#purpleforrita love was everywhere!

Hashtag #purpleforrita

We often bemoan social media because at its worst, it is a breeding ground for gossip, rumor mongering and hate. But at its best, put into the hands of those who wish to send positivity into the ether hoping to light a spark within others, it can start a fire that warms the hearts and nourishes the spirits of countless others. The first annual #purpleforrita day did just that.

Rita, my mum, should have been here, surrounded by friends and family, to celebrate her 71st birthday on Monday, December 7, 2015. While our hearts were heavy with great sadness, we once again refused to allow our grief to snuff out her light.

And while the early morning hours were stained with tears, the tributes to Rita were so numerous that the heavy, grey clouds were forced out of the sky and #purpleforrita shone everywhere. For one day, folks all over the world made it a day of celebration, joy and love.  We turned Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, purple and it was marvelous.

There were candles and cake!

 

 

People who, like Rita, typically avoid being in photos TOOK SELFIES!

 

 

Even Rita’s fur-riends spread the love! 

 

 

 

 

 

 

And there were butterflies.

 

 

Of course, as someone noted, “Rita would wonder what all the fuss was about, but smile at the thought of being loved so much.” We, on the other hand, all know what the fuss is about and will continue to make a fuss. So take that mum!


 

Lin Randolph

Compassion, not pain & destruction.

Has there ever been a time when mankind wasn’t causing pain and destruction? It’s all over the news and social media. It’s on television and in our streets. Violence, terrorism, hatred, prejudice, selfishness and despair. It takes a sudden act of violence to shake us out of our complacency. Most recently, the terror attacks in Paris have brought out the rage. It’s a righteous rage. We should be angry and devastated at the senseless brutality. The sad part is that this rage doesn’t last.

This is what happens…

We live our lives concerned with our own issues and problems, trying to make life work for us. We are vaguely aware of events across the globe, coming up for air long enough to be shocked at another hostage beheading, or we’ll cock an ear at the news of a suicide bomber striking a dilapidated desert village. Then, out of nowhere, somewhere “civilized” is attacked. Paris is targeted and over 120 people are killed. Suddenly, everyone is awake and demands action. Security levels skyrocket and everyone is a suspect. For now. Until it passes. Then, after a fairly short time, after a few reports of prevented planned bombings, or some other media blast takes our attention, we go back to our lives. We go back to ignoring the death and suffering and hatred until it touches us or our favorite tourist spots again.

We, as a species, are inherently selfish and protective. We look after our own. We may complain about conditions, we may even be moved by the plight of the oppressed and homeless, but we don’t dwell on it. We step over the person sleeping in the street. We change the channel when we see reports of far off lands being decimated and enslaved. It’s not confined to foreign lands, either. How many of us are truly aware of the suffering and killing in our own country? Beyond your own town, how concerned are you?

It seems that people will always find a way to kill, whether it’s other people, animals or our natural resources. We’ve been doing it for centuries. We kill, hurt and persecute. We consume and discard. Take away the weapons and we’ll fashion new. Silence the voices and we’ll find another way to make a point. We will punish a whole group for the benefit of a single agenda. We’re a fragmented, hateful society, too wrapped up in dogma, judgment and our own interests to see the plight of others except in times of tragedy. Every individual thing of beauty mankind creates is negated by every act of hate and violence. I really feel that if we stop caring about symbols, status and what divides us and start focusing more on the living, the breathing what makes us a single community, we’ll have a chance.

Of course, everything I write here is more a reflection on me than the rest of the world, isn’t it? Am I actually looking at the population in general or am I really turning the lens inward? I’m really describing myself, and my overall apathy to the world at large. What it takes, really, is for the violence to hit close to home. To impact someone I love, to wound a person I hold dear. That violence is why this foundation exists.

I consider myself lucky for having met Rita. It was only a short time, but we did chat for a while at her daughter’s birthday get together. She was funny, happy, very sharp and very young for her years. The love she held for Lin was palpable. Seeing the two of them together was like witnessing a physical manifestation of joy. Nobody can ever tell me the love between an adopted parent and her child is any less intense or real than any biological connection. I’ve seen it firsthand.

When I learned of Rita’s murder, I was heartbroken; for Lin having to lose her mum in such a cruel fashion and for the world, for everyone she touched. A spirit like hers should not be stolen away. Nobody has the right to take such a thing. Yet it happened. The violence hit home. Flint, Michigan became a real place to me and many others who never gave the city more than a passing thought, if that. It shook me out of my complacency. It made me think of who else was being victimized, killed and forgotten.

Thanks to Lin and The Rita Langworthy Foundation, her spirit lives on in the work and in Lin herself. The message and example Rita put forward in life will live on well after her death. And maybe, just maybe, we’ll have taken a step back from the hatred and the self fixation and the complacency. Maybe we can make compassion our default instead of ignorance, distrust and hate. Don’t let it take something like this to happen to you.


 

Scott McIntyre

First Thanksgiving without Mum…

Thanksgiving means a great many different things to folks here in the USA. For some, it’s about football. Others, it’s being surrounded by family. For most, it’s about the food. But for me, I need the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade to make it feel like the holiday.

