Monthly Archives: March 2012

A Tisket, a Tasket…

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I saw a commercial recently wherein they asked a few little kids what Easter meant to them. One little boy said:  “Well, my Grandmom likes Jesus, so she gives me a chocolate cross.”

I like Jesus, too, and so did my Mom, so as a kid I also got a chocolate cross in my Easter basket every year.  It was usually white chocolate, my favorite at the time. I would hold off eating it until everything else was devoured, for what reason I’m not sure.  Maybe in a way I was saving the best for last. I was a pushover for all those once-a-year goodies like coconut nests with jelly bean eggs, coconut cream eggs with a yellow “yolk” middle, chocolate bunnies and hens, malt balls shaped into colorful eggs and jelly beans galore, including my favorite – black licorice flavored.  I’m drooling as I write this.

Easter meant getting a new little outfit to wear along with a hat of some sort, white gloves and frilly white anklet socks. (Yes, I was such a priss.) One year when I was about seven, I wore a pale green derby that matched a little green pleated skirt and jacket. I was thrilled with it and wore it all day since it looked like a very proper English horse riding outfit and horses were my passion at the time.

Easter meant sunny warm weather, the sweet smell of hyacinths and bright yellow forsythia bushes in bloom. It was sneaking that first taste of a chocolate bunny before Mass after a Lenten season of “giving it up.”  It was a yummy dinner of ham and kielbasa with homemade babka with fresh butter and potato salad. It was sitting outside on the steps of my grandparents’ row home in the Polish section of Trenton afterwards with my cousins playing games we made up.

Easter meant family all together with good food, fun with my cousins, laughter, lots of love and a white chocolate cross to remind you that Jesus likes you, too.

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TELL YOURSELF THAT IF IT HELPS

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I collect quotes, often running for paper and pen to capture words in the middle of a TV show or movie or while reading a book or magazine. I like to ponder their meaning and see if it’s a “zen” message I need to apply to my life. Recently during one particular TV show, a woman was explaining to an ex-lover she had run into the reasons why their relationship would never have worked.  “My job was too time-consuming, you travel too much, my family is difficult to get along with, your habits drove me crazy, blah, blah, blah,” on and on she went with her litany of excuses, damn right well knowing that they were still in love and always had been and always would be.  He looked her straight in the eyes and simply said, “Tell yourself that if it helps.”  Boom!  Thanks for shooting straight, buddy.

How many times have we, too, told ourselves stuff that was fluff in order to get by and go on, trying to make sense out of ridiculously challenging situations?

 

Fluff: “Well, the divorce rate is 60%. Everyone gets a divorce these days. People just don’t stay together anymore.”

Straight:  The ex was a lying, cheating coward.

 

Fluff:  “The economy is getting better – the unemployment rate is going down.”

Straight:  Really?  Is that why gas is almost $4 a gallon and finding a job these days takes a magic act by David Copperfield?

 

Fluff:  “Endings are just beginnings.”

Straight:  Let’s face it, when it’s a truly shit time, then it’s going to be a truly shit time.

 

Fluff:  “When one door closes another one opens.”

Straight:  Sometimes it gets better; sometimes it gets worst.  Sometimes you have to tie a knot at the end of your rope and just keep hanging on until the wind blows in another direction.

 

Fluff:  “Leap and the net will appear.”

Straight: Sometimes you have to let go and begin again.  

 

Fluff:  “The sun will come out tomorrow.”

Straight:  Whatever gets you through the night…keep telling yourself that if it helps.

BOLOGNA AND CHEESE, PLEASE!

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It’s 8 o’clock in the morning, and I’m craving a bologna and cheese sandwich on white bread…mmmmm… What is wrong with me?!?  Everyone knows it’s not really good for you…especially those with high cholesterol levels, who will remain nameless. Don’t even tell me what it’s actually made out of because I don’t want to know.

