Tempus Fugit

I haven’t written a post in thirty days. My pursuit of quietness escaped me this past month.

When I began my blog, I intended to post often, daily if possible. I saw blogging as a way to take time for reflection, to find quiet moments after a busy day, to listen to my inner voice. But May passed. After the first week, I began chastising myself for not making my writing a priority.  Like tick marks on a calendar, each day I felt a little more disappointed by my fading commitment, the feeling of lacking perseverance and discipline. A lifetime of messages from people, filled with recrimination, played over and over in my mind:  “you’re fickle,” “you tire of things,” “you’re flighty;” “you don’t stick to anything.”

If I’m true to myself, I will forgive myself. Point of fact, May was a crazy, busy month! Too bad that I let the “busyness” keep me from doing something I truly enjoy.  I was beginning to feel a rhythm in my writing process. I felt inspired, eager to journal everyday events and memories. Now I feel like I’m starting over. So be it.

As the title of tonight’s blog suggests, time in May did seem to fly by. A bulleted list of some of May’s signficant events serve as memory markers for future posts. Here goes:

  1. After I finish my May 1st blog, I wait up to hear President Obama address the nation: Osama Bin Laden is dead!
  2. My aunt is hospitalized. I visit her a couple of times.
  3. My aunt is released. I visit her at home a couple of times.
  4. Mother’s Day I go to church and then get my nails done.
  5. I have a birthday and turn 61. How could I be 61? I am in denial.
  6. On my actual birthday (two days after Mother’s Day), my children and grandchildren come for pizza and cake for my birthday/Mother’s Day.
  7. My granddaughter, Ella, receives the sacraments of Confirmation and First Communion on the evening of May 11th.
  8. Frank and I attend the wedding of his niece/god-daughter on May 14th. Beautiful bride; fun time.
  9. On Monday, May 16th, I have to take a PTO day because my license expired on my birthday and I thought I had until the end of the month to renew. I spend time in everyone’s favorite place, the DMV.
  10. Since I am off anyway, I take a trip to the Blood lab to have multiple vials drawn in preparation for my upcoming yearly physical.
  11. The next day I have my yearly physical. I am pronounced in good health, but reminded that if I want to live to see my grandchildren grow up, I should work on taking off weight (my personal anthem).
  12. On the 12th, after work, I have a hair appointment. Holly, my hair dresser daughter-in-law is on maternity leave. Sandy fills in and is complicit with me in giving me more highlights, much to Holly’s chagrin. My plan is that the gray will eventually be blond (all the old women do that!)
  13. The evening of May 19th I attend the VIP reception for our newest store: “Blue, a Goodwill Boutique.” Fabulous, absolutely fabulous, AND I spend money.
  14. The next night, Friday, the 20th, I attend the wedding of my cousin’s daughter. Gorgeous bride; fun time. My cousin looks like Teresa Guidice from the Real Housewives of New Jersey. Carla and Giovanni are the bride and groom – you figure it out.
  15. The evening of the 21st, Val, Steve, Roz, Tom, Frank and I go out to celebrate my birthday. My choice is to see “Bridesmaids” with Kristin Wiig – loved it. Dinner afterwards at Romeo’s, a local Italian eatery. Then to Val and Steve’s for presents, cake and some Texas Hold ‘Em. Fun, fun night.
  16. Memorial Day weekend Frank and I do yard work. In between I am sick. We also go to Julie’s for Ella’s Communion/Confirmation party. Then we come home and do more yard work Sunday and Monday. We also rent “Social Network.” Since I am a Facebook junkie, I enjoy the movie.
  17. We are tired from all the yard work so we watch a lot of movies. We watch “Up” and some eighties “classics.” Last night we finish things off with “Despicable Me.”

And there you have it. Let’s not forget working, housecleaning, seeing one or more of my kids and grandkids, going to mass, making plans with Ginny to take Cameron to Washington in June, etc., etc.

