Life Lessons in One Night

Having dinner with these two is always a treat for me; they make me believe I might just have a bit of cool left in me.  We worked together several years ago and developed a mutual admiration, love, and appreciation for one another that just stuck.  I love that.

These two men are so supportive and encouraging to me, and of me, and my little project that I can’t even express how grateful I am.  And I can’t wait to hear their latest adventure and adrenaline fix.  There’s always something they are shooting, driving, riding, traveling to, coming back from or getting ready to go on.

This dinner is a farewell of sorts for Justin who is starting a new adventure, a new job, in a new state.  And I thought I knew how to do over.  Through whatever circumstances, this opportunity presented itself and he has grabbed it with both hands.  Love that too.  But…

The more we all talked the more he’s realized that this is a BIG move and with that comes what he was calling pressure, we changed that to motivation, with that comes the realization that you have only you to rely on for your happiness, your success or failure, your inspiration for all things great and small, your connections both old and new.  There would be the learning to love your own company for a pretty good amount of time until those connections get made and then reestablishing yourself as friend or acquaintance or associate or colleague. The unknown just reeks of resourcefulness and Justin is well versed in that particular area.

These two have been fast friends from the moment they met; they have traveled many miles together and will absolutely learn to move this friendship into accommodation mode until things are more established.  For now Matt is challenging his friend to think the deeper thoughts necessary for him to succeed/survive and chiding him as only a good friend/big brother can do.  They are both working on this together, though I’m not sure they realize it yet.

I know like I know this will create the growth Justin needs to move closer to the man he envisions himself to be.  I know what kind of man he is, he just has to figure it out for himself.  I’m at the ready for anything either of them need whenever they might need it, such is the love I have for these two.  I must admit I probably won’t feel the impact as much because I only get to see them a few times a year but I’m pretty sure we’ll be firing the emails back and forth with whatever advice (or teasing) might be needed.  They will remain, as they always do, on my mind, in my heart and loved. I continue to remain open to whatever life lessons they can teach me.

Sunday Morning

Sunday mornings have a lot going for them.  First our walk is so much more relaxed, it’s also longer and sprinkled with the sounds and smells that can only happen on Sunday morning when people usually have no schedule.  When it’s a bit cooler, like today, there are more windows open and we can hear what’s going on in many of the kitchens we pass.  Is there a more distinct sound than a cast iron skillet being put on the stove top?  Or the tea kettle whistling?  Dishes clattering, flatware in a bunch being placed (ok a bit more that placed) on the table?  The smell of bacon frying, toasted bread, coffee.  By the time we get home the girls and I are starving.

I relax with my own coffee and catch up on the NY Times Magazine, check Post Secret for the newest postcards, and then think about the farmer’s market.  Today I met up with Muriel and Martina and then Kathy at our favorite farmer’s market.  What a great way to spend the morning, sampling the cheeses and pizza’s and vinegars and shopping with your eyes.  What’s good today?  What do I feel like eating this week?  Where are my farmer’s market staples; the fresh mozzarella, the half loaf of sliced Italian bread, the strawberries while they are still around.  This week there were figs, one of my favorites.

Bring it all home and begin the cleaning and storing.  Cut up the plum tomatoes to roast with gorgonzola and panko bread crumbs and a drizzle of olive oil.  Put the peaches in a brown bag to ripen, wash the strawberries and blueberries and figs and try to save a few for the week.

Since the oven is already going why not make those almost ready for the heap bananas into muffins for the week?  Soon everything is put away and the house smells like the bounty of a Sunday morning. Love that.

Healing Friend

My dear friend Wanda has graciously agreed to contribute to Ordinary Legacy as she journeys back to life after losing her, our, dear Jay.  Learn from her, she is wise as a widow can be and getting wiser all the time though she is not ready to admit that quite yet.  As I always say, “Grace, thy name is Wanda”. Lend her your ear and your support, pass her words to those in the same situation so that they too can know they are not alone. For those of you who know like you know please lend your comments and experiences to Wanda’s so that a collective body of healing work can be established. I’ve created a new catagory just for her called Healing Friend.  For those of you who don’t know Wanda’s story I have re-catagorized my chronicling of Jay’s last weeks so that you can get to know them both.  Welcome to Ordinary Legacy Wanda I’m so glad I wore you down my dear.

