Advertise Here


Posts tagged: EndNotes

Keeping the promise

Holocaust survivors ask that history remember their stories. Today, we remember the remarkable life of Yehuda Nir, a psychiatrist and Jewish man who, as a child, escaped certain murder by the Nazis. Nir died on Saturday in his Manhattan home at 84 years old.

He pretended to be a Catholic in German-occupied Poland. His Jewish identity was almost revealed when he asked a woman what day Christmas was on that year. She figured he was not a Catholic. He told her he would expose her affair, if she told the truth about his identity. He had no idea she was having an affair, but she was. She never spoke a word.

Nir, his mother and older sister eventually made their way to Palestine. He came to the United States in 1959 for medical residencies.

As a psychiatrist, Nir brought healing to others who suffered trauma, children and Holocaust survivors as well as their children. Nir served as a chief of child psychiatry at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center for seven years (1979 to 1986).

As survivors of the Holocaust die, we must continue to listen to their stories - and live their lessons of courage, of reverence for life.

Today, we remember Yehuda Nir.

(S-R archive photo)


James Garner – what a guy

He was smart, sexy and still a regular guy. James Garner, 86, died in Los Angeles at his home on Saturday. His film and television legacy leaves us with entertainment to remember.

Garner starred in more than 50 films. He appeared in comedies, a jederman, everyone, playing a character we either identified with or simply loved. 

Garner was a man who grew up in hardship, leaving home at 14 after a violent episode with his stepmother; but he created a life of opportunity as he took on various jobs: dishwasher, janitor, gas station attendant.  Years later, he returned from his military service in Korea, he worked as a carpet layer for his dad. One day he was driving and saw a sign with the name of an acquaintance – now an agent – so Garner stopped in to chat. Garner was soon hired in a non-speaking role. So began his career.

Garner’s personal approach to acting? “Be on time, know your words, hit your marks, and tell the truth.” Good advice for any profession. 

(S-R archive photo: James Garner, 2004)

Flight MH 17 passengers remembered

Flight MH17 shot down over the Ukraine carried people who passionately loved life – and some of those people shared their remarkable skills seeking to cure HIV AIDS.

The plane carried world leaders headed for the International AIDS Conference hosted this year in Melbourne. Dutch researcher Joep Lange, who has worked in AIDS research and treatment since 1983, was on board with his partner, Jacqueline van Tongeren.

Media reports state nearly 100 passengers who were AIDS advocates, leaders, and humanitarians were on flight MH17 headed to the conference.

When tragedy so encompassing overwhelms us, I am reminded of Henry David Thoreau’s mandate not to retreat from life, but to passionately persevere:

“On the death of a friend, we should consider that the fates through confidence have devolved on us the task of a double living, that we have henceforth to fulfill the promise of our friend's life also, in our own, to the world.”  

We pause in solidarity with all families, friends and leaders who grieve this unfathomable tragedy. May those attending the AIDS conference in Melbourne hold the memory of their colleagues in their hearts as they continue their commitment to ending HIV/AIDS, fulfilling the promise of friends' lives, too.

(S-R photo)

More, again, still - enough

The desire to retain position at the cost of victims continues within the Catholic Church. St. Paul-Minneapolis Archbishop John C. Nienstedt refuses to resign while the scandal surrounding him continues.

Former chancellor, Jennifer M. Hasleberger, filed an affidavit claiming while the archbishop was informed of pedophile priests, he did nothing. Haselberger’s documents also claim the archbishop, “…declined to report suspected abusers to civil authorities; failed to monitor sex offenders in the clergy; and in various ways violated the Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People written by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops.”

Violence against children and other vulnerable people is a crime. The Church is morally and legally responsible to protect those persons it claims to shepherd. Enough.

