Before we left for Australia, Linda Alcantara, the sweet lady that helps me take care of my home and family remarked to my husband, “Take care of Marsha down there, she is so little!”
On the first leg of the journey we landed at LAX airport for our layover. It was about midnight. Groggy and disoriented, we stumbled out of the plane and began looking for our connecting flight. No signage was apparent so we asked a worker. All he offered was a grunt and a point. I thought, “Is this the way they do it in Los Angeles?” Walk, walk, walk. Still nothing. Rinse and repeat the asking, pointing, and grunting a few times and you will find yourself staring at a line filled with hundreds of people from all walks of life. Oh boy…
Over the loud speaker- “Paging Marsha Stone and Jonathan Stone. Your flight to Sydney has boarded and the door will be closing in five minutes!” Oh double boy!
Racing up to the front of a long line, we encountered a Chinese family with luggage and boxes covered with electrical tape for days. I began asking could we PLEASE go in front of them so we wouldn’t miss our flight. After several strange looks, words in several different languages, hand gestures, nods, waves, and prayer hands signaling signs of gratitude – they agreed. Running down the hallway with flight attendants waiting and looking at their watches and clipboards, we finally made it! Whew! Now we can breathe. And breathe we did for a 14 hour and 10 minute flight.
When we got to Byron Bay, we had an opportunity to do a 12 Step workshop for a community of about 150 Australian men and women. What an amazing gift. As we got ready to go my husband pulled out the shirt he brought to wear and it was so wrinkled it looked like he had worn it on the plane! “Will you iron this shirt for me?” he asked. I looked around the hotel room and found an ironing board and iron. As I got ready to use it, the clasp hung in the middle and the board would not extend to its full height.
As I pulled up a chair to sit and iron his shirt, childhood memories came flooding back to me. I remember my mama having “wash day” every Thursday. She would wash and iron clothes all day long. With her coffee cup filled with Maxwell House coffee and her ashtray filled with her Marlboro Reds propped at the end of her ironing board, she worked, laughed, and talked on the phone all day. I remember Days of Our Lives on the TV in the background–the music of my youth. How I wish I had just one picture or recording of those times.
If she was feeling especially lighthearted, at the end of the day she would make the ironing board “little” or my size so I could practice ironing like she did. I felt so grown up standing there working hard on some shirt or pair of pants. She would praise my work and I remember vividly she would tell me thousands of times, “You can be anything you want to be and go anywhere you want to go when you get big. All you have to do is work hard and trust God.”
I can almost smell the coffee and see the smoke that was the hope of her future – my future. She was a prickly pear of a woman but she loved me like crazy and taught me so well. So, here I am in Australia, smiling and laughing, and ironing a shirt on a “little” ironing board. My mama was always right, in the end.
G’day mate and TYG
Marsha Stone, CEO