My eighth grade teacher used to say, “Tempus Fugit,” Latin for “time flees.” It sure does. And, I notice as I get older, time goes faster and faster and I go slower and slower. That’s why blogging is good for me; it helps me remember, reflect and renew. The pursuit of quietness – the search for my authentic self lives.

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Boys will be boys, and what about the girls?

Like father, like son. This afternoon, I watched my 18-month old grandson, Daniel, play with miniature cars on my kitchen floor. The sounds of running cars that he made was unmistakably familiar.  It’s the sound all little kids make  — the one where you hum through your closed, but vibrating lips. It’s similar to a raspberry sound, but there is no spit — it’s almost a mumbled sound. I’m guessing his Daddy taught him all about it.

When Danny’s father was a toddler, his fascination with cars became clear. Bryan would sit for hours and amuse himself with his ever-growing collection of Matchbox cars. To this day, Bryan is an aficionado of all kinds of cars. He never misses the annual car show, and you can usually spot car magazines around his house. His dream is to own a 1961 powder-blue Corvette. He’s a pretty determined young man. I wouldn’t be surprised if he makes that dream come true one day. There were two toys my son loved — Matchbox cars and Legos. Daniel is still too young for Legos, but it will be interesting to see if he shows an interest when he’s a little older.

So, there I was on the kitchen floor, alone with Daniel, watching him absorbed in his play. I joined him in talking car. I picked up a car and made my best “zoom, zoom” noise as I pushed it around the chair and under the kitchen table. I made my “brrrrrbbbb” sound as close to his as possible. Danny looked up at me with those gorgeous brown eyes and long lashes, as if to say: “Moma, please just let me play with my cars, ok?” I fell into an instant daze as I thought about how in love I am in with this toddler. He has a “sturdy” build. There is no mistaking my family’s physical genes in this child. His hands have the same characteristic as most of us with Passaro blood. Large, meaty palms, fat fingers with an index finger that curves to the right as it lays along the third finger.

As I watch this little guy, I think about my Dad. He so loved his grandchildren. He died when they were all young. He did not get to see any of them graduate high school or college, get married and have children. His great-grandchildren number fifteen and growing. How proud he would be to see his legacy. Hopefully, he sees them from wherever he is and blesses them with his presence. And this latest little guy, less than two years on this earth, bears remarkable likeness to his great-grandfather.

My two other grandsons are much older, 16 and 12. It’s been years filled with girl after girl until Daniel came along. And this afternoon made me realize that little boys and girls, despite the generation, continue to socialize in a traditional way. I don’t remember playing cars with Ella, 8, Anna, 5 or Leah, Brynn and Charlotte (3, 2 and 2 ). These little princesses opt for other pursuits. They love their dolls, they follow their grandpa around like he was a god, and they talk incessantly! But, I think the difference extends to how they feel about the opposite gender. I love all my grands, but I notice the boys are sometimes more affectionate with me and the girls are more affectionate with their grandfather.

The little girls are crazy about their “Ta,” and the feeling is mutual in all six cases. The boys can make my heart melt with a smile and they know it. When the oldest, Mark, was a toddler, he spent a lot of time with us. It gave us the opportunity to form a special bond that I believe will never be broken. He’s a teenager now and I have to be careful how I choose my words or show my affection, but still, I can count on him to build me up, love me and generally be in my corner when I’m down. Then there’s Cameron, his younger brother. Cam and I have our special thing too. We are both middle children. We commiserate with one another about the woes of our birth order. He is a special kid, and I’m nuts about him too. He was a character when he was very young. He used to cheat in games all the time! I would always tell him, “cheaters never win and winners never cheat.” Not surprisingly, that stage passed without incidence. My guess is that he liked the attention his antics generated.

Last week, another little grandson arrived. Dylan Michael graced us on Tuesday, April 26, 2011, just after 5:30 p.m. EST. A week earlier, his cousin, Avery Jane, arrived to join her sister and the rest of her girl cousins. I’m guessing Avery will be like the other girls and idolize her grandfather. I’m hoping Dylan will be another grandma’s boy. Heck, I’ll buy as many cars as needed!

