Oma Sue's Blog
Hi – I’m Sue Reyzlik. I recently realized my life-long dream of building a writing hut in the backyard. The writing hut serves as a creative space and home office for Oma Publishing. This blog will be intermingled with family history, varied experiences and insights on being a Grandma (Oma), creating my special backyard space, as well as, my “retirement” career as a self-publisher of children’s stories. And perhaps a little bit on the 32 years I served as Executive Director for Keep Fremont Beautiful and the wonderful people who are sharing this adventure.
I started writing this blog on my birthday on January 29, 2022. It's taken awhile to get all my thoughts and memories clarified and arranged... it's a long one - get a snack and enjoy!
It’s my birthday today – 71 years old. I wasn’t really planning on doing much! Taking it easy and maybe binge watching a show I started on Netflix. Then I realized that I was 71 years old and then I realized – Hey, I turned 21 years old, 50 years ago… I know that is simple math, but it was kind of a big deal in my mind. This sudden “awareness” – 50 years ago today, I celebrated my 21st birthday in Berlin, Germany.
You know how there are major events in your life, and you think you will remember all the little details forever and ever and then you concentrate on a certain date 50 years in the past and all the specifics are rather vague. I thought that I would never forget the particulars of that day… but it’s pretty much gone. And honestly – remembering what we did on my birthday that day, isn’t the most important thing that stayed with me from that Berlin experience.
It was interterm at Midland Lutheran College. My absolute most favoritest Writing and English teacher, Alcyone Scott, was offering a political science course for the month of January. (Pretty sure she would take points off for using “most favoritest”. It’s my blog – I can be stupid if I want!)
So anyway, if I remember correctly, it was 4 credit hours concentrated into just a few weeks. I talked with Dr. Amland and asked if I could do an Independent Study on the German Expressionist Art Movement in Berlin and he agreed! Cool – 8 credit hours – I could do this!
The students would travel to Berlin on the 30th of December of 1971 and return at the end of January, 1972. I was so excited to travel to Europe. Our family had traveled to California by rail in the mid 1950’s and after that – Mom and Dad weren’t too whoopie about taking us anywhere.
The Smith family stayed pretty close to home – maybe traveling to neighboring states for a few days at a time but never ever any big-time travel experiences. My parents had a cabin on Big Island, and we spent summers on the river. We were homebodies, and I was ready to change that and explore. Here I was, a junior in college, a college in my hometown, and it was way past time to go somewhere. When the Berlin opportunity arose, I was prepared to board that jet and fly across the ocean!
The point I’m making is that I was more excited about traveling, going to Europe, seeing the sights, having a grand adventure and earning 8 credit hours than actually learning anything. I was not prepared for the life-altering, mind blowing, thought provoking educational experience – that was a bit of a surprise.
Alcyone had spent some time in Berlin prior to coming to Midland. She shared her knowledge of German history with us – which was extensive and helped us understand the events leading up to WWI and the rise of the Nazis and WWII. She shared her awareness of the history of the Lutheran religion (we were a Lutheran College) as well as other major religions practiced in West Berlin. We learned about the occupation of Berlin after the war and the dividing of the city into the various sectors. We all gained a better comprehension of the proceedings, actions, reactions, killings and dealings that led up to the world wars and the divisions that expanded in the eventual peace.
Each historic site, every ballet, every concert, every opera, every play, every lecture, every church service, every war memorial we visited, everything we experienced in those short few weeks gave us a greater insight into the German culture and the terrors people were made to suffer under the Nazi regime. A past only 30 years ago in 1972 - that wasn’t all that distant of a past… A past in 2022 that compares to reexamining the politics and world events of the early to mid-1990’s – a not so distant past.
We learned about the German insecurities, failings, victories, fears and the monsters the people allowed to lead them, and the horrors they chose to ignore. We learned that Germany must never be allowed to rise to such evil again. Never again.
We weren’t able to visit any of the Nazi death camps but there were a number of memorials that we visited that facilitated our comprehension of the enormity of the atrocities committed against innocent men, women and children. In looking back, I’m grateful that we didn’t visit Auschwitz or any other German death camp – I don’t think I could have taken it.
Alcyone did plan a visit to a small Berlin prison that had been turned into a memorial. The memorial center at Plotzensee is a place of silent remembrance, as it is described in some online material I was scanning for information and pictures. Nearly 3,000 political prisoners from Germany and other countries were executed at that location by the Nazis.