(S-R archive photo: St. Peter's Square, Vatican City)

The children must die…no more

The children who are deemed mingi children in Omo Valley, Ethiopia must die.  Mingi children are those born out of wedlock, or have their top teeth appear before the bottom teeth or other defined situations are considered mingi; their very lives bring a curse upon the tribe. Killing these children – through suffocation, drowning or starvation - has been the practice in the remote Omo Valley in Ethiopia – until two years ago when tribesman Lale Labuko was able to convince the tribe that the time of mingi was over.

Labuko worked with American John Rowe, a retired executive who traveled to the Omo Valley to photograph the remote community. After years of serving as Rowe’s guide, Labuko confided in the mingi secret and asked for Rowe’s help in stopping the practice.

The two men created the Omo Child organization saving 40 beautiful children from certain death. The heroic work continues…

Mama Birds

The Mama Bird arrived late in the season. She feverishly created a nest in our impatiens plant that hangs in a basket outside our front door. And then: we opened the front door. Mama Bird flew at us and squawked wildly.  “Settle down!” I implored.  I assured her she would be fine. I, too, arrived at motherhood later than my peers. “You’ll do fine. More life experience, broader world view.” Now I exit quietly and she stays in her nest.

I did peek in yesterday when Mama Bird had left for coffee or perhaps meeting up at the bird bath with her friends. And alas, a little baby bird peered back. Hopefully, Mama Bird knows where the best baby bird grub lives…

A high school friend arrived home to Minnesota earlier this year with her three little daughters. She worked tirelessly – for years and years – to adopt them and bring them home from Latin America. She is 60, and the girls will soon be on the brink of puberty. “You'll do fine. More life experience, broader world view.”

That Mama knows the rewards of working hard to build her nest.

When we are young, we have plans and naively believe life will unfold accordingly. Life offers different timelines, still we persevere. And if we pause, we really can hear the birds sing. 

(S-R archive photo: three baby Masked Lovebirds, Singapore)

“But who wears the dress?!”

Spent time with two sweet girls this week – 7 and 10 years old. We talked about the summer and how we are all busy with weddings. I attended two weddings of my husband’s colleagues. One couple now has a blended family with six children. The recessional from the ceremony was the theme from “The Brady Bunch.” Everyone giggled, cooed and cried.

The little girls told me of one upcoming wedding they will attend: “Our great cousin! And she is marrying a girl.” I commented, yes, girls sometimes marry other girls and boys sometimes marry other boys. When I asked if they were excited about the wedding, they both looked perplexed.

“Cathy, we have a question about our ‘great’s wedding’ ”

Hmm. I thought this conversation could get interesting.

“What is the question?”

“Well, if there are two girls getting married, who wears the dress?!”

I laughed. So sweet. Still, weddings come down to fashion curiosity.

“Well, you will have to go and see! Maybe both of them will wear dresses – or neither or just one of them. They can wear what they want,” I said.

The little one smiled: “Oh, I hope both of them do, that would be best.”

(S-R archive photo)

The children

A man kills five children in Texas… a woman gets off a subway, pushes a stroller with her toddler in it onto the platform and re-boards the train…children are fleeing violence in Central America and people in Murrieta, Calif. protest their arrival…Enrique rides atop trains, a dangerous journey, out of Honduras to find his mom in the U.S. She left years ago, seeking work so she could send money to her starving family.

Children in our families or scores arriving from a foreign land deserve what each person inherently longs for: safety and love. The stories this week are heart-breaking and complicated. And while leaders ponder political and humanitarian options, the children continue to suffer.

(S-R photo: Demonstrators from opposing sides confront each other outside a U.S. Border Patrol station in Murrieta, Calif.)

The power of good

I read a lot of nonsense on Facebook, but then this story popped up today. In a world gone mad with adulation for rock stars and Kardashians – ugh – I love reading about people with courage and humility.

Sir Nicholas Winton is one man whose compassion saved 669 children from the Holocaust. Today those 669 people have more than 15,000 descendants. He got children out of Czechoslovakia and into England before the Nazis could claim them. When he wrote to the U.S. asking our country to accept these children, the written reply said, “The United States is unable…”

Winton – at 104 years old - gives this advice to others: always be prepared to do good in the world.