When I kissed Daniel on his head this afternoon, I said a little prayer of thanks to my Creator for all His blessings. There is absolutely nothing I would rather do than spend time with my family, especially these little people God brought me.

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You Can Always Go Downtown

There was a time in my life when I wished I lived somewhere else. So many of the people I’ve met personally and professionally are transplants to Rochester. Friends and family have moved away. How come I got stuck here? Thankfully, I don’t feel that way anymore. I love living here.

My city, Rochester, New York, is east of Buffalo, west of Syracuse and sits on the southern shore of Lake Ontario. We are part of the beautiful Finger Lakes region. The Genesee River, which flows north, bisects the city. And, although we are a melting pot of diverse cultures and thinking, a parochial attitude persists about which side of the river offers the best living. If you live here, you know what I’m talking about. If you don’t, enough said. I’ve lived on both sides of the river, and frankly, I think it’s all nonsense.

We complain about our gray skies, but we are pretty lucky to be spared the worst of mother nature’s wrath. We get snow and lots of it, but we don’t have to worry about hurricanes, tornadoes, floods, earthquakes and the like.

Today’s weather was spectacular!  With something less than an average of 70 sunny days per year, we tend to get a little crazy when the sun shines. Moods soar, energy is abundant. My windows were wide open today, and the sound of lawnmowers was music to my ears.

Frank was gone all day with our granddaughter, Ella. I enjoyed my alone time. The last few weeks have been pretty busy, and I spent much of the day cleaning. With the sun shining through the windows, cleaning was more a labor of love than a dreaded task.

This afternoon, my sister, Donna, my friends, Roz and Tom, and I connected and decided to meet downtown for dinner. Our destination, Alladin’s Natural Eatery on Monroe Avenue, specializes in Mediterranean cuisine. I ordered the Souvlaki plate. Yum, delicious, a personal favorite. Tom chose Melanzagna (vegetable lasagna made with eggplant). Donna chose Verdura (a pasta dish with veggies and shrimp) and Roz copied me with Souvlaki :).

Since it was such a beautiful evening, we lingered outside after dinner and continued our banter. The street was alive with activity. Local businesses were open, and store signs invited passersby to stop in. We stood between the restaurant and a smoke shop. We could see into the shop, and we noticed lots of interesting items for sale. We joked about going in to shop. All of us grew up in the City, and the sights and sounds around us revived our spirits. It was a great feeling.

I absolutely love being downtown. I grew up in the city, and like most, have lived most of my adult life in the suburbs. I work downtown. All of my jobs, except for one, have been downtown. I remember riding the bus downtown in the seventies. The ride afforded me thinking or reading time. There were no cell phones or Ipods in those days. Lots of interesting people rode the bus. I felt connected to a bigger world.

Tom said he’d consider moving to a downtown condo and I agreed. We would be walking distance to theaters, fabulous restaurants and, of course, Frontier Field, the home of the Red Wings, the Triple-A affiliate of the Minnesota Twins. And let’s not forget our Public Market, now a popular tourist attraction, but a place I frequented as a child with my father where he purchased produce and wholesale food for his grocery store.

It’s not always easy to “unplug” from the chaos that is my life. It’s mostly good chaos, but nonetheless, it is chaos. That’s why today was so special. It was quiet, the weather was spectacular, and the City I have always called home, held me close.

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Why You Are Special in God’s Eyes and Mine…..a love letter

My granddaughter, Ella June, is preparing to receive the sacraments of Confirmation and First Communion. She asked her Ta (grandpa) to be her sponsor. Tomorrow Ta and Ella will attend an all-day retreat as part of her preparation. Special people in Ella’s life were asked to write her a letter affirming our feelings for her as a child of God.

I just wrote my letter. It’s late and the house is quiet. I am writing to a precocious 8-year old, and I considered, briefly, just how and what I should write that would be meaningful enough to provoke thought and reflection on her part. Fortunately, I decided to let my fingers type whatever came to my mind. I am happy with the letter and, since I am saving my blogs for my family, I decided to make it a blog entry.

April, 2011

Dear Ella Bella,

I love to call you Bella, because it’s the Italian word for beautiful, and you are a very beautiful girl.

You are my first granddaughter and that makes you pretty special. You are always going to have all your girl cousins looking up to you. Anna Rose always wants to do whatever you do because she loves you so much. Just like I do.

I love so many things about you, I probably couldn’t fit them all on this page, but let me tell you some of them.

I love that you are such a Princess. Ta taped the Royal Wedding for me, and I will save it because I think you would love to see the new Princess. She is almost as pretty as you are.

I love you because you love all your babies so much. Chrissa, Kit and all your other dolls are very special to you. And, you take such good care of them.

I love you because you love your family so much and especially Ta, because he is very special to me too.

I love you because you love to dance and have me make a movie of you.

I love you because you love Justin Bieber as much as I do.

I love you because you love to dress up and be “girly.”

I love you because you talk a lot and it reminds me of Aunt Amy, who is also special to me.

I love you because it feels wonderful when you sleep over and climb up in my lap, or when you are scared and want to come and sleep with me.

There are so many other reasons I love you, but most of all, I love you because you are a special person that God made and brought into my life.

I will always be your Moma and will always be there for you anytime and anywhere you need me.

All my love forever and always,

Moma

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Hippity-Hop Lazy Easter Monday

A couple of weeks ago I decide to take a vacation day today, anticipating feeling fatigued from Easter Sunday entertaining. Good decision. Except fatigue is more like exhaustion! I sometimes forget that at almost 61, I don’t have the same level of energy I did in my thirties, forties and even fifties. Then add my ever-growing family to the mix. Stir in my sister and her entire family, and you’ve got twenty people, a houseful! Granted, four are very little people, but still.  And, my two sons and their families are spending Easter with their in-laws so the crowd isn’t as big at it would be with full attendance.

This morning I sleep in. I awake at seven and realize I don’t need to get up. I resist the urge to look at my Blackberry. Frank leaves early for his part-time job. I pull the comforter up to my neck. It feels wonderful as I snuggle in for a couple more hours of sleep. Except that when I wake the second time, I am groggy and even more sleepy. I put off, as long as possible, the idea that I need to pull back the covers, plant my feet on the floor and get up. The old Newton’s first law — a body at rest tends to stay at rest! If you know me well, you know I love to sleep. Today is no exception, except that being in bed  while the rest of the world goes back to work and school feels deliciously indulgent!

Eventually, I decide to rise and shine. Well, to rise anyway. I shuffle into the bathroom. I turn on the shower and wait for the water to warm. I step in and feel the water flow over me lovingly. It is a wonderful feeling. It is, finally, the antidote to my sleepiness. I finish my shower, get dressed, dry my hair and head downstairs for some morning joe. I sit at the kitchen table, expanded to full size with leaves to accommodate yesterday’s crowd. I find myself daydreaming about long dinner tables in movies and television shows. The tables owned by the very rich, where a butler or maid, serves coffee and breakfast. Mr. and Mrs. practically shout to one another from one end of the table to the other. Nice fantasy. I read Sunday’s paper, mostly interested in the soft news. I don’t want to ruin my fantasy with reminders of what’s going on in the world.

I call to check on the status of my car in the shop. Still not ready. Stuck here with no wheels. Too bad, or is it? I talk to my friend, Ginny, for a few minutes about an upcoming plan to travel to Washington with my grandson. Then I head up to my office.

I sit at my computer, wrapped in a cocoon of quietness and safety. Too chilly to open windows, the outside sounds are muffled. The only sounds I hear are the chimes of the grandfather clock in the foyer and the wall clocks I have in my kitchen and great room. I love the ticking and chiming sounds of clocks.

I spend the better part of the next several hours reading other people’s blogs. There is so much good stuff out in cyberspace. Making new friends through my blog. People who share similar feelings and muse about life and its meaning.  Despite the negativity sometimes associated with the Internet, I continue to be amazed at the amount of goodness I read on other blogs.

People from all parts of the world share their thoughts and feelings through blogging. This sharing may bring comfort and enlightenment to others at a time of need. Of course, I am not naïve enough to think that there are so many that write about hatred and evil. But I have a free will, and I choose to seek out those who write with goodness, kindness, patience, humility, sadness, integrity, honor, and love.

I take a short break from my web reading to watch YouTube videos. My grandson, Cam, after spending last night and today with his grandfather, stops here before returning home. Cam and I decide to watch silly YouTube videos. There is one he especially likes which we’ve watched together the last few years at Easter time. I share it with you today. Perhaps you’ve seen it, but go ahead and indulge yourself and watch it again!

Relaxation replaces exhaustion as I continue my web surfing. I cannot think of a better way to pursue quietness than I have on this Easter Monday. It makes me wish tomorrow was also a vacation day!

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My Journey of Faith, Hope and Doubt

Holy Week is, for Roman Catholics, the holiest week of the year.  It is the time when we prepare for the full celebration of the Paschal Mystery.  Liturgically, we celebrate and make present the events of the Passion, Death and Resurrection of Our Lord Jesus Christ.

And, although Holy Week held special meaning for me this year, it didn’t start that way. I missed mass on Palm Sunday. My excuse was that I had to attend a bridal shower at 11 a.m.  Not a good excuse, either, since there are Saturday night or even Sunday night masses. Spotty attendance at mass is typical behavior for me the last few years. I think some of the more conservative Catholics would call me a “cafeteria Catholic.” Yet, I feel as Catholic as people who never miss mass. Being Catholic is the essence of my being. I can’t imagine not being Catholic.

On Tuesday at 5:30 p.m. my ninth grandchild, Avery Jane, was born. At a little over six pounds, she is the latest proof for me of God’s grace. Holding Avery just minutes after she was born made me wonder what God was trying to tell me.

Back in January, when I began blogging, I wrote Moving Forward  and Joy. In my pursuit of quietness, sorting out my feelings about being Catholic and wanting to feel the presence of God are probably the most important work I have left to do in my lifetime. In writing these two blogs, I began my conversation with God about my faith and my doubt.

I wanted to do some Lenten reading this year. “Being Catholic Now: Prominent Americans Talk About Change in the Church and the Quest for Meaning,” was the book I chose. Actually, my brother read it and suggested it. He and I spend hours talking about our faith and the pursuit of meaning. I bought the book at the beginning of Lent. It sat on my night table until Tuesday night when Avery was born. I began reading it that night. It was a good choice and reading it this week was perfect.

Reading “Being Catholic” speaks to my intellect and my curiosity. The writers take issue with many of the Church’s practices. Yet, I am amazed by the consistency of the writers’ basic beliefs about the meaning of Catholicism. Social justice, taking care of the poor and doing good works are clear in all of their writings, even for those who no longer consider themselves practicing Catholics. I wonder if conservative Catholics approve of the essay collection. The writers are open and honest about their feelings, good and bad. Yet each writer seems somehow still connected to their Catholic roots and the teachings of the Church seem to have informed their world view.

On Holy Thursday, I attended the mass of the Lord’s Supper at Sacred Heart Cathedral with my friend, Belinda and her husband, John. It was beautiful and rich in the traditions I love. It amazes me that I can question my faith and yet be so moved by the sight of the Bishop washing the feet of twelve people during mass. The liturgy was beautiful. The music gave me chills. Over coffee after mass, we talked. I wondered if my love for rituals and ceremony was superficial, if somehow loving the pomp and circumstance made me shallow. Belinda responded, “good liturgy builds up faith.” She’s right.

Tonight I joined Belinda, John and their family for the The Great Vigil at Sacred Heart Cathedral. I can hardly believe that I was in church from 7:30 until almost 11! That’s a record I think. I don’t even know where to begin to describe the events I witnessed during the liturgy. I was, at first, struck by the diversity of the congregation. As the Bishop said during the homily, all the continents were represented in that church tonight.

We  began outside with the Blessing of the Easter Fire and the lighting of the Easter Candle. Each of us held a candle, lit from the Easter Fire. We processed back into Church with music and prayer. The light came mostly from the candles as the Cathedral lights were dimmed.

For the first time in my life I watched as nine people of all ages were baptized by immersion. I happened to be standing in the back by Bishop Clark. He was standing next to me when he took off his outer robe and made his way into the water. One by one, each candidate stepped into the pool and knelt in the water as the Bishop poured water over them. One little girl, probably about nine years old, looked absolutely angelic as she looked up to the Bishop’s face, a huge smile on her face. I cried. The last names of these people reflected the universality of the church: Chantra, Moroz, Hsi, Kothor, Maviogha, Quiles, Sherwin, Sherwood and Ulom.

The sacraments of Confirmation and First Communion were also received by this group and others previously baptized and now welcomed as full faith members.

As the rest of the congregation waited for the newly baptized and the Bishop to return to the church (in dry clothes!), we renewed our own Baptismal promises and were invited to the pool to bless ourselves with the Holy Water. I stuck my entire right arm in the warm water. It felt wonderful. I blessed myself with the Sign of the Cross and wiped the remaining water all over myself.

So, it is with a peaceful and joyous feeling that I write this blog in the very early hours of Easter Sunday. I am feeling okay about my ambivalence, about my curiosity, about my love for ritual, about everything Catholic. I feel renewed in my faith. I feel close to God. I am thankful for Jesus. I love the gifts I have been given. This faith journey is one I am glad to be taking.

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Cheers for Friends

There are at least four 31 gallon Rubbermaid storage boxes full of pictures in my house. A collection of photos from my life tucked away and mostly forgotten. Every few years, typically after some life-changing event, these bins are dragged out. We pull out stacks at a time, remembering each for the memory it evokes (that’s for you Joan). A yellowed black and white print of me and my siblings, a Polaroid snapshot from my teens, First Communion pictures, Confirmation pictures, graduation pictures, wedding pictures, party pictures. Memories of good times and sad times, waiting to be organized for posterity.

I wish I had the time to go through those storage boxes today. There are no pictures included with my story tonight. Yet, the expression, “a picture paints a thousand words” most definitely is true for this post. And since, I don’t have the pictures at hand, this post is a bit longer than most.

Today I attended the memorial mass and reception of my old friend, Tom Coffey, the husband of my lifelong friend, Joan. It was a reserved,  dignified service, fitting the quiet man affectionately known to many of us as “T.C.” His three sons were on the altar during his eulogy, given by his oldest son, Jeffrey. Jeffrey and my son, Bryan, played together as toddlers. This year they will turn 35. Where have the years gone?

Two pews of us connected to Tom and Joan sat together. Among the group, I was happy my husband, Frank sat next to me. Joan, Frank and I attended St. Andrew’s together. My son, Bryan, sat to my other side. Behind us sat Patti and Ginny, also from our childhood at St. Andrew’s.

Here we were, back in the beautiful church of our childhood. The church where Joan and I received the sacraments of First Communion and Confirmation. The church where our eighth grade graduation was celebrated. The church where we spent hours and hours as children. The church where Tom and Joan were married. She was Tom’s wife for almost forty-one years. I was Joan‘s maid of honor when they married all those years ago.

