Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Parla come magni

“Speak the way you eat” or something to that effect, is something I pulled out of a book I am reading titled “Eat Pray Love” by Elizabeth Gilbert. At moments in the book I find nothing and everything in common with the author, whose journey through Italy, India and Indonesia puts her on a journey of self discovery and one might argue her path to loving God. I had a similar journey about 10 years ago, but most of it occurred within a 20 mile radius of Sacramento. So boring, and I doubt anyone would really want to read my memoir about it. I am convinced this Thanksgiving that life is simply a journey where we are required to eat, pray and love; in the process however, it would be nice to leave something worthwhile behind. Parla come magni, at the end of the day means “Keep it simple”.

Parla come magni…I remember a similar journey in the summer of 1983. My parents decided that the family should see Europe in a manner of weeks, much in the tenor of the film “Its Tuesday, it must be Belgium”. I have some great memories from that trip. Sometimes a moment becomes a mantra and there was one event in Holland that indelibly defined my family. We had exited the tour bus in Amsterdam and my mom wanted to see the home of Anne Frank. The rest of us were hungry and disoriented after standing in front of Rembrandt’s famed ‘Nightwatch’. Mom was irritable and probably LBS (low blood sugar)…so she took off in a fit. Being a woman who is perimenopausal, I thought my mom was nuts back then (little did I know at age 20). Realizing that we should all probably follow her, we all sort of stepped into the pace, except we did it in single file, sort of spontaneously. Mom, Terry, Tricia, Dad and Me all walking single file down the street…when suddenly to break up the tension, Dad started to quack. Like a duck. “Quack..quack…quack…” with each alternating step we took, looking ridiculously American in the process, the spectacle of it became quite funny. I think at one point Mom couldn’t be mad any more. We were all laughing hysterically. It stuck. In later years, when Pop walked us all down the aisle at our weddings, he quacked. Whenever we found ourselves in line anywhere, the quacking would intuitively start. We were forever known as the duck family. We’ve added a lot of ducks since then and everyone has been initiated. Yeah, it’s a weird family thing. Families can be that way.

I am thankful for a life where eating, praying and loving is part of the recipe of my family. This thanksgiving, give thanks for the good times, the bad and all the in-betweens. My own family, that being JD, Shannon, Conor & Birdy have sort of followed me, lock, stock and barrel through some hair brained ideas, absolute demands and long term commitments. Whether it was whether or not, we were going to continue homeschooling, where we would go on vacation, go to Mass on Sundays or eat dinner, they always went along with the Mama Duck. When I took time off to take care of Pop and as I start my year long nursing program this January, the kids have always honored and stepped into pace with the disruptions in their lives. I asked Shannon to take on some major responsibilities now that she is all grown up, and she has complied with each request, without too much quacking and Birdy and Conor have done the same. I guess I am the luckiest mother duck on earth. No one complains much. I guess the duck family was born, long before Amsterdam 1983 somewhere in the genes of some Irish people with a sense of humor, or some Italians too mad to come to blows.

J.D. is willing to support his crazy wife who wants to be a nurse and has always been there to walk beside me in this journey of life, like a great spouse and best girlfriend. With a journey that involves simplicity, complexity and sometimes insanity, this Thanksgiving, I wish you joy in eating, praying and loving your family. It’s an insane and wonderful life. From my duck family to yours, Happy Thanksgiving!

Tammy Maher is a biweekly columnist for the Mountain Democrat. You can reach her on the web at www.familyfare.blogspot.com


Anonymous said...

Quack, quack! Happy Thanksgiving and thanks for sharing. What a sweet memory.

tom mcgowan said...

Gobble, gobble and Happy Quackie Quack, quack.
Happy News to you!