Tag Archives: womensharing

Sadhvi Shares: In Memoriam from my friend Sarvananda

SARVANANDA & HIS FATHER

In Memoriam: Lieutenant-Colonel Nathan B. Bluestone, M.D.

On August 26, 1948, Nathan B. Bluestone, M.D. ended his suffering that began four years earlier on the fields of France. My father was a country doctor. His love was medicine and he tended to the ill and wounded. It was his calling. In the small upstate New York town where he practiced he delivered babies in the office house where we lived. He drove out to remote farms to give the five daughters of a farmer their vaccinations. He healed broken bones and cut foreheads. But nothing prepared him for the slaughter that he encountered after he landed with the fourth wave at Normandy in June 1944.

My experience of the war was my father’s absence. He would send my mother and me funny little letters that would have sections blacked out. This was V-mail. I always thought it was strange that other people would read my father’s letters to me. But the censors did read them and blocked out areas that they felt were sensitive to national security or something.

He wrote me a continuing story about a friendly amoeba. There even were illustrations. In later years, when I visited India, I found it strange that people feared amoebas as much as they did.

 

.

To my mother and aunts and grandparents he sent letters and watercolors. He was an artist as well as a physician and would, in those rare moments when he had a minute or two, paint a watercolor of where he was. We cherished those postcard size pictures painted with love, for they were not only beautiful but they represented a part of the artist that could not be expressed in words.

Then, for what seemed to be an eternity, we heard nothing. No letters came. No pictures came. Nothing came. And with each day my mother became more and more distraught.

This was the time when the Germans made a desperate attempt to counterattack the American forces. The German forces under the command of Field Marshall Gerd von Runstedt had encircled the American forces centered at Ardennes, France. This was the Battle of the Bulge. And for over a month, during the bitter winter, American and German soldiers slaughtered each other. Nineteen thousand American soldiers died. Six armies locked in battle in the coldest winter on record. Over a million men fought in what was to be recorded as the worst battle of World War II.

Torn, ripped, cut and blown apart, young men passed through the field hospital that my father headed. It was X-ray after X-ray after X-ray. It was an assembly line of death and dying. There was no time for the physicians to protect themselves from the deadly radiation. And it was this radiation that caused the skin cancer that later was to take my father’s life.

.
.

 

When he returned from that war I was six years old. My father rarely spoke to me about that war, only once, that I remember, to joke that he had a rifle in the back of his jeep and that’s where it stayed. He was a healer, not a killer. He even received a Bronze Star for bravery and never told me what he did. It was half a century later, when my brother and I were cleaning out my mother’s house that I found the citation from the Major General to my father and the reasons. My father received the Bronze Star for his service tending to the wounded from France through Belgium and Germany, often on the front lines under enemy fire. He was a lieutenant-colonel. He was chief of surgery. And he went to the front lines, not as a hero, but as a healer. He knew that, for a wounded soldier, the journey from the front lines to the field hospital could mean the difference between life and death. He was just doing his job.

My memories of Dr. Nathan Bluestone are fragmentary and impressionistic. Mostly I remember how we would sing together in the car, my father and I. “I’ve Got Sixpence”, “Someone’s in the Kitchen with Dinah” and rounds and rounds.

Much later a psychic told me that my father had been deeply wounded by his inability to heal in the face of such overwhelming carnage. His soul, as much as his body, had been gravely affected. That rings true.

MY FRIEND, SARVANANDA

We moved back into the office house and my father continued the practice that he had left four years earlier. But the cancer, first on his finger, spread and slowly, he began to die. Bit by bit the doctors cut away my father. First they took his finger. Then they took his right breast. And then he died.

It has been almost sixty-five years since my father died. I have grown far from that nine year old boy who couldn’t understand why such a thing was possible. And yet, after all this time, I still cry at the loss.
.

On this day each year we are called upon to remember those who have died in the service of their country. Politicians give speeches, flags are unfurled and hot dogs are consumed.

What we tend to forget is what General William Tecumseh Sherman once reminded a group of young men. “War is hell.” And the hell is for the living, for those who survive the deaths of their beloveds as much as it is for those who die on the fields of battle or in the hospitals.

What we tend to forget is that war leaves lots of fatherless sons and daughters. Today, for example, thousands of American and Iraqi and Afghani sons and daughters will grow up without their fathers and mothers. And for what?

What we tend to forget are the children who are left behind. We forget that fifty years from now there will be adults who still grieve for the loss of a father or a mother–who still cry at the remembrance. Let us truly remember.

Sadhvi Sez: It’s National Book Week

SADHVI

It’s National Book Week.  Or that is what I was told by a friend on Facebook.  I thought it was a fun 2 minute diversion to an otherwise hectic day.

The rules: Grab the closest book to you.  Go to page 56.  Copy the 5th sentence.  Don’t mention the book.  Pass it along.

“Every woman wants to kill the husband – it is another matter that she does not kill him – because if she kills him, what will she do?”

*Note: I know this quote seems strange, but just so you know, I was feeling overwhelmed and my husband was adding to the mix; so when I picked a random book from the shelf, and read this  quote I had to laugh!  I am not a violent person, and I wasn’t thinking to kill him either. Enjoy!

SADHVI'S MEXICAN TORCHFLOWER

Paying for a College Education in this Country

JANE
Allow me to rant.  I don’t know how many of you out there are in my same boat:  approaching 60 years old but nowhere near retirement, due, in large part, to student loan debt!  When I was younger, in my early days of working, I always imagined that when I was approaching 60, I’d  be winding down, getting ready to do projects like putting old pictures into albums or organizing my closet. But here I am, 57 years old, and, instead of picking out a retirement village or planning a cruise down the Nile, I’m putting in my 40 hours a week and, even with that, trying to figure out how we’re going to pay tuition for another 9 years—at a minimum—for our 3 kids who are still in college!

Here’s our story, but all you have to do is change the small details and you’re hearing the story of lots of so-called “middle class” people in America: my husband and I both attended graduate school using student loans.  Since we married fairly late—and, as a result, had kids fairly quickly—and therefore couldn’t earn as much as we might have if we’d gotten an earlier start on things—we  couldn’t pay off those student loans until we were well into our forties.  So, about the time we got completely free of our own student loan debt, we had only a few years before we had to take on new debt to help our kids go to college.  And why did we have to take on that new debt?  Because we made enough income at that point to not qualify for the kind of financial aid that could have made it possible for us to do it without loans.  In fact, we would have had to live at or near the poverty level to qualify for that kind of financial aid!

THE COLLEGE DILEMMA

And, in case you’re wondering: the debt is pretty much the same, no matter where your kids go to school—unless he/she qualifies for a few amazing scholarships that are out there for the straight-A kids who play six instruments and five sports and started their own non-profit while in the 9th grade!  The fancy private schools offer great financial aid, if they have good endowments—but that only brings down their massive tuition to the same level as the public schools—and the public schools offer only minimal financial aid.  We’ve had kids at a big public university and at two small, liberal arts colleges—and the bill has, in each case, been about the same.

 

I have to say: it’s not hard to envision a time when our colleges, especially fancy private ones like Yale or Princeton or Duke or Davidson, will have as their student body a mix of only extremely wealthy kids, whose parents can pay their way, and extremely poor kids on scholarship. It’s happening!

 

Continue reading Paying for a College Education in this Country