Tuesday, June 26, 2012

It is with great sadness that I'm writing this blog entry for my mom. I am her daughter. On Tuesday June 12th, 2012 my mother lost her battle with cancer and passed away. I wanted to share the words with you that I spoke at her Memorial Service- so you would have the chance to know what a wonderful and gifted mother she was.

     "If I had to use one word to describe my mother it would be “unafraid.” She probably would have told you there were things she was afraid of. But to me she never acted like she was afraid of anything. My mother had confidence and I believe that confidence is just another form of courage.
     So when she called and told me her cancer came back she appeared to be unafraid. She didn’t tell me how big the tumor was or that this was a type of cancer that had no cure, just that she was going to have chemo and I should not worry about her, she would be fine.
    After we hung up the phone the first thing that popped into my mind was my chicken Wheezy. Never have I had a chicken who seemed so unafraid of people from the minute I took her out of the shipping box. Just a year ago my mom had sat with me as we both watched in amazement as 3 day old Wheezy hopped out of her cage and right into my lap. Then I gave her to my mom to hold of course. I’m not sure if my mom really loved chickens, but since I loved them she was determined to share in the experience, that’s just how she was.
     Over the next couple of weeks Wheezy would run down the hallway and book around my kitchen. And then she would fly up and sit on my shoulder. But true to her chicken nature when I put her outside with the flock she ignored me and went about the business of being an aloof teenage chicken. Baby chickens grow up so fast. Then that winter Wheezy got sick. I brought her into the house, hoping she would get better with some TLC. I spent the day with her just like when she was a baby, she sat on my lap as I stroked her little feathered head. And then the next morning she died. But I was so thankful I had one more day with her. It felt like such a gift.
     So when my mom got sick I was determined to have one more day with her before the Chemo changed her. As soon as I suggested it, Mom was on it. Called me back in an hour, her chemo would start on Tuesday, so we should spend the day together on Monday, April 16th. She wanted to go to Mystic Seaport. I didn’t know why she wanted to go there because we never went there when I was a kid. I didn’t remember that she loved boats, but she wanted to go so I was game.
    After we got there we climbed up on a horse-drawn wagon and took a tour. And then she told me all about coming here when she was a kid, with her mom. I should have known that this experience was not to be a nostalgic rerun, but a learning experience instead. Then after the ride we walked around a bit, sat in the church that was her favorite building and then took a look inside the planetarium. We gazed up at the high ceilings and admired the stars until a voice interrupted us.
     “Have you ever been to a planetarium before?” he asked.
     “Yes,” I told him. “When I was little my mother took me everywhere.” And then Mom and I lost it, crying and hugging each other in the shadow of this poor man who had no clue what he had said to evoke such emotion. And then we pulled ourselves together and went and had lobster for lunch, my mom’s favorite and just what she wanted.
    Thank you for our day Mom-but most of all, thank you for empowering me by example to never be afraid to stand up for myself or the people and animals that I love."

Wednesday, May 30, 2012


I happened to tune in on Dr. Phil as couple days ago. He was interviewing men who batter their wives. One said he would do “anything” to get his wife back and was getting counseling. Dr. Phil encouraged him to this and more. The other man, as I remember, was not seeking therapy.

The truth is that counseling, in general usually doesn’t help these guys because they often use it to pretend they want to change their ways or the courts order them to do it. Another problem is that they often manipulate, lie, and deceive the counselor inexperienced in Domestic Violence. They also may punish their partner for saying things during sessions that “make them look bad,” according to battered women I’ve known and research I’ve read.

Dr. Phil is an excellent counselor in many ways, but I hope he was being diplomatic in accepting one of the men’s determination to “change” through counseling. I’ll give him the benefit of the doubt, however, because he’s not naive.

Most men who batter have extremely poor self-esteem, are excellent actors, and don’t want to change. They need to feel superior to those they victimize.  Another problem is that many of them have OCD so they are truly obsessed with controlling their partners. Without medication and long-term counseling (entered into with honest intent), I don’t foresee much hope for the victims of men who go to counseling but don’t really want to change.

The only one in this couple who can change is the victim. She has to overcome tremendous fear and sometimes death threats in order to leave and to help her kids follow a different life path. I give every single woman who manages to escape this life style only accolades and admiration.

