Advice, Memoir

Unexpected Life Lessons

While trying to organize my office, I found a piece of paper with a list scribbled on it… not an uncommon thing for me to find. My mom said that from the time I could hold a pencil in my hand, I was writing lists — important things like party ideas, gifts I wanted for Christmas, outfits to wear — you know, big things.

This list was titled, “Unexpected Life Lessons.”

Below that title was a subtitle, “Setting it Straight.” I listed the lessons I wanted to remember; the ones that have helped me set my thinking straight.

It was a long list, but here is a sampling:

1. Life rarely goes according to plan.

I’ve written about this before but when I was in college, I believed that I had four major decisions to make, and then my life would run on a smooth, thoughtfully-planned path.

Laugh if you want, but I believed that I needed to decide what to study, where to work, where to live, and who to marry.

Then, off I’d go.

I was so surprised when the formula didn’t stick.

My daughter Annie recommended the book, “It’s Not Supposed to Be This Way” by Lysa Terkeurst. The book is about how life often looks different than what we hoped or expected.

“If you are a human who has been doing the adult thing for more than twenty-four hours,” she wrote, “you’ve probably come to the same stunning revelation as I have. We cannot control our outcomes.”

That truth was a revelation to me. And, of course, it continues to prove true — over and over.

We can choose how to respond to the detours, distractions, and disappointments but we can’t always avoid them even with the best laid schemes.

I grew up believing all the cliches about being the captain of my ship, the narrator of my story, the designer of my destiny. So, it surprised me when my plans didn’t always go the way I imagined.

Having a backup plan is always a good idea, or better yet, believing God has one in store can be a saving grace.

Someone was telling me recently about her plan to have children. She had it all planned out — one every three years. Then, she discovered the heartbreak of infertility, and started looking into adoption. She said, “I kept saying, I might need to go to Plan B. Then, it hit me, maybe Plan B was Plan A all along.”

So much wisdom in that statement.

Terkeurst writes that our experiences with things not going as planned help us see our lives in the context of God’s bigger story.

Remembering there is a bigger story helps us keep a long-term perspective; and thankfully, perspective and the way we choose to look at things is something we can always control.

2. Don’t let fear be in charge.

I learned this lesson while sitting around a conference table in an executive committee meeting at a U.S. Presidential Inauguration. I had just been appointed as the communications director and we were all asked to introduce ourselves and share a little bit about our background.

As I listened to the impressive resumes and titles of the other directors, I thought, “I have no business being here.” I felt this sinking feeling of inadequacy.

As fear settled in, another thought came to me that felt like a reprimand or a scolding. “Don’t ever let yourself think that again because the minute you do, you’re done. Your confidence is shot, and it’s over. Then, I thought, “Believe you’re here for a reason. Don’t worry about everyone else. Do what you know how to do.”

That bit of wisdom definitely straightened out my thinking. I didn’t have time for doubts, fears, and those pesky insecurities that can so easily get in our way.

I love how Elizabeth Gilbert talks about fear in her book Big Magic. She explained how fear gets in the way of her writing. (A very real fear.) She decided to think of every writing venture as a road trip, acknowledging that fear will want to come along. So, she accepts fear’s presence, knowing it will wedge its way in somehow, but she sets some rules for it — it never gets a vote, never touches the map, can’t suggest detours, isn’t even allowed to fiddle with the temperature.

“Dude,” she says, “you’re not even allowed to touch the radio. But, above all else, my dear old familiar friend, you are absolutely forbidden to drive.”

Such an important life lesson, and one I need to remember every time fear bobs its head and makes me doubt myself.

3. You don’t need to do everything at once.

This may seem obvious to most people but it was a major lesson for me.

A friend was helping me move into a new apartment, and I was standing by my car wondering how I could get everything — or as much as possible in one trip.

Exasperated, I said, “I can’t get all this in one trip.”

Very matter of fact, he said, “Guess what? You don’t have to.”

Whoa.

That stopped me cold.

I don’t? I seriously thought that was one of the most profound things I’d ever heard. It’s such a basic truth, but one that often escapes me as I try — way too often — to do too much.

Just recently, I came home from a short road trip, got out of my car, and opened the back gate to retrieve everything I’d gathered on the journey, and once again thought, “I can’t get all this in one trip.”

Aha! “Guess what? You don’t have to!

I don’t need to do everything at once.

What an epiphany.

4. Sit with people in their grief or sadness.

When my mom died, a neighbor came to visit me to share her condolences. I invited her to sit down, and when she did, she settled into a comfortable chair in my family room as if she had all day, and said, “Tell me about your mom.”

