Windchime Walker's Journal 33 Archive


To read previous journal entries, please go to: Journal 1 archive 2/25-3/24/00, Journal 2 archive 3/25-4/24/00, Journal 3 archive 4/25-5/24/00, Journal 4 archive 5/25-6/24/00, Journal 5 archive 6/25-7/24/00, Journal 6 archive 7/25-8/24/00, Journal7 archive 8/25-9/24/00, Journal 8 archive 9/25-10/24/00, Journal 9 archive 10/25-11/24/00, Journal 10 archive 11/25-12/24/00, Journal 11 archive 12/25/00-1/24/01, Journal 12 archive 1/25-2/24/01, Journal 13 archive 2/25-3/24/01, Journal 14 archive 3/25-4/24/01, Journal 15 archive 4/25-5/24/01, Journal 16 archive 5/25-6/24/01, Journal 17 archive 6/25-7/24/01, Journal 18 archive 7/25-8/24/01, Journal 19 archive 8/25-9/24/01, Journal 20 archive 9/25-10/24/01, Journal 21 archive 10/25-11/24/01, Journal 22 archive 11/25-12/24/01, Journal 23 archive 12/25/01-1/24/02, Journal 24 archive 1/25-2/24/02, Journal 25 archive 2/25-3/24/02, Journal 26 archive 3/25-4/24/02, Journal 27 archive 4/25-5/24/02, Journal 28 archive 5/25-6/24/02, Journal 29 archive 6/25-7/24/02, Journal 30 archive 7/25-8/24/02, Journal 31 archive 8/25-9/24/02,Journal 32 archive 9/25-10/24/02, Journal 33 archive 10/25-11/24/02, Journal 34 archive 11/25-12/24/02, Journal 35 archive 12/25/02-1/24/03, Journal 36 archive 1/25-2/24/03, Journal 37 archive 2/25-3/25/03, Journal 38 archive 3/26-4/24/03, Journal 39 archive 4/25-5/24/03, Journal 40 archive 5/25-6-24/03, Journal 41 archive 6/25-7/24/03, Journal 42 archive 7/25-8/24/03, Journal 43 archive 8/25-9/24/03, Journal 44 archive 9/25-10/24/03, Journal 45 archive 10/25-11/24/03, Journal 46 archive 11/25-12/24/03, Journal 47 archive 12/25/03-1/24/04, Journal 48 archive 1/25-2/24/04, Journal 49 archive 2/25-3/24/04, Journal 50 archive 3/25-4/24/04, Journal 51 archive 4/25-5/24/04, Journal 52 archive 5/25-6/24/04, Journal 53 archive 6/25-7/24/04, Journal 54 archive 7/25-8/24/04, Journal 55 archive 8/25-9/24/04, Journal 56 archive 9/25-10/24/04, Journal 57 archive 10/25-11/24/04, Journal 58 archive 11/25-12/24/04, Journal 59 archive 12/25/04-1/24/05, Journal 60 archive 1/25-2/24/05, Journal 61 archive 2/25-3/24/05, Journal 62 archive 3/25-4/24/05, Journal 63 archive 4/25-5/24/05, Journal 64 archive 5/25-6/24/05, Journal 65 archive 6/25-7/24/05, Journal 66 archive 7/25-8/24/05, Journal 67 archive 8/25-9/24/05, Journal 68 archive 9/25-10/24/05, Journal 69 archive 10/25-11/24/05, Journal 70 archive 11/25-12/24/05, Journal 71 archive 12/25/05-1/24/06, Journal 72 archive 1/25-2/24/06

To read my current journal, please go to: windchime walker's journal

*Now that I have a digital camera, journal entries may be linked to related photos. Download time should be no more than 5 seconds. The easiest way to navigate going back and forth between photo links and journal text is to click on your "back" button at the left of your tool bar.


I am so sad to hear of the death of Senator Paul Wellstone (D-MN) in a plane crash today. Not only was his one of a handful of consistent voices against war and imperialistic governmental policies, but I felt personally connected to him. There has been a strong and very successful email outpouring of support for Sen. Wellstone as he fought a dangerously close race for re-election in Minnesota. I had been one of thousands who tried to do whatever we could to help him hold onto his very important seat in the Senate. Where an appalling number of so-called liberal senators were willing to roll over and give the President unprecedented powers to wage wars wherever and against whomever he pleases, Senator Wellstone stayed strong and voted as he had always voted, against war and against the loss of the Senate's constitutionally-mandated responsibility to serve as a check-and-balance to the Executive Branch of government. He will be missed in more ways than we can imagine. But maybe they'll keep his name on the ballot and he still might beat his Republican challenger, a man handpicked by President Bush. Maybe we'll see a reenactment of what happened in Missouri during the 2000 elections, when Mel Carnahan, who had died in a plane crash just weeks before the election, beat John Ashcroft in his attempt to be re-elected senator from that state. But come to think of it, we would be much better off if Ashcroft were still a senator and not Attorney General, so I guess I should wish that Ashcroft had won that election.

Mom slept most of the day. It made me realize how fortunate I've been to have had such good visits the other three days. My guess is that she probably sleeps through many of her days. But she seemed comfortable, except for a nagging cough. There was a window of semi-alertness when I sang old songs to her. After every one, even when her eyes were closed, she smiled and said how much she liked hearing that particular song.

As you can imagine, there is a collective sigh of relief that they appear to have caught the men responsible for the rash of killings here in the Washington, DC area. Schools in Montgomery County had outside recess today for the first time in weeks. And, as Ed pointed out, it sounds like there was some masterful police work that led to their arrest.  Personally, I'm happy to see the danger subside, but am left with uneasy feelings. First of all, it seems inconceivable that a 17 year-old could have been involved in such grisly killings, but I guess anything is possible. Secondly, it makes me sad that the main culprit is a man of color, and one who identifies as a Muslim. I fear these facts will exacerbate current prejudices and bigotry among the general population. And finally, my experience of this country's system of justice as it's been enacted in the case of my brother Rabih Haddad, leaves me with a distinct lack of trust, especially when they tie up loose ends too quickly.

Do you know what I would say to the powers-that-be? Get rid of the guns! Especially this type of sharpshooting rifle. For what is it needed? To kill a deer? Get a slingshot or a bow and arrow. GET RID OF THE GUNS!!!


Just as I will never think of September 11 without remembering the horror of those unbelievable attacks, so I will never think of October 26 without remembering the wonder  of being part of the reemergence of democracy in our nation's capitol. For this day 200,000 people gathered together in strength and oneness  of heart and said "NO!" to George W. Bush's war on Iraq. Not only "no" to his militaristic regime with its bottom-line corporate interests, but a resounding "YES! to peace and unity and a shared determination never again to allow any politician to tell us what we think and what we will or will not do. This day, in my memory, will go down as the day that true democracy came back to life in America! And what a grace it was to be part of helping to make it happen. I am sure every single person who was there feels as I do. Hope no longer seems a "someday" thing; hope is our shared reality. How grateful I am to the International A.N.S.W.E.R. (Act Now to Stop War and End Racism) coalition organizers, members and volunteers for creating the container to hold such an enduring reality. Today's rally and march in Washington, DC, coupled with those in San Francisco and across the globe, showed what non-violent resistance can look like on a grand scale.

The rally was scheduled to start at 11 AM at Constitution Gardens between the Vietnam War Memorial and the Lincoln Memorial with its reflecting pool. When I arrived at the Foggy Bottom-GWU Metro stop at 9:30 AM, it was already filled with folks carrying signs. I soon hooked up with a woman named Cynthia from Colorado, and a couple from Richmond, VA. We walk/scooted the six blocks together to Constitution Avenue. I was touched by their sensitivity when we encountered an ungraded curb that La Lucha my scooter couldn't handle; they walked behind me in the street so I wouldn't feel so vulnerable. On the way, Cynthia and I got to know one another a bit and I learned that she is an experienced symphony conductor and a concert violinist. She was visiting her parents in Triangle, VA, near where I used to go to Camp Fire Girl camp in the 1940-50s. Today was her first large demonstration. We decided to form our own affinity group and stick together for the day. What an excellent choice!

Once we reached Constitution Gardens, it was like we'd been dropped into a new world, one in which everyone shared our values and politics, at least in relation to the Bush Administration and its determined push to go to war against Iraq. There were welcome tables put up by International A.N.S.W.E.R., information tables boasting a variety of progressive literature, people handing out all kinds of flyers, a drumming circle, the Rochester, NY Raging Grannies singing their wonderfully irreverent ditties, an Uncle Sam stiltwalker who chose me as a companion for photo ops, several Bush look-likes--one an oil-guzzling babe in arms and another with strings manipulating his every move--university contingents from places like Yale, Dartmouth and the University of South Carolina, and people of every nationality (including this older couple from Pakistan), age, religion and ethnic background. I saw so many wonderful banners and signs that I almost ran into people trying to take pictures. Here are photos of a small number of the signs and banners I saw during this very full day:

Stop War, Cry Peace
Use Your Brains Not Your Arms and Don't Sell Out
Peace Is Right, Bush Has Left and Regime Change Begins At Home...VOTE
Hello Mother Earth
Hey Cowboy, Don't Rope Us Into Your War
See Our Hands (held by deaf students from Gallaudet University)
Professor of Literature Against War (group from New York City)
CIA Agents For Peace (friends of mine from Michigan)
a peace sign
RIP...How Many More? (with drummers)
The War On Freedom
Stop Ignoring Us (held by a sister in a scooter)
Talibans For Bush
It Takes A Village...Don't Raze It (dress worn by a Raging Grannie from NY)
Regime Change Begins At Home...VOTE ( banner)
Kill Not For Me (I unfortunately cut off the faces of Bush and his cronies)
Bu$h, Save Earth
No War Ever (little Maria's brother Jacob looked much more tired than she)

Just being among these crowds of people from all over the country was like a reality check. How I feel about a war on Iraq is not strange or unusual. For on this day, we were the majority. And deep down I know that, polls and media aside, that is the truth: we are the majority! The American people do not want this war.

