Challenges

There are all sorts of illnesses and diseases out there. Some worse than others.

Many folks lose their memory but have good physical health for years.

Others have a keen mind and yet are trapped in a body that fails them.

I really don’t know which one is worse.

This past summer my husband joined me in the U.S. He doesn’t get to Rhode Island too often. Sometimes years pass.

But he tries to connect with friends from “back in the day” when he has the chance.

Petie worked at a local college (Providence College) in the IT Department. My husband sold computers to the school. They met there and became friends. An unlikely pair. A skinny Jewish kid with long hair and an earring and a well-groomed Arab salesman in a suit. But whatever. It worked.

He would come over to the house. I remember him bringing my daughter a huge stuffed bunny when she was little. It was bigger than her at the time.

Back then Petie (that’s what my husband always called him) was a slender and very fit young man.

Visited us in Texas after we moved there in 1994.

But as is wont to happen people lose touch. Especially pre-Facebook.

Happens to all of us. Get busy. Move far away. Don’t take the time to touch base.

He received a message from Petie during this visit but when it popped up it was dated November of 2014. Like eighteen months ago. Not sure how that happens?

It read, “Hey, stranger… how you doing? It’s been too damn long!!  Would love to catch up! Here’s my number.”

Petie didn’t pick up the phone and he wouldn’t be receiving any return texts from my husband.

Because he was dead from a horrific disease at the age of 50.

Petie was in great physical shape. A runner who put in miles each day.

Then came ALS. A disease that can target the most fit among us.

You don’t lose your mind. Just your body.

It’s ravaged.

Petie was diagnosed at the end of 2013. Gone by March of this year.

And there’s nothing he could have done differently.

Read Pete’s story here.

It will help put a face to the “ice bucket challenge” that you’ve all heard about in the past couple of years.

In the end my husband could only make a donation to ALS in his old friend’s name. With the hope that some day soon, with more research, there will be no need for any more “ice bucket challenges.”

RIP Peter Weiblen

Celebration of Life

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dry Hair

Was visiting my Mom this summer.

One day, after her shower, she says to me, “Gosh, as short as my hair is I just hate to dry it.”

I replied, “Me, too. I don’t think anyone likes to dry their hair.”

She laughed and said, “I thought it was just me.”

Nope.

Had same conversation with my husband when passing by “Drybar” a week later.

He said, “Good for her!”

Meaning the woman who started this booming business.

No cuts. No color. Just blowouts. They are in the business of drying hair. Yes, drying hair.

She’s making beaucoup bucks.

I said, “No one likes to dry their hair.”

He replied, “Wished I had known that.”

As in “Maybe he would have started that business before her??”

I remember laughing with my friend in California about the “missed opportunity” that can present itself when you use a towel.

I never dry my hair right away. Goes up into a big, white towel. And it could stay there. Minutes, hours and maybe even days.

Seriously though. When you have your hair up in a towel it’s like a clock (or bomb) ticking. If you leave it too long? Missed your opportunity! Have to start process all over again. Wet and wrap up in a towel once more!

Good for that lady. The Drybar dame. She didn’t miss her opportunity. She actually seized it!

There are always opportunities out there.

 

 

 

 

 

Like Us

Went to church yesterday. Possibly my first time attending a Sunday service that was not Catholic. Stepped outside the box! No, I’m not going all new-agey but I was happy to give it a try. There are worse places to spend an hour, no?

It was a very pleasant experience. The young guy (curate) talked about giving. About how we give and who we help.

He said, “It’s easy to help folks that look like us.”

Referenced a study (that got a few chuckles during his telling of the story) about Manchester United Football fans.

An actor was set up to stumble and fall. Crying in pain and clutching his ankle. When he was wearing his Manchester United jersey a whopping 92% of the fans go to assist him.

When he was wearing a plain white t-shirt only 30% of the fans went to help the fellow.

When he was wearing the rival team’s shirt (Liverpool) only 30% of the fans aided the man.

I looked up the study (fact checker that I am) to read about it. There’s more on the study here. Quite interesting since it demonstrates that a few minor changes can alter our perceptions and strengthen bonds with other people.

Causes one to really reflect on who we help.

Just those folks that look like us?

