Friday, August 28, 2009

Thought For Today

"Never put both feet in your mouth at the same time, because then you won't have a leg to stand on! "

Friday, August 21, 2009

Barbie and the Cow Tongue

I was listening to KRMP’s Open Mic this a.m. and Launa mentioned a family dish that she didn’t care much for called “Boom Boom”—which turned out to be beef tongue. Believe it or not, many countries and cultures eat the tongue of cows and other organ meats—liver, stomach, kidneys. Pork organ meats also include the intestines—chittlins, which are a Thanksgiving staple at my house—and I have family members that will walk a mile for some hog head cheese. Chicken livers and gizzards—fried and braised—are served in some of the best restaurants around the world. Unfortunately, organ meats are very high in cholesterol and are therefore no longer a part of my diet.

My Mom loved calf tongue. I think it was some kind of celebratory meal, because tongue is precisely what we had for dinner the night before I started grade school. Like so many Pre-K and kindergarten students this week, I was excited to be heading off to school and riding the big yellow bus! I had a brand new pink metal Barbie lunch box and—to my disappointment—a cold tongue sandwich on white with mayo—for my first school lunch! There was no way that my fellow 1st graders (we didn’t have pre-K and kindergarten back in the day in the country) were going to see me eating cow tongue! So, I hatched a plan!

When our class was dismissed for lunch, instead of retrieving my lunch box I took my milk money and apple out and pushed the box to the back of my cubby. Once in the cafeteria I purchased my chocolate milk and sat quietly eating my apple. When my teacher asked about my lunch I told her that I ate it on the bus on the way to school! Now this is where the story gets crazy and doesn’t make sense to anyone—except maybe a six-year-old.

At the end of the day, I left the lunch box in my cubby underneath my green nap rug! Why I did not throw the sandwich out and take the lunch box home is a mystery to me. I lied to my Mom and told her that I lost the lunch box. Needless to say she was pretty upset and told me that I “better find it” or I would wish that I did! This went on for a few days and finally I got some swats for “throwing away good money”! For the next nine months anytime my Mom was in a bad mood, she would bring up that lunch box and I would get extra swats!

I almost had my first heart attack at age six, when I walked in the classroom and my pink lunch box with the cow tongue inside was sitting on my desk! My teacher had found it hidden in the coat room and instructed me to take it home that afternoon. For the remainder of the day, I schemed as to how this could not and would not happen. When lunch time arrived, I grabbed the lunch box and returned to the coat room to retrieve my brown bag lunch. I took the pink lunch box and hid it in the cubby of a girl who had moved away and left a pink sweater behind. And there it stayed until the last day of school the following May!

What I didn’t know at the time was that one of the main duties for grade school teachers is to make sure the coat room is empty at the end of the school year. So when I arrived at school on what was suppose to be a joyous occasion, Barbie and the cow’s tongue was sitting on my desk. Despite my best efforts, I had been beaten! Gloom and doom road with me on the bus ride home. I slow dragged from the bus stop in anticipation of what was going to happen once I arrived home. I walked in the house, placed Barbie on the kitchen table and waited for my Mom to arrive.

She was filled with questions, excited that I had “found” the lunch box and that good money had been saved! It wasn’t until later that she opened the box. She shrieked and called me by my full name—first, middle, last! There was no longer a cow tongue on white with mayo, just a small ball of furry black! It looked like a baby field mouse; a perfect mold specimen. There was screaming on her part and crying (bellowing) on mine. The entire story—I “can’t” eat cow tongue, hiding the lunch box, lying to her and my teacher, deception, dread—came tumbling out. Why I spilled the beans, I do not know. She didn’t even realize that it was the tongue sandwich—it was unrecognizable!

The only answer I have been able to come up with in 50 years is quite simple. I was six-years-old. This explains why I didn’t throw the sandwich away in the very beginning and take the lunch box home. It also explains every other misstep and lie and why my Mom prolonged the inevitable for as long as she could and still make a lasting point.