Soon it was time for Cynthia and me to make our way up to the stage where the rally would be held. As is my habit, I used La Lucha my scooter to part the waters so we ended up in the front row right behind the media and press. The coolest part of it was that we were in the deaf area where there was to be sign language interpreting for a wonderful group of students from Gallaudet University. When I told them that both my grandparents had been deaf and my Great Uncle had gone to Gallaudet, they said that made me part of the family! Their enthusiasm, chanting and cheering helped me stay focused for what turned out to be a very long list of speakers. Not that I'm complaining, mind you. It's not every day you have the opportunity to hear such inspiring people as  Congresswoman Cynthia McKinney, former Attorney General Ramsey Clark, the Rev. Al Sharpton, attorney Lynne Stewart who has recently come under attack by Attorney General John Ashcroft for "violating" the Patriot Act in her defense of an Egyptian cleric who is currently being held in a U.S. prison, an Iraqi humanitarian, author Leslie Feinberg, an A.NS.W.E.R. youth organizer, Susan Sarandon, the Rev. Jesse Jackson, the A.N.S.W.E.R. organizers, and the singer Patti Smith.

What stays with me is Ramsey Clark's urgent, passionate cry for peace, the mixture of pain and gratitude in the voices of the Iraqi speakers, Susan Sarandon's saying that dialogue is the opposite of war, Ben Cohen of Ben & Jerry's reminding us that it would take $8 billion a year to feed all the hungry persons in the world while Bush has asked for $270 billion to wage his war on Iraq, and my disgust when Jesse Jackson described the Gulf War and other military misadventures as "necessary wars" while he said this upcoming war on Iraq was "unnecessary." I wonder to whom he thought he was speaking? Many of these same folks were out on the streets in 1991 protesting the Gulf War he described as "necessary." But his was the only sour note in four hours of speeches.

As the rally continued, the crowds grew larger. First they said we were almost 100,000, then 150,000 and finally 200,000. The numbers didn't matter; what mattered was the sense of solidarity and peace that permeated everything. Even the weather cooperated. After a misty morning, the sun appeared and it became a perfect autumn afternoon. Everyone started stripping off layers of clothing and my face even got a little sunburned. It was hard to remember my concern over cold and rain.

By 3 PM, the march began. Since Cynthia and I were in the front at the rally, we were near the end of the march, but even there, Constitution Avenue and 17th Street going toward the White House were totally packed from curb to curb with smiling, chanting, singing folks. I started some songs and got a terrific response from the people around me. We sounded pretty darn good if I do say so myself. But I'll tell you who really sounded good and that was a man with a clarinet whom I dubbed the Musician For Peace.

When you're at such a mammoth gathering of people I guess there is a good chance that you'll see someone you know. I was kind of blown away by how many times that happened to me today. I saw a group of activists from Michigan, some of whom I've seen at demonstrations at home in Detroit and Ann Arbor. Then there were at least four women who recognized me from the Michigan Womyn's Music Festival, the most significant of whom was the bodypainter Jayne from NYC who was painting faces here as well. But my most unexpected meeting was with Maria West, a woman I used to know in Detroit but had not seen since she'd moved away about ten years ago. We just happened to be marching near one another. Maria was with a wonderful woman named Mio (not sure of the spelling) whom she'd met on the Metro coming in from Maryland. From the moment we connected, the four of us stayed together until the end of the march. And I have Mio to thank for many of the pictures, including these of some fabulous street theater performers. For much of the time, we were marching in the middle of a large group of people from Vermont who had wonderfully creative banners of different kinds and a lot of pride in their identity as Vermonters.

Throughout the day I saw and connected with a good number of sisters and brothers in scooters and wheelchairs. Liz Fleet from Long Beach, CA was beside Cynthia and me at the rally, and I met Joanne from Springfield, IL on the march. It was good that we could be part of the action.

For me, the culmination of the march came when we got to the Executive Office Building where my father used to work. As my regular journal readers know, my Dad held a high level position in the government that meant he was privy to the machinations of power during Truman's and Eisenhower's administrations. He was also an important member of the U.S. intelligence community. My activism comes from that deep place where heredity meets conscience. It is a non-negotiable part of my being.

It's hard to know how the mainstream media will characterize this rally and march, but we do know that Pacifica Radio and CSPAN broadcast the whole thing live. And tonight I read an email from Margaret, a tireless activist friend of mine in Windsor, Ontario, in which she wrote:

I am writing while watching live coverage on Indymedia's streaming video of the speeches at the BIG peace rally in D.C. I JUST SAW YOU!!! I was thinking they might zoom in on you and they did! Good for you, you are representing so many of us who can't be there!! Ramsay Clark's powerful speech, Cynthia McKinney's, the youth from Vieques....I heard them all. This is a glorious moment for the American people as the Free Palestine Alliance speaker said. You are the patriots!!

Yes, we are the patriots, but we are patriots with a lot of work ahead of us. The next organized action proposed by the International A.N.S.W.E.R. coalition is to mount a campaign to get hundreds of thousands of signatures on a People's Anti-War Referendum. As we now realize, those persons whom we elected to represent us have fallen down on the job and it is up to us to represent ourselves. We will gather again for a Mass Demo and Grassroots Peace Congress here in Washington, DC on the weekend of Martin Luther King, Jr.'s birthday, January 18-19, 2003. In the meantime, we must work together to stop this war before it begins.

For my regular readers, I will be on the road headed home tomorrow night, so there will be no journal entry until Monday night.


I'm home....finally home. The drive was rich in color but l-o-n-g and tiring, especially yesterday. Trust me, it is not a good idea to drive 300 miles by yourself after only four hours sleep and a pretty full schedule of activities before you even get in the car. I have myself to blame for Saturday night's interrupted sleep, but I was determined to put up the antiwar rally/march journal entry before I left Maryland to drive home. With all the pictures and stories, that entry took nine hours to complete. It's tough being a modern-day Brenda Starr!

Mom was feeling pretty loggy again yesterday, so leaving her at 2 PM didn't feel as hard as it might have. We'd had a wonderful visit and I am deeply grateful that I was able to be with her as she recovered from her latest crisis.

After a long, hard day of driving, I got to the motel in Cranberry Township, Pennsylvania last night at 7 PM. By 8:30 PM, I was in bed, sound asleep. Twelve hours later I awoke feeling human again. Today's drive was easy in comparison. And it was perfectly lovely! I took some of my point-and-shoot photos looking out the car window, but they give only a hint of the riotous color that I saw, especially coming through western Pennsylvania and eastern Ohio. Here they are:

Two views of the Pennsylvania Turnpike: #1 and #2
A colorful hill
A farmhouse outside Youngstown, Ohio
A cornfield in eastern Ohio
Three views of colorful trees: #1, #2, #3
Looking ahead to a corridor of color

I arrived home to find the trees golden in color but no leaves yet underfoot. This is the longest I ever remember our trees holding onto their leaves. Folks say it's because we had so little rain this summer. And then what should my sweet Eddie do but give me a sweater with all the colors I'd so enjoyed seeing on my drive! Not only do I love and need it, but an added bonus was that he bought it for $15 at a Cancer Resale Shop.

It is SO GOOD to be home.


How many peace signs have I seen in my years as an anti-war activist? Thousands? How many have I made myself? Twenty or thirty? Maybe more. I say this to give meaning to what I am going say next. Never ever has a peace sign touched me more deeply than the one I saw at school today.

It was made by a nine year-old girl who came up with the idea herself and created it on her own at home. I don't know if her family even knew she'd made it. But last week, while I was away visiting my mother, she brought it in to show me and Susan, her art teacher. Susan was so impressed that she asked if she could laminate it and put it up on the wall in the art room. The girl, who is quite shy, agreed. I saw it for the first time today.

This fourth grader had taken an article and two color pictures that were on the front page of the Dearborn newspaper after President George Bush's visit to a Dearborn hotel for a Republican fundraiser on Monday, October 14. That was the occasion for the protest demonstration I'd attended where there were anti-war folks on one side of the street and pro-war folks on the other. If you're a regular reader, you'll recall how disturbed I was by the attempts to out-shout one another that I so readily fell into. The place was crawling with media and a couple of photographers asked my name, but that's not all that unusual. It doesn't necessarily mean the photos they've taken of you will be published. But I guess this time one of them was published. It was a picture of me and the two young Muslim women I'd stood beside during that long afternoon. The other picture was of the Iraqi men who were shouting their support of Bush's plan to go to war with Iraq in order to get rid of Saddam Hussein. The headline read, "Both Sides Vocal in War Debate."

She pasted the article to a larger sheet of paper and then colored it with her own peace symbols and images. This is her statement of peace.

You know how much Saturday's large rally and march in Washington, DC meant to me, but I'd have to say this small, hidden work for peace has as much power as anything I saw or heard there. If these are the children who are coming up behind us during these troubled and troubling times, how could we oldsters possibly lose hope?

Interestingly enough, one of the fourth graders in another class proudly showed me the picture of her father in the middle of the Iraqi demonstrators. We agreed that it doesn't matter that her father and I see things differently; the important thing is that we both stand up for what we believe.

Do you see why I love going to this school every week? Learnings everywhere.


If exhaustion were a song, I'd be singing a one-note drone in the key of low C. When I hit bottom like this, I'm always surprised...that is, until I look realistically at what I've been doing of late, then I'm shocked at long I've kept going. All I need is a couple days off, so that is what I'm going to give myself. It's now 9 PM and I'm off to bed. See you tomorrow.


