homesick

Every time I shift in my seat, there’s a distinct sound…shhhhrrp…sort of like duct tape being pulled off the roll. It is hot and humid and my chubby thighs feel like they’re glued down to the hard green seats. While I was grateful that I was able to squeeze into my cousin’s hand-me-down shorts earlier, I am now regretting my decision to choose the shortest pair I own. At eleven years of age, I am already well-aware that I am what people call “pleasantly plump” and should not have worn this outfit. I look over at my friend, Ann, to see if she’s heard the sound. From the looks of it, she has not noticed. She is completely absorbed in the game. Ann looks so cute in her colorful striped t-shirt, little blue shorts with white piping along the sides, and her too large Cubs cap pulled down so low that I can barely see her soulful brown eyes. Her catcher’s mitt sits at-the-ready on her lap. I am inspired by her ability to focus and decide to stop shifting and tugging at my shorts and watch the game myself. I copy what my friend and her parents are shouting at the players, although I am always a moment too late. They do not seem to notice. Ann and her parents are in their happy place. One of them asks me if I want a hot dog, “Yes, please.” Now I am in my happy place too. :o)

By the bottom of the second inning, I find that as hard as I try to focus, I just cannot do it. I blame the sun in my eyes, the slow action on the field. I don’t understand this game. I fold my arms across my chest in frustration. It’s so hot that the sweat collects in the creases of my arms. I unfold my arms and start fidgeting with my too short shorts again. I decide I like basketball better. Basketball players are in constant motion – more my speed, I guess. What’s the big deal about this game? 

My mind and eyes wander away from the game and up beyond left field. I notice something that piques my interest. However, it is not in the ballpark; it is across the street. There are two guys holding either side of a cooler walking on top of a building. For a brief moment, I expect them to pull out their tools and perhaps grab a bucket of tar or shingles or something, to start working on the roof. I mean, why else would they be up on the roof? But, they don’t pull out tools. They set the cooler down, open up the top, grab a couple of beers, close the cooler and sit down on top of it. “What are they doing?” I ask Ann’s dad while I point to the guys. He laughs and tells me, “They’ve got some of the best seats in the house.” I look around the ballpark; there are plenty of empty seats all around us. Ann’s dad notices this, laughs again and says, “Their seats are free and the beer is cheaper.” I think I understand.

As the innings pass, I look up every once and a while at the guys who are watching the game from across the street. One had gone back downstairs and returned to the roof with a radio, which was now propped up between them on top of the cooler. The guys are throwing their heads back in laughter, slapping their knees, pacing the roof from time to time and cupping their hands around their mouths as they shout at the players. It doesn’t take long for me to realize…this is why people love baseball.

For the last several weeks, my first trip to Wrigley Field keeps playing in my mind along with so many other memories of growing up on the North Side with the Cubs – games with neighbors, high school friends, work outings, bachelorette parties, before kids, with kids, in the rain, in the cold, in the sun and in the relentless wind. There were the games before the corporate rooftop seats, before there were lights and then the fun-filled night games complete with “awkward family photo” pictures. :o)  There was the time I went with some co-workers the day before the Air and Water show…I was talking to my friend when a huge wave of cheers overwhelmed the crowd…Did Sammy Sosa hit another homerun?! My friend pointed up and there was a stealth bomber – a real stealth bomber – hovering over the field. There it was, like, almost in the field…and then, just as quickly, it raised its nose and exited. The thrill of that moment! The first and only time I saw Mohammed Ali in person was at Wrigley Field. Again, there was the deafening noise of the fans in the park, “The Champ is here!” Another thrilling moment! We were lucky to live close enough to be able to walk the four or so miles to the park on a couple of occasions, although we mostly took the “el”. Those el rides were just as much a part of the experience. One of my favorite moments took place while standing on the crowded Addison platform. I had just left the game with a then 18-month-old Emma, when an elderly woman offered her some fruit. And I let Emma take it from her without hesitation.  It didn’t matter that she was a stranger…she was wearing a floppy Cubs hat! The smiles shared between Emma and that woman…well, that’s just the way it is there. There is this indescribable feeling of human connection, a hopefulness, a beautiful pure happiness.

