Category Archives: Sad

Born this Way…Again*

You’re right. I’ve been gone for quite some time. And if you were me, which you’re not, or if you think like me, which I am pretty sure most of you don’t, you would by this time have come to the one and only conclusion I would have come to. You would have concluded that the only possible reason I could have been gone this long is that I am, in fact, dead. And rightly so. I mean what other plausible explanation could be made for a more than two month absence from my blog? It would just be silly to think that I have been travelling. At least not at this time of year. Or that in my retirement I found myself consumed by some otherwise undiscovered talent/interest that subsumed all of my time leaving me little room for previously embraced activities. Not very likely. Or that somehow at this advanced age of mine I had determined that living the life of a shallow person was no longer a viable option and I had abandoned this entire operation. Not even remotely possible. So while none of these scenarios are the case, as you can plainly see, I am not dead. Unfortunately, there are a couple of other people who are (well not all are exactly “people”) which is why I have taken a self-imposed hiatus over the past few months. 

Many of you who know me also know that in August my Mother passed away and while she lived a very good and long life, we all miss her very, very much. What many of you don’t know is that exactly one month after her death our dear little Bandit, who also lived a very good and long life, at least for her feline species, crossed the rainbow bridge and needless to say, we miss her very, very much as well. So as you can well imagine, it has been a little difficult for me to get back at it, as they say. But at it I am. And what I now know for sure is there’s a lot to learn from the sadness that death brings. Not only about other people but about oneself. And let me tell you I have spent more than an hour or two over the past months thinking about just that. 

First let me say that my Mother was a wonderful human being. She was a loving Mother to all of us kids and a very smart business woman who truly cared about each and every one of her clients. She was a voracious reader and could talk intelligently about almost everything. She wasn’t much of a drinker (I could tell the story about the night she had a few too many and ended up face down in a plate of spaghetti, but I won’t) which isn’t really a bad thing if you ask me. She was beautiful and funny and, as my Auntie Fanny so eloquently described her, “a real lady”. And how lucky would any of us be to have inherited even one of these traits that my Mother possessed? Oh yeah. There is one other thing that I might have forgotten to mention. Just ask Rich. He’ll tell you in the most wonderful way that my Mother, along with all of these marvelous qualities, was a Worrier. That’s with a capital “w” because there was nothing and no one that my Mother didn’t worry about. All of the time. 

Which is interesting because, while I would never presume to have inherited any of my Mom’s other wonderful characteristics, I can say without any hesitation that this apple didn’t fall far from that tree. Let me explain how this revelation came about. At the shiva for my Mother it was brought to my attention more than a few times that there was some similarity between her and I. Not everyone, but at least some people, most of whom I hadn’t seen since the first year of my life which is, at this point, a very long time ago, commented on how they knew exactly who I was because I looked so much like my Mother. It surprised me a little, primarily since my Mother never mentioned that complete strangers stopped her in the street to tell her she looked liked Babs and I’m quite sure she would have had they done so, but I appreciated the compliment nonetheless. However it occurred to me that if I look like my Mom it isn’t much of a stretch to think that I might think like my Mom as well. And if I think like my Mom I shouldn’t be terribly surprised that I too worry about everybody pretty much all of the time.  The fact is, if nothing else, I inherited her worry gene. And let me tell you, coming to this realization took quite a load off my shoulders. 

You see, I now have a perfectly good excuse for all the times I drove myself and my family a little crazy with my worrying. I now know there’s a really good reason that I used to text the kid at 3:00 am (no, that’s not a typo) just to see where he was and when he might decide to come home. I can now justify the multiple follow-up phone calls that are a result of a text not being answered within 60 seconds of being sent. And I know why when someone isn’t where they said they would be at exactly the moment they said they would be there my first inclination is to concoct 20 of the most dastardly, although admittedly unlikely, scenarios to explain their absence. After all, no one is just late. Something terrible must have happened. Well the truth is it’s just part of my DNA. I was, quite simply, born this way. And there’s no reason to apologize for that. Quite frankly, if it was good enough for my Mom, it’s good enough for me. 

