Let’s get crazy!

25 01 2010
This is a re-post from my brother-in-law’s facebook page.  For years he’s been involved in finding ways to facilitate international adoptions.  Thought I’d share their latest hopes and dreams…
HAITI ORPHAN PLANE
Sometimes the time is right for a great dream. At others, it is an audacious vision that is simply ahead of its time. Several years ago some friends gathered together to talk about how to make a significant impact in the orphan crisis. Was there a way to break through the bureaucratic log-jam and financial barriers that restrict the number of orphans worldwide from finding loving homes? While recognizing the value and important protections provided by agencies, we wondered aloud whether there wasn’t a larger door that could be opened for the over 100 million children without parents.

We talked about a 50-year old, Oregon farmer named Harry Holt who would just not give up until the U.S. Congress had passed special legislation allowing him and his wife to adopt 12 mixed-race, Korean orphans. He flew them in on a plane the media dubbed the “Stork plane.” That was 1955. The crisis was the plight of children fathered by American GIs during the Korean War and rejected by the culturally protective Koreans. The “Stork plane” was followed in 1958 with an aircraft carrying 107 orphans. This was only the first such attempt at breaching the orphan adoption bottle neck. Eighteen years later there was “Operation Babylift.” In 1975, in the terrifying days preceding the fall of Saigon. President Ford set aside $ 2,000,000 to help pay for 30 orphan planes from Vietnam. In a few months 2,000 children had been rescued.

Operation “Pedro Pan” from 1960 through 1962, though not focused specifically on orphans, was the largest mass exodus of children for humanitarian reason in our North America. In 22 months, thanks to the commitment of a 30-year-old priest, Bryan O. Walsh of the Catholic Diocese of Miami, 14,000 minors were evacuated from Cuba.

And, then of course, most recently is the orphan plane into Pittsburgh. Yesterday, spearheaded by these same friends, a task force (most of whom are adoptive parents) gathered to discuss making that slumbering dream come true. The crisis is here – a devastating quake in Haiti taking the lives of perhaps several hundred thousand. The need is incontrovertible – the neediest country in our hemisphere already overwhelmed with its 380,000 orphans, now, in a week’s time, suddenly responsible for tens of thousands more. The precedent has been set. The only question is, do we have the will? We have been assured that we have a strong advocate in Congress. The word we were given was “don’t worry about Washington D.C. prepare the catcher’s mitt in Michigan.”

And so we shall.

We are committed to rescuing no less than 10,000 orphans, in a State that has suffered the worst from our economic recession. And perhaps the weakest will lead the way. Perhaps we will help start a flotilla of planes filled with Haitian orphans who have lost everything, including arms and legs, but who will gain the protective nurture of loving families, with room in their hearts and homes for at least one more.

The time for dreams to become reality is here.

The time to fulfill the hopes of the most desperate and vulnerable is now.

Stay tuned.  (Timothy John Stoner)

Advertisements




counting candles

16 01 2010

Oh this wasn’t just any birthday celebration…no, this one was special.  There was something quite different about this one as compared to the one a year ago. My  83 year old mother got her driver’s license renewed.

Months ago the State of Indiana was kind enough to send out two separate letters reminding us of the need to renew her license.  They sent TWO (count them – TWO) letters outlining the multiple documents we needed to present so that she could get the new SecureID  – “to ensure that you can use your driver’s license to board commercial airplanes and enter certain federal buildings.” Now there’s something new for 2010.

We had to have an original certified copy of her birth certificate.  Fortunately for me, she’d gotten a copy of that back in 1984 when she got the other “SecureID” called a passport when she and Billy crossed the pond to come visit us in Spain.  In this last couple of years of practicing my new hobby of document gathering, it had been filed in a folder with a tab that said “Birth Certificates.”  Imagine my surprise when I found the REAL deal right there for me to use!

We also needed to have a social security card (NO idea where her original is of that), a W-2, tax form, an SSA-1099 form, or a pay stub showing name and Social Security number.  And to prove “residency” we needed two statements issued within 60 days from a utility company, bank, credit card company, doctor or hospital, federal or state agency showing her name and residence.

