Thinking About Fathers

Bob needs xxxxx (keeping it secret:) so with Father’s Day on the horizon, I placed an order. And I wanted to do something special for Tom, his first Father’s Day.

But yesterday my thoughts were about other fathers. I thought of George Floyd’s daughter, what a terrible loss she will have for all of her life. No more happy Father’s Days.  And this morning I woke to words in my e-mail from a friend who lost his dad to a heart attack yesterday. He wrote, “My dad is so much a part of who I am.”  I know that when my dad died in 1970, if I hadn’t been so angry about my terrible loss, I would have said the same.

I have written much about Mom; it took years for me to understand that she was at the core of my life, the person I have become. Yet it was Daddy who had center stage for me when I was young.

I watch the TV coverage of the protests and looting, and I see so many angry young people, an anger that I try to understand. I am more significantly struck by the black men who are interviewed on the street, men who have become angry. Not born with anger, but who have learned it from the injustices they feel daily. I think many of them are fathers. 

One of the things I have learned since Mom’s passing is that friends of my age enjoy sharing memories of their mothers. I, however, have not opened the door to thoughts of Dad. Moms get so much credit:  We wear so many hats; we are great at multi-tasking; just how did Mom do it all—work and cook and take care of the kids and house?

Today I am thinking of dads.

This week I have looked at those black men on the screen and seen their burden. In a time of pandemic and unemployment, in an era of continued racism and injustice, they are prevented from doing all that they need to do. My own dad felt this burden, I believe. He was expected at a very young age to make a living for babies he probably wasn’t ready for. He was expected to be the disciplinarian and the stern one. In those times he was expected to be the man and handle everything without showing a sign of weakness. I believe it was too much for him. 

I wish I could write a happy story now, but it isn’t in me. Yet I’m a positive, glass-half-full person. I believe fathers today are better at their job. They know how to share their feelings and how to share the financial burden of raising a family. Yet much is wrong. From our comfortable chairs, safe at home, we have to keep the images of black fathers in our minds and hearts. I remember the anger I felt fifty years ago. Fortunately, I didn’t hold onto it. I think, however, that I understand a little bit of what the protestors are feeling:  An anger at not being understood, at not being given a full life of opportunity and justice, an anger at the death of another father.

I sit at the sidelines as most of us do, wondering what to do. I saw a black man at the lake the other day, which is not a daily sight here in the mountains. I wanted to say, “Welcome. I’m so glad for you to be here in this beautiful place.”  I stopped myself; it would have been crazy to run up to him and give him a hug.  All I could do was smile and say “Hi.” It felt so lame, so insufficient. All of us in our communities need to do more;  our country needs to do more and become better through real change.

What doors can I open to ease the pain of these fathers and their children? I may never know. But I can vote. And I can read to better understand what it means to be black in America. I can write. I can advocate for change in my conversations with friends and with those who still don’t see beyond the surface of the TV images. God help us all as many in our country seek to lead us to change.

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So Many Things I Didn’t Know

—I didn’t know that I would miss seeing smiles on strangers, now that so many are covered by masks.

—I didn’t know I would feel annoyed and even threatened by those strangers who aren’t wearing a mask.

—What day is it? I hardly know at times.

—I never thought that the 2020 Presidential campaign would not be on the 24/7 news programs this spring.

—I didn’t know that I would look so forward to receiving mail, especially the weekly New Yorker:  The cover art has been amazing.

—Oh, my gosh! Zoom! I had never heard of it before the coronavirus.

—I didn’t know that we should have invested all of our money in Zoom. I thought the same thing about Google many years ago. Now I should know that any company with such a cool name should have our entire investment account. (I remember thinking that about Apple and Google, but I evidently forgot.)

—I didn’t know that there are so many kind and giving people in the world.

—And unfortunately I now know that there are people who aren’t kind, who show such anger over being asked to wear a mask and to stay six feet apart. I begin to know that there is much stupidity in our country.

—I didn’t know that tattoo parlors and bowling alleys are important services.

—I knew that people in many service jobs aren’t paid nearly enough, and I knew the statistics that many Americans haven’t saved any money, but I didn’t really know. Now I see it in the lines of cars at food banks.

—I didn’t know that I could wait eight weeks for a haircut.

—I didn’t know that I wouldn’t miss eating out at restaurants—I don’t expect all of my readers to agree with this one.

