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I’m not sure exactly when I first met Anton Cobb. I do know it was in the Chocolate Moon, a congenial coffee shop in Elmhurst that I frequented.

I do remember the first time Anton served me in the Moon; decaf, skim, vanilla latte, in a mug. He had grown from the young boy I first met to a young man in what seemed like no time at all and there he was, one fine day, brewing everyone’s favorite coffee beverages.

In even less time he was off to college, though he would spend time in the Moon when home on break. A cordial and good-natured person, Anton would always acknowledge what our Katy christened as “the Moonies”; a gathering of “regulars” who became friends there, including Anton’s mom. The Chocolate Moon had a life of its own. In fact, it probably has a book of its own; stories for another time.

Eventually, Anton moved away. Far way, in fact. His endeavors led him to Oregon, and that is really where this post leads as well.

Anton set a table, a chair, a flower and a tablecloth in a bustling park in Portland during his lunch hour. There he sits, each week, giving up his lunch money so that children will not go hungry. He invites passers-by to join him in his goal to help feed boys and girls who might otherwise go unfed. His efforts have not only helped the Oregon Food Bank feed children, but they came to the attention of media.

I could tell you my version of Anton’s hOUR LUNCH, but, he does it so much better, with passion and enthusiasm, that I would like to invite you to hear more about hOUR LUNCH from Anton Cobb himself,  on TED, perhaps while you are sitting down to eat your own lunch.

Well done, Anton. Well Done.

We are all proud of you – and inspired as well.

(I originally wrote this post after seeing Anton’s Ted Talk with the intention of publishing it today, unaware that today is Anton’s father’s birthday. It is interesting how the stars seem to align at times. I know that Anton’s mom, Janet (Blogging from the Bog) is very proud of  him, and I am sure that his dad, Fred, is looking down from above, equally proud. ) 

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DSCN8157Sunday.

Mother’s Day.

One of those mellow days of love and recognition that seemed to flow slowly and deliberately into a forever memory.

After Sunday worship, we went to Jennifer and Jason’s for brunch. Egg strata, bacon, salad and Mimosa’s. As I sipped and savored, I remembered another Mother’s Day, more than three decades past, where a toddling Jennifer brought me breakfast in bed. On that long ago morning,  I opened my eyes to a wee darling saying “happy Mother’s Day Mommy” as she slowly settled a plate of breakfast in front of me.

I remember it vividly.

A dollop of strawberry yogurt with Cheerios on top, toast, and a few slices of hard salami on the side.

This year; mimosas, egg strata, salad, coffee and Kringles.

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On our way home, Tom and I stopped at Lilacia Park in Lombard, where it is lilac time. Though the skies were gray and it was cool, the lilacs and tulips were resplendent.

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I took too many photos. Everywhere I looked was color and contrast, statements of nature painted on every stem, beads of moisture clinging to petals and leaves, a concert of color singing all-the-more brightly in the absence of sun. You can imagine my bliss as I tiptoed among the tulips, my indulgent and supportive  husband at my side.

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.

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IMG_7400Some spring days start by getting down and dirty amid tender shoots, plant divisions and cuttings, all while setting out a festive French picnic with some of the most delightful women around, and end up in the company of one of the sweetest persons on earth, our daughter Jennifer.

Monday was one of those spring days.

Our garden club held is springtime plant sale. Members bring divisions, cutting, slips and shoots that are sold. I only brought a few plants home this time – and that was because I was one of several women who were the month’s hostesses. Our garden here are abundant with plants that made their way up the Cutoff from the gardens of our club’s members.

DSCN8020While members of the horticulture committee were trying not to get dirt on their clothes arranging pots of herbs, perennials, and grasses, the hostesses set up a springtime Parisian lunch. From croissants to cream puffs, and everything in between, it was a tasty spread and a delightful group to serve with and I saw the hort ladies working hard, trying to show the members various plant donations while making sure the Mansion was kept clean.

As I sat down for an informative presentation on plants to use for outdoor pots, my phone pulsed and there was a message from Jennifer, wondering if I would like to meet up with her for some shopping at the Oak Brook Shopping Center.

Would I?  When a daughter rings I’m thrilled, so, when the meeting was done and our cars re-loaded with all the accouterments of a French picnic. I headed to Oak Brook to find Jennifer.

Aren’t cell phones wonderful?

We shopped and talked and stopped for some little bites at the Nordstrom Cafe, and talked some more and I just couldn’t help but bask in the glow of a wonderful spring day. After we hugged goodbye and Jenny went her way, I mine, I got down and dirty just one more time when I saw these golden tulips dancing in the spring breeze.

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The house is quiet now. The pitter patter of little feet that ushered our grandchildren down the long hall,  through the kitchen, up and down stairs and stools and chairs and climb-upons that only children tackle have faded. The creaks and groans of the floorboards are just that; creaks and groans of an old house pushing itself back together again.

