I’m back in the game and ready to make you laugh… stay tuned!
I haven’t been blogging for a while because I have been going through some very trying times with one of my sons.
It has been heart wrenching, draining and all-consuming.
A mother’s love NEVER gives up.
I wanted to share a passage with my boys from one of my favorite books, The Greatest Miracle in the World by Og Mandino. I feel the message is something that every teenager needs to hear. I knew that it would be difficult for them to read and understand, so I rewrote the passage as an act of love.
The truth is that the message below is for all of us.
Please share it with your loved ones and your children… with anyone who is struggling with depression, loneliness, being bullied, feeling worthless or having thoughts of suicide.
This will always be, in my opinion, one of the most life changing messages you will ever read.
From: God (Your higher power, the universe or however you perceive God)
Know this, I hear your cry.
It passes through the darkness, filters through the clouds, mingles with starlight, and finds its way to my heart on the path of a sunbeam.
I have anguished over your pain and your cry.
Know that I hear you.
Be at peace.
I bring relief to your sorrow for I know its cause… and its cure.
The passing years have filled your mind with fear and doubt and anxiety and remorse and hate. There is little room for joyful memories where these beasts habitate.
Cry no more.
I am with you.
Let me share with you, again, the secret you heard at birth and forgot.
You are my greatest miracle.
You are the greatest miracle in the world.
Those were the first words you ever heard. Then you cried. They all cry.
You did not believe me then… and you do not believe me now.
How could you be a miracle when you have made mistakes, when you have lacked confidence and when you have failed?
I still love you.
You have been told that you are special, that you have infinite possibilities and gifts… like an angel in action, you are divinity in disguise.
You have been told that you are the salt of the earth.
You were given the secret to move mountains, to perform the impossible.
You didn’t believe me.
The consequences of your own thoughts and deeds lead you to look for a scapegoat on which to blame your failure.
You blamed me.
You were wrong.
Let us take inventory of your blessings.
Are you blind?
No. You can see… and the hundred million receptors I have placed in your eyes enable you to enjoy the magic of a leaf, a snowflake, a pond, an eagle, a child, a cloud, a star, a rose, a rainbow… and the look of love.
Count one blessing.
Are you deaf?
No. You can hear… and the twenty-four thousand fibers I have built in each of your ears vibrate to the wind in the trees, the tides on the rocks, the majesty of music, a robin’s song, children at play… and the words I love you.
Count another blessing.
Are you mute?
No. You can speak… as can no other of my creatures and your words can calm the angry, uplift the despondent, inspire the quitter, cheer the unhappy, warm the lonely, praise the worthy, encourage the defeated, teach the struggling student… and say I love you.
Count another blessing.
Are you paralyzed?
No. You can move. You can stretch and run and dance and work, for within you I have designed five hundred muscles, two hundred bones, and seven miles of nerve fiber all synchronized by me so you can move.
Count another blessing.
Are you unloved and unloving?
No. No more. Love’s greatest secret is, to receive love it must be given with no thought of its return. To love for fulfillment, satisfaction, or pride is not love. Love is a gift on which no return is demanded. Now you know that to love unselfishly is its own reward. And even if love is not returned it is not lost, for love not reciprocated will flow back to you and soften and purify your heart.
Count another blessing.
Is your heart weak?
No. Your heart is strong. Touch your chest and feel its rhythm, pulsating, hour after hour, day and night, thirty-six million beats each year, asleep or awake, pumping blood through more than sixty thousand miles of veins, arteries, and tubing… pumping more than six hundred thousand gallons each year. Man has never created such a machine.
Count another blessing.
Do you have a skin disease?
No. Your skin is a marvel of creation, you need only wash it with soap and water. In time all steels tarnish and rust, but not your skin. Eventually the strongest of metals will wear, with use, but not the layer of skin that I have constructed around you. Constantly it renews itself, old cells replaced by new, just as the old you, replaced by the new. Everyday a new day to reinvent yourself.
Count another blessing.
Are you unable to breathe?
No. Your lungs are the portholes to life. They support you even in the vilest environments and they labor always to filter life-giving oxygen through six hundred million pockets of folded flesh while they rid your body of gaseous wastes.
