Saturday, December 14, 2013

The Album Cover

When I was about 8, I came across a picture I drew as a younger child.  I don't remember at what age I drew the picture, but I was quite amazed by it.  My eight year old self was quite impressed.  It was a picture of the album cover of The Sound of Music. 

My parents used to play the record and I would listen to it.  I suppose at some point I picked up a pencil and paper and I began to draw.  I don't remember how old I was, nor do I even remember drawing the picture but it was evident that I tried to recreate the album cover.  As you can see, Maria was the focus of the picture on the album.  I drew her the same way, with a guitar in one hand, a bag in the other, and a billowing skirt as she made her way over a mountain of green.  I drew the seven children and the Captain as stick figures, partly because I couldn't draw them, and partly because they weren't as important to me as Maria was.  Then, just as on the album cover, I wrote "The Sound of Music" in my childish, undeveloped handwriting.  It was a great picture.  I wish I had kept it.

As far back as I could remember, I always knew the songs from the album.  I remember my father singing Edelweiss in his deep baritone.  I knew all the lyrics to the songs sung by children.  I didn't really think of the songs beyond what they were, just songs.  I had no idea of the correlation between the songs and the album cover.  Then, the summer I turned six, the movie was released in India.  Back in those days, it took quite a few years for an American movie to make it to the other side of the world.  My parents sent me to watch the movie with my older brother.  I had been to the movies before, but I don't remember them ever holding my interest.  I had to sit still and quietly through them, and it was a lot to ask of a six year old.  But this was different.  This was The Sound of Music.  I watched the movie.  That's when everything fell into place.  I began to understand what the songs had to do with the album cover that I used to love to draw.  That was my light-bulb moment, if ever there was one.

I settled into my seat in the movie theater.  As the familiar overture played over a picturesque view of the camera panning over rolling green hills, a speck appeared on the screen.  David leaned over to me.  "That's Maria."  I watched, breathless, as she twirled around and burst into song.  "The hills are alive with the sound of music, with songs they have sung for a thousand years."  I began to hum along.  David shushed me.  Even though I was just six years old, I knew I was watching something special.  The songs I had known forever took on a whole new perspective when paired with a visual to add meaning to it.  I settled in for what I remember as the best three hours of my life (or at least, that's how long it seemed).  The movie went on.  "Maria", or as I used to call it, "How Do You Solve  Problem".  "I Have Confidence". 

Then, just as Maria met her charges for the first time,  I was introduced to the children.  I didn't remember their names, but it didn't matter.  Being a child myself, I could so relate to them, especially the younger of the seven.  I remember the youngest, Gretl.  She was adorable!  Cute as a button, and 5 years old, which she indicated by holding her hand up, with all five fingers in display.  

I got deeper into the movie as time went by.  I just loved when Maria sang,"My Favorite Things" during a thunderstorm.  I watched as she took them to a picnic and taught them to sing, "Do Re Mi."  Although I didn't quite understand it back then, I remember being happy for the children when their father had a change of heart and sang with them.  I remember the actor I now know as Christopher Plummer, singing the song Edelweiss. I remember thinking that he didn't sound quite so good as my father.  And so it went.  I don't know if it was because I knew every song or if it was watching the songs come alive with the movie, or if it just was the fact that I was now old enough to appreciate a good movie, but I know that the whole experience had a profound effect on me.  I wanted to watch it again and I did that summer.  I had never watched a movie more than once before.

Fast forward to four years later and the movie was released again.  This time my parents took my younger brother and I to watch it.  I watched the rolling hills once again, and the little speck of a person amid all that green.  I leaned over to my younger brother Jonathan.  "That's Maria," I told him, just as David had told me.  I noticed a lot more this time around of watching the movie.  I understood better what the song, "Sixteen Going on Seventeen" was all about.  The romance that developed with Maria and the Captain was not something I really thought about when I was six.  I definitely took notice this time.  I thought it was awesome when they married each other.  

