Tag Archives: magic moments

Kind of All of That

So tonight our friends Chris and Marsha met us for dinner at the North Park Lounge. It’s been quite a whirlwind of a trip home for them — dealing with the sad news that Chris’ mother, Donna had passed away late last week at age 82. I received the news on Friday morning and felt truly sad, as I had remembered Chris’ mom as a very kind woman.

That morning here in Cranberry was a gorgeous day. It was two days since the snowstorm that gave us another 7-8” of snow. And the sun was gleaming against the bluest sky you can imagine. Crisp, cold, yet beautiful. I was driving to work and came up over a crest and saw the most breathtaking snow scene across a farmer’s field. It was truly peaceful, and I thought of Chris’ mother at that moment. What a glorious day it was to welcome Chris and Marsha home during this time — I said a quick prayer for their safe journey from Cary, NC to Darlington, PA. And I pondered for a minute, as it was one of those magic moments when you realize that everything was as it was supposed to be.

I called Greg on Friday night. I decided that I didn’t want to call Chris, as he probably had a lot of things coming at him at once. I wasn’t even sure when he would be getting in. Greg and Chris had been friends for almost 30 years — and had been best buds for a very long time. They had met working at McDonalds, which is how I became friends with the both of them. And when we all went our separate ways, Greg and Chris remained very close. Greg and I talked for a long time on Friday night. I think it’s these kind of events that bring everyone together — maybe it’s just to hear each other’s voice, or maybe it’s to make sure everyone’s okay — or maybe it’s kind of all of that. Not that we needed a reason to talk — we certainly touched base every so often — always with the best intentions that we would get together soon.

We both commented on how strong Chris’ mom was through all her trials — the loss of her husband and then her daughter, before losing her own long battle with cancer. All her pain was gone now, and she was in a better place — at peace, reunited with her husband and daughter. While there’s something very comforting in that, it still must be very difficult to lose your mother. And we knew this would be a tough weekend for Chris and Marsha.

So Wednesday I started getting the strep throat that everyone else in my office was getting. Even though I had started taking antibiotics, Saturday I was pretty sick and didn’t even go to church with Tom. Sunday was the memorial service at her church in Darlington, PA, and I unfortunately couldn’t go. I was sneezing and coughing every few minutes and would have made everyone uncomfortable around me in church. It made me very sad and at 4 pm, I prayed for a nice service in her memory.

So that brings to me today! Chris and Marsha met us for dinner — it was a nice break for them to get out of the house and away from the executor duties that Chris had been doing for the past two days, along with Marsha. And for Tom and me, well I am finally feeling better and really wanted to spent a little time with them. I’m just sitting here thinking about what a wonderful evening we had. What’s the best thing about Chris and Marsha? They’re like comfort food, you know? It’s like you’ve been friends for a lifetime and it’s so easy to be with them. You know, the kind of friends where you have everything in common — you laugh at the same things — you enjoy the same everything. And, it’s like you see them and realize they’re both okay, and they’re going to be okay.

Birthday WheelGreg joined us after work a couple hours later. It was good to see him too, and we all sat around talking about some of the best times from a long time ago. And then we talked about the big anniversary tomorrow — Chris and Marsha’s 20th wedding anniversary — an amazing 20 years!!! Where did the time go? We joked with our waiter that they wanted to spin the birthday wheel for their anniversary. We told him that they were visiting us from North Carolina, and while we wished we had a birthday, we had an anniversary instead! The manager gave them a spin. And wouldn’t you know, as luck would have it — they landed on the skinniest section of the wheel — a chance to win the grand prize of a Florida vacation. Marsha was jumping up and down and everyone was cheering — you would have thought they hit it big in the lottery! The spin off is in April, and Tom, Greg and I will be going back to spin for them with 52 other people.

I know there’s a still a long road ahead for Chris, as he has the responsibility to wrap up her estate. I think the process part of all of that is actually the easier part. Wrapping up someone’s entire life and passing it to a new generation has to be difficult — maybe it’s the memories, or maybe it’s the moments you’ll wish were still to come — or maybe it’s kind of all of that. God bless you both, Chris and Marsha during this time, and always.

Always B E L I E V E.

Once-in-a-Lifetime Magic

Our wedding invitation

Our wedding invitation. It was an accordion-folded piece with the rainbow colors of our wedding (click on image to enlarge).

