Ex Tenebris – Lux

This time, last year, was the most difficult of my life. I was afraid you would come early and I would be alone.

Your father was making my life a living hell. Though I was on bed rest, and I had horrible sciatica that kept me from being able to walk more than tiny steps, I was forced out of our little flat many times to finish the process for your Anerkennung because he did not.

Every day that I did not feel you moving around, I worried. The majority of my hours were spent talking to Lindy or Godmum or the Henrys or anyone free to talk. I cried a lot; it wasn’t the hormones. It was fear that you wouldn’t be healthy because of all the stress.

Usually, I watch West Wing twice a year. I watched it twice in those 2 weeks. I had it on all the time. I wrote dozens of spreadsheets about budgets, potential costs, etc. assuming there would be little help from your father. I reorganized your nursery a few times day.

When you and I were alone, it was bliss. I would sing to you, I would sit in your nursery with the furniture Pop Pop, your grandfather, gave you. I put together a rocking chair for you, maneuvering around my big belly! I made sure to give you everything you needed for a good start.

But, emails and messages would come. Every communication from your father was awful. Every lie he wanted me to tell, every cover-up – I refused. This made him angry and punitive. He is still punishing me and so is she. She doesn’t know the truth. But, I know her truth from last summer. I know their truth from the past few years. I also know my own. I will have no qualms telling you mine and you can judge for yourself one day what you think of theirs, collectively and individually.

One year later. This week was the last week for any sort of an agreement. After months of back-and-forth, it is over. For what purpose was there a reason to fight with me, you will ask me one day? I don’t know. He does nothing to help care for you and hasn’t asked about either of us since September 15, 2016. I suppose, again, he just wants to punish me and you, by extension.

I gave up. I proposed your father give me full legal custody, the judge and his lawyer didn’t like that. So, I proposed your father have possessory custody, your father didn’t want that either. At the end, he only wanted to terminate his rights and obligations, which I would not let him do. YOU can decide to terminate those obligations. Not me. And, definitely not him. You are his child and you have the right to know your father and your half siblings, if you want to someday. He cannot take that right away from you. He cannot threaten me OR you anymore – not through his messages, emails, or his lawyer(s).

As I look forward, like any parent would be, I am scare of a million things. I am also brave and resolute. I will do whatever I need to do to give you all the love, financial support, healthcare, education, and anything else you need. I will happily do that alone.

Du bist Mama’s Bärli. Ich liebe dich mehr als alles. DU bist alles das wichtig, rein, und gut ist. Wo ich gescheitert habe, du musst nicht leiden. Ich werde alles für dich möglich sein.

After this, as far as I am concerned, I won’t need to talk about either of them again until you are older.

Ex tenebris – lux. Amen.

First Steps on Swiss Independence day (of course)

Little Bear, you took your first steps on one of Momma’s favorite days – August 1st. This is the day that Switzerland celebrates its national day. I’ll tell you a lot of things about it when you’re growing up. We may even go see the little hill with the flag.

“Bower,” our family’s patriarch, just wrote to Momma and said, “My boy already knows history!  He was waiting for this auspicious moment. R.” Indeed.

You let go and walked straight to me. Didn’t look down. Didn’t stumble. Didn’t have the nervous heartbeat that Momma had. Just walked right to me.

On August the 1st.

When Momma lived in her beloved country, she celebrated Swiss National day every year and we will continue to celebrate it. In 2009, I hugged a St. Bernard, ate Raclette, and watched fireworks fill the sky over Zürich. In 2014, I sang at The Hospice of Grand St. Bernard. I opened my mouth and sang the Schweizerpsalm, by memory, in front of a wonderful crowd. It was magical. Last year, I was in the hospital because we were trying to keep you cooking! I still sang the Schweizerpsalm.

This year was such a sad August 1st for Momma because ich habe Heimweh aber du hast mir die Schweiz gebracht. Bärli. Möckli. Augöpfli. Ängeli.

I dream that someday, maybe, your first steps across a Swiss bridge will happen in Luzern on an August 1st? Maybe your first steps climbing a mountain will happen in the Valais on an August 1st? Maybe your first steps in a new office will happen in Geneva on an August 1st? Probably not. Most offices would be closed.

