I’m Alive But I Don’t Know Why

Sebastian and I met when we were twelve. We danced around the fact that we were perfect for each other until we were about 30 and then we got serious. He wanted an heir and I suggested he adopt.

Enter Lucas, 4, a mischief maker but he loves his new Papa and someday soon Mama too much to do harm. But he’s not really happy.  He made a friend in orphanage called Emma.

Papa went to see if Emma was still there, and she was! And she missed Lucas, too.

And then a few weeks later, the orphanage called to ask if we would adopt Stephan and Sara, the two homeless children who had taken care of Emma when she’d gone homeless. We said yes.

I visited France, Italy, Greece, etc. often. You see, in the years we’d been apart, Sebastian had become a multi-billionaire. I was Wyoming. But it worked.

Almost a month ago, as they all waited for breakfast to be announced at his house in Italy, the house exploded, killing all of them and of course all of our staff.

I know that I am alive. I wonder why.


So … I need advise (2)

I  got a lot of likes on the original post on this topic, which I like a lot, and I acquired a few new followers which I like even better, but I didn’t get a word of advice.

So I’m left to my own resources.

I won’t tell him. It can’t help him or TaylorJade at this point, and I’m not going to unadopt the boy to compensate for sudden angst on his father’s part, so there’s no need.

I didn’t mention in my previous post but it seems relevant — this emotional baggage throwing me out of his life (again) is almost 40.

So… I need advice

My son has, once again, evicted me from his life. I went as I always do, not stopping this time to tell him that I’ve lived a hard life and at 62 my body is beginning to show the signs of that hard life and we may never meet again. I wouldn’t do that to him.

But, should I do this? Should I tell him that he really does have a son, and I really do have custody of him and his name TaylorJade and he lives with the other four children my French husband and I adopted, in an undisclosed place?

He doesn’t want and never did want children. This one was a mistake. She was little more than a one-night stand and she wasn’t sure if he wore a condom and it failed or if he maybe had had a vasectomy that didn’t hold, but she got pregnant. and by the time she knew it, she was a half a continent away from him and wasn’t sure she remembered his name.

She moved back to Seattle when she got sick, hoping she could find him again and he would take the boy. What she found instead was her own mother, a raging alcoholic who scared the snot out of that little boy and that turned out to be a good thing, later, when I was fighting for his custody.

A friend called me and said there was a custody issue in Seattle that I should be aware of because the boy had my blood. I was, needless to say, a bit curious, so I investigated and I flew out and I found that lost little boy sitting in that courtroom for reasons I cannot understand, and I approached him during a break when no one seemed to be noticing him and simply handed him a bottle of juice and piece of fudge.

I walked away. Needless to say, I had a friend. He demanded to know who I was and why I was there and when I told him that I was also his grandmother but I didn’t drink alcohol and I didn’t like people who scared children.

He said with the logic of children, “Then why don’t you ask the judge to let you have me?”

“He would think since I walk with crutches, you wouldn’t mind me.”

“Yes, I would,” he said hotly. “Those crutches aren’t what it’s about. It’s about your eyes. Your eyes say, straighten up, Kid.”

I laughed. They do.

We went back into the courtroom when the break was over, one little hand holding a crutch as I walked.

He introduced me to the judge who looked up with genuine interest. You can’t know TaylorJade and not like him. He’s a wonderful child who invites kindness.

“Why do you walk with crutches?” the judge asked me at once.

“Vertigo,” I smiled, gesturing to the young man who had been sitting in the courtroom with me and then just waited for me to come back with TaylorJade.

“I also have narcolepsy, Your Honor,” I said honestly. “This is Peter. He is 18 and belongs to a Wyoming sect that is a religious group that believes that God put us here to do our best by each other for as long as we may live. Peter is in my employ and I hope shall remain there, Sir. I hired him to be TaylorJade’s companion.”

To make a long story short, TaylorJade is mine. I adopted him with the full consent of the court that day, and he lives with our other four children where it is highly unlikely they can be kidnapped for their father’s money. We see them at least once a week and talk on the phone at least three times a week.

Do I tell my son he did father a son? Or do I leave him in his happy peace? Advice would be much appreciated.


The Redeeming Characteristics of Blogs

I’ve been away a while. My blog cannot nag. It doesn’t even intrude itself upon my consciousness. It’s quiet.

And when I return, it’s friendly. It accepts my words without a fuss.

A blog is undemanding, almost like a teddy bear, except the blog isn’t furry.

