Wake Up Now

Wake Up Now

It happens. You never forget it but it happens. It happens more than you can imagine and it isn’t a forgettable experience. After more than sixty years the memory is still fresh in my mind. Terry Lipski, briefly a boyhood friend, disappeared one day.

Terry arrived in our neighborhood – I’m guessing sometime between our 5th and 6th grade years? He was well mannered and never failed to tell my mother how nice she looked. My mother loved that about him. He was sincere about his compliments; he just had that way about him. Terry had moved in with his Aunt who lived on Annapolis, a couple of blocks over; right across the street from another friend Tony Hernandez. The house became a mystery because we, as Terry’s friends, weren’t allowed to come inside. That mystery was never solved except that after Terry disappeared, the Aunt’s house was made a mystery all the more.

I can’t recall the city that Terry said he was from, it was somewhere up in Northern Michigan and he said he had to move to our neighborhood to live with his Aunt. We never asked why he had done so because it didn’t matter. He was fun to have as a friend because he was so nice to be around. The only thing that bothered me about Terry was my mother continuously suggesting that I should be more like him. Terry, for his age, had a deep voice and spoke very loudly. You always knew when he was around because he commanded the space wherever he was. Then, without explanation, he quietly disappeared.

It was several months later that I learned what happened to Terry. I believe it was on a weekend morning when I was downstairs in our basement that my mother came with the news. “Ronnie” she said, “I have something I need to tell you.” She went on… “Your friend Terry, I just learned, has committed suicide.” Well, I cried of course for a very long time about my friend.

I assumed he had shot himself and whether it truly was suicide or not I will probably never know? As an adult, and a parent now, I don’t know how else you are to tell an eleven or twelve year old that his friend has just committed suicide. We as parents aren’t taught how to do that. The fact that it still troubles me at this late age should say something about how these types of events affect us for the rest of our lives. Though many generations have passed, the hurt never goes completely away.

There are similar events, increasingly and continuously, going on around us that we have a tendency to want to ignore. Because, I think, they are too painful to think about. No one wants to deal with them. The events I am referring to are children killing children. When finding a parent’s, or guardian’s unsecured weapon; a child’s guilt can only be their inherent curiosity. It is the parent’s carelessness where-in the guilt lies. I think it is time, we as a nation did something about it.

Another memory comes to mind; as a young adult I had a favorite Uncle that committed suicide with a gun. He was a World War II veteran and had earned a purple heart having suffered the loss of an eye in battle. I’m sure he was a victim of what we now know today as PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder). I have a horrific vision of my cousin, his daughter, having found him. I think how terrible that memory must be for her to have to live with. Our Veterans today are killing themselves at an alarming rate, at last count, as many as 22 a day and it needs to be fixed… NOW!

Statistics show, by the end of 2015, about 265 children picked up a firearm and shot someone by accident. Their families, and their victim’s families, will never be able to forget what happened to their loved ones. The pain and the memory of the event will forever be unforgettable.

He was a kind soul that Terry. I have spent time looking for records of Terry’s life to no avail. It is almost like he never existed and that should be a crime as well. At eleven years old, where did he get a gun and who did it belong to?

Wake Up Now Nation, it is time we did something about our children and gun safety.

I’ll leave you with my paraphrase of a poem
by a favorite poet – Philip Larkin:

They’ll screw you up,  your Mum and Dad
They’ll leave their guns,  know not where
They don’t mean to,  but they do
Then cry a stream,  when you’re not there.

The Cuckoo Bird

The Cuckoo Bird

The Cuckoo is a very silly bird and I find the specie particularly interesting, especially its behavior with its offspring. Cuckoos don’t bother building their own nests – they merely lay their eggs in the other birds’ nests. It can get more complicated from there.

Philip Larkin, an eminent writer in postwar England, was a national favorite poet who was commonly referred to as “England’s other Poet Laureate” until his death in 1985.

I find this poem by Philip Larkin to be extremely enlightening regarding the travails of parenting of which most of us suffer. It is in us all to screw up our kids unless we are very, very careful or just lucky. And even then chances are, you won’t escape doing so.

