Happy Mother’s Day From A Father’s Daughter – 2017


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I wondered if this had changed in the four years since I first wrote it.  No, not really we are still, my mother and I, something…best described as comfortably, and now mutually, respectful.

She is now soon to be 87 years old and my father has been gone 12 years…12 years still seems like the day before yesterday and I remain very much my father’s daughter. My nest egg has grown and her’s remains wonderful as some frugal habits are hard to relinquish.

To her credit, and her benefit,  the one time she didn’t start from no, didn’t say no, resulted in the love affair of the decade.  She has developed a true and deep love of an old dog.  She and Toti Nonna continue to save each other each week since Lina died.  They are the reason each looks forward to the weekend.

I’ve had a new string of wonderful young people cycle through my life and on to live their fullest lives and I fully anticipate this will happen again and again.  There is something to be said for being once removed from family where one can stamp their feet and empty their angst while filling their stomachs.  I’d like to say I’ve perfected that particular method of being available.

Previously published in 2013:


She loves her Chinese food, me not so much.  She has a million quips and quotes that somehow grew us up and we remember to this day.  She is eighty three and like most people her age she concentrates on herself, some amazing survival instinct of the aged. She truly made a silk purse from a sow’s ear, she scrimped and saved and has a wonderful nest egg, me not so much but she is generous.

In the eight years since my Father passed we have become…something.  Something more than we were and less than we will ever be.  I have developed a certain respect for her charm, her ability to bring people to her and to make them feel…something.  Loved, important, heard, special.  She has a long line of people who will always remember how she made them feel.  Including me.

But she and I couldn’t be more different in many ways.  I am hopeful that I’ve been able to cultivate that ability of hers to bring people to me.  Maya Angelou said today that her second greatest blessing has been her ability to turn people into children of hers.  I’ve had a string of people that I believe turned into children of mine but have now moved on into wonderful and satisfying lives through new jobs, new relationships or reestablished relationships with their own mothers, and new…something.

You never really know the effect you’ve had on people, there are no Mother’s Day calls when people have taken your love and lessons and moved on to send those lessons into their own worlds.  You can be grateful for the love and lessons you’ve received from a Mother you’re only now getting to know, love and respect.   I am grateful for both the sending and the receiving.


Happy Mother’s Day to all.

Summer Work

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Unless something incredibly amazing happens during August, we’re taking the month off from blogging. I’ve been trying to launch the Elder Beauty Project and it just hasn’t happened.  Why? Beats the stuffing out of me… Fear? Well yeah, there’s always that. Not knowing where to begin?  Absolutely.

What if?  I’ve been through enough what ifs to last a lifetime and haven’t come up with a decent answer yet. So now is the time to start asking for help.  Did I say that out loud?  Yes, yes I did.  There are brilliant people in my circles that would be more than willing to tell me how to get started, stay motivated, shut up about the what ifs and on and on. Why the hell do I think I always have to reinvent the wheel?  On my own? You know why…

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I believe in this project so what’s the holdup.   I envision it to be a cross between Humans of New York and On the Road with Steve Hartman with a culinary twist.  Make sense?  Fine, you’ll see, it will look a lot like this; one of the most satisfying days of my life on a creative level, culinary level and humanistic level.  I will never forget it and crave so many more of them.


So I’m going to channel my inner Jeanette (in whose honor I dedicate the project) and get off my ass and talk to people about their people or other people’s people and get this thing going. The overriding fear of these stories not being told should surpass the fear of getting started.  You can get involved, you know, at the Elder Beauty Project. Just sayin.

I’m also going to take part in the August Break 2016 with the incredible Susannah Conway, to make sure my brain doesn’t completely explode, along with a host of other incredible bloggers and creative souls and just plain humans.  Look for the Ordinary Legacy images on Instagram #augustbreak2016

See you in September, when the summer’s through…with a plan, renewed enthusiasm and all the courage I can muster. Can’t wait.


How Would You Know?

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As is so often the case, people will come and go from your life. Especially on this weekend I think of many of those people. I don’t have war dead but my heart breaks for those who do. What I do have is gratitude for their sacrifice and I find myself taking moments here and there over the weekend to pray for them and theirs.

