One Day

Dear gentle people

On May 24, 2020 my 52-year-old son had a massive heart attack at home. We called 911 immediately, the police, fire department, paramedics and EMTs arrived in about 5 minutes. The team went to work. They did everything they could to revive him. After 45 minutes they could transport him to Bay State Hospital. They were determined to bring my son back to life. During this chaos they took the time to update us and make sure we were doing ok. They were compassionate and professional at all times. My son has returned home and we are so grateful.

So it is with amazement that the town of Easthampton does not want to sign their union contract, How many of you have been cared for in a time of need by the Easthampton Fire Department and First responders. You must know their service is invaluable.

I can only wonder what the holdup is. Is it about pay raises, benefit time, time off, Child care, disability pay, time and a half and whatever else their contract may hold. Isn’t the safety of our community worth whatever the cost?

My opinion is they should be entitled to the same pay as other highly paid professionals. How do we place a value on a person’s life and safety? How can we thank them for working during this pandemic? They show up because they care about this community. I don’t offer any facts or statistics in this matter. Just my personal experience.And every time I look at Jesse and his family I am forever in their debt.

The Best Christmas Ever…

“Sometimes memories sneak out of my eyes and roll down my cheeks.”

unknown

Twas the week before Christmas, and the spirit of giving was upon us like a heavily frosted cupcake. The “us” being the children living in an orphanage. I lived on the second floor which housed girls from 5 to 13. All the girls were laughing, and chatting gleefully just like a made for tv movie, where all the children were happy and had parents that loved them.

The first gift was filling index cards with three wishes. They would grant only one. Living in an orphanage can be lonely, scary, and hopeless. Listening to music singing out from the radio took me away and offered a bit of happiness.  All I wanted was a record player. I wrote it three times just to be sure there were no mistakes.. This was the fifties, portable players were not being sold everywhere. I doubted this wish would come true..; it was just a wish. Although I didn’t believe in magic. Waiting in line for meals jostled my innards like small earthquakes, I rushed thru the nightly prayers and added one additional prayer. Oh God, I pleaded, please give me that record player. When the day arrived well-what should appear before my teary eyes, but a small cardboard blue and white record player. I can still see it with its metal circle that held the needle. Which added a tinny sound to the music. I didn’t care. I really loved music,

A very generous man, Bill Savit, owner of Savit jewelry store gave us five dollars. We could spend this on anything we wanted. College school volunteers were happy to share this adventure with us. I remember very little of how I spent my crisp five-dollar bill only how good it felt to be holding money. The volunteers escorted us to downtown New Haven, Connecticut. The streets were brightly lit with Christmas trees on every corner and they decorated the stores with bits of magic here and there. Everything sparkled in the lights that lit the beautiful scenes of toy soldiers standing on guard looking handsome in their brightly colored uniforms and plumed helmets. Santa’s sleigh flying thru the air with all of his reindeers, with gifts almost falling out of the sleigh. I couldn’t believe my eyes. This was a wonder-filled gift.

‘Twas the night before Christmas and throughout the hallways the kids could barely stand in line, or sit in their chairs or say the rosary, and going to bed was a chore .If you really listened, you could hear their worries. Would their parents show up, could they spend the night with them?  But they let hope seep into their happiness. Would their parents someday bring them home for good? Other girls were getting ready to spend the Christmas with total strangers celebrating the holidays. But not me. I refused to go. This was just too painful to be the child outside ,looking in at this scene knowing this would never be my reality. No, I will not go.

So, I was content to celebrate Christmas with the Sisters of Mercy. I fell into a gentle sleep. When I awoke in the morning, I felt something on the foot of my bed. It was a big Christmas stocking filled with candy and small plastic toys. Who did this? I thought the nuns would not do this. Once this stuck in my brain, I believed it must have been Santa Claus.

‘Twas the day of Christmas and this was the best Christmas ever for me.

What were we Thinking

1967 was the year of Turn on, Tune in, And Drop out, It was the mantra of the sixties generation. Black Panthers carrying guns were defending themselves from police. and giving free lunches to children. Vietnam war  protests started being held in stadiums. Cities on fire because of Race riots. Dope was everywhere, pot, LSD, heroin, students being shot by riot police and dying on their campuses. And it was scaring the shit out of the establishment. 

What were we thinking 17- and 18-year-old women exploring sex without marriage and no birth control available to them? Young men were careless in not using condoms. So unwanted pregnancies and unwed mothers abounded.

My best friend believes she became pregnant during her first sexual experience. She married a 16-year-old boy who was a wild one. He ended up in jail. A premature child was born. He survived and there was something romantic in the experience of playing house. Bill , served his time.was released from jail and Karen was waiting with her baby and everything they owned packed in an old van. Chicago was the destination where a fresh start could become a reality based on a dream. The fringe of the revolution was creeping quickly up to them. What were we thinking?

Soon I became pregnant and wrapped myself in the delusion of love. My reality was I had nowhere to live. Women that I shared an apartment with also became pregnant. So we had to go home or get married. Some Babies were placed up for adoption so the mother could get on with her life and not embarrass their family. And one unwed mother who would have a child out of wedlock.

Bernice and Al, my foster parents. Did not want me to return to their home. They took my car. So I lost my job. I called Karen, and;she said I could live with her and Bill. It wasn’t long before I was on a bus to Chicago. I felt like a character in a sad romance novel.

The bus station was a huge round building filled with people coming and going and it was loud.  Never had I been in such a building,  after waiting a few minutes inside, I decided waiting outside would be a better option… I spun around and around with my small cardboard suitcase. There were so many doors, which one should I choose?  I found my way out onto the street where I waited. No show. I was sick with panic. A cab driver asked if I needed a ride. Even tho I had never been in a cab and had no money, I took him up on his offer. Gave him a street address and told him my friends would pay for my fare. When I arrived Karen wasn’t home. I couldn’t pay the driver. I curled up into the smallest ball possible in the entrance to the building and prayed the driver would leave and not kill me. What were we thinking?

All’s Well That Ends Well

In my Junior year at Enfield High school I was suspended for a year, not a week or 2 weeks not even a month, but a whole year. There was no one to fight for me. My foster parents never came to my side. They just figured I was a bad apple. So I sat around and did all the mindless chores they could find that needed doing. I couldn’t even get a job because I was too young. I did go back to school with the biggest chip on my shoulder. It really was more like rock, and I felt cold as that rock. I graduated in 1965.

Whenever any one would ask me what I wanted to be when I grew up I would quickly respond . “I want to be a nurse just like Clara Barton”. I loved the caps, uniforms ,stockings and shoes. All in white, so clean, so good, caring for the sick and dying was just the drama for me. The thought of it made me feel I could do some good, show those other good people that I was somebody. That dream ended the day I was thrown out of school.

Being a lone wolf, with strong pointed fangs I hunted for something that would fuel that fire in me again. I became a nurses aide. It had the costume I was looking for to play this part at this moment in time. I worked in a nursing home and I loved the job.

Is it real or did I make it up?

Little girl in a big bed. She cries but no one answers. The room is empty. She is hungry but there is no one to bring her food. Time passes quietly. Loneliness covers her like layers of soft blankets. She is abandoned ,there is no one to wonder where she has gone. Except her mother, She knows.

The door will open and the police officer will cradle her in his arms , bring her to the police station and feed her peppermint patties.

Every time I see those peppermint patties this memory shakes me in a good way. I think it was then I knew survival was possible. If it wasn’t for the peppermint candies with their surprising bitterness , there would be no way to confirm, that I did not make this up. Of course there isn’t anyone to vouch for its validity.