Thursday, March 27, 2014

Love and Loss

Today is my mother, Jean DeChesere’s birthday. If she were alive, she would be 100. She died early in 2010 just short of turning 96. My brother called her an Earth angel and he is correct. It is not an exaggeration. Everyone who loved her called her Honey, the name stolen from that Southern endearment she used so often herself when addressing others. My brother and I were lucky to have her for so many years to love us, to nurture us, and to teach us. And teach she did. Both my brother and I have a love for the environment, for our families, for animals, for learning, for thinking, and for growing both spiritually and intellectually. I believe we owe our mutual propensity for hard work, drive, and determination to our mom. She taught us to respect and honor tolerance. Since her death, not one day has passed by that I have not thought about her. She crawls around in my mind, sits on my shoulder, and caresses my heart, so although she has passed away, I am never without her.

The past year has been a difficult one for me. I lost my oldest son who was 39 and my dad who was four days short of 103. Not one day goes by that I do not think about them as well. Grief hangs on like a loose cape, flittering away at times, but always there, connected by strings to the heart. My purpose here is not to write about sadness, however, but to write about love. I love my family, past and present. At times it has not always been easy, but it has been an underlying, undeniable truth, plain and simple. Disagreements and hurts have jabbed us a few times, but we are resilient. No matter what, we have been able to get back to what is important: love. It’s the bottom line.

So, yes, I love my family. The photo below is one that my brother and I found when we were preparing a Power Point for our dad’s Celebration of Life. It is of our parents taken in 1952. I enjoy looking at it because it captures a moment in time when they were embarking on an evening looking elegant, dapper, and happy. I also like to think they were very much in love.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

What’s Inside Us?

No doubt about it! Years of experiences, relationships, and interactions contribute to form a person’s perspective on life. Every day we see people who are upbeat and happy while others are negative, down in the dumps, or just plain mean.

When I walk my dogs every day, I see numerous people over and over again. Though I don’t know all of their names, each has become familiar, and each bears a different demeanor. Gloria, for example, is a woman whose garden is the envy of the neighborhood. She’s never without a smile and a happy greeting. “Hi there! Haven’t seen you for a while! Beautiful day, isn’t it?” Megan, the dog walker, knows everyone, is friendly, and always has a word or two. “Have a great walk!” she often says. On some days I see an old, wrinkled fellow sauntering slowly down the sidewalk alone. Although he does not speak much English, he always waves at us and mumbles a greeting that though hard to understand, is genuine. Joyce is always outside. “Oh, hi!” she calls with a toothless grin. The mail carriers are usually smiling and congenial, sometimes giving doggie treats to the dogs. That makes everyone happy. Myriad couples stride along the path with or without a pup beside them; invariably they wave and greet us, “Good morning. Great day, isn’t it?”

On the other hand, the solemn, skinny, curly-haired, blond has never once smiled or said hello. I have to wonder why. Is she sad? The grouchy woman with her dog always off-leash has never looked our way unless it is to call off her mongrel mutt when he’s charging us! “Baxter, get over here!” she snarls. A grumpy guy who lives on a cul-de-sac by the creek has three equally hostile hounds. The man can’t control them or his anger. I’ve never heard a positive word directed to his dogs or anyone else. And why is that? Is he ill or in pain?

I imagine most of us enjoy being around positive people; the negative ones can zap anyone’s energy. Should we be tolerant, however? It’s easy to say that some folks need an attitude adjustment but it may not be that easy. What one carries inside may have been festering for a long while and that can make all the difference.

Monday, March 24, 2014


Selfies. I’m not so sure about them. Even my computer has a question! The word definitely is underlined in red! Should that tell us something? I’m not sure selfies are all that flattering actually. They seem to distort folks a bit. I know they are all the rage these days. Even the president is in on the craze. And, of course, the “group selfie” taken at the Academy Awards ceremony was the highlight of the night with every star imaginable trying to crowd into the frame. I guess I simply don’t understand the reasoning behind a person taking his or her own photo. Am I wrong to think it’s superficial? Maybe someone could explain the thinking behind a selfie to me. I’d really like to know.

I hope this doesn’t sound negative or offensive. I truly was just wondering.

(And, it’s true. My spellcheck does NOT like the word. I wonder, however, if selfie will be added to the dictionary this year as a valid, new word. I suppose whoever makes those decisions should consider it. Why not?)

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Celebrating the Ordinary

I actually saw the poem below on Facebook, shared by Teacherslog and also by a friend of mine (Kim S.). It made me think and I wanted to include it in my blog.

“The Parent’s Tao Te Ching” by William Martin – Shared by We Are Teacherslog

I found this to be a wonderful sentiment. It does not mean, however, that we, and our children, should not follow our dreams, our passions, our intellect, and our capacity for learning and growing. In my opinion, taking every opportunity to learn new skills, and to move to the next level in our lives is important. It fulfills us.

It is likewise essential though, as the words above remind us, to take sweet time to appreciate the beauty and wonder in small things – a bright, white and yellow daisy, a soaring, red tailed hawk, the wrinkled hands of an old woman, the dynamism of a flitting hummingbird, the curious coo of an infant, the brush of a lover’s hand, the taste of clover honey, the invigorating splash of ocean spray, and the awesome sight of a full moon still dominating a morning sky. All of these tiny snapshots can be captured in the mind and give us reason to rejoice.

I was lucky to have been taught by my mother not simply to look, but to notice, to observe; I was taught not simply to listen, but to hear; and I was taught that sometimes it’s better to be silent rather than to fill the air with words with no meaning. It takes practice and patience at times, but the end result catapults us into a much greater understanding and appreciation for the world around us. I suppose it is best to note that even in the ordinary lies the extraordinary and noticing that opens doors.

Monday, March 17, 2014

Happy Saint Patrick’s Day

Here we are. Another year has rolled around and we’re ready to celebrate Saint Patrick’s Day again. I donned the only green t-shirt I own today so nobody would pinch me. I had to hike up the old, back, hoodie sweatshirt and drag down the t-shirt so it could be seen, but that worked; that swath of green saved the day. Not one person accused me of not doing my part to mark the occasion. I’m not Irish, but I do have a little Scottish in my background. (It’s NOT the same, I know!) And, of course, there’s the Italian side. With my grandparents having emigrated from Italy, it’s easy to claim that ancestry. My personal “stuff” aside, however, it is Saint Patrick’s Day, and time to chime in with folks who enjoy this holiday very much.

For several countries the day is an official public holiday with quite a few religions touting its importance. Supposedly the day commemorates Saint Patrick and the arrival of Christianity in Ireland. It’s more than that though. It’s a chance to honor the heritage and culture of the Irish, and I think that’s cool.

St. Patrick’s Day is fun -- parades, fancy outfits, four-leaf clovers, leprechauns, bling in every shade of green, good luck, and beer, beer, and more beer. I’m quite sure a good brew has been on the minds of a number of people today! (I’ve checked out the posts on Facebook.) It seems as though everyone is ready for a little stout if not something a bit less strong! At my house the corned beef is simmering, the potatoes and cabbage are ready to be added to the stock, and more than a few brews are chilled and ready for consumption, (though I’ll stick with wine). It is probably safe to say that a few folks will be feeling no pain this evening. I also assume they know that tomorrow will be here in a blink! May luck keep them safe and sound!

So, Happy Saint Patrick’s Day, and whatever you do have a wonderful evening!