Happy On a Hill, Short Video

Me and Lucy.

Me and Morgan.

Me and Hannah.

Welcoming Winter!

“I have this theory that people make an implicit decision as to whether they’re going to stay young and curious and interesting and interested, or whether they’re just going to let themselves age.”*

Living on a hill has its advantages and disadvantages. Disadvantages? Balls roll away, mud and ice makes it especially slippery, the garden’s on a slope, and climbing back up the hill in snow is a workout. Advantage? Being “the sledding house!”

I created this video after a blizzard in 2015, and it always make me smile.

Click link to to watch the one-minute video:  Snow Day/Blizzard 2015 

* Quote by Mitch Rothschild, Chief Executive of Vitals, a website that connects patients and doctors, from a 1/25/15 article in The New York Times.

**music on video, Paul Hardcastle-The Jazzmasters “See You in July”

Stevie Wonder with The Harlem Boys Choir-Live

Me, my mom and sister at my brother’s wedding.

I’m really missing my mom this holiday season. What I want to tell her:

One of her granddaughters is recovering quickly from hip surgery.

One of her granddaughters got a new job offer.

One of her granddaughters danced beautifully as Captain of the Soldiers in The Nutcracker.

One of her grandsons, who is in the United Stated Army, will be stationed on the East Coast in a couple of months.

And I received amazing feedback on a picture book manuscript.

So, to my mom and all those that we miss…

I Held Her Hand

Robert, Barbara, Ruth, Andrew, Naomi

My mom died two years ago today. One of the most profound things I’ve ever done and, probably, will ever do, was to walk with my mom to the liminal line between here on Earth and not. I told her it was okay to step off. Into the unknown. Alone. Maybe to be greeted by her parents. Who really knows? But cancer free. I stepped back and watched her go. I kissed her. I told her she was my rock.  I told her the shining light of her soul was separate from her wasted body. She told me she was afraid. So afraid. I held her hand.

My mother’s brother, Robert, passed away suddenly less than a year after she did. Maybe they met again in a place language has no words for.

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(The same images are in the slideshow and collage.)

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Today is a year since my mom passed, so I’m sharing these beautiful quotes in her memory.

“…we should be remembered for the things we do. The things we do are the most important things of all. They are more important than what we say or what we look like. The things we do outlast our mortality. The things we do are like monuments that people build to honour heroes after they’ve died. They’re like the pyramids that the Egyptians built to honour the Pharaohs. Only instead of being made out of stone, they’re made out of the memories people have of you. That’s why your deeds are like your monuments. Built with memories instead of with stone.”
― R.J. Palacio

“It has been said, ‘time heals all wounds.’ I do not agree. The wounds remain. In time, the mind, protecting its sanity, covers them with scar tissue and the pain lessens. But it is never gone.”
― Rose Fitzgerald Kennedy

“Silently, one by one, in the infinite meadows of heaven,
Blossomed the lovely stars, the forget-me-nots of the angels.”
― Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, Evangeline: A Tale of Acadie

I wear a veil of sadness. My mother’s illness and passing has left me unmoored, so please bear with me as I stand in an ocean, the waves lapping and tugging, lapping and tugging.

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Epitaph by Merrit Malloy

When I die

Give what’s left of me away

To children

And old men that wait to die.

 

And if you need to cry,

Cry for your brother

Walking the street beside you.

And when you need me,

Put your arms

Around anyone

And give them

What you need to give to me.

 

I want to leave you something,

Something better

Than words

Or sounds.

 

Look for me

In the people I’ve known

Or loved,

And if you cannot give me away,

At least let me live on in your eyes

And not your mind.

 

You can love me most

By letting

Hands touch hands,

By letting bodies touch bodies,

And by letting go

Of children

That need to be free.

 

Love doesn’t die,

People do.

So, when all that’s left of me

Is love,

Give me away.

Epitaph

img_7229I wear a veil of sadness. My mother’s illness and passing has left me unmoored, so please bear with me as I stand in an ocean, the waves lapping and tugging, lapping and tugging.

img_7227 img_7228

Epitaph by Merrit Malloy

When I die

Give what’s left of me away

To children

And old men that wait to die.

