Posts Tagged ‘dallas’

Facebook has a “memory” feature. It notifies you with this message, “You have memories with “so and so ” to look back on today.” There is an “On This Day” tab on your Facebook home page.

Not sure how they choose the random postings or the years.

But yesterday’s memory included one from six years ago. An exchange between co-workers.

Work friends are interesting. You’re thrown together in what sometimes feels like a totally random roll of the dice. Quite a bowl of soup. End up spending so much time with them that many end up occupying a special place in your heart. I do a pretty good job (pat on back) of keeping up with some of my old co-workers but I have to give a shout out to Facebook for making that a bit easier to do.

I consider many of these folks to be cherished and dear friends. Those shared hours and many experiences built lifelong connections.

Here is yesterday’s memory.

Bob C. to Mary

December 14th, 2011

“Mary, I was looking at some of the pictures you have posted and I have one question. Are you ever going to look older than you did when we worked together?”

Chris B. “liked” this comment.

Mary to Bob C.

December 14th, 2011

“Dang, Bob, can you say BEST BOSS EVA??? It was a near tie between you and Brian R. but you just forged ahead and won! You are very sweet but keep in mind photos can be very deceiving!”

Brian R. to Mary

December 14th, 2011

“Well, Mary, apparently C. (he called Bob by his surname) has learned to be a suck up as he got older, while I’ve become more of a curmudgeon!  

Why would I share this with you? Definitely not for any additional banter. I certainly look older than I did when I worked with Bob, Brian and Chris.

But because things change in six years. Shoot, things change in six minutes.

Bob passed away of a heart attack on May 29, 2016. Chris would die from cancer six months later on November 17th, 2016.

Brian is still, thankfully, alive and kicking. And not the curmudgeon he makes himself out to be.

A boss of mine in Dallas just died this past week. And I’ve lost other work friends over the years.

A Facebook notification like this causes one to pause for a moment. To take a trip down memory lane. It also makes a person consider what they write, text and post. What it reflects. And the lasting legacy of those words. It reminds us of just how fleeting life can be.

On this day I wish you all a season of fond memories. Of those who are no longer here and of those who continue to be a special part of our lives. I wish you wonderful words.

 

 

 

 

 

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I try not to be too superstitious. Been working on this for years.

Most are harmless enough, right? Maybe even a bit fun.

Not stepping on a crack in the sidewalk wouldn’t have actually prevented “Mother’s broken back.” But it might have made the boring walk down the street to Cabral’s corner market for a loaf of bread and a pack of Mom’s L&Ms a little less monotonous for a kid.

I remember when a bunch of us kids were passengers in Mrs. Gillett’s car. She was our neighbor but also our friends’ grandmother. That’s the real reason we were in the car. Anyway, when Mrs. Gillett came to the railroad tracks in the road she lifted her feet. Not for long. Maybe just a few seconds. Nope, she wasn’t doing it to strengthen her lower abs. She did it for good luck.

I still do it.

But I falter from time to time. Step on cracks all the time and my Mama is perfectly fine.

Recently, I was in a Delhi shop. Narrow as all get out. One of the employees had a ladder out in the middle of the floor. No way for me to go around it. So I waited. Waited some more. There was no way I was walking under that thing. No way.

Also have this other thing. I should always leave from the same door I entered. Not sure where that one came from but I am always aware of it.

But this is absolutely one superstition that should be left by the door.

Here is why.

In 2003 I was living in Dallas, Texas. On a February evening, many, many miles away in my home state of Rhode Island there was a terrible fire in a night club. It claimed the lives of one hundred men and women. And injured hundreds of others. Like horribly injured.

Young people were just having an evening out, listening to music and enjoying a respite from one of New England’s long winter nights. Like I did many a time. As you probably did.

Pyrotechnics (fireworks) which were meant to add a bit to the show ignited the foam that was used for sound insulation in the walls and ceiling. Within FIVE minutes the Station club in West Warwick was engulfed.

People could not see the exits due to the heavy smoke. There was also a massive crush as people tried to get out the main exit. The place where they entered at the beginning of the evening.

So there were different causes of death that night.

The following is a video, taken ten years ago, of my cousin John who was a firefighter in Warwick. It also features his bandmate (yes, singing firefighters) who was actually present at the Station when the fire began. The video is dated 2007 and John has recently retired as a Lieutenant. But the message in this clip is still as important today as it was then.

You do not need to leave from the same door you entered.

John is still in the band and after the tragic Station fire the group would post a floor plan of each venue on their website. He states how important it is to make note of an exit.

I also learned something yesterday that struck a similar chord.

A family that I knew in Kuala Lumpur was recently on a holiday in Yangon, Myanmar. Yes, the perks of living in Asia.

Seems that on October 19th they were asleep in their lovely, colonial era hotel only to be wakened around 3:00am by banging noises. Sounded like people yelling and pounding on doors. But the family couldn’t understand what they were saying. Maybe drunken revelry? Terrorism?

They tried the front desk. No one answering. Finally someone picked up and told them to evacuate immediately due to a fire in the hotel.

The two teen daughters left first and then the parents a few minutes later. The mom was sort of freaked about the separation but they were soon reunited and safe.

Police were shoving people aside and trying to evacuate but there was no clear communication, very disorganized and pitch black.

I want to just note here that this luxurious, teak and iconic hotel was considered a 5 Star property.  So it doesn’t really matter where you stay. The rules for your personal safety should always be the same. Regardless of the price tag. Or tag line.

Her advice?

“Don’t take for granted emergency exit information.”

She stressed the importance of staying together. Checking to see if there is a fire alarm and sprinkler in hotel room. Having a plan to meet up if separated. The importance of being close to your family and knowing where they are at all times.

This is the time of year when a plethora of seasonal activities will beckon. Many will welcome the opportunity for indoor, festive gatherings surrounded by loads of people. Seeing the Nutcracker, Christmas musicals, plays, concerts, sporting events and attending worship services.

Some will travel and spend time in hotels. Or pass through airports.

All happy as larks to be in places with closed doors keeping out the cold or staving off the heat.

Have fun but take note of exit signs immediately upon entering. Communicate a place to meet with family members if case you ever get separated. Don’t take for granted emergency exit information. Do your homework. And remember you do not need to leave from the same door you entered. Ever.

Wishing you and all of your families a safe holiday season. Hoping you employ these safety measures all year long. Some superstitions should absolutely be left at the door.

Update: My cousin, John, told me that he was actually supposed to be at the Station the evening of the fire. He did not attend because he didn’t want to be the “third wheel.” But a few folks thought he was there. Including his fire chief.

 

 

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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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