Anyway, great dreams. Crazy dreams. Just like Momma has always had.

 

Dallas – are we #DallasStrong? Next step #Shavon

I use the hashtags with intended respect to the movement “Dallas Strong” and the memory of 13-year old Shavon Randle. 1499120394-21972030_14990282510_r

Yesterday marked the anniversary of a horrific crime in Dallas that united a nation in abject disgust. A blue president joined a red president to grieve the abominable nature of shootings targeting our brave men and women in the Dallas Police Department and Dart Police. Twitter was filled with people expressing sympathy through #DallasStrong. Our police chief and mayor focused on unity through peaceful and productive reactions, not incendiary ones. As a result, the city stayed calm.

I am a single mom and supporting my son alone. We will be “diner” people for the rest of my life, though I hope he will have the option of five-star restaurants, if he should choose them. One reason we will be “diner” people is my desire to pick up the check of first responders I see. Paying 20 dollars for 2 Lunch Enchilada plates at El Arroyo for two female DPD that protect this city? Nothing.

My fervent prayer is that our DPD and Dart police officers realize how much this city not only supports them, but will not tolerate crimes against them. Do we expect the DPD and Dart Police to operate fairly and justly? Absolutely. Every life matters.

So, why do I mention Shavon? Because it’s time to protect the next group that needs protection – our children.

Dallas, let’s be truly #DallasStrong. Let’s be a city that calls out the fact that every person implicated in the July 2017 horrific Dallas crime detailed here is a person of color that is or is under the age of 30.

Children are not born criminals and/or drug dealers. Poverty, fear, and desperation are the birth parents of drug dealers and criminals. Cities allowing and tolerating socioeconomic, especially health and education, segregation and inequality are the birth parents of drug dealers. Ignorance, apathy, and insouciance are the birth parents of criminals. Children, like Shavon, have one job: take full advantage of the education afforded to you.

As adults, we have many jobs. At the local level, one of the most important jobs we have is making certain that every child is given the best start we can given him/her.

These alleged criminals were Shavon’s age. What did Dallas do to help them achieve good health? good educations? good homes? SAFE homes? SAFE schools? SAFE communities? Conjecture here, but I’m guessing their “jobs” as children were not strictly focusing on school. Take a look.

According to city-data.com, here is a comparison between crime stats in Highland Park (a small community in Dallas county with excellent schools) and Lancaster (Shavon’s community) in relation to the US average. What you will notice is primarily two-fold. First, notice the stark contrasts between these numbers (there are no stats for Lancaster in 2014 or 2015). Second, this is key, notice that the trend in HP and the US is a decrease. It’s not so for Lancaster.

HP Stats – 2013-2015

HP

Lancaster Stats – 2011-2013

Lancaster

Next step in #DallasStrong is being stronger. There is strength in being honest about what we are not doing well, as we saw last year. Our brave men and women in blue needed our support. 2017 – we are failing our children, Dallas. We need to be honest, get #DallasStrong, and step up. One of the best ways to step up? VOTE. Inform yourself about candidates supporting a stronger public school system with better pay for teachers, better security (not armed security), etc. Support candidates fighting for healthcare for all, not just those who can afford it. Support anyone trying to pull people up, instead of kicking them when they are down. Volunteer and get involved in educating all Dallas’ kiddos – not just your own.

A better start for our kids. Shavon deserved it. Her family deserved it.

#DallasStrong – the new chapter. All of Dallas’ children deserve it.

 

The Day of Your Baptism

IMG_9635It was sunny in Dallas on June 17th and 2PM in the afternoon. It was an interesting sunny for Dallas, Texas. We’d had lots of rain and the sky was actually quite dark that morning. But, when it was time for you to be baptized into the community of faith I’ve chosen for you at this point in your life, the sky was full of sunshine.

Your entire God Squad was there for you that day.  Lindy and Pop Pop were there, wearing a corsage and boutonniere, respectively. Your Auntie and The Dude were there. The Ayres Little Men were Mother Amy’s helpers. You were surrounded in love.

You were baptized in All Saints chapel at the school your family always supported, even when it was not easy to do so. A mere hop, skip, and jump from the chapel is the Ayres Physics Lab. ESD sometimes forgets how deeply our family has loved it and I do not know why. Regardless of this sporadic amnesia, I am pleased you were baptized there.