After a couple of days of quaking in my sandals, my Mom instructed me to clean out the lunch box and that she wanted it looking good as new. Unfortunately, I had to go back and tell her that the box was clean, smelled good, but I could not get the rust out of the corner. With this “new knowledge” she sent me out back to the elm tree for a green, mid-May switch. With each swish came an admonishment about lying, scheming, throwing away good money, and beating some sense into me. To make matters worse, I had to carry that pink Barbie lunch box with the “cow tongue rust” all the way through 4th grade!

I think of the cow tongue sandwich on white with mayo every year when I see little children scampering off to school for the first time with their little lunch boxes and backpacks! I pray that they will retain that enthusiasm for school, for knowledge, and making new friends. I also pray that their snacks and lunches are nutritious and tasty. Most importantly, I pray that lying and deception will be foreign to them—at least until middle school!

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Yes, I've Read Section 1233 - Part II

Grandma Tish (April, 1890 ~ April, 1991)

Grandma Tish is my maternal great-grandmother; Grandma Gray’s mom. She died two weeks after her 101st birthday. I remember standing outside her hospital room and thinking to myself moments after her demise that she died because she was upset that she wasn’t 100-years-old anymore. Once she turned 90 that became her goal in life—to be 100-years-old—and I really think that is what kept her going. As far-fetched as it may seem; it is also why she died two weeks following her 101st birthday (my theory).

We had a grand celebration for Grandma Luticia’s 100th birthday. Grandma Gray--who was an only child--and all the grands, great-grands, and great-great-grands; plus her neighbors, church friends and church dignitaries. There were considerably more people at her birthday celebration than there were at her funeral one year later. Proclamations, telegrams and cards came from all over the country sending birthday wishes to the travelling evangelist that was instrumental in building many churches across the United States in her 70+ years "working for the Lord". Willard Scott from the Today Show sent a birthday-gram as well and apologized that they were unable to recognize her on air. It seems that there are thousands of Americans turned 100 every month and they couldn’t show everyone’s picture on television.

Grandma’s obituary says she departed this life following a sudden illness. Actually, it would have been more truthful to say that she departed this life because she was 101-years-old or because she was really, really old, but I’ve always leaned towards the dramatic when I’m writing! ;-) But that’s how it happened—the way most of us would like to go. One minute she’s talking to Grandma Gray on the telephone (she still lived alone) and 15 minutes later Grandma Gray shows up with her afternoon meal and Sister Tish is on the floor and not breathing!

And now to why I’m sharing this with you. The EMTs revive her and the emergency room revives her again. The question comes up about life support and the decision is made to hook her up to allow time for other family members to come and say goodbye. So my Mom and I hop in the car and make the 100 mile drive in record time. Fortunately (by the grace of God), my uncle who lives 2,100 miles away was already in town for a visit. So after everyone who could arrived at the hospital to say their farewells, the attending doctor was told he could disconnect the respirator. He advised us that she really didn’t have that long with or without the respirator, so it was best to leave it on so that we wouldn’t be second guessing our decision later. After a few hours, Sister Tish passed on to Glory, the respirator was removed, and we said our goodbyes again.

Weeks later we discovered that Grandma Tish had discontinued her life support much early than April 15th. Most of her pills--her daily, life sustaining prescription medications—were discovered in neat little piles between her mattress and box springs. Which supports my theory that she only wanted to be 100-years-old! I just imagine she had talked this out with the Big Guy and was pretty upset with all the reviving and the respirator. Loved ones never want to let you go, which is why we all need an advanced directive and someone knowledgeable—like our personal physician—to explain the provisions and the process. And this discussion should be covered by Medicare, just like Section 1233 of HR 3200 outlines.

Next: Grandma Gray (1908 - 1998)

Living wills and advance directives for medical decisions

Oklahoma Advanced Directive for Health Care

Oklahoma Advance Directive Act

Friday, August 14, 2009

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Yes, I've Read Section 1233 - Part I

Section 1233: Advanced Care Planning Consultation

These healthcare reform wars are driving my batty! In the beginning I was watching the news in amazement—couldn’t believe what was happening--the distortions, the rants... Now I’m just plain mad; afraid to watch the news with the remote close by because I’m afraid of where it will end up. What really has my blood boiling is all of the hype and down right lies about Section 1233—death panels, assisted suicide, blah, blah, lies, and more lies! I know some folks that are going straight to hell when they die. I guess what makes it so bad is that these fear mongers have twisted a provision of the proposed legislation that makes perfect sense to me—ethically, legally, and humanely.

