October 28, 2004

The Curse of Generations Reversed and Ice Cream

In Red Sox nation, generations have come and gone whose love for the Boston Red Sox never dimmed, who never lost hope that someday the Sox would be world champions. There's a second beloved tradition in Boston and that's Brigham's ice cream. It's not only been Boston's favorite ice cream for 90 years, its reach extends throughout Red Sox Nation. (Last year, its vanilla ice cream was New England's #1 ice cream and the #1 frozen food item sold in New England according to the Griffin Report of Food Marketing.)

I learned from my grandfather and my father that the way to watch the Red Sox was with a bowl of Brigham's ice cream, or two. A really good game deserved a quart. There was no questioning of their devotion to the Red Sox. When my grandfather married my grandmother, their honeymoon was a trip to Boston to watch the Sox at Fenway. When my father died, some of his ashes were scattered in his favorite places which included, natch Fenway Park and the Brigham's ice cream factory which just happens to be in my home town of Arlington.

Arlington is the world headquarters for Brigham's ice cream and here began the reverse the curse. This year, on Babe Ruth Day, April 27, Brigham's introduced a new ice cream flavor "Reverse the Curse" (vanilla ice cream, caramel and chocolate swirls and chocolate covered peanuts). They also brought in two psychics to re-enact the same reverse-the-curse ritual in the ice cream factory that was performed last year in Fenway Park. It worked!

Today I raise the ice cream bowl to salute my grandfather and my father as well as the Red Sox and all those fans who died hoping and waiting for this day.

Debby Green's father died of cancer in 1999 and his last words described a stirring Red Sox victory as "incredible" reports Thomas Farragher in today's Boston Globe who quotes Debby as saying, "''For this moment, there is just this amazing completeness."

    Sol Gittleman, a former provost at Tufts University, where he now teaches a course on baseball history, said the World Series triumph is a thrilling punctuation point in the history of a franchise that was sometimes marked by incompetence, racism, selfishness, and stupidity. But for now, he said, that legacy is a dull memory...
    '' A lot of ghosts have been put to rest. It's over."... Workers at Mount Auburn Cemetery said yesterday they began to see tiny Red Sox flags blossom near some headstones at the historic graveyard in Cambridge.

    ''This is a place where the living and the dead meet," said Janet Heywood, a Mount Auburn vice president. ''It seems appropriate that people would want to invoke the spirit of their ancestors and let them know what's happening with the Red Sox."

As for Brigham's, they now have to rename their ice cream and they are asking for your vote.

update: In this week's cover story in Time magazine, the following

    For Boston fans, this is more than just an overdue triumph. The graveyards of New England are filled with men and women who gifted the curse to their children like a family heirloom. Maybe there were fights over money and you argued over music and politics, but everyone shared in the exquisite agony of rooting for the Sawx. By beating the Cards, the Sox provided their fans a redemption story to beat all other redemption stories. As Washington attorney Bob Kirk, a Boston native, stood watching the celebration on the field in St. Louis, Mo., he talked about his father, who died of cancer last December. "His last words to me were, 'Have they signed [pitcher Curt] Schilling?'" Kirk remembers. "I promised him that if he pulled through, I'd take him to see this. I wanted to be here for him. I feel a little angel over me."

update: I just heard a story about a man who laminated the pages in the New York Times that told about the Red Sox victories over the Yankees, then over the Cardinals in the World Series. He took the laminated pages to his mother's grave where he planted them instead of flowers.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 8:38 PM | Permalink

October 23, 2004

A good day to fight, a good day to die! Brave hearts

Crazy Horse, Tasunka Witko, was killed at Fort Robinson where Dr. McGillycuddy was the assistant post surgeon at Fort Robinson at the time of the death of Crazy Horse later described his death and last words.