As the years went by, I watched the movie again and again.  No matter how many times I watched it, those rolling hills and the speck of a person at the beginning of the movie gave me the chills.  Each time, it took me back to when I was six.  Every subsequent viewing of the movie came with new realizations.  Songs to which I didn't pay much attention began to make sense.  The title song, "The Sound of Music", used to be kind of boring when I was six.  It was just a whole lot of big words with a melancholy tune back then.  So was "Climb Every Mountain".  But when I heard these songs through the ears a girl who had grown up, the words were so profound, empowering and filled with promise.  I could really appreciate the genius that was the music of Rogers and Hammerstein.  

The timelessness of the story and the songs are what make The Sound of Music pure magic.  The movie is now two years shy of its 50th birthday.  

That is why I balked at the mere thought of a remake.  Why try to mess around with something so perfect?

Just as I thought, the remake for television was a horrible idea.  Nobody, but nobody could take the place of Julie Andrews' Maria.  Not even Carrie Underwood, a singer who I actually really like and admire.  None of the actors, not even the children, were good.  The whole project seemed to be a mockery of the original.  I just about tolerated five minutes of it, after which I could not watch anymore.

When I was a child, I used to draw a picture of the album cover.  Come to think of it, it is quite possible that I drew it after watching the movie for the first time. Maria was the focus of the picture.  As I said before,  I used to draw her with a guitar in one hand, a bag in the other, with a billowing skirt as she made her way over the mountains.  I drew her in great detail.  Nobody was as important in the drawing as Julie Andrews as Maria.

I cannot begin to fathom ever wanting to draw a Carrie Underwood Maria.

Saturday, November 9, 2013

One Moment In Time

Last week, I opened my e-mail to find the above picture sent to me by my uncle. I was beyond overjoyed to see it.

The first time I saw this photograph was when I was in Chennai earlier this year. My cousin, with whom I had stayed, had a copy of it.  I examined it and realized the significance of so many things this picture represented.  So many faces, so many stories.  The faces of those who are still alive are much older now, but yet they somehow are the same.  

This picture would tell a different story to each person who looked at it.  Here is the story it tells me.

First, the facts.  My maternal grandparents are in the center, the core if you will.  

Seven of their ten children are in this picture with them.  The oldest three of their children were unable to make it to this family reunion of sorts.  

Six of their nineteen grandchildren are present.  There was a seventh grandchild at this occasion, but for some reason wasn't present for the picture.  The youngest three grandchildren weren't born yet. 

Three of their six sons-in-law and one of their four daughters-in-law are in this picture.  The photographer was another one of their sons in law.

All three of the children in this picture are now parents.

In addition to my grandparents, there are two people in this picture who are no longer with us.

One of the reason that this picture means so much to me is that it signifies the ties that bind my extended family together.  When we were younger, we lived in a different state from the rest of our family.  We were very isolated from them, but we somehow got together during summer.  And when we did, we had a BLAST.  Our parents, who were siblings, would just sit around and talk.  We cousins would get together and play, squabble, walk to the store and have ice cream and soft drinks.  Now that we've all grown up, we still reminisce about those summer days and how much fun we had.

This also was the first time ever that the members of my immediate family was photographed together.  I am not sure why, but we never owned a camera, and taking pictures was never very important to my parents.  Granted, we did have our pictures taken on occasion, like prior to our head being shaved bald of the hair we were born with.  This was a tradition in India, which quite possibly had some religious significance.  Other than that, I think there was one more visit to a photo studio to take a set of pictures of my brothers and me. 

