A Tribute

A Tribute

This is a tribute to my Dad as given at his Funeral Service ten years ago today…October 25, 2006:

Margaret Meade said, “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world, indeed it’s the only thing that ever has.”

My father was a thoughtful, committed citizen. Thanks to my dad, by the time I turned twelve I had stuffed more envelopes, knocked on more doors and passed out more political brochures than most people will, or would care to, in their life time.

My dad wasn’t just someone who cared, but was someone who was usually leading the charge – the ring leader of the small group of thoughtful, committed citizens. And for him, it wasn’t just about politics. Sure he served as a Republican County Committeeman, an Elector for President Nixon, a town councilman and president of the Republican Club in Franklin Lakes, but he was also a volunteer and the president of the Franklin Lakes Ambulance Corps, President of the Parish Council and PTA at Most Blessed Sacrament, and he was even my softball coach.

His life of community involvement started as a member of the Knights of Columbus and then he went on to serve his country in the Army Air Corps during World War II. While retired on Shelter Island he became an active member of the American Legion and although he said he planned to stay out of politics in retirement, he found himself leading the Shelter Island Republican Club and running my mother’s successful campaign for Tax Assessor.

As committed as my dad was to his community, he never missed an opportunity to be with his family. Some of my fondest memories are of our many vacations. He also never missed a Girl Scout Father-Daughter Square Dance. He was always in the bleachers cheering me on and he was ahead of his time – a dad, who in the 1970s arranged his work schedule so he would be waiting for me with milk and cookies after school anxious to hear about my day. I have often thought how much better the world be if every little girl had a caring father with milk and cookies waiting for her after school.

I believe my father has left a legacy in everything he has passed on to me and I, in turn, hope to pass on to my daughter. I am a Rotarian, not because he was, but because he taught me the importance of “service above self.” I am the executive director of a non-profit organization, not because he was, but because he taught me the importance of being passionate about what you believe in. I like to think that I too am a thoughtful, committed citizen – I am because he was.

My dad shared all this with me, but he also let me find my own way and my own passionate causes. He always was there to support me, even if he didn’t agree with me. I will remember that and hopefully be able to do the same.

img_5289Palisades Interstate Park, Englewood Cliffs, NJ. October 2016.

October

October

“The bus roared on. I was going home in October. Everybody goes home in October.”  – Jack Kerouac, On the Road

My father died 10 years ago – 27 years to the day that the world lost Kerouac – on October 21st. That was the beginning of my loathing October.

On October 7, 2010, my beloved Wheaton Terrier, and running buddy, Malachy, died. He wasn’t even 9-years-old.

In 2014, the year I was diagnosed with breast cancer, I wrote this on Facebook: So it’s October and although I have felt this way for a long time, I have now earned the right to express my opinion. I HATE PINK! While the “pink ribbon campaign” certainly did something tremendous in terms of creating awareness for the importance of early detection screenings and raised a lot of money for research, the marketing of PINK, IMHO, has gone overboard. There are tons of companies out there making a lot of profit on the backs of survivors and victims. So all I ask is that before you deck yourself out in PINK as a means of “supporting” the cause, do your research and find out the *real* % of your purchase that actually helps the cause and how much is actually “supporting” the business that is selling it. 

Then five days later, when I didn’t think anything else could possible make me hate October any more, my husband committed suicide.

Between anniversaries and pink ribbons, October is an emotional minefield to be navigated with graceful precision. Somehow each year I succeed. And each year I get better at it.

This year I noticed how on a really foggy October morning the bold colors still penetrate the haze, making even the dullest day bright. This year I noticed how the setting sun magnifies the foliage so sky and landscape blend into a blazing fire.

I remember looking out the window in the CCU where my father lay dying and thinking, “It’s a beautiful sunny day. And look at the magnificent colors in the leaves!” When I left the veterinarian’s office the day Malachy died, I didn’t go home. I went to Saddle River County Park where he and I ran so many miles together. I soaked up the natural beauty of the season and cherished my memories. The weekend after Chris’ funeral, my daughter and I went apple picking with some family and friends. Someone took a picture of us hugging at the top of the hill in the orchard. It now hangs in a frame on my bedroom wall. It’s a symbol to me of the continuation of life. I ran a race that weekend too. I always run races in October.

