Monday, December 3, 2012

I Cry

I just finished a book called The Weird Sisters.  At the end, I cried.  It was a happy ending, but still…I have always been a crier.  Happy, sad, anything moving can bring tears to my eyes.  I have to admit that as I have gotten older I cry easier but it’s always been there.  I used to cry at commercials.  The Kodak one with the little kid being licked by golden retriever puppies or the Folgers one where the young man comes home and his sister says, “You’re the only gift I need.”
It used to bother me.  When a movie I was watching with the kids hit the happy/sad moment, I would casually wipe the tears before the kids could say, “Are you crying?”  It was a Sesame Street movie, but Big Bird was just so sad.  Don’t get me started on Old Yeller.
As I’ve gotten older I have embraced my tears of joy or sadness.  I rejoice when a book or movie moves me to tears.  In this day and age it is so easy to become hardened to emotions.    
Yesterday, I was curled up on the couch with a good book and my husband was watching golf... (no surprise there!)  Out of the corner of my eye, I caught a short commercial with a returning soldier surprising his son at school.  The tears started.   Three Kleenexes and several minutes of a perplexed husband’s quizzical look later I returned to my reading. 
I noted several things:
1.  My eyes and nose get a good cleaning.
2.  I somehow feel as if I have had a therapeutic moment, very Zen, cleansing if you will.
3. The smile after can bring about a momentary change in an otherwise tedious day.
So, bring on that new baby, emotional homecomings, heart tugging commercials and poignant family moments.  My Kleenex and I embrace you!!!!

Saturday, October 6, 2012


There she sat.  I called her “she” because I considered her to be an extension of myself.
She was a 1972 Plymouth Barracuda, Moss Green with a black leather top.  It was my dad’s dream car that he had bought to drive when he gave my sister and me his old 1968 Chevy II after we had successfully obtained our drivers licenses.  The Chevy II was a tank.  A tan, squared up, four door piece of machinery whose only job was to protect us in our early days behind the wheel. 
But I wanted the power.  I wanted the speed.  And I was the bad one.
I would wait until my sister would ask to use the car on a Friday night before stating that I too had plans and needed wheels. 
“Okay you can have the Barracuda, just be careful.”
“Careful, sure.  You know me, always careful.”
Friday night, Headly Road.  We would all meet and race; the guy with the GTO, the guy with the Pontiac 2x2 and even the guy with the souped up Volkswagen.
Looking back I can’t get over the chances I took on the dangerous winding roads.  I just knew I loved the speed.  I lived for the exhilarating feel of the force that threw you left to right as you took the corners, perilously close to the deep ditches that ran alongside the narrow country roads. 
There were a few minor collisions between some of the other vehicles, but I was lucky enough to come away unscathed.  The worst that happened to me was one winter’s night when I was running against my friend in his Pontiac 2x2.  I knew I didn’t stand a chance, he was fast and a little crazy.  When I pulled his name, I knew I would sit back and race just for the fun of it.  No expectations. 
The road had been salted and was nice and dry.  I sat revving my motor beside the Pontiac, waiting until we got the all clear from the guys that stood along the road at half mile intervals.  The flag flew and we were off.  Tires screeching, the smell of rubber burning mixed with the stench of exhaust fumes. 
It was all going well.  He was ahead by two car lengths at the first bend.  As I came out of the turn my wheels skidded on the salt that had accumulated by the edge of the road.  As abruptly as my tires had slid they just as suddenly caught in the gravel throwing the car into the ditch.  Slushy snow and mud flew over the front of the sleek car.  The exact moment of the loss of control remains a blur to this day but my seat belt held me securely in place.  I sat stunned for a few moments.   Friends ran to my car. 
“Are you okay?”
“Holy shit!”
I heard the mumbling s of my friends but still wasn't piecing it together.
I got out of the car and sat on the ground.  My friend Scott walked around the car.  “No damage.  Just a bunch of mud and grass smashed up in the front fender.
Did I think about the possible outcome of being injured?  Did I worry about my own safety? 
No. I was worried that I had wrecked my Dad’s car and I was going to get killed when I got home.
I pulled myself together, helped pull the car out of the ditch with my friend’s truck and went to his house to hose down the car, wiping off any remnants of the dirt and debris.  There was only a small scratch in the chrome on the front bumper. 
For years after it wasn’t the danger or the wreck that would bother me.   I would see that little scratch and it was a constant reminder that I had let my father down.   

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Time Keeps on Slipping...