The memory that I have of Plotzensee is quite clear in some ways, and off kilter in others. I remember walking through the gates of the memorial… the walls were built from red brick… the top of the wall was covered with cement. Broken pieces of glass were sticking up at sharp angles from the cement topping. I can still feel the chill that went up my spine as I imagined trying to escape that enclosure and the cuts one would suffer in the attempt. The ground of the memorial courtyard was covered in cobblestone – not unlike many of the sidewalks we had seen throughout the city. The memorial was a flat gray brick wall which made it stand out from the surrounding red brick formations. There were wreaths and large bouquets of flowers standing in a row, left to right, on the raised stone platform of the memorial.
I also recall feeling a sense of somberness and extreme dread – it was silent… it was a place of remembrance. An immediate weight of sadness descended on my being as we stood at the memorial. Soon we moved on… around the right side of the memorial was a red brick building. The building was divided into two parts - the first part of the building contained displays on the dark brick walls. Information you could read and pictures you could view were displayed to give you a better idea how the Nazi’s utilized the prison and this space in particular.
As I read the documents, I became even more disheartened and physically weak – this place was a heavy burden – it was becoming even more difficult to breathe – my throat felt constricted. I was relieved when we finished that part of the tour and stepped out into the side yard – I was still deeply saddened but at least I could breathe – that room had been difficult to process. I was feeling so many emotions… none of them good.
We then were led into another room of the building through a wide wooden door. This room was clear of information. This had been the killing room. I have described, hundreds of times, what this room looked like… I never varied much in my description. I want to share that with you – because it’s weird…
Upon entering the room, I notice a row of large windows at the rear of the room – this room runs the full length of the building, and the sunlight is pouring in through the windows. The walls are painted white with tan tile covering the lower sections of the walls. At the far end of the room, in front of the windows is a raised platform. A door to the left allows for prisoners to enter the room and stand on the platform. There are several guillotines lined up on the platform.
There is a trough in front of the platform to collect the heads and the resulting drainage of blood. Along the right wall of the room, running the full length of the room is a series of meat hooks. I can imagine, the headless bodies are hung on the meat hooks. The meat hooks are on a track system. The bodies are moved along the wall – the blood trough collects the blood and moves it to a drain in the center of the room. The headless bodies move to the front of the room and the awaiting cart – parked conveniently just outside the a side door leading to the courtyard. I assume the bodies are taken to a gas furnace where the bodies will be cremated – but I only imagine that as there is a tall chimney attached to a smaller building and I think there must be a furnace in there that was used for that purpose.
Standing in that room, looking at the remnants of the killing apparatus, I fear I may faint – I’m sure I will faint. My vision is limited as I stumble to the door and work my way back to the memorial wall. I sit on a step leading up to the platform and I stare at the flowers and wreaths as I try to get that missing air back into my lungs and slow my racing heart. It’s cold in the January weather but still I can’t stop sweating. Alcyone comes out to see if I’m all right. I remain in that spot to regain my composure and hope that my legs will support my body when the others are ready to leave. I do not return to the killing room.
I can only describe what happened to me in that room, as a truly overwhelming sense of fear, torture and injustice. I felt not the pain, but the mental anguish of lost souls and the evil that ended their lives. I can’t get the visual of that room out of my mind – it haunts me still. Fifty years later that feeling of dread is still with me – it was a dramatic moment, and I will never forget the overwhelming emotions I experienced on that fateful day.
It wasn’t a fun, pleasant, European vacation experience, rather, it was an educational and profound emotional experience that I needed - probably destined to experience in order to facilitate the development of my soul as well as, the ethics, values, morals and empathy that would sustain and guide me as an adult and a citizen of the world. It was a big deal!
NOW comes the weird part. Everything I felt is completely true and I have described those feelings and emotions to the best of my ability… the weird part is picturing that killing room in my mind is all wrong! I mean, it looks exactly like I remember it, but in a totally wrong kinda way! I’ll explain.
I looked up the prison online to refresh my memory and whoa that was a trip. The memorial itself and the placement of the wreaths and the flowers is just as I remembered it. The first room was pretty much as I described, the second room – the photos of the killing room was way off. Well – it was similar in most respects, but it did not contain some of the more vivid aspects of my recollection. So weird!
In current photos of the room, the windows are still at the end of the long room and the sunlight is still seen streaming through the windows. There are only two windows... I remember more windows. The walls are painted white but the tile that I remember circling the room is only present in a very small section… you can see a drain in the middle of the concrete floor… but there isn’t a platform at the far end of the room, no door to enter the nonexistent platform and there isn’t a single guillotine present – what? I remember guillotines…
Surprisingly, there are meat hooks hanging from what looks like a heavy wooden beam at the far end of the room – right in front of the windows – NOT along the wall to the right – meat hooks where the guillotines are supposed to be – that’s not right. AND the meat hooks are stationary – they don’t move the bodies to the awaiting cart – they don’t have a cart sitting there. I am so confused.
