Tuesday, April 28, 2015
My nephew just called me. His mother is my sister who is 4 years younger than I am. He was practically incoherent. His mother is back in the hospital.
About four weeks ago my nephew called to tell me she was in the hospital. She had been ill and was taking her medicine like she was supposed to. She seemed to be getting better.
Then suddenly she could not breathe. Her husband called an ambulance. She was in ICU for a week. She was unconscious for five days.
As soon as she was able to talk I called her instead of bothering my nephew yet again. She felt pretty good but was abnormally week.
She was not allowed out of bed without assistance. She had some extensive physical therapy ahead of her.
The worst thing was that they were not really certain about what happened.
After three weeks she was allowed to go home. She still had to do her physical therapy and otherwise take it easy but she was so happy to be home.
As I said earlier my nephew called today. My sister is back in the hospital. She has had a stroke.
He was having a hard time gathering his words together so I told him I would ask him some questions so all he would have to do was supply answers.
Was she awake? Yes. Can she speak? Yes but her speech is very slurred. Can she move? One side is showing some paralysis.
I then told him about my grandmother, his great-grandmother. She was about the same age as his mother when she had a stroke. She could not speak and she could not move. But her mind was working just fine. She saw and heard doctors telling people that she would probably never speak or walk again.
Grandma was furious! She told me that she laid there and thought to herself, "I'll Show them!"
When she came home from the hospital she was fine. She still tired easily as anyone just coming home from the hospital does. Her speech was just a little off but only those of us who knew her could tell. Her black hair now had a few streaks of gray that were not there before. And she could no longer pull hot pans from the oven with no potholders.
She did indeed show them. She was only in her early 60's and had a lot more to accomplish. And she did it too.
I think my nephew felt more optimistic after the story. (It is so important to have these stories in my head at times like this.) His mother was his whole life for so long. He has a sister that he did not know growing up. His father has never been in his life. He is seeing that his mother is not immortal and it is terrifying.
After I finished talking to my nephew I sat to absorb what I had heard. I have no doubt that my sister will make at least close to a full recovery. She is basically healthy and strong. She is only 63 so she is still fairly young. I really believe she will be fine.
I have already lost two brothers. One was 1 year younger and the other was 2 years younger than I. One was killed in war, the other died from heart failure. My youngest brother (who is only 52 years old) had a heart attack a couple of years ago.
Like children dying before their parents it is just wrong for younger siblings to die before the older ones.
Now I am not saying I want to die. I also do not say, "It should have been me." I am not a martyr.
But it is unnatural for the younger ones to go first. It upsets my sense of the way things should be.
I do believe my sister will be fine. I am right now in the throes of morbid thoughts. I guess there are times when you simply must say, "It is just wrong."
Friday, April 24, 2015
I lament when it is over in the fall. I wait anxiously all winter for it to come again. Then it is time again. Yay!
It begins in February. Spring training. The players report to camp to work off whatever rust they may have picked up over the winter. Of course they all stay in shape and some even improve themselves during the off months. But spring training is when they go to work for real.
After a couple of weeks of workouts teams begin playing games against each other. These games do not count for the real season but are designed to get the pitchers some work against batters and the batters work against real pitching. Some of those games are broadcast so we can watch.
Then Baseball Season starts. Opening Day in Detroit is almost a holiday. Comerica Park is always packed. People who are really brave skip school or call in sick to work to be able to attend if they can manage to get tickets. They sell out early.
I am a Tigers fan. I feel we have the best team and the nicest players. I know it is a prejudice but there you are.
Miguel Cabrera is recognized as the best hitter in baseball. He is like a little boy and has so much fun that you cannot help but smile when he is playing.
Justin Verlander and David Price are both Cy Young Award winners. David Price pitched for another team when he won his award. However we had Max Scherzer who left us and is now playing for another team.
Justin Verlander and Miguel Cabrera combined to win the American League Most Valuable Player 3 years in a row.
We have one of the best designated hitters in baseball. Our fielders are on top of the game. Our pitchers are doing a good job. Our hitting and base running are better than I hoped for this year.
As I write this we are the team with the highest percentage of wins versus losses. I am sure that will not stand all year but I can hope.
The main thing is that the season has started. Because I no longer live near Detroit I pay an astronomical fee to be able to receive the games on television. It is worth it.
So in the summer you will probably find me in front of the television screaming at the ball game. Go Tigers!
Tuesday, April 21, 2015
Spring is here. Know how I can tell? The helicopters are flying.
My mother told us when we were little that the seeds from maple trees are helicopters. Then to demonstrate she tossed one into the air. It floated back to the ground spinning all the way. The tail on the seed looked for all the world like the blades of a helicopter.
So I have shown every child I know the helicopters in the spring. The drier they are the better they spin so it is still a little early for them to whirl like they should.
