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Acceptance

Bitter, rasping, grieving, raw
Pain drips, seeps, crawls
Enters every orifice
Building in complex patterns
So severe, so horrific
Chains I have anchored about me
Ensnaring me in a choking, godless bankruptcy
I cannot breathe through it
I am drowning in it
There is no me anymore
Just obligations, duties, responsibilities,
Contrived relationships
Confusion, my brain is seeping away
So I’ll be no more then the man downstairs
Constantly singing his toothless songs,
His cells are in me, so is the dominatrix’s,
Mine? Mine are gone –
There is no me anymore –
I having been missing the memory of her
The one who was so smart, but in the end no more than
A sack of liabilities dumped on the doorstep of a woman who shows love
By beating it out of you
For the good it will bring
Oh, I am drowning
In a reflection of me
There is no me anymore –
I traded her up for this shell
With no respect for the casing
for the heart
for the mind
when others didn’t respect me
I believed them
Soaking it all up like wine
Becoming drunk on deceit
These are crone fingers, brittle, grasping,
Seeking to hold onto what long ago went away
In bitter disgust
At the wretch shivered and hovering in the corner
Trying the hold onto the dust
Left in their footprints
Alone
And self-created
Effervescent ________________________________________
My daughter’s laugh is effervescent
Bubbling out of her wellspring
From a source I don’t know
She took the best and seized it
Grasped it in her precious fingers and held on for dear life
Until she found the right people to share it with
She has her own Zen iridescence,
Sparkling in the sun, soaking up all life-giving rays
She is this generation’s Job,
She has ground to cover
And making it fast
Not time for bonding now . . .
I turned away, thinking she was at my feet,
turned back and she was gone
the door open, the dog left out

A Summer’s Bloom

The bloom of summer is upon us –
Lush, verdant, foliage spilling out of every crevice,
Eagerly seeking their moments of glory
Before winter’s chill sends them in retreat.
Children cascade in movement –
A ballet of motion gracefully brimming with enthusiasm,
Ready for each new adventure,
Clamoring for attention and activity.
From my window I watch –
The rustling of the curtains not caused by breeze but by hand,
The air is too dense with heat and humidity
For my fragile lungs to take in –
Each inhalation is like breathing water.
My windows are frames for the seasons,
My vision to a world I can’t participate in.
My life without is confined to certain temperatures,
Low humidity, some seasons but not others.
An air conditioner and oxygen tank regulate the conditions in which I exist.
The ache of joints and spasm of muscles necessitate heat therapy
When it’s broiling outside –
There is irony in the wearing of warm clothes in air conditioning,
In the dense, slumberous heat of August in New England.
A family birthday bash – seventy odd people –
Festive tents, music, coach rides, and the joy of friendship shared –
Everyone outside, saturating themselves in the moment –
While I hold court with the infirm within . . .
Thirty or forty years younger but just as decrepit, maybe more,
I’ve forgotten what it means to enjoy
As my oxygen tank puts back the oxygen
We stripped from the planet via pollution and overcrowding
I regulate my days –
Quietly, pensively,
Searching for meaning and validity
In the rustling curtains of my windowsill.

A Worthy Life

What then is a worthy life?
A life that justifies the energy
needed to sustain it.
In my diminishment my essence feels shriveled,
parched, depleted
while within rages a torrential battle
against the walls of this confining body.
Suicide can’t be justified –
(that would be unworthy) –
my battles are not meant to scar others.
But the endless exhaustion and pain
that governs my days
may be no more than the last vestiges of inner warfare
– and yet – the wellspring of pain is mute,
steadfastly locked in my throat,
begging for release – but afraid,
oh so very afraid –
that should inner ravings be released
they would be viewed as obtuse, chaotic, crazy . . .
the erratic mumblings of a crone
whose tottering footsteps wore down paths
best left untrod
and whose actions spoke
not of integrity and honor
but as hollow offerings to a vacant God –
words as leaves dried and blown from trees,
spiraling down, to be whipped away in winter’s winds,
leaving no trace they had left their imprint
on the gracious and beautiful landscape
we are given the opportunity
to make a difference . . . a meaning . . . on.