With Wanda’s permission a repost from her Caring Bridge Journal of July 27, 2012:

Having to OR Getting to?

Several months ago I was presented with an AHA moment thanks to Sylvia, my counselor.  Too many times in our thoughts and conversations we say “we have to do (something)” but if we turn that around and say “we get to do (something)”, think about how that will affect us!

As I reflect on that, I realize that Jay lived his life with the “I get to” attitude more so than the “I have to”.  I often marveled at how well he dealt with his health issues and very rarely would he complain.  In fact, most people would not have known about his kidney transplants by the way he lived every day.

So I have some days when I need to remind myself that I get to…….  Of course, there are times that I feel down (sometimes so down it’s hard to breathe) and feel that life has unfairly handed me a severe blow. But I get to share with people what it is like to go through something as traumatic as losing a loved one, I get to figure out a way to help myself and hopefully others going through this and I also get to enter a contest that shows me how amazing, loving & supportive friends and family can be! By the way, still no news on contest results.

Here’s the thing ~ I get it!  I spend a good deal of time trying to outline in my head, where I get to go from here.  That remains a work in progress!  And most likely, will be for a long time to come.

I get to feel the connection of special moments with friends.  The other day I ran into Tom, who as teenagers Jay was the first to befriend when Tom moved into the area.  Naturally, I got my hug. I then told him it was the last day of the contest and I was nervous, anxious and excited so as he was choosing songs on the jukebox, I asked him to play something for luck.  After enjoying several of his choices, I kept asking him what song he played for me and he said I would know.  Obviously the suspense was killing me.  And then I heard it ~ Emerson, Lake    & Palmer “Lucky Man”!  It was beautiful, perfect and brought tears to my eyes.  Jay was a lucky man even though his life was cut short.  But I am a lucky woman to have had him as my husband, my friend, my soft place to fall, my love!  So thanks, Tom, for that truly special moment!

I get to look forward to this weekend with a celebration of Christian & Maya’s engagement!  Maya has invited me to join in with her dress shopping and I am so honored.  Jared will be visiting as well, although I will miss Kel & Ev.

I’m glad you are “getting to” read this and if what I’ve written gives you a different spin on life that will make me very happy!  I am thankful that I get to call you friend!

Much love, Wanda



What is your favorite perfume?

Gretchen Rubin, of the Happiness-Project ( , asked the happiness question of the day:  What is your favorite perfume?  Mine is Miracle by Lancôme.

I’ve been wearing it for years and everyone who knows me, knows that is my fragrance. They may not know the name but they recognize it as Sandi’s, my sister’s or my friend’s or my Aunt Sandi’s scent.

It is important to me to have a signature fragrance.   It is so important to me, and I hope to others, that when I ran out just before going up to Buffalo for Gramma Velda’s funeral I made sure to go and restock.  I couldn’t risk my niece and nephew or even more importantly my summer sister Kyle not recognizing the familiar scent that surrounds every hug I have ever handed out.

Sandra and I once ventured down to Philly for a weekend with my friend Beth.  When she walked into my room before heading out she smiled and said, oh your room smells just like you.   I had just put on my perfume.  I know she had the same comfort when I arrived in her hospital room last January when she broke her legs.

I used to spritz the light bulbs on Oak Tree Road so himself would always have that scent in the air.  Even if he couldn’t come back from that dark place the aroma would be familiar and perhaps, just maybe, get him back to that place called normal.  I don’t even know if he realized there was a scent in the air or if he ever smelled it again there would be an association, but it was my way of making myself memorable.

Aroma is powerful, it can transport you back to a wonderful childhood memory or to a hospital stay, and to the day you took the SATs or outside the Dairy Queen on a hot summer day, think the strawberries they use on a sundae.  When I eat french fries in the car from MacDonald’s when I’m traveling I am immediately transported back in time to our rides that ended at MacDonald for dinner when we were kids.

