Posts Tagged ‘death’

Mom — 27 Years & Half of My Lifetime Without You

If you’re married and you make it to your silver anniversary or if you work at your job for twenty-five years, you know that you’ll go through a lot of changes — some good and some bad.  But, you achieved that milestone.

Today, my sister, Tammy, and I are marking a more solemn, 25-year anniversary — the death of our wonderful mother, Dessie.  She died of a heart attack on the morning of November 7, 1990.

This picture was taken on Mother’s Day that year.

Dessie 1990

In the past 25 years, there have been so many changes in the world — we now have the internet, cell phones, and in the United States, marriage equality (actually, more general equality than ever before), our first African-American president, and next November, we could very well elect the first woman president.

I know there are people who lose their mother in childhood or during childbirth and grow up not knowing what it’s like to have a mother.  Because of that, I’ll always be grateful that I got to share 26 years in this world with Dessie.

Dessie

She was there to see me make my theatrical stage debut in “The Curious Savage” and saw me present weather at Murray State University’s television station that was only broadcast on cable systems in just two cities.

MSUspring1985

My mother was there in the spring of 1989 when I became the first college graduate in our family.

Dessie Christmas 1989 Anthony Graduation Picture

I’ll never forget taking my mother to Sunday brunch at 101st Airborne in Nashville, Tennessee, in the spring of 1990.  She didn’t drink, but her champagne glass was empty every time the server came by and mine was always full since I kept switching glasses with her.  I’m sure the waitress thought Dessie was a lush and I was so innocent allowing my mother to drink so freely while I just sipped my champagne.

While there, I bought my mother the cassette single to Patty Loveless’ #1 hit, “Chains”.  At the time, I didn’t listen to country music.  But, when I started listening to the genre, Patty became one of my favorite singers and I can thank my mother for that.

As grateful as I am for the time we had together, I can’t help but think of the all of the things over the past 25 years that I never got to share with my mother.  There have been so many times in my life that I wanted to grab the phone and share something with her and then realize that I couldn’t do it.

My mother wasn’t here when I made the big decision, in the summer of 1994, to leave my small town Kentucky life and move to Chicago, the third largest city in America.

Chicago

She wasn’t here to see me start my paid, network-affiliated television weather career in Rhinelander, Wisconsin, and then move on to other jobs in Texas, Ohio, Maryland, and Illinois.  She didn’t witness me achieving my childhood dream of becoming a meteorologist and earning my “Seal of Approval” from the National Weather Association.

APWQAD8

My mother didn’t get to meet my best friend and the pride and joy of my life, Miss ABBA.

ABBA's First Christmas 2000

My mother was only 20-years-old when her mother, Reba, died of a heart attack.  Less than a year later, she was married and expecting her first child that came prematurely in October 1964.  (Yes, that would be me!)

Dessie-Hollie-Anthony -- Fall 1964

By 1966, she had two children and a stepdaughter and was in an unhappy (and seemingly loveless) marriage with an alcoholic womanizer.

She probably felt she had limited options because people stayed married.  Her paycheck from her minimum wage job provided me and my sister no frills, just the necessities — food and clothing.  But, she never complained about what she didn’t or would never have in life, including medication that may have kept her alive longer.

Dessie

While we didn’t sit around and talk about it, my mother always knew I was gay.  After all, she did buy me the “Colour By Numbers” album by Culture Club for my 19th birthday! 🙂

CultureClubColourByNumbersAlbumcover

Dessie was raised in a backwards, small town, Southern mentality and she was married to a sexist, racist, homophobic alcoholic.  When you add the conservatism of the Reagan era to her fire-and-brimstone-preaching church and the AIDS epidemic that exploded in the 1980s, you can fully understand why we never talked about my sexuality.

In the mid-1980s, when the story of actor Rock Hudson dying of AIDS broke and the disease continued to ravage the gay communtiy, she and most Americans probably thought that every gay person would contract HIV and AIDS and die.  Back then, it was pretty much a death sentence.