So the afternoon before her birthday with a wad of documents in hand, we made the trek to the BMV.  It was late in the day so there wasn’t much of a line – save a handful of teens with parents in tow – so we didn’t wait long before our number was called.  The clerk began asking for the docs in a certain order…the birth certificate – check…

Next she wanted the marriage license…”Excuse me, what?”  “The marriage license to prove the name change from her birth certificate to the present…” “OH DEAR GOD.  ARE YOU SERIOUS?”  The ONE STUPID DOCUMENT I HAD FAILED TO INCLUDE!!!  I should have known better by now…after all, my book, The Boomer’s Guide to Dying is about to break into the New York Times Bestseller List.  I could have bloodied my toes kicking myself for being so stupid as to not put the entire fireproof filing system in the car before we left the house.  Never, never, never again…

I get it.  It was my fault.  I needed to connect the dots for the state.  After all, she’s only had a driver’s license in this state since Heck was a pup (click here to figure out where this saying came from) and now we need to start verifying she is who she’s been pretending to be since she moved here at the age of 16 or so?  We can’t connect the government dots that this person has held a valid passport in the past – our most vetted document?  Wait – what is this for?  This makes it secure for us to get on airplanes and to get into government buildings?  Hummmm….will that really make a difference?

Anyway – then and there, I opted for the straight up license renewal.  We will give the state another $11 at a later date and be able to sleep more soundly knowing that SHE has a SecureID in her possession.

Adding to the excitement of that outing, we tacked on two doctors appointments the next day and put a bow on yet another year by getting a store bought cake topped off with twenty little polka dot candles to mark her milestone.

As she was on her way to bed after the cake and ice cream dessert we had, she poked her head into the TV room and thanked me for making it easy.  She would have been overwhelmed with 83 candles she said.  Twenty was just enough to remember it was her birthday.

I go back and forth with this stuff – personally I wouldn’t be offended at all if my kids never lit the candles on a cake and stuck it in front of my face.  But for her, at least it is a way to mark a special day in the year – a date she doesn’t have to think much about…she doesn’t hesitate a lick when you ask her when she was born – month, date, and year.  And maybe a day made a little less lonely – after all, since the day after she turned 21, she had Billy by her side up until two years ago. She reflected a bit on that too…and was glad to have had those long years with him walking beside her.

What’s it like  when suddenly you don’t really have a wedding anniversary any more?

Anyway, back to where we started…we have three more years till this new driver’s license expires.  I wonder how many more documents it will take to renew the document.  I wonder if the State of Indiana will ask itself if it is wise or safe for her to be driving.  I wonder if we’ll still be able to use those SecureID’s for anything at all.  But if she’s around – there’s no doubt that we’ll be having more chocolate cake and ice cream.  Maybe I’ll do 40 candles for dramatic effect.





white noise

11 01 2010

The Dr. sleeps with the radio on – our local NPR affiliate runs the BBC – all night long. White noise for him, by day (via a steady stream of CNN, HLN and the like) and by night, are voices commenting on world affairs.  After all, it is his bread and butter to know what is happening around the globe.  Sometimes in the darkness, I can tell what time it is without looking at the clock by counting the times I’ve heard the stories on repeat – they are on a cycle that runs three times. Those aren’t my favorite nights.  I don’t blame him for my insomnia because as many times as not, the talking heads don’t bother me at all and despite all the yakking, I sleep fairly well.

A few years ago some friends in LA introduced us to genius little white noise machines that they had in each bedroom.  Just cranking those puppies up regardless of whatever else was happening in the house (usually late night recording sessions involving a dozen or so people in and out- so LA for us artsy fartsy types) the cacophony was so masked that sleep was just an instant away.  I was officially addicted.  Once back home I got one of these by Brookstone called Tranquil Moments ® Sound Machine for Sleep that sits on my bedside table.  There are nights when both the radio and the white noise machine are going.  If I’ve been working with words during the day then I need to quiet the voices at night. No more words – no talking…just noise.

If it is too quiet I am distracted by the constant hum of the tinnitus I think I’ve inherited from Billy.  Oh, it could be meds, it could be impending deafness inherited from the Mrs. or it could be insanity…but I can hear it right now throbbing it’s way through the veins and vessels in my head like little subway trains using my ears as tunnels.  The word in Spanish is a perfect onomatopoeia for what it sounds like to me – zumbar: to hum, buzz or whirr.  (When pronounced in Castilian that “z” becomes a “th” sound.)

