The Eclectic Collection


You know how your parents are slightly crazy? Not certifiable by any means, just a little wacky. Remember how you got yourself into some crazy predicaments when you were a child? Like the time me and my sister, Skee, decided to move my Dad’s white Volvo from our cement-paved driveway simply by pushing it while it was still in park. That’s a special one. We were trying to save time instead of tediously locating our Dad and convincing him to move the Volvo so we could have awesome free-reign to practice our awesome roller-skating tricks. We couldn’t waste time because …. we. were. awesome. Man, we were tricky. Man, we got in a crap-load of trouble for that one.

Or how about those silly things you used to do, some I cannot even mention to preserve what little pride we have left now that you know we were roller skaters. A couple favorites of ours were seeing who took the longest to eat their Suzy Q (the winner was the one who savored the last bite long after the other sister had scarfed hers down) or playing Charlie’s Angels with the neighborhood girls (I was Chris and Skee was Tiffany, and no one wanted to be Sabrina – ever!).

Being a kid is a weird and glorious adventure. I know I lost some of my sanity growing up in the house and family that we did. I feel anchored by my relationship with Skee. Our childhood was imperfectly perfect. Knowing she is my partner in crime helps make the bad stuff seem not so bad and the good stuff rip-roaringly hilarious. What’s the point of being slightly dysfunctional if you can’t find the humorous silver lining?

When Frick and Frack are older and hopefully well-adjusted young men, I hope they are thankful to have each other. Family relationships are complicated. Sharing those complications with someone who has lived through the same experience makes it bearable. For instance, losing a parent is life-altering. Sharing it with someone who cared about that parent the same way you did lessens the load a little bit. I hope anyone out there who is reading this has a person to share their joy and pain with. That is my hope for my boys. I hope they are that person to each other.

I am so thankful to have Skee in my life. I love her, she’s supercool and is a bad-ass on rollerskates.


After my Mom was diagnosed with stage four pancreatic cancer, she was moved to the University of Chicago hospital for a specialized procedure and more tests. I stayed with her every day and every night. Who knew two, adult women could fit in a twin sized hospital bed. Somehow we managed.

My Mom’s room seemed barren and uninviting as most hospital rooms do. On maybe our second day there I went to the gift shop to find something to add cheer to the room. Flowers (which my Mom loved) were out of the question on the very sterile cancer floor of the hospital. Instead I chose a simple angel. It seemed perfect for she was holding the blue bird of happiness in her palm. My Mom also loved birds and her favorite color was blue.

I named her Mimi. When I gave it to my Mom I said the angel represented both my Mom and myself (me & me = Mimi). I instructed her that Mimi would accompany her to all her chemo and doctor’s appointments and that she would go on my behalf when I couldn’t be there with my Mom. We placed Mimi high upon a cabinet that first day. She watched over us and made us feel a little less frightened.

While my Mom was lucid (only a few, short days), she was vigilant that Mimi was always with her and that especially at night, Mimi would be somewhere close watching over her.

I began to attach quite a bit of meaning to that little statue. By a grace that is inexplicable, Mimi even made the trip to the hospice and was in the room when my Mom passed. I like to think maybe a small part of my Mom’s soul is now permanently affixed to Mimi.

In the six or so months since my Mom died, I had all but given up on ever seeing Mimi again. It was pandemonium in the final days of my Mom’s life and Mimi’s location was all but lost to me and my sister.

Skee knew how much Mimi meant to me and tried her best to find her. With raising a new baby (Little D was born three days after my Mom’s diagnosis), taking care of her older children and handling my Dad and everything post-funeral while I was back home in Florida, I knew it would be difficult for her to find Mimi. I let Mimi go as best I could and tried to comfort myself by thinking if I’m meant to have her, then someday I will. It’s out of my hands and I left it at that.

Yesterday, another package from Skee arrived. When I opened it and carefully pushed the cushioning paper aside, I was floored to see elegant, graceful Mimi staring back at me. I flashbacked in my mind to the moment I gave her to my Mom. The details of the hospital room and all that I had experienced with my Mom hit me with acute force.  After I regained some composure and my tears of loss had slowed, I said a prayer of thanks. Thanks for the unexpected gift of having the angel back in my life and thanks for a sister who went through a whole lot to make sure that I did.

