children. Women should care for their men. The world messages, during my adolescent years, were that women had the right to pursue their own career and duties should be shared.

My oldest sister and brother moved into adulthood with my mother's lessons. My sister married but was frustrated by the knowledge that her husband thought she should work.

My oldest brother felt he had a obligation to provide so would not let his wife work even though she desperately wanted to.

The next older brother got caught in the past but with a selfish, spoiled twist. He believed that he was the bread winner. He also believed that as that bread winner, he had no obligation to assist with anything inside the walls of the home. That was the duty of the woman. He struggled in school but so what. He felt that school was just a nuisance that passed time until he could leave and find the job that would make him wealthy. He believed that he had an inherent right to a job that paid well enough to provide for a family.

My younger brother grew up in the shadow of two older brothers and no dad. My oldest brother tried to be the dad and teach him about duty and work ethic. The younger rebeled against these roles and continued into adulthood rebeling against anything that appeared to be rule driven. He did not like being told what to do.

My younger sister, who was 9 years younger, grew up at the time when drugs and sexual freedoms were the norm. As you can imagine, she and my mom fought about this. This sister married a man who perhaps, like my brother, felt women needed to maintain their place. He gave my sister more than one black eye before she finally left him!

Now today, I have three siblings who struggle with alcohol, drugs and joblessness. They drifted into their own worlds believing that they didn't need anyone. Now today they hover around issues of depression and point fingers of blame at the world that they believe caused them to not be able to have their American dream.

My oldest sister and I have maintained a friendship and although she was raised in the past and would love to have someone care for her, she has fought alone to raise children and care for herself. She works hard to have the things she wants and works even harder to continue to dream hopeful dreams. I am a mix of everything except I do not want to be taken care of. In fact during the women's movement, I argued that I did not need to join a liberation movement to show that I was capable! I do have the sense of duty and work ethic and I continue to dream hopeful dreams along with my sister. I do not, however, believe that the world owes me anything. I have what I have because of me, no one else! My oldest sister and I are fighters. That's the difference! We take what is, acknowledge it and then move on! We talk daily, share ups and downs, help each other when we need to.

The calls from the others recently were calls for help! They are losing everything now that they thought was a right. The world can be a dark place when you have no money, no home, no family! they want a family again!

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Friends and Family and More

I returned from a vacation to find that a "friend" was taken to the hospital and is in serious condition. I have not spoken to her in over a year.

The "friend" is a person I worked with for many years - she, a music teacher and I, a special education teacher in an elementary school. We collaborated on many elementary musical productions together: laughed and created some amazing shows actually. I considered her a very good friend. I moved on in my career leaving behind the teacher role and entered administration. She would comment often about crossing to the "other side"! She got angry when I ran a staff meeting before a holiday with business as usual. She said loud enough for all to hear "You should know better!" After she retired, she wanted me to join her for lunch and insisted that now that I was in administration there was no need to return in an hour. "You don't need to go back. You're an administrator!" I stepped back.

We moved into the district as part of a requirement for being in administration and my husband and I called often to ask if they wanted to join us for dinner but she and her husband were always busy. We hosted two parties for her and other teacher friends and were never invited back. We stopped calling.

This friend suffers from arthritis and ended up confined to her home and to a wheelchair. I should have gone to see her. I know I should have continued to reach out. When we did happen to see each other, there was anger in her face and her words were full of blame. "Why don't you come to see me? Why don't you call." I said, "The phone works both ways." and I backed further away.

Instead of being a friend, I left her! Now she lies in a hospital and the family is asking for words of kindness, prayers, and memories to fill her mind. I want to tell her how much I enjoyed those early days. She and I would sit at her dining table and eat pizza and write the script for an elemenentary musical extravaganza year after year. We loved the fun of it all. Her face would glow at the end of each production. We had made memories for so many kids. She had coveted those memories for years and years after. Oh how I wish I could have continued to share those memories with her. I wish I could tell her that I didn't leave her. She left me!