    He was but thirty-six. In him everything was made secondary to patriotism and love of his people. Modest, fearless, a mystic, a believer in destiny, and much of a recluse, he was held in veneration and admiration by the youngest warriors, who would follow him anywhere. These qualities made him a danger to the government and he become persona non grata to evolution and to the progress of the white man's civilization, Hence his early death was preordained. At about eleven p.m. that night in the gloomy old adjutant's office, as his life was fast ebbing, the bugler on the parade ground wailed out the lonesome call for Taps, "Lights out, go to sleep!" It brought back to him the old battles; he struggled to arise, and there came from his lips his old rallying cry, "A good day to fight, a good day to die! Brave hearts...." and his voice ceased, the lights went out and the last sleep came. It was a scene never to be forgotten, an Indian epic.
from Slim Buttes

Posted by Jill Fallon at 12:49 PM | Permalink

Every Citizen is a Soldier in the War against Terrorism

There is an extremely distressing video of Margaret Hassan, the kidnaped director of CARE International in Iraq. Terrified and haggard, she weeps and pleads for her life and begs Prime Minister Blair to save her life by taking British troops out of Iraq. By all accounts, Margaret Hassan is an admirable woman directing humanitarian efforts in Iraq for the past 30 years and a naturalized Iraqi citizen. My heart goes out to her and her family for the suffering they must be enduring.

I'm disturbed by her plight, but also by her reaction to her plight. It seems as if we've been bombarded by images of hostages pleading for their lives and it's become clear that hostage-taking and beheadings are a barbaric, yet astute, political tactic adopted by terrorists. So long as the victim is captured on tape pleading for help, the initial emotional reaction of most people is to identify with the victim and demand that everything be done to save the unfortunate hostage. I believe that every citizen is a soldier in the war against terrorism and I believe that we are responsible to all our fellow humans not to do anything that would make it more likely that others will suffer a similar fate. Special pleading, even for one's own life, has a small, even craven quality about it.

Mark Steyn in The Quality of Mersey, a politically incorrect column about the mawkish British reaction to the kidnapping of Kenneth Bigley, pointed out that "A war cannot be subordinate to the fate of any individual caught up in it." Steyn wrote, "Consider Fabrizio Quattrocchi, murdered in Iraq on April 14th. In the moment before his death, he yanked off his hood and cried defiantly, “I will show you how an Italian dies!” He ruined the movie for his killers," James Robbins called it Moments of Truth.

    The enemy we face today would have to rise far to earn even our contempt. Fabrizio's captors wanted not just to kill him, but to humiliate him, the true mark of the savage. However, they needed his cooperation, and Fabrizio knew it. He was beyond help, but not helpless. He was alive. He could still choose, if only to choose the manner in which he would die. Consider the bravery, the nobility, the strength of that act. In his final moments, facing eternity, willfully discarding the shred of hope that maybe it would not happen, maybe he would get out of it alive, shouting defiance in the masked faces of his captors and denying the barbarous cowards intent on murdering him the satisfaction of his complicity in their crime.

If you are faced with certain death, it's far better to go out bravely like Yanis Kanidis or Fabrizio Quattrocchi . You will die a hero not a victim.
Like the passengers on United Flight 93.

In the words of Tecumseh, the great Shawnee Indian chief
" When it comes time to die, be not like those whose hearts are filled with the fear of death, so when their time comes they weep and pray for a little more time to live their lives over again in a different way. Sing your death song, and die like a hero going home." 


Posted by Jill Fallon at 12:45 PM | Permalink

October 22, 2004

The Breath of a Buffalo

What is Life ? It is the flash of a firefly in the night. 
It is the breath of a buffalo in the winter time. 
It is the little shadow which runs across the grass 
and loses itself in the Sunset."
-Crowfoot....April 1890, on his deathbed


Posted by Jill Fallon at 9:08 AM | Permalink

October 21, 2004

Your take on old family photographs

One way to enhance and enlarge your family legacy is to add your comments, musings and reflections to old family photographs. James Lileks does this masterfully in Grandma's Camera. Pedro Meyer is a professional photographer using all his art and skill to remember his parents in I Photograph to Remember

Ronni Bennett, a wonderful blogger at Time Goes By is like the rest of us, only further ahead in creating and sharing her personal legacy archives. She had posted photographs on a photo site that became "too hinky to rely on" so she's reposting bit by bit on her blog. There's Baby Ronni in her bath on the day the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor. Today, there's Daddy and Mommy, a wedding photograph with Ronni's comment that adds an altogether different context.

