American Flag, American Pride, American Sorrow

American Flag

In honor of the lives that were lost in 9/11 and in honor of their family members. It is a tragic loss to have lost lives to this senseless act of violence.

In honor of all the victims who were injured and suffering from this senseless act of violence.

In honor of the emergency personnel and people who helped those who were injured.

In honor of all those emergency personnel who gave their lives to help others.

In honor of the service men and women who have protected us and fought for our freedom. In honor of those that protect us now.

In honor of kindness. In honor of integrity. In honor of hope. In honor of grief. In honor of those with broken hearts who lend their last bandage to mend the broken hearts of others.

In honor of America.

In honor of peace.

In honor.

God bless and good be.


I had a vivid dream last night of my mother telling stories. I was sitting near her, almost on her lap I was so close. I could smell her breath; I could light her cigarette. She was right there. She was wearing her favorite sweatshirt — her Snoopy Kelly green Christmas sweatshirt. She was laughing. She was alive.

Then I had to do something in my dream (I had lost my car keys and needed to get them). When I came back she was gone. I was ready for more stories. There was noone in the lobby of the hotel. Only empty chairs.

My mother was a fabulous story teller. Brew a pot of coffee, grab some smokes and you had entertainment. but beware, there was chain-smoking involved.

I woke this morning next to my three year old son who climbed into our bed last night, out of his firetruck bed that is pushed up against ours.

He was sound asleep. My husband was in the living room enjoying some quiet time before he got ready for work.

I lay there, realizing the dream was a dream. My mother was gone, like in the dream, like in my life.

This feeling, this realization reminded me of another sense of grief — 9/11.

I walked barefoot to the living room across the wood floors. I cuddled with my husband and told him about my dream. I sobbed. I wept. I emptied out buckets of sorrow. My tears were not only for my mother, but also for the families that woke like me — realizing 9/11 was not a dream. It is a reality they have lived for 12 years.


My son grabbed his American flag off the kitchen table, holding it in his hand after he ate blueberry pancakes my husband made. I did not prompt him. He is three.

He wanted to take it to school today, along with a photo of his father. I took the photo at the Lincoln Monument when we were in DC for my mother’s funeral this summer at Arlington National Cemetery.

The National Monument is behind my husband and son in the distance. My son thinks it is a rocket ship.

Flag at Arlington National Cemetary

Flag at Arlington National Cemetery

After we dropped my husband off at work, my son was crying — he did not want to go to school.

So we walked around the exercise track at the hospital park. At 8:15 it was cool. It was calm.

A woman with headphones on said, “Good Morning” to us as she speedwalked past us. My son waved.

He left his flag in the car and brought the photo of his dad and him.

An African-American man dressed in a blue collar bib overalls stopped us on the track and said, ‘What you are doing is real good. I did the same thing with my son and he is an athlete now.”

Ben and I smiled and waved at the man.

Kindness is usually a surprise. It can not be prescribed and given out like lemonade for a quarter. It is priceless and comes to us through strangers, through friends, through loved ones, through prayer.

Through moments we don’t expect.

Ben said he was hungry so we stopped for apples at McDonald’s. He brought his flag inside. The cashier said they were out of apples. Ben said, “Please.”  I complimented his manners. I ordered a yogurt parfait. He put his flag on the table. An older woman with a fedora sat at a table up against the wall to my right.

I recognized this moment at McDonald’s of all places. The news was on mute. I saw the governor of New Jersey and New York. There was a little girl, who must have been a baby or perhaps not even born when her father died. A woman stood next to her. The news was muted. All I could hear was the lack of correct grammar of the not so gentlemen who sat in the next booth over.

America is everywhere in America. And today we remember the people who died on that tragic day.

I was proud of my son. I was proud to be an American. I was proud to be kind.

I love this country.

I love this country.

 National September 11 Memorial

Memomuse Update: July Joy and Sorrow

Hello friends.  I am sorry I have not been keeping you in the loop of what is going on. Although I have been active on Facebook and Twitter, I have been somewhat dormant.  I am working on learning how to use Photoshop so I can upload photos with watermarks and protect my work.  But really all I want to do is share and tell.  I have so many images I want to share but since I have had to deal with photo piracy and I have the tools to watermark them, I feel I should use the tools to watermark images. Except the whole watermarking process puts out my fire and it always feels laborious.

open the door

I am not the most technical person and struggle with left brain waves. I prefer the open ended ocean of the right brain world.

