Tag Archives: Memories

The Cookie Maker

The Cookie Maker

Life doesn’t come with a manual. It comes with a mother.

Happy 60th Mom!You would have turned 90 today. December 15 is the fine day you arrived, aptly named Joyce to herald in the joy of the Christmas season.

I think of you every day. Little memories come to me as I glance at your photo on my jewelry chest. It’s the old snap of us on my 4th birthday. We are looking up bright-eyed with happiness at the unseen photographer. Sometimes I stop and study the images, wondering about our lives then and how we would share it now.

Your cookie baking Christmas tradition binds us tenderly together in this season of joy. You loved making delicious trays of cookies and candies for us, dear friends and co-workers. I remember tins and Tupperware stacking up as you baked. You began just after Thanksgiving since you had such a huge volume to produce.

Your artistry was masterful as you assembled the trays with delectable confections. Round balls, cut-outs, drop cookies, bars, tiny pastry shells of pecan pie. Chocolate peanut butter balls danced among the sugary orbs. The tins and platters were also part of the gift, selected with the receiver in mind. Ours were child-themed for your twin grandsons. I still have those trays, and the dinged up Courier and Ives tins that housed your treats.

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Choosing Joy on Mother’s Day

Choosing Joy on Mother’s Day

All that I am, or hope to be, I owe to my angel mother.—Abraham Lincoln

Mom, Debbie & me

Mom, Debbie & me

Grandma Joyce & Baby Boinkers

Grandma Joyce & Baby Boinkers

Mom & Dad in finery

Mom & Dad in wedding finery

Grandma's lap is best!

Grandma’s lap is best!

Happy 1st Birthday Adam & Alex!

Happy 1st Birthday Adam & Alex!

Aunt Ellie, Aunt Bev & Mom. Sisters!

Sisters! Aunt Ellie, Aunt Bev & Mom

Happy 60th Mom!

Happy 60th Mom!

My your pie is yummy Joyce (Debbie, Mom, Carmen, Bev)

My your pie is yummy Joyce (Debbie, Mom, Carmen, Bev)

Story time with Grandma

Story time with Grandma. (Adam l, Alex r)

It’s the 20th Mother’s Day without my mom Joyce. TWENTY YEARS. That’s a lifetime. Enough days woven together to raise kids, change careers, move and relish life while tromping through the daily grind. All spent without advice and support from the woman who loved me unconditionally.

I think Mom would say I’ve done a good job of raising my family. She told my sister I was a “good little mother” in the early years of parenting our twin sons. Thank you Debbie for sharing that with me. I’ve held onto that gift more than you can ever know, replaying it over and over when the bumps were especially rough.

Do I think of Mom every day? No. Oh sure I see our birthday photo that lives atop my jewelry chest each day as I make the bed. I say a silent hello. But I don’t always pause to truly think about her. The many ways she lived a rich, spiritual life. How she dealt with a devastating diagnosis that almost took my sister’s life. Of a husband who successfully fought mental demons while she raised her first-born, worked full time and ran the household. Sitting bed-side by her sisters as they were dying. Watching her son struggle with such depression it almost ended badly but through the grace of God, come back to the light.

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The Soundtrack of My Life

The Soundtrack of My Life

Music washes away from the soul the dust of everyday life.—Berthold Auerbach, poet and author

I can chart tMusic of My Life2.JPGhe course of my life through song from the earliest days when my parents’ hi-fi played Oklahoma, The King and I, My Fair Lady and the Sound of Music. Through teen years, college, marriage, raising kids, business started and shuttered, parents departing too soon, music has been my balm and touchstone to the times mere memory obscures.

My first album was Carol King’s Tapestry. Each song seemed to express the longing of my 13-year-old heart for love and adventure. When I was an insecure girl searching for lasting friendships, You’ve Got a Friend promised a BFF wasn’t far off. Natural Woman gave me hope of future beauty and love. Tapestry spoke of a life fulfilled and no fear of the great beyond. Heady stuff for a tender age. My much loved LP, cover scratched with age now, traveled to college, New Hampshire and Syracuse. Yet the words remain timeless as I listen today on my iPad or phone.

