45th & Perception

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I cannot turn on Social Media or the Television without finding a negative expose about our 45th President of the United States of America.  My first thought about those statements about him from the Democrats, Liberals, Some Women and Some Young Men is wow they are saying “Pay back is a Bitch”. Only in the very next moment, I think, these poor people have no idea how much harm they are creating in the country that has given them everything they could ever truly want.

All of their protests, name calling, bashing, disrespect, hating won’t really change the world or even so much as make a dent in the corruption of politics nowadays.  All it is doing is causing a rift between the people in America who believe in America surviving or America dying.  Okay a bit dramatic there, but let me put it another way, America dying the way their parents and grandparents view their country.

I truly feel sorry for all of us.  America was not built to be a socialist country no matter how many arguments are out there about Social Security or some other earned credit program.    Many times people use that argument, but Social Security is not an entitlement it is saved earnings in every legal citizen’s paycheck.  Welfare, food stamps, SSI, medicare, medicaid they are entitlements or benefits if you prefer that word. But, I digress.  As I was saying, America was built through the ugliest word in the country today, Capitalism.  It is MONEY.  Money has driven us from the get go.  Whether we didn’t have any, or we had too much.  Money in today’s world is a dirty word because not very many people have enough money to live with the rising costs of everything.  People have forgotten that values are more important on your death bed.  If those you love will miss you is important.  America cannot survive without some kind of respect for money.  It will not flourish, it will decay and it will become a third world because there is not any idea out there that will take care of all the people that need money and care.

Our 45th President represents “money” and so the hate begins there. Some think he is somewhat “crude” in his speeches.  Some think he is getting down to join them.  Some think he is brilliant in his idea of being straight forward and not holding back any of the punches to the people he thinks may need them.  Some believe he is a racist.  (If anyone had the guts to admit it, there isn’t one person in all of the USA who isn’t racist, they are just too afraid to say it to themselves.  Most would never act upon that feeling, but everyone feels it and it has been inside of all of us for generations). Some believe he is an ego-maniac out only to benefit himself and his family and friends.  Some say he thrives on the power.  Some say, no, its the craving for popularity.  Some think he hates women.  Some think he hates anyone who isn’t a white male.  In the whole scheme of things, it really doesn’t matter what anyone thinks because he is sitting in the White House as the 45th President of the United States of America.  (It doesn’t but, that sentence alone should make all citizens stand up and take notice).  He is a leader in World Powers.  What he does affects the country and the world.  So far, I would say he hasn’t done anything at all to hurt this country or the World for that matter.  He is in office less than 100 days and yet, he has been given no chance whatsoever to show that he is worthy of the responsibility that three million or so Americans gave to him.

Now, I would say what about my fellow Americans? If you don’t want to accept the President and give him the chance he needs and has earned, then what about your neighbor who does, don’t you give a crap about them?  What about the Americans who still hold onto the vision of a majestic, beautiful America, don’t they have a right to appreciate their vision of America?  What about the Americans who would never harm another soul, but are angry at being harmed by people who come here, hate it, hurt it, or our friends and families, would you rather we condone and give right to terrorists from any country even those indoctrinated Americans?   If you are great socialists of the world who hate our President, why are you not caring enough as a “socialist” that you are making enemies of those who don’t hate our President? Do you ever think to give the President a chance to prove what you are claiming is actually true?  Maybe he will do all the awful things you claim in your social media posts and television spots.  Maybe he will be the worst President ever, (though I doubt that).  If he isn’t given a chance to show us exactly the vision and direction he has for America by getting legislation passed and America thriving again, you will have no one but yourselves to blame.  It won’t be his fault that you made his legacy by disrupting everything that he attempts to get done.  It won’t  be his fault if the country dies, it will be yours.

