Warts and all Mom, warts and all

My mom died this past week.  First thought: now there’s no one between me and the abyss.  Third or fourth thought: sure there is.  Because I’m lucky enough to have a family. Here’…

Source: Warts and all Mom, warts and all

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Warts and all Mom, warts and all

My mom died this past week.  First thought: now there’s no one between me and the abyss.  Third or fourth thought: sure there is.  Because I’m lucky enough to have a family.

Here’s the eulogy I gave at her graveside. 

If my mother was sitting here, she would be saying “for heaven’s sake Charlotte, sit down.” Our 93-year-old mother had very concise thoughts on when to speak and when to be quiet. Tough old bird she was – she mowed her lawn on the day before she died and I’m willing to bet every bird feeder was full. So while I’m willing to let her go, her 93 years on this earth deserve our recognition.

Christine i-n-e or Christene e-n-e –was a living, breathing dichotomy. We were never sure how she was going to spell her name or which way was right – something that has been very apparent lately. I suspect she would have said “it’s none of your damn business.”

Smart as a whip she was, she grew up as a farm girl. With six sisters and one brother, she worked on the farm and was as strong and capable as any man. The physical strength she developed as a kid carried her body through a lifetime of hard work and giving birth to six children of her own; and while she had to have repairs and replacement parts, she was straight and strong until the day she died.

Her life wasn’t a fairy tale by any means. Hard work was her constant companion. What was in her heart few if any ever really knew because she guarded it like a sentinel. While keeping her own counsel, however, she made a home and a garden wherever she was.

She told us stories of her life when she left the farm and married our dad, who was dispatched to Germany soon after the wedding. She and her baby, our brother Larry, lived in an apartment and she baked bread for the neighbors and took in laundry to support them. I believe this was the happiest time of her life – I know she looked back on it as a time she was independent and free and she always spoke of it gently.

After World War II, there were three more little boys in quick succession. There is no doubt that it was those four little faces that sustained her through building a life. Howard, Ricky and Robert . . . and eleven years after that me and four years later John. She had children in the house most of her adult life.

In the late 1960s she sent two of her sons to Vietnam. Every morning while they were gone, she sat at a table away from the hubbub of the house and she wrote to them. She marked the days with her letters and she did what she knew how to do – she sent cookies to them on the other side of the world.

Mother was never comfortable with crowds and things like weddings and anniversaries and parties were never her cup of tea. She was happiest in her yard, among her flowers and berries and gardens and the birds.

Summertime was always a bounty in her home. The woman could take a handful of lard and bowl of flour and make a piecrust that truly did melt in your mouth. I never saw her use a recipe – or as she would have said – a receipt. Apple pie, cherry, berry, pumpkin pie . . . and something she called “poor man’s pie.” The leftover crust was always spread with butter, cinnamon and sugar and may have been the best thing I ever ate.

Not much of a television watcher, she did tune in to Ruth Lyons 50/50 club every day as she ironed and after that As The World Turns. Every day. The only other thing I ever saw her watch on television was college basketball and “her Buckeyes.” Woe be to the hapless kid who got between her and the game.

Mother loved cars. Pretty cars, fast cars . . . whenever anyone in the family had a new car, they drove it home to show her. She watched racing on television and had her favorite drivers. One year, I took her to Mid-Ohio to see the races. To my utter astonishment, she walked right up to Mario Andretti in the pit garage. He gave her a huge smile, put his arm around her and said “well hello Sweetheart and they walked in to look at his racer, leaving me standing there utterly bemused.

Later in her life there was more time for her. As the burden of raising us eased and grandchildren came, she was able to find time to enjoy life more. Always an avid crochet and knit expert, she made baby blankets and quilts and more with precise, beautiful stitches. Even when arthritis claimed her hands, she would wash dishes to warm them up and pick up her latest project. Always a reader, she loved the work of Zane Grey and read everything she could find. I know it made her heart happy that my nephew, Terry, is a cowboy. She went on bus trips with our Aunt Mary and also with her friend Joy. She joined her grandchildren on vacations. With them she saw the mountains and the ocean for the first time. I’m sure the only reason she ever stepped on an airplane was because Toni lived in California. You’ll do just about anything for your grandchildren.

