Thursday, November 10, 2011

Sorrow, Anger, Pride

So many emotions running amuk within me today! Each of them creating thoughts within me as I try to regain some balance, some control over my life, my mind, my heart.

The sorrow in my heart comes from several sources today. It's been building up for the past several days as my mind has gone back repeatedly to events of a year ago today -November 9, 2010 -when I arrived home after having had my third round of chemotherapy -the result of lab tests after a hysterectomy back in July of 2010 revealed I had uterine cancer. I walked into the house and both my daughters were here to tell me that they had some very bad news for me.

While I was at the Cancer Clinic, my oldest cousin on my Mom's side had died! Her husband, who also was dealing at that time with a myriad of health issues, had called and told my girls that news and I was to call him as soon as I got home.

Although my cousin Nancy was also dealing with receiving chemo treatments last fall, and we spoke frequently -back and forth via phone calls, comparing notes with each other how the chemo was affecting us -she had been doing quite well dealing with the chemo, just as I was too. However, her passing was very sudden, such a shock, as she had suffered an aneurysm about 9 a.m. that morning and within less than an hour, she was gone.

And a year later, this is still something that is raw within me. She was the oldest of the grandchildren of my maternal grandparents and over the years as our parents, our aunts and uncles each passed away, she had become, in many way, the matriarch of this part of my family. I could always count on Nancy to pick me up when I was down about anything, to give great advice on just about any thing that was on my mind and I could always count on her, whenever I saw her, that she would have this big smile on her face that gave one the feeling that all would soon be well or right within our own little family world. Comforting. That was one of the words I would use to describe Nance and her ways -always comforting.

So, this weekend, my thoughts were frequently pertaining to memories of our family, of days in my childhood spent with Nancy and her siblings and their parents; of family reunions and laughter galore over 55 years of those events now in our past and of other sorrowful times too -when her Dad died suddenly, when each of the rest of that generation passed on, when her brother killed himself and we -the family -tried to recover from the shock and loss of David and we rejoiced too with the births of her children, my kids, other additions to our family and of course, the pure joy that comes with attaining grandparent status too! We shared memory after memory with each and every phone call over the past couple of years that had seen Nancy and I drawing closer and closer. She was one of the few members of my family who remembered anything at all about my Dad and who was willing to talk to me about him, to listen to me too as I tried to learn little bits and pieces about my Dad in order to learn more about myself in the process. We compared notes on how we grew up, how our lives were alike due to her Dad and my Mom having been siblings, what we remembered about our Grandparents and so many, many other little things about our lives.

Add to those thoughts of Nancy and the loss there, tomorrow -November 10th -also just so happens to be what would be my Mom's 102nd birthday. It was 32 years this past October 6th since my Mom died and though her passing isn't one that is still raw within me as Nancy's is, I still miss not having my Mom to talk to about many things and strangely enough what I find myself missing most about my Mom would have to be the arguments we had on virtually a daily basis! The relationship I had with my Mom was frequently a very rocky road to travel as I rarely, if ever (or so it seemed) was able to do anything that pleased her! Well, I thought that was how things were until my children were born and then, her acceptance, her love of my kids, her grandchildren, told me that finally I had found one thing I could do that she found to be my achievements in her eyes!

So here I was this weekend then already in a rather somber frame of mind when the news broke in State College, PA -home of my college Alma Mater, Penn State University -about a child abuse/sex scandal involving high officials within the University -including none other than Coach Joe Paterno, as well as high up possibly as Dr. Graham Spanier, the President of the University.

Each day the news reports grew and grew and became more and more atrocious, ominous too about the future of many aspects of this school and in particular, the fate of Coach Paterno and Dr. Spanier.

Tonight, as I write this, the news reports now are coming through about thousands and thousands of students gathering in downtown State College and the State College police as well as the Pennsylvania State Police being called out in force to try to maintain control over the crowds there and hopefully, to prevent any type of rioting type of situation to evolve.

