Tag Archives: memories

Saturday:) Some Special Memories of Tommy and Mable

23 Oct

“The moments we share are the moments we keep forever.” Author Unknown

This popped up on my Facebook memories from 10 years ago. I only had the honor of running into Tommy, the wonderful wandering minstrel, one more time quite a few years ago. But, his story will live on as long as I keep sharing and keep him in my heart.


With silver hair and a crooked smile
Strumming tunes that make you want to sit awhile
As you tap your toes and start to sing along
He shares each word, and has lived each song
His guitar is closer than any family
And the road, the only home he’ll ever see
But he and Mable have a need to play
Her frame is worn and her strings won’t stay
They’ve seen the whole country from east to west
And the town they’re in, is the one that’s best
Mable’s been signed by many a star
Even Elvis scrawled his name on that old guitar
But the real country singer never settles down
‘Cause there’s another ballad and another town.

~Toni Armenta Andrukaitis


     Tommy sat on the cold metal bench outside a little coffee shop in downtown McKinney. His raspy muffled voice crooned a soft country song, while aged yet agile fingers strummed across the well worn strings of a blue acoustic guitar. Salt and pepper hair brushed across a ruddy bearded face as a crisp north wind kicked up. Tommy reached over to secure the two wrinkled dollar bills flapping inside the open guitar case. He carefully tucked the ends of the bills under the small stack of prized CDs bearing his image and that of Mable, his faithful companion of thirty-seven years.

     Johnny Cash’s, “Ring of Fire,” soulfully echoed across the Square, and Tommy’s foot tapped along with each rhythmic beat. I dragged a wooden chair across the brick sidewalk, and then parked myself a couple feet away from the real-life Texas troubadour. I enjoyed each rendition of old familiar tunes, as well as the original compositions inspired by nearly forty years of life on the road.

     “Tommy, would you mind telling me a little bit about yourself, ” I asked when he took his first cigarette break. “Where are you from?”

     “I was born in McKinney, Texas. Haven’t been back here in over thirty years.” His tone and demeanor became a bit more serious when he described his early childhood. 

     “Yep, I was born right here in McKinney. My folks got killed when I was thirteen. They wanted to put me in foster care, so I took off and rode the rails. Never looked back. Been traveling ’round the country ever since.”

     His eyes brightened and a little crooked smile appeared when he started talking about Mable. “We’ve been together for thirty-seven years now. I was rummaging around in a dumpster looking for cans one day, when I ran across this old black guitar with a broken neck. She was in bad shape, but I fixed her up with some glue and tightened up her strings.”

     The adventures were mixed with making new friends and happy times, sprinkled with the hard hungry days.

     “We’ve walked across all these forty-eight states, just playing music for folks and living off what they put in my guitar case.”

     Tommy went on to describe the nomadic life of a traveling troubadour. “I’ve never run into anyone else who does this. It’s an honest livin’. I don’t beg. I just play my music and if folks like what they hear, they drop a dollar or two in my case. Sometimes I’d ride the rails from one town to the next or just walk ’till I couldn’t walk no more.”

     I listened as he carefully crushed the tiny cigarette butt beneath his worn out walking shoe and tossed it in the trash can beside the bench. “I don’t stay in one town for more than a few days. Never had a wife or kids. Wouldn’t be right, with me movin’ round so much. Wouldn’t change a thing if I could.”

     When I asked about Mable, he said she was named after his beloved grandmother. The old black acoustic guitar with hundreds of scrawled signatures from front to back, now sat in the window of Snug on the Square, just a few feet away. I asked if I could take a picture of him and Mable, so he walked over and took her out of the window. I could see the jagged repair on her neck and her strings were missing.

      “Mable’s retired. When you retire a guitar, you take off the strings. Need ’em for the next one.” Then he pointed out the spot where Elvis had scribbled his name one rainy night in ’69 in Mobile, Alabama. But, he was just as proud of the signatures from a group of women that signed her after a Susan B. Koman walk a few years back.

