03 June 2022

An Uvalde Mother

 Written by one of the Uvalde victims moms:

“The chicken soup in her thermos stayed hot all day while her body grew cold.
She never had a chance to eat the baloney and cheese sandwich. I got up 10 minutes early to cut the crust off a sandwich that will never be eaten.
Should I call and cancel her dental appointment next Wednesday? Will the office automatically know?
Should I still take her brother to the appointment since I already took the day off work? Last time Carlos had one cavity and Amerie asked him what having a cavity feels like.
She will never experience having a cavity.
She will never experience having a cavity filled.
The cavities in her body now are from bullets, and they can never be filled.
What if she had asked to use the bathroom in the hall a few minutes prior to the gunman entering the room, locking the door, and slaughtering all inside?
Was she one of the first kids in the room to die or one of the last?
These are the things they don’t tell us.
Which of her friends did she see die before her?
Did their blood and brains splatter across her Girl Scout uniform?
She just earned a Fire Safety patch.
What if it got ruined?
There are no patches for school shootings.
Was she practicing writing GIRAFFE the moment he walked in her classroom, barricaded the door and opened fire?
She keeps forgetting the silent “e” at the end.
We studied this past weekend, and now she doesn’t need to take the spelling test on Friday.
None of them will take the spelling test on Friday.
There will be no spelling test on Friday.
Because there is no one to give it.
And no one to take it.
These are the things I will never know:
I will never know at what age she would have started her period.
I will never know if she had wisdom teeth.
(Or if they would have come in crooked.)
I will never know who she spoke to last. Was it the teacher? Was it her table partner, George? She says George is always talking, even during silent reading.
Did she even scream?
She screamed the lyrics to We Don’t Talk About Bruno at 7:58 AM as she hopped out of my car in the circle drive.
She always sings the Dolores part, her sister sings Mirabel and I’m Bruno.
“And I wanted you to know that your bro loves you so
Let it in, let it out, let it rain, let it snow, let it goooooo……..”
Did the killer ever see Encanto?
Could we have sat in the same row of seats, on the same day, munching popcorn?
What if Amerie brushed past him in the aisle? Did she politely say, “Excuse me,” to the boy who would someday blow her eye sockets apart?
Was he chomping on bubble gum as he destroyed them all?
If so, what flavor?
Was the radio on as he drove to massacre them? Or did he drive in silence?
Was the sun in his eyes as he got out of the car in the parking lot?
Did his pockets hold sunglasses or just ammunition?
These are the things I will never know.
There is laundry in the dryer that is Amerie’s.
Clothes I never need to fold again.
Clothes that are right now warmer than her body.
How will I ever be able to take them out of the dryer and where will I put them if not back in her dresser?
I can never wash clothes in that dryer again.
It will stand silent; a tomb for her pajamas and knee socks.
Her cousin’s graduation party is next month and I already signed her name in the card. Should I cross it out?
That will be the last card I ever sign her name to.
The dog will live longer than she will.
The dog will be 12 next month and she will be eternally 10.
What will the school do with her backpack?
It was brand new this year and she attached her collection of keychains like cherished trophies to its zipper.
A beaded 4 leaf clover she made on St. Patty’s Day.
A red heart from a Walk-a-Thon.
A neon ice cream cone from her friend’s birthday party.
Now there will be no more keychains to attach.
No more trophies.
Surely they can’t throw it out?
Would they throw them all out?
19 backpacks, full of stickered assignments and rainboots, all taken to the dumpster behind the school?
Is there even a dumpster big enough to contain all that life?
These are the things someone else knows:
The moment the semiautomatic rifle was put into his hands–was “Bring Me a Higher Love” playing in the gun store? “Get off my Cloud” by the Rolling Stones? Maybe it was Elton John’s “Rocket Man.”
Did the Outback Oasis salesperson hesitate as they slid him 375 rounds of ammunition?
not my problem my kids are grown and out of school
Or I don’t have kids, so I don’t have to worry about their skulls getting blown across the naptime mat
Or fingers crossed there’s a good guy with an equally powerful gun that will stop this gun if needed
Did they sense any danger or were they more focused on picking that morning’s Raisin Bran out of their teeth?
My Nana used to say, “Pay attention to what whispers, and you won’t have to when it starts screaming.”
But now I know there is a more deafening sound than children screaming.
More horrific even, than automatic rifles on a Tuesday morning.
I beg the world:
Pay attention to what’s screaming today, or be forced to endure the silence that follows.”

