Diaries of The Breadman’s Daughter: I Saw God in Church.

Dressed in head-to-toe Communion white and looking so pious with bible in hand.

I’m a sporadic churchgoer these days. There were times throughout my life when I was a faithful attendee.  The Old Man, Ma and I used to go every Sunday. I was baptized and took communion.  I read Bible verses and some chapters.  But never the entire thing.  Not enough grey matter between the ears to keep track of everyone and everything. Especially all the goings-on in the Old testament.  So many begats and battles. Bloodshed and betrayals. Miracles and meyhem. Famines and bad things happening to firstborns. So complicated and confusing.

But the New Testament is a whole other story.  While it contains its share of death, denial and despair, there is also hope and love and kindness and compassion. Sacrifice and forgiveness. Yes indeed, the New Book is chock-a-block full of precious and useful life lessons regardless of your faith or personal beliefs.  Who could deny that loving one another is the ultimate purpose of all humans no matter where on earth they call home.

My favorite stories are the ones about Jesus, in particular, the Nativity and the night he was born.  I also really enjoy a good old fashioned Christmas pageant.  Especially ones enacted by earnest five year-olds. I never grow tired of such performances.

When I turned eighteen, and for the twenty odd years that followed, I went in hot pursuit of God.  My spiritual excavations took me far and wide on my interior journey.  I looked under every rock.  Behind every locked door.  Inside a plethora of books and passages.  I sought the holy, the evolved, the gurus, the teachers, mentors, ministers, the religious, the spiritual, the wise, the dedicated, the sacred, the masters, saints and the venerated.  It was an incredible journey of wonder and awe.  It both grounded me and threw me off balance.  It gave me confidence and brought me to my knees.  I was exalted.  And humbled.  But mostly grateful.

The family gathered after the Communion for Sunday dinner. The Old Man and I had already changed into more comfortable clothes for this photo. Ma in her apron over her Sunday dress.

At that journey’s end, I found myself in a little church in the countryside.  It was a familiar place.  It felt like coming home. It reminded me of the little Lutheran Church where The Old Man, Ma and I shared a pew.  It wasn’t perfect.  It didn’t satisfy all of my spiritual needs.  Nor did it fill my hunger completely, nor answer my endless questions.  But it was a place to dwell, to sit quietly and learn. To witness and rub shoulders with fellow seekers on this bumpy, often terrifying, road.

It was there that this happened.

I saw God in church. It wasn’t at all what I expected it would be.  It was such a quiet whisper of a moment.  Manifested in a simple expression of love between an elderly husband and his fragile wife.  I don’t think either of them noticed that something so incredibly extraordinary was taking place.  But I did.  The providential witness.

The congregation was about to sing another hymn. Everyone was seated and looking to the Music Team Leader for direction.  He asked us all to stand and sing our praises.  Obediently, all the adults in the church stood, except for one.

Ma and The Old Man on the steps of 204. One of the last photos together.

He stood with confident ease.  Thin and stoop shouldered.  Yet strong.  In conviction and constitution.  She made a feeble attempt to rise. Her heart was willing. A formidable match for his on any given Sunday.  But her tired, frail body was uncooperative.

Without skipping a beat, he reached for her arm and gently helped her to her feet.  There they stood.  Side by side.  Singing with hearts wide open with love and devotion.  As it had always been.  Now and forever.

The tenderness of this ordinary, natural and unassuming gesture touched me in ways that were more profound than any sermon or hymn or prayer.  I was overwhelmed by the presence of God.  Just two rows up.

There it was.  In a flash.  An instant.  Grace.  Sweet, kind, patient, loving and humanly divine.

Diaries of The Breadman’s Daughter: I Love To Do Lists.

I knew one day I’d start a list. In the meantime I stood in front of windows and smiled.

I love To Do lists.  They keep me organized.  Help me to remember.  Remind me of what’s important.  They keep things orderly. Sweet and simple.  Neat and tidy. I love the symmetry these lists bring to my life.  Balance.  Ease.

