Archive for the ‘pearls’ Category

ear worms – the gift that keeps on giving

March 24, 2015

“Once there was this little old ant. tried to move a rubber tree plant. everyone knows that ant – can’t – move a rubber tree plant. But he has High Hopes”

Yup. Keep that running through your head as soon as you get up in the morning and back again when you are trying to go to sleep. Instant insanity.

If this happens to you, don’t just assume you are going insane, there is actually a name for it – Ear Worms. And apparently, even though millions have this problem, there is no cure. (Although I did read one site that said if you sing “The Girl from Ipanema” it should get rid of your ear worm. It doesn’t. It becomes a super ear worm.)

red-wiggler-worm

They say you may get ear worms if you are stressed or your mind is not working to its full potential. Could be my case. But I also read if your ear worm song reminds you of a good moment, you just have to play it in your head all the way through.

By the way – I’ve been singing High Hopes to my 6-year-old grandson for years. Just recently we learned the words to the second verse – you know, the part about the ram and the dam. We nailed it!

Could be the reason I have this ear worm.

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a life well lived

February 8, 2015

Last week I wrote about knowing the future. I used a photo of my friend’s parents. Her mom (Eve) has been battling Alzheimer Disease for many years and had her husband (Jim) as her main caregiver. Jim, a lawyer and a judge by profession and a pilot by choice, took good care of her. Now well into his 80s, Jim started feeling the effects of time and by Christmas was having problems himself. By January, Jim was in the hospital fighting pneumonia.

Although Jim had predicted he would live to 102, he was tired and ready to go home.

And he wanted to be with his wife.

Jim was taken home on Friday night, had a chance to visit with his wife on Saturday and by Sunday morning he was gone. His daughter made sure his last wishes were fulfilled.

Although I’ve known the family since grammar school, it was a relationship that was lost over the years. I re-connected with the family two years ago. It was fantastic to catch up and an honor be there during these hard times to support my friend.

Jim and Eve had triumphs and tragedies throughout their life (lost a 2-year-old son to a drunk driver) but they always rallied. Their love for each other and their Catholic faith kept them together.

I can only say it sounds like a life well lived. Rest in peace Jim. I’m sure you’ll be looking forward to re-connecting with your beautiful wife.

jim:eva

 

 

 

 

“If someone told us our future, we’d never get out of bed” (August Osage County)

January 27, 2015

I was watching a movie and this was a quote from the main character when she was going to the morgue to identify the body of her dad. I was thinking about that line and I wondered if it were true to me.

If I knew my future as early as 5 years old, this is what I would have been told up to the age of 60:

I would be one of nine children to parents who never really made a lot of money. Kind of hand to mouth. Not that I didn’t know about our dire financial situation but I never tried to let that fact bother me (too much). I would go to parochial school and be in awe of the nuns and of those who truly believed in the teachings of the church. That would stay with me for a long time.

In high school, I would do well – As and Bs – and actually like school. I would go out for cheerleading on a dare, not make the squad but realize I liked student government better. No one told me to go to college – my parents, my teachers or my counselors. In fact, I was told to take shorthand and typing so I’d always have a job.

So at 18 I move out, live at the beach and get a job but I would also enroll in junior college because…. well, I like school. My job will give me the money to buy an old Volkswagen, teach me how to type 103 WPM and live hand to mouth. I would end up attending three community colleges and never get my degree.

But I’d meet a guy. He would marry me, give me four sons and show me the world. I would also, eventually, get that girl I always wanted in the form of a granddaughter.

During these 60 years, I would have great friends, some that would come in and out of my life, but ones I could always count on. Unfortunately, some of those friends would leave my life and earth a little too early.

I would be in relatively good health, but I’d lose my dad in my 20s and watch my mom be this strong and independent woman who would die in her 80s.

Family would always be close by as siblings live on the same street and sons would marry and stay near to the home place.

So after 60 …. who knows? Do I really want to know?

I have a friend whose mom has had Alzheimer disease for some time now. Her dad (in his late 80s) has been her main caregiver but now he has taken a turn for the worse. As he sits in the hospital trying to overcome a variety of illnesses, she pulls out her iPad and lets him FaceTime his wife of more than 60 years. The wife has no idea where he is, but she’s happy to see him.

