Happy 4th of July!  Hang your flag and rejoice that you are a patriot who lives in a free country, unless one of the following applies to you:
----You are an elected official who has worked less than 300 days in the past 365.  You are a parasite
----You are an appointed judge who allows personal religious beliefs to influence your decisions more than the Constitution and precedents.  You are a traitor.
---You have participated in attempts to rob fellow Americans of their votes in any way.  You are a traitor.
---You believe corporations should be able to intrude on the privacy of their employees outside the office and office hours, and control their behaviors.  You are a fascist.
---You believe people should work for any wage the employer chooses to offer (no minimum wage).  You are a slaver, a traitor, and an all-round crummy human being.


I am celebrating the Fourth of July.  It may be the last time I live in anything that resembles the glorious land of freedom and opportunity that our Forefathers envisioned.  If I had a flag, I am not sure I wouldn't fly it upside down, as I believe our nation IS in distress.  We worship money, convenience and ourselves more than the laws that shape this land, the actual land on which it stands, and the basic dignity of all free people.  We have lost Christian compassion in favor of TALKING about Christianity and focussing not on loving our neighbors but on believing ourselves to be better than they are and more deserving than they are of the things that make life worth living -- happiness, meaningful occupation, personal interests, love, respect and comfort in sickness and grief.  


Do not mistake me.  I believe in America as our forefathers believed in her.  What I am losing faith in is my fellow Americans.  I see dysfunctional attitudes and behaviors everywhere I look.  Lack of ethics, lack of responsibility toward others, toward the nation itself, and lack of and disrespect for the values of enlightenment our forefathers shared.   


Our Declaration by Danielle Allen.  Read it!

 
 
As Christmas approaches, I tend to think about world affairs in terms of the Christian values I grew up believing.  I look back over the year, and forward to the next year.  I even make some predictions, not of the wheeooooeee type, but based on my analysis of events and conditions in society and in the world.


I read this morning that Ireland has mailed letters to about 6000 unemployed Irish, asking them to move to other EU nations.  This strikes me as wrong on at least two fronts.  The first is that as a Catholic nation, which prohibits birth control, the nation helped create the long term unemployed and owes them better than asking them to leave their home.  The second is that the other EU nations have their own unemployment problems and might not welcome 6000 unemployed immigrants.


The day before I had read that Google (or amazon) was looking to replace clerks with robots.  Prior to this, I have read pieces saying that we will now permanently have a higher rate of unemployment.  I have also read that those  who have been unemployed longer than six months are now considered unemployable.  My Christian values tell me that if society cannot offer people jobs, it should, at a minimum, leave them their dignity, and provide them with life's necessities.  This has made the Christian right's position of blaming the unemployed for their condition, and blaming it on laziness and unwillingness to work, simply unfathomable and immoral.


Love, and charity, Jesus himself, require us to treat the unemployables with respect, and dignity, not scorn and the cloak of invisibility that descends when we assume people "don't want to work."  Honestly, how many of us can say that we would keep looking for a job after we are told by agencies and employers that we have been unemployed too long to be considered?  With dwindling financial reserves, how much would any of us continue to expend on transportation, clothing expenses (even if just cleaning and pressing), printing up and sending out resumes?   Who do you think an employer would hire -- a 32 year old with children, or someone in their late forties or early fifties with health issues?


Do we just toss people away, like disposable coffee cups and razors?  Do we just say "I'll pray for you?'  When we say it, how often do we actually pray for a solution to the suffering and the stress?  Once? Daily until we hear the person's situation has improved?


Into this walks Pope Francis, who is the first Pope since I became conscious of the existence of a Pope, which was the installation of Pope John XXII, who walks and talks as I imagine Jesus did, or close to it.  What does the Christian Right do?  Attack him as "communist" like "Obama."  I heard someone mention that Pope Francis was not even born in the United States!  Hmm, I'm not Catholic, and I know that NONE of them throughout history were born in the United States.  So how is that a relevant comment?  Is it just a stupid one?
 
 
A couple of days ago, somebody shared a post about the Virginia mother who allowed her son to wear a KKK outfit for Halloween.  I made a comment about raising another generation of racists and said "Bad parenting!"  Someone apparently came along and asked, my husband reported, "And what are you raising? If anything."  

