Archive for the ‘best friends’ Category

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.

 

 

 

Read Full Post »

A childhood memory popped into my head. Made me laugh.

My best friend, Diane and I were just little kids and sitting under a tree in front of her neighbor’s house across the street.

Portuguese folks lived there. Not unusual in our town.

We had twigs in our hands and we waved them around like they were cigarettes. And spoke animatedly in Portuguese while we “smoked.”  Just nattered on and on in front of this house.

We probably only knew three words or phrases in Portuguese.

Cale a boca. Shut your mouth. We pronounced it like collabuca.

Va’ para casa. Go home. Our pronunciation was Vapadagaza.

Maybe a couple of others.

I’m sure there was a lot of gibberish filler under the tree that day.

Everyone had a parent who smoked back then. But I do not remember the Portuguese moms ever smoking. So I’m not sure where we picked up that scenario.

This memory made me smile for a few reasons.

Because we are still best friends and love each other dearly.

Because our kids are friends.

Because we were a couple of goofballs.

Because I can actually remember something so clearly after forty two years.

Sadly, neither one of us ever learned Portuguese. A pity since we had such promise! 🙂 

Have a lovely weekend. I hope you all remember something that will make you laugh or smile. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Read Full Post »

It’s that time of year. When we spend, spend and then spend some more. Money not time.

The pressure is on!

Stores and businesses prepare for this onslaught all year-long. Everywhere. And not just in Christian majority countries. It’s for everyone! Christmas is a cash cow, in many places around the world, leading one to believe that money might, in fact, be God.

It really has me thinking. Not just about  spending unnecessarily for gifts that may or may not really be appreciated. But also about what is a good gift.

This is what I came up with during my scorching of brain cells on the matter.

A gift should be thoughtful. It could be simple. Sentimental. Desired. Meaningful. It should be something that the recipient will actually remember, years later, where it came from and the feelings it elicited.

I think those are the best kind of gifts. I have received a few special gifts that I will always remember.

One was on a Christmas morning. It was after my beloved grandmother had died. When I opened the present from my mother it contained my grandmother’s wedding ring and her watch. Still in the original box. I cried buckets. My mom said that she didn’t think anyone would appreciate it more.

My Nana did not have much money. Not a lot of jewelry or anything by way of material goods. To feel the wedding ring that she wore on her hand for over sixty years just really, really touched me. It is so worn that it looks like it could snap in half.

nanawatch

ring

The most recent gift I received was from my childhood friend who lives in Massachusetts. She sent me a birthday card with pressed, colorful maple leaves. So I could sort of experience a New England autumn while I am in Malaysia. See, she had to think of me when she was out searching for the perfect leaves. I was on her mind. And she thought about what I could be missing from home.

leaves

She is also the one who gave me simple wind chimes when I moved from my home state back in 1994. Said that I could think of her when I heard them.

I have also been witness to many gift givings. And the ones that always stand out in my mind are the ones that were full of meaning or sentimentality. Not a brand new car or diamond ring. Not a new laptop or phone.

And there are also thoughtful ways to give these gifts. When we were young we had a family friend who was very ill with hepatitis. So very sick. I remember my mom making up a basket of individual, wrapped presents for him. So that he would have something to look forward to each day.

When my dad first arrived in the States he lived with his uncle for about ten years. Many years later, on my Dad’s 80th birthday, his cousin Kathy presented him with his army belt that she found in the basement of her house. He probably hadn’t seen it in fifty years.

That same day, at Dad’s party, I turned around and saw my Uncle Jim in the doorway. I nearly fell down with shock. He had told me he couldn’t fly in for the party because he was teaching a class. He said that he later thought about it and said, “I’ve known my brother-in-law forever. There is no way I can miss this guy’s 80th birthday.” And he booked the airline ticket.

193873_1811166432395_7143898_o

Jim and Patsy

There are many other examples of wonderful gifts. Of ways to give them. I could write all day. I guess my advice to all during this holiday season would be to really reflect on some of the best gifts you’ve received in the past.  And do they shore up with your present?

Read Full Post »

It’s September 11th and it is hard for so many not to remember that day. I remember as if it were yesterday.

We were emotional. Like every other aching American. We also had other worries. Whether there would be repercussions because of my husband’s first name. Because his mother, who was visiting us at the time, wore a hijab. We were afraid to take her to the milk store. Maybe he wouldn’t get a new job. And on and on.

Anyway, that’s not why I am writing. I could write pages and pages about that time. I prefer not to go on about it now. But I do want to share one memory.

I remember a telephone conversation with my mother. About two days after the tragedy. When I was staring at empty skies from my backyard patio.

She told me that my beloved grandmother in Rhode Island had taken a turn for the worse. That she might not make it.

