Monday, December 27, 2010

Kenny

Me 'n' my Sweetie

Thirty six years ago today, this man married me. God Bless His Heart. He had nooooo idea what he was getting himself into. Not only was he marrying a slightly spoiled "only child", he was also gaining a sizeable, highly "impassioned" and occasionally neurotic family, devoted to one another and, like it or not, a huge part of one anothers' lives. He got all of us …. the good, the bad AND the ugly. I, on the other hand, was marrying into the Cleaver family of 50's television. The Gray's were the epitome of the ideal family that everyone wanted to have. So imagine, if you can, the culture shock that must have sent him reeling once we were married.

I guess you could say that Kenny and I were among the few lucky ones. Too young to marry, naïve, and totally clueless as to the ingredients for a truly successful marriage, we blundered along and still managed to survive. Fortunately, our marriage has grown stronger with each passing year. God was surely watching over us and carrying us over all those bumps and hurdles in the road.

Out of the two of us, I have to say that I am the most blessed. I may not have recognized (or appreciated) it at the time, but I was marrying a man of immense integrity, kindness, generosity and the patience of Job himself! Never, I repeat, NEVER has there been a more patient and tolerant husband and father. Try living with me and our two boys for any length of time and you will be amazed at his restraint and fortitude! The man is a Saint.

And have I mentioned Unconditional Love??? While the "Control Freak' in me is constantly trying to tweak and improve on our two boys (only to make them even better, of course), he adores them exactly as they are: warts, farts and all. In his eyes, they are exactly as they should be and he is passionate about them.

I have no concern that our sons won't make great husbands, for they have a role model second to none. They have grown up with and observed their father through all kinds of situations and his example has taught them volumes about honesty, patience, compassion, and, most of all, about being an Excellent Husband. I know that my sons will treat their wives with the same love and respect they have seen their father treat me. And that, my friends, is his greatest gift to all three of us!

I have to say that even after thirty plus plus years, my heart still skips a beat whenever he walks through the door at the end of the day. I can breathe a sigh of relief knowing that I get to have yet another day of absolute happiness and security, thanks to the man I married. He is truly my Soul Mate.

People are always asking me the secret to our "lengthy" marriage. So in honor of full disclosure, all I can honestly say is "Blind Luck". Kenny definitely gets all the credit for being an ideal husband and I am the lucky one.

So thank you, my sweet husband, for putting up with me all these years. You are a shining example of everything every husband SHOULD be. I love you forever. (But we're still gonna work on that wardrobe of yours AND your idea of humor….The Office really IS funny and farts really AREN'T)

Please don't ever get tired of me…

Leslie

(Now can we get a new puppy??)

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Kris


Have I already mentioned how fortunate and blessed I am to be surrounded by the most amazing people?? Not only my very remarkable family and in-laws, but unbelievable friendships that surpass imagination?? Well, at the risk of totally wearing out all superlative adjectives and capital letters, I am now going to tell you about my very extraordinary friendship.

Kris is my Soul Sister. Cue the music: "hey sista, go sista, soul sista, go sista……" We think alike, we finish each other's sentences and we usually know what the other one is going to say before she says it! Jinx! One two three…….We have been friends for over twenty years now and I don't think there has ever been a time that we have even had an argument or made one another just a little ticked off. Of course, I can only speak for myself.

Over those twenty plus years, we have gotten ourselves into "situations" too numerous to count. There were the several "mini" (or should I say "micro") business endeavors we thought we could pull off. We never made any money but we always learned what we did NOT want to do … ever again! For example, there was the plant-potting business that we just knew would make us rich and famous. We envisioned ourselves as "Martha Stewart Types", in our chambray workshirts, sunhats, pruning shears and expensive gardening gloves, cranking out potted patio arrangements a la Martha herself, worthy of any magazine cover. And not a drop of perspiration to be seen. HA! Well, the pots were beautiful but what we did NOT realize was that we would find ourselves knee deep in manure and compost, still working by the light of the moon, cleaning out dirtclod boogers and earwax, and totally destroying anything that mildly resembled fingernails until they grew back the next year. One thought continuously ran through our minds: "What were weeeee thinking???"

