Now Appearing in Heaven Saturday, Mar 9 2019 

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We who believe in a loving God and the gift of everlasting life, rejoice in death. In our hearts, we know our loved one is at peace in the midst of the Light. We mourn the passing of one we’d prefer with us in this world but this belief does bring comfort in our loss.

My husband, Marshall Brodien (84) of Geneva, passed away peacefully early morning on March 8, 2019. He was surrounded by family in his last days, and I only left his side to shower (which the rest of the family appreciated.) Most of the week, I held his hand. In his last hours I sat beside him with my head on his pillow, holding both of his hands, and listening to his last breaths.

Hospice educated me on the signs of passing which became increasingly more evident with every minute. As his hands grew colder, I prayed the rosary and spoke to God and to Marshall. His breaths gently faded, he squeezed my hands, and I felt his spirit leave the body.

Twenty five years ago when I first told my mother about Marshall she was concerned about the 20 years age difference between us. I assured my mom that Marshall was a gentleman, and she soon realized his kindness for herself.

Marshall’s public persona meant that he belonged to the public. Loved ones had to share him with fans everywhere we went. His attention often was elsewhere.

However, Marshall made me feel loved every day of our marriage. He called me “My Mary” and “The love of his life.” He didn’t hesitate to publicly say, “I love that girl.” I never doubted I was in his heart and greatly appreciated the joy he brought to me and my children.

Marshall may be best known for creating the Marshall Brodien Magic sets and TV magic cards with his famous tagline, “Magic is easy, once you know the Secret.” He’s also fondly remembered as the magical, wacky character Wizzo on Chicago’s Bozo Show for 26 years. Marshall, aka Wizzo, would wave his stone of Zanzibar and say the magic words, “Do-dee-do-dee-do.”

Marshall’s rich life began in Chicago with his loving mother, Mildred, Father Arthur, and brother, Charles. At the age of eight, a female magician entertained at his school. He soon became hooked and put on his own shows for family and friends. He later became a side-show barker at Riverview Park.

He was drafted into the army in 1957 and commissioned to the Special Services Entertainment Division at Fort Carson, Colorado. He performed more than 700 shows at hospitals, officer clubs, and private parties over his two years in the military.

Marshall continued entertaining by performing magic and stage hypnosis at lounges, clubs, and county fairs as well working as a trade show spokesperson for corporations such as Owens-Corning Fiberglass, Bethlehem Steel, Reynolds Aluminum, and the American Gas Association.

Marshall showed symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease disruptive to daily life since 2004. I cared for him at home for ten years and he lived in managed care for almost another five.

In addition to me, Marshall is survived by his three children, three step-children, nine grandchildren, four step-grandchildren, and one great-grandchild. There also is one more on the way. He was preceded in death by his daughter, Christine, who passed away in 2016, and his brother, Charles.

Donations can be made in his name to Arden Courts of Geneva (2388 Bricher Road, Geneva, IL 60134), Heartland Hospice (1010 Executive Drive, Suite 200, Westmont, IL 60559), or the Alzheimer’s Association (225 Michigan Ave, Fl 17, Chicago, IL 60601).

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Genetics, Not Math Wednesday, Feb 27 2019 

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In November, I posted that I submitted to genetic testing (A Fuller Story of Ourselves). At that time, I was most curious about the health aspect of the testing. Fortunately, results indicated that I was not predisposed to any of the ten diseases tested.

Since then, the ancestry portion has intrigued me. 3/8 German, 3/8 Irish, and 2/8 Italian. That’s how I used to describe myself. I based this status on my grandparents: My maternal grandmother was all German, maternal grandfather all Irish, paternal grandmother all Italian, and paternal grandfather half Irish, half German.

But those proportions weren’t correct after checking out my ancestry with 23andMe. I never considered the genetic roll of the dice when each of my parents contributed a random half of their genetics to me. Nor did I speculate beyond a couple of generations. My mother spent decades researching our family ancestry through the 1800s, so I thought that I knew the whole story.

