Archive for October, 2009

Funny Observations

Three things that recently made me laugh heartily out loud, or at least a little to myself…

1. The Network for a Healthy California has started a new marketing campaign called “Champions for Change” where they have billboards and ads around town encouraging Californians to eat more fruits and veggies and increase physical exercise, to help reduce obesity and other diet-related chronic diseases.  This is a great cause, and I love the ads.  A mom with her arms crossed, with the words “My Kitchen, My Rules.  Rule #1: Eat more fruits and vegetables.”  What made me laugh, is seeing one of these ads on a TACO TRUCK.  What?  Not the place I expected to see one, but it makes sense if you are trying to change habits.  Better to remind people shopping at the local convenience store and the taco truck that they can make healthier choices, rather than in front Whole Foods or the Co-op shoppers. 

2. When walking to a meeting downtown, we walked past a group of protesters with signs saying “Save Sacramento County Jobs, no to consultants!”.  The protest wasn’t really a surprise, there tends to be many these days in town, especially around recent budget cuts.  What I wasn’t expecting to see is that all of the protesters were members from the homeless community.  On the surface it seems like a win-win situation.  Homeless folks are earning a little income, employees get their message across without missing work.  It’s just that the Sacramento County employees essentially hired “consultants” to protest consultants.  Hmmm…

3. My co-worker’s naughty plant.  While brewing her coffee one morning she looked out the window to see the below growth in her plant.  At first she thought her husband stuck a plastic figurine in her plant as a joke, but no…this manhood grew on its own!

Suz_Plant

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October 7, 2009 at 8:56 pm 1 comment

Heaven’s new Biker Babe

Last week my Aunt Maggie passed away, at the age of 52, after battling ovarian cancer the past few years.  Although we all knew her time was near, and we said our “good-bye’s”, the news of her death hit me much harder than I expected.  Although she is my “step-aunt” (married to my stepmother’s brother), I consider Aunt Maggie and Uncle Norman some of my closest relatives.  They have been in my life for over 22 years, growing up we saw them at least twice a year, as adults we try to continue to visit on an annual basis.  It’s not just the loss of a relative that left my heart aching, it’s that Aunt Maggie was incredible in so many ways.   

I’m so grateful that Eric encouraged me to fly back to Florida for her funeral and memorial service.  I really needed this time to process her death with my family, hear from Uncle Norman stories of her last days, and share fun memories with friends and relatives.  They have such an expansive network of friends, all good, caring people.  From their motorcycle club buddies, to their community of faith, the church overflowed with people joining in celebration of a woman who positively impacted their lives. 

The services and celebration of her life were wonderful, and I appreciated the special touches carefully planned together by Maggie and Norman.  Uncle Norm wore a light gray suit, the same suit he wore at their wedding rehearsal dinner 27 years ago.  He had their motorcycles set up on display in the garage, highlighting moments of significance shared together.

Norm BMW Bike

Photo collages of Maggie’s life were on display, reminding us as one relative put it, she was “disgustingly photogenic”:

Maggie photos

We learned about the poem they shared together while Uncle Norm was a pilot with Delta and away from home, remembering they are still in sync even when they are apart.  Now he carries a lock of her hair and the watch she gave him in his pocket, reminding him they are “set to the same time”.

Poem

I think one of my favorite stories I heard over the weekend comes from one of my cousins.  She married into the Nelson family 12 years ago, and has always had a special bond with Aunt Maggie, sharing recipes and teasing each other about college football teams.  Once when the family was gathered at Maggie and Norman’s house, Maggie had made her delicious homemade peach pie.  Many of the women asked for the recipe, and Aunt Maggie gladly copied and shared it with them.  When my cousin asked for a copy, Aunt Maggie said “no, I’m not going to give you my peach pie recipe”.  My cousin was shocked, and asked “why not?  I just saw you give it to three other people.”  Maggie went on to explain, “they’re never going to make the recipe, asking for a copy of it is just their way of being polite and communicating their enjoyment of the pie.  If YOU want my recipe, you need to come visit again, and I’ll teach you.”  So…my cousin did, and she learned Aunt Maggie’s peach pie recipe.  She plans to plant a peach tree in their yard and use those peaches to make Maggie’s pie every year.  This story characterizes our Aunt Maggie so well.  She is respectful, allows everyone to be themselves and feel honored and loved, yet can see things how they really are.

Two months ago I wrote a letter to Aunt Maggie trying to put into words how much she meant to me.  I’ll close with a section of that letter:

“The top 5 things I admire about my Aunt Maggie that I hope to someday incorporate into my life:

 1. She is CLEVER. I know many smart funny people, but you merge both of these characteristics together so well. Two silly stories come to mind that have stuck with me over the years. The first – I love hearing the story of how you and Uncle Norm met, with him creeping down the side of the hill on his motorcycle bringing Chris to soccer practice, etc. You describe the story so well but my favorite part is how you figured out the age difference – by asking where he was when he learned JFK was shot. Very clever! As part of this category, it’s also your humor. My second ditty is playing games at the Crescent Beach house in the kitchen ….likely Pictionary. Grandma and Grandpa finally went to bed and you declared it to be “Miller Time” and that cracked us up. I treasure those times at the beach house together – so fun!

2. She is STRAIGHT FORWARD AND SPEAKS THE TRUTH. I love your honesty about your truth and how you see a situation. I can’t think of anyone who can “tell it like it is” with such love and humor that your message is heard and always appreciated.  At work when we are off to social events, our motto is “chat, but don’t offend.” You have this down!

3. She MODELS A GREAT MARRIAGE. I greatly admire your relationship with Uncle Norm. You demonstrate a true partnership. You model how to maintain your uniqueness as an individual, yet at the same time become a team, with shared interests and adventures. Together you seem to live life and have fun!

4. She is a BEACON OF LOVE TO OTHERS. You are so loving to all that you meet.’ As a mother, and aunt, a wife, a daughter, a friend, a sister-in-law, a daughter-in-law, etc…..your love is felt and embraced by so many lucky people! A specific example that I am trying to emulate is your thoughtfulness to Grandpa.  You mentioned that as you see notes or articles which would interest him, you mail them in a note to him. It is so easy to think of others but still go on with my everyday life, but now I try to think more about slowing down and sharing those thoughts.

5. She is an ETERNALLY POSITIVE PERSON. Your mental strength and positive attitude about life has always been clear to me, but even more so as you have worked through your health challenges. I am blown away by your strength, and choosing to live your life to the fullest, appreciating each moment and making the best of all situations. What a lesson to us all.” 

 

Norm's Family

October 4, 2009 at 7:02 pm 3 comments