Smother’s Day

residency slide show 003Mother’s Day is fast approaching, the first Mother’s Day since my mother’s passing.  I am trying to get all of the dread out of they way so that day doesn’t feel so bad when it gets here.  I bought fake flowers and made an arrangement for her grave.  I did that last week.  So that’s done.

The cemetery where my mom is buried is a sea of fake flowers.  Every grave has an arrangement in varying degrees of sun-faded hues.  I think it is supposed to be comforting and beautiful that every soul is recognized, but somehow it makes me feel even more sad.  It is a facade.  You can leave those fake flowers for months without changing them if you wanted to, no one would know the difference.  Then you could walk away and forget them for a while.  As if.

I am the worst kind of daughter.  I brought the small flower container home from her gravesite months ago.  I had every intention of making an arrangement for her, but time got away from me as it always seems to do.  I needed to put one of those green styrofoam things in the bottom so that I could stuff the wiry ends of the flowers into it.  That way the flowers will remain affixed for months, looking fresh and arranged, carefully and lovingly by a doting daughter.  Her grave sat flowerless in a sea of flowers for months as if saying this person, this life, really didn’t matter much.  No one cared enough to remember her with fake flowers.

Knowing full well that I had failed as the doting, loving daughter, I overcompensated by not only making an arrangement, but also making a wreath, with ribbons and a little flower pendant.  That should show everyone just how special she was and make them forget that her grave stood empty for the past 6 months.  I knew that I had to get this done by Mother’s Day.  I couldn’t bear for her grave to be bare on such a sacred day!  Even I’m not the kind of awful daughter that would let her mother’s grave be flowerless on Mother’s Day!  I am not an evil monster!

When I placed my arrangement on her grave, I noticed that someone had placed flowers in the holder that was affixed to her headstone.  It was probably the groundskeeper.  It basically consisted of a bunch of fake flowers with most of the flowers missing, just wiry, rusty stems and sun-damaged leaves.  I wish they hadn’t even made the attempt.  It was truly done by someone who didn’t care for her and it showed.  Amongst all the arrangements, this was the worst.  I pulled it out and threw it on the ground, I didn’t even bother to put it in the garbage can.  It made me feel guilty that a stranger had made an attempt at least.

I just want to get that day over with.  The first Mother’s Day without her.  More than anything, I don’t want to be inundated with all of the great mother-daughter relationships in the world on that day.  I lost my mom and I lost any opportunity to repair or enhance that relationship.  That day is just a reminder that whatever was will always be; unchanged, unsaid, unrealized, frozen, arranged, rusty, wiry, and faded.

 

 

 

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The American Health Care Act: A Doctor’s Perspective

Check out my friends at The Shinbone Star.  This is one I wrote in response to the recent American Health Care Act (Trump-doesn’t- Care) that attempts to undue the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare).

 

I once took an oath. It seems like just yesterday when I graduated from medical school and stood with my hand in the air, repeating the words to myself, “I will remember that I do not treat a fever chart, a cancerous growth, but a sick human being, whose illness may affect the person’s family […]

via The American Health Care Act: A Doctor’s Perspective — THE SHINBONE STAR

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Seeing Color

I first wrote this as a Facebook post about 2 years ago.  Back then I’d subject my friends to these little ditties.  That was before I started my blog and started subjecting all of you to my ramblings.  The news was awash in the death of young black men, each at the hands of those called on to protect and serve them, the police.  Black Lives Matter was entering the mainstream consciousness and my son was starting to see color for the first time….

 

Christmas 2009 013The other day I was sitting in my rocking chair, watching the news, drinking my hot tea. My son woke up and climbed into my lap, he’s getting so big, he can barely fit. It makes me feel small. He was chattering away, talking about his life, Lego’s, Minecraft, school. He paused for a moment, his attention caught on the latest headline, he sat up a little, looked at me and asked, “Mommy, why do the police like to kill black people?”

This is it. The moment when he starts to see color. Instead of blocks and Lego’s that he organizes into color and size, stacks them up and knocks them over, it will be people. Where do I begin? How do you explain to a 6 year old about slavery, racism, poverty, oppression, white privilege? I did my best. I probably failed miserably. I went on too long and he got up to watch cartoons in the other room.

