The Written Word

The Written Word

When your children and your children’s children go through the family things some day, what will they find? Perhaps not our generation, but surely our children’s generation one thing that will not be passed down is the written word.

oldlettersOver the weekend, I hauled into the house from an old desk stored in the garage, a drawer filled with my life. Most of what was stowed away for years was from the early years in my radio career, but I also discovered high school memorabilia I thought was long gone – and frankly, I hadn’t even thought about it for decades. What I found that was most meaningful, were cards and letters from friends and family members.

There’s a letter from my ‘mom-mom’ who died in 1995. The letter is dated December 31, 1981. She tucked into the note another note that she received from a niece of my late grandfather. She listened to me on the radio back then and was so glad to have that connection. My grandmother wrote how proud she was of me.

A letter from my elementary school gym teacher dated November 10, 1981 wrote of how he and my other two favorite teachers had formed a ‘fan’ club and how they too, were listening to me on WMGK and were proud. I found letters from radio fans who talked about their lives and how connected they felt listening to me and the people I worked with. Most important were all the letters my brother wrote me when he was in the Air Force. This was in the early to mid 1980’s. These letters are particularly significant because my brother suffered a life-changing accident during his time in the Air Force and lost the use of his right arm. The letters he wrote before the accident describe his homesickness as well as the fun he was having seeing other places and meeting new people. He ultimately me his wife – and they lived happily ever after. But it was emotional for me to read the handwriting he had before the accident. He learned how to use his left hand and has done extremely well over the past 20+ years.

What will the next generation have to look through when they look at their history? Emails, documents, blog posts like this, a Google search. The written word – putting pen to paper – is often from our hearts and minds. The physical act of writing, not typing, is somehow therapeutic.¬† While writers today do indeed express themselves well by typing words, too often a majority of people so dislike writing that they shorten everything down. “R u going 2nite? OMG me 2. C u l8tr.”

When I work with clients and we are able to get media coverage, I always encourage them to write a ‘thank you’ to the reporter. If they want to type out an email, that’s OK, but looking at these files of handwritten cards I have – many of then ‘thank yous,’ I am so incredibly glad I’m a little bit of a pack rat. For me, there’s nothing like a personal card that someone had to choose or just find that blank sheet of paper to write a thoughtful few lines or more to offer their thanks.

The letters from my grandmother and my brother and some friends are a part of me. They describe personal history that was going on back then and how they were interwoven in my life. My grandmother has been gone for years, but to read these letters I found makes me know that she was a part of me – and I of her. I can hear her laughing right now – probably after telling a dirty joke.

Consider writing a card the next time you need to get in touch with someone. It’s worth the time and effort; and on the other end of that card, there is probably a friend, family member, colleague or someone you listen to, who will tuck that card in a file for safe keeping.

 

Recreational Shopping

I’m convinced there are people who like to shop and others do not like to shop. There is really no gray area. I suppose I am on the ‘like to shop’ side. I really like to shop online – for cloths, gifts, even the car I ended up purchasing started with an online inquiry. A new Whole Foods planned for Cherry Hill will get me to the store for recreational shopping.

WholeFoodsWhat is ‘recreational shopping?’ A former colleague of mine used that term once about going grocery shopping at a market that had different items other than the usual canned corned and deli counter. I’ve enjoyed recreational shopping at Guido’s, a specialty market in Stockbridge and Pittsfield, MA; Wegman’s – the grocery chain has traditional items, but the store is really an experience. Shopping at Wegman’s on any given day at any time makes you feel as though you are in an airport. There are so many different people shopping (if I were single I might think it’s a great place to meet a guy).

Now, a Whole Foods Market opening in 2014 in Cherry Hill, NJ. The store will be about a mile from our home. There’s already a Whole Foods in Marlton, but if you’re like me, you like to grocery shop in a pretty tight geographic radius around your house. It’s been years since I shopped at Whole Foods. I remember the gorgeous displays of fresh (organic) fruits and vegetables and wonderful dairy and baked products. I am certain Whole Foods will give Wegman’s a run for their money tomatoessince the stores will be about a mile apart.

For me, Whole Foods will be recreational shopping: I’ll go to buy special items I probably can’t get other places. I will not be shopping at Whole Foods for paper goods or cleaning products and probably not most meats or canned products. One thing is for sure, I will still shop within a very tight radius of the house – unless I want to run to Trader Joe’s – for now, my favorite place for recreational shopping. I’ll save that for another day.

Coming Home

The parenting rules blur when your son or daughter is in college. You may want to guide them, offer advice from your years of learning and experience and prevent them from making mistakes you may have made. Well, forget it. For the most part, your college-aged children want you to let them go.

We have one child – everything is one and done; we go through experiences once and move on to the next experience. Since September, I’ve learned that our son rarely wants to hear our advice. He’ll listen to our friends or just about anyone else when it comes to college-aged advice – but not us. After I got over my slightly hurt feelings along with the desire to impart my wisdom on our son, I’ve realized, he just wants us to LISTEN.

EndFall2012_20121212_02 - Copy

Son & grandparents – Dec. 2012

He called us last week. We talked – or mostly HE talked for much of the 30-minutes. We asked questions showing our interest – he answered. In an earlier call, he went on about how the spring semester is so very different from his fall semester. In my had I was thinking, “Gees, didn’t I tell him that?” Of course I did; taking a look at his spring course selection, I knew he’d have a ton of reading and I told him so. This got more intense when he made the honors program. He did NOT want to hear that from me. He had to experience the challenges himself. No warning from mom was going to penetrate his defenses.

