Tag Archives: Happy Birthday

Happy Birthday, Sis!

Debbie will always be younger than me. When we were little, she used to hate that. Debbie was always the baby of the family — until Tommy came along. But even then, she was still the baby — the littlest girl. At least that’s the way I saw it — and I was completely okay with that. That’s just how it was.


I wouldn’t trade having a sister for the world. We were best friends and buddies for most of our childhood. We didn’t have any neighbors, so we played together with our older brother, Bob. We didn’t always play well together. We used to get jealous of each other all the time. Well, probably me more jealous of her than vice versa. She would shed the tears, and I would get in trouble — that’s how it always was. She was always so sweet, and well, I spoke my mind a lot more. I guess that’s just a middle kid trait.

I can remember cutting the hair short on her barbie dolls, because I wanted my barbies to be prettier. I got in trouble for that. We used to set up her Fisher Price “little people” sets in the game room where my Mom’s office was and play all day, making up stories of the lives of those little plastic people. Sometimes we’d incorporate Bob’s Lincoln Logs into the town. He’d play with us too. Debbie loved Fisher Price, while I loved Mattel. But we always played together. And my parents always bought two of everything for Christmas, because they knew better — two baby dolls, two baby carriages, two pot holder maker sets, two barbie doll airplanes. I loved those planes — called “Barbies’ Friend Ship.” When I got a Light Bright set, Debbie got a Play Doh set. If I got a pink flannel nightie, Debbie got a purple one.

We used to play outside all summer. I think Mom was looking to get us out of her hair. Growing up in the country, we used to play in the woods everyday, because it was cooler in there. Dad built us a playhouse up in the trees, but when they put the vegetable garden in, they cut those trees down. So then he moved the playhouse into the woods for us. We had this great little kids table and chairs set that fit in there perfectly. Unfortunately, the Wood Spiders loved the playhouse as much as we did. Now, if you ever lived near pine trees, you know about Wood Spiders! I remember one year, Debbie and I went into the playhouse and sat down at the table and not but a second later did we realize there were a dozen of those giant, black tarantula-like spiders all over the inside of that playhouse! From then on, we used to peek inside cautiously, sometimes making Bob go in first. There were always spiders in there, so we stopped using it. To this day, I am still super afraid of spiders — and absolutely petrified of Wood Spiders.

But, we still loved the woods. I used to take these hand trimmers from the garage and find a thicker area of pine trees and squeeze among the branches, cutting the little branches off until I created a series of rooms, making our own playhouse out of trees. And then, we’d stuff these long pine needles between the remaining branches to create solid walls among the branches. I think about it now and realize how creative that actually was. And, as an adult, I now realized that there were probably Wood Spiders hanging on those pine trees as part of their camouflage too. But what we didn’t know, didn’t hurt us! We then would head over through the woods a piece to an area of tall, dried grass and cut some of that down. We’d spread it on the floor in these rooms like carpet and play in there all day.

We spent all day, every day outside — and if not in the woods, we would be riding our bikes, dancing in the yard, twirling our batons or playing with our kitties. Or ducks. Mom and Dad bought us ducks the first or second year we moved into the house on Rt. 168. Bob got a baby male duckling and Debbie and me got girls. Well, Bob’s got mean and would chase us — and try to bite us. We couldn’t even go outside. Finally my Dad had enough, and I remember he came home one night, went out and cut the head off that mean duck. We didn’t get anymore ducks after that.

Debbie and I loved cats! She got a baby kitty one year before we moved into the house on Rt. 168. So, she would have been around three years old. She named that cat, Kitty Tiger Miller, and he was an orange tiger cat. He got hit on the road, Mom put him in a box and we buried him. Lots of tears were shed over that one, but there would be lots more in the coming years — like Debbie’s little black kitty, she named him “Blackie.” Well, he was just a kitten when he got backed over in the driveway. He was the same color as the gravel! I had a female cat, named Kitty. Oh yea, how original was that name? She had two litters of kittens each year and Debbie and I would be in our glory playing with those babies.

Debbie used to raise rabbits. That started with a bunny that she got for Easter one year — a black bunny named Oscar. He lived a really long time. Debbie got so into raising rabbits that she raised them for 4-H and showed them at the Hookstown Fair — I think she raised Palominos. I remember one year, some dogs came while we were all at the fair and barked under the rabbit cages, killing all the rabbits — the poor little things had heart attacks. I felt so bad for Deb, her heart was broken too, and she didn’t raise any more rabbits after that.

