Boy, I wish my dad was still alive so I could ask him if he remembers your unfortunate Sun. morning as an altar boy with the candle at Refuge. He was the head usher at Our Lady of Refuge forever and I'm sure he would have laughed out loud as I did when I read your description. It's a great book and I'm so glad I went right out and bought it after reading a review in last Sunday's "Detroit Free Press". Can't wait to pass it on to my other siblings who attened Refuge. What a walk down memory lane. When the Felicians took us to see the convent it certainly convinced me being a nun was NOT in the cards for me. Every year we walked over to O.L. St. Mary's for our "field trip". Those awful blue plaid uniforms with the peter pan collar blouses and "hot lunch day", it all came back to me. Your book is a wonderful tribute to your dad and helped me remember my dad and how dedicated he was to the church too. Thank you for writing it.
I was going to try to e-mail you but didn't no how. I just wanted to tell you how much I enjoyed your book The Longest Trip Home. One of the most enjoyable things about reading it were the similarities between your childhood and mine. I moved to West Bloomfield when I was 9. Many of my good friends went OLR. We lived just down the road from your family behind W. Bloomfield HS off Orchard Lk Rd. I was about eleven years behind you (my freshmen year was the last year for Mr. Calvin - I think he had really mellowed by his last year, the times in the late 70's were awe inspiring to my friends and I when we were getting ready to attend, I guess those times wore him down). I spent my summers at Dodge Park (later when I was older, I to was forbidden from hanging out at the beach park) and attending the great fireworks on Pine Lake. However, I caddied at Tam O' Shanter golf course(hard work). Sylvan Lanes and St. Mary's College all brought back great memories. My mom still will stop and say a prayer at the outside alter right by the lake on St. Mary's campus when we are driving by from my sister's house. I've since been moved away for many years and many things have changed, but many things have stayed the same.
I especially enjoyed the fact that you used to write for CM Life. I spent many mornings after class (and during) in the student Union reading that paper. I wished you would have expanded more on your time in Mount Pleasant. You were there in the good old days (End of the World, ring a bell), but it was a great place to go to school even when I attended.
Well, I'm probably rambling at this point. My wife and I really like your books. We read the younger children's version (of Marley & Me) to our 8 yr. old daughter so you have another fan.
Hope your family has a great Thanksgiving.
The Longest Trip Home was recommended to me by Dr. Franklin's PA, Danielle, because of your mentions of our hospital. I am a Registered Nurse at St. Joes in Pontiac, and I have been through the cancer fight with my own father and we are so blessed that he won the fight and is still living. I am honored to work with the staff members you talk about in the book. We are the same age, and I lived many of the same struggles as you and your family-the rebellion, the Catholic conundrum, parental guilt trips and now part of the sandwich generation. Bless you for sharing your story. I cried like a baby as I recalled my fathers best and worst moments and the loss of my own mother at Christmastime. When they make this into a movie, please come back to St. Joes and visit.
As a former foster home for Great Dane Rescue of N. TX, I have had the chance to care for a variety of Marleys! Many dogs when they first come into rescue need "adjustment" to living indoors. Needless to say, I related to MANY of your Marley stories. One Dane, Pita Pie (Pita stood for Pain In The A) had a SEVERE thunderstorm anxiety and yes, blinds ripped down, solid wood doors carved in, new chair cushions shredded, etc. I finally adopted her as my own after she was returned to rescue 3 times. I still get weather alerts on my phone and even though she has been gone 6 years, feel like I need to rush home to slip her a sedative. Another "Marley" was Mary Kate (pictured in one of her deep sleeps). She was a POG (Pig/Dog). She was deaf and I think it must have increased her other senses. She could hunt down food and eat it stealth-like. She ate an entire loaf of garlic bread (her burp in my sleeping face gave her away), and a full plate of individually saran-wrapped gooey butter bars...only thing left was the plate she carried through the two doggie doors to the back-yard. In spite of ALL the material things I have lost, and messes I have had to clean up, I wouldn't trade it for the world. The love on a dog is truly priceless. Thanks for sharing your story with the world.
A story from Regina Hanlon about Longest Trip Home
Shame on you! On page 8 of "The Longest Trip Home" you say the Immaculate Conception -- the Holy Spirit had miraculously planted the seed of God's only begotten son into the Virgin Mary's womb.
It was the Blessed Virgin Mary who was free of original sin.
A story from Mary about Marley ( Black Lab)
Sorry I didn't have a picture on this computer!
My daughter LOVES your books. We just bought 2 of them this weekend and I have already read both of them to her at least 5 times she loves them. Please keep coming out with them. We also have a lab named Marley and he will just sit there and look at me as I read them to her. The movie was great. I couldn't imagine what you and your family went through I cried all through the end of the movie. He seemed like he was a very spirited dog!
A story from Paul Mellerowicz about More about me....