           My husband and I just took a 17 day vacation to my childhood home in Ohio. While there, Kirk played in a three day member guest golf tournament with his brother Scott, brother-in-law Doug and friend Brian.  
          The first week was a whirlwind of family gatherings, shopping and relaxing by the pool. 
          The second week, my Mom and I attended the Ohio State Fair, went to a concert on the river and watched Fire on the Water.  We went to the small town of Utica for peaches, had dinner and lunch at several new restaurants, visited with every family member in town and attended Sunday church services. 
         It was a lovely, typical vacation spent at the home of my youth.
         Halfway through, things changed.  I was reading the paper and saw that a classmate had died.  I’d met up with her recently at a reunion of sorts and she was smiling and laughing with the rest of us.  Her demise had been quick and heartbreaking. 
         Once again, I was hit with the reality that the time we have on earth is fleeting.  I was happy I had seen her in May, but wondered how someone could be there one minute and gone the next.  As I was dealing with this unexpected loss the news came that we had lost a family member in a very tragic way. 
          Both were around my same age.  Both enjoyed life and were loved by their families.
          So, I question.  Sitting in the chair at the service for my family member, I kept looking around, wondering what we were doing here.  How could we lose someone so young?
          I didn’t question when my 99 year old Grandmother passed.  She’d survived breast cancer and lived with diabetes.  Her last months were spent in a nursing home and she hated lying in a bed hooked up to machines.  I understand that.
          But the shock of these two losses still haunts me. 
          It makes me want to spend a little more time with family.  Doing things I love.  Write a little more.  Garden a little more.  Buy that Jeep I want, no matter how impractical.  Take those trips, walk the dog, hug everyone.  Stop spending my time worrying about things I can’t change and putting time into things I can.  Say yes instead of no.  Yes, I will go to that concert, even though I hate crowds.  Yes, I will meet you for lunch or dinner even though I don’t feel like going out. 
         If I see someone that needs help and think I should step up and help them, instead of waiting for someone else to step up, I will move.  I will be a better me.  Patient with my family and friends and letting all the insignificant disputes fall by the wayside. 
         I want to celebrate this life and hope that someday, someone will say, “She lived a splendid life and had no regrets.”

Sunday, August 12, 2012


A short story I wrote recently...................

The clanging of the gears sliding through the complex contraption screech as they rub metal on metal.  I glance up at the mammoth amusement ride they call The Monster. 
The man running the machine nods in my direction.  “You’re next.  Just stand on the platform and sit back when the seat swings forward.”
My five-year-old daughter stands next to me on her tiptoes, arms reaching towards the sky.  “Momma, I want to go this high.”
We step on the platform as the scoop like chair sweeps us off our feet.  As we sail past, the man reaches over and locks the bar in place as we make the turn heading upward.  My daughter keeps her hands in the air.  I grip tightly to the bar and close my eyes.
The large wheel starts and stops as he locks other riders firmly in place.  Finally, we begin our trip.  Up and up, round and round.  I look out over the festive scene below.  Bright lights, a myriad of brilliant colors dot the scenery.  The aroma of popcorn, mixed with the burnt sugar smell of cotton candy wafts through the air. 
Below us, a man shouts at carnival goers as they walk passed. “Guess your age, guess your weight.”
In the background bells ring, horns blare.
The seat we are riding in stops abruptly at the top.  It swings in the air, finally settling in position high above the chaos below.  My daughter leans forward, causing the bucket to sway.  She wants to experience the view by looking straight down.  I grab the back of her pants as she leans farther forward, the bar digging into her tiny stomach below the Hello Kitty tee. 
“Sit back,” I yell above the machine and the chorus of noise from the carnival below.
My daughter looks back at me over her shoulder, “I’m not scared.”
“It’s dangerous,” I plead. “Please sit back.”
She sits back, smiles up at me and then pats my hand.  “I’m okay, Momma. Don’t be afraid.”

Thirteen years later. 

Two weeks ago, my daughter graduated from high school.  Due to an early admission to college she is packed and ready to drive with her best friend the four hours to her dormitory.
We stand in the drive.  My husband is snapping pictures for her memory book I started when she was born.
I hug her close.
“It’s okay, Mom.  I’m not scared.”
“It’s just dangerous out there.”  I hold her close, imagining that if I don’t let go, she can’t move on.
“I’m not five.”
As I let her go, I want to tell her that to me she will always be that five-year-old, staring down from the top of the Ferris wheel, unafraid.  I want to tell her that her independence and fearlessness scares the hell out of me.  I want her to know that no matter where she goes or what she does, she will always be that small child reaching for the sky and my love and my fears will always be with her.

Monday, July 16, 2012

You Clean, I Clean

I call it the Bum clean effect and it goes like this. You are walking by a side table and notice there is some dust on the picture frame. You pick up said frame and give it a quick polish on your back side. You know you’ve done it. It’s one of those cleaning secrets no one talks about.