Peace Train Concert 2014

I knew Mark was my musical soul mate through our mutual love for Harry Chapin and Cat Stevens— troubadours singing about everyday moments, family and the search for meaning in life. As newlyweds masquerading as journalists, we sat 10 feet from Cat Stevens turned Yusuf Islam in a press conference on his trip to Syracuse. In 2014 we had the transcendent experience of Cat/Yusuf’s first US concert tour in 20 years, part of the Boston peaceful boomer crowd singing along to the familiar lyrics.

Our wedding first dance was to Cat Stevens’ Foreigner Suite. Pre-wedding, Mark would sing the words to me as we practiced in our living room, “The moment you walked inside my door I knew that I need not look no more…” Father & Son is the primer for advice given to sons eager to explore the world. Adam and Alex have heard the lessons distilled from Cat’s wisdom many times over.

Amazing Grace comforted me through pregnancy, raising babies and our parents’ funerals. The simple melody and words are so consoling although I do not think myself a wretch. I sang this softly so often while carrying the boys and then as a lullaby rocking sleepy babies. Later walking behind caskets, tears choking my throat. Read the rest of this entry

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Getting Married

Getting Married

I promise to love, honor and cherish you all the days of our lives.

Wedding ringsMy son is getting married! On his wedding day, there will be vows exchanged, rings slipped happily on fingers, the traditional mother and son dance, cake cut and flowers gracing tables. Tears dabbed with tissues passed among the well-wishers. My joy will blow the top off my happy meter. My husband Mark and I will pose for photos with the newlyweds and family members who have come together to celebrate Adam’s joy and the beginning of his lifetime entwined with his beloved.

If you’re picturing the scene, you might be seeing my son resplendent in his tuxedo and the bride on his arm in her snowy white finery. But if you know our family, you know the true picture. On my Adam’s arm, is his Adam, aka Marv, also resplendent in his tuxedo. That’s right, my son is about to become half of “The Adams Family,” as my cousin Janice lovingly joked.

For those of you who have religious views about marriage ordained by God, I challenge you to open your minds and hearts. Love is colorblind and gender neutral. Until the day I die and get the chance to talk to God in spirit, I believe a benevolent God wants all of her children to find happiness and love in a partner. Woman and Man, Woman and Woman, Man and Man—doesn’t matter.

What does matter is the cherishing love between spouses. Nurturing each other through the joys married life brings and the sorrow that inevitable comes from life events. Sickness and health. You hope the scale tilts more toward health, but there are no guarantees. Speaking from experience, I am married to a person who honors our wedding vows 100 percent. Mark honors me as his partner, his equal and holds me up with his love and respect, as I do for him.

I want this life for my sons.

The Adams Family

Gay marriage is polarizing Americans. Christians especially. Yet the tides are shifting; Americans are exercising their rights to have equality as 37 states legalized gay marriage. The Supreme Court hearings began Tuesday and the Justices will decide in June how the remaining 13 states must adhere to the Constitution which guarantees equal rights for all people of the United States.

I cannot fathom why 39 percent of Americans (polled by ABC last week according to an NPR news story from Cokie Roberts) think allowing my son and his fiancé who want the right to commit legally to each other undermines the sanctity of marriage. Justice Sonia Sotomayor says, “We are not taking anyone’s liberty away by allowing gay couples to marry.” I fervently hope her wisdom and deep constitutional knowledge prevail for Justice Anthony Kennedy who will likely cast the deciding vote in June.

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Tiara Time

Tiara Time

“They say it’s your birthday. We’re gonna have a good time.”—The Beatles

T&V 50th loveIt’s time for the annual wearing of the tiara. As in, it’s my 57th birthday today and I have several tiaras to choose from. My son Adam bought me an antique one with seed pearls at a dandy little shop in Provincetown several years ago, though it was well past my birthday. I have a 40th birthday version and the one from my dental company job photo shoot where I posed as the tooth fairy (and oh, the dress and wings that came with THAT tiara!) The best one however, is my 50th birthday Audrey Hepburn replica from the movie Roman Holiday. It’s covered in Swarovski crystals and sparkles with intense beams when the light hits it.

