STILL ( A Poem For My Husband Who Died Last March)

I COULD NOTcloseup Richard's tombstone 001 SEE YOU ACTUALLY LEAVE

on that sharp night of unexpected terror

that made you strange with discomfort, pain, horror and then exhaustion

your anger at having to die so suddenly enclosed you like a clear plastic case

I couldn’t get through it; I didn’t have time

while you felt that I was always inside anyway

BUT I KNEW WHEN YOU WERE GONE

your body so squarely solid and stocky, the salesman at the suit store said your jacket size was “portly.”

like a round stove, you warmed me so quickly that I soon had to move away because I started overheating

YOUR CHEEK SLOWLY TURNED COLD

as I sat on the floor

my head resting on your hospital bed,

mentally smashed, and the room circling around me

Could you ever need me more?

Than now, in this monstrous country?

YOU DID NOT LEAVE ALONE, MY EVERYTHING

I summon you easily; you are me

 

 MY LOVE STILL HOVERS OVER YOU

And will ever hover.

We Are Paralyzed On Talking About Race.

Hydrangeas

As an Anglo moderate Independent, I sometimes feel like there is some kind of hysteria developing on talking about race. The Civil Rights Movement was such a wonderful needed thing. But I am starting to get the impression that it is growing kind of stagnant with some people. I am aware that minorities may see this quite differently, and I do not wish to offend.  But with many of the comments I have heard lately, you would think that nothing has changed at all since 1960. There is an assumption that most whites are still closet racists, and that the country is still overwhelmingly biased against non-white minorities. Huge numbers of people feel free to slander complete strangers with the awful title of racist with no proof whatsoever. It is sometimes getting like a new form of McCarthyism, when the fear of Communism got completely out of control. Like those scary days,  people are losing their jobs for making one remark that strangers feel is racist. This is like when you could lose your job because some anonymous person accused you of being a Communist, it didn’t matter if there was enough verification.

With the election of Obama, I among many, was overjoyed that this would herald a new era of racial understanding. So far I am disappointed, and I feel somewhat betrayed at having voted for him. Though, he is obviously struggling right now, and I do feel sympathy for him. I would be incapable of handling such an overwhelming job. But sometimes I get the impression that his real interest is in using his presidency as payback against whites for past sins. He has so many minorities in high positions that, I think, a kind of “group think” has taken over. All they seem to want to talk about is the distant past, and to act as though the government is still needed to massively enforce overwhelming institutional racism. I am particularly concerned by Obama’s actions obsessing over the rights and welfare of noncitizens in this country illegally. He took an oath to defend the citizens of the United States. His constant obsession with undermining immigration laws makes it obvious that he has forgotten his unemployed, poor, and desperate inner city minoritiy citizens.

I thought that we spent years stamping out the concept that  people should just vote their race, and shut out those of a different race. Yet now Liberals and the media obsessively talk about the Latino vote and how all whites should cater to them and do anything to get their vote —  or whites will just lose out.  In fact, there is constant open talk to just replace whites. What is the difference from the days of Jim Crow, when whites contrived ways to cancel out the votes of African-Americans? In fact, Obama’s actions to  flood the country with Hispanic illegals can clearly be seen as a way to suppress the white vote.

Don’t like white Republican voting patterns?  Just flip the area Democratic by flooding it with illegals that will eventually become voters. It has already happened in many areas, so this is no longer a theoretical fear.

I also am concerned by the constant talk by Liberals about how racist their fellow citizens are. What are uninformed newcomers to think? This does not bode well for the future of our country. Why do these people have no loyalty to fellow citizens? Again, race trumps everything. They feel more concerned about the welfare of illegal ethnic immigrants than poor and unemployed fellow citizens. This is a matter of basic loyalty that holds a country together, protecting it from outside threats. Most people born in Mexico have a strong loyalty to Mexico and we are naive to think otherwise. Why would all of these thousands put the welfare of the U.S. above their native country?

Blacks and others might draw some comfort from talking about the past. This is understandable. But when racial issues are so urgent and so changed, do we have the luxury of constantly talking  about a world that no longer exists? Many people believe that Anglos will become the minority, When that happens, as it already has happened in California and other areas, will current minorities be equally interested in protecting our rights, as they are in discussing past sins? Many Anglos are really struggling also, and do not benefit from Affirmative Action. Why should someone who has crossed the border illegally, be amnestied, and benefit from Affirmative Action programs — and not a native-born poor citizen?