There are other variations of this cleaning process.

One I call the I already have on an old flannel shirt, why not use the sleeve to wipe down the dresser as I walk by.

Another I call the I’m on my way to the laundry room and have an old sock, why not stick it on your hand and wipe down that mirror in the hallway.

These are not things I have always done. They are the little shortcuts I have come up with over the years to allow me those few extra moments of down time I so deserve.

If I had to walk all the way up to the closet where I keep my cleaning products, then to the laundry room for my cleaning towels, I would waste around ten minutes I could be writing, gardening or reading.

I figure if I add up my bum cleaning, flannel shirt wiping, old sock shinning minutes, I have probably saved almost a week of extra free time.

Again I say…it’s the little things.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

It Was Wonderful to See You!

It was the fourth of three outfits I’d tried on.
“That’s cute,” my mom said.
“I don’t want to look like I’m trying too hard.”
She smiled.
“Should I wear my hair straight? Or curly?”
“Curly,” Mom said. 
“I wish I didn’t have to wear these damn glasses.”
“I’m sure most people your age have them.”
Outfit on, hair and make-up done.  One last check of Facebook on my friend Mel’s page to make sure the event was still on, then head out to the impromptu class reunion.
I walked in not knowing what to expect.  It had been over 35 years since I had last seen many of the people who had RSVP’d to the event.    I stepped up to the bar and looked around and recognized NO ONE!!! 
“Are you with the class reunion?” The bartender asked.
“Yeah,” I replied, ready to turn and run.
“They are on the other side.”
A deep breath escapes my body.  I round the bar and there they are, the faces from my past.  We’ve changed, but in their eyes I see the boys and girls of my youth.
I make the rounds.  I hear the stories; the marriages, the kids, the divorces and the deaths.  We reminisce about the good times and the bad.  We talk about the classmates we’ve lost, all too young.
Each person had a story, the story of their life.  Each was unique, but there was always that underlying similarity.  We’d grown older.  We’d lived our lives.  We’d struggled, we’d failed, we’d succeeded and we’d survived. 
It was wonderful catching up, but so hard to get around to everyone.  My best friend from childhood was there with her new husband, as was my favorite cousin who was a year behind me all through school.  Close friends and passing acquaintances filled the outdoor area.  
Someone thought to bring a yearbook and a couple of times I had to put the name to the face from the pages of the chronicles of our youth.
Laughter filled the night as we reminisced about our past and chatted about our future. 
It was late when I got home after dropping two of the girl’s at their hotel. 
“So did you have fun?” A voice came from the darkness of my mother’s room.
“I did,” I said.  “You know how sometimes you don’t see someone for years and then when you get together it feels like yesterday?”
“That’s how it was.”
I’m so glad we took the opportunity to gather together. 
Life is short and every aspect of our life is important. 
We can’t have a future without celebrating our past.
 So, to all my friends that came out, it was wonderful seeing you and let’s not make it so long between get-together’s.  

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Does It Have To Be Either Or ???

