Canyon. A dragon inhaling ember and spark, blasting out sunset red inferno, licking green steeples to black, spreading wings of smoke, devouring forest creatures as they run, turning painted houses to tinder and ash
Canyon. Tears. Devastation. Yelping. Quiet.
Canyon. Fuss. Questions. Peeking between
fingers. Thinking. Planning.
Canyon. First glimpse of antlers in brush. Paw prints by a trickle of fresh water. Charred branch swaying with a curious new resident. Two fluffy singed ears daring to trust A sapling pushing through rich replenished soil
Canyon. Yellow machines rearranging earth with delicacy and respect. White headed bird settling on a strange smelling canopy. Two legs concerned for four. And four legs accepting two. Symbiosis of species sharing one goal.
Canyon. Maps and hiking boots and cameras.
Orchestra of coos, cheeps and chirps. Soft treads. And soft prints. An infant
in a cloth pouch on the back. Another in a furry pouch in the front with a
tail. Meeting in a cautious moment. Kindred spirits. Survivors. Adventurers. Explorers.
Honoring the canyon.
If you enjoyed this poem, please leave a comment and subscribe to my blog! Here’s another poem you may like: Good Morning Silver
My cousin Henri and his spouse Gary are board members of the Long Beach Chapter for PFLAG (Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays.) So yesterday I went to their pre-Pride Parade breakfast. There, I made a sign that read “I love my cuz and his hubby!” When I noticed that everyone else’s signs had writing on the back as well, I quickly scribbled the first thing that popped into my head: “It’s All About Love.”
I really was just there for Henri and Gary, to show my support. I didn’t think any deeper than that. I slipped on a PFLAG tee. Sign in hand, off I went with the PFLAG group, to get in line.
The parade started and I walked with a woman I’d just met, named Lori, who wore a matching tee shirt. Within moments, I looked at Lori with surprise and said, “I can’t believe how much love I feel in the air—its palpable!”
She agreed. She’d walked Pride before and said, “They really love PFLAG.”
And then I heard it. I saw it. An outpouring of thunderous applause, shouts of “We love you!” and “Thank you!” as our PFLAG group walked by them.
Again, surprised, I looked at Lori who said, warmly, “I told you. They Love PFLAG. So many people here have been rejected by their own families. Our support means the world to them.”
I almost felt stupid. Of COURSE PFLAG was important. We were straight people saying “I accept you and I love you, and I want to be on the record, in public, saying so, for all of you who have felt unaccepted and unloved.”
I couldn’t believe the affect it had on me. Just by carrying a sign, by walking a few miles, by smiling (uncontrollably beaming, actually) I was feeding damaged, broken hearts. I was helping to make souls feel whole again. I was a bandage, an elixir, a nurturing shoulder, a hug, a friend, a healer. Me. Personally. Just—me. By being there.
Astounded, my heart and eyes welled up for joy. I started making eye contact with each person standing on the sidelines, giving them my own personal wave, and they would whoop and holler, blow a kiss, say thank you, shout God bless you. Who was getting more of a healing, them or me? I suddenly felt so humbled and honored to be in that position. Me, who had just come for Henri and Gary. Suddenly I felt a responsibility, I felt… important. I felt loved, by thousands of people. My eye contact made a group of ten wave their arms frantically at me, and the cheers would turn to a delightful roar from the whole crowd, as if I’d just won a gold medal at the Olympics. Me. But not me, Rose. Me. The Stranger who was saying to the brown eyes, to the pink shirt, to the man with a blond wig, to the shy lady in the corner—“You are a whole person. You are loved. You are, in fact, really awesome, just the way you are. You are brave, you are honest. You are honoring your path.”
I wasn’t me, Rose. I was Acceptance. I was the Mom saying the words of support that their own mother never said. The Dad who hugged instead of hit. The Grandparent who showered love, not shame. I was, in fact, Their Family walking for them in the stead of their biological family who had refused to go.
