Divorced families. Blended families. Intact families never touched by divorce. For adult children, figuring out how to please all these people at the holidays, or anytime, can be overwhelming. If you are one of these adult children, I want to point out a few things. First, not everyone who is divorced wanted to be. Second, divorce is not the end of the world. For some it's a new beginning and maybe even a saving grace for some. Third, divorced parents love and want to see their kids, kids-in-law and grandchildren just as much as non-divorced parents. Fourth, no one's parents--divorced or not--are going to live forever. Please believe me, there will come a time when you are going to wish for one more holiday, one more birthday or just one more day, period. But it wont be there...ever again. For some, that last holiday or birthday just may have been this past one, without anyone even being aware of it. Ponder that last statement. Please don't hold divorce against families, and please don't use it as a reason to not even try to get together with them. In closing, please take some advice from this old lady who really isn't that knowledgable, but has learned a few lessons. Time is short. And memories...or lack thereof...will last the rest of your life.
Dear 2020 Presidential Candidates,
As the time draws near for the 2020 presidential campaigns to begin, I find myself dreading the onslaught of this season. It seems the mudslinging, name calling, accusations and finger-pointing are all any of you do on the campaign trails these days.
To be frank, I don’t care what you think of the current president. I don’t care what you think of your opponents. I don’t care what you think of Republicans, Democrats, Independents or Libertarians. Those are all opinions—your opinions that I’d rather you keep to yourself. I don’t care which party you are affiliated with—I base my voting decision on who I feel is the best candidate. I don’t care if you had an extra marital affair fifteen years ago—that is in the past and you certainly aren’t the only one who has done this. I don’t care if you attended wild fraternity or sorority parties during your college career—we were all young and not-so-wise at one time. I don’t care if your kids went to private or public schools—they still got an education. I don’t care what’s on your meal plan for today—I have my own, thank you. I don’t care if you went out in public with one grey sock and one blue one, or if there was a wrinkle in your attire or your hair was messed up.
What I DO care about is what you are bringing to the table as a hopeful future president of the United States of America. Tell me what your ideas and thoughts are on getting this country back on track, to get people to stop hating one another, to get the political parties working together instead of constantly butting heads simply because they are not of the same affiliation. Tell me how we can help the homeless veterans, who by the way, deserve SO much more than they currently receive. Tell me how we can improve our school systems to help our students become responsible, productive, caring individuals. Tell me how we can help our homeless population and try and get them off the streets. Tell me how we can help our abused and neglected children. Tell me how we can improve on care for our elderly community.
In closing, I feel it would be a good reminder to leave you with the wise words of John F. Kennedy:
“And so, my fellow Americans: ask not what your country can do for you — ask what you can do for your country.
My fellow citizens of the world: ask not what America will do for you, but what together we can do for the freedom of man.”
As you enter the 2020 presidential race, please base your campaign on those words and the well-being, safety and improvement of the United States of America and its citizens. Please check your baggage, and that of your opponents, at the starting gate.
Thank you. May the best qualified candidate be our next leader.
God bless America.
Ruth McDonald Mair
Well, it’s been 40 years since you went to be with Jesus. If I did my math right, that translates to 480 months or 14,600 days or 350,400 hours. You may want to double-check that for me since we both know math was never my strongest subject. Of course, if I could have had my way, math would not have been a subject, period. But no matter how you look at it or translate it—and whether or not my math is correct--it’s been a very long time.
I was just a 17-year old high school girl getting ready to start my senior year when you left. I had my senior picture taken. I managed to pull all A’s and B’s my senior year, thanks to no math classes. I went through the motions of baccalaureate and graduation ceremonies. I applied to colleges. You weren’t there in person, but I know you were there.
I became a college student. The first two years were pretty calm and quiet But the last two years, I really became a college student. Even though I still missed you, I’m glad you weren’t there to witness the last two years. Well, you weren’t there in person, but I know you were there.
Over the next few years I got married, had three beautiful boys and got divorced. Those were some years of major ups and downs, but I am so proud of my boys and I know you would be proud to call them your grandsons. I got remarried, gaining a bonus son and daughter in the package. You already know my bonus son, David. He’s in heaven with you, and I know the two of you are getting along well. Daddy joined you just six weeks after David. That was my toughest year yet. You weren’t here in person, but I know you were here.
Forty years has brought many changes to the world and to me, but it has not altered the love I have for you. I wish I had been wiser at 17, to know how much you really meant to me, to realize how much you did for me, and to understand the true depth of a mother’s love. I pray it doesn’t take my death someday for my children to have this clarity about me.
I miss you. You are not in here person, but I know you are here.
I love you, Mama.