HIV AIDS

I became sexually active during that dark time and to this day, I’m still grateful to God that I remained HIV-negative when I knew many people that contracted HIV and AIDS — some are still living and some didn’t make it.

Dessie probably thought that the prospects of her openly gay, first-born son were bleak.  I wonder what she’d think today seeing me relatively successful and healthy at 51-years-old — something that wouldn’t have seemed very likely.

So much has changed on that front, too.  Today, with medication and a healthy lifestyle, people that are HIV-positive can live a normal life expectancy.

And, back then, a majority of people thought that gay people would have to live very secret and lonely lives without ever having the chance to find love and get married!

While it failed (in 2017), I got that chance and it was beautiful.  Thank you Iowa!

OurWeddingWedding Park Fountain

I did get married.  Thank you Iowa!

And, while this date is tough for me, it’s even rougher for my sister, Tammy.

TammyDessie

When my mother died, Tammy’s first son was just a toddler and her second son had just been born a couple of weeks earlier.  They never got to know what a great woman their grandmother was and would have been to them.

Dessie Birthday 1989

As I reflect back on my life with my mother, I was so fortunate to be loved.  She wasn’t just my mother.  She was my biggest supporter, she was my rock, and she was my friend.

When I think of all of the things I talked about today and not having a chance to talk to Dessie about them, I can still smile and feel warm inside.

I know that my mother was really with me all the time — in my heart and in my memories.

Anthony

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Random Friday Thoughts — June 27, 2014

Happy Friday!  This is the kickoff to the last weekend of June.  I cannot believe that one-half of 2014 is already behind us and the Fourth of July is next week!

We have nothing planned this weekend and that’s perfectly fine with me.  Thank you for checking out my random thoughts.

I hope you have a great one.

CELEBRATING 90TH BIRTHDAY

A couple of weeks ago, former President George H. W. Bush celebrated his 90th birthday by jumping out of a plane.

Before the jump, he tweeted, “It’s a wonderful day in Maine — in fact, nice enough for a parachute jump.”

Bush Jumping on 90th

I commend him for doing something that I’d never do.  He also took parachute jumps on his 80th and 85th birthdays.

George H.W. Bush becomes the fifth U.S. President to reach 90-years-old and he’s the fifth longest living President.  He joins the ranks of Gerald Ford, Ronald Reagan, John Adams, and Herbert Hoover.

Jimmy CarterJimmy Carter

God-willing, on October 1st of this year, my favorite President, Jimmy Carter, will become the sixth President to live to 90!

WAS THERE FOUL PLAY INVOLVED IN TAMMY WYNETTE’S DEATH?

I recently read “Tammy Wynette:  A Daughter Recalls Her Mother’s Tragic Life and Death” by Jackie Daly, the country legend’s second oldest daughter.

A Daughter Recalls

Tammy Wynette died in April of 1998 at the age of 55.  While she had health issues, numerous major surgeries, and an addiction to painkillers over the course of her life, the circumstances surrounding her death were very questionable.

This book is pretty one-sided since it’s told by a daughter that went to great lengths to prove that there was a cover-up in her mother’s death.  However, it definitely makes you realize that celebrity deaths are handled much differently than the deaths of average people.  And, even moreso, when there are millions of dollars at stake.

Jackie Daly (with Tom Carter) makes a good argument that it’s very suspicious that Wynette’s husband, George Richey, called his wife’s personal physician in Pennsylvania, hundreds of miles away, to inform him of the singer’s death before the local medical examiner was contacted.

Tammy’s four daughters would go on to file a $50 million wrongful death lawsuit against Dr. Wallis Marsh of Pittsburgh, who had prescribed the drug, Versed, to Wynette.  That drug has been proven that it could cause death if not administered by professionals and under supervision.

