The one about loving your coworkers

Back in January, the day after I found out Gam was sick, my friend Efrain came into work with a surprise for me: this amazing sketch of one of my favorite photos–me and Gam jumping off a diving board when I was five.

It was ironically impeccable timing.

I remember being super slammed that day. Ef kept asking if I could help him for a few seconds with a photo shoot, and I kept putting it off for deadlines and job jackets. He actually just wanted to snap a quick picture of my hand to sketch from, since Gam’s was cut off in the original. Finally he just gave it to me and explained why he needed help with the “shoot.” Of course I felt horrible for ignoring him all morning.

I adore my coworkers. They are artists and designers and brilliant thinkers who understand the value of story and helping others share theirs. (Oh, and they have iPhones. Which is why we have this video of me, Ef, and one of my favorite sketches he’s ever done.) Go ahead, watch it. My desk is messy.

Anyway. Gam told me once,

“I used to stare at that picture–and stare at it, and stare at it, and stare at it. And I’d say to myself, ‘Self, I cannot believe that somebody loves me so much to draw that picture for me.”

“Gam, I didn’t draw it. My friend Ef made that for you.”

“Well that man deserves a commission. A great big commission.”

I smile. Ef draws for people all the time.

“Jenny, when I go, I want you to take that picture and hang it right in your living room, where everyone can see it!”

“So they can see what nice legs you had?”

“Yes. They’re NICE legs. But mostly that we had fun. We made a good team, you and me.”


P.S. Do me a favor and check out Ef’s web site. If you are ever interested in having some memories made, the man can draw. All you have to do is send him a photo. (And yes…that red violin that looks like a photograph? It’s a colored pencil sketch.)


Don’t wear your hair up. Ever.

From my cousin, Laura:

“Gam got the pics today from Jacky’s prom. While looking at them through her giant magnifying glass, she kept commenting . . . . and I couldn’t help but chuckle when she said, “look at Jenny!  See, I told her she has to wear her hair down and stop pulling it back“. lol.”

That’s more like it . . .

These are the grandkids Gam raised.

PA Visit #5 – Old Photos

After breakfast one morning, I pulled out my laptop and opened a folder of photos I stole from my dad’s computer.

There’s snapshots of her from the Inquirer–interviewing Burt Lancaster, working late nights, competing in a beauty pageant when she was in highschool.

Interviewing Burt Lancaster for the Philadelphia Inquirer

She’s 1. Amazed that I can have photos on my computer.

2. A bit miffed that I’m keeping her from returning her phone calls.

3. A bit confused. She doesn’t see too well and asks me “Jenny, is that you when you were little, or is that the dog?”

Mostly, she seems proud to share a bit of her life with me. Proud to prove in pictures that she was once young and strong and beautiful; that she had good friends and an exciting career and all kinds of adventures.

Cargo Pilot; WW2

My favorite memories from that little conversation were when the keeping-me-away-from-my-phone call frustration was momentarily broken by a sigh and an “Oh my–where did you find that? I haven’t seen this photo since….”


She’s been doing a lot of reflecting lately. Over her life, how she lived it, if she lived it well. Last days inspire those questions; questions that are currently challenging my next-days.

I think I’ll be blessed to live one half as full.