Marjorie Writes…

Everyday Musings of an Extraordinary Woman

Archive for the month “August, 2019”

Memories of Mom

Scrolling on Facebook way too early this morning, I saw a post by a dear friend of my late aunt’s, who is also my friend now. It was about a book she had read, with a summary of the book and an explanation of what it meant to her, how it moved her, and what message it left her with.

Now, I am a voracious reader – I love books and reading. I can get lost in a book for hours and lose track of my present circumstances. I have always been able to lose myself in books, which is one of the things I love about them. I’m a naturally curious person who loves learning about everything, and books allow me a view into different places, minds, and situations. Plus there’s that whole escape aspect.

Anyhow, in reading her post, it made me think of her friend, my aunt. She was always reading, and once I was an adult we would often talk about books and my much too infrequent visits to her house (I lived in another state) would often entail a trip into her closet to borrow a handful of books she’d recommended. Now, I have a lot of friends who love to read, and I see regular postings on Facebook with book reviews, recommendations, or commentary on books. Why this particular post brought with it so many memories, I have no clue, but I am glad.

The memories took me to memories of my mother, who passed away when I was 18. She also loved reading. In fact, I clearly remember going to the library with her. We went often, but my best memory was when I was old enough to get my own library card and I got to pick out even more books than usual and lug them home to get lost in. We also had a huge wall of books in the living room in the built in shelves that ran floor to ceiling against one long wall.

My godmother also shared this love of reading, and as an adult for a number of years I was fortunate enough to live in the same state as her. In fact, she had a summer home in the town I lived in, and again, my visits often resulted in me going home with armfuls of books.

As often do, the memories trailed along to other things my mom loved to do. When her nose wasn’t buried in a book, her hands were often full of whatever she was knitting, crocheting, embroidering, or whatever needlepoint canvas she was working on. She always had multiple projects going. I tried many of those needle crafts over the years, and they never stuck, but at least the skills stayed with me. I now love to knit, and I find that I feel her with me while I’m doing so. The friends I had when I was learning to knit, in my knitting group, would often tease me about being able to read while I was knitting (as long as it was a simple pattern, that didn’t require my full attention). And my stitches have always been very even, which I credit my mother with.

So I decided, as it turned out that I had an unexpectedly quiet, unscheduled day ahead, I will pay homage to the memory of my wonderful mother, reading and knitting. The only thing that would make it more like her would be if I found an Astros game on tv and watched that while knitting. Although, truth be told, she just loved baseball, so she would often watch whatever game she could find on tv, and back then, it was usually the hometeam (Astros), the Cubs or the Braves, as with cable back then you got the Chicago and Atlanta stations.

These beautiful memories also made me realize just how much of my mom I have in me. And that is an amazing gift.

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We Need a Change. Now.

Many of us have been complaining for years that the US needs better gun control laws. Mind you, please note, I said gun control, not disallowing ownership. Due to the seeming recent proliferation of gun violence, I hope Congress will actually finally do something.

A week ago there were 2 mass shootings in less than 24 hours. That was followed by a number of threats and reports of threats. Our country is now on travel warning lists for other countries, which I never would have thought would happen, but did not surprise me as things stand now. And the president has responded by threatening those countries, which is absolutely absurd. I honestly don’t think I would want to visit this country right now if I didn’t live here. And if I didn’t have a daughter starting her senior year of high school this week, I don’t know that I wouldn’t seriously consider moving to another country, which is huge considering how much I’ve always loved and been proud to be an American.

This afternoon, there was news of an active shooter at the mall nearest us. My daughter went to the movies there yesterday afternoon, then we walked through the mall to visit her best friend, who works there. When I heard about it, I was in tears, scared for my daughter’s friend, and worried about how I’d tell my daughter if it were true, because she’s had some serious anxiety over the shootings (particularly the school and synagogue ones). I called a wonderful friend, who talked me down.

Once I relaxed some, and dried my tears, I questioned my reaction. I am generally calm in the face of an emergency. I may react and emote afterward, but during, I stay calm. This was calm, but teary and shaky, not my norm. Especially not at just news of a potential situation. Once the smoke cleared (so to speak), it was reported the reaction in the mall was one of mass panic. I saw video of people running across a busy street, weaving between cars, trying to get away. I read reports of people hiding in stores or escaping from the mall. When we finally went out for school supplies, the office supply store a mile or so down the freeway feeder road from the mall said people had run in there to get away from the mall. I opted to go to the office supply store instead of Walmart (who has lower prices) because I was honestly afraid to go into a Walmart this weekend, after all of the reported threats. I was trying not to let my fear control me, which is why I ended up going out, rather than ordering online. However, that didn’t extend to going into a big box store.

This got me to start thinking. Have we, as a nation, ended up with some form of PTSD from all of mass shootings that have become so commonplace? The fear, the uncertainty, nightmares, anxiety….all common with people who’ve been through a trauma. And while we haven’t all been directly involved in the shootings, they’ve gotten pervasive enough that people think twice when in public. Many people have curtailed their normal activities or pay closer attention to where exits are, what people are doing, etc, when in public places.

This also made me start thinking about why now. Why after so many mass shootings are the masses taking notice, calling for reform? Is it because schools, while truly tragic, don’t worry them because they’re not in school? Or festivals (think Las Vegas) are for those who attend them? Or churches and synagogues because so many people don’t attend? But then you hit a mass retailer and hell, we all go into big stores. I would have thought routine school shootings would have been a tipping point for reforming the laws. But sadly, no, they only seemed to truly energize the generation coming up – the ones who are just coming into adulthood, or who will be soon.

I don’t know how we can effect actual change, without it taking a generation or two. First, I’m not advocating taking away second amendment rights. However, we insist people go through rigorous training and testing before they are given a license to drive a vehicle on public roads, because it’s very dangerous if you don’t know both what you are doing and what the laws of the road are. So why can’t we do the same for firearms? There is absolutely no need for anyone to have automatic or semiautomatic weapons – or the peripherals that go with them. People should be subject to in depth background checks. There should always be a waiting period for purchasing – no one needs a gun today, right now, unless it’s because they’re pissed off at someone and they want to shoot them. They should be tested to make sure they know how to use the weapon (an armed person who doesn’t know how to use their gun is very dangerous, and at greater risk than if they weren’t armed). And we need to make sure they understand gun safety. This isn’t only about mass shootings. The grandson of a relative was recently shot in the head by his father, who was shooting his gun without knowing exactly where his 11 year old son was. It didn’t end well, and was just another senseless death.

Something has to be done. This should be a wakeup call to everyone who has let the NRA influence their perception of what the left, in this case, wants, which is gun control. That does not mean taking away people’s guns, that just means legislating controls to keep us safe. The many outweigh the few. We need to feel safe in our public spaces again. I shouldn’t have to comfort my hysterical teen when another synagogue or school is shot up. She should not feel like she is a sitting duck in the classroom, like her school is better suited to be a prison than a school, because there is no means for quick escape if necessary. I shouldn’t worry when she goes to the mall, except that she’s safe on the way there and back, as even my parents did. I shouldn’t have to worry about going shopping with my daughter and whether I should have to tell my son if we didn’t make it home alive, remember I love you so much, which I almost did.

We need a change. If not for us, for our children. But that change needs to start now.

 

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