It is great fun to go into the yard on a nice warm day and toss them into the air. You can do one at a time or for a real experience take a handful and throw them up. You can watch a whole fleet of helicopters land in your yard.
My granddaughter took two hands full of the seeds to the second floor of the house. She tossed them out of the bedroom window. They caught a little updraft of air and rose blissfully up before lazily whirling gently to the ground. It was glorious.
Squirrels like these seeds to eat too. Imagine my amazement to open my front door to see a fat little squirrel having breakfast eating my helicopters. Even when I opened the door it just sat there munching away.
So now we know that spring is truly here.
Friday, April 17, 2015
As you know my son is in prison. As a quick update his state charges no longer apply and his federal appeal is moving forward as expected.
He recently sent me a couple of letters that I found amusing. He said I could share them with you. As always no names will be used. If I need to change anything I will let you know that I changed it.
They tried to move a child molester in my 3 man "cube". I told him he could stay the first night but had to find another place to stay the next morning!
Well the next morning I go to work. I come back at lunch time and all his stuff is still there!
So I take his blankets and sheets off his bed and put them on his locker.
I go back to work and come back at 3:00 PM. His stuff is still there!
So I push his locker out in the hall and put all his stuff in a couple of bags and put it on and beside his locker.
He waits until about 15 minutes before the 4:00 PM mandatory count and comes to the cube. I tell him he doesn't live here any more!!
He said he tried to get moved but they wouldn't move him. I said trying and doing are two different things!! Then I told him if he tried to come into the cube I was going to knock him out!!!
He left and went straight to the guards. Everyone was saying I'm crazy, they never saw anything like that before, and I'm going to the SHU "the hole". (Note from Emma: I believe SHU means Solitary Holding Unit)
I said I don't care, I'm ready to go to the SHU. I already packed all my stuff too.
I told everyone, "I will not live in the same cube as a baby raper lives!"
Well I was expecting to go to the SHU but at the end they just moved him and never even tried to talk to me.
This is so funny. I just put my other letter to you in the mail bos but I had to send you this.
I told you how I got rid of the Child Molester. Well I was a little rougher than I told you in the letter.
Well the counselor wasn't real happy with me. Everyone in the whole prison, even other housing units, were talking about what I did.
Well the child molester was a white guy and I made him admit what he was!
Well today I'm in the "white TV room" (everything is segregated "by choice" in federal prison) the other guy that shares my 3 man cube comes and tells me we are getting a new guy. He says he is a blck Muslim that has a pass for a bottom bunk so they are moving him to our cube.
Well I told everyone White, Black, Spanish, everyone that I WILL NOT LIVE WITH A CHILD MOLESTER! And I will check everyone's paperwork that lives in my cube!
In federal prison only whites can check white guys' paperwork, only blacks can check black guys' paperwork and so on.
Well this guy came and talked to my cube mate and when he found out I was the other guy in the room he wouldn't move in!
He told everyone that he was here on a gun charge but never let anyone see his paperwork!
Now all the black guys are telling him he has to get his paperwork!
He basically told on himself by not moving into my cube!
From Emma: As you can see life in prison is still primitive in many ways. I find the segregation appalling as does my son. The prisoners tend to police themselves which means that you must be strong to survive. Of course the guards are there too but if I may be so irreverent as to compare it to a playground where children have to decide what behavior is acceptable parents only watch to see that violence is not tolerated. Guards simply are there to keep things from getting out of hand.
Tuesday, April 14, 2015
I wish you could have known my father. You would have liked him. Everybody did.
He was my father but he was more than just the man who helped my mother give birth to me. He was my dad but he was more than the man who helped to raise me and saw to my needs. He was my daddy.
I know that it sounds strange to hear a woman of my age refer to her father as Daddy. It is my special name for the special man in my life.
From my first memories of Daddy I could see that people were drawn to him. He was a charismatic man. He was so at ease with people and that made them feel at ease too.
Daddy could talk to anybody. He was not a conversation hog but he loved to talk. He liked the interaction with others. It was one of the things my mother admired about him.
Daddy had this lopsided smile. It looked a little rakish. What an old-fashioned word. But that describes it perfectly. Just a bit cocky and more than a bit friendly.
All of us inherited that lopsided smile. Most of our children did and so on.
Many of us have that gift of gab. Some even got a bit of the charisma.
I have a picture of him on the wall across from where I am sitting. He is looking at me with that lopsided smila and I feel the same comfort I did when he was alive.
Besides being so charismatic Daddy was strong. Physically strong. Mentally strong. Emotionally strong. We knew we could rely on him.
So did the people who worked for him. Daddy was greatly admired at work as well as at home.
It was a Good Friday when Daddy died. He was a strong healthy man. A sudden massive heart attack took him from us.
