What is a Dorey Story?

I think I was born singing, and talking probably came early …. and often! After that came writing songs and finally writing stories.

I began to notice that the things that happened to me, or that I did, were funny or crazy and I wanted to share them. I started writing some of them down and distributing them via email. The feedback on a few of them was overwhelming and encouraging. I also loved that I was making people laugh.

I also write “stories” after trauma and when people die. It has become my way of “working it out”, of saying goodbye. In this sense, writing is a form of therapy for me.

Finally, I write some Dorey Stories just to share what’s on my heart. This is a very busy, confusing and complicated world in which we live. For people like me, it’s hard to negotiate through life.

Whether reflective, happy or sad, I hope that these stories will touch your heart (or your funny bone) and lift your spirits.

It Was a Good Good Friday

It happened a long time ago, in a small church not so far away. The music team tried to do a special Good Friday service. We tried to coordinate clips from the film The Passion of the Christ, with readings and music. We overshot our abilities.

During the service, everything was a struggle, it felt disjointed and “not right.” You could cut the tension with a knife. At the same time, the worship leader was missing his music for the next song. He was inwardly panicking.

Suddenly the wife of the keyboard player got up and stopped the service. (Thank you, God.) She said that she sensed a separation between the worship team and the congregation, and invited everyone attending to move closer together.

While this was going on, God gave me “a knowing” of where the missing music was. I left the platform, went to the front pew and pulled out the music. I walked back up and put the music on the worship leader’s music stand. He was so distracted that he never saw me leave and get the music. He thought the music suddenly appeared out of nowhere. I love that.

Our church poet had originally wanted to read a poem he had written, but the decision was made beforehand that he not do the poem. When everything in the service seemed to shift (fall apart), he decided that he would read his poem. He got up and read his poem, about the Apostle Peter cutting off the ear of Malchus.

After the service he asked his wife if she thought it was a bad idea for him to have read the poem. “A bad idea?”, she said. “At the exact time you were reading your poem, the same scene from The Passion was displaying on the screen behind you. It was the perfect idea.” We never could have coordinated that if we practiced for a week.

There was a young couple attending the service that night. After the service, the man said that he wanted to attend our church. He said it was the best service he had ever attended. It certainly was real.

I think what was special about this service was that people listened to God:
– Someone had the courage to interrupt the service.
– Someone decided to read his poem at the God ordained time.
– Someone left the platform and got the music.

People listened and God worked out the details. It was an interesting evening; it was a wonderful service. It was real people, worshipping a real God in a real way. It was a good Good Friday. It was amazing.

It Takes the Cake

“It Takes the Cake” = To be the most outstanding in some respect, either the best or the worst.

This is just another crazy story from my life.

I went to my friend’s; we were going bike riding. I showed up with the bike pants, shoes, etc. My friend – well she wanted to maximize her tan, so she wore a bathing suit and flip flops. (Sun on the feet must be important, and I just don’t know this.)

We started biking on the rail trail.

At the first street crossing, one biker did not know about the street guards on the trail (a pole in the middle of the path with a bicycle seat on top). He hit the pole, flipped his bike and was on the ground bleeding. He had a group of people around him, so we pressed on.

The second street crossing had lights. We had to wait for the light to change. Rather than waiting by the light, I (foolishly) decided to ride along the side of the road, and return when the light changed.

As I rode along the road, I watched a car that was approaching the line of cars stopping for the light. I noticed that the car started veering off the road and was heading straight at me. It kept slowing down, but kept coming. Eventually it hit me, slowly, and came to a stop.

I fell onto the hood of the car. I was surprised. I backed myself off the hood and away from the car. I was fine. The female driver opened the passenger window and asked if I was all right. Then she apologized, and told me that she could not stop the car, because she had a wedding cake in the back.

As excuses go, that was a novel one – but really? You hit someone with your car, so the cake isn’t ruined? Other bike riders on the trail could not believe what she did. It probably looked really strange – this lady went out of her way to hit me.

As I look back, I realize that she gave me an unusual story to tell, and thankfully I was not hurt. But her excuse – well that “takes the cake”!

Before I Forget – Or Should I Forget…

Forty years ago they introduced computer terminals in the Child Support Enforcement offices. It was a blast. We entered the data, and the system would lose the data. Eventually we had to write down everything we entered, as the computer would periodically lose the data entry for a day. Part of the job – reenter all the data when they told us to.

It was so frustrating that I eventually drew a picture of a woman standing over a computer with an ax (or an axe). I signed it with my numeric office code, and my assigned letter. Someone finally “got it”, and called me back. We had a good laugh, and then I returned to run the office of do-overs.

Now it’s 40 years later.

I have a 2012 MacBook Pro. Turbo Tax said this was the last year I could us the computer with their product. Sigh. $$$ In February I bought an AppleWatch 5 for its health/security features. Apple told me that my iPhone 6s was the oldest phone they allowed to pair with the watch. Sigh. $$$

I bought a 2020 MacBook Air. When I first got it – the Apple watch could “unlock” the new laptop. Cool. I had to “migrate” the data from the old computer to the new computer on my own, as the Apple store is not open during the Covid-19 outbreak.. OK – I can do this.

I did the migration BUT – the Google Backup and Sync program got loose, and blew up my Google and Dropbox accounts. It was creating duplicates. Triplicates. (A friend told me later that Backup & Sync has problems with the new Apple operating system. I wish I had known in advance.) I uninstalled it from both computers, and started deleting with abandon.

Eventually things seemed better on the new computer. Whew.

However – the watch stopped opening the new computer. Sigh. Also – the watch would not complete the latest update. Sigh x 2.

I was on the phone with Apple support today, playing stump the stars. Their “senior” tech support person took a good hour. At one point I had to turn off the Bose headphones, as he said that the Bluetooth might be interfering with everything. I finally had my assignments – “unpair” the watch and the phone, do the update on the phone (which was not listed in the display), do the watch update, and then repair the two. No problem there (but I am not on the “A” team. Not even on the “B” team.)

Somehow I did it.

The “re-pairing” took two tries and a very very long time. My watch finally said it was up to date. Wow. And unbelievably – my watch now opens the new laptop again. Sweet.

I don’t know if this was worth it, but as of now everything is working, and it is current. I know I will need to get a new phone next (choke). Can’t wait to see what that does to the watch.

I am using the old computer to do the recording for the church music this week. I didn’t have time to learn the 2020 GarageBand program this week. That will be my assignment for next week.

Have I told you that I don’t do well with Change? However, if there is constant change, is it really change anymore? (I still love the line in Star Trek IV: “What is exact change?”).

I’ll check back when I have to get a new phone.

PS – my updated Apple Watch 5 alerted me today at 4:50, telling me it was time to get up and start walking. Sigh x 10.

Our Town – Watertown, Massachusetts

Listen HERE.

Visit the official Watertown, Massachusetts website HERE.

At my brother’s wedding in 1984, everyone told me what a wonderful and exceptional person my brother was.  Prior to that day, I thought of my brother as just a great brother.  After the wedding, I knew that I had an exceptional brother, and a wonderful family that I had never “seen” before.

After a stressful 2000 missions trip to Haiti and the horrific 9/11 attacks, I realized my appreciation for my country.  I hadn’t realized this before, and didn’t have a clue about the depths of my love for the USA. 

After the 2013 Marathon bombings, I felt a great sadness and grieving for Boston, our little big city.  It’s a historic city, a “walkable” city, and a really great city.  With all its colleges and universities, it is a young city, and a city full of the promises of possibility.  My precious Boston had been wounded. 

After the gunshots and bombs in Watertown on April 18th and 19th (2013), I became aware of my appreciation for this town, where I have lived all of my life. 

I was born and raised here, and I continue to live in Watertown.  I attended the Citizens Police Academy training here, fought for “one side of the street” parking and co-wrote the official song for the Town of Watertown: “Our Town”.  It is home, in every sense of the word. 

Yet after a lifetime of experiences, I never knew how much I loved this place.  I just took it for granted. 

  • You can safely walk the streets at night.
  • There is no overnight parking on the streets in the winter.
  • It’s just outside the Boston borders, yet there is a “small town feel”, with our parades, fairs, and town government. 
  • They open Town meetings with “This is the city known as the town of Watertown”.

Today, the day after the end of the “shelter in place” restrictions of the Marathon Bombing Crisis, I realize how much I love and appreciate our town.  Walking to Dunkin Donuts and passing the Town Diner, I started to get emotional.  That freedom to leave the house and buy a cup of coffee, we take it for granted every day.  

