It was a pleasure watching Tom Terrific and the Patriots win the division and head for the Super Bowl. Again. Garry often reminds me — we have been privileged to watch this great team develop from its beginning to today. I can remember when Tom Brady came to play as the backup quarterback to Drew Bledsoe when Bledsoe was injured.
That was Tom Brady’s first year of full-time play, but he was good. Not as good as he would become, but good enough that he replaced Bledsoe who was good, too. But Tom was better. Tom Brady became Tom Terrific and thus he has stayed ever since.
I know a lot of people hate the Patriots, probably the way we hated the Yankees for all those years when they were a force of nature — the team you had to beat and usually didn’t. The Yankees were and still are, a great team that other teams love to hate.
Today, in football, we’ve had 18 years of an incredible winning team. I remember when the Patriots never won anything and no one expected them to win. It was amazing last night, watching them win in those final few minutes of the fourth quarter. Especially recognizing that Tom Terrific is close to the end of his career and these glory days will end.
As for that second thing? Turns out paying extra money to skip the insurance deductible was really worth it. Two little accidents — one our fault, the other one of those whodunnit parking accidents — would have buried us in debt, otherwise! It’s so much more expensive to fix a broken car these days. So much of the car is plastic. You can’t bang out the dent. You have to remove the part and replace it. I suppose you save something because fewer hours are used in making the repair, but overall, it really does cost more.
Have you ever owned a rock, pet rock, or gem that is not jewelry?
I have a jar of rocks, all semi-precious. There’s some rose quartz, a piece of turquoise and amethyst, mica and a few other items. I like them. They are pretty and each has a meaning.
Are you a hugger or a non-hugger?
I’m a hugger for people I hug, but I don’t hug everyone and I don’t hug anyone all the time.
What inspired you or what did you appreciate this past week?
The rains came and cleared the snow from our roof. We’ve been lucky with the weather this year. It has snowed, but the snows haven’t been continuous.
After each event, the temperature has warmed up and the snow has been cleared away before the next arrives. I know it’s only January and there’s plenty of winter to go, but so far, so good!
My all-time BFF is my daughter, Sarah. I’m unlucky in that she lives in LA, 3000 miles away from me. Yet I’m also lucky because for 3 to 4 weeks every year, we get to live together, like roommates on holiday.
I can’t tell you how wonderful it is to spend day after day just hanging out with Sarah. Some days, on this trip, we went to visit family and old friends. Some days we went shopping. But most days, we just stayed home and played with the dogs, and each other. I’m so grateful to have such a delightful, caring and compassionate, intelligent, intellectually curious and interesting, funny, responsible and loyal daughter. It gives me great pride to feel that I played a part in creating this amazing person.
The past two visits, Sarah has been on an organizing binge in the attic. She is the family historian and genealogist. On the last visit, she went through bags and boxes of old photos and we organized them into chronological folders. This visit, we went through the family memorabilia that I had saved, from the early 1900’s down to the recent past. We found some awesome treasures.
We found a telegram congratulating my grandparents on their 1915 wedding! We found postcards from my mom’s 1936 honeymoon when she visited the family remaining in Russia. All of these Russian family members were all killed by the Nazis just a few years later. We found the 1946 Valentine’s card my mom received from her first husband, A.O. – the morning after he died of a massive heart attack. Enclosed in the card was a photo of him, which mom received while his body was still at the funeral home.
We also found letters between my mom and me when I was a teenager and was away from home. One letter from my mom gave me advice about how to deal with some of my fears and anxieties. Sarah was shocked because both the advice and the issues they addressed equally apply to Sarah today. Sarah didn’t realize how similar she is to the youthful version of me. So reading this letter was like getting a heart to heart talk with her grandmother, 16 years after her death. It was very moving for Sarah.
Sarah is also the one who encouraged me to write down all of the family stories that she had grown up hearing. She relishes these stories and actually reminded me of ones that I had forgotten. They have made up the bulk of my blogs for the past year or so. I have taken these 250 pages of personal blogs and arranged them in rough chronological order as a family history. I’m making copies to give to both my children so they have a prose record of their lives and of the familiar anecdotes from their ancestors’ lives.
Even when we’re not working together on family projects, Sarah and I never run out of things to talk about. We talk about politics, history, books, television and movies, mutual acquaintances, hopes and dreams and emotional baggage. We talk a lot about her childhood and about her father, who died in 2005. We understand each other on a deep and unique level that comes from sharing an intimate past. We can support each other in ways that other, non family members can’t. We try to motivate each other by gently pushing the right buttons. We tacitly acknowledge how difficult change, even moving forward, can be.
