Thursday, July 12, 2007

Calabash Family

A friend of mine, who is Japanese-American, talks about her Calabash Family - the family that grew out of shared meals and experiences, and close friendships. Calabash Family in many ways is closer than one's family of origin, because of the choice involved. My friend's relatives (origin and Calabash) are Hawaiian, where the expression "Komo E Kaukau" (come and eat) is the mose common greeting you hear. I tell her that they are really all Jewish, like me, because of the food thing. I tell her she's really an Alcoholic, like me, because of the food thing. She says I'm really a JAP like her, because of the food thing.

But so it is in AA - we go to meetings, and then we go eat. We go to coffee. We gather in each other's homes, and we share meals, experiences, tears, laughter, friendship, joy, sorrow, pain, and strength. Meetings? One to one and one half hours per day - all the rest, hours. Friendship has no time limit.

Since I moved to Los Angeles, quite a few of my Calabash AA family from Chicago have died. There was Jimmy F., who died in his car listening to a questionable home run call during a Cubs game - heart attack. There was Mary, and Frank, both from cancer. Rosemary, who had a stroke. There was Alan, who, after recovering from 3 separate cancers, had a heart attack - they say he was dead before he hit the floor. And now Meri.

Today, I have a smaller perspective on the world. I feel powerless, and know that I am a small voice. I am strong within my Calabash, but in a larger scale, I am small. What seems important today is simple: how do I treat my fellow travelers? How do I behave at work? My goal is to be compassionate, kind, and tolerant. To be loving, and to not take myself too damn seriously - Rule 62.

Today, all I am going to do is focus on what is within my control and not worry about what is out of my hands. If I am a positive example, it spreads. That's what these people taught me, my Calabash Family. Be the change I want to see in the world. Be peaceful, be tolerant, be loving, be compassionate. Not so easy, if you're a self-centered alcoholic, like me. But nearly 19 years of recovery has shown me that change is inevitable, and so it has been with all of us who remain sober and useful.

Today, I will not wallow in anger or resentment. Today, I will follow Meri's example of joy in the small things. It's the best I can do, today.


proudprogressive said...

DivaJood, my condolences on your loss of Meri. That is a big one. The notion of having one's heart break open , has always appealed to me. It seems that yours is. As this post reflects the love felt for friends,or our families of choice. You also point out a fundamental truth - we need to strive to be the change we want to see. Small acts within and outside ourselves of random kindness, patience , love etc. The more of these good forces we can muster, the more hope there is that critical mass is reached.
Loss is part of our aging process, easy to write and say - much more gut wrenching to live through. eh ?

Beautiful post. I admire the risks you take and your passion for so many people and causes.

robin andrea said...

I was going to do a post today about community, the one we find online with each other. I feel more connected and closer to the people I "know" through blogging than I do to the people I see in my everyday life. We share something deeper and more honest. Your post reminds me why I feel that way. I like the word calabash, perhaps we have a virtual one here, divajood. You are in my thoughts.

Larry said...

If you or any of us do the things you mentioned in your post, then life will be more bright and less stressful.

Isn't that what we all really want?

Tree said...

So sorry for your loss, Ms. Jood. I hope you continue to write about what you're feeling. Take care of yourself, maybe a conversation with that adorable granddaughter would help?

Peacechick Mary said...

The path to acceptance is a rough road and I want to thank you for taking us along. I grow because you travel that road and share the journey with us.

Traveling Man said...

You do not know how far you reach and who you touch. Themes in your writings have reached a continent away to people you never met.

I feel for your loss. I will not say that I have sympathy for you because, to me, sympathy is a condescending emotion. I empathize with you. I have lost those whom I love.

And you are right. Family is not who you are related to. It is comprised of those you take into your heart.

Welcome to my family.

Traveling Man

mirth said...

One of the most beautiful and important sayings is 'Be the change you want to see in the world.'

You have enriched my life, Diva Jood.

The Future Was Yesterday said...

Today, I will not wallow in anger or resentment. Today, I will follow Meri's example of joy in the small things. It's the best I can do, today.
You are a shining example for all of us to follow! I was taught that the Serenity Prayer was of great use in times like this. Then later, I learned there was a short version of that, only to be used when all you could do was sit down and hang on by your fingernails, when you didn't have the strength to say the whole prayer.

That short version is:
"Fuck It!"

:) Hugs and prayers. You are never left alone.

LET'S TALK said...

Last year I took a trip to New York to say farewell to a Friend who passed July. My Uncle and I talked about the trip and the next morning I was called and told that he had been found dead in his home.

I cannot tell you how to grieve or what to think. I can only say time soothes the pain of your lost.

mirth said...

Diva Jood, I mention you in today's post...stop by for a read if you feel up to it.

DivaJood said...

Hey, all y'all, you have no idea how much your comments mean to me. First of all, I'm forever grateful to be above ground, clean and sober - because without that, I'd be an incoherent mess, and would not have the joy of friendship. And with great joy comes great sorrow; it's part of the deal.

Still, none of us can do life alone, and I count my blog community among my friends. Besides, it was blogging where I really found my voice.

Granny, welcome. Any friend of Bill W. is a friend of mine. Future, Meri taught me the short version - she also told me that "Fear" was an acronym for "Fuck Everything And Run", OR "Face Everything And Recover."

You all are lovely people. Hugs of gratitude to you all.

proudprogressive said...

The mention of grandmothers,makes me think of mine RIP. I am old enough to be one. (i have remind myself of that,as i have no kids) Anyhow her wisdom i can sum up in a couple of her quips -
"a day above ground is a good day" and "if enough people call you a horse, its time to get a saddle"

The last one i am not so sure about,given our current politics etc - the town cryers are often thought to be nuts,when they do not buy the party lines. However

i think her deeper message was Be Open, we all have blind spots to ourselves,and others can help us to see some of our ways that could require an attitude ajustment. I loved her dearly and feel her with me often. As a child,she was a light in my life.

Pursey Tuttweiler said...

I love the entire story, the Calabash friends. I am so sorry that Meri died, and the things you plan to do during your sorrow are wonderful. I too will follow Meri's example, and take joys in the small things.

enigma4ever said...

Be the change...that is beautiful and you are the Change, and I was so moved by this, and that you acknowledge what gifts these people have been in your life...and that you shared with us....namaste good woman...much light to you..