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Pay It Foward

It’s been a rough 2011 for my family.  We lost my dad unexpectedly during heart surgery and then 8 weeks later my young cousin to cancer.  I feel manic some days and I try to keep calm and even tempered for my kids but there are days that it works and others it doesn’t. The days it doesn’t I am thankful for the amazing support system I have. 

I want to tell you a story of a good deed that my mother was the recipient of and it gives me hope that there are some wonderful people out there doing good deeds daily and we don’t know about them.

A month after my dad passed away my mom decided to have the 2nd floor of her house painted.  It amounted to 2 rooms plus a bathroom.  My sister had used a painter last year she was very happy with so she called him. He gave her an estimate and she agreed.  He showed up with his 2 man crew and they did the job in one day.  My mom chatted with them a bit about her loss and a book she was reading called “90 Minutes in Heaven” about a man who was pronounced dead at the scene of an accident and experienced heave for 90 minutes.  Painter man told my mom about some other books similar to the one she was reading.   She was pleased with the work he and his crew did and she gave them cookies and coffee and they were on their way.  My mom asked him what the bill was when he was getting ready to leave. He said he would send her the bill.

Six weeks have gone by since the painter was at my moms and no bill yet. My sister said he always gives you the bill and asks for payment before he leaves.  The painter did the work for my mom gratis, did not bill her at all. It was a wonderful act of kindness and I am thankful.  My mom has sent him a thank you note and a gift card to a local restaurant.  

During a time where people are tightening their pocketbooks and many are looking for work this selfless man spent 8 hours of his time and of 2 workers painting at my mom’s house and did it all in kindness.  I am thankful for this wonderful gift and plan to keep paying it forward when I can.

Thank you Erik! You are a wonderful person

I haven’t been writing about running because it hasn’t been a huge part of my life of late. I am getting back into it but it is just not in the top 5 most important things to me right now. I am training for a half marathon but it’s really a form of therapy as I try to deal with the storm of emotions from losing my dad a few weeks ago.

The constant has been my best friend. That is my husband, D. He is my go to guy and has been there for me for the past 12 years. Never have I had to lean on him so hard than in this past month. Not sure what condition I would be in if it weren’t for his compassion, his words, his tears, and his hugs (I’ve needed lots of those).  I have also realized the impact my dad had on D.  D’s dad is not a bad person, he’s just never been an engaged father to his children. That has translated to him not being an engaged grandfather with my children.  I think D has watched the relationship my dad had with people, in particular with me, his youngest daugther. He would poke fun at how close our family was at times but he obviously took something from the closeness I had with my dad and translated that to becoming the most amazing dad.   Our 2 little girls are his world, I’ve moved down to play 3rd place to those 2. Gladly mind you as it just gives me such joy to watch him with our kids. He is the most caring and patient person I know. 

This post is dedicated to the most wonderful man in my life who I am so proud of.  I want to thank my dad for being a great example and someone for D to rely on the past 12 years as a father figure.

The following post is the brief eulogy I said at my dad’s funeral this past weekend.  It doesn’t do justice to the person he was but it was comforting for me to say a few things about him. He was a great man and I am thankful for having him. I miss him terribly and hope the hole in my heart starts to heal soon.

Faith, family, love, gentle, kind, fun, and compassionate, selfless and most of all LOVEABLE.  These are words that we have all used to describe my dad.  He was all of these things wrapped up into one.  The most important thing to him was family, if you were his friend you were his family.  I don’t think I know anyone with as many friends.  He was always there to lend a hand, and most of the time it was unsolicited.   Up until a week ago he was putting the neighbor’s garbage pails away after pickup in the morning.  He would call me every day and ask how his girls were.  He was in fact my children’s larger than life playmate.  I am so thankful that he had the time he did with my children.  He called his 3 grandaughters his gifts from god. I remember the day my niece came from Korea how he paced the food court at JFK while we all waited nervously for her arrival. And then the excitement he had several years later when hubby and I welcomed our children to the world. 

