A Little Family History

Today is the 68th anniversary of the start of our family restaurant business. 68 years ago my grandfather started the business. In the early 90’s, my dad, and a partner bought the company and took over operations and ownership. That partnership did not last and so my dad became the sole owner/operator. Upon the unexpected passing of my dad in 2010, my two brothers did not miss a beat in taking over the company.

My dad was a smart guy, he started succession planning in the early 2000’s. It was my choice not to become an owner/operator (in-training) at that time. I was a mom with 2 young children and that is all I wanted to be. I did work in the company in several different capacities throughout the years. In a nutshell I pretty much handled coordinating marketing efforts and customer relations.

My brothers and I were the 3rd generation of the family to run the business. I retired 3 years ago …… I was unfulfilled and I felt I made a better sister than employee. As of now there are no great grandchildren of my grandfather that are interested in taking over the business – no 4th generation. There are 6 great granddaughters who range in age from 5-26. My girls are already grown and started in their “adult work” life. Who knows what my nieces will end up doing, but it doesn’t look like owning and operating the business. This makes me sad. We have come through so many trials and tribulations with this business and today it is quite successful once again.

My husband started working with the company a couple years ago as a consultant. Today he is full time at the business. He is helping my brothers navigate the future of the company and the day to day operations. Sales continue to be good despite the covid pandemic and expansions are taking place. I do feel a little left out, no longer being a part of the business, but still bearing the name the company as part of my name and heritage. It is a mixed up emotion.

I am proud of the work that is being done through the company and our family foundation. I am sure my dad is smiling down on us all …. and maybe my grandfather too (he is a whole different story) as we celebrate this milestone.

It is a good day to reflect on where we have been as a family, a business and important part of our community for the past 68 years …. the good, the bad and the ugly. I have been thinking of my dad a lot too as we just marked the 11th anniversary of his passing. I wish he was here to enjoy the fruit of his labor and the success of his children and grandchildren.

It will be interesting to see where the future takes this family and our restaurants.

My Miscellaneous Life

I really don’t know where to start ….. life surely can come at you in many different directions at the same time. But it is all good.

We just got back from a quick weekend visit to Dallas, Texas to visit my oldest daughter, Allie and her boyfriend, Pat. It was a wonderful weekend full of fun, family and food. 3 plane flights in 3 months for me is huge and I didn’t even panic much. Steve, Kirsten, my Mom and I all enjoyed some quality Texas time. Allie and Pat seem very happy, but in no rush to move things along in terms of an engagement. I also got the feeling that they aren’t coming home anytime in the near future to put down roots. I loved having my grandparents close by while growing up and loved my kids being close to my grandma and their grandmas. But I am definitely getting way ahead of myself. So I will just try to stay in today.

We were in Dallas only Friday early thru Monday afternoon and that was the perfect amount of time. A lot of drinking happens when my family is together – not like alcoholic drinking …. just drinking and I was for the most part just fine with the whole thing, I did get a little jealous when they got the cold Chardonnay on the warm day on the rooftop bar. But I guess I am finally realizing my place in the world and it doesn’t include alcohol and sometimes that is just unfortunate.

While we were in Dallas, Steve and I celebrated our anniversary. 29 years of being married. It is a miracle. I am so grateful that we made it through a very rough patch with divorce on the table several years ago. We are good partners and happy.

As you know we are temporarily living in a condo while we build a home in town. Well the universe seemed to be against us doing that. So many roadblocks, couldn’t land on a design or stay within a budget. We found a house we loved in the next town over and jumped on it. Looked at it on a Sunday, got all the bank stuff and preapproval done on monday and now we are moving into an existing home on 5/17. It just felt right the moment we saw it. I think it was meant to be. So we are busy packing up again after only 6 months in the condo. Luckily we have a lot of stuff still packed up in the storage room and the storage unit we rented. It will nice to “find” all our stuff again. I am tired though of living in the half packed messy chaos of a condo. We will need to get out, get it cleaned and on the market. We bought it thinking we would be here for 18 months or so.

