Necklace of Treasures

Saturday brought me a whole bunch of treasures—special moments with people I love. It felt like a necklace made up of precious time instead of precious gems. Those moments in time now hang over and around my heart, bringing smiles and warmth and renewed pleasure.

In the morning, my eldest son, Jack, wanted to take me out for breakfast. I had a trip to and from Auburn planned so didn’t want to hit the road any sooner than necessary, so we had breakfast together right here at my home. Just quiet, conversation time; time for him to tell me about his grandchildren and what’s behind and ahead of them, both good and bad. Time for us to just share little things going on in our lives.

Then I drove to Auburn to join the Nolan family reunion. I was invited because I’m an honorary member of their family—honorary definitely because I’m honored to be included. Their matriarch, Mary, has been my best friend since Confirmation, when we were ten. We’ve had quite a ride together, with husbands and children and grandchildren and all that Life entails. It was good to be with her, especially as she was surrounded by her extended family.

I chatted with just about all the “kids” there—the people who now are parents themselves of toddlers all the way up to college and married kids.

Julie and I talked of splintered marriages and how they shatter lives. Brad spoke to me of how prayer and/or spiritual energy really work. He should know; they brought him back from near death. John, whom I just met Saturday, is twice as tall as I am (which would make him eight feet and twenty-two inches). We had a fun and lengthy conversation, even though I got dizzy looking up at him.

Suzie is a truly special person, a sort-of quadriplegic for many years who has worked and fought through the wars of physical therapy and recovery. She told me that she was content with her life now. “I’m really lucky,” she said.

How’s that for putting your own woes into perspective?

Scott, Suzie’s devoted long-distance caregiver, was truly pleased to see me after several years of no contact. He drives from the East coast to visit Suz once a month, and they talk by phone every night. He and I caught up on his work and how he’s doing.

Kate was just so happy for me, for the fact that Paul and I found each other, that I have a meaningful relationship in my life. “You deserve it, Joan,” she said, making me feel blessed to have her care for me like that.

Another of Mary’s daughters, Debbie, has reversed the mother-daughter role for both Mary and me. She gets together with Mary often and communicates with me via the internet. And sometimes she comes to visit me, with or without Mary. Debbie is one of those dear people who can philosophize with you one minute and laugh hysterically with you the next.

And then the little kids. Little Owen, who started the day in his mother’s arms and ended out playing kickball with the older kids. He’d just run from base to base and once in a while one of the older kids would toss him the ball so he really felt part of the team.

Mary, who climbed a tree so her Mom could take a picture of her. I climbed up the adjoining nook in the same tree and Kate got us both in a picture. And Fiona and Sean and Molly and Ally and Pete.

Oh the beautiful jewels in my necklace!



Sometimes we can’t see the forest for the trees and sometimes we can’t see beauty when it’s all around us.

Last weekend, I had the distinct joy and pleasure of seeing and listening to our Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra, led by the incomparable Jeff Tyzik, not once, but twice. The first time, Saturday evening in Kodak Hall, was Broadway night. They played music from several Broadway productions—Wicked, Chicago, Follies, Anything Goes and so on. The second half of the show gave tribute to Andrew Lloyd Webber and his fantastic music, plus music from Les Miserables and Mamma Mia.

Accompanied by these superb musicians were the vocalists, Broadway veterans themselves—Gary Mauer, Tamra Hayden and Craig Schulman. It was a night of excellence. It was a night that made you feel as if you were at Broadway.

Sunday night, the same group of musicians (RPO and Jeff Tyzik) played at Perinton’s Center Stage to help celebrate Perinton’s bicentennial. It was an outdoor concert attended by people who brought their own chairs and spread out far and wide to enjoy this exceptional music. Everywhere you looked, there were people sitting in rows, clusters, on blankets.

The weather was perfect, as it has been for a couple weeks now. Quite warm at times, yes, but sunshine, gentle breezes, wispy clouds, and blue skies prevail.

Put all this together and you have a soul-searing sense of beauty, and of the joy and love and peace that accompany that beauty. It is the sense that only special events can bring, fine art being one of those events.

It is the sense that is brought to your soul not only by excellent music, but also by seeing exquisite art and by reading a well-written piece of literature. It is inspirational to everyone, but especially to fellow artists, whether they are musicians, sculptors or painters, or writers.

And we are surrounded by this beauty in Rochester. Simply surrounded. Writers, take note. Bring this beauty to the written page for others to share.

Don’t miss a beat!