Everyone was a little kinder today.  I was smiling in that knowing way, and they were smiling back.  There were no police, FBI, swat teams, Blackhawk helicopters, and very little media.  There were no armed police patrolling my property.  There was no silence in the things of everyday life.   

Sadly, I can already sense that this awareness is fading, but that’s life in the 21st century.  So while I can still feel the exhilaration of freedom, appreciation and love, I say thank you:

  • To all of our first responders (we do appreciate you)
  • To our government officials entrusted with the public welfare
  • The all of the behind the scenes people, working on processing information
  • To the media, striving for the balance of reporting with integrity, working within restrictions, minimizing public fears, and stressing the real dangers
  • To everyone who participated, provided tips, cooperation, and were obedient.
  • And to the townspeople who gratefully and enthusiastically cheered the exhausted forces who had worked so diligently to restore public safety and security.  Hearing those cheers last night brought chills.

Boston is a “mighty” great city, but Our Town is just too wonderful for words today.

Our Town
By Linda Picceri & Gail Dorey

I grew up in a town
When life was simple and folks were bound
To welcome you no matter where you’d go
Just an ordinary place
Everybody knew your face
And stopped to take the time to say hello
Somewhere inside the past
I learned a love for the ties that last
In the friendship and the memories
Of the people that I knew
In our town

Small town girls and small town boys
With city dreams and city toys
And families working hard to make ends meet
That’s how it is today
Things have changed since yesterday
But that hometown feeling lives on in the streets
What does it mean to be a part of a community
To share a common value
And a pride for who we are
In our town

For almost twenty years
I hit the road for my career
Didn’t know if I could come back to my town
Did I stay away too long
Could I still belong
Would I make it there a second time around
Going home is hard to do
When life has taken it all from you
But I found a new direction
And an old familiar faith
In our town

Summer Updates

You know how the say that multiple major changes in your life (moving, job change, health issues, relationship issues) can lead to stress that can lead to anxiety, sickness, depression in your life?   I think that a new category should be added to the list – technology updates. 

I recently went through a number of simultaneous “updates” in my life that caused me quite a bit of stress. 

The first change was the updating our work system from Windows 2000 to Windows 7.  I couldn’t attend the classes on the new system.   With deliverables due, I found that nobody knew how to do a Table of Contents, the printer didn’t work, the system kept erasing all of my links, the new system didn’t include programs that I used constantly, and I could not access the data system.  That caused me stress. 

The positive in this is that I had to learn how to learn quickly, but it was painful. 

Next, I switched from Verizon DSL to Comcast internet access.  I never realized the ramifications of changing my email address, after having one for a long time.  Notifying folks about my new email address was the easy part.  I then had to log into every service provider (a long list) and update my profile with the new address.  This included banks, airlines, libraries, and a laundry list of others.   There was also the matter of forwarding my web site email to my new email address. 

I had to submit for the “$100” rebate for switching to Comcast, which I have yet to see.   Then there was logging onto their system, learning their site works (i.e. my web mail, my voice mail, etc.)  

During this time, my friends moved to South Carolina.  They left me with a number of pictures, clothes to pass along to a friend in Mexico, and a bed.  The importing of the bed (and the corresponding furniture moves) mandates that I now find people to move my old couch out to the curb.  That is still on the list of things to do.  

I had scheduled time to hang the pictures with a friend, but we went to buy an Apple laptop instead.  After a month the pictures remain on the floor, as my assistant had to visit her parents out of state.  

Now let’s discuss the new Apple laptop. I took my friend’s advice and purchased the MacBook Pro complete with Apple Care and “Apple School” (the Apple one-to-one tutoring offered.   

When you buy an Apple product, they will move your files from your old machine to the new Apple laptop.  I went home, marked the connections on my desktop, and brought both computers to the Apple store.   About 30 minutes before pickup time they called to say that it would not be ready until the next day. Just another blip in life.   

I was eventually able to hook up the laptop and the router, but not the desktop or my old printer.   At my first Apple School session, I found out that their router would not work for my situation.  They also said that I was entitled to a new wireless printer with my purchase.    

The next day I returned the router to the Apple store with router.   However, the store had not included the router on the bill of sale.  I looked at the router and then at the sales person, and I slid the router over to him.  “Well, I didn’t buy it, so I don’t own it.    

The sales person got me the printer and showed me how to apply for the $100 rebate.   He also gave me a $100 gift certificate to buy Apple aps.  I don’t know if this was for my honesty or to get me started and addicted to Apple apps. 

I left the store a bought the router recommended by techy friends.   I was able to set this up with no problems.  

I started making progress with learning Apple.  At my next Apple School session, the teacher recommended that I download Apple’s new Lion operating system.  I obeyed.   That’s when I found out that Apple had reversed some of the hand commands.  So I had to learn the new commands on the new operating system.   

In the midst of this, I changed health care providers.    Logging onto a new site, locating claim forms, and submitting them, well it’s just one more new thing I had to learn and do. 

All of this is to say that I have had a lot of stress these last two months, and it was all caused be changes and updates.  Some other time I will tell you my experience in changing from a large national to a small local bank.   Guess which one follows and enforces every law? 

One more thing……I bought the Apple laptop for the recording software they include. However, I now must purchase a new microphone and a new/larger keyboard, to do the recording that I want.  Have I told you that I am too old for this?   

Technology appears to be the blessing, the curse, and a driving force for the remainder of our lives.  I had better find a way to enjoy the ride. 

God, Dad & Me

Periodically God amazes me, and reminds me of just how close he really is………………

My father was a singer and a disc jockey and he received many records to review.  Our home was full of albums and my dad used to write his name (“Ray Dorey”) in the upper left hand corner of each album.  When my good friends bought a house in Watertown some 15 years ago, they found one of my dad’s albums in the house and gave it to me.  I have kept it.

Last week, with all of the Father’s Day ads on TV and radio, I sent a prayer up to God: “God, please give my mom and dad a hug for me.”  Then I went about my business, doing my Saturday chores.

When I got home that afternoon there was a record at my back door.  It was from another Watertown friend.  She put a note on the record, saying that she was working on an estate sale that day, and came across this and thought that I might like it.  It was a Frank Sinatra album. 

When I peeled back her note, there was my father’s signature.  And the album title……….

“Look to Your Heart”.

For me, the timing was amazing and very telling.  God is close, and He hears us, and He loves us, and He pays attention to us, and He is aware of every detail in our lives – even when we don’t think so, even when he is silent, and even when it does not appear to be true.

This was a wonderful “nudge” from God (and a return hug from my folks) in a surprising way. 

– The estate sale just “happened” to have been at my family home growing up.

– The record just “happened” to have arrived on the same day I shot up a prayer about my parents.

– The album title just “happened” to be titled “Look To Your Heart”, the same day I just “happened” to have sent up a heartfelt prayer of love and appreciation.

I just happen to think that God is all around us and just happens to delight in us, and in surprising us, and in amazing us sometimes. 🙂

Gotta Love the Technology

So my printer dies, and I go printer shopping with my friend Dawn who knows all about setting up printers. That was yesterday.

Today I decided to try to quickly read my email before going out into the beautiful day. 

The printer program chimes in: “I want to check for Updates”.  “OK” says I, but my goodness – I just bought the thing and it already needs an update?

Then the McAfee anti-virus chimes in: “There is something fishy going on – do you want to stop it?” Now I KNOW it must be the HP download – but then I thought maybe something from cyberspace is trying to ride the wave. So I say – “stop it”. Then the HP download stops and has to start up again. Then I get the McAfee message again.  This time I tell McAfee to let it alone (“Fool me once …….”).

 Then McAfee starts talking to me: “It has been three days since we did a download and you are at great risk. Can we do a download?” 

Now I always thought that the McAfee program came and went at will so I was really surprised that it asked permission (for once) before doing something. (Has something changed on my PC that I don’t know about?  Huh – something is always changing on this computer.)

Three seconds later the McAfee pops back up: “Your Windows XP has an anti pop-up program that could interfere with the McAfee download. Do you want to turn it off? 


I take my chances that this program is just trying to bully me without reason so I say “NO!!” Luckily the program is able to download and install without further incident. (Did I mention that I was just trying to quickly read my email?)

Well – that ended today’s battle with the machines (Terminator 4). But there’s one more thing that reeeeeeeeally is bothering me.

My Windows XP recently asked for permission to check for updates every day at 3:00 AM. I sat and pondered this one for a long while, but I finally (and maybe foolishly) gave this computer permission to go cyber-surfing every day at 3:00 AM looking for things I know not about.