I strained my back and shoulder walking the dog – much pain. Been sucking down the Aleve and Tylenol for over a week. Got a medical massage to work out the kinks and it helped. Got some good advice and exercises to do to strengthen the muscles (which I have been very bad about doing). I finally went to the doctor and got a muscle relaxer. He gave me a prescription for 90 pills! It wasn’t my regular doc so he doesn’t know my drug abuse history, I had a rough couple of hours thinking about those pills and the oxy I picked up and delivered to a friend. It makes me crazy that my mind still thinks like an addict. I took only 1 pill as prescribed, but it didn’t do much and my addict brain is thinking 2 pills may be better to help the pain and sleep issues better. I did have a nice long chat with my sponsor and now Steve controls the pills. The thing is I am allowed to have to 3 a day, but he will only give me 1 per night. Damn.

We got our second Covid vaccine this week. I still debated on whether or not to go through with it, but again family pressure. I feel fine this time and it is Steve who got sick from the 2nd dose. It is just weird that we have no history on these shots and what they may or may not do to us in the long run. We are totally trusting the system and I am not sure if that is wise.

So, the trip, moving, and the pain / pills and shot is what my life has been these last couple of weeks. It is all a little stressful, but it is all good.

The weekend is about to start and it is full of plans that also will include those around me drinking. That is just life! I am just living life on life’s terms and taking it one day at a time.

MONEY $

I got a message the other day from a lady I used to sort of sponsor. She never really embraced the AA recovery route. She wanted to talk and had a question for me. Well, we know where this is going, right?

She had called a few weeks back just to check in and give me an update on her life. She seems to be doing well. She called at the perfect time as I was feeling low and like I had no purpose in life. She told me how much I have helped her and that I am always there for her and for that she is grateful ….. wow, wasn’t expecting that, but it made me feel good. We ended the call with the promise to get together to further the conversation. She is sober and taking another route to sobriety. I know everyone has their own journey, some can do it without a twelve step program, I am not one of those people.

We aren’t really friends, I think of us as more like acquaintances and maybe from her point of view I am a little bit like a mentor. But I rarely hear from her. We met from a mutual friend, and my goal was to help her get sober.

Fast forward to this week when I got the text ….. “I have a question, can you call me” As soon as she opened her mouth and started talking I knew where this conversation was going. It is always so awkward when some comes right out and asks for money. I have loaned money or I should say given money to an “acquaintance” friend in the program and got burned. I have also loaned money to a great friend in the program with no problems. The thing is, I feel guilty not helping out. I have money. But I don’t have the trust in this person and that there is the difference. She is not my friend and I feel a little used and angry.

I don’t know why I have so many mixed emotions about this. I can not be the bank for those in need this way. I do donate money and time to organizations that I believe in. We have worked hard to get to the place we are in life. I am grateful to have what I have and to be able to do the things we do. I won’t mention the fact that my husband would not be happy if I loaned money to another miscellaneous friend. He is okay with the loans I have given my real friend, as she is his friend too.

I have got to know I did the right thing, and move on. What are your thoughts?

A day in the life …..

So I survived Covid. In terms of how Covid goes, it was a mild case, not a pleasant experience, but it could have been so much worse. I am grateful. About 12 days of feeling crappy. I still don’t have my taste or smell back and I get tired. It is annoying! Now we just wait and see what type of long term residual effects there might be. There are so many variables to this virus.

The presidential inauguration is tomorrow. Not who I voted for. I believe both candidates had a lot to be desired. I had to vote on policy not personality. What was best for our business and my family. I just hate all the hate that is going around this country right now. I don’t understand the far left and the far right – they are just crazy people. I do believe in parts of both parties platforms. But some of the things have just gone too far!!!! I just like to stay in my own little bubble – it makes me so anxious to think about it all. But I do pray nightly that this country is restored to sanity …. no matter who the president is.

I am getting back to meetings and the fellowship. I did not like zooming while I was sick. I need to be in the rooms for my recovery. I miss so many of my friends who are not coming out because of Covid and health issues. I can be hopeful that this new vaccine will help and I hope soon things will get back to our “normal”.

Not much is happening these days …. just a day in the life!

January 1, 2021

Goodbye 2020 – what a crazy, difficult, unprecedented year you were. So many things we take for granted in life have had to change because of happenings of 2020. We have been forced to embrace the suck of this past year.