Richey was also named in the lawsuit for administering the drug, but he was later dropped.  The pharmacy, Care Solutions of Nashville, was also named in the lawsuit for delivering the painkiller.

Four years after Wynette’s death, a confidential out-of-court settlement was reached between Marsh and the four daughters.

ENOUGH ALREADY

I could care less about Chris Brown’s court appearances and Justin Bieber’s latest run-ins with the law.  Also, “Entertainment Weekly”, move on from “Game of Thrones” and “Mad Men”.  There are other things happening in the world of television, movies, music, and books!

WHAT’S NEXT?

Now that Ray and I are wrapping up the fifth and final season of “Fringe”, (R.I.P. Walter, Olivia, and Peter), we’re debating what series to watch next.  It’s between “Breaking Bad” and “True Blood”.

fringe-show

I think we’re leaning toward “Breaking Bad” since the seventh and final season of “True Blood” is now underway.

Also, the second season of “Under The Dome” starts Monday night, June 30th, on CBS!

Under The Dome

PICK HIT

Christian pop singer Amy Grant is ready to make a comeback on the pop charts and in the dance clubs.

Amy Grant

On August 19th, “In Motion: The Remixes” is released and it’ll feature remixes of some of her biggest hits by some of today’s hottest DJs, including Chris Cox, Tony Moran, Moto Blanco, Ralph Rosario, and Hex Hector.

“Baby Baby”, remixed by Dave Aude, is ready to blast its way into the dance clubs.

Since her first Christian hit in 1977, she’s hit the top of that chart 16 times and she’s also crossed over to the pop chart.

Amy has a total of ten Top 40 hits of the Billboard Hot 100, including five from her 1991 album, “Heart in Motion”, that sold more than five million copies in the U.S.

Of those pop hits, two have topped the Hot 100, “The Next Time I Fall”, a duet with Peter Cetera in 1986, and a solo hit, “Baby Baby”, for two weeks in the spring of 1991.

This is one release I’m looking forward to this fall.

“WALK OF SHAME”

The last comedy that really made me laugh out loud was “This Is The End” last year and that ended up being my fifth favorite movie I saw in 2013.

Now, I can add the box office bomb, “Walk of Shame” to that list of funny movies.  Yes, critics hated it and it was panned by the few movie goers that saw it.  For whatever reason, it was only released in 51 theaters for a week!  Nevertheless, Ray and I thought it was funny.

Elizabeth Banks plays Meghan Miles, a Los Angeles television news anchor, who is dumped by her fiance.  Her two friends force her to go on the town.  After getting drunk and hooking up with the very hunky Gordon, played by James Marsden, she leaves his place when he falls asleep and checks her messages.  The network is coming to see her show for a promotion to do the national news.

When she leaves Gordon’s place, her car is being towed away with her purse in it.  In her quest to get the car back, she runs into altercations with local drug dealer, prostitutes, the police, and that’s only part of the drama and the chaos.

So, it may not be Oscar-worthy material, but I laughed many times and I plan on buying the DVD.

Many of us have done the “walk of shame” and this is one I’d definitely do again!

GRADE:  B

I’M A LITTLE BIT COUNTRY

Since I talked about Tammy Wynette earlier in the blog, I’ll feature her in this weekly segment.

In her long career, Tammy scored 44 Top 40 hits on the Billboard Country chart.  Of those, 31 reached the Top Ten and 25 of them made the Top 5.

Tammy topped the country music chart 17 times and for a stretch from 1967 to 1969, she had seven consecutive number one songs.  Some of her number ones include “I Don’t Want To Play House”, “D-I-V-O-R-C-E”, and “Stand By Your Man”

“‘Til I Can Make It on My Own” is one of my favorite Tammy Wynette songs.  It hit #1 in the spring of 1976.