 

And if you need to cry,

Cry for your brother

Walking the street beside you.

And when you need me,

Put your arms

Around anyone

And give them

What you need to give to me.

 

I want to leave you something,

Something better

Than words

Or sounds.

 

Look for me

In the people I’ve known

Or loved,

And if you cannot give me away,

At least let me live on in your eyes

And not your mind.

 

You can love me most

By letting

Hands touch hands,

By letting bodies touch bodies,

And by letting go

Of children

That need to be free.

 

Love doesn’t die,

People do.

So, when all that’s left of me

Is love,

Give me away.

Beautiful Girl

"Clara" by Jean Philippe Richard
“Clara” by Jean Philippe Richard.

Recognizing art I’d seen in Soho, I was drawn into the BelAirFineArt gallery in Venice. Then I discovered “Clara.” This life-sized bronze sculptor by  Jean Philippe Richard struck me as beautiful and mysterious.

"Clara" by Jean Philippe Richard.
“Clara” by Jean Philippe Richard.

Beautiful is my mom. Mysterious is our time on earth. 

Barbara Ellen, my mom as a toddler.
Barbara Ellen, my mom as a toddler.

Me, my son and my mom.
Me, my son and my mom.

this-is-love-to-fly-toward-a-secret-skyto-cause-a-hundred-veils-to-fall-each-moment-first-to-let-go-of-life-in-the-end-to-take-a-step-without-feet-2

Mother’s Day Moment

Hon, please indulge me. It doesn’t have to be Mother’s Day for me to say how grateful I am to be a mom, how proud I am of my kids or how much I love them.  But, what I want to do today is spend time with all of them so this post is the prologue to the story of the last 18 1/2 year of my life.

(I can’t take credit for all of the photos. Some are mine and some aren’t.)

Baby A's tiny hand in mine.
Baby A’s tiny hand in mine. This was the first day I was allowed to hold her. She was 10 days.

Baby A was only 2 pounds 9 ounces at birth and stayed in the NICU for 6 1/2 weeks. Despite being tiny, she could breath on her own (the tube in her nose above is a Gavage feeding tube). The nurses said she screamed loudly and a lot, which demonstrated how developed her lungs were. One nurse took to carrying her around on her shoulder to calm her down. As I scrubbed up before entering the NICU to take my smallest triplet home, one of the nurses, referring to my baby, said, “When is that mother going to get here already?” The mother bear in me came out when I answered, “I’m here!”

Baby A at 3 1/2.
At 3 1/2.

Baby A is the teenager with red hair.
As a counselor at a sleep-away camp.  Here she is with some of her campers.

Proud mama (and papa) moving our firstborn into her dorm room for freshman year.

Baby A starting freshman year of college.
Starting freshman year of college.

 

Baby B swaddled and sleepy.
Baby B swaddled and sleeping. He was small but healthy.

Baby B was the largest triplet at 4 pounds, 12 ounces. In the NICU he was considered a “feeder and grower” and was able to come home after 10 days.  His colic lasted until he was 6 months. In an effort to deal with the colic, we switched to a non-dairy formula causing him to smell like a potato! He was such an affectionate baby, he’s meld into my body when I rocked him. As a toddler, he was the ringleader of the games “Let’s Smear Our Room In Vaseline,” “Let’s Step In the Diaper Rash Ointment,” and “Let’s Shred All Of The Audio Tapes Our Parents Made Of Our First Words!”

"Growl, I'm a tiger!"
“Growl, I’m a tiger!”  At his 4th birthday party.

Baby B on move in day,
On move in day of freshman year at a university.

Proud mama (and papa) attending an ROTC Army event at our son’s university and seeing him in his dress blues.

Dress blues.
Dress blues.

 

Baby C in her isolette.
Baby C in her Isolette.  The nurses said her beauty “glowed” from the inside out.