Her eleven-part series A Mother's Final, Best Lesson is a wonderful, moving depiction of the last days of a beloved parent.

Creating a personal and family archives roots us more firmly in the stream of life, connecting us to the past and the future. Or as Winston Churchill said, “The further backwards you look, the further forward you can see.”

Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:10 AM | Permalink

Preserving Children's Art

When children are young, they are natural artists. Their fresh and open artistic expressions delight their parents and grandparents. Millions of refridgerators bear witness to their artistic creations. Sadly, as children grow older, their artistic drives dwindle and their creations fade and are thrown away. Some parents are determined to preserve their children's art. Some of the many ways they've found to do so are detailed in today's Wall Street Journal's Family Matters column by Hilary Stout, entitled Garden Gnomes Video Art.

There's the three-ring binder method, keeping all drawings organized by month in divider pockets and, at the end of the year, letting the child choose the ones they want to keep. Or, professionally matting and framing the very best. My favorite though is video art:

    Jon Kies of San Jose, Calif., is a father of three and a self-described antipack rat. But still, he was torn about what to save and what to part with. To figure out what was most meaningful, he put his kids (then in preschool through third grade) in front of a video camera along with paper bags filled with their work. With the camera rolling, he interviewed the kids about each creation. "Often, when they started talking about it, they remembered much more than just the artwork -- kids who they worked with, issues about making it, and insightful remembrances about when they made it," he wrote. That made the decision of what to keep much easier.

    For instance, Trevor, now 10 years old, explained that a drawing that was labeled chicken was actually chicken adobo, which is his Filipino grandfather's specialty and is one of the kids' favorite foods. A paper candle, a remnant of a classroom birthday celebration, prompted Trevor and sister Alyssa to break into a song.

    And it turns out getting the kids on video in a spontaneous performance of "Mixing up the batter on the birthday cake" -- complete with the accompanying motions -- created a priceless piece of art unto itself.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 10:45 AM | Permalink

October 14, 2004

"He was in my hands in some strange way"

I've found the paintings of artist Mark Rothko spiritual and very moving which is why he is one of my favorite modern artists. He committed suicide when he was 66 leaving behind two children and a wife who died 6 months later of a heart attack. Orphans, the children were involved for the next 12 years in legal battles involving the executors of the estate and the Marlborough Gallery in Manhattan that resulted in the removal of the executors and millions of dollars in fines against the Galley. Then came the battles with the IRS over the value of the paintings which had greatly appreciated since the artist's death. In 1988 in a file marked miscellaneous papers, a manuscript by the artist was found. Christopher Rothko, the artist's son, spent more than a year editing the manuscript which has just been published by the Yale University Press as "The Artist's Reality: Philosophies of Art."

Christopher Rothko describes, the effect working on the manuscript had on him in today's New York Times:

    Still, the son was unprepared for how intimate the process became. "I found myself having this strangely personal, sort of collegial relationship with my father that I hadn't anticipated," Mr. Rothko said. "It's like having a conversation with him." He added, "I think that underneath, I must have known that here was a way to have a relationship with my father that was unique."

    For Christopher Rothko, the work also functions as a metaphorical family album. "I think the most concrete thing about my father in my life is his absence," he said. "You know, I've got a few Polaroids that are fading and that's kind of it.

    "There are these paintings that speak so much - and yet so abstractly," Mr. Rothko said. "This is still a philosophical text, this ain't no kiss and tell, but I hear his voice, I see the manuscript page, and his handwriting, and the cross-outs and the rethinking and the sketching in. It was a fascinating process. In rediscovering the book, I rediscovered my father."

    Indeed, for the first time since he was a young child, Christopher suddenly found himself calling his father dad.

    "I'd be trying to sort through something," he said, "and he'd just have written the most convoluted sentence known to mankind, and it's like, 'Oh Dad, come on.' Believe me, it shocked me - I'd never had a second-person utterance in his direction since I was 6 years old, but here I was addressing a ghost. But it wasn't a ghost, because he was in my hands in some strange way."

