The Depths of Love (Almost submitted to Real Simple Magazine)

REAL SIMPLE (almost entry….)

When did you first understand the meaning of love?

I was 41 years old, beginning peri-menopause and the mother of three sons ages 4, 8, and 11. Because I was concerned that I might be ill, I secretly took a pregnancy test and when that pink plus sign popped up I was shocked. We lived in the exclusive community of Southampton, Long Island, and though we were far from exclusive ourselves, we built the first “non-toxic” home in the area and were featured in several newspapers. When at long last it was built, it was a thrill to move into our beautiful, healthy, fragrant home that smelled like freshly squeezed lemons. At the time, my husband, Shep was a successful realtor, earning enough income to allow me to be a happy stay at home mom.
That was of course, until the bottom fell out of the real estate market on Black Monday, 1987. The first thing to sink was real estate, particularly the second home market in a resort area. We were essentially without an income overnight. We argued, we cried, we scrambled and we became very creative. Shep took a job as a school bus driver and in doing so, earned a bit of money but most importantly received the same healthcare coverage as the teachers did. By night he waited tables for the rich and famous at the Hampton’s hottest restaurant at the time, Sapore di Mare. There, he learned culinary skills that remain with him today and a great appreciation for well-prepared, quality food. On Wednesdays we distributed organic fruits and vegetables to our affluent customers, which we purchased in bulk and resold at a profit. Carefully wrapping the heads of butter lettuce and rinsing each tart cherry we placed the orders in the refrigerators of our celebrity customers. A benefit was that our family got to eat well for little investment. On Friday afternoons we would pack clothes for the weekend and move in with our kids. We shared their beds so that we could rent out two bedrooms as a Bed and Breakfast. Often, we netted about $500 minus the cost of scones and jam. On many Friday nights, I helped cater some of the Hamptons coolest parties. This is how we survived from week to week.
Although I really was happy being home, I was also glad to see the light at the end of the tunnel of babyhood and the possibility of getting involved in things other than La Leche League and playgroups. So, finding myself pregnant by surprise was not only an obstacle but also a deep disappointment. I phoned my long time friend, Joan, sobbing on the phone and asked her to meet me for lunch at The Driver’s Seat. She met me with much trepidation, fearing that I was about to tell her that either I was in the midst of a torrid affair, or had a life threatening illness. When I told her why I was crying, she stared at me in disbelief as if she wanted to break into song “Is That All There Is?” I lamented how broke we were, that I already had enough kids, that I needed to work now ad nauseum. I also had this shameful feeling that I was too old and now too poor to have another child, anticipating the disapproval of others.
Because I have always been in awe of childbearing and because I am a huge breastfeeding advocate, the actual pregnancy was comfortably woven into my life. However, I did ruminate over sending bad vibes to this baby with thoughts of being unwanted throughout the nine months. On an icy evening on January 17, 1993, some 42 weeks pregnant, I began laboring at home with two kind midwives. It was my most difficult birth and labor never seemed to end. I struggled, finally actually screaming that baby out into my soft bedroom chair at 1 am. Once he was born, we all understood the struggle as he weighed in at 10 ½ pounds! Sweetly, in my arms, we melted into bed together. He tenderly came to my breast and I began to cry from sheer, unbridled joy, exhilaration and the sight of my now four sons surrounding me, along with the loving eyes of Shep. We named our newest bald, little son, Gregory, after a dear friend. Now my stand up and shout song needed to be, “I am Woman, Hear me Roar.”
During the next few months, we put our cherished, green home on the market and made plans to move to a more affordable home in North Carolina. I spent many hours in my lovely, peach bedroom, nursing my precious, squishy baby always whispering into his head, “I am so glad you are here. I love you. I am so blessed that you are mine.” We sang “Blue Eyes” along with Elton John to him since he was our only non-brown eyed child and I danced with him to Louis Armstrong’s “It’s a Wonderful World.” Once settled in North Carolina, Gregory and I went to Whole Foods every Tuesday while we took one of my sons to a homeschool group and we strolled in the afternoons to pick the younger boys up from their new school. We rocked in Shep’s grandmothers old rocker at naptime, watching the latest developments on the OJ Simpson case. I felt grateful for the joyful life I had with the hopes for more of the same, when I would lie in bed nursing Gregory to sleep staring out at the North Carolina pine trees
In May of 1995, we decided to take a trip to visit our old Hamptons friends. Gregory was two years old and always unhappy in his car seat so he and I flew to New York while Shep drove the minivan with the other three boys. Once in the Hamptons, we listed all the friends to visit but made one stop first. This was just an “acquaintance” as one says when one is classifying levels of friendship, but a La Leche League mom who had just given birth to a new baby she wanted me to meet. Shep and I disliked her husband, intensely for his infidelities, false bravado, and reputation for being an extremely dishonest politician, so we went when he was not home. However, he did come home while we were still there and monopolized the conversation. We were attempting to leave but, the rest as they say, is indeed, “history” and for us, life-changing history at that.
Two of my boys were playing outside, while Gregory followed them around. He tended to “shoot baskets” by throwing the oversized basketball down to the ground and then looking up at the hoop to see if it had miraculously gone in! Early May in New York is not yet time for swimming but, Gregory found his way into the still cold swimming pool. The shocking sight of him floating in his yellow sweat suit remains engraved in my mind forever. An ambulance rushed him to a local hospital, followed by airlifting him to a huge medical center. Bathed in complete and utter terror, I sat next to his soft, naked body as the doctors administered bolus after bolus of Lasix, breathed for him, and tried all things humanly and medically possible to keep his heart beating. We prayed and begged incessantly. We watched the lines on the monitor. We listened to the beeps. Never in my life, did I realize the depths of desperate, yearning love that one could feel for another. I wanted my beloved son in any form, in any condition, but I wanted him alive and present and at my breast so that I could nourish him back to health. My heart pounded with continuously outpouring, searing love. My begging tears fell onto his small chest. Occasionally, I would look up into my frantic husband’s eyes and say, “What should we do?” My 11 year old son wandered in the hospital hallways, imploring, “Mommy, do something.” Despite all the love in the world, Gregory drew his last supported breath at 6 am the next morning.
Suffice to say, as a family we spent the next several years in deep grief, continuous counseling and the vital support of church, family and Compassionate Friends. We were and remain today, five humans, changed forever. For me, navigating my way through deep connections of an unexpected love followed by a violent, tragic loss, taught me a previously unknown meaning of real love. We each carry with us that love, manifesting itself in different ways, some productive, some not so helpful but real and honest, nonetheless. We learned that no matter how much we love and how much we want to hold onto the one who we love, sometimes, we are left with only the understanding.

