Friday, November 13, 2015

Alternative Gifts

Don't know what to buy for someone or a number of someones? Gifts that make memories or give throughout the year seem like very good ideas. Why can't I think of them when needed? This should jog my memory.

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Happy Birthday Alan

    Integrity--a word from the Latin for integer. One can define it in terms of wholeness, sound moral principle, uprightness, honesty, & sincerity. For 43 years I have shared a life & home with a man whose life is a model of integrity. Happy Birthday, Alan Riendeau (Nov 10) & may you know many more! 

The Family Support Center

    We were stationed in D.C. where Alan was assigned to The Presidents Own, a group of airmen as elite as the name sounds. His pay ran about $700. per month (no COLA in those days), of which we paid $350. for a little roach-infested apartment for our family of 4. An aside: There was no available housing at Andrews AFB, which precipitated the apartment (2 women were murdered in the complex during our time there -- a story for another time). Alan had to get a 2nd job to make ends meet &, never having the same days off between the two, we rarely saw him. With only one vehicle, I was truly holed up in the apartment alone with two preschoolers for many months on end. 

    Finally, I'd had enough & arranged childcare & transportation so that I could volunteer at the Family Support Center (FSC) one afternoon a week. I answered the phone & spent many hours directing military families to base and community resources and helped with any number of issues for those who called. One day the group of officers' wives who were in charge of the FSC began planning the annual volunteer recognition dinner. I overheard them planning the menu, the speaker & finally the location of the event. The first two went fine. My ears perked up, however, when the discussion of the location went something like this: "We can't hold it at XXX because we don't think enlisted wives will know how to behave in such a place." 

    Being an enlisted's wife, I skipped the dinner & never went back to the Center.

Good Bye Grandma Grace

    She was born in the shadow of Mt Hood & never forgot her western roots. When G'pa Ross transplanted her to northern MN, she stayed for love--for sure not for the weather. When Alan & I were dating I loved stopping by for lunch & a bowl of soup, which she made from scratch daily. Nearby would be a Scrabble or Yahtzee game ready to go. She shook her head as she remembered how often she scrubbed behind all the Riendeau boys' ears when they came to visit. She was a 'town' g'ma & ...had little time for the muss of the farm or the cabin. She had such a fun, impish quality to her humor & loved a joke. For the record, she was as surprised as any about her long life; after all, she lived life her way with cookies for breakfast, a cigarette if desired, & little activity that could be called exercise. I think she decided 2 wks ago that it was time to see g'pa again & was going to make it happen. Today they are together again. At her death I am remembering that in her 105 yrs she predates WW I & the automobile. She experienced almost all of the 20th Century & 15 yrs of the 21st...& I never saw her knickers in a knot. What a lady.

While We Wait

As we await news of Alan's grandmother's death, I have to share a sweet Halloween story in which she & Alan star. Alan was saying goodbye to G'ma Grace after her 105th birthday event in Sept. Because she has to be constantly reminded who people are, he bent down & said "I'm Alan & I'm saying goodbye now Gramma." "Oh, you're not Alan," G'ma said, "you're a girl. You're too pretty to be a boy." Then she reached up & rubbed his face, feeling his whiskers. "Oh, you are a boy," she finally said. Young Julia (9 yrs old?) was sitting close by & began to laugh at the silliness. Alan chuckled too & didn't think too much about it. When he told me later what g'ma had said my heart stopped.
She had remembered him, after all, w/ a very deep connection that went back almost 60 yrs. The words G'ma said in her goodbye were the exact words I had heard her tell me yrs ago as she recounted the Halloween night Alan & his siblings went trick or treating at their house. She said that Alan had dressed up as a girl that year (he was about 5) & when the kids knocked on their door, she had not recognized him. When he told her "I'm Alan," she had replied, "You're not Alan, you're a girl. You're too pretty to be a boy." Now that is a deep path in a brain. What a sweet memory & what a sweet goodbye. Halloween of all times.

Thursday, October 8, 2015

It is expected that gun violence will cause more deaths in the U.S. in 2015 than auto fatalities. Here is a summary of Augustin & the common good.

Friday, September 13, 2013

An evening with Desmond Tutu

A little scrap of paper gained entrance to an evening of greatness with Archbishop Desmond Tutu, South Africa's best known cleric in its long struggle to end apartheid. His appearance at Butler University marked the establishment of a Center carrying his name and his legacy in peacemaking and reconciliation. Established by the Dungy Family Foundation (Tony Dungy was a longtime coach and took Indiana's Colts to football greatness), it pays tribute to two great men and to Indiana's long journey out of racial hatred. Truly irony was served: Less than a century ago Indiana's center of power was ruled by the Ku Klux Klan; today that physical space is inhabited by a Center for leadership in peacemaking, bridgebuilding, reconciliation and justice. Equally true, "...the moral arc of history bends toward justice" as Martin Luther King reminded the nation 50 years ago.

The evening was filled with laughter...the Archbishop's hearty, cackling well as probing truths. There were too many to record, but here are a few:

  • God is NOT evenhanded. He is notoriously biased in favor of the downtrodden, the poor, and the outcast.
  • In 1994 the young people of the United States changed the moral climate of the world when they gathered again and again in protest of apartheid. "You had a popular president, named Ronald Reagan, who was against sanctions against South Africa. He vetoed legislation aimed at bringing down apartheid, but Congress overrode that veto. We thank them for changing history." At this point Tutu urged the crowd to pretend they were South African and express their thanks to that group of people....there was a loud ovation.
  • When the missionaries came to South Africa the Africans had the land and the white folks had the Bible. The missionaries said "let us pray" and when eyes reopened the white folks had the land and the Africans had the Bible. Most felt that the Africans got the raw end of the deal, but not Tutu. "Not so" exclaimed Tutu, "the last thing you want to give oppressed people is the Bible. It is revolutionary!"
  • "Which Bible do you read?" Tutu asked. The same question that was asked of those in apartheid's leadership. "The things we do are not by anything political, but by faith."  Micah 6:8 "What does the Lord require of you but to walk justly, love mercy, and walk humbly with God."
  • "Why was the Exodus a paradigmatic event? It is an insight into the nature of God. God didn't wait until the people were 'deliverable.' They were anything but a nice bunch; they were...slaves and a real pain in the ****. Those are the people God freed. Remember the story of Jesus and the lost sheep? The pictures always show a fluffy, nice sheep on his shoulders. Not so...the 'nice' ones stayed with their mommies; the ones in need of rescue left mommy's side & got dirty, cut, & bloodied going their own way.  Even in Christ's birth God chose a couple who couldn't even rate a room at the inn. Can you imagine anyone saying that the little boy running around Bethlehem was...GOD? God's standards are very low." 
  • Tutu reminded the crowd of the verse of Jesus "...if I be lifted up I will draw all men to me." All, all, all will be drawn into the Divine Embrace, he emphasized.
  • In response to "What would you say about America's role in the current Syria crisis?" Tutu: "Americans are smart people; you learned your lesson in 2003. Americans are the most generous people on earth. You are masters and mistresses of philanthropy. Why don't you drop food instead of bombs?"