Meeting a Parent for the last time.

In the beginning, a parent, for the most part, dictates the relationship that they’ll have with their child.  As the child matures and becomes an adult, it’s more 50/50.

I have had two fathers in my life. The first, of course, biological and the other, a step-father. As an adult, I chose to be distant from both. Neither possessed qualities that I liked or admired. One an alcoholic fighting his demons and the other, a dishonest man who “played games” with people’s minds.

The first passed away almost three years ago and the second, in late April of this year.

As a child and then an adult, I felt that I knew them well and that they, well, knew me.

When a parent dies, the “curtain” gets pulled back and you as their child, get to see how they really lived. If you’re curious enough, you look through the mountainous pile of paperwork left behind; bank statements, high school love letters, receipts and the 29 cent birthday card they bought sixty years ago. You find their box of knick-knacks, which to you, appears to be a box of miscellaneous odds and ends, but to them, each treasured item was a trip down memory lane.

If you’re thorough, you may have the rare joy of re-meeting your parents. Hopefully, as you sit amongst the enormous pile that chronicled their life, you are left uttering the words, “I had no idea…” and are pleasantly amazed.

But, peering behind the curtain can also be a double-edged sword.

The first peek left me with regret. We were more alike than I ever knew, both good and bad. I would liked to have known him better, but that, unfortunately, was not our way.

The second, I knew all too well and as I pulled the curtain tightly closed, I learned that with his death, the world is now, sadly, a better place.

 

 

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…and then you take a left at the Constitution…

With a highly visible media push, we are seeing a plethora of “new ideas” gaining traction or at least, the illusion of such. They range from reparations, the elimination of the electoral college and how embracing socialism can, amazingly, be considered a virtuous act.

There is even talk of lowering the voting age to 16. The speaker of the house suggested that America’s youth should be allowed to engage in the process earlier, which patently sounds honorable. Latently, however, the motive is obvious; America’s youth tend to vote Democrat. How the speaker of the house presented this with a straight face…

100 years from now, we won’t even recognize the place. Whether it will be good or bad, depends on the way today’s children raise their children and so on. The future should be fine. I mean, what could possibly go wrong?

It’s time to “own” yesterday…

In the early 1900’s, George Santayana wrote, “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” This aphorism is, arguably, one of the most important sentences ever written. It reminds us that history has an ugly habit of repeating itself.

Today, we appear hellbent on removing anything from our history that might be offensive or insulting. Our society has gone to great lengths to either ban or demonize examples of the Civil War, the Swastika, Communism, KKK and the like.

We have also banned “offensive” words and ideas, labeling them as “hate speech.” The media has made sure that every unpopular utterance faces the court of public opinion and then it forms a panel to debate the results.

We are “sanitizing” ourselves to death; literally.

These words, statues, monuments and groups represent our past; good, bad whatever. The emotions that they evoke are different for each viewer, ranging from indifferent to horrified. Whether we like it or not; It’s us.

We need to stop hiding from these “symbols” and embrace the lesson. Yes, I said embrace. We should replace the objects that were taken down and talk about them with our children.

They need to see and hear ALL of the details of the civil war, of slavery and victory; everything. If a Klan rally is nearby, they should see that too. The speakers, the hoods and the protesters.

Show the children the face of evil and what it sounds like. Let them hear the bygone words of those that supported slavery as well as those who stood opposed. Let them see and hear the voices of hate spoken by today’s members of white pride. Let them hear the sounds of wisdom and peace in the soothing words of Martin Luther King.

When we remove a monument, silence a dissenter or sanitize the details of our past, we are depriving our children of history’s crucial lessons. In addition, we are also failing to adequately prepare them for an uncertain future.

Our children must be shown the whole truth, including all of it’s ugliness. History has exacted a high price from humanity in hopes that future generations may benefit from the painful lessons learned.

Three Hours to Change a Life

In 1975, I was in the 5th grade and was struggling with math. Our class had about 28-30 students and the Teacher, Dona Millan, was a school favorite. When I finished the 4th grade, she was the Teacher that I hoped to be assigned to. I really didn’t know why, other than I had heard she was nice. Fortunately, the stars lined up and there I sat; content but with “math issues.”

Mrs. Millan said we needed to go fishing. There was a lake nearby that had Trout “planted” in it regularly and she kept a careful eye on their “planting” schedule. She called my Mother for permission and later that day, the two of us went to the lake. She carried fishing equipment in her car and soon we were standing on the sandy shore casting her version of a “trout line” into the water. She taught me to tie a “fisherman’s knot” and how to add 3-4 bait hooks to a single line. We fished, talked about everything BUT math and watched the Sun go down. She dropped me off at my house and that was that.

I had just experienced one of the best days of my life.

This “Teacher” had invested three hours of her precious personal time in one student with a math problem from a class of 28-30. The next day, I worked harder than ever. There was NO way that I was going to disappoint Mrs. Millan. My grades improved and to this day, I smile when I think of her. I later learned that she took as many students as she could fishing and I now understood why her students did so well and why every fourth grader wanted to be in her class.

Mrs. Millan was married and had a family, didn’t get paid extra for her efforts and had a large classroom of students, all anxious for her time. They almost had to drag me, kicking and screaming, from the fifth grade to the sixth.

Today, obviously, times have changed from 1975; schools, teachers and technology. The current dogma suggests that yesterday’s “thinking” is outdated and obsolete and that today’s “thinking” is progressive and improved. My “thinking” is that this “thinking” is “textbook” crap. A Teacher took three hours of her time. My Grand Children are handed iPads and headphones in class. I can hear the excuses already…