My mission with this blog is to champion common sense, support for the little guy, and honesty.
Colleen Margaret Brennan
Knowing that I will be roundly attacked for my new blog, I thought it would be helpful to include a brief biography so that everyone would know where to go to look for dirt. I am the granddaughter of Democratic “enforcer” Nipper Brennan, and Big A Auto Parts owner and Aksarben fixture, John Kawa. And, yes, I am a distant relative of well-known Omaha bootlegger and Johnny’s Café founder, Frank Kawa. Just to make it clear, my family’s names are written in blood on the streets of South Omaha.
I grew up in Holy Cross Parish at 48th and Poppleton. My mother, Marilyn, was a nurse at the old St. Joe’s Hospital and later at Bergan. My father, Terry, worked at MUD and was a well-known lead guitar player and vocalists for the rock band Bittersweet.
In 1984, my family moved to Millard and I graduated from Millard North High School in 1989. I was a fine arts major at UNO but transferred later to UNL. On weekends I could generally be found at Howard Street Tavern, Arthur’s or, of course, The Dubliner.
I was married before I finished college and the real drama began. I never finished college, a fact that haunts me every day. I made a deal with my husband that after I put him through college, it would be my turn. My turn never came. I had four children. One was born with non-verbal autism and epilepsy. He was profoundly disabled and required constant care and attention, which I was honored to provide. He was the love of my life. September 21st marked the fourth anniversary of his death. I also had two sons with nephrogenic diabetes insipidus. Both turned out to be remarkable kids, with great character and love in their hearts, but their formative years required their share of fear and accommodation. And, I have one beautiful daughter who tries my patience with her adolescent desires, but she is my dream girl.
When you go through the raw and painful challenges of raising a profoundly disabled child, it changes you. I loved my music and art, but when your world hinges on life and death issues, interests become much more basic. Real life pushes everything into a pile labeled “no time for fiction,” So, I began to study news, history and politics, and I guess you’d say I became an activist. Although, I would never put myself in the same category as real activists.
I try not to blame my former husband for not living up to my expectations. So much of our life was just putting one foot in front of the other. In the heat of the chaos, I had to declare bankruptcy. Medical bills and being left on my own were more than I could handle, and I had to commit myself twice to a mental health facility for “rest.” You can’t imagine how difficult it is to say that out loud, but I don’t feel any real shame. It’s more like a badge of honor that I wear for having survived.
So, I guess if someone wants to attack me for what I have to say, there’s more than enough here to give them a good start. Believe me, I’ve heard it all before. I’m well versed in my own failings, but maybe my life has also taught me something important to share with others. There is absolutely nothing you can control in life, but there is a way in meeting each day that does make a difference. You thank God for everything you still have. You forgive yourself and others for making mistakes and not living up to your expectations. You believe in truth, justice and doing the right thing, even when it is not in your best interest to do so. And, when you do, the world makes a little more sense with each day.