Saturday, June 30, 2012


Summer is here in all its blazing glory -- Hotlanta reported the highest temperature today to be 106  degrees but it's only 103 at almost 5 p.m.!  Hot enough to close the main part of the library which is quite incredible. 

I like summer -- most of the time -- and love the idea of getting away for a few days.  My mom used to shake her head and say, "My girls always think they should have summer vacation."  It did take some of us more time to adust to the real world of working throughout the year but even in middle age (old for some of us), we still look forward to taking a summer vacation.

This year, three sisters and I will get together at Judy's house in Woodstock, VT, and I can't wait.  Spending five days in a quaint New England village that was once labeld "the prettiest small town in America" sounds like heaven.  I haven't been there since my son was six months old and he's now 38, so it will be a whole new experience for me.  I'm looking forward to seeing the gorge and covered bridge near Judy's home and the breathtaking landscape that Ethan Allen and his Green Mountain Boys once explored.  And I know Judy will have some fun day trips planned and we'll undoubtedly do a bit of shopping.

What I am looking forward to more than anything though is relaxing at home with Judy, Patty and Suzie and catching up on our lives.  Judy has apologized that they don't have cell phone service or good internet access in her house and I am delighted.  Suzie is a busy real estate agent and is on call 24/7 and Patty, who owns and runs a restaurant with her family, is constantly barraged with problems and questions.  If really necessary, they can go down the hill to make a call but I'm hoping they cut that off at night.   

The last time we got together was in January when we gathered at Patty's house in Yardley, PA, near the Delaware River.  We went to see Jersey Boys in New York City and enjoyed several meals at the Continental Tavern where George Washington and his men are alleged to have wet their whistles.  We ate so much of the fantastic tapinade that our eyes were practically closed one morning from all the salt.  But it was worth it!  The very best part of our visit though was staying up late and just talking.  We laughed over family stories that we share almost every time we're together, we cried a little over losing our dad last September, and we caught up on each other's lives. 

I feel so blessed that I am one of Grace's girls, as an aunt used to refer to Mom's daughters.  With eight of their own (7 girls, one boy), ranging in age from 13 down to to two months old, they didn't need a lanky, shell-shocked, awkward 14 year-old in their home.  But they have always considered me a sister and a daughter.  One of my fondest memories is when Patty got into a fist fight with an obnoxious girl at the beach when she said I wasn't really their sister.  My last name was different (in deference to my real deceased parents) which was kind of a give-away but Patty, at 10 years old, had never thought of that.

I used to focus on how different I was from the other kids in the family.  I wasn't athletic and any of them could practically compete in the Olympics swimming events; I burned to a crisp as they turned golden brown; I wasn't as quick scholastically as they were and I defintely lacked their charm and charisma, not to mention their looks.  Now at 65, I laugh and say "Who cares?"  And they don't care either, which is wonderful.  We are bound by love, by memories and by commitment.  We are sisters, forever and ever. 

I don't know how to break it to them but my daughter has told me that I can pick some songs to be played at her wedding in October but she will not allow "We Are Family" by Sly and the Family Stone to be played.  What?!  That is my family's theme song!  I guess we'll get over it or I'll manage to sneak it onto the play list.  Keri will be too happy to even notice.

Have a wonderful summer and if you can get together with family and friends, enjoy every minute of it, no matter where it is.  Summer rocks!!!

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Gift of Grace

Yesterday was a milestone! It was the 14th anniversary of my mom's death and my 65th birthday. Now, even the federal government considers me old, although not old enough to pay out Social Security. Everyone assumes that the day must be sad for me since, of course, it brings up sad memories. Actually, in a sense, it's joyful for me because of a specific memory I'll always have.

Stan and I had gone out to dinner and to see Titanic on my 51st birthday. When we arrived home, my daughter Keri told me I had messages from several of my sisters wishing me a happy birthday but that they all sounded sad. Both she and Eric sensed something had happened to Grandmom who had been sick for a few months. Of course, their feelings were confirmed and I was clearly upset. Keri went to get me a glass of water and yelled for me to come into the kitchen. All I could think was, "What now"?

I had received a little plant, I think a type of violet, as a Christmas gift and it was sitting on the windowsill, looking pathetically neglected. I kept telling myself to dispose of it but hadn't gotten around to it.

When I walked into the kitchen to see what had grabbed Keri's attention so strongly, she pointed to the plant. First of all, Keri is not usually all that observant of home furnishing or plants so this had really struck her as incredible. The plant was totally transformed, with shiny green leaves and beautiful little purple flowers. No one had watered it or substituted a new healthy one in place of the poor little bedraggled specimen.

As I walked over to examine it, I clearly heard my mother's voice, "Happy Birthday, dear." She was still with us and always will be. Her name is Grace and she truly is a gift to all her family.

So, every year on my birthday, I smile because I know it will be a good day -- I'll receive a gift of Grace in one form or another. This year's miracle was that I received cards from my sisters on time, possibly the first time ever. I'm often guilty of that too; we have a family of procrastinators.

I wish you a happy Easter and hope you will receive much love and grace.