The PG (Parental Guidance) Post
Dateline: Monday evening, doing my own sous chef preparation before sautéing shallots and Swiss chard. As I strip the ruby red chard leaves from their stalks, I remember how much my father loved Swiss chard.
* * *
Band of Memories
I think of my father every day, and mention him often (an easy thing to do, as he was a special character), in part to keep his memory alive for K and Belle. But when my family sees that I’ve brought out the Band of Brothers DVD box set, they know something extra is in the air.
Today would have been Chester “Chet-the-Jet” Parnell’s 90th birthday. It’s hard for me to wrap my mind around that number. I’ll let my heart do the binding.
When Chet wanted to relax he would haul out his old Martin guitar. He loved to serenade his kids. Beautiful, Beautiful Brown Eyes, a traditional country tune covered by singers from Roy Acuff to Rosemary Clooney, was one of the songs Chet used to sing to me at night.
* * *
My mother is frail;
“I am winding down,” she says.
She is eighty-six.
Widowed five years now;
Her eldest child lives nearby.
I am second-born.
My two other sibs
Live in the Bay Area;
Mom is in So Cal.
Mom loathed to travel,
even when she was healthy.
And, now she cannot.
Twenty-three years plus
I’ve lived one thousand miles north
with my family.
Mom doesn’t do much;
there’s little to talk about.
Calls can be awkward
She always refused
to learn to use computers.
Her children conspired
We got a gadget:
is its user base.
A “one-way device,”
it receives and prints email
From select sources.
Pro: she gets no spam;
Con: she gets but can’t send mail
(which is fine by her).
I send her brief notes –
a small something for the day
In her morning mail
Mondays are for jokes.
Who wouldn’t like a giggle
To begin the week?
Tuesdays I phone her.
Her moods and health are falling.
Tuesdays make me sad.
Each Wednesday I send
a Word of the Day feature.
(I choose cheerful words).
Thoughts For the Day
from minds famous and obscure,
are Thursday’s items.
Fridays are for Quotes:
adages and citations
to spark mind and heart.
I send different verse styles,
From Browning to Lear.
I send my mother haiku,
Two verses, or more.
I write them moiself;
thus, they are not quote-worthy.
Silly, but heartfelt.
* * *
A Brief Meditation on Ways to Fail Your Children
Is that a buzz kill subject heading, or what? If you’re looking for the feel-good post of the week, I suggest returning to the picture of the Swiss chard and using it for a gratitude meditation focal point.
I’m thinking about the many ways my father and mother succeeded, as parents…also, about those ways in which they, and parents in general, failed.
This digression is courtesy of one of my recent morning walk podcast sessions. I was listening to the Freethought Radio interview with the president of a N.O.W. chapter, re activism resulting from the SCOTUS  Hobby Lobby decision. This topic was antithetical to the purpose of my morning walks, which are supposed to be somewhat meditative as well as invigorating. The former purpose took a back seat to ruminative rage as I considered the seemingly unending, fact-free, conservative political and social balloon juice about a woman’s right to right to personal jurisdiction, and other issues that should have been settled so, so, long ago….
And I find myself thinking,
We, as in, talkin’ ’bout my generation.
We have failed in so many ways, including imagination.
Thirty years ago, I couldn’t imagine we’d be fighting the same fights.  Sure, a few dinosaur fossils would remain, but I’d hoped that the battle for equality and against sexism and misogyny (at least, in this country) would be history, as in, my son and daughter would learn about it the same way they learned about women’s suffrage (There was a time when women couldn’t vote?! And it was less than one hundred years ago?!)
I realize that historical milestones are almost never confined to a single day or week…or even era. The campaign for women’s suffrage was not waged and won on August 18, 1920, when the 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution was ratified. Nor was the amendment a one-time antidote to the festering, cyclic, boil-on-the-ass-of-human rights that is the tendency for groups of people to oppress those they view as The Other.
* * *
Power shared = power diminished.