    “ I decided that it all began here, so it should end here. I’m leaving Mable with Sandra and these nice folks. I know they’ll take good care of her.” 

     Tommy mentioned that when he came back to McKinney after being gone for so long, he strolled along the unfamiliar streets and asked around at a few shops and restaurants downtown to see if he could set up somewhere and play his guitar. Sandra Nichols, owner of Snug on the Square, was the only one who welcomed him and treated him with respect.         “That’s when I knew my Mable would have a good home and a good family right here. They’re going to keep her right there in the window.”

     I was intrigued by the story of Tommy and old Mable, especially the long and loving relationship the two shared. So, of course, I was curious about the new acoustic.

     “Tommy, what’s the name of your new guitar? I was sure it would be another interesting story.

     He turned his whiskered face and answered, “Haven’t named her yet. She’s gotta earn it.”

After taking a few pictures and recording a couple segments of Tommy serenading and smiling at passers-by, I said farewell to the wandering minstrel from McKinney. I shook his talented weathered hand and dropped all the cash I had in the old black guitar case. Who knows when Tommy will be passing this way again?

Tommy and Mable- an awesome video segment on YouTube.


Let’s all remember Tommy and Mable. If anyone has seen old Tommy, I’d love to hear about it. If not, he’ll always be in my heart,

Toni Andrukaitis

Monday:) Miracles and Memories

11 Jul

“We are shaped by our thoughts; we become what we think. When the mind is pure, joy follows like a shadow that never leaves.” Gautama Buddha


July 11th was one of my tragic to happy miracle celebrations. From the worst painful day in my entire life in 2013, to one the most beautiful celebrations on July 11, 2015. Now, every year, a new celebration.

Happy Anniversary to my awesome son and his beautiful wife. Your wedding, your marriage, and your beautiful daughters have blessed me beyond compare.

I love this photo.
This photo makes me smile every morning when I wake. Mom is smiling from heaven. My two handsome sons and my beautiful daughter-in-law.

A celebration of life, every day. Such a beautiful family. ❤️❤️❤️❤️

Amen 🙏

Friday:) From My Church to Yours and Fond Memories From this Day

22 Apr

“The most beautiful things are not associated with money; they are memories and moments. If you don’t celebrate those, they can pass you by.” Alek Wek


I drove over to church today to go to Adoration in the chapel and maybe sketch a little. I saw a lot of cars in the parking lot, so I figured maybe there was a funeral, so I stayed in the chapel and started to sketch the crucifix. I didn’t get very far because I had a tap on my shoulder. Helene, Linda and June were there. I totally forgot that they were going to the big Game Day Charity Event At St. Gabriel.

This crucifix is in the chapel. It used to be in the old church before we finished building the new magnificent church.
As you can see, I didn’t get very far. But, this gives you an idea how crude and totally disproportionate my original sketches are.

I went and joined the ladies in the main sanctuary , where Helene was giving them a little tour. They were most impressed. I also showed them my finished sketches of the stained glass windows and statues. Again, they were impressed. After we talked, they left and I went to light my candle and put money in the poor box, as is my custom.

As I was leaving, this group of Ladies were walking around the sanctuary, admiring the stained glassy statues, and awesome architecture. I stopped to chat with them, and found that they were visiting from Waxahachie. They came for the Game Day event and they were all parishioners of St. Joseph’s.

So, I took the opportunity to show off and showed them my sketchbook. I just so happened to have a few color photos of one of my Artisto app renderings, and I gave them each one. They were delighted, as was I. A nice afternoon at church.

Now, for a few fond memories that popped up on my Facebook page today.

One of my many favorites. 5 years ago today. The newest tiny Norte Dame fan.
Three years ago today. Me and some of my special “Peeps.”

Happy Friday, my friends!

Toni’s Tribute to Trini Armenta:) Another Angel in Heaven

16 Feb


There’s another angel in heaven

Today her soul took wing

She’s up in heaven dancing

While the other angels sing

All were waiting for her

Their arms stretched open wide

To greet my angel mother

There on the other side.

