I’m Only Asking For Respect


By Aretha Franklin


What you want, baby, I got it
What you need?  You know I got it
All I’m askin’ is for a little respect when you get home
Hey baby, when you get home.


A major parental rule  in our family was to honor and respect people, especially our elders.   I’ve let that tenet govern my life.  It always served me well – until now.  I’m not far away from those years myself.  Need I start to worry of receiving treatment other than what we all deserve: R E S P E C T?  Uh huh, just like the Aretha Franklin song.

I’ve recently experienced a reverse disrespect and it’s a conundrum. 

While shopping at the  market, bent over in research for just the right bargain on breads, bagels and English muffins I heard someone say, “Excuse me.”  As if someone had a remote control button on me, I spontaneously rose up to find a petite elderly woman there, smiling at me.  I thought she was going to ask me a question, or perhaps for some help. 


But no, she merely wanted the space I occupied.  And she moved in on me.  Her carriage moved in front me and she began to muddle through the breads, muffins and bagels section.  Mind you, now I cannot get in for what I need.  How did that happen? 

Alas, I’m torn.  Had I shown respect?  I am quite sure I had.  Did I receive respect?  I think not!  And this ‘lady’ actually stayed in this position for five minutes until I snapped.  Now five minutes doesn’t ‘sound’ like much time.  But think about it folks.  That is 300 seconds.  Time yourself, right now – go ahead.  Stay silent and unmoving (okay you can tap your foot – I did) for 300 seconds.  Not fun eh? 

Now imagine someone cutting you off in traffic this way.  Would you be annoyed?  Upset?  Would you be reluctant now to allow this to happen again? Did she, this diminutive, elderly lady just diss me?  Yes!!!

Never in my life, not in childhood, nor growing up, nor in my adult years have I “ever” dissed my elders.  I’d fear the wrath of mom and dad, even though they’re now gone from this world.  But something even more important took over me that day at the supermarket.  My dad, God love him, taught me I should “speak up” when a wrong has occurred.  Not in a demeaning, rude or insulting way – just speak out against the wrong that has occurred.  “It might do some good,” I can hear him saying.  And that’s what I did. 

I stared at this white-haired pixie and said, “Excuse me!”  She never so much as moved.  Did she know what she was doing?  Hmm …

Again, I said louder, “Excuse me, but I need to select my breads also.”  She looked at me, in annoyance, then went back to perusing the labels without budging.  I did the unforgiveable.  I moved her cart, grabbed my bread and bagels and retreated.  But not before saying my peace.

“Ma’am my parents brought me up to honor and respect my elders.  But you have just dishonored them, and me, by rude disrespect.  You stopped me from my tasks so you could go ahead of me.  You didn’t ask me, you just proceeded to take over.  That was wrong and you knew what you were doing.”   

Yes, without remorse, I uttered, “Hopefully I will not see you again in this store.”

Was I wrong to speak up?  Had she known all along what she was doing and decided she just couldn’t wait, or even ask to cut in front of me?  Should I have ignored the situation and had a more abundance of patience?  Hmm …

By the way, on my way to the cashier after selecting frozen vegetables, I looked down the aisles.  There she was, still in the bread aisle!


Let Go of The Pointless Drama


There comes a time in life when you have to let go of

All the pointless drama and the people who create it

And surround yourself with people who make you laugh so hard

That you forget the bad and focus solely on the good. 

After all life is too short to be anything but happy.


 Have I told you that besides having pre-retired, I’m also a newlywed?  I can testify that love “is” better the second time around.  This past week was our seven month anniversary.  

It seems to fly by really.  Probably because it’s ALL good.  If you asked me three or four years ago whether any of this would happen, I’d have said, “probably not.”  But I’m an optimist and apparently I never let my very soul empty itself completely of light.  And that little tiny light was touched by this gentle and kind soul I share my life with. 

 We knew each other, briefly, two years prior – but it wasn’t the right time.  Timing is important, because if it isn’t time, then not all the money in the world can buy you the happiness that true love with the right “one” can bring.  I’m living proof. 

I agree with old Abe that most people are about as happy as they make up their minds to be.  If we tell ourselves we can’t do something, then we certainly can’t, can we?  If we tell ourselves, there’s no man (or woman) for us – it’s highly unlikely that we’ll see that person who is right for us.  There’s a very big world out there … and it awaits us. 

I’ve seen more in the past two and one-half years than in my entire life.  Why?  Because now, my eyes are open, I’m taking it all in because I want to see what’s around me.  I’m taking the time … you know, that precious commodity we each tell ourselves we don’t have enough of to do what we want, when we want? 

It’s a simple pleasure we seem to feel we don’t deserve, but  enjoying life is respect for ourselves.  And we all desperately need that. 

She Rocked Their World


Photo by Joan Pyke

I lived 1500 miles away from my sweet sister Judy and managed infrequently to find time to visit, more often calling her by phone.   Judy passed away in October of 2008 just before her birthday.  She had lived much of her adult life in a house, a group home, with seven other Down Syndrome adults.  She worked in Newport, RI and was so very proud of that.  My parents visited her often, until their deaths.  Judy got to travel all over the country.  She’d save the money she earned and wherever her goal was for, she’d travel with staff and have a blast.  She went to the Bahamas, New York, Vermont, New Hampshire and other locations across the United States.  One thing we both shared a love of was flowers, bright and cheery flowers. 

Judy was born with Down Syndrome and yet was quite a remarkable girl.  We were very close and she’d ask me to take her to the movies, or shopping, and even hockey games to see the Boston Bruins play at the then Boston Garden, now a new construction called TD Garden in Boston.  Often we’d play street hockey near our home and she laughed so hard whenever she hit me with the puck instead of the net.  She was a rascal and loved to tease or play jokes on those she cared about.  I can still envision her tiny 4’8″ frame, with hand on her right hip and her left hand snapping her fingers all the while saying, woohoo!

