Thursday, December 31, 2009

Promising Ending to 2009

I have often written about my wonderful Aunt Teresa and what a blessing she is to our entire family and to me personally. She is the only one of of my mom's brothers and sister still with us and she is a joy to all of her many nieces and nephews.

Teresa is amazing in so many ways. She loves to visit family as much as possible. She always sees the good in people and has probably the deepest faith of anyone that I know. She spends a lot of time with us up here in the valley, but Douglas is still her home. She loves the house at 858 where she was born 87 years ago. I also love this home where I was raised!

This year has brought a couple of health scares for her. The latest is a reoccurrence of the breast cancer that she had 11 years ago. At that time, she had a lumpectomy and went through radiation. We were told that if one is to have cancer, that this is a very treatable kind.

Recently, she had a mammogram and it showed a spot. She had a needle biopsy that was malignant. We felt very positive about it after talking to her doctor up here. The doctor recommended that we take her to an oncologist.

The appointment with Dr. Calvacant was today at 3:00. I have heard many wonderful things about this doctor and after meeting him today, I can understand why so many people like and respect him.

He told us that about 7% of the people who have the cancer that she did, get it again. He also told us that the body can only take so much radiation. He recommended that we take her to a surgeon and that she have a mastectomy. He was very positive about this being a good treatment. My cousin, Yaya, has a surgeon in Phoenix that she trusts very much. Dr. Calvacant knows her and also spoke very highly of her. I tried to get an appointment, but the office is closed for the holiday weekend.

Teresa's greatest joy is our family and my cousins are so wonderful with her. I know how much they love her and how much she loves them. A few years ago, Kerri put Teresa on our cell phone plan and we bought her a cell phone. Recently, Kerri was looking at the statement and guess who had the most minutes of all of us??? It was Teresa!!! We have laughed about that and it would probably make a great T-Mobile commercial. All laughter aside, what those minutes say about her communicating with our family and her friends is a tribute to who she is---I firmly believe!

I know that many, many people have been saying prayers for this wonderful lady. I know she says prayers for all of us all of the time!!

In a few hours we will be welcoming 2010. How fortunate for the extended Scott Family originally from Douglas, Arizona that we have our wonderful, amazing Aunt Teresa in our lives!!!!

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

A Very Special Gift

I have not written my blog in quite some time for a variety of reasons. So much has happened this month and the weeks between Thanksgiving and Christmas have never been my favorites anyway. School is especially stressful the week before the break every year with this year being no exception. I think it has been one of the hardest that I have had since becoming a principal.

Two weeks ago one of the moms at our school was brutally murdered by her ex-boyfriend. Her son attends our school and there are many extended family members who also attend our school. We have had many things happen over the years, but this is the first time something like this has occurred. Each time we have something happen, I always write a letter to the parents in the students' classrooms or to our entire school community depending on the situation. I attended the rosary, but was not able to make the funeral. Several of our staff went to the funeral.

Last Wednesday morning, I received a phone call from our school nurse saying that a mom that so many of my staff members had become close with lost her battle to cancer. She has four young children. The father had called our nurse in the middle of the night and she was there when she died. The family had moved to Arizona about a year and a half ago and did not have any family here. Several of my staff members and parents became her family. They helped take care of the children, took her to doctor's appointments, sat with her when she was in the hospital and visited her at home. Again, a letter was sent home to the families of the students in the classrooms where the children are and a funeral to attend last Monday. It broke my heart to see her four year old son and her seven year old son as pall bearers...

We recently found out that my Aunt Teresa's breast cancer has come back. We are feeling very positive about this. Of course, she has a wonderful attitude and probably the strongest faith of anyone I know.

My cousin, Pat, went with me to Douglas to pick her up over the weekend. Pat lost her husband, Phil, to cancer last January. Over the weekend, we talked about last Christmas when Phil was so sick. We had all of our family Christmas gatherings at her house because of Phil's illness. When I look back on last Christmas, it is with joy and I told her that. Even though we knew he was so sick, we were all together. Phil's last Christmas with us was how we celebrated every Christmas. I have missed talking to him, especially when something funny happened at school. He always enjoyed my stories!

Every few days I send a text message to my cousin, Ana, who recently lost her son, Steven, in a tragic car accident in California. I can't imagine what she and her family are going through and the holidays have to be very difficult, especially this first one. I just want her to know that I am thinking of her. I hope that these messages bring her some comfort.

On Thursday morning, one of my wonderful teachers brought me a gift that is probably one of the most touching and meaningful gifts that I have ever received. Her dear mother who is an incredible human being had written a book about something that happened when she was about six or seven years old just before Christmas. It is advertised as a book for children, but it is much more than a book for children. It is a beautiful story about the power of faith and about Christmas. It takes place in Sacramento, California, where she grew up. I have several cousins who grew up in Sacramento and I have ordered a book for them.