When I was a little girl, bologna (I’ve always been baffled as to why is it pronounced with an “e” at the end when it’s spelled with an “a.”) and cheese was my lunchtime mainstay. I’d open my little red lunch box, which resembled a miniature barn because I was crazy about horses, to find my perfectly wrapped bologna and cheese sandwich lovingly made by my Mom with a small bag of potato chips and a peanut butter Tastykake for dessert. Life doesn’t get any better than that! This went on for most of grade school, although my Mom would try to get me to eat other things.  Peanut butter and jelly got too soggy, and I was a picky kid so nothing else would do. If it wasn’t bologna and cheese, I just wouldn’t eat it. “You’re going to start looking like a bologna,” Mom would say. Then I’d spend a good amount of time trying to picture in my mind how that would change how I looked. I was a gullible kid. She also told me I had to eat the crusts of the bread because it would make my hair curly. I once had a fight with a classmate in second grade because she told me that wasn’t true. How dare her challenge what my Mom said. And why was curly hair so important anyway?  This, however, didn’t stop me from my addiction. On weekends when I wasn’t in school she would fry it up in a pan and melt the cheese, (I’m drooling right now), put it between two pieces of Wonder bread (don’t you wonder how I’m still alive) with a squeeze or two of Heinz ketchup, and I was in heaven.

Growing up, Loeffler’s bologna, made in Trenton, was the only kind my Mom would buy. There was nothing like it. The others were all “junk” in her words. (As opposed to the junk they put in the other bologna?!) Recently, however, I’ve discover Thumann’s bologna since Loeffler’s isn’t readily available where I live. It’s almost as good, sliced very thinly, and a plus is that it is skinless, whereas Loeffler’s has the thick skin you have to peel off. Didn’t know I was such a bologna connoisseur, did you?  I know this is more than you ever wanted or needed to know about bologna.

Well, its lunchtime somewhere in the world, so excuse me while I fry up some bologna with lots of American cheese in a large dollop of butter, put it on a slab of white bread and devour it as my blood thickens.  Hopefully, it won’t come to a screeching halt.  But if I do keel over, at least I’ll have a smile on my face…and a touch of ketchup on the corner of my mouth.

Like a Failure

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Some days that’s just how I feel. This is one of them. People keep saying the economy’s getting better, but to someone out of work for some months, this really doesn’t ring true.  I don’t ever remember it being this hard, and all I keep hearing is the bad stuff.  He lost his job…they lost their business…the only work she can find is for minimum wage at a job that’s physically hard on the back, not to mention the ego – or what’s left of it…he’s on unemployment again…they’re losing their house…too old…too young…not experienced enough…too experienced…not a good fit.  If this is what I’m hearing, how is the economy not in the toilet?  Is the upbeat talk about unemployment numbers really just a political ploy to brainwash us…again…

Gary Busey once said failing was:  Finding An Important Lesson In Needed Growth

I’ve always found this to be true, but presently I feel like I’ve learned all the lessons I need to know.  I’m good with lessons for now. What I need is an income…a place to go…work to do. That’s what we all need, isn’t it? And we need it now before the American dream becomes a long-forgotten fantasy. 

I’ve kept “The Value of Failure” in my paperwork for awhile and review it from time to time for a positive perspective.  Hope it helps you today if you are someone like me, struggling to make sense out of how I ended up here from there.

 THE VALUE OF FAILURE

Failure is a normal and natural part of achievement.

When the failures come, learn from them and then move quickly along.

Failure is not the worst thing that can happen.

The worst thing that can happen is to let the fear of failure prevent you from ever doing anything.

 If your top priority is to avoid all failure, then you will surely fail.

For only by accepting and living with the possibility of failure can you succeed and achieve.

Failure is not the end of the world.

It is merely another step on the pathway to fulfillment, wisdom and achievement.

 Though you would never intentionally set out to fail.

When failure does come, the best thing to do is to gracefully accept what has happened.

That will enable you to gain the most positive value from it.

Then you can move right along to the next step,

and soon you’ll be a long way past the failure,

filled with more wisdom and experience.

Let failure be, and achievement will surely come.

 — Ralph Marston

Top of the Mornin’ to Ya!

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“Top of the Mornin’ to Ya!” my dear friend Mr. Murphy would shout out in greeting. “And the rest of the day to yerself!” I’d reply in a terrible Irish brogue. He would belly laugh, which would make me happy.  Éirinn go brách!