I think I have written before about this notion that if you aren't a parent, you know nothing.  I am going to come right out and say that anyone who believes that non-parents do not know anything about being a parent has a tiny, closed mind. I might also mention that the question is rude, and had I found the post to reply, I would have said "Nonayabiz, but I am raising hell, hopefully some awareness and if possible some consciousness."

I had parents.  Both of them had good parenting skills, and bad parenting skills, and some really excellent parenting skills. They made mistakes, as all parents do. As a child, I had very different opinions about which skills were the good ones than I have as an adult!   However, it's a full time job, along with their other jobs, and most of their mistakes were from being stretched for time or energy.  Only a very few were from passing on bad skills they learned from their parents or social norms.  Very fortunately for me, some of their biggest poorer skills were remedied by their friends, teachers of mine, my Momma Della, friends of mine, and therapy.

I babysat as a teen.  I tutored kids.  I taught college.  My friends had children. I taught middle skill and high school.  I was a Big Sister. I read parenting books when I was pregnant.  The fact I miscarried does not mean I didn't learn anything from the books, I have watched friends go through divorce and the loss of a child through death.  An observant person learns a lot in life.  A reflective person with analytical skills can see things a parent often cannot or will not.

Here is the real hard truth some parents never learn:  a child is not your possession to be shaped in every detail into a little you.  Really good parents encourage the child to discover the who inside that God put on earth, even if it is not who you wanted your child to be in your idealized vision.  

Here's the second hard truth.  I mostly learned this from being a child, so listen up.  The entire society has to live with your child.  Your child will do better in life if it can adapt to other people he or she encounters while holding on to a sense of what is wanted from them by others, and a strong sense of identity.  

This world is not a "whites only" world.  For most of the US, it is not a whites only society.  Your son has to make his way through the world as it is.  If you bring him up to accept racism, he will have a harder time coping with the world and the people in it.

The mother defended her son's choice by saying it was "kind of a family tradition" and that she didn't see anything wrong with the KKK.  She also said she had warned her son some people would say bad things about him.  No, but I have some bad things to say about her. She needs to realize this world is increasingly going to be non-white. Trying to live in a world where white folks do not hold all the power, and he cannot fling his KKK traditions around willy-nilly with impunity.  There will be social and economic repercussions for her son that will be harder to deal with than people saying bad things about him.  There will be girls who will not date him.  Jobs for which he will not qualify, others from which he will get himself fired.  There will be homes in which he is not welcome, although he is a neighbor.  There will be legal consequences, perhaps even jail.  

A child's identity is not the color of his or her skin.  It is the collection of passions, interests, inherent skills, talents and intelligence with which your child is born.  A good parent does not instill beliefs into their child which will hinder the unfolding of a rich, productive life for that child.  Instilling racism will lead the child to resentments, prejudicial blindnesses based on the color of someone else's skin, barriers that would not exist socially or professionally without that racism, and frustrations from learning that the rest of the world does agree with, hold, nor find acceptable that racism.

Unfortunately, it is probably too late for that little boy.   A KKK costume is simply not acceptable in today's society.  Had he come to my door on Halloween dressed that way, he would have gotten a lecture on the history of the KKK and no candy.  I do not reward hatefulness.  




 
 
I would like to apologize to you for the inconvenience you suffered when you ran in to vote on your way to work yesterday. This is the first election since the new ID laws went into effect.  The forms and how to fill them out changed as a result of that  new law.  I personally have been serving as an election clerk for almost 20 years.  The young woman next to me has at least one election under her belt, because we clerked together in 2012.  She may have more than that, but I have no personal knowledge of her prior history.


I stayed up all night the night before the election making sure I understood how to process voters so that nobody would be denied their right to vote, and so we make it easier for your vote to be counted in the next election.  The clerk that was  processing you clearly did not the shortcut I showed her.  Had she proceeded as she was, you would have spent another minute or two filling out a form before you got to vote.  


In addition to my experience, I have SLE and have been coping for a week with serous pain on my right side from from my ankylosing spondilytis, without pain killers.  I do not like to take addictive drugs unless I can immediately go to sleep, and I cannot take aspirin, ibuprofen, etc. because I have depressed platelet counts, and those drugs eat platelets.  I hope I managed to smile and greet you cordially.  I know I managed not to engage in your frantic hurried rudeness, or I would have taken time to ask who what gives you the right to be rude to those trying to politely help you when they had nothing to do with the fact you did not allow yourself enough time for voting.  I know you didn't have to stand in line at the polling place. I also know you didn't have to wait for a voting machine.


