Sunday, November 28, 2010

ELISA- Pronounced "Elizza"

Lovely, yes?  Our gift this Thanksgiving - the following letter I wrote after dinner since it was a surprise she was coming - AND I did not know her until after....... Elisa is from Italy, here just 8 years.  Her accent and Italian style is so heart warming and pure - the letter speaks for itself -

Thanksgiving 2010-

Dear Elisa:

The immense joy began the moment you came through the door with Dolan.  You were a beam of light, a  breath of fresh air, a loving spirit, beautiful energy and a loving presence felt by all. You filled the room in the best of ways.

I am so grateful you came for Thanksgiving dinner. People often ask, - “Is there such a thing as love at first sight?”  I can say, without a doubt that there is because it happened with you.  Your lovely spirit and beautiful sound are like poetry, song and verse blended in harmony.  I love how you speak with your whole self - your body moves in rhythm with your words and expression making being in your presence a total and wonderful experience.  Being in your presence was such a gift to me - there are no words to convey the truth of that completely.  Your appreciation of our home and its meaning meant so much - and I watched as you absorbed our traditions and creative style so lovingly and how well it blended in to you - and how you “fit” so well in to our humble world.  I was overtaken with delight.

You had no idea how much I needed to have YOU here - I didn’t even know it myself until I felt the gentle beauty of your presence filled our home. As you melted over, around and though us I realized that I had sorrow I was hiding and loss I was grieving and pain I was covering and the lovely blanket of pure love you swept over us overpowered all the hurt and covered me with pure and natural joy.  “Thank you”    Your energy and natural intent and loving purpose is like no other I have experienced in a very long, long time.  Hallelujah!

I am so grateful that you are ‘with’ Dolan and that you are loving him.  Knowing that brings me great joy and relief and hope.  It was such a gift to me to have you join us for the Thanksgiving holiday.  What you ‘brought’ just by being you is such a blessing and amongst one of my most treasured gifts this year

Love Gail


Our day was wonderful and bountiful in so many ways.  I hope all of yours was too.  And I am SO happy to tell you all that Elisa is joining us for the extended Christmas celebrations and family traditions. I am so looking forward to her excitement and all that she brings of her loving self.  - and one more thing.  She plays piano - classical piano - I was mesmerized by her talent. She sat, before the keyboard facing the picture window in Dolan's old room, now our music/guest room. The view beyond was lovely, of a deep November day, naked trees and gray-blue sky - and her fingers danced across the keys and the sound filled me, filled the room and I was in heaven.  

I miss them both and I cannot wait until December 23rd when they will be 'home'. Hallelujah........

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Notes Of Thanks

A humble time of gratitude, shared blessings and perhaps silent desires for those not here.  It becomes a blend of great joy, and  truth be told, tears of sadness for those I miss.  More so for those still alive that have lost their way - and cannot find their way home - and especially to you my daughter - I leave the candles on in every window and the light of love in my heart to guide your way home.  

I want to thank each and every one of you for your friendship, love, shared wisdom and truth, kindness, inspiration, hope, family events, both great and small, triumphant and tragic, love of nature and the arts, your gifts and talents, dreams and humor, illness and health,  For all your support of me and appreciation for my truth and life I "THANK YOU" all.  

As you know, I write, 'Why I Am Thankful For You Letters' every year for folks who have Thanksgiving dinner here. I have been doing so since 1992. Originally, I would number the reasons I was thankful for whomever.  That only lasted one year since everyone compared notes as to how many 'reasons' were listed on their note.  Too funny, huh??  :-)

Here are this years.  Just three.  It will be simple, lovely, peaceful, delicious, blessed and filled with gratitude.
Thanksgiving 2010

Here we are - another year of glorious love and honor - understanding, kind support, music, so much laughter, embraces, tears of despair, tears of joy, meals shared with criss-crossed place mats, glasses of wine, oh yes the wine, morning coffee, all the Monday night “YAYS” and all those perfect Tuesdays and Wednesdays anticipated and delighted in.

YOU make my life possible - our life possible.  - “thank you”.....