I cannot count the number of times over the past two years that I have been asked if I have a living will and if not would I like additional information. But this is not why I favor the provisions of Section 1233—which I have read! It is because of my three abuelas that I feel so strongly—Grandma Tish, Grandma Gray, and Granny Fannie. All brilliant, business-savvy, forward thinking women; my sheroes who all spent their last days without an advanced directive.

MAÑANA: Grandma Tish (04/01/1890 ~ 04/15/1991)

FACT CHECK: No 'death panel' in health care bill

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

“Unshakeable Human Spirit”

Today President Obama bestowed our country’s highest civilian honor on sixteen individuals who exemplify “that our lives are what we make of them; that no barriers of race, gender, or physical infirmity can restrain the human spirit; and that the truest test of a person's life is what we do for one another.”

Watching the news play of this prestigious occasion, I was struck by the humanity that the awardees have demonstrated throughout their lives / careers.
While I was pleased that President Obama’s first “class” for such a high honor was truly representative of our country, I was more pleased by the diversity of life endeavors / choices of the awardees—which is why they were really chosen. But what made me beam from ear to ear was the fact that I KNEW who these men and women were and I got it! I mean, if I had to pick 16 people; I could not have done a better job! And I must admit, I wondered why it took so long for a few of them?

I am extremely proud today!

Speaking of the recipients, I remember the first time I saw a Sidney Poitier movie—1967, Guess Who’s Coming To Dinner. We went to the drive-in theatre to see it. It was one of my Mom’s favorite—she was a big Spencer Tracy fan and this was his last movie. In the early ‘80s my pre-teen son and I were at my Mom’s watching the movie for the umpteenth time. I think it was my son’s first time and as is customary with youngsters, he was stretched out on the floor paying more attention to something else than the movie. Are so we thought. Later over dinner, he posed the question, “Granny, what is a Negro?” My Mom looked at me with raised eyes and it was apparent that she was trying to stifle her laughter in the same manner that I was.

Of course, it wasn’t a funny question; definitely not asked in a manner to evoke laughter. If we had laughed, it would have been that nervous, almost hysterical laughter that comes with embarrassment. Embarrassed not because of the answer or the asker, but that the question had to be asked. Embarrassed because the eleven-year-old son and grandson of “black social activists” didn’t know what a Negro was. Embarrassed because although we had been dragging him to NAACP meetings and women’s rights rallies most of his life, realization was setting in that there might be a few things we had missed in our “upbringing”.

Blah. Blah. Negro. Afro-American. Black. African American. I think I’ll text my soon-to-be 13-year-old granddaughter and ask her if she knows what a Negro is. Somehow I “know” that my son has covered this base, but just to be on the safe side… I‘m certain the movie will be on real soon and in addition to Academy Award winner, they will no doubt add “Medal of Freedom” recipient to Mr. Poitier’s credits. And well they should!

Remarks By The President
At The Medal Of Freedom Ceremony

Monday, August 10, 2009

In Case You Haven’t Heard—I’ve Gone Mad!

Today I watched four episodes of AMC’s Mad Men and I am without a doubt H-O-O-K-E-D! Can’t wait for the Season 3 premiere on Sunday! For the past two seasons I have purposely boycotted the 1960s period piece because of its object sexism and racial stereotypes. There is nothing nostalgic about discrimination to me. This a.m. I’m lying flat on my back, can’t move, and can’t even maneuver any of the remote buttons with the exception of the power switch. So, I’m stuck on Mad Men and to my amazement was entertained immensely! Even after my joints came to life, I could not tear myself away from the Mad Men Marathon!

There are some pretty strong female leads and I suspect that more of the male characters will get their due or at least get slapped down a peg or two by one of the female characters in Season 3. I read this afternoon that Mad Men creator, Matt Weiner, regards his show as feminist. Last month he told the Huffington Post, that the show has a "painfully accurate portrayal of the treatment of women [in the 1960s]." It's too early in my viewing for me to say feminist yay or nay, so I'm reserving judgment for now. However, I do feel that the show adds value in that it is a realistic portrayal of how women "were" treated and therefore depicts where things could return if we are not vigilant.

