Rev. Robert Palladino, Apple Fonts, Steve Jobs and Me

Father Palladino was a world-renowned master of calligraphy who taught Steve Jobs the importance — and aesthetics — of scripts.

Source: Rev. Robert Palladino, Scribe Who Shaped Apple’s Fonts, Dies at 83 – The New York Times

How Apple Fonts, Steve Jobs, and ultimately Rev. Robert Palladino saved me…



Apple Fonts

I am a word nerd, a font fan. Thank you, Rev. Robert Pallidino, Apple fonts and Steve Jobs.

I have to confess that I am a cursive handwriting, calligraphy, and Apple font nerd. I am irrationally fond of all things that concern ways to make beautiful words.

Fonts inspired me to go for it…to follow a dream…to love what I love and accept that I am meant to work at a different career than what I have previously pursued. I know that sounds crazy. But we all get our inspiration from different things. I got mine from typeset.

How Apple Fonts, Steve Jobs, and ultimately Rev. Robert Palladino saved me…

Here’s a short version of a very long story. In 2011 I had a job that I despised. I got so sick that I couldn’t work…because I hated my damn job so much. So I took some sick time to decide what I was going to do. It was a hard decision…should I just suck it up and go back to that totally shitty job? It was the best paying job I’d ever had…benefits, dental insurance, burial insurance. I was pretty sure I was going to need that burial insurance if I continued working there.

It was nice day in October, I was at home on FMLA. Steve Jobs had just died from pancreatic cancer and I was watching coverage of it.  One of the news stations was playing a graduation speech that he had given at a college graduation. He told a story about going to college and hating every minute of it. So he took a calligraphy class and he loved it. He said that he didn’t finish college, but he stayed interested in the beautiful work of calligraphy and that’s where the Apple fonts originated. And he talked about the importance of doing what you love. And we all know what Steve Jobs accomplished, like him or not.

I sobbed as I listened to his commencement speech. I was 56 years old and I was starting completely over. I knew I wasn’t ever going back to my shitty job. I was determined to follow my heart and find the path I had strayed from so many, many years before. And that’s what I’m doing now.

All because Steve Jobs skipped out on his college courses and took a calligraphy class from Father Palladino instead. For that, guys…you have my undying gratitude.


Father Palladino was a world-renowned master of calligraphy who taught Steve Jobs the importance — and aesthetics — of scripts.

Source: Rev. Robert Palladino, Scribe Who Shaped Apple’s Fonts, Dies at 83 – The New York Times

Kate Bowler on Death, Prosperity Gospel

prosperity gospel

I do not believe in the prosperity gospel. I believe in coincidences and luck. Image by Tuomos_Lehtinen/

Some Christians believe God rewards the faithful. So why did I get Stage 4 cancer? – Kate Bowler –

Durham, N.C. — ON a Thursday morning a few months ago, I got a call from my doctor’s assistant telling me that I have Stage 4 cancer. The stomach cramps I was suffering from were not caused by a faulty gallbladder, but by a massive tumor.

I am 35. I did the things you might expect of someone whose world has suddenly become very small. I sank to my knees and cried. I called my husband at our home nearby. I waited until he arrived so we could wrap our arms around each other and say the things that must be said. I have loved you forever. I am so grateful for our life together. Please take care of our son. Then he walked me from my office to the hospital to start what was left of my new life….READ MORE:

Source: Death, the Prosperity Gospel and Me – The New York Times

This article by Kate Bowler about her views of the prosperity gospel and her diagnosis of Stage IV cancer is profoundly touching. I wish her well…in fact, I  wish her completely well and healed.

Kate Bowler knows what I mean when I say that.

As I age, I have lost much of my youthful optimism and faith that I once believed shielded me from the bad things of life. I once thought that if I was good enough, believed hard enough, and had faith the size of a mustard seed that God would protect me and those I loved.

I have changed as the years have passed. I do not believe in the prosperity gospel. I do not believe in meritocracy.

I have come to accept that bad things happen to good people. I understand that we may have no special purpose here on Earth other than to live…to love and be loved…and to do the best we can with what we know at the time.

I no longer believe that we are spared from death (this time)  because God has a special purpose for us. I believe in coincidences and just plain luck.


