Good Times

It’s the time of year when we naturally reflect on our lives and those we love. Lately I have daily reminders of my parents. It is such a nice moment in my day when something pops up that brings two of the loveliest people to mind.

Happy and Healthy!

Christmas baking always brings me back to my childhood.  We would spend an afternoon baking several kinds of cookies, as most people do.  My mom’s cut out cookies would take two days.  The dough had to be prepared and then stored in the fridge overnight.  The next day would be the rolling and cutting out of the cookies.  Then the fun part for the kids: the decorating.  I remember having so much fun with all of the sprinkles and various colored icing.  My favorite part was the squirty tubes of icing.  Then my mother we casually walk by and make the most simple and beautiful cookies.  I would sit back and think, “Huh.  Why don’t mine look like that?”  Then I’d spend a great deal of time trying to copy hers.

This week The Major and I treated ourselves to an evening out.  We dressed up and went to an upscale restaurant in a nearby town. It has an intimate atmosphere and the food and service are impeccable.  It was exactly the kind of place my parents would have loved and taken us to as a treat.  We have many wonderful memories of such evenings out with my parents.  Even as children, my parents would take my sister or me out for a special meal at a restaurant, not the “kid-friendly” places.  Nothing wrong with showing children the better things in life.

My dad checking out my grandfather's computerI have been thinking of how much my parents would enjoy my children at this stage in their lives.  I can completely picture Subway Dude and my dad back in by dad’s office.  My dad loved his computer and was always adding on some new technology to his set up.  He was ever patient and willing to troubleshoot throughout the most frustrating problems.  He and SD would be able to work together and no doubt, teach each other  tricks of the trade.

My mother, as an artist, was delighted in The Fashionista’s sense of style, which was evident even when TF was a young girl.  TF and my mother would have enjoyed talking about the latest styles.  My mother loved to take trips into Manhattan and would come home with some pretty fancy and artsy clothes.

RG and TF enjoying some drawing at Granny Mary & Pop's house. TM relaxing in the background.

My mother always had a clean fresh ream of paper in her bookcase filled with cookbooks in the kitchen.  The good colored pencils and good markers were never too far off.  My sister and I would spend afternoons drawing and creating masterpieces.  I can see TF and Island Boy spending hours doing the same.  My mom would quietly offer suggestions as the amazing art teacher she was.

The drive from Buffalo to Central New Jersey was certainly long enough to drag the kids to nearly every vacation the kids and I had. It was often me driving on my own while TM stayed back to work.  I never enjoyed facing the trip to see my parents, but once we were there it was always like being home.

TF's 2nd Birthday. We spent many of her bdays at Granny & Pop's

It never felt like my parents had been preparing for our visits, but rather that we walked into their lives.  Company was always welcome.  My father would be working in his office.  My mother would be in the kitchen.  Meals were meticulously prepared.  She relished taking us to the various local markets and farms to pick out fresh produce and ingredients.  There could never be too many stops along the way to get just the right ingredients.

She knew everyone at the farms and markets by name.  Usually the people would say, “Oh, so is this your daughter from Texas or from Buffalo?  Your mother talks about you all of the time.”  Then my mother would inquire about their families or trips they had taken or ask some question that was important to that person.  My mother had a gift for getting to the heart of people and seeing what was important to them.

Recently I started to tell TM that I thought my mom would be mortified by my choice of recipes.  I have two bookcases full of her cookbooks.  I love food and cooking.  I could read these cookbooks like novels.  They are so appealing and interesting.  Instead, with our busy schedules I’ve been using a website to find recipes and plan meals for the week.  I use fresh, organic ingredients, but I still feel like I’m cheating.

As I was telling this to TM, I stopped myself and said, “You know what?  My mom would have immediately found a way to make me feel at ease about my cooking/cheating ways.”  I can hear her assuring me that she has friends at work who use the same site and love it.  She would point out how we are a busy full time working couple with three kids who have busy schedules and that I’m taking care of myself when I take time to run.  That’s the way my mom was.  Always a kind and caring word.

Visits to my parents were such peaceful events.  No expectations.  No family tension.  They loved us unconditionally.  We try to follow their example of “We think the best of those we love.”

Best visits included my sister and her family.

Visiting would involve the kids playing in their living room.  We would take walks to local parks or ponds.  The best parts of our visits centered around the meals.  Great food and fabulous conversations about politics, world events, stories from our lives at home.  My parents were amazing listeners and had thoughtful insights into issues.  Like my mom’s decorated cookies, they would come up with advice or a comment and you’d sit back and think, “Huh.  I never thought of it that way, but of course.  That’s it.”

When not visiting, I loved receiving daily phone calls from my mother.  She would check in to see how things were going.  What were the children up to.  How was my school going.  Some of the best moments in a phone call might come when she would say, “I was telling your father about…” and it would be some story about the kids or a promotion of The Major’s.  She would say, “Your father was so impressed with the way you handled that situation.” or “Your father was really pleased with this or that.”  That was always high praise and would make you feel so good.

I love this look of glee on my dad's face in response to something my niece said or did.

I imagine my mother would call me and tell me that my father was enjoying reading The Major’s blog entries.  He would be proud of my continued running.  He would love SD’s interest in teaching, math and science.  He would be so proud that SD was planning on heading to a SUNY school.  He would really dig that.  He would love TF’s conscientious work ethic and would be sure to comment on it.  He would take great delight in Island Boy’s emerging reading skills.

So, this weekend we will remember my parents again as we all have a bite of homemade black eyed peas for good luck in 2012.  “Even just a bite”, my mom would say. “You don’t have to eat it all, but just a bite.  It’s tradition.”  We may even have a traditional Marshall lunch while watching a football game.  There is nothing like a cold beer or a glass of red wine with popcorn, fresh cheese and some pears or apples sliced.  Good memories.

–Running Girl


One response to this post.

  1. Posted by Tony Marshall on January 4, 2012 at 11:26 am

    Dear RG –

    Thank you for that lovely, and loving, reminiscence of Geoff & Mary. Terry and I often reflect on how remarkable they were as individuals, as parents, as human beings. I miss them both daily, as you do.

    And in the “The Fruit Doesn’t Fall Far From The Tree Dept.” I wanted to comment on your message several months ago about blood stem cell donation. In the winter of 2009, when I spent several weeks in the hospital, that was part of what was going on…

    That is, after being given a serious jolt of chemo my system was sort of restocked with fresh, non-cancerous blood stem cells. In my case, I was able to donate for myself and the results were only partially successful BUT… it is an extremely important and useful alternative treatment and many people can’t donate for themselves. In those cases donations from people like you are (or can be) life saving. Thank you for donating and posting the message for others… much love to you all, Unca Tone

    (ps – currently on a very simple pill routine and feeling great; better than I have for several years. T.)


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