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!!!!!