I know I already used the word “Humbled” but it keeps coming to mind. I was in a position of honor. One I didn’t sign up for, one I didn’t mean to be in, in my naïve happy support for my cousin and his husband. I didn’t know—I had no idea I would be Every Family. It was a great responsibility, and so very… again… humbling.
They treated me like a war hero coming home, or Princess Di in a carriage. They loved me. Because I was, for a moment—for a three-mile stroll with a sign—Their Family. And for a truly lovely moment, they were my family, too. I learned, on a new level, that, really and truly, It’s All About Love.
I was recently challenged by a wonderful public speaker and motivator, Marshal Gillen. The challenge? Come up with a WHY. WHY am I doing what I’m doing? What is the purpose? In my case, Why am I doing what I’m doing, writing and music-wise.
It used to be an easy answer—“For my kids.” And it always entailed sacrifice, artistically speaking. “I will take the secure gigs. I will take requests and play what everyone wants to hear. I will people-please and make money and put a roof over my head. I will be formulaic and study what gets me the best gigs.”
I was proud of being a musician AND a responsible breadwinner. I bought a home with musician’s wages, I bought a car with musician’s wages. I didn’t do the artist thing, not properly—I couldn’t afford to take risks.
But now that my kids are grown and on their own paths, I am embracing the artist. The uncompromising one. And the WHY has changed.
Here comes my new WHY:
I am the only one who can write the stories and songs in my head. They are important. I was given a gift and I need to honor that.
I have the potential to break the glass ceiling with my writing. If I don’t try I have zero chance of doing that. If I succeed, then I can make a living doing what I love most—CREATING. I am a creator. And with that comes the responsibility to create.
Lets say there is a God who created all that we know. Regardless of your belief, just go with me on this one. What if God made the universe and the stars, but before he made the planets he got frustrated and said “What’s the use?” and stopped? No earth, no people.
But the earth does exist. We exist. And artists exist. Why? Specifically, why do artists exist? To create. It is that simple. Everyone has their gift, their purpose. Some people heal. Some are wonderful listeners. Some are educators, some are protectors. Some quietly hold the world up with good thoughts. Some lead, some follow. Some protect the world from moving forward too quickly, some catapult the world toward a better tomorrow. And still the artist—creates.
Why? What’s the use?
Remember that God out there who could have stopped with the stars, but didn’t? Maybe God didn’t even know what would happen, but felt compelled to create for some reason. And there was a reason. It was us! I think all in all, humans are pretty cool.
We artists may not know why the hell we spend hours and days writing, painting, playing our instruments and spouting poetry to no one, for no money. But there IS a reason. It is because we are creators. It is what we do. And in the end, we do make a difference.
Did our song, our story, our painting uplift a person or two along the way? Maybe prevent some tragedy by calming just one broken soul? Even if that broken soul may be our own? I think the answer is, YES. I’ve been touched a thousand times by an inspiring word, the lyrics of a song. I stood for hours once at a Van Gogh museum, with tears in my eyes. I had no words. There was no explanation for a bunch of blobs of paint touching my soul, but there it was. Long dead, Van Gogh touched my soul and changed me for the better. His life was a tortured, tragic one, but he has inspired millions.
I have no fame, no fortune. But I have had a few people say they were deeply touched by something I wrote. I have even had people tell me my music or message changed their lives. I am not Van Gogh, I am nobody really, but there it is. I, little me, through my own creation, touched someone’s life for the better. So that is my WHY. I am a creator. It is my responsibility to create.
Marketing it? That’s a whoooooole other subject. It is the other side of the coin. An artist can toss coins all day long, but if you love to shout “Tails!” you will lose 50% of the time. You have to shout “Heads!” now and again and toot your own horn. Yuck. Not my forte. But I owe it to the creator in me, to try.
Enough is enough. I mean—Trump is encouraging elephant hunting, and reversing the ban on bringing back their heads? Elephants are an endangered species! I have never been so continuously humiliated and shocked by anyone in my life, and he is our President! The only thing left to complete the cliché of the Ugly American is… oh. I think reversing the elephant ban was it. Our image to the world is complete. We are officially a disaster.
