The pictures on this entry are from our family reunions in Douglas in 1992 and 1997. My mom had four brothers and two sisters. Growing up we spent a lot of time with my cousins who lived in Phoenix. Their dad, Matt, was my mother's brother. We would come up to Phoenix from Douglas for the weekend quite often. During the summers, my cousins would spend time in Douglas. Through the years I feel as though we have always been close. Our kids grew up together as cousins and friends. For many years it was only Cecilia and Jay and their family and Yaya and Tony who lived in Phoenix. We would see everyone on holidays and other times. Several years ago, my cousin, Pat, and her family moved back to Arizona after her husband, Phil, retired from working for the federal government. I feel as though they are more my sisters than my cousins and I know that I could call any of them at anytime and they would do anything to help me, as I would do for them.
We usually do all holidays together and any other kind of celebration. We don't even need a reason to get together. It seems that I always have a funny story to tell from something that has happened at school. Phil, in particular, always loves my stories. I think that he finds it hard to believe that some of the things happen, and they do!! Every now and then, we have dinner at Yaya's house with just our generation, so we can share stories.
A few weeks ago, something really funny happened and I wanted to call Phil right away to tell him about it. I didn't call him because I wasn't sure how he was feeling. You see, Phil has been diagnosed with cancer and the outlook isn't very good. I had mentioned this in an earlier blog when we went to Knock. I had gotten some Knock water for him and said a special prayer for him when we were in Knock.
This past week, we received some very bad news about Phil. The chemo didn't do what it was intended to do and the cancer had progressed to a point where it was decided to bring in Hospice.
I called early in the afternoon today to see if it was okay for us to come and visit so I could tell him my story and we could see how he is doing. Phil answered the phone and sounded quite good. When I asked him how he was, he answered with "I'm not dead yet." We laughed and I asked if we could come over to see him so that I could tell him the latest story. So Judy, Kerri, Cameron and I went to see Phil.
When we got there, it was just Pat and Phil. He was in wonderful spirits and we were able to laugh about many things. He loved my story! He had an email printed out that was from another cousin in San Francisco to Pat. She is getting married some time in the near future. He wanted her to know that he was going to be cremated and he wanted to make sure Pat took some ashes with her to the wedding because he didn't "want to miss her wedding." Another time for laughs and smiles........
He has an incredible outlook on everything. Two of his children and their families live here. A son and his family live in Denver and are here now. His daughter and two grandchildren are on their way from Ohio. His youngest son will be here later this week.
Kerri has had a special bond with Phil. She is able to talk to him about many things. She has been especially sad about this news.
It is so difficult to see so many people that I love and respect leaving us, even if it is for a better place. Phil feels as though he is headed to a better place. He talked about that today.
I can tell you that the world and our family has been a "better place" because of Phil. He was an only child and I can't imagine what it must have been like to join our large, boisterous family. He is a gentle, unassuming family man who is loved by his wife, his children, his grandchildren, and all of the myriad of relatives in the Scott family.
God Speed, Phil. We all love you!!
Saturday, April 26, 2008
Posted by Cheela at 5:21 PM
Thursday, April 24, 2008
Two years ago this month our community suffered a tragedy that had never happened before. Rob Targosz was killed by a drunk driver. He was the first Gilbert Police Officer killed in the line of duty.
I will never forget the day I found out. I was in
I had gotten to know Rob when he took a graduate class from me through NAU. It was the first class that I taught and I had mostly police officers and a couple of teachers. What an experience that was!!!! Rob, Ric, and Steve were the Gilbert Policemen in the class. There were officers from
I remember the day that the Town of
In addition, our sixth graders started a
A few weeks ago, I read an article in the
I was asked to write a guest editorial for the local newspaper last April. I am including it here.