As 2018 came to a close, many people were busy deciding what their resolutions would be for the coming year. Some may have chosen weight loss, some may have chosen to find a new career, some may have chosen to save a certain amount of money. The list goes on. I have not made a solid commitment to any resolutions for many years, simply because after years of experience, I know I will not keep them.
I was talking to a friend just before the year ended and she said she was not making any resolutions this year. Instead, she was setting a couple of goals to reach for. Her two goals are health and simplicity. No set amount of weight to lose, no set amount of getting rid of unnecessary “stuff.” I liked her idea, so I decided to adopt it and set my own goal.
My goal for 2019 is to see beauty in at least one thing each day. I am not talking about the “obvious” beauty such as a sunrise or sunset, a good deed, etc., although those are things of beauty to be thankful for. My true goal is to see the beauty in things that aren’t necessarily so beautiful at first glance. Things like a traffic jam that makes me late for work, a burned dinner, someone backing out on long-made plans at the last minute, the dying plants in fall, an ice storm that cancels a girls’ night out, and so on. I believe that there is something good and beautiful in everything…it’s up to me to find it when it is not instantly obvious. I think that by setting this goal, it is going to help me live a more positive-focused life.
As I am writing this, it is January 3, 2019. I’ve already been challenged to see beauty, but so far, I’m batting a thousand! I will keep a “beauty list” and review it at the end of the year. Yes, there will be some sunrises and sunsets on my list—not every day will present challenges to find something beautiful. But I am determined to override those challenges on the days I need to.
God has allowed us to start a new year. Not everyday will be beautiful, but every day will contain beauty. My goal is to see the beauty.
With each passing day, our country is becoming more and more divided. Very little love is multiplying.
Democrats vs Republicans
Liberals vs Conservatives
Women vs Men
Whites vs Blacks
Police vs Civilians
Rich vs Poor
Domestic vs Foreign
Young vs Old
Empowered vs Victim
I’m tired of all the political division, with each party cutting down and slandering the other. I’m tired of all the “he said, she said” commentaries. I’m tired of letting money “talk”, allowing allegations and law suits to soar, many times destroying lives. I’m tired of the rich not helping the poor, the rich helping themselves to what they didn’t work for, and the poor, in some cases but not all, not helping themselves. I’m tired of hearing “because I am black, white or purple with pink polka dots.” I’m tired of hearing that someone is too young to understand so their opinion doesn’t matter. I’m tired of hearing that someone is too old to serve a purpose anymore so let’s just put them away in a home.
Why can’t we be more understanding, more compassionate, more loving? Why can’t we live as “one nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all”? Not everyone has to agree on everything, but we can certainly agree to disagree. We can agree to put an end to all the hostility and hatred that is quickly dividing our country and our families.
We should not allow our differences to divide us any longer. As I have heard many times, no matter what our differences may be, in the end our graves will all be the same size. Let’s each be one of the wheels that gets our country back on track.
When we stop dividing, love will multiply.
Ruth McDonald Mair
Today I write this blog in hopes that some of you will be willing to step into the darkness. “What darkness?” I hear you ask. I am talking about the darkness surrounding another person, making them feel hopeless, useless, and lifeless. More than likely you know someone who needs help in some form. Chances are even greater you do not know exactly who this person is because they are good at keeping their darkness a secret.
I know…I have been there in that darkness…alone. Some of my family and a few friends were aware that I was “having a difficult time” but even they did not know the full extent of my suffering and my struggles to heal and just “be normal” again. I was not so far gone that I was contemplating doing harm to myself (or anyone else). I was in deep enough that, if I was not successful at shutting people out completely, I managed to keep them at arm’s length. Oh, I got out of bed each day, went to work, came home and made dinner. I attended family functions, sporting events. I decorated for the holidays and celebrated birthdays. Outward appearances showed that I was solid as a rock. However, inside I could feel myself crumble just a bit more each day. I suffered a lot, not from physical pain, but emotional pain. I didn’t know how to deal with things that were happening (in 2007 I lost my stepson and my daddy exactly six weeks apart, my husband was laid off from his job, there were financial hardships, I had kids that were getting ready to graduate high school, and the list went on and on). I fought with the demons in that darkness for many years. Only recently have I been able to step fully back into the light, realizing that I am not alone, but also realizing that it is ok to be alone at times. My saving grace came from the strength and love of one person who shall remain nameless because they have absolutely no idea that they are responsible for bringing me back into existence. And that, my friend, is the beauty of it. They did not know that their simple words of love and kindness, their patience and their prayers would lasso my heart and gently lead me out of the darkness. Today, as I enjoy the beauty of life once again, I am so thankful this person was able to reach me.