Now the machine is always churning away and doing something of which I have no idea. I often go by the machine and just wonder …………… “Whatever is it doing?”

In the final analysis – I must admit that I find myself living in fear.

I have become thoroughly convinced that ………

…………….I am living with “Hal”*.

* (From the movie 2001)

Do You Know Your Birds?

I was walking home from Cambridge tonight. Along the way, I noticed that the birds in the park I was passing were squawking very loudly. I imagined that they were enjoying the warm spring sun as much as I was and that they were “coming alive” into the season.

I kept walking.

I approached an elderly lady who was closely observing the birds. As I neared, she looked at me. I smiled, stretched out my hands wide and said “it’s a carnival of birds”. The woman was obviously not impressed by my unobservant and unknowing comment. She looked me straight in the eyes and said:

“Do you know your birds?”

Horror! Oh know! She knows!

She knows that I know nothing about birds. It must show. I have let the bird obsession of the last 15 years pass me by (along with everything else). I don’t own any bird books. I never taught kids which bird was which. I am a failure at feeding the birds; my bird feeders are empty. I don’t know seasonal migration patterns. I only learned 2 years ago how a mocking bird got its name.

She knows.

Or, perhaps was this some unknown ritual among walkers; a kind of one-ups-manship? Is this a truth or dare, or right to pass game I know nothing about? I have been locked up commuting in my car for 25 years. Anything’s possible.

I had to think fast. I had to pull on my vast experience with birds…..in East Watertown. Let’s see, pigeons. Yeah I know all about pigeons; but these weren’t pigeons. Little robin red-breast. Blue-blue jays. Cardinals are red, except when they’re not (the females). No – I will never pass this test.

But I know that call. Crows. They are crows. I know all about crows. I read This Present Darkness. (Actually I now think that all crows are physically inhabited by evil demons.)

I now had empirical data upon which I could build. I scanned the databases. I remembered one incident with crows 2 years ago (on the corner of Mt. Auburn Street and Arlington St. in…………..East Watertown). The crows were going crazy. There was an extremely large bird tearing the nest (and unfortunately the baby birds) apart and the crows were attacking it. The same chaos, the same sound, the same angry crow calls.

I locked and loaded and shot my answer with all the casual inflection of a Sunday afternoon walk: “Is it a hawk?”

The old lady turned and pointed: “over there in that tree”.

I had passed the test. I felt light and breezy, successful. The most important challenge of my day had been met. I was smart. Ain’t no stoppin’ me now baby.

Whew – that was close. The woman kept talking about the birds, the coloring of the tails, on and on. But I was on a tight schedule and couldn’t stay. Actually I knew if I stayed there would come a question I could not understand or answer. Must get away fast; escape now.

I smiled, responded and hurried on down the road. (Was I running?). She need never know that I was not really a player in the game. I just happened to have “been there, done that” with that one type of bird once before. I owned that one baby.

Close call.

But tomorrow is another day.

Say Good-Bye to Uncle Bob

On Tuesday my father’s brother died. He was in his 70s and had led a good, full life. He was a devout Catholic and worked at his faith, especially later in life. Uncle Bobby spent a lot of time with my family when I was growing up. He never married and, consequently, never settled down. He was the youngest in his family and his “Peter Pan” approach to life was very endearing to us younger nieces and nephews. He was an adult playmate.

Bobby loved to laugh. He drank, smoked, and laughed. God was gracious to give him the time he did as Bobby never did anything to take care of himself until much later in life. Even then the term “take care of himself” had a different meaning for him.

Bobby always shuttled from place to place and from relative to relative. He was like a blood vessel in the body – he moved around.   He was also a network for the family. In an era when everyone was scattered far and wide, he kept us in touch. We could depend on him for rides to the distant relatives, and they likewise. He carried news from house to house, kinda like a throw back to another time.

Bobby was a breath of fresh (although smoky) air when he arrived at the house. I could always smell him first. I could smell the smoke from my bedroom and would jump out of bed and run down to the kitchen to see my favorite uncle.

He was loud, he was big (although thin), he was fun, and he was love and life in motion. He slept in a bed in our attic. On the days when he arrived, he usually slept for 24 hours as he had been up the previous 36 partying. My mom would get our dog Penny to get bobby up when she had decided that he had slept enough.

How I envied him. He kept coming and going off with friends doing wonderfully mysterious things. I was too young to ever go anywhere, so I wanted to go really badly.

I am grateful for the times we shared. Bobby was so grateful for all the things my parents did for him. Our house was his home more than any place else. Not long ago he sent me a letter that I e-mailed to my brother and sisters. He was increasingly sentimental with age.

I remember the time in the 70s when he came to visit me. I made the mistake of leaving him alone with my stereo system. When I came home he told me it didn’t work. Somehow he did something, and the system never worked well again.

I remember one time he asked me to take him to my father’s grave. There was no marker on the grave and he was very upset. He made me stop at our family’s church on the way home to have a Mass said for my dad. I ended up in the church’s music group for 2 years.

After my father died and my mom (well we always called her “ma”) moved to California, Bobby had no place to land his feet in Boston. He traveled less often to Massachusetts. I met him once or twice in Milford visiting some of his friends.

He became the ultimate AA enrollee – it became his life’s work. I think he also stopped smoking. If he did the house in Burlington never lost the smoky feel from generations of smoke.

Bobby became affiliated with a group in Canada. I think they were priests or monks. He used to go up once a month and play cards with them. He had some serious God instruction from some of these folks. He loved them.

Bobby often talked about going to visit his pals Herman and Wolfgang in Germany. He definitely was going to Germany “next year”, but by boat. He would not fly.

He was a great sport. He allowed us to invade his house for some family reunion time in Vermont in 1993.

In 1992 I made a video of the extended Dorey family. I had to start with Bobby and his very large dog Pal. The temperature in the house was a mean 80 degrees. It was sub zero outside. He sent a dear message to my mother. I don’t remember if she ever got to see it.  I think she did.

Bobby was merciless in making fun of our French Canadian heritage – in the nicest of ways. He kept us laughing about ourselves.

Bobby called me 10 days before he died. In the old days we talked for 4 or 5 hours.  Don’t ask me who was crazier.  I think Bobby liked me because I was like him. Boy could we talk!

He talked about going to visit the monastery next month, spoke about his dog, his condition, and his surgery. He didn’t talk too long – he was on oxygen. He said his roommate had e-mail but he didn’t know his address.  I gave him mine and asked him to have his roommate write me.

You see – I don’t do letters, I do e-mail. I sent an e-mail to my family and asked them to contact him. I thought he was lonely. One sister had a package of pictures in the mail when he died. One had a package waiting to be mailed. I had a note on my shelf reminding me to write Bobby.  I never did – just another opportunity for giving blessings lost.

On behalf of my family, I say goodbye to Uncle Bobby, to the good and the imperfect.  His laugh, his humor, his kindnesses and love are silent from the world forever.  They are silent except in the hearts and minds of those whose lives he touched.  I’m sure Bobby is in heaven now, and he is probably trying to get God to turn up the heat.

In all God’s love,
The children of Ray and Lorraine Dorey

PS – I encourage everyone to stop where you are. Stop thinking all those distracting thoughts and pay attention to the now: where you are, whom you are with, and what you are doing. Remember that people are always more important than things, than work, play, music, deadlines, plans, everything. They are our work – they are our ministries – they are our mission field.

Take some time to appreciate the friends, family and people God has graced you with in life. Really look at them, and see them. They are far more precious than things, money, or anything else. They are fragile and just here on loan. Treat them as a precious gift, knowing their Maker watches and appreciates.

Uncle Bob – The Rest of the Story

I learned some things about my uncle at his funeral and I want to record them before they are lost.

Bobby loved to read, especially war and military stories. He was always telling his friends what books they should read.

Bobby grew into an incredible helper. Person after person told me of all the ways and times Bobby had helped them and others.

One man said he felt as if an angel had touched him. A woman said that Bobby stood by her for 7 years while she struggled to attain lasting sobriety in her life. There is a parade of people who have lived or stayed in Bobby’s house.

One man told me that Bob was personally responsible for the improvement in the lives of 60 men and their families. They also said that Bob was an integral and part of the AA community in the entire area, one who could not be easily replaced.

Bobby carried his wandering spirit into the world of AA. He never locked in on just one meeting; he attended different meeting at different locations. The AA crowd actually tagged him with a name for this (which I forgot to write down.)

Bobby also kept his rule breaker heart. A few of us laughed together that Bobby brought us all to a closed AA meeting. I remember him saying after the meeting I attended “I’m gonna catch hell for this.” Maybe Bob thought a little hell in his life was good.

