Life Topics

The Wedding

I stood in the back of the church, tucked behind the side of the windows that look out to the pews.  The flower girls and maids of honor had stepped forward and paced their steps down the aisle to the music.  Looking over to my sons standing near the door, I just stared at them.  I was scared.  They urged me with a head nod to move forward, it was time.  I took a deep breath and slowly moved forward, meeting them at the end of the aisle.  Taking each of their arms, I felt a little reluctant and a bit shaky.  All eyes were on me.  My music was starting.  This was a pivotal moment.  I had waited a long time to get married.

As we slowly moved toward the altar, I felt my life passing in front of my eyes.  I could hardly make out my friends and family in the pews.  My mind was momentarily elsewhere and everywhere, there was no fear, just great anticipation.  I searched for my beloved at the front of the church and focused on his loving face.  He’s always been my rock.  His tear-filled eyes exuded love and urged me forward to be with my best friend, to pledge our love.  Forever.

He took my hand and led me to my ceremonial place, next to him, in front of God.  We were actually doing this.  I had planned and imagined this day for months, but never could know how this moment would feel.  It was magical.  Surreal.  He was smiling and stepped toward me to take my hand.  As I stepped onto the altar, he whispered that I looked beautiful.  I felt beautiful.

We followed the pastor in action and in word, as we did every Sunday.  Except now we were more keenly engaged and committed to the word of God, to this holy sacrament.   As devout Catholics, our marriage depended on it.  We were now the center of attention.  I looked at the stained glass and the altar like I had never seen it before.  I tried to concentrate on the sermon, but tears of joy ran down my face.   I wanted to reach out and kiss him.  Have him hold me for the rest of his life.  As the priest talked, I prayed for strength and devotion, everything my new husband deserved in a partner.

We gave traditional vows, exchanged rings, and made sacred promises.  Promises I shall never ever break.  My tears of joy had been wiped away and I was now captivated in the moment.   Placing the ring on his finger, I made my vows loud and clear for all to hear – in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.  He looked deep into my eyes as I pushed the ring onto his finger, wrapping me in a warm blanket of love and hope.  I was pledging my body and soul as I have never done before.

Our marriage will be long and happy.  We have made and kept all our promises, making each other happy for the last twenty-six years.  We may be “newlyweds” however, we have been on a journey together for a long time, growing in love and spirituality.  Our ceremony was an important milestone that we will always cherish.  Bringing our loved ones together to share this commitment was precious and heartfelt.  It is only with the support of the church, friends, and family that this marriage will continue to be a success.  Our hearts are full, our love is strong, and our faith is unbreakable.

Cheers!

Life Topics

A Day at the Beach

We lugged all the beach gear from the trunk of the car, moving away from the hot concrete parking lot toward the sandy shore, a brilliant horizon of blue with white.  Bright colored striped chairs, thirsty towels, and a comfortable blanket under arms, over shoulders and falling from our grips.  Willing our feet toward the edge of the ocean we looked for a blank spot to set up homebase.  Near the hungry wandering seagulls and children playing became our nirvana, enough room to spread out.  Unfolding our accessories and taking off our shoes was a good place to start, a little sandy real estate to call home for the remainder of the day.  The sun was leaning west in the late afternoon, but the warmth was strong and comforting.  We had to shift our chairs to face toward the skewed rays, which put us in a line, not optimal for conversation.

After setting up camp, we decided that a cool swim was in order.  One by one we meandered toward the shore, as the breaking waves brought in little pieces of deep green seaweed.  At first it was a shock to feel the cold-water wash over our feet and shins, moving rhythmically over our shivering legs.  The ocean made a lulling whoosh sound coupled with the background din of the gulls screaming. We noticed parents bobbing around with their children, lifeguards gazing at nothing, and overweight women squeezed into bakinis walking the beach.  Turning to the deeper water, we all bravely dove in, in an effort to acclimate to the water temperature.   One person jumped right in after the count of three.  The rest of us splashed water on our arms and thighs before taking the plunge.

We floated weightless over the continuous breaking waves feeling a kind of freedom from our bodies.  We laugh, played, and felt happy to be with each other.  The cold water we originally walked into turned into warm bath water the longer we stayed in.  A sandbar 200 feet from shore brought us back to chest high water as I felt safer with the velvety sand under foot.   I kept my head above water not wanting to wet my hair, while still being playful.  We threw seaweed at each other and talked about nonsense.  Everyone was enjoying this escape from the hot summer day.  No one wanted to get out of the water, hanging on until the next big wave.

