Tuesday, January 31, 2012

How Cindy Got Her Groove Back

I think I’ve got the process underway. I believe I may be on the road to recovery, though as I type this I am knocking on wood, crossing fingers and toes, making the sign of the cross and furiously searching for an old rabbit’s foot. I thought I had reached this point a few times before only to slip back even deeper into the black hole. Like they say, one step forward, two steps back. But I really think this time is different.

I am amazed at the similarities between myself and the vivacious Stella, star of the 1998 movie of similar name. It is as if our lives are parallel, well, except for a few minor details.
I am not a wealthy, successful stock broker who can take a month off to go lay in the sun on a Caribbean Island. I am, however, planning to spend a couple of days in Myrtle Beach sleeping on Roger and Julie’s trundle bed.

I don’t get to pal around with the likes of Whoopi Goldberg. But I do have Molly and Ro, my partners in crime, my confidantes, my shoulders to cry on, my butt kickers when I need it.
I haven’t met my Winston Shakespeare, the Taye Diggs character who is hot, sexy, romantic and of course fabulous in the sack. Ah, who needs that when you are in love with your soulmate. (Umm, maybe I should think about this one a little longer. It is Taye Diggs after all, LOL).

I look nothing like Angela Bassett in a swimsuit. Oh, I have her body, I’m just not black. (Actually, I don’t have her body in the white version either).
I don’t have a young son. But I do have two grown daughters who are beautiful, smart, funny and amazing. They take after their mom.

I’m not in my 40’s. But I was once, though it was a long time ago.
Healing is a process, and much like the movies, it can often have a happy ending. I’m working on it, but I’m not buying the popcorn until the reviews are in.

(Special thanks to all my groovers – you know who you are)

Thursday, January 26, 2012

I'll Do It My Way (Frank Sinatra style)

When my daughter was about four years old, we took her to see the movie Harry and the Hendersons. We thought we had chosen a wonderful family movie that she would remember for years to come. Oh, she remembered it alright. She sobbed uncontrollably all the way home. Her father and I lived with the guilt for years afterwards. I guess we just didn’t realize what a sensitive little girl we had produced. Of course, she got it from her mother.

I used to love going to the movies. Both my exes were movie lovers as well, so a once a week movie date was the norm for us. Nowadays, it is a treat to catch a movie while still showing in the big screen. At ten dollars a ticket, and don’t even talk about possible popcorn or a drink, it simply makes more sense to wait until the movie makes it to Redbox rental status.
Tonight, I was ready for a treat.  I had seen the trailers for Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close. I typically like anything starring Tom Hanks. The only other 9/11 movie I remember is Reign Over Me and it affected me deeply. Billy Joel never gave me the 9/11 song I believe he owed me, owed us. So it was time for a dose of reality. I went for it, by myself, which turned out to be a smart decision.

Before the movie even started, there were the trailers for other movies. I love watching the trailers. It provides me a list of movies I want to see.  I was crying before I got through the trailers, mostly by watching those for The Vow and Big Miracle. I had allotted myself five Kleenex for tonight’s feature. I was through two of them before the trailers ended.
I won’t be a spoiler, but the movie focuses on a family affected by the 9/11 tragedy and yes, someone died. The story that unfolds is beautifully told, poignant and delivers its message loud and clear – time waits for no one. When a life is ripped away from us, we are left to pick up the pieces, attempt to understand why it happened and, most profoundly, to live with the regrets of all we didn’t accomplish.

As I inch ever closer to the golden years, I am reminded daily of my mortality. I have lost friends, people my own age, who left behind unmet goals and unrealized dreams. I am at a crossroads in my own life, and the light has been red for too long.  I am doing my best to have the patience that Mother of the Sky, my favorite astrologer, keeps telling me I need. There are goals on the table, and strategic plans to achieve them, but some stumbling blocks are perched in the path and their removal is out of my control.
I don’t want to have regrets. I don’t want a hope chest full of goals that never came to fruition. I don’t want unsaid words roaming in my head. I don’t want to star in the movie called The Greatest Love Story Never Told. Perhaps the time to reshuffle priorities has come. Anyone else in?