Bobby loved pictures.There were photographs everywhere in his house. None of them was labeled.

Bob’s friends from Milford once came to visit him in Burlington. They went to a very classy restaurant for dinner.  Bobby ordered his dinner last – and ordered it to go. You see – they had chosen Friday night to visit and – there was a card game that night. That was a sacred thing to Bob. When he got outside Bobby realized that he had forgotten something. He rapped on the window to get the attention of the table by the window, to get those people to get his friends’ attention.

The son of the Milford couple told me how Bobby once lived in part of their house. He also told me that Bobby had taught him to pray.

The wife of my cousin told me that Bob got her husband sober. “If he didn’t, I could not have married him.” We all cried at the funeral.

She also told me that Bobby would speak with her about angels and other such things. She would miss their conversations.

Bob never lost his feisty and cantankerous nature. Although he regularly took people into his home to live, he regularly threw then out, and then would ask them to come back. He stayed “spirited” until the end.

Bobby would encourage anyone. He was extremely accepting and non-judgmental. He worked in the trenches with and for people and allowed them to call him at any hour.

Bob was sober for 24 years after drinking for 35 years. He had to fight to keep away from alcohol. That fight gave him a minister’s heart when it came to other AA members.

There was one last card game 10 days before he died. Bobby was still laughing heartily.

I took the pages Bobby had on the wall of his bathroom. This was his word of encouragement for himself, and for whomever else entered his home.

“Look to the day!
For it is life, the very life of life.
For yesterday is already a dream, and
Tomorrow is only a vision;
But today, well lived, makes every
Yesterday a dream of happiness,
And every tomorrow a vision of hope.”

“Counting your blessings is an art which requires a deliberate decision – a decision to…

        Think of the love you’ve received, not the hate.
        Think of the smiles you’ve seen, not the frowns.
        Think of the praise you’ve been given, not the hurts.
        Think of the healing that’s taken place, not the wounds.
        Think of the good you’ve done, not the bad.
        Think of the prayers you’ve offered, not the distractions.
        Think of God’s forgiveness, not your guilt.
        Think of the laughter, not the tears.
        The secret of joy is found in a grateful heart.”

Bob is buried in the Randolph VA Cemetery – exit 4 on route 89. Stop by whenever you are in the neighborhood. If you look closely, there might even be a card game happening.

The Wedding

So I attended the wedding of somebody from my church today. I was on the dance floor for all of 10 minutes – then they said: “All of the single ladies out on the dance floor for the throwing of the bouquet.” I tried to gracefully slip away when Sarah would have none of it and insisted I stay on the floor.

I gingerly put my left foot on the dance floor and stood in the far back and said: “See? I’m on the dance floor.”

I was concerned however that I was in the back of THE CENTER of the dance floor and somewhat in the line of fire.

The bride let rip the bouquet. Up, up it sailed……over everybody’s head. I saw it coming……..straight for my head. I did my normal thing…..I closed my eyes. The bouquet bounced off my head and fell into my hands. I opened my eyes and……I guess you would have to say I caught the bouquet. Nobody tried harder not to catch the bouquet.

Then there is the issue of really bad hair days in a very humid environment.

“Well”, said I, “how much can it really matter what my hair looks like anyway?”

You guessed it. I caught the bouquet and they ushered me up for a photo session with the bride.

Captured for all eternity.

Just another typical Dorey Story day attending the wedding.

The Free Phone

The ear piece for my cell phone died recently, so I went to Best Buy to get a new one.  They didn’t have an ear piece for my old phone, but they informed me that I was eligible for a free phone upgrade. 

I settled on a phone that is also an MP3 player and decided to add more memory.   I bought the phone and the extra memory and Best Buy had AT&T transfer everything over to the new phone.   

Then I discovered that Best Buy didn’t have any accessories for the new phone.  My new “free” phone required me to go to the AT&T store to buy:

– A case –
– A car charger –
– An ear piece –
– Ear phones for the MP3 player –
– The cord to load the songs from the computer to the phone –

I decided not to buy the warranty.

A few days later a woman at work told me that her sister got the same phone at Costco and they got all the accessories for free.  I went to Costco and confirmed that this was in fact the case.

I went back to Best Buy to return the phone.  This was an extremely long process.  It was as if nobody at AT&T knew how to reverse the transaction on their computer.   Eventually Best Buy told me that I was all set.

I started thinking that I should just go to another store and buy an ear piece, but I went back to COSTCO to get the phone with the accessories.  At COSTCO I was informed that AT&T’s records still showed that I had a new phone (the one that I had returned).  COSTCO gave me a rain check for the phone I wanted and told me that “the package” ended that day. 

Frustrated, I went to Radio Shack to buy an ear piece for my old phone.

It took another trip to Best Buy and two calls to AT&T over 10 days to get my records corrected.   The new ear piece didn’t work well.  I had to return it.

I decided to use the rain check and get the new phone at COSTCO.   That same day I got a letter in the mail that my Costco membership expired.

I went Costco and updated my membership.  Then I went to buy the phone with the rain check.  I paid for the phone only to find out that COSTCO no longer had that phone in stock.  I had to get a checkout supervisor to do a refund for the transaction.

I went back to the cell phone display booth and selected a phone that they did have in stock.  Actually it was the original phone that I purchased at Best Buy.  However the new phone now cost $20, as the price had increased.

The sales clerk (a really new sales clerk) told me that I needed to submit forms to AT&T to get the rebate.  I went through the checkout line, paid for the phone, got the new phone and went back to the cell phone booth to have them set up the phone service.

At the booth the sales supervisor said it was not a mail in rebate but an instant rebate.  The now frazzled sales clerk rewrote the slip and took me back to the checkout supervisor to credit my account for the rebate.  The checkout supervisor (the same one) now labeled me as “This poor woman”.

Then I made a huge mistake.  I did not look closely at the rebate transaction completed by the supervisor.

I smiled at the frazzled sales clerk and said that I would be back.  I knew that I was in the middle of an epic saga and I told her “Something is going wrong as we speak.  I just don’t know what it is yet.”  She laughed, I laughed and I left with my new phone.  I confirmed that it worked when I got out of the store.

When I got home THEN I noticed that COSTCO had only given me a $45 rebate and not the $100 rebate.

The next day I called the cell phone booth at COSTCO.  I asked if “Dave” (the supervisor) was there and was told that his girlfriend had just had a baby and he was out indefinitely.  Then I asked for the sales clerk who had done the transaction and was told that she did not show up for work.  I think that she quit or was fired and I think it was my transaction that did it.

I eventually got the new cell phone salesperson to go through their records and confirm that the sales clerk had indeed given me the wrong rebate the day before.

I left work early and drove back to Costco.  After lots of explanations, conversations, filling out forms and waiting in line the Costco Customer Service staff decided that I was due $70 – but nobody knew how to do the transaction.  Eventually they decided to give me cash.  (Cash works for me.)

Two weeks later I got the American Express bill and I was FINALLY able to verify that all the transactions were correctly recorded.  I had called American Express to confirm this, but could not rest until I saw the actual bill.

It’s over.  It’s finally over!   I can put this whole thing behind me.  Now all I have to do is read the 161 page manual that came with the new phone.

Ironing the Blouse

I was supposed to sing in a church in Middleton on Friday night. It was a CD release concert for a band where I was the bass player/singer. I had been very stressed and quite busy at work and I had not had any time to go shopping. Alice had asked me if I had an outfit picked out for the concert. I felt the pressure.

I left work at 3:15 on Friday and went straight to the mall. God would provide. I went to J. Jill, as Alice had found her outfit so how could I possibly go wrong with the same store.

I purchased a blouse, but it needed to be ironed. I called Alice, but she was already at the church. Peter was also at the church, but he suggested that I go to his house to iron and he would call his wife and give her a heads up.

“Great, it’s on the way to the church. See you soon.”

I raced over to Peter’s house. By now I am running a little late and know I must move very quickly. I pulled up to the house and grabbed my things. I got to the door, rang the bell and a strange face met me at the door.

I figured that Peter’s mom must be watching the kids and Laurie must have stepped out.

Now Peter certainly would have told me that his mother was watching the kids and not Laurie, but I did not let logic or reason stop me. I pressed on.

“Oh hi – did Peter call and say I was coming over? I need to iron my blouse for the concert tonight.”

“No he didn’t.”

Then there was that moment of hesitation. “Oh – I really need to iron this blouse for tonight.”

“OK – come on in.”