After going to bed at 9 PM last night, I awoke at 3 AM feeling pretty rested. It's now 4:30 AM and I'm on my way back to bed, but first let me show you the slow-to-download photo collage I just completed of the October 26 Anti-War Rally/March in Washington, DC. It's now my desktop image and makes me smile when I see it. Anything to help me keep on keepin' on.

Much later:

I used this day exactly as I'd promised. I read, caught up with emails and generally relaxed. Of course tonight was Halloween so Ed and I did as we've done for at least twenty-five years...we gave out cups of apple cider and snack packs of chips. We didn't have a large number of kids, but the ones we had were pretty darn cute. Here are some of them:

Maddie, a fancy kitty cat and Lea
four neighborhood girls
a green-toothed brother and sister
a smiling group of mothers and kids
Catherine and a milk cow
two unexpected trick-or-treaters

I was so tired last night I didn't have the energy to show you the lovely autumn views I'd seen on my scoot down to Ed's office around 11 AM yesterday. Here they are:

colorful trees
two views of the street I scooted down
an orange tree against a blue sky
a red bush
and my favorite, an autumn tree


Life is such a paradox. It seems that the more horrendous our government leaders' choices become, the more awesome become those made by ordinary people who are awake and aware. I am personally seeing that paradox enacted in the way the Raging Grannies have come into my life during these dark days when Bush's war on Iraq seems to be a done deal.

Perhaps you remember the picture I took of the Raging Grannies of Rochester, NY as they performed for appreciative crowds on the lawn of Constitution Gardens before the Anti-War Rally began in Washington, DC last Saturday, October 26. I was very taken with the way these women managed to say the most outrageously truthful things while making folks laugh. Their silly costumes and funny gestures belied the seriousness of their message. They were the first Raging Grannies I'd ever seen, although I've known of their existence for a number of years.

Alma Norman, a wonderfully wise woman I met in an online forum in 1999,  was a Raging Granny in Ottawa. I used to wish there were such a group in either Detroit or San Francisco so I could sing with them too. Well, now there is going to be such a group--the Raging Grannies of Michigan & Ontario--and a woman named Kathy Russell and I are helping to make it happen.

When the Raging Grannies of Rochester, NY took a break on Saturday, I started talking with a couple of the women. One of them said she wanted to start a group in Michigan. I asked where she lived and it turned out she and I live within ten miles of each other! We exchanged names, I enthusiastically agreed to help her start such a group, gave her my email address and phone number and went on my way. The evening after I'd returned home from Washington, DC, I got a phone call from Kathy. Within twenty minutes we'd become co-founders of the Raging Grannies of Michigan & Ontario and had set a date for the first gathering. It will be held at my house on Saturday, November 9 at 2 PM. Kathy already had some people who were interested and today I sent an email invitation to the political and singing listservs and groups I belong to. The response is making me think that if you build it, they will come.

To me, this story is an example of the importance of following your passion. When Kathy first heard of the Raging Grannies a few months back, she knew she wanted to be part of such a group. She went online and found a number of Raging Grannie websites, including the Raging Grannies  in Seattle. Through them she connected with the group in Rochester, NY, who invited her to join them at the October 26 Rally in Washington, DC. They sent her the words to their songs, told her how they dressed, and Kathy got on one of the overnight buses from Detroit last Friday night with the hope that she'd be able to find these women among the tens of thousands expected to converge on DC the next morning. Within a few minutes of getting off the bus, they found one another, and sang together all day long. Kathy then met another woman (me) who was from her hometown and eager to help her start a Raging Grannies group there. Is that classical dream manifestation, or what!

Yesterday I got an inkling of what we might have started when the woman who was helping me buy glasses at the opthamologist's office, saw my peace pin on my coat, started talking about how much she is opposed to the war on Iraq, and immediately accepted when I invited her to join us at the first Raging Grannies' meeting next Saturday. She says she also has a friend who will surely want to be part of it. Now, this is a woman who has never been to an anti-war rally in her life, but is ready to do so in the company of raging sisters. As I say...if you build it, they will come.

Let me finish with one of Kathy's and my favorite songs sung by the Rochester, NY Raging Grannies:

DOO DAH     (to the tune of "Camptown Races")
We're the Raging Grannies
Singin' our song.
Doo dah, doo dah.
The Raging Grannies
Say war is wrong.
All the doo dah day!

Gonna rage and roar,
Gonna stop all war.
The Raging Grannies
Singing our song
All the doo dah day!

Bush's policies are wrong,
They're doo doo, doo doo,
Iraq is not where we belong
And killing's not the way.

Gonna roar all night,
Gonna rage all day.
We're here to stop the war machine,
Don't get in our way!

We've got to stop it now,
We've got to do it right,
Election Day is drawing near,
So get out there and fight!


What I will remember as today's most unexpected flash of grace was seeing a man's eyes overflow and a single tear drop down his cheek as he heard me say, "You know, I can't ever sing our song to the endangered species with their wonderfully quirky names and keep a dry eye." This man, a Pt. Pelee naturalist named John, stooped to give me a hug and whispered "Thank you." At the time, we were in the Pt. Pelee Visitors Center where he and Lauren answer questions, educate groups and individuals, and work toward the preservation of this treasure--Canada's smallest national park--on the shores of Lake Erie.

My Great Lakes/O Beautiful Gaia sisters and I were at Pt. Pelee to spend time on the land and water of which we sing. Judy, Judith, Nancy, Sandy and I had gone to the Visitor Center to borrow their all-terrain wheelchair--a funny, reclining contraption--so I could go hiking with my friends. While there, John had smiled and asked, "What are you doing out here on this cold, grey day?" I proceeded to tell him and Lauren about the O Beautiful Gaia CD project and the vision that had brought it to life. They seemed deeply touched to hear that their love of the land and water of this bio-region was shared by people they'd never met. As John said, "We need to remember the spiritual in our work as conservationists." He then asked if our O Beautiful Gaia group would be willing to come and give a concert on the land at Pt. Pelee next summer! We were honored by his suggestion and can hopefully take him up on it, but it was his tears that I will not forget.

That tender encounter sent us with full hearts and open eyes onto the land. Lauren had recommended we use our precious hour to walk the nearby Tilden's Woods Trail. Since I was reclining in an awkward position, I asked Jackie if she'd be our nature photographer. As often happens, it was a gift that benefitted her as well. She said she'd been kicking herself that she hadn't thought to bring her camera, which is a twin to mine. So these next photos are the world as seen through the discerning eye of Jackie Berz.

Led by Nancy, Judy, Jackie and I made our way through the forest beside old trees, tiny wildflowers, overhanging branches, golden curtains of leaves, and downed trees. As we hiked, we remained silent so as to hear the wind's fingers playing music in the branches and leaves overhead. The hour flew by much too quickly. I want to return.

At 2:30 PM we had a date to meet the rest of our community in front of the marsh boardwalk. When we got there, we formed a large circle around a grandmother tree and began to chant and sing. I will take you around the circle, but keep in mind that I missed a few of the women while others were photographed more than once. Circle shot #1, #2, #3, #4, #5, #6, #7, #8. I can't recall ever having felt as integrated a connection with land, water, air, women and song in my life. When the circle spontaneously began a spiral dance around me, my heart danced with them.

After our circle dispersed, Courtney and I walk/scooted out onto the boardwalk. Many of us have known Courtney, Jeanne's granddaughter, for years. At fourteen, she is our youngest sister in this Great Lakes/O Beautiful Gaia community. We are fortunate to have her with us. Courtney talked of her life and friends as we admired the marsh with its water lilies, grasses and milkweed pods, before turning back toward the land. Jeanne joined us and I was able to take a picture of this loving granddaughter and grandmother.

Before going to Pt. Pelee in the afternoon, our community spent several hours together at a high school in Windsor, Ontario. As we entered the library where we were to meet, everyone oohed and aahed over the two quilts--one based on a goddess motif and the other celebrating Gaia--that lay at the center of the circle. It turned out they were loaned by an Ann Arbor, Michigan artist who has offered to help us make a quilt if we wish.

Pat N. lit our candle, Judith and Nancy led us in doing the Sun Salutation to the Four Directions, and we were ready to begin. The first thing on our agenda was to brainstorm ideas about activities and projects in which members of our community might want to engage. Joan offered to help facilitate the compilation into book-form of writings and art by our women focussing on our theme of O Beautiful Gaia. Penny told the story of the quilts and asked if there was interest in our making one. Peg shared about the Sweetwater Coalition that is fighting Perrier Water's current theft of water from Michigan aquifers, that they sell under the Ice Mountain label. I invited the women to join the new Raging Grannies group that will be meeting at my house next Saturday. Mary W. said she would like to work with interested women on land conservancy. Joanna offered to work with anyone who was interested in sound and movement-based healing techniques. Pat N. offered to facilitate a political group to study and analyze issues of corporate globalization. Julia asked for help starting urban gardens in her Southwest Detroit neighborhood. Mary Margaret spoke for Elaine who has a dream of putting together an art show with our creative offerings about the earth and our shared vision of a sustainable future. So many women spoke--among them Marion from Windsor and Mary B. from Highland, MI--that I cannot recall the multitude of creative and politically relevant suggestions that were made. What I do remember is that this circle is made up of intelligent, committed, creative, daring women who are not afraid to speak their minds and work toward change.

As I looked around the circle I was delighted to see three women whom I'd met a year ago at a Carolyn McDade retreat at Five Oaks Retreat Center near Paris, Ontario. They are planning to drive in every month from their homes in Georgetown, Ontario, west of Toronto. We now have five women who live either in or near Toronto. That is at least a 4-5 hour drive and necessitates their spending Friday night in Windsor before every meeting on the first Saturday of the month. As I said, this is a group of committed women!