I don’t know why exactly. Anyone who knows me, knows I’m all about food! So why would a gal who’s not a fan of marching bands and rarely recognizes any of the pop music entertainers atop the floats be so fixated on the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade? I suppose it’s always been the magic and pageantry of it all. Or perhaps it is because the parade has always been the one constant in an ever-changing holiday for me.

As a young child, our family would gather at my grandparents’ tiny home in Findlay, OH. Mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers, cousins, grandparents, great-grandparents and anyone that happened to be alone on that day would celebrate together. The enormous turkey would be stuffed with oyster dressing and put into the oven the night before to roast on the lowest of settings. To this day, I’ve never tasted a more tender, sweet piece of turkey than what my grandmother, Nellie, made in that tiny stove of hers. She would hand-peel steaming hot boiled potatoes (a method I never fully understood the justification of until I was much older) just as the sun was rising for her secret recipe potato salad. Every palate would be sated. She had candied yams with marshmallows, mashed potatoes and gravy, ham, turkey, multiple types of stuffing, and the list went on and on ending with a stack, yes, an eyeball high stack of pies! We’d watch the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade on television followed by a full day of football. We’d laugh and play and make plans for our Christmas gathering.

As the years passed, the family Thanksgiving in Findlay, OH, slowly shrunk in attendance. Grandchildren and cousins got married, moved away, had children, and began hosting their own holiday gatherings. Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade 2012My husband and I hosted his family in our home many years ago. A while back, I volunteered at a soup kitchen. Others, I’ve spent with friends and loved ones. In fact! One year some of my dearest friends — family really — gifted me a ticket to sit with them in the marquee section of the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. That’s right! There we sat, in full view of anyone watching the parade on TV. Mum caught glimpses of us and it was like she was right there, too.

But the most recent years, I’ve spent the morning working, only to come home and make Thanksgiving dinner for my pug, Lenny, and I. Mum asked me what I was doing for the holiday every year and she would be furious if no one had invited Lenny and I to their celebration. Her “mother bear” protective nature never failed to make me smile. As my aunt said to me three weeks ago, “You never have to doubt her love for you. Not many have a Mom’s love like you did.” No matter where the two of us were on Thanksgiving day, we always spoke on the telephone — if only for a few minutes.

So this year, when friends reached out to me and invited Lenny and I into their families’ homes for the holiday, I should have been elated. But I declined every invitation as I simply could not predict my emotional state and it wouldn’t be right for me to accept and then cancel at the last minute. Lenny and I are an incredibly lucky pair as our friends graciously understood and altered their invitations to, “How about this…you can ACCEPT at the last minute, okay?” Mum would be thrilled that we had received such warm and lovely invitations. She would NOT have been happy with me for declining.

Whether my thinking is sound or not still bears to reason, but I decided a few days ago that Lenny and I would spend Thanksgiving together…at home…alone. We, or rather I, need to truly absorb and feel her absence. And I need to be able to laugh, cry and scream, in whatever succession it happens.

2015-11-25 13.59.23I’ve planned the perfect “Mum” meal — FreshDirect Thanksgiving Turkey Dinner, Pillsbury Crescent Rolls and a pint of vanilla ice cream which we will put on top of a slice of warm pecan pie in our RLF mug. For those of you who truly knew her, you’re probably giggling at this menu. For those of you who know me (a professional chef/baker) but are just getting to know her, she had an insatiable sweet-tooth and two of her most memorable food quotes are: “I’d eat crap if it were wrapped in a Crescent Roll” and “the perfect house is one without a kitchen.”

I know my friends and family will be only a phone call or text away so Lenny and I won’t “really” be alone. The kid and I will curl up with a plate full of hot crescent rolls in the morning and and the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade will march on.


 

Lin Randolph

What a beautiful dream…

 

This morning I woke at 3:39AM.

3 months. 1 week. 4 days.

My beautiful mum’s life came to a harrowing end at 3:14AM. Coincidence? I don’t think so.

For the first time that I can remember, I dreamed of her. Or rather, she appeared in a dream.

I woke smiling with a strange sense of peace that I also don’t remember ever experiencing before. And then I remembered. I remembered her face. Her silent, calming presence. Afraid I wouldn’t be able to remember the details of my dream, I laid as still as possible and concentrated — replaying the dream in my head over and over again. I was torn between wanting to go back to sleep in hopes of seeing her again and rushing to my computer to record the dream so I wouldn’t forget.

I drifted back to sleep.

Six hours later, I still remember. We were in a nondescript school cafeteria full of those long communal tables with fixed benches. The cacophony of children’s voices and clatter surrounded us. We sat at the end of one of the tables in a far corner so we could scan the entire room, and yet everything but five women was blurred out. The lens wasn’t focused on anyone or anything else.