I was deeply touched by this profound article by Kate Bowler. Please read and see what you believe. 


Some Christians believe God rewards the faithful. So why did I get Stage 4 cancer?

Source: Death, the Prosperity Gospel and Me – The New York Times

I have Become My Mother…

I have become my mother.

by Peggy Browning

I am reposting this in honor of what would have been my mother’s 101st birthday. She was born on January 14, 1915 and married my Daddy in April, 1935. She went to Heaven in June, 2005 at the age of 90. She lived through two World Wars, and cooked on a wood cookstove. She and Daddy farmed with mules and drove an old Model A. She used coal oil lamps until the Jack-Archer-Clay Electric Cooperative was created and electricity lighted up the country-side in 1947. She got her driver’s license at age 45 and was finally legal to drive everywhere she had already been driving. She drove a tractor, raked hay, and worked alongside Daddy every day. She made our dresses and shirts and baked a pie darn near every day. In the later years of her life, after Daddy passed away in July 1985 shortly after their 50th wedding anniversary, she started traveling with her older daughters and their children and her sisters. She enjoyed airplane trips and she loved talking about a helicopter ride she took with her grandson, Keith and his wife, Teresa. 

There is so much more to tell about my Mama, but it is enough to know that she lived a good, long life. She is missed every single day. 


“All that I am, or hope to be, I owe to my angel mother.”  — Abraham Lincoln

Uncle Pete, Aunt Lizzie, Mama, Aunt Durelle, Aunt Pauline, Grandma, GrandDaddy


“I have become my mother.”

I often hear women my age…and women who are younger than me…say that. Sometimes they say it jokingly; sometimes they say it disparagingly.

They almost always say “I have become my mother” like it’s a bad thing.

Maybe it is a bad thing…if you had a mother who lacked good qualities.

That, however, was not my experience. Perhaps other women  had mothers who lacked good qualities. I did not.

When I say “I have become my mother”,  I am hopeful that I have, in some good way, emulated her.

I had a very good mother. I aspire to be as much like her as I can be. I fall short every day.

Mildred Viola Martin Browning was a good woman, a good friend to those who were fortunate enough to know her. She was a faithful, loving daughter to her own parents. She spoke highly of her own mother. She was the middle child of five and her love for her three sisters and baby brother never wavered.  She was a wonderful mother and grandmother. Her love for her offspring never wavered either.

Mama was a good wife and helpmate to my father. Together, they made a living by farming. My mother was an excellent farmer. When she was asked to describe herself, she said “I am a farmer.” In her opinion, being a farmer summed up her life.

It sums it up in my opinion as well. I believe that being a farmer is the purest calling in life. If you can farm, you can do anything and everything.

I believed my mother could do anything and everything, too. She was not boastful about her abilities. She simply did what was required of her lifestyle. And she did it well.

When I came of age during the era of women’s liberation, I wondered what all the fuss was about.

Equality was not a question in our home. My mother could do anything my father did and more.  She did not do it with pride or arrogance. She did it with quiet grace and aplomb.

Mama could work hard in the fields, then come to the house and harvest the crops from her garden and use them to cook our meals. She sewed our clothing, washed all the laundry, kissed all the scraped knees, raised chickens and gathered their eggs and wrung their necks and fried them in a cast iron skillet, milked the cow and fed the hogs, put three meals on the table every single day and then told us a bedtime story before turning out the lights and saying “Good night. I love you very much.”

Mama was more than equal. And my Daddy affirmed it again and again to us. He did not undermine her authority; he demanded that we respect her. He showed his children how to do that by loving and respecting her himself.

My mother was kind. She was firm but gentle. She was a great story-teller. She was an excellent farmer.

She loved her family: her husband, parents, children, sisters and brother, nieces and nephews, grandchildren and great- grandchildren. They all loved her, too.

My mother is the best example of fulfilling womanhood that I can summon. If someone were to tell me, “Peggy, you are just like your mother,” I would be flattered and pleased. I would be honored to even come close.

“I have become my mother” are words I would be proud…oh, so very proud…to say.

Safe With Me … A Teacher’s Story

You are safe with me.

by Peggy Browning

You are safe with me. I am your teacher and you should always be safe with me.

