Tuesday, June 15, 2010

When it Rains it Pours

Dear Mom,

I’m going to have to stop writing for a while. I did something again to my right wrist—the hand that I type and write with and the one I use for just about every other function. The last time it happened, I went to a physical therapy doctor, had xrays, MRI, etc., and they couldn’t find anything—just like this last episode where I thought I was having a heart attack or whatever it was and the results: nothing. It's a good thing to find nothing. So I’ve come to a small conclusion—I say small since I’m still trying to understand it—that I need to lay low with everything.

To think of not writing nearly makes me insane, so I need to look deep and contemplate. I can’t say how long I’ll be at “rest” so bear with me. Maybe you can help me in some way to figure things out.

I love you.

P.S. Pecking at one key at a time with your left hand (if you’re right handed) is a bit time consuming and slightly annoying. But like the tattoo on your grandaughter's foot; This too shall pass.


Dear Mom,

It was on this date that I married your grandchildren’s father. I thought he was the one. After one failed marriage behind me, I really didn’t want to have to go through that again. We would have been married 28 years. Egads. All four of my marriages added up just barely tilt over half that… most from this last marriage. Yeah!

The marriage with the father of my children seems like a life time ago surviving five years. Technically we made it for six years, but we weren’t living together on that sixth anniversary. Rita was just six months old when I packed up her and the other two and half the contents of our home.

I remembered waking up that Saturday morning and he asked me what I had planned for the day. I told him that in about an hour my family would be coming to help me move out. He was flabbergasted. Didn’t think it was a good idea. I told him he should have thought about that when I had said it was either her or me. Guess he didn’t think I had what it takes to walk out with three small kids, no home, no job.

It all worked out because I surrendered—fully. Somewhere deep inside I knew it was what I had to do and I had to trust completely whatever the outcome.

I learned surrender. For that, I will be eternally grateful.

Monday, June 14, 2010


Dear Mom,

Now is the time people are going on vacations. I’m good to stay home. Must have inherited that from you and Dad as I don’t think we ever went on a family vacation. Maybe you and Dad did with Suzanne and Warren. I have a glimpse of a memory going to Elephant Rock State Park for a day, but I’m not sure if it’s a real memory or one from a photograph.

I never took my kids on a vacation, but their dad did which made me feel less guilty then. I did take them to – ta dah – Elephant Rock State Park and maybe camping. Uncle Mart and Aunt Tish and Jeannie would take me along sometimes when they camped at Montauk State Park. I have such fond memories. I’m sure you were glad to get me out of your hair.

Norm took all of us on a family vacation one year to St. Maarten at Christmas. Casey lives in California (his first or second year away from home) and I had to tell him not to come home because Norm, the girls and I were going to St. Maarten. It broke my heart all to bits. We landed and we’re walking through the airport when I glanced over and saw a young man who looked like my Casey but I thought I was hallucinating since I felt so bad about him not being with us. As we got closer, we couldn’t believe it WAS our Casey and did the tears flow! That Norm.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Cover Up

Dear Mom,

When I was telling you about Rita and the Bra Blanket she created, Rita asked if I remembered what she titled it for the art show. I said I didn’t remember.

“Cover Up.” Rita had a big smile on her face. I understood the double meaning and agreed it was really clever. Sometimes I’m on the ball.

Rita is beginning to think she takes after me because she couldn’t remember the boy who sat on her plastic utensil chair. I reminded her that she came home so angry and wanted to just give up on the project completely. She remembered her anger but thought it was because the lights in the case where the artwork was displayed caused the glue to melt which in turn made her life size plastic utensil fall apart. She was constantly performing surgery on it.

I forgot to ask what she called the life size plastic utensil. I’m sure it was something clever as well.

One thing about forgetting things—when they come up again, you’re just as surprised and impressed as you were the first time. I’m looking forward to finding out about the plastic utensil’s title.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Sardines for Lunch

Dear Mom,

At lunch during grade school Ruthie and I would always walk home. You could do that back then—now it’s kind of like a prison. You’d always have something ready for us to eat although for the life of me I can’t recall eating anything in particular. I do however recall you eating sardines out of a can. I wanted to know why I couldn’t have sardines.

