My Gary Bell

June 8, 2018

I lost a piece of my eighteen-year old self this past week when a dear friend died unexpectedly. He was 11 years older than I am which, by the way, isn’t old. We had a running joke – being the “kid” in our group, I used to tease him that I was “catching up ” to him in age – he’d always break into a soft sideways smile…now however, I guess the joke’s over and I will indeed have caught up.

He was a true free spirit, loving nothing better than getting on his motorcycle and taking off – wind  blowing all around him. Confinement was a word that never quite fit into his vocabulary – other than being held tight in the arms of his perfect partner, best friend and the love of his life – his wife (and one of my dearest friends) Shannon or his precious children and probably the 4 walls of a radio broadcasting studio where he would let his creative spirit and soul run wild and free – which he did for more years than I can count.

He and his wife were my first “adult friends.” We worked together at my first job in radio. He was the seasoned announcer and I was the newbie in the music library….but he never made me feel less than he was – he just gently guided.

How often did I walk over to their funky little downtown apartment to spend afternoons that faded into late nights (back when I could actually stay up!)? Gary introduced me to my first Guinness but to be honest, no matter how often I tried afterward, I could only ever manage to swallow a few mouthfuls of the black ale. We went to baseball games together – both professional and for our station team. There was even the occasional game of touch football too (me – touch football – can you imagine?).  We spent many a late night in spirited philosophical discussions – he was always pushing me to examine and re-examine my thoughts and feelings, and challenged me to check my perspective and to spread my wings  – but at the same time, he always showed me a gentle respect.

One of our favorite games to play was to find an old movie on TV and  then turn mute the sound and ad lib our own dialogue. Seemed we which always ended up collapsing in laughter…..(sigh) what fun – what young, innocent fun.

There was the clubbing – punk rock shows, cover bands and the exclusive Club Magique where we rubbed elbow with celebrities…it was our business and it was also the Seventies. One time he insisted that we all go to see Sonny Terry and Brownie McGhee because he said that I needed to experience the Blues – for real!

His wife Shannon and I spent so much time together – we were two “beautiful young chicks” and people often mistook us for sisters – which to this day I consider a huge compliment as I always thought she was the most radiant beauty – both inside and out.

I have spent the last week  looking at countless old photographs – each one capturing our magical youth together. He was one in million – a radio legend and a truly unforgettable soul who continues to live on, not only though his children, and his work – but in my heart.

Enjoy the view, Space….

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Graduation

May 31, 2018

Well, here we are – Graduation Day. Did I imagine that we would ever get here? Hell yes! I always knew that we’d be here one day….right from that first breath of motherhood. Not because of any fanciful high expectation but rather, from the strange and simple, unexplained sense of knowing that I have felt on several instances in our shared life.

As a tiny baby (refusing to nurse properly in the hospital!) I saw the future. When you begrudgingly wore that little white cardboard cap with the over-sized tassel that kept falling onto your sweaty face as you “graduated” pre-school on a scorching 40C degree afternoon almost 23 years ago, I saw that black cap and gown – although I am positive that an ice cold popscicle was all that you we were imagining at the time. Every childhood graduation since then was merely a (quite honestly, overdone) dress rehearsal  of what was to come…today.

Although both smart and successful people in our own right, you dad and I were never particularly academically inclined. We have always been about arts and communication, so where you got this penchant for the books and driving competitive ambition…who knows? (Pretty sure it wasn’t the mailman – sorry – one of those “back in the day jokes’ – Lol!).

So later today, on this sunny, warm late-spring afternoon, your dad and I – joined by your supportive younger sisters and 90 year old grandmother will all proudly stand by your side ( and pose for about 100 photographs – you know me!) to revel in this long anticipated and most deserving moment of achievement.

We will fete you tonight with some champagne and a celebratory dinner and then, my dearest son…my first born wonder…you are off. I just hope the world is ready for you!

 

Mother’s Day – what a day for reflection. All the sticky kisses (not to mention sticky breakfasts in bed), hand print art and lovingly misshapen clay sculptures. Time has fallen away to lovely brunches, thoughtful gestures of flowers and efforts to cook me a favorite dinner, and as we sit around the table, all the sibling teasing and laughter of shared memories absolutely warms my heart – that’s the real gift.

I love falling asleep (of course I go to be earlier!) to the sound of them laughing hysterically downstairs as they watch movies or play video games together, reminding me of the days long past when they would be playing together in the family room and the sound of their voices (sometimes raised – as in” Mom – he’s touching my stuff!!”) would waft into the kitchen where I would be busy baking sweet treats. The smell of cookies always sending them rushing in for a “test taste.”

Grown now, and spreading their wings as they begin to live their own lives – well, we obviously aren’t all together everyday – but in my case, we so fortunately ARE together quite often on the weekends.

My very favorite thing in life is when I wake up in the middle of the night to traipse down the hall towards the bathroom and pass all three of their bedroom doors, closed. I get back into bed, my head sinking more deeply than usual into my pillow as I drift off to sleep knowing that all of my children are back in the nest – safe and snug in their beds….at least for tonight.

Road Trip

April 24, 2018

My youngest daughter is 17 – and “all that” – if you know what I mean. Head full of the images of freedom, heart beating with creative ideas and endless possibilities. Her cheeks are perpetually flushed with excitement whenever she discusses her dreams – – but I am grateful that at least she shares her dreams….for the most part!