In the ESD memorial pew were five roses – representing your great grandparents and a classmate of Mommy’s. IMG_9633

In the baptismal font was a special blend of holy water – some from Dallas, some from Mommy’s church in Luzern, and some from the holy River Jordan from Momma Sproaty’s trip to the Holy Land. You were blessed by water and God’s armor will protect every hair on your head.

There were two baptismal candles, including one from Lindy’s baptism. She has kept it for years, not even using it during the baptisms of her own children. It shone brightly, decades later, on your baptism, as if it was holding in so much of its glory in anticipation of that day.

Your godfathers were there. Your grandfather and uncle were there. Uncle Robert was there. Bop, Joe, Joe-L, Davey, your cousins, Rob, Bob, Hollye, Mike, Taffy, Rob, Father Casey, Larry, and a few others were there. Your father was not there. He did not call or write to Mommy because he will not speak to me. He does not accept my emails or my phone messages. I sent him a Tweet, which broke my heart. He did not respond. There were good men at your baptism, my son.

IMG_9608

Godpoppa and Mommy sang the hymn from Switzerland we sang at the Hospice two years ago. Mommy sang in German, then in French, and then we sang in English. Just as we did. Mommy held her Luzern rosary. Switzerland was well represented in water, song, and body. That made Mommy so happy.

Godmomma, Sproaty, and Godmum dressed you, as is the tradition. They robed you in the christening gown purchased in Firenze (Florence, Italy) in 2007 by Lindy. This gown will, we hope, be worn by Ayres children in the future. IMG_9620

You slept. You were so peaceful, you slept. Even when Mother Amy dropped the holy water on your brow, you barely stirred. You were the incarnation of the peace of Christ, my Bärli.

We all promised to support you during your faith journey. No one will do so more than Mommy. Whatever path you choose for yourself, after we have walked the first leg of your path together in the Episcopal Church, I will support you. I only pray you choose a path paved with the virtues of peace, tolerance, and love.

What a blessing you are.

Here is the God Squad: IMG_9523.JPG

I Did Not Make a Huge Mistake

For now, I have decided not to do the interview requested of me by a reputable reporter in Switzerland, who was to come to Dallas today. I remain appreciative of his diligence and grateful for the professional courtesy shown to both Henry and me since the press found out about Henry. However, the following is all the information I need to give (at this time).

My objective today is to publicly correct two wrongs – one done to my son and the other done to the people who protected (and still do) my son. All of the following can be substantiated by various communications from 2016 to the present.

In the fall of 2015, I started on the path to secure a meaningful life in Switzerland, my beloved and chosen home. I had some good friends, including Christophe, and I was on my way to graduating with a respectable degree in international law and economics. I hoped to spend the rest of my life in the country I loved while helping to make a real difference at the WTO in Geneva.

Everything stopped for me in January of 2016 when I realized I was pregnant. Let me be crystal clear: the best decision I ever made was having my son. Now, I will try to correct two grave wrongs, which have bothered me for months (in addition to a great many other atrocities).

Correction:

My son is not a mistake. My son is a gift to all who are blessed to know him. He is strong, already has a kind heart, and possesses a smile that brings joy to everyone upon whom his light shines. He is not anyone’s “schweren Fehler.” Any lawyer somewhat adept at public relations should have pointed out how vile and disgusting such a statement was. In my opinion, it was also patently false. There were (and are still) many mistakes made by his father, but Henry was not (and is not) one of them.

Correction:

Because a “version” of our story was purposely told to the press mere days after Henry’s birth, my son and I were consequently quite vulnerable. The staff, doctors, and Hebamme of Salem Spital went above and beyond the standard expectations for people in their positions to allow my son and I to be protected during a challenging time. Careful consideration was shown to every possible need and security precautions were put into place to safeguard Henry, my parents, and me. Salem Spital should be commended for the exemplary service and care they provide their patients and guests. Commended – not falsely blamed and treated with disrespect. I will no longer tolerate anyone condemning or  accusing Salem Spital of impropriety in any way.

