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Thursday, February 21, 2013

Making Choices Is Your Greatest Power

"While your character is formed by your circumstances,
your desires can shape those circumstances.
The one thing over which you have absolute control is your own thoughts.
It is this that puts you in a position to control your own destiny.

Nature is constantly at work around you.
Character and destiny are her handiwork.
She gives you love and hate, jealousy and reverence.
You have the power to choose which impulse you follow.

At any time you can decide to alter the course of your life.
No one can ever take that away from you.
You can do what you want to do and be who you want to be.
Your greatest power is the power to choose."
- Anonymous

Monday, February 18, 2013

How Just Seven Dollars Changed My Mother's Life

As long as I can remember, my Mom always prayed for everyone, especially children.

In fact, whenever she'd see a child, she would take out her rosary beads and say a prayer, right there, at that moment, wherever she was, asking the accompanying parent if it was okay for her to bless their child.

"Of course," they'd say.

Then, every Monday-Friday, she attended the Senior Center in Irondequoit, New York; and that cost her about $6.00 a day - a price that included lunch and service for the van (that picked her up and took her home).

Thirty bucks a week for a senior's regular activities?

Not bad.

At this simple-treasured Center, she also played cards, went on picnics, and played bingo

She especially loved the bingo.

A whole lot.

I never realized how much really.

Until, one day, when I started giving her "extra" quarters with which to play the game. Not a lot of quarters. Just seven dollars.

Not ten.

Not nine.

But seven.

Every other day, I’d walk into her apartment, and interrupt her daily viewing of Seinfeld or The Golden Girls, walk over to her, kiss her, and ask her to open up her hand.

At that moment, I’d pour out the seven dollars in quarters, twenty-eigh in all.

As I did this, her reaction was one of astonishment.

She’d look at me as if she won the lottery or the mega-jackpot in Vegas.

"Oh, Herbie J," she'd say with so much joy, "...what a great son you are! I have to pay you back! I have to pay you back!!"

"Ma," I’d reply, "You just go have fun at the Center."

And she did, all the more...with that mere extra seven dollars.

Not a million.

Not a thousand.

Not even ten.

But seven.


Friday, February 8, 2013

Blessing Babies

As some of you may know, my Mom died of dementia in May 2008.

One of her many endearments was that she used to bless everyone with her rosary, including me, especially after each visit to her home.  And she would do this before and after she was diagnosed with dementia.

I would walk outside to my car, I'd turn - and there'd she be, standing at her front window, with her rosary in hand, blessing me with the sign of the cross.

That said, the newspaper from my hometown of Rochester, New York publishes an annual baby announcement supplement with photos of all the infants born to the area in the previous year.

I remember walking into my Mom's apartment on the day the supplement was published, a few months before she went to Heaven. 

She was sitting on her sofa, with the supplement on her lap. Her left hand was holding steady the supplement; her right hand was holding her rosary, the crucifix from which she was using to tap the photo of each infant.

When I asked her what she was doing, she replied, "Blessing babies."

We should all have such dementia...or at least be graced enough to be "blessed" - at any age - by one who does.