LESSON #60 – FRIENDS INDEED!

Stop and look around.  Interesting people are everywhere!

Republished here with the approval of AROUND WOODSTOCK, “Our Woodstock Neighbors” April issue, 2018, by Leigh Cutrone.

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Once in a while we meet someone with whom we just click.  That was the case when I met this dear woman.  We just happened to be next door neighbors when I moved to downtown Woodstock.

Simply put I was fascinated by her.  She is quite a lovely lady.  She has the most gorgeous blue eyes which are full of life along with a sense of humor that would make anyone smile.

Her full name is Marita Hallberg Walsh.  Born in Sweden in 1943, she was the only child.  She still remembers the food shortages resulting from the German blockades.   But her parents came to the United States looking for a better life which they found in Brooklyn, NY. where Marita grew and began her love of art.  Her father was a fresco artist so, perhaps,  Marita inherited that flair early on.

Parsons School of Design accepted Marita and with several scholarships under her belt she graduated with a Graphic Arts degree from Parsons.  This is impressive since today only about 35%* of applicants are accepted.

Graphic art was Marita’s forte’ which took her into the advertising world.  In fact, her first job was in an advertising firm in NY in the 60’s.  Remember television’s, ‘Madmen‘??  Was this world accurately depicted?  Actually, Marita said the men were.  The women, in her experience, not so much.  Women were typists and stenographers.  Not any room for a Peggy becoming an advertising executive in those days nor for a Joan Holloway rising to part owner of the firm.

The young and married Marita lived in the West Village of New York.  She ‘painted’ me a picture of the West Village as an area where the aspiring musicians, actors, and young artists lived and socialized.  Marita, in fact, knew Bob Dylan‘s girlfriend, Susan Rotolo.  Suze and Dylan lived around the corner. Suze actually was pictured on Dylan’s 1963 album, ‘The Freewheeling Bob Dylan’.  It must have been fascinating living there then.   I can picture Marita with her blonde hair and bright blue eyes walking along Bleeker St and running into Suze and Dylan.

Marita has always had a love of traveling and adventures.    Marita has been to 19 or 20 countries (but who is counting?).  Always independent with a sense of purpose.  With each move (and there were many) came a “new adventure”.  “It was fun” and along the way she has met Woody Allen and Woody Harrelson.  With a bit of wistfulness, Marita mentioned she may not have actually worked FOR Any Warhol but she was close enough to “touch his robe!”

Marita and her husband moved to downtown Woodstock about 6 1/2 years ago and has had no regrets.  Woodstock suits her lifestyle and she has no plans to move anytime soon if ever.  Today she paints and is humble about her work as she pointed to a painting she was working on in the corner of her living room.  The easel was beautiful as was the painting.

I asked Marita if she had any advice for the younger people starting out in their careers.  She was quick to answer.  “Work hard and put down the phones!”

Any regrets?” I asked.   “Anything on your bucket list?”   Marita had to think.  Maybe not a regret but a ‘wish’.  She still wishes she had landed that job with Lou Dorfsman.   She explained that Dorfsman was a graphic designer who was hired as the Director of Design for all of CBS in NYC. Marita informed me that Dorfsman was responsible for everything and anything that had to do with design (print advertising, marketing communications, etc.) for CBS…”down to the design of even the pencils”.  We agreed she may not have had half the adventures in her life if she had landed that job!

As Marita enjoys everything Woodstock, we all should be happy to have her living among us.  Cheers Marita!

 

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LESSON #73 – AN EXPAT ON 9/11

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Each of us has a story.

We were living in London, England on 9/11.  We were Expats.

My children were attending a US Department of Defense School on a Royal Air Force base outside of the City.

My day was slow going surprisingly.  I was having a cup of tea just looking outside the window at Hyde Park. It was a pretty day. The sun was shining and our apartment was quiet. I remember thinking I should take a walk down Oxford Street.

The phone rang. It was the kids. I don’t remember much after that but I was told to turn on the TV. I did. The horror that I saw would, of course, never be forgotten.  My husband called to see if I knew.  He was supposed to have flown out on a business trip to Madrid that day.  Plans changed.

Living abroad on 9/11 was difficult. Somehow I felt so alone. I wanted to be home to mourn and to watch the news in its entirety.

The British people were kind and were saddened along with all the American expats and we were treated kindly.  The Brits had, in fact, lost 67 countrymen that day.

At the American International Church of London, where we attended services, the Royal Family of Prince Andrew, Fergie, and children attended the service to give their respects. I don’t remember that service very well but I do remember tears and sadness and feelings of disbelief.

We lived around the corner from a street full of Muslim restaurants. Tables were normally full of men smoking their Hookahs and keeping to themselves with idle conversation.

On 9/11 and for weeks after, we would walk down this street and no one would be outside. These people had rolled up the sidewalks. It was eerily quiet.

