Monday, September 16, 2013

What Does Miss America Have To Do With Us?


I do not care about pageants much.  I mean, I'm certainly not pageant material, and save being psyched that my sister was Mrs. Wichita one year, not my cup of tea.

But man, oh man, was there uproar in my Facebook feed about the new Miss America.  Apparently Miss Kansas should have won.

Who knew?

(Don't get me wrong, Miss Kansas is gorgeous and patriotic and I totally dig her.)

More, apparently Miss New York shouldn't have.

Because she's....

...Of Indian descent???????

For real????

The woman was born in Ohio.  She's brilliant.  She's beautiful.  She had as much a right to compete in that contest and win as any other woman.

Even Miss Kansas.

So what does she have to do with me?

With Luke?

Turns out, we are of Indian descent also.

Yep, that little sandy blonde boy of mine has more INDIAN in his genetic makeup than any other ethnicity.

I don't hide the fact that my dad is not my biological father.  I didn't even know he wasn't until I was twelve (they got married when I was a baby) and admittedly, that was sort of a life-changing thing for a tween to find out.  I was ashamed and embarrassed and don't even remember why.

Different.  I didn't want to be different.

Short, frizzy-haired and huge glasses...gracious...last thing we needed to add in to that equation was a sperm donor who got my mom pregnant, told her to have an abortion (this was before abortion was legalized, friends...sperm donor was a real prize, no?) and left her high and dry to make my self-esteem just rocket.

Not. should be noted—I could not have been given a better father.  He was exactly who God chose to raise me and walk me down the aisle and let me tell you something—that sperm donor has missed out on one heckuva daughter and grandsons.

People (rudely) have always asked me "What I was"...basically questioning my ethnicity because of my 'beautiful skin color'.  I imagine most meant well and were, in their own ways (?), trying to be complimentary, but all it's done is make me very self-conscious.

Again.  Different.

For a long, long, LONG time, I'd tell people I was Irish-Italian.  Stereo-typically, that would make sense...even John thought I was Mediterranean when he first met me, and I have a personality some could see tying in.  Do not ask me what it was about being Italian that I thought was better or more respectable than being Indian, but for whatever reason, I did.

Yep.  I was embarrassed to say, "Indian."

On the rare, rare occasion that I would answer the question of 'where I got my beautiful skin,' with, "Indian," I'd get silence and a stare.  Then, I'd get asked, "What tribe?"

For the love of sugar and cream!!!

I'd then go on and say, "No, like the country of India.  You know, dot on forehead?"

(Again, ashamed, ashamed I'd say something like that.)

Somehow, saying things like, "Dot on forehead, 7-11/gas station owner, etc." INSTANTLY took people to the 'right' type of Indian.

Sad, sad, sad.

Do you know that once I went to meet the sperm donor?  Once I wanted to see what he thought—if he was curious—what his medical history was like because John and I were trying to start our family.


He shut the door in my face.  Immediately hearing my mother's name made him turn white, literally, and he shut the door in my face.

I wasn't upset.

I mean, truly, I've never wanted for anything growing up and the man who married my mother and committed to raising me as his own flesh and blood in the process was such a better deal for me.

But I just couldn't believe that man's callousness.  His arrogance.  His cowardice.

Several years ago, my sister met her husband.  He was a young, hard-working man who had immigrated to the US with his family from India a few years before.

My sister has a life-threatening disease.  Her husband and his family have stood by her and with her for years.  They are hard-working and beyond, beyond, BEYOND gracious to my family when we visit. (In fact, John loves to visit because my sister's mother-in-law cooks up a crazy amount of Indian food just for John...)

And you know what?  Several years ago I realized that I was being petty and ridiculously ignorant by lying about Indian descent because my brother-in-law's family was just a beautiful picture of what it meant to be hard-working, family-loving AMERICANS.

So, while I don't go around broadcasting my lineage (in fact, this blogpost is probably one of the most revealing things I've ever written), I don't hide it anymore.

But things like I've read today are the exact reason I did...(Excuse the language.  It is vulgar and grotesque and makes my heart hurt.)


I don't understand how you can be up for miss America you're not American you're a fucking dot head!!

