Saturday, November 21, 2009

Thanks Kass

Kass, thanks for checking.  No I am not OK. I cannot sit at the computer too long because I'm having trouble with my eyes, severe pain and red eye, which the doctor thinks might be related to something else. Her gave me some eye drops, which I'm taking every two hours, and I'm doing better.  I do hope to get back to blogging.  I try for a few moments to check some sites, but as I said, the time has to be short.

Also, I've been very low, lately...just trying to get through each day.  I really appreciate your concern.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Thank You, Ann Arbor

“We begin to find and become ourselves when we notice how we are already found, 
already truly, entirely, wildly, messily, marvelously who we were born to be.”
— Anne Lamott

Our life in Ann Arbor was often idyllic.  The unspoiled charm of a small town is the polar opposite of our beloved, crowded, noisy Chicago. There are people in Ann Arbor who never want to leave town because they think there is nothing else for them to see. Often we took several of the boys' friends to Chicago with us and they were terrified.

We knew two men, one Black, one white, both in their 60s, who had never left the county and never wanted to leave. Both had the funds and ability to leave; they just could find no reason to visit anywhere else.  I could never wrap my mind around this no matter how hard I tried.  To them, Ann Arbor wasn't the center of the universe, it was the universe. I tried to understand how they had no interest in the outside world, but I couldn't.

We had mixed emotions about the city. It is a beautiful, tree filled city. The town and gown metaphor is appropriate.  Perhaps that is why our emotions were mixed.  We weren't used to being identified with only one group, and we refused to be restricted. There were speed bumps along the way but we survived.

Memories of Ann Arbor include the many conferences and seminars we developed, consulting trips, dinners, luncheons, more meetings, and learning to golf. We were active in clubs and fraternal organizations, served on charity boards and mentored many students.  I shouldn't forget Hash Bash.

In early April the campus is flooded with thousands of pot smokers who smoke in broad daylight. The atmosphere is festive for Ann Arbor is know for being tolerant of pot.

In spring, the blooming forsythia, crabapple, and redbud trees encircle the city and you are dazzled by the beauty.

In summer the town feels deserted.  The students are gone and you enjoy the empty spaces even though you know visitors will flood the city for the Art Fairs, a group of five award-winning art fairs that take place annually, the Summer Festival, and the Blues Festival.

Over 500,000 visitors attend the Art Fairs each year, which always take place during the third full week of July, running from Wednesday through Saturday.  Many locals leave the city because it is so crowded. In addition to art exhibits, the fairs also feature music performances and children's activities.

In a twinkling students return and the city comes to life again.  Soon, all too soon, the leaves begin to change.

Brilliant reds and audacious yellow leaves are everywhere. There are so many leaves that the city sends trucks to gather the fallen leaves.  By Halloween, you know that winter is coming and you pray for just one sunny day a week.

Cold winds and drifting snow are on the way.  Hurry, hurry, spring.

Did I like Ann Arbor?  Yes.  Am I glad to be gone? Yes. Do I miss it? Sometimes, I miss the intellectual stimulation and our friends.  It was the perfect place to raise a family and perhaps that's the problem.  It can dull your senses to the rest of the world.  Because of Ann Arbor we were able to travel all over the world.  We had dear friends and neighbors, an exciting lifestyle,  and incredible professional opportunities.  So, thank you Ann Arbor, for 31 endearing years.

Home is a place you grow up wanting to leave, 
and grow old wanting to get back to. 
 ~John Ed Pearce

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Diamonds in the Rough

One of the joys of Ann Arbor was the large number of students who came to our home.  While many have done well, I have to mention two who spent so many years in our home that we think of them as "ours."

Rosalyn was a foster child in Detroit and once you finish high school you are out of the welfare system and on your own.

When she graduated from high school in 1992, we had formed our own foundation and was looking for someone to give a scholarship. I didn't know her but she applied for our scholarship for future teachers.  When I read her essay, I stopped and declared her the winner.  There was no need to read anymore. Her writing, about her childhood and ambitions, was that powerful.