The subject of white noise came up when Shop Girl’s friends from Spain were visiting.  She has a nice machine in her bedroom and suggested the use of said device for the jet-lagged duo so as to drown out Donny Diva’s squawking for a midnight snack.  They just guffawed at the preposterous notion that you could actually sleep better by piping noise into your ears.  It is all around us whether we notice it or not…on planes, in the malls, in office spaces…almost everywhere.  I love the fact that to muffle certain noises all you have to do is add ALL noise to it.  That IS white noise.

There is another kind of white noise affecting my life these days – snow – drowning out voices in my head telling me what I should be doing.  It’s either been here by the foot or along the lakeshore by the multiple feet or dumping right along the southern edge of the lake, making stretches of the highways impassible or not advisable at best.  It almost seems like I’ve been on vacation with this extended time at home since Christmas.  The Mrs. has survived just fine thanks to the kindness of a good friend from church who stepped in during my absence – doing a grocery run and sorting through a week’s worth of pills.  These people have saved my skin on more than one occasion and I am very grateful.

There have been moments where adding just one more voice of worry to the chorus ringing in my head (“Is she eating enough?,” “Has she remembered to take her pills?,” “Will she try to drive somewhere in this weather?”) has begun to work like a white noise machine.  By adding more things that I can’t do anything about – it’s actually calmed me down and relaxed me in a weird sort of way.  It’s helped me to focus.  I have more energy.  It’s like getting eight hours of uninterrupted sleep!

Maybe it is because I’ve turned my nervous energy toward my own basement for once and have donated about a dozen boxes of stuff and thrown away an extra eight bags of garbage in the last two weeks.  I can hardly wait till next week when I get started on a new facet of my winter project. I found a place that will take the twenty-plus boxes of books collecting dust and donates them to schools and libraries around the world.  To think that someone can actually USE all those tomes we bought instead of spending money on groceries during the Dr.’s years of graduate and post-grad work –  really makes me happy.

With each box and bag I carry out of this house – it is like white noise music to my ears.  By Spring, maybe Donny Diva and I will both be sleeping through the night.





now what?

4 01 2010

Mary Alice’s naked Christmas tree is laying curbside waiting to be recycled.  I finally put lights on mine two days ago.  The Twelve Days of Christmas aren’t over yet.

But here we are into the New Year and I can’t help thinking about all the things I know now that I didn’t know at this time last year.

I didn’t know Best Boy was moving.  I didn’t know there was a Mimi that loved him.

I didn’t know if Book Boy could survive nine months of Shop Girl’s roller coaster hormones.  Nor did I know they would make their whack-a-doo landlord so angry that they’d have to buy a house.  I didn’t know that an hour after his birth, Donny Diva’s wide eyes would look straight into mine and bury themselves in my heart for a long long time.  I didn’t know that a smile from him would make whatever is happening around me seem so insignificant.

I didn’t know that the Dr. would travel in and out and in and out and in and out again from some of the scariest places on the globe and come home safe every time.

I didn’t know that we’d spend enough money at the dentist this year that we could have paid for a kitchen and bath make over.

I didn’t know that the Mrs. would survive as well as she has on her own.  I didn’t know I’d have the strength to clean out Billy’s basement – or the strength to touch so many things that had been precious to him and throw them all away and not die from the guilt.

I didn’t know I’d have a dozen faithful readers.  I didn’t know I’d have enough to say to keep writing.  I didn’t know much.  And I stand here with another twelve calendar pages to turn and wonder what I’ll know soon enough.

We’ll all lose and gain – weight, money, friends and family members.  We’ll all cry – tears of deep sorrow, tears of unexpected joy or the ones when we get caught off guard and stumble on an episode of Extreme Home Makeover and they shamelessly play the emotion card yet again.

And if we’re smart – we’ll all learn something in the process and hopefully apply those nuggets to living more authentic lives.  Being ourselves – who ever we are and dealing with whatever comes custom made for us.