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Debbie’s Jack Rogers Sandals

On my feet are new sandals that I have lusted after for 38 years. I finally have them! They are not unusual in that you probably see them everywhere and have become a new yuppie/preppie standard of sorts. They are now called Jack Rogers, though when I first saw them in Southampton, they were called Jackie Rogers. Even then, they came in a few different colors, but now they come in dozens of cool color combos. I am not sure which color combo Jackie Kennedy chose, but she was indeed the one, who made these a fashion item.

In 1973, I sublet my apartment in Richmond Hill, Queens. It is hard to imagine now, who would have wanted to live there. It was in a two family home with an Irish immigrant family who owned it, living on the first floor. There was little or no privacy. I lived upstairs in a converted “illegal” one bedroom apartment with a kitchen that had been a bedroom. I shared a hallway bathroom with Alice Eggerton who was in her late 80’s and chain-smoked Virginia Slims when she wasn’t choking from coughing. Considering the fact that I was only 16 years old when I first left home, I suppose this was all that I needed. I was safe, peaceful and away from my Borderline personality mother. So, in the summer of 1973, I sublet this place to a friend I had worked with. I packed my bags and moved out to a one-room rental in Southampton, Long Island, overlooking Shinnecock Bay with Black eyed Susans in the driveway.

As soon as I got out to the Hamptons, I hit Jobs (pronounced with long “o” like in the bible!) Lane and Main Street checking each boutique for employment. When I got to the Tapemeasure Boutique at the end of Jobs Lane, I was hired by a vivacious blonde, named, Debbie Owen. I had a merchandising degree from The Fashion Institute of Technology and had worked as a designer, buyer, manager in various fashion industry positions so I was quite qualified for this position. But, I wanted to live in the Hamptons and was convinced I could live there year round, so this is where I would start.

Meeting Debbie Owen was life changing. She became a key figure and influence on my life with more largesse then I could ever have imagined. I was 23 years old and though I had lived a fuller life than most women that age, I was still a virgin and had not been in a steady relationship yet. Debbie became my role model in every way. She was married to Billy who was this adorable guy and she had a baby named Kyle. Her baby was also cute, but had a large hemangioma on his head, which caught one’s eye while cooing to him in his seat. I learned about hemangiomas that summer as well.

