Sunday, January 30, 2011

A New Princess in the World

Welcome to my gorgeous new granddaughter, Madailéin Elizabeth, born January 29, 2011. Congratulations to her mommy and daddy, who will be, indeed already are, spectacular parents.

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Thursday, January 20, 2011

In Honor of Jackie

January is the birth month of Jacqueline Du Pre, the dazzling English cellist who died of multiple sclerosis in 1987 at the age of 42. I am cheating by posting this on both of my blogs, but I like her to get as much exposure as possible.

Jackie was a genius and her playing is still revered today for its depth and creativity. This is all the more remarkable considering MS ended her ability to play when she was only 28 years old. She did, however, continue to teach and share her brilliance with many, despite the relentless progress of her disease.

This recording of Elgar is a treasure. Daniel Barenboim, who she married in 1967, is conducting. Especially for anyone who is used to how he looks now, he looks like a little boy in a borrowed, ill-fitting tux. As much as I admire his musical talent, I can never look at him without remembering he had two children with another woman while Jackie was still alive. Maybe I am being too judgmental, but honestly, what a dog.

A movie about Jackie and her sister was made in 1998. It generally is a silly, over-the-top melodrama. But there is one scene that I post every year, it is so true to my experience. For me, it captures exactly how it feels every time it hits home how much MS has stolen from my life. My career has been destroyed. My independence is gone. My relationships are all altered by this horrible disease. I cannot overstate the devastation of knowing each day brings me a little closer to total dependence. What I would give to have my old life back, to be able to run errands, get up and go to work every day, go for a walk after dinner! Even to be able to make dinner or clean the house or do laundry, all things that I took for granted and I am unable to do any longer.

I certainly never, ever thought I would develop something like MS. I vividly remember studying it in nursing school and thinking, “Phew, thank goodness I’ll never get MS!” Silly me. I already had it. And even after I was diagnosed, I thought, “Oh, it won’t affect me too much. I will have MS Light. Because I am not the type to get sick. That is for others.”

Who knew I would be one of the others?

Granted, perception is all. If I perceive I am limited, I am limited by my own definition. I do still enjoy many things, especially the company and support of my wonderful friends. But the reality of loss is still a painful fact.

So happy birthday, Jackie. Thank you for the gift of your music and the example of the life you led.

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Friday, January 14, 2011

Wise Words: On Healing, Not Wounding

I was profoundly touched by the leadership of our President, who said, among other things, on Wednesday:

…sudden loss causes us to look backward – but it also forces us to look forward; to reflect on the present and the future, on the manner in which we live our lives and nurture our relationships with those who are still with us.

We may ask ourselves if we’ve shown enough kindness and generosity and compassion to the people in our lives. Perhaps we question whether we are doing right by our children, or our community, and whether our priorities are in order.

We recognize our own mortality, and are reminded that in the fleeting time we have on this earth, what matters is not wealth, or status, or power, or fame – but rather, how well we have loved, and what small part we have played in bettering the lives of others.

I know I am guilty of not having done enough, of letting days and years drift by with good intentions but, sometimes, scant action. I have been thoughtless. I have not always been the parent my children deserved. Circumstances have conspired to leave me now in a position of being able to do very little physically. But I can still consider “…the manner in which…” I live my life.

I will continue to support practical and reasonable gun control legislation, for one thing. No sportsman needs a semi-automatic hand gun. And there must be better controls in place to prevent the mentally ill from having such easy access to firearms. Over 30,000 people are killed by guns in the United States every year, but for some reason there is little outrage.

Ten years ago I took part in the Million Mom March in Washington, D.C. It was an awe-inspiring and sobering day, yet the movement has simmered down to a whisper, although James and Sarah Brady have remained tireless in their mission (

According to the CDC, in 2007, ( 65 children under 14 died in firearm accidents. Two hundred and forty nine were murdered by guns. And 53 children between 10 and 14 committed suicide with a gun. The next age range is a ten year one, 15 to 24, with 53 accidental deaths, 4669 murders and 1900 suicides by firearms. How is this accepted in our society?

As President Obama reminded us, our time on earth is fleeting. It shouldn’t be shortened by senseless, preventable violence.


The Peaceful Stone House is a lovely, gentle blog written by Dana from Canada. It is always worth a visit for a brief respite from the craziness of the world. Dana is sponsoring a wonderful giveaway connected to her business, The Great 1870 Flannel Nightie Co. ( Check out her blog for details on winning a cozy treasure.

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