Sunshine Memories

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Draw or print out a smiling sun. Along the sun’s rays, write down who and what brings you joy. Maybe it’s certain people in your life, activities you like to do, self-care like yoga, massage, reading, exercise, sleep. Whatever makes you happy and brings a smile on your face. Fill out all the lines–maybe not all today, but you can keep adding.
 
Then journal about that person or activity and why it brings you joy. You could write one a day. It becomes your positive memory bank. A place that you can return to when life feels too hard or you simply have a bad day. It reminds you that the sun will always shine.
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Decorate your positive memory bank page. Make it yours. There’s only a right way for you to journal, so do what makes you feel happy. Let your inner creativity shine through.

Luke and J9: The Beginning

I watched him step out of his red and black Toyota 4 Runner. A tall, dark, and handsome man in a long black coat walked into TGI Fridays. My sidekick, Lisa, nodded her approval, and so I limped toward the entrance to meet my blind date.

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Two days earlier.

I finished my evening shift waiting table at Grandma’s Pie Shop on Central Avenue. My plan was to head over to my blind date’s townhouse for a party he and his roommate were having. I had yet to meet him, so this seemed the perfect opportunity. I still lived at home with my younger sister, Michele, and my parents. At age 22, I was in that in between stage of teen and adult.

The weather turned ugly, so my father insisted on picking me up to drive the 45 minutes home. My chance to meet my blind date was thwarted by a wintry blizzard. We talked briefly and planned to meet for lunch. Two more days dragged by as I imagined what he looked like. I had enjoyed getting to know him on the phone and was excited about the possibilities.

The next morning, in typical De Tillio fashion, I broke my toe, cracked my shinbone, and ended up on crutches. I’ll spare you the gory details of how that occurred! I called my blind date. He despaired, fearing that I would once again cancel.

I explained that I would be on crutches and wearing a brown bomber jacket. Easy enough to spot. Lisa and I arrived early and watched for him in the parking lot. After I saw him walk into the restaurant, I decided to leave my crutches in the car. I needed to make some type of impression.

I opened the door and there he stood, leaning against the wall waiting for me. He was ‘the one’ with his Sam Elliott mustache, chocolate eyes, and nonchalant stance. I knew I would marry him.

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We talked about soccer, motorcycles, family, and food. We had so much in common, and I couldn’t wait to see him again. As he followed me out of the restaurant, he said, “Nice limp.” His dry sense of humor has carried us through many of my klutzy escapades!

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Riding the streets of Maine. We always wear protective gear now!

Our love was a whirlwind of adventures and dreams of our lives together. We married three years later.

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I found my soulmate and best friend on this day 30 years ago. We have had so much joy as well as tremendous sorrow, but we have always stood side by side holding one another up.

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Dancing in the Woods, 2018

Luke was warned I’d be trouble. He took a chance anyway. He’s known as the fix it guy, but I think we’ve lasted, because he has always let me be me. What more could a gal limping into TGI Friday’s ask for!

Easter Memories

Easter is probably my favorite holiday, because it welcomes spring, new beginnings, family gatherings, and egg hunts. Since my mom sold her home in Greenville, we have  hosted Easter. I love packing the plastic Easter eggs with coins, candy, and clues. Oh yes, the scavenger hunt is always one of my favorites.

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Easter 2001 on Cambridge Avenue, Clifton Park

As you can see in the photo, the little ones are all in the back of my SUV around their prize. But they had to work to get there. It might be a puzzle, word finder, word scramble, or hunting for eggs, which held vital clues. They would be age specific, with tougher ones for the older children. It brought them together in excitement and challenge.

Stephen and Nick were five and seven in this photo, Marisa six, Alysia, Justine, and Charlie all four. When I was little, we always dressed up for Easter in our bonnets and bright spring colored dresses. We’d wear our white stockings and don our new patent leather shoes. I smile at this photo as all the children followed that tradition, whether they wanted to or not! The boys looked spiffy in their vests, dress shirts, and pants. Nick loved hats and so the cowboy hat had to be a part of his ensemble. I am intrigued by all that I am reminded of when looking closely at the details.

