Love Is Love In Any Language

It doesn’t take much to make another person happy. I’ve been actively trying and going out of my way to make sure I give extra smiles, be extra patient while driving (I never said it was easy) and generally be a nicer, better, human being. It has to start somewhere so random acts of kindness and going out of my way to do good has always been part of my life’s plan. I’m just doubling the efforts now. Maybe the people I am doing little things for will actually do something nice for another person and then another person….I hope so. In any case, it certainly can’t hurt.

I’m not the most patient person all the time, me of the rolling eyes and the heaving sighs. Yes, it’s true, I have been known to do that when I get aggravated or annoyed (ask my children they will certainly tell you) but at least I’m aware of it now and if I catch myself while I am doing it, I may look like a lunatic but I try to change that behavior mid-stream. I’m trying. Success definitely takes time.

This isn’t a new 2013 New Year’s Resolution, I frankly don’t believe in those. This is a general way to feed my soul and hope it helps other people. I just want to be a nicer human being and hope others want the same thing too. I want to go out of my way to do something I normally wouldn’t do. At the supermarket I am guilty of leaving the grocery cart near my car, that’s not nice. So, I will make an effort to roll it to the nearest stand, it will only take me an extra minute. I might complain about the cold weather to myself but it’s the least I can do.  If I do something nice for you, please pass it on to someone else. This country needs this, especially now.

If even one person reading this decides that he or she wants to do the same thing, it would make a huge difference. Check out the video below, you don’t need to know the language, you will understand the thought and the kindness immediately.

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Carry On Tuesday: “I Had A Dream”

Publicity photo of Ralph Waite (John Walton, S...

Publicity photo of Ralph Waite (John Walton, Sr.), Richard Thomas (John Boy), and Michael Learned (Olivia Walton) from the television program The Waltons. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I had a dream, when I was younger, that all families were like the ones I  watched on television: Leave It To Beaver, Father Knows Best and most importantly, The Waltons. Everyone always got along, the siblings were close, sure they bantered back and forth but I could just feel the love between them and the mutual admiration they had for one another. I grew up thinking that life was fair; good people got good things and bad people got what they deserved: punishment. Life was about giving and taking, things always worked out in the end, or so I thought.

I certainly don’t believe in that as much as I used to, hell, I’m not sure I believe in it at all.  There are too many bad people getting away with too much horrible crap and too many good people are given way too much stuff to handle that they don’t deserve. Think about it for a minute, I bet you can think of a few, truly good and kind people who don’t deserve what they have and a few unkind, bad and selfish people you wish had more of the same, negative karma that they give out,  if only to teach them a lesson or two. Does it happen often? No, it rarely happens if at all.

I know I started  my youthful fantasies, back when there was a Santa Claus, and an Easter Bunny and if you had a bad day, the next day was a promise with a kiss to be better. It was a world when moms and dads could tell you things and you believed them in your child-like innocence. Parents weren’t flawed people, they were just, well…parents. Apparently, life is not based out of old episodes of a television series. Reality hit me when I was an adolescent and those innocent years of childhood ended abruptly.

Families, like The Waltons all lived together in one big house; sure they were poor but they all got along and loved and trusted one another, three generations living under one roof. We can’t even have a dinner with the “adults” in my family before someone’s childish drama and selfishness rears its dysfunctional head, loudly and inappropriately, within a matter of minutes. At my mother’s  birthday celebration, one member of my family made it all about her. I wasn’t shocked or surprised it happens that way all the time. I just shook my head, looked at my poor husband who had just been delivered a stern lecture and saw his flushed cheeks and his bewildered, hurt brown eyes; he was very upset. After that, just looking at his body language he had checked out. There’s always one victim, usually it’s me, now it was both of us, but I don’t feel defeated anymore, I just felt disgusted.

Here is what I have learned:  people do not change. The most “enlightened” sounding people can be the most disturbed and do not know themselves at all; they need professional help. As much as we are all in this together with our friends, family, neighbors,  ultimately, we are alone. We are born alone and we will die alone. The most important thing to have is strength in yourself. We all need that wisdom and courage it takes to go to bed and wake up the next day knowing that even though it is hard to put one foot in front of the other, we have no choice but to continue. That even in uncharted territory we must force ourselves to go on and that family is not necessarily defined by blood lines but by goodwill, caring, kind, well-intentioned, love. Pure and simple. Love should not be that complicated, and if it always is, there is something very, very wrong.

Snail Mail

Sheriff's Badge

Image via Wikipedia

WHEN THE WORLD WAS A BRIGHTER PLACE…..

