So Long Scottsdale, Hello San Diego

sunriseSo back to the big move. This major change in my life. Humongous! We said we’d never leave Arizona. Home. And here I was driving off. Not sunset. But sunrise. Dawn. New day. Bright. Sunny. Full of promise. Beginning. Here we go. Five hours of sleep. Marriott’s shortest stay. But it was time to hit the road. “Mini angels” were raring to go. Really? Minimal sleep. Up at the crack of dawn. No caffeine. And powered with energy. Give me what they’ve got! We loaded up. Pit stop for gas. Caffeine. Little breakfast. And then it was “Farewell Phoenix.” Hasta la vista baby. As Gregger would say, “So long. Until we meet again.” Never, “goodbye.” Too final. But this was. And as we drove, the memories flooded my mind.

sunrise 3On every corner. Something. A restaurant. We loved or hated. Starbucks. Our Sunday Funday. Casino. Part of my 60th birthday celebration. Airport. Departure for cities around the world. Or return to home. Comfort. Flashes of pictures. Years streaming. Where did the time go? Where did our life go? How did this happen? And in a flash, it was gone. All that stretched before us was open land. Desert. Barren open land. A horizon of new opportunities. New life. What was I feeling? Sad? Not really. Relieved? Slightly. Overwhelmed? A little. Scared? Most definitely. But I was ready. I knew this was the right move. The right time. And certainly the right place.

sunrise 4The drive was easy. “Mama Angel” and I never stopped talking. It’s always easy between the two of us. Ask me what we talk about. I have no idea. Life. Love. Kids. Nothing. Everything. Being friends. I am lucky. She walked into my life and blessed me with a friendship that truly comes along once in a lifetime. She has held my hand when I’m ready to fall. Hugged me when I am feeling empty. And called just when I thought my world was falling apart. So the drive was easy. This was easy. I was ready.

As we drove down Melrose and headed up Rancho Santa Fe my heart started fluttering. Butterflies tumbled in my belly. I was going “home.” A home I was going to see for the very first time. But I knew it would be perfect. “Mama” and “Papa” angel had found it for me. I knew it had their blessing. I knew they would know what was right for me. And I never doubted it for one single second. When we made that final turn it all became very real.

To be continued….

sunrise 2

A Utah Birthday Celebration

A Utah Birthday Celebration

birthdaysSo I survived Birthday 2015. Family. Friends. Support. Love. Lots and lots of love. From the break of dawn ’til the midnight hour. Texts, phone calls, FB messages, cards, photos, and more. Memories flashed. New memories made. It was a day to reflect. A day to rejoice. I focused on my blessings. Gregger kept flickering into the picture. I knew the moment I landed in Utah he was there. He would have embraced the beauty, just as I did. He would have loved the tranquility. A charming sense of peace.

I went to bed Tuesday night praying that Gregger would come to wish me a Happy Birthday. He didn’t. It was hard to sleep. I wanted my birthday to come and go. Maybe I could just sleep through it. No. We had too much to do. I had to smile. Be happy. Have fun. I could do it. I just kept telling myself it was just another day. People called. I spoke to a few, but more like an out of body experience. We were busy. Perusing Park City. Shopping. Meandering. Lunching. A little happy hour sunshine with the girls. Fun. Good to forget.

Harry 2 (1)Open cards. Hard for people to buy this year. They didn’t want to be too funny. Not too sentimental. Some made me cry. Some gave me a little chuckle. I got it. It was tough. Presents. My kids gave me really sentimental gifts. Touching. Close to my heart. Sweet. Kind. Full of love. Just like their dad. I’m not surprised.

Off to the concert. Red Butte Garden in Salt Lake. A botanical garden surrounded by a beautiful mountainous range. Magnificent. Storms swelling on the horizon. Praying they would bypass the Butte. The winds kicked up. Dark clouds formed. Harry Connick, Jr took the stage. The crowd erupted in applause. The skies opened. The sun broke through. Gorgeous. Captivating. Perfect. Birthday magic.