Sunday, January 22, 2012

In Honor of a Fallen Soldier

It’s a rainy Saturday, the kind of day that makes you lazy. At almost 11AM, I am still in bed having just finished a good book that made me cry at the end. I have two more to read before heading back to the downtown branch of the Greenville County Library to stock up on more.

As I look outside at the rain and gloom, I am reminded of a different Saturday two weeks ago. It was the day of the funeral of Pfc. Justin Whitmire. He was 20 years old. You couldn’t even say that he was cut down in the prime of his life; he never even got close to his prime. As a mother, to me he was still a boy. But he was a boy who already knew about dedication, love of his country and helping others, part of the reason he was serving as a medic.
On December 27, just 19 days after his deployment to Afghanistan, Justin’s patrol vehicle ran over an IED. Two fellow soldiers lost their lives in the accident. Justin had volunteered for the mission. As his friends and family said, that was typical of Justin.

The funeral service was held at Simpsonville First Baptist Church with burial at Cannon Memorial Park. Over three miles of four-lane road stretch between those two points. And for several hours that Saturday, the entire stretch was lined with people, many holding American flags. The majority of them did not know Justin Whitmire personally, yet they were drawn there to mourn his death and to show support to the family he left behind. I found the reverence overwhelming.
I will admit my call to this funeral was initially motivated by the announcement that Westboro Baptist was coming to demonstrate. The hope was to form a human chain that would block the sight of the protesters from view of the family. As it turned out, Westboro never showed. I believe it had something to do with the anticipated reception they might have received. Southerners are a friendly, welcoming bunch of people – unless you try to mess with their families. In that case, you may be greeted by the barrel  end of a shotgun being held by hands with an itchy trigger finger. I believe Westboro got the message loud and clear and decided to high-tail it back to the Land of Oz

The Patriot Guard was there via invitation from the family. A devout group of motorcycle riders, they assemble as a symbol of reverence and respect for those who defend our country as members of the armed services.  In addition to the Patriot Guard, thousands of other riders came to show their respects. As we stood along the processional path, we watched literally thousands of bikes ride past, many with flags propped high in the air. Riders had come from other towns, even other states, all simply to show respect and support for the Whitmire family.
It was anticipated that the funeral procession would begin the drive from the Church to the cemetery around 2PM. Due to the overwhelming number of people in attendance, the eulogies by clergy and family members, and the task of getting everyone assembled, it was delayed by well over an hour. Yet, no one left and no one complained. We simply stood our ground patiently knowing our purpose that day far outweighed anything else we needed to do at that moment. We were in it for the long haul.

The Patriot Guard rode first, paving the way for the hearse and family limousines.  They rode slowly, solemnly and with low-idling engines. They stared at us and we stared back, finding a kinship in why we were there. As the humming of the bikes subsided, the hearse carrying Pfc. Justin Whitmire came into view. Hands went to hearts or formed a salute and tears welled in eyes. Several more limousines followed. Family members mouthed the words “thank you” as they rode by. At least 100 additional cars carrying funeral service attendees continued the trek. The thing that struck me most was the quiet. Aside from the sound of wheels crossing blacktop, you could hear a pin drop. No one spoke, no sounds of the bustling downtown were heard, no horns, whistles, sirens not even from a distance. It was as if time was standing still – Mother Earth a part of the reverent moment.
As the last car drove down Main Street toward the cemetery, life fell back into a normal pace. We mourners strode back to our vehicles, some of us talking softly, some remaining silent. A huge traffic jam ensued in that small, crowded downtown. But no one got frustrated, no one blew a horn. We took our turns allowing each other to enter the flow. The level of respect stayed elevated. We had all been impacted by what we just witnessed. And I know that Pfc. Justin Whitmire was watching from above.