My 23andMe genetic testing went back to the 1600s, so it takes into consideration the generations prior that migrated and blended long before my grandparents. I’m 99.8% European. In addition to German, Irish, and Italian, I also have traces of Greek and Balkan, Scandinavian, Spanish and Portuguese, .2% Ashkenazi Jewish, undesignated broadly Northwestern European, and undesignated broadly Southern European. (Percentages may change and ancestry may become more specific as the 23andMe data base increases.)

Most surprising was my ancestry compared to my sister, Margaret. I’d expected us to be nearly identical because Margaret and I look most alike out of five siblings. In actuality, we’re only 53.6% genetically identical. Although 23andMe stated that they suspected we were sisters, my son and I are nearly the same proportion at 50% identical.

The proportions of ancestry, and even some of the nationalities between Margaret and me, differed. In addition to the ancestry list, 23andMe offered an interesting picture of the genetic areas tested and where we were completely identical, half identical, and not at all identical.

The more family members participate in testing, the more interesting the picture of our past will be revealed. Perhaps I’m more genetically like one of my other four siblings that I resemble the least.

What are your thoughts on genetic testing?

(Check out posts on my other blog, Mary K Doyle Books, including We Can’t Know for Sure, How Will Our Story End, Sacrificing for God’s Mission.)

Please say, “Alexa, Please…” Monday, Jan 28 2019 

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Inside voices. Mind your manners. At the very least, say “please” and “thank you.”

And then we get an Alexa and shout orders at an inanimate object that immediately follows are commands. No “please” or “thank you” required.

It’s estimated that more than 100 million Amazon’s Alexas have been sold. With a variety of models beginning at about $20, Alexa is affordable and can be used to accomplish tasks and respond to questions or requests such as: “Alexa, set an alarm.” “What is the weather tomorrow?” “What’s in the news?” “Is the pharmacy open?” Or, “Call Donna.”

It also can work with other devices. And, with the help of an adapter, Alexa  can turn on or off anything plugged into an outlet.

My daughters gave me an Alexa for Christmas. After not using it for weeks in the kitchen, I moved it to my bedroom. Perhaps I’ll grow increasingly more dependent on my little companion, but I doubt I’ll ask much of it.  Right now I call on Alexa only to play music and turn on and off a lamp at the other end of the room.

Many are concerned about the device violating our privacy. My concern is that it doesn’t require basic manners. I believe Alexa should not comply without us asking “please” or saying “thank you.” Far too many of us are shouting commands at her. We learn by example, and the example we show our children with Alexa is to demand, not ask, for what we want.

Do you own an Alexa or similar device? What do you think about smart controllers? How do you use it? And do you have any concerns?

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(Check out posts on my other blog including Jesus, I Trust in You, How Do You Know What God Wants?, and The Magician’s Escape Plan.)

Super Berry Wednesday, Jan 9 2019 

elderberryStep aside blueberries. You have some competition as a super food. The elderberry is rapidly gaining in on you.

My daughter, Erin, has me hooked on elderberry syrup, pills, and tea after reading some credible studies. As a nurse, Erin, seeks the scientific findings such as this one before jumping on the home-remedy bandwagon. Another study reported in The National Center for Biotechnology in 2016 found elderberry supplementation reduces cold duration and symptoms in air-travelers.

Rich in flavonoids, consuming elderberries is thought to offer numerous health benefits. In addition to reducing colds and flu symptoms, elderberries are believed to offer some prevention and reduction in allergies, urinary tract and bladder infections, headaches, constipation, epilepsy, scarlet fever, and measles. The purplish-black berries may also improve digestive health, rheumatism, and sinus, back, leg (sciatica), and nerve pain (neuralgia) in addition to chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS).

Some positive effects even have been seen on markers of the heart and blood vessels, as well, with a reduction of the level of fat in the blood and a decrease in cholesterol. Elderberry may even increase insulin secretion and improve blood sugar levels.

