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Archive for the month “September, 2016”


Observing myself,  I should be returning to Mindfulness, maybe listening to those Sam Harris meditations that my friend introduced me to, however something about his voice sounds a bit commanding, authoritarian, although some are actually quite short and neat so my thoughts can’t wander too much. But instead, I am playing “Trains.” For those of you unfamiliar with “Trains”, it is one of the games in the Lumosity program, part of a variety of math, brain switching, fill the coffee cup, follow the trajectory of the pinball, count the fish, divide the stones… Somehow I am at 14 in Trains which seems to be the end program of switching multicoloured trains from track to track.
 To play Trains, you must safely direct your train to its stationhouse identified by its matching colour. You create circuits of a sort so that purple train can return to its purple station house while the orange, green, white, etc. trains are all quickly emerging and also need to find the correct paths on a variety of tracks and there is no surprise that because I am on level 14, there are14 trains, all quickly departing the one main station house, to direct! Every configuration is different and you must quickly switch and arrange the tracks so that your train arrives at the right station.
 Sometimes when I see the tangle of tracks on the screen I think, I wonder which one most accurately reflects the pathways in my brain that must be switched, closed, altered for my behaviours that arise or the subsequent emotions that will accompany or prelude my actions. Most likely my brain patterns are reflected by the multicoloured mixup of tangled yarns I knot with -that can be straightened out by either carefully unwinding strands or just breaking them, but in this game, the trains if not properly sorted will find their end in the wrong houses: useless for scoring points. As well, a defeated, angry or frustrated noise is released by the player, me.
 But as there is a lesson to be learned from all endeavours, or so they say, even though the gambler or game addict most often returns in hopes of winning and being successfully to demonstrate she can beat the system and retire as champion, what I have learned from this is that if I am calm, I have a pretty good chance of being successful in this game. However the moment one train arrives at the incorrect location, I lose my concentration, my cool and shout out, become flustered and inevitably lose the opportunity to get the next two trains to their colour-coded stations: until I can take a breath. At this point, I know the pursuit is really over so instead of the excitement of the adrenalin win, I retire to a state of –maybe just finish this off… and try again.
 But this pattern is not new for me. I am an emotional person whose feeling overrun my behaviours. I am aware of the bubbling core that composes me but even as I ascertained this in my work place, as a trembling voice at an interview or an angry look at a colleague belied a smooth carefully planned countenanceas. I am victim to the emotions that are barely hidden beneath my skin’s surface. It is as if there has been a battle between the rational and emotional sectors in my body with my silly brain deciding to champion those unruly messy parts, my ego and superego battling and one or the other attempting to actually trip me up. In my head, I can see the cheerleaders in their fuzzy red sweaters jumping wildly around, encouraging the spurters and screamers and crazy types who run wildly in circles, encouraging the floods that are coursing through body, causing my face to redden and my knees to quake. In my head I command this cheerleader squad to return to the bench for a breather, move on, sit by the sidelines, quiet down, but a tiny voice murmurs to this wild and inflammable crew of miscreants with a chortle, just watch this girl be swamped by her feelings and screw up. So I consciously and serenely must assert, oh no, you won’t. I’m able to be in charge here. Well, sometimes…