I’m thinking that I’m losing my mind – ya I know – been there done that… but this seemed really weird. It’s one thing to not remember what you actually did to celebrate your 21st birthday in Berlin back in 1972 and quite another thing to alter your entire recollection of a Nazi killing room – especially when so many other parts of the memory had been online image verified to my satisfaction! Thus began my all-day research project, on my 71st birthday, into all those weird ass strange memories of the Nazi Plozensee killing room.
Wellll… I eventually happened upon a treasure trove of historic pictures - accurate representations of what the killing room looked like during its operational time period – from the early 1930’s to the mid 1940’s. There had been a door at the far end of the room – just to the left of the windows – well that makes me feel better. That door has since been closed off, and for balance, they evidently closed off the far-right third window, so now only 2 windows remain.
And you know what else? There had been a platform under the windows – it has been removed. That missing platform was bugging me, so it was reassuring, in a strange sense, that there had indeed been a platform at the end of the room.
Examining more photos, I found a close up of the original meat hooks and it appears that the hooks could be pushed along the metal beam. I found pictures of additional hooks that had nooses hanging at the ready for the next series of executions. All of these pictures told a more in-depth story of what had transpired at that location. Those pictures must have been included in the informational displays in that first room of the memorial and seared into my brain.
As I completed more research, I found additional photos that exposed the Nazis using guillotines at numerous locations in Germany and occupied lands. Pictures of the guillotine used at Plozensee were among the photos I viewed. The guillotine was a massive contraption that sat in the middle of the room – close to the floor drain.
I viewed several photos of Nazi killing rooms at other locations. Several of those rooms had tile extending halfway up the wall and additional illustrations of blood drainage troughs. I assume some of those pictures were included in the display. I also stumbled across a photo of a man who had been beheaded. His body lying on the table of the guillotine and his head placed carefully near his shoulder at the corner of the table. That picture is troubling on so many levels and one that speaks to the evil of the day.
Memory is a funny thing… I know now that I took elements of what I saw and read that day and combined it with the foggy, almost fainting, heavy sweating episode in the killing room and created one nice, neat, compact scene in my mind… not exactly right but not exactly wrong…
Visiting Plozensee was hard for me but something I needed for personal growth. I know that Auschwitz would have been a much greater ordeal, therefore, I am relieved to have been spared that painful experience.
Just a few years later, when my first husband and I were living in Columbus, we attended a Chamber event. We were talking to a local businessman. I had a bad feeling about this guy - I was hoping he would move on and once he did, I told Dan that there was something wrong with that guy. To which Dan replied, "He's a Holocaust Denier". What? "He thinks the holocaust never happened." I was stunned. Later on, I realized that that moment foreshadowed our current political, ethical and moral dilemma. Never again - could happen again... anywhere!
When an administration separates children from their parents at the border and keeps them in cages... Never again is growing again. When an evil con-artist, celebrity TV host, rapist and fake billionaire rises to the office of the presidency of the United States... Never again is growing again. When that evil man continuously lies, stokes fear, and creates division among its citizens... Never again is growing again. When that defeated President convinces his followers that the election was stolen and orders them to march on the capitol... Never again is growing again. Banning books and denying citizens their human rights and voting rights... Never again is growing again.
Investigating and holding accountable those who have broken the laws of our nation is making sure Never again is Never again. Passing legislation to protect voting rights is making sure Never again is never again. Accurate and complete information on historical events is essential in making sure Never again is Never again. Electing qualified, soulful candidates to leadership positions is also essential in making sure Never again is Never again. Caring for your fellow citizens and resisting any attempts to make you hate the "other" is making sure Never again is Never again. Protecting the rule of law, our democracy and the constitution is making sure Never again is Never again...
I will be forever grateful that I had that college experience and was able to travel to Berlin with such a wonderful teacher and fun group of friends. In one way it seems like it was yesterday and then in another way, when I stop to ponder a specific detail, I become painfully aware that 50 years has passed and some memories are incomplete, mushed up or even veiled.
I asked my friend Pat Osborn if she remembered celebrating my 21st birthday in Berlin? She said no – but it was probably a night that she had too much to “sip”. Oh ya – too much “sipping” in Berlin, I remember a few of those nights. That probably doesn’t help the old memory!
I’m pretty sure I have more to write about my Germany experience, but this essay has gotten way longer than I expected. Soooo…. To be continued!
I went out in the garage and found some pictures from Germany 1972. The pictures had been damaged from time and temperature extremes - so I started messing with them with the "Brushstroke" app. It seems like the paintings are more in keeping with my foggy memories. Hopefully I will find my slides for the next blog entry!
Facebook post from this week. I thought I should document the event in my blog!
