My mother passed away over thirty years ago, when I was still in my twenties. She died from pneumonia that was a complication caused by M.S. She had M.S. for as long as I can remember, I think it started when I was about seven years old. She left our home when I was eleven years old. She went to live with my grandparents (her parents), because my father worked full time and she needed someone with her all day. That changed my life forever.
If I saw my mother today I would give her a big hug and kiss and tell her what a wonderful mother she was. I would let her know that I have a wonderful life. I’d introduce her to her grandson and she would see right away what a nice young man he is. I would show her around my house and her son-in-law would cook steaks on the grill for her to enjoy with us. Afterwards she could play with our dog Rosie and look around my garden.
I would tell her how much I missed having her around and that I also had my share of struggles. I would thank her for giving me this life; both the good and the bad, because the good has far outweighed the bad. I would tell her how much I appreciated her playing with me all the time when I was little and for taking me to all our favorite parks in Chicago (Avondale, Kosciuszko and Kilbourn to name a few) . Also Lincoln Park Zoo and the park with the waterfalls at Olson Rug! I’d also tell her I still have fond memories of us shopping together at Klaus and Goldblatt’s department stores on Milwaukee Avenue.
And finally, I would tell her how lucky I am to have such wonderful family and friends and a good job, good boss and good co-workers. What else could I ask for? ….I have it all….and it’s all because of her!!
I thought about a lot of things this weekend. When I read the Chicago Tribune’s Chicago Flashback article, “Chicago’s ‘Wall of Respect” Inspired Outdoor Tribute Across U.S.”, I felt bothered by the fact that I’m a native Chicagoan and never heard of this important piece of Chicago history. I never knew about this 1967 mural by William Walker, depicting influential and important figures in Black history. Maybe I hadn’t heard of it because it was torn down after a fire in the building in 1971, or maybe because it was considered too revolutionary, or maybe even because I went to white schools that didn’t teach that in Chicago History classes (which I took in 7th and 8th grade). It could have been a combination of all those things. You can decide for yourselves.
This led me to think about other history class omissions such as the Haymarket Riot in Chicago and numerous other labor related protests; the 1967 Detroit riots and any other race related protests; and even the Japanese internment camps and the Holocaust. They say if we don’t learn history (and learn from it); history will repeat itself. My point is, we need to learn about all the history…both good and bad in order to become a better society.
Then (as it usually does), all this made me think about the violent crime problem in Chicago and how serious and complex it really is. There are so many elements and layers of society involved, so everyone needs to work together in a consolidated and coordinated effort to reduce the shootings and homicides in Chicago. The effort should include all the organizations and individuals that are already making a difference in their own right, such as civil, business, social, educational and religious organizations. But they need to team up and work together to strategically address and solve the problem. Hopefully, then Chicago can go back to being the beautiful city of neighborhoods that it should be!
Summers here always seem to go by too fast. I can’t believe it’s almost August! Since summer is so short we should try to enjoy it every day. Whether it’s going on vacation to an exotic place or fishing lake; or simply finding things to do near home I hope you try to make your summer great! I’m not going on vacation this year; instead I take days off work and attend festivals and concerts or go shopping with friends. I confess that going shopping and doing lunch with friends is my favorite vacation activity this summer. We especially like to visit thrift stores and hunt for unique and special items that are rarely found anywhere else. Whether it’s clothing, shoes, art or furniture there are a lot of treasures to be found! One of our favorite places for treasure hunting is downtown LaGrange. It’s convenient – everything is in walking distance to the METRA stop and you can browse several thrift stores, an antique mall, a bookstore and various retail stores. And whether you’re having breakfast, lunch or dinner, there are also many delicious choices of restaurants. So, go ahead….enjoy your summer days!
A few weeks ago I attended a nephew’s first birthday party in Algonquin and saw many family members I haven’t seen in years. But, what struck me the most was how strongly it made me remember those family members that were no longer there. The ones that would have been there to mark this special birthday, but couldn’t because they passed away. When I saw one cousin I was reminded of another cousin I was very close to who died over twenty years ago. They had been best friends and in my minds eye, I can still see them together. My cousin-in-law asked me how long I’ve been married which led me to ask how long she and my cousin were married. He passed away many years ago, but it made me remember that they seemed like the perfect couple and I told her that. But, what was most meaningful to me was seeing a woman whose son I had dated many years ago and who died many years ago from a concussion he suffered in a car accident. It brought back memories of what could have been, but wasn’t for many reasons we’ll never understand. It also made me think of my own parents who died way too long ago. They both would have celebrated their birthdays that week.
Although I miss those that are gone, I did have a great time at the party – talking and celebrating with my family and catching up on old times and introducing my son to some family members he never met. I also had a great time remembering those that weren’t there. Although they weren’t there in person, they were there in spirit through the memories of those who loved them the most. It was a nice reunion and it made me realize that our loved ones are never gone as long as we remember them.