Harry 1And that concert was sensational. Standards. Standup. Jazz. Big Band. And love songs. Those were the ones that got me. Yep. I looked right into those heavens and cried. I wanted Gregger right there with me. Holding my hand. And then the rainbow appeared. I couldn’t see it. I strained. But Harry talked about it. He kept pointing to it. “Can you see it? Can you see it?” NO! I wanted to scream out! But I knew it was Gregger. I knew he was there with us. I knew it was my birthday sign. And just then I knew everything was going to be okay.

It was a fabulous night. I am blessed with a wonderful Utah family. Lucky to share my celebration with my in-law birthday twin. And so grateful we are able to be together. Thank you to everyone who touched my life yesterday. You touched my heart.


At Least We Had Paris

At Least We Had Paris

DSC_0321I am so sad. I just read that Paris is not only banishing the tradition of “Love Locks” on the famed Pont des Arts, but removing the ones already blanketing the bridge. Gregger and I left our mark there September 2013. We promised to go back one day. We marked the spot. We took pictures. We knew just where our love lock, inscribed with our initials, remained, bearing our eternal love for one another.  DSC_0322

Apparently the locks have become a safety hazard. City hall workers will begin removing the locks to prevent the bridge from caving. I get that. But it’s like another piece of our hearts is being tossed away. Paris was our last “alone” trip together. We dreamed about that trip for so long. It was a HUGE deal for Gregger to take time off in the fall. New, exciting merchandise. Clients back in town after a long, hot summer. Push time. We vacationed in July or August when it was quiet. Gregger never wanted to miss anything or anybody. After 40 years together, I got it. So this was something special. Not just Paris, but Gregger in September!

Two weeks before our grand trip, I blew out my back. BAD! I couldn’t walk. There was no way in hell I was canceling this trip. Gregger thought we should postpone, but I was not giving up this opportunity. I chose to get poked, prodded and numbed with an epidural. It wasn’t perfect, but I was ready to rock and roll. I endured a thirteen-hour plane ride. I passed the first test. And then we were off and running. Using Fodor’s guide to Paris, we mapped out our daily plan. With only four days to cover this magnificent city, we had to be efficient.  And efficient we were. From the moment we landed, we trekked our way through the city, savoring every awesome sight. It was an amazing trip jam-packed with so many incredible memories. Paris was everything we dreamed it would be and more. We not only soaked up every ounce of history and culture, but treasured the romantic ambiance. It was exhilarating, breathtaking, and awe-inspiring!

DSC_0493We were staying smack in the middle of the Champs-Elysees, a few paces from the Arc de Triomphe. Stepping onto our balcony we could circle around to have a birds-eye view of the Eiffel Tower and Sacred Heart Basilica of Montmartre in one swoop. Gregger enjoyed the chill morning air with his Starbucks in hand (yes, Starbucks!) as I readied for the day. Paris was good for him. He chilled. It was good for us. We were grateful. Grateful for each other. Grateful for time. We traipsed our way from Place de la Concorde to Notre Dame Cathedral, crossing the Pont Saint-Louis bridge to sip wine on the sublime streets of Ile Saint-Louis. We got up close and personal with Mona Lisa, Venus de Milo, and masterpieces by the likes of Monet, Van Gogh, Degas, and Gaugin. Magical. Dreamy. Unreal. We climbed to the top of the Eiffel Tower, the Arc de Triomphe. Gregger tried to stop me. He didn’t think my back could take it. Nothing could stop me. It was a once in a lifetime opportunity. Let’s go. So go we did. We took a sunset cruise on the Seine. Magnificent. Breathtaking. The city of lights. We hunted the Marais for hours, searching for the ultimate falafel at L’As Du Fallafel. Our feet were numb and blistered, but Gregger got his falafel – belly full, happy man. Museums, gardens, palaces, and more – endless moments marking memories for a lifetime.DSC_0354

DSC_0352Every afternoon at 3 we stopped at an outdoor cafe. Our time. Quiet time. Gregger indulged in French onion soup, a beer. I delighted in berries, some French wine. One afternoon we struck up a conversation with our neighboring table. We exchanged pleasantries. Where are you from? What do you do? It turned out their brother-in-law lived a few streets away from us in Scottsdale and their nephew went to the same high school as Ashley! Of course, Gregger knew where they lived, people who lived by them, yada, yada, yada. The conversation was crazy. They were coming to Scottsdale. They would stop in the store and shop. And here we were on the streets of Paris. Crazy! But so much fun. Life. All part of the journey.