The book's title is Christmas on K Street, by Nancy Gilson Olivas. In the epilogue Nancy writes "As with most people, my life has been filled with great blessings and great sorrows. The sorrows are hard to understand sometimes. They can surely get you off track. But I have always been aware as the years go by that blessings far outweigh the troubles in my life."

This is beautifully said and I needed that book that day! Thank you for the gift of this book, Becky. Thank you for writing this story, Nancy, and for your incredible support over the years.

The last paragraph in the book says, "Believe. Believe in Santa and the message of hope and love he brings to us every Christmas. And if you are so inclined, say a little prayer to Jesus."

I continue to feel blessed for many reasons. The family that I was born into is second to none. My cousins and their families are more than cousins to me. My mother taught me so much and was such a role model as to how you treat people and how you stand up for what you believe in. I feel blessed to have had her in my life for so many years and there is not a day that goes by that I don't think about her and miss her. My Uncle Johnny who lived with us when I was growing up meant so much to me. Mary, the wonderful lady who took care of us growing up, taught me many valuable lessons about life. She didn't have much, but she had love. Every time I make beans or green and red chili meat I think of her and thank her for teaching me this along with so many other important lessons about life. My Aunt Teresa is probably the best person I have ever known. I love her dearly! Having Judy be such a support in my life means so much to me. And of course, what would I do without my children, Kerri and Patrick, and Cameron?

I am also blessed with many dear friends and a job that is not just a job at a wonderful school with an incredible group of people who come to school each day to make a difference in the lives of children, both academically and emotionally.

And as always on December 23rd, I think of my dear friend, Ellen Widmer, on this her birthday. She has been gone for six years now and I miss her kindness, her love of teaching and of all children, but most of all her---friendship. I am thankful that I had her in my life!

In my life, the joys do outweigh the sorrows.........

For those of you who read this blog, I hope that your holidays are filled with joy and peace. Happy Holidays!

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Amazing Moments

The weeks between Thanksgiving and the Christmas holidays are among my least favorite of the school year. I could not tell you why based on any research on this matter, but I do have an opinion. I think that there are several reasons--kids are excited and trying to get through required curriculum isn't what they want to be doing; teachers are the most patient of people, but these weeks stretch that patience. This year in particular has brought a lot more stress because of the economic woes that we are facing. Many families of both children and staff have faced job loss, less money, higher insurance premiums...... Public education deals with all that is good and bad in our society.

For the past several years, our school has housed three of the district's Autism classrooms. Although I have a special education background, I truly knew very little about working with Autistic children. I have learned so much over the last several years. It has probably been one of the most rewarding programs that I have ever overseen. The students have done incredibly well at our school thanks to the wonderful special education teachers, regular classroom teachers, instructional assistants, and the incredible children that we work with every day.

We have approximately 53 students who have been diagnosed with Autism which is a fairly high number. I truly believe in what we are doing and what it means to society in the future. Many of these children are incredibly bright. I believe that by giving them opportunities to learn social skills and be integrated into the regular classroom, we are opening doors for them that will enable them to be productive members of society. I believe that one of these students might find a cure for cancer or some other disease in the future.

Something happened yesterday that sums up everything that occurs every day in the wonderful school that I am fortunate to be a part of. We had our annual Geography Bee. Several of the students who participated in the bee were students in our Autism program. One of the students missed his first two questions and was so upset. His teachers tried to calm him and he continued to sob. It wasn't very loud, but it was noticeable to all of the students in the audience. When it came time for the third round, he got up and then took his name card off and wasn't going to even attempt to answer. He then decided to try and got the answer incorrect again. The fourth round came along and he was still very upset and not sure he wanted to try again. However, he did and got the answer correct. Very quietly, the students in the audience began to clap for him. It wasn't loud, but it was spontaneous and such an incredible gesture on the part of our fourth, fifth and sixth graders.

When something like this happens, you know that all of the hard work that everyone at our school performs on a daily basis to ensure academic and emotional successes is well worth it. I was so proud of our students yesterday for so many reasons. Trying to recount this event with words is difficult and doesn't capture the emotions that I felt yesterday.

Once again, I can honestly say that this is why I get up each morning and go to school and work the crazy hours that I do and deal with some of the unbelievable situations that occur. If we had a camera going to record for reality television, there would be some that would say that we made these things up!!

If I had the opportunity to live my life over again, I can't imagine doing anything different than being an educator. It is truly the most important profession in our society. Even though the politicians and many people in our society don't respect it enough, I can say that is their problem. I know that when the day comes that I leave my office for the last time, I will know that my many years contributed to the betterment of our society. I am proud to be an educator!!!

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Happy Birthday, Ann!

Last, but not least--Happy Birthday, Ann! It was a year ago in December that I told my Aunt Teresa that I would write something about all of her nieces and nephews on their birthdays. Ann is the last of the cousins to wish a very happy birthday.

Ann is the second daughter of my mom's brother, Tom. She grew up in Washington D.C. and now lives in Florida with her husband, Joe. They have two children, Dawn and Danny. Dawn and her husband have two children.

