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Mary’s Angels

June 3, 2016

Remember back when I thought my dad visited me in the form of a small Asian man at the YMCA? Well, now I’m wondering if my mom’s been sending people my way, for years – but I just never noticed it.


Sweet Doris Kouyias, AKA, the Casserole lady

Years ago, when I moved into my home in Glendale, I was struck by the generosity of my neighbor.  Doris was black-haired, Greek and an amazing cook.  People used to jokingly call her the casserole lady because she could always be seen delivering food to one person or another.

Luckily I made her list.  She would show up the morning after she knew I’d  hosted a PTA event and bring us giant platters of food saying, “You worked so hard last night, I knew you’d be tired, so I brought you guys breakfast.” Breakfast is an understatement for what she would bring. She and her daughter, Natasa would walk down the street carrying tray after tray of food offerings, as if I was friggin’ Cleopatra. There were omelets, meats, fresh fruits and vegetables. I would just look at her in awe and jokingly ask, “Did my mother send you?”  She would always laugh and deny it, but I think they were in cahoots.


Barbara Garcia, my other black haired angel.

I’m forced to think Mom’s at it again, this time with Barbara, who works with me.  She also has black hair, but is Hispanic and is my best cheerleader at my retail job.  She’s the one who forced me to really think about my self-talk.  She’s always patient, and supportive of me, and tells people about my blog and my baking, as proudly as if she was my mom. I honestly could not love her more if I tried.

Although Mom may be planting generous, black-haired women in my life to remind me of her, she also occasionally goes for blondes. Just last week a wonderful blonde friend, Debra, who I’ve collaborated with on freelance projects, offered me work that’s perfect right now. And there are my former neighbors Brian and Pam, who also employ me. Pam comes up with at least 15 ideas to improve my life daily.

They come in all sizes, shapes and hair colors. There’s my family that I truly lean on even though they’re two thousand miles away. And I have friends who’ve either been around for years, or re-emerged recently. We’ve created sort of a team of cheerleaders for each other. There’s Mandy, Nicol, Zoe, two Debras, Linda, Carolyn, Dawn, Denise, Chuck, Darian,  and Esther – my swimming friend, who are all wonderful and the most amazing support system.

A few of us call each other, as a reminder to work on things we say we want to accomplish. It’s a good balance of support with a little tough love thrown in, along with a tons of positive reinforcement.  If you don’t have this in your life, go out and recruit a few friends to do it with you. It makes a big difference when you’re held accountable to someone.

Especially if you’re in a creative field. You have to constantly reaffirm that you’re doing the right thing, even when no one seems to notice and the money isn’t immediately flowing in. You have to be your own cheerleader, which is not always easy. There are many days when you wonder why you keep pursuing something. But you do it because not doing it simply feels wrong.

Today, for some reason, I felt tearfully grateful to have these friends in my life. Not that I’m not usually appreciative, but today it really hit me how lucky I am to have such an amazing foundation. Is it luck, or is mom sending them my way?

I’ve read lots of books about how the universe wants you to get what you desire and when it’s right, everything comes together in an amazing way to make that happen. So, it could be the universe, (which I like to think of as God) or the spirit of a very determined short, Italian force feeder, named Mary — or both.  Whatever it is, I’m pretty happy about it.

Mom looking innocent

I can’t help but think Mom may have a hand in all this.

When my mom passed away, I definitely lost my best source of material, but more importantly, my most passionate cheerleader.  Her faith in me was unshakable, and much stronger than my faith in myself. I never thought I would have anyone in my life who made me feel the way she did.

But, thank God, these angels appear again and again, propping me up when I so need it. I’ll be forever thankful to them. I’ve said before that death cannot weaken a finely honed revenge gene. Well, clearly, it can’t stop a determined cheerleader either.


  • Reply
    June 6, 2016 at 2:11 pm

    Beautiful Fran! You are such and amazing, incredible, bright spot in this life! We are just so lucky we get to share it with you. You cheer us on in all of the same ways. You are one of Mary’s Angels, too. And how lucky that we all get to be in this life together.

    • Reply
      Fran Tunno
      June 8, 2016 at 4:29 pm

      Awww Nicol, you always know what to say to make me feel great. Thank you for always being a wonderful ray of sunshine in my life. Coffee, soon! xoxoxxoxo

  • Reply
    June 4, 2016 at 8:11 pm

    Nice column Bruny!

    From: At Frans Table To: Sent: Friday, June 3, 2016 9:49 AM Subject: [New post] Mary’s Angels #yiv1485396908 a:hover {color:red;}#yiv1485396908 a {text-decoration:none;color:#0088cc;}#yiv1485396908 a.yiv1485396908primaryactionlink:link, #yiv1485396908 a.yiv1485396908primaryactionlink:visited {background-color:#2585B2;color:#fff;}#yiv1485396908 a.yiv1485396908primaryactionlink:hover, #yiv1485396908 a.yiv1485396908primaryactionlink:active {background-color:#11729E;color:#fff;}#yiv1485396908 | Fran Tunno posted: “Remember back when I thought my dad visited me in the form of a small Asian man at the YMCA? Well, now I’m wondering if my mom’s been sending people my way, for years – but I just never noticed it.Years ago, when I moved into my home in Glendale, I wa” | |

  • Reply
    JoAnn Jones
    June 4, 2016 at 4:09 am

    Beautiful !!! I do believe in Angels & think God is sending them your way because of your mom, she was a determined woman and so giving too. And remember each of us has a guardian angel who is with us always ! Love, JoAnn

  • Reply
    June 3, 2016 at 6:56 pm

    Aw, Fran… thanks for including me in the list. You have gleaned these angels because of your own benevolent and loving spirit–and you WILL get wherever you are going because of your talent and tenacity (and a little cosmic nudge from God and your mother).

    • Reply
      Fran Tunno
      June 3, 2016 at 11:09 pm

      Love you to absolute bits LInda! Thanks, no matter who sent you!

  • Reply
    Denice Stradling
    June 3, 2016 at 4:03 pm

    Fran … just what I needed to hear today … I know there are angels all around all of us, if we just take the time to see/hear/feel. Thank you for reminding me, at a time when I most need it! xxoo

    • Reply
      Fran Tunno
      June 3, 2016 at 4:54 pm

      Awww Denice, I’m so glad I could help. Feel free to give me a call anytime, I’d love to chat!

  • Reply
    Alexandra Ellis
    June 3, 2016 at 12:12 pm

    yes yes yes. love all of this and you! Being our own cheerleaders is the hardest, but it is definitely helpful to be grateful for all the cheerleaders around you!

    • Reply
      Fran Tunno
      June 3, 2016 at 2:46 pm

      Right Alex? Thankfully, your mom is cheering me on every Tuesday and Thursday! And your example of non-stop spunk is another thing that keeps me going!

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