Posted by Jill Fallon at 8:34 AM | Permalink

October 13, 2004

Maya Angelou's life lessons after 74 years.

Oprah interviewed Maya Angelou on her 74th birthday who revealed lessons she's learned from life.

    I've learned that no matter what happens, or how bad it seems today, life does go on, and it will be better tomorrow. I've learned that you can tell a lot about a person by the way he/she handles these three things: a rainy day, lost luggage, and tangled Christmas tree lights. I've learned that regardless of your relationship with your parents, you'll miss them when they're gone from your life. I've learned that making a "living" is not the same thing as making a "life." I've learned that life sometimes gives you a second chance. I've learned that you shouldn't go through life with a catcher's mitt on both hands; you need to be able to throw something back. I've learned that whenever I decide something with an open heart, I usually make the right decision. I've learned that even when I have pains, I don't have to be one. I've learned that every day you should reach out and touch someone. People love a warm hug, or just a friendly pat on the back. I've learned that I still have a lot to learn. I've learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 4:17 PM | Permalink

October 9, 2004

Grandma's Blog

In The Kaitlyn Mae Book " A grandmother writes of current events, her own history, life's lessons and all she wants to pass on to her beloved granddaughter"

Hurrah! From deviled eggs to political commentary. Let's get more women like her to write for their grandchildren and for the rest of us. We need more new, ideosyncratic and older voices on the net, who are creating personal legacy archives to show how it can be done.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 9:46 PM | Permalink

The Freedom to Vote

We often take great legacies from the past for granted. Take the freedom to vote. Reflect for a moment on the courage, the blood and the sacrifice of men and women in generations past who gave so much so that we all have the freedom to vote - from the Minuteman in the Revolution, through the Civil War and its aftermath to Susan B. Anthony.

These Afghan women don't take the freedom to vote for granted .women vote Afghanistan

update: from the Washington Post

    Back in Washington recently, Zalmay Khalilzad, U.S. ambassador to Afghanistan, said those women were warned that Taliban remnants would attack polling places during the Oct. 9 elections. So the women performed the ritual bathing and said the prayers of those facing death. Then, rising at 3 a.m., they trekked an hour to wait in line for the polls to open at 7 a.m. In the province of Kunar an explosion 100 meters from a long line of waiting voters did not cause anyone to leave the line.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 9:29 PM | Permalink

"Dead" man walking; morgue staff running

In Durban, Australia, mortuary attendants ran away when a man, who had been declared dead by paramedics and taken to a government mortuary, suddenly started breathing and woke up in front of them. The man who had been injured in a car accident and heavily sedated was taken to hospital. The morgue attendants were treated for shock.

One of the most phenomenal wa

Posted by Jill Fallon at 8:51 PM | Permalink

Last words of Ludwig van Beethoven

"I shall hear in heaven"

Posted by Jill Fallon at 4:45 PM | Permalink

My Inheritance Has Been Spent

In England, the beneficiary of a 95 year old woman, found that much of her inheritance had been spent by the widow's hairdresser who had been trusted with her financial affairs.

    Julie Thompson-Edwards, a trading standards officer, the executor and main beneficiary of the estate of 95 year old Olive Bird, described how she discovered that thousands of pounds of her bequest had already been spent by the hairdresser who, with power of attorney, spent some 82,000 pounds on horses and a training paddock in My inheritance has been spent.

Who you choose to hold your durable power of attorney is one of the most important decisions you can make because there is no oversight of power of attorneys

    COLUMBUS - The estates of some elderly people, including those losing their mental abilities, could be depleted by caregivers who abuse a powerful legal tool giving them control over the person's checkbook, home and other assets.

    State law requires no oversight when someone is granted power of attorney. The forms are available at libraries and on the Internet. No one keeps track of the agreements, and no one ensures the senior is competent to sign over control.

    "It can be a license to steal," Franklin County Probate Judge Lawrence A. Belskis said. "When you give somebody a power of attorney, you are giving that person the right to do anything you could do yourself."

