Saturday, February 18, 2017

On A Mission Against Ignorance

I write this post very cognizant of the fact I may "offend" people; so be it.  I guess if I offend you, you are among the category of "ignorant, uninformed, gullible," or any other moniker you want to put on it.

I have spent my adult years---close to 29 of them now--on fighting ignorance.  I am a public school teacher (I did spend one year in private school hell, but that's for a later post.).  An English teacher, to be precise.  I'll cut to the chase; when the internet came out (Remember, Al Gore "invented" it.), a CARDINAL rule we learned is "Do not believe everything you read on the internet."  That was in direct opposition to the argument, "But, I read it on the internet, so it must be true."  The older I get, and the closer I get to retirement, the less patience I have for ignorant people.  Let me be clear what I define as ignorant; it is a person who should have the brains to be discerning, but chooses to be easily led by right wing or left wing propaganda because it "suits" their political views to be dumb.  There, that's it;  It substantiates their political views.

In my years as an English teacher, especially since the internet, I have tried to steer students to REPUTABLE websites to get their information.  I have also tried to get them to substantiate what they've read by visiting several websites.  Thus, when I see adults, some of whom have college degrees, posting/commenting on OBVIOUSLY propaganda sites as though they are the gospel (and for some of these folks, they are!) because  it supports  their narrow-minded, bigoted, brainwashed opinions, I shake my head and truly think, "What  'would' Jesus think?"  I really do believe the 90s wrist band, "WWJD" was twenty-something years before its time; it is more appropriate NOW in this hate-filled culture led by The Crusades-minded evangelicals who would use propaganda to fuel their hatred for anyone who is not a christian. 



When I read this, 

I knew we were in trouble.  "Head of church"?  Really?  So, what is next?

This past week in one of my classes we read a nonfiction text on Eleanor Roosevelt as First Lady.  One of my students' tasks was to formulate questions as we read it.  In response to the Japanese-American internment camps during WWII, my Japanese-American girl asked, "Why did they put JA in those camps when they couldn't control what the Japanese government did?" (The point was she tried to get FDR to close them, but ever the politician, he wouldn't until he won his fourth term.)

WOW!  Out of the mouths of babes!  How stupid we are when we don't learn from the past.  How far away are we from repeating this heinous practice?  The only question is, "Will it be against Muslims or Latinos?"  And, The Crusades-loving Christians will be leading the charge.

Friday, February 10, 2017

Dad's Health

My dad has outlived all three of his brothers.  Uncle Ed, the baby, died in December of 1989.  He was a brilliant businessman in Atlanta.  His glass furniture business could have made him a millionaire, but alcoholism killed him.  In short, he got back on the interstate near Augusta, Ga---going the wrong direction--and killed himself and a 23 year-old nurse.  He was in his late 50s.  Only six weeks later, the eldest brother, Uncle Robbie, died of a burst pancreas (I think.)  I remember sitting in the waiting room at the hospital and watching the bombing of Baghdad at the start of the Gulf War.  Then, in September of 1998, Dad's second brother, Jim, died of an aneurysm in his stomach.  Dad had just returned from flying out to San Antonio to see  him when Uncle Jim died.  The picture above is the end of a walking stick he hand-carved out of sassaphrass that grew at Grandmother's homestead.  More pictures follow, and at the bottom are pictures of my walking cane he made for me.
That inscription is so full of meaning:  "Good Health, Bro!"  Indeed, my dad has been blessed with good health.  He had a stint put in an artery roughly 23 years ago.  He had colon cancer about 5 years ago.  And, he has battled skin cancers all over his head and face for over ten years.

Today we found out Dad does not have lung or colon cancer; evidently the cancer in the lymph node in his neck began in one of those skin cancers.  The GOOD news, and answer to prayer, is that there is a brand-new drug called Ketruda that just last week got approved (after clinical trials) for Dad's Merkel Cell cancer.  This is an immunotherapy drug, not chemotherapy.  Dr. Chahin (our Middle Eastern-born, Syrian medical school-graduated, Clemson-loving-National Championship attending oncologist) has said he did not think Dad could handle chemo because not only is chemo hard enough for a strong person, but the kind he would need is brutal.  So, as an immunotherapy drug, Ketruda reves up the immune system to attack the cancer.  In clinical trials it was used on all ages, including patients in their 90s.  He sounded very optimistic.  Dad should not have severe side effects.