My second cousin, Patty, sat just to my left in a folding chair pulled up to the end of the table. Two more women sat to my right — mum’s best friend from college, Bonnie, and a kindergarten teacher who worked under mum’s direction, Pam. Mum sat quietly across the table from me. Or rather, she floated. But, I’ll come back to that in a bit.

baccarat-purple-lucky-butterfly-2103586We were discussing how we would honor her as she wasn’t much for public acknowledgement or accolades. Bonnie mentioned there being inexpensive purple plastic butterflies at Home Goods. I scoffed and informed the group that I had spent the morning in the vault of Baccarat and had emerged with a stunning purple crystal butterfly with which to award her. Patty laughed and said, “Of course you did!” (I have always been known as the “snob” of the family.)

And then I launched into excitedly telling the ladies that everyone — student and staff member alike — would write a note of tribute to her and we would compile them by classroom in a book to present to her at the award ceremony. She would never object to that kind of tribute, I told the ladies.

And then I looked up and realized there she sat directly in front of me, in her hand-me-down chartreuse dupioni silk blouse whose ruffles reflected her joyful spirit and simple black slacks. She was as perfect and beautiful as when I last saw her in April. She was silent and I sent her away from the secret planning with, “Geez, Ma! Get outta here!” She rose, turned, and then disappeared.

The next thing I remember is Patty and I standing, still surrounded by the same cacophony and blurry images. I told her, “We have to do this. This is gonna work. She won’t object to this.” We hugged. And I woke.

When I initially reflected on my dream in the wee hours of this morning, my heart hurt because I had sent her away. Why had I sent her away? And then I realized, her image hadn’t been the same solid 3-dimensions of Patty, Bonnie, Pam and I. And yet she had also not been a part of the blurry, unfocused masses either. She had been something completely different. There was a kind of translucency to her and her movements were light and fluid. She had arrived, listened and then departed, in silence. The smile and feeling of peace I initially awoke with at 3:39AM returned and has not left me since.

Take from the recounting of my dream what you will. I choose to believe that the shiny new Jaguar parked in front of my building and her visiting me in my dream last night is her way of telling me that she approves. This foundation is exactly what she wants and she is watching over it, and us, making sure we stay the course.

While we cannot present her with a book full of personal tributes, I invite you to write your message anyway. I know she’ll be reading them.

SUBMIT YOUR TRIBUTE HERE


 

Lin Randolph

 

Gotcha! Day redefined

2015-08-26 00.02.12Unlike many adoptive families today, my mum and I have always celebrated my Gotcha! Day with pride knowing that we had a special relationship like no others. So when I went to bed last night, I dreaded waking this morning — my first Gotcha! Day without my mum.

I won’t deny it. This morning was pretty awful. The person with whom I have celebrated every November 3 since 1972, was no longer here. There could be no telephone call, no text, no card, no Facebook status update sharing our mutual admiration for one another. There could be nothing but silence because she was no longer here to share the day with me.

I cried a lot this morning. I sobbed, really — uncontrollable body wracking sobs that brought me crashing to the floor.

And then the silence broke.

Friends from all reaches of the world sent virtual hugs and messages of love. My tears were slowly replaced with smiles, laughter and the reminder that she is still here with me. I carry her love in my heart every minute of every day. It was that love that gathered a small group of my friends together tonight to honor my mum and the foundation that is carrying on her mission.

For two hours, 14 incredible friends and I laughed together while sharing a casual meal at Irving Farm Coffee Roasters on the UWS. As one of the attendees said, “It was so enjoyable tonight. Totally you…relaxed and laid back.” When the evening came to an end, we had raised $1540 for The Rita Langworthy Foundation. Oh yeah. If I failed to mention it, my friends are incredible. Not only are they genuine and loving, but they are some of the most generous human beings on earth.

Thank you Megan, Steven, Nadine, Dan, Allison, Melissa, Marilyn, Jodi, Pam, Nan, Yumee, Yeon-Mee, Mary and Frank, for helping me redefine how I mark my Gotcha! Day by celebrating the bond between my mum and I surrounded by friends.

 


 

 

Lin Randolph

 

Nine weeks

“I’m doing things at lightning speed which is overwhelming to me, but so incredibly exciting at the same time. Luckily, the excitement outweighs the overwhelming most days.”

Nine weeks.

familyAs I write this, it has been nine weeks since my mum’s unfathomable murder. While a part of me would have really liked to have holed up in my apartment with my pug, Lenny, and not ever come out again, that is not who I was then and it is not who I am now.

I come from a long line of fighters – women who were much stronger than their peers and what was socially acceptable throughout the generations. No, as an adopted child, we did not share blood or DNA, but they taught me and I was, and continue to be, proudly one of them.

And so, ten days after my mum was mercilessly ripped from this world, I formulated a plan. I would refuse to allow her life to end in such a way. Her mission of selflessness, kindness and love, would become known across the nation and around the world. Her legacy would continue through us.

And thus, The Rita Langworthy Foundation was born.

Rita WeddingThe lengthy, complicated process of becoming an IRS recognized 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that can take up to four years, took us only seven weeks – with an angel watching over us. And I know through every form and hour of waiting for filings and approvals, she has been with us every step of the way.

And she’s thinking she doesn’t deserve any of this. Because that’s just who she was. And why would she be any different now that she’s an angel?

 

 

 


 

Lin Randolph