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Growing Up

Monday, September 30, 2019

Make America Greta Again

"You are failing us. But the young people are starting to understand your betrayal. The eyes of all future generations are upon you. And if you choose to fail us, I say: We will never forgive you."
- Greta Thunberg speech to the United Nations Climate Action Summit (https://www.npr.org/2019/09/23/763452863/transcript-greta-thunbergs-speech-at-the-u-n-climate-action-summit)

Sixteen-year-old Greta Thunberg took the UN's Climate Action Summit by storm last week, delivering a scathing speech that dared to tell truth to power. Thunberg, who identifies as a person with Asperger's Syndrome, inspired tens of thousands of youth (and their affiliated adults) to participate in the world Climate Strike on Friday, September 20, and she is a role model and inspiration to all in the neurodiverse community. A friend of mine who has a daughter with Asperger's bought her girl a T-shirt with the caption "Make America Greta Again."

Thunberg inspires me while at the same time bringing my fears about climate change to the forefront of my mind, an uncomfortable place for them to be. I first learned about climate change during my Environmental Studies program at San Jose State, where I went to get a second BA and a California teaching credential. That was twenty year ago, and it chills me to now experience the temperature rises and extreme weather events that were predicted in 1999 (actually long before).  We have done nothing, really, to save our faltering planet for future generations, and I fear that young people will, in fact, never forgive us.

I agonized over the decision to have children twenty years ago and ultimately decided that the hope and purpose they inspire would be necessary for my positive interaction with the world. And still I feel torn about their futures - though their existence has  been an unadulterated good to me, what kind of future lies before them when I am gone? 

Thunberg is right - we must act to have the right to hope, we must push our local and national governments to move forward, we must change the bad actors in Washington and we must use our consumer power for good whenever possible. We must act, because everything hangs in the balance.


Monday, September 16, 2019

For What Will Be, Yes.

"For what has been, we thank you. For what will be, Yes."
-prayer of unknown origin

My brother John resurrected this childhood prayer when we were in Montana last weekend. We gathered around a festive table to celebrate my parents' fiftieth wedding anniversary and John began this simple grace. After the sign of the cross, this statement used to precede an individual thanks from each family member, proceeding from youngest to oldest. Unprepared, Michael and I hesitated a minute before we spoke, though Mom didn't falter. She thanked God for us, for those family members who couldn't be with us, and for her husband. My father cannot speak but he gave the sign for "I love you," after which we turned our food with constricted throats.

In this difficult time of transition, as we try to free Dad from worry and let him go - most assuredly to whatever heaven might exist - I cannot think of a more perfect prayer. For fifty good years of marriage, a pure example of selfless love for five children and thirteen grandchildren, God, we thank you. For what will be, we must try to say "yes."

The deep emotions were balanced by some quiet time outside in my father's beloved Montana. While Dad napped in the late mornings, my brothers and I took the stand-up paddleboards out on Flathead Lake. The scorching summer sun muted by autumn's haze, we glided over glassy shallows and peered at the fish and plants below. In one area, a pine tree had recently fallen and its boughs waved under gentle swells. In another small cove, an old dock had collapsed and we maneuvered between pointy remnants of its supporting beams.

The hidden landscapes made me think of the struggles and joys that lie beneath the tapestry of my parents' marriage. The struggles they shared, all the moves we made across country with their resulting changes, losses they suffered and joys celebrated together.  So much richness, so much vibrant life. So much to be thankful for, even as we struggle to say yes to things to come.

Thursday, September 5, 2019

A Good Job

I still miss my daughter with a slowly subsiding ache; the cats and I peer at each other in the shaded house and wonder if someone will come to rescue us from this unfamiliar situation. I tend not to follow little Blackjack when he hides in Aden's room, but I can at least step through the doorway without tears. It felt heroic to support Aden in her decision to stay at school through the long Labor Day weekend, I told her it was good to "put down roots" while inside a voice was shrieking, "come home!"

My neighbor and I exchanged notes on the subject of departing children. Bonnie said "Everyone tells you that you did a good job, and that's why they can leave successfully, but what if you didn't mean to do such a good job? Maybe I should have screwed up more along the way!"  The mix of emotions is wilder than a unicorn frappuccino. Aden is rocking her first two weeks, happy and engaged and meeting all the people. She's doing so much better than I did in my first two weeks that I am proud, amazed, and a teensy bit jealous.  I eagerly await her snapchats and stay up much later than I planned to take her calls.

My wheels are still spinning as I try to work out a job that I can do from home that will swell my pocketbook while not adding stress or fatigue to my life. I have to drive Daniel to activities most evenings when Rob's out of town, so early morning work is not ideal, work during school hours only is hard to come by, and my introverted tendencies make me reluctant to do anything with phones, customer service, marketing, or pitching myself. You can see the difficulty.  But I keep praying and hoping that the right thing will drop into my lap(top) at the right time. Have to keep the mental wheels turning productively so they don't stop or go off the rails worrying about things that are out of my control - like a college-age daughter.