One of our shared interests is television. In fact, Sarah majored in Film and Television in college. So we watch a lot of TV and movies when we’re together. On this visit, we blitzed through “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel” and the second season of “The Crown”. We loved them both. Stories about other strong women resonate with us.
As usual, we laughed a lot. We’ve always had fun together, even when Sarah was little. We find each other endlessly amusing. We tend to see things in the same, often quirky way and often express things with a humorous twist. Tom fits perfectly with our humor profile, so we immensely enjoy our time together.
This may be unusual for mothers and daughters, but Sarah and I rarely argue – about anything other than ideas and intellectual opinions. There is no tension or undercurrent of negativity. We are genuinely relaxed and comfortable with each other. We have had periods of strain in the past, but never much and not for years.
We are also roughly the same size. So every year, Sarah goes ‘shopping’ in my closet. This time, she found enough clothes to fill the extra duffel bag she brought with her. This is the year I finally gave up on the idea that I’m ever going to wear all those nice dresses that have gone untouched for so long. On a previous visit, Sarah fell in love with my fur-lined Ugg slippers. I didn’t want to part with them, but I did. I bought myself a new pair.
This year I didn’t part with anything I still wanted to wear. So it was a win-win.
The down side of these glorious, intense visits, is they end.
When Sarah leaves after two weeks of 24/7 immersion, it’s like the air is sucked out of my world. It takes me days to readjust to my life without her.
I remind myself that even if Sarah lived nearby, we would rarely, if ever, get to spend this much concentrated time together, uninterrupted by work, family or the rest of life. These two-week periods are a precious gift that supersedes the real world. It adds something special to my life which I cherish with all my heart and soul.
No vacation is perfect. Some part of every meal will not be ready when the rest of the dishes are served. Guests come early or late, leave too soon — or not soon enough. Complications, delays, bumps in the road are the companions to everything.
Then there are the things that almost happen. When I was recently back from Israel, I took a three-day weekend from my new job to visit friends in San Diego. I bought a new weekend carry-on bag. It’s still my favorite travel bag — and the bag was the best part of the trip.
I bought tickets to San Diego — not easy because most cross-country flights out of Boston go to Oakland, SF, or LA — none of which are close to San Diego.
I got to La Guardia airport, but the departing flight never arrived. After my connecting flight in Salt Lake City departed, there was nowhere for me to go. I asked for my money back. The perky young thing at the ticket counter explained, “These are non-refundable tickets. See? It says so right here. We can get you on a flight to Los Angeles tomorrow afternoon. How’s that?”
I was not feeling perky. “I took a three-day weekend from work. I won’t get those hours back. I’m not interested in Los Angeles or anything that goes anywhere tomorrow. LA is more than 3 hours drive from San Diego and I don’t have a car. By the time I get there — if I got there — I’d have to turn immediately around and come back. I’ve had to spend money on taxis and lost my holiday time. All I’ve gotten in return is a long afternoon in an airport waiting room. If you can’t get me to San Diego today — direct and nonstop — return my money.”
I got my money back. After which I took a taxi home. I spent the weekend having a mini-orgy of self-pity. I never went to San Diego. Eventually, I lost touch with those friends and life moved on.
Our fondest illusion is control, the belief we’re in charge or at least, ought to be. We spend a staggering amount of effort trying to wrestle life into our own shape. How else can we succeed? You’ve got to be in charge, right?
The promise we get as children is one on which we build a world.
No matter what you want, no matter how unlikely it is or how unqualified you are, just try harder and you will get it.
It’s the biggest lie because it establishes a fundamental belief that if we do all the right stuff, we will get what we want.
It’s got to be true because our teachers, parents — pretty much everyone — told us so. Good work will be rewarded immediately. Kindness will be returned in kind. If we eat right, keep fit, avoid drugs, cigarettes, and booze, we’ll be healthy. Forever. All the stuff that happens to other people will not happen to us because we are special. Mom said so. Dad said so. My sixth-grade teacher said so. My IQ test says so.
From all the little stuff that goes wrong — flights cancelled, vacations rained out, to failed marriages and jobs lost, life and time strips us of the illusions with which we grew up. Injustice shows itself in an infinite variety of shapes and sizes, from tiny indignities to incomprehensible calamities. No one is immune. We learn we are passengers on the bus we call life. We aren’t driving and don’t even know what road we’re on. Nor have we any idea of the destination or the stops along the way.
Finally, I got it. The bus is going where it’s going, but outside, it’s beautiful. We don’t have to drive. We don’t need to control the bus. Where we are going is irrelevant.
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