From “This Be The Verse,” By Philip Larkin (1922-1985)

“They fuck you up, your mum and dad. They may not mean to, but they do.
They fill you with the faults they had, and add some extra, just for you.
But they were fucked up in their turn, By fools in old-style hats and coats,
Who half the time were soppy-stern, And half at one anothers throats.
Man hands on misery to man. It deepens like a coastal shelf.
Get out as early as you can, And don’t have any kids yourself.”

Escape and Survive

Escaping and surviving, survive and escape, are obviously synonymous. Escapes can come in many forms during a lifetime; surviving infancy for example, only then comes your childhood, the teenage years, becoming a young adult, and on to mid-life when finally, if you have survived all of these you try and survive being old.

We survive infancy because good parents are duty bound to look after our every need. Some are good at it and some not so, but they are solely responsible for our graduating from infancy into childhood. With fear placed at your doorstep or at the foot of your bed or perhaps under it, childhood can be both a very frightening and exciting endeavor. Consider our exposure to some of the classic Fairy Tales when young. For example; do you remember being read, “Fe Fi, Fo Fum, I smell the blood of an Englishman, be he alive or be he dead, I’ll grind his bones to make my bread?” And who can ever forget poor Hansel and Gretel.

Fear does instill in us an instinct for survival in so many ways so perhaps it isn’t all bad. Parents don’t always escape their childhood without their own set of scars and more often than not pass them along to their offspring. My previous series of survival and escape stories were about the mix of an environment clashing with our nature that is all to do with our DNA; our inescapable biological make up. If you don’t know from where you came you could be in for some surprises. This was certainly true for me, not learning until I was 45 years old that I had been adopted and placed into someone else’s nest. Keep in mind the cuckoo bird metaphor enlisted here is meant as an endearment to another species quest for survival.

… from the start; The Primal Wound

Being born unwanted can ruin your day but it doesn’t have to ruin your life. I was not born out of wedlock but my potential future existence provoked the union for certain. It happens. My parents’ marriage dissolved soon after my birth. My mother, unloved and unsupported, was forced to make a decision not easy to make, to soldier on or find another nest and place me in it.

Enter the story of the Cuckoo Bird: Much like a cuckoo bird laying its egg in someone else’s nest, giving a child away to adoption can have a major effect on the unwanted newborn, inflicting on it what is suspected to be “The Primal Wound.”

The blessing of “The Primal Wound” as explored by Nancy Verrier in her book by the same name, can be doubly troubling. The book suggests a “primal wound” occurs when a mother and child are separated by adoption shortly after childbirth. A mother and child have a vital connected relationship, according to the books author, which is physical, psychological and physiological. The effects of disrupting such bonds is the focus of her book; making a study of adoption on the adoptee. A central theme is the assertion that all adoptees, even those adopted at birth, will retain memories of the separation from their birth mothers, and that regardless of the way the adoption is presented and handled by adoptive parents, these memories will have profound effects on the emotional and psychological well-being of the child and adult adoptee well into adulthood.

I was placed on the doorstep of the Hart families nest at 5217 32nd Street in West Detroit in early 1942. Even with the help of a few surviving relatives I haven’t put together exactly how and when I arrived there; the place where so many of my first memories accumulated. My experience there, as it relates to my sense of self, who I am now and who I thought I was then, of course changed. Learning, forty-five years late that I’d arrived from a different Mum than was led to believe, a cuckoo bird had dropped me off, I understood better the emotional turmoil I experienced during this period. My childhood then suddenly made more sense.

The Cuckoo…  as cartoon figure

The depicted character in the Roadrunner cartoon series are a related species. Cuckoos are medium-sized birds that vary in size, it can be either the male or the female that is larger. One of the most important distinguishing features of the family are the feet, which have two inner toes pointing forward and the two outer backward. The common cuckoo is slender. Almost all species have long tails which are used for steering in terrestrial species and as a rudder during flight in the arboreal species. It is no wonder the Roadrunner was able to escape Mr. Wiley Coyote so effortlessly.