There have also been other memories…

The Cubs winning the World Series (it’s still so weird to say this!) reminds me of the people we’ve lost who would have loved this historical moment. I think of the people who took me to my first game, my Cubs AND Sox fan (yes, really!) friend, Ann, and her sweet and patient dad. I also think about my mom’s North Side pride, my grandma and my aunts and uncles in Niles. Every time we visited Aunt Betty and Uncle Harold, the set was turned to WGN and the Cubs game (or the Bears in the winter).

Most of all, I think of my brother, Brian. He loved the Cubs. When he went missing, the CPD asked for a description of what he was wearing, my sister reported that he had on jeans, a dark winter coat, and, of course, his Cubs cap. He rarely went anywhere without that cap, unless he was wearing his Red Sox cap from our dad. As much as he was a die-hard Chicago sports fan, he had an even deeper appreciation of history…and especially the underdog. He would get angry with people who jumped on the bandwagon when a team was doing well. In fact, he would probably be super annoyed that I’m even writing this, because he’d say I’m not a “real fan” as I don’t watch every single game or read the sports section cover to cover every day. And, that’s okay…he’s right, I don’t. But, I do feel connected to him and others because of this game. And, I think he’d be okay with that. Actually, I think he’d be more than okay with it and here’s why…five years ago on December 13th, I was having a terrible day (as I often do on his anniversary). I was texting my friend while walking around the aisles of Target trying to get my s@#t together. As I hit “send’ on my phone, my eye was drawn to the home decor wall. Hanging up between some Mets and Yankees pictures, was a vintage picture of Wrigley Field – IN THE MIDDLE OF TRUMBULL CONNECTICUT…ON THE DAY OF MY BROTHER’S ANNIVERSARY. I took a picture and texted it to my friend…could this be real? We both took it as a sign and I quickly put the ONE picture left into my cart. I didn’t allow myself to burst into tears until I hung it on my wall later that day. A little bit of home in our home.img_8242

All of these memories flooding my brain this week have made me feel incredibly homesick.

But then I remembered the vivid dream I had of my mom just over a month ago. I was standing in her kitchen, it looked the way it was when I was a little girl. She was sitting on “her” stool, her back was against the wall oven and she looked healthy and peaceful. I felt such a sense of calm and peacefulness too. It was the “I’m so happy, I could cry” feeling. When I asked her if I felt this way because I was back with her…in her kitchen…in my childhood home, she responded, “Don’t you feel at home in your own kitchen, with your own children?”

What was she trying to tell me?

I have given this a lot of thought…I felt like I was home when I was texting with my childhood girlfriends into the wee hours of the night during the series. I felt like I was home when Kate came to kiss me goodnight and then wished the Cubs good luck before she went upstairs to bed. I felt like I was home when my husband, a huge Mets fan, greeted me every morning of the series with either a “Congratulations!” or “I’m sorry about your Cubs” depending on the outcome. I felt like I was home when my two friends made sure I could see Game 7 on the teeny tiny screens when we went out to dinner. And, it felt exactly like home when I sat with my friend in the “booth of truth” at Chef’s Table with a FB live feed playing the Cubs parade on Friday morning.

Here’s the thing…I was always home.

It doesn’t matter where I am.

I am home.

(I think this is what my mom has been trying to tell me.)