The Queen held a service at St. Paul’s Cathedral on 9/14. Crowds of people came out to mourn all together and to show solidarity.    Prime Minister Blair, Former Prime Minister Thatcher and all of the Royal family were together to show their respects and pray together.  We couldn’t get in but we stood outside and listened to the words over the loudspeakers with several thousand others.  It was helpful somehow to know that the Brits mourned with us and all Americans.

At the changing of the Guard outside Buckingham Palace, the Coldstream Guard played the Star-Spangled Banner on 9/12.  The Queen had ordered this be done.  There were over 5,000 Americans and both the Americans and Brits were gathered together weeping at the atrocity of it all.

The kids came home early and did not return to school for many days.  The base became more secure and Passports had to be shown. The base was in a ‘Code Red’ status since it was an active military base.  No one knew at that point whether to expect more planes to appear unexpectedly above the skyline.

The BBC did not televise all the details as the US news had. I found myself starving from the lack of news coverage and turned the channels to get any news at all. Chris Matthews was televised on our cable and I hung on every word. It was never enough. I had so many questions.  That day we went to the Marriott downtown since they had American news stations on their cable.  People just sat there in silence staring at the news.  Like everyone else in the world, we were all in shock.

Being an Expat on this day and for weeks afterward, I felt out of place. Prior to 9/11 I lived in London and always felt at home. As kind as the Brits were to all Expats we were Americans now with a story to tell when we returned home.

On this day and for all the 9/11s ahead, we are Americans first and foremost no matter where we live.

My heart is full today as it is every 9/11.  I mourn for our loss.

God bless America. We won’t forget.

 

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LESSON #72 – I’ll CALL TOMORROW

IMG_7739.jpgAs I repot this Dieffenbachia plant, I find myself thinking about my Mother.

My Mother passed away in March of 1997.  She was ‘only’ 74.  Over 22 years ago.  I received a call in the morning on a Saturday.

I was in my office at the time when that call came in.  It was my sister telling me my Mother had had a stroke and she was in the hospital.  It didn’t look good.

Funny what we think about in times of crises.  The years passed before my eyes.  A few days before, my Mother had called me from Houston and I hadn’t picked up.  I decided I would call her in a few.  That conversation never took place.

As we all waited for our flight.  I found my way to the Airport chapel where I knelt and prayed to please not take my Mother before I reached her.  I needed to say goodbye and to tell her I loved her.  I knelt there for a long time.  Suddenly the Holy Spirit told me that she was gone.  I felt it in every inch of me.  A feeling of peace enveloped me as I accepted that this was as it should be.

My sister had had her palm read by a friend.  The palm reader had told her that someone very, very close to her would soon pass away suddenly and that this person was elderly and a woman. My sister wanted both of us to fly to Houston that weekend.  I declined thinking it was important that my sister spend one-on-one time with my Mother.  I did not believe that my Mother would pass that very weekend.  She did.

At our age, we all have been through the trauma of losing someone we love.  The older that I get the better I understand that we all handle loss in different ways.  There is no right and wrong answer to coping with the loss of our loved ones.

This particular plant I am repotting is a new offshoot of the plant I carried home with me from my Mother’s funeral service in Houston.  This plant is very special.  It is a living, thriving memory of all my Mother represented to me.  It has given joy to me for all these years and as it grew, it gave joy to my sister, to my daughter and circled back to me when the Mother plant decided it was time to give no more.  Yet, here was another new plant spreading its leaves to the filtered sun.  It still brings me happiness.

I’m still unsure why and how the Airline let me carry this plant onto the plane. Perhaps, they saw the pain in my eyes. I just don’t remember flying home since I was walking in a fog with so much sadness that I couldn’t feel anything more.

Why had I decided not to go to Houston?  Why did I not pick up that phone that evening?  Why couldn’t I have told my Mother I loved her one last time before she had died?

So many whys and so many questions.  I know now not to take life for granted.  We all face our medical problems as we get older and if I have learned nothing else, I know to tell family and friends that I love them without hesitation.  If by chance God calls me home unexpectedly the people I love will take away the memory that I loved with all my heart.

Love, Leigh

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

LESSON # 71 – SPECIAL MOM DAY

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Most of us probably have a special Mother’s Day that we hold on to.

Mine was when we lived in Phoenix.  My son was about 2 and my daughter maybe 4…I think.  My husband was on a business trip.

My two dear children came into my bedroom carrying a tray.  They had one piece of burned toast on a large plate.  The coffee cup was filled to the brim with cold water.  Coffee grounds were floating while Lauren proudly explained that she had made me a good cup of coffee.  Both children were proud of their accomplishment.  My heart filled to capacity and then some.  It still does to this day when I remember this special Mother’s Day.