Similarly disrespected during this time were my OB/GYN and my lawyer, Anna Murphy. Ms. Murphy fairly and fiercely fights for my son. My concerns, as they should be, are secondary to what she believes is right for my son and in full accordance with Swiss law and KESB protocol. She is an excellent lawyer, who was undeserving of the disrespect she received from the two people who should have been grateful for her protection of this child. My OB/GYN was the greatest blessing to come into our lives in Bern. Her discretion, professionalism, and personal encouragement helped me navigate my way through a very challenging time. She, too, is undeserving of any disrespect and derision from, again, two people that should be a) grateful and b) understanding, being parents themselves.

On a personal note, as a foreigner, I was very grateful for the kindness and support shown to me in the last few weeks of my pregnancy by the authorities in the Zivilstand in the Bern Cantonal offices and the people I spoke with at the KESB. These representatives, of their respective agencies, certainly demonstrate what is “right” with the system in Switzerland. I will never forget the employee who came to my home on her way to work to retrieve necessary papers because I was simply unable to walk due to sciatica. Anyone claiming Swiss people are cold or unfriendly, tell him/her to contact me. I have evidence the exact opposite is true of a great many Swiss people.

When a baby is unexpected, women have an advantage in only two ways. We have the ultimate choice on whether or not to have the baby and we have the immediate bond because the baby is a part of us. It was my experience, during the past year and 5 months, both of these advantages can be cause for tremendous conflict between a man and a woman. Punishing me for having these advantages is one thing – punishing a child is another.

My son, in addition to the other articles with that horrible headline, I’ll make sure you read this someday and I hope it eases the pain of what he said and did. We, you and I, both know who and what you really are – a miracle. 

Grandparents

I’ve written about it before. My paternal grandfather’s last day on this earth was May 21st in 2004.  That is the same day I was born in 1976.

I didn’t have a normal relationship with my grandparents. Normally, children see their grandparents a few times a year – I saw all four of mine weekly for almost 22 years (when we lost my paternal grandmother). Most children have a vague idea of the lives their grandparents lived before becoming “old” – I walked the steps my grandparents walked as children in their respective cities. I took road trips with all of my grandparents traveling to Hutchins or Port Aransas or Virginia. I soaked up every piece of wisdom, every note of a song danced under the moonlight, every bite of an old family recipe. When my son’s delivery date was chosen, it was only fitting that it was my maternal grandfather’s birthday. No one has had four such grandparents and no superlative I could use does them the justice they deserve. I think of each grandparent almost every day, sometimes multiple times a day.

On my birthday, I always try to do something to celebrate Pop’s wonderfully rich life. This year, I will drive my 8-month old son to the small town which molded his great grandfather to become a poetry-loving, Pearl Harbor-stationed, family-oriented SMU graduate. Just as Pop and I used to do, we’ll listen to Caruso, and I’ll make it a “perfectly bully” time.

I worry for my son’s lack of a father. When I was three months pregnant, I realized my son would probably be raised without a father’s influence. I worried about this for one year and two weeks. Then I remembered my grandfathers. Pop lost his father when he was a little boy, barely remembering anything about him. His primary male influence was his uncle, whom he always spoke of with childlike adoration. Granddaddy also lost his father during his childhood. He was taught how to be a proper, and I use that term in its full glory and dishonor!, gentleman by his older brothers. They were two of the finest men I will ever know – fatherless at an early age.

What I need to do, just as those folks helping mold little Rowe Jack and little Horace, is keep the fine influences strong. I do this by telling the stories of acts of kindness and gentleness I witnessed from Henry’s great grandfathers, grandfather, and uncle.

And, this year, on the day Pop and I share, I will find a street that bears his name. I will stand my son up, take his little hands in my hands, and “walk” with him down a street which little Rowe Jack’s (both of them) feet walked down years ago. My precious Pop will walk with me and his great grandson where life began for him on the day life ended.

What a beautiful moment for all three of us and how lucky I am to give it to Henry.

 

The High Road

There is a beautiful Wanderweg (clearly-marked walks through the Swiss countryside, mainly) in Kanton Zug. It sits atop the Zugerberg and contains breathtaking beauty, relaxing pedestrian strolls, a charmingly dilapidated church, fabulous tracks for bikers, and the “Skulpturenweg” for children and adults.

