Monday, February 27, 2012

Happy Birthday Baby 2-28-12

You’re the best thing that ever happened to me. You saved my life the minute you were born; maybe the minute you were conceived. I love that you got the best of two very flawed people- with just a smidgen of our flaws- so that maybe you could relate to us a little.

Since you were just a little guy you always brought the best out of the worst of us. The curmudgeonliest old people smiled when they saw you totter across a room. Weathered old sailors and grizzled mechanics, waitresses, grocery clerks and plenty of strangers always commented about what a cool or amazing kid you were.

You have been my hero always. Before the Marines, before your first steps, your old soul eyes looked into mine and I knew you were special.

I could not be more proud of the man you have become. You may feel burdened sometimes taking care of everyone like you do- but I watch in awe and feel such pride being your mom. (Though I take no credit for your incredible ability to help everyone.)

I hope this birthday is a great one for you. I hope this year brings you peace of mind, joy and pride in yourself.

You are the perfect son for me. The best gift I was ever given.

I love you with all my heart. 

Happy Birthday, Nicholas John Nakamoto


Sunday, February 19, 2012

There for the Grace of God go I.

I woke up this morning thinking about a dinner conversation we had last night. All week long, I have heard disparaging words about Whitney Houston and her death, always using the “real heroes” are our soldiers, sailors and Marines in argument of her hero status.

Why does honoring one have to take from the other?  Heroes come in all shapes and sizes. For thousands of underprivileged (or call it like it is- dirt poor) kids in New Jersey and scattered around the U.S., Whitney Houston was a hero. She was a black woman who made it big– and she became successful, famous and wealthy by almost anyone’s standards. That her life fell apart is only a bit of her story- yet it’s the part some  people want to focus on.

I never understand why it always has to be one way or another. Why does my hero have to be your hero?  I have more than a few heroes. My son of course, even before he became a Marine and went to fight a war in Iraq- he was my hero. My dad- even though he was not the best dad, my mom, even though she was not the best mom, lots of writers, several friends for various reasons, a fireman I am related to, a few policeman I know and yes, the troops- the people that put themselves in harms way for our freedoms. I’m not one to idolize movie stars or musicians, it’s just not my thing, but I can see quite clearly why people do idolize them. Many people need to see a shining star within reach. It’s not a bad thing. I don’t understand the disdain.

I look at it like this. Whitney Houston was somebody’s mother, somebody’s daughter, somebody’s friend and so on. Why should her loved ones hurt any less because she wasn’t perfect, or a Marine or a soldier or fireman?  If you believe in God- and most of you do- why is her life less precious to God than anyone else’s?  

I was not one bit surprised by the death of Whitney Houston. I watched her downward spiral for a long time. I was however; surprised by the lack of compassion by so many people- people who thought the attention was over the top. I hate to think it was a racist thing, but I don’t remember anyone being this angry over the attention Amy Winehouse got for her untimely self induced death.

It’s not for me to say or you to say- who the “real” heroes are for anyone other than ourselves. But, if you can’t look at the world from a point of view other than your own, then you have my sympathy.  

As for Whitney’s demise-  There but for the Grace of God go I.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

So this is Sixty...

On this day, my 60th birthday, I am up at 6AM. It’s only fitting I guess that in a week that sleep was a priceless commodity, I squander it now to write something about turning 60.

Sixty – feels just like 59. But it sounds better to me. Better on so many levels- like I made it to sixty- or- I am sixty dammit- don’t treat me like a child, moron, idiot (you pick the noun).

I already perused facebook, commented to some annoying person, and chatted with one of my Marine Mom’s this morning. I checked my emails, drank two cups of coffee, and so far I have to say that 60 is just like 59.

I received a couple of very nice cards from well-wishers. One card from my oldest, dearest friend – we have actually grown old together (45-46 years of friendship), how great is that? One card in particular caught my attention because it’s from a new, young friend, who said in the card that I bring joy and light to her. I don’t see myself as bringing joy and light to too many people. I bring something… sharp wit, a few laughs, intelligent conversation, hard-headedness, but not so much joy and light. That I am able to bring this to her made me feel better about myself. Maybe sixty has smoothed some rough edges. Maybe my new friend looks at me through fresh young eyes and doesn’t see the baggage, the scars, the information highway which grooves my face.

I am having breakfast with two old friends this morning- then dinner with my sisters. I plan on doing the things I enjoy today- like reading, writing, riding my bike and walking my dog.

I don’t plan on reminiscing my way though the past 59 birthdays or future tripping on what 60 will be like. I’m just going to do the same thing that got me here- and keep putting one foot in front of the other. Maybe I’ll watch my step closer.

I have just a few words of wisdom for those of you behind me in this trip. Take care of your skin, your teeth, your feet and your back. (I didn’t)  If you smoke- quit now- (I did) it may buy you a few years. Don’t get fat- it’s nearly impossible to get rid of it later. (I’m trying)  Find beauty in something. Have passion for something. Hang on to your friends. Don’t let anyone use you as a doormat. Don’t complicate things. Feed your brain and keep it nimble with books. Learn new words as often as possible. Focus on the now- not the future or the past.