In addition to her solo hits (and a #1 duet with David Houston in 1967), Tammy also scored 13 Top 40 hits with George Jones.  Of those, eight reached the Top Ten and three topped the Country charts including “Golden Ring” and “We’re Gonna Hold On”.

tammy-wynette

With all the country success, only “Stand By Your Man”, her #1 1968 country hit crossed over to the Billboard Hot 100.  It peaked at #19.

However, that would not be her last appearance.  In late 1991, the British duo, KLF, called up the “Queen of Country Music” to lend her vocals to their hit, “Justified & Ancient (Stand by the JAMs)”.

That song made it all the way up to #11 on the Billboard Hot 100 and reached #2 on the Billboard Dance charts.

But, it hit #1 in Austria for five weeks and #1 in Sweden for three weeks.  It also topped the charts in Finland and New Zealand and almost hit the top in the U.K. peaking at #2.

R.I.P. TAMMY WYNETTE

THAT’S IT

Thank you for checking out my random thoughts.   Here’s hoping that we all have a great weekend.

Anthony

Love Every Day, Not Just on Valentine’s Day

If you’re single, there could be a reason that you’re spending this Valentine’s Day alone.  You could be going about it the wrong way.

Kangaroo

Folklore and science is used for more than forecasting weather!  Both even suggest ways to find a man or woman:  “Australian aborigines prepare a love potion from the testicles of kangaroos”, “pick an apple, prick it full of holes, carry it for a while under your left arm, then give it to your lover”, “swallow the heart of a wild duck”, or “hard boil an egg, cut it in half, discard the yolk, and fill the egg halves with salt. Sit on something you’ve never sat on before, eat the egg, and walk to bed backwards. You will dream of your future mate.”  Those are just a few suggestions.

Um, no thanks!  No wonder, before I met Ray almost four years ago, I was single for a long time.

Valentine’s Day is not a big deal to me.  It wasn’t when I was single and it isn’t now.  A card is enough for me.  Roses or flowers aren’t required and neither is a box of chocolates.  However, if Ray or Gretel buys a big heart-shaped box Friday at half price, I’m sure I’ll eat my share and then jump on the treadmill.

Fall 1964

When Valentine’s Day comes around, I think of my parents.  It was on February 14, 1987, that my father died of brain cancer.  He was 55.  While he had surgery two summers earlier, he took a turn toward the worse there at the end.  While it wouldn’t have been the end of the world, I was so glad it happened on Valentine’s Day and not the next day, my mother’s birthday.

He was not the romantic type, so Valentine’s Day didn’t hold any special meaning for my mother other than getting a horribly drawn card from me or my sister as kids or some awful poem that I remembering writing.  I’m sure it’s still in a box somewhere.

But, I guess whether he passed on Valentine’s Day or on her birthday, my mother, in 1987, spent her birthday planning his funeral.  Sadly, she didn’t have to always think of his death when her birthday rolled around because she died less than four years later.

While I shared that correlation with Valentine’s Day, it isn’t the reason that I just don’t care whether I celebrate it or not.

I just see Valentine’s Day as another money-making holiday with cards, candies, lavish dinners, and gifts. I think if you love someone, you don’t have to wait for some holiday to show it.  Express it every day because that day could be yours or their last.

I’ll never forget Valentine’s Day 2010.  It was the first one that Miss ABBA and I celebrated as a family with Ray and Gretel.  While I made steak and lobster tails for us, Gretel made us a heart-shaped quesadilla and Miss ABBA was excited to get her part.

ABBA VD 2010  Ray VD 2010 Gretel VD 2010Valentine Treat from Gretel

To my friends, thank you for being you and being my friend.

To my sister and Betty (Mom), I love you.  To Ray and Gretel, I’m blessed to have you in my life today and every day.

And, Miss ABBA, I’ll have a piece of chocolate for you today.  (Yes, I still buy myself a chocolate-filled heart “from you”!)

