Happiness at 101 - Part 3

There she was. Sitting on the corner where we first met. Watching as I crossed 1st Avenue, rushing to work because, surprise surprise, I was running late.   

"Hey there, need a ride?" And then it appeared, that welcoming smile that I don't think anyone could say no to appeared. 

Without hesitation, I said "Lets go!"  grabbed the handles to the wheel chair and we were off.

"How was your birthday?" I asked. She turned to me, surprised I knew it was recently her birthday.  "Lovely! I'm 101!"

"That's excellent, how do you feel?" 

"Like I'm 101" We both got a kick out of that, probably more me than her. 

"Do you have a family?" She asked as we turned the corner. This seems to be an important question for her considering she's asked me this before and proceeded to ask me again shortly after this. 

"Well, I'm not married or have kids but my siblings are and they have kids so yes, I have a growing family."

At this point, the way I see it is I could answer this particular question differently every time and she'll never know. This time though, I decided to answer truthfully. I just can't make any promises about the next time. 

"You're the youngest, aren't you?" How in the hell did she know this? 

"Yes, I'm the youngest of 4" responding proudly. 

"I have a son in Las Vegas and one grandson" she too spoke proudly. After gushing about her family and asking if I ate breakfast yet we got down to the important questions. 

"How do you get to that corner every morning? Who takes you?" My concern was apparent. 

"People walking by, like you" she explained as if it was that easy. Her simplicity is blowing my mind. She's a hitchhiker in the UES on a one block radius and I worry about how she gets around.

"You hale them down like cabs, huh?" 

"Yup"

As we make our way closer to her place, she throws up her hand a smile to the people passing by and in return, she gets the same reaction. Are these people fellow drivers like myself? Probably.

"What's your name?" She asked. 

"Katie, what's yours?" I knew this answer but it just felt as though this was our official introduction so I went with it. 

"Francis, pleasure to meet you Katie!"

Little does she know, the pleasure is all mine. 

I hope this becomes a part of my daily commute, late for work or not.  

 

 

 

 

Happiness at 101 - Part 2

Since yesterday, I would have to say that I've been on a whole new level of happy.  For the most part, things in my life have been going pretty damn well, both career wise and on a personal level but after yesterday, it's just simply better. Who would have thought that the simplicity of wheeling an elderly woman one block would affect my life like this?

To be honest, I can't seem to get her off of my mind. Who is she? Why does she live alone? How is she not in a home? What's her secret to looking 85 when she's really 101? You know, the important questions. 

As I walked out of my building I kept my eyes peeled for her on the side walk, and as I rounded the corner heading towards her apartment I noticed a wheel chair in the distance.

Smiled instantly. 

At that moment, all I could see were the front wheels and feet. Still smiling. Pure excitement rushed through me, I was going to be able to wish her happy birthday to her face, excellent! As I got closer to this mysterious chair I, to my dislike, noticed it wasn't her. I mean, this person looked nice and all, but let's be honest, not who I was hoping for. As I passed her by, I smiled as I would to my new best friend and kept walking. 

It's fine I thought, I'll stop by later, I'm late for work anyways. Shocker.

As I passed her building I couldn't help but peek in to see if there was a possibility that she was hanging out in the lobby, but no dice, just the door man. He smiled, I smiled and I kept walking. 2.5 seconds later, I stopped, turned around and walked through the front door. 

"Hey there," I said hesitantly "Yesterday I wheeled home a sweet old lady..." fading out as a huge smile appeared on the doorman's face. "Yeah, Francis, she's a hit around here."

Cue huge smile.

I mean, come on, she just keeps getting better and better, and I know nothing about her.

"Well I know today is her birthday, and I was wondering if it would be ok if I were to drop off flowers later for her?" I continued "Is that allowed? Am I being a weirdo?" 

He laughed "No ma'am, to be honest you're not the first person who has wheeled her home and dropped by this morning with gifts"

"Really?" And to think, I thought I was the only lucky person to have had this experience. Glad I wasn't. 

"Yeah, a few people have dropped off cards and flowers this morning."

There are good people in this world! 

Heart melting. 

"Would it be possible to get her name from you?" Creep question #2.

"Absolutely!" he said without hesitation. 

Francis Weinstein.

Unfortunately I didn't get to see her bright smile this morning, but lets be honest she is most likely prepping for her big birthday party or perhaps maybe sleeping in, god knows she damn well deserves it. 

Whether I get to see her today or not, this is not the end of the story. I plan on making it my goal to sit down and learn more about this person, who in a short amount of time, has stolen my heart. 

