I won’t apologize

It is the weekend of September 11, 2016.  Fifteen years since America’s last major attack on one of its’ major cities.  So many innocent people died that day.  So many innocent people were injured that day.  So many innocent people remain ill and many are dying because of that day.  Our President elect during that time has been accused of mishandling the action taken to combat the evil that exists in the part of the world that attacked us. I am not among those who would know the truth about the reason he chose the action he did and I try not to judge others, instead choosing to believe in the good of all mankind.  Don’t get me wrong, I also see evil in the world and the people who are the epitamy of that evil.

Many people have chosen to see the attack and its aftermath as a devious plot on the American side.  They have chosen to blame America for its own attack. Some of these people are my friends, some are strangers to me. Well I don’t believe that conspiracy.  In my heart I know it was evil that attacked America that day.  I know that they chose the World Trade Center because it was the financial hub of the entire country.  We are a capitalist country and those who are evil, the ones who hate our way of life, chose that target with one idea to ruin our country economically.  They hoped to destroy us from within by destroying our financial pulse.  They knocked us down for a little bit as the following years showed, but they didn’t destroy us nor did they win in any sense of the word.  They didn’t think we had the committment to keep our country strong, but they were wrong.

Now I am surround by people who are hurting America from within.  They have been blinded either by fear and/or frustration. Once more, they blame America for their personal problems.  People are people and given the freedoms they have here to keep their own languages, to keep their own cultures, to keep their own religions they are managing to cause more problems instead of solving the ones we face everyday.  The fear and stubborness of so many Americans and the immigrants that live here are at the core of our current issues.  We are forgetting that we are ONE COUNTRY, ONE NATION.  If one part of us gets hurt we all get hurt, but if we don’t fix those hurts we will destroy the entire body.  There is so much more good than bad in America.  We are losing sight of that fact.  Everyone seems to have gotten the idea that one race is better than the other.  That one class of people is better than the other class of people.  That isn’t why America was founded.  That is so far from what America truly is.  Are we fallible? Yes! But only from our own citizens.  It is time to put away the hate.  It is time to get out of our own selfishness and realize that only UNITED we will face future attacks from evil beings.  That all the people who sacrificed in the past for us to have our freedoms believed it was to keep us UNITED.  “Biting the hand that feeds you” is detrimental to your own survival.   Americans should know this.
Too many since the beginning of our birth have sacrificed to get us through some of the worst times in history.  The point is we did get through.  The point is we should want to be better by now.  I believe with all my being that people who hate America and live in America should leave America.  Many of those whom shout the loudest about how awful we are as a country are the ones who have benefitted most from what this wonderful country has offered them.  They should really find somewhere else better suited to their ideals because if they all left we would probably have lots more room for the refugees who need a new country, who want a new country, who will become citizens who appreciate their new country as our ancestors did before us.

We are currently in the middle of a Presidential election year.  Before us are two people with very different ideas about the direction our country should take.  We have to elect one of them to be the face of us, to show their leadership of the greatest country in the world.  For me neither one has the qualifications to do this.  One is corrupt, the other acts like an idiot.  However, no matter what I personally think, one of them is definetely going to be elected.  All I can do is pray that the right one gets into office and proves their worth.  All I can do is hope they realize what a great country America truly is and how her people, her ideals, her future is worth every effort on their part to protect her.  These issues that are within our own borders  in today’s world are solvable issues.  The issues that face us outside our borders are far less likely to be solved.  Whatever the future holds, whatever fate has in store for us, we need to face it together united in the respect of our country, united in the responsibility we each have to make us worthy of being the beacon of light to all those who are persecuted throughout the world.  This can only be accomplished if we are united as Americans.  The families of the innocent people who died and were injured on September 11, 2001 deserve to know that they didn’t sacrifice for nothing.  We owe it to all those from the Revolutionary War to the Iraq War who fought for America that we can keep their legacy alive and keep America beautiful. With this comes the responsibility to keep the evil and the haters out of American borders whether they come from the North, South, East or West.  Makes no difference if they hate America they shouldn’t live here.  We can only survive as a nation if we have pride in our country.  We can only survive as a people if we learn to live together as one people..American people.

