Category Archives: Relationships

In Memory of Gwendie Camp: 1941-2016

Gwendie in the cloudsOops 50 lost a dear friend last week, when Gwendie Camp finally succumbed to the cancer that cast a shadow over her life for nine years.  When first diagnosed, she was told she had very little time left, maybe six months to a year.  Nine years later, she died.  If there was ever a model for how to keep living with grace in the face of certain death, it was our Gwendie.  During those nine years, she lived life to the fullest: damn the torpedoes, full speed ahead.  She moved from Asheville to Florida, to be closer to her son, Jonathan, and his family, especially her darling granddaughter, Daisy.  She used her amazing brain to research all her treatment options, and she was willing to try anything to take a chance on getting better.  She worked with Jonathan on a small business out of her apartment in Florida, selling books online.  She even started her own ETSY site to sell the little knickknacks she had accumulated over the years.  She wrote insightful pieces for her own blog and for us. She had several of those pieces published. She celebrated birthdays with enjoyment and food.  She played her grand piano.  She enjoyed her cats. She visited with friends and family.  She laughed with her friends.  She kept her fabulous sense of humor right to the end. In June of 2010, she even took a ride with her friend, Barb, in a hot air balloon and shared the experience with our readers. This picture from that day sums up Gwendie’s approach to life, and it is how we imagine her now, floating somewhere up in the clouds, happy to be experiencing a new adventure, smiling and smiling.  As a last tribute to our dear friend, we are sharing her obituary with our readers, so that you get a full view of this amazing, wonderful woman.

To read some of Gwendie’s wonderful contributions to this blog, just type Gwendie into the Search button!  I especially like the piece from May 7, 2010 about her grandbaby! Jane

The body of Martha Gwendolyn Roberts Duncan Camp, known to all as “Gwendie,”  breathed its last on Thursday, April 7, 2016 in Ft. Lauderdale, FL, in the presence of several loved ones. The essence of Gwendie escaped to the unknown and unfathomable, available now to us through memories, photographs,  her writings, and various of her “precious things.”

Gwendie was born on July 3, 1941 in Ft. Pierce, Florida to Minnie Lou Hunter Roberts, a farmer’s daughter, and Joseph Lee Roberts, Jr., a fisherman’s son, and thus was raised with a love of and appreciation for Mother Nature. She was also raised to be honest and true, hard-working and generous, and with a love for reading and music.  Despite the modest amounts of money and opportunity available to her, Gwendie was encouraged and mentored by teachers and others who saw to it that she could go to Florida State University with assistance from the Southern Scholarship Foundation.  Due partly to the era in which Gwendie attended college, and mostly to her egalitarian instincts, she left FSU with a strong commitment to civil rights and to “women’s liberation.”  (She still regrets that the ERA amendment to the Constitution never passed.)  Both of these passions played into the choices she made later in life and into the people she chose as friends.

Serendipity often seemed present in Gwendie’s life, especially in relation to her education (BS, MS, PhD from Florida State University), her professional careers (science educator, medical school administrator, educational ambassador for problem-based learning, to mention several) and her geography (Fort Pierce, Tallahassee, Iowa City, Winston-Salem, Galveston, Asheville, Ft. Lauderdale, to cite the long stays).  In her retirement, the discovery of her ability to tell a story in writing stemmed from her chance reading in the newspaper of a special course on writing for “women of a certain age.”  (See examples at her blog:  www.gwendiesblog.blogspot.com).

Her earlier training and experiences were useful in her last years as she learned to live with metastatic breast cancer and the consequences of its treatment.  Her ability to adapt and adjust was admired by many, and she was willing to accommodate to the disease until she could no longer live comfortably and independently.  That is when she let go and let Mother Nature have her way.

Gwendie is survived by her beloved son, Jonathan Hunter Camp (Irena Kandel), and granddaughter Daisy Leona Camp, of Ft. Lauderdale, FL; her sister Mary Roberts Landgraf (John) of Orlando, FL, her niece Kimberly Landgraf of Boulder, CO, ex-husband Larry Camp of Tallahassee, FL, step-daughter D’Laine Camp of Rotterdam, The Netherlands, step-son David Camp of Barcelona, Spain, an aunt and numerous cousins, most of whom are Florida natives.  She also leaves behind a large number of far-flung friends, including international friends made during her professional career and a special crew of women friends in her favorite spot – Asheville, NC.