I am shameless when it comes to my birthday—telling random strangers wherever I happen to be that it’s my birthday. Because I LOVE THIS DAY! It’s a celebration of living joyfully, appreciation for my parents who made me and fun for my family who have come to accept my narcissism for my special day as a loving quirk.

My family thinks my habit of counting down the days to my birthday is endearing. I write the number of shopping days on my husband’s Ansel Adams work calendar. About 20 days before, I start singing, “It’s almost my birthday!” to the Beatles Birthday tune. Mark loves to tease me when I say, “My birthday is in X days.” He replies sardonically, “It’s your birthday soon?” It’s our fun little game. I would be disappointed if he didn’t play along.

Mark loves to surprise me so my birthday is a natural time to indulge in this. In my 20’s, he arranged a work posse party at Chuck E. Cheese’s so we could play games and swim in the ball pool. On my 40th Mark, my siblings, nieces, nephews and our kids staged a remake of the Wizard of Oz starring me as Dorothy seeking out the wizard to reverse my trip “over the hill.” And of course, the 50th blowout was the best and biggest yet. In between the BIG ONES, there were treasure hunts, dinners lovingly made at home and fancy ones at swanky restaurants, and a trip to the Smithsonian to see the real ruby slippers. Homemade gifts from our sweet sons who reveled in the joy we created. One year, my darling even made me a banana cream pie because my mom always made me that dessert and she had passed on. I love M for trying as baking is not his forte. We still laugh over the pencil eraser texture of the filling which was an odd gray color from the skim milk.

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To Cuss or Not to Cuss…never my effin’ question!

To Cuss or Not to Cuss…never my effin’ question!

“My father worked in profanity the way other artists might work in oils or clay. It was his true medium, a master.”—Ralphie from A Christmas Story

 When my kids first heard this line from our favorite holiday movie, they said in unison, “Mom, look they’re talking about you.” You see, I love to cuss. Have from the time I was a pre-teen and dropped my first F-bomb in public.

I remember that evening with fond affection. It was a very frigid winter but coming from hardy stock, the cold and snow never stopped us Northern NY kids. So there I was with my white figure skates, sporting fluffy homemade blue and white yarn pom poms, twirling around the ice rink at St. Joseph’s Catholic School. I decided to show off my newly acquired skill of inserting the F-word masterfully into the conversation. Oh I felt so grown-up and chic as I whirled around the ice, skating in tandem with my girlfriends, firing off this “queen-mother of dirty words” as Ralphie said.

The F-bomb has seen me through a lot of situations in my life. Job losses, broken treasures, stupid drivers and stubbed toes. In fact, my tapestry of obscenities is legend in my family if I somehow injure myself. It begins with “Dirty rotten mother-effer…” and goes downward from there. All bets are off too when my temper gets the best of me. Though I have learned not to flip drivers off anymore as you never what they are packing and can take exception to this gesture. Yet I can flip that bird in a host of ways if I don’t think there’s danger lurking.

Our poor baby sitter Mary took a heated tongue lashing from me one Christmas when I went to her home to pick up my toddlers. She was an extraordinary sitter! Patient, organized, played fun games and made nutritious meals. She was a gem! Well, the evening before on the way home, sweet Adam, approximately 2 1/2 years old and very verbal, was enjoying the view of the streets from his car seat in our van. Suddenly he shouts, “Oh my Jesus Mommy, look at those Christmas lights!” I nearly drove off the road because a) I thought it was hysterical and b) my baby just uttered his first curse words. Surely he must have heard them from the sitter because I really did try very hard not to swear in front of the boys then.

Mary vehemently denied it and I decided to let sleeping dogs lie. Then, when I was doing something at home one day shortly thereafter, I heard myself say, “Oh my Jesus…” I never did apologize to Mary, but if you’re reading this, I was a boob and you were a goddess.

