Tuesday, April 30, 2013

A Mother's Completeness

Nothing beats the feeling that first evening when your college age child comes home for break; winter or summer.

I'm not a helicopter mom. I don't hover. But I am not truly complete until I see that they are happy and when they are home.

Welcome Home My Love!

Last Class - Monday

We are down to our last class of the year for religious education. Spending the majority of the year on two points:
1. To recognize Jesus in the distress and disguise of the poor.
2. To acknowledge what we do matters.

Two areas that get to the heart of faith.

Interesting point is the exam the students took, and are required to pass, didn't test their faith, only their knowledge of being Catholic. Which is understandable, for how can a written test assay one's faith?

We will work on Catholic doctrine next year...Another interesting point of fact was the strength of our closing Hail Mary. Very nicely recited. Progress. I could not be more proud.

Monday, April 29, 2013

Time is an interesting commodity

Highly valued and sought after, yet it can't be set aside or saved for a rainy day.

Alas we can only hope that in the end we spent our time wisely.

How do you spend your time?

Life is like....

Stained glass. There are so many different aspects, different pieces, some sharp, some strange, some clear, others cloudy. And somehow it all fits together. Somehow it all works and in the end makes perfect sense. Or not but that's okay too.

What's life's most perfect gift?
Could time be the answer?

Saturday, April 27, 2013

My Motto

I usually reserve this motto for the Boston Brain Tumor 25 mile ride of hills, but really it applies to all of life, even putting out a sh(&&@ first draft of a book.

With A Little Help has been stewing in my brain for too many years. I was afraid to sit and write because I didn't know all its details. Afraid it wouldn't be perfect.

Fear not! It's a terrible first draft but it is indeed a starting point for great things to come.

Friday, April 26, 2013

Chapter 8

Chapter 8
“Mom, I'm home.” Boy did it feel good to say that. All day at school, and during my exam after, I'd waited for this moment. To burst into our kitchen and yell, “Mom, I'm home,” and to hear her reply...
“I'm upstairs sweetheart. I'll be right down.” My heart was doing its best to escape my chest. Not waiting for her to come to me, I bounded up the back case, nearly toppling us both over on the landing. As wonderful as my dad is, and he is wonderful, nothing or no one could ever match the love I felt hugging my mom right then and there. Ever. 
Playfully unburying herself from my full on attack, she asked, “So, did you miss me?”
Crazy mom. And then before I had that chance to answer, my giddy bubble was pierced by a razor sharp stiletto when I realized that Carolyn would never ever hug her mom like that again. But still how, why, did she stay at Bobbie's instead of at home? My face must have given away my shock as I watched Mom's expression follow mine and without a word our embrace tightened. Neither in life or death would I let go. 
“You okay sweetheart?”

Catching myself in a sniffle, I nodded yes, and then arm in arm we squeezed down the stairs and into the kitchen. 
I wanted to hear all the details of her trip, all the details of what was happening, but then I didn't. Right then and there I wanted to insulate ourselves from the pending changes. Maybe mom felt the same way too. For she started our conversation with talk of school. “How was your day?” The typical post school question.

“Fine, a make up exam afterschool.”

“How are Jeff, and Melody?”

“Fine, they'll be over after school tomorrow to say hi. They thought it would be good to give us the night for just our family.”

Mom chuckled. “That is sweet of them, but they are family too.”

It's true, they are. Mrs. Westgate too. But not Jeff's parents. We had seen them socially a few times in the three years since we moved, but they were always too busy for the day to day life in Stockbridge. Too bad for Jeff. 
“How is Martha?”

Mom knew we hadn't been to see her lately. “I don't know.” Her eyes met mine. And as if on parallel puppet strings we both turned to face the kitchen clock. There was a good hour before dinner. Without a word, we stood up, slipped on our coats and were on our way to Kimball Farm.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Do you have a bone to pick with someone?

Heading into a discussion that could become tense is like heading into a tiger's den.

Prayer, reason, kindness and calmness work wonders. Fortify yourself with the tools of grace.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

What Matters?

It doesn't matter if you are slow or fast. What matters is that you are moving forward.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

I can do it later

Home, and without clients, is like being home and unemployed. I woke up yesterday morning and instead of heading out to the garage to exercise on the trainer, before the dawn, I realized that I could ride my bike in full daylight later.

Instead of squeezing in folding the laundry before heading out on the school run, I realized I could do the laundry later.