 

Pieces of Me

Each time they demanded, I caved,
Giving just a little more, just a bit more,
Always emptying, never replenishing . . .
I’ve given so much of myself
I have forgotten who I was to begin with.
I cannot fit the pieces together –
Too many are frayed, jagged,
Others imperfect recreations of faulty memory.
Whole sections gone, vanished,
Black holes where vital life force flowed.
I look in the mirror, expecting a missing nose,
A hole in my throat,
My heart gone for sure,
Feathered away in fragments.
As a child I lay in night’s grass staring at the Milky Way –
So very many stars, eons of them,
A wide, white swath cut through the dark,
Carrying hope in silver rays.
The stars have faded now –
There are fewer, none so bright . . .
There is so much more night in my life.
Try as I might, I can’t find the light –
My body carries bruises and scars from bumping the unseen.
I should have been selfish,
Holding onto the pieces of me
Because one woman’s treasures
Are another person’s garbage.
My heart is a cast-off in some musty attic,
Caught in the dark,
With all the night’s lost stars.

Finding sources

Writing a book is a frustrating but exciting experience.  Non-fiction is so very different from fiction.  I love fiction, it is what I choose to read when I’m not researching for the book.  But I don’t think I could write it.  Dialogue is tricky and the infinite care needed on descriptions and plot is intense.  I respect anyone who has the creativity to imagine another world and portray it with color and finesse.

I wish I were more like that but I’m not.  I’m serious-minded, analytical, fact-based. But writing non-fiction can be a beautiful thing.  “Radium Girls” was a very creative work; it read like fiction.

Exploring these women with their people focused gifts is a treasure trove of fascinating people.  There are so many women who have achieved great things, there just aren’t as many who have gone through extremely traumatic experiences and because of those experiences are achieving great things. I have researched many women so far and finding the right women is like searching for a needle in a haystack.

When I come across a woman who meets the parameters I am seeking it is like unwrapping a present.  The things she is doing to benefit the world draw me to her. Her story evokes sympathy and a certain admiration that what she has achieved has affected many people. I want to know more and I believe others will feel the same way when they read the book.

But, getting the manuscript written correctly and in a timely manner is, of course, key.  Do I have a thumbprint on something others will be drawn to or am I only seeking my own desires?  That still remains to be seen.

Imprinting memories

He is the repository

of her secrets

lending them back

in dribs and drabs

 

Key moments even before

he was around

safe deposited for generations

to come

 

Sharing memories

in hopes, they’ll

become hers once again.

 

A note tacked on the

cabinet door

of an arrangement of events

one by one for

daily discourse

 

A continual litany

streaming forth

to brush the surface

in hopes it

will sink in

 becoming hers

once again

 

Same old tune

Been hearing that same
old story
one too many times
over and over again

It’s okay.
They’re not bad as stories go –
far off places,
interesting people

You tell of your wife
her adventure in life
said before Alzheimer’s
took her words away

Different times
a generation on its way
to passing beyond
leaving new stories
to take the fold

Tell your stories
your wife can’t process
and I’ll listen
so you can be heard

Computer Issues

Do you remember the original “The Fly” movie?  At the end, the human/fly hybrid is caught in a web and cries out “Help Me, help me” as the spider descends upon it.  That is me in my computer quagmire, trying to determine how to make the machine work before the machine fakes me out and prints out “Sucker”!

I was given a laptop  that had been used before but the files had been cleared out. It is supposed to replace my old laptop which can do no more than freeze up.  I’m hoping to get it running long enough to download all the files still needing to be put on a memory stick.

My brain hurts with all this.  The new computer still needs to be set up.  I have little idea what I am doing.  I’m working too many hours to have the time to devote to this project.  And I am an accident waiting to happen. And I need time to work on my book.

So please be patient dear readers while I get straightened out.  I’ll be back again.  Now, let’s hope I can print this out.

Achieving Women Against the Odds

There are so many valiant women in the world and most go through their days with no recognition.  Many have gone through traumatic experiences and have lived to tell the tale.  However, telling the tale is not as important as doing the work and achieving against all odds.

One woman I recently read about was sexually trafficked by her mother starting at age 9.  This continued for three years but was halted by Child Protective Services,  Her mother wouldn’t give up her rights to the girl as she was a source of income and needed to support a rampant drug addiction.  Later, she fell into the hands of pimps.  Not knowing another way of life, prostitution continued into her 30’s when her own drug addiction finally came to its end.