As a matter of fact, that very same thought seems to continuously run through our minds every time we get ourselves into another "situation." These DIY projects have included materials such as very large, unmovable boulders, hoists, flagstone, sledge hammers, utility belts, kitchen tile AND tile cutters, pine cones, glitter, putty, fabric, garage sales, weddings, dinner parties, plant foam and buckets and buckets of fresh cut flowers scattered throughout the entire house. And…. We…. Never….learn. We always end up looking at one another and saying (or channeling) "What were weeeee thinking?"

Example: Picture "Yours Truly" trying to drive a car with a huuuuge (uber) flower arrangement between my legs and up into my face, another in my non-driving hand, Kris riding shotgun, holding one with her feet, one in her lap and one in each hand. AND two of our children in the backseat doing the same thing with very sour expressions on their adorable faces. And that was just the first trip!! WTF? Er, I mean WWWT??

Kris is the only person with whom I can walk into any plant nursery any time of year and both of us simultaneously breath in that wonderful aroma of organic compost and feel like we've just experienced true euphoria. And don't even get me started on the fragrance of freshly cut flowers! It really is pathetic.

Then there was the time that we BOTH wet our tennis panties during a very serious Team Tennis doubles match because we couldn't stop laughing at ourselves (or our challengers). Needless to say, no one else thought we were all that funny. Including our team. That may have been the last year we competed.

And the stories go on and on…..

So, my dear Kris, thank you for years and years of laughter and wonderful times. We have certainly been through a LOT together. But not only has Kris given me hours and hours of wonderful conversation and delightful memories, she has also taught me soooo many life lessons.

What lessons you ask? Well, I'll tell you. Kris was the first person to teach me about Faith (with a capital "F"). This remarkable woman has had her share of life's trials and I have never seen her faith waver. Through the most challenging of times, she has always been upheld by her tremendous faith in God and His plan for her life. I honestly don't know how she has done it. There have been situations that would make the strongest of us want to give up. So she has also taught me about true Loyalty and Perseverance.

Kris taught me how to recognize True Beauty. Before we became friends, I was fully aware of the wonders of nature and its countless miracles. But it wasn't until I began spending time with her, that I learned to appreciate the way the light reflected off the leaves of a tree or the many different shades of pink in a pink rose. She taught me to look beyond the surface. I never really noticed those birds perched on the telephone wires and how one of them might have a very long worm in its mouth and was carefully and strategically keeping his distance from the others. Or how even the simplest of plants can take on an entire personality of his own just by growing in his own unique little configuration. Kris taught me all that.

She also taught me about simplicity. I learned from her that we really don't need all that "stuff" to make us happy. The important things really can't be bought. The truly important things are faith, family, friends, nature, commitment and experiencing each of them to their fullest.

We have been friends through the Best of Times and the Worst of Times. The highs and lows of Life (capital "L"). Losses and Blessings. She has supported and held me up many times and I have tried to do the same for her.

Kris says I can't buy her a Christmas present this year. It's going to be another one of those "lean" Christmases and she doesn't want to feel bad for not being able to reciprocate.

So this is my Christmas gift to you, my Sweet Friend…a Tribute to your amazing soul and a Thank You for all the wonderful times and for teaching me so much about life. You are truly beautiful, inside AND out! May our friendship continue to grow until the days when we can't remember one another's names but we can still remember that danged party we got ourselves into, decorating until the eleventh hour! May we always be able to stroll down those plant aisles (or be pushed), holding hands, and sucking in those wonderful cosmic aromas that send us into our own little "Horticulture Heaven."

You're such an awesome friend and I'm soooo blessed to have you in my life.

Fondly,

Leslie

Note: Please pardon the overuse of capital letters, but they seemed the only way to get my POINT ACROSS!

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Aggie


Aggie


When I started this blog, it was my goal to highlight those special people in my life that have been a huge influence and have inspired me by simply being themselves and expecting absolutely nothing in return. I wasn't sure anyone would actually read them but my objective was to express in words, sentences and paragraphs what exactly it was about these amazing people that made them so amazing and unique. Well, my "victims" so far have been what we call "homo sapiens" to be specific but I am also deeply inspired by creatures of the four-legged variety.

