Life’s Love Stories

 

 

life love stories


Posted on October 24, 2015 on Rosa’s Facebook page:

rosaandmichaelTonight Michael surprised me with a little green ribboned gift bag that had dozens of printed 4×6 photos he’d taken of us these past 12 months, to capture and celebrate our second year together… and there were a bunch that took me by surprise because I’d never, ever seen them… like this one, from his cousin’s wedding we’d gone to over the summer.

I don’t remember posing for this which makes it even more fun, more thoughtful, and my heart more happy, to see this now.

 

Posted on October 4, 2015 on Rosa’s Facebook page:

What a beautiful, wonderful new day today has been!

At St. Patrick’s Cathedral in NYC this morning, we stopped at the gift shop on our way out and Michael bought us these matching cross necklaces (my girly version has a tiny diamond in the center)…

As if that didn’t overflow my heart’s cup enough already, as we made our way around the full length of the church (if you’ve never been here, it’s ENORMOUS, is 135 years old, holds 3,000 people, and is where Pope Francis just visited last week), Michael saw a St. Patrick’s priest leaving and asked him to please bless our crosses.

Without hesitation, the Father stopped walking, turned to face us, bowed his head, touched our crosses still in their boxes, and put his left hand in the middle of Michael’s chest and his right hand on top of my head…and as I held my breath, he said all these glorious things about blessings and God and us and the rest of our lives together.

Then Michael shook his hand and I reached in to hug him and kiss his cheek. “Don’t cry,” the Father told me. “Be happy!” he said.

“But these are happy tears!” I told him as he walked away, all of us smiling.

St Patricks Cathedral

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Posted on October 3, 2015 on Rosa’s Facebook page:

2 yearsToday is the 2-year anniversary of the day we met (at 2:41pm to be exact!) but I also just read it’s #NationalBoyfriendDay so here’s one for my memory books.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Posted on August 25, 2015 on Rosa’s Facebook page:

God plaqueWay long ago, back in the early 90’s, I often admired this wooden decoration on my (ex)mother-in-law’s wall. Whenever I visited, I’d stand in front of it and read the words over and over again to myself, really breathing them in.

One day she took it down and held it out to me. “I know how much you love this,” she said. “You keep it. Take good care of it.”

It’s been 25 years since she bequeathed this to me and she has since passed away, but I still think of her, my Richie’s beautiful grandma, Violet Parrella Conti, when I see this in my home. I’m still taking good care of it. I’m still loving it, only more.

“I asked God for all things that I might enjoy Life. He gave me Life that I might enjoy all things.” Words to live by.

 

Posted on August 19, 2015 on Rosa’s Facebook page:

closet writingHaving a happy mommy moment here. I just saw this love note in the back of my closet that my son wrote over eight years ago when he was a little boy. I don’t remember ever seeing this. What a gift! 

 

 

 

 

Posted on July 21, 2015 on Rosa’s Facebook page:

Michael surprised my son tonight with the latest Batman video game – (who as a Video Game Design college major and superhero lover, this is a really awesome gift!) – and is now hanging with Richie as he plays it, all the while hooting and hollering and cheering him on. And my heart is just swelling all over the place. 

 

Posted on June 27, 2015 on Rosa’s Facebook page:

you are awesomeMy son is home from college for the summer and I get to sneak love notes in his work lunch every day just like grade school … and this makes me HAPPY.

#rituals
#memories
#lifelovestories
#littlethingscount
#thoughtsthatstaywithyou

 

 

 

 

Posted on June 27, 2015 on Rosa’s Facebook page:

michael and rosa napkinCafe doodles on a rainy day…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Posted on June 16, 2015 on Rosa’s Facebook page:

photo and locketThis is the view from my pillow right now, what I see before turning off the light at night and when I open my eyes each new morning … a photo of me and my beautiful Grandparents and a locket of my Grandma’s hair.

And each time, morning and night, I gently pick them up and kiss first the photo and then the locket. And I close my eyes and tell them I love them over and over. And miss them. So, so much. And then I thank God for having had them in my life. Amen.

My nightly ritual. My morning gratitude.

 

Posted on June 12, 2015 on Rosa’s Facebook page:

karen and meToday is my best friend Karen Faller Capone’s birthday!

This girl has been by my side and has had my back for 19 YEARS. She’s who told me I was in labor before I knew myself. She’s who taught me it’s nice and helpful to bring food when a crisis happens. She’s who stayed calm and got butter when my young Richie got his finger stuck in a decorative milk jug on her front porch (and I was ready to dial 911). She’s who followed me home in snowstorms – even though I lived only 10 houses away.

We raised our boys together, were Cub Scout leaders together, and took vacations, painted walls, moved furniture, attended weddings and birthday parties and funerals together.

We celebrated, planned, and shared our same life values together and always, ALWAYS compared notes and helped each other to readjust our sails along the way.

We’re not afraid to call each other out when we play small, and we challenge each other, hold each other to our highest, and remind each other of who we are when we need reminding.

Kar, I love you more than you can ever imagine. I’m still so excited 19 years later that you’re mine.

 

Posted on June 2, 2015 on Rosa’s Facebook page:

richie kayak birthdayHappy 19 “Life Anniversary Years” to my most awesome son Richie! Everything in my life fell together when you arrived.