The men where he worked demanded the day of his funeral off so they could attend.
It was a gloriously beautiful day. They could have gone boating or had a barbeque. But every last one of them came to see my father one last time.
The funeral home had to borrow chairs from the church for extra seating. Even then there was not enough room for everyone inside. The procession to the cemetery was long.
Daddy felt deeply about honoring the dead. Memorial Day for instance was special for him. Veterans Day was special.
So he would have been proud of all the workers, family, neighbors, and friends who thought enough of him to say goodbye.
Daddy was the head of our whole family. We were happy that he was. My youngest son is fond of saying, "That is the reason that picture of him is hanging in every single house." It is true. We all have at least one.
I wish you could have known Daddy. You would have liked him. Everybody did.
Friday, April 10, 2015
Tomorrow will be your last day on earth. Suppose you just found out that your time was at an end. How would you spend that final day?
I saw a talk show the other day. Someone had written a book about what he would like to do on his final day.
I began to think seriously about what I would do.
There are always those days when you think, "If I only had one more day I would eat the most expensive, the most exotic meal I could think of." Maybe I would do one of those many things I said I would do but never did. Maybe I would go shopping and buy whatever I wanted. Perhaps I would go see every movie showing in the theater. The possibilities are really only limited by my own yearnings.
I also used to say that if I knew the "big bomb" was on it's way I would hope to be right where it hit. That way death would be instant.
The only thing I would ask is that I have enough time to gather my children into a big hug and tell them how much I love them before that bomb hit.
I know putting my children with me where the bomb was going to land sounds selfish. I have more altruistic motives. Anywhere close to that point would cause so much damage. Death might not be instant. I do not want my children to suffer. If they are with me I know they would not.
I know it is morbid. But I am fairly certain it will never happen.It is a worst case sort of thing.
Back to the original question. What would I want to do on my final day?
It would be a pleasant day. The sun would be shining but it would not be too warm. There would be a few fluffy clouds in the sky and a gentle breeze... just enough to move the air. The grass would be green and the flowers plentiful.
My whole family would be there. My children, their spouses, my grandchildren, their spouses, and my great-grandchildren. Any other family member would be welcome and enjoyed but those are the ones I definitely would wish for.
There would be food and drink. None of us drink much in the way of alcohol so most of the drinks would be softer. And cool with ice in them.
On the menu would be fried chicken, potato salad, garden salad, and various desserts. All things that can be eaten whenever one wants to go fill a plate or just grab a drumstick.
We would spend the day just enjoying the company. Maybe a few lawn games to be played. Maybe the children (both young and old) can run through the sprinkler. Maybe just sitting in a rocker and remembering.
The dog would love the attention from all the children. She would run and jump as they cheerfully and laughingly chased them.
All in all it would just be a relaxing loving day.
Tuesday, April 7, 2015
Easter has just passed. I began thinking about what a wonderful life I have lived.
I grew up in a time of plenty in the United States. The Cold War was something they talked about on the news but was far removed from me. After World War II and the Korean War the worl was pretty much at peace.
Where I lived, at least, everyone was friendly and helpful to neighbors. Children could run and play anywhere in town without having to worry about violence.
Adults who were near to where we played watched out for us. If we were hurt it was taken care of and we were sent home. If we fought the adults put a stop to it immediately.
Children knew to respect others both young and old. We knew to respect property and belongings.
Our days were carefree. Of course we had chores to do. But once they were done we had the rest of the day to explore and play whatever came to us at the time.
Easter came at the beginning of warm weather. Warm weather meant fewer clothes and more ease of motion. Baseball games were a favorite thing to do. We played cowboys and Indians (which is politically incorrect now) or pirates hunting for treasure. Sometimes we were explorers looking for new land or hunters on the prowl for wild animals.
Speaking of animals our animals began having babies. It meant more responsibilities for my brothers because they had to feed them and clean up after them. We all got to hug them and pet them. Those soft fluffy little pets.
The feed store was one block from our house. It was right next to the jail and fire house.
Every year just before Easter the feed store gave away free chicks to each child who came in. It was a promotion to get the farmers in to buy their seeds and fertilizer instead of going to a bigger town nearby.
We went every year to pick up our ten little baby chickens. We carefully took them home to feed and raise. They were pets then.
When the chicks got a little bigger and could take care of themselves a bit better they went into the pen with the other chickens. Of course they later became somebody's dinner but it did not matter too much. Ten new chicks (who were so much cuter) would be ours next year.
My children have teased me for years because they feel I am naive and too trusting. To an extent they are right. I was raised that way. Children did not have the fears children do now.
Those baby chicks are a symbol to me. They represent those carefree days we spent when I was a young child.
Friday, April 3, 2015
I am a hardened criminal! Yes I have been arrested. By the police. For being a terrible menace to society.