My name is Leslie and I am a dog lover. Let me rephrase that….I am a dog fanatic. I have been fortunate to have known, owned and loved some absolutely wonderful dogs in my lifetime. I can't remember a time in my life when I didn't have a dog except, possibly, when our family had no choice but to give away Max the Airedale. Max the Puppy terrorized our home for a brief but agonizing six months creating a path of destruction that even the most maniacal of dog lovers would have to get rid of. After totally destroying almost every nice thing we owned, it came down to a final ultimatum. It was either him or me. The dog had to go.

But I digress. This posting isn't about Max at all but it is about my love for one very special dog in particular. Of all the dogs I have known and loved, my sweet Aggie Mae was the closest thing to pet perfection that ever lived.

She had that beautiful "polar bear white" coat and those gorgeously outlined golden eyes that seemed to look right into your soul. She had a way of saying "I love you" with her eyes and she would look at us as if she was reading our thoughts. She would follow us around constantly and when we would stop, she would rest her head on our legs or feet until it was time to move on to the next spot. Always the lady, Aggie drank her water without a single splash and would rather die than have an accident in the house. And whenever confronted by a strange dog, Aggie would immediately take the "submissive" position, flat on her back, with all four paws pointing to the sky allowing the other dog to sniff her from stem to stern to his or her heart's content. She was saying, "See? I'm harmless. I only want to be your friend. Now, let's play."

A more devoted dog could not possibly exist. Aggie spent her life giving love freely and making sure that each family member knew how special they were to her. She was the perfect mother to six beautiful puppies. When it was time to give the little rascals up, our family made certain the they all went to the best of homes and that we could continue to be a small part of their lives. They have all since grown into beautiful animals themselves and we are so fortunate to be able to see them all on occasion.

It seems that Aggie's only fault was that she left us too soon. We weren't ready to say goodbye to our beautiful beautiful girl. But, as life happens, so does death. And allowing her to suffer was not an option.

It was a beautiful October day. Aggie, they let you go outside the hospital one last time to bask in the warm sun. A blanket was spread on the lawn for you near a little waterfall. It was there that I got to stroke and massage that beautiful coat of yours as you took your last breath… and then you were gone.

We will always treasure those wonderful memories we have of you: prancing around and doing your little "bunny hop" with all four feet off the ground whenever you were excited; letting us know in your own special way that you wanted a treat and YOU WANTED IT NOW! Nudging us ever so gently when it was time to go outside. Snuggling up to whoever would allow you in their bed. Returning your ball over and over and over and over again and looking at us with those big beautiful eyes as if to say "Throw it one more time….please?"

You were the best dog ever. You taught us to cherish every moment and never take anything for granted. To give love abundantly and to tell those you love how very much they mean to you….EVERY DAY.

We will miss you terribly, Sweet Aggie Mae, and our lives won't be the same without you. Thank you for the joy that you brought to our family and all the others whose lives you touched. You were, indeed, the BEST DOG EVER and we'll never ever forget you.


Kisses and Licks,

Leslie



Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Doc-Doc


1953


1988

Imagine a Norman Rockwell-esque scene of a 1950's doctor's office in a small Midwestern town. The doctor is looking at a child's throat with his tongue depressor while the child is trying not to laugh at the doctor's silly shenanigans….

He was probably the funniest man I have ever had the absolute pleasure of knowing. AND he spent most of his life in the very unselfish profession of healing, treating and caring for others as a Family Practice physician. How many of us can say we know someone that fits both of those descriptions? I dare say very few! Somehow, the words "sense of humor" and "medical professional" don't usually seem to go hand in hand. (DISCLAIMER: I did not say "never".) However, we live in an age where a visit to the doctor usually means a minimum of thirty minutes in the waiting room (with no apologies), followed by a terse, rapid-fire Q&A with a physician that can't remember your name, let alone waste his time conversing, laughing and exchanging pleasantries.