I remember the moment I first saw color. I was probably 7 or 8. Shayla and Nikki invited me to sleep over at their house. Their mom, Annette and my mom worked together. We played all day outside with the neighborhood kids. Their mom gave us each a dollar and we went to the convenience store, which I’m pretty sure was located in someone’s living room. There were these large glass jars filled with colorful fluid on the counter, pink, orange and green. Shayla picked out something from the pink fluid. I like pink, I want one, too. It was spicy. We bought Now and Laters, Fireballs and Lemonheads. It was a feast. When the shadows grew long, we headed home for supper and baths. After baths, Annette lined us up and powdered us with baby powder from the neck down. That was different, my mom never did that before.

The next morning, I’m pretty sure Annette powdered us again, we put on our prettiest dresses and three giggly, silly girls walked into church. It seemed as if the moment we walked in, a lovely sea of black faces turned and stared directly at me. Their faces contrasted against the too white walls and bright sunshine coming in through the windows. I was startled. I remember thinking, I’m white, you’re black and I’m different. An older woman said, “Child, you look the white in the middle of an Oreo cookie.” She laughed, others chuckled, too and then they all started to ooh and ahh over our pretty dresses and the girls pretty hair.

Before long, the music started, then the singing, clapping, and dancing. We only went to church on special occasions and it was never as fun as this. I was soon forgotten, the only white face in the whole crowd. I soon forgot myself, lost in the music and worship. When I look back on the moment that I first saw color, it is a sweet, lovely memory. As I stood in the doorway of an all black church in Deerfield Beach, Florida, more white than usual because I was covered in baby powder, I remember the feeling of being different and then of being accepted and enveloped, like the white in the middle of an Oreo cookie.

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Stay Woke America

There are times in life when you just get so worn down, so tired, so disappointed, so disgruntled that you think you can’t keep going. You just want to stop, get off the hamster wheel and shut out the world. You don’t want to read another political blog, hear another pundit rant, shake your head […]

via Stay Woke, America — THE SHINBONE STAR

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My Favorite Writer

residency slide show 005If you were to ask me who my favorite writer is, I might be inclined to say something that would impress you with my great literary insight like Hemingway, Keats, Austen, Joyce, or Fitzgerald.  I love them all, but if I were to be completely honest with you, my favorite author, one that has influenced me the most, well that would be… Stephen King.

I have always been a voracious reader.  My mom was before me.  She had hundreds of books, always hardcover.  If she found a writer that she enjoyed, she bought all of their books.  She could read a book in a day if left alone.  She was always reading.  I think it gave her community.  An escape.  A life.  I learned early on the joys of reading from her.

When I was a preteen, I had a friend named Sandee and she had an older brother named Dave.  He had long hair, wore a tie-dyed Led Zeppelin shirt, and smoked pot.  He was dreamy.  It was Dave that first introduced me to Stephen King.  He gave a copy of Carrie to Sandee and then she gave it to me.  Passing from one hand to the next, it was like receiving a great book of knowledge, a holy grail of sorts.  Dave, who once drew a picture of a penis and testicles on the cover of my slam book when I was in middle school, highly recommended the book.  Clearly, I jumped at the chance to read it.  I mean, Dave was so evolved!  He was in high school!  He had forbidden knowledge!

Carrie was the most incredible book I had ever read!  There were curse words and sex, but not graphic or raunchy, at least not that I remember.  There was drama and tragedy and most importantly, horror.  Carrie had magical powers.  And that mother of hers!  Looney Tunes.  Blood and death.  Fear.  Murder.  Rage.  Coming of age.  Desire.  Tragic Loss.  Poor Carrie.

I told my mom about Carrie.

I read a Stephen King novel once.  I didn’t like it at all.  Too gory.  Too scary.  I just don’t like Stephen King.

That made me like him even more. 

The next time we were at a bookstore, I asked for Cujo.  She shrugged her shoulders and said, sure.  Then it was Pet Sematary.  Night Shift.  Thinner.  Salem’s Lot.  Christine.  Firestarter.  Misery.  The Stand.  It.  Dark Tower Series.  The list goes on…

I haven’t read a novel by Stephen King in years.  Just got too busy, I guess.  I think because of King, I became less afraid later in life.  When you consider your deepest fears, truly consider them, face them, they lose their strangle hold.  His novels take a mundane subject, like the family pet, and turn them into a blood thirsty enraged killing machine.  The family pet betrays its family.  It turns on them.  He takes the comfortable societal norms and mutilates them into the unthinkable.  I like that.  I want to think the worst so that I am never disappointed.