I do have to admit that the hair on the back of my neck bristled a couple of times when the ad men got on the elevator and flat out ignored the elevator operator (common decency and all)! But then I remember that growing up some of the most intelligent and informed men and women in our circles were those “invisibles” that cooked, cleaned, tended the children, shined the shoes, operated the elevators, and most often had unfettered access to the penthouses and other bastions of power! Kind of like the mouse in the corner that we all wish we could be from time to time! I am confident that Mr. Weiner will deal with this issue as well as the series progresses.

My favorite scene today? No, not all the cigarette puffing and free-flowing alcohol. It is just too funny. I get tickled every time I think about it. Okay, the lead family (the Drapers) have just gotten a new Cadillac and they are out in the country having a family picnic. When it is time to go, Mrs. Draper stands up, picks up her picnic blanket, snaps it, folds it, turns and walks towards the Caddie, and leaves what looks like 33 gallons (trash bag size) of litter on the ground! My how things have changed. But then, there is no way that My Mama would have allowed us to leave all that debris, even in 1960—common decency and all!

Well, I’ve got six more hours of Season 2 recorded and suspect I’ll be purchasing Season 1 to catch up before Sunday night. Yes, I’ve gone Mad and I don’t care who knows it!

New "Mad Men" TV Show Uses the Past to Reveal Racism and Sexism of Today

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Why I Support HB 3200

“America’s Affordable Health Choices Act of 2009’’

Today is my baby sister’s 51st birthday. It is also on this date that she died unexpectedly three years ago. According to her death certificate her untimely demise on her 48th birthday was due to the complications of cardiovascular disease. My family and I know with certainty that the cause of death had more to do with access to healthcare than the bad genes that are our cross to bear.

You see, my sister was a healthcare professional—a Florence Nightingale. Like Florence she had a calling to the field of healthcare. Unlike Florence, she was not a person born of privilege and money. She knew the importance of diet and exercise to heart healthy living. Always preaching to other folks and hiding their salt shakers! Chicken and turkey. Turkey and chicken. She knew a million heart healthy ways to “spice up” a chicken breast. Blah-Blah-Blah! But as the television ads remind us several times each day—sometimes diet and exercise are not enough. Sometimes my little sister could afford her meds and sometimes she couldn’t. Even when she had insurance and could afford her meds, she would skip follow-up appointments with her doctors because she didn’t have the co-pay.

Healthcare coverage; the difference between the quality of care my baby sister received and me. RIP, Little Sister. We’re doing all we can to help President Obama ensure that healthcare reform is enacted soon. Happy Birthday!

“Sisters are different flowers from the same garden.” ~ Anon

“A sister can be seen as someone who is both ourselves and very much not ourselves - a special kind of double.” ~Toni Morrison

America’s Affordable Health Choices Act

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Live & Laugh--or is it Laugh & Live?

So I woke up this a.m. with Rickey Smiley on my mind and had to have me a You Tube fix. If you aren’t familiar with Rickey, he is just the funniest entertainer I know. Perhaps because like me, Rickey grew up in the church and a lot of his humor is church related. And like me and so many of my friends and family, Rickey is a social activist. So, he is like one of the family.

What got me to thinking about Rickey is a phone conversation last night with my Uncle Bill. He is one funny guy. While I have that dry, rye sense of humor, Uncle Bill is more like Rickey. He will have you ROFL! Hadn’t talked to Bill in a month of Sundays, which is always a good barometer of how I’m feeling. If I’m down and out, Uncle Bill is like white on rice. Not just with me, but with the family in general. If you got it, he is off taken care of biz. Always busy. Not in an always on, 0 or 1, kinda way. More like, the early bird gets the worm. Or idle hands are the devil’s workshop.

Any who. Uncle Bill and I spent some time last night talking about who died and who hadn’t died. We discovered yesterday that someone we both thought had died some years back was still in the land of the living. Of course, I should have known this because I do not have an obituary for this person in my collection. The collection that includes obituaries I inherited from my mom, my grandma (Mama’s mom), my grandmother (Daddy’s mom), and my great-grandma (Mama’s grandma).

