Chapter 2 Bringing Angela Home

Yes, Angela was really born with all that hair. No, she never lost any. Yes, I had a lot of heart burn, even if it is an old wive’s tale.

I loved those Laura Ashley dresses! They were cool and big enough for my expanding waist line!
Angela’s first bath

We brought Angela home and were settled in by July 24, her due date! No social media back then, so when my boss from Ann Taylor called to check on me I told her I was already back home with my little bundle of joy. I actually think she was annoyed, because she was a couple of weeks later when she delivered. I told them I wasn’t coming back to work. I had a better job now!

Becoming Parents

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Joe and I got back from our honeymoon, packed our cars, scheduled the movers and made our way to Gaithersburg MD. It was October 17, 1988 and we were starting our new lives together in the suburbs of Washington DC.  Joe was promoted to Sales Manager of NCR Comten in the Rockville MD office. I was able to transfer to the Ann Taylor store in Bethesda. We found a nice 2 bedroom apartment in Gaithersburg just a couple of miles from Joe’s office.

We traveled to Greensburg and Maple Heights for Thanksgiving. Shortly after our trip I realized I could be pregnant. I picked up a pregnancy test and one morning, I peed on the stick! I waited the 5 minutes and no line. I got a little choked up and showed the stick to Joe. After a minute or two, the line appeared. I was pregnant after all! I found an OB/GYN and then another OB/GYN from a co-worker who was, get this, a surrogate mother for a friend.

To celebrate, we went to 1789 in Georgetown. We kept looking at each other. We were going to be parents.

We bought a big Christmas tree even though we were going to be gone most of the holiday. Not sure how I got the time off from Ann Taylor, but I did! This is when we told our family I was expecting! We bought each mother a Christmas tree ornament that said “Merry Christmas Grandma.”

Work at Ann Taylor got tough. My manager left and I had to run the store. I was on my feet all day and exhausted. My Doctor pulled me from work the beginning of June  and we met the DePasquales in Wildwood for a few days. I had strict orders from Dr Felak to stay away from the boardwalk fries. ( I gained quite a bit of weight.) We enjoyed the beach, the boardwalk and even surprised my mom and went to the DePasquale family reunion the first Sunday in July.

Three days before my due date I started to have contractions. Our hospital was in Alexandria VA and we were living in Gaithersburg MD. Travel is the DC area is horrendous. And I didn’t want to have my baby on the Beltway. We went to hospital early (Thursday afternoon). Angela Rose was born on Friday, July 21 at 9:49 AM.  We met the Doctor in delivery. (Dr Felak was out of town) Dr Susan Ratner came into the delivery room with a can of Diet Coke. It was early in the morning; a carbonated beverage sounded disgusting. “You want me to be awake, don’t you?” She smiled.

Our beautiful Angela Rose came into the world with a quiet little cry. (hard to believe, isn’t it?) Alexandria Hospital was beautiful. They offered new parents a dinner in a room set up like a small restaurant. All the new moms wore their night gowns. I wore a dress, knowing I wouldn’t go on another date in a long time!

My mom, my brother Robert, and his wife Dawn came to see us. My mom said she wore a red dress, so that Angela would know she was her grandma!

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Farewell Northern Virginia

“So, who is having the big going away party for you?” Mary asked me back in January after the Arbonne party she hosted.

“Um, Kathy is!” I joked. She was the one standing closest to me. For some crazy reason, she said she would host it. Later that week, she sent me a note and said she was serious about hosting the party. And what a party she hosted.

Joe and I pulled up to Kathy’s house with directions to: Pittsburgh (where Peter lives) and Manhattan (where Christina lives) and Australia (where Angela lives) and Lakewood Ranch (where Joe and I will be living in early summer). Love the car and golf club sign holder!

party car

As we entered the door we were greeted with a WalMart basket filled with little luggage boxes of candy.  This was HYSTERICAL! Joe frequently shops at the big W, and one time, truly by accident, he took one of these baskets home. He then realized how handy the basket was and he continued to bring them home. I was appalled and actually returned 2 of them, and he was not happy about it. During one of my many visits to WalMart, I saw sensors attached to the baskets. I snapped a picture and sent it to Kathy. Clearly there were people stealing these baskets and WM had to put a stop to it! We had a good laugh about it.

walmart

When the night is through, please take one (or 2) home with you.

nuts party

We want you to know, we”ll go nuts without you.

miss you party

alligator

party 11

Mary, Kathy and Joanne

party 9

party 8

Donna Marie

party 7

Me and my “happy Tuesday” friend Margaret

party 6

party 5

party 4

party3

party 2

party 1

party 12

party 13

The food was plentiful and the drinks were flowing. Kathy planned some very fun games and activities. It was heart warming to see so many people take time out of their busy days to wish us farewell and good luck.

