Friday, January 15, 2016

Children Will Listen

"Children will listen” -- a few of the words to a Sondheim song that always makes me cry. Maybe because it touches something in my heart that can not be identified with a simple explanation.  OK, you already know this probably won’t be one of our funnier blobs, but lets see where we go.

Yesterday was a memorial service for a friend, Evelyn Leibowitz.  We met when she was in the White House and I was not. But I was responsible for underwriting the cost of White House personnel traveling overseas. As you can imagine it was complicated but since neither of us ever lost our sense of humor — or the absurdities of Presidential issues, we had a great many laughs.  In fact, when she was the Deputy chief of Staff for President Clinton, ours was more of a problem solving (with a sense of humor) relationship, than a close personal friendship, but I liked and respected her a great deal and I think she felt the same about me.  But that’s not what I wanted to blob about, although she and her husband Ed had a charmed marriage.  Just an example, Evelyn worked at the Smithsonian for 13 years. She was an invaluable advisor, manager and executive.  Quite simply she knew what she was doing.  Anyway, everyday, (worth repeating) everyday, her husband waited outside the building where she worked, on a bench, always with a flower to give her.  Lovely right?  Not the end of the story. In this city of insensitive self important people, the leadership at the Smithsonian is acknowledging their love with a plaque on the bench that simply says, “waiting for Evelyn”. Gives me goosebumps.

Back to, Children Will Listen.  When I was six, my dad was diagnosed with degenerative type MS.  In those days, this diagnosis meant he would probably not live for more that 10 years and would eventually be, at best, totally incapable of moving his arms or legs.   At that time my mom was pregnant. The doctors assured her that it was not a genetic disease so not to worry about the kid she was carrying, my darling brother.  (Always the Golden Child— and I get it).

There were many things that happened around that time.  We were living in a large one family house with my aunt, uncle, three year old Sheila, and Stevie, who was two weeks older than me and from whom I had never separated — not at home or in any school we attended.  Like twins, we had our own language, celebrated our birthdays together and our parents were interchangeable.  We also had a multitude of aunts, uncles and cousins who were always around, and the mothers were interchangeable.

My parents were constantly looking for a cure which required all of us or them to travel to many different places. Nothing worked. But when they went and left us, we were stored at the home of one of the 4 aunts all who lived within a mile. Or with the other siblings who lived an hour away, but also within a mile of one another.

Where were we? Oh yes, as a child I believed that I was going to lose my dad.  He was a great dad.  Chocolates in a beautiful box on Valentines Day, unconditional love, and the belief that if I set my mind to it, I could do anything I wanted to do.  But he wasn’t going to be around for very long.  It was clear that I couldn’t love him very much because I was going to lose him.  Do I have abandonment issues or what.  just FYI, My dad lived longer than 10 years, but I knew he was going to leave me sooner than later.

Loss is a big deal. I figured that I better invest my love in friends, not blood relations.  Well, what didn’t work because my friends are much too dear to me — and it happens that lately they are dropping like flies.  So now what?  The decision has to be whether you remain unattached to anyone who you might love, or you just love and forget the consequences of investing that love in someone who you will eventually lose — unless you are lucky enough to go first.  Obviously, there is no good decision and I am not prepared, after delaying the decision for so many years, to make it right now.  There are people who I do love unconditionally, I just can’t help it and they know who they are.  But loss is horrible.  Loss sucks. Loss isn’t easy.  Oh yeah, maybe you should surround yourself with people who will support your fear with a simple, “put on your big girl panties” and help everyone you love “put on their big panties” even if they wear jockey shorts! We’re just sayin’… Iris

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