Without realizing it, I began emulating just about everything there was about Debbie. She was a cute blonde, with a laugh that not only made you laugh along, but made you stop what you were doing to watch her laugh! Debbie was always tan and wore a gold rope chain around her neck that she said Billy gave her when she had her baby. The story was, that although naked while delivering her baby, she did not remove her rope chain. And then, the giggles would come as she shared that story repeatedly. I was one of three salesgirls (what we were called then!) and the other two were Susie Hoercher, a student at Southampton College and Samantha Munn of Carrie Munn society fame. Sam Munn was also dating Ivan Obolensky, an actual prince! Her family’s mansion was on Gin Lane directly on the ocean. The one time I went there to pick up Sam, I was completely dumbfounded by the magnificence of it all. Mrs. Woolworth would drive up to Tapemeasure, in in her chauffer driven white Rolls Royce to shop and Dina Merrill would come in whenever new clothing arrived to try them all on. I was beyond star struck and when I would drop these names to my crazy mother, she would ooh and aah, always with envy.

Debbie would take her lunch break on a Kurtz cot in the back of the store in a tiny courtyard that lay in the blazing sun. She would apply Marcella Borghese sun gelee onto her arms, legs and face and sunbathe for an hour. I can remember that sweet yet exotic, almost musky scent. I marched myself over to Saks Fifth Avenue on Main Street and also bought Borghese to follow suit. I basked in that sun with my freckled-Irish-not-to-be-in-sun skin day after day, and am convinced that my current skin cancers, began then!

Lothars were the big fashion item that summer. They were thin cotton safari type shirts with matching bell bottom pants. Lothars were tie dyed but with only one pastel color and white. The most popular were the original Lothars which were light blue and white. Then, other colors were added including pink, yellow, green, and black. Debbie wore a different one each day and we sold a ton of those very chic outfits. They were definitely the hot fashion of the season.

To go with Lothars and mostly anything else Debbie wore, she donned these cute sandals that were Navaho looking to me with lacing around their leather edges. They were flat and the ones she wore were white though they did come in colors. Debbie bought these at the fancy Southampton shoe shop, called Boot Tree. The sandals were called Jackie Rogers, not Jack Rogers as they are now. These sandals stayed with me for all these years and as I saw women wearing them summer after summer, I wondered why I never got them myself. In the last few years, they have become even more popular and I became more fixated on them. Last week, I caved and found a pair on Ebay. They are ridiculously overpriced now and still were, even on Ebay despite being used, but nonetheless, I own them now and feel quite pleased.

Over the years I became somewhat obsessed over emulating Debbie. I worked for her all that summer, but when fall came, there just was not enough business. The Hamptons were still primarily summer resorts and so Michael Dayan’s Tapemeasure closed for the season. I was now unemployed and only able to stay in Hampton Bays for a few more months, which became lonely and cold. Debbie had a fall party that year called “Come as you were in the 50’s.” I wore Dr. Denton pjs and came with a date who was an attorney and drove a red Corvette (that is all I remember about him!). She served MacDonald’s style shoe string fries and burgers and we were all duly impressed. All Debbie’s parties were fabulous and creative. I continued to visit Debbie regularly until I returned to Richmond Hill and moved back into my odd apartment.

I remained a friend and a devoted fan of Debbie’s for the next 20 or so years. When Debbie opened her first shop on Jobs Lane called Phase Nine, I was green with envy. It was a maternity shop and she had a fun partner. It seemed like the right place at the right time and I was dying to open a similar type shop for years. I believe it only stayed open for a couple seasons, focused on a small niche market, but Debbie always acted as if it was a huge success.

After Phase Nine folded, a couple years later, she bought an existing children’s wear boutique called, Robin Christopher. I remember attending the champagne gala opening feeling like I would just spend the rest of my life trying to be Debbie. I shared that thought with my fiancee that night. This shop was even bigger and in a better location and I was twice as envious. I now drank Gin and Tonics with lime albeit only once in awhile, as opposed to Debbie’s nightly ritual. I went on a high protein diet a la Dr. Atkins, because Debbie did. She taught me to eat the bread and skip the butter, but in retrospect, I think that is the opposite of how that diet works! I chose yellow and green as my favorite color combination, as Debbie did. And, although I hated fudge and still do, I purchased it occasionally from Ye Olde Fudge Shoppe on Main Street, acting as if it were a huge treat, as Debbie did. I even sprung for the purchase of Dom Perignon champagne for special events, as Debbie did. I collected Bilston and Battersea enameled Halcyon boxes from Caldwell Alexander, as Debbie did, though never acquiring nearly the collection she had. I copied her laugh. I threw my head back when I laughed and tossed my hair even though it wasn’t blond. And most importantly, I got a gold rope necklace that I wore around my neck every single day.