I feel a bit like a floorboard tonight, pushing myself back together again, creaking and groaning as I shift my focus from bustling granny, chief cook and bottle washer (remember that term?) to tackler of piles upon piles of this and that and the other; projects all that need some attention tomorrow.

In the quiet tonight, however, sated from a big Easter dinner, I’m feeling a tad like Peter Rabbit must have felt, soporific from overindulgence of food I don’t usually eat – with an extra helping to boot. I’ll just rest my eyes and reflect on family, both those now up north and those who were with us today, dining around our table, which also groaned and creaked with the weight of food and conversation and is just now putting itself back together.

I’ll just be still while the nearly full moon winks at me through the eyebrow window in our bedroom and I’ll give thanks for the joy of t0day and the promise of tomorrow.

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DSCN7733Something white caught my eye.  There they were, a generous mass of springtime, clustered on the ground as we were leaving Brookfield Zoo on Wednesday; snowdrops – and not the cold, wet, flakey kind!

The trees are starting to bud. The grass is greening. My daffodils are inching forward and many are showing plump, yellow tips. Best of all, there is a full chorus of spring peepers down the road in the little pond.

A walk in the Little Red Schoolhouse Woods had this little miss swinging her coat like a kite and her shadow skipping along the path,

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and this young lad hugged his Papa for a long, long while and then he explored the nature center.

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Today we will color Easter eggs and perhaps watch trains go by, as our Ezra really loves trains, and we will have some quiet moments as we reflect upon the gift of Easter.

Peace and  blessings to each of you.

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“Have courage and be kind” . . .

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. . .  and so, we put our heads down and pushed into the wind on the birthday of a little princess. Mommy, Aunty Jenny, Yia Yia, and the little girl just turning five embarked upon a girls’ day out on Sunday to see the new Disney movie, Cinderella.

How can I possibly describe the pure joy of viewing a fantasy fairy tale with the three most cherished girls in my life? We shared tubs of popcorn and Skittles and giggled at the Disney short feature about Anna and Elsa, the movie Frozen’s lead characters. That the feature was about a surprise party for Anna on her birthday just added to magic. We pretended (okay, I pretended) that Anna and Kezzie have the same birthday. Why not? I’m the grannie and grannies can make up whatever they want. Bippity boppity boo.

An underlying theme in this version of Cinderella are the last words Cinderella’s mother speaks to her, “have courage and be kind”. Not bad advice in fantasy or real life.

As grandparents with grandchildren who live very far way, the moments of being near our little ones are often infrequent, so, like many of you we have to seize what moments we have and savor them to last a bit longer when distance keeps us apart. So, we have these few days, and will for the next few, going for walks, cooking, enjoying our meals, playing, reading stories, hiding in blanket forts and engaging in adolescent concerts.

I’ll be busy for a few more days, my friends, so, here are a few photos of our time so far, as we make the most of our time together in the next few days.

Ezra chilling out with Papa, and dressing against the chill for some fun in the yard.

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IMG_7144Making music together.

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Helping Yia Yia make eggs for brunch with Aunty Jenny and Uncle Jason,

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and birthday celebrations.DSCN7639 DSCN7641

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IMG_7103Most days, when I awake, I look into the mirror, smile or frown, and have a bit of a greeting with my mom.

“Hi, Ma”  I say and she smiles or frowns back at me, depending on my mood, with our likenesses  more profound the older I get – and the closer I come to the age she died.

I think of Ma more vividly on special days; her birthday, mine, holidays, and the Ides of March, which is the day she passed away. It was also the birthday of my Aunt Christine. We had several years in our family where one or the other relative passed on one of our birthdays.

At any rate, I’ve been thinking of my mom and about her last gift to me.

Just days before her death, on a sunny afternoon in her hospital room, Ma patted her bed for me to come over and sit. She was bandaged and bruised where the doctor has attempted putting a port in for her to receive chemo. Unfortunately, the cancer had spread too far and there was nothing to be done but to make her comfortable.

On this particular day, March 10 or 11, Ma was very cognizant and she wanted to talk with me. She made her simple wishes known and then we talked about faith and her dying.

My mother’s faith was simple and unquestioning. She wasn’t all that afraid; just enough so to want to talk about it, and so we did. We talked about God and heaven and those she would see again, especially my father. We cried and held hands and she called me her rock (a title I never wanted) and in those moments together my mother gave me the last gift I would ever receive from her. She gave me her love and showed me how to say goodbye with grace and dignity.

We were all with her when she passed. I was right at her side and I have always known that I caught her last breath before she went home.

It wasn’t until somewhat recently that I realized I gave her a gift as well. I gave her the moments she needed to put her thoughts and beliefs to rest, to talk about dying – and to say goodbye. It is funny, isn’t it, the things we continue to learn from our parents, long after they are gone?

This morning, when I awoke, we smiled at each other, on this the Ides of March.

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