I Am So Confused

Dad and I visited the Strom Thurmond Federal Building yesterday so that he could get a new social security card—among other things. The process of entering the building is not unlike the TSA experience when flying.

I emptied my pockets, handed over my driver’s license, and put my purse through the scanner. Having gone on over a dozen flights since my hip-replacement surgery last year, I was confident I would have no problems. Having just returned from a trip this week, I walked through the human scanning machine without mentioning my spare parts. This time, however, I lit up the machine (are you kidding me?), so I was instructed to step aside to be wanded. It was time to confess that I was a bionic woman. At that point, after raising my arms, and turning around several times,  the beeps were restricted to the surgical area, so I was permitted to go about my business.

The unsettling thing was the fact that I could board an airline with no problems, but I could not walk into a federal building without lighting up the machines. Perhaps after the Oklahoma City blast, security has been tightened—but why not on airlines?

I am so confused.



I Marched For All Our Lives

This past weekend I was a participant in the March for Our Lives demonstration in Palm Springs, California, which was my third march—the first being the Women’s March and the second the Science March. Both were in the city where I now live—Columbia, South Carolina; this last in the city I visited as a tourist.

Each time I was not disappointed in what I witnessed. No longer would we sit quietly, particularly when the lives of our children are at stake.

I awoke early that morning and made my poster. After all, what is a protest without a sign? I researched Facebook, Twitter, and various Internet images and decided on “Today I March, Tomorrow I Vote.” After a hearty breakfast of a scrumptious cheese omelet and toast, I donned my Mom’s Demand Action tee shirt and headed off to a local high school stadium, where the March was scheduled to commence.

Not knowing what to expect, I arrived early and settled into my seat in the bleachers midfield with my friend who I have known since kindergarten. The stands were soon filled and I was surprised at the number of marches who looked more like grandparents than parents— some even in wheel chairs. It was quite inspiring to see the support that the high school students were receiving from the elders of the community.

Each life lost was recognized. Their photos were held high for all to see, and a few students shared a few short descriptions to personalize each murdered Parkland student or teacher. It was quite sobering. The sounds of sniffles could be heard emanating from every corner of the stadium.

Then we matched , and as we headed toward the Palm Springs City Hall, the air was filled with the shouts of, “This is what democracy looks like.”

On the news that day and the next, I saw hundreds of thousands of marchers in cities throughout the country as well as in numerous cities around the globe.

I hope this is finally the beginning of changes in our government pushing us toward a more safe country. I hope that someday, I can open the history books and read the story about this movement to my grandchildren and tell them that grandma marched for all of our lives one sunny day in Palm Springs, California.

Turning the Tide

You all know that Mom and Dad joined the movement last year. Neither of us ever had the time, saw the need, or felt the fear. Perhaps some of you may think we are being dramatic, but neither of us—in our almost forty years of marriage—has ever had this daily concern regarding what is going on in our country. In the past, it was not in our faces on a daily basis. But in reality, both of us had experienced troubling times when we were much younger

When we were kids, beginning with the JFK assassination when we were both very young, politics and current events were something of which we were both vaguely aware, but neither of us was in a position to act. But I do remember the news stories, particularly involving the protests during the Vietnam War era. There was a lot of violence during those days, especially on college campuses, but I never worried about our country. I always knew we would survive the upheaval.

Now I worry about guns and bombs, so I write and call my representatives to inform them how I do and do not want them to act. I have attended several legislative subcommittee meetings at my state capital on upcoming gun legislation. I joined a group, Moms Demand Action for Gunsense, which currently has over 4 million strong members as a group fighting to make our schools safe from guns in our schools. As children, you should all know not to mess with angry and determined mothers.

I attended a seminar last night to learn how to register my fellow South Carolinians to vote. I believe we should all be voting in our elections, especially knowing that Grandpa spent time in Russia, where free elections did not exist.

I support the students who marched last week, and I will march on Saturday while I am on vacation in Palms Springs, California. I believe that the optics of hundreds of thousands of Americans marching for our lives is important for change, just as it did in 1913 with the suffragettes and in 1963 when a quarter of a million marched for civil rights in Washington, D.C.

I would like to believe that if I came of age when women could not vote, I would be out there voting just like Mrs. Banks in Mary Poppins. I hope you are glad Dad and I have the time and passion to participate in fighting to maintain the safety of our country because we are not stopping until the tide has turned.


I Found a New Career

Today was another day which reinforced my hatred for shopping. I wanted what I believed was a simple find—a cardigan sweater with buttons. It had to be long enough to accommodate some of my longer tops, yet heavy enough to keep me warm at 50°.

Dad and I hit up three stores, and in each case, my suspicions were confirmed that the current fashion does not want to keep the front of my body warm. Don’t get me wrong. What I saw in each store were mostly all quite lovely, but none had buttons, a belt, or any other device to keep the sweater secured across my body so as to maintain some degree of warmth.