#housebirthdaysigns
#familytraditions
#mamalove

 

 

 

 

 

Posted on May 30, 2015 on Rosa’s Facebook page:

richie home for summerI love having my son home for the summer!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Posted on May 24, 2015 on Rosa’s Facebook page:

Yesterday when babysitting my friend’s 4-year old son, we snuggled on the bed for nap time. He was curled up under my arm and we’d just closed our eyes when my belly made a loud sound.

Nico (jumping up on his elbow): “Was that your belly or mine?”

Me: “It was mine.”

Nico: “Maybe your belly is hungry.”

Me: “No honey, we just ate, remember?”

Nico: (thinking…) “Then maybe it was saying thank you.”

Me: “Yes, I’m SURE that’s what it said.”

Nico: “But my belly didn’t say thank you to me.”

Me: “Oh, it feels thankful. I know it does.”

Nico: (snuggling back down) “Oh, good.”

 

Posted on April 30, 2015 on Rosa’s Facebook page:

on way to collegeThis photo was taken 9 months ago, on that beautiful August morning I drove my beloved Richie to college for the first time. As a single mother, I know for sure it was an unwavering faith in God and love and LIFE that had gotten us to that point, and there’s just no alphabet to describe how proud and grateful and even relieved I felt during our 5-hour drive that morning.

Tomorrow morning I’ll drive again to Vermont, this time to bring my baby home for the summer … and my happy-grateful-thankful heart is so wide-awake and feeling all over again the full magic and PRIVILEGE of these life love story moments.

#takenothingforgranted

 

Posted on April 16, 2015 on Rosa’s Facebook page:

I love perfect heart-beating silence, most especially with my son Richie.

We’re such great companions.

Like when he’s on his end of the couch immersed in his laptop and video games and I’m lost in a daydream and a book on the other and we silently stretch out one blanket to share. Or when we ride for an hour in silence listening to a new band he just discovered and is excited to share with me and the music fills the car and we both know it’s an awesome moment. Or when a week goes by without talking while he’s away at college and in the silent moments in between the “I Love You” texts we know we really do.

There’s something so special about all that.

 

Posted on April 1, 2015 on Rosa’s Facebook page:

mommys noteSince forever, my mom hangs or posts a gazillion notes around the house for my birthday every year. On the pickles in the fridge, under the toilet seat cover, in my coat pocket, in drawers, on windows, in my purse, etc. I do it for my Richie and I’m sure he’ll do it for his kids someday too.

As I’m getting ready to head out to meet Michael for dinner just now, I open my makeup bag and smile. Another one!

 

 

Posted on March 29, 2015 on Rosa’s Facebook page:

pauliI always marvel at the interconnectedness we humans have and often wonder; did I pass this person at the market somewhere else in the outside world before today? Is the stranger on the other end of the phone somehow related to me or someone I know? Does the driver alongside me have a child who will someday grow up to become a doctor who will save my or a loved one’s life? What becomes of another’s life when you part ways and are busy tending to your own? There’s magic in this stuff, you know.

When I was 4 years old, whenever my mom’s friend Ann came to visit, she’d bring along her adorable blonde mop-topped 2-year old son and we’d play together. Here, in this top photo, we were at my birthday party and it’s clear we were buddies! This is the only photo I have of us, and while I don’t have memories from this young age, and our moms lost touch soon after, I never forgot this photo or my mom’s stories about me and Paulie, even though we never saw each other again.

Flash life forward 43 years, to last Friday night.

I was on Facebook and saw that my pal Mike Lockwood had just recently friended someone with the same name. Knowing we’re all from Stamford (so the likelihood that THEY knew each other was high), I ran to my mom, “Mom! Mommy! Wasn’t Paulie’s last name Frank?!” She said yes, and off I sent a private email to this person, sharing the top photo, asking might he possibly be my long-lost buddy? He was!

Hours of texting and a phone call later, this afternoon our little child selves “reunited” for lunch, FOUR decades later! Turns out we lived only blocks away from each other in Springdale, know tons of the same people, and he even somehow remembered exactly where my Grandma’s house was. We were in different grades, so our paths never crossed (or did they?!) and we now each live about 60 miles north from where we grew up, only 35 minutes away from each other.

Paul Frank is now officially my oldest friend ever, and after meeting and seeing what an amazing human being he became, and what a GOOD heart and soul he grew, my heart is swelling like I discovered a long-lost family member. But it doesn’t end there.

There was a couple sitting at the table next to us who had overheard me talking about magic and human connection and God, and when the check arrived, this kind fellow INSISTED on paying our bill. We thanked him kindly but resisted of course, until he said he was an associate minister, fed homeless people three times a month, and asked us to please not “take away his blessing” of celebrating our reunion story he’d just overheard. So we hugged and kissed and became Facebook friends with his darling wife Thomea Oliver-Pervis and even took a picture together!

I promised them I’d pay it forward, and did. At Whole Foods an hour later, I paid the $37.21 bill of the elderly man behind me at the other register, who shared that just last week HE paid for someone’s Dunkin Donuts breakfast. It’s all a circle, you see.

This love story called LIFE? I’m convinced more than ever that the magic only shows up when you believe in it.

 

Posted on March 13, 2015 on Rosa’s Facebook page:

michael birthdayHAPPY Birthday to my very own Peter Pan, may you always stay as young as you feel! Thank you for your confidence and courage in wearing your big open heart on your sleeve ALL of the time … how “on purpose” you show up to your one beautiful and precious LIFE … and for the amazing and caring and curious and fun-loving and old-fashioned stand-up man you allow yourself to be. You make the world and everyone and everything around you so much better because you’re in it.