I’ve always been a compulsive list maker.  As I age my appreciation for this practice has grown exponentially.

There is this list that I have been compiling in my book of “boo’s to do’s for today” that just keeps growing.  It appears to be never-ending. And for this I am grateful. These are the eternal things. The timeless. The constants in my life.  And the infinite. The daily reminders of how good life is.  How lucky I am to have been born in the time and place that is now, to the parents who raised me with love, to the children I have done the same, to the family and friends who I have been blessed to have walked the earth with, for their presence and presents.  For grace and forgiveness. For hope. For faith in us all to create a better, kinder, gentler place.

It’s all a wide-eyed wonder to me.  It’s humbling. I am thankful every day that I am here now with you. And you. And you.

So this is the ever-growing list of Boo’s To Do’s for Today.

The cover of my book of to do’s. It’s nice.

Today I will:
Thank God for my human being-ness
Be curious but not nosey
Be helpful but not pushy
Be funny but not hurtful for the sake of a joke
Be a dreamer but keep my feet on the ground
Be happy but not at someone else’s expense
Be honest but not brutal
Be smart but not a pompous know-it-all
Be supportive but not a door mat
Be a seeker but look for Light not darkness
Be God-minded but not God

Today I will:
Thank God for the little things in my life
Kiss my husband good morning
Tell my kids that I love them always, forever and a day
Eat mostly healthy stuff today
Eat chocolate, devour the entire bar
Smile at strangers, even the scary ones
Be helpful and kind and generous
Laugh at myself
Practice patience with everyone but especially the very old and the very young
Say my prayers and let go of the day

Today I will:
Thank God for a new perspective
See people in a different light
Recognize the truth
Appreciate an opposing opinion
Give everyone the benefit of the doubt
Understand that there are other sides to the story
Look for a new perspective in an old place
Offer grace so I can also receive it
Read between the lines and hear the words not spoken
Say my prayers and settle into the quiet

I like the red ribbon and yellow sticky note.

Today I will:
Thank God for the playful
Play it as it lays and learn acceptance
Play for keeps with those who matter
Play for real with everyone
Play around and square and mix it up
Play full with all I’ve got
Play games that are fun not hurtful
Play back again and again, especially if it’s good
Replay and repeat tomorrow
Say my prayers and sleep lighthearted

Today I will:
Thank God for all the wonders of Nature
Chase double rainbows across the sky
Sing with wild abandon in the rain
Blow free like a leaf in the wind
Spread my wings and fly
Soak up the sun and catch some rays
Dig in the dirt and get mud on my face
Soar with the eagles
Set the world on fire
Reach for the stars and make three wishes
Howl crazy at the moon
Say my prayers and drift into the waters of heaven

Today I will:
Thank God for this new day of simple things
Forgive everyone, even those I don’t want to
Do yoga and be grateful that my body still moves
Eat an apple, possibly an orange, but not a banana
Paint my toenails red and smile at my feet
Take my dogs for a walk
Drink water right out of the tap
Be polite and mannerly, please and thanks
Listen better to everyone but especially to the very old and the very young
Say my prayers and plump my pillow

Thank God for all the wonders of nature.

Today I will:
Thank God for the givers
Give a helping hand
Give advice only when asked
Give away the good things I no longer want, need or wear
Give to a charity besides the usual ones
Give love even to the unlovable
Give someone a surprise gift for no reason, just because
Give others the benefit of the doubt
Give of myself even when I’m tired and don’t feel like it
Give someone else the credit and the glory
Say my prayers and give thanks

Today I will:
Thank God for the journey through this day
Applaud the achievements of others
Eat more red foods
Be respectful and considerate of others
Play my guitar even when it sounds painful
Be honest, starting with myself
Bake chocolate chocolate chip cookies, then pig out
Sit quietly and breathe easy
Take the long way home and enjoy the trip
Say my prayers and drift into dreamland

