Posts Tagged ‘Malaysia’

The first time I ever saw a red fox in the wild was after my Dad died two years ago.

I was with my brothers and we spent the day together-just the three of us- visiting the Cape. My father loved the Cape and so did we. We went to all the usual old haunts. Spent hours reminiscing, laughing and talking about Dad.

We were heading to the beach on the “other side” as we called it. My oldest brother saw it walking through the marshland in a residential area.

Dad and the boys would have seen a fox before because they spent a lot of time on golf courses. I was 50 years old and had never seen one in the wild.

I texted my sister-in-law who is into animal spirit sightings and symbolism. She said something like the fox is representing us as we navigate obstacles, decisions or difficulties. I no longer have the actual text or photo since my phone got swiped.

Found this in a google search.

You may be called to take action in a way that shows your adaptability and ability to move quickly through obstacles and resistance.

Well, that was true because we had a lot of things to take care of after Dad died. It was all new to us.

Why would I be thinking about a fox today?

Couple of evenings ago I was in a local Malaysian neighborhood on my way to visit someone who had just been released from the hospital. As I was walking to the house I saw a big cage with an animal in it on someone’s patio.

The people were just doing normal things one does in a patio. Watering plants, sweeping the ground, etc.

I approached these people and asked, “What’s that in the cage?”

The man said, “It’s a fox.”

I replied, “Really??”

Didn’t look like a fox to me.

He said, “Yes, it’s a fox.”

Okay then. It’s a fox.

I asked lots of questions.

Where did you get it? Kuantan.

Is it nice?  Like can you pet it? Well, it bites.

How old was it when you got it? Five days old.

Did it have siblings? Don’t know.

And on and on. LOL


I never saw a fox that looked like this guy. LOL. So I’m not totally buying it but I will surely take the sighting symbolism just the same.

You may be called to take action in a way that shows your adaptability and ability to move quickly through obstacles and resistance.

Sometimes it is hard for folks to move quickly when faced with things that are challenging.

If there are currently obstacles and resistance in your life I honestly wish you adaptability and the ability to move through them very quickly. Fox sighting or not!


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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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This past weekend my husband and I were chatting on the patio. Talking about this and that. And the conversation veered toward that hot topic that comes up now and again.

Where will we live next? Where should we buy a house? Texas? California? East Coast?

Not owning a place in our home country causes us a bit of agita when we get thinking about it. We try to keep the heartburn at bay by thinking about the insurance, taxes, maintenance, etc. that we would pay in absentia.

But we lobbed the pros and cons back and forth across the table just the same.

Texas makes the most sense. California beckons.

He says, “I’m going to call Jim.”

This is after we reminisced about our place in Dana Point, California and our beloved neighbor Jim.

We did a bit of googling also.

Husband says there’s a house for sale on our old street. It looked like Jim’s.

Jim had been talking about downsizing in the past. He has another place in Arizona.

If we bought Jim’s place it would be in absolute pristine condition because he is a bit of a neatnik and a fanatic about everything being just so. Maybe that’s a Scottish thing.

If it wasn’t Jim’s place for sale then we’d have him as a neighbor again and that would be even better.

He ended up sending Jim an email telling him that we were reminiscing about our fabulous neighbors.

In the evening my husband said, “Jim hasn’t replied to my email.”

It just so happened that Jim had been on my mind all week.

My neighbor Nancy, here in Malaysia, had a rat in her kitchen the previous Saturday. She called me. And I ran over to her place. Not knowing what I would or could do. Laugh out loud.

When we lived in Dana Point, the city had cleared an embankment of brush to avoid the infamous California wildfires. It resulted in roof rats/Norwegian rats losing their stomping grounds.

Yup, we soon had those furry visitors in the attic. And Jim was my man. The neighbor I called. My go to guy.

And he always responded promptly.

My first thought? He was most likely visiting family or spending the weekend in Arizona.

Second thought? Jim is going to be absolutely thrilled that we are even considering buying a place in Southern California.

