She was 93 and, thus, of a completely different generation from me.
But 14 years ago she called to tell me we had some things in common.
That was in January, 2004 after I had written a column to report that I had kept my 2003 New Year’s resolution to be more mindful and write down one special thing that happened each day for the entire year.
It was a very satisfying and enlightening experience so, of course, I bragged to you that I had done it.
Marty saw the story and then called to tell me she had her own 6,800 word summary of beautiful things that had happened each day.
Some years earlier, Mrs. Catalano had kept the very same kind of journal as I did in 2003. She even published a few copies for her special friends and flattered me with a gift copy.
After I saw her recent obituary, I looked in my files and found her little book again.
Her list was decidedly more poetic than the one I had made. And she made each entry into a sweet little prayer. Like this: “Thank you God for fresh, new snow today.”
Otherwise, Mrs. Catalano and I apparently found a lot of the same things noteworthy as the days passed.
For instance, the most beautiful thing Marty Catalano saw on Jan. 6 was the “bright red of a cardinal at my bird feeder.” I said the same thing on Jan. 25, 2003.
I noticed the first robins in my neighborhood on Feb. 6. She saw hers on Feb. 19.
And she mentioned the “cardinals’ cheery song” on April 2. I caught them singing at 6:45 a.m. on Feb. 21 and was inspired by “a cardinal singing in a tree outside my window” on March 31, as well.
Our journals suggest that we were both apparently keen on birds. We each had lots of entries featuring feathered creatures. And it really is uncanny how often we noted exactly the same things: a hawk spiraling across the sky, swallows on a telephone wire, a woodpecker on a hollow branch. Almost word for word.
My personal favorite bird entry was Apr. 7 when a bald eagle flew across Rt. 18 just east of New Horizons bakery and almost directly above my car. Thrilling.
We had lots of flower and wildflower entries, too. Marty, for instance, noted “beautiful, graceful goldenrod” on Aug. 31 while I had goldenrod entries on Aug. 16 (“first goldenrod”) and Sept. 26 (“cluster of goldenrod along roadside”).
This may be boring you to death, but as Marty Catalano and I could have told you, it was absolutely uplifting to concentrate for an entire year on just how many nice things there are around you.
We did not neglect people in our yearlong observations: Among many other listings, Marty was cheered by the “wink of a friend” from across the room on Nov. 12 while I noted a woman at an airport restaurant smiling at every customer on Aug. 6. “I like to make people happy with a smile,” the woman told me.
As you can see, it is remarkable how closely our entries overlapped--for the most part.
But Marty did trump me with her Oct. 23 observation of the fabulous “smell of bacon and eggs” cooking. How could I have missed that one?
And her favorite thing on Sept. 19 was the “neat look and feel of a new haircut.”
Somehow there has not been a single day in the past few decades when I could get excited about my hair.
But partly in honor of the recently departed Marty Catalano and partly because it is just a good thing to do, I am hereby resolving once again to be mindful of the special things in everyday life throughout the coming year.
Jim Busek is a free-lance writer who lives in Norwalk. He can be reached via e-mail at jimbusek@ hotmail.com.