Today I will:
Thank God for healing
Mend all bridges in my life that are broken
Sew buttons on tattered open wounds
Stitch time that has been squandered
Mend a broken heart
Seam together a fragile friendship
Repair all hurt caused by my good intentions
Fix things that can be fixed and bless what cannot
Patch the worn and the weary with love and kindness
Say my prayers and hug my love

Today I will:
Thank God for countless things in my life
Count my blessings
Count the red smarties in the box
Count the steps from the couch to the fridge
Count my friends who count
Count the birds at the feeder
Count the calories in the chocolate cake then eat it any way
Count the purple tulips in my garden
Count the number of sleeps until my summer holidays
Say my prayers and count sheep

Thank God for the Makers.

Today I will:
Thank God for all my senses: the first five, the sixth, common and Spidey
See the beauty in all things, even the unusual
Listen with an open heart to hear the unspoken
Breathe in all that is around me, especially the smells of nature and of the kitchen
Touch someone in need of a gentle hand
Taste the sweetness in life not the bitter
Trust my inner voice when in doubt
Remember the sound and reasonable advise of my mother
Pay attention to the goose bumps
Say my prayers and welcome a sense of peace

Today I will:
Thank God for the lazy days
Take it slow and easy
Relax and chill with a cup of green tea
Read a gossip mag from cover to cover while watching my fav soap opera
Eat a bag of Oreo cookies
Consider practicing yoga
Contemplate meditating
Think about going for a walk
Exercise my option to do absolutely nothing
Take a long soak in the tub
Say my prayers and rest gently

Today I will:
Thank God for the makers
Make believe and have fun like a five year old
Make memories without Kodak
Make amends to everyone I’ve hurt
Make love with the light on
Make up not down
Make music without an instrument
Make peace with myself first
Make better all my owies
Make good on all my promises
Make muffins, blueberry lemon
Make magic without a wand
Make friends with myself
Say my prayers and make ZZZ’s

Today I will:
Thank God for housework
Change the sheets and flip the mattress
Do laundry and maybe iron
Wash the dishes by hand
Scrub the floors, the old fashioned way, down on my knees
Vacuum even the hidden places
Polish the furniture with lemon oil
Clean the windows
Stop to admire the “clean and shiny”
Say my prayers and fall quickly into a deep sleep

Thank God for the lazy days.

Today I will:
Thank God for chance to begin again
Turn over a new leaf, discover the mysteries hidden there
Start a new chapter that begins with hope
Wipe the slate clean of all past doubts
Start fresh with a different perspective
Begin anew with novel ideas
Embrace the blank page and let go of fear
Clear the deck and make space for possibilities
Close the book and make peace with the past
Say my prayers.

Diaries of The Breadman’s Daughter: My Dog Sugar was a Good Judge of Boyfriends.

My dog Sugar.

I love dogs.  I love cats and other animals too.  But dogs in particular hold a noteworthy place in my heart. Long before there was Andy and Coco and Rusty there was Sugar and Tootsie and a few others I only know by old black and white photographs.  It’s true dogs are our best friends. And sometimes a lonely girl’s little sister.

Little back story.  When I was around five years old The Old Man brought a new puppy home to 204. There had been a few dogs before her but none like Sugar.  When I look back on my childhood I have no memory that doesn’t include Sugar.  It’s as if my life began with a sweet little ball of white fur and heart-melting chocolate eyes.

Ma and The Old Man posing with Sugar.

Sugar was completely white except for a tinge of black in her ears when The Old Man first brought her home. He was a huge animal lover but like me, dogs were his favorites. And Sugar was like another child to him.  Ma’s heart was large and compassionate for all living creatures.  She wasn’t one for rough and tumble play like me and The Old Man.  But she loved Sugar dearly and considered her part of our family.  Sugar was never discouraged from languishing on the couch or snuggling on the bed.  Ma would often sit in quiet meditation, petting Sugar while she rested her head on her lap.  They had a kinship.  A rare affinity and understanding that seemed to surpass the human-animal connection.

Me and Sugar standing tall together.