—Did I know that my husband and I could get along so well without a social life? I don’t think I knew that.

—I certainly didn’t know that our winter Scrabble tournament would spill over into May.

—I never imagined that school would be dismissed for so many months. A funny note that my sister forwarded from an on-line site:  “You think it’s bad now? In 20 years our country will be run by people home-schooled by day drinkers.”

—I didn’t know that given day after day of time on my hands I would choose not to clean out drawers and closets. Well, to be honest, I think I did know that.

—I didn’t know that Bob would not miss even one Sunday of church, a seven-week record. (You know Trinity is Zooming, right?)

—I didn’t know how much I would enjoy having a cup of British Breakfast during the church service. Well, again, I think I did know that about myself.

What am I learning during the pandemic? I think I’m still sorting it out, and I imagine that you are too. But I do know that I am fortunate to have a wonderful daughter and son-in-law, a son who for the moment is doing okay, a husband who I want to be healthy with for many, many years to come. And a baby in our family that I want to protect from germs and hate and want. I am fortunate to have sweet memories of Mom on this Mother’s Day. And I am fortunate to have friends and readers. I don’t know what you are thinking and learning during this pandemic, but I know it is deep and important. I know because that is who you are.

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April 5, 2020: Snow Tonight, Sunshine Next Week

That was the weather forecast when I looked a couple of days ago. Tonight the sun in shining as it goes down in the West. We did have snow today, but we also had baby grunts and smiles as Trump was delivering his daily address. Sunshine in some corners; craziness in others.

Isn’t that what all of life is. Of course, we are living in these extremes now. Yet most of us are okay. We need to remember that and reach out to those who are hurting.

Yesterday as I walked in Bend, I met a homeless man. He was doing okay. Amazing. We were complaining that our rental cottage doesn’t have cable TV.

I feel as if life as we’ve known it in all of our baby boomer years has been put on a shelf. All that we’ve known is over there somewhere. Within reach, but not touchable. I remind myself that we are the privileged to sit at a computer and write while doctors and nurses struggle each day—not enough safety equipment, tears when they leave their shifts.

That brings me to tears and outrage. Are we the greatest country? I don’t think so. We have to do better, one vote at a time, one voice spoken when the opportunity presents itself. For now, all I can do is take care of my own little family, and you no doubt feel that too. For now, that is what is right. But in November there will be an opportunity to do more. 

We took Theo for a walk today in the local park. Every time another jogger or walker approached, I moved as far to the right as possible though Bend is not exactly a hot spot. My mama bear instincts—well, grandma bear to be more exact—were on high alert. Don’t you dare infect this sweet, innocent baby. Grandmas, Omas, Gigis, Mormors, we need to lead for our babies. And we need to believe in hope—faith, hope, and love and the greatest of these is love. And in this era I would add action.

Will we be different after this virus passes. I don’t know. I fear not. But I would wish that for our babies we would be stronger, more outspoken, more active in saying what we know is right. 

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What Will We Remember?

What Will We Remember?

Last week I called my cousin, who is in her mid-eighties—so hard to believe. I will always think of her as Jean, who sunbathed at the public pool in town and no doubt was made to take my sister and me along. Perhaps this only occurred a couple of times, but I remember how beautiful she was and those shining legs! Baby oil no doubt, no sunscreen in those days.

As we talked about the corona virus, she said that memories of the Great Depression had been coming back to her. She was nine or ten and remembers rationing and hard times. Today as we hunker down in our mountain home, where many of our daily patterns have been put on the shelf, I’m wondering what all of us will remember of this time.

Will I remember the empty shelves at City Market. Will I remember how tired some of the workers look. Or that my iced tea yesterday at Starbucks cost over $3.50, when last week it was $2.74!

Most of my friends, retirees, are safe. Disappointed about cancelled travel plans, but safe. No doubt some feel lonely or bored or simply at loose ends. One talked about cleaning out closets. Oh, no, that’s not for me. I’d rather bake cowboy cookies and deliver them to neighbors (and save some for myself:)  I’ve sewn two baby bunting bags and today will begin p.j.’s for the new mama.

Yes, a baby born during the pandemic. Oh, the stories we will have for him. 

