The phone was ringing as we walked through the door. I saw on the caller i.d. that it was my mother but I couldn't pick it up. Earlier this morning we took our oldest cat Woody to the vet and had him put to sleep. I wasn't in the mood to talk. I was in the mood to nap. I fell onto one couch and The Skimmer fell onto the other. Our youngest cat Jack jumped up with The Skimmer and curled up beside him.
Lying with my eyes closed, I thought about the day we brought Woody home, a few weeks after we had moved into our first house. After a few minutes I said, "Skimmer? Twenty years goes by awfully fast."
The phone rang. It was my mom again.
"I'd better get this. Something might have happened."
Her voice was hesitant at first because she knew we were thinking of doing what we ended up doing today. I told her that we did it. She was quiet on the other end of the line as I told her that the vet said the reason Woody would stand up, very slowly, and freeze in position for five to ten minutes at a time was probably because he was disoriented, confused. At his age, his behavior was indicative of a neurological problem, which could also be the reason he wouldn't use the litter box anymore. I've been thinking this last year that he was just old and ornery and wanted to go where he wanted to go, dammit. But, now I think he just didn't know where to go. And that I may have let this situation go on too long.
I didn't tell her that afterwards The Skimmer and I sat silently on a park bench surrounded by mums and pink impatiens until we figured there was nothing else to do but drive home. I didn't tell her that because I didn't want to cry so instead I sighed and said, "How was H's game?"
"Well, on a happier note."
H, my 13 year old niece, who has been playing baseball with the boys since she was six, played her last game of the season today. Another team already had first place locked up and H's team was playing for second place. In this league, they still only play seven innings. They had been losing the entire game, and at the bottom of the seventh the bases were loaded when H got up to bat. As she walked past my mom and to the plate, my mom said to her, "Dig deep, H! You can do it."
H stepped up to home plate, took a deep breath, crouched down and got into position.
My heart skipped a beat, "What happened?"
"Very first pitch, she connected and hit that ball a country mile."
I started laughing and burst into tears.
My mom started crying, "She hit a grand slam to win that game!"
"Oh my God. What did she do?"
"She ran around the bases pumping her arms in the air, smiling from ear to ear."
"I'm crying my eyes out now! Oh my God, Oh my God. What did the team do?"
"They came barreling out of the dugout yelling and screaming and when she touched home they all jumped on her and they ended up in a big mound rolling around. Just ecstatic!"
"Oh my God. How is she?! She has to be so happy, so happy."
"She's in heaven. Just in heaven."
"Oh, I can't believe it. No, I can believe it. Tell her how proud I am of her and tell her how much I love her."
We hung up and I've been laughing and crying on and off ever since. Thinking about the passage of time, the joy and the sadness, and that I wish my stepfather was still here and could have seen that game.
It's terrible I've left that awful Nazi post up so long! I've been looking for something to post to replace it. Something a little light, a little happy, a little joyful, perhaps. Maybe a little hopeful?
Let's just say this isn't exactly what I had in mind.
1942: Back row: Hildegard "Hilde" Traude, Helga Susanne. Front row: Helmut Christian, Hedwig "Hedda" Johanna, Magda, Heidrun "Heide" Elisabeth, Joseph and Holdine "Holde" Kathrin. The young man in the back row is Harald Quandt, Magda's son from her first marriage to Günther Quandt.
Magda once described the temperaments of five of her children to her sister-in-law Eleanore (Ello) Quandt by describing how each would react to learning they had been deceived by their spouse:
Helga: Would seize a revolver and shoot the unfaithful husband out of hand, or at least try to.
Hilde: Would collapse altogether, sobbing and weeping, but would soon appear to be reconciled if her husband expressed remorse and swore to be faithful in future.
Helmut: Would never believe that his wife would deceive him
Holde: Would never quite get over the infidelity, but would be too proud to reproach her husband. Finally, through the breach of confidence on the part of her husband she would go to pieces altogether.
