Saturday, July 28, 2012
He held the sign slightly askew. It read: Jesus Saves The Hungry. Please help. As I drove by, he danced lightly back and forth on the sidewalk as if he had to pee, a disheveled Mr. Bojangles with a painful smile across his face like a stained crease.
Somewhere deep inside my tired heart, I heard the music, but then it was gone and all I could think about was will Jesus save my parents?
I didn't hold my breath and I wasn't angry or resentful. I only drove back from the store to my parents' sweet little home here in Oregon, to continue to figure it all out with my sister.
Our father is dying, the surreality of that painfully clear now that we're here, his body shifting and slipping away to cancer like a Dali painting sitting out in the hot sun. The chemotherapy is most likely to be discontinued, with hospice to be brought in. Our mother, chronically ill with endless pain for decades, is desperately fearful she'll lose him soon; we all are. Time is that selfish friend who prefers to hang with the fun kids, not the sick or the old or the misfits. But at least our parents renewed their marriage vows two weeks ago, which is something they wanted to do for the last few years.
Of all the emotional dysfunction that can plague even the best of families, ours has thankfully fallen away for now like chunks of ice from a melting glacier, the global warming of our hearts uniting a family that once was: Mom, Dad, Sister and Brother.
When we were scared as children, they held us close. When we were sick, they cleaned us up and told us they loved us, that it would all be okay. Now our folks are the ones who are scared and sick, and so we reciprocate with love and respect. Our children will hopefully do the same for us, just as their children will do the same for them.
This is why the Mama and I made the decision last year and this year to visit family with Beatrice and Bryce, to immerse them in our collective stories, of past and present, from my family in the West to the Mama's on the Mississippi, and as many other visits in between we could and can still muster, "God willing and the creek don't rise" as my father always says.
My girls aren't here with me now. I miss them and the Mama terribly. I miss holding them close and telling them I love them.
But right now I must hold my parents close and tell them everything will be okay. Jesus saves the hungry, Mom. We're here to help.
Mr. Bojangles, dance.
"The measure of a life is a measure of love and respect -- so hard to earn, so easily burned. In the fullness of time, a garden to nurture and protect. The treasure of a life is a measure of love and respect -- the way you live, the gifts that you give. And the fullness of time is the only return that you expect."
Saturday, July 7, 2012
I woke to crying. From a distance. Focus. In the other room. The girls' room. The clock next to my bed glowed 1:00 a.m. red.
More crying. I rose quickly and travelled the hallway in one bound. I entered the room and there she stood between two worlds -- her little bed and her big bed -- seemingly half asleep. As soon as she saw me she dove back into the big bed, curled up with her fuzzy and thumb in mouth ("fuzzy" is her small silky pink security blanket).
I sat with her for a while, rubbed her arm and told her I loved her. She sighed and then fell back asleep.
Such is a little life traversing the path from toddler-dom to little girl. As Beatrice nears her fourth birthday, a little less than three months away, the past six months have been quite transformative for her. She's catching up with her speech and processing delays; preschool, speech therapy and occupational therapy have really paid off. She's talking tons like sweet little girls do, talking quite loudly actually since she's been encouraged to express herself, going potty on the potty (big parental win), and starting to sleep more and more in her big girl bed.
Little Miss Independence, still thankfully light years from teenage-land and adulthood, but moving beyond toddler-dom for sure. As her synapses continue to shape and shift, her awareness expands magically to a level I can't even remember having, and wish I still had. From bugs to blue sky to Bryce, the world around her has come tangibly alive with sights, smells, sounds, tastes and touches.
Yes, from bugs to blue sky to Bryce -- her trusty Lil' Sidekick Shadow who's right behind her and is less than two months from two years. Bryce, the shorter supernova who's not afraid of much, unless Beatrice shrieks and scares her. Bryce, the baby-to-toddler-dom Braveheart charging ahead in everything she does, dragging her yellow blanket behind her like Linus from Peanuts. When she takes off in a playful run, she kind of pumps her arms and rotates her shoulders with a sly smile. No speech delays here; this kid's already stringing words together like hot popcorn on Christmas morning. Not quite sentences, but tasty strings of words nonetheless. And she's already modeling sitting on the potty. Mercy me.
Even more magically expanding awareness -- that now floods into the backyard, the one we didn't use much prior to kids that's now become one of many stomping and romping grounds keeping us all active year round. We just bought a new chair swing and the girls love it. Daddy can still put stuff together and that's a good thing, because these girls are gonna keep the Mama and me young and spry.
Little Miss Independence and her trusty Lil' Sidekick Shadow, running rampant through our summertime hearts.
Who says dashing naked through sprinklers is old school? We sure didn't.
Sunday, July 1, 2012
All these things the Mama and I witness within the love between two sisters, our daughters, the B's. The elder B will be four years old soon and the younger B will be two soon. Extraordinary girls who will hopefully become extraordinary women someday, women who will have each other's backs, as well as other women (and men), in a world that still defines women as subpar by a subset of their demeaning male counterparts.
I'm not just talking about economic, political and religious inequality for women, and all in between. I'm also talking about blatant, hateful violence against women.
The statistics are staggering. The United Nations estimates that 1 billion women will be raped and sexually brutalized this year, often as a consequence of war. Humanity still isn't all that humane when it comes to women, the mothers of our children, and anyone else we don't like or want on our block.
Thankfully there are groups like the League of Extraordinary Women -- an "interconnected group of executives, philanthropists, entrepreneurs, artists, government officials, and academics is formulating groundbreaking initiatives and hacking long-outdated aid models by tapping new thinking and a growing data set that suggests that investing in girls and women will create measurable economic benefits for all."
All over the world, mind you. According to a Fast Company article about the League, Multiple studies over the past decade indicate that the facts are unquestionably on their side: If you train a woman in a particular skill and give her a microloan, or a way to build up some savings, she is more likely than a man to use her income to educate and care for her family and invest in the community.
More likely than a man. Hey, I'm all about making money and being successful and giving back -- but a woman more likely than a man, baby. Read it, learn from it and share the benefits.
Closer to business home for me, there are the Women of HR -- those savvy HR industry movers and schoolers and sharp business minds who I admire tremendously. (Don't worry guys, there's plenty of you I dig professionally as well.) There's also a huge contingent of amazing women movers and schoolers at TalentCulture and #TChat, the weekly Twitter chat about the world of work, co-founded by me and my friend and mentor, Meghan M. Biro.
And as I've written about before, there's the Corporate Alliance to End Partner Violence, headed up by my friend Kim Wells. The Corporate Alliance to End Partner Violence is a leading force in the fight against domestic violence and is the only national organization of its kind founded by business leaders and focused on the workplace.
In the end, as in the beginning, the truest way to instill positive change and impact in the world at large and the world of work, to increase civility and equality while reducing the abuse and violence against women and men alike, all starts at home with the League of Extraordinary B-hives.
You, the parents and your children.