I sympathize with trying to vote and get to work on time.  I used to have a high-pressure job before the SLE, which you may know as lupus, derailed my life.  I clerk in elections for two reasons.  The first is so that there WILL BE SOMEONE TO PROCESS VOTERS, and I have the time and experience to do the job.  The second is that because I do not have my career any more, I really need the under $100 pay from the 14 hour day.  I do not need the verbal abuse of people in a hurry.


My precinct judge was amused by your comment that she had really scraped the bottom of the barrel, because she had hand picked us all because we worked so well together and efficiently and harmoniously the last time a year ago.  My husband, who was working the JBC machine was less amused to hear you describe me as the "bottom of the barrel."  He is so polite that he repressed his anger and did not say anything to you.  He had also been up all night preparing.  He loves me, admires my spirit in the face of my disease and knows your evaluation was incorrect   He knows the intelligence level and educational achievements of both myself and the young woman next to me.  


I also apologize for my voice carrying while you were trying to figure out the propositions.  They are complicated.  I suggest that before the next election, you contact the Leagues of Women Voters and or the Houston Chronicle, or their websites, and study the propositions at your leisure and decide on your vote.  My husband and I did that a week before the election and then early voted, so that we could help you vote.  We were in and out in two minutes flat, even with my wheelchair to get through the doors.  I suggest this because it will also help you get in and out in a hurry.  You should know that you can bring in a set of personal notes, or campaign materials as long as you do not display them to other voters or use the to campaign for a candidate or issue inside the polling place.    Next time perhaps you will choose to vote early, and vote early in the early voting period.  Except for the last day of early voting, it is generally fast.  The county clerk's office can tell you when and where and the hours at the location you recognize to be nearest your home or office or en route.


I have spent decades trying to modulate my voice, but I just have one of those voices.  I think I got it from my Dad.  He, too, could walk into a space like a crowded auditorium full of people talking and say "Hey!" and everybody in the place would shut up.  I try, I really do, but when I am concentrating on what I'm doing, or excited about a topic, I forget to whisper.  It's just what I was born with, and 60 years have not cured it.  I do apologize if my voice was more distracting than your internal voice telling you to hurry to get to work.


You were the only voter who complained about anything all day long, from 7 am until 7 pm. I am sorry that you arrived frazzled and unprepared to vote.  You were the only unpleasant voter we encountered all day.  I apologize for not meeting your ideals;  I probably won't the next time either.  I am proud that none of us allowed your rudeness and your rash judgments to ruin our days.


For your information, I taught college business statistics and am a published applied statistician.  I read six languages and speak a bit of all of them.  I understand them well enough to listen to movies in those languages without needing the subtitles.  My colleague at the table is a nurse's assistant, speaks two languages fluently, and helps run her family business.  She is headed for nursing school, and was studying her materials for the state boards between voters.  All of us have lives, from which we take some time to be present at the polls so you can vote. 

I am sorry that the other 154 voters had better experiences than you did.  Even the guy who had ordered a mail ballot and not received it and was on his way out of town and ended up going home to see if it had arrived, and returning to the polling place because it had not, and waited through a call to the County clerk to see if they had received it, and ended up casting a provisional ballot that he knew might not get counted thanked us for the doing the job by the rules and was pleasant to us.  The only voter who approached your level of criticism was a man who accidentally pushed the cast ballot button before completing his ballot and only got to vote in one race was not nearly as upset as you were, even when there was nothing we could do. 


My husband and I left at about 8 pm, exhausted and laughing at being the bottom of the barrel.  I am sorry we were inspired to make fun of you.


I offer this to be helpful to voters everywhere.  Come prepared.  In fact, prepare NOW to be sure you are registered and properly identified so that you can vote next November in the important races in your state.  Make sure your photo ID is not expired and that the name matches your voter registration name format.  Make sure you know the and have the proper identification documents in your state.  Study the issues, the candidates, and any amendments or propositions that will be on the ballot where you vote.  Make a list of who and what you want to for or against.  Order your mail ballot, if you want to vote by mail in plenty of time to get it, complete it and get it back in time.  If you cannot mail it back in time, bring it to the polls, so we can cancel the mail ballot and allow you to vote.  Know what you have to do to get your provisional ballot counted, or ask us.   Allow yourself plenty of time, and if you CANNOT, please do not take it out on the people working the polls.  Your problems really are not our fault.  