When we got a little bit older, we used to hike to a pond down in the woods. It was a good ways, but we knew how to get there, because my Dad and Mom always took us hiking on their property. Every Spring, Dad would take a can of florescent paint and go around the entire perimeter and spray paint these iron markers he had put in the ground. So, we knew how to get there and in the Spring, we’d take a small sand bucket and fill it with tadpole eggs. We’d have tadpoles a short time later. Debbie and me used to hike there in just our flip flops and walk into this swampy pond — it was thick, black mud that smelled terrible. But we didn’t care. Sometimes we lost our flip flops and had to dig them out by hand!

Speaking of flip flops, I remember another time we were walking along a stream at the base of the gully in our flip flops, a short hike from the tadpole pond. And a small brown snake slithered through the stream, over the rocks and over my foot! I screamed and flipped out — and then Debbie flipped out with me — and we tried to climb the steep walls of that gully, but kept sliding back down as the leaves were so loose against the damp ground. When we finally got to the top, we were covered in mud from head to toe. Bob led us to the road and we walked back to the house from Rt. 168. Passing motorists probably thought we were some kind of hillbillies. But no, we were just kids without too many rules — except one — to always look after each other.

Mom would take us to the public swimming pool in East Palestine, OH about once a week in the summer. It was a reward for us behaving for her during the week. Debbie, Bob and me used to stand along the edge of the pool and play all kinds of games — like follow the leader. Debbie would strike a pose, then each of us had to follow suit — plunging into the water. Those were the days — just the best, best days. We would spent hours climbing up the giant sliding board just to slide down into the pool — It was this big metal slide — I can still remember how the steps would feel on the bottom of my feet — they had these giant holes in them so you wouldn’t slip.

Debbie and me used to share a bedroom — our entire childhood until she moved out when she got married at age 25. That would mean we shared the same space for 25 years! When we were little, I’d tell her stories. As we got older, I would complain that she snored — I used to make her mad when I told her that. I remember one time we decided to put masking tape down the middle of the room — she couldn’t come on my side, and I couldn’t go onto hers. My side of the bedroom had the window — and I loved that, because I could lay there in the middle of the night in the summer and hear all the bugs, owls and other noises outside. I especially loved the summer storms and the winter snowfall. I wouldn’t change that we shared that bedroom. We used to talk at night before we fell asleep — talk about anything and everything — and she knew my dreams and I knew hers.

It never mattered how mad we would get or how many fights we would have — we would always forgive, forget and move on. I believe to this day that I truly do forget things and don’t hold grudges, because of my sister, Debbie. It wasn’t acceptable to stay angry at anyone in our family — and more than anyone, I picked on Debbie. She forgave me every time. And, I forgave her just as much.

Like I said, I wouldn’t trade having a sister for anything. There is no better best friend. When I got sick in 2001, my sister was one of those people that I could count on for anything, anywhere, anytime, all the time. And, she has been there more than ever over the past couple of years — finding someone to take her kids to their events, so she could take me to my doctor’s appointments, for my tests and other unexpected things. She never complained — and she gave of herself unselfishly.

As I reflect on it today, on her birthday, I realize that part of who I am today is because of her. She is my best friend, my sister and has touched my life in a very special way. Happy Birthday, Debbie! I wish you many, many more years of happy birthdays!

Always  B E L I E V E !

Happy Birthday, Dad


Dad would have been 73 today. It’s still hard to believe he’s been gone almost 11 years. It’s hard to believe, because it feels like I was just at the house talking to him last week. Maybe it’s because I talk to him all the time. I mean, he always had the best advice, and he always knew the right answer to anything. And, I’ve had a lot of things where I’ve needed his advice in the past 11 years!

Sometimes I’ll find myself just wondering if he knows what’s happened since he’s been gone — he’s never seen our home, he wasn’t here when I started my business, he didn’t know most of the struggles I’ve had with my health. Most of all, I wonder if he’s proud of me, because that is what all of us kids strived for — to make Mom and Dad proud in everything we did — and to this day, I still make decisions around whether or not Mom and Dad would approve. And when the decision is a really tough one, I ask myself, “now, what would Dad tell me to do?”

