Meet Simon & His Friends

Come Meet Simon's Friends
More

Resources

Find out More About Cleft Lips and Palates
More

My Success Story

Learn More About Patricia and Her Story
More
Simon says stare at yourself

THURSDAY, APRIL 21, 2016

Simon says stare at yourself

Stare at yourself in the mirror, in pictures, at all angles, look at yourself in the way that makes you most uncomfortable until it doesn’t anymore. If you have scars, learn to love them.
As you get older, you get more wrinkles. So what! It’s part of getting older. Learn to see yourself as you are and learn to love what you see.
Thanks to the amazing work of surgeons over many years, and being lucky enough to grow up in a country with wonderful healthcare, I feel extremely lucky. I wear the small scar on my lip as a symbol of pride, the representation of the hard work of many and constant support of my family and friends.
It seems we are so fixated on beauty and staying forever young. But, inner beauty is really what makes someone beautiful. This needs to be the message.
 You smile with your eyes and if you have inner beauty, people will be drawn to you. So, please stare at yourself in the mirror. Your beauty should be staring right back at you and that should make you smile!

Buy Smile with Simon & Simon and the Buddy Branch Books! A Purchase Includes a Donation to Support Our Facial Differences Community!

 

You can make a difference

FRIDAY, MARCH 25, 2016

You can make a difference

Cleft Palate Foundation

1504 East Franklin Street, Suite 102
Chapel Hill, NC 27514-2820 USA
(800) 242-5338
(919) 933-9044

When I was searching the internet for a Craniofacial specialist I came across the website for The Cleft Palate Foundation. It was on this website that I was able to find the University of Illinois Craniofacial Clinic. While looking at all the resources on the Cleftline website I saw that you could purchase a cleft line bear. The teddy bear had stitches on his lip. For $10.00 you could support the Foundation and also bring a smile to a child’s face.

When I was at the University of Illinois Craniofacial clinic I saw how many children were being treated for cleft lip/palate. I had no idea how many kids are born with cleft lip/palate.

When I was born, I had surgery at about 6 months of age and then again as a teenager. I went on with my life and never really gave it much thought. I would go for dental care during my adult years and never had a problem. Until I developed an abscess. Then it changed everything. It changed my life and opened my eyes.

After doing further research, I came to learn how many children are born throughout the world with cleft lip/palate. I realized things just don’t stop once you have the initial surgical repair. Some countries, there are still thousands of children waiting to have the initial surgery. The children are looked upon as outcasts and abandoned.  My family has always contributed to the Smile Train over the years. But, I needed to do more. I felt compelled to give back. But how??

While at one of my appointments at the UIC clinic I sat and watched the steady stream of children and parents coming in for their appointments. Every seat was taken in the waiting room. It then hit me. Why don’t I buy as many of these cleftline teddy bears and give them to the children at the Clinic. And, that’s exactly what I did. I would buy 20 bears at a time because that is how many would fit in a box to be shipped to the clinic.

I would buy the bears throughout the year. I also got people at work to purchase a bear. I also would give bears out at work to people that had little kids. My thinking was every child would love a teddy bear and it teaches children at an early age that we are all different. Even teddy bears are not all exactly alike.

In the last two years I’ve been able to purchase a large number of teddy bears. It supports the Cleftline Foundation and it brings a smile to a child’s face. Plus as an added bonus, it makes me feel good.

When I came to the clinic for one of my appointments, Alma, one of the terrific nurses there told me that she gave a bear to a girl that was going off to college. The girl had been a patient of the clinic for years and she was so happy to receive the teddy bear. Alma told me the young lady was going off to college and she was going to bring it with her for her Dorm room.  That brought a smile on my face!

And yesterday, when I went to the Clinic for another appointment, Alma greeted me and told me how much the patients like the bears. A smile appeared on her face and mine. She made my day.