“You won’t like them.”

“Well can I try?”

I found it fascinating to eat an entire fish, head, tender bones and all. You seemed to be enjoying it so much, I had to try.

I ended up liking it which wasn’t surprising because I ate everything you’d put in front of me. Maybe you hoped I wouldn’t like it and that’s why you said that. Having sardines was probably somewhat of an extravagance and one you didn’t care to share with your children. Since Ruthie hardly ate anything there were no worries there.

Any time I pass sardines in the grocery store I’m transported back into the kitchen on St. Denis feeling quite grown-up eating your sardines.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Friday Night Date

Dear Mom,

Friday night Norm and I usually go out for dinner. It’s kind of like our official date. I feel lucky and grateful.

I don’t remember you and Dad ever going out for dinner—or any of us as a family. Not even to McDonald’s which I believe was the only fast food place around other than White Castle in the city. I remember asking what that was when we were driving to the hospital to see you. I wondered if it was a real castle.

Did you cook every day? Did Suzanne or Warren ever have to fix dinner for you? What did you do when you were sick? I vaguely remember a TV dinner once in a while, but that might have been something we ate after you died.

I do remember always making this cod that came frozen in a box when I was cooking for Dad and Ruthie. I recall Dad telling me, “This is something you can cook.” Yeah, since all you had to do was peel the cardboard off the rectangular frozen hunk of cod, put it on a cookie sheet and bake it until it was done. I decided when I got older that I’d never make it for dinner because I was really sick of it.

Maybe had you lived longer, you and Dad would’ve gone out once a week for dinner too.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Bra Blanket

Dear Mom,

Your youngest granddaughter—at least on my end anyway—is about as creative as I hear you were. Rita’s good at thinking out of the box. During high school they had this class where they were able to be more creative in their art. She made a full size human out of plastic utensils. The plastic man sat on a chair. Some silly kid decided it would be funny to sit on it himself and you can imagine what happened to the chair. It was in some art shows and stuff, but continued to fall apart. It now sits in plastic bags. I just loved that thing. I’ll have to search to see if I have a picture to show you.

Another piece she created was a bra blanket. Rita gathered up a bunch of bras that she bought at the dollar store. Needless to say the boys in her class loved the blanket. The teacher made her hide it every time the principal would come into the classroom. I guess he feared the principal wouldn’t approve of that much creativity.

The blanket hangs on a wall in one of our spare bedrooms. Some folks have no idea what to think of it.

I wish you could have known your grandchildren as much as they wish they could’ve known you. I know you’d all be making stuff together.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

The Lab

Dear Mom,

I wonder how it was for you when you went through your cancer. I was too young to understand most of the behind the scenes, but I think about it now.

Yesterday I had to call to make an appointment for blood work—all automated—not a live person to talk to. I mumbled something not so nice when the robot thing couldn’t understand what I said and it replied, “Oh you want to talk to someone,” and I’m thinking, great I’ll be connected to a real human, but then it went on, “I’m sorry this is fully automated and you will need to answer or say Go Back.” By then I couldn’t remember what I was supposed to answer, so I said, “Go back.” I kept future mumblings to myself because that robot thing picks up some kind of vibration and I feared I’d never get the appointment set.

I went today after coming from another appointment and ended up an hour early. I thought since they took walk-ins maybe I’d luck out. It didn’t matter how many people came in after me, if they had an appointment time before mine they went in while I sat.

Some lady arrived after I had been there 45 minutes and they didn’t have record of her appointment. I worried the robot didn’t program me. But it did. They got my blood. Now I wait.

I’m sure you went through something similar but with live people.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Sad Ducks

Dear Mom,

When I told you about the Sly Fox eating the duck eggs, well mom and dad were back yesterday. I felt sorry for them as I know they were wondering what in the world happened to their unborn children. Another male duck stood off to the side. I couldn’t figure out what he was doing as he observed mom and dad swimming around. Was he Grandpa? Or was the female an adulteress and this was the other man. Neither man would have to be responsible now that Sly Fox ate their children.