I could tell by her body language, soft demeanor, and gentle tone of voice that she genuinely wanted to know about my mom, my loss, and memories.

That open-ended question and her sincere follow-up questions invited me to talk about how my mom died, what she was like, the hilarious things she said and did, the wisdom she shared, and what I would miss most about her.

I will always remember her example and that of so many others who have just been there for me when I’ve needed a friend — and they’ve been genuinely good listeners.

One of my favorite old movies is Shall we Dance with Richard Gere and Susan Sarandon. (It’s not a classic, but it’s always one I’m happy to watch again.) Maybe it’s because of this one line when Sarandon’s character is talking about marriage. She said when you marry someone, “you’re saying, your life will not go unnoticed because I will notice it. Your life will not go un-witnessed because I will be your witness.”

Listening and sitting with someone in their grief is a form of witnessing somebody else’s life and when someone listens to us and cares about our sadness, we feel like someone is witnessing and caring about ours.

So, there you have it, four of my unexpected life lessons.

I’d love to know some of yours. What small life lessons have you accumulated that have been helpful to you?

Friends, Relationships

Strangers becoming Friends

A few days ago, I pulled into a parking space at a metered spot in an outdoor shopping mall in California. As I was trying to pay, a woman walked up to me and said, “Oh, don’t worry about paying. Someone told me they don’t monitor these spaces.” 

I thanked her and thought that was the end of the conversation. 

A few minutes later, I knew everything about her life. 

Just making a friend over a parking meter

She had just sold her home in one of the beach towns in Southern California and is staying with a friend in Rancho Cucamonga until she moves to Oklahoma where her sister lives. She told me how much the buyer paid for her beachside home and how much she paid for her new home in Oklahoma, the amount of her new mortgage, and shared her happiness over being able to retire earlier.

She loves her teaching career but doesn’t want to do it forever, and moving to Oklahoma and having a more manageable mortgage will allow her to retire sooner. Now it’s exciting for her to plan her future because she will have so many more options. Our conversation went on so long, I honestly wouldn’t have been surprised if she had invited me to lunch to continue chatting. 

As I was listening to her tell me all of these personal details, I was thinking, “Why are you telling me this? We don’t even know each other?” Then, I thought, “Don’t tell Sara, Annie, Doug, or any of my friends because they will roll their eyes and say, “Well, of course, you made friends with a stranger! Why are we not surprised?”

Then, Doug would go into his story about how I have an unusual knack for making friends in public restrooms. 

You see, several years ago, while we were waiting for our luggage at the baggage claim at the Salt Lake City airport, I went into the restroom and accidentally made a friend.

She said, “Are you from Salt Lake?” 


“No, I’m from Washington, D.C.,” I said.

“It’s a long shot,” she said, “but any chance you ever knew my sister Claire?” Then she told me all about her sister.

Well, as luck would have it. I did know her sister! She was the intern coordinator that picked me up at National Airport when I went to D.C. for the first time as a congressional intern.

Naturally, that led to a conversation and by the time we left the bathroom, we were like old friends. As we walked out, she stopped and gave me a big hug.

I saw Doug standing by the baggage chute shaking his head. 

“How does that always happen?” He asked. 

He swears men never talk in bathrooms. He says it’s almost verboten. So, he finds this bathroom friendliness baffling.

One morning while I was walking in Northern Virginia, a woman pulled up next to me in her SUV, and said, “Hey, you look like someone that would be fun to walk with. Mind if I join you?”

I was surprised, but, I said yes.

“I live just around the corner. I’ll run home and change my clothes,” she said.

I approached her driveway and she invited me into her home. I naively followed her inside. (After all, she was a mom in an SUV in a residential neighborhood. How dangerous could she be?) She scampered up the stairs to change her clothes, leaving me standing in her living room, which was more like a carefully curated art gallery than a normal living room.

“Make yourself at home. I have art everywhere — on all three floors. Feel free to check it out. Cold water bottles are in the fridge!”

After a few minutes, she came bounding down the steps, and off we went on our walk. 

Over the pandemic, I went shopping and one of the salesladies struck up a conversation with me about everything she’d been through during the pandemic. 

She hadn’t been able to see her parents, and then, her mother suddenly died! She was so heartbroken as she explained how crushing it was for her dad, and how hard it was for her to accept that her mother was gone and that she hadn’t been able to see her because of the pandemic. I listened and sympathized. 