So you see, sometimes when you least expect it, a simple gesture can make a difference. We get so caught up with our life that we forget the small things. Those small positive gestures can turn into something wonderful and powerful. And, it creates a snowball effect. You want to do more. You want to make a difference. You want to leave a legacy of doing the right thing and doing something positive for someone. And so, more good things are coming out of being treated as an adult cleft lip/palate patient.

Buy Smile with Simon & Simon and the Buddy Branch Books! A Purchase Includes a Donation to Support Our Facial Differences Community!

The cleft line bear has stitches over its lip. It’s really adorable. And, on its ear is a tag of the 1-800 number saying that Hope and Help are on the line. Just hugging the bear makes you want to smile.

For $10.00 you can purchase a bear. You are never too old to have a teddy bear!

Never give up hope

THURSDAY, MARCH 24, 2016

Never give up hope

Today I went to get my one dental implant removed. When I walked into the Clinic, Alma, one of the R.N.’s said hello to me. She proceeded to tell me that the kids just love the teddy bears that I donate. She told me she handed one out earlier to an adult cleft lip/palate patient and was so thrilled to hug it. I told Alma, that she made my day.

I then went to dental Clinic for my appointment with Dr. Reisberg. He is not only a great Dentist but a great man. He is very caring and it’s like watching an artist at work.

He put cherry numbing gel on my front gum. While he waited for the numbing agent to take effect, he showed me two dental markups. Two dental students and a newly hired Dentist came into the room. He asked me to smile. He did careful measurements of my scar and where my midline was. They discussed options amongst themselves and he looked at me so closely, as if he was going to do a painting. He’d line things up, then ask me to smile again and this went on for about ten minutes.

It was then time for the injection. Well, it was really unbearable. They had to use a larger needle because there was so much scar tissue. 54 years worth of scar tissue. As he did the injections I begged for him to stop. Pleaded with him to just give me a moment to compose myself. But, he told me that he had just a little more to do. Maria, the assistant, handed me Kleenex. She told me she wanted to hold my hand but she didn’t know if I would swat her away. Ok, so the injection part was over. I no longer was laying stiff in the chair with my feet hyperextended.

He took the little silver cap off of the tooth. He tapped it and asked if I had any pain. I told him no pain, just a little pressure. He then tested the implant again. He asked me again if I had pain. I told him again no pain, just pressure. I opened my eyes and looked into Dr. Reisberg’s eyes. He said to me that he never saw anything like this before. He told me that he thought the implant may be good. He thought for sure that he was going to remove it at this appointment. The past two appointments, he would tap on the implant and I almost jumped off the table. He thought that perhaps the screw was too tight and when he went to loosen it in prior visits that maybe there was tissue that had adhered around the implant and that’s what caused the pain.

And so, there is still hope. I told him it must be due to the Holy Water! I bless myself with Holy Water and say a prayer each morning.

The implant was not taken out. Not at this appointment. Maybe, just maybe, the implant will turn out to be good. I have faith that all will turn out the way it’s suppose to be. I’m ok with that. If it turns out that the implant is indeed not good, then I know Dr. Reisberg has a plan to attach two crowns to the other implant. I’m in good hands.

Just when you prepare yourself for the worst, sometimes you are given some hope. And, the frown turns into a smile.

Look beyond what you first see

WEDNESDAY, MARCH 23, 2016

Look beyond what you first see

Tomorrow I go to get my dental implant removed. I dread tomorrow. I am in mourning. I’ve waited two years for my bone to grow. I had bone taken from my hip to build my palate. I then waited another year and had the rods surgically implanted into the bone so it could withstand eventual implants.  I waited two years for the bone to get strong. I was missing my front teeth for two years. But, I adapted knowing that one day I would have two beautiful front teeth because of these dental implants. I never for a moment thought the bone would not be strong enough.

As I was walking Barrett today, I came across a lawn filled with colorful Easter eggs sprinkled all over the front lawn. It hit me. My dental implant process is like I’ve been holding this very fragile egg for two years. I nurtured it and was hoping it was growing. I did everything I was suppose to do. And yet, the egg cracked. Like my bone with the screw in it, it just cracked when an attempt was made to see if it was strong enough. It wasn’t.