Our next activity was to break into singing sections--uppers, middles or lowers--and go to different rooms for sectional rehearsals of "Listen To the Voices", the song that Carolyn McDade wrote based on words by our own Mary Margaret Parent. I chose to be a middle and found it a more comfortable fit than the uppers, where I've often placed myself. Deanne played the piano and facilitated our rehearsal. When we moved on to "I Sing the Longing" with its truly challenging middle part, I taught the women Judy Fjell's "chinning" technique for learning new songs and it was well received.

By 11 AM it was time for us gather back in the library to sing together. The uppers sang their part, while the lowers and middles sang theirs. It was interesting to watch what happened next. Many women in the group started asking Nancy Nordlie, our Notable Women chorus director, to direct us. Nancy declined as she explained Carolyn's vision of a song circle in which there are no leaders, rather a community of voices that form as one and create music from their shared heart. How difficult for us to give up our old ways! It was finally one of our young women who offered the wisdom we needed to hear. She said, "I have sung all my life in choirs and we are always taught to listen to one another as we sing." One song we had not practiced was Happy Birthday but we happily sang it to our dear Pat N. whose birthday is tomorrow, November 3.

Before forming carpools for the hourlong drive to Pt. Pelee, Andrea gave us each a plastic bag with sun-drying clay to take with us. She invited us to use it as a tool for meditation while we were there.

A few of our sisters, like Charmaine and Linda, were unable to join us at Pt. Pelee, so we had to say goodbye until December. But we American women felt the love of our Canadian sisters whether or not they could accompany us to Pt. Pelee, and that was because each Canadian woman had packed a lunch for an American sister to take with her in the car. It was such fun to choose your lunch sight-unseen and then open it, as I did, to find your favorite sandwich from childhood--in my case, cream cheese and olives--inside the bag! Such a feeling of being loved.

I'd say that what already holds this circle together is of the earth and all its life forms, love of peace and justice, love of our children, grandchildren and those who will come after us, love of song, love of community and love of one another. Have we really only met three times?


Another one of those computer days that isn't too interesting to write about, but you can look at Saturday's entry to see the fruit of my labors. When I have a lot of digital photos, I'm finding it takes me longerto write about big days like yesterday than to live them!

Today's other focus was the Raging Grannies. Three phone calls, revising some song lyrics and helping to plan next Saturday's meeting were my part of the process, while Kathy continues to amaze me with her fervor and creative outpourings. I am getting VERY excited!!!

The paradox is how my progressing disability seems to focus my available energies like a ray of sunlight piercing through grey clouds. I have never been more clear about what is my "piece of the peace." Strange, isn't it?


Ahhhhh. It felt so good to swim again! With anti-war demonstrations, a book group meeting, an eye doctor appointment and my trip to Washington, DC, I had missed three weeks of swimming. When I slipped into the water tonight, I felt like I was home. And was my body happy! I did my usual 660 meters of the crawl and found it as contemplative as ever. Now my body feels deliciously tired. What a lovely sensation.

Other than swimming, my day was quiet and relaxing. I completed my absentee ballot--first time I've ever voted this way--and found it was a real advantage to be able to study the ballot at my leisure, and even to go online and check some websites. The League of Women Voters' election guide was most helpful. I sure hope folks will get out and vote. This is a very important election.

After taking care of some computer business, I actually put my feet up and watched a DVD movie this afternoon--Kevin Kline in "My Life As a House." Nothing to write home about but a pleasant way to relax.

Mom has taken a turn for the worst. Poor sweetie has been diagnosed with shingles and seems to be in pain. I tried to talk with her on the phone last Thursday and again yesterday (Sunday) but she wouldn't/couldn't say even one word. They're giving her pain medication so all she does is sleep. Her breathing is very labored and she's still on oxygen. I'm SO glad I went to visit her when I did!


I was a real slug-a-bug today. My major activity was to get our materials ready for Saturday's first meeting of the Raging Grannies, specifically the songbooks. We're using lyrics from the Rochester, NY Grannies but I fine-tuned some of the verses so I'd be comfortable teaching them to others. I also emailed back-and-forth with my activist friend Margaret in Windsor, Ontario, who has asked me to: 1) speak at their community-wide antiwar rally on Sunday, November 17; 2) be interviewed by her son Enver, who has a weekly radio program out of the University of Windsor; and 3) be the main presenter at their weekly Sunday Night Discussion of activist issues. We've arranged for Enver to interview me at this Sunday's discussion group so he can tape it for his show that will be aired on Wednesday. According to Margaret, they simply want me to tell my story of activism, including the October 26 Washington, DC march and rally, so the Canadians can see that not all Americans are going along with George Bush and his pre-emptive war on Iraq. The press and media give so little attention to dissenting voices that it's important to speak out internationally as well as nationally. I'm just fortunate to have become close to Windsor's activist community during the Organization of American States (OAS) protest activities back in June 2000. We've stayed in touch since then and I've often travelled across the river to participate in their teach-ins, meetings and demonstrations.  They honor me with their trust.

And now I'm going to sit down with a book my friend Nan sent me--Andrew Harvey's most recent memoir, Sun At Midnight. Nan, who lives in Vermont, just returned from a tour of Spain that was co-facilitated by Andrew and a woman named Tessa. As it turns out, my dear friend Dorothy in San Francisco is also a close friend of Andrew's, so I've met him a couple of times. Such a high-energy, engaging fellow!

I am deeply conscious as I write this that the Eastern and Central polls have now closed, but those in the Mountain and Pacific time zones are still open. May the regime change start at home!


5 PM

I am shocked at the depths of feeling that washed over me this morning as I heard the results of yesterday's election. It was like the night in January 1991 that I first saw on television that Baghdad was being bombed. A curtain of pain and the darkest foreboding enveloped me. It has not lifted.

With nothing to check his use of power--not the Senate, not the House, certainly not the Supreme Court--George W. Bush will be free to do whatever he wants. Start pre-emptive war after pre-emptive war. Drill for oil in pristine wilderness areas. Imprison persons of Arab descent with no charges, no access to a lawyer and no public trials. Let the Navy blow out the eardrums of whales with sonar blasts. Build, sell and use more and more biological, chemical and nuclear weapons. Mount secret military tribunals where the death penalty can be levied with no public accountability or appeal process. Appoint Supreme Court Justices who will surely overturn Roe vs. Wade. Allow corporate interests to override the needs of every other segment of society. Cut off aid to countries that do not do his bidding. Further curtail the right of dissent and the right to privacy. Set citizen against citizen in a terrorist witch hunt. The list goes on and on. Of course, I say "George W. Bush" knowing full well that he is not the one thinking up these horrendous schemes, but he is the one whose signature will bring them into being.

My question to myself on this dark day is what will I do? How will I respond? How will I survive what is to come without selling my soul to hatred, bitterness and despair? This is not a political question I am asking myself, rather a question of the Spirit. Before the horrors start to unfold--and unfold they will, in very short order--I must decide how I will respond. My decision must not be emotional or even intellectual; it is  a decision of the heart.

The heart of the question is simple: can I respond in love or not? And to clarify what I mean by "love", I do not mean the sentimental, feel-good, namby-pamby definition promoted by today's culture. The kind of love I'm talking about is that razor-sharp, wounding, terrifying way of being in the world that no one in their right mind would freely choose. The kind of love I'm talking about is chosen for you and you fight it kicking and screaming until finally you lie exhausted at its feet and submit to its demands. For this kind of Love is demanding in ways that it is impossible to articulate. There is no compromising with its demands. You either embrace them or you don't. The choice is always yours.

So I continue to ask myself, am I ready, am I willing, can I love in response to the horrors to come. For if I do not, I fear the despair, the rage, the hatred will eat me alive. I guess I'm just going to have to live with the question and see where it leads me. I want to say yes to Love, but can I? We shall see.

10:45 PM

They think Mom is dying...maybe tonight. She is in no distress and, in fact, smiled at her caregiver Muriel just a few minutes ago. I called to tell her I love her, and Muriel said that her eyes widened when she heard my voice. What a sweet mother.


Mom is still hanging in there. The important thing is that she seems comfortable and not in any distress. May it continue to be so. I am so grateful to my sister Carolyn, the afternoon nurse Joseph, Mom's day and afternoon caregivers, the doctor and all the staff for being there with her and offering her love, constant attention and excellent medical care. Of course, it was her sweet spirit that elicited such love in the first place. What a gentle soul. When her time comes may she flutter to the ground as naturally as a leaf.

What would I do without the people in my life! My husband Ed who always stands beside me in love, understanding, acceptance and respect. Susan and the kids at school who today offered me big doses of the vibrancy of life that fed my weary heart. My friend Jeff whose email reflections on the elections helped me see the forest beyond the trees. His wisdom was so profound that I'd like to share his words here. By the way, it helps to know that Jeff is a single gay man who has recently been approved as an adoptive parent and hopes soon to bring home the child who will share his life. Jeff also has been in the forefront of national-level environmental efforts and groundbreaking work for gay/lesbian/bisexual/transgender rights, especially for the elders in these communities. He is an exceptional human being. So here are Jeff's reflections, as he wrote them in two different emails:

Wednesday, November 6, 2002

Hi Patricia

I think every progressive American is depressed today.

I've been trying to understand why our country keeps getting more conservative. The only liberal periods we've had during the current lifetime of most Americans were under the presidencies of FDR and Johnson. Other than those periods so long ago, our voting population seems much more comfortable with conservatives -- through good times, bad times, peace and war, whatever happens. Why? And why are we so much more conservative than other industrialized countries?

I think that one answer comes from Michael Moore in his new film, "Bowling for Columbine." In it he establishes that unlike other nations, Americans have built a government, media, and culture of fear. We always want to fear something different from us: Communists, hippies, African Americans, immigrants, gay people, Arabs - and conservatives resonate with us when they stoke those fears. Conservatives thrive on fear and greed, and this country's media, government, and general culture encourage those feelings.