Five years ago this summer, I had the honor of getting to know Officer Rob Targosz because he was a student in a leadership class that I was teaching for
I never thought much about their daily lives before that class. That summer, a police officer from
I also learned what an honorable human being Rob Targosz was. I remember him talking about “doing the right thing” and not asking for credit for doing it. I remember his caring and passion for his profession and the difference that he knew he made each day.
Rob kept in touch with me after the class. He came to Gilbert Elementary and worked with our students on science projects. He shared how much he loved science because of his dad. I believe it is so good for our children to view police officers in different roles.
It is great to know that our town is in the process of raising funds for the Gilbert Public Safety Memorial to honor our police and firefighters. I believe that the memorial is very important, as our police officers and firefighters who make sure that all citizens are safe each and every day of the year. Their jobs have the potential of being extremely dangerous. Our society looks up to athletes, musicians, and actors who make millions of dollars. I believe that the people who go to work day in and day out in for the betterment of our society (including educators) should be our heroes. We need to recognize and honor these wonderful professions.
The children in the
Every day heroes, like Rob Targosz, are what make Gilbert such an incredible community in which to live. I am proud to say I am a resident of
Rob Targosz was truly an incredible human being!!! Our world is a better place because of him. What a legacy he has left to our community!!
Posted by Cheela at 9:21 PM
Saturday, April 19, 2008
Our family has always been close and always finds a way to get together for joyous and for sad times. Several years ago my cousin, Jan, said that we all needed to go to the fun events such as weddings and anniversaries, not just the sad ones. I think that we have done that and done it well. I have been to so many fun family events over the last many years, not just the sad ones.
I have a dear friend, Emilie, who lives in Northern Arizona. Emilie was a teacher at my school and my neighbor before she moved up north. Over the years I have been to many of her family gatherings and have been amazed how much her family is like ours with all of the cousins, aunts, and uncles being a part of so many events. Emilie's family is originally from Spain and all of her aunts and uncles are tios and tias.
When Emilie was still my neighbor, her parents would come from California to visit. They always brought her Tio Nino from Flagstaff. Her parents were always so friendly and so welcoming and always made me feel like part of the family. They particularly loved my theme song "Tequila Sheila." Her Tio Tony and Tia Edith from Flagstaff also loved this song. I had to make them a copy and that is what they always called me. Our families had a connection even before I met Emilie as my cousins, Tony and Yaya, were friends with several of her family members from up in Flagstaff.
Cameron and I drove up to Flagstaff Friday morning to attend Emilie's dad's funeral. Her mom died last June and I was unable to go up at that time. The service was beautiful with many tributes to her father. Many of Emilie's friends who didn't know her dad that well, said that they were grateful to him because of what a great person Emilie is. I agree! So many people talked about his warmth and welcoming personality, his big smile, his telling of stories, and his love for family. Anytime family could get together was a time for a party! It was a beautiful service and a tribute to a wonderful family man. Both Emilie and her brother spoke at the end. Emilie used the words from my favorite children's book, "The Last Dance" by Carmen Agra Deedy. This is a beautiful story of the life cycle and the family. In the book, the grandfather tells his grandchildren that every human being has the right to three things:
but whether one is willing to dance at all.
To Sing. Even if you sing off-key. The crow has as much right
to a voice as the nightingale.
To Tell Stories. Those we love are never really gone
as long as their stories are told.
I know that next many months will be difficult for Emilie and her family. They will miss their wonderful parents as their lives go on from day to day.
Tom Brokaw speaks of our parents' generation as being "The Greatest Generation." So many of these great people are gone from our lives. We need to remember to tell their stories to the younger generation. Those we know are never really gone as long as their stories are told.
And so, my dear friend, here is an Irish Blessing for you and your family:
When the road you walk is dark.
May you always hear
Even in your hour of sorrow,
The gentle singing of the lark.
When times are hard may hardness
Never turn your heart to stone,
May you always remember
When the shadows fall--
You do not walk alone.
