Tag: Family

Contributor Post Created with Sketch. Recommended by Ricochet Members Created with Sketch. Member Post

 

The last couple of weeks, several people (some of whom I consider to be friends) have been very angry with the management of Ricochet. Most recently they have been furious with Rob Long. I haven’t heard his comments yet, but I’ve been reflecting on the choices people are making to leave, and I don’t relate […]

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While I believe most people are shocked and upset by yesterday’s events at our Capitol, we have to keep our wits and move forward. We cannot control the behavior of others and events that come and go, beyond our control. This includes yesterday’s breach of the Capitol in Washington, DC. I’ll give my thoughts briefly, […]

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Recommended by Ricochet Members Created with Sketch. My Best Christmas Gift

 

For research into his Christmas Eve message, our pastor asked the congregation to post him with a description of the best Christmas gifts we had received. Well, aside from the best Gift of the Christ child, of course! This was my post to him:

I’m going to call it the “best gift” for a couple of reasons; First, I still have it. After 43 years or so. Even though it no longer works. It is in my jewelry box for sentimental reasons. Second, it is one of the most unique gifts I ever received from a giver who means the world to me. The gift? A pocket watch. Yes, an old-timey pocket watch, a Bulova, to be specific. It isn’t one of those thick railroad conductor watches. It is sleek, thin, and modern; gold plated and etched on the outside in a fine crosshatch pattern.

Contributor Post Created with Sketch. Recommended by Ricochet Members Created with Sketch. Quote of the Day: Communists and Anti-Communists

 

“How do you tell a communist? Well, it’s someone who reads Marx and Lenin. And how do you tell an anti-Communist? It’s someone who understands Marx and Lenin.” – Ronald Wilson Reagan

Communism only works on the household level. The traditional family is run as a communist society: from each according to his abilities and to each according to his needs. In a functional family, it succeeds and succeeds powerfully. Dad and Mom provide the resources and distribute them as needed. The children grow up to be productive adults.

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Meditation coaches must work. Indeed, coaching meditation, writing, and teaching religious subjects is a profession. But if one is not a pastor or not teaching at a university, it is only now and again, remunerative. It’s really a service that receives occasional donations, honoraria for instructing here and there. To paraphrase Gandhi’s statement that heads […]

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[Note: My wife, daughter, and I live in the U.S. Army Garrison-Stuttgart area where I work as a contractor] Pac-Man aficionados may recognize the reference for what happens if a player manages to get to the 256th screen of the iconic video game (which never happened to me by a long shot). The right side […]

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Katy Faust is co-author of the new book, “Them Before Us: Why We Need a Global Children’s Rights Movement,” and director of the non-profit Them Before Us. She joins Culture Editor Emily Jashinsky to explain why adult desires often take priority over children’s rights.

Contributor Post Created with Sketch. Recommended by Ricochet Members Created with Sketch. Quote of the Day: True Wealth

 

“Despite the synergine the Count’s eyes were going shocked and vague. He pawed at the little plastic oxygen mask, batted away the medic’s worried attempt to control his hands, and motioned urgently to Mark. He so clearly wanted to say something, it was less traumatic to let him than to try and stop him. Mark slid onto his knees by the Count’s head.

“The Count whispered to Mark in a tone of earnest confidence, ‘All . . . true wealth . . . is biological.'” — Lois McMasters Bujold, Mirror Dance

Contributor Post Created with Sketch. Recommended by Ricochet Members Created with Sketch. Where We Ended Up

 

They say tonight is the killing frost. Time to bring the garden in. Not all of it, of course. Only the tender plants that grew in pots all summer precisely so they could be whisked in at the frost. The days have been beautiful. Zoom school: time-sucking but beneficial. The summer, a dream. Often an idyllic dream of backyards and careful visits to Grandma. Sometimes a nightmarish dream where the faster you run, the slower you go; having a newborn can be like that.

At the summer solstice, I attacked the poison ivy that sneaks in through our fence. It attacked me back, despite my protective gear, and it’s fair to say it won in the end. But at first, I savored my delusions of victory by escaping into the wilds behind our fence. There an abandoned train track runs along a berm, flanked by a marshy meadow. In spring, the meadow floods, and the call of courting amphibians sets the night trilling like a thousand mobile phones incessantly going off in a theater. By midsummer, the meadow dries. Daisies and other feral flowers grow there. Many aren’t proper wildflowers. Just feral, escaped. By midsummer, sun, and drought bronze the plants growing through the track with autumnal colors, though the meadow on either side remains green. Even garlic mustard, that detestable weed, looks fairly pleasant with its ragged leaves bronzed. Giant mullein torches the sky. A big blue sky that poison-ivy day, with big, puffy clouds threatening a storm that passed us over.

