Former columnist for the Los Angeles Post Examiner, the Baltimore Post Examiner, and Gatehouse News Service

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Summer Vacation Looms

Well, my 7th grade son has two more days of school left until summer vacation (or 10.5 hours, as he will quickly point out), and I am looking forward to having him home.  The schedule relaxes, the weather turns hot and humid - hopefully - and lots of things on our family ferris wheel of obligations get put on pause. 

It's kind of bittersweet for me this summer, because I know this landscape; I have been here before, with my older sons.  The other night I called my son home (on cell phone here in the future, rather than by voice or wall phone) and soon I saw him rounding the corner on his bike, a bike that is now too small for his wildly growing limbs - with his baseball bat balanced across his handlebars, his baseball glove tucked under one arm, his attention wandering from yard to yard as he passed by.  Before my son, enjoying this slow ramble home, was lost behind a tree, I took a mental picture of him now.  Wild young, and perfect...and to me, he always will be.

Soon, he will change, and that's the way it should be, I know.  I'll turn around and he'll be driving, and out with friends all the time, and not here so much.  So this summer, I will be waiting for any time he has just to "hang," and I'll focus on not focusing on things, and just let the summer roll out like a carpet of time that I can only use once, and then must roll back up and store away in my memory, just an image of the real thing that I'll wish I could re-claim.

Thirteen is a great age; before the pressure and awarenesses of adulthood, and after the restrictions of being younger than thirteen.  You can ride your old bike around the neighborhood at dusk, thinking about stuff, or meet the guys at the field for some batting at the cages.

Let the summer rip, honey.  I'll be home waiting, at my loom of being your mom, making us a carpet for later.

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Bragging Rights...this is my dad

I am very proud of my dad, who has worked tirelessly for many, many years to serve the poorest of the poor throughout the world, and give them a voice at the upper levels of government.  Enjoying a distinguished career in leadership roles directing federal and then international aid, and also serving as a Deputy Secretary of State under George Schultz, he was head of the U.S. State Dept.'s Refugee Affairs, and then Director-General of IOM for 10 years, where he lived in Geneva with my mother.  He still works tirelessly on multiple causes, all to benefit others.  The best part?  He's always been THE BEST DAD EVER.  Here are a few links:

http://www.usaim.org/page35.php
Jim Purcell's Bio

http://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/cholera-aside-haitians-stuck-in-camps-suffer-as-well/2012/06/02/gJQAvqLl9U_story.html
Jim Purcell's Letter to Washington Post

Love you, Dad! :-)


Selfless Swimming to the Object of our Affection

    It is interesting the way in which water plays a huge role in Christianity.  We are baptised with water, water and blood came out of Jesus' side when he was pierced after death on the cross, some of the Apostles were fisherman, Jesus turned water into wine...the list goes on and on.  Today, I was realizing the ways in which water has played a role in my own life, and I vividly remembered an especially meaningful personal example.

This is a story about tubing, and rescue, and faith.  Several years back, my husband, my youngest son who was about six, and I were visiting some close friends at their summer home on New Hampshire's Lake Winnapasaukee, and our friends suggested a ride in their boat, and some tubing (pulling a large inflatable tube at high speeds behind the boat, with the tuber (victim) riding on top of the tube.)  We three readily agreed, and off we went, four adults, four kids, and one giant honker of a tube.  As we headed out towards the middle of the lake, I was comforted by one of the children's words - "my Gigi (grandmother) loves tubing!"

Now, I'm not sure what I did to our friend Jeff, but it must have been bad.  Because when I clambered atop the tube, after all the kids had made it look easy, list of hand signals reeling throug my brain (thumbs-up, go faster, thumbs-down, slower, hand across neck - stop), Jeff had a grin on his face and apparently no good in his heart.  He started me out slowly enough (just getting me into a false state of relaxation), but then as we circled, tighter and tighter, I started hitting waves.  At first they were fun "bouncy" waves that frankly made me look cool to my son and husband, and made me feel very good about myself in general; but soon the waves Jeff was creating was so fast and high that I began to worry.  Releasing one hand from it's death-grip on the tube handle, I grinned falsely (everything is fine!!  maybe a little slower just to re-position my bathing suit...so a quick THUMBS DOWN!  See my hand, Jeff?  My thumb is definitely DOWN!!))  Jeff smiled.  I didn't like his smile at all from the boat.  He gunned the boat's motor, and suddenly I was careening all over the tube, hands weakening, tube raising farther and farther up off the water with every crash into a wave.  (If you've seen the movie The Perfect Storm and it's awesome visual effects, you'll know what I mean; I was Mark Wahlberg on the bow of the ship as they crashed into wave after wave.  He drowned, eventually.)  Suddenly my hand gave, and I had to let go.  I was then sailing in mid-air, off the safety of the tube and into the lake.

When your head hits the water at that speed, it feels like it's hitting concrete, and for a moment, underwater, I was stunned.  Then, as I popped to the surface, anxious to give the thumbs-up so that my son wouldn't worry, I saw a flash of yellow in the water.  It was my little boy's life preserver bobbing in the distance; he had jumped into the water to save me - even though he was a very unsure swimmer, and the lake must have looked very big to him. He dog-paddled towards me, craning his neck to keep his head up, and spitting out water.  I swam towards him quickly, moved by his love and the enormity of his selflessness in jumping in.  And he must have had so much selfless love in his heart to forget his own safety, to reach out for his mom, whom he thought was in danger.

This morning in the 21st chapter of Acts, I was reading about Jesus revealing himself to the disciples after his physical death on the cross.  The disciples were fishing in the sea of Tiberias, and Jesus, whom they were not yet recongnising as His risen Self, was awaiting them on the shore. Verses 7-8 read: When Simon Peter heard it was the Lord, he tucked in his garment, for he was lightly clad, and jumped into the sea."  He could not wait for the boat to get to shore, his love was so great.

James, I am still amazed at your gesture.  And Jeff, I'll get you...you can move to India, but some day, I'll get you...

Peace be with anyone who reads this, and have an amazing week!