TBT……..”Find Something For Mary To Do”

Given my penchant for living in the past so as to avoid present day chores (LOL)….I began searching through some of my previous posts & came upon this Thanksgiving post from 2012. Therefore, I thought that I would republish the post and offer it as an early TBT (throwback Thursday)!!! It might also serve to explain to any new readers the “dreamcrusher” title which was bestowed upon me years ago and which I try my very best to uphold! :) The post also brought back the painful memory of the 2012 election…how I wish we all knew then what we know now!  (Don’t worry I will refrain from further political comment….I am quite exhausted from explaining my views on FB the past two weeks!).  You might also take note that in the original post I made reference to “making a long story short”…..which coincidentally dovetails with my most recent “Cliff Notes” post of  3,000 “quick” words.  It seems that for me, getting to the heart of the matter, has to go by way of the head, shoulders, knees and toes!!!


I believe I may be in some serious need of a thorough “mind sweep”  (you know, similar to a “mine” sweep which is a vessel used by the Navy to “detect, destroy, remove or neutralize explosive marine mines”.   Following the election, there is admittedly much to be “neutralized, and or, destroyed” in this (some would say) rather “explosive” mind of mine!!!!!  LOL   I am truly grateful, however, that there were so many family members who were texting or calling to check-up on me the day after the election.  And, after a twenty-four hour self-imposed exile from all political news and commentary, I finally replied to them that I had been perched on the edge of the West North Broadway bridge overlooking the dark, dreary, cold Olentangy River when a voice called out to me from the heavens yelling, “No Mare!!!!! Don’t jump!!!!!!…………………just think……………………you now have four more years to torment your family and friends with your political rantings!!!!”  Oh that Crick…………..he is definitely watching over me…………..that thought “made my day” (thank you Crick and Clint)!!!!!!

And so, with renewed determination and the firm belief that…….”in all things, God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called  according to His purpose”  (Romans 8:28)…….. I am confident that, as Aretha Franklin so famously sang………………….. “I Will Survive”!!

turkey bowl
A few of my “dreamcrushed” nieces & nephews at last year’s Turkey Bowl

There is still, however, a burning question (curiously unrelated to politics) remaining in my “explosive” mind and that is, “Where do I go from here??” (note to my children…..do not worry………it is really more of a rhetorical question).  Several days ago, as I was having breakfast at Bob Evans with Christine (thank goodness she and Bobby show up every so often………….keeps the B.E. staff from having to feel too sorry for the old “computer lady”  LOL).  Anyway, the conversation eventually moved from politics to a discussion about life in general and I began sharing with her that I felt as though I am currently at an impasse of sorts regarding my current role on planet earth.  Where am I on my life’s journey?  What is (or, as Josh says “what eeees that”?) the plan?  Perhaps it is a part of my self-declared OCD type personality that I have always, always, always needed, not only order, but structure and routine in my life; and now when I put those “two feet on the floor”, I don’t know exactly where they are supposed to go each day (I guess that is quite obvious from the fact that I tend to show up at my 1/2 day a week job on the wrong day!!!!!! LOL ).  So maybe all of my 20+ year old nieces and nephews could get together with their old “dreamcrusher” Aunt and we could help map out each other’s destinies…………oooooooohhhhhhhhnnnnnnnooooooo………..what am I saying???????  Surely they would plot to recommend me for the cook’s job at Alcatraz preparing that “pot of boiling water” for the inmates !!!!  You know, I do believe I have just stumbled upon the answer to my dilemna……………..I will issue this challenge to all of my “favorite” nieces and nephews……………….Find Something For “Mary” (another name these same nieces/nephews love to call me by) To Do ………………….the one who chooses the best viable path for me will be rewarded with the “most stupid dream” of their choice being hailed as the greatest thing since sliced bread!!!!!!

Leah, Erin & Katie found this magnet for me while on vacation last year!!
Leah, Erin & Katie found this magnet for me while on vacation last year!!