Dad walking me down the aisle, July 7, 2001

Dad walking me down the aisle, July 7, 2001

I remind myself that at least he got to know Tom, and he walked me down the aisle and danced at my wedding. At least he was here for that. Then I shake my head, because I know deep inside my heart that he knows everything that is happening here on earth. And that he’s proud of all of us — I can see his grin and nod of approval as I think about that.

I know he watches over Mom. They would have celebrated 50 years of marriage this coming August. Together, they taught all of us how to love each other — through the good times and the bad. Dad just knew how to love. He would flirt with Mom all the time and was always joking around. His family was the center of his world. He showed me the kind of man I wanted to have in my life — and I didn’t care if it took me a long time to find it. When people talk about soul mates — there’s no doubt in mind that these two souls were one.

I remember a few years ago that one of the diamonds had fallen out of my Mom’s wedding ring. She looked for it everywhere. One day she was sitting on her bed and said out loud, “Bob, help me find my diamond,” and wouldn’t you know it rolled down the comforter beside her on the bed? She couldn’t believe that somehow the diamond had been in her bed all that time — and at that moment came into her sight. I know it was Dad, as he’s always with her.

Dancing with Dad at my wedding in 2001.

Dancing with Dad at my wedding in 2001.

Dad loved country music. He liked the old stuff — his favorite was Crystal Gayle, but he liked superstars like Conway Twitty, Loretta Lynn, Johnny Cash and others. Dad loved to sing. I can remember car trips where he taught us songs from his boy scouting days. Song like “Wooly Undies or You Can’t Get to Heaven.” After 30 years, I still know ever word by heart.

Dad had a lot of charisma and rhythm that just made you want to get up and dance — whether at home, in the car, at a wedding — anywhere at all! I think I was probably 10 or 11 years old when Dad and Mom took dance lessons. They would practice in the living room at home with 8-tracks on their stereo. Us kids would sit and watch them every week. And then they went dancing with their friends every Saturday night in Ohio. Oh, how I loved to watch them dance.

Debbie and her steer, Gus in 1987 at Hookstown Fair.

Debbie and her steer, Gus in 1987 at Hookstown Fair.

Dad loved the outdoors. For a guy from the “city” (Beaver Falls, PA), he dreamed of living in the country, building a barn and raising a few cattle, pigs, sheep, chickens and other animals. He thought it would be good for his family. So, after getting married, that’s exactly what they did. This is where I learned that you can make anything happen, if you just believe and put in the effort that’s required.

So, Dad talked to a neighbor or two about how it’s done, built a barn, bought a few steers, a few pigs, a few sheep — and we joined the Beaver Country 4-H Stockman’s Club. Yep, here we came — to the Hookstown Fair as city slickers when all these other kids grew up on big farms — you know, the kind where they actually farmed their own land, growing their own hay and grain to feed their 100+ head of livestock. We had to buy ours at the store. It wasn’t quite the same thing. But you know what? It sure did what he set out to do — to teach us kids responsibility. My chores started early before school and wrapped up as the sun went down and it was good old-fashioned hard work. And in the winter, those chores were twice as bad as you can imagine. But those 10 years of my life were some of the most rewarding — I learned more than you can imagine.

Dad and his boat.

Dad and his boat.

Yes, he loved the outdoors — fishing, hunting and boating topped the list. The boat we had growing up was just big enough to fit the family of six. It was a fishing boat, and we learned how to fish. And like the family vacation road trips, our boating adventures had the same amount of mishaps. I remember one year Dad forgot the plug and the boat started sinking. This was literally the week after I saw the 1978 Piranha movie. Or there was the time that we were on Lake Pymatuming in a severe thunderstorm — Dad pulled the boat to the shore and we had to ride it out, exposed to the lightning. That was the time that Mom tried to get Dad to change out of his heavy jeans into her purple polka dot shorts while his pants dried out on shore. He refused and said he would rather sit in his underwear, because someone might see him in those shorts. Sure enough, the fish & game commission came around to check our fishing licenses. If he had been wearing those purple shorts… we laughed about that for years. I could come up with a story almost every time we took the boat out!

We know when he’s near us. I was in Walmart this past Good Friday (I know there’s something sacrileges about that), looking for a new roaster for Mom’s retirement party. And my sister texted me, “Bad, Bad Leroy Brown is on in the beauty shop. Dad is here,” and I replied, “Better with you than me. I’m at Walmart and it’s a zoo.” Dad hated Walmart.