The American elderberry (Sambucus canadensis) is a deciduous shrub native to areas of the Midwest and Eastern North America. Fragrant white clusters of blossoms bloom each summer. In warmer areas, blossoms may appear throughout the year.

Raw berries should not be eaten as they can cause nausea and vomiting. And the bark, seeds, stems, leaves, and roots are inedible. They contain a cyanide-inducing glycoside, which in large quantities, is toxic.

Elderberries are safe when cooked. They may be consumed in pies, jams, juices, gummiessyrups, and wine. At this time, there is no standard dosage of elderberry to take when suffering from colds or flu but some suggest one tablespoon of syrup extract four times a day. It’s also unknown as to whether or not consuming elderberry products daily is beneficial.

(Did you see my post, “The Magician’s Escape Plan,” on my blog, Mary K Doyle Books?)

Sweet Twisted History Wednesday, Dec 12 2018 

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With the progression of the seasons comes the move from everything pumpkin to everything peppermint. But if the iconic Christmas peppermint candy canes aren’t your thing, you can appease your sweet tooth with your choice of an array of other flavors. Sour Patch, Jolly Ranchers, Orange Crush, and A&W are some, as well as–believe it or not–rotisserie chicken and pickle.

Legends about the origins of candy canes link a preacher and his lessons on Christianity to the candy. The story is that candy canes were designed with red to represent Jesus’ blood, white for the Resurrection, and the J-shape for the name, Jesus.

None of this is true, but it didn’t stop an elementary school principle in Nebraska from banning candy canes for these reasons. Most likely, the basis of the legend came from someone who indeed did use candy canes to teach about Jesus, but artwork shows images of candy canes long before these stories first circulated.

White, straight candy sticks date to the 17th century and came in several flavors, including mint. The twist of red and white began showing up around the turn of the 20th century. And the hook shape may have begun as a means to hang them on decorated Christmas trees, a German custom that became more popular when Queen Victoria and her German husband displayed them in their home in the mid-1800s.

What’s your favorite flavor? I’m still a traditionalist and like the peppermint, especially  when it’s crushed and mixed with white chocolate.

(Have you seen my latest posts on my other blog including: Save it For Those Who Listen, Soulful Connections, and The Alzheimer’s Teacher?)

Remembering a Life of Integrity Wednesday, Dec 5 2018 

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Today in the United States we celebrated the life of one of our most remarkable presidents, our 41st, George Herbert Walker Bush. President Bush was noted throughout the ceremonies for his achievements not only as our country’s leader but as a US Navy war hero, former Vice President, philanthropist, friend and father.

It was President Bush’s character that was recognized most of all. He was a fine, honorable man who served his country, family, and the world community with dignity, integrity, compassion, and honesty in addition to a great sense of humor.

Death reminds us of our vulnerability. No one lives forever. It also serves as a reminder of how we will be remembered. We ask ourselves, “How have we made our mark on this world? Who have we touched, and how have we done that?”

In the end, there will be no one else to blame or point the finger at. We will have to stand on our own failures and achievements.

If we honestly can review our lives and realize where we can do better, it’s not too late to change our course, to leave behind a better us.

(Do you follow my other blog, Mary K Doyle Books?)

A Fuller Story of Ourselves Tuesday, Nov 27 2018 

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Who am I?

That’s a basic question we all ask of ourselves. Our identity consists of many factors including character, personality, health, ancestry, profession, and role. And today science offers opportunities to easily investigate further in ways that only a few years ago were not accessible for the masses.

 

Providers offer testing for genetics, ancestry, and combinations of the two. Taking advantage of a Black Friday special, I sent for one of those combination kits. I don’t expect any surprises. My mother conducted extensive research into our family genealogy. And I doubt I have any hereditary tendencies toward diseases. Although I have several health issues, I believe them to be due to stress.

 

So why am going to submit to testing? I’m still curious of the test results and may be able to pass on some information to my children. I’m most comfortable with in-depth research on any story, including my own.