Every needed social movement can eventually just becomes the stale “establishment,”where those in power simply do not want the status quo to change, because the benefit from it.

What It Is Like When Your Spouse Dies.

No matter how much you expected it, it will still come as a shock.

There is nothing more agonizing that seeing someone you adore scared, uncomfortable, and in pain when they are dying.

It is hard to get that image out of your mind.

At one of the worst crises of your life, you will come home to an empty and silent house after being with another person constantly for years.

No matter how much you did for the dying person, it will not seem like enough.

No matter how much you wanted it to be perfect, it will not be perfect.

No matter how sure you were that nothing was unresolved in the relationship, and that you had the most wonderful relationship possible, you will immediately think of things that might not have been resolved, and things that, obviously, you could have done better.

Funeral rituals seem unnecessary, and sometimes dumb, but they do help you realize that you are not alone.

The endless preparation, two periods of receiving family and relatives at the funeral home, the funeral, burial and luncheon after, will seem like about a week and be just as exhausting, and it will seem undoable.

It is hard to sleep in a silent, empty house when you are extremely upset and depressed.

This is a ticket to insanity, though you have no intention of going there, and will not go there.

Financially, everything will have to be reworked, re-established, and it takes a lot of time and effort to get there. Your life will be in limbo until you do.

There is a tsunami of paperwork associated with a death.

If your whole routine was taking care of a sick spouse, you now have nothing to do but endless paperwork and straightening out your life. That is not what you need to do at the moment.

You realize that this life is worthless if a beloved person can disappear forever in a minute. That this earth is not your permanent home, and that eternal truths and a higher power are all that really matter.

The love and support of family, relatives and neighbors really does help.

In every tragedy and crisis, there is considerable fresh opportunity.

I WOULD HAVE MUCH PREFERRED TO KEEP THE ANCIENT RELIGION.

ALL PHOTOS COURTESY PDPhoto.org

I would have much preferred to keep the ancient religion.

My Mom was so upset that I did not stay Catholic. Her faith was passed on from her parents down from 4th Century Ireland, the Irish culture,  passed down from thousands of years before that …. The implication was that my parents would not steer me wrong on the most essential things in life. My teachers  also warned me about hell as a young girl.  Mother was afraid that I was doing evil by leaving the church. I don’t believe that, I think that real truth is one, and I never “left the Church” actually.  But I was very close to my Mom when she died, and it is hard to totally ignore her feelings.

I prefer to honor my heritage where I can. But as an adult, I felt a religious emptiness, and was drawn to meditation in the Hindu tradition. I was taught  that the only thing that matters in your religion is

YOUR OWN EXPERIENCE.

I have built a faith of my own through meditation, and it has become all things. I learned ancient techniques of meditation. It would be impossible to explain my experiences to you; they are incredibly personal, and they would mean nothing to you secondhand. The only thing that would be real to you would be your own experiences.

But, yesterday, I  tried to reflect on WHAT MY ANCIENT IRISH HERITAGE ACTUALLY IS.

Because I realized I wasn’t sure.

I am a mixture of a lot of Irish and some Danish, German and French. I identify mostly with the Irish part. (No one in my extended family or local church ever had any knowledge of child sex abuse. That was not part of our experience.)  My Mom was fervent about her faith and heritage, as many Irish Catholics are.

I browsed for hours though chapters of Irish history  books. No one knows much  if you go back far enough, but there were the kings Slaine and Rudraige mac Delta in 1500BC. …. it seems like hundreds of kings, most getting killed or dying young, and being succeeded by their sons, and dividing up the country. King Aed Findliath lived from 861-876. King Ruaidri ua Conch0bair died in 1198. The historic Irish kept track of their genealogy, going back thousands of years to determine their place in their clan and their claim on the land.  Invasion after invasion by outside people changed Ireland. And they had internal fight after fight.

There were originally  Druid priests in white robes, who worshiped in outdoor groves. They were poets/bards/ rulers/priests/wise men/learned men.  Literature, singing and story telling were highly regarded. Almost no facts are known about the Druids, but they seemed all powerful. The Irish commoner people could only wear one color. The higher up in society you were, the more colors you could wear. Peasants could also not travel out of their home territory.The Druids left no  written records, so all is vague Was it because they wanted to horde their power?  They did know how to write.