I cried. Because I loved my grandmother so much. And also because I was afraid to get on a plane. The thought absolutely terrified me. I confessed this fear to my mother. She replied, “Oh honey, I totally understand. And Nana would understand.”

I cried even harder.

That’s the thing I love about my family. They dole out the guilt in small doses. Like any family. But not when it comes to the big stuff. They pick you up.

My husband saw me crying. I told him why.

He looked at me and immediately said, “I will drive you to Rhode Island.”

It was 1,800 miles away.

There are moments that I really love him. Like my heart is full. And then there are moments that I really love him. Like my heart will burst. That was one of those moments.

One sentence.

Not because he said those words. But because he meant them. Because he knew how much it would mean to me. Not him. Me.

Nana rallied and we did not need to make that trip. But when she died in November I was able to attend the wake and funeral. Because my husband felt that we needed to be with my family for Thanksgiving and Christmas that year. He had made the reservations.

So, I didn’t ever need that ride to Rhode Island. But I won’t ever forget that I had a ride if I needed it.

For our twenty-fifth anniversary he wanted to get me a new ring. A piece of jewelry. I told him no. I wouldn’t appreciate it. I didn’t need another piece of jewelry.

We are coming up on our twenty-seventh anniversary and he’ll be starting again. And I will tell him no.

What I want is what I already have. A heart that sometimes feels like it will burst. Because of those very moments.That is what I appreciate.

And maybe one day he will realize that, as faulty as my memory can be, there are just some things that I will never, ever forget.

Read Full Post »

I attended a school meeting yesterday. The new head of school was introducing some of the faculty and also telling us a little bit about herself.

She worked in Saudi Arabia for thirty years. She and her husband were educators. About eight years ago her husband had open heart surgery. He did not make it through the surgery. She said she did not lose just her colleague, husband, and father of her children that day. But also her very best friend.

Of course, my eyes filled up. I really felt her words.  A reminder to enjoy as many moments as I can with my husband. I would be lost without him.

The next thing she relayed was a story about her son. She and her husband had adopted two children from Taiwan. When her boy was about three years old he piped up from the back seat of the car, “I don’t look like everyone else.”

She told him that he will meet many people with different skin colors, different shaped eyes, and different sizes. None of these things really matter. She said, “It’s what’s here.” And she put her hand to her heart. “It’s what’s in the heart.”

Of course, my eyes filled up. I really felt her words. Another reminder of what is truly important. What is in a person’s heart.

Sure, she talked about many other things.

But the two things that I walked away with were invaluable. I wish all meetings were like that.

Read Full Post »

Many years ago my best friend’s brother-in-law had taken ill in the middle of the night and was in severe pain.

His wife, a nurse, said to him, “You will be okay.”

He replied, “No, I won’t.”

And he died.

I remember discussing this with another friend, Mary Ann. We were talking about whether you “know” when the milk is about to go bad. The expiration date.

She said she once read something that she would never forget.

Death

You will know me by my touch. 

And, now of course, I have never forgotten it. Even though it was more than twenty years ago.

Don’t know if this is always true. I am not sure if we know our last moment but it seems that sometimes it might be true.

Some feel the touch.

Don’t mean to be grim. Just wondering. I suppose that’s life.

Read Full Post »

Today is my best friend’s youngest daughter’s birthday.  She is eighteen. Totally seems like yesterday when she was born.

She’s a great kid. An all around nice girl. I would expect nothing less from a child of my oldest friend.

As I was sending her a birthday greeting today a memory was triggered. About a birthday party of hers a few years ago. I cannot even tell you the venue. My memory is that bad.

But I do remember my friend relaying the story to me.

She had invited a group of girls. And you know how the RSVP thing can go when people do not practice common courtesy. So my friend was annoyed from the get go with the lack of response. Not sure if she followed up to see how many would make it.

Anyway, day of party arrives. The only kid who showed up at the birthday party was her very best friend.

Maybe there was an event or something going on that day. I do not know the reason for no one else showing up.  I just know that no one did.

My girlfriend was fuming. But beyond the anger, my girlfriend’s heart was broken. That this would happen to her daughter on her birthday. That her heart would be broken. That she would be crushed. Her special day ruined.

What mom wouldn’t be?

But the two kids went off bowling or did whatever they did at the party.

Do you know, at the end of the day, that kid looked up at her mother and thanked her. She said, “I had a great day. That was the best birthday ever.”

My eyes are tearing up again as I write this and it was years ago.

I remember feeling so darn proud of that kid.

For not forgetting to thank her Mom.

And for realizing sometimes a day with your very best friend in the world IS the best day ever.

For just having an outlook on life that others could only dream about and will never have.

Still so darn proud of that kid. I wish her a billion best days ever.

Read Full Post »