While we lived in Detroit, I and my three brothers attended the all boys boarding school Orchard Lake, St. Mary's Prep. You probably stepped on the grounds many times. I graduated with my twin brother John in 1972.
Dad was a tool and die supervisor at Chrysler on Mack Ave. Mother was stay at home. We never took away "vacations" so we were ahead of the time with today's "Stay-cations" Life on Hammond Lake was fine for me as I had (and still have) a high level of contentment... I must have got that from my conservative, self denying Dad. He is now in peace with the Lord on the other side. Not in Purgatory.
Dad was a forever Usher at St. Bart's in Detroit, then at Refuge. He and Mother would then always count the offering money after every Sunday Mass, comming home about 2:00PM. Call that dedication or nothing else better to do on a Sunday afternoon, depending on one's point of view.
Looks like I will be reading your book, "The Longest Trip Home" I hope it is at the West Bloomfield Library as I'm too cheap to buy it. Another habit I got from Dad.
As a parting note. my mother Irene still drives at the age of 91. Mostly to Refuge and La Rose Market. Never got a ticket in her life... so far. How's that for a legacy.
A story from Mary about My dog Hero
John, Bless you, for loving Marley, for sharing him and your family with us. Maybe someday I can share my story but not today, not yet. My heart is too heavy, too sad. I am sending a poem my husband wrote for me, it was framed and sitting on the kitchen counter one day. We are breeders of AKC field champion lab retrievers so I was able to have my 1st dog as a pup from birth, or maybe I should say he had me. Many tough times we had, some I did not know if my Hero would survive, some I doubted I would survive! But survive we did, for only 6 short years. You are a fantastic writer, and Marley and Me really brings pictures into ones' mind as it is being read. Next time you go and visit Marleys final resting spot please ask him to play with my Herodog. I am sure both are sitting by the Rainbow Bridge waiting for us. Mary
A story from Nancy DePasquale about Catholic School
I just finished reading, "The Longest Trip Home" and it touched me immensely. In 1961, I entered my local parochial school. You know what that means; nuns in habits, boys disciplined in the "cloak" room, and perfect handwriting. Yet, it was so much more. A home away from home and a safe haven. A place to learn, grow, make life-long friends.
It's hard not to be judgmental about the struggles and conflicts in the Catholic church. I envy your parents. Their faith was a gift.
It's also hard to take some things for granted. My catholic school has been in existence since 1853. Recently, we learned that we are on an "at-risk" list to close 31 schools in the archdiocese. It was a shock because though we're old, we have good bones.
I think we are going to survive. We rallied, prayed, retooled, and submitted our proposal.
The outpouring of love and support from our families, parishioners, and graduates is overwhelming. One graduate emailed me from Iraq to see how I was holding up. I guess I didn't mention that I'm the 8th grade teacher and that in 1961 I was a first grader. I like to confuse people when they ask how long I've been at St. Mary's and see them trying to do the math when I tell them since 1961.
Thank you for your books and for letting me express my emotions about a very special place.
A story from Jo Frock about The longest Trip Home and stone houses in PA
Dear John, I just finished The Longest Trip Home. I loved the book and at times could not put it down. I think it is the only book I have ever read that made me laugh out loud, made me smile often, that I could so relate to in numerous ways and the made me cry in the end, all in the span of a few hundred pages. Also, I know eastern Pennsylvania well and own a 200 year old stone farmhouse together with my sister. It is the house where we grew up in Chester County not far from Pottstown. THank you for this memoir, so well written, warm and humanly told. I look forward to your next book! Jo Frock Olney Maryland
A story from Mary about Shadow and Jack
Hi John my name is Mary. i am14 going on 15. after reading your book marley and me i could'nt help but cry. when i was 5 i found a black lab on our family ranch. he ws horribly skinny. we kept him and named him showdow. he was my best friend we did everything together. i could have had the worst day and came home to shadow and had the best. a couple years later i wanted another dog. i got a german shepherd and named him Jack. now i had 2 best friends and i spent all of my time with them. a few years down the road when i was 12 shadow got really sick with cancer. the vet said it was untreatable. she said that the treatment would kill him. we had no choise but to put him down. i was devistated. he was my life. i cried for the next week but soon figugured out life had to go on.
