In the land of things that mean little to the world at large, I had a sad encounter yesterday on my way home from a funeral.
The funeral was for a fine lady I greatly admired, the widow of a man for whom I once worked. He died long ago, but his widow and I managed to stay in touch over the years, often meeting over the melon bin at Byerly's where we both shopped. She died after being unwell for a while, but not the kind of unwell that keeps you in bed, the kind of unwell that slows you down and then one day you just don't wake up. Her name was Eleanor but everyone called her Honey and the name certainly fit this tall, graceful,Viking princess who fell in love with a short, Jewish guy, joined the tribe, and raised a passel of Jewish kids. She was buried in a kosher casket, plain, unadorned, and amazing for a woman who was the epitome of elegance and class. everything looked great on Honey. I will miss her not just because she was my last link to a part of a long-gone world, but because every time I saw her it was an adventure.
And in that mood, I was not in much of a mood to go straight home. Instead, I drove through the old neighborhood, the one we first lived in when we came back to St. Paul. I loved living on Goodrich Avenue, on the top of a duplex, with a fireplace, built-in shelves, a real dining room, and a sun porch. I loved sitting on the stoop in summer with a book in my lap, planting a little flower garden, and greeting the world as it walked by. We outgrew the flat after senior son was born, but unbeknownst to us, something would travel forward with us, something we didn't know about, and now, Ziggy's gone 9 years and I stumble onto something I never thought I'd have the answer to.
Instead of a neatly tended duplex, there was a condemned/unfit for human habitation notice taped to the door. As I stood there in shock, a neighbor lady came out. I asked what happened, and she told me the owner had died, and that when the bank took possession, they discovered the house was consumed with mold. So much so, that it was unclear whether it will be re-habbed or demolished.
Mold. The thing that triggered the headaches. The thing that started in 1980, before Senior Son was born, and would plague Ziggy until the day he died. Mold. I can't tell you if the flat had mold when we lived there, but the basement sure did. But it was a basement and Ziggy could never be down there for more than a couple minutes. Was it already creeping up the walls 38 years ago, probably. We fought mold in the bathroom constantly. Was the exposure toxic for Ziggy, probably. He was already sensitive to mold. Did this exacerbate it? Probably. From 1980 until the day he died, we lived with the headaches, those painful, debilitating, life-altering, uncontrollable headaches, not migraines, not clusters, something else they could barely identify but ultimately were able to mitigate through a variety of drugs, bio-feedback, and facial positioning. Would having known and vacated immediately have changed our lives? I don't know, and I don't want to think about it. But it's there, a spectre in the back of my mind that, at the lowest moments, whispers, What if....
I could not be angry at or hate that flat that held our best-ever dinner parties, flying parakeets, my very first fireplace, the place we brought our teeny-tiny Senior Son home, or where he learned to walk and climb bookshelves. Truth be told, seeing that sign taped to the door kinda broke my heart a little.
I think it must be my age.
Lots of things are chipping away at my heart these days. Palestinian fire-kites destroying fields; children separated from their parents, some of whom have disappeared into "the system," never to be seen again; a sitting president advocating setting aside the due process portion of the Constitution; and farmers considering dumping milk because tariffs set by this administration make selling milk overseas virtually impossible. These things all rolled together represent the bedrock being chipped away. As the extremes of both parties become increasingly shrill, more and more people are turning away, beaten and defeated by the hate-speech on both sides. Congress has to change; we cannot go on at this pace; it's destructive.
And we cannot continue to be distracted by the red-herrings of Melania's coats. While the left was consumed with her message, the GOP passed their version of next year's budget. If you're old or poor, you're gonna get older and poorer. Massive cuts to Medicaid, Medicare, and Social Security just slid right by. Granted, this is their proposal, but they are counting on the rest of us not paying attention to the trolls behind the curtain.
Thursday night, I attended a political fund-raiser for Angie Craig, candidate for Congress from MN-2. Yes, I am actively supporting her campaign. Okay, now that that's outta the way, let me say this about that: Angie is a remarkable woman; she grew up in a trailer park, worked her way through school, was a VP at St. Jude Medical, and a married lesbian. Doesn't get more left than that. She spoke well on Thursday, and I think she understands that we have to go after fence-sitting GOP folks big time. Angie is a practicalist, and that's a very Minnesotan trait. But what I worry about most in this election is that we need to be running FOR something, not running AGAINST. That's where the Democrats get into trouble. To get the vote tally we need, the voters have to know what we're fighting FOR.
Interestingly, however, this is exactly what we are fighting AGAINST: that strange kind of furor when Sarah Hucka-Sanders was asked to leave The Red Hen restaurant after the staff told the owner serving her made them uncomfortable. I believe the owner's response should've been, "Unlike Ms. Sanders, we serve anyone who walks in the door. But I recognize this makes you all uncomfortable."
Throwing her out, however polite and satisfying it was, lowers the bar to ground level. The staff at The Red Hen becomes the left version of the Colorado wedding-cake-bakers. Of course, after that speech, I probably would've been tempted to add a little more than a dash of syrup of ipecac to her salad dressing.
The Wifely Person's Tip o'the Week
Silent is complicit.