Gwendie suggested that, if desired, memorial donations be made to the Southern Scholarship Foundation, 322 Stadium Drive, Tallahassee, FL 32304.

 

I Talked to My Mother This Week

It has been a while since our readers have heard anything from us!  Sorry!  We hope to do better in 2016. First -time grandmotherhood for Jane and a job change for Annice made things a little crazy!I  But, here we go again!  Welcome back to Oops50, which should really be called Oops60 at this point, but we are fond of the original name!  Here’s Jane’s first post for the new year.  And, please, send us your posts!

Jane
Jane

I talked to my mother the other day.  The only reason that is worth mentioning is that my mother is dead. Here is how it happened.  I was driving by myself on a fairly long road trip—the perfect circumstance for me to think too much about things that are worrying me—and I realized that I was feeling overwhelmingly sad.  I just had one of those awful, down-to-your-toes sadnesses, and the first thought that came in my head was “I wish I could talk to Mama right now.”  That thought made me even sadder because one thing I miss more than anything since her death is the ability to pick up the phone and talk to her about things—bad and good—that happen in my life.  But then, I had this thought:  ‘why not just talk to her now?’  And then I entered this very strange place where I imagined myself dialing her number (since most of my conversations with her happened over our land line and not by cell phone!), and then I had a conversation with her.

First, I apologized for not calling in so long, and then I launched right in to telling her about everything that was on my mind. And, the next thing you know, I was crying—just like the old days.  I talked and talked and cried and cried, about every last little thing that was bothering me, and as I talked and cried, I felt the muscles around my heart start to loosen up, and I could feel myself start to breathe a little easier, and I realized how much tension and worry I had been holding in.  And then—and this is the really remarkable thing about it—I felt that tremendous sense of release and relief that I used to feel when Mama would say something as basic as “I hate for you to be feeling this way, darling” or, her standard, “Get some rest, and I know you will feel better.”  It was as if Mama, from across the miles and years and clouds or whatever is between us had said, “Everything is going to be all right,” and, wonder of wonders, I believed her.  And, for the rest of the day—and even now, a few days later, I’m still feeling the effect. 

My family of origin!  Mama's in the middle, with me to her left.
My family of origin! Mama’s in the middle, with me to the left, back row.

I have to say:  I’m glad I was on a road trip when this happened and not driving down a street of my town.  No one could see me or overhear me, so they couldn’t accuse me of losing my mind and hanging out with ghosts.  But I had this urge to share this experience on the blog because I highly recommend it to those of you have a mother who has moved on to her reward:  give her a call sometime!

Becoming a Grandmother: Part Two

Aven and grandma

As some of you may have noticed, I have been absent from the blog lately. I confess I have not had the energy or the life spirit to write. I wasn’t able to put my finger on the problem until a few nights ago, when I realized that I have been suffering  from the only downside of becoming a grandmother to Aven: an inability to stop thinking about the future and about the terrible world we are passing on to those coming after us.

I can see now that I  must have adjusted somewhere along the way, without even knowing it,  to the fact that my children will, at some point, be living without me in a world full of problems–or I’ve just been so busy being a parent that I didn’t have that much time to ponder! Or I have taken comfort from the fact that I have  at least had the privilege to watch our four grow into adults, and so I know they are strong and loving people and that they will, in any case, have the good sense to hold onto the ones they love  for strength during bad times.

But Aven is so little, so fresh, so vulnerable.  I look at her, and I remember what my Uncle Jack once said about another new baby in the family:  “Even her little insides are all bright and shining.”  I look at her, and I get angry.  I can’t help but wonder why in the world things are so damn difficult for people?  Why in the world can’t we stop all this mess and create together a world that is better and safer for children?

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I can’t stand to listen to the news.  I try, every now and then, thinking I can handle it, but then I hear another story about young girls being stolen off into the woods of Nigeria or about some German guy deciding to fly a plane into the ground, killing a whole class full of students coming home from an exchange program abroad, and I have to switch off the dial.

