Tag Archives: family

Red Snow



I was cold, like chilled to the bone, all day today. Fair enough. It was a rainy cold day here in Paradise San Diego. Abit unusual for us Sun Worshippers. It turned out it was a VERY unusual day. I was just taking my Aussie for a brisk walk in the night, trying to shake off my desolate feelings of the day, and a teenager flew by us on a skate board with his rap music blaring, and I thought…”Good for you!” for fleeting by me with the Real YOU!  Expressing yourself! So important!  Seconds later another young lad came  rolling along, almost skipping across the pavement,  like the white rabbit in Alice in Wonderland who always muttered…”Im late! I’m late! For a very important date! “…and yet his happy little words to me were “Merry Christmas”!  As I returned to our little village courtyard I saw the  twinkling lights of Christmas adorning many doorways and I heard the faint familiar sound of children laughing and for at least the twentieth time today I started to cry.

Life  to me today, felt like it should stop.  For me. For the world …For Everyone. Twenty Eight People were massacred today at an Elementary School In Snowy Connecticut. That was the last count that I heard.  The red blood cries of innocence,made their last  terrifying plea, screaming out wildly for their Mamas and Papas. No one could help them. It was too late.  The Families of Connecticut will no longer have a White Christmas this year. It is stained forever with the blood of their children. Their hopes and their dreams. The treasures of their lives were  Snatched and  Vanished  forever by senseless murder. It’s extra evil and chilling that it is Christmas time. It is an endless  torture, I cannot fathom.

When I first awakened, I had a feeling, as I sometimes do, that I needed to get some kind of  breaking news that was taking place. I always squirm with this knowingness and sometimes try to crouch away from the huge urgency I feel, but I always end up relinquishing my power and acquiescing to the invisible.  I never know what it is, but I usually know it is going to be disturbing, so I usually sigh before I find myself with the remote in my hand. But it is like the mind of writers, and actors, and painters….I have no choice…I must see. I must know. So on came the big screen of television. The big feeling in my stomach that started to arise in me as I watched and I listened to CNN, unfortuneately only grew worse as my day wobbled  on.

It started with one casualty and last count it was 28. Mostly children were 5 and 6  years young. First graders.  Hunted down with flying bullets and the darkest evil imaginable. We have had these mass killings in schools before. I remember the first time. Colombine. Even tho it happened in a state far away, I could not think about one other thing until I had my own son safe  at home in my arms again.

This horror  happened in Connecticut: The beautiful, SAFE, affluent, full of helping  community neighborhoods and old Yankee pride and constitution, Nevermind being known for having most of the best school systems in the nation.  The “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you” kind of value systems is what we were all surrounded with in lovely, beautiful Connecticut. Family Oriented…..Full of Christmas, and all Holiday Celebrations, and old steadfast, great manners. This was and I thought, always would be,  my Connecticut. I never gave that a second thought. Nothing could take that away from me.   This was my home. This was where I grew up. My childhood memories of frolicking in the rolling hills, ice skating on all the ponds and lakes, listening to the frogs and crickets at night. Catching fire flies. This ….is life as a kid on the East Coast. Until today. Like 911 changed us all. Today will change everything.

Yes we need to look harder at gun control. Yes we need to see what really happens to brains when they have concussions, and accidents. Yes we need to get a hold on drugs and addiction  in our country. Yes we need to eat healthy food and not self medicate with alcohal and prescription drugs. But what about neglect?  What about denial? What about  covering up or delaying that uncomfortable conversation with your children…your teenagers?  What about being too busy making a living and struggling in this economy to really listen to what our children our troubled with? What happened to the value system and manners I grew up with?  What happened to catching fire flies with your kid?  It seems we cuddle and swoon over them as the adorable babies and toddlers that  they are and then the uncomfortable times come.

How do we handle the “uncomfortable?”  Do we live right next to that river in Egypt called “denial?”  What grade do we give ourselves as parents? Do our children feel completely SAFE and loved by us?  Can they really TALK and COMMUNICATE with us, or are we too busy?  Who was this 20 year old who blew himself and everyone else away?  Away to where by the way? Did we listen to his cries for help? Do we know the red flags?  Did he feel like he belonged? Did he feel heard and seen in a loving way by his Mom and Dad?

Where will these little Angel Children of the Morning, Go?  Where can I go to weep with them? I am so sad and forlorn. I am so angry. I don’t like it when tragedy happens and there is no understanding. There is no explanations. There is just unspeakable heartbrokeness. We are at war in our own country. Our children are killing children. My parents would be so heartbroken if they were still alive. What happened to us?