We got our Gracey Blue this year - she is part of our pack now.
 I continue to be in awe of how you never complain.  It seems I need more help at times and you just go with the flow. I know how hard it is for you to deal with your job, but you do so we can have insurance and security. I feel your strength and deep love all the time Skipp - you are a pillar of hope, strength, love and protection.  I am SO lucky to have you as my husband, my partner, my best friend, my lover and dance partner - the one I share everything with, -  it is always and ONLY you.

If ever two people were destined to live life together it is you and me - I love that you call me every day - 20 times a day - when I hear your voice I still get a lovely shiver and when you say “I love you” I still soar so high and when you look at me and I see the love in your eyes,  I melt.  When we had that fall together and I saw the hurt in your eyes my heart broke in a million pieces.  That one ‘flip’ crystallized so much - the powerlessness I know you feel because you cannot take the MS from me and for me too - to have to surrender to that reality with and for you and for me as well.  It rocked our world, huh?    But we  made it through and beyond and are now stronger for having done so.  We are survivors and more.

I love our life together and our peaceful happy home.  I am so grateful that I have you to share in all of my days. I am comforted and content, safe and protected, loved and nurtured, and saved - ALL because of YOU.  “Thank you” and I love you...
Your girl forever,


Thanksgiving 2010

Dear Dolan-

I am impressed by your commitment to your writing and getting your stories published.  I am thrilled that you seek my critique and opinions of your stories.  That means so very much to me.

I also am in awe of your ‘high status’ and respect in your teaching community.  You teach workshops and have developed ground breaking techniques for the classroom which have and will continue to have a positive impact on the lives of students and teachers alike for years to come.  At such a young age you have created a legacy.

I love that you call me, a lot.  I feel your care and concern in your words and humor and interest.  I am SO thankful that I matter, that I am worth your while and time and that we have a strong,  respectful and loving relationship. It is in the moments we share that I am most often delighted, uplifted, happy and grateful.  Being present with you in any moment is one of my most precious gifts.

As I look over my life and what matters and to whom I matter - YOU are at the top of the list - in the top five. :-).  You provide a balance of thought and opinion like no one else I know - it is both startling and refreshing.  Your clarity and confidence often amaze me - the intensity of your beliefs have overwhelmed me and your intelligent, honest and well informed opinions often empower me. I will tell you that there are times, when I am faced with dilemmas and like that show, “What Would You Do”, I think, “What Would Dolan Do/Say?”  And I am prompted in the best of ways to deal with the situation.  Cool huh? You are wise beyond your years.

I will end with telling you that I am filled with gratitude to have a son like you.  I adore you and believe in you beyond measure - “Thank you” for all that you share with me AND for all that you illicit from me to share with you.  Our ebb and flow is perfect.

I Love you Dolan


Thanksgiving 2010

Dear Mom-

This year certainly has had it’s share of life’s challenges, I am in awe of how brave and strong you are as you faced each one.  Your faith continues to inspire me and give me hope as you turned to your God in moments of total despair and in moments of pure joy.  As you surrendered to harsh realities you found beauty and understanding and gratitude to balance your world.  So often your faith was tested and each and every time, your faith won.

I was privileged to watch you literally come back to life - with laughter and song and appetite and mobility and self care and hopes and dreams - they all re-surfaced like gifts waiting to be opened and appreciated.  You unwrapped each one and began to live fully again.  Oh Mom - like the moth to the butterfly you have emerged - more beautiful than ever - and that sparkle of blue still shining in your eyes.  I truly have witnessed and lived this life-giving miracle that together,  you and God created.  Hallelujah!

I am forever grateful for your seasoned wisdom, unyielding faith, empowering love, and gentle humor.  I love how you love me.  I love and enjoy our daily talks and that somehow, being so close  to you, completes me.  I am forever thankful that you are MY Mom - and that our lives are so lovingly blended in the very best of ways.

I love you Mom, forever, and “thank you”



I was moved to laughter and tears writing these three letters this year.  Each one so purposeful and true.  I hope all of you have family and friends that you could write about.  And please remember to send prayers that my oldest daughter finds her way home.  Thanks.