Posted on March 7, 2015 on Rosa’s Facebook page:

michael cookiesFor Michael’s 50th Birthday Party tonight I custom ordered these awesome cookies of Michael’s head, complete with his NY Yankee hat and #2 Jeter shirt!

I sent ‪#‎crazycookies‬ this photo and they made this cartoon, and then 150 of these cookies.

He loved them!

Posted on February 27, 2015 on Rosa’s Facebook page:

birthday heartsI woke up this morning to a drawing taped to my bedroom mirror. My mother, who is staying with me, sneaked into my room in the middle of the night to “surprise” me with this message:

“I cover my Ro-Ro with my hearts of love. Love you, Mom”

Proof that no matter how old your child is, a mommy’s love will always see you as their little girl or boy … hear that, Richie Conti?

 

 

Posted on February 10, 2015 on Rosa’s Facebook page:

huffpost articleA few days ago Michael and I took turns asking each other deep life questions, and one of them was: “Who do you most regret not having told something to, and who and what was it?” My answer was, “I most regret not knowing to appreciate my ex-mother-in-law when I was younger, and all she did for us, and how much she showed up for us, and how good she was to me and my Richie, even after the divorce. And now she’s gone, and I never got to tell her that.”

This is one of the most beautiful and honest personal essays I’ve ever found written by another. Even if you don’t have (or never had) a mother-in-law, this is sure to touch your life somehow. Just read and see.

 

Posted on January 23, 2015 on Rosa’s Facebook page:

snowblowerThis makes me feel so happygood, enough to take a photo and share. I stood at the window moments ago, watching Michael (on the right) snow blowing the driveway when his neighbor walked his own snowblower down the road and started helping him.

Just this morning I jokingly said to Michael, “You’re a good man, Charlie Brown,” but I whole-fully meant it. This neighborly love shows so beautifully to me that what you put out to the world will always finds its way back to you.

 

 

 

Posted on January 21, 2015 on Rosa’s Facebook page:

richie mommyI have this single photo on my home desk and it reminds me each day of my precious motherhood and this amazing boy I get to call mine. This was taken about 9 years ago when I chaperoned a 4th grade field trip to Connecticut’s state capitol. I was newly divorced and happy to be creating a new, healthy journey for us, figuring things out as I went along, trusting each new day as it arrived.

This photo reminds me of those days when I was just learning to give myself permission to be free and creative and brave and self-forgiving … and I love realizing now that these feelings never went away.

 

 

Posted on January 2, 2015 on Rosa’s Facebook page:

kindness bookMichael just got the mail and handed me an Amazon box with this “gift” he ordered me last week. Apparently he’d seen an interview of this guy who traveled the world with no money in pocket but instead lived off the kindness of others and then wrote about it. How to explain my tears are for the gesture itself?

#bestguyever
#luckiestgirlever

 

Posted on December 27, 2014 on Rosa’s Facebook page:

TFI certificateI’m smiling at the full circle this piece of paper represents, and my heart is full. I never imagined 13 years ago when I walked into Barnes & Nobles in Waterbury, Connecticut and bought my first Debbie Ford book that my life would transform over the next decade because of those 224 pages – or that I’d someday be a guide to transforming the life of others.

This isn’t just any certification that arrived in the mail today. It’s not just another workshop I took, another passion I took on, another shiny light I followed. I didn’t give away $10,000 and 13 months of my life just so I could call myself a life coach. (In fact, I used to think it was too easy for someone to call themselves a “life coach” and hang a shingle and start up a practice, and trust me, I surely didn’t have readily available the time or money for this.)

Instead, this single piece of paper represents the last 13 YEARS of my hero’s journey, because it was Debbie Ford’s books that unequivocally turned my life around. It was her body of work on the human shadow that taught me to rediscover my long-ago buried light. It was her “Spiritual Divorce” book that gave me the courage to become a single mom 10 years ago and find the qualities in myself to create the world I envisioned for myself and my son. It was her teachings on forgiveness and acceptance and projections and Faith vs. Fear that made me keep looking forward instead of behind me. Debbie’s world taught me that “every choice matters” and most powerfully of all, how to “create new meanings” and shift the perceptions of my life stories.

Mary Oliver once wrote, “Someone I loved once gave me a box full of darkness. It took me years to understand that this too was a gift.” Because of Debbie Ford, I now know how beautiful our darkness is … because it’s a guided path to discover our light.

 

Posted on November 21, 2014 on Rosa’s Facebook page:

textI love this text I got from my college son Richie today.

Oh, and imagine if we could!

Posted on November 6, 2014 on Rosa’s Facebook page:

Richie computerLittle did I know back in 1996 when I began teaching my son the computer at 5 months old, and then got him his own when he was 3, that he would work his way through “the changing times” … from Reader Rabbitt to Roller Coaster Tycoon to Game Boy to mastering all the Playstation versions.

He’d cruise through a mob of different operating systems, wind up at a magnet HS and create his own games, and finally drop land into a coveted spot at Champlain College majoring in Video Game Design & Production.

My kid is rocking the digital age. And I’m looking back now, amazed.