I walked into their split level house with all my “stuff” in tow. As I walked up the steps and into the living room I noticed that the furniture was “rearranged”. [Hum…..This is different, but I like it.]

I was walking slowly with all my things while my hostess had gone ahead, set up the ironing board and was filling the iron.

Then I noticed that the living room furniture was different and I thought – they must have bought some new pieces. Then I noticed that the dining area was different. Then I ducked my head into the kitchen and IT HIT ME FULL FORCE………. I was in the wrong house.

Now I can’t exactly remember my feelings at that point, but I tried to move quickly.

“Oh my. I am so sorry – I’m in the wrong house. Do the Vantines live next door?”


“Oh, I am really sorry (and maybe I’m feeling like an idiot, too). I’ll leave now.”

“Oh no – you’re here and the iron is all set up.”

“Are you sure?” (What do you say to somebody at this point?)

“It’s fine.”

“OK,” I said sheepishly.

Oh boy did I feel really strange. Not half so much like a fool as I just felt totally disoriented. There I was ironing, dressing, putting in contacts, and doing makeup in a strange house.

I finally asked the name of my hostess. “Barbara,” she said.

“Barbara – why did you ever let me into your house?”

“Well I figured that maybe they had lost their power; and …….. it was company.”

I slipped in a couple of hints about the concert in case she felt inclined for more “company” or to see what this crazy person was up to.

Barbara said “Look at the funny story you can tell Peter and Laurie.”

“If you ever knew my life Barbara, you would know just how well this incident fits in.”

I said my thanks (can you possibly get out of the house gracefully at this point) and slipped out into the outside world. Of course I went next door to tell Laurie the whole story. LAURIE CRACKED UP.

Maybe this is a purpose in my life – to make people laugh. Whatever, I just put it down as another Dorey Story. I hope that you smiled and maybe even laughed just a little. Life is short. Take some time to savor the humor.

I am still shaking my head and wondering how I could go to the wrong house. I have been at Peter’s house 10 times. Maybe 20 is the magic number for me.

When I saw Peter I told him my story.

“How can I get it wrong? It’s the last house on the street.”

“No Gail, it’s not the last house on the street.”

Barbara died within a year of this incident. At her wake her children had a good laugh about the time their mother let a stranger into her house to iron a blouse.

How I Spent My Christmas Vacation

Reflections on my Trip to Texas and Indiana

A friend once asked me if I had learned how to exhaust myself for other people. I thought it a strange question at the time. A decade and a half later I find that I am only beginning to understand the scope of that question and the implications in my response to it. On Christmas Day I flew to Texas to begin a journey with my sister Carol. I went to help her drive her car from Tyler, Texas to Fort Wayne, Indiana and then to help her take care of her son Matt’s twin baby girls (4 weeks old). Here are a few random (very random) thoughts and reflections about this trip.

  • On Monday (the day after Christmas) in Texas we went to a 5:30 aerobics class and then hit the road to start the drive at 6:45. This was late by Carol’s standards. After driving for three hours we stopped to change drivers. I almost fell out of the car as my joints had locked after exercising and then driving for three hours. Carol bolted out of the care without a problem. She’s 64 years old and can out-pace almost everyone I have ever known.
  • Sometimes in life you know you are doing the right thing at the right time and that it is blessed. That was this trip. I got to see all four of my sister’s kids (from three different states) and their families. I do believe that Woody Allen is correct: “90% of life is just showing up.” My “just showing up” did make a difference.
  • I had zero problems on this trip. If the trip had been 4 days earlier or 6 days later the roads would have been a snow-covered mess in the mid west this year. (Thanks Lord!)
  • Carol and I are your worst nightmare in a motel. We bounded out of bed @ 4:30 AM. Both of us are (unfortunately) also members of the Loud Family.
  • My oldest sister is definitely a free spirit and will self confess many inadequacies – but does she ever know babies and speak baby and have the magic touch! She is also an amazing person who will turn herself inside out for her family.
    Corrie Ten Boom once said that she thought that her sister was from another planet because she was such a better person than Corrie. I think that my sister is also from that same planet.
  • I got to know my sister (who is 10 years older than I am) better while on the road (driving from Tyler, TX to Fort Wayne, IN) and while attending to the twins.
  • Music is definitely a tie that binds and during this trip I was reminded how much music has been a strong force in our family. My voice and my sister’s voice are quite well matched. I remembered how we used to sing (with my other sister) – “Pretty Snowflakes” from the Peggy Lee Christmas album along with other songs.
  • In Texas we had also had a sing along with Carol’s daughter Debbie Sue and her daughter Christine. On the road Carol had a CD of Rogers and Hammerstein musicals. We sang the whole CD and Carol knew the words to almost every song.
  • We showed up in Indiana 4 hours early. Matt was soooooo grateful as Tina was totally exhausted and was in tears when we got there. We were each assigned a baby as soon as we arrived. I got “Princess Grace” as Carol like to refer to her. Tina went straight to bed.
  • It is such a rejuvenating experience to have new life snuggle and coo and maneuver so that they can fall asleep in the best place in the whole world – right over your heart.
  • I do believe that my family is made up of a group of peculiar individuals. We are at home with the road less traveled, possibly never traveled, could be it’s a road that nobody even knows exists or maybe it’s not a road at all. However, this trip caused me to ponder some of the really wonderful things that my family has done for each other and for the family over the years:
  • My sister Linda hired two of Carol’s kids for a summer each to babysit her daughter while in Phoenix.
  • I lent my nephew Andy money to buy his first car, which he totaled. He paid me every penny, as calculated by my brother Fred. I loved the note that Andy enclosed with his last payment: “Thanks for the loan Aunt Gail. I’ll be in touch when I want to buy a house.”

    • My niece Nicki’s husband Chris spent a semester with my brother in LA while working on his thesis.

    • My brother brought me on many vacations with his family.

    • My sister Carol spent a week sitting in the hospital with me when I had surgery.

    • We have all sent money to one another as needed without being asked or without expectations.

    • Linda wrote a biography of our dad in 2004.

    • My niece Debbie Sue lived with me for five months when she was 15.

    • My brother sent my sister Linda his piano for her son.

    • My sister Linda researches everything for everyone.

    • We have all prioritized getting together over the last three decades.

    • When Linda hurt her back I went to Arizona to help her pack and move the family, as her husband had already left to start a new job. I took the kids to the doctor one day. Her daughter threw up all over me.

    • For one of our family reunions we all paid so that Carol’s kids could fly to California.

    • When my nephew Matt was selling knives we all bought a set. Have you ever seen me cook?

    • When I got out of college, my sister Linda let me live at her apartment and helped me to find a job and got me to deposit into deferred compensation and …. and…

    • Linda and I drove all over California and New England gathering videos of our relatives for a video of my dad’s relatives. We distributed it to the whole family. It was a great thing – especially for my father’s siblings.

    • The whole family hosted two reunions for our cousins, who we hadn’t seen in decades.
  • Two days after I arrived home I was in a store and heard a baby start to cry. I went into high alert and had to remind myself that I was not on “baby duty” anymore.
  • This trip was an amazing journey into a new world for me – a world where going to bed means “taking a nap”.

    It’s now 2008. I had thought that this road trip was a meaningful bonding experience between sisters. At our family reunion this summer I found out that my sister didn’t remember that I had spent Christmas with her family and had driven from Texas with her. Oh well – for me it was still time very well spent.

I’ll Make Time for You

I think I always wanted to make a CD, but my experiences in the recording studio have been awful.  I’m the one who can’t sing on key and can’t seem to make my voice blend with the other voices when the “Record” button is pressed.  I’ve been in the studio about 10 times and I never felt good about it.

When Peter opened his studio in 2004 I thought that maybe I could do it, maybe I could make a CD.  I did manage to record one of my songs in 2006; but the goal was really to get my friend into the studio to record his songs.  I stopped after the one song.

In 2007 Peter announced that he was closing his studio at the end of the summer.  Time was running out.  As the months passed and time was really running out, I gingerly sent an email asking if I could make a recording of my songs before he closed the studio.  (I didn’t even have the courage to ask one of my best friends face to face.  Hum.)

Of course he said yes, we picked the songs to record and we set to work immediately.  It was May.  Very quickly it became apparent that Peter would play the piano parts; he plays so beautifully and he gets it right on the first take.  I don’t and I couldn’t.

When we started I vaguely remember telling Peter “You make all the decisions and I write the checks.”  That’s how I (very wisely) hired him as an arranger and producer.  I came to the studio before and after work and took vacation time when necessary.