We Didn’t Pay Attention

Until we found that one of them had mined uranium from one wall of the Grand Canyon, causing instability in the other three walls, which in turn caused the entire Grand Canyon to fold in upon itself, a pile of dusty rubble like all the other piles of dusty rubble.

Until we visited the Redwood National Forest and found that it no longer existed. That it had been cut to death and now adorned decks all over the world.

Until there were men in unfamiliar suits marching in our streets, pointing guns at our children, sacking our churches, and destroying our icons of local history. They even changed our language. They sent women home from their workplaces to make dinner for their men, but they cowed and beat those men until they weren’t men anymore. They sent our children to their schools, where they are learning to hate and kill and speak a language we do not speak, yet we are bludgeoned in the streets if we speak our own.

We will differ on the meaning of the second amendment. This is mine: We have the right to form a militia to bear arms against a dictator in the White House or any man or woman in the White House who means and does harm to the United States of America. Why don’t we?

Summary Execution by Michael Withey

Wild Blue Press asked me to review this book. In order to do that, I have to read it. I am four chapters into it and I am hopelessly lost in a myriad of names and acronyms.

Two men known well by the author were murdered and it has a lot to with Seattle unions in 1981. Thos two men must have had the most prodigiously huge family, or the entire union was in attendance at the hospital because names came flying out of nowhere, Dozens and dozens of names, and then marches were arranged and bulletproof vests and firearms training and petitions were got up and everyone got active.  And then the author was working with the police and apologizing to them for their being overbearing assholes and yeah.

I have to be able to read it before I can review it, but I think the author needs to go back to square one and maybe add a cast of characters at the beginning of the book like Agatha Christie used to do so all these people make sense. And add a table of unions and government agencies and their acronyms so readers can just flip back to the front and figure out who all these actors are. I think but I’m not sure that there were like fifteen acronyms on one page.

This is fine for those who were there and the author was, but I wasn’t. I need to understand what he knew. He is assuming too much of his readers. We weren’t there. Don’t just name names. Paint a picture and carry us along with you.

Do I sound like my head is spinning? It is. I could go back and count the number of people slammed into the first four chapters, and the agencies, and the governmental bodies, but I can never explain what possessed the author to apologize to the police for being assholes to him.

I don’t like this book, but I think that came clear. I think it needs major revision before it’s going to rise to the level of a true crime story, which is what I think it’s trying to be. I’m not sure. But I think so,.

I love my imagination

I think I’ve mentioned that I’d rather write fiction than a factual blog. So here I was, agonizing over my soon to be overdrawn checking account and decided that was too depressing and then I thought about a dozen other things and decided those were too depressing.

So I’ll stick with what hit my imagination. I was sitting in a big room with a curved love seat behind my huge desk with (yes) orange cushions on it.

Suddenly, two very happy boys of about 10 or so, dressed in winter coats, raced into the room and dropped onto the really ugly couch, shedding 1960’s style polyester filled green coats on the floor.

“Hi,” I said without enthusiasm.

“We’re hiding,” the one closer to me said at once.

“From what?” I asked, not very interested.

“The monster on the next blog,” the same fellow said.

I gazed calmly at him.

He nodded. “In this world, the blog posts come to life. So if a man posts about his anger, an angry man is on that page and he’s real, So once we saw a man who posted about WC Fields who says children are best parboiled. We got away from him fast because he looked hungry.”

“So what actually scared you?” I asked, not aware of any angry man posts or other intimidation or violence on Word Press blogs.

“There’s this guy who has this little Leggo guy who keeps getting killed and just gets up and fights again, which isn’t even logical, but the thing is, this guy is a fighter and he’s looking for his next fight. We’re not it.”

“The little Leggo guy is looking for a fight and that scares you?” I asked incredulously. “That little suicide guy isn’t an inch tall.”

“No, not that Leggo guy,” the second boy said, sounding almost angry. “The guy who created him. That guy, the man who has the blog. It’s his persona you see in this world and that guy has some pretty strange thoughts.”

“Careful,” I said mildly.

“What?” the boy asked, surprised.

“The guy who created that little suicide guy is my son. He wouldn’t hurt a kid on a bet and don’t be dissin on my boy. I like you both well enough, but I’ll feed you to the next angry post if you say one more word against my son.”

They exchanged a quick look and grabbed their coats.

I got up and grabbed them, and dragged them next door, where, indeed, my son sat, larger than life, at a desk surrounded by glass-front bookcases. I wondered if mine had inspired his, but it wasn’t time for that.