Two years prior to her death, she began the early stages of Alzheimers.  It was so difficult for me during those final years of her life, especially long distance with her in Rhode Island and me in Florida.  She often didn’t know me and I couldn’t supply her with hugs over the phone; although I knew that I probably needed them more than she may have.

Then late one evening, staff at the group home called me to say it wouldn’t be long.  I cried hard and long; Martin hugging me and with tears right there with me.  I tried finally to get a little sleep but before I did, I lay awake and prayed.  I remember envisioning talking to Judy and saying, “It’s okay to let go honey.  You can let go now; you don’t have to suffer any more.  We’ll be just fine.  Good night and remember I love you!”  That was about 12:15 a.m.  A little before 2:00 the phone rang and I jumped up from bed to answer knowing who would be on the other end.  Judy had passed calmly and gently at 12:30 a.m.  Coincidence?  Maybe not …

Up in Rhode Island, sitting in the funeral home, I expected the viewing to be grievous, without any positive uplifting influence.   I was wrong.  So many visitors arrived to give their farewells, tell stories of their times with Judy and to inspire us about her life.  They told how she really lived life, not begrudging it while she faced her challenges.  In fact, everyone said distinctly how Judy always had a smile, a wink and the darnedest funny, yet adorable sayings. 

Each visitor recounted how Judy touched their lives in some remarkable ways.   Ms. Betty, the Head of Nursing  said, “The group home was really boring before Judy came to live here.  She arrived and brought excitement with her.  When she arrived, she shook things up and rocked their world!   Judy loved music and loved to dance and somehow with her easy style, she managed to charm everyone up on the floor with her.  There was always so much laughter with her around – everyone loved her!   And we all will miss her greatly.”

Dr. Benjamin, who is now a clinical psychologist, revealed his first days years ago as an intern for the group home Judy called home.   “It was getting to the end of my shift and I was getting ready to leave for the night.  I was saying good-bye to everyone.  Judy cozied on up to me and asked, ‘Can I go too?’  I laughed so hard; she was just beautiful.”

Judy ‘rocked’ their worlds alright; they loved her as much as she loved them and they will miss her perhaps as much as I will.  There may be a misconception on who actually was handicapped, Judy or the rest of the world who didn’t understand her or her disability or how to live life with zest and flare facing those challenges.  

Photo by Joan Pyke

The ancient Greeks considered butterflies as the souls of our loved ones who have passed away, returning to watch over us.  Next is a true story of what happened to me and my husband as we spread Judy’s ashes over the water at the beach of Ft. DeSoto in Florida.  We walked along the beach looking for just the right place to say good-bye and spread Judy’s ashes.  It was on the beach across from the Sunshine Skyway Bridge and there were several folks on sailboards out in the Bay.  Martin and I talked about how Judy would love that and we smiled. 

I let her ashes go, turned and walked away hand-in-hand with Martin down the beach.  At that very moment, a large beautiful butterfly flew around the both of us in a figure eight.  Our car was parked a few yards away and I’ll be darned if that butterfly didn’t fly around our car twice, no other car, just our car, and then flew away.  I think she was letting us know she was happy. 

A couple of weeks later, Martin and I returned to Ft. DeSoto and walked along the beach a long

Sand dollars in shape of "J"

time enjoying the day and taking pictures.  The warm day provided full sun, gentle breezes and absolutely clear blue skies and was picture perfect.  We started heading back along the path on the beach when suddenly Martin asked me to look down at something.  Before us on the sand were several sand dollars – not too strange – however the shape they were in was unique.  They spelled out the letter “J” clear as day – see photo.  Never before nor since have we even sand dollars that were not broken and certainly NOT in the shape of a “J” … I’d prefer to believe she’s happy and in a better place and she may just be singing and dancing with angels and rocking their world!

U.S. National Debt


Well friends, here we go yet again.  A quick analysis of our present day woes and how we arrived here:  President Hoover got us into debt and World War II actually helped get us out.  President Bush got us in again and to his credit he started trying to get us out.  Though he mostly threw money at the bankers and we know where that got us today.

In the Great Depression, President Roosevelt tried deficit spending but was too timid.  When he stopped in 1937, the economy nose-dived.  It took humongous deficits of World War II to pull us out of the Great Depression. 

After the war, we had to pay off a huge national debt.  During that time from 1946 to 1980, the economy was quite prosperous.  Although we hit a bad recession when Ronald Reagan took office.  He continued to drive up the debt through the boom years that followed.  That didn’t make any sense. 

We are now into the worst slump since 1938 and we better hope President Obama can fix it because that was not a pretty time.  Unfortunately, as in the Great Depression, the extreme conservatives would rather trash the country than have our government succeed.  They are much worse than Bush. 

Most Republicans would rather not see their country crushed by a depression just to prove a point, even if it was correct.  But extreme conservatives fought recovery in the last depression and Roosevelt did not spend enough from 1933-1941 to get us out of it.  Only World War II provided the excuse for the enormous deficits that finally jolted the economy out of depression and into overdrive. 

The main thing to remember perhaps is that with consumer spending down, business lays people off; they don’t hire people.  You can’t blame business for this.  Rough times are synonymous with reductions in force (RIFs).  It’s a vicious cycle that the economy gets into.  And you can’t blame consumers for not spending in bad times.  It’s merely self preservation.  The only way out of this presumably if we do not want to wait ten years is for the government to spend, pay unemployment insurance, or give tax breaks to the people who will spend, though not to the rich. 

There is also a grave problem with the banks.  President Obama should stop saving the bankers entirely and just take over the bad banks.  Once they’re working they can be sold back to the private sector.  What a novel concept!