There are others suffering in that same darkness. Many of them are suffering much more than I ever was. Some of them may be contemplating ending their life because they simply cannot cope any longer. It is possible that you work with, talk to, or even live with someone who is sheltering himself or herself in the darkness, hoping and praying that someone will come along and show them the way out. It happened to me…it happened for me…it could happen for others.
Each kind word, every kind deed, each and every prayer is going to help someone, someone you may or may not know. So please take a step into the darkness today. Even if you believe the candle you carry is very dim, it will still bring light to someone else’s darkness.
Last weekend I attended a memorial service for a man I did not know. By all rights bestowed upon me at birth, I should have grown up knowing this man. He was, after all, my uncle. I grew up not knowing him because with life being so unpredictable, my four siblings and I were separated when I was still a toddler. The five of us grew up, adopted out to different families, not knowing each other. The older siblings have a few recollections of our biological family, but I have none. Several years ago I got to meet this man, my Uncle Gerald. Upon our introduction, I remember seeing him wipe the tears from his eyes. We talked for just a few short minutes and he told me I was welcome to come visit him and my aunt anytime. I told him I would do that. Time got away, and a few years later, I read in the local paper that his wife, my aunt, had passed away. I had not gone to visit them. I knew where this man lived, and I cannot begin to count the number of times I drove by his street and thought to myself, “I need to go visit Uncle Gerald. I need to get to know him. I will do that soon.” A little over a month ago I was told that he was having some health issues. Again I thought, “I need to go see him.” The first week of July, I learned that Uncle Gerald had passed away. I had not gone to see him. I had not gotten to know him. Out of respect for this man, I attended the memorial service with one of my sisters. As we took our place among the small gathering of people, it came to my mind, “Some of these people are my very own flesh and blood…and we do not even know each other.” A man and wife, who were good friends with Uncle Gerald, stood and spoke about him to those of us who had gathered to pay our respects. They spoke about how he loved to watch the Tigers baseball games, about how he loved his dog, and about how he loved his family. Then they talked about how little family this man had, and how he would get lonely at times. A few other people took turns speaking, and I noticed a common theme in each of their sharing. Uncle Gerald was a good, loving, family-oriented man. The military honors were then executed, beautifully and pretty near perfect, giving me goosebumps with the twenty-one gun salute and bringing tears to my eyes with the playing of the taps. As I stood there reflecting, a lot of “why didn’t you’s” kept going through my mind, like, “Why didn’t you get to know him? Why didn’t you try to make a difference in his life? Why didn’t you save him from some lonely moments in time? Why didn’t you reach out to his grandchildren and offer to help care for him?” The only answer I could dredge up was, “I just did not take the time.” I know I could have taken the time. I just did not make it priority. Before and after the service, I had the opportunity to meet a handful of my biological cousins and second cousins. I do hope that in the near future I have a chance to be better acquainted with some of them. I know that if given the opportunity, I will not put it off until it is once again too late, and I have to learn second-hand about what a good person they were. In closing, I urge each of you reading this, if there is someone in your life that you think could use some help, some of your time, or just a few words on the phone, please do not put it off. Put forth the effort to make it happen. Don’t let life get in the way. Don’t let your busy schedule rule your life. Don’t pencil someone into your thoughts…put it in ink by making it happen. You just never know when you might make a difference in someone’s life, or even in your own, if you just take the time to put priorities in the right order. Rest in peace, Uncle Gerald. I may not have known you, but I will never forget you.
~Ruth McDonald Mair~
Last night I decided to go to bed early and get a good night’s rest since I have been lacking in that department lately. By the time I conducted all of my bedtime rituals (take Murphy out, brush my teeth, double check that the doors are locked, turn off all the lights, say my prayers and coerce the dog to the bedroom) it was 9:30 pm. I fell into bed, drifting to sleep almost immediately. Have you ever been dreaming and just kind of incorporate sounds and/or smells into that dream? Well, I do not recall the dream I was having, but all of a sudden, I was very much aware that the ghastly odor in my dream was actually in my bedroom. As I came back to consciousness, I realized that Murphy (who sleeps on the floor next to my side of the bed) had passed gas. I looked at the clock and it read 2:05 am. I knew I still had a little over two hours to sleep, so I laid my head back down on my pillow. As I tried to go back to sleep, the dog decided to release more malicious toxins into the air. I turned onto my other side facing my husband, thinking this would block the stench rising from the floor. I soon realized this was no solution, as not only did Murphy continue to give his body relief, he began to lick (quite loudly, I might add) various parts of his body. On top of that, my husband was snoring…loudly. And exhaling….loudly. When he snores, he exhales with a "puff", likes he is blowing away the seeds from a dead dandelion. To my dismay, he was facing me and "puffing" right in my face. As much as I love my husband, he has some really raunchy night breath! Over the next thirty to forty minutes, the dog’s timely odor escalated, while my husband’s snoring and puffing got louder and louder. I tossed and turned, not knowing which was the lesser of the two evils. I flipped and flopped, trying to imitate a beached whale in hopes of causing my husband to turn over and face the other way. It seemed to be a failed mission on my part. Then, as I was about to give up, my husband turned over and was facing the opposite direction taking his snoring and puffing with him! I looked at the clock again. It was now almost 3 am and I knew I could still get one more hour of sleep. Just as I was dozing off, my husband let out the loudest emission of human gas I have ever heard. Moreover, almost in tandem, Murphy decided to give one more blast of not-so-fresh air. I do not recall all the exact thoughts/words that flashed through my mind at that moment in time, but I am certain that when I say my prayers tonight, I need to ask God for forgiveness. I threw the covers back, turned off the alarm clock (didn’t need it today anyway), headed outside with the dog, all the while threatening him that he BETTER have to poop. Around 4:30 am, my loving husband came strolling into the kitchen to a hot cup of coffee waiting for him on the kitchen counter. He looked at me, smiled and said, “Good morning, Sweetie. Why are you up so early this morning?” I just very calmly (to my own surprise) told him that I woke up and could not go back to sleep. Perhaps when we get home from work tonight, if I am still coherent, I will try to explain to him why my Fitbit says I got 4 hours and 18 minutes of sleep last night.
