Welcome to the Misadventures of Widowhood blog!

In January of 2012 my soul mate of 42 years passed away after nearly 12 years of living with severe disabilities due to a stroke. I survived the first year after Don’s death doing what most widows do---trying to make sense of my world turned upside down. The pain and heartache of loss, my dark humor, my sweetest memories and, yes, even my pity parties are well documented in this blog.

Now that I’m a "seasoned widow" the focus of my writing has changed. I’m still a widow looking through that lens but I’m also a woman searching for contentment, friends and a voice in my restless world. Some people say I have a quirky sense of humor that shows up from time to time in this blog. Others say I make some keen observations about life and growing older. I say I just write about whatever passes through my days---the good, bad and the ugly. Comments welcome and encouraged. Let's get a dialogue going! Jean

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Politics, Parties and Tears



Tuesday when the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence released their 525 page summary of their 6,000 page still classified report on torture, I was glued to the TV. I knew it would be a hot topic on the political site where I go to debate so I wanted to hear all the details firsthand. I was also getting ready to go to a “Spirit Party" at the senior hall and just when it was time to leave John McCain came on and I didn’t want to miss his speech. I thought about skipping the senior hall, then I remembered I could listen to McCain on my satellite car radio, so I hopped in the Malibu and drove to the hall. It was probably the best speech I’ve ever heard from Senator McCain---elegantly worded and heartfelt. He said he’d read all 6,000 pages of the report and he gave his full support to the findings of the committee and the decision to publicly release the summary report. His speech ended two minutes before “Spirit” was to begin which meant when I got inside the building I had no other choice but to sit in the front row.

“Spirit” was supposed to be about Christmas but the choir director in charge of the forty-five 8th graders who came to sing for us only included two or three Christmas songs and the rest were music was from the distance past. I was so close that I could have literally reached out and patted the director’s fancy which made it really embarrassing when I lost control of my emotions on the second song the kids sang:

I'll be seeing you
In all the old familiar places
That this heart of mine embraces
All day and through

I'll be seeing you
In every lovely summer's day
In everything that's light and gay
I'll always think of you that way

I'll find you in the morning sun
And when the night is new
I'll be looking at the moon
But I'll be seeing you

I turned around in my chair, so I’d be facing my peer group instead of those fresh-faced, innocent looking kids and I couldn’t get my tears in check. I couldn’t get up and leave either, because the choir had the door blocked. The next song up didn’t help. “Don't take your love away from me. Don't you leave my heart in misery. If you go then I'll be blue....”

Unexpected tears haven’t hit me that hard in I can’t remember when---a year, two years? In my first year of widowhood I cried over that same, I’ll be Seeing You song and maybe that’s why it struck me so hard this time? Was I also crying because I’d just spent several hours listening to such a heavy topic on TV and the radio? But I think it went deeper than either one of those things and here’s why I say that: I keep my wedding ring on the base of my computer monitor and I rarely ever wear it anymore. However that morning I slipped it on my finger. It wasn’t a conscious decision but for some reason unknown to me and I must have needed to feel closer to Don. One thing is for sure, if you’re going to cry in public doing so in a room full of mostly widows is a good place to do it. One woman handed me a Kleenex, another patted me on the knee and a third woman whispered comforting words. Afterward, several other women came up to me and asked if I was okay.

As usually happens when you cry like that I was exhausted by the time I got home. I took a nap and woke up in time to see Jon Stewart’s The Daily Show. That reminded me of one of his best quotes: “If you don't stick to your values when they're being tested, they're not values: they're hobbies." And that, I thought, is a great rebuttal to anyone who thinks it was okay for our country to pay two psychiatrists eighty (80) Million dollars to design a program to teach over 100 other guys how to torture prisoners and then oversee the carrying out of so many heinous acts. As a country we are better than that, aren’t we? And don’t the 911 terrorists win if we let their barbaric act turn us into a country that no longer values or respects the rule of law? If, as a country, we don’t own up to our mistakes and vow never to let this kind of thing happen again then we have lost America's soul. The release of the Senate Select Committee's summary report goes a long way towards restoring our moral authority on the world stage. In the opinion of this teary-eyed widow... ©

17 comments:

  1. i am sorry sorry dear, i surely understand the tears too. it doesn't happen often but when it does, well, you just have to cry it out i think. that's what i do.

    hugs, bee
    xoxoxo

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    1. I know, I just wish it hadn't happened in such a public and awkward place.

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  2. Tears are good. Sometimes they come when you don't want them, but they come. And the majority of folks understand that.