January 27 at 1:26 PM ·
This morning was a little different… I have a story and a rant and a sad thing that I feel compelled to share. Rai got up as normal and started getting ready for the day. This week has been a series of theme days with “Team” Day and “Pajama” Day – that kind of thing. Well today was “Vacation” or “Tourist” Day – something like that… so let me back up to last night…
Rai and I discussed what that may look like for clothing choices. We settled on leggings, an over-sized blouse and a floppy hat! It would be too cold to wear shorts! Now Rai is getting into the “Vacation” in a warm spot theme and decides to put on a swimsuit (a much too small two piece that needs to be handed down to my other granddaughter Gracyn) and go for a dip in the ocean – which is the bathtub… because we aren’t really on vacation.
Soooo she goes to bed with everything planned out for this morning… gets up like normal and gets ready. After she is done in the bathroom, I go in there and find a straw cowboy hat on the toilet seat, I pick it up and throw it out in the hall, then I notice the floppy hat stuck between the toilet and the wall… I pick that hat up and toss it out in the hall as she is coming up the steps. She picks up the floppy hat and steps over the other hat lying on the floor and goes in her room.
I slept on my right side and my hair is sticking out at right angles on that side of my head – the left side hair is matted to my head so the sticking out hair is even more dramatic and nutty looking by comparison. I attempt to water it down and get it under control, but it keeps doing the right-angle thing. I think to myself… no one is going to see me… screw it.
I go downstairs and put on my coat. Rai is looking for her glasses and getting agitated. She screams that she had them right there… I help her look. They are definitely not there! She stomps up to her room and starts moving things around… She screams that she had them right there… I help her look. They are definitely not there! She stomps downstairs and I follow… I’ll go down to the TV room and look… she screams that she never went down there… I go down anyway… no glasses… she is stomping around and beginning to cry… I had them she screams as she goes upstairs again… I follow and look some more while she stomps downstairs screaming that they aren’t up there, Grandma. I tell her that I will look for them and I will bring them later to school. She cries out in frustration… I had them in my hat… I say what? She screeches – I put them right in my hat and now they are not in there… this is new information… You had them in your hat? YES – The hat was on my bed, and I put the glasses in my hat and I brought it down here and now the glasses are gone.
Armed with this new information I returned upstairs to the pile of clothes she placed in the hallway by the bathroom. Sure enough – the glasses were sitting right there on top of her towel from last night’s trip to the beach and the pajamas she wore to school on Tuesday. I picked them up and walked calmly downstairs – she demands to know where I found them – like WHERE WERE THEY??? You dropped them out of the hat in the hallway onto the dirty clothes in the hallway. To which she replies… YOU THREW MY HAT INTO THE HALLWAY… I had to think a minute there… is this my fault? The straw cowboy hat was on the toilet seat – no glasses in that… I am sitting on the toilet and notice the floppy hat next to the toilet… did it have glasses in it… NO!! IT DID NOT. This is not my fault. I say nothing… Let’s go to school.
She stomps out to the car… we are backing out of the garage… I can hear her doing something in the backseat… She screeches yet again… I DON’T HAVE MY MASK - I stop the car – she opens her door and then gets out – slams her door and runs to the house… seconds later she returns to the car… I have already turned off the car and rolled down the window to hand her the keys… she opens the door, takes the key and slams the door – running back to the house. She returns – opening the door, handing me the keys, slamming the door, opening her door and then slamming her door. All this huffing and puffing and slamming of doors has made me decide that I’m not letting the whole glasses in the hat that I tossed out into the hall slide…
Listen lady – I wasn’t going to say anything but your glasses on the pile of clothes was not my doing. Your hat was on the floor and there were no glasses in that hat when I tossed it into the hallway. You picked up your hat and went into your room where you put your glasses in the hat. You walked out of your room and dropped the glasses on the dirty clothes. Once I learned that you had put your glasses in the hat, I was able to locate the missing glasses. I have had enough screaming, crying and huffing and puffing. She wasn’t done… Well, I’m out of breath and now I understand what happened. We traveled in silence to school.
Now I seriously hate dropping her off at school. I especially hate it when someone parks – parks in the drop off lane at school. You are supposed to be able to pull up in the lane – drop off your kids – and pull out and go on your merry way. Today there was a 10 County car parked in the middle of the drop off lane so that was unfortunate and causes so much more unnecessary obstruction to what is already a problem flow of traffic… it is empty in front of the parked car, so I pull in front of vehicle. Rai says, not in a screech but it was pleasant, Can I get out here? Yes! Have a good day… to which I get a hurumph…
I start to pull out and see a car speeding up behind me and to my left… I pause – the car passes. So many delays and snags and attitudes went into making my travel times later than usual. I wasn’t off by much but here I was traveling east on Linden at around 7:45 – I am not ever that late.