You are supposed to be safe with me. Image by Paul Gooddy/

You are supposed to be safe with me.
Image by Paul Gooddy/

In 2004 I was employed as a third grade teacher at a Catholic school. It was five years after Columbine. It was eight years prior to Sandy Hook. Safety concerns had changed in the twenty-three years since I started teaching; they had changed before I opened my classroom door at Notre Dame Elementary School.

When I started teaching in 1981, I was concerned about my students boarding the school bus safely, climbing the stairs on the slide safely, and using blunt ended scissors correctly.

But twenty-three years and murderers with assault weapons and bombs changed our ideas of safe-keeping.

In 2004 we had protocols for locking doors, hiding under desks, checking each child’s presence on a list in the event of a school shooting* . We had a special bell signal that notified us if there was a shooter in the building.

“What will happen if a man with a gun comes to our school, Ms. Browning?”

They were eight-years old and they felt compelled to ask me "What if a man with a gun comes here to hurt us?" image by imagerymajestic/

They were eight-years old and they felt compelled to ask me “What if a man with a gun comes here to hurt us?”
image by imagerymajestic/

They were eight –years-old. They were in the 3rd grade. And they felt compelled to ask me what we would do if someone came in to the school to kill us.

“You are safe with me,” I said.

“I will lock the door to the hallway. I will lock the door to the playground. You will get under your desks. Or we will all sit beside the bookshelves that house your crayons and markers and glue and we will hunker down and wait.”

I had a plan…the school had a plan.

“But you are safe with me,” I said.

“But what if he comes in the door? What if he comes in our room? What if he tries to hurt us?”

“I will not let that happen,” I said. “I will save you.”

Then I demonstrated my karate chops and my swift leg kicks and we laughed and they said, “Ms. Browning will not let anyone hurt us.”

It would not happen to us.

And I thought…any gun-wielding mother fucker that tried to hurt my students…my  27 eight-year-old babies who were learning their roles for the Thanksgiving play, singing songs of praise for God’s blessing, doing the readings of the Old Testament, the New Testament, and the Gospel  at mass on Fridays, practicing their multiplication tables and cursive writing… I thought…Any motherfucker that comes here will have to get through me…not just past me, but through me…to get to you. And I will not let that happen, even if I have to sacrifice myself.

But it did happen. It did happen. Not to me and my student babies. But it did happen at Sandy Hook. And the motherfucker did have to go through the teachers and kill them first to get to twenty of their babies.

And we mourned and we prayed and we kept everyone in our thoughts…but we haven’t done a god-bless-ed thing about it.

It is three years after Sandy Hook. And we haven’t done a thing.

What are we going to do about this? Karate chops and well-placed kicks don’t match an assault rifle.

AK47 image by anankkml/

image by anankkml/

Concealed handguns on teachers don’t work…it’s awkward to hug a little kid while wearing a gun. And a good guy with a gun…even a good teacher with a gun…is not a match for an assault rifle.

Something has to be done. Let’s have the courage to do it.

May all teachers be able to say…You are safe with me.  God damn it, you are safe with me.

Donate to Sandy Hook Promise. 

Contribute to making our children safe in 2016. 

*school shooting is a misnomer. The schools are not shot, killed, maimed, murdered. It is the people in them that are slaughtered. It is the children.

In Light of Paris and the World

In Light of Paris and the World

by Peggy Browning


In light of Paris and the World

Where does it hurt?
Everywhere, everywhere, everywhere. ___Warsan Shire
image by kanate/

In light of Paris and the World, I have no words of my own that will suffice. I, along with the rest of the World, am heartsick.

And I am weary. I am weary of murder and death and starvation and slavery and famine and torture and imprisonment and terror. I am weary of the use of these things in the name of religion or the proclamation of being “right…chosen…correct…closer to God.”

That is surely taking God’s name in vain to use it as such.




In light of Paris and the World, I have nothing to say that is good enough. I am sharing the clear and profound words of others today, because I have no wisdom or truth or words that can make this better.


what they did yesterday afternoon

they set my aunts house on fire

i cried the way women on tv do

folding at the middle

like a five pound note.

i called the boy who use to love me

tried to ‘okay’ my voice

i said hello

he said ‘Warsan, what’s wrong, what’s happened?


i’ve been praying

and these are what my prayers look like;

dear god

i come from two countries

one is thirsty

the other is on fire

both need water.


later that night

i held an atlas in my lap

ran my fingers across the whole world

and whispered

where does it hurt?


it answered




_____Somali poet, Warsan Shire




In my view, now is the time for developing a serious and effective approach to destroy ISIS. Now is not the time for taking cheap political advantage of this tragedy. Now is the time – as President Obama is trying to do – to unite the world in an organized campaign against ISIS that will eliminate the stain of ISIS from this world.