While this weekend is about honoring those lost in sacrifice to our country I can’t help but honor one lost too soon. I tend to question why sometimes but I could almost hear him answer with another question, “how would you know?”. That question was the answer to many a question over the years. I hadn’t thought of him saying that for quite some time.

I was reminded of that question, while watching Grace and Frankie of all things. That question and the concept of relevance. “Am I relevant”, asked Grace and all I could hear in my head was, “how would you know”?

Every person who sacrificed their life for our country became instantly relevant. Not only to those left behind but also to those who live in freedom because of them. A person who lives an ordinary life becomes relevant to those they leave behind also but “how would you know” if you’re relevant among the living?

The fact is you won’t know unless the living say and do something to assure you that you are, indeed, relevant. I believe in that whole heartedly and hope I’m doing enough of that. There is a song about if I die young bury me in satin, lay me down on a bed of roses, sink me in a river at dawn, send me away with the words of a love song. While that die young ship has sailed for me every time I hear that song I think DON’T DO THAT. Don’t come and say and do when I die, come now, say now, do now and think of me now so I know like I know that relevance is real and I am it. I will do the same for you, that’s “how we’d know”.

Many minds will wander this weekend to people who have come and gone from this life and I urge you to have your moments, like at the sound of taps.  But I also urge you to stay among the living where you can be comforted and assured of your relevance and you can do the same in return.

A Callahan’s Mom


Today it was all about the hot dog. And beer…birch beer. And a piece of the past that we shared so many years ago as a young family growing up in Bergen County. For Mother’s Day we dined at Callahan’s Hot Dogs. Not brunch, no cooking, no fuss just a hot dog, well not JUST a hot dog it was Callahan’s after all. The snap, the flavor, the birch beer, the music it just all came together like a time capsule broken wide open. It was simple, it was heartwarming, it didn’t include my father but enough trains passed by that we were pretty sure he was on one of them. It’s what she wanted to do for her day.

Sometimes you get there. Sometimes a father’s daughter can learn to appreciate her mother because a little dog comes along and makes her into a Gramma. The mistakes aren’t forgotten but they are relabeled into something more palatable, something more relatable.

The reliance has become endearing especially when you find yourself saying you did the right thing, out loud. Me: no it wasn’t the IRS calling. Me: yes do call the police to report it. Me: see even they said you did the right thing. Now it counts…

Most of all you admit you don’t know what you’ll be like when you’re approaching 86 years old. You admit you’re glad that you own the dog she loves as if it were a grandchild. You admit there may be more similarities than differences, our feet don’t touch the ground. It’s a start albeit a small one, no pun intended.

There is gratitude in the passing of time that allowed all things to come to the point where regrets are over taken by small moments. Like receiving the proud sticker that said Callahan’s Mom from the original owner’s grandson who called her Gramma, day complete.

Happy Mother’s Day from a father’s daughter…

Body of Work

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By definition a body of work is generally reserved for writers, artists, scientists; people who are producing tangible evidence of their efforts. Their existence is solidified by their body of work, it doesn’t have to be good it just has to exist. A body of work becomes a legacy for that person.

I’ve been pondering the term body of work, even though I’m a writer and have created a body of work, I wonder does it always have to be tangible. Can a body of work simply exist without one being able to touch it?

Now I’ve got you thinking because maybe you haven’t created anything tangible… My guess is your body of work exists in the same place I go to for inspiration. Your work may be kindness, teaching, listening, curiosity or just plain making your way in the world. You may not even know you’re doing it but you are, again good or bad, and you may never know the impact of your body of work.

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Unless of course someone brings that together for you. I had the rare opportunity to have dinner just recently with all the people who inspire me, challenge me, and love me. I was able to look around the table and know that what I do is important, I am making a difference to this small and wonderful group of people who I could not live without. And without exception they are making a body of work by being a body of work. They are raising children, spreading kindness, teaching, loving and making the world laugh. They are carrying on legacies handed down by fathers and mothers and teachers they’ve known and perpetuating good in the world.

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Just living is your work, we are all doing the work and we are all leaving something to show for it. Even if it can’t be touched.