And so tomorrow I go to have the screw pulled out of my bone. All that time hoping and praying the bone would take. Yet, it didn’t.

I looked around the front lawn with the colorful Easter eggs. Eggs, like people come in all colors. And, an egg can be made into crepes, deviled eggs, quiche, omelet, poached, fried, scrambled, over easy, basted, and hard boiled. So many varieties.

So, my egg has a crack in it. I realized that a egg doesn’t get thrown out because it has a crack in it. It can be made into so many wonderful dishes and enjoyed.

So,this implant didn’t work. But, I have high hopes that my wonderful Dentist will be able to work his magic. I’m confident he will. He will somehow utilize my one good implant to make it into a beautiful pair of front teeth.

Sometimes things don’t go as planned. That’s when you have to realize that maybe it wasn’t meant to be. You realize a plain white egg may have a crack in it, but it’s still good. You have to look at the bright side.

Maybe it’s a coincidence that my appointment is just a few days before Easter. Easter, is celebrated as a time of rebirth and renewal. And so, I’m going to forge ahead. I might be losing my dental implant, however, I look at this as a time of rebirth/renewal for me. All will work out just how it is suppose to work out. I have faith.

We need to learn to look beyond the physical and appreciate each other for what’s on the inside not the outside.

Everyone needs a sign

TUESDAY, MARCH 22, 2016

Everyone needs a sign

My sign came to me on my way to work. I was contemplating leaving a stable job in which I had been with the company for 12 years. It would be a major move. I liked the people I worked with and knew my job. However, it was becoming very clear to me that the right thing to do was to leave.

As I was driving down the road and making my way to the gatehouse, a car was in front of me. Oh my goodness. I looked at the license plate. And there it was, right in front of me. I grabbed my cell phone and quickly took a picture. This was just too amazing. This was finally the key to the lock, the combination numbers to the safe, the answer to my prayers.

Let me go back. For a good year or two I kept seeing this number. 808. The more I noticed it, the more it appeared. The key to our file cabinet is 808, my eyes always seem to look at the clock at precisely 8:08. Our hotel room on vacation was 808. The extension
to the front desk was 808. Everywhere I looked I saw 808. The area code in Hawaii is 808-one of my favorite places to vacation. The restaurant in Las Vegas was named 808. Those numbers spoke to me. If I had a camera for every time I saw the numbers 808 it would be full. But, I didn’t need one photo album. I just needed that one picture. The picture that literally spelled it out for me.

You would think I would have gotten it earlier. I would have understood the meaning. But, no. It had to spelled out to me.

I firmly believe you have to be open to things. You have to let things in. Even though you might not understand it, you need to embrace it and go with it.

I believe in angels. I believe that you have souls watching out for you.

I’ve told my family and friends this story. Now when they see 808 they will call me, or text me saying they saw the number and were thinking of me.

I wear a bracelet with 808 on it. It’s always on. It serves as a comfort for me.

The picture that literally spelled it out for me was a license plate that read “Dad 808”.  It was right in front of me. I firmly believe that it was and is my Dad saying to me that he is with me. Always watching out for me.

My Dad died when he was only 72 years of age. I was 32 years old. He died too soon. I needed more time with him. I was lucky enough to have 20 more years with my Mom before she died. I had so much more to learn from my Dad. He was a great man. He had a heart of gold. He helped shape me. He taught me to speak up. He helped me with my confidence and told me that “education can never be taken away from you”. He was so proud of me. He was thrilled that I went into Nursing.

I remember coming home from church one Sunday and telling my Dad that they said they were praying for him. I thought to myself that he was fine. But, he knew better. A few days later he died of congestive heart failure. I was in shock. How could a man with such a huge heart die of congestive heart failure. His heart that was once so strong just gave out.