    Have a fabulous day. ☺

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    1. I knew the seniors would understand but I wasn't sure about the kids and I didn't want to rattle them so early in their performance. Thanks for your words.

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  3. Jean :

    I am no expert in political discussion, but I feel disclosing of report was more politically motivated by democrats since republicans are taking over senate. I feel you can never trust this politicians, for their own hidden agenda they are putting CIA's agents working in dangerous territory under the bus. Yes agreed torture should not be done on those terrorists to get information out, but do those terrorist are following rules when they are beheading innocent people & killing thousands who absolutely had no idea when they went to work on 9/11. I feel so disappointed in democrats for what they have done.

    Asha


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    1. Your opinion is held by a lot of people, that’s for sure. It’s an intense topic that can’t help but engage our emotions. One thing to keep in mind, though, is the committee is more than just the person/party who read the report and it included Republicans as well. It was also years, not months in the making---long before they knew who would win the lasted election. Before Obama’s first election one of the things he ran on was closing that torture program down (which he did) so it shouldn’t surprise anyone that the data on the program got compiled and reported on before the full senate. Many people (myself included) were alarmed about how far away from the rule of law we had become when we opened GITMO and his promise (that her tried to keep but the Republicans blocked) was one of the things that made us vote for him. It took a lot of years for all the facts to come out about what went on in Japanese WWII prison camps and for all the atrocities against the Jews to be compiled. This report is no different. It had to be done no matter how uncomfortable or inconvenient it is. It’s the only way we can restore our moral authority in the world to call out other nations for their atrocities. To say one thing and do another only makes them hate us more.

      Thanks for weighing in, Asha. I had a big long rebuttal written but lost it in cyber space for which a lot of blog followers are probably glad about. Now you can all see why I try to stay away from politics here. I couldn't help it this time.

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  4. I was here last night, but was too pooped to compose a comment.

    I missed McCain's speech, unfortunately. I did catch clips of it. He has always been consistent about this subject, and I was glad to see him weighing in. I think we expected a lot of this, but the details are excruciating. I've spent more than a few minutes considering the two psychologists whose pockets are now weighed down with 80M of our money. How did two psychologists decide to make a business of teaching others how best to inflict pain? I know it's only one aspect in this huge story, but I always go to the details and the personal, and I can't wrap my mind around the decisions reached by these two. Anyway, there's a lot here to consider and draw conclusions from. As we digest this in the short term, our country will be dissecting the path chosen for decades.

    Songs like "I'll Be Seeing You" can really pull the deep emotions to the surface. I can see why it would affect you so strongly. It sounds like everyone understood. You're right, you couldn't have been with any group of people who could have understood better. A little piece of trivia: I'll Be Seeing You was Johnny Carson's favorite song.

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    1. Funny that you should mention the two psychologists. I can't get that out of my mind either. I would have gasped if the amount they were paid had been 10 million---one million per year for each guy, for 5 years. They had no special expertise in the field of torture or sadism before they were hired, they got their ideas from what was done in Japanese prison camps and invented a few things on thei own. (Like the dental tools up penis'.) I wonder how many psychologists they had to ask before finding these two. One of these guys was interviewed on TV and he was a cold-hearted bastard, said he didn't torture was bad or good...that it could be either one depending on how it was applied. I thought, let's stick a dental tool up his penis and see if he still feels that way or hang him from the ceiling by his arms in chains for days on end.

      You are right that our country and the world will be dissecting the path we chose for decades and I keep going back to that Jon Stewart quote about if we don't hold on to our values when we are tested (and 911 did test us) then they aren't values at all.

      Thanks, Bella, it's a hard topic to think and write about but shoving under the carpet as if it never happened doesn't service our country well.

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    2. Meant to add, I didn't know that about Johnny Carson and that song. Someone else told me it was Liberace's sign off song. I remember my mom and dad used to sing it, too, when I was growing up.

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    3. I read Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience and Redemption by Laura Hillenbrand last summer. It was about Louis Zamperini: a POW who survived several Japanese POW camps during WWII. He endured the most inhumane treatment imaginable. Survivors who were imprisoned in Japan suffered much higher incidents of suicide, divorce, alcoholism and depression than survivors of the POW camps in the European Theater. The treatment in Japanese POW camps was incredibly inhumane and demeaning to the spirit. Angelina Jolie directed the movie. I will not see it. I could barely read the book. When I finished, it took a few days to shake it off.

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    4. I saw a true story about those prison camps last summer, The Railway Man. I'm so hoping my movie and lunch club next week doesn't pick Unbroken. One movie like that was enough although it did have a wonderful lesson in it about the power of forgiveness. I can't image directing and acting in a movie like Unbroken. How could you not take that home with you at night?

