Let’s Give Peace A Chance

This last week has been a hard one. With all of the anticipation of the election here in the United States and the result causing a frenzy the likes of which I have never seen before in my lifetime was hard on all of us. 

I hate to admit it but I was born during Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s Presidency. So you do the math. I have lived through many presidential races and elections. When I was old enough to vote, my choice was not always the people’s choice. but I excepted it. I supported whomever was in office and I moved on. 

This past week was radically different-something that really was a revelation to me. I think to all of us. Social media has given rise to hate filled rhetoric. 

Formerly our news came from television, newspapers and radio and we relied on those outlets for unbiased reporting. We could make up our own minds in the privacy of our immediate friends and families. Today with existing platforms, we can spew hate behind a post. 

The infighting got so bad on my Facebook page that it was not fun to log on anymore. My daughters and some of their friends felt the same way. Their solution? Unfriend those who were going over the top with hate- filled speech. So two nights ago, with a click, I culled my friends and kept those who may have had other persuasions than I do, but were reasonable in their objections. Now I am free at last to return to Facebook. 

In this democracy there are winners. The winning candidate and those who voted for him. But in a way, we all should feel we are winners, because if the President-Elect does a terrible job, we have the power of our vote to change the POTUS. The people do have the ballot box power and the privilege to decide who speaks and governs on our behalf.  

I have never picked my friends by political persuasion, race or religion and I’m not going to ever go down that road. So, please, let us all move forward and enjoy life and the things that bring us together. Accentuate the positives in our lives and know we do have the power to rise above and accept our differences. 

Let’s give peace a chance.

Copyright©Sandra Hart 2016. All Rights Reserved

Scorpio Fire

I can’t believe I am married to a ninety-year old man! Next week my husband will have reached the magic number with birthday candles that would singe eyebrows and burn the house down. 

I can’t believe life and so many years have flown by so fast for us. Seems just yesterday he was this older-life-committed bachelor with prematurely white hair who was pursuing me. We met in New York through a friend. I wasn’t at all interested. A week later unannounced he was knocking on my door in New Jersey. Six years later, I said ‘yes’ and two years later we walked down the aisle. His friends couldn’t believe that at fifty-seven he finally made the plunge into married life. I couldn’t believe I was marrying this white-hired guy. 

My father was 10 years older than my mother, my late husband 10 years older than me, so age difference in partners never made me think twice about my marriage choices. Not that ten years today is considered a big gap in age, but when I remarried 32 years ago, there was a 13 year age difference between my new husband and myself. 

Let’s look at it like this, when I was ten years old and probably in the fourth grade my husband was twenty-three, had already finished his service in WWII and was making his way in the world of singles while I was learning to double-jump rope.  

Somehow I kept falling in love, stretching the age difference boundaries. There might be something psychological in my love/comfort choices, or maybe because of my parents successful marriage and healthy aging – who knows – but I never considered to think beyond anything more than that.  

In spite of it all, so-called May-December relationships, in which there’s a big age gap between the partners, can be rewarding — and also challenging if the husband was a bachelor for fifty-seven years. The good news is those issues can be handled, just like any other relationship issue — regardless of age if you are a saint like me. Plus you just have to know how to meditate. 

You know that switch most of us have that allows us to not always say what we are thinking? GOD forgot to give my husband one. Too many embarrassing moments as a result of this Divine mistake in engineering to fit into this blog, but if he has an opinion about you, or anything, he has no qualms sharing it immediately with you.

He is a master at exploding Gorilla glue in the microwave, controlling the tv remote and lovingly breaking most things he handles. I can’t count how many new sets of dishes I’ve gotten throughout the years, or how many clothes of mine that have worn his water, wine or any liquid he has been served at weddings. On the positive side, I always have a reason to buy new things.

My love has slipped and fallen on me in Big Lots dislocating my shoulder, in a Hilton parking lot tearing my rotator cuff and in Honolulu, resulting in a torn leg ligament. Collectively I’ve spent at least two years of my life with him either on crutches or in physical therapy.  