Good neighbors are a true blessing. And even better if they are your friends.




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I always make a racket when I am in the local grocery stores. People always know when I’m there. I prefer to think it’s because the space is so small that my voice carries a bit. And not because I’m loud. But the jury’s still out on that one.

I’ll talk to the owners, the assistants and just about anyone else. Half of them probably don’t even understand me with my rat-a-tat Northeastern American accent. But they laugh and we all enjoy the banter. I think they enjoy the banter.

There was a young shop helper who I have engaged in conversation a time or two. I ask, “Has he tried the restaurant across the way? And how is it?” Or other inane questions. He has very little English but he tries.

So now when I enter the store he is right there wanting to know if I need help. Grabbing things from my hands to bring to the register.

A couple of weeks ago I asked, “Where are the croutons?” He didn’t know what croutons were. So I found someone else. And when I located the boxes of croutons I showed them to him. Asked him to repeat after me. Crewtons. Then I had him repeat it again. And one more time. He laughed but he did it.

The cutest thing was that I continued my shopping in the next aisle but I could hear him saying the word “croutons” over and over to himself.

He’s a kid from Bangladesh. I finally asked his name because I didn’t know it. He told me and I didn’t quite get it. Like he didn’t get croutons. I said, “Could you spell it?” He did and I was just like him, saying “Sanaullah” to myself over and over again.

It made me realize that taking the time to speak to a person is really important. Not one of us wants to be a faceless, nameless nonentity. That person who people will walk right past without seeing them at all.

Most of us just want to be acknowledged. I guess it’s a human thing.





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I’ll admit it. The beautiful photos that my friends and family are posting this time of year are sort of making me homesick.

I miss the changing of the leaves.

I miss wearing sweaters. I miss wearing boots.

I once tried wearing a sweater here in Malaysia. It was an evening gathering by the pool area in our community. I’m not crazy (all of the time) so I wasn’t going to go full on heavy wool sweater. But I had donned a nice, light cotton, button down cardigan that I thought I could handle.

Ten minutes into the occasion and I was sweating bullets.

I said to my friends, “I’ll be right back!”

And I ran home to change into some sleeveless, cotton thingy. It was that bad.

I tried.

Some people can handle the humidity here. I am not one of them. I guess it’s my DNA. My ancestors hail from a temperate climate and I was born in an area that experiences seasonal changes.

I’m seeing beautiful photos of changing leaves, football games and family gatherings.

And I miss it.

My visits are usually during the summer. And sometimes Christmas.

So I miss out on those absolute perfect days and chilly evenings of Autumn. All the apple picking and Halloween/Thanksgiving activities.

I get that these same people will be complaining and posting photos of the long winters.

And I also miss that.

It is interesting to live in a climate that is predictable. But not interesting enough that I want to spend my entire life here.

So, if you are currently experiencing the changing of the seasons, appreciate every moment.

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I arrived back in Malaysia. Trying to get over this awful thing called jet lag.

And realize I have an event tomorrow evening. I knew about it. But. I didn’t think much about it. Til now.

Until I saw my hair this evening. And realized my time away in Rhode Island was a week too long. In the hair coloring world.

I have gray roots making their own statement.

I have neither the energy nor inclination. Or time. To do anything about it.

But the mind did wander into the quick fix world. I actually thought if I can use a brown or black permanent marker (AKA sharpies) to cover up scratches on my furniture why can’t I………?

Just a thought.

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Today is my father’s birthday. He would have been eighty four.

I am sharing an old blog posting that I incorporated into the following eulogy for his service at the cemetery last week.

I called my Dad when I moved to Malaysia. 

I said, “Dad, do you know what I am afraid of?” 

He got concerned and said, “What???” 

I told him, “Driving on the left side of the road.” 

He said, “Ah, no. You already know how to drive. You’re a good driver. You can do it. I give you twenty four hours.”

I said, “Really?”

He said, “I promise you. Twenty four hours. You just follow those in front of you. You just go with the flow of traffic.”

