Gloria Ferris

one woman’s view from a place by the zoo in the city

Archive for the ‘family’ Category

Letters and Their Meaning over Time

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Over the past few weeks I have been thinking of the letters I have written, sent and unsent, and the letters I have received throughout my life.  The reason for this reflection has been a memory book that my cousins and I compiled for our Aunts-Mick and Connie.

When we began planning the book, we immediately knew we would include memories of Grandpa John and Grandma Esther as well as the picnics and holidays we spent together as children. And then, the Workman cousins asked for memories of their sister Cynthia who we lost way too soon in our lives. I was 21 when she died of complications from pneumonia and kidney failure, so was she. They were much younger, the oldest 15 and the youngest, just 7 years old. 

Their request made me realize that they too had lost someone way too soon. When I sat down to write that short essay I realized that one of the things I cherished most about my cousin Cynthia was her passion for writing letters to stay in touch. When she and her family moved farther away from us, and she didn’t see her cousins as often, she devised a “round robin” letter writing campaign, so that Peg, she and I could stay in touch by writing a letter a month.  She would start the progression, send it to me because she knew I was the procrastinator in the group and then, I then would send it on to Peg, who would write her contribution and send it all back to Cynthia who would then write the next month’s beginning letter, include Peg’s. and send it all to me.  How I looked forward to the mailman towards the end of the month when I knew a letter should be arriving soon.

Lo and behold, today, I received an email from her older brother who tells me he has a box of the letters she sent to him, and he will gladly share them with Peg and me.  To dwell in the past is not a good thing to do, but to be able to travel back to another place and time when you were young opens a connection to people that were very special and important to you and that is a good thing.

How often, when I open a box of the cards and letters that I did keep. I wish that I had kept just a few more of the everyday missives that I received from friends and relatives. I kept many of the letters my best friend Beth wrote to me when I was in college because she always included them with a card that made me laugh or remembered some event that she and I had shared together. She on the other hand, had a mother who saved a box of “school notes” that she wrote to me and other friends. Of course, it again had that “round robin” effect.

The year I had my heart attack I went to spend a week with Beth and her family. She opened that box and we spent a joyous afternoon, laughing until we cried, crying until we laughed because there was some sadness included in the writing of those notes. In the end, she and I were amazed at what we saw then as being obstacles and incidents that had the possibility of changing our lives forever, were in the here and now, not so important after all.

I guess that my intention for writing this post is to warn those of you who have the tendency to purge the past out of your lives periodically to be sure that you ask the question “Will I wish I had kept this letter, note or card when I am sixty four?  


Written by Gloria Ferris

June 30th, 2014 at 2:56 pm

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My Christmas Wish For You

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The other day I created a Rhapsody playlist of my favorite Christmas songs. It wasn’t long before I realized that some of my favorites came to me through my mom and dad. Dad’s favorite  was “I’ll Be Home For Christmas”. When the strains of that song were hummed and sung each day,  I knew that Christmas was right around the corner.

Today, my mother’s favorite “I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day” by Kate Smith is my topic. I knew the song was based on a poem by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow what I didn’t know was that the poem was written during the Civil War.  The popular song was based on five stanzas of the poem, not the original seven with two that refer specifically to The Civil War.

What a coincidence that both songs were penned during wars. War is war whether it happened in the 1860’s on our own soil or today in a land faraway that makes it surreal rather than the harsh reality it is. War is violent, and lately, we have experienced an act of unspeakable horror in a town in Connecticut that turned violence on 10 small children and six of their teachers who will never sit down to Christmas dinner again with their loved ones.

Today, the SEVEN stanzas of this poem seem appropriate. Against the harsh reality of war, we again hear God’s promise of “Peace on Earth Good will To Men” Here is the original poem with all seven stanzas.

"Christmas Bells"

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

I heard the bells on Christmas Day
Their old familiar carols play,
And wild and sweet
The words repeat
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!
And thought how, as the day had come,
The belfries of all Christendom
Had rolled along
The unbroken song
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!
Till, ringing, singing on its way,
The world revolved from night to day,
A voice, a chime
A chant sublime
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!
Then from each black accursed mouth
The cannon thundered in the South,
And with the sound
The carols drowned
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!
It was as if an earthquake rent
The hearth-stones of a continent,
And made forlorn
The households born
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!
And in despair I bowed my head;
"There is no peace on earth," I said;
"For hate is strong,
And mocks the song
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!"
Then pealed the bells more loud and deep:
"God is not dead; nor doth he sleep!
The Wrong shall fail,
The Right prevail,
With peace on earth, good-will to men!"


My Christmas wish to all of you:

the faith to know that some day this will be. 