But let me also say that now is not the time for demagoguery and fear mongering. What terrorism is about is trying to instill terror and fear into the hearts of people. And we will not let that happen. We will not be terrorized or live in fear. During these difficult times, we will not succumb to Islamophobia. We will not turn our backs on the refugees who are fleeing Syria and Afghanistan. We will do what we do best and that is be Americans – fighting racism, fighting xenophobia, fighting fear. _____U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders



I Need A Sign

I Need a Sign

by Peggy Browning

I once had two little boys, Matt and Ben, who were the lights of my life. They were the best little boys in the world. They were the reason I woke each day…the reason I loved life.

They were both kind and good and generous and funny and warm and loving and compassionate. Ben is gone now, but when he was a little boy and as he became a man, he had a sweet spirit of enthusiasm, cooperation, invention, and sharing. The world is an emptier place without him in it.

Matt proceeds on…with his own sweet spirited son, Ben, at his side. They are my lights now.

One day in August this year I was feeling down and sad. It was close to the anniversary of Ben’s death fourteen years ago and I just felt sad…like everything was wrong.

I Need a Sign

I needed to know that everything is still right with the World. I needed a sign that the same sweet spirit that my son exuded every day of his short life was still present in the World. I asked for a sign to assure me that life and love and enthusiasm and sharing and humor and warmth and compassion and goodness were all still here.

I needed to know that the spirit of little boy-ness was still strong…out there in the World…that little boys everywhere were filled with it.  I needed a sign. And so I asked for one.

I didn’t know I would get the real thing.

I Need a Sign

I need a sign

I needed a sign…and here is the first one…I was driving down Elk Street in Duncan, Oklahoma when I saw the first sign. It said “Home Made Fudge for Sale” and had an arrow pointing in the direction of the sale. When I followed the sign, I found two little boys sitting behind a card table located under a shade tree in their front yard.

Nate, age 11, and his brother Noah, age 7, were in charge of operations. They had a cooler stocked with the most delicious, creamy fudge I’ve ever eaten. I bought a sampler package from them for $2 and every bite brought me joy.

Of course I asked questions about their operation and they answered what they could. The name of their business is Fee Fi Fo Fudge.  They have a little brother, Nevin age 2 ½  who is also a partner in operations, but he was taking a nap at the time. Their mother, Felicia, is CEO and chief cook and bottle-washer.

They also have a side business…making and selling play dough. That business is called The Doughboys.

I bought a baggie of play dough, too. And they gave me a large chunk of dark chocolate orange fudge as well.

I Need a Sign

Then I headed down the street and found another sign. The handwritten message was on a pink poster board and attached to a large cardboard box. It read “Amazing Stuff That You Need  This Way” and the arrow on it pointed to the left.

I needed a sign...the perfect sign for a garage sale.

I needed a sign…the perfect sign for a garage sale. I made a left turn and found a garage sale. That’s where I met Mitch, age 8. He had made his own sign to hang in the yard. It read “Our Crap Can Become YOUR Crap.” That seemed to me to be the perfect sign for a garage sale.

Mitch was selling his battery operated police car because, although he loved it and it had served him well, it was time to let it go. He hoped another child would buy it and enjoy it as much as he had. Mitch had washed it and shined it up. Then he parked it in the driveway…just like the cars in the car dealer’s showroom…and gave me an encouraging and sincere sales pitch.

For only $49.25 more I could have owned a battery-operated police car. My loss.

For only $49.25 more I could have owned a battery-operated police car. My loss.

If I had had $50 in my pocket that day, I would have bought it because Mitch was a good salesperson.  But I didn’t…I only had $1…so I bought something else.

I needed a sign. I asked for a sign. I needed to know that little boys everywhere are still inventive, kind, and enthusiastic. I needed to see the spirit of little boy-ness alive and well.