I am nearing Colson when I see a little tan chihuahua tentatively crossing between cars, heading to the Presbyterian Church parking lot. I instantly know that the dog is going to be killed and pull over to try and convince the dog to get in my car but before I can get out of my car, the dog turns and goes back into traffic. I get out of the car and race to the street where I see the little dog writhing in pain.
I missed the point of impact, but I am so saddened and shocked. Another car speeds by and narrowly misses the dog. I put my hands up and walk into traffic. A woman at the wheel of a small car stops feet from me in the street. Our eyes meet – she is waiting for me to do something. I reach down and pick up the crying dog – hoping that I don’t hurt it further and hoping that it doesn’t bite me. I cuddle the dog as I would cuddle a baby – holding it near my chest… I look back at the lady and I move to the parking lot. I stare at the face of the injured animal as it cries – her tiny chest is heaving… I see that she is missing several teeth on her right side – she is an old dog… I am so sorry this happened to you… I just want you to be warm…
A lady approaches me – asking if she hit the dog. Her large black truck parked maybe 50 yards further east. I tell her yes… she asks if it is ok – I say no. She starts to cry. We both feel awful, and we play the scene over and over in our heads. I ask her to call the police – I’m sure the dog will die, and they will know who to call. I wish I would have brought my phone. She can’t get through – she’s having trouble dialing her phone. The dog is quiet now but starts to throw up… I reposition her head, so the vomit falls to the pavement. A gentleman pulls up in the parking lot and asks if he can help. I tell him that I think she’s gone but then the little dog moves her front legs and whimpers…and then nothing… my heart is breaking – I need to find a blanket. I lay the dog on the ground and search my car for something to wrap her in… the man searches his car – nothing. I pick the dog up once again and hug her to my chest… I’m sure she’s gone but I can’t let her be cold on the ground.
The gentleman calls the police, and he is able to get through. A dog has been hit – we are in the parking lot – they will send someone over. The gentleman says he needs to get to work – I thank him for his help – but he lingers. The lady that hit the dog has been crying – I don’t notice when she left. I look down Colson Street and I see another lady walking towards us. I know it is the dog’s mom. She crosses the street and asks me if she got hit? I tell her yes and that I think she is gone.
The gentleman knows the woman and they visit – I continue holding the dog. The lady who hit the dog returns with a couple of blankets. The ladies cry. We learn that the dog was 14 and had on occasion snuck out a hole in the fence… they thought they had corrected that problem, but she was small and determined. She had searched the normal places where she would wander and finally came to Linden – hoping that she would not find this… fearing she would find this but hoping not.
The doggy mama assured both me and the lady who had hit her tiny pet that we were not at fault. She did not blame us – she took full responsibility. Still, we both felt awful. The gentleman walked his friend and her lost pet home – he would be late to work. The lady and I hugged each other for a long time. She said she was so grateful that she didn’t have her grandson in the car when she hit the dog – he would have been horrified. I too am grateful that I didn’t have Rai in the car with me – that would have been worse. In between her tears she lamented the traffic and the chaos of the morning drop off – it’s awful traffic in the morning.
As I drove home, I wondered what would have happened if I had just kept driving. If I had left that little dog to her own devices. I wondered if she would have made it home by herself. I felt guilty that I had known that the dog was going to die and my stopping to save the dog was the deciding factor in determining her death. Oh wow – I freak myself out sometimes.
But I continued to dwell on that circular thinking… If Rai hadn’t lost her glasses, if I hadn’t wasted time looking in the tv room, if she hadn’t left her hat by the toilet, if she hadn’t finally told me she put her glasses in the hat, if she hadn’t forgotten her mask, if she hadn’t come back for the keys and slammed those doors, if the red car with the 10 county plates hadn’t screwed up a backlog of traffic, if people hadn’t been so frustrated by the traffic, if I didn’t have to wait for a car to pass me… if, if, if, if all that hadn’t happened, I wouldn’t have been at that exact location at that exact moment…
And then here’s another thing about me… I don’t know how many dogs I have coaxed into my car, into my yard, into the neighbor’s yard, into my garage, into the neighbor’s garage… I am always trying to pick up strays… that is me… I won’t stop trying to help dogs in dangerous or bizarre situations… I know this – God knows this…
I’m not trying to absolve myself of anything but there is another vein of thought that is helping me cope with the unpleasant events of this morning. If I accept that I knew that the dog was going to die, then my stopping would not alter that. The dog was going to die – I was certain of that. My stopping was not to save the dog – my stopping was to comfort the dog in its final moments. My stopping was to ease the pain of the woman who hit the dog. My stopping was a signal to everyone who drove by that anything can happen – this was a pet – a loved member of a family. The woman who hit the pet was upset – people could see the emotion – I’m hoping they felt some empathy for her sorrow. I’m hoping every parent was thinking that they were glad their kids hadn’t seen that. I’m hoping every parent was relieved that it wasn’t a child I was holding in my arms.