Written by Gloria Ferris

December 25th, 2012 at 10:08 am

Reflections On Christmas Eves Past And Christmas Present

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Today, my mind keeps wandering to Christmas Eves of my childhood when we gathered at Grandma and Grandpa Shearer’s for dinner, a gift exchange, and best of all, the Christmas Eve Candlelight service at Saint John’s Lutheran Church in McZena Ohio or as my cousin Jack earlier today reminded me “Dogtown USA”.


St. John's Church

With full stomachs, wearing new gloves and scarves, clutching toys or whatever we were given during the gift exchange we set off on foot to walk up the hill to the church.  When we arrived, many of the adults with us joined the choir at the front of the church.  I remember the quiet, the smell of pine, and the beautiful candles in the windows.

When the service was ended, the little ones were carried on shoulders while those of us big enough to walk  began the long, silent trek home through the starlit night. Sometimes, moonlight glistened on the Christmas snow, but most times it was just cold.  Suddenly, the silence would be broken when someone broke into song. We sang for warmth and to remember the beautiful Story of the Nativity comfortable in the promise of “Peace on Earth, Goodwill To Men”.

Many years have passed since those Christmas Eves of long ago, but tonight, Tim and I will venture out into the snow to attend Christmas Eve Mass at the Cathedral of Saint John the Evangelist. I believe for me  this tradition began long ago when my Grandma Shearer made it an essential part of every family Christmas celebration. I am so thankful for her example of what is important during the Christmas season.   


Shearer Homestead

Written by Gloria Ferris

December 24th, 2012 at 8:08 pm

Celebrating The Life Of A Dear Friend, Gloria Janos

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Earlier today, we gathered at the Wischmeyer-Busch Funeral home to say good bye to our dear friend and neighbor, Gloria Janos.  Although our reason for being together was a sad one, it allowed many of us who had not seen each other for years to catch up, reminisce and mourn our friend.

Her son, Jamie asked Father Bob Andrew to officiate and asked Jim Rokakis, Tim and me to say a few words about his mother.

Here is what I said about a wondeful lady who I am proud to call “friend”.

When Rev. David Bahr replied to my email telling him of the event that has brought us all here today, he replied “what can you say about a neighborhood institution who will be missed by many?”  It made me realize that words are inadequate for me to recount my years of friendship with this incredible lady.

When searching for the proper words, I found three-elegant, security, community that provide a window to the world I shared with Gloria.

Elegance-Her elegance was apparent as she walked the neighborhood with her dog Beau by her side for years or when she represented our neighborhood at city gatherings. Her home was an eclectic array of family photos, antiques, and mementos that were an open book of the four generations that called it their homestead.

Security- My first choice for this second word was safety but when I ran down the list of all the things this woman started in our neighborhood to make us feel safe and secure, I decided security described things more completely. From her founding of Archwood Denison Concerned Citizens , now called the Brooklyn Centre Community Association, BCCA for short, her relationship with Commander Baeppler, the community officers, the gang unit, and her leadership with Court Watch made it so our community knew what to do, when to do it, and how to do it effectively.

Community-Most of all, to me, Gloria embodied community. When I moved into the neighborhood she immediately welcomed me into the fold asking me to become involved in the first Christmas Candlelight Tour for the neighborhood. This would become one of our many collaborations over the years. More important, to a county girl relocated to the city were the picnics and potlucks she organized with friends and neighbors. Any occasion was a call for celebration.4th of July, Cleveland Public Theater performing at the Zoo, an out of town trip to Sandusky for a bit of architecture and history. You name it and she called oldsters, inbetweeners, and youngsters to gather together for food, a bit of drink, and a whole lot of fascinating conversation. She made Brooklyn Centre a small town in the heart of the city.

Neighbor Laura McShane may have said it best about this lady “I think the fact that my street last night included grandparents, parents, single couples and kids…sitting on their porches, reading, eating, talking and laughing…counts for something and should make the world proud of the legacy of Gloria Janos. I couldn’t agree more.

I know there is a man who called you Claude eagerly awaiting the day when you would join him again, so I am trying not to be too sad. . You both have left us with so many wonderful memories. Thank you!

Godspeed dear friend.

Written by Gloria Ferris

September 5th, 2012 at 3:31 pm

Have A Happy And Safe Fourth of July!!

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From our friend Barb Spaan, Old Brooklyn Safety Coordinator;



Sounds like some good advice by a woman who cares about her community.  I have heard that the police will be arresting and/or ticketing people who are illegally shooting off fireworks.

This year is extremely troubling for our safety forces who realize how the extreme drought conditions and hot, hot temperatures can be the catalyst for make for an especially unsafe and unhappy Fourth of July.

Let’s celebrate our nation’s birthday the old fashioned way with ice cream, picnics, band concerts and fireworks if elected officials deem it safe to shoot them into the sky!