In Trains, the combinations move too quickly for this fight, but the result of a misplaced train triggers those real messy emotions, the flashes of anger and then eventual resignation, chin tipped downward in despair and defeat, for the game is all ready lost.
I wonder why is that battle present at all: between my emotions and my rational being who evidently roots for my undoing by my unruly surging emotions. Is it the rational part of me taunting me, “ Give in, these are the principal residents in you: that is who you are; so let them roam and jump and scurry over the top and main floor of your head; we rational thoughts with pencils tucked neatly behind our ears in gray flannel suits are quite happy following recipes, making phone calls and adding sums?
For so much of my life, the emotions ( “Pat,” admonishes my father, “You are too sensitive,” as the tears begin to drip on my cheeks as he is attempting for the umpteenth time, to explain chemistry to me; or “Pat, pay attention to the road when you drive.”; Of course, it is sensible not silly to watch the road when you are learning to drive) did run ram shod over me.
So that is what occurs in my head, the dueling factions, but even my body seems out to be out to trick me. Last night, nicely dressed and put together, as we went to our seats in a restaurant, my new boots slid on the floor and had I not grabbed the back of another’s seat, I would have fallen hard: tripping is also one of my specialties as I forget that I have feet that must be co-ordinated. In fact my mother started me at ballet because my feet appeared to be encased in cement and even then I was hitting rocks and curbs with my sad little knees. My husband as we take our seats, turns around once I’ve stabilized my errant boots and says, “There is a 60% chance that you are always going down.” Then looking thoughtful, he says, “Strange- as you can contort your body in Pilates and you are flexible for over an hour at class, but you can’t ever seem to walk a straight line.” But there most often, my bum is the centre of gravity and all ready on the ground and I do not have to contend with hips, knees, ankles or rowdy toes.
I think of the recent almost trips again, just yesterday :over raised seams on cement sidewalks and this last potentially fatal one as my new boots slid across the cement floor. As we ate our supper for 2 ½ hours, no one else, in boots, flip flops or oxfords even appeared to lose a millisecond of balance. And yet for me, a tiny hillock, an uneven pavement, a floor of varying material can cause my literal downfall. At one vineyard wedding, one guest discretely whispered, “You fell so elegantly” and fortunately my purple knees matched my purple dress.
After years of falling down ( not to mention the curb walks home from elementary school that I thought might stand in for tight rope wires and always resulted in scabs and blood trickling down to my socks,) I have finally accepted that bumbling part of me. I know one leg is slightly shorter than the other, as is the case with almost everyone on the planet, but mine has a disposition to go its own way, saying to its partner, “So long chum, I’m setting off now, so take care.” And so I have concluded that inevitably, the confrontations between my body and gravity and surfaces beneath are truly not my fault.
In terms of my emotions overrunning my demeanour, now retired, I am not concerned should my expressive face give me away, for a sudden tear or a shaking pencil will not impact on my delivery. Back when I did work at my profession, the efficacy of my work, my research, my professionalism did happily overrule the messy parts. In deed, I knew how to draw on emotional effect for purposeful manipulation ; and eventually even my well rehearsed and memorized presentations became performances that could be altered like a knowledgeable thespian because I had an excellent script to play off and my emotions were tamed, governable. But no longer is there that need.
Still I wonder at my brain, my mind that like the control tower still sends bad or conflicting thoughts, even in Pilates, when it whispers, you will topple and I silently respond, “Be quiet you; NO, I won’t.” I wonder at the tangle of train tracks, and the routes that require straightening, reconnecting and aligning to get me from one destination to another. I wonder at the voices in my head, my parents, my teachers, my own fears that try to trick me up so I have to reassert myself or find better solutions. I wonder at my feet that often seem totally unconnected to my body and want to go off on their own routes. And I consider that I am a mess and mass of electrical wires, circuitry and connections- much as my father used to rearrange on every cake box when I was young.
I suppose that is all we are, except for those damn emotions that light our faces, make us giggle, cast us into doom, tickle our imaginations and make us special. At 68, I am who I am, having learnt I must attempt to balance on a tightrope whenever something truly important chugs up to my door.

