McCain….and Mom

This past week, Sen. John McCain received a lot of attention, or notoriety depending on your views.  Like a modern-day  Caesar Rodney (look him up 🙂 )

rodney  He rose from his diagnosis and returned to Washington to cast an unexpected, deciding vote on a piece of healthcare legislation. Captivity, campaigns, cancer….at 80, he certainly is a determined fighter.

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Mom is a determined fighter too.  Older than he is by a bit, she continues to battle back from the broken leg.  Her determined cry is “I’m going home, to see my cat.” She means it.  She’s doing everything she can in rehab to walk and move again, including eating every day to keep her strength going.  She’s seen the patient who didn’t want to walk, returned to the hospital.  She wants no part of that; she’s going home.

I have to admire her drive, her determination to get better.  I’m not sure I’d have had it in her position.  I’m not even sure I had it in my position looking at her when this started. It certainly would be easy to get depressed and defeated in the rehab center.  It can’t be a lot of fun, particularly sitting and waiting for therapy…food…everything.  And yet she perseveres.

Some people are just born with the streak of spine, backbone, gumption that pushes them forward.  Mom has it, and I’m glad.  I doubt I’ll be that strong, should I find myself in that position.  Maybe I’ll surprise myself.

Or not.

 

Broken. Hip.

Is this the time?

Or the beginning of the end?

A fall at her age

so often is the start of the end.

Surgery so stressful,

as is the break

Will she fight through?

Or has she had enough?

I sit and wait,

and wonder.

 

These were my thoughts two weeks ago.  My mother fell.  It happens at her age, and as so often happens, a hip breaks.  I wrote the portion above while waiting for her to come out of surgery.  She did…rod inserted, nailed into place.  Such an impositions on an aged body.

I’m most surprised by her attitude.  She says she’s going to walk, and go back home to her bed and her cat.  Now I can imagine that even if that happens, it won’t be the same.  But we’ll see.  I think she will push through, walk again, go home again.  And I’ll be thankful.

It makes me wonder about me, though.  She, for better or worse, at least has me.  When my time comes, will I have anyone to be a visitor, to be an advocate, to be a link to the outside world?  Someone who can research rehab centers, assisted living facilities, medical payments, take care of the house?  I was surprised that I had so little time from the surgery to find a rehab facility.  It was only a day and a half.  Not a lot of time, no good capacity to research the numerous facilities, their ratings, their rankings, their capabilities.  Still, she seems to be doing well.  But I have to wonder about her.  After all….

she likes the food there. But not well enough to stay any longer than necessary.

De-Construction (part I)

It’s unremarkable that the concept has been developed and adopted in multiple cities. Likely, the only remarkable aspect is my noticing it and saving the articles on the different places mentioned in stories.

Most of the demolition of old buildings that I’ve seen has been by bulldozer and grab claw. Of course, most of  what I’ve seen torn down has been cheaply made strip malls and big box sores that have passed their 10-year-old life spans. But when you have real structures, especially old house, row home and factories, the opportunity for deconstruction increases.  Deconstruction is different from salvage. Salvage uses what it can of debris while deconstruction take it apart with the idea of using most or all of it.

It seems like such a good multiple win idea.  it provides jobs for the deconstruction, warehouse management, avoidance of landfills, avoidance of harvesting of new materials,.  While it clearly takes time, and energy (although that’s debatable if you look at the life cycle analysis from initial harvesting of materials and their manufacture).

It’d be wonderful if it could be done on  a grander scale with abandoned and dilapidated buildings. Of course, laws of ownership, vandalizing (which is an uncontrolled, illegal form of deconstruction) and developing the necessary skill sets and all factors limiting it.

But still, it is a great concept; sustainability and Cradle to Cradle at it’s best.

Tet-a-tet

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Quiet summer morning
Day dawns cool and pleasant
Breakfast for two
Outdoor eating
Watching the world rush by
Eating slowly
All the carrion the world
Two vultures in the median strip

Giving

Sometimes there are events and incidents where you see your own limitations exposed, laid out all too clearly.

I have never been a particularly generous person. Growing up, it wasn’t demonstrated; parsimony runs pretty strongly through both sides of my family of origin.  Still, it sis possible to change, to learn hot to be so thigh hearted.

Over the past 10 years, I have learned to be better at giving, learned to be more generous, learned to think of others.  My friend Doug demonstrated it quietly when my men’s group met, by paying the bill or by leaving a 200% tip for the waitress. I learned too, from a friend who had been in the service industry and taught me to say a kind word and think of the servers and waitresses, their meager paychecks and difficult jobs.