At a later date I will “talk” about the importance of a well written obituary. My Grandma Gray taught me. It is so important for the future generations; they should be an informative, concise historical record of a person’s life. Obituaries are wonderful for genealogical research.

So as I lay in bed last night, I chuckled about my Uncle Bill chat. I thought about Rickey, who makes me laugh talking about everyday life. And a thought about another funny man—Seinfeld, who became a mega zillionaire talking about nothing. Which is why I can spend hours talking to Uncle Bill. We talk about everyday, nothing stuff that I can laugh and smile about later that day, next week, next year. Not trying to solve the problems of the world. Not trying to educate. Just making memories that will last and last. Forever. Or at least until the Alzheimer’s catches up to us and our bad heart genes. But what Uncle Bill has taught me is that laughter is truly the best medicine and just when I need a giant dose, he is right there—right on time!

“The love of a family is life's greatest blessing.” ~ Anon

“Memory is a way of holding onto the things you love, the things you are, the things you never want to lose.” ~ The Wonder Years

Rickey Smiley – Funeral Services (Funny Prank Call)

Heart Disease Risk Factors Raise Risk Of Alzheimer’s Disease too

Friday, August 7, 2009

'Wise Latina' -- You Go, Girl!

Three cheers for Sonia, Maria, Yurema--to all of my Sistas. "I am woman, hear me roar ..."

"I am a lion...I am a swift wind sweepin' the country, I am a giant, I am an eagle...
I am a marchin' band, I am the people...I am a helping hand, I am a hero...And I'm that little bit of hope..."

THE GREATEST! Girl Power. Hip Hip Hooray! Hip Hip Hooray! Hip Hip Hooray!

Boom Boom Pow! You Go, Justice Sonia! The world is your oyster, Sister Yurema, young sisters of all colors, creeds, religions, ethnicities--Koree, Kennedy, Monet, Kayla.

"Work hard so you can present yourself to God and receive his approval. Be a good worker, one who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly explains the word of truth." II Timothy 2:15 (NLT)

Thankful For the Heart Pump!

60+ hour work weeks. Coupled with 20 – 30 hours of other “stuff”. Six or less hours sleep each night. Always something to do. Something to see. Somewhere to be. Always thinking. Missed family time. No laugh time. Permanent wrinkles in my forehead. Striving always to be…Better. Slowing down only long enough to self indulge in the best and tastiest food that the fruits of my labor could afford. In the binary realm of 0s and 1s, it seemed that I was always a 1—always on. Living way too serious!

That was me before the heart pump. So it came as no surprise when the cardiologist told me I had a few clogged arteries. Nor did it come as a surprise when a little MI moved my surgery date up by a week! It came as no surprise when I awoke from the fog of open heart surgery with an external pacemaker lying on my chest and the news that in addition to the new arteries that I had a couple of new valves, too. No surprise that there has been a couple of trips back for other hardware upgrades. No surprise that 18 months later I was back on the pump again. No surprise that when I slip, I wonder how long will it be before…

So I give thanks for the pump. Thankful that I can see clearly. Thankful that I have found solace in just being still. An inner peace that passes all understanding—which basically means that it is not logical. Defies logic—the black and white, 0 and 1 world that has been my life. But the beauty of it all is, that what may be illogical to you or the former me makes perfect sense. I know of the perfect peace and so therefore I am thankful. Thankful for the pump!

You see, I have traded in the merry-go-round for a carousel. And I like it! Try it; you will like it, too!

“Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.” ~ Philippians 4:6-7

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Click To Empower Domestic Violence Survivors

Click To Empower. Brought to you by The Allstate Foundation.

Did you know that 70% of Americans know someone who has been or is a victim of domestic violence?
INTEGRIS Women's Health Forum
African American Women's Health:
The Imperative

Saturday, September 12, 2009

9:00 AM - 2:00 PM
Cox Convention Center, One Myriad Gardens
Oklahoma City, OK 73102
Cost: $0.00

Reservations Required

God's Peace

Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus … Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise. ~ Philippians 4: 6-8 NLT

It's About Time!

Okay--So I've talked about it; threatened to do it, etc. etc. Now it is official: I am a for-real blogger. Not sure what I will "talk" about or how often, but this is a good starting point. Thank you to all of have encouraged me to "share"!