I do not know how to come to terms with things like ISIS or climate change when I consider even the possibility that such things could, at any point, become real for Aven.  It was easier before because I could think, “well, at least my friends and my sisters and even my children will all die before the polar caps melt” or “well, we’ve all survived so far with terrorists in the world, so maybe we can hold out a little longer.”

But now, Aven is here, and so the time span for my worry has lengthened.  There is this precious little creature in the world with her mama’s eyes who, at the very least, will have to hear about all the future, unimaginably terrible things that will happen–that’s if she’s lucky and doesn’t have to experience them firsthand!

Lizzie and Aven
Lizzie and Aven

 

I haven’t had much luck turning to religion for comfort, so I turn to poetry.   I keep thinking about Yeats’ poem,  “The Second Coming.”  He was writing about a totally different time in history, but he could so easily be writing about today.  I won’t say this poem is uplifting, but it is strangely comforting to me because he wrote it so long ago, and yet he expresses the way I feel lately about the world we live in, especially about all the evil currently being carried out in the name of religion!  Forgive me if I quote the whole thing, but, when I read this poem, I think to myself two things:  1) maybe things aren’t as bad as I thought, since Yeats thought the world was going to hell in a hand basket, and yet we’ve muddled along for almost 100 years since then!  and 2) “I bet Yeats was worrying about his grandchildren when he wrote it!”

Turning and turning in the widening gyre   
The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere   
The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
The best lack all conviction, while the worst   
Are full of passionate intensity.

 

Surely some revelation is at hand;
Surely the Second Coming is at hand.   
The Second Coming! Hardly are those words out   
When a vast image out of Spiritus Mundi
Troubles my sight: somewhere in sands of the desert   
A shape with lion body and the head of a man,   
A gaze blank and pitiless as the sun,   
Is moving its slow thighs, while all about it   
Reel shadows of the indignant desert birds.   
The darkness drops again; but now I know   
That twenty centuries of stony sleep
Were vexed to nightmare by a rocking cradle,   
And what rough beast, its hour come round at last,   
Slouches towards Bethlehem to be born?
yeats

 

 

Teaching Children Compassion

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Welcome to Marianne, a new contributor to our blog!!!
Hello, I am a mom to an incredibly compassionate nine year old. I had my daughter at 44 years old. She is the love of my life!  I love to write, paint, and bake vegan treats. But my true love lies in animal rescue and teaching compassion for animals to children.

Compassion is not the same as sympathy, empathy or altruism, although each plays a part. The compassionate person feels the suffering of another and takes positive steps to alleviate that suffering.  During his talks, the Dalai Lama emphasizes how important it is for children to experience compassion from their parents or caregivers, from birth. 
True compassion is being highly attuned to your children’s needs and accepting them for the unique people they are.  From birth, compassion is something that can be taught and developed. And the earlier, the better!

Model Compassion:
 Show compassion towards your child and towards others. 
 From the start, every child needs to feel loved and secure in order to thrive. Their needs have to be respected, if we expect them to respect others.  Security comes from knowing that they can count on their parents or caregivers. It comes from knowing that they will be listened to, taken seriously and protected. We must love our children unconditionally and recognize them as the unique beings they are.

Children must also learn to be responsible for their own actions. However, parents and caregivers are very influential in determining how a child acts. Children watch carefully how their parents and other adults treat each other. By modeling compassion towards others, you are teaching them what you value.


This is also true with how we treat our pets and other animals. Your children have watched you closely from birth and are so attuned to your feelings, that they can look at your face and know instantly what you are feeling!  Never yell at your pets, call them names or hit them. Most people who have pets know this and love them and treat them as part of the family.   Your children will learn how to treat your family’s pets with compassion and love, if you model that behavior for them. Show them the correct way to speak to a pet, gently pet them and care for their needs. Show them by doing.

All animal lovers know how to treat a pet, most likely because they grew up in a loving home, with parents who modeled compassionate behavior towards animals. Teaching kindness and respect for animals is the first step in teaching children compassion.

