Posts Tagged ‘love’

Letter From New York, October 4, 2011

October 4, 2011

Or, as it seems to me…

Outside it is pouring rain and I’m curled on a couch in the cottage, ruminating on the last two weeks, wondering about what I want to write. As I have been thinking about this missive, I have been thinking of people.

Just hours ago, I heard my cousin Marion, whom I always thought of as an Aunt, given the disparity in our ages, had passed away, luckily surrounded by family, including her wonderful sister Virginia, who is so long suffering, gentle, sweet and forgiving that she deserves the sobriquet: saint. She is one of the most loving humans I have ever encountered or probably will ever encounter. She suffered my mother, in all her moods and wonders, lovingly and with persistent kindness, always a wonder to me, a gift we all appreciated. Marion was tougher and more pragmatic albeit loving and between the two of them they allowed our mother to live at home longer than she would have been able to if they had not been present. I’ll lift a glass to the two of them this evening.

I also thought this week of a livery driver who picked me up this week, a man from Ecuador, who loved this country because of the opportunities it would give his children. He worked fourteen hours a day, seven days a week, in order that his daughters could go to good secondary schools and then get into good colleges. Both were doing well and the oldest had just been accepted into the John Jay College of Justice in Manhattan. He was bursting with pride and I marveled at him; I work hard but driving fourteen hours a day in New York? He represented to me the immigrant experience which is America and which has driven us along through history and made me wince when I think of some of the anti-immigration legislation being made in states like Alabama. I don’t know all the rights and wrongs; I do wonder about it all. We are, all of us, after all, children of immigrants and we should remember that heritage.

And mostly, I relished remembering the marriage this past weekend of my friends, Gary and Angel, two men whom I helped meet and who, in their marriage, helped me understand the institution of marriage in a way I had never before comprehended, viscerally. Marriage, to me as a baby boomer, has seemed somewhat redundant, a non-necessity, something, perhaps, a bit archaic and even anachronistic.

But then I attended their wedding and saw the importance and the joy of declaring love to a community and committing oneself to the other in the presence of that community.

Gary and Angel met each other two years ago. From the first date they have constantly discovered new layers within the other that have deepened their respect and admiration of the other and in that deepening have grown to a place where their love is incandescent – a rare thing to be treasured in the human experience and something that is a treasure to all who know them.

Because they are two men they would have not been able to declare their love in this way until recently and now they can and in helping witness their marriage I understood why two people of any combination would want to publicly declare their love and to incorporate their union through the laws of the land, to make it public, legal, not inescapable but more complex to part. They have a love so profound as to dazzle the people around them, including me. And I now understand why people want to be married, to publically and legally declare their love for one another. I was privileged to have been with them as they declared their commitment and were united in marriage.

So, as I finish this week’s letter, I lift my hat to all of us, living our lives, passing through on the great journey called life, to the celebrations at joyful moments and the acknowledgement of the hard ones – the marriages and the deaths, the hard long hours most of us put in to make our lives the dream we dream.

Letter From New York May 4, 2011

May 4, 2011

Or, as it seems to me…

I am traveling on an Acela; as always, I find time on trains a good time to reflect. The greening countryside is rolling by; a soft rain is falling – it’s on the dark and drear side. Good contemplative time.

Osama bin Laden is dead and that has filled the newspapers and the minds of the world the last few days.

But my mind is much more on the weekend I have just experienced. Business had taken me to Minneapolis last Friday; I stayed over for the weekend. The trip began magically. Early for my flight, I went for coffee. Two ladies were behind the counter. As I finished paying they got great smiles on their face and beamed at me, telling me I was the best put together person they had seen for awhile. My hair, my glasses, the color of my shirt, my demeanor – I was a good looking, well put together man and they thought I should know. I didn’t know what to say, except thank you and what a wonderful way to start the day, the trip. I smiled back. And walked away, shaking my head, glad for the “God Shot.” I wasn’t feeling any of those things at that moment, having roused myself at oh dark hundred to catch the flight.

The business meetings went well and I segued into a dinner with my friend Christine Olson. We talked for hours and she blessed me with an affirmation of the importance of our friendship over the years. The next morning I had brunch with my sister-in-law, Sally, who looked radiant and centered. I basked in the long, good years we have loved each other, having liked her from the moment I met her in my pre-pubescent years.

Coffee followed with another old friend, Jean Cronin Olson, who had written me at Christmas, hoping for coffee my next visit. Sitting down and chatting, we picked up as if we had spoken the week before. And that was followed by time with another friend who is in recovery. I observed that people in recovery are usually much more open with their emotions and thoughts. He agreed; for them it is a matter of life and death. That set me thinking on how much better we would all be if we were better able to articulate our feelings, our emotions, fears and joys to one another rather than stuffing them down, killing them with substances or releasing them through violence.

There was a family dinner on Saturday night. My brother, his friend Deb, two of my nieces, the oldest, Kristin, and the youngest, Theresa, her boyfriend Steve, all gathered at a round table in a restaurant, La Chaya Bistro. We laughed. We teased. We cried. Theresa sat next to me and held my hand quietly for a while, occasionally resting her head on my shoulder. Thinking of it, I feel tears on the edges of my eyes. Kristin and I laughed. My brother and I teased each other, laughing hardily over things in the past.

Later that night Kristin and I texted. She affirmed me. Hopefully I affirmed her. Sunday was more family, more affirmation and then the flight home, wrapped in the quiet of travel and thought, realizing I had had the best visit to my hometown I had ever had, feeling from the time I ordered my coffee on the way out, I was bathed in love, moving towards integration of past and present with a glimpse of future goodness, looking for time with those I love and who love me.

I experienced the magic of family and love while across the world, we hunted down the greatest criminal of our time, a man who somewhere lost his ability to comprehend and respect our common humanity, regardless of religion. It is only through common respect, if not love, we will survive our burgeoning troubles and challenges.

The strength gained this weekend is helping me face my challenges. May the same happen for all.