Mimi is home. Now she can watch over me.



p8263052How do you know if you are truly loved? If you receive a package that arrives well before the date it’s intended to celebrate and if the person sending it to you has any children under the age of five years old. The amount of tactical planning that goes into sending a gift while in the midst of raising small children is vastly excessive. Not only do you have to remember that the intended celebratory date is approaching (not always so easy when your brain is locked in Mommy mode), you also have to make it to a store to find an appropriate gift (definitely not easy if you have the likes of Frick and Frack sharing their two cents) and then you have to find time to wrap it (praying to the heavens you actually have Scotch tape on hand) and then make another, separate (and always more fraught with havoc-related incidents) trip to the Post Office.

That’s why when I receive a gift from a Mom; I know that I am pretty darn special. I like to return the favor as much as I can. I have loads of special people in my life and I’d like them to know it.

Since Frack’s surgery dates were scheduled well in advance, I had plenty of time to organize myself and all the birthdays that were approaching in September. I decided to be a good Mommy/friend and buy a bunch of presents and packing materials for these birthdays (I have a lot of Virgo sisters out there). My intent was to have the presents wrapped, readily addressed and sent out even before the first week of September hit.

Well, I was a bit thrown when Frack’s first surgery was pushed back and kept thinking I could get to the presents over the Labor Day weekend. Labor Day weekend came and went. I realized that the first very important birthday was (eeks!) tomorrow.

Hey, I’m a Mom. I can problem-solve my way through almost anything. I can certainly problem solve my way through this. While the boys are finishing up breakfast, I’ll wrap this little sucker up and get it ready to go. Frick and I will drop Frack off at school and we will head across the road where the Post Office is conveniently located. Having only one child to manage at the Post Office is infinitely easier. With every less child you have to take, your stress level decreases exponentially.

I was so proud of myself, wrapping and taping like I didn’t have a care in the world. I picked up the address book and guess what? I did not have my fellow Virgo’s new address. Getting a present to her in a timely manner was going to be next to impossible. I called and left her a message to get me her new address when she could find the time. She’s a Mom with young kids. It could take a while.

What Would SJP Do?

It’s time for some self-disclosure. It’s a well-known secret among family members and friends that I delusionally believe that Sarah Jessica Parker is my best friend. The kind people who care about me ask me how my “best friend” is doing, what she’s been up to and alert me when she is on the cover of magazines or if she’s soon-to-be interviewed on television. They are gracious to feed my SJP delusion.

WWSJPDWhy would I choose her of all people? Well, first of all she is in one of me and Skee’s favorite movies of all time. If you have never seen ‘Girls Just Want to Have Fun’ you must immediately stop reading this, find it (I’m guessing this may be difficult as it is dated and obscure) and watch it. It is one of the single greatest coming-of-age, teenage girl stories of all time (and yes, there is dancing!).

The second reason is slightly more obvious. I have watched SJP as her star has risen as the lovable writer, Carrie Bradshaw. Sex and the City is my favorite show. I was despondent when it went off the air, joyous for the theatrical movie release (at which I dressed as the Carrie Bradshaw character for the premiere) and am over the moon that the sequel is currently being shot in NYC. If you have never seen the show, again, immediately stop reading this and go out and view all six seasons (and movie, too!). To be fair, the first season is more cartoonish and not as easy to relate to. As the show progresses and the characters find their hearts, the show beautifully depicts life, love and relationships with a good dose of inappropriate humor. And hey, who couldn’t use more inappropriate humor in their lives? (SATC hits its stride in season two and is at its best through season five; the series finale at the end of season six is stellar as well.)

I like that SATC blazed the path to show the world that women over thirty were interesting and watchable not to mention still out-of-this-world gorgeous. I think it helped launch shows like Desperate Housewives and the like which showed that women have much more to offer once they have escaped their youth (and no one escapes youth without emotional battle scars; that’s why grown women are so interesting). So bravo to the beautiful cast of SATC with my girl in the lead to help us ladies remember that we still got “it” no matter our age.

