Last Sunday,for the third year in a row, we attended the Compassionate Friends' Worldwide Candle Lighting with our friend in Tucson. He is Joe's high school and college buddy and our own personal Clint Eastwood, a real tough guy. Three years ago he lost his son and namesake in a tragic death at the age of 32. No more tough guy. It almost broke him. By good fortune, he found the Compassionate Friends - an international self-help group for bereaved parents and their families. It has helped him cope with his grief - although he will never overcome it.
Joe and I joined him lighting candles in the memory of his son and the deceased children of the other 300 people who gathered that night. There is not a more devastating sight - than that of parents, grandparents, siblings, aunts, uncles and friends gathering together, creating a circle of flickering candles. All of them have have lost a child. Don't ever try to console them by saying "I know how you feel." You can't, I can't, no one can who has not lost a child themselves.
This is a joyous season and I don't mean to strike a negative note. I just want to make a suggestion. Those of you out there who may be estranged from a parent, a child, a sibling, a friend - reach out to make the relationship whole. Whatever came between you cannot be as bad as losing that loved one. Of the people I talked to last Sunday night- those with the deepest sorrow were those who lost their children during a period of silence.
I just sat down to write a few Christmas cards. My normally parochial school, Palmer penmanship hand writing is now coming out like chicken scratchings. What happened? Okay, so I have a little arthritis in my thumb - but no big deal. What is going on here?
Here's the analysis:
We pay all our bills electronically - don't write checks
Every purchase is MasterCard - nobody checks signature, much less penmanship
Birthday, sympathy, thank you notes are sporadic, not clustered
My last writing workshop was in July - free writing, stream of consciousness lasts less than 30 minutes
I write all my short stories on the computer
I communicate with my kids and grandkids on Facebook or by text
OMG - I have become one of them
I guess I'll survive my last few years without beautiful cursive writing, but will I feel good about it? I was proud that my mom and my aunts and I all had that great handwriting - so legible, so correct, so rhythmic. What shall I do? Sit in the library, at the pool or in front of the TV practicing Palmer penmanship - or just stop sending real Christmas cards and sending the fake Facebook ones or an E-Mail? No - I'll keep sending the written kind so you can sit back and say - "my, Lynn is really failing - just look at her penmanship." It will make you feel better and it won't bother me at all.
In the meantime - for those of us who learned to communicate in real words and sentences, let's think about our grandkids who may have never had to do that. All you moms and dads - I'd love to know.
Are your kids learning cursive?
Do you make them write stuff once in a while ( like thank you notes)
Do the colleges they apply to require written essays ( not typed?)
Do employers ask for writing samples ( as I did )
If the internet goes kaboom - will they be able to talk to their friends and family
Am I making too much of nothing?
I'll be okay - will they?
I really would appreciate your insight. Now I'm going to go check all my other body parts that I haven't used lately - I think I may be on to something.
It is never easy to end a relationship. To end one that has lasted for 36 years takes a lot of pondering and flip-flopping. In this case it is a one-sided relationship, so all the flip-flopping and pondering have been mine.
It started with an early warning, a "dear Sam" letter, if you will - I wrote an open letter to Sam Zell mourning the demise of the Chicago Tribune after its makeover over a year ago. Although the paper has printed several of my letters to the editor in the past, they failed to print that one.
I followed up with an open lament on this blog just this past October.
We suspended our subscription to the Tribune and the New York Times for our trip to Tucson ,which was to have started on November 17th. We didn't leave Chicago until the 25th so it left us paper-less for 8 days. I started looking at the Trib on line - obituaries, top headlines and an occasional glance at the editorial pages. Between that and Yahoo news for Chicago, I didn't feel like I was missing much.
We did get our fix of real newsprint by buying the New York Times every day. Besides missing the feel of the paper, we also can't live without the crossword puzzle.
We've been in Tucson for over a week now and we're still getting the Times and reading the Tucson paper and the Tribune on line. It is starting to feel natural to not have to dread facing John Kass. I miss Eric Zorn. I will ask for visitation rights to his columns on line in the divorce settlement.
I suspect that I'll have to pay alimony in the form of the prepaid portion of my subscription. We will not be resuming home delivery of the paper for the first time in over 3 decades. The separation is looking good - we'll see if it still does when we get back to Chicago. If not, I'll sneak down to the recycling bin on Monday morning and grab a few sections.
These last few rocky years have not been pleasant. It is time to dissolve this abusive relationship. Adios, Tribune.
I'm a 70ish grandmother, ex- banker and professional beach bum. Currently enjoying retirement to the fullest while trying to discover what the next phase of my life might be. Loving having the time to write and rant about life, people and this fair city of Chicago.