We would see flags displayed on Veterans Day when we were children and knew the day was about “soldiers.” I knew my dad had been a Marine and served in China toward the end of WWII.
I have a little jade goat he brought home– long before I was born. But when I was a child, I told people he bought it for me. Little did I understand that he spent not his money there, but his time there – for me.
How did this holiday of honor and remembrance begin? See story.
(S-R archive photo: U.S. Marines of the 28th Regiment, 5th Division, raise the American flag atop Mt. Suribachi, Iwo Jima, on Feb. 23, 1945.)
In a time I call BHE (Before Husband Era), a man who loved me held my hand and said, “Cathy, when you look at me with those big brown eyes, how can I ever say no to you?!” Never mind the man, the context or the reply. Those big brown eyes are causing problems these days – not relationship problems, but vision issues.
At a recent eye exam the doctor asked me if I had any concerns. So I told him about my eye fatigue when driving for more than 30 minutes and how tired my eyes felt after a few minutes at the computer. And, yes, when reading books I have to kinda hold my left lid up a bit to improve the field of vision.
“Hmmmm,” he said. Never a good response from a doc. Something catastrophic? He needs more time to think? Clueless? No, ptosis or eyelid drooping, an actual diagnosis of a medical condition with a surgical cure.
“What if you cut through my lid and slit my eyeball?” I asked.
The doc explained: humans have five layers of eyelid and he will cut through three of them. But when he said something about tinkering in there, and no chance of an eyeball slit since he will put metal shields over my actual eyeballs, I stopped listening because I wanted to throw up.
“Cathy, many people actually come to me and pay for this procedure as a cosmetic improvement. You need it to see and function better and you need both eyes done,” he said.
So, this morning my man of HE (Husband Era) will drive me to the outpatient surgery center, where I will undergo a little local anesthesia, hopefully preceded by strong, relaxing drugs, and then a little tinkering will lift my eyelids up.
How will this event turn out? I guess I’ll see.
(S-R archive photo)
Many baby boomers have spent days in conferences, workshops and endless events learning about leadership. As someone who supervised others for over 20 years, I remember when we were all “shifting our paradigms” and of course, “thinking outside the box.” Never did find the box. Now we are focused on who may be “throwing someone under the bus.” I actually walked outside one day and came in to report “there is no bus and therefore no one is under it. What are you trying to tell me?” Today, the jargon includes “transformational leadership,” transforming others, of course with “robust conversations.” Oh, please.
The leaders I admire are people who lead with self-confidence, not seminar jargon. Good leaders take the long view of the future and empower talented workers to do their jobs – then give those workers the tools as well as credit for their success. My management training came not from seminars and conferences, but from working with leaders possessing compassion, grace and wisdom. And humor.
Authentic leaders must be concerned about doing the right thing for the organization, leading with confidence and compassion as well as admitting their own limitations. When people lead with humility and self-awareness as well as vision for the future – employees follow eagerly.
Author Chris Lowney, a former Jesuit seminarian, has written a book on leadership “Pope Francis: Why He Leads the Way He Leads.” Lowney claims that Francis is simply being who he is – not trying to act like a pope.
Lowney writes: “Be comfortable in your own skin. Know who you are, the good and the bad. And find the courage not just to be yourself, but to be the best version of yourself. These are the foundations of self-leadership, and all leadership starts with self-leadership because you can’t lead the rest of us if you can’t lead yourself.”
Makes perfect, paradigm-shifting, papal sense.
(S-R archive photo: Pope Francis wears an indigenous headdress given to him by Ubirai Matos from the Pataxo tribe, fourth from left, after the pontiff spoke at Rio's Municipal Theater to an audience mostly made up of Brazil's political, business and cultural elite in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Saturday, July 27, 2013.)
If you were in a critically compromised health state (you determine what that means), would you choose to discontinue your life?
An Indiana man did exactly that after suffering a fall. Tim Bowers, 32, fell out of a tree while hunting, crushing his C3, C4 and C5 vertebrae. He would need constant care, including ventilator-assisted breathing, for the rest of his life. Family and care givers asked Tim if he wanted to continue his life and he emphatically shook his head “no.”
Tim died peacefully with friends and loved ones at his side.
(S-R archive photo: Lovely R. Suanino, a respiratory therapist at Newark Beth Israel Medical Center in Newark, N.J., demonstrates setting up a ventilator.)
When will torturing and teasing and intimidation be seen for what those behaviors may really be? Bullying.
No matter the $$$ in one’s wallet or age or social status; to oppress, hound, mistreat or harass another person is to bully that person. It is what it is, no matter how you dress it up – even if you wear an NFL jersey.
At Mass on Sunday a man came in and sat in the pew ahead of us. He may live on the streets, given his appearance and apparent lack of access to personal hygiene. And he may have mental health issues. I wondered about him, never having seen him before in our church – which welcomes anyone and many of our “anyones” are poor and marginalized folks. I wondered if I should take my purse with me to Communion and not leave it in the pew.