And so, eighteen years ago after my Dad died, I finally started seeing his presence. Every time I see 808 I think of my Dad. I know he is watching over me. I’m sure I saw 808 way before 18 years after his passing. But, maybe I was not ready to put the connection together. My eyes were closed but now they are open. I’m trying to make my Dad proud of me. I’m trying to do the right thing. Each and every day.

Sometimes when you least expect it, you are given a sign. It’s your choice whether or not you want to embrace it. I’m so happy I chose to make the connection. It gives me peace.

Why do bad things happen to good people?

MONDAY, MARCH 21, 2016

Why do bad things happen to good people?

Why do bad things happen to good people?

I ask myself this question and have not found a good enough answer. Is it to make us stronger? If so, I would rather lift weights.

Newborn babies are born with life threatening health conditions. Children get diagnosed with life threatening health issues. And, adults get diagnosed as well.

It’s not just health issues. It’s people who suffer from emotional, financial, and other hardships.

You hate to see anyone in pain or anyone having a rough go of it. You feel helpless.

I know I try and be very positive and say to smile because it does the body good. But when you hear that someone you know just heard that their brain tumor is back. Well, I just have to be sincere and say the F word.

Sometimes, the only thing to do is say the F word. Over and over again. Loud and clear. It makes me feel better. I don’t know why. I can’t explain it. It just feels good to say the F word.
Kids, if you are reading this, please say “Fudge”, instead.

Thank Goodness my Mom is not alive to hear me say the F word. She would give me a very disappointed look and say, “Oh honey, please don’t say that word”. But I’m almost 55 so I feel like I’ve earned the right to say it.

Please take a moment and tell your loved ones that you love them. Give them a good hug.  Raise them up. Cherish their laugh and the good times you’ve shared. Don’t put it off. Tomorrow is not a given.

The reality is bad things do happen to good people. That’s when they need you the most. Be strong for them. Sit, listen, and hold their hand.

Simon says never upstage the Bride

MONDAY, MARCH 21, 2016

Simon says never upstage the Bride

When I was a young girl I always had one ear that would stick out. No matter how I parted my hair, my ear stuck out beyond my hair. Like Mr. Potato head.

I’m not sure how old I was, maybe 10 years old. I remember my Mom taking me downtown to see this doctor. The minute, I walked in his office, I could smell the rubbing alcohol. From what I can recall, the doctor gave me 10 injections in each ear of novacaine or something along those lines. I screamed with each injection. It really was torture. I was screaming and crying as my Mom tried to comfort me. The doctor then surgically pinned my ears back. He took tissue off each ear to make my ears smaller. This was all done in his office. No day surgery with IV sedation. Not back then. It is hard to write this because I remember those injections to numb the pain. The injections were the worst part.

After he was done, he bandaged my head up in gauze. I’m not talking a little gauze. No. My whole head was wrapped up like I just had brain surgery. No piece of hair was showing. Just me and my head wrapped in a turban of white gauze.

I remember going home and the injections wearing off. It was unbearable pain. My ears were throbbing and nothing stopped the pain. I don’t remember taking pain medication. I am not even sure if he gave my Mom anything to give me. I remember being in our basement, being held by my Mom as she rocked me. She was beside herself. I was inconsolable. The pain was just terrible. My Mom would rock me and try and comfort me but it didn’t work. I needed some IM Demerol or something strong like that. I remember my Mom finally giving me some Irish Whiskey to sip. Irish household so Irish whiskey was in the cabinet. It did the trick. I fell asleep in my Moms arms. Come to think of it, maybe that is why as an adult I loved Irish coffee!

About a week or so later, I remember going with my family to our neighbors wedding. Seriously. There I was in a cute dress and my head wrapped in gauze. I have no idea what my parents were thinking. Clearly they could see my head was wrapped in gauze. You would think that one of them would have stayed home with me while my family went to the wedding and reception. But, no. I went. And, I was happy to go. I remember smiling and having a good time at the wedding and reception.

