March 19th, gratitude birthday entry:
Italian… Sicilian, no less! And don’na you no fahget ‘t…
Michele has been a part of my Tribe for over twenty-five years. I first met her when she walked through my exercise studio doors. The hours and hours we have spent sweating during step aerobics classes, lifting weights – and this girl can lift HEAVY, mmmmmmhmmmmm.
Maybe it’s our common heritage, maybe it’s our love for fitness… but we connected nearly immediately and have kept in touch ever since.
The following is but a short list of my fave thangs about this soul:
— She’s the real deal. What you see is what you get.
— You never have to wonder what she’s thinking. Her honesty is impeccable. Because of this, she creates safe space for everyone to reciprocate. She will not hold your honesty against you. Her vibe is: “hey, you gotta say what you gotta say.” Doesn’t mean she has to agree with you – and, if she doesn’t, you’ll know.
— She’s hilarious.
— She calls many of her friends’ mothers, “Ma”… because, with Michele, you’re probably treated like family. Respectful and honoring. It’s just the way she rolls.
— When she really digs you, you get called “asshole” as in “you’re an asshole” as in “oh my God, you’re killin’ me here” and with the utmost affection.
— Integrity. Her work ethic is beyond compare. She works with disabled folks, and I’m telling you, she treats them like… yup, family. The love pours out of this soul’s heart. We are blessed recipients, indeed.
— She digs her husband. I have never heard her make a derogatory remark about him. Quite the opposite in that she speaks of him frequently as her best friend and treats him with great respect. High vibe indeed.
— She loves her dogs. Bailey and Brandy are in heaven, but Jake is currently keeping her on her toes. God, she loves that fur butt.
— She speaks well of her brother and his wife. She is head over heels for her two nephews and great-nephew. Her whole being beams with happiness when she speaks of them.
— Do not shovel BS her way. She WILL call yerass out. You’re going down.
— When she laughs, the whole damn room lights up.
— She’s a Bills fan. During season, every home game she makes all sortsa goodies and bunches of friends gather and eat, drink, and be merry.
— Generosity oozes out of her.
— She holds a vibe of no-nonsense practicality. Her counsel is spot-on.
— Never ever plays the Victim. Things happen, life can take your breath away for a bit, but you stand back up and you keep going.
All this, and she’s an orphan. She won’t make a big deal out of it because she is a freakin’ badass. But she lost her dad quite a while back and then her mom not too long ago. Maybe it’s partly why she loves with her whole heart. She’s experienced such loss. Leaves a hole big enough… to know that life is short. Love big, love hard.
We both witnessed our Moms slip out of skin and into the Invisible Real. There is something profound about being with someone at the end of this journey, as they jump into The Next. Changes you.
There are two times: Before and Now. Not After. Not Later. Now. Because you realize, yes you know, Now is the only guarantee.
Things that seemed so damn important Before… not so much Now. This epiphany leaves you grounded, settled, more calm. Less willing to put up with the ridiculousness of stuff, the drama, the nonsense. Having experienced The End of Here, you hold the Now with reverence. Now is holy.
I think this is how Michele treats those with whom she spends her life: her husband and pup, her best friends and gal-pals, her clients at work, her family and extended family, me. In the midst of her busy schedule, she opens up space with you. She makes you feel like you’re the most important thing going on in her life right then. Now.
The thing I love most about Michele is that she reminds me of my “Mom.” When I was in college, I needed a place to stay for a bit… I called my Dad’s cousin, Julie, in the next town.
Me: Uh, hi. Not sure if you remember me but I’m Tommy’s oldest and I need a place to stay.
Her: Let me ask Tooty… okay, dear. He said sure. You can stay for the weekend.
I never left. I started calling her MomJuls. She was brassy, spoke her mind, listened and counseled, cooked sauce most Sundays, vacuumed perfectly clean carpets, and loved with all her heart. Everyone – EVERYONE – was family.
We split a klondike bar on the couch downstairs in the basement most summer nights. She taught me how to crochet. Eating her cookies was like eating Joy.
My children called her Grandma.
My fourth son is named after her.
She changed the direction of my life.
Bears repeating: she was a game-changer for me.
Best. Phone. Call. Ever.
Michele and MomJuls vibe at a similar frequency to me. Both create space that makes me feel like family. Family. Oh, that we would never underestimate the power we have to make another feel accepted, embraced, included, safe. Loved. Family.
The song I chose for Michele is one that makes me cry sad/happy tears. In my tribute to Michele and our friendship… I give honor to our Moms. I know Michele would want it this way.
Mama, to you. And to our Moms.
Michele “Mama” I love you.
You. Complete. Me.
Much love & hope,