These past few days while they have been difficult for us all, I have comfort in the stories you all have been telling us about him. Some are of memories I have and some are new things I’ve learned about my dad.  We all know he had tremendous faith and in fact for the last 8 years he has come to church to pray at mass each Monday morning.  I didn’t learn until this week that when mom had cancer 8 years ago he made a promise to god that he would come to mass each Monday if mom were ok.  His prayers were answered and we are happy to have our healthy mom with us. That story is just one of many that illustrates his faith in god and his integrity as a person.  Without question if you asked him for help he was there, whenever and wherever. 

He volunteered here at his church’s Outreach program and drove people who were not able to drive themselves to doctor’s appointments, etc.  He was truly the good Samaritan.  I remember the time we had a squirrel in the basement, I was 11 or 12 years old.  He went to animal control and borrowed a trap.  The squirrel finally came out and ended up in the trap.  He wanted to take the squirrel to the park to set it free, not sure in hindsight why we just didn’t set it free outside the house. Maybe he didn’t want the same squirrel to end up in the basement again.  So, he put the trap in the car and we drove off.  A few blocks away he stopped to help a woman whose car was stuck.   He told the woman he would drive her home after he released the squirrel in the trunk at the park.  Needless to say the woman thanked him and said she would wait til someone else came to help her.  J There are countless stories like this one I’ve heard over and over again. He was truly someone you could rely on. If you asked him to be there, he would be there. 

I have no doubt his legacy will live with each of you.  I aspire to be what he was, I realize now I can be and how much of him is part of me.  While I may not have the patience he had I will strive to because that is just one part of what made dad, dad.  He would remind me all the time to be patient, not rush, not judge.  I watched him with my children and melted as the sight of what an amazing Pop Pop he was.  There were days he would be at the house and play with the kids for hours.  He would get tired and tell the girls he needed to rest in the chair. He would get about 5 minutes rest before someone was jumping on him or pulling him out of the chair.  He never said no to them.  

He had a profound impact on so many and I am forever grateful for that.  I know he lives in us all.  Keep his memory alive by striving to be who he was. I LOVE YOU DADDY!!

Running Therapy

Sorry, this blog is a bit jumbled tonight but it expresses the jumbled stuff in my life at the moment.

I miss running regularly. Today I met my BFF for a tough three and a half mile run. Tough hills and tough talk to some extent. I listened and at the end of the run we cried together and it felt good. Even though we were talking about some of the issues she’s dealing with I felt release from the stress I have been carrying around lately. The run was therapy for both of us.

My dad will be scheduling open heart surgery this month and mom will be moving in with us during my dad’s recovery. My sister’s Parkinson’s disease is progressing and she’s so young. My mom is showing signs of PD too. While it’s not stopping her I can’t help but worry. I usually am the “glass is have full” kind of gal but lately there’s so much going on. I am going to remind myself each day to step back and breath and enjoy. I will make sure I continue to run as my body allows as it will help me keep my mind and body clear.

I am thankful for the friendships I have because during times of stress we can look to these friendships to help carry us through.

Without my amazing husband and children I would be lost.

Never Forget

Nine years ago I was living with my husband on the UES of Manhattan. I got off the bus in midtown and saw huge clouds of smoke in the sky downtown not knowing what it was. I arrived at my office on the 16th floor and people were in the lobby watching the TV. The 2nd plane had just hit the tower.

I was supposed to hold a meeting earlier that morning in our Jersey City offices across from the WTC but I ran in Central Park that morning and was going to be late. So I asked the team to meet in our Midtown office. Fate? I think about my last minute change that morning each year on this day. If I had not changed the meeting place I along with others who had to attend the meeting could have been on the WTC concourse that morning.

While I was lucky enough to be someone who did not lose a loved one or to have been down there myself I will never forget what happened that day. I will never forget the smell of smoke that lingered in the air of Manhattan for weeks. I will never forget the pictures of those missing that were posted all over Manhattan on the days after the attack. I will never forget the sound of silence running in Central Park the day after the attacks. I will never forget stopping in front of St. Patrick’s cathedral each day on my way to work to honor another victim. I will never forget the victim profiles that ran in the NY Times.

I will never forget what happened that day and I hope it will NEVER, EVER happen again.

I’ve been on vacation in South Carolina this week. It amazes me how much I learn about my children each day, especially when we are away from home. We are away from our day to day routine and we spend more time just being together as a family. We spent a few hours at the pool today with the kids.

