In early October, in time for the glorious turning of the leaves, my husband Dan and I flew to New Hampshire for my mother’s interment at the Contoocook Village cemetery. The stone was etched just right - a delicate, pink granite complement to my dad’s bronzed military plate. Of course there was beauty and magic. My cousin saw seven hawks circle over our small masked gathering as Sylvia’s voice, reciting the Apache prayer, rang out from a portable speaker to our ears and hearts and settled on the painted trees. You can see her video here.
In honor of that transcendent moment here’s a piece I recovered from under mom’s bed this summer. It’s only post card size…
More of Sylvia’s work can be found by clicking here.
“The Disaster Games 2020”checklist occurred to me after I’d returned home to New Orleans. This would be the second time we walked in the door, dropped our bags and immediately started preparing for a hurricane. As I flew around the back yard tying down lawn furniture, I was on the phone, checking in with a NOLA friend, who was also nerve-wracked with getting in water, food, batteries, medicine, as well as making contingency plans for herself, a small dog, a large cat, and her aged mother.
She asked how I was doing, and I responded, “Well, I just buried my mom, Dan’s starting treatment for prostate cancer.. AND there’s a hurricane coming. How `bout you?”
She said, “I lost everything in the Paradise Fire, what’s-his-name is now divorcing me by text, mom barely gets out of bed except to eat and complain about the lockdown, my daughter’s been released from the psych ward and is back on the street, about to overdose…AND there’s a hurricane coming.”
We just had to laugh. All this trauma drama. We’re facing multiple challenges personally and globally and all at once. It’s too much. It’s ridiculous! And the reason why there’s no question on the Disaster Games chart about the stress of living through the Trump years? That’s the big bad, stinkin’ box that holds all the smaller ones. At least, for me.
So, the intense worry about the deterioration of our democracy and our planet is a given. And you can reasonably claim that, even if you checked just a few boxes on the Disaster Games list, that you live with some jaw-clenching trepidation that something disastrous is just a tick away. Right? We are all living the Disaster Games. It’s like the Hunger Games, in that we are all compelled to participate, BUT in our version, folks don’t go dashing through the forest aiming to ambush and kill each other. Survival of the richest/best armed? Been there, done that.
At this particular moment, some people are more in dire need than others. They are going hungry as as they suffer through the rest of this crap on the Disaster List. Our Sylvia, (my mother) got visibly upset when, in April, the news showed long lines of cars waiting to go through the food banks. “What are they supposed to do if the donations dry up?” She’d lived on various farms during the depression; there was always food.
Well into his nineties, my grandpa, Colonel C.P. Hayward, would donate the excess from his one-acre vegetable garden to the Church. And no, NOT the first Congregational Church of Bennington, where he was deacon, but to the Catholic Church! The Catholics, I’m tellin’ ya!
So there you are. We can give beyond our comfort zone. We can help heal the divide.
As we all will have a part to play in this recovery, I’m sharing a few things that I figure I’ll do, to help ease the hunger pangs of my fellow citizens who can tick a lot of boxes on the Disaster chart.
GO VEGAN. WELL - PESCATORIAN. As I mentioned up front, Dan will soon start his radiation treatment for prostate cancer.
This particular book, “How Not to Die” comes recommended by a pal who is successfully battling the disease. Chapter 13 was our eye-opener. Here’s what’s on p.252..
Even if you are relatively healthy, it’s good to whittle some of this stuff out of your diet: chicken, turkey, red meat, dairy and cheese. (Yes, cheese is dairy but it deserves it’s own sad note, don’t cha think.)
Ha! That’s hardly a FUN! But “Here’s the deal,” as Joe likes to say - Dan’s blood sugar was pre- diabetic in May, not there’s no danger at all. He’s also lost 25 pounds. An average-size toddler.
Let’s circle back to feeding those who are hungry, with my vow to make a monetary contribution in my mother’s name, and volunteer for Second Harvest, the largest food bank in Southern Louisiana.
I want to end with a personal story that was shared in the Soul Food Book Club, where we have been discussing, “It’s Too Late to Quit” for the last several Wednesdays.
Christina shared that, after a sudden, horrible accident where her husband suffered a brain injury, she had to struggle mightily to hold everything together. Her family of four relied on food banks to get them by. One day, all Christina was able to receive, was a single, generically-labeled tin of spam. When she opened it, the smell was so vile that she gagged. Imagine.
So that does Christina do now? She donates the BEST of what she has.
It matters, what we do, and how we give back. I sincerely hope you find a way that matters to you, and makes a difference in the lives of our fellow Disaster Games teammates.
If feeding the hungry sounds important, below this image is a link to find your local food banks:
Onward with compassion and commitment…
Below is a photo of me with my wonderful husband, Dan. Please keep him in your prayers, as he goes through his radiation treatments this fall...if you are the praying kind.
(Feeding birds stencil by Pavla Matic)