My nine year old daughter with our dog, ChiChi and volunteering at the Bucks County S.P.C.A

On Turning Fifty-One By Glenis Redmond

What a treat for oops50 to have Glenis Redmond (poet – teaching artist – imagination activist) write a post for us.  We’ve  been secretly waiting for Glenis to turn 50, and before we knew it, she turned 51.

Glenis Redmond
Glenis Redmond

Who’s counting? Obviously the world is and everyday it speaks with many mouths and many television and internet eyes that reflect the many ways that I will never measure up.

When I am out of sync with myself and not aligned to my own stars, I take this projection personally.  I listen to the critique and the opinions of the vapid.  I down the chatter like greasy fast food. The poison enters my bloodstream and spreads so I don’t know where I begin and the toxicity ends.

This is when I fall prey to counting the ways that I don’t measure up: the number of crow’s feet around my eyes, the pounds on the scale, the dollars I have or do not have in the bank and my lovers or lack thereof.

I know better than to succumb to this useless counting of what is wrong, but I always adopt a myopic vision that is destructive to my spiritual and creative being.  When I am in my holistic mindset I only count what’s right.  So here is my list of what I know to be true on turning fifty-one.

  1. Drinking tea makes me a better woman. The power is in the sipping of: Egyptian Mint, Ginger or Green Tea.  The healing is in the slowing down to savor the moment.  When I take time to drink a cup of tea at home or in my hotel room before I start my day of work. This mark indicates that I am on my mark. This ritual fills my gauge to full.
  2. Fortunately and unfortunately I am not always on my mark. I don’t always stop to drink tea. I rush and get ahead of myself, because I am both a Dreamer & a Doer
  3. The doer sometimes dominates the dreamer-poet.
  4. The pros? I get things done.
  5. Check the map and my odometer that teeters close to 350,000-miles.
  6. I have performed and facilitated poetry workshops in every state except Alaska, Maine, North Dakota, South Dakota, Utah and Idaho.
  7. Travel does not always allow for my roots to sink deep.
  8. I yearn for deepness:
  9. South Carolina, my birthplace
  10. I am from South Carolina, but not totally of South Carolina.
  11. My family’s military trek made sure of that.
  12. This makes me a seeker. I cross over man-made boundaries on the regular. Traveling is part of my vibration.  I am served and fed well by crossing regional and cultural boundaries.
  13. Collecting both rocks and stories ground me.
  14. I always come back to my roots: South Carolina
  15. The cons of my traveling? My mind races too. I rarely slow down.
  16. My body is having its say by forcing me to slow down.
  17. I have Adrenal Fatigue bordering on Adrenal Failure.
  18. I do not sleep. I do not rest.
  19. I often feel like a stranger.
  20. I’m Bi-Carolinian.
  21. North Carolina is where I gained my poetic wings.
  22. There’s no Tiger or Tarheel in me. Ironically, orange and Carolina blue are my two favorite colors.
  23. I wish I cared who was in the playoffs. I just don’t.
  24. I was a cheerleader in high school and I did not care then about the sport on the field or court, I just loved being with the crowd: dancing and cutting flips feeling the high vibrations of people’s spirits.
  25. I’m still a cheerleader. I’m an imagination activist. I help people to unlock their imaginations.  We talk of what matters.  Then, I tell them to write.
  26. I found that when I was twelve what mattered to me:
  27. I find solace and comradeship in good books – stories of overcoming. People who have traveled to their inner space and written about it: Zora Neal Hurston, Frida Kahlo, Maya Angelou, Wangari Maathai and many more — generally stories of women. I study on how they have traveled this rugged terrain.
  28. There’s struggle to being a woman.
  29. I overcome those obstacles daily. What woman doesn’t?
  30. I was born a feminist – womanist, yet I’m a lover of men unapologetically. I do not see the two as mutually exclusive. I love being a woman.
  31. My mom is my best friend. Politically and religiously we are of two different ilks, but we have similar cores: Love!  She is my touchstone.
  32. My mama bought me an orange bike with turquoise rims for my 51st She gets me if not left of centered views. She says, “ride Glenis.”
  33. The color orange in all its incarnations gives me life.
  34. I’m a pacifist at all cost, yet I do not suffer fools lightly. I get this from my dad: Johnny C. Redmond
  35. I am a weeper, but a warrior.
  36. I was born into poverty.
  37. I stand for the underdog. I was the underdog.
  38. I still sometimes have an impoverished mindset.
  39. Therefore, but by the grace of God go I.
  40. I am not defined by my challenges.
  41. My spirit radiates all colors.
  42. I’m spirit-rich.
  43. I’m a traveler
  44. Places I want to travel: Cameroon, Nigeria, Bahia, Ireland, Scotland, Wales and the English countryside.
  45. I’m Afro-Carolinian. I love to dance: tribal, interpretative and funk.
  46. It is my prayer – the way I talk with God.
  47. I love to walk. I work out my worries with each step.
  48. I don’t consider myself old, just an old soul.
  49. YOLO rolls off the tongue (You Only Live Once) not mine, because I have been here before many times. I recognize lands and people from other eras.
  50. I was an old soul when I was born, therefore turning fifty-one does not faze me. Yes, getting older has its challenges, but also being a person diagnosed with fibromyalgia at twenty-nine years does, too. Everyday I get out of bed is a challenge, yet it is also a victory.
  51. My daughters, Amber and Celeste, are the most precious metal of my inner circle. They make the bright ring in my life glow with pride and joy. Now my grandson has joined this golden lineage. Oh yeah, I write poems. Here is my latest poem for my grandson.  Julian teaches me everyday how to meditate on goodness and not on the standards by which the world measures me and finds me lacking.  He has been here before and he is wise.  I listen. Like tea, love makes me a better woman.  Here is the poem I wrote for my grandson.