Back to School

Like many boomers, I am retired, well, not exactly by choice, but that is another story. Crafting a new life is hard, takes time and effort: trying to fill the empty hours when I used to feel vital, useful, and worthy of my institutions’ praise and rewards. From the workplace to????, now looking to fill hours and avoid boredom, seeking  a kind of therapy for mind and body.
Usually for my generation, after leaving their profession, we maintain, at least, some physical exercise, now that can be enacted during the daytime hours  instead of crushed into the end of a bruising day, once misplacing suppertime so that bounces or stretches or “step “ can prolong  flexibility and result in less damage to the body that sits rather than moves at a work station
But when those productive years have ended, then what?
For some, there is a discovery of so-called hobbies, pursuits that will continue to stimulate the mind or provide some kind of camaraderie with those who like you have unexpectedly  grown older, wrinkled and  whose children are now themselves in smart professions. On Monday at lunch, a friend, a former stock broker related that her husband has become her area of preoccupation along with renovating the bathrooms in her condo in Naples. On Tuesday, another friend a former speech therapist  was searching for bereavement circles but dismayed at the educational pedigree of the leaders: one who had met a second husband at such a group; and the second was schooled in dream analysis and phrenology. My husband not retired  but obviously a boomer with an ( over?)active mind is taking guitar lesson, waiting patiently beside 8 year olds on the bench outside the class on Sundays. He’s deliriously happy understanding how Leonard Cohen’s Hallejuah’s chords work with the words: something our son has been shouting at him for months. But the penny finally dropped.
Yesterday back at school myself , I choose art  as my therapy, to help put aside the burdens of my heart for several hours. Starting to set up my easel and arrange my side table, my middle finger is slammed in the frame of the side table’s frame and it swells to two sizes larger, bright blue. Asked to bring ourselves closer to the model, I find the damn thing collapses again and I am surrounded by a buzz of helpful others. I wonder if they think I’m just an incompetent oldster in need of help or are they kind souls who would come to the aid of any one incapable of arranging her space. In any case, the class begins and I am focused on the lesson by a talented teacher, much my own age.
 But it is only after lunch when we are asked to introduce that I notice ( big surprise) that the rest of the group except for two young’ums are my vintage, no longer employed,  one fresh from 24 years in the tech world. When it’s my turn I mumble a tiny bio and then explain that if I don’t respond to others, it’s because my hearing aids don’t really function very well. They must be thinking, not only un-co-ordinated but hard of hearing too. Actually  I feel no judgment in their stares, as their eyes pass over me as you might observe a bug on the mat. Fortunately the teacher’s voice  is sufficiently loud so I do pick up about 70% of his instruction, and some of the knowledge is a refresher, but some is new. Besides I know from experience to perch close to his lectern.
But what prompted to write about this experience was the very end of the class when we were asked to display our drawings.  In spite  of the teacher’s praise to the entire group, thankfully not the oft congratulatory expression” Good Job!”, ( and who knows, we may have some fledgling Leonardos in the group), I note that   many of the drawings might have been  accomplished by my grandsons, for the technique or artistry displayed.
This comment is not to be critical. Should I have chosen to learn Mandarin  or music, my results would have been at the same level of embarrassment. But these brave souls are obviously not chagrined as they turn their easels outwards to form a circle. But to my mind, they are suggestive of Cimabue’s Byzantine art, or the rudimentary offerings that signify Piaget’s first levels: a circle of commencement.
For me, this is the problem: often I know more than others, but not enough to be accomplished. I am aware that every class offers new information and I suppose it is satisfying to be in the top of the group, rather than be floundering or even setting out . I commend my other art students for their bravery that has encouraged them to follow a brand new path, particularly at our advanced age of life. Maybe they know Grandma Moses found for her simple works  at 78.
Still for me, it is a strange place to be at: in my head. Perhaps this introductory class was badly chosen, but time, date, location and reputation all played into my decision: which incidentally I do not regret.And often most classes are comprised of a wide range of ability and desire. However, maybe for me, it is not the actual space of sharing the instruction this morning, it is the mind space. 
For me, art has always formed part of who I am, even when all day work did not permit my performance of it. It was not a pasttime to be explored because work had fallen away. Perhaps because I did not overhear art discussions at break time , only murmurs about being retired that I feel out of place, a certain conceit.  And maybe  for ( good) reason people feel art provides a respite, a new endeavour to attempt,, rather than a way to see , for they have  suddenly decided to explore their visual world, not having continuously been in that mode their entire lives. Yes, I commend them, , but I still feel set apart- especially from those who have commandeered both sides of their brain to work in finance, with  numbers –in their previous lives: none of which I could do.  Art has been a temple for me, not just theoretical but practical and physical: the brain translating what I see, feel and experience on to paper, my fingers an extension  chord from the neurons that had refused to bounced successfully to arrive at correct math solutions or  untangle chronologies of invading hoards or not make everything on my computer screen vanish.
 Again it is not disparagement towards my classmates, but for me, that the class makes me realize, yet again, I do not  belong.
This is the problem with the Boomers. We in our love beads and swinging braids never believed we would grow old. We would always move rhythmically, sit at the feet of Siddartha and retain the glow of youth. Yet standing at my easel yesterday, knees aching, straining to hear, I knew I was past the label on the package” best before” but  best before  what?