I feel I truly have to apologize to all my friends, family and fellow human beings across the world. I don’t understand how any of this was possible to begin with. When Trump was running, he said, “I could walk down the street and shoot someone and they’d still vote for me.”
Desperately relieved, I thought, “Goodbye, Mr. Trump.” I mean, no one would vote for him after that personal slap in the face to his constituents. What a cruel and evil thing to say. I literally thought there wouldn’t, and couldn’t be a single person who could vote for him. He just called them idiots, on camera! He just called them blind followers. He just called them advocates of murder! I would love to have someone explain how they could hear such a condescending, disturbing comment, and still vote for him. Still waiting.
Everything he has done has taken us ten steps backwards. All the beautiful things that we teach our children that is good and right with the world, he is personally undoing. The air we breathe. Sharing. Being kind to strangers. Being nice to animals. Being respectful to each other, to the invalid, to the sick, to the poor. I choose my words carefully in order to be 100% truthful. He even claims to be Christian. All the above are Christian values too. So what’s next? Elephant hunting? Elephant body part trophies? Yep. Can we please stop the insanity? Can someone wake me up from this bad dream?
Who on God’s green (soon to be brown) earth would disrespect a Climate Change Summit? Who would unprotect protected land? Deregulate factory emissions? What is wrong with our President? Seriously, what is wrong with him? And now, we can go after elephants again? What’s next—condors and pandas?
Regarding women, Trump said, on camera, “When you’re famous you can do anything. Grab them by the pussy.” So we knew our President couldn’t say anything about other Republican scoundrels, because that would take integrity and self-implication. As predicted, our dear leader was quiet as a mouse when senators from his party were accused of sexual misconduct. But when Al Franken, a Democrat, was accused, I thought, Here we go. Trump’s going to throw himself under the bus because he can’t help himself when it comes to his so-called enemies.
Aaaand, yep. He did. His Tweet finger juuuuust couldn’t hold back. Whoopsy, Mr. President, that is one hell of a can of worms you just dumped on yourself. Trump has a list a mile long of women who have complained about his sexual misconduct. Clinton was impeached for that. Mirror mirror, Mr. President.
I have been quiet. I have been holding back. Its funny how elephants, in the end, were the last straw. Mr. President, please kindly step down so we can start moving forward again. Enough is enough. Until that day, I’ll be the girl with the bag over my head, cringing with shame. Sorry world. We’ll do better next time. We truly can’t do any worse.
I am aboard a small cruise ship, circumnavigating Pitcairn Island. It is only two miles square—a tiny deep green bump smack dab in the middle of the South Pacific. The ocean is angry today, and sprays a breathtaking sapphire blue. The skies are bleak and ominous. The island has no port to accommodate a ship of our size, and so the people of Pitcairn have been invited to come to us.
I hang over the rail and search through the tropical rain until my sundress clings to me like a second skin. I want to catch a first glimpse of these most unusual residents; descendants of the mutineers from the famous ship Bounty, of Captain Bligh fame. Nearly all of the islanders, isolated completely for centuries, have the same two last names—Fletcher and Christian—whose same-named ancestors escaped the gallows of England by marooning themselves and their Polynesian wives on Pitcairn in 1790.
Pitcairn island steams a halo of cloud and fog from the torrent. As we sail closer, I see sheer cliffs, and a cascading waterfall. Twenty-odd houses nestle against a steep hillside, each separated by forest and a steep hike.
At last a long boat comes into view. There are only fifty-four inhabitants on the entire island, and thirty of them—more than half the population—sit precariously yet happily on planks, grateful to have a break from island fever. They bob along towards us in the pouring rain and choppy seas, with the steadfast balance of true islanders. When they finally pull alongside our ship, they leap to the treacherous lurching gangway like mountain goats, these people made of volcano and sea.
