First Responder


[Subway Eldering on the Red Line; June, 2016]

This past weekend on retreat in New Hampshire I swam, I picked blueberries, I read—and kept my SmartPhone off. Guess what happened? Unplugged from the wider world was just fine. Delicious. But not being accessible should something happen to My Loved One—I am her health care proxy—was not.

No crisis. She’s fine; I was not needed. My anxiety was around both my failure to have arranged a back-up while out of town (Ooops) but, also, my realization of how central my sense of responsibility for my Loved One has become. (Oh!)

Ironically, this realization came on a weekend spent acknowledging my overweening* sense of responsibility. (I know !?)  A sweltering weekend back home, every time I cooled myself off in the velvet-feeling lake or felt refreshed by a gentle breeze a part of me scolded: I have no right to enjoy this! I should be organizing around climate action. As if I were solely responsible for fighting global warming! Overweening, much? Absolutely.

But as I have noted before, being with Loved One and accompanying her in any small way I can during her final journey is sacred work. Holy. So I want to Be There in the fullest sense of those simple words.


[I willI be away next week; please check out my next post on August 2nd]

  • Overweening: ” Arrogant. Overbearing. Immoderate.”

Join the Conversation


  1. I picked Blueberries two months ago in Texas. The Biggest Blueberries were at the very top of the tree in a group. Maybe someday we can pick some Blueberries together.I miss picking grapes in Maureen’s Garden in Newton Massachusetts.
    Have a Great Blueberry Day.

  2. Dear Patricia,

    Hi, there, Patricia, my so, so very For Always awesome soul sisterfriend who you’re For Always so, so very much!!!!!! Sister, wow, wow, wow and wow and wow and a zillion wows here!!!!! This amazing and astounding blog post article of yours here is just very fun-filled, and I so enjoyed very delightfully and eagerly with such joyous pleasure reading it, and now responding to it with my very heartfelt, detailed, and through comment, Patricia! The title of this magnificent blog post article is just perfect here, absolutely perfect, and just so adds to and complements the very theme and topic of this very fine and excellent blog post article as you very graciously share about your dear Loved One and your care-taking for her! The picture which you have very graciously and generously featured here with this remarkable blog post article so very well accents what your theme and topic are for certain as you share about your so, so very dearest and darling Loved One, sister. Wow, I’m just so, so very thrilled, overjoyed, and happy that you had such fun times at this past weekend’s retreat for you in New Hampshire, Patricia!!!!!! Yay!!!!! What fun it must have been to swim and to pick very delicious, yummy, and delectable blueberries! What fun to do your summer reading outdoors, too! Sister, I remember that when I was a little girl we had what appeared to be blueberries and raspberries growing in our backyard. My mother would get all uptight and sternly warn me to not eat them and that they were poisonous. When I had moved to Iowa City, Iowa in the 1990s when I was in my late twenties some friends and I were together and they offered for me to pick some raspberries and blueberries that were growing very abundantly in their backyard. At first I was very scared remembering the warning from my mother as a little girl, but then I stepped outside of my comfort zone and gave it a try, and later ate what turned out to be absolutely yummy blueberries and raspberries, and lived to tell about it!!!!! :)!!!!! And they were not poisonous!!!!!!! I can’t help but to wonder if my mother was wrong about what appeared to be raspberries and blueberries in our backyard back then. She had a great tendency to be unrealistically fearful. Sister, how brave it was for you to turn off you SmartPhone. I’m so glad that you had some great rest and relaxation although I know that it was hard for you to let go of your concern for your so, so very dear Loved One. Sisterfriend, I know what you mean about experiencing an overweening sense of responsibility. I remember that when I was in my early teens that my maternal great-grandmother started to have a series of strokes and that eventually her third stroke killed her when I was sixteen. For a time she had moved into our house and my mother was her primary care-taker. My mother was ill-equipped emotionally to be a care-taker for my maternal great-grandmother and would not be as patient. There were such bad and negative dynamics in my house growing up with all of the abuse in every way. I am working on letting go of how I was unable as a young girl in my early teens to fully be there for my maternal great-grandmother because I was overwhelmed by all of the abuse going on in my house, and I picked up on with my attitude on the negativity from my mother. I’ve even had dreams about my late maternal great-grandmother in which I’ve felt guilty for not being able to take care of her as well back then because I was very overwhelmed by the negative and abusive family dynamics going on. Sister, you have helped me even more from this marvelous article of yours to see how I have had an overweening sense of responsibility and that it is good that I’ve been working on letting go and forgiving myself for not being able to be as helpful to my maternal great-grandmother back then, Patricia! See sisterfriend, you as the For Always good woman of God who you are help me so, so very much, Patricia, as you help so, so very many other persons, too!!!!! Patricia, I know what you mean about it being hard to let go like with how you enjoyed the luxurious coolness from the velvet-feeling lake and the gentle, refreshing breeze(what beautiful and descriptive words here of yours, Patricia! :)!!!!!) that you chided yourself and thought that you must not enjoy all of this and that instead should be working at that moment to end climate change. Sister, I for sure know what you mean. I’m working on not second-guessing myself and thinking and saying to myself, “You should, self. You shouldn’t, self.” When my mother was still alive(she died in November 1990 when I was 28-she died three days before her 53rd birthday of a heart attack) when I was still in Ohio I was a care-taker for her in an enabling role. She was a practicing alcoholic and addict and I’d often clean her up when she’d get sick from the alcohol and other drugs. and I’d spoon feed her food when she was drunk in trying to get her to eat, and I’d help her to get out of bed and to get dressed when she was intoxicated and high, even to the extreme of placing paper bags around the house so that I could grab one for her really quickly when I knew that she was going to throw up from the alcohol and drugs. Wow, it was very, very difficult for me to let go of my care-taking role towards my mother but thank Goodness God that eventually I was able to let go and to focus on my own life and my own needs through therapy and through all of my very, very many, multiple memberships in various 12-Step Programs. I just so, so very much love how you so love and cherish your so, so very precious, special, beloved, and blessed Loved One and how you very diligently and conscientiously love her and care for her. I know that it was very hard for you to let go when you went on that fabulous retreat and turned off your SmartPhone but you didn’t do anything wrong in taking your self-care and getting some great rest and relaxation, Patricia. I can for sure relate to the feelings you experienced with this, my so, so very dearest friend!!!!!!!! Sister, it is very much indeed sacred work which you are doing in your great love and dearest care for your Loved One in her final journey. I just know how much she loves you, too, and how she just cherishes you, sister! Sister, you are for sure in the fullest sense of the words as you take such loving caring in the great words, “Be There.” It just does my very, very heart, and very, very heart and spirit such greatly immense good bearing witness to how you and your Loved One just so, so very much love and cherish each other! Wow, what a joy to read about this, and to so enjoy reading about the great fun you had at the weekend retreat in New Hampshire, Patricia! Yay!!!!!! I praying, hoping, and wishing for you in sending you such bountiful positive energy to have such an awesomely and amazingly fun two weeks until you blog again on Tuesday, August 2, 2016. Yay, Patricia, yay!!!!!!