Thanks to Nate and Noah and Nevin and Mitch…I am well aware this spirit goes on.






Our Lady of Guadalupe Abbey Pecos New Mexico

A Visit to Our Lady of Guadalupe Abbey in Pecos, New Mexico

Benedictine Monastery in Pecos, New Mexico

The summer of 2011 was an extremely hard one. The events of that time were the saddest  I had experienced except for the events I had experienced ten years prior in the summer of 2001. I was tried, I was tired and I was heartbroken. I needed to go somewhere to rest and ruminate.

I chose to go to Our Lady of Guadalupe Abbey in Pecos, New Mexico. It was the perfect place for me to visit for a week in August. The evenings were cool. The days were warm. The people there were generous with their kindness, prayers, and hospitality.

I needed peace and quiet with no interference from the outside world. I chose to go to a monastery because when I say I want peace and quiet…I am serious.

Our Lady of Guadalupe Abbey is an Olivetan Benedictine monastery located in the Pecos River Canyon 25 miles east of Santa Fe, New Mexico, USA. We offer group retreats and individual retreats, and spiritual direction. Everyone is welcome. Please visit us for a day, weekend or longer, or join one of our group retreats. We are always happy to welcome you.
 Our Lady of Guadalupe Abbey is located at a former dude ranch near Pecos, New Mexico. There are rooms there to accommodate travelers such as I was. My room had a comfortable bed and bedding, a pleasant chair to sit in, clean towels and a good shower and bathroom. There are no TVs, no phones, alarm clocks, or Wifi in the rooms. There is little to no cell phone reception and you are asked not to use cell phones there.


Silence reigns at Our Lady of Guadalupe Abbey. Simple community meals are taken in silence; there is no chit-chat necessary when sharing a table with others. Only smiles and kindness are exchanged during meals.

And only smiles and kindness are exchanged the rest of the time as well. No one bothers you with inane conversation.

If I missed one  or all of the three community meals, I could go to a restaurant in Pecos or travel 25 miles to Santa Fe to eat. Or I could wait until the next meal there. I wasn’t hungry while I was there. I felt filled up…not just by food…but by love.

I was freed of all the daily interaction that is so hard when one is grieving. It was a very healing experience to be there. When I felt inclined to call someone on my cell phone to let them know I had arrived at my destination safely or just to talk a bit, I traveled up the road to a hill in the little town of Pecos where I got cell phone reception.

You can tell the time by the ringing of the monastery bell when it is time for prayer. But you are not required in any way to participate in any type of prayer or worship or gathering. You are a visitor.

And visitors are free to do as they please except:

  • Please, please DO NOT DISTURB THE PEACE. 🙂


Contact Our Lady of Guadalupe Abbey. 

How to Be Happy

How to Be Happy

How to Be Happy

How to Be Happy
image from usamedeniz/

Not so very long ago, I attended the funeral of a man who knew the secret of How to Be Happy. I don’t know if he had always known that secret or if it was something he learned as he made his way through the World as we know it.

What matters is that, no matter when he learned the secret, he practiced it and he spread it around.

At his funeral, the mourners were given the opportunity to say something about this man. Though hesitant at first, as modest people are, they rose one by one to say how this man had touched their lives and taught them how to be happy too.

Neighbors, friends, and other beneficiaries of this man’s attention to them spoke of his humility and cheerfulness and his encouragement when they hit hard times. This is what I learned from his example.

How to Be Happy

  • Be tolerant. Everyone has their own story. Listen to it and keep your heart open without being too critical.
  • Be generous. Money is not necessary to be generous. Share your time, care, and concern.
  • Be encouraging. A kind word, a sincere “thank you”, an honest word of praise…”you’re doing a good job” is often all another person needs to face another day.
  • Be open to change. Stop fretting about the good old days and accept how life is in the present. Make changes if necessary or if you want to do something different.
  • Be willing to grow. Learn something new. Accept that life changes. Study something you’ve always wanted to know about.
  • Be mindful. Choose to see the good. You will see things you never knew were there.
  • Be appreciative. When someone does something for you, acknowledge it instead of criticizing what they didn’t do.
  • Be helpful. If someone needs help, then help them. Don’t make them earn your help.
  • Be grateful. If you went to bed with a full belly last night, give thanks. Acknowledge good fortune with thanksgiving, not entitled thinking.
  • Be cheerful. Smile. Let positive words come from your mouth. Your smile may break the shell of someone’s sadness that you didn’t even know about.