According to one Wise Old White Guy © I had the pleasure of knowing,  there is a widely held but false axiom behind bigotry and discrimination. That was the gist of what he tried to explain, one day in our Tuesday morning book group of yore. The group stumbled onto the continuing struggle for civil and women’s rights vis-à-vis religious institutions – a provocative topic for anyone who hasn’t downed their first cup of coffee by 7 am. I brought up what I saw as the ultimate butt-frosting, teeth-grinding, bloomer-bunching irony: in order to acquire the rights and opportunities that you, say, a woman or African-American, are denied, you have to convince a majority of those in power – the very people who have been denying you those rights – to grant them. 
This prompted WOWG to share his “unfortunate observation” regarding human nature:
Few people anywhere have ever easily agreed to share power.
I knew what WOWG meant, but asked him to elaborate. What follows is my (paraphrased) recollection of his simple but profound Walter Cronkite-ism  :
Power shared = power diminished – this is what people in power believe. But power does not diminish when shared, it multiplies. Small, stingy, fearful minds don’t understand that – they think power is finite, or is in limited supply, and therefore sharing power with you means there is less of it for them. This is especially true for those who are (or who see themselves as being) on the lower rungs of the power and status ladders; e.g., some of the fiercest, most vicious criticism of the civil rights movement came from poor white southern men.
He ended with: We failed. Our generation didn’t fix that. Maybe it can’t be fixed; but now, it’s your turn.
* * *
And now, a segue to make us all feel better.
I Am A Bad Person
#359 is a never-ending series
Making travel arrangements for an upcoming family wedding, my brain did that thing it does, and conjured up a memory from a friend’s wedding, several years ago. I was talking to a teenager at the wedding reception. When I asked her about the rather sour look on her face, she complained to me about how “old people at weddings always poke me in the ribs and say, ‘You’re next!’ “
I told her she could get revenge by saying the same to them at funerals.
* * *
Spam subject line of the week:
IF YOU DON’T READ THIS NOW YOU’LL HATE YOURSELF LATER !!!
I didn’t read it “now” (or at all).
It is later.
I don’t hate myself.
Ergo, it must be my turn for an all-caps-three-exclam-attack:
VICTORY IS MINE !!!
* * *
May you always be next in line for life’s buffet, and may the hijinks ensue.
Thanks for stopping by. Au Vendredi!
 During my morning walks I listen to podcasts of some of my favorite radio shows, including Wait Wait Don’t Tell Me, Freakonomics, RadioLab, This American Life, TED Talks, Fresh Air, and Freethought Radio.
 Which, yes, oft times seems as if it should be the acronym for Sexist Codgers (and not Supreme Court) of the United States.
 Only with different, and often troll-enabling – technologies.
 WOWG lost a brief but fierce battle with leukemia ~ 10 years ago.
 I remember, a long long time ago in a galaxy far, far away, trying to explain to my kids, who were dealing with fledgling democracy concepts in school, how women couldn’t vote to give themselves the vote.
 “And that’s the way it is.”
 Wait a minute…there is no seventh footnote.
Aug 08, 2014 @ 14:11:30
Hi, Robyn. I enjoyed today’s blog. The comment re the powerful not wanting to share their power lest it be diminished is so true. Re continuing poverty, conflict and oppression in our world, it IS discouraging that, in spite of sometimes defeating forces that use power for evil, others arise. Yet, in spite of this tension, countless people around the world share life in a generous way. We need more of the latter and much less of the former. Best, Roger Cormier
Aug 08, 2014 @ 14:50:52
Thank you, Roger. I think you bring up a good point, of keeping in mind how so many people (usually unheralded) around the world share life in a generous way. I have, many times, been on the receiving end of unmerited acts of kindness. I suppose the point is to keep paying it back, forward, sideways, up and down and….
Aug 08, 2014 @ 18:38:10
Happy Chet’s Birthday to you. Sweet remembrance, and lovely/sad meditation on your mom as well.