Before Mass he walked over and asked the music director if he could play the piano for a moment. The music director said yes and the man played for a minute or two. Lovely music with sophisticated chords came from his cracked and dirty fingers. He returned to his seat.
Father Jim preached about the Gospel when Jesus welcomes in the least likely – little Zaccheus – a wealthy tax collector not known for his ethics who climbs the tree to see Jesus, but not so much be seen. Jesus calls him down and welcomes him. An unlikely pair perhaps, according to Jesus’ faithful and devoted regulars. But as Father Jim noted, God sees beyond what we see in each other and into hearts, lives and our journeys. God sees goodness where we may not…
After the homily when the collection basket moved among the pews, the man reached into his pocket and pulled out all the coins he could reach, dropping them into the basket. I didn’t gasp or cry, but I wanted to. His generous heart and apparent limited means seemed a contradiction. We shook hands at the Sign of Peace and he eagerly reached to all of us around him. He processed to Communion, asking only a blessing, then settled back comfortably into his place. After Mass I looked around to see if he was getting coffee or food, and then I heard him – at the piano.
On Sunday I heard God’s Word proclaimed in Luke’s Gospel, but the louder message came straight from a piano keyboard, where an unknown generous man played classical music with his cracking, dirty hands.
(S-R archive photo)
With our country saturated with violence, we can easily become desensitized to the mayhem and evil.
At LAX on Friday, another man, with a gun and the determination to kill, took another person’s life. It seems the least we can do is take a moment to learn about the man, Gerardo I. Hernandez, who lost his life – a man who went to LAX to earn a living, supporting his family whom he loved. May his family and friends find comfort and peace in the difficult days ahead.
(S-R archive photo)
We have all suffered something: loss, disappointment, pain. But Roya Cohen suffered horrible trauma as a young teen: she was sexually assaulted – twice.
Now she is taking steps to heal: she is dancing. When Roya heard her dance instructor tell her, “You need to be strong. You need to keep your space. Don't let me walk over you,” she heard lessons for life.
Roya has been transformed by her steps on the dance floor and wants to share this avenue for healing with other girls who have suffered trauma similar to her own. She is raising money for dance class scholarships so any victimized girl who wants to step out on the floor at Diamond Ballroom in Kirkland, Wash. will be able to dance toward a life of healing and hope.
(S-R archive photo)
All Saints’ Day today: we often think of saints as the officially named people who died as great martyrs centuries ago. But sometimes saints live among us – in the heroic actions of humble people we encounter.
Last month Darnell Barton started his day as usual: picking up high school students on his bus route. When he noticed a woman in distress – preparing to jump to her death – he stopped. And saved her from jumping.
Perspective means everything. No matter the despair human beings suffer, when another person offers hope, our world view – and view of ourselves in the world – can shift dramatically. Darnell Barton saved a woman from plummeting to her death – and offered her a glimpse of the goodness we are capable of giving to each other. Seems he has more than “a little bit of all right” going on.
We remember the images of rain, wind, storm surge and massive destruction brought by Superstorm Sandy along the East Coast one year ago. The re-building continues with drywall and insulation as well as courage. Lots and lots of courage.
Perhaps most poignant were images of nurses and other hospital staff tending to the infants – some with serious medical conditions. Staff carried infants down several flights of stairs while watching monitors, and listening for directions in the midnight darkness, “Step, step, step…” They evacuated the powerless building and got those babies and their families transported safely to other hospitals.
One year later all those babies are active toddlers now – healthy and moving forward: step, step, step.
(S-R archive photo: Queens, N.Y.)
A person raised in extreme poverty may suffer long-lasting consequences – showing up on one’s brain. Chronic stress caused by poverty actually shows up on the brain and may be the cause of physical and mental ailments later in life.
Social workers include childhood poverty in a term titled “ACEs” or Adverse Childhood Experiences. Poverty, neglect, abuse, trauma, all may contribute to challenges in adulthood, challenges from mild learning disabilities to criminal behavior.
As we look at our society and wonder how to address challenging problems, perhaps the answer is in part at the very beginning: good pre-natal care for pregnant women and education, support and opportunities for families. Seems the very least we can offer our children is a secure beginning.
(S-R archives photo)
She is back! That lovable, fallible character created by Helen Fielding: Bridget Jones. She is “of a certain age” now. A boomer? Bridget lives in a world of email, tweets and twitter, a life well-lived. Perhaps. Is Daniel still hanging around? Her hunky man, Mark Darcy? Is she still a “top-notch journalist”?
Fielding's book “Mad about the Boy” takes the reader into Bridget’s life once again. But who is the boy?
Today, Rebecca Nappi writes words of good-bye as she leaves the Spokesman-Review. I will miss my friend on these pages.
