Sunday, June 20, 2010

Fathers' Day Memories

At 4:00 AM I woke from sleep to thunder rumbling and lightning flickering -- it was not a frightening storm, but as it lingered I was unable to get back to sleep. As a child I was terrified of thunderstorms, always fearing that this would be the storm when lightning would strike us -- pretty morbid thoughts for a child -- but I am a worrier by nature, descending from a long line of worriers.

Somehow, I always felt a measure of safety and security when my father was home. In my eyes he was all-knowing and strong, and could protect us from all harm as long as he was there. As I lay awake listening to the storm this morning -- Fathers' Day morning -- I pondered my relationship with my father.

I don't believe he really enjoyed fatherhood --I think he loved my mother deeply, and would have been content to have remained childless. I was never "Daddy's Girl", and always had an awareness that I irritated him on some level. I was talkative, affectionate, and needy -- he much preferred my sister who was reserved and quiet, as he was. Fortunately, my mother filled the empty spaces of my soul with her love and affection, but I remain to this day somewhat of a "pleaser", always striving to be "liked". I believe this is because I tried so hard to earn my father's affections.

He was a good man -- honest, hardworking, loyal -- the quintessential father of the fifties, whose children complain endlessly about their lack of fatherly attention and affection. He chose a simple life -- working as a mechanic, though his intellect would have allowed him to achieve much greater status. He taught me to be true to my own inner voice and to take pride in what I accomplished, even if those accomplishments were not highly regarded in the world.

He disciplined fairly and firmly, and could correct our behavior by his tone of voice with much more success than men who ruled by harsher forms of discipline. He passed on his love of nature and his contentment with the daily routines of life. He greeted each day with a smile, and, though realistic, was an optimist at heart.

He worked twelve hour days and six hours on Saturdays, and looked forward with relief to retirement at sixty-two. However, his retirement was not to be the peaceful respite he longed for. He developed emphysema and died a slow, debilitating death four years later. Watching my strong, capable father weaken and become dependent on others for his day to day care was heartwrenching for me.

As I pass through this day, I will think of him in a better place -- now joined by my mother and my sister -- and thank him for the strength of character he passed on to me.

Happy Fathers' Day, Daddy!!

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Of Pelicans and Greed

It is the sight of the pelicans drenched with oil, trying desperately to free themselves from this unknown predator, which is my undoing -- my heart breaks as I watch them struggle valiantly and finally lie exhausted in the muck.

This is the tip of the iceberg, as such, in the tragedy of this massive oil leak. We mourn the men who were killed and injured in the original explosion, the almost certain destruction of the ecosystem of the rich marshes which nestle along the beautiful Gulf Coast, and the disastrous economic toll on this area which relies so heavily on the fishing and tourist industries.

The greatest tragedy of all is that this is a man-made disaster -- one born of tremendous greed and the overwhelming haste so prevalent in our corporate world today. As our industries strive constantly to make more money more quickly, sacrifices are made, and most often these sacrifices trample on safety and environmental regulations. Time and again, after an accident, it is discovered that the company involved had a poor safety record, or even blatantly ignored government regulations or warnings from employees. The recent mine explosion in West Virginia is a perfect example -- so many miners killed and families grieving, because the higher powers decided to let serious safety issues slide.

And yet, we let these large corporations go blithely on, amassing their billions of dollars in wealth, while trampling the safety of our two most valuable resources -- human beings and the natural environment which sustains us all.

As a society, we must be cognizant of the fact that not only are regulations needed to protect our workers and our environment, but there must be strong oversight as well. We must not, in our race for "homegrown" energy sources, let greed usurp sound judgment and painstaking research. Before we mindlessly drill for natural gas in New York State, we need to seriously listen to the possible effects of this drilling on the water supplies for New York City and other areas. Before we hurriedly construct more offshore drilling sites, we must make sure that safety is the priority. We can't afford to contaminate more of our oceans with oil. Instead of disparagingly viewing environmentalists as "tree-huggers," we need to listen to their concerns as we grant corporations the right to tamper with our beautiful environment.

We must be aware that the majority of large corporations today have only one goal in mind-- to make money and lots of it!! Capitalism and the free market brought wealth and power to our great nation; unbridled greed and lack of regard for our people and resources may well be our downfall.