 
 
If there is a Kroger in your area, and you are not yet signed up for their online account, you're missing out on a great deal.  I am a BzzAgent, but I have also been shopping at Kroger for almost 6 decades. I have received free coupons, before and after I signed up as a BzzAgent.

Why should you have a Kroger.com account?

Saves money
Makes your life easier
Free downloadable coupons and printable coupons
     Includes Free Friday coupons 
Look at ads and make a printable list of shopping and your coupons on your card
Track your Fuel points (double on Friday - Sunday right now)
See events at local store
Register your card here (be sure to opt in to emails!):
Kroger.com









 
 
I was watching a show on Comedy Central earlier this week in which they did a skit on Talking about Race.  A white reporter/moderator was put in a room with 5 Black Americans and a Black moderator/reporter went in a room with 5 White Americans.  They were supposed to talk about race.  The skit showed how much difference there is in perceptions between the two groups.  I thought it rather accurately reflected what I see happening these days.


A couple of hours later, I watched an MSNBC interview with Cuba Gooding, Jr. (1968) & Forest Whitaker (1961) about "The Butler."   Whitaker commented that what he took away from the movie was that not only blacks fought & died for civil rights, but whites as well.  The white moderator pointed out that 2 of the three civil rights workers killed in 1964 in Neshoba, MS were white. 


I know from personal experience that there were also whites working for civil rights in ways which threatened their physical lives less than their economic or social lives.  Kids told adults they didn't think racist jokes were funny or asked them not to use the N-word in front of them.  People who recommended a black for a job and found their own careers stalled for the "impertinence"  of it.  One can die socially, emotionally, professionally, economically as well as physically. Many whites stepped up to the plate and fought for civil rights.  Ironically, it was my perception that those with the most "white privilege" who did this that suffered the least.  I could be wrong, but that is how I saw it growing up in those times.


I don't know how much Whitaker actually remembers from their childhood about the conditions before the 1965 Civil Rights Act and the Watts riots. Gooding was born after all that and has no personal memories.  I do think many young Blacks think all white people my age are racists.  I think they need to open their minds and get more experience with whites my age.


Eugene Allen, upon whom the movie is based, was born about a year after my father, and he went to work in the White House about the time I was conceived.  I mention my father because he too was known as Gene. and because his perspective on racism largely shaped my own as I lived through the same times Eugene Allen did, but as a white child contemporary to his own children.


What I experienced after 1965 was the difficulty of integration, not just due to hostility from whites either.  When Blacks finally moved into my school district and enrolled at my school, everybody felt awkward. Some were hostile, yes.  My own experience in trying to make the brother/sister duo welcome were bumbling and met with what I can only describe as behavior making me feel that they distrusted my genuine desire to befriend them. What they didn't know was I was generally bumbling about getting to know people.   Terribly insecure I was.


What I wish I had had the sense to say is "Look, I'm not very good at meeting people for the first time.  I always think they aren't going to like me, and I'm kind of sensitive about it.  So I end up bumbling around."  The problem was that as a 16 year old who was afraid they weren't going to like me, I was too insecure to say that.  


As the years passed, I came to realize that Blacks were often NOT saying what they really thought to me.  No good relationship begins with a lack of honesty.  What I recognized -- or think I recognized -- is that sometimes this was because the individual I was trying to get to know was put off by some of the same behaviors or thoughts or allegiances that whites I met for the first time were -- lack of common interests, religion, hobbies, stage of life cycle.  Sometimes, though, it was distrust, often unjustified in my particular case, although more than justified on the basis of prior experiences with whites in general.  


Always, however, in promising Black relationships, I could get just so far into their lives, and then it fell apart.  Sometimes I knew why, as with the very bright young man in  my college classes who just did not understand that it was the fact he was married that put me off him sexually. I had wanted to be FRIENDS, colleagues, with him, not his lover.   When the end came, he slammed his napkin down on the table, hissed "I should have known.  What is it, you don't like the way I smell?"  I whispered to his retreating back "No, as a feminist, I don't want to hurt your wife."  Most often, however, as with married couples I met professionally, I never knew why, after a dinner at my house, and a dinner at theirs, both of which seemed to go well, it just ended.  Obviously, I took some wrong step, but I don't know what it was.  I always got the impression however, it was some cultural divide, or something I said that they considered racist but never bothered to explain.  Whether they told themselves I was like all the rest, or were afraid I'd be offended and get angry, I have always seen those events as taking the easier road, rather than hashing it out, like friends do.  After awhile, I quit trying.  