Tomorrow is for all Mothers in all forms, all colors, all everything.  A day to remember Mothers who have passed and are no longer here to hug and give us guidance.  Missed beyond words.  Mothers in name only, Mothers who are yet to be and Mothers in the thick of it.  Young and Old.

So, we thank our Mothers,  but we don’t have to think long about all ‘we’ have done to deserve this special day.  Humbly I say.

I am reminded once again how it all began…this thing they call motherhood.  In my case, there was a lot of pushing involved without meds both times, and, in return, I have a nice homemade yummy breakfast once a year if I am very lucky!  Pushing…..pushing,  b r e a t h i n g  in and out, more pushing until insides feel like they are coming out along with a beautiful baby!  TMI?? Yes, perhaps.  Yay for us! All that work and a good breakfast besides.  Perfect.

It has been a ride and a lifetime of love, pain, love, guidance, hospital runs, love, worry, tears, heartbreak, love and maybe the best breakfasts one can only dream of!

Happy Mother’s Day everyone!  Enjoy!!  I, personally, wouldn’t trade any of it… for anything.  Except, perhaps, for the best dinner in the world!  Wait for it….my children are taking me out to dinner tonight.  Just the three of us.  What is better than that I ask you?

I am so excited!!

Love and Miss Both My Moms,

Leigh

(Some of this blog may have been republished because of lack of time but it’s ok since I wrote both!)

 

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LESSON # 70 – LOOK INTO MY EYES

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I think I was always tired and the children kept me very busy.  I was considered an ‘older’ Mom.  I was almost 37 when my son was born.  Not old according to today’s standards!  A couple of years flew by as they do and suddenly my son was two and my daughter, four.

This was a precious moment.  I remember this because as young as he was, my son needed one on one attention from his Mother and I was wrapped up in everything else.  Not odd for a young Mother with young children.  My thoughts then are very much the same now when I think of that moment.

My son crawled onto my lap and put his little hands on my face and turned my face toward his own.  He stared at my eyes and we looked at each other for what seemed minutes.  We looked into each other’s eyes and very souls.  It was a moment I will never forget.

I stopped what I was doing and looked at this little child of mine and felt all the hopes and dreams every mother feels.  That moment, too, I felt guilty that my young child would feel that he needed attention and he had to show me!  He was beyond his years with the ability to say without words what he needed… to look into my eyes and see my love for him.  That particular day, sad to say, I had forgotten the most important job I had.

Today as a “Nana” I often think of that second in time so long ago.  Being part of the Senior Class, we now have much more time to give to our Grandchildren.  In my case, they are quite young.  I find myself looking into their eyes as I hold them close while telling them I love them.  Part of my ritual is to give each Grand a ‘million’ kisses and a big big hug when I see them.  I often hope each one will remember our special ritual because it is very special to me.

My Grandsons will grow up fast and feel awkward with my kisses and I fear that may be happening sooner than I want to realize.  Girls are easier.  They giggle when receiving their Nana’s love and kisses.

How often do we really look into each other’s eyes and see the love and the feelings we have for each other?  Eyes do certainly give a glimpse into the souls of those we love.  A loving light will shine there. We might see love but also, perhaps,  all the rest of our human emotions.  When you see love shining back from someone’s eyes, that is the most precious to always remember.

Our Grands will grow up just as fast as our children.  I am careful.  I stop what I may be doing and look into their eyes and make sure they know and feel my love.  It’s important to me.

My memory of my son on that day will never fade.  My memory of those I love looking into my eyes with love will never fade.  This may be what it’s all about!  Maybe.

Leigh

                                 “Nothing can dim the light that shines from within”

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LESSON #69 – HAPPY PASSOVER!

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This year Good Friday has a different feel than last.

Easter has come a bit too fast for my liking and my mind has been on everything else except where the focus should be!

Easter is a time for celebration and our thoughts should be turning to Jesus who, after all, is what this weekend is all about!

This year, however, Passover and Good Friday is TODAY.  I have always believed we should celebrate Passover along with our Jewish brethren but we seldom hear about this most important Jewish holiday.  Sad, really, many Christian churches can’t celebrate this part of our Christianity as it coincides with Judaism.

“Good” is connected with Friday because Jesus died for all our sins…which is Good.  Sunday, Easter, HE rose from the dead and we praise HIM with thankfulness.

Today, we recognize Passover.  It is a festival to freedom; the Israelites’ Exodus from Egypt.  Liberation by God of those led out of Egypt by Moses.

Passover begins today and ends on April 27.

So, for this weekend I will praise HIM and try to forget everything else happening in my life.  I will put aside any worries and put my trust in the Lord.  Gather around the table whether it be on Easter Sunday or for your Seder meal and give thanks!

HAPPY EASTER AND HAPPY PASSOVER.

Leigh

 

 

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