Posts Tagged ‘dallas’

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!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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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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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.

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Not winning any Mother of the Year awards over here. I suppose I am not alone. A mother is never sure if she is doing it quite right. And sometimes it takes awhile to see if  “it took.”

But the one thing that I really tried to do when they were little was to keep it interesting. For them and for me. Not all the time, of course. I am a big advocate of kids keeping it interesting all by themselves. Just playing and using their own imaginations.

The following are just a few things I did with the kids. Maybe it will help you shake things up a bit if it’s getting a bit stagnant at your house.

We would walk behind the house on the footpath along the creek. We meandered. And it was interesting. Sometimes hot but still interesting. We would think we spotted a snake in the water. Or see grass rustling and jump a mile.

So one day I made a scavenger hunt list of things to find on our walk. But I was a bit riddlish (Maryism) with my clues so they had to really think about it.

For example. Find a Pencil.

The beavers from the creek would come out at night and chew down the trees that were located outside the yards. Most neighbors had wire mesh surrounding them. But this one neighbor didn’t and their tree stump was right out of a cartoon. Looked just like the point of a pencil.

Then there was the Spool of Thread. You know the huge construction spools that are used for wire or cable. One had washed up on the creek side after a storm.

Couldn’t leave the home of a hundred swallows off the list. Condominiums. Home tweet home. They would build their perfect, rounded, little clay nests in the eaves of the highway bridge.

Anyway, there were other items on the list. Those are just the ones that spring to mind. But the kids loved it and it made it really fun for them. And for me.

Once, after seeing a gorgeous full moon from my kitchen window, I loaded them into the car and drove to the other side of the creek and parked by the grassy plain. And just stared at the big, yellow moon. They loved it because they were in their pajamas.

Another really exciting thing was having the firefighters come to our home. To visit the kids. I had called the fire department and set up a date. I invited all the neighborhood little ones. They all had a super time climbing into the trucks and asking questions.

Funny thing. Early the following morning I was picking up the newspaper from the front driveway. I was in my shorts and sporting a roomy t-shirt with Dallas Fire Fighters Association emblazoned on the back. A neighbor drives by and she’s laughing. She says, “Oh, so that’s what you have to do to get the firemen over here!”

I laughed right back. Nope. Total coincidence. It was an old shirt. The only thing I did for those men is make them some brownies and some pasta to take with them when they left.

My Annie and her friend, Ben.

My Annie and her friend, Ben.

Anyway, you get my point. All you have to do is use your imagination. These were all simple and free activities. There are so many fun and interesting things to do out there. Lots of resources available. Pick up the phone. Could be a trip to the bakery to see how the doughnuts get made. Or to a community garden to dig around in the dirt. And it really doesn’t have to cost a dime.

Just requires a bit o’ imagination.

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