I thought progress had been made. At least until…..

I was having a Starbucks with a friend, sitting outside the Mall on a chilly but sunny afternoon.  To my surprise (because we don’t expect this in Columbia, especially at the Mall) a man approached, asking for money. Now, while he looked a “panhandler” type, I though, “Okay, if he needs food let’s go inside and get him something to eat”. I was willing to help, but on my terms.  My friend was quicker, however.  She asked him his name, reached into her purse, quickly handed him a bill (I think it was a twenty) and told him  that there was no judgement on how he needed it, that she hoped it would help, and that he’d have a better rest of the day.

Instead of feeling generous with my thought of action, I realized how parsimonious I still was. I was willing to help, but only on my terms of basic need and in a way that I controlled.  My friend responded with openness, faith and charity that allowed him the freedom to use it as needed…for good or not, but as he saw fit.  And maybe with her attitude, it would encourage him to use it for need.  It was a surprising interaction.

I hope to do better next time the situation arises.

Email Anguish

There is a particular email frustration I have, that I’ve seen at work and in private life, that drives me up a wall. Part of it deals with senders of email, and part with repliers of emails.  It forces me to pull out my soap box and rant……

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For senders…..WHY for the love of electrons and in the name of all things efficient do you insist on putting a massive list serve alias in the “To” line instead of in the “bcc” line?!! By putting it in the to line, everyone can reply to everyone, which on a list serve can bollocks up, jam up, and overwhelm a system.  The better solution is to send the email “To” yourself and put everyone else in the “bcc”.  That way the correspondence is always between only you and one recipient.

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For repliers…….What The Freak makes you think you need to “Reply to all” when you tell the list server to take you off a list, or to say anything else??  If you NEED to reply, DON’T REPLY TO ALL!!!  That only adds to the system overload and problems.  Just hit “reply”.  This isn’t like your private life, where everyone on the alias is a personal friend that wants to read what you say.  IT’S A LISTSERVE….it could have dozens, or hundreds or THOUSANDS of names that DON’T WANT TO HEAR FROM YOU!!

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Thus endeth my rant.  I hope it helps 😀

Unregretted decisions

Historically I have a difficult time making decisions because I too easily see the other side of an argument. Which is an unusual problem, because too often people are unable or unwilling to consider the other side of an issue! But there have been two decisions I have never regretted, never looked back on, never had second thoughts about.

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The first was a decision to surrender my appointment to a service academy. I was appointed out of high school, and went through the bulk of that first summer. Truth be told, I was admitted by virtue of mind and test tacking abilities, and the body was never, EVER, as good or good enough. The decision to leave was difficult, mostly because of the reaction I would face back home and the need to get into school someplace that fall so I wouldn’t be trapped at home. But although it was difficult, I have never, in all the years, regretted the decision. I still think I could have made a good military officer (more Al Haig than David Petraeus), but I’ve never wished I had stayed, never was sorry I hadn’t pursued that path.

The second decision that I never looked back on was the decision to have a family. Alright, it was a very small family, just one child, but the decision to do it was a long time coming. It took me years to get to “yes”. In fact, I think my then-wife despaired of ever having a child because of my reticence. And yet, once she arrived in our life, I never regretted, never looked back.

It’s interesting that these are the two decisions I have the most confidence in, because they have had very different outcomes.  The decision to leave the academy meant I ended up in a school that would take me rather than one I had selected.  It meant my major was decided through a certain randomness of taking copious ‘introduction’ classes in my freshman year rather than the history/political science/oceanography major I to which I had aspired.  And the major lead to all sorts of ramifications in my career path when an accident (TMI) and politics (Reagan recession) substantially altered my planned paths.  But all has turned out acceptably, as I have found a passion for environmental sustainability and planning that I would not have expected.

The decision to have a family….ah, now that’s a different outcome.  The divorce and subsequent estrangement from my progeny has produced years of sadness and pain, and even a nervous breakdown. That’s just from my side of the divide, from my perspective. I have to imagine it’s at least as bad from the other side, to grow up in half a family, to have life so dramatically changed.  And yet….and yet. I still don’t regret the decision.  Even through the emotional distance and disconnect, the love, pride, joy, hope that I feel for her outweighs the pain I’ve felt.

Two decisions.  Two turning points in life.  Neither regretted.  I suppose that is something  for which I should be grateful.