October 29, 2013. A very special day.
Today is my beautiful and loving Mom’s 80th Birthday. I am blessed that she is still living and going strong. And I’m super-pumped that I will be seeing her this weekend out here on the West Coast.
In celebration of her 80th Birthday, I have created my “Top 80 Memories” of the most special Mom in the world. Here we go (in no particular order):
“80 things I love about Mom:”
1. She always did my laundry EVERY night throughout Pop Warner and high school football, basketball, and baseball. I said EVERY NIGHT!
2. Having my bowl of Honey Nut Cheerios ready every AM.
3. Driving the “Faz” mobile around when I was young.
4. Her traveling to Tokyo, Japan, in 1993 with the other parents from William & Mary when we played in the Epson Ivy Bowl there while in college.
5. To show me what PATIENCE looks like.
6. She showed me what it means to exemplify LOVE everyday.
7. “I just don’t understand.”
8. For taking 29 of us, literally, on a cruise to Bermuda, in 1994 with the entire inheritance that she received from a close friend. Her philosophy was that she wanted the entire family “locked-up” on a ship for a week with nowhere to go but each other. Damn, that was awesome.
9. Coming to visit me in France in 1995 when I was playing football over there after college. It’s interesting that she happened to be there when I had my devastating back injury.
10. Her love affair with Disney World. She’s had season passes for the past 15 years down in Orlando and just goes and walks around.
11. Her STRENGTH. Mind and body.
12. Her 95 lbs of pure muscle.
13. How she always had a warm wash-cloth wiping my neck and mouth whenever I’d be sick & puking growing up. Not sure why I remember that, but I do!
14. Her fortitude & faith.
15. Her “Durkin piles.”
16. Coupons. Coupons. And more coupons. And double Coupons on Wednesdays. She still sends me coupons today. And it makes me smile.
17. How I split my back open when I was 5 doing a back-flip off a chair. I definitely needed stitches. But Mom told me to wait 20 minutes so she could cut some coupons out and go to the store after the hospital. It must have been a Wednesday Double Coupon Day.
18. Little hamburgers for dinner about 3 nights per week. And meatloaf the other nights.
19. Spetzel for dinner was a treat.
20. And a real treat was Caesar’s pizza at the Laurelton Circle.
21. Her ice-skating on the frozen streets to the Curcio’s to play cards.
22. Our dog “Sparky” who protected Mom like she was the queen. That thing would literally snap at you if you went in her room at night.
23. Her breaking a wooden spoon on my butt when I misbehaved when I was about 5. I was a runt. Literally. And prided myself on the fact that I snapped that thing.
24. Coffee. About a pot a day. And a ton of cream and even more sugar.
25. We sent Mom to a nice destination spa a few years back and they asked everyone to hydrate with a ton of water while there. Little did we know that Mom rarely even drank water. And then we found her putting sugar packets in her water to sweeten it.
26. Did I say she loves coffee? And sugar?
27. She loves the role of nanny to her 14 grandkids.
28. She loves cruises. She’s been on 8 of them.
29. Love her plaid pants and green jacket. That thing will NEVER go out of style.
30. Her closet smoking. I had a big chat with her years ago about it and I haven’t seen her smoke since. But why does her suitcase still smell like smoke?
31. Her apple pie is the BEST—and she tops it with “hard-sauce!”
32. Mom loves to sunbathe and have tan skin. And I love that one-piece suit!
33. She sends cards for everything. Birthdays, anniversaries, dogs birthday, cat’s birthday, and any other occasions. And she includes more coupons in there!
34. “Muffy” loves butter.
35. “Muffy” loves bread. A whole meal to her today could be bread & butter and she would be content.
36. And she loves sugar. Did I already say that?
37. She loves knowing the weather report. And she loves reporting the weather to all 8 kids of the different cities we live in.