So Paris was full of beautiful memories. Our last special trip together. Before Hawaii. Our lock is still there, along with nearly one million others. I believe our solid love will ALWAYS be there. That can never be taken away. So while it’s sad the locks are coming down, “LOVE is everlasting; infinite. It has no boundaries and no barriers. Love, is just like the universe, forever.”  DSC_0451


NYC…The City That Never Sleeps!

FullSizeRenderMay 30th, 2014.

NYC with the Gregger. He was on business as usual, I was on fun. But we always made time in the middle for “together time.” That was the best time. People always asked me, “Did you see this show, that show? Did you go to this museum? Restaurant?” Sometimes. But most of the time we were happy walking hand in hand down Fifth Avenue, through Central Park, or just around the city doing nothing. We’d stop for coffee, a glass of wine. We had our favorite eating hangouts. They were timeless. We were creatures of habit. Some would say we wasted our opportunities in a city like NYC, but we believed we used every opportunity we had to spend time just being. Gregger loved New York. If he had his druthers, he would have moved there. Gregger loved the hustle-bustle city life. Four days and I was cooked!

NYC 3Our first trip to NYC was magical in a unique way. I was preggers with Ashley. I was about five months along, but I was huge. My feet were swollen and busting out of my shoes. But I was determined to do New York right. Gregger did NOT believe in cabs. It was walk, walk everywhere! As much as I love to walk, my belly, butt, and feet were a bit weary after treading the streets of Manhatten. From Central Park, Radio City, Rockefeller Center to the Empire State Building, Wall Street to the World Trade Center (still standing back in 1985), Times Square, Broadway, and Soho we covered as much ground as my preggo body could tolerate. We ate our way through the city. Why not? I was eating for two! Gregger even convinced me to take a subway once and only once! I was terrified and rightly so. Heading to Soho and Greenwich we descended into the Subway. I clutched his arm, digging my nails in with fear. We boarded and the fear was overwhelming. Suddenly some bedraggled guy saunters  through and yells out, “I am not here to hurt anyone. I am not armed. I am not here to harm you in any way. I just need money.” Awesome! He proceeded to rant, walk and beg as I clawed my nails deeper into Gregger’s arm. Get me to Greenwich! It was years before I ever boarded another Subway train!  It was just one of those things.  It was all part of the magical journey.

FullSizeRender_2Gregger surprised me with a carriage ride through Central Park. It was romantic. For the first 10 minutes. And then we looked at each other and were SO over it! The horse poop smell. The slow clip-clop of the horse’s hooves on the pavement. We hugged. We snuggled. And then we were so done. We were ready for food and whatever else the night was going to bring. Been there, done that, over it.

We had so many other great trips to the Big Apple. It became familiar. Home-like. I could navigate without Gregger, without fear. I even overcame my fear of the subway. I cruised that city like a true New Yorker, straight from Bloomies to Saks to Bergdorfs. I  nailed it! Gregger loved sharing the sites of the city he loved with the kids. We ventured out to Ellis Island (in pursuit of our ancestry), the Statute of Liberty, Little Italy, Canal Street, and Chinatown. What a magnificent day! Capturing the world in one big city! We walked from Columbus Circle to South Street Seaport and back. That is one long hike. But there was no other way to soak it all it in! That was Gregger’s way!

NYCLast June was our last trip to NYC together. We stayed at our choice hotel. We had reservations at our best-loved restaurants. We cheered at happy hour. We walked in Central Park. Gregger stole Saturday for Bloody Mary’s and our day in the city. An extraordinary trip and then it was time to head back to reality. Or so we thought. After four or five hours of sitting, waiting, and drinking, the plane was grounded with mechanical problems. While my theory is always “better safe than sorry,” Gregger was slightly annoyed. I figured why not make the most of another great night together. US Airways was putting us up for the night, paying for dinner and drinks. How could we lose? Well, we could. The hotel was dirty. The food was disgusting. And we just wanted to get home! But why focus on the negative? We were together and that was really all that mattered. All in all the trip was full of magic, moments, memories.