School Reunions

My sister forwarded me an email that West Prep is having a 75th reunion.
For those not living in Toronto, there were three “ preps” in Toronto: North, South and West Preps. They were public schools, but someone back when, must have thought they were making the local elementary schools elite by calling them preps. Many years ago, Forest Hill was its own entity, even requiring garbage men to trek to the backdoor to remove that distasteful trash from the view of the neighbours. So surrounding this predominantly upper middle class neighbourhood was an aura of entitlement and not surprisingly, resentment by the plebs in Leaside or North York who had to drag their garbage to the curb, and not to mention, their unfortunate offspring who were required to attend TDSB’s ordinary- sounding public schools. 
Although we lived on the edge of Forest Hill behind our store on a main street, my parents had chosen the location for our store on the basis of the schools’ reputation. So we attended West Prep with the usual load of teachers, some great, some awful such  as my Grade one teacher with her tie up oxfords who raked my scalp with her nails, and made me shiver at her approach. But as well, the librarian was lovely and introduced me to Ramona and Beezus and B is for Betsy books . 
Those  were the formative years of my child’s life, whooping it up at recess as we ran up and down the hills in the school yard and lining up our purée biggees in games of marbles. There we were introduced to Sex- Ed in Grade 5( I think) with a movie called Personally Yours along with square dances and rainy day movies in the auditorium where no one seemed to care if a film ( shown on rainy days) was equally appropriate for grade ones or grade sevens. I recall being kept in to redo arithmetic in Grade five when I wanted to be out screaming and skipping with my friends on the playground. My reflections of those days are filled with childish bounding, skipping, hopping and nasty tangles of little girls bickering or choosing who will be their friend and who not.. Of course, my mother always provided a nickel or dime to stop at Louis on the way so as to buy candy. I would meander slowly on my way to school, often picking flowers from the front lawns en route : to offer to my teachers.
Perhaps my favourite moment was a Friday gathering for all classes in that auditorium devoid of any furniture so that the kids sat cross- legged on the wooden floor. In our weekly assemblies I read my story that described a monkey’s confusion when he nibbled the cherries on a lady’s chapeau , believing they were the real thing. I read loudly and strongly to the assembled hoards, unlike the presentations I gave later in high school : one in which my grade 12 teacher admonished my shaking voice for actually ruined my beautifully written work, or at least that’s how I recall the excitement of being chosen being dashed by my performance.

When I reflect back on those early years at West Prep, no one name, save my next door neighbour’s, comes to mind. There was, however, one girl named Beverley. I recall her because she was different, very different. She had a funny crooked smile, was taller, more awkward with a pyramid of unruly dark hair. In the years before Special Education, Beverley was always there, moving on the playground, always by herself, not included in games or chatting groups, usually mocked or ignored. I think her parents had insisted her inclusion at West Prep, but she was anything but included. Not a bad child, not a mean child, but one who moved like a friendly ghost, circling the clots of kids playing on that barren playground, hoping for acceptance or acknowledgment, but never ever part of the numerous cliques or circles of squabbling girls who spied or lied or cheated on you. Was she delayed or just different? Why did no one, not a supervising adult or kind child, ever try and include her in our hopscotch or singing circles. And besides a “ hi” or disinterested glance, why did not one of us engage her in some form of interaction?
In grade 4 all ready, we were being divided, judged as smart and stupid.To ascertain our suitability for a musical education, which meant selecting an instrument to lug back and forth to school, we were arranged in our desks and told to differentiate high, middle and low sounds played by trumpets, violins or on piano. Unable to properly perform this task, I was separated with the group of other musically illiterate children. Besides the humiliation of floundering, unable to parse the sounds that came to me, I was now corralled, publicly scorned and made to stand at the edge of the classroom while the welcoming smiles of the adjudicator gathered the successful towards her. These small seemingly superficially tests yield a huge impact on a child’s sense of self- concept. One quickly learns discrimination as the large homogeneous association of children is now divided into smarter and stupider kids and you definitely do not belong to the first group. Later, there will be The Prefects and the German class and you will always be designated as not fitting the definition and offered the key to the best teachers and the preferred classes. Eventually you will offer sarcastic quips to announce that you really do not care. But of course, you do. Like Hester Prynne’s scarlet letter, you have all ready been marked as low or under – achiever and identified as lacking.
I think of my student at Westview Centennial and her insightful comment, and she only in Grade 12, not a graduate from a teachers education program, who considering Gerard Manley Hopkins poem Pied Beauty expressed her contention that maybe weeds are flowers to Nature. Sometimes simple thoughts can be the most profound.And I wonder about the educational environment that does not tie kids to their chairs but still makes it clear they are unteachable. Several years ago, my brilliant grandson was downcast that he was not identified as “ the star” of the week. I explained to him that he was my star, and that every child in his class was also a star, for I believe each one is so- called gifted in some way. What is required is teaching that meets the needs of individual minds and multiple intelligences( see Howard Gardner for more). So the philosophy goes today supported by multiple choice tests or those standardized ones that do not allow for one extra word to explain your thoughts.