Today is Black Friday. This year it began last night ~ Thanksgiving evening. That does not sit well with me. I want to be the Control Freak of the Universe and tell everyone they need to stay put and feel grateful for their blessings on Thanksgiving and not rush out to get the best deal!  Ha! I guess they didn’t get my memo…..But that is really hither nor thither to my story.  Now that I will be turning sixty TWO in a few months…Rather than think of myself as getting “older” or elder or whatever other fancie schmancie word we want to call it….I’d rather think of myself as “a baby new to the sixties”, since I am at the lower scale of the sixties…60,61,62 versus almost 70, I think I’ll just go with that.  Funny, now that I think about it…the “sixties era”…was one of my favorites and one of the most history making, in my lifetime up until now.

I’ve been thinking a tremendous amount about my Mom and Dad as of late. I’ve talked with my sisters and they mention that they have been too. The Birtwell Tribe is one of the closest, classiest,craziest families I know, and I am so lucky and proud to be a part of this Tribe.. My Dad always called us his TRIBE. My Dad had so much love in him that I can see now, looking back. He had nicknames  for  Everybody and EVERYTHING! And so we all joined in with our own  lil nicknames as well.  Breakfast was “Pear bee Pear”.  Stephanie was Stettin. Barbara was Runty. Mary Jo was Pokey Jo Jo. Greg was Pesto Grego. Dean was Mr. O. I have many…Cacoo, Wowie, Caln….David, I don’t remember any for him….I know my Dad is David and his nickname was Did…then their were the sayings….”Go Child Go!” from Mom. “Rise and Shine” as she would lift open the blinds and wake us up for school. “Chintsy” if she thought someone was not generous with their time or money. My Dad called the boys that came a calling, to take us girls out on a date…”Skin Flints” if he didn’t care for them. Then there was “Baba Nan” which you would go to “The John” for….and when everything went awry which it always did..there was a defeatest slow… nod of the head, coupled with a faint smile from my Father, saying…”Nothing is Sacred Around here!”…..

In times of turmoil, my father use to say….”You can’t put an old head on young shoulders” .quoting HIS Father….the wise old Englishman. My Mother and Father were beautiful on the outside. Both of them. On the inside, they were generous, wise, and wanting the very best for their children. They raised seven children, with steadfast values, a great appreciation for the Arts and Culture,Athletics,( especially Tennis and Swimming) as well as a great respect for  the Ocean and Beach. A great love of food and keeping the kitchen clean, and “pitching in” and doing your share of chores were always a part of our everyday lives.   These jobs they volunteered us for, were usually set forth on the “Intercome” that each of us had in our bedrooms…announced with full Marine Flavor, by my Dad  at 7am on a Saturday Morning…The exact nature of our chores were revealed with  full reverie in  full detail and we were assured at the end that we would be going nowhere until each job was complete and passed inspection!  Ha Ha!   They gave each of us the  opportunities in life,that we leaned towards,  so that we could go out into the world and be a success as we grew up.I got piano lessons, ballet, and enjoyed many  Broadway Musicals. I was very lucky.  My Father whistled so loud, you could hear him down the street! He loved music. Both of my parents did and I would catch my Mama singing along to alot of songs, and my Dad played the piano “by ear” as does my son. 

Our home was always bustling with life. There were not so good things that happened as well, as is true  with any Tribe, and I had an especially hard time when those rumblings occurred, as like it or not, I am a very sensitive person. Sometimes I don’t like it, but mostly it makes me a kind, loving, compassionate human. I wish I had more of a choice about it, but I don’t

  I suprisingly left the nest and went out west to explore life and  college in the  Colorado Rockies. I’ve lived betwixed  and between and amongst,  alot of  beautiful places since, and  I’ve never moved back to be close to my brothers and sisters who are all  still on the East Coast. I now reside on the West Coast in lovely San Diego with my strapping young man of a son, close by.  We have lots of nieces and nephews and now THEY are all starting to have babies.

I wonder these days….why I left. I’ve yearned to be with my Tribe ever since my own little family shattered away into little pieces years ago.  The husband left and I had to re discover the meaning of family as some “new kind of normal”. Single Momhood. One child and one  me. So different then how I grew up, or how I wanted it to be.  I missed the chaos, loud music, and “bickering” but mostly I missed and still miss….the huge big LOVE.  It carried me thru everything. My parents and siblings gave me so many pearls, and diamonds. My siblings and I are very close and I adore all their children and their childrens children, but it is mostly from afar…and it just isn’t the same.  The Holidays always bring about these yearning sad feelings in me, but I don’t usually write about them. Alone, and lonely, are words I want to hide away from myself, but this year, I am going to embrace whatever is there. Maybe it will bring me back “home” more often. Maybe it will bring forth the miracle of how I can be an East Coast West Coast Commuter kind of girl. Maybe something different besides tears and yearnings will spring forth for me this “Christmastime in the City. “

The East Coast is freezing in the winter. I don’t like that. I love the snow tho. I love the quaintness and strength of the East Coast. But mostly I love my family so much. Each and everyone of them…the in laws…the out laws…the children the wives …the husbands, the babies, the new babies….We have a HUGE Tribe  now, and I know they all love me too. Love is always the answer for me. More love.  