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Happiness at 101

This morning was no different than any other. Set my alarm to wake up early, snoozed for about an hour, got up at the normal time, showered, had a cup of coffee, got dressed, made lunch and walked out the door, late as usual.

So far, so good.

Headphones in, sunglasses on, new shoes on my feet with the sun warming the streets, things were looking good so far. 

As I rounded the corner half a block from my apt, I was waved down by this adorable old lady sitting in a wheel chair asking for a chauffeur, without hesitation, I grabbed the handles, and we were cruising the streets of the Upper East Side. I've seen this woman a lot, sitting outside of her apt building in her wheel chair, greeting everyone as they passed. Whether they reciprocated or not that smile never left her face.

"Tomorrow is my birthday!" she said as she turned to look at me. It's so refreshing that at her age she was genuinely excited about her birthday. "And how young will you be tomorrow?" I asked. "101 years old" followed immediately by a school girl giggle.

This woman had no idea how happy she was making me. 

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As we turned the corner I realized I was cruising a little too fast for my liking. My NYC strut was a little too high speed and to be honest, I really didn't want this short adventure to end just yet, we were just getting started. I tapped the breaks a bit, walked a little slower and asked more questions. 38 years she's been living in NYC with her sister, a former NYC police officer, that lives just across town in the Upper West Side. When asked if she sees her often she replied with "No, but we talk on the phone all the time" The questions kept rolling. She asked me if I had a family, am I a native New Yorker and am I happy?

No, yes, and as of right now I am definitely happy, thanks to you my new friend.

As we approached her front door she said the people in her building were throwing her a birthday party tomorrow, "They're so good to me here" I smiled and said "They better be!"

The doorman approached smiling and said "Hey, where did you run off to?" Without hesitation she replied, "I had to stretch my legs"

We shook hands, said our goodbyes and I wished her the happiest of birthdays. 

She was my breath of fresh air this morning.   



 

Just Listen: "Don't Find Another Love" - Tegan and Sara

If you know me and my absolute love for music you know that one of my all time favorite bands is Tegan and Sara. Been a fan since the beginning and lucky enough to have seen them live many times in the past couple of years. 

With that I feel that it's only right for you to just listen to their new jam off the "Endless Love" soundtrack "Don't find another love". (this soundtrack is pretty solid too)

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Photos of the Day

My entire life my mom has always said to us, particularly on our birthdays, 'Stop growing up!' Well I guess the torch has been passed because I want time to stand still and for this guy to stop growing up.

Billy Brown turns 5 years old today and I'm still in disbelief about how much I love this kid. 

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Peace out 2013, you were a real bitch.

Well 2013, I'm not going to sugar coat this, you were a real bitch.

No, Seriously.

I didn't appreciate your attitude for the first half of the year, it was unacceptable. If, by chance, you're looking to redeem yourself 2014 is the time.

Unfortunately 2013 brought illnesses, surgeries and heartbreak that I thought would break me but in the end made me a better, stronger, happier person. You ended on a high note so well done there. New relationships formed, the birth of my 3rd Nephew Tucker (3rd best day of my life) and all illnesses are on the mend so I will say that I was genuinely pleased with you at the end of the year. 

As we do every year, we look to the future putting the past behind us. Leaving 2013 in my rear view I look to you 2014 to keep the positivity and the momentum going.

I'm not usually one for making a New Years resolution let alone a list so lets just say we're making progress already. Perhaps this is one way I will actually follow through with them, considering it's now in writing and on the World Wide Web.

There's no turning back now. 

So here's to you 2014, please don't be a bitch. 

Resolutions:

  • Give More, Take Less
  • Work hard, Play harder
  • Disconnect from social media and take in my surroundings outside of work
  • Listen more
  • Budget...or at least try a littler harder at this
  • Plan trips (after I learn how to Budget of course) to places I've never been
  • Set Weekly goals...reachable goals
  • Be more spontaneous in my everyday life

Goals:

  • Rent a studio for photo shoots
  • Get published...somewhere
  • Be more crafty
  • Shoot a series worth seeing perhaps in a gallery show
  • Enter more photo competitions 

Excited. 

It's going to be a damn good year!

KH

 

 

So I have decided to write...

About what? Who knows but I'm pretty sure something will come to mind as the days go on. 

I have few projects in the works for the next couple of months that I am getting pretty stoked about. I might possibly collaborate with a new up and coming singer/songwriter, I'll be photographing an amazing writer for her book and most likely more concerts. (It's kind of my thing).

So here I am, writing...sort of the complete opposite of what I like to do which is capture moments with photographs and not so much words so please be gentle, I'm new to this. 

