top of page

Today I came across some videos I had taken of my parents talking about how they fell in love and got married. Hearing their voices was such a gift. The spark was still there after 58 years together.

Mom was only 18 when she fell in love with my dad, 26, an insurance salesman. That 8-year age gap would have been a red flag to most parents, but the Monsons had been dental patients for years of Dr. Norpell, mom's father. The families knew each other well and my grandfather watched as little Nancy Norpell and Craig Monson grew up with each dental visit.

As a teenager, my mother cut out this picture of her "Ideal man."

Do you see the resemblance? Mom thought Dad looked just like him.

The love letters I discovered, while sorting through the house when my mom died, show a sweet glimpse into what "courting" was back then. No cell phones or texts, just the yearning across the miles, followed by pen to paper, licked and sealed with love and dropped in the mail box the very next day. Their emotions popped off the pages as I read. Tender, sweet, longing.

At the young ages of 19 and 27, they married.

65 Years ago today my parents, Nancy and Craig, said their "I Do's" in a small town in Illinois. "Their song" keeps running through my mind this morning... Fascination by John Gary.

On many an Iowa evening, when the corn fields had stilled in the evening air, and moonlight shined in our dining room, Mom would check the pot roast for tenderness with a two-tine silver carving fork, while the five of us kids ran rampant around the house and my dad sipped his martini in the living room, floating away on the soothing music of John Gary. Hawaiian Wedding Song, Softly as I Leave you, and The Nearness of You were only a few of the songs that were the score to my early life as a 9 year old.

Take a moment, and let Fascination take you away...

I was surprised to see what a society wedding it was, complete with spreads in the local papers. The trip to Europe my father had won by being IBM salesman of the year in 1958, even made the headlines. An audience with Pope Pius? A whirl around the worlds fair in Brussels? Wow!

Fun on their honeymoon cruise-1958.

Five kids, 12 grandchildren, 3 dogs and 3 cats later, we gathered in South Carolina to celebrate 50 years of marriage with a renewal of their wedding vows. It was so wonderful to be together.

These are the roses that my father bought, dipped in gold. Each of us 5 kids got up and presented a red rose to my mom with heartfelt tributes to both. Dad's rose was all gold

which he loving gave to his wife that he affectionately called, "Mrs. Moonlight."

It was a very special moment...and mom was very surprised!

The joy on their faces that day are ones I will always hold in my heart. I'd like to think of them just like this today...together in heaven and just as joyful.

How I wish I could call and wish them a happy anniversary and ask were Dad is going to take Mom for dinner tonight. :)

Love you Mom and Dad. Happy 65th. We miss you!

22 views0 comments

Like so many here in New England, and much further I imagine, I was very moved through the years by the remarkable dogs, Spencer and Penny. These beautiful golden retrievers belonged to Rich and Dorrey Powers. Throughout their lives as service dogs, they brought light, happiness and hope to the most vulnerable. Their presence along the marathon route silently let everyone know that anything was possible. Sadly, Spencer and Penny passed away recently, leaving quite a legacy but also a huge hole in Rich and Dorrey's hearts.

When we heard about their passing, my daughter, illustrator Erica Leigh and I were talking, and we knew that there must be some way to support this couple whose dogs have given so much. We discussed having Erica create a portrait of Rich and his beloved Spencer, based on a photo from a precious Christmas together. After a many, many hours of sketching and color, it was done. When I first saw it, I was in tears. There was something so universal in the love Erica captured in this portrait between Rich and Spencer that all pet owners would relate to. It was perfect. I couldn't wait to give it to him.

Spencer and Rich- a forever love- a painting by @ericaleighart

Arriving at Rich's studio, I was surprised and delighted to see Henry the Macaw waiting to greet me. He was striking in deep rich tropical colors swinging on his driftwood scaffolding. I was mesmerized by the palette of jewel colors in his feathers, fascinated to watch as he used both claws and beak to move about his perch. I giggled as he twisted his head upside down to check me out. Inside Rich introduced me to Tawny, his beautiful Tonkinese cat. ("Tonks"are a cross between the Siamese and Burmese breeds.) Tawny purred and rubbed her face on my hand and enjoyed a nice rub down. Memories of my sweet Camille came rushing back to me. I was in heaven and ready to take Tawny home. ;) Hearing Rich speak about his animals, I now understood the breadth of Rich and Dorrey's love for them.

I was happy to be able to offer Rich my condolences in person, and he responded with some lovely stories about Spencer and Penny. I savored every word. Even though the depth of his grief was evident, there was a pure beauty of love that sparkled in his eyes every time he spoke about them.

Photos and paintings of his dogs, Mandy, Misty, Spencer and Penny, hung in places of honor throughout their home. Each one inspiring another story. I was particularly moved when I saw this image as his screen saver on his computer.

Spencer will never be far from Rich's heart.

