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Uncle Barb's

"Oh, you exquisite little tart!"

- Sarah Waters -



First, every year it surprises me that I have managed to reach a new marker. For so long, really since a teenager, I have not been able to project myself much farther into the future than a few months. Here I am at 61, wow, who woulda thought?

Every year my mother feels compelled to re-tell the events of my arrival. I think this is common ritual in families?  Here is the re-telling I received this morning on my 61st birthday:

"As I think about it being Saturday, and also your birthday Barb I can’t help but think back to that Saturday 61 years ago when I’d gone to town to do my grocery shopping and about 5:30 stopping into the Auto parts to tell Dad that I thought I was starting birthing pains and he needed to get home, so he finally left the shop and came home and I had to fix him a hamburger or whatever so he’d had some supper , we got to the hospital at 7:00 finally and you arrived about 8:00 p.m. but there were important things to do first like eat.  "

Over the years, I've examined this story, tried to figure out why it is so painful to me to hear it. Yes, it is emblematic of my relationship with my father. My siblings still tease that I was the favorite, but really what did that mean? I was the one who he withdrew from first, after my mother of course, because that is what he did ... withdraw. My sisters and cousins and his grandchildren have such a different perception of him. My brother withdrawn on the topic.

I am the one who feels my relationship with my father as a disappointment.

So much for that. Here is the journal entry from my 50th:

ON TURNING 50, 12/01/2001

There are so many things that I want to know, but in some ways I feel that I know too much. Someone once told me that she needed a break every few hours to cry. I replied, "Anyone looking directly at the world without filters has to cry." The events of 2000 and 2001 have lifted the filters, so thoughtlessly accumulated, and now I must cry.

Our whole political system was completely subverted by the sham election of George W Bush in 2000. This hijacking was a long time in the making. Old connections reformed, blended. United Fruit and CIA; Guatemala and Chile and Nicaragua and Southeast Asia, drug deals, arms sales, hostages detained, Monsanto. No land is free of infection. The power is invisible to the citizens it governs. OIL OIL OIL

The attacks on September 11, 2001 made the picture even clearer. They hate us for a reason. I had filtered out our misuse of power in the world. Easily saying "act locally, think globally", but actually I was very short sighted, focused on the homefront. I have been an activist for 34 years. My credentials that way are actually the best part of my résumé. This renewed vision of the misuse of power by our nation is as devastating as my loss of innocence at really hearing "nigger" for the first time.

Recently a young relative asked me which philosophy I ascribed to...I replied that I was an AniDiFrancoist. The young womyn thrills me. She is so attuned to what it means to be human. And now at 50 I have found myself learning from the younger ones. They, who are coming to recognition, start at a different point than I did as a child of the 50s. They probably have seen more murders on tv than I have in all my years, yet they have vision and hope. They make me hopeful.

Unfortunately the Powers that Be are deeply and widely entrenched. They are supported by zealots who claim to know god and whom have forgotten the teachings of Jesus. The Powers that Be manipulate issues that they really don't care about to gain control of their real interests, money, continuation and enrichment of a class. Their control is worldwide and their armies legion.

Those of us who recognize nurtance and enrichment as a more suitable way of life than control and oppression can be daunted by the voracious gaping maw of power...always hungry and needing to be fed...more control, more power. They will sacrifice everything: the environment, the young soldiers and terrified families, the future just to maintain their wealth and class. Here at home they advocate the end to abortion and promote the death penalty; they seek to give even more to the wealthy and blame the poor for our nations woes; they keep drugs illegal to feed the business of prisons and to keep minorities locked down and to take advantage of black market wealth. The facade of benefactor is displayed to the average citizen. Our parents really believe it was necessary to drop the atom bombs on Japan to end the war. And weren't we magnanimous in helping them to re-build? It justifies our unreasonable refusal to sign the Kyoto Treaty.

I am so resentful for being shaken from my filtered life. I've been so happy on the mountain, gardening and renting videos. The Catskills have allowed me peacefulness, a sense of being at home. Now they have closed the roads over the reservoir that I once drove daily. They have disallowed me access to the water, the use of our boat. They pump up the terrorist threat and frighten local residents into believing that we need to build a fortress instead of building bridges.

It all seems so clear to me, so how come everyone doesn't see it? Because ignorance is bliss. If the injustice is recognized, then someone must do something about it. The way it is, everything is taken care of. It can be so difficult just to survive, let alone to go against the tide and say, "Hey, let's change everything."

As a feminist-lesbian, I am exceedingly grateful for being alive now in this time on earth. I love the advantages of travel and cybertravel and of being the beneficiary of all who have gone before.

I am a lesbian with two daughters, imagine that! We have always been poor and we have had many hard realities to face, but we have also achieved a rich, vibrant relatedness. I have not been able to protect my daughters, but we have learned together how to experience the vast goodness of shared love. Now as the overworld shocks me, this love grounds me and allows me knowledge of what is truly possible.

Our friend in Guffey said, "It's not about the longevity;" and Teri and I both agree. It is about the present, the moment. I have been blessed to find a loving companion who encourages my Sagi dreaming and challenges me to live up to it. Teri makes me be independent, as I do her. The ultimate reality is that we are and must be independent. The relationSHIP can become a SHIP-adrift when the assumption of oneness puts a mask on reality. Our commitment is to know ourselves as much as possible and to be honest about who we are to the other; and to always make decisions based on our own well being...not what is best for the SHIP. The time I've spent with Teri has been luscious and soulful and mind expanding. I enjoy and am stimulated by our companionship. Now from the vantage point of 50, I know what a rare and wonderful gift our togetherness has been.

But here from the vantage point of 50, I spiral toward regret of what will be lost when we lose it. I struggle to keep this false threat from looming up in the night, but then my legs cramp during sleep and I'm reminded of age. I find older women attractive, but I don't expect younger women to find me attractive. I'm as stuffed with the stereotypes as most women. Me, the lesbian, feminist vanguard.

The contradictions are rampant. World events shock and horrify me; and my life is truly blessed. I am at home, but distracted from enjoying it by the fear of losing it. So as you see, I'm not so much different at 50 than at 35 or 25, still seeking and still swimming against the tide.

Thank the goddess for those pitstops at love.


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