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Archive for March, 2008

In last week’s blog, I wrote about my brother’s having surgery this past Tuesday. We expected that things would go along perfectly as they have every time in the past with his many surgeries over the years as a result of renal cancer and the pain resulting from damage done in his back in removing various tumors.But two hours into his surgery he suffered a heart attack and they were not able to revive him and he passed away.Now I must say that I had been praying very fervently to God that my brother would have no more cancer and no more pain. And he certainly answered my prayers. I first thought that I should have been a little more specific by asking that he keep my brother alive while fulfilling the first part of my request but I soon learned that would not have been in my brother’s best interest. For once they started the surgery and removed the metal that had been placed in his back in previous surgeries to stabilize some fused disks, they found a new tumor on his spine.

So God answered my prayers in the only way possible as my brother is no longer in pain and he will not have to deal with anymore cancer. I have been picturing him in heaven having met up with my dad and Uncle Joe and sharing a cocktail and talking about golf. I believe that hell is actually here on earth as we go through all of the pain and suffering that we create for ourselves until we learn all of the lessons that we need to learn. Then we are allowed to leave here to be with God. To me, that is the meaning of “eternal reward”.

For me, I am not going to spend my time grieving the loss of my brother but rather to use my energy to celebrate his wonderful life. I have such fun memories of our growing up as he and I were very close as kids. If we got in trouble, it was usually both at the same time. One example that stands out in my mind is the day that we got caught playing with matches. Believe me when I say that the ramifications were not pretty.

Another is the day when we were standing on his bed which was in the corner of his room and we were leaning against the wall. Something unremembered made us laugh so hard and the bed started moving away from the wall and we slid all the way down the wall until we hit the floor. We were literally pinned into that crevice and still laughing like crazy until we peed our pants. Of course, we got punished as we had no business standing on that bed in the first place.

And I guess the all-time bad deeds were actually done to my older sister when she was charged with baby sitting us. You see, she got just a little too bossy for our tastes, so he would hold her and I would hit her (no, we didn’t do any damage) when she got too far out of line. Of course, she told our parents when they got home and we got punished but we didn’t care because we knew that when we were all left along again, we would get her for tattling on us.

There are so many more stories like these that will continue to come to mind in the coming weeks, months and years. In addition there will be all of the wonderful memories as I recall the evolution of that kid into a wonderful man who worked hard in every way to create a good life for himself and the fabulous wife that he adored. He was kind, loving and caring and I will miss all of that. But, most of all I will miss his unique sense of humor, his teasing and his needling. There was nothing that was more fun than to watch his expression with that little bit of a smile that continued to expand whenever he felt that he pulled a good one on someone else. I am looking forward to seeing what he will do now that he is on the other side. I am sure that we are all in for some very good laughs in the future and we will all welcome every single one of them.

 

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The patriarch of a family with whom I grew up passed away this week. This family is one of the last connections that I have had to my hometown of Williamsport, PA. Of course, this takes me back to a time and a place that holds such a special place in my heart. I have so many happy memories of my life there, especially with regard to my family and friends.This week, Kirk started posting this blog on My Space.com, a forum about which I had heard but have never investigated. Interestingly, while he was cruising around some postings there, he came upon one for my hometown and once again within the space of a couple of days, I was again transported to my past. I started to think about how my life there contributed to the person that I am today and how despite my being 3,000 miles away from my roots, it is at times like these that I know that the time and space have no relevance.I had wonderful parents. Their family was everything to them and they sacrificed a lot for their 3 children. Such great values were instilled in us. We learned respect and manners and how to work hard. We learned the value of a dollar and how to treat others and a strong spiritual belief. And most importantly, we learned about love. We lived love. How we were taught and what we were taught by their examples has served us well for our adult life.

My sister and brother and I were not extremely close growing up. My sister and I shared our love for tennis and we made great doubles partners. But we also shared a room and that was not fun. She was the older sister and had her own life and her own friends and her own very independent spirit. My brother and I are only a year apart in age and I loved playing baseball and being silly and doing stupid stuff with him. But once we hit our teens, we also found separate worlds of interests and groups of friends.

The three of us have now come full circle and although my brother and sister live on the east coast and I live on the west coast, we are so entwined with each other. And although we are each so different one from another, we now complement each other rather than being in opposition to one another.

My brother has an indomitable spirit that has brought him through many cancer surgeries and so much pain that I can’t even imagine. I hope that today’s surgery will be the end of the pain and the cancer after 16 years of having to endure so much and having lost a kidney and a lung to this disease. And somehow through it all, he has had a highly successful career and is such a gentle, kind and giving person. And I am sure that the fantastic wife who has literally been right by his side through it all has played a major role in his success in all aspects of his life.

My sister is so special in her independence, intelligence and her always being there to help others. She was the one who looked after my mom on a daily basis in her later years while raising a fabulous daughter together with her awesome husband. She makes several trips to Europe each year and has put together a wonderful family history for us. She engineered my first trip to Europe last year as we traveled together, just the two of us on our first sister only adventure (which was greatly financed by her, my brother and Kirk) and gave me an experience that I will never forget. She has made a walking pilgrimage of more than 110 miles by herself across northern Spain and will be embarking upon another such pilgrimage across France in a couple of weeks – after returning from again seeing my brother through his surgery.