Instead of going directly food shopping after the school run, you got it, I could do it later.

So what did I do? I checked the stained glass supply -- I need white. Must plan a trip to Grafton. (Maybe tomorrow.)  I washed the kitchen floor, did the school run, went to the hardware store to pick up a new CO detector. Saw they are hiring. Applied for a job. Installed new detector. Hoed and planted peas in the garden. Prayed the ground hogs would vacation elsewhere this summer. And now I am writing for 30 minutes.

Afterwards I will hit up the "later" list.

Monday, April 22, 2013

With hindsight

I can't look at the images of the suspected Boston Marathon Bomber. I don't see a killer, a maimer, the devil, one so evil.  I see a son, a 19 year old college kid. His father said, "Not my son. My son is an angel." Is he? Was he?

I've heard that claim before, a parent's blind support. Growing up there where two brothers that lived up the street. They teased us. Pushed us off our bikes. Their mom said, "Not my son." A few years go by and their names are in the paper. Arrested for breaking and entering, stealing, drugs and sent to jail. "Not my son."  And then the worst for a parent, their sons names are listed one last time. For their obituary, death due to complications, AIDS. "Not my son."

Is life so much clearer with hindsight? Or are we still blinded by love? 

Boston Marathon bombing results: five dead, 180 maimed, thousands scarred for life. 

Sunday, April 21, 2013


The toughest part of parenting is allowing the children to make choices that you wouldn't. Not dangerous or destructive choices. But saying to our Director of Religious Ed., "No, I won't help you."

Asked to do a small task that would take 2 minutes, the answer came back no. The director smiled and walked away.

It was not my place to interfere or influence her decision. But I was crushed. Really how could this child be mine? And where have I gone wrong?

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Even in Paradise

Explosions, fires; there are dead and injured. The bad news bleeds in. Eight year old dies. Of course it would. Two daughters dead. Every fitness room tv screen has the news all the time. Nails and ball-bearings used. Probably in the bars too, but we don't frequent them. Family and friends safe, accounted for. Not everyone can make that claim. Cell phones vibrate with the breaking updates. Injured have 20 or more foreign objects in their bodies. The sun shines. The waters warm. Newlyweds each loose a leg in blast. Worse fate for sisters. Friendly cast members ask where's home. Massachusetts... Silence. They have the bomber. Made an arrest. Relief. Oops no they don't. Anxiety level spikes. We don't know who and why now, but we will soon very soon. We think we're healing then ... Poisoned letters in DC, Mississippi. Fertilizer plant explosion in Texas. Sleeplessness. Even in Paradise.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Chapter 7

Chapter 7
Later that evening, Charles found Molly and I curled up on the leather loveseat in the library. She was doing her nightly 20 minutes of reading. Unable to study, I was straining to overhear Dad's nightly conversation with Mom. He was in the kitchen with the door closed. We were in the library with both pocket doors wide open. His voice was low. I wasn't getting much more than flight details and the expected weather. By the dim light of the library sconces Charles appeared in black and white. As if he were inserted from an old movie.
“How are the lambs?” That's what he called us girls; the lambs. It was a term of comfort.
Molly looked up from her reading and by how her weight shifted I swore she was getting up to hug him. When we first discovered our friendly ghost, she was less than 5 years old, and always trying to hug him. To which end she would wrap her arms through him and around herself. “Hi Captain,” she replied.
Looking directly and specifically at her, he smiled back, “Hello little lamb. How is the homework?”
“I have to read 20 minutes every night. I'm reading Frog and Toad.”
“Excellent choice for such a young reader.” Then turning his attention to me, “Did you have something you wanted to asked me?”
At first I was puzzled, something I wanted to ask... and then I remembered, Mom, Bainbridge Island, home. “Charles, does this house, now, you being a ghost and all, is this home for you?”
If a ghost can have a pensive look, Charles now owned one. “Home,” he uttered in a low drawn out voice. “Is this home?”
Molly stopped her reading. Did she understand the depth of the question? Had I when I asked it?
“Lamb, home is where the heart is, is it not? And this house was the heart of my childhood and then it housed the only woman I truly loved. So yes this is my home. But I won't stay here forever.”
“What?” Charles not be here. That would be like peanut butter without jelly. I started to ask when, why... he'd been here since 1944, what was going to change that, when he changed the subject. “And you young lady? Homework? Studying for your missed exam?”
How did her know? “Mom is supposedly coming home tomorrow.”
He appeared to lean back onto the library desk. “Yes, she will be home tomorrow; around noon time I suspect. With the time change and all. Flying into Albany.” Again how did he know? Then again, why wouldn't he know.
Seeing him reminded me that we hadn't been to see Martha in over three weeks. Unheard of. But with Mom gone, and having to pitch in more at home, we weren't getting out to Kimball Farms for our usual on a Saturday visit. We would have to go this week; no excuses.
“Girls, dinner!” Mom and Dad's conversation over. We were summoned. But would we get any details on how our lives would be altered by a plane flight arriving tomorrow at noon in Albany? Probably not. And the less they told us, the more I worried.