As the months went on I worried.  (I always worry and it’s a bad habit).  I worried that we were running out of time.  I knew that Peter was closing his recording studio, had to move and sell his equipment and was starting a new job as a Music Director and as a teacher (his first classroom teaching job).  This was a huge deal and I could only wonder at the pressure of all of these transitions.

I could not imagine that he would have enough time to do it all.  One day I said that I was afraid that I had waited too long and that we would run out of time.  That’s when Peter said the most amazing thing I have heard in years: “I’ll make time for you.”

There was something about that phrase.  It was music to me.  It was powerful.  It was truth.  It was love.  I thought about it and thought about it and I couldn’t let it go.  It had such an impact on me.

In our society people have learned that it is good to say “I love you”.  People do say it more often and that is good.  But it’s hard to measure how much truth there is when someone says these words.  Do they really mean it?  What do they mean when they say it?

I think that in our ever-so-busy culture, “I’ll make time for you” is in some respects more important than “I love you”.  It’s tangible, measurable and powerful.  When Peter said these words I knew that he meant it and that he would do it and just how much it would cost him.  I was amazed and humbled and my respect for him grew immensely.  I had known that we were good friends before this, but this five word sentence spoke volumes to me.

Later when I repeated this story to someone they said: “Is time your love language?”  I hadn’t thought about it, but I guess that time is my love language.  Words and promises have proved so meaningless over the years that I think they are wasted on me now.  Gifts don’t impress me, as I don’t really need or desire more “stuff”.  I’m even paring down.

I think that what I treasure most is T-I-M-E.

Time spent with good people is at the top of the list.  I’m completely put off by our multi-tasking culture, and unfortunately I am guilty in this area.  I would rather share a chore or a workload with a friend then have only “part” of someone’s attention.  The cell phone and the computer have altered and disrupted friendships in a huge way and we’re often reduced to cyber contact, even with our good friends.

As I have continued to ponder these words over the last year they both resonate and are convicting.  Who are the people in my life that I will make time for?  Could I say these words to God?  Do I make time for God?  Is He at the top of my list, or do I just fit Him in?

“I’ll make time for you” impacted me in a big way.  I bet that God would be impressed if we believed, said and did that for Him.  Just think what He’d do for the ones who did this for Him?

If these five words speak love to me, something deep inside of me knows that they also say “I love you” to God in a real and visible way.  Will you say “I’ll make time for you” to God today?

And I Was Doing So Well

Painting in September 2008

Did you ever see how little kids look after they eat chocolate cake?  How they get it everywhere and then mom & dad grab the camera for the photo op?  That’s how I am with paint; I get it everywhere.

I have a friend (Jack) who is a master painter.  I’ve thought of having him make a video of me painting to teach people how NOT to paint.  The sad thing is that I don’t seem to improve in this (lack of) skill with age.

I know that “I can do all things through Him who strengthens me”, but I keep having to relearn the reverse: I can do nothing apart from Him who strengthens me.  I wrote the song Seek God’s Face in Prayer so you would think that I would know to ask for help first; but I’m not there yet.

Yesterday I started my annual outside painting ritual: paint the cellar door (that’s the basement door for non-New Englanders), the back porch and the front porch railing.  It was the normal big deal that it always is for me, but I got through it.  Today I had decided to whip through the second coats and then go to work.

All was going according to plan.  I finished painting by 9 AM and I was doing so well that I forgot that I am me.  I started thinking that I was getting pretty good with this painting thing and that it’s no bid deal.  (“Pride goeth before the fall…..?”)

Instead of going through the cellar, I brought the paint supplies in through the front door.  I was gathering the supplies to take them “down cellar” when I overestimated my capacity.  I tried to make it in one trip.  That’s when I discovered that I had not put the paint cover on correctly.  I dropped the can and it opened.  The paint landed on the rug, the wooden floor, the cellar door and, of course, on me.

Step one was shock: “What do I do?”  Step two was to call work and let them know that I was going to be late.  Since the paint was on me, everywhere I went I left a paint trail.  It was on my ear phones, my CD case, my clothes, the bathroom sink, the kitchen sink and cabinets.  This was spreading like poison ivy.

I know that you put kitty litter in old paint in cans to absorb the paint, so I threw kitty litter on the paint on the floor.  I don’t really know this did any good, but it was already a mess.  I decided that the rug was totaled.  I had wanted to replace it anyway.

Steps three through twenty involved lots of paper towels, water, sponges and lots of repetition.

It’s all cleaned up now.  I’m just pausing before going to work, as it was a bit traumatic for me.  I’m wondering what lessons I can learn from this.  Sadly, my memory works in new and different ways every day so I don’t know if learning is still an option.  I am thinking of asking Jack if he has a video on “painting for beginners”.

I really need to paint the inside of my house.  After today I’m thinking that maybe I should get a second job and hire someone else to do it.

The Funeral Was Well Attended

The Closing of Phillips Church in Watertown, MA, October 2007

Years ago I remember the departure of the pastor of my church.  There was the traditional last service and a dinner followed.  At the table one of the attendees noted that “The funeral was well attended”.  Some people were sad at his leaving and some were mad.  That person was glad.

There is a lot of emotion when a pastor leaves a church.  It thrusts the church into the unknown.  It can bring about reflection about the tenure of the pastor.  What did and didn’t happen, what could have been, should have been.  “If only” …….

Yesterday I attended the “funeral” of Phillips Church in Watertown.  The church is closing and combining with another church.  There was a service, reflection on the church’s history, music and a prolonged “passing of the peace”.  But despite the fact that the brass quartet played a rousing version of “When The Saints Go Marching In” at the end of the service, I was experiencing the death of a church.

Walking into the church evoked so many memories I started to tear up but remembered “No crying until after I have finished singing my solo”.   I stopped attending Phillips Church 10 years ago and there were many faces to see this day, and many that were missing. One attendee who had also left Phillips church said that she was reflecting on her possible contributions to the death of the church in what she did or did not say or do.  That one made me think.

The church closing reminded me of how I came to Phillips 20 years ago.  On my second visit to Phillips my friend and I sat in the next to the last pew – the quick exit seats.  By “God-incidence” the choir director and the lead soprano were sitting in the pew in front of us.  When the service ended they turned around and asked us to join the choir.  I sang in the choir for 11 years. At the final Phillips Church service one of my choir directors was there along with other choir members.  We all sang/played during the service.  We hugged and traded stories and said we should get together.

After the service and some chatting with people I walked around the building – my last walk.  I don’t ever remember saying goodbye to a place in my life that I really cared about.  When my parents sold my childhood home I was away in college, so there was no tearful looking into empty rooms. This time there were tears.  Each room was filled with memories of those 11 years.  There was the kitchen – where I spent hours washing dishes.  There were the many meals and meetings that we had in the lower fellowship hall.

There was the auditorium with the stage, the movie projection room, and the offices surrounding the second floor.  Here we produced countless concerts, dinner theater, the Pirates of Penzance, Godspell, Agnes of God, and many other productions.  I remember the many rehearsals.  I remember the wedding receptions there. Eric reminded me of when Robin and Linda hung sound baffles in the auditorium with bungee cords.  God was good, as they could easily have fallen and killed someone.

There was the room downstairs where I stored my furniture for a month before I moved into my house.  This was also the rehearsal room of the “Intermission” music ministry.  There was the room where we stored the drums for the band. There was the room where the people were rehearsing the night lightning struck the church.  They were thrown on the floor (no injuries), as the lightning traveled through the church, blew out the sound system and blew off the top of the steeple.  There had been a recent disputed decision NOT to upgrade the sound system – then lightning struck.  We always thought that God had overruled the decision.

There was the replacement sound system we named “Sputnik”, as it looked like a space craft.  There were the ceiling fans – I remember when five minutes after church ended the fan dropped onto the pews.  It also could have killed someone.  (Thank you God one more time). There was the “counting room” where we had endless tense discussions on the Finance Committee about money.  How could a church with a million dollar endowment fund have had so many problems with money?

There was the MacDonald room with its wonderful fire place and grand piano.  We had many meetings and small concerts there.  I remember David and Lisa’s wedding day.  Someone was playing the piano, the fire was going, there were hors d’oeuvres and the spirits were very high. They had wanted a country wedding theme so they had brought in bales of hay.  This of course broke every fire law in the town.

There was the Pastor’s office – how many meetings we had in there.  I remembered the year I almost had a nervous breakdown.  I remember sitting speaking with the pastor, holding onto my secrets.  There was also fun and laughter there.  We used to go through the office to get to the choir pews. This church is huge – bell tower, attics all over the place.  There are four or five pianos in the building.  There is an indoor gym, a million little closets and rooms.  There are five stairways to the basement.  It is a big place.

