The phone call that changed my life. (Part 1)

On a late August night back in 1999 I got a phone call that would forever change my life.   My late father’s cousin Charlotte called me all the way from California with an urgent need to tell me something. I was really surprised to hear her voice on the other end of the line.  We talked small talk for a minute or two and I noticed she sounded like she had had a few glasses of wine.  I started to wonder why she was calling me so late, much less at all-she never usually called me.  All I remember is her saying there is something really important she has to tell me and she asked me if I was sitting.  I told her no, but to go ahead anyway, whatever it was, I could handle it.   Within seconds my heart started to pound with tension and fear not knowing what to expect out of her mouth.

“Well,” She said, “Your dad told me before he died I can tell you this if I felt there was a reason you needed to know.” She went on to explain how bad she felt when we had talked a little over a year prior, when I called to let her know my last son Jeff was born.  Despite my happiness in my new baby, my heart was heavy as I expressed to her my disappointment in my mom.  Specifically, my mom’s reaction when I initially told her I was pregnant with this now born, beautiful baby boy and her lack of interest in being a meaningful part of my other four children’s lives.    I was bewildered as to why my mom was so crass and snippy with me when I revealed the news to her.  All my life I knew she wasn’t a big fan of kids-because of that I dreaded telling her I was pregnant again, even though this one was well thought out and planned just like the previous four.  And because I was apprehensive, I waited until I couldn’t keep it a secret any longer.   When I finally made that dreaded phone call and happily announced I was five months pregnant, (again), my mom’s reaction was a stiff, “Oh, my GOD Emily!  That’s DISGUSTING!”  It brought me to tears and flooded me with anger.  I couldn’t believe how harsh and unloving her response was.

Ever since I was a little kid my mom had a way of making me feel unloved in a variety of ways, be it a nasty look, a snarky tone or genuine intolerance of me.  My father was my saving grace.  From him I got unconditional love and a feeling that I was wanted no matter what and it was that love that was strong enough to counter balance my mom’s constant negativity.  My dad’s love  carried me into adulthood and helped me to become the stable, happy adult I am today. That conversation bothered Charlotte for months; so much so, that she felt compelled to call me and tell me the truth. And just like that, she blurted it out.   “You were adopted, Emily. I thought it was time you knew.”





Spotted in Mum’s Garden

Spotted in Mum's Garden

24″ X 24″ Acrylic on Canvas

Frivolity of Youth


36″ X 36″ acrylic on canvas

Dear Universe, hear my plan…


Sometime after my last son graduates high school we need to move to new digs.  The property taxes in my current home are astronomical and most of the tax revenue goes toward funding the district high schools.  After Jeff is done with the school system, it's obvious we need to move on.

The idea of a new home is both wonderfully exciting and scary at the same time.  The prospect of a new home gives me a sense of adventure and wonderment of what is yet to come.  I have hopes of fulfilling dreams of new things I want in my life, and for my life now that I am fifty.   I want to live simply and make positive changes.  I know that if I want all these plans to happen I must put them out there in the world so the Universe can meld and mold them into fruition.  Here goes:

We want to move to a sweet community not far from where we live now.  It must be easily accessible by expressway. I want to move to the country, preferably with a few acres on a wooded lot.  I want to have trees and wooded paths where I can  walk the dogs and enjoy nature.  A little pond or stream running through would be lovely, thank you.  In addition, I want an open area where we can have yard parties and plenty of space for the dogs and grandchildren to run and play.


My  new home will be a stone farmhouse with divided light windows, a finished attic, possibly four bedrooms and a couple of bathrooms.  It must have a large screened in porch overlooking our property where we can sit and enjoy three seasons.  What means more to me this time around is my surroundings.  I want lots of nature, expansive space, comfort and clean air.