Around 11 A.M. the Pitcairn Islanders set up shop in our ship’s spacious lounge, and open for business. This selling of handcrafted wares is their major form of income. I am very surprised at the level of quality of the merchandise. It could have been simplistic, and still worth its weight in gold for the novelty of being created by Pitcairners, but the crafts are unexpectedly, delightfully beautiful. There are gorgeous wood carvings of sea turtles, sharks with their mouths wide open to reveal teeth (beautifully carved out of bone,) sea snakes and dolphins. There are whimsical tees with pictures of the Bounty. For the collectors, there are stamps and postcards to buy, which the Pitcairners promise to send from their local post office (“Please allow three months delivery, as only four ships come per year to collect the mail!”) For a ten dollar fee, passports can be stamped “Pitcairn.”
The thing that catches my eye is a beautiful necklace. If I shut my eyes and imagine a mermaid swimming in the depths of the sea, this is the necklace she would be wearing. It is made of beautiful oblong silver pearls. Not flawless, but that is part of the beauty. In between the pearls are sea shells, black luminescent stones and clusters of tiny silver beads, with the New Zealand Paua shell as a pendant.
It is so beautiful that I take a picture of it, along with the jeweler who proudly poses. She looks quite British. The Pitcairners have varying degrees of English and Polynesian blood, and this woman is lanky and fair-skinned. She informs me that the price of her treasure is $750, which is an incredible bargain. I am not in the market for a necklace, and as I walk away she says cheerfully, “I can go down to $500.”
Oooh! I have to walk away quickly to resist temptation.
The biggest seller is the honey. With the current world bee crisis of diseased bees, and the diminishing bee population, Pitcairn Island honey is very sought after. Completely isolated, the Pitcairn bees are free from disease. Pitcairn honey is said to be the finest, purest honey on earth. Who knows? If the bee crisis gets bad enough, perhaps Pitcairn will be our salvation—after all, we need bees to pollinate our crops. I like the idea of the smallest inhabited island Democracy saving the world. There is something very poetic and noble about that.
I spy an amazing looking man from Pitcairn–starkly unique. He is a large man, with the build of a Pacific Islander—stout and muscular. His coloring is Polynesian, his beard is blond, and attached to his ears, which are pierced from top to bottom, are a cacophony of magnificent trinkets, again what one would find a merman wearing, from bone to pearls to shells to sharks teeth. Around his neck is a chain, thickly laden with more booty. I imagine him living under the ocean, and swimming until his neck and ears encrust with barnacles of briny jewels from the treasure troves of the sea.
He disappears before I can ask for his picture. An hour later, when it’s almost time for the Pitcairn residents to go home, I find him in the ship’s sundry shop, buying two manly armfuls of alcohol. I laugh and say, “There you go; you know what’s important!”
He concurs with a broad smile, and I seize the opportunity to take his picture, shouting, “You are gorgeous!” which results in a priceless picture of him laughing.
From behind a rack I hear a voice, “Hey! What about me?” Out steps a very Polynesian looking man, with dark eyes and hair. He pretends to be terribly indignant that he was left out of the conversation, so I say, “Okay, you’re gorgeous too!” I ask both of them, “Do you write books? I imagine it would be fascinating to read a book about the life of the Pitcairn residents.” The blond one laughs and says, “I don’t have time to write a book!”
To which I reply, very sincerely, “Then perhaps I should come back and interview everyone and write a book myself!”
He smiled and said, “Don’t think it hasn’t been done before!”
I suppose that must be true, but what fun that would be—I’d do it in a heartbeat! And next time, I’m buying that necklace.
I grew up in a farming community in Oregon. There were picturesque pastures with cows and sheep, houses nestled in evergreen forests and oak groves, and the occasional tractor meandering down the road. We even had a little red barn on our property.
When it wasn’t raining, we’d bundle up and go for a walk around the loop. That’s what we called our neighborhood—a three-mile circle with a house every few acres or so. We knew most of our neighbors by name in our sparsely populated community, and everyone walked the loop, young and old. It took an hour and it was a great opportunity to chat, drop in on a neighbor if so inclined, and take in the scenery.