So far 2021 is starting out with some difficulty. I am sick – yuck. I had the COVID test this morning so it will be a couple of days before I know for sure if I have it. The symptoms of the last day are pointing to me having it. Head cold, aches, cough … and the tell tale sign of the loss of taste among other things. I am hoping I did not pass the virus on if I have it since I was out and about thinking I had a sinus infection for a couple days before the real symptoms hit. So needless to say I am now in quarantine.

So because of this I have had to miss all the NYE and Day meetings at the club, just like I had to miss all the Christmas meetings. I can’t help with the clean up of putting decorations away. I have been in contact with my “team” and it will all be taken care of. It is humbling to realize the world can the club can function just fine without me. I have to once again let go of that control.

So what do I want to do in this brand new year ….. a brand new chapter in the book of life. I definitely need to get healthy and get back to an exercise program. Since I quite last year with my depression and then covid – well, I have been a slug! I also want to take the writing more seriously even if it is just for me or a memoir for the family. I want to get back into the big book of AA and up my program. I feel I have been somewhat complacent as of late. I overall want to be a good person with gratitude, humility and hope. Those I think are my goals for 2021 …. I won’t call them New Year’s Resolutions, but I guess they kinda are.

Even with the “New Normal” of 2020 I have found much gratitude in the small stuff. So many things looked different last year than what we expected especially with Kirsten’s graduation from college, and all the virtual meetings and gatherings. But with pain and difficulty comes growth … I truly believe that. We have learned to deal with things we thought we would never have to deal with.

Life happens and we just have to accept it as it comes …. So here is to 2021 and all the adventures that await us. Now hopefully I don’t start out the year getting really sick with this stupid covid.

Christmas 2020 Style

It has been a different sort of Christmas season. No large family gathering this holiday. I am spending the day with my family: husband, daughters and Allie’s boyfriend …. and the pups. Playing games, watching movies and doing family zoom calls. We will eat our traditional Italian dinner tonight with all the family, but separately in our own homes.

It is a low stress Christmas which is kind of nice.

One of my brothers is just getting over covid – his family seems to be ok, but they have not been tested. Allie and Pat were exposed by his sister on Sunday. They tested negative with the rapid test, but are waiting results from the regular covid test. So we just stay home and wait. I am sure they will be fine, but we want to be safe and not pass it on.

I am staying away from the AA club which is hard since I plan the Christmas (alcathon) meetings. But I am sure they can run fine without me. It is just a control thing.

We need to go make gift drop offs the the brothers and families. Not sure when we will get the gifts over to Steve’s mom. She has a lot of health issues and doesn’t really want to see anyone, but from a distance …. and it is too cold outside.

Despite the issues 2020 has brought to us all, I still have gratitude …. a lot of gratitude. I have everything I need and my loving family is healthy. There have been challenges to overcome, but that doesn’t diminish my blessings.

2020 has definitely not been the year we all expected it to be when it started back in January, but we are surviving …. together!

Miracles

52,624 hours, 2,193 days, 72.03 months …… 6 Years!

By the grace of my God and the fellowship of Alcoholics Anonymous I have 6 years of continuous sobriety today. I am grateful I did not quit before the miracle happened, because yes …. it is a miracle.

I started this journey in a treatment center in 2007. For years I felt I was defined by all my relapses and inability to stay sober. That is one reason each additional year is a miracle ….. each day is a miracle.

It took a long time for the drink and pill obsession to leave me. I spent a lot of time white knuckling this sobriety thing. I believe all the difficulties and relapses taught me what I needed to know to become the person I am grateful to be today. Is life perfect? Definitely not! I do know today how to handle the things that used to baffle me. I have tools to help me navigate this life and all its challenges.

2020 has been a particularly challenging year with Covid, quarantine, all the political crap and social unrest along with my personal anxieties and issues. AA meetings are different. The world is different. My tribe in the AA fellowship have remained tried and true. I may not get to see them as often or give hugs, but there is still something special and unwavering about the fellowship.

I am happy and blessed regardless of the adversity and difficulties of this year.

December 2nd is just another sober day. It may be 6 years today, but it is just one day at a time …. 24 hours at a time.

Thanksgiving 2020 ūüćĀ

Thanksgiving looks a lot different this year due to Covid. Our Thanksgiving table will have 3 chairs instead of 14. We have zoomed with family members and have spent most of the day relaxing, watching TV and hopefully we will get a walk in.