My new home has to nurture the pursuance of my art.   I must have a heated outbuilding suitable for an art studio so I can have the space and privacy I need to treat my art as a full time job.  In this outbuilding/barn I will not only create art but I will use it for showing my work. I will have gallery showings with wine, cheese, and locals coming to mingle, gawk and buy.  This building will also facilitate art retreats and art lessons.  It will also be used for girlfriend escapes, which are a necessary factor in a woman's life-this woman's life.  Most of all, this home will be a place where my family will want to come and spend time, and where friends will flock.

I will give my little parcel of land a name.  It will be an entity worthy of a title.

We will sell our current home fairly quickly and will get a really good price for it.  The money made from this house will fully cover the cost of our new home.  The property taxes on our new home will be 30% of what we pay here in Tinley Park.

So there  you have it Sweet Universe.  I have written down my intentions and I'm sending them out to you.  Please do what you can to make this happen.

Weekly Writing Challenge: A Pinch of You

How does the old saying go — girls are “sugar and spice and everything nice,” and boys are “snips and snails and puppy dog tails”?

Aside from not knowing what a “snip” is, I don’t buy it; we’re much more complex than lollipops and unicorns and toy trucks and frogs. This week, we want a window into the complexity that is you. We want your best recipes.

We don’t mean we want your best recipe for fried chicken (although we’ll take that, too — a good fried chicken recipe is always handy). We want the recipe for all the bits and pieces and quirks and foibles and loves that make you you.



To make one over sized loaf of  ME:

This recipe calls for a large amount of strength and sanity.  Don’t skimp on these two ingredients.

4 c. optimism

3 c. spirituality

3 c. kindness

3 c. creativity

1 c. simplicity

1 c. romance

½ c. bitch (any brand will do)

1/2 c. insecurity (finely aged)

½ c. vulnerability

1/4 c. gypsy

3 oz. solitude

4 tbsp. boldness

1 oz. of worry

Snip of anger

1 Jane Eyre novel-shredded

6 Seasons of Sex and the City finely chopped

Squirt of cadmium red acrylic paint

12 Zinnias (assorted colors)

Sprig of lavender

Flavor with a generous amount of Stevie Nicks

1 whole single of New York State of Mind

Rolling in the Deep ground to perfection

2 repeats of Gimme Shelter

A pinch of witch

1 pot of freshly brewed coffee (with cream and sugar)

3 dashes of bawdy humor
Generous pinch of self-doubt

Sugar and cinnamon to taste

1 pair of  black round rimmed specks

1 fresh tube of Bobbi Brown True Pink lipstick

A splash of Lovely cologne
2 sparkly piercings

3 pounds of long blond hair


Combine all ingredients in an extra-large, vintage ironstone bowl. Using an old wooden spoon, fold in ingredients until adequately combined-there will be lumps. Let rise for two sleeps or until mix is ripe and feminine.

Serve with a generous slice of mancake.  Preferably tall, dark and handsome.  

Store unused portion in a cool, air conditioned room, with a comfortable bed.



(What does your recipe for yourself consist of?   Here’s the link:

Daily Prompt: Mirror, Mirror

When I look in the mirror I see someone who isn’t really comfortable with her chin.  (There, that’s better…put the phone in front of your mouth-hide that chin, I think to my self.)  But, in reality, I know I  need to cut this wonderful soul and her reflection a break.  Because despite her physical imperfections, she’s really fun, artistic, smart, and loving, and when the people who love me are with me they don’t see what I see.



Weekly Photo Challenge: Nostalgic

Weekly Photo Challenge: Nostalgic

Me and my dad. I hated the hair dryer-it scared me. He came over to make me feel more at ease. The doll didn’t help, either.

Remember those old bonnet style hairdryers?  They made a “whrrr” sound and had a funny smell.

Weekly Photo Challenge: Companionable

When I was in Venice, I spotted these men just sitting at the base of this beautiful doorway-three friends catching a break probably from work.  The were smiling and laughing and seemed to be enjoying each other.  True companions.

Weekly Photo Challenge: Fleeting


A few weeks ago I was in Venice with my family and as we were crossing one of the many pedestrian bridges I spotted this mime looking up at us.  The pigeon and the mime seem to be keeping each other company, but if only for a moment.