Back then, a spade was called a spade. Naming a dog was simple. Rex, Lassie, Buddy, Sparky or Skip were all common no-nonsense monikers of the era. Color also influenced the name given to a dog.  If it was black, then Blacky was an obvious choice. White dogs, on the other hand, were often named after white things. Like sugar.  Our dog Sugar was full of surprises right from the start though. They say a leopard never changes his spots but sometimes a white dog grows some. By the time she was six months, Sugar was covered in them and her ears were jet black.  But by then, it was too late to call her Spotty.

I’m not sure what breed Sugar was.  We didn’t go much for pedigree back then.  We just had pets.  She was a mutt from a long line of mutts.  But canine rumor has it that somewhere along her ancestral lineage a Cocker Spaniel and a Dalmatian got involved.  That was good enough for us.  Regardless, she was gorgeous, smart, funny, loving, affectionate, sweet tempered and an extremely good judge of boyfriends. Ma always said, if Sugar doesn’t like him, there’s something wrong with him.  I should have listened to Ma.  And Sugar.

A welcome visit from Sugar at bath time.

Sugar terrorized the Mailman.  She wasn’t fond of anyone in a uniform but the Mailman in particular was a favorite target.  Five days a week.  The irony of this is that The Old Man wore a uniform to work every day, a fact that Sugar appeared to overlook.  But the Mailman didn’t get off the hook so easily.  Even Uncle Bud, Ma’s brother-in-law, wasn’t immune to her snarling, snapping and gnashing of teeth. Needless-to-say, his tenure as our Mailman was short-lived. We all knew why.

My lovely sister-in-law hanging out with Sugar.

Back then dogs ran free and roamed the streets like four-legged hoodlums with nothing but mischief and shenanigans on their minds.  They were harmless and everyone knew their names.  Ma would let Sugar out in the morning for her daily doggy-do, which also included scouting the neighborhood for feline riffraff and other nefarious varmints.  She never went far and mostly stayed in our yard, which she protected like a Palace guard.  Every passerby, whether friend or foe, was subject to her relentless barking. She held her ground.  Literally.  The entire length of our front yard.  Doggedly determined to defend her turf no matter what.  The truth was, the girl was all bark and no bite.  The entire neighborhood knew this.  This didn’t make it any less irksome.  Not everyone appreciated her doggone single-minded attitude like I did.  Sugar found herself in the dog house on more than one occasion.  Relegated to the back yard where her inner beast was contained by a twenty foot tether.

Sugar photo bombs my son on the front steps.

Sugar was also a good sport and a very accommodating creature.  She was a willing participant in my fun and games, including “dress-up.”  I decked her out in old baby clothes, propped her up in my doll carriage and proudly strolled the neighborhood with my dog-baby.  It was both comical and sad.  Sugar became the little sister I never had but desperately longed for.  I wanted to be like the C kids who lived across the street.  Three kids all two years apart plus a fourth surprise bonus one to boot, a few years later.  They were the lucky ones.  I was envious of their sibling rivalry and fights over the toilet.  Even my older siblings had each other.  So Sugar became my surrogate sibling.  My baby sister.  She seemed to accept this role with patience, tolerance and an abundance of equanimity.  Or perhaps it was mere self-preservation and acquiescence.  Regardless of her motivation, she never struggled to free herself from the fancy frocks.  Floppy sun bonnets.  Nor the little pink socks.  I like to think she understood my loneliness and aching need.

Sugar goes for a ride in my son’s wagon.

We shared a bed for almost twenty years.  Unlike many dogs, who preferred the foot of the bed, Sugar spent her nights all nestled and tucked under the covers right next to me.  We even shared a pillow.  I loved to snuggle her little body next to mine.  She was a living teddy bear.  My Linus blanket.  My comforter.  My sweet furry lullaby.

