Monday, April 28, 2014

Grateful and No Longer Jammed Up, by F.C.

In 1970, the Vietnam War raging, there I was......a U.S. Marine sitting in a Marine Corps Cattle Car.  We were on our way to war training maneuvers......all of us wearing helmets with our M-16's between our legs, not one man saying a word......a "lean mean fighting machine".....each alone with his thoughts and feelings......we keep to ourselves......frightened, lonely, jammed up.  We were being trained to protect our way of life, our country, and our families.

In 1987, I am on a commuter bus to New York City from a New Jersey suburb with a group of men.  We are the "suits"  We are being transported to the Big Apple to do battle.  We must protect our families, feed them, keep a roof over their heads.  We traded our M-16's for leather attaches.  I feel particularly secure in my three piece suit, because the vest is snug and protects my vital organs.  We catch each other's eyes occasionally and nod, then we hide in our newspapers (lean mean competitive machines).....each alone with his thoughts and feelings.....we keep to ourselves.....frightened, lonely, jammed up.

Suited for the Next Mission

Today is April 21, 2014.  I belong to a MWW Group.  We met this morning. There are 13 of us.  We've been meeting for a few years (and attendance has been great).  First we "check in" and then we discuss a topic.  So, what's the big deal.....right????  Yes it's a big deal and here's why it was for me today.  I came to today's meeting feeling overwhelmed.  My mother has been diagnosed with metastaic cancer,and I'm not seeing eye-to-eye with my siblings (need I say more?).  I felt alone with my thoughts and feelings, frightened, jammed up and I wanted to keep this to myself.; but that's not what we do in my MWW group.  So during "check-in" I share my problem; and after "check-in" the men devoted the rest of the two hours to sharing about the situation that I'm facing.  A situation that that they might have previously dealt with, or might soon deal with it in their own lives.  During the two hours I received incredible support and understanding.  I received wonderful wisdom. Everything that was shared with me contained forgiveness and compassion. They shared many great ideas with me.  I FELT LOVED.  After the meeting one fellow said, "Call me if you need anything".  Another said he would watch after my house when I go to my Mom's.

As I drove home my chest was no longer tight.  I did not feel alone with my problem.  I had shared it because that's what we do in MWW.  I don't know how it works, but it does.  I owe these men a debt of gratitude.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

The Impact of MWW on Men and their Wives by Karen O'Hara Rubin

My husband and I moved to Asheville, NC four years ago after just one visit six weeks prior.  We were ready for a change of pace and a better quality of life.

One of our first ventures was to begin taking classes at OLLI UNC Asheville's College for Seniors to meet other like-minded people.  On our first day we checked out special interest group displays and found a few things of interest. But the most meaningful connection was made at the display table for Men's Wisdom Works.

At first my husband wasn't interested in it because he perceived it to be something akin to group therapy.  I understood it to be a men's group to address men's issues in retirement, and kept encouraging him to give it a try, which eventually he did.  I had lots of bonding opportunities through book clubs, a golf group, and AAUW; but as is typical, we had no idea there would be something like this for him.

As I sit here a few years later, I couldn't have conceived the support and true friendships made as a result of him joining this group.  He enjoyed several close connections unlike any he had made while working.  The men from this group and their families rallied around us in an unexpected time of great need, when he was diagnosed and lost his battle with cancer a year ago.  And most surprising to me, is how all the men in his group continue to be there to offer support to me.  He would be so pleased.

I'm grateful these much needed men's groups were available, especially in our time of great need. 

Below is the epitaph my husband chose for us to remember him.

When I die
Give what's left of me away
to children
And old men that wait to die.
And if you need to cry,
Cry for your brother
Walking the street beside you.
And when you need me,
Put your arms
Around anyone
And give them
What you need to give me.

I want to leave you something,
Something better 
Than words
Or sounds.

Look for me in the people I've known
Or loved,
And if you can't give me away,
At least let me live on in your eyes
And not in your mind.

You can love me most
By letting
Hands touch hands,
And by letting go
Of children
That need to be free.

Love doesn't die,
People do.
So, when all that's left of me
Is love,
Give me away.