Tag Archives: love

Warm from the inside out


I didn’t realize I’d forgotten what it’s like to be warm from the inside out.

It took a glorious getaway this past week to Southern California and Palm Springs for my nephew Neal’s wedding to Allie to remind me of the feeling.

I awoke a few mornings ago—in the comfy bed of my longtime friend Luanne’s peaceful guestroom in L.A’s San Fernando Valley—to the long-forgotten sensation.

I grew up in the Valley—but had somehow never been to Palm Springs (just a few hours east). There was no need to pursue more sunshine, heat and dips in a pool when we had all that right at home.

Let’s just say things have changed—dramatically.

Since moving to Seattle in 1994, I (along with all my fellow Emerald City residents) thoroughly appreciate when sunny skies and warm sunshine are in the forecast—especially this time of year. The long, dark winters and relentlessly gray skies can most definitely take their toll on everyone in the Pacific Northwest.

As I’ve grown older, I’ve also begun to notice that I get colder more easily—and really don’t like it. I’m starting to understand why so many aging seniors choose to retire to warm climates.

That’s why the feeling I awoke to the other morning was so incredible. As I lay there, I reflected on the many magical moments that unfolded over the past week.

The sunny skies and desert heat worked wonders on my body and spirit—but even more so did the abundance of joy-filled moments throughout the trip.


Celebrating Neal and Allie with those most special in their lives at the rehearsal dinner and welcome party the evening before the wedding.

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Giving myself the gift of time

Today, I celebrated another year of living on this precious and increasingly imperiled beautiful blue planet we all call home.

I happened to glance at the clock at 11:11—the moment I made my debut 58 years ago. I love it when that happens, and appreciate the fact that my arrival time was so incredibly symmetrical, numerically speaking. I’ve heard and read about the power of being associated with 11:11. The band Film School wrote a song with it in the title. I also once went to a numerologist who remarked positively upon the power of it. (I’m not sure what the significance really is, but am delighted that it’s part of my life’s story—along with the fact that I was only lefty in a home with seven right-handed siblings and two-right-handed parents.)

I eased into the morning, had a delicious and satisfying lunch of pho and always-fulfilling conversation with my sister—and then headed downtown for happy hour with a few former colleagues on the waterfront of Seattle’s Belltown neighborhood. All in all, a low-key but highly satisfying day.

I’ve just arrived back home after a rather long and crowded bus ride, alone in my quiet little house on my modest little street near the town of Woodinville, Washington. My phone has been dinging with notices of Facebook greetings and a few voicemail
messages. I’ve chosen to remain unplugged for the moment, but look forward to reading the wishes from friends and family near and afar. (It’s a definite positive on the social media front.)

On this June 2, 2017 birthday evening, I’m reflecting on the past, pondering the future—and feeling incredibly grateful for this life I’ve lived and all the love that surrounds me.

My birthday gift to me this month is time. I’m not going to rush into the next contract or pursue a position that doesn’t spark joy.

I’m going to take a break, regroup, renew, recharge, recover, return to the gym, write—and forge a new path for the next chapter in “The Life of Marcy O’Hara.”

It’s a gift that will pay dividends for the rest of my life—and the fact that I’ve realized that is making me feel older and wiser even as we speak.

(Happy birthday to me!)

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Remembering Rudy

Yesterday afternoon, I was chatting with a colleague about her high-maintenance pomeranian. (Who knew dogs could have Xanax prescriptions?)

As I was laughing about her stories—hand-feeding the pup one kibble at a time or watching the highly anxious small ball of fur suddenly binge eat when unexpected visitors were arriving—I had a sudden revelation. February 14th was a day to remember an important 4-legged friend of my own.

Rudolph Valentino DeFrancesco, the most handsome dalmatian ever born,  made his debut on February 14, 1991. Little did I know that six weeks later, he’d be mine.

At the time, I was working as a junior copywriter at an L.A. ad agency. The mother of a coworker a was a dalmatian breeder—and one afternoon she arrived with several irresistibly adorable puppies in tow. I scooped one up and held it close to my heart. “How much are they?” I asked. “Well, they’re from championship line,” she replied. “American Kennel Club. They have all their papers. Oh and their dad is an actor. He’s been in several pet food commercials. They’re $800 each.”

She might as well have said $800,000. The price was unfathomable to me at that juncture. “Well, if something falls through and you have an extra puppy, let me know” I replied.

A few weeks later, something did fall through. Two puppies needed homes, and I could have one if I was still interested.

I consulted with my husband, and we agreed that it was a go.  I headed over on a Saturday morning in early April for my “meet and greet”—and entered into a room with a sweet mama dalmatian and her two remaining boys. They were both about a foot long, getting some spots, but much of their fur remained white. Both were utterly adorable, but I was particularly drawn to one. He was more high-spirited and spunky. I scooped him up, brought him home and deposited him on the bed, where my husband was still snoozing.

Our new addition cried a bit for his mom and brother that first day, but soon made himself right at home. We named him Rudolph Valentino, and he quickly captured our hearts.