There aren’t a lot of photographs of mom, but the best ones are with her grand- and great-grand children. In those photos you see her smiling. She loved her grandchildren more than even they know. And she loved babies. Never cared much for dogs and cats . . . but she did love babies.

She would not have tolerated being called a feminist. She was pretty hard on women – just ask her granddaughters. One of the dearest things that I ever saw, however, was when she – in her mid 80s – was having her shoulders replaced. More than they will ever know, she relied on Keri’s expertise as a physician to guide her to a surgeon and when she struggled in recovery, it was Beth, a speech therapist, who patiently taught her what she needed to know to recover.

While she kept vigil over her own heart, however, it is a testament to what she held there that despite her shortcomings and the myriad challenges she faced and hardships endured, she brought good people into the world. Hard-working, loving, dedicated and intelligent children who grew to bring in the next and the next generation and have sustained them and cared for them. She gave each of us a measure of strength and determination that binds us together as a family despite our own faults. She loved each and every one of us – differently to be sure. My mother rarely, if ever, could say “I love you” to anyone. Not with words. But she raised people who could and who do. So now it’s time for us to say good job, mom. Love you.

This Is How Democracy Works

WooHoo! Reason #2,348 why I love the Democratic Party. I just left the caucus to choose representatives from our Congressional District to attend the Democratic National Convention in 2016. I was there to support Cara Weiser Posey in her bid to become a delegate for Hillary Clinton in 2016. Predictably, it’s a big tent when Democrats come together. Anyone who doesn’t think Central Ohio can be an exciting place has never dipped a toe in the political waters here. What characters these liberal mortals be. Young and old; Black, White, Asian, Indian and Hispanic Americans — all taking a seat at the table and willing to stand for what they believe in. College students and retirees; exhausted parents corralling toddlers and young teenagers trying to look suitably bored.

Given the luxury of two minutes at the microphone, the delegate-candidates were a microcosm of America. The retired Gay lawyer who was able to marry her long-time partner just last year. The older woman who has volunteered for the Party for years and is ready to state her case nationally.  The two college students bubbling with enthusiasm “we are young Democrats” was their oft-repeated greeting.  The older gentleman who was a delegate to Bill Clinton and who proudly said “now it’s her time and I want to be there.” The aspiring young comedian who said “you won’t forget me, my last name is Arabic you see” and then waited for the laughs (and was content with the chuckles from the assembled.) The University professor who held up a children’s book titled “Girls Can Be Anything,” which Hillary had signed for his daughter in the last go around. “Send me,” he said, “so I can keep my promise to my daughter – that’s her right there (pointing out a standing and cheering youngster)- and support Hillary.” Union members, church members and not all that many looking like they had a lot of money in the bank. And my candidate who said, “I want to support Hillary for those kids sitting right there,” indicating her two kiddos, one of whom was celebrating a fifth birthday supporting her mom.

The Bernie Sanders supporters were rocking and rolling from the beginning and even as we caucused for Hillary, we could hear them making a joyful noise in the adjacent auditorium.  It was hard to not have one ear cocked in that direction. They have a lot to say and it’s important that these things be said. It’s a benefit to all of us when every voice is heard.

Being a Democrat in America can be a messy business. Most of us don’t always use our church manners when confronting injustice, discrimination, oppression . . . and mean people. We speak out, speak loudly and sometimes we sound a little crazy. But as many delegate-candidates said tonight, do you want the party of Trump to install three Supreme Court judges? Not me.  Added bonus?  Not one grey suit and red tie to be seen.

So we came home to await the results. I hope our candidate is elected. But I know her, just like I know all of the others I met for the first time tonight. We are Democrats and in the end, we will support the nominee — and we will continue to squabble and fuss and encourage and lift up and go headlong into the fray. It’s just what we do. ‪#‎ohiodems‬

Wild Soccer Dad or Howler Monkey?