We don’t have Gretel tonight, so I think Ray and I are going to watch a movie, have a heart-shaped pizza, and a Choco Covered Strawberry blizzard from Dairy Queen.  And, this weekend, with Tammy and Gretel, we’ll celebrate then with a cold, grill out!

Happy Valentine’s Day!

Anthony

Look For The Silver Lining & Not The Cloud

This blog is not about weather.  However, I’m going to quickly mention it.  From a statistical standpoint, the middle of January is the coldest part of the winter.

Frosty Cold

This time of the year, you probably notice some people are more depressed.  It may have nothing to do with boyfriends or girlfriends, their life or lack of a life, or their financial situation.  Those people could not only be sad, but they could be suffering from “seasonal affective disorder”, or SAD.

Here’s what the Mayo Clinic says about it:  “a type of depression that occurs at the same time every year. If you’re like most people with seasonal affective disorder, your symptoms start in the fall and may continue into the winter months, sapping your energy and making you feel moody. Less often, seasonal affective disorder causes depression in the spring or early summer.”

Those people are excluded from what I’m talking about today.

Positive Thinking

I consider myself an “optimist”.  I always try to think that the best things will happen for me, my loved ones, and for mankind.  With that being said, I really consider myself a “realist”.  And, not only do I try to live my life that way, I’ll always tell you the way it is.  I’ve made people cry before and then I feel guilty.  Yes, I’ve made people cry!  I confess.

And, I shed tears, too.  Back at Murray State University, as a 20-year-old, I remember crying to “Can’t Fight This Feeling” by REO Speedwagon, and pining for a boy who out of my reach and wondering if I would ever find someone “like me”.  I can listen to that song now without being sad, but I still think back to those days in the mid-1980s.

I cried when my mother died 22 years ago and I remember the very dark years that followed.  The loss of my mother, turning down my first career job to move home, being single, and battling bulimia were great burdens and allowed little happiness in my life.

That was then and this is now.  That is why I’d never want to be in my 20s again and I sympathize with those trying to find themselves in their 20s.  I love my 40s and I can’t wait to see what my 50s bring in a couple of years.  Don’t do the math!   Use the brain cells for something else. 🙂

Cozumel December 22

This is a picture I took December 22, 2012, somewhere out in the western Caribbean after we left Cozumel and were cruising slowly back to reality.

When I see this, as I do in life, I see the sun breaking through the clouds.  Many people only see the clouds.  And, when you’re part of a mammoth social network like Facebook, you see “the clouds” a lot more in people’s posts.

I never want to paint it that my life is perfect.  It isn’t, but it’s mine.  I get agitated. I get bored.  And, that boredom, especially since I haven’t been working, leads to thinking — which sometimes makes me sad.

ABBAAnthonyBD2011

Additionally, it’s closing in on a year now since Miss ABBA crossed the “rainbow bridge” and left us.  I think of her a thousand times a day.  But, I don’t cry anymore about her.  I smile now thinking of that goofy golden.  I think of all of the wonderful days we had together.

When she first died, I thought about the times I had scolded her when she was bad.  And, it took me months to know that she needed to be disciplined at the time.  I don’t dwell on those times anymore.  I only think of the wonderful times we shared because that was our life.

Looking Ahead

I took this majestic picture on Spirit Lake two years ago.  Looking out over this frozen tundra made me realize that life is too short to dwell on all of the negatives in our life.  We all have them.  I have friends that are struggling to pay rent, feed their families, make utility payments, and I have some friends that would rather just be negative about any situation.

Tomorrow, I’m making a quick trip to Chicago to help an old friend that has destroyed their life by making a stupid decision two years ago.  This has resulted in losing their job and career, losing touch with their family, several run-ins with the Chicago Police Department, and now, financial ruin and depression.

I know going there tomorrow will not change anything for my friend.  My friend has to take responsibility.  No one else can do that for them.  When something bad happens to good people, it takes more energy to fight back than to accept defeat. I never want to know that I didn’t give it my all in life.  And, that’s why I’ll always smile through the tears.

