The Real Heroes Are the Unsung Heroes

The Unsung Heroes

Mamacita says: Is there anyone else out there who can flip through a history book and wonder where everybody is?

So many unsung heroes. Too many.

Far too many genuinely important people get no mention whatsoever, or maybe just a brief mention, in passing. So many people who really ain’t all that get whole chapters dedicated to them; don’t even get me started on General Custer – the man was a complete and total loser.

But. . . where is Madame Walker? Where’s Denmark Vesey? Clara Barton? Laura Bridgeman? Maria Mitchell? Amelia Bloomer? (Guess what got named after her?) Where is Elizabeth Blackwell? Marie Curie? Ira Hayes? Thomas H. Perkins? Joseph Lister? Louis Pasteur? Yuri Gagarin? Frances Willard? Lucy Stone? Sojourner Truth? Nikola Tesla? Miep Gies? King Haakon VII of Norway? Laika? And so many more. . . .

Our children don’t know who these people are. Some of their parents don’t, either.

Most of the time, in any kind of drama, the most important participants are not the ones in the limelight. The most important participants are standing in the wings, or behind the curtains, actually DOING something. They understand that it’s the “DOING something” that’s important, not the”being seen in the vicinity of people who are doing something”.

These people are did things, awesome things, things that helped shape our lives today. Inspiring things. Brave things. But how many of you actually know who they were and what it was they did?

Erma Bombeck was right spot-on: “Don’t confuse fame with success. Madonna is one; Helen Keller is the other.

IT: The pronoun of desire and hanging out

College friends

College friends shaving-cream-bombed by the men’s dorm.  We knew what “it” was, and we knew we had it.

Mamacita says:  I wonder sometimes if one of the reasons some people age horribly and die, is because they have stopped hanging out with friends.

Of course, if they are REALLY old, they may have stopped hanging out with friends because there’s not that much to do in the cemetery.

But for people (naming no names) who are perhaps just beginning to be on the old side, whose friends are still (mostly) alive, it’s just as much fun to hang out with friends as it was years ago, when we all skipped last hour Chemistry to pile into someone’s blue Corvair and head out to the State Park to meet guys.

When my children were little, and it was purt nigh impossible to get away and hang out with friends (partly because it was purt nigh impossible to get away, and partly because they had small children also; living a hundred or a thousand miles away contributed to the level of difficulty. . . .) those few and far-between episodes of getting together quite possibly saved what little sanity I do have.

When we meet now, and yes, Virginia, we still meet once in a while, though not nearly often enough, the only thing that’s really changed, besides our faces, hair, bodies, and big purses, is the fact that we no longer have little children at home. Some of us have GRANDCHILDREN. Not me, though.

Ahem. Are my children reading this journal?

But the giggles, the nonsense, the silliness, the goofiness, the sheer love and devotion, are all still there in full force; possibly in fuller force than when we were younger.

Yes, definitely. Fuller force.

Maybe because, THEN, we knew what we had but didn’t fully understand that it could vanish in the wink of an eye. We were young, we were attractive, we knew it. And it would last forever. How could it not? And NOW, we know what we had and we know what we still have and we understand completely that yes, it could very well vanish in the wink of an eye, and that yes, some of it already has. We have mirrors. And even though we no longer have some of ‘it,’ we also know that, whatever ‘it’ was, we still have SOME of ‘it.’ And we aren’t afraid to use it, either.

No, not THAT kind of ‘it.’ Although, now that you mention ‘it’. . . . . . . . . . .

Those of you with small children: be sure you make time for your friends. “Hanging out” isn’t just for teenagers. You need it more than they do. Hire one of them, and go meet your friends for a few hours. Keep doing it until you are dead.

Your older children and possibly a husband who won’t be requiring any sex for a while, might make a comment about how “hanging out” means something entirely different on an older woman with, um, body image deficiency. Remind them all that they know where the food is kept, and that the sofa sleeps one person very comfortably indeed. And then leave.

Get out there and use ‘it.’

Readers may interpret “it” as they please. All answers are probably correct.

We Used To Know Who Lived Next Door

We used to know who lived next door.
We used to know who lived next door to us.

Mamacita says: Next door. Some people don’t even know who their next door neighbors are. We work during the day, and are so busy and tired at night that we no longer invite the neighbors to come over and sit on the porch with us. We live so close to other nice people, and we barely know them.