I will say this.  Only once did a Black woman or man make the first move toward friendship.  It was a short friendship, but I think a sincere one, and it ended when I moved on to another job.  When I tried to reconnect, the reception was hostile.  I still admire the woman greatly, and I wish we were still friends, but I accept that it will not happen. I have learned a lot from her, and regret whatever I did to offend her.


I am sure, back there in my innocent optimism that the Civil Rights Act would bring an end to racism in my lifetime,  I hoped that by this time in my life, I would have good friends of all colors.  Today, I despair of it ever happening. 


In a chat room once, a Black woman said to me, after she learned I was a Hillary supporter in the primary and chewed me out as a racist and I tried to explain it was policies and personal characteristics, and yes, wanting a female President as badly as she wanted a Black President, "Oh yes, I am SURE you have Black friends, right?  Well, know this, no Black is really friends with a white. We laugh at you behind your back."  Really?  And *I* am the racist/bigot rejecting someone just because of the color of their skin?  I don't think so.  


I do hope the younger generations move past this crap.  Did I benefit from having white skin at some points in my life.  Probably.  Did I ask to be born white?  Or to have those privileges (some of which I really didn't have?)


So, here's an opening for conversation.  What the HELL am I supposed to do about having been born white?  What do I have to do to stop being seen as a racist?  What EXACTLY is it that is thought that I CAN do to end racism?  What are you assuming I think or feel toward you?  Do you think I automatically know what you will consider racist?  Do you never misunderstand what someone says and take it for something it's not?  Have you made sure you didn't do something offensive to me before you judge my distaste for you as racism? 


NEWSFLASH:  Plenty of whites don't like me, and I don't like a lot of whites.  There are also some I like ok, but I don't want to be buddies, and there are few that I just want to make vanish completely from my daily interactions.  I once changed dentists because the man yabbered political diatribe at me while he worked on my teeth.


Maybe, just maybe, it's not your skin, but your manner of talking to me, or what you want to talk to me about (sorry, evangelism makes me want to slap a person silly!  Especially if it denigrates women or hates gays), or your incessant ranting about your new baby that I have been hearing from parents all my life.  ASK AND TELL.  You might find out we can work through some of this stuff and there's no racism, or no intentional racism, at all.  I'm happy to admit I do not know all the offenses and will apologize if I commit one, once I understand why it's offensive.  There are also some Blacks who owe me an apology for assuming I am happily offending them and don't care if I do.  They should bother to ask if I knew what and why.  They might also be surprised to know how much time over the years I have spent reading, listening, learning and trying to understand so that I will not say something offensive.


The bottom line, for me, really IS this:  I do NOT care what color your skin is.  Get drunk, lose control over your anger in a bar, slam me up against a wall, and I WILL consider you an ASSHOLE (Cuba Gooding, Jr.) and a sexist.  I don't give a damn about your race.  Just your behavior, given the situation.  Now was that bartender a racist?  I don't know.  I don't know if she threw other drunk, angry people out of that bar on a regular basis, night after night, or what the color of their skin was.  Gooding had no call to effect physical violence on a woman.   IT IS NO MORE ACCEPTABLE TO ME TO PHYSICALLY ASSAULT A WOMAN THAN TO LYNCH A BLACK GUY JUST BECAUSE (S)HE DOES NOT BEHAVE THE WAY YOU WANT HIM TO.  Think on that. 

I happen to think Cuba Gooding, Jr is a talented actor and I see just about every movie he is in.  I will see The Butler, not just because I admire Gooding's work, but Winfrey's, Whitaker's and others' in the cast. Italso promises to be exactly the kind of movie I love seeing. 

I also happen to think Gooding needs to address anger management, and I wouldn't want to be anywhere when he's drinking.  If I were in a bar (unlikely, it's been literally decades) and moved when he walked in and sat down near me, it's because his drinking and anger scare me.  I do admit that over the years I have developed little tolerance for being around people who are drunk, whether they are alcoholics or simply people who behave badly when drunk.  That's why it's unlikely I'd be in a bar.  It's also why I don't usually go to parties. Gooding might probably think I was a racist, wouldn't he?