We’re the mighty, we’re the great

class of 1978We’re the class of ’78.

Last weekend 53 classmates and 20+ spouses/friends gathered at the Greensburg Country Club to celebrate, gasp!, our 40th high school reunion. I must have said, at some point during our 35th reunion, that I would be happy to help out in planning the next reunion.

I really didn’t do much, but offer moral support, and try to find a few lost classmates. Many emails flew back and forth as the committee tried to plan the event, with most of us being out of town, and one classmate even out of our time ZONE.

We enjoyed happy hour on Friday night,

happy hour

happy hour 2

a run around Central’s track on Saturday morning

trackSaturday night dinner and dancing and Sunday morning mass. (we had reserved seats for mass!)

Social media gives us the opportunity to see what’s going on in each other’s lives. People congratulated me on Peter’s new job with PPG and his upcoming move back to Pittsburgh. People asked about my running and I enjoyed hearing about their lives.

We all had different memories, some fuzzy, after all it’s been FORTY YEARS!!

“Weren’t you our valedictorian?” I asked Judy. “No” she frowned. She was #5, Mary Catherine was our valedictorian. Whoops!

“I was really stuck up.” Diane said. “I don’t remember that.” I disagreed. Diane and I were on the Centralite staff together. I always thought she was nice. And weren’t we all a little full of ourselves as teenagers?

I am sure Dave gave the middle finger in our big class picture and somebody on the yearbook staff had to blur it out. We zeroed in on the picture with our iPhones and couldn’t see what I believed was true all these years, but one yearbook staff member insisted she was the one who made the changes.

yearbook grad 1978

I insisted we take a “Greensburg Middle School” picture and said the words “Time in a Bottle” more times than I care to admit. Our theme for our 8th grade dance was that Jim Croce song. Marc said to me, as we gathered for this picture, I think we went to a dance together in 8th grade. Well, I only remember one event, but as I dug in my long term memory database, that maybe Marc and I danced to our theme song. Maybe.

I joked with Jean about being together in one scene in the grade school play. She went on to play Maria in Sound Of Music our Senior year. I was a nun, part of the chorus and made it because any Senior girl who tried out for the play got a part. One of the things I loved about Catholic school. Karen and I were best friends, having met through our mothers, who were also good friends. Lynne and I had some ridiculous adventures in high school and later at “the Hill” where I spent so much time the security guard thought I went to school there.

time in a bottle

 

The Year of Firsts

“This is my first birthday with my mother gone” I said to my friend Maureen after spin class.

“It’s the year of firsts” she said. “The first birthday, Thanksgiving, Christmas, everything, without your mother.”

 

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Aunt Tina, my mom’s sister, me and my mom July 2, 2015

Today it ended. One year ago today I spent the afternoon making pizza to share with a friend and her little girl. I pulled the pizza out of the oven when my brother called.

“I have bad news.” he said. “mom died this afternoon” My mom had dementia and was living in a beautiful senior living home in PA. She was sitting at the table waiting for supper. She started to sloop over, the care givers told us. They asked her to sit up. She was having trouble breathing.

“I am trying,” she answered them, always pleasant. Minutes later my father reached out, took my mother by the hand and pulled her into heaven to be with him. She was a few months away from her 88th birthday.

What do I do with this day? I started by going to mass. I read some of the cards that people sent and I remembered the gifts people gave us in her memory. I always brought her flowers when we visited. Maybe I’ll get some fresh flowers. Maybe I’ll make a pizza.

One thing I know I’ll do today. I’ll remember the love she gave me and my family. I’ll think of her reunited with my father. I’ll connect with my kids, whom my mother adored. And tonight I’ll think of the words she always said to me at bedtime.

 

 

Good night. God bless you. I love you Mom

Happy Work Anniversary

“Congratulate Donna on her 6 year anniversary with immixGroup,” the LinkedIn message read. My status on my relationship with immixGroup should probably read, “it’s complicated.”