So no I won’t apologize for loving this country.  I won’t apologize for loving all people of every race and every class.  I won’t apologize for loving the animals that roam the earth and the lands that provide us with beauty and survival.  I won’t apologize for believing as I do and for stating it for the world to see.  I won’t apologize because I have nothing to apologize for being an American.  If I have one thing to leave to my chldren and grandchildren I hope I leave them the pride I have in America and the belief that we are privileged to live here.

And that is the way I see it, here in Brooklyn.

K

A New Year

As I sit here reflecting upon the passing of 2014 my mind is clear and clouded both rendering indistinguishable. I always believed life would get better as a person aged. I am finding that it’s truly all an illusion. Life is really what you make of it.

As the body breaks down and the mind grows wisdom, emotions remain the same. Whether you are blessed with health or devastated by disease you stand the same chance of finding economic concerns, memories of past successes and failures, lives lost, lives saved, loves that have faded with time and love that still fans the flame.

Those losses could be the people, or they could be the jobs one held, the career one had or the possessions once believed to be signficant to your well-being.  Perhaps there is a new spiritual connection as one grows older or perhaps it lessons.  Whatever applies to an individual the most is what seems to be the driven force within one’s self.

Make your mistakes, take your chances, look silly, but keep on going. Don’t freeze up.”
― Thomas Wolfe, You Can’t Go Home Again

Although not much has changed for me individually in the past year it has changed for many others I am close to.  There have been serious illnesses, weddings, births, graduations, engagements and even deaths.  Their changes have added to my wisdom and have taxed my physiological trials to the max.  My mind had suffered in a way that is surprising even to one as optimistic as myself. Those days where I was too busy to think, I now find I cannot achieve much more than thinking, rethinking and thinking even more.  Can I share those thoughts?  Most probably not, and not because I can’t, but because I don’t choose to share most of them as yet.  They are still indistinguishable and therefore, not easy to distribute nor select here or anywhere.  Insight from them comes to me slowly, yet discernible.  Just putting them into action gives them wings so widely stretched that it covers my rationality from end to end. I suppose it is meant to be this way for most of us and so, in reality, they are  nothing new.

At this stage of life , as I embrace 2015 my desire is to complete a collection of written work that I will pray gives a message and reveals a hidden truth both for myself and for others. Perhaps I will succeed, or perhaps I will fail, but no matter which way it turns out, I will treasure them, believe in them and hold strongly to them.  The illusion I have lived will fade into the past just as 2014 dissolves into oblivion.  From what remains, I will gather and keep the wisest and happiest in order to “not freeze up” as Mr. Wolfe suggests.

Attempting to change  individual choice is futile because the argument isn’t strong and the mind with its newly constructed paths will adjust because it needs  to in order to stay alive. So my life remains as it has with a renewed hope that my words will make a difference to those who may need a rope to cling to or only a hand to hold.

2015 can be whatever we each make it to be. It can revive us or destroy us, give us joy or pain, yet no matter what is to come, those of us who are here in whatever state of our body or mind, we are still here. That realm of existence, within itself, provides the power of hope. Here’s hoping each of us exercise our wills to make our lives better. Ideally to make a difference if not for ourselves, than for others.

Happy New Year!

And that is The Way I See It,here in Brooklyn.

K

 

 

Lessons in Life

You cannot run from your past. No matter how deeply your mind’s self-preservation hides those experiences. Doesn’t matter if they are good or bad, happy or sad. Those memories of the past are still there. Every once in a while they get triggered.

A recent family issue has brought one of those memories to the very forefront of my mind. All of the feelings I had arose right along side those memories and they hurt no less today than they did back then.  Doris’ birthday is July 7th and there is not a day that goes by that something or other makes me think about her, but none are more conscious than on her birthday.  She left this world on February 27, 1982.  Five months shy of her 47th birthday.  Her death was not an easy one.  Her life was not an easy one.  Yet, her kindness, her intelligence, her beauty never diminished until the very end.