It was great to see Ann this past summer when we went to the reunion at the Farm in Virginia. Ann is a lot of fun to be around. She has a wonderful sense of humor and there is always laughter around her. I posted a video of Ann doing a cheer for the volleyball games that were happening at the reunion. It is still on You Tube on my account (TequilaCheela).

I remember the summer that I graduated from high school, Ann and her sister, Ellen came to Arizona. We then went to California and visited Disneyland. Ann's dad got us a tour of Disneyland that was unbelievable. We didn't have to wait in any lines and we got to go backstage and see different parts of Disneyland that a regular tourist wouldn't be able to see. We were even picked up in a limo and taken by helicopter to Disneyland. I can tell you that Disneyland has never been the same for me since that experience!! I have wonderful memories of that summer with Ellen and Ann.

We don't get to see each other very often, but I always enjoy our time together! Hope you have a wonderful birthday today, Ann, and hope we can get together soon!!

Monday, November 16, 2009

Friday the 13th--an Event-filled, Eventful and Wonderful Day!

A year ago about this time, my grandson came running into my office to tell me there were people across the street from our school who had on "inappropriate" t-shirts with words like titty on them. Come to find out that the parking lot across from our school was a cheering station for the Phoenix area Susan G. Komen Three Day Walk for the Cure.

We did an all-call on the intercom and let teachers and students know that the walkers would be passing by if they would like to go out and cheer them on. You could tell that the walkers were thrilled and touched to see all of the children out cheering for them. Many of them had cameras and were taking pictures.

Later that morning, the husband of one of my absolutely wonderful teachers, Martha, came into tell me that his wife had been diagnosed with breast cancer. She was going to need the rest of the year off to fight this awful disease.

About two weeks ago, Martha's sister contacted me and asked if she and her husband could donate pink bandanas
from the Susan J. Komen Foundation in Martha's honor to all of our students and staff. She, Martha's husband, and daughter had all been training to do this 3 day Walk for the Cure. Martha has an incredible blog where she has been recording her journey for the past year. It is Celebrating Life, One Day at a Time.

We found out that the walkers would be walking across from our school again this year at the beginning of the race. So we encouraged all of the children and staff to wear pink. On Friday morning they were given the bandanas to wear and to wave. Many classes made banners of encouragement and we had names of some of the different teams flashing on our marquee along with words of encouragement.

Our students lined the sidewalk and fence inside the school and cheered and waved their bandanas as the walkers passed. I can tell you that it brought tears to many eyes, including mine!

Our students were out there for quite some time cheering and showing support. I know that many of their teachers discussed the importance of this walk.

So for a part of the morning last Friday, we didn't do any math or reading, writing or science. What we did is show our children what it means to support a cause that touches so many women and so many families. What we did was show children about caring, community, and encouragement. I believe that the children will remember being a part of this long after they forget about what they learned that day in math. I believe so strongly that if we don't have children share and be involved in activities like this, that it won't matter in the future how good they are in science or math. We must continue to teach the whole child about caring, citizenship, empathy, respect....

The Dali Lama said, "I pray for a more friendly, more caring, and more understanding human family on this planet. To all who dislike suffering, who cherish lasting happiness, this is my heartfelt appeal."

I pray for that, too. Once again, I am so proud to be a part of a school community like Gilbert El!

Late Friday I received a call from my Aunt Teresa. She had just had a mammogram and she has to go in for a needle biopsy as soon as possible. The mammogram indicated that there is something in the place where she had breast cancer several years ago. At the time, it was a very treatable form and didn't require anything more than a lumpectomy and radiation. I hope and pray that this happening on the same day as this incredible event will be a good omen....

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Happy Birthday, Lena!

Happy birthday to my cousin, Maria Elena O'Brien! Lena is the oldest of my Uncle Bill's seven children. Bill was my mom's little brother and my Godfather. Lena and her family live in San Francisco where she is a nurse. Mike, Lena's husband, is a San Francisco police officer. They have two wonderful children, Chris and Samantha. I have so enjoyed getting to know their two children as young adults.

When I think of Lena I think of someone with "quiet strength." I imagine that she is an incredible nurse. I know that her brothers and sisters rely on that strength.

I am sure that this birthday will be bittersweet for Lena because of the recent tragedy in our San Francisco family. I do know that she and Mike are a source of strength to Ana's family. I have been in contact with her quite often over the past two weeks.

I always so enjoy visiting and talking with Lena. She is a wonderful human being and I am proud to call her my cousin. Love you, Lena, and hope that you have a wonderful birthday today. Hope to see you soon!

I found this quote about cousins that I really like:

"Cousins share that unique and special relationship that combines friend and family--a bond that is at the same time supportive and enduring. The woman who shares her life with a cousin like you is blessed."

I know that I feel blessed......

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Reflections on Steven Patrick Dub and his Memorial Service

I have thought so much over the past few days about my wonderful cousin, Ana, her husband, Charlie, and their daughter, Madeline. I can't even imagine what they are going through with the loss of Steven in the tragic automobile accident.