As a child, I knew who all our neighbors were. Most of them had kids my age or near it, and we played together all the time, inside each other’s houses and in everybody’s yard. Everybody’s mom was all of our moms. We seldom saw any dads, but it was a different era and most of the dads were at work.

We did know that every mom on the block would tattle to every other mom on the block if they saw any of us doing something we shouldn’t be doing. It kept us fairly well-behaved.

When neighborhoods had sidewalks, people used to walk on them. It was another way to meet the neighbors. As kids, we walked almost everywhere on those sidewalks. We walked to school. We walked to the store. We walked downtown. We walked to the library. It was inconceivable to expect a ride to any of these places. I mean, what in the WORLD.

My neighborhood has no sidewalks. People walk their dogs in the middle of the streets here. This is fine, because there is little traffic here, and dog-walking neighbors are usually friendly. I still don’t know their names, but we wave and exchange remarks about the weather.

There is only one house with little kids, and whoo boy, that family would not have lasted two weeks in my old neighborhood. So loud. So intensely, incredibly, unnecessarily loud. Screaming people.

But that’s my neighborhood today. Like most everything else, neighborhoods have changed.

The internet has given us a second chance to hang out with nice neighbors. Tired as we are, we can press a few buttons and have instant access to lots of wonderful people. Our internet neighbors are warm and friendly and we love them, as our parents loved the neighbors next door and across the street and down the block. They had time. We don’t. It’s a shame.

But late at night, after the kids are in bed, when all the actual neighbors are asleep, we can sit at our computers and talk with our internet neighbors, and catch up on their lives, and learn about their children and their jobs and their pets and their homes and their hobbies and interests. We help each other with our problems, and encourage each other. We sympathize, and we rejoice. Just like good neighbors do.

Nothing has really changed except the location of the neighbors. And on the internet, there are no barking dogs, screaming kids, vandals, blaring sirens, loud parties, or cranks. Well, there ARE, but we don’t have to notice them.

Unless we want to.

Yes, our internet neighbors are the finest kind. I love you all. I really do. You are real. I’m real. And if you lived near enough, I would loan you a cup of sugar any time of day or night.

A Woman’s Heart Attack

The human heart
The human heart

Mamacita says: I had a heart attack on New Year’s Eve. Actually, it began the Sunday before, but I didn’t know what it was.

I have since learned that a woman’s heart attack is usually very different from a man’s heart attack. We see men having heart attacks in movies and on TV, and it’s always dramatic – stabbing pains, a clutching at the chest, and a heavy collapse. But women’s heart attacks are not like that, at least, not usually.

The thing is, what a woman’s heart attack is like is not easy to pin down. I can only tell you first-hand about my own, but while I was in the hospital, I learned a lot about it that I did not know before. My doctor told me to tell all my female friends, and it wouldn’t hurt my male friends to know this, too, that a woman’s heart attack is a sneaky bitch.

That Sunday night, I felt a nagging, subtle but uncomfortable sensation beneath my left breast. I thought to myself, well, it’s the holidays; I’m crazy busy; I’m stressed; I’m exhausted – all these explanations worked because they were all true. Besides, as I said, it wasn’t really a pain; it was more of a sensation.

However, it didn’t go away.

The next day, it was still there, not any worse, but not any better, and it had spread across my chest. Still not actually a pain – still more of a subtle sensation.

By Tuesday night, it was still there. Still no worse. Still no better. Still not a pain. Still just a sensation.

I thought it might be heartburn, but I don’t really get heartburn. I consulted Dr. Google (never a good idea, by the way) and decided I might have pneumonia. This didn’t overly concern me – they’ve got medicine for that these days.

Later that night – New Year’s Eve – my husband took me to the walk-in clinic inside the nearest hospital. The young woman at the desk asked me what the trouble was, and I told her I had a persistent sensation across my chest.

She raised her eyebrows and said,”We take chest pains very seriously here. I’m sending you to the ER.”

Chest pains. It was the first time that so much as crossed my mind. Chest pains. CHEST PAINS? Wasn’t that a heart attack? Was I having a heart attack? But only old people had heart attacks! I couldn’t be having a heart attack. I just couldn’t be. Where was the drama? Where were the stabbing pains?

At the ER, they took me in hand and looked and listened and poked a few needles in my arms in preparation for things to come and loaded me into an ambulance and took me to the BIG hospital thirty miles away.

