Last night I attended an Engagement Party in honor of my son and his fiancee, hosted by her beautifully kind and generous mother. It was the first opportunity for our two families to meet together as a group and learn about each other. The setting was a restaurant in Chicago owned by a friend of the host. The owner addressed us after each course to give us information about the wines he had selected to accompany the food. There was such a delightful atmosphere of appreciation and curiosity and exuberance flowing around that dynamic place!
After dessert, the hostess requested a song from the Galasso clan. We managed to respond with a 3-part round of “Dona Nobis Pacem” – give us peace. After that, the bride’s grandfather’s travelling companion, a retired singer from Haiti, sang a beautiful song in Spanish. I don’t speak Spanish myself, but easily recognized the phrase “Te quiero” returning longingly throughout. It reminded me of the first letter my late husband Jim wrote to me when I was a sophomore in High School. He was taking Spanish classes then; I was taking Italian. He wrote “Te quiero” at the bottom of that letter. I didn’t know what it meant. It wasn’t “Te amo” or “Ti amo”, but something different. I had to look it up.
Te quiero. A new love, casual, close, lively. Not as intense and romantic as “Te amo”, it translates more literally to “I want you”.
I want Love. I want Peace. I want a future full of happiness…for everyone, really.
And now, I want to share a gallery of expressions from family and friends, expressions of love (especially for my mother and siblings in California!).
What are the odds of marrying your High School sweetheart and keeping your vows “until parted by death” in the 21st century?
What are the odds of having the love you have, the life you have, the family you have, the memories you have?
Well, I don’t think the odds mean anything. People don’t live by the numbers. We live by the moment. Don’t you?
Two years ago, I did a blog project that I called “80 Years in 8 Days” which was a birthday gift for my mother, who lives half a continent away in California. Today, she is celebrating the 82nd anniversary of her natal day. She is still my favorite friend to call on the phone and talk to about all kinds of interrelated subjects, artistic, intellectual, gastronomical, familial and otherwise. We usually take no less than an hour in our visit, and at its conclusion she says, “Oh, honey! Talking to you is like a month in the country! Which country, I’m not sure….”
When a daughter and her mother get along famously, it is cause for celebration, even if they aren’t celebrities like Carrie and Debbie. I am fortunate to be in a grand relationship with a grand mother. If you care to get to know her better, take a look at the 8 days of blog posts: Day 1 – Ten Background Bits, Day 2 – Ten Family Foods, Day 3 – Ten Musical Memories, Day 4 – Ten Parenting Principles, Day 5 – Ten Silly Sayings, Day 6 – Ten Administrative Aids , Day 7 – Ten Lessons Learned, and Day 8 – Ten Inspirational Instructions. If reading these gives you any renewed awareness, gratitude or appreciation for your own relationship with your mother, then then this New Year’s Birthday gift will be doubled. Thank you!
My Mother’s Face had to be the first face I learned to love. I am sure that I gazed at her for long stretches while nursing. I learned to get over my teen-aged embarrassment at her lazy walleye, her “long Celtic chin” (as she called it) and the fact that she never wore make-up. Her face is particular and characteristic. Her prominent eyes and small nose and mouth have been gradually swaddled by more wrinkles and folds as she ages. She is now 81; this photo was taken 3 years ago. What I love most about this picture is that she is in her natural state – enjoying life!
This is the face I see continually in my dreams, the face of my true love. He was 19 when I took this picture with the camera he bought me – a Canon AE-1. We were married for 24 years and had 4 children. He died in 2008. This face has echoes in the living expressions of my kids, and I love that they inherited his warm eyes, his strong jaw, his brilliant smile.
I have what might be called a photographic memory. I close my eyes and see faces. Sometimes they are faces that I don’t recognize. I used to play with that ability to imagine crowds of strangers with particular faces and wonder if I had actually seen those faces in passing or if my brain was just making them up. I do know that I pay close attention to faces and always have. Perhaps I do carry those faces within me and always will. No matter how many I collect, I think these will always be #1 and #2.
“Guess what, Mama! I got another scholarship!”
My middle daughter was battling major depression at the beginning of the year, experiencing crippling panic attacks and an ED that was out of control. What did she do? She quit her disastrous job, went back to school, and found a new job. She enrolled in Communications and Psychology and did a PowerPoint presentation on Depression. Her school essays have all earned A+ grades and have been used as examples for her classmates. I am incredibly proud of her and in awe of the personal reserves of strength she has had since she was a baby! There was never something too difficult for her to tackle, once she put her mind to it.
What a fun challenge! Dinner, supper, the evening meal is an opportunity to establish a daily feast or celebration of sustenance, to gather your nuclear family together, share stories of the day, and unwind .
Yeah, right. I am amazed at how rushed and chaotic this time was for me when my four children were living at home and involved in extra-curricular activities!
However, they are living on their own, now. Their schedules are their own, and my schedule is that I work part-time 2 days a week and my partner works from home. I have re-claimed dinnertime for savoring food and conversation! I like to have a glass of wine or a gin cocktail or simply ginger ale with a lime wedge to wet my whistle while I prepare a meal for two in our tiny kitchen. Jazz by Chris Botti, Chet Baker, or any of the vocalists from the ’40s-’60s keeps me humming along in a great mood for evening pleasures.
My camera comes out for special dinner occasions, a new recipe or a holiday meal with family. I love the bustle of a potluck dinner with my children, and I fully acknowledge that they are better cooks than I. My mother’s dinners were elegant affairs where she was the clear Commander in Chief. (There’s one photo taken at her table – a distinct difference in style.) And I love dinner outdoors by the campfire or on the lawn of a music festival. Such a lot of delicious memories!