Aunt Teresa and I left for San Francisco on Friday a week ago. Patrick came on Saturday and Kerri, Cameron, and Judy arrived on Sunday. We have so many family members in the bay area and they were all there for support. Family and friends were in and out of the house for most of the hours of the day.

Monday was the visitation at the mortuary. I don't think that I have ever seen so many people at a visitation. Steven had so many friends. Several of them went up and spoke about what a good friend Steven was, how he would always help the underdog, and how fun loving he was.

Tuesday was the funeral at St. Veronica's Catholic Church. This is the parish where the Dubs belong and St. Veronica's School is where Steven attended elementary school. We went to the mortuary before the funeral Mass and then drove to the church. When we turned onto the street where the church is located, all of the school children were standing on both sides of the street holding hands as an honor guard. I can tell you that touched me so much!!

The church was very full and the Mass was beautiful. His cousins and aunts and uncles led prayers, did readings, and presented the gifts. Steven's cousins, Samantha and Christopher, did a beautiful eulogy of Steven's life. It was touching and funny and spoken from their hearts. They did a fabulous job. I know how difficult doing this is. Steven's Uncle Mike is a San Francisco police officer. He arranged for bagpipers to be there. This was also very beautiful and touching.

Steven loved baseball, in particular the Oakland A's. His cousins sent a flowers with the A's colors and there was also an arrangement made to look like a baseball. Many people wore A's caps.

One of Steven's cousins, Brendan, was not able to be there as he had just started Marine basic training. He, along with Patrick, were honorary pall bearers. I know that this has to be a very difficult time for Brendan being alone in San Diego.

After the Internment at Holy Cross Cemetery, a reception was held at the parish hall. So many of Steven's friends were there. The common thread continued about Steven's unconditional gift of friendship to so many people.

We all left to come home on Wednesday. All of us will be back to the every day living of our lives. Ana, Charlie, Madeline, and all of our San Francisco family will have to go on with the daily routines, but their lives will NEVER be the same. I can't even imagine.......

It is so hard to try to make sense of this tragedy and why it happened. And there is probably no answer to any of this. Steven Patrick Dub impacted many lives in his short time on earth.

I haven't spoken to Ana, but I have sent her a text several times to tell her that I am thinking of her.

On the back of the program from the Funeral Mass was this prayer:


God grant me the serenity
to accept the things I cannot change;
courage to change the things I can;
and wisdom to know the difference.
Living one day at a time;
Enjoying one moment at a time;
Accepting hardships as the pathway to peace
Taking, as He did, this sinful world
as it is, not as I would have it;
Trusting that He will make all things right
if I surrender to His Will;
That I may be reasonably happy in this life
and supremely happy with Him
Forever in the next.

"God grant us the serenity to accept the things we cannot change......."

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Hope Your Birthday is Great, Teresa Ann!

November 5th is the birthday of my cousin, Teresa Ann. Teresa is the youngest daughter of my mom's brother, Matt. Teresa grew up in Phoenix and is just a few years younger than I am.

Teresa and her husband, Donald, have six children. Most of the time when they were raising their children, they lived in Georgia. The last several years have been spent in California. Four of their children were already grown up when they moved to California and stayed in the Atlanta area.

Over the last several years, I have gone to the weddings of four of her children. Sarah and Ian were married in Savannah, Georgia; Allyson and Jayson and Scott and Becca were married in Atlanta. Last August, we went to New York for Justin's and Charlotte's wedding. All of the weddings were awesome and I had a wonderful time.

Sarah, Allyson, Scott and Justin are all University of Georgia graduates. Brett attends Georgia right now and Kate is the lone Californian at San Diego State. Their family are absolutely die hard Georgia Bulldogs!!!

Teresa and Don are also blessed with three beautiful grandchildren.

I have two favorite memories of when we were little kids. Teresa's brother, Eddie, became a priest in about 1956. He came to Douglas to say his first mass. A family friend took home movies of everyone coming out of the church. Teresa Ann and I would come out holding hands and grinning and go to the side door of the church and come out again. We did this over and over again--there were the two of us about every five people. I would love to show that old movie to her kids.

On another occasion, Teresa and her family were in Douglas. She and I both had the same hair cut, color, etc. One of the kids saw her from the back and thought it was me and called my name. I think Teresa may have been about four or five, but she immediately replied that she wasn't Sheila, she was Tweela Ann! I think her kids call her that sometimes!!!

This past weekend, Teresa and five of her children were in San Francisco to support our cousins there. I can tell you that Teresa is a very generous person!

So, Teresa, I hope you have a great day today. You share it with Patrick!! Happy Birthday, Tweela Ann!!!!!

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Devastating News

For some reason, I didn't sleep very well last night. Around 3:30 a.m. I got up to get a drink. Just as I got back into bed, my cell phone lit up and dinged indicating a text message. I got up to read it and there was a message from my dear cousin, Ana, in San Francisco. The message said that her son, Steven, had been killed in an automobile accident and that her sister would be calling everyone in the morning. The last line said that she needed me. I immediately called her and heard the devastating news which is a parent's worst nightmare.