~Toni Armenta Andrukaitis 2/15/2018


Today is the four year anniversary of my sweet mother going up to heaven. I miss talking to her every morning on the phone. But, we still talk every morning. We just don’t need the phone any more.

You’d think I’d be very sad today, but I’ve been smiling, reminiscing, looking at old photos and videos, and remembering the sweetest woman who ever graced this earth.

Love you Mommo! ❤️❤️
Then of course, my favorite painting that I did of my mother from a photo when she was a a young lady.

I celebrated my mother by going to Mass this morning and thanking God for sharing this beautiful woman with us for over 90 years. That is such a gift. A few tears slipped down my face, but they were loving tender tears. I was so consumed in my nostalgia that when I left church, chatting with a few friends as I left, I totally forgot to light my candle. Oops! So…. later in the afternoon, after lunch, I went back to church to light my candle and thank God Again for His blessings. This time, I was all alone in the quiet sanctuary.

Tuesday:)Toni’s Tribute and Ofrenda to Trini and Eli and Family

2 Nov

“Life’s short when compared to eternity, but eternity is only worth it because of life.”

~Scott Thompson


Today is All Souls Day. The Day of the Dead, or Día de los Muertos, takes place on November 2, for the Catholic festival of All Souls’ Day. The festival commemorates the dead, and calls on Roman Catholics to pray for those who have died.

My OFRENDA greets me in the morning, and I look over at the photos and memories of my family. My family photo wall is there all year long, but this is the first year that I created a little OFRENDA of my own. After seeing so many beautiful displays of friends and family, I thought is was time for my own.

I love these photos, and they are a daily reminder of my honored ancestors. Of course, my angel mother is my dearest memory.
Some of the offerings and memories. Flowers, candles, holy cards, Mom’s rosary, chocolate for Mom, and a small bottle of Patron tequila for my dad. (Dad was very big on offering tequila to guests.)

I play a goofy little game in my head all the time. This time it was, I’m not going to set my alarm for 7 am, as I have the past two days. I’m tired. But, I decided that if I happen to wake before 7:30 today, I’ll go to early morning Mass at St. Gabriel. I didn’t go to bed till after 1am, so I seriously doubted an early adventure. I tossed and turned a while, then finally looked at the time. It was 7:10. Oops! I guess I woke up in time for church. I was tempted to go back to sleep when my ring doorbell chimed with a passing car and my back neighbor was having his lawn mowed at 7:15. “If you’re waiting for a sign… this is it.”

So, I jumped out of bed, got dressed and skedaddled to church. I arrived in time to light a candle and put Mom and Dad’s name in the prayer book. It was a good solemn/joyful Mass, honoring all the souls who have gone before us.

“Look at how a single candle can both defy and define the darkness.”
― Anne Frank

I hope you take a few minutes to honor the beautiful souls who have gone before you.

Monday:)Memories and Demolition Day at the Joplin’s

2 Nov

“…the remembrance even of joy having its bitterness, and the memories of pleasure their pain.”
― Oscar Wilde


This morning, I had the honor of joining the Joplin family to watch the demolition of their home. I say home because it wasn’t just a house. The home had been in the family for many years, with endless memories, hopes, and dreams within the plastered walls.

It was bitter-sweet because even though the old home was torn down, a brand new beautiful home will be built on the sacred ground for future generations of Joplin’s to make beautiful new memories.
The cement step that had tiny handprints and loving parent’s guiding hands with names scrawled beneath was carefully preserved by the awesome demolition man. J.P. and the big ol’ CAT machine with its huge metal teeth delicately carried the beloved step over to the front grass for the family to preserve and incorporate into the building of the next new house.
A lifetime of memories.
It’s amazing how long it takes to build a house and how in just a few short hours, it can be totally demolished.
Instead of being sad and gloomy, Jud and Sherry hired a food truck to come and feed all the family, friends and neighbors who came to view and celebratewith them. Champagne and mimosa toasts were made as the huge CAT gobbled away at bricks and walls, windows and chimneys.