My 6 year old has always been a spirited child with a big vocabulary and a big personality. Just like her mama she wants to be good at all the things she does. However, because she is only 6 she doesn’t have the maturity to understand we need to practice to become better at whatever we do. Swimming has been one of those “obstacles” for her. This past week we spent every day at the beach or the pool at some point. She would get in the water but I could see her trepidation about her swimming ability. She would not completely submerge her head, she held her nose, would not jump in where the water was shallow enough for her to touch the bottom with her feet. Then, a little girl started talking to my daughter in the pool and asked to play a game in the pool with her. This little girl was the same age and was a very good swimmer. Within a few minutes my daughter started putting her head in the water and practicing jumping in with her new friend. Without any advice from me or my husband our little 6 year old decided on her own that she could do it and developed confidence needed for the “swimming task”.

At dinner tonight my daughter started talking about how she suddenly wasn’t afraid of swimming. She’s been taking swimming lessons off and on since she was 3 but never really took to it until now. I used an analogy that is close to my heart; my love for running. I told her that when I started training for the marathon I had never run more than 6 miles at one time. The more I practiced the easier it would be and eventually I could run 26.2 miles and feel confident that I could do it. It was a light bulb moment and one that I will relish in. There are many days that are tough parenting days. Those days my kids don’t listen, they are cranky, and just plain irritating.  However, there are days that have light bulb moments when one of my young children “gets” it. Those are the days I write about in my child’s journal so when they are older they can read about their light bulb moments. To me those are the BEST parenting moments I could ask for.

Ups and Downs

This week was a busy week. I felt like I was running the NYC marathon. There was so much going on. It started on Monday when I found out a dad from the community I live in passed away suddenly over the weekend. He was my age, had a wife and 3 young boys. I had never met him personally nor did I know his wife other than seeing her around town. Regardless, it hit me hard. That I could be her and have my life change dramatically overnight. As news of this tragedy circulated through our school community I found out many of my friends knew the family.  Mostly through the local lacrosse league.  What amazed me most was how families in our community pulled together to help this mom in any way they could.  Signing up to cook meals, donating money to a fund for their young boys, and I am sure many lending a shoulder to cry on.  I am blessed to live in such a caring community.

There are days I get sucked into the negativity of those around me.  I really want to make more of an effort to get rid of the negativity.  There is so much in life to enjoy.  My children are growing up before my eyes, my kindergartner is now a 1st grader, my 2 year old is almost 3, I’ve been married over 10 years to a fantastic guy. These are all things I am blessed with and should focus on.  I don’t have the patience for the crap that some people dish out to stir trouble.  I like honesty and truth, compassion and love.

It’s been a week of ups and downs. Kids finished school, summer begins.  I  heard from a cousin who has been diagnosed with terminal cancer. They aren’t even sure where the cancer started but it has spread to her lungs and bone.  She’s in her early 50’s and I am sure frightened beyond belief.   She just wasn’t feeling well and went for some tests and 2 days later found out she was very sick.  I am praying  hard for her and her family.

Yesterday my family spent the day at my sisters with my parents to celebrate my bro in laws birthday.  It was a fun day and my sister cooked an amazing meal.  SHE continues to be an inspiration to me.  Parkinson’s has taken over her body and caused her to lose strength in her upper body.  She moves at an extremely slow pace and takes medication to help ease the symptoms.  She chooses to take the lowest dose possible right now to keep her mobility and not succomb to the horrible side effects of the medication that include flailing limbs, ticks, sleeplessness, and depression. Yes, it sounds horrible but if you ever want to meet the MOST POSITIVE PERSON I know I’ll introduce to my sister.  She stopped working earlier this year and I plan on spending more time with her this summer.   We already have planned some dates to take my kids to the beach, shopping (us sisters can rock a good shopping spree), lunching and just sharing more time together.

I thought when I decided to blog it would be more about running and my kids. Since I have not been running as much lately and not training for anything due to injury I blog more about all the other stuff in my life that is equally important. 

I did run the past 2 days and it felt amazing. I hope to do more this week as I am feeling like my old self again. Although I would like to think each day I continue to grow a little more and will not be “my old self.”

Peace