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#304. Ordered a Cubs World Champions souvenir for a local pizza delivery man, who has followed the Cubs for many, many years.
#303. Sent a small gift to a friend just because…
#302. Returned a woman’s shopping cart while I was on my way back with mine.
#301. Donated leftover Halloween candy to troops serving overseas.
#300.Vanessa Rich fund donation.
#299. Picked up garbage and re-shelved some items that had fallen on the floor at Stop and Shop.
#298. “Booed” several neighbors with kids in our little ‘hood.
#297. Held the door for a bunch of people (important to note: EVERY one said, “Thank you!).
#296. Sent a small token of appreciation to a friend.
#295. Brought a dinner to a family.
#294. Sent a thank you note.
#293. Helped out with kindness challenges at kids’ school.
#292. Pushed (another) random cart back to store.
#291. Left a YAB sticker with a note on a car in parking lot with “Stella” (my late grandma’s name) license plate.
#290. Volunteered at kids’ school.
#289. Sent a note of encouragement to a friend.
#288. Gave a nice tip to some delivery men.
#287. Pushed a cart in parking lot back into store.
#286. Gave an uber driver a nice tip.
#285. Let an aggressive driver go ahead of me in traffic (and did not honk/swear)
#284. Spent several hours on prep/planning for kindness initiative at kids’ school.
#283. Let a spider go…😱
#282. Did not charge for a college counseling session.
#281. Made a donation to a special cause.
#280. Donated clothing to Good Will.
#279. Gave our puppy a much-needed bath.
#278. Held the door for several people.
#277. Complimented a stranger.
#276. Raised money, recruited teammates and Walk for AFSP OOTDW.
#275. Bought DQ ice creams for person behind us in line (a neighbor we don’t know very well).
#274. Picked up a bunch of fabric softener sheets that were all over laundry room floor.
#273. Re-shelved some items that fell on ground.
#272. Volunteered at school event.
#271. Returned a couple of shopping carts in parking lot at BJ’s
#270. Smiled at everyone I walked passed in airport
#269. Let dogs sleep on sofa all night.
#268. Gave a compliment to a stranger.
#267. Gave a nice tip to delivery man
#266. Took some political campaign materials from a solicitor
#265. Paid for teenager behind us at 16 Handles.
#264. Sent a card to a friend.
#263. Made a donation to an important cause.
#262. Served at 7am mass (it’s hard, but worth it!).
#261. Let someone in at traffic stop.
#260. Picked up a piece of garbage on playground.
#259. Helped a student with a class project (Missouri).
#258. Sent a note of encouragement to a wonderful friend.
#257. Shared some great laughs with a friend through new technology😂
#256. Wrote a thank you note.
#255. Made a donation for a special cause.
#254. Picked up garbage on stairs before class.
#253. Prepped for kindness project at kids’ school.
#252. Gave a $5 Starbucks card to barrista to pay forward.
#251. Wrote another letter for TWNMLL
#250. Wrote a letter for TWNMLL
#249. Smiled and said good morning to a LOT of people this morning.
#248. Wrote a thank you note to a friend.
#247. Spent several hours devising a creative plan to accommodate 53 applications for kindness initiative.
#246. Helped put back some chairs that had been moved around at the Duck Pond.

#245. Said “Bless You” while walking passed a stranger when he sneezed (he looked up surprised, smiled and said “Thank you!”)

#244. Kept my word (bike man)

#243. Smiles and said good morning to a stranger.

savoring every moment.

When I was newly pregnant with our third child, I spent the better part of the day and night on the sofa curled up in the fetal position trying not to get sick. Somehow I had forgotten the morning (ALL DAY!) sickness of my first two pregnancies and realized relatively quickly that although I always wanted FIVE children, this would be our last baby.

This decision was made during the 14th week of my pregnancy.  One night I was back on the sofa, attempting to keep down some saltines and not look up at the TV (Did you ever notice when you’re not feeling well that EVERY single commercial is a close-up shot of a big, bloody steak from Ruby Tuesdays or gigantic platter of greasy nachos from Chili’s?). I took several deep breaths and buried my head in the cushions. I had no idea what our other two children, only two and four years old at the time, were doing upstairs. And, quite frankly, I didn’t care.

Until I heard a door slam. Knocking. And then a scream.