Then, later, she gave me a bouquet of flowers and a box of chocolates with a note about how much she appreciated being able to share her loss with me and how I felt like a friend to her. 

I told Sara and Annie, and they said, “Well, of course, she did! Who else has these kinds of things happen to them?”

I was at a hair salon recently — now admittedly, women often over-share in salons — but I learned everything about a woman I’d never met — her mommy makeover, her rough bout with COVID, and how everything smells like garbage to her now. Every morsel of food smells like it came out of a smelly garbage can. I learned about her kids, her husband, a recent flood in their house, and more. 

When I got home and told Doug all about this terrible tale, he shook his head (a common gesture) and said, “You learned all that while you were getting your haircut?” He swears men never talk to each other in barbershops.

Maybe I can blame (or credit) my parents for this gift of gab if I can even call it that.

The saying that “there are no strangers, just friends we haven’t met yet.,” applied to them.

My dad once met some dancers from New Zealand who were in town for a folk dance festival. By the end of their conversation, he had invited them all over for a barbecue. 

He once went on a fishing trip and stayed in a rustic lodge in the Tetons and met a man from Washington, D.C. who was shocked that my dad was a milkman. “You mean, you leave milk on doorsteps?” He couldn’t believe that there were small towns that still had milkmen, and he wondered what that must be like to just walk out on your porch and get your cold milk and dairy products. My dad decided to surprise him by finding out his room number and leaving cold milk products on his doorstep for him to find early that morning. Voila. Instant friends.

To my kids, friends, and husband who tease me about this becoming-friends-with-strangers- thing, remember this wise adage: every good friend was once a stranger. Think on that for a minute, and maybe you too will start coming out of public restrooms, hair salons, and retail outlets with new friends.

Family, Friends, Personal

We all need a Shelia!

I had a sweet experience last week visiting my mom’s friend and neighbor, Shelia, who was my mom’s walking partner for over 30 years.

Mom and Shelia

Now, I’ve had some good walking partners but never one with that kind of consistency or longevity.

Thirty years of walks five days a week is remarkable — especially with someone who is not just your walking companion but your confident, counselor, and cherished friend.

My mom and Shelia covered a lot of territory over the years — in actual miles and in ideas, words, and heartfelt sharing

I visited Shelia to gather some of her memories of my mom, knowing she would have a unique perspective on her as a long-time friend.

Shelia invited me into her living room and as we settled in for a good visit, I turned on a voice recorder and started asking her questions. I wanted to know everything — what was Mom like as a friend? What were her priorities in life? What funny experiences did you have together? What would you say were her strengths? How did she get through her many trials?

I wanted to know as much as I could in the time we had together.

Not only did I learn some good stories about my mom, I felt like without even trying, Shelia welcomed me into the warm, intimate space of their unique friendship.

I actually felt sad to leave because I didn’t want the sweetness of that experience to end. I’ve always known Shelia to be wise, spiritual, creative, and smart, and I’ve appreciated her role in my mom’s and my family’s life. But while sitting with her in her living room, I felt some of what my mom must have felt to have her as a friend, and the word that kept coming to my mind was “lucky.”

My mom was one lucky woman to have had a friend like Shelia, and Shelia was lucky to have had a friend like my mom.

While I might not have a Shelia that lives around the corner that I can walk and talk face-to-face with every day, I have many other friends that have walked the miles with me.

I walked for years with my friend, Laura, in Virginia. After we both moved, we were sad that our walking ritual had to end. We too covered a lot of territory — not just on the paths and streets of Northern Virginia but in each other’s lives.

When she and her husband were called to serve a three-year mission for our church, I went to hear them speak before they left. As I approached Laura to tell her goodbye and wish her well on her mission, her husband stopped me and said, “If I were you, I’d just walk out that door, go to your car and leave.”

What he meant was that he knew it was about to get ugly, and I should just cut my losses and leave before Laura and I broke down in messy tears. We survived the three years, and now we are surviving the thousands of miles between us, but the fiber of the friendship is still there, and it gives me a little taste of what it might have been like for my mom and Shelia with their long history as walking partners.

Every morning, at 5:45, they met at the corner and canvassed the town, and as they walked, they talked about everything on their minds and in their hearts.

As Shelia told me her memories of Mom, I realized she knew everything about our family. There were no secrets between them. She knew every heartbreak and every triumph in my mother’s life – down to the oft-repeated detail that I was my mother’s hardest child to raise.