But Moore doesn't explain why America should embrace fear more than other countries do. I wonder if it's because we are the only country (other than South Korea perhaps) that is so heavily influenced by evangelical Christians. Fear and the need for protection are at the core of their beliefs, and they are extremely powerful in our society.

Maybe it also has something to do with changes in those of us who are not evangelical Christians. As our economy evolved and we became more mobile, we lost our extended family units and our grandparents' non-evangelical spiritual community (churches, temples, whatever). This increase in intra-national mobility happened more in America than anywhere else. In the process, most of us lost our sense of permanent village or protective tribe. Without them we instinctively feel more vulnerable. So we, too, resonate to fear and seem to seek out feelings of Us versus Them. When that happens, we polarize and vote radical or conservative.

Some fears are healthy and ensure our survival. If we don't fear global warming enough to do something about it, for example, we emperil our species. But America seems to have gone into a kind of fear overload. Since Sept 11, 2001, polarizing fear has ruled our lives. So we should not be surprised by yesterday's vote.

There was a time when conservatives frightened us away from voting for them. They were too up-front about their punitive intolerance and greed. But they learned through Ronald Reagan that if they appear compassionate, generous and personally sweet, we will like them and trust them - like a strong father or big brother -- to help us satisfy our greed and simultaneously protect us from the foreign things we fear.

Even our progressives thrive on fear. I've used fear to move people to give money to save the environment and fight AIDS. Since my days as a telephone campaigner for George McGovern in 1972, I've resorted to fear to convince people to vote for Democrats. Instinctively we know that in America, fear is our greatest motivator.

So how do we change this situation where Americans live in constant fear and thus feel the need to turn to conservatism or other forms of radicalism? I don't yet know, but I'm going to think about it. Maybe we need to start (as FDR did) by pointing out to people that there are ways to resist fear and build a better world. Let us count the waysÖ

Thursday, November 7, 2002

My additional thoughts are to remember the big picture and where we fit in it as caring people of the early 21st century. I suggest that we need to keep in touch with our humility.

People have always been complex combinations of good and bad, and so have the societies they create. As individuals we come and go in very short lifespans. We affect each other while we are here, and we influence children, but few of us manage to change our societies in any massive way. We do what we can, and we watch the mystery unfold.

Human civilization has been around for many thousands of years. We have gone through terrible times before and made it through to a new era with new life and new hope. At any given time, weather phenomena, earthquakes, disease, famine, and other disasters can and often do destroy many lives, regardless of how enlightenedor unjust our governments may be at that moment. Powerful human weapons and our warlike nature probably will eventually cause mass destruction, but life is stubborn and chances are that enough would survive to eventually thrive again. Asteroids have wiped out most life on Earth before and could very well do so again, without any connection to what kind of lives we are living at the time. Someday this entire planet will burn up; that is inevitable, regardless of whether we conserve our resources. The universe itself may die and be reborn, for better or for worse. Perhaps that has already happened a billion times, and we are just one tiny moment in an endless sea of time and existence. We have no guarantees of anything, most of all our own importance.

We are simultaneously significant and insignificant. It is right and wonderful to work for progressive change. If we keep working, then when the world is ready, it will change - for a while, anyway. And that is very much worth doing, because every moment of added good is worth it. But until the world is ready, it may be presumptuous to expect that a majority will be as enlightened as we. So we keep working and we wait for the right time.

Personally I have worked very hard for change on a large scale, and now I am focusing on the smallest scale: helping one child. You have also worked on both a grand scale and a small one. They are equally important.

I don't expect to raise a perfect child any more than I would expect my activism to create a perfect world. We do what we can, let the object of our love grow, and we watch the consequences unfold for better or worse. And then other generations follow with more mystery.



10:30 AM

I am doing my death watch here. My sister Carolyn, who stayed with Mother much of last night, called this morning. Mom is peaceful, looks like she is asleep, and now is totally unresponsive. My nephew Jimmy, Carolyn's youngest son, is driving down from Pittsburgh this morning to be there, and Carolyn's older son, Bill, is with her as well. I'm glad Carolyn is not alone.

As much as I love my mother, I don't feel that I have to be physically at her bedside during her dying time. To be honest, I don't have the available energy to make that long trip so soon again, whether by car or by plane, especially knowing that we won't be able to bury her until a week or two after she dies. Apparently when one is to be buried at Arlington Cemetery, as Mom will be, you have to wait to get an appointment. It would be too much for me to make two trips to Washington, DC in so short a time. Anyway, I am as much with her here as if I were there.

I started today's watch by making art. What came was my creative perception of where Mother is right now. When Ed saw it, he said, "It's as if her life were unravelling into pure love." And I know that is what is happening. Actually, she's been on that path for some time now. Carolyn said she has lots of stories to tell us of what she learned from the staff last night. As she said, "Curled up in her little bed, Mom has touched so many people." I could see that during my visits. Mom always insisted on her door being left open so she could keep up with what was happening in the hall. She knew everyone by sight and voice, and many of them would stop in to say "Hi" or sit briefly at her bedside. I gather the Irish priest she loved so much--the one with the red socks and red sweater--often brought his lunch to eat it at Mother's bedside. Other staff members would sit and tell Mom what was going on in their lives. She was a social worker up to the end. How fortunate we are that she was able to live a long life and die a natural death. Not that she's dead yet, but she's almost there. May it be an easy passage.

I just telephoned Mother's room and asked Carolyn to put the phone to her ear. I sang "Amazing Grace", one of her favorite songs. Whenever I'd sing it during my recent visits, Mom would smile and say it reminded her of Sunday afternoons when she was growing up. I also told her that I loved her and that she'd been the best mother in the world. I finished by saying, "You can let go now, dear Mom. We'll be all right. Just relax and enjoy the ride." What a strange thing to say, but that was what came out.

After I got off the phone, I tried to play "Taps" on Mom's precious bugle. Wow, is that hard! I got maybe two good notes. Playing "Taps" was how she'd call us home every night during my childhood. Mom had been a camp bugler in her younger years and never gave it up. It was such a neighborhood phenomenon that when it turned dusk, neighbors would stand on their porches to listen to Mom call us home. They'd even invite their guests to stand outside with them and I can remember hearing enthusiastic applause and cheers, especially from Senator Bill Reed's house next door. His wife Willa was one of our favorite people because she was a very elegant dresser, wore a size 4 shoe, and would give us her old high heeled shoes for dress-up. She also kept jelly-filled hard candies in a bowl on the sideboard in her dining room. Apparently when I was little--maybe three years old--I would frequently visit and make a beeline for her dining room. But I'd been taught it wasn't polite to ask for candy, so I'd just stand there looking at the bowl. Willa would always give in and ask me if I'd like a piece of candy. The story goes that I'd look up in surprise and say, "Oh, do you have candy in there?"

Carolyn just called. Mom died at 11:45 AM. She simply stopped breathing.

The evening:

This day was graced from beginning to end. Soon after hearing of Mother's death, it was time for me to drive over to Canada to get my hair cut. Ed asked if I didn't want to cancel my appointment and stay home, but I said no. I knew it would be healing to be with Leesa and Alma.

Do you remember Alma, the wonderful woman I met at Leesa's salon during my last haircut? When I called to make this appointment, Leesa had said Alma wanted her to schedule it so that we'd  be there at the same time, and so she did. Both of these women are very special and I knew it would be good for me to be with them today. I was right. After my haircut and Alma's brush-out, the three of us sat for a half hour sharing stories about life, death and all manner of things. I wouldn't have wanted to be anyplace else.

Before entering the tunnel, I stopped by Tim Horton's to get a toasted everything bagel spread with garlic herbed cream cheese and a peach drink to go. Once back in the States, I headed for Belle Isle. If you're a regular reader, you can probably guess what I'm going to say next. Yep, I went to visit my friends the deer. They let me pull into the wooded area where they were nibbling grass, and then soon forgot I was there. I must have stayed an hour.

There was a spotted buck with a full rack of antlers, maybe five does, and a number of playful fawns. I saw the little ones scamper and chase one another around a tree, two does nuzzle one another's noses, and a little fawn nursing greedily from its mother. I also saw a woman drive up, get out of her car holding a big plastic bag of what looked like the kind of food pellets we used to feed our rabbit. She was quickly surrounded by the deer who let her feed them by hand. They seemed to know her. I bet she comes at this time every afternoon.

As I say, this was a truly graced day. And the best part is that my Mother whom I love died in the same gentle way that she had lived. And her daughter and grandson were by her side at the moment she took her last breath. What more could anyone ask?

P.S. If you're planning to come over to my house tomorrow (Saturday) at 2 PM for the first Raging Grannies meeting, come on ahead. I won't be going to Washington, DC to bury Mom until Thanksgiving week. Wednesday, November 27 is the date Arlington Cemetery gave us.


The Raging Grannies Without Borders! That is what our community named itself at our first meeting today. Since we will have women from both Detroit, MI and Windsor, ON, we refuse to be bound by the artificial borders that seek to divide us. We will never be divided: ours is one voice, the voice of Women.

What a rousing success! Fifteen women showed up at my door today and brought with them a shared commitment to peace, long herstories of working for justice and equality, concern for the earth and consciousness of its need to be protected, love of the children. Oh, so many serious issues swirled around us as we sang humorous lyrics with hard-hitting messages. And after this one meeting, the circle agreed to accept our first invitation to perform at an anti-war rally and march next Sunday, November 17 in Windsor, ON. We rehearsed songs from the songbook Kathy and I had prepared using revised lyrics from the Rochester, NY Raging Grannies. We changed whatever words and phrases didn't work for us, and added gestures--like pointing our fingers when we sing, "Georgie Bush is telling stories" and taking off our hats at "Liberty's simply old hat." We used a consensus model for decision-making and managed to agree on the essentials of who we are and what we want to bring to the world. It was amazing to watch fifteen strong women hammer out whatever needed to be hammered out, and do it with respect and humor. We had no problem deciding how we want to dress--silly hats with whatever costumes folks want to put together. Aprons, feather boas, shawls, old-lady jewelry, anti-war pins, peace doves, globes...our imaginations will determine the final product. Kathy, who dreamed our group into being, brought assorted items that women had fun trying on and taking home. It reminded me of when we little girls used to delve into our dress-up box full of dresses, hats, shoes, jewelry and hand-me-down treasures. We will meet to rehearse at my house on the second Saturday of each month, not counting our gigs. And we're open to having any woman who wants to join us--you don't have to be a granny or even granny-aged. The more the merrier!

