When I was in college a century ago, I spent the summers working to earn money to pay my tuition and living expenses for the coming year.
I spent a few years as a “Dee Dolly” taking hamburger orders for $1.90 an hour. I mastered the skill of suggestive selling, as in “Would you like fries with that burger?” or “Could I make that apple pie à la mode?”
I developed superior suggestive selling skills.
I also worked the graveyard shift at a cherry plant. I sat at a conveyor belt in my lovely hygienic hair net and picked out the random cherry stems or pits before the cherries were dumped into their cans.
I even tried working in a sewing plant. My job was to sew tiny pieces of facing– one piece after another about a zillion times a day. It made me so dizzy I literally ran into the ladies’ room to vomit three days in a row.
Finally, my mom said, “You’re not cut out for that kind of monotonous job. Why make yourself so miserable every day?”
Done. I quit immediately.
Let me show you what Annie is doing this summer:
Am I jealous?
I’d take bungee jumping, safaris, school building and playing with beautiful children any day over picking out cherry stems from a conveyor belt or selling someone a dozen infamous 19-cent Dee burgers.
My first airplane ride was a trip to Detroit to represent the university at a journalism conference.
I’m not really writing my obituary, and I’m not dying.
I am, however, thinking about my eulogy and what I would want somebody to say about me at my funeral.
I know it sounds morbid, but stick with me.
A few days ago, I found out about a tragedy in the family of one of my dearest college friends.
His brother and sister-in-law died in a car accident while their 16-year-old daughter was driving.
She accidentally went off the edge of the highway and struck a road marker, which caused the car to slide sideways and overturn, coming to rest on its wheels in the desert. She and her 19-year-old sister survived the accident. Their 22-year-old sister was not with them on the trip.
Three young girls without their parents.
I attended the funeral yesterday, bracing myself for the depth of sorrow I would feel.
I came away uplifted, inspired, and wishing I had been best friends with or next door neighbors to this amazing family.
When the oldest daughter stood up to speak, I prayed silently for her to have the strength to get through her remarks.
She stood behind the microphone, looked out at the many friends and family that filled the church, and gave one of the most eloquent talks I’ve ever heard at a funeral.
I couldn’t believe she could stand there so poised and articulate at what had to be the worst moment of her young life.
One of the first quotes she shared was from LDS President Thomas S. Monson, “Choose your love and love your choice.”
She said that quote summarized her parents’ love for each other.
She spoke of a parents who never missed a game, concert, award ceremony or graduation; a father who made up sappy jokes that kept them all laughing, and a mother that cheered so loud and got so riled at the refs that she nearly got ejected from more than one game.
She remembers her mom laughing all the time, her dad giving what little money he had to someone else when it seemed like they needed it more.
She concluded by saying the best gift her parents ever gave her was their LDS Temple marriage which gave her hope that she and her sisters would be with them again as a family.
The bishop that presided at the funeral did not know the couple and their children, but he knew their extended family.
He said, “I didn’t need to know this couple because their last name tells me all I need to know about them.”
I left thinking about my own funeral and how I would like it to be just like that one.
I want people to know me by my last name because I have lived up to the honor, character, integrity and legacy of faith that is symbolized in my family name.
I want people to say of me what they said of this couple — that everybody that knew them felt like they were their best friends; and that everyone that ever spent time with them left feeling better about themselves.
I know funerals can be sad and depressing, but they can also be full of hope, strength and perspective.
Even though I didn’t personally know this couple, I know them now from the beautiful tributes I heard about them yesterday.
It made me think about what I want people to say about me when I die.
How can I live to earn the kinds of tributes I heard yesterday? How can I be as good as Kendall and Rebecca?
While it might seem morbid, imagine sitting in the pew at your own funeral.
Are you confident you would like what you might hear?
I want people to say of me what they said about this remarkable, loving couple.
That inspires me to be a better mother, daughter, wife, sister, and friend.
My day is not complete without a crossword puzzle.
It gets my brain warmed up for the day and makes me believe I won’t get Alzheimer’s.