I am happy to be with Steve and Kirsten. Allie is in Texas this year, but looking forward to her and Patrick coming home for a couple of weeks over the Christmas holiday.

We are all moved into our condo. A lot of our stuff is in the storage room and in the storage unit. It has been difficult to stuff everything from our big house into this smaller space. We have settled in the best we can amongst the clutter.

Our Thanksgiving dinner has been ordered from the neighborhood grocer. Turkey and all the trimmings. A lot of people I know are doing the same …. carry-out instead of cooking. It is just a weird and different kind of Thanksgiving.

I still have so much gratitude for what I have and the people I love. I am a blessed woman, I hope I will never take for granted all I have been giving. By the grace of God, I have my health, family, friends, home and sobriety in the midst of this crazy pandemic.

So even though Thanksgiving looks very different this year. I will count my blessings and I pray that you can find the gratitude I have.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Life and Death

Breast biopsy can back normal ….. what a great relief that was!!! My family Dr. was awesome and got the news to me bright and early via MyChart so it was great news to wake up to after a somewhat sleepless night.

I have to admit the procedure was not as bad as my imagination let me to believe it would be. The Dr and the tech who took the biopsy etc, were very kind and wonderful. I was a little sore, but really had no side effects. I am thinking that the procedure was more tolerable because of the drugs – I didn’t get my favorite (Xanax), but did get a prescription for Valium. 10 mg before the procedure and all was well. I still have one 5 mg tablet riding around in purse. What I will do with it, not sure. I am an addict – it is very difficult for me to just throw it out. But one pill will do nothing for me except ignite my craving. I am too far along in my sobriety journey to do something stupid.

I didn’t tell many, but didn’t really keep it a secret … I just don’t like people to worry about me (especially when it turns out to be nothing). But the prayers, care and concern by those who did know somewhat helped to calm my anxieties. Talking with my sponsor and my therapist were a tremendous help

It is crazy were your mind can go. Mine went to; I am not ready to die. This is interesting coming from someone who at one time wanted nothing more than to die. In my prayers, I found comfort and was ready for whatever the results of the test may be. I knew in my heart that I am not done here yet.

One the subject of addiction and death, one of the younger girls that has been attending our women’s meeting for the last month or so O’D on heroin. It is really sad. One of my dear friends was her sponsor and she is beside herself. Molly, was her name and she was supposed to get her 6 month token on the day she died. Addiction and alcoholism can be a fatal disease (as can breast cancer). It is cunning, baffling and powerful. I have been thinking of my own mortality with the biopsy and the death of Molly.

Life is fragile and I have learned we should not take it for granted and I hope that I never do.

Virtual Graduation

 

BCD29C23-E1FE-461E-A9FD-B2A2F76FC11F.JPGThis was supposed to be the postponed date for my daughters college graduation. Again we were supposed to be in Chicago this weekend celebrating this occasion with family and friends.   With the number of COVID cases rising it too, along with everything else was canceled.

It was a nice uneventful online ceremony.¬† ¬†The usual speakers.¬† ¬†The highlight was Loyola’s 101 year old Sister Jean speaking to the graduates.¬† ¬†She is an icon at Loyola, in Chicago and in the world of college basketball.¬† There were break out sessions for the different colleges at the university,¬† ¬†The whole thing took about an hour.

The graduates received a special graduation package to open during the ceremony.   It was a nice touch for an unprecedented situation.

I guess I shouldn’t complain, we had front row seats in the comfort of our own home.¬† I missed though all the pomp and circumstances and the celebrating as I am sure all the graduates did as well.

Kirsten and her friends have taken this all in stride.   It is not the graduation anyone wanted or planned.   Entering the next chapter has not been easy for these graduates.  Jobs are difficult to find in the midst of this pandemic.   In time I am sure everything will work out we just have to have a little more patience with the world right now.

Times are not ideal for many, I know a lot of people are struggling right now and have way bigger problems than a college graduation ceremony.  It puts things in perspective when you take the time to think of others who may not be as fortunate as we are at this time.

I know Kirsten will find the perfect job in God’s perfect timing.¬† She has a lot to offer and wants to save the world we live in for future generations.¬† ¬† I have faith that she can do it!

Go forth and set the world on fire Kirsten and fellow Ramblers!  Loyola University Chicago, Class of 2020.