Think of a cross between Larry David and Chevy Chase and you’ve got it. For instance, throughout our lives together he often has walked whatever sweet dog we have had at the time and come into the house without realizing for hours our pet is still waiting faithfully on the other side of the closed door. 

Then there was the time he once drove away with our now-deceased caged bird in top of the car. Now don’t get sad, the bird lived to die of old age and didn’t die as road kill. The Pet Angels intervened once again and the cage landed safely in our neighbor’s yard. 

In the end I’ve had to understand there’s a big difference between being swept off your feet and staying for the long haul. Hard questions about love, aging, permanence, sacrifice, and acceptance have been an important part of our partnership. We are a perfect pair. I have the patience, understanding and independence needed for his personality and he has the Scorpio fire, loyalty and stability I need. 

I have just learned to sit far across the table from him at weddings, check to see if the dog is around after a walk, hide the Gorilla glue, never get another bird and not be offended if he waits a week to notice the Christmas tree is up. And of course, never forget that good night kiss!

 Happy Birthday, Love. Ninety more for you!

Copyright©2016 Sandra Hart. All Rights Reserved

Growing Wings Of Their Own

( Author Note: As former Romper Room Teacher and Pittsburgh CBS affiliate anchor, my children began their lives with Romper Room and Mr. Rogers as their ‘normal’ family. We relocated with my late husband to New Jersey 43 years ago, but no escaping for them – their friends here in New Jersey always remembered me as the lady on Romper Room.)

Growing Wings Of Their Own
It has almost been 20 years since one of my children took his sisters out from under the ‘Romper Room Mom’ shadow they had been living with for most of their lifetime. A new dimension was added to our lives and nothing would ever be the same again.
In 1996 my Atlantic Highlands, New Jersey singer/songwriter son, Emerson Hart, and his band Tonic released their first album, Lemon Parade, which rocketed to multi-platinum status and garnered him awards, including the Billboard Award for the #1 most played song on rock radio.
What followed in the ensuing 19 years would be world tours, six Tonic albums, two Grammy Nominations, ASCAP Award, movie soundtracks, two successful solo albums and concerts in war zones entertaining our American troops – even being knocked off of his feet by a bomb blast while the band was staying at one of Sodom Hussein’s Palaces in Iraq.
Springsteen. Bon Jovi. Both New Jersey icons, were already firmly established within the 80’s Rock frenzy by the time Emerson and Tonic came along. But the ‘new kid’ on the block from New Jersey, the late ’90’s talent entry, came into the game like gangbusters when music tastes were were changing. Emerson was on the tail end of Rock’s biggest roll, but he and Tonic have survived.
So have his sisters. Each of them with their own quiet, or not so quiet victories growing up and out from under the ‘Romper Room Mom’ memories.
So a toast from parents to our children and their victories growing up and out from under our wings. A toast for 20 more quiet and maybe not so quiet years!

Why We Sometimes Marry The Wrong Person

“It’s one of the things we are most afraid might happen to us. We go to great lengths to avoid it. And yet we do it all the same: We marry the wrong person.”

The New York times recently published an article on a subject that my children and I have often discussed. Choosing a partner subconsciously on the comfort level of what you knew growing up as a child most often than not guarantees a divorce in the future.

I came from a family where my parents stayed together until death. My brother chose a mate and they have been married for over 50 years. My first marriage ended in divorce. Why?

I have no doubt that my parents truly loved one another, but my father had a terrible temper and he and my mother bickered constantly. I vowed never to marry someone who had a temper, so I chose someone who had no emotion whatsoever. I swung the pendulum all the way to the opposite and instead of reaching a middle ground I ran away from familiarity that was not a comfort zone for me. Although we have been best friends since then, divorce was inevitable. There was no passion in our union. 

The issues regarding relationships and marriage were not open for discussion to us years ago. I wish I had had then the tools that are available today to young couples starting out in relationships. 

I am incorporating the article in this blog because I think it is right on target and explains so much about why and how we choose mates that might not be so right for us.

Why You Will Marry the Wrong Person

By ALAIN de BOTTON

MAY 28, 2016

IT’S one of the things we are most afraid might happen to us. We go to great lengths to avoid it. And yet we do it all the same: We marry the wrong person.