My dad was 100% right. Of course, every phone call after that began with him asking me if I was driving.

He knew that I needed to overcome the fear and also that driving would give me a freedom that I absolutely needed to navigate new and unfamiliar territory.

So, now, during this great loss of my family’s, we will try to follow those in front of us and go with the flow. My mother, brothers and other family members will need to navigate a new and unfamiliar territory without him.

I want to briefly share something I wrote about my dad. This was years ago and he’s read it. The only thing that has changed since I wrote it in 2009 is that he is no longer with us. My brothers share my sentiments. 

Dad-written March 12, 2009

I was thinking that I would write something about my dad. Too many people wait until someone is gone before they write about them. Don’t worry, my dad is not going anywhere…he is alive and well and enjoying life in New England.

My dad is and always was a simple man.  He was born to a life that was probably pretty typical for Irish immigrants. His parents came to the U.S. for work, met in New York, married and had four children (one set of twins) and then they all went back to Ireland. There would be three more children born to the family once they were back in Ireland. Dad did not complete his education and joined the U.S. Service before he hit adulthood.  He was discharged to the U.S. and never really went back to Ireland for any extended period of time.

So he lived with an uncle in the U.S.  and as luck would have it,  the woman who would become my mom, babysat for his little cousins.  I guess the rest is history.

I guess the coolest thing about my dad is that he is living a really good life.  Maybe even great.

He is a one woman man and he married that one woman. As he says, “She was a bit of alright”.  He didn’t swear. He never overindulged in anything. I have never seen my dad have one too many.  He quit smoking as a young man. He exercises, he reads the newspaper from front to back page and he loves cutting the lawn or shoveling the snow on his small patch.  He loved working and never missed a day of work that wasn’t necessary.  He had three children. As much as he loved work he also loved retirement.  He had a namesake. He has grandchildren.   He paid his bills. He attended Mass. He gave blood. He voted. He was a good citizen. He didn’t argue with my mother. He was never violent. He was never weird. He never bought anything he couldn’t afford. He loves working in the vegetable garden. He is not fussy. He will eat anything you put in front of him. He loves the Cape.  He loved his two weeks vacation every July. If you ask him what he wants for his birthday he will say, “my health.”   He is satisfied. He lived the American dream. Not the overinflated, glitzy, Hollywood dream but the real, honest to God, American dream. Which is to make a living, buy a house, raise a family and then enjoy those things later on.

I always felt safe with him.  He would always do what I considered the “lock up” at the end of the night which meant checking our bedroom windows before he went to bed. If it was too cold he would shut them or if it was warm he would make sure they were cracked open a bit.  He would then go downstairs and the last thing I would hear before he went to bed was him turning the lock on the front door.

I remember his friend had a boat and Dad would take us along for the day.  The boat would be anchored some way from shore and we would all have to swim to shore.  I remember being so frightened of the water as a  little one but he would put us on his back, our arms clasped around his neck and he would swim us to shore.

I have no issues to resolve with him. He owes no apologies.  I hope I am a little bit like him. I enjoy him. I am proud he is my father and I will always love him.

This priest at the beginning of Lent told the congregation that we need to take a good look at who we are.  Are we defined by the degrees hanging on the wall? Do we say “I live for my spouse” or ” I live for my children.”  What happens when something happens to the mind, the spouse or the child? What is your core? Who are you?

And I was thinking if God is looking down at my dad right now He would say, “His core is a bit of alright”

When I was moving to Malaysia nearly three years ago and getting ready to leave his house for the airport, Dad got emotional and said, “But it’s so far.”

Little did he know, at the time, that I would be plunking down at his house all summer for the following two years.

Each and every time, probably for the last ten years, whenever we said goodbye he got choked up and said, “We love to have you but we sure do hate to see you go.”

Dad, Papa, Uncle Pat, Patsy, Patrick, Pat…..we loved having you but sure do hate to see you go. Safe home, Dad, safe home. 

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