Most Americans believe in America or at least take advantage of all the good that is offered by America.  That is a good thing.  It is a patriotic attitude. Do you also believe that we live by the laws of America?  Because we do, the law and the Constitution show us what is right and just.  The laws rule us more than any one man or collection of men and women who represent us, the people.  No laws have been broken by the 45th President of the United States nor proven to have been.  No laws have been proposed to change anything that each American has rightfully gained through our struggles.  We always have a say, if we want one.  We write and/or call our representatives and we tell them, “no don’t pass that law, or no, that proposal is not good, please vote it down”.  We all have a voice that way.  We can do it without bashing each other because we have different feelings about a man.  We can all do it without disrupting our streets with meaningless protests.  We can all look deep, deep down into our hearts and give the 45th President a chance without using our own perception of what life is supposed to be, but rather how possibly it could be under the leadership of a person, who up to now has never waivered from his love of America.  Irregardless of anything he has personally done, he has never, ever said a hateful thing about the United States and since we all share this country and live as neighbors to one another, shouldn’t we at least give him a chance?  I know I will and until he proves me wrong, or my perception of him wrong, I will keep that promise to myself because I, too, love my country and would never choose its’ well-being and the well-being of its’ citizens over any other country on earth.

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

K

©Joe Raedle/Getty Images

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 father for Father’s Day

Maybe I am just one of those unexplained mysteries in life. Maybe because I always wondered about my biological father. Maybe that is why I have been so lucky in my life having two “fathers”.

My sons’ father is the best father and grandfather I have ever seen.  His unconditional love, his self-sacrificing dedication and his ability to keep giving and giving can not be denied.  I believe that the word, “no” is just not a word to him.  He has always said “yes” to the needs of his children, and for that matter to me as well.  Fathers like Rocco are rare, but I know there are a few out there. For instance, my son, Rocky is a dad like his father.  He has the same inner ability to love his daughter so completely and unconditionally. As she grows, I hope she realizes more and more how very wonderful he is and how dedicated he is to her.

My “dad”and my “brother” raised me to be a person who is true to herself, kind to others, and to care about the world around me. My “dad” passed when I was sixteen years old.  My brother is still the one I look to for answers.  Whether or not he reaizes it, he is still the one I depend on.

Today I want to tell you about my brother, Tommy.

If one could picture the life of a person when they were a child and to realize that what they have been through is no life for any child, then they would know that the man I know as Tommy, who came out of that life better and stronger, is in itself miraculous.  They would know that this wonderful man is the most selfless, loving, hard-working man that was ever born.

It was a tough life when my brother was a small child.   His father was an alcholic and the venom from this sickness took its ugly poison out on my brother and his siblings.  Without going into too much detail, let me suffice to say Tommy took the brunt of that venom.  It became so bad that for a time his mom sent him to live for awhile to her sister so he could escape the onslaught. When I was born Tommy was ten years old.

I turned seven when I first started to notice who it was that was nurturing me and making sure I had everything I needed, like food, clothing and shelter. Tommy was now seventeen and graduated High School.  He was also the protector for my “mom” and me.  Ever since he was able to work he made sure our mom and me were taken care of.

Life wasn’t all bad. He was also a prankster and a loyal friend.  Some of the funniest episodes I ever heard were about the pranks my brother would pull on his family, friends and co-workers.  When our sister, Joanie passed away at the age of twenty-nine from complications after brain surgery to remove a tumor, she left two small babies behind.  One was two years old and the other was six months.  While their dad had to keep working, my mom took them in to live with us in our six room tenement apartment in Park Slope.  They spent Monday through Friday with us and their dad took them on the weekends.  Tommy immediately took on the role of dad to them during those days and had always taken that role on for me.  Yes, our siblings helped as well.  There was after all, eight of us altogether. I was the youngest.  I recall Tommy taking us to the World’s Fair in Flushing, Delancy Street in Manhattan for clothes, and to the local theatre for movies, etc. If we had any treats or toys it was Tommy who bought them. When the boys turned seven and five, their dad remarried a wonderful woman named Eileen. Together they brought the boys to live with them, of course, leaving us left us with  heavy hearts because they were more like brothers and sons to us.  Years later we now know that it was best for them to leave and have a life with their own dad and stepmom.  However, I was still there and Tommy became more like a dad to me than ever and when “daddy” died, it was Tommy who pulled me through just as he did when we lost “mommy” and then did the same when we lost two more of our sisters and our niece. He pulled me out of so many childhood and young adulthood mistakes. He helped me when sickness befell my baby boy, he helped me when I thought I would sink from financial disaster. I cannot recall one time in life good or bad when Tommy wasn’t right there, or just a phone call away.  He is the one constant in my life.  The person to whom I owe everything.

