Category Archives: My Immediate Family-i.e. Mom

Here I Am, An Only Child

Oh gosh, that’s embarrassing. No writing for 10 months?! Unacceptable! But after a long hiatus  I’m back. I wish it didn’t take a tragedy to get me to write. It really is a fun hobby when I make time to do it. But that’s a topic for another day. In the meantime, here is a copy of my speech from mom’s funeral on Saturday. Sigh.


The summer before I left for college was one of the most emotional times of my life. I think my mom could have said the same thing as we seemed to be in perfect balance. One of us would be crying and the other would be enthusiastic. Well, at least until mom played “Forever Young” and then we both just cried. My mom would tell me that she was so proud of me for choosing to go so far away to pursue my dreams, but she was nervous to let me go. For the most part though, she bit her tongue and gave me my freedom, never questioning my plans.

I was so excited. Yet so scared. I was leaving behind everything I knew. All of my friends. The room I grew up on. The Chinese restaurant I loved so much. There was so much potential for my future in South Carolina, but there was also a lot of unknown.

So the summer continued like this – back and forth, crying and laughing, supporting and more crying. And then I did something really dumb. I had all of my friends stay for a sleepover that last night before I left. In the morning, each one of them, INDIVIDUALLY, said goodbye to me. It was as if my heart was being ripped out each time. When, at last, I said goodbye to my dog Max, and gave Nikki one last excruciating hug, my parents and I got in that blue minivan and drove off. I’m not sure any of us stopped crying until we got past Gary.

Fast forward a few days and I found myself in the most perfect college setting. Simply, I loved it. The accents were so southern and the fellow students so friendly (well, until they discovered I was a Yankee.) But then it was time to say goodbye to my parents. Gosh, it was hard.

For a second.

After a tearful goodbye, I went skipping off with my first new friend, Tracy, to some party or other college experience, as my parents sat in the Holiday Inn watching me leave.

I spent the next three and a half years loving every moment about college, but also having moments of homesickness. When Nikki needed me, I couldn’t be there. When I got sick, I had no one to pet my head. When the car died, I had to learn what to do. And learn I did.

That first spring at school, my mom came down to visit. We had a great trip to Charleston and ate breakfast next to Strom Thurmond, who at the time was so old he couldn’t button his own shirt sleeves, but was still governing our country. I was so proud to show her the things that I had been doing. It was great to see that big smile on her face until we had to part ways and we both started crying again.

When I was just in Texas a few weeks ago, we had another great trip. We stayed up late talking and laughing. She was so interested in what was going on in my life. We visited a spa and this time when it came to say goodbye, I didn’t cry. Looking back on this, I’ve wondered why, but I think it’s because I knew what I was traveling back to and couldn’t wait to get there.

When my dad died three years ago, my earth’s axis was shifted so off kilter, I didn’t think the ship would ever be righted. It’s only in the last two weeks that I realize my mom’s ship simply could never be. She hasn’t smiled that big smile of hers in three years. She tried to take life on herself, but I think it proved to be too much.

My parents were quite the pair and needed each other. If for no other reason than to give each other the strength to give their daughter the freedom to explore the world on her own.

Last Sunday, when I walked away from them one last time, this time leaving them under a beautiful oak tree on a hilltop in Texas, I did so holding the hand of my prince. I again felt sadness, but also happiness. This is how it’s meant to be. Someday Randy and I are going to have our own babies that we send out into the world. I’m going to continue building the friendships that have become so precious to this only child. I’m going to do things I thought I could only dream of. And when my mom comes to visit me, be it in a dream, in a powerful gust of wind, or when we finally meet again in heaven, I’m still going to be so proud of my life. The life she gave me the freedom and guidance to live.

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Call to Action-One Quarter at a Time

Hey guys. I’m sorry to do this, but I need your help. My mom had some stuff stolen from her house (yes, in Nowheresville, Texas and yes, at the end of the crappiest year ever) and is rightly, bummed. There’s a whole long story here that I don’t need to get into, but I do know one thing that may cheer her up.

One of the things taken was her quarter collection. Yes, my mom is a big nerd that has been collecting the new state quarters since they started making them several years ago. Her plan was to create a set for each of her grandnieces and nephews (and someday, grandchildren, young lady). She had three complete sets and about $75 worth of repeat quarters. I would like to prove to mom that there is still good in the world and start to replenish her stash. To be honest, this is going to help me, too. I’m so honked off I can hardly see straight.