Even though this picture goes back to when I was fourteen, I remember this occasion very well.  My family and I flew down to Chennai to attend my aunt's wedding.  Upon landing, we discovered that the suitcase that had my Mom's and my clothes in it was lost in transit.  This meant that we had nothing to wear for the wedding.  Mom was the same size as most of the women at the wedding, so she could easily borrow a blouse and saree.  Although we were told by the airline company that our suitcase would arrive the next day, nobody wanted to take any chances.  They had to decide what I should wear.  Due to the lack of time, a very hurried decision was made that I would also wear a saree.  The only thing that would need to be done then was to get a blouse sewed, which didn't take much time.  

One thing you have to understand is that wearing a saree for the first time is a huge deal for a girl.  It was something I was totally not prepared for. So it was a huge surprise and I was so excited!  I didn't know if I would be able to walk without stepping on it and having it come apart.  But that was just a fleeting thought.  I was going to wear a saree!  That evening we went to get my blouse sewed.  

The next day the missing suitcase arrived.

My mother changed her mind and suggested I wear the salwar kurtha that we had brought for me to wear to the wedding.  I was so disappointed.  My parents were very strict and their word was the law. But I wanted so badly to wear a saree.  After I had come so close to being able to do so, I couldn't believe it was not going to happen.  I didn't know what to do, but I thought about it and decided to ask them if I could still go ahead and wear the saree anyway.  My reasoning was that with so many people around I might not get in trouble.  Still, part of me was petrified even to broach the subject.  I began to imagine how much more disappointed I would be if I asked them and they said no.  But something inside made me ask.  

I went to my mother and whispered in her ear, "I still want to wear the saree.  Could I?"

"I'll ask your father and let you know what he says," she told me.  My mother must have realized what it meant to me.  

I breathed a sigh of relief.  The world did not end, bad things that I had imagined would happen didn't happen.  At least I didn't hear a flat-out "No".  There was still hope.

Later on, my mother came to me.  "You can wear the saree for the wedding," she said, "Wear the salwar kurtha for the ceremony in the morning."  I could hardly believe what I was hearing.  Really?  I wanted somebody to pinch me because I was sure I was dreaming!

But that's not all.  After the ceremony that morning, my aunts decided that the women would go get their hair done for the wedding.  They decided to take my cousin and me with them.

I nearly passed out from the excitement.  I had never had my hair done before.  

Off we went to the hairdresser.  There was a lot of brushing and curling and hairspray and pinning.  I was given an up-do which added years to my actual age but made me feel so grown up.  

And when the saree was draped on me and a necklace put around my neck, I looked and felt like I was a princess.

I was an awkward and gawky teenager, but for the first time in a long time, I felt beautiful.

When I walked in the room all dressed up, there was a collective roar, followed by squeals of laughter from everyone.  I felt self-conscious and shy, but happy at the same time.  My parents, aunts and uncles gave me a difficult time about me getting ready to be the next to walk down the aisle, but it was all in fun.  

Even though that day was all about my aunt, it was like an enchanted evening for me.

It is no wonder then, that I'm all smiles in this picture.

Saturday, October 12, 2013

The Journey Continues

About a week ago, this article showed up on my Facebook page for the second time.  Curious, I opened it up and was quite thrilled to read it.  In the past I have posted blogs about finding happiness through gratitude. As I have said before, it has taken many conscious decisions to make it here, and the journey is far from over. In fact I think the journey needs to continue as long as I'm here.  The start of my journey began with taking a look into myself and "what made me tick", in a manner of speaking.  I didn't read a how-to book or article.  I just knew what I wanted, and I knew that I would guide myself through the journey.  So it was really heartening to receive affirmation that I was doing something right.  I have made small changes to my life that helped with the bigger changes.  I am much happier, more content and at peace with myself than I have ever been.  Once again, let me just say that I am nowhere near perfect, but I'm in a much better place than I was a few years ago.  That is the whole point.  Change takes time.

 Please indulge me as I share my journey with you.  


A random act of kindness goes a long way.  You may never know how your kindness affects others, but it gets paid forward more often than not.  Here is an example of a selfless act that was paid forward at least seven times, that I experienced while ordering coffee at a drive-through window.