Today is our 12-year wedding anniversary. It’s hard to believe it’s been 12 years. It seems like it was just last year. I think about all the things that has changed in the past 12 years, but one thing remains the same — Tom and me. The vows we made meant something to us and no matter how difficult things may have been, we found our way together. And we’ve always celebrated all the moments of joy in our marriage — ever thankful to God.

God has been a big part of our marriage since day one. We turned to God after being diagnosed with cancer a couple of months before our wedding. You can’t imagine the total devastation and despair we felt during that time. You can’t imagine what it felt like to be just eight weeks from our wedding day and be faced with the knowledge that we would never have any children together — and my future was so uncertain. I was scared — more scared than I ever knew I could be — for the first time, I wasn’t invincible. Plus, we were in the middle of everything — it was simply overwhelming. I started wondering if I should release Tom from his obligation — I was feeling incredibly guilty on top of everything else.

Leaving the church — we were just married on July 7, 2001.

Leaving the church — we were just married on July 7, 2001. We were overjoyed in celebrating life.

In such a short time, we had so many dreams. We loved each other — and I couldn’t imagine my life without Tom in it. And the truth was, Tom couldn’t imagine his life without me either. He showed his true character when I needed him the most. And I believe our vows meant something even more when we said them on this day, 12 years ago. It was a beautiful gift that God gave to us — joining us in holy matrimony.

My brother Bob talked to us numerous times throughout our marriage, but his initial conversation gave us clear direction in the middle of the chaos. His words of wisdom gave us the strength we needed and our path became clear — we were following the path that God had planned for us. Bob told us that we could make all the plans we wanted, but in the end, it’s God’s plan we follow. And if we can let him lead us in our lives, we will have fulfilling and happy lives. That was the moment that we learned to trust God. This was life changing for me.

It was like a someone flicked on a light switch. I had resolve that my life now had a new purpose. I know that sounds crazy, but that’s what happened. I remember my new doctor — an oncologist named Fred Price, called me on a Sunday night to talk to me. My surgery was scheduled for the coming Tuesday. I’m sure he didn’t know what to think of me — I was my usual outgoing and happy person with him on the phone. There were no tears, I was ready to move forward. I replaced fear and anxiety with trust in God. And we did that throughout our marriage during all the difficult times.

I know it’s my anniversary, and I’m reflecting on the things that surrounded our wedding 12 years ago. But those things directly impacted our marriage and shaped it to what it is today. So I decided to put together my list of things that has kept us strong.

  1. Give it to God. By putting complete trust in him, we are able to stay positive and know that we are following his plan for us. Plus, God gives us both hope, peace and unimaginable moments of joy. No matter how hard things may get, we know that he is always with us, and we are never alone.
  2. Laugh together. At the stupid things, at the funny things — at everything you can. Sometimes, in the middle of a project, when things were just not going right — we would laugh instead of getting angry at each other. Sometimes we would get angry too — but laughter is always the best medicine. And with a husband like Tom, it’s not hard to do. He’s also joking and goofing around.
  3. Respect each other. I never say anything that would hurt Tom’s feelings. And he does the same for me. It’s kind of a silent rule that we are kind to each other even if we’re angry. Oh — and the going to bed angry advice you get on your wedding day — it’s okay to go to bed angry. Sometimes you just need some time to think things through and see things differently tomorrow.
  4. Lean on each other. When bad things happen, you deal with it the best you can, and you have each other to make it through — you do it together as a team. Sure, there are times during my illness that I feel completely alone, but those are my trials. And then are times that I am so thankful I have such a wonderful partner.
  5. Celebrate the good, even the smallest of things. We celebrate as much as we can for all kinds of reasons — with our family and close friends — we love you all!
  6. Count your blessings. The past 12 years has blest us with so many things. It’s so easy to focus on the things we don’t have. Our gifts are so abundant and we’re ever so thankful to God.
  7. Find time for just the two of you. We do so much with family and friends that sometimes we need to schedule some time for just the two of us. Like having date night once a month or scheduling a couple of long weekend trips somewhere romantic. It gives us time to reconnect and just enjoy each other.
  8. Look for magic moments. Realize that sometimes the simplest things can change your whole day. It’s those little moments in time that can pass so quickly that if we’re not looking, can miss something very special.
  9. Never stop dreaming and do something unexpected. Tom and I are always making grand plans of some kind. That keeps our marriage exciting and the future filled with life and love. Doing something unexpected takes us out of our routine — like the jet ski we bought this summer. Okay — unexpected!!! Yet exciting!
  10. Curl up with a cat. Okay, this one is completely therapeutic! Besides the fact that Benny completely annoys me while I’m trying to finish my blog post, I love that little guy, and he or Sidney can brighten my mood anytime. And the same for Tom. For as much as he says, “kick the cat,” he really means, “my life would have less joy without those two little fur balls.”