Here is the back story to the family”dreamcrusher” saga.  During the course of raising our four awesome children, I  felt the “need” to temper their enthusiasm for certain aspirations with my own “glass half-empty realism” especially as, once they had graduated from high school, their ambitions (a.k.a.”dreams” ) were mistakenly presented to me for my “approval”.  These ranged from taking on huge debt in order to go away to college,  getting an apartment, buying a car………..to…………going on any manner of  “winter/spring/summer” vacations to California/Ireland/Caribbean/Florida/Las Vegas (financed by????) because “I may never have another opportunity to do this/go there ……… to………….moving to North Carolina to try out for a professional softball team (financed by??????)……..to…….  starting up one’s own daycare facility (financed by??????)……..to……… buying an Edible Arrangement franchise (financed by??????) while holding down a full-time job……..to……. buying a Stork Decor & More franchise while caring for 3 small, young children……….to……….attending nursing school and holding down a part-time job while simultaneously caring for 3 small children……….to………holding down a full-time job while caring for 3 children and attending a Master’s degree program……….to………holding down a full-time job and pursuing the development and implementation of a newly conceived software program to improve efficiency at one’s job!!!!  Are these my kids???!!!!  Apparently the “thinking out of the box” DNA came directly from their Dad (definitely not their Mom).  Although they each experienced a few of “it’s a hard knock life” lessons, they steadfastly continued to pursue their dreams and that persistence has served them all extraordinarily well.  Now, please refer back to paragraph three of this post……….and consider the fact that simply stated my dreams were to………. marry my true love, live in the neighborhood where I grew up, raise thoughtful, caring, compassionate children, live to enjoy grandchildren and continue to grow old somewhat gracefully!!!  Mission accomplished!!!  (Well……..I am obviously still hard at work on that last one LOL!!!)  Granted, there was a lot of stuff going on in between my somewhat simple dreams and the life that often had a way of pulling me in different directions, but still, once I needed to work outside the home, I obstinately remained in the same job for eighteen years!! (my motto, then, as now is …………..”don’t jump out of the frying pan and into the fire”!!)

I guess this is turning into……..the short story……long :)!!!  All the same, I will try to get to the point (I see some eyes rolling!!).  The Clark-side nieces and nephews, while gathered together at various family functions over the years, have similarly spoken of some of their ambitions and “dreams” and I have dutifully provided them with a heavy dose of my ever-present “realism” (is that Crick’s voice I hear whispering “negativism/pessimism/cynicism”???).  Hence, they have also have come to adopt my children’s title for me…… “Dreamcrusher”………….a title, I might add, that I am honored to embrace and uphold!!!!!  I am quite certain that when we all gather at Whetstone Park for the annual Turkey Bowl on Friday, they will be most eager to share many more of their dreams for me to crush!!!  LOL

Speaking of the “Turkey Bowl” ……….it is so hard to believe that Thanksgiving is already upon us.  This is one of those alternate years when our gathering will be about half of what it usually is due to various family members spending time with the in-law side of their families.  Jennifer has bravely offered her home for all of our immediate family as well as Kathy, Bob, Chelsea, Ben, Jo, Tom, Nate and Dylan…..twenty-six in all.  Once again, I have escaped cooking the turkey as I have for forty of the forty-two years of my married life.  This year, I have been called upon to put on my infamous “pot of boiling water” in order to cook the potatoes for the traditional mashed potato casserole.  To further illustrate my renowned cooking/baking talent, I present this recent Facebook post that a very dear friend shared with me after a search through her recipe file revealed this particular “recipe” which I had apparently presented to her on the occasion of her bridal shower twenty years ago:

MM’s Recipe for Baked Tupperware With Melted Chocolate Chip Cookies

  • slave all afternoon in hot kitchen baking several dozen chocolate chip cookies
  • place cookies in $10 tupperware container
  • place tupperware on rack in oven
  • forget all about it for several hours
  • then pre-heat oven to 350 to bake large pan of lasagna
  • invite 2 sisters to dinner
  • leave house to pick up kids at basketball practice
  • stop at store, shop for 1/2 hr
  • return home
  • get prepared lasagna out of refrigerator
  • open oven door and observe tupperware and cookies which should by now be nicely baked to perfection
  • to test for doneness – be sure all tupperware plastic has melted down so that it is dripping from top rack to bottom of oven
  • be sure cookies are all lying in a melted chocolate mess at the bottom of oven.
  • spend the next day and a half cleaning the oven and apologizing to the 2 sisters who thought they were going to be treated to a lasagna dinner!!!!!!!!!!!!