So, this cane from my favorite uncle has a special meaning for me.  Dad has, indeed, had good health. He begins the immunotherapy on Tuesday at Keyserling Cancer Center, where I had mine nearly 10 years ago.  Dr. Chahin will take care of him as I trusted him to care for me all those years ago.  And, I will be there with Dad every step of the way.

Now, just for fun, here are the pictures of my cane, which stays in my foyer closet until I need it.

(Mine is two-faced!)





Tuesday, February 7, 2017

For Whom the Bell Tolls

For whom the bell tolls---

Today it tolled for public education with the confirmation of the most unqualified person yet to fill the Secretary of Education position.  A woman who could not intelligently discuss education during her confirmation hearing.  She couldn't discuss the difference between growth and proficiency.  She was unfamiliar with special education laws.  Make no mistake:  She was confirmed because she is a billionaire, and the only two republican senators with balls have no literal balls because they're women.  The rest of the republicans either voted party line and/or were bought off by her prior contributions to their campaigns.

I am angry.  I hope I am wrong, but I am penning this post now so if I am wrong, someone may come back and tell me.  Betsy DeVos loathes public education as much as my former pastor who spewed venom against it any chance he got.  She is in favor of vouchers for charter schools, religious schools, and maybe even home schools.  Home schools?  Really?  And, pray tell, what kind of accountability is in home school education?  I know some wonderful home school parents, but like anything else, there are some crummy ones, too.  The fact is that not everyone can teach--even parents.  

Betsy DeVos is from Michigan.  All one needs to do is look at the Detroit public school system to see what charter schools have done there:https://www.nytimes.com/2016/06/29/us/for-detroits-children-more-school-choice-but-not-better-schools.html?_r=0

I have spent 28 years in Title One high poverty schools, devoting my career to teaching the most downtrodden students.  There are several charter schools in my town, and they are not diverse.  I call charter schools here "private schools with public dollars."  They get around enrolling truly special ed students by saying they don't have the money for those teachers, or they claim they have a lottery system.   I'm not fooled; they cherry pick who is allowed in.

I'm glad I am exiting the system before the inevitable happens.  Maybe someone can come back here in four years and tell me I was wrong...........but I won't hold my breath.

Sunday, February 5, 2017

Dad

I have written posts about my dad before, but today as I was cooking my parents' lunch, I was thinking about why I love him so much.  In my opinion, he deserves man/husband of the year sainthood.  One day (a LONG time from now I pray), God will say, "Well done, my good and faithful servant."  He is the most easygoing person I know.  Rarely do I even remember him losing his cool; in fact, I really don't remember when he did.

As a child, I loved him so much, and I was always fearful of disappointing him.  Consequently, whatever he told me to do, I did.  I remember in 5th grade I had Ms. Bodison as a math teacher.  To this day, I remember her standing in front of the class in what must have been a science room once due to the large table at the front, which served as her lectern.   I was having trouble in math due to not knowing my multiplication tables.  She must have sent a note home or bad papers.  I remember a Monday night and standing next to his recliner.  He handed me my brothers' old flash cards and announced I was not watching tv until I knew them.  Now, this was the day pre-cable when we had three Charleston channels:  ABC, NBC, and CBS.  Even so, I knew them within two nights!  I wanted to be able to come back into the living room to watch tv with him (We had the one tv.).



Also, it was probably about the same time that I would stand behind his recliner, patting his head, begging him to stop smoking because I didn't want him to die of lung cancer.  At some point, he decided to do as I asked (He still does.) and announced before dinner that he would smoke one more cigarette, after which he handed me the rest of the pack.  I wasted no time in getting the kitchen scissors and painstakingly cutting each cigarette into small pieces (just in case he tried to change his mind on that pack!)



Fast forward to high school.  At the time, Dad was working at the Charleston Naval Shipyard, and he paid a man to ride on his van with other workers.  We had a powder blue van that he had stripped on the inside and built a bed in the back and added a chair behind the driver's seat for Mother.  We used it to drive to visit my eldest brother, who was in the Air Force.  Well, that was my senior ride to school.  


