“The little voice in your heart must guide you”- my daughter’s letter to her children

The Friday Photo
January 20, 2017
reposted with permission from my daughter McKinsey Cummings

photo credit McKinsey Cummings, Macon, GA, Martin Luther King Jr, Day, January 16, 2017 Chase, 8.5 years old, Ella, 10 years old

An Open Letter  to My Children on MLK Day

4 days prior to the inauguration of He Who Must Not Be Named: I’m sorry. Sorry that the world you were born into is about to change. Sorry that the value I raise you with: honesty, kindness, and fairness to all will not be the values reflected by the head of government in this country. When all this is over you will be teenagers and trying to find your place in the world. You will have heard and witnessed things I would have never thought possible for your generation. I promise I will show you the path of generosity of spirit and deed. And that the little voice in your heart must guide you in the face of overwhelming animosity that is sure to come. #notmypresident #bluedot #notthis

Being Present Redux

I thought the hardest day of 2016 was going to be the morning of November 9th. My eight year old grandson, who said a woman ought to have a chance at being president, called to ask me who won the election. I couldn’t choke back my tears. I guessed the worst thing I would do in 2016 was tell him that I was seeing a world I didn’t want for him.

I was wrong.

Less than a month later my 10 week old grandson, Brayer, suddenly stopped breathing, and his 26-year-old parents made the hard decision to remove him from life support.

Brayer
Brayer (the morning after waking his parents up every hour during the night)

There aren’t many hours left in 2016, but after putting part of  Christmas dinner in the oven on Sunday and walking down to the cemetery to find my daughter and son-in-law sitting by their infant son’s grave, well, 2016, I don’t have anything more to give, and those two young parents don’t either.

As November’s disappointments settled in, and the month of December has crept along, I find myself returning to a commitment I made in 2012, which was a promise to myself, and others, to Be Present in 2013.

As the election season sped up this year, I knew there would be lots of work ahead.  I didn’t think the work would be bare-knuckled battles against the Twitter-length ideas of a man with a really bad comb-over, scary illusions of his abilities, the temperament of a tired three-year old, and a failure to understand that facts are facts, regardless of whether they go along with what you believe or want for yourself.

My calendar has dates marked for Being Present. Events are easy because they require setting time aside in advance. The bigger challenge for me is Being Present in some capacity every day. It means living my values every day, and holding businesses, community leaders. elected officials, and their supporters, responsible for theirs. This is not the time to look away from hate, racism, intolerance, violence, and so many isms.

On November 9th I told my grandson Chase I will do my best to build a better world for his generation. I have to Be Present every day in 2017 to do that work. And in doing so, my hope is that the ragged edges of my heart will begin to mend too.

 

Through a child’s eye

The Friday Photo
December 18, 2015

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photo by Ella Cummings, 8 years old

Last weekend my granddaughter used an old iPhone to take
pictures during our overnight trip to Atlanta. She took this
picture in the Atlanta Botanical Gardens.

Reading your fortune

The Friday Photo
July 3, 2015
 

Lunch today was supposed to be sandwiches and watermelon on some river shoals after paddling about an hour. The weather didn’t cooperate, so we drove back to town for Chinese, and of course, fortune cookies. 

When grandparents are the parents

Last week the Atlanta Journal Constitution reported that Gov Nathan Deal said this about Georgia’s families where children are abused, or worse, murdered,“When was the last time the press or anybody else asked the greater family, ‘Why didn’t you do something about this?’ It really galls me, quite frankly, to see an able-bodied grandparent complaining about the fact that DFACS didn’t do something to protect her grandchildren. And my question is, well, where were you?’ ” (DFACS is the Georgia Department of Family and Children Services).

Where were these grandparents? US Census data from 2012 says this about grandparents and their grandchildren:

Number of grandparents living with grandchildren                    265,530
Percent responsible for grandchildren                                                  46.9
Percent of grandparents  raising  grandchildren for 5+ years          38.8
Percent of households with no parent of grandchild present           32.8
Percent of grandparents over 60 years old                                           34.1
Percent living in poverty in 2011                                                             25.2
Number of households with grandparents and grandchildren   171,939
Percent of all households in Georgia                                                        4.9

Grandparents in Georgia who care for their grandchildren are eligible for a whopping $50 per month from the state of Georgia. Have you priced diapers, day care, or children’s books lately? Fifty dollars doesn’t begin to make a dent in the costs of raising a child.

Single grandparent Deborah Paris, who is raising three grandchildren, told the Columbus Ledger-Enquirer “Our system will pay a foster care parent to take care of children and supply and do what they need for them,” she said. “But me, as a relative or actually grandparent, you give me little to no assistance. … Our system is just awful.”

We need to address multiple problems concerning the welfare of children in our state. Gov Deal shouldn’t begin by making grandparents the scapegoats where the state has failed.

 

Sewing for a Jedi Knight

The Friday Photo
July 11, 2014
Star Wars

I’ve been at a loss as to what I can sew for my grandson. This week I realized I could make a pair of cargo shorts for him. His mother told me if I got Star Wars fabric he would never take them off. We’ll know soon how the Young Jedi Knight likes them.

Spare motor photography

The Friday Photo
A weekly photo celebrating art, spontaneity, and community
August 30, 2013

photo by Ella Cummings-Thompson
photo by Ella Cummings-Thompson

Ella wanted to paddle in my boat on Monday.
She said she would be my spare motor.
She also got to take some pictures.
Her mom is in front of us paddling The Jenny,
the kayak given to me last summer by Jenny Craigie Riffe

Earlier this summer I bought a larger kayak so I can paddle with a spare motor.
I have a feeling that before too Ella will begin building her skills in The Jenny
while an adult holds the throw rope.