As I write this, I can’t help but consider how this has shaped the way I think about medicine.  We are trained to think the worst case scenario when a patient presents with a complaint.  What is the worst thing that this could be?  Then work backwards from there.  I can not fear the possibilities.  I must consider them all and rule them out. I can have no fear.  The patient is afraid enough for the both of us.

 

 

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Why Deny Science?

_DSC0215I think I know that answer.

It’s hard to admit, being a scientist of sorts.  I’ve studied chemistry, biology, biochemistry, physics.  I admired the way that science layers itself over time, building information and facts one on top of the other, like the layers of the earth over the millennia.  Each subsequent scientist taking what others before him/her discovered and expanding it just a bit farther.  Building ever higher towers of knowledge on the bedrock of the past.  Learning.  Uncovering.  Digging.  Discovering.

My son once asked, “What is science?”  It is all of these and more.  It is questioning.  It is finding the answers.  It is pushing the edges of human knowledge to the farthest possible places.

Oh, how exciting!  To answer the questions that plague us!

And how incredibly frightening.

I think that’s why people deny science.  I think it’s fear.

Fear.  My least favorite emotion.  I’ll take rage before I take fear.  Fear gets nothing accomplished.  It cowers in the dark corners, letting time run over it, letting the darkness creep in.  Fear doesn’t stand up for itself, it let’s the bullies win.  It believes the lies.  Fear has layers of cobwebs and dust, mold and little creepy crawly things.  Nothing substantial layers on fear.  Nothing you’d want to build your foundations on.

Science brings us GMO’s, atomic bombs, chemicals that give us cancer, drugs that produce explosive diarrhea, viruses and bacteria modified to be killing machines, scientists that experiment on helpless animals.  Science can make us doubt God.  It can make us realize that the smartest, most knowledgeable creatures, ones that can change the temperature of the planet, can cause a species of plant or animal to cease to exist, ones that can affect the destiny of the entire human race, are in fact, us.

Those are hard facts to face.  Science says we are destroying the planet.  It has said that for as long as I can remember.  All of my life.  Not only are we killing the other inhabitants of earth, but we are killing ourselves, our children, the future.  That’s the facts and the truth hurts.

Somehow I have been able to marry my love of us science with my belief in God.  Science does not negate God.  It may negate some religious beliefs, but God is beyond that.  God is what has never truly been discovered by science.  God is about faith.  No amount of scientific discovery can take away one’s faith.  It’s just sits there in defiance.  The alter ego of fear, faith sits in complete opposition to that dreaded emotion.  Faith negates fear.

People are afraid of science because it can be used for evil.  It can be used for war and death.  It can be used to torture and subdue.  Science can be bad.  It encroaches on the natural world, but it could also save it.  Science is why we have global warming, increased carbon, the poisoning of the oceans, the extinction of plants and animals.  The creations of scientists to form a better, more comfortable world for its human inhabitants is why we find ourselves in this mess.  Comfort.  Control.  The subjugation of fear. Of death.  Of disease.  Of being too cold or too hot.  Of not having the latest fashion fad.  Silly really.  We murdered ourselves for creature comforts and trinkets.

It’s hard to trust science now.  It nearly destroyed us.  The same could be said of God.  Of course it will take the both of them to save us.  Science and faith.  Sometimes you’ve got to have both.  Especially if you want to save the world.

 

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Golf and the Phallus-y of Trump

Sometimes I moonlight over at the Shinbone Star.  They are very gracious to let me hang with such capable and bright journalists and editors, I think they feel sorry for me and let me pretend to be one of them from time to time.  Check out their site and give them a follow.

This is really hard to admit, but I am obsessed with something. I cannot get it out of my mind. I think about it, rolling it over and over again, like a shiny stone, trying to fully comprehend its essence. What is my little shiny obsession? It’s Trump. Playing golf. I know WTF, right? It’s […]

via Golf and the Phallus-y of Trump — THE SHINBONE STAR

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