Partly, it’s because we have a bewildering array of problems that emerge when we try to get close to others. We seem normal only to those who don’t know us very well. In a wiser, more self-aware society than our own, a standard question on any early dinner date would be: “And how are you crazy?”

Perhaps we have a latent tendency to get furious when someone disagrees with us or can relax only when we are working; perhaps we’re tricky about intimacy after sex or clam up in response to humiliation. Nobody’s perfect. The problem is that before marriage, we rarely delve into our complexities. Whenever casual relationships threaten to reveal our flaws, we blame our partners and call it a day. As for our friends, they don’t care enough to do the hard work of enlightening us. One of the privileges of being on our own is therefore the sincere impression that we are really quite easy to live with.

Our partners are no more self-aware. Naturally, we make a stab at trying to understand them. We visit their families. We look at their photos, we meet their college friends. All this contributes to a sense that we’ve done our homework. We haven’t. Marriage ends up as a hopeful, generous, infinitely kind gamble taken by two people who don’t know yet who they are or who the other might be, binding themselves to a future they cannot conceive of and have carefully avoided investigating.

For most of recorded history, people married for logical sorts of reasons: because her parcel of land adjoined yours, his family had a flourishing business, her father was the magistrate in town, there was a castle to keep up, or both sets of parents subscribed to the same interpretation of a holy text. And from such reasonable marriages, there flowed loneliness, infidelity, abuse, hardness of heart and screams heard through the nursery doors. 
The marriage of reason was not, in hindsight, reasonable at all; it was often expedient, narrow-minded, snobbish and exploitative. That is why what has replaced it — the marriage of feeling — has largely been spared the need to account for itself.

What matters in the marriage of feeling is that two people are drawn to each other by an overwhelming instinct and know in their hearts that it is right. Indeed, the more imprudent a marriage appears (perhaps it’s been only six months since they met; one of them has no job or both are barely out of their teens), the safer it can feel. Recklessness is taken as a counterweight to all the errors of reason, that catalyst of misery, that accountant’s demand. The prestige of instinct is the traumatized reaction against too many centuries of unreasonable reason.

But though we believe ourselves to be seeking happiness in marriage, it isn’t that simple. What we really seek is familiarity — which may well complicate any plans we might have had for happiness. We are looking to recreate, within our adult relationships, the feelings we knew so well in childhood. The love most of us will have tasted early on was often confused with other, more destructive dynamics: feelings of wanting to help an adult who was out of control, of being deprived of a parent’s warmth or scared of his anger, of not feeling secure enough to communicate our wishes. 
How logical, then, that we should as grown-ups find ourselves rejecting certain candidates for marriage not because they are wrong but because they are too right — too balanced, mature, understanding and reliable — given that in our hearts, such rightness feels foreign. We marry the wrong people because we don’t associate being loved with feeling happy.

We make mistakes, too, because we are so lonely. No one can be in an optimal frame of mind to choose a partner when remaining single feels unbearable. We have to be wholly at peace with the prospect of many years of solitude in order to be appropriately picky; otherwise, we risk loving no longer being single rather more than we love the partner who spared us that fate.

Finally, we marry to make a nice feeling permanent. We imagine that marriage will help us to bottle the joy we felt when the thought of proposing first came to us: Perhaps we were in Venice, on the lagoon, in a motorboat, with the evening sun throwing glitter across the sea, chatting about aspects of our souls no one ever seemed to have grasped before, with the prospect of dinner in a risotto place a little later. We married to make such sensations permanent but failed to see that there was no solid connection between these feelings and the institution of marriage.

Indeed, marriage tends decisively to move us onto another, very different and more administrative plane, which perhaps unfolds in a suburban house, with a long commute and maddening children who kill the passion from which they emerged. The only ingredient in common is the partner. And that might have been the wrong ingredient to bottle.

The good news is that it doesn’t matter if we find we have married the wrong person.
We mustn’t abandon him or her, only the founding Romantic idea upon which the Western understanding of marriage has been based the last 250 years: that a perfect being exists who can meet all our needs and satisfy our every yearning.