Watching your kid play soccer, or any sport, can be a joyous occasion or break your heart.  Sometimes both in the same game, match, competition or event. 

I’ve seen it all over the years watching soccer matches. Parents screaming at their kids, storming the field to make a point with an official, kids begging parents to just. stop. I’ve talked about it, written about it, thought about it and come to the conclusion that my job as a parent is to provide support, understanding, enthusiastic cheering and just simply be there. Now that my kid is playing at the college level, I’ve learned that being there still means everything to her and she’s willing to forgive the occasional lapse on my part as I contribute my opinion to a call made on the field.  “That was all ball,” is my common advice after one of her awesome slide tackles. To-date, no official has responded with “gee, I’m sorry — missed it — never mind!”

One of the joys of D3 athletics is traveling to other universities and seeing the architecture, the facilities, the other kids. Just this year I’ve seen colleges in Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Indiana and throughout Ohio. They are all beautiful and each is unique. Parents at this level are nice people for the most part. They drive a couple of hours or more to see their kids play and they all just seem happy to be there. You run into each other in the stands and more often than not feeding the team in the parking lot after the game.

The competition on the field is fierce and the players are celebrating successes, wins, goals or trying to understand what they can do to help their team and be a better player. If you watch closely, you can see it all. Sadly, what I saw Saturday was a parent who wasn’t, clearly, just happy to be there. Watching his daughter play on a beautiful Saturday afternoon on a great field with an historic college serving as the backdrop wasn’t enough for this guy.

I don’t know his name, but he is the first person in memory that I would have happily punched in the nose. He really did get inside my pacifist skin. Throughout the first half of the match, his vitriol and incredibly loud voice served as an irritant for “our side” and infected “his side” more and more as the match went on. Playing to a 0-0 tie in the first half, the young women on the field were intense. They were working so hard, on both sides, and it was purely a joy to watch these young athletes in their prime.

Our team went down by a goal in the second half and everything seemed to ratchet up a notch, both on the field and in the stands. My daughter had a throw-in (for you non-soccer-people she was throwing it in from the sidelines) right in front of the other team’s fans. She’s really good at this, but that particular throw-in wasn’t her best and I could see from the look on her face that she knew it even as she let it fly.

And then, Loud Dad from the other side stood up and screamed as loud as I’ve ever heard anyone scream, “nice throw number three.” He screamed at my kid. Before a moment went by, I was on my feet, pointing at him and calling him out. Me. Pacifist. “You! You never yell at my kid!” I was beyond furious in that split second. He started to stand up when the person with him urged him to sit. Lucky for him, because this soccer mom was out of her mind angry with him. There is nothing on earth so dangerous to man as a woman completely out of her mind with fury who perceives her child is under attack. Nothing.

Eventually the match was over and our kids took the loss. My kid processed it coming off the field and as is her bent she took responsibility for the loss. Despite my assurance that it was, indeed, a game and no, her team didn’t hate her. And yes, there will be another game in a couple of days. Life goes on — how did you do on that research paper?

I couldn’t get Loud Dad off of my mind, however. Away from the team I swore to never return to that college if “that’s the type of people they have there.” Of course, it isn’t. They have students in residence, not their idiot parents. That’s a good thing.

Then, Sunday morning, while reading the news from the week, it all became clear. I read an article about a study performed with Howler Monkeys. Howler Monkeys are very loud. Aggressively loud. That’s how some of the males attract females. By being very loud. More interesting than that, however, is that the study concluded that the loud monkeys were the ones with the small testicles so the only way they could attract partners was by being loud. The monkeys with the big ones just didn’t have to yell so loudly. What do you know about that? (Howler Monkey Study Abstract)

Now, make no mistake, I am not calling this screaming human a Howler Monkey. Frankly, that may be an insult to a monkey just trying to get his freak on. But coming down through the Hominidae family tree . . . well some traits just linger don’t they.

howling fatherhowler monkey

My Money, My Decision on Merit Based Pay for Public Employees — Legislators In Particular

Members of the Ohio Legislature have a base salary of $60,583. They are paid from $2,500 – $10,000 more for committee assignments. Any leadership position nets thousands more per year. They are paid mileage at least once a week during session to drive to and from home. They have a full health insurance benefit and of course the Public Employees’ Retirement System. They also have campaign funds that they use to reduce their personal expenses for cell phones, computers, cable service, meals and entertainment etc. A veritable slush fund if you will.