So think about this, and about what's on my page Talking About Racism.  I would love to see some comments, especially if they are answers to my questions and not just attacking me or labelling me.  I want a dialogue, not a diatribe!
 
 
I have misjudged lots of people in my life.  Judged some as worth knowing and hanging with, some as not worth knowing.  I'm sure that I have turned a lot of people off, too, and they have misjudged me.  

The greatest pain has been in trusting, loving, relying on, expecting BFFness when it was not justified.  Perhaps the greatest poverty came from not trusting the right people enough.  I don't know.  I have reached a point that trying to get along with other people and get what I need seems too damned complicated.

I read a lot of stuff that says you get back what you put out.  Not in one lifetime you don't.  Some of the most genuinely nice people I have ever met get back scorn, ridicule, abuse and teeth-kicking. Some of the smartest, hardest-working people I know get back being passed over, blamed for someone else's error, poverty, illness, and generally being ignored.

I've reached a point where I just don't expect anything from anyone any more.  I look around and see people who do not see the world, or other people in it as they are.  Me, I have given up on trying to understand other people.  So if I don't understand you, don't take it personally.  I watch you, listen to you, and there are so many conflicts I cannot tell who the real you is.  

OK so some of you may be saying, I don't know who the real you is either.  Sure you do.  It's just that I'm no longer trying to tell anyone or enlighten anyone about who I am.  You're going to have to put the pieces together about me just like you make me do about you.  

Right this moment I feel, old, tired, emotionally drained and frankly somewhat terrified.  Feelings, though, unless one is seriously mentally disturbed, are transitory. It might be a short transit,  It might be a long one.  Feelings aren't who I am.  

So here's the quiz that proves that you know who I am.

1.  You're feeling great.  Just had a health problem cured, took an astounding vacation, won a terrific prize (or the lottery), got married, had a baby, got a raise, a new job, bought a new house.
      a.  I ignore your joy, say nothing to you about it.
      b.  I say something truly envious (different from teasingly 
           envious)
      c.  I rejoice in your happiness and let you know it.
      d.  I tell other people you don't deserve it.

2.  You're feeling horrible -- stressed, depressed, scared, 
     lonely,  isolated and confused.
     a.  I tell you to quit having a pity party.
     b.  I tell you to go cry on someone else's shoulder.
     c.  I say nothing and act like a stranger.
     e.  I offer an ear, a prayer, an idea, or simply 
          companionship.

There you go, two simple questions that will tell you who I am if you have been paying any attention at all.  Here's one last hint.

I'll apologize where I feel I did you wrong, and, if I can, I'll make it right.  That doesn't mean I want to be friends again, necessarily.  I'll give you what for when I think you owe me an apology; that doesn't mean I hate you.

What I really want right now is to find a crochet pattern for a baby-sized ripple afghan and get the materials to make two of them for the babies my angel neighbor is having in November.  A boy and a girl.  I also want him to find a GOOD new job!  He deserves one.  


 
 
TiME TO SEE WHAT THIS WEEK BRINGS!  Click HERE  on Fridays and load it on to your card and GO GET IT!  Last  week free toothpaste  Free Granola bars before that.  Got my shopping list ready, and my coupons.  And on FRIDAYS (as well as Saturdays and Sundays)  I earn 2X fuel points because I have downloaded the 2X fuel coupon to my card.  So FREE FRIDAYS are really FANTASTIC!  Of course last month, I had more fuel points than I used --should have filled up my brother's car too!
 
 
Last week, on Friday morning, I took my husband to the Methodist Hospital ER Unit on S. Voss in Houston.  For the prior four days, he had been running temperatures which got up to 101-102.  For about a week before that, he had been complaining of feeling tired and not very hungry.  I had been trying to keep him hydrated, and putting ice packs on his neck and head when the temp got high.  I had been sure that I was losing the hydration battle, and now water was making him nauseated and he was throwing it up.  So I took him in, believing that he needed more care than I could provide.

Their ad said they accepted people regardless of ability to pay.  I told them up front we have no money.  They treated him for blood sugar and slapped saline solution in his arm.  Three hours later, the doctor tells me the ambulance is on the way to transfer him to the hospital.  I haven't driven alone in years, much less in a heightened state of anxiety.  By now his fevers were spiking to 103.  

