You're my favorite.

No, really - you are.

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

It really is.

My grandfather died on Sunday, less than a week after I posted my last entry wondering if I would ever see him again.

It’s for the best, it really is, or so I keep telling myself, and so I mostly believe. He’d been weaker the last few weeks apparently, and was especially weak that morning. They were going to go for a drive, which was one of his favorite things to do in the beautiful Vermont countryside. My grandmother thought perhaps they shouldn’t because he was so tired, but he wanted to go, so they went. They helped him to the car. His last words were, “This is a beautiful day.” His head slumped forward when he got into his seat, and he was gone.

He died without pain, without lingering, on his way to do something he loved. He’d listened to classical music that morning, one of the few things he could still appreciate with such a disaster of a memory.

My grandmother no longer has to kill herself taking care of him and the house, nor does she have to make the agonizing decision to put him in a home, which would have crushed him.

My mother spent the last month of his life with him, going for drives, listening to music, sitting on the deck, being with him and my grandmother. She left, and the next day he left too.

His body is being cremated. The memorial service will be next Saturday in Vermont. My mother and sister and I will go out for it, to say goodbye to him and support my grandmother and the rest of the family and receive their support in return.

It’s for the best, it really is. And that helps it hurt less, I think, but it still hurts an awful lot.

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

My mother is in Vermont right now visiting her parents and has been for the last 3 ½ weeks. She comes home Saturday. I grew up going to Vermont every summer for at least two weeks, sometimes longer. Getting there is a full day of travel. We'd always get up early in the morning and go to Stapleton, later DIA, to catch the first flight. After a layover, usually in Chicago, we'd end up in Burlington or Manchester, and then have to drive two hours (now one and a half since they raised the speed limit) to South Strafford, a town of about 900 people. The entrance to their driveway is 1.48 miles up a steep and winding dirt road; in the summer it's fine, but in winter or mud season (early spring when the snow melts and turns the road to muck), it can be impassable without four-wheel-drive. We know it's 1.48 miles because a few years ago someone (the state? The county? I have no idea) decided that people on their road should have addresses and 148 became my grandparents'.

I loved going to Vermont. My aunt and uncle and four cousins lived on the land next to my grandparents, and we were back and forth between the houses all day long. Both had ponds that we were in and out of constantly, swimming, catching frogs and salamanders, playing water games. We'd often put on swim suits when we got up and not take them off till bedtime. I remember days that the water was as warm as bathwater, when steam would rise off it first thing in the morning as the early morning chill and the warm water collided.

My sister and I were the youngest of the cousins. I was a year younger than my youngest cousin and Amy four years younger than me. We played with Annika and Jesse mostly; Sarah and Caitlin were the big girls, way older and with their own lives but still lots of fun when they were around. When we'd go to Coburns, the town store, with my grandmother, often someone would look at us two little blond girls and say that we must be related to those Hawkins girls. We were proud to be recognizable, proud to be part of the town in some small way.

As we got older, we spent hours reading, book after book, some from the Hawkins' house and some from the tiny town library that was only open two half-days a week. When we ran out of books from the South Strafford library, we started going to the library in Hanover, 30 minutes away. Our grandmother would check out dozens of books for us on her card.

My grandfather used to be a photographer. Half-naked pictures of us as little girls are on their walls, running past the pond, playing in the sand. When I was little, I didn't care that we were half-naked; as I got older, I did. I got older again and stopped caring again.

My grandmother always had pints of Ben and Jerry's in the freezer. Because they were only an hour from the factory, Coburns got the Ben & Jerry's seconds, pints with chunks that were too big or too few, anything that didn't meet standards. Every night after dinner we'd choose a flavor for dessert. Sometimes we'd have ice cream several times a day. It was summer.

In college and years after, I'd take the train or the bus, or occasionally fly, to Vermont for long weekends – Columbus Day, Thanksgiving, Easter. My grandparents were getting older; my grandfather started forgetting the last time he'd seen me. I saw them three or four times a year, taking friends up with me sometimes. We'd go to the Ben and Jerry's factory, admire the scenery, go out for pancakes with real maple syrup. I saw the Vermont foliage, frozen ponds, spring flowers for the first time after eighteen years of summers.

The last time I was in Vermont was last summer. We went for a long weekend, for a beautiful wedding that did not become a beautiful marriage. My grandparents are no longer getting older. Now they are older. My grandfather's memory floats, and sometimes he seems better, and sometimes he doesn't know who I am. My grandmother takes care of him and will not move into an assisted living facility until she has to because she knows that the beauty of their surroundings is about all my grandfather can still appreciate on a daily basis. They met Ben and my grandmother told me she liked him. I don't think my grandfather will ever see Ben again. I don't know that I will ever see my grandfather again. I send them cards to tell them I love them, and I hope to get out there again in the relatively near future, but I don't know when that will be.

Friday, July 01, 2005

Goodbye, Sandra Day

Back in April, Governor Bill Owens vetoed a bill that would have required hospitals to give information about Emergency Contraception to rape victims when they’re treated in emergency rooms.

Today in Colorado, NARAL Pro-Choice Colorado and Planned Parenthood of the Rocky Mountains have joined forces to offer free EC to anyone who wants it. One day only, at any Colorado Planned Parenthood location.

It’s a great idea – not something I myself am especially concerned about personally, but something that I think should be accessible to all, without a prescription, because why the hell not?

Opponents of EC (and the FDA, when they refused to approve OTC sale of Plan B) claim that teenagers, especially younger ones, wouldn’t be able to take the drug safely. Riiiiiiiight…..that’s what it’s about. Boy, lucky teenagers can’t buy any other OTC drugs that could cause a problem if someone were to take too much. Like Nyquil. Or aspirin. Or Benedryl. Sure is lucky we card for those.

So today, you can go to Planned Parenthood, get a prescription for EC and get a free dose. It’s a good day for reproductive rights in Colorado.

Except that Sandra Day O’Connor announced her resignation from the Supreme Court today. Making it a really, really fucking shitty day for reproductive rights nationally.

O’Connor was a moderate, and often a deciding vote in an increasingly split Supreme Court. She made decisions I didn’t always agree with, but she also made decisions I did. Clarence Thomas and Antonin Scalia, not so much. Those are the two justices that Bush admires most.

He’s not going to nominate a moderate. He’s not going to nominate someone who might even occasionally break ranks with the super conservatives.

I fear for our country. I fear for the future of reproductive rights.

Over 1,500 soldiers have died in Iraq. That’s a terrible, terrible thing and nothing will ever make that matter any less, nothing will ever make that even the slightest bit okay. But if abortion is criminalized again, if Roe v. Wade is reversed, if we go back to back-alley abortions, coat-hangers, desperate trips to Mexico…it won’t take too long before that many women die in an attempt to keep control over their bodies and their futures. That sounds alarmist. I know. But I think it’s true.

It’s been 32 years since Roe v. Wade was passed. Most women I know – most PEOPLE I know – weren’t even born when abortion was illegal. It’s always been an option, not a good one, but a god-forbid kind of option. I hope people understand the threat we’re under. I hope people are ready to fight.

Because a battle is coming.

And it’s not going to be pretty.