Saturday, January 31, 2009

Happy Birthday, Judy!

Today is Judy's birthday!! Her story is a wonderful story. Last night Teresa and I were talking about when she was born and when she came home to 858 in Douglas. I remember being so excited. I was in kindergarten and I can remember wanting to rush home from the morning session to see her. I remember sitting in the little red rocker so that I could hold her.

Teresa adopted Judy as a single parent in 1955, which was almost unheard of at that time. Judy's birth family went to St. Luke's Church, the parish we belonged to. Her birth father was in the Army stationed at Fort Huachuca, but they lived in Douglas. Father McGovern, who was the pastor at St. Luke's, was instrumental in Teresa getting Judy. Her birth mother was very sick and died a few weeks after Judy was born 6 weeks premature. Her birth father decided that he wanted Teresa to have Judy.

My mother and I were home the day that Teresa found out she was going to get Judy. Teresa and my grandmother were in Phoenix at a retreat. My mother went to Bisbee and spoke with the judge. He said that there would be no problem with the adoption since it was a "direct relinquishment" from the birth father.

Since Judy was born prematurely, she didn't come home until March 8. Teresa told me last night that when she got her in the car she thought "what I have done--can I do this?" She then said she went to St. Luke's and took Judy into the church. She prayed for a few minutes and everything was fine. Teresa has such a great faith.

My mom and Father McGovern were Judy's godparents. Father had to get special permission from the bishop to be able to be the godfather. When Father was dying several years ago, Judy and I went to visit him. I know that he had a special place in his heart for Judy. She was so wonderful with him that afternoon. It truly touched me.

Judy has always been my "sister." I am blessed to have her in my life. She has always been such a support. I am not sure what I would do without her!!!

So, Judy, I am glad you were born. I am glad that Teresa is your mother. We had a wonderful childhood with my mom, Teresa, and our incredible Uncle Johnny! They taught us the importance of family. A family can have so many different configurations. Ours was a bit different for the 50's, but it couldn't have been any more loving. Thanks for all you have done for all of us over the years. I know that Kerri, Patrick, and Cameron love you dearly, as do I!!


Sunday, January 25, 2009

Celebrating the Life of Phil Rush--A Life Well Lived!

Yesterday, a Memorial Mass and Celebration were held for Phil Rush. The Mass was at St. Mary's in downtown Phoenix and the Celebration of his life was held at his daughter, Bridget's (and PT's) home after the mass. Everything was beautiful!

A few weeks before Phil died, Pat asked me if I would speak at his service. I was touched and honored to be able to do this. Here is the eulogy that I delivered at St. Mary's yesterday.

Kahlil Gibran, who wrote the Prophet said, “When you are sorrowful look again in your heart, and you shall see that in truth you are weeping for that which has been your delight.” This quote is so fitting to describe how we feel about Philip Alvin Rush who gave so many of us so much delight.

And Phil was delightful to be around! Through the years, I have always enjoyed being around him for so many reasons. After Pat and Phil moved back to Phoenix when he retired, I really got to know him. I am so glad that I had this opportunity. I know that my life has been enriched by knowing this delightful man!

Through the years we got together as a family for many occasions. Perhaps my most favorite came when Yaya would have “our generation” over for dinner. Phil loved to hear my stories about some of the crazy things that happened at school. I found that truly amazing since I am sure his experiences in working for the Central Intelligence Agency had to have been unbelievable, but yet he wanted to hear about the funny things that happen in an elementary school. As a matter of fact, I have told that over and over again to colleagues—can you imagine a CIA agent thinks my stories are unbelievable??

Last week, we had two crazy things happen at school at the end of the day. When I got home, I thought about how these would have definitely been a call to Phil. That was on Monday, a few hours before he died. I know that I will always think about Phil and remember him whenever something happens that I know I need to find the humor in. I will have a laugh, drink a beer, and make toast to Phil and be thankful that I had him in my life.

