One Love

I had the great fortune to take a break from winter and embark on a cruise in the Caribbean at the end of January beginning of February. We stopped at 12 islands and in addition to enjoying the feel of the sun on my face, refreshing saltwater washing over me and the warmth of powdery sand beneath my feet, I enjoyed something else—freedom.  

If you have never been on a cruise, you may not know that there are people aboard, passengers and crew alike, from all over the world. In addition, the islands are inhabited by people who have mixed races of African, Dutch, Spanish, English, French and local Indians depending upon which port visit 

Unless they were presenting a false face to us or it was the euphoria of escaping snow, not once did the citizens of any of the islands we met stress that they despised Columbus, felt oppressed, or focused on what color skin they had or you had. We were just people. Different in skin pigment and cultural practices but just people 

But they weren’t ignorant of their historyand they showed us the impossibly austere huts on Bonaire, where slaves lived while forced to make salt. We saw the Hato Caves on Curacao and the soot from fires on the cave ceilings left from the slaves who had hidden in there from their slave masters. In Puerto Rico, our taxi driver proudly showed us the monuments to Christopher Columbus and Ponce de Leon and told us proudly that Puerto Ricans are a mixture of Spanish, Taino Indian, African.  

In Antigua the store owners looked at us in amusement when we asked them if they knew where we could buy more sunscreen, implying do you think with my skin color I need sunscreen? On board ship, it was no different. My husband explained some things about the Super Bowl to an inquisitive man from India while watching the big game, and chatted for an hour with a man from Toronto who had immigrated to that city from Trinidad back in the 1980s. We laughed when he told me how cold his Caribbeanweight cloth pants left him when he arrived there in December.  

People on board engaged in games, enjoyed music, laughed, drank, swam, conversed, held elevators doors, and dined with people who did not look like them. It was so freeing. There was no looking back to the past and all the mistakes made there. There was only now. 

So, imagine my sadness when I recently interviewed a black businessman who had traveled the world and told me that he found Pittsburgh to still be very racist. I couldn’t argue with him; I don’t know. I’m not in his skin, but if it is, I’m very sad. Not only for him but for all of us. 

In the Bible they often describe heaven as a wedding feast, but sometimes I think it’s more like a cruise ship where all God’s children from around the world are enjoying themselves, laughing, dancing and feasting and the lyrics of Bob Marley are playing: “One love; One Heart. Let’s get together and feel alright.”  

By Janice Lane Palko 


By Janice Lane Palko 

“Your life is heading down one path, and then suddenly, in an instant, it all changes.” Those words were uttered by a former St. Benedict Academy classmate of mine over the holidays when she came to Pittsburgh from Florida for a visit after not seeing each other for 43 yearsSadly, she was forced to leave our high school back in 1976 when her mother suddenly died during our junior year. Several other classmates and I were able to reconnect with our friend after finding her on Facebook.   [Read more…]

 I Get It! 

By Janice Lane Palko 

With the coming holidays and the turning of the new year, I’ve already started to think about some resolutions for 2020. I mulled over the same old objectives: get in shape, spend less, pray more, etc. Recently, however, I think I’ve come across a key that may supersede all of those and prove to be more fruitful and more life-changing in the end.  [Read more…]

Where Was I . . . 

When it comes to veterans, we often hear about their alarming suicide rates, high incidences of homelessness, and how prevalent post-traumatic stress disorder is among them, and rightly so because too many veterans suffer from those maladies. But there is another side to veterans that no one that I know of keeps track of and that is the number of veterans who freely stand in the breech for us, protecting and serving long after their tour of duty or military career ends. It’s a phenomenon that I’d like to call Post Military Service Disposition or PMSD.  [Read more…]

My Commencement Address 

Janice Palko

By Janice Lane Palko 

We are in graduation season. And although no one has asked me to give a commencement address, that is not stopping me. Here are some things I learned after finishing school and beginning my career that might help all you recent graduates.  

Is That all There Is?  – Several weeks into working at my first job, I remember thinking: I worked hard all through school and landed a good job and this is all there is? Why was I in such a hurry to get here? I don’t care if you are pursuing your dream career and love your new position, entering the full-time workforce is a huge transition for a young person. You will have to deal with an alarm clock, traffic and minutiae that will test your patience. But take heart; you will adjust. I did, and eventually came to like and enjoy my job. Getting a paycheck helps with that (if you overlook the amount of taxes deducted from your pay).  [Read more…]

Where Was I . . . Keeping It Real!

Janice Palko

By Janice Lane Palko

I lie. Let me clarify that. I try not to in my daily life or when I write articles for this magazine, but in my spare time, as you may know, I like to write novels. Fiction is not true. It may seem that way. In fact, novels may seem “realer” than real life sometimes because they usually have an ending that ties up all the loose ends of a story and makes sense of all that preceded it. Life often doesn’t make sense or doesn’t end with all things tied up in a nice bow.

However, these days, it’s becoming harder to separate fact from fiction, especially when it comes to reality. In our recent issue of Pittsburgh Fifty-Five Plus magazine, I had the pleasure of interviewing two women who are reading their way through some of the best novels ever written. One of the things they noticed is how novels written in the centuries before now went into explicit detail when describing places and objects. That was because in those days, they didn’t have access to Instagram, Google Images, YouTube or the Internet, so a writer had to paint those pictures in their readers’ minds by using lots of words. [Read more…]