The awesome part of this demolition was , even though tears were shed for the loss of an old home and it’s memories, the whole family was there to hold hands, laugh and cry, and even take turns knocking down and scooping up some trees in the big CAT.

Girlfriends! Can’t wait to see the new house and celebrate again. (I’m sure it will be quite a while.) Love you!

Time-Traveling Tuesday

24 Aug

“Maybe you can’t go back in time, but memories and photos can take you back there for a little while.”

Toni Armenta Andrukaitis


This morning, I went upstairs to my library/office to look for a large mailing envelope and a book. I promised my granddaughter that I would send her a unicorn bandana. One for her and one for her sister. As not to waste all that postage on just two bandanas, I decided to mail one of the many children’s books that I’ve collected over the years… even before I had grandchildren.

While looking for just the right book to send, I ran across several boxes of old photos. Oh no! I opened each box and reminisced and smiled at old friends, family from years ago, previous homes, sunsets, and old art projects. Then, I ran across a photo that really made me smile and I wanted to share.

The Reynolds triplets were only 5 years old when I first moved to McKinney. These adorable kids lived Nextdoor to me until I moved away ten years later. I remember this day like it was yesterday. It was a hot August day and I wanted to bake them a back to school cake in the shape of a school bus. I think it may have been their birthday, too, or at least close to it. The cake was pretty ugly, but fortunately my baking skills improved over those ten years. And, my little baking buddy on the right, came over to visit regularly to make brownies. Occasionally, the boys would join us for a tea party or to watch a dvd video “The Dinosaurs”. (“Not the Mamma.”)
Now, these little ones are all grown and finishing up college. Their older sister is married with an adorable baby of her own. We still keep in touch via Facebook, and I attended their high school graduation party and older sister’s wedding. They will always be my little buddies. (I borrowed and edited this photo from their mom’s Facebook page.)

The time sure does fly by, but as long as I have these photos and fond memories, I can TIME TRAVEL anytime I want to. LOVE YOU GUYS!

Sunday:) Signs From Heaven and a Sermon

22 Feb

Three years ago today, a beautiful memory and miracle worth repeating. I was in Chicago with my family, making arrangement and preparing for the memorial service for my sweet angel mother. This miracle from Mom needs to be shared again.


If you don’t believe in angels

I’m here to say it’s true

There are angels up in heaven

They’re watching over you,

So, I asked my angel mother

I whispered in her ear

When you get up there in heaven

Please show us you are near.

If only you could send a sign

As only angels can

We will know you’re safe in heaven

And that you have a plan.

To watch and guard us every day

You’ll guide us from above

So, you left two lucky pennies

Beneath your painting, signed with love.

~Toni Armenta Andrukaitis


This is a true story of faith and love and angels. As my sweet mother grew weaker and less alert, my sister and I would talk to her and sing to her. I prayed the rosary out loud to comfort Mom during her final days in hospice. One of the last things I whispered in her ear was, “Please Mom, when you get up to heaven, could you show us a sign that you’re OK, that there really is a heaven? I know if anyone could do it, you could. I know you’ll always be my guardian angel.”

We’ve done a lot of crying since Mom passed away last week, but today, the crying was a celebration. Mom left us a sign. Those of you who know me, you already know that I believe in lucky pennies. They always appear out of nowhere when I need them most. I always look up to heaven and say, “Thank you.”

This afternoon, my sister and I went out for some lunch. We’ve spent days and days sorting and reminiscing and making arrangements and crying, It’s been a whirlwind, so it was good to get out of the house for a little while. My sister said, “Let’s go to the library so I can vote. They have early voting, and we can return Mom’s audio-books.”

Well, early voting hadn’t started yet, so we just returned the books and got a bit teary-eyed, because Mom loved the library and all the people. She had donated her very large “Cinco de Mayo” painting to the library several years ago. It takes up an entire wall on the second floor. When I asked my sister if she needed any books or videos while we were there, she said, “Not really, let’s just go home.” Then I said, “Should we go upstairs and see Mom’s mural before we go?” Of course, we needed to do that.

