August 23, 2020

We are orphaned.

My Sister, Brother and I.

Patricia, or “Pat” as everyone knew her, and never Mary, assumed her mortal coil on the 24th of June, 1943 and shook it off yesterday, August 19th, 2020.

She was born to working class stock. Her Father, Stan, was a locomotive engineer, and her Mother, Betty, a homemaker and caretaker of the elderly.

Patricia grew up in a small Council House at 48 The Oval, Kettering Northampton, the Midlands of England. 

She had an older Brother, whom she adored, an older Sister, whom she battled, and a younger Sister, whom she hardly knew.
This, because by the time my Mother was fifteen, she was pregnant with my Bother, and engaged to marry my Father.
Who’d carry her off to America, and a foreign World.

That, for a girl who’d never been more than 20 miles from her home, would prove difficult.
My Mother would remain homesick until she returned to England for good, fourteen years later.

In the meantime, she would give birth three more times. Resulting in her needing false teeth, uppers and lowers, by the time she was 25, having sacrificed so much calcium bearing children, so young.

By all accounts, she was anything but demure, as a child, and then young teen. 
Having got with child, at such a tender age, could not have been very easy for Stan and Betty.

The marriage certificate mistakenly lists her age as fourteen, and interestingly, a spinster.

Indicating, of course that my Brother was already born by the time the event took place, and who has often joked that he’d attended our Parents wedding.
And, he had

A military Man, my Father was primed for Vietnam, and  when it came, he went. More than once.
Pat was just out of her teens, and by then, saddled with three small children.

Essentially alone, but for the tender mercies of her Mother-in-Law, out of her depth. 

To Italy, the first time, then back to the States.  Imagine if you can, this tiny, 4’11” Woman, her Husband away, toddlers in hand, gathering luggage, strollers, and boarding planes and flying around the globe.

In this age, where traveling even with a single child today, could mean a prescription for the child or parents, both. 

It is hardly any wonder my Mother struggled.
Patricia Mary had passion. Passion for her Family, passion in love, of fashion, in creativity.
With that passion came a cost. Coping.

There were dark times.
My Father needing to come home on emergency leave, and Pat’s turn away. To a sanatorium, for a spell, but returning and again taking up the mantle.

Again, with three of us in tow, she returned to England and we remained until my Father finished his tour of Duty. 

There, the best of times. Among her own again, mending fractures done in the wake of her having left in the first place.
To Italy again.
For me, at least, it was there, and at that age, I could have lived forever.

My Brother and I living as Lost Boys in a style of Peter Pan.
Our front yard, the Mediterranean, our back yard, a long dead volcano.

But it was also there, sadly, that our Mother became unstuck.

Though, she protected us from her unnerving, and what she shored up with drink. 
Then came Michelle. Her fourth…and for a short time, the glue that bound us again as a Family. 

Once more, we returned to the States, and another military base, and Pat, the military Wife, and Mother.

But she’d had enough. It was time for her to go home. For good. 
With my Sisters, she went back to England.

My Father was left with a broken heart, his anger, and two boys.
It didn’t go well.

And not just for us.
My Mother returned to her England, but not as the same young girl she’d left as.
England, was not as she’d hoped.
My older Sister missed her Father, and didn’t settle as well as she might have. After just a few years, our Mother let her come back to the States.
My Mom, and little Sister carried on.

From long distance phone calls, with poor connections, we stayed in touch.
That period, and her trials are mostly unknown to me.
There were a few bad men. And the drink.

It went no better for us, in the States.
My older Sister discovered boys, and escape. My Brother, solitude, and me, trouble.
I didn’t see her again until I was grown. 

For me, she was as she’s always been. My Mother.
A fiery, witty, easy to laughter, but quicker to scorn, beautiful tiny Woman.
But, sadder, somehow. 

In the years following, we managed visits a number of times.
Her coming to the U.S, my visiting her in England.

As I recall, always emotional rollercoasters.
As one would think, but also burdened with unanswered questions. For us both.


But, not doubt. Never doubting that she loved me, her troubled Son.
And I, her, my troubled Mother.

 She married again. A wonderful, devoted Man.
The years inched on and contact easier. Facebook, mobile phones, video calls. Regularly.

As we both grew older, she found her peace.
With her Husband, Family, her Grandchildren.
As did I, of a kind.
Yet, it was both in peace and upheaval, my thoughts always ran to her.

I sat in a car on the side of the road, needing to return to Iraq, but dreading, fearing it…and was she who I called. My Mom.
I don’t want to go back, Mom
You’ll need to finish what you started, Son”, her reply
Harsh words, not words of comfort, or reassurance, but the words I needed. Her words that got me back on the plane, to finish what I’d started.
As she would have.
And finally has. 


Passion, to all things.

If for her Husband, her Children, her Grandchildren.
Her Family, her life…throughout, was passion threaded.

And so, no half measures. Hers, a passion to see it done,  and most often, have done for others.

Her love, equally fierce, but freely given, remains.
As will always, the intense, blinding spark of her life, lived. 

That we might recall that passion, be inspired for it, living as she would.
Loving, as she had.
In every detail, In every breath. 

Twelve Steps. In Place.

August 2, 2020

Hi.. uh.. I’m Roland and…I’m an addict.
“Hi Roland!! Keep coming back!”

Just about 30 days now, since I deleted my Social Media accounts, Facebook and Twitter.
The air is cleaner, the skies bluer, the horizon crisper.

If I’m honest, it really hasn’t been that difficult, and I recommend the exercise of purging for everyone.
The greatest challenge for me, was the routine. The morning ritual of coffee, cigarette, iPad email-Slack-Facebook-Twitter. In that order.

Facebook, the easier to do without.
While I do miss updates from Family and a select group of Friends, those instances were getting farther and farther apart and one needed to sift through countless ads and repeating posts that are specifically geared to the user through algorithms, and generally miss the mark.

Twitter, the more egregious of why I purged, but whose absence was felt more pointedly.
I rarely tweeted but did rely on it for critical news updates and succinct analysis. 5D4_4202With 30 days clean, you can perhaps imagine my looking on in smug sanctimony (as addicts are prone) while rending garments, pearl clutching, and ululating take firm hold in my own home, with the threat of the end of The Tik Tok.
Poor Michele.
China will have one less unwitting agent at it’s disposal.

In the twilight of my addiction, I never adopted Instagram, so I certainly never embraced  the Video Instagram, Tik Tok.
That said, Social Media, and Tik Tok in particular, was not without its advantages.
Michele gleaned binders of helpful snippets from its pages. (Who knew about Watermelon with cinnamon, or air fried peaches!?!)

Now that I’m free of the grip of Social Media, it feels easier to look on it objectively, to gauge those advantages, or disadvantages.
Now I simply pen these ramblings to the aether, instead of posting in the Facebook, relinquishing the bind of gauging my self worth in Likes, comments, and views.

I do miss the earlier days of Facebook, where I would battle with Friends and strangers over politics or current events, but that bygone era was noticeably exchanged for one where posts resembled billboards.
Virtue signaling is not open to debate, in the end.

It remains to be seen if the exercise is as indulgent as it once was. If this medium will satisfy, as methadone does heroin.