I can't think of any better way to celebrate my Mom's life than this. As Ed said when he saw me dressed up in my Raging Granny outfit, "Now that your mother's gone, you've become the granny." I'm proud to say he's right.


Boy, this grieving thing takes its toll. I don't consciously feel sad, yet I just don't have my usual reserves of energy. For instance, I've gone to bed between 10-11 PM two nights in a row, and even eleven hours sleep doesn't seem like enough. That is certainly not my norm.

Ed and one of my friends called this a "transition time." I guess it is. I am transitioning from the lifelong awareness that my mother was always there physically, into this new place where she is only there in my mind/spirit. It will definitely take time to get my head and heart around this new way of being in to relationship to my Mom. Funny, though. When I lie down in bed at night, I find myself talking to her. Now, I've never done that before. Actually, when I'm talking to her--not out loud--it doesn't feel strange at all. It's the most natural thing in the world. I "know" all the stuff about your-mother-never-left-she's-within-you-now, etc., etc., but I just don't need to go there, as the kids say. I don't need/want any talkie-talk about life-after-death or such; I just need to get the hang of living in this different place. For it does feel like a different place I've entered. After all, once your parents have died, you become the elder. So it isn't simply working on how to relate to Mom in this different way, but how to grow into my new role of elder. I know it'll take time, and that's fine: I'll give it all the time it needs. I just have to be respectful of the fact that these growing pains take a hell of a lot of energy.

All that being said, I'm still going over to the University of Windsor tonight to give my presentation/radio interview with Enver as part of the activist community's Sunday Night Discussion series. I wantto do that; it feels right to me. Like having the Raging Grannies Without Borders first meeting here yesterday felt right. But I'm not doing anything extra. Like I cancelled out of plans to go out to dinner with my friends before the discussion. I love and respect these folks tremendously and hope we can go out for dinner some other time, but I just don't have the available energy tonight. As I said, I have to respect the grieving process whether it's being done consciously or not.


I want to share a bit about last night's Sunday Night Discussion in Windsor, ONT at which I'd been asked to present an American activist's views of what is happening in the US--the election, Bush's proposed war on Iraq, the Patriot's Act and Homeland Security, the militarization of our high schools with the No Child Left Behind Act, and the antiwar movement's responses to it all, with particular reference to the October 26 Rally and March in Washington, DC. There were thirteen of us in the circle, ranging in age from our teens into our 70s. Women and men, Muslim, Latino, Marxist-Leninists, a union organizer, bio-physicist, university student organizer...just a wonderfully diverse group of informed, politically aware people. Enver taped my remarks for his radio program that will be aired out of the University of Windsor on 91.5 FM at noon on Wednesday. We did my presentation in interview format which really helped me stay focused. I must have talked for an hour; I didn't know I knew that much. Then, after a short break, we re-gathered and had an invigorating circle-wide discussion. As the only American there, it was particularly informative for me to hear my Canadian brothers' and sisters' perceptions of my country, its leaders and its people. There was a difference of opinion as to whether the American people tend toward paranoia, euphoria or are simply hypnotized by the propaganda that surrounds them.  It was a privilege to participate in such a sincere searching for the truth.

I knew I needed a low-key day today so I started by sitting in the easy chair in my bedroom and reading. After doing a few hours of necessary computer business, I ventured out into this beautiful sunny day. Last night's thunderstorms--through which I'd driven to go to Windsor--had dumped tons of leaves in our front yard, but that may be close to the last of them for Ed to rake. Everything sparkled--trees by the lake, the lake itself, orange leaves against a bright blue sky, the play of sun on a neighborhood sidewalk, maple leaves shimmering like jewels on the ground, roses that seemed not to have noticed it was already November, and the shining faces of our beloved former neighbor Marcia and her dog Jib.

I had an eye appointment late this afternoon about which I was uneasy. There is such a strong herstory of glaucoma in my family--my grandmother lost her sight from it, my mother was diagnosed in her 60s and had to use drops the rest of her life, and now my sister Carolyn has been diagnosed. Today was my Visual Field test, the test in which Carolyn's glaucoma had shown up a month ago. After taking the test, they put me in a small office that had a TV and videos beside it with titles like "Understanding Glaucoma" and "Macular Degeneration." I jumped to the conclusion that I was in there to get the bad news, so for over half an hour I was absolutely certain that I had glaucoma. Then when the visual technician couldn't get my prescription up to 20-20 in my left eye, that settled it in my mind: I'd already lost some sight in that eye.

All of which was totally untrue! My pressure is certainly high-normal, but my optic nerve looks healthy and I aced the Visual Field test, only missing one flash out of dozens with my left eye, and getting every one perfectly with my right eye. So much for unnecessary worries! When I shared my reaction with Ed, he attributed it to my grieving. As he said, "Your grief found the perfect place to land!" I think he was right. Well, at least I didn't get spooked at the tiny surgery the doctor did to remove a cyst from my eyelid. That went fine. And my new red glasses are fine too. Well, at least the frames are fine. When I first put them on, I wasn't terribly pleased with the new prescription, but the doc says to try it for a week and if I'm still not satisfied they'll replace the lens free of charge. The advantage of buying your glasses at your doctor's office!

I thought I'd have to go to bed early again tonight, but listening to Marion McPartland's 1985 Piano Jazz show with the great Carmen McRae is keeping me happily awake, at least until midnight. How could I miss a minute of this?


You know I've had a restful day when I have very little to share. And so it is today. I spent the day reading, doing a little computing, and reading some more. I finished Andrew Harvey's most recent memoir, Sun At Midnight. I see it as a significant contribution to a growing body of work that describes the dangers inherent in guru-worship of any kind. Certainly Andrew's experiences with the woman known as Mother Meera are particularly horrendous, but many of us have our own stories of betrayal in the name of religion.

As I read, I kept thinking of the priest I encountered in the 1980s who used my spiritual awakening to feed his insatiable appetite for sensual and spiritual conquests.  Unfortunately this "guru" continues to spin his charismatic web around vulnerable women as he publishes books on prayer, travels the globe giving retreats, gives personal growth workshops and offers what he calls "spiritual direction." But I know, as Andrew learned, that it is not my task to protect the world from this man's machinations; it is enough to have made my way out of his sticky grasp and to have lived to tell the tale.

Tonight Ed and I watched an excellent BBC adaptation of Dorothy Sayer's "Gaudy Night." And now it is close to midnight and I will soon be fast asleep dreaming of cows flying over the moon and other such fanciful endeavors.


Have you ever had a day that was simply one explosion of beauty after another? That's what this day was like for me. I could hardly wait to get out of the house and into the thick of it this morning. I'm not going to belabor you with a lot of words; I'll let the pictures speak for themselves.

Piles of raked leaves ready for pick-up
Paradise with trees of gold
A flaming bush
Snapdragons and alyssm in a rock garden
Trees against the sky
Yellow chrysanthemums
The road ahead as I scooted home
Our neighbor's blazing maple

The final burst of beauty was waiting for me when I got back home--a bouquet of love and sympathy from my dear friend Rima in San Francisco.

What could be more healing than beauty?


There are many ways comfort comes to those who grieve. Certainly the beauty I showed you yesterday is one way. Another is the support of friends. I can't even count the number of loving emails I've received since Mom's death from friends both here at home and from around the world. One of the advantages of living such a public life with my online journal, is that readers are often the first to know when I need comfort and support. I've received emails from longtime readers who wrote to introduce themselves and to offer their sympathy. They cannot know how much their thoughtfulness means to me. I've also received phone calls and a good number of sympathy cards in the mail. Snail mail...can you imagine? The only snail mail I send is to Rabih and Steven (my two friends behind bars), and one credit card payment a month. I am deeply touched when someone takes the time to post a letter. And then there were the kids at school today. Three fourth grade girls lined up in front of me and individually said how sorry they were that my Mom had died. They each gave me a hug. One of them had a card she'd made for me. I want to show you both the outside and the inside of this card. Have you ever seen anything like it? And from a nine year-old. How could I not feel comforted.

To be honest, life itself is doing everything it can to fill me with joy. There's the brand new Raging Grannies Without Borders that Kathy dreamed into being, I helped bring to birth, and a good group of us will show the world for the first time at Sunday's NO WAR rally and march in Windsor, Ontario. Then there's the wondrous connection that has just been forged between my sister Sulaima, Rabih Haddad's wife, and a journal reader of mine in London, England. Both of these strong, loving women have experienced the unjust imprisonment of their husbands, and in my UK friend's case, her husband's deportation and hard-fought return to her side. As Sulaima wrote me tonight, "I do think I have found a new friend." Now, I ask you, how could I feel sad with all of this swirling around me?


There was a dusting of snow on the trees and rooftops when I awoke this morning. It made me grateful that I'd taken so many pictures of the autumn colors this week. Things can change very quickly at this time of year. I receive email photos from my friend Margaretha in Sweden and it already looks like winter there with snow, bare trees and ice on the river...beautiful, mind you, but definitely winter. It won't be long before Michigan looks the same. Actually, we've had a long slow autumn so I can't complain.