Well that’s about it for today. Now I understand that some of you are going to be moved to send me your condolences (and many of you already have) for the loss of my Mother and for the cat too. You can if you like and your warm thoughts are very much appreciated but please don’t feel that you have to. No pressure at all. Of course if I don’t hear from you in the relatively near future, I’ll be pretty darn sure you’re dead.

*To clarify. Early in the life of this blog I penned another post titled “Born this Way” hence the need for the descriptor. It is not my intent to suggest that I have in any way been born again.


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It’s simply too easy

For those of you who care, this is not a shallow blog. How could it be?

The last, and admittedly, only time I was in Pittsburgh was a few years ago. On our way out of town we stopped at a Starbucks for a bite. Like most people who are roaming around in large and unfamiliar cities, we were a little concerned that we might find ourselves in the “wrong” part of town. I mean we have been told over and over again that taking a right instead of a left can lead to all sorts of problems. Face it. In all cities there are places that are less welcoming than others. So when we stopped I did what I always do. I  took a look around, just to see where we were. And while we have stopped at more Starbucks than I can reasonably remember, I do remember this one. It was a Saturday morning, the sun was shining and as we sipped our coffees and munched on our muffins I looked out the window and saw, what for me, was the familiar sight of families walking by on their way to synagogue, men wearing their tallit and kepas, women dressed in their Saturday finest. And I felt, at that moment, that we had made the right turn. We were in a safe place. At least that’s how it seemed to me on that day. Today I wonder if some of those people I saw will never walk by that window again.

I have to say that I was one of the few people I know who wasn’t surprised that Donald J. Trump became the 45th president of the United States. As a matter of fact, I kind of predicted it. Not sure why. I just had a feeling. Even when everyone assured me that it “just couldn’t happen” I seemed to know that it “just could”. And I was right. When it did happen I also told people not to get too concerned. I mean he’s just the president. Just one person in a much larger governing body. How much impact could he really have?  Look at Obama. Obama was never able to get anything he wanted done. And if Mr. T did try to do anything crazy, well there are checks and balances in place to stop him. After all, even with D.J. Trump at the helm the United States of America is still a democracy. It has a constitution that protects the civil liberties of the people. If nothing else he has more experienced politicians surrounding him for guidance. Surely they would help him to understand what is right and what isn’t. To do the right thing. And there are laws. Laws that prevent him from turning the place upside down. Boy was I wrong.

What I never realized is that no laws need to be passed, no policies enacted for the worst to happen. I never imagined that in this day and age, someone in a position of power would use words that are so caustic as to incite the kind of violence and unspeakable acts we are now experiencing at an unprecedented rate. Of course history tells us this can happen. But because we know, I thought we would know better. And yet here we are. Two black people killed as they shopped for groceries. Fifteen pipe bombs mailed out to critics of 45. Eleven innocent Jewish people murdered as they prayed. Many of us are left wondering what it is we can do to help. So we attend vigils. And  we express our disdain by posting on Facebook. By “liking” other people’s posts to let them know we stand by their side. But, it seems to me, this is simply too easy. This is not enough.

Because what isn’t easy is having to worry every time you go to get your mail. Or answer your door. What isn’t easy is having to bury your dead. The ones that died in horrific ways, too soon. And what isn’t easy is worrying about what might be next. Unfortunately on this one I don’t know how to be right or wrong. I just don’t know. But like everyone else, I do know that something needs to change. Fast. While we try to figure out what to do up here in the north country may I make a request to all of my American friends. On November 6th  go out and vote. Take a couple of friends with you. See what you can do to make a change. Even if it’s a small one. Please do this. For all of our sakes. 

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It’s simple. There can be no shallow blog this week.

