This page is reserved for my contributions to other publications: 1. Chapter 6 The Absence of …. , Section 2 of The Disenfranchised, stories of life and grief when an ex-spouse dies; 2. Sections on my retirement lifestyle in The Single Woman’s Guide to Retirement; 3. Op-Ed, Common Sense in Political Campaigns (reprinted in various newspapers since early 2000’s.
The Disenfranchised…Stories of Life and Grief When an Ex-Spouse Dies. Peggy Sapphire is a friend and writer colleague. I was honored to have her request that I contribute to her anthology. My piece is on page 57.
The Disenfranchised: Stories of Life and Grief When an Ex-Spouse Dies
Editor: Peggy Sapphire, with commentary provided by Shirley Scott An anthology of nineteen, previously unpublished, first-person narratives that detail histories of disenfranchised grief following loss, as written by a surviving ex-spouse. Each narrative is accompanied by clinical commentary (including bibliography) reflecting the issues and patterns of disenfranchised grief.
Clothbound list price: $58.95 + p&h
Paperbound list price: $49.95 + p&h
Exerpt: The absence of …..
During our divorce, when my almost ex-spouse decided, once again, that the grass was greener elsewhere, my children and I breathed a sigh of relief. Remember Yogi Berra … it ain’t over ‘till it’s over? He was right. We were to endure more months of drunken violent tirades, until he finally departed, on Valentines Day. Ironic. Anyway, after a few months of relative peace, we could stop looking over our shoulder and really breathe. From that point forward, about a week before his birthday, he would call the house, a reminder for the children to wish him a Happy Birthday. I suppose it was nasty, but my oldest son would play a game of not responding to his hints, although he knew he was setting us up for a series of disruptive phone calls, leaving everyone exhausted and frustrated. For a while, my eldest still played at the game, became an expert at aggravating his father. And some parents wonder how children become vindictive? I am sorry to say I did prolong our troubles by arguing and accusing, but eventually realized it was futile. We do learn.
A number of years were to pass with sporadic calls, serving only to distance any relationship that might have been, until one day my middle son received a call from an uncle who lived in the same State as their father. He explained that their father was dying and that he wanted to see his children. Now, past history had not been good – no holiday or birthday cards, never mind presents; no acknowledgement of accomplishment such as graduation, marriage, grandchildren; and of course, no child support. This was when the courts did not track absentee fathers. When he left, the children were ten, thirteen, and sixteen.
Before and during these years, my children and I developed a survival relationship. You know the kind – loving, sequestered and defensive, thoughts of the traumatic past slowly dissipating, allowing ourselves to anticipate happiness, keeping details to ourselves. It’s not that my family did not know what was going on. I shared some, not all. Most relatives were sympathetic, some not. It was back when good Catholic women with young children did not divorce; they were supposed to persevere. I was never good at persevering. Times were lean; single parents an oddity. We literally survived until gradually finances improved
So, my son gets this call and, after speaking with his siblings, they all call me. Given their father’s track record and given that this particular uncle had painted a picture of me as the Wicked Witch of the West within the paternal side of the family, you would think they would have told him where to go. Wrong. The question to me was: “He’s dying. We want to allow him to visit. What do you think?
What do I think? Truthfully, I thought they were crazy, but I was never so proud of them. After all they had been through and all they had done without due to the circumstances their father had constructed, they chose to honor his request. As much as I thought I had ruined their childhood, maybe I had done something right? It seems my daughter wanted to see who this person was, this person she was supposed to call “Dad”. My sons had more ulterior motives. They figured he would realize he was setting himself up for a fall and cancel at the last moment (he had threatened to visit previously), or show up and hope his children had not done well without him. Either way, they wanted to see his reaction to them as adults. They requested their uncle send a recent snapshot since it had been fifteen years and they had no idea what he looked like (or how his cancer had altered his appearance). Later, they described the scene at the airport:
“Mom, we figured he might have lost weight – their father had been 5’9”, 250 pounds –……..
Book: The Single Woman’s Guide to Retirement. Take a look!
On page 148:
In these difficult financial times, a little ingenuity goes a long way. Barbara Traynor, author of Second Career Volunteer: A Passionate Pennywise Approach to a Unique Lifestyle has an inventive approach:
As an administrative assistant for 45-plus years and a single parent to boot, I thought I would have to work forever. Not so! In 2004, I received a fortuitous email stating there were “organizations that supplement their staff with volunteers, offering free room and board in exchange for workplace skills.” I only need to get there! Considering I would rely completely on Social Security income, I began to rethink retirement.