Acknowledging that this might be true would be the first step in changing our mindset and a great reminder that we are all on the same team.

I wish you, my teammates, all a wonderful week!

 

Unrealized Dreams

Some years ago my husband and I were invited to a bookclub dinner with two other couples in California. The wife of one of my husband’s employees came up with the idea and thought it would be fun.

I was used to my Dallas bookclub that was comprised of a half dozen, wine-guzzling, loquacious females.

My friend, Karla (Dallas book club) told me that her husband said, “What kind of granola is Mary eating out there in California?” After he found out it was for couples.

Or something to that effect. Equivalent of “What’s Mary smoking out there?”

The book was “The Last Lecture” written by the late Randy Pausch.

I recommend it. Or at least watch his video. Inspiration from a man who knew that he wasn’t going to be around too much longer.

Hubby didn’t finish the book but I shared the finer points with him during the car ride.

It was a good book. Focused on the important things in life and unrealized dreams.

Had dinner and wine.

So far, so good.

Then the woman puts a pot on the table and asks that we all write down our own unrealized dream on a slip of paper. Without our names.

The six of us complied.

Then she pulled out each one and read them. We had to guess who wrote each one.

So far, so good.

First one was “I always wanted to be a veterinarian but didn’t get accepted into the program.”

Uh oh!

A little guesswork determined this was from the hostess who was currently working as a pediatrician.

Who knew medical school was easier to get into than a veterinary program?

Next was, “I wanted to be an airplane pilot but couldn’t due to an eye injury.”

That was from my husband who was a CEO at the time.

Geez. I was starting to sweat. Maybe I didn’t put too much thought into mine!

Can’t remember the others. But I’ll never forget mine.

“I always wanted to learn how to whistle.”

A lofty goal from a lofty girl.

Well, that certainly lightened the mood although that was not my intention.

I realized (after I mentally berated myself for such a simple answer) that I was the only one who had written down a goal that I could actually still achieve. If I pursued it.

No, I still haven’t learned how to whistle.

But I will devote some time to it. Right after I devote the time to training my overly enthusiastic, five year old Jack Russell named Thumper. LOL.

Hadn’t even thought of whistling for a couple of years. But discussion was prompted at a family gathering a few weeks ago when someone mentioned meeting the best whistler in Ireland.

Led to some chatting in the room. Who can whistle?

My father’s side? Apparently not so much.

But my mother’s side is a different story. My grandfather was always whistling. And his kids could whistle.

Got me thinking about it all over again.:)

 

Have a wonderful week while you are thinking about what you would write on that scrap of paper.

Big or small.

Then go and make it happen!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dawn

I love dawn. Yes, the dawn of a new day. Who doesn’t?

But also the liquid dish soap. With a capital D.

I rarely find it in Kuala Lumpur and get a huge thrill when I do.

I do not just use it for dirty dishes. I also use it for my dirty laundry.  To treat grease stains before washing.

My mom’s friend Phyllis knew someone in the laundry business who passed along that wonderful tidbit. So, it’s been a laundry supply staple of ours for years and years.

Was at an East Side hair salon last week.

My daughter asked the stylist how to remove hair color.

The reply?

Dawn.

A few days before that we had plumbing issues at Mom’s house. Guys came in and took care of the problem. But we got to talking and I was asking one of them different questions.

One was about sluggish bathroom sinks and tubs. I told him I’ve always had problems because of my daughters’ hair.

He said,”It’s not hair that blocks drains.”

What??????

Continuing, “Everyone thinks that. But it’s actually soap scum that blocks everyone’s drains. Then hair and other stuff gets stuck on the built up scum.”

I told him that I use Drano to clear it. Although I never really thought that Drano or Liquid Plumber was probably the best thing for the environment. It’s not cheap either.

He said, “Look, you never have to use Drano again.”

Asked me to get some Dawn. Poured some down the drain. Not much at all. Maybe a quarter of a cup. Then he flushed with hot water from the tap. Only for a few minutes.

It worked! I was quite impressed.

Apparently Dawn is the miracle soap and can be used for many things.

Google away.

You’re welcome.

 

 

 

Tower

tower

This tower has been around for as long as I can remember. At Route 1 and 138 in South Kingstown.