We met in college 40 years ago - 40 years! As college freshmen, we were clueless about almost everything as we innocently explored the world, in a Gonzaga dorm and later through the streets of Florence. We have seen each other through good times and bad – that meant boyfriends and weird hairstyles and what will happen next?! in the college years and soon it meant post-graduation plans. When classmates would ask each of us our plans, I could recite her spiel “graduate school at Columbia, the one in Missouri.” And she could explain mine: “going to work at a Catholic Church as the education director.” After 1977, we bridged the miles with letters and sometimes phone calls. We hold memories and a few secrets from those years, years before husbands and life choices and the drama of adulthood.
The 40 years between friends offers gifts of mutual acceptance and a shared history we never need to explain. Inside jokes (praayyeerr!) and the occasional reminiscing of who we once were – the young women who still live beneath the aging faces - nurture a connection not found with others who never knew the Becky and Cathy of decades ago. We know the blessing of long-term friendship and cherish its gifts.
Becky, through the years you have been a faithful friend, a sturdy shelter – not only to me, but to the community. I am certain you will never know the impact of your work on readers’ lives. You are a truth-teller. You venture into the corners of life and shine light – with words, compassion and great insight. Your legacy remains. As you transition to your encore career, we will miss you on these pages, but your readers and friends send you forth with great gratitude and affection. May your gifts continue to bless, educate and inspire others.
(S-R archive photo)
So this, my farewell story, ran in today's Spokesman-Review. After 28 years here, I'm trading journalism for an encore career in health care. And this blog officially now belongs to my co-writer Catherine Johnston. Thanks for reading EndNotes. Please continue reading. And thanks for reading the newspaper, too. It helps journalism stay alive and kicking! Blessings, Becky.
Have you ever wondered what has happened inside your home before you lived in it? Ever wonder if someone died in your home?
Now there is a website (of course) where you can seek that information. www.DiedInHouse.com reportedly will give you that information. One search will cost you $11.99; costs increase with each request.
If someone has taken their last breath in the home where you now live, what, if any would you fear? As for me, I am more worried about any unwanted living guests. Seems the Halloween season is a good time to promote this interesting “service” (see story).
(S-R archive photo)
Earlier this week a Western Washington family opened the casket of their loved one to say a last good-bye and found – another man’s body (story).
Somehow the bodies were mixed up and the body of the man people thought was in the casket had been cremated. The deceased's wishes included the feeling he was terrified of the cremation process and wanted his body to be buried.
Must we re-create the honoring of our deceased loved ones to include “safeguarding” their bodies? Some cultures have a family member remain with the body from time of death to burial or cremation. Seems that in the intimate process of what happens to a loved one’s remains, we must demand zero tolerance of errors.
(S-R archive photo: Spokane sunset as seen from Cliff Drive overlook.)
Many of us have prescription medications we needed after surgery or for a specific illness – and many of us have those leftover or outdated medications still in the cabinet. Keeping them can be dangerous: we can inadvertently grab those unneeded meds when groping in the medicine cabinet for aspirin or another medication or guests, maybe grandchildren, can access those drugs we no longer need.
On Saturday you can get rid of those drugs – safely.
Saturday is National Take-Back Initiative: from 10:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m. law enforcement groups across the country will receive your outdated and/or unused prescription medications. Check the website for a location near your home.
(S-R archive photo)
Another study just released suggests the oldest child in a family may be smarter and more successful in life than the younger siblings. Hmmm.
We all know people for whom this theory seems correct. And we all know families where it does not fit - at all.
The attention and care given to a child, opportunities for education, healthy relationships and nurturing circumstances as well as the genetic lottery each person inherits may be more influential factors.
(S-R archive photo: Students stand in a school courtyard as they wait for the first day of classes to begin, in Mexico City, Monday, Aug. 19, 2013. )
A recent study by The Opportunity Nation coalition claims that 15 percent of Americans from 16-24 years old are not in school or working. Concluding that the rest of the young adults are up to no good or floundering.
Rob Denson, president of Des Moines Area Community College in Iowa said, “If they're not in school or at work, they're not usually doing something positive.”
Commentary on the study fails to account for young adults who choose other options, such as military service or volunteer opportunities, like AmeriCorps, the Peace Corps or faith-based volunteer groups.
Before we assume what the rest of our young people are doing, perhaps we better look at all our 16-24 year-old-citizens – and acknowledge their choices beyond the “either work or school” viewpoint.
(S-R archive photo:U.S. Army Medal of Honor)
Scientists at UCLA have discovered a new “biological clock” that measures the age of human tissue. If future testing proves the research valid, the work has strong implications for anti-aging-research. Note: the goal is not to seek a fountain of youth, but to assist with diagnosing and treating disease.
Interesting findings include: women’s breast tissue ages faster than the rest of the body; cancerous tissue is on average 36 years older than other tissue.
(S-R: A mother and baby sketch by artist Valerie Woelk)