I don’t know if we can control our memories, the ones that we will talk about over wine—when we are allowed to venture out and have a glass together. But I heard two stories this morning thanks to the perky anchors of the Today Show. The first was a $2,500 tip left for the wait staff at a restaurant that was on the verge of closing. A note asked that the money be divided among all of the workers, whose financial security is now at risk. The second was a video clip from Italy. An elderly lady in quarantine was standing at her window listening as neighbors serenaded her with a birthday song. A birthday during the pandemic. It was a beautiful scene.

Many of us will have birthdays celebrated alone or with one or two family members. Our friend Sid celebrated Sunday with the kids and has decided for now that will be their group:  The eight of them, including the in-laws, will get together as much as they can, keeping themselves all safe in that family bubble. 

What will your memories be? Think about it. Maybe we can work to hold onto the good and forget about our losses. Maybe we can give a thank you to the folks who are still working, stocking grocery shelves. Maybe we can call a neighbor. We can make memories for others and for ourselves so that we have sweet ones to share someday with the Theos, Lalas, Harleys, Louises and Elaines–all of those dear babies of our world.

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Moments

A quotation from an English Lit class, read so long ago, comes back to me again and again:  Virginia Woolf’s language for those times that are often sudden and unexpected but that stay with us for a long time, in some cases forever. She called them “moments of being.”We all have them. Sometimes joyous, often sad, but always deep. The little fragments of time that stay with us. We all have many moments of being.

Tonight I am thinking of two in my life. One was nearly a year ago when Mom had recently been moved to a nursing home. I flew into St. Louis and drove to this rural facility that was foreign to me and to her. After I had been with her for just a short while, she lifted her hands off of her lap, held them in front of her and said, “I don’t know what is happening.” She was midway in to her slip into dementia. This is a sad one for me that I won’t forget, and truly, I don’t want to forget.

The second one is another memory I return to often lately. Erika handed me her phone as we sat in a restaurant bar on a cloudy day this past September in Connecticut. The first picture was of her little pup; the second was of a sonogram. It hit me that she was showing us their new joy, a baby that would come into our lives. I immediately started crying, tears of amazement and happiness, new life and new possibilities.

I could go on and on sharing my moments of being because there are so many. Like you, I have had many tough times and so many good. I don’t know what Virginia Woolf would have said about these moments, but I now am wondering what is it that we are supposed to do with these extraordinary experiences that create a forever memory in our minds and hearts. Do we simply hold them as photos in a scrapbook, occasionally bringing them out to look at once again? Or do we occasionally share them as I am doing now? I think there can be more. I believe that these special moments can and sometimes should lead us to action.

Lately I am repeatedly struck by the news of what is happening to our planet. More moments of being that are disturbing and frightening. I don’t know if this is because we are expecting a grandchild. I have cared about children for all of my adult life; I don’t want to think that now for the first time I am really caring about what we are leaving future generations.

I am consumed by the news of global warming, cancer-causing chemicals in waterways, oceans filled with plastic. All of it old news, but new in that our pollution of the Earth can no longer be ignored. We are the children of The Greatest Generation. What will our children and grandchildren call us?

I feel so helpless when I read and know what is ahead if we don’t take action to consume less, pollute less, create less refuse for our landfills and oceans. I am not a scientist. I have no grand answers. My feeble, but committed recycling efforts no doubt add up to nothing. I have to do more and I am trying to learn how. Tonight it is my hope to raise your consciousness or let you know that you are not alone in your concern and  frustration.  I have to speak up because these moments of awareness are adding up. Like my mother, I hold up my hands and ask, “What is happening?”

For our babies to come, all of our children, we have to do more. We have to demand that our government servant/leaders, a term from Robert K. Greenleaf, do more. We have to vote for those leaders who promise to act. We have been given much and now must do more.

It must be our generation’s moment of being.

 

 

 

 

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Eight Thousand Days, Plus Or Minus a Few

Mr. Kitty and I enjoy having workers in the house.  Last week it was the window washer, Bruce, who enjoys having Kitty follow him around from room to room, as if the cat, too, wants to become an expert at washing windows that reach to the sky.

Today it’s two plumbers and the chimney sweep.  He follows these men around with such interest and intensity.  I refrain from doing this, but I like the sounds of the work, the footsteps, and the male voices.

I was always the girl who wanted to be with the men after Christmas or Easter dinner.  Of course, I couldn’t get out of helping the women with the dishes, but as soon as I could escape from the kitchen, I would be taking a walk in our village with Uncle Wilfred and Daddy.  What did they talk about?  What could I have understood?  Not much, but it was the men I wanted to be with.