Rich then offered to show me the iconic painting of Spencer hanging in his living room. I was delighted. I must say... it was breath-taking. I have seen many photos of it in social media, but they do not do it justice. The artist Tom Mosser did an amazing job. There are incredible shades of paint layered at its base, and then black outlines swirl throughout Spencer's fur adding texture and depth. The technique was so fascinating to study, adding movement and emotion. Rich commented that if he and Dorrey ever moved, the first priority would be to find a home with a wall large enough for this painting.

Spencer's portrait by Tom Mosser recently hanging in the Hopkinton Arts Center.

I had a chance to meet Dorrey and watch as they opened up Erica's painting. With each rip of the tissue, my anticipation grew. When the final piece fell to the floor, Rich welled-up seeing the image and clutched it to his heart. Happy memories of their Christmas together came flooding back. It was the perfect thing to express what was so hard for Erica Leigh and I to put into words. Thank you Erica Leigh. Your art is the gift that will keep on giving.

Sometimes in life, really good things happen that just fill your heart. Jimmy is one of those things. This little white puff ball of love, was generously give to the Powers family by Golden Opportunities for Independence, which breeds, raises, and trains service dogs to be given to disabled members of our community. When I heard about this, I was SO happy for Rich and Dorrey. What kindness!

In the kitchen, at Dorrey's feet, I found a very sleepy Jimmy, sprawled out on the floor, legs twitching with little puppy dreams. From the moment I saw Jimmy, I could see that a bit of Rich and Dorrey's grief was slowly being healed.

Sweet, little Jimmy waking form his nap.

I asked if I could pet him, and they kindly obliged. I leaned over and stroked him, surprised at how soft his fur was. " My little polar bear," Dorrey chuckled. He stretched and yawned with my touch, but then satisfied with my belly rub, drifted back off. "If he were mine, I would get absolutely nothing done!" I commented to Dorrey.

If you know me, you know I love cats. But now... I think you wouldn't have to twist my arm too much to welcome a "little Jimmy" into my own home.

I think I'm falling in love...

Yep, definitely in love...

I asked Rich if he was planning on visiting nursing homes etc, with Jimmy like he did with Spencer and Penny. He said he would like to. There is a lot of training to be a service dog, but at Jimmy's young age, unofficial training will begin with lots of love and maybe learning to remain calm when the doorbell rings. I get the sense that Rich is a natural "Dog Whisperer" with an innate sensitivity to animals and an understanding of how to work with them. I gave Jimmy one last rub and told him I could tell he was going to have quite a life of love and adventure ahead of him. What a blessed little dog.

I am so grateful for our visit and for the smiles that Spencer and Penny gave us during some tough days. The world was made a kinder more loving place because of Spencer and Penny. RIP pups. Well done.

P. S. I was excited to pick up my Spencer t-shirt today before I said goodbye to Rich. I will remember Spencers kindness and strength when I wear it this summer. A few are still available and are lovely for this warmer weather. You can get the shirts here. In addition, they are hoping to create a statue of Spencer on the Marathon route and will be raising money for that. Stay tuned for updates by liking the Spencer and Penny FB page here.

1,109 views0 comments

A Life Well-Lived

Snuggled in my robe,

I kick back my glass of water,

and lean toward the window,

wondering what the day will bring.

The sun twinkles on the wet fence posts

and the grackles hastily pick at the seed.

What day is it?

That’s right…. May 3rd

What would have been your 84th birthday.

Happy birthday,

my sweet, sweet Mother.

I open the cabinet,

and see an open box of birthday candles.

Tips charred down a bit,

wax curling over;

evidence of songs sung and happier days.

I begin to think of all the candles you blew out in your lifetime.

and add them up.


Since the day you left,

The time with you has always felt too short.

But as I scroll down

this excel column,

it helps me see in a visual way,

How many years, 82 years really is.

I smile imagining you as

an infant “fresh from God”

as Gram used to say…

with 82 birthdays

and all the candles that lay ahead of you…

As a toddler with frosting smeared

on your smiley cheeks

around a table with your brothers serenading you,

as a freckled-face teenager falling in love

for the first time,

as a twenty-something

just home from modeling school,

as a young mother,

with five under nine-years-old,

The many years of waking up

on your birthday

in a new home,

wondering what the next year would bring,

and for so many adult years

celebrating the best we could,

on the phone from a distance,

as each of your five

gathered our families to sing to you.

How I wish I could pick up the phone this morning,

as I always did

And launch into a hearty “Happy Birthday” song

before you could even

get in another word.

But instead,

I will stop,

Fingers resting on the keys,

By myself in this polka dot robe,

And sing to you.

Happy birthday, Mom.

I will think of you gathered

with your brother and parents,

Padre Pio, Jane Kendall, and God himself,

celebrating a life well-lived.

3403 candles

to be grateful for.

31 views0 comments

A Little Bit of This & That

bottom of page