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In two days, our state will shift back into more restrictive health measures that will remain in effect until “at least” November 30th. Saw this on social media this morning and laughed — until I didn’t. Preview Open

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I knew the moment I opened my eyes this morning that a change of scenery and routine was today’s priority. Too many days/weeks/months of the same old, same old was starting to take a toll on my outlook, energy, and mood, and it was time for a reset of sorts. A quick shower, a mug […]

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Read Part One here and Part Two here. As we pulled out of the college complex and its air-conditioned world of elevators and babies, my sister cried. She had bonded with one of the young married ladies whose card-playing circle had been so friendly to us. I internally rolled my eyes, not happy to have […]

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Recommended by Ricochet Members Created with Sketch. Peanut Butter Crackers, Gunsmoke, and His Rubix Cube: In Search of My Grandfather

 

Growing up, I only had one grandparent. My mom’s mother, who, for a variety of reasons, my dad wished to largely keep my sister and I away from, and who died when I was 7. I’m never quite sure of how much this difference from others my age affected me; on the one hand, there was little point in pining after something I had never had, but that didn’t always mean that seeing my peers bring grandparents to every significant school occasion, and excitedly report on all of the neat adventures they got to go on with them, didn’t sometimes rankle. That vague feeling of a missed connection has waned over the years, as I was lucky enough to be kind of informally ‘adopted’ by one of my best friend’s maternal grandfather, and to have been given a second family in a community of (mostly 50 and over) Benedectine monks. Still, questions linger, questions that I didn’t really feel comfortable posing to my parents past a certain age. 

Most of them centered around my paternal grandfather, Charlie. My dad was always full of stories about his mother, who he compared to me (when I maybe wasn’t meant to be there) in terms of devotion and bullheadedness to his siblings, and the little aquatinace that I had with my maternal grandmother didn’t really leave me wanting more. My mom’s dad, meanwhile, had passed in the late ‘70s, and seemed a distant, somewhat painful memory even to her. Charlie, though, existed as a kind of aura around my dad’s stories, a cheerful and mischievous but indistinct presence who bore 7 kids and 50 something years of marriage with equanimity and good humor. The most I concretely knew about him was that he drove my grandmother crazy playing with a Rubix cube at the dinner table, ate peanut butter crackers by the thousands, and died a few months before I was born.

Recommended by Ricochet Members Created with Sketch. “T”

 

“The best way out is always through.” — Robert Frost

I love that quote. It rings of all the things we learn across life that are basic and true – finish what you started, just keep going, don’t quit, get up, endure, just keep swimming – just keep swimming. I’ve seen a fair amount of non-quitters in my time. I’ve seen some seriously tough soldiers; I know a guy who’d die before he’d quit. We all know lots of people say that but he’s the one who’d actually do it. He left the Army, became a missionary in the mountains of Burma and now he’s in the middle east saving kids in war zones. I saw guys swim underwater knowing they were going to pass out; no swimming for the side or trying to stay on the surface, they’d just go limp and start to sink. I have seen it across all walks of life well outside my military world too. Oftentimes one does not get a choice in what happens but they can choose to get through it. 10 July 1961 is a date that would affect my life forever despite not even being born. That was the day my sister arrived on the planet.

Recommended by Ricochet Members Created with Sketch. ‘Is It the 4th Yet?’

 

Four years ago, my Mom passed away and I think about her last weeks with us every year at this time. She had been going downhill for six months or so, and for the last month, she was in the hospital’s CCU for three weeks, then a regular hospital room for two weeks. I guess when you’re 91, a lot of things go downhill fast. But hey, she grew up in and lived through the Great Depression and WWII, was a fantastic dancer and loved to sing, married and raised a family, and loved her kids, grandkids, and great-grandkids, so she’d had a great life.

Every day we’d visit her, and she always had the same question; “Is it the 4th of July yet?” We’d say “no Mom, it’s only June (whatever), the 4th is next month.” It was touch and go for a while in the CCU, but she finally stabilized and got into a regular room for a couple of weeks. Still the same question, “Is it the 4th yet?”

Recommended by Ricochet Members Created with Sketch. Ave Atque Vale: Frank Zbozny, Rest In Peace

 

My husband, Frank Zbozny (see–I always told you I could win a game of Scrabble in one go, if only proper names were allowed), has died. Many of you know of his decades-long struggle with dementia, and of the cardiac and other physical problems that began to sap his strength in 2012 or thereabouts. But he was himself almost to the end. The last intelligible word he spoke to me was two days ago, after I enabled what I believe was one of his last pleasant physical sensations on this earth (so I did it often), the deployment of a just-warmed-in-the-dryer comforter over the top of him. He smiled. I asked him how that felt. He thought. And over the course of about ten seconds, the courtly and rather old-fashioned gentleman I married, 39 years ago on July 24 of this year (I wrote about that marriage here), managed to get the word out: “Deee–li–cious.”