You see, having very limited space in my small kitchen, I would often store (or hide) cookies/cakes/pies in my oven and the forget to remove them when I needed to bake again……………….is it any wonder that I have never earned the title of “Domestic Goddess” ?????? LOL!!!!

As I am always drawn, it seems, to writing about the coincidences between my random thoughts such as, “Where am I on life’s journey?” and God’s  insertion of Himself into that thought process, I must share this reading from my daily devotional chosen from the very same day on which I began to write this post:

As you look at the day before you, you see a twisted, complicated path with branches going off in all directions.  You wonder how you can possibly find your way through that maze.  Then you remember the One who is with you always, holding you by your right hand. You recall My promise to guide you with My counsel, and begin to relax.  As you look again at the path ahead, you notice that a peaceful fog has settled over it, obscuring your view.  You can see only a few steps in front of you, so you turn your attention more fully to Me and begin to enjoy My Presence.

The fog is a protection for you, calling you back into the present moment.  Although I inhabit all of space and time you can communicate with Me only here and now.  Someday the fog will no longer be necessary, for you will have learned to keep your focus on Me and on the path just ahead of you.                               from Jesus Calling

Even so, I stayed in your Presence, you grasped me by the right hand, you will guide me with advice and will draw me in the wake of your glory.                Psalm 73: 23-24    

Upon further reflection of the above meditation, I believe that I should apply the wisdom of our Arthur Murray dance instructor from years ago who had this perfect take on Crick and me…….. having spent some time observing our respective dance styles, he said quietly to me, “You are always trying to lead!” and to Crick he said, “You never move from your spot!”   I vow to strive for more patience and to let God lead me on whatever path my next journey takes!!!!! :)

A few final TBT thoughts:

Note to nieces and nephews……it is now three years later and I am still waking up, “putting two feet on the floor” and while I still do not know where those two feet are supposed to take me,  Mary always, always, always seems to find something to do!!

And, as I approach Thanksgiving with a heart overflowing with God’s many blessings, I think of Crick and how he used to gently admonish me with his glass half-full philosophy and how often I would silently rail against it.  Sometimes, in my stubborn mind, life just didn’t seem fair or just.  Over many years, I have learned how ironic life is…..”it takes sadness to know what happiness is, noise to appreciate silence and absence to value presence”.   Each challenge, obstacle and sorrow in my life has strengthened and empowered me to live more as Crick did…….wanting less, worrying less…..leaving me free to love more and to be at peace.  (my apologies to Crick for being such a slow learner!!  LOL)

Happy Thanksgiving and may your day be full of “all things bright and beautiful“!!!!!


Diaryofanut…..the Cliff Notes

cliff notesCharacters List:  MM(a.k.a. diaryofanut blogger), Stephanie, Olivia, Sam, Ryan, Tommy, Luke, Josh, Mayce, Joy, Judy, Rayne, Peggy, Christine, Kathy, Carole, Jo, Cecilia.

Summary:  Making a long story shorter proved to be a monumental task for the diaryofanut blogger.  Faced with countless stories of travel, inclement weather, soccer and volleyball games, birthdays, a bridal shower and a new baby (not in that order and……two different nieces…..ha, ha, ha), TGIFridays, “Ryan” Thursdays, mishaps and comedy…….there was just so little time and so little brain power that the diaryofanut blogger succumbed to……………Cliff Notes!!! The reader will therefore, be spared, as perhaps he/she once was many years ago during literature class, the agonizing trial of perusing over layers of  seemingly insignificant details in order to arrive at the key points.  Pictures have been included for those who choose to really cut to the chase LOL……oh, and BTW you will find captions to the photos if you hover your cursor over the pics and clicking on the pics will enlarge them!!

Chapter 1:


September brought a celebration of birthdays galore……Josh and Mayce turned five, Ryan turned two and the diaryofanut blogger turned………well………let’s just say she ain’t what she used to be!!!!   I must say that it is quite a coincidence that my last three grandchildren were all born in the month and week leading up to my birthday!  How lucky am I to be able to share all of their birthday joy with them, not to mention the cake and ice cream too!!