I never wanted to be a teacher or teacher educator, but that was where my path took me and as I sift through my own memories I contemplate that my own experiences as “the average child” most often disinterested or  bored lead me to my profession. I poured over ASNeill’s Summerhill in Britain, The Hurried Child, Gardner’s Multiple Intelligences and so many more as I endeavoured to arrive at my own concept of good education. Eventually I decanted it to one sentence, “ If you can read and possess a curious, open mind, you have the keys to an amazing education. Perhaps, again,  overly simplistic, but research does substantiate that a “ bad” educational experience may shut you down for three years at school, so traumatizing is an event that impacts on your ability to learn. 

School reunions dredge up memories of oneself as a child, the struggles, the delights, the friends and the school yards of socializing.The crib of West Prep was overall for me a good place to begin my adventures. In spite of being shut down by my Grade one teacher, there was much else to propel me on. Most of the early bright lights did continue to  soar on at high school and into professions, however, there were the others like me who might have surprised anyone reading the roster , all those weeds that somehow were not identified as the blooming flowers.

My Mother’s Friends

We lived behind our store. My father’s hi fi workshop was the basis upon which he made his living and supported us. When he was out on service calls, my mother tended the shop as well as us. She was at the hub of our lives, rarely complaining. Every day as the store’s bell announced our arrival home from school, we would call out, “Mummy?”Like the genie to be summoned, we imagined our words conjured the smiling spirit of our mother in aprons. And always she would appear. Should she not magically vaporize before our eager eyes, we were crushed, abandoned. But it was in deed a rare occurrence that we would not be welcomed by her loving face.  

My father guarded her presence as well, disparaging any contacts that might remove her from him. Almost openly rude to her friend Mary next door, in spite of his begrudging hello or grumble, Mary continued to visit from time to time. And when our mother was overcome with the burdens of her life, it was not the brief weekend sojourn at my grandparents, but Mary’s wisdom to clean, clean, clean that brought her back to us.

But yesterday as I ran into a former acquaintance , I recalled my mother had been “ friends” with the acquaintance’s mother. And for the first time in my life, I wondered how could my mother’s relationship with Mrs. W have been possible. Although the former neighbour’s sister and mine had been duelling presences at school, each battling for supremacy in the realm of competing high achievers, I pondered how my mother had known Mrs. W. At all. I never observed my mother chat with this woman who lived around the corner in a real house. In fact, as I conjured the W. family, I had no image, just a vague dumpy shape of the woman. in deed, all I knew of this family was that there were three sisters, all apparently brilliant.

How had they become friends? My mother’s only interactions and conversations were extended telephone discussions with family, usually to allay my grandmother’s demands, or arrange times when emphysema plagued my grandmother. And these evening spurts only could take place when my mother had finished with the workload at our house . She might have been an indentured servant, or medieval slave, for the dawn-to-dusk drudgery of chores that necessitated completion: whether bopping into the store to work with a customer; standing for hours ironing our cotton shirts; mangling sheets, deep in the basement; completing the store’s bookkeeping; or preparing us for bedtime with a story. Like a single parent, she saw and oversaw every activity in our home. 

I can never recall a day she took a day off to minister to her own needs or delights. Her only “ outside” activity was to hop a bus one morning a week to pick up a cake or white fish at Avenue Road’s Margo or Penguin stores and immediately return home: likely not incurring a second fare as she moved swiftly from shop to shop. And every other week, a Tuesday as well, she might manage a quick turn about in popping down to Eaton’s College Street and returning with a bright red Girls Annual and Robin Annual, (on sale in the fall and in spring) for my sisterand me; and always in time to prepare my father’s lunch exactly at noon. Her light running steps might have been propelled on wings.  

She always decried, even at 90, not having had an opportunity for more education: as a nurse or designer. But she gleaned much from her in- laws, research and information on child rearing from Maisel or Gesell, but enhanced by her own strong common sense: that allowed her to suppress feelings of depression when in an exhausted state she sank into a chair and contemplated her own mother’s brutal means of upbringing or my father’s debilitating polio. 

