The man in the moon and me

As we should all know by now, Neil Armstrong, the first man to step on the moon, died in August. He was 82. And from all accounts that I have read he was a good man who lived his life quite modestly after doing something that changed, maybe connected the entire world, if only for a little while.

For this Blog entry I literrally scoured the internet and read about a dozen obits on this man.

I did this because when he died, there was one graph in one of the many, many tributes to him that hit me on such an emotional level.

A feeling that I still have not been able to shake. And I believe it is worth reprinting and discussing and sharing with the “blogasphere” why it touched me so.

I finally found it at the end of a piece written on Aug. 26 in USA Today.

Here it is:

For those who may ask what they can do to honor Neil, we have a simple request,” his family said in a Saturday statement. “Honor his example of service, accomplishment and modesty, and the next time you walk outside on a clear night and see the moon smiling down at you, think of Neil Armstrong and give him a wink.”

Oh man, it happened again! I got that lump in my throat re-reading this.
Why?

Because the idea, the visual this presents to me is so simple, yet so so so grandiose.

One thing is, I have always seen the face of the man in the moon. And so many times, since I was a child, I remember asking others if they see a face in the moon. And, not everyone does. I could never wrap my head around that.

The other thing is this.

There is one moon, billions maybe zillions of people in this world, again just one moon. OK, we see it at different times of the night. There is one Big Dipper, one Little Dipper, one of each unique, brilliant star in each of its little own endlessly dark piece of the sky. (Please stay with me here)

I have dear friends and family in many parts of this country. Sometimes I wonder as I look up at the sky at night and take in the beauty and the wonderment of the Big Dipper, the Little Dipper, the moon, that one little super shiny star, that I think is a planet, that sets just to the bottom right of the moon… I wonder sometimes, are any of my dear, long-lost friends or family in other parts of this country looking at that part of the sky at that very same moment. And we just recently had that beautiful, magical Harvest Moon display, and I wondered the same thing. Is anyone out there looking at it and taking in all of its magic at the same time I am.

And if they were would we not be connected in that very moment?

When I was 11 years old, I met my biological father for the first time. Before meeting him I never even knew his name, never even knew he existed. Further, I never even knew that I was not who I had long believed I was. It was– and still is– quite complicated and hard to work through.

The reason I bring this up, is this – I remember in the months and couple of years afterward– after meeting this man, this stranger, this man who added so much confusion, pain to an already tumultuous existence–looking up at the sky sometimes and wondering if he was looking at the same part of the evening sky and thinking of me. I particularly recall one New Year’s Eve, shortly after meeting him, when the town was doing fireworks and fire crackers right at Midnight, and I went outside…There were people and noise makers everywhere, noises from all parts of town, I felt so alone. And I wondered where he was and if he was looking up at the night sky too.

I wondered in my young mind, if before he met me did he ever look up at that vast sky and wonder where I was. Did he wonder, was his child also looking up at the sky, the moon, the man in the moon? Did she see the man in the moon even?

Did he see the man in the moon?

Did we share that?

Did he care?

I’ll never know any of these answers. And the thought of this, me as a confused and sad child not knowing who she really is or whether or not it even matters to anyone, who she really is, makes me so sad.

So now as an adult, now that I have control over my life, and a loose handle on my emotions, I take these same moments when looking up at the evening sky and think of old friends, relatives who make me happy and confident and secure, people who made me laugh, smile, dance. People who love me and make me feel love. And those who may be far away, but still close in my heart and I think- what are they looking at right now? Are they seeing what I am seeing? Do they see the face of the man in the full, bright moon? Are they giving old Neil a wink?

I know, I am.

What do you think of when you look up at the evening sky? Do you see the man in the moon?

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See you next week. ūüôā

The furry pieces of our heart

Last week went straight to the dogs!

No, seriously.

I worked on a number of stories last week and three of them had to do with dogs.

I worked on these stories while two of my own pups, Lucy and Minnie, rested at my feet. Awesome working conditions, huh?!

One story had to do with one man’s search for the link between dogs, humans and cancers. 2 Million Dogs raises awareness of the possible environmental links between dogs, humans and cancers. This mission was started by Luke Robinson after suffering the loss of his beautiful Pyrenees, named Malcolm to cancer. ¬†He later put to rest another furry buddy named Murphy. He said he wants to know why his best friends-and zillions of other dogs, cats and humans die from cancer. (This full story will appear in Health and Family section of the Chicago Tribune Wednesday Oct. 10)

The other story had to do with how pet owners can learn a dog’s parentage through DNA testing. By learning exactly what breeds your dog is made of will help in knowing what illnesses, common injuries and other important information to watch out for. (The test cost about $150 and is available at most vet clinics, full story will be out next month in the Chicago Tribune)

The third story was ¬†about ¬†Shakira, a beautiful Siberian Husky with piercing blue eyes who disappeared from her family in Georgia five years ago. It’s unclear where she was for that five years, but she eventually was sent from a shelter in Georgia up to Harvard Illinois to a Siberian Husky rescue. ¬†While at that shelter, she was scanned and an identification chip was found under her skin. The family back in Georgia was finally notified. The last time they had seen this beautiful dog was when she was just 1. They never knew what happened to her, but they ¬†likely never stopped thinking about her or loving her.