We will have a lifetime of days at the beach, but this one was special.  Sitting in my sand chair after the swim I felt completely content.  Two laid on the beach blanket on their bellies trying to tan their backs; one reading and one sleeping.  Two behind me, eyes closed,  silently facing the western rays for the late summer exposure.  I spent a few moments sunning myself, then put on my sweatshirt covering my burnt shoulders as I turned my chair.  I people watched for a while, then lovingly looked at my family that surrounded me.  Every one of them means the world to me.  I wouldn’t want to be anywhere else.   My quiet observation brought me to a place of solitude and peace.  We chose to be here with each other, and that was enough for me.

 

Life Topics

Small Talk

Parties can cause me slight anxiety as I circulate about and “work the room.”  Mingling is essential to having a good time, an art if you do it right. Having a few drinks helps me to be more confident and relaxed: interested and interesting.  But how do you spark a great conversation? You start out with the unavoidable, discerning small talk.  What do you do for a living is a typical opening question, personal but not too personal.  It’s this kind of generic interaction that can lead to the next banal talking point.  Unless they say something like, “I’m a brain surgeon.”  Then I got nothing and am forced to reach deep into my mind to come up with something smart or witty.  When I get that same question, I always tell people, “I fetch rocks and put out fires,” which is true albeit non-specific.  I hate saying what I “do” because it’s not very impressive and tough to explain.

I do have one advantage in the small talk realm though, I am a naturally curious person.  This trait doesn’t guarantee a meaningful conversation, but it can be more compelling.  Why ask something mundane when you can really connect.  However, never mix up small talk for genuine interest.  There is nothing small about being inquisitive because I often pose more of a soft invitation to explain or describe.  Sort of like a casual interview.  It’s a great way to become familiar with someone on a real level.  My inquiries usually start with “Tell me about …”

Maybe my amiable interrogation stems from my love of stories.  I enjoy hearing about other lives.  I guess deep down I’m a voyeur seeking a fix.  So, after I determine the conversation is going well, I’ll inevitably look for more information to absorb.  I may ask, “Tell me about your first job.”  This question usually causes people to happily reminisce as they recount what it was like to have their first grownup job.  One guy told me that he buried dead cats.  What?  Another man said he managed a pizza shop at 16 years old.  Impressive.  You can imagine all the follow-up questions to those answers.  No matter what the job was, the discussion usually led to a lot of laughter.

When I become comfortable with someone, I like to ask my favorite “Tell me about…” inquiry.  The question always produces such a wide and varied range of answers.  Sometimes there is no response because they have no knowledge of it, or they are taken back by the personal nature of it.  Either way, I ask it because it involves the most profound of all stories:  Love.  “Tell me your parent’s love story” I say.  Some people stare at me with a blank look and confess that they have no idea.  I feel bad for them, because if they don’t know how their parents met, do they really know the very beginning of their own family story?  However, most of the time, people will gladly elaborate on their unique history.

A man from New Jersey told me that his parents met in Central Park NYC.  His mother was on an out-of-control runaway horse and his father jumped on another horse to save her.  He was delighted telling all the details and I was rapt.  Another guy said his parents had met a few times at the office, became pen pals when he was in the service during WWII and got engaged through letters.  They never had a date before they were married. He enjoyed telling their story, as he smiled and shook his head, “married until the day he died.”

Small talk serves an important purpose in many situations, especially parties.  I understand that, but I’ve never been very good at it.  I prefer to dig a little deeper when the time is right.  Believe me, my unusual questions are never the first thing I ask.  I have the obligatory chit chat that eventually evolves to a place of authenticity where stories emerge.  Life is built on stories.  So go to the party, have a drink, eat some cheese and crackers, mingle and introduce yourself.  Some big conversations start with small talk.

 

Author’s Note:

**** PLEASE LEAVE A COMMENT ABOUT YOUR STORY.  LET’S SHARE.***

I’ll start:  My parents met on a playground when they were kids!

Life Topics

Check out my new podcast page

Visit the new Dipstitch Podcast site today.  Or go to Spotify to check it out.  Enjoy!

