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Sunday, September 11, 2016

9/11 Remembered

It is a day that shook us up as a nation. Living here, 50 miles from NYC, and about an 8 hour drive from the other points of impact, it was and is tough to avoid all those horrible images. I admit that I can only look at them on the tv or in print so many times before I cannot look any more. Because I watched it as it happened and those raw images are forever embedded in my memory. What I also remember are the events of my personal day. 
It was a day like any other, at the beginning of the school year. Hillary had just started her second year attending our town's middle school. That morning I drove to the school and dropped off some of her supplies that I didn't send on the bus with her. Since I still had nearly an hour before reporting to work in the kitchen of one of our elementary schools I went back home. I turned on the news and saw what I thought was old footage of the early 1990's attack on the World Trade Center when a car bomb exploded in the underground garage. But the news anchors were the (at the time) current ones. The time was a little past nine and as my brain tried to process what I was seeing and hearing, the second plane hit the second tower. My mouth gaped, my stomach froze, and I struggled to comprehend what I was seeing and hearing from the tv. All I could think to do was go to work, although I called my husband first because where he worked there was no tv and generally too much noise to hear the radio. He was, of course, shocked by what I told him. 
When I got to work, the ladies that I work with were trying frantically to get in contact with their loved ones. L's oldest daughter lived in Manhattan, and M's husband worked there. At the time, cell phones were not as ubiquitous nor as advanced as they are now, so it was more difficult to contact people. They eventually were able to get in touch with them, but leaned on each other throughout the day as events unfolded. Although staff members were aware of the attacks, the principal did not want the young children told. Our custodian turned on the big screen tv in the lunchroom and as I did my job filling the vending machines we watched as the towers fell, people ran, and reports came in about the Pentagon and the crash in Pennsylvania. I recall seeing staff members in the hallway crying, hugging each other. The children were as they usually were. As we left work that day, the skies were eerily silent. Generally there are jets on their way to and from NYC and area airports, as well as the occasional single engine plane or helicopter. Only birds were flying that day and in the next few days to come. Our town lost a paraprofessional from one of our elementary schools that day on one of the flights, neighboring towns lost citizens who were employed in offices at the towers. Most towns around here have 9/11 memorials. Most also sent first responders to help in the aftermath. I don't know about other parts of the country, but in this area, the impact was huge, and is felt keenly to this day.

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Bittersweet Summer

Summer is bittersweet in so many ways.  We savor the days of sunshine and days of gentle rain, while at the same time realizing the danger of  sunburned skin, strong storms, tornadoes, flooding and hurricanes.  Summer is a season where we slow down a bit, take time off, and let our minds wander; our thoughts blowing through our brains like those white puffy clouds the wind pushes and changes as they move across the deep blue sky on a hot afternoon.  As my memories meander around in my head I realize that it is this time of the year when I miss my parents the most.  Most people I talk to about their parents once they have passed on say they miss them most around the winter holidays—Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s Eve, or around Mothers Day and Fathers Day.  Those days do have a poignant emptiness to them once your parents are no longer here but for me it’s the summer time that leaves me with an emptiness quite unfillable.

It was in the summer that we seemed to have the most fun with our parents.  Whether it was a family game of softball in the field across the street, a trip to explore and picnic at Tillman’s Ravine, or a trip to visit my aunt at the shore we did it together on the weekend.  During the week, my mother packed picnic lunches of cheese sandwiches, iced tea and vegetable sticks and we walked up the street where there was forest now many houses) where we walked through the coolness of the trees and stopped at “Diamond Rock” for lunch.  Other days we’d simply yell into the house through the screen door to let Mom know we were going to a friend’s house, bike riding, or to the playground.  She was always there; she was our anchor as we navigated our way through childhood.  The evenings were spent either sitting together in lawn chairs on the porch drinking lemonade and talking and laughing about whatever four kids and two adults would, or playing games; usually either Scrabble or Rummy.  Even after we were all grown, when I visited my parents Mom was always ready with the Scrabble board or a deck of cards once the dinner dishes were washed and put away.  She was really hard to beat as she knew so many words and was a strategic player of letters.  In Rummy she always seemed to get the cards she needed, I don’t know how she did it but she usually reached 500 before anyone else was even close.  Those were such nice times, the cool of the evening, a citronella candle on the picnic table, glass of iced tea, and a quiet game which invited casual conversation and fostered a closeness of which there is no comparison.