01 November 2021

“Courageous Peace in a Time Of Great Change”

Dona Nobis Pacem 2021

"It isn't enough to talk about peace.
One must believe in it.
And it isn't enough to believe in it.
One must work at it."

Eleanor Roosevelt

13 February 2021

 Squeezing Out a Memory 

Reprint of an old blog article

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is e95d7-orange2.jpg

Mother and one aunt lived in Los Angeles, one aunt in Fowler, two aunts in Fresno, and the last of the six Pifer girls in Chowchilla: A sisterhood chain down Old Highway 99. Their children (the cousins) migrated up and down that road every summer almost at will to mix and match, occasionally by bus or train, but usually by car driven at speeds unheard of today except by cars being chased by police while TV station helicopters whirr overhead.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is a5670-pifergirls.jpg

Going north, you climbed up the grade from LA to Gorman and then started the long twist of the grapevine hitting the great drop above Bakersfield where it was pedal to the metal on an empty road, only slowing down for the tinier three block main streets equipped with stop signs and cruising through Bakersfield to look at the bridge that it recently took Buck Owens to save.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is de81c-bakersfld.jpg

With that drop came the heat in an age when auto air conditioning was high speeds and open windows. When the heat became too great we started looking for them. The great orange blobs dotting the landscape and the howls would start: Stop, please stop .... oh please, please, please.

In the searing summer heat of the San Joaquin, those orange blobs had an elixer of such heavenly proportions as to make children weep when without halting one faded in the rear view mirror. When you stopped there was the flimsy wooden Mammoth Orange with a window. It meant shade, a glass filled with ice and fresh squeezed juice from oranges that had been on the trees just that morning. In the blazing sun and rural valley dust, it was the most remarkable drink ever served with just the right acid bite to quench thirst.

It is over fifty years later now. But every once in a while you will see one of the giant oranges dusted and boarded up. Only a few still exist, and almost too late there is a move to preserve the few that remain in museums, while a couple are still trying to stay open for business, just in case you find yourself in Chowchilla or heading over Pacheco Pass to Los Banos.

To this day, when I order a breakfast juice or a champagne Mimosa for breakfast or brunch, I judge the quality of a restaurant by one question, "Is your orange juice fresh squeezed?"

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is 9ed7e-mammoth_orange_-_web1.jpg

30 December 2020

Welcome to 2021

Should auld acquaintance be forgot
And never brought to mind?
Should auld acquaintance be forgot
And days of auld lang syne?

For auld lang syne, my dear
For auld lang syne
We’ll tak a cup o’ kindness yet
For days of auld lang syne

We twa hae run about the braes
And pu’d the gowans fine
But we’ve wander’d mony a weary fit
Sin days of auld lang syne

We twa hae paidl’d i’ the burn
Frae morning sun till dine
But seas between us braid hae roar’d
Sin days of auld lang syne

For auld lang syne, my dear
For auld lang syne
We’ll tak a cup o’ kindness yet
For days of auld lang syne

And surely ye’ll be your pint-stowp
And surely I’ll be mine
And we’ll tak a cup o’ kindness yet
For auld lang syne

And there’s a hand, my trusty fiere
And gie’s a hand o’ thine
And we’ll tak a right gude-willy waught
For auld lang syne

For auld lang syne, my dear
For auld lang syne
We’ll tak a cup o’ kindness yet
For auld lang syne

For auld lang syne, my dear
For auld lang syne
We’ll tak a cup o’ kindness yet
For auld lang syne