Sometimes I flip to the crossword puzzle before I even glance at the front page headlines.
Yes, Egypt’s interim leader may have picked a new premier and deputy.
But, what is the theme of today’s crossword puzzle?
I get excited on the weekends when I see the fat Sunday newspaper at the end of the driveway because I know the Washington Post magazine is rolled up inside of all that newsprint and the Sunday crossword puzzle is just waiting in their for me — all those empty little boxes waiting to be filled with words.
I love the odd little clues that get my brain spinning. I love trying to figure out the quirky themes.
Today, while I’m flipping to the last page of the Washington Post’s Style section to work on the crossword puzzle, I glance at my horoscope.
Today it says, “Thinking can create as many problems as it solves. There’s a point at which it’s wise to stop with the thoughts and start with the feelings. Don’t let your mind drown out the wisdom in your body and soul.”
After reading that, I think,“I should probably ponder that.”
But, isn’t pondering thinking? And isn’t the point of the horoscope to stop me from thinking so much?
Maybe I shouldn’t proceed to the crossword puzzle because it requires so much thinking.
Maybe I should let myself feel for a few minutes.
But, I can’t ignore the puzzle because then I’ll get Alzheimer’s.
Oh, to stop thinking.
To slow the brain and calm the mind.
To let the wisdom in my body and soul rule and reign.
What a lovely, lofty concept.
I’ve read things about how our bodies store all of our experiences and how they tell the stories of our lives.
Every part of us is written upon our bodies — all that we do and are is written in our bones, hearts and entire physical anatomy.
That must mean there is a lot of wisdom stored in our bodies.
So, if we rely too much on our ever thinking brains, we really do drown out what’s stored in our souls.
I need to tap into all that stored up wisdom.
My horoscope is a good reminder for me today.
Don’t just think, feel.
It comes more naturally to some than others.
I’m in the “others” group — as in the group that trusts thinking more than feeling.
(That’s why Doug and I are such a good match. He’s a strong feeler and I’m a strong thinker. Together we achieve balance.)
Because of my astrological reading, today, I’m going to be cognizant of this personality trait and focus a little more on letting the wisdom of my body and soul guide me.
For some people, it’s probably a good idea to engage the brain a little more; inject a little practicality and mental acuity into your life.
For me, it’s the opposite.
I am going to be led by my feelings today.
Oh dear, the brain is protesting.
It is shouting, “Stop writing this blog about feelings and get to your long list of things to do today.”
Feelings, are you there?
C’mon. Rise up to where I can perceive you.
Start sending all those sensations and emotions that are supposed to guide me today.
Soul? Are you there?
Speak to me.
Wait a minute…
I think I feel something.
I feel a message floating up like in the movies when the message in a bottle washes up to the shore.
I’m opening the bottle; unrolling the scroll; reading the message.
Feelings are speaking!
Enjoy the moment, they say.
Write as much as you want.
Forget the “to do” list.
And there is more:
Nudge Annie out of bed and ask her what she wants to do today; then do it.
She leaves for Africa in a few days, and you will miss having her home.
The wisdom of my soul is guiding me.
I feel it!
I am going to savor the time with Annie.
Thank you feelings for bubbling up and clouding my brain’s thinking.
I’m so glad I could feel my way to this conclusion.
I did feel it, right? Or did I think it?
Clearly, I need to keep working on this goal of letting the wisdom in my body and soul guide me.
Now that I’ve finished the crossword puzzle, I can probably take it a little more seriously.
He is a group of 100 survivors who visit Maryland’s public schools every year.
“I look at the students and wonder if they believe me. It is so inconceivable…but, I cannot forget what happened.”
He gives about 40 talks every year about the Holocaust.
“Do I get tired of it?” He asked. “Yes! But, I have to keep doing it to remember.”
Not only does he want the world to remember the Holocaust, he needs to remind himself “that evil didn’t win.”
Twenty members of his family were killed, including his mom and sisters.
When he was a little boy, his world changed overnight.
