As usual after the break of the Sabbath – TV and computer off from sundown to sundown, I’ve found something amazing as I reconnect. My friend Cooper Munroe, who with her partner did more to get resources to New Orleans than most governments — via a BLOG (!!) has posted, on her blog BEEN THERE, Steve Jobs’ graduation speech at Stanford. It’s best if you just see for yourself — just watch it. More tomorrow.
Yeah, we’re home – and as usual it’s like walking into an electric fan. We landed, unpacked, did laundry, slept (until 3AM) then Rick went back to the airport for a fund-raising trip to California. I’m working on several major projects and wanting to organize for when the boys come home for the holidays. Grocery lists and activity planning in addition to many hours of business obligations.
Lots on my mind. Today a friend told me about the last conversation she had with her father and I was ambushed by a deluge of memories. It’s tough to come to terms with the loss of a parent. Both of mine have been gone for years and there isn’t a day I don’t think of them — and, often, wish I could ask them something – or tell them something — or just feel their love again. I haven’t felt this way in a long time and it surprised me. I just wasn’t expecting the intensity.
I once sent my dad the lyrics to a Judy Collins song about her father. It’s a wonderful evocation of the love between fathers and daughters and the bitter-sweet realization that one’s life will exceed that of a beloved parent. It’s what they’d wish for us but it’s complicated. Anyway there wasn’t a moment of my life when I doubted the love for and faith in me felt by both my parents.
There were also circumstances in my life that led me, in my memory at least, to be less attentive than I wanted to be. I think it will haunt me forever- times when finances or my own parental responsibilities kept me from visits; times when I let my dad tell me not to come because he didn’t want us to "see him like this." — all those things we all wish we’d done differently. I am beginning to think that this is a real issue for me and one I’ve got to get some clarity about.
This is the second time in the space of the 90 days or so I’ve had this blog that my dad has come up and he’s been gone since 1991. Somehow though I’m more at peace with the loss of him. I can summon memories that make me smile and I know that he had a profound and lovely effect on my sons, which adds to my own fond remembrances of him.
My mother, who died in 1998, haunts me though. I know things in her life frustrated her – and that she would have liked to do more in the world outside the house. My husband told both her and me that I was guilty that my arrival had pulled her out of a promising career but she insisted that that was HER choice and I should get over it. That she loved raising the three of us. I don’t doubt that she loved raising her daughters but I also think she needed more than she was able to get in life as a suburban mom. I don’t know – all I know is that I feel a need to be particularly helpful to elderly women on the street, or the bus, or the synagogue steps. As if I can do for her by doing for them. Agh. I don’t know. I’m going to bed to see if I can beat the last of the jet lag. This is too sad.
My older son used to shave his head. He’d lost lots of hair on top anyway so just shaved all of it off and looked way cool. I used to tease him that he needed an earring too but he said he was his own kind of rebel – being the only person to graduate from his free-spirited university with "no new holes." He’s always been his own self. Very cool, he and his equally groovy brother have kept me up to date with what’s new in music, books, film and world view. They are, honestly, two of the most interesting people I know. But I digress.
Thursday night at a Thanksgiving dinner in his new, very beautiful condo, he started talking casually about his grey hairs. GREY! Then his [younger] brother chimed in about "a couple" that he had. Now this is not easy. If my children have grey hair what does that make me? Not to be selfish or anything but it’s kind of disconcerting.
Aging is inevitable and I’ve been fortunate in my progress along this continuum but when your kids begin to demonstrate the passage of time you have to take a deep breath and accept it. I just read a piece in the New York Times about Baby Boomers refusal to join AARP. I can relate to that. My PARENTS belonged to AARP. No thanks.
Yeah — that’s me just above here. I think in 1967.
I feel about as silly as Peter Pan ( I won’t grow up. Not a penny will I pinch. I will never grow a mustache, Or a fraction of an inch. Cause growing up is awfuller, Than all the awful things that ever were. I’ll never grow up, never grow up, never grow up, No sir, Not I, Not me, So there!) but that doesn’t change my mind.
