30 April 2011

A Day of Remembrance

Recently my brother had the opportunity to meet and hear the daughters of Shoah survivors Joseph and Rebecca Bau speak. He posted about in on Facebook. Like many things I see and read through the course of an otherwise average day, it started me thinking.

It wasn't long before I found myself at the Yad Vashem website. I discovered that at sunset tomorrow, May the first, begins the annual "Day of Remembrance" for victims and heroes of this black and frightening time in human history. There was born in me a need to remember, speak, and encourage others to do the same.

I want to make it clear that I use the Hebrew word Shoah (meaning calamity) out of respect. Up until this week I was totally unaware that one definition of holocaust is "a burnt offering or an offering to God". I think we can agree that there was nothing holy about what happened.

At this time there are an estimated 350,000 survivors left. There are fewer than 2 million American Vets who saw combat in World War II and of course not all of those were in Europe. We are quickly approaching a time when there will be no one left to give our children first hand testimony of how deep and wide that advanced form of bullying called persecution can cut.

Victims of Nazi persecution included not just European Jews, but gypsies, slavs, the mentally ill and disabled, the physically disabled, homosexuals, transexuals, political opponents, religious dissidents, and those who in their humanity reached out to offer aid and succor. Essentially anyone who didn't fit the ideal or wouldn't play by their twisted rules.

Having grown up in a gentile home where respect for other cultures was a given, and curiosity about them was encouraged, I spent years trying to wrap my mind around the enormity of this madness. I've given up trying to understand and now have only heartache and a feeling of loss. How can I feel a sense of loss for people I never knew, who died more than twenty years before Iwas born? Because I am human, because I wonder about their "might have beens", and because I fear. I fear that with the passage of time comes a buffering, a numbing, and finally a forgetting that will lead humanity into dangerous waters.

My hope for each of you is that you could find within yourself the strength, courage and humanity to speak up in such a situation and say "Not here. Not now." That we would each be able to reach beyond our small abilities and make a difference.

I want to challenge each of you to take time to join in this day of remembrance. If you have children I want to encourage you to speak to them about what happened. Make sure they understand how much hate can devour. Help them to learn to love and appreciate their fellow man. Because...
                              "those who forget the past are doomed to repeat it"

16 April 2011

I Fail at Blogging

Well sort of. I think about it. I frequently write whole posts in my head. I sometimes even manage to log into blogspot. It's the actual publishing of the post that stops me dead in my tracks. Maybe it's because I know very few people read it. Really though, it's probably because I'm afraid someone will read it.

Most of what I write is extremely personal and emotion driven. There is a part of me that needs to get it out. To find that cathartic place occupied by the written emotion, shared openly and freely. Once that enchanted land is found, it can be a wonderful place. Like taking a deep cleansing breath after swimming underwater. Getting there, however is really scary.

Will they like what I wrote? Maybe not, but not everything I write will necessarily be about pleasing someone. In fact most of it won't. It will be about the need for self expression.

Will they think I'm stupid? Maybe. Everyone has said (or written) something that other find silly. Some of the things I write are intentionally humorous. You may or may not get my jokes, most of them are dry, arid in fact.

What if (horrors) someone sends a hateful comment? Will I be able to defend my position? I've decided that for most things it doesn't matter.

So what is this blog about? It's about whatever I feel a need to write about. It's about whatever is consuming my thought processes at the moment.

Read it if you want, or don't. Totally your call.

04 February 2011

Cabin Fever

Wow! Monday night and Tuesday we had a record snowfall here. Fourteen to eighteen inches. More where it's drifted. Now, I realize that's small potatoes for some places. Around here though it's a blizzard. Normally when we get snow it isn't anything that keeps most of us from going to work. At least not if you haven't forgotten how to drive in the snow since the last storm. This time even the city offices have been closed. All week. We tend to get four or five days worth of groceries in "just in case". Well, this time it went beyond our preparations. Yesterday I surveyed the state of the dog food and groceries. The Mr and I could have survived on fried potatoes for a couple of days, but the pups would definitely not be happy. I hadn't shoveled so much as a spade of snow up to that point. So out the door I went in 2 coats, a hat, gloves, sunglasses, boots and my most worn out holey sweatpants. It took about an hour and a half, but I had the drive gate open and enough cleared behind the truck so I could power out. Heaven forbid something turn the corner about the time I cleared the fence line. Stopping was not going to be an option. As it turned out I shouldn't have bothered. One of the nephews came and got me about noon today. Groceries are once again stocked and the pups had no reason for complaint. Inactivity doesn't sit well with me. After three days of cleaning and working puzzles, I found myself watching infomercials yesterday. Oh, to what depths we sink. We live very near work but up till today I've never managed to pick up a signal from the router. After I got back from the store, put away groceries and fed the dogs. I walked to the office and adjusted the router to yet another, higher position. Success!! Now if we don't open again till Monday, the Mr can peruse Craigslist ads for things we don't need and he doesn't really want. And I can play farkle and keep up with all the goings on with facebook. Stay safe, stay warm and live to tell your grandchildren about Snowmageddon: The Tulsa Edition my friends.

29 January 2011

A Big Man

I recently spoke to a young friend who was in the midst motherly anger and hurt. She and her children were visiting a relative (male) who informed her that her 10 year old wasn't "tough enough". The reasons? He has a soft heart, likes hugs, and will gladly occupy your lap for a season. This turned into a diatribe, in full hearing of the child, who was doing his best to hold back his tears. Of course she was angry. First of all, what mother doesn't want their children to love hugs, and cuddles. To launch into this attack in front of the child only made it that much worse. No kid deserves to be kicked in the gut that way. Especially by someone they should be able to look up to and admire. My husband generally likes the person who was complaining about the child. He was confused and disheartened by the other man's attitude. As far as the Mr is concerned there is nothing below par about this child. He enjoys his company and looks forward to him being around. All of this got me thinking and remembering. When this child was a toddler he enjoyed following my Dad around the house. Mom had passed away and Dad would spend the night with us from time to time. The little one would be with me when his parent's shifts overlapped. He thought it was his job to make sure Dad knew when dinner was ready. If Dad wasn't there, he wanted to know why. My father was accomplished at many types of things. Among other things Dad rebuilt one private plane, built another from the ground up and aquired an experimental license for it. From the first sign of fall his woodshop turned into a northpole annex. Just the type of guy you would expect to most admire "men's men". Someone who would think soft-spoken men were not up to par. Not so. One of the men my father most admired was all of 5' 3". Bart was soft spoken, kind and always ready with a smile and hug. Bart was not a pushover, as his children will attest. Certain things were expected, but a look or quiet word from him was usually sufficient to ensure behaviors were modified. When their youngest child was in high school Bart and Jean accepted the responsibility of fostering an infant and toddler for a time. Bathing the babies was one of his joys. A time to relax and wonder at the resilience and happiness of a child who is warm, safe and loved. It wasn't unusual to find Bart in posession of someone's infant at church. Walking to and fro softly crooning. A voice for the ages that only a few were priveleged to know because instead of pursuing music he became a physical therapist. My father told us on many occasions that there are things other than size and strength that make a "big man". Kindness, humor and love were more important. As far as Dad was concerned Bart was one of the "biggest" men he knew. For me there will always be another quality that makes a big man. That is the ability to recognize another.