I hope you, my reader…have a Tribe. Maybe you call it something else. I hope you can appreciate the pearls and diamonds of  YOUR Tribe. And I hope you can go to them when you are hurting. I hope before I leave this planet I can leave a legacy that is truely worth the  sacredness of the “Birtwell Name” for  I salute my Mother and Father for their  dedication, their perserverance, their love and strength and bravery, their whimsical humourous ways…that gave us all alot of great “generational handmedowns” for generations to come. 

Band of Angels

Sometimes…the willingness…to do whatever it will take to gain peace…not knowing how it will all come about, but making the decision anyway because it seems all goodness keeps aluding you, no matter what good action you take…that is, what gives you wings to finally fly….
I was willing to move. Into a small box with two dogs. No kitchen. Perhaps no windows. No laundry facility. Not close to the seaside.  Alone with the already aloneness desperate feelings of not being able to give anything to anyone anymore. Most especially myself. I called the people I love the most. Not to be fixed. Just to say it out loud and know I was loved. Thank goodness I still knew I was loved.  I guess AA calls it an addicts bottom.You zig out the back door and give up on yourself and life because the pain is unbearable any more, or you zig out thru the front door, naked, terrified,but chaotically determined in your shattered kind of dazed,stress filled confusion.
 My cell phone plopped itself in water 3 times in ten days. My Labrador needed emergency care. My car would not start anymore for anything. For the first time in seven months, I ALMOST had all the money to pay my rent on time until all these things happened in a two week string of black dominoes.  I always scraped together the $3.99 on sale Champagne, to remember to Celebrate life. The bubbly always made me feel that soon my happiness ship would arrive. Goodness had to be on the way for me. I would force it. I would..intend it….visualize it. I worked really hard for it. I was so melancholy blue. The young children laughing in the park, my pups, my son,my family, my Soozie friend and playing on the playground teaching the children I care for…about the wonders of nature…were the only glue that kept the living thread alive in me. It felt like a blue,cold,winter in my heart and soul. Money was always,always on my mind and not in a good way. I gave up on trying to “overcome” what life was giving me. The rash on my neck, the worry…the sleepless in Seatle nites…the exhaustion finally stopped me in my tracks.
Time to communicate truthfully to myself. I had no more warrantees left for cell phones and my contract was less then a month old. I couldn’t even try to control the fact that my rent money was gone, being spent on the traumas of my recent skirmishes. I had to move. I couldn’t wrestle this rent any longer. I told the people that needed to know. I felt an odd sense of relief, like when someone you really didn’t like much anymore, suddenly dies. I didn’t know my future, but I knew it would end up in a better place then the insanity I was wrestling.
And then the blue winged Angel came. Actually there was a band of them. My sisters. My family. My son. My brother Pesto and his wife.My Soozie friend. My sister in law who is really my sister. My Liessee, my great Auntie, my wild Helen, my Chee Wee girl. They all listened to me and laughed with me and loved me. I was given the most generous of gifts, that will help me climb back up into my life now and onto the saddle and actually be able to grab the reigns of my life back and gallop on into recovery. Recovering my Jewels. My stolen treasures. This incredible Angel is believing in me and the diamond she sees under the ground of debris. I am the luckiest leprichan ever!
I turned on what I thought was going to be the latest “News of the Day” because I am a junkie for this, and there instead was my story being acted out on “The Closer”. I was riveted. I tried to leave the screen. So much to do before work and all. But instead, the tears started streaming down my face. We have the same secret. The only difference is she is dead and I am alive. I realize now, that  my beauty  and innocence,as a young woman, “cost” me so much. And therefore…all my money challenges as of late. I don’t have to keep any more “Secrets” and I don’t have to protect any abusers anymore. I only need to protect myself and stay on a path of “safety”. I no longer have to “Pay the cost” of what I was a victim of any longer. I don’t have to have zero worthiness or self respect because of the things that were done TO me. I don’t have to pay any price any more. I am free. I can soar.  End of “SENTENCE.”