My friend Sean drove me to the beach town a couple of weeks ago to check out some homes for sale. As we were stopped at the intersection’s traffic light I looked around for it. Because that’s what everyone does. I couldn’t see it from where we were positioned. The area looked a bit overgrown with trees and bushes.

I asked Sean if that was the location of the tower. And if it was still there.

Wasn’t sure. He’s a native New Yorker so he wouldn’t have driven by the landmark every summer and automatically look for it.

Later in the day I did a bit of googling. Didn’t take me long to get results. I sent a photo to Sean and he totally remembered the tower.

It’s sort of a unique thing on the side of a road. And not something you forget.

The tower is still there.

Here’s the interesting part.

There’s a story behind it.

It’s called Hannah Robinson’s Tower.

Hannah was the beautiful and beloved daughter of a very wealthy man named Rowland Robinson.

He sent his daughter to school in Newport. She soon fell in love with her French tutor. His name was Peter Simon.

Rowland did not think the teacher was a suitable match for his daughter and she was not allowed to see him.

The couple continued to meet secretly. With the help of someone in the family they eloped and moved to Providence.

Her father was furious and even put up some money as a reward to find out who helped them escape.

Hannah would have nine children. They lived in extreme poverty.

Her husband, realizing that he would never get his hands on a penny of the Robinson fortune, had affairs and eventually abandoned his wife and children.

The poor woman became sickly due to her living conditions.

Hannah’s father was still angry. Wanted to know who helped her leave and would only let her back in the family if he was told. Rowland headed toward Providence to see Hannah.

But his heart melted when he saw his child near death. He packed her up and brought her back home to Narragansett.

She asked her father to pull over at James Mc Sparran’s farm so that she could sit and look over her homeland. With a view of Narragansett Bay.

This is the spot where the tower now stands.

Hannah Robinson died at the age of twenty seven on October 30, 1773.

Seems there’s always a story.

 

 

 

 

 

Loss

My Mac died in Malaysia but was revived once I brought it to the Providence Apple Store.

Just like Lazarus.

Sadly, it died again two weeks later. So I am at a loss.

But thanks to us being an Apple family my daughter is letting me use hers to write this post.

I write about life. And I write about death.

I am home now. Visiting Mom and family for the summer in Rhode Island.

Read three obituaries in the last week. I either knew the person or knew the family of the person. It’s a small state. The place where I spent my formative years.

If I read the obituaries in Dallas (lived there twelve years) I would not know the folks. Sure, there would be the odd, unexpected death of someone in the community that I would know. But it would not be the norm.

I lived in Southern California for quite a few years. Same. Wouldn’t know a soul in the obits.

But once you come back home. Well, that’s different.  You know everybody. Especially when you grew up in a state that has a population of one million.

Yes, I once was one in a million. #Truth.

I was attending the funeral of my best friend’s father-in-law yesterday. He was ninety years old. A lovely man who led a truly wonderful life. Nine children and twenty-four grandchildren. Also great grand children in the mix. A family man. A faith filled man. A community man.

I stood outside the Portuguese church waiting for the doors to open. I was told we couldn’t enter because there was another funeral taking place.

Standing with others who were also waiting to fill the pews for the next funeral Mass.

The doors of the church finally opened.

There was a hearse outside on the street with its doors open ready to receive the blessed remains.

I spied a teddy bear in the back of the hearse. But I was still not prepared for what I saw next.

The smallest coffin I have ever seen came out of the church doors. It only required four pall bearers. I almost gasped. My throat closed. I looked at another couple who was also waiting to go into the church. And I could only glance at them and whisper, “Oh, God!”

Watching the young mother broke my heart.

The mourners of the young child left and the mourners of the old man entered the church.

The whole stinking process is sad.

It made me think.

The loss of a beloved father. No matter how old.

But still. A feeling of gratefulness.

Because his death was one of the best scenarios.

He left this world.

After serving his country.

Meeting and marrying the love of his life.

Bringing eight fabulous sons and a daughter into the world.

Starting his own business.

Being a community member.

Involved in his parish.

Caring about others.

I left the funeral service with sadness because I understand what it means to lose a father.

But I also left with an appreciation of a life well lived. And I sort of felt okay.

Not everyone has the same opportunity. For whatever reason.

Bless us all.

 

 

 

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