I told Shelia I couldn’t understand why my mother thought I was so difficult to raise. Shelia kindly said, “Well, with children like you, sometimes mothers want to say, ‘Hey, I’m the mother here!”

How could this child be difficult to raise? I mean, really…

Oh, so that’s what she meant…

She said my mom was more than a friend to her. “Sandra was a friend, neighbor, sister, mother, and therapist all in one.”

Not only did they share all their secrets and help each other through their challenges, they had some interesting encounters, like the morning Shelia was attacked by a white owl or when they were almost charged by a deer, or when my mom had some choice words to say at and about barking and unleashed dogs on their walking routes.

She reminded me of my mother’s obsession with neatness. She didn’t like anything to be out of place – her house, her yard, even her hair. She had a short, pixie cut and had to rush to her hair dresser Helen as soon as she felt the slightest bit of growth changing her neatly coiffed style.

Mom hated litter of all kinds. It just made her blood boil. Shelia said as they walked, Mom picked up all the stray bits of trash she saw along the way, and again, probably used some colorful words to describe the despicable people that would dare leave their garbage on her beautiful streets.

She felt a special kind of ownership of Main Street after working on Main at several places over the years — 224 clothing store, Town & Country home decor store, The Book Mark, and the Chamber of Commerce.

As she would say, it “irritates me right to death when they don’t take care of Main Street.” So, when Shelia and Mom walked on Main, Mom felt compelled to pull weeds, and deadhead flowers, and even leave reminders to water the plants!

She didn’t like seeing a dead plant through the window of one of the stores, so she made up a sign that said, “Please water your indoor plant.” Then, she taped it on the store door.

She told Shelia she was going to bring a little shovel and some gardening tools to clean things up along their walk. Shelia said, “I drew the line there, and said, ‘Sandra, we’re NOT doing that.” Shelia was so glad when Mom finally dropped that idea.

She did, however, make up awards for beautiful yards, and leave them on the porches of homes along their travels. She never missed a beautiful garden, a pretty porch, or a well-trimmed lawn! Even when I went home to visit, she would take me on a walk and make herself right at home showing me someone else’s yard.

I thoroughly enjoyed being wrapped in the warmth of Mom and Shelia’s lifelong friendship, and could only imagine what it must have been like for the two of them to see each other daily and “solve the world’s problems,” as my mom always said.

I called my daughter, Annie when I got home, and told her about my experience. She said, “Mom, we need a Shelia!”

As we talked, we realized we have wonderful friends, but our Shelias look different. Our friends are not always living next door or across the street — especially for 30-year stretches. And, our communications are different — more texting, or communicating through social media instead of walking together five times a week.

But, we sure envy and admire the Shelia-Sandra 30-year friendship ideal!

When my mom died, Shelia came to her viewing with a flower arrangement inside of a walking shoe. That said it all. It was a simple, beautiful symbol that captured a friendship that covered a lot of miles and a lot of life experiences.

A perfect symbol of a friendship that covered a lot of miles

Jane Fonda said, “Friendship between women is different than friendship between men. We talk about different things. We delve deep. We go under, even if we haven’t seen each other for years… It’s my women friends that keep starch in my spine and without them, I don’t know where I would be. We have to just hang together and help each other.” 

Shelia and my mom were the starch in each other’s spines, and isn’t that a treasured gift?

Who are the friends in your life that put the starch in your spine?

My visit with Shelia reminded me of the friends who have been and still are my “starch.” They may not fit the Sandra-Shelia standard of meeting at the corner at 5:45 ever day for 30 years but they surely have walked the miles with me.

I was reminded of some of my starch-like friends last week — one that talked to me from across the country about the challenges of parenting adult children, and then getting together with a group of cherished friends I met during my freshman year at college. We are all still walking the miles with each other.

So, thank you Shelia for welcoming me into the sacred space of your friendship with my mom, reminding me of her fun personality, strengths, and wisdom; and for reminding me of the value of friends.

Oh, and for teaching me why I was so difficult to raise, I think I get it now…

Personal

Aging Mindfully

While walking with my friend Keri last weekend, I told her I’m struggling to accept the fact that I’m getting old.

“We’re not old,” she said. “We’re sixty-three and that is not that old.”

The key phrase that jumped out at me was “that old.”

Old, yes, but not “that old.”

I told her I’m trying to embrace aging.

Trying is the key word here.

Until now, I’ve been in outright denial about it.

The pandemic, however, has done an excellent job of reminding me that I am in the “vulnerable population.”