Julius Caesar, a conqueror of Ireland, gives one of the few written records of Druidic society:

“Throughout Gaul there are two classes of persons of definite account and dignity. The common people are treated almost as slaves…. Of the two notable classes one consists of druids and the other of knights. The first concern themselves with divine affairs, managing public and private sacrifices and interpreting matters of religion. A great number of young men gather about them to learn and hold them in great honor. In fact, it is they who decide in almost all disputes, public and private; and if any crime has been committed or murder done, or there is any dispute about succession or boundaries, they also decide it, determining rewards and penalties: if any person or people does not abide by their decision, they ban such from sacrifice, which is their heaviest penalty. Those that are so banned are reckoned as impious and criminal; all men move out of their path and shun their approach and conversation, for fear they may get some harm from their contact, and no justice is done if they seek it, no distinction falls to their share.

…The whole nation of the Gauls is greatly devoted to ritual observances, and for that reason those who are smitten with the more grievous maladies and who are engaged in the perils of battle either sacrifice human victims or vow to do so, employing the druids as ministers for such sacrifices…. Others use figures of immense size, whose limbs, woven out of twigs, they fill with living men and set on fire, and the men perish in a sheet of flame.”

Many historians doubt this as too biased an account, but some agree with it. The Romans also “sacrificed” thousands of Celtic people and other captives in their Coliseum for sport.

As with many other violent cultures, this old Irish history almost reminds me of modern PBS nature shows. The male animals fight viciously to determine who is the strongest, and the winners rule the herd. The lesser status animals are kept in their place

A scholar at the University Of Michigan, Lauren Humphrey, argues in her thesis that St. Patrick  was accepted as kind of a ”super Druid.” A holy man and good speaker who could do bigger and better miracles. Amazingly, the transition to Catholicism from the old ways was apparently rather nonviolent. St. Patrick met with the Irish King Loegaire and talked him into it. The Irish have always admired those who had the gift of gab!

But what was St. Patrick really like? Again, there is frustratingly  little historic record. What exactly was his faith, and what was the faith of the early Irish? It has been so many long and confusing centuries since Jesus himself imparted that faith. How do I know exactly what has been passed down to me? Is my Mother’s fear of hell just a superstition passed down from the Druids and though the Catholic hierarchy to keep people in line?

But another reason for the fierce Catholicism of many Irish is their historic holocaust experience with the English. The English were constantly trying to enslave them. When Henry the 8th instituted the Church of England to replace the Roman Catholic Church in England, he outlawed Catholicism in some ways, and there were hundreds of years of persecution.  The British finally tried to just wipe the Irish out completely.  For some generations, they almost succeeded. The unbelievable penal laws of 1691-1778 included banning Irish Catholics from voting, holding public office, marrying a protestant, owning land in many cases, owning valuable horses, getting an education, selling their products. serving in the country as a priest, or saying Mass.  People had to attend Mass secretly in the fields around large rocks, signaled by secret codes. Some residue of these horrible laws continued into the 20th Century.

As if this wasn’t enough, the English even sold off the stubborn Irish Catholics as slaves! Starting in 1641,  500,000 Irish were killed by the English, and 300,000 sold into slavery.  Barbados, Virgina and New England were some destinations. The population of Erin fell to 600,000 from 1,500,000 in 10 years.

The later potato famine of the 1800′s reduced Ireland’s population to mostly starving peasants, many homeless and in rags, dying  from Cholera and Typhus.

It is no wonder that Irish immigrants who survived their escape to America became powerful, proud and assimilated. They clung fiercely to the religion and culture that they had nearly perished as a people, trying to preserve.

There is no question that my Mom got a lot of strength and comfort from her faith. But I have tried both, and meditation is 1000% more meaningful to me. I believe that Catholicism is one of the true paths to God, many saints have renewed it through the centuries. I am not knocking it for anyone else.

But my meditation faith is a living breathing organism, totally built by me in my lifetime.

While the Catholic Church seems like a beautiful, enormous, ancient hall, full of priceless treasures —  a museum.

But then …

Look at my own obsession with spirituality, my love of the secret rites of meditation, my life-long devotion to literature. Am I just one more example of the amazing staying power of ancient Druid genes?   

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