It’s a heartbreaking photo, but they both have smiles.

jim:eva

 

I like to think of our lives as quarters in a football game (must be all the boys in my life). As we enter into the fourth quarter, will we be separated from our loved ones? Will we be scared of what our next journey will bring us? Will we think we’ve made a difference and served our purpose? Do we have regrets?

I just don’t know what the future will hold and I think I really don’t want to know. Life’s a journey and our heart beats just a little bit harder as we navigate the twists and turns.

I think the photo above represents a life well lived. And really, isn’t that all we all really want?

 

Did the Catholic Church steal my brother?

July 11, 2014

I have a tradition I share with my three sisters. Every Mother’s Day we get together for a long weekend to catch up, share stories, laugh, cry, explore, and take a moment to stop in a bar. We order a Stinger Blended Up in honor of our mom who passed away in 2006. It was her favorite cocktail and not one that every bartender knows about so it’s always fun to see how they turn out.

Our last Sisters/Mother’s Day weekend in Charleston, South Carolina, we sat down to watch the movie “Philomena.”  We were stunned.

If you’ve never seen this movie, here’s a synopsis: A true story about a young Irish woman who gives birth in a Catholic home for unwed mothers. When her little boy was two years old, the nuns adopted him out – without permission or knowledge by the mother. Philomena didn’t speak about her son with anyone until years later when her daughter asked her about it. Apparently Philomena secretly celebrated her son’s birthday every year and her daughter happen to catch her at a tender moment. And so the search for the son begins.

I am from a big Irish Catholic family – five brothers and three sisters. We like to say there are  9 of us – just like the Kennedy’s without all the money. But that’s not entirely true. We do have another brother we believe is somewhere out there. Although we’ve never met him, we are deeply suspicious he was stolen from the hospital right after his birth.

Here’s our story:

My parents met and married while living outside of Chicago in the early 40s. In 1946 they had their first child – a girl – my sister Barbara Ann. Shortly after that, my parents moved west, eventually settling in the Los Angeles area. In 1950, when my mom was pregnant with her second child, her father dies suddenly at the age of 50. It devastated my mom. Two months later, she goes into labor. Full term and with no insurance, my mom is given a drug to “put her out”  (common practice for birth back then) and when she finally wakes, the hospital staff tells her the baby was dead. Stillborn.

According to the stories from my mom, it was at this point my grandmother, Cecelia Agnes McCann, walks in and demands to see the body. The hospital staff tells her it’s too late – he’s already been cremated. No body. No baptism. No burial.

birth1950

Here’s the kicker: Cremation was a mortal sin in 1950. That’s the big one. No Heaven. No Purgatory. No second chance. Just straight to Hell.

Fast forward many years. My mom and dad go on to have eight more children. Some time in the early 90s my five brothers go on a popular game show called “Family Feud.” They were on every night for five days straight – the Rogers Brothers: Bill, Russ, John, Pat and Mike. They had fun and made some money. That’s them below:

familyfeud

Several months (maybe a year, I’m not sure) my mom receives a letter from the studio that produced Family Feud. They forwarded a note from a lady, I believe from the Chicago area, who said her husband looks just like the Rogers brothers and since he was adopted, he always wondered where he came from.

I’m not sure what happened to that letter. There must have not been a phone number and there was no internet back then. My mom might have called information but even that I can’t be sure of.

Here’s the thing about my mom – She never lived in the past or worried about the future. She lived in the present. She didn’t question authority – the church, doctors, or priests. Some things, though, she must have kept deep down inside of her because every once in a while something would pop  to the surface – like her comment about believing one day she would  be walking down a street and pass a young man and know, just know, that was her son she lost on that September day in 1950.

So why am I writing about all this now? Philomena for one. Another is my brother’s birth certificate  that I recently came across while looking through a file. My older sister had sent away for it back in 1999 and gave it to my mom to follow-up. I guess she never did. But she did put it in a file.

My brothers and sisters believe there are actually 10 of us. Did the Catholic Church steal my brother? Who would have ever guessed they would take a child from a young mother and just give him away? Apparently they did. Just ask Philomena.

So our search continues. I’m not sure what we will find but I’m putting it out there.

And here’s the last kicker: My mother was one of 10 children herself. When she was in her 70s, a cousin of mine had been researching the family tree and came across someone whose father never knew his real dad but he had the same last name as my mom (they were the Partridge family believe it or not). Anyway, through many phone calls and internet searches we come to discover my grandfather was married before he married my grandmother. He had a son named Earl. He left that family and hooked up with my grandmother never to mention the first family EVER.