Chapter 2:

Toward the end of September Kathy, Cecilia, Jo, Carole, Christine and I headed to what we thought would be a week of sun and sand.  What we got was something entirely opposite………clouds and rain!!  Apparently a similar low pressure system that hovered over Ohio most of June chose to hover over North Carolina the month of September.  Prior to our arrival at the beach in North Topsail, they had already experienced over a week of drenching rain, then the low pressure system coupled with the blood moon created dangerously high tides which, as the picture above shows, eroded much of the beach which the locals told us had just been replenished last year.  We counted ourselves lucky to eek out almost two full days of sun mid-week, but by Thursday, the local weather reports were predicting more exceptionally heavy downpours.  And so it was that Friday morning we decided to check in with the N.C. State Highway Patrol who advised us to head home as coastal flooding might make some of the outgoing roads impassable.  All in all, I must say that it was a most eventful week as we mid-westerners were able to experience both the awesome fury (remember…..”It’s not nice to fool Mother Nature!) and the wondrous beauty of God’s creation.  We witnessed white-capped ocean waves that stretched all the out to the horizon and when the high tides came, they slammed against the dunes and the walkways, destroying many of the steps thereby making many unusable for the week.  As we walked the beach during the brief respite from the rain, we actually saw what we declared must be the “stairway to nowhere”…….for suspended high above the dunes was a walkway where the tide had taken out the lower half of the stairs leaving only a few steps suspended in mid-air.  Fortunately for us the weather miraculously cleared just in time for the rare “blood” moon appearance.  The picture above can not do justice to this amazing phenomenon.  The house in which we were staying had a telescope and some binoculars which brought our experience up close and in person.  I kept thinking all the while that night about how excited Crick would have been to be on the deck with us peering through the telescope, feeding us bits and pieces of his extraordinary knowledge of the stars and the planets.

Chapter 3:

Four days after having returned from North Carolina, I jumped back into the car and headed once again to the Tar Heel state…..this time for a little get-away in the Blue Ridge Mountains with the Schultheis sisters.   What  a ruckus we caused upon our arrival (well…..okay……that would me “I” not “we”!!).  The house we rented was situated at what (to us) could have been the top of the mountain, but was actually the bottom of the mountain and had a key-less entry.  I made sure to have my email handy which contained the key-code so that we would be all set to gain entry into the house.  Once the door was safely opened, I closed out of the email and started to bring in my luggage.  Suddenly the security alarm began sounding (you know the sound of the prison alarm when an inmate escapes????  that was the sound!!!!!!) and Joy, who was standing near the alarm box, was anxiously waiting for me to provide her with the code to deactivate the alarm…..at the same time reminding me that we only had a minute or two to shut it off before the “big guys” would arrive.  Of course, the code was in the email which I had just closed out of, and not being known for keeping my cool while under pressure, it took me a few minutes to search my emails for the one which contained the security deactivation code.  Needless to say, it wasn’t long before the sheriff’s posse showed up, quickly apprised our predicament and instinctively seemed to know that they were just sent out to deal with a group of “dingbats”……..okay, okay…….so there was really only one “dingbat” (Crick had many such nicknames for TGW!).  Obviously, they were kind enough to pose for the above photo-op with a few of us and to also provide us with some much appreciated advice on how to keep the bears away!!  During our stay in Asheville we visited the Biltmore Estates…an extraordinary display of history and an educational look back at the ingenuity, the vision, the craftsmanship, the labor of one very wealthy man and his very talented architects.  Vacationing in the Blue Ridge Mountains was not on my “bucket list”, but I would definitely recommend adding it to yours.