Love to you all and "Happy Thanksgiving"


Sunday, November 14, 2010

The Gold Coin

The first picture of the gold coin exemplifies, in one humble offering the purpose and meaning of my life's work.  Skipp and I hung on his every word as he approached me and said.  "I have something to give see, I received my ten-year gold recovery coin a few weeks ago.  I shared my story and I told them my recovery began with you - I have a life because of you so I want to give you this coin...." He placed it in my hand and Skipp and I burst in to tears. We all hugged forever.  Over 10 years ago he was one of my first clients when I was the Halfway House Manager and he has been 'clean' ever since and has been a counselor assistant for over seven years.  

The next picture is of the 'group gifts' from my co-workers.  The book is a "Gail's Memories" book that Ashley (whom I/we lovingly call Sophie-Lennon) created and designed.  It is filled with written memories that dozens of my co-workers have of me that they hold dear.  I laughed and cried at each wonderful entry.   The glass globe has butterflies in it which is Rushford's insignia and it has an engraving which reads 

"Gail, for all those to whom you have given a voice we thank you.  Love, your Rushford family"

Next, my beautiful cake and me with my cake.  It was a strawberry short cake.  Delicious.

Then, me and Skipp - He was so emotional, proud and overflowing with and for me.  

 Next, a hug - one of many.

Then, Ashley (Sophie-Lennon) and Tina.  Two of my dearest friends and two of the three party planners. Ashley was once my intern.  

On to Rosann - the other party planner.  She and I go back over 10 years as co-workers and friends. She even gave a speech, a "roast" of sorts.  I was thrilled.

And last, a picture of 'the gathering' - folks having fun.  :-)



Thursday, November 4, 2010


I am so honored that so many of my blog-land friends shared with me about their intent and their affection for me.  I feel so close to so many of you and I needed those affirmations.  "thank you"   :-)  I have been a tad vulnerable lately - October has it's own historical agendas and as much as November is my most favorite month, it too carries it's sorrow. When November arrives I am quieted by the naked trees, the darkened earth and the dried leaves blowing about in the gray wind. I  am inspired to light a fire in the wood stove and simmer hearty soups and stews.  I feel the promise of snow in the air and I hold tight to the quilts and comforters to keep the chill off my body as I curl up on the couch and watch the sky deepen and the naked branches sway-  almost reaching for the leaves that once were attached. I feel safe inside - nothing can harm me in here.  As November 9th draws near I am called to honor two monumental occasions - my Mom's birthday (she will be 87), and my nephew's 'death-day'.  (he was just 32).  The two forces collide every year.  We gather as a family to honor both -  and the power of these life-changing realities often brings us to tears, always to song, and moments of celebration and darker moments of "why".  But together we join - in honor and memory.  This year Skipp and I are making a lasagna and bringing it over to my Sister's/Mom's place.  Her other two sons will be there, and my Jen and Dolan - my Mom, of course, - and also my sister's brother-in-law. As most of you recall, my sister lost her husband of 40+ years, two years ago, come this January, - so having his older brother be with us is quite special.  My sister's sons name is 'Clayton' - he is also my God child.  My Mom's name is 'Louise', or her Italian name is 'Liberata'.   If you can, on November 9th, stop and raise a glass or say a prayer for both of them,  thanks.  :-)

Thanksgiving is my most favorite holiday.  We are already planning our strategy to shop, prepare and serve. My stuffing recipe is, well, amazing - if I do say so myself.  :-) I am getting ready to write my "Why I Am Thankful for You' letters that I write every year for anyone who sits at our Thanksgiving table.  Some years were tough given the variety of characters my daughters were dating at the time.  Oh my!
The rain is pounding down today as I wait for a dear, dear friend to visit.  Seems she, like so many of us, is in transition. I value and appreciate that we are solid - no transitions but rather a firm hold on what is right and good between best friends. What else can I say?  Perhaps only to tell you that I believe  all is as it should be and that each day, every breath and every step taken is a gift - every hug, life giving, every expression of love - a blessing, To all f you I send  hugs and love.