Shallow in a sad world…again

It’s been another tough week and I find myself, once again, writing the shallow blog in a sad world. I’m thinking this may be harder for you, my readers, than it is for me since you quite possibly have been using this blog as a bit of a diversion, a little comic relief from things more important and pressing. But, I beg your pardon, I never promised you a rose garden. And tonight there is no joy in Mudville, I’m afraid. This week two families have lost a child, one to a horrendous accident and the other to a devastating disease. I know this happens everyday but this time it hit close to home with one being a good friend of my son and the other a good friend of a friend of his. As they suffer their loses together they find solace in conversation, in joining with others to celebrate the life and mourn the death of their friends. But I think it is too soon, too soon for this much sadness to come into their lives. As a Mother I understand the unbearable pain the death of a child brings to a family and, at the same time I am faced with the stark reality that all of the worrying, cajoling and praying I do to keep my children safe cannot protect them. Because I know that these Mothers worried too, they did everything they could to keep their children safe and yet they are gone. This week my heart breaks for those families.

Sorry but there is more. Last week my gorgeous, bright and vibrant sister-in-law, my youngest Brother’s wife, endured a seven and a half hour operation to remove a tumor from her spine. The good news is that she is going to be ok, the not so good news is that it might take a while. But if there is a heaven, and who am I to say if there is or isn’t, this marriage was made in it. We all know that because we can feel the love they have for each other and for their children whenever we walk into their home, share a meal, or join them in the celebration of a milestone. They have friends and family, lots of them, to help out and I know how important that is. But it is the strength of their love, their joy of life and everything in it, and their undying optimism that will carry them through. Next time I see Ruth she will be better than she is now and the time after that, better yet. I know this to be true because she won’t have it any other way. So here’s my “I know you’ll get well soon” wish ‘cause I know you will.

So there it is. Yep I’m still shallow. It’s just a little hard to talk about it right now.

Shallow in a sad world

I write this post while thinking about my dear friends who have recently suffered the loss of a parent. Last week I drove Kevin and Randy to the airport so they could attend Kevin’s Father’s funeral and the other morning I picked them up as they made their way to the funeral of Randy’s Mother. It’s a straight road to the airport with surprisingly little traffic during what would be rush hour in most cities of this size. I like being alone in the car, singing along to my favourite artists, watching the all too familiar landmarks whisk by, cursing just a little as I find myself behind a farmer who thinks it’s ok to use this high speed highway to move his tractor from one corner of his property to another. But on this drive I find myself thinking about the blog, my lighthearted treatise about all things shallow, and I wonder how it is that I can possibly continue amongst all of this sadness. How can I write about being shallow when so many people around me are hurting? I’m not sure I know how to be shallow in a sad world.

There’s not much time at the airport for niceties as we load bags into the car before the parking monitor notices I am stopped in the middle of the lane, but as the door closes and we exchange our signature “Hey Friend” greeting I am comforted in knowing that everything seems to be the way it should be. I’m taking my two friends home. There’s no beating around the bush, no polite banter. In this car we get right to the point.

“How”, I ask, “do you expect me to write the shallow blog amid so much sadness?”
They both laugh and without any hesitation say, “Guess you’ll just have to write about being shallow and sad.”
“Sure, I can do that…Sure”.

Well, I’ve thought about this for a couple of days and have finally come to the conclusion that it’s ok for shallow people to be sad sometimes. The loss of a parent is very sad. All of us who have been there know this to be true. My Father passed away more than 21 years ago and not a day goes by that I don’t think about him, what he might say, advice he might give. There is no doubt that he lives forever in my heart. And that’s the way it should be. As sad as it may be there is an order to life and this is it. At least we hope it is because anything else would be unbearable. We grieve and slowly but surely we return to the normality of our daily lives. We are living proof that life does go on.

And so today it’s too hard to be lighthearted. Today I am sad for my friends who have lost their parents. But before too long I’ll get back to writing the shallow blog in the manner to which you and I have become accustomed. I’m ok with that and I hope you are too.

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