A story from Mary Nicholas about Cooper
Cooper, my beloved Golden Retriever, was born August 24, 2000, one of 13 AKC purebred pups. Our family drove to Elbow Lake, MN to choose a dog for the kids and when we got there it was feeding time. The breeder brought out a stainless steel pan, roughly the size of a small UFO, and filled it with chow for the litter. When the pups scrambled to feed, I noticed one pushing through the crowd. He muscled his way to the front of the food line, planted his front paws into the pan, as though claiming it his personal domain, and gobbled kibble, totally shameless. I was pretty certain he was our guy, so kept an eye on him. After dining, he nosed his way over to my husband (now ex-husband, never much of a dog-lover), sniffed at a shoe, and wagged his tail. Needless to say, that gesture sealed the deal. 'Pushy-Pup' became Reba's Golden Alice Cooper... aka Cooper, Coop-Dog, Super-Cooper, Cooper-Pooper, Cooper-licious, Coop-Buddy, etc., etc., absolutely the best dog I've ever owned. Sadly, Cooper's health has been steadily declining in the past six months, and thinking about his mortality has been very difficult for me. To cope, I created a FaceBook page for Cooper where I can blog for friends and family about his health, daily activities, the humorous things he'd done in the past-such as helping himself to the center of a brand new pumpkin pie-to cute things he does now-like going from room to room to find me when he just wants some ear-scratching. I'm guessing some people, those who don't know me well, think I'm a little off my rocker; to which I say maybe so, but Cooper is the only man who's never broken my heart. I have a small book named 'Golden Rules, Virtues of Canine Character', a compilation of photos and quotations. My favorite quote is by Edward Hoagland, "In order to really enjoy a dog, one doesn't merely try to train him to be semihuman. The point of it is to open oneself to the possibility of becoming partly a dog." When I was younger, my father used to tease me saying that the man who married me had better love dogs. Ater five years of being single, I'm still thinking I got the best part of the deal.
A story from Mary Gallagher Williams about A Marley Look-a-like
I prop my feet on the chair while taking in the scenery from my sister’s deck in Mount Vernon, Maine. A mug filled with hot coffee warms my palms in the cool morning air. A window box on the balcony rail overflows with impatiens, adding a splash of color against the evergreens in the distance and the mountains beyond. The view is breathtaking and peaceful.
Underneath my outstretched legs my sister’s Labrador Retriever is lying very still. The only times I’ve seen her relaxed during daylight hours is when she's asleep after playing hard. At this moment she is not sleeping. She’s just still.
Just as quickly as I make that assessment, her eye catches a wire dangling between my laptop and the electrical outlet on the wall behind me. From a puppy’s point of view, it’s just another chew toy, so I remove the cord from her mouth. She’s lying down again, but can a Labrador puppy ever really be calm? Now she’s gnawing on a bone, distracted.
My sister named her Willow due to the abundance of weeping willows here in Maine. I’ve always considered a weeping willow a graceful-looking tree. This pup is anything but graceful. With her chocolaty-brown eyes, she is a Marley-look-a-like from the 2008 movie entitled Marley & Me. In the 2005 bestselling book with the same title, Marley’s owner must’ve been writing about Willow even though she wasn’t born yet. He experienced firsthand how her breed can be a bit out of control at times.
At only four and a half months old, the top of her head is even with the top of my knee caps. One knee cap, along with my shins, took quite a beating this morning as Willow greeted me, her tail whacking like a baseball bat. However, there is nothing like the overwhelming love when coming face-to-snout with a cute and loyal puppy no matter what size it is. After all, isn’t that why dogs are called man’s best friend?
This furry mass of never-ending energy greets with her whole body, literally. Her head, middle, and hindquarters wiggle and shake in different directions simultaneously while her tail whirls like helicopter blades. Dancing this jig, she crisscrosses one oversize paw in front of the other while walking toward you. Sometimes she just bowls right over you.
My niece, Amber, makes her way to the deck and sits in a chair two feet from me. Her entrance sends Willow into another frenzy of wiggles. The floppy-ear canine paces to and fro between us, her tail thumping against our legs. A computer wire somehow gets wrapped around her neck. After I unwind the cord, she spots a chew rope on the deck. Attached at the end of it is a four-inch toy tire made of hard rubber. Willow retrieves it and swings the rope from side to side, bashing the tire against my legs. I’m sure the bruises will be gone by the time I head back home in five days.
My sister’s two Shih Tzu dogs have adjusted somewhat to Willow’s arrival. There has never been a dull moment in this house with these two canines, but now there is more... um, adventure with Willow around. I’m told the older Shih Tzu made it known at the get-go that she would not partake in any roughhousing. Hence, Buddy, the two-year-old Shih Tzu, had no problem stepping up to the challenge. Thinking he’s as big as the Labrador, this diminutive male instigates a lot of the mayhem involving Willow. He has a habit of running under the kitchen table as the overgrown pup follows in hot pursuit, barreling through chair legs and unsettling anything in her path. I hate to use a cliché, but Willow is the ultimate bull in a china closet. At times, I think Buddy stirs up a ruckus on purpose just to get her in trouble.
I don’t know if Willow will ever learn any refined doggie manners such as not inhaling the whole bowl of water when she gulps. However, her companionship and exuberance will be cherished by my nieces for years to come.
In the meantime, her never-ending shenanigans will leave her humans scratching their heads, wondering what’s coming next.
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