Choices - for my grandchildren

Saturday, June 5, 2010


I learned, many years ago, that my current life, at any age, is the result of my choices.  When I was a child I was not allowed to choose as my parents chose for me.  I always resented this as I felt, even when small, that I knew what was best for me.


The first true lifestyle choice that I made was when I decided to marry.  Your grandfather Bud was a lovely man and we shared many wonderful years together.  Years filled with the childhood and growth of your daddies.  We had a close family who always shared and I had the pleasure of watching Michael and Gregory grow into the fine men that they are today.


During the years that followed I was faced with many decisions - some of them wise, others not so smart - but what I learned during all of these decades is that just as our bodies are the result of our diets; our lifestyles, beliefs and immediate culture are the result of our choices.


The most difficult decision I ever had to make was that of leaving your grandfather.  My reasons remain private but one of the greatest factors was that I wanted a completely different life.  My parents (your great grandparents) had recently died as well as my only sibling, your great uncle, Jim, whom I had nursed  during his fight with AIDS for several years.


As a result of all of this death, including the death of my marriage, I chose to leave my home, my state and my nation and follow the passion of my heart, which has always been sailing.  At 45, With what little money I had, I set out for the Caribbean.


Now, twenty-five years later, I realize that although suffering terribly at the time, it was the best decision I could ever have made.  The freedom, love and friendships that I have earned during these years, because of my choices, have allowed me now the enjoyment (also a choice) of returning to America to participate in your lives - to watch each of you grow and mature into the caring adults that I know you will become; so my latest decision is really my best - but the many I had to make before this point all contributed to my life today.



The Difference between Wants and Needs

Saturday, June 5, 2010


When I first left my husband, home, friends and country I could take little with me as I chose to live in the Caribbean.  I had lived in a large home filled with three generations of antiques, silver, crystal, family pictures, etc.  It was overflowing with "things" that I personally felt, not only attached to, but responsible for.


My husband had filed every type of bankrupcy available so I knew beforehand that I would lose my home and the art etc. that had been used as collateral for his loans.  As I turned in the keys to my home, the one that I had hoped to live in for the rest of my life, my rage was so great that I knew I had to get as far away as I could go and still be on US soil.  I chose the U.S. Virgin Islands.  I was afraid that if I was still in the same country as my ex I seriously might consider murdering that gambling man.


Actually, when I was still living in my home I was under the illusion that I needed all that I owned  - each item seemed to contain a purpose with my name on it.  When I left I took only what I could pack in my car, which was in my name and paid for.  I gave favorite pieces of family furniture to close friends to keep for me never dreaming that Hurricane Katrina would wipe it all out two decades later and that I would never return.


Arriving in the islands I immediately found an old Danish house with an apartment that I could rent for only $300 a month.  I also found a job at a book store which helped to resolve the issue of leaving at least 500 books behind.  It was then that I truly realized how very little I actually needed, in the way of material items, in my life.  I begin to comprehend also that what I really "needed" in life, at this point, could not be bought but could only be earned through forgiveness, non-indulgence, meditation and a simple life.  Therefore, what I "wanted" was peace, serenity and hours of meditation on the beach in order to forget the problems in my recent life.


Several years later I met a wonderful man, who like I, was a sailor.  We bought a cutter sailing vessel together.  By this time the few "needs" that I had brought with me from the states, and added to by garage sale items, became way too much to take cruising on a boat.  Again I was parted from my stuff, which by then had become needed, and pared my life down once again.


My partner and I made a vow that whenever we brought something new onto the boat something of equal value (in size) was to be given away.  In this way we totally eleminated our "wants" and concentrated only on our "needs", which on the water mostly involve items of safety and communication, not convenience.


It took me twenty years to really ascertain the difference between my needs and my wants - a lesson I learned well according to the money that I saved from not purchasing unneeded items and through knowing the difference between my wanting and what I actually needed in order to live happily.  The starry skies and blue waters of the Caribbean were enjoyed many nights instead or dining in restaurants and local watering holes.


Within ten years, by sticking to this formula, we were able to save enough for a larger vessel and cruise the Americas.  I hope to spread this message to my grandchildren and their families and help instill in them that they will never be able the enjoyment of a happy retirement unless they seriously begin now in setting up a sound savings program.  And with the way our economy is going it can't be too soon.


I like men - I really do.  I have two sons and three grandsons, all of whom I love and have great relationships with.  I also have a wonderful partner of some 20 years whom I love dearly so noone could ever accuse me of not liking men.  I have many male friends and associates but lately I have noticed that in conversations men have the desire, not to control the conversation so much (although they do), but as to being "right" in topics conversed.


It happens with me and my mate frequently and usually over stupid insignificant things that happen to invade their territory.  This morning we found ourselves in a conversation about how many more miles we had to travel to reach our destination.  It is Memorial Day weekend and we had set out with friends for a party miles away from home.  After a delightful time with friends we started home when I remarked that we should be there by 2:00.  David then countered with the fact that that was impossible because of bla, bla, bla.  Believing he was wrong I stated my point.  This continued untill I realized two things.  (1) he believed that he had to be right (2) we would continue to argue until he had the last word.


I sat with my son and his wife tonight, as they came over to welcome us home, and noticed the same thing.  His wife, who is Polynesian and speaks perfect Hawaiian, was trying to teach me how to pronounce the names of streets in Honolulu where we live.  My son continued to tell her she was wrong and a battering went back and forth, much like a tennis ball during a match.  She finally realized that nothing she could say could keep him from adding his opinion.  I finally stepped in with my hands and made a big "T" like in time out.  The conversation about this topic then stopped but not before my son put in his final word.


Why do men do this?  I have noticed this for decades and never really thought much about it until today.  Is it because they have to be in control?