Posts filed under ‘men of substance’
The air – warm ,not too humid, not too hot- a summer’s afternoon. My eyes are heavy- I can barely keep them open – any other time -it would be a good thing to fall into sleep -for sleep heals – but sleep does not come easily now. This day, there is no noise from the street, all is quiet – the windows open – a small, lake kissed breeze, finds its way in – cooling the room, the lace curtains stir and wake, caressed by the breeze, adding a movement gentle and relaxing , hypnotic.
There are “little” sounds creeping around the edges of consciousness, a rustling of leaves from the Birch tree as they help the breeze on its journey , a bird splashing in the flower fountain under the window – a languid lullaby beckoning me away from a weary world. The plump couch cushions invite me into repose – I feel myself sinking into that healing sleep, without meaning to- probably further induced by re-occurring pain from the night, the tears that flooded the pillow taking their toll, wearing at me and what strength I have left.
Lulled once more into another world, finding myself happy in a room -a student’s room , there is pleasure , laughter in that room, my son talking to me, he is young and strong , I look upon the face I know so well- his face tanned ,
Oh! why doesn’t he take that damned hat off
– His eyes animated – we are talking about soccer, his team, how the game went yesterday. He doesn’t usually talk excitedly except about the things he loves or an accomplishment- a goal! He laughs, enjoying the moments relived, the coach had been overjoyed at the winning goal , another win to brag about. He carries the conversation, describing the details of that winning goal, every movement down the field, every pass , the cross , the header into the goal ……
I reach my hand to touch his face, he is too big , too grownup, too old to kiss and make a “mother” fuss. My hand cups his cheek , there is a warmth to his skin, the muscles of his cheek flutter a beneath my palm as he smiles once more at me . He is being patient with his silly sentimental mum. I can feel the stubble of a growing beard – see the colour of gold against my fingertips as I withdraw my hand hesitant to lose the connection. ….
I sit back in the chair that has somehow appeared into the picture and ask –
Has the doctor been in touch?
The mood changes-
“He doesnt’ want me seeing anyone else – there is nothing to be done
My mind whirls, confused thoughts rushing in from other worlds and times
What do you mean- let me talk to him – you look fine strong- there is nothing wrong you will beat this we will find a way
And then my body screams me awake– I am jolted ripped from happiness – I am back – my conscious mind declaring it unsafe, to continue , to go through his dying days again… rescued????
The breeze still moving the curtains – ceiling fan lazily stirring the warm air… his picture smiling from the mantle …. still there as dust moves dancing in circles in the sunlight – a smile frozen ! MY tears fall once more, lungs try to breathe, to escape the band of iron that is now encircling them and I realize – those moments of happiness- a gift for brief seconds- snatched away – just as he was snatched away by that obscenity – cancer- it permeates everything-
I fight being awake to reality. I want to go back – go back to that place where the excitement still had a place , where his smile was not just an instant caught by the lens of a camera …- it is no good…. I go to the computer, trying to hold onto those moments for just a little longer to remember the feeling of happiness and having him near……. to keep that moment… but all is lost…. the words bring back the pain of losing happiness, laughter , my son …… …..
Your drawings, sketches, photographs, product design, glass design, ad campaigns- for the most part your class work from your years studying at Cleveland Institute of Art has comforted me. I am surrounded by your raw talent in this house you called home for 28 years.
Not long after that dreadful December day, when I was in such despair my breathing was “forced”, the will to continue absent, trying to bear the unbearable -I would sit in your room, hour after hour looking out at the sky you looked at, drinking in the essence of you that lingered- waiting – for my breath to stop and release me from the agony.
Your father, wandering around the rest of the house , he too , looking for answers as to the cruel and terrible place we found ourselves. One such day, he struggled up the stairs with this life-sized self- portrait you had done in your “foundation years” at CIA he had found in a pile of your “paintings” . I had seen the preliminary sketches , small and the large, but I never knew the painting existed. You had done “just enough” to get it passed for the class- you weren’t a great success when it came to painting- that was not your forte.
The portrait , amateurish, insignificant to the rest of the world was and is worth more than any “old master” to us. The portrait hangs in pride of place and although a likeness of you at 22 , the perspective- a little needy. However, in the evening, softened by a night-light, the “mistakes” fade and blend until I see you as you were.
My comfort, I was reminded by your portrait there was more to you than the emptiness left to us. And so, I was able to find the strength to write about you and to write the truth.
I thought I was done receiving your gifts of comfort- and there have been many – some surprising. But once again, this last week, your father came in from the garage with another object. This time apparently with one of your “tries” with “glass”. I treasure “failures” just as reverently as I treasure the successes.