Posted by Cheela at 4:12 PM
Thursday, April 17, 2008
My two adult children always make fun and tease me. However, behind that teasing is a lot of love. I think that their humor is their way of saying that they care. They both knew how sad I was when I had to have my Ellie dog put to sleep in November. We were all absolutely heartbroken about our little Blanca. So they did something for me that means so much. They didn't want me to be without that unconditional love, especially these last several weeks of the school year. They know how rough it can be. So Patrick found another little black girl pug and they got her for me. I felt a bit guilty at first because it was so quick. I was looking at different websites and I found something that I really like. It says "Don't think of the new pet as a "replacement" for your previous pet. You don't replace relationships; you build new ones. Your new pet will be a companion with whom you build an entirely new set of memories and experiences." And that has already happened!
I really wanted to name her something meaningful and I found a great name. It is "Lucia" which in Spanish means Light Bringer. This girl dog chases away the darkness. And she already has done this. She actually has papers. I have never had a dog with papers. So I guess when/if I send them in, she will have to have a formal name. I think Lucia is fairly formal, but I may try to add some more names just because she has PAPERS!! I am calling her Lucy. She has a little white spot on her chest and she is absolutely darling. We have already bonded and "I LOVE LUCY!"
Posted by Cheela at 4:35 PM
Sunday, April 13, 2008
I just got back from a quick trip to Douglas this weekend. On Thursday, Teresa talked to Mary and Mary told her she wasn't feeling just right. Teresa wanted to get back to Douglas right away when she heard this. We had planned on going down to see Mary next weekend because we have a three day weekend, but decided to take Teresa down on Friday. We left as soon as we could get away from school. Teresa, Judy, and I , along with Judy's two teenagers, went down. I wanted to get the holy water from Knock in Ireland to her as soon as possible.
Judy had spoken to Mary's niece and she asked Judy if she would talk to Mary about some things that they were having a difficult time doing. Since Judy was a hospice social worker, she is able to to talk about topics that are so sensitive. I'm glad it was not me, because that is absolutely something I cannot do.
Saturday morning the three of us went to see Mary. She is now staying at her sister's house. It was very difficult for me to see her as she looks so gaunt and so sick. I want to remember her in happier times like these pictures. However, she was in a very "chipper" mood and was so glad to see us.
To describe in words what Mary means to me is not easy. Mary has been a part of my life forever. There was never a time when she hasn't been there. In this day and age of people moving from place to place and job to job, and relationship to relationship, Mary's story is amazing.
I have always known the story about how Mary came to our family. I talked to Teresa about it yesterday to make sure that I had the facts straight. In 1946, my aunt, Dot, had just had twin girls. She had two other very small children. She was coming for an extended visit to Douglas. My grandfather felt that some help was needed in the house so that Dot could get some rest. So he asked Teresa to try to find someone. Teresa contacted a lady who had done some housework for them and she said she had a younger sister who was looking for work. She told her that she didn't speak any English. So Mary, age about 15, arrived at the house and has never left.
Throughout my childhood, she was there every day to take care of us. She cleaned the house, did the laundry, disciplined us, and loved us dearly, as we did her. Many of my cousins spent summers in Douglas and Mary did the same for them. I mentioned in an earlier blog that I never ate lunch at school because we always came home to lunch that Mary fixed for us.
When we spent summers in Douglas when my kids were little, she was there for them, too. By that time, she only worked at our house three days a week and worked for the parish priest the other two. My mom and Teresa made sure that she had health insurance through the church and always paid social security for her. I learned so much from having Mary as part of our family. I learned how important it is to treat people who work for you with dignity and respect which is what my mom and Teresa did. They made sure that she had a retirement account and insurance. I learned that no matter what job anyone does to make a house (or organization) work, it is important and should be respected.