That’s where you come in. Could you look in your purses, pockets, and coin jars to see if you have any state quarts? At this point, I’ll take all states. (Though my understanding is Hawaii and Colorado are hard to find, so double cool points if you can find those.) If you don’t have quarters, but would still like to participate, I could take a couple singles or a mini-sized check and find a bank that will work with me.

I’ll be returning to Texas mid-June for the Dedication Reunion Tour of the Mark Skarich Memorial Road Show, so if you’ll be seeing me before say, June 5, please drop off face-to-face. Otherwise, please send your gifts to:

Maggie Skarich
N19 W24400 Riverwood Dr.
Waukesha, WI 53188

Please send gifts to arrive by June 5, too.

I appreciate that there are much needier causes out there, but mom could really use this uplift and I can’t do it alone. Whatever the total of your gifts are, I will double it and donate to Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin in your collective honor. If you would be so kind as to share this with your friends and coworkers, I would be much obliged.

One final thing-if you do speak to mom, please don’t mention that I’m doing this or that you know that something happened; she would be embarrassed. She is perfectly safe and has 99% of her things still intact.

Bless you, if you’re able to help. Well, bless you, even if you can’t. Go “pay it forward” some other way, k?

UPDATE: Meghan has been so kind as to set up a spreadsheet where we can see what we have and what’s needed. Check it out! Helping the greater good AND learning a new technology…What could be better?


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One Impressive Lady

With Mom in Key West at Chrismas

I have spent so much time singing the praises of my dad, but guess what? I’ve got a pretty cool mom, too. Though we had a rocky time during my middle school years (show me one mother/daughter combo that didn’t), my mom has also become a good friend, confidant and teacher.

This last year has been hard for a number of folks with the loss of dad, but I simply can NOT imagine what my mom has gone through. After 35 years, there wasn’t someone in the other side of her bed. No one playing in the computer room, wood shed, or office. No one to be her partner at dinner parties or to go run an errand for her on his way back from town. Even if you remove the “love” aspect of this relationship, the sudden change to all of her habits would be almost too much to bear. It took a whole year to do, but I think mom has finally found peace with her new situation.

This is a woman that up to 370 days ago never pumped her own gas or got her own money out of the ATM. Since then, she has purchased a new car, totally remodeled the house to make it Her House, and reorganized dad’s financial filing system. (And by “filing system” I mean “piles of paper and lots of bills yet to be paid.”)

She has conquered one hell of a health issue and has remembered how to take care of herself. A couple weeks ago, she told me about this great recipe she tried that night. It was a lamb chop. Who makes one lamb chop?? She did! She was in the mood for one and made it. Go, mom! Additionally, she has figured out that it is impossible to have a healthy relationship with her own mother and has let her go. Finally! The released weight of that alone should turn her into a whole new person.

Most significantly, mom has come to terms with the loss of my dad. While tears are still shed, she has learned to laugh again. To celebrate. To have “functions”, as she calls them. We’ve even broached the subject of her going back in the dating pool someday. Morris women live to 100. That’s a long time for her to be without a special friend. I’m down with the idea.

So on this weekend where moms across the land are being honored, I’d like to congratulate mine. Nancy Skarich, you’re one special lady!!


Here I Am, An Only Child*

So my mom has a story to tell. Perhaps she’s called to tell you. If not, well, it’s not my story even if I have played a minor (not supporting!) role. That will be a post some other time. But the reason I bring it up is because I am on my way back to Texas to help her. And I don’t like it.

As I think we have covered (at nauseam), I had a perfectly wonderful childhood with parents that could afford to give me almost all the time and “stuff” that I could ever want. I know one of the reasons this was possible was because there was only one of me. No way Kid #2 would have received the hand-me-down car or that they could afford high school or college tuition for two. (Hell, my dad would be the first to admit they really couldn’t afford it for one except for the help from ole buddy Master Card.) But what has been on my mind the past several weeks is that they were always there for me in my time of need. Be it a sickness, they were there. I remember my dad taking the day off that one day in 7th grade when I puked (which, except for one incident involving poor Amber’s feet is the last time that happened…knock on wood…) and my mom slathering lotion onto my lizard skin and consoling my tears as I missed my cheerleading finale due to an allergic reaction. There, of course, were too many heartbreaks to mention (boo to you Jim, Steve, Mark, Bob, Brian, Mike, and about 4,500 others!) that were gotten over only from a head pet from mom or a big hug from dad. On September 11 when they were 948 miles away (and terrified) my parents were the only ones who knew the right words to say. And even though he would admit he didn’t know what was happening to me, my dad was my life raft during the ever-present anxiety attacks of my early twenties.