By now you must have surmised why I chose to write this Father’s Day tribute to my wonderful brother Tommy.  There just isn’t a day that goes by that I don’t think of him or even talk to him.  He has always been my confidant, my advisor, my father in every sense of the word.  Even though I am a grown woman, wife, mother, grandmother, sister, aunt, cousin, friend..none of those titles would have been possible without Tommy in my life.  He is officially “my brother” but everything he has ever done for me is something a great dad would do.  So I want to tell him Happy Father’s Day and that even though he chose not to have children of his own, he has helped raise and has given to all his sisters, nieces and nephews so very much that the title Father belongs to him.

He never truly gets the recognition and appreciation for everything he has always done from his heart, so this small tribute is my way of saying thank you with all my heart for being the best real Dad I never really had.

Happy Father’s Day, Tommy.

And that’s 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

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Happiness

Everyone wants to be happy.  It’s more than an adjective or adverb, noun or verb.  It’s an actual feeling.  It’s hardest to do when you are a young adult because all of the troubles in the world are on your shoulders. However, if one would learn to push the negative out and allow the positive side in, I am willing to bet that happiness will start to infiltrate the soul and before you know it…you will find yourself …happy!  For me, I can jump-start the process of feeling happy by listening to music….happy, uplifting, danceable music!  Maybe for others it would be a movie or perhaps a book, or maybe just a smile from a fellow human being.  Whatever the start is pay heed to it!  Follow it through.  Allow yourself the luxury of feeling happy.    

I decided to be happy even though another year has gone by and I am no better nor worse than I was a year ago!  As I reflect upon my life these days (which I always seem to do around the date of my birth) it becomes more and more apparent that although I have had trials and tribulations, as most of my fellow human beings, for the most part I have had a good life up to now.  A GOOD LIFE, now that isn’t something everyone can say.  As I think back and see my childhood, my teen years, my young adulthood and now, I have had the support of family and friends always in one form or another.  The people I have met have kept my life in perspective.  My life is enriched first and foremost by my family.  I have a terrific family.  Sure we are all a bit nutty here and there, but no more so than most.  My life is enriched further by my friends.  I have made so many wonderful friends.  Sure they are all a bit out there at times, but those are the times that make me laugh the hardest!  So I have concluded that people really do create love.  

Even though it’s about to be my birthday and people tend to be a bit nicer when it’s one’s birthday, I have to honestly say that most of my birthdays have been memorable and happy.  Yep, I said it …happy!  It’s actually a euphoric feeling when one decides to be happy.  It isn’t the same as when something makes you happy.  It isn’t the same when people wish you happiness, either.  It’s more of an inner peace.  A gift to yourself.  Choosing happiness in the face of adversity, choosing happiness in the face of illness, choosing happiness in the face of poverty, is truly a unique and rewarding feeling.  Truth be known, only you can do this for yourself.  Happiness is the one true choice a person can make for themselves.  All it takes is a decision to be happy.  To look at the sadness that surrounds you and the awful things in the world that you can only pray will change and decide that you will do your part to better it by first caring about those things and then do something about them with a happy outlook.  I decided that I can’t change things as I would like them to be, but I can accept them and I can make a difference with every word I write and every smile I give.  That is how I choose to make a difference and give the gift of happiness by being happy.  I have heard through the years that when the person in the household who keeps everything together is happy than the whole household is happy.  Same applies to the person on the job or anywhere.  If that person is happy everyone is happy.  I have tried it and I know firsthand that it works.  Happiness is infectious!  So infect people with happiness wherever you go!

So Happy Trails! Be Happy Together! Smile!  Act as if your life depended on it, because actually it does!

And that’s the Way I See It, here in Brooklyn!

K