 

 

Posted on October 29, 2014 on Rosa’s Facebook page:

michaelOnce upon a time there was a boy named Michael Russo who grew into a man with the very kindest heart in the land. For half a lifetime, he lived over the hills and 40 miles away … until the day our fairy tale was done brewing, and then there he was, this shiny knight who so beautifully wore no armor … arriving to my life, right on time.

Posted on October 20, 2014 on Rosa’s Facebook page:

This morning, two seconds after the traffic light turned green, a car behind me honked impatiently. My hasty reaction was to throw my hand up in the air and glare at the young man through my rear-view mirror, as if to ask, “What? Really?”

A half-mile later, still feeling some snarl left in me, he pulled up behind my car at the Dunkin Donuts drive-through. What are the chances that he was headed for coffee too? I mused excitedly. Quickly, quickly I wondered, am I supposed to turn this around and create something pretty instead? I LOVE making life’s moments “mean” something, so I told the girl at the cashier window that I was going to pay for his $4.31 order.

“Do you know what a Random Act of Kindness is?” I asked. She did. So I asked her to please explain to HIM what it means, and then tell him to go out today and pay it forward. And I drove away feeling happier than before I connected “journeys” with this anxious driver, reaffirming to myself that the only moments that are random are the ones we don’t take the time to “see.”

What if each time someone triggered us we showered them with love, exampled kindness … and then just drove away, expecting nothing in return?

 

Posted on October 8, 2014 on Rosa’s Facebook page:

My mom, who is living with me for a while, said to me today, “Today is a good day!”

“Why?” I asked.

“Because we talked a little bit today and we joked around and you seem in a good mood.”

And in a flying instant, with great sadness I saw all of the projections I unknowingly cast on to my beautiful mother every day. Anything I don’t like about myself, I’ve shadowed onto her. Any area I say, “That’s not me!” so easily I see in her. All the things I conceive as negative and reject in myself, I’ve subconsciously rejected in her.

She talks too much – so do I.
She’s constantly going with crazy energy – so am I.
Her stories give too much detail – so do mine.
She speaks thoughts out loud without thinking them through – so do I.
She wants to get it all done, right now, right away – so do I.
Her thoughts can be random and without point – so can mine.
She’s too needy – I can be too.

Yet because on this day I woke up lacking any of these subconscious expectations or judgments or prejudices, these usual projections fell away and it amazes me that she actually FELT this. Surprisingly, I felt pulled twice to find her whereabouts in the house and just HUG her. I assured her I’m glad she’s staying with me for a while. I even joked around during work hours when I usually fancy a cave with solitude and silence and crickets.

Her heart felt happy and she felt seen, so much so that it actually defined “a good day” to her. Today I’ve been reminded again that change ALWAYS begins with me.

 

Posted on September 17, 2014 on Rosa’s Facebook page:

Richie mojoI realized tonight I’ve grown my own hippie child. In high school I discovered my dad’s old Doors album and became completely obsessed with their lead singer, Jim Morrison.
Twelve years later arrived my son Richie, whose hair I never cut (one of the reasons I pulled him from Catholic school: they bothered me too much about the length of his hair). So I grew him up with a record player of old rock classics (he got a quarter for every song and artist he could name), take him to the world’s greatest hairdresser ever (who has long hair himself and dons a ponytail), gifted him with a sweet pair of aviator glasses for his 18th birthday … and lo and behold, my beloved child has now morphed into Jim Morrison.
Posted on August 6, 2014 on Rosa’s Facebook page:

One year ago this morning my beautiful Grandma Rose left our human world. Today I’m choosing to find joy, instead of sadness. Celebration over tears. Rosa Fiorelli Rabbitt was a most remarkable woman; strong, old-fashioned, and of faith. She looked for, believed in, and found the good in everyone everywhere.

One month before she left us, I asked her, “Grandma, if you could be any animal, which one would you want to be?”

“A lamb,” came her answer. “Because Jesus had a lamb.”

 

Posted on June 18, 2014 on Rosa’s Facebook page:

Mcouragey beautiful son Richie,

Today marks a new era for you. In seven hours you will be a high school graduate and the world will expect different things from you, and others will try to tell you who you are or who to be. Instead, create your own love stories and scatter your own stars … and remember that you arrived to this lifetime by design, on time, and with great purpose.

“And above all, watch with glittering eyes the whole world around you because the greatest secrets are always hidden in the most unlikely places. Those who don’t believe in magic will never find it.” (Roald Dahl)

I love you everywhere, all around, endlessly.

 

Posted on June 2, 2014 on Rosa’s Facebook page:

baby to 18Once upon a pretty time 18 years ago today, my beautiful son Richie was born into this lifetime. Happy Anniversary of YOU, my child. Get ready to fly baby. You got this.

Posted on April 13, 2014 on Rosa’s Facebook page:

Often people comment on the “sacrifices” I’ve made as a single mother, but what people don’t see is how unapologetically and proudly SELFISH I’ve been too. For every choice I’ve made to benefit my son, there were others that needed to serve ME first.

If years ago I had waited until Richie was off to college or until my bills were paid or until the proverbial “perfect time” arrived for me to earn my right or time or wings … I’d not have evolved into the person I am today. Nor would he be the same young man.

By taking turns and allowing myself to sometimes be first, he grew up with the important lesson that others matter too. Seeing me take workshops while he spent time with family showed him by example that learning is cool and fun and doesn’t stop after college and it’s okay and even GOOD to follow your passions.