She came to Eastern Michigan University, where I was working, so that I could watch over her. When I retired she transferred to the University of Michigan and watching over her was transferred to my husband.  She worked several jobs the entire time she was a college student yet there were days she would come over, despondent and depressed, needing only a couple of dollars to make it through the semester.  We would give her what she needed and away she would go...another semester down.

One summer we sent her to Atlanta to live with our son and his family.  She babysat, worked in his office and became a "sister" to our grandchildren. This was a new experience, an intact family unit and it gave her more hope and determination.

Rosalyn with the granddaughters she baby sat one summer at our
50th Wedding Anniversary in 2005

Long story, short, she finished college, taught school in Detroit, bought her first home, and is completing her doctoral dissertation this year. Her new husband finished his doctorate this year.  We are so proud of her.

Us at Rosalyn's Wedding in 2007 in Detroit with daughter-in-law, Kimberly

The other student I must mention is Tony. He began staying with us when he was in 5th Grade.  My son told me about a boy who was staying alone in public housing.  I sent him to fetch Tony and asked him about his circumstances.  His mother was in the hospital so we called her and asked if he could stay with us until she was released.  She cried and said yes.  She was suffering with cancer so he spent many months with us.

She died when he was in middle school so he moved in again until his family could find someone to take him.  After he left to live with his older brother, he still spent a lot of time in our home because he was one of Corey's best friends.

He completed college in four years, (1983) always working 2 or 3 jobs.  We encouraged him to travel so he get out of the safe environment of Ann Arbor and see the rest of the world.  He was so close to our family that our sons and my husband were groomsmen in his wedding.  When we put our house up for sale in Michigan, he told us we couldn't sell his family home.

Again, to make a long story short, he received his Ph.D on his 30th birthday and is a Department Head at Arkansas State University in Jonesboro.  Check him out, Janie, if this is close to you.  Click link to see his page.  Anthony Troy Adams

Tony in his office at Arkansas State

Both were without parents, both worked hard in school, both never gave up, both always had at least 2 or 3 jobs, both had outgoing personalities, both never felt sorry for themselves, and both achieved at a high level. They are my favorite Diamonds in the Rough.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Days with my Sister

My sister had a good trip.  She wanted the trip because a few months ago they removed part of her lung.  Lung cancer. She will know about chemo when she returns to Chicago.

Shirley, Sister Mary, and Lorraine (My right hand)

Because a Keno game has only twelve cards and I had two other guests, she played in my place and won the final coverall.   It was all of $11.00 but that is the largest pot we've ever had.  You would think that she had won a million dollars.

The Keno Club
We call ourselves The Forgettables because no one remembers anything. I'm on the far right. Without friends, old age must be unbearable.

We didn't grow up in an affectionate family.  Hugging and kissing were not something we saw or did.  Our feelings were kept under wrap, only discussed in our heads.  She is the sister who helped me through college.

Even though I had a scholarship I still needed pocket money to buy necessities, such as toothpaste. In 1953, at the age of 18, she earned $1.07 an hour and sent me $5.00 cash each week, enough to get me through.  I didn't realize it at the time but she worked almost a full day just for me.

Sometimes another sister would send a few dollars and I was grateful for every cent. What memories surface when we're together, many are in earlier sections of this blog.

We shared a bed when we were children. She was the beautiful, popular sister and I was the skinny nerd.  I was such a nerd that I started a Trigonometry Club and was President.  Two people so different could not have been closer. She always had scores of boyfriends but I was lucky if I had one at a time.

When we moved from Chicago in 1970, I made my husband promise me that he would not fuss about the telephone bill because it was imperative that I always have access to her.

We're old now. She's 75 and I'm 72. Where did the years go?  I still think of us as silly children sharing our thoughts and dreams.  She wanted the glamourous life of a movie star and I was interested in academics. She's the only person who knows my deep dark secrets and yes, Jonas, my regrets.

This is rambling because I'm still processing the past and how it affects the future. I'm processing.

I guess my point is just love each other.  Show affection.  The end comes before we know it.