Doc-Doc (the name given to him by his grandchildren) was indeed extraordinary in so many, many ways. First of all, this man put himself through medical school by dishing up ice cream at a Carnation ice cream parlor and working as a houseboy in a local sorority house! Neither of which are the most revered jobs. But he desperately wanted to be a doctor more than anything else in the world. He had a gift and he knew what his true calling was.

After finishing medical school and serving his required term as a physician in the United States Navy, Doc-Doc returned to his hometown of Muskogee, Oklahoma ("I'm proud to be an Okie… blah blah blah ….."). There he hung his shingle and proceeded to set up a practice that would span over forty years. Countless baby deliveries, gall bladders, broken bones, stitches, appendectomies and house calls later, he could look back over a highly respected career and total admiration by the thousands of families he served.

Did I say HOUSE CALLS? For those of you that have never heard that term, let me explain. This was an era when the family doctor's day didn't end when he turned over the "closed" sign on his office door. He would then proceed to drive through town, making a series of home visits throughout the city to call on those patients that were unable, for various reasons, to drive to his office. His son recalls driving along with him some evenings with a huge flashlight in the car to shine on the houses while searching for the correct address. And finally, after the last injection was given and the last prescription written, he was allowed to return to his own home and spend the remainder of the evening or what was left of it with his own family.

However, he was never officially "closed" as there was always a list of expectant mothers kept by the family telephone on the wall. (YES, kids, our telephones used to hang ON THE WALL! Can you imagine???) Phone calls to his home throughout the night meant that he rarely got a full six hours of uninterrupted sleep and some nights there were multiple trips to the hospital. There was no answering service or secondary physician "on call." But you would never hear him complain. Because he loved his work and he was devoted to his patients, all of whom he knew by name. As a matter of fact, family vacations and weekend outings were usually planned around the due dates of his many expectant OB patients.

Now this does NOT mean that his practice came before his family. There has never been a more devoted husband and father as Doc-Doc. He actually found a way to make time for both a medical career and his family! His children always came first and were never sacrificed for his work. Whenever there was a heavy snowfall, Doc-Doc would close his office for the afternoon and go home to pull all the neighborhood children all over town on their sleds. Did I mention that this was another era? This man had a gi-NOR-mous (look it up) heart that never stopped either for his family or his patients and that, to me, is what made him so special.

And as a grandfather??? Oh….. My….. Gawd! Never has there been a more entertaining, totally enamored, adoring grandfather on the face of this earth. He absolutely worshipped every one of his grandkids and always made time for them. He appreciated each one of their special characteristics, quirks and personalities as only a devoted grandparent could. Doc-Doc could always make them laugh to near hysteria and those lucky grandkids will cherish their wonderful memories forever.

While an entire book could be written about the many years of service and acts of kindness by this extraordinary man, a few in particular stand out in my mind. The first story is of a young girl whose nightgown had caught on fire from the floor furnace in her home. Doc-Doc just happened to be driving by her house as she came running out with her clothes in flames. Coincidence? I think not! He stopped the car, rushed to the child, wrapped her in his overcoat and drove her to the hospital himself. He continued to monitor her progress until her family was forced to move to a larger city with a more sophisticated Burn Unit. Years later, having lost track of the family, Doc-Doc received a letter from the young woman. She, too, had become a physician and credited him with not only saving her life but also inspiring her to enter the field of medicine in an effort to be a doctor with a highly respected reputation such as his.

Unfortunately, Doc-Doc practiced medicine in an era that preceded the progress of the civil rights movement. In his day, black physicians were not allowed practice privileges at the local hospital. This did not prevent Doc-Doc from becoming a lifelong friend of a black colleague. While others simply turned their heads to this injustice, Doc-Doc would travel with his friend to medical conferences in cities where the "upscale" restaurants refused to serve them. So the two of them would just find themselves a good ol' diner and enjoy the pleasure of each other's company. Their friendship lasted for many years and finally saw the acceptance of ALL licensed qualified physicians at most hospitals. Doc-Doc could proudly say that he had been an advocate for this change all along. After retirement, these two silver-haired, balding gentlemen met weekly with other retired colleagues for some coffee and reminiscing, calling their little club "R.U.M.P." (Retired Unemployed Medical Professionals).