Late Night Text
Melody: Any more news?
Me: No
R u nervous?
Don't know what to say?
Nothing 2 b said
Ans to 35?
x = 9 y = 13

Monday, April 15, 2013

Don't forget the magic of the printed word

We live in an ever changing electronic world. Where words and images are transported through air as if by magic. The other day my daughter recommended I read this book. It was part of her last year's summer reading. Five pages in and I'm sold. The author is truly magical. Weaving concepts and emotion into movies that play in my mind.


Saturday, April 13, 2013


Did you just call me fat?
I'm not fat. I'm big boned.
Or the truth
I'm not fat, I'm pregnant.

Calf Therapy

A few days ago I sent this image to the Calf Manager asking if we could name a 2013 calf George, boy or girl. Why? Because when I see a calf I want to love them, pet them and squeeze them.

Yesterday after our weekly breakfast meet up a friend gave me this old cow tag. He found it a million years ago while walking across a cow pasture. Since I volunteer at the farm, he thought I would like it. And I love it. But who was number 23?

Taking a break cleaning up the platform I checked the wall of fame to get some idea who could have been 23. And it was George. Fitting, don't you think. I bet he was a loveable guy.

Friday, April 12, 2013

And then there was none

Again, not too many details... It's a HIPA thing.

This has been a tough month. First a former client, dear friend passed away. And now both my remaining clients requiring more care than I can offer, have moved into a different facility. And as delighted as I am for them, for their care is all that matters, I do miss them. I find myself wondering about them. Worrying about them.

The human heart is not a faucet. Just because the office calls and says your assignment is no longer viable, doesn't mean you stop caring full stop.

And yes the writing was on the wall, for over a year... and still, it's hard.

I find myself thinking, what would I do differently if this business was my own? For with me, It's Personal. What is coming to mind is I would offer an exit interview of sorts. I would invite the caregiver into the office. Offer them a beverage, a comfortable chair, a smile, and give them the opportunity to talk about their experience with the client. An opportunity to unpack their heart.

Last week, in the mail, came an addendum to our work Handbook, a new page 24. It states caregivers are not allowed to share personal details and experiences with the clients. Label me a BIG FAT FAILURE. That we are not allowed to upset the client. Well that is a no brainer. But can we share our sunny days?

A caregiver handles the very personal business of the client. Establishing a happy common ground, eases the waters of everyday life.   My clients all knew I have 3 children. All girls, because my clients, took all the "good" boys. Alas I had to settle... :-) They all knew that I'm not only Italian, but Sicilian... God forbid. We talked recipes. They taught me Italian. We talked about family and who is married to whom. It was a comfort, not only to them, but to me. I knew my clients and they knew me.

Right now, I have no clients. And I wonder if I'm truly suited for this job. Can I keep it from becoming personal?

For the past several days I've been at the farm more. Undergoing calf therapy, an exit interview of sorts. Yesterday I thought one of the cow's was in labor. Today I'll see if we have a new calf.

I can talk to the cows all the time, tell them anything, hug and even plant a kiss on their foreheads. There is no page 24 in the farm handbook.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

What If You're Not Recognized Among The Crowd?

You go to work. Do what I like to call your Disney best. Putting others first always. But like in the movie Larry Crowne, instead of getting Employee of the Month, you get laid off. Your position dries up. Was it all for not?