Count another blessing.
Do you have blood poisoning?
No. Within your five quarts of blood are twenty-two trillion blood cells and within each cell are millions of molecules and within each molecule is an atom oscillating at more than ten million times each second. Each second, two million of your blood cells die to be replaced by two million more in a resurrection that has continued since your birth.
Count another blessing.
Are you feeble of mind?
No. You can think for yourself. Your brain is the most complex structure in the universe. I know. Within its three pounds are thirteen billion nerve cells, more than three times as many as there are people on earth. To help you file every perception, every sound, every taste, every smell, every action you have experienced since the day of your birth, I have implanted, within your cells, more than one thousand billion protein molecules. Every incident in your life is there waiting only your recall. And, to assist your brain in the control of your body I have dispersed, throughout your form, four million pain-sensitive structures, five hundred thousand touch detectors, and more than two hundred thousand temperature detectors. You are my finest creation.
Count your blessings.
Are you poor?
No. You are rich! Together we have just counted your wealth. Study the list. Count your blessings again and tally your assets!
If you have answered yes to any of the above questions, know that I have given you countless more blessings for the above blessings that you lack.
You have talent, abilities, pleasures, instincts, sensations, pride and hope.
You have the power to change your life.
You have so much. Your blessings overflow from your cup for I have bestowed them upon you with much generosity and regularity.
What rich man, old and sick, feeble and helpless, would not exchange all the gold in his vault for the blessings you take so lightly?
Never in all the seventy billion humans who have walked this planet since the beginning of time has there been another exactly like you.
Never, until the end of time, will there be another such as you.
You don’t understand or appreciate your uniqueness.
Yet, you are the rarest thing in the world.
From your father, in his moment of supreme love, flowed countless seeds of love, more than four hundred million in number. All of them swam within your mother, gave up the chase and died.
All except one. You!
You alone persevered within the loving warmth of your mother’s body, searching for your other half, a single cell from your mother so small that more than two million would be necessary to fill an acorn shell. Yet, despite impossible odds, in that vast ocean of darkness, you persevered, found the minuscule cell, joined with it, and began a new life.
Two cells now united in a miracle.
Two cells, each containing twenty-three chromosomes and within each chromosome hundreds of genes, which would govern every characteristic about you, from the color of your eyes to the charm of your manner, to the size of your brain.
With all the combinations at my command, beginning with that single sperm from your father’s four hundred million, through the hundreds of genes in each of the chromosomes from your mother and father, I could have created three hundred thousand billion humans, each different from the other.
But who did I bring forth?
One of a kind.
Rarest of rare.
A priceless treasure, possessed of qualities in mind and speech and movement and appearance and actions as no other who has ever lived, lives, or shall live.
Why do you value yourself in pennies when you are worth a fortune?
Why do you listen to others who bully you and put you down, and why do you believe them?
No longer hide your rarity in the dark.
Bring it forth.
Show the world.
Don’t strive to be like your friends. Never imitate others. Be yourself. Show your rarity to the world and they will shower you with gold.
For all the rules and speeches and scriptures on success and how to attain it, only one method has never failed… Go the extra mile.
The only certain means of success is to render more and better service than is expected of you, no matter what the task may be. This is a habit that has been followed by all successful people since the beginning of time. The surest way to doom yourself to mediocrity is to perform only the work for which you are paid.
Go the extra mile.
Don’t think you are being cheated if you deliver more than the small portion you receive. There is a pendulum to all of life and the sweat you deliver, if not rewarded today, the pendulum will swing back tomorrow and deliver tenfold.
The mediocre never go the extra mile. If you only do as little as others, the responsibility for your failure is yours alone.
Do not be concerned if you serve an ungrateful boss. Serve him more. Go the extra mile.
You cannot command success, you can only deserve it.
To count your blessings with gratitude, to proclaim your rarity with pride, to go the extra mile and then another, these acts are not accomplished in the blink of an eye.
Be patient with yourself and your progress.
Things that you acquire with the most difficulty you retain the longest; just as those who have worked to earn a fortune are more careful with it than those whom inherit one.