I have been reading lately about the stay at home Mom vs. the working Mom. Since I’ve been both I felt I might be able to help with the discussion.   
Both are hard work. 
When the kids were little, I stayed home and it was like I was a freaking day camp counselor.  Monday was library story hour, Tuesdays and Thursdays we’d head to the pool for swim lessons, Wednesday was Dreher Zoo for kids’ days and Fridays we went to the beach.  Occasionally we would head out to one of the many parks in the area and have a picnic. 
We’d head home for lunch and the kids would nap while I did the needed house work.  My sister once gave me a plaque that said, ‘My house is clean enough to be healthy, but dirty enough to be happy.’  Then came play time. Daniel would play computer games and the girls usually played dress up or Barbie.  At 4:00, I would start supper.  I always had family dinners at 5:30 just like Mom.  I loved those times, with Kirk listening as the kids told about their day.
As each kid went off to school, the schedules changed a little, but it was basically busy mornings and working afternoons.  I got involved in PTA, was a room Mom, and volunteered for field tips.  It was my job.  I didn’t get performance assessments, I didn’t get raises or bonuses, but I got hugs and kisses and I was there to kiss boo boos and hug hurts away.
When the kids went to middle school, I went to work.  I worked at a Barnes and Noble in the morning so I would be home in the afternoon for dinner and bedtime.  The juggling involved was sometimes overwhelming.  Get home, make dinner, spend time with family while doing household chores, read the kids a book before bed and then hugs and kisses before falling into my own bed, completely exhausted.
High school came and they needed me less so I took a job at an unfurnished furniture store.  It was small and family run; I felt it was a great fit.  I still rushed out the door at 4 to be home in time for dinner and evenings with family.  With an early quitting time, I was able to make the tennis matches, drama productions and softball games followed by family dinner at the local sports bar.
When the older kids went to college, I quit working and decided to volunteer at Quantum House in West Palm Beach.  It is much like a Ronald McDonald House, where families stay while their children are hospitalized.  I was there for six months when they offered me a job.  And I loved it.  Helping families in need somehow fulfilled that part of being a Mother that I missed.  I set the routine.  Sundays I would cook meals for the week.  Spaghetti sauce and stews would be put into the freezer.  Laundry, ironing and outfits were hung for the week. 
Then we lost four children in one month.  They ranged in age from 2 to 16 years of age.  I would come home crying.  By this time each of our kids had graduated from college and Kirk said we didn’t need the extra money so if I wanted to stay home we’d be okay.  I thought long and hard before deciding to once again work at home. 
Someone once asked me what I do all day.    I say I write every morning and then I make sure everything is taken care of so when Kirk gets home we can just enjoy our life.  Lawn care, deliveries, dinner, laundry, family gatherings, and a whole assortment of jobs and chores make up my day. 
I have lived both sides of this issue and each is equally hard.  We women live with enough guilt about our decisions to have to defend them constantly to the press, to our families and to each other.  We need to support one another, stop pointing fingers, and stop reading those ridiculous studies that say one way is better than the other. 
 Maybe the men who execute these studies should take the money they invested in them and divide it up among women with families so they can take a two week all expenses paid vacation. It would be a better use of the money, because seriously we women don’t care; we are all working and are just too damn tired.

Saturday, June 9, 2012

It’s the Little Things

A few weeks ago I wrote a blog about all those singular moments that make up a life time.  The birth of your children, marriage, or losing a parent.  When you look back over your life these are the things that jump out, they are like the peaks on an echocardiogram…straight line, blip, straight line, blip. 
But recently on one long drive from my home in South Florida to my mother’s home in Ohio I came across some events that made me realize, sometimes it’s the little things.
It started when I was driving the first leg of my journey from West Palm to Greensboro to meet Kirk at the Georgia house.  (I drove up a couple days early and he flew in later.  It saves on his vacation days and hey, it works). 
 I decided to take the back roads up through northern Florida and southern Georgia.  Me, Kenny Chesney, Tim McGraw, Rascal Flatts and various other country friends.  My boys and I were cruising up 441 and I drove by acres of tobacco fields.  But there, right in the middle of the sea of green was about an acre of sunflowers.  They were tall and as the bright afternoon sun hit the yellow of the flowers, a brilliant glow reflected off.  It was an amazing sight.  I pulled my car over and sat and enjoyed the wonderful gift. 
A few hours later I made the final turn towards the lake.  I came up over a ridge and looked out over the vast rolling hills that lay in the valley below me.  The sun was on the horizon and there was a light mist rising from the trees.  Again I pulled over and just sat, enjoying the beauty that nature provides.  
A couple days later, Kirk and I were sitting on the back deck, watching a heard of deer cross the golf course behind the cottage and stroll down to a small clover field just at the edge of the woods.  We sat watching, quietly enjoying the view when a humming bird flew up next to where we were sitting and fluttered stationary for what seemed like twenty seconds.
On my trip from Georgia to Ohio I saw acres of farmland, farmers out on tractors, working their fields.  I saw a horse running full out across a pasture, the wind blowing it’s mane up in the air.   I giggled like a school girl imaging it’s joy at just running free.
As I turned into my old neighborhood, I saw my parents home, the one we’ve lived in for over 57 years.  The familiarity always makes me stop and smile. 
I sat by my father’s grave and chatted for awhile.
And as I got into the car to drive the 18 hours back home, I was excited about what wonderful sights I might see and I realized sometimes it’s the little things that make up a lifetime.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Something You Never Knew

