Gratitude Celebration 5: $50,000 Roller Skates

This is my fifth day of 60 days of gratitude for people in my life. For 60 days I’m writing a post to celebrate my 60th birthday. Enjoy this essay about my Uncle Walt and Aunt Aileen!

“So I took the fifty thousand dollars and I bought a pair of roller skates!” That’s what my Uncle Walt said once and it became the line that everyone used to characterize him! I never understood the story, but those words somehow encapsulate his lighthearted view of life.

Uncle Walt was my Dad’s oldest brother by fifteen years. He was an attorney in the small town of Celina, OH, not far from the even smaller town of Coldwater where the Bernard family grew up.  Aileen Courtney, his wife, was my Grandma’s younger sister, making Aileen my aunt AND my great aunt! read more

Gratitude Celebration 4: Grandma Graciousness

I’m celebrating my 60th birthday with 60 posts of gratitude for people in my life. Today, I’m remembering my Grandma, Mary Zugger.

I liked my grandma. She was the only grandma I knew, my Dad’s mom having passed away when he was only 16. Grandma would come from Buffalo, NY on the train. My grandpa had worked for the railroad for his career and earned her free rides on the train. My memory snapshot is of her sitting at our kitchen table with beer in a glass and a cigarette in her hand. She would send me to the neighborhood grocery store with a note giving the store manager permission to pick up her Lark cigarettes, a whole carton of them. read more

Gratitude Celebration 3: Karen: Perfection Emulated

I’m celebrating my 60th birthday with 60 days of gratitude to people in my life! Today is the third day. I honor my older sister, Karen.

I had this view of my life that I would follow in my sister, Karen’s footsteps. She’s three years older than I, and did everything perfectly (well, except play that Chopin piece with so many repeated notes I wanted to scream down the stairs from my bed, “Just play the thing through! Stop repeating. Stop repeating!”). She was smart. And popular, but not in the boy-attracting way my older sister, Claudia was. Karen dazzled me with her ability to gather groups of friends into marvelous events that I always wanted to be part of. Her friends were so interesting, and talked about important things like social activism and personal growth and things like that. She was such a nice big sister that she did invite me a few times! I was invited to her friend’s party on the night of the first Moon Walk. I was in Karen’s glorious circle of friends with eyes glued to the full moon on July 20, 1969, sure that I could tell that the moon had been breached. read more

Gratitude Celebration Day Two: Claudia

Today is my second day of SIXTY DAYS OF GRATITUDE to celebrate my sixtieth birthday!

Today, I’m giving thanks for my oldest sister, Claudia.

Claudia, my oldest sister

She is five years older than me and I always admired that she was beautiful and popular! I was grateful for being able to borrow her clothes because she always had better ones! At least that’s what I thought when I was 15! Once, though, I had a vest and she had a skirt that went together well, so that time I felt equal!

The funny thing is that I still like to borrow her clothes and I still think she is beautiful and popular, but I also think that I am too! This Christmas season, when we were both staying at our mom’s house, we both got glitzed up for Christmas Eve in Claudia’s clothes. It worked out great because she could show off two glitzy tops and I could surprise everyone with wearing a glitzy top. read more

Gratitude Celebration: Day One!

It’s my 60th birthday and I thought of a way to celebrate all sixty years. Every day, I’ll recognize someone who blessed my life along the way!

I’ll start with my parents. I know that’s two people, but I figure since it took both of them to get me here, they come as a package to start off this party. Thanks a million Mom and Dad, Patricia and Jim Bernard, that is.

I was their fourth child. When I was born they didn’t know they would be having six more kids, so I was the special baby for a little while anyway. I have a LIFETIME of gratitude for my parents. I’ll make it easy and just start a list of thank you’s: read more