Be proud. You are not the momentary whim of a careless creator. You are a manifestation of no force but mine, of no love but mine.
You were made for a purpose.
I have never lost faith in you and I made no further effort to improve on you.
For how could I improve on a miracle?
You were a marvel to behold and I was pleased. I gave you this world and dominion over it. Then, to enable you to reach your full potential I placed my hand upon you and endowed you with powers unknown to any other creature in the universe, even unto this day.
I gave you the power to think.
I gave you the power to love.
I gave you the power to will.
I gave you the power to laugh.
I gave you the power to imagine.
I gave you the power to create.
I gave you the power to plan.
I gave you the power to speak.
I gave you the power to pray.
My pride in you knows no bounds. You are my ultimate creation.
My greatest miracle.
A complete living being.
One who can adjust to any climate, any hardship, any challenge. One who can manage his own destiny without any interference from me. One who can translate a sensation or perception, not by instinct, but by thought and deliberation into whatever action is best for himself and all humanity.
I gave you one more power.
A power so great that not even my angels possess it.
I gave you the power to choose.
With this gift, I placed you even above my angels… for angels are not free to choose sin.
I gave you complete control over your destiny. I asked you to determine for yourself, your own nature by exerting your own free will. You are free to fashion yourself in whatever form you prefer. You have the power to choose to degenerate into the lowest forms of life, and also the power, out of your soul’s judgement, to evolve into your highest form, which is divine.
What have you done with this tremendous force?
Look at yourself.
Think of the choices you have made in your life and recall, now, those bitter moments you would have fallen to your knees if only you had the opportunity to choose again.
Use wisely your power of choice.
Choose to love… rather than hate.
Choose to laugh… rather than cry.
Choose to create… rather than destroy.
Choose to persevere… rather than quit.
Choose to praise… rather than gossip.
Choose to heal… rather than wound.
Choose to give… rather than steal.
Choose to act… rather than procrastinate.
Choose to grow… rather than stagnate.
Choose to pray… rather than curse.
Choose to live… rather than die.
Now you know that your misfortunes were not my will, the power of your actions and thoughts, and their outcomes were your doing, not mine. My gifts of power were too great for your small nature. Now you have grown both taller and wiser and the fruits of all your positive efforts will be yours.
You are more than a human being.
You are a human becoming.
You are capable of great wonders.
Your potential is unlimited.
Who else, among my creatures, has mastered fire?
Who else, among my creatures, has conquered gravity, has traveled through space, overcome disease, famine, floods, hurricanes and droughts?
Never demean yourself again!
Never settle for the crumbs of life!
Never hide your talents, from this day forward.
Remember, a child says, “When I am big.”
A teenager says, “When I grow up.”
A grownup says, “When I get married.”
An adult says, “When I retire.”
And then, retirement comes and you look back over your life and somehow it seems you have missed it and its gone.
Enjoy this day, today… and tomorrow, tomorrow.
But just as before… you can choose failure and despair or success and happiness.
The choice is yours. The choice is exclusively yours. I can only watch, as before… in pride… or sorrow.
Remember to always count your blessings, proclaim your rarity, go the extra mile and use wisely your power of choice.
And one more thing… do all things with love… love for yourself, love for all others, and love for me.
Now wipe away your tears.
Reach out, grasp my hand and stand straight.
And always remember…
YOU ARE THE GREATEST MIRACLE IN THE WORLD!
I was over my mom’s house the other day and we were looking in a closet to find a box containing some ace bandages.
Mom: “Erin, try that box on the left.”
I pulled the box down off of the upper shelf and opened it.
Mom: “What is it?”
Me: “It’s an over-sized sterling silver butter dish, still wrapped in the original tissue paper.”
Mom: “Oh, that was a wedding gift. We never used it.”
Me: (Laughing) “Well, that’s pretty obvious… either that or you have some serious OCD!”
The whole situation got me thinking about what makes a good wedding gift. What makes the difference between the wedding gift that’s still in the box when you’re 83 years old and the wedding gift you can’t wait to use?
I think the answer is two-fold: practicality and comfort. I know money is practical and gives you the ability to buy whatever you want, but the comfort part of having money only lasts until you spend it.