Chapter 4:

I.C. kindergarten at recess
I.C. kindergarten at recess

A summary of this chapter discloses the more predictable day-to-day situations in which the “diaryofanut” often finds herself immersed.  For example, usually when I am a coming out of church on a weekday morning, the school kids can be seen enjoying their morning recess.  One particular morning I noticed a very small young boy sitting on one of the benches with his head bowed down, and sitting near him was another little guy and a small girl.  There seemed to be a conversation going on, but the one boy with the bowed head appeared to be rather upset.  Within a moment or so of watching this, I observed a small group of students (see photo above) cautiously approach the bench and before long, they all appeared to be expressing some concern over the one who looked to be so inconsolable.  It seemed to me as if they were attempting to give advice or to encourage him to join in their play when suddenly the bell rang, signalling the end of recess.  As they broke away to line up with their respective classmates, I noticed that they all appeared to be heading toward the line of the youngest students, the kindergarten.  I thought to myself…..what a touching display of Christian charity so innocently and considerately given by the youngest among us.  Oh, and by the way, to all of you Moms and Dads who so confidently send your children off to school wearing their jackets and hats in this cooler weather…..I can assure you that by the time recess rolls around all of that warm gear has been rebelliously abandoned LOL!!  Just sayin’!

Chapter 5:

Now that the school year is well under way, the TGIFriday grand-kids have returned.  I recently purchased a new basketball backboard and hoop which Christopher mounted to the garage so that the future NBA wannabe’s (don’t you worry….this “dreamcrusher” Nana has already given the grand-kids a good dose of “crush”).  And please don’t feel too sorry for them…..they have been giving it right back  as they offer up some pretty harsh critique of my awesome (NOT) jump shot!!  LOL  The TGIFridays have also been learning the fine rules and the skills of the game of croquet, a game played many times, and many years ago, in the backyards of the homes on Oakland Park.  I was only to happy to share with them the best part of the game…..”blackballing” an opponent!  I took great pleasure in instructing them how to  go after an opponent by intentionally hitting the opponent’s ball giving them the option of placing their ball next to their opponent’s, putting their foot on the top of their ball and whacking the ball as hard as they can with the mallet, hopefully sending the opponent’s ball soaring across the yard!  (FYI this did prove to be a bit tricky as the grand-kids quickly learned that their foot can also come in contact with the mallet!!……ouch!!).  Ryan has also recently joined the ranks of Nana’s protege.  In helping Jennifer and Jim out with childcare this school year,  I have acquired a “Thursday” child in Ryan, who has become a regular Thursday churchgoing buddy of mine, having learned to bless himself with the holy water, to genuflect and to light vigil candles!!   Hey….making the NBA is definitely out of reach, better to guide at least one of them toward the Pontificate!!!  Ha, ha, ha!!!  He really is a very compliant child and has learned as his Papa eventually did that life is much easier when you just let Nana call the shots……..otherwise……..well, you know “Main Street” happens!!!

Chapter 6:

Mayce and Josh....always willing to be Nana's little helpers
Mayce and Josh….always willing to be Nana’s little helpers

And then there are the “dynamic duo” of Mayce and Josh, with whom I am granted impromptu childcare privileges :).  I have discovered that they are very working oriented and so I decided to tap into that mindset one day while they were hanging out with me.  I was busy cleaning the house and they wanted to know what they could do to help.  As I was mopping the floor, I suspected that what they really wanted was to somehow be involved with the bucket of water, and so I found two old toothbrushes and told them that they could help me clean the grout and then work on the wainscoting.  They had a great time……..I got my work done……mission accomplished!!!

Chapter 7:

Olivia and Sam.....my how time flies!!
Olivia and Sam…..my how time flies!!

Olivia and Sam have retained part-time membership in the TGIFriday grand-kids’ club while they are busy pursuing their high school education at Crick’s and my alma mater, Bishop Watterson.  A few weeks ago, they both went to homecoming, an event which Watterson neglected to incorporate into its football season “way” back in the 60’s (BTW….the Eagles made it into the second round of the Ohio high school football playoffs).  My how time flies and how times change and how grateful I am to be witnessing this 3rd generation of the Clark/Schultheis families as Watterson Eagles!!