There is something that most of my friends from my childhood and possibly throughout my later years don’t know about me.  I am a nerd.  In fact, I always have been.  When I was little I loved comic books.  My favorite was the Archie series with Veronica and Betty always vying for Archie’s affections, while Reggie, Jughead and the rest of the gang filled in the storylines with all the angst driven times of high school. 
I also have the complete Johnny Quest series. It was about a boy named Johnny Quest, who along with his friend Hadji, dog Bandit, Johnny’s scientist father Dr. Benton Quest, and bodyguard/pilot Race Bannon, investigated strange occurrences throughout the world. 
Add to the comic books an early interest in reading and musicals and you have my early nerdom well in hand.  To this day, if you look at my favorite TV shows you’ll see Doctor Who, Sherlock Holmes, Torchwood and NCIS.  Okay maybe NCIS isn’t a nerd show, but I do love me the forensic science they use, oh to be Abby Sciuto. 
Seriously, ask me anything.  Fantastic.  Allons-y, Allonso.  Geronimo.  Bow ties are cool.  What?  What?  The game is afoot. 
See Nerd.
The other day a friend said she didn’t like playing on line games with me because I always win.   That’s because while you all were out at the disco’s I was playing Dungeons and Dragons.  And while you were out playing toss with your kids I was playing Intellivision and Atari with my son. 
A couple years ago when Daniel moved home for awhile the new Uncharted Drake’s Fortune game came out.  Kirk would come home and I would be curled up on the bed as my son sat at his desk playing and I would be yelling, “Behind you, a treasure, right there behind you.”
It’s a standing joke among the immediate family members that we embrace our nerdom. 
So, as much as I would like to come up with a big finish for this article, there is a book calling my name. I told Kirk I was taking a personal day, no laundry or toilet cleaning today. The crusades, secret order and mystery calls as I will be revisiting Raymond Khoury’s The Last Templar.  

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Will It Ever be Better/Worse Than This?

It was 1973. We had just finished the Gahanna Relays. The group I was with headed to the Drive-in movies in Whitehall. Two cars parked next to each other. In mine, myself and my three best friends, in the other a guy I had a serious crush on and his friend. We all got out and mingled. A few other cars showed up and soon the group grew to around thirty fellow students. I remember it like it was yesterday. I was leaning against the front of my car when my crush came over. We started talking and when the movie began, he lifted me onto the hood of my car, sat beside me and draped an arm around my shoulder. It was amazing. It was the first time I remember thinking, ‘Nothing will ever be better than this moment.’ We ended up dating for over a year until he went away to college. When he left, I cried and thought, ‘Nothing will ever be worse than this.’

The next year I met Kirk. We dated for five years before we got married and there were too many, 'Nothing will be better than this' moments to write in this short blog. I do remember walking with my father down the aisle and looking at the man I was marrying and thinking, ‘Nothing will be better than this.’

A year later, I had my first child. It was late one night, during the 2 am feeding. I was sitting in a big over sized rocking chair, my son had just finished his bottle and his eyes were fighting sleep. I knew I should put him back to bed, but I just sat there, rocking and holding him, sharing that special moment between parent and child. I thought, ‘Nothing will ever be better than this.’

Then came the next two additions and I wondered, ‘Can a person love another child as much as they love the first?’ And I did. The love, as well as our family, grew. And I would sit with each of those wonderful babies, memorizing each tiny feature from eyelash to their sweet heart shaped lips. I sat gently holding the tiny hands, nibbling on the miniature toes and I thought, ‘Nothing will ever be better than this.’

They grew and so did the wonderful moments. School, sports, plays, graduations, college; all moments were I’d sit with tears in my eyes and wonder if any moment could be better than this.

SO… we went along. Then one day 17 years ago, I was called home. My Father had gone into hospice. As I lay my head on his chest and said, “I love you” for the last time, I wondered, ‘Will there be any moment in my life worse than this?’

Then I remembered one of my favorite parts of a movie I loved. It was called Parenthood. The grandmother was explaining that some people get on the merry-go-round of life, going round and round, no ups, no downs and their lives are the same day in and day out.

Others get on the roller coaster. Their lives go around sharp corners, through the loop-de-loop, up the high peaks and then down into the deep valleys. They laugh, they cry and in the end they come off a wonderful ride.

So I’ll take those moments of better and worse. Because they are all part of that wonderful ride we call life.

Saturday, March 31, 2012

What We Do Makes a Difference

Oh these wonderful women that I call friends. On a day to day basis you step out there and make the world a better place.

Yesterday I was reading over some of the past posts from friend’s walls. You see, I’ve kind of been in a funk lately. I have always been the eternal optimist, looking for the good wherever I can find it. If a person is mean then I always think there must be something going on in their lives, some hurt or trial that propels them to act out. But lately the meanness seems to be escalating.

My blog has been silent due to my recent overload of negative people bashing, political hatred and nasty attacks via the internet on everything from disagreeing with someone else’s opinions to their religious beliefs. I am overwhelmed by the constant complaining from people who feel they have a right to negatively comment on the most miniscule news, idea or posting. As if sitting behind a computer, spewing hatred, allows them some anonymity and therefore they can hit and run without reprisal.

Seriously, I was in a funk and even sitting down to write caused me to slip even farther into my bad mood.