One of my favorite stories about Mary that we have laughed with her over the years was how she potty trained Patrick. He will probably not be thrilled that I put this in, but I am not sure he reads my blog anyway. He was two and a half and was still not potty trained and wasn't interested in being potty trained. I had tried, but to no avail so I just gave up and figured some day he would decide it was important. We would go to Douglas for the summer as soon as school was out. There is a small built in pool in the backyard that my uncle, Johnny, built for us one summer. I remember hearing a bunch of commotion outside and Mary speaking very firmly to Patrick. She had the the hose and was hosing him down without his swimming trunks on and speaking to him very firmly about not being potty trained. From that day forward, Patrick no longer needed diapers!!!
During those summers, Mary taught me how to make green and red chili meat and beans. I was telling her yesterday that I recently fixed over 100 pounds of roast into green chili for our school carnival. It is Mary's recipe that has been such a hit at our school carnival for so many years. But her recipe for love is what has meant the most. I know that she has loved Judy and me unconditionally. She has also loved our kids as well as so many of our cousins just as she would have her own children. Mary never married and dedicated her life to our family. She also has many nieces and nephews who love her dearly.
After she retired, she continued to come to the house several days a week for various reasons. She continued to do the laundry, to fix lunch, to help Teresa with my mom for those few years, and to be a part of our family. She took care of the house while Teresa was up here in the valley. When we went to Douglas, the first thing she did was come over and make tortillas for us. There are no better tortillas than Mary's!!! I missed those tortillas this weekend.
Two years ago, her nieces and nephews gave her a surprise party for her 75th birthday and we were all able to be a part of that.
I am so glad that we went to see her this weekend. I know that she is at peace. I was amazed that she and Judy were able to talk about her wishes for a funeral and where to be buried. At one point, she looked over at me and laughed and said something about me not being able to talk about these things. She knew that I was having a hard time holding it together. How well she knows me!!
Teresa is staying in Douglas for awhile. I know it is because she wants to be there if Mary needs anything. If any of our cousins want to send a card to Mary, just send it to Teresa and she will make sure that she gets it. As I said, Mary is at peace and is accepting of her illness. I know it is because of the life she has lead and her faith. She had such a huge part in raising Judy and I and I thank her for all of that she gave us. Mary has very little in the way of material possessions, but she more than makes us for that with her gentle spirit and her gift of love. Our family is blessed to have had her as part of it for almost 63 years!
We went to say good-bye to her this morning before we left. I know that we will get back down there again soon, as Kerri and Patrick want to go to see her.
There are so many recipes in the world. I am glad I learned how to make such great Mexican food from Mary. But her recipe for love is something I wish everyone could follow every day. Mary is an incredible lady without much education or worldly goods, but what she has given to our family can never be measured by a cup of this or a tablespoon of that.
Posted by Cheela at 4:31 PM
Thursday, April 10, 2008
I have been promising the picture from St. Patrick's Day in Limerick so I think today will be the day. Some humor is needed in my life right now, that is for sure!
But first, I must share a story that happened many, many years ago when my children were quite young. At the time, I wasn't able to get out much between teaching and taking care of two young children. My friend, Mary, and I decided that we would go out one Friday evening to see if we could have some fun. I saved money for a bit so that I could pay a babysitter and the Friday evening finally arrived. Mary and I got all "gussied up" for a night on the town! Were we ever excited for this adventure!! We arrived at our destination all ready to have some fun. As we sat down and ordered our drinks, we noticed that there were a lot of "little people" in the establishment. Now, we weren't in Ireland at the time, so they definitely weren't leprechauns. We didn't pay much attention to it until the night progressed. Mary is just a little bit taller than I am and we were the "Belles of the Ball" that evening. We were constantly asked to dance and dance we did until we figured out that maybe these short men might not have the best of intentions.