I will say. Many nights I had my nose in a book instead of suggesting a board game to play. Or shh’d him because I was on a group class call. Or dragged him to my meetup groups to help out with the camera and projector when he’d begged to stay home instead. Or ran out of time for a home-cooked meal and ordered take-out yet again because of a homework deadline. But through my “selfish” soul-searching, he benefited exponentially too.

We saved conversations for outside of meal times and instead both grabbed a book and a couch when eating … and he grew by daily habit a wildly creative imagination and an appreciation for story. Many nights while I studied or read or wrote, he played video games by my side … and was just last month accepted into Champlain College’s competitive Game Design program. He knows to use elderberry when sick, how to read a Nutrition Facts label, and to stay the hell away from GMO food … but I needed to know these things myself before I could offer any of it to him.

By creating my own healthy world first, I was able to venture out and find and introduce him to new friends – who are of the most amazing human beings on our planet. By insisting he accompany me everywhere … he’s met waves of interesting people who are healers and teachers and givers and creatives and problem-solvers who look you in the eyes and who believe in a higher power and operate from a place of collective oneness. Whether he’s yet been able to connect the dots of all of this happening around him, his being witness to this high-quality kind of humanness can only lead to good things for him later on.

So I vote be selfish with your time. Dedicate your money or find more to be able to keep learning about what interests you. Find reasons why you should NOT wait to feed your soul. And if you have children, teach them all you learn about BEING HUMAN – during morning rides to school, in birthday letters, via affirmation post-it notes around the house, by letting them overhear inspiring phone conversations, by the friends you bring home, and by example. Write a book about it all if you can.

One of the greatest gifts we can share with our children is the wisdom from our own journey.

 

Posted on March 23, 2014 on Rosa’s Facebook page:

Rosa Conti-beautiful GrandmaIt’s been over 7 months since my beautiful Grandmother died and I’m laying in bed now unable to sleep, remembering her comforting smell, her voice so young, her laugh so fun, how soft her hair and skin was, the almond shape of her nails … and how all she ever wanted, all that made her REALLY happy, was to know our family was safe, and to have our PRESENCE – on the phone, eating at the table, lounging all over the living room after dinner.

And if we were there for 10 hours on a Sunday, she’d want to know why we were leaving so soon and did we have to work the next day and why weren’t we wearing a jacket when it’s so cold outside and did we have enough to eat and when are we coming back and will we call when we get home to let her know we’re safe?

Grandma was 45 years old when I was born and I was 45 when she left this lifetime. So fortunate I was to know and have and live near her all that time. So fast time goes. Often I thought of video-taping “interviews” with her but sadly never did. I viewed each day as ordinary and let myself “be busy” and thought I’d have more time.

No matter how old you are, if you are reading this – if your Grandparents are still in your life, please call or visit them often. Ask them questions about their life (and your parent’s and yours) and VIDEO tape it. Really. Have no regrets.

 

Posted on February 27, 2014 on Rosa’s Facebook page:

Kindergarten to 12th grade. Oh my beating heart. Oh my Richie.

K to 12

Posted on February 27, 2014 on Rosa’s Facebook page:

Rosa Conti-wakeup alarmThis is my wake-up alarm.

Feeling in awe that my spirit and body stayed connected throughout the night.

Posted on February 4, 2014 on Rosa’s Facebook page:

Rosa Conti-BFF Karen CaponeMy BFF Karen Faller Capone inspires me, empowers me, dreams with me, believes in me, and loves me to just BE ME. She lets me call her on the phone in the middle of the night and laugh for three straight minutes unable to catch my breath, gasping for air … and laughs along with me before she even knows why I called or what I’m laughing about.

Good gosh I love this girl.

 

 

 

 

Posted on January 30, 2014 on Rosa’s Facebook page:

regret bottle capThirty-five years ago when I was a little over 10 years old, 1/30/2014 was a far off, fairy-tale number on the calendar. Yet here we are, right now, in this moment.

Feeling GRATEFUL for having come this far.

 

 

 

 

Posted on January 24, 2014 on Rosa’s Facebook page:

In just over four months from now, my only child will officially end his childhood and graduate from high school. Having raised him as a single mother for most of his years; how to express these final moments?

This is the half-page ad I created for his senior yearbook: Rosa Conti-Richie's yearbook ad.

Posted on January 24, 2014 on Rosa’s Facebook page:

Rosa Conti-text with RichieAfter driving my 17-year-son son to school this morning (13 miles away, an hour round-trip), he discovers he actually has no mid-terms today AND he forgot his mighty headphones at home, so he texts me, asking if I can pick him up. 

My reply: (click on photo to enlarge)

Posted on January 5, 2014 on Rosa’s Facebook page:

ornamentsIt used to be that the only material possessions I’d ‘grab’ from the house were photos, writings, and the yearly scrapbooks I’ve made of my 16yo son growing up – until I packed away the Christmas tree this year and realized just HOW MUCH of our hearts and memories live inside this one box of his childhood homemade ornaments.

 

 

 

Posted on November 28, 2103 on Rosa’s Facebook page:

Never fully have I allowed myself to steel in to my soul; instead, choosing to spend most of my grown-up years surrounded by courses or books or people who might validate me. Declare me Enlightened. Announce my Arrival. Offer my Initiation. You know, hand to me my long-overdue Directions For Being Human.

OH. How I wanted to “get” where I thought I was supposed to be – and right away. It wasn’t a physical place, but a feeling; an elusive sense of Belonging and Knowing. Endlessly I’ve combed my outer world for something to fill up the “Enough” and “Purpose” parts of my inner world.