Medical insurance was more of a luxury during that time than a necessity as it is today. Most people paid what they could and no one was turned away. Because of his generosity in treating everyone, regardless of their ability to pay, Doc-Doc's home always had plenty of whatever seasonal crop was currently being harvested. There was always an abundant supply of pecans, peaches, tomatoes, etc. These gifts were always accepted with the graciousness of a true gentleman and no mention was every made of debts owed or repaid.

So, you might ask, how was I so fortunate to know this extraordinary man??? Well, I thank my lucky stars every day that I had the privilege of marrying his son. God has been soooo good to me.

Fondly,

Leslie

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Laura

Laura Jo and JoJo


When I was a little girl maaany, maaany moons ago, I had an idol. It was my cousin, Laura. She was not that much older than me by adult standards but, at the time, I looked up to her and worshipped her as if she was some sort of goddess. My favorite bedtime stories were those in which my mom would make up tales of the two of us, Laura and I. I can still remember closing my eyes and seeing the images as the story unfolded. "Laura and Leslie did this" and "Laura and Leslie did that". I was enthralled to say the least. It was just like heaven on earth.

Laura was everything I wanted to be. A few years older, she was so very, very cool. Beautiful. Talented. With lots and lots of cute boyfriends. Oh, how I wanted to grow up and be exactly like her!

She had a pink princess telephone with RHINESTONES on it! Can you imagine? And she was a ballet dancer and did I mention that she seemed to have scads of boyfriends? And, sometimes, she would even let me go out with them on a "coke date"! Man, life couldn't have gotten any better than that. But it did. After graduating from college, Laura moved to New York City to be an AIRLINE STEWARDESS!! Now I KNEW she was a goddess. This was when they were still called "stewardesses" and they were all so gorgeous and glamourous and worldly! (Although I'm not so sure she fulfilled the height requirement.) Laura was my Jackie O, my Princess Diana, my Julia Roberts.

Now, almost fifty years later, not much has changed. I still idolize Laura. She is everything I believed she was and even more. Except now her passions have turned from ballet and boys to children. Children that suffer and children that don't have parents and children that live in poverty. Laura has devoted her life to those forgotten children and she has done a darned good job of seeing that many of those children are loved and cared for and given opportunities that they wouldn't otherwise have.

I know that this was Laura's calling because she sort of stumbled on it quite by accident. And we all know that THERE AIN'T NO ACCIDENTS IN LIFE!! You see, she first became involved with children because she was at a point in her life that she was looking for a new career. Any career. It so happened that her very supportive brother offered to sell her his interest in a chain of local "daycare" centers. Well, that small chain of daycare centers soon became an extremely well -oiled and highly accredited organization with waiting lists and very specialized infant care ….not your typical "baby-sitting" operation.

And that, my friends, was just the beginning! Laura had her first taste of infant and child care. She realized that she had a talent and a passion for the wants and needs of small children.

Then came a vacation to Eastern Europe where Laura became aware of the horrifying conditions in the Romanian government-run orphanages. These institutions housed children that had been abandoned during the Ceausescu regime. The living conditions were horrendous. No toys, no playgrounds, no physical loving touch. These children were being raised to be socially detached and Laura could not accept that. Once she returned home, she dove into action. With the help of family members, associates and much of her own money, she began a series of Atlantic crossings back and forth to deliver toys, books, teaching supplies, anything she could muster up to help these desperate babies. Follow that with meetings with UNICEF, foreign diplomats, internationally known child psychologists, etc. etc. and the next thing you know, she has set up an ENTIRE PLAYGROUND at a Romanian orphanage!

Laura has since become impassioned (to say the least!) with the child development philosophy developed in Hungary by the renowned Dr. Emmi Pikler of the Pikler Institute. These teaching methods involve communication, nurturing, hands-on personal interaction with infants and toddlers. (My very brief synopsis of a highly researched and very much respected philosophy.) She has united and taught caregivers all over the world by setting up World Forums and international teaching symposiums. She has met with internationally known child experts, celebrities and diplomats to help further her cause. Now she hopes to meet with the United Nations to discuss children's rights around the world. PHEW! Can you believe that one person can put all that into action?