After all is said and done, it is our actions, not our words that speak for us. People may forget what we say or do, but they never forget how we made them feel.

I think that learning how to be happy and spreading that around is the whole point of living. And being remembered with love and gladness is the whole point of dying.

(This is a partial excerpt from How to Be Happy, an essay in my book, The View Through My Rose-Colored Bifocals.)

The Weary Mothers of the Earth 1000 Voices Speak for Compassion

1000 voices for compassion buttonWeary Mothers of the Earth:1000 Voices Speak for Compassion

by Peggy Browning

I am posting today as a part of 1000 Voices for Compassion. This is a global initiative to promote compassion. Weary Mothers of the Earth Unite.

1000 Voices for compassion

Weary mothers of the Earth
1000 Voices for Compassion

Almost three years ago, on March 11, 2012, an American soldier allegedly massacred 16 Afghan citizens, nine of whom were children. Six other civilians were wounded in the attack.

1000 Voices Speak for Compassion

On March 12, 2012 I was taking a spring vacation in Tyler, Texas. The azaleas were ready to burst into bloom and the town was preparing for the Azalea Festival scheduled for the last weekend of the month.

I was quite content and ready to enjoy my stay:  wandering around the town, shopping at the thrift store, looking at antiques, walking through the parks and gardens there. Everything was beautiful in East Texas that week.

Life seemed especially good.

1000 Voices Speak for Compassion

I was safe. My children were safe.  My grandchildren were safe at home with their parents.

I could imagine all three of them wearing their warm little jammies, being tucked into bed by their mamas and daddies, being read a story before going to sleep, feeling safe in their own little beds.

My grand-babies are  more precious than gold or all the possessions on Earth to me.

One morning I picked up a USA Today in the hotel lobby. I bought a snack from the vending machine and went to my room. Then I looked at the newspaper.

On the front page was a photograph of a grandmother from Kandahar, Afghanistan. She was sitting in the back of a truck, with her hand extended toward the body of her grandchild. The child was dressed in red pajamas, having been tucked safely into bed perhaps by the grandmother, before being pulled from bed and shot during the midnight attack of a soldier.

On the grandmother’s face was the shock and weariness of a grief that was only just beginning.

I could imagine her pain.

USA Today story and photograph

There are other things I can imagine about this woman and her grandchild. I imagine that she told this little child bedtime stories just as I do for my grandchildren.

I imagine that her grandchild ran to her and hugged her around her legs whenever he saw her. Just as my grandchildren do. I imagine her grandchild’s little arms reaching up to her, asking for her embrace. Just as my grandchildren do.

Did she teach her grandchild little silly songs? Did they plant a garden together? Did she carry sweet treats in her pocket to give to her grand-baby? I imagine that she did, just as I do with my grandchildren.

I imagine that this grandmother wanted more for this child. I imagine that she wanted safety, freedom, security for her grandchild, just as I do for mine.

1000 Voices Speak for Compassion

Then I think about the grandmother of the man who massacred these children. I imagine that she is grief-stricken and hurting, too.

This is not what the American grandmother wanted for her grandchild. I know it’s not. I imagine that she did the same things that the Afghan grandmother and I do for ours.

I’m positive that she wanted safety, freedom, and security for her grandson. I’m absolutely sure that she would never have imagined this to be a part of her grandson’s life or legacy.

It’s easy for us to imagine all of us to be different. We have different colored skin. We have have different religions, different routines, different rituals.

It’s easy for us to think that a color or a religion or a nationality makes one person less precious than another, to think that other people in war-torn lands are used to the grief and that their loss is less than our own.

But that’s not true. All grandmothers are alike…and all our grandchildren are precious.

I imagine we all grieve the same, no matter our color, nationality, or religion.

I’d like to think that grandmothers could be the solution to the problems of hate, prejudice, violence, and war. I’d like to imagine that, banded together, we could all say: “Fuck war. Stop it. We demand that our children and grandchildren live in peace.” I’d like to imagine peace for all of them, worldwide.