As my first post I couldn't imagine writing about anything else but the people that inspire me to be the best version of myself...my parents. I know, I know, it sounds like I'm sucking up to them but it's the truth. I wouldn't be who I am or be where I am today without them and their constant support.  

My Dad actually bought me my first "real" camera in high school but not without a lecture. He made sure I would take this seriously and that this wasn't just a way for me to get a really expensive camera and in the end never use it. Well I kept my promise Dad and a camera has been a staple in my life ever since. 

Not to be a downer but this past year of my life has been what I like to call an emotional roller coaster. A year in which I would never ever wish on my worst enemy but a learning experience and a year of growth in the end to say the least. 

Cancer struck the family...twice...one week apart...So yeah, that happened. 

With that, I was asked to share our family story for a small publication, Minute Magazine who was doing a Cancer issue in September and I figured I would kick off this blogging situation with the story of us, The Henry's. 


Four Only Children

Growing up my mom has always said, “I have four only children.” I never really understood what she meant by that until this past year. She defines us in all our forms and attributes, describing Christopher as kind, tolerant, and sincere; her eldest with a big heart and a good and caring soul, seeing goodness in all. She has Timothy, her thoughtful, capable, and sensitive son with an attitude that life doesn’t always play by the rules, but with patience and hard work everything always works out. She has Melissa, her oldest daughter who is loving, nurturing, and giving; a woman who knows that actions are capable of turning anything around and believing that joys once lost can always be found. And then she has me, her youngest, whom she describes as creative, spirited, and dependable with many treasures hidden within. We’re different in our ways, but we’re all extremely close, and while we deal with life's triumphs and tragedies differently, we owe these differences to what kept our family together and stronger than ever through one of the most difficult years of our lives.

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In October 2012 my family was hit with a huge blow when my Mom was diagnosed with Breast Cancer, and one week later, my Dad with Lung Cancer.

In these moments of disbelief we often asked the question, “Why us? Why is this happening to us?” Well it turns out I know that answer now. It’s because we are four only children who although handling them differently, can handle life's obstacles and never let them get the best of us, because two amazing parents raised us.

The diagnosis came one after the other, and we spent a weekend mourning the hand we were dealt. One weekend to cry, to be angry, to feel sorry for ourselves--but that’s it. We allowed ourselves one weekend to be sad, and then we made a vow to fight. To fight this battle with everything we had as a family, to stay positive and to do whatever it took to beat this.

Surgeries were scheduled within weeks of their diagnosis. Dad was first and it was quite possibly one of the longest days of my life. Dad’s a Silver Star Vietnam Vet who, in my eyes, was bulletproof. The man would do anything for anyone and now it was him who needed support. It was our time to take care of him. Dad was in surgery for 8 hours, only to wake up to find out there was more cancer than we were originally told. The battle to recovery was going to be a long one, sixteen weeks of Chemotherapy and thirty days straight of Radiation. This battle had just begun.

Mom’s surgery was scheduled five days later and was just as draining as my fathers. I think I can speak for my entire family when I say that she is our rock. She is the one who fixes us when we we’re down and celebrates the most in our achievements. Being there for her as she has been for us all these years was extremely important to us. We wanted to make sure she knew that we would be there to pick her up when she was down and celebrate in her achievements. Mom is now 100% cancer free and on her way to a full recovery.

Dad’s last CT scan showed no cancer activity, but he is not yet in remission. We recently had a minor setback when he had to have an emergency double bypass heart surgery; but, to no surprise, he is recovering like the true hero that he is.

During these incredibly long and draining months, I’ve learned that the word “family” has taken on a whole new meaning. For a brief moment in time I felt what it was like to feel my world come crashing down, only to be saved by all the love and support of our family and friends.

Food was delivered, flowers were sent, cards were overflowing the mailbox, and calls were pouring in. Not once did we feel we were battling this alone. That, to me, is a testament to how amazing my parents are and how much they are loved, respected and appreciated by everyone. Beyond our family, they had a lot to fight for.

A fight they made with their four children at their side, a fight that mom says their children responded to with much love and support. “Christopher was there whenever he was needed, anytime and any place. Timothy doing whatever he could to make us most comfortable, Melissa keeping everything and everyone in place so all would run smoothly, and Katie entertaining us and putting levity on our cancers and in our lives. With this combination of supportive personalities we made it. I have been blessed with four only children, each different and all sent by God to make me a very proud Mom.”

And we have been blessed with a Mom and a Dad who make us proud. I am blessed to be part of “four only children” who wouldn’t be who we are if not for them.