    The lack of oversight isn't harmful if the person chosen has "a good heart and good intentions," said Diana Kubovcik, director of client services for the Central Ohio Area Agency on Aging.

    "But those same powers can be misused, with potentially horrific results," she said.

    The same thing can happen with a court-approved guardian, who has even more power, such as where the person lives or whether to approve medical treatment. There is more court oversight in such cases, but there are many guardianships to keep track of: 7,000 in Franklin County alone.

    The person might gain the financial power after being hired to provide full-time home health care, said Sally Hurme, a lawyer with AARP's national office in Washington.

    "We frequently hear stories of frail older women who hire attendants who isolate them from loved ones so their very survival depends upon them," Hurme said. "In no time, the attendant controls what the older woman eats, when she goes out and whether she gets the medical care she needs."

    Of the 161 complaints received last year by the Ohio Department of Aging, 100 were determined legitimate, said Beverley Laubert, long-term-care ombudsman. Of those, 73 were resolved or partly resolved, four couldn't be reconciled and 23 were withdrawn.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 4:39 PM | Permalink

October 6, 2004

Oriana Fallaci


    "I sat at the typewriter for the first time and fell in love with the words that emerged like drops, one by one, and remained on the white sheet of paper ... every drop became something that if spoken would have flown away, but on the sheets as words, became solidified, whether they were good or bad."

     Through her books, Fallaci says she hopes "to die a little less when I die. To leave the children I did not have... . To make people think a little more, outside the dogmas that this society has nourished us with through centuries. To give stories and ideas that help people to see better, to think better, to know a little more. Then what? Writing is my way of expression. Therefore, a need."

    Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:27 PM | Permalink

So What Is Wisdom Anyway?

I found much to like in "Learning to Love Growing Old", but nothing so much as this clinical description of wisdom:

    It is not easy to talk about wisdom without lapsing into platitudes and vagueness, so a team of European researchers -- no surprise there -- has taken on the challenge to isolate the features of wisdom in clinical detail. From their ongoing studies of the aging mind, psychologists Paul B. Baltes and Ursula M. Staudinger, both of the Max Planck Institute for Human Development in Berlin, define wisdom:
    • It's an expertise that wraps information in the human context of life and relates it to generational and historical flow.
    • It is factual and procedural knowledge about the world and human affairs.
    • It mingles insight and judgment involving complex and uncertain matters of the human condition; there is an appreciation for and understanding of the uncertainties of life.
    • It involves a fine-tuned coordination of cognition, motivation, and emotion, knowledge about the self and other people and society.
    • It carries knowledge about strategies to manage the peaks and valleys of life.
    • It integrates past, present, and future.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:34 AM | Permalink

Our Fears of Aging Become Self-Fulfilling Prophecies

It shouldn't be surprising that two recent studies show Healthy Aging Requires Healthy Attitudes or seniors with more positive emotions less likely to become frail. John Milton wrote, "The mind is its own place, and in itself, can make heaven of Hell, and a hell of Heaven." Acting happy can make you happy writes David Myers.

In fact, a positive attitude effects all age groups. It may be that positive emotions impact the chemical and nerve responses governing the body's healthy balance as some researchers suggest. And it may be that positive attitudes affect the way we see and experience the world. Just as having high expectations of children results in better school performance, treating older people as competent and productive adults actually helps them perform that way. Too many think aging is a problem instead of a natural part of life. Instead of treating the elderly as regular people with the respect due their accumulated wisdom, too many treat them condescendingly in the unforgettable words of Ronni Bennett as "wrinkled children".

Just how much the mental stereotypes we hold can affect our lives can be seen in Fear of aging. Fear of aging ,speeds the very decline we dread according to a series of studies by psychologists Ellen Langer of Harvard and University of Pennsylvania President Judith Rodin. Our collective negative stereotypes of aging, in particular the idea that aging brings about memory loss, lead to "decreased effort, less use of adaptive strategies, avoidance of challenging situations, and failure to seek medical attention for disease-related symptoms." By contrast, in China the elderly are revered for their wisdom; aging itself is seen as positive and active. When groups of elderly Chinese and elderly Americans were compared against each other and then with younger people on memory retention, the older Chinese did so well even the researchers were surprised. They concluded that the results can be explained entirely by their positive images of aging.