When I lived in Zürich, I took the short train ride (with my beloved SBB) to Zug, and  walked it many times. It was more meditation than sport. I would walk for hours – disappearing in the sound of cowbells and sunshine or rain or foggy mists.

The top of a Swiss mountain, even a “smaller” one like the Zugerberg, can make one pause. There is a literal and figurative perspective when viewing the city below that brings an immediate disconnect from “real life” and places one in the mountain’s uppermost sanctuary.

When looking down upon the city below, I recall feeling compelled to stay high. I wanted to stay at the top because being at the top felt easy and peaceful. Relative to what lingered below, the higher road above felt more who I was. (Do not mistake me, I can do it – work and live below – I just don’t want to.)

The low road is covered with soldiers running around wearing narcissism, greed, neglect, pathological lying, darkness, etc. like medals. It seems almost normal for quelque personnes on the low road to engage in the tearing apart of folks who don’t live like they do. People who place a higher premium on other virtues.

I don’t do that well and I hope my son will choose not to. It’s not a Catholic thing for me, it’s a human thing. I have one life, I don’t want to live it worshiping those gods.

The high road has better views and many things seem easier to “touch” up there – joy, God, clarity, compassion, sunshine. That’s what I want my son to strive for, also. Life can show you true joy when you stay focused on gratitude, generosity, and humility.

There’s one great thing that lives up there I failed to mention. Justice resides on the high road. Even as some on the low road fail to see her or care she is there. Justice always stays where the air is pure and the views are clear.

And, she’s one hell of a companion to have by your side.

Four Years Ago

I went to the Hospice for the first time.

I had no idea how much that place would change the course of my life.

I remember being told that the journey to the Hospice was difficult, but worth it.

I agree.

Here are a few of my posts on the Hospice and how much it has meant, and will always mean, to me.

http://wp.me/p2dSt7-5g

http://wp.me/p2dSt7-aj

http://wp.me/p2dSt7-6l

http://www.newlyswissed.com/great-st-bernard-hospice/

SDG †

12.04.2013 – 12.04.2017

 

Americans Need International Organizations and Here’s Why…

The United States has key relationships with other nations established by treaties, customary law, etc. These relationships may be volatile at times, but they are also crucial. They both secure our ability to trade and operate within the global economy and protect us (American citizens) from harm. That harm, as other nations have seen, sometimes encompasses both external and internal threats.

The US led the fight to revamp the League of Nations culminating in the establishment of the United Nations. The US argued for the formation of the GATT which later led to the World Trade Organization. In fact, the US either participated in or guided the creation of well over a dozen influential international organizations.

These organizations are tasked with duties affecting every aspect of our daily lives. Think I am being hyperbolic?

Here is what the often-maligned-by-our-current-President-and-his-staff organization NATO has been up to:

http://www.nato.int/cps/en/natohq/topics_52060.htm

Here is what the United Nations, similarly disrespected by the current crew, is responsible for (among other great works): http://www.un.org/en/sections/what-we-do/uphold-international-law/index.html

Here is what the WTO, an organization in the cross hairs of the current administration, does to help the US trade more effectively and economically: https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/monkey-cage/wp/2016/09/20/would-the-u-s-be-better-off-without-the-wto-not-when-the-wto-guides-98-percent-of-global-trade/?utm_term=.aa4951ed4418

The US has a key role in promoting and fairly participating in these organizations. Without the standards and regulations established by them, our nation will be adversely affected. Trade will suffer, putting a strain on our businesses, and the global economy could collapse.

Human rights violations worldwide, as we’ve seen in the latest mass migration, do affect every nation’s citizens, as we collectively strive to be a peaceful world. Environmental principles advanced at the international level (Paris Agreement, for example) are literally the bare minimum bargains between the US and other nations meant to maintain something as critical as a planet with breathable air, livable temperatures and sea levels, etc.

The US should be leading these international initiatives and organizations, not fighting them or publically rebuking them.

Having IOs establish global standards is not only in the best interest of every American, it is fundamental to our way of life. When I take away my son’s favorite toy because he has thrown it on the ground four times and almost broken it, he cries. He feels the loss.

Should the US continue to discount how essential international protections are, we will lose them. And, I feel we too will suffer. Greatly.

It is reason enough to be on the phone, every day, to our elected representatives.