I discovered free room and board translates to ……………… (click on book cover to order)
OP-ED: Published in The Litchfield Times, Albany Times-Union and other newspapers since early 2000’s:
INJECT COMMON SENSE INTO POLITICAL CAMPAIGNS
It is a given that most United States citizens, even those benefiting financially, agree our current election hype lasts far too long and costs far too much. In less than 200 years, presidential stratagem has evolved from small, exclusive meetings to massive undertakings that consume hundreds of millions of dollars. The Electoral College has become largely ceremonial. Dollars prevail. Our Constitution says nothing about how candidates for office of the presidency should be nominated; it merely provides guidelines to allow the development of political parties. What began as a simple process simply isn’t anymore. It is time to think about change.
A logical first step would be to set a time frame for campaigning. The fax, cell phone and Internet have long replaced the Pony Express. Give today’s media a live plug and they’re ready! Instant communication transmits data with lightning speed ensuring immediate exposure of person, place – or skeleton. In my opinion, November election campaigns need not begin until Jan. 1 of an election year. Ten months is long enough to advertise, vocalize, and dramatize. The general public is knowledgeable. We have been known to possess the ability to distinguish between façade and reality.
Give us voter education, not verbal assault and battery. Spare us underdog rhetoric. Give us straightforward, realistic objectives on which to base our choices since individual leadership can and has transformed the course of history. Allow us the opportunity within an encapsulated period of time to listen beyond promises made – to do more than ratify a predetermined consensus – and then count my vote. It’s not any one person’s fault that our election process has evolved into a chaotic antiquated monster, but it will be a collective fault if we continue to feed that monster.
The word “campaign” evolved from the French, describing the amount of time an army was kept in the field for a particular military operation. Ironic! The connotation remains. Presently, a grassroots infantry assembles two to three years prior to the nomination reveille, gaining momentum through the unofficial announcements, advancing to polling and debate skirmishes, maneuvering through primaries and caucuses until the final assault – the campaign. It is the hostile encounters that should be eliminated; the incidents of obsessive humiliation complete with public backstabbing where wounds are repeatedly probed. Halfway through this foray, candidates are expended and the public feels stampeded. Voting becomes a spectator sport.
The task of governing as President of our free and independent country (supposedly the campaign objective), is no different from any other job. Get past the period of adjustment and it becomes cyclical. The unique factor is the distinct four-year time frame to accomplish goals, promised or otherwise. If the candidate is new to the position, the first year is spent acclimating to the magnitude of responsibility, assembling a dedicated staff and, incidental but important, moving into a national residence. The second year begins with the State of the Union message, a quasi apology counteracting criticism, refocusing to accomplish what was not in the first 365 days. By the third year, the candidate is looking toward re-election! Forget the fourth. This leaves about one year of actual focused leadership. To eliminate this distraction and minimize time and dollars squandered, we must consider electing our president for five years instead of four, sans re-election.
Upon ratification of the Constitution of the United States, our forefathers served with commitment, dedication – and at times a certain amount of flair – leaving office at the completion of their duties. They worked together to build our nation, trusting the growth of that nation to future generations. They were not, nor did they intend to be, career politicians. We have distorted the concept of public service from a period of time devoted to providing a service to the public, to a vocation. The liberated behavior of retiring or expunged civil servants proves that special interest groups have no interest in those who are leaving office. Allow our elected officials the latitude to focus on issues, not re-election. Let the best political efforts be apparent before those elected balance on the tightrope of perpetual political speculation.
Our democratic process works. It is filled with conscientious individuals who willingly guard world peace and resolve constituent woes. Most are impelled by passion to right a wrong by provoking change. The authors of our Constitution anticipated change. Provisions were written to accommodate growth, though no one could have predicted the speed and magnitude of this country’s development. Change is sometimes complex, but if understood, can be managed. Our recent election proved this. As we continue to strive for effective leadership on all fronts, we must elect the most qualified person in a timely and prudent manner.
Let our fervor for integrity provoke sustained change within the campaign process. As demonstrated in 2008, we must utilize the mechanism of traditional political enthusiasm to inject common sense into every political campaign.