Sometimes I wonder how I got so lucky. Today Tom washed the bed sheets, the towels and whatever miscellaneous laundry we had. He helped me clean the kitchen by taking all of the furniture out of it. He then swept the floors before swiffering it. He helped me clean the stainless and all the surfaces. He made it so easy for me to clean the hardwood — he did all the prep. And while I did that, he put the bed back together and vacuumed the entire house. He took out all the trash and made countless trips up and down the stairs. And then he asked me what else he could do to help.

We truly are one and tackle everything together, side-by-side. We rarely do things without each other. We took vows before God, and we live those vows with such conviction. Our love is truly a once-in-a-life love. Our life is filled with that once-in-a-lifetime magic.

Happy Anniversary Tom. I will love you forever and eternity.

Always B E L I E V E !

Frozen in Time

I had one of those “magic moments” last weekend when Tom and I went boating at Shenango Lake with my family. We truly had one of the most enjoyable and memorable days to kick off summer! There were a few minutes during the day that I stopped to take it all in — and it literally took my breath away.

It was the Saturday before Father’s Day, and I was already feeling a bit of melancholy without Dad here. We had planned to take our new wave runner out for the first time of the season — and our first time ever — it’s a 1996 Seadoo — we purchased from good friends of ours. We couldn’t take it out the weekend we bought it, because it was too cold. I had gotten a kidney infection on Wednesday night and missed two days of work from the fevers and pain — I was miserable. We figured our chances of going out over the weekend were pretty much not happening. But Saturday I got up with no pain, no fevers, feeling on top of the world before 7 am — which is a miracle in itself for me on the weekend! I made Tom a big breakfast — pancakes and bacon, and we sat down to watch the morning news — and learned that this day was going to be 83° — and quite possibly the most perfect day of the summer for us. We decided to take it out.

We met up with my brother, Tommy, my sister Debbie and her girls, Megan and Tara. Debbie’s husband, Scott came as well, but he didn’t join us on the water — he fished from the shore. Tommy has a pretty big recreational boat that he wake boards with or pulls someone on a tube. Not my thing to ride the tube, because it’s so jarring — nor something my doctors would probably ever approve, so I go along for the ride and enjoy the day under the sun. And as I think about it, I’m not sure what my doctors would think about me on a wave runner either — but I think they would approve of me enjoying life to the fullest — and being as active as I’m comfortable, while knowing my limits.

My brother Tommy testing the limits of the jet ski.

My brother Tommy testing the limits of the jet ski.

Before lunch, everyone managed to ride the jet ski either by themselves or in a duo. Tommy was the crazy one, driving it at top speed and then turning sharply 360°, causing the nose of the wave runner to plummet down into the water, kicking the back-end up with water gushing all around him. I knew that was something I would never even attempt — even on my bravest day! My husband took it out the most, taking each of my nieces on it. Everyone in my family, except for me, had their boating license already, so even my nieces were allowed to drive it alone. I had to get mine before we took it out.

So, I had managed to pass my boaters safety course earlier in the week. It took me over six hours online, and I kept getting confused on the same things — the night time lights — it was like one of those old math problems, “if a train is traveling from Seattle to Pittsburgh at a speed of 72 miles per hour…” This test had questions like, “If you see one white light on a boat at night with a red light is it: a) a sailboat; b) a sailboat with a motor c) the back of a motorized boat or d) did you actually study for the test?” That’s how it felt anyways, I would seriously get confused. Not to mention when I studied online, I kept skimming over the areas that weren’t super relevant to me — after all, my “PWC or “personal water craft” doesn’t have any lights as it’s put away well before dark. So I don’t really care what color the lights are! Anyways, I passed and Tommy kept asking me things like, “Ok, so you know what to do if you flip it over…?” and I was like, “that is NEVER going to happen.” LOL. I guess you never know, but for me, it’s highly unlikely.

Tommy’s boat has these big speakers mounted to his wake boarding tower. It’s a major set up that was pretty foreign to me as he kept describing it all winter on Facebook. He managed to rig up the sound system to stream music live from the internet through his phone using some bluetooth device he found online. And, that’s when the moment happened…

Left to right: Tom, Debbie, Tommy, Tara and Megan.