Steven and two of his friends had been in Las Vegas to hear one of his favorite bands. It was a break from his school work at San Francisco State. Coming back yesterday they were involved in a head on collision and Steven and his two friends were all killed. Steven had just turned 19 in September.

What does one say? There is truly nothing that can be said at a time like this. All I could say to her is that I love her. I told her that I would be there as soon as I could get there.

Needless to say, I could not get back to sleep. All I could think of was Ana and Steven's dad, Charlie, and Madeline, his little sister. I thought of his aunts Lena, Rosemary, and Romy and his uncles Michael and Eddie. And all of his cousins who loved him dearly.

I didn't know what to do other than say some prayers for all of us who are left here to deal with this tragedy. I didn't want to call anyone because of the time. I finally sent a text message to his aunt Romy and she immediately called me.

I didn't want to wake up anyone in our family here until it got closer to morning. I was very worried about my Aunt Teresa as she has been in Douglas and was all alone. Kerri and Cameron had just been out to San Francisco for Fall Break. And Patrick has always had a special bond with Ana. Around 5:30 I called Judy. She immediately decided to drive to Douglas to get Teresa. We decided to wait a few hours to call her. I then told my kids who were absolutely devastated. I spoke with Yaya as she usually gets up early. Teresa Ann and Cecilia called.

I remember when Steven was young. He loved to read and I would get him books from our book orders at school and whenever we had an author come to our school I would always get a signed copy for him. Kerri said that she always thinks about him when he was about 4 over at Yaya's house in his Ninja Turtle Underoos.

About three years ago, Steven and Charlie came to see us for the weekend to go to an ASU football game and to see the campus. At that time, Steven was trying to decide where to go to school. His grandfather, Bill, was an ASU graduate so he decided to see what it was like. We had a great time tailgating and visiting.

Last August when we went to New York for the wedding, Ana and her family were all there. Steven was absolutely darling. It was so neat to watch him and Charlie together. Steven looked a lot like Charlie and you could tell how much he loved his dad.

I have been "Facebook Friends" with Steven for several months and I enjoyed keeping up with him that way. Steven was very involved in AA and talked very proudly of that on Facebook. Like many young people today, he had been through some tough times and was working hard to better his life. I know how proud his family was of his efforts and successes.

A little while ago I read his wall on Facebook. The recurring theme was Steven's incredible zest for life and his overcoming obstacles. Many talked of him being a role model to them. He had many friends who cared about him.

Tomorrow Teresa and I are going to San Francisco. The rest of my family and many of the Arizona Scotts will be going this weekend. The services will be Monday night and Tuesday.

Last January when I did the eulogy for our dear Phil, I found a quote for Pat and I want to share it with Ana today. Alice Walker says, "Is solace anywhere more comforting than in the arms of a sister?" When I spoke with Ana she told me that her sisters had all been there with the family. I know how much her sisters mean to her and I know they will bring her solace.

As I write this, I am heartsick. I can only hope that I will also bring some solace to Ana and her family. Ana, I love you!!

And for Steven Patrick Dub,

May the road rise to meet you.

May the wind be always at your back.
May the sun shine warm upon your face;

The rains fall soft upon your fields

And until we meet again


Please say hello to my mom, your grandpa, Bill, your grandma, Rose, and all of the rest of the family who I am sure were waiting with open arms for you, dear Steven.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Have a Happy Birthday, Judy!

Today is the birthday of my cousin, Judy Scott Feldman. Judy is the daughter of my mom's brother, Tom and his wife, Mary. Judy and her wonderful husband, Neil, live in Maryland close to Washington D. C. where Judy grew up. Their daughter, Anna, attends the University of Southern California in L.A.

Over the years, Judy and Neil have spent a lot of time in Arizona. For a period of time, they lived in Texas, making it much easier to get here to visit. I know how much my mom and Teresa looked forward to their visits. I have always loved being around them and talking to them about politics. Both Judy and Neil have wonderful insights and opinions on current political issues!

Judy has a Bachelor and Master of Arts degrees in art history from Penn State and a doctorate in art history from the University of Texas. She has taught art history at the university level. Because of her love for art and history and Washington D.C., Judy is currently the chairman and president of The National Coalition to Save Our Mall. She is leading an effort to raise national consciousness of the Washington Mall's shabby condition, poor management, and inadequate Congressional oversight.

Judy has appeared on numerous national news programs in her efforts with this organization. Preserving the National Mall is her passion and her full time job!! I know our family is very proud of her. Judy, I truly admire what you are doing!!

We had a wonderful visit this past summer when we went back east for the reunion. Kerri, Cameron, and I spent one night at Judy's when we were sightseeing in Washington D.C.

We are hoping that Anna will come to Arizona and go with us to the USC vs. ASU football game in November.

Have a wonderful birthday, Judy. Hope to see you soon!!