Stephan Rechtschaffen, founder of the Omega Institute says our denial of aging has its costs and it's not just our elders who suffer. He quotes Erik Erikson, "Lacking a culturally viable ideal of old age, our civilization does not really harbor a concept of the whole of life."

So how do we change the negative stereotypes we all hold? Maybe it's just a whole-hearted embrace of the aging process as a natural part of life. Ronni Bennett does just that in Time Goes By when she writes about a kind of enrichment that is unavailable to youth, the "depth and dimension new events acquire when they are informed by memories of past experience. Once again, as he seems always to be, Shakespeare is right: “The past is prologue” - the backstory prepares us for and increases appreciation of the present."

Fortunately, it's the boomers who are now becoming older. Once they get over the fact, they are no longer young and can't compete on that ground, they will revolutionize attitudes about aging, just as they did about sex, music, food and feminism. I'm beginning to hear voices like Annie LaMott,

    My Aunt Gertrude is 85 and leaves us behind in the dust when we hike. Look, my feet hurt some mornings, and my body is less forgiving when I exercise more than I'm used to. But I love my life more, and me more. I'm so much juicier. And, like that old saying goes, it's not that I think less of myself, but that I think of myself less often. And that feels like heaven to me.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:23 AM | Permalink

October 4, 2004

Memorializing values and stories

Kevin Salwen at Worthwhile says the most important thing we pass on to our children are our values on his way to link to a story that would make any parent proud in a blog entry titled Values 101

If so, how do parents memorialize their values. Too many people leave behind scads of datebooks and calendars, so we know the facts of their lives. Unless you have a writer in residence who observes you closely and writes what you think, people will know only the facts. Ethical Wills and Personal Legacy Statements are filling the niche of how to memorialize values and express the sense and sensibility of a person.

For more than a fleeting impression, values must be lived. For a lasting impression, values must be memorialized. In the past, families had mottos and crests and stories about the values they were most proud of. That privilege no longer is one of just aristocratic and very wealthy families. Any one with the desire and intention now can create ethical wills and family stories with the wonderful array of digital tools now available and using old home movies and photos and music.

The NYT Circuits features the growing industry of companies who do just that. For Neglected Video, the Hollywood Touch

    Carolyn Alexander got into the business three years ago, when she bought Family Memories Video (familymemoriesvideo .com) based on the growth potential she saw. The enterprise, based in Sunnyvale, Calif., seemed more solid to her than the Silicon Valley high-fliers that had begun crashing all around her.

    "I took a good look and saw that the demographics were on my side," Ms. Alexander said. "The boomers are almost 50, or older, and their parents are dying. They're getting sentimental about being the holder of the family knowledge, about the huge quantities of photos and footage they possess, and they realize they should do something with all that material."

    "Boomers are in the habit of hiring someone to do their chores," Ms. Alexander said. "They don't mow their own lawns, they don't change their own oil and they don't clean their own homes. Why would they edit their own video?

But just putting your home movies onto DVDs isn't enough. You need a back-up video storage. DVDs burn just as well as old film, as Barbara Nyegaard learned. "It was a very strange feeling, as if I suddenly didn't have a history," she recalled recently. "My whole life before the fire had dissipated."

Posted by Jill Fallon at 4:52 PM | Permalink

Garden of Angels

Who is responsible for seeing that abandoned babies are given a name and an honorable burial. Her name is Deborah Faris whose inspiration for the Garden of Angels came from the evening news in a story that changed her life.

Debi's Garden of Angels is featured in this week's Strengthen the Good as an inspiring example of how one person can make a difference, fight evil and strengthen the good.

If you want to support this micro-charity, you can make a donation. Or you can reflect on what is your great legacy, what are you leaving behind, what can you do as a single individual to strengthen the good.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 8:02 AM | Permalink