Left to right: Tom, Debbie, Tommy, Tara and Megan.

Tommy and Tom had tied the jet ski to the boat and we were going to have lunch together. Nothing fancy, but Debbie pulled cold cuts out of the cooler and everyone was chattering about as they fixed their sandwiches, trying to get a seat in the shade under the canopy. The song “Highway Don’t Care,” by Tim McGraw, Taylor Swift and Keith Urban was blaring out of his speakers, and I was sitting in the back seat so I could get the full affect. The moment just reminded me of us sitting in my Dad’s fishing boat as kids as my Mom pulled out cold cut sandwiches, cookies and soda. I took a picture of everyone and in that moment, my eyes welled up with tears — it made me so happy — it doesn’t get any better than this — these are the magic moments in life! These are those fractions, those seconds, those moments in time that if you’re not paying attention, will just pass you by — a missed opportunity. Tom had to ask me twice if I wanted ketchup or mayonnaise — and the word, “ketchup,” caught in my throat, but I quickly recovered — thankful that I had my sunglasses on so that everyone wouldn’t wonder why the tears. It’s been over a week since this moment happened, yet I remember it like it just happened seconds ago — frozen in time.

I pray that I am able to realize one magic moment every day. Sometimes I think that I can’t experience them if I’m too busy or too stressed — or simply because I wasn’t looking. I think the formula is pretty easy:  family/friends + love + faith = magic moments. For me, maybe a little nostalgia mixed in as well. I also pray that everyone is able to take time in their busy lives to make note of all those little moments that touch their heart.

Always B E L I E V E !

Moments in Time

Peters' Pub

Belated Christmas Party at the Peters’

Well, feeling almost fully recovered, Tom and I decided to have our annual Christmas Eve party on January 27, 2013. We invited the immediate family (we hadn’t even exchanged gifts since I was in the hospital over Christmas) and a few close friends from St. Gregory’s parish.

I made an orange dreamsicle jello salad and two banana cream pies on Saturday. I cooked most of Sunday, making Pittsburgh Potatoes, an Italian, three-cheese pasta dish, a ham, pepperoni rolls and pretzel bites. I spent most of the day on my feet and paid for it with cramps all night long in bed. But it didn’t matter, it was worth it!

My mom got me two bottles of my favorite wine (Well Hung from the 3 Brothers Winery in Finger Lakes, NY). I asked her how she managed that, and she had my brother make a special trip to that winery when he was there over Christmas. And he got me another favorite of mine, Niagra from Lakewood Winery. Oh, if you’ve ever been the Finger Lakes, there’s no place like it. My brother, Bob goes to the Finger Lakes every year at Christmastime to get an ornament from each winery for a wreath — it’s a holiday tradition at the wineries in the Finger Lakes.

Tara, Megan, Tom and Debbie opening gifts at the party.

Tara, Megan, Tom and Debbie opening gifts at the party.

My brother, Tom got us a queen-sized mink blanket for our bed. It’s a very interesting blanket with giant leopards on it. It has that 1970’s vibe (I think it belongs on a water-bed). I joke, but the last few days have been so cold that I am loving it! Not to mention, I have to wrestle it away from Benny who curls up on it every chance he gets! It hasn’t even made it to our bedroom — I am using it right here on the leather couch.

My sister, Debbie got me this crystal that you hang in a window and it shines rainbows all over the room. How amazing is that? The side window in the dining room has morning sun and it’s absolutely magical. She also found this beautiful art glass sculpture that I’ve already added to my mantle.

Megan and my Mom stop to smile at the camera while opening gifts.

Megan and my Mom stop to smile at the camera while opening gifts.

I loved all the gifts and there’s too many to list here. But this year, more so than any other year, were not important. I sat on the chair watching my family — my sister and her girls and my brother all crammed on the couch, just joking and laughing and it was a moment frozen in time. For me, I caught a little tear in my throat, because I know how lucky I am to have moments like this. It could have been so different. And it’s why this year is the year of renewed faith in life. And this event — our Christmas, in January — was the first of many celebrations. I owe so much gratitude to God. I thank him for carrying me when I was weak, and here I am — on the other side. He saw me through. If you don’t believe — B E L I E V E ! For God works miracles every day.

I am wishing everyone a healthy and prosperous new year.