As we were preparing to exit JC Penney, I noticed an employee wearing exactly what I hoped to purchase, so I asked her where she had purchased it. “I got it at this store, but it was many years ago. It is impossible to find what you want anywhere, even on the Internet.”

So I guess I will have to be satisfied with wearing a sweater that I acquired from one of you . It’s warm and long, but it is looking its age, which I am guessing is somewhere between fifteen and eighteen years. That’s okay, because as Grandma would say, “Who’s waiting for me to come?” No one would care how I look as much as me. After I abandon my career as a writer, maybe I should go into fashion design, or maybe I should just purchase the open-front sweater and use a very big paper clip to secure it.

It’s a Great Day to be Irish

St. Patrick’s Day is tomorrow, and Bryce was very excited to learn that on this holiday, everyone wears green, which is his favorite color. There is not a purple day or a pink day or a blue day, but every year, on March 17, we all are witness to a sea of green.

On this day, we are all Irish. We drink green beer, the Savannah River turns green as well as the fountain at our local university hotspot—Five Points.

While I do not know the specific village where all of our ancestors originated, I am happy to report that I now know that some of them began life in both Castlebar and Tipperary. Just four years ago, when I was hanging out with the mayor of Castlebar and the Irish Prime Minister and having my first Irish Coffee, I learned that the typical St. Paddy’s Day meal is bacon and cabbage, but you all know that by now.

We are having a sleepover tonight with the kiddies. Daddy tried to convince Kelly that we should serve Lucky Charms for breakfast in honor of the day, but she did not seem enthused with the idea, even though we all know of her love of that magically delicious cereal.

So I plan on visiting the library or bookstore to see if I can locate a book appropriate for the day which would interest a two year old as well as a five year old.  I will pull out my “Everyone Loves and Irish Girl” tee shirt and see what stories of the old country we can discuss in between rounds of hide ‘n seek and Candy Land. I will attempt to discuss Grandma Jean’s love of her Irish Roots.

Just Silliness and Sweetness

Lately, I have enjoyed hanging out with the children in my life more than some adults. The kids always do something that makes me laugh, their innocence always makes me feel good, and they listen to me when I tell them not to do something or else face the punishment of time-out.

Their language is not yet offensive. A profane two-year-old word is nothing more than joking about “poop,” and calling Daddy stupid results in a loss of television privileges. I wonder how long before a four-letter word becomes much more serious than “poop” because Mom or Dad made the mistake of turning on the news and exposing the kiddies to a foul word emanating from the mouth of our president?

Once they go out in the world and are exposed to bad behavior and questionable language on the playground, on television, or in what they read, how do they learn that name calling is never okay and cursing from the mouths of babes is unacceptable? It’s impossible to protect them. When I was a kid, I remember the first four-letter bad word I heard was “suck,” and it was many years later before I learned of its more famous rhyming curse word.

I used to always enjoy going out to dinner with friends, but now it is not necessarily a guarantee of a night of relaxation and pleasure. With politics being so polarizing and the news so depressing, I sometimes come home wishing I never left. A recent example was when I saw the dinner discussion heading south, so I asked to turn the conversation to something less inflammatory such as the recent nor’easter. I politely reminded one of my dinner companions to stop referring to women as chicks. My requests went unheeded, so a short time later, we decided to call it a night.

Next week we are having a sleepover with the children, and I am looking forward to a nice evening of silliness and sweetness.








They Died During the Holocaust

Last year I wrote about Dad’s mysterious grandfather, Leon. I am happy to report that I have made a lot of headway regarding what happened to him and his family thanks to a cousin who contacted me after locating Dad’s family tree on Ancestry.com.

I learned that Grandpa Leon was the youngest of at least four children. Two of his siblings as well as their spouses and children all died during the Holocaust, presumably in the gas chambers. A brother, David, died in what Dad’s cousin referred to as “hand-to-hand combat with the Nazis.” There is so much tragedy in Dad’s family.

Dad knew his grandmother—a woman named Anna Schussheim. She died when he was a young boy and lived not far from his family in New York. Anna and Leo were divorced sometime after 1940 and he was never part of the family after that.

According to Dad’s new relative, Leo remarried and Leo’s death certificate (Yes, girls, I collect death certificates!) stated that he remarried a woman named Manya. So not only did he have an elusive grandfather, he also had a secret step-grandmother.

A mysterious fact regarding Leon is that his last name, Schindler, was the maiden name of his mother. Why did he not take the name of his father like his other four siblings? Perhaps we will never know, or maybe Dad’s cousin will have an answer one day.

Little by little I am knocking down his family brick walls.

Check out the testimony of Dad’s great uncle regarding what happened to his daughter Sofia.