My sister Barbara and I flew to California that week in February of 1982, trying to prepare for the worst.  We received a call from her significant other and her son telling us that she was dying from liver disease and if we wanted to see her we should fly out immediately.  It wasn’t until we arrived that I found the real reason for the calls.  They needed me to sign off on her death.  She was on a ventilator. Her body deteriorating to skin and bones.  Her once vivid red auburn hair now a dull grey.  Her eyes so full of life and promise now gazing far away as if she could see something none of us could.  My heart was so heavy seeing her lying so helplessly in that hospital bed and Barbara, I am sure felt the same.

Here is where my past comes back to haunt me.  Since the age of 13 I knew Doris gave birth to me, but I didn’t know her as a mother, only as a sister, but that is another story for another time.  It seems that the doctors in California needed consent to turn off the ventilator.  They were telling us that her brain was dead and that the machine was breathing for her.  I couldn’t bring myself to admit that.  She just looked at me.  She gestured for me to come down to her mouth so she could say something in my ear.  I couldn’t really make out what she was trying to tell me, but I had a deep feeling inside that I knew without the use of comprehensible words.  She thought I didn’t know how much she loved me and how she loved her two children just as much.  I could see it in her eyes that she didn’t want to go, but had no choice now.  Same as most of her life she had no choice but to make the decisions circumstances presented to her.  How could I, knowing this turn off a machine that kept her with us?  I just couldn’t do it.  I had to consult with the rest of the family.  We had just lost “our” mother in December of 1979, how could we now be expected to lose Doris as well?  It couldn’t be this way.  There had to be another answer.

For five brutality hard days we stayed in California.  Everyday calling home to Brooklyn to report on any progress she had made, but there wasn’t any. She remained the same and seemed to be melting away before my eyes.  She never opened her eyes after that first time when we arrived.   She was sleeping I kept telling myself.  Just in a deep sleep and soon she would wake up and we would remove that machine then and she would breathe all by herself.  The doctors kept bursting that idea everyday.  Her significant other and her two children were also of the same consensus.  They kept telling me I had to let her go.  She was not there, her brain was dead.  I had to sign off on papers that would shut off that machine and agree to DNR orders.  She had no will so I didn’t know her wishes.  All I knew about her was the things she would tell me during our phone calls.  She was a drinker so she would call me in the middle of the night and talk to me for hours about her life and dreams and her hopes.  She would tell me her concerns about her young daughter and her pride in her son.  She would beg me during those calls to watch out for them, to protect them.  I could never really make that promise because our lives were so separate, although I have tried in the past to mend those fences, it just was too torn down to salvage.  So her wishes for herself never arose in those conversations.  She was very unselfish by nature and would never think of herself first in any instance.  So those thoughts were with me as my sister and I walked through Doris’ life in those five days.

We met her friends, we saw where she lived.  We did things that she would have done on a normal day in her life in California.  After a few days, we were able to get a clearer picture of her and how she lived.  Her life wasn’t perfect, but then no one’s life is perfect.  She was, however, surrounded by love and as far as we could tell she was happy for the most part.  I found comfort in knowing that.  Finally, the fifth day in California had come and I could no longer delay the decision I knew I had to make.  The family back here in Brooklyn didn’t want to give her up, but they couldn’t see her.  Back then we didn’t have the same technology we have today.  It was my word and Barbara’s word that they had to rely upon.  After confirming with doctors one last time, I signed the order to remove the machine and a DNR order.  Within an hour she was gone.  It was just the machine keeping her alive.  It didn’t matter how I felt or anyone felt, her body and mind were finished on this earth.  The disease decided for her.  I still have no doubt that if she had the choice to live on she would have, even though most of her past was painful.  Somehow I know she never really forgot those painful past memories and experiences, but for a short while she found a way to live with them instead of resisting their constant power over her will, hence her drinking problem.  I could say “if only” forever, but it won’t change what was or what is.  People would say she brought it upon herself.  I will tell them they are wrong.  Her past brought it on her.  Things that she lived through from a very young age haunted her short life and even though she was smarter than most women I know, she just never put herself first and that in the end destroyed any chance she ever had of a full life.