Turns out old Earl, raised as an only child, at 80 years of age found out he had 10 half brothers and sisters.

 

 

 

 

guilt trip

May 30, 2014
M24: GUILT

guilt – it’s really not about the donuts

A friend once told me that Jews and Catholics make the best comedians because they have the market cornered on guilt. Being raised Catholic, I have to agree. My mom was a pro and from what she told me, her mom was pretty good at it too.

 

My boys also know when the Catholic guilt trip is coming. They know they can’t win.

 

But guilt isn’t limited to one or two religious organizations. We all feel our fair share  of guilt whether it’s the inability to say no to a favor or the heavy feeling you drag around with you when you do. It’s draining. It’s hangs over you during the day and invades your sleep at night.

 

Just last night I woke up in a cold sweat, my heart pounding. I remember the dream and boy was it real. I’m sitting in a meeting. The speaker is someone I know and she’s having a hard time presenting her case. She suddenly asks the audience if anyone has Xanax to help her calm down. I do, I say ,as I dig frantically in my bag (Of course I do. Why wouldn’t I be carrying around an arsenal of pharmaceuticals in my purse?). But I can’t find it. I feel bad for her. I volunteer to run home and get her some ASAP.

 

My friend sitting next to me wants to come along and bring her 7-year-old. He wants ice cream. Can’t I stop on my way home to buy him some? Of course I can. And while were in the store, would I mind if she picked up some groceries? Why not?

 

Along the way we run into several people we know who want to talk. All I can think about is getting home to get the drugs. Finally I make it to my house and up pulls a van with some former neighbors who are so glad to see me. When I explain I’m just running in to get something out of the house for a friend, they are aghast. What? I don’t have time to talk to them?

 

At this point, I sit up straight in bed. My heart is pounding. I’m still thinking about the friend who needed me at the meeting. She must be wondering where the heck I am.

 

Now I’m wide awake and really do need that Xanax.

 

By 6 a.m. I drinking my first cup of coffee of the day.

 

Guilt. It will rob you of your sleep. It will pop into your head during the day. It is not a good feeling.

 

So how does one get rid of guilt? I’m not sure. Guilt does have a way of making you do the right thing. For example, if you RSVP yes for a party, you’d better go. Those people are counting on you for conversation and the price of a meal. If you volunteer for a job, you are expected to follow through or someone else will have to pick up your slack. And if you promise to help someone out, they need you.

 

There are some guidelines however. Learn how to say no. Realize your shortcomings with time and money. And be honest about it. It’s hard and it may hurt, but you don’t have to do everything. Heck, I’m feeling guilty just taking up my whole morning writing this because I’m sure there is something more useful I could be doing.

 

But if all else fails, become a comedian. You might just find there is a whole audience out there who feels the same way you do when it comes to guilt. Sometimes we just have to live with it.

 

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side kicks

March 30, 2014

 

My friend Britt is retiring today. He’s also turning 65. The other day he turned in his truck, his keys and his cell phone. He’s been training the “younger” guys, so he feels confident he is leaving his workplace in pretty good hands.

What a strange thing this retirement is. I’m sure there is a sense of loss identity. There is probably a great unknown of what to do now. It’s not like Britt doesn’t have a lot on his plate. He likes to surf as often as he can. He and his wife go camping – usually to places he can surf. And he also has two beautiful daughters he takes care of in a way only a father can.

But how strange is it that he and we are all at this point in our lives? Where did those years go?

Britt is actually my husband’s friend. They’ve known each other since high school. He was just one of a group of guys who I took on when I married Charlie. Britt danced with me at my wedding and just recently he danced with me at my 60th birthday party. I know that we must have shared many other dances in-between those years.

Britt has been coming in and out of my life for 40 years now.  I got to know him much better once our children were grown, but until then he was that guy who was interesting and quiet and cute. I watched his eyes light up at the birth of each of daughters. He went to dance recitals and soccer games (or some other girly activity). Since I had boys, our paths didn’t cross as often but Britt was always there for Charlie. And for that reason alone, he is my best friend too.

We’ve had some great adventures together – boating, camping, eating, drinking, hanging out with all of our dogs, concerts, lakes, beaches. Soo many good times to cherish.