WE need to swap the Romantic view for a tragic (and at points comedic) awareness that every human will frustrate, anger, annoy, madden and disappoint us — and we will (without any malice) do the same to them. There can be no end to our sense of emptiness and incompleteness. But none of this is unusual or grounds for divorce. Choosing whom to commit ourselves to is merely a case of identifying which particular variety of suffering we would most like to sacrifice ourselves for.

This philosophy of pessimism offers a solution to a lot of distress and agitation around marriage. It might sound odd, but pessimism relieves the excessive imaginative pressure that our romantic culture places upon marriage. The failure of one particular partner to save us from our grief and melancholy is not an argument against that person and no sign that a union deserves to fail or be upgraded.

The person who is best suited to us is not the person who shares our every taste (he or she doesn’t exist), but the person who can negotiate differences in taste intelligently — the person who is good at disagreement. Rather than some notional idea of perfect complementarity, it is the capacity to tolerate differences with generosity that is the true marker of the “not overly wrong” person. Compatibility is an achievement of love; it must not be its precondition.

Romanticism has been unhelpful to us; it is a harsh philosophy. It has made a lot of what we go through in marriage seem exceptional and appalling. We end up lonely and convinced that our union, with its imperfections, is not “normal.” We should learn to accommodate ourselves to “wrongness,” striving always to adopt a more forgiving, humorous and kindly perspective on its multiple examples in ourselves and in our partners.

Alain de Botton (@alaindebotton) is the author of the novel “The Course of Love.”
Follow The New York Times Opinion section on Facebook and Twitter (@NYTopinion), and sign up for the Opinion Today newsletter. 

Friends For Life

  

Friends are the bows on the tail of our kite. Without them we are rudderless and we can’t fly. Although we don’t often look back to see them, their presence will always be a part of us. When I have lost a bow that has loosened from my string, I dip. I feel it fly away and my journey is altered forever. 
Copyright Sandra Hart©. All Rights Reserved.

  

Healthy Selfishness

Healthy Selfishness
Recently, I find myself less willing and sometimes overwhelmed with responsibilities to others that I always assumed was my duty. In the past that is the dynamic that I have put forth.
I thought I would share with you my thoughts from a different perspective about the new seeds that are springing fresh life into the old landscape of our attitudes and relationships. Selfishness has always been a negative word for me. It was only recently that the world received the good news that a degree of it is not only okay, but an important ingredient in living a full life and its presence-or lack of it-can make a difference in both the big and small issues in your life.

The true cost of self-denial is high. In failing to put our own needs first, we hope or assume others will give to us as we give to them. But they don’t always. And an unhealthy dynamic begins.
Many see healthy selfishness as a higher level of mental function that can help you reach your full potential. People who practice healthy selfishness have a zest for living, a joy that comes from savoring one’s accomplishments.
Healthy selfishness opens the door to a life of freedom-freedom from being ruled by the opinions and demands of others as well as freedom from the voices in your own mind, often left over from childhood.
Healthy selfishness involves accepting your weaknesses and imperfections without beating yourself up. It means nurturing yourself and loving yourself unconditionally.

Put yourself in control. Here are your options:
Small steps. (i.e.) Don’t offer your significant other the television remote right away when beginning an evening of television together.
Longer Strides. (i.e.) Don’t offer your significant other the television remote.
Life-changing leaps. (i.e.) Hide the remote in a safe place and then hold it securely in your hand and control it all evening.
Excerpt from Read Between My Lines by Sandra Hart Myartisansway Press 2007 copyright
(Sandra Hart is the former Ms. Sandra of the children’s television program Romper Room and is a working actress, award-winning author of Behind The Magic Mirror and Places Within My Heart and is a motivational speaker. She lives in New Jersey and South Beach with her husband and is “Nana” to four fantastic grandchildren.)

