Archive for May, 2013

img022photo (2)With Mother’s Day approaching, I am counting my blessings as I feel like I am one of the lucky ones.  Among the majority of the women I consider my closest friends, I am one of just a few who still have their moms just a phone call away, she is of this world and she is alive and kicking…  Well, maybe not kicking up her heels in the tales of years ago, the Milford dinner dances at St. Gabs or St. Agnes, but nevertheless, she is here, alive, breathing and a vibrant member of society.

When I think back to my earliest memories, I think of a stay at home mom in the 1960’s doing the best, along with my dad Joe, for their four children.  My parents were not the caliper of Ward and June Cleaver, but they were the best they could be raising four children in a baby boom generation of the wild 60’s.  At that time and tender age, however, I know I did not realize how her words, actions or core beliefs would shape me into the person I am today.  Please note that this is a Mother’s Day tribute but my dad had a lot to do with these beliefs too.

Haven’t we all rolled our eyes hearing the familiar phrase, “when I was your age.”  Well, now I find myself saying this to others,  my friends, their kids, grandkids, etc.  They look at me as if I have 18 heads but … the way I was raised, and for that matter, many of us were raised – was a different time, a different climate and a different world.  Regardless of this, many of these childhood truths and what my mom and dad instilled in all their children still holds true in my everyday life.

Dinner was a time for all family members to join around the table and eat a home cooked meal.  I know in these busy times, that this might seem impossible but my mom taught me the importance of sitting down together.  We could not get up until we ate our well-balanced meal of vegetables, protein, starches and whatever the meal included. But as tedious as it might have seemed back in the day, I would do anything in the world to experience just one more family dinner with all of us around the table talking about our day, or even being cranky and/or acting up and out as most children do.

The importance of  Extended Family – Every Sunday in our younger years after church we visited our relatives in Bridgeport and Stratford.  It was Soup and Stuffed cabbage at the Kelemencky’s and we were greeted with hugs and kisses and shenanigans from our cousins, which could number at times 10 children or more plus aunts and uncles and grandparents.  Next stop was the Hagan’s where we usually had dessert and another round of cousins, aunts and uncles.  In this day and age, I have found that the contact I have with my aunts and other relatives is priceless and still expands my mind every time I speak with them.  They always say that “blood is thicker that water,” and the older I get, the more I realize just how important family and extended family is to the person I am and the person I am still developing into.  It is a shame for those who only see relatives and family when there’s a birth, marriage or death.  You have to cherish others in life.  “I would rather have one small rose From the garden of a friend (or family for that matter) Than to have the choicest flowers When my stay on Earth must end.”

Education – Yeah, remember that dreaded word.  Well, in our house, we had homework time and it was checked every night.  We did not have emails where my parents could check what was missing or check on our progress.  And if the dog ate our paper or we missed an assignment, you could bet that we would hear about it within a day or so directly from the teacher.  My mom taught me the importance of an education and college.  I still remember sitting on the couch going over the spelling words for the week and vocabulary.  I also remember sitting on the stairs when she was quizzing my brother(s) and taking any chance I could get to make fun of their mistakes.  That was promptly followed by, “Sandra, go to you room and leave your brother(s) alone.” But through it all, I still have the yearning to learn more.  I know that once you reach a certain age in Connecticut you can go back to any state-run University for free to earn a degree.  I think I have 10 years before I go back to add to my Education.  I am still thinking Speech Pathology (my minor in college) or some sort of human services.  A person can never know too much.  A mind expands and stays vibrant and healthy based on the knowledge it learns and I am not done yet.

Extra Curricular Activities – Whether, dance classes, cub scouts, girl scouts, softball, baseball, football, track, learning to play an instrument,  or whatever was the activity of the quarter, my mom and dad encouraged us to expand our horizons.  I believe, though it is not always apparent, that a person should learn something new everyday no matter how small and I think this was breed out of my mom and dad encouraging us to each take an  interest in activities to learn, grow and expand our self-worth, knowledge and experiences.