Well, that is just a very condensed version of what MY COUSIN (I told you that I have an exceptional family) has done with her life and I could go on and on but I simply must stop here. I'm pretty sure blogs are supposed to be kept short and sweet but there is so much to say! Suffice it to say that Laura has a resume about a mile long with honors and achievements just short of Mother Theresa herself. She is living proof of what one single person can do to improve the lives of sooooooo many. She was recently quoted in a magazine (on which she and her associates grace the cover, I might add) as saying "What does it cost you? If you don't dream and try, you will never know what could have been."

Now I hate to be one to say "I told you so" (yeah, right) but this time I am so proud to say that I was right all along…..Laura really is a goddess….at least to me she is.

Fondly,

Leslie

If you, too, are passionate about children and would like to know more about Laura's journey and progress, check out these websites:

www.pikler.org

www.dayschoolsok.com

http://www.childcareexchange.com/catalog/product_info.php?products_id=5019474&search=&category=

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Lindsay

Me 'n' Lindsay


July 27, 1982. A beautiful baby girl enters the world. Ten fingers, ten toes. A parent's dream come true. Love at first sight. Only one small problem. Lindsey was deprived of oxygen for a short time during her birth. A short amount of time by most standards but enough to change the lives of her and her parents forever.

Lindsay is now a twenty eight year old young woman. But don't feel sorry for her. She lives a very full life. She has a full-time job, devoted parents and a whole passel of friends and loved ones that adore her (yours truly included.) She wakes up every day to a magical, beautiful world. She's not at all concerned about global warming, nuclear proliferation, oil spills, or the many other hazards that plague our society. Lindsay's world is one of security, love, peace and fascination with all things around her.

Having no ego whatsoever, Lindsay is not at all interested in talking about herself. She is simply more interested in what others have to say. This becomes obvious when you try to have a conversation with her:

"What did you do at work today, Lindsay?"……"work"

"Did you have a good day today, Lindsay?"…"yep"

"Tell me about your day, Lindsay."….."I dunno"

BUT! Give HER the chance to talk:

"How is your mom?" "What did you do today?" "What are your dogs doing right now?""Is Adam at school?: "Where's Mason?" "What are you having for dinner?" How's Kenny?" "Are the dogs taking a nap?" etc. etc. You see, Lindsay is much more interested in everyone else than she is in herself. How refreshing is that?!

Another amazing thing about Lindsay is that she has a memory like a STEEL TRAP! To me, she is like a walking rolodex. I dare say that her power of recall is many times greater than my own. I'm thinking about keeping her constantly at my side for all those senior moments I have in which I can't even remember my own children's names! Believe me, she will not only tell me their names, but their birthdays and whether they are left or right-handed!

Lindsay has the same interests as most young girls. She loves to watch "Seventh Heaven", "Gilmore Girls", and "Hannah Montana" on TV. She loves to have a friends over on Friday or Saturday night to eat pizza and watch a movie. She is a HUGE fan of Taylor Swift and, more recently, Jewel. She loves to go to camp and never misses an opportunity to attend "Hannah's Promise." To me, it seems that the only things she has missed out on so far are all those things a parent wants to protect their children from anyway!

And have I mentioned her SKIN? She has that beautiful "peaches and cream" complexion (top to bottom) that most women would give a kidney for. Lindsay has an eternal youthfulness about her. No sun damage or worry lines for this girl! Alas, that we all could say that about ourselves.

I love Lindsay with all my heart and I am so grateful to her for teaching me to seize each day and live it to it's fullest. To dislike no one and to hold no grudges. To find nothing better than the company of others. To delight in the simplest of things and to LAUGH! Oh, if only all of us could live our lives like this precious gift from God. He has completed great works in Lindsay's life and the many lives she has touched so far. And He's not done yet!

So Happy Birthday, Sweet Lindsay. Thank you for teaching me sooooo many things about abundant living and for helping me see this wonderful world through your child-like, innocent eyes.

