Monday, January 31, 2011

A Victim Treats His Mugger Right

This is a true story.
Julio Diaz has a daily routine. Every night, the 31-year-old social worker ends his hour-long subway commute to the Bronx one stop early, just so he can eat at his favorite diner.

But one night last month, as Diaz stepped off the No. 6 train and onto a nearly empty platform, his evening took an unexpected turn.
He was walking toward the stairs when a teenage boy approached and pulled out a knife.
"He wants my money, so I just gave him my wallet and told him, 'Here you go,'" Diaz says.
As the teen began to walk away, Diaz told him, "Hey, wait a minute. You forgot something. If you're going to be robbing people for the rest of the night, you might as well take my coat to keep you warm."
The would-be robber looked at his would-be victim, "like what's going on here?" Diaz says. "He asked me, 'Why are you doing this?'"
Diaz replied: "If you're willing to risk your freedom for a few dollars, then I guess you must really need the money. I mean, all I wanted to do was get dinner and if you really want to join me ... hey, you're more than welcome.
"You know, I just felt maybe he really needs help," Diaz says.
Diaz says he and the teen went into the diner and sat in a booth.
"The manager comes by, the dishwashers come by, the waiters come by to say hi," Diaz says. "The kid was like, 'You know everybody here. Do you own this place?'"
"No, I just eat here a lot," Diaz says he told the teen. "He says, 'But you're even nice to the dishwasher.'"
Diaz replied, "Well, haven't you been taught you should be nice to everybody?"
"Yea, but I didn't think people actually behaved that way," the teen said.
Diaz asked him what he wanted out of life. "He just had almost a sad face," Diaz says.
The teen couldn't answer Diaz — or he didn't want to.
When the bill arrived, Diaz told the teen, "Look, I guess you're going to have to pay for this bill 'cause you have my money and I can't pay for this. So if you give me my wallet back, I'll gladly treat you."
The teen "didn't even think about it" and returned the wallet, Diaz says. "I gave him $20 ... I figure maybe it'll help him. I don't know."
Diaz says he asked for something in return — the teen's knife — "and he gave it to me."
Afterward, when Diaz told his mother what happened, she said, "You're the type of kid that if someone asked you for the time, you gave them your watch."
"I figure, you know, if you treat people right, you can only hope that they treat you right. It's as simple as it gets in this complicated world."

Produced for Morning Edition by Michael Garofalo.  NPR

Sunday, January 30, 2011

A Susan Boyle Moment

Do you remember where you were when you first saw the video of Susan Boyle's audition for "Britain's Got Talent"?  I do.
Oh, how I wished I could have been there in the crowd that went from snickers to a standing ovation in the blink of a song.
It resonated because I guess we all feel like outsiders sometimes. But it also demonstrated that if we soldier on there is a divine reward.
Last spring my girlfriend Ray practically strong armed me into going to a women's fashion show put on by the residents of City Rescue Mission -- a comprehensive residential program for homeless people.
Ray is almost as (oh, how can we say this?) .... persuasive as I am and so there I sat with my girlfriend Grace in the chapel of a homeless shelter on a perfectly good Friday evening.
After the formalities of welcoming us the show began. 
The lovely commentator began her remarks and the first model was (I'm assuming) shoved onto the stage.  She entered very abruptly and kept looking fiercely over her shoulder at the pusher.  A more reluctant model you have never seen.
As the description of her outfit rolled on she hesitantly moved around the stage.  Missing all of her marks and never giving eye contact to the audience. 
But you know how we chicks are.  Once the audience saw her awkwardness and modesty we began to cheer, whistle and generally "Amen" her appearance.
She straightened up, received the encouragement and virtually pranced off stage.
All of the estrogen in that chapel blended into one big fellowship of "I am woman hear us roar."
Some were from the sophisticated suburbs.  Some of us were residents in the City Rescue Mission. All of us were women with a past of sins, fears, love and loss.
The freshly coiffed hair, makeovers and stylish  outfits  from the racks of CRM Thrift Store were not what transformed the models into sassy workin' it models.
You see, God showed up.  He was the Stylist that knew just how to present an evening that would give each of us a chance at a "Susan Boyle moment."
Grace and I agreed that of all of the events we had been to last year this was our very favorite.  We were so full of joy as we relived each moment on our ride home.
We're (yes, I had to get in on this FUN adventure) doing it again this year on:
 April 29th.  6:30 in the chapel of City Rescue Mission.  Would you like to help or attend?  Just let me know.
Tickets are $10.00. 
Persuade your girlfriends to come too and don't forget to slip a little Kleenex into your purse.
History will be made.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

He Ain't Got Nothin' on Me

Two weeks ago I had 10 hours to pack up Christmas and fly home to help my mother.
She is safe and recovering so I was able to come home today!
It is a blessing to see:

The welcoming committee -
My kitchen waiting for me to whip up some good smells --

Miss Glorie Hallelujah fresh from the puppy hotel --
Even the stacks of mail.
It won't be long before I make a swan dive for --

And say

Good Night Moon
"There is no place like home!"

