Thursday, October 19, 2006

So you wanna marry my sister?

Published October 19, 2006

Michael- I heard through the grapevine that you want to marry my sister. There are a few things that I think you need to know before you ask her. Not that you asked me, but hey, you know this family, we have our noses in everything.

Tricia came into the world not waiting for anyone to deliver her. She wasn’t waiting for our mother, and she wasn’t waiting for any doctor, no, not her. She arrived on her own terms and made quite the entrance. So expect a lot of drama and adventure in your marriage. Not the bad kind, but the spontaneous kind. For instance…”Honey, I booked us this nice little adventure in the outback and we’re leaving tomorrow morning”, or “Merry Christmas, we are all going hiking in Tibet!” I know there is some crazy Southern European blood coursing through her veins, which is probably why she ended up with the mysterious brown eyes and great hair, so you have one wild woman on your hands, but let me tell you something, she’s all heart. If she loves you, it’ll be forever. So guard that heart with your life. We know where you live.

Some pointers, not that you need them… but make sure you take the lead in this relationship. You’ll want to be romantic because she is very romantic. Her happiness is in being with you and making a life with you. Be thoughtful because she is very thoughtful. Take care of her, because she cares so much for you. One of the things I most admire about you is that you have put God first in your relationship with my sister. That will sustain you both through the years as you build your life together. So in that regard, you are out of the ballpark. Good job.

It might be none of my bees wax, but when you ask her to marry you, be sentimental about it. She’ll love it, plus it garners all kinds of extra points with us. You see Michael, when you make our sister happy, you make the whole family happy…I’m not trying to go all Corleoni on you, but we’re watching you. Make that marriage proposal worth talking about at Christmas, because we’re all tired of talking about the Europe trip of ’83.

For the record, when you marry my sister, we’re family…blood and guts…until the end, which means that if we show up at the delivery room with the video camera and pizza, don’t be too offended. We’re pretty loud and we like a good party. We’re usually around for holidays, baptisms, weddings and funerals. We’re pretty good about potlucks, and we’re big on dessert. When it comes to the valleys of life, we’ll worry about you if you get sick and one or more of us will be on the internet trying to figure out the best course of treatment for you. If something really bad happens, we’re usually on our knees praying, and don’t be too alarmed as we tend to cry.

As you probably already know, my sister is eclectic. She loves nostalgia, old music, great coffee, fine wines, lazy days, good books, being in, near or close to the water, new projects, and shopping (ugh….sorry). She has great taste, great ideas, and a twisted sense of humor. She can be very opinionated. She’ll contribute more than she expects from your relationship, so try to keep up with her. She tends to pour herself out, so remember to fill her up frequently by stopping at Starbucks.

Most importantly, my sister loves you and your girls more than life itself. One thing I’ve learned about the women in my family through the years is that we don’t go down without a fight and we’d pretty much throw ourselves in front of a train if we knew it would save the family, so in case you were wondering, there’s no divorce in the family dictionary, just death. Finders-keepers buddy.

She’ll stand by you for your whole life, she’ll fill your house with joy and laughter and then she’ll redecorate. Be prepared for adventures in fine dining and weird films. She’ll make sure your children are well rounded in their education because she values education as much as she values family. She’ll grow with you in faith and as you grow old together, you will grow deeper in love because like you, she appreciates what she has found and she will treasure your marriage and your family.

Lastly, if you eat her ice cream or her chocolate, be very contrite or beware. Ok, Michael, now that know all of this, yes, you can marry my sister.

Tammy Maher is a resident of El Dorado Hills and bi-weekly columnist for the Mountain Democrat. You can reach her by email at or on the web at

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Aunt Carol, the Proverbs 31:10 Woman

Published October 5, 2006
Aunt Carol, a Proverbs 31:10 woman

(Who shall find a valiant woman? Far and from the uttermost coasts is the price of her). That woman was 62 years young, born in Hatfield, PA, raised in Bloomfield, New Jersey and lived her life in the Jersey Shore area of Manasquan and Wall Township. The testament to her life are her three sons and daughters-in law, three grandchildren and loving husband of 42 years, all whom adored her, the valiant woman, whom I called Aunt Carol. She was so easy to love because she loved greatly. She was the proverbial, Proverbs 31:10 woman.

My Aunt, Carol Ann Megill, passed away September 10. It came as a complete surprise to me because she preferred to keep her suffering private. Over the last year, while going through chemotherapy for an aggressive form of cancer that had metastasized to her liver, she continued to work at her grandsons’ preschool; a job she held for the last 16 years. She started a weekly correspondence with me by email, giving me family updates about the pending wedding of her youngest son, Tom and his bride Natali. These weekly emails included news about the grandkids and always asking after us, how we were doing; never hinting at her health crisis. In a bittersweet twist of fate that only God understands, Aunt Carol left the world six days before the wedding. She was so happy for them. Every reminder of her on the day of the wedding brought tears to my eyes.

(The heart of her husband trusteth in her; and he shall have no need of spoils). Aunt Carol looked after Uncle Earl with a warm home, loving smile and good cooking. She loved broadly and deeply. When it came to her life, it could not be measured by its length, but the width of her love to her family and friends. She completely poured herself out to others, taking care of her own family and her mother who passed away in January 2005. When over 400 people showed up to the funeral, coming out from all layers of her life, one only had to notice what an impact she made on others. I’ve seen Aunt Carol twice in the last three years, once in 2004 and then in 2005 when I returned for my grandmother’s funeral. I noticed that my Aunt, a beautiful woman, became even more beautiful over the last two years of her life. Cancer may have robbed her of her life, but the beauty of her soul manifested completely in her physical appearance. She was truly a beautiful soul. As she became more incapacitated, she armored herself for a battle to win, mostly to make it to Tom’s wedding, but also to watch her grandchildren grow up. My uncle says she never uttered a single complaint. She worked every day, helped plan the wedding and then developed a sudden and severe blood infection, which ultimately cost her life September 10.

(Strength and beauty are her clothing and she shall laugh in the latter day. She hath opened her mouth to wisdom and the law of clemency is on her tongue). One of the things I most loved about Aunt Carol was her ability to forgive the faults of others, see only the good in most people, and leave them where they were at, without judgment or harshly reproach. When she smiled, her eyes smiled too. Her home was always open to friends and family. One only needs to know my cousins, Doug, Dan and Tom, to know what an incredible mother she was to her sons. My cousins married loving women, obviously based on the loving example of marriage they had in their parents, a compliment to the love they received from their mother. Her daughters in law were her daughters and they were loved by a mother, not a mother-in-law.

The greatest love of her life was her only love. My Uncle Earl held up his entire family the week of the funeral and the wedding, just the way his wife would have wanted him to. He managed to be a gracious host, a wonderful father, Pop-Pop, uncle, brother-in-law and friend to all who came to the wedding. Seeing him kiss her goodbye the day of the viewing broke my heart. I never could imagine one of them without the other. They brought out the best in each other.

(Her children rose up, and called her blessed: her husband, and he praised her). Saying goodbye to Aunt Carol is still something I am getting used to. I will miss her emails, her voice on the telephone, her cards at Christmas and birthdays, and her smile…that is something I hope I’ve inherited from her. I hope I can carry her spirit with me for the rest of my life. (Give her of the fruit of her hands: and let her works praise her in the gates.) The hole Aunt Carol has left in the world is huge since God has taken her back to Himself. I’ll never forget her.

Her last words before saying goodbye were always, “I love you”. Aunt Carol, I love you too.

Tammy Maher is a resident of El Dorado Hills and biweekly columnist for the Mountain Democrat. You can reach by email at or on the web at