Mr. Murphy – Bernard John Murphy – was my best friend, mentor and confidant. I addressed him always as “Mr. Murphy,” although in later years he insisted I call him John. I was a mere 19 years old starting a new job at Ingersoll-Rand when our paths first crossed. I was just a kid, and he a seasoned 50-something patent attorney happily married to Margaret “his bride” of many years and father of 11 children. We hit it off immediately, sharing a quirky sense of humor which sparked a lifelong friendship. We reveled at pulling practical jokes on each other and co-workers on almost a daily basis.  He made that job the most fun I’ve ever had in the workplace.

My own father was very serious, and we never really saw eye to eye. Mr. Murphy stepped up to become the fun paternal figure who understood my hopes and dreams and encouraged me every step of the way.  We shared the love of writing, and through the years I received countless letters and notes and newspaper clippings from him.  I saved each and every one. Every now and then when I’m missing him, which is often, I’ll go through my stash of his letters, pick one out and he is with me, talking with me, encouraging me, stroking my ego and making me feel like I can do anything in the world I set my sights to do. He always made me feel special.

Couldn’t let March 14th – Mr. M.’s “natal day” as he would call it – go by without a shout.  His birthday, although a few days short of March 17th, is synonymous with his favorite and most revered holiday St. Paddy’s day. In 2006 I flew to Indiana to surprise him for his 80th birthday and to celebrate St. Paddy’s Day with him.  We wore green, ate, drank and laughed until we cried, sharing corned beef and cabbage, Irish soda bread, Guinness and Bailey’s Irish Crème. It was a grand celebration, and that special time will be etched in my heart forever. It was to become the last time we would spend together. His kids, who share his sense of humor, listed me as his adopted twelfth child in his obituary.

So I make a toast to you today on your special day, my dear friend, and until we meet again, may the Lord hold you in the palm of His hand.

MY MOM

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Stephanie Marie

I’m feeling pretty sad today, even though the weather is warm and sunny and spring-like.  I’m missing my Mom. Today would have been her 89th birthday. But she’s gone – she passed away on September 15, 1996.  It was sudden, even though she was sick.  I just did not see it coming and was in shock and mourning for quite some time. It was the day she was supposed to move in with me, and preparations for her homecoming abruptly became funeral arrangements.

Sixteen years have raced by in the wink of an eye.  So much has happened with my family and with me. Things are so different now. I would love nothing more than to sit down with my Mom and have a glass of her famous home-brewed iced tea and a piece of her cake with sweet icing and just talk awhile. She didn’t say much or give her opinion often, but when she did, she was right.  She was a good listener.  I wish I could have her here to listen to me now because I could sure use someone to talk to.  I’d like to tell her about my daughters – her granddaughters – whom she loved so much and was so proud of.  I’d like to tell her how well they turned out and what great lives they live. She would have been so proud to see them graduate from college.  She would like their fiancées and would joke around with them.  She would have loved to be here for their weddings and to help pick out their bridal gowns.

I would like to have the opportunity to tell her she was right about quite a few things, mostly about my ex-husband. She did give her opinion on that, but I didn’t listen. I don’t think she would say “I told you so.”  She would be more like, “it’s his loss, not yours.” She would be sad to know that I lost my job but proud that her son, my brother, stepped up and helped.  She would be concerned to hear about my troubles these past few years, but she would tell me patience is a virtue and that everything would turn out alright.  She would tell me to pray to God and ask the Blessed Mother to intercede.  I thank my mother for my deep faith in God.

My Mom was kind and gentle and sweet. She lived simply and never wanted for much. She was a nurturer, sort of like how I turned out to be.  She took plates of food to elderly neighbors and always had the neighborhood kids over for lunch or dinner. Our house was always opened, especially in the summer which was like camp for my cousins.  She was a great cook and baker, and holidays were amazing.  I wish I could go over her house one more time for an Easter feast or Christmas celebration.

Time passes much too quickly, and some days you’re left with an aching heart wishing you could be with those who have passed just one more time. Today is that day for me. Happy Birthday, Mom.  Thanks for being a great mom. I miss you.