Today was devoted to Raging Grannies Without Borders tasks. You know, I'm not real fond of being an organizer, but every so often I find myself in that position. When it is something I believe in as much as I believe in the Raging Grannies, I don't really mind. And this time I have a wonderful partner in Kathy, the one whose dream we're manifesting. Our gifts seem to dovetail nicely, so I don't think either of us feels overburdened. I just had a bunch of stuff I needed to get ready for Sunday's NO WAR rally and march in Windsor, Ontario. I'm very much looking forward to our first performance; I know it's going to be a kick.

You know I am beginning to put two and two together and realize that one of Mom's parting gifts to me was seeing to it that I attended that amazing October 26 Anti-War Rally and March in Washington, DC. I had wanted to go from the first  moment I'd heard about it, but other things had gotten in the way. If Mom hadn't developed such a high fever, I would not have gone to DC that week. I would have put off my trip until election week, and by then she was dying. If you remember, I had three glorious days with her, days when she was alert, communicative and happy. The last three days she was pretty much sleeping all the time.

Not only did Mom arrange it so that she and I could have a sweet visit--our last--but I also see her social worker's hand in my "just happening" to meet Kathy at the rally and march in DC that Saturday, October 26. It was there that we agreed to co-found a Raging Grannies group in Detroit. A little too coincidental, I'd say. Thanks, Mom.

By the way, if you want to know a bit about my mother's life, you can read her obituary that was published in today's Washington Post. She was quite a woman!


Hope. That's what anyone who is awake and aware these days needs above all else. But it's so hard to find, especially for those of us who try to stay informed about what's happening in Washington, DC.

And example was the group email I sent out to folks on my political action list this afternoon. If you want to get a chill running up and down your spine, just examine the Homeland Security act that has just passed the House and is now before the Senate. Does it sound like democracy to you? It sounds more like fascism to me.

So you can imagine my delight when I received the following email from a friend who was part of this glorious statement of peace:

Subject: Press Release: Unreasonable Women Spell Peace
Date: Saturday, November 16, 2002
From: Kate Munger

You can hear Donna with Charles Osgood on CBS radio tomorrow (Sunday)  at 9 am or on All Things Considered (NPR) at 5 pm.  Love to all from "all of me,"  Kate

 November 15, 2002
(Note: We must have an agreement that tearsheets of anything printed be sent to:
18115 Shoreline Highway, Marshall, CA 94940. They will be included in a future traveling art exhibition.)



Photo caption: Fifty women spell PEACE with their naked bodies to protest war with Iraq. Photo: Art Rogers.

Wearing nothing but afternoon rain, fifty determined women lay down on Love Field near Point Reyes Station, California to literally embody PEACE. They asked local photographer, Art Rogers, to record the event, which he did from atop an 18-foot ladder.

Women of all ages and walks of life took off their clothes not because they are exhibitionists but because they felt it was imperative to shock a seemingly indifferent nation and administration into breaking the vicious cycle of war.

Making their bodies figures of speech, they allied themselves with the "Unreasonable Women" group, whose credo is that reasonable behavior will not get their point across to the men of war.

"We have voted, we have held rallies and marches, with little effect. Now we have taken this bold step to convey our feelings of desperation over war," said Donna Sheehan, one of the organizers. Her inspiration for the naked demonstration for peace was Helen Odeworitse, the leader of 600 Nigerian women who forced ChevronTexaco to address their needs. They took over an oil terminal, held 700 workers hostage and humiliated the corporation by threatening to remove their clothes, a traditional shaming gesture.

"As Helen said, 'Our weapon is our nakedness'," said Sheehan. "We hope to effect change as she did, without harming a soul."

Now, how could I not feel hopeful when there are women out there who are willing to put their bodies on the line for peace! And tomorrow I will be with the Raging Grannies Without Borders as we put ourselves out there--maybe not quite as nakedly, but no less passionately--for peace.

Don't give up. Don't ever give up!


As exhausted as I am tonight--and that is Exhausted with a capital E--I feel good about the Raging Grannies Without Borders' debut performance at today's NO WAR rally and march in Windsor, Ontario. The rally itself was excellent and we grannies had a ton of fun. I also learned something about the media. All you have to do is dress up in silly outfits and sing outrageous songs to be at the center of a media blitz. It was interesting to see how cameras and mics were thrust in our faces even while we were simply practicing before the march began. The ones I remember being interviewed by were CKLW radio and CBC-TV. At least I think it was CBC. Anyway, Kathy and I were both pretty OUT THERE in our comments, with me calling the US a terrorist state. Ah yes, one of these days there's gonna be a knock on the door...but until then I'll just keep raging on!

On days filled with the excitement of new experiences, there is often one simple moment that will stay with you for life. That moment came for me when four young Muslim women responded to my hand gestures of invitation and joined our Raging Grannies Without Borders in singing our last song of the day, "The Battle Hymn of the People." Their enthusiastic voices in song and their mother's words of appreciation afterwards were like being given a taste of world peace out on that cold, windy riverfront in Canada. It was everything we want our world to be.

The first carloads of Raging Grannies Without Borders (of Detroit and Windsor) arrived in Windsor, Ontario around noon on this cold, overcast day. I think the high today was +2 C ( 37° F) with bitter winds down by the river where the rally was held. Longjohns, ski mittens, two pairs of socks, sweatpants under skirts, earmuffs under decorative bonnets were the favored dress for most grannies. But even so, we looked pretty swell!

After a good gaggle of grannies had stopped at Tim Hortons for something hot to drink, we gathered at the Charles Clarke Square near City Hall for the start of the march. While waiting, we practiced the three songs we were planning to sing at the rally. We also invited young women to join us and swelled our numbers considerably that way. While most Raging Grannies groups seem to have age requirements, our community decided to accept any woman who wanted to join us. Hey, if a young woman wants to be a Raging Granny, more power to her! Happily, our young grannies were from Canada so they helped us become in truth the name we'd chosen. Kathy had brought some extra hats and we had extra songbooks, so everyone felt ready to RAGE. It was at this time that the media got their interviews with Kathy, Peg and me.

Enver, one of the organizers of this NO WAR rally and march, asked us to come to the front and sing into a bull horn to start the march. We were happy to do so, and soon we were on the road walking/scooting and chanting behind a wonderful banner that simply said, NO WAR. I'd guess there were 200-300 marchers, most carrying homemade signs and banners. It was one of the best chanting crowds I've ever been part of. "We are Iraqi! We are Palestinian!" "No blood for oil" "1-2-3-4 We don't want Bush's war!" The chants never stopped during our five-block march down to Dieppe Park at the foot of Ouellette Avenue (Windsor's main street) on the Detroit River. In fact there were often two or three chants going on at the same time. They helped keep us warm!

As always at such marches and rallies, the signs pulled no punches. When you have to say what you want to say in six words or less, it cuts to the quick. I want to thank Mary, a student activist from Michigan, for taking all the march and rally pictures for me. Here are just a few of the signs:

Take a Stand Against This War
Bush N Blair, Baffle Brains
Don't Bomb Iraq Again
Homes Not Bombs
U$ Unilateral Action
One Humanity One Struggle
Canada Just Say No! If Not Now, When? & School Students for Peace
I Destroy My Enemies When I Make Them My Friends
No Blood For Oil & Iraq: Bush's Weapon of Mass Distraction
Don't Buy Their War & Bush's Bombs Batter Babies
Butter Not Bombs & War Crimes Are Still War Crimes When Committed by the US & a sign in Arabic

When we got to Dieppe Park, that wind off the river fairly took your breath away. But it didn't stop us Raging Grannies. We sang and sang some more as the organizers prepared the stage for the speakers. The response from the crowd was fabulous! They laughed at the right places, sang along with us, and cheered our every effort. Now I know why the Raging Grannies have survived so long and just keep growing in strength and numbers. It's one thing to speak the truth and quite another to sing it.

Believe me, that was a committed group of folks who stayed for the rally! We were young and old, of many different national origins. Even Uncle Sam was there with his tank and bomber. The program was MCed by my friend, Margaret, one of Windsor's most dedicated, informed, tireless workers for peace and justice. The organizers had invited five persons to speak; I was honored to be among the five. I spoke as an activist from within the belly of the beast, the US.

My message was short and to the point. There are LOTS more of us anti-war activists in the States than you're ever going to hear about in the Windsor Star, the Toronto Globe and Mail (except for Naomi Klein), the Toronto Star, or on CBC radio or CBC television. We're doing all we can, but now is the time that we must form coalitions across the borders. We need to follow the example of the million Europeans who marched together last weekend in Florence against a war on Iraq. The time is past when isolated efforts--no matter how well intended--can bear fruit; only together will we have a chance to stop this and other wars. I gave as a small example our newly-formed Raging Grannies Without Borders that draws members from both sides of the Detroit River.

After the rally, a Windsor woman came forward to share with me her discomfort when I spoke of not being bound by the borders between our countries in our work for peace. She said quite frankly that the border offers her some small sense of protection from the United States. I can't say that I blame her. But on this day I did not feel there were any borders between us; we spoke with one voice and it was a voice that cried with passion and commitment, NO WAR! And it was a cry that echoed across Canada as folks took to the streets in cities and towns from Halifax to Vancouver, Montreal to Medicine Hat, Ottawa to Edmondton and beyond. As we learned at our rally, even the polls say that 70% of Canadians do not want this war. Prime Minister Chrétien, are you listening?


It wasn't until I was in the pool swimming laps that the light dawned in my fuzzy brain: my recent irritation with people, places and things is simply a manifestation of grief. Duh! It's so hard to see what is right before your eyes when you're looking somewhere else, especially when you're looking outside of yourself. Any loss as profound as the death of one's mother must make its own inexorable way toward healing, and one can't skip any of the step along the way, ie., Dr. Elizabeth Kubla-Ross's Stages of Grief. Judging from my emotions of late, I've already passed from denial into anger. So I'd better be on the lookout for depression and bargaining, for it is only after I've made my way through them that I can come to some degree of acceptance. And all this takes energy. With this unplanned consumption of energy had best come lowered expectations of myself. I've got to realize that everything is going to take me longer to accomplish and make me more tired than I expect.