We had recently moved back to Detroit. My parents and brothers and sisters were still living there. We were fortunate enough to be able to rent the house next door to theirs.
My mother had a meeting one day and had asked me if I could pick up my sister from school because the high school she attended only had half a day of classes. My husband had the day off from work but our car was not running so I told her I was happy to help her but I had no transportation.
My father had an old pickup that he used for doing manly things. I could drive that. So I said I would.
My sister had been riding her bicycle the day before and took a really bad tumble. Her arm, leg, and side were covered with the results of the scraping on the street. Mom did not want her to walk all that way from school.
The day of picking up my sister I overslept. My daughter was a baby who also slept late but she was awake. When my eyes popped open I realized that I was going to have a hard time being there for my sister.
I grabbed my daughter from her crib wet diaper and all. We ran out the door and I drove fast to try to get to my sister's school. I was a bit late.
I saw my sister walking on the sidewalk near the school with a couple of her friends and pulled to a stop next to her. She asked if I could take the other two girls home too. I knew that would be too many people sitting in the pickup but it was only a short distance. What could it hurt?
I was pulled over by the police for having too many people in the truck. And I had run out of the house so fast that I had no driver's license with me. Not to mention that I had not transferred it from the state I moved from to Michigan.
Michigan expects you to take care of your driver's license practically before you move there so I was in big trouble.
The officer decided I was a flight risk so instead of giving me a ticket he arrested me. He left my baby daughter, my sister, and her two friends standing on a sidewalk in an unsafe area. They drove my father's truck around the block to park it in a safe place.
Daddy kept some old tires in the back of the pickup for weight in case of an emergency. The police carefully placed all those old scrap tires inside the truck so they would be safe. They left the girls standing on the street in an unsafe area.
They took me to a holding cell at the local precinct house. I had never been in jail before except as a joke when my father was a town marshal when I was a little girl. I settled down to wait for someone to come get me.
Now we had not been there long enough to have our telephone connected. It took a lot longer then because the phone company had to come out to hook it up. So my sister could not call my husband. My mother was at a meeting. Cell phones were not a thing then so she was not available. My father could not be reached either.
Somehow my sister finally got a call through to my mother. Mom started calling her house hoping that someone, anyone would answer.
My husband had gone to my parents' house looking for me. The boys were hungry. When the phone rang he answered and told my mother he would take care of everything.
He arranged for someone to rescue my daughter and my sister as well the other two girls. He called his brother and asked him to drive my husband to the police station to rescue me. Then he called the police station to tell them he was on the way with my driver's license.
In the meantime the police suddenly came to my little home away from home. They had received the call from my husband. They whisked me off to the main police station in downtown Detroit.
I was escorted to a place where they took a mug shot of me. They frisked me. Do you have any idea what is involved in being frisked?
Frisking is not a mild pat down like they show on television. Oh no. They check everywhere. I have had visits to the gynecologist that were less invasive. By this time I was becoming annoyed.
I did not know where my baby was. I did not know where my little sister was. I was being treated like a big time criminal. I forgot my driver's license and was giving some girls a ride home from school.
Then I went for fingerprinting.
The matron inked up my fingers and thumbs. She had the page where my fingerprints are to be stored forever. Then she said, " Relax."
Through clenched teeth I said, "I AM RELAXED!"
After that pleasant experience I was taken to my cell. I sat on the edge of the bed. The sheets were not white as I think they were supposed to be. The pillow had no covering. When I told my husband about the cell he was shocked. He said, " At least you got a sheet and a pillow. In the men's cells they often don't even have a mattress, just a slab of cement."
I dutifully paid my fines when the time came for me to come before the judge. I was guilty. I knew the laws and broke them.
However... I did file a complaint against the arresting officer. He knew the situation with the girls and did not see to their safety. They did take excellent care of my father's junky tires.
I received a letter from the department. Basically what they said was that it was an unfortunate situation but since I did break the law there was nothing more to be done. That was not what I complained about.
I received a phone call from one of the members of the city council. She was very nice. Then she asked me if I was satisfied with the decision. Of course I was not satisfied. She offered to help.
It was the beginning of a wonderful friendship that endured until she died. She was older than I was (my mother's age and they became fast friends also) but I valued her friendship and she helped me in many ways.
With her help I pursued the matter. Eventually after a couple of years of hard work some changes were made.
It seems there was a young father who had dropped his wife off at work. He had his toddler daughter with him when he was pulled over for a minor traffic violation. When the police informed him that they were arresting him and he had to leave his baby he began to fight. Another charge against him.
At least my sister had my baby.
There were already provisions on the books for taking care of minor children if the parent was arrested and no other responsible adult was available. There were other provisions added. And the arresting officer was instructed to issue a written apology to me. Of course I never received it.
So relax. If you are arrested the police like it if you just relax.