    Sister, please have such a totally terrific and a very thrilling Thursday, and wondrously wonderful rest of your week and weekend, and two weeks coming ahead! Wow, what a joyous pleasure it is for me to read your brilliantly inspiring blog post articles with such enlightening insight, and to very joyously respond with my very heartfelt, thorough, and detailed thoughts and comments, Patricia!!!!! Patricia, YOU are my very joy and blessing along with your fantastic blog post articles, just as YOU are, too, and your fantabulous blog post articles for your other very, very many grateful and appreciative readers!!!!!! Yay for YOU, Patricia!!!!! Yay for your stupendous blog post articles and other writings!!!!! Yay for our friendship and sisterhood, Patricia!!!!! Yay!!!!!! Sister, you are just the very best and the greatest, and the very, very epitome of such overall awesomeness, Patricia!!!!! Yay!!!!!

    Very Warmly and Sincerely For Always, my For Always sisterfriend Christian Quaker white woman who you’re For Always so, so very much, Patricia, with Such Very Peace and Love To You For Always, my sister, and with Such Very Blessings and Even Very More Blessings To You For Always, my so, so very dearest and darling friend,

    Your sisterfriend Christian black woman For Always and For Always in the very spirit and solidarity, Sherry Gordon in Iowa City, Iowa

  3. Is our issue our gender, our personality, or our world that make us feel that anything less than the work of five people isn’t enough? I remember having “one of those days” where I had some serious decisions, household bill fixes (you know when you get triple the bill you’re supposed to, so lots of time holding for a representative to be with you in a moment), deadlines looming, family needs to be met, and my five fruits/vegetables plus exercise to somehow squeeze in there. I was Atlas on School Street, truly. The same afternoon, I met up with a lovely soul who has younger kids with her own serious decisions, household bill fixes , deadlines looming, family needs to be met, and healthy habits to somehow squeeze in there. She also needed to save the planet like I do. Somehow, I was able to uplift her and let her feel doing her world duty was not supposed to equal more than one person–if fact it was imperative that she only do one person’s world duty so as not to burn out for her loved ones and herself–as well as said world. She felt like a weight was lifted and we spent the rest of the afternoon in pleasant chatting. After we parted, I-Atlas gathered up my planet and started back up my mountain.

    What’s up with that?

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