She developed a program where young prostitutes could come for shelter and be given the resources to make life changes from prostitution.  To this date, she has assisted more than 300 girls.

I read about women who have gone through incredible suffering in civil wars, by terrorists, revolutionaries, and often loosing loved ones and their homes in the process.  They were given the opportunity for micro-grants, often a cow or a sewing machine, the means to support themselves and their families.  In spite of their traumas, they succeeded in the hard-bitten life they were given.  Greatness is fluid and relative.

My mother was one of those who achieved despite the odds.  As a child she lived with two alcoholics, one of whom was a raging, sexually and physically abusive drunk.  At age eleven, she took her one year old sister and left their apartment, never to return.  She worked in her aunt’s boarding home to pay her way.  Becoming a nurse, she worked very hard to support our family.  She ended up developing three businesses in the home health field.  When she chose to, she sold one for $250K.  She was generous, caring, and though she had a wicked temper at times, she made life easier for many people, even when she didn’t have financial resources for herself.  She removed herself so far from the squalor of her childhood, she was truly great.

Most women are touchstones of love and dedication.  They share from their hearts and give even in the tough times.  Some rise beyond the levels lived by the majority.  They become great.  They are the women I want to know.

Margueritte “Maggie” Barankitse

I came across another fabulous woman yesterday.  The Burundi President has referred to Margueritte “Maggie” Baransitke as the Mother of Burundi and she certainly lives up to that reputation.  Likened to Mother Theresa, which she dismisses, she has adopted at least 30,000 children since October 25, 1993. She calls herself an inventor of solutions. 

In the midst of an extremely violent ethnic war between the Hutus and Tutsis where 100,000s of people were killed, Maggie and her adopted seven children went to the Bishop’s home for security because some of her children were Hutus. Seventy two, people were already gathered. She hid the 25 children there in cupboards in the Church sanctuary.  The Tutsi invaders demanded she tell them where the children were and when she wouldn’t disclose their whereabouts, she was tied up, stripped naked, and one by one all 72 people, including the Bishop, nuns, and others who had come for safety, were executed in front of her, the last, the head of her best friend,thrown in her lap. 

Upon releasing herself, she buried all of those people in the days following.  She begged and borrowed food and supplies to care for the 25 children, then 50, then 100 and on.  On May, 1994, Roman Catholic Bishop Joseph Nduhirubuse donated an old school to be made into a shelter.  But Maggie was not content.  Always following the path laid out by her God, she built a school because she knew education was the key to getting out of Burundi’s grinding poverty, where the average person earns the equivalent of one dollar a day.  She developed shelters and homes for small groups of children in other cities throughout Burundi.

The children are treated with love and respect. When people were ill, and 16 women died in childbirth in one day, she talked the military into building a hospital.  When she had troubles with the bank, and was robbed, she opened a bank to service the needs of Maison Shalom, the organization she founded.  During the time when she had saved and adopted 20,000 kids, among them child soldiers, garbage dwelling children, Single mothers, Mothers and children with Aids, incarcerated children, she had to flee Burundi under death threats.  Many of the children went with her to externally displaced camps.

When able, she and the children returned. The children of Maison Shalom have become extraordinary in their own rights according to the people of Burundi.  Many have gone to college, some internationally, then returned to lend their skills to the community as doctors, lawyers, and business entrepreneurs.  Maggie gives micro grants to single mothers and women to set up businesses.  The loving life of Maison Shalom continues to flourish.

International praise started coming in, recognition for both her achievements and the love which flavored every action she took.  In June 2009, Grand Duchess Maria Teresa of Luxembourg visited Burundi, stopping to see Maison Shalom for herself.  Impressed, she invited Maggie to Luxembourg in October 2011 for a photo exhibition of the Maison Shalom project and has subsequently proffered additional support.  In November of 2011 Kofi Annan gave her the Prize for Conflict Resolution.  And on April 24, 2016, Maggie was awarded 1.1 million dollars through the Aurora Prize for Awakening Humanity, an award given in memory of the Armenian genocide and presented by Humanitarian George Clooney.  Other awards have followed.