For many years all of us, Tony and Yaya, Pat and Phil, Cecilia and Jay, and sometimes Marion and Ron, and I went to dinner on New Year’s Eve. That was something I always looked forward to doing. Phil often wrote a letter or note cards about different funny things about each of us or events that were happening. I always looked forward to hearing his humorous perspective.

He also wrote from the heart. I remember the letter that he wrote to Teresa when my mother died and how much it meant to us. He had such great things to say about our family and my mom in particular.

I have often wondered what it was like for Phil to marry into the Scott Family. Phil was an only child. It is hard to imagine going from being an only child to our family and a holiday, a reunion or any of the gatherings that take place that are never small!! He didn’t have a lot to say at these gathering, as he stood back with his beer in hand. However he was able to observe and support the true meaning of family which I believe our family personifies.

Phil and Pat are blessed with five wonderful children, Shawna, Matt, Bridget, Paul, and Michael. In addition, Shannon, P.T. and Beth were so loving and gentle with him these past several months and gave so much support to the Rush Family. And Tom was so supportive of Shawna being in Arizona with her family. Over the past several months, I have watched them as they have cared for Phil and for their mom. Their devotion was incredible. What a tribute to the kind of father he was to them!! I don’t think there is any better measure of character than what they have shown these last several months.

My daughter, Kerri, had a special bond with Phil. She wrote on my blog several months ago something that I hope he knew that she felt. She said and I quote, “I feel like Phil has been a definite father figure to me and I don’t know how to approach my feelings on this. I am so sad about losing him, but I also know that by knowing him I have gained so much. I want to thank Phil for pushing me to be who I am, although I feel that it was an unconscious push, he did it none the less and really showed me that life is really about what you do for others to make them who they are, rather than living life and being who you are. To lose Phil is like losing a dad. As I have grown older, Phil showed me what it means to be a true contributor to the human race, rather than to just be someone who stands by and accepts things for what they are.” I thank Phil for being such a strong influence in her life in his quiet way. I know that he also touched the lives of his nieces and nephews and the many cousins that comprise our family.

And Pat, I can’t even begin to imagine what you have been through these past many months. As Marion wrote on my blog, “Both Pat and Phil are an inspiration to me. They are truly my heroes. I have learned a lot by watching the love between them during this time.” The hard part for you will be the months and the years ahead when life goes on. Alice Walker asks, “Is solace anywhere more comforting than in the arms of a sister.” You are blessed with Yaya, Marion, Cecilia, Teresa Ann, and Judy and I, and we will all be here with you and for you! And our wonderful Aunt Teresa who has been such a support to all of our family, and I know how much Pat appreciated having this support during that last week.

Last June “our generation” had dinner together. After dinner we all sat around and talked about so many things. Phil was in such great spirits. He talked about his and Pat’s courtship and when they got married. He spoke of his fondness and respect for Pat’s parents, Matt and Gyp. He also spoke about Glennie and the comfort and care she brought to Matt after Gyp died.

Last night I read some of the cards and letters that the Rush Family have received from friends who knew Phil back in Virginia when he worked for the Central Intelligence Agency (shhhh, don’t tell anybody.) There was a reoccurring theme in all of the notes and that theme was Phil’s integrity. This common thread was such integral part of who Phil was, both professionally and personally. I would like to quote some of what was written about this wonderful man. One friend wrote, “I remember their father as the best of gentlemen, a friend and colleague that I am glad I had and that I won’t forget.” Another wrote that “Phil was such a principled man, he served our country proudly—a true patriot. At the same time he was fun, we never knew anyone who got a bigger charge out of children. How fortunate you are to be his children.” Shawna, Matt, Bridget, Paul, and Michael, I know you know this. He was so proud of each one of you.

Bill Cosby says that through humor, you can soften some of the worst blows that life delivers. And once you find laughter, no matter how painful your situation might be, you can survive it. Those of you who knew Phil, know that he could bring a smile to your face and laughter to your heart.