So when I find grown-up me knee deep in Life Shit, I want to turn to them for solace. Mom is doing something amazing right now, but to do it, she needs to turn off her day-to-day mom duties. So where does that leave me? Sure there are family and friends that have come out of the woodwork by the millions over the past eight months, but I want my mom or dad!!! (Please say this last phrase in your best cranky, two-year-old voice.) I want them to come to my room where I’m being sulky, sit on the end of the bed and help me talk it out like they have a thousand times before.

This trip is only a small blimp in the list of responsibilities that lie ahead of me as my mom and I change roles. The parent will become not the child, but the one needing support, and the child becomes the rock you can count on. Randy was pretty upfront when I whined about this and said “you don’t have a choice.” Obviously, as one of seven, he does not understand the “me, me, me” ways of the Only Child, but I guess he does have a point. Just not sure I’m ready yet…

So as I have said before, those of you with siblings, please be reminded how lucky you are. I would have happily traded the Tooniemobile for an older brother right now. Well, maybe…for having car cancer, I sure loved that car!!!

*An only child on the road…I can’t wait to see Up in the Air. I’m afraid I’m going to relate to it way too much. This post is written from a sunny corner in the Atlanta airport on a Sunday afternoon when I really should be home napping on Randy’s lap or at least playing with the dog. Sigh…

Three Hour Tour of My Trip to Key West

As you will shortly see, this post is obknoxiously long, so please visit here if you want to see pictures…We got some good ones!

To use the words of an old boss of mine, this post is not timely nor relevant (shout out to my Alliance peeps!), but it does call to mind a happier time, a more relaxed time. A time full of good, gourmet food and fun, outdoor activity; not of diet-friendly Lean Cuisines and Winter Storm Warnings. That’s right…this is (finally!) the Key West update. 

For the two of you left that didn’t hear my proclamations from the hills, my mom, Randy and I headed to Key West for the week surrounding Christmas (Saturday to Saturday.) We managed to do this with three separate flights in and out. Fortunately enough all three of us got in without too much drama and were all comfortably fed and watered in our condo Saturday night. We had a great little place right in the heart of things. If we didn’t want to go off the island (or to buy groceries), we wouldn’t have needed a car. I’m totally recommending condo rental from here on out for all of my travels! 

While we did miss the big blizzard that knocked out the east coast, it was pretty cool for most of our stay. No swimsuits ‘til the end of the week and even then that probably started this cold that won’t go away. (Well, that and the 1,000s of people coming into port each day on the cruise ship. I have never seen so many foreigners in my life!) Sunday we wandered around town, hitting the art galleries and gift shops and took the obligatory pictures at the Southernmost point. (Which are unfortunately on my mom’s camera…) 

On Monday we braved the high seas (ok, so it was totally calm for being so cloudy and windy) to do a glass-bottom boat tour. What fun for those of us that can’t snorkel! I elbowed my way into a prime seat with all the other kids (surprised? didn’t think so), so I got to sit right close to the viewing area. We were able to see a bunch of neat fish and coral including one he called the Nascar fish-black and white stripes with red on it. 

Tuesday was probably the most unique day of the trip. It was still kind of cool, so it was perfect for a drive up Hwy. 1 to Marathon where we did a tour of the Turtle Hospital. This was very educational, but entertaining, too. Who knew Bubble Butt was a real disease? (And no, if you’re able to read this, you do not have it…trust me, a few extra pounds sounds a lot better than what this disease really entails.) We went here based on a recommendation of friends that had been in the Keys weeks earlier, but I also got mom and Randy to check out a pizza place in the middle of nowhere based on a blog article I found. The place is called No Name Pub on, you guessed it, No Name Key-i.e. Homebase of Originality. The place was unique solely given how hard it was to find, but it’s ‘thing’ was to sign a dollar bill and post it up somewhere on the walls. We guessed there was at least $5,000 on the walls. Crazy! Oh, and the pizza-Top. Notch. 

