July 11, 2012

Changing Heart

The first Mark Ryan panel sewn into a Quilt block.

Himself:  Fixed the dishwasher.  This is major!  Comic Con starts Thursday and he can pick up his 4 day badge today at a hotel in the valley.  Lessa’s Birthday meeting and museum opening Friday night, and next week a conference in OC for two days.  He was mesmerized by the Slumdog Millionaire.

Herself:  Very powerful movie last night.  Had a couple of revelations.  I was sleeping more and more during the day until G added a little real coffee to my morning jolt yesterday.  Must be the new BP med.  I’m not impressed.  It’s frightening to doze off unexpectedly and often. 

Reading:  The last of the Crider’s I own.  Waiting for the Castillo’s to arrive.

Balance:  Waking up. 

The last few years, I have been worried that I was making little contribution to the world.  Oh, we all do things like recycle, and many of us volunteer but that didn’t seem enough. 

In the past, perhaps even involuntarily by being in the right place at the right time, I’ve actually done a few things that made a difference.  Don F and Paul H were two of the folks who got the Peace and Freedom Party started here in San Diego.  I was married to Paul.  I was friends with Mike C when he began the movement to save the Tijuana Sloughs as a nature area.  Until I went mad as a hatter with drugs and alcohol, I made a serious contribution to what is now known as Border Park.  Pigheadedly I refused to go to the park’s ribbon cutting because it was done by Patricia Nixon. 

Later Grumpy and I spent a few years hauling fabrics and things to AIDS Quilt Workshops.  Although I was officially the Workshop Chairperson, Stir Margaret really ran those workshops.  I found a niche helping design and cut out the panels themselves.  G and I together also helped put on the displays and were the last three to close down the Quilt here in San Diego.

I feel that my participation in these things really made a difference.  But what had I done since then?

Nancy and Shirley presenting the second Mark Ryan panel.

Unloading stuff on Saint Vincent DePaul’s loading dock, shelving books, now sorting books often seem more like heavy labor than helping others.  I keep on doing it, but the truth is that I haven't been able to see beyond myself.

I walked into the downstairs bathroom for a toothbrush the other day, and saw the lemon candle that Nancy Ryan gave me at the last workshop.  Nancy Ryan really made a difference to a lot of people.  Nancy didn’t do anything big.  She physically didn’t change the world, but what she did do was change hearts. 

Nancy pinning the second Mark Ryan panel.

Nancy Ryan showed up every week to help make AIDS Quilt panels for others.  Nancy made two panels to honor her delightful son who died of AIDS.  Nancy was always there like a golden light no matter the pain of cancer, no matter her struggles with chemotherapy, no matter how tired or down she really felt.  Her hat perched squarely on her head, Nancy made a difference in a lot of lives.

Today when I go to shuffle an exceptionally large pile of books at the Discovery Shop, I will keep Nancy Ryan’s actions in my mind.  Perhaps something I do now will make a difference in a life later.  Who knows.  I certainly have to stop taking my actions so seriously.  Nancy didn’t.

Nancy with Stir Margaret and the sewing sisters at a panel conference.


  1. I volunteered for this that and the other in the past, but these days I do nothing for nobody except take care of David and offer support for one grandchild or another.

    I have taken in birds from the animal shelter, but other than make donations to favorite charities, I am not very involved.

    Strangely, I don't feel guilty either. Wonder why?


  2. I often have the same thought. I've always strongly believed every person living in a community should do some kind of volunteer work and for the first time in many years I'm not. I suppose I feel guilty because I don't miss it. BP medications are famous for making you feel sluggish.

  3. You have been a major influence in my life, Mage. So there!

  4. Just spreading love and laughter is a huge donation to others. I often think I should be volunteering but haven't found where I can be of use without a serious commitment that I can't always fulfill.

  5. My bet is you've actually done a few things that made a difference. Don't underestimate yourself, but I admit I like humility on all faces much better than braggadocio. Yours looks exceptional from where I sit twiddling my fingers.


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Peter in front of a wall sculpture. We were invited up to Peter Knego’s home to see the latest installation.   Abstract flat ...