Hedda: On the other hand, would give a peal of laughter and say "Come here you rascal and give me a kiss"
In April 1945, as the Soviet Army entered Berlin, the Goebbels family moved into an underground bunker. Magda wrote to her son Günther who was in a POW camp in North Africa:
My beloved son! By now we have been in the Führerbunker for six days already — daddy, your six little siblings and I, for the sake of giving our national socialistic lives the only possible honorable end ... You shall know that I stayed here against daddy's will, and that even on last Sunday the Führer wanted to help me to get out. You know your mother — we have the same blood, for me there was no wavering. Our glorious idea is ruined and with it everything beautiful and marvelous that I have known in my life. The world that comes after the Führer and national socialism is not any longer worth living in and therefore I took the children with me, for they are too good for the life that would follow, and a merciful God will understand me when I will give them the salvation ... The children are wonderful ... there never is a word of complaint nor crying. The impacts are shaking the bunker. The elder kids cover the younger ones, their presence is a blessing and they are making the Führer smile once in a while. May God help that I have the strength to perform the last and hardest. We only have one goal left: loyalty to the Führer even in death. Harald, my dear son — I want to give you what I learned in life: be loyal! Loyal to yourself, loyal to the people and loyal to your country...
Read more on Magda here, and what her children suffered.
Speaking of Jewish, the plumber who installed my trying-to-be-steampunk kitchen sink had a last name of Goebbels. And I said, “What?!!? What???” And guess what? He had never even heard of Joseph Goebbels. I didn’t realize that anyone had not heard of him, and at first I thought, “Darlington people are so sheltered.” And then I thought, Wait. No. I am so sheltered because I didn’t know people like this exist.
"The story came quickly. It would be about a middle-aged woman, Ora, whose son, Ofer, only just released from army service, has voluntarily returned to the frontline for an offensive against one of Israel's many enemies. Ora, having moved from celebration to renewed fearfulness in a matter of hours, is in danger of losing her mind. She has no idea how she will get through the next weeks or months. Then, in a fit of magical thinking, it comes to her. She will mount a pre-emptive strike of her own. She will simply go away, absent herself from her home and her life. That way, she reasons, she will not be there when the army "notifiers" come to tell her of her son's death. And if she is not there, perhaps he will not die. After all, how can a person be dead if his mother isn't at home to receive the news of it?"
When asked about his own son being killed while serving in the army, Grossman said, simply, "I cannot afford the luxury of despair."
I find the current GOP about as repellent as anyone. I can also believe, as I do, that the stimulus of the last two years was a sadly necessary measure to prevent the bottom falling out in ways no one could have controlled, once started. Now I want a focus on long-term debt reduction. Do I trust the GOP on the debt? Is the Pope gay? Do I trust the Dems? No. Do I think Obama is suited to forging a sane compromise out of the debt commission? Yes. Do I think the GOP can rise to the occasion? Probably not.
But in a strange way, the more anti-debt and anti-spending their rhetoric becomes and the plainer it is that serious defense and entitlement cuts are necessary for the problem to be solved, the more I'd like to see the GOP be deprived of their obstructionist no-responsibility posturing of the last two years. I'd like to see their bluff called on spending to escape the current impasse and get to a real debate rather than a phony one. If they win back the House, as it seems inevitable they will, they will have to offer something at last instead of criticizing everything in comically tired tropes and waiting for 2012, as the president is stymied from enacting the reformist change we elected him for.
I remember talking to my brother-in-law's mother right before the 2004 election. She didn't want Bush re-elected but she said, "Well, if he wins, at least he'll have to clean up all of these messes he's made!"
And for one eensy, weensy second, I thought, "Yes, that is true!" But I knew better. The Republicans never, ever have to do anything they don't want to do. And four more years of Bush proved that.
So, if the GOP takes back the House, will they offer something at last instead of criticizing everything [Obama does] in comically tired tropes?
I'm calling it now: NO.
No probably nots about it.
They'll keep hammering Obama, while not doing a thing, except possibly, no -- most probably -- making everything even worse all the way to 2012, all the while blaming Obama for how horrible everything is. And people will buy it. And I'll end up reading whatever version of Distrusting Republicans, But Voting For Them Anyway is written then.
Took me less than an eensy, weensy second to get there.