The elevator opened and we walked ever so slowly towards the mural.

There on the bench, right beneath her painting, were two lucky pennies from heaven. We both burst into tears as I blurted out, “Here’s our sign. I asked Mom to send us a sign. Here it is! Two pennies, not just one. What are the chances that they would be here waiting for us today, right beneath her painting?”

I hadn’t told my sister the story about asking Mom to send us a sign right before she passed away, until that moment. If she didn’t believe in angels before, I’m pretty sure she does now. We both knew Mom was an angel here on earth, but now, we both know that she’s up in heaven. She gave us a sign.

Thanks Mom.

So, for today’s Gospel according to Mark… Jesus was in the dessert for 40 days, tested by Satan. He was with wild beast, attended by angels. After John’s arrest, Jesus appears in Galilee, proclaiming The Good News, the reign of God is at hand.

My take on it… there will always be temptations by Satan, but if we remain faithful and strong, we will be honoring God and the Good News. We will be attended by angels.

I feel fortunate to be guided by angels here on earth, right now. Amen

Happy Sunday, my friends. I hope you believe in Angels too.

Friday:) Freezing Update, Fun Food, and Friendly Fond Memories.

20 Feb

“Nothing is ever really lost to us as long as we remember it.”
― L.M. Montgomery


Well, it got above freezing today and the sun was out. You know what? It pays to live on the sunny side of the street. The sidewalks on my side of the street are almost dry and clear, while the other side is still icy and snow covered. The streets are still frozen, but I’m hoping tomorrow will melt the rest. Yay! It’s been a crazy ride, and I’m feeling blessed.

Since I haven’t left the house in a week, I’ve been trying to use up stuff in the freezer, fridge and pantry. I took out some bacon the other day. That bacon has been in there for months and months. I haven’t cooked bacon since the turn of the century. But today, I decided to make BLTAT- bacon, lettuce, tomato, avocado, tostadas. I very rarely use bread, (except to keep brownies fresh) but I always have tortillas, and I always have Bernard’s salsa to spice things up. Oh yah!!!

Besides my yummy dinner, and a quick walk in the park with the dog, I pretty much spent the entire day watching tv, checking emails, looking at Facebook and reminiscing over my over 10K photos on my iPad. 🤦‍♀️

It’s hard to believe that just a year ago, life was simple and carefree, visiting with friends and family and my firefighter friends.

Fond memories on a cold winter’s night. Cheers, my friends…

Friday:) Fabulous New Year Ahead

2 Jan

“We will open the book. Its pages are blank. We are going to put words on them ourselves. The book is called opportunity and its first chapter is New Year’s Day.”

– Edith Lovejoy Pierce


When I woke up this morning, I knew that today, January 1, would be the start of a bright new beginning. The relentless rain of the past couple of days had stopped, it was cold and cloudy, but my heart was warm and optimistic. Sounds schmaltzy, I know, but “My perception is my reality.” It’s going to be an awesome year.

As per my tradition, New Year’s Day is the day I pour out all my little messages and good thoughts out of my GOOD JAR. Several years ago, I saw this neat concept of starting a good jar to write down good things that happened during the year. I painted it myself, of course. I also asked friends and loved ones to add a little note when they visited. It’s heartwarming to read all the comments, accolades and loving messages on January 1. I even store my lucky pennies and coins that I find along the way. When I’m done reminiscing over the year’s awesome events and friendships, I put the notes in a small ziplock bag and label with the year. Then, time to start anew, with a brand new clean slate. An empty jar that soon will be filled with more beautiful memories.

Here’s one of the many ideas for starting your own tradition.

I’m looking forward to opening the new book with blank pages. I get to write the chapters myself, and my many friends will be the characters, (I know quite a few characters) and my family will brighten the pages with the joy they bring. This is my story and it will be …. AMAZING!

Happy New Year, my friends!