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  5. Reminds me of when I hear a particular hymn or song in church and the tears would come (still do sometimes) and there you are, in front of everyone, trying discreetly to catch them with a tissue before they roll down your cheeks and drip off your chin.

    As for the release of the report--I don't know. I feel it should have been dept top secret as it is going to further demean our country to the rest of the world and I agree--I think the release was purely politically motivated. Having said that, our country should not have lowered our standards to such inhumane levels, however it was after a tragic, scary attack on our homeland and people were all in a panic. Kind of like when, after Pearl Harbor, the government deemed it necessary to put many Japanese--Japanese who were American Citizens, in nothing more than concentration camps and then steal their property because they couldn't pay taxes on it. Nasty stuff.

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    1. I agree with what motivated our leaders to enacting the torture program in the first place, and it was exactly the same kind of thing that motivated us to set up the internment camps for the Japanese during WWII. We eventually did make restitution for what we did.

      Regarding keeping the torture program top secret, it wasn't a secret to the rest of the world anyway. Several countries hosted black opt places where some of the torture was being done and human rights groups were already gathering information on the operations. Better for it to come out to the general population from us in a formal setting than from a war crimes tribune before the world court. With so many people involved in the program there was no way to keep a lid on it forever.

      It's such a complicated topic with so many variations of opinion and it's one we all must agree to disagree about.

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  6. Wow. So much to this post….first I cried just now even reading the words to I'll Be Seeing You…. such sweet sadness comes up for me when thinking of all who I have lost and miss. I can't imagine my husband being among them….hugs to you, Jean.

    The torture report: I have always been a political optimistic, even in the "darkest" times of folks in office with whom I vehemently disagreed, I could never imagine that the "good guys" and good people of our country would ever let something truly terrible happen. Then…the banking industry purposefully duped innocent people, corporations become "people" and started to have undue and overwhelming influence on our elections, and this report revealed that we lied and betrayed our own values in a heinous disregard for any sense of common humanity. For the first time, I've become truly afraid not only of "the enemy", but of some of "us" too. I am deeply saddened and appalled. Releasing the report was a just and welcome effort to be open with our citizens -- this type of transparency is vital in a democracy; these actions were taken on our behalf. I am complicit as a voting US citizen for what our elected officials do. That's why politics matters and our votes matter and being an informed electorate matters. Your points are well taken, Jean, that the timing does not seem to be politically motivated since it was years in the making and no one knew what the mid-term elections held. That said, I did hear there was some urgency to release it now, before the Republican majority took office, because they had stated they would not release it at all. That would have been a slap in the face to those of us who care about the values and reputation our nation. We deserve to know the awful truth so we can ensure through our participate in the democratic process that we don't allow this to happen again. Ignorance is not bliss. (Off the soapbox now….) Oh, and Jon Stewart is my boyfriend. Just sayin'.

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    1. Jon Stewart and Steven Colbert...I wish they were my sons!

      I heard a pundit today say that even though we do wrong in this country from time to time the fact that we owe up to it and occasionally have to re-evaluate how things got to a certain point of wrong doing is one of the things other people around the world admire so much about us...because their governments never do that. Not sure if that's true but it does have a ring of truth to my ears.

      Speaking to the banking crisis and big money being allowed in our political process, the new budget they are working on is scary! It allows even bigger donations from the wealthy and gets rid of the safe guards put into place after the last banking melt down. I don't know how some of those politicians can live with themselves for selling out like that.

      Thanks for taking your turn on the soapbox!

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  7. Jean, I admire you so much for speaking out on this issue and I am in total agreement with you -- however, I'll take things a step further and say that Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld and Rice should be prosecuted for war crimes. They certainly were not representing me or my husband or my children or grandchildren when they committed these horrible crimes against humanity.

    I, too, cry when I hear "I'll Be Seeing You," especially at this time of year when I think of everyone I have loved who has died....

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    1. Thank you for that! I don't often cover politics in this blog but once in awhile like with this topic and the Newtown shootings out east I just couldn't ignore the elephant in the room. On the world stage there are a lot of people who believe the same as you on Bush and Cheney being prosecuted for war crimes. They can't even travel to certain countries without fearing arrest. I will let history decide that one but I'd fully understand if that ever happens.

      On the song, I hope next year I remember to get to the Spirit concert early enough to sit in the back because I'm quite sure they sing each time they come to the hall and I cry every time. Glad to know I'm not the only one.

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