Fondly,

Leslie

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Kim

Kim

(I wanna be just like her)

Does anyone remember that old Gatorade commercial about Michael Jordan with the song "I wanna be like Mike"? Careful! Don't Google it, or you won't be able to get that song out of your head for days. Well, I have a similar song that goes round and round in my head but the lyrics are slightly different. They go…"I wanna be like Kim."

I've never really considered myself much of a "wannabe" as far as envying people that seem to have more than me in the way of wealth, beauty or fame. But I have to admit that I am a "wannabe" when it comes to someone with a mind and a spirit and a heart that just won't stop. Well, that person in my life is my dear friend Kim. So, don't judge me, people, but I WANNA BE LIKE KIM! I'm fairly certain that you would too if you knew her.

Here's why. She never ages! She still has that youthful exuberance and ability to make everything fun no matter where she is or what she is doing. Can the rest of us say that?? I would like to think that I can (sorta), but I realize that I am really such a slacker whenever I'm around her. For one thing… she never sleeps! At least I have never seen her sleep. When I visit her, she is still up when I go to bed at night and has been awake for hours when I wake up the next morning. Not just awake, mind you, but she has probably already baked a cake, had coffee with a friend, ridden her bike down to the beach, and vacuumed the entire house by the time I drag my lazy rear end out of bed.

It is absolutely amazing to follow her around and watch her mind at work. Always thinking and creating and planning….you can almost see the wheels spinning and the gears turning in her head. She modestly admits that she is like the shark that must continuously swim lest he stop swimming and drown. I think she just doesn't have that key that turns one's mind off. Just once, I'd like to borrow a little of her DNA. I promise I would give it back but I want to know what it''s like to have a mind that is always in hyperdrive.

Kim is my technology guru. She is always at the forefront of the latest technology, knowledge-wise. Photography, computers, you name it. Whenever my husband and I want to buy something but are too lazy to do the research, his standard comment is "Call Kim."

She is so very generous and fun-loving. She makes me laugh. Con-stant-ly. Like to the point where I sometimes wet my pants. Sorry, but it's true. CAUTION to ALL: never hang around Kim with a full bladder!

Kim has friends from all walks of life. From the rich and famous to the much less fortunate. She treats them all the same - as if they were the most important people in the world. Because to her, they are. And I'm pretty certain that most of them consider her to be one of their dearest friends just as I do.

I could go on and on about my friend Kim, but in an attempt to spare you even more verbage, I will simply list just a few of the m-a-n-y lessons I have learned from her during our nearly thirty years of friendship. Feel free to use them yourself at no charge. I like to call this list:

LESSONS I HAVE LEARNED FROM KIM:

l. It is always so much better to give than to receive (we all know this but few of us actually practice it)

2. Treat strangers with the same compassion you would treat your dearest friends

3. Never settle for being ordinary or predictable

4. Life is a gift so make the most of each day you are given - from sunrise to sunset

5. Take good care of your belongings and never be wasteful

6. Preserve ALL your memories with photographs

7. There is always something to laugh about - do it often

8. Encourage your children to be independent thinkers

9. Use every single neuron in your brain - don't waste a single cell

10. Go out of your way to make others feel special

11. Brush your teeth often (but really, 10-20 times a day is a little much, don't you think?)

12. Live music is always best

13. Never buy at Neimann's what you can find at Big Lots or TJMaxx

14. Take long walks on the beach whenever you can

15. NEVER miss an opportunity to watch the sun set!

I'm sure that after reading this, you'll understand why "I wanna be like Kim" (can you hear the music?).

She inspires me to live a fuller life.

.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

George

(Note: these glasses are back in style! )

All right, already! For those of you that have mentioned that I have only talked about inspiring women so far, let me introduce you to a most inspiring man in my life.

Meet George. George was my mother's husband of thirty plus years. He was her Knight in Shining Armor. He entered Mom's life when she was forty two and she had pretty much given up any hopes of finding her soul mate. (Note to all single women out there: never never never give up hope!) He was the kindest, gentlest, most generous, lovingest (?) man I have ever known. (Except, of course, my very own personal soul mate.) I'm not sure I will ever know another man with as much integrity and devotion to his family as this man.