I would like to share a few things that Phil shared with us when we had dinner last spring. He told about the hospice nurse asking him if he needed any medication. Once a person goes on hospice, all of the medication is taken care of by hospice. Well, Phil told her that he needed some new medication. He asked her to please have some Viagra brought to him. I am sure that was definitely not what the nurse expected!

Cecilia told about the hospice nurse asking him what he had for breakfast and he responded with spaghetti. She then asked what he had for lunch and he said that he had cheese and ketchup. The nurse said she was amazed that his stomach could tolerate any of this. We also talked about how Pat had asked the hospice nurse when he first went on hospice about morphine and wasn’t morphine addictive???

I love quotes, poems, and literature and often use them in my writing and speaking. My favorite children’s book is The Last Dance by Carmen Agra Deedy. This book speaks about the unlimited power of love and family. I think that is why I personally like it so much. In the story, the grandfather tells his grandson that every human has the right to three things:

To Dance: The great thing in life is not so much to dance well, 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.

Phil’s stories will live on his children and his grandchildren, Jonathan, Danielle, Christopher, Patrick, Moira, and Rory who he loved so dearly. We also, must continue to tell Phil’s stories for the children so that they can remember their wonderful grandfather and for ourselves, so that we can always have Phil as part of our lives.

So Pat, thank you for sharing this wonderful man with all of us. I would like to conclude with an Irish Blessing for you and for the family.

May you see God's Light in the path ahead

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.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Sometimes There are Days Like This......

This week has been one of those weeks at school. It is hard to put into words the way some things play out, even in one day. I always say that we are one incident away from the front page of the newspaper or the "blah, blah, blah happened at ? elementary school. Hear the full story at 10:00!" There was one day a couple of years ago that we were a "good news story" and a "bad news story" all on the same day, but that is for a different post!!

Yesterday morning when I got to school a little after 7:00, there was an email forwarded to me from one of my teachers. It was from a former student who is in high school now. He had emailed her from Mexico. His family had to go back to Mexico and he was really sad about this. He is such an incredible young man and he has so much potential, but his family circumstance is such that he may not be able to come back and finish school here. I know this teacher and her husband would take him in if they could possibly do so.

A little later our school nurse came in to talk to me about one of our mom's who has terminal cancer. She is almost a single mom as her husband travels and is gone most of the time. She has four children, two of whom are at our school. There is also a younger one still at home. They are alone here as there extended family does not live here. The teachers who have the children have done so many kind things for this family quietly out of the goodness of their heart. They have taken her to doctor's appointments, helped provide a Christmas for the family, and many other incredible things. Our nurse wanted to make a home visit. When she came back, she sent an email out to our staff asking for help with meals and gift cards, and the like. I am sure the response has been overwhelming from all of the generous people at our school.

It was time for school to start and our morning live news program. After the commentators did the news, one of our teachers came on to talk about donating hair to be made into wigs for people undergoing chemotherapy. She explained this process to our students. She told the kids about how long the hair had to be for it to be acceptable. She then introduced some young ladies who had donated in the past. They were third and fourth graders who had done this. The children all came on to the camera with t-shirts on about being a "Hair Hero." Our teacher then had one of the IA's put her hair into two pony tails. The two news commentators (one of who is her son) then cut her hair on the television news. Wow! That brought a tear to my eye.

And all of these events happened before 9:00 a.m.!!! I always say one of the hardest parts of my job is having to go through all kinds of emotions in a very short time and still maintain!!

Our school is so much more than a place for children to learn academics. We do an excellent job of that, but more importantly, we show children what it means to belong to a community. I am so proud to be a part of this wonderful school!!!!!!

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

It's a Great Day to be an American!

Each month when we have our Flag Ceremony at school, our wonderfully patriotic teacher who has been the inspiration for these, always starts them out by saying, "It's a Great Day to be an American!" I always feel this way, but today it certainly rings true.

I remember watching all of the racial strife on television during the 1960's. Living in a small town on the border like Douglas, we were insulated from all of this. I remember always thinking how awful it was that everyone in our country didn't have the same treatment and freedom that I had. I remember where I was when I heard that JFK, Martin Luther King, and Bobby Kennedy were shot and how devastating that news was to our country.