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My Darling Valentine

My Darling Valentine

I love you and that’s the beginning and end of everything.― F. Scott Fitzgerald

My Universe BoxMy husband presented me with a quarter this week. For my Universe Box, a tiny vessel that houses all the coins and paper money the Universe lays in my path. Years ago I started collecting pennies, nickels and dimes I found on the ground. Quarters are a big score. I recycle the money by putting it in the Salvation Army Red Kettles at Christmastime. My darling shares the fun of the game too.

Many moons ago this glass treasure chest was a Valentine’s surprise from my sweetheart  filled with tiny, deep pink dried rosebuds. Each time I add the find du jour, I catch a whiff of roses that warms my heart.

See, it’s the little and big things that make up our happy marriage. Equal parts fun and joy with a smattering of heartache you cannot bypass in life. I count my blessings because I am cherished by a remarkable man who truly means it when he says my happiness is what matters most to him. Who indulges me in all way my quirky ways, loves me with all my imperfections and overlooks the things that could legitimately drive him crazy… Read the rest of this entry

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For Margot, the Queen of All Cats

For Margot, the Queen of All Cats

Margot is the quiet sentry of our lives.

Bonjour Margot Poisson,

I wrote much of this back in January when our lives were intact. You were still here, as was Fenway. We were settled in Beautiful Girlour little rental house and adjusting to the quasi-southern lifestyle. We three creatures had a rhythm all our own, bobbing and weaving about each other’s days. Now it’s just me from the original trio, and our new boy Miles. You tolerated Miles with much grace, putting the little nipper firmly in his place when he ignored your warning hiss. He learned quickly to bow to your authority—and claws.

You rebounded well with the move to our new house. On our car ride over to Beaverbank Circle, you looked with curiosity out of your crate, uncharacteristically quiet. I think you sensed this was to be your final home and were excited in your own cool cat way. You claimed the downstairs bedroom as your own, safely gated away from the new puppy. Gazing from your perch on the corner of the bed, and often the floor just beyond his reach from the other side of the gate, you teased him mercilessly as he whined to get in and play. You simply squinted with delight at your cleverness as you sat comfortably with your legs tucked under while Miles pawed the opening. Read the rest of this entry

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Happy Birthday Adam & Alex-#27!

Happy Birthday Adam & Alex-#27!

Happy Birthday Sweet Sons!

Adam (l) & Alex (r)

Adam (l) & Alex (r)

Today you are 27—hardly seems possible that this much time has passed for you wombmates! I remember the night after you were born looking out from my hospital room, snuggling you up close as I looked over the city lights, baby in each arm. Who would you become? What things would you love in life? What are your special gifts? Would you be close as brothers?

The room was quiet and you were both snoozing, perfect contentment, baby A and baby B—Adam and Alex. I didn’t know then that you would become these incredible men who bring love, joy and light to those in your circle. Although it was my hope and wish you would.

Adam, you came into the world first. That’s your path in Read the rest of this entry

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For Fenway, A Love Letter

For Fenway, A Love Letter

Dear Fenway,

It is the sixth day since you crossed the rainbow bridge. It never occurred to me you would go on this adventure so soon. I imagined us growing into senior years together. Your slick, incredibly shiny black coat would slowly show the gray hairs of time’s passage. I inspected you often scouting for the changes. Only three hairs on the spot above your left brow. There was one, and then this past year two more arrived. You were barely five. I would have continued bragging rights to your youthfulness. Most people assumed you were a puppy because of your prance and curiosity.

Our peaceful spot.

Our peaceful spot.

You and me buddy. Bonded in a way as no other dog has ever touched my heart. Girl was special, as was Rosie. And long ago my Smudge. Yet you, and only you knew my soul. No matter what I was going through in life, you always stood by me. Your brown eyes filling me so deeply with your love. You heard my less than charitable rants over what I thought were important at the time. You patiently listened, head cocked just so, deciphering the words you knew from our time together. Your body wags to let me know, Read the rest of this entry

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