Summer, for me, is the time I most wish my parents were still here.  It’s the time that I feel the loss of them the most, yet I have to smile at all the happy memories I have of those long lazy summers.


Since my daughter has never been able to walk or talk, I've always wished that people could see how she is a person who likes and dislikes things the same as everyone does. When she was very young I tried to let other children see that she enjoyed the activities they did, but in a different way. Just because she couldn't run, it didn't mean she didn't enjoy the feeling of moving fast.  She loved it when whoever was pushing her in her wheelchair ran.  She loved the way it felt to swing, and being with other children.  Now that she is older, I wish that people could see past the ways she is different.  I wish they could know her as a young woman.  Let me tell you a bit about her.

She loves parties! The sound of people talking and laughing, loud music and the general festive air bring her joy.

She hates tuna, really truly hates it! She does love cake, though!

She gets mad at me when she has to get up early.  She doesn't like being woken up and expected to function any more than anyone else who wants to sleep in on the weekend.

She is Daddy's little girl, even at the ripe old age of almost 24.  Seriously, she could be scowling at me or complaining because I'm touching her arm  but let my husband come in the room and try the same thing and she's suddenly happy.  She simply adores him.

She feels sibling rivalry yet loves hanging out with her older sister watching movies or listening to music.

She likes watching baseball on tv, SpongeBob, movies, and funny videos where people are getting hit with balls, falling and just doing dumb things.

She loves going places and seeing new sights.  When we go out in the van or she is on the bus for her day program she looks out the windows.  When we go on vacation she likes seeing all the different things, taking a tour boat ride, and walking through the tourist shop areas. (although that tends to be difficult since most places are crowded). She also enjoys a day at the mall, especially if an ice cream is included!

She is a person in her own right, and I really just wish more people could see that.

 Here she is next to my husband on the tour boat at Lake George, NY.

Sunday, July 10, 2016

Dish Towel Club

Many years ago, before every home had a computer, we kept in touch with faraway friends and relatives through either mail (now called snail mail) or telephone calls. Long distance calls could get expensive, so many of us used mail except in cases of emergency. Getting a letter in the mail felt like winning the lottery! Sometimes, though, you'd get a chain letter, the precursor to the "click like and type amen or something bad will happen in your life" memes on Facebook. Mostly I didn't participate in those and wondered why on Earth a friend had decided to buy into the superstition of not making 10 copies causing some horrible calamity to befall their loved ones. There were also fun ones such as sending recipes or postcards to the first person listed, scratching their name off the letter and adding yours to the bottom. The idea was that you would get many new recipes or postcards from  many different places. I did enjoy those and still have some of the items around my house. I think by far my favorite chain letter was " The Dish Towel Club". It was well worth the trouble of buying a towel, putting it in a manilla envelope and mailing it off. My friend's mother thought it was a cute idea, although I doubt she participated. I received many cute towels and still have one of them in use. Although it is a bit faded & stained it's useful as a dust rag or for wiping up spills. I doubt that now anyone would participate in such a thing, but everyone on social media seems to share recipes and tips and tricks for doing things. I guess we still want to be connected and help each other as well as sharing our knowledge and talents but we do it instantaneously. That's nice, but I miss getting those surprises in the mail box.

This is the towel I still have. Cute, right?

Sunday, July 3, 2016

Unique But Alike

We are all unique and we like that we are. At the same time we want to be with people who are like us. I think that's why we have clubs and different organizations. Maybe what we want, underneath it all, is to feel like we belong. We seem to really enjoy spending time with like-minded people. Sometimes we join groups only to realize that we are too different and feel as if we don't fit in. Like say a tulip petal on a daisy. Each daisy petal is unique, yet when viewed as a group look the same. But a tulip petal is a different size and shape and doesn't belong on a daisy any more than I would belong in a group of rocket scientists or rugby players. I think what I'm trying to say is that we like to know that we are not strange yet we want to retain our individuality. To belong is a wonderful thing, to be lost in a crowd isn't. It seems like it's one of the contradictions of being human. Celebrate your uniqueness, it's what makes being you so enjoyable.