My brother took my car home so I wouldn't have to pay humongous parking fees. My mother-in-law called.  Our cell phone died.  The room phone died.  Tuesday night, they still didn't know what he had, but he was hitting and passing 105, and his face and neck were turning beet red. Wednesday night, I came unglued.  I was scared he wasn't going to get well, or he would be disabled in some way.  I was scared of how we were going to pay for it.  I started crying.  My brother doesn't "do huggy touchy feely.'  I did not have a single person, other than my husband, I could talk to, and he was sleeping and running a fever.  Maybe if I had a tablet, I could have chatted online.  There's not one person in Houston I could talk to, except a cousin I couldn't call at that hour.  I prayed and cried and prayed some more. Then I cried some more.  Then my husband's fever broke and he woke up, and I talked to him.  What I know is that life without him would be unbearably lonely.

The hospital finally released him Friday.  They still didn't know what kind of virus he had, but his temp and blood pressure and blood sugar had all stabilized.  I have no idea what the bill was.  A young woman had come up to talk to us Monday, and I told her we had no money and no assets, and she went away saying she'd turn it over to the woman who handles charity cases.  That was the last I heard, and while I know a bill still might show up, I suspect the hospital donors took care of it.

When I got home, I saw that 5 or 6 people had responded to my post about going to the ER with wishes and prayers, and after I posted that we were home and he was ok, another 2 or 3 posted comments.  I have prayed for about 30 of my FB friends when they have asked for it for themselves, their spouses, their children, their parents, etc.  I cover everyone in a general prayer daily, and I am sure that there are a few who did that without posting anything to me.  I'm not going to stop being me;  I'll still pray for those who need or request prayers.  I'll vote for them to win contests.  I do feel a little sad, however, that I am as alone as I am.  It would have made me feel a lot less alone if more of the people who are real life friends would have posted something, just so I would know that they care about me.  
 
 
Today was a very special day for me.  For the first time in close to forty years, I got to spend time with a very special friend from my childhood and her absolutely amazing college bound son. We went to brunch, but we spent so much time talking (well, yes me mostly, but not entirely)  that the truly delicious meal was almost forgotten.  Something happened during the course of the meal that really made me suddenly see my life in a different light.

We came to talk about how the closest I had been was standing at the ferry port on the Isle of Anglesey and looking at the bright green island across the water.   This prompted my comment that one of the reasons I hated the divisions and the religious emphasis on political issues here was that I didn't want to live in a Northern Ireland. Her son commented that all he knew about Northern Ireland is that the people there weren't very nice. To which I said "It used to be a lot worse." Then it hit me!  HE had been born since the Northern Ireland Peace Declaration in 1993!  That whole bloody conflict of decades that I grew up with was something he knew nothing about!  The Kennedy Assassination -- such a big event for his mother and me, and it's history to him, not an emotional impact like it was for us.  The Vietnam War.  Watergate.

I must admit that a similar thing happened to me back in the 1980s.  I was babysitting for my statistics professor, and her children were watching a TV movie about Kent State.  The daughter turned to me and said "Why did college kids behave so badly back then?" Like a blow to the gut.  Kent State was May of my senior year.  When I read about it, I felt as if I had been shot.  How to explain this feeling to that child?  

How to explain any of the things that felt like opening doors, or like closing doors, to someone who hadn't been born yet, and couldn't possibly feel the event the same way?  Someone who could maybe never even understand how the things that are going on today feel?

My friend astonished me by quoting something I said after the Kennedy Assassination, something I don't even remember saying.  I don't doubt her, but that was the year my father had died in March, and I hadn't recovered from that.  Having Kennedy assassinated in my state, dug up all that sorrow -- I felt so deeply for the Kennedy children --  and what I mostly remember is feeling devastated and frightened about the future. Not just because my father had died and that me feeling frightened and alone, but because I was part of the "Duck and Cover" drills generation, which taught us to fear nuclear war, and NOW OUR PRESIDENT WAS DEAD! 

I came away from this breakfast elated, but already grieving because this dear friend, with whom I could talk for hours, doesn't live near me and who knows when I will see her again?  I also came away determined that these things are something we MUST communicate to the kids her age.  How the world was when we grew up and how it's changed.  What we feel about those changes and why it's important for their generation to understand why we feel that