Now I love being in my kitchen cooking, but when it comes to conversation I enjoy listening to the sound of the men. And today it’s the working men.  I hear them talking about the truckbed that needs to be organized, and then they laugh a bit.  I don’t need to be near them, but I like knowing that they are doing their jobs today with a lightness and hopefully a decent paycheck.

Sometimes I have to remind myself that much of the world is still working. As a retiree with many retired friends, the working world is not much in my thoughts, until I wonder how I will spend my next winter here in the mountains.  Volunteering is fine, but there still is within me that desire to be paid for my efforts. On occasion I look in the local paper to see what job might fit my skills; then I remind myself of my age and the fact that I’m certainly not going to work a weekend job or a Wednesday or Thursday or Friday job when I might want to snowshoe or read a book.

I read a lot and know how fortunate I am to have been taught the love of words and stories.  So often I wish I could call every person I know and say, “You have to read this!”  An article, a story, a novel.  So here’s something for you, my reader today, a nugget from the New Yorker.  I’m paraphrasing Joseph Coughlin, the founder and director of the AgeLab at MIT.

Coughlin has done the math of our lives:  from age zero to twenty-one is about eight thousand days.  From twenty-one to midlife is the same.  And also the mid-forties to sixty-five is eight thousand days.  And get this:  After sixty-five you have a 50/50 chance of living to eighty-five. Guess how many days that is. Eight thousand!

His point is, that we need to rethink this one-third of our adult lives.  It’s probably not only about grandchildren and senior citizen lunches, though of course, that’s all good.  He asks, “Why don’t we take that one-third and create new stories, new rituals, new mythologies?”

I don’t have an answer for myself exactly, and I certainly don’t have one for you.  But there are so many of us, I think we have to do it: Think about these eight thousand days and what we want them to be.

For Kitty and me it’s now quiet, no footsteps treading up and down the stairs to the work site. Andre is gone, moving on to his next job.  Kitty is having a snack probably thinking a nap is next.  He doesn’t know that our best-neighbor-in-the-world, Clyde, will soon be here to do some handyman jobs.  Kitty and I keep him on the “payroll” because we love his voice and his kindness. What’s next for my thousands of days? I don’t know, but after reading Joseph Coughlin’s words, I know that my thoughts will be there, thinking of his advice, thinking of the many, many days and wonders open to me. And you!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Note to Daughters (and Sons): Save a Dress

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Several mornings each week of our winter and spring mornings, I walk out to our woodshed to carry firewood in for the day.  Since Mom’s passing, those cold, early morning treks have been my time to say a few words to her, telling her how much I miss her, how I will never stop missing her. This morning in the first moment when she came to mind, I saw a color, a very bright coral dress.

At the funeral visitation in December, I was surprised to see Joe Niederhofer come through the line. Later when some of us gathered at a local restaurant for pizza, he was there with other friends, all of whom had come back to our hometown to honor Mom. He remembered Mom as a cook at our local elementary school.  I was surprised that anyone would remember that. I told him how much I remember about our mothers together.  His mother was a seamstress, and there was a time in Mom’s life when she evidently could afford to have dresses custom made for her body shape.

It was the sixties.  I think Joe’s mother was probably thinking of Jackie Kennedy.  All of the dresses were the same style, polyester fabric, and Mom only had a few. Short-sleeved shifts with a zipper down the back, hidden, of course.  (I still do a double-take when I see dresses today with zippers brazenly showing down the back—so risqué–when we seamstresses worked so hard to hide them.)  They were bright colors.  Do I remember an aqua?  Oh, I wish I remembered more.  But I do remember that bright coral dress.  And in a family that was at the lower end of the economic scale, these dresses made me believe that my mother was pretty special.

At her funeral there were many people who brought memories back to me. I realized how special she was to so many.  Did I not know that before?  And since that time, back in my own home, far away from my forever-home, I have with a few tears told people how much I miss her.  Every woman I have shared these moments with have told me about their mothers, how much they miss them.  That the feeling of not being able to pick up the phone to call mom never goes away.  That the feeling of loss never goes away.  And one woman at a recent party told me that her mother died when she was a child.  She knows how much she had needed to be nurtured by a mother.  I now see this woman differently, with more compassion.