I also think that I have a tendency to think too much. I think a lot about what is going on in our nation’s politics, the earth’s environment, saving our democracy, upholding the rights of every human being – and wondering what little old me can do to help in those efforts.
Maybe just maybe what I can do today is what I've done. I helped my granddaughter find her glasses, I kept calm, I comforted a dog as she lay dying in my arms and then wrote all about it and my feelings. Ya – that should do it… maybe meditate a little and fix this right-angle hair thing I got going... no one said anything about my right-angle hair...
Some days are just a little different...
Watching The News – January 12, 2022
I haven’t been out in the shed since before Thanksgiving. My air conditioner/heater went out and it’s been darn cold out there… Oh I’ve been out to check on it but not to sit and write. Sitting and writing has been moved to my comfy chair in the living room and it really isn’t the same… there are more distractions in the house.
As I look off into the distance… it’s something I do to gather my thoughts and words, my eyes see the littered debris scattered around the communal living space by dear “tornado” Rai… vacuuming and dusting is somewhat easier to ignore. Not sure why – but it might be an eyesight thing.
The scattered pillows on the couch, the socks thrown haphazardly near the plant on the table by the window and another lying wadded up on the back of the couch, the pants and shirt discarded on the floor, the wrappers and papers and pencils and markers – it is a daily disaster…
I should note that I have a coping mechanism for handling the “stress of the mess” – my comfy chair in the living room swivels… so, for a brief respite from the mess, I simply swivel my chair to face the bookcase and the corner of the room. Everything becomes smaller for a few moments, and I can focus again on my writing.
So anyway, as I am sitting, writing, thinking and staring off into distant realms and swiveling myself into a more compact and creative space… A sound, a street cleaner, a siren, a loud car, the refrigerator making strange clanks, the washing machine off kilter downstairs, no one important calling the old land line – all reminds me that I’m not in my shed and my thought process drifts… This is when I have a tendency to swivel around and turn on the news to find out what is happening in the world.
That is what happened yesterday (Jan 11). Having a bout with writer’s block that caused me to tune into the news for a little break. Wow – that was weird. Dr. Fauci was up on the hill testifying before Congress on the Covid response when Senators Rand Paul and Roger Marshall both tried to ambush him with their usual contempt, misleading, false and potentially life-threatening statements. It was quite a spectacle. Dr. Fauci wasn’t just sitting back and taking their nonsense – he had a prepared comeback.
He called out Paul on his dangerous rhetoric and the resulting threats that he and his family have received. Dr. Fauci actually displayed a sample of Rand Paul’s website where the message is “Fire Fauci Now” with an accompanying request for campaign funds. Rand Paul is raising money on his personal effort to fire Fauci – that is deplorable. Sadly - the messaging created by Rand Paul and others in the GOP has led to viable threats of violence towards Dr. Fauci and his family, thus creating fear and uncertainty while also creating the need for round the clock security.
In a hot mic moment, Fauci was heard calling Marshall a moron after the Senator had indicated that he wanted Dr. Fauci’s financial records. Financial records that are submitted annually and that have been on public record for over 30 years. The fact that the Senator or his staff could not find those records indicates that he and his staff are incompetent and lack sufficient skills to do their job or they are lying – either scenario makes me think they are morons… If you haven’t seen the news clips, be sure to check You tube or the various news sources – it’s helpful to get the full story for yourself.
Of course, watching the hearings unfold, I felt a little kinship with Dr. Fauci… I know how absurd that sounds and any comparison between myself and Dr. Fauci is limited to our ability to piss people off. I don’t think that Dr. Fauci is perfect, but I do believe him to be a dedicated scientist concerned with preserving life. I certainly don’t think he deserves the scorn and ridicule that he is receiving from many members of the Republican Party. His life has been threatened – real threats of real violence to not just him, but to his loved ones as well. That is sick.
In the course of my career, I managed to piss people off. Whether it was trying to stop the balloon releases at the University of Nebraska, or that time I unwisely used a perfect picture from a downtown business that illustrated the totally improper disposal of hazardous waste (the owner of the building was livid) ooops. Or that time, I simply supported not taking down healthy trees on the public right of way – that may have irritated a crazy person.
To be fair, I didn’t just piss off people in the field of proper waste disposal and environmental preservation, I also riled up a few when I helped start the City Festival back in 1986. That was another whole weird thing that created strange reactions from different segments of the community and perceived slights and insults from individuals along the way.
