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Thursday, March 29, 2012

Let's Start Weaving

I dreamed about my father last night. I don't often do that. Last night he seemed exasperated with me. He did not speak. He was wearing a sweat shirt: a track suit kind of thing. He seemed thin. Tired. If he had spoken he might have said: "When will you just get it?"

The 29th anniversary of his death came and went. January 28th . It was also my brother's birthday.

There was a note in the dream. I remember the name Joaquin written on it. It had to do with my dad and his death. Some words were high-lighted. It was hand written. The paper was lined and rumpled.

I wish I remembered what was was written there. Seems important.

Later in the dream school buses moved slowly in front of me. I was driving a car. I was alone. The buses were lining up. One almost cut me off in my car as it entered the line to get off the ramp.
The buses were spit shine clean; empty. It was night. They all had on their right turn signals. They must have, I thought, been ending their runs.

I continued following my dad as he drove down a road with an expanse of dull green and brown brush on both sides. No houses or farms. No poles or wires. Just the road, my dad in the car in front of me and me following behind.

The sun was coming up in front of us.

I followed my dad into the rising sun. I thought for some reason, we were in Texas.

I did not catch up to him. Perhaps I was not meant to. Perhaps he was simply leading me (with some exasperation!) to a place he knew I needed to be.

But honestly Dad, TEXAS?!

I've written about my dad's and my robust singing about a señorita named Felina and our fascination with her. Our rural Ohio living room would turn into Rosa's cantina upon the first strum of my dad's guitar. I'd take a breath and off we'd go. We didn't need an airplane to transport us--at least for the duration of that song--to dusty old El Paso.

My delight as a young girl to freely let fly words of a song my dad had taught me brings a smile to my face as I write. Wheezer Werner, my dad,was a wonderful man. My delight then was his delight as well. My memories of my dad, our family, and that very special time and place --Mt. Cory, Ohio,mid 50's- mid-60's--is now the firm foundation from which I address life's challenges.

I thank God for that foundation for there are many challenges.

It's not difficult for me then to stay away from the ennui and sarcasm I see all around me. I see it. I see some of us--whether we are 10 or 70--treating each other disrespectfully. I don't. I work hard at treating people with respect. If I feel my eyes rolling; if I feel my lungs filling with air to be exhaled as a resigned sigh, I take that as a sign to do better--or maybe to apologize.

My dad seemed to come by respect--giving and receiving--naturally. Thankfully, I am meeting people, sometimes when I am feeling desperate, who either have that quality naturally or, like me, have it through lots of practice. I like hanging out with those people.

As I write I think of adults in my life who I respect. It occurs to me now that there are children in my life who I also respect. Very much. I respect my daughter. She is, by all accounts, a good friend. People like her; people her age and mine.

I respect my son. He's a good friend too. He has fun at no one's expense. He's popular with people his age and mine. He's popular because people can be themselves with him. They don't have to pretend to be anything they are not. They get to relax with my son; an 11 year old person on the planet.

I respect Bryan. He's an eighth grade boy who fights. He doesn't want to fight when he gets mad. That's a great first step. Bryan and three other boys hung out with me last week. We talked about what it means to be "powerful." Bryan is beginning, I believe, to understand that reacting to others' mocking disrespect takes his power away. He also gets how difficult it's going to be to change.

I saw him ponder this new concept. I saw his brow push together as his hand came to his chin. I saw him slightly shake his head--once, twice-- and then the boys and I heard him ask this,"Are you saying Ms. Werner, that I have to fight myself instead of fighting others?"

I saw the other boys look at him. He had our rapt attention in that moment.

I respect many adults too. For example, I respect Dave Lawrence. Dave is the chairperson for a magnificent initiative called The Children's Movement of Florida. Dave and The Children's Movement are already transforming the lives of families throughout the state of Florida. I think that's great.
But that's not why I respect him.

I respect Dave for the same reasons I respect my daughter and my son. Dave's nice. He's a good friend. People like him. With him people do not have to pretend. They can be just who they are.

My respect for Dave is growing much like my respect for Bryan. Dave, like Bryan, ponders new concepts. They both understand change is not easy.

Dave doesn't scream, yell or fight. I respect that. Bryan does and doesn't want to. I respect that too.

My dad would tell me respect is earned. I used to think that meant earned over many years. Maybe not. Maybe respect is a tangible thing to be given and received in moments of time. Maybe those moments of time, when woven together, make the strong fabric of a home, school or community. 

Respect doesn't guarantees alignment of ideas and beliefs. Respect means sharing our different ideas and beliefs without rancor and anger.

I think maybe that's a little of why I dreamed about my dad. In spite of the meanness of many, Wheezer Werner was a kind man. I know, at least, that my dream led me to these musings about him and the values his and my mother's respectful example set for me and for my brother.

But honestly, dad, did you have to take me to Texas to learn that?!

5:53 am edt          Comments

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