Chapter 8:

Caution.....dlrectionally challenged lady golfers ahead
Caution…..directionally challenged lady golfers ahead

What doesn’t change however, is the directionally challenged DNA of a few of the Clark family female descendants.  To further explain this legacy, one only has to have been a fly on the golf carts of Christine, Stephanie and “Moi” on a Wednesday morning in early October.  We had just finished the third  hole and as everyone was playing pretty well, we were feeling unusually confident.  BIG MISTAKE!!!  When we reached the fourth hole, we checked out the distance to the green (you know, just like everyday golfers do so that they can judge which club they want to use!), and I remember commenting that the distance from tee to green did not seem to match what was on the scorecard.  Of course, not having questioning minds and being mathematically challenged, we blew off this discrepancy, teed off, reached the green and putted out.  On to the fifth hole…………or so we thought.  As we got back into our golf carts, we noticed a few cart paths going in different directions and a couple of signs indicating the ninth and twelfth holes, however we could not see the sign with the arrow pointing us to the fifth hole!!  Puzzled and not knowing which cart path to follow, I spied a young man hard at work aerating one of the nearby greens and decided to ask him who stole the fifth hole!!!  Upon hearing my question, he broke out into this huge grin, asked us what green we had just played and when we pointed it out to him, he broke into this exuberant laugh all the while explaining to us that the hole we had just finished playing was the eighth!!!  Now I have to tell you that to this day, I do not understand how we skipped from the fourth green to the eighth tee, but I know it has something to do with some golf course architect who just wanted to play mind games with a few scatterbrained females LOL!!  In the picture above, if you zoom in you might just see ahead of the golf cart a John Deer-like machine leading the way for us….over the cart paths, across a grouping of trees, through the rough, past a few sand traps, over a couple of fairways and leading us right up to the elusive fifth hole!!!  I only wish I knew how he described this incident to his greenskeeper buddies!!  It is a good thing that the three of us do not take our golf games too seriously!!

Chapter 9:


I am making use of this most cherished Mickey Mantle baseball card, thoughtfully purchased for me by my brother, Tommy (a die-hard Dodger fan), to illustrate a point made in a recent homily given by our parish’s deacon.  As has been mentioned in previous posts, Deacon Campbell, or Bud as our family knows him, has been a friend of many years and whenever Bud speaks at church…….people listen!!  In his homily, Bud was explaining the meaning behind the readings of the day, one of which was the Gospel of St. Mark 10:35-45.  This scriptural passage touched on the subject of ambition.  James and John, thinking that Jesus was going to set up a political kingdom to overthrow the Roman rulers, asked for assurances from Jesus that he would make them first and second-in-command of his messianic rule.  Jesus then called all of the disciples together to explain once again to them that greatness comes not from what we have, nor is it in what we can get from others, but in what we can give to others.  True greatness Jesus tells them consists in loving,  humble and sacrificial service…..service means putting our gifts at the disposal of others.  Rather than promoting our own honor and glory, we must put ourselves in the humble and demanding role of becoming a servant to others, to intentionally seek the happiness and fulfillment of those we love regardless of the cost to ourselves.  With regard to the act of humbling ourselves before others, especially our leaders, Bud gave the example of the athletes of today who feel the need to excessively celebrate their own accomplishments when they do one good thing even resorting to mocking their opponents.  He then recalled a story he had heard about Mickey Mantle.  (I was sitting next to Joe and Luke, who immediately threw a smiling look my way!!!).  It seems that after hitting a home run (of which he hit many….wink, wink!!) Mickey had a habit of keeping his head down as he ran around tagging all of the bases.   A curious  reporter once asked him why it was that he always kept his head down and  Mickey’s response was that he felt that the pitcher felt bad enough that he had just given up a home run, and Mickey didn’t feel the need to rub it in his face.  Thank you Bud, for sharing this small yet shining example of what we are all called to be……humble servants of our God.  (and also for reaffirming my childhood hero!)

Well……there you have it…..the “Diaryofanut” Cliff Notes.  I will accept your grateful sighs of relief that these 2,792 words really and truly spared you the full-blown version of the life of this nut.  And trust me 2, 792 words are far easier on the mind than 2, 792 pages!!!

I will sign off with one final thought from C.S. Lewis:

Humility is not thinking less of yourself, it’s thinking of yourself less.