 

Glenis and twin daughters Amber & Celeste
Glenis and twin daughters Amber & Celeste

 

Grandma Waterfall for Julian Josiah Priester      

My status has been upgraded
from mom to grandma–
who knew the heart morphed
into more?
I should have known the moment,
when my heart shape shifted,
when I gave birth to twins
two decades and five years ago:
from stream into raging river,
from the weakest trickle into a force of nature.glenisGrandmawaterfall

There’s no parent handbook
that foretold of the more I would become.
I looked into my inner pond
and I could see I had become more alive with giving.
I wanted to stay on earth
with the territory of my heart expanded –
pushing west with poetry and purpose:
the frontier of becoming mama
packing lunches and endless carpools
to school and soccer,
tucking babies into bed
and growing girls into beautiful women –
artists people with pen and brush
ready to right the world.

Now, to you the first son of our family
you have made me grand
the only royalty I will ever know:
a grand waterfall unable to contain what I hold.

A treasure : Julian Josiah
10 fingers: starlit
10 two toes: eager squiggles
cheeks: squishy pockets

earned you the nickname: The chipmunk gnome.
Your eyes: lit with the deepest shine, déjà vu remembrance.
Your birth weight: 9 lbs. 3 oz.
You’ll carry what’s been passed on: the walk of the ancestors.
This legacy also a burden,
but your legs will be sturdy
and worthy of the task
like Yusef Komunyakaa writes:
You were born
to wear out at least
one hundred angels.
Like Maya Angelou penned
You come as one but stand as ten thousand.
You will carry this load with wisdom
and an undeterred stride.

Julian, all is possible with you.
Unflinchingly I will sing
of the more I want to give you
what John Lennon dreamed
imagine there’s not countries
it is not hard to do
nothing to kill or die for…
Imagine all the people living life as one.

Julian I am a dreamer
it is all that have: the gift of my imagination.
Pour into these waters little boy
brother, son and grandson of the Universe
flow into this world
with dreams better
than the one I/WE are
handing to you.

I am here as Grandma Waterfall
also an eagle watching over you
with the lesson of water ever ready
gently guiding you to find your own flow
from black boy to black man
like Langston Hughes wrote,
I hope you’ll dream a world
where love will bless the earth,
because you are part of that blessing
lighting the world with the brilliance
of what you came to do.

If you’ve never had the pleasure of experiencing Glenis in person, catch her at TEDxGreenville or visit her blog.