World Cup Trophy – Breath of Life- Tiny Blue/ Gold Vase – Chris Ritchey
There are times, looking at some of your work, I wonder what you were thinking – did you have a premonition as to what the future may hold? But this latest gift did take me aback somewhat. I know of your wicked sense of humour. Was it used for a drinking vessel, as it is hollow inside and is a little strangely shaped an elongated smooth edge or was it designed to hold a light, as others of your pieces did?
You liked to work with light in glass- I have experienced that in the “Breath of Life”- a certain time of the day when the sun hits its just right the piece glows and the Celtic design in the body of the glass glow with fire. But “this” latest addition is very heavy but is surprisingly tactile in nature, the feel of it in your hands adds another dimension I wouldn’t have believed possible- there is a sense of movement in the texture of the glass – planned or by accident – it is a “puzzlement “ What can I say Chris once again you made me laugh, made me cry and ask the question ‘WHY????”
A little over 2 1/2 years ago Lorain Mayor- Chase Ritenauer, Chief of Staff- Derek Feurestein , Ariel Vasquez of the Lorain Utilities Dept. met, along with the parents and family members of three of the young men who had lost their lives for our freedom in Iraq and Afghanistan, on what was then a derelict waste and dumping ground .
We trudged , and I mean that literally, through bracken, weeds, over fallen trees and mud as Ariel explained his vision for what would become Eric Barnes Heroes Walk.
Ariel explained how each young man would have a tribute garden with a bench , signage and artwork along a path which would meander through what was left of a woods, flower beds and a view of Lorain’s lakefront a priority . The pathway would connect the two areas already in place known as, Settlers’ Watch 2009
and at the opposite end of the site Admiral King Tribute site 2011.
The plan was ambitious. Ariel and his crew, with the support of the volunteers and donations through Charleston Village Society, would have phase one completed by November 11th-2012.
As I walked the pathway on Pride Day,
I could not credit how far the area had progressed in the months and changing seasons since that walk of vision. The plants grown and tended so beautifully by our volunteer “Constant Gardener- Joe” . Thinking back to that day in 2012 I remembered the look on the faces of the others as we stumbled through the undergrowth – they weren’t so sure themselves this plan would come to fruition!
Once more this morning, I walked in the sunshine, the blue of the lake sparkling as the waves danced and the wind blew the clouds around an azure sky, with my two grandsons- ages 6 and 3. We were putting out the flags for Memorial Day, a job they hold very dear.
As we went along, making sure each garden and area was recognized, I admonished Gavin telling him to make sure the flags never touched the ground. Being six, the question arose,
I didn’t want to confuse them anymore than I usually do with my explanations and this was an important WHY? I said it was
out of respect for the young men and woman who gave their lives for their country, in this case the United States and the flag was very important as it was carried into battle.
But why can’t it touch the ground- NOG?
Even from Roman times the “standard” was considered extremely important –
The standard-bearer normally was in close proximity to the unit leader. When the standard ‘fell’, the unit members did not have a visual point to rally around or return and the possibility that the leader had fallen was great. Loss of a standard in battle was considered to be one of the worst things to happen – the Honor of the unit was lost. By the same token, capturing a standard by an opponent was considered to be a tremendous act of courage.
With England’s long history emblems and flags ( standards) were most important on the field of battle and like the Romans the disappearance of the a standard/ flag on the battle field may well mean the battle was lost.
But I wasn’t absolutely certain about the United States history and the flag not touching the ground– was there another aspect my grandsons should know about?
Once again, the search for a reason – apart from respect as I knew it had to be – sent me to Google. To my surprise, I was brought full circle back to this community of Lorain. As I googled the reasoning, I was directed to a site about the Civil War and my eyes beheld a familiar painting .
COPY RIGHT 1890 STORMING OF FORT WAGNER – “CHARGE OF THE 54 MASS(COL) RGT JULY 18TH 1863- (UNION) GENERAL GILLMORE
Yes the Storming of Fort Wagner – the movie Glory – and my dining room companion General Gillmore !!![
Among the troops who assaulted Ft. Wagner was the 54th Massachusetts, a regiment of African-Americans led (as required by regulation) by white commissioned officers. Gillmore had ordered that his forces be integrated and that African-Americans were not to be assigned menial tasks only, such as KP or latrine duty, but instead they were to carry arms into battle. They and their assault on Ft. Wagner were the subject of the 1989 Civil War movie Glory, which starred Morgan Freeman and Matthew Broderick.