I ran up the stairs and found our four-year-old daughter looking into the keyhole of the bathroom door and frantically pulling on the doorknob. While they were playing, our two-year-old daughter ran into the bathroom, slammed the door and turned the lock. Because she was only two, she couldn’t comprehend that she needed to turn the lock the opposite direction to open the door. At the time, we lived in a house that was nearly 100 years old. All of the original details had been maintained over the years, including the locks which required skeleton keys. We did not have a set of those keys! Panicked, I started looking for anything I could find to try to open the lock.

Luckily, my husband had returned from work at just the right moment. After several failed attempts with other household items, including keys, screwdrivers and even a paperclip, we finally decided he should try to get in through the window. Unfortunately, the window, just like the door, was locked. The only way in was by breaking the glass. He took our extra-tall ladder, propped it up along the front of the house and climbed up to the second story window. I stayed inside the house on the other side of the locked door trying to distract and soothe our little girl with familiar songs and stories. I’ll never forget her screams when the window broke on the other side of the door – she started yelling for me and pulling, pounding and scratching at the door. Even though I knew she was safe, it was the most helpless feeling in the world. I felt so much guilt for leaving them alone. I kept calling her name so that she would stay close to my voice through the door…I was so worried that she would run over the shards of glass when she saw her dad. Thankfully, she stayed right next to the door. He crawled through the window, stepped over the glass, picked her up and unlocked the door.

At the same time, I looked down at my belly and thought, There is no way we are having five children – this baby will complete our family.

FullSizeRender (22)Seven months later, as we drove less than a mile home from the hospital, I sat next to my newborn baby safely belted into his car seat in the backseat of our minivan. This is the last time I will do this drive home from the hospital, I thought sadly. I looked out the window at the changing leaves, smelled the fall air and felt every single bump in the road. I then looked down at him, kissed his little forehead and took in his sweet new baby smell. I was grateful. Our last baby. I will never do this again. I savored the moment. I was both happy and sad.

 

FullSizeRender (21)This week I pulled the last car seat out of our minivan. Our third baby is now an almost 8-year-old child. He’s above average for height and weight and I probably could have removed the seat a while ago. I didn’t tell him that though. :o)

I smiled as I watched him sitting in the car…he looked so old to me. Our last baby. I will savor this moment too.

 

 

ps. After our third baby came home, our 2nd child continued to get into mischief even when I was doing a pretty good job of keeping a very close eye on her. When I asked her why she colored herself green, she answered, “I wanna look like Shrek.”

 


 

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#223. Brian and I tipped a street musician and gave him two YAB “You Are Beautiful” stickers (one to keep, one to give away). : )

#222. Donated to Louisiana Floods/Red Cross efforts.

#221. Picked up garbage out in front of our favorite ice cream shop before it opened.

#220. Gave a donation to a teacher for her school supplies purchases.

#219. Left a small DQ gift card for the next customer.

#218. Gave a little extra tip at a restaurant.

#217. Paid a compliment to a stranger on her sundress (she was totally surprised and her face lit up).

#216. Made a promise to kids’ science teacher that I would purchase a dozen bottles of glue for him for the first day of school.

#215. Paid a compliment to a stranger.

#214. Gave cold water bottles to landscaping crew.

#213. Bought a bag from a friend’s online shop (kindness to self).

#212. Treated two friends to Bad Moms.

#211. Held door for a bunch of people leaving the movie theater.

#210. Started recruiting team Choosing Grace.

#209. Printed out and delivered important paperwork for neighbor.

#208. Made a donation to an important cause.

#207. Listened. While rushing to get a bunch of items checked off my to-do list, stopped to enjoy a nice conversation with one of the workers at Stop and Shop. He shared that he hasn’t had a vacation in years, he is estranged from some of his family members and he feels stuck in his job. After he finished, he said he knew I couldn’t do anything but he was thankful that I just listened.


*I’ve been learning a lot about the concept of savoring in my positive psychology coursework. It’s a really important component of well-being:

It involves an awareness of pleasure along with quite deliberate attempts to focus attention on the sensation at hand and delight in it. In a sense, savoring seeks to extract every nuance and association continued in the complexity of a pleasurable experience.” (Compton & Hoffman, 2013)

the winning ticket

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We are sitting on a bench waiting for the next race, when a bunch of little papers blow past us. Kate looks at me and says, “Should we go and catch them?”

Before I can answer, she and her little brother scurry off after the old racing tickets that have been cast away. The wind is particularly strong this afternoon. There is no way they’ll catch them, is all I think while I watch them sprinting and laughing at the silliness of these fast moving tickets. They run so fast and so far we cannot see them anymore.

I lean over to try to catch a glimpse of them. As I do, I see them skipping back with the tickets in their hands. They don’t even look to see if they were winning or losing tickets. They are just happy that they somehow caught this trash. Kate looks at me and throws them in the garbage can. Her little brother follows her example.

They both come running up to us with big smiles on their faces.

I tell them that I’m proud of them for picking up the trash, for their act of kindness. I then tell them that I need to do some RAKs myself because I’ve really slacked on my own kindness project this week.

Kate looks up at me and says, “Just add ours to your list.”

I respond, “Well, I didn’t do it, so that wouldn’t be fair.”

Without missing a beat, she replies, “Yeah, well, the only reason I thought to pick up that garbage is because of your project, so it’s sorta like you did it, right?”

I like the way this girl thinks. :o)


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#178. Wrote a positive message/review for the nicest Uber driver. We took a very late car and he put on a movie for the kids and was just a very careful and consciousness driver.
#177. “Inspired” kids to pick up trash at Arlington Race Track. : )
#176. Helped a woman get back into workout room to get her keys she left behind.

the rest stop

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google images

My favorite Act of Kindness this week took place at a rest stop (of all places!).

Emma, Kate and I walked into a busy Ohio restroom and the two of them headed for the only two empty stalls. I walked over to the sinks to wait.

A half a second later, Kate walked out and said she wasn’t going because the door wouldn’t lock. I told her I’d hold the door for her. As we walked over to the stall a woman in a BIG hurry rushed into the restroom. She made a beeline for the stall and then quickly realized it wouldn’t lock. I noticed (recognized) the look of panic in her eyes (we have ALL been there!) and asked her, “Would you like me to hold the door for you?” She responded, “Oh my God, yes, thank you!”

So, I stood outside the door holding onto it like we had to do in our grammar school bathrooms when the locks were broken. She called out, “Okay, I’m all done!” And we both giggled like grammar school girls and I opened the door. She thanked me over and over again for holding the door for her.

She had no idea I was grateful that a complete stranger would place her trust in me and that my daughters could witness that kind of trust between two strangers – a free and simple act of kindness.

When it was my turn, Emma held the door for me. :o)


weekly rak up

#175. Cleaned up some trash in workout room.

#174. Bought ice cream treats for police officers.

#173. Held the bathroom door (lock was broken) for a stranger at a rest stop. (RAK of the Week)

#172. Left a “You Are Beautiful” sticker at a rest stop.

#171. Donated dog food to animal shelter.

#170. Hauled a bunch of carts into Target when they were all out (it’s a lot harder than it looks!).

a different kind of sunday school

My calendar read: Liz – 7am Eucharistic Minister.

Ugh.

Even though I am a morning person, it felt like a lot of effort to get to mass today. I really did not want to go. I waited until the very last minute to shower and dress. I dragged my feet by sending out school-related emails and continued to check my Facebook notifications.

I looked at my watch. 6:51am. Ugh.

I walked out the door at 6:52am and arrived at the church at 7:01am. Mass had started and was already in full swing. That’s actually what I appreciate about the early mass. There’s no messing around, they dive right into things and it moves very quickly.

Then the priest read the gospel around 7:15am and time slowed down for me.

This is the gospel…

passage from mass
i very discreetly took a picture of this from my phone (i figured god would forgive me)

…which tells a story of forgiveness. In this reading, Jesus says to Simon in response to his judgment of a woman who is viewed as a sinner,

“Two people were in debt to a certain debtor. One owed 500 days’ wages and the other owed fifty. Since they were unable to repay the debt, he forgave it for both. Which of them will love him more?” Simon said in reply, “The one, I suppose, whose large debt was forgiven.” He said to him, “You have judged rightly.”

He then points to the woman and says,

“…her many sins have been forgiven because she has shown great love. But the one to whom little is forgiven, loves little.”

While I’m not a particularly religious person and, quite frankly, sometimes I have a very difficult time focusing on the readings, I heard this one loud and clear and here’s why…

One night, about seven years ago, my friend, Carrie, and I were sitting at our dining room table while our children were upstairs tearing one of the rooms apart. We decided they were safe enough and opened up a bottle of wine. We each had a glass…and then another…and then maybe just one more. The kids were completely content and we were enjoying one another’s hilarious stories (at least they became more hilarious with each glass of wine!).

It was the perfect night. It was also the first time I told her about my brother’s death and how I experienced somewhat of a spiritual intervention (more on that later) while he was missing. She shared with me her most beautiful spiritual moment as well. In her story, she touched upon themes of feeling alone, the loving kindness of others and her faith being tested. The most memorable part of her story involved opening up a bible, putting her finger down on the page and finding a beautiful scripture about a woman who was forgiven.

This morning’s gospel.

My friend, Carrie, passed away three years ago this month…her anniversary is June 15th. I remember at her funeral, in letter to her husband, she shared that she was “just beyond the thin veil” that separates her from him. That she is all around him, their children, her family and her many, many friends. There was something in the way she said it, you just believed it…no question.

When the priest read the gospel this morning, I swear I felt the slightest chill blow across my right shoulder, just where Carrie’s hand had reached out to me that night as we laughed hysterically with one another and the bottle of wine at the dining room table.

And…Carrie was always trying to convince me to get to mass more often too.

I hear you, Carrie.

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Her are some more words of wisdom from Carrie, which she wrote to her children and I made into a sign. I pass by this every single day.

The Weekly RAKUp:

#153. Served at 7am mass, despite wanting to stay home. (RAK of the Week)

#152. Clean-up yard – helped landscapers chase some papers that were blowing all over people lawns.

#151. Gave a gift card to our landscaper, Eric, for his birthday.
#150. Wrote a thank you note and gave a gift card for soccer coach, Todd, and his new baby.

#149. Bear in the tree. Picked up a little stuffed animal on the side of the road and put him up in a tree (where the owner found him).

#148. Took a quick online survey for a friend.

#147. Let someone in (in traffic) when no one else would (she actually held up traffic by rolling down window to say thank you). :o)
#146. Delivered goodies to a new puppy.

hitting the wall…

hitting the wall
photo credit: google images

Over the last few days, I have hit the “Random Acts of Kindness” wall.

I am learning that it is not easy to perform all of these acts without spending a decent amount of money and/or without repeating many of the same acts, so I am falling behind in my numbers. I am still kind (for the most part), but sometimes I just don’t feel like documenting those acts. However, I made this commitment to myself, my children and the RAKtivist community (yes, it’s a thing) and I plan to see all 365 Acts of Kindness through to the end.

I need to try harder, but what I have also learned is that sometimes it’s the unexpected acts of kindness or moments of connection with other people that make the biggest impact.

One such moment happened yesterday…

I had to take one of our children to the doctor to have her ankle checked out. I knew I was pushing it arriving at 4:07pm when their hours run until 5pm, but that was the only time we could make it.

I could tell the lady behind the counter had had a long day.

While I watched her process our paperwork, I admired the braid she had wrapped around her head in a Star Wars character-inspired style or perhaps even a halo. Instead of keeping it to myself, I said, “I love your braid.”

She looked up from the forms and said, “What did you say?”

Gulp.

Clearing my throat, I said it a little louder, “I really like your braid.” I raised my hand and held it to my own head to demonstrate what I was talking about.

Her face softened, she smiled and then her hand went up to touch her head, “Awwwww…thank you.”

More paperwork was processed and she then she went to hand me a clipboard. Before she did, she stopped and said, “You are very pretty. Your eyes are such a neat color and your hair looks so nice.” Now it was my turn to blush and reach up to my hair and say “thank you”.

She giggled, “Look at us, complimenting each other and everything.”

I was giddy. It made my whole entire day. I explained that just the day before I was a lot more blond due to a botched highlight job and that I had to walk around all weekend long hating my brassy, not so golden, locks. And then, in an attempt to adjust the color on Monday morning, my hairdresser had to go a little bit darker and now my blond is “pulling warmer tones.” Or, as my kids have told me, “MOM! Your hair is RED! Did you ask for it that way?!”

The lady behind the counter assured me that it was just the perfect shade.

And, with that compliment, I feel ready to climb over that wall. :0)


The Weekly RAK-Up

#131. Gave someone a compliment (and received one in return). RAK of the Week

#130. Registered team for ice cream eating contest to benefit The Cancer Couch Foundation.

#129. Handed out grocery store gift cards in honor of Joan Berg and “Shopping with the Bergs”.

#128. Helped a woman with a baby stroller get through a doorway.

#127. Gave up seat at airport so family could sit together.

#126. Handed out waters to the landscaping crew who was helping with our spring clean-up.

Looking for any and all kindness ideas…if you have any, please share them with me, I’d love to hear them! Thank you!

A Sweet (Pea) Memory on this Earth Day…

Last month I shared the story of The Money Tree.

I wrote the story in response to a prompt, which I received from my writing instructor: Describe a special occasion.

I chose to focus on this particular occasion in honor of my nephew’s birthday last month and because it is one of my favorite memories of him.

What I didn’t share in that first piece is what happened after the big reveal…

So…here’s Part II: When the Money Tree Became the Giving Tree:

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The following day…I called the house to see if Patrick was enjoying his gift. As it turned out, he started to have second thoughts about the whole magical seeds story. The more he thought about it, the more the story just didn’t add up. Of course, it was just before his bedtime when he started envisioning a totally different version of the story…he thought it was more likely that someone broke into the house and swapped out the magic seeds pot with the money tree pot while we were all out at the Pinewood Derby. His mind went into overdrive as he conjured up a whole different cast of characters who may have come into his house to make the exchange…Was it the ancient Chinese man from the shop? Was it a leprechaun with a modified version of a pot of gold? Was it a troll? Was it just some crazy person (uh yeah, ahem, no comment) who made the swap? And…what if he/she returns to the house to collect the money tree?

He was so worried that someone was going to come in the middle of the night to collect the tree at he barely slept that night, which meant neither of his parents slept that night. I asked to speak with him and dug myself into a deeper hole explaining that he had nothing to worry about…this is how magic works and that no one broke into or would come to the house. When that didn’t seem to work, I distracted him by asking what he was going to buy with the cash…luckily, he had a list of items that took his mind off the original topic. I went with it…and then I made a note to myself to stay away from abstract gifts for my nephew in the future.

The following month…I was in the Target parking lot and popped open the trunk to load some basic necessities and a boatload of throw pillows and picture frames that I just had to have. As I organized the plastic bags, I noticed something green underneath a towel. Nervous that I had mold growing in the trunk, I very slowly lifted the towel. There, sitting on top of some old newspaper, was the original “magic seed” pot that I had painted and decorated with Patrick’s name.

FullSizeRender (12)Without any light or water, the sweet pea seeds that Patrick had sown with tender loving care and just a bit of water had started to sprout. In fact, they were not only sprouting, they were thriving, green leaves spilling out over the sides of the pot.

They were truly magical seeds.

Today, in honor of Earth Day and my Sweet P, Noochie, I will plant some Sweet Pea seeds today with my children and their friends. I will also tell them the sweet story of how the Money Tree became the Giving Tree. And, how I received the best gift.