When I married Shep (in the Hamptons of course) in 1978, Debbie and Billy came to our reception, donned completely in pink and green. You just couldn’t get more Hamptons than that. After Shep and I were married, we received regular invitations to Debbie and Billy’s for dinners and parties. Mostly, they served lobster, always champagne and always gin and tonics with lime. Dessert was dense and delicious chocolate cake that Debbie had whipped up and in many ways, she rivaled Martha Stewart. Her parties were always fabulous and her kitchen was always very, very white so needless to say, I have lusted after a white kitchen for many years. When I had babies or young children in later years, and towed them along, I always felt awkward and inappropriate.

Shep and I had Debbie and Billy over to our Hampton Bays house for dinner one night with our friends, Mickey and Buck from Sutton Place in Manhattan. We too, lived in Manhattan but we had purchased this Hampton Bays weekend house one rainy Mother’s Day weekend while visiting Debbie and Billy. It was an odd and impulsive purchase in looking back. The ranch house had a Corning cook top which was a new concept at the time and we did not realize that only Corning cookware would make contact with it to get hot enough to cook!. Of course, our menu was lobster and baked potatoes and of course, the cocktail of the evening was gin and tonic. All six of us were completely blitzed by dinner because the water NEVER boiled and we waited and waited and waited to eat while drinking to kill the time. Disaster dinner! I have a photo of the six of us, still. We also spent a couple of New Year’s Eves with The Owens at parties. Debbie always looked completely fabulous. I always felt ultra frumpy and dark around her.

To elaborate, I really never felt good around Debbie. Even the day she met me in New York City and took me to the Waldorf for lunch, which I loved. I was young, working in New York and very hip yet, I still felt dumpy! Over that lunch, Debbie mentioned that she had been on “the pill” for years and years and though she had frequent migraines, she didn’t care. I was concerned, but she was too happy and glib to care. I remember how I adored the fancy Waldorf bathroom and loved having this lunch, yet still felt lesser than, when with Debbie.

In later years, we moved into the Hampton Bays house year round. On the rare days when I ran out without any makeup on, I could be sure to run into Debbie, smiling, beaming, and beautiful. She played tennis regularly and wore her cute whites everywhere. The worst encounter was when I went to her beach club invited by a friend of mine. I had so many kids and this time, I was hauling around baby number three or four on a blustery day at this bay beach. I was overweight, post baby and more bedraggled than ever. While carrying the baby and trying to rescue my flying beach umbrella, I tripped and fell into the sand, baby in arms, umbrella flailing, my hair like a mad woman’s and my post pregnancy swimsuit, ungainly and unflattering. I looked up and there she was—glowingly tan, thin, sleek, blond hair pulled into a tight knot, and that gorgeous white smile she always wore. “Oh, how are you?” she squealed. “I am okay, this is MY third baby boy here.” “This is MY new tennis bracelet” she said as she flashed this dazzling cluster of diamonds all around her tan wrist. All of her jewelry always came from Rose Jewelers on Main Street and once, when Shep decided to buy me a diamond anniversary band he went there to purchase it. I was thrilled and wear it still. But, somehow, my jewels never came close to the sparkle and spectacular quality of Debbie’s. I remember feeling crushed that day, wondering why I was me and Debbie was Debbie.

Once, when Debbie gave me her copy of Tracy Kidder’s “Old Friends” to read, she wrote inside of it, “We have more in common than you will ever know.” I never could figure out just what she meant. But, to this day, I am flattered.

This story does not end well. Around 1992, Debbie was diagnosed with ovarian cancer. In 1993, I had yet another son, Gregory. I called Debbie to invite her to a christening party and she told me of her diagnosis and chemotherapy. Ever positive I remember her saying, “This is the worst thing that’s ever happened to me, but it isn’t that bad.” I suppose many Adult Children of Alcoholics might feel that way, and Debbie was indeed an offspring of an alcoholic household. “Are you calling me because I have ‘cahn-cer?” she queried. “No, I said, I did not know that. “I’m just calling you because…”