This gathering is due to the news announcements tonight that Dr. Spanier and Coach Paterno have now both been fired, effective immediately, for their roles in how the sex scandal/abuse events were handled.

And it is this -the charges brought against the former Linebacker Coach -Jerry Sandusky -that he molested, sexually abused at least 8 young boys over several years and did this on the Penn State Campus too. According to the reports, this had been brought to Coach Paterno's attention back in 2002 at which time, he says he reported about this to Tim Curley, the Athletic Director at the University and apparently, he believed he had done what was required of him when he was made aware of what Mr. Sandusky had been doing.

It does sadden me to read about these horrific things having happened to these vulnerable boys and to think that somehow the people who were made aware of this did only the minimal in attempting to report and thus stop the abuse from happening again and also, to have it investigated thoroughly then and there and the perpetrators arrested, charged, tried and sentenced then too.

It angers me to think that one of the main things I learned through many of the classes I took during my time as a student at Penn State, majoring in Rehabilitation Education -i.e. Counseling -that ANY TIME there is even a hint of someone abusing a child, anyone working in any form of the Educational field is duty bound to report any kind of activity along those lines to the POLICE and yet, that rule or regulation -whatever you care to call it -was blatantly ignored by so many people along the way over the years which thus apparently then -according to the charges leveled against Mr. Sandusky -enabled him to keep on using and abusing these children!

I confess too that I was one of the many Alumni from Penn State who, over the years, admired Coach Paterno very much for his abilities as a coach -and a winning coach both on and off the field too as he was noted for his pushing the athletes in the Football Program at the University that their education was of the utmost importance and for them to persevere in completing that education and attain that all-important degree!  And yes indeed, he did work long and very hard to try to see to it that as many of the players on the Football team did reach that goal. He and his wife were also huge benefactors to the University itself, donating millions over the years to various entities on campus. Those factors -many, many good things he tried to do, and that he did, over the years he served the University as head coach -do attest to his devotion to the school and to seeing things provided as often needed there but now, all the good the man did in his tenure is going to be totally overshadowed by his NOT being totally forthcoming, by NOT doing any type of follow-up on his reporting of the activities of Mr. Sandusky that resulted in what is still an unknown number of young boys being harmed.

It absolutely boggles my mind to think about all these things and how they intermingle, interact and the harm, the hurt, the pain, that those boys endured and still do -all because a few men didn't apparently feel this was important enough to push for more actions to stop Mr. Sandusky in his tracks!

It hurts me, deep inside too, as I think of how many people will regard this as a black mark on the educational capabilities of this school too now!

And yet, I know that the institution itself -the school -will continue to operate and offer the same type of quality, first rate education to those who matriculate there -just as it always has done. I've always held Penn State University in the highest esteem for providing the caliber of education it has given to anyone who was enrolled there, provided of course, the student did the studying needed to keep on track! I'll go a bit further there and state I loved this University for many years before I was fortunate enough to be accepted to attend school there -much later in life than the average college student -and that I managed to complete the coursework needed and received my B.S. from this fine university in 1994!

I am still one very proud graduate of Penn State University -and I'm not ashamed in the least to proclaim that as I did that! ME! The person who my own mother never believed I would follow through if the opportunity to acquire a higher education were ever made available to me and yet, I did it! No one can change that or take that away from me and I acquired that degree, that knowledge and understanding of the field of my choice at a fine, upstanding, excellent University -PENN STATE!

And I will continue to believe in the University -this place, PENN STATE, as being one of the best in this country and also, around the world as well -for the caliber of professors it employed and still does, for their ability to impart the necessary knowledge and skills for me to acquired my degree there. And for its ability to recover from the events that have come to light over the past few days that should not ever be taken away from what the University stands for -ultimately!

