Wind Beneath My Wings

This song was playing on the car radio the other day and it started me thinking how much my mother influenced me with her encouragement and support.

She was my biggest cheerleader and supporter.

I remember she told me when I was born that Joe went to the Tatham Social Club and told everyone there that I was the prettiest baby girl in the nursery. It’s not that I actually was; what’s important is that every loving father thinks his daughter is the best and every loving mother tells her daughter she is the best.



She told me it was the happiest day of her life when I was born~she had a daughter~after having 2 sons.


Once I had applied for a job and Mare inquired what was happening. I stated maybe they didn’t like me. Immediately she said “How could they not like you?”

There was a Seinfeld episode with the very same theme. Remember when Jerry was pitching a pilot to NBC and he was waiting out their decision and he said “Maybe they don’t like me.” Mrs. Seinfeld reacted, “How could they not like you?” Every loving parent thinks the same thing and communicates it.

I had Mare’s approval on the way I dressed and how I decorated and cared for my home. She was always complimentary and I often overheard her talking to her friends and family about me.

My hair~not so much. She would tell me if it looked messy or dry and suggest I needed a deep conditioner. Once, when I said to her she needed a good haircut, she said: “You know, sometimes your hair looks like a horse’s tail, but I don’t say anything because it isn’t nice.” I think that’s a mother-daughter thing and probably a topic for another story.  Here’s me having an 80’s bad hair day.


She thought I was smart and believed I knew everything. Really. She would ask a question and if I said “I don’t know”, she would say, “But you have your Master degree.” Seriously.

Once, we were in the hardware store shopping. She needed garbage bags for the kitchen waste bin. I picked up a box of 250 bags. She asked if that was enough, should she get 2 packages? I said, “Well if you use one bag a week, this package would last 5 years.” She turned to the pimply faced young boy who was helping us and said, ” My daughter is very smart. She has her Master’s.” He must have thought, “Oh boy, it’s gonna be one of those days.”


It wasn’t that I thought I knew everything; Mare conveyed to me that she had faith in me to reason anything out, big or small. Here I am at my graduation from Our Lady of the Elms College. Happy moment.


Mare was proud of my degrees and what I accomplished in college. It was Mare who financed my undergraduate degree and she gave me monthly living expense money  when I was in grad school. She was the one who made it possible to start and complete my education and go on to have a successful career. Here we are at my graduation from UCONN School of Social Work.


She took pride in all the positions and companies that I worked for over the years in my Human Resources career. I have always said that ‘behind every successful person is a woman.’ For me, it was Mare.

Receiving a service award from VP Navroze Mehta.


Here I am in a corner office, wooden desk, and leather chair.


She helped me run my home when I was working long hours or traveling extensively. She did my errands. She arranged and met the repairmen and contractors at my home. She did stuff that needed to be done at my home. She varnished my sun-room that was covered in knotty pine paneling, walls and ceiling, one hot summer day. She had a neighbor remove a snake she found in my yard. Little things, big things, she took care of what needed to be done, to make my life easier.


She was concerned about the effects the demands of work had on me and how emotionally draining it all was. I had dinner with her every night at her home [when I wasn’t traveling] and she was always nurturing and encouraging. A home cooked meal and a glass of wine and upbeat conversation~balm for the soul. Remember, Mare and Joe took care of my dog Casey for me while I was at work. What a Gift!


At one point, she suggested that I train to become a yoga teacher as she knew how much I enjoyed going to yoga classes and how much I gained in fitness and relaxation. In retrospect, I should have given more thought to her suggestion.

When she thought I needed help or advise she gave it. Mostly, what I remember of her loving, challenging, important words to me were:

Be bold.  Persevere. Show compassion.

These were the hallmarks of her personality and her legacy.


The thing is, the regrettable thing is, I didn’t let her know that she was the wind beneath my wings.

Lesson learned~ Tell people, show people how they have encouraged and influenced you throughout your life.


Tribute to Theresa


The mother of my friend died on July 4, 2016. Cheryl asked me to give the eulogy at the funeral mass at St. Ann’s Church in South Hadley, MA.

Today, with heavy hearts, we come together in this solemn space, to celebrate the life of Theresa and to mourn her loss in our lives.

We learn from the events of her life, our own lives, that life is unpredictable. And yet, we go on each day weaving our dreams, making plans, taking steps towards what we think will make us and others happy.

Theresa had big dreams and she put her whole self into making them a reality. Her sights went beyond the farm she grew up on, with her loving parents and sister. She did not feel bound by the earth.

She looked to City lights and a career in modelling. And, although she  achieved  some acclaim in modelling, it was not to be her lifetime career, nor would she experience celebrity and all the wealth and perks that go along with that. Yet, she was happy that she strove and attained a piece of the pie, however small.

She was accepted into a prestigious, private college and that was a proud moment for her and her family. During the 3 years that she attended, she loved the college atmosphere, drawing in all that knowledge, being exposed to new ideas, contemplating what was possible.

Completion of the degree would elude her. Yet, she used what knowledge and skills she learned at AIC and the Charm School and the modelling School as well as her own innate intelligence to craft a work life that was satisfying and successful and earned her own money.

This period would not last long as she had married and now had a baby daughter to care for. Theresa was keen to see that she and her husband did not share the same dreams and values to make for a happy marriage and family. After the divorce, the gold dust she gleamed from this short relationship was her daughter Cheryl.

It was as if the heavenly angels brought these two spirits–Theresa and Cheryl– together for mutual caring, encouragement, friendship, and love.

They did exciting things together. They went on short trips. Theresa bought Cheryl the latest fashions. They lunched on tomato soup and grilled cheese sandwiches. They had fun together!

Of course, underneath the fun times and adventures, was the stress and struggle of being a single Mom and raising a daughter. Theresa did it with such grace and poise, others could hardly notice the sacrifices she was making for Cheryl.

Cheryl has become a lovely woman, inside and out. She graduated college and has enjoyed a successful career and financial prosperity. She is in a long-term loving relationship with a kind, gentle, caring man who loves her deeply and is devoted to her.

So what eluded Theresa, Cheryl has achieved. We see the values Theresa instilled in and the behavior she modeled for Cheryl, in Cheryl.

Jackie Kennedy, one of Theresa’s heroine’s once said: “If you bungle raising your children, I don’t think whatever else you do matters very much.”

This is Theresa’s legacy: her role as a single devoted mother who, on her terms, raised a beautiful daughter. A mother’s love.

We can assume from everything we know that this was God’s divine plan for Theresa. We can give Thanks to God for it.

And now, it is time to turn to God and Thank God for His promises to Theresa, to Cheryl, to Al, and to all of us for eternal life; life without beginning or end.

Jesus said “in my Father’s mansion, there are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you; For I am going, to make ready, a place for you.”

Jesus also told us “I am with you always, til the end of time.” So let’s go on, with some joy in our hearts, knowing that God has fulfilled his divine promise to Theresa. And, for us to take comfort in the Holy Spirit who God has given us. And, give heartfelt thanks for the life lived by Theresa.