For me, it is a great experience to see how my past and the past of my family in our home town has come around to the present and how it has shaped who I am and what I do as I continue to embark on new experiences for the future. And to have such a wonderful family brings so much happiness to my life and to my very existence. For the love that we learned so very long ago has shaped all that we are and all that we are yet to become. Now that is true happiness.

 

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When I started to write this blog, I had requested that Kirk set it up to reflect a classification of “Categories” so that I could address a number of different subjects. The first one obviously is “Creating Happiness”. However, as I pondered what I wanted to write about this week, I was suddenly struck by the realization that all of the facets that I would probably ever write about all pertained to this single category.I tried to think of other categories upon which I might want to reflect. I could address such things as getting ahead on the job or how to make more money or setting goals to attain a position of greater power or notoriety. But the more I thought about it, I realized that such subjects were those in which I really have no interest. To pursue power or money or the accumulation of “things” are not things of importance to me. Bottom line – happiness in my life is the only thing that matters and that is what I think is the greatest gift that I might be able to share with others.So for the time being, the “category” listing will remain with the only title under that being “Creating Happiness” – just in case I do find another topic at some later date. Perhaps someone might want to pose a question that I could address that falls outside of this parameter. I just don’t know what it could be at this time.I have found true happiness in my life and that is what I want to share. Now this does not mean that everything is perfect but then again, if everything was perfect, how boring life would be. Having challenges, facing them and conquering them is so rewarding. Of course, many times our efforts do not result in the outcomes that we might wish but having done our best and learning from our mistakes is an accomplishment in and of itself. It all comes down to being willing to look at the possibilities and being willing to explore new things.

Often when facing the outcome of a particular situation, it is easy to look at all of the negatives and allow ourselves to feel sorry for ourselves and to blame others or to think that we are not good enough or smart enough or important enough to affect the change that we wanted. But I do challenge you to look at every single one of those “bad” outcomes in retrospect and see whether or not that outcome wasn’t really for the best in the long run.

How many times were you passed up for a promotion or you didn’t get a particular job that you wanted or the object of your affection was not interested in you or you weren’t able to find the answer to a particular question that you needed to solve before you could move on?

But if you took the time to view those situations in retrospect, how often did you find that a particular promotion may have resulted in your not having a “personal” life any longer or you were glad that you didn’t get a particular job because you landed one that was so much better or if you had ended up with what you thought was the perfect person for you, you wouldn’t have been available when the right one came along or had you had a particular answer when you initially went searching for it, you would not have learned so many other things along the way?

If you take the time to assess these types of situations in hindsight, you will soon learn that everything always turns out for the best. Then you will not waste your good energy on the negative but will look to the positive and this will definitely make your life so much happier.

 

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Yesterday was one of those days that lives in your mind forever. Earlier in the week, Kirk had indicated that he had a surprise for me on Sunday but wouldn’t tell me what it was. Okay, that was fine with me. He told me that we had to be ready to leave by 8:45 a.m. and gave me an indication of what would be appropriate attire. I was ready on time and shortly thereafter, a limo pulled up for us. Wow, this was going to be a blast.We went out the door and I arrived at the car with Kirk closely behind. And when the driver opened the door, there were 3 of my best friends with tons of food and drink already loaded in the car for us as we headed out for my first “girls’ day” ever as Kirk headed back to the house to do laundry. You see, the girls had the idea to do this excursion and in collusion with Kirk had set up the whole thing together. Oh, and I did have one more surprise as we headed out to pick up one other very special friend who lived at some distance away from the rest of us.Now, while we had a blast heading into wine tasting country to do a lot of sampling and enjoy a lovely outdoor luncheon together, what we did was nothing in comparison to spending the time together with these wonderful women and the knowing that my friends wanted to do this for me and that they had engineered this entire adventure with my husband who also wanted me to have this special opportunity.

I can’t begin to tell you what it feels like when the people who are the closest to you want to create such a memorable experience. The positive energy that is generated by such a gesture of pure love and caring is something that you can only really feel and never be able to put into words. To be surrounded by such special people makes you feel like you own the world and that life just doesn’t get any better.

Three of these women did not know the fourth one before this day but everyone got along very well. And when we arrived to pick up my last friend at her parents’ home, her mom opened up her place to all of us and got out a bottle of champagne for us to have a toast together before we went on our way for the rest of the day.

But then again, my friend’s mom is just one of those ladies with all of the style and grace of one of the classiest women that you could ever meet. And despite all of the physical assaults that her body has taken, you would never know that anything was wrong because she always has a smile on her face and a kind word for everyone else. What a treasure she is! Now that I think about it, I guess the reason that I appreciate her so much is because she reminds me of the classy woman that my mother was.

At our last stop, my fourth friend made a call to another of her friends who lived in the area and she joined us, too. I had heard about this woman and when we met, I knew immediately that she too, was another very special person. Again, I couldn’t put any of this into words but I knew that I would never forget this meeting. We just hugged and it was like we had known each other forever. How happy I was that things had worked out the way they did for this meeting to happen.

Wow! What a day! What an indescribable experience! What happiness I have in my life as a result of friends who bring so much to me. And how awesome is my life to have a husband who not only would go to great lengths to give me a wonderful surprise but who would also be willing to help me by doing laundry while I was out having my day to remember. It doesn’t get any better than that.

 

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