Tuesday, November 24, 2009


Since it's Thanksgiving week, I guess this is the time to reflect on all that we are grateful for. I think I’ll approach the topic a little differently, and talk about some of the things that made me who I am and that make me feel special.

Although growing up in our household was challenging, causing some of us to go into therapy (yes we all have our neurosis), we have a remarkably close family. We grew up visiting my grandmother every Sunday, and had huge holiday gatherings replete with family tales of life during the depression. My mother taught us how to be independent. She made sure we would be able to take care of ourselves; we all know how to cook, we all keep a clean, fairly tidy house. She also made sure we could support ourselves. When we were kids, we used to sell produce from our garden to the neighbors. We would ride around on our bikes selling tomatoes, peppers and cucumbers. We were able to keep the money, which our parents put away in a bank account for us. We’ve all had good careers (3 of us being entrepreneurs) and major contributors to our households. We are all always there for each other.

I have had several good jobs with bosses that recognized my potential, gave me opportunity to learn and grow, and gave me friendships that will last forever. I count my time as a waitress for LaRosa’s Italian restaurant as one of those good jobs. Edith, the owner, our neighbor growing up, was a friend (and drinking buddy) and someone who listened without being critical, but she would tell you what she thought without mincing words. I worked there during high school, and again after I went out on my own and needed extra money to pay the rent, and then again when I left my first husband. One of the key lessons I learned there was, it doesn’t matter where you get the pasta – it’s only as good as the sauce!

My second real job, at Theodore Presser, the music publisher, introduced me to classical music; Debussy, Ravel, Wernick, Persichetti, and the Philadelphia Orchestra. A whole new world opened up to me. I was given a lot of responsibility in my job, and while there, made friends that I still have today. My job at Philadelphia Re brought me the world of art, philanthropy and travel. We went to galleries (I helped buy art for the office), the Museum, and the Orchestra. We talked about charities and who the company should support, and why. I was able to travel for work, learned about managing the office, property and contracts. The company sent me to Holland and we were able to take the time to explore Germany, Switzerland, Belgium, and France. I learned a bit about negotiating, how to deal with really difficult people and a lot about politics (the business kind).

My job at Philadelphia Re also introduced me to Thierry. A person so special in my life I can’t imagine having lived without him. He is smart, kind, funny, caring, soothing, handsome, has the greatest hands in the world, challenges my thinking (in a good way). He is easy - in that there is no drama – he knows lots about music (and books and boats and other stuff), is concerned about what I think and treats me like I have a brain and my opinion matters. When I fall asleep at night with my head on his shoulder I have a smile on my face, and we start everyday when we’re together the same way, with my head on his shoulder.

My daughter is pure joy mixed with a little angst (I still worry about her – like if I call her 3-4 times when I think she should be available – and she doesn’t answer or call back right away). It is such fun to watch her and Michael (her husband) laugh and joke at the dinner table – the new generation takes over.

It’s been a wonderful week, a wonderful life and a very good day!


Jack Ganssle said...

A beautiful post, Mary.

annod2 said...

Thanks for reminding me about growing up Italian! Those family dinners were the best! And we even got to drink Anisette. And you are right-- independence is a trait we all learned but also interdependence that keeps us close. I love you.