My mother and father received a wedding gift that not only met the above criteria, but also provided a story that would live on for decades to come.
Back in 1957 when my mom and dad got married, an electric blanket was a luxury.
My parents were lucky enough to get an electric blanket for a wedding gift. It had dual controls and was top of the line.
Newly married and facing their first brisk night, they unpacked their brand new electric blanket and placed it on their bed.
After they each set their respective controls for their personal temperature preference, they slid under the covers anxious to sleep coddled in warmth and comfort.
My mom was a bit chilly.
She quickly adjusted her control to a higher temperature and waited for the heavenly warmth to kick in.
My dad, liking his bed warm but not too hot turned the dial on his control down a bit.
My parents both closed their eyes and tried to drift off to sleep only to be awakened at fifteen to twenty-minute intervals to adjust the temperature controls on their side of the bed.
The night of uncomfortable, restless sleep ensued as my parents tossed and turned adjusting their controllers for the blanket they were both so excited to own.
My mother turned hers up and my father turned his down.
Finally, my dad said, “I can’t sleep, I’m sweating. It’s sweltering under these covers!”
“Sweltering?” My mother replied, “I’m freezing! I don’t think this blanket works.”
“You can’t be serious?” My father asked, as he got up to turn on the light.
After checking if my mother’s cord to the electric blanket was plugged into the wall outlet, both connections to the base of electric blanket and the settings on each dial, they stared at each other and began to laugh uncontrollably.
“We have each other’s control, don’t we?” My mother asked with a smirk.
“Yes, we do.” My dad replied, shaking his head.
I don’t think that my parents got much sleep that night, but I do know they shared their ability to laugh at themselves, as well as this story for years to come.
In the long run, sleep is overrated anyway.
Join me for part 5: Adding Children Ups The Craziness Ante…
I have some things spiraling out of control in my life right now. I’m not sure if the spiral is going down or up… but I’m thinking that all great change comes after the worst upheaval.
I also believe that even when bad things happen, God uses those very things to propel us to our highest purpose.
No worries, I’m hanging in there and of course, keeping my sense of humor.
My parent’s first Christmas together presented one major problem.
My father picked out the Christmas tree the first year my mother and father were married. A tree like the ones he had grown up with.
My mother: “That’s the tree you picked out?”
My dad: “Yes, isn’t it beautiful?”
My mother: (laughing) “That tree looks like a Charlie Brown Christmas tree.”
My dad: “What do you mean? That’s the kind of tree we always had growing up.”
My mother: “Seriously? We never had a tree like that. We always had a full Christmas tree.”
Often, people who fall in love come from different experiences. This can be a stumbling block, or just a lesson in compromise and the perseverance it takes to make things work.
Let’s face it, what you love, is what you know… especially when it comes to your childhood memories, the way certain meals are prepared, or even your taste in decorating.
Yet, some of these things, like the style of your Christmas tree, can create an argument larger than who left the cap off of the toothpaste or how someone could forget to put the toilet seat down.
Not for my parents.
My mother went out and bought the fullest Christmas tree on the lot… what she had known as a child. She stood the tree in a stand and decorated it.
My father kept his Christmas tree up and decorated it.
The first year of their marriage, my parents proudly displayed two fresh Christmas trees in their small apartment.
One, a Charlie Brown Christmas tree, as my mother had called it… with sparse branches that hung towards the floor with the weight of the ornaments… this was the tree of a hard-working mailman, the father of eight.
The other, a full-bodied tree, with thick, rich branches. Reminiscent of the tree bought by the father of two, an appliance repairman.
When my sister and I came along, my parents celebrated Christmas every year with an artificial tree.
When we begged for a real tree, we learned of their differences and all about their first Christmas together. My parents laughed as they told us the story.
Growing up, we never got to have a real tree but we learned about the power of compromise and the importance of having a sense of humor.
For me, I tell this story with pride.
It has shaped my compassion, as well as, my ability to compromise and take another person’s feelings into account when you have a difference of opinion.
And you know what else?
My parents had another tradition that trumped my longing for the smell of a freshly cut Christmas tree in my childhood home.