Baby C, 4 pounds 4 ounces at birth, was allowed to come home after 12 days.  She had no problem sharing a bassinet with her brother and the two of them would contentedly stare at each other. But when Baby A came home from the hospital and I laid her down next to her sister, Baby C howled with displeasure as if to say, “Who is this baby and what is doing here?  I had to either lay them head to toe or put my son in the middle.  Hon, I am here to tell you that birth order dynamics are thrown to the wind when it comes to multiples. Baby C established herself as the “oldest” (that’s a euphemism for bossiest) even if she was born third.  She had the world’s best belly laugh and, if I could have bottled it, I’d be writing my books on an island in the Caribbean right now!

Pony ride at 3 3/4.
Pony ride at 3 3/4.

Bed's made up and saying goodbye start of freshman year of college.
Bed’s made up and saying goodbye start of freshman year of college.

Proud Mama (and Papa) have known our daughter was artistic since she was 3 years old.  Her self portrait is stunning!

Self portrait, oil paints.
Self portrait our daughter painted of herself with with acrylic paints.

 

Our Plus One the day after she was born.
Our Plus One the day after she was born. She was happy and calm right from the start.

Hon, do you know what was strange about holding an 8 pounds 6 ounce newborn? She was the same size as our triplets were when they were able to sit up! Our Plus One was an easy, go-with-the-flow child who was happiest when she was surrounded by her family. Many people have asked if she was accident, to which I replied, “No, she was very planned!” More people have said, “Wow, that’s a lot of kids” to which I replied, “Four was always my lucky number.”  And countless people have said, “You had triplets and then another one?!” to which I replied, “She’s G-d’s gift to me!”

Our fourth as a toddler.
Our fourth as a toddler.

No fear on the trapeze.
No fear on the trapeze.

Leaping at ballet class.
Leaping at ballet class.

Proud Mama (and Papa) shed tears at our youngest’s “Moving Up” ceremony, but still celebrated the start of a new chapter in her life.

"Moving Up" from elementary to middle school.
“Moving Up” from elementary to middle school.

 

Fender Bender–Her Fault

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What would you have done?

Last year, while I sat in my parked car, I felt a jolt. More than a bump but less than a crash.  The mid 20 year-old woman swinging into the parking spot next to me misjudged and hit my bumper.

When I inquired with the young woman, her mother, who was sitting next to her, told me it must have been the snow.  Snow hit my car?  What snow?  How?  I checked my rear bumper.  There were two small chips in my silver, plastic bumper. On her car there were definitive silver marks where her bumper had scraped against mine.  The mother, inspecting the scrapes, said my car was blue so the scrapes on her daughter’s car couldn’t be from my car.  The woman wasn’t playing with a full deck.  Did I mention my bumper is silver?

I ignored the mother and took the daughter’s information.  The two small chips didn’t seem to warrant calling the police.  To my untrained eye, it looked like they could easily be touched up.  I said as much, but before parting ways, the mother went berserk. She screamed that her daughter didn’t hit my car (um–I was sitting in the car when it happened) and that I should call the police.  Her daughter apologized.  I said I’d call her in a day or so.

An auto body shop’s estimate was $600 to remove and sand the bumper.  That seemed steep, even if I wasn’t the one paying for it.  Two car parts stores suggested getting touch-up paint which cost $10.  At one car parts shop, the guy rolled his eyes when told about the $600 estimate.  At the other, the guy said I had a “kind heart” when I showed him the chips and told him I intended to touch them up myself.

I like my car, but it already had some bumps and bruises.  If I had backed into something, I would fix them myself.  Was it worth the trouble of involving the police and insurance companies? Then I wondered what would that young woman have done if I had hit her car?

When I called the daughter to tell her the range of estimates, I wanted her to know that she was dealing with a kind heart.  And I wanted her to thank me for my kindness. Was that too much to ask?  She proceeded to tell me about the rough time she was having, what with a cousin being murdered and all. (What?!)  I told her sorry to hear, that this situation could be resolved quickly, and that it needn’t be among the awful things she was going through.  Maybe I’m sympathetic.  Or gullible. Or both.

I got her $10 in the mail.

Hon, what would you have done?