“Hi,” he said calmly, the utterly unflappable my fairly emotional teenager had turned out to be. “Friends?”

“Boys who think you’re strange and scary.”

He nodded. “I am. Funny they realized it, though. They’re not 8 if even that.”

“I am so!” the first boy who had spoken spat at him. “I’m ten years old, Mister,”

My son nodded, recognizing what I had not. “And your brother is older than you?” he asked the boy who was 10.

“He is not,” he spat. “He’s 9.”

My son nodded. “And you’re lost and frightened because you’re in blog world and don’t know how to get back to reality. Or am I wrong.”

“Shut up,” the younger boy told the older, and to my surprise, he did.

The younger boy turned to my son. “You’re right. It was like a window we fell through and then it was gone. Do you know where it is?”

“That window? No,” my son said calmly. “But I do know how to get you out of here. But I’m not going to just release you to the streets of Seattle without keepers. Where are your parents?”

“They put us here,” the rational smaller child said. “They pushed us through that window and said good riddance to bad rubbish. We’re not perfect, but we’re not rubbish, either.”

“No, you can’t be. Rubbish is garbage generated by human consumption. How long ago was the push into the window?”

The boy thought about it, shifting from one foot to the other and even scratching his head. Then he turned to his older brother. “How long, Tyler?”

Tyler said, “We had breakfast. We missed lunch, dinner, breakfast, lunch, dinner, and today, breakfast. That’s how long.”

My son nodded and rose. He disappeared from his blog page but he was back shortly with a tray of sandwiches, chips, and glasses of milk and orange juice.

He motioned the boys to the table in his study and they went, dropping coats on the way.

I intercepted them with wet wipes and got most of the dirt off their hands and didn’t even attempt their faces. They sat where his chin told them to and he distributed food and warned them to eat slowly and not spill.

We went to his desk and I sat cross-legged in the chair opposite his.

“It happens a lot,” he said. “Where did you find them?”

“On my blog page.”

He nodded. “No doubt looking for a window and stumbling into all manner of trouble. They have nowhere to go. They can walk out my front door, down the steps, and out onto the street and become homeless or die.”

“Neither is an acceptable outcome,” I said calmly.

“I think we are agreed that you did a pretty fine job of raising me,” he suggested.

I nodded. “I think so, anyway.”

“Your opinion probably matters more than anyone else’s,” he asserted. “Why don’t you take them to your blog page and go home to your place in Wyoming and give them the life you gave me, but they’ll probably want horses, being in Wyoming and all.”

I laughed a bit. “We have running water and electricity in Wyoming. And cars. And even some airports.”

He nodded. “And five acres of grazing land in Thunder Basin, Put up a good, sound building to shelter the horses, hire a man to take care of them and teach the boys to ride, and homeschool them. You know it can work and if you need money, I have some.”

I nodded. “So do I. We’re buying their story?”

“Whole,” he nodded. “I’ve sent kids all over the world from these blog pages. Parents dump them through the first window they find and walk away. There’s no way to open the same window again. I can’t send them back to those parents, anyway. Take them to your blog and take them home. There’s magic in the air. No one will question it, and I’m sure in your ‘cabin’ of 5,000 square feet, you can find room for them.”


The older boy turned to me, his mouth full.

“Whats your brother’s name?”

“Abel,” he said. “He’s OK, really. He’s a nice kid.”

“So are you,” I nodded. “Do you guys want to come live with me?”

“Sure,” he said at once.

I laughed a bit. “But you’d say that to anyone.”

“No,” Tyler said calmly. “You knew we were afraid of your son so you brought us right to him and just sat back and let him solve our problems, taking the monster out of the man and telling us a bunch about you. You like kids.”

“I do,” I nodded.  “I never had a childhood so kids fascinate me. Abel, do you want to live with me?”

“I’d rather be your son,” he said at once.

My son nodded. “I can make that happen. Like I said, there’s magic in the air. Tyler, Abel, you are now, as of this moment, sons of this woman, and brothers to me. And I want to give you some advice. Be good to her. I won’t be finding you another one if you break this one.”

Hence began the lives of the men who would someday become known as Tyler and Abel Kauffman, two boys possessed of a magic that some called God’s hand, some called the Devil’s hand, and they called the natural result of blog travel. Wherever it came from, Tyler and Abel cured a war torn land by touching its wounds. They fed the thousands of hungry people left on the American continent and rested confident that they had counterparts throughout the world, taking care of other people.