September was the best month to walk the loop because it was blackberry season, and the berries grew wild on the side of the road. We’d grab an empty coffee tin and pick them as we passed by the brambles. By the time we looped back again our tins would be filled to the brim, and our moms would make pie or jam. Sometimes we’d drop them on top of ice cream at night or cereal in the morning. Plump, fat blackberries, impossibly sweet, but with that tart kick at the end.
When the brambles had been picked clean by those on foot, we’d ride horses so we could reach the top branches. If the blackberries were still out of reach, we’d stand on the horses’ backs.
Someone would always reach deep within the sharp brambles for the plumpest prizes, pulling out a bloodied arm along with the blackberries. Nobody really minded the “battle scars,” it was just an Oregon rite of passage. “Ah, I see you’ve been picking blackberries!” was a common phrase. The scratches gave it away. That, and our purple-stained lips. Part of the fun of picking blackberries was sampling them fresh off the branches. On a hot day the blackberries were warm and extra sweet.
I moved to California when I was nineteen, many years ago. I don’t get back to Oregon often, especially in September, so blackberries are very nostalgic for me. A few precious times over the years I got to pick those blackberries with my own young children. Now my kids are grown.
Recently it was my birthday and my husband surprised me with a trip to Oregon, via an overnight train. We watched the magnificent solar eclipse on that train, and ended up at a sprawling Bed and Breakfast farmhouse in Carlton.
At first, it was just my husband and me. Soon cars pulled up, and out popped my four kids, with one brand new spouse and one boyfriend! Another car pulled up with my dear childhood friend Ann, and her husband.
Ann had walked the loop many times with me when we were kids. She remembered how much I loved blackberries. It was late August, so the first batch of blackberries were already ripe. It turns out, my kids had picked blackberries, with the girls on the boys’ shoulders so they could reach the good ones on top. They had taken their berries to Ann’s house and they had all made a blackberry cobbler! That night, for my birthday “cake” they presented me with that blackberry cobbler, warm with candles and nostalgia and love. It brought tears to my eyes. They even showed me a sequence of pictures; of them picking the blackberries, then the blackberries in a heaping bowl, then in Ann’s kitchen with flour and sugar and recipes and smiles.
I blew out the candles and took a bite. It tasted like pure joy. It tasted like childhood. I looked around at all the sweet smiling faces, with blackberry stained lips and giggles, and I could see that everyone knew how I felt, because they felt it too. A step back into simpler times, where neighbors were friends and berries grew wild. It wasn’t just a blackberry cobbler. It was magic, and I’ll never forget it.
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I am a hydrogen atom. You know, one proton and all that.
How did I come to be? Well, there was this big bang, and before you know it, poof! There I was!
I am immortal, but I have no voice. I am officially a teenager today, it is my thirteenth birthday. Thirteen billionth that is, so as a gift, the Universe granted me storytelling privileges, just this once.
The cool thing about the vacuum of space is, the speed I was shot out, that’s the speed I kept. There is a lot of blackness out there, but so much beauty. Hydrogen atoms are kind of obsessed with each other, and as soon as I came in contact with another hydrogen atom, we were glued at the hip, so to speak. We traveled together for millennia, twirling and dancing, sometimes streaking along the edge of gravitational planets, bouncing off at the last minute, and continuing on our way.
We came upon a planet with a blue haze, and were instantly grabbed up by wonderful, affectionate oxygen atoms. What a party! All the hydrogen and oxygen atoms grabbing each other and dancing together. That was my first time as a water molecule. We became vapor, and lived in the troposphere of planet Earth for a while, until so many of us joined the party that we became a giant water drop and fell towards earth. We quickly evaporated, and like a roller coaster we zipped back and forth, falling, flying, falling again, until one day we turned white, and became a most glorious crystal, flitting and floating down, down, until we landed on a soft brown hand, and a little girl with a chilled nose put us on her tongue.