But, we know Dad is near when we hear “Bad, Bad Leroy Brown,” because it was his favorite song. My Mom and Dad danced to this song all the time — and they would cut the rug to this one! It’s just one of those songs that you never hear — it’s not like it’s a popular oldies song you’d even hear on an oldies station. It started with Debbie and Mom — they heard it somewhere and associated it with Dad. And from then on, we feel like it’s Dad’s way of telling us he’s present.

Debbie heard it at the Hookstown Fair one year, in the middle of the night — it woke her out of a deep sleep — it just came blasting over the loud speakers. She’s on the fair board and stays at the campgrounds all week long — Dad used to be on the fair board and spent a lot of time at that fair. She didn’t sleep much the rest of that night. She heard it in Wendy’s, grabbing lunch with my Mom after a funeral of a farmer who my Dad knew well. Seriously, why would Wendy’s be playing that song? I was driving on my way to work one morning and it was the most glorious day. I was literally thinking about how absolutely beautiful it was outside today — and boom, there it came over my radio — I had to check what station I was listening to, because I couldn’t believe it. I even recorded it on my iphone. I heard it coming out of town one day after talking to Dad in the car — I was singing that song at the top of my lungs! We always make note of when it happens.

I wonder what Dad would be doing today if he were here. Well, this past weekend was opening trout fishing. I think he would have gone to the mountains — and most definitely would have made us pick a different date for Mom’s retirement party so he could have stayed the whole weekend up there. I’m sure he would be fishing or sitting on the porch at the cabin. Or maybe he’d be plowing the garden for my Mom, getting it ready for summer vegetables. I know he would be blowing off the stink of this past, long winter. And he would be making plans. He was always making some kind of plans — and they were always grand plans!

And then I wonder what he is doing in Heaven. And, I hope it’s something really similar. I hope he’s fishing on the banks of the most gorgeous lake — but, then I think, he’s probably working on some kind of grand plans up there too. But whatever he’s doing, he’s definitely planning for the day that the rest of us join him for all eternity — where there will be no more tears — and only love.

Happy Birthday, Dad. Thinking of you today.

Wooly Undies
I wear my wooly undies in the summer when it’s hot
And I wear my wooly undies in the winter when it’s not
And…
Sometimes in the springtime
And sometimes in the fall
I jump between the sheets with nothing on at all!

Glory, Glory Halleluia
Glory, Glory Halleluia
Glory, Glory Halleluia
His troops go marching on!

Oh You Can’t Get to Heaven
Dad:  Ohhhhh, you can’t get to Heaven…
Us:  Ohhhhh, you can’t get to Heaven…

Dad:  On roller skates…
Us:  On roller skates…

Dad:  Because roller skates…
Us:  Because roller skates…

Dad:  Pass by those pearly gates…
Us:  Pass by those pearly gates…

All:  Oh, you can’t get to Heaven on roller skates, because roller skates, pass those pearly gates — Oh, I ain’t gonna leave my Lord no more…

Billboard Song
As I was walking down the street, a billboard caught my eye
The advertising section, would make you laugh or cry
The rain and sleet that night before washed half that board away
If you were to read that billboard now, this is what it say:
Come smoke a Coca-Cola, tomato ketchup cigarettes,
See lily and lily wrestle with a box of oysterettes
BBD’s the best hotel in town, you’ll pay $10 down
Buy popcorn for your horses, you’ll find it’s the best in town!
Hay, hay!

On Top of Spaghetti
On top of spaghetti
all covered with cheese
I lost my poor meatball
when somebody sneezed

It rolled off the table
and onto the floor
and then my poor meatball
rolled out the door

It rolled in the garden
and under a bush
and now my poor meatball
is nothing but mush

The mush was a tasty
as tasty could be
and early next summer
in grew a big tree

The tree was all covered
all covered with moss
and on it grew meatballs
and tomato sauce

So if you eat spaghetti
all covered with cheese
hold on to your meatball
whenever you sneeze

Happy Birthday to My Boys!

Happy Birthday Tom and Benny!

Happy Birthday Tom and Benny! Card from Night Owl Paper Goods.

Happy birthday to my wonderful husband Tom! May your day be filled with all kinds of wonderful moments — it’s owl about you! We’ll toast to you on Saturday!

And happy birthday to my little kitty, Benny! I’ll save some extra treats for you little guy.