Mom, now they have Internet to look up anything that you question. I’m too lazy and like my imagination to figure out or make up what might be happening in the duck world. I am curious about the onlooker mallard. What was his purpose? Maybe he was some kind of scientist in the duck world trying to figure out what could have gotten the eggs since it was on an island. Do they know what a fox is and what the fox is capable of doing? Do they just shrug it off as part of nature or do they mourn for their unborn? Surely they feel something, don’t you think?

Here's mom and pop duck:
Here's the onlooker:

Monday, June 7, 2010

Snoopy Book

Dear Mom,

After getting the Snoopy coffee mug (see previous letter Keep Calm) I remembered an old Snoopy book I bought to help inspire me with my writing. If Snoopy can write a book, then why can’t I? I really bought it just for fun. I know writing takes discipline—or at least that’s what I think it boils down to. Doesn’t everything?

Mom, yesterday I kind of had a scare—of course my imagination went a bit wild and I thought I was having a heart attack. I said to my husband, “I could be dying and I can’t even think of anything profound to tell you before I go. How pathetic.” I guess in some unconscious way as the pain was piercing my chest, I knew I would live. As I relaxed, I wondered about you and what it must have been like for you and was anyone there with you.

And so it’s made me think of all the things I’d like to get accomplished before I move on to another life—mainly writing and publishing at least one book. I have three in the works and ideas for at least another three. Nothing like a little pain to waken up the desire and inspiration to get disciplined and WRITE! Oh yeah, and getting to the doctor.

But I’m going to be like Snoopy in this picture. I liked the effect of the shadow from the lens of the camera—makes it more like a Dark and Stormy Night.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Keep Calm and Carry On

Dear Mom,

I was quite surprised when I received the coolest coffee mug from my dear friend Sue in Japan. She must have felt sorry for me or something after I had written her probably whining about my lack of motivation in writing or being stuck in writing or just the struggle of writing.

When I first opened it, I saw Snoopy and Woodstock and I thought my friend Amy would be so jealous (she’s a Snoopy fan). Then I realized Snoopy was sitting at a typewriter. Cool. Then I understood the message. More coolness. It takes me a while. When I saw my name on it, well… it made it all the more perfect.

My friend told me that she got one for herself—she’s a writer too! She also told me her first car was a yellow VW Super Beetle with bondo gray on the fenders as if it was going to be repainted, but never was. Because of the yellow color, she named her car Woodstock.

I love when I learn more about friends.

Sue probably doesn’t know that I always dreamed my first car would be a bright yellow VW Beetle. Instead I bought a cheap silver Buick Skylark GTO. I think. It had some kind of double something or another that would allow it to take off faster when you stepped on the gas. Don’t ask me I never did it. Guys would drool over it.

I’d much rather drool over coffee mugs, like this one.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Looking Rather Pitiful

Dear Mom,

Suzanne also had a picture of Ruthie and me in our bi-centennial outfits that you made for the school picnic—the one I talked about in the letter School Picnic when I had the mumps. This was either taken before the picnic after you finished the dresses or after the picnic because I was so disappointed that I didn’t get to wear it the day of the parade. Either way, I think we are looking rather pitiful—like some kind of orphan children. It has nothing do to with your sewing abilities.

I was able to enlarge the photo in the word document that Suzanne sent to me, but I'm not able to enlarge it any other way. For the record, Ruthie is smiling and I'm looking pitiful. Maybe I was sick or getting sick.

Thanks for making the dresses. Sorry I don't seem too excited.

Friday, June 4, 2010


Dear Mom,

Your daughter Suzanne sent over the picture of the bunnies that I mentioned in my Sly Fox letter to you. It’s not the picture I thought and didn’t even know this one existed.

I was always a little jealous of Ruthie and how she handled animals so well. I thought something was wrong with me. But as you can see, I tried, hoping something would rub off on me. Ruthie’s all smiles and I’m like, what’s the big deal.

