Posts Tagged ‘texas’

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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I could go on and on about my mother. I mean, shoot, she literally made me. Doesn’t get much bigger than that!

She also helped form me.

But I wont go on and on today.

I will just share some memories I have of my mother when I had children of my own.

Seems appropriate for Mother’s Day.

When I had my first child my husband drove us home from the hospital. I always knew he was a keeper but it was solidified after the birth of that first kid. He was normally a fast driver. That day he navigated the pot holes of Providence at a snail’s pace. Was like driving with a ninety year old man. Precious cargo.

We pulled up to our home and my mother was already there. She came out the back door to greet us. And I ran into her arms and cried. I don’t know why.

I never thought I would be a victim of hormones. I was happier than I could ever be. I had a healthy, beautiful daughter and a loving husband.

But I was a victim of hormones.

My mother comforted me.

That day she cared for the baby, my husband and me. Cooked us meals. Cleaned.

And then in the evening she was preparing to go home (only a mile away) and I hugged her and cried.

She was like, “Awwww, honey, you cry when you see me and cry when I’m leaving. I don’t want to go.”

Six years later I had another beautiful child. My mom flew to Texas and was there the next day.

I was out of the hospital in no time because this child was not a C-Section like her sister.

But I was feeling worse each day.

My mom, a nurse, said that I should feel better physically each day and I wasn’t. In pain and sweating. She’s the only person in the world I would let look at me. She told me to call the doctor.

Anyway, problem eventually resolved.

But the one thing I remember, might not be a big deal to anyone else, is that when I got into bed that evening I had the cleanest, freshest sheets.

I could never forget it.

I just love her so much.

Happy Mother’s Day, Mom!

Thank you for everything. For your care, compassion and thoughtfulness. Thank you for being there. Always.

 

 

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Last night, some neighbors and I were discussing the world. About how big it is. And being a continent or day away from family.

It’s true.

But I got to thinking a bit more about the topic this morning. And I’m totally doing an about-face. After discovering a shared connection among some friends.

The world is small. Very small. It may be vast but it is a very small world.

One past example. Some months ago I was visiting with a neighbor (here in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia) on my front patio. She would soon be moving back to the States. Houston was home although I don’t think her family was originally from Texas. I had mentioned the name of the town where I had lived for twelve years. Usually I just say “Dallas” because everyone gets that. But for some reason on that day I mentioned the actual town in Dallas County.

The neighbor says, “My sister lives there.”

Well, you know me. Of course, I asked more questions!!! What’s her name? Does she have children?

She told me the last name. And it sounded familiar. I asked if her niece ever played soccer. She said, “No, I don’t think so.”

Sounded like maybe she was more into the arts. But the first name was nagging at me. It wasn’t very common.

That evening I checked Annie’s first year soccer team photo. When she was four years old. I sent a copy of it to my neighbor asking “Is your niece in this photo?”

She immediately responded,” Oh my goodness! YES! That’s her.”

So weird, right?

Annie and her niece played on the same soccer team. More than ten years ago. And just maybe this neighbor and I crossed paths in that suburb.

Here’s my very recent example of the small world thingy.

This morning I hop on Facebook to read who is doing their usual kvetching and whining.

On my main page (Facebook is always wanting me to update my personal information) it says, “Mary, where did you go to school?” And it shows schools that groups of my friends have attended.

Appeared that three of my friends attended St. Agnes Academy in Houston, Texas. Two were no surprise to me. I knew they were in high school together and that they both ended up moving north to the Dallas County suburb where we happily resided.

But the third one is a woman who I met through mutual friends here in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. She used to live here but now lives in Dubai. A friend had shared this woman’s blog with me. And also shared my blog with this woman. So we were introduced on-line. I finally met her when she visited before the holidays. And we are back and forth on-line about various things.

Today, Facebook tells me that she went to school with two of my friends. A woman who was in my monthly book club and also a woman who was my dear neighbor. 

Isn’t that the craziest thing? Me from Rhode Island. Moved to Texas. Make friends with a couple of Houstonians living in North Texas. I move to California after twelve years. Then few years later move to Malaysia. Get introduced to a Texan that used to live in Malaysia and now Dubai. Who loves Rhode Island. Her daughters attended/attend college there. She even spent Xmas in Rhode Island while I was sweating in Asia!

And I find out that the three of them were in high school together more than thirty years ago.

Ummm, can we all repeat after me? Small world. One big circle.

Isn’t it just fabulous????

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Today was the first day of school for Annie here in Kuala Lumpur. Tempus fugit!

It prompted a memory of another first day of school in Coppell, Texas. That time it was Annie’s older sister, Rory. Who is now in her last year of college.

When Rory was about to enter third grade she was so excited. We had moved within the same town to a different neighborhood. This meant that she would be attending a new elementary school. And she would be taking the bus with the other neighborhood children. A first for her.

So, on this first day of school I walked her up to the bus stop. She couldn’t wait to hop on board. Eagerly lined up at the front when it pulled up to the stop.

But, even in her excited eagerness, she noticed a little neighbor girl who was starting school for the first time ever. Kindergarten. The child was crying, scared, wouldn’t move and made no attempt to gravitate towards the line or the bus. And her mom wasn’t making any progress.

Totally unsolicited, Rory left her place in the line. The others started boarding but she went over to little Davis. She took her by the hand, gently spoke with her, and coaxed the little girl onto the bus with her. Off they went.

One of the moms came up to me after the bus departed and asked, “Was that your little girl who helped Davis?”

I said, “Yes.”

She said, “That was so amazing to watch. I’ve never seen anything like it.”

And those are the things that should make a parent proud. Like I was on that first day of school.

I wish you all a wonderful school year!

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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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