The average salary for an Ohio teacher is $56,307. You may recall the recent strife when the Reynoldsburg School District made a move to drastically cut benefits and I can tell you from personal experience that health insurance benefits for teachers have radically changed in the last ten years — not to the benefit of teachers. And the State Teachers’ Retirement System has been jockeyed around by the state legislature until teachers have been put into a position of bargaining and positioning against retirement.

Oh ho, you say! Teachers do not work year-round. I invite you to review the legislative session calendar. They are gone weeks before school breaks and they don’t come back on the first Monday after the holiday. Despite the occasional lawyer amongst them, they are often people with a minimal college degree. Far, far too many of them are career public employees who wouldn’t recognize the private sector if it hit them on the nose. (Witness my own state senator, Kris “girls are just like that” Jordan.)

Yet these part-time working, full-time earning denizens of the public good are, once again, reviewing teachers’ salaries. House Bill 343, now before the Ohio House Education Committee would once again strip teachers’ salaries. The old “merit pay” argument. They say, “gee, some teachers aren’t very good, so why should they make as much money?” How about this boys and girls: some of you aren’t very good legislators (I call your attention to the barely literate vice chair of the House education committee, Andrew “I love the tea party and I’ve got your phone number” Brenner. I don’t think you should make as much money as a good legislator. In fact, I think you should receive merit-based compensation. And since you are ALL paid with my tax money, I’ll decide who merits what.

The traditional teacher pay schedule might not be required in Ohio anymore – if a proposal in the House Education Committee moves forward. The state Senate…
CLEVELAND.COM

Andrew Brenner has nothing to worry about

motivatorb49773dfb4982aff839776a216ae1c192f7c9007 (2)Andy Brenner, my state legislator in the Ohio House has nothing to worry about.  He can keep collecting that tax-funded paycheck even while screaming about the size of government. He can fulfill his fantasy of public leadership even while using his wife’s crazy train blog site as an unreported campaign propaganda machine.

Today the editorial board of the Cleveland Plain Dealer joined liberal leaning writers (like me) on the internet in pointing out the issue with one of his latest blog posts. If you haven’t read that, you can find it here. However, they, along with so many others, make the mistake of thinking that Brenner ever had an original thought.  He takes his ideas and marching orders from the American Legislative Exchange Council.  Privatizing public schools?  That decree came from ALEC months ago.

Dennis Van Roekel wrote about it last summer for the Huff Post after viewing “The United States of ALEC.”  Here’s a link to Dennis’ article.

Andy is so proud of his ties to ALEC – after all, they fund his vacation yearly (shhhh . . . it’s a conference).  He rates his ALEC participation right up there with the work WE pay him to do.  From his official bio:  “I serve on the following committees: Education, Vice Chairman; Public Policy and Oversight; Financial Institutions, Housing and Urban Development; and, Rules and Reference. I also served on an ad hoc committee on Technology in State Government in the 129th General Assembly. In addition, I am a member of the tax policy task force for the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC)”

So no, he is a mental midget and didn’t dream up this privatization idea on his own.  He just used his own deplorable grammar to outline it – and then backtracked that we just “don’t get” his sense of humor.  Believe me, I find him very, very funny — just not the way he thinks.

Delaware County Ohio has a history steeped in GOP politics.  The central committee is adept at creating openings off the ballot process in order to appoint people into seats. They even refer to it as “It’s not his turn yet.” They are the security blanket over people like State Senator Kris Jordan when his wife is recorded on a law enforcement dashcam asking for protection. They are the dysfunctional group that is standing by while a seated county commissioner runs for another seat on the same board. It looks crazy, but if he wins, it opens a seat to which they can appoint a crony.  In Delaware County, we don’t need no stinkin’ elections. If by chance they must (sigh) endure such a public spectacle, they just flood the conservative, young and affluent voter block in the southern tier with “ballot cards” in their mailbox. That way, the voter can just carry that card into their polling place and not have to think.