A fleeting moment in time, a random mime and a pigeon.

A fleeting moment in time, a pigeon and a mime.

A little tribute to my father

My father’s eyes were the most beautiful shade of pale blue, like azure crystals. I’ll never forget them. During the time my father had terminal  cancer,  he and I went for breakfast one morning when he was still able to get around.   I remember sitting across the table from him engaged in conversation,  and as I looked at him,  the  thought came  to me, “Remember those beautiful eyes.  Never forget how full of life they are and how they sparkle.  Never forget.” 

                                                                                                                                 Some time in the late 1970’s, myself, my dad, Emil and my mom, Annie

It’s been 30 years since I last saw my father. He was a short, handsome guy who was partially bald. He was the most fantastic man. Everyone loved him and he had many friends. He could fix anything, and he loved to garden and bake.  We lived in Chicago, and the little garden plot next to our house was always abloom with color bursting from the rows and rows of dahlias and gladiolas he grew. My dad was always anxious for the gladiolas to  open up because they were his favorite.  Gladiolas were his August birthday flower and as soon as they were ready, he’d cut a bundle of them and proudly display them in a vase in the middle of our kitchen table. He always grew a large vegetable garden every year and I still remember all summer long the tasty bundles of  leaf lettuce, onions and juicy tomatoes we’d pick just before eating our sandwiches.   My father was Bohemian and knew how to bake all kinds of delicious goodies.  My favorite was baked Houska (sweet braided bread with raisins), and it was so good it even topped the loaves you could buy at the corner bakery.  And when I was small, he always made me my own little loaf in a little, mini pan.  Love.

My father adored me.   I was the proverbial ‘daddy’s girl.’ We got along great, but there were times when he was moody. For instance, I could tell how the day was going to go depending on the tone he used to say “good morning” when I ran into him in the kitchen. And when I’d help him work on small odd jobs he always managed to lose his temper because I inadvertently didn’t do something right and he’d lose patience with me.  Funny, but now that I look back at those times I have to smile because I was kind of dopey!

My father taught me so much when I was a child, but one of the things about him I remember the most is the relationship he had with other people.  It seemed that everyone loved him.  He was funny and generous and good hearted.  He was a great neighbor and on the job he was loyal to his peers and as a Union Steward, an advocate to his fellow factory workers.  He always taught me to treat my guests like gold, and was a living example to me on how to be a good friend.

What I do know more than anything is that he loved me unconditionally. And for that, I’ll be forever grateful. I don’t think I’d be the person I am today if I didn’t grow up with his love and encouragement. One thing I didn’t think would ever happen is that I’d lose him. As a little girl, I remember imagining what would happen if he died and I’d be gripped by the horrible  feeling of how unbearable life would be without him.  He was a two pack a day smoker and I was always afraid the cigarettes would make him sick, I had a gut feeling he was the one, not my mom,  who would suffer from the affects of smoking.  It turns out my intuition was spot on.  He began to get the symptoms of lung cancer during my senior year of high school.  He got sicker and sicker until he lost his battle at the very young age of 52.  And just as I had predicted, life was unbearable without him for a very long time.

There isn’t a day that has gone by since July 24th, 1982 that I don’t think of him. I was 18 when he died, and now, even though I’m now 50,  there are still times when I’m sad and deeply wish he was here with me.  I still need him when times get tough, or when I need some advice only he could give. I wish he were here to hug my children and witness them growing up and  see all I’ve accomplished in this life. I would have loved if he had the chance to have a meaningful relationship with my husband,  and it would have been so cool if  we were given the chance to watch each other grow older. How I would have loved more than anything to have him here with me through the past 30 years.


To Dad- where ever you might be, I hope you still feel the warmth of the sunshine and are held close to God.  I know He’s got you right there with him-I pray He takes good care of you.  I miss you more than you can imagine   I will never forget you and I love you more than a thousand sunsets-even still.  —Emmy


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