As I write this essay this morning, I am asking myself, where have I gone with this, what is this about? Sharing?  Letting people in?  Remembrances and the surprise of what others remember?

It started out with a coral dress.  One that I wish I had.  What would I do with it, other than fold it up, put it in my cedar chest and look at it occasionally when I open the lid to get a clean sheet or a blanket.  Maybe that would be enough.

Carrying wood this morning, I thought of another of Mom’s dresses.  When we cleaned out her house readying it for sale, Marsha and I decided we could include her wedding dress, her third wedding, in our Goodwill bundle. Later that became a funny story for me alone and maybe someday I will write it, but I’m at over five hundred words now and that’s enough for this blog. In taking a few minutes to write this morning, I realize I do have these dresses, in my memory forever, a beautiful coral made by a lovely lady in our little hometown.

Finally, a note to my daughter, you don’t really have to save one of my dresses; well, if I had a Jackie one, you probably would.

Love to all of my friends who are reading and especially to all who have shared a bit of their mother-memories with me.

 

 

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Live Well

My favorite jeans, a pair of skinny corduroys, have a narrow patch sewn inside by the zipper.  I see it/read it every time I pull them up or take them off:  “Live Well, Do Good.”  (Yes, they are eco-friendly pants:)  Such simplistic advice. It reminds me of the book I’ve never read:  All I Really Need To Know I  Learned In Kindergarten.

 Yet it isn’t simple. Live Well.  There are a million and one interpretations.  How to live well.  To be happy.  To be rich.  To be safe. To be successful.  There is no one way to live life well.  How do we do it.

But to do good.  Maybe that is more obvious.  Currently our country is in a crisis of how to do good for ourselves, our federal employees, and the immigrants who want in, many of them just wanting to “Live Well.”  Can we ever be close to achieving this goal, to do good.

Today as I sat at Denver Health, having given a fellow county resident a ride for her medical appointment, I was reminded of what I’ve known for so many years.  I am a result of two wonderful accidents.  First, the accident of my birth.  Having been born in the United States, I’ve had too many opportunities to live well, which has given me an ability to then share my good fortune with others.  Today I could stand up and say, “I did good.”  I helped someone who is not so fortunate.

And then my second accident: I married my first serious boyfriend, and he turned out to be a good man.  I know that not every woman can claim that good fortune.

But I had so much time today on the long ride to and from the city and in the hematology waiting room to reflect on what is perhaps my greatest good fortune:  I was raised by a mother who through her example, not through lectures or scoldings, taught me to want to live well and do good.  She was soft and caring, yet a tough cookie who survived many hardships.  She sacrificed always for me and my sister. She bought us books. She took us on summer outings.  She made sure we were well-fed and always ready for the outside world.   She insisted that college was in our future, when it hadn’t been possible for her. She gave her all to us.  How could we not want to become women who wanted to do good.

It is such a sad time for our country, not just now under this administration, but for a long time all that we see is men and women wanting what is good for themselves and their careers or their fame.  I am sick of it.  President Trump may be the number one narcissist, but he is not alone.  I know this isn’t fair.  There are plenty of good civic leaders all over the country wanting what is good for all of their citizens, but they are drowned out by hate and  anger, xenophobia and racism, all of the tweets.  Me, me, me! So it feels as if our country is losing in the fight to be good and do good.

One little gesture at a time.  One bit of kindness today and tomorrow.  I think that is all that I can aim for.  I can only hope that in the next days the leaders of our country will put their politics second and their people first, getting workers back to work so that they too can live well.

It is what I hope to do for all of my days as I honor my mother.  I miss her so much and must try to be all that she wanted me to be.  She never put it into these words, but I am certain it is what she wanted for us, her girls, and all of her grandchildren. To live well and to do good.  Wisdom in a pair of jeans, my thought for you tonight.

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Mom

This visit to Illinois was in June, my last Scrabble game with Mom and friends at Heritage Woods.

December 22, 2018

This blog began in Irvington, Illinois, in April of 2013.  I don’t expect any one to reread it, but in a nutshell, I woke up from a nap in my old bedroom and said to myself, “I can write, too.”

And in that blog I wrote about how Mom surprised me by noting that Erika was a good writer, and she knew that was a career that I had wanted for myself.  I didn’t know she knew me so well.