Happy Fourth of July!

Written by Gloria Ferris

July 3rd, 2012 at 12:35 pm

God Speed, Callie!

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Today, The Ferris and the Mewett families are very sad because our beloved Callie has left this earth. Callie had many fans, friends and family that span God’s great earth.  She had friends as far West as British Columbia and as far North as New Hampshire.  Her family members span many continents  and includes the countries of England and Wales, New Zealand, and South Africa.

She will be missed by many humans but it is comforting to know that she was greeted on the other side of Rainbow Bridge by many of her friends who have gone before her.  It is comforting to know that she will romp and play without any reminders of the age and infirmity which slowed her down toward the end of her life. She lived for 16 years which is quite an advanced age for a large size dog.

We will miss her welcoming bark, her smiling face and her expressive eyes but most of all, we will miss her head placed in our lap when we most needed love.



At Rainbow Bridge

By the edge of a wood, at the foot of a hill,
is a lush, green meadow where time stands still.
Where the friends of man and woman do run,
when their time on earth is over and done.

For here, between this world and the next,
is a place where each beloved creature finds rest.
On this golden land, they wait and they play,
till the Rainbow Bridge they cross over one day.

No more do they suffer, in pain or in sadness,
for here they are whole, their lives filled with gladness.
Their limbs are restored, their health renewed,
their bodies have healed, with strength imbued.

They romp through the grass, without even a care,
until one day they start, and sniff at the air.
All ears prick forward, eyes dart front and back,
then all of a sudden, one breaks from the pack.

For just at that instant, their eyes have met;
Together again, both person and pet.
So they run to each other, these friends from long past,
the time of their parting is over at last.

The sadness they felt while they were apart,
has turned into joy once more in each heart.
They embrace with a love that will last forever,
and then, side-by-side.
They cross over . . . together.

                                                                           —Inspired by a Norse legend

God Speed Callie!

Written by Gloria Ferris

April 19th, 2012 at 3:17 pm

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25 Years ago today Katie Ferris Entered This World

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She was exactly 11 hours and 20 minutes old.  This morning as I do every year on my daughter’s birthday I remember the day she was born like it was yesterday.  Although each year added creates a distance from the “main event” of the memorable Thanksgiving holiday, I mark off each memory and smile just as I did then.

Tim won a turkey from the Knights of Columbus yearly turkey raffle at Blessed Sacrament and decided that we should have his family over for the holiday meal.  He asked them all, and when he had their RSVP’s in hand he informed me that I would not have to do a thing; he would be cooking the turkey.  Thanksgiving was November 28th that year, and as all the “old wives” were telling me the first baby is ALWAYS late. My due date was December 2, 1985.

What was I thinking? Obviously I wasn’t because there I was with my little helper. Maureen. baking pies on Thanksgiving Eve.  After the pies were done, I decided that the kitchen floor needed mopping immediately.  Forget that Tim would be cooking all day Thursday and the floor would undoubtedly need mopping again.  On second thought, maybe I was guarding against a dropped turkey or some such other disaster. I should have known this task was not a good idea when Mo (Maureen) had to bend over repeatedly to pick up the mop and/or bucket as I laboriously worked from one end of the kitchen to the other.  Anyone who has had that first baby will see this for what it was:nesting on steroids.

Thanksgiving Day  dawned bright and early with frost definitely on the pumpkin. Tim’s turkey that year was exquisite and he handled the cooking quite well. For some reason, he retired that year.  The family arrived and just as we sat down to dessert, my mother-in-law Jeanne asked me if i was okay. I asked why and she said that my face was as red as the jumper I was wearing.  i told her that now that she mentioned it my stomach was cramping fiercely. All the women but me flew into action knowing that Katie Anne was on her way. They pushed us out the door telling us to forget about the dishes and Mo and Lady the dog. They would handle everything. 

We arrived at MacDonald House in a record fifteen minutes. Tim says twelve minutes, but I have really never thought that humanly possible.  As we entered with our portrait of a turkey designed by Mo, Tim’s pom pom shaker and our mix tape of Led Zeppelin tunes, we were prepared to spend the night awaiting Katie’s birth.  One resident had other ideas.  She told me that I needed to go home, put my feet up, have a glass of wine, relax, and I would come back tomorrow to have my baby.  When she left the room, I told Tim that there was no way that I was leaving that hospital.  Luckily, the nurse who patted my hand told me that I was going nowhere. She had already called my obstetrician.This vignette happened at 11:30 pm.  Katherine Anne Ferris was born at 4:11 am November 29.  

During my stay in the hospital, I dreamed of that piece of pumpkin pie I left on the dining room table. When Baby Kate was settled in with her Mamaw and big sister, I went to the refrigerator where there was nary a crumb of ANY dessert left.  When I turned toward Tim, his response was”I didn’t want it to spoil”.  I was gone for two days!  I immediately remembered that we had the sweetest “little punkin” who would be with us each and every day.  And KT, you knew I would say it didn’t you?  