Until the recent passing of my beloved 90 year-old Grandma Rose, I didn’t know that TIME is something we shouldn’t reckon with … or how mighty and perfect and precious and GENUINE each moment is … or that chasing carrots on sticks is a time-sucking, vicious form of self-sabotage.

And in the quiet moments of slowing down this month of “NO-vember” … with great awareness and self-love I’m recognizing the emotional, spiritual, and moral substance I’ve given to my human form … that my younger self could never have recognized to aspire to become, yet would be quite proud of.

I choose slowing down … and this shiny, brilliant moment of NOW.

 

Posted on October, 2014 on Rosa’s Facebook page:

Rosa Conti-Grandma and me little and bigMy beautiful Grandma,

It’s been exactly two months since you left this lifetime. You were my first best friend, and forever I will love you beyond measure. You are who I most admire and because of you, I had the rare gift of knowing what unconditional love really means. You gave to me my innocence and gratitude … and lived your life simply, so that when I over-busied and over-complicated my own, I always knew I had a heart-center to come home to.

You held me to my highest and believed in me before I knew how to. You honored my heart and introduced me to God and told strangers everywhere that I was yours. “My Granddaughter is a good girl,” you’d boast to dinner guests and salesclerks.

“In God’s willing may we all live to be over 100 years old,” you’d say.

But God took you back at 90. Today we’ll crowd around your dining room table as we always do on your birthday and we’ll celebrate the greatness and glitter and gold you gave to our lives. There won’t be sweaters to unwrap or twenty-minute goodbyes at the end of the night or anyone waving by the light of the door as I drive away from your house.

But there will be stories and tears and laughter and hugs and memories shared and a family brought and held together by your invaluable essence … and a silent, connecting awareness that this will be the last October 6th we’ll spend together in our Grandma and Grandpa’s house.

For keeps, I love you my Grandmama.

 

Posted on September 3, 2013 on Rosa’s Facebook page:

journal entry 101012Each night I write “3 Things I’m Grateful For” in a Gratitude Journal that sits by my bed. Since my beautiful Grandmother passed away four weeks ago, I’ve not opened this book until this morning – because revisiting the moments when I “had her” I’ve not been ready to do.

I’m reminded of a love note my friend Kim wrote to me this summer. She shared of a loved one long ago lost and how she’d always thought there would have been “more time.” Another day to make plans. A second chance to spend time together. More moments to claim. And she wrote something so powerful that I will never forget.

“I lived each day as if it was ordinary,” she said. “But it wasn’t.”

Endlessly I have marveled my whole life that my Grandma had always been but a phone call or a car trip within reach. And while so many times I’d make those Just Because I Love You calls, or spend the night talking and sleeping alongside her, equally there were times that I thought to and could have and wanted to … but didn’t. And now, I work on mourning not our moments spent together, but of those precious moments that we missed.

Today is September 3, 2013.

There are many moments waiting for us to “have” on this not-so-ordinary day.

 

Posted on August 8, 2013 on Rosa’s Facebook page:

Rosa Conti-Grandma and me hugging littleTonight I will see my beautiful Grandma’s body once last time.

Only days ago I leaned over her bedside at home and gently laid my left hand onto her flowered nightgown over her rapidly beating heart … and gave great thanks to this elegant organ of science and spirit and miracle for pumping 90 years of LIFE into her grateful body. For remarkably never missing a beat or a day.

Before the funeral parlor arrived on Tuesday morning, with burning tears and tumbling emotions I caressed her face and baby-soft hair and kissed five times her cheek and forehead as I’ve done my whole life. Softly I ran my hands up and down her spirit-less body and closed my eyes and out loud gave immense GRATITUDE to her extraordinary human vehicle … for having given her a healthy and physically-abled human container for her visit this time around.

I gave REVERENCE to all her human parts and thanked them for knowing their jobs so well and working in concert so peacefully for so many years. I gave AWE and WONDER over the harmony of her body, soul, and mind that less than an hour before had existed inside this human vessel I was now gazing down at. And biggest of all, I gave renewed ACCEPTANCE that the bodies we leave behind are not us … that these life vehicles so magnificently and miraculously created are gifted to us on loan and are separate from who we REALLY are and what remains once our physical parts are gone.

In my every moment of sorrow and pain tonight and forever more, I will remind myself that my precious Grandma’s spirit is no longer contained.

Now she’s everywhere and all around.

Posted on August 6, 2013 on Rosa’s Facebook page:

Rosa Conti-Grandma and me little

Today God called Home my beautiful 90 year old Grandma Rose.

Over the past four days, my family of 10 surrounded her Hospice bedside here at home with song, prayers, music, and stories. We cried, we laughed, we held hands, and we slept. We took turns watching her breath rise and fall in the night hours. We mourned, we rejoiced, and biggest of all, we HONORED this most WONDERFUL woman who conceived the legacy of our beloved family.

Thank you dear Rosa Fiorino Rabbitt, for agreeing to meet me here in this lifetime and for creating my world so pretty … one of LOVE and gratitude and forgiveness and GOD and the value of FAMILY.

Thank you for the precious love story of my LIFE.

 

Posted on August 2, 2013 on Rosa’s Facebook page:

Rosa Conti-Grandma and AbbyMy five-year-old niece Abby arrived 85 years and a country apart from my Italian-born Grandma Rose.