I hope this quick trip to Chicago gives my friend the courage, the conviction, and the strength to fight.  If you’re in this situation, I hope you find that same courage, conviction, and strength.

As for me, I miss television and I miss forecasting weather.  It was so much fun to fill in for my old friend, Neil Kastor, and do radio weather the past three days for WSDR in Sterling, Illinois.  While I’m still angry at WQAD for their decision not to renew my contract, I know that something good is coming my way this spring.  I’ll wait out the storm and I’ll keep my positive attitude.

When it happens, you can call me Stefano DiMera, of “Days of Our Lives”.  That man has been killed off so many times and like the Phoenix, he rises from the flames.

ABBA December 2010

I want to live my life and I want my friends to live their lives like Miss ABBA.  This picture was taken three months before she was diagnosed with terminal cancer.  When she was given two to three months to live, we had the best two to three months living life to the fullest.  Those three months turned into ten months and she never wavered one day with sadness or sickness until the day before she died.

Miss ABBA, you’re my inspiration.

And, I hope I can relay that inspiration to the people I care about the most.  Smile, my friends, and look for the silver lining.  We only live once.

Anthony

Two Friends in New Orleans Reflect on Hurricane Katrina’s Anniversary As Isaac Makes Landfall

Hurricane Isaac made its second landfall around 4 a.m. this morning near Port Fourchon, Louisiana with winds sustained at 80 mile-per-hour.  It first made landfall Tuesday evening near Plaquemine Parish, Louisiana, about 95 miles from New Orleans.

While there is flooding and damage, this tropical system pales in comparison to Hurricane Katrina that made landfall on this date back in 2005.  More than 1,800 people lost their lives and many more left New Orleans and never came back making their new home elsewhere in the United States.

I visited New Orleans in the spring of 2010 and even after almost five years, there was still much work to be done and many of the damaged and abandoned homes in the Ninth Ward remained standing.

A friend of mine from Murray State University, Crystal Craddock-Posey and her husband, Anthony, live in New Orleans.  At the bottom of this blog, check out some of Ants’ incredible photos of the aftermath of Katrina and how much still needed to be done more than a year later.

PREPARING FOR “ISAAC”

I talked with Crystal back in 2008 on the three-year anniversary of Hurricane Katrina and I blogged about it then.  You can find that at the bottom of this blog, too.  However, I sent Crystal a few questions earlier this week as Isaac was still churning its way through the Gulf of Mexico as a tropical storm.

Q: What is the feeling now that a “state of emergency” has been issued and the storm could move closer to New Orleans?

The concensus in the city is that Isaac won’t be too bad. It’s not a strong system. The city (and its residents) are much better organized and prepared to deal with Isaac. Local area officials are working together and with the State in a much more efficient way than they did during Katrina. Even if Isaac turns out to be not so bad, it dredges up Katrina stress in differing degrees for people here.

Q: In the seven years since Katrina (and four since we did the previous blog), what changes have you noticed?

The city has improved by leaps and bounds, since the devastation of Katrina. There are so many new shops and restaurants post-Katrina. The city just “runs” better. There is still room for improvement, though.

Q: How is the “new” (current) NOLA different than the old NOLA?

So many people moved to New Orleans after Katrina, that it’s taken on a “newer” feel in some ways. E.g., new tech-centered businesses, younger entrepreneurs. The old-world charm is still very much present here, however.

Q: Since the Gulf has been relatively quiet for years, are you afraid that this could the season of big hurricanes?

One never knows, but I don’t think this will be a season for big hurricanes. We had a three-year lull between 2005’s Katrina and 2008’s Gustav. Now, four years later, we have Isaac approaching.