And, bless their hearts, they never did ask how it was that my first born and I never aged. I was 33 when they met my 39 year old son, who had aged physically to 17 and then stopped again. I had aged to the same and rather than just not aging, I kept regressing and then moving forward to 33 again.

I have no idea why. I suppose my son and I came to be so that the men who saved our world could be saved for that duty. But that’s ego. Tyler and Abel would have saved the world whether my son and I had saved them or not.

I understand a friend of mine found the boys’ birth parents. He made sure they were separated out and kept from the healing hands of their abandoned sons. I think that’s fair.









THE SHAWCROSS LETTERS by John Paul Fay and Brian Whitney

I received an email from the publishers of this book, Wild Blue Press, which is not yet out, to review it. I downloaded it in pdf format and spent the evening reading it.

It is a very fast read, and well written by an almost ghost author whose voice is not heard. Mr. Whitney speaks in the introduction but I think was occupied for the rest of the book in not throwing up at Shawcross’s letters and in trying to understand John Fay who does not even begin to understand himself. At any rate, the book is well-written albeit focused far too much on John Fay’s obsession with his own evil..

John Fay is far too taken by his own evil. Perhaps he would do better to focus on what the extreme abuse during his childhood did to convince him that he is evil. The pages and pages of John’s perceptions of his evil drag on tediously where an in depth look at the abuse he suffered might better explain why John Fay involved himself in a snail mail correspondence with a monster like Arthur Shawcross.

For a time, we are led to believe that John might become a criminal protege to Shawcross or maybe that’s what John wants us to believe, but I did not. John is obsessed with his perception of his evil but he can’t be half as evil as he thinks he is since his reflections upon his childhood abuse always include the helpless, baffled admission that there stood his mother, cold and unconcerned, while his father beat him bloody. As another child who silently cried out to her mother, “Why don’t you protect me?” I know the many shields and walls we erect as we grow, and I also know that we do not often internalize the fury aimed at us and become our own living examples of the evil that beats us to a pulp. John Fay is a lost child obsessed with evil because evil dominated his childhood. The book would be much better without the pages and pages of the conviction of his own evil.

Arthur Shawcross was as disgusting a human being has ever lived. He had nothing even remotely like respect for women and in fact, bragged often to John about his recipes for eating women. Shawcross was a kidnapper, rapist, and cannibal.  He did not, so far as I could tell, write a single letter to John Ray that did not include some abusive language about women or a recipe for eating a woman’s sex organs after killing her. That John took these letters into public places to display the prison envelopes is pretty much diagnostic of Fay’s primary goals in this correspondence is recognition and in fact, in the writing of the book, fame. But this way, Mr. Fay, lies only infamy.

The biggest UP in the book is the announcement that Mr. Fay has got some help, is shaking his addictions, and divorced his soul from the monster Shawcross. We can hope that this is a sign of better times to come for this beaten boy who has not yet come to terms with the man who was his own personal demon. That an abuser dies does not remove his influence or free his victim. Only John’s forgiveness can do that, and with this book, I am led to doubt that John is even close to forgiving the monster who made him think he was a monster.

In closing, I must say that this book is not for the young, the weak of stomach, or the idealist who looks for the rosy lining. Shawcross had no good in him. John Fay wants us to believe the same of him, but if we are human, our hearts cry out to that frightened boy, “Come, come here, come and tell your story and be safe in its telling, and when you are done, forgive him. You cannot be free until you forgive him.”

I wish freedom to John Fay, a voice to Brian Whitney and grand sales to this new book.

My Little Smokey

I found her under a tree. She was nearly dead and she knew it. But those beautiful green eyes turned to me and there was such trust in them that I couldn’t fail her. Animals know our hearts, and Smokey knew that I would save her.

The first vet I took her to told me to put her down. That’s why he was the first. The second snatched her away from me and ran down the hall shouting, “Follow me.” I just did; that was my cat!

That was my cat dragging herself across the table to get at the tablespoon of soft food and the 1/4 cup of cool water in small dishes there. She consumed it all and collapsed into sleep.

The vet nodded. “That’s what you want,” she said. “If she goes to sleep after she eats and drinks, she’s had enough for now. When she wakes, give her the same amount. In time, maybe even today, she won’t fall asleep again. She’ll fret. That means give her a teaspoon more food and a bit more water. DO NOT let her have a full bowl of either; she will gorge until her belly bursts if you don’t watch her.”

I watched her for three years before I could just leave a bowl of food for her. But about two years after I got her, I woke one Saturday morning to that small cat jumping from square to square of my down comforter. “What’re ye doin?” I murmured with love, watching her.