Now just over 24 hours since Mom’s passing, I am thinking about all that she has given to me as a role model, as a close friend.  I am feeling so sorry for myself, yet I know that I have to constantly think of all the wonderful memories, all that I had with her.  Is this how you all felt when you lost your mothers?

But now I’m thinking she is not lost.  I am beginning to know that.  I read an essay recently by a woman whose mother slipped into dementia.  When her mother died, she felt she had lost her twice. I silently agreed, but now I am thinking differently.

Yes, if you lose your mother to dementia, that is a terrible loss.  I have friends who have experienced that, and I have only had a glimpse of how hurtful it is.  Mom’s dementia was relatively brief.  But now I’m thinking, though my life is changed forever, that I have not lost her. No more trips to my home place.  No one to call and talk about our beautiful winter snow.  No one to send pictures to.  A big, big hole in my life for sure.

Yet have I lost her if I have 68 years of pictures and memories.  I’m thinking not and I’m hoping that will sustain me for the days ahead.

Erika truly is the writer in the family.  She wrote beautifully on Facebook about her grandma and included a wonderful quote from Willa Cather.   It is on her page and mine if you have a few minutes to read.  Readers and writers, we were somehow inspired by Mom, one of her many gifts to us.

My advice if you have your mother in your life:  call often, go on trips together, share many meals, talk about what you have read and what you are thinking.  Don’t hold back.

Written today, tearfully, but gratefully for a wonderful mother.

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Men On Southwest

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First, I have to say that I love Southwest airlines. I find the cheapest flights and a few times a year, free flights, so this is not a story about Southwest. It is a story about men.

Every few months I fly to St. Louis to see my mom. In June I had a terrible flight sitting between two men, neither of whom was huge. But they spread their arms out as I sat in the middle. To them I didn’t exist. Today I flew from Denver to St. Louis and again I was in the middle seat. Both men had spread their arms onto the armrests, not giving me an inch. They didn’t say a word as I got settled in my seat. So much silence yet I felt like screaming through part of the flight.

In the past I might have just found this annoying, but since the Kavanagh hearing, I find myself noticing even the smallest, inconsiderate things that some men do. In the past I think this minor injustice wouldn’t have bothered me, but now I feel so much anger.

I like men, I really do. When I was a child, I always chose to spend time with the male family members; the women in the kitchen bored me. To take a walk with Daddy and Uncle Wilfred after Grandma’s Sunday meal was a treat. To be in the kitchen with the women, cleaning up– that wasn’t for me. Grandpa introduced me to hot tea, which has become a lifelong habit, and the desire to own a pick-up truck. Daddy taught me that outdoor work was not just for boys. Hence I’ve always been one to mow the lawn, split the wood, plow the driveway.

But the men I encountered on Southwest are not like my husband, my son-in-law, or my brother-in-law, the men in my life now. I can’t imagine that those three would ever hog an armrest and make an older woman feel invisible.

I feel angry tonight thinking about those two men sitting in row 14 with me today. Yet I know that my anger has been displaced from Justice Kavanaugh to strangers on an airplane. I’ve been a feminist ever since I knew there was such a term and at the same time a little girl and a woman who likes the company of men. But I feel something is different for me since that hearing and since President Trump’s mocking of Dr. Blasey Ford. And I don’t know what to do with that anger.

If you are a woman, maybe you feel that anger too. However, this morning on
the Today Show I heard a woman say how she and her colleagues felt so badly about how Kavanaugh was treated. I can’t deal with that.

If you’re a man reading this, which may be unlikely, I hope you’ll understand why so many women are angry. Our anger may seem petty or rude or just plain unkind. And you probably don’t deserve that. But let me say: it is a terrible feeling to carry, to think that your words don’t matter. That memories of any kind of abuse don’t matter. That you are a woman who is invisible.

I am not a victim of abuse of any kind. I am, therefore, one of the fortunate ones. Still, I know that today I was treated as if my comfort, my existence, was not equal to that of men. I didn’t assert myself. I was not taught to do that, and perhaps that is the biggest lesson of my flights on Southwest. I can only hope that I have done a better job with my daughter and that she will do an even better job if she has a daughter. To teach our girls to stand up for themselves. To lean in and, when necessary, push those elbows out.

My heart tonight is with Dr. Blasey Ford and all of the girls and women who have been made to feel invisible. Who have been hurt by boys or men who didn’t think of them as equals and today don’t think of them at all.

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