The decision I had to make that day changed my life forever.  It placed a crack in my heart that has never healed.  She was my invisible support system.  Her words of advice no matter how seldom she had a chance to give them to me were chosen wisely and I listened.  Her love of life, her passion for new things, her love of people are my legacies from her.  How could anyone think the decision that was placed upon my shoulders to shut off the machine that kept her breathing was an easy one for me?  Something that profound is never easy on anyone who has the responsibility.  The most important part to remember though isn’t what we need or want, it is what the person would want. If Doris would have been a vegetable with the machine, she would have wanted to turn it off and I know that.   Her quality of life was gone a while before she wound up in the hospital because the disease was eating her alive.  Trying to save her would have been easy, letting her go was the hardest thing I ever had to do.

Today I sit and I watch as another family member is going through a similar heartache.  My heart aches for them.  I know, I really know that they can’t see beyond the need they have for the person to remain alive and I hope that it will be okay for everyone involved.  I hope that the person isn’t suffering as I believe they are and that the person’s family will find the courage and love to let the person go one day soon.  It won’t be easy to do and it will hurt beyond recognition.  It will, however, also be the most unselfish act they could ever perform. It will also be that memory that stays hidden in the mind, where it resides so that your life can continue and where along with all the other memories it only gets triggered on occasion just so you never really forget or escape from the lesson in life that it taught you.  So happy birthday Doris.  You are not forgotten.  You are forever imbedded in our hearts.  Your life was worthwhile and your soul lives on.

And that is the Way I See It here in Brooklyn.

K

doriscopy

Everything Changes

Another year has passed by and I am still feeling the same way I did when I first wrote this piece.  I decided to re-post it because it expresses my innermost feelings precisely.  Please forgive me for any redundancy.

I fell asleep one night twenty-seven months ago and awoke to a startling change in my life.  Back then I never imagined how it would affect me so deeply, so profoundly.  Today when I awoke it became very apparent to me that my life would never again be the life I had known for the last twenty years and surprisingly I found I am totally unprepared.

Funny how people take their everyday routines for granted.  Some people never give it a thought, while others plan every moment.  Some people love their jobs, while others drudge themselves through it.  I suppose I had a mix of both ways, but mostly I loved my job.  The people I came to know, the help I was able to give, the feeling of accomplishment I experienced completing a difficult task.  All of those experiences gave me purpose.  I didn’t really know until today what it meant to know I can never do that job again, never meet new young people, never have a conversation with a scholar that left me breathless and learning something new or even having a debate over our different outlooks on life. It hit me like a ton of bricks today and the sadness of this forced retirement engulfed me beyond my imaginings.

I still feel too young to be retiring, but alas not being able to use my body as I did before that day twenty-seven months ago has changed all my best laid plans.  I never would have believed anyone who told me I would be so lost and so sad just from leaving a job, but I am those things and more.  Even writing, which I always believed to be my future, has lost its luster and appeal lately.  It astounds me thinking that my purpose is now gone. Good advice is ever flowing my way and ideas from others about what to do with my time now, but none unfortunately wear my shoes nor have my personality so all the good intentioned words of wisdom don’t help me at all. I compare it to the loss of someone dear.  Everyone at the funeral says they are sorry for your loss and I’m certain they are, but it doesn’t validate what you feel from that loss. Well, when you are forced to give up something you care about, as I was, it is the same as experiencing the death of a beloved friend or family member.  There truly is no consoling.  As all hurts heal I have no doubt this will also pass in time, I just don’t know how much more time needs to pass until I can feel like my old self again or if in fact, I ever will.

Am I feeling sorry for myself, probably yes.  Do I have a right to?  Without a doubt. Maybe something will change again in my life one day soon that will allow me the privilege of feeling I have a purpose on a daily basis.  Who knows?  Change is certainly apparent everywhere for everyone, just do yourselves a favor and don’t take what you have for granted. Appreciate it, go ahead sweat the small stuff cause the small stuff matters as well, savor all of the moments because you may fall asleep one night and awaken to discover your entire world is changed and you can no longer have the purpose you have today.

And that’s the “Way I See It” here in Brooklyn.

K