What a rush! Down the esophagus, stomach… we all got split up. I was absorbed into her blood stream and redistributed to her lungs, wet and pink. Lots of my oxygen friends were there, and some of them grabbed me and we flew out of her lungs, out her mouth and into the frosty air as a soft mist. I rested for a while with my friends as a pile of white snow. When the weather warmed, a lot of my friends waved goodbye and evaporated, but I was close to the brown earth, and a tree root absorbed me. It carried me up, up, through its sap, until I was sky high, and I became a part of a pine needle. I met many carbon atoms, and there were strings of atoms called esters that smelled fresh and sweet like a forest.
I was very happy. Everything was supple and green and fragrant, but after a few months, the tree was cut down. The esters still put out a pine scent for a long time, but my carbon friends started breaking apart, and the little green pine needle turned brown, and the oxygen drifted away until I was alone.
A big boot stepped on me, carrying me to a town with concrete sidewalks. I got stuck in a blob called bubble gum, and there I sat until a man with a shovel tossed me into a waste receptacle.
Lots of my aromatic ester friends were there! But they didn’t smell like pine trees, they smelled more pungent. I was grabbed by some oxygen and hydrogen party friends, and we ended up in a sweet apple core full of carbon buddies.
Eventually, a rat grabbed the apple core and ran us across the street to a warm house. A big man startled the rat, and the apple core was dropped on the lawn. The carbon atoms started breaking apart until the apple core became fertilizer for the lawn and I was evaporated along with my oxygen friends. Along came the man, just in time to breathe us in, but I never made it to the lungs. I got absorbed into his bottom lip, and he walked in the house and gave his wife a kiss. I know I am just an atom but I felt that kiss, and I felt like I was a part of something important. At first, I didn’t understand, but as I was transferred to the woman’s lip, and absorbed into her bloodstream, I was transported to a heart. But—not her heart. It was a second heart, growing in her womb. That is where I am now, on this, my thirteen billionth birthday. I have traveled the universe, but I have never felt such peace and love. If the Universe will grant me one more wish today, then I wish to stay here, and be a protector, a shield, a guardian. I, a hydrogen atom, am immortal. An atom cannot die. But there is something in a child’s heart that is immortal too. Perhaps it is the soul. I do not have the answer, I am just an atom. Perhaps on my fourteen billionth birthday, the Universe will let me know.
Years ago, I was walking along the shore with my preschool son when we crossed paths with a one-armed man. I did the typical avert your eyes! thing, but my son smiled at him and pointed, saying, “How come you have one arm?”
Before I could even crawl under a rock, the kind man chuckled and said, “I was born like this.”
“Oh!” said my son, whose curiosity had been sated, and he proceeded to pet the man’s dog, named Peanut. The three of us chatted a moment about the glorious day and Peanut, and we were on our way.
See? We are born innocent, like my son, with no judgment. A four-year-old still sees new things every day. Slowly but surely, life conditions us to judge. When my son was born, I held him in my arms under the moonlight and we stared at each other. I had never seen his sweet face before that day, but he had never seen a human before that day! He was a brand new little sponge, and his perception of me had not yet been imprinted. He didn’t cry in terror at this big strange body cradling him. He had, perhaps even then, curiosity.
If we could all retain that innocent curiosity for the unknown, perhaps there would be peace in this world.
The first time I met a transgender person, I was at a restaurant, and the host had breasts, eyeliner and a five o’clock shadow. I was a bit shocked and confused—I had never even heard of such a thing. I was polite and didn’t stare, but after I left with my group of friends, we talked about it. I remember thinking it was “weird.” To be honest, I thought the person was weird. I had been conditioned to consider a person “Normal” if they fit the standard, textbook criteria for human.
The guy at the beach didn’t fit the standard, textbook criteria either, he was missing an arm, and it made me feel uncomfortable, until my young son enlightened me.
So when I learned the word Transgender, I remembered to attempt enlightenment. I read some articles, watched some documentaries and tried to open my mind a crack. I have learned that gender association happens in the womb. A person may have the genetic attributes of a male, for example, but have the brain wiring for a female. Its biology.