@monicaamurphyy: Do you not have to be American to win MISS AMERICA anymore?! 👑”
How the fuck does a foreigner win miss America? She is a Arab! #idiots
Miss New York is an Indian.. With all do respect, this is America.


Ummm....with all DUE respect, I'm just sick over the IGNORANCE.
Those are just a very few of the  tweets I found.
This is the kind of mentality my kid will grow up with.
This is the kind of ignorance that has made me ashamed much of my life.

This is the kind of stuff that breaks my heart.

I don't even know what to make of this.  My mother was as blonde and blue-eyed as they come.  My relatives fought in the Revolutionary War.  Most days, no one would think about saying things like that about me because I don't 'look' a certain way.  Luke certainly doesn't look like he'd be the victim of racism.

But could he?

By rights, to quote my mother, "I reckon' he could."

And I'm just sickened at the thought.

Friday, September 13, 2013

Behind The Butterfly...

For about a year and or so, maybe a year and a few months (pretty good portion of his life since he's only a little over two and a half), Luke has always noticed and pointed out butterflies.

Butterflies are very, very symbolic to a lot of people who have lost family members, and especially to parents who have lost children.

I admit...they've never been *too* symbolic to me.  I don't mean that in a bad way, more in the way that I don't have a lot of things that symbolize much of anything to me, if that makes sense.

Anyway...when my mother was alive, she had an "I brake for butterflies" sticker on her bumper.  John and I laughed and laughed every time we saw that car because if you knew how sloooooooowly my mother drove through her sleepy, southern little town, you'd know that she was practically braking just by 'driving'!  When she died, on the way to her service at the cemetery, you would not BELIEVE the hoard of butterflies we passed through—right there on Rte. 29 in Fairfax county—so big

Yes, we apparently brake for butterflies also.  And have ever since...

So when Matthew died, we had to go pick out a plot.


On a cold December day, 4 days post-emergency c-section, John, Mom and I stood in the cemetery looking for the perfect spot.

John and Mom were at task and I just...wasn't.  I stood there. I didn't cry, but I had tears that welled just waiting for me to give the go-ahead.

I didn't.  I didn't give the go-ahead because I was just too numb and too in disbelief about what had happened. I just didn't even want to be, much less cry.

John would ask me about this spot or that spot and I said, "Whatever.  I don't care."

And I didn't.

But then...right at the spot John kept coming to...right under a poplar tulip that John said would one day bloom beautifully, we saw it.

A little yellow butterfly fluttering around us as if we were new friends.

Let me tell you, friends.  Those butterflies do not come out in the COLD, December days.

They just don't.

We all saw it and Mom said, "Well, if that's not enough of a sign that says this is the spot...."

And, though I am not sure where I theologically stand on 'signs', I couldn't help but agree.

So, when we've seen butterflies, Luke and I—I take note of them.  We've talked about how beautiful they are and how delicate.

It's no surprise that Luke was pointing them out to me over a year ago.  It doesn't surprise me that in the past few months, when he sees one, he says, "You love buff-flies, Mama!" and I tell him, "I sure do."

What surprises me is that when he sees that little yellow one (and they are always, always, always somehow around), he now tells me, "Look, Mama!  A lellow Maffew buff-fly."

This surprises me because I've never told him about that day.  I've never made note of those yellow butterflies being more special to me than others.  In seeing butterflies (different ones, not necessarily of yellow color), I've told him once or twice that butterflies make me think of Matthew and his Grandma Jane, but I've NEVER told him that there is anything to do with Matthew and the yellow butterflies we see.

But he tells me.  Today, and in the last few weeks, he's told me.

Again, I am sort of muddy on where I stand theologically with 'signs.'  I absolutely believe in angels because the Bible is clear they exist and that they are different from our loved ones in Heaven.  I would love to believe that my loved ones watch over me and know my love for them, but struggle because I don't know how that could be and still no tears in Heaven.

What I do know is that God is a healer and a comforter.

And in these precious moments with Luke as we see 'lellow Maffew buff-flies", there is no doubt that is exactly what He is doing to my heart.

Healing and comforting.


A dear friend texted me this back in those little yellow butterflies!