Dana lives in Seattle, and Tracie lives in Germany. We are businesswomen, writers and humorists. We write about life, dating, and today's modern women.
I recall the pure exhilaration my parents expressed watching the legendary Lena Horne perform Believe in Yourself from the movie, The Wiz. They were so moved by this production, feeling the words, and embracing the lyrics as a way of life.
“If you believe within your heart you’ll know
That no one can change
The path that you must go
Believe what you feel
And know you’re right because
The time will come around
When you’ll say it’s yours”
This past weekend, I enjoyed a documentary on Netflix with my mother entitled ‘In Our Mothers’ Gardens’, which showed how maternal lineages have shaped generations of Black women.
One line and lesson that caught my attention in the show was, Imposter’s Syndrome. I shared with my mother how blessed I felt that even though she and my father were not of an era of social media, paid influencers, and reality television, they were their own trailblazers, and never imposters. God really did throw away the mold when He created them. They were never afraid to claim it and say, “The time will come around when you’ll say it’s yours.”
One of the biggest gifts our parents gave my siblings and me was to own our own flavor and not to have Imposter’s Syndrome. I am reminded of this every time my sister and I are together. We are so very much alike being born into the same household with the morals, judgements, and faith based beliefs, yet our styles and interest do not mirror each other. Whereas Tracie is definitely more flamboyant in her attire, I’m more refined. Tracie finds bliss in her solitude, I am more social. A perfect afternoon for Tracie may be exploring catacombs in Europe, where I might find bliss taking a tennis clinic.
We learned early on to study those we admire, however, to always know we were qualified to do whatever we desired, without stealing someone else’s identity. Imposters are insecure.
As my sister Tracie blogged yesterday- Stay in your lane, there’s less traffic there. Or as I like to quote, “Watch when following the Masses, often the M is silent.”
BElieve in YOUrself and BE YOU! After all, looking back each day, you don’t want to have regrets.
She is the epitome of what every woman should be.
She is classy, smart, industrious, hard working, funny, intuitive, confident, caring, nurturing, patient, generous, humble, well read, informed, positive, beautiful, a faithful soul who prayers daily, and is age defying in every way.
She is… our mother.
Growing up, my sisters and I nicknamed our father “Pressure” and Mama, “Precious.”
Today, we celebrate this Precious woman’s 89th year.
As we reflect on the lessons from this woman, our very best teacher in life, they are as vast as the ocean is deep.
She does not believe in boasting. She just IS and she lets her essence speak for itself.
She does everything with passion. Be it a home cooked meal – she says, “the eyes eat too”, as presentation is as important as the taste. The laundry must be folded properly, after all these years, I’m personally still trying to get those fitted sheets aligned as she does.
She doesn’t believe in complaining or having a pity party. She is optimistic, and constantly reminds us to have faith.
She is our counselor, and has been a selfless confidant, and co-parent of our children. She was literally a Queen- for the Seattle Parade, commonly known as Seafair, and a model on the runway and in life. She has traveled the world from Amsterdam to Africa. She is wickedly wise and honest. She will tell you the truth, even when it is painful to hear. How many days have I heard, “Your mama ain’t gonna tell you wrong.” As I head back to my closet to put on Spanx and change my attire. She doesn’t suffer fools, and just has no tolerance for intolerance or as she says, “Common Sense ain’t so Common.” She has wiped our tears and allayed our fears. She’s tough, and there isn’t much that she hasn’t been through in these nearly 9 decades. Divorce, loss of loved ones, health battles, disappointments, a Pandemic, business recessions, and life’s concessions when things just didn’t go as planned, however, she soldiers on. Because She IS. And today we celebrate all that She IS to all of us blessed to know her.
Daddy was a musician, and many years ago, his band wrote a song, called Love is Theresa. She Is…LOVE
As we celebrate Mother’s Day this weekend, I recall being a new mom wishing my newborns came with instructions. We weaved through our getting to know each other and non-verbal communication. There was the deciphering of was that a cry of hunger, or a tantrum of wanting to be held? Through the “terrible twos”, time-outs, teenage years and now adulthood, the poem, Children Learn What They Live has been my instruction manual. Our children are born to love and to learn to find love in the world.
The World Lost One of My Heroes a couple of days ago.
Marc, my son, sent me an image of the social media announcement.
And I cried.
Tears of sadness, tears of happiness, and tears of thankfulness. This man whopassed away saved my son’s life.
Dr. Aldo Castañeda joined the angels in Heaven on May 1.