Already a devoted father of two adult children that he adored, George immediately accepted me as his step-daughter and treated me as if I were his own. You don't find that very often, folks. Step-children are usually looked upon as a necessary evil that just happens to come with the package. When my sons came along, he considered them his own as well. And what a grandpa he was to all his grandchildren! My boys are still convinced that he single-handedly won WWII in Italy where he was stationed as a Logistics Officer. He told them an abundance of war stories, as well as a few fish stories that he loved to tell to anyone else that would listen!

In addition to his kindness and generosity , George was also an unbelievable optimist….sometimes ad nauseum, I have to say. Not really, but he had the most positive outlook on life of anyone I have ever known! He loved everyone and was convinced that all mankind is as good and honest and generous as he was. Not wanting to burst his bubble, we all simply went along with this rosy outlook. And why not???

When George retired from his lifelong career, he insisted that my mom retire too so that they could travel together. She had worked most of her life and now this amazing man was insisting that she only needed to be with him! So sweet! And what do you think his favorite pastime besides travelling was? Golf golf golf golf golf golf and more golf! He was never more happy than when he was on the golf course with his son or his golfing buddies. And he had not one, not two, not three, four, five or six but SEVEN, count 'em, SEVEN "Holes in One" in his lifetime!

Well, that positive outlook on life never left George. Not even when he was diagnosed with lung cancer several years ago. He never gave up hope that the day would come that he would be back out on that golf course. And I don't recall ever hearing him complain throughout his entire illness, even when he was confined to a wheel chair and required constant nursing care. Now THAT'S just crazy!

We lost George on November 30, 2006, but we all find comfort in knowing that we will see him again and can't wait to get a big ol' George Bearhug on the other side of those pearly gates.

Rest in Peace Dear Husband, Father, Step-father, Grandfather, Friend…..we'll love you forever!

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Aunt Jane


Well, after much thought and deliberation in deciding who I would write about this time, I decided to chose my dear, sweet, wonderful Aunt Jane. I realize that by choosing another family member for this blog, I risk being accused of nepotism but it's my blog and I get to choose whomever I want! Right? Can I help it if I come from an exceptionally inspirational family??

My Aunt Jane is one such inspirational family member. I have grown up watching her fulfill many roles with grace and elegance: wife, mother, grandmother, sister, aunt and friend. She has set such a remarkable example for all these roles that they are pretty darned impossible to match. Everyone, and I mean e-v-e-r-y-o-n-e, adores my Aunt Jane.

Blessed with good health, Aunt Jane has led a very active life. However, the one subject she does not care to talk about is her age. She says that she really doesn't feel all that old until people start talking about how old she is. OK, makes sense. This has nothing to do with vanity…..she simply gets sick and tired of all the talk about her age! So….. let's just say that she is somewhere in her nineties. But she has such a delightful disposition and the most contagious giggle you've ever heard and an energy and a spring to her step that makes you just want to hang out with her all the time.

Aunt Jane is actually my great aunt, my grandmother's sister. But she has been as much a part of our lives (mom and me) as if she had been a second mother. I remember when I was very young, begging her to tell me the story of her life as I found it abso-LUTE-ly fascinating. Orphaned at a very young age, she and her brother and sister were separated and each raised by a different aunt in Claremore, Oklahoma. However, being part of a very close-knit family, the siblings were able to remain close and maintained an incomparable devotion to one other throughout their lives. Incidentally, it was about this very close family that their cousin, Lynn Riggs ,wrote his book "Green Grow the Lilacs", the rights of which were later bought by Rodgers and Hammerstein and developed into the musical "Oklahoma!" The play's main character, Laurey, was named after my great-grandmother, Aunt Jane's mother. Kinda makes us all famous, no? Probably not.

These days, Aunt Jane spends most of her leisure time either playing bridge (real-life AND computer!), participating in church activities, and……BOWLING! She has been bowling in the same league for over 50 years and considers it a bad day when she scores below 140! And, I might add, she is pret-ty competitive! (She reeeeeeeally likes to win.)

OK, so now you have an idea of why we all adore Aunt Jane so much. I have no doubt that you would adore her too, but if you ever have the privilege of meeting her, I wouldn't mention her age!

Fondly,

Leslie