So after receiving a call from the shelter that their dog was alive and well, Shakira’s human mamma drove 14 hours, straight through the night, to get her back. The reunion was swift and they turned around and headed right back home to where three children were waiting to reunite with their dog.

Wow!

Where was she all that time? Why was she not scanned by the shelter in Georgia five years ago? Or, if she was not at the shelter all that time, where was she? And how did a shelter in Harvard Illinois, more than 700 miles away from Georgia, get involved anyway?

Many questions went unanswered because the dog and her owner left so quickly after their reunion and Shakira’s owner never returned my calls for the story.

But on the important side, the family is reunited. In the photos provided by the McHenry County shelter,  the dog looked beautiful, healthy and her human mamma, she looked so happy, relieved, and well, tired.(story and photos on-line at ChicagoTribune.com)

Again, what was learned, what was observed here in this last week?

Well, first off, I can say that I for sure, without  a doubt, have the very best working conditions, the most attentive and loyal assistants.

When a human loved one or a pet gets cancer we want to know why. We need to feel that we are ¬†doing what ever we can to learn how to save them. We fund studies, create organizations, participate in walks, to find the answers as to “why” and learn “how” can we fix them.

When we really love another person– or a pet– so much, we want to learn everything there is to know about them. We want to know how best to care for them and keep them with us for as long as possible.

There is no love like the love a parent has for her child —or for her pets. As if a child were lost to us, emotionally or physically, when a dog is lost, no matter how long he or she is away, or how far they travel, they never stop being part of our family.

And  when we love a pet so much -as we love our two-legged children- and suffer their loss only to learn they are still in this world with us, there is no distance too far to travel to retrieve that little furry piece of our heart.

Let’s see what this week’s news brings. See you next Monday!

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Homecoming and the *Grind*

This weekend was my daughter’s high school homecoming. ¬†My daughter Emily is 16 and a junior. She ¬†attended with a group of friends and they all looked great and had a great time.

But it was a great night that almost never happened.

Last week, I kept asking Emily why she didn’t want to go to the dance. I felt sad for her because she has only one more year of school and I didn’t want her to miss out on a fun high school evening. But I was sad when she finally told me why she didn’t want to go. She said it was because it is uncomfortable and “gross” because all the kids “grind” on each other when dancing…Definition: the boys and their female dates “grind” i.e. he is behind her and their bodies fit into each other and … you can imagine the rest.

I don’t live in a bubble and anyone who knows me knows I am not a prude, but I really liked hearing her say that sort of dancing was offensive. It showed me that she has a strong sense of self and self-respect. She knows how she ought to be treated by a boy. She knows how she wants to present herself to others. ¬†It told me that she has a great self image. ¬†I told her I was happy to hear that she felt that way. I said it’s sad, but truth is that those girls who present themselves like that with a boy, may very well be good girls, but others who see her behaving like that will make judgments and make her the next hot topic of the high school rumor mill. And the boy, well he’ll get off scott-free, such is the land of high school.

But, eventually I convinced her to go to the dance and she went with a group of friends and she looked so pretty, elegant and lady-like. She had a great time and the next day said, although there were couples “grinding” she was happy she went.

But wait, there is more.

The morning of the dance, in the Chicago Tribune my super cool reporter friend Lisa Black wrote a story about local high schools banning dirty dancing or “grinding”. I could not believe the story I was reading was about the very issue I had just been dealing with!

It talked about how schools are considering passing policies to police dance floors at school dances. One school sent letters home to families saying how they would be monitoring the dance floor and if students were caught “grinding” they would get one warning then the next instance be asked to leave the dance.

So Lisa went on to write about this 16-year-old boy at one high school who was just so offended by such a school policy that he was trying to find a place to hold a separate homecoming dance where kids could dance how ever they wanted to.

His mother was so proud of him saying it was so wonderful that he was standing up for a cause.

OK after I spit out my coffee all over myself, I began shaking.  Are you kidding me? Are there no other causes to take up? Bullying? Domestic violence in high school dating relationships? Raising money for new books, sports equipment, childhood cancers?

Let me be clear, I do not think the school should make such policies. It is so reminiscent of Dirty Dancing and Footloose, no I do not agree that is the direction to take this issue.

What needs to happen is parents need to talk to their children about self-respect and dignity. We need to talk about in what light we want to present ourselves. We need to have on-going conversations with our daughters about how to present themselves with dignity and morals. We need to also teach our boys how to respect and treat girls. It all starts in the home. We do not need another policy set down upon us from any sort of institution.

I so wondered how this boy’s mom would respond if she had a 16-year-old daughter and some 16-year-old hormonal boy was fighting to have a dance where he could “grind” without penalty.