                           (Uncle Ed, Aunt Eva Jean, Mother, Dad, cousin Stanley, Grandmother, Uncle Robbie, and Aunt Jessie.  Uncle Robbie was the eldest, then Uncle Jim, Dad, and Uncle Ed was the baby.)  circa 1974 or 75

Fast forward to my high school graduation.  I stayed home as my parents went to Charleston one day.  When they came back, Dad was driving a 1980 (This was 1981.) Clemson orange Mustang with black interior.  I never asked for it, nor was I expecting it.  The following fall I was going to Columbia College in Columbia, SC.  I could not drive it up there until my first semester grade report came out. Needless to say, I had it in Columbia the next semester.



This is out of order, but I want to take a few minutes to reminisce about my two trips to France.  The first time I went was in April of 1979 with students from John C. Calhoun Academy.  When I brought home the information, I really had no clue he would say "yes."  He did not bat an eye.  I never asked why, but I assume being that he was retired from the Air Force, he knew the value of world travel.  So, four years later when I wanted to go for three weeks as a college freshman during May Mester (as the three weeks in May was called), he again did not bat an eye.  That trip entailed Paris, Normandy, the Loire Valley (as the first trip had included), but this one added Monaco and Nice.  I remember thinking how small and plain the palace for Prince Ranier and Princess Grace was (She died that following September.).

By the time I graduated from college, I had nothing to pay.  What was not covered in scholarships he paid off monthly as we went along.  When I graduated, he told me what he had told my brothers:  he would pay for my education as far as I wanted to go.  Now, we were not wealthy.  Dad worked civil service jobs after retiring from the Air Force, but my parents were smart with their money.  Anyway, after teaching one semester, I decided to enroll at The Citadel for my master's degree.  I was the only one who took him up on it.  I am so grateful I did because it saved me $$$$ and enabled me to make more over the course of my career, which will affect my retirement in the upcoming months.

This is just a little reminiscing this afternoon.  I'm sure there will be more at a later date.



Friday, January 27, 2017

Misunderstood

For most of my life, I have been misunderstood.  I am loud and demonstrative at work.  There is a big, burly, LOUD male teacher  who has chastised *me* about being loud (talk about the pot calling the kettle black).  He doesn't get it; as a male who is larger than any of his students, he is imposing and can not begin to understand my point of view.

In high school I was extremely quiet, as my peers would remember.  Going to an all-women's college brought me out of my shell.  By the time I began teaching high school in 1988, I had decided that no one would run over me.  I commanded authority from day one, no matter how big the students were.  I really have few specific memories from  that time at Ruffin High, but I remember many of the students.  This week I was reminiscing on Facebook, and the dialogue I had with one of them is below.

I find it amusing she said I was "mean as a whip."  Many would call it that; I was strict.  I don't actually think she meant "mean."  She did follow it up with saying I "sincerely took an interest" in them.  I have no recollection of having given her a bear when she was in the hospital.  I do remember before the students came my first year, I was making my classroom library of paperback books I had bought at the Ladson Flea Market for .25 each.  I made library check out cards for the back of each one.  I expected my students to read and read the classics.  I recall another teacher coming in my room and asking, "Why are you doing that?  They won't read."  I was undeterred.  We may have struggled, but we made it through Great Expectations,  Romeo and Juliet, and MacBeth, "A Doll's House," and "Death of a Salesman," among so many other classics.  I was naive perhaps.  I didn't know what a Title One school was.  I simply expected them to do, so we wrote research papers.  I may or may not have violated copyright laws with vocabulary pages from a book *my* English teacher had used with my class.  But, by darn, my students were going to learn the same words I did.

Then, I lose it when I hear, again on FB, from one of these "boys" who said he owes his vast vocabulary to me.  I lose it when one of my stars revealed he had no indoor plumbing until middle school and that I didn't have to know back then because it might have colored my view of him.

These are the sweetest memories.  

I almost went English bc my high school English teacher was the bomb...lol
Ginger Williams Garner Thank you! I can't remember back that far to know whether I was good or not. Today, people either love me or hate me
LikeReply1January 25 at 7:53amEdited
Darrmell Williams You cared. Mean as a whip but you sincerely took an interest in us. We had fun. And I still have the teddy bear you gave me when I was in the hospital. Lol
Ginger Williams Garner Darrmell Williams , I dont remember the bear! And I have mellowed a tiny bit...tiny!


Wednesday, January 18, 2017

I am selfish.

I am selfish; I want what I want.  For the believer in Jesus, we are just passing through this earthly life.  EARTH is not our home; HEAVEN is our home--our eternal home.  Let that sink in--ETERNAL HOME--as in NEVER-ENDING.  If we keep that perspective, we won't fret and go to pieces over our loved ones' eventual "passing."

Or will we?  We are human, and it's human to want to keep our loved ones with us.  In truth, we should be rejoicing for him/her to be able to see Jesus and meet God, the lover of our souls.  He or she will be WHOLE with NO illness and no infirmity.  

Jesus said, "Do not let your hearts be troubled. You believe in God; believe in Me as well. 2In My Father’s house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you? 3And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and welcome you into My presence, so that you also may be where I am.…"

Our time separated from a believing loved one is only as long as our time left on earth.  Take heart, the risen Jesus has gone to prepare a place for each of us in heaven, where there will be no more tears, no more sadness, no more sickness.

This doesn't challenge my belief if I grieve what's to come or has come; it makes me a selfish, loving daughter who wants her father with her as long as possible.  


Sunday, January 15, 2017

Change

I wrote in a previous post that I don't like change.   Ironically for what we are going through with my dad's cancer, this sign has hung in the original bathroom of their house.  It has been there for as long as I can remember:


Dad gave the most beautiful, from-the-heart prayer at breakfast this morning.  See, he doesn't have scripture memorized; they use a devotional book and read accompanying verses. His prayer was from the heart and out of his head. In part, he prayed for my eldest brother (who "divorced " the family the month I began teaching in 1988: "Lord, we know he doesn't know you like we do." Then, he continued: "Lord, you've taken care of us for 67 something years, and we trust you to continue. When it''s our time to go, we pray we go and you don't 'beat around the bush."

The Bible tells us we have to have the faith of a child, and that is my dad. He doesn't have scripture memorized, but then again, I don't believe we have to pass a "scripture test" to get into heaven.


"Lord, help us (ME) find our (MY) way through the changes in our lives."





Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Listening for God's Voice, Explanation

I want to clarify what I mean when I say I listen for God's voice.  I want to reiterate I don't "hear" voices, in case anyone thinks I do.  In the last post, I said it was like a command in my head.  Let me explain what I mean.

There are times when I am torn about things.  I pray and ask God to give me clarity if it is something I should do.  Now, I am the only human in my house, so I can and do pray out loud quite often; it's just me talking to God.  I suppose I am entertainment for the animals at times; at other times, I might interrupt their sleeping.  At any rate, it's what I do.  

Before I act, I wait until I get a very "strong" impression from him that it is something I should do.  For example, on Friday my guardian angel from NC called in response to a Facebook message about prayer that I had sent him.  As he was ministering to me, God plopped this idea into my head regarding the prayer request.  It was extremely strong and out of "left field," so I *knew* it was from Him and not just *my* thinking. (Sorry I can't be more specific, but at this time I won't be because it involves someone else.)  When I told my guardian angel, he said something that affirmed that it was God-sent.  See, I never want it to just be "my thinking"; I want to *know* it is God talking.

That's about the best way I can explain "listening for God's voice."  As time has passed, I have normally been able to eventually discern whether it is His voice or me.

And a note on my "guardian angel":  The reason I call this person this is because I know God has sent him to be my spiritual advisor/encourager/prayer warrior.  There are few people I can trust with certain prayer requests because they are too familiar to the situation or they really don't care.  This person is a "disinterested" party, so to speak, because he is not close to any of the situations.  He just remembers me from August of 1988---

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Listening for God's Voice

I made the first of four dental appointments back in November, before Clemson knew it would be in the National Championship last night, so I have today off.  Last week after Clemson trounced over Ohio State in the Fiesta Bowl, clinching their National Championship spot, I *knew* I had to watch the game with Dad.  All week I had this "voice" from God telling me to go.  It wasn't an audible voice, just a command.  That's the only way I know to describe it.  For that reason, I knew Clemson would win.  God wanted me to share that with Dad.

We didn't go to bed until 1 am.  He never dozed off; I, on the other hand set my phone alarm during halftime so I could wake up.

We had a blast.  What if I were not tuned in to God's voice?


Sunday, January 8, 2017

A Pain Like No Other

Tucked away in the smaller bathroom, 
behind the curtain, beyond the hum of the heater,
the tears flowed and the cries went unnoticed to human ears.
Although the lavender candle flickered in its soft light, 
it did not soothe; there is no balm that will ease this hurt--
'cept you, Jesus.
Hear my cries, wipe my tears, cover this pain with your love and reassurance