A customer ahead of me in the drive-through asked the barista to put on their tab the order placed by the next car in line. The next car was so moved that they did the same for the car behind them, and so on. The barista herself was so taken aback, she had tears in her eyes and a lump in her throat as she told me of the kindness of the customers ahead of me. Can you imagine what it feels like to drive up to order coffee and to hear that someone you don't know had already picked up your tab? Of course, I was so elated by the fact, that I very willingly paid it forward.

I do know that not all of us can afford this type of random act, especially if you don't know how many people are in the next car or how much it is going to cost. But I have realized that any little thing I do for someone else can give me a good feeling.  When I'm in a check-out line at the grocery store and someone behind me has just one or two items, I let them go ahead of me.  How much of a difference is it really going to make if I had to wait a couple of minutes longer?  I also make it a point to be kind to mothers of young children.  Also, since I grew up in a culture that respects the elderly, I continue to extend that value in my life.


I wake up as early on weekends during summer as I do on weekdays.  In the silence of the morning, I relax with a cup of coffee on the deck of our apartment.  I listen to the birds chirp as the sun makes its way up in the sky.  I breathe in the fresh air and savor the peace and solitude. Then around 9:30 a.m., I pick up JackJack's leash.  He goes crazy from the anticipation of what is going to happen next.  We get into the car and drive 2 exits west on the freeway, to the off-leash dog park.  JackJack whines with excitement all the way there.  Once we are at our destination, it's all he can to from totally losing it.  I put his yellow soccer ball into his mouth to minimize the whining.  We make our way to the off-leash section of the park and to the lake.  I throw the ball as far into the water as I can, and he swims in to retrieve it.  We do this for hours.  I just cannot describe how it feels to be by a lake, with the natural beauty of trees and hills around me, and to see JackJack enjoy himself so much in this environment.  The best part of it all is that it doesn't cost me a dime!  

I seek other ways to pep up my day.   I love to cook, but through the years I stopped cooking as much as I used to.  I don't know if I allowed myself to be influenced by those who believe that cooking is a chore that one could do without.  However, once I really thought about it I began to realize that it was something that I thoroughly enjoyed.  There was something about the ritual, or maybe it was the creative aspect of it that took cooking from "Slaving Over a Hot Stove" to "Creating food that looks, smells and tastes good." I began to cook again.  Every day.  Yes, it was great to have a hot-off-the-stove meal every day, but that was not the reason I was doing it. Cooking actually relaxed me after a long day at work.  Go figure, but it did.  


I made it a point to make a trip to India earlier this year, so I could reconnect to my roots.  The trip was made so much more pleasurable because of the sheer happiness of everyone around me, as we enjoyed each others' company, as we celebrated a family wedding, as we let our hair down and danced, as we partook of meals together.  The one word to collectively describe that holiday was FUN.  There was hardly a moment that went by when something fun wasn't happening. None of those moments would be anything without the people with whom I enjoyed every single moment.  Back in the place I now call home, I am fortunate to  have such wonderful friends.  I come from an amazing family.  Almost everyone I know are by default, happy people.   I am blessed by the fact that at work too, I work with a great immediate and extended team of people.  I share a great camaraderie with everyone in my life.  We talk, we eat, we drink, we play poker, we socialize. So it would seem like this is an easy step to accomplish, right?  Wrong.  In surrounding myself with positive people, I also had to minimize my contact with people who were dragging me down.  That was tough. However, if I was doing this for myself, I had to do it.  The only way I could think of to handle this was to disallow myself to become part of their drama and negativity by cutting back on my time with them.  


I grew up in a cultural environment in which it was never okay to make mistakes of any kind.  If I did, there were consequences, even though some of the mistakes I made weren't earth-shattering or destructive but rather were just a part of my growing up.  However, since every mistake I made was met with consequences that didn't necessarily justify the action, I carried this into my adulthood by beating myself up about every little thing I did wrong.  Of course, this caused me to blow everything way out of proportion.  I developed a very pessimistic attitude, with which came the belief that I was stupid and worthless because I couldn't do anything right.  I did not acknowledge anything positive that existed in my life from my accomplishments, because I was so fixated on those stupid little negative things that went wrong.  I made a decision that every day I would celebrate little victories.  I also made a decision to look at mistakes as a learning opportunity.  Once I actually began to think about things, I realized that my successes more than outweighed my mistakes. 


Music has always been a huge part of my life.  I used to sing in the church choir, I learned to play the piano, I used to listen to it as much as I could.  I used to try to convince my mother that listening to music while doing my homework would help me focus.  My mother would have none of it, telling me that if the music played I wouldn't be able to concentrate.  There was nothing I could say to change my mother's mind, even though music would actually have the opposite effect on me than what she thought.  Now that I am an adult, music follows me almost everywhere.  If I don't have music playing while I'm driving, cooking, even at work, I don't think I can fully function.  The only time I don't have music playing is when I am asleep. Oh, and during those still, silent moments like my early morning ritual of coffee on the deck while listening to birds make their own music.  Apparently, according to the article quoted in the beginning of this blog, "Music is powerful. So powerful, in fact, that it could match up to the anxiety-reducing effects of massage therapy."  Who knew?  All I knew was that it made me feel good.  


I have saved the best and most important for last.  This is how it all began that Thanksgiving a few years ago, when my uncle quoted the song, "Count your blessings, name them one by one, and it will surprise you what the Lord has done."  Even if you don't believe in God, just acknowledging the good things you have in your life makes all the difference.  It begins with appreciation.  I began to appreciate everything in my life.  I appreciated the job I had, when there were so many unemployed people around me.  I appreciated a roof over my head, one that in addition to being a place to live in, also afforded me an almost non-existent commute.  I appreciated the fact that I food to eat, with the starving millions all over the world.  Gratitude for what I have make me realize how blessed I am.  These are just my beliefs, and I don't enforce them on anyone.  Neither do I make any apologies for what I believe.  Everything that I have and everything that I am is a blessing bestowed on me because of God's grace extended to me.  This is how I perceive the people reading my blog as well, as a blessing.  You are giving me your precious and valuable time by reading this blog.  And for that I thank you.

I would like to end this blog by saying that this is MY journey.  By no means am I implying that this is as easy or as difficult as you make it to be.  I know people who are suffering from depression (one of my very good friends is struggling with it).  I am not judging them, nor am I telling them to shake it off or get over it, because it isn't my place to do so.  I have no idea what they are going through, nor do I know what anyone is experiencing right now.  Each one's journey is their own.  I am not comparing myself to anyone else, or measuring my happiness by their yardstick.  I am simply looking back to where I used to be and where I am now.  While I am not necessarily "Supremely Happy", I am quite content with how far I've come, and every step I take makes me more the person I am happy to be,

Love and peace.

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Miley Mania

While I was watching Saturday Night Live last night, I learned that Miley Cyrus was going to host and be the musical guest next week.  

I breathed I sigh of frustration.  There seems to be no getting away from Miley.  What do I do now?  Do I watch the show or do I not?

Miley Cyrus has been on SNL before, and she wasn't half bad.  It's just that she seems a little overexposed now.  I don't just mean the Wrecking Ball video, I mean how much she's in the news.  They say that it doesn't matter whether the publicity is positive or negative, at the end it's still publicity.  Oh well, I personally choose not to pay attention to Miley's shenanigans.  That, however, is sometimes difficult to do when the news is shoved in my face all the time.

I think it all began a few years ago when, at age 15, she posed for famed photographer Annie Liebovitz draped in a bed sheet.  The pictures were published in Vanity Fair and stirred a lot of controversy.  There was a faction of people who thought it was inappropriate, while others said that there was nothing wrong with the pictures, as they were tastefully done.  There was talk about the pictures being an attempt to re-brand Miley as transitioning from a young Hannah Montana to a grown up.  Be that as it may, to me that was the beginning of the controversy.

Cut to the more recent news stories.  Forbes Magazine has suggested that the twerking, the wrecking ball, all of it was the continued re-branding of a girl grown up.  I am not buying that argument.  There have been MANY actors who took to the screen as children, who made the transition from child to adult very seamlessly.  It wasn't difficult for the public to accept them.  

Which brings me back to my original question - do I watch Saturday Night Live next week, or do I not?  The show itself has been no stranger to its own controversy, pushing the envelope on numerous occasions.  There was Sinead O'Connor holding up a picture of the then Pope, and tearing it down the center.  There was Ashley Simpson lip-syncing her song.  There are probably several other skits and moments that don't come to mind.  But I still watch the show, not for the controversy but for the fact that it continues to be amusing and brilliant.  It has its peaks and valleys, but it is worth watching.  And I think I will watch next week.  In any case, if it isn't good enough to hold my interest, I fall asleep.  

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Back Into The Blogsphere

There was a time when I used to blog regularly.  I would make an attempt to blog every week.  If I wasn't out celebrating the last day of the workweek with friends or co-workers at one of our usual watering holes, you would find me on a Friday evening at a coffee shop at my laptop, sipping a cold or warm mocha as the weather demanded.  You would hear my fingers click-clack at the keyboard while I typed fast, trying to put my thoughts on paper before they got away from me.  If I didn't find the time to blog on a Friday evening, I would do so the first thing Saturday morning after I had woken up and had breakfast.  A mug of homemade tea, finished with milk and sugar would warm my soul as I poured out my thoughts into a blog post.

I still remember what got me motivated to write in the first place.  I was beginning to feel that all the technology surrounding me was making things a little too easy for me and that I was losing my creative edge. In a crazy kind of way that I couldn't explain, I felt like my brain cells were wasting away and that I needed to do something to keep them from doing so.  One of the things I used to be passionate about when I was growing up was writing.  So I decided to take it up again.  I remember the first few blogs I wrote. I was treading on water.  I had no idea how my posts would be received, if people would even care to read them or what they would think. These musings made way to the realization that if I really enjoyed writing, it shouldn't matter to me what people thought.

The first year I began blogging saw 29 posts.  The next year, I wrote 21 posts.  Then I wrote just two posts in 2012 and 1 this year.  What happened? I'm not sure I know.

Some of my posts did receive feedback from my readers.  The post I wrote about my father, the posts written from JackJack's perspective, the topical posts like the one titled, "Whose Ethics" and "The Brat Ban", all of them seemed like people were actually reading what I wrote.  So why did I stop writing?  I think I allowed other things in my life to take precedence over blogging.  My job, my business, my husband, my dog.  I allowed them all to get in the way.  Or did I?  Were these just excuses I allowed myself to make for my lack of motivation?  Truth be told, I was running out of topics to write about.  There have been times when I have begun a blog post but given up because it didn't seem interesting enough.  Once again, insecurity reared its ugly head and looked me straight in the eye.  I tried to avert my eyes from it's cold stare, but wasn't quite successful. But once again I have this feeling of not tapping into my full potential, and something inside of me wants to write again.  

This has led me once again to make a commitment.  I will try to write a blog post at least once a month.  Regardless of what I think of the topic and the contents, I will post it online.  I think this will help me be less critical of myself and more open to my own faults and shortcomings.  It will help me to continue my journey of self-improvement and take concrete steps to overcome my underlying insecurity.  

It's never too late to improve, is it?

Saturday, September 7, 2013

Remembering Melinda

Tomorrow will mark exactly a month since my sister in law Melinda passed away.  I wanted to write this blog sooner to honor her memory, but the pain was just too much to bear at the time.  The last time I saw her, I told Melinda that I would see her again soon.  Neither she nor I wanted to even acknowledge the possibility that this was the last time were were ever going to see each other.  We had just brought in 2013 together, along with my brother David and their daughters Elizabeth and Rebecca.  We had just celebrated a family wedding.  This was not how things were supposed to happen.  

As time has gone by, I realize that there wasn't any thing that any of us could do to stop things from happening the way that they were supposed to.  I continue to hope that there is a reason for how things turned out in the end.  Meanwhile, please indulge me while I tell you more about Melinda, and what she came to mean to the people she loved.

I remember the first time I met Melinda. She walked into our home holding my brother David's hand, in a white and peppermint colored striped dress.  She wore white sandals and carried a white handbag.  Melinda was so well put together.  She was meeting our family for the first time, but felt so comfortable doing so, you would have thought she knew us forever.

A year and a half later, David and Melinda were married. 

About six months after that, I had a chance to spend some time alone with my new sister in law when she asked me to join her on a short trip to New Delhi.  It had been two months since my father had passed, and 
Melinda thought that I could use a break.  As part of the Air India flight crew, some of the perks that 
Melinda enjoyed was five star accommodation and a food allowance.  Melinda made sure I had one of the 
best vacations ever.

If you were ever privileged enough to experience Melinda’s hospitality, you would realize that she would 
go out of her way to make you feel comfortable and would treat you like royalty.  She would plan the 
most elaborate and lavish meals, take you out, make sure you had the chance to do things that you truly 
enjoyed.  She somehow managed to pull this off even when I visited David, Melinda and the girls on 
the ship in Vancouver BC and then in Astoria OR.  So many people have expressed that even her illness 
didn't prevent her from continuing to extend that level of hospitality over the past couple of years.  

Melinda was so much more than that though.  She grabbed life by the horns and hung on for the ride.  
Melinda had such a zest for living.  She loved music, she loved to dance, she loved to cook, she 
loved to throw lavish parties.  She most definitely enjoyed the finer things in life. Melinda was always impeccably dressed, even for a trip to the grocery store.  Her job as a flight attendant who traveled Internationally provided her with so many different cultural experiences.  She generously shared these experiences with us by bringing home exotic foods and all kinds of knick-knacks from various parts of the world.  Melinda also had this gift of being able to talk to just about anybody and make them feel comfortable in her presence.  I thought that this gift existed only for the adults in her life, but when her first niece LeaAnne was born, I saw how much Melinda enjoyed being a new aunt. Melinda also had a great sense of humor, which included being able to laugh at herself.  I remember playing numerous rounds of the game Pictionary.  Melinda's ability to draw, or rather lack thereof, provided much mirth for the rest of us.  All of the animals she drew came with chicken legs, whether it was an elephant, a cow, or, yes, a chicken. We would burst into bouts of belly-aching laughter at her sketches, but Melinda was a great sport about it.

Somewhere along this wonderful journey of life, Melinda found the Lord and accepted Him into her life.  
She walked away from a job that she had loved so much and had so much success with since an early 
age.  People thought she was crazy, but she wanted to spend more time with her husband.  I watched 
as their relationship grew stronger and watched them become the most awesome parents to Lisa and 

When she was diagnosed with cancer in early 2012, Melinda didn't allow her illness to define her or take anything away from her.  Whenever she provided updates on her health, she always sounded so positive that she would overcome her illness. She made huge strides toward improved health and it was such a blessing to see her so well in January of 2013. Melinda was happy and healthy and was so full of positive energy. Little did I think that would be the last time I spent time with my sister in law who had now become the sister I never had.

Melinda, it has been a privilege to know you.  I miss you more than I thought I would, but there’s so much I’ve 
learned from you.  I have seen inner strength that knows no bounds.  I have seen a positive attitude 
to the worst of times.  You were courage exemplified, you were faith personified. 

I love you.