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

You're Gonna Be Disappointed! (My son Rush)

Dream A Little Dream

Martin Luther King Jr. had a dream.  I imagine this experience of Sidney Poitier's would have fit into that dream just fine:
"When I was 15 I was sent to live with my brother in Florida.  One day I was really hungry.  I saw a lady and decided I would ask her if I could do anything around her house for something to eat.  She was a white woman.  And this woman took my mother's son, whom she had never met before, and fed him like my mother would have done.  I came to understand what an internal sense of humanity is.  That was a major point in my life."
Big shoes to fill.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Friday, January 14, 2011

Pat Down

Yesterday when I visited my Mother she told me her nurse is really good. 
Why do you think so, I asked.
Because she patted me when she talked to me Mother replied.
We all need to be touched.
Babies lose the desire to thrive when they don't get touched in a loving manner.
I guess we never really get past that.
When I was newly divorced and found myself the Director of Volunteers at Baptist Hospital I assessed early on that the majority of volunteers were widows. 
We were a huggin' machine.
I thought it was a gift I could give them but as you know it ended up being just the therapy I needed in my newly single state of confusion.
None of us had imagined ourselves suddenly single at this time in our lives. (Well, except that one volunteer who had weathered marriage to a man meaner than a snake. We could hardly slap the smile off her face.  Another post another day)
Grady Nutt wrote a chapter titled "Hugs Lifted Me" in his book .  Sing it to the tune of "Love Lifted Me." 
"When nothing else could help ------- Hugs Lifted Me!"

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Why Being in the Hospital is Like:

This scene in "Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid".
There is a place in the movie when Butch and Sundance are trapped by their pursuers on a cliff and all they can do is jump into the river waaaaay below. 
Sundance fidgets and finally confesses that he doesn't want to jump because he can't swim.  Butch just laughs and says; "Well, hell the jump is probably gonna kill us anyway."
When Mom confessed that she didn't want to face the rigors of rehab I inwardly just thought; "Oh, that's OK because they're probably gonna kill you in the hospital anyway."
Health care is a mess but we hit the water and got transferred to The Episcopal Church Home rehab late last night. 
It is a sweet and soft landing.
A beautiful facility with the most attentive and kind staff.
Now the Jane Fonda workouts begins.  Please continue to pray for Loie.
She is my hero.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Please Pray

My mother, Lois,  fell this morning and broke her wrist and hip.  She is in ICU and they hope to stabilize her and do surgery. 
I am flying to Louisville and do not know when I will return. 
We appreciate your prayers for her.

Monday, January 3, 2011

Copy Cat

My girlfriend Jan has a birthday this week and she has taught me a lot about benchmarking. 

That is the task of observing "The Best" of something and holding it up as a model.
Jan grew up with a mother who wasn't proficient in many things:
Friend making
A Personal Relationship with God
When Jan became a young woman she was wise enough to look around and spot women she admired for their signature strengths and then she just copied them.  They became her benchmarks.
She studied them as if preparing for her PHD thesis.  She took mental notes of their homes, parenting styles, recipes, clothing styles, faith walks, and approaches to problem solving.  She read the books they read and joined the churches they belonged to.
She was such a copy cat that she ended up with beautifully adjusted children, a welcoming home and serving on the boards of prestigious women's organizations. All because she laid down her excuses and embraced the lessons all around her.
2011 presents an opportunity to stop, look and listen to our own private heroines.
If not now -- when?

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Gene Pool

My son was cleaning up his photo files and found this.  It was taken several years ago.  My Father (now in heaven) , Mother,  Sister and my smiling self in the lower right corner.
I'm so grateful to have grown up in a funny family.

When people are laughing, they're generally not killing each other. ~Alan Alda

I've always thought that a big laugh is a really loud noise from the soul saying, "Ain't that the truth." ~Quincy Jones

Laughter and tears are both responses to frustration and exhaustion. I myself prefer to laugh, since there is less cleaning up to do afterward. ~Kurt Vonnegut