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Lessons and Lunch and Lunch Lessons
September 3, 2022

If I allow time for contemplation, every experience will provide lessons. My inclination would be to dust my hands of the time I spent with Covid. To feel better and move on. The very lingering effects of the virus itself does not allow for this, besides, I know better. Ignoring lessons just brings them back around.


Over a decade ago, cancer taught me, among other things, resting to heal is okay. Healing rest is not akin to laziness. And I can be assured, whenever I’m physically and emotionally knocked on my butt, it won’t last forever. My energy will return. Eventually.

With coronavirus, the lessons of compassion and forgiveness come to mind. An informed compassion for others who have gone before me in this experience. And a gentle, understanding forgiveness for those who have “shared” this virus with others. Maybe it wasn’t a blatant thumb of the nose to science. Maybe they were just doing their best with what they knew at the time. 

And so, I want to celebrate any experience that teaches me to have more compassion for, and more understanding of, my fellow human beings. 

And with that, I think I can move on.

I was in the land of feeling much better while avoiding contact with the outside world to protect the health of others, when I received a text from my niece, Whitney. She was to be passing through town on her way from Ohio to Wisconsin for a work trip. Could I meet her for lunch? 

Whitney is the daughter of my sister, Susie, who we lost to breast cancer in 1998. Susie and I majorly sister-bonded over our dual pregnancies that produced Whitney and Jessica, just 10 days apart, back in July of 1984. It’s been way too many years since I’ve seen Whitney and I did not want to pass up this opportunity for a visit. 

Niece Whitney


Consulting CDC Guidelines and agreeing upon an outdoor location. We met.

We caught up, reporting all we knew of our family members. We talked. And talked. Grandpa Kenny would have been 90 if he had lived to this birthday on August 28th. And what it’s like to have a relationship with your parents as adults. And how, for her, just fourteen-years-old when her mother died, her mom is frozen in time. As mommy. We got teary. 

I was overwhelmed, thinking how proud Susie would be of this dynamic young woman who sat across from me and what a wonderful Nana Susie would be to Whitney’s children.

We talked about the incredible amount of memory-making cousin time we three Arnold sisters insisted upon. We were total, unapologetic, holiday hogs!

Grandma Maggie holding Jessica and Whitney
A typical scene at Grandma Maggie’s

When Susie was close to dying, one morning in the wee hours, she summoned each of us, one by one, to her bedside, which at that time was a hospital bed in her Ohio living room. She gave us instructions. To me, she said, “Don’t let David marry __________. I don’t like her.” And then she said, ”Promise me you’ll always make sure Whitney and Jessica stay close.”

This was no time for a philosophical discussion about how I would have zero sway over her husband or the adults that our daughters would soon become. I just promised. 

Whitney and I talked about how important extended family is and lamented how once our matriarch glue (my mom, her grandma) was gone, coupled with the cousins’ adulting, our visits had become fewer and fewer. 

But it is our shared experience, our family connection that explains why upon seeing her excitedly waving at me on her way to the restaurant patio where I was seated waiting for her, my tears popped. And why they stream as I type this. 

Lunch Lessons

At this point in my life, there are exactly 8 people left on this Earth with whom I share DNA and the memory of Christmases past. Over lunch, I was reminded of this. The double helix. The thread of connection. How very important it is. How very fragile it is. And how I must mindfully protect and nurture that bond. 

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  1. Losing Susie will always be such a loss. You know I have Anita and count on her support. It is funny what Susie said about keeping the girls close. I tell my grandkids the same thing. Making them promise me they will always stay close. Such a gift being with Whitney. Thanks for sharing.

    • Thank you, Barb! So glad you have your Anita and are such a great example of family (and friend) glue!

  2. Making Precious Memories! What a moment in time for you and Whitney! ?

    • You are so right, Joni! Precious memories.

  3. The tears are rolling down my face as I read this blog that touched my soul. In the past decade, I have mourned the decline in family ties with the loss of each generation. I have struggled to understand why I do not have the the same “glue” as those who came before me for my family or my husband’s family. I lie here counting those with whom I share DNA who are still living…11 counting 4 great-nieces in New Jersey. As the current matriarch, I am torn between believing that it is my role and responsibility to draw my family together vs. struggling to understand why others do not feel the same magnetic draw to make it happen. Life is complicated?

    • Thank you, Judy, for your heartfelt response and adding to the discussion here. And yes, life is complicated.


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Debi Dixon

Debi Dixon

The Universe is guiding me on an incredible adventure: my Plan B. I write here to share bits of my Odyssey, hopefully to inspire, encourage, or extend the virtual hand of friendship.

When I quit teaching in 2014, I could never have imagined the growth I would experience through travel, writing, reading, therapy, and introspection.

I believe human connection and compassion will go a long way toward our healing, and the best way to connect and feel compassion for one another is through the sharing of our stories.

Thank you for joining me here. I appreciate you and may we grow together.

Inspirational Quote

“You must give up the life you planned in order to have the life that is waiting for you.”
~Joseph Campbell

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