Monday, September 02, 2013

Saying Good Bye to a Dear, Dear Friend

Below are a few thoughts I would like to share about my dear friend who passed away suddenly...

Sadly, only a few, special people will be aware that recently the world lost a kind and gentle soul named Jean Marie Eklund.   A woman of many, many gifts, unfortunately she was the victim of forces internally and externally that sometimes thwarted her genius and well-being.

In 1971, thanks to the Fickle-Finger-of-Fate, I was lucky enough to have my path intersect with Jean’s. Or perhaps a more plausible explanation is that a nameless, faceless worker in the Cal Western housing office thought it might be quite the joke to assign two 18 year old girls with the same name to the same small freshman dorm room. Oh, if only I could thank that worker, as by his or her random act, I was thrown together with Jean, a girl who would become my dear, dear friend, and who shared four really tacky yellow dorm room walls with me. College was a new adventure for both of us and my freshman year was very, very special because I shared a once-in-a-life time experience with Jean who was an incredibly gifted person and wonderful friend.

I consider Jean to be my Cosmic twin as not only did we have the same name, but we were also born 3 days apart. We had many other things in common that sealed our friendship which sadly, for reasons of pure distance of geography (Jean in Santa Barbara, me in the Pacific Northwest) was not as close as I would have liked once our freshman year was over.

Jean was a brilliant and beautiful person. She was a kind and funny, despite facing adversities that were sometimes almost insurmountable. An outstanding writer, a talented musician, a poet, an artist, she had so many gifts. I was often in awe of her many gifts and was jealous of an intellect and creativity that made her shine in ways that mere mortals like myself can only envy.

The Jean Marie I remember was lithe, funny, brilliant, and so very gifted. I am heartbroken that so many important people in her life, including me, were not there for her when she needed us. I do however, take solace in knowing that her soul-mate Dave was incredibly devoted to her and she him. Truer friends there never were. I am so hoping they are together again for all eternity.

I like to remember her the way she was when we were together at Cal Western in 1971…. We had so many good times, decorating our dorm room to commemorate the Massacre at Wounded Knee and in the process, horrifying most of our dorm-mates as it was Christmas time and our decorations were not what our dorm leaders had in mind!   We enjoyed many an incredible sunset off the cliffs overlooking the ocean in Point Loma, talking late into the night while listening to records in the dark…..the brief time we shared one small spot on this Earth will always be a happy and memory for me and for the others who were lucky enough to also share that special time with her.

Just a few months before Jean and I met James Taylor wrote an incredible song called, “Fire and Rain.” I’ve listened to it a million times over the years, but now it holds special meaning for me as I will, from now on, always think of Jean when I hear it.

Just yesterday morning they let me know you were gone
Suzanne the plans they made put an end to you
I walked out this morning and I wrote down this song
I just can't remember who to send it to

Oh, I've seen fire and I've seen rain
I've seen sunny days that I thought would never end
I've seen lonely times when I could not find a friend
But I always thought that I'd see you again

I am sorry I couldn’t attend her memorial service but in my heart and soul I have said a reluctant goodbye to her. My deepest sympathies to her mother Annette and to her friends who loved her as I did.

Goodbye dear friend.

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Born Fighting

"If defeated everywhere else, I will make my stand for liberty among the Scots-Irish of my native Virginia".---- General George Washington

Cracker, Redneck, Hillbilly. Yea, like several million other Americans of European descent, I've got Scot-Irish ancestors.   In fact, on my mom's side alone I have dozens and dozens of tough, hard-scrabble Scot-Irish ancestors!  Guess the fact I don't have any on my dad's side is my saving grace as like former senator, Jim Webb's book details, the Scots-Irish are/were "born fighting" and have been for generations and generations, not only in the U.S., but in Ireland and before that in Scotland.

Wikipedia has this info on my ancestors: --->  Scotch-Irish (or Scots-IrishAmericans are the descendants of Presbyterian and other Protestant dissenters from the Irish province of Ulster who migrated to North America during the 18th and 19th centuries.[2] Most of the Scotch-Irish were descended from Scottish and English families who colonized Ireland during the Plantation of Ulster in the 17th century..[5]

If you have Scots-Irish ancestors I highly recommend James Webb's book, "Born Fighting, How the Scots-Irish Shaped America."  It does a great job of defining who and what the Scot-Irish are/were and how they shaped the course of America.   Here's one description of the book:

"Born Fighting shows that the Scots-Irish were 40 percent of the Revolutionary War army; they included the pioneers Daniel Boone, Lewis and Clark, Davy Crockett, and Sam Houston; they were the writers Edgar Allan Poe and Mark Twain; and they have given America numerous great military leaders, including Stonewall Jackson, Ulysses S. Grant, Audie Murphy, and George S. Patton, as well as most of the soldiers of the Confederacy (only 5 percent of whom owned slaves, and who fought against what they viewed as an invading army). It illustrates how the Scots-Irish redefined American politics, creating the populist movement and giving the country a dozen presidents, including Andrew Jackson, Teddy Roosevelt, Woodrow Wilson, Ronald Reagan, and Bill Clinton. And it explores how the Scots-Irish culture of isolation, hard luck, stubbornness, and mistrust of the nation’s elite formed and still dominates blue-collar America, the military services, the Bible Belt, and country music. "

You can find it on Amazon (see below) and also view the documentary on the Smithsonian Channel.

If you read the book you'll find out the true origin of the word Redneck, as well as why Scots-Irish have willfully volunteered in droves for every war the U.S. has fought and their impact on our country and way of life.

And while I have been a little irreverent about my Scots-Irish ancestors in the blog post, the reality is I'm really proud to be part Scots-Irish and admire my many Ulster ancestors who were some of the toughest people to ever to walk this Earth.