Written by Gloria Ferris

November 29th, 2010 at 6:10 pm

Heart Attacks, Strokes, Recovery and More: My Perspective

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Two years ago today I started a journey that not only changed my life, but also the lives of my family and friends. Looking back, it seems hardly possible that two years have passed since that eventful day.  When I woke up in December after spending 20 days in ICU, I could not walk, use my left hand, or stay awake for more than a few hours.

Days, weeks, and months went by and I although some days the steps seemed very small I continued to progress . My amazing friends and family have stuck by me the whole way.The staff at MetroHealth everyone included still tell me at every opportunity that if anyone was going to pull through they thought it would be me because of the wonderful support group that called, visited, and sat by my side during my recovery.

And, that brings me to the perspective  of my post today—friends. Before going further, I want to explain that family are friends and friends are family.  The two have been interchangeable all my life.  My mother fostered that mindset from the time I was small. Since I was an only child, she made sure that I was surrounded by cousins and friends on weekends and in the summer so that I would not become bored and the handful that I could sometimes be.  Ask Tim, he can tell you a few of m “brat” stories as he call them.

When facing a health crisis, I cannot stress enough how important a support system becomes and is.  I am not going to chronicle those important people in this post because I wouldn’t do anyone justice, but I am sure that through the coming years I will write about many of them and those i don’t will know that the reason I do not write  a vignette about them is probably because the connection is cherished in my heart and I feel I do not have the words to properly express the encounter.

Being a friend to someone who is facing a chronic illness can be a challenge, but not if we each realize that one in three of us will face such an illness or be a bystander to someone we love faces the challenges of a health crisis.  Dropping a card in the mail, stopping for a visit at the hospital, taking a meal for everyone to share when the patient comes home , many, many things that take a lot of time or just a smidgen of time can make someone’s day brighter and sunnier.  I know because my days have been much fuller and richer by the random acts of kindness that I have received from friends.

Two years later, they are still supporting me with words of encouragement, conversations over coffee, and including me in projects and decisions they are making so that I can forget my limitations and focus on the possibilities of my life.    

Written by Gloria Ferris

November 17th, 2010 at 9:31 am

Perseid Meteor Shower Holds A Special Place In My Heart

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I love this time of year.  I love summer. I love August, best of all, because it’s the month of my birth. A, I love it  for the shooting stars.  One year, my dad was out of work in August. A strange time of year for no work. No work, usually, appeared when the snow flew. There was no money for a birthday present. Luckily, Mom’s vegetable garden was fruitful, our freezer still had plenty of meat thanks to Dad’s butchering frenzy last November, and the hens were happily laying plenty of eggs, so, my request for corn on the cob, tomatoes, pork chops, and chocolate cake for my birthday feast would happen.  Mom outdid herself that summer with the best, most delicious birthday cake I ever tasted. Having had only eight, and remembering just four, it wasn’t hard for this cake to be “the bestest by far”.   Later that night, my dad took me for a walk.  We stopped on a hill that overlooked the creek that ran behind the house.  I was impatient wanting to know why we were stopping  He told me to sit down, and relax, count the fireflies. I did what he asked, but soon gave up, telling him that there were hundreds of fireflies, and they were moving way too fast for me to get any kind of count.  He laughed.   “Shhh! He said. “Listen to the silence, and watch watch the sky.”  Shortly, the sky filled with shooting stars. To say I was star struck is an understatement. I asked my dad" “How did that happen?”. Very seriously, he said, “I asked God to help me find a birthday present for you.  Those shooting stars are that present. Happy Birthday, Cat.” Years later, in high school, I found out that Dad and I had experienced the Perseid Meteor Shower.  Somehow, I still like my dad’s explanation.

Written by Gloria Ferris

August 13th, 2010 at 4:40 pm

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My New Year’s Wish For You

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Another year gone, added to our past.

Remember the laughter, the smiles, the bright sunny days.

Cherish the friends, the family, the time you spent together.

Reflect on the hopes, the dreams, the promise of a new tomorrow.

Be thankful for good health, for second chances, for all the good that came your way.

Another year waits to become our present, to create our future.

Bring the memories, the reflections, and the thanks with you.

Build a foundation of strengths within you and those around you.

Use each day to make the world a better place by being you.

Embrace your dreams by making them reality.

Dear Friends, on this New Year’s Eve, straddle the new and the old and make the future yours by living each day fully.

And as for me, I wish a New Year filled with health, prosperity, and happiness for each and every one of you.

Written by Gloria Ferris

December 31st, 2009 at 6:50 pm