New York will never be the same for me. I went back last January. It was cold. Freezing. Sure, it was winter. But it was colder because Gregger wasn’t there. His smile, his laugh, his infectious aura. The retail industry had their own private memorial for Gregger. It was a first. They saved it for the BEST. I’ll go back someday. But for now I’ll cherish those memories like all the others. We were lucky. We had a full life. We really got to LIVE. It was shorter than we hoped for, but what a blessing!


The Weekend that Was

smallest step

So I did it! I made it through the Vegas weekend…I survived the travel, the memories, and a little bit of heartache. I had melancholy moments, but I also had laughter, sunshine, and joy. I felt Gregger around me, pushing me, encouraging me. He would hate some of the things I did, the way I traveled, but it sort of made me laugh. For the first time in a long time, I was making my own choices. Believe me, I would be much happier with his choices or our choices, but making my choices at this point did feel pretty good. They were silly dumb things, but that’s okay. They were still my choices and I was okay with them.

It took me a long time to be okay with my choices. That probably sounds a bit crazy, but we were young babes when we married. I went from nesting under my parent’s “wing” to living with Gregger. From the beginning he took care of me. I never really knew what it meant to take care of myself. I only knew what it was to be “taken care of” by someone else. So I let him take care of me. I let him make the decisions, the choices, for a long time, until I realized I wanted a voice too. Things slowly changed in our marriage and we grew to make choices together, but early on, I barely bought a tube of mascara without his permission. I just didn’t know any better.  think positively

While reinventing myself this weekend, I relived so many memories. I realized how we grew as individuals as well as together; how our journey gave me the strength to be here today. Suzy and I visited all of “our” favorite spots, but I got better as the days went on. We talked about the past, the present, and the future. My sis was my greatest support and I think I was able to unload a lot of “baggage,”  maybe coming home a little bit lighter.

Nothing extreme, nothing crazy, but I was out in the world, just me. If you asked me five years ago if I could do this, I would have said, “Hell NO!” I would have pictured myself buried in the comfort of my home, secure with my computer and a few shows on TV. I play the role of recluse much better than that of “bar girl.” But for a few short days it was fun to be someone and something else. I could play, I could pretend, and I then I could come back and face reality all over again. I’m ready for the newest challenges…and there are new ones every day.  I never know what will hit me next. I appreciate the reprieve, the fun, and the fancy. Until next time…


Las Vegas Trip

Lady Luck


I know I have been talking a lot about all of the “firsts” in my life lately, but right now my life is all about change. Generally I don’t do well with change. I am a woman of routine. I follow the same pattern every day, eat the same foods, and am basically one of the most boring people on the planet. Give me a plan and I’m okay, but change that plan, and it takes me a while to adapt. So these past seven months have literally thrown me into a spiral. The daily changes and adaptations are overwhelming, not to mention, the BIG ones – selling the businesses, putting the house on the market, “going out,” and now one more. I am taking my first BIG GIRL trip on my own. Well, not completely on my own. I am meeting my sister (my bestie) for her birthday in Vegas of all places. In 40 years I never did the “girl trip” – I never even did “girls night out.” Gregger and I just didn’t do that. Our time together was so limited and we really cherished our alone time. Even when the kids were little and growing up we didn’t do separate things. We ate together, watched TV together…it was just us. So stepping out to Vegas on my own…this is HUGE!

imageI am not a Vegas lover. We chose this for convenience and sunshine. My sis has suffered a horrific winter on the east coast and the best I could offer for her birthday was sunny skies and sipping martinis poolside. I will deal with the CHANGE and get through another “first.” Who knows? I may even have a little bit of fun. But first I have to walk the memories. The time our plane got diverted to LA in a violent storm and I held Gregger’s hand so tight he had bruises by the time we landed. Or our infamous trip with Ashley and Tyler when I got violently ill (yes, I drank a little too much!) and he dragged me through the lobby of the Palazzo (as I vomited into Tyler’s t-shirt), our dinners at Joe’s Stone Crab, walks on the strip, and cheering me on at the slots. Memories, memories, memories…those memories will be etched in my heart forever, but for now I’ll start making new ones. I don’t have his hand to clutch onto as the plane bounces around (I am NOT a good flyer), but I am talking to him as if he were right here with me – my guardian angel. I am ready to face what lies ahead. We’re going to play some of his favorite numbers…maybe lady luck will roll our way. Here’s to another “first,” another change, and another tomorrow.