Then there is the sanctuary – I remember when the pastor of six years left.  I did not really know how to grieve so I cleaned the sanctuary.  Other’s joined me in the cleaning.  We polished all of the pews and started washing the walls.  We remembered the day Robin almost fell off the ladder trying to clean the walls.

I remember the first service when we decided to introduce a drummer and have “a band” on Easter Sunday.  We started rehearsing on Friday.  I had to queue the drummer.  Did I forget to mention that he was blind?  That also reminds me of the time I walked the drummer home (he lived across the street) and I took him to the wrong house.  I have this problem of going to the wrong house in my life…….  Oh yes – I also walked him into a tree and discovered why blind people wear protective gear, for people like me.

In the Phillips sanctuary I experienced the best worship of my life – intimate, loud, personal, quiet.  Was it the energy of youth, the music, the acoustics or the Steinway piano?  You were never alone singing in that sanctuary.  I cried, prayed and sang there like I never have since.  On this last day I cried, prayed and sang one last time. I remember how I used go to the sanctuary in the early morning.  I would sing and play the piano at dawn (my favorite time).  I also loved dusk.  I would often play into the dark and let the street lights shine in for light.

I remember the day I thought I was going to get fired and I met Eric at the Sanctuary at 5:30 AM.  There’s no worship like desperate worship!  With no pretense or distraction it was just a desperate reaching for God and what a tangible outpouring of His blessing, grace and protection I experienced that day.  I’ve never known the like since.

There were so many great times in the choir pews.  Tom Whately (aka the class clown) could “throw his voice” and would always make us laugh.  There were so many great singers – Linda, Nancy, Eric, Robin, Merv, Tom, Bob Pardon, Kristen, David, Lisa, Todd, Bob Devivo (the best alto I know), Marian and Bess Hughes who sang so softly but she ALWAYS sang the right notes.  There was so much great music.

There’s was Eric’s “off” day of playing of the Doxology.  It was so bad that the pastor could not stop laughing through prayer time.  I remember when Eric was directing the Alleluia.  We could never sing that song right in practice.  During the Easter service the song was so perfect and the sound was so pure that Eric started crying while directing the song.  Most of the choir broke down after the song ended.

The choir was the heartbeat of Phillips church for me.  I had wonderful choir directors (Eric, Lisa, Dave and Lisa again) and great music.  I remember the Easter Sunday “chick band” (when all the male singers/musicians) had departed.  Lisa gave us all chicks that Sunday. I remember one member of the choir who played piano but did not like spontaneous requests.  Once I asked him to play on a “country song” the morning of the service and he became nervous and agitated and immediately said “No”.  Later he agreed and asked if we would prefer “Country piano from the 50s or the 70s”.  He played flawlessly.  He could take your breath away with his talent.

I will never forget the Christmas concert when we closed by singing an unrehearsed “We Wish You A Merry Christmas”.  People afterward said they liked the way we faded in and out.  In truth: Nobody knew the song. I remember singing the Seven Fold Amen with the choir standing all around the sanctuary.  We could not hear each other and we were singing to the echoes.  I remember the day that I was singing a duet Eric wrote with my roommate and we showed up (separately) wearing the exact same outfit.  (They did not call us the Quimby Twins for nothing you know.)

I remember when one pastor gave a four month sermon series on “sheep”?  The choir director had to dig deep to keep finding sheep songs.  (How many times did we sing My Shepherd Will Abide With Me?) I remember singing in the dark in the balcony during Holy Thursday services.  I remember Bud Rockwell sounding like the booming voice of God behind us that nearly scared us to death.  I remember being stunned the first time I heard Merv sing.  It was breathtaking!

I remember being in the “technically inept” class where Linda desperately tried to teach us the basics of sound system setup so we could be of some use when the ministry band was on the road. I remember how when all the people who knew about the sound equipment had left the church, everyone came to me with their technical problems (like I had a clue).  I remember the pastor asking me to fix the VCR.  (I was clueless.)  I tried five times unsuccessfully.  I gave up and prayed over the machine.  It worked perfectly.  (I’m a believer!)

I remember when the church got a cordless mike.  They gave it to the interim pastor “turned on” right before he went into the men’s room.  The sound system worked just fine that day! I remember jumping up during prayer time to take the cordless mike all around the church so that the pastor (who had poor hearing in one ear) could hear the prayer requests.  I also used to light the candles before the service.

I was a member of this church for 11 years.  There was a lot of living that took place in this building.  My mother died while I was here.  I met some wonderful people and made some great friend there. I also went through many meetings, committees, parties and discussions there. I could state my opinion as to when and how the church died, but only God knows.   They spent all of their assets in the last few years to support their expanded programs – pastor’s salary, youth, choir, music directors and programs.  They attracted many people and lots of kids, but not the kind of people that tithe and not the number of people necessary to support such a massive structure.

I did not sleep well last night.  Maybe there were just too many memories to process and too much emotion.  I never saw the death of a church before. My current pastor said that there are life cycles to churches.  Our church was able to buy a church building, because one church was ending and selling their building.  A second church converted their assets into a bank for churches to buy church buildings.  This information is comforting, as I witness the death of Phillips Church.

Maybe someone will come along and buy Phillips Church, but I tend to doubt it.  Most churches that are looking for a building are not likely to take on one as old and in need of repair as this one.  It is possible only if God wills it. I have said goodbye to Phillips Church, but I am not yet at peace.  I will ponder a little longer how I contributed to the death of a church, how I can live better from my experiences and what I should carry forward from my time there. I wish the Phillipsians the best as they combine with another church.  I will mourn the passing of this wonderful church building from my history.  If it follows the pathway of the other closed churches in town, I expect to see condos on that block some time in the future.

A Tribute to Lorraine Dorey

With Love by her children: Carol, Fred, Linda and Gail.
For those who knew her only through others and those who knew her well…

– A believer in God and Jesus Christ.
– A mother who loved her children.
– Devoted to our father her whole life.
– Devoted to family without regret.
– Very easy to know.
– In love with all children.
– A person who loved to laugh.
– A person with a very big heart.
– Very spiritual in her own way.
– Very kind and patient.
– A very shy lady who was married to a very public person.
– Insecure, especially abouy her intelligence.
– A quiet thinker.
– Appreciative of the little things.
– Very concerned for others.
– Not prejudiced against anyone.
– A good sport.
– A person who tried.
– An amazing innocent.
– One of the funniest people we ever met.
– Concerned about being a burden to other people.
– A lover of people.
– A person more concerned with other people than herself.
– Not great about being self disciplined.
– Not financially sophisticated.
– Very gullible.
– A supporter of her family.
– A young spirit in an aging body.
– Forgiving.
– A person who seldom asked for anything.
– Proud, yet humble and meek.
– Easily tricked.                                                           
– A simple person with a childlike faith.  
– Considerate.
– A person with a good sense of humor.
– Full of Love.
– The matriarch of a clan who loved each other and loved her very much.
– Ahead of her time: She raised her kids on spring water and they were not allowed to sit in the sun which would cause skin cancer.
– A conciliator.
– Very concerned about doing the right thing, but never knew what the right thing was.
– At times a “stubborn Frenchman”.
– Generous and self sacrificing.
– A survivor.
– A good cook who loved spicy spaghetti sauce.
– A little girl.
– A quiet person who gave birth to four very loud children.
– Methodical, despite the chaos created by her kids.
– Organized (and boy did she appreciate her pill organizer).
– Dutiful.