A first step…toward healing

Pope Francis met with six victims of sexual assault; people who had trusted clerics, but were victimized through sex crimes. (Why do they call it “sexual abuse”? As though there is some standard of “sexual use” that is acceptable? It is a word thing, I know.)

The pontiff spoke of the need to address not only the criminal priests, but also the bishops who did nothing or little when learning of specific men who committed these crimes. He asked for forgiveness of the Church for its inattention.

Francis has appointed a special commission to address the sex crimes scandal, and included in that team a prominent Irish victim who is now an advocate.

The Rev. Federico Lombardi, the Vatican spokesman, acknowledged the meeting is an important step on the long road to healing – and restoring faith in the hierarchy of the Catholic Church.

We can only hope.

(S-R photo: Pope Francis I)

We are Americans, a country of other

On this 4th of July holiday weekend, it is nice to remember the attraction of our country: to live in a land where we are free to worship as we wish, to love whom we love and to explore opportunities we desire. Joe Nocera writes of his Italian heritage and how he and his elderly mom now view their diverse community.

(S-R archive photo: Florence, Italy)

Twelve little girls, in their lines

The stories are now 75 years old: those Madeline books of our childhood. She was one of 12 little girls, in their lines, leaving a house covered in vines. Madeline is on exhibit in New York at the New York Historical Society.

The books, written by Ludwig Bemelmans, continue to delight children.  He was an Austrian immigrant to the United States. He wrote the first book on the back of a menu in Pete’s Tavern in Manhattan. Bemelmens wrote four other Madeline books before his 1962 death. His grandson continues to pen the stories.

Life magazine first published the Madeline story – the week World War II began. And while the story is set in France, French children have not appreciated Madeline as Americans have. The France in the stories reflects an imagined, not realistic Paris.

Still, the stories continue to delight children. And after the exhibit closes in October, the story of Madeline’s stories while live forever at the Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art in Amherst, Mass. Some gold does stay forever.

(S-R archive photo: John Bemelmans Marciano, grandson of Ludwig Bemelmans, 2008)

StoryCorps: voices that inspire

If stories come to you, care for them. And learn to give them away where they are needed. Sometimes a person needs a story more than food to stay alive.
—Barry Lopez, in Crow and Weasel

Our stories help to heal. When we tell our story, others may need to hear of our experience and be inspired. And when we tell our own story, we give ourselves a chance to heal, celebrate, remember.

StoryCorps gave Jordan Kemper a chance to tell her story of homelessness, her journey to hope and a new life. 

(S-R photo: Morning fog covers the valleys near Bernbeuren, southern Germany, at sunrise )

50 years since Civil Rights Act

The men were teens and believed the new law was enough. The Civil Rights Act of 1964 made it illegal to discriminate against anyone based on race, color, sex or national origin at schools, workplaces, voting booths and “public accommodations.”

In 1964, the nine black teens from Bessemer, Alabama walked into the heart of their town, into a store with a small lunch counter, and sat down on the side previously designated for whites only.

Soon they were told they couldn’t sit there. Soon men with baseball bats arrived. The teens were hit; they fought back and escaped, but one was so brutally beaten he had to be hospitalized. The FBI “investigated” the crime, but supposedly the assailants could not be identified.

Five of the nine men are alive today and recall their story of courage and how that one act of courage changed their lives. 