A Remembrance Salute to Papa

A soldier’s salute in memory of Crick

With each passing year since Crick’s death,  I am realizing that missing him is becoming one of the most normal things that I do.  I don’t mean that to be taken in a morbid or depressing sense at all, for to me, missing him reminds me that our love was/is real and eternal.  Today while at Adoration I felt the need to listen to something spiritual to help me to center my focus on being in the Presence of the Eucharist, and so I put in my earbuds and began listening to my Catholic radio station app.  The program that was featured curiously enough, was Father John Riccardo speaking on the subject of  death, grief and hope.   Of the many inspiring and comforting messages that he presented, the one that I found most comforting was his reminder that our deceased loved ones are continually present to us…..they watch over us, they see us, they see our struggles, and they pray for us until we too are reunited with them.  At the end of the post I will provide a link to the talk for anyone who has struggled with the loss of a loved one and is searching for meaning and hope.

As has been the case for the past couple of years, I am re posting this special remembrance on this fourth anniversary of Crick’s death.

“The life given us by nature is short, but the memory of a life well spent is eternal.” Cicero

Over the course of the past few days, I have been deeply touched by the comforting gestures and messages of remembrance from friends and relatives as our family paused to remember the third anniversary of Crick’s death.  It speaks volumes about how one “glass half-full” life has touched so many.  Not long ago, I removed a large yellow bag from a closet containing hundreds of handmade cards which were presented to Crick upon his retirement, again during his cancer treatment, and yet again following his death, from the students at Glacier Ridge Elementary where Crick had been a custodian since his return from Kosovo in 2005.  I had not looked at them for some time, and as I reached into the bag and began pulling a few out to re-read, I was struck anew by the simplistic poignancy and heartfelt emotion from these six to eleven year old children whom Crick had befriended.  I smiled as I saw note after note adorned with the mints like the ones that Crick kept in his pockets to hand out to the kids as he passed by them in the hallways or as he said goodbye as he watched them get onto their respective buses.  Because Crick worked the afternoon and evening shift, he developed a special bond with the latchkey kids whom he saw more frequently. He delighted in playing little pranks on them and they happily reciprocated by hiding his keys or dropping something on a floor he had just recently swept.  Crick was, as Aunt Judy described him so aptly……a “kid’s kid”……he could relate to kids because he instinctively knew how to come down to their level (I am seriously biting my tongue to hold back from commenting on that!!!  LOL).  In order to help you to appreciate the friendship the GRE kids and Crick shared, I have selected a handful of their lovingly crafted “Mr. Jim” notes and have showcased them in the following video:

In the hope of keeping Crick’s memory alive in the hearts of all those who loved him, I am also sharing a portion of last year’s post which contained these insightful and touching reflections from our family and friends who shared them with us via the CaringBridge guest book:

Jim is a remarkable man who brought a smile to my face and always brought smiles to the faces of the children at Glacier Ridge Elementary. He has touched my heart just like he does with everyone he meets.

I once thought “Crick could turn a turnip into an apple.”

60th birthday
60th birthday

The first two years I thought Crick was crazy.  I just wasn’t used to him and the way he was always goofing off and pushing everyone’s buttons.  Over the years I have come to consider him a really good friend and more like a brother than a father-in-law.  What I have realized the last few years is that he always did understand me.  We could talk and nothing was ever forced, it was always real and he always listened when I needed him to.  He would always take my side when the women would gang up on us, and of course, we would instigate everything.

He is a man’s man.  Well, he has not only championed that sentiment, but has done one BETTER………he is a kid’s kid!

Crick & grandkids & parachute
Always in the middle of the Grandkids’ play

I remember when Crick took us outside one winter to build, not just a typical snowman, but our very own igloo!!  We built it so big it lasted until almost spring!  He also helped me to buy my very first car, it was a stick shift and he helped me learn how to drive it and, after many hours of practice, he suggested that we take the car for a test drive up Cooke Rd. to see if I could handle it on a hill.  Well…..I couldn’t make it up the first hill and we kept drifting backwards toward the car behind us.  Finally, Crick put his foot over mine on the accelerator and away we went.  I think his exact words to me were, “Well, you can always sell this car to someone else!”.  He would always beg me to walk on his back and promise to give me all of the change in his pocket.  Boy, was I naive, thinking I was going to make a lot of money.  But……..he did teach me the value of a quarter!!!  Over the years, Crick would put a lot on his back for our family.