Her Childhood Was Very Difficult
– A little girl who could get anything she wanted from her dad.
– In an orphanage for 7 years after her father died (when she was 8 years old)  and her mother had to go to work.
– Only able to speak and visit with her mother and brothers for a few hours once every three weeks while in the orphanage.
– She spent a year in a boarding school in Canada.
– Second cousin to our father.  They met through the efforts of their mothers.
– Initially not attracted to him because he wore old clothes.
– Employed at an ice cream parlor and a dentist’s office before she married dad.
– Married at 19 with a baby by 21.
– Lived alone in New York City with two kids while our dad was singing with Benny Goodman. 
– “The most beautiful woman in Burlington” according to our Uncle Bob.
– She never stopped mourning the death of her younger brother Bernie at the end of the war. 
– Her always looking to see if she had her keys.
– How she was always looking for her glasses even after she began keeping them on a chain around her neck.
– She was always loosing her contact lenses.
– How lucky the world was that she never learned to drive.
– She would believe anything you told her.
– Her remark after dad died that she would have more money if she could only get a credit card.
– Her great support of Hallmark Cards Inc.
– Her love of movies.
– Her love of 100% cotton house dresses.
– That she was a big fan of Michael Landon, and loved a good cry over “Highway to Heaven” and “Little House on the Prairie”.
– Her baking muffins for her son to sell on Sunday for the Missions fund (until he broke her oven).
– The time she called up the bank to find out her balance, and talked to the bank teller for an hour on the phone about life and other matters.
– That despite being very shy she would always talk to anybody sitting next to her on a bus or plane.
– Her best friend for years was our dog, Penny.  They used to dance in the house.
– A big fan of movie magazines, scandal newspapers, and People magazine.
– A listener of talk radio.
– Someone thrilled and charmed by her grandchildren
– Her great recipe for meat loaf (kill it with cranberry sauce).
– Our father’s TV and game partner.
– Someone always willing to try new things.  One night when my father was snoring she whistled in between his snoring. She had read that this would cure snoring… it didn’t.  She tried other cures too.
– A supporter of beauty parlors across the country.
– A mother much shorter than all her children.
– Her ability to take a joke well, but never able to repeat one.
– A fan of Oil of Olay.
– Her tolerance. She and my father used to let us have HUGE pool parties that lasted 12 hours.  (Well that was mostly Gail). Our father would cook all day and my mother would have to drag him away from the party.
– How easily she would misinterpret things. One day she was with some people in a car and saw a sign “Hotel One Block” and remarked what an unusual name for a hotel.  Another time she saw herself in a mirror in a restaurant and said, ‘Look, that woman is wearing the same sweater I am.’
– A secret admirer of red. She always wore a red shirt when she went out to the movies.
– A lover of lobster, a Friday night tradition at our house.
– How she always missed the house on Bates Road where we grew up.
– How she loved going to a good restaurant, but always waited until you ordered first and then she would either order the same thing you did or decided that what you ordered was better than what she ordered.
– A mom who blew a whistle to call us home.
– A lover of a noisy house full of kids.
– How she insisted that our father (who went to bed early and got up early) get out of bed, get dressed and go get the kids at some friend’s party.
– How she was constantly embarrassed by her kids and her husband who loved to wear shorts and sandals when they went out to eat while on vacation.
– How she would laugh and poke us.
– We called her “MA” all the time, which drove her crazy. 
– That some of our friends would also call her “ma”.
– Always avoiding a camera.
– Her constant reference to her eyes in the back of her head.
– Her warnings that the neighbors were watching every time she and dad were going out.
– Her fear of dogs. One day she was screaming in front of her hairdressers shop because she was being attacked by a dog.  When he came outside he found a small dog barking at her.  The hairdresser never forgot that incident.
– She couldn’t swim and yet we had a swimming pool.
– Chicken and beef bouillon cubes.
– A lover of Soap Operas. We had 5 TV’S in the house when we were growing up all tuned to the soaps as she cleaned house.
– The never ending pile of ironing.
– She was always weeding around the pool even though in the spring she couldn’t tell the weeds from the flowers.
– Confounded that all Gail ever wanted for school lunch was baloney sandwiches.
– A mother always in the kitchen.
– She was always trying things she read in magazines.
– A collector of nail polish and lipstick.
– A keeper of a fabulous button collection.
– How she was never able to finish her meals.  She said she lost her appetite when cooking.
– Into dry milk and Carnation Instant Breakfast.
– Always holding her gloves instead of wearing them.
– Her ability to get bank tellers to fill out the bank slips for her by telling them she couldn’t see well.
– A lover of Chinese food with hot sauce.
– One who never threw things out.
– Her improving communication skills throughout her life.
– She never got behind the wheel of a car (thank God).
– The many hot flashes.
– She would often light a fire when we took our winter baths.
– Our friend.
– Always remembering when to send anniversary cards … but sometimes getting the spouses names wrong.
– Able to get folks to reach for things for her.
– Her sadness when people on the bus started giving her their seat.
– Her getting shorter.
– A person always aiming to please.
– Her many hilarious mistakes. One time she kept complaining about the cricket in her apartment that was keeping her awake.  It was her smoke detector that had a bad battery.
– Her shyness about attention and publicity.
– She was always ready to go to the movies on 5 minutes notice.
– A card player who could never remember the rules.  When playing bridge she frequently confused the opponents by her bidding because they didn’t realize that she just couldn’t remember the conventions.
– She would only sing with the dog.
– In attendance of a Bible study for a number of years to please her daughter.
– Always being told not to read in the dark, to close the refrigerator door (we could have used more of that one), to get our hair out of our eyes, not to walk on the wet floor, to stand up straight; and many more.
– She never wanted telephone calls from us to end.
– Her embarrassing remarks. Once during a free hearing test for the elderly she told the woman conducting the test that she did not have to yell at her.  Another time when taking an eye test she kept repeating the last line of the eye chart for the doctor even though not being asked.  Of course she was reading it wrong.
– Always saying goodbye to her kids who had to fly home to other places. That got harder as the years went on.
– Someone who thought 5 day underarm deodorant pads were supposed to be worn for 5 days.
– A user of very big and sturdy boxes of Kleenex, some of which were always kept up her sleeve.
– The keeper of a full array of vitamins.
– Her love of aprons and housecoats that had pockets.
– The many lists, notes, and reminders…..
– Walking to the store for “something” EVERY DAY.  Many times as we returned she would remember something new that she needed for dinner.
– Married in a maroon velvet dress with a white lace collar.
– Constantly wanted to feed us – never wanted to eat alone.
– Always mixing up our names. How very proud she was of her kids.
– How her arthritis pains would disappear when she saw any of her grandchildren.
– Her response: “you little stinker”.
– She always tried to cut her face out of pictures because she didn’t look beautiful anymore.
– When taking your hand to cross the street she would comment on your chapped hands.
– You had to drag her to a party – but once there she would always enjoy herself immensely.
– She hated to see doctors (except for Dr. Simon our old family doctor) because all they ever wanted to do was put you in a hospital.  When she first came to LA and Fred took her to see his doctor for the first time.  He put her in the hospital that afternoon.
– The neighbor’s observation after only two meetings: “Easy to feel close to because she was so friendly & cheerful.  Her smile and sense of humor will be deeply missed.”
– She always said that she would never live with any of her kids after dad died.  She kept her word.  She died six weeks before moving in with her son.
– Her last words to Fred (said with a smile) before going to sleep the night of her death – “you had garlic for dinner didn’t you?”

Our mother lost the beauty of her youth,
but she never lost the inner beauty of her spirit.
Our mother is – Safe with God now – and she will be greatly missed.

Two is One Too Many

Many years ago I purchased my first answering machine.  I really liked having an answering machine; you never missed a call, you could retrieve the message from anywhere and you could stay connected.  Life was good. 

Some time later I added Call Waiting to my phone.  Call Waiting was also a “must have” for a telephone addict like me.  Now I really never missed a call.  What I didn’t know at that time is that the more technology you have the more decisions there are to make. 

So how could an answering machine and call waiting possibly complicate my life?  In Dorey Storyland it’s all too easy.

One day I was calling my friend Ann about playing tennis.  The phone rang a few times and her answering machine chimed in with her recorded message.  That’s when my Call Waiting alerted me that someone was calling me. 

Decision time: Do I stay on the line and leave a message or do I take the incoming call?  I was immobilized with indecision for awhile but finally decided to take the incoming call.  I hit the “Flash” key and moved on.

Sometime later I received an unusual phone call.  A woman called me and said that I had left a really strange message on her answering machine.  I was puzzled, so she played the message for me.  It was the recorded message from my answering machine. 

Ohhhhhhh…… I finally figured out that I was speaking with Ann’s roommate.

Apparently, when I had decided to take the incoming call, Ann’s machine started recording and my answering machine started to give my recorded message.  I could never have done that if I had tried – the timing was perfect.  Also – I never heard a thing and that’s part of the mystery to me.

This happened a long time ago in the days before home computers.  Now my software acts like children vying for my attention with all the questions.  I don’t think that my decision making has improved one bit over the years.  Maybe it has but there are so many more decision that I still feel stuck at the same level of technological bondage.

I do know that I’ve had lots of opportunities to learn patience, perseverance and outright determination when it comes to slugging it out in the techno world.  I am forever swimming upstream, but that which doesn’t kill you “worketh character” I suppose. 

One thing that I did learned from this experience: When it comes to technology, two is one too many for me.