Having been forced to relocate from our house after my father’s illness, she helped design our living accommodations, providing her own special touches. In the back lane behind our store, she insisted on a fenced in patio – wisely painted red so as to warn parking cars-with grass and a sandbox for us. Once into our makeshift yard, a tiny not quite completely formed birdling fell from its place under a bedroom air conditioner. We consulted Funk and Wagnalls encyclopedias (reasonably priced with purchases of groceries at the grocery store) and discovered we should feed the fledglings cooked egg yokes and provide sips of water through an eye dropper. This we did, supervised by our mother. We coaxed its transparent body for two days, trying not to transmit our finger smell lest its mother reject it, but on the third day the struggling embryonic creature vanished. 

My mother insisted that we have lessons: the Hebrew ones across the street I dragged myself to. When I complained she explained, she felt ignorant not having known how to read Hebrew herself and did not want us to experience that lack of confidence when the praying voices in synagogue knew the words to chant. I never really heard her, and spent too many years looking out of the classroom window, gnawing on candy and dreaming myself far away. So many years later, I wish I had paid attention so my utterances instead of stuttering could mix and flow with the songs others so strongly sang at holiday prayers. 

Not permitted to take tap lessons because my parents feared we might become showgirls ( I could barely walk without tripping so no need to worry there!), we were allowed ballet classes which I adored, especially the pink tutus and fairy wings for the final performance. There were as well piano lessons at the Conservatory, where my sister excelled and I floundered, never practicing and truly uninterested in the theory behind the music. My mother was so proud of our accomplishments, never bragging, but quietly enfolding her own pride that her girls had opportunities she never could have contemplated.

Before tennis or girls hockey was popular, our school offered a skating rink in the winter. Bundled into bulky grey coats or my cousins’ hand- me- downs, we would haltingly skate forward to the delight of our parents who cheered us on from the car. Sometimes we visited our father’s friend Harry Wines who had not left his house in 20 or so years, having been traumatized by an unfair firing in his workplace. Harry would flood his real backyard for his son Mike and we might be invited to join him for a skate.  They would laugh. “Pat and Mike”, as if we understood the joke. There were public swimming pools accessible by bus and we were encouraged in the summer to make our way there when the weather was muggy and hot in the summer. Summer camp would turn bitter for me when the reality of a summer away finally came my way. And I was required to share all the pistachios my parents brought with the others. However,  most summers we would load into the car, my father driving somewhere, my mother lugging suitcases in and out of motels as my sister and I fought in the back seat.

Although my father loved his work and excelled at his mastery of creating circuits in audio engineering,evidenced on every single cake box in our house, he was happy to divulge his secrets, and cared little for the money that might accompany his genius. Our mouths hung open when we heard that Peter Munk in creating Clairtone had approached our father, hoping to unit my father’s brilliance in sound with smart design. Our father felt anything that jeopardized sound/ music for aesthetics was not worth his consideration. I never heard him regret his decision not to partner with Munk who went on to make millions and billions of dollars. My sense of my father was the watchmaker at his bench, fascinated and brilliant at his profession, only requiring my mother as confidant in his life. 

In all of this was my mother whose life surrounded us, expected and anticipated. Never was there a moment for herself. And never did I consider that she should own a life outside of our family unit. Never did I project my own desire for relationships outside of our doors on her. She was the frame to the stability in our world. Yet beside un welcomed Mary next door, somehow she did know another woman on the street bordering the laneway and again, I never knew of any communication. Perhaps the woman called for a service call and then my mother chatted with her. Her children were not in any of my or my sister’s classes so no home and school meeting contacts. Yet my mother spoke warmly of Anne Ross as if she were a close friend, lightly mesmerized by her good  looks, posture and warm smile. 

We occasionally whispered my mother was martyr , enjoying her life of unending responsibilities and work. But now, of course, I don’t think that was the case at all. We say such things to rationalize our own guilt or ignorance of the complexities of a person’s situation. It’s so much easier to judge and label than scrape beneath the surface. She was a person trapped by her life’s circumstances and she learned to make the best of them. To realize at 68 years of age that my mother may or may not have had friends is shocking. And I write this with a profound sense of embarrassment that I cared little for my mother’s realm beyond our walls.  

But truly, how much do you know about the lives of your parents when you were a child? As children, we are such egocentric beings, caring only for ourselves, infuriated should a parent not immediately visualize to deal with our childish angst. My husband reflects that love flows downward from parent to child. And I know this to be true.. 

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