But with those good times, there were some bad ones too. Ones we share right along with him. Britt was diagnosed with melanoma a couple of years ago– a killer of a cancer. All of us had our throat drop to our stomach with that information. I know there were many sleepless nights in his house. After a couple of surgeries, he was enrolled in a clinical trial for a new drug. It wasn’t easy – the drive, the after affects, the waiting. Today, hallelujah! he is cancer free but it’s a disease that just always sticks in the back of your brain.

boat

boat (Photo credit: pupski)

I guess retirement is in all of our futures. Our dad’s did it and now our friends are all doing it. Retirement isn’t what it used to be though. We don’t get a gold watch and retire to a condo in a 55 and older community. Britt will stay busy – whether it’s surfing, camping, looking after his daughters or just being a sidekick for Charlie, because there is one thing about Britt you can’t deny -that guy is ready for anything, and retirement (and turning 65) is just one of those things.

I love you Britt. Happy Birthday and Happy Retirement.

Now let’s go boating!

 

 

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on turning 60

September 22, 2013

I had a big birthday on Friday the 13th. I turned 60 which in itself is really just a number. But I’ve been reflecting on my age, my birthday and my journey so far, and it’s got me to thinking.

Here’s what I’ve learned since turning 60:IMG_0997

My mom always told me I was born on a Friday. I liked that about me. But the internet changed that when I googled my birth date. Seems I was born on a Sunday. To be honest, that makes me sad.

I can’t party like I did in my 20s, 30s, 40s or even 50s. It makes me tired (and the worse part is I look tired!)

I have some great friends, neighbors and family members who still talk to each other. I am grateful for that.

I can’t tell my boys what do anymore. They have wives, girlfriends, kids…. I can only listen and I’m trying to be good.

Wood floors are NOT good for dogs especially 7-year-old Labs who have arthritis.

No matter what I do my hair is dry, my skin is saggy, my arms and face have spots. I refuse to have plastic surgery so I am going to live with it.

People tell me I have good legs so I’m going to embrace that.

I can’t change the world – or at least all that I want to change. I’m going to live by the Serenity Prayer and try to stay sane.

I still love my husband after 37 years of marriage. He makes me laugh, dries my tears with his patient understanding words and he is always ready for an adventure (that part kind of drives me crazy but it’s better than sitting at home).

I really like the Rolling Stones – finally.

I’m no saint but I now embrace the sinner in me. Kind of like that.

I’m hoping to learn more as I go along. My grandmother and my mom both had long, hard lives but they never looked back. One day at a time seems to be the way to go. I’ll try to embrace that too.

Thank you all for the birthday wishes. I’m sure I’ve learned more than I mentioned above. I’ll just have to bring those up later.

tatted up

July 31, 2013
Back tattoo

Back tattoo (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Shortly after high school, my friend and roommate went out and got a tattoo. Back then the only people you would see with skin art were bikers and old sailors. Her’s was very discreet. Just her name (Alba) inked just below her bikini bottom.

When I asked why, she said one day, when she was an old lady in a nursing home, someone would turn her over and think to oneself, “Wow, she must have been some fun in her days!”

Fast forward forty (cough, cough) years. First there were the Cougars – ladies turning 40 who thought a cute flower near the boob or a gecko on the ankle would be cute. Then the younger girls kicked in and they kicked in big time.

Stomach, arms, lower backs, upper backs and on and on. Sure, it was kind of cute at first, but now it’s called overkill.

Recently I attended a beautiful wedding in the middle of summer and it was HOT, so there were a lot of sundresses – short sundresses with spaghetti straps, strapless, and one arm straps. And just about everyone of the girls were sporting tattoos.

Two problems with these massive tatts – one,it does take away from the beauty of their dress and two, the tatts are fading. Tattoos are expensive and painful but they must be kept up or the girls start looking like those old sailors I mentioned earlier.

I guess it really didn’t hit me until a young girl walked by me in a stunning black, backless dress and she DIDN’T have a tattoo. Her back was BEAUTIFUL!