Can you imagine the horror on the Brides face when she saw me with my head wrapped up in a white turban. And, the guests. Talk about taking away from the Bride. Well that’s what I did. I knew I looked different and stood out. But, I didn’t care. It was as if I forgot I was walking around with my head wrapped in white gauze. I knew I had surgery. I knew I had a bandage (albeit a HUGE bandage) and I was ok with that. And so were my parents.

I know that is where I got my spunk. My confidence. My family never made me feel different. They encouraged me to go out and play. To make friends. To smile and laugh. To love life.

I’d love to reach out to the Bride to apologize some forty five years later about showing up at her wedding looking like a mummy to some extent. I know I took away from her special day. Knowing her and her family, they were good sports and said it was fine for me to attend. But, I still crack a smile when I remember the day I went to her wedding wearing a white turban. I so stuck out! I am smiling just recalling this. I’m sure I’m in her wedding album. Please forgive me!

God Bless The Day Susie Was Born

MONDAY, MARCH 21, 2016

God Bless The Day Susie Was Born

Little did I know that I already had a best friend even before I was born. Susie is my sister. We are about 18 months apart. She has always been my protector, my side kick, my partner in crime, my  supporter, my shoulder to lean on and my buddy.

See, when we were young, I always used Susie as my excuse. I would write on the sofa cushions with a Bic pen and tell my parents that Susie did it. I would fall asleep chewing gum and would wake up with it stuck to my hair. I’d tell my parents Susie put it in my hair. I blamed a lot of stuff on Susie and my parents bought it.

We would watch the Brady Bunch together, Bozo Circus, pretend we were wrestlers, play HORSE basketball, ride our bikes together, play catch and running bases in the front of our hose, kick the can and play hide and seek.

See, these were the days before internet, cable TV, mobile phones, texting and Facebook. You went out and played and came home before dark. You ate dinner as a family. And, you talked about how your day was. The girls set the table and cleared the dishes.

I went to Kelly Day Camp as a young girl and came home crying after the first day. I told my parents that I was not going back to camp. The kids bullied me. They made fun of me because I had a scar and talked with a slight speech impediment. My Dad had already paid for the summer. And, this camp was not cheap. My parents tried to talk me into going back. Give it another go. I said, “no.” And so, Susie went in my place. She went to this day camp for me. The entire summer. June, July and August. I never remember Susie being mad at me for having to take my place.

My first day of high school I was petrified. I had made friends in grade school but none of my close friends were going to Regina Dominican. I believe I was crying for days knowing that the first day of high school was approaching. I remember my sister making sure she was with me on my first day of school. She was there to take me to each class and made sure I survived my first day of high school. I was so afraid of leaving my comfort zone and going to a new school. But, there was Susie with me each step of the way, holding my hand and making sure I would make it. And, I did!

Susie also took me driving. I had no permit. Nor did I have a drivers license. But, she would take the car out and we would change seats. She would let me drive around the area. Those were the days. Windows rolled down and the radio blaring.

As we got older, Susie and I would go downtown to Rush street on the weekends. We would go from bar to bar and dance and drink and drink and dance. We had a blast. And, we always made sure we were home before our 2 a.m. curfew. Well, a few times we were a little late. We did use the pay phone to call my parents telling them we would be a little late. We would pull up to the house and all the lights were on. We were in big trouble. Big trouble.

After I graduated from high school I went to Felician College while trying to figure out what I wanted to do. I graduated from Felician College with an Associate of Arts degree. I then decided I was going to be a Nurse. I applied to Evanston Hospital School of Nursing.  A prerequisite was high school chemistry. I had never taken high school chemistry. So, that meant I had to take a chemistry class in order to get into nursing school. I signed up and started my chemistry class at North Park
College. After the second class I realized I would not pass this class. This was a college chemistry class and it was way over my head. I never took high school chemistry. So, I came home and told my parents that I was going to drop the class. It meant that I would have to go to Loyola Academy and take high school chemistry. Mind you, I had graduated from high school and had my Associate degree. But, I needed that high school chemistry class and this was the only way I could do it. So, I took chemistry at Loyola Academy two years after I graduated from college.