Ruthie was more the animal lover back in those days (still is) and more dutiful at taking care of them. I’ve never had a pet of my own. It seems I’ve taken care of pets after they were left behind, like our Smeagol. If someone I was involved with had a pet, then I grew to love and care for it, but never my own pet. Seems kind of weird now that I think about it.

I think you rubbed off on me as far as pets were concerned. I remember you not liking cats at all because you said one tried to smother you when you were a little girl. The cat curled up around your neck and face. I was really afraid of cats after that. Our neighbor and cousin, Jeannie always had kittens and although they were adorable, I always envisioned one of them smothering me so I kept my distance.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Homemade Vanilla Ice Cream

Dear Mom,

It was a special treat to get homemade vanilla ice cream. It seems like we only had it on Father’s Day or on Dad’s birthday—I guess because it was his favorite. Not sure why we didn’t have it on Mother’s Day or for your birthday. Or for my birthday!

I telephoned Dad’s sister the other day and the subject came up about homemade ice cream. She told me that they only had it in the winter time. She said that grandpa (their dad) wouldn’t pay money for ice in the summer because it was too expensive. Ice was needed for the old-fashioned ice cream maker where you’d place the ice and salt in between the container and the tub that held the mixture. There was a handle that had to be turned by hand, sometimes taking hours before the cream, eggs, sugar and vanilla turned to ice cream. The only time they could get free ice was in the winter when the horse’s trough froze over. I thought that was fascinating. Who would think about having homemade ice cream in the winter?

I remember the hand cranked ice cream maker but I have a modern version that you just plug in and let the electric motor do all the work. But any time I make it I will think of Dad and his siblings running outside getting some ice from the horse’s trough—in the dead of winter.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

School Picnic

Dear Mom,

I remember one year when we had a school picnic it was some sort of bi-centennial theme. We had to dress up like the olden days of that era. I don’t remember what it was to represent, but I remember the outfit that you made Ruthie and I. I couldn’t participate in the parade or the picnic that year because I had the mumps. I was so disappointed. We lived just a house away from the schoolyard and I could hear all the screaming and hollering from the kids on the rides.

Today I was to meet some friends at the school picnic, but just like the bi-centennial year I will be missing it. Not because of mumps—another kind of illness. And I will envision the same things I did back then—the cotton candy, the smell of the hot air coming off the motors of the scrambler or tilt-a-whirl, sticky kids running around begging their parents for another dollar, crying babies not wanting to be on the merry-go-round, boys and girls deciding if they’ll ride the ferris wheel together, picking up a lost ticket and getting a free ride. I hope my friends eat something good in my honor although they probably won’t even know I’m missing just as sure as I am now that no one knew I was missing on that bi-centennial year.

Mom, thanks for taking care of me. Wish you were here now.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Sly Fox

Dear Mom,

Our cat Smeagol was chattering at the door peering out of the window so I looked out. There was a fox. He walked around the upper pond and I thought he was trying to find a place to get a drink. He stared right at me, just like the deer, while I held up the camera to take a picture. Then he got pretty close and before I could catch a better shot of him, he leaped across the water to the little island. I saw that he had something in his mouth as he leaped back across and ran into the woods. All in about three seconds. It dawned on me that the mallard ducks had their eggs on that island and that’s what the fox was hoping to—and did—get. I felt bad that I didn’t stop the fox, but I had no idea that’s what he was getting ready to do. A little bit later, I heard Smeagol again and I looked. There’s Mr. Fox prowling around the pond. I tapped on the window and he darted off. When Norm got home I took him outside to show him the eggs and I rattled on about the fox. But no eggs in sight. That sly fox did what he knows best. Survival of the fittest in nature.

Remember when you let Ruthie bring in the baby bunnies to take care of them? There’s a cute picture of her somewhere holding the bunnies under her shirt.

Here's the sly fox:
Here he is before the leap: Here's where he had to jump to the island: Here's the island and right behind the turtle's backside is the egg: