Sunday, September 6, 2009

My Aunt Maureen, the Nurse

My aunt Maureen died this weekend. She was a nurse. I remember when she received her nurse's hat. It was white and crisp and we were all called in to see it in its hatbox. We stood around admiring it like we would have if it were a new baby.

I was pretty young at the time, but I remember it clearly. We were proud of Aunt Maureen for being a post-college graduate. Her hat was the symbol of her achievement, determination, her courage and her devotion.

Much later, when I was nineteen, I had surgery for a kidney problem. My Aunt Maureen volunteered to be my private nurse. My parents did not have to fear that I was not well taken care of late at night, or between nursing shifts, because my Aunt Maureen sat with me every night until I was out of the woods. My hospital stay was 21 days. I don't remember exactly how long Aunt Maureen stayed with me, but I remember that her no-nonsense approach and vigilant watch made me feel loved and safe.

Nurses don't wear hats much anymore. They should. Dignity, respect, compassion are all embodied in that hard-earned symbol of achievement. I had an Aunt Maureen who wore one proudly.

Facebook or World-wide Billboard

I am a mother coming to grips with the fact that her two sons have reached their teenaged years and have little or no time for her. Despite this, I feel that I cannot abdicate my position of seeing them to adulthood safely. So I keep abreast of what they are doing by asking questions disinterestedly so that it doesn't seem as though I am prying. I look at the house caller i.d. to see who has been calling them. And I have taken to looking at their Facebook pages to learn more about what they are up to.

As I was perusing my son's facebook page, I realized that there are many adults who have facebook pages linked to his: one of his junior high school teachers, several cousins and my own two sisters. I was completely nonplussed. There, once I went to her spot, were my sister's children (my own sweet nephews, thank you) in diapers and milk moustaches. As I scrolled down, it became quite clear that despite her youngest being two years of age, my sister was in the depths of postpartum psychosis. What other reason could there be for her to have rap videos on her page, pictures of backyard beer bashes, and an array of pictures of diaper-clad toddlers standing on furniture? Why would she think this was suitable material for the world to see? And what would my parents think? We were raised by the junction that you do not air your dirty laundry in public.

I think facebook is dangerous for kids. There is too much pressure to "one-up" each other and post pictures and comments that are lewd, dangerous or at the least, sophomoric. It is hard enough to be a teenager without adding this to the mix. But I think facebook is downright undignified for adults.

I believe that whatever our public profile is, less is more. It does no one any good to know that at 12:15 pm on July 6th, my sister was having her "first cup of coffee." Nor was it necessary for her to post, on July 19th, that she would need to decompress after seeing her family for the first time in over a year. Some may argue that one person's circumspection is another's repression, but I'll take being discreet over sloppy any day.

I recognize how much fun it can be to get in touch with people you have not seen in a long time. I also get the need, as we reach forty, that we feel we have to justify the kinds of people we have become. Facebook can be a great tool in measured doses. You can show that roommate who drove you nuts that you are doing just fine, thank you. It might also be restorative to show the one who got away that you've recovered from your heartbreak. But to fill people in, constantly, with the minutiae of your day is tedious for those who read it. It also seems a bit narcissistic. Really, is it necessary for people to know that you are watching the Food Network? Again?

Friday, September 4, 2009

A Baby Step...

It has been a long time since I posted anything here. If this blog were a house, there would be squirrels living in the empty rooms. So much has happened, and yet nothing has happened which is probably why I haven't written. It doesn't seem like it is worth it to post if there hasn't been a whole heck of a lot of growth. I have never given myself credit for baby steps, and I really should. If not for the baby steps, I would be nowhere. It is just frustrating that my life is the personification of "same fight, different day." Of all of the cliches that my life has embodied, that one, while not being the saddest or most tragic, is certainly the one that will test my sanity. So here is a baby step back to posting and maybe it will be easier to do now that I have written even this little after all this time.