Sunday, October 11, 2009

A Memorable Anniversary

Today I went to Tucson for the 60th Wedding Anniversary Party for a couple who had a large part in my life growing up in Douglas. Judy, Teresa, Kayla and I went to honor George and Peggy Brady who were married on September 30, 1949. Judy, Teresa and Kayla were heading down to Douglas after the party and I came home.

Driving back by myself, I had much time to reflect and remember those wonderful years growing up in Douglas, Arizona. I have so many, many wonderful memories and so many people who meant so much to me in my formative years. There aren't very many of them around anymore, so going down for this celebration had a special meaning.

When I think back to those years, there were many people that were family friends and I absolutely value those relationships in so many ways. Two families, the Hubers and the Bradys, were constants in my life as a child.

In 1960, the Hubers, the Bradys, and our family decided to buy a cabin together. That was the only way that everyone could afford it. I remember going up to the different areas in the Chiricahuas looking at different property. On Christmas Eve of that year, George was reading the newspaper and there was a cabin for sale in South Fork which is in Cave Creek on the eastern slope of the Chiricahuas. This cabin turned out to be the one that we bought. I have written much about this most beautiful spot on earth!

I was in 6th grade that year, and the oldest of all of the kids. The Hubers had six children: Kathy, Patty, Christy, Marian, Cecilia, and Joe. The Bradys had five: Margaret, Mike, John, Steve, and Mary Pat. And then there was Judy and I.

It seemed that almost every Sunday after church, we would all pack up and go to the cabin for the day. We all had whistles that we had to wear just in case anything happened. I remember getting to the cabin and then taking off to climb the mountain and explore the big rocks, often finding small caves to hide in. Or in the warm weather spending the entire day at the creek. I don't ever remember having a fight with any of the kids--kind of hard to imagine with that many. There was just too much to do!!

Through the years when my kids and I spent our summers in Douglas, we would often spend time at the cabin. Peggy and George were up there many times when we were there. George always had a joke to tell and a little hard time to give!!

Today all of their children and families were there to honor this couple. Two of the Hubers were also there, Christy and Marian and her husband.

We talked about the cabin and what needs to be done in order to keep it. We have to make some improvements so John, Christy, and I will be getting together soon to decide what and how to do it. Even though I don't see them very often, I know that we will maintain this incredible relationship so that we can keep the cabin.

The cabin is my favorite place on earth. It has been there through all of the stages of my life. Although I don't get there as often as I would like, I can't imagine not having the opportunity to go there. It is someplace that one can truly get away from the rat race that life can be--no television, no radio, no cell phones.........HEAVEN on Earth!!

As I said, I had much time to think on the drive back from Tucson. I would like to thank George and Peggy for being a big part of my life for so many years. I am so glad to have been there today. I know that they can't read this, but Paul and Dorothy Huber were also very much a part of my childhood and I thank them, too. These two wonderful families mean so much to me and I would like to say "THANK YOU" to them!

I feel very blessed to have these wonderful childhood memories!!

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Hope You Have a Wonderful Birthday, Lisa!

October 8th is our cousin, Lisa's birthday. This is a very special day because it is her birthday, but it is even more significant to me in that October 8th was also my mom's birthday!!

Lisa is the youngest daughter of my Aunt Mary and Uncle Tom, my mom's brother. Lisa is enough younger than me that I didn't really know her growing up because they lived back east in Washington D.C. Her two sisters were closer to my age. Lisa and her two sons, Jeremy and Ben, came to family reunions in Arizona. Lisa was here two years ago for Teresa's 85th. It wasn't until this summer when we went to Virginia that we really had a chance to just visit. And I can tell you that I truly enjoyed getting our visit. I just wish that we lived closer!!

Lisa lives in a small town in New Hampshire. She has a very old house that she is refinishing. Last summer, our cousin, Pat, and Kayla went back to New Hampshire with her from Virginia. I asked Kayla to tell me something about Lisa, and she said that Lisa loves to garden and has a wonderful one at her house. Kayla said that she had such a good time in New Hampshire.

Pat told me tonight that Lisa has done an incredible job with redoing her home. She said that Lisa has such an incredible work ethic, whether it has to do with her career or remodeling her home.

I love Lisa's sense of humor and her easygoing way! I am so glad that we had the opportunity to be at "The Farm" in July!! I hope that we will be able to get together in the very near future!! Happy Birthday, Lisa!! You share this day with a very special lady!!

Monday, October 5, 2009

Happy Birthday, Tommy!

Happy Birthday to my east coast cousin, Tommy! Tommy is the youngest child and only son of my Aunt Mary and Uncle Tom, who was my mom's brother. Tommy and his wonderful wife, Michele, have two great daughters, Teresa and Hannah. They live in Virginia where Tommy is an engineer for the federal government.

Tommy and has family have visited us in Arizona several times. This past summer, Tommy was the "mastermind" for the family reunion that we attended at The Farm in Virginia. Having been involved in several family reunions myself, I truly know how much work there is to put one on. And Tommy put on quite a party!!! We had a wonderful time and hope to attend more in the future. Cameron had such a great experience at The Farm and has talked about it a lot since we have returned.