I’ve decided to try harder to gracefully glide into the golden years even though 63 is “not that old” and it doesn’t feel that golden.

My friend Stacy has been telling me we need to “age mindfully.” I’m not even sure what that means but she has been dealing with aging parents and believes we need to be realistic about what’s ahead and have a plan for how we want things to go when we hit certain, shall we say, “milestones?”

A Psychology Today article defines aging mindfully as “aging in a way that doesn’t deny the negatives of getting older but doesn’t blow them up either.” Instead, the author recommends turning the mind to the benefits of aging with “realistic positivity,” which is defined as “seeing and accepting what is—both inside ourselves and in the world—and then shifting our focus to what we would love.”

If I’m going to have to age, which apparently is inevitable, I’m going to opt for the realistic positivity approach.

You may think this is not a revolutionary thought but coming from a woman who thinks she’s a solid 10 years younger than I really am, this is a big step.

I blame others for making me feel old — like the CDC with all that vulnerable population talk. (Aren’t you so sick of the CDC? We went along for years hardly knowing it existed and now, we can’t get through a day without hearing several mentions of it.)

And I certainly can’t forget what I’ve labeled “The Parable of the Irises,” which is a story about that time I ruined my shoulder while GARDENING from pulling out stubborn iris bulbs.

My doctor kindly pointed out that the chances of tearing a rotator cuff are commensurate with your age. If you’re 50, you have a 50 percent chance of it tearing. If you’re 60, you have a 60 percent chance, and up it goes as you age.

So, there’s a helpful piece of aging trivia for you.

I’ve done some deeply embarrassing things during my age-denial phase.

Like the time I ran into someone who claimed we went to high school together.

“No way,” I thought. “We are not the same age. We absolutely did not go to high school together.”

And then — I can’t believe I’m sharing this story — I said these words: “Oh, maybe I went to high school with one of your kids.”

Yes, I did.

I said that.

As soon as the words fell out of my mouth, I felt completely embarrassed and all the blood vessels in my body felt like they were on fire. I wanted to run and hide and never come out again.

My family slinked away in utter humiliation, slowly backing up as if they didn’t know me.

I wish I could say I learned my lesson through that experience, but that would be a lie.

I have been going to a water aerobics class (good therapy for the shoulder) and I told Doug that it’s a class full of oldsters – people who are there to soak and socialize, not exercise.  Then, one day, a lady asked how old I was and after I told her, she spritely said, “Oh, so you’re just six years older than me!”

I think this is called age dysphoria, a condition when people don’t identify with their chronological age.

Scientists claim that 60 is the new middle age. We know that can’t be true because how many people do you know who have lived to be 120?

So, maybe I can blame the scientists, aging experts, and the media for my age denial because they’ve contributed to this idea that I’m much younger than I really am.

Since I’m choosing to age with “realistic positivity,” I need to see and accept “what is.” That is going to require some work.

I also need to focus on what there is to love about this stage of life. The truth is there are so many things. One of them is apparently not caring about what other people think which frees me up to write things like the time I thought I was the same age as my classmate’s child.

Friends

Gregoria Korologos: 87 years was not enough of you

One of my best friends in the world died Monday morning, and even though she was 87 years old, lived the fullest, most fascinating life of anyone I know, and was completely physically worn out, I still feel like she died too soon.

Even 41 years of friendship with the one-and-only Gregoria Korologos wasn’t enough.

I was a young professional on Capitol Hill working for U.S. Senator Jake Garn from Utah when I met the legendary Greg — the proudest Greek, truest American, and most loyal friend I’ve ever known.

Wearing a Kelly green linen suit with matching espadrilles, she was a striking presence with her then- jet black hair, deeply tanned Mediterranean skin, and signature fuchsia lipstick.

She was a powerful, intimidating woman with her booming voice, big personality, style, sophistication, and unmatched humor. My friend MaryJane called her a supernova — an apt description for a woman who was a rare, bright star.

Greg had just been hired as the senator’s new office manager. She wasn’t technically my boss but.. well, she thought she was everyone’s boss. She was older, wiser, and more politically savvy than most everyone else, and she believed we all worked for her.

As the assistant press secretary at the time, I was rushing to finish a press release for some reporters who were waiting in the hall when I heard a loud, long, repeated buzz on the office intercom. (Remember this was in 1980!)

I knew it was Greg because she was the only one who “buzzed” with that kind of drop-everything-and pick-up-the-phone-NOW urgency.

“Hello,” I said hesitantly.

“Get you’re a*# back her NOW,” she ordered.