That wasn’t really the bad part. The bad part was this-I had made plans to go to China with Susie at the end of the summer. We were all booked-airfare and tour. But, the class at Loyola was still going to be held when we were suppose to go to China. What did I do? I told my parents and sister that I could not go to China because I was still gonna be in class.  The trip was to be cancelled. But wait, my Mom and Dad decided to go on the trip with Susie. I’m laughing as I write this. I know Susie could have killed me. But, she didn’t. She went on the trip with my parents while I stayed home andwent to  summer  school. Susie, yet again was my hero.

I passed the chemistry class and went on to become a Nurse. I worked at Northwestern on a female gynecology oncology unit for two years. I then spent a few years traveling the country while doing nursing for 4 month temporary assignments ( Irvine California, West Palm Beach Florida, King
George County hospital in Maryland, Phoenix and Univ of California in San Francisco.)  I was a “traveling nurse”. They would give you a one day orientation to the unit, then you were on your own. In San Francisco, I worked on the AIDS floor. This was first in any hospital. Before you could go into any room you had to gown and glove. These patients were all in isolation. This shows you how far we have come in healthcare.

I returned home one summer and went downtown with Susie to see the beautiful lakefront. Susie andI were walking along the lakefront when all of a sudden, KABOOM. I fell in an open MANHOLE. Yes, you read that correctly. When Susie realized I was not walking next to her, she looked back and saw me hanging by my elbows as my body was hanging through the manhole. Somehow, Susie was able to put her arms under my arms and after a few tries, I was able to get out of the manhole. She saved me yet again. Honest to God, there was no drinking involved. We were just walking and talking and laughing.

I came out to my sister when we went to the Wisconsin State Fair. I was in my mid to late twenties.  I was so afraid to come out to her. I was so afraid of being rejected or being a disappointment. I knew in my heart that she would be loving and approving but there was always that possibility of rejection. Some of my friends suffered horrible rejection from their parents, siblings and friends. And even though I knew that would not happen I just was so afraid of the possibility. I lived my life in secrecy.

You have to understand that times were different back then. Being gay was considered a sin and I was brought up Catholic and attended all Catholic schools. It’s hard to put into words. I know Susie was upset that I did not come out to her first. I had told my sister Sherry a few months earlier. I know that hurt her deeply that I did not tell her first. That is on me and has nothing to do with Susie. It was my fear.

As a young adult, my fear of coming out led me to live in secrecy. But, I knew I could not live my life as a lie. And so, I came out to my family, friends and co workers. I am who I am. You either like me or you don’t.  I was Susie’s Maid of Honor and she was my Maid of Honor.

Susie has always accepted me for being me. She has such a kind, loving heart. She has volunteered with me as I become more active in the cleft lip/palate community. As we get older, our bond becomes even stronger. Susie has helped shape my life-for the better. I am a better person because of her.

Not sure how this happened, but we are now going to Estate Sales. And, Susie turned me on to butterflies. We were in Aruba and we went to the Butterfly farm. She knew a lot of the names of the butterflies and would say, “Look, there is a Monarch”. A butterfly would land on me and she would quietly whisper to me that it’s good luck if a butterfly lands on you.

I’m lucky alright! God sent me my angel and her name is Susie. My Boopie!

Never let anyone put a hand on you

SUNDAY, MARCH 20, 2016

Never let anyone put a hand on you

The “Slap”

When I was a young child I had a speech therapist come to the house to help me with my speech. She was a friend of a friend. I was maybe 7 years old.

Now you may think, wow, you had a speech therapist come to you house? Yes. This was the 60’s. Doctors used to make house calls as well. There was no Craniofacial team of doctors and specialists back then.

So, anyway, I was in the breakfast room with the speech therapist. I was practicing my pronunciation. I had exercises to do and I was saying the words out loud. Well, evidently I did not say the words correctly. The therapist slapped me hard across my face. She slapped me!