In summer, Sugar had a house of her own.  The Old Man built it for her and kept it in the backyard.  Nothing fancy.  A simple one room abode.  But it did the trick when Sugar needed a place to rest and take shelter from the summer heat.  In the winter she hunkered down indoors with the rest of us.  Northwestern Ontario winters were brutal.  A dog’s pee could freeze before it hit the snow.  Sugar didn’t linger long outdoors between December and the end of March. She was a wise girl.

When Sugar was about a year old she had a litter of pups.  We gave them away to the neighborhood families.  It was a win-win situation.  Everyone was happy.  After experiencing motherhood she was spayed.  She gained some weight so we had more of her to love.  She was still gorgeous in my eyes.

The summer I turned 25 I was living in a small northern town in British Columbia with my first husband and young son. It was during that time that I got a call from Ma.  It was the call I dreaded.  It had been six months since I last saw Sugar.  Christmas vacation.  She was ancient and dog-tired by then.  Arthritic and slow walking. Her velvety muzzle as white as her name.  But her eyes were the same.  She was still my Sugar girl.  Sweet as that first day she became my little sister.

Sugar enjoys a pet on the head from my son.

I am grateful that I wasn’t there when Sugar died.  I’m not sure I had the courage and inner strength to witness her last breath.  But I do know intimately how painful it was for Ma and The Old Man to have her put down.  What an odd expression.  It was impossible for them to let her go.  But let her go they did.  She was twenty.  Her hind end was paralyzed.  She was no longer a threat to the Mailman. Her bark was gone.

I have never fully let Sugar go.

I searched in vain for years.  I stared into the eyes of every white dog I came across seeking some spark of recognition.  It was never there.  Until I met Andy.  Sweet.  Gentle.  With Sugar girl eyes.  It was love at first sight.  I knew him.  It was a double blessing too.  For in those eyes I also saw Ma’s.  And when he barked I heard The Old Man’s voice.

Now there’s my Sugar girl.

Diaries of The Breadman’s Daughter: The Anniversary.

The Bride and Groom in the back seat of the wedding car.

Thomas Wolfe once wrote that, “You can’t go home again.”  Part of me believes that is true.  Yet part of me thinks you can.  I just did.  It took ten years and a 50th wedding anniversary to make it happen.  But I did go home.  Not to 204.  Although I visited the place, stopped long enough to take one photograph.  Then left.

I hadn’t been back in ten years.  Two funerals and one wedding brought me there a decade ago.  I swore I’d never go back.  Without Ma and The Old Man and 204 there wasn’t much appeal.  Those ten years flew by so quickly.  Like a crimson maple leaf in the Northwestern Ontario autumn wind.  Here and then gone.

When E and I got married last year my brother and sister-in-law flew out for the occasion.  We were sitting around our kitchen table one evening eating pizza and killing ourselves laughing over the silly things that only siblings find amusing.  It was then that my brother extended the invitation to attend their 50th anniversary the following summer.  At the time I said, “Yeah, that would be nice.  We’ll do that.”  But secretly I thought, “Not on your life.”  It wasn’t because I didn’t want to celebrate this milestone with them because I most definitely did.  I just didn’t want to do it there.  Over the course of the year I considered the possibility of flying 3,000 miles to spend a week in the West End, not smack dab in the old neighborhood but pretty darn close.  As quickly as the thought entered my mind I dismissed it.  Shrugged it off like a nasty mosquito.  Of which they have many in that neck of the woods.  But as the date drew closer, somehow my heart changed. I thought of what this would mean to my brother and his family.  It wasn’t just an invitation to a party. It was an invitation to come home and spend time with someone who shared an unbreakable bond and love for Ma like I did.

The flight was booked.  I was going.

The engagement announcement photo.

Little back story.  There isn’t much of their wedding day that I remember.  It’s all very sketchy.  Impressionistic.  Fuzzy around the edges.  I was too young to have captured any of it permanently in the camera of my mind.  So I am reliant on the story the black and white photographs and a yellowed newspaper clipping convey.