Remember management didn't recognize Jesus either. And he had a bigger job than any of us.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Chapter 6

Chapter 6
At 4 PM sharp, Dad pulled up by the middle school bike racks in his truck. “Ready to go?”
I nodded yes then jestered to Melody, the reason I would have to stay after again tomorrow, who was leaning up against the rack with me.
“Yes, of course we'll give Mel a ride home.” Dad always called her Mel, never Melody. He shortened everyone's name, Molls, Mel, Jeff, Marg, All but mine. I was always Sarah.
My bike stowed in the back, us girls seated and belted, we were well on our way down the long school driveway before he started asking the usual parental questions. So how was your day? Melody was silent. I mumbled fine.
“How was getting to school this morning?”
A long sigh escaped before I could stop it. “I was late. Missed my first period exam...”
And not letting me finish, Dad interjected, “But you took it this afternoon correct?”
I shot a glance at Melody. “No I didn't get the chance.”
His brow furrowed, “Well then tomorrow?”
“Probably... pick me up again?”
“Your mom is due in tomorrow around noon. So either Mom or I, or both”, he smiled, “will come and get you. No worries.”
I had heard the promise of Mom's return before. The plane ticket bought. Her bags packed and then something else would come up. First it was some legal stuff regarding selling the Marché house. No first it was where would Carolyn live and who was her legal guardian? Her legal guardian was easy, it was Mom. And where would she live? Well that was a sticking point.
Finishing the year at Bainbridge High seemed a no brainer. At first, everyone assumed Carolyn would continue to stay on with Bobbie and her family. But something happen, and no one was talking. All I know is one week after her mom's passing, Carolyn wasn't welcome there anymore. So another couple of weeks passed while Mom found and made her living arrangements. Last I heard she was living with old Mrs. O'Brien. The neighbor who babysat for Molly and I. Some days, even now three years since our move, I can almost taste her fresh baked warm chocolate chip cookies. Made with dark bitter sweet morsels, not the semi sweet. And I would just about kill for one of her cookies. Lucky Carolyn.
“Do you think she's really coming home?”
Not taking his eye off the winding dusky road, Dad nodded yes.
“And will she be alone?” This question caught even Melody's attention. She had heard all about Carolyn and if I had to guess, she wasn't any more pleased than I was that Carolyn, in all likelihood, would be moving in with us.
“Last I heard, Carolyn has moved in with Mrs. O'Brien until the end of the school year.”

Tuesday, April 09, 2013

Surprisingly Comfortable

How many times have we been pulled, stretched, poked or prodded out of our comfort zones only to find out it's not that bad. Actually, it's quite comfortable.

Monday, April 08, 2013

Sunday, April 07, 2013

It's All In Keeping A Perspective

If you know me then you would conclude the chair I'm sitting on is huge. If you have never seen me, well this is me, and, with no other frame of reference, you would wonder about my stature.

Now how many times each day do we draw a conclusion without having all the data?

Saturday, April 06, 2013

The Gift

With one half of my client pair not home, work has been interesting this month. There are times of confusion, lethargy, acceptance, and longing. The dynamics are different between us two, when there used to be three. She's not the usual singer and dancer. She was the audience and the laugh track. We all had our part to play, and hopefully all will be status quo soon.

Lately, to change things up,  I have been reading my book, Forever Yours to my dear friend. Just a few minutes a day, when we have time. She says she is enjoying the story. I don't know how much she is remembering day to day. But she loves to listen to me read. So we do.

The gift: Beside the obvious joy, the gift is helping me recall key details to be included in With A Little Help.

Friday, April 05, 2013

At Work Today

We had a slow start. I started singing the chickery chick song. My client sang along. Afterwards she asked where I learned it. I told her my dad. From my childhood.

We wondered about the songs origin and if we had the right lyrics, since we both knew it. 

The Internet comes through. It was made famous in the 1940's. Here are the lyrics. 

Chickery chick, cha-la, cha-la
Check-a-la romey in a bananika
Bollika, wollika, can't you see
Chickery chick is me


It's in there. And with all things when love is involved, it takes time, it's not always obvious, and it is easier said than done.

Thursday, April 04, 2013

Here I Am Lord

Who will bear my light to them?
Whom shall I send?

Here I am, Lord.
Is it I, Lord?
I have heard you calling in the night.
I will go Lord, if you lead me.
I will hold your people in my heart.