Crick was fortunate to have many of his teenage family and friends as his employees during his management days at Friendly’s (or I should say, we were lucky enough to have him employ us!).  As a freshman in college, Crick gave me the confidence to become a supervisor and while I didn’t believe that I could handle the responsibility, he put me right out there and trusted that I could!  He saw a potential in me at that age that I had didn’t even know existed.  When we were younger he would take all of us kids hiking during our “Clark cabin trips” and using his army “skills” would take us on quite an adventure down some incredible hills.  He would also hand out to us his army rations to sample…………yuk!!

Getting ready to “feed” the fish!!

I started thinking about how long I have known Crick…………it has been basically my whole life!!  I remember sitting in our living room on Oakland Park and talking into a reel to reel tape recorder to say “hi” to him when he was stationed in Korea and then he would send the tape back to us so that we could hear his voice.  I remember Mom making me clean the basement before his wedding to MM in order to display all of the priceless wedding gifts (wonder if they have any left!).   Funny to think now, that I was one of the altar servers at their wedding!!  Crick was also there for Jimmy……there was the day that Jimmy was hiding in the bushes in front of our house and Crick went out to gently remind Jimmy that he was at home and not back in Viet Nam.  Who else but a veteran like Crick could have known what Jimmy was going through. Crick was also there when I was going to enlist in the Army Reserves and he was going to make sure that I ended up in his unit so that he could watch over me………..he even went to the commander to make sure this would happen.  For some reason I never did enlist, but I always knew that Crick was going to be there for me.  Crick has been and always will be one of my brothers!!

I developed a friendship with “Mr. Jim” at Glacier Ridge Elementary.  Our relationship was always  of a fun nature!  I tutored students after school and of course, Jim made us regular visits.   In return, we would pull his vacuum cleaner plug, toss candy wrappers on his tidied floor and turn lights out, to name a few of the things we did to get him to react.  Jim and I quickly became friends and always had fun with our antics.  Yet, we could also have wonderful discussions on life.  He became a real friend to me as we both shared in common the closeness of our own families.  Jim will be missed by more people that we can fathom and I know that Jim will be meeting my Mom in heaven and making her laugh like he always made me!

Crick drew kids to him wherever he went....even to Korea and Kosovo
Crick drew kids to him wherever he went….even to Korea and Kosovo

It seems like a long time ago that Crick and I were standing on the field at St. Michael’s in our wildly unprotective football gear……paper thin shoulder pads, helmets with no face guards or chin straps, and for me,…………fearing the fact that I would have to tackle his older brother, John as he came blasting through the line.  Life seems to warp into hyper-speed as we grow older.  I must say that although Crick and I were never terribly close growing up, I have fond memories of him: caddying with him at York Temple, the fact that he seemed to instinctively know how car engines worked, and how he always exuded this sort of Gary Cooper type…….tall, dependable, good-hearted vibe, even as a kid.  And if his presence is still felt by someone as distant as I am to him, I can only imagine what his presence means to all of those who are truly close to him.  It speaks volumes about how Crick has journeyed through this life.

You were loved….you are loved……you will always, always, always be loved.

As the anniversary date falls on the Feast of All Souls, I would like to offer this reflection from the book of Wisdom 3:1-9 which was read at Mass:

But the souls of the upright are in the hands of God and no torment can touch them.  To the unenlightened, they appeared to die, their departure was regarded as disaster, their leaving us like annihilation; but they are at peace.  If, as it seemed to us, they suffered punishment, their hope was rich with immortality; slight was their correction, great will their blessings be.  God was putting them to the test and has proved them worthy to be with Him……Those who trust in Him will understand the truth, those who are faithful will live with Him in love; for grace and mercy await His holy ones, and He intervenes on behalf of His chosen.

And so it is, that our family drinks of the “glass half-full”, each morning, “putting two feet on the floor” and being ever grateful for all of God’s many, many blessings.

Message to Crick…………………….while God has you in His keeping, be assured that your family has you in their hearts…………………..Always, Always, Always :)

In Memory Video: