Today, I share with you a
very precious gift in my life.
Cia at the Volcanoes National Park, Island of
After conducting Em's
one-year review, yesterday, Cia and I hurried off to have a quick lunch. I love having
lunch with Cia. We always have so much to talk about;
sometimes, I have
to remind myself to eat!
We went to the Pho Restaurant in the
center next door. I love Vietnamese food. Flavorful, healthy
eating with mounds of fresh vegetables and spare quantities of meat. The
prices are affordably right.
Having particularly enjoyed
our time together, I thought I'd put my feelings for Cia into words.
and I work together, but
we are more than co-workers. We are friends. Bright and sensitive, with lots of grit, she is
a most interesting friend. I am not big on girly things, frou-frou activities, and
idle chit-chat. With rare exceptions, my best buddies, past and present, are
this regard, Cia is an exceptional best buddy: a woman friend.
As work colleagues, we are
each other's sounding boards. Liking and respecting each other over the
years, we are increasingly more accepting of our differences,
foibles, weaknesses and imperfections. We can be very human with
each other, recognizing, for all our similarities, we are
individuals. We don't agree on everything, and yes, we've had our
Being honest with our
emotions is at the core of our relationship. The opposite of love, it is
said, is not hate, but indifference. We are far from indifferent
with each other, and so we tackle the turbulence as it arises, and the
Overall, we get along, as it
is our basic nature to be peaceful. We realize, however, that the
price of peace is having to deal with the occasional emotional upheaval.
We deal with it. No one will accuse us of being emotionally constipated.
I value her
opinions and thoughts; we bounce ideas off each other, problem-solve and
make decisions together. We are a classic case of "Two minds, two
hearts are better
than one.". By
helping each other be the best that we can be, we in turn help our
co-workers and those we serve to be the best they can be.
A big part of our jobs is
upholding and maintaining the high standards and ethics of our office. We like and
expect things to get done right and efficiently. Taking our
commitment to service and quality care to heart, and we lead with iron
fists in velvet gloves. In other words, we are not
pushovers, but we're not bitch-bosses, either.
Neither of us subscribe to the
"Not My Job" work mentality. As activists rather
than fatalists, if we don't know, we take the initiative to find out. "It's Everybody's Job"
rings true. We pitch in;
we help out. Unafraid
to get our hands dirty or go the extra mile, no task is below us.
We don't seem to do well with those who are of the wishy-washy,
passionless, and uncommitted persuasion.
Blessed with high EQs,
we seem to share the unique ability to create love and friendship.
We work hard; we work smart with our hearts, minds and
savvy, not egos.
Just as we work hard, we
play hard. Fun and playfulness come easily for us. We were at our
playful best when we kayaked and played with dolphins in the wild in Hawai`i.
We are copacetic. (Cia
taught me that word)
How does this happen?
Pretty simple. Although we are insanely busy people, we prioritize
and make the effort and time -- and take the risk -- to come
together and speak
openly and freely, especially when fences require occasional mending.
These days, our communication lines are so open and direct, we don't hesitate letting
the other know if "there's a bat in the left cave", albeit discreetly.
If you don't know what that coded sentence means, think: booger, left
We giggle, as we reach for a tissue.
It's been an honest
relationship from the
get-go. When I least expected it, Cia's openness, dimpled smile, and
hearty laugh came into my life. Although we'd never met, I felt as
if I was meeting a long-absent friend. At the time, I was at a
crossroads, determined to leave the office and start life anew. That was a few years
ago. I stayed. Out of choice. And Cia has a lot to do with
At the outset, over lunch, she
shared her handicap with me. It took me by surprise, as I had not noticed. I
pay attention to eyes, and what's behind them. Playing "close to
the vest" is not her style, and she was
putting "all of her cards on the table". If her handicap
was a turn-off for me, she was not going to waste my time or hers.
wasn't. How could it? Although she had no way of knowing
then, by the grace of God, so went
I did wonder
how she was going to handle some of her job duties, some requiring
intricate, precision- demanding skills. Anticipating
my practical concerns, she gave me very specific examples of how she had
worked around and overcome
her handicap at her previous job, and that she was determined to do the
same at this one. As we
talked, I could see -- in her eyes -- that Cia possessed a
rare inner strength, accompanied by a tough resilience. These
gifts are not granted to those who cruise through
life on Easy Street.
Dealing with my handicap
and experiencing its setbacks and embarassments, I knew, first-hand,
what she'd been through, especially as a child. Having experienced the
taunting ... the teasing ... the whispers ... the giggles ... the ee-yeeeuws, I knew how people,
young and old, can be put off if the packaging is less than perfect.
Unknown to her, it was her disclosure
about her handicap that cinched our relationship. I was
immediately drawn to her. After years of intense therapy and personal
maintenance, which is an ongoing constant in my life, my handicap is not
easily discernible, except by experts in the field. I've moved on, and I
do not dwell on it, discussing it with only a handful. Cia did not learn
of my handicap until years later.
I discovered, when it came
to handicaps, we shared the same mindset. No getting around it.
Handicaps makes for a more challenging life, period. But it's HOW you
deal with them that matters.
The road of
bitterness, anger and self-pity is an easy route for the handicapped to
take, but it is a deadend. Yet, if the handicapped can rise above the
pettiness, thoughtlessnesses and unkindnesses -- and choose to take the high road, handicaps
miraculously become gifts. Learning to cope, dealing with obstacles, and
best of challenging situations work together to create stronger, more resourceful human beings.
Besides, I'm a big supporter
of society's underdogs, knowing that underdogs are often top dogs in disguise.
Not surprising, we became co-workers.
Over the years, my
admiration for Cia continues to grow. Her maturity is beyond her
years, and she possesses a commitment to a productive life that runs
Her life is her
message. Every day, by her actions, she creates a high quality,
productive, and giving life. I have since learned that she was
lovingly mothered by an artistic, free-spirited mother, who had
transitioned early on. Cia was generously gifted with her love,
and as a result, Cia's cup of human kindness
was filled to the brim and, these days, is overflowing.
A nurturing person, perhaps
like her mother, Cia loves and cares for her family in an intense way that we from Hawai`i
to her father, her brother, her sisters and her nieces and
nephews, and most recently, a grand nephew, she is clearly the matriarch
of her extended family. She's there for them.
For them and for us at the
office, Cia is The Glue. The Mortar. The Stable Force.
By consciously streaming similarities, I
see that in myriad ways, Cia and I are, as Homer said, ""Two friends, two bodies, one
soul". We are:
middle sisters of three;
one brother; divorced parents, who were good people who had enough
love to procreate four children, but not enough for each other to make their marriage
granddaughters of ahead-of-their-times,
entrepreneurial grandmothers, who greatly influenced our lives by serving as
significant role models
Their legacy to the world: us, two strong, independent women who are
making a positive difference in the world.
happily married to smart,
Guys in white hats, knights in shining armor, and doting husbands,
all wrapped up in one, are exCiadingly rare, and we're holding on to
ours tightly and with great appreciation.
significant Aunties to our nieces and
Cia's a new Tia Abuella. A great aunt. We have
embellished our roles as aunts; we are caregivers, school supply
providers, shoulders to
cry on, softies, and all-purpose safety nets.
gifted with handicaps
"I asked God to make my handicapped child whole. And God said "No." He said her spirit is whole, her body is
gifted with an innate
confidence and fortitude that come from A Place of Love
platter? What silver platter? No one's ever handed us
anything on a silver platter. No thanks, anyway. We earn our keep, pay our way, and create
our own opportunities.
a passion for books, Borders, Barnes and Nobles bookstores are our favorite shopping
haunts and Amazon.com gets our
enthusiastic cyber-nod. We enjoy sitting on the swing on the
front porch reading until the day's last light is gone.
similar in clothing
Simple. No frills. Appropriate. Comfortable.
appreciators of art, who
actually enjoy browsing through musty museums, taking in historical tidbits
We ride like the wind. With the wind. We are the wind.
lovers of Israel
lovers of Hawai`i
My father's illness limited our discretionary funds, and we were not
able to accompany Cia and Doni to Kaua`i, Hawai`i .This was Cia's first trip
Implicitly, the trip was intended to help them better understand the office's
philosophy, as well as its decisions and motivations, all based on
force, The Aloha Spirit.
The following year, Doni, DH, Cia and I traveled to the
island of Hawai`i to a house called Oceansong. We loved showing them around our home
island, and we did
things people think about doing, but never do. Cia looks like she's from Hawai`i,
and she fit right in. With a little bit of loud chanting to
get their attention, the dolphins showed up within
minutes to welcome her.
Cia has fallen in love with our homeland. She's been back
three more times -- to O`ahu and Maui, twice -- with her
sister. In three years, she's been to Hawai`i five
She's Hawaiian-at-heart, full of Aloha.
foodies who love carbos
But carbos don't love us. Diet is a big part of our vocab.
It doesn't, however, stop us from having our cream of wheat hot cereal with raisins and honey, chicken salad,
buffalo wings, breakfasts for lunch, fresh fruit, and an occasional
slice of luscious pie.
gardeners, who go gaga over flowering plants and herbs
fond of similar
kinds of people; we especially adore our co-worker, Doni
Most of all, we dote on our
furkids. Along with our husbands, they are our reasons for living. We can
prattle on and on
about our canine kids, just as proud parents do, without any self-consciousness
or apologies, whatsoever.
When she lost her Buster, I
grieved deeply with her; when I was shattered by Lucky's death and couldn't talk about it
for a long, long time, Cia was there for me. We
understood the enormity of each other's loss, as only true doglovers can.
We knew what the other was going through, and that empathy was
Not having my sisters close
by, I am constantly missing them. For this reason, I especially appreciate
Cia, as she is the kind of person I'd love to have as a
sister. In many ways, I regard her as one. I love her
I especially love her sisterly
hugs, whenever we part. We hug with our whole being, as soul
The Day's Miscellany
Cia mentioned Doni has a new hair look. Personally, I like his
hair, so I was curious and when I got back, I took a good look.
Well, it's just more brownish-red. Very natural, his new look
Soon, I, too, will be "on the
bottle" -- the Clairol bottle, as there are more and more silver threads
among the black. Doni, I trust, will give me a few pointers when it
Sometimes we forget to look at those we
see regularly. Looks sometimes seem so inconsequential when it
comes to true friends. Really looking at Doni, I realized that he is
a very, very handsome man.
Doni and Cia, what a pair. I love
Good friends, Ruth Verde and Gail Winnows,
just got back
from an extended trip to Hawai`i; they were in Kona on 9-11-01. The
flights were grounded. Being stranded was no problem. Their many
friends, made over the years of visiting Hawai`i, offered up their
homes. Hawaiian hospitality is alive and well.
Marie Shettuck, an artist and a indefatigable positive
thinker and lover of life, told me that she and her husband will soon be
on their way to Maui and Hawai`i. They were NOT going to let
terrorism win. They were NOT going to be fearful.
When on the Island of Hawai`i, they'll be visiting Vernon's
recently widowed mom in Waimea. A very Marie thing to do. Like Sharon,
our mutual friend, Marie has a beautiful soul that radiates goodness and
When Marie mentioned that this was going
to be a leisurely trip, I suggested swimming
with the spinner dolphins in the bay as DH, Cia and I had done last year.
The Hawaiian Spinner dolphins and Marie
will thoroughly enjoy each
The Michael Certer Family came to visit,
that is, Michael and the boys:
curly-haired Matt (12), who gets his
homework done ahead of time and love sports
gorgeous eyes Joshua,
9, who wants to be a pastor like Dad or professional baseball catcher
(6), who wants to be
a soldier or a police officer. He made sure his baby brother got
a prize out of the toy chest for good children.
Over the last 18 years, I've help to care
for three generations of this family. We went to Michael's and Sandy's
wedding, one of the most elegant and family-oriented affairs ever. It is
gratifying to see their family flourishing.
BJ Bettertin, next door, filled in Mom
Certer's spot. BJ and her officemates have been good
almost 20 years. Couldn't ask for better neighbors. Or
landlords like the Christiansens. We have been greatly blessed.
I think of every person who comes to us is a gift. I
really mean that.
Even the rare, misunderstood hedgehog like Elona.