So yesterday I tried a new exercise. After reading some past posts about friends that have gone to Haiti to help rebuild, spent time on the gulf coast re-habilitating animals hurt after the BP spill and volunteered to help up north with the recent tornado damages I thought I’d try something.

I posted a simple, “What did you do today to make a difference in someone else’s life?”

Some of the answers were -

  • Helped my Mother get her computer up and running
  • Shopping with Mom for her birthday and made her a cake
  • Approved several $$ dollars in business loans
  • Got a patient home health care as she lives alone
  • Sent 42 boxes of food and magazines to Men serving in Afghanistan
  • Got a family with an ill child relief from their electric bill

And then I remembered something I tried to teach my kids. Doing the big things is important. But it’s the everyday differences we make in people’s lives that make the world a better place.

I guess I need to stop letting the poison in and take time to appreciate the positive.

So, to these wonderful women who I call friends, that make differences in the lives of so many people every day.

I salute you and thank you for pulling me back.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Wrap Me Up

I was cleaning out the closet for my annual spring clean when I came across a piece of clothing I’ve had for I don’t know how long. Ladies, you know the one. It started out flannel, but it has been washed so many times it looks like an old cotton shirt. It was my fathers or my grandfathers, I don’t remember, but somehow I inherited it.

It’s navy blue, white and green checked. It’s extra large and when I put it on its baggy in all the right places. I need to roll the sleeves up to keep them from hanging over the end of my hands. It hits perfectly mid thigh for use as a nightshirt or an occasional, “I don’t think I’ll get dressed today” shirt.

It’s the piece of clothing I put on when I’m sick, when I’m tired or achy or just need to have the warmth of my shroud surround me.

It hangs conveniently on the top of the closet door or sometimes when I’ve had one of those weeks; it hangs on the top of one of the posts on my four poster bed.

As a writer there have been times I have counted on the shirt to help me through a brief block. I grab my shirt, a cup of earl grey tea with a shot of Irish whiskey and work through.

As my husband was piling his old golf shirts and workout clothes into the large bag he nodded in my direction. “Does that go?”

“Not in this lifetime,” I replied.

And back it goes, hanging close by, for when I need it to help me through or bring me comfort.

As always it’s the little things……

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Today was just a bit different

The day started out like any other. I stretched, got out of bed, and opened the blinds to the new day before setting out to complete my morning tasks. Dog out, check… coffee made, check… newspaper read, check… dishwasher empty, check… upstairs to make bed, check… shower and dress, check… Then I sat down to get some work done. The latest book needs some serious editing. But before that I thought I would check the FB page.

The first post stopped everything. A friend from high school had passed away. He wasn’t a close friend. In fact I’ve only seen him twice since graduation. But he was that one guy that every time you saw him he was smiling. My sister said that she remembered him as being a person that accepted everyone for who they were, not caught up in the crazy hierarchy that makes up most high schools.

But every time we hear about a person in our own age groups, no matter what age, aren’t we all reminded of our own mortality? Doesn’t it make you stop and examine your own life for the briefest moment wondering what this thing we call life is all about?

Oh, you know for a few days we’ll think hard about what changes we can make in our lives. We’ll do more, take a few more chances, say yes instead of no. Yes to life. Yes to those moments where we step outside our safety nets and live. It’ll last a few days, but then we will all slide back into our safe existence. It’s not bad; it’s just what it is.

So…for those of you that knew him, here is my Terry "Jake" Jakeway story.

I can’t remember what year it was so I’ll say I was a freshman. I was in typing class. Yeah I know, easy class, but it filled a credit hour and I thought it would be undemanding. I was late to class, probably due to playing kissy face with the boyfriend. (I won’t put his name ‘because it wasn’t Kirk). So I take one of the last chairs and I happen to be in front of Greg Bates and Terry Jakeway. For those of you that went to Gahanna you know this was not good. I guess the jocks took this class for an easy A. Let’s just say I did better than those two, but not by much. But I do remember the teacher was one of those that phoned it in. You know, “Okay type," then leave the room to get a coffee. Greg and Terry would entertain the class. I’ll never forget the fun we had. So what if I still only type 30 words a minute with typos, the memories made in that classroom where what high school should be about.

We lost Greg when he was way too young, and now Terry. The only thing I can say is God’s heavens just got a little more laughter, but at what price to those of us left behind?

We need the laughter here, we need the joy, we need the smiling face.

Rest in Peace old friend.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Who? What? Where?

Dear kids, yes we know you are adults, but we still worry. Not because we don’t trust you or because we feel we have to be in on your every decision. But we have spent a lifetime wiping tears, cleaning cuts and scrapes, and listening to problems that were devastating one day and forgotten the next. We’ve laughed with you, cried with you and supported you financially and emotionally. We loved every minute but there are a few things we need from you. Number one, just keep me informed.