And while she’ll not likely remember the details of their short time shared together in this Lifetime … forever she’ll keep this cherished photo of her little-girl self embracing her Great-Grandmama during their last moment together.

Grandma is halfway to Heaven right now. God bless her.

 

 

 

Posted on July 22, 2013 on Rosa’s Facebook page:

Rosa Conti-Grandma and me in bed one last timeOh, how LIFE as we know it can change in an instant. Exactly two months ago today (May 31), my once vibrant, happy, and healthy 90 year old Grandma slipped while reaching to turn off a lamp in her living room … and now, 61 days later, my family is huddling together preparing for her end of Life, which can arrive at any moment, any hour, or any day now, Hospice tells us.

So we packed our bags, left our homes and towns, set up camp at Grandma’s house … and are working together through the long days and nights to caress her body, sing her favorite songs, and make her as comfortable as possible as we ignore all clocks and calendars and hold on tight to every moment of NOW.

Under one roof we sleep on couches and beds, overnight bags and laptops piled in every room, as we argue from fatigue and cry from sadness and learn what patience and gratitude and unconditional love and being part of a family REALLY means.

Gently I slid into bed alongside Grandma this morning, carefully spooning her fragile form. I felt her borrowed heartbeats pulsing against my face and made sure she felt the warmth of my breath on her neck … and it reminded me of a gorgeous childhood so long ago when little-girl-scared, I’d dive under her bed covers and into her arms each night when Alfred Hitchcock’s “Good eveeeening” came on our old television set.

And it didn’t escape me this morning that forty years later, full circle, we had resumed this same position … this time though, it was me cradling her. One last time.

Me and my Grandmama.

 

Posted on July 22, 2013 on Rosa’s Facebook page:

Rosa Conti-Grandma journalToday my sister and I gave to our 90-year-old Grandma pile after pile of old family photos to reminiscence through. We propped her up in her favorite red reading chair, perched her reading glasses into place, and watched her tenderly fumble with each snapshot, her raging dementia urging her to stare longer than usual at each one.

Down deeper in the photo box I found a “Grandparent” legacy journal that my sister had given to her six years ago – a blessed book of her captured memories, dreams, and personal values – that we’d never known she’d actually written in.

Page after page I read out loud stories about fig trees in Italy, arriving to America in 1934 at the age of 12, her three week courtship that led to a 56-year love story with our wonderful Grandpa, and her life-long, unwavering DEVOTION to FAMILY – beginning with her parents, and ending with her youngest great-grandchild.

One memorable page asked of her: “What do you think is the soundest investment one can make?” My eyes broke open with tears as I read her answer:

“When a man makes a good life for his family and takes good care of them, and when a mother is a good wife and takes good care of her children. That’s the best investment in life, to see that you take good care of the ones you love with all your heart. My family is my life,” authored my beautiful Grandma.

I know now where my fairy tale heart comes from.

 

Posted on July 15, 2013 on Rosa’s Facebook page:

Rosa Conti-Grandma home nowMore than one month ago on May 31, my beautiful 90-year-old Grandma fell in her living room and hasn’t been the same since.

After three hospital stays and two weeks at a convalescent home, we brought our beloved matriarch home where my family now takes care of her “around the clock” with the help of Hospice aide visits.

While she recovered from a brain hemorrhage, a stroke, and episodes of stopped breathing, her dementia has grown stronger and her body so weak … that no longer can she turn over in bed, adjust herself in a chair, or walk on her own anymore.

“How long will I be like this?,” her frightened child self asks me over and again. My heart breaks to witness her fear, her confusion, her helplessness, her still-longing spirit … locked inside a now old yet familiar physical human body that she can’t use on her own anymore. Praise GOD though, she is pain free.

And so, each day she is lovingly fed, dressed, washed, hugged, kissed, made comfortable and safe, and brought to bed, the toilet, the family dinner table, and her favorite reading chair … cared for by the very same family members who she once did the same for so many years and decades ago when we were children. So much beauty there is in these “Circle of Life” moments.

 

Posted on July 1, 2013 on Rosa’s Facebook page:

Rosa Conti-Grandma and nurse Annie“Annie,” my Grandma said to her beloved nurse this morning. “I love you so much.”

“Oh Miss Rose. I love you too.”

Pretty Monday morning moments.

 

 

 

 

 

Posted on June 30, 2013 on Rosa’s Facebook page:

Rosa Conti-with Grandma and sister TaraStill at the hospital.

With Grandma and my sister Tara.

Posted on June 29, 2013 on Rosa’s Facebook page:

Rosa Conti-Grandma going home

What a difference four weeks can make. On May 31, my beautiful 90 year old Grandma fell at home and suffered a brain hemorrhage. One stroke, two weeks at a rehab center, a couple of week-long hospital stays (because her breathing stopped), and many low blood pressure and high heart rate scares later … our family is now honoring her wishes to RETURN HOME.

We’ve tried to stay mindful by asking ourselves the question that always matters most: “What’s best for Grandma’s HIGHEST GOOD?” … to keep her on daily physical therapy while living temporarily at the rehab center, or let her enjoy the remainder of her Life at her beloved family home?

So it is a rare and cherished moment for our VERY vocal, opinionated, and passionate Italian family to have joined together in loving unanimous decision … and acknowledge with GRATITUDE the gorgeous human Lifetime that Grandma’s borrowed physical body has served her. What a graceful PRIVILEGE it’s been for her to have lived nine decades pain-free. Her precious body is now tired.

