Most days I am charged up to write. I feel the buzz. Yet, like everything else in life, there are days when I have difficulties. It’s is okay because I know I will figure it out. I am positive. I compare myself to the little engine who could. I always tell myself when I am struggling, “I know I can. I know I can.” A positive attitude and spirited resolve dictate my actions. These qualities were not given to me. They were developed.
THE FIRST 18 YEARS OF MY LIFE: ‘THE TOWN, MY MOTHER, MY FATHER, MY GRANDFATHER’
I often write about Kankakee by the Sea, the town where I grew up. I spent the first 18 years of my life in this little town. I gave the town a romantic name because the personality of the town required me to develop skills and attitudes that would carry me successfully through the challenges I would face later in my life. I acquired out of necessity a powerful resolve and positivity that made me capable of landing on my feet.
During those formative years, I lived with a very curious mother and a father who took the high road and lastly a grandfather who told me to see the world. When I left for college and said my good-byes to Kankakee by the Sea and my family, I was prepared for my next journey with resolve, wanderlust, and curiosity. I had learned the importance of taking the high road and practicing positivity.
In college, I learned how to think. I did not love college. I pledged to the sorority of my choice and was happy until I went to a ‘hash’ session where the older sorority girls hashed over the new girls who wanted to join the sorority. I remember as though it was yesterday sitting on the floor, an eighteen- year old, knitting and listening to each new girl, who wanted to join, being hashed over by my older sorority sisters.
A new friend of mine went through rush and was turned down by my sisters. I put down my knitting and told my older sorority sisters that I knew this girl and I thought she would be a great asset to our house. There was utter silence. Total stares were directed toward me. Afterwards, I called my mom. She told me I was right. “Now you are learning how to think and value your thoughts.” I will never forget those words. They have boded me well over the years.
MARRIAGE, CHILDREN AND ONE OF THE BIGGEST MISTAKES OF MY LIFE
I met my late husband on a blind date over a Christmas vacation in Miami Beach, Florida. I was eighteen years old. We had two children. We lived for a short time after we were married in Madison, Wisconsin while I continued college. My first child was born there. The biggest decision of our young married life came shortly after. We decided to move. But where? My husband had two opportunities. He could work in my father’s company or work for a private insurance company in Chicago.
My mother, selfishly wanted us to return to Kankakee by the Sea. She wanted me back. I did not want to return under any condition. My husband’s father and my mother fought against the Chicago move. We moved back to Kankakee by the Sea and I regretted that decision every day of my life until we moved to Honolulu, Hawaii. My mistake was costly but positive. I promised myself that from now on I would be the ‘mistress’ of my own fate. I was to learn later another lesson… committed love can overrule what you know is best for you.
A MOVE TO THE HAWAIIN ISLANDS AND THE DEATH OF A SPOUSE
My late thirties and forties had the happiest high hills and the saddest low valley. My hills were the best of my life thus far and the valley was the worst of the worst. Hills and valleys breed a new found maturity. During the next ten years, I became a mature woman. Moving across the United States and living on an Island in the middle of the Pacific Ocean took resolve and a curious nature. I was excited and ready for this next phase of life.
Nine years later the impossible happened. My husband died suddenly of a massive heart attack. I was in my forties. I was in shock. I had never lost a loved one. I survived because I made a wise decision. I would spend a year alone with my children and mourn my loss and listen to my feelings and not suppress my grief. At the end of one year, not totally healed, I left the Island I loved, the taste of the salt in the air from the Sea I respected and adored, the beauty of orchid plants and dear friends and an Island lifestyle. I will miss for the rest of my life. I was different. My loss taught me the importance of spending time alone and appreciating the silence of the day and night.
CHICAGO, A NEW HUSBAND, A WHIRLWIND LIFE AND GRATITUDE
I married my ultimate concierge not long after I moved back to my beautiful Chicago. My cup ‘runneth over.’ I can only describe the next ten years as perfect. Love and excitement filled the air. There was never a dull moment. The world was my oyster.
And then, the eleventh year, the bombs started falling all around me. The suicide of my husband’s son, a terrible automobile accident, Cancer and on and on. Our trials would not stop. But, neither would our love, our positivity and our resolve. Love and gratitude; the quality of being thankful and the readiness to show appreciation conquers all. My cup is full. I am ready for the next chapter in my life; a chapter you will learn about soon. I hope you are curious. 🙂