On Christmas eve, Santa not only brought the presents, he brought and decorated the Christmas tree.
Every Christmas morning, my sister and I woke up to see our Christmas tree for the first time. The twinkling lights would shine on the dimly lit hallway wall as we made our way to the living room. The first glimpse of our Christmas tree took my breath away and I was just as excited about the tree as I was about the presents that were under it.
It was truly magical!
As an adult, I know that my parents spent many late Christmas Eve’s placing color coded branches into the base of our artificial tree, stringing lights, putting up ornaments and assembling bikes into the wee hours of the morning. They sacrificed their sleep and most likely their sanity, to give us the most memorable and exciting Christmas morning any child could ever dream of.
I wouldn’t trade those memories for the world.
My parents are really special, amazing people.
But I know at this point I don’t have to tell you that.
There are always more stories and more laughter to come…
Join me for Part 5: My parents favorite wedding gift… well, maybe most misunderstood wedding gift…
True to form, Ed was late picking Jean up for their first date to the movies.
The lights were low and the movie had already started, as Jean and Ed made their way, taking small sideways steps past the knees of the seated patrons.
Self-conscious about blocking the view of everyone seated, who were already watching the movie, Jean nervously glanced back to see what was taking Ed so long to make his way down the dimly lit aisle.
Ed seemed to be moving at a slow pace, as the woman’s head in the row in front of him jerked to the right.
Jean heard a gasp escape from the woman’s throat.
Ed stopped in his tracks, trying to figure out why the woman had groaned.
Moviegoers in the seats behind expressed their disdain by yelling, “sit down.”
The woman’s long hair was caught in the fly of Ed’s pants.
Ed fumbled to release her hair.
“Oh God, Is this really happening!” thought all of the parties involved.
But it was happening.
Ed struggled to free the entwined hair from his fly as the movie played on.
Finally, he managed to free himself (and the woman’s hair) from the grip of the zipper on his pants and take his seat next to his date.
For most people this would have been the first, and last date, not to mention a story that would live on in infamy.
For my mother and father, it was the beginning of many embarrassing, funny, unbelievable stories that they wholeheartedly embraced as part of the love story that was unique to them… and one that they would tell for years to come.
Join me for Part 3: My parent’s first Christmas together.
One of John’s friends is a college writing professor and a published author. He told John that my blog is both funny and well written… that’s quite a compliment, especially coming from him. I’ll take it, but truth be told, I can’t take all of the credit. I believe that a good sense of humor is hereditary, you get it from your parents.
My mother’s name is Jean. She is a beautiful, blonde haired, blue-eyed Polish girl, really a knock-out. My mother was introduced to my father by their mutual friend Jack. (Yes, for those of you following my blog, Jack is the man who told John, “Johnny, Johnny, Johnny, you’ll never be bored!”) and the inspiration for a four-part series by the same name, as well as the reason I started this blog.
The first time my parents were supposed to meet, my father, Ed, arrived late (which was his trademark, and apparently an imperfection that I have also whole-heartily embraced during my lifetime). Ed was a handsome, fit, dark-haired, brown-eyed, serviceman in the United States Army.
His best friend, Jack, brought my father to Jean’s house but due to his late arrival, no one was home.
My grandparents owned a cabin on the lake in Ridgefield, Connecticut. When my father failed to show up on time, my grandmother announced they were going to leave for the lake, and they did. My grandmother wasn’t waiting for my father to get there and she made it clear that Jean wasn’t staying behind at home.
Jack was a good friend to my dad and a natural match-maker. When no one was home at Jean’s house, they got back in the car and headed to Ridgefield.
I believe that this was the night that my mother and father fell in love.
Ed and Jean spent their evening walking around the lake holding hands and talking. This was the beginning of a whirlwind romance. The chemistry was so amazing that my father asked my mother out to the movies. They were the perfect couple. Don’t believe me? Check out their photo below.
What could possibly go wrong on their first real date that was so outrageous that when I heard the story, I asked my mom, “And you went out with him after that?”
Stay tuned to find out in Part 2: Embarrassment at the movies…
The restaurant I work for gets their fish delivered fresh daily.
Everyday at 11:00 a.m. the phone rings.
Everyday, including Sunday, and they call at 11:00 a.m. like clockwork.
You can count on it.
I answer the restaurant line to hear a voice on the other end say, “City Fish!”
“Good morning, City Fish!” I reply.
“Just calling to see if you need anything today.” The voice on the other end of the line states.
“Hold on.” I say, as I walk into the restaurant’s kitchen with the phone to my ear.
“City Fish!” I announce. The chef stares at me as if the idea City Fish is calling to get our order comes as a shock to him.
The kitchen staff begins scrambling through the coolers and discussing what we may need to order.
The man from City Fish waits.
To break up the dead air I say, “You know, maybe if you called at the same time everyday, we would be prepared for this.”
I hear him laugh into the phone.
Finally, we manage to get our order together and I am able to repeat it and hang up the phone.
The following morning at 11:00 a.m. the phone rings.
“City Fish!” I hear a voice say as I pick up the phone.
“Good Morning City Fish!” I reply, “Let me get to the kitchen.”
“Guys, City Fish!” I call out, as everyone stands like deer in headlights.
“One minute.” The chef states, as the usual conversation and commotion among the staff ensues.
“Okay, we’re working on it now.” I say with a laugh, “Do you like to fish?”
“Yes, I do.” Replies the man on the phone.
To kill some time I ask, ” Have you every heard Brad Paisley’s fishing song, “I’m Gonna Miss Her?”
In the background, the kitchen staff is flustered, talking and opening and closing cooler doors, trying to figure out our order.
I can do a pretty good southern drawl as I begin to sing into the phone…
And I love to fish
I spend all day out on this lake
And hell is all I catch
Today she met me at the door
Said I would have to choose
If I hit that fishin’ hole today
She’d be packin’ all her things
And she’d be gone by noon
When I get home
But right now I’m on this lake shore
And I’m sittin’ in the sun
I’m sure it’ll hit me
When I walk through that door tonight
That I’m gonna miss her
Oh, looky there, I’ve got a bite!
Today we went out for lunch with my mom. We always have fun with her because my mother is just amazing and a delight to be around… today wasn’t any different.
During lunch my mother shared a story that made me say, “I’m totally blogging about that!”
The story took place many years ago when my mother’s Aunt Evelyn and Uncle Frank both worked as toll collectors on the Connecticut Turnpike (I-95).
They had to drive their own vehicles to work because they worked opposite shifts.
One morning, my Aunt Evelyn woke up to find that her red Ford had been stolen from their driveway.
They reported the theft to the local police but the car was never recovered. Not being in a position to purchase a new car, they had to come up with another plan.
Everyday, Uncle Frank drove Aunt Evelyn to work in the morning, picked her up from work in the afternoon, then went to work his shift at night… only to repeat the entire process the next day.
Aunt Evelyn knew that this was a lot on my Uncle Frank. After a few weeks, she told him, “You don’t have to drive me to work anymore, I’m going to take the bus.”
And take the bus she did!
Back and forth on the bus from home to work and from work back home.
Weeks passed and turned into months.
On her way to work one morning, the bus slowed to stop at a red light.
Aunt Evelyn was sitting at a window seat, watching the morning hustle and bustle outside.
“Wait is that my car?” She thought, as she noticed a red vehicle parked on the side of the street.
She got off the bus to get a closer look and read the license plate.
It was her car!
She reached deep into her pants pocket and pulled out the car keys that were still on her key chain.
Slowly, she slid the key into the door and it unlocked.
Aunt Evelyn moved into the driver’s seat and put the key into the ignition.
To her surprise, the engine started with a roar.
You could say, my Aunt Evelyn “stole” her car back that day, or just “reclaimed” what was rightfully hers.
Feeling victorious, she drove to work in her own car.
I would have loved to have seen Uncle Frank’s face when Aunt Evelyn returned from work driving her red Ford and recounted that incredible story.
I think the only thing that would have given me more pleasure than that, would have been to have seen the look on the thief’s face when he walked outside and realized that the car he stole, had now been stolen from him.
Karma! I love it when it comes full circle… and I love it when it makes me laugh out loud!