Almost three years later, this grandmother’s face haunts me still. I imagine it always will.

You may say I’m a dreamer. But I pray to God that I’m not the only one. Imagine peace for our children and grandchildren.

Please enjoy this beautiful rendering of Weary Mothers of the Earth. by Ainjel Emme and her mother Miss Lonnie. 

From Wikipedia:

“The Kandahar massacre, also known as the Panjwai Massacre,[1] occurred in the early hours of 11 March 2012, when sixteen civilians were killed and six others wounded in the Panjwayi District of Kandahar ProvinceAfghanistan. Nine of the victims were children, and eleven of the dead were from the same family. Some of the corpses were partially burned. United States Army Staff Sergeant Robert Bales was taken into custody and charged with 17 counts of premeditated murder and six counts of assault and attempted murder. The charge was later reduced to 16 counts, due to the double counting of one victim.”

Friends Forever

Friends of Friends Forever

by Peggy Browning

image from

image from

I went to see my friend Connie today.  I took her a red rose that I bought from the florist.

It’s been a long time since I last visited with her.  But her birthday is approaching and I wanted her to know I was thinking about her.

To my surprise and delight, another of Connie’s friends was there to visit her today, too. I shouldn’t have been surprised that she had more company than just me. She has lots of friends who love her.

Since we had never met before, Connie’s friend Kitty and I introduced ourselves. In a brief time we became friends, too.

We laughed and shared stories about good times. We had plenty of those to talk about. We reminisced about Connie’s wonderful parents and about how well they treated her friends.

I told Kitty the story of Connie taking me to the hospital when my daughter was born. On that cold March night in 1989, she hurriedly helped me into her Volkswagen convertible and ordered my boys to jump in the backseat. She threw my bag in the back with the boys and merrily zipped through the dark streets all the way to the hospital.

When we arrived, Connie unloaded the boys and herded them through the ER doors. She had everything under control. Except for me.

I was still outside, having a contraction and trying to unload my overnight bag from the backseat of her tiny car. All three of them stood in the ER doorway urging me to hurry. I waddled across the pavement, dragging my bag behind me. After having one more contraction in the middle of the parking lot, I finally caught up with them.

They waited until I was settled into the maternity ward, then Connie took my boys home with her, put them to bed, and reassured them I’d be just fine.

She sent them to school in the morning and brought them back to meet their baby sister in the afternoon.

It all ended well, with much gratitude due my friend.

Connie and I laughed about it for years. It made a great story back then. It still made us laugh today.

Kitty told me about how much she looked up to Connie when she was a kid. Connie was three years older than she and Kitty thought she was the most beautiful girl in the world.  She loved her laughter, vivacity and kindness. Kitty wanted to be just like her.

And for just a moment we talked about the bad times. There were some of those, too…far too many. More than Connie ever deserved. But those times are over now and will never be repeated.

Soon it was time for Kitty and me to leave.  Neither of us could stay as long as we wanted; we had to move on. Our lives called us away from our visit and we had to go our separate ways.

After Kitty said good-bye to Connie, she got in her car to leave. We waved farewell to each other.  I watched her drive out through the cemetery gate and turn back on to the dirt road that leads to town.

I bent down and put the rose beside Connie’s headstone. I kissed her picture that’s attached to the stone and touched her name inscribed there.  I told her I loved and missed her and that I looked forward to the time I would see her again.

Then I got in my own car and drove away too.

I’m glad I met Kitty today. I’m glad we had the opportunity to visit Connie together. I needed to hear something new about my friend. I’m sure Kitty did, too.

I’m glad we had the chance to share our stories with the friend of a friend, keeping her memory alive.

Always loved, always remembered.

“We are friends and I do like to pass the day with you in serious and inconsequential chatter. I wouldn’t mind washing up beside you, dusting beside you, reading the back of the paper while you read the front. We are friends and I would miss you, do miss you and think of you very often.” – Jeanette Winterson –

My dear friend Connie McClain died from amyotrophic lateral sclerosis  … ALS (Lou Gehrig’s Disease). If you know someone who has ALS, please donate directly to them to help pay for their extraordinary health and care expenses. If you don’t know someone with ALS, but would still like to help, please donate to: I’m not challenging you to pour ice water over your head, but I am challenging to help find a cure.