Copyright Sandra Hart  All Rights Reserved

SoulCycling Grandma

Today’s spinning grandmothers has nothing to do with spindles and wool. They say today’s 60’s is the new 40’s.  We are healthier, more nutritionally informed and educated about the mind/ health relationship to longevity. We have the advantage of advanced medical care and preventative medicine. Statistics show that normal life expectancy for the Millennials may be into the early 100’s.  Great news, yes?
Maybe for some, but along with this focus on youth and the ability to stay physically fit longer into the ‘grandma years’ is the slowly eroding Norman Rockwell’s image of Grandma and Grandpa. Perhaps a sad farewell and a bitter pill for those who want Grandma to still be round and cuddly and let’s face it – comfortably ‘old-looking’ like most of our real Grandmas looked in the 1940’s.
My 1940’s grandmother was a bit overweight, wore neatly ironed house dresses and her gray hair in a bun on top of her head. She was warm and snugly and wore an apron when she cooked. Grandma looked like all of the other grandma’s I knew as a child.  But the sad reality is that my grandmother also died in her late 50’s of angina from her fatty cooking and hard work slaving over the stove and caring for her ten children.  I would say, honestly, not so great for snugly Grandmas in those days.
The 1940’s WW II women and soon to be grandmothers of the 1960’s were emancipating themselves. No one would  ever have accused my mother or her sisters of slipping into the gray ‘grandmother background’ as their mother’s generation did.   Mother looked like all of the other women in the 1950’s who were still homemakers, but younger looking, interested in homemaking, but just as interested in fashion and looking good. The 1960’s grandmothers were slowly inching their way out of the stereotypical image of grandmas past.  They, like most grandmothers of their era, loved their husband, children and grandchildren first, but keeping up with fashion and beauty trends came a close second.  And a job outside of the home to keep busy after her children were emancipated was not frowned upon either. (As a matter of fact I owe my career to my mother.) Grandmothers were beginning to not live in the shadows of ‘old age’ and were still having a life in their second chapters.  
The Millennial Grandmother. This is where within the timeframe you and  I jump in, and I am a little confused about my role as both mother and grandmother post childrearing, too. Not confused at my overwhelming love and undying support for my children and grandchildren, but confused about who they might expect me to be.  I am not my mother. I am not my grandmother and maybe I may not be like the average over-fifty woman. I am me. As a woman I want to be honored as relevant and accepted for who I am, warts and all, and appreciated for what I have contributed to their lives. We are all trying our best by trial and error. 
Women of my generation, for the first time, are more free to be ourselves, always evolving perhaps, but not forced to be put in boxes with labels. We are women first. We don’t have to be ‘old’ in our thoughts or actions.  We mothers all have always had needs and wants stored on the back shelf while our energies were dedicated to focusing on getting everyone out of the nest equipped with the greatest survival kit we could put together. But those personal needs and dreams of ours never died while sleeping. Our grandmothers and mothers may have dared to dream a life of their own, but few could live those dreams beyond their jobs as mother and caretaker of those she loved most.
Perhaps the label ‘Mother’ is so strong that our children grow up not knowing who we really are after we take off our ‘Mom’ hats and we each begin our own lives. News flash children of ours. We are the same person we have always been.  The same people who wiped your bum and kissed your scrapes when you fell down. The same people who cheered at your football and basketball games and dance concerts. We haven’t changed. But you have, and by doing so, sometimes you expect us to still be wearing the ‘Mom’ hat and not allowing us to be free to be who we always have been before you and I were introduced. 
Every birthday I am reminded that my diary only has so many pages left and how much the conflict of my and my husband’s needs and my desire to spend as much time as possible with my children and grandchildren is a reality.  In this age of family diaspora, the juggling act never ceases it seems. I am sure we are no different than most. 
In the end, I am so grateful to be living in this time – in the NOW, because my generation of women, mothers and grandmothers, as I noted before are usually younger physically and mentally than our chronological ages. Due to this wonderful phenomena of being able to live a full life after raising our children,  I believe we are sometimes a shock to our children.
 Well, mothers unite this Mothers Day. We should have a message for our children.  They are going to have to get over it, because our grandchildren are cool with it and most of us well over fifty don’t want to be other than who we are and comfortable in our own skin. 
As long as we can have ‘forever careers’ if we want-or not, go to Vidal Sassoon, wear MAC lipstick, do yoga, SoulCycle, Tweet, text, WordPress, Instagram and have Facebook friends, humor us.  We mothers and grandmothers are in this life on your side for the long haul and are just being the women we have always been hidden under the ‘Mom’ hat. Could it be you were too busy living your own lives that you just didn’t take the time to see?  
©Sandra Hart 2015. All Rights Reserved.
  