At 11:30 in the morning on Saturday, August 18,1962 my big brother’s life was transformed.  It was at that hour that he became a husband to the most beautiful girl in the room.  Two small town kids who met and fell in love.  Soul mates. Best friends.  Keepers of true love.  There for each other through the hills and valleys of life.  A blessing to everyone who loves them.  They are the dear ones.

The beautiful Bride having her picture taken at 204.

The day began with sunshine, sweet anticipation, butterflies in the stomach, hair appointments, intimate moments with family at home.  Captured on film for eternity.  These personal snapshots were followed by formal professional photos at Pouncy’s Studio. The costs for this photographic session, $52.10.  And the album full of exquisite 8×10 black and white photos, $76.87.  Enjoying the experience of leafing through the perfectly preserved book of romantic sweet memories.  Priceless.  An homage to the enduring MasterCard commercials that I love.

Vows were exchanged at St. Elizabeth’s Roman Catholic Church.

The Bride with Ma and The Old Man.

Commitments made.  Promises kept.  The first kiss as husband and wife.  Confetti rained from the sky in adoration. The gorgeous bride in her white organza gown and radiant smile.  Cascade of red roses.  Crystals and pearls.  The tall dark and handsome groom in black tux and eyes only for the girl he loved, the woman who would be his love forever and always.  His dream come true. Her love at first sight.

The day’s ceremonies were followed by rejoicing and merrymaking where everyone danced into the night.  Cake was cut, bouquet thrown and off they went for the time of their life.  And what a wonderful life it has been.  Fifty years later and still in love.  Still dedicated to each other and an inspiration to all who cherish them.  They have shown us what a good marriage looks like.

The Wedding Album.

The anniversary celebration was joyous.  Lovely.  Memorable.  Golden. My niece orchestrated every detail.  From the delicious food, that she so lovingly prepared for days on end, to the colorful balloons, streamers and photo display to honor her parents.  Everything was letter perfect.  I can’t think of a better way for a child to pay tribute to the ones who love her so dearly.  What a gift.  Again priceless.

One of the highlights of the party.  Watching my big brother waltz with his best man. What was supposed to have been a reenactment of the first dance with his bride turned into a comical, zany and poignant moment caught on video by yours truly. Another priceless moment.

As I look back on those ten days spent with my brother and his family I am grateful for the time we had together.  I am grateful I made the decision to be a part of their celebration, to be a part of the happy memories.  I am grateful that I have a big brother who was man enough to weep when I surprised him at his doorstep.  He had no idea I was coming.  It reminded me that I need to show up more often.  Especially in the lives of those I love.  Until that moment in his driveway, when we embraced and he cried tears of joy, I think I had forgotten just how much I loved him.  There we were.  Ma’s kids.  Her first and last born.  Together.

My big brother with my niece and his pride and joy.

So Thomas Wolfe, I agree that I can never go home again.  At least not to the home that was once such a big part of my life, that shaped and informed the person I am today.  I can’t walk through the front door of 204 and say, “Hi Ma.  Hey Dad.”  Breathe in the scent of Ma’s ginger cookies fresh out of the oven, Sunday’s roast dinner, coffee brewing on the stove.  Kiss them on the cheek before I walk out the door.  Look back and wave goodbye.

But I can go home to remember.  To celebrate.  To honor.  To love.

Diaries of The Breadman’s Daughter: 101 Lessons for a Good Life.

#73 – Every child born to our family is wanted and loved.

I like lists.  I find them quite useful.  They keep me organized.  Or at least they create the illusion of doing so.  A nifty thing about lists is how they come chock-a-block with little goals.  Each line item something to be accomplished.  Been there.  Done that.  Now move on.  And there’s nothing quite like the satisfaction of scratching something off the list.  Personally, I like to draw a thick heavy line right through the achievement.  Preferably in permanent ink.  Finito.

There are daily lists.  Like the “to do/call/email” list at work.  Some are weekly.  Grocery lists fall into this category.  Others are annual.  The family Christmas wish list reigns supreme.  Some are fun.  Like the list of things we need for our Annual Thanksgiving Bluegrass Party.  Then there are sundry others.  Everything from books to read, songs to download,  places to see, people to meet, things to keep and things to chuck.  All worthwhile and handy to have in your hip pocket.