Andy served his time as the county recorder, narrowly evading accusations of bid rigging and sexual harassment. He traded on gossip and ran local campaigns like the lap dog he is until they gave him the House seat after Jordan moved into the Ohio Senate.  It’s a convoluted story — but it was a gift given by the GOP central committee and given dignity by apathetic voters. The local GOP created and condoned this goofball and if they cringe at his antics now, they know he is their little monster.

 

Brenner a failed apologist

Oh Andy, you are married to a self-proclaimed “editor-in-chief.” How about you have her proof your writing?  Or maybe she does. That’s even more disturbing.  But I just have to tell you Mr. Brenner –every time you open your mouth or take up your pen you are just making your mess a little worse.

For instance, Andy, your on-line whining because people took issue with your Wikipedia-fueled thoughts on public education. I’m beginning to agree with you, if only because your own public education was so lacking.  Or perhaps it was the student.

We must ask the question, if our state legislator is incapable of writing a coherent sentence, should he be a member of the House Education Committee.  I think not.  To wit:  “All that mattered to the left was to spread the lie, demagogue me, and rewrite history if they could.”  Andy, Andy, Andy.  No one, no matter how they may try can demagogue you.  Demagogue is a noun, sweetie.  Thus you can be and you likely are a demagogue, but you cannot be demagogued (that’s not even a word but perhaps it will help you understand.)

dem·a·gogue

noun \ˈde-mə-ˌgäg\

: a political leader who tries to get support by making false claims and promises and using arguments based on emotion rather than reason  (Merriam-Webster — try it next time it’s much better than Wikipedia.)

Here’s another: you wrote “It’s a mean, deep-seeded, vindictive hatred.”  Now in Ohio we could perhaps “deep-seed” in our gardens in order to get below the frost line.  You likely meant “deep-seated.”  Generally it is colorfully used to explain that something has gone on for a long time.  Certainly, between you and I there appears to be a deep-seated animosity.  Sorry it just doesn’t rise, at least on my side, to mean, vindictive or hatred.

A final comment for your morning grammar lesson — ease up on the commas.  You will never be able to grasp the ambiguity surrounding the use of the Oxford comma.  Just ease up and you won’t look quite so stupid.

My State Rep Is Almost Illiterate

Andy Brenner, (remember him hiding behind the dumpster?) has done it again.  Pumped up with ALEC ideas — mostly because he never has had an original thought — and egged on by his #tcot pals, has now accused the system of public schools in Ohio of being “socialistic.”

Since Andy used his wife’s blog to deliver his groundbreaking news, I thought I would ask my spouse, a 30-plus year veteran teacher, to lend his thoughts on Andy’s news.  So, as my guest blogger today, here is the perspective of Douglas Joseph, public school teacher and private college adjunct.  Take it away Doug!

In response to your “legislator’s perspective” entitled “Public Education in America is Socialism, what is the Solution?”, I would like to express a 30+ year educator’s perspective.

Mr. Brenner, let me remind you of March 24, 1997, when Judge Frances Sweeney wrote for the 4-3 majority vote (Ohio Supreme Court) – “We send a clear message to lawmakers (I think he meant you and your ilk).  The time has come to fix the system.  Let there be no misunderstanding.  Ohio’s public school-funding scheme must undergo a complete systematic overhaul.”

As of December 2002, the 4th decision was handed down by the Supreme Court that Ohio legislators must do something about the way public schools are financed. Instead of criticizing the jobs teachers are doing, and that is what you seem to be saying, why don’t you do your job?

There are many points in this article to which I take exception, but let me point out to you that one of the biggest complaints I have about this article is the author.  You have been elected by the people of my community to serve the people of my community.  I have never seen you walk through my building during a school day so how can you judge the job I am doing?