Last week my daughter Lauren was filming in Miami on the set of Burn Notice. She was leaving Miami around five in the afternoon and called to let me know she was going directly to her Stand-Up class. She complained that the traffic was horrible and drivers were crazy in Miami. So at midnight when she should have been home by ten-ish I started worrying. Had she been forced to get off in a bad area of town due to a traffic accident and gotten carjacked, lying dead on one of the horrible side streets in Liberty City.

Then today I called my son, Daniel. He answered with, “I’ll call you right back.” He sounded out of breath and I heard cars in the background. Was he in an accident on 95. Was he with Amanda and had an accident? Had one of them been pulled over?

And then there’s the baby. Brooke has been independent since she was first walking. I remember when she was two my friend stopped by and as she was leaving she kidded, “I think I’ll just take this one home with me.”

Brooke held her arms up to the woman and looked at me and said, “Bye Bye”.

More often than not when she gets off work she and friends go out. We may not see or hear her until 2 or three in the morning. Which would be fine, except she and Lauren live at home and I wake up and see the downstairs light on and know they aren’t in. The crazy thoughts take over. Is she safe? If not how will I find her?

I don’t think kids realize that when you’ve spent your whole life raising them, caring about them, loving them, that no matter what age they may be, you worry. Add to that the fact that I am a writer and my creative side takes over. I just finished a book and it has a pretty scary serial killer in it. The research I had to do on serial killers added a whole new level to my worries.

I remember I was talking to my dad once and I said, “Aren’t you glad we’re older and you don’t have to worry?”

He looked at me and said, “Different ages, different problems.”

In the end, Lauren was just late because class ran over. Dan was in line at the grocery, paying the cashier and didn’t want to be rude, (where the car noise came from I’ll never know) and 9 times out of 10 Brooke is safe in her bed in the morning. (Once in awhile Brooke just stays at the house where the party was. And on a side note…I wrote this when Brooke was living at home. She has since bought a house and moved out. I worry less, ignorance is truly bliss.)

The bottom line is “just let us know”. We don’t expect to be involved on your lives to the same extent we were when you were small; in fact NO ONE wants that. Just help us not worry. In this day and age with phones and texting and all the other communication apparatus it’s easier than ever to “drop us a line”.

Monday, February 6, 2012

Better This Time Around

This social media thing has me perplexed. I mean, I am such a people pleaser that almost anyone who “friends” me is accepted into my list. But here’s the thing. Some of the people that reach out to me are from high school. A time when we were all a little anxious, dealing with all the crazy mixed up feelings and attitudes that come with being a teenager. The last thing I want is for someone from my past to think that I am that same person.

When I think of my high school years I see a girl that never felt she measured up. That was always looking for a way to fit in. I had friends. I joined clubs. But there was always a part of me that felt like an outsider. Until I met Kirk my junior year, I never really felt like I was a part of anything special.

My Mother doesn’t understand. She loved high school. She was smart and she was popular. She is still in close contact with many of the girls with which she graduated. In fact when she comes to Florida we take a couple days to head to the other coast to visit her lifelong friend Rosie. They have been friends for over 70 years.

I try to tell her that when you graduate with 50 people, it’s much different then graduating with 500. We were lucky we all didn’t get a little lost in the crowd.

Now with facebook come all these faces from the past. I love catching up with people whose lives touched mine during those days gone by. I love seeing the people they’ve become and share in the joy as their families grow. (We’re mostly grandparents now.)

SO- here’s the question; What about the ones that hurt you? The ones that made you feel like you were less of a person? The ones that betrayed your friendship and caused you pain?

Do you assume that like yourself they have moved on, becoming a different person in their later years? Do you accept that social networking is just that and expanding your friendships moves you on to a better place?

I moved away from my small town when I was 21. I settled in Florida and kept in touch with only five of my friends from High School. We watched and grew together, seeing each other through the ups and downs, the good times and bad. But with social networking you’re in contact with a person for perhaps the first time in 35 years. Sometimes it’s like you’ve been stuck in a time warp and you are thrown back to that time, with all the insecurities included.

So let’s all give each other the benefit of the doubt and assume the crazy, self involved teenagers have turned out as caring, considerate adults, just trying to get by.

I will if you will…

Monday, January 30, 2012


We thought we were prepared. My Grandmother was a victim of Alzheimer’s for five long years. She’d been moved from assisted living to the nursing home after it was decided she needed additional care. Now the time had come for us to say our final goodbyes. The family visited the night before she passed; sitting around telling stories to the empty shell of a woman we loved.