I shared a story this past summer that Tommy and his sisters had not heard before. My mom and their dad were fairly close in age with Tom being about 2 1/2 years older. Their dad was one of the nicest gentlemen that you could ever want to meet. For those of you who knew my mom, she was a "spitfire" to say the least. Well one day when they were in grade school at Loretto in Douglas, my mom got word that there was a boy beating up her brother, Tom, on the boys' playground. In those days, there was a boys' side and a girls' side. (and when I went, too. Can you imagine?) So needless to say, Margaret went running over to the boys' side to take care of Tom. She proceeded to take down the boy who was beating up her brother!! The nuns had to call their dad as well as the parents of the other boy. The next day the family of the boy that Margaret had "beat up" showed up at school to find out what had happened to their son. Sister brought Margaret in to show them the small, short girl who had gone to the aid of her brother!! Come to find out, this happened because the other boy was jealous that the Scotts were having another baby--my Uncle Bill. So this probably happened around 1925 when my mom was eight and Tom was 10! I love this story!!!

So, Tommy, hope your birthday is wonderful! Hope that we can get together again in the near future for some fun!! Happy birthday, cuz!!! Thanks for the great time in July at the Farm!!!

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Family Roots Run Deep

This past Labor Day weekend was an incredible, jam-packed few days with many memories made. The main event of the weekend was the beautiful wedding of Maggie and Mike. As with so many of our family events, cousins came from far and wide to gather together for the wedding. The family member who came the farthest was our new found cousin, Michele Kneafsey O'Sullivan!!!

Our family history from Ireland has been largely un
known. My Aunt Teresa and I went to Ireland in 1978 and tried to find information, but without much luck. On our last day there, we did find Patrick Rice, whose family name was Kneafsey. Kneafsey was the name of my great grandmother, Ellen.

I did not know my great grandmother as she died shortly after I was born in 1949. However, I felt as though I knew her because of all of the wonderful stories I heard about her over the years. I think that our Aunt Teresa must be very much like
her--kind, caring, a deep faith, and seeing the good in so much. Ellen lived to be 96 years old, which was amazing 60 years ago.

Not much was known about her life in Ireland. We knew that she lived in County Mayo. We knew that her last name was Kneafsey, although it was not spelled this way. So many immigrants had their last names misspelled when the entered the United States and did not know how to read or write. I have asked Teresa why we didn't know much and she said she doesn't really know why. I think, and this is just my opinion, that when a young person left Ireland in those days, it had to be almost like a death. The poverty and conditions were so poor that the only choice they had was to start a new life in the U.S. Leaving in 1879 would mean no further communication with family as there were no phones. My great grandmother was also illiterate so writing letters would not be possible. Maybe the only way to get on with a new life was to try to forget the memories and the family left behind. I cannot even imagine this.

Ellen went to live with her sister, Catherine, in Pennsylvania. There she married Matthew Roughan, who came from County Cork. My great grandfather was a miner and they moved to Leadville, Colorado. From Leadville they moved to Bisbee in 1903. My grandparents, Edward and Katherine Scott, moved to Douglas in 1912 from Leadville. My grandfather worked for the railroad.

Ellen lived in Douglas after the death of her husband
and her son. She worked as a midwife there. My mother and her brothers and sisters were so fortunate to have her in their lives and I know that they knew that. I know from the way that they talked about her that they loved her dearly.

A year ago last summer, there was a comment left o
n my blog from Michele Kneafsey O'Sullivan. It was on a post where I had retyped a letter that Teresa wrote to the family soon after our trip to Ireland in 1978. Michele and I connected and we have been in contact through email ever since. It was a post entitled "Thirty Year Old Memories."

I asked Maggie and her mom, Marion, if they would inv
ite Michele to the wedding and they did. We had a wonderful visit and it was so exciting for all of us to actually have this connection that goes so far back. How we are related doesn't matter!! Kneafsey is not a common name and Michele's family is also from County Mayo. There is no doubt in my mind that she is our cousin!! I believe that there is even a family resemblance. One of Marion's granddaughters thought that Michele was her Aunt Teresa Ann!!

We had a wonderful visit and it was so great for everyone to meet her. Sunday, Michele went golfing with all of the young guys in the family. She
was Jeremy's partner and had such nice things to say about him--I agree. I understand that she held her own with all the guys and did quite well.

On Monday, we took her down to see southeastern Arizona. We stopped in Tombstone and then Bisbee. We went to visit the graves of my great g
randparents, Ellen Kneafsey Roughan and Matthew Roughan. We stayed the night at 858 in Douglas so that she could see the family home. We even took her over to Agua Prieta so that she could say she went to Mexico.

Tuesday night we took her to Rustlers' Rooste to eat rattlesnake. There was a storm all around the valley and the view from the restaurant was unbelievable. Michele went back to Ireland on Wednesday after a whirlwind week in Arizona.