So girls – if you think you are trend setters, you’re not. And if you like your tatts (and some of them are stunning), do yourself a favor. Spend the time and money to keep them up. You don’t have to add more (remember: more is less), but keep them bright if you want those of us who are looking to enjoy your art.

breaking the FB habit

May 17, 2013
facebook engancha

I’m watching you …

I’ve been off Facebook for over a week now and I have to admit there were withdrawal symptoms. Like any habit, I knew this one wasn’t going to be easy to break. I liked looking at posts from my friends – how their family is growing, where they’ve been, beautiful photos from gardens and trips, and even the occasional check-in. And I liked to add things to my timeline so my friends could keep up with my adventures.

I was somewhat annoyed at political and religious comments that, God forbid, you may not agree with and if you decide to actually post a different point of view, watch out. You can loose friends quickly. How about those who like to tell you about their great cup of coffee and bowel movement – every morning! Okay, I may have gotten a little to personal myself,  but these were easy enough to scroll through and ignore.

What I couldn’t ignore, however, was stalking. I don’t mean weird “I’m going to follow every movement you make” type stalking, I mean the ones from people you don’t even know who now seem to have every opportunity to keep up with your everyday life.

Oh, I know the chant … change your security settings. I did. Friends Only. But that didn’t seem to stop strangers from peeking under my skirt.

It all started innocently enough when I happened to comment on a post from one of my friends which started a chain reaction of more posts. All of the sudden, a guy, who I don’t know and don’t want to know, mentioned how my comment came from Amsterdam. Yes, I was in Amsterdam but you wouldn’t know that unless you could see my page. So this guy must have visited my page and got a birds-eye view of everything I had ever posted.

How could that happen? I never “friended” this guy. So I started an experiment and randomly clicked on people I never met. Sure enough, I could see their entire timeline, photographs of their family, political point of views and so on. It was a little creepy.

Facebook started innocently enough. You had to invite people into your life back in 2006. Today, the world can see your every move. Don’t be fooled, my friends, with security settings. Something you posted will come back and bite you in the butt. You won’t know where or when, but once you’re out there, you’re out there. And so are your kids (because we all know we can’t hold back from talking about our kids).

Yes, I admit I was a FB junkie and I miss hearing about all that you’ve been up to. I guess I could create a new page, a new identity and not really post anything private about myself. I can just look at your life. But if I don’t share my life with you, wouldn’t I just be a stalker?

As hard as it is to break any habit, I’m going to do my best and try to stay away from Facebook. It get’s easier every day and I’m actually more productive.

Until then, if I want to hear about your life or you want to know about mine, we’ll just have to pick up the phone and call each other.

Where’s your Easter Bonnet?

April 8, 2012
An Easter bonnet in a shop window in Conway.

An Easter bonnet in a shop window in Conway. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Believe it or not, going to Mass on Easter Sunday was an exciting time for me growing up in the 60s. It seemed as if the entire church was magically transformed. Gone were the dark cloths covering the altar and crucifix and up were the beautiful white lilies and joyous music.

Even the faithful were transformed. Little girls proudly displayed their new Easter dresses and hats while their moms wore white gloves and heels and their fathers looked just a bit taller in their suits. We used to fast in those days before Mass so there were no Easter egg hunts or Easter baskets until we came home from church. But that was okay as we were so excited to have these pretty clothes to show off.

More than anything I wanted one of those already made up baskets I would see in the stores. You know what I’m talking about – wrapped in colorful cellophane, the baskets had an array of little toys and candies that I was just sure I needed. I didn’t believe her but luckily for me, my mom said she couldn’t afford them.

Even with limited resources and nine kids, my mom always seem to provide some amazing baskets for us at Easter. Of course, we had those dreaded peeps that stuck to the fake grass (sorry, peep fans. just don’t like marshmallows with a side of plastic pink grass), along with some of the eggs we colored the day before and a chocolate rabbit. And because my mom believed Easter should resemble some sort of religious significance, we usually had a holy card or a saint’s medal tucked inside.

I have to appreciate my mom’s dedication to her beliefs. So much so that as I prepared my own kids’ Easter baskets I always included a little religious reminder – usually in the form of a St. Christopher medal.

Now that my boys are grown and starting families of their own, I still like to make up “family” baskets for them. It’s fun to buy girl stuff for my daughters-in-law and I try to add a little bit of religion in those baskets, but after four boys and one adorable grandson, I will soon have a granddaughter to spoil and one thing is for sure – I’m buying that new granddaughter of mine a pretty new Easter bonnet.

Can’t wait….. Happy Easter!


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