I discovered this truth today as I tried to complete my photo-journal of yesterday's NO WAR rally and march in Windsor. Except for an eye doctor appointment, eating a simple lunch and reading one chapter of a book, scooting to the pool and swimming 24 lengths, and a brief visit with Ed as I ate a late supper, I have worked steadily on preparing the photos from the rally/march...and I'm not done yet. So this journal entry will get up when it gets up. I have to be comfortable with that.

When I realized I was so tired, I called Susan and told her I'd be happier going to school on Thursday rather than tomorrow (Tuesday). I've got to give myself some lay backtime, especially before we take off for Washington, DC on Monday. Next week is going to be a humdinger. Not only will I be dealing with the reality of burying Mom, but I'll be in the thick of my birth-family with all its strange dynamics and unhealed wounds. Yikes! I'm just glad Ed will be there with me; that will help.

And now, instead of continuing to work on yesterday's journal, I'm going to bed. Sleep is a great healer too.


Another quiet, restful day. I read for awhile, and then worked on my journal entry for the Raging Grannies Without Borders first anti-war rally and march. Finally got it done! You can check it out by scrolling down to Sunday, November 17, 2002, or by going to my special Raging Grannies Without Borders Journal page.

Tonight our friend Pat K joined us for a sushi dinner and also brought us a bunch of her homemade salmon croquettes. She and I have both been so busy that it was the first time we'd even seen one another in a couple of months. It sure is good to have friends like Pat.


I'm getting tired of writing that I'm tired, but there it is. I even had to cancel out of going to my monthly women's book group tonight, and you know how I love that. Just didn't have the energy to drive over to Windsor; to drive anywhere actually. Couldn't even go swimming. A lot of it was that I'd stayed up until 3 AM last night working on Sunday's journal, and then couldn't fall asleep for more than an hour. I woke up at 11:30 AM still feeling tired.

I'm going to bed.


Ah, the children. How is it that even when I'm tired, even when they're hyper, even when I feel like I can't be around people, the children manage to fill me with life and energy. Is it their honesty? Or their openness? Is it that they are truly and authentically themselves? Maybe it's the tenderness in their eyes, the silliness in their smiles, the hugeness of their hearts. But whatever it is, being at school with the children today was just what I needed. And that includes Susan, their art teacher, my friend.

What a fabulous teacher she is! Imagine this. We're going around the world in art with the fourth graders, so now we're in the Middle East doing Islamic Art. We're using compasses and creating intricate designs in pencil that, when the paper is completely filled, we'll color with markers, crayons or colored pencils. Susan encouraged the students to bring in CDs and tapes of Middle Eastern music for us to listen to as we work.

Most of our students are from Lebanon, Syria, Palestine, Iraq, Saudi Arabia or Yemen. They were either born there themselves or their parents were born there. For many of them, summer vacations are spent with their extended families in the Middle East. Most are Muslim and Arabic is the language they speak at home. Many of our girls are scarved by the age of nine and at least half of the fourth and fifth grade students are fasting during Ramadan. By the way, that means no food and nothing to drink--not even water--between sunup and sundown for four weeks. They are awakened every morning at 5 AM in order to eat a big meal before dawn. Needless to say, our students have a tendency to be a bit wilder than normal during Ramadan.

So last week I asked if anyone would show me how they dance to this beautiful music. Some of the girls and a few of the boys danced for me. Wonderfully, I might add. We then started talking about Middle Eastern drums--the doumbek--and Susan told me a number of the kids were drumming for the school chorus. She invited them to bring drums to class today, saying that we'd use a little bit of class time to let them show me how they drum. Well, one fourth grade class really got into it! Not only did Ali bring his drum, but Susan let each child try it who wanted to. That was, each child and one adult. When I played, Ali said, "It sounds African the way you play." He was right: I've been taught to drum in an Afro-Cuban style. I wish you could have heard some of these kids. They were unbelievable! And then a group of girls got up to dance and I thought I'd walked into another land.

Do you see why I say I am the student here and they are my teachers?

As I prepared to leave for the day, Susan handed me eight large sealed envelopes with the names of each teacher on the outside. She said, "Here's something for you to look at on your long drive to Washington, DC on Monday." Inside each envelope--that I have not yet opened--are sympathy cards handmade for me by the students in every art class. How could anyone feel more loved?

I realize I haven't given you any pictures to look at since Sunday, so I'm going to dredge up a few images of the kids at school from last year. I've played with them so the boys and girls are not recognizable (I hope). Here's a gang of crazy boys, much more restrained girls, and one boy drawing with great concentration.


I've been hearing from a number of friends and journal readers that reading Mom's obituary has shown them what a remarkable woman she was. You know, when it's your own mother, you have a tendency to take her life with its unique twists and turns for granted. Especially in my family, where family stories were repeated so often they became old hat.

Mom was amazing, especially for a woman of her time. Last night I sent this remembrance to my sister Emily who has agreed to speak about Mom and her life at the funeral:

"What sticks with me is how her Grandfather Miller offered to pay for all his grandsons' college expenses but when Mom--his only granddaughter--asked him to pay for her to go to Meredith, he refused.  "Girls don't need college!", he said. So Mom worked her way through Meredith College in Raleigh, North Carolina by waiting tables in the Dining Hall and working in the Bee Hive, the campus store. Then, after graduating college, she had the nerve to go up to Smith College to get her Masters in Social Work. She knew no one there and had only heard about it from one of her professors. Apparently, she'd never been out of the state before, and took a boat by herself--this would have been 1934--from Wilmington, North Carolina all the way up to Boston. Once there, she took a train to Northampton, Massachusetts. When she got to Smith no one could understand her because she talked so Southern!"

This doesn't even mention how she grew up in a home with parents who were deaf and could not speak, so she was bi-lingual (signing and speaking) from the beginning. But that's another story.

Somehow after a person dies you can see their life as a whole. While Mom was still alive, curled up in her bed and seeing/hearing choruses singing on the walls, it was hard to remember her as a strong, vibrant woman who had made many exceptional choices throughout her long life. When I think of her now, she comes back in many different ages and circumstances. In my dream this morning, she was still living in our old house and I called to tell her I was going off with friends for a few days.

My friend Pat K asked me on Wednesday to give her some images to work with because she wants to decorate a memorial candle for Mom. What came to mind were a bugle like the one she used to call us home as children, a Blue Fin crab like we used to catch and Mom would cook at our Chesapeake Bay beach cottage in the 40s and 50s, the flowers she loved so much (especially red), and the Blue Ridge Mountains where my parents had their beloved A-frame retirement home in Virginia. What a thoughtful gift!


Tomorrow about 1:30 PM, Ed and I will turn my little red Neon in a southeasterly direction and start the trip that will culminate in the bural of my Mom on Wednesday. We've decided to do the journey in two five-hour legs instead of trying to be heroic and drive all 580 miles in one day. The wisdom of age and experience comes to our rescue. I've finally finished the Raging Grannies Without Borders business I needed to do--I'll be missing our performance at the CPR (Committee for the Political Resurrection of Detroit) fundraiser tomorrow afternoon--so now I can concentrate on what's ahead. I'm not looking forward to it.

I know it will be good to be with my family--even with all our weirdnesses--but the thought of seeing Mom's body lowered into the earth (or left beside the hole in the ground) makes me terribly sad. I love that body, even if it no longer houses the person I call Mother. Last night--actually more like early this morning--the tears finally came. I guess I'm coming into the next stage of grief...sadness. It's not easy for me to admit this, even here. I'm not fond of showing my raw side to myself or to the world, but there it is.

The greatest comfort for me has been the love of my Eddie and my dear friends. Today, Judy D. came over to run an errand for me, and then Pat K. brought the memorial candle she'd made for Mom. When you look at this candle, you are looking at my mother and the things she loved--her bugle, a Chesapeake Bay crab, and the Blue Ridge Mountains. Pat even used flowers indigenous to the Virginia mountains where Mom and Dad had their beloved A-frame retirement home. She put three flowers in the largest heart to represent Mom's three girls, then four dark blue flowers in the medium-sized heart in honor of Mom's four grandchildren, and two yellow flowers that are the sunshine of her two great-grandsons. I think the expression on my face and tears in my eyes thanked Pat more adequately than any words could have done.

This journal entry may be my last for a week. I am taking my laptop but am putting no expectations on myself to use it. Emails will probably mount up and stories will have to wait to be told. At least that is what I think will happen, but I may be wrong. We intend to return home either late Friday or mid-afternoon on Saturday. I wish my American readers a happy Thanksgiving, and offer my gratitude to each of you who has so lovingly held my mother, me and my family in your hearts during these past weeks. I'd like to leave you the gift of a poem by my favorite poet, Mary Oliver:


When death comes
like the hungry bear in autumn
when death comes and takes all the bright coins from his purse
to buy me, and snaps his purse shut;
when death comes
like the measle pox;
when death comes
like an iceberg between the shoulder blades,
I want to step through the door full of curiosity, wondering;
what is it going to be like, that cottage of darkness?
And therefore I look upon everything
as a brotherhood and a sisterhood,
and I look upon time as no more than an idea,
and I consider eternity as another possibility,
and I think of each life as a flower, as common
as a field daisy, and as singular,
and each name a comfortable music in the mouth
tending as all music does, toward silence,
and each body a lion of courage, and something
precious to the earth.
When it's over, I want to say: all my life
I was a bride married to amazement.
I was a bridegroom, taking the world into my arms.
When it's over, I don't want to wonder
if I have made of my life something particular, and real.
I don't want to find myself sighing and frightened
or full of argument.
I don't want to end up simply having visited this world.

© copyright. Mary Oliver.


© 2002 Patricia Lay-Dorsey. Please use with attribution.

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