 

Posted on June 26, 2013 on Rosa’s Facebook page:

Rosa Conti-Grandma walking againThank you for your collective prayers!

Dear Lord, Grandma’s learning to walk again.

Posted on June 25, 2013 on Rosa’s Facebook page:

Rosa Conti-Grandma's heartbeatSince my 90-year-old Grandma fell four weeks ago, helping her to heal has been one of my greatest gifts ever received. Fully, for the first time in my Life, I feel aware of the beauty of BEING PRESENT – versus “knowing” it, preaching it, but never quite achieving the act of actively LIVING it.

Lately I’ve been reminded that our every moment is a pulsating heartbeat of a greater sum – an era of our blessed Life, of almighty Time, that will someday pass and be gone. And I’ve realized with gratitude (because it’s never too late to begin again) that I’ve spent far too many years chasing tails and carrots on sticks and worrying about Tomorrows.

So I’ve spent this past month focused on the curl of Grandma’s lips when she smiles. The way she raises her eyebrows in play. How she holds her tea, laughs with one eye half closed, and hugs in her sleep the little stuffed rabbit that I gave her. I’ve caressed over and again her face, her hands, her hair.

I’ve laid alongside her in the hospital bed with my ear on her heart and my hand cupping her face … listening, memorizing, and willing her every heartbeat.

On so many levels, I feel so HONORED.

 

Posted on April 22, 2013 on Rosa’s Facebook page:

Rosa Conti-Daddy and meI was four years old in 1972 when my mother introduced me to the man who would later become my Daddy this Lifetime around.

A man of HONOR – who returned from the Navy at age 22, courted my mom and me … and by his tender age of 25, proudly called me his daughter and willingly took on the responsible role of being my father.

A man of INTEGRITY – who immediately swept me into his arms and heart and Life, and hasn’t let go … and taught my young impressionable spirit, through his shining example, that being related by earth blood has nothing at all to do with holding a sacred traveling family together.

A man of COMMITMENT- who walked into Town Hall with me when I was 40yo to legally adopt me … because years ago my mom wanted it to be ‘my’ decision and well, Life went by pretty fast. (Divine timing it was that my son, about 12 at the time, got to witness this incredible act of love between his grandfather and mother.)

Happy 65th Birthday Daddy!

I’m SO proud of the young man you once were, the man I’ve watched you’ve become … and of our time together in this Life.

I love you so much.

 

Posted on December 5, 2012 on Rosa’s Facebook page:

Rosa Conti-mommy me then and nowI believe that the circumstances of our birth are not random. Who we incarnate through, who we are raised by, and at what time in history we enter … all are flawless details beauty-fully arranged by a higher cosmic power.

The Universe this time around delivered me in perfect harmony to an unwed, scared, financially broke, 20yo girl in 1968. She had no worldly materials to offer to me. Instead, she gave to me her heart and with it, grew my spirit so pretty.

By example her presence has gifted to me the knowing of our miraculous human connection, the acceptance of being perfectly imperfect, and the blessings of family, forgiveness, and the stars in the sky. I learned to love with open-hearted vulnerability, to find gratitude in the darkness, and to see the world though a lens of child wonder.

She gave to me a permission for faith, a compassion for others, and the value for equality with her gospel that we share the same color blood no matter our skin or sexuality. She fed to me books and art supplies and imaginary stories. She helped to color the fairy tales that I still believe in today, and early on taught me to feel fascination and respect and beauty over how differently our journeys are meant to unfold.

Always our lives are divinely orchestrated. Her presence in this Life I needed to help grow my passion for our Universe, fellow mankind, and for myself. Our physical and spiritual lineage had been marinating and in the makings for many Lifetimes.

Today is her human BIRTH day. Happy Anniversary of You, Mommy.

Thank you for agreeing to meet me here. So dearly I love you.

 

Posted on December 4, 2012 on Rosa’s Facebook page:

with GandG December 1968Eight months after I was born, I sat with my grandparents for this December 1968 photo. Many beauty-full years I got to spend with my Grandpa until he left this Lifetime 36 years later, in 2003, on this day.

Growing up living with them, Grandpa taught me to ride a bike, to tell time on my Mickey Mouse watch, and to plant a garden. He ran me around the yard in the wheelbarrow long after it wasn’t easy for him anymore, and let me help in his basement tool shop. He bought me a 35-cent Archie comic book and a 5-cent bazooka gum every time we walked to the store for his Camel cigarettes.

He let me hold his cards while he played poker with his railroad buddies & made up singing jingles as he drank his morning tea. He ate ketchup on bread and ‘found’ the Fenwick album that Santa left me on the back porch.

My crossed journeys with this magnificent loving man who I had the blessing of calling GRANDPA has filled my heart and soul for many Lifetimes to come.

So much I miss you Papa Bobby.

Posted on June 14, 2012 on Rosa’s Facebook page:

Rosa Conti- penny jarMY PENNY JAR. A few months ago I began saving random pennies I found on the ground for two reasons. It serves as humility to remind me to never feel ‘above’ a penny, that at one time in history, a starving someone, somewhere, had 25 of these and bought a piece of bread … and it also makes me muse over the people who dropped these pennies, and their collective energies I’m now collecting in my little gratitude jar.

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