 

If you are contemplating doing the same, choosing a test company can be daunting. There are dozens out there including Ancestry.com, 23andMe, and CRI Genetics. Honestly, I chose one that my son found interesting. But there are a few factors to consider.

 

First decide if you are interested in knowing more about your ancestry, your genetic make-up, or both. Then read about the companies that offer the tests you are interested in. Where are they located? How do they secure personal information? How advanced is their technology? How many genetic markers do they test? And what do reviewers say about their results?

 

Such testing may provide you with connections to relatives you did not know before, inform you of potential health issues that you may be able to avoid with a healthy lifestyle, or eliminate uncertainty surrounding your family health risks.

 

But the answers you receive may come with an emotional as well as financial price. You also may discover information about your ancestry or genetics that you’d rather not have known.

 

Keep in mind that just because a health risk is revealed it does not mean you will definitely develop it. The tests merely offer opportunities to be proactive and seek professional guidance in avoiding or handling the outcome more fully.

 

What are your feelings about these tests? Are you interested in doing them yourself? I’d love to hear your thoughts.

 

(Photo includes my great-grandmother–4th woman in the top row–my great-aunts, great-uncle, and grandfather, John Doyle, who is on the right.)

 

(Do you follow my other blog, Mary K Doyle Books?)

Pause Tuesday, Oct 16 2018 

DSCN2232My friend, Sister Chris, worked at The Blessed Trinity Shrine Retreat House in Fort Mitchell, Alabama for many years. She points out that we don’t know how to retreat. We don’t take time to “stop and smell the roses,” to enjoy the gifts before us.

Our noisy world is full of distractions. We are always on the run. Busy, busy, busy.

Retreats offer opportunities to relax and renew. The quiet time supports our spiritual, emotional, and physical health and helps us to increase in wisdom and concentration. We leave happier, clearer minded, and better able to meet the challenges of the future.

Retreat centers are typically found in tranquil locations surrounded in simple beauty. They can be anything from exotic and luxurious to a yoga mat in your bedroom but offer a safe place to clear your mind and recharge.

Many retreat centers focus on a particular intent such spiritual retreats for building relationships with God, retreats for victims of domestic violence to regain a sense of empowerment, and ones for overall relaxing of body, mind, and spirit.

We don’t have to spend 40 days in the desert praying and fasting as Jesus did. But his example teaches us that it is necessary to clear our minds in order to grow. If you are unable to get away, you can practice a moment of pause within each day. Sip a cup of coffee or tea alone on your front porch. Soak in the tub or enjoy a fragrant shower. Go for a massage. Listen to classical or relaxation music. Take a yoga class where you can stretch and breathe deeply.

For our own good and the peace of the world, let’s stop. The quiet time is an important investment in our well being.

(Follow me on Facebook and see my other blog, Mary K Doyle Books.)

Marshall Brodien Day Tuesday, Jul 10 2018 

Writing 101 Monday, Jul 2 2018 

Where to begin? That’s a common question when writing anything from a letter to an online informative post.

We can begin the first draft anywhere, because any meaningful writing should be edited before sending. A good practice is to list the points we want to make and then organize that list into a pattern that flows with a beginning, middle, and end.

The first one or two sentences should state the problem and what you want done about it. For example, if you purchased a package of pens and several do not write, your opening sentence might be, “I am seeking a refund for a package of Brand X pens I purchased on July 1, 2018 from Store B.” Continue by explaining what is wrong with the pens.

The last sentence can reiterate the opening by telling the reader the point of the letter. Be sure to include contact information.

Once we have everything we want to say, edit out repetitive and excess words. It’s rarely necessary for the reader to know we were having a bad day prior to using the pens. Simple, brief sentences that clearly express our thoughts is best. And check for grammar and spelling errors that can distract from the point we are making.

When we think the message is complete, a good practice is to read it aloud. We often can hear an error we do not see. The goal is to keep the reader engaged and for them to understand what we are saying.

(Follow me on Facebook and see my other blog, Mary K Doyle Books.)

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