The most beautiful female voice said in my head, “Just bein’ a cat.”

I smiled.  That was what I wanted. I wanted that poor lost cat, abandoned by my own sister-in law, to just heal and be a cat. I didn’t want her to be a victim anymore. I wanted her to play and be silly and be a cat.

And over the years, I got what I wanted. She found my Yahoo messenger box opened and stepped on some keys. “Well, hello, Smokey,” my friend in New York typed. She typed again. He said, “I’m just fine, thanks, and you?” She typed more. He typed, “Glad to hear it, and thanks for asking. My lady is doing quite well. Where’s your mom?” Smokey immediately stopped typing.  Busted! She knew better than to use Mom’s computer!

I was cataloging my extensive library, and stacking books in piles as I finished with them. Smokey made sure I knew she was there, and then she shoved both paws against the stack and ran for all she was worth, to the sound of my shout, “SMOKEY!”

Smokey was a longhair gray cat but she fancied herself a Siamese. I had Siamese cat bookends and I would watch in fascination as Smokey spent hours fashioning herself into a perfect replica of a Siamese bookend. When she was content that she looked just like the bookend, she would freeze, but for her eyes, which sought me out to say, “See? See how pretty I am?”

My son called her Pretty Eyes. They were. They were emerald green, rare in cats, I think.

But she was a rare cat. She would sit for hours on my desk while I wrote, watching my fingers fly over the keyboard. Only once in a while, she would give the nearest hand a hearty slap.

She loved to watch movies with me, especially if there were a lot of men in them. Smokey was a slut cat when it came to men. She got all soft and slinky and purry and sweet. She would pat mustaches and snuggle with beards. I took this to mean that somewhere in my sweet petite’s past, there had been a good man, and I was glad for it.

Smokey was taken from her mother before she was weaned and then fed only when it crossed someone’s mind. It rarely did. I met Smokey at my sister-in-law’s house and liked the quiet little cat immediately. Somewhat surprising me, she liked me right back. She was quite open about it. She greeted me with stentorian shouts whenever I visited, and should I sit, she would be in my lap at once. I fretted to myself that they obviously didn’t know you had to brush a longhair!

When my sister-in-law divorced my oldest half-brother (Brother Predator in another post) and moved in with my youngest brother, Smokey was notably absent. I inquired about her and my sister-in-law said, “Oh, I put her out. She’ll be fine.”

I remember standing there in my brother’s kitchen, asking stupidly, “You put her out?”

Somewhat impatiently she said, “Well, I can’t have her here! They don’t allow pets.”

It was that very afternoon that I returned to my sister-in-law’s former abode, where an elderly man flagged down my slowly cruising car and called, “Are you looking for that little gray cat?”

Somewhat surprised, I said that I was.

He nodded. “She’s over here,” he called, as I got out of my car. “I don’t think she’s gonna make it. I been feedin’ her from an old bag of dog food I found in my garage, but she’s ain’t doin well. It’s a shame. Such a nice little cat.”

I was determined that day in 2001 that she would not die.

I pointed out to her on that day in 2018 that we had kind of agreed that we would go together and I wasn’t ready. She wasn’t sorry; it was her time and she had to go.

I got her set on her down pillow and covered her up and turned out the lights, but she was having no part of that.

I went back and picked her up and wrapped her up in blankets and sat in the rocking chair with her and about an hour later, her little head butted my chin a couple of times, and she purred twice, and then she just relaxed.

A few minutes later, I saw a shadow move across the living room, and then all my Grumpy Cat collection fell onto the seat of the sofa. That’s how I know that Smokey took all her love and went to play with Grumpy Cat, where she will forever remind him that though his face is not pretty, his soul is perfect.  Just like hers.

Good-bye, sweet friend. I am made less than I was when you were with me, but I am and always will be more than I was before when you came to me.

As a new year begins

No matter who you are, no matter your faith or lack thereof (though I do draw the line at Satanism), no matter your color, no matter your origins, no matter your sexual orientation, I wish you the very best 2018 that can ever be.

I wish you the same compassion you wish shown to you. I wish you the same tolerance you wish shown to you. I wish you peaceful holidays with your family, with a minimum of sibling rivalry and old family gathering tapes running in your heads.

I wish you the courage of your every conviction and the strength to stand for what you believe. I wish you the motivation to change what needs change without violence or hate. I wish you the ability to recognize what must be left as it stands without rancor or pain. I wish you most of all the ability to find at the end of each day that you have been effective.