Soooo… I know how it feels to make people mad. And if I’m being totally honest, some, perhaps much, not all, but a lot of that anger was deserved. I made mistakes and misjudged the results or the unintended consequences of my actions. I tried to learn from my mistakes and also made every attempt to not repeat the same mistakes. I must admit, I had varied levels of success in how much hostility I garnered from those I had dealings with... “it’s easy to piss people off." That should be my motto or something…
Oh, that reminds me… after one episode of pissing someone off, I decided I needed a special T-shirt design. I went over to Embroidery Design and had a lovely flowery design embroidered with the words “I meant well” added underneath. I wore that T-shirt every time I pissed someone off… I wore it so often it eventually just disintegrated – couldn’t even use it as a dust rag… ouch!
I think I had a point… maybe it’s this. It is unfortunate that my heater broke down in the shed and now I have to write in the living room… And also, I feel empathy for Dr. Fauci – pandemics are awful. It’s hard working with the public and it’s easy to piss people off.
I sincerely hope and pray for the safety of Dr. Fauci and his family. I sincerely hope and pray that the GOP leadership morons work to calm their rhetoric and reduce the potential for violence against this dedicated public servant and his family.
And my last point. Even if you piss someone off, it doesn’t give them the right to do violence or damage. Someone I pissed off back in the late 80’s decided they would get even with me by killing four of my trees. It made me think. I actually paused to contemplate my life choices, but in the end, it didn’t stop me, I continued to make people mad for a few more decades. I retired on my own timetable… you can’t give in to terrorists. Hang in there, Dr. Fauci, and don’t let the morons get to you!
Missing and Remembering My Mom...
January 6th holds some personal significance as the day my dear mother passed in 2009. After losing Randy in 2006, I was adamant that I would not lose her. I wasn’t ready to live a life without her. I took her to doctor appointments and scheduled procedures that would hopefully give us answers to her lingering health concerns.
I hadn’t been able to save Randy and I would be damned if I wouldn’t do everything to save my mom. No stone would be left unturned. Every effort would be made to find a cure and if not a cure, a remedy that would allow for more time…
I know it sounds crazy and it was crazy – I was in denial. I wasn’t going to accept the inevitable. My Mom was getting older, her health was failing, she would die. LaLaLa I can’t hear you LaLaLa…
It was before Christmas in 2008 when she was admitted to the hospital. She was having trouble breathing and the physicians in charge of her care were trying to determine the best course of treatment. Mom had made it clear that if she became incapacitated, I was not to allow any resuscitation efforts on her behalf.
I wasn’t too concerned about those orders as I was sure I wouldn’t be forced to make any decisions regarding her request. She was in a hospital setting for care. She would receive the care that the physicians felt was warranted. Her dying was a long time away. LaLaLa…
I had been up to the hospital to visit my mother earlier in the evening and her breathing was labored. I worried about her but that was normal. It was almost midnight, when the nurse called and said that they could not get ahold of my father and that my mom was in distress. They informed me that I should come up to her room immediately and I did.
Mom was in a private room. Several people were gathered around her bed. The room was brightly lit. The shades were open – the sky was dark. There was a machine attached to her body. I couldn’t be sure what I was seeing as her face was hidden and there was a whirling noise and a pumping action that was pushing through her chest. The motion and noise were intense and frightening. The doctor took me out into the hall and asked where my father was – I told him that I had come directly to the hospital. He indicated that my father needed to be present… I didn’t feel that I could leave her. I told him I would figure something out. I suddenly felt that her dying wasn’t such a long time away…
I went out to the lobby and tried calling my father – he didn’t answer. After several attempts I called my cousin Cindy. It was late – actually early in the morning by this time and she answered almost immediately. I asked her to try and rouse my father. I told her what was going on and that I thought he was sound asleep. Within a short period of time, she was able to wake my father and brought him to the hospital.
Dad joined my mom and sat on the chair beside her bed. He reached up to hold her hand – my heart was breaking. Mom had been unresponsive but opened her eyes when the doctor came in the room to visit with us. As he explained the various treatment procedures they were employing, my mother looked at me directly in my eyes. She was aware of her surroundings, she was aware of the humming machinery, her eyes were angry – she was angry with me – she shook her head no. Oh man – my mom was pissed at me… she was blaming me with her eyes… she was accusing me – reprimanding me of disregarding her wishes – all with the intense manifestation of anger radiating from her eyes and a slight shake of her head. She was ready to die, and she was blaming me for her failure to do so.