My insistence on a signature fragrance stems from memories of my father.  He wore Old Spice his entire life and every time I smell it, which isn’t often anymore, I think of him.  Making “funny faces” in the mirror while shaving and then putting just a splash of that on to start his day is one of the strongest most powerful memories I have of him.

I hope that Miracle will prove to do the same for me, it’s all part of the plan, all part of a legacy.  When you smell it I hope you will think of me fondly.


Almost every obituary starts with something like:

Velda L. (nee James) Seege, age 86, of North Tonawanda NY, passed away on Thursday, July 19th, 2012 following a brief illness.  Mrs. Seege was born on March 26th, 1926 in Plainview Arkansas, daughter of the late Seth and Katie James.  Worked at….Survived by….Arrangements….the facts.

Then there is a flurry of activity, there are children and grandchildren and great grandchildren to be consoled, there are cars to be driven from places hours away, flights to be booked, who’s picking up whom and where will they all stay.   Then there is a gathering of relations and ceremony and farewells.

For me there is much to be told after all of this, I’m not done.  I’ve known Velda Seege, usually and proudly referred to as Gramma Velda, for thirty five years.   She’s not my grandmother, but the mother of my dear friend and summer sister Kyle.  She is that person that I see almost every time I find myself in Buffalo, that person that has always welcomed me with a knowing smile, a very distinct and powerful laugh a willing ear and God knows she’s heard some of the best and worst of my life.  And a glass of white zinfandel, I moved on from the white zinfandel, she did not….a signature drink is a signature drink no matter.   These are the things I knew about her, these are my precious moments with her.

In the past few days I’ve learned about her independent nature (wait I knew that) her courage, her talents, and the wonderful role model she was to her three daughters.  Not an apron and pearls kind of role model but a real life, here’s what you need to know, kind of role model.  I learned this mostly through the eulogies written and delivered by her daughters.

They say that parents are completely different people after each child is born and that each child’s experience is different in the family.  Nowhere could that have been more apparent than in the presentations done by these three women.  Kim, the oldest, spoke of Velda’s growing up in 1930’s Arkansas, her antics, the framework of her steadfastness, the talents she developed.  Kristen, the youngest, spoke mostly of her life after her husband passed away.  How she came to share her home, how she insisted on putting in the pool (ulterior motive keeping the kids and grandkids close) her work ethic and the friends she made over and over again.

Kyle told the story through her father’s eyes.  Of course she would, she is a fellow father’s daughter.  When he died so suddenly back in 1988 there was no formal eulogy done by the grieving, then much younger, women. As I recall that was left to others.   Kyle spoke so eloquently of him and Velda dancing together so beautifully that everyone on the dance floor would stop to watch.  She spoke of her getting to know her mother so much better after her father had gone, the things they shared and the rock that Velda became to her. Only a father’s daughter could portray the joy that would be their first dance after 25 years albeit in heaven.

Kyle comforted me with her words and I her with the many hugs that we exchanged over the past few days.  Father’s daughters sometimes struggle after they are gone with the relationships they are left to build with their mothers.  There is never any doubt of their love and respect but how exactly do they evolve the mother/daughter relationship going forward.  Kyle is a role model to me in so many ways, I always say she is the smartest woman I know and her words of love for both her father and mother gave me direction once again.

And so we said goodbye to Velda, we spoke of our many interactions with her and the things we loved most about her.  We moved on to the repast to share even more about her and celebrate her life with a toast.  Yes there was white zinfandel and I almost had a glass…but no. She will be remembered fondly by many for a very long time and I’m begging someone to please send me the recipe for her pepper jelly.

So clever is my friend Kyle that she managed to have a respite table at the repast.  All the women seated at this table were of the book club, vacation taking, worked with, former something or other, wine drinking variety.  We all knew each other but many of us had never met.  There was the; oh you’re Alana, oh you’re the women who went to Italy, yes I’m that Sandi.  We were delighted to sit with Reed’s mother and sister and enjoyed their company.  Our table would be the one to turn sorrow to celebration….have a seat Kyle we’ve been waiting for you to make your way over.   All the love you need is right here where you left it.