Faces Of Miami

I love the series Humans of New York where the photographer takes a candid photo and then interviews the person behind the image. Their stores are absolutely fascinating. How many of our own stories with humans have we missed on a daily basis by having our faces stuck in our iPhones.)

IMG_0729-3.PNG

My Humans Of Miami Story

I was alone except for the tired restaurant worker still dressed in his work clothes sitting at the end of the bench with his head in his hands.

I pulled my straw hat down a little further to keep the hot noonday sun burning through the waving palm fronds off my face. I was waiting for the South Beach jitney to take me up to Lincoln Road where I planned to do some last minute Christmas shopping.

Suddenly this tiny little woman who had hurriedly crossed the street stood looking as though she wasn’t too sure where she wanted to sit, but then quickly plopped down beside me.

“Have you been waiting long?” she asked.

“No, but you know the jitney. It sometimes takes awhile for it to get here,” I replied.

She seemed very sweet, casually dressed, beyond middle-aged with her graying dark hair pulled back in a bun and small frizzy curls in front of her ears were let loose to fly a bit in the air. She looked like she could be someone’s sweet grandmother, I thought she probably was and was taking the bus back to Miami.

“Are you visiting?” I asked.

“No. I live here. My parents immigrated from Cuba when I was three years old. They were trying to escape the Castro regime. So I have lived in the states most of my life. Not always in Florida, because I went to New York to go to college. Then after college I moved to an apartment with some friends in the village and started working in the music business. Then after that we moved to Williamsburg and until I retired, I was involved with a large company that did a lot of the organizing for shows on Broadway. When I retired I moved back down here to Florida to be next to my son. Now I’m a chef for one of the private yachts in the marina here. The owner has a gluten sensitivity so it’s a challenge for me to try to create recipes without any ingredients that have gluten. But I’ve become pretty good at being able to do Cuban dishes and other dishes by substituting gluten-free products into those menus.”

We continued our conversation on the bus until she arrived at her stop. We exchanged business cards and she went on her way. She was such a fascinating woman. I was so wrong and have to claim stupidity in my initial narrow first judgement and impression of her. What I would have missed, not speaking with her! She was a well-educated, smart entrepreneurial woman.

The moral of my encounter is two pronged. Never judge a book by it’s cover and never miss a fascinating encounter by connecting with a fellow human, even if it is at the bus stop. What an interesting human story I would have missed had I not kept my iPhone in my purse.

Copyright Sandra Hart 2014. All rights reserved.

The Father Who Might Have Been

(The following is a reprint of an article written about my son and I by Brain And Behavior Research Foundation May 27, 2014.)

Holidays are sometimes very hard for those with depression and other forms of mental illness, so I wanted to share our story again to give hope to families who are in chaos due to mental illness to give them hope that research and cures are our biggest priority. We care about you.

In Schizophrenia’s Wake, a Son Laments the Father Who Might Have Been

IMG_0693.JPG
Sandra and Emerson Hart, Professional Actress from “Romper Room” and Grammy-Nominated Singer/Songwriter, Lead Singer of Tonic
Sandra and Emerson Hart

Emerson Hart is a singer-songwriter. In the 1990s, he co-founded the Grammy-nominated rock band Tonic and, as the lead singer, has written hit songs for the band’s multi-platinum albums. Emerson credits his mother, Sandra Hart, an actress and writer, for his love of language and performing, and his late father, Jennings, a singer in his youth, for handing down his musical talent. But Jennings also bequeathed to his son a darker legacy.

The most salient fact of Emerson Hart’s life from earliest childhood, one he kept hidden for years, was his father’s mental illness. Untreated and only belatedly diagnosed as schizophrenia, it manifested itself in abuse and rages that cast a shadow of unrelenting terror over the family, which included Sandra’s two small daughters from an earlier marriage. A decade ago, Emerson began confronting the family “secret” with the release of his first solo album.