There, the waiting doctor (so handsome) cut a little hole in my wrist and threaded a long super-thin wire up my right arm, across my chest, and into my heart. I was getting a stent. Being me, I was awake throughout the entire process.

(It was the pulling back out of that wire that was the weirdest thing.)

Then they wheeled me upstairs to a private room (yay!) and I begin four days of being treated for a massive heart attack.

Massive.

I felt exhausted beyond measure, but otherwise fine. I’m almost always tired; it comes with being a woman.

I was covered with tubes and needles, and was being given medications enough to sink a much bigger ship than me.

The nurses, both male and female, all looked to be about fourteen years old, but everybody does, these days. All were super, super nice.

After those few days, I was sent home and told not to lift anything heavier than a gallon of milk, and not to drive for three days. I was given a bottle of nitroglycerin and told to carry it with me at all times.

Today, almost two weeks later, I feel fine. Still bone-tired, but I honestly don’t even remember not being bone-tired. No pain. Lots of pills to take twice a day. But I am fine now.

The motto of this post is this: Ladies, do not take any kind of chest pain for granted as something minor that will go away on its own. Go to the ER immediately. Your heart attack will typically be unimpressive, undramatic, subtle, sneaky, and reminiscent of a strong salsa aftermath. Men, if your female loved one has these symptoms, take her to the ER. Her heart attack is not like your heart attack.

A woman’s heart attack is unimpressive. It isn’t loud. It isn’t dramatic. You will probably think, as I thought, that it was heartburn. Whatever else you do or don’t do, don’t consult Dr. Google; he’s a lying quack.

I hope none of you ever have to deal with this, but it’s good to know what to expect if it doesn’t happen.

Don’t take your health for granted. Don’t try to be stoic and wait it out. Take care of yourselves, my internet friends who mean so much to me.

Take care of yourselves.

Oh, and I hope you had a more festive New Year’s Eve than I did.

Poetry Friday: January 10, 2020

It’s Poetry Friday!

Mamacita says: I always ask my students for a show of hands: Who hates poetry? Hands go up all over the room, because our students are not taught about poetry; they are subjected to it, and selections from the lowest bidders at that.

I haven’t done my duty by Poetry Friday for a while, but I intend to rectify that, starting today. Or tonight, as the case may be.

Poetry is music, my dears. You hate poetry? You have no favorite songs, then? Take away the melodies and what’s left? That’s right. A poem. Now let me ask again: Who hates poetry? Put your hands down, you bunch of liars.

Robert Frost (the laureate who recited at President Kennedy’s inaugaration) was once asked how he thought the world might end. He thought long and hard about this, and came up with two ways, both absolutely viable.

Fire and Ice, by Robert Frost

Some say the world will end in fire,

Some say in ice.

From what I’ve tasted of desire

I hold with those who favor fire.

But if it had to perish twice,

I think I know enough of hate

To say that for destruction ice

Is also great

And would suffice.

In many cultures, what we refer to as “Hell” isn’t hot; it’s cold. This makes perfect sense to me.

Think about it.

This one hasn’t been set to music, but it’s still considered a lyric.

The ancient Greeks revered poetry so much that three of the nine Muses are in charge of most of the poetry, but the other Muses dip their hand into a lyric or two whenever it suits them. The Greeks were smart; they knew that poetry makes the world go round, and that even the sciences were part of the poetry of the universe. More on the Muses later.

Eve and Morn

My favorite modern Christmas story. . . .

Mamacita says: Christmas is such a magical time.  We anticipate it all the rest of the year, and then suddenly it’s here, and it’s so special, so wonderful, and it’s over so quickly. . . .

Let’s not forget how Katie, age 8, in a book I quote probably way too much but how can one help it when the book is so full of wonderfulness, What Child Is This, by Caroline Cooney, put into innocent words that the night before Christmas isn’t called a ‘night,’ it’s called ‘eve,’ and Christmas morning isn’t called ‘morning,’ it’s ‘morn.’ Eve and morn: two special words to highlight two special times.

How special are they? They are special already, in their own right, but how you make them special for yourself and for your children is entirely up to you. I hope you give them memories they will cherish all their lives, so much so that they will pass the glory along to their own children.

Children flourish with roots, but they soar with wings.

May your Eve be full of anticipation and warmth, and may your Morn be all you hoped it would be.