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Posts Tagged ‘UMass Dartmouth’

Tonight we took a walk down Maple Street after dinner. The sky was clear, the first stars out, and the sky was that deep purple blue made famous by Maxfield Parrish. We walked past all the homes, lit from within, past gas lamps and flowers that have been a part of our walk all these years.

Last week we were at our son’s confirmation at St. Mary’s Cathedral in Fall River. The bombing at the Boston Marathon shattered a Monday. When the final firefight and capture occurred on Friday night, our hometown and our children’s university, University of Massachusetts at Dartmouth, were both in the mayhem.

The university with all its memories of graduations and accomplishments, all the friends who have come to our home, all the wonderful stuff of life is now forever associated with Suspect #2.

Talking to people in our world we find strings to the slain policeman, my friend whose husband works at MIT knew him. The Suspect played soccer with kids who have come to our home. He played soccer with the check out guy at our supermarket. Another friend’s son knew him.

Everyone we know has a story that connects them to the tragedy. Our neighbor left the finish line twelve minutes before the first bomb went off. Another friend taught at the school where little Martin went.

For me, Boston is the place where my best new life began. I had my first baby at Brigham and Women’s, we lived in a sweet Cambridge apartment, and I lived an enchanted existence where books and learning and ideas were the stuff of everyday life.

I fell in love with New England long ago, through the books of Louisa May Alcott and the architecture of the city I loved most of all, Baguio in the Philippines. The works of Ralph Waldo Emerson, particularly the essay on Self-Reliance were favorites of my father.

So today, after sleeping until noon, I wondered what the surprise of the day would be. We did all sorts of Sunday afternoon things, we took the dog for a walk, went to buy something to repair the screen door, all ordinary things that seemed precious because of their ordinariness.

At mass tonight, the priest spoke beautifully. The Prayers of the Faithful covered our community and particularly the university. I suddenly felt that everything is suddenly local. We are now in a world where we are all connected. A bad thing that happens, happens to all of us. We cannot afford cruelty.

Then I thought about how brave the people of Boston were this week. They were the embodiment of all that is good in New England -they are sensible, practical, and generous. I felt very grateful to call this region my home, the land of my children’s ancestors, a good place to be from. Then I thought how vulnerable we are.

After communion the teenage choir with their guitars, bass and drums surprised me. They sang “Abide With Me” ┬áso beautifully. A girl’s voice, so pure and sweet carried the tune. I went on YouTube and grabbed a link to the song so you can see the lyrics.

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I just finished Jacki Lyden’s, “Daughter of the Queen of Sheba“. I’m now going to read vegan cookbooks and positive psychology, with whatever new books I can find from Filipino writers.

In “Daughter…” Ms. Lyden manages to set the reader right in the midst of her mother’s ongoing manic episodes that finally, at book’s end, culminate in her mother taking her medicine (lithium) and coming back to earth. It is an honest and loving memoir, terrible at times for the mistakes the mother makes when on a manic upswing.

For anyone, like me, who grew up around the manic episodes of a bipolar father, the book is sometimes hard to read, and sometimes all too familiar. I think, by now, I am completely immersed in the experience of a child of a bipolar person. It finally all clicks, and feel I can put it away.

When I look back on living in it, it’s sad. It’s sad because we were so wound up in the shame of it, in the unpleasantness of it, and the daily encounter with it. No one knew what was going on, and all the bipolar antics were reacted to as though a sane person had suddenly decided to act in that manic way.

The biggest lesson to learn perhaps when being in a relationship with a bipolar person, is forgiveness. They really know not what they do. It’s a chemical imbalance that impacts human emotions immensely. No, they really didn’t mean that thing they said or that they did.

Being a child of a bipolar father is a challenge, because bipolar people cannot be depended upon, nor are they good role models when in a bipolar upswing or depression. Yet, when they are well, they feel keenly all they did wrong, and they cannot understand it. You have to get under all that to forgive them. I’m glad that I got to love my father as much as I did. I hope I have taken from him all the good, of which there was a lot, and hopefully none of the bad.

The second lesson is the appreciation for mental health. Even though we may not be bipolar, or clinically diagnosed with an anxiety disorder we can contribute to our own damage. Even if we are boringly sane, we all can dabble in the dark arts of the mind without being aware of it. In my positive psych class I learned that rumination was very bad for the brain. We should strive to look on the bright side of things, to be thankful for our blessings, to appreciate the people who bring blessings to our lives, to live in the present moment, to trust in God.

Now, from 52, I can see that it was all textbook mania. Unfortunately, there wasn’t anyone who knew enough to do what was needed, because what was needed was not invented yet. Now it has been invented, and it is readily available. No one has to suffer from this anymore. Families where bipolar disorder runs, could possible empower themselves with knowledge, instead of feeling ashamed. They would be forewarned and forearmed when the symptoms begin to manifest. People with latent bipolar disorder could be prepared in advance, so that their loved ones could act with confidence and nip it before it destroys a life.

But now it is well known in the medical/psychiatric field. People can get help. I wish they all would.

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Today we were in the back yard. Bud was trimming trees and Rosie was raking leaves because she was intent on doing so. I untangled a wind chime.

I would love to have bell chimes on our front porch. When we walk to the park, there is a house whose wind chimed sound like church bells. It’s a beautiful full sound.

I am waiting for the lilies of the valley to pop through the dirt out back. Up and down the street, the lilies are starting to push through. They are as abundant as weeds here.

This year, we are going to find the secret grove of daffodils in Dartmouth, and see the stone farm walls that are crowded with daffodils and lilies.

The sun came out today and the air reminds me of Baguio. Bright and crisp and cool and it smells like moss. Oh springtime. There is nothing quite at optimistic as you. Springtime opens up a weather feeling of happiness that comes from bearing the winter and being at peace with it, then knowing that it is also over.

There were two cardinals in the hedge outside our kitchen window. Two of our cats were in the window making a clicking sound. The red birds were so beautiful.

Yesterday my daughter and son heard Rigoberta Menchu, the 1992 Nobel Laureate, speak. It was quite the full circle moment because I had to read her book while taking my undergrad degree at Harvard Extension twenty years ago. My kids’ school, University of Massachusetts at Dartmouth, it such a great place.

Tonight there will be pea soup and homemade bread. I am really enjoying vegan eating. Last night I made a pudding of sorts. My challenge was to sweeten it entirely with fruit. It was easy.

To three cups oatmeal I added applesauce, ripe bananas, raisin and blueberries. Then I added a pinch of salt and of baking powder. The consistency was that of wet granola. The top was dusted with cinnamon. Into the oven for 40 minutes or so at 350 degrees.

It made a great breakfast, and is diminishing by the hour as a counter top snack.

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