Dr. Castañeda is known as the father of neonatal corrective surgery. He ushered in a new era of procedures for the primary correction of complex cardiac defects, rather than further reliance on palliation.
A pioneer in pediatric cardiac surgery, Dr. Castañeda honorably held the position of 74th president of The American Association for Thoracic Surgery and was the 8th recipient of the Association’s Lifetime Achievement Award. He established a premier training center for young surgeons, more than 40 of whom are now chiefs of pediatric cardiac surgical programs around the world. His relentless search for better ways to manage even the most complex defects defined his program at Boston Children’s Hospital as one of the most innovative and influential programs in the world. And this is where I had the profound luck to find him: at Boston Children’s.
I came across Dr. Castañeda 27 years ago at a time when I had no internet, no social support groups, and no idea that I should do any of the things that parents are advised to do today when prepping their children for surgery. Armed with only a prayer, I simply hand wrote Dr. Castañeda a letter asking if he could help my son.
Excerpt from Incompatible with Nature-Against the Odds: A Parent’s Memoir of Congenital Heart Disease:
“Dear Dr. Castañeda,
my name is Tracie Frank Mayer. I am an American living in Cologne, West Germany. I have read in an American magazine that you have been named as one of the outstanding heart surgeons in America. I have, therefore, forwarded my son’s medical reports to you in the hopes that you can, if you will, with this limited information, give me your opinion.
At this time, Marc is nine years old. As you can see in the medical reports, he has had two palliative surgeries. With his hemoglobin values rising the past years (now between 18 and 19.8) and his oxygen saturation between 77 and 81, the doctors here in Cologne believe the time is again approaching for us to once again prepare for surgery.
With this limited information here, Dr. Castañeda is it possible that you could suggest a particular operative procedure that would be beneficial to my son?
I am sincerely grateful for your time and attention, and a healthy happy new year from my family to yours,
January 14, 1994
A week later this happened:
“Yes, hello,” a voice said through the telephone. “May I speak with Tracie Mayer?”
“Yes, this is she speaking,” I said.
“This is Dr. Castañeda calling from Boston.”
There was a stunned silence as I felt my skin pimpling into gooseflesh.
“Dr. C . . . Castañeda?” I glanced at the receiver. Had I heard correctly?
“Dr. Castañeda? This is the Dr. Castañeda, the heart surgeon from Boston, the one I wrote a letter to, that I’m speaking with, right now?”
“ Yes, I do think we might be able to help your son.”
Dr. Castañeda was awarded the World Heart Foundation Humanitarian Award and has been named an honorary member of more than 20 professional societies around the world. The reverence in which his trainees held him resulted in the creation of the Aldo Castañeda Society, which has subsequently transformed into the World Society for Pediatric and Congenital Heart Surgery.
Over the years, I kept in touch with him, exchanging letters. That he actually took the time to answer my letters still stumps me.
I am extremely grateful for all the awards I have received for my book, and I am so very humbled by the appreciation and thanks from the families who have reached for our story for support on their journey.
And then this:
When I immediately googled images of Dr. Aldo Castañeda upon his passing, I was shocked to see numerous pictures of Marc and me, my books in English and German–even a picture of Mama and Daddy holding Marc alongside his pictures. To be on the same page with this great surgeon, this great humanitarian, this great man is simply overwhelming, and it takes my breath away.
May his soul and spirit be eternally blessed. To say thank you would never, ever, ever be enough.
My baby sister and co-blogger Dana wrote a post yesterday, “And the Beat Goes On” about our dad yesterday that took me way back. Way, way back.
I remember a wall…
At the time I was a little girl. The house we lived in at the time was two-storied. We occupied the upper floor while the rooms, community kitchen, and laundry areas on the floor below were all rented out. Whenever any of Daddy’s musician friends came to town, he or she would be welcomed to stay in one of those rooms downstairs. Mind you, this was at a time when people of color were not often allowed to stay in hotels and be treated to the basic common decency offered to their non-colored counterparts, so they would stay with us. It was more fun with us anyway. Those friendships were cherished. Everyone whom I can remember became family and things stayed that way– forever. Legendary entertainers one and all.
Carmen McCrae, LaVerne Baker, Esther Phillips, Little Richard, Dizzy Gillespie, who while swimming with me in a pool, kept dunking me underwater. I don’t remember where the pool was, I do remember thinking he was going to drown me. Many folks stayed with us, Dani, you’ll have to ask mom who else she can recall. I’m very curious myself.
Anyway, back to The Wall.