I give their torturers nothing.

Sunday, May 27, 2012


My son was in Iraq for almost a year. I woke up every day wondering if he was alive. I’d check my email, but when he was on missions he didn’t email me so we’d have a couple scary days sometimes.

He came home with some emotional scars, but seemingly intact in body and purpose. He didn’t regret serving in Iraq though the high temps and dust storms, combined with carrying at least fifty pounds of  supplies on his back, plus his gun, etc. on missions made his life miserable at times.

I am so grateful he made it through and wish only love, prayers, and hope for the moms, dads, and families whose sons and daughters didn’t make it home from war or who are still serving and still in danger. 

Memorial Day is tomorrow, but we should remember our soldiers who serve or have served our country every day for months, for years, or until the end of their lives every single day.

Like battered women, they didn’t cause the problem, but they must live with it.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012


I’m looking at the large, lovely bruise on my arm from a blood draw gone wrong and thanking God I’m not a battered woman.

So many of them have to hide or lie about the bruises, abrasions, stitches, broken bones, and fear imposed on them by their batterer. They use makeup, long sleeves, good acting ability, whatever they can, adding stress to already having to live with someone who thinks he has the right to expect perfection.  

And the right to punish imperfection.

Wish we could put these guys to sleep and cover them with all kinds of marks including a tattoo that says “Sadist” or “Stupid” on their neck or somewhere it cannot be hidden and is very difficult to joke about or explain away.

I’d say it’s time they felt uncomfortable.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Our ex-neighbors have a new home and have invited us to come see it next week. We’re happy to keep in touch with them and their kids—our “little friends” whom we love a lot. They enjoy visiting our daughter and son-in-law’s farm and the kids got to hold new baby chicks and feed the adult hens the last time they visited there.
So I expect only a good time when we get together. The kids are so used to us that misbehavior is rare and we all set limits when needed. One of the best parts of being with these friends, though is that we have few secrets among us. What they see is what they get, and v.v. We’ve gone through each other’s family crises over the years and worked things out, supported each other, and ended up closer.
I doubt this visit scenario plays out the same way when there’s domestic violence in one or both families.  The family that lives with control and violence has so many secrets, so many false “faces” to put on, and no doubt the batterer has already handed out his usual threats before a “public” visit.
As a result, the family usually makes few “outside” visits, not even with close relatives. There are many excuses, but few chances to experience real, honest relationships that can turn into relaxed, "real" ones.
How much these families lose in the process. How little their children learn about real life. These kids don’t know there’s no such thing as the “perfect” family. They're just told theirs must be.

Thursday, May 17, 2012


I don’t attend church regularly, but I try to lead a Christian life. Though our church is fairly small, it is full of wonderful volunteers of all ages who help with the zillions of programs we have, especially for kids, teens, and those who are elderly or sick. 

I got to wondering today about the churchgoer who’s a batterer, no matter what religion he “practices.” Many kids at the shelter tell me the family goes to church as a group with their father figure.

How does this man resolve his conflict about gaining control of his partner through violence and cruelty and being a “good” person? 

How does he explain the difference between the mental and physical cruelty he inflicts on his partner and the non-violence of his "faith"?

What does he think the kids who live with him understand about the difference between the way he treats them and the way he treats their mother?

What happens when his children get old enough to stand between him and their mother when her well-being or life is being threatened? 

Gosh, these guys must be soooo smart.

I can’t seem to reconcile any of the above and I know I’m not stupid. 

Monday, May 14, 2012

MOTHER'S DAY--the day after

I hope everyone had a nice Mother's Day. We did. Husband and kids cooked the meal and it was yummy.
Received lovely flowers from daughter and son-in-law. Cards with loving messages. My neighbor handed dh flowers and love notes from my "fake grandchild" whom I couldn't love more than I do.

Mother's Day should be a tribute to all we do every single day. There should be smiles, kisses, good food.

Not tension, wishes that good treatment on Mother's Day happened every day. A feeling that it's "all for show."

If this day wasn't about the mom, but about how wonderful? "Dad" is, something's wrong.

This isn't his day and he should treat Mom well every day.