In April 2003 I answered an ad with a small company, immixGroup,  seeking a Junior Recruiter. After spending several months sourcing for an independent recruiter, I applied on line. As luck would have it, my husband knew the hiring manager. He called me in for an interview. My luck grew when the manager realized we were both from Pittsburgh and even went to the same college. I got the job! I spent the next 18 months recruiting for our clients as well as a few internal openings. My first placement was 5 weeks from my start date. I was ecstatic! Contingency recruiting, however, is a numbers game. As someone who spent most of her time at home with her children, this was taking a toll on our family. I couldn’t stay late and make phone calls. I could only give 32 hours a week. I was missing my kids’ baseball games, and field trips.

I sat down with my husband, who was so very supportive when I decided to go back to work (after spending 12 years at home) He was now equally as encouraging when I told him I felt over whelmed. “I don’t feel like I am doing anything right.” I confided in him one night. “Then quit, if that’s what you want to do.” The next day I walked in and resigned. With tears in my eyes I sat with the HR Generalist and answered the questions for my exit interview.

A year later I met with Ron and Lisa, who ran a Retained Search firm. Ron was walking away from contingency business and if I was interested in joining him, he would give me 70% of the fee. Did I really hear him right? Seventy per cent? That’s unheard of in the industry. I jumped on it and spent the next few years recruiting for my own clients and occasionally working with someone Ron sent my way. It was a good deal, but after a few years, I was ready to start my own little LLC. I had several clients and did split agreements with immixGroup. It was exciting to be working with immixGroup again. Kurt, my old manager, mentored me and I became a stronger and more confident recruiter. Then Kurt left and I joined immixGroup full time, mainly working on our client’s hiring needs, and later internal openings. I learned that I really liked corporate recruiting.

A few years later it was announced that immixGroup was being purchased by Arrow Electronics. I knew what that meant for me. HR was handled out of the Denver office, and I would be out of a job soon. Time to move on! I joined what I thought was a very cool IT company as a technical recruiter. I researched the company on Glass Door (all bad) and called 2 acquaintances  that used to work there. Both of them told me not to take the job. But I needed to gain more experience as a technical recruiter. If I could last 7 months, the average span of their recruiters, at least I could add it to my resume. It was worse that I thought.

So I went back to immixGroup, for the third time, as a contract recruiter after only 2 months away. It truly felt like going home. The people are among the best I ever worked with. I’ve seen employees pull together for colleagues who are in need and I’ve seen some great collaboration. I was welcomed back with a warm embrace.  It was alway a good time to be with immixGroup, but even better now. We still have the small company feel, with a big company backing. I am personally benefitting from resources I didn’t have in the past. I love my job. I believe in the company, and their vision.

In January of this year I became an employee of Pontoon; my main contract is with immixgroup. So, although my Linkedin states I am an employee of immixGroup, an Arrow company, I am not. Arrow outsources their recruiting, a model that has become very popular and beneficial.  It’s complicated. But I couldn’t be happier on my work anniversary.

me and kurt

Me and Kurt, immixGroup picnic 2004

Anthony’s wedding

This is not my first wedding of a friend’s offspring. Yes, I’m at that age. I have friends that are grandparents, friends that have included me in their children’s nuptials. But neither of my friends were present yesterday. Both lost battles to cancer, one was taken over 10 years ago, the other only a couple years ago. One of them beat it the first time, succumbed to the disease the second round. The other was diagnosed and died in a very short time.

Is it cliche to say I felt like it was just days ago that we sat around their kitchen table, sharing some good food and even better stories? We were close friends. Tom gave my husband his first job in IT sales. He mentored and helped many people in his life time. He was a former Marine, an Engineer. He loved people and embraced life.

Debbie dedicated her life to her children and when they were grown, she pursued a career in counseling. She was self-less in her care and compassion for others. And although we missed them terribly at the wedding, we somehow felt their presence and love.

Anthony (and his brother John) are my Investment Advisors. When I talk to them now, it’s all business. How is my IRA doing? How much can I add to my SEP? But yesterday, I saw the casual Anthony, the one that laughs and jokes with his friends. The one with the charming personality. His hair is peppered with some gray, and he wears it well. Their love is heart warming and I wish them well. May their love and faith in God grow.

 

First Dance
High on Loving You