We moved to North Carolina in the summer of 1993 with our four sons and in 1995, we returned to the Hamptons for a visit. My 27 month old baby, Gregory drowned during that trip and devastation set and took permanent residence in our family. A few months later when I called Debbie, she said that she wasn’t doing that well and I responded in the oddest way, “If you die, will you please take care of Gregory”, I sobbed. She did not answer. I continued to call Debbie from time to time as she continued treatment. Always an atheist, she seemed to have found God and was visited by a local fundamentalist minister regularly. She also was thrilled by the sighting of the pope once when she came out of Sloan Kettering hospital and felt that he had looked “directly at her” Once when I called, she described this “ gorgeous golden amber liquid pouring into my arm” which I assumed were platelets. I ended our conversation with, “I love you Debbie.” “I love you too, she said, “very, very much.” And another time, I said, “Debbie, I want to have another child, but I think I am too old to get pregnant.” “That wouldn’t stop me, she said, “Go for it.” And so I did. The rest is history also known as my 12 year old twins.

I don’t know when Debbie died and that bothers me terribly. I have never been able to find out the details and was so deeply involved in rebuilding my own life at the time, that I missed it and no one ever let me know. I have contacted her husband, her sons, and her sister and shared how much she meant to me, and yet, I have never heard back from any of them. I requested this paperweight I painted for her once in my early twenties, that was of course, yellow and green with the words, “Great daughter, wife, and mother.” I wanted it as a memento, but again, no response. So, I have a photo of Debbie lying down under a Christmas tree, looking frail, but of course smiling and blond. She has her arms around her niece and I suspect it was not long before she died. The photo is on the desk in my bedroom and I see it every morning. Debbie always seems to come to me when I am in yoga class and she chatters in my ear. When I am trying to concentrate and relax, I politely ask her to stop. She still chatters and giggles on.

But now, finally, after all these years, I have the sandals, the coveted Jackie/Jack Rogers sandals. Mine are caramel color and white and I think Debbie would have heartily approved.

WHOLE FOODS OPENS IN NORTH RALEIGH

I am probably the only one who was crying at the grand and gala opening of the new mega- Whole Foods in Raleigh this morning. I attended the behind the scenes tour a few days ago and was in awe of all the things I did not know about LEED approved building, non-toxic materials, organics, ANDI food categories, which fish are okay to eat and buy and which are not, same for meats, that a healthy dinner for four can be purchased for $14.99 and more. The minute the sign went up a year ago, announcing the coming building and new store I felt a certain sense of victory and ownership of my favorite store. I remember driving by last February and shrieking, “YES!”

I moved to Raleigh, North Carolina from Southampton, New York in 1993 with four young sons including a six month old. We moved into an apartment, not being sure just what part of town we would really want to own a house in. That was probably a good idea, because in fact the area we lived in, turned out to not be best. My oldest son was a sixth grader at the time so he began attending a popular middle school in August (this in itself was an adjustment – what no waiting till after Labor Day?). School was a total disaster for my son, Nicholas in that he hated this school, was terrified of everything, had a shop teacher who referred to his wood project as “a piece of crap,” and spent each morning crying his heart out begging me not to send him to school. I literally had no idea of what to do. Coming from New York, home schooling was literally unheard of. It just wasn’t something regularly done in “The Hamptons.”

At a tennis lesson one day, I overheard a group of women discussing their home schooling curriculums which revolved around a Christian theme. Of course, I had soon found out that the meaning of “being a Christian” in the north had a whole different meaning here in the South. In the north, simply not being Jewish, pretty much meant you were Christian. In the south it meant a whole way of living, a philosophy and in many ways what sounded to me as a pretty exclusive way of perceiving God. We were liberal Episcopalians and that is about as far as I went in my version of being Christian. Anyway, soon enough, Nicholas got wind of this idea and begged me to home school him. I cannot explain how foreign this concept was, but I soon found myself attending information and support groups to figure this out and found a secular-hippie-renegade group to join as well. We met weekly at the YWCA downtown and Nicholas made some friends while I socialized with smart and funny other women who I grew very attached to. My kindergartner and fourth grader were happy at their school and so, every single Tuesday, Nicholas and Gregory and I would go to the Y group downtown.

Near the “Y” was a huge natural foods store called, “Wellspring.” I loved it! I had never really seen anything like it since in Long Island I would procure my natural foods mostly from a teeny, high priced local store in Sag Harbor, called Provisions. I never felt like part of the community in Provisions since it seemed a sort of cult group hung out there. We also belonged to a food co-op where monthly we would dip our arms into vats of barley malt and cut up 50 pound blocks of cheese to divide amongst the members. The co-op did provide me with an education and it was truly where I learned about tofu and tempeh, seitan and soy milk, organic and almost organic. In financially desperate times, my husband and I even began selling organic produce out of our Southampton garage weekly which we bought from a local distributor. We would deliver to the rich and famous and stock their refrigerators with organic cherries, wrap their organic Romaine, etc. So, natural foods had worked their way into our lives in a big way and seeing a mass marketer of the stuff in Wellspring, here in North Carolina warmed my heart.