38. She still has a piece of “art” with our family being made out of driftwood.
39. Early to bed.
40. Early to rise.
41. Loves watching NASCAR. Not sure how she got into this one. And Dale Earnhardt, Jr is her guy. Yee-haw!
42. She loves watching the Saints.
43. She loves to organize. She still does that when she comes out to our house.
44. She loves to help people pack-up boxes when they are moving apartments or houses.
45. She loves doing laundry.
46. Mom was fast. I remember when I was a “young” athlete, about 7-8 years old and pretty quick myself, I could not beat my Mom in a running race. Funny thing is, I probably couldn’t beat her now either!
47. She told me she loved me every night growing up. And she always tucked us in. And I’m sure that’s why I love my special night-time routine with my kids now.
48. Building tents using the clothesline.
49. Mom helping us look things up in the encyclopedia and reading those child craft books—she still has them (Remember, Google did not exist then!)
50. Banging pots & pans on New Year’s Eve.
51. She trusted me when I was growing up.
52. Her fanny pack. She is like MacGyver. She has so many things in there that you could never imagine.
53. Her “pocketbook.”
54. She loves Cheezits. And she loves crackers.
55. There were times when I was a teen that she would make me 8 or 10 pancakes or pieces of French toast in the morning. And that was just for me. That was a lot of cooking.
56. Her love for each of her kids. She truly is like a mother duckling. And she never takes or took sides. Imagine that!
57. “Parent” Day at William & Mary, 8 months after Dad died in 1992. It sure was great to have MOM represent.
58. She taught me how to be compassionate.
59. Leisure Village.
60. She enjoys playing cards.
61. She enjoys time spent with Aunt Janet & Uncle Ed.
62. She relishes time with her other sister Valerie.
63. Crabbing in the Metedeconk River at grandma’s & grandpas when I was a kid.
64. She loves to be a care-taker. She has always had one or two people in her life that depend on her presence.
65. She is as even-keeled as they come.
66. Our trip to the dude ranch in Montana last year. I loved seeing Mom with the horses, out on the ATV’s, and hanging in the lodge.
67. Her coming with us to the Mohonk house last year in upstate NY.
68. And on the same trip, her amazement as we took her into New York City for one night. That was her first time staying in the city in her entire life and she loved the lights, energy, and ACTION.
69. She gave the nickname “BUSTER” to my son Brady. And man, that name fits him to a T.
70. She calls blue-jeans, “dungarees.”
71. The trip to Two Bunch Palms in Palm Springs, CA. Mudbaths, massages, pool, sunshine, and family time!
72. Renting the house on the beach in Lavallette in the summer of 2010. While the house was the final-carrot that motivated me to finish writing my book, the real gift was having my MOM there to hold down the fort and keep the place organized for the 10-15 people coming and going throughout the week.
73. She loves to be a “Fire-engine and ambulance chaser.” She wants to be where the action is. And she still likes this!
74. Her home-made, fresh iced “sweet” tea in the Jersey summer times at 13 Edgewood Drive. I think maybe mom invented the “sweet” in “sweet tea.”
75. Her baking cookies (chocolate chip, peanut butter, oatmeal raisin, butter) at Thanksgiving, stowing them in the “Charles Chips” tins in the cold garage and still having them at Christmas time.
76. Watching mom use her computer (painful, really painful). Just to get her to turn it on was an accomplishment. But it really wasn’t a computer like most people are accustomed to. Her computer was hooked up to the TV and you could watch TV and be on the computer at the same time. Talk about archaic. LOL.
77. Experiencing mom moving into the 21st Century…watching her learn to use her cell phone. She’s come a long way but I’m not sure if she’s tried texting yet. We love you, mom, for trying!
78. The sign in our kitchen used to read “A man works from sun to sun… but a woman’s work is never done.” Mom… I still don’t know how the heck you raised 8 kids!
79. She is one-half the source of why I’m here and who I am (along with my five sisters and two brothers), along with my dad, of course.
80. She’s my mom!
On behalf of my brothers Steven and Paul and sisters Patti, Pam, Mary Beth, Judy, and Karen and all the wonderful friends and family that we’ve been blessed with, I want to wish you a very HAPPY 80Th BIRTHDAY MOM. WE LOVE YOU!!!