Ruth McDonald Mair
“Precious memories, how they linger
How they ever flood my soul…”
Well Daddy, it has been ten years since I last saw you, had a conversation with you, hugged and kissed you for the last time and said my last goodbye to you here on this earth. While my heart still aches and I still miss you dearly, I take comfort in the all the memories you created for me. Those memories definitely bring me through the most difficult days. As I reminisce, I realize all the things you taught me.
You taught me humor. You were standing at the kitchen window watching me play just outside, and you decided to throw a glass of water on me through the window. A few minutes later, mama walked into the kitchen and asked why your shirt was wet and why you were wiping the window. You told her there was a spot on the window and you were just cleaning it off. Later, you admitted that because she was just such a good housekeeper, you didn’t realize the window was not open before you tossed the water.
You taught me strength. I remember the pony I always wanted to ride at the young age of four. You put me on that pony’s bare back one day and turned it loose. At that point I knew it was hold on tight or hit the ground. I’m not sure I ever asked to ride it again, but I certainly did not hit the ground that day.
You taught me patience. I learned to jump rope, blow bubbles with my bubblegum, and whistle because you spent day after day and hour upon hour telling me “Jump now!” and “Don’t spread the gum too thin” and “Don’t puff your cheeks out so much.” You were as proud as I was excited when I accomplished each of these feats.
You taught me that emotions are real. More than once as I was growing up, I was on the receiving end of your anger (and rightly so I might add!). Several times I saw you cry, letting your tears flow freely, completely unashamed. But what I loved most was to hear you laugh, and fortunately I heard it many, many times through the years. Anyone who knew you knew your laugh and could recognize it in a room full of people.
You taught me love and compassion. You and mama took me in to be your daughter, and my brother to be your son, when you didn’t have to. You loved us both unconditionally, through good and bad times. You were married to the love of your life for 33 years before she died. You never even thought about dating or remarrying after that—you had given your heart completely to mama. You adored your grandchildren and great-grandchildren. You worked hard all your life to provide a stable, loving, and safe home for your family. Although we never had an excess of anything, you never turned away anyone who needed help.
You taught me about God. You believed in him and lived by His word. I know you are being rewarded in heaven for a job well done here on earth. And, I’m pretty sure you are teaching the angels how to laugh.
Thank you, Daddy, for all the things you taught me. And, hey, thanks for the memories!
I love you…always.
In the last year, I’ve known several families that have suffered the loss of a child--the most recent occurring just this week. Whether that child was an infant, toddler, teen or adult is irrelevant…a child is a child. I don’t know why these things happen or why hearts are broken and lives shattered. I don’t know why parents and siblings are left to pick up their broken lives, which will forever be jagged because one final piece will never be recovered. I do, however, know that the Bible tells us in Revelation 21:4, “And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away.” So to all the families who have been traveling on the dark and uncertain road to recovery for a while, and to all those who are just starting down that difficult path, my heart, thoughts and prayers go out to each and every one of you. My family is also on this road. While on this journey, I have discovered two lights. One is illuminating the way for us from those who have gone before. The other is the light we extend to those that follow. Together, we will all make it out of the dark.
~Ruth McDonald Mair~ 5-23-17
I currently live in Michigan with my husband, Donald. I have three sons and one daughter as well as four grandchildren. For as long as I can remember I have had a passion for writing. I give God all the credit for allowing me to share my writings with you.