This all is still very jumbled in my mind -this mix of sorrow and anger -but I am relieved that the Board of Trustees voted to fire both Dr. Spanier and Coach Paterno -to let them know that their actions were not just illegal but also immoral and to show them too that even those who rise to these levels of power can be cut down for their lack of empathy for the victims in all of this mess as well, apparently, for their lack of knowledge of that one simple rule -that ANY and ALL actions that result in even a suspicion of child abuse or molestation, much less rape, of a child, are to be REPORTED immediately to the POLICE!

Now, having said all that, easing my mind perhaps a little bit anyway, I'll still proudly wear Blue and White and believe too that God must be A Penn State fan because after all the sky is blue and white, isn't it? It is going to take time, certainly, for many to accept the good that exists within this wonderful school and it is that aspect that allows me to go forward and hold my head high to proclaim WE ARE! PENN STATE!

 (Just under new and hopefully,very  improved management!)


TechnoBabe said...

What a shame, such a horrific thing to be out in the open now. I feel sorrow for the young people whose trust in coaches was shattered and I hope they heal now that they know the culprits are being dealt with.You have every right to remain true to your school, it is not the school that committed these unspeakable acts, it was human beings with authority over young human beings. Good for you to write it all out and get it off your chest.

Maggie May said...

I do remember when your cousin died. It is, unfortunately one of the risks of chemo. It must have been a terrible shock and you must miss her still.

My husband has one more to go but as he has put on so much weight because of the steroids, I do worry about his health. One of our friends at church lost her husband quite unexpectedly while he was on chemo. He had been doing so well. That always comes as a shock.
Hope you feel more peaceful in yourself very soon.
Maggie X

Nuts in May

Dianne said...

I think that the students who rioted were realize, as they get older, that Paterno had to be fired
anything less would be saying it is OK to ignore abuse
I think he got caught up in his own legend

Penn is a community, not one person and you should all be proud

I'm sorry for all the memories pulling at you this week
I know the feeling, it's like standing in a waterfall

hugs dear lady

Suldog said...

I won't deign to pass judgment on Paterno. I know only what I've read in the papers, and that obviously isn't everything. I will say that, from what I've read, his firing seems a bit of overreaction. Just my opinion. He has been an agent of far more good than evil, again IMHO.

My good blogging friend, Craig, wrote a longish piece that you may find worth a read...

Craig said...

Hi, Jeni

Thanks for stopping by my place to comment. I'm still mulling over my response; I want it to be fitting to your thoughtfullness in leaving it.

I'm mostly inclined to agree with Suldog, that firing Coach Paterno was a bit of an over-reaction. His sin of omission, tragic as it is, shouldn't obscure the good he's done, and more, his own fundamental human goodness (are they gonna take his name off the library?). And, just judging from what I hear on the radio, it seems like some people, at least, are losing track of the fact that Jerry Sandusky, and not Joe Paterno, is the perpetrator here. . .

I can well imagine that these are not happy times in Happy Valley. I've been thru a 'crisis' or two with my own school (Michigan State), and I remember this whole swirl of conflicting emotions - shame, pride, defiance, 'you-just-don't-understand', isolation, and on and on. You're right, of course - Penn State will survive. I just hope that this hit to her self-confidence is relatively short-lived. . .

terri said...

You are right to be proud of your education and your university. The events that have unfolded over the past few days are due to the actions of a few individuals. They do not reflect on the university as a whole, and those in charge are doing the right thing.

Kat said...

Well, if someone told me that they witnessed someone abusing (or God forbid, raping) a child my first reaction would be to grab my baseball bat and go to work. I'm sorry. I know that is horrible, and violent, and two wrongs don't make a right, but that would honestly be what I would want to do. I wouldn't. But I would want to. I WOULD go to the police immediately, however.
I do think it was right to fire Paterno because he didn't do what he should. Still, I think he is a good intentioned man, and he is probably punishing himself for his mistake more than anyone else could.

I am so sorry you are having such a hard time lately. I pray your pain will be eased and that you can feel those you have lost close to you.