The Suite Case - A True Love Fairytale

The Suitcase

a place for everything

You can tell a lot about a man by the way he packs his clothes. Percentage weighs heavily on the side of women packing for their men, whether it be that men don’t want to be bothered or they just don’t know how. In my case, the Gregger was clearly the BETTER PACKER! In fact, he was OCD meticulous! Packing for a trip in this house could literally lead to World War III. Our big issue…I was “check-in” and he was “carry on!”  To the Gregger, packing was an architechural or engineering project using every dimension of the smallest proportion to get as much as possible into the smallest space. On the other hand, I was totally inept when it came to packing. No matter how hard I tried to limit myself, I would overpack “just in case.” So we bantered back and forth. His point: I overpacked, would never wear it all, and it was a waste of space. My point: I would be best prepared for all occasions, all moods, which, in the end, would make him abundantly happier! His point: he was efficient, precise, and a time-saver (no waiting for bags, no chance of lost baggage, etc.). My point: when traveling, who cares? Chill out!

Needless to say, the bantering continued just about every time either or both of us traveled. I think it became some sort of game. He would certainly not dare give in to more than one suitcase, lest he show any sign of packing weakness. And, I certainly would never learn to pack less than half my closet!


suitcases 2

Now for most people packing is a day before, night before happening. Not in our house. This was literally a 2-3 day affair. I kid you not! Day one: the rolling rack appeared in the bedroom so Gregger could start “pulling” his clothes. This was a painstaking, detail-oriented affair focused on fusing the necessary pieces into the perfect ensembles. Minimilization was key…the fewer the pieces to mix and match the bigger the win! Rules of the game: one or two sport coats for a four or five day trip, a shirt for every day, maybe one or two extra “just in case,” and generally two or three pants that were rotated. Everything mixed and matched to perfection. Then came shoes to coordinate (he was only allotted a certain number), socks and underwear for everyday (obviously for Mr. Meticulous!), pocket squares for the super savvy, and then the royal dobb kit! Now that was a packing procedure in itself. Every item had its own plastic bag, wrapped again in more plastic and then placed sequentially as if solving a puzzle. It was quite the process.

Our last trip together was no different. The rolling rack appeared in the bedroom by Wednesday. Shorts, t-shirts, Lulu outfits, and underwear were laid out by Thursday. The good shirts were carefully hung and were folded and wrapped (yes, wrapped in plastic!) on Friday. I was so excited for the trip I didn’t care how he went about packing. At this point it was fun watching him make it all work. In the meantime I had emptied more than half my closet into two full suitcases and was very ready to go! When all was said and done, we jammed 9 suitcases and 5 backpacks into the van upon arrival in Maui! We were prepared for just about anything…well, just about anything.

In 40 years I NEVER once packed for the Gregger. It wasn’t that I didn’t want to. I just knew I could never do it the way he did. I don’t think anyone could! It was truly an art. Packing and unpacking was his thing. He knew where things went and how to put them away. I certainly never wanted my first packing experience to be the one it turned out to be, but I had no choice. September 3rd I was faced with the most difficult packing chore of my life. Not only did I have to pack Gregger’s suitcase, but I had to return home without him. This was something I had to do alone. I spent some time folding, sorting, and trying to carefully place each item the way he would want me to, but eventually I just didn’t care anymore. I threw away the plastic bags we had saved for years. I tossed shoes in on top of clothes and ignored the rule of wrapping. The tears were flowing too heavily. I just needed to get that bag packed somehow. Each shirt reminded me of something. The only thing I took special care with was his straw hat. I wrapped it, stuffed it, and protected it. I knew how much that hat meant to him, and it would forever remind me of our last trip together. He would hate the way I packed that suitcase.

I was cleaning my closet the other day and thought, “Okay it’s time, but, as always I stopped in my tracks.” The vivid, lime green duffle still lies on the floor, unpacked. I move it from side to side. I open it now and then thinking I might start to unpack, but then I put everything back in place. It just seems too final. I will unpack it one of these days, but until then, I see it everyday and it’s just a little piece of the Gregger that is still there. It reminds me of his meticulous nature, his savvy style, and our quirky bantering over silly things. I’m just not ready to let it go. I will be soon enough. 2013-09-21 06.08.27