Hmmm… too bad. I hadn’t been advised of this particular health dilemma… her lungs filling with liquid. No one had consulted with me. They were draining the liquid from her lungs…
The steps to treat her had been taken before I had been called. This was not something that I was responsible for… She was blaming me, but it was misplaced… it wasn’t your time to die so get over it. The doctors and staff were able to take what was considered minimum standard care – it wasn’t considered invasive at all. They didn’t need my permission to take those steps – this was normal care – I refused to feel guilty… I needed more time to get used to the idea of living without my mom. I felt that we had received a reprieve – her dying was way far away. LaLaLa…
I was grateful for that time. Having gotten through that initial scare, she was sent to Merrick Manor for rehab. She spent Christmas in Merrick Manor. My brothers came home for the holiday, and we celebrated with my dad at the family home. It wasn’t the same – we all felt her absence.
As the New Year passed and we entered 2009, it became apparent that the rehab wasn’t helping my mother. She met with the minister and her church friends several times a day. I visited and encouraged her to exercise and eat – both of which she rejected… I was becoming depressed. I had been through this with Randy – I could no longer wish it away…
I pushed the chair closer to her bed and took her hand in mind. My heart was filled with sadness and regret, I told her I was going to miss her… she looked at me with what I sensed to be relief, she simply said “Oh Sue, I’m going to miss you too”. Tears streaming down our faces, we held each other’s hand and spoke of what we had meant to each other.
Denial is strong – denial is a busy state. Acceptance is cathartic, it’s cleansing – mother and daughter found their peace in acceptance. I finally recognized that her passing was near, and we would take the steps necessary to make the transition as pleasant as possible. My brother and his wife offered to come stay and care for mom while I continued to work. Plans were underway to move mom back home and we were meeting to make the arrangements.
It was early on the morning of January 6th. I was heading out the door to meet my brother and father at the care facility. My brother Billy called – I remember saying Hi, I’m on my way. He simply said, “She’s gone”. I was stunned. I said what? He cleared his throat, possibly choking back a tear and said Mom died – she’s gone… And with that denial returned – No – that can’t be. We were making plans; I had accepted this… her dying was near but not now – LaLaLa...
That was it… Mom passed on – January 6, 2009. Thirteen years ago, and one day before the birth of my grandson Mackson. Twelve years, to the day, before the attack on our nation’s capital. I know it doesn’t all seem related, and it isn’t… it’s just anniversaries and birthdays and memories in my mind…
But on this the 13th anniversary of her death, I miss my mom, I miss talking to my mom. I miss making my mom laugh until she cried. I miss agreeing and disagreeing with my mom, I miss shocking my mom, I miss the intelligence of my mom, I miss the unconditional love from my mom, I miss the never-failing support from my biggest cheerleader... I miss my mom.
I wish that she would have had time to meet Mackson and later seen him play ball. I wish I had had the time to tell her about our ancestry, she would have loved that dad was descended from a pirate and surprised to learn that he was not descended from a native American! She would have loved our “witchy” past…
More recently, I’m pretty sure that she would have found the Trump presidency repulsive and his thousands of lies repugnant. She was a life-long Republican and loyal to the party. I do however, think she would have been embarrassed by the Party’s descent into darkness with the elevation of Trump to a leadership position. If she hadn’t switched to Independent before the insurrection, I imagine that she would have switched shortly after.
I am reminded of the time when Dan Quail was getting a lot of teasing for misspelling potato – the press was having a field day with his mistake and in conversation with my mom, I stated that the guy was dumb. She was immediately offended. With a serious frown on her face, she emphatically declared that Dan Quail was not stupid. I rolled my eyes and said something akin to “whatever” – it wasn’t whatever, because that was way before “whatever” was used. But it was something snarky – like whatever!
Soooo here we are a year after the insurrection, and we are learning more and more about the actions and events that ultimately led to violence on that day. The plotting, planning, and conversations that were taking place up until January 6, 2021. With each passing day, more is being revealed at how close we came to losing our precious democracy.
I find it particularly interesting that Vice-President Pence was under so much pressure to reject the votes. The fact that Pence was trying to find a way to appease Trump in his desire to remain in power, is certainly troubling. But equally reassuring is the fact that Pence also consulted with elder Republican statesmen in an effort to determine the limits of his power and the proper procedures for the day.
I am sure that mom would be tickled that Pence had consulted with Quail and that Pence had accepted his counsel. Quail may have added an “e” to potato but in the end, his knowledge of the constitution, his understanding of the duties of the office and his patriotic intelligence, saved our Democracy. Yes Mom – you were right – Dan Quail is not a stupid man!
EDIT: My cousin J, read the original Facebook post and noted that I had misspelled VP Quayle’s name. That just tickled my heart… I laughed so hard, I cried. Thanks Mom – I needed that.
Here’s a glimpse of the life my mother lived… she was loved by many!