An old friend used to say "Call me adult anytime you want; just don’t call me a grown-up." I guess that’s how I feel. Counter-cultural and generational identity is strong in people my age and I feel it particularly. I did dozens of Boomer stories when I worked at the TODAY SHOW – including a series when Boomers (including me, Bill Clinton, George Bush, Ben Vereen, Donald Trump, Susan Sarandon, Goldie Hawn and Cubby O’Brien) began turning 40 in 1986 and an entire year of anniversaries of 1968 in 1988. I am formed and INformed by the time of my birth and have always known it. I joke that I’m a "walking demographic" but it’s true.
SO. I will handle the grey hairs on the beloved heads of my beloved sons. I pray for and wish them well in their own journeys and am more grateful than I can describe both for them– and for the experiences of my own eventful life. And that’s not bad — not bad at all.
We’ve been up since 4:40 (7:30 at home.) Fortunately there’s a CLOSER marathon on TNT so we’ve had some entertainment. Now the dawn is emerging (that’s what’s in the photo — our view from the Hyatt) and pretty soon we’ll be wandering back over to our son’s home for Thanksgiving. It’s the first year he’s done it at his home and it’s pretty exciting.
The airport yesterday was full of families with kids of all ages on the way to visit people they love for the holidays. Whatever we may think about our country – and there’s plenty to be upset about – and however much we may worry – correctly — about the state of American families when 40% of new borns are born to single mothers — it’s still true that most American families of whatever makeup are loving and devoted –at least part of the time.
My sister is having our cousin for Thanksgiving at her house in Massachusetts and it will be the first time in probably 30 years that this much-loved cousin will be with any of the Samuels “girls” on Thanksgiving Day. We have all gone our separate ways and aren’t together enough but those feelings that anchor our lives are still very much part of us and, I think, of all the people we passed coming and going in the airport.
So to all of you – and all of us — happy Turkey — love your families and count your blessings. I know that’s what we’re going to do.
OK. So it’s really true. Delta Airlines actually removed a nursing mother from a flight for breast feeding her child. The mother, Emily Gillette, noted that she was in the second-to-last row, next to the window, and “her breast was not showing.” A flight attendant apparently offered her a blanket to cover what she believed was already covered enough and she declined. At that point the attendant asked that the family be removed from this three-house-late flight. If you’ve ever traveled with a toddler late at night on a delayed flight you know how hard it is to settle them down. Besides, from the reports I read, the decision to nurse was made partly because kids often cry on takeoff and landing because of the pressure changes. One of my kids used to get ear infections when we flew because the pressure pushed mucus around in his eustation tubes – until our pediatrician suggested we give him Benadryl before flights to dry him out. So I know it’s an issue.
More importantly though – what could possible have “offended” the flight attendant who asked for the removal? We know that gate agents comply with these requests as a matter of policy and we know this is one of those puddle jumper subcontractor airlines and maybe they aren’t as worldly as larger ones but everyone has been a baby and she was in the back of the plane in a CORNER for heaven’s sake. Lots of you have been very funny on your blogs about this but I’m just not in a funny mood . It is a reflection of our larger policy toward children and it ain’t good. Somehow everything comes before the kids. Even the sensibilities of the only person likely to even notice this going on – that flight attendant.
While everyone is so censorious about nursing – I happened in the same weekend that I read this to fly from DC to Orlando and spend an hour and a half in the United Red Carpet Room – a very pleasant and useful luxury if one travels frequently. Here’s the thing. There are apples and bananas and oranges and 3-4 kinds of juice and pretzels and TWIX bars and sometimes even cheese and crackers sitting around in there. So when grownups are hungry – or even when they’re not – it’s all available and it’s all free (unless you count the annual feel for the Red Carpet Card.) I was going to write about how hard it is for me NOT to take a whole bunch of stuff in my tote bag – if only because it’s free. This time I failed – partly because the stuff was kosher and I thought we might need it. Three tomato juices, 4 tiny pretzel bags, five mini-Twix bars and two granola bars. And over the weekend we used them all. But isn’t it funny that I can get free food and carry it on in quantity while a 22 month old child three hours late for dinner can’t even get what’s naturally, organically, God-givenly hers? Somehow there’s nothing funny about that.