The Wall lined the hallway of the entire lower floor of the house. Daddy had pencil sketched triangles and squares and circles and prisms –all kinds of shapes along its entirety. Then, he painted his design in all the colors he could find. Abstract, free and bold and avant-garde, Daddy’s masterpiece became more and more animated as each of the musicians who stayed there signed it leaving behind great big scrawling messages.
How I would love to have a picture or even a tiny piece of The Wall today!!
Dani this picture of the Gerald Frank Trio–is one of the treasures of my childhood. Ask Mom, who the other two members are and if they’re still alive.
The Beat Goes On my sister, always in our hearts…
Property then and now…
Last week, my cousin, Marlon Jones posted this treasure of a photo of his home which sits on the shores of Lake Washington, nestled between Madison Park, Madrona and Leschi. In the late 1960’s our parents purchased the adjacent property, a run down vacant shell for a mere $10,000.
Today, I invite you to this virtual Open House as we look at the pictures from then and now. The landscape of the businesses may have changed, but never that view! Today, you can walk to local favorites, Leschi Mart, BluWater, Meet the Moon or take a bike ride to Madison Park. Have breakfast at The High Spot Cafe or enjoy the best cuisine at Vendemmia. This is the best of in city living.
If you happen to be looking for a view 3 bedroom 2 bath, inbox Brett Frank Looney or myself. We just renovated and my cousin is looking for a great neighbor!
Summer is coming and life can truly be a beach:)
I have been working with my friend and designer, Michelle Peacock, Peacockdesign@me.com to make some renovations to my home.
It is important for me that my home, built in 1902 reflect the history (literally if these walls could talk), while blending the modern aesthetics I find so appealing today. On a recent shopping trip, Michelle discovered frames which we decided to pull pictures, black and whites from my photo vault gathering dust in my basement, to hang on the walls in my music room. I found this treasure of my Daddy, Gerald Frank, an accomplished drummer himself, and it speaks volumes as he and fellow musicians, shirtless in the heat of a jam session listened while this unknown woman beat her bongo. The photo is undated, however, looking at my father, he appears to be around 25 years old circa the mid 1950s.
The 1950’s, we had no television, no computer, no cell phones, the land lines if you were lucky had a fee, or they were party lines, no microwaves, no air conditioning, no ATM’s, no GPS, no bank cards, no Amazon delivery, no fast foods, no Netflix, Instagram, or Facebook…
But the music was always there… And the beat goes on. Take time to enjoy it. I know my Daddy did!
Being born and raised in the Pacific Northwest, I have thoroughly enjoyed having a fiancé living in Tennessee and exploring the south. I have been fortunate to visit Memphis and see historic landmarks such as the Lorraine Motel where Dr. Martin L King was assassinated as well as visit Graceland, home of Elvis. From Nashville to Chattanooga to Charleston South Carolina I have toured plantations and museums and enjoyed the cuisines and live music of the region.
Last week, my Southern exploration landed us in Asheville, N.C. It was over a four hour drive through the Smokey Mountains, which were literally smoking. I was eager to visit this quaint community known for its vibrant art scene and boasting the largest privately owned residence in the United States, The Biltmore Estate. But our first priority was to meet Rikki, Johnny and Grayson, Eric’s niece who after five years of living in Asheville is headed home to Pennsylvania. Being COVID cautious, we had an outdoor picnic, where we enjoyed a meal from a local vegetarian restaurant, The Laughing Seed Cafe. It was so great to finally meet this beautiful family and hear their input on life in North Carolina and our “must see” list. Although the forecast called for 100 percent chance of rain the next day, it did not deter our trip to the 175,000 sq ft Vanderbilt Estate, built for George Washington Vanderbilt ll between 1889 and 1895. Fun fact: George Vanderbilt was Gloria Vanderbilt’s great uncle, making Anderson Cooper his great, great nephew. As we roamed the 33 bedrooms, 43 bathrooms with 65 fireplaces, one could only imagine the grand gatherings around the formal dining rooms. Each room was filled with ornate, luxurious furnishings, designs, tapestry, art, and floorings. Fun Fact: Frederick Olmstead who designed the Arboretum in Seattle and New York’s Central Park did the landscaping at Biltmore and called it the crowning jewel of his career. Visit Biltmore.com
The rain subsided as we ended the tour, so we continued by foot to the commercial hub of downtown Asheville. Asheville is also known for its breweries, as well as farm to table restaurants, chic cocktails bars, and art galleries. Getting an Uber was a challenge, so we walked until we came across this mural and stopped for a photo opt with this nun. I thought to myself… Asheville Eat, Pray, and Love. I’ll be back!