The Gift of Reflection

Today, I attended a funeral. The third in two weeks. Sadly, one of them was for a young woman in her thirties. One of them was for my favorite uncle. And today was for a wonderful person, a woman I have know since I was a child. A woman who was one of my older sister’s best friends. A woman who was a neighbor of ours for the last ten years. That’s the facts.

But life is so much more than facts. Life is an emotion-filled learning experience. Today’s funeral mass is one that will long be remember, not only as a loving tribute to this beautiful woman, but as a learning experience. Often, when we attend the funeral of people in their seventies and eighties, the church is filled with younger folks. Friends of their children are there to pay their respects. At this Mass, Mike and I sat in back of the church. All the better to witness the myriad of older people in attendance. Clearly, this woman had made a significant impact on her peers. The poignant eulogy delivered by one of her daughters, confirmed this observation. In the eulogy, we learned about Janet’s quiet kindness, unfailing faith, devotion to her family, strength in difficult situations, humor and her commitment to serve others. One cannot be confronted with the exemplary life of another, without examining their own life.

Janet will be missed by many. But in death, Janet’s beautiful life will now serve as a reminder to reach out to others and be the best that I can be. Today, was tearful and wretching, but offered the gift of reflection. It offered another chance to press pause in my busy life and remind myself to stay true to my convictions and live life with love, laughter and kindness to others. Rest in peace, Janet!


My Day is Numbered

I’m beat. It was a busy day and my brain is shutting down quickly.  So…I think I’ll employ that numbers technique used in several slices recently and share my day.

One son called early this morning in need of my help.

Two tasks needed to be done.

Three on my list, was attending my writing critique group which included

Four other women.

Five of us collaborated and critiqued each other’s work.

Six o’clock came quickly after shopping, wrapping birthday gifts and some phone calls. By

Seven o’clock we were having dinner with our son and one of the grandkids.

Eight birthday presents are wrapped and waiting to be given to another one of our grandkids. In

Nine more minutes I will be in my pajamas and ready to relax. I bet that in

Ten more minutes I will be asleep. Goodnight!


A Reflection on “Presence”

It occurs to me that presence is perhaps the ultimate gift we can give another and perhaps the, deepest longing of the human heart. To me, the gift of presence means the ability to be fully engaged and completely attentive, both physically and emotionally, to another person. It means having the ability to clear the deck, create the space, turn off the computer or cell phone and in many cases, even our own voice, in order to listen, to listen with our heart. Consider your most meaningful relationships. No doubt, most of them live beside a cacophony of sound and within a bevy of activity. When was the last time you really listened to a loved one…not to advise, not to persuade, not to be entertained, but simply because they needed you.

Today, I had the opportunity to be present to a loved one and I chose to take it. This occurence wasn’t on my calendar, wasn’t in my plans. The result was simple but profound. I witnessed my loved one’s anxiety lift, smile return, body relax. I saw the transformation from agitation to serenity, from fear to courage, from negative to positive. This was not the result of any magic words or solid advice I offered. It was simply the result of the decision to sit, to listen, to stay and to practice patience. In a word, it was simply a product of love. In the end, two people grew closer, two people felt better and two people gained a deeper appreciation of what it means to be present to another.

Keeping the Lamb at Bay

Uniformed in green, trashcans line the streets like soldiers on guard duty.

At their feet, clouds of snow are prisoners awaiting the sun’s arrival and their demise.

Wind’s harsh breath adds movement to this otherwise still scene, as March’s lion holds ¬† his¬†ground, keeping the lamb at bay.


There was a touch of spring in the air today. That, coupled with longer days, confirm that warm and sunny days will soon be the norm. The seasonal changes truly amaze and affect my life. Each season is a treasure unveiling its gifts incrementally and challenging us to unwrap each one. Right now, green grass peeking out from snow-covered lawns, puddles shining in the bright sun, stark, brown tree limbs against a cloudless blue sky and the faint tweet of a bird, blend beauty and promise. These sights and sounds prompt me to consider the flowers I’ll plant, the vacation I’ll plan, and the precious memories I’ll make during welcomed months ahead.

Happy Birthday, Dear Son-in-Law

It was a busy weekend and I forgot that today is our son-in-law’s birthday. We have four sons, but only one son-in-law. Kevin is a special guy and right from the start of their romance when Rose was in college, we knew she had found a winner. After dinner, I ran out to get a card and gift for Kevin because I didn’t want the day to pass without reminding him how much he means to us. On his birthday, I am so grateful that Kevin came into Rose’s life and into our family. Kevin is a wonderful husband and father. To watch him with his children is a delight. He is patient and kind, always has time to explain things to them and also knows how to draw a hard line when needed. To witness Kevin and Rose’s relationship is also a delight. After meeting in college, they waited until Kevin finished his law degree to wed. During those college years and into her twenties, we were alwasy so grateful that Rose was spending time with such a quality man and never had to worry about her safety if she was with Kevin.

Once they married, they moved to New Jersey for five years. Although I hated the distance, I believe it enabled them to quickly become a unit and learn to depend on one another. Both of their children were born in Jersey. When they moved back to Pennsylvania (only six minutes away), they lived with us for two months during the transition. Rose would get upset because we always took Kevin’s side. This little stint at co-habitation, only confirmed our respect for Kevin. Kevin truly is everything we could want in a son-in-law…friendly, caring, hard-working, smart, fun, and most of all he loves our daughter and their kids with a beautiful, commited love that will undoubtedly see them through the ups and downs of life. Happy Birthday, Kevin. We’re glad your onboard!

A Letter to Sunday

Dear Sunday,                                                                                                                                               It  occurs to me that I often take you for granted. Although the gifts you offer are not always the same, there’s a consistent commonality among your weekly visits that offers an easy peacefulness. At the same time, you contain enough variety to keep me on my toes, always seeking those special occasions that turn into fond memories. For example, today I attended Mass, as usual, and had some time to relax and read the paper with hubby. By 1:00pm, I was in my seat eagerly anticipating a piano recital in which two of our grandaughters would make their debut. It did not disappoint. How proud I felt to watch them perform and know that the gift of music will be a part of their lives. This memory and the precious photo of the two of them, will become a treasure. Some routine shopping and dinner prep took up the rest of the day and ended with a Sunday dinner that was just okay. I really have to invest in a good meat thermometer.

As you prepare to depart, just know that I appreciate the treasures you hold. As a retiree, you are quickly becoming my new favorite day of the week.

Gratefully, Rita