I have always thought that Martin Luther King's "I Have a Dream" speech was one of the most powerful speeches that I have ever heard. I remember watching this on television. The line that has the most inspiration to me is when he said "I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character." I hope that I have lived by this creed in my life. It is something that I tell our students at school when I do the "discipline" talk at the beginning of the school year--everyone, no matter who you are, have equal importance at our school. I truly never thought I would see what happened today in my lifetime.

We had our televisions on at school to watch the inauguration and to hear President Obama's speech. What happened at school was amazing. A normal day is filled with kids in and out of the office for various reasons, parents in and out to bring something to a child and a myriad of other reasons, our phones ringing constantly, and someone coming into ask me a question several times a day. From about 9:45-10:45 today, it was unbelievably quiet. We had very little traffic in the office and the phones were quiet. I had one person come in and ask me a question. I can honestly say that has never happened before that I can remember.

I always think about how I was brought up to be politically knowledgeable and active. My mother would have been so proud today. When I got home, my Aunt Teresa called to ask if I watched everything. She said she watched it all day.

I was just watching the news with all of the preparations going on for the many Inaugural Balls going on tonight. The news commentator said that President and Mrs. Obama would not be home until 4:30 a.m. after going to all of the Balls tonight. They were also discussing what Mrs. Obama would wear.

Of course, this brought a funny memory back to me. Many years ago when I was still teaching, I agreed to be the president of our teachers' organization. The story behind this was they were desperate for someone to do this thankless job. I jokingly agreed to it after wonderful Nancy Proffitt went around the room and asked everyone. The next thing I know, I am the president.

So of course I had to do something fun for this event..............
So I had an Inaugural "Brawl" at my house. I even wore a formal (and high top tennis shoes). It was quite the event and a really fun party. I am sure it was no match for what is happening in Washington D. C., but it sure was a great night!!

Back to the serious stuff....I truly hope that President Obama can reunite the American people for the common good. I hope every American will listen and take heed of his Inaugural message.

It's a Great Day to be an American!!

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Our World Is Better Place Because of Phil!

August 18, 1930 - January
12, 2009

May the road rise to meet you,
May the wind be always at your back.
May the sun shine warm upon your face
And the rains fall soft on your fields;
And until we meet again
May God hold you in the palm
of His hand.


You had such an impact on so many people in your quiet way. You have left this world a better place. Your wonderful legacy lives on with your wife, Pat, your children, and your grandchildren. Thank you for enriching my life! I will miss you!

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Devil in Disguise????????

So here I am again writing about our pugs......... Is this what I thought I would be doing at this advanced age--kind of like the old lady down the street with all of her cats--only I have pugs!?? But they serve as such a distraction from the every day fluctuations of life!!

Friday night and all day yesterday, I attended a district in-service that was mandatory for all of our administrators. We were asked to bring a team of 10 or so teachers. I truly hated to ask anyone to come to this because of it being a Friday night and a Saturday. However, I had a wonderful response and had a full contingent of teachers
attend. I was also not very happy because this was my birthday weekend. Not that I care much about birthdays anymore, but this was a special one. I had planned on having a party to celebrate, but at this advanced age, knew I couldn't go to the workshops and have a party all on the same weekend!! So that party will have to come later!!

The workshop was quite good and everyone sang happy birthday to me, which was a nice touch. The presenter said that having birthdays is a good thing, because it means you are still alive--never looked at it like that before.

So back to the pugs...........

Lucy, my darling little black girl pug, is a bit timid. However, she sometimes is the instigator of the trouble that the other dogs get into. She never gets caug
ht and always appears innocent, even when she isn't, hence her nickname, Luci"fer."

