“The Godfather”

I lost someone very special to me two years ago today. He was an amazing man and while I wasn’t in his life for very long, he made an impact on mine to last a lifetime. Tom Contreras was “the godfather” to me and always wanted me to write about him…and I not only wrote about him, I published his story in my last book. This is my story about “The Godfather!”

It’s not very often in this lifetime that you meet someone who makes an impact on your life, yet I met such a man who left this world too soon on a Saturday night late in December after a night spent with family and friends.  He’s my love’s cousin, Tommy Contreras, and he became one of my closest friends ever since I was introduced to him. I touched base with him by phone daily, and my love and I would “conference” call him together a few nights a week, and believe me, those calls were nothing short of belly laughs, off color jokes, and love!

I didn’t know him as long as his family, yet with Tommy you felt like you knew him a lifetime. He had a way of making you feel like you were his family and I am forever grateful to him for making me feel that way. I used to call him “the Godfather” because I could call him for advice, or even better, his opinion! He loved that title, especially belonging to a big Italian family!

He had a smile that lit up the room, and a laugh that made you laugh right along. He had an amazing singing voice and an incredible sense of humor with just the right amount of sarcasm. He had the ability to make fun of himself just to make you laugh, and he was famous for opening up a conversation with “you won’t believe what happened to me!” And then he’d proceed to tell you about the craziest things that I truly believe could only happen to him!

He was a “gentle giant” with a heart as big as the ocean and enough love to go around the world.

Tommy left too soon, yet it was an honor, privilege and a blessing to have known him, and to have been with him, surrounding him with love, as he closed his eyes and left this world.

He was my “words with friends” partner and I was finally winning! He was the “go to” guy when I needed advice about his cousin and he was my friend. I’ve been missing him, but as his family and friends all gathered together at one of his favorite restaurants in Point Pleasant, Frankie’s, two days after he passed, his presence was felt. I felt the emptiness of him not being with us, as did his family, yet the night belonged to him, filled with stories told through laughter and tears. And truth be told, his body may not have been there but his spirit and soul was. It still is.

He left a legacy to his family and to anyone lucky enough to know him and not everyone is able to do that. I don’t think he ever realized the important place he had in the lives of those who knew him; I don’t think he truly knew how much he was loved; I don’t think he understood just how much he meant to the people he met.

But I know that where he is now, he does know. And he’s smiling, he’s not in pain, he’s happy and he’s watching over all of us…even me.

I hope he knows now how much he’s missed, but more importantly, that he’s remembered with love and laughter, stories and memories. I’m absolutely sure that the immense amount of love we all have for him followed him straight up to Heaven!

I miss this man and think of him often, yet I know he’s around. I feel his presence during a family party and hear his laughter when someone tells a good old-fashioned, off color, funny joke!

He always got on my case about being in one of my books, always saying to me “I’m in the next book, right?” I always answered the same way: “yes, you will be, just waiting for the spirit to move me to writing it!”

And his spirit moved me.

I will forever be grateful to this man for allowing me the blessing of being part of his life; it was both an honor and a privilege, and I’m grateful to be part of some of those great family stories and memories now….

There are moments now that I want to call him and say “Hey, you won’t believe what happened to me!”

But I can’t.

What I can do is close my eyes, think about him and hear his voice.

Yet every so often, my heart feels a bit selfish and I can’t help but think that he should be here; he should be here to be a part of our lives, of our dreams, of our laughter and tears; he should be here with hugs at family parties and to celebrate our successes. He should be here…

But then again, I have to remind myself that he is here and always will be…in all of our hearts and all of our minds.

This one’s for you, Tom Contreras

Wishing you love and light,

~Anne Dennish~

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Tom Contreras – The Godfather

 

 

“When Life Happens”

Life has a way of sneaking up on us with no warning, and we’re left standing there wondering where it all came from. Well, I’ve had that kind of week. I was the lucky recipient of “life” and all its’ glory! And it’s once again taught me a lesson or two and strengthened my belief on how precious a life really is; how precarious and uncertain life can be; and how the drama caused by toxic people holds no place in this beautiful life I’m blessed to have.

It’s made me want to hold my loved ones’ a bit closer and much tighter; it’s made me see that changes need to be made for my Highest Good; and it’s made me realize that not only each day, but each minute, each second, each moment are a gift to be cherished and be grateful for.

I’ve been doing a lot of thinking this past week, contemplating what is and what isn’t, wondering what the next move is and making decisions to change things a bit. It’s a process, I’ll admit, yet with faith and prayer, it’s all coming together; my mind is clear and I’m able to hear the answers to my questions; and I’m understanding that all that happens is a gift from another lesson learned.

Hold your loved ones a bit tighter and take a good look at all that you’re blessed with in your life. Breathe in all the love that surrounds you and be grateful for it all.

“Life isn’t meant to be taken for granted; it’s meant to be taken with gratitude.”

Wishing you love and light,

~Anne Dennish~

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Photo by Anne Dennish @2017

“See You On The Other Side”

I said good-bye to a dear friend last night. His passing came as a shock to all who knew him, yet while sitting at his memorial service last night, I couldn’t help but think of all he taught me…taught all of us. And last night he was still getting his message across, as only he could do.

Charlie was a man that lived larger than life, and embraced every day of his life as a gift. He never liked to sweat the small stuff, and believed that the good always surpassed the bad. I can remember talking to him on the phone about a situation I was going through. He listened, he offered support, and then he said, “Ok, enough of all that. Tell me all the good stuff that happened today.”

That’s who he was, and that’s who he still is.

There were tears shed last night as his family shared beautiful memories of him, yet the laughter and smiles were much more prominent than the tears. As each story was told and each memory shared, those of us that knew him smiled at remembering our own memories, and laughed with each funny story told about him, because we knew them to be true!

Charlie and I had many conversations about love and life, and our spiritual beliefs. And last night he had the last word with all of us as we paid our final respects…yet then again, death isn’t final. It’s another journey for a soul to take, and while he left too soon, he left peacefully. He did what most can’t do: he left a legacy, he left a lesson, and he left a lot of love.

His passing was a “waking up” moment for all of us to realize how precious life is and that there is no day planner to tell us when our last breath will be taken. And Charlie knew that.

His gift to all that knew him was to love long and hard, cherish those that you love, and laugh every single day of your life. I believe that his gift to all that knew him is something that we can give to others, and that’s who he was…and is. And that is what he would have wanted.

I know that last night he was sitting up in the Universe with a drink in hand, smiling down on all of us, and having a good laugh at all the memories being shared! As for me, I could hear him telling me, as he had so many times throughout the years:  “Yeah, life can stink sometimes, but why worry about it? You do the best you can, you love the best you can, and you live the best you can. You can’t ask for more than that. So be grateful everyday and know that you’re blessed.”

Thank you for being my friend, Charlie, and no worries… you did get the last word in, as always, and you’ve left us with your legacy to share with all those we know.

My message for all of you today is simple:

“Live life to the fullest, love big, and laugh as hard as you can!”

It worked for Charlie, and it’s working for me. Give it a try!

Wishing you extra love and light today,

~Anne Dennish~

charlie

Rest in peace, my dear friend!