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Archive for the ‘Communication’ Category

You’ve no idea what a technophobe I am,

said my friend Pat, even as she in the next breath

announced herself the new owner of an iPad2.

So it’s official: everyone’s buying

the next next thing, and I am not. (more…)

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During World War II, over 250,000 young men learned to read in Special Training Units in the Army. One of the resources used to teach reading was a newspaper, Our War, which was published monthly from June 1942 through September 1945. Each issue of Our War included a cartoon strip about Private Pete and his buddy, Daffy. The February, 1944 issue discussed Valentine’s Day. It has a message pertinent to today’s times and circumstances. Following is a synopsis of the strip:

Our War, February 1944, Private Pete: Cupid Goes to War

The strip opens with a panel showing Private Pete and his buddy Daffy standing outside the Post Exchange.

Daffy says, “Pete, I think I’ll buy some valentines, will you help me?”  Pete says, “Well!! What’s up? Who is he?”

Daffy: “ I need one for Mary Lou. And that girl I met at the U. S.O. dance. And one for your mother, too.”

Later, Pete and Daffy get back to the Day Room where they see Joe making some valentines. Joe draws a picture of Cupid and Daffy says, “What’s cupid doing with the bow and arrow?” Pete says, “He shoots people full of love with his arrows.”

On Valentine’s Day, Pete and Daffy got a valentine from Pete’s Mom which said:

“Dear Pete and Daffy: Today we want to show our love for you, as you are showing your love for your Country. Think of us while you are eating my cookies and the fudge Sis made for you. – Mom”

Pete says: “Now that we’ve read Mom’s letter, how about reading yours from Mary Lou?”

Mary Lou’s valentine said:“Here’s taffy for Daffy on Valentine’s Day. How much we all love him is too hard to say. – Mary Lou”

Then Daffy opens a valentine with a picture of Cupid wearing a soldier’s uniform and holding a gun. Pete says, “Cupid does a lot for our country, too.” And Daffy replies, “ I sure am glad Cupid’s in the Army now.”

Send a Valentine to those in harm’s way serving our Nation in distant lands today!

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When I was 42, I realized that I had devoted the first half of my life to making attachments and the rest would be spent making separations. A bleak, if over-simplified observation, but mostly true nonetheless. My husband, three children, and I had moved across the country, tearing ourselves for the first time from family, friends, and the city of our birth. The wound was jagged and took a long time to heal. Especially for me. Our children were in 7th, 11th, and 12th grades respectively and it was a harsh break.

When your children bleed, you hemorrhage.

At first I thought, “How could I not have known how hard this would be?” At second I thought, “I can’t let this ruin the family. We’ve got to make it work.”

There was no email, Facebook, texting, tweeting, or Skype, and flying across country was still kind of a big deal. Even long distance calling required some serious thought. So I felt really isolated out there in Berkeley where I didn’t know the ropes: how to be a parent during the wild counter-culture seventies, living in the heart of hippie-land. Those were the minuses.

Here are the pluses. My husband kept telling me that our kids are good, solid kids with strong values. They’ll find their way. We had been all over the world with our children; their comfort zones were very broad.

Oh! And then we moved to Milwaukee. By then, though, the kids were in college.

Fast forward to now. In the interim, our children gained strength, learned to view the world from a wide perspective, found friends among disparate people, settled in England, Boston, and California (and I in Philadelphia and Sarasota), so our family spans 6000 miles. Yet we are very much in touch. This includes the seven now adult grandchildren who are very good friends. This past October seven grandchildren plus one “honorary” grandchild surprised me on my 80th birthday by gathering with the rest of the family (except for one) in Boston and Maine. The grandchildren arrived from London, Hamburg, Glasgow, New York, San Francisco, St. Louis, and Oregon. Talk about mobile lives!

How did these families that started out 6000 miles apart stay together? It took work. Frequent visits were a priority. We motor tripped with the grandchildren. My children weren’t afraid to put their children on planes when they were quite small so we could spend lots of time together and really get to know each other. We also added email, Skype, and other technology as it came along, which surely makes keeping in touch much easier.

We also held yearly family reunions –at the Jersey shore when the grandchildren were little, and later in Northern California, Lake Tahoe, Great Barrington, Maine, South Africa, Italy. Don’t think I spent these vacations cooking and cleaning for all these people! Two of the six adult children took turns cooking, shopping, and cleanup on an assigned day and were free on the other days. Pairs took turns minding the children all day, leaving everyone else free from responsibility on the days they weren’t in charge. The pair-in-charge often planned a project: making kites, tie-dying tee shirts, scavenger hunts. Of course we’re all adults now and we don’t put schedules on the fridge anymore. But we still cherish the time we spend together.

So about these separations during the last half of my life. 6000 miles of separation from my children is not as painful as it used to be or as I anticipated it would be. I have been very surprised at how close I can remain to them even though the distance in miles is great. I have learned that geography is not destiny when it comes to those you love. The death of my husband, on the other hand, was as painful as I knew it would be. This is a bleak separation that time makes more palatable but the hole in the heart remains.

Is my life better or worse since I am now living squarely in a mobile family? I like that my children and grandchildren are people who are willing to look in the far corners of the world for their places and that they’re comfortable in many settings. I’m glad they didn’t feel constrained or obligated to stay close to home (as I did).  As for me, I have continued to live a life of my own that greatly satisfies, and I treasure my independence.  All things considered, I like the choices we, the family, have made.

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