We started out our married life quite poor, at least in financial terms. I was a Teaching Assistant, and Frank was an Assistant Professor of English, at a time (early 1980s) when a liberal arts career path was beginning to be deprecated in favor of a business education, so he wasn’t terribly well paid. We lived at the very end of a dead-end street, in a run-down little house picturesquely situated just above the exhaust vents of Pittsburgh’s Liberty Tunnels. I was assaulted once, going home after work as I walked up the hill from the streetcar stop. I was fondled by the disgusting creep (kneed him in the crotch), and my purse was stolen. Our house was ransacked one evening when we were out, and the very few items of value, both real and sentimental, that we owned, were taken. (I remember, on both of those occasions, feeling utterly violated. It was three-and-a-half decades before I felt anything else as wrenching, or even remotely comparable in terms of being flayed alive in a public space.) One day, I drove home from work to find gangs of thugs in the middle of the street watching a couple of pit bulls fight in the back of a pickup truck. I had them arrested and carted off to jail. It required a bit more moxie than it might today, as this was well before the days when cell phones were in widespread use. So I parked my car in the middle of the street above them (so they couldn’t leave, because dead-end), walked through and past them, while they jeered and insulted me, walked up the steps of the house, and called the police. Frank’s comment? “You would have made a good United States Marine.” Made me proud then. Almost makes me proud now.

It was, to say the least, an interesting place to start off our married life. Still, we had a lovely garden (auto and diesel exhaust fumes must be an excellent fertilizer and growth stimulant), and with the exception of the wanna-be circus performer woman across the street (Kathy) who regularly threw knives at the bathroom door while her husband (Tom) cowered inside, and the fellow next door (Jimbo) who held raucous parties at all hours of the day and night before succumbing to a drug overdose at a very young age, most of the neighbors (elderly, long-term residents) were lovely.

Recommended by Ricochet Members Created with Sketch. Quote of the Day: A Representative and His Duties

 

“Your representative owes you, not his industry only, but his judgment; and he betrays, instead of serving you, if he sacrifices it to your opinion.” — Edmund Burke

I knew a man, one of many pleasant anachronisms in my life that I did nothing to deserve. His friends called him “Bill.” We, his family, called him ” Papa.” He was born exactly 88 years ago, but I only first met him 59 years later. He was my mother’s father, the leader of an 11-member clan, and eventually a grandfather of 18. Things haven’t been the same since we lost him two years ago; such a man is not easily replaced. I might not go so far as to call him “great” – there will not likely be any institutions named after him, no statues either (thank goodness!) – but a good man is hard to find, and William Joseph Taylor was an especially good man.

Calling him an undertaker is fitting. Though he didn’t spend a lot of time preparing bodies for services, but he reopened the business his grandfather, John Irving Taylor, and Oscar Modeen founded in 1909. Papa’s undertaking was not limited to the funeral business. He and his wife of 66 years settled in Tequesta, FL, after leaving West Hartford, CT, in 1968. There, at 36 years of age, he worked tirelessly for his new community – then still aptly considered “The Village of Tequesta.” Involvement with the Jupiter Medical Center, Jupiter Pavilion (a hospice center) the Palm Beach County United Way, the Jupiter Tequesta Athletic Association, St. Jude Catholic Church, and the Florida Association for Retarded Persons were among his extra-curricular activities. He opened the first movie theatre in the area (it was, unsuccessful in part because his eldest decided to give candy to her friends). One time I asked him if he had ever seen a movie called The Last Picture Show. He gave me a knowing grin, and replied with a simple, “Yeah.” He knew I thought he was a lion. I really do still.

Recommended by Ricochet Members Created with Sketch. Group Writing: Music To Bury My Mother By

 

June 24, 2020 would have been my mother’s 92nd birthday. She died in September 2014, at the age of 86 after a long struggle with the effects of fronto-temporal dementia. Her death was, in the eyes of her children and others who loved her, a release and a blessing. And for her, peace at last.

She’d fallen away from the faith of her childhood decades before, and her children wished only a celebration of her life, and to say farewell to Mum with words and music that she’d have enjoyed. (I’ve often thought that, in an earlier time, Mum might have lived as a wise woman, or a white witch, in a pretty little cottage in the middle of the forest primeval. She’d have liked that, I think.)

Her interment was my first experience with a “green” funeral. She was buried in a biodegradable coffin painted with the wild birds of England that she so loved, in a lovely and peaceful place (an experience which felt so “right” that it inspired my stepson’s green burial a few years later.)

Recommended by Ricochet Members Created with Sketch. What do I owe you, dad?: A Letter

 

Dear Dad, 

We don’t talk much about feelings. Well, that’s actually not fair, I don’t talk much about feelings. That’s not on you, you’ve always been the person to cry at weddings and say ‘I love you’ with no hesitation, I guess I just turned out a little different. Doesn’t Stephen always say I was perfect to move to England because I’m so absolutely emotionless and taciturn? I do, though. Love you. A lot. A ‘I would kill for one of those bone crushing hugs at Logan Arrivals Gate E’ lot. 

Check out the video on my Youtube Channel!

Join me as I make a mask at home out of one of my t-shirts!