Wednesday started with girls day, where mom and I went to check out Truman’s Little White House and to lunch at another outside place where I was attacked by pigeons for a second time. This time it touched me. **Shutter!** (P.S. The first time, Randy was around to see. I pretty much ended up in my mom’s lap when a bird came kamakazee-ing into my fish sandwich. That was a good impression.) Getting back to Truman’s house…did you know that the original mascot for the democrats was the chicken? (Republicans were the eagles.) Go cocks! That afternoon Randy and I rented bikes and circled the island. This wouldn’t be a huge feat except for the fact that it was crazy windy. I must say…Randy handled Crabby Maggie pretty well during this activity. (Well, the whole week.) We got some great pictures of the coast though and enjoyed the most perfect moment out on a secluded part of the beach. There were waves, dolphins, sunsets, hugs…perfect. 

That night I talked Randy into a little bar crawl. (Key word ‘little’-we were home by 11…Where was everybody???) Visited three Key West staples-Green Parrot, Irish Kevin’s (my favorite!), and Sloppy Joe’s. For those of you wondering if I was going to mention it…no, no naked bar with my mom and/or Randy. Though we did see a 70+ year old get totally nekkid on the beach the next day. Yummy. 

Speaking of which, we finally got to hit the beach Thursday. It was still crazy windy, but at least we got to put on suits. Even though I was wrapped up in a towel for most of the day, I still managed to get a wicked sunburn. Yah! That night, Christmas Eve night, we remembered why we were on this trip and not sitting around a living room in Kerrville, and went on a sunset cruise. Dad would have loved that. He was totally there. The sunset was perfect that night. The band was great (including the Amazing Grace performed on harmonica…dad’s other instrument…really?!!?) Both mom and I (separately) had one good cry in honor of Pop and then we went back to having fun. (My apologies to Randy’s shirt for falling casualty to my cry, but g-damn if Randy isn’t the most perfect dude ever… Totally handled my falling apart on this occasion and all the other idiosyncrasies that happened while stuck with my mom and me with aplomb!) 

Friday, we opened presents and did one last shopping trip around the island. We hit up a place called the Rooftop Café where I got the Christmas dinner I’ve been talking about since August-fish tacos and a margarita! Perfect. Just what the doctor ordered. (Quite literally…) 

Speaking of food…there were almost too many good places to mention, but you know me, so I’m going to waste more of your time and do so. In my opinion, the best meal of the week came at the start when we had brunch at Blue Heaven. Sampling from Randy’s grits made me audibly sigh and the banana pancakes were perfection (especially considering I’m not really a fan of banana nor pancake.) Outstanding! One night when we didn’t have a real dinner, we had a vacation dinner of key lime pie from Blond Giraffe. We tried both the meringue topped and your traditional whipped cream topping. I vote meringue. We had an interesting sushi experience one night at a place called Ambrosia. (Hello people, why don’t you have web sites??) I officially am crowning myself as a novice in sushi and honestly, not sure if I have any desire to advance. This was good, but I was hungry a couple hours later. (Enter Irish Kevin’s lagers…) 

Christmas Eve night Randy and I had a great dinner at a place that turned out to be a restaurant at the Westin. Who knew a hotel restaurant could be so good? I had a perfect piece of fish and Randy’s French onion soup was delicious (yes…I ate off his plate a lot, but hey…he did off mine, too!!) Christmas dinner ended up being served to us at Mangos where I had a perfectly prepared chicken dish (sorry…this girl can only handle so much seafood in one week…and besides, Christmas dinner must have mashed potatoes no matter where you are.) Randy had duck and mom had fish. I think I won the prize for best dinner that night. We tried to close out the week back at Blue Heaven (yup, that good!), but ended up at Sarabeth’s. I guess this is an east coast chain. I recommend you try it no matter where you are. Here Randy had banana French toast and mom had a pumpkin waffle with raisins and sour cream. They won there. At this restaurant, Randy remembered to start taking pictures of the food. Stay tuned to posts dedicated solely to food after future trips. P.S. I love this man. 

When we said goodbye to mom (and to each other for a few hours) on Saturday, it felt like it had been just the right amount of time. Of course we could have sat by the pool and lounged forever, but it was a great week. Besides Christmas Eve, there were no tears. There were a lot of laughs, a lot of conversation, and a lot of time with Harry Potter and Bella. If there was ever a way to skip Christmas, this is the way to do it. I can’t wait to top it next year!!

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