IMG_0694-0.JPG
Emerson Hart, singer/songwriter

“I love kids and I wanted to be a father,” he says, “but I felt that if I continued to keep that stuff inside, it would poison my relationship with a child.” (He now has a daughter, Lucienne, age six.) Since he has gone public, many fans tell him, often in tears, that his story is theirs. This is a main reason he and his mother so strongly support the work of the Brain & Behavior Research Foundation—there should be a way to diagnose and treat these illnesses before havoc is wreaked.

The story began in 1968 when “Miss Sandra,” then the Baltimore-area hostess of the children’s television show “Romper Room,” found “the perfect husband.” Jennings, she says, “was handsome and charming, had his own business, lots of friends and a beautiful Irish tenor voice.” He also, she was to learn, had great skill at hiding the symptoms of his illness.

IMG_0695.JPG

After Emerson’s birth in 1969, Sandra struggled to keep the family functioning. Then came a night when goaded by inner voices that told him she was unfaithful, Jennings, brandishing a screwdriver, lunged at her. She was somehow able to knock him off balance long enough to grab the children and flee. Arrested and hospitalized, Jennings was finally diagnosed and treated, but as soon as he was released and returned home, he stopped his medications and the violence resumed.

Unable to help him and increasingly concerned for her family’s well-being, Sandra divorced Jennings in 1977. Then, she says, the stalking began. “He stalked and threatened me constantly. I was certain he would kill me.” Instead, in a stranger-than-fiction twist, Jennings was killed, or so it is presumed. In 1980 he vanished without a trace, believed murdered by a jealous husband.

Sandra Hart – “Behind the Magic Mirror”For Sandra, Jennings’ death brought relief, but closure came slowly. Although she married again, happily, and resumed a career as a television and film actress, it took her decades to exorcise the past. She did, finally, by writing about it in the book “Behind the Magic Mirror.” (photo above) (Romper Room fans will recognize the allusion to the show’s “magic mirror.”)

For Emerson, the death brought nightmares. “To this day,” he says, “when I’m under great stress, my father will appear in my sleep, sometimes alive, sometimes dead, smoking a cigarette and staring at me.” Because of the unresolved circumstances of the death, Emerson long feared his father might return. Another “hammer over my head,” as he calls it, was the worry that he would inherit his father’s illness.

Ultimately, however, his deepest feeling is sadness. “If my father had had the right diagnosis and medication early on, if treatment had been possible, with all the good qualities he had going, I know he would have been an awesome father.”

IMG_0695.JPG.

Friday’s Bits and Pieces-Facebook Woes

IMG_0663.JPG

Let me know what you think. Lately I’ve become very bored with Facebook. It used to be when I logged onto Facebook it was everyday stories about your friends – pictures, recipes, family events, sometimes a forward of a funny video, but it mostly was allowing us to share our daily lives and interests with each other.

I find now when I log on Facebook it’s filled with massive forwards, unsolicited advertising, crazy videos, and such impersonal stuff that it really isn’t telling me anything much about my friends, except what they’re reading on Facebook and passing on. For me, Facebook has lost the intimacy and the specialness that it used to have.

Now, I don’t want to clump everyone in this great big lump of impersonal information, there are many of my friends who are very clever about their comments and they share extremely interesting and enlightening posts. But too many of my small group have gotten lazy about posting about their lives. These postings used to enable me to connect with them. It always gave me the feeling that I’m living in real time with them on a personal basis. That I’m sitting across from them at their kitchen table with a cup of coffee and just chatting one on one.

Facebook used to be a cozy corner in my daily life where I could sit and have a few moments of intimacy with friends, new and longtime friends, that are farther away than just around the corner.

Don’t get me wrong, I love the convenience of certain internet benefits. As a writer, so many great benefits. But I hope the pendulum soon swings back to the original intent of Facebook’s personal connection and exchange of interesting ideas over a cup of coffee from my house to yours.

IMG_0664.PNG