In December of 1992, another addition arrived—our daughter Gabriella. We were faced with comments from a few well-meaning family members. “You’re not keeping that dog, are you?!” my mother inquired. She simply could not fathom my decision. “Dalmations are not good with kids, you know” another stated.

I ignored all the naysayers. I knew better. And the day we arrived home with our new daughter in tow, the one-and-a-half-year-old Rudy was ready. He literally leaped with joy—springing halfway across the living room to greet us.

And for the next 12 and half years, he and she grew up together. We soon learned that he resented the fact that Gabriella received so many toys and stuffed animals. December was especially rough, with here birthday and Christmas both occurring in quick succession. He’d get ahold of her new toy—a stuffed Winnie the Pooh or fuzzy white bear—and chew the noses off of them. In time, Gabriella’s grandma would come to the rescue, rummaging through her button jar for the perfect nose replacement.

He was a master food pilferer, amazingly adept at snatching unattended delicacies off a dinner plate or a loaf of bread off the counter. I’d sometimes catch him while the crime was in progress, but he was so quick for a chubby 70-something-pounder. He’d scurry out his dog door in a flash, with me in hot pursuit cursing and yelling. One Christmas, he ate a whole pound of fudge that was beautifully wrapped and waiting under the tree. He was perfectly fine afterward, FYI. (I’d heard that dogs can die from eating chocolate; this most definitely did not apply to Rudy.)

He also”talked” all the time—and after Gabriella took up the violin in elementary school, started displaying a new talent. She was playing “Joy to the World” one winter evening and he started singing along in harmony. The tune apparently touched him to the bottom of his spotted soul.

Wherever we went, kids would excitedly approach and ask to pet him. “It’s a dalmatian!” they’d exclaim. Rudy was always wonderful with his fans. As he got older, he got a bit more crotchety—and not everyone was a fan. My younger sister couldn’t stand him, and the final straw occurred one holiday season.  Gabriella’s dad was picking her up, and inadvertently let go of Rudy’s leash. He barreled into my sister’s living room, lifted his leg and urinated all over her Christmas tree, beautifully wrapped presents and white rug. Thankfully, I wasn’t there to witness the moment—which we can chuckle about now…a little.

The day that he died on that summer afternoon was absolutely devasting for all of us. Twelve-and-a-half-year-old Gabriella was inconsolable, as were her dad and I. “Rudy was with me every day of my life, Mom.” I held her close and we cried together.  Later that evening, we wrapped him in one of her favorite towels, buried him and held a funeral in our backyard with her neighborhood friends.

I still miss him so, these 12 years later—and always will. I’m so grateful for the conversation I had yesterday with my colleague. I may otherwise have forgotten to remember.

Happy birthday, Rudolph Valentino DeFrancesco. I may forget your birthday down the road, but know this: you’ll be in my heart, always and forever.

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“Don’t shake your head. Nod.”



It’s only been a week and a half since the sudden death of my sister, Ellen. 

Exactly two weeks ago, I was standing by her hospital bed. I had arrived the prior evening, racing across the I-90 from Seattle to Spokane after hearing the awful news. Acute renal failure. Stage 3 uterine cancer. Metastacized.

She’d been scheduled for a hysterectomy. She’d stayed home that prior week, private, proud, independent and always so strong, awaiting the arrival of our younger sister, Regan on Sunday, March 9. She was in terrible pain that continued to intensify as the week progressed, but apparently thought it was to be expected.

I’d texted her midway through the trip. “I will be arriving in a few hours. Can I visit?” No word until I neared the exit for downtown Spokane. My phone pinged. “Not tonight.”

The next morning, my younger sister and I headed to Sacred Heart Hospital. Ellen’s room was empty. We found her next-door, in the dialysis room.

I slowly approached her bed, unaware that I shaking my head at the sight of her. IV drips of various medications were circulating through her veins. She breathed through the mask of her CPAP machine.Her right hand was tightly clutching the device that administered potent pain meds on demand, every 20 minutes. . 

Her eyes revealed the unimaginble agony she’d endured. I think that was what I was shaking my head at most as I approached her. She stared intently at me, my always-in-control, take-charge sister. She was reading my face, the way she’d always done for the past 54 years. After a few moments, she spoke, softly: “Don’t shake your head. Nod.” It was quintessential Ellen humor. I obeyed her directive, per usual.

Regan then handed her the will. Ellen had asked her to bring it with us to the hospital. She held it up closely to her face and began scanning it carefully. I watched, silently.

Regan left to get an update from the doctors and nurses. Ellen stopped reading, and looked over at me anxiously. “Do you think ReRe can handle this?” (Ellen had chosen Regan way back in 2007 as the guardian for her teenaged daughter.) “Should I switch it to you?”

I assured her that she’d made the right choice; that our little sister was stronger than we knew. She had her amazing husband, and me—and our big family.

It was now her turn to nod. She returned her gaze to the will in her hands, and continued reading.





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