She’s chomping at the bit to break out – not to be mistaken with moving out. She is still happy to live here at home with us and be part of the family….but she is ready to Go and Explore. For the last year she has been talking about and loosely planning this fabulous Road Trip that she imagines taking with a couple of her friends – you know, hopping into a car and hitting the open road. Clearly, my first concern is the driving. Teenage driving…aimlessly and  wherever the wind blows them – with no real, concrete plan. Windows open, wind in their hair, music blasting…..hmm – where have I seen that before? Oh yeah – me – a million years ago.

it’s not that I against road trips….it’s just that this time, I’m the parent.

 

Lately, its been an eye-opening experience for me on how little some people who say they care, think of you – lip service seems to be quite the acquired skill.

I sprained my knee a few weeks ago – and trust me, while I fully realize that it’s hardly a life threatening illness; I  have been annoyingly sidelined, spending 3 weeks just sitting on my couch recuperating in a brace. I’m not supposed to stand or walk so it’s all TV all the time, meshed up with magazines and books. I am literally considering changing my last name to Fieri (thanks to Guy’s Big Bite) and expect the Property Brothers to breeze in and redo my bathroom, laundry room and living room, Lol!

Like I said – nowhere near being a life threatening or serious ill condition…but a damned nuisance of an accident.

What is interesting is how virtually none of my “friends”who know (because I’m not the broadcasting type so many are unaware, and that’s just fine) have called or simply shot out a quick  text to see how I’m doing. I mean – it is only a bad sprain but it sure would brighten my day to get a “Hi, thinking about you” – it need be nothing more but would have given me a little lift, sort of like a modern-day version of the get well card- remember those?  At any rate – I guess that the bottom line is that everyone wants to be thought of.

Now – I did say virtually none because, of course –  there have been those couple of friends who have regularly checked in. They are always the ones who come through in any crisis – no matter how big or small and they also the ones who volunteer for every project that someone might have. One friend calls me a 2-3  times a week for that quick chat that reminds me that I am missed in the day-to-day of life and helps to keep me from going crazy from the boredom.  Another friend (my personal Angel) came by with a meal and bottle of wine – not so much because I/my family needs it desperately – as I do have a 25 year old daughter who is home and fully hands on – but it was so thoughtful to give my daughter the “day off and to simply show me her love and support, making make me feel better – she truly is her own personal brand of chicken-soup.

I am disappointingly surprised at how many people have expected me to still “be there”and  to participate as I normally would, in several activities both socially and professionally (Really ? I can’t stand – people!) . So again, as I said earlier, I am no where near suffering from a serious illness and I’m not in traction or a cast – but it has been physically impossible for me to “do” – I have to recuperate appropriately (I do have my medical orders and, hey, I ain’t gettin’ any younger!).

No flowers , cards or candy needed  but I guess I just kind of expected a bit – just a teeny, tiny bit,of babying and care/support…the  kind I have tried to show others. Boo-hoo…I know, ultimately just being a whiner – bring on the Brie and Camembert!

Then again – I have had a lot of time to truly re-evaluate my own life; how I participate in the day -to -day of friends and neighbors – how I can improve; have I been helpful enough – what more could I be doing for others?  There has also been time to ponder and examine my relationships and I both found and lost respect for some people….not earth shattering realizations but definitely a disappointment in those who tout themselves as such supportive/caring people. It has not only been eye-opening – but also  heart-opening  – especially in those who take the 5 minutes to check in and uplift others.

All of this thinking has reminded me that now that I am pretty much mended enough to jump (ok – “step”) back into regular daily life, I MUST remember to stay diligent and make every effort to keep up my end of the caring circle. As they say, you’ve got to practice what you preach!

Cream – no Sugar

April 23, 2018

Ahhh – middle age – the era of cream, cream and more cream. Putting myself together these days is like putting together an IKEA dresser – vague instructions left up to interpretation and sometimes some obscure spare parts.

There is gel for my eyelids and brow bone, smoothing cream for my oh-so-delicate under eye area to be followed with dark circle concealer and color correcting cream (to combat all those menopausal insomniac nights). Face forward; start with primer, you know – so all your other creams (and make-up, should you dare) stick. Then it’s onto the actual age-defying face cream with SPF 1000, jaw line lift cream, forehead smoothing cream, neck emollient and décolleté firming cream, plumping lip conditioner (following an exfoliation buffing gel – gotta get that flaky pucker ready to smile without cracking!). Not to be forgotten – scaly arm and leg cream, tummy tightening lotion, cellulite toning oil and elbow enriching balm. Oh yes – lest I forget – age spot fade cream.

Some days I literally slide into bed at night and in the morning, carefully try to slip into my cloths without falling – always trying to remain silky smooth and never sticky….REALLY??? I remember when being sticky was kinda fun – LOL!

Sidelined for 3 L-O-N-G weeks by a knee injury has left me with the unexpected gift of thought. Not being able stand for any length of time or walk around  means that other than reading countless magazines, watching every cooking and DIY show (I have quite the list of projects for my poor husband!) and perusing the internet – I have had plenty of time to re-visit memories, examine and re-evaluate relationships . Some people have come so clearly into focus that I wonder how long I’ve been wearing emotional sunglasses…and why have I?

When you get the chance to stop and think without the normal, everyday distractions – you really have to wonder –  how it is possible that you could be seemingly so in charge of your life and yet have regularly wandered around carelessly aimless on your life’s many diverse paths?

There are so many truly wonderful, caring, kind and loving people in your life – people who enrich, inspire and support you and they are the treasures that contribute to and share in making the journey of life the miracle it is. I have been reveling in how fortunate I am to have these beauties in my life.

On the other hand, it becomes disconcertingly  clear just how many “hangers-on” there are in your midst. In some ways they have been hiding in plain sight all along and yet, truth be told, you invited them in…well, that will teach your for buying emotional sunglasses at the dollar store!