Through the years, this story has been told and embellished by Mary and I--kind of our own urban legend. One night not that long ago, we sat at Judy's table and told this story to my aunt, Teresa, and my kids and we laughed and laughed. So when I was in Ireland and the "leprechaun" asked me to dance and Patrick saw this, he knew my history, so to speak. Hence, the picture was taken, although he probably would have taken it anyway. This leprechaun had imbibed many beverages that evening and it was very obvious. I told him that I didn't want to dance, but he wasn't going to take "no" for an answer. He danced with me as I sat. When you see this picture, please realize that I am sitting in a fairly low seat. He looks taller than me, but trust me.........he wasn't!! After laughing with Patrick, I immediately called my friend, Mary, to tell her about it. It was about 11:00 in Ireland which would have made it about 4:00 in Arizona. Mary's answering machine picked up, but as soon as I started to leave the message, she picked up the phone. Did we ever have a laugh about this!! This St. Patrick's Day adventure will live on and be retold many times with laughter and smiles!
Humor is a much needed antidote to the everyday world. We all need to remember that and laugh!
I hope this entry brings a smile to your face!! It has to mine!
Posted by Cheela at 7:38 PM
Wednesday, April 9, 2008
I have been overwhelmed the past few days with all of the kindness, cards, words of comfort, emails, the comments on this blog from so many at my school and some other dear friends. There was even a beautiful bouquet of roses today from a teacher and her son who is a former student. It has been unbelievable and I cannot begin to thank them. I hope that they know how much it has meant to me.
I feel fortunate to be a part of such a wonderful place to go to work each day with a group of people who truly care about each other.
Thank you doesn't seem like enough, but I will say it anyway, "THANK YOU SO MUCH!"
Posted by Cheela at 9:44 PM
Monday, April 7, 2008
Writing must be therapeutic for me and I really need some of that right now. I don't even know how to begin this entry. Last night we put the solar cover on the pool. I have been worried about this because Blanca has no fear. I had to go to a doctor's appointment this morning, and I had this apprehensive feeling before I left. I decided to stop home before going back to school because I had this feeling. Blanca didn't meet me at the door like she always does. Pedro and Pancho were there. I called and called her and she didn't come. I was so scared to go look in the pool, but knew that I had to do this. My worst fears came true. My little Blanca was at the bottom of the pool. I know she could have gotten out if the cover wasn't on it. I was so upset I called Patrick's principal and asked her to get him to come home which she did right away. Thank you, Barb, for you kindness and understanding even though this was "just a pet." He got her out of the pool and took her body to our vet. I just couldn't do that. Patrick called Kerri and Judy. I hesitated to call Kerri because I knew she had to make it through the rest of the day. But we knew she needed to know so that she could tell Cameron when she picks him up today. Judy had her lunch break and came over right away. I had called my Barb and told her that I couldn't come back to school today. I remember when Judy does her talk to my NAU classes on grief and about the difference between grief when you know someone is dying and have time to prepare and when it is sudden. When my mom was on hospice, I had time to think about what the outcome was going to be. I don't think it made it easier, but there was much time to think and prepare. The day to day living afterwards is not any easier and I still miss her every day. Not that there is any comparison here. When I had to have Ellie put to sleep, I saw her decline and new that it was the most humane thing to do. But this feeling is awful. I know there is nothing we could have done. But I am getting rid of the pool cover. It is absolutely not worth it to have the pool cover. I know she would have been able to get out if the cover wasn't on.
Kerri and Cameron just came in. Kerri's teammates at her school told her she needed to come home. She stopped in to talk to our social worker and she recommended she get Cameron and bring him home. Needless to say, he is devastated. Thank you to Kerri's teammates for this and to the school secretary and her principal.
Pedro and Pancho know there is something wrong, especially Pancho. He and Blanca loved each other dearly. Yesterday I bought a new camera. I was playing with it and took a couple of pictures of her. I know there are some people out there who think this was only a dog. But dogs become such a part of a family. I wrote about both Ellie and the pugs recently because they have brought us so much joy and laughter to our lives.
I love poetry and quotes. I was looking for something to add to this blog, but could only find poems and quotes about the death of an old dog. But I did find this and I think it sums up my feelings very well.