Photo credit: Dola

Wednesday, April 03, 2013

Chapter 5

Chapter 5
“Sarah,” my name carried upstairs from the front hallway, “Mrs. Westgate's car broke down. You're walking Molly to school today!”
It wasn't a question. It wasn't even a placated request. It was a statement. I'm going to be late for school, again. Wonder if I have some wiggle room.
“I have an exam first period, I can't.”
On the tail of paper shuffling and keys jiggling arrived dad's rushed rebuttal,“Make arrangements to take it after school. I have an Endowment Committee meeting in 15 minutes. I'm late already.” The door opened, closed and then he was gone.
Since learning Mrs. Marché passed away 10 days ago, life walked on eggshells, uncertain. We moved through the days filled with not knowing. Would today be the day mom would come home, or would it be the next? And more importantly would she arrive alone? Carolyn Marché now had no living relatives. At first I assumed she would stay with Bobbie and her folks on Bainbridge Island. She would probably move into my old room. That lucky... witch.
But then there were the guarded late night phone calls. Dad sitting in the library. The receiver to his ear. Head bowed, repeating, “Margaret, she was your best friend. You know what has to be done. Do what you think is best. Talk with the lawyers.”
For days I wondered just what best would be.
And now to roust the Molly.
Gently pushing on the resident second grader's shoulder I uttered, “Molly, time to get up. We're walking.” Thank God it was full Spring and not the bitter winter of our first winter in Stockbridge. Days starting earlier. Temperatures climbing into the sixties, Bainbridge weather. With mom out there, I wasn't surprised by the emotional ties I had back to the island. Hearing about weather, or the ferry horns, or certain smells, especially those that could be contributed to low tide, always and without fail brought me back to our island cottage. But our's no more. Maybe Carolyn's. Most assuredly Bobbie's.
“Come on Molly, time to get up.” This time the bundle under the covers shifted. And morning breath escaped from her mouth as she rolled over to face me. I shifted back and away. "Brush baby, brush."
“Where's dad?”
“He has a meeting this morning. I'm going to walk you to school, a little early, so I can get to school myself.”
Without another word the little one rolled out of bed and started usual morning routine. I really appreciated the fact she wasn't looking for wiggle room.
“Ms. Cahill, your hall pass?” It was a reasonable question given I was walking in a full two hours after the official start of school, and the emptiness of the corridor, but the tone with which it was delivered. The fear it elicited.
“Mr. Parters, I just got here. Missed the bus, I haven't been to the office yet.” And then as if on a bad cue my cell phone vibrated. Incoming text... I glanced down, the screen read. Melody Where are you?
I caught Mr. Parters also glancing at the screen as well. “And detention. No electronic devices on during school hours.”
“But I just got here. I had to take my sister to school first, missing my first period math test and then ride my bike to school.”
If he was paying attention, or cared, I couldn't tell. He took two steps, turned, held out his hand suggesting I step ahead and ushered me to the office.
“Mrs. Clark,” the secretary hearing her name, looked up from her computer screen.
“Yes, Mr. Parters,” still typing on her keyboard.
“I discovered Ms. Cahill sneaking into school.” Sneaking? “Issue her a hall pass and put her on the detention list for this afternoon.”
“Yes, Mr. Parters.”
This wasn't happening. Mr. Parters knew my mom was out of town. I told him I was late because I had to take Molly to school. I told him I needed to take my first period exam right after school.
And then he added, “Summon Melody Westgate down to my office, and put her on the detention list for using electronic devices during school time.”
Hall pass in hand, heading out to my third period class I overheard Mrs. Clark calling Melody to the office. “Mr. Rigs is Melody Westgate in your class?”
The static PA voice reported, “Yes she is right here.”
“Please have her report to Mr. Parters' office.”
“Will do. Melody...” and the voice fell silent.
Melody wasn't stupid. Since I hadn't replied to her text. She knew we had been caught.

Tuesday, April 02, 2013

Client First, Friend Always

My dear friend upon hearing of a struggle or upcoming event always offered to say a Mass. Unable to leave her home, she would watch the Mass on TV and offer up her prayers. She was the perfect of example of the woman who gave her last bit of treasure to God.

How do you meet someone so remarkable? Someone who cannot leave their home without assistance? Why you care for them. I was blessed to be her caregiver three times a week, for two hours. My biggest responsibility, the task she looked forward the most, was for me to sit with her and talk.

Florence, my dear friend, you may not be walking this Earth anymore, but dear one, please continue to pray for us. You are missed.

Monday, April 01, 2013

No time to be bored

It was a picture perfect weekend. Quiet, relaxed, productive with spring like weather. I had the luxury of blocks of time which were spent writing, bicycle riding, having tea with two of my daughters, and working on stained glass.

Today, Easter Monday, should be more of the same, after work. We have plenty of leftovers, so no cooking and no religious ed. tonight. The blessing of time.

Though I find myself wondering about what work has in store for me later this morning. Whatever happens. Face it with a smile.