There were so many connections--many members of her family in Ireland are educators. Her parents and brother were doctors, as is Michele. Even though Ellen wasn't educated, she was a midwife and delivered many babies in Douglas.

Michele said something that I think is so true. When parents sent their children to the U. S. from Ireland in those days, it was the ultimate gift of love....

I think my mom and in particular my Uncle Matt and cousin John Edward, would have been so thrilled to meet Michele and find out about our roots in Ireland. I know that I am. I am glad to have found our cousin, Michele. She is absolutely delightful!! I look forward to visiting her in Ireland and having her come back to Arizona.

None of this would have happened if I hadn't started blogging--WOW!!

Thursday, September 10, 2009

The Wedding of Maggie & Mike and More.....

This past Labor Day weekend was so much fun and had so much to write about. It started last Thursday with the arrival of our cousin, Michele Kneafsey O'Sullivan, from Donegal, Ireland. That is an incredible story in itself which I plan to share in the next few weeks. Michele came from Ireland to meet our family at Maggie's and Mike's wedding.

Friday night, Michele, Teresa, and I attended the rehearsal dinner at Bill Johnson's Big Apple in northwest Phoenix--a fun night.

Saturday was the big day for Maggie and Mike. The wedding took place at St. Mary's Basilica in downtown Phoenix, the site of so many family events. It was a beautiful mass!!

The reception followed at Holy Spirit in Tempe. We had such a great time at the reception visiting with family. Maggie looked absolutely beautiful, as did all of the cousins in the wedding. Marion and Ron put on quite an event!!

As always so many of our cousins were there. What a tribute to the original seven Scott siblings, as well as our grandparents and great grandparents!!

Sunday brought fun in the sun at Wild Horse Pass with dinner at Rawhide. Monday, Kerri, Cameron and I took Michele on a quick trip down to southeastern Arizona and our roots there. More on that to come.

Maggie's incredible older brothers, Marty, Scott, and Nathan, did the most hilarious skit for the wedding. I have put it on You Tube and I am putting it on the the blog. In order to hear it, turn the music off on the music player on the side of this blog. It is priceless!!! I have laughed over and over again when I have viewed it. All of the videos can be found on You Tube under TequilaCheela.

All and all, it was such a memorable weekend and I have so much more to share!

Monday, September 7, 2009

Happy, Happy Birthday, Jean & Jan!!!

Today, September 7, is the birthday of my twin cousins, Jean and Jan. Jean and Jan are my Aunt Dot's daughters and two of six children which include two sets of twins!!

Some of my favorite memories of growing up are associated with Jean and Jan. They are just a "bit" older than I am and I absolutely loved to spend time with them. It seemed that we always went to Sacramento to visit them in the summers and they came to Douglas for Christmas and many other times.

I remember the summer of 1963 when Cecilia and I went to visit them in Sacramento. I was the youngest cousin and they included me in all of their activities. I loved the time spent with all of my cousins that summer!!

As adults, I value the relationship that we have. They are not just my cousins, but my friends. I love getting to visit with them and spend time with them, especially at their cabin in Truckee.

Jean and Mike have one daughter, Tracy. Tracy has two beautiful daughters, Sarah and Megan. Jan and Tim have one son, Jeremy, who is an attorney in San Diego. Both Jean and Jan are now retired after both working in school districts.

It was great to see them this weekend at Maggie's wedding. As always, I wish we had more time to visit. I hope this birthday is wonderful for both of you!! I love both of you very much!!! Happy, Happy Birthday!!!

Saturday, September 5, 2009

The "Hearth" of the Family!

I have a lot to write about for this weekend, but that will have to come later as we have a lot going on over the next few days. Our cousin, Maggie, is getting married in a few hours and we are getting ready to go into Phoenix to St. Mary's Basilica. So many of our wonderful family members are here for this weekend.

For those of you who have followed my blog over the past year and a half, you might recall that because of my blog, I found a cousin in Ireland. Her name is the same as my great grandmother's, Kneafsey, and her family is from County Mayo where my great grandmother came from. Well, she is here for this weekend for Maggie's wedding and to meet our Aunt Teresa and all of the family.

Michele brought pictures from Ireland and a lot of information about our roots. I intend to write much more about this in the next few weeks, as well as write about the wedding. However, I wanted to post this with a picture until I have more time.

It has been wonderful getting to know Michele. She is delightful!!

This picture is from the old Kneafsey homestead in Foxford, County Mayo. It is a picture of the hearth, the heart of the family cottage. This is unbelievable to me for so many reasons.....

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Cameron's 11 Today!!

Wow!! It is hard to believe that eleven years have gone by since that joyous day, September 1, 1998. Cameron turns 11 years old today. We are celebrating with his classmates today for lunch with pizza and drinks. He is in fifth grade this year and is doing very well! I am proud of him and so glad that he comes to Gilbert El. He is playing the tuba in the band, is the cameraman for our Tiger Town News each morning, and is his class representative for student council. He is growing up in so many ways because he has had so many people at school and our family care and nurture him. So happy birthday, Dear Cameron. I love you!!