We hated the disease, hated that it had taken everything away from her. The laugh, the importance of family, the strange dance she did when you left her house, and the wonderful food she prepared.

Her own home had been sold years earlier to pay for the needed move to the assisted living facility. The precious keepsakes she’d collected over the years found homes with various members of the family. Antiques were divided up and what was left over went to auction. She had enough to live the rest of her days with the best possible care.

On the day she died, my mother was tending to the necessary tasks associated with the death of a loved one. I offered to go to the nursing home and collect Gram’s belongings, hoping to ease her burden.

As I entered the building, several of the aides came up to talk to me about my Grandmother. They’d known her since she first came to the facility and couldn’t help but share stories about her wonderful spirit. One laughed, mentioning that on Wednesday mornings Grams was the first in line for her weekly hair appointment and perm. She was always a strong woman with strong opinions, but even that was something the nurses would smile at and gently shake their heads.

I walked into her empty room. The bedclothes had been washed and placed in a large black trash bag. Her clothes and toiletries were carefully tucked into her battered light blue suitcase. I looked around the room. This was all that was left.

A lifetime put into a trash bag and a suitcase.

Tears stung my eyes as I lifted the containers to leave. An aide stepped in to see if she could help. I held up the luggage and said, “No, I’ve got it. This is all that’s left.”

“And her spirit.”

“Her spirit?” I asked.

“These are just things,” she said, pointing to the bags. “Her spirit, your memories. Those are the important things that will be with you for a lifetime.”

The bags felt lighter as I left. The woman was right, these were just things. What my Grandmother had left us was worth more than anything one could buy, worth more than earthly goods.

When I got home I walked in and my family asked, “Is that all there is?”

And I answered, “No, not at all.”

Monday, January 16, 2012

I Believe…

This is a story about something that happened awhile back. But it’s stuck with me and since this blog is about my thoughts I decided it was time to revisit the past.

I was standing in line at the grocery behind a young woman that had one small child in the cart and another by the hand trying to pay for her groceries. She had milk, bread, a package of cheese slices, a small bag with three apples and a small bag of bologna. She was holding her wallet with one hand trying to maneuver the money out while keeping the two kids in check. (Been there done that…well 25 years ago, but as with most memories, not so long.)

The total came to $14.36.

The woman produced a five and six ones.

“Sorry,” she glanced at the cashier. “I need to put something back.”

She paused looking at her purchases.

“Put back the Bologna.”

“$11.36,” the cashier said.

The woman scrounged around in her purse, looking for change.

“Here,” I handed the woman a five. “Get the bologna.”

“No, that’s okay.”

“No really. Take it. I’ve had a bad day and helping you might just be the thing I need to turn it around.”

And this is where the story really starts.

“Thank you.” She paid for the groceries and turned to me. “Are you from the church or something?”

“No.” I didn’t understand the question.

“I go to …” she said and named a mega church in our area.

“Actually I don’t belong to any church. Let’s just say the church and I had a falling out a few years ago and I choose to believe what I want without the confines of four walls.”

“Oh,” she stammered, “well thank you anyway.”

Thank you anyway. Those words stick with me to this day. As if I wasn’t to be thanked as a person trying to do the right thing. If she’d been through my morning, maybe she would have understood why I choose to help someone when I could.

My day started with a call that the 16-year-old cancer patient I was working with had taken a turn for the worst. I’ll call her Jenny.

Jenny was given up by her parents at the age of twelve when she was diagnosed with cancer. The parents didn’t have insurance and the state would see to the medical expenses. By sixteen she was living in a group home. I’d tried to help her as much as I could, but she was a typical teenager and was sporadic at showing up for appointments.

A week before the day at the grocery, Jenny and her 17-year-old boyfriend, decided to get married. It wouldn’t be a legal marriage, just one preformed by the hospital clergy, for a young woman dying from cancer. She asked if I would be a witness. Again a witness to the marriage was not necessary, but who among us would argue? So I went over. She was hooked up to so many tubes and wires we stood in the doorway. She wore a white knitted cap over her smooth head. Tough nurses that had seen horrendous things in the pediatric cancer ward were crying in the hallway.

A week later, Jenny died.

I had left work, crying, as I usually did when we lost a child, but needed to stop at the grocery on my way home from work. There I ran into a young woman that had judged my help.

If I was nice, I must be religious. I must attend church.

Honestly, it just felt good to be able to help someone when my day had been spent feeling so inadequate, so helpless.

I sat in the parking lot trying to make sense of my feelings after the episode in the grocery. I came away with an even stronger belief that you should do the right thing even though you may be judged.

Good people, do good things, period.