There's my mom who has unwaveringly supported me, my entire life, and will drop anything at a moment's notice to fly out and be by my side if I need her. There are my in-laws who have made numerous trips to San Diego to visit with us. There are the random packages that we will receive from Amazon from Aunt Sue, filled with the most awesome children's books you could imagine. There are the packages filled with home baked goods and hand crafted toys made by Aunt Kathy. There are the boxes of dress up clothes that Kathleen is notorious for sending out.
There are my sisters Eileen and Janet who never forget our children's birthdays and send them the most adorable presents. There is my sister, Beth, who has provided approximately 95% of the toys that we have in this house. At least once every two months, we will receive a box packed to the TOP with trains, puzzles, books, Legos, and you name it. Beth once packaged up and shipped out to California - from Massachusetts - a Little Tikes kitchen because she thought our children would love it. Which they did.
But the amount of money that Beth has spent on shipping costs over the past five years, would probably cover the purchase price of a new Smart Car. My freshman year, she signed me up for the Pepperidge Farm dessert of the month club. In doing so, she became largely responsible for at least 12 of the 15 pounds I put on my first year in college.
Just yesterday, I received a year supply worth of pharmaceuticals from Beth. The pharmacy where Beth works (as a pharmacist) was clearing out inventory and had a huge sale on various over-the-counter medications. My sister picked up a wide assortment of things that she thought we could use, and shipped them out.
Her timing, as always, was impeccable since I had just completed a check of our First Aid cabinet and noticed that almost all of our medications had expired in July of 2009. What are the odds of that?
an entire night with me at the emergency room with three vomiting toddlers.
There are my neighbors Jenny and Cindy who will invite me to their homes once a month to knit. There's Dawn who motivates me to grow stronger both physically and spiritually. There's my friend Lorie who got me kicked out of a Calculus class in college, but is and undoubtedly always will be, one of my closest allies. (We never did receive Shayna's birthday invitation. But I still don't think we can make it.)
There are my coworkers. There's Felicia who has one of the biggest hearts of anyone I've ever met. There's my boss, Dave. There's Lee and Nick and Marla and Jennifer and Emily and Roxanna and Denise and Maureen - many of whom live on the opposite side of the country, but all of whom were so generous in supporting my walk (and marathon).
There's our lab coordinator, Bob, who carved time out of his busy schedule last week to participate at our meeting in Santa Barbara. Not just because he wanted to come out from Texas and spend some time in California with our team, but because he obviously knew that Charlie and I would need him to help peddle our six seater Surrey up and down the boardwalk.
And Bob, who was sitting in the back talking on his cell phone to his broker, didn't even get the slightest bit irate when Charlie and I both jumped out of the driver seats to grab a bottle of water the children dropped - and in doing so - caused the surrey to veer down a slight embankment and in to a cactus. In reality, that small scale crash was probably less painful than the year Bob came to visit and we took him on the first camping trip he'd been on in over 30 years and had him sleeping in our itty bitty backpacking tent. He's a trooper.
There are my hilariously funny first cousins. Candy and Lisa and Regina and insert the names of at least 50 others, here. There is my cousin, Margaret, who I consider to be my fifth sister and one of my dearest friends. She is capable of putting me in a fit of hysterical laughter like very few people and is one of the only people I've stayed up all night, talking with. Did I ever share the memory of Margaret jumping off a ski lift, while wearing skis, when it was 15 feet in the air? She landed face first in a snow bank and created a two-foot-deep snow angel. (True story.)
She stood up, unscathed, laughing so hard she could hardly breathe. At the time, she was a beginner and she was supposed to get off the chairlift at the intermediate run, but she didn't know how. So, she opted instead to JUMP off the chairlift before it got to the advanced run at the top. Because surely that's a safer bet than ... you know ... asking to ride the chairlift back to the bottom?
Yesterday, I received a package from Margaret. In addition to an extremely generous donation for the Breast Cancer walk, she mailed out several books for our kids. And a whole lot of hugs and kisses for me. She's a keeper.
There's my cousin Anne Marie.
Not only is she the daughter of my beautiful Godmother, Aunt Carolyn - she is a professional hair stylist. And she is a professional baker. An unbelievably gifted baker. As you take a look at her blog, just know that I lack those talent genes, completely. (Although I did recently cut the children's hair again and if I don't say so myself, I think I'm IMPROVING.)
Three weeks ago, I saw Anne Marie for the first time in years, while I was in South Carolina. Since I had really come unglued at Uncle Bill's wake on Friday night, I wasn't feeling very optimistic that I'd be able to hold it all together during his funeral mass. Anne Marie sat next to me in the church and while I was preparing myself, emotionally, to get up and read my eulogy in front of Aunt Grace and the congregation, she leaned over and kindly asked if I was alright. When it took me a moment to answer, she whispered that if I could make it through my reading, she would make me a BIG box of chocolate fudge.
"Really?" I asked. "You'll make me chocolate fudge?"
Suddenly, my mind was distracted and I didn't feel the overwhelming urge to sob.
"You bet. I'll make you anything you want if you can get through the eulogy."
So I did. And she did.
The BIG box of chocolate fudge arrived yesterday.
And this is all that remains today.
Between Anne Marie and Margaret, I think they are largely responsible for 8 of the 10 pounds I've put on this week. Thankfully, both of them have committed to doing the 3-Day Breast Cancer Walk with me, next year in Washington, DC.
OK. So only Margaret has committed.
But I'm working on Anne.