You mention that Bill Gates can’t find qualified workers in America?  So you must be saying that the 93,000 people employed by Microsoft  around the world must not be very smart.

You mention teacher unions are running the schools.  Teacher unions do not decide curriculum, schedules, etc.  I have spent more of my time dealing with state initiatives (OGT testing, evaluation systems, OPAPP) in the last five years than ever.  The state mandated OGT testing disrupts the education system for over 3/4 of the students for a week of school.  I and my peers are taken out of classrooms to have meetings, grade practice tests, learn new state initiatives — anything but teach.

Your definition of socialism comes from Wikipedia.  For your information, most professional educators refuse to accept Wikipedia as a reliable source to be used by our students.

You are a product of a public school education.  Were you unfairly educated?  Were you able to achieve a college diploma?  Your parents lived in a specific school district and you attended that school.  Would you have taken the money and run?

You mention privatizing schools – I think you are referring to charter schools, which I know you have a vested interest in.  Are you still receiving campaign money from corporate owners of charter schools?  How about that license plate — that was cutting-edge legislation for schools.  Why are so many charter schools closing?  How many have been successful?  Lets compare report cards of public schools and charter schools.  How long can you protect your contributors.

I have to wonder if your fear of schools, educators and knowledge is something you should have checked out.  At any rate, Mr. Brenner, I invite you into my classroom at any time to teach for one day.  I look forward to watching an expert at work.  Maybe I can learn something.

Thanks, Doug — couldn’t have said it better myself!

 

Disenfranchised – what a hoot — Updated!

Update:  woo hoo!  I’ve been miraculously “un-blocked” and can now access the public pages of delawaregop.org.  Isn’t that nice!  Maybe I should have just let someone know.  Sniff.  Feelin’ the love.  Also delighted with the number of people who read my blog overnight.  🙂

There’s been a lot of talk lately about who will appear on the Republican primary ballot in Delaware County.  Gossip is rampant that a fight is brewing between the Tea Party and their local survivalist nut Kris Jordan and the quietly-sliding-to-the-center Pat Tiberi.  Each reportedly has a candidate or two and plans to push them through.  Then there’s the undeviating nutbag county commissioner Ken O’Brien who tells people that he’s running for a different seat on the Board of Commissioners.  Well sure.

So since it’s all so interesting, ahem, I thought I would check out the local website.  Imagine my surprise when I saw that my IP address had been blocked. gop blocked  That’s right, fair reader, the Delaware County GOP Central Committee is so frightened of this soccer mom that they went to the time and trouble to block my IP address.  

Now, some of you may remember that some time ago, Brenner1 and Brenner2 blocked my email address so they wouldn’t have to see my emails pop up in their in boxes.  And Brenner2 blocked me from her Twitter feed so I couldn’t comment on her grammar.  While I have often spoken out about how stupid they appear to be, they were smart enough to know they didn’t want to hear what I had to say.  That part about being one of Brenner1’s constituency notwithstanding.  He doesn’t need any constituents — especially those who disagree with him.  He just needs the sheep-like votes of people who don’t really want to be bothered with their government.

In the last local election cycle I protested — quite nicely if I say so myself — about the candidacy of one of their own who had multiple addresses.  One of those addresses, and central to my argument, appeared only on the local GOP website.  So let this be a cautionary tale to those of you who seek information about elected officials in Delaware County, Ohio.  If the local Republicans don’t like what you have to say, those champions of free speech and government transparency will find a way to pull the curtain.  And I guess they thought that would be okay.  What it is, however, is cowardly and more than a little pathetic.

A Force to be Reckoned With

Cortesha Cowan stands out in a crowd.  She speaks with confidence and certainty.  She wears one of the brightest smiles I’ve ever seen.  I met Ms. Tesha last summer at a grant opportunity meeting for nonprofit organizations.  Direct Energy’s Reduce Your Use for Good program makes grants to nonprofits for increasing their energy efficiency.  Not surprisingly, Cortesha took it all in, applied and won a grant for the nonprofit organization she founded (one of several) for homeless teen moms.