When he approached his best friend at school to say hello, his friend spat in his face because suddenly he hated Jews.
When he told his mom about what had happened at school, she said, “Wash your face and forget about it. He didn’t kill you.”
After all these years, there is still disbelief in his voice and sorrow in his eyes.
He goes to the Holocaust Museum and looks at the display of shoes of Holocaust victims and wonders if any of them belonged to his mother or his sisters.
At this same event, former Virginia Governor and U.S. Senator George Allen, spoke about his mother, Henrietta Lumbroso Allen.
Just before her death, she shared the Jewish heritage she had kept secret all of her life.
She was so afraid of discrimination that she never told anybody — not even her children — about her life as a Jew in Tunisia, North Africa.
As the generation of Holocaust survivors dwindle, there was a kind of urgent yearning and sad plea hanging in the room of survivors and families of survivors, begging the world not to forget.
After the program, I visited with some of the survivors and their families.
I thanked a beautiful, graying woman for her tender remarks and she looked into my eyes with a sorrow that made me want to cry and said, “I’m just so worried that after I die and the others of my generation die, people will forget. We can never forget! Promise me, you won’t forget.”
As much as we would like to wipe our minds of such horrors, we shouldn’t.
Remembering keeps the fight against discrimination alive. It keeps freedom at the forefront.
Last week I attended an Inter-religious Prayer Gathering for Religious Freedom at the Saint Thomas More Cathedral in Arlington.
I savored the spirit of unity that was there as Catholics, Buddhists, Mormons, Anglicans, Lutherans, Hindus and Muslims prayed and sang “America the Beautiful” together.
Together, we offered thanks for the gift of freedom and prayed for an end to persecution and discrimination on the basis of religion throughout the world.
I couldn’t help but remember Leo Bretholz, the Holocaust survivor, the beautiful graying woman, and others that asked us to never forget.
To Leo and the others, I remember!
I hope this reminder will spur others on to remember too.
I know I blog about my mom often.
Mostly, because she’s smart and funny and provides me with good material.
But, also, because I love her. A lot. And, I want to remember as much as I can about her.
Writing about her helps me do that.
While we were at the beach in March getting the house ready for the busy rental season, I asked her what advice she’d like to pass on to her grandchildren.
Without hesitation, she said three things:
1. Run. That’s right, run. Runners are passionate athletes and take good care of their bodies. If you don’t like to run, find another physical activity you enjoy and do it everyday. Forever.
While Mom has never been a runner, she is an avid walker. Five days a week at 6 a.m., she meets her best friend and neighbor, Shelia, at the corner and they walk. They often walk home on Main Street and notice everything, including that city has the ugliest flowers in the world in big, bulky pots all the way down the sidewalks. “They’re a mess,” she said. “They never take care of the flowers, and they look a sight.” This is coming from a woman who can’t tolerate one weed in her flowerbeds.
While she loves her morning walks, if she could rewind the clock, she’d run instead of walk. “Start with walking and pick it up a little more every day until you can run. Then, don’t stop. Run everyday. Be passionate about it. You’ll never regret it.”
2. Cut out the junk food, today! Don’t let all the garbage that has found its way into our grocery stores be part of your regular diet. Develop healthy eating habits while you’re young, and keep it up for the rest of your life. Your health is too important. If you eat poorly now. You’ll develop habits that will be hard to break, and you’ll regret it.
3. Pray. Pray. Pray. It’s what’s helped her get through her life’s toughest challenges. You can’t do it alone, she said. Everybody needs to pray. Then, get involved and stay involved in a church. An unstructured religious or spiritual life doesn’t work. You need to be part of a church community.
If we followed her example, there are few other things we would do too. One of them is read. She reads the Salt Lake Tribune every morning, never misses a day. And, she plows through more books than nearly anybody I know. When she tosses off some bit of knowledge that surprises us, someone always says,” How do you know that?”
“I read,” she says.
And there you have it — good, practical advice from a great woman who knows a lot of stuff.
I hope my kids, nieces and nephews will listen up.