 

I sent a handwritten letter with photographs of my children to a wonderful man, earlier this month. We adore this gentleman and I dubbed him The Sheriff, many years ago when we lived in a small suburb of Boston. The Sheriff, and his wife Louise lived down the hill from us on a cul de sac. My children were young, 2 and 4, back then and The Sheriff was very much a part of our lives. He invited us to his July 4th bbq where my daughter sat on my husband’s shoulders, seeing fireworks for the first time, covering her ears and screaming. The Sheriff was invited to my son’s fourth birthday party and he arrived bearing a plastic green dinosaur that still lives lovingly in our basement; I cannot part with it.

I received a letter from Mr. and Mrs. Sheriff last week thanking us for the photos. The Sheriff was so touched we remembered him and that we still thought about him after all these years. We had kept in touch, though not often and once we even paid him a surprise visit but it had been a few years since we had communicated.

The two and four year old little kids he had known were now 16 and 18. When the children were young I bought a Sheriff’s badge for him and he wore it proudly; every time we ran into him he had it with him. It was plastic and silver and if it wasn’t attached to his shirt, he had it in his pocket. I know in my heart, he still has it, tucked away somewhere, in an old green address book or in the corner of a dusty bedside table. Even if it is missing in action he would never throw that sign of honor away. If we never saw him wear that badge again, he will always be The Sheriff to us, the one person who made the whole neighborhood “home.”

Dedicated to George

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Happy Birthday Daddy

Wiener Schnitzel

Image via Wikipedia

November 13th is my dad’s birthday, he would have been 88. He passed away almost 9 years ago but the pain on holidays, birthdays, Father’s Day, is the same raw pain as the day he died.  It’s a pain that is hard to describe for people who have never lost a parent. Believe me, I know.

Instead of wallowing in depression this year I am going to try to remember and honor the man I loved so dearly. His blue-gray eyes, child-like qualities, generosity, pep-talks and his warmth. I miss the soft yet sturdy hugs as if a limb of my own had been amputated. I miss the familiar smell of his after-shave cologne that he sprayed with enthusiasm. My dad and I were very similar; he and I had an amazing connection and a strong emotional bond. We thought alike and we completely understood each other. The day he died, my heart was gauged with intense pain, my heart missing an essential beat.

My dad and I had so much fun together when I was younger. We traveled to  Vienna, Austria, where my grandparents lived. We ate sugary-sweet meringues that were shaped like delicate white swans and sipped hot chocolate with “schlag”  (whipped cream). We ate exploding red-berry sweet and sour tarts in Viennese cafes. My grandmother would fry up her famous wiener schnitzel,  served with plump lemon wedges every single night.

I was in first grade when my mom couldn’t come to open school day but my dad came. I think he was the only father in the class and I was so proud, so happy that he was there. I remember sharing my milk and cookies with him and I felt so important. At a shared birthday party with a friend he surprised me by coming home from work early, sneaking into the party like a secret surprise. It was a joy so innocent and so intense that I remember the feeling to this day. I was shocked and delighted as I wrapped my arms around his tall legs like a clinging, furry animal. Back then dads’ weren’t as involved in their children’s’ lives as they are today but he always had time for me; his little one, his mouse, his baby.

We had adventures, the two of us. My mother worked a great deal, she traveled the world being a tour director and translator. One night my father and I went out to a Spanish restaurant and sipped sangria, with glistening, beaming chunks of bright oranges and green apples bobbing in the rich, red wine. We toasted people we knew with every sip we took. The more we sipped the stranger the toasts were. I remember we toasted a wall -paper hanger guy that never showed up to our house, people we barely knew and random people from the past.

We went to the bagel store together, early on a Sunday morning and the store was closed. However, the fresh, warm, doughy bagels had already been delivered to the store in huge paper sacks. My dad happily took some and we left, an experience a teenager doesn’t forget! We would go grocery shopping at a huge Pathmark store with my mom and he and I would find the biggest size jars of silly things: three-pound troughs of peanut butter and dill pickles, tubs of mandarin oranges and hide them in the cart as a joke. My mother would roll her eyes and shake her head, clearly not amused, but my dad and I would laugh hysterically. Often, there would be open boxes of cookies or candy and we would help ourselves to free samples. Back then, we weren’t worried about poison or germs or anthrax.

My father spent his entire life working for TWA,  getting free airline tickets for our family.  My father, mother, older sister and I flew to: France, Greece, Portugal, Israel, Switzerland and Germany. First class seats were a mere eight dollars extra but that was a lot of money years ago and a very special treat.

This Saturday on my dad’s birthday my husband and I are going to visit my mom and take her out for lunch, we don’t want her to be alone. I know that spending the day with my mom would make my dad very happy.  He loved my mom more than anyone else in the world. Later, that night, my kids and I will remember him with his own, signature and messy concoction, “Papa’s game”: a “mixture” containing  little bits of everything that is leftover on our plates and in our glasses, swirled together with a spoon and a smile. This year, I will toast to his memory.