Which leads me to my final revelation. Weeks ago, our son chided us for making plans so far in advance: vacations, dinner reservations, parties, etc. He called last night – Tuesday – to say he was thinking about coming home this coming weekend and did we have any plans. That is HUGE for him. Normally, he’d call us 15 minutes before – or after he wanted to do something. I can clearly see that he is starting to manage his schedule and look forward.

So, when he calls, I listen – and take notes. That way I am forced to listen; I have a record of what he talked about and I can ask good, relevant questions that engage him in the conversation. I guess I’m growing up, too. And I can’t wait to see our son this weekend.

 

Thoughts for a Friend

Helping someone can be awkward. You don’t know what to say or do. You question your motives or whether you should get involved at all. Being a friend is about being there. Almost like a marriage: in sickness and in health; in good times and bad. That is how one should be with a true friend. It’s a difficult task.

My friend is in a dark place. Her life is shattered in many ways. The reasons are many and it happened over a very long time. I learned tonight that she is in need of professional help. She’s barely getting through a day. I can feel her pain. There is not much I can do – except just be there. I;ve been doing a lot of listening, but I realize her problems are so complex that I can;t begin to really be of any productive help. She feels alone and lost.

I know deep inside, she’ll find that place where she was long ago when she was a strong, vibrant person with love and laughter in her heart. She has lost that person. Perhaps with the right help, she’ll rediscover who she is and start anew.

I wish I could have helped her more a long time ago; but I did not know the trauma she was experiencing. I wonder if I was truly her friend because I did not know her pain. Some things are so deep, we do not share them even with the closest of friends. In sickness and health; in good times and bad. I will be there for her on the other side of her pain.

Ya Got To Have Friends

Nearly 24 years ago, Doug and I met. We met through a group that formed out of the kindness and creativity of a man named Carl. That group of singles – then called Voorhees Single Professionals – was created long before the internet, Match.com or any other online dating service. Carl created the group out of a desire to connect single people in their 20’s and 30’s to a social life that was tough to find beyond the bar scene at the time. An earlier article in the Philadelphia Inquirer mentioned the beginning of the group in the fall of 1989.

Day10_20100817_27Tonight, more than¬† 23 years later, Carl, his wife Ramona, Rick, Mary, Doug and I – who all met because of this group – had dinner together. I am exhausted. It was as though we had just left a group meeting and had planned weeks of events. We now are planning to get together for a boat ride – the six of us – on the Chesapeake – this coming summer. Ramona volunteered to start a Facebook page so we can begin to plan a September 28th ‘reunion’ of sorts. We want to revisit what Carl started so many years ago – a group of people who want to get together for social activities – a MEET market he proclaimed at the time – NOT a MEAT market – which was the big problem for singles.

The six of us met at our house for drinks and appetizers for about an hour. Our kitchen was filled with non-stop talk. Catching up; talking about our children – successes – failures; things on the horizon. When it came time to leave for our dinner reservation, we continued to talk. The car ride went by in a flash.

At the restaurant, we ordered and continued to catch up on each others’ lives. We talked about people who have passed away; who’ve divorced – but best of all, we reminisced about how each of us met. To remember those days as if they happened yesterday makes you feel as if everything that you’ve gone through – suffered through – survived – is even more meaningful.

What it all comes down to is – as the character Billy Crystal played in “City Slickers” said is ONE thing: if it were not for Carl and his one idea to put an ad in the local shopper’s guide and reserve the community hall in Voorhees on that September night in 1989 – none of us would have met. Our lives would be completely different.

Thank you Carl – forever; we love you. And we’ll plan that reunion for September 28, 2013.

The Art of the Thank You

You know the saying, “Everything I need to know I learned in kindergarten?” This is so true. We learn the alphabet; how to count; we learn ‘please’ and ‘thank you.’ Parents reinforce those lessons at home (hopefully). There is a lost art: writing ‘thank you’ notes. There is a wonderful CBS segment on writing ‘thank yous.’ Spend a few minutes and watch the segment – it will get you thinking – remembering HOW to write ‘thank yous’ and perhaps inspire you to pick up a pen (remember those) every now and then.

In the snail mail today, we received thank you notes from our nephews and niece for the holiday gifts we shared in December. Oh, the smile on my face after I read these precious words. I hope you enjoy them as well.

IMG_0801

IMG_0800IMG_0799

When Do You Stop Worrying?

The book I read to my son over and over when he was little had a memorable verse: “I’ll love you forever; I’ll like you for always. As long as I’m living my baby you’ll be.” It seems no matter how much time passes, I am always thinking about how he’ll turn out. Will he make the right decisions and choices that will lead to his happiness? Will he get in over his head with his schedule? Is what he is doing already in college sustainable?
I suppose this is all about letting go. He is 18 and testing his limits. Right now he’s succeeding beyond all our expectations and probably his own. He’s discovering the world is his oyster and he wants to take advantage of every opportunity.
The hard part is tripping and falling on your face. While he’s done his fair share of that already, I just hope and pray he finds everything he’s looking for. Perhaps he doesn’t know what IT is just yet, but it will be wonderful to hear from him when that light bulb goes off. I long for the day when we may hear, ” Hey, Mom and Dad, thanks for everything you did to get me here. I couldn’t have done it without you.” I may not say this out loud to him but, “as long as I’m living, my baby he’ll be.”