Retirement: Last day at work

My husband retired yesterday.  He is one of 10,000 baby boomers who retire each day in our country. He had 10 people who reported to him and they loved him. At lunch yesterday, a few of the guys started saying numbers “six,” “three.” When my husband asked what they were talking about, one answered:  “We are betting how many months until you get bored and want to find another job.”                                                                                  

What they have been told, but may not believe: it is not the work my husband will miss, but the incredible friendships. The workplace becomes our daytime home and often colleagues feel like members of our extended family. These people work together, but also offer each other comfort, support, laughter and kindness when tragedy or unexpected life events occur. Tasks get done and the list continues, but what people remember most are the relationships. My husband wrote in his final email:

“…the people you lead give you the honor of being their leader.  I was given that honor by a great group of people.  We have worked closely; we sometimes argued, but in the end we were always striving to have fun while we work…Thank you for being candid with me.  Thank you for telling me when you disagree and working to find a better way.  Thank you for making me proud of our work.  Thank you for making me laugh.  I will remember you always…”

My husband turned in his “company car” and waited for me to pick him up. He was joined by ten people who hugged him, joked with him and carried his belongings. They slipped a silly photo in among his things. They confessed a few stories, “Now that you are no longer our supervisor…” They told him nothing he didn’t already know. They all laughed. As my husband climbed into the car, he was given the best send-off of all: “Remember, we are meeting on Saturday in a few weeks. Beer and chicken wings!”

The job is over, but the friendships - the best retirement gift of all - continue.

(S-R archive photo)

Words that bind us in love

Sometimes I read columns or stories for which I have no adequate words –and that is precisely the focus of Joseph Luzzi’s column about his Italian father – bellissima! 

Irish babies

An earlier blog posted stories from Ireland about the babies who died at the Catholic-run orphanages – working houses for unmarried, young mothers.  Apparently, some of the stories were embellished or misunderstood or misreported.

A story from Monday continues the discussion on a sad and confusing part of Irish history. 

(S-R archive photo)

Faith, home and love

Murphy was lost for two years – and is finally home. The family dog, Murphy, was lost on a family camping trip in the Tahoe National Forest, but the family never gave up hope of a reunion.

Murphy was spotted by a camper earlier this month and the family was notified. They arrived with those items most attractive to our pets – the dog’s blanket and the family’s “scent” – via their clothing.

The plan worked. Murphy returned to the items and was found sleeping on them.

We love our pets who love us. Unconditional love is hard to come by and is worth going back to the woods to find.

(S-R archive photo: Dogwoods)

One more week

My husband retires in one more week. The journey has been looonnnnggg. Mostly, his commute on that freeway has been miserable. Soon, he will commute to the mailbox, golf course and woodworking store, when he likes.  

We will manage new routines, expectations and activities. I have listened to others along the way and am working on my fantasies – I mean realistic expectations. I am quite confident ballroom dancing is not in my future – although I wish it were. I can give that one up. I am hoping for morning walks - I know, not every day. And some yard work, please.

Writer Nancy Anderson suggests retirees make a 100-day plan – like a newly elected president writes. Seems such a plan may smooth the transition process.

My husband certainly has a plan, I suspect. His only request so far: allow him to sleep as long as he likes for one month. Seems reasonable.

One week…and one month…and counting.

(S-R archive photo)

The cost of $ports

We remember him as the sassy, scrambling quarterback of the Chicago Bears. Today, Jim McMahon struggles with dementia and depression – results of his head injuries from football, he says.

McMahon is part of a class-action lawsuit against the NFL. The league agreed to a $765 million settlement without acknowledging it hid the risks of concussions from former players. A federal judge in California has not approved the settlement, claiming the amount is insufficient.  

Many former players suffer from head injuries as well as injuries to the rest of their body. Sometimes players are not told of the medical findings or are not thoroughly examined when they are carried or limp off the field. The injuries last long after victory is won – or lost – at the game. The abuse must stop; the league must acknowledge their secrets that harmed these athletes and compensate them. The league cannot afford to pass.

(S-R archive photo: Former Chicago Bears player and head coach Mike Ditka.)

Get blog updates by email

About this blog

Writer Catherine Johnston of Olympia, Wash., addresses issues facing aging baby boomers and seniors as well as issues of serious illness, death and dying, grief and loss.

Ask a question: Catherine welcomes questions about aging issues and grief. Email her at

Search this blog
Subscribe to this blog
Advertise Here