Ocean photo by Megan Oteri Copyright 2011

Ocean photo by Megan Oteri Copyright 2011

I am working on some new posts for all three of my blogs: The Original Journal, The Community Kitchen, and Memomuse.  I have compartmentalized to try to target potential readers better.  I am a bit exhausted from social media though.  I am putting my energy into writing (in Microsoft Word). I get very distracted when I am on the internet.

But here is the 411 for July. We went to Washington D.C. to inurn my mother at Arlington National Cemetery.  She was placed in the same shelf like box (for lack of a better description) in the Columbarium (where people are placed when they are cremated).

My mother and I on my wedding day.

My mother and I on my wedding day.

I will post a detailed post about that as Arlington was very moving.


Columbarium: My parents’ grave

I climbed the ladder and placed my mother’s ashes in the box like shelf, or think of as an ash cubby in a way. I know morbid, but I am just writing, or rather blogging so I am not going to struggle with finding the perfect word/description. The marine who was the pall bearer or ash box holder, was very serious and he marched in typical Arlington fashion. He was very serious.  I guess I am dismissing the seriousness of death, but my mom died Christmas Eve and her inurnment was scheduled in July.  It was a serious affair and very moving, so I am not being flip — just trying to be funny.

The Pastor and Marine who were at my mom's funeral

The Pastor and Marine who were at my mom’s funeral

The marine had the most beautiful blue eyes.  They sparkled even.  As he handed me the urn box with my mom’s heart and ashes in it, I said “Semper Fi.” It was awkward.  I sometimes can be so strange even to myself.

Well, anyway, he handed off Betty and I placed her urn box in with my father’s, making sure they were back to back and their boxes touched.  I dusted off my father’s ten-year old death dust from the top of his box.  That was intense.  Dust to dust.  Anyway, it was moving.  I wrote a descriptive piece about this experience for the SAMLA conference.  I am the chair of the creative nonfiction panel this year. SAMLA will be held in Atlanta this November.

This was taken walking back from the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, which we went to after my mom's funeral

This was taken walking back from the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, which we went to after my mom’s funeral

See, even when I try to write a little update, it turns into a whole lot of words. 

I went to Evanston, Illinois at the end of July for a research trip on a book I am working on: The Community Kitchen. That was amazing.

Another view of this beautiful house.  You can go on tours of the Dawes House.  The Dawes House is the home of the Evanston History Center, where I conducted my research primarily.

Another view of this beautiful house. You can go on tours of the Dawes House. The Dawes House is the home of the Evanston History Center, where I conducted my research primarily.

My mom grew up in New York City, but moved back to Evanston in 1947 with her mom after her parents divorced. I went to Evanston a lot as a child with my parents. Mom took us to visit our grandma and great-aunt often.   A post will be coming soon about my trip to Evanston, either on The Community Kitchen blog or here.  The compartmentalizing is taking its toll on me.  Managing three blogs is a lot of work.  And I take my blog posts serious.  Probably too serious.

The Original Journal had several signings in Evanston. One was a man I met on the airplane.  He likes redheads.  Another signing was a Northwestern chemistry student taking a break in the Shakespeare Garden at Northwestern.  That is the signing I am going to feature on The Original Journal blog.  She wrote a great journal signing.  A couple more journal signatures were done on Northwestern campus.  So, there will be some posts on that blog.

Got to run. I am writing a book after all, so chop chop to it I go.

I will leave you with my mother’s favorite poem by Kahlil Gibran — “On Joy and Sorrow”

On Joy and Sorrow
 Kahlil Gibran

Your joy is your sorrow unmasked.
And the selfsame well from which your laughter rises was oftentimes filled with your tears.
And how else can it be?
The deeper that sorrow carves into your being, the more joy you can contain.
Is not the cup that holds your wine the very cup that was burned in the potter’s oven?
And is not the lute that soothes your spirit, the very wood that was hollowed with knives?
When you are joyous, look deep into your heart and you shall find it is only that which has given you sorrow that is giving you joy.
When you are sorrowful look again in your heart, and you shall see that in truth you are weeping for that which has been your delight.

Some of you say, “Joy is greater thar sorrow,” and others say, “Nay, sorrow is the greater.”
But I say unto you, they are inseparable.
Together they come, and when one sits, alone with you at your board, remember that the other is asleep upon your bed.

Verily you are suspended like scales between your sorrow and your joy.
Only when you are empty are you at standstill and balanced.
When the treasure-keeper lifts you to weigh his gold and his silver, needs must your joy or your sorrow rise or fall.