I came out of the womb a “standard textbook human.” What the hell is that, anyway? I have all kinds of problems and issues, just like everybody else. Mine aren’t as visible as a missing arm or male and female attributes. I suffer from mood swings, and at times, depression. Should I be hated, shunned or stared at for that?
I was a Catholic for years. I walked the walk, talked the talk, gave back to the community and all that. Catholics don’t believe in divorce. I didn’t believe in divorce. But when my marriage fell apart, I became just that—a divorcee. Everything changed after that. My relationship with God, (“How could you let this happen? I am a good person!”) my relationship with the community (“Everyone is whispering behind my back!”) and my relationship with myself (“What a hypocrite! You don’t even believe in divorce!”) I felt like I was torn in two—that the person I was, no longer existed. I also wanted to remarry eventually. Again, not the Catholic way.
It occurred to me, that God cannot love less than I can. That I am in a new skin, a skin called divorcee, and I cannot take it off. It is who I am now. I have to accept that, and I need to accept that God wants me to be happy. That is my religion now, simple and pure. God loves us and wants us to be happy. I do not believe in a cruel god. I believe in a benevolent one. The one who loves us when we find ourselves in new skin—one without an arm, or one with breasts and a five o’clock shadow, or one housing a divorced woman.
Transgender in the military? Do they belong there? I guess it depends. Are we in the military to stare at each other’s skin, or to train to protect and fight for freedom? I don’t know about anyone else, but I’d like to think of America as the land of the free and home of the brave. Feeling driven all your life to alter your gender, and following through against all judging, hateful bias—now that’s brave. Jumping into the fire, feeling like a pariah, pushing ahead anyway with what your conscience tells you to do, now that’s brave. Having the choice to follow through with such a difficult, life altering action—now that’s freedom. God bless America. And God bless Americans—all of them. Let’s each bless the Transgenders too, by supporting their journey and career choice and making them feel loved and welcome, especially if they are willing to lay down their lives for us.
As I reflect on Father’s day, I find myself thinking of how I parented my own children. I am a mom actually, not a dad, but as a parent I can say this much—I tried my best. I loved my children with all my soul as most parents do. I didn’t delve into manuals and “How to” books much. I believed motherhood and its lessons would come naturally, organically. Would it have made a difference if I had enrolled in classes, read libraries of information, taken it more seriously as something I could mess up? Perhaps. And I did mess up. Many, many times. I also hit home runs once in a while, where I said or did just the right thing. Sometimes I took advice from wise, experienced family and friends, and sometimes I took another course. Sometimes I couldn’t bear to look and I’d put blinders on. And sometimes I dove headlong into the fire for my children.
As a child I thought my dad was the most magnificent man on earth. I loved him unconditionally—I almost thought he was magic. The pendulum swung far into fairy land and rose-colored glasses. Like Mary Poppins’ measuring tape, the pendulum read, “Practically Perfect in every way!”
As a teen, I noticed every mistake he made, every grumble, every wrong step. Mind you, by then he had five of us! He came up imperfect after all, and at one point I “ran away from home” for a whole night and cried on my friend’s shoulder about my Dad, who “Didn’t care about me at all.” The pendulum swung hard the other way, into the bitter, harsh reality that my dad was not the perfect man I thought he was. The pendulum read, “You’re mean.”
When I had teens of my own, and felt the frustrations of their hormonal chaos, I remembered how I had once judged my dad. I called him and told him how wonderful he was, and how grateful I was for all his patience, grace and love over the years. The pendulum swung back where it belonged, squarely in the middle, reading “Human.”
What a relief to realize that we can in fact try and fail, try and succeed, try and fail, like the tides, and know that it is okay to be human beings. At the end of the day, we give all we have, with the very best of intentions, for the love of our children.
And so I say, to all you “Perfect,” “Mean” and “Just Plain Human” dads, have a wonderful, blessed Father’s Day, and know that you are loved.