There was another time in this church we remembered today. Back in eighth grade, a bunch of us planned a trip downtown to tour WBBF-AM radio. We were beyond excited. It was 1964 and The Beatles rocked our world. There we were on a Friday afternoon during Lent, six or seven of us lined up in our pew at Church, as we waited for the Stations of the Cross to begin. Every Friday in Lent ended with Stations and Benediction. Our small, red “Stations of the Cross” prayerbook in hand, we waited impatiently for things to get rolling. Sadly, the suffering of Jesus Christ was not top of mind for this gaggle of silly girls. Our friend, Roz, a Ringo fan, decided to trace his name on her book, with her finger mind you, not a pen!  Suddenly our teacher, St. Edwardine, was at the end of our pew! Oh no! Roz had to stay after stations as punishment. We felt bad. Yet today, we laughed that we didn’t feel bad enough to stick around and wait for her. We bolted out of church to get to the bus stop. I can’t swear to it, but part of me suspects that Joan may have started our sacrilegious behavior that afternoon. She was often the instigator of our unacceptable antics.

After mass at the reception, we watched Joan as she visited one table and then another. Whenever she could, Joan came over to our table. She joined our reminiscing with her own special brand of storytelling. Patti remembered us cleaning the church during school lunch hour. We felt so holy and special. Joan, always the spitfire, reminded us that we dawdled in church instead of getting back to class. Joan was always mischievous. That’s one of the things I love about her.

I spent many days after school at Joan’s house. We did our homework sometimes, but more often we spent time in her bedroom thinking about ways to get glamorous and find boys to like us. One time we decided that we were too flat-chested and we needed to remedy the situation. The Mark Eden bust developer was a device marketed on TV and sold by mail order. It promised to enlarge a woman’s breasts. Joan and I had to have the device. We concocted a plan to have it shipped to her house so that no one would ever find us out. When it finally arrived, we furtively snuck up to her room. One of us took a turn, trying to push the ridiculously difficult pink contraption together in our hands, while the other watched to be sure we didn’t get caught. This regimen didn’t last long — it was way too much work. I wonder whatever happened to the bust developer. Knowing Joan, I wouldn’t be surprised if it’s in a box somewhere in her house.

I have so many more stories to tell about my antics with Joan. We were inseparable all through high school. We did such silly and innocent things. We were beyond naïve. We dressed up as nuns one day (Halloween costumes made by my mother for my sister and me). We drove around in Joan’s ’58 Chevy and waved to people. People actually thought we were nuns (or so we thought).

Ginny, Joan and I worked at Rochester Bakery when we were in high school.  Sunday mornings were always the busiest and we were all scheduled to work. Inevitably, one of us got stuck in the back filling jelly donuts, putting donuts on trays, glazing kuchens or stacking the freshly baked Italian bread. The three of us had a secret code word to let whoever was stuck in back know that a cute guy was in the store. One of us would go to the door to the back, swing it open and shout, “LIST!” We had to shout because of the oven noise. On cue, the girl in the back dashed to the front of the store in less than 10 seconds. Sunday mornings were the best time to work because the guys from the National Guard armory always came in. I wonder if any of them were on to us. They were always older than us, and I’m guessing by their flirtatious responses to our, “May I help you?” they knew exactly what we were up to.

A lifetime of memories to share. But, what struck me most today was watching my friend, Joan. Her poise and grace moved me. It was bittersweet to watch Joan in church and at the reception today.  Her sister and some of her other friends said she lives in la-la land. That’s because she treasures every moment of her life. She is the best to reminisce with because she remembers every detail.  She is a throwback to our mothers’ generation. She is so much the same girl I knew when we were kids. She looks the same as always and yet, I saw a beauty in her I’ve never noticed before. I saw the visage of a woman whose wisdom is gained from living through life’s happiest and most sorrowful times.  She was a good wife. She believed in the vows of marriage and stood by her husband long after most of us were on to new lives and new husbands. Her love for her three handsome sons and their families is clearly evident. She gushed over her granddaughter, Lucy Rose, who is under two. She hugged and kissed everyone with sincere emotion.

How lucky am I to know her. What a blessing that she has been part of my life since we were five years old. As she and I used to say in our school notes to each other, “Cheers for Friends!”

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