All three of our pugs like to wear dog clothes. It is so funny that they actually like to put on outfits, especially Pedro, our prissy pug. They don't have much of a wardrobe other than a couple of sweaters for the cold, Arizona winters!! However, Lucy is now sporting an outfit that certainly fits her nickname. Patrick bought it for her and she actually really likes to wear it.
So nothing profound to say in this post--just a little humor and thanks that animals can bring such joy and laughter to our lives!!

Sunday, January 4, 2009

The Circle of Life

This winter break has been a very busy one for me. Even though it isn't spring, I have done a lot of "spring" cleaning around my house. It seems with my work schedule, I don't have much time to get things done at home because when I am home, it is a time to relax and unwind.

The past several days, we have gone into Phoenix to my cousin Pat's house. Her husband, Phil, is declining more and more each day. All of her children are here except for the youngest, Michael, who is oversees. Her two sisters from California have also come to be with her.

I made red and green chili meat and beans and we took it over last night. There are many of the cousins in and out and the little children are playing and having fun with each other. Cameron loves to go over there to play with his cousins. There is a park right behind the house and they love to go and play football.

Kerri has a special bond with Phil. She has been in Albuquerque visiting a friend. Yesterday when I talked to her and told her how things were going, she asked me to please tell Phil how much she loves him. So I went in to his room to tell him. He has had his eyes closed and appears to be resting and very much at peace every time I have seen him the last few times. Pat was sitting next to the bed holding his hand and his children and their spouses were all sitting around talking. I am not good with things like this, but I knew how important this was to Kerri, so I leaned over and told him what she had asked me to tell him. Pat asked him if he had heard what I said and he squeezed her hand to indicate that he had heard. Of course, I had to leave the room. I called Kerri to tell her about this and she wasn't able to talk to me. She isn't much better than I am in these situations.

As I went back to the kitchen to finish getting the tortillas cooked, I thought about how truly beautiful this whole experience is, even though it is so sad. Their house is filled with the hustle and bustle of our family being together--which is not uncommon. The football game was on and many were watching it and cheering in the living room. The kids were running around and making a lot of noise, just as they normally do. The really little ones, Rory and Bisbee, were doing what one and two year olds always do! The newest member of the family, Cole, cried for his bottle. Aunt Teresa was holding Cole, as she always loves babies. Cecilia, Marion, Yaya, Teresa Ann, Judy and I talked and laughed in the kitchen as we finished getting everything ready and then ate. It was a typical family gathering. This was how things were when my mom died. She died the way she lived. It will be that way for Phil, too.

I read a quote last night from Helen Keller that I feel is perfect for what I have felt these last several days. I wasn't looking for quotes, but saw it in a catalog that I just happened to pick up when we got home last night.

"What we have once enjoyed, we can never lose.
All that we love deeply becomes a part of us."

Friday, January 2, 2009

Happy Birthday, Kathy!

Happy Birthday, Kathy Boyer!! Today is my cousin's birthday--I won't say which birthday, but listen to the music......

Kathy is my Aunt Dot's daughter. Dot was my mom's oldest sister. This branch of the family lived in Sacramento, California where their dad, Ed, was an FBI agent for many years. Dot and Ed had six children with two sets of twins!!

Some of my favorite memories from childhood had to do with us going to Sacramento. I loved to go visit our cousins there. I also remember how excited I was when they came to Douglas which was quite often.

Probably the best memory I have was when Cecilia and I went to visit them in the summer of 1963. I was the youngest of all of the girls and I always looked up to them. That visit was so much fun as we went water skiing and I was able to tag along with all of them. Kathy and her husband, Lynn, were high school sweethearts. Lynn was (and still is) such a big tease and I loved being around all of them.

When Kathy and Lynn were married in January of 1965, I was asked to be in the wedding, as was Cecilia. I was so honored to be a part of Kathy's wedding. I am including a picture from their wedding on this post.

Kathy and Lynn currently live in Alabama. They have three wonderful children and six grandchildren who all live in Alabama. It is always so much fun to get together with all of them.

I always look forward to my visits with Kathy. I always looked up to her as a child and I truly respect her as an adult. Happy Birthday, Kathy. I love you!