There, also, Sergeant William Carney, who had earlier taken up the National Colors when the color sergeant had been shot, planted the flag and fought off numerous attempts by the Confederates to capture it. Without support, and faced with superior numbers and firepower, the 54th was forced to pull back. Despite two severe wounds, Sergeant Carney carried the colors to the rear. When praised for his bravery, he modestly replied, “I only did my duty; the old flag never touched the ground.” Carney was awarded the Medal of Honor for his actions, the first African-American to receive the award.
The next time I walk the path with my grandsons- I will tell them the story of General Gillmore, whose father owned all the land
upon which we walk, when we wander through Settlers’ Watch, Eric Barnes Heroes Walk, and Admiral King Tribute Site and how it was the men under his command who “never let the old flag touch the ground”
The Lorain Dudes and Pride in Lorain- Growing year by year
Settlers’ Watch dedicated August 2009– follow link for the videos of the ceremony- Mark Teleha
The story of Settlers’ Watch – Mark Teleha
Admiral King Tribute Site dedication September 18th 2011
follow the links for the dedication Mark Teleha
Eric Barnes Heroes Walk – ( Phase One) November 11 – 2012
follow link for the videos of the ceremony Mark Teleha
It takes as lot of work and pride to take this site from this
to what it is today . A pride that grows and continues – The Lorain Dude
Pride Day 2010 Settlers’ Watch https://thatwoman.wordpress.com/2010/05/17/lorain-dude-discovers-pride-and-settlers-watch/
Photo Lisa Miller
Pride Day 2011 https://thatwoman.wordpress.com/2011/06/17/a-pride-full-day-settlers-watch-2011/
Pride Day 2012
Pride Day 2013
That year found the Lorain Dude having a family helper – the other Lorain Dude.
Pride Day 2014– the Lorain Dudes were kept home by mum due to the terrible weather but that didn’t stop the faithful
And now a collage of sorts from Pride Day Settlers’ Watch, Eric Barnes Heroes Walk and Admiral King Tribute Site
Screen Shot – Rotary – Dina Ferrer
Photos by Lisa Miller
Lorain Dudes back to work
Link to Lisa Portfolio of Pride
The area , thanks to Charleston Village Volunteers, Lorain Rotary, The City of Lorain looks cared for , beautiful and unique.
We would be remiss if we didn’t thank Mr. and Mrs. Perez of 6th Street and the Girl Scouts for the sign and V space for the Charleston Village sign – Thank you so much !!!
And finally another sunset – Settlers Watch- Lisa Miller
These days of winter still linger outside the den window- snow still falling in March. The ground frozen- unyielding and yet below a small little bulb struggles to break through the hard coldness surrounding it. The energy within fights the blackness to reach the surface. Soon the snows will melt in a warming sun turning ice to life, giving moisture, warming the dormant earth until at last the bulb senses a release from the prison. Tentatively, it will send out a small shoot to search for the sunlight- pushing through undaunted and finally celebrating its freedom with a glory of fragrance, colours reflective of passion and hope.
I wish my life was like that – it isn’t- the bulb has more of a chance than I. My world is still dark and frozen. The questions rage on in my mind- WHY? Why is my beautiful son locked in that terrible place- thanks to others.
He had no chance to see the coming spring.
Why?? rings through the bleakness – why if there is as supreme being , whatever the beliefs does he/she allow the horrors perpetrated in their names and yet daily those of light and laughter die? Why???
I don’t know of any answer! I have been reminded of those things this week and your last days. The mask, I had to wear when in your ICU room, caused an allergic reaction under my nose and around my mouth. It took many days for it to heal properly after you died. The scar is there, unseen for the most-part but every so often with a cold virus it will flair. It did this week, from a distance it could be mistaken for a “Hitler moustache. Another subhuman- Roman Catholic altar boy who visited such horror upon mankind.
And yet there is a beauty in this grief so profound as to sap the energy of life and laughter – it is the love that your Nana, Dad and sister still feel – not diminishing- as the world turns once more around the sun – one day I will know the answers ……. as will we all in the meantime I will put my faith in the earth , the sky , the sun and rain to bring forth life……….
January 3rd- All over this planet people are starting this year of 2015 with goals- losing weight , spending more time with family, giving up smoking etc. My goal, is to be able to sit in the chair in the den long enough to write my 3rd of the month post for you my son. Not to do so would be , for me , breaking faith with not letting the world forget as so many in your life have already done, that you existed were loved and made a difference.