The third and probably most important reason I wish I could be her (other than the fact that she seems to effortlessly maintain a diminutive size-2 figure), is her seeming contagious joy for what is. It seems (this is all speculation) that SJP is completely comfortable in her own skin. She seems at ease with where she is in her life, emanates happiness and is kindly down-to-earth (I know this to be personally true as I have met her once in person; she was patient and sweet to everyone waiting to get her autograph). So, when I’m feeling down and kind of lost, I watch re-runs of SATC and think to myself; What would SJP do if faced with these circumstances? The answer is always the same. She’d put on a pair of killer heels (which in interviews she claims she’s more of a flip-flop gal), smile a dazzling smile and get on with her life. Who wouldn’t want a friend like that?



Nannie and Frick
Nannie and Frick

< Nannie and Frack<

Did you ever have something in your life that you thought was static and you believed it would never change? Then by some miracle of fate it turned into something different and better than you possibly imagined? Let me explain.

Growing up, I had two Grandmas and a Grandpa. By the time I was in college, I had no living grandparents. The only Grandpa I had known passed when I was small and I lost both my Grandmas the spring and summer before I was set to leave for college. Of course I was saddened that I was one of the few college freshman without grandparents, but I felt blessed that I had them in my life for whatever time I did.

Flash forward ten years and on my wedding day I inherited three grandparents from my husband’s family. I felt blessed beyond belief. They immediately welcomed me with open arms into their family. One of these grandparents is dear, sweet, precious Nan. She has been living with my in-laws (down the road from me) for a short while as she has recovered from some medical issues. For the most part, she has done well considering her age (being 93 and all). She has the most loving spirit of anyone that I know. She has accepted me fully and on several occasions emphasizes that I am her ‘granddaughter’ and not ‘a granddaughter-in-law’. Thank you, Nan.

Today T.Puzzle and I had lunch with her and Grandma. She is leaving us and is going to stay with her own daughter for the foreseeable future. We are sad to see her go because we will miss her. We are sending her off on a wave of love. Having her nearby has been such a healing grace for me. Losing my Mom only a few, short months ago has been one of the most difficult challenges of my life. Having Nan’s love and good intent spill into some of the hole that is in my heart was more than I could have asked for.

Everyone in this world should have a Nan. The world would be a much better place if we all did.

Nannie and Mickey on my wedding day

1 thought on “The Eclectic Collection”

  1. This one brought tears to my eyes for sure.

    I do have two sisters who are dolls…younger and one who really makes me have to realign myself during the holidays so I don’t lash-out at her in the middle of the mall while doing Christmas shopping.

    I remember growing up and getting into loads of trouble with my sister. My mom would go to work and we would stay home and take care of ourselves. As soon as she left we would turn on the Tv and pop in Sixteen Candles, Goonies or my fav back to the Future. We would make a giant glass of red koolaid and preceed to move chairs from the living room to right infront of the tv as if we were in a movie theater and then somehow sit in them so we were watching the tv upside down.

    OMG as I think back to this it really makes me laugh. We would recite the words from memory and then when I would see Molly Ringwald and the other girls I would get so inspired I would run and whip out my markers and start sketching my ideas for a clothing line I would one day create. Of course my sis was going to be the famous model so we would grab sheets and make dresses (which resembled more or less togas and wear those for the day).

    Then we would take out more sheets, blankets and the rest of the chairs from the table and make a sweet fort in the living room. A perfect area to view the afternoon series of soap operas.

    The best part was getting the phone call from mom that she was on her way home from work and the threat “the house better be clean””. So we would run around the house like crazy folding, and movie and shuffling everything so that it was in the proper place. She NEVER knew of our antics until we told her one day over margaritas. She laughed said wow I never knew you girls did that…and we laughed and thought, oh dear mom, there is a lot you don’t know. he he

    I am glad that you and your sister were able to grow up and be each others person. I think that is so great. I miss my sisters living here so far away from them but it makes it all the greater when I do get to see them.

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