Here is the blog that I posted on August 28, 2008, on the three-year anniversary of Hurricane Katrina and it also features some background information (current at the time):

New Orleans: Three years after Katrina

Friday, August 29th, 2008

HURRICANE GUSTAV MAKES LANDFALL:   Gustav made landfall early Monday morning, September 1st, near Cocodrie, Louisiana, which is about 70 miles southwest of New Orleans or 100 miles southeast of Lafayette, Louisiana.  Winds were at 110 miles-per-hour at landfall making Gustav a Category Two storm.  (Top winds peaked at 150 miles-per-hour Saturday.

UPDATE:  Saturday, August 30th, noon.  My friends, Crystal and Anthony, have decided to evacuate New Orleans in advance of Gustav.  (You’ll read Crystal’s interview below.)

ORIGINAL POST:  Friday, August 29, 2 p.m.

Friday, August 29th, marks the three-year anniversary when Hurricane Katrina hit Louisiana causing levees to breach and submerging 80 percent of New Orleans.

Now, residents are becoming uneasy and are closely watching the Caribbean Sea as Hurricane Gustav gains strength and threatens with a possible landfall early Tuesday morning somewhere near the Crescent City.

Once the storm makes it into the Gulf of Mexico this weekend, forecasters will be able to pinpoint more accurately and precisely the intensity and where Gustav will make landfall.

KATRINA HISTORY

Hurricane Katrina now stands as the sixth strongest Atlantic hurricane ever recorded (this is based on the central barometric pressure, not winds).  However, its peak winds hit 175 miles-per-hour.

Although Katrina’s winds had dropped to 125 miles-per-hour (still a very strong Category Three storm) when it made landfall near Buras, Louisiana, it was what happened after the storm began to move away from New Orleans that we will always remember.

The winds, rain, and the storm surge (estimated to be at least fourteen feet), caused 53 different levees to breach.

This allowed additional water pushed into Lake Pontchartrain from the Gulf during the hurricane to flood New Orleans.

For months, the rest of the nation and the world watched the horrific watery images from the city so rich in history and culture and wondered if it would ever return to its glory.

The death toll in the United States from Katrina is at least 1,836 (1,577 from Louisiana alone).  There are still 705 people considered missing from the storm.

Three years later, many people still consider the slow reaction time to the disaster from local, state, and federal levels of the government, a complete failure.

While it is still too early to tell where Gustav will make landfall, many people in New Orleans are getting ready– just in case.

NEW ORLEANS– THREE YEARS LATER  (From my 2008 blog on Katrina’s anniversary)

Thursday night, I emailed a friend and former classmate of mine, Crystal Craddock-Posey, who has lived in New Orleans since 1992 with her husband, Anthony, and I want to share her responses with you.

Q:  With a projected landfall still days away and a possible track that could include New Orleans, what is the mood at this point?

“People are on edge here.   Local stations have begun broadcasting at 4:30 a.m. and extended regular noon and evening broadcasts to an hour to cover the issue of the approaching storm.

Some folks in areas which did not flood are saying that they are going to stay for Gustav unless it gains more strength before landfall.  Some who were here for Katrina are staying again; most are not, and have begun leaving already.  

People in our area are already boarding up windows and filling up their tanks.  At this point, people don’t know whether to go buy a bunch of hurricane food and supplies, or just pack up and leave.  

It brings to mind something my grandmother used to say, ‘Nervous as a long-tailed cat in a room full of rocking chairs!’   I think Saturday will be the point when most make the decision to stay or go.”
Q:  Are people taking this storm seriously there knowing it could quickly develop into a major hurricane in the Gulf?

“I think this storm is being taken seriously by most.    No one wants another Katrina.   My mailman received eight feet of water in his home after the levees failed following Katrina.   He is back in his repaired home now, and is seriously worried about a repeat performance.”

Q:  When Katrina submerged 80% of the city with water, how much damage did you encounter and where are you in relation to the ninth ward, one of the hardest hit areas?