My Mom came rushing into the breakfast room to see what the commotion was. I told my Mom that she slapped me across the face. The therapist did not deny it. She actually told my Mom that I was not saying the words correctly.

I remember this part very clearly. My sweet, soft spoken Mom who would never hurt a fly said in a very strong and loud voice, “Don’t you ever lay a hand on my daughter. Ever. Get out of the house and never come back”.

Well that was that. No more speech therapist. My Mom would be my speech therapist.

That experience helped shape my life. My Mom stood up for me and took
on the role of helping me speak better. Pronunciate my words.  We practiced words like thirst, first, shirt, sugar, etc.

Nowadays, this person would have been arrested and charged with battery. But not back then.

Recently, when I told the speech therapist at the UIC, she could not believe it. But, you have to remember that was in the 60s and things were very different. Very different.

For me, I would not change a thing. The “Slap” was an experience that I share because it says a lot without saying a lot.

Never let anyone lay a finger on you. Speak up for yourself. Know that you are not perfect -no one is. And, make sure you surround yourself with people that lift you up. People that are positive and forward thinking. People that embrace and give a good hug! No slaps, just smiles!

Simon says always have a back up plan

SUNDAY, MARCH 20, 2016

Simon says always have a back up plan

Oh my God! Have you ever lost your phone? You search your purse, your pockets, your coat pockets looking for your phone. However, you can’t find it. All of a sudden you start going into a panic. You tear your house apart. You tear your car apart. You use someone else’s phone to call your mobile phone to see if you can hear your special ring.

You say to yourself that it has all your information in it. Phone numbers, access to your Email, your pictures-well, everything. For the life of you, you can’t remember anyone’s phone number. If you had to call someone from memory you realize your brain is mush. It’s not your fault. It’s Apple, Samsung, etc.  They made you rely on technology so much that you can’t rely on your memory to recall phone numbers, addresses, last names, Doctor’s names or how to get to point A to Point B without the darn mobile phone.

Remember when you knew all of your friends phone numbers by heart? You used to use a telephone book to look up the address for a plumber or painter. You knew how to read a map and carried maps in your car. For me, I had maps of the City of Chicago, Wisconsin and  a highway map of the United States.

You carried people’s business cards in your wallet. If you needed someone’s number you would rifle through your wallet reviewing your stack of business cards. You then would use your phone at home (land line). Or, if you were out, you would always make sure you had plenty of quarters with you in case you needed to use a pay phone. Back then, pay phones were everywhere-gas stations, food stores, bars, etc.

Land lines and pay phones are becoming extinct. So is the answering machine. I’m the type of person that will always have a land line. Just in case. And, of course, I have to have the answering machine hooked up to the phone. Again, just in case. Now, the only time I use the land line is to call my cell phone number to see if I can hear the cell phone ringing and then I can locate the cell phone.

Oh yes, the cell phone. It was lost. I unknowingly dropped it at a restaurant while having dinner. I realized I didn’t have my phone when I got home. I tore the house apart, the car and checked the pockets of all the clothes I was wearing. I retraced my steps and used my Ipad to Google the restaurant’s phone number and then used my land line to call the restaurant. After speaking to several people and describing where in the restaurant I was sitting they found my phone. It was as if I won the lottery. They had my phone. My connection to the world was only disconnected for a few hours. I made a sign of the cross and said, “thank you Jesus”.

Now, if only Gino’s East would call me to tel me they found my wallet. That will not be happening. My wallet was stolen the day after Christmas while at the restaurant in downtown Chicago. My hometown. I was not traveling abroad or in a different state. I was in Chicago. Drivers license, credit cards, cash station card, insurance cards, gift cards and treasured pictures-stolen. Never to be returned.

You don’t realize how much you use something until it’s gone. It’s these life lessons that speak to you. An IPhone and wallet can all be replaced. Albeit a real pain but still replaceable. These are objects. Objects. One thing that can never be replaced is your family and friends. All the memories, laughter, good times, special moments and the love you feel in your heart knowing you are loved!