Mothers Helping Mothers is the umbrella over the Haven of Hope Shelter.  Teenage girls come to Haven of Hope House with babies and young children.  They come empty handed and out of options.  They come with the clothes on their backs and little hope for the future.  They find shelter and security.  They find people with warm hearts and determination that life can be . . . and will be . . . different.  What they do works.  And they do a lot.  Having already helped over 250 teen moms and their children in many different circumstances, they have seen high school graduations and even a college degree and moved these young women on to independent lives.

Haven of Hope House has ten bedrooms and a full back yard where children can play in safety.  Sometimes it’s the first time in their lives they can do so.  The moms find refuge, support and guidance.  They find expectations, too.  Expectations that they will grow into self-sufficiency.  They will be healthy.  They will be in charge of their lives and care for their children.  They find people committed to helping them with the basic necessities so that they can complete their educations; so they can develop interpersonal skills that will lead them to employment; so they can plan their families in the future.  They find strong role models.

Tesha is very upfront and clear about what she needs to make this happen.  When told by the City of Columbus and major nonprofit organizations that she needs “important” people on her board, she laughed right out loud.  “What I need,” she said, “is people who will work.”  When she said that, I thought, ok.  I can work.  She told me “sometimes I get tired.”  “And then one of those little ones comes up and wraps arms around my leg and looks up at me and I think yes . . . I can do this one more day.”

Tesha has stayed in casual contact with me and we have talked about her goals, her dreams and the building she is rehabbing in Mansfield, Ohio to create a shelter there.  I have asked her repeatedly what she needs and how I can help.  We both knew the time would come.

A couple of weeks ago, with the holidays looming, Tesha and her crew were working toward providing a Christmas for the teen moms and their children. She wanted the moms to have the opportunity to give gifts to their children.  To know the joy and the dignity of providing for your own.  Moms who have nothing and spend their days in basic survival mode.

As kind as people generally are, we all tend to get distracted with our own lists and families and needs, and that is how it should be.  But thinking of Cortesha and the girls and the babies, early last week I posted a message on Facebook.  I shared a link to Cortesha’s website and suggested that if anyone had an urge to help someone during the holidays, this group could use their help. I said I would be happy to deliver anything.

Over the next few days, my entryway began to pile up with gifts.  Friends called for the address so they could mail checks.  Gift cards were put under the entry mat.  Toys, food, warm clothes created piles.  A friend who owns a bookstore called me for a pickup of an enormous box of books.  Supplies for the daycare they run for the little ones mysteriously appeared.  Family members put together gift bags and left them on my porch.  By the time my own teenage daughter and I left for the Shelter, my car was packed to bursting with the generosity of my friends and family.

We stopped on the way to pick up bottles of sweet-smelling lotion for the moms.  Cortesha had told us that last year when she had her first Christmas party, they had some things for the kids but nothing for the moms.  Looking at my own teenager, warm and safe and dressed in the best the mall has to offer, it seemed a small thing to have a bottle of lotion for ones self.  Even as we drove down, my brother called and said “let me help.”

Arriving as Tesha along with her staff and her mother were setting up, Han and I helped them unload the car.  She showed us the rooms where the moms could “shop” for their kids and the bounty reaped in toy drives and community pleas. They had fallen just short of their goal — until our car was emptied into the mix.  They never stopped working with their community dinner just hours away but the laughter, the hugs and the stories created a joyful noise.  The excitement was palpable and the joy evident on their faces.  Tesha stopped for a moment so I could take a picture of her and Han.  We traded wishes for the holidays and hugs of joy for the generosity of those we love.

Han and I left them to the party, knowing that we had just been given a wonderful gift.  A couple of miles down the road, my daughter said “I feel happy.”  Me too kiddo, me too.

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Yes Fox News, this is Santa Claus

Thank you so much my friends and family for the kindness you shared with young women you don’t know and likely never will.  But you have shown them that they are not alone in the world — and reminded me that I am not alone in the world either.  I love you all.