I am an atheist. I do not believe in an afterlife. Therefore, I believe that what I do today, in this moment, is what matters, for I shall pass this way but once; let me do what good I might while I am here.

It’s not a bad philosophy, even if you believe in an afterlife. Stop along your busy way and do a small kindness.

I wish you the power of the planter. Plant seeds wherever you go. Tell an abused child it isn’t his fault. Smile at the arthritic old man in the park; it costs you nothing and gives him a fleeting moment of joy.  In any way you can see, plant a seed that may later grow into a healthy child, or an old man known to be irascible who suddenly starts sharing smiles with others. You probably won’t see the results of your planting. If you’re good at it, you don’t stop to watch the seeds grow. So you rarely see the direct results of your planting, so you have to take your solace in the fact that you planted; you won’t always find fertile ground.

I think we all know that there won’t be a lot of kindness flowing from our government in 2018. But we as a nation have overcome apparently insurmountable odds in the past. Remember the “let go these random act of violence and embrace instead random acts of kindness” thundered from a pulpit in Harlem, by a minister who was watching his flock diminish as young gang members killed each other or went to prison. Do you remember how that motivated the nation into an era of kindness and compassion?

Good. Do it again. Put America back on track in your own little world. Do it with kindness that will baffle those monsters in Washington. Make America great again by volunteering, planting positive seeds in young and old minds alike, and simply making it your way to stop a moment and extend a hand of kindness to a stranger, a friend, or a relative. Flood the flood of negativity and hate overwhelming this country with your own message of love and acceptance.

I know that everyone can be kinder because I know a ten-year-old boy who stopped along his busy way one day and did a kindness for me. Trust me, I know how busy a ten-year boy’s way can be. They are getting into self image and beginning to realize that not all girls have cooties. They have classes, and teachers they like, and teachers they don’t like, and siblings they love but often wish to extinguish with prejudice … they are busy people, those ten-year-old boys.

But this one stopped. For one moment in his busy life, this boy stopped and remembered a woman his grandmother had told him about, who feels so badly for Grumpy Cat and all cats like him, getting the same disease. He saw a book at the book fair about Grumpy Cat, and he remembered his grandmother’s story, and he stopped and bought that book.

If that ten-year-old boy can stop along his busy way and be that kind, anyone can. Trust me. Ten-year-old boys are only rarely kind people. When you find one, you treasure that lad and try to hope that he will always be kind to someone, just because he wants to be.

I am a member of an Indian tribe in Canada. In that tribe, I am elder. As an elder, I would raise my voice when this boy’s father passed, and I would say, “Hear me, Man. That boy of yours. He’s no boy. He’s become a man this day because he stepped outside himself and cared about another.”

His father would hear me because I am an elder and my words matter. And he would speak with the chief on the words of the woman elder, and he would speak with his son on the matter the woman elder brought up. And that day, that boy would be declared a man. Becuase children don’t stop to be kind. Only a man can step outside himself and say, “I can do this one small thing for a lady I don’t even know, just because I want to.”

If a ten-year-old boy can stop along his busy way and be kind to a stranger, so can anyone else. I can’t tell you his name; that is his father’s and mother’s to give or not, and I have not asked. As an Elder, I would not ask; I would simply speak the boy’s name in the tribe and let it be known that though no ten-year-old boy had yet been named a man, this one earned it. But this is the white world where I am just an older woman who must be regarded with some caution so I do not ask to give their son’s name on my blog. They would most likely shuffle in embarrassed silence looking for a way to say no, and I won’t do that to them.  They, after all, are the reason that boy is so kind. He didn’t get there on his own. He was taught that.

In a frame on the wall above every desk I have had since I was about 12 is Emerson’s definition of success:

To laugh often and much,

To win the respect of intelligent people and the affection of children,

To earn the appreciation of honest critics and endure the betrayal of false friends,

To appreciate beauty,

To find the best in others,

To leave the world a bit better, whether by a healthy child, a garden patch, or a redeemed social condition,

To know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived —

This is to have succeeded.

Take some single line of Emerson’s definition of success and make it your goal for a day, a week, a month, a year — however long you can firmly embrace it, and make it your mantra. We, the people who do not consider ourselves Democrats, Republicans, Independents, or anything but Americans, can fix what’s being broken, together.

Make 2018 the best year you have ever had. Make it your best by doing your best to stop for just a moment and extend the hand of kindness to a stranger, a friend, a relative — to anyone who needs it.

Happy Holidays and my best wishes for the best year ever.