Gregory loved Tuesdays! He and I would leave Nicholas with the group and do our weekly shopping at Wellspring. He cherished climbing out of the cart and illegally imbibing in the bulk bins for a taste of pecans and granola. He snatched a few organic strawberries in season and there was the tell tale red mess all over his face and shirt incriminating him as we checked out. Gregory was the biggest, giggling, fattest baby most folks had ever seen, so the staff at Wellspring all looked forward to our visits and grew to love this squishy guy of mine. One day, a staff member named Mike, named Gregory –“The Wellspring Baby” and posted his photo in their office with that title.

For the next two glorious years of adjusting to life in North Carolina we continued shopping at Wellspring even when they changed their name to “Whole Foods” (having been bought by a bigger company based in Texas.) In 1995, the most horrific tragedy fell upon our family, when dear, sweet Gregory drowned in a pool on vacation in Long Island. Most of the staff of Wellspring/Whole Foods attended the funeral held here in North Carolina and I still remember their young, weeping faces. They had become a part of our community and held us in their hearts.

So, for 18 years since we have lived in North Raleigh, I have been begging Whole Foods to open a store closer to our area. The downtown one takes me over 30 minutes each way and in North Carolina, as opposed to Long Island, no one drives that far to do anything! I have written letters, put suggestions in their suggestion boxes and more. Today, was the grand opening of that store and I was there for the delicious free breakfast and I pulled a piece of the monster bread that they cut open for good luck as they opened the doors and ate it with a smile.

The store was more gorgeous than I could imagine with a plethora of colors of live and healthful local produce and every natural item you could dream of. What a long, long way we have come from the “Alar pesticide” scares of sprayed apples that triggered a desire for organics in the early 80’s. Look how many sellers are in this business now! There was a pulse and energy in the store as if we were all involved in something for the greater good, whether or not this is true, because alas, this is still big business, it felt that way nevertheless.

So, here are the three times I cried and the loud, cool music in the background only helped to trigger my tears. When I saw the perfect, jam packed produce section I cried in memory of my brother in law, Roman. He and I had a difficult, mostly poor relationship, but there were things I respected and admired about him and his food sense was one of them. He worked in produce in both a wholesale and retail capacity, and even when he was completely short of breath and ill, he still managed to stack those carrots in an artful and appealing way. However, he loved food so much that it lead to his death. Addicted to food from an early age, he ate his way to weighing around 300 pounds and of course his heart, new vessels and all gave out two years ago. He left my sister and their two daughters behind which was heartbreaking. So, today, looking at the beautifully done displays of produce, brought tears to my eyes thinking of how much Roman would have loved this.

Next, 16 years later, I suddenly had this flashback of pushing the shopping cart with Gregory smiling in it and me kissing the top of his bald head as we shopped. I kissed that smooth head over and over while I said, “I am so glad you are mine.” I remembered him being the Wellspring baby and began to cry. I looked at the red, ripe strawberries and cried some more and then the bulk bins and then the Earth’s Best baby foods and when I thought it was all too much, “It’s a Wonderful World” starting playing. I sang that to him all the time, so this nearly had me laying on the floor sobbing.

Finally, when I realized it was high time to check out before being carted away for public hysteria, I remembered to buy some Irish beer because tomorrow is St. Patrick’s Day. This is the day my quintessential Irish father took his last breath in a local nursing facility and died. His last meal was ground up corned beef and cabbage and perhaps his last words had he been able to speak, would have been Erin Go Bragh. It has been 16 years but I still find complete irony in him dying on March 17th, so this too kept my tears rolling.

So, now we have our own mega Whole Foods. I am so glad and though yes, many things are costly there, I think there is a way to shop that makes it feasible. You buy what is on sale, you buy what you can afford, you buy less than you would of an inferior product that has lost its nutrients weeks ago. Adjust your menu, adjust your quantity but know that you are doing your body good, you are helping to keep the environment less toxic, you are supporting a local grower or farmer. And yes, you are supporting a large business but hey, at least they have a bit of heart and they did bring genuine tears to my eyes and my soul.