“One of the perks of being a columnist and working as an opinion editor is the email I get. I receive direct responses to what I’ve written as well as letters to the editor about issues of the day and op-eds from the community at large. I say this is a perk because I do not exist in an echo chamber or some sort of political vacuum. Because of this, I read kindness from all sides and perspectives. I also see meanness from all sides. It’s difficult to maintain an us-versus-them attitude when I have the opportunity to witness a melting pot of humanity right here in my inbox.”
I hope you’ll read the full column in the link below.
Foster Kindness, Identify Solutions and Spread Joy in 2022, by Bonnie Jean Feldkamp
On New Year’s Eve, when I was a kid, at the stroke of midnight we would run outside and bang pots and pans with a wooden spoon to ring in the new year. Those were the modest homemade noisemakers of our small Kentucky town.
if you missed my column about why we shouldn’t give Santa so much credit for gifts I hope you’ll read below.
Why Parents Shouldn’t Rely on Santa for Big Christmas Gifts, by Bonnie Jean Feldkamp
Between the breaking news from the tornadic devastation in the Midwest, I worked on Christmas crafts with my kindergartner. The juxtaposition of hardship and the holidays reminded me of Christmastime with my daughter when she was young.
“As a teenager, I frequently walked to St. Stephen Cemetery after school to sit by my mom’s headstone. She died in a car accident when I was seven and I didn’t confront what that meant for me until adolescence.
“A local cemetery frequently hosts events and entertainment in their space, and it didn’t sit with me well at first. It seemed flip. Disrespectful at the least. An exploitation of death at worst. It bothered me and I had questions. Luckily, I knew just who to ask.
“Cole Imperi is not only a friend but a leader in the death community. She’s a thanatologist, an expert on death and dying, and she is the president of the Board of Overseers for Historic Linden Grove Cemetery & Arboretum in Covington, Kentucky. Imperi helped me understand what I was missing. When a historic cemetery can no longer perform burials because they are full, how does the cemetery afford the maintenance and management of an expansive graveyard that’s over 175 years old?”
Read the whole column at the link below:
How Cemeteries Get Creative to Survive in Their Role of Caring for the Dead, by Bonnie Jean Feldkamp
As a teenager, I frequently walked to St. Stephen Cemetery after school to sit by my mom’s headstone.
Mother’s Day means I can put flowers in the ground without fear of frost. It’s the commercial name given to my annual ok-to-plant day. It’s time for warmth and new growth. Any other reason to honor the day has been determined by someone else. Consumers are expected to spend $21.2 billion dollars in honor of Mother’s Day this year and I wonder if my plants are included in that total.
When I was seven I lost my mother to a car accident. It happened in February and I still had to make a Mother’s Day craft with the rest of my second-grade class in May. I was told she would still see it in heaven. That set the tone for the rest of my school days. Whether it was a craft to make or a poem to write, the day served only to twist the knife for what I didn’t have. I was the minority along with foster children and others who have lost. We are the ones you can’t plan around because then the majority suffers.
My Dad remarried when I was eight. I got a stepmother. I love her very much. But that only made this Mother’s Day thing more confusing. Other children of blended families must have felt the same way. A stepparent in the mix is certainly more common than the death of a parent. Am I supposed to celebrate her on this day? I wondered. Do I give her my homemade gift? If I do, am I betraying my other mom? It was a hard enough struggle to try and understand how I could love my stepmother and all of the opportunities that she brought to my life. It made me feel that if I appreciated my stepmother then somehow that meant that I was glad that my birth mother was gone. This prompted me to grieve my birth mother even more. I had to know that I still loved and missed her and in my adolescent head that meant that I must actively mourn her. Otherwise I’ve just forgotten about her, right?
As an adult I’ve wrapped my brain around it a little better. I understand that I am allowed to love them both. Now, I am a mother. I am both a bio-mom and a stepmom in a blended family. We’re a miss-matched perfect set of genetics and love on our second-time-around.
We don’t celebrate Mother’s or Father’s day. Knowing the stress it put on me as a child, the last thing I want to do is make my kids feel as if they are obligated on this specific day to honor me, analyze my title and place me in some pre-determined category. Who I am and what I mean to my children is as individual as they are. No. On Mother’s day we plant. We put flowers in dirt and let the commercial expectations of maternal celebrations pass us by. In mid-May there’s no danger of frost on the ground or in our hearts.