One of the best lists I have ever compiled is the one that I am sharing with you today.  It’s a list of some of the things that Ma taught me during the course of our lifetime together. These are things she said, did, led by example, or simply implied.  There are 101 things on this list.  There could have been one thousand or one million.  Because she taught me so much and I am so very grateful.  But I’ve narrowed the list down to 101.  I like this number.  It reminds me of the first year course numbers when I was in University.  English 101.  Pyschology 101.  Anthropology 101 where I met my first true love.  It’s a solid number with the implication that there is more to come.  And who knows.  Maybe there is.

The list isn’t in any particular order.  It’s random.  Like life.  Some things are common sense.  Others uncommon. Extraordinary.  Some are peculiar.  And contradictory.  Some are funny.  Others very sad.  At times confusing.  Often profound in simplicity.  And full of classic cliches of the time.  But also bright.  And wise.  Witty.  Practical.  Pragmatic.  Confounding.  Infuriating.  Loving. Tender.  Touching.

Cherished gifts each and every one.  From Ma to me.  To you.  With love.

1.  Two wrongs don’t make a right.
2. You can’t make someone love you.
3. Always wear clean underwear.  Carry a pair in your purse just in case.
4. Tomorrow’s another day and this too shall pass.
5. The secret to baking a good cookie is to remove it from the oven just before it’s done and let it finish baking on the sheet.
6. Time heals all wounds.
7. You can’t take it with you when you go.
8. Bad breath is better than no breath at all.
9. Everybody needs love even those who are difficult like your father.
10. God is inside of me.
11. The secret to a good spaghetti sauce is to let it simmer all day.
12. Don’t complain.  No one’s listening anyway.
13. Nobody’s perfect. They just wish they were.
14. Life is far too short.
15.  Send your child to school in fresh clean clothes every day even if it means doing laundry every night.
16. Don’t go out in the sun without a big hat and long sleeves.
17. Walk whenever possible and always have a comfortable pair of shoes at the back door ready to go.
18. You don’t need make-up, except for lipstick.  It brightens your face and makes you look pretty.
19. Keep a nice home and welcome everyone into it.
20.  Always tell the truth.  No one trusts liars.
21. Pay attention to how the dog reacts to your boyfriends.  The dog is a good judge of character.
22. Splurge on a really nice dress for a special occasion.  Treat yourself and don’t feel guilty.  It’s important to feel good when you go out.

#23 – Don’t walk around the house with your shoes on. It’s rude.

23. Don’t walk around the house with your shoes on.  It’s rude.
24. Always wash your face and put on night cream before going to bed.  Repeat in the morning with day cream.  Moisturizing is the key to beautiful skin all your life.
25.  Pick up a “Ladies” magazine while you’re grocery shopping. It’s an inexpensive treat.
26. Not everyone belongs in a group.
27. Don’t throw Tupperware parties. No one will come.
28. Stay away from bad people.  Especially men who are bad for you.  You’ll get hurt every time.
29. Call if you need me.  Anytime.  Anywhere.  I’ll be right there.
30. Babies like to be picked up when they cry.
31. Nothing beats flannel pajamas and nighties.

#32 – Take pictures of the flowers you are sent.

32. Take pictures of the cakes you bake, the flowers you are sent, the gifts you are given, the Christmas tree every year even if it looks the same, it’s different.
33. Support a third world child regardless of your financial situation.
34.  Cry when you’re sad.  Yell when you’re mad.  Sit silently when you need to think.  Laugh at the funny things.
35. Get up early.  Put the kettle on first thing. Start your day with a cup of tea and piece of toast.
36. It’s okay to wear comfortable clothes around the house just as long as they’re freshly washed and ironed.  Being comfortable isn’t the same thing as being a slob.
37. You can never give a child enough love.  That’s not what spoils them.
38. Accept invitations to lunch or an afternoon shopping at the mall.
39. It’s okay to fall asleep on the couch while watching television.
40. Don’t worry about your age.  There’s nothing you can do about it.
41. Always send Thank You cards.