“We were fortunate to have lived in the 20 % of New Orleans which did not flood.  We are higher up near the rim of the “bowl-shaped” city, so the water didn’t reach us.  We had water damage from above, though.  The high winds and tornadoes took off sections of roof and boards from our rear dormer, so we had water damage in the form of fallen ceilings, damaged floors, and mold everywhere, etc.   

We are a few miles from the ninth ward.  The ninth ward is behind the Central Business District, the French Quarter and Bywater areas of the city, going toward Chalmette/St. Bernard Parish, where the Mississippi River Gulf Outlet, aka “Mister Go” failed.”

Q:  Describe the feel of New Orleans now with the three-year anniversary Friday.  Progress is being made slowly, but what is the ”new” New Orleans like compared to the “old”.

“There were supposed to be certain ceremonies held to honor those who perished in Hurricane Katrina.    One local cemetery has planted small white flags, one for every person who died during Katrina, with a name on each flag.  (By the way, a client of mine lost her dad, her stepmother, her aunt and her 12-year-old brother; they drowned in their home.  She also lost everything she owned that she hadn’t taken with her during the evacuation.)   

That was supposed to last through Labor Day Weekend.    The anniversary is today, and it seems to be adding fuel to the fire of distress.   

“New” New Orleans in the French Quarter, Garden District and Uptown areas, the 20% that didn’t flood, is much like it was before the storm– at least from the street level.  

Other flooded areas are rebuilding and coming back.   The hardest hit areas still are mostly desolate patches where homes used to be.   

Financially, the effects of Katrina have been hard on everyone.   People who came back after the storm have been struggling for three years with $10,000 per year homeowner’s premiums and $5,000 per year flood premiums, an increase in property taxes in Orleans Parish, increased labor and material expenses for repairs, shady contractors who take money and never show, etc.”      

Q:  Where do you see New Orleans in the next few years, barring no more hurricanes or disasters?

“With the right leadership and funding, it’s possible to make New Orleans a great example of how to rebuild after a disaster, e.g. green projects, solar panels, etc.  It just hasn’t happened thus far.” 

Crystal works now as an attorney in New Orleans.  However, back in the 1980s, she was in the radio and television program with me at Murray State University in Kentucky.  She then went to law school in New Orleans when she moved there in the summer of 1992.

PHOTOS BY ANTHONY POSEY FROM 2005-2006

New Orleans, my thoughts go out to you and I’m glad Hurricane Isaac was only a category one storm.  I hope that’s all of the excitement you see this year and that the only hurricanes you experience are ones like these shared by Ray, Crystal, Ants, and myself in April 2010.

Anthony

Dying Proves Marriage is More Than Just Rings & A Commitment

UPDATE:  I posted this original blog one year ago.  Shane’s video has now been viewed almost four million times!

ORIGINAL BLOG:  July 2, 2012

Some people marry for money, some because of sexual attraction, some for the class status of becoming a trophy wife or husband, but I would hope that most people marry for love.

I decided to get married last fall for three reasons:  because of love, because of sexual attraction, and for political reasons.

It gave me a chance to show Iowa Governor Terry Branstad and Iowa conservative and failed politician Bob Vander Plaats, along with their followers that the Iowa Supreme Court justices that made marriage equality a reality in the state were progressive and not backwards like the 50%-plus of Iowans that voted three of the justices out of office after that landmark decision.

Being married gives a couple, especially same-sex couples, freedom to make decisions for their spouses in emergencies, with hospitalization, and sadly, in death.

If they were married, life would have been much easier for Shane Bitney Crone after the love of his life, Tom Bridegroom, fell to his death while working as a photographer.

Shane made a very touching video about the heartache Tom went through when he came out to family and what happened when Tom died.  It’s been viewed on YouTube more than 2.7 million times.

To the haters out there or to the people who don’t understand or support marriage equality, I hope one day that you see love for what it is, an undying commitment to the person you love — regardless of sexuality, gender, race, or however you want to classify people.

Anthony