Without going into too much detail, I have had chronic pain for a few months. First the drugs were tried and they took care of it so it was manageable for a few weeks at a time but then more and stronger were needed. I have learned through your months of “hospitals and doctors ” more negatives than I ever wished to know about the health care system and some “professionals and hospitals”. Because of my life for those many months watching and seeing the outcomes I now trust only my instincts , my intelligence and my own research.
Yes that is right Chris, the one thing I learned is that I should have taken more charge of what was happening to you- I didn’t. Would the outcome have been the same? In all probability YES but the pain of our journey would have been lessened and hope would not have been sold “wholesale” for as long as the insurance paid and you would not have been Cleveland Clinic “lab rat”.
As I researched and interviewed Drs. I refused to be sent to anyone having anything to do with my dreaded Cleveland Clinic or doctors that took their residency under a certain Program Director at South Pointe Hospital –
I knew too much about that aspect of Dr. training from personal experience.
You would be amazed at the faces of potential health care professionals when I interviewed them. I am sure a couple were getting out the “white coat” for me. But remember this is my body , my choice, they are not gods, just people earning a living in the health care industry and not all doctors are of the same level. Putting a MD or DO to their name doesn’t make then all-knowing or of more than a “passable” expertise ! You and your insurance are paying for their expertise and yet so often we turn ourselves over to people we don’t know or know very little about or who know about you and say “save me”. You trust in their ability or the ability to refer but to whom?? You have rights as a patient and I now choose to exercise those rights.
However, I have managed even with my “outrageous to some” criteria to find a few wonderful doctors, and two very special hospitals, small enough to know my name and to whom , I and my family are people and not just an insurance number or the next condo in the islands payment .
One, St. John West Shore http://www.sjws.net/
has literally saved my husband’s life twice in the past 18 months and have treated my strange proclivity’s with patience, caring and understanding.
The pain worsened , I managed with drugs and hot water bottles and a lot of understanding from family and friends for the two weeks it took for the “insurance” to tell my doctor it was Ok for the next step.
Every time I filled the red hot water bottle , too hot for my bare skin, I thought of you the hundreds of times the five hot water bottles we filled in Texas as you went through the “trial” with no one but you and I. The number of scalding hot baths you took every night to ease the pain in your body. You never complained to me I know you didn’t want to scare me , you were “eating pain pills like candy” I knew you were just trying “to be”. I watched the pain envelope you but the phone would ring and you would answer in a voice so strong so as to hide the agony you were going through.
December 17th found me having the first procedure which went well, in fact better than expected and for 10 wonderful days I had only very slight discomfort- the pain forgotten as I got through Christmas. I was waiting for the procedure in the operating room and the anesthesiologist as he stated ” you will feel a little burn then nothing”- I remember thinking
I wish you could make me feel nothing! I wish you and your anesthesia had something to erase this horrible debilitating grief( that you are unaware of as I lay here)
But just like the tsunami of grief that is held at bay whilst life continues, so the pain laid low for a bit roared back into being . It came back after departing for a just a brief while,- contained – only to break through the medical barrier stronger for the respite as my body probably was doing more than it should without the warning of pain.
New Years Eve, found me once again laying on the table waiting to have my misery relieved. I have in the past months learned to live outwardly not showing for the most part the grieving mess I really am- the powder and paint of normalcy painted on like a mask every morning.
This time although I felt nothing due to the anesthesia and how that works is a mystery to me and also to others
” Despite their necessity in modern medicine, scientists aren’t sure exactly how anesthetics work. The best theory suggests that they dissolve some of the fat present in brain cells, changing the cells’ activity. But, the precise mechanisms remain unknown. ”
Well the fat cells in my brain may have been dissolved but apparently “according to the nurse” my fat body ( she didn’t say that though) was not co-operating and was moving around in pain on the table for a bit even after my brain was anesthetized .
Not such a good thing for the doctor, I would assume, poised to do a delicate procedure. I, of course was unaware this happened although in my mind’s eye this great lump of a body laden with grief flopping around on the table half-naked probably wasn’t a great sight for him that New Years Eve. He earned his money that day.
So here it is January 2nd , my pain has lessened although I am not fully functional but I am endeavouring to sit in a chair for as long as it takes to finish this post for you. – a lap top may be in my future-
But somehow I will get this post written and posted even if I have to take jpgs of these scribbles and post them.
Another year without you in our lives will not be happy but hopefully it will at least be free from physical pain…. and I think of you every waking minute of every pain filled moment… I love you Chris
Disclaimer : The views and opinions in this post as to various doctors and hospitals are entirely my own based upon my varied experiences with such entities through out the illness of my family members and myself. I have no medical expertise but the life experience of having been there immersed in the world of medicine !