We gather with friends on crisp evenings around the fire pit on the patio. We enjoy hot apple cider and donuts. We plant mums and carve pumpkins, and the leaves in hues of oranges, yellows and browns once again cover the lawn.

The bus roared on…the continuation of life.

For me, October has become a month to mourn those lost; yet be reminded that I am a survivor. With the warmth of sunshine and vibrant fall foliage, I find something to celebrate: the lives once lived and the rest of my life full of Octobers yet to be lived.

img_2426Ramsey, New Jersey. October 2015.

A Big Juicy “No”

A Big Juicy “No”

My fall “goal race” was this past weekend. Newport Half Marathon in Rhode Island. Got to check another state off my “have raced in” list and I achieved my goal. Luckily I set the bar low. The goal was merely to finish.

This is quite a change from where I was Columbus Day weekend last year…in the middle of my pursuit of a Boston Marathon qualifying time. Missing it in Chicago that weekend, I went on to run 2 more marathons in 29 weeks. When I still came up short last May at the NJ Marathon, I vowed to go back there in 2017. I have struggled ever since to get back to a regular training schedule that includes the needed strength training, cross training, and speed work. I just simply haven’t been able to find the time. I have made other things a priority.

Sometimes we have to say no to things that are important to us when we are saying yes to other important things. Sometimes we can’t honor all our values at once or maybe we need to find less time-consuming pursuits through which to honor them at that moment. “Personal Growth” is an important value of mine, which I wrote about a couple weeks ago. I am currently honoring that value by pursuing my Certification as a Professional Co-Active Coach. This is very time consuming when I am also a single parent and a have full-time day job.

I checked in with my sister, Jacqueline, last week to see how her training was going. She will be running the Dublin Marathon – her first – on October 30th. Her response to me was, “Can’t wait! Well to be honest, can’t wait to get it done. This marathon has completely consumed my life. I eat and sleep marathon training.” So glad she reminded me. At that precise moment I made the conscious decision that winter-spring 2017 would not be the right time to train for a BQ goal race. I’m saying a big juicy “No!” to that and saying yes to dedicating my time outside my full-time job to becoming a certified coach and to being with my girl and to running recreationally to simply stay fit and relieve stress. When the time is right, I can revisit other – maybe bigger – goals.

As a coach, I’m learning that creating balance is “about learning to be done rather than trying to always finish and about choosing the experiences we want to have rather than dashing about trying to have all of them.”

The most important thing to realize is that it’s a choice. Every day we make decisions to be where we are, doing what we’re doing. We are never stuck. We can stay doing the same thing that stresses us out or doesn’t energize us or doesn’t fully honor our values. But we have to understand that it’s a choice. Becoming conscious of the fact that it is indeed a choice, can, in itself, be transformative. It might be that simple shift, that change in our perspective, that can lead to transformative growth; even when the choice is to say no.

Saying yes this past weekend to “merely finishing” a half marathon honored my values of “achievement” (it was still a half marathon! and as I said, checked off another state), “determination” (it was raining, and windy, and cold) and “acknowledgement” (did I mention I got a finisher’s medal?). On top of all that, I had a really amazing weekend… 🙂

img_5211Easton’s Beach, Newport, Rhode Island. October 2016.

Remember me

Remember me

This week I simply want to share a poem with you…

Remember Me, by Margaret Mead

To the living, I am gone.
To the sorrowful, I will never return.
To the angry, I was cheated,
But to the happy, I am at peace,
And to the faithful, I have never left.
I cannot be seen, but I can be heard.
So as you stand upon a shore, gazing at a beautiful sea – remember me.
As you look in awe at a mighty forest and its grand majesty – remember me.
As you look upon a flower and admire its simplicity – remember me.
Remember me in your heart, your thoughts, your memories of the times we loved,
the times we cried, the times we fought, the times we laughed.
For if you always think of me, I will never be gone.

IMG_2318Sandy Hook, NJ October 6, 2015