I walked back to her office, wondering what could be that important.

When I entered her office, she was pounding away on her typewriter, and without even looking at me, she shoved a dollar bill across her desk and said, “Get my coffee — black.”

I was stunned.

Did she just order me into her office with such urgency so that I would get her coffee?

I wasn’t even sure how to respond, but then, probably stupidly, said, “If you want to ask Curt (the press secretary) if he’d rather have me stop writing this press release so that I can go get your coffee, go ahead.”

Then, I turned and walked out of her office.

When I told Curt what had happened, he said, “Well, you might have just ended your Senate career right there.”

Yes, we all thought she had that much power.

A few weeks went by, my job remained intact, and we steered clear of each other. Then, she buzzed me again on the intercom — with her signature style as if it was a life and death emergency, and when I answered, she said, “Wanna go out for a belt?”

“A belt?”

“You know, a drink — like a Tab or whatever Mormons drink!”

I agreed to go, wondering what kind of evening I had in store. We went to the American Café on Capitol Hill and it was an absolute riot like all interactions with Greg would turn out to be. We chatted and laughed for hours. She regaled me with her endless supplies of hilarious, entertaining stories, and we became fast friends.

After we heard the news on Monday morning that Greg had died, Doug asked me if I could imagine what my life would have been like without her.

The question brought me to tears.

“Absolutely not,” I said.

She has been part of every large and small thing that has happened in my life from the time I was 22-years-old — “a kid,” as she always said.

“Your mom might have raised you through childhood, but I raised you in Washington,” she said. There is so much truth in that statement.

Our Capitol Hill lunch bunch — the official Utah State Society with President Korologos at the helm

So, when I think of her not being part of my life, I am filled with immense sadness but also gargantuan gratitude.

How did I get so lucky to cross paths with her?

After that first annoying “buzzing” on the office phone, I never wanted to miss one of her urgent calls because they were always full of surprises like the time she called me and said, “Pack a bag. We’re going to the World Series!” And off we went to New York City to watch the Yankees and the Dodgers — a memory we always savored.

She had a code phrase for playing hooky at work too. If it was going to be a beautiful, sunny day, she’d call and say, “get your gear!” That meant, Joanne, Greg and I were taking a sick day and heading to Rehoboth, Delaware beach for sunshine, Dolly’s caramel popcorn, and shopping at her favorite stores.

Greg taught me to appreciate a handwritten, personal thank you note, a thoughtful gift, and the importance of always returning a phone call. “You’ll never make it in Washington if you don’t return every call,” she said.

She taught me to be a generous tipper, how to navigate around a congressional reception, how to cook and eat an artichoke, appreciate Greek pastries, festivals, and certain choice Greek words! She introduced me to high-end fashion brands I’d never heard of like St. John, Ferragamo, Gucci, and more. She took me in my first limousine ride and said, “Act normal like you do this every day! Don’t let anybody know you’re from Springville, Utah! and that you’ve never been in a limo!”

We went to White House events, Orioles games with front row seats right behind the dugout (Thanks to the generosity of her brother, Tom), Washington National’s games, birthday luncheons, Christmas dinners, Cherry Blossom Festivals, and more. We went to space shuttle launches, election night parties, Junior League Christmas events, St. Patrick’s Day parades, Kennedy Center productions, and even to a palm reader who shocked us both by how much she knew about us.

Greg ready to get a baseball in case one of the players rolled one across the top of the dugout

One night we were in Georgetown, and we walked past an ATM. She asked what it was, and I told her what it was and explained how it worked. “Are you serious? A machine on the streets that spits out cash?” She tried it over and over just because she couldn’t believe it.

There never has been and never will be anybody like Greg again in this life.

As our Garn office Chief of Staff Jeff Bingham said, “There are just so many things I could say about Greg — all of them superlatives and yet still so inadequate.” So absolutely true. She made an indelible impression on everyone she met.

Oh, how I will miss this one-of-a-kind woman

Rest In Peace, Gregoria, my forever friend. I will look forward to seeing you on the other side which surely has already become a more exciting, fun place now that you’re there lighting up its every corner.

I can picture you now holding court with everyone you know, taking your place as heaven’s most popular, entertaining angel, keeping everyone rolling on the floor laughing in the celestial aisles in the skies.

I can hardly wait to see you again because even at 87, you were too young to die.

If you knew Greg or even just knew of her, I’d love to hear your stories. If you knew her, I know you have stories, and I know they are unforgettable because she sure was…