#42 – Remember everyone’s birthday with a homemade cake.

42.  Remember everyone’s birthday with a homemade cake and a nicely wrapped gift.  At the very least give a special card.
43. Take care of your teeth.  False teeth just aren’t the same as your own.
44. Invite people to stay for dinner.  There’s always plenty.
45. Make the bed as soon as you get up.
46. Have supper together every night and make Sunday dinner extra special.  Roast something.  Have the entire family over.
47. Give people the benefit of the doubt and don’t hold grudges.
48. You don’t need a reason to give a gift or to send someone a note to let them know you’re thinking of them.
49. Try not to hurt someone’s feelings but apologize right away when you do.
50. Mind your manners.  Always say please and thank you.
51. Wash your hands all day long but especially before touching food.
52.  Bounce a baby on your lap and sing “doodley doodley doodley doo.”
53. Pick up litter when you see it.  Stuff it in your pocket if there isn’t a garbage nearby and throw it out when you get home.
54. Never let your grey roots show.  It makes you look old.
55. Baths are better than showers.
56.  Always bring out the good china for company and on special occasions.
57. You’re never too old to start something new.
58.  Nothing tastes quite as good as a sandwich made with lettuce freshly picked from the garden.
59. It’s okay to buy certain things for your home “on time.”
60. Write letters.  Everyone loves getting them.
61. No one will love you like your mother.  Especially a man.
62. Some people can be mean.  That doesn’t make okay for you to be mean back.
63. Take all kinds of vitamins and supplements.  They’re good for you.
64. People with thin lips are nags.
65. Pay your bills every month no matter how broke you are.  Even if it’s just a little bit to everyone you owe.
66. It’s a sign of beauty if a girl looks like her father.
67.  Get the dishes done right after you eat.
68. Eat lots of fruits and vegetables and enjoy dessert.
69.  Learn to sew clothes, embroider tablecloths and knit scarves.  Teach these to your daughters.
70. Learn to cook and bake, especially if you have children.
71. Read everything you can about being healthy and subscribe to Prevention Magazine.

#56 – Always bring out the good china for company and on special occasions.

72. Try to see the good in everyone.
73. Every child born to our family is wanted and loved.
74. Exercise every day. Walk. Do yoga. Ride an exercise bike.
75. Go back to school at sixty.
76. Don’t waste your time gossiping.
77. A health food store is a good place to shop.
78. The secret to a perfect pie crust is a secret.  But here’s the recipe.
79. Be kind and decent to everyone no matter who they are.
80. Walk facing the traffic at all times.
81. Be nice.
82. Don’t go empty handed to someone’s house.
83. Pray for people whether they asked you to or not.  Especially your children.
84. Don’t go blabbing family business to the neighbors.
85. You can do anything you want to if you put your mind to it.
86. You’re just as good as anyone.
87. Always make lemon pie from scratch.  It’s worth it.
88.  Forgive and forget.  Sometimes it’s easier said than done though.
89. Celebrate the holidays with your family.  Have big wonderful meals and lots of gifts under the tree.
90. You don’t have to get married to be married.
91. Potatoes are versatile.
92. No matter how afraid you are, get on the plane.
93. Respect your elders and those in authority, especially teachers and police officers.  Their jobs are hard enough.
94.  Don’t be a show off, braggart or know-it-all.  No one likes people like that.
95. It’s important to have a room of your own to sew or paint or make things.
96. Always have Kleenex up your sleeve and a package of peppermint Chicklets in your purse.
97. Offer your seat on the bus to older people and pregnant women.
98. Italians are nice people.
99. Don’t make promises you can’t keep, especially to children.
100. You only get out of life what you put into it.
101. You’re never too old to play on a swing.

#101 – You’re never too old to play on a swing.