The Great Outdoors – The outdoors was our canvas to paint, enjoy, create, pretend and make friends. We spent our time when not in school outside in the open air – discovering, playing army, building matchbox car cities in the dirt, baseball in the street, running through Farmer Treat’s field, the nearby woods behind Franklin Road,  jump rope, dress up and wearing wigs, hop scotch, Mother May I, flashlight tag, swinging on swings, going to the park down the street and whatever we could fit in before being called home for dinner.   We were not allowed to sit up in our rooms as there was a WHOLE WORLD and OUTDOORS to EXPLORE.  Television was a thing to watch after dinner and after our homework was done (or on Sunday nights with Wild Kingdom and The Wonderful World of Disney) and then it was to bed to get a full nights sleep to be fresh in the morning.  Through this, I have a great appreciation of the outdoors, the garden, nature, the vibrant colors of the sunrise and sunset and looking at each day as a new experience of exploration and wonderment in this thing called life.  I am an early to bed, usually very early to rise person….

Family Vacations were basically a yearly thing.  Thanks to my parents, we were able to travel the whole East Coast and Canada.  We went on Connecticut “stay” cations, experiencing everything in this state from the Dinosaur State Park to farms, museums, fairs, and festivals.  We also visited every state on the East Coast –  from watching Maple Syrup being processed, to caverns (don’t remember where those were), Virginia Beach (still remember my purple shirt Virginia Beach is for Lovers), to Sea Isle City, to Disney World, Sea World, Hershey Park, Gettysburg, the Amish Country, Lake George, Cape Cod, Expo 1969, Danbury Fair, Camping in our pop-up trailer, a Circus museum, Frontier Town, Story Land. Our “pop-up” camper and tents (for my brothers ) where a whole “nuther” story or the port – 0 – potty in the middle of the pop up when we didn’t want to walk to the campground bathrooms in the middle of the night….   These memories are priceless and the photos back up those precious moments ten fold.  One thing that has always struck me is that my mom and dad never went away without us.  They wanted us to see the “world” and if that was not possible, then they wanted us to experience what was in our own backyard if not at least the East Coast.  They did not go away by themselves until we were grown and they ventured to England on their own.  A great leap from US vacations with their kids…and all by themselves once they knew they had given us what they could and we were now grown.

My mom taught me that people should not be judged or held in contempt unless we walk a mile in their shoes.  Too many times others judge on what is heard, assumed or what they have no knowledge of.  I never remember my parents talking about neighbors or relatives or anything that resembles the “drama” that exists in today’s world.  Above all, if it does not affect you personally, then basically, it is none of anyone’s business.  Many times, our opinions about others are not based in reality, they are just based on hearsay and that is not fair to any of the parties involved. If you are not sure ask.  I have learned more from direct questions and actually listening to others speak (I do not mean hearing, I mean actually listening to what the other person is saying).  It’s sort of like the old joke where someone says, “hey how are you,” and the person says, “I am in a really bad way or upset or I lost my car, my house or my spouse” and the other person replies, “that’s great,” never having heard what the other person has really said.  Let the mind be quiet, be totally present in the moment and listen to what is being said.

Take Pride in what you do and put your all in to what you believe in.  My mom supported my dad with his long hours and tried to make sure he was coming home to a loving family proud of his accomplishments and how hard we was working to provide the best for his family. She would usually calm us all down before “Daddy got home” so things would be peaceful.   I believe I inherited my dad’s work ethics but my mom’s patience and understanding that after a full day of work with either physical or information overload, that everyone needs down time.  She would pick up the slack when he was beat and he would pick up the slack when she needed a break.

Above all, my Mom taught me unconditional LOVE. My mom has been there for me every step of the way.  From step shuffle ball change ball change, to crossing the bridge in girl scouts,  strike outs and home runs, cooking mishaps, dating woes, best friend fights, beating up the neighborhood boys, weight loses and gains, bad hair cuts and perms to the Dorothy Hamill hairstyle, purple bedroom, pet turtles, cats, bunnies, more cats and even more cats,  teaching me to drive,  and friends sleeping over for a night and staying for a year, my first car, quitting college yet going back to graduate CCSU, my condo, my quirks, my anxiety and my hurts.  I could never ask for a better mom, a mother, a friend and a confidant.  Mom, this blog is for you.  Times have changed and the world is so different but through it all, my love for you has never faltered.   My life is better because of your strength in times of adversity, pain and hurt.  You have shaped everything I am and desire to be.  In the words of the great Helen Reddy, “I am strong, I am invincible, I am Women” THANKS TO YOU MOM!!!

And on that note, one of my favorite songs, which I can vividly remember my mom playing (the LP  for that matter) numerous times on the stereo (yes, I have my mom’s original album),  …this one is for you… I am proud to be your one and only daughter  and proud to call you my MOM!  Happy Mother’s Day!!!!


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