Nick and his sassy smile. He always had something in his pockets. I’m not sure what was in his back pocket in the top photo. He’s wearing a Pokemon pin on his vest, and I could almost guarantee he had a Pokemon character (probably Pikachu) in his front pocket. Stephen with his top button undone and wearing sneakers. It was a win just to get dress clothes on him, now that’s all he wears. Marisa and Alysia wear their fancy hats and are holding jump ropes in their hands.

Of course the boys were into Legos as shown in the photo with their gifts. Stephen was starting baseball, so was given a new glove. There was some Disney item and more Legos. I’m sure I have photos of their actual gifts and listed them in their journals. Details that I wouldn’t remember, but bring back so many memories.

Some things don’t change and Stephen is being hounded by his uncle to get a smile out of him. Since I probably was taking the picture, Stephen was most likely begging his father to save him. We did manage to get a smile.

Even before the family gathers, the Easter egg coloring happens. Laying out the plastic tablecloth, then newspaper, arranging all the supplies, preparing the colored dyes, always having crayons to write family names. Giving them as gifts Easter morning as everyone arrived.

Justine, Alysia, and Charlie are now 18, but I still have some tricks up my sleeve if they want their basket of candy. Yes, they may outgrow some of the activities, but we never outgrow the love of family and connection we feel when everyone gathers together. Even those you can’t be with us are never far away. These memories are sustaining, precious, and challenge me to find more ways to maintain tradition, joy, love, and celebration.

What is your favorite Easter holiday or spring tradition? Write about the memories or from a photo. Look closely, you never know what you may remember.

Happy Birthday Dad

Today is my dad’s birthday: Salvatore Joseph De Tillio, born February 19, 1940. He would have been 78 years old today. When I see my Uncle Charlie and Uncle Nick, I get a sense of what my dad would look like. Their mannerisms, voice, and soothing manner remind me so much of him.

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Dad at 13 months, March 23, 1941

Besides photos, our stories keep our loved ones alive in our minds. They explain where we get a certain mannerism from or whose genes are responsible for that cowlick or those brown eyes. We understand why we are driven to a certain purpose even if we never met that person. Stories help us to connect. Photos create curiosity.

Where was my father in the above photo? Who was the woman on the left and the two younger girls? Were they walking past and saw someone taking a photo, stopped to avoid getting in the picture, but were captured anyway? Maybe they were one of the first photo bombers. If they were, they are definitely my relations!

Or are they relatives who are adoring my dad, happy to be out on a spring day, even though there is still a chill in the air? The younger girl on the left appears to be wearing roller skates. That brings me back to how I often raced up and down the sidewalks on Long Island in mine. Also how many times I sprained my ankles while rollerskating, which has been a lifelong occurrence.

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Dad at 3 years old. May, 1943

Dad was always a smart dresser. I have a hat of his that looks just like the one he’s wearing. My son, Nick, wore it to his chorus concert in 7th grade, along with his Poppa’s Flintstone tie as we called it.

Again the photo raises the question of where is he standing? Who is taking the picture? Was he going somewhere or coming home from a fun event? He looks like such a sweet boy and very happy!

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The calm demeanor of my dad in this photo is a reflection of how he lived his life. He was very mellow until it was time to not be mellow. I don’t know how old he is in the photo or whose house he is in. But I see resemblances to my boys and nephews in the shape of his eyes, nose and face. My dad lives in me, my children, nieces, and nephews.

I never knew my grandfathers, and I wanted my boys to know their Poppa. Unfortunately, he died too young, but I hope that his stories can bring him to life.

The best stories about my dad was how he always put his family first. He was the first to protect and lived by a very strong code of honor. That might be why I like stories about knights and superheroes. He was both in my eyes and larger than life.

Happy Birthday, Dad. Missing you and love you always.

A Single Snowflake–Photo Prompt

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Photo by Elizabeth Fox Photography

A single snowflake. Dynamic in its uniqueness, clarity in its lines. It has a beauty and gloriousness all on its own.

As it falls with the millions of other snowflakes, they band together and pack a powerful punch. They can stop cars, delay schools, and cause havoc. But these snowflakes also can silence the world like a blanket, reflect the sun creating a shimmering landscape, and bring fun to every child and adult in all forms of activity.

Alone or together a snowflake is like every human being. Individually unique, beautiful, and filled with potential. Together a powerful force that can empower positive change, instill hope, and connect a community through love.

What does this photo mean to you? Write whatever you feel for 10 minutes.