Listen in as two sisters from Massachusetts, who grew up in a large Irish Catholic family, really get to know each other as adults through laughter and tears.

 

Life Topics

Dipstitch Podcast

Hello Dilettante Life followers, it’s been a while since I’ve written anything.  Time to get back in the saddle soon.  I miss my blog.

However, the reason I’ve been absent for so long is I have found a new passion I wanted to tell you about…

I have a new podcast!  It’s called Dipstitch,  a 15-30 minute episode of “sisterly conversation” brought to you each week.  What is sisterly conversation?  Well, my sister Susan and I talk about food, family, faith, dogs, knitting, jobs, holidays, parenthood and EVERYTHING in between.  I know you might be thinking, “this is a chic podcast” but it’s not. Most topics are very relatable and entertaining.  We have some laughs along the way and even have a guest every so often to join in the fun.

Won’t you have a listen?  Our audience is fantastic and makes the podcast worthwhile.  But, we’re looking to grow our fan base by inviting you to listen.  Dipstitch is available on a number of podcast platforms, but the easiest one to use is podchaser.com.

To become a loyal listener, go to podchaser.com and in the search box type Dipstitch.  Our podcast page will come up and have a green “Follow Podcast” button on the right side of the screen.  Click on it, and you’ll get an email when a new episode is uploaded.  It’s that simple.  And, if you scroll down, you’ll see Recent Episodes with a link next to it, to “View All”.   One stop shopping.

Thank you so much for being a loyal follower of Dilettante Life.  I hope you will enjoy Dipstitch as much, and become a follower there as well.

Warm Regards,

Jo

 

 

 

 

 

 

Life Topics

Nana

Irish-Soda-BreadI ran down the long staircase, rushing as I lost my breath.   She was at the bottom of the stairs waiting for me.  Nana had passed 10 years ago, but there she was standing on an oriental rug silently watching me, dressed in a wool coat with her back against the front door.  I saw Auntie Mary standing next to her, looking into the room to her left and right.  Mary had died a few years before Nana, which broke her heart to pieces.  It broke everyone’s heart really.  They were now constant companions in their world, just as they were in life.  The three of us stared at each other as I caught my breath, standing on the landing.  Why were they here?

The house was an old Victorian where I lived with my then husband.  It was a magnificent house that showed off the glory of it’s time.  Crown molding, hardwood floors and fireplaces anchored the rooms with splendor.  I loved the house, but hated the marriage.  The growing struggle to keep a meaningless marriage together was exhausting, set against the grand harmony of this structure.  I had to get out.

Both Mary and Nana were now totally focused on me.  I tried to talk, but words wouldn’t come out. There was an expression of sympathy from Mary, and I slowly nodded my head to signal to her that I was OK.   But, I wasn’t OK.  There were so many things that I needed to talk to Nana about, to have her save me.  She brought comfort to me when she was alive, just by giving me tea or feeding me her incredible butter-slathered Irish Bread.   So many times, after she passed, I looked for the nourishment only a grandmother can give.  I wanted Nana to talk, but she just smiled at me.

Turning, she opened the door and walked out to the front porch.  I could see Mary move into the formal parlor out of the corner of my eye, as I slowly followed Nana outside.  It was a cold autumn evening that smelled of maple leaves and frost.  I followed in a hypnotic daze, as my shoes crunched on twigs and leaves.  She stopped at a bench that I don’t remember ever being on the property, and we sat down.

I put my head in her lap and started to cry.  I cried for bad choices that I had made, I cried for getting into a bad marriage,  I cried for not being a better mother, I cried for not being the ideal daughter, I cried for global warming for God sakes, I cried for nothing at all, and I cried because I simply missed her.  She had been gone much of my adult life.  Still silent, she rubbed my back and arm and told me without speaking that she loved me and will always watch over me.  I would have loved to hear that sweet Irish brough, but it wasn’t important at the moment.  Everything was said.

I haven’t been visited in my dreams by Nana since that night, but she does live in my heart.  I think of her often when I need relief, the way she rubbed my back on that bench.  I have a wonderful mother, who is an incredible grandmother to my children.  She comforts them, and gives them tea when they need it.  Her Irish bread is good, just not as good as Nana’s.