If you have a dog, you will most likely outlive it; to get a dog is to open yourself to profound joy and, prospectively, to equally profound sadness.
My little black girl pug, Blanca, even in these short months has been such a comfort to me. I thank her for being so excited to see me when I got home, for sitting on my lap each night, and even for her nonstop licking!! She was definitely my dog. To say I feel sad is an understatement!!!!!!!
Posted by Cheela at 1:00 PM
Wednesday, April 2, 2008
So we went to dinner at a bar and grill close to our house. For some reason, Teresa was even more sentimental tonight than I have seen her in a long time. It may have to do with Mary's health. I don't know. She said something tonight that I haven't heard her say for awhile. She said she wished my mom could have been with us. As we were leaving, she said that she was teary because she was the only one left. I can't imagine what it would be like to be the last surviving sibling, but I do know that we are very fortunate to have Teresa in our lives!
Teresa is the last one of the seven Scott brothers and sisters. She is truly the matriarch of our family. She goes to every family event. My cousins are wonderful to her and always make sure that she is given a special place in whatever family event we are participating in.
Last summer, we celebrated her 85th birthday. Over 100 relatives braved the Arizona summer to be here for a weekend in July. They came to honor this incredible lady who loves each and every one of us unconditionally. Her comment was that her brothers and sisters had done something right with all of these wonderful nieces and nephews.
In my life I don't think I have ever or will ever encounter a person more loving or giving than Teresa. As I said, she always sees the best in people and in every situation. Our family and our many friends are blessed to have her in our lives. Anyone who knows her will agree, I am sure.
Thank you, Teresa, for your kindness, your faith, and your absolute support and love!!!!!!
Posted by Cheela at 9:17 PM
Tuesday, April 1, 2008
I think we now have "pugmania" at our house! Cameron has a pug that he named Pedro that he got in April, 2006. My cousin, Yaya, has a pug named Mo who is so cute and Cameron just loved him when we were over at her house. Our friends in Tucson, Dennis and Janet, always had pugs and absolutely love them. Once we got Pedro we experienced first hand why people love pugs. Pedro doesn't have any papers, hence the name Pedro as he is an undocumented pug!
Patrick got a pug for his birthday and his name is Pancho. Pancho is quite a character. I love both of these dogs, but still missed my Ellie dog very much.
So............For Christmas, Kerri, Cameron, and Patrick got me a little black girl pug and I named her Blanca. She is so cute and very independent. The only problem I have with her is that she doesn't want to get housebroken. The other two were very easy, but not little Blanca!!! She makes up for it, though. She sits on my lap every evening when I get home and is always so excited to see me.
Needless to say, our house is lively. The three pugs are non-stop entertainment.
We still have, Kareem, Kerri's 15 year old chow. He is not very fond of the pugs, but puts up with them. Blanca loves Kareem and I think maybe he likes her, too. He was very lonesome after Ellie died.
Over spring break, Kerri took the pugs when she went to Douglas to bring Teresa up here. Teresa was telling us a story about one day when Kerri and Cameron were gone and she fell. She said the pugs were very concerned, especially Pancho, who wouldn't leave her until she was able to get up. So I guess they do more than just make us laugh.
Kerri also took them to a pug meet-up group over spring break where they had a wonderful time. I guess I will be going with them to the next one on April 19. First there was Ellie's ashes and now pug meet-up groups.......
Blanca was in the pool on a raft this weekend. She likes it a lot. She walks on the raft to make it move. It looks as though she is surfing!!!!!!!! The other two run around the pool, but don't want to have anything to do with it. We have made sure that they